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July 29, 2014
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I am not a gardener but every spring when I lived in suburbia
I purchased flats of pansies, marigolds and impatiens.
Impatiens thrived through the entire season,
had little luck with pansies, but I loved
how they twisted and turned toward the sun.
I was good about picking off dead blooms,
enjoyed the gold and orange marigolds long into fall.

Mother

Have you seen your brother lately?

A question rising out of
a mind confused
so clearly came the message  Read more

How Real I Used to Be: A Journey with My Mother through the Strange World of Alzheimer’s

In 2003 my mother started to lose her memory. It was subtle at first. We would walk on Avenue U and she would fail to come up with the name of an acquaintance or two. Nothing alarming. After a while her shopping list started to look like an art project, with drawings of mushrooms and strawberries next to the words milk and bananas. Soon the drawings faded away. In the supermarket she would say to me, “I’m looking for those red things with a little green piece and they come all together.” Sometimes it was obvious what she wanted; other times we left without the crackers or the American cheese.  Read more

The Word is Yes

Verbatim conversation:

“Can you play the bongos?” I asked my daughter’s friend, Skye. He grunted in reply.

“I’m sorry, what was that? I just wanted to know if you can play the bongos.” He shrugged.

“Is that a yes or no?” I asked. He smirked, shrugged and then grunted.

Desperate to get around the words that weren’t happening, I placed a set of bongos in his hands and he instantly performed one of the most impressive solos I’d ever heard. When he stopped, he grumbled, “I really can’t play.”  Read more

Word

Far off grackle
Cat bird screech
Cat pressing through weeds
Isn’t that word enough?  Read more

Poetry Is

the unusual in the usual
the nugget in the cliché
the dot on the i
the cross on the t
the picture worth a thousand words
the tree you can’t see
for the forest
the black sheep  Read more

Pop Poetry

I

Cross Walk

Push button to cross Tappan Road
People push my buttons
Cross me
Just try it!  Read more

Unnecessary Words

Their hands touch
across the white blanket,
words unnecessary.

The doctor says,
“It’s best not to see him like this.”
She says, “Mind your business.”

The doctor adds,
“He’s going to die soon,”
as if she didn’t know.

She holds the hands that
held hers for sixty-eight years.
His eyes open to hers.

She took him home
without interference and
unnecessary words.

Misunderstandings

When my grandson, John, was seven, he had a friend visiting who told him he was going to the libary later. John said “It’s not libary, it’s library.” Later, when my daughter wanted to know what flavor ice cream he wanted he said, “strawberry,” but then said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I mean strawbrary.”

My son runs his own business and once had an office cat, which didn’t create a problem until he hired a computer operator who was allergic to cats. His secretary said, “We’ll have to keep him outside.” The office manager replied, “But how can he operate the computer from out there?”  Read more

Out of the Mouths of Babes

“There is no conclusion; the story blooms.” — from “The Last Sunday in October” by Jean LeBlanc

We are all storytellers—you, me, all of us. At least one story waits in us all, waiting to be born, to make it free into the world, somehow, and change things or people, just a little bit. Perhaps children are the ones who know this best. I know I learned this from a child a long time ago...  Read more

Sentences

The word-seeds that seed our sleepless nights
with consonants and vowels, left alone unsyntaxed

never hear the light of day‑
unfurl and stretch in banks of clouds

or along long streams before they disappear
into sentences never spoken.  Read more

Multiple Choices

“When you have a million choices, you have no choice at all.”
— Barry Schwartz, “The Paradox of Choice”  Read more

Niqab

I did not know the girl behind the veil. I could barely see her eyes. Yet, I could feel her humiliation, her disgrace, her indignation. It stabbed at my heart to see her being treated as an outcast. These strangers treated her with contempt, simply because of her dress and her foreign tongue. A compulsion came over me. I needed to experience this persecution for myself so that I could better understand, so that I would never forget that an individual should be judged by their actions and values, not by their outward appearance.  Read more

A dessert by any other name...

The choices for what to do with summer berries are endless. How to choose? Having some definitions might help to get you started. Most (though not all) of these are baked desserts. A number of them are quite old fashioned, but they are so simple that you might consider giving one or two a try.

Cobblers and Crumbles  Read more

Cooking real food from scratch; Avoiding ‘edible food-like substances’

I love farmers’ markets. Not a farmer myself, I nevertheless belong to an organization of farmers who practice sustainable agriculture. I support the blossoming food movement to Buy Fresh Buy Local and the local economies movement to shop locally because I believe that our global economic model is unsustainable based as it is on the unsustainable use of fossil fuel energy. I shop at farmers’ markets because they are a source of real food, which is pretty much the only food I want to eat anymore. For me, real food, grown locally is a starting point for sustainable living.  Read more

Everything is illuminated; Watts up with light bulbs?

Sustainable light bulbs bring up a lot of questions: which one to use, how sustainable are they, and what will the cost savings be? It could leave your head spinning, but worry no more. The River Reporter is here to shed some light on the world of light bulbs. The two types of sustainable light bulbs are LEDs and CFLs. Below, we break down the benefits of making the switch from incandescent bulbs (the “normal” type of bulb we all grew up with) to one of these two options.

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)  Read more

Tastemaker: Turning a house into a home

A conversation with interior designer Sharon Carroll by Jane Bollinger

Sharon Carroll is an interior designer.

She helps create personal living spaces that reflect the kinds of lives her clients want to enjoy in their homes. The job involves more than constructing functional spaces that meet the homeowners’ needs; Carroll also wants her clients fulfill their personal desires for finding fun activities and pleasurable pastimes to enjoy in their homes. Fun, enjoyment and pleasure are important words in Carroll’s working vocabulary.  Read more

The homestead flock

Like any new parents, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Standing in the post office, the incessant, frantic peeping coming from the box, which seemed way too small to contain 50 baby chicks, suggested that our free-wheeling, home-after-dusk days were over. Like many beginning “neo-homesteaders” these days, we began our foray into livestock husbandry with that seemingly fool-proof barnyard staple—Gallus gallus domesticus—the chicken.  Read more

How to kill weeds without herbicides

At this point in the growing season just about everyone who grows a garden or tends a flower bed has a common nemesis: the common garden weed. Of course, this common weed is not just one measly pest. Instead, it is a compilation of many different plants that all want the same thing: to invade our space. There is dandelion, sow thistle, carpet weed and crabgrass to name a few of the more intrusive varieties. While we all wish that our gardens were tame and beautiful from all angles, we must realize that this is the way it works. Growing a garden means you will be growing weeds as well.  Read more

Sustainability house

Rebekah Creshkoff dreamed of a straw-bale house. A dedicated birder, she had spent her adult life in New York City riding her bike to work every day across Central Park. There, a downy woodpecker had gotten to know her well enough to eat out of her hand.

In 2010, she and her husband Lenny Friedland rented a house for the summer in Narrowsburg. They liked it so much, the next year they found themselves dreaming about building a home. Another rental on River Road in Callicoon turned those dreams into plans.  Read more