Sued51's Blog











{July 8, 2020}   And Then This Came Out…

And We Are On Track For…?

Of all times not to be able to express myself — I have struggled to write and keep up with my journal recently. An excerpt from a couple of days ago:


I don’t know why I’m writing less, not keeping up with my journals. During these unprecedented times I should be writing more…(Bear Witness as Margaret Atwood recently suggested) Somehow I don’t know what to say — I just feel– like a raw wound, an exposed nerve — Why is the loneliness so painful?

But yesterday I sat with the ball of sadness, tossing it from hand to hand and thought to thought and wrote this stream-of-consciousness “poem:”

 

The sadness is a heaviness we are all dragging around —

with all we are leaving behind, why does what we still carry

seem so heavy?

what else should be left behind?

Things we thought we knew —

what would never change —

we wake to summer gray, day after day,

a fog of uncertainty:

will the sun come out today or will it rain?

We wait and we wait, for what?

what comes next?

Yet the usual flowers bloom at their usual time,

but not us, not us.

I feel like fall is already here —

my edges are crinkling and I am shrinking —

the winter will come in the usual way

and masks will become scarves,

pulled up over mouths that don’t speak —

don’t speak of the sadness, maybe it will go away,

like this year, this long-short endless year

this year unimagined and unlived.

Copyright Susan Merrifield Desrocher



{April 15, 2020}   Surviving during the Pandemic

A bee enjoying azalea

Keeping Busy

Being someone who needs nature for my mental health, this has been a tough couple of months. I have been out walking my neighborhood and some woods (safely with a mask, of course) whenever the weather cooperates. I have also been reading and writing a lot. This is one of the poems I have written during this isolation. This is survival for me.

 

Pandemic Response

 

This earthbound isolation is like quicksand,

survival by being still,

endless waiting, waiting,

keeping hands busy, mind empty.

 

But I need to ride the clouds spread

on the searing blue sky,

burrow myself into bright blossoms like a bee,

douse my eyes in the water of ponds’

shivering reflections searching for life –

tadpoles or tiny fish —

only this, only this

keeps me alive.

 

Susan Merrifield Desrocher

c 2020




Margaret Atwood Early Novels

My Margaret Atwood books

What better time to come back to blogging than these trying times? And who better to write about than Margaret Atwood? A Canadian Facebook friend, Sherry Galey, recently posted this, and I had to share it.

Margaret Atwood asks us to step back a bit and learn from history. Somehow she always finds a way to look at reality straight in the face, without sugar-coating, and still offer comfort and hope. (Globe and Mail today.)

In her book Payback she gathers ”the six reactions people had to the Black Death while it was unfolding. They were:

  1. Protect yourself.
  2. Give up and party, which could include drunkenness and theft.
  3. Help others.
  4. Blame. (Lepers, gypsies, witches and Jews were all blamed for spreading the plague.)
  5. Bear witness.
  6. Go about your life.

She says: “It’s not one or the other. I don’t suggest No. 2. Or No. 4 – giving up and blaming are not helpful – but protecting yourself, thereby helping others, or bearing witness by keeping a journal, or going about your life as much as you can with the aid of online support systems – these are possible now in a way that they were not in the 14th century.”

Also, an old friend recently sent me an email saying that he had binge-watched “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and also read the book. He was enthralled. He had never read Margaret Atwood before and asked me what other books of hers I would recommend. She has always been one of the first names that come to my mind when I am asked about my favorite authors. And yet, when he asked me that question, I wasn’t sure how to answer. I went to my bookcases. I realized that other than the fact that I had also watched the series with Elisabeth Moss (one of my favorite actresses of the last few years), which prompted me to buy “The Testaments,” all the Margaret Atwood books I owned were from early in her career.

Autographed copy of Bodily Harm

My Autographed Copy of Bodily Harm

This led me down my own rabbit hole (as it usually does). I remembered that I had gone to see Margaret read many years ago and had a book signed by her (not one of her most memorable ones). That also reminded me that when I saw her read, I had written a poem about it. Not a good one, but hey, I was only 23 years old! I went to Atwood’s reading and then went out to a club to see one of my favorite local bands, The Peter Dayton Band. The two sides of me…

Poem about Margaret Atwood's reading

A poem about Margaret Atwood’s reading

 

 

 

 

The first book of hers that I read was “Surfacing” in a Contemporary Literature class as an undergraduate in college. I liked it enough to search out earlier works. As I became more interested in poetry, I read her poetry and was quite taken by it. Especially this one from “Power Politics,”

you fit into me

like a hook into an eye

a fish hook

an open eye

Wow!!

Although I did read some of her middle novels like “Cat’s Eye” and “Blind Assassin,” I don’t own the books; I was mostly using the library then. And I haven’t read any of her “science fiction” novels like the MaddAddam Trilogy. Maybe it is time? (although the library is closed during this pandemic) Or maybe I have new favorite authors? Any other Atwood fans that would want to answer my friend’s question? Or mine?



{October 2, 2018}   Mourning Petty

Tom PettyI was writing in my 10-yr journal this morning; each page contains an entry for the same day for ten different years. I saw that one year ago we got the news of the Las Vegas shooting and the death of Tom Petty. It affected me deeply. I cried at work; the woman in the cube across from me played Tom Petty songs all afternoon. It motivated me to search for this drawing I had done in my younger years. Also, it motivated me to write this poem.

MOURNING PETTY

It was already a tumultuous time:

floods and hurricanes washing away

cars, homes, and lives.

The morning of that day

brought news of a horrifying mass murder;

a sniper in sin city,

mowing down music lovers.

Then came the unbearable

cherry on top:

Petty found lifeless,

plugged in/unplugged.

The news was confused

yet clear.

He was gone.

My brother told my mother

I lost “my man,”

referring to the sketch I drew

when I was young,

and so was Petty.

For a few years his image smirked

on my bedroom wall

as I rebelled against a “normal life,”

following music from club to club,

thirsty for meaning.

His nasal voice held emotion like cupped hands;

Wildflower, listen,

there’s no need to be thirsty

when you can drink from the spring

of creativity and life.

Forty years’ worth of his music

and it felt as if he told the story

of all our lives through song.

American girl, he reminds me,

keep searching.

Copyright 2017 Susan Merrifield Desrocher




Although I have just celebrated my 7th blogging anniverary, last year I posted very little. As I explained in my last post on this blog, I have been concentrating on photography as my main mode of expression. That being said, one takeaway I have from last year is that there is more than one way to make a difference. Some people do it through charity work, some through political activism, some through the arts, and some through their chosen profession.

one way signs

Which way?

The year 2016 was a tumultuous year, full of terrorist acts, celebrity deaths, and an ugly election that exposed a gaping rift in our human community. After the sudden death of an old friend in March, I went through a questioning of my future and life purpose. Because of him, I decided to pursue a certification as a teacher. I studied for, and passed, the basic test all teachers in Massachuesetts must master: the Communication and Literacy Skills Test. I began to study for the more difficult English exam, because it has been 25 years since I received my MA in English Literature. As the year went on and life interfered, I worked overtime at my present job and continued to pursue my passion for photography; I began to question whether I had the stamina for such a big undertaking at my age, and I recognized that I cannot fill the hole that he left in the world. I have my own unique purpose for being here and what I bring to the world is not the same as anyone else. This is the source of all our grief: the people we lose cannot be replaced, not even by someone expressing themselves in the same form. David Bowie was not Prince and Prince was not Merle Haggard…everyone speaks their truth in a different voice.

And so, in 2017, I will not compare myself to others. I will leave competitveness, guilt, and jealousy behind and try to be the best I can be at expressing my truth in my own way. Does that mean I will blog more? I would like to say yes, because I still feel writing is important to me, but I have discovered it is my protective armor, my way of coping with darker feelings; it helps me to understand them and relieve the tension they create. But I want to bring brightness to the world, help others cope with a year like 2016. To do that I must put my best self out there, and I feel I can do that with my pictures.

So Happy Anniversary to me, WordPress, I’ll write when I can bring something positive to my readers. In the meantime, check out my other blog where I will try to be better about sharing my pictures. Happy New Year everyone!

 



{January 2, 2016}   My First Day Hike

First Day Hike

The way was clearly marked from the parking lot.

Twenty-five years ago, we were told, the original “First Day Hike” was held at Blue Hills Reservation in Massachusetts with approximately 325 hikers turning out, and as of January 1, 2016, these hikes have been held in all 50 states. The DCR workers were proud to have originated this healthy way to start the new year, and by the end of the day, I felt the same. What a great time it was.

I got there just before noon, and incorrectly assuming there would be no spaces at the main parking lot, I went directly to the “additional” parking. I was glad I did because as I walked to the main buildings I caught these young men doing their version of the “L-Street Brownies” with New Years’ dip in Houghton Pond. Those of us watching in our bundled up clothes laughed, smiled and shook our heads; it was 40 degrees.

first day swim

A chilly dip in Houghton’s Pond.

When I got to the visitor’s center area, I saw people warming themselves by the bonfire and went in search of the “free soup” that was promised. They were still getting it ready, but I found my friend Jenna, who was volunteering for the day. She lent me $5.00 to buy one of the “First Day Hike” hats. I received a free poster for the event and a map. Hmm…I didn’t want to carry them on the hike, so I went back to my car; I had time because the actual hikes did not start until 1:00 pm.

First Day Hike hat

Fire Day Hike souvenirs

Walking back to my car, I saw this lovely lady dressed for the occasion. She happily provided me with a photo.

Holiday Hiking Outfit

Dressed for a holiday hike?

Back at the visitor’s center, I got in line for my soup, and snapped this photo of Jenna handing some out.

Free Soup for hikers.

Jenna handing out free soup.

After eating that I wandered around looking at the sights and snapping photos.

Rangers on horses

Rangers on Horses.

 

A representative from the Trailside museum was there giving a talk about this beautiful owl!

Trailside museum speaker with owl

A representative of the Trailside Museum introduces people to a beautiful owl.

 

People were at the bonfire getting their pictures taken…I asked someone to take mine. 🙂

First Day Hike picture

A souvenir picture

Bonfire

Warming up at the bonfire

Just before hike time, there was a brief program with a brief history of the event and an awards presentation to the man who came up with the original idea. There were certainly more than 325 people there today!

Presentation

Presentation

Crowd

Crowd gathered for the presentation

After the presentation, we broke off to do our chosen hikes. There were four hikes set up of different levels and distances, each led by a ranger. I chose the longest and most difficult, the Buck Hill hike. There were over 100 hikers that made the same choice!

Hiking up Buck Hill

Our group on the trail.

It was a bit slow because there were so many people, but we all found our pace and strung out along the trail. And this was the wonderful view at the top!

Buck's Hill View

View from the top of Buck’s Hill

When we returned from our hike, there were very few people; most had come back from their hikes long ago and gone home. But I did see a few girls toasting marshmallows on what was left of the bonfire.

It was a great time. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Toasting marshmallows

Toasting marshmallows on what was left of the bonfire.

 



{July 9, 2015}   A Mystery Solved…

Where have I been? That will remain a mystery for a bit longer. 🙂 Right now, I just want to share a story.

I passed the little blue cape on the edge of the pond every day on my way to work. I had seen people clearing the yard, building steps and doing other fix-up tasks and registered it in a very distracted way. People working on their homes and in the yard is a pretty normal occurence.

Then one day I noticed that a wooden “screen” was being set up between that house and its neighbor. Hmm…wonder what that’s about? They don’t want to look at each other?

Then a “stage” was being built. Hmm…maybe they are going to have a party. Oooh…I don’t think the neighbors will like that!

Flowers appeared on the stage, and a lot of white chairs were set up. It was starting to look rather pretty…I’ve got it! They must be having a wedding there. Must be this weekend.

But the weekend came and went and everything was still set up. They haven’t had that wedding yet? Then came the containers…and a clue.

Buddha Peace Project

Poster on Container

When I started seeing the cars pulled over and people taking pictures, my curiosity became overwhelming. I mentioned it to someone at work and she sent me this link to a story in the local paper.

Well…I knew I had to stop…and that this would be my first blog after my “disappearance.” (I had started another one…but it was a little dark…not the best one to post after being lights out for a while.)

So I stopped on the way to work, took photos…and contemplated. With everything that is happening in the U.S. and the world…a moment contemplating peace with a beautiful jade buddha feels like a moment well-spent. You can read about the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace here.

And to think it was visiting my little town, in the yard of a little blue cape…you just never know.

Jade Buddha for Universal Peace

Jade Buddha

 

 




Outmyfrontdoor230This is the worst winter I can remember in New England. Not that I have TOO many years to compare, but certainly enough. I heard an interview with a 91-year-old woman on the radio…she has a lot more years to compare and even she said it was the worst one she has seen.

On Facebook we all share our “snow” pictures. But the pictures just can’t convey to people who aren’t here what it is truly like. It looks and feels like we are living at the beginning of one of those science fiction movies of the end of the world…Remember “Day After Tomorrow”?

All the services we take for granted: train service, trash service, mail delivery, interrupted or practically non-existent; people taking hours and hours to get to work and get home from work. Every task is harder and takes longer; sore backs and muscles from the endless shoveling…people dying of heart attacks. Everyone is completely on edge: mini-meltdowns are everywhere. Here’s a few vignettes…not horror stories, just stories of everyday life during SNOWMAGEDDON:

My experience — trying to take a left out of my driveway through a “hole” in stopped traffic (because you have to TRY to get to work sometimes…employers don’t expect you to stay inside until spring), completely blinded by snow piles and stopped vehicles I pulled out, only to get rear-ended. The woman and her passenger jumped out of their car screaming and swearing at me. Two kind men from one of the trucks that was stopped in traffic told them to stop yelling and back off. I was forced to retreat to my vehicle, shaking like a leaf. She completely frightened me.

My brother ‘s experience – he was in line at the grocery store before a storm…one of those places where there is one big line and someone directs you which register to go to. Suddenly the woman in front of him started attacking him and swearing about her “personal space.” When she got out of line, the lady in front of her turned to my brother and said, “Don’t take it personally…if that is the worst of her problems she’s got a lot more to deal with!”

I went to the Post Office to pick up my mail because it is not being delivered, despite the fact that the mailbox at my apartment complex has been shoveled out. (at least we have one…most people have resorted to cardboard boxes labeled with a Sharpie). There were others doing the same thing, not too bad a line though. The mail lady (who I have dealt with before and she was perfectly pleasant) would not listen to me…”Is it shoveled out so the mail carrier doesn’t have to get out of his truck?” she demanded. (Mind you, he has never been able to deliver it without getting out of his truck…even in the summer…not where it is situated…but never a problem before.) I told her I was just a renter…she said, “Tell your landlord they have to clean it out or we won’t deliver…and if you don’t fill out a yellow form to hold the mail, we’re going to start sending it back!” She went into the back to look for the mail for a customer ahead of me. He looked at me and sighed. “We have to help each other if we are going to get through this,” he said, and I nodded in understanding. But I filled out the yellow form…no arguing with her. I’ll go in there every day if I have to.

At my yoga class yesterday two ladies were talking about trash. “We don’t know when they are going to pick up the trash, and where do we put it? The days are all mixed up and no one tells us anything. My mother has been living with us and she has a cat. We keep bringing the bags of dirty cat litter down into the cellar…we don’t know what to do with them!” I smile to myself; I live in an apartment…I’m stuck with those bags. My complex has a dumpster, but I have to walk across an ice field to get there. When there is a lull between storms, I have to load up my car with bags of trash and drive them over there. But then…the “yoga” ladies were also laughing about the prospect of Valentine’s Day spent with her mother because the couple couldn’t go out to be alone…so amongst the complaints, there were jokes. Jokes about the weather people’s glee as they go on and on about the snow. “Better than hearing about ISIS,” I said.

Thank goodness there are some people able to grin and bear it, shared moments with kind strangers, like the men who checked on me after the accident, the old lady who told my brother not to take it personally, and the man in the PO. And there’s the wonderful jokes being posted on Facebook: snowmen being threatened with “harm”, signs that say “Massachusetts is closed!”

Finally, I want to share what one of my friends on Facebook said so perfectly. She thanked everyone for posting their snow pictures, stories and jokes because it made her feel like we were all in it together; no one was alone. We were fighting back against one of the worst effects of all…the isolation, especially for older people. I was secretly happy that the “yoga” lady had her mother at her house, secretly happy that woman wasn’t alone.

This isn’t a science fiction movie, it is real life and it WILL pass. Spring is only about a month away…hard to imagine, but that, along with the fact that I still have electric power and heat while I write this, is something to be grateful for.




New Moon Storm

It was a dark and wet ride home last night, a new moon Nor’easter,

But I was tired enough to sleep through the night without hearing it.

This morning the cat was hidden somewhere she thinks is safe;

I’d like to hide myself there too, I think.

But this morning my prayer group email is entitled “Clarity,”

and it seems true.

The Universe seems to be aligned,

I think there is also an eclipse.

Fitting that the trees have been cleared of leaves,

Their structure revealed, a kind of clarity,

My life changes revealed, I feel a surge of creativity.

After months of distractions and busy-ness,

I know what I want to say and I want to blab it!

But I have to work.

Ironically these are the days when it is hardest to work –

High energy days when it is almost impossible to stay where I am,

To sit and stay focused.

I’m like a horse pawing the ground,

Resenting the bridle and the rider, work and responsibility,

Let me go, says the voice inside,

Let me go with the wind and the leaves…

 

P.S. This was written totally off the cuff as a stream of consciousness in response to the Daily Post Prompt: Ready, Set, Done, so excuse grammatical and punctation problems…take it for what it is. It is written like a poem because it seemed liked random thoughts to me as a they came…more like a poem than prose. Hope you enjoy it!



{September 30, 2014}   A Walk in the Country

Wompatuck State Park

Wompatuck picnic table

Every Sunday I try to head out for a picture-taking excursion and nature walk. Sometimes I encounter lovely little surprises I don’t expect — animals or interesting plants — that I document on my other blog. Often I have what I call “adventures”  — a right place/right time moment — meet some people and chat briefly. But mostly I soak up the peace and relaxation I need to get myself through my busy week. This Sunday I didn’t have a lot of time so I decided to go to a local park called Wompatuck.

I pulled into the entrance and…stopped. In front of me there was a line of cars…hmmm. I hadn’t been there in years, but I didn’t remember there being a fee to get in. I could see someone stopping cars at the entrance, but I didn’t see any money being exchanged. The line was moving…my turn…”Are you here for the event?” I was asked. I replied, “No,” and was told to “drive on through.”  Oh-oh, this might not be the peaceful walk I had envisioned…but there’s over 3000 acres here, I should be alright.

I squeezed through an area of cars parked on both sides of the road: state policemen with vests and park rangers. Then I drove by a field with a stage set-up, a bouncy house, and various other tents. No time to stare — I had to pay attention to my driving as there were many people milling about and I didn’t want to hit anyone. I was beginning to regret my decision to come there, but I didn’t have time to turn around and figure out somewhere else to go. I told myself to make the best of it and drove on. Anxious to get away for my quiet walk, I drove about 3/4 mile down the road and found a place to pull over and park my car. I figured I would walk for 1/2 hour and then turn around and walk back.

It was a warm and sunny fall day and many bicyclists passed me as I snapped pictures of the woodsy setting and the first bit of color of the season. I began to relax and enjoy myself. Thinking about future excursions, I picked up a map at the camp ground office located there then turned around to walk back to my car.

fall road

Early fall

Just over halfway back  I heard a woman singing. Her beautiful voice urged me on and I walked a little faster toward it. There was a picnic table in a clearing so I thought I would sit down and listen for a bit. As I approached the table I could see the woman standing with a man seated on a stool playing a guitar by a trail. There were people running by. Ahh…I thought, it’s a road race. [turns out it was an event sponsored by a local country radio station to benefit a local hospital…click here if you want to find out more]

picnic table

Peaceful Picnic Table

As I walked over to get a closer look, I saw another photographer taking pictures of the runners. We passed each other and she smiled and said “hello.” I recognized it was going to be one of my “adventure” days and decided to embrace whatever was going on. Today was not the day for just a quiet walk; it was a time to be sociable. I decided to walk over to take some shots and told the woman I thought she had a wonderful voice. She thanked me and gave me her card; her name was Erin Ollis. Check out some of her songs on her web site!

Erin Ollis

Erin Ollis on the Trail

 

 

When I got back to my car I decided to drive down the road a bit to see what I would see. The map I had picked up showed a boat ramp on a pond. I thought I could drive there to take some pictures, but it turned out I couldn’t, however… there was another singer! My adventure was continuing…so out of the car I went to check him out.

 

 

Alec MacGillivray

Alec MacGillivray

 

I didn’t talk to him, but I took his picture and listened a bit. He was at the top of a long gradual hill, and as I watched the runners and walkers struggling toward me I decided to do my part to cheer them on. I began to walk in the opposite direction (downhill) and offer encouragment. Once I started walking, I just kept going. Someone said, “You’re going the wrong way!”

runners

Runners Struggling up the Long Hill

As I went farther along I saw some volunteers handing out water to the participants. They were happy to pose for a picture for me!

Volunteers

Volunteers

I looked at my watch and saw it was time to head back to my car; I had someplace to go. I smiled the whole way back though. I had gone out for a quiet walk in the country. I got some country alright! In a very small way I shared in the goodwill and caring of a lot of people on a gorgeous fall day; I felt part of humanity instead of running away from it, and it helped me forget some of the negative stories in the news lately.

 Country Heals. In more ways than one.

Country Heals

Country Heals

 

NOTE: IF YOUR PICTURE APPEARS HERE AND YOU WANT ME TO TAKE IT DOWN, LET ME KNOW.



et cetera
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