88 posts categorized "Musings"

Slightly scary, and vital

Boats (like postings) on the Adriatic getting ready to voyage / Malinska, Croatia / May 2005

“. . . I often think of my postings as little paper boats. I launch them when I click 'publish,' and then they float off, beyond my control, perhaps to capsize or disintegrate. I find this loss of control only slightly scary, and vital.”
~ Leah Hager Cohen on blogging (NYTimes Book Review)

For me, blogging helps me to “pay attention” to the world and all the little details that might go by unnoticed. It also serves as a meditation of sorts.

I'll remember when the lilacs bloom


A young Mr. D served in WWII in the 3rd Army Anti-Aircraft Coast Artillery / Dec. 2008

I think of the people that come into our lives for a short period of time but leave a lasting impression — both for who they are and for how they make us feel. Mr. D was an older next-door neighbor. He liked to sit on his porch and listen to the radio and nap. He talked about the things he had done in his life including working at a Stetson hat factory in Philadelphia and running his own deli. And in the way of older people, he griped about how the world had changed since he was young. A Jersey boy who loved to get his hands in the dirt, his prize plant was an exotic banana-leaf plant with huge leaves. He loved helping me and would offer his skills, no matter what I was doing. A thriving lilac bush in my yard that he planted and watered faithfully during a dry summer stands as testament to his skills. One year he and his wife helped me plant tomatoes. He would dig a hole exactly the right size, add Miracle Grow and put the plant in. She would compress the dirt around the plant's roots just so, using her hoe. I was awed by their skills. I danced at a party celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. After several years they moved and we kept in touch only sporadically. A call last week let me know that Mr. D had died at the age of 86. I felt the loss for his family and for myself. He thought I was special. He was always glad to see me. Can we ever have enough people like that in our lives?

What's in a name


Does the Blue Print Co. still make blueprints, I wonder? / Savannah, GA / Aug. 2006

The topic of nicknames came up. It seems they are less common for children today. In the past they were a necessity when children were named after their parents and grandparents and it made no sense to have everyone answer to the same name. I recall teachers who insisted that I would have to use my “real” name rather than my nickname when I was older. Of course I never believed them — nobody was going to tell me what name I could use. Many people don't seem to understand nicknames and how they are often shortened or personalized or ethnic versions of another name. An airline “official” insisted that 'Jack' was a nickname for 'John' but 'Lisa' could not be a nickname for 'Elizabeth'. Her ignorance cost me $50 as I had to have my ticket re-issued in my “real” name.

I have a name for any occasion. The name I use most commonly is a nickname for my second given name (also known as a “middle” name — though I always tried to attach it to my first name since I felt alienated from that name). The bank knows me as first initial, second name. The state knows me as first name, first four letters of second name (old computer programs only allowed a limited number of characters and it's never been fixed). Another government entity knows me as firstnamesecondname all-run-together (I went through a phase where I insisted on always attaching the second name to the first name). A credit card company knows me as first initial, second initial. Let them all call me what they will. I have secrets that they'll never know.

“Does anyone call Titi Merin Esmeralda?”
“Oh sure. People who don't know her well — the government, her boss. We all have our official names, and then our nicknames, which are like secrets that only the people who love us use.”

~ Esmeralda Santiago writing about finding out as a child that: 1. Her "real" name was Esmeralda and the name she was called was her nickname.  2. That she called her aunt by her nickname, "Merin".  3. That she was named after her aunt — they shared the name Esmeralda.

Practice being kind


Mosaic mixture of a Mexican tile, bowl fragments, blue tile, Italian flower pot fragments, and leftover bits of white subway tile with terracotta-colored grout (mixing orange and red paint into antique white grout) / New Jersey / Sept. 2008

I heard a man on the radio say this: we should practice being kind. What a beautiful idea. We practice so may things to "better" ourselves. Why isn't kindness taught in schools the way reading and math are? Acts of kindness can make us better people and impact all the people we touch. Let's resolve to practice being kind.

* kind  1. gentle, considerate, and friendly in nature or behavior; 2. proceeding from or characterized by good-heartedness.

She summered in outdoor spaces


Bakarska Vodica and ice cream sundaes outside on the terrace / Kostrena, Croatia / May 2005

I've been lucky enough to spend time in wonderful outdoor spaces over the past three days. A backyard at night that felt like a European beer garden with big group tables and tiny cafe tables and handmade bird houses and a water pond and lights strung above our heads and candles everywhere. A backyard that sits on a hill on a perfect summer afternoon (comfortable in the shade and warm in the sun) with a wide deck and swimming pool and tiki bar-with-thatched-roof. A spacious, curved side porch on a centuries-old house with the fading light of the sun and the summer evening sounds of children playing and insects humming all around and then a sudden coolness about an hour after sunset. Truly one of the best parts of summer has to be sharing outdoor spaces with each other and the summer environment.

Perfectly myself


I've been waiting and waiting for the Morning Glory to bloom. The vine has been growing up and around and up around and up and around. Yesterday morning a perfect bloom was perched in its own perfect circle / New Jersey / July 2008

Try saying this out loud:
     “I am perfectly myself”

~ another gem from Rob Brezsny

Rhythmic beach morphology


On Five Mile Beach there's lots of room for rhythmic beach morphing / Wildwood, NJ / June 2008

New Jersey's many barrier island beaches are covered with clean, white, soft, quartz sand that make for comfortable walking and lounging. The beach always feels so solid — able to survive the unceasing onslaught of the waves — and yet it may be imperceptibly shifting beneath us. The theory of Coastal Morphology says that over time barrier islands naturally move across themselves toward the mainland. The theory of Rhythmic Beach Morphology says that the beach is a good place to play music or tune into the rhythms of nature or that by spending time on the beach people can morph from stressed-out automatons into tanned, relaxed beach bums (I made that up; I'm not really sure what it is, but scientists study it and I like the sound of it). Expose yourself to the rhythm of the waves and the beach and maybe you'll morph a little, too.

No forward momentum


I have no forward momentum on this post-holiday Monday/Tuesday — think of the momentum and energy that the young robin needs to break through its shell / New Jersey / May 2008

This is the second Robin's egg fragment that I've found while out walking this spring. When I was young I remember reading about things described as “Robin's Egg Blue” — it always seemed so exotic and wonderful. This text is in the official web-safe color called Robin's Egg Blue: #00CCCC; it does seem to match the color of my found egg fragment. What a delightful, soothing color. A little piece of heaven on earth.



Seeing reflections / Philadelphia, PA / April 2008

The dictionary defines reflection as an "image given back by a reflecting surface". Glass reflects. Water reflects. Mirrors reflect. Sometime reflections distort; sometimes they enhance. I think of the joy of seeing yourself reflected in the smile of a person that knows and loves you.

Picture a psyche


Psychedelic? / New Jersey / April 2008

Today a man came to look at the furnace in the basement. To see inside the machine and diagnose a problem, he inserted a long device that had an optical eye and light on one end and a digital camera screen on the other. He was able to see deep into the guts of the furnace. It made me think. What if we had a special device that could see deep inside the dregs and muck of our own psyche? What would we find? Would we run screaming from the room? Would an image help us figure things out? Are some things better not seen?