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{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.



{June 18, 2014}   Celebrity Sightings

Lately they have been happening all AROUND me but not TO me…other people telling me about their celebrity sightings. Last week John Wayne’s son came in to the liquor distributor I work for to promote his bourbon, “The Duke.” Meanwhile I was in holed up in a co-worker’s office getting some training. I had no idea he was there until after the fact.

I also just found out a TV actress came in to the restaurant where I hostess every other Saturday. It just so happens her father lives in the small town where it is located and likes the place, so they came in for a Father’s Day meal. Hmmm…it was my weekend off…missed that too.

A Facebook friend has a friend who just saw Viggo Mortensen at a store in Idaho…Aragon in Idaho, go figure…must have been filming somewhere around there. (I admit that story fluttered my heart for just a moment…though it was the farthest removed from me. I am a big admirer of him as a modern-day renaissance man.)

I was working on this post yesterday and didn’t finish it, and then — Voila! — The Daily Post topic today is “Instant Celebrity.”  Am I on track with The Universe on this?

The question The Daily Post asked is this: if you could be a celebrity, who would you be? Hmmm…That’s a tough question for me. I think it is easier to say who I WOULDN’T want to be…Alec Baldwin? Miley Cyrus? Kim Kardashian? I wouldn’t want to be anyone who is known for outlandish behavior. To me, they have no ethics, no personal integrity. But I don’t want to go off on a rant about people doing ANYTHING for attention or money; I’ll save that for another post. 🙂

To seriously try to answer the question — I would want to be a brilliant but reclusive writer (maybe Margaret Atwood or Joan Didion) or a well-off philanthropist (Melinda Gates or Oprah). But perhaps the reason The Universe has not provided me with that gift is that I wouldn’t handle it well. Maybe being famous would turn me into Alec Baldwin (EEK!) because I don’t like being the center of attention.

Going back to the actress in the restaurant…my friend told me people were approaching her and asking to have their pictures taken with her. Bless her, she obliged, but I think it would get pretty annoying trying to have a nice quiet Father’s Day dinner with a loved one who you probably don’t have much time to see, and being interrupted by fans.

Naw…I don’t think I would want to be a celebrity.

 




Sgt. Dan Vasselian just lost his life in Afghanistan; he is returning to his hometown today. Having just moved to the small town of Abington a few months ago, I do not know this young man, but I am extremely impressed and moved by the show of love, respect and support I am seeing here.

I went for a very cold walk this morning. The funeral home is just down the street from me, and some roads are closed and will be closed off and on for the next few days as the wake and funeral take place. I had noticed the flags and yellow ribbons interspersed with Christmas decorations in the neighborhood the last couple of days and I wanted to take some pictures. Usually flags are displayed in the summertime so this struck me as an interesting photo opportunity. So I brought my camera this morning with the intention of taking pictures of the decorations, but I saw so much more. I’m sure there will many (better) photos of this event; I saw others with cameras on my walk, including news reporters, but I really wanted to share these (virtually unedited) photos.

I have to go to work shortly so I don’t have time for a long post, but I thought the photos would speak for themselves. Bless you Sargeant Vasselian.



{November 18, 2013}   Cursive Death

cursive writing

Childhood cursive

To keep cursive writing as part of elementary school’s curriculum or not: this story came on the radio in my car as I was driving the other day. My ears pricked up; I had actually had a draft post on this issue from July of last year that I never completed. I guess it is time.

This is one of the instances when I am proud to be from Massachusetts. Normally a liberal state, but at times…conservative. With the increasing use of computers and hand-held devices, the continued value of teaching cursive script in schools has been questioned in recent years, but the time has now come to make a decision as far as the law is concerned. Massachusetts is one of a few states that will continue to require cursive script to be taught in public school; 45 states are considering not requiring it.

The ramifications for future generations hit me personally, as I sat scribbling in my journal this morning in my own “hybrid” version of handwriting (random printed letters jumbled with cursive). It occurred to me that the generations ahead that I hope might be interested in my written ramblings, may not even be able to read what I have written.

Last year I sat at the desk of a coworker twenty years older than me. I looked at the notes she had written on stickies; some of them were difficult for me to read. Why? Because she wrote in TRUE cursive…I realized it had been so long since I  had seen capital letters written in cursive script that I had to work to process it. (Sometime in high school and college I found it faster when taking notes to use printed capitals and then switch to cursive as I write the words.) I began to experiment in my head, then on paper; I went through the alphabet mentally trying to write each capital letter in script. Guess what? There were a few I wasn’t sure I had totally right, and two I didn’t remember at all (Q and Z)! It horrified me!

I started thinking…Do they still make those preprinted, center-dotted-line pages we used to use in school to practice our cursive? I started thinking I wish I had one of my childhood school papers as a piece of artwork for the wall (I used to have beautiful writing)…I started thinking if future generations don’t learn to write it, they won’t be able to read it and won’t value it. I suppose someone will write a computer program where pages of cursive could be scanned in and translated, but…would anyone bother with the old letters and journals of a dead relative? I like reading my grandmother’s journals, but then I’m from the generation still nostalgic about antiques.

Readers, what do you think? Is learning cursive writing still important?




I’m open to any tools that will help my creativity. I have written before about “The Artist’s Way,” one of my favorites that I turn to over and over.

I usually read more than one book at a time: a creativity book, a fiction novel, and sometimes a non-fiction book. I switch back and forth at different times depending on the time of day and my moods, so it generally takes me a while to get through books. I am not a fast reader anyway…especially with novels; I tend to savor the words like food. Usually I read the creativity book first thing in the morning when I write in my journal. I am currently finishing up “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

This week I started doing meditation with Deepak and Oprah. It’s free and it is about boosting your creativity and achieving your dreams. You can join here!

Today’s message: “I am a powerful creator!”



{September 12, 2013}   Twelve Years (and One Day) Later…

September calendar, Sept 11th

I am a day late with this post, but I think pondering the impacts of 9/11 is not something that stops when you turn the calendar.

At my present job I work with people of different ages. Yesterday there was a discussion at work of “Where were you when…?” One of the women I work with said, “I was in school…in 6th grade.” YIKES!

After this discussion, I decided to pull out an essay I wrote right after it happened. Someone on Craig’s List was looking for essays for a story collection about the event. Mine was not accepted, but now I’m glad I wrote it. Every time I read it, I will truly remember what that felt like for me: the confusion…the sorrow. I thought I’d share it here:

Halfway through 2001, I began to seriously question my career choice and my life’s purpose. In June, a coworker lost his only son, at eighteen years old, to a freak baseball accident. One minute he was proudly watching his son play a favorite sport, and an hour later, after an outfield collision, his son was dead. Though I had never met his son, I sat at my desk and cried for him.

Then in August my grandmother died. For most of my life I had been spared having to deal with death. The frustration and pain of watching my father, an only child, deal with the death of his beloved mother weighed on me. I wanted to spend more time with my family and less time being stressed out at work. I continued to go about my daily routine with growing feelings of discontent and inexplicable anxiety.

September 11th seemed like a normal morning. Per my routine, I got to work at 8:00 am, turned on my computer, and checked my email. Most people in my department got in at 9:00 am, so my first hour every day was casual and quiet. I made a cup of tea and wandered across the hall to visit a coworker who was also an early bird. We chatted about our beloved cats’ antics: light, pass-the-time conversation.

Just before 9:00 am, our proofreader rushed frantically down the hall and into the office. He was normally a quiet man who kept to his cubby, so it was a shock to see him down our end of the hall. We stopped our conversation abruptly when we saw his flushed face. Clearly upset, he told us there were planes circling and bombing the World Trade Center.

We were stunned. What he said was inconceivable. He told us that it was happening just as he was leaving the house. He lived around the corner and walked to work; he must have practically run this morning.

All I could think of was “Find a radio!” I repeated the proofreader’s words to everyone I saw during my radio search, unknowing that I was spreading distorted news, as if we were playing the childhood “telephone” game.

Our boss suddenly appeared, rushing down the hallway. She told us she heard on her car radio that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. As the later arrivals tumbled in, in various emotional states, radios were turned on, and people clustered in offices.  Then, as we listened, they announced that a plane had hit the Pentagon. “We’re under attack!” someone yelled. It might have been me; I know I was thinking it.

I felt numb, petrified. I thought the world was coming to an end. Everything I had felt in the last few months seemed like it was leading up to this moment. Why hadn’t I done something before?

Someone said there was a TV on in the gym and another one set up in the boardroom. No one worried about not getting work done. The country was in crises. I reached the TV in time to watch the second tower crumble to the ground, and as the newscasters talked about another missing plane, I left the room to cry alone. I felt like I couldn’t bear any more.

And I was lucky. No one I knew was on any of the planes, or in the twin towers, or the Pentagon. I didn’t have to run to a telephone and try to call relatives or friends only to hear a busy signal in my ear. I didn’t have to receive any final voice mail message that they loved me. I went back to my office and stared at my computer. What was I doing here? Same as what those poor people were doing…going about my daily life. There should be a sense of comfort, strength, and pride in that. This was life.

Turned out there was someone I had never met, who I had spoken with on the phone at work, who was in one of the buildings and managed to get out and survive. We talked of it VERY briefly a year later. He said he was grateful every day. Not long after our conversation, he was in a car accident with his family. He died, but the rest of his family lived. It absolutely gave me the shivers. Rereading my essay helps me put things in perspective and remember to be grateful, every day.




Veteran's Section Cemetary

Veteran’s Resting Place

Although Memorial Day in the U.S. started out as a holiday to honor the soldiers who have served the country during wartime — a day for parades and family cookouts — over the years it is has morphed into something completely different: a celebration of summer, the first three-day weekend after a long winter (in the North), or simply a chance for a short vacation. I’ve previously written about my memories of Memorial Day as a child, my enjoyment of the parades in my small hometown, my pride in my father who was a veteran of more than one war, so this change is not a welcome one to me.

I know I am not alone. For anyone without family or those who are going through troubles, economic or otherwise, “holidays” like these can be tough to stomach. It’s hard to block out the shreds of others’ conversations about vacations and social plans and how much they are “looking forward” to the long weekend. It’s hard to feel there is nothing wrong with treating these days as if they are any other or with celebrating them in a quiet or different way.

For some people, this is the right recipe to be cooked up for such a holiday: don’t compare yourself to others, don’t set up scenarios in your mind about what your life is “supposed” to be like. JUST ENJOY ONE MORE DAY IN YOUR LIFE.

I thought I would share a poem I wrote last year:

Alone on a Holiday

Holidays can be dreaded things:

the Social noise

salt on a wounded heart.

Silence feared, but solace found only there,

where the heart talks to itself

like a mumbling old fool –

Write it down;

Walk it off;

Alone,

Enjoy the fresh air —

stop and watch the delicate butterflies

at their colorful buffet;

the bathing goldfinch, hopping joy,

in a puddle a passing cloud discarded —

those very clouds are the excuse I give

for the pall, the aimlessness, the gray mood —

but excuses are poor crutches.

Some days searching for some high purpose,

some philosophical answer is like ripping open a hornet’s nest

that no amount of home remedy can assuage.

Take a holiday,

Give up the game;

Read, rest, live.



{April 25, 2013}   No News is Good News?

Picture of a TV

Seems like we have been inundated with “bad” news lately: the bombing in Boston, the explosion in Texas, the floods in the Midwest…and those are just the national stories, let alone the “more local” stories of murder and other tragedies. I can’t take it. I read headlines, but not stories. I try not to look at too many pictures or watch the news on TV. Yet I think it is important to know what is going on in the world, so I don’t want to avoid it altogether. Also, if I get too caught up in my own problems and lose sight of the bigger picture, I become self-obsessed and isolated.

How do you handle it dear readers? Do you control your news-watching with time limits? Do you only use certain news sources? Are there certain types of news stories you try to avoid altogether?

Personally, I try to avoid animal cruelty and child cruelty stories whenever possible. And unfortunately I am a terrorist’s dream…scared to death for a while after tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing.

I wrote this poem some years ago when I didn’t change the channel fast enough and an animal cruelty story came on:

No News is Good News

 Waiting for you,

I turn on the TV.

I cry alone

because someone set

somebody’s pet

on fire.

When you’re here

You try to keep me

from seeing

such things.

When you come home

You shake your head

at my wet eyes;

I just can’t be left alone.

I’ve soaked the cat’s fur

with my tears

hoping to prevent tragedy.

Although I appreciate the inspiration and a good cry…it just seems best for me to avoid the bad news whenever possible.



{April 17, 2013}   What is it About April?

Hyacinths

It’s a spring month, a time of renewal and hope; Easter often falls in this month. But it appears it is also a time for tragedy: the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Virginia Tech Shootings, the BP Oil Spill and now the Boston Marathon bombing. I saw my notes regarding some of these events in my long-term journal and shook my head. Why? This should be one of the best times of the year.

I know, you could probably take any month and find tragedies that have occurred in that month (December is another bad one), but because I live outside of Boston, the marathon tragedy is in my face and on my mind, bringing back bad memories of these other horrific events, events that took place at the same time as beautiful blooming bushes and daffodils.

I am going through tough times myself right now (nothing life-threatening…just way-of-life-threatening, which is psychologically difficult); that is why my blog posts have been few and far between. I have been calling this “the Spring I didn’t see” because I have barely noticed the flowers blooming or the weather warming. I go through my days in a haze of business and worry. Normally I would be enjoying the end of winter and anticipating my garden to come, but not this year. But Monday’s events made me HAVE to stop and think, whether I like it or not.

It’s easy to feel compassion for the victims, but hard to understand the people who perpetrate these acts. Are they so caught up in their own problems, so angry that they don’t see the flowers, feel the warmer air, see the blue sky, enjoy the world around them? When bad things are happening to you, it is hard not to feel blinding anger and self-pity. It takes strength and attention to see what’s good. Many of these people have minds eaten away by mental illness. Not an excuse, but a way to remember that, though their acts seem inhuman, they are humans with problems.

I went out for a very quick walk this morning, but I got down on my hands and knees to smell the hyacinths. I had to…I have to keep that smell and vision in my thoughts all day to get through. Life goes on, in very beautiful ways if you can see it.



{December 20, 2012}   A Poem for Victoria Soto

We all have different ways of coping with the horror of the school shootings in Newtown CT. People are donating, having vigils and praying, and bringing items to the town. My coping mechanism is poetry. I kept seeing Victoria Soto’s face on Facebook and felt like I wanted to focus on her. I wrote this poem and shared it on Facebook yesterday — on the day she was buried. In the midst of death, we must try to celebrate life.

Hero Unmasked (For Victoria Soto)

Her smiling photo posted —

reposted  —

she resonates –

a final note at

the end of a song;

a hushed world

listens in vain for more,

but silence hangs empty

as the stockings of the lost.

Children often aspire heroic —

Did she?

Ever don the cape and mask

and dream?

Not about this…

this dark December day,

when arms outstretched like wings,

she did the real thing:

shielded her angels

without cape and mask,

without bulletproof clothes,

without thinking —

she revealed

herself

to us

all.

Copyright 2012 Susan Desrocher



et cetera
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