More than Confusion of Languages!

Written By: sherridaley - • •

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Not a patient person anyway, I was more than irritated by the Margaret Brickshaw character in this book. Well-intentioned but remarkably stupid in my opinion, Margaret follows her heart rather than social conventions when she finds herself immersed in Middle Eastern  culture.

Both Margaret and Cassie Hugo are young wives married to soldiers stationed in Jordan. Cassie and her husband Dan have been there for two years before Margaret and her husband Creighton arrive. The husbands are military colleagues and friends, but Cassie meets Margaret for the first time early in the book and understands she needs to help Margaret get settled in an unfamiliar country.

Which is not as easy as we’d hope.

First of all, Margaret and Creighton (His nickname is Crick.) have an adorable baby. Cassie and Dan have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant and Cassie is empty and ruined and sad. The baby, with the rather sophisticated name of Mather, pulls at Cassie’s heart and marriage. Margaret takes the baby for granted. It is, after all, her baby and there’s nothing particularly amazing about having a baby.  Unless of course you can’t have one.

Also, Crick is a bit of a flirt around Cassie, and Dan doesn’t really understand the bleeding ache in his wife’s heart because she can’t procreate.  Cassie tries to mentor Margaret through the complicated rules of being a woman living in the Middle East while swallowing her envy about Mather. Margaret tries to balance her female spontaneity with what she thinks are unnecessary restrictive protocols in her everyday life.

These four people orbit one another, sometimes touching, sometimes not, sometimes hurting each other without meaning to.  But the awkwardness extends far beyond the two couples. There’s a cultural awkwardness with horrid repercussions and it’s all Margaret’s innocent fault.  Unless you question Cassie’s motives, which I advise you not to.

All along the way, I wanted things to go differently and I wanted to like the characters more than I did. I became enmeshed in the mess they were all making, unable to blame one character more than another.

It doesn’t end well.

 

 

 

 

Underwear – Second in a series

Written By: sherridaley - • •

Getting dressed and undressed is what you do before and after you go to the gym. It is not considered part of your workout.  However, as an aging athlete with arthritis, I found that getting into a pair of Lululemon leggings is a challenging exercise in balance and focus, and therefore I do count it as part of my workout.

I have mastered this by first assigning myself a point at which to stare. In yoga, we call this your drishti; it helps your balance. That way, I can stand on one leg while inserting the other leg into my leggings without either sitting on the floor like a toddler or leaning against a doorjamb (like a drunk).  I have become quite adept at this and I think I look like a ballerina.

Furthermore, I have no problem, despite the arthritis in my shoulders, putting on a sports bra. After all, I’ve been wearing sports bras since they were invented in 1977.

Getting undressed, however, is a whole nother story. Peeling off sweaty leggings is pretty easy, although for me, they almost always end up inside out. No problem, really. But getting out of a sweaty sports bra has become the part of my workout that I hate the most. More than burpees. More than side crunches on a stability ball. More than anything my trainer can dream up at her most sadistic.

I have not found any tricks that help.  After a sweaty, sticky workout at the gym – “sticky” being the operative word here – I am hard put to get out of my brassiere. One would think that simply leaning forward, reaching behind, and grabbing the back of the sports bra would result in being able to pull the thing up and over my head.

No. First of all, “reaching behind” is hard. Both shoulders scream, “Are you kidding?” There are odd gyrations necessary to get both hands even near the middle of my back; and once there, I sometimes I can muster up enough strength to yank the damn thing off.

Other times, I can hear threads snapping, but the bra is not moving and what started as an exercise in strength has now evolved into the arena of physics, that branch of science concerned with the properties of matter (sports bra) and energy (mine) and the relationship between them ( not good). According to the internet, physics traditionally includes mechanics, optics, electricity, magnetism, and heat, all of which I seem to employ while trying to get a fucking sweaty sports bra off.

Geometry even gets into it. Will the acute angle of my right elbow fit through the arm hole?  Sometimes it does, which leaves me with one breast and one arm free and absolutely no idea what to do next. It does, however, make me feel as though I have made progress. This is a delusion.

Another approach is to pull the bra up over both boobs and attempt to pull the bra over my face and, hence, off, which sometimes results in getting it stuck on my head, temporarily blinding me, which makes me mad.

By the time I am one “goddammfuckshitasswipeshitfuck” away from ripping the thing in half, I find out how strong the fabric they make sports bras out of really is. I am not even sure I can cut it off with garden shears, and I can hardly go over to the neighbor’s house with one boob trapped in an armhole and ask for help.

When I was complaining to my brother about this, he suggested I forget about taking it off at all – just wear it all the time- which isn’t a bad idea. I mean, I’d shower with it on so it wouldn’t get all smelly. I consider this.

Then I remember the feeling of accomplishment I get after a good workout.  You know that rush after a brisk 5-mile run or that pumped-up burn after lifting? I get that feeling after I have successfully removed a sweaty sports bra and I stand naked, free …

… and victorious.

 

 

 

 

Unsettling.

Written By: sherridaley - • •

Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar Goshen

Like Bonfire of the Vanities, this debut novel starts with a hit-and-run, an unexpected bolt of violence in the very first sentence. So unexpected that I had to go back and re-read the first few pages to make sure I had got it right.

Unlike Bonfire, however, the protagonist of Waking Lions is a good man that I kept rooting for, even though leaving a man bleeding by the side of the road in the middle of the night, in the middle of a desert, is a despicable thing to do.  Especially since the driver, Eitan Green, is a doctor – a neurosurgeon, actually, and – um – married to a police detective. They’ve got a solid marriage with two healthy sons.

But now Dr. Green has an ugly secret. He knew the man was beyond resuscitation, and furthermore, an Eritrean migrant (Yes, I had to look it up, too.), probably undocumented; and so, under a beautiful moon and a scattering of bright stars, Dr. Green left him there and went home.

Fear, guilt, morality, and racism are all tumbled together in a story that I kept stumbling over, never quite expecting what would happen next.  If nothing else, Waking Lions will test what you thought you knew about people. It’s uncomfortable, provoking, and tangled. I actually gasped when I finally grasped what hell Dr. Green had gotten himself into.

But it was a hell of good intentions, and once there he could not leave. Would he fall in love with the widow of the dead Eritrean? She is strong-willed, single-minded, and Dr. Green grew to find her beautiful. Would his guilt finally give him away? It had to. His wife was assigned to investigate the hit-and-run. How much worse could it get?  Well, it could and it does.

I don’t want to tell you much more, because the surprises are what make the book so impossible to put down. You will never, ever see the ending coming.

And you will never really feel good about it.

Fat

Written By: sherridaley - • •

(FFirst in a Series)

Take two large boneless chicken breasts – uncooked – out of the refrigerator and lay them end to end on the kitchen counter.  Then place your hands on them, one hand to a breast, and squeeze.

That is what my belly feels like. On either side of my torso, the bunched-up fat is more like a good tilapia filet, folded over.

That being said, no one thinks I am fat; and I don’t really look fat from most angles or when I am wearing leggings and a stunning Eileen Fisher silk tunic, preferably black.

However, no one would willingly paste two chicken breasts on her stomach or tilapia filets at the bottom of her ribcage where they can lovingly be referred to as “love handles” or a “muffintop”. (For those of you men who are reading this, DO NOT EVER USE THOSE WORDS TO REFER TO THE BODY OF A WOMAN YOU LOVE. In fact, just don’t use those words at all.)

At first, I thought I would lose a few pounds and that unsightly flab would disappear, but instead, I gained weight – through no fault of my own, I might add. I don’t eat cake or pie or pizza or candy bars or mashed potatoes or cheeseburgers or ice cream or bread or French fries or Mexican food.  I do, however, use industrial amounts of butter when I cook and drink vats of Chardonnay, and I am sure there are other falls from grace we could identify if I gave a shit. Excuse me. I meant, if I took the time to really examine my diet.

Here are things I tried.

  1. Turmeric, Cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and a shot of water every day. Nothing happened.
  2. Underactive thyroid? Took pills for a year.  The nurse said the weight would just “drop off”.
  3. Not eating after 9PM. Not a problem. I’m usually asleep so no change there.
  4. Drink more water. Did that.
  5. Join a gym. I understand now that you have to GO to the gym after you join.

Despite my admittedly half-hearted efforts to lose that flabby chicken fat, I continued to slowly but inexorably gain weight until I now weigh about as much as my high school boyfriend did.

I read somewhere that the average American will gain about a pound each year from age 25 while losing about ½ pound a year of bone and muscle mass. After 70 or 80, our weight typically begins a slow decline, which sounds good except we don’t lose the fat we gained earlier; we tend to lose even more muscle tissue and bone density while the amount of body fat remains the same or even increases.

Doing the math, I appear to be in pretty good shape despite the wads of flesh that hang over the top of my underpants, which I envision cutting off with a steak knife in my more angry, self-flagellating moments and which I know is immature, stupid, and non-productive.

Or is it?  Couldn’t a doctor cut this off with the surgical equivalent of a steak knife? Yes, he could. It’s called a “tummy-tuck”!

So I called a doctor and made an appointment.

JACKPOT.

Written By: sherridaley - • •

Jackpot.

I always check out 4-5 books at a time, sometimes more. I stack them up on the windowsill next to my bed and when I decide that a book isn’t worth my time, I flip to the end to see if the guy dies or the wife walks out or the doctors give up but the baby lives. Then I toss the book on the floor and reach for the next book. This saves a lot of trips back & forth to the library.

However, this last stack of books provided me with three great books in a row, and I recomend you go out immediately and find them and read them all.

The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal does star a couple of teenagers, but it is absolutely not your average coming-of-age novel.  This is a story of a whole family: kids, stepkids, parents, grandparents, in-laws, lovers, exes, and a dog. There are so many different kinds of love here, so carefully arranged and presented, that I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which “relationship” I was actively following. The plots unravel slowly, with enough hints and foreshadowing to have me thinking, “Oh god, please don’t let THAT happen.” But it does, of course, except for the couple of things that didn’t, even though I was totally expecting them.

I hurt for everyone, reading this book. Even the love hurt a bit. They all tried so hard, analyzed decisions, not realizing that some things just happen without any human (or divine) intervention.  Polite.  This book treats awkwardness, passion, disappointment, anger, and loss politely, slipping hope in there to make me feel better.

The Floating World is a love story of a completely different nature. The author, C. Morgan Babst, evacuated New Orleans one day before Katrina made landfall, and after 11 years in New York, she went back to live in New Orleans with her husband and child. Although this is a sort of murder mystery involving a missing sister and dead woman, it’s really a love story between the city of New Orleans and the people who live there.

I fell in love myself – with the mud and the placid, standing water weeks after the storm, with the mold and the rot, and the broken trees and abandoned houses filled with sodden shoes and mattresses. The resilience of the survivors is stunning. I could never have been so stubborn, so strong. But I have never loved a city like these people love theirs.

When I finished the book, I could almost smell the heat, see the wind. It’s a book heavy with scent and scenery.  It’s almost palpable.

Standard Deviation. Well.  I didn’t have much hope for this book. Three good books in a row is really too much to ask of any library, but who can’t love a book with a sentence like this?

Elspeth had the deeply reflective air of someone who has just seen a particularly savage wildlife documentary, and Bentrup had taken on the seedy, shellacked look of a late-night convenience store shopper.

Every page had sentences like that. Every page!

Unlike The Awkward Age, Standard Deviation has only a few characters to follow, but it’s tough keeping up. Our hero’s second wife is mildly crazy, unpredictable, and so beautiful that our man can’t stop admiring her. His first wife is intelligent, accomplished, and very, very neat. The progeny from the second marriage is Matthew, an 11-year-old boy with Asperger’s and an obsession with origami. Living with, and trying to raise, Matthew is practically a fulltime job, skirting his many social issues, planning and cooking his complicated food issues, tolerating the very few friedships he’s managed to acquire, and driving him to and from whatever activities they’ve arranged.

Still our hero, Graham Cavanaugh, has time to vacillate between right and wrong, moral and amoral, acceptance and curiosity, lust and friendship. It’s not easy.

As houseguests came and went, I found myself getting tired. I wanted to force myself into a chapter or two just to clear people out of the apartment so Graham could THINK.

I was disappointed that the book ended, and as Graham and Audra (that’s the second wife’s name) tottered off into the night, I wished I could have followed them!

The Skinny on Bad Behavior

Written By: sherridaley - • •

 

 

The Skinny on Bad Behavior

I swear to God you are the only person I have told this to.

The other night I went out for a walk on the beach and about a half-mile from the marina, I ducked behind a couple of trees, took off my clothes, ran across the sand, and jumped in the water. I cavorted around for a while, made some big splashy noises; and then I streaked back to where I had hidden my clothes, got dressed, and walked home.

It felt great.

I may never do it again. Something tells me that it would be bad business to make a habit of swimming naked on neighborhood beaches even in the dark. But if I never have the urge again, at least I know now that I can if I want to. I got away with it, and I must tell you, there was something liberating about running through the dark without my clothes on. I could see lights in the windows of the shore houses; there was a wide arc of a spotlight over the tennis courts at the beach club and headlights twinkled through the dune rose bushes that separated the swimming area from the street. I kept watching the public pavilion for the night watchman. I squinted through the dark, on the alert for some locals out for a stroll or a couple of teenagers looking for a place to be alone. And there I was, naked as a jaybird and flaunting it, dancing around on the sand bar. Am I nuts?

Maybe. All I know is, there are a few things I miss as I (gently) grow older, and one of them is misbehaving. Good clean fun, with a little mischief tossed in and a slight dusting of danger, that delicious fear of “getting caught.”

My best friend Patty and I used to sneak into MaryLou Durentini’s house when we knew nobody was home. We were, I think, nine. We never took anything. We never even touched anything. We just went in through the porch door because we knew it was always unlocked and walked around looking at things. We never spoke. We just walked through the rooms holding onto each other, holding our breath, hearing imaginary clicks and door latches that could signal the arrival of Mr. or Mrs. Durentini. The anxiety was like ice water running over our skin; the air in our lungs strained at our chests till we were ready to burst. When we snuck back out again, we walked nonchalantly down the driveway and then took off running at top speed and threw ourselves, spent and breathless, into the drainage ditch behind the Methodist church. Ah, it was grand.

When I got a little older and could get around without grownups, I was forbidden to hang out by the river. The current was swift and the water was ice-cold. Behind the river’s edge was the local park where evil lurked in the bushes. To sit with your boyfriend on the river bank was just about as exciting as you could possibly get. It was a small town. Anyone could see you – just happen past, tell your mom and you would really catch it. I just loved being in love when and where I wasn’t supposed to. At 15, all those hormonal nerve-endings are like live electrical wires downed by high winds. They jump and send sparks. It’s a great feeling.

Misbehaving got a little more wicked as the years went on. I remember the first time I was awake – and out – at 3AM.. Only naughty things happen at 3AM. Lovely, wicked things. Dancing on picnic tables, drinking contests and kissing contests and whispered confidences. Lapses in judgment and memory, illicit sex, and precious little lies we all think we can justify and lies we want to believe. Things that you can only do in the dark on not enough sleep and too much liquor.

Then you grow up. The penalties for misbehaving start to get inconvenient, and the authorities are less forgiving. You begin to look foolish or downright stupid. Furthermore, I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time staying up long enough to get into too much trouble, especially if I drink. Used to be that if I had a couple drinks too many, I’d tell bawdy jokes, dance on the bar, flirt with the bartender, or take somebody home. Now I just nod off.

But oh I miss the electricity that heats up when I misbehave. That skin-tingling anxiousness, the bubble of breath that rises in my chest and threatens to cut off my air supply. It’s heady and exhilarating, and I felt it the other night when I hid my clothes behind the trees at the beach and ran barefoot and naked into Long Island Sound.

I wonder who saw me.

SIDEBAR
Skinny-dipping may just be the last bastion of naughtiness we can allow ourselves. According to police (I called several towns), skinny-dipping as a concept is not illegal. “The term is ‘breech of peace’,” said the officer at the Westport Police Department, who of course remains nameless. Cops can’t bask in media limelight. “If there’s no complaint, you haven’t broken any law. Frankly, I wouldn’t bother anyone I saw skinny-dipping.” (This is the cop I want to catch me.)

You must be careful about where you run around naked, however. It either has to be a public swimming hole or your own property. If you trespass, it doesn’t matter if you have your suit on or not. You broke the law.

So if you’re considering a little naughty midnight swim, consider the following.

SAFE
Swim naked in your own backyard pool. You can heighten the danger factor here by swimming naked during the day. Diving off the high board drives the scare factor up some more.

NOT SO SAFE
Midnight skinny-swims on public beaches. These are sometimes patrolled, so keep your clothes handy and leave your ID in the car. Remember we don’t run so fast anymore.

UNSAFE
Skinny-dips in reservoirs in broad daylight. This is highly illegal, even if you’re wearing a suit. Reservoirs are always patrolled, and the cops know where the kids sneak in. You will be the oldest one in the courtroom and the fines are nasty.

SCARY
Sneak into the pool of a swanky golf club. The rewards are clean water, no horseshoe crabs or unidentified muck to step into. If you’re quiet, you might get away with it, but some clubs have night watchmen, some are regularly visited by he cops, and neighbors have no sense of humor. They’ll call the police.

BLAST OF ADRENALINE
Saunter breezily and in your favorite bathing apparel into the deep water of a local swimming area. Paddle around for a while, and when you think people aren’t looking, wiggle out of your suit. You can tie your suit to an ankle and swim around naked. If your fellow swimmers turn you in, however, you better work on your softshoe.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Go naked.

Read Brewster. Just read it.

Written By: sherridaley - • •

brewsterpicBrewster
By Mark Slouka

I can hardly wait to read the other books Mark Slouka has written to see if they are as gripping and sad and unforgettable as Brewster. Ostensibly a novel about teenage friendship, Brewster is anything but a typical coming-of-age story. Plots develop side-by-side as they charge through the book like they’re racing. Just when you get caught up in the love triangle of Ray and Jon and Karen, you learn to be afraid of Ray’s father’s cruelty, fear for the safety of Ray’s little brother, and come to admire Karen’s unbelievably steadfast commitment. Jon is on the track team and training for a race, Ray is fighting his battles – both physical and emotional, Karen is lighting up the narrative with her love and her quiet beauty.

The little town of Brewster, New York, is as much a character in the book as the people are. It’s alive with a haunting personality and verve; Slouka pulls his readers into town where they shiver in the bitter cold wearing thin jackets, smell the shit and mud that Ray pries off his boot soles with a stick, feel the autumn wind that sends dry leaves into spirals. The town is poor, the people resigned, and Ray and Jon hear the sleet against the window, “…dry, like sand, like somebody was trying to get [their] attention.”

The outside world is trying to get their attention, calling the three friends, but the town is holding them tight in its fist. The three of them plan to leave, they fight to leave, but the harder they fight, the tighter the grip, the more violent the narrative becomes, and the unexpected comes with breathtaking surprise and unspeakable butchery, although we should have known. We should have known.

Slouka writes with powerful ease, the dialogue is swift and authentic, and the descriptions are palpable. Brewster is a robust, intoxicating read. Ray and Jon and Karen, their families, and their friends will stay with you long after you put the book away.

Intimacy Idiot – Twice

Written By: sherridaley - • •

idiotI got the book out from the library again because I wanted to refresh my memory about exactly how funny this book is. Now I am half-way through the darn thing again and I do not – repeat do not EVER – read books or see movies twice. Life’s too short. This guy, though, this Isaac Oliver, a swishing queen of a New York City homosexual really is – as the book jacket promises – as funny as David Sedaris, Tina Fey, and Augusten Burroughs would be if they all got together for shots. Wouldn’t that be a trip?

But you don’t need that to happen You have Isaac. He calls himself an idiot when it comes to intimacy, but by the 5th page, it’s clear he’s no idiot. He’s smart and he’s brazen, but he’s afraid of his own boldness. He’s funnier ‘n shit and that’s the way he sees everything – from the rats in the subway to the guy he met on Grindr who likes to dress up as a dolphin. If he has not been able to solidify a relationship, it’s not for lack of brains .. or trying. He thinks too much and maybe he tries too hard, but by the time I finished the book (the first time) I wanted to track him down and go out on the town with him.

He writes about casual sex, serious sex, food, lipstick,funerals, and MoMA. There’s a chapter on how to build a fire (in thirty easy steps) and, a favorite of mine, a little note he writes in his mind to a one-night stand: “To the gentleman who made me hide in the closet so he could pay his cleaning lady: First of all, she totally saw me. Second, that’s all you pay her?”

Why have I heard so little about Isaac Oliver?

I’m going to Google him right now. Maybe he’s free for a cocktail later.

Instant Expert — not

Written By: sherridaley - • •

instant expert

 

INSTANT EXPERT (A visual guide to the skills you’ve always wanted)
By Nigel Holmes
Publisher: Lonely Planet 2015
OK, so the title is misleading. Reading this book will not make you an expert in anything, nor is it crammed full of skills you’ve always longed for. But then the title of GONE WITH THE WIND didn’t seem to have anything to do with Rhett or Scarlet or the Civil War or anything else for that matter.

PAGES AND PAGES OF GREAT ILLUSTRATIONS AND USELESS INFORMATION is probably a better title for INSTANT EXPERT but that was probably rejected by the publishers as too long and not very marketable.

Well, they were wrong. After over 200 pages of said useless information and great illustrations, I wanted more. This little book, published by the world’s largest travel guide book company, is entertaining, addictive, funny, downright clever, and has nothing at all to do with travelling anywhere. It will, however, make you a terrific party guest.

After reading this book, you can hold a valuable conversation about how to read those annoying little laundering tags sewn into the seams of your clothes. Careful translation of those mysterious symbols means you – and your dinner companion – will no longer end up with dresses the size of Barbie doll clothes or a load of pink underwear.

After reading this book, you will be able to make dependable weather predictions by looking at cows, impersonate a fitness trainer, explain the art of caber tossing, comment intelligently about climate change, tie a bow line, and meow in a dozen languages.

Imagine how you will charm your boss’s insipid wife with your knowledge of oriental rugs, the handsome man sitting next to your host with how to out-brake a Formula One race car, or the stunning Asian girl with what you know about the essence and grace of a tea ceremony. You will be everyone’s favorite dinner companion.

But let’s not forget the great illustrations. They are bright and clever, clearly drawn and informative. Much like a very good children’s book with a grown-up twist … which makes it a perfect bedtime experience for you and your children. They might like to learn about the possibility of extra-terrestrial life, shooting stars, the best methods for building sand castles, games for long car rides, origami, how to play a bagpipe, meow in several languages, or how to brew beer.

No, that would be you. You might want to brew beer. Or how to pair wines with your meal, make a crepe, or build successful sushi.

In either case, INSTANT EXPERT is a pleasure to own or bring as a gift to that dinner party where you will be scintillating.

No, on second thought, don’t give away your secret.
INSTANT EXPERT is written by Nigel Holmes, who was born in England and made a career in graphic design on both sides of the pond, creating graphics and illustrations for, among others, Apple, Fortune, Nike, The Smithsonian Institution, Sony, United Healthcare, US Airways and Visa. He also continues to create illustrations and graphics for Harper’s, The New York Observer and The New York Times.

He has his own Wikipedia entry which warns readers not to confuse this Nigel Holmes with Nigel Holmes the UK photographer of nudes — or Nigel Howard Holmes, a research scientist specializing in nano-particle coating technology research scientist.

INSTANT EXPERT Nigel Holmes lives in Connecticut with his lovely wife Erin and he always wears round eyeglasses with blue frames. He has twenty

Sometimes winter in New England is nice

Written By: sherridaley - • •

 

Jan 24,, 2015

I woke up with a strange feeling of having missed something. When I opened my eyes, my bedroom was bright and shadowless and the sky was white. Had the sun come up?  Is that what I missed?

At 3:30 in the morning, the sun wasn’t even nearing the horizon. It was the moon that was lighting everything up, making a low cloud cover glow.  Snow had fallen, covering everything with a couple inches of virginal white which softened corners and tree branches and made the shrubs in the garden look like like huge flowers. It was pure Hollywood.

Kimo, the little cat, gets what she wants. She pushes stuff off shelves and the sound of glass shattering would propel me out of bed to let her out. I lost a few bottles of cologne this way until I got smart and kitty-proofed the place, setting only unbreakables where she might reach them. The sound still gets me up because she’s relentless, and I’m pretty sure she’d figure out how to open the kitchen cupboards and shove glasses into the sink.

But this morning, she hadn’t done any damage. She only pushed at the covers till she found me and then stared at the side of face until I opened my eyes so I could share what she had already discovered. The world was beautiful.

Lately, I’ve been a little unhappy, although not unhappy enough to declare myself depressed.  Just disappointed in the way the days go. Not much happening, and when I get home, there’s nothing to do.  Sometimes I even make ridiculous lists of things I could do to fill the hours: take tap dance lessons, learn to weave – you know, get an actual loom – buy a keyboard and play the piano again.  None of this takes place, however.

What I don’t want to do, and it takes a great deal of will power not to do it, is what Mother did the last few years before she died.  She had boxes of old photographs and she emptied them out on the kitchen table and sorted through them for hours. Remembering her girlhood, mostly, before she married dad, before my brother and I came along.  I thought it was the saddest thing I had ever seen, those little piles of black&white photos, some with their edges curling up, reminding Mother that she was once young and pretty and laughing a lot.

I have a photos of my own, of course. Scrapbooks in the attic, and collages of  dozens of happy photos, framed. I used to have them on the wall of my office at home because they made me happy, but finally I took them down and put them in the basement. Those good times were too long ago, and I am not that girl any more. I need new photographs.

We all need new photographs., but when I rolled over this morning – or more accurately at 3:30AM, which frankly, I don’t consider morning – the silent beauty of the snow and the sky was, for the moment, all the photograph I needed. For a quiet moment or two, I wasn’t pressured by a need to do something and take a picture of it. I got up and walked around the house, looking out all the windows, and then I went back to bed.

And I was happy.