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December 27, 2014
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River Muse

The heart of Art

My friend Art Peck was not a simple man. What he knew about the world, he mostly learned from experience. When he wanted to know more, he turned to a book, or the Internet, or to someone with more experience. With less than an 8th grade formal education, he built a small empire, several boats, a few cars and a house. He was born smart, not raised smart. He had his own ideas, whether about politics, or the environment, or business, or art, or the way a mutual friend kept house.  Read more

The need to want

I am writing from the early hours of Cyber-Monday after what the New York Times refers to as a “gloomy Black Friday.” I have a confession to make. I didn’t shop on Thanksgiving (I would never!), nor on Black Friday. I didn’t even shop on Small Business Saturday (although I meant to). On Sunday, I browsed the catalogs that managed to find us, even after two moves in one year. I almost clicked on a pair of moto-boots in black leather that were drool-worthy and on sale, but instead I closed my iPad and rested my eyes before going to sleep.  Read more

Keeping up

You never know what you can do until you do it. This was reinforced for me recently on a cycling trip in southern France. My friend Kara had suggested this trip as a way to see part of Europe in an intimate way on a budget. We have been cycling since childhood, often together, but neither of us had pedaled farther than the length of Manhattan in many years. We picked a tour company that offered “easy” itineraries on relatively flat terrain. Still, it was an ambitious plan.  Read more

They paved paradise

During the 20 summers we spent at our little bungalow near Monticello, we would occasionally wake to the sound of Bobby Somer’s tractor revving up to mow the communal property. If it was a weekend, when the 11 families that comprised our co-op were likely to be in residence, I would make a mental note to ask Bobby to hold off on mowing until the weekdays. But then, in less time than it took to put on a pot of tea and shower, the tractor would be back on its trailer and peace would once again reign in our little patch of paradise in the Catskills.  Read more

Survivor

Sometimes you have to go back to go forward. Forty-five years is a long way back though. When I was a young teenager there was a lanky English lad who was new to our high school. Somehow I nabbed him for my boyfriend. He had rosy cheeks and dark hair and an easy laugh. He also had a ripe body odor—unaccustomed as he was to the use of American deodorants. He liked science-fiction and the BeeGees and Phil Ochs. He took me to see “Hair” on Broadway. We didn’t talk about ourselves much, but then, what was there to know? We had hardly begun to live. Or so I thought.  Read more

Change

I remember a time when death was an anomaly in my life. A grandparent’s passing celebrated with an Irish wake and a funeral mass. Now it seems to haunt the everyday, wagging its finger like a told-you-so teacher.  Read more

Why do I do it?

Why do I do it? I asked myself this question many times during the last few months while rehearsing a new play for a decidedly short run in Milford, PA. The play, “Four Score and Seven,” was written by a theatre buddy of mine, John Klemeyer. We once played opposite each other as the murderous brother/sister, husband/wife team in Ira Levin’s thriller “Veronica’s Room” on another way-off-Broadway stage in the Catskills. So that was one reason in favor of the dozens of car trips between Narrowsburg, NY and Milford and New York City to rehearsals and finally, performances.  Read more

The dreamer

When he was younger, my son would pepper me with questions about how to do things. “How can I make a one-man flying machine?” was one that piqued his interest early on—enough so that he bypassed Mom’s knowledge base and went straight to the President of the United States (then Bill Clinton). Bill wrote back, telling Conor that NASA was working hard on things like that and that Conor should study hard and stay in school. But Conor was a dreamer. He was a creative kid who could be kept happy and busy with a lump of Sculpey clay or a pencil and a pad of paper.  Read more

Ah, brief spring!

Maple catkins droop as tender Amelanchier blossoms herald the arrival of shad plowing upstream to deposit their lucre of roe in the riverbank. Everywhere forsythia and daffodils arch their slender necks in a riot of yellow, proclaiming the end of another gray winter. Redbuds will follow magnolias, then dogwood, each one taking its turn in the unfolding until all are green again, the architecture of branches obscured by leaves that sway and float in the breeze of spring, the warm breath of summer.  Read more

A new muse

Medical terminology is my new muse. It’s almost poetic. “Mass, mobile and firm” was the caption on one of the snapshots my doctor handed me of my recent endoscopy, while I was still woozy from the Propofol (reportedly Michael Jackson’s drug of choice).  Read more