Sunday, September 13, 2015

Friends: preliminary thoughts

"Friend" -- always to me an ambiguous word. Is a friend more than an acquaintance? Is a friend one I never disagree with, and vice versa?  Are we soul mates, whatever that means?!

In grammar school it was one thing; same w/ high school. Friends were proximate, for starters. But what was the draw?

Not till college do I now consciously remember friends being intellectual mates, and then/therefore, "friends" -- e.g., those in the same group I was for communications/lit classes. No need to deny now: we were advanced/special/gifted (tho I didn't know that at the time). So in a sense, we also competed w/ one another, besides having fun together. . . One, Estelle, was special, at least for some time.

Then, while teaching and in state govt., first there was Pam, mainly my horseback riding friend;  a (very) few of those I worked w/ in Trenton (Debbie S., Barbara R.); and gradually I moved over to the artists I was trying to learn about via my PAA volunteering. Friends morphed into admired artists-- quite a difference, really. 

After that, freelance writing and auditing PU courses introduced me to many others -- Charlotte B., Gwendolyn, many others, however fleetingly, although some friends from earlier stayed the course -- Barbara, as a main one.

By then, I was looking for different things, or more than, fun from friends: similar interests, values; admiration, a chance to learn . . . Except for Maggi over many years, artists I wrote about came and went; I'd see them for a while, then not, then again. And many of them were a deal older than I -- was I looking for a mother-sub? 

Besides, so many artists are hopeless narcissists. Thus, Connie, and others, whose focus was inward. 

Others I wrote about, like Susie, also came and went, depending on life events and their or my needs. . . Gail is another -- but she's on the west coast!

Now, looking back, those who have hung in w/ me -- Barbara and Gwendolyn leading the pack -- were not the ones I would have bet on, or even hoped would do so. . . then. But oh, how I value them now, now when I'm more interested in character than much else. 

Friends. Much more to say on this; to follow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

End of pool season (flashback to 9-4-15)

Waxing sentimental about our pool season, which ended last Friday -- a season we concluded has encompassed four summers of going to the Princeton Community Park Pool for sun, warm water (mostly!), relaxing, forcible removal from home routines. No denying it's a time gobbler: up to 4 hours spent commuting, lapping, showering and re-dressing each pool day. But so worth it!

The 2 women I've been aware of for the last few weeks this summer: they're older, they wear 2-piece suits (inappropriately, I've thought), they sit in the sun on the pool deck, regularly applying sun screen, especially on their bare (midriffs? bellies? torsos?) as if they enjoy doing it, feeling it. Who knows what they think of while applying it -- remembering their youth and beauty? another time or place? a different person smoothing it on them?

When one of them -- the one who drives there in a small convertible and who looks the best, in her black sunglasses w/ her wavy blondish hair -- walks around, her belly curves out, while her shoulders curve in. That's when her age is so apparent. But to give her credit, she doesn't conceal her body, or refrain from walking around. I like to think she's reached this point and feels she earned the sensuous relaxation of these pool days.   

I also like to think she has enjoyed shared sensuousness, and maybe now her own touch on herself with that sunscreen is a kind of reminder of such good things earlier in her life.

And then this reality: some people look much better (fully) dressed than (virtually) undressed. 

So, adieu to the pool and all the people (including the many we nicknamed), and the fudge bars and the occasional fries -- but most of all, the healthful feeling of just being there, making our way through the water and feeling better for it. . . and being lucky enough for all that to happen.


Two in the Pool 

Like a tropical fish whose fluttery fins
undulate gracefully
next to me --
briefly --
before speeding far ahead,
the girl in the “medium” speed lane
leaves me, like a manatee,
moving deliberately
toward the end
of “slow.”


Sun Tracks

Easy to tell without looking up
when the sun moves behind a cloud:
Looking down, I see the water darken
while golden ripple lines on the bottom –
a wavy plaid of light-through-aqua –
fade away.



Labor Day & beyond

To a summer-lover, what's worse than Labor Day? Easy: the day after Labor Day, when no-more-summer actually begins. . . and runs for months, getting colder and darker as it goes. Ugh! For that summer-lover, next April will bring the first (brief, temporary, taunting) ray of hope -- for warmth, color, comfort!

That summer-lover is already planning indoor things to do: painting walls and furniture, and reading this or that; drinking tea; training a certain B & W cat to come or to sit; learning to play w/ both cats; baking . . . fighting depression from the inside!    

Winter's also a recipe-testing time. We found a number of "keeper" meals that way last winter. And in truth, it can be beautiful in a snowy way, or even a bleak and barren way. But it wears on one. And once Halloween, then Thanksgiving, have both come and gone, winter -- with all its discomforts and unending chill -- is here.

Which accounts for our looking forward to January's Caribbean visit, the 10 days in warmth and beauty in the midst of stark winter. . . to which we must return. But by then, it's only ("only"!) February and March before the magic and hope of April -- which is not "the cruellest month," but the  month before "the merry month of May"!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Best birthday yet

Yesterday was my birthday, and I loved it, as usual. In fact, the anticipation was almost better than the day itself.

Why celebrate a birthday? All any of us do that day was to be born: no effort, no achievement, no changing the world. And yet, we -- or at least, I -- do celebrate my birthday, as well as the natal day of those I love. Even though there's no quantifiable reason for doing so, or, to use the current buzzword, no "metrics" are involved in deciding to celebrate a birthday.

So, when my birthday dawned, I was glad and excited about it. Very deliberately, I savored everything that happened because it happened on my birthday. For instance, we drove to the pool for our laps, and I was particularly conscious of the scenery on the way, the beautiful summer day it was and Joe's wonderful company, as usual, yet even more appreciated then. Colors seemed brighter, people seemed nicer, worries/problems seemed miniscule and "handle-able."

The day progressed and I kept that frame of mind, even w/ a big annoyance that afternoon. Tomorrow would be time enough to act on it, I thought. (And I did act on it today.)

Then came the birthday party, with my three boys but mainly w/ Joe. (Harry and Billy had decamped for the 2nd floor, unlike them w/ food around. But then again, they'd been particularly loving pussycats  that morning -- uncharacteristically demonstrative.)

Our party-for-two, consisting as usual of brie and bubbly (with a few other nice edibles), and ice cream pie . . . was, as always, a very happy affair. I was, and am, perfectly content: in the home I love w/ the man I love. "Who could ask for anything more?"

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bliss of 2 kinds – watery & artful

Monday and Tuesday of this week were ideal swimming pool days for me: bright sun, high temp, warm water, relatively few people in the pool. I could have lapped and lapped – it was effortless and totally pleasurable. Now and then, I dove under in my lane, playing porpoise, or dolphin, whatever. . . (as close to playful as I come in a pool).

Often, something about the pool is “off”: too many people clogging “my” already “slow” lane, shockingly cool water, intermittent-only sunshine. That last is the worst. I would happily trade state secrets for steady sunshine on cool-water days, when I must labor up and down, hoping to see the telltale patterns in the water that tell me the sun has broken through.  

But Monday and Tuesday made up for many less comfortable days.


Then today’s visit to “the new Whitney,” which opened May 1 in a different part of NYC – a wonderful place! With myriad close-up views of the Hudson River, the High Line, the district around the museum (roof gardens, w/ furniture and lights. . .), as well as the World Trade Center, the Empire State building and other landmarks . . . simply standing on one of the museum’s (8th, 7th and 6th floor) terraces to look around and enjoy the breeze – not to mention the sculpture there too – was a huge thrill.

The many-floored opening exhibit, “America is hard to see,” w/ a title from Robert Frost, was terrific in the parts I saw, which I didn’t begin to do thoroughly. Instead, I walked through everything, for an overview of both the place itself and the art on view.

The Whitney will be a repeat destination!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

World Elephant Day

Today is “world elephant day.” Knowing it was coming, I thought about what I might do or write here to awaken people to the crisis, the very real possibility that African elephants in the wild may become extinct in our lifetime. I wanted to find just the right argument to dissuade the horrible people who crave ivory, and therefore the horrible poachers who slaughter elephants.

I wanted to stop reading about and seeing photos and videos of orphaned baby elephants, creatures who usually live with their mothers for years, and now are regularly found alone and grieving for their murdered mothers. (One baby, inconsolable, recently just died, despite the care he was getting in a sanctuary. It simply wasn’t enough to make up for his shattered life.)  In many cases, these orphaned babies see their families slaughtered; how can they possibly recover from that?

The truth is, if elephants will be saved from more trauma and possible extinction, it will take much more power (I don’t think mere persuasiveness works here) than I have, or than any single person has. The bracelets saying "burn the ivory" won't make a difference, nor will marches or letters to the editor... or world elephant days.  

Will the mad desire for money, truly the root of all evil, prevail? Will people continue to be heartlessly short-sighted? Will elephants disappear?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Of 2-piece swimsuits & William Wordsworth


Feeling catty (although real cats probably don’t ever feel this way!): Women of all ages should be free to dress any way they please. That’s a given. Even when how “they please” doesn’t become them and/or draws stares and maybe even titters.

Case in point: 2 truly elderly women at “our pool” recently. They both wore 2-piece swimsuits, in which they looked inappropriate. . . even pathetic. Now why did they choose those suits? The only ones they had on hand? Their favorite suits (from long ago)? Thought they looked good? All – or none – of those reasons?

In a way, I almost admire their guts for doing this, especially considering all the 16-year olds (give or take) in 2-piece suits, wandering around the pool. But maybe these women weren’t gutsy, just oblivious.

Even thought I’d still speak in their defense for garbing up as they did, I can also wish they hadn’t done it. And I do.


Come on, Bill: you’re with friends!  

Sorry, but I don’t buy this:

According to The Writer’s Almanac, “It was on this day in 1798 that the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth, while on a walking tour of Wales with his sister, Dorothy, saw the ruins of Tintern Abbey, which inspired his poem ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798.’ Wordsworth claimed the 1,200 lines came to him with the greatest of ease, entirely in his head.

“He said: ‘No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant for me to remember than this. I began it upon leaving Tintern, after crossing the Wye, and concluded it just as I was entering Bristol in the evening, after a ramble of four or five days with my notes. Not a line of it was altered, not any part of it written down till I reached Bristol.’ ”

OK, it was another era, when people weren’t wrapped up in their “devices” and current events . . . but knowing how hard I find it to memorize others’ poems, or parts, I just can’t believe Wordsworth composed and remembered as he has described it. (Nor do I remember liking ‘Tintern Abbey’ very much, way back in British Lit.)