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.)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Much-needed reminder: Simplicity!

from Henry David Thoreau's Walden, published on this date in 1854 and coming at just the right time in my self-indulgently too-busy life, which leaves too little time for me to pay attention to the people (incl pets!) and issues that matter most to me.

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail …

I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude …

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hour …

A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.