Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Child

Ruth posted a lovely oil her mother painted of her when she was a young girl. This moved me to post one my mother painted of me when I was 8 or 9. This had been stashed away in a storage room in my mother’s apartment building, then I took it and many other paintings of hers that I loved when I moved into my Park Slope apartment in the early ’90s.

When we moved to Florida I packed up paintings and objets d’art, family treasures and mementos, from my great-grandmother’s clock circa 1888 to a ceramic bowl and little jet plane my son made in school. I took what art I could remove from frames to box up or put in my zippered portfolio. This painting was longer than any of my boxes could accommodate, and it was damaged, by exposure to sunlight I suppose, with paint cracking and flaking off. So I pried off the lath frame, cut it out of the stretcher bars, and put it in the portfolio. I’m so glad I posted it on my mother’s website so I could copy and paste it here, as it was before it was badly damaged.

My life is very challenging now, and if you’re in my life now, you know that. But the art that graces our home reminds me that I was loved and cherished, and my love for my gifted parents will always remain in my heart.

Spared By Dorian, Buffeted by Dementia

Compare this photo and the following video I took today with the video I took two weeks ago here. The walkable beach here in Naples on the Florida Gulf coast is narrower, and most of the shells I saw as I walked along the water’s edge were broken. The wind was very strong and you can really hear it. I had brought my lunch to the beach and settled at a covered table where I could see the water. I had to hold onto my purse, sandwich and drink while I ate to keep anything from being blown away, not easy to do with two hands. We are about 125 miles from the Atlantic coast of Florida and much further from the hurricane itself, and have been getting some effects from the outer bands, but there’s no danger to life or property here as far as I’ve heard. The east coast has been hunkered down for days, and we were briefly. Unfortunately cognitive impairment prevents some from understanding here from there, or us from them, or safety from danger. I am so grateful for the people and organizations here who understand this and provide so much help and support.

When I saw videos of the devastation in the several of the Bahama islands after they were strafed by category five hurricane winds for over 48 hours, I could hardly take it in. The drone view was from a height that made much of the debris field unrecognizable, but it’s hard to imagine how many people can have survived. This devastation strikes me as being analogous to that being visited upon the brain suffering from progressive dementia. It’s hard to imagine anything surviving, and yet much does, at least for a while. And for any of this, and for all those who help us weather the storm, we are very grateful.

Reasons for Hope

A welcome respite

from hurricane news and our once feeble but increasingly robust preparations, such as they are, was this lovely story about crows.
https://www.thedodo.com/in-the-wild/crows-bring-gifts-to-kind-woman

Toggling between our tribal news channel and the Weather Channel, the level of anxiety in our household grows exponentially. We submitted our application weeks ago for our county’s Special Needs Shelter (they stress they are to be seen as a “shelter of last resort”), and I called to confirm with relief that we’re in their system and learned where to go, with Daisy, if they call to tell us to evacuate. We both qualify as special needs since I must sleep no further than six and a half feet from the electronic machine that reads my heart monitor every night, and our other challenges make qualifying a no-brainer. Our shelter will be set up in a high school gym, and I have our Go Bags packed for ourselves and our cat. Can you figure out whose is whose?

Publix was out of water when we got there today, so we went to CVS and found plenty. Now we have big two cases of bottled water in one car and one case in the other. Obviously I can’t drive both cars, so when/if we get the order to evacuate, we’ll stash one car in the garage, probably the smaller one, and take the other to the shelter. I’m trying to stay abreast of the items we’ve been told to have on hand. As of now we’ve got the aforementioned water, full tanks of gas, batteries, non-perishable foods, and now, a solar USB charger. Best Buy was sold out of the affordable models when I checked yesterday, so I found one on Amazon and, I kid you not, it came this afternoon! It was already charged and even has a fancy light that can flash the SOS code, strobe, and beam a steady light, dim or blinding. All for less than $50! Tucked that puppy in my Go Bag. It’s really quite spectacular.

Wishing you all a lovely Labor Day weekend. If we cook out on the grill in coming days, let’s hope it’s not because we had to use all the meat in the freezer. And please do send some positive vibes our way. Our Sunshine State could really use them!

Savoring the Joy as I find It

Sometimes a day is unstructured and we don’t know what to expect. I wondered what to do with myself for four hours today without any responsibilities or expectations. I dropped in on a support group, late, but still. Then I took myself out for lunch alone, a surprisingly authentic pastrami on rye. Next I parked by the beach and took a brief walk on the sand. As local residents, parking is always free for us. Here’s the video I took, which I sent to my granddaughter who just let us know she is engaged to be married. I am thrilled for her! He’s a Marine and she’ll be living closer to us soon. Then I went to my therapy office nearby and did some creative writing. The plot began to fall into place as my fingers flew across the keyboard. A character revealed the why and the how! When all was said and done, I resumed my busy life of caregiving, recharged and grateful.

Enjoy:

The goodness in me bows to the goodness in you, and to that in all living beings.

Juneteenth: Keeping Faith with Our African American Brothers and Sisters

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On this Nineteenth of June 2019 African Americans around the United States commemorate the Abolition of slavery. It has been called Juneteenth since 1865, even though Lincoln proclaimed the end of slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963. African Americans in Texas still toiled in bondage until June 19, 1865 when news of the Proclamation finally reached Texas, and, in some cases grudgingly, slaves were notified they were free at last. Perhaps now, as never before, do we need to remember who we are as Americans in all our varieties and ancestral origins. As hatred is spoken around and about the highest offices in the land, we must celebrate all that is good, kind and right within one another. Hatred cannot stand, and in the longer scheme of things, it will not. But for now, as hearts are wounded and rage engendered, let there be balm in Gilead.

A few weeks ago while I was in a medical office making a return appointment the African American clerk offered me June 19. My calendar noted the date was Juneteenth, and I had a conflict anyhow, so we found another day. I mentioned that this date was Juneteenth, and she looked at me blankly. I was prompted to ask if she knew what it was. When she said no I gave a feeble explanation. I asked if she was familiar with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem, and she said she was. I had heard it on a radio broadcast, entranced, two years ago and that evening blogged about this amazing music here. I told her the song and the day were related. Evidently it wasn’t until Ralph Abernathy and Coretta Scott King incorporated Juneteenth into the Poor People’s March to Washington DC in 1968 that the tradition was carried home to communities around the nation. The Juneteenth World Wide website gives its detailed history.

Yesterday in The Forward, a Jewish periodical that goes back to 1897, Tema Smith in its Opinion section called for Jews to celebrate Juneteenth with our African American brethren and sisters. She writes:

Let the Jewish community take cues from black leaders who ask them to reckon with hard truths — truths like the fact that the wealth of America was built on the back of African slaves from whom our black community is largely descended. Truths like the fact that many Jews in pre-Civil War America were silent on slavery, and some did, in fact, own slaves. Truths like, while many in our Jewish community have been able to access reparations for our communal tragedy of the Holocaust, black Americans continue to fight for theirs.

Smith ends her powerful piece with these immortal words of Emma Lazarus, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

And today as a Congressional Reparations hearing begins in Congress, I end this post with one of the most haunting and evocative anthems I have ever heard. A capella group Committed sings “Lift Every Voice and Sing”:

Signature

Red Winged Blackbird

Photo courtesy of David at Incidental Naturalist

He sings, he cheekily sounds an earsplitting chirp, and he rasps like a rusty gate.

Displaying his red and yellow epaulets, the Red Wing Blackbird wakes me daily, calling back and forth with his peers, from the tall grasses dividing lawn and lake to the grassy tussocks across the narrow inlet behind our house. Dawn to dusk they make their presence known to me. My Peterson’s Birds of North America, an app worth every cent of the $20 charge, says they are here in Southwest Florida year round, but they arrived late last fall and if past is prologue will soon be gone again.

How I love the birds who grace my life with their songs and movement and flashes of color. From waders to raptors to songbirds, we have them all here in our pond. Even a Brown Pelican sometimes finds us, patrolling the perimeter and dipping his huge beak in the water to get his fill of the small fish. A Kite soars overhead, easily identified by his forked tail. An Osprey descends to clutch a fish and fly off with it firmly in its talons, head first, like a bomb under a military plane. After Hurricane Irma and we were still snowbirds, we returned in October to find scores of statuesque Wood Storks perched on rooflines and in the trees, and ringing an overflow catchment filled with fish. We saw them here and there this past winter but they’re long gone now.

A couple of weeks ago I spotted a smallish bird perching on a woody stalk by the water’s edge, and consulting Peterson’s I tried to identify it. At first I thought it was a Least Bittern or American Bittern. Then I decided it was a Green Heron. I played its call and it oriented towards me. Eureka!

Let us notice and savor the natural world around us, even if only a trail of ants along a city sidewalk. We are not alone here. We can turn from our personal troubles, large and small, along the day and know this.

Be well.

A Day to Remember

Today is Memorial Day, or as it was called in my youth, Decoration Day. It’s a day to remember our veterans, those injured or killed in the service of our country, and our dear departed loved ones. All over the United States people visit cemeteries and place flags, flowers and even fancy “grave blankets” on the resting places of the dead. My father and my husband served in the US Army. I’m very proud of them and grateful for their service. Somewhere in the albums we shipped south I have photos of them in uniform. Here’s one of my maternal grandfather who was a Navy officer and served in both WWI and WWII. He died before I was born, and although the family lore is pretty negative about him, I thank him for his service as well. As I once wrote in a poem,

I thank thee fathers past for all thy pain, Thou vital links in my eternal chain.

We live in Florida, thousand of miles from my father’s grave in the Garden of Valor in a cemetery in California and my mother’s in Maine. My in-laws are buried about 1,500 miles north in New York and New Jersey. We haven’t figured out where we want our mortal residue to rest. It doesn’t seem to matter all that much.

I just published a post in my mother’s art blog, and here’s a link for all who wish to see her striking work that blesses our home and those of many others today. Many are on display at the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy in Sarasota. My cousin Mary owns and fills this amazing place with a fine collection of paintings, statuary and colorful crafts that must be seen to be appreciated.

Enjoy the day and remember that this is a great country that has weathered worse than what threatens us today. But climate change is real, and we all need to get serious about it or we won’t be leaving this land as good as we found it. Love to you all.