April 30, 2015
7:18 am cdt | link
It is spring.
April. I am seventeen and have purchased my dress from Samuelson’s Department store. It is made of blue green
polished cotton fabric with a white eyelet top. It is, I feel, quite beautiful. My friend and I have traveled to Minneapolis
on the train to pick out our shoes. My choice, white satin Capezio strap heels. The April days are warm and tender.
The landscape is turning green in a heavie rush.
Yesterday the air was soft and warm. The birds were busy being birds, the sky was devoid
of clouds. The landscape again greening before our eyes. Warm days and late evening light coax out our memories. Once again,
I am seventeen. Everyone is seventeen in April.
April 29, 2015
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Here on this prairie, wetland landscape, there
is a smallish tree, planted six or seven years ago, outside my workroom window. I look out as I write and see, in the budding
silver maple, two immature starlings, two red winged blackbirds, a purple finch and three brown sparrows. It is only a small
tree but it is big enough.
April 28, 2015
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My mother died decades ago. I inherited her china.
The china is Royal Doulton made in England, the pattern, Burgundy. The dishes are translucent, edged in silver with a gray/green
border of grape leaves and grapes, hence the name. I have been hauling these dishes from home to home since I was married.
In my mind they have always been my mother’s dishes. I remember her pride in owning china, I remember them filled with
holiday food on a childhood Thanksgiving table, I remember them being used the night my brother brought the girl he later
married to dinner,
The dishes, I have always thought, are not my style. Too pretty, too traditional, too old and too my
mother. I could never claim them. Until I recently decided that I could. I could use these dishes every day because they were
my mother’s and now they are mine. Last night we had take-out pizza and salad and I served this ordinary food on translucent
plates bordered with grapes and grape leaves. And dinner looked beautiful.
April 27, 2015
6:18 am cdt | link
In the tall
grass area circling a nearby pond, a man is picking up litter. As I am in a hurry I do not stop the car and tell him
thanks or join him in his task. But I want to. I have a thing about litter. I particularly have a thing about litter in wild
Recently I heard about a man in the Netherlands who bikes along a littered river on his way to work. This
guy was angry about the litter he saw on his commute and one day decided to do something about it. He stopped and filled a
single trash bag with litter, disposed of it and continued on his way to work. Now, every day he starts his bike commute to
work one half hour earlier. During that half hour he picks up a single bag of trash. Others have joined him. Social media
has become involved and people in other areas are getting involved in picking up litter in areas where they live and work.
I like this
story and you can read more about it online if you google “Dutch man cleans an entire riverbank on his way to work.”
The Dutch artist tells the media that a person feels good when they pick up a bag of trash. I would agree.
April 26, 2015
6:55 am cdt | link
I attended the memorial service of a friend’s husband. It wasn’t a sorrowful service as the deceased had lived
a long and distinguished life; his interests and accomplishments had been many. He had also been ill for some time.
But goodbyes of any sort come tinged with a degree of sadness. Parting is always sweet sorrow.
In the crowded sanctuary
I sat with my thoughts, pondering these wise words that one of the speakers at the service, a medical doctor, said the deceased
had taught him in college. “We get information not just by scientific means, by records and measurements. We get what
we need to know, by observation.”
April 25, 2015
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true the landscape forms the mind. If I stand here long enough I’ll learn how to sing. None of that country and western
heartbreak stuff, or operatic duels, but something cool as the blues, or close to a Navajo woman singing early in the morning.
the words of poet Joy Harjo. But I wish they were mine.
April 24, 2015
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It was around noon and a woman stood at the back of her car in the
Econo Foods parking lot eating. Spread out on the trunk of her car was what appeared to be her lunch. Not wanting to stare
too much, I did notice several deli containers into one of which she appeared to be dipping a piece of chicken. I also noticed
a can of soda and a bag of chips. It was sunny out but not exactly warm. The woman, casually dressed, appeared to be enjoying
her less usual tailgate repast. I enjoyed seeing her eat.
A very old man and a younger companion stood in line ahead of me. The person helping
the pair was kind to the fragile man who at one point said this to her. “Oh, I am so worthless now.” I did not
hear the woman’s murmured reply but I heard what the old man’s companion said to him. “My dad always said
this. No one is worthless because even the worthless can serve as a bad example.” Amused, the old man threw back his
head and laughed. I was amused, too.
April 23, 2015
5:54 am cdt | link
The children are taking a class trip to the zoo. They
have been amassing information about the creatures they might find in the aquarium. On a large bulletin board in the hall
outside the classroom, they have drawn, and cut out, pictures of the various aquarium denizens they hope to see: eels, sea
horses, fish, turtles, clams and sharks. They have written a sentence or two of information about each creature which is attached
to the drawings.
Becky and I spend several minutes looking at the bulletin board. She proudly reads out loud the sentences
alongside each picture. She is quiet for a moment before turning to me with questioning eyes and asking this: “They
keep the sharks behind glass where they can’t get to people, don’t they?”
April 22, 2015
6:01 am cdt | link
The news of thousands of immigrants fleeing from intolerable
conditions is difficult to hear. Hundreds of adults and children crammed into unsafe boots, boats which flounder and capsize
killing their occupants. The world watches. What can be done?
Yesterday I received news of a college friend’s
death. This friend was a newspaper writer whose words I have often read. For some time I have been meaning to be in contact
with this friend, tell him that his words resonated with me, had meaning for me. I would think of contacting him and then
I would move on to something else. A little later, I would think of being in touch with him again and procrastinate once more.
All those adages about putting off until tomorrow, that someday is not a day of the week, that procrastination is opportunity’s
assassin, true. Those words are true.
April 21, 2015
6:28 am cdt | link
Last evening, two soccer teams practiced on the fields
I can see from my window. One girls team, one comprised of older boys. Spring is here.
Soccer is a favorite sport
of mine. I enjoy watching a soccer match and I enjoyed playing when I was young. I was pleased that my sons played soccer.
One of the reasons I appreciate the game is that it requires little in the way of equipment. A good ball, maybe soccer cleats
and shin guards though neither are always necessary. Nor does soccer require brute strength or height. It requires, on a level
that most kids play it, only a team sense and a ball sense and a desire. That’s about it. As kids, my sons played on
travel teams. One played defense, the other was a striker. They had uniforms and coaches who coached to win. Years later I
asked one of the boys what was his best time playing soccer. He said this. “My best soccer memories are of playing pick-up
games after supper behind the school with the kids from the neighborhood. Maybe some dads joined us, some older sisters, some
younger brothers. All sorts of different people. I remember those games as fun.”
April 20, 2014
6:13 am cdt | link
I’m suspicious of people who don’t
like dogs. But I trust a dog who doesn’t like a person.
April 19, 2015
7:58 am cdt | link
One day it is winter. The day after, the neighborhood
is clustered around a backyard grill. To the accompaniment of spring peepers, redwing blackbirds and children playing, fathers
in shorts and baseball caps superintend barbeque grills flipping hamburgers, hot dogs, marinated chicken pieces, skewers of
vegetables alternating with cubes of pork. When supper is eaten in the backyard, on the patio, the deck, the world feels ordinary
and right and American and the aroma of summer cooking smells only good.
April 18, 2015
6:13 am cdt | link
nothing on me. I am at Walden Pond. Not the Walden Pond, which is a huge pond in Massachusetts, but at the little
wetland pond behind my Northfield condominium. A beautiful but nameless place. I am here not with the deliberateness that
brought Thoreau to Concord and Walden, but here because I just happen to be. Though like Thoreau, my observations of today:
a snowy egret, a pair of hooded merganser ducks and the usual residents of muskrat, heron, frogs and birds, are like his,
non-scientific. I do not observe objectively without judgement or passion. What I see in this system of life I ascribe with
feeling words. I cannot watch two stately geese upside down in the water and not be amused, observe a heron high stepping
through the shallows and not stop what I am doing.
Thoreau was a wise man; I am heeding his words: "I am here to learn what
this place has to teach me."
April 17, 2015
6:54 am cdt | link
is Too Short" quotes, of which there are many:
Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream. Hugh Hefner
Life is too
short to be doing the things you don’t love doing. Bruce Dickenson
Life is too short to work so hard. Vivian
Life is too short for long term grudges. Elon Musk
Or my favorite, which I recently saw in the
Electric Goat bead store:
Life is too short to wear department store jewelry.
April 16, 2015
5:45 am cdt | link
What I knew about muskrats before today was just about
nothing. I had heard of the "Muskrat Ramble" and a song called "Muskrat Love" made famous by Captain and
Tennille, and that was about it. But with a muskrat appearing daily in the pond I needed to know more.
Muskrats are named muskrats
because of a musky odor produced when they mark their territory. They are members of the family cricetidae
and have thick fur and a tail with scales which helps propel them through the water. They are found across the United States
and prolificly produce offspring. They are important in Native American mythology as they are attributed with bringing mud
up from the sea to form the earth. That’s it. That’s what I now know. But I have my field glass close at hand.
And I am watching.
April 15, 2015
7:11 am cdt | link
For years we’ve lit a candle for breakfast and
for dinner. I suppose it started on a holiday and then just continued because the forgotten candle remained on the table.
However the candle ritual got its start, it has become addictive and now seems as necessary as a fork, a spoon, to the two
meals. The candles can be of any variety: fat, tall, votive, whatever. Just a candle. A candle in the morning gives off a
feeling of warm energy that can be needed to begin the day in any season of the year. A candle at a dinner, which is really
just a supper, makes whatever you’re eating taste better.
A friend who makes candles gave me one for Valentine’s
Day. Of substantial size, red wax winds its way through a tall rectangle of white wax. Lit, it glows with pretty light. It
has been burned twice daily since mid-February and has recently been cut down to expose more burning area. It is at the end
of its rope, or wick. What I like about this candle is that it was made by someone who you might not ever guess would make
candles. A closet candle maker.
April 14, 2015
6:29 am cdt | link
a room filled with Native American treasures, I copy these words affixed to the wall:
“Art is a survival
process related to our aptitudes, our coping skills, our environment. Artists are the preservers of the inner spirit."
- Vic Runnels
April 13, 2015
6:06 am cdt | link
This year’s Masters Golf Tournament was
won, on Sunday, by a 21-year-old player from Texas. I happened on the last day of
the televised event and surprised myself by being hooked. The azalea bordered course, the birds in the background, the golf
clothes, the crowds of people in big hats and sunglasses. The golf. I own a set of golf clubs, I have played golf. I have
played golf poorly and because of that, I do not care for the game. But in spite of not enjoying golf, I can appreciate it
when it is played with the skill and finesse that I watched it being played on Sunday and
I only half subscribe to this quote from "National Lampoon." “If you want to take long walks, take long walks.
It you want to hit things with a stick, hit things with a stick. But there’s no excuse for combining the two and putting
the results on TV. Golf is not so much a sport as an insult to lawns."
April 12, 2015
7:18 am cdt | link
My purse weighs 2 lbs 4 oz. The
average purse is said to weigh about six pounds. I travel light. Yesterday I weighed my purse at the Purse-onality Exhibit
at the Old Court House Museum where I also saw beautiful purses on exhibit dating from the late 1800’s to the present.
Purses from the Victorian era were called reticules. Before reticules women carried what they needed in pockets sewed into
their underwear. I enjoyed looking at the purses at the exhibit, recognizing the purse styles of my mother and grandmother,
my college years.
Purses contain the necessities
of a woman’s life and express her personality and interests. They can, according to the exhibit, be referred to as our
alter egos. Women are connected to their purses. Just picture the Queen.
April 11, 2015
8:18 am cdt | link
I am west of Napatree. Far west of Napatree in unfamiliar
territory where the men wear cowboy hats and the women jean jackets studded with rhinestones. Last night’s dinner was
eaten in a diner and was followed by a poetry slam in a coffee house. Cattle speckle the horizon of this place and the sky
is so big there are not enough clouds to cover it. Here different sounds occupy my attention and it is impossible to hear
April 10, 2015
8:05 am cdt | link
Gypsy Jazz, my new discovery. There were 17 men
and women sitting in the circle which included fiddle players, guitar players, mandolin players, a banjo player, a dobro player,
three bass players, an accordion player, an alto saxophonist, a cellist and a trumpeter. These disparate musicians played
together and it sounded wonderful. They passed along their jazz solos in the Eagles Club where the audience clapped and whistled,
where the listeners had fun because the musicians were having fun. Wednesday night I learned this little code about a particular
style of French music, A-B, A-C, A. I learned even more about musical sharing, musical kindness and musical support.
April 9, 2015
7:02 am cdt | link
I have a new
accessory. Binoculars. Lately, I have turned into Miley Bull, a naturalist in Connecticut who has long been involved in the
Connecticut Audubon Society and who, whenever I saw him, sported field glasses. My attachment to binoculars started in January
with the rabbits, with the red fox. Shortly after that, it was the occasional eagle sighting. When the pond ice began to melt
there were the mallards. Two pair and the extra male who was very slow, in spite of some aggressive behavior on the part of
the paired males, to throw in the towel.
The mallards were followed by the geese pair, the playful muskrat and the contemplative
blue heron. Also demanding my time now are the red-winged blackbirds, the finches, the robins and the numerous little brown
sparrow types. The plain birds. But a couple of days ago, a surprise. Two pairs of migrating Bufflehead ducks appeared on
the pond. There they were. The males, black and white and beautiful, the drabber females alongside them diving and staying
under water for long periods, doing what ducks do. And there I was, watching from my desk window. With, my binoculars.
April 8, 2015
7:15 am cdt | link
the lyrics for the song "American Pie", written by Don McLean, sold at auction for 1.2 million dollars.
I was in the
Knight family basement rec room when Peter Knight wanted everyone to listen to a record he’d purchased that day, a long
song called "America Pie" with lyrics that were not about love, not about political protest. Lyrics that we couldn’t
figure out that night when we heard them for the first time, lyrics that people are still trying to figure out today.
I did research for the not-for-profit environmental group, American P.I.E., Public Information on the Environment. I remember
our group received a threatening letter from Don McLean’s law firm saying the name American P.I.E. was ‘taken’
and we could no longer use it. I recall it was a scary letter. I also recall the American P.I.E. named stayed and our group
was not sued. A fleeting brush with Chevy to the levy man, Don McLean.
I do not own a recording of "American
Pie" but I do have a cookbook with the same name. My favorite recipe in the book is for a butterscotch pie. It’s
April 7, 2015
6:19 am cdt | link
Words to walk
No one’s watching.
You can dance.
April 6, 2015
6:31 am cdt | link
With two teams left in the competition and some connection
to one of the teams, it is easy to be caught up in a final NCAA game. Born in Wisconsin, my allegiance is to the underdog,
University of Wisconsin team. Living in Connecticut, I was a supporter of Geno Auriemma’s women’s teams, Jim Calhoun’s
men’s teams. The Connecticut women’s team always a team to be reckoned with and most always a winner.
playing basketball, except for the occasional game of horse, I went with my dad, as a young kid, to high school and college
games. When I was a student in high school, our high school team was twice a state champion. My sons were tall and played
basketball in youth leagues before being caught up in other sports, our family homes were always attached to a basketball
hoop. Also living close to Boston, it was hard not to follow the play of Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge
and Dennis Johnson, the Boston Celtic dynasty. I plan on catching at least some of tonight’s game. Go, Badgers!
April 5, 2015
5:09 pm cdt | link
April 4, 2015
8:09 am cdt | link
Little surprises happen. Though I read music,
I am not a good singer. I have never sung in a choir of any sort and I don’t particularly like listening to choirs and
choruses, even the fabulous and famous ones. A community sing-a-long was not my idea of a great evening. But there I was in
Carleton’s Concert Hall raising my voice and clapping my hands under the direction of the incredibly talented Ysaye
Barnwell from Sweet Honey in The Rock. I was singing, and enjoying it. On a spring night before Easter, a venue crowded with
people of all ages sang, moved to the music, smiled and laughed and kept time with their feet and in doing so, became a community
of feeling, of power, of song. And I, delighted to be a part of it.
April 3, 2015
6:53 am cdt | link
An upside down day shot through with worry found
me at River Bend Nature Center with the spring frogs. The Chorus Frogs, the Wood Fogs, the Leopard Frogs and the
Spring Peepers. The wet areas resounded with their vocalizations and the sounds were music to my ears.
April 2, 2015
6:03 am cdt | link
Knowing I love looking at the period clothes,
the exceptionally beautiful clothes worn on the PBS series, "Downton Abby," yesterday a friend passed along a book
picturing and detailing the constantly changing wardrobes. I enjoyed perusing it. I also enjoyed the words of Violet, the
family matriarch, on the inside front cover. “No family is ever what it seems from the outside."
April 1, 2015
8:54 am cdt | link
The writing prompt for today is fear. I have Woody Allen genes, I am a fearful person. As a kid I was not afraid of monsters
or Bogey men, I don’t remember being afraid of spiders or garden snakes, either. But I wasn’t excited about clowns
and my friend Helen and I were flat out afraid of Herbie Zunker, the bully on our street that threw snowballs and rocks. Because
of this fear we would cross the street before we passed his house and run as fast as we could to the safety of the corner
market where we bought wax lips and some sort of sweet syrup in a waxy bottle we would chew after we had consumed the syrup.
Our fear of Herbie was real as was the reward of penny candy. Fear can also have positive effects. Both Helen and I were skinny
kids, in spite of the candy, and we were both fast runners.
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