Featured Post

The Autumnal Equinox

                                           Last rose petals linger....                                                               ...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Musical Beds and the Art of Translocation

Edgartown Lighthouse calls me home.
Bed A
Bed B

     I have become expert at the art of Translocation.  For those unfamiliar with the term when it does not relate to plant physiology or cellular transportation, I am using it to describe a life style.  In particular, it is the manner in which I have divided my time between Martha’s Vineyard and western Massachusetts over the past two years.  Before I started the homestead shuffle, It used to be a trip of five hours from door to door.  Now, life has wrought changes on my health and stamina.  With bus, boat, and cab, it takes me about 24 hours. From Northampton, MA. I take a detour through Providence, RI to visit my daughter. It breaks up the trip for me and gives me time - usually twice each month -- to spend with her. Sometimes, my husband offers me a ride or picks me up from Rhode Island, granting me a lovely two hour car ride with him.
     While our new home is being built on Martha’s Vineyard, I have had friends and family extend kindness and their spaces to me.  This is an example of generously shared domiciles.  On Martha’s Vineyard, I have been a regular visitor at Grandma’s Wizdom, the Oak House, and the Madeiras compound.  I have slogged through blizzards, hurricanes, Nor’Easters and weather both fair and mild.  I have dealt with mud, dust, piles of sand, lazy skunks and aggressive seagulls who attacked me after I unknowingly spread my towel on someone’s discarded potato chips.  

This seagull pecked my head while I was reading.

     Symptoms of my displacement syndrome arise unexpectedly. Yesterday, I went to the Post Office in western Mass, I was excited to see a brown, box and a magazine bundled for me behind the counter. How did I know they were for me? I saw my box number inscribed in large four inch numerals on the side. I waited expectantly for the Postmaster to hand over my parcels.  I could feel my brow wrinkle in consternation when no packages were forthcoming over the counter at the window. Why wasn’t he handing me my package? Suddenly, I realized my mistake.  I laughed and told the Postmaster while I had looked so fiercely concerned. The tempting package was labeled with the box number of the box I keep on Martha’s Vineyard, not with the western Mass address. Palm to forehead, BAM.

    Cooking is another area that exposes my sense of confusion about where I live and where things are kept. I rush to a cupboard to grab a cutting board, and instead, find bowls.  I open the pantry door to the right of the stove looking for glasses, I find spices. I open the cabinet where I keep my Nutritional Medicine Mint Tea and see canned goods, instead. It’s like being so engrossed in a conversation at the dinner table that you reach for your glass of wine without looking. You tilt it back, unconsciously preparing yourself for the acidic tang and cherry-vanilla of the wine you have been drinking all evening, and, instead, swill down milk. It is jarring when things are not as you expect them.

     Another small twist that sometimes confounds me is that there are similarities, inescapable congruencies, between locales.  Take gazebos.  In my westerly hometown, tucked behind the library, there is a landmark; a beautiful gazebo inviting readers and brides to spend some time therein.  Another one, though slightly larger, is placed alongside the library in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. A grand gazebo, sitting atop of a brick pedestal is placed in regal splendor in the center of Owen Park, a favorite gathering place for flying kites, summer concerts and many picnics courted seaside.  In Vineyard Haven, adjacent to the ferry landing, there is a small gazebo.  It seems little used, but its presence is a nod to a gracious history and is much appreciated aesthetically.  For the span of half of a blink, I confuse these four edifices. My reaction is something like, “Old friend, and what are you doing here?” This conundrum might be grouped with my surprise, upon awakening, to be greeted with shadows and light that do not quite coincide with where I thought I was when I went to sleep. It can be startling to see "objets" of an unanticipated nature. I have finally arrived at the truth. Gazebos and windows and shadows and walls are exactly where they are meant to be. It is I that is moving. Make that both the sun and me.

Owen Park, Oak Bluffs

Gazebo, western MA

Oak House morning
Morning in w. MA

Along with the generosity of room accommodations, my family and friends have shared the use of their cars. Why, in the past three weeks, I have had use of five cars: my daughter’s, my husband’s cousin’s, my friend’s husband’s, my husband’s and my own.  It is all well and good until I go to fill the gas tank. I never know which side to choose.  It was my son, a source I would have, heretofore, considered unlikely, that taught me there is a symbol decoding the placement of the gas tank stamped on every car’s gas gauge. There might be an arrow, an icon of a gas pump, maybe even just the way the pump nozzle is pointing on the gauge, but there will be a clue.  If only I had known this the 40 plus years I have been driving, I would have avoided a lot of backing up and rearranging pump-side at the gas station! 
Lexus, pump on RIGHT see pump handle

Mercedes, pump on Right - little arrow
     I forgive myself all of these small missteps as only a natural outcropping of evolution. They are the honest results of my trying to adjust to an ever-changing environment. The biggest surprise occurred two nights ago.  I dosed off while reading a book. I heard the sound of the fog-horn. As I found my way back to consciousness, I reflected that it must be foggy. I did what I always do when I hear the fog-horn, I say a silent prayer for all mariners that they find their way safely home. My eyes were still shut when my phone vibrated, signaling a message.  I groped with my left hand, disturbing things on my night stand until I found my glasses. Only when I had my glasses on did I open my eyes.  I was absolutely flummoxed. All that time, I believed I was in my little bedroom that my best friend built for me in her house. Instead, somehow, I found myself in my marital master bedroom --120 miles away.  As I tried to resolve this discrepancy, the fog horn blasted again. Except, I realized it wasn’t the fog horn, it was a train whistle singing out its' warning from a nearby track.
Oak Bluffs Fog Horn in Harbor

Northampton Train Track in w. MA

    As enormously grateful as I am that I have had friends and family open their doors to me while I live one foot in the water and the other in the mountains, I know the time is growing clear that I need my own space.  I spend a good chunk of the day living in the footprint of other people’s lives.  It is drawing near time for me to reclaim my own life.  To that end, I spent a lot of time compiling an email to the builder, surveyor and attorney who are helping me with the logistics of putting up the Vineyard house. I do not want to lose momentum on that project. What is more important, and very thrilling, is the prospect that I am writing the pages in the next chapter of my life. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Observer Effect

Quantum physics are at work here.

There was an unexpected outcome of having written my blog daily for over a year; I grew attached to my readers.  Over the recent hiatus I have taken from writing my blog, I discovered that, somehow, during the rigorous process of generating new topics to discuss from day to day, I created a single, coherent character to whom I was writing.  Apparently, out of the 17,400 or so readers that touched down on A New Dawn, I created a Frankenstein of literary lineage.  I ascribed personality, intellectual curiosity and humor to this imaginary composite representation of my readers.  I find myself missing the pseudo-companionship of this cyber-world friend.  Writing my blog caused me to observe life, with all of its labyrinthine twists, freshly, with a newly-acquired journalistic awareness. I developed the habit of mindfulness.  I constantly reflected upon what I could strip from my life experiences to share with my imaginary friend. It became a habit to unearth material to bring back to my readers.  Like a dog digging up his bone, I dug through the detritus of everyday living for the brightest, most titillating and most relevant observations I could find.  As it turned out, I bumped up against stories to share with my hungry Frankenstein simply by going through life. 

All of this crystalized for me yesterday while waiting for service in an Apple Store in the Providence Place Mall.  When I say the store was crowded, I mean that, at one point, one of the welcoming minions, speaking into his headset just loudly enough for me to hear, announced that the store was at capacity.  No more comers until they moved some of the guests out those doors.  How often does that happen?  However, it quickly became apparent to me that the majority of the guests were not happy campers. Their phones, iPads and laptops were not working properly.  Of the fifteen or so Apple store employees that I counted, only four seemed to be dedicated to educating or selling. The rest were cattle movers or problem-solvers.  There were additional hands “outback” doing quick and easy on-site repairs.  
For over a week, my MacBook Pro has had a recalcitrant and unwilling track pad. This creates a level of frustration that I can barely express.  It took me over 1 1/2 hours to shut down my computer because I couldn’t get the curser to move onto the correct button.  I took it into the shop on Martha’s Vineyard (not an Apple store). I couldn’t reproduce the problem. They urged me to take it off Island because my laptop is less than two months old. I have since learned that the curser issue occurs only when the machine is warm -- say, been used for four or five hours. Let it cool down, the curser works. I have six or seven videos to document the problem at this point.  I tried to make an appointment on Thursday for a visit on Saturday. No appointments available. When I came to Providence, I called the store. I was the fifth caller on hold at 10:08 am Saturday morning. When I finally got through to a human, an employee listened to my tale of woe and said, “Come on down.  Bring your laptop.”  I was there in thirty minutes.  
From 11:00 to 12:00, I waited quietly.  I watched.  I borrowed one of the children’s seating balls to take the weight off my legs from time to time. Since I avoid sitting, the wait seemed interminable.  After an hour, I politely asked the Concierge when my turn was among the table of eight hoping to be “squeezed in” without a formal appointment. Funny, apparently, simply by asking, I was next...  His comment when he told me someone would be right over, though intended to be sincere and explanatory, made my tablemate and me laugh until our eyes watered.  He said, “It’s a bad day, we are down personnel. Unfortunately, we are missing five geniuses today.”  Because I am not fully conversant in Apple-ese, this was, on face value, a comical statement. Upon reflection, I did understand that he was telling me that five service technicians were not in-house, though they were scheduled to work. My first reaction to the comment, “We are missing five geniuses today” was that I would have to write a blog about that bit of nonsense!
In the next twenty minutes that I spent waiting for my own genius, I mulled over the realization that when I started writing my blog I thought I was putting a bit of myself out there to share with the world.  I had absolutely no idea that gradually, the world would find its way to me through comments, both verbal and written. Einstein postulated existence of the Observer Effect. As I understand it,  in quantum physics, there is no reality until that reality is observed.  In other words, we alter every object in the world simply by paying attention to it. 
When I started this blog, I saw myself as an observer of the world, reporting back to my readers about what I saw and experienced. What I have learned since is that I have been changed by the observations I made. I continue to be changed because the kind of culling for material I did has become a habit. Simply by paying attention to the details of life, I have been altered. The scientist has become the experiment! 

note: the store manager said they would need up to three days to replace the track pad on my MacBook Pro. I took my laptop with me to find a store closer to my home.  As I was leaving my “genius” whispered to me that the replacement really takes less than an hour to complete.