Well, we are closing in 2012 chez nous in a very low key fashion. Our daughters off to NYC for adventures of the city persuasion, my son has some of his pals over for a boys' night around the fire pit in the backyard (no photos Mom! please!!!!) and earlier, we had our neighbors by for pre-dinner drinks where we shared a few bottles of prosecco, some yummy hors d'oeuvres and an hour of relaxed conversation. James and I capped our evening by watching the latest installment of the Bourne franchise and got to witness a very compelling Jeremy Renner send a lot of bad guys to the great hereafter.
Planning to be asleep before midnight- imagining a new year that is better, more peaceful and kinder to us all and wishing you the same.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Aside from minor frustrations, it's been an altogether peaceful week of easy dinners, no trips to the mall, and "best" of all things- I took Sarah, my middle, on Thursday to get her learner's permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles. So, in all likelihood she will have her operator's license by her next birthday in June.
Another chapter to add to the annals of parental excitement. A new driver!
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Due to the freak snow storm that started in the afternoon, our ride home from the grocery store (a normal 7 minute trip) took 35 minutes. Indeed, the store was a ghost town. The Redbox was an inviting sight (I took out Arbitrage and The Words). After dinner, we watched the two films back to back. Earlier in the week we saw The Hobbit and Django Unchained. So it was quite an eventful few days for high caliber cinema. Watching that many films in a short span is unusual for me and I appreciated every minute of it. My husband hated Django, but I cannot recommend the Hobbit (in 3D) too highly. A piece of narrative wonder. And The Words has a funny staying power that I can't quite express.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Here we are, catching a few quiet hours before heading out for Chinese food with relatives. The best part of this recent tradition of ours is being surrounded by all the other non Christians on this day of days. If you could take the commerce out of Christmas, I would find it a far more meaningful holiday. The relentless push to consume and then gift often leaves me with a lot of empty feelings. Stirring appetites for more stuff, when many have so much already, seems absurd. How to manage all these existential feelings? It's almost unAmerican not to shop. During my brief stint at the mall the focus was to sell. There was never any discussion about whether anyone really needed any of this stuff- those quandaries were a distraction from the purpose of getting people to buy. This has to be one of the saddest aspects of our modern world, where consuming has become the way we define who we are and give our lives value.
Years back, when I was in the throes of making greeting cards, I created all kinds of images in the pursuit of a holiday expression. One December, while craving children of my own, my niece Perry was kind enough to pose with me as my imaginary daughter. This morning, my teenaged son refused to get up and open presents, eat breakfast or join us for our outing to the movies because as of this year, he hates Christmas. So, in this aspect of the family narrative, it's important to keep the illusions at bay. I was annoyed that he didn't want to join in, but then again, you can't make someone embrace something that feels counter to their true selves. If only Madison Avenue would consider that.
Friday, December 21, 2012
My eldest is home from college and taking a semester off so all her stuff came back with her when the term wrapped. Unpacking, I noticed a pile of images and saw the one above in the mix. Turns out, she liked it and took it from my files to have at school. I took this portrait of Stephen Frailey almost 30 years ago in my Chelsea studio. He is a fascinating artist whom I met when we were both kids in the art world. He worked at a tony Soho gallery and seemed to be always in the know. It's interesting to re-visit the many photographs I have created- especially when the assembled elements (subject, setting, lighting, exposure, film, camera, photographer) align.
To see a previous post featuring a still from the same period click here
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
The events in Newton, Connecticut throw grief and heart break over everything and consuming as a way to show love seems like a shallow enterprise this year.
It's a week until Christmas and I am feeling the urgency that comes over many of us to wrap packages, run to the post office, decorate the house et al. In lieu of working at the mall, I am working our to-do list instead, appreciating that my teens have school all week.
I took my son to the dentist for a check-up. The dentist told me he was a marvel of genetics with perfectly formed teeth and the jaw to match. Every little milestone reminds me of all the ways these families from a small town in Connecticut and beyond will bear this incomprehensible loss of a loved one for the rest of their lives. I really don't understand the desire to do harm. It's a sad time.
Friday, December 14, 2012
The Onion has deployed its sterling staff of writers, filmakers and scientific minds to create a series of documentaries that brilliantly tell the history of the internet. In their pursuit of mounting reliable and thought provoking commentary, the Onion never fails to deliver.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
I had to go north to Peekskill the other day for an errand. For those unfamiliar with the area, Peekskill
is a historic Hudson River town with many artistic residents as well as a vibrant multi-cultural community. My errand went totally awry so I dropped in at a favorite thrift store to check out their offerings. When I walked in the door. and saw this wondrous set of china , sitting on the shelf, in what appeared to be mint condition from the 50's, I was in. These dishes were coming home with me that day. And they did.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
From time to get I get interesting queries from a company called Image Brief that solicits images for all sorts of applications and a recent request for a photo of a teen girl with a "Don't even think about it expression" for a book cover perfectly describes a typical parent-child encounter around here (unless the request involves "What would you like for dinner?" or "Would you like to go shopping?"- you get my drift). So, Sarah was happy to spend some quality time posing for my camera. Probably, nothing will come of it- but it was a fun way to spend an hour together.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Whoever said parenting is a fulfilling experience does not live with my two teenaged daughters. I am sure it is all my fault. Too nice, too considerate, too tolerant. Whatever. I am officially going batty now.
The day can only improve from my current state of mind.
The day can only improve from my current state of mind.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
This is a tradition that inspires uneasy feelings in me as I ponder how the Dutch and the British colonized America and robbed the Native Americans of their land, but this is a discussion for another day. Here in Sleepy Hollow, the kitchen hums with activity- the bird is in the oven, chores are dispatched and we pause to enjoy each other, our freedoms, our bounty, and our good health. Wishing you and your family peaceful surroundings and happiness wherever this holiday may find you.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
My eldest got a ride home from college last night for the Thanksgiving break and when she suddenly appeared in our living room, I had a glimpse of what sort of emotions stirred within my mother- all those years of family life and all her children returning fresh from a road trip, plane flight, train station or bus depot. My father, when I was growing up, was always the designated parent for pick ups. He was the one I would see at the curb at the airport, patiently waiting for me to emerge from the baggage area. He was not the sort of dad who actually parked the car, and came in to the terminal to scan the reception area in quest of one of his offspring to appear. This, in the days before cell phones, when arrangements were made before you boarded the flight. And if your arrival was somehow delayed, dad would still be waiting at the curb, maybe eating a Hershey's semisweet chocolate bar, crumpling the wrapper in his coat pocket while listening to classical music on the radio. Oh, he was happy to see me, but it was my mother, who would spring from her chair when I strolled in the door. My father would say "Go along, I'll bring in your bags. Your mother is waiting to see you." And so I would bring all my youth, my highs and lows and my stories to share crossing the threshold of the same door that I walked through all the years of my life. So yesterday, when Nora arrived with a huge grin as she dropped her bags (well, some things have changed) and I enveloped her in a hug and felt the relief of her safe arrival, I thought a lot about my mother. And all the comings and goings she witnessed in the course of raising her five children. This one is for you mom. Somethings bring us closer than you'll ever know.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
As a parent, you can't help but want to share your kid's accomplishments (and with a good friend, your kid's foibles and missteps). My daughter Sarah seems to share her sister Nora's love of all things theatrical, and this weekend she is in the production at her high school of the play The Angry Twelve. Based on the play, Twelve Angry Men, and adapted so that both males and females can participate, the play is about the deliberations of a jury where a boy is on trial for murdering his father. Sarah plays the part of the protagonist, who over the course of the two acts. convinces the jury to change their minds and find the boy not guilty. I observed rehearsal the other day in order to take some photos and create a story for our local Patch. In the course of documenting the action on stage, my daughter gave me one of her classic looks as in "Why must you?" and "When are you going to stop?" Yes, as a mother, you feel so appreciated at times. (Not)
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Here on Evergreen Way we have a vegetable bed that is not especially well tended. (Sometimes I completely forget to pick whatever is ripe and end up leaving it for the critters.) One of my favorite herbs to grow is lemon verbena which needs virtually no maintenance (my kind of plant) as it becomes the most astounding bush of fragrant leaves if left to its own devices. Before the snow last week, I made a mad dash outside to harvest some branches and today, in a nod to Clare's inspired creations, I made a bottle of lemon verbena infused vinegar. It now sits patiently inside the cupboard as I imagine the tangy flavor it will yield in a few weeks' time. When I was growing up and reading all about the trials and tribulations of the Ingalls family, the necessity to put food by to use in the lean winter months made a huge impression on me. We don't live on the prairie, and we don't live in a sod house, but in our way I too seek to tuck away treats to brighten the palate in the cold months that await us along the river.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Our neighborhood is home to all sorts of people as well as a lot of four legged, two legged and multi legged critters. The squirrels and birds put on a day long performance of song, combat and play. At night however is when the fun really begins. The deer wander in and out of gardens, the raccoons go searching for any available garbage can that isn't nailed shut, and our compost pile, conveniently located near our kitchen door is a banquet awaiting takers. So, when the unmistakable whiff of a certain striped mammal's scent came wafting off the patio, we knew immediately that our dog Comet had intersected at the wrong time in the wrong place with another of God's creatures. Did you know that baking soda and hydrogen peroxide mixed do a great job of getting rid of the smell from being sprayed? (At least according to my husband who executed the emergency procedure.) And me, I slept elsewhere because no matter how much he insisted how amazing the solution worked- well- something unmistakably musky hovered in the air. So, if you find yourselves in the same predicament- click here to learn how he "resolved" the problem.
Monday, November 12, 2012
I am in the middle of a hysterically funny book called The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days by
Ian Frazier. So, in a nod to his witheringly crafted prose, I was inspired to write something of length which I am, with some trepidation, sharing with all of you.
Ian Frazier. So, in a nod to his witheringly crafted prose, I was inspired to write something of length which I am, with some trepidation, sharing with all of you.
I know some about friendship- and unfortunately quite a bit about ending friendships. For lack of a better idea I’ll start with a friendship that ended way back when (or another lifetime ago).
I grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and C. was in my older brother’s class. Her sister G. was in my class, but for a whole host of reasons, I got along with C. better. I had the sort of family a lot of friends admired. An interesting house filled with books, art and music and a mother who never really cared who ate what out of the refrigerator. Oh, and four older brothers with a lot of assorted buddies. This made my home a kind of go-to destination for many of my friends. I was C.’s drawing model when no one else would comply- we were after all her 17 to my 14. I was a stalwart supporter of her artistic ability and when she chose after college to go to London and be an au pair to a very famous artist I of course was positive this was a great career move. The only problem was that she was miserable. She wrote one miserable letter after another and my mother, reasonably gracious and willing to help, suggested I fly to London over my Christmas break from college and convince C. to come home. Which I did. While there, whenever she wasn’t obliged by her au pair tasks, we roamed the city.
Loads of fun. One day, while in the Tate gallery (if memory serves me correct on the exact location) I noticed a bearded guy in a fatigue jacket wandering the galleries alone. He had to be an American. That was perfectly clear to me. I wandered over- introduced myself and the befriending began. We three palled around London and had a great time. I flew home, C. returned somewhat later, and reconnecting with M., our friendly solo traveler, struck up a romance. Years later, they married. (Author’s note- while they had a mid sized wedding, I was not invited- an oversight that was never adequately explained to me- but whatever. I think C. told me I wasn’t invited because she didn’t know how to find me- which of course was extremely weird because my parents lived in the same house and never changed their phone number- but silly me. Finding me would have required a phone call.)
Flash-forward a number of years and the happy couple is now living on the Main Line in a lovely home on a lovely street with their two lovely children. My good friend turned 40- her hubby organized a gala event, and my then-husband and I went down a day early to help with the preparations, stayed at a nearby hotel, and took part in the festivities. Subsequently I tried to help my friend find a gallery (unsuccessfully), helped her photograph her work (successfully), and held a reception for her after her first one-woman show at a NYC gallery of modest repute. My own 40th birthday rolled around. My friend C. and spouse M. were invited- but as it was held on my actual birth date- and not an evening convenient for them, they chose not to attend, nor did they do anything. No flowers, no card. Nothing.
A little past this event C. called needing a favor. She wanted me to help her take more photos of her art. I mentioned that I was short on favors in her regard and that my feelings had been hurt by her apparent inability to do anything to commemorate my birthday. She did agree that I was very considerate, and that she had dropped the ball. Okay, I thought. It took a lot for me to stand up for myself- usually I have a kind of doormat affect (well that waned as my tales will foretell). But I was happy to get my unhappiness off my chest. Unfortunately, the phone rang again ad C. was furious. “You are keeping tabs,” she said. “And friends don’t keep tabs.” “Everyone keeps tabs, C. grow up.” I replied and that was the last conversation we ever had. I did write and ask her to meet me halfway to have lunch and discuss what had happened. She wrote back that she had a husband, two children and a job and that she never had time for lunch. She wrote me a condolence note when my mother (who had been so nice to her) dropped dead a year later, but there was no going back.
I, on the other hand now have three children, a husband, a dog, a snake, a rabbit, an aging house that seems to always need something important done, and a calling, if not a career. If you need to talk to me-I always have time for lunch. Just in case you were wondering.
I let it go with C. Very glad I found her husband for her. It’s important in life to feel useful, don’t you think?
From there it is just a leap to S. I met S. in college. She found my family and me fascinatingly real. As she grew up in a kind of urbane international moneyed family where going out to 4 star restaurants was part of their weekly routine- my world seemed so prosaic and normal. I was the true friend she had always craved and my typical suburban upbringing gave her a kind of calm. As the years rolled by and she aspired to build the kind of success her father and grandfather had created- she sought her own fortune in an interesting apparel business that she launched with an artistic neighbor from her building in Soho. I became the photographer for the brand, the poet of their packaging. Everyone prospered. However, as the years went by, her success revealed her true nastiness. I looked the other way. A lot. I didn’t know what to do. It was good work for me and if I didn’t pay too much close attention, I didn’t really have to accept the bully my friend was becoming. Countless thoughtless remarks were flung my way. But no worries. I took it all in stride. (Not really. Her boorishness always wounded me- but she held the reins and I was not prepared to walk away) A decade later, she was on to her next pursuit, sans a partner, sans me, but that was okay. I was happy to end this part of our association. But her meanness, unfortunately, did not stop. One day, on the phone, I told her that I didn’t want to hear her cutting remarks anymore. And with that she announced that she didn’t want a relationship that was superficial. After my third child was born, I called to tell her of his arrival. She commented that if I was ever in NY and wanted to have lunch, I should call her. Remarkably enough, it has never occurred to me to call her ever again and she seems to have forgotten my number. So, a friendship that spanned over 25 years ended in a flash or rather a phone call in an attempt to share some happy news.
I probably have to talk about M. next. A delightful gal I met in graduate school. Talented, attractive, funny, neurotic- just like me! We both moved to NYC after grad school and she subsequently made her way with her family to Westchester. She would invite me up and I fell in love with suburbia- it felt like the kind of place I could breathe freely again. My husband and I found and bought a very nice house (at least from the curb- as in, “that’s a very nice house.”) It was all good, mostly, until one summer night she had a few too many margaritas and then holding the doorknob as she made her departure turned and said, “Why did you have to move here?” Oh, yes, she was delighted to have another talented photographer so near by! That friendship hurt a lot less, when it came to an end. We also differed dramatically on a surgical procedure that typically affects newborn baby boys. In the tradition of Moses I sought the ways of my ancestors, but it didn’t keep her from calling my husband to share with him the utter horror of my thinking. It’s good to know that some people know (or rather don’t know) where the real boundaries lay.
Well, I didn’t really think I was heading down some fork in the road, but I was. I haven’t found myself in conflict with everyone I know- rather the opposite. I only find myself in conflict with some of the people I know. Invariably these conflicts are with difficult women who like to get their way. Like to dispense pearls of advice, like my old pal E., when none has been sought. Friends who like to call my husband after a pleasant stay at our house and tell him “Your wife doesn’t feed the children enough.” (this after my eldest refused to eat anything for dinner and then announced she was hungry before bedtime. I responded that breakfast would appear right after she woke up and that in the future I recommended she eat dinner with the rest of the family when dinner was served, at dinnertime.) I didn’t even mention that one to my friend- but as the mother of three children born within 5 years and my friend, E., the mother of none, was certainly not my favorite go to source on all matters related to parenthood. Another visit was planned, and picking her up at the train station on the other side of the county she proceeded to tell me that I needed a haircut. Yes, she was an expert on so many things. Next, while shopping she reminded me that she hoped I was saving for the kids' college funds because as a university professor she saw so many kids saddled with debt. As my husband and I were barely making it financially, what with the sky high property taxes, utilities and those extremely necessary additional extras all kids in Westchester seem to require- our savings were indeed more modest that I really liked. Finally, worn out by all the expert insight she bestowed, I asked her to stop giving me advice for which I hadn’t sought her help. She was not happy with me. No, not one bit and she wanted to part ways that instant. No amount of explanation on my part would do.
I then drove her back to the train station from which I had so recently picked her up so she could continue on her merry way. I didn’t speak to her for years until after a recent art opening where we were both in attendance at the post affair dinner. She sat next to my husband as I was blissfully ensconced in the middle of the table surrounded by nice people I didn’t really know. According to my husband, immediately upon settling in her chair she asked him how much we stilled owed on our mortgage. No, you cannot make this stuff up. Yes, the end of her friendship was a terrific loss. (sarcasm intended.)
So, what is the point of this post of mine? It’s not that people are who they are; it’s more that I am not who I once was. Once, I was the pliant, agreeable, take anyone’s s**t sort of gal who strived to stay cordial and kind. Until I couldn’t do it anymore because I wasn’t that person anymore. I didn’t want to be bullied and I didn’t want to tolerate another’s inconsiderate crap. I had changed. Maybe not for the better but that’s my concern. I know it’s a relief to not be prevailed upon anymore by people who clearly care more about their own agenda than they ever respected mine. So, call me what you will. A little lonelier perhaps, but at the end of the day, when I look in the mirror and see the years advance across my mostly intact and aging face, I think I like myself a little bit more. And I wish you all the same.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
We had torrential rain and winds last week that left a swath of devastation in our region. One could hope for milder temperatures and the chance to recover and repair but instead we were treated to a snowstorm and the "delightful" necessity of cleaning off cars, sticking feet in to boots and digging out coats and gloves. Still, a glance out a window at twilight reveals a snowy landscape and a chance to savor winter weather.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I know that there are those who think Obama is doing a terrible job- hate the idea of being told they have to have health insurance, believe gay people should never be allowed to get married and think that a woman shouldn't have the right to choose. I am not one of those people. The idea of Romney and Ryan in charge made me very anxious and so today I breathe more easily. Wishing our President, his staff, our elected officials and all my fellow Americans a better four years to come.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
My neighbor, Robin Koffler makes the most beautiful jewelry and I spent some time yesterday photographing some of her creations in her studio. She is a very talented designer with a wonderful way with gems of all kind. It's always a pleasure to spend time with creative people. Food for the soul.
Labels: Robin Koffler jeweler
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Things begin to feel normal. There is milk in the grocery store. The train is running. People are returning to their old routines. It's been an unsettling experience to reflect on our fragile stability- which seems unwavering under ordinary circumstances. Today, I am possessed by the singular desire to call my mother- say hello, see how she and my dad are faring. What they had for dinner. How they are feeling. Unfortunately, my mother has been gone for over 19 years, my father for 7. I can reach out to them in my heart of hearts- and tell them all the things I would like to share. Another reminder to enjoy the good that exists while it is yours to enjoy. Life delivers its own difficulties in a flash, a whim, or a storm.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
I am still in a state of shock over the spectacle of Sandy's wrath. My heart goes to out to all the people whose lives have been lost, homes torn apart, and the loss of the normal which gives us the stability we need to proceed. Our village took some hits, but we were ultimately treated kindly compared to many others in the region. The media coverage has been a true witness to the havoc. These are very sad times.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
This has been a rainy month full of grey days, but yesterday the sun came out, our spirits lifted and gathering at the beach club for a bonfire seemed like a good outing to enjoy the evening and the company of our neighbors. It's pouring rain again, lights flickering with the possibility of losing power, so I'll dash out this post in hopes of sharing an image of a bonfire, a night sky, and the specter of friends gathered to relax and chat on an autumn night by the river.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
I had a quick ride to the city yesterday to attend a New Yorker gathering at Avenues School featuring a talk by James Surowiecki, the New Yorker's brilliant financial columnist. The magazine held a lovely reception and we got to glimpse this amazing new school that opened its doors six weeks ago.
James Surowiecki's talk was incredibly thought provoking. Without notes or visuals, he gave an engaging lecture which kept many in the audience on the front of their chairs in order to catch every word. The evening ended on a lively note while our brains were brimming from the insights we just heard.
Monday, October 22, 2012
During Max's visit, we started making collages and I found myself pulling out bits and pieces tucked away in boxes, jars and drawers, gathered over the years. Since Max's departure, I've been working on them more. My own kind of artistic upcycling of dreams.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Thursday, October 18, 2012
There is an outstanding pumpkin sale going on right now at St. Mary's Episcopal Church at 669 Albany Post Road- (Rt. 9) in Scarborough (on the right side going north of Phelps Hospital). This is the fourth year that they have taken delivery of over a 1000 pumpkins trucked east from a Navajo Reservation. The proceeds go first to the tribe who grew them, and the remaining funds are used to assist children and families in need. There are many ways to procure your jack o' lanterns and autumn decorations this time of year- but when the revenues go directly to support the growers and a worthy cause- that's a very good thing. Something local to check out if you're on a pumpkin quest.
Monday, October 15, 2012
The upcoming election looms large. The anxiety of the possibility that President Obama might lose compels me to contribute to his campaign. The division of party ideals regarding the distribution of wealth, abortion rights, gay marriage and health policy policy in this country is something that upsets me profoundly. Ultimately I feel Barak Obama is someone who better represents my values. And Mitt Romney, who has a lot of good convictions, seems completely out of touch with most Americans.