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Wherein you will find posts with humor, photos, reviews, occasional rants and journalistic entries of interest to me alone but that I hope will touch you, the reader, in some way. I remain sincerely yours,
A Work in Progress

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Many Partings


I have always lived, just a little, elsewhere.  I have resided many a month in Middle Earth.  I have dwelt in Narnia. I've spent many a laughter-filled day in Arendia and every so often visit Pern.  I've lived in Darkover and Amber and most recently I have spent hours on end in London.  Not London as we know it, the London that leads to Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. The London I wish were really there. I am re-reading my Harry Potter books.

The Harry Potter books were all the rage in their beginning, but I never read it then.  I am not a hype fan and am never driven to read something that is all "the rage".  Then there was all the hoopla on my message boards about them and I ignored it all.  I am not sure when I finally picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but I know I picked it up at a used book store.  And I read it.  And I enjoyed it very much; enough to hurry and get the next two from the library.
I was captivated. 

I read the 2nd book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the 3rd, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and then, I had to wait for Miss Rowling to write the rest, along with all of her fans.  And I missed Harry, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Ron and Hermione, so I read them again.  

I loved the heart of these books.  I loved the friendships, the themes, the struggles and the joys of these characters and like Aslan, Aragorn, Polgara and Gandalf, they became part of my world.  A part of what makes me, well, me.  I have whole worlds in my head with friends that live there that share our human condition.  They are a part of my makeup, my thoughts, my experiences, my heart.  I read them, each as they came out, dreading the moment when I reached the last few pages.  I identified with Mrs. Weasley, hated Snape and rooted for Tonks to win Lupin.  I sobbed when Dumbledore died and hated the guy who took over his part after Richard Harris died.

I now own and have read all seven of the books more than twice.  I have seen and own all 6 of the movies.  To think that so soon, the phenomenon that has been Harry Potter will be over is more than a little distressing.  It was bad enough when I finished the Deathly Hallows for the first time.  I admit to having gone through a slump.  It was hard to imagine that there would be no more.  Soon, the last of the movies will be out.  And I will go to see part one in November and part two in July and then it will truly be over.  I never want the magic to be over.  

Isn't that the best thing about books though?  That between two covers lies the magic?  Wherever I am, whenever I open them, I am back, and the magic begins anew.


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Monday, June 28, 2010

One of My Favorite Places

We got to spend a few hours at Old Sturbridge Village on our weekend away.  It is one of my very favorite places in the world to play at being a photographer.   


This young lady was braiding straw, something the women would have done to make some extra money.  They would sell it in yards and hats and baskets would be made from it.


I love watching them dye wool but whew what a hot job!





The General Store's shelves are a visual delight.



SmokeBush

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Away for the Weekend, Leaving you with a Laugh

Define Irony


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Boil Water Order is Getting OLD!!

Even the cat panics when the bottled water is gone!


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Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's a Good Thing

Yesterday, as we were waiting to schedule an appointment at the Dr., there were two elderly ladies speaking with the receptionist.  One was frail looking, bent over holding a walker.  The other was trying to find a nurse to answer a question.  Having come back past us, the hale one said to us, "are you twins?"  Smiling at them, I replied, "no, I have a twin, but this isn't she". 

They were white haired, easily in their late 70's and I asked if they lived together.  They smiled and said no, that they just take care of each other.  I mentioned that my twin lived with me and that wasn't it a blessing to be so close.  Holding the door open for her sister, the healthy one smiled a good bye.  Seconds later, she popped her head back in and said to me, "It's a good thing".  What a succinct summary of being a twin.  Bless their hearts.

I find myself thinking of those two women.  However they have lived, whatever their story, there they are, together, helping the other with love.  It called for reflection.

I have been blessed beyond measure with two sisters I adore.  But no one can question, I think, the special relationship that exists between identical twins.  Very young,  we were inseparable, dressed alike, spoke alike, looked alike.  Every good and special time in my life was shared by my twin.  Those few years we were not physically close we still always knew when something was wrong and phone calls would be made.  An uneasy feeling I couldn't shake usually meant Elaine was not ok somehow.

Growing up,  we often shared the same room, the same hobbies and the same clothes.  Brownies, Girl Scouts, Drama Club, Concert Choir.  Sometimes things were easy to do because we never had to do it alone.  Like try out for plays and sing in the choir.  We spent many a happy hour putting on our own musicals in the playroom at Twin Acres or re-staging The Sound of Music or West Side Story.  We both read voraciously.  Our little sister called us "bookends" once.  In high school we used to get ready for school, come out in the hallway and realize we had dressed alike and fought over who had to change clothes.  We still do it now, but we don't care anymore.  Drives my niece nuts. :)  More than once, if my children called home and I wasn't in, Elaine took my place on the phone and soothed them or said goodnight to them.  They never knew it wasn't me.

Almost every childhood experience was a shared one.  Very few were otherwise.

Strangely enough, if you ask us about our childhoods, Elaine has an utterly different perspective than mine.  I call it the "raised by wolves theory".  It baffles me.  She had a completely different childhood and was raised by completely different people than I was.  Never ceases to amaze me.

We have "twin" things that amuse us.  Like switching dates when we were in high school.  Like going to the grocery store together.  Like speaking at warp speed and not finishing most of our sentences.  We don't need to.  Like laughing hysterically over shared thoughts communicated by a glance.   Like when our husbands almost slip up and goose the wrong wife.  You wouldn't understand, it's a twin thing. 

We have been through some rough times in our lives both separately and together.  It only made us closer.
She moved in with us almost 5 years ago.  We never have arguments, we never fight, we pretty much always get along.  I think the strongest feeling I would go with would be exasperation or frustration.   Like when I borrow something from her kitchen and don't replace it I know it makes her bonkers.  And it makes me bonkers when she will put greasy disgusting dishes on the counter and say, "leave them, I will do them later", when she knows I am utterly incapable of leaving dirty dishes on the counter.

I love having her here.  I love sharing her life.  And know that when we too are old and gray, that it will still be, "a good thing"

She has moved out now, 17 miles, 11 minutes away without traffic.  She and her husband are very happy and I am happy for them too.  It's a good thing.  But I miss her.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Sometimes There Are No Words

Sometimes there are things in life that just monstrously suck. No bones about it.  And most often, these things happen to other people. Because they happen to other people it is easy to mouth platitudes. Now I am well aware that people don't know what to say and so they often say stupid things. They don't mean to be hurtful, they just are.

I am sorry if this sounds "harsh" but I really don't give a rats ass at the moment.  Someone I love is hurting, body, mind and soul and people saying stupid things or mouthing platitudes makes her feel like she needs to keep up the "cheery cancer patient" facade.
Let me tell you, she doesn't have the time or energy to spend on making YOU feel better about HER cancer!!!Because it isn't OK, it sucks beyond comprehension.  It is terrifying, relentless, painful, and debilitating.


If you don't know what to say, that's OK. Sometimes there are no words.
There are good, solid, practical ways you can show your love and support.
Send a card that might make her laugh.
Send gift cards for the grocery store, the pharmacy or the place she loves to get take out.
Send flowers, a fruit basket or a meal for the freezer.

But above all, please, think before you speak.



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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It Happened at Work


Once upon a time, in a former life, I was the director of a wildlife rehabilitation hospital. 
Along with my husband, we were at the beck and call of the general populace 24/7.  
On any given day there were about 50 "patients" in the clinic, double that in baby bird season.   On this particular day, in the dead of winter, I had a new volunteer coming in for training.  Remember that,  it is going to be a key point to the story.

It had been a particularly harsh winter on the Cape.  Colder and with Nor'easters left and right.  We had birds coming in that one doesn't normally see around here.  They had been blown off course and were weakened and malnourished.  Northern Gannets, those magnificent, white, blue-eyed, insanely large, sharp-beaked birds came in by the dozen that year.  We even had a Razor-Billed Auk come in, personable little chap he was.  
One afternoon, rangers from Sandy Neck beach brought in a pair of swans.  They had been frozen in the ice and they actually cut around them and brought them in ice block and all.  They were clearly a mated pair and they were very weak.  We de-iced them in the bathtub, gave them fluid to rehydrate them and put them in a warm, dark, quiet room for the night.  When I went to check on them in the morning, the male was dead, lying in the shelter of his mates wings.  Though it broke my heart, I had to separate them.  That female hated my guts from that day forward.

Having large birds in the clinic made for a real mess.  We had three swans now and they were kept in one of the larger rooms.  Three times a day we would have to go in there, shoo the swans out, rinse and refill their kiddie pool, remove the sheets on the floor to shake out and wash and refill their food.  Every single time I walked in, that swan would grab my hand in her beak and savage it.  Now birds don't have teeth but they do have hard ridges and after awhile it would get to really hurting.  My hand looked and felt awful, bruised and scabbed.  I didn't hold it against her, but this was getting old!

Enter the new volunteer, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed.   Starry-eyed at the romantic thoughts she'd no doubt conjured in her head about helping the poor, helpless wildlife.  Well, I didn't have time for a grand tour that morning, nor my usual rousing speech so I just told her to shadow us while we got going.  Obediently, she followed along quietly while my volunteers and intern and I began the morning clean ups and feedings.  In we went to the swan's room, and as she did every day the swan reached her long neck over to give me the first bite of the day and so help me God, to this day I don't know what came over me.  I drew my hand back and I bitch-slapped her right across the face.  Taken slightly aback, the swan decided to forego the ritual and on we went to clean the room.  

I hadn't noticed the new volunteer leave in horror but I remembered her when she called later to give me her opinion of the clearly psychotic behavior I had exhibited.  She went on and on and on and I finally handed the phone to a volunteer and told them to never give me the phone again if it was her on the horn.

I'll tell you one thing, that swan never bit me again. 

Epilogue:  
The swan re-mated with one of the two males that had been with her over the winter and was happily released in the spring with her new love.



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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chappaquoit Island

I love tidal flats.  The certain evidence of tidal flow left in sand striations.  I love the smell and the anticipation of the next great find from the girls.  Starfish and snails, hermit crabs and tiny minnows.  Shells and egg cases, beach glass and pebbles all too soon hidden again from view as the tide inexorably flows back to cover them again.






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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Apparently, I am doing it all wrong.

I was out and about in the blogosphere this morning and came across a post lamenting the regimen the writer had to follow on arising in the morning.  I started to panic.  She is 4 years younger than I and is using all these products I have never even heard of and apparently does this every morning!

I was horrified.  
Am I supposed to be using all these things at my age? 
Do I look so awful in the morning that it would send me screaming to my bathroom cabinet for instant help?

Do I just not SEE how awful I look because I don't put my glasses on until I am off the computer in the morning?

I feel like she is using some female secret code for which I never got a key.  
She wrote, " wrinkle cream, brown spot cream, moisturizer, puffy eye cream, dark circle cream, cellulite cream, stretch mark cream and sunblock."  I have heard of exactly 2 of these things.    My little sister would know what they are.  She doesn't need any of them, she has the nerve to be stunning falling out of bed in the morning, but she would probably know what they were. I have no idea.

My beauty regimen in the morning consists of deodorant, re-brushing my ponytail back into order and heading for coffee.  Coffee may not make me beautiful on the outside but it sure does improve my disposition on the inside.  My evening regime involves hot water splashed on my face, witch hazel afterward, smooshing on the moisturizer du jour and brushing my teeth.

Apparently, I am doing it all wrong.  

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Friday, June 11, 2010

In Which We Get New Neighbors

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Daybook goes nicely with Thankful Thursdays




Outside my window...
It is raining.  It has been all night.  A nice , slow steady soaker.  Outside the window the darkness lingers, gray and still.  The kind of day when even an early riser like myself stays just a little longer in bed.

I am thinking...
How thankful I am for my mother inspiring in us a love of music.  Soundtracks I have down thanks to her, and Nat King Cole.  I wish I knew my classical as well as she does but I am learning.  She only recently shared that her knowledge of classical was a gift from her own parents that she treasures.

I am thankful for...
More than I can ever express.  My precious, stubborn, thoughtful wonderful firstborn daughter who helps me through each day in so may tiny ways that I often forget to thank her.  For our youngest and her loving ways and her busyness and enthusiasm.  For my beloved, to whom I have been married, apparently, almost 19 years.  (it took us about 10 minutes the other day to remember the year we were married)

                  From the kitchen...
Nothing.  Not a sound.  Though I am aware that it is a bit of a mess and that I will very shortly need to put a second pot of coffee on for Mike and Rowan.

I am wearing...
In truth, the same old thing I always wear.  I need to loose weight to get back into anything else.  But I do love my favorite, old blue jeans and my black cardigan.  They suit me.

I am creating...
A knitted and felted envelope style purse to put my Nook into.

I am going...
Absolutely nowhere, just the way I like it.  I went to the library Tuesday to pick up Jenna's books about archaeology, her new passion.  
 
I am reading...
My now heavily annotated, The Americans:The Colonial Experience by Daniel Boorstin, (yes, still, for those of you paying attention) and the new Elizabeth Peters, River in the Sky.  And the totally cool thing is that I borrowed the digital version from the library website and loaded it onto my NOOK!

I am hoping...
That my back, which is threatening to go out, doesn't.  That my sister's last chemo goes well this week.  That my plans with my BFF don't fall through and that the BP oil spill somehow, miraculously, doesn't do the damage I know it has.

I am hearing...
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Farewell of the Tsar, from Tsar Saltan - Philadelphia Orchestra on my Live 365 internet radio.  The cat sitting on my mouse pad purring like a furry fool.  The small noises of my husband getting ready for work upstairs and the rain plunking on the deck out the door behind me.
 
Around the house...
The dog hair situation is once again out of control and I will have to vacuum once the kids are up.  I should have woken them almost an hour ago but I am selfishly enjoying the morning for a few minutes more. 
 
One of my favorite things...
Silly though this may be, I truly enjoy having my coffee in a mug that suits my morning mood.  I have many to choose from and I do so every day with care.  This morning it is a tree frog with huge eyes that says, "Got Caffeine?"

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Thursday Park Day is out, the rain took care of that and I am not ungrateful.  Hopefully I will get to grocery shop at some point.  And my BFF and I have plans for tomorrow that I am looking forward to immensely.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday, Coonamesset Farm on Shearing Day




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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Photos Post-Storm

I awoke to massive thunderstorms.  I got my coffee and Rowan and I sat on the staircase until the worst of it was over, doing a crossword.  Meanwhile the dog barked at every clap of thunder (incessantly) and the cats hid under the bed more in terror of the dog than the storm.  Eventually the sun broke through and I went to open the window.  
Looking out, the sun was reflecting off the raindrops on the foliage in the front garden and I ran for my camera.  So beautiful.






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Friday, June 4, 2010

Extracurriculars

A question was posed on my message boards this morning.  
It asked, "How many of us grew up without all the expensive extracurricular activities that kids grow up with today".  It seems like most kids today have dance and sports, riding, gymnastics and all sorts of organized and expensive activities that their parents spend countless dollars on and immeasurable time taking them to and from.  

As I answered the question, I was inspired to write about my childhood and its "lack" of expensive extracurriculars.  We didn't do sports, nor dance lessons, nor martial arts, nor gymnastics.  We spent very little time in the car and we rarely rushed anywhere.  Were we deprived?  Were we at a disadvantage in some way?  Were we robbed of opportunity?

We did Girl Scouts from Brownies til we got our 5 year pins.  I don't recall why it stopped.  I do recall my mother's devotion to our activities.  In particular, I remember a pet show we put on.  We had our Siamese cat in a wicker basket.  I don't even remember the actual event but I remember that it had been pouring and the car got stuck under the train bridge.  It was a blue car my grandfather had given us and my mother hated it.  It stalled at a drop of rain and here it was pouring buckets.  This in the days before cell phones!  Someone drove us to the other side of the bridge where Mom was and the transfer of kids and cats to the car was the stuff of legend.  Up to our calves in swirling water, in the dark, handing over the big wicker basket with the cats in it, it was thrilling to us back them.  But oh the feeling of safety when we caught sight of our Mom standing there in the pouring rain waiting for us. 

One year my sister and I got to go to summer camp.  I loved it, my sister hated it and came home.  Mostly,  summers were spent on the beach.  In Hyannisport, with my grandparents, we spent the days in the sand and surf and tide-pools.  Belly down hanging over the dock we would observe and collect for the day the wonders of the sea.  Starfish, Pipe Eels, Puffers.  We would go out on my grandparents sailboat, the Lello Baby, for the day with picnic baskets made by my grandmother.  They were filled with things we didn't usually get to have, soda, chips and pickles.  Hanging our feet over the bow in the spray we would sing while my grandfather played the harmonica.  Gospel songs, sea chanties and folk songs were the order of the day.  Fishing the Twin Rocks with drop-lines for Scup and Sea Bass.  Glorious times and shorter lived than any of us would have liked.

Later on the scene would switch to Sandy Neck Beach.  Out we would go in my father's red Scout, packed up and loaded for bear and the day out near the point.  Arriving, we would wait in the line that had already formed (to my Dad's disgust) and as we waited the ritual of letting the air out of the tires for better traction in the sand would commence.  (As would my Dad's comments on who was going to get stuck because they did it wrong.)  Half the fun was pulling tourists out of the sand.  Playing in the dunes, standing in the water until you went numb so that you could swim in that frigid North-side water.  Gathering sand-dollars underwater on the submerged sandbars, grilling on the Hibachi, long walks looking for treasures with my Mom.  Laying on a towel reading in the shade of the Scout.  Heading home tired, making fun of the lobster red tourists who didn't know enough to put sunscreen on.

We grew up when it was still safe to let kids roam and roam we did.  Across the street to the field to pick wildflowers and wild strawberries.  Up to the power lines to pick blueberries and play Indians for the day.  Down to the pond to swim and play on the tire swing.  We'd cobble makeshift rafts together and play Tom Sawyer poling the thing, half submerged around the perimeter.  We had King of the Raft fights with the neighbor kids and played under the raft in the airspace created by the large foam pieces that kept it afloat.  Down to play until we heard Mom's voice floating across the water, calling for us to come home.

We had a Mom that colored with us and read to us.  A gift beyond imagining.  I remember her reading to us in the evenings.  Once, during a storm, by the light of a pink candle in our bedroom.  We didn't own a ton of books but we read over and over the ones we had.  The My Book House series, even the Dictionary and the Encyclopedias were fair game.  Little Women, The Secret Garden and the delightful books that arrived from the Weekly Reader Book Club!!  Jerome, Miss Suzy, Miss Twiggley's Tree, Cranberry Christmas and more.

There were two libraries in biking distance and I would go and get all the books my heart desired.  I had some I would read over and over again.  Indian Captive, Jubilee Trail, Mrs. Mike, Christy, All Creatures Great and Small and others.  I can still see Indian Captive in my head, it was yellow and when you opened it the wonderful pencil sketches that adorned each page were a source of fascination.  Later on my mother bought me one of my most beloved treasures, a leather-bound set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with the Hobbit.  I can't imagine how many payments she had to make for them.  I read them almost annually. I would go out to my favorite tree, put my books, my cat and some apples in the basket, climb up and haul up my stash and sit on my favorite limb and read for hours.

I had piano lessons and played on a piano my Dad, as I recall, got from a bar?  It has glass stains and cigarette burns on it and I loved it.  Later on, I exchanged babysitting for my lessons.  I couldn't stand those kids.  Oh well.  My Mom loved to hear me play.  I would play songs from the King and I for her, they were a favorite.  "Hello Young Lovers" I would play and from the kitchen or her desk, she would sing along.

My Mom loved musicals and played them all the time.  With our friends we would put on our own productions of West Side Story and the Sound of Music, Camelot and later on Grease in the playroom. From my Dad,  I got my love of country music, which my Mom hated.  He would play it downstairs in his workroom on the 8 track.  I still love Nancy Sinatra's,  These Boots Were Made for Walking.   When we did dishes together after dinner each night, Mom would often lead off rounds of her favorites.  And we would sing together while we worked.

We had a sandbox my Dad built and we would spend countless hours making mounds and creating in them fairy houses.  Acorns, sticks, berries and what have you became furniture and tea sets and decoration in these playthings.  In the world my mother created for us, fairies were as real as fireflies.  The kind she would let us get out out of bed in our nightgowns, in the heat of a summer evening, to collect in a Ball jar and have til the morning beside our bed.  We had a swing and a seesaw too, the stuff childhood is made from.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that whatever we missed out on from a lack of funds was and remains completely irrelevant.  We were blessed with a childhood, the gift of time to be children and the raw material in which to do it to our heart's content.

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