Friday, July 30, 2010

Aniticipation is STRESSING ME OUT !!! (RELAX, deep breath...blelelele)

A four weeks ago, while preparing for my trip, I read in the CDC travelers guide that it was advisable to get both the hep A and B series. So I called my doctors office and asked about the shots and if I should go to a clinic or them. They told me that they could administer the shots in their office, which led me to believe that there was not reason to believe my insurance would not cover it. A few weeks later I get a bill for 400. for the shots and a note from my insurance denying coverage. I called about it, was assured it was a coding error and made an appointment for the second series of shots. I was told that if there was a problem they would get back to me, they didn't. Not wanting to be charged again, I called on appointment day (today). I just wanted to make sure I was not going to be billed another 400 for the second in the series, surprise surprise...If I had gone it would have cost me another 4 franklins. All the while I am missing out on the health department clinic that might have offered me a better deal...which if you go back to the beginning of this scenario, was one of the questions I asked of my doctors office. Now, I leave in a few days with only the first part of the HEP vaccines administered and no way of getting the second in the series because there is no immunization clinic date before I depart, holding my breath here.
On another note, I have been reading up on travel insurance for 6 weeks and I cannot seem to make heads or tails of travel insurance and decide exactly what is that I need. I am not worried about trip cancelation or even reimbursement of costs to change my flights if that happens, but I am worried about the medical coverage. I hear that if one gets sick, the bill can be thousands of dollars, demanded up front before treatment (the medical treatment/ evacuation thing is too close to heart right now for me not to stress a bit).
This solo traveling thing has me in knots too and now that I am not being met at the airport... I can't seem to figure out how to pack my work so that it is portable w/o being clunky and yet safe from breakage. I did think about that before I submitted photos, but my thoughts escape me now...I would say Calgon take me away, but that would just cause me more stress! (SPINNING 1,000,000,000...miles a second here, can you tell?)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pete's new Diggs (from the annals of Adventures with Pete)

This morning I posted that I was off again on some Advetures with Pete. I have decided that first off I need to clarify who Pete is and why he is worthy of these wonderfully rich chronicles. Pete is one of my oldest friends. The summer before I was in fourth grade he defended me on the playground and launched a friendship. We have been close ever since, mostly. As with any friendship there are times of drought, and Pete and I have suffered a few, but on the whole, we have a camaraderie that spans the years. We have been through lots of CRAP together as well as lots of JOY. Last year we found each other's company again after a long period of absence (15 years) and since have continued to build our friendship and have not looked back. Pete has always been like a sibling to me, and like siblings we were able to pick up as if there was never a gap. The only notable thing was the age/size of my kids, they are all taller than him now, except for Anna.

In anycase, Pete and I spent a week in Maine, which if you have been following, was an adventure to say the least. If you got that sense from the writing I did about the trip, then I will tell you that every day we spend together is an adventure, even if all we do is meet at the diner for chicken and fries. Today was no different. I went to see his new studio. It is a magical place, located in one of the former grande hotels of the Catskills.

When I arrived I put together a lunch for us; chicken, salad, brown rice vegetable rolls, ice tea. We then spent some time going through the many pictures taken in Maine. This is one time that I felt self conscious as an artist. I have to say Pete is an incredible photographer, and despite being immersed in art all the time, I suck at it. I am in awe of his work. He has this Dorothea Lange quality to his portraits and an Eliot Porter feel to his landscapes. Other artists aside, he definitely has a very strong voice to his own work.
Pete's new digs are nice. His studio is a simple place, suitable for relaxing, contemplating and processing aesthetic decisions. What's better is that he has all the amenities of that former grande hotel included: cinema, game room, two pools, spa, card room, billiards, cafe, hiking trails... the list goes on. Just in case thinking about art or life for that matter needs a distraction (OR INSPIRATION).
After our look into our trip, we headed to the pool. I don't think I have giggled that much while swimming since I was a teenager. Here I was in a monstrous pool with perfect deck furniture, shuffle board crowd, and piped in music. It was surreal in a way, I expected to see a waiter asking us for a drink order and there was no lifeguard, but the remnants of an earlier time are still there in the form of a tiki bar, a small stage, and LG chairs, which incidentally were occupied by one small tykes shorts. There were these Russian women, a bunch of them, with a whole brood of kids between them, relaxing at the pool. They were discussing the nuances of motherhood and disciplining children in English and then humiliating each other in Russian. They were ruthlessly taking pot shots at each other and not even flinching, unless...unless... the unthinkable had happened, could they have been making fun of us? I am sure this was not the case, as one woman did take things to heart at one time and got an earful for showing any emotion (OK maybe there is a bit of an exaggeration here, she wasn't that crushed). I marveled at this interesting display, wondering where they were from exactly. Did they live there?
There was also this man that I found curious. He was incredibly fit, maybe late 70's or early 80's, wearing a pair of navy trunks and a cotton fedora, perched awkwardly on his head. He appeared to be trying to attract the LADIES. What struck me was that he was so vain, a Jack LaLanne type. Maybe he learned about fitness from the guy, emulating him and his lifestyle? Then there was the guy who joined us in the pool. We were goofing around, laughing, splashing, swimming and he decided to come into "OUR" pool, imagine that. Of course there was the teenage boy with his underpants showing (I see London, I see oh my WHY do boys think this is so sexy?) OK we were being goofy. I swear it was the sun!

The place reminded me of a scene out of "Dirty Dancing". It was a hoot.

After the pool, we finished up looking at the pictures and called it a day, not before I received information about my upcoming trip that had me tied up in knots. Pete of course calmed my fears a bit, though I still haven't been able to eat. My stomach matches the day on Ubby's boat right now, despite getting the info I needed later.
What I marvel at is how many people have this incredible confidence in me. It is a wonderful thought to be that supported but I have to admit I am as chicken shit as they come sometimes and traveling to far off places where aspects of my culture are taboo qualifies as one of those times. Thanks to some level headed people, I can live with myself...LOL.

Hey Pete, if you are reading this, and I know you are, thanks for being there for the last 35 years (give or take).


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tell the Truth Thursday

What is one of the most important lessons you've learned?
I spent the day with my mom in two very different scenarios, one very stressful but having nothing to do with her actions, that left me with a scorching headache and then the BALANCE of the day being very comforting and wonderful. I so much liked the latter, which actually was the bulk of the day.

We met 1/2 way between us in New Paltz, the home of my alma matter. The place where I learned how to be an adult. Where I learned how to make mistakes on my own. This is the place I learned the true meaning of LOVE (in so many aspects of the word) and yes I even met my husband there. I also learned one very big lesson, that ties my whole life together. Its called persistence which of course goes hand in hand with patience.

When I think of my mom, I marvel at how incredibly persistent she is. I know she has 30 years on me as far as practice, but she has this knack of knowing what she wants and working at getting it. This does not mean that her streets are paved in gold, or that she is self absorbed. All it means is that she knows how to strategically plan for the things she wants to achieve AND that she knows how to go after it and wait if she needs to. She is as methodical as they come at times, but she has also traveled the world despite not having much. Sometimes I think she invented a highly refined version of the of flying by the seat of one's pants so that it actually works.

Today, we sat at the beach in Minnewaska, we talked about many things, from cancer support, to positive outlooks, to grabbing life by the horns. At dinner, which was leisurely because the service was slow, she told me that she was toying with Reykjavik for New Years, simply because it sounded more exciting
than the "Same Old" here.
She has always wanted to see the Matterhorn, and next month, despite not knowing a sole
in Switzerland, she is headed there, effectively checking it off her life list.

I know that I learned the basic tenets of persistence from her. Heck, my whole childhood with an
alcoholic father was all about persevering in the face of adversity. Sometimes my mom and I
even clash over things because she has taught me so well. However, I think back to the spirit
of my time in New Paltz; when I went there for schooling, when I trained there, when my husband
and I just hung out there, and when I have introduced friends to the place and I know that it
embodies every single lesson in persistence I have ever known. As an art student, I learned how
to stick my neck out onto that chopping block and tempt that axe to hack away at it, all the while
knowing that each blow would only thicken my skin and make me try harder. I learned how to
train, first as a swimmer, then as a super competitive triathlete, and finally as a cyclist 20 years
later, all the while taking a pounding from that ridge knowing that the ridge was my serving as
my lifeline. Its sheer majestic presence forced me to want to work hard, to emulate, to conquer,
to be one with.

I also learned that the very act of LOVING anything would take that same type of finessing and
many times that meant stepping aside and letting things grow and blossom. I can recall many
times that I was not so patient and left the skeletons in the wake of my intensity. Then there were
those who still believed in me. They were essential to me learning how to dial back a bit and be
patient which strengthened my resolve. My husband included.

As I think about how wonderful it was to spend time with my mom today, I am thankful for both
the lessons that I have learned. Today, eventually, nurture and nature were in balance. To her

So why the Indigo Girls "WATERSHED"? Llisten to the lyrics...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Help with Identification

I planted this herb in my garden two years ago. All I remember is that it was related to celery. I can't remember what it is so consequently it is taking up LOTS of room in my garden for no apparent reason. It is over 5 ft tall (Closer to 6). I am thinking it is some form of lovage but???

Color of the Week (Alison I have not forgetten you!)

A few weeks ago I embarked on a quest for the color purple. I looked for purple everywhere and asked Alison and Rich to consider a color quest on their honeymoon. With that said Alison came home with LOTS of purple and in order to make sure this quest was not done in vain (practicing my teaching skills here) I am featuring it on this post.

The new color I want to feature is LOBSTER. Is that a even a color?

In the mean time, Alison, I am so glad we are not riding in IOWA right now, seeing that you don't like the water so much. (In all honestly and joking aside, my heart does go out to those affected by the flooding whole heartedly as I can relate to that devastation after loosing so much to flooding a few years ago)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Day for Hanna (WOW)

Something told me that the town would turn out for the fundraising event that the community worked so hard on for Hanna. I was not wrong, despite the weather there were a great deal of people that were not from the neighborhood. The event was beautifully organized. There was a blood drive, which had to be moved to an alternate location due to the heat as well as the BBQ itself. There was a ton of food and drink, which were all donated (Lions Club, The J.I.M.M.Y. Foundation, and Stephanie's Mission) so that 100% of the funds would go to the Monte's.
While Chris, Anna and I helped set up for the event, Kenny and Justin went to donate blood. Mikey? Well, he was at the beach with some of the neighborhood kids. By 2:30 the place was in full swing and continued on until about 8PM.
As the day wore on, we reminisced on how old the kids were getting. We looked at pictures from 10 years ago, marveling on how cute the neighborhood kids were. I spent the day trying to get some candid shots of those same kids.
I haven't been to a party at the lake in a very long time. I think what we have in this community is pretty special. Our neighbors generally like each other and often join together to celebrate the community we live in. Now that my kids are so much older, I find myself down there less but there are so many new families with little kids in the position I was in 15 years ago. What I found fascinating is that these families, who don't know Hanna, and haven't witnessed her growing up into the wonderful young lady she is, were there pitching in as if she was their own.
The turnout from outside this tiny lake community was incredible as well. There were so many people, including some of the district's teachers. It was pretty special. All in all the day raised about 7,000 for uncovered medical expenses for Hanna. If you missed the BBQ but would like to donate to HANNA'S FUND you may do so online.

A day for Hanna (but first a word about Team Kermit)

Today the community will pitch in to throw a fundraising BBQ for Hanna at the lake. I plan on documenting the event for this blog. With this said, I wanted to take some time to talk about pediatric cancer. In the past few years I have had a few friends and neighbors loose a child to cancer. Cancer is a battle that is never easy to swallow, but in the case of a child, it resonates in a different manner.

I spent the past week in Maine with my friend Pete. Upon returning home I found my son had shaved his head and my daughter told me that Irie and Hanna had both cut their hair to donate it to "Locks of Love".How incredible it is that Hanna, with all she is going through, donated her hair? I only wish that Chris had thought of St Baldrick's before taking the buzzer to his head, after all he once donated his hair to "Locks of Love". As many of you know I shaved my head last year and I plan on doing it again soon. The organization raises money for grants for research. This is important because it allows research that would normally be deemed to remote to pursue as funding is tight. What I learned about research practices in the past few years has been eye opening. Most of the time research is funded by a consensus. Often projects have to have a HUGE bandwagon to get the funding. Some of the smaller projects may never get off the ground no matter how promising they may seem. The little guy with the fantastic idea has to really sell his work to the community, and hope that it is noticed. Its like you or I running for President without being a prominent politician.

A few years ago, I watched my neighbors and friends Gina and Jim and their girls watch their 6 year old son/brother slip away, loosing his fight with brain cancer. He was the first boy born into a family of six girls. He was such a sweet child, so interested in fire trucks and butterflies and everything six year olds are interested in. A few days after he lost his battle with cancer I rode my bike across CT to set a record with prayers for Jimmy written all over my legs. Jimmy was a very big part of this community despite his young age. My heart was broken.

Exactly one day before, my friends Steve, Ellen and Adam were beginning the grieving process for their son/brother too, who had lost his battle with brain cancer as well. I didn't know Jared, but I feel very connected to him in certain ways. I think its because he went to Alfred University to study Art. He would have graduated the same year that Justin started at Alfred. I often wonder if they would have known each other that year. He was granted his BFA postmortem. I remember seeing one of Jared's pots published in a book earlier this year, and suddenly being hit with the enormity of these losses.

Jared was treated at Dana Farber Hospital at the JIMMY FUND CLINIC, which is the pediatric clinic within the hospital. It is a place where Steve, Ellen, Adam and Jared found hope and support in dealing with Jared's illness. Since then the Branfman's have set up a fund within the Jimmy Fund for Pediatric cancer research called the Sunflowers for Life fund which supports research for cranial and spinal tumors.

Over the past three years Steve and I have built a friendship that most would classify as one of those that would be counted on one hand. We have a great deal in common. He is a potter, parent, HS teacher, avid cyclist and from Bayside Queens, where I spent the first year and a half post college. I think of how supportive he has been in regards to many aspects of my life. He often pushes me to reach for the stars. I am sure that this has more to do with his observation of what my character demands. This year I had planned on joining Steve, Ellen and Adam in riding my bike from Sturbridge, Ma to Provencetown as part of Team Kermit during the Pan Mass Challenge. I hadn't done a charity ride in a few years and thought that joining them this year would be perfect way to thank them for their friendship as well as utilize my bike. Unfortunately, in my quest to better myself as an artist (thanks to Steve's ENCOURAGEMENT), I have found myself in an exhibition in Korea at the time of this year's ride. I will be on a grand adventure across the Pacific. In any case I have decided to participate as a virtual rider. I hope that you can help.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Adventures with Pete: part 2 (We are home)

Readers: I write this entry as a letter to my cousin John Patrick as I know he would appreciate the adventures I speak of. JP is a frontiersman of sorts and currently resides in AK. His life outside of Sitka is one I someday hope to witness. I hope you enjoy the next few posts as much as I know he will!

July 23, 2010
The Narrows, South Addison Maine
Not a Cloud…
My Dear Cousin,
Well they say there is a first for everything and yesterday was no different. We awoke at 4:30 to get ready for a day of setting and hauling lobster traps, and I wish that I could say that 4:30 meant that I had a good nights sleep, seeing that I have been keeping hours with the sun. Unfortunately I had one of those restless nights. The spirits of this place haunted me. It was storming when I retired and the rushing of the stream behind the bunkhouse made me understand in my sleepy brain that it was pouring all night, which it was not. At some point (2 AM) I was woken up by something that was teasing me, flicking a towel, grabbing at my feet, telling me it was morning, I thought it was Pete. Then I heard Pete snoring in the room next door. Yes, I sat up and turned on the lantern, wouldn’t you? When I realized there was nothing there, I tried to settle down and sleep despite the adrenaline pulsing through my veins. As I drift ever so slowly back into unconsciousness, I am greeted by the faces of two men, one was scruffy, curly blonde hair, and weathered beyond his 20 something years, the other was about the same age, dark hair, with a striking resemblance to “Uncle Mill” the original proprietor of the land. They didn’t say anything, they just appeared there momentarily watching me, as if I was about to learn something I should not know about, being a girl and all. I again lit the room with my lantern, knowing that I would find nothing. This time I put my I-Pod on, blocking out the world, listening to an archived podcast of “The Story”. I drifted back to sleep comforted by a Haitian gospel tune. I was awoken again by bumps to the bunkhouse wall. This time it woke Pete as well. It was probably just the resident porcupine coming home after his night of foraging but even so, it was no less alarming. After a few words about the noise we both drifted back off for that last hour of rest. Four, F&%King- thirty came racing in, screeching like a mother protecting her young… it was not pleasant, and quite frankly, we were not pleasant to each other. I was completely spooked, I had not slept, I was to tired to eat, a mistake that would also haunt me, and it appeared the weather would be iffy. We arrive at the dock, with a few minutes to spare, despite forgetting things and having to return to retrieve them. Ubby and his dad steam in and retrieve us, all smiles, right on time.
The night’s issues immediately melt away as we board the boat. We stow our gear and cruise past the house, greeted enthusiastically by a wave from Pete’s dad. We were off and within minutes I was in waders and gloves, face in the bait box, working hard, and totally in my glory. As I write this I am beaming ear to ear. I could so get used to that, being out on the water, making a living from the sea! Linda Geenlaw I am so jealous of your life!
As I sat there working my butt off, there was an important moment that I will not soon forget, Ubby’s dad smiled at me, and announced that I was a keeper. He was a nice man, but my first impression was that he was worried that we would disrupt and distract them from their work, especially if we were allowed to handle some of the tasks, rightfully so. I wholeheartedly understand this, they were out there trying to make a living, and despite there being no hesitation at all with letting me help, there was still the learning curve to consider, their day would either be more work, or less work… that pivot point of balance is microscopic! I understand that. So when he smiled at me, and announced that I was a keeper, it meant that someone’s day would be better for my efforts.
As the traps came up and the bait pockets were emptied and handed to me I became part of the rhythm of the day at sea. Traps are hauled and emptied two at a time, lobsters placed in a box, awaiting banding, bait bag emptied and replaced, buoy checked and then the trap is reset. Sometimes the contents of the trap yielded more than lobsters, sometimes there were some really ugly fish in the trap, sometimes crab, and sometimes there were treasures, such as scallops. When I first arrived on deck I was asked if I had ever watched the deadliest catch? I was told the initiation was to bite the head off a baitfish, Pete backed up that thought and I teetered on the edge of you can’t be serious an I am drawing the line… then came the scallop. I was asked if I was able to eat shellfish. When I answered yes, I was told that the scallop would be shucked for me in a moment and I was left to roll that tidbit around my head for the next 30 minutes or so. I knew that I had no choice, despite never liking RAW BAR fare, I would have to eat this scallop, so in that half hour I had to grow a pair that would allow me the 2 seconds to swallow… By the way, that scallop was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted, period!
The morning flew by. I continued to fil bait bags, watch what was coming out of the traps, and enjoy the opportunity of a lifetime. There were islands, and animals, and rock ledges, and swells…and swells…and…oh my I suddenly don’t feel well... I am going to heave and its not going to be pretty…maybe I can quietly remove myself to the outside, take a break for a bit, get some air? Maybe if I quietly excuse myself to the side of the boat and get rid of the contents of my stomach, oh wait a minute, the contents consist of one handful of cereal and a raw scallop… nothing in there to get rid of. I tried to heave, dry as a bone. I tried to eat something…two bites made the world spin… So I sat and focused on one spot quietly, letting the water from the lobster tank run over my wrists as it drained off the side of the boat. I was so embarrassed, despite the understanding from everyone around me. What was Pete doing, documenting the WHOLE experience, noe censorship, on camera. Pete’s dad came out to fetch us in the boat. I was so grateful and so deflated at the same time.
Upon returning to shore, we showered, ate a bit of something, and moved our day to plan B. While Pete spent time napping his mom and I discussed color theory, decorating and teaching. This would be the second in depth heart to heart I had with her during my visit. The first one was a few days back when we discussed motherhood. She has truly made me feel welcome. Pete and I then went shopping for dinner. We stopped by the wharf to take a photo and use the phone on the way back from town, just as Ubby and his dad were calling it a day. I got a chance to thank them both and Pete also had the opportunity to see his friend Timmy. After that we returned to that house where I prepared the evening meal. We dined on a solar tomato sauce, pasta, asparagus, chicken and garlic bread. For desert we had angel food, blueberries and whipped cream. Afterwards we talked for a bit and played word games. Dishes were done and we were sleeping by 8. Another wonderful day on the Maine coast. This morning 4 AM was perfect and I so wanted to be out there again…another time I guess.
Today, island hopping, berry picking and possibly clamming, oh and we have to work on the artwork for the bunkhouse. We are packing as well as we leave tonight.

July 24, 2010
Somers, NY
Hot and Muggy filled with exhuastion
Mr. John,
I am resolving to address you in that manner this one last time because I learned something this week about that salutation and in this case, I have all the respect in the world for those who have attempted living off the grid, even if its for a fleeting moment.

Pete and I left the state of Maine last night at midnight after a few hours sleep. I don’t mind the night time travel too much, its an adventure, but I really don’t like traveling tired and I don’t sleep well in the car. I am no worse for ware after this past week, sunburned, sore from scrambling and clambering over the rocks, and my hands are cut to shreds from the barnacles. I am sun- burned, have chapped lips and grateful to have had the time to spend a week on the water with a good friend.

It is interesting to be home by 9AM. I have the whole day in front of me, yet I am way too tired to enjoy it. I can’t imagine what my trip to Korea is going to be like next week. I sit here and write as I cook the lobsters that I brought home. One of them did not make it, despite being packed in layers of seaweed. I guess the ice melted more than we thought. If I have to cook that one right away, I may as well cook the rest. We are having lobster rolls for dinner I guess.

Yesterday, Pete and I had a very interesting and very exhausting day. We went berry picking and scrambling on Tibets Island. There were blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and gooseberries. The few dark purple gooseberries we picked were far better than the red ones we get at home. It was wonderful to stand in a thicket of blueberries, but it was also terrifically HOT. When we arrived back at the house, I went in for a swim in the cold water of the Narrows. After lunch Pete and I cleaned up the bunk house and packed the car. Pete then spent some time with his mom and I kept his dad company out at one of the local clam beds as he fetched us dinner. The operation was back breaking, and the clams were characters, pissing as they were uncovered, sometimes with great aim. The end result is sweeter than anything I have ever tasted. Shortly before we dined on those clams, Pete and I headed to the wharf to pick up some lobsters for Kenny. We got to hang out with Timmy for a bit too. We had the car packed and we were off for a short sleep shortly after 8.

I drifted off to sleep with the bell buoys sounding like church bells. It was a windy evening with a stiff chill in the air. I never did get the opportunity to stand on that red buoy on the other side of Tibet’s Island. The short-stepping white cat we saw on our way into town the day we arrived crossed the road again last night as we left. We laughed aloud (again). It seemed she had afforded us a perfectly correct send off, bringing to an end to a fantastic week.

True friends are most definitely a part of your soul. Pete has always been there for me growing up, especially when things were tough. We were afforded the chance to reminisce as well as build upon the bank of memories we have. This week will not soon be forgotten!

I am off to Korea on August 4th. I will surely write about that adventure. I will be going at it solo, which is a bit unnerving.

I do hope AK is finding you well! All the best!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Adventures with Pete, Part 1 - YEA we found technology!

Readers: I write this entry as a letter to my cousin John Patrick as I know he would appreciate the adventures I speak of. JP is a frontiersman of sorts and currently resides in AK. His life outside of Sitka is one I someday hope to witness. I hope you enjoy the next few posts as much as I know he will!

Dear Johnny-Pat, July 19, 2010
Adventures with Pete
South Addison, Me
Crystal clear skies, Sunny and hot
I write this to you with both excitement and appreciation. I am with my childhood and good friend Pete in South Addison, Maine, on a waterfront at a place called “the Narrows”, getting ready to launch on the days adventure of island hopping and possibly fishing. I came up here with the intention of spending some time hauling Lobsters, which I have not done since the summer of 1980. Pete’s parents have not seen me since 1982 and I decided that it was high time I show my face.

The house I am staying at is totally off the grid. Pete’s parent’s who are hovering around 80 are living the potters life. Actually it’s the typical life of a Mainer, no running water, an outhouse, an outdoor solar shower that is, in itself a wonderfully intuitive invention. Water is heated in 5 gallon buckets by the sun. It is tempered to 110 degrees with boiling water heated with propane and cold water from the tap. The water is then carried down the hill (about 100 yds) down a soggy and slick path to the shower, where you will find another 5 gallon pail with a hose fitted to the bottom of it that is threaded into a shower fixture and stall. This bucket is tethered to a pulley system that you lower to fill and then hoist up to allow gravity to work its wonders. There is exactly 2 minutes of run time once the spigot is turned on, so one has to wet down, turn off the water and soap up, then allow it to run for rinsing. I was thrilled to see exactly how refreshing it was. The mosquitoes share the shower experience with you, so it is essential to make sure they too have washed behind their ears as well.

I spent the night in a bunkhouse, complete with the chamber pots under each bed. It was quite comfortable I might add, and I awoke this morning to lobster boats coming through the channel at first light, which is about 4:00 AM. This was in addition to a rather large animal bumping the bunk house at 3AM, which rattled the crap of everyone. After arising this morning I went blueberry picking, made camp coffee and oatmeal (with fresh picked berries and peanut butter of course). We ate in the sun and marveled at a small squirrel scampering in a nearby apple tree and the smell of salt and beach rose permeating the air. Life is truly grande! More later…

July 20, 2010
South Addison, Maine
Cloudy with some sun and FOG

We spent the day out on the water yesterday. We were on a mission to explore Fisherman’s Island to gather up any useful refuse that might be had, such as hog pins and line. While this may seem like a long ways to travel to secure a few items but we were off on an adventure. The sun was blazing with not a cloud in the sky. This proved to be both a blessing and a curse as the weather was grand for exploring but capable of scorching the skin. In my case, lets just say I am nursing some areas of flesh today that are almost as red as some of the rocks we traversed. When we were leaving the island we had to cross a rather large field of seaweed covered scarlet colored rocks. This had the capability of playing with the mind and I kept thinking I was stepping on millions of lobsters. My time on the island yielded a few pieces of drift wood, some sea glass, about eight rib bones to some dog sized vertebrate, a partial pelvis as well as a femur/tibia of a bird.

Our next adventure is one that your brother Brian would not approve of, yet at the same time it was a photo opp that would be typical of him. You know on that is most likely to show up on one of his Christmas cards. It is a tradition here to have your photo taken on the bell buoy. As we pulled up to the buoy and I was directed to hop off the bow and onto the buoy but I panicked, second-guessed my balance and could not pull myself off the bow of the boat. I feared that I would fall into the drink between the boat and the buoy and be crushed like a common household ant. As a competitive soul, that moment’s hesitation worked on my head all afternoon. I have come to terms with it and have decided that given a second chance I might be more successful, more on that at another time.

Upon returning to shore, I spent the afternoon on the beach painting before heading to town in search of a pottery to buy a proper mug for coffee. We returned to the camp baring some forgotten items at the store such as pickled beets. It was perfect afternoon. We ended the day on the porch with a martini and a snack of smoked herring on crackers, we had a proper polish supper of kielbasa, cabbage, beets and corn. The only thing missing was the pumpernickel, horseradish and maybe boiled potatoes. I could hear your father giggling at the fact that I was being polite and eating my kielbasa like a good little Polish girl should. He never did let me live down the day I told him I didn’t care for pork. He couldn’t imagine that being raised in a family where they served Kielbasa with a side of pork and a slab of bacon that anyone could hate the stuff. He told me that only saving grace was that I married a Jewish guy who did not keep kosher and couldn’t get enough of the stuff. It was on that very same day that he taught me to give steamers a second chance and I learned to love clams, which brings me to another point I want to make about this trip. We had also planned on securing at least one night’s dinner by doing some raking, but as luck would have it we arrived here bringing the red tide with us so procuring the succulent mollusks will not happen.

Today? Trying to figure out the weather. Maybe a hike on Campabello.

July 21, 2010
Lubec, Maine
Sunny, breezy and chilly
Dear Mr. John (Oh don’t get your hopes up about the permanence of the title!!! Just thought it would sound right today, in a sort of sea faring way!),
I write this to you from the public library in Lubec. I have just returned from Campobello where I have managed to swim in the Bay of Fundy, hike to the East Quaddy Head Light, picnic along a pull out on a causeway and look out over Friar Head. We also spent a good deal of time down on the beach at West Quaddy Head as well as we observed a bunch of Inuksuk like structures on a rock outcropping and then added to them by building a few of our own We have had an exciting day and its only 4:00 PM (though we still have laundry to do and dinner to think about).
Yesterday, was equally as interesting. We took a trip to Steven’s Island, again only accessible by boat and also requiring a trek over seaweed covered rocks. This was a bit more nerve-wracking as the rocks were fairly large and since the seaweed was so dense I was afraid that there might be crevasses. Luckily that did not materialize. We were greeted by 2 bald eagles screaming at us. After a walk around the point, we realized that the cause of their distress was actually a washed up and decaying humpback whale. There was not much left to it. The only reason I know it was a humpback was because of the bumps on its fins. We spent a good amount of time there taking pictures before being picked up on the beach where the whale was, which required a bit of immersion into the cold water. We headed back searching for a known Lobsterman to buy lobsters from. We finally succeeded, right in front of the house in the Narrows. After purchasing dinner we headed in to take showers and head into town to seek out some technology. We arrived back at the house in time for a fantastic lobster dinner, forgetting that we had 3 blocks of ice that we purchased for the cooler in the trunk. We did remember this however a few hours later and only had a minimal amount of soaking.
I found it difficult to get out of bed this morning, despite being awoken by the local lobsterman launching from the beach. After 2 cups of coffee and a cheese sandwich we were off on our adventure. I will post pictures as soon as I am home. I have taken over 500 so far and do not have the time to sort through them yet. Tomorrow? We are setting and hauling traps with Pete’s friend Ubby.
Until then…

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Salad Days and Beyond

I spent four days in Maine mainly to attend Salad Days, one of Watershed's major fundraisers. The day went extremely well with all of Sean O'Connell's plates being sold out. I donated a bowl to the raffle and it was very well received, which made me feel great about doing it. On the way home from Maine we stopped in Boston to see Steve and Ellen Branfman, the Holocaust memorial and then we detoured to Foxwoods, where we had a lovely dinner and made sure that we left some funds behind.

On Monday morning Kenny and I headed south, dropping Harriet off in Riverdale and then continuing on to DC to see Richard and Virginia to see Mark and Joanne. Our main purpose of this trip was to retrieve Anna, who has been working on a farm in southern Va for the past six weeks. I marvel at the amount of milage we put in during the past 3 days alone (1100) and the fact that I feel like I was multitasking a vacation as well. We fit in dinner in DC, stopped to get peaches and Frog Jam at Saunders, toured two breweries, and went to Tye River Pottery. Kevin Crowe is friends with Mark and Joanne as well as Steve and Ellen (but the couple's don't know each other). Mark and Joanne made a killer bowl of popcorn for viewing The Blind Side and an even better breakfast the next morning. We stopped at Crab Tree Falls (remember the Waltons?), stopped to get flour and grits at Wade's Mill, and had lunch in Lexington (home of VMI and Washington and Lee University) after a few hours of walking the farm. We finally turned for home around 4PM. We arrived home shortly before midnight.

What I learned is from this trip is that the world is MUCH smaller than I can even imagine and my time with my friends and family is so important. I wish that this trip was much longer so that there was time to linger.


Friday, July 9, 2010

MAINE- Fave Five

We arrived here yesterday after a six hour drive and a lunch stop in Kennebunk. This was my Friday - and it topped off a wonderful week.
Louise Nevelson was quite the painter, something I never knew. I wish I could have shared those paintings with you, but I wasn't allowed to take images of them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So you want to be Coffee Buddies?

Sorry, but I have this wonderful relationship already. He is the only one that could ever complete who I am! ... My morning consisted of three errands:
1. getting shot up with 2 HEP vaccines (A and B)
2. going to the farmers MKt
3. going to the bike shop

The bike shop took longer than I thought it would, Tim and I were chatting too much and the bike I was picking up was not completed yet. I decided to forgo the wait and head to the local Starbucks. This proved to be more than an interesting experience. Lets just say that this encounter put a new spin on being "IN THE CLUB"

I end up a Starbucks both in need of my FIRST cup AND breakfast. It was NOON. As I order my LARGE iced coffee (OK its 101 already- hot coffee just wont cut it) and my oatmeal. As I stood at the counter adding cream to my coffee this guy starts talking to me. He's not a bad looking guy, a little skeevy, oily, slimy but if he cleaned himself up, who knows? At first I just thought he was asking me to pass the cream, and commenting on the weather. As his words started to register in my caffeine deprived brain I realized he was trying his damnedest to hit on me. First he talked about how he can't get past spending 1.50 on the a coffee, which is why he brings his refillable cup. Did I know that they only charge for a small coffee when you bring a refillable cup? Then he proceeds to tell me that he has a respectable coffee habit, after all he could be in a bar drinking beers. His wife should be so proud of him. Then he tells me that he can get free stuff from Starbucks all the time because he is a member of the "CLUB" and if I hung with him... SO DO I WANT TO BE MY COFFEE BUDDY? OUR SPOUSES WON"T HAVE TO KNOW. Did I tell him I am married? No, he figured that out by the rock on my left hand. Did I even talk to him, I told him I already had a gold card with my name on it. To which he replied then I already knew what being a member of he club meant.

SO next time you are in Starbucks and you use the same registered gift card to buy your coffee on regular basis, and you earn a bunch of stars so that they eventually send you a gold card with your name on it...

wordless Wednesday

Monday, July 5, 2010


I think about this word and the connotations it brings forth with it. You are probably thinking I am either going to talk about the birthday of a friend/family member or the birthday of the country (given the holiday weekend). Actually, I was not going to write about either. I just wanted to put the word out there because it was a word that popped into my head while riding yesterday and with the holiday weekend at hand and everyone thinking in terms of our country and military service coupled with my emotions and experiences of the past week I had this thought about how much that word can mean, or not mean.

As you probably have guessed I have good friend's that are dealing with their baby having cancer. Hanna is 19 years old and has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer. She was completing a semester abroad in Spain when she took ill. It has been a long haul already and likened to being stuck on the uphill and downhill of the first climb of a roller coaster, repeating it numerous times in a day. Her 20th birthday is next month, a milestone, no longer considered a teenager and for all intensive purposes this seems to be the number that separates one from childhood. To me, watching this beautiful, fun-loving girl grow up making the world around her bloom like the most amazing meadow, a birthday is just a chance remind the world of how quickly time has passed.

We were out on a friends boat on Saturday watching the fireworks from the water. They are dealing with the decline of elderly parents and the suddenness of it all. When you speak of birthdays in this context we are talking late eighties and early nineties. Their birthdays are a measured in a different manner, more as a reflection of accomplishments.

Placing these two very different situations side by side I think about what each of them has experienced in their lifetime. 93 years ago we would be waiting for the results of the Tour de France to hit the newspaper a few weeks after the fact, if it even made the news. Twenty years ago, we were just starting to rely on the computer for day to day life.

My cousin also retired from military service this weekend, a similar type of right of passage. My dad's family has always been very outwardly patriotic. While I am very appreciative of everything our country has to offer, the show of RWB is something that I will admit that has never been my cup of tea. The colonel no doubt planned the retirement on this weekend because of the symbolism. I admire him for that. Symbolic gestures are something that I really relate to, as my artwork tends to be very metaphorical. The act of retiring from military service on the weekend that the country celebrates the birth of a nation is monumental. This is something I am proud of on so many levels. I wished I could have celebrated this with him, but Anna came home for the first time since May to see Hanna and I wanted to make sure I was here for her if she needed me. So we stayed home and enjoyed each others company.

I have spent the past few days on my bike, forcing myself to ride. I think about that too. Steve told me that he rides before working in the studio to leave all the crap on the road. He suggested to me that this might be a way of getting ahold of my feelings. This is not new to me. Most of my friends in high school knew that when I was upset I would either run or ride, in college they would just go check the pool and hope that they could catch me mid breath, and for the past fifteen years being on a bike or even on my skates has served a similar purpose. Lately however, I have had an issue with leaving it on the road. It has to do with being competition weary. One of the thoughts I had on the bike yesterday was that life seems to be all about competition. I was out for a nice casual ride with Kenny, 3o miles of estrogen, which must have been driving him crazy because 20 miles into the ride he made a remark about how the path slows down the progress. I chose the path because I needed to be on auto pilot and in the shade. It was, after-all 101 degrees with high humidity and it was one of the most alcohol related holidays. The path seemed like a safer choice for 1/3 of the ride. I heard it as the path is slowing this show down, the pace is too casual, we need to pick things up. I tried to use ZEN to de-stress the moment. I actually owned it by telling Kenny that I was about to get pissy about things as it was hard enough to be out there as it was, having to cow-tow to a particular pace was ruining it for me. It worked, not another word about how long we had been riding. We stopped shortly afterwards for ice coffee and a bagel then headed home. I effectively left it on the road, though Jon was a big part of that. I never realized just how encouraging my friends can be.

Justin and Haley put together a wonderful BBQ. Pulled chicken onigiri (Justin's creation), clams, blackened cod with remoulade, black bean salsa, burgers, dogs... It was an outstanding affair with outstanding guests. It was the perfect end to a nearly perfect day. The only regret is that Mikey and Chris were off doing their thing, and I really missed them.

Today, Kenny and I took the trip into the city to see Hanna. We took Chris and Kaoru out for lunch. We sat and visited. Trying to stay positive, this was probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in my life. Hanna we love you and cannot wait until you come home! Fight hard sweetie, we are all here to help you! I fell asleep on the train on the way home, and awoke in Pleasantville with a massive headache. Imagine the irony of that. I am so exhausted. I can't even begin to imagine where Chris, Kaoru, Tomo and Irie are at in this regard. Know our collective prayers are with you.

Friday, July 2, 2010

1000 Cranes

Hanna we are praying and wishing and hoping (1000 cranes coming your way sweetie)
I wish I had the three of you (we can't forget Irie) sitting in Anna's room giggling away right now, or even getting annoyed with Chris (as usual) or better yet taking over the living room with a gazillion friends!

Friday FAVe FIVE

1. Kenny
2. Justin
3. Anna
4. Mikey
5. Chris

AND Mom, Harriet, Joe, Claudia, Gary, Camille, Nicky, Jerry, Johnny, Grace, Chris, Kaoru, Tomo, Irie, Hanna, Steve, John, Roseanne, Dan, Mary, Nikko, Guilliana, Jon, Pete, Denise, Lovey, Chris, Anthony, Henri, Evelyn, Kelly and Alison

You all know why! LOVE YOU!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chasing hawks but finding butterflies...

I needed a day to get in touch with my soul. I needed a day with the hawks on an escarpment. I needed a day with at least one of my kids. Chris and I gathered the MtN biking gear and headed to New Paltz. He had never been out to Awosting and I needed to feel as if I could touch the sky so we headed out to that lake in the clouds via the Castle Point carriage way. It was a gorgeous day! The only complaint was that there was a great deal of convection creating clouds that covered the sun at times and it was extremely windy, which down right put a chill in the air.
I went with the hopes of seeing some hawks up close as I usually do. I saw tons of butterflies and Chris even had the liberty of having a ladybug along for the ride on his shifters for the entire way up to Castle Point. He was lucky enough to see a raptor swoop the edge. I am NOT sure where I was looking (OH yah I was getting out the CAMERA and by the time I looked up he was gone). SO I had to settle for butterflies escorting me most of the way. We arrived at the lake and changed to swim only to find that it was a bit too nippy for that. We ate lunch, napped, and headed back about an hour and a half later.
One of the funnier points of the day was me trying to CHANGE in the car afterwards. I never realized how awkward that can be, especially when there were too many people around outside and the bikes already loaded inside. The knee I fell on in the hallway at school is still not fully healed so kneeling is next to impossible. Squirming out of biking shorts and into a pair of walking shorts...OK lets just say I am no contortionist and leave it at that. All Chris had to say was "what was taking you so long?" It was a whole new workout in its own right.
We finally headed home, making on small history stop for Chris on the way through New Paltz. Chris has a HUGE passion for American History, so Huguenot Street fascinated him. One of the day's conversations was about how he was torn between wanting to study geology and wanting to become a History teacher (two grandfathers influencing him from beyond) My dad was a School of Mines guy and Kenny's dad was a huge American History buff. Christopher is planning on proposing an independent study project next year where he cycles American Revolution and Civil War battle routes. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.
Tomorrow- making Mango cobbler and coconut IC in the morning and then out on the boat with Dan for some fireworks later. I am definitely on the bike at some point, taking it one step closer to myself.