Saturday, June 30, 2012

Heat Spell

We are stuck in the midst of a heat wave. Not only is the temperature hovering in the mid-nineties, but the humidity is way up there, vying for prominence. Of course I prefer this to frightfully cold, but perhaps a bit cooler.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Safe Choice

Because it's the end of the month, or close enough to the end I feel compelled to return to the theme word for the month--jump.

Summer, for me, is a time to dip into my above ground trove of mystery books. This year I added espionage novels-- mostly 1935-49 time frame.)

Back to jump. Since I don't read cozy mysteries I find myself selecting a reading spot that allows me to view the front door. Some of these mystery writers are over the top when it comes to creating frightening scenarios. Last week, after jumping six inches after hearing a branch brush against the window, I opted to put down one book and pick up a small volume of prose poems.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


There I was thinking about circles, ovals—flattened or rotund—when I began to draw them stacked up one on top of another. Confined to a space, confined to a shape, girded.

Then I allowed several to tumble out of the shape. As they moved toward the edge they created tension—loners edging away from the conformity of a fixed shape.

Conformity—the bane of life—often keeps us confined to particular ideas, preconceptions, outmoded ways of thinking. It's easier to conform to what is expected, to not make waves, to keep opinions that jar under wraps. What will "they" think? —that ubiquitous they.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summertime and the Reading is Easy...

Summertime is perfect for mysteries and espionage books. Once starting down that path it's hard to divert from their allure. If they are a standalone mystery then it's easier to hop from one writer to the next. If, however, it's a series, how can you help yourself from staying with the series until the end. I want to know what happens to the protagonist.

The writer may bait the reader with a possible relationship—book after book. The writer invites the reader into an inner circle where we are privy to more and more intimate details. How can I rush off to another series without knowing what will, has, promises to happen.

As for espionage, I am captivated with the machinations of the undercover agents. I am also intrigued with those novels that insist on veracity and an accurate historical role in the story. No fudging.

Nothing will turn off a reader quicker than someone in Tsarist Russia taking the lid off a non-fat blueberry Chobani Greek yogurt.

Then every once in awhile guilt seeps in and I take out an erudite tome and work my way through multiple pages where I learn new words and ponder creative concepts. But if it's warm or hot outside I am drawn, as if with a lead rope, back to my stack of mysteries.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


“We traveled on our Harleys from Michigan to Vermont and then to Maine. We stopped in Boothbay and ate lobsters at a pound—fresh from the water.”

“ I’m writing a book about my mother’s escape from Poland during World War II. She and her sister ended up in Iraq before coming to America.”

“At the age of thirty-five I decided to try painting some watercolors after giving up art in my teens. My first paintings were greeted with rave reviews. I hated my job and decided to give myself five years to get my art career launched. I’ve never looked back.”

“Frozen custard—it’s delicious.”

“In North Carolina we have it all the time.”

“We had a run on veggie burgers and are all out. “

“All I can say in Polish is where do I get breakfast and where’s the men’s room?”

Monday, June 25, 2012


While in Maine I started to work on an art assignment —for an online art course this spring. The course was finished, but I hadn't completed the last assignment.

Most people did the assignment in acrylics, but I only packed a small portable set of watercolors and some pens and a white china marker—thus I approached the assignment as a miniature version.

The idea —create what was referred to as a scribble painting—loose, spontaneous, bold, and using a variety of media. After the painting was dry you measured out even squares or rectangles, cut them out and then put together a different painting. Actually —rearrange the squares over and over to create a multitude of paintings. Select one version and glue it down—permanence.

My version—neither loose or spontaneous was an abstract watercolor with an overlay of black lines and an occasional white china marker intrusion. It became a meditative excursion.

Tonight I measured —drew lines—and used a small paper cutter to meticulously cut out sixteen mostly even pieces.

Then the fun began. What goes with what? After playing around with the pieces a composition emerged quite different from the original.

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.
~Pablo Picasso

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Driving Home

The tug to stay resulted in a stop at Gateway Lobster Pound to purchase two coffee mugs with Gateway's name and signature lobstah.

Leaving wasn't as difficult as it is in late August when we know it will be a winter's time before we return. We'll be back late August when most pounds sell soft shell lobsters—but for a bit more a pound we can still get a hard shell.

I'll miss the sound of the water and the rocks—always the rocks.

The day before we left we went to an annual photo and painting exhibit—very high quality and not occasional dipping one's finger into either photography or painting. We stopped to speak to Greg—we purchased two of his photos last year. Grace, his wife is writing a book, and the two of us talked about the book and about writing in general and research in particular.

Wouldn't it be interesting to have a writing group made up of people from different areas who participate in the group on line. A virtual writing support group. I need to mull the idea around a bit.How would it work? We could set up a private blog—

Something to think about.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Today was a cloudy day after nine days of sunny weather. And Maine has an etherial beauty on muzzy days.

We watched waves batter themselves, beach roses fade, and fir trees lose their shape.

Tomorrow we return to the land of sharp contours and cloudy days that are only cloudy-- not an elysian landscape.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Maine Lobsters

In ten days in Maine I eat more lobsters than I consume the rest of the year. 

I like wrestling with the lobster-- breaking the hard shell, freeing the meat, tickling meat out of the hidden places, sucking meat from the walking legs,and then deciding whether I want to eat the tail or crusher claw last. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nothing Stays the Same Forever

Year after year I walked past the same tree thinking that it tethered my walk along the shore path. This year the tree remained, but there were no leaves. Odd that the tree looked healthy, still stretching upwards, still claiming space.

I took several photos knowing that next year the tree might  no longer be in the same spot, arching upwards.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I've read at libraries, coffee hangouts, seated on a perfectly proportioned recliner, on the floor, standing up, at the bookstore , with a flashlight, while flying, and wherever else I've been including all manner of waiting rooms, a stalled car, and in restaurants, bathrooms, in bed,and even while walking.

But nothing comes close to the emporia surrounding me when my low chair is balanced on a fairly flat rock with the ocean sprawled out on the rocks below, the waves breaking and rolling and no one nearby. That's the perfect backdrop for reading.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I am in love with the ocean's  voice. Some days it timidly whispers as it moves on shore while other days its boisterous voice thunders as it rolls up against rocks.

Today it swished and sashayed  around cobble stones.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Against a Backdrop

Why not write about the red
canoe against the green grass?
Perhaps about lobster traps
stacked one on top of another?
Or a bald eagle flying over a marsh
Or the way light defined
a tree trunk and it's branches--
branches no longer supporting leaves
Or the way the ocean
sidestepped a large rock.

Grass held that red canoe,
two lovers waiting for the tide.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Straight Talk

I have favorite bookstores in every state I've visited. In Maine it's Blue Hill Books. This year the three books I bought were packed in a bag with these words:

We tried to find Lilies , a wonderful restaurant about fifteen miles away,and asked several Maine folks if we were going in the right direction:
"Yes.Bout four more miles," said a man who turned off his riding tractor in order to hear my question.
" Straight ahead " said a woman who was in her car.

The third person, a woman who decided to share more than mileage.
"They're not open anymore."
"I wonder why. They were always busy and had great food."

"She said she wanted to take the year off."

" You want to eat ? Try Madelines. She's pretty good."

We stopped and had the best fresh haddock sandwich--tasted as if it just emerged from the water.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Some Thoughts

On an incredible sunny day when every blade of grass and all the lupines stand tall we hiked.

I love the shape of the rocks -- humps protruding from the earth.

In the late afternoon we sat at the rocks and read to the ocean's melodies--an insistent repetition.

Lobstah dinner. There was a Texan who needed help, "What do I do with this?"
Then there was a woman who managed to totally clean the lobster--totally clean--a professional.

There's nothing like a Maine lobster cooked outside--

Thursday, June 14, 2012


We made the drive to Acadia in the usual five hours--after we fueled up with a Starbucks and Dunkin blueberry muffin. As soon as we cross the bridge onto the island I feel replenished.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


After looking at the weather in Maine we decided to pack and head up to Acadia. I'm not a fast packer and without my list I'm lost.

So I simply packed what I knew I'd need, what I thought I'd need and some what if items.

The important items like hiking boots and pack were tossed into a canvas sack. Books, paints, pens , pencils, pads and my ITouch went into another carry all.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Leading the Way

A town in Massachusetts has opted to hand out a $20.00 fine for “cussing” in public. If two people are merely talking to one another and profanity is part of their quiet conversation that wouldn’t warrant a ticket.

This isn’t Middleborough’s first stand on public cursing—they’ve had a bylaw against public cussing since 1968. That bylaw made it a crime to use profanity in a public place; however, it really wasn’t enforced because of the time and expense involved in a court case.

Now the folks have decriminalized profanity. It is only worthy of a fine.

Can you imagine the quandary for law enforcement? What constitutes cussing when four letter words are liberally sprinkled about in movies, television and in books?

I gather the good folks were upset when in their downtown area teens were using the infamous four-letter word as a noun, verb, adverb and adjective—and all in one sentence. Now the police will need to decide if their limited vocabulary constitutes a threatening diatribe.

Now why are the teens spending so much time congregating downtown and peppering the streets with profanity? Perhaps the citizens should fine the parents of the cussing youth—.

Now other towns are questioning whether they should jump on the bandwagon.

I don’t like replacing words with a small selection of words— and the ubiquitous four-letter word is so shop worn.

Massachusetts, from its earliest beginnings, has always been a leader in keeping the morals. At least it’s a twenty dollar fine and not the stocks.

Monday, June 11, 2012


What constitutes enough?

Sports figures get swollen salaries so that they feel respected in their particular position.

Executives need the types of homes that require bloated salaries—and million dollar rooms shown on television to people paying a mortgage for twenty or thirty years— if they are lucky.

I'm trying to get my mind around these needs and I can't.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Consume 24/7

Too bad stores stay open on Sunday. Seven days a week we're encouraged to consume and consume. People who might want to spend their time elsewhere—with family, friends, or attending religious observances are working.

Too bad stores keep extending their hours—later and later— earlier and earlier.
Don't miss anyone.

Too bad that we don't see that the erosion of time is corrosive to our growth.

Saturday, June 09, 2012


Time, according to the Oxford English Dictionary , is the most frequently used noun in the English language.

"TIME: time, time frame, timeless, time limit, time machine, timepiece, timescale, timeshare, time sheet, time shift, time-space, time stamp, timetable, time travel, time trial, time warp, time-wasting, ... timing"

How about the passing of time? Sometimes it saunters along and other times it doesn't hesitate for a second look.  Then you look back and wonder what happened to all those days that the calendar accumulated.

Time can be slippery. You can't hold it in your fist, letting it out slowly . 

Photos don't capture time. They merely attest to what transpired at a particular moment in time. 

Take your time.  Time's running out. The time of your life. Times on your side. Time stops for no one. Everything has a time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. NIV

"There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

  a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot, 

  a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

   a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

 a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

 a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

  a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace."

Friday, June 08, 2012

Mt Olympus

Go green.

If you live in New England that phrase doesn't refer to being environmentally savvy, but to the Boston Celtics. I must admit to being disappointed with the loss last night, but amazed that they went this far-- injuries, age, and being up against one of the best players make winning a steep climb.

Sure they play again Saturday night, but very few people expect them to win.

Last night they received a standing ovation from the crowd because of how they exceeded expectations and because this group may not be together again.

Isn't it interesting to note how ordinary people live in a particular area, support a team and become passionate about that team. Are we showing pride in our small geographical place, an affinity for competitive sports or a chance to join together with others? We wear clothes with players names, adhere decals on our cars, wear caps with the team logo, and even buy license plates announcing our allegiance.

People love to announce their fidelity to a sports team. We can, with others, bemoan the fates when all is not going well or exist in that rarified atmosphere when Mt Olympus is climbed.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

What to Take and What to Leave

Since I'll be leaving for Maine in two weeks I've been thinking about books-- what to take. Do I want a mystery? Perhaps an espionage saga? Or do I want some serious literary fiction? Short stories? Flash fiction?

Should I start a new series or read a favorite author or be wild and take a plunge with someone new? Then again I always purchase some books at two of my favorite independent bookstores. So many decisions.

Perhaps I'll just pile books into my book bag and forget about weight or numbers-- after all we're driving up.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

I'll Not Jump on this Bandwagon

Sometimes I think I read the newspaper so I can keep up with trends. How else to know what has "captured the imagination, mind and heart" of ordinary people? In today's Wall Street Journal I read about obstacle races that require people to sign "death Waivers".

Some of the tasks require walking through waist high mud, leaping through burning coals, jumping into pools of ice, crawling under barb wire, passing through dangling electric wires "some carrying 10,000 volts of electric shock", and whatever else is arduous.

Participation includes some hidden fees—insurance for medical expenses incurred while participating. So far no has died.

Two of the major obstacle courses project that 800,000 people will partake in their events. I'll not add my name to that number.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

With a Little Imagination

I remember buying Mexican Jumping Beans at the candy store. They came in a small cardboard box and according to the advertising on the box they danced in the palm of your hand.

Whether they really danced or simply rolled around in my hand I loved watching them— both in my palm and tumbling down a cardboard slide. Pure magic.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Jump Rope

The word for the month is jump. And when I think of jump I immediately add rope—jump rope. Growing up in the Bronx with sidewalks for a playing field, jump rope games vied with hopscotch and stickball. All you needed was an inexpensive rope or a wet clothesline and some footwork. We didn't know that jumping rope dated back to the Egyptian times when they used vines instead of rope.

How many times could you jump? Did you do double dutch jumping?

One of our favorite games involved two people standing a distance apart and each holding on to a rope end. Once they start moving their arms and the rope began its turns the third person —timing when the rope is in the air and when it hit the ground— jumps in and begins to jump rope. Not as easy as it sounds—wrong timing and your feet get tangled up in the rope.

The only competitions we had were created on the fly.

How many times could you jump before you missed? Who could skip rope up and down the street without stopping? How many jumping rhymes could you recite while jumping?

No one imagined international jump rope competitions or uniforms or anything better than a wet clothesline pounding the sidewalk.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

A Holy Place

"Earth's crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God,
and only he who sees takes off his shoes;
the rest sit around it and pluck blackberries."

—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

You never know when a worship service will transcend expectations. Today's service was a celebration of a unique ministry called Sunday Fellowship. Members of Fellowship are adults with intellectual disabilities . 

About eight fellowship members attend Sunday services while twenty-five participate in special Fellowship services twice a month. In today's service the entire congregation partook in a typical Fellowship service.  

At one point the leader holds her hands about ten inches apart and asks "Does God love you this much ?" And they respond and we respond, " Yes, and much more."
This continues until your arms are spread as wide as possible and the same questions are asked.

One of their rituals is to say their name and tell where they find God. Not everyone has language,  but many do. 

" My  name is Ann, " said one member "and I found God in my sister "

"...I find  God at Sunday Fellowship."

" I find God in my mother."

Indeed this is a Holy place.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

An Enigma

A pastor recently died after handling a Timber rattlesnake. The venom from a snakebite on his thigh caused his death. According to one newspaper report he was initially taken to a family member's home to recover and only when his condition worsened was he transported to the hospital. Perhaps had he gone to the hospital immediately he'd still be alive—but that's conjecture.

Snake handling as part of religious services is banned in all states save West Virginia and this took place in that state. This pastor took some scripture quite literally. His own father had died the same way, but that didn't dissuade him.

Before I assign this to the hollers of West Virginia and before I consign it to a too literal interpretation I want to hold it up to other risk taking.

Snake handlers believe that they are showing a belief in God. The overwhelming majority of Christians across the spectrum of beliefs disagree with their interpretation of scripture.

I checked out some information about this practice which is almost totally confined within the communities of Appalachia and found this article in the Washington Post .

Why I Watched a Snake Handling Pastor Die for His Faith
The article is written by Lauren Pond —a photojournalist.

What part does poverty and isolation play in this practice?

Friday, June 01, 2012

A Perfect Summer Trip

Warm weather and ice cream go together. I grew up devouring shaved ice cones with both exotic names and flamboyant colors. Then I discovered 7-Eleven Slurpees and became an aficionado. And who hasn't responded to the Good Humor truck. My favorite treat--Strawberry Shortcake.

Each year some magazine or newspaper lists the top ice cream shops in each of the fifty states. Imagine taking a trip around the states and stopping at each of the selected shops? Forget worries about weight and cholesterol -- enjoy the pursuit of the best.