Showing posts from August, 2012

Skywatch Friday: Houston, We Have a Kitchen Light

From August 4, 2012 I took this shot one remarkably calm morning after a particularly rainy night. The detritus in the sky looked so beautiful to me--like some heavenly house-cleaning were going on and diaphanous grey scarves were drifting down very slowly. When I took the shot from inside the kitchen, my eyes edited out the reflection of the ceiling lights and the kitchen ghosts. But there they are. So this is a photo of the morning sky from inside the kitchen and not a photo of the morning sky. My socks stayed dry for this one. From August 4, 2012 How rapidly things change. This was the view a short while later. This would be a beach day after all.
Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: A Light Touch


Our World Tuesday: Back at the Flower Farm

From August 18, 2012From August 18, 2012From August 18, 2012 Last week's visit to White's Flower Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut, was a great few hours for me and for Adella.  The farm was between seasons, according to one of the ladies working there.  Not too many mums, just a few sunflowers....but we were eager for some fall color!  We searched until we found some, and were happy in our success.  Here's for you.
Our World Tuesday

One Single Impression: Spectacle

We live in a cozy backwater
Dressed in the style of early America
With wildflowers, corn, and barking dogs
Filling every empty place.

Not much happens here,
Where the big question involves
Sizing up oncoming dogs
And their humans
Who seem always to be
Oddly elswhere
And unaware of the wild
Present in these moments.

We like it this way
In this place so oddly
Unencumbered by the nuances
Of passing time.

We especially liked it
Yesterday after lunch--
When a pterodactyl spread his wings
Across our deep running still waters
To blot out the sun, stir the air
And glide away under the canopy of maples
Young in the days of Rochambeau--

As we reached for the leash
To protect our dachshund
From the toy poodle and her people
Splashing upriver--
Close to our dream
But not close enough to see.

One Single Impression

Today's Flowers: Gold of Late Summer

From August 18, 2012 If bumble bees, drunk on nectar and summer sunshine, were to transform into flowers, these would be them.

Today's Flowers

Skywatch Friday: Hauntingly Beautiful

Not a great photo, to be sure.  But the contrast between the dark sky and the sunlight slipping under the blanket of clouds and setting everything on fire was irresistable to me last weekend when we were at Ocean Beach Park and in view of the Ledge Lighthouse in Groton, Connecticut. I didn't notice to low-flyer in the foreground until I uploaded the photo to Picasa. He must have been in hot pursuit of an abandoned fry.In 1987, New London Ledge Light became the last lighthouse on Long Island Sound to be automated. On the last day before automation, a Coast Guardsman entered in the log:

Rock of slow torture. Ernie's domain. Hell on earth -- may New London Ledge's light shine on forever because I'm through. I will watch it from afar while drinking a brew.
So not everybody loved the place, according to the Web site of this land (water?) mark, which also reports: Probably the best-known part of this station's history and lore is the lighthouse's infamous ghost, &q…

Wordless Wednesday: From a Distance

From August 18, 2012 You can have anything you want if you want it desperately enough.  You must want it with an inner exuberance that erupts through the skin  and joins the energy that created the world. (Sheila Graham)Wordless Wednesday

Our World Tuesday: White's Flower Farm


One Single Impression: Lopsided

From August 18, 2012
Bee and flower balance  Even in the breeze  Even when other bees  Come to the flower
At the end of summer  Bee and flower balance
One Single Impression

Today's Flowers: Summer Keeps Coming

From August 17, 2012 This beauty was doing its thing in the sunshine at my parents' home the other afternoon, and it caught my attention as we were getting ready for a game of croquet. Maybe that's why I lost the game?

Today's Flowers

Book Review: 'Autobiography of Ben Franklin'

The Autobiography Of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

For the second time this year I have read Ben Franklin's autobiography, and for the second time I am wondering why the life story of this great thinker and outstanding citizen who played a principal role in the founding of the United States was not required reading when I was a public school student.
The youngest son of a Boston chandler who had fathered 17 children and thought Ben might be educated to become a clergyman, Ben was a determined, imaginative kid who had other ideas. When the money ran out for the grammar school, Ben's father thought he might do well working with numbers. When that didn't work out, his father thought he might becom a chandler.
Ben had other ideas, and he pursued them. He got himself into the printing business and rose to the top of that fledgling industry by virtue of his virtue. He didn't drink, he worked whatever hours were necessary to get the job done, no job was too s…

Skywatch Friday: Quiet


Wordless Wednesday: The Turtle is Heard

For, lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. (The Song of Solomon ii. 11, 12)* From August 9, 2012 A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the turtle standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the little old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down." (Stephen William Hawking (b. 1942), British theoretical physicist)

*The tu…

Book Review: Billy Collins's 'Horoscopes for the Dead'

Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems by Billy Collins

I love Billy Collins. He just plain says it. He doesn't reach for the heroic or the epic in the ordinary. The ordinary is enough. And he just plain says it. But when he does, he takes you to some unexpected place where things look very different from the ordinary.
As his poems unfold and we arrive at this other place, it’s extraordinary because we are right there with him--not below or behind or at a distance.
Collins is cool. Last semester, I showed some video adaptations of some of his poems--created with the poet's blessing--followed by his reading of without visuals. My students liked the best “To My Favorite Seventeen Year Old High School Girl" that he read without visuals. It's about a girl being loved for her completely ordinary self by her dad. She might not be Mozart, but she is who she is.
Horoscopes for the Dead is cool and ordinary and amazing. There is a poem thanking all those who died on the sp…

Our World Tuesday: Surf City

Surf City announces itself with a beautiful sign alongside this old observation tower from the Operation Bumble Bee days.  This ramshackle structure that has survived countless hurricanes is sporting a sheet of plywood that wasn't there last summer.  Time catches up with all of us--even if we are government! From August 9, 2012 That is, unless the Navy gets a hold on a can of white paint.  This tower has been added onto and put to some secret purpose on Topsail.


From August 9, 2012
The neighbor of the owner of this jazzy little house wondered why the slow driving down his street.  He disappeared behind the house as I raised my camera.  And then we skedaddled because he made us as nervous as we made him.  
From August 9, 2012 Here's one of my favorite fiberglass turtles on the island . This one used to be front of town hall.  Now it's in front of a gift shop.  There are many surfers up and down Topsail.  I seem to see them heading into the waves but not quite coming back.…

One Single Impression: Bathing

From August 9, 2012 Sometimes it's about the fence--
Like this splintered one right here.

A dream dies; I bury it at the fence.

Sea oats,
White foam
Hushing the crash
Of each wave
And clear sky
That leads to some vast
And wild over-there:
Europe, Asia, Black, Red, and Dead seas...

I stand at the fence and
I toss back lumps of coral
That have sat in the garage for years
Though they were never mine to keep.

They have been too long away
From the ocean that bathes softness
Into sharp edges.

I stand at the fence,
And I give them back.

One Single Impression

Today's Flowers: Blue Hydrangea

From July 21, 2012 Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love,
for they enkindle and melt the soul. (Saint Teresa of Avila)Today's Flowers

Not on Facebook, Not Sick in the Head

A few days ago, and other sources ran a piece about human resources departments' seeing young applicants' lack of a presence on Facebook as a red flag that the employment candidate might not be right in the head.  Looking at the published responses to this article in which the authors go on about being addicted to Facebook, I wonder how and why human resources departments would favor an addictive personality who very likely will waste company time posting nonsense to a social networking site the real value of which is zero over someone who is somewhere else in real time.  My thoughts follow.

I am not on Facebook.  Once, I was.  But the adolescent pranks of the adult child of the exwife of a former high school friend who turned out to be a total jerk was making such a spectacle of himself that I had to go.  I friended him--though I resent this upstart noun of a verb that puts on the airs of an overrated, bitter cup of designer coffee--but he embarrassed me because his…

Book Review: 'Whirligig' by Paul Fleischman

Whirligig by Paul Fleischman

My daughter had read many of the books on the reading list for rising freshmen at her school, but she wasn't so sure she remembered any one of them well enough to do an assignment on it.  So she chose one she hadn't read just to be safe.  (Her high school holds kids accountable for one whole book for the summer.  Kids need to have some unspecified type of notes to show they read the thing.  Ask me my opinion on this zero-challenge summer assignment if my tone doesn't make it clear.)

My daughter chose Whirligig, which I suppose one of the teachers at the high school must like or it wouldn't be on the list of possibilities.  I decided to read it to be on my daughter's page, and I liked it very much.  The book explores the simple truth that our every word and gesture has an effect in this world.  We are responsible for ourselves, and we are responsible for the effect we have.

An evening of humiliation at a high school classmate's part…

Skywatched Friday: Tucking in for the Night

From August 4, 2012 "Wherever you stand be the soul of that place." (Rumi)Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: At Work


Book Review: 'Origins of the Specious'

Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language by Patricia T. O'Conner

Origins of the Specious, Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language, by former New York Times editors Patricia T. O'Conner (Woe Is I) and Stewart Kellerman is as entertaining as it is enlightening. I learned plenty after a day on the beach with this gem. Logophiles O'Conner and Kellerman explore the myths that surround language and rules.
Read this book, and you'll learn that the auction block and the auctioneer's block have their roots in slavery (this is where human beings were sold as if they were farm machines) though nobody seems offended by these phrases but niggardly, which has a completely different etymology and means miserly, can cause all kinds of turmoil. Read on, and you'll find out the seemingly harmless verb to grandfather, as in to be exempt from a rule because you were on the scene before the rule came into effect, has its roots in the Jim …

Our World Tuesday: Educating for the 21st Century

A friend once commented to me that she was tired of having fuzzing knowledge about things; she said she wanted to know what was what, to call things by name. I thought of her and felt the same way when I came upon this little chapel in Kinston, North Carolina, the other day. From August 5, 2012 So I stopped by and read the signs. This little chapel, I learned, was the site of the Confederate's last line of defense in the Battle of Kinston December 13 - 14, 1862. Union General John G. Foster's division was working on cutting off General Robert E. Lee's supply lines from Wilmington. From August 5, 2012 The church on this site at the time was part of the Confederate's defense and is referred to in journals of the time as Harriet's Chapel. It was used as a hospital during the battle. This church actually came from about eight miles away but was moved in 2010 as an interpretive tool. (This I find just a bit confusing. "The church that is sitting here is n…

One Single Impression: Shortcut

Never Walking on Grass

Never walking on grass,
I have learned to turn at right angles
On sidewalks where common sens
Would say, cut the corner,
Straighten the lie.
Never walking on grass
Is something a fther teaches.
When Iturn those corners,
I consider my father's lessons:
The kind of labor that goes into the growing
Of grass
In difficult places,
Such as corners,
The labor of letting it
Be, committed
To letting it grow.

(This is an oldie from my collection, Seventeen Park Lane.)

One Single Impression

Today's Flowers: A Lily Full of Sunshine


Movie Review: 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi'

Jiro Dreams of Sushi isn't about sushi. It isn't even about Jiro. It's about doing one thing and dedicating your life to doing it well. It's about the discipline that makes of life sublime art. It's about living with a keen and humble awareness that life is huge, broader and deeper than any single lifetime.

Jiro Ono is considered by many to be the world's greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant in a Tokyo subway station.

Jiro tastes every piece of fish, oversees every aspect of the running of his restaurant, and trains his staff to prepare each sushi creation, carefully balancing rice and fish and presenting it for the elegant work of art it is.

Jiro's standards of creation are so high that his customers, who come from around the world and pay top prices for his sushi, feel intimidated by his presence. This is a feeling shared by his apprentices as well as his sons. There is a subtle loneliness …

Like a Wave: in Memory of Craig Lundwall

From May 10, 2012
In honor of Craig Lundwall, a dear friend who died in 2001 and whose birth date is today, August 3, I offer these words from Thich Naht Hanh.

Like a wave...

A wave may seem to have a beginning and end. A wave might be seen as high or low, big or small, different or not different from other waves.These terms--beginning, ending, high, low, more or less beautiful--they belong to the dimension called historical, but the wave is at the same time the water. Water transcends the form of the wave, the idea of beginning, ending, high, or low.

These notions apply to the wave but not to the water.The moment when the wave realizes that she is water, she loses all her fear and she enjoys much more being a wave. She is free from birth and death, being and non-being, high or low, because when we are able to touch our ultimate dimension, we are no longer subjected to fear--fear of being; fear of non-being; fear of birth; fear of death.

This is a very, very deep practice. When you&…

Skywatch Friday: Bronze Beats Gold and Silver Here

From July 31, 2012From July 31, 2012 I love this view of the pier.  There's nothing like first thing in the morning right where you are. 

No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought. (John Stuart Mill)
Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: Artsy Drive-by

Clyde and I took in some outdoor art in Thomaston, Connecticut, last week while Adella was at basketball camp. From July 26, 2012 These murals were created during ArtZFest in Thomaston in mid-July. In the words of the organizers, the festival was intended "to bring together our community, celebrate all arts and culture, and boost our local economy." From July 26, 2012 There's a little bit of everything here, so this coming-together stuff seemed to work out pretty well. From July 26, 2012 Clyde and I lucked out when I missed my turn for the high school!

Wordless Wednesday