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.

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.

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.

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 48

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Graphic from Wandanalu 2012

As the year 2017 draws to a close, it seems to me that many hearts are heavy. As a therapist I’m hearing about family conflicts, holiday stress and strain with shopping, cooking, wrapping, writing and sending, and nostalgia for the “good old days.” There are some other things dragging at our merriment during this holiday season. The so-called middle class tax cut threatens to send the deficit through the roof, only to be dealt with harshly later on. Its popularity with the people as I write is 29 percent. The “me too” movement is rightly shining a light on sexual impropriety in government as well as the corporate world and entertainment industry. As women and men come forward with credible allegations, people are reminded of their own experiences, some long buried or discounted as no big deal. The breast or butt grab, the unwanted sloppy kiss, the innuendo or outright proposition, the rape, each took a toll and haunted the wellbeing of countless among us.

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Edited image from rainforestferry.com

Here in Florida this week we’ve lit the menorah with good friends, and we’ve made and savored our latkes and matzoball soup and stuffed our faces with jelly donut holes and chocolate. During that same evening we followed the Alabama Senate race and stayed up late to learn the results. We’ve shopped for family and one another and sent off our gifts. We’ve bought some holiday cards but haven’t begun to write them yet. We’ve attended a Christmas extravaganza starting outside with falling snow, a living nativity with cooperative infant, two goats and a little horse, carolers, and then an amazing show with 100-voice choir, orchestra, another living nativity with majestic arrival of the Three Kings, and many carols the 1,800 attendees in the audience sang, and ending with everyone singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah on our feet. The parking lot at this Baptist church was so vast that shuttle trams adorned with holiday lights ferried the elderly, encumbered and infirm to their cars when it all ended. We did truly enjoy it.

This time of year, it behooves us all to remember those less fortunate and do what we can to help. Whether we donate our goods, our money or our time, the need is huge. Yesterday the Guardian published a story that I recommend to everyone, difficult though it is to read and to view some of the photos. Many may be unaware that some 40 million Americans live in poverty in 2017. It is such a problem that the UN sent a reporteur to see the challenges and report back.

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Photo courtesy of The Guardian

The city of San Fransciso has many homeless people living on their streets, but there’s a bright spot in their picture, Saint Boniface Church. The church is open daily for homeless people to sleep safely in the rear pews, even while Mass is being celebrated in the front of the church, a living example of the gospel of ministering to the poor. Social workers and homeless advocates also make themselves available to help connect the homeless with urgently needed services.

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There is reason to hope today, and we mustn’t let the magnitude of the world’s problems drag us down. Everyone can help make the world a better place, each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Next month we will start as volunteers at our local animal shelter. Bloom where you are planted!

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Weekly 37



Now we find ourselves at Week 37. It’s been quite a challenge for the planet and for human kind. My mom’s 92 year old baby sister just fell and broke her pelvis. We are all praying for her healing and return to the active life she loves. Then my cousin finally got down to her home in Florida only to find leaks and other damage. Another cousin found that her Florida art gallery and museum and all the contents survived undamaged, although trees and plants on the grounds were devastated. Friends with property and family in Puerto Rico are anxious about their wellbeing. And then there’s the political circus with its twirling and gesticulating, gyrating and posturing, bellowing and sanctifying its innocence in the face of a blunt reality that begs to differ.

Painting  by Yukon artist Natalie Parenteau

Do you smudge? If not, here’s why you might want to start. Science backs up the belief many share that smudging is good for our health and can be good for the air we breathe. I do it in the office between clients sometimes, especially if the vibe has been especially intense or just to give me a lift. The wonderful work of Canadian artist Natalie Parenteau as seen above can be found here.

The colorful seaside neighborhood of La Perla in Puerto Rico inspired singer Luis Fonsi to write and perform his iconic “Despacito”. Before you get to enjoy the video make earlier this summer, here’s how La Perla looks after Hurricane Maria, in a sobering video clip.

Now, the joyous “before” to remind us all how much work will need to be done for the people of Puerto Rico and this pastel paradise to be restored to gain. “Despacito”:

                                                            Namasté