television

Happy Spring!

Work on the stuff in boxes has slowed way down because one box in particular has loads of my work from grammar school. Work that my mother had saved. The trip down memory lane has been surreal… and slow…

The above drawing was with a group of papers created when I was about seven years old. We had to draw things we were thankful for. I drew my house, the American flag, and this television. It made me smile.

Recently I’ve learned that I think in pictures, rather than words or patterns. I had a reputation for being a bookworm, and I do love read, but I do it very slowly and my reading comprehension is not up to par. (I now have my grade school report cards to confirm that.) I find it very interesting that I did not draw a book for this assignment!

I still love watching T.V., although at times I am embarrassed to admit it. Some people can be pretty snooty about how mind-numbing they think most of what is offered is. And it is. But as I was growing up my parents required us to watch nature (think Jacques Cousteau), science and history documentaries. To this day I still watch and enjoy them!

After my mother died I would watch T.V. with my father on Wednesday nights, Nature and Nova on PBS. And Masterpiece Theatre on Sundays. And nowadays you will find me glued to the set when Finding Your Roots, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. comes on!

One night in October last year, I found an episode of Nature online. I invited Katherine to watch A Squirrel’s Guide to Success with me on my laptop. To my surprise and delight, she was utterly fascinated — we do watch squirrels a lot when we’re outside — and stayed put to watch the whole program with me. 🙂

I will keep reading books, but I’m more gentle with myself now when I have difficulty following along. And in honor of my inner child, I will now be watching T.V. without apology!!!

The Painted Bird

painted-bird

Well, our long-awaited adventure in North Carolina has begun! We took an overnight train to Washington, DC, and met our nephew and niece for breakfast at the station – it was so good catching up with David and Erica and hearing about their jobs and trips and plans. About noon we got on a very slow and very bumpy train to Raleigh – sometimes it felt like we were traveling in a covered wagon, or at least what my imagination tells me that would have been like.

As the train pulled into the station in the evening, there on the platform we could see our daughter, pregnant and due to give birth any day now. What an amazing and beautiful sight! We’ve been getting organized and settled in here at Dima & Larisa’s comfortable home in Chapel Hill, and now the last stretch of waiting begins… A new twig on our family tree will soon be welcomed into the world.

An old friend of mine from high school happens to live in the neighboring town of Carrboro. Last night she and her husband took us to an outdoor stone amphitheater, Forest Theatre, where we saw a giant puppet show, “The Painted Bird,” a production of the Paperhand Puppet Intervention. It was spectacular! I have to say I was dazzled by the huge brightly colored puppets, the astonishing choreography, the live orchestra and special sound effects. Some of the smaller field and forest creatures even slipped into the audience to interact with some of the children. What a sensual treat!

THE PAINTED BIRD is an enchanted pageant of weaving colors, huge puppets, rabbits, mice, and hedgehogs! It is a story of where we came from and how we got here. From the little creatures of the fields and forests, emerging from the brown earth, to the lumbering beasts of green sunlit pastures, all dancing to the rhythms of life. It is a story of time and forgetfulness. Who of us can remember the story of the Painted Bird who carries all the shades of the world on its wings, when the land has gone grey and the light faded? The furry creatures of forest and field must work together to keep a numbing greyness from sweeping across the land. Will the colors be consumed entirely from the world by the ever-encroaching grey? Come see for yourself, and the Painted Bird will rise with our own dreams of a brighter world this summer.

Sometimes it was fun to watch the children watching the show, their attention riveted, their eyes wide with wonder. And the lovely tall trees surrounding the amphitheater added their energy to the magic of the evening.

Will let everyone know when our little granddaughter arrives! Counting the days…

folding shirts

"The Ages of Life" by Georges Lacombe
“The Ages of Life” by Georges Lacombe

We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. These spirits form our lives, and they may reveal themselves in mere trivialities – a quirk of speech, a way of folding a shirt. From the earliest days of my life, I encountered the past at every turn, in every season.
~ Shirley Abbott
(Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South)

Early this morning I was awakened by a dream, one of those slice-of-life dreams that seems profound in some way. In the dream my father was young again, folding a pile of his fresh white t-shirts, as he used to do so meticulously on his laundry day. Padding over to the computer, I soon discovered our internet connection was down… So… I started looking through my quote collection to find one to go with the painting above, and smiled at the ‘folding a shirt’ connection to my dream.

I have the feeling I’ll be taking a leave of absence from blogging for now. Friday I had a root canal and other dental work done under conscious sedation, and the effects of the sedation didn’t wear off completely until late Saturday. Tim had some dental work done on Monday as well and both of us are still recuperating and on pain meds.

Meanwhile things have reached a crisis level with my aunt, who is 97. She now needs full-time care and seems to be declining rather quickly. She’s not eating and losing weight rapidly. Another aunt is in town and was working at finding her a place in a nursing home, but my long-suffering sister has decided that she would rather move Auntie into my father’s house so she and her husband can care for both her and Dad. Fortunately they have an appointment with an agency to get some professional in-home assistance, and an appointment with Hospice, too.

Both of Auntie’s sons predeceased her, but her granddaughter, who lives in Tennessee, is in town now as well. She doesn’t want to die alone, so the aim is to keep her surrounded by those who love her.

Nothing is here to stay
Everything has to begin and end
A ship in a bottle won’t sail
All we can do is dream that the wind will blow us across the water
A ship in a bottle set sail
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Baby) ♫

I have been assigned the task of planning for a simple cremation by-passing the cost of and toxic chemicals used at funeral homes. This research is bringing up all kinds of emotions. On the one hand it makes sense to be ready with a plan, but the very act of planning seems cold and calculating somehow… Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial by Mark Harris has been helpful. I wish there was a natural cemetery in Connecticut, but since there isn’t, cremation seems best.

Things have changed a lot since my mother died twenty-one years ago. Online I found the Cremation Society of New England. If I understand what I’m reading correctly, one can fill out forms online and have plans in place for when the last moment has arrived. But I will have to read this over a little at a time…

I love the painting at the top of this post, “The Ages of Life.” It seems to be a stage in a play. The woman in the lower right corner makes me think of Auntie, left widowed at such a young age. And now she seems to be the black figure with the cane in the background, quietly leaving the scene.

Connecticut Renaissance Faire

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

Last Saturday we braved the unseasonal heat and humidity and visited the Connecticut Renaissance Faire in Hebron, Connecticut.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

We saw a silk aerialist on one stage:

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

Then we were approached by this self-proclaimed fool who invited us to see his duel on another stage. I said we would come if he’d allow me to take his picture. He posed willingly.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

We watched another show on the stage shown below, from a distance, while eating our lunch in the shade. Not sure what it was all about – there was a lot of splashing and towel snapping – no doubt they were poking fun at the man they coaxed up there from the audience.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

There were costumes to be seen everywhere…

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

But our favorite part of the day was the falconry demonstration. I’m not sure how I feel about this sport, but the falconer explained that their birds were rescue birds and that they would have perished in the wild. In theory these birds of prey could fly away if they were unhappy with their lot in life.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

I was thrilled to be so close to these beautiful creatures, but my camera was getting a workout trying to zoom in and out to get pictures of them up close and far away. This falconer was very accommodating and kept pausing in front of me so I could get a shot.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

I got the sense that these falconers love and respect their birds of prey. They seemed genuinely interested in educating the public about their natural behavior. No unnatural or coerced circus tricks here.

The Tempest

Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island
Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island

Twenty years ago, in July of 1991, The Colonial Theater of  Westerly, Rhode Island, began presenting its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My mother had died only a few weeks earlier, and after seeing an article in the newspaper about the free performances, Tim & I decided we should go. We loved every minute of it, cuddled under the stars in our beach chairs on the lawn of beautiful Wilcox Park. Seeing these plays became one of the highlights of our year, a dearly loved tradition.

For the 15th season, in 2005, the theater presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream again, much to our delight! And I loved these words found in the program that year:

The mix of illusion and reality that runs through the play is also a particularly relevant theme at this time. For this is at the heart of what we do each year. With your participation, we visit people and worlds where the normal, earthbound laws of physics no longer apply. … Not only is the play filled throughout with the imagery of dreams, but Puck even addresses the audience at the play’s close with the advice that if they’ve not been pleased with what they’ve seen, they should just tell themselves that they’ve been dreaming, and will wake up with nothing lost. And what’s to say that we haven’t been dreaming while this parade of characters has performed across the stretch of our imagination?
~ Harland Meltzer, Producing Artistic Director, Colonial Theater

Over the years we’ve been to almost every play, except for the few times there was no play due to lack of funding. It’s free, but the theater counts on donations to make it each year. Besides making donations ourselves, Tim buys a coffee cup each year and as you imagine, has a large collection now.

TheTempest2011
“The Tempest” ~ summer 2011 ~ Wilcox Park, Westerly, Rhode Island

This year the play chosen was The Tempest, which was put on for the second time, the first time being in 1992. After watching the weather report we decided that Wednesday was the best night to catch it. We went early in the afternoon to stake out our spot, and then returned in the evening, found a good parking spot, walked to a restaurant for dinner and then walked back to the park for the play. Even though I had my exercise ball to sit on, perhaps all the walking and sitting in the restaurant had taken its toll because I was uncomfortable almost immediately. And Tim was not feeling well due to moving around in the heat and humidity – it’s hard on his heart. Both of us sat there miserably until the intermission, wondering if the other would mind leaving early, something we had never ever done before. When intermission came we took one look at each other and knew with very little verbal communication how things stood. We quietly gathered up our things and left…

Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island
Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island

For future reference I’m listing all of Shakespeare’s plays we’ve seen by this theater group at Wilcox Park:

1991 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1992 – Tempest
1993 – As You Like It
1996 – Romeo & Juliet
1996 – Julius Caesar (performed by the visiting Anglian Open Air Shakespeare Company)
1997 – Twelfth Night
1998 – Othello
1999 – Taming of the Shrew
2000 – Henry IV, Part I
2001 – Hamlet
2003 – Merchant of Venice
2004 – Much Ado About Nothing
2005 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
2006 – Romeo & Juliet
2008 – As You Like It
2009 – Two Gentlemen of Verona
2011 – Tempest (until intermission)

Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island
Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island