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Showing posts from February, 2011

My World Tuesday: Mardi Gras

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In the dead of winter, on a grey and quiet snow day when human contact seemed like an unrealizable dream, my daughter and I hatched a little plan to have a Mardi Gras party somewhere around the actual date (March 8) and the end of her basketball season. Out went the invitations she designed at good old Vistaprint, in came the goodies and junk from Oriental Trading, and--happily and finally--in came the girls on Saturday.




For six hours they giggled, decorated masks, put on a whole range of parades, danced the limbo, told stories, made bracelets, painted their nails, and (bless their hearts) ate the food I prepared for them.



I woke up Sunday morning to the quiet that comes with snow. Because snow had come again. It's just as well; Adella needed to sleep in and maybe dream about fun with her friends.

My World Tuesday

Today's Flowers: Pressure

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One Single Impression: Vellicate

Good Lord, no.
Don't touch me.

Stay right there.
Smile if you must.

Talk.

But do not touch.

No, there's no damage here.
No back story
No single thing I need you
To help me through.

No way to elicit my gratitude
And then bargain with it.

Call it a dare.
Touch me
Move me
Make me (sweet Jesus ) think.

Only do it without your hands.

Good Lord, no.

Say something.
The right thing.

Touch me.

I dare you.

Book Review: A Son of the Circus

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A Son of the Circus by John Irving

Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla's fascination with the circus, dwarfs, and his place decidedly between the India of his childhood and the Canada of his adulthood, finds himself back in Bombay and caught in a vortex of people and circumstances surrounding a serial killer whose decades of murder are about to come to an end.

John Irving's A Son of the Circus is not about India or even about the clubmen, dwarf clowns, transvestite whores, missionaries, and movie stars who populate the almost 700 pages of this 1994 novel that followed the brilliant, heart-breaking A Prayer for Owen Meany. Instead, it's about all of them as the 59-year-old Dr. Daruwalla has come to know them through his expatriate eyes, as a visitor, as one who will always be on the outside looking in. Really, it's a book about how these people live in the mind of the doctor and shape him no matter where he is. Even though he is an outsider looking in.

Irving spends the first qua…

Skywatch Friday: A Dissolution

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Here is a view of Silver Sands State Park that I captured on Sunday. It was a bright and beautiful day. Through my polarized eyeglasses and with the aid of my thick-gloved, fumbling fingers, I photographed what I saw, somehow. It seems to me February and March are the months of deep blues and platinum light. Approaching the beach Sunday, it seemed to me that a great vial of sunlight had been poured onto the surface of Long Island Sound and seemed to beckon spring. The air was light and warm despite the wind. In fact, it seemed the wind alone claimed our fingers and toes for winter as the sunlight claimed the rest of us for spring. We kept moving; the light that dissolved around us was very good.
Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: George Washington Looks Both Ways

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This concave sculpture of President George Washington at the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center at Mt. Vernon creates the illusion that Mr. Washington's gaze is following you across the lobby of the center. My daughter and I stood at opposite sides of this sculpture and photographed him at the same time. In both images, he is looking right at us. Studio EIS knows how to make the magic.

Wordless Wednesday

The Butterfly Project

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It amazes me every day how the universe folds up neatly and sits so nicely in this book-like contraption called my laptop. I flip it open in the morning, press the power button, and everything in the world except a hot cup of coffee is right in there. It's amazing.

More amazing is the network of associations that emerge from individual thoughts on individuals' blogs. For example, last week, I posted photos of butterflies at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina, and in the Bronx Zoo in New York. In response, Laura told me about the butterfly project at the Holocaust Museum of Houston by way of a link to another blog that linked to the actual project.

Which places us all squarely in a concentration camp in World War II, where Pavel Friedman penned this poem:

The Butterfly
The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone....

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ’way up high.
It went away I’m…

My World Tuesday: Silver Sands State Park, Milford, Connecticut

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The time to get off the couch, out the door, and into the sunshine came (twice last week, but we were all at work or school) Sunday, when we donned hats, scarves, gloves, and heavy coats and slipped foot warmers into the boots and headed to Silver Sands State Park in Millford, Connecticut, for some geocaching fun.
The grassy dunes cradled tufts of snow





and the walkways were icy in spots, but the beach was clear.





Della walked Clyde, Adam navigated us to the caches using the GPS, and Alex made the actual discoveries. Along the way, we encountered one of our prehistoric brothers who had given up the ghost on this beach that was once a landfill that was once the site of many homes before Hurricane Diane handed it all back to its rightful owner in 1955. It's great Connecticut gave up on using this bit of shoreline and has even given up on turning its wetlands into parking lots. Now this land sodden with heavy metals and lets not think about what else is becoming a bird sanctuary, a nat…

Today's Flowers: Through the Portal, Grace

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These are photos of George Bennett Park in Southbury, Connecticut, from last summer. This little park on Route 67 sits alongside the Pomperaug River and offers cool, green respite on a summer's day. It's a great place to lie down and listen to the river or to photograph wildflowers, or to look up and wonder how the clouds do what they do. It's a nice little place.
Today's Flowers

One Single Impression: Top

At the bottom of these snow canyons
Heaved into being by machines
The purpose of which
Would seem to be
To prevent
Any break

Whatsoever

From routine

I stand still for fear of slipping

And watch my daughter's Dachshund

Amble to the top
And stay there

For as long as

He damned well wants.

I wait.
She waits.

There is no moving him

Until he will move.

The world waits.

In fact,
It is by them and for them and through them
You find the top of anything at all.

This is a group project.

Thus have we heard from the dog.

Savor this.
And come down when you're ready.

We're here.

What the Chocolate Said

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Skywatch Friday: The Ragged Edge

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Looking west, the sunset. Looking back, the strange purple light of dusk. This is the swing bridge in Surf City, North Carolina, just yards from the best Chinese restaurant in the world, Nikki's. Down the road, the turtle hospital, and a few miles the other way, home. 


Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: Butterfly Effect

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Book Review: Mockingjay

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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay, like its predecessors in The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, doesn't let you come up for air. Plot complications come one after the other until there's no putting the book down. I found more than once I thought I knew how a scenario would play out only to find it didn't.
That's because the characters are complex and believable. They are teen-agers and friends and sweethearts who live through incredible circumstances that cause them to do unthinkable things, and they win the reader's sympathy. Those emotional storms that blow through a normal adolescence move through theirs even as they make life-or-death judgments in a time of war.
In the end, the novel illustrates how war--adult games at their basest--does more to rip apart interior landscapes of a society's most vulnerable members than it does to the real estate that becomes the battle ground. In the end, isolation and reticence and a reluctance to look the tru…

My World Tuesday: It Seems Like it Goes on Like This Forever

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I've been living like a hothouse flower since the big snows wound up in mountainous heaps on the side of the roads. Visibility is down to nothing, and there's no place to jump out of the way when the speed demons come along, so I haven't been out for a walk in ages. Besides, before Christmas I ripped a whole in my right shin when I miscalculated the slipperiness of the road and fell against the curb, so I'm shy about taking chances. 
Still, this being-inside-and-working-out-on-the-elliptical-and-lacking-of-Vitamin-D thing is getting to me. So I decided if I'm going to be a hothouse creation, I'm not doing it alone. I bought home a few hyacinths from the market on Sunday.  That was spring brought to the table.






Later that day, I moved on to summer with a warm lavender bath and some lavender water--and capped off the whole experience with a 5-pound, very thick, very cozy sweater.  Because it's a cold day in February.  There will be no buying my way out of that s…

Book Review: Catching Fire

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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Reading The Hunger Games was such an intense experience that I was looking forward to a little break when I got to the end of it. The end did not allow for any breaks, however. The action did not stop. There was no resolution. Like a tribute in the Hunger Games, I had to keep on.
So I downloaded Catching Fire, the second volume in the trilogy, and made my way through it in little more than a day.
Hunger Games victors Katness Everdeen and Peeta Mellark showed just a little too much spirited independence to please The Capitol of Panem. The despotic government will not leave them to live in peace but devises a strategy to keep in them in check. It must if it would maintain control over the 12 Districts of its country, which occupies a place once called the United States of America.
Catching Fire probes the questions raised in the first volume: How much abuse will people take? How long will people allow themselves to be denied their freedom and their right …

Today's Flowers: By Candlelight

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Last week's roses faded, but not without a beautiful last moment by candlelight.

Today's Flowers

One SingleImpression: Incandescent

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Where there is heat There is light-- Literal or figurative--
They go together And always have
It is the nature of light To erupt in silent waves From the friction
Between this and that You and me Two sticks, two strangers--
You get the idea--
Because it dissolves What is
Into silence. Nothing.
This is creation. This is love.
For a moment It is warm and good
And there is light.
One Single Impression

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Tonight I finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. In this science fiction novel set in a post-USA North Amerca governed by the despotic Capitol, the 12 regions of the country of Panem send two youths to the annual Hunger Games. These randomly selected kids will fight to the death for the pleasure and amusement of the capitol. The hunger games are the legacy of a treaty that ensued from a rebellion that just didn't work out for the ordinary people.
Collins's novel explores the effect of despotism and violence on children. Katniss Everdeen, the main character and narrator, simply lacks the emotional experience and resources to take in all that is expected of her. In short, she doesn't know how to play the game--until she must.
In the name of control, the Hunger Games would reduce the 12 youths--called tribugtes--to savages.The Capitol takes some pleasure in treating human decency, compassion, and love as affectations. The plot t…

Skywatch Friday: Letting the Sun Go Down

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Some days it's just good to let the world pass you by. It has a way of coming back, anyhow.

Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: The Thing With Feathers...

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...left a feather behind. Everywhere, always, there is hope.
Wordless Wednesday

Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods starts small, but the ending is epic.
Having served three years in prison for aggravated assault, Shadow gets out of jail a few days early when his wife dies. On his way home to the funeral, he meets a man named Wednesday, who enlists Shadow's services as bodyguard, gopher, and servant.
This is no small task, considering that Wednesday is Oden, the All-Father, a god whose had quite enough of being forgotten. Oden is a con and an egomanic whose own quest addresses a question raised early in the book: Why is it immigrants to the US so easily left behind the gods of their homeland when they arrived? What is the connection between belief and place?
These questions lead to the questions of what we call god, what we believe, and how we live what we believe as Gaiman's characters cross America in this and the underworld as well as the cultures that define and redefine it every minute of our days.
In the end beliefs consume us if we let them.
In t…

My World Tuesday: Gone to Carolina in my Mind

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Time stands still in winter. Snow days open up hours upon hours of exactly what we want to do. We do those things to our hearts' content, and then we go back to sleep and wake up to a new day of same-old. Except this year. One snow day opens onto another opens onto a delay or an early dismissal so that the stillness and solitude of winter become isolation.

And then the air warms and the rain falls and roads clear. Birds sing, and the promise of life, life, life calls us out of the silence of our winter dens. I remember H2O is not snow and snow alone. It is also a dynamic life force called the Atlantic Ocean that beats like a heart on the edge of North America. I touch that pulse every chance I get in North Carolina. It's good.






Thoughts of North Carolina include thoughts of Wilmington, a beautiful place where pretend penguins stand comfortably amid flowers and birdfeeders and lamps alongside the Cape Fear River. Of course.




North Carolina: comfort, peace...and the girl with t…

Today's Flowers: A Bit of Summer

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For a while there, I was not a big fan of the rose; it seemed to me a manufactured flower, a botanical cliche. My view changed this week, after a few too many dreary days during which February seemed to be flinging around shades of gray as if it were again late December. A dozen of these roses lifted my spirits and got me to thinking if someone out there is manufacturing roses, they could be doing a lot worse! Today's Flowers

Review: My Kindle

I was one of those “it’s not a book” people when  first I came across this technology called Kindle.  A book is a thing with pages, a thing you hold, a thing with heft. A thing that smells like your basement after doing so much time on a shelf there waiting to be attended to, to be studied for the notes in the margin and to be passed on to the right friend who will know what to do with what you have left in the margins.

Thinking about my objection to the Kindle, I realized the eau de basement was a key factor.  Because books that stand the test of time are discovered over and over again.  You can’t be discovered if you don’t have weight and take up space.  The here and now of a book is very important. So are the there and then. I am thinking of my mother’s Nancy Drew bookss in her mother’s attic that became mine because they were there. Electronic books don’t do that very magical kind of showing up. And magic is as important as showing up.
I know this to be rock-solid true because this …

One Single Impression: Humility

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Once:
There but for the grace of...

Now:
There go I.

One Single Impression

Pettitte: The Heart and Soul of Balance

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"Are you in mourning?" came the tweet this afternoon.
"Pettitte's retiring!" I said--possibly very loudly because Clyde ran up to his kennel as I popped open the laptop to log onto the Internet and confirm my worst fears.
The first news source carrying the story was boston.com, which site spelled his name wrong as it confirmed the dark news.
"No," I replied to Rich's tweet. That will be tomorrow. Today I am in shock.
Then I climbed onto the elliptical and attempted to read while I worked out, but all I could think of was Pettitte--and not just because his 16 X 20-inch portrait is in plain view from my vantage point exercising in the cellar. Not just because my bedroom is decorated with his autographed baseball, autographed photo, and countless baseball cards.
I thought of that World Series game years and years ago in the old Yankee Stadium, when I watched him pitch for the first time in my experience. He pitched beautifully. The Yankees lost. Except th…

Skywatch Friday: Fallen Sun

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Here in Connecticut there is no sky. No, indeed. The sky has been replaced with a very low, very grey ceiling that admits no light. Every minute of the day looks like 4 o'clock on a late December afternoon.

It's not a bad thing. It's just winter. January and, now, early February have a way of impersonating December so that you hardly notice the days really are getting longer. It is a trick of the light, to be sure. When the snow stops falling and the days grow warmer, the light will seem so bright and intense that--well. We will very likely sing for joy.

Here is a picture of the December light illuminating a walkway in Surf City, North Carolina, and nothing else.

Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: Buddy

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This is my parents' personable mutt, Buddy. Before the gods of winter transformed his world into a Carvel cake and then decided they weren't hungry for dessert, he was able to keep up with the weather and had worn himself a nice little looping path in the snow. Now the poor guy is as hemmed in by hills of snow like the rest of us. He's taking it well from the comfort of his cushion or (his) couch in the fire-warmed family room of my parents' hospitable home. Buddy knows how to do winter, that's for certain.
Wordless Wednesday

Book Review: Anansi's Boys by Neil Gaiman

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Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Anansi's Boys are Fat Charlie Nancy and Spider. Fat Charlie is an entry-level accountant in England engaged to a nice girl with a mean mother whose highest aspiration is to shake off the Fat from his name. Spider is a free spirit whose every move he makes with the sole purpose of pleasing himself.
The brothers' lives intersect after Anansi, who is a trickster God, dies in Florida and Fat Charlie goes home for his funeral. There, the old ladies who shaped his early life break him in on the truths that will undo Fat Charlie's world and allow him to remake it.
Anansi's boys will travel in and out of the underworld as they put together the pieces of their father's story in order to make sense of their own and therefore survive.
Gaiman's book blends the mundane with the magical to create a book that is as witty as it is out of this world as it is true to the life of the heart and mind.
View all my reviews