Tag Archives: observations

The sun also rises

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Photo: Jessica Kelly

Tonight we laughed under a sky filled with shadows and ever changing bands of purple and fuchsia. As the sun set in the west, I waded through the tide to reach the bridge so I could witness (and cheer on) the daredevil feats of 4 boys. It was a magical evening.

The wind was wet and warm driving away the pesky green headed flies and allowing the guys to jump “one more time” again and again. I thought about their boldness and admired their nerve. It gets harder as we age to take leaps into the quasi darkness.

We’re approaching a second full moon for the month of July, a blue moon, and the waters are responding by becoming deeper at high tide. On our little slice of heaven the road leading to the bridge becomes unpassable, prompting a sense of isolation which can leave us feeling comforted or detached. Or maybe both.

The water, though, will recede and our path will again be revealed. And, of course, despite tonight’s fascination with the colors of the setting of the sun, the sun will also rise.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, musings, Summer, vacation

Why print news producers should be inspired by breast milk

Image: time.com

Image: time.com

This is going to take a minute to explain, so bear with me. To begin, if you’ve ever had any experience with breastfeeding, be it yourself or someone who you’ve observed nursing a child, you’re probably familiar with the term “liquid gold” as a synonym for breast milk. It’s that precious of a commodity.

When one of my children was struggling to breastfeed, I resigned myself to feeding him breast milk from a bottle, rationalizing that it was the contents, not the vessel in which it was fed (delivered). It was a consolation. To use a news term, the takeaway was that my child was getting the nutrition he needed, even if the physical connection to the source wasn’t present.

Now, if you consider knowledge and information to also be precious commodities you’re probably a consumer of news. How dimageo you get your news? How has your method of acquiring information changed in the last 20 years? How about the last 3 years?

Personally, I only read the print edition of the local paper on Sundays. It’s a lovely little ritual complete with a second mug of coffee, scissors to clip coupons and an Edith Piaf or Miles Davis Pandora station.* The other six days of the week, I’m taking in news via Twitter, Facebook or news websites like timesunion.com, nyt.com and yes, even dailymail.co.uk.

I still want news, it’s just the vessel that has changed. Kind of like that breast milk in a bottle thing. Just because the print edition of a newspaper isn’t a growth industry, doesn’t mean that people don’t want to read news. And you know how breastmilk is uniquely formulated to meet the needs of an infant? That’s what these media-other-than-print information providers are already doing.

Digital news is preselected by the consumer according to the reader’s interests, politics and beliefs. Just think of who you follow on your various media platforms.  You get to decide what and when you want to read the news of the day. It’s like feeding on demand and I think it’s pretty cool – and satisfying.

Yep, there are times when you just have to bottle it – be it breast milk or the news.

*See? Music is still consumed, just in a different way!

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Filed under musings, News, Random

Screen play

I’ve been slightly obsessed with the windows in my second story home. Many of the windows are on the larger size and Jeter likes to situate himself so his paws are propping him up on the window sill. My big fear is that he will attempt to chase something he sees outside of the window and the screen will get pushed out with Jeter to follow. Ugh. 11234002_10153291393997889_3796212111829749983_n

To lessen the chance of this frequently imagined tragedy from ever occurring, I generally only crack the lower window, opting instead to get my fresh air by pulling down the top window which is beyond Jeter’s reach. Now that I’ve resolved my own personal window anxiety inducer, I’ve cast my attention in other directions, at other screens that have caught my eye. Like the two I noticed last weekend during a walk.

The first were more an issue about a lack of screens, to be specific. As I was looking up at building near Lark Street, I noticed a 4 story building with open windows but no screens. I felt a little uncomfortable about the lack of screens, as my imagination kicked in and I started to picture small children and animals tumbling out of that gaping hole some forty or fifty feet up. Then I wondered shouldn’t there be some kind of window guards or something? You know those things that prevent a lower window from being raised beyond a certain point? I did a little research and it seems like there is an ordinance (Ordinance Number 62.81.06 ) but maybe code enforcement needs to direct some attention that way?

Jeter and I next made our way through the park and up New Scotland and over to Academy. I couldn’t help but notice a first floor window screen leaning against the front of a brick building. Naturally, my first thought was that the screen had been removed by someone either exiting or entering through the window. Is that a weird conclusion to make?

Eyes may be the windows to the soul, but open windows and screens cause fear in my heart.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, Exercise, Local, musings, Random

Call me Caitlyn

Image: NBCNews.com

Image: NBCNews.com

There was a phrase a couple of years back that became so ubiquitous that I developed a physical response to hearing it. Each time someone uttered “It is what it is,” the hair on the back of my neck legitimately stood up and I began to exhale loudly. The phrase annoyed me, I think because it seemed so passive, so completely relinquishing control. Not my way, I guess.

The phrase that I’m hearing kind of frequently now is one I find less irritating – You do you. My hippie wannabe son has been dropping it on me for quite a few months, yet it hasn’t even begun to wear on my nerves. In fact, I kind of love it and I find myself smiling each time I hear it. You do you.

During my run tonight, I was thinking that nothing so perfectly illustrates the transition from It is what it is to You do you as Caitlyn née Bruce Jenner. Olympic hero and put upon parent to a collection of 10 (?) children, Bruce Jenner could have elected to continue flirting with Caitlyn, perhaps indulging his desire for female attributes and accoutrements exclusively out of the public eye, but instead, he decided to do him. Or, more accurately, her.

I can’t imagine the conflict experienced by a person who constantly feels that their external self does not accurately reflect their internal reality. It’s hard enough to look in the mirror occasionally and behold an image that doesn’t match the way we’re feeling – where did those lines and wrinkles come from? I still feel like I’m 22! The continual clash between personal perception of self and the visage we present to humanity can’t be anything short of perpetually jarring.

At 65 years of age, Caitlyn Jenner was introduced to the world in a way that has caused a social media frenzy. Some folks are having a difficult time reconciling Bruce with Caitlyn, are struggling to accept that a man who became an international hero by asserting his athletic prowess in one of the world’s most ancient events, prefers to define himself as female. You know what? It is what it is. You do you. All the best to you, Caitlyn Jenner.

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Filed under musings, News, Random, Uncategorized

What home feels like

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The stone staircase alongside the waterfall

Memorial Day weekend probably seems like the ultimate cliché when it comes to traveling a couple of hours (or more) to revisit one’s childhood. Not to take anything away from our nation’s true heroes, but surviving our teenaged years in the small village of Greenwood Lake made us veterans of an entirely different sort.

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Fitzgerald’s Falls

Since we had been brought back to the lake to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Class of 1980, meeting at the Middle School for what we exaggeratedly called a “hike,” was the perfect re-entry to the past. Heading for the trail, we walked alongside the brick building where we had once ruled, recalling intramural soccer games, events from the bicentennial celebration of 1976 and the family of ducks who once resided next to the now fenced in pond. It all felt like it could have been yesterday.

The trail into the woods was filled with memories of hikes, both with teachers and without adult supervision. How lucky were we to have had the Appalachian Trail behind our school and to have grown up at a time when exploring our surroundings was considered a valid use of class time? How many nights did we spend in the woods drinking cheap beer, listening to the waterfall splash against the mossy rocks, gaining an entirely different education?

Pink lady's slipper orchid

Pink lady’s slipper orchid

When we got to town a little later in the afternoon, it was remarkably familiar, yet ever so different. Businesses have come and gone, as is to be expected, but the renaming of childhood landmarks was jarring. What was known as “the field” or Pembleton’s to the more precise, was now named after someone who made their mark long after most of us had left the lake for lives elsewhere.  It felt like a weird responsibility to be the bearer of memories of what came before.

If I squinted my eyes I could still see the flea markets and fairs of long ago, along with the remnants of what was rumored to have once been a play area complete with mini golf and a concrete pool in which to sail toy boats. Situating myself along Windemere Avenue, relying upon buildings which may serve different purposes yet eternally remain the post office and Christman’s Realty to me, I located the slab of concrete which will always time stamp both my first “serious” boyfriend and the year the sidewalks were installed in town.

Look closely - can you read it?

Look closely – can you read it?

I took a run around the arm of the lake, a distance which is far shorter in miles than I ever would have guessed. So many of the places are different yet easily envisioned in my mind’s eye. Frank’s Pizzeria, now a residential building, but once home to great slices and a nice man who often gave me a ride up the mountain on his way home. The Bristol Bridge, long ago replaced by a span with far less interest and minus my name written in surprisingly weather resistant red lipstick.  McMansion-esque home replacing the cottages and bungalows where my friends lived so many years ago.

In Greenwood Lake everything feels familiar, yet nothing is exactly the same. Going home is like being dunked in a well of memories, moments from the past which, upon reflection, either gain or lose significance. There are ghosts everywhere – of friends lost to time or death and older versions of ourselves. But there’s a comfort in all of it. We were there and who we are today is directly related to the experiences we shared so many years ago. Going home feels like just the place I wanted to be this weekend.

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Filed under aging, friends, musings, relationships, road trips, Schools, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Black boys on mopeds

England’s not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It’s the home of police who kill blacks boys on mopeds
And I love my boy and that’s why I’m leaving
I don’t want him to be aware that there’s
Any such thing as grieving.

I’ve had these lyrics from an old Sinead O’Connor song kicking around in my head recently. It would be easy enough, and equally accurate, to substitute America for England, wouldn’t it? When my middle son asked me last night why police officers keep killing young black men, I was at a loss. The only response I could articulate was this – Because they’ve done it one way or another for years and continue to get away with it.

I don’t know what it’s like to be the mother of black boys, but I do understand that parenting black children, particularly males, involves issues, that will probably never impact my children. Is this just or fair? Absolutely not. Has it been the reality of our society for generations? Without a doubt, yes.

I suspect that involved and proactive black parents have discussions with their children about how to respond to law enforcement officers to avoid becoming the next Michael Brown or Tamir Rice, a topic I’ve never felt the need to broach with my sons. I very much doubt that a video produced by a young white man would resonate as deeply as this recent viral video created by Will Stack did. The reason? My sons, by virtue of their skin color and not necessarily their behavior, are at far less risk of being approached by police officers than male black teens, a truth that is well documented here.

It’s clear that we have a serious and pervasive problem in our country when it comes to law officers and their interactions with black citizens. There’s another issue, though, that we as a nation need to address – gun violence. According to this report “Firearm homicide alone, and by extension firearm violence, was the leading cause of death for Black men ages 15–34 in 2012…” Just this week in Albany, two teenagers (the same ages as my own two teenagers) and a third male were arrested for shooting three people, one a 27-year-old man, who died of his injuries.

Where are these guns coming from?  Where are the parents of those two teenaged boys who have effectively ruined their lives, as well as the lives of the 6 children now left fatherless?  Those two teenagers presumably went to the same high school as my sons.  Where did they learn that guns were a solution to conflict?

Like Sinead said “These are dangerous times.”

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Local, musings, News

Living (too) large

You know how they say “travel is broadening?” Well, when it comes to the size of my ass, I’d definitely have to agree. Seriously, I’ve taken to referring to my hips as “croissant” and “pain au chocolat.” Whatever. I don’t regret eating a single slab of pâté or hunk of Camembert. It was vacation.

Now that I’m home, though, I’m actually feeling the need to downsize a bit. And I’m not just talking about the size of my hips. You see, one of the things that struck me during my travels was the simplicity of how Europeans live. Both apartments where we stayed, one modern and one in a more aged building, were built on a much small-scale than their American counterparts. Honestly, it made our American tendency to accumulate seem downright vulgar.

Let me give you a couple of examples…

The bedroom closets are really compact to accommodate much smaller wardrobes than those of the typical American. I’m talking maybe 2 ½ feet of hanging rod space and a handful of drawers. Coming home to my walk-in step-in closet and double-sided rolling clothing rack embarrassed me. Why do I have so much frigging clothing?

Both flats had lovely, updated kitchens. If these kitchens are any indication, Ikea seems to dominate the market and I am definitely going to consider going that route myself when I address my tired kitchen cabinets. Both kitchens were well laid out and contained more than adequate storage for the limited number of necessary items. That being said, neither kitchen had extraneous space, merely enough cupboards for cookware, dishes, glassware and some pantry items. Why do American kitchens require so much space?

One of the apartments we rented had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a combined kitchen, dining and living room. The other had 2 bedrooms, a large loft sleeping area, kitchen and combined living/dining room. There was one bathroom. I don’t think either of these apartments exceeded 800 or 900 square feet. Why do new American homes need to be nearly three times that size? Who convinced us that we should aspire to maintain, heat and clean such large residences?

Time for me to minimize.

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Filed under Europe, house, musings, Observations, travel, vacation