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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Silence in a storm



It is coincidence or perhaps, fate that I have been on Martha’s Vineyard for each of the two major snowstorms of this winter season.  What has struck me most is the silence. In the midst of storms that throw snow, and hail, and rain and near gale and hurricane force winds, the inside of my abode is still.  I am snug and cozy inside the walls. There are long stretches of a silence so complete that I do not even hear the storm.  However is that possible? Outside, wind shakes metal signs, windows rattle with the gail, and wet snow gives way to rain that pummels the roof.  Yet, inside,there is a quiet that is oddly comforting.  I can lounge with my laptop on my lap and be so engaged in my thoughts and my interior world that I don’t notice that there is anything but stillness that surrounds me.  It reminds me of when I was a kid and swimming in the pool. My mother would call out, “Dear, it’s time to ....” I would submerge my head under water and I would hear a baffled silence and her voice would not so much recede as --stop--.  Under water sounds like cotton would sound if it made a noise.  Yesterday, I found an unused wind-up clock. I wound the clock and set it across the room from me. I find it oddly reassuring to hear it ticking, ticking, ticking as I worked.  When I set to work today, heavy rain, was pelting the roof, successfully muffling the sound of even cars as they passed by.  Yet, even so, the silence inside the house caught up with me. I glanced about trying to discern what felt amiss. I crossed the room to rewind the clock.  It’s tick-tock was all I needed.  
My son’s filming of  his short film begins in March.  Visit his Facebook page to read more about it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole



Working on the Internet is a little like falling down the Rabbit Hole in Alice In Wonderland.  I am inexperienced and I lack the necessary  knowledge as to how to navigate from place to place using sophisticated tools. I built my blog with the most minimal skills and I am still learning just how underdeveloped it is.  My son has sent me emails to help me learn how to promote my blog, how to improve it visually and how to make money by writing it.  The problem is that I don’t understand the emails!  I am educating myself, slowly, slowly, and with many missteps.  When I am learning, I find a thread and start to follow it. For instance, yesterday I committed myself to learning about Soundcloud.  Wikipedia explained, “SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform which allows collaboration, promotion and distribution of audio recordings. “  I didn’t think of looking up Wikipedia’s explanation until after I had already spent thirty or forty minutes inside the website investigating what it offered.  The web is an intellectual playground, but often I don’t know the games.  
Continually, I uncover more and more of what I do not know.  I see potential but do not know how to access it.
In discussing the considerable opportunities the future holds, 
my friend has urged me to learn how to use the Internet to market myself. 
“Package the whole deal,” she says. "Publish your book online.  Sell your advice.  Market your reflections.  Print dawneliseevans.com tee shirts for one and for all.  I see an empire.  It can by yours. It should be yours. Claim it!”  Her vision of my future included a product line that includes tools for spiritual-reflection, memoir-writing, self-actualization, organizing people’s lives, and organizing people’s stuff.  That’s all. 
Perhaps, just perhaps all of that is possible.  But how to get the whole caboodle off the ground if I can’t keep up with the technology?  
I have to decide if I actually have a marketable commodity.  From there, I need to assess whether some part of the whole might even be financially feasible.  If I am convinced that some, or all of this is possible, perhaps I could hire a navigator?   I wonder if the Rabbit might be available.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mirrored Images


I have taken for granted the reassurance that comes from a daily glance in the mirror.  I have never been a person to spend time daydreaming, critiquing or vamping in front of a mirror. Rather, I practice an efficient use of a mirror. I brush my hair, I apply makeup in five minutes or less.  I make sure my slip is not showing or some other wardrobe malfunction might be problematic.  With the cursory role a mirror plays in my life, I wouldn’t have guessed that I would miss the feeling of being grounded that comes from an occasional reflection of myself. Walking through the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, I saw so many images of myself that I felt fragmented and broken.  In my present surroundings, mirrors are not readily visible.  In the absence of mirrors, I find myself freed from the need to - involuntarilycheck that I am neat, that I am put together.  I have also forgone eyeliner and blush.
For the past four days I have seen my likeness twice, and both times I was surprised.
The first time, just last night, my son, 140 miles away,  asked me to use Facetime on our iPhones.  This feature allows us to talk face-to-face.  Inadvertently, I had the camera turned on myself.  I was flabbergasted by the woman I saw with a deep furrow between her eyes, just noticeably behind her glasses.  The second viewing was this afternoon. I found a small mirror while sorting though some framed pictures and paintings. Slowly, I brought the mirrored glass up to my face.  I was startled by the person looking back at me. She was older, plainer, and mousier than the image I hold of myself. I put the mirror back among the framed pictures and paintings.  I prefer not to be greeted by any more such surprises.  

Career Opportunities

Salvaged Plate

Preserved Heirloom

There are some treasures in this pile.




Over the course of the past few days, I have had the opportunity to try on for size two new professions.  
The first possibility, a professional organizer. I seem to have the native ability to sort through vast quantities of stuff, pluck out the most salvageable and cast off the remainder. I do not find myself immobilized by indecision or doubt as I divide belongings into Sell, Thrift Shop, Dump or Save.  I can do this trick equally well in my own house, my parents’ home, or my friend’s house.  From the pile designated “SAVE,” I then see it tidied and organized.  I drool over the pages of products from The Container Store with the same acumen as I do when I study lingerie catalogues.  I embrace order.  If ever I were to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, it would be by using my somewhat obsessive-compulsive tendencies to help others.  
The second possibility for a career path, should I seek one, might be to work as a researcher in an auction house.  As I helped my friend weed through some of the many pieces of crystal and china she has accumulated from her grandmother’s and parent’s estates, I found I had a knack of using the computer to place the country and year of manufacture. It was but a small jump to estimating its value. I would lose myself in mini-history lessons while clutching a plate or a bowl.  The Antiques Roadshow has nothing over me when I set my mind to it.
In a lifetime that has included forays into biochemical research, cosmetic sales, real estate, financial consulting, banking, training, text-book writing and magazine writing, among others, a spell as an organizer or a research associate would not be much of a departure.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Grandma's Footprint



The Cottage



Grandma's Footprint
Elsie was my grandmother.  Her closest friend in the late 1920’s remained part of her life until she died at age 92.  This friend, Mary, was the mother of Audrey.  Audrey and my mother, Sally, became friends -- even double-dating in high school.  On one such date, my father, Ken, was Audrey’s companion.  The way he tells it, through out the date, he had his heart set on Sally.    After Sally and Ken married, my mother’s very junior sister, Chicki, came to live with them.  After enduring much upheaval in her life, including a broken engagement, my parents urged Chicki to accompany Elsie on a visit to Martha’s Vineyard where Mary owned several homes.  Chicki and Elsie rented a summer place from Mary, then decided to “winter over.”  Elsie worked as a bookkeeper, and my aunt was secretary to the president of one of the two lsland banks.  It was only a matter of time that my mother and her older sister, Jean, came to visit Chicki and Elsie.  With families in tow, my mother and Jean laid out the big money to rent cottages from Mary for two weeks in August, 1963. We visited my aunt and grandmother, went to the beach and began a lifetime love affair with the Vineyard.  My aunt and grandmother returned to New Jersey after their Island adventure, but all of us had left a piece of our hearts there.  The next summer, we returned, we rented the house next to Mary’s on the Martha’s Vineyard Methodist Campground Meeting Association’s property. We did so every summer for the ensuing eight or nine years.  By that time, I had become best-friends with Audrey’s daughter, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth’s family lived about twenty houses away from mine.  There was a dirt road that connected all those homes.  It was well-worn by our barefeet and our bicycles as we shuttled between our homes day after day.  Many nights we closed that distance by having sleep-overs.  We alternated by staying at The Cottage, at Elizabeth’s house or at “Grandma’s” (Mary’s) house.
My parents finally bought The Cottage from Mary in the early 70’s. It is the habit of campground families to name their houses.  Clever names and meaningful homages are usual; i.e. Slice of Heaven.  Our house had been called The Cottage for as far back as any one could remember.  The name stuck.  As cottages went, our’s was the runt of the litter.  On the M.V. Methodist Campgrounds, the houses are typically painted in vibrant pastels with elaborate, hand-scrolled trim-work. Most often two stories, the houses are a patchwork of additions, renovations and accommodations -- all meant to serve ensuing generations of residents. It was no wonder our naming ceremony was short and brief.  It would not have been appropriate to have a colorful epithet for this squat, rather homely, one-story brown dwelling. Built in the early 1920’s, it is devoid of the charm and quaintness for which the Campgrounds are renowned. However, it was home to me.  To make the finances work, The Cottage was rented the six weeks each year.  That was the maximum that was contractually permitted by the strict terms of our lease agreement with the Meeting Association. August was preserved mostly for family stays. During most of our lives, Elizabeth and I could count on seeing each other every August, regardless what the rest of the year may have brought.  We both treasured the time to talk and laugh and dream together.
The time came that first, Elizabeth, then I, were married.  When she became a mother, and not long after, I had a child, too, we shared our joys and frustrations.  No matter what the hustle and bustle of life and our growing families would demand, we found solace on the Vineyard.  It was there that we reconnected.  Our children played on the beach together.  They grew up to share housing when they worked summer jobs during college.  Both Elizabeth and I felt somehow relieved that something so special and so fragile as a friendship forged by Mary and Elsie has been preserved and still finds expression today.
But Time is fleet.  Elsie and Mary are gone. Three of our four parents are deceased.  Our children are nearly grown.  Elizabeth bought, and purchased her grandmother’s house from her estate.  Shortly thereafter began a top to bottom renovation. For all intents and purposes, Elizabeth's house appears rebuilt on the site of Grandma's house.  It looms grand and beautiful next to my father’s house. Though it is structurally sound, The Cottage looks more rustic than ever, by comparison.  My father recently moved in order to live in a place where he can receive better care and services.  As sentimentally attached as I am to The Cottage it doesn’t suit my needs at this point in life.  
With heavy heart, I opened the property description of the For Sale listing of The Cottage online this morning.  Regardless of the complex feelings of loss I was feeling, I had one satisfying consolation.  I was stretched out on Elizabeth’s sofa in what had once been Grandma’s house.  Elizabeth was in the armchair directly across from me.  We were two close friends,  comfortable with where we were in life and secure in the knowledge that we found ourselvesl in Grandma’s footprint.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

“Man makes plans, God laughs.” proverb




I woke up filled with excitement.  Today, at last, I was heading to Martha’s Vineyard  to get my fix of salt air, white-capped seas and expanses of untouched sand.  
My son was sick.  This meant a consultation about whether he should go to school, to the doctor, to his art show.  After reaching a compromise, (1/2 day of school, call to the doctor and the art show was mandatory), my son asked for my help in structuring his bio.  The very curriculum vitae that would circulate for job searches, fundraising for films and other money-making ventures.  We worked on it for an hour and a half before it was fine-tuned to our satisfaction.  That was time I had set aside to pay bills before my ride came.  I picked up the pace a little bit.  As I tried to drag my suitcase to the door, I noticed it was unusually resistant.  I noticed the wheel was not turning on one side.  Light bulb!  W-D 40 is what is called for in this kind of situation.  Numerous aggressive squirts did not improve the wheel’s functioning.  I quickly switched all of my belongings to another, slightly smaller suitcase. As I was congratulating myself of my fine packing skills, I noticed the telltale signs of mold growing on the bottom of the suitcase.  The dampness from the basement floor had caused the invasive mold to form. I sent my son to the basement to retrieve MOLD CONTROL.  It is a product that works like a charm to remove mold from both solids and fabrics.  A good rub-down and my bag was mold-free.  
Shortly thereafter, a friend arrived to escort me to my sister’s house.  She and her husband offered me a ride in the van they rented to bring some beds to a rental property.
Prior to arriving at my sister’s house, I had arranged a visit with my father at the Soldier’s Home.  It was curtailed because he was feeling under the weather.  This figure of speech was not just figurative, it was pouring down rain.  My friend and I retreated, regrouped and headed to my sister’s house where the next leg of journey began. I was a little damper and slightly tired.
My sister and I drove about twenty minutes in order to rendezvous with her husband at his place of business.  It was about half way there that my sister mentioned that Jim had difficulty fitting the beds in and I might have to lie on the floor of the van.  Optimally, when I travel, I avoid sitting vertically. Somewhere shy of a 40 degree angle is most comfortable for my joints.  Horizontal is ideal.  I would not object to lying down, it was the thought of lying directly on the metal floor of the van that brought tears to my eyes. 
My sister realized I was upset (actually, I could feel myself hyperventilating), but I said let’s just wait and see what‘s what.    What’s what was worse than I imagined.  There was a about a twenty-four to thirty inch space just behind the driver’s and passenger’s seat.  My brother-in-law had lain down pillows.  
I had just been to the hospital twice over the past week for a joint injury.  The sight of that hidey-hole brought feelings of claustrophobia and real concern about how I might whether a three-hour trip, including a 45 minute ferry ride. I weighed my options.  I was loathe to forgo my trip to the Island, and this was it, my one and only shot for a ride. 
I hemmed and hawed for what seemed like minutes while we stood in the rain.  Then, snap, decision made, I said, “I’ll do it.”  When my brother-in-law suggested that I ”Jump right up,” I fixed my most terrifying gaze upon him. I haven’t jumped in years, I was unlikely to begin today.  The whole, long, uncomfortable ride, I kept my sights fixed on seeing my friend and taking a hot bath when we got settled.  She was there to greet me.  
Her home, a winterized cottage on the Methodist Campgrounds, was beautiful.  A friend of her’s was there to do some work on the bathroom.  He did some last minute adjustments, then she ran a bath for me.  The two of them headed into town for a glass of wine and I prepared to soak in the hot bath I had held so dear on my trip.  In short order I discovered there was only lukewarm water.  It would have felt good on a hot summer day.  On this damp, raw, rainy night, my sore and aching body could not tolerate the chill of it.  I never settled into the tub, rather, I wrapped myself in a towel, then dried off.  I was deeply grateful for my warm pajamas and fuzzy socks.  
The things I must remember,
  1. Life is bound to follow its own course at times.
  2. I am fortunate that I can see the humor in the entire debacle of a day. 
  3. The greatest plans are no better than our ability to adapt to changes in them.
4.  It pays to bring your own pillow when you travel.
  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Life's Little Gems


Designed and made by K. Akimoto


Life rarely allows me to wallow too long in self-pity.  Instead, an event or
a small occurrence happens along the way and manages to remind me of the multitudinous blessings that are manifest in my life.  Perhaps it is the the greatest of these are the congregation of people who willingly share
their gifts and their lives with me.  Together, we find our way.  
I was reminded of this today when a friend stopped by to see me.  She had mentioned that she might come by, but our plans had not been confirmed.  When she called to say she was on the way over, she asked if I needed anything.  I thanked her and said, “No, I am all set.”  However, she did as she saw fit and arrived with wine, chocolate cookies, an apple pie, and a tincture to treat pain.  From that list, it should be obvious that she knows my needs and tastes well.
We sat down to chat and,  for most of her visit, I found my eyes drifting from her face to her ears.  From each ear, an exquisite hand-wrought gold earring danced and shimmied.  There was a central stone the hung like a small pendulum inside a cage.  Below that were petite gemstones that added just the slightest of rotation to the earring.  The earrings together gave the impression of movement even when her head was still.  
What delighted me even more was that, when I complimented her on her jewelry selection, she disclosed she made the earring herself in a class she was taking. I was simply bowed that she had such a native ability to design and make jewelry.  We started looking though catalogs and she showed me pieces that inspired her work.  I showed her a piece I had considered ordering but it was $500 more than my $35 budget.  She promptly said, “I can make you one!”  A few quickly exchanged words about the details of length and materials and she moved onto another topic.  My mind was working the entire time and I confess I did not attend to our discussion properly.  I interjected, “Wait, I want to show you something.” 
I disappeared for a minute and returned with a beaded necklace in my hand.  “”A friend made this for me about seven years ago and it has gone everywhere with me. She just randomly came up to me and said that she knew I was having a hard time and that she wanted me to have something to brighten my day.  This necklace has gone with me to France and to Canada.  I have taken it to the Caribbean, to New York, to my surgeries and out to dinner in Northampton, MA..  It symbolizes love to me.  It reminds me that I am surrounded by numerous people that care about me, people who may not step forward until such time as they believe I need a nudge, a wink, a nod or a hug from them.  
When my friend offered to make me a necklace today, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that she is in my life. Further, I was struck by the fact that, once again, it took a simple piece of hand-made jewelry to remind me of just how blessed I am.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Clotpoles and other such things



Tonight, my seventeen-year old son told me that he heard that “consistency is the key to success” on youTube.  This small piece of advice was meant as encouragement when I had to tear myself away from a frenzied search for a pair of Puma Dress Shoes in order to write my blog.  In the interest of reducing the risk of a run on this style of Pumas, I must withhold the name lest there is a sudden, crushing demand for this pair of shoes I cover because they are cute and offer sneaker-like comfort.  I should have ordered a full size larger as at least 65 of 73 reviewers suggested.  I only went up half a size.  The pair I received is slightly too small and now Nordstrom (a shining star of a department store) is sold out of the size I need.  I so love these shoes that I want to toss aside all of my other responsibilities so that I can hunt for a pair of these shoes in my size.  I can not remember a time in the past five years that I have been so utterly thrilled the look and (almost) feel of a pair of shoes. 
In the back of my mind is the voice of my son urging me not to let “my public” down.  He pointed out that I have led my readers to expect a product and it simply wouldn’t be fair not to deliver it.  The boy has the makings of a great salesman.   This morning he shared with me that there is a word in the English language that can be used to create a seven-word sentence....and it is the only word in the sentence!  For those of you who are drawn to word puzzles as I am, it is 
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

The evening, he introduced me to an Old English sentence generator that is raucously
humorous. It consists of three column of words. By selecting a word or phrase from each column you can become as creatively expressive as Shakespeare.
Thou droning full-gorged clotpole!
I find that I am completely off-kilter between shoes, buffalos, clotpoles (refers to a person who has limited intellectual capacity and resembles male genitalia). But I do know that the road to success has guardrails of consistency.  With that in mind, I have written my blog.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Tao of Film-watching



I am working hard to see opportunity in the face of adversity.  It seems like life flings challenges my way with the recklessness of a novice hockey player hoping to score. 
I am sitting on the sidelines a little bit more than usual this week.  A silly and inexplicable injury has left me hugging ice and on crutches.  The crutches thing has grown old quickly.  When I tried to soldier on without them, I knew I was doing myself more harm than I intended when I almost toppled down two steps.  With reluctance, I am consigned to my fate.
I always told myself that if I found myself with a break in my “schedule”, I would spend it writing,  organizing files, doing needlepoint, cataloging photographs and catching up on reading.  These are tasks that are both satisfying and constructive. I concede my normal schedule consists of a variant of many of the those chores; the difference in circumstance is that, on a typical day, my actions are self-directed; whereas, today I am motivated by exterior factors.
So, on crutches, with a break in my typical schedule, I am surprising myself.  I am surrendering to make-believe.  I am watching movie after movie after movie.  The American, The Dilemma, Rear Window, The Town, The Trouble With Harry.  Is there a trend evident?  Not in the least, French, Swedish, English or German, whatever strikes my mood and is available on the movie channels, Netflix, iTunes or youTube, that’s what I am watching. I would like to think that my days watching both senseless and profound films are numbered. When I take a break from the blue glow of the screen, my book of meditations reminds me to stay in the moment and breathe. However, if I have learned anything from watching these films and reading my meditations, it is to take life as it comes.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Relief through Cinnamon Buns


There are some things that deserve few words.
One of them is the scent of fresh cinnamon buns -- hot out of the oven.  I have had a deep connection with cinnamon buns since I was a small child.  The best part is getting to the center of the bun, where the fluffy, sweet, bite of heaven lies in wait. 
I am particularly delighted when the cinnamon buns come out of my oven.  As these did.

I wish you could take a bite.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dawn's Fairy Tales


Hans Christian Anderson and The Grimm Brothers bore a favored spot upon my bookshelf when i was growing up.  I preferred the tales of Hans Christian Andersen, they were more romantic, less violent, and their messages seemed - somehow - more palatable.  My favorite of his was Snowdrop.  It never fails to bring tears to my eyes because of its familiar, unchanging message of hope.  On the other hand, in the 1800‘s, the Grimm Brothers took famous German folktales, repackaged them, and gave the public Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel and over 100 more.  These fairy tales have enjoyed a long history.  Today, I heard that very few parents read the Grimm tales because of their sinister and sometimes terrifying nuances. Parents do not want to frighten their children.  Yet, I can’t help but wonder if some of the valuable messages that these tales carry might be lost if the tales are not handed down.
My mother was a strong devotee of afternoon naps.  It was her habit to send my sister and me for afternoon naps all the way through grade school.  It was off to bed for us whenever she deemed that we were overtired (as evidenced by a sassy attitude) or if we had big plans for the evening (an 8pm choir performance or a sleepover at a friend’s house).  She allowed that nap time could be spent reading or sleeping.  It was these nap periods that allowed me to become so closely familiar with the tales of the Grimms and others.  By sixth grade, I rarely read the books, but I had dissected the tales so I knew what it took to tell a good fairy tale. The heroine, the dilemma, the proptagonist, the evil element that stood in the way of the heroine’s happiness, the clever solution, the summary truth, in case you missed what happened.  
It wasn’t until I was in college when someone mentioned that she was taking a course in Fairy Tales for English that I realized there was an entire study pertaining to these tales.  
My basic understanding of the plot served one important function in my adulthood. 
When my children were little, one of the most common night time cries was, “Tell me a story.”  They cherished the stories in which they were featured as the heroines.  Following a template that was laid down for me over 200 years ago, I knew what to do.
1 .The familiar words to begin the tale (and end it).  Once upon a time...
                                                                    Then, later, And they lived happily ever after.
2. The protagonist who is on a quest of some sort
3.  The antagonist - who can take almost any form- that impedes our hero's efforts.
4. Royalty and wealth versus poverty are generally represented.
5.  Elements of magic.  Anything is possible due to enchanted features. 
6.  A tip: repeat a number, an element or a phrase to draw the tale together.
7.  A Lesson learned. There is usually a universal truth that reflects the best values in humanity.                                                                     

 I bequeathed my daughters with mystical powers, gloves that granted healing, shoes that could carry them wherever they chose to go, and hats that granted them infinite vision.  My fairy tales used the template I learned so well during my afternoon naps so many, many years ago.  
I reflected upon all of this today because it occurred to me that my life might well be rewritten as an instructive fairy tale.  It has the necessary elements: love, loss and a journey filled with unexpected obstacles.  The power of universal truths will assure a happy ending, of this I am quite sure.  
Ultimately, I am quite certain of the conclusion....
They lived happily, ever after.... 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gift of the Web


My children are responsible for vaulting me into the twenty-first century.  The easiest measure, by far, is the manner in which they have dragged me into a state of computer literacy.  I have each of them to thank for one aspect of what has become my daily foray onto the world wide web.  
To Hannah: I thank for introducing me to http://pinterest.com.  The site is self-described as “an online pinboard. Organize and share things you love.”  I took to it like a fish to water.  On the the top of my screen are the words “PIN IT.”  With great consistency, I use that option to pluck and pin all manner of things to one of my various pinboards.  
  • Places I’d Like to Go
  • Books Worth Reading
  • Clothes to love
  • Family Ideas
  • Favorite Places and Spaces
  • Food I love
  • For the Home
  • Hand Crafts
  • Love
  • Photography
  • Spirituality
  • Things that make me smile.

I have to remember to pin her picture to Things that make me smile.
To Kay:  I thank for telling me about http://www.shopittome.com/.  Every day, I receive a compendium of sales on apparel from designers and stores that I like to frequent.  Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Brooks Brothers and others send me their very best products at discounted prices.  I enjoy scanning the choices, and, on rare occasions, I part with my money to make a purchase. Shop It To Me is as close as I can imagine coming to window-shopping each day.  It is like strolling down Fifth Avenue though Fifth Avenue is 200 miles away.
To Charles:  I thank you for bringing the wonder of http://www.youtube.com/ to my world. Through Youtube, I have found answers to most of the questions I can summon pertaining to cooking, photography and wine.  I have laughed, I have cried and I have marveled at what I have seen.  And I have joined you in the relentless search for great talent.
YouTube jettisoned you on your career and I suspect will provide you with the medium to express yourself.  
The Internet is an information superhighway.  I am fortunate to have three children who can read, and translate, all of the signs for me. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Magazineland


I have to confess that there are times in life that I find myself overly susceptible to the influence of magazines.  Those headlines scream at me like sirens calling sailors to the rocks. I want to be beautiful! I want to save money!  I want to be organized! I want amazing shoes,sparkly colors, a mini-makeover.  I want to look sexy for less.  The clothes, recipes and advice all seem specifically gauged for me.  I can catch up on best-selling books, new music and the personal life of film icons whose lives have never been of interest to me.  Thanks to the interests and pursuits of my daughters, names that once had no meaning to me, now spring off the pages.  Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Armani,  Salvatore Ferragamo, Donna Karan, these are the stars. They gather in a constellation on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées Champs, on Fifth Avenue and in the pages of my magazines. Generally, my affinity for glossy covers and screaming promises of youth and beauty surfaces after surgeries and grave illnesses.  However, today, I have turned to them for no other reason than I want light diversion.  I can not seem to summon it in any other way.  So, next time you see me, you may notice that I look younger, renewed, relaxed and, well......fabulous.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Make a New Ending


There are many layers that make us whole.

Maria Robinson, an up and coming author, wrote, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
This is a quote I happened to find when I was exploring www.StumbleUpon,com  this afternoon. I found a blog that was a literary version of the tablespoon of castor oil that my grandmother used to insist I take whenever I was coming down with a cold.  I had no more than fifty words and I knew despite the ease in my mouth, it was good for me. Marc, the author of this blog, has packaged self-help tips for every aspect of life.  Further, he has carefully enumerated the hints in list after list.  
Here is a partial list of “hot posts”:
I admit it.  I am a sucker for these kinds of straight-forward advice columns.  I have even written a few myself.  When I started to dig through the thirty things I had better start doing for myself, I felt energized and ready to tackle all my bad habits and misguided behaviors.  What I did learn, however, is that if you read too many of these lists consecutively, it becomes impossible to keep straight which behavior will evoke what response.  In other words, you are likely to suffer information overload if you take that tack.  Pick one topic that floats your boat and GO FOR IT.  
Four EASY Steps to Bring About Change in Your Life
                          1, Read a well-written essay pertaining to the behavior you hope to change.
                          2,  Print the essay, then place it in visible places to remind you of your goals,
                           3.   Let your circle of friends know of your intention to change so they can        support  your efforts,
                 4.   The most important part -- Do the work....begin to take daily steps toward the change you desire to see in your life.   (Be the change you want to see in the world.   Ghandi) Once you do that, you will be on your way! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Memory Lane





I was going through photo albums between 1992 and 1996 looking for pictures of a visit my aunt and uncle made to our house.  They arrived late one summer, riding high in their RV.  We were a stop on their itinerary as my uncle headed back to his college for a reunion.  I can remember the excited and incredulous looks on my young daughters’ faces when they discovered that there was a house with wheels sitting in our driveway.
The girls were about four and five at the time.  My son was either an infant, or had not arrived. I wanted to offer my cousins a photograph of that visit for the collage they were preparing for their mother’s memorial service.  I was disappointed that I was unable to locate it. The memory remains so fresh in my mind.
Flipping through the albums brought an unexpected consolation, however.  The photo albums transported me back to a time that was packed with memorable moments.  There were birthdays, lots and lots of birthdays. I studied the pictures of all of the firsts - the first time riding a bicycle, the first sled ride, the first day of school, the first time holding the new baby in our family.  I found tears streaming down my face as I saw glimpses of loved ones who are now departed.  Though the photos were one dimensional and lay trapped in the pages of an album, each one played like a mini-film in my imagination.  My two-year old son posed in his sister’s pink tutu, for instance.  I could practically see the struggle that took place getting Charles into it.  He did not object, but the garment was so unfamiliar to him, he couldn’t follow his sisters’ instructions.  There was a visit to Florida to see my grandparents.  The photographs don’t suggest that both girls had 104 degree fevers due to double ear infections!  The treasured takeaway from that visit was a photo op shot on their great-grandfather’s knees.  It was not long before he handed the girls back to me rather than risk being exposed to their infections.  As I studied my children’s minute facial expressions, I reflected that I could never have guessed to what extent they would evolve as individuals. From such seeds great oaks are born.
 I could never have guessed at the tidal wave of life that was coming my way. Knowing what I know now, would I have changed anything?  I think not. The most pronounced emotion I could describe while I was thumbing through the past was delight -- no, unadulterated joy -- to have been part of this family.  I was thrilled to be transported to a different period on the continuum of my life.  I was reminded of the part I have played in raising our children and creating their home lives.  The past is giving way to a new era.  I will move forward with open arms.  However, I have a touchstone to my memories.    Should I choose, I can simply open an album and step into the past.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bulgari Green Tea Soap and the yacht "the Paraffin"



St. Barth's 2009

The Paraffin 




The fragrance of Bulgari Green Tea perfume transports me.  It is the scent that I associate with the Caribbean, with indulgent pleasures, with pampered care on the high seas and with friendship.  My friends once owned a 200-foot yacht named the Paraffin. At the time, it was the largest vessel of its type in the world.   It was a gem of the seas.  I was fortunate enough to join my friends on two sea-going adventures on the Paraffin - both in the West indies.  When I boarded the vessel, off came the shoes.  Everyone put their shoes in a basket before taking another step.  When the doors of the main salon slid swished open automatically, I was greeted with a scent that was, at once, fresh, clean, and slightly sensual. It wasn’t until I was shown my cabin that I discovered the source of the scent was the soap.  Bulgari bath products were provided in every bathroom. At one point, my ten-year old son was doused in two bottles of Bulgari shampoo and bath gel;  he was lathered into a luxurious foam by three other kids (including his two sisters) because they said he smelled of “boy.”  When they were done with him, he smelled like Bulgari Eau Parfumee.
According to Fragrancex.com, Bvlgari Eau Parfumee (green tea) Perfume was launched by Bvlgari in 1997.  It is a refined, oriental fragrance. It is considered a unisex fragrance that possesses a blend of Bulgari's first fragrance, extracts of green tea blended with jasmine, rose and citrus.  It is a scent I find irresistible. 
My office smells like Bulgari.  I am joyfully settled in a miasma of Bulgari because of my friend’s generosity. She may have sold the boat, but I still have my memories, and I still have Bulgari Green Tea soaps, that she provided.  Six oval shaped bars of soap bring me the fragrance of luxury, the vision of the blue Caribbean sea and memories of opulent pleasure shared with friends. I marvel how a  simple bowl of soaps can give me the world.

For information about the Paraffin:

Monday, February 13, 2012

How to Boil an Egg and Other Challenges


At the end of the summer, I made some plans for the upcoming academic year.  
I intended to start a daily blog.  
I wanted to improve my verbal French - with a summer trip to France as my ultimate goal.
I wanted to take piano lessons.
I wanted to get stronger by doing regular physical therapy.
I am just about at the half-way point I realized today.  It was interesting to pause and reflect.  
I did start A New Dawn and continue to hone my writing skills on a generous and patient audience.
I bought Pimsleur’s Approach to French.  I have my I-tunes radio station tuned to www.love-radio.fr.  Today presented a particularly exciting moment when I realized that the background discussion of songs (most of which are American performers) was in French.  Out of nowhere, instead of understanding every third word out of ten, I understood what was being said!  Easily!  Sacre Bleu!
I began to take piano lessons.  My time being seated is limited. However, I have developed my own method of practicing piano -- either standing or sitting on a big exercise ball. (Bonus: my balance wh!le sitting on the ball and playing the pedal requires extra ab work so as not to roll away1)
I try to walk most days and I work on building my core and hip muscles. My new hips are beginning to seem like mine.
When I reflect back on these small accomplishments, I feel a measure of pride.  I am still learning.  I am still engaged in life.  The proof positive occurred this evening when I attempted to learn a new way to boil eggs. I enjoyed great success.



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gravity


I have been told that I have too much time on my hands and/or that I think too much for my own good. There have been long stretches of solitary spells during my lifetime, spells I would much have rather been out painting the town.  Since that was not a viable option, I put to work my most valuable asset, my brain.  My brain likes to consider, to turn things upside down and inside out.  It allows me to dance in a ballgown with my handsome prince though I may never have left my room.  It allows me to feel the shallow breaths of thin air as I drink in the view from the top of the Rockies while never departing my chair.  This facility of thought allows me flexibility in the conclusions I sometimes draw based on the evidence I have on hand. These moves of mental gymnastics grant me the ability to put forth theories and out-of-the-box ideas that may seem striking or odd.  They may seem ridiculous, true.  However, perhaps equally true, is that -- occasionally -- I strike a resonant nerve when I dare to put forth a here-to-for overlooked conclusion.  
My most recent of notions relates to the aging process. I believe we may be overlooking the extent to which gravity can be used to gauge age.  After being in the presence of a group of young adults recently, I noticed the tone of their skin, the perkiness of the young women’s tight physiques and the remarkable strength that was resident in the young men’s upper torsos.  In particular, I witnessed the work of Victoria’s Secret Bombshell Bra on the bust and decolletage of a scantily clad twenty-one year old woman.  An adjunct to the perspective that everything about the young women was oriented UP (including six inch stilletos lifting her higher) was the realization that the same might be said of the young men’s stalwart reproductive equipment during moments of intimacy.  At the same social engagement, there were sufficient middle-aged adults to warrant a superficial comparison.  As a lot (myself included, of course), gravity has set to work on jowls, buttocks, thighs and breasts. The male variety of our species suffers equally from the effects of gravity.  If not, why Viagra?  I was not drinking, but I noticed that if I squinted and looked at the forty and fifty year olds, our faces seem a bit like wax, just beginning to melt. I made particular note of the most aged among us, those over seventy and eighty.  As a bunch, they seemed the most comfortable in their skin.  However, I could not stop myself from thinking that death represents gravity’s victory over us.  A burial or a cremation returns us to ground zero.  
The take-away from this wild rumination was ---drumroll, please --  take care of ourselves. Give a nod of awareness to gravity, it will go to work regardless of our most valiant of efforts.  The best approach to life is to enjoy it at any altitude.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

My World is Blue......Part 2




It was my brave attempt to be contemporary that created the problem.  I wanted to be au courant alongside younger, prettier, and fancier women than I for a formal dinner party.  It seemed like a terrific idea at the time.  I did not have the time nor the inclination to get my hair done and to arrange a manicure.  That having been said, it does not mean that I did not want to look lovely.  In a move that I later regretted, I opted to go BLUE.  My daughter gave me a nail polish manufactured for Sephora.  It was the blue of the Adriatic Ocean(as I imagine it, at least).  
I did my whole nail routine -- shape, file, remove cuticles etc.. Then, with the small brush that came with the bottle, I applied not one, but two coats of blue.  It looked smashing, I was told.  In fact, at dinner we joked that I was a virgin to blue nails and what a memorable night it was for me.  
It was memorable.  The nail polish had staying power, I can say that.  It hardly chipped and after one week, I decided to take it off because I was tired of it, more than it no longer looking fresh.  I used an acetone-free nail polish remover to do the job.  Almost immediately, I recognized that there was going to be a problem.  After removing the blue nail polish, my nails remained blue. It was as if they absorbed the pigment.  Think back to seventh grade science when you may have put celery in a cup of water colored with blue food dye.  When you returned the next day, TA DA, the celery was blue. My nails were the color of a cadaver’s nails that I saw once.  No worries, I tried alcohol, Goo-gone, and yet more nail polish remover. All to no effect.  Then, I thought I must need an abrasive, so I went for a good quality foot scrub.  Maybe something was happening?  Maybe. By then, my fingers and nails were so dried out from the chemicals, I applied nail oil.  Now my nails glistened in blue.  Then a light went off in my head. I dug through my drawer to locate a special emery board I recently purchased.  It is designed to buff and polish fingernails. My rationale was that I might achieve success if I could remove the top layer of the nails.  Success!  It was a slow-moving process.  It took about twenty minutes of sanding and buffing to lift off the blue.  When I removed 95% of the blue, I stopped.  I didn’t want to weaken my nails by abrading too many layers.  
Pink...at last.
It was as I was looking at the slight pink hue of my fingernails returning to normal that I flashed back on the incident when Scooter, our dog, ran under a rain of blue clothing dye.  http://dawnings-anewdawn.blogspot.com/2012/02/my-world-is-blue-part-1.html   All of our best efforts were not successful in returning him to his pristine white color.  It was when I was giving him his third bath in a week that I discovered that his skin has actually been dyed blue as well.  Apparently, there are some things that only time can cure.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My World is Blue -- part 1


Frank Sinatra performed
Blue, blue, my world is blue
Blue is my world since I'm without you
Gray, gray, my life is gray
Cold is my heart since you went away
 authored by Popp and Cour
In February, 2006, my dog, a white Labradoodle puppy, was doused in blue dye; you can recreate the exact color by using #450 Blue on the Rit Color guide.  My daughter intended to tie-dye ten pairs of sports socks for her middle-school basketball team.  Unfortunately, one of her friends chose to toss out the water containing the dye at precisely the instant my husband let the dog outside.  The two doors that my husband and my daughter’s friend used are separated by forty feet and a hill, but the dog covered that distance lickety-split.  I can replay the moment in slow-motion.  The blue dye liquid soared about six feet into the air, appearing in deep contrast to the white snow.  Simultaneously, my exuberant, white, dog bounded downhill.  The Labradoodle puppy passed under the fountain of blue.  Gravity doing its work, pulled the blue dye toward the ground.  The dog simply interrupted the dye’s trajectory. At the ensuing sounds of dismay and distress, the puppy became more excited.  He was ill-behaved as if he had never been trained.  He ran leapt and jumped in circles around everyone, leaving a blue trail in his wake. Two washings did little to alter his new blue coat.  However, the dye finally “set” and didn’t rub off on walls, furniture and clothing.  For about two months, the dog glowed -- in a nearly electric blue.    There were tears and recriminations and emotional distress in the hours immediately after.   It took a couple of days for the brouhaha to settle down.  It took a couple of years for us all to laugh at the blue dye debacle.   
Part 2 of The World is Blue will follow tomorrow.