Quiet, please. We are not alone.

Spring unfolds each year in color, yes, but also in sound. And, regrettably, in noise — some of it emanating from our gardens.

When Nancy Lawson, a Maryland-based naturalist and nature writer, speaks about the voices of frogs or birds, she uses the word “sound.” When she refers to humanity’s voice — the din of mowers, blowers and chain saws — she describes it as noise, specifically “anthropogenic noise.”

Her definition: something that is “disrespectful of all the other sounds and runs roughshod over them,” she said, with “often unnecessary rudeness.”

These days, we’re not just driving one another crazy with the racket that fills most neighborhoods. We’re “smothering some of the opportunities for animals to communicate through their senses,” she said, “to perceive the world through their senses.”

That means communications are masked and predator alarms and other critical life cues are stifled.

The challenge she poses for us: “Let’s think about the fact that these are our neighbors, too. And they can’t just run inside and put on noise-canceling headphones.” […]

In other words: Easy does it.

“If you treat the local environment like the homeland it’s meant to be,” she writes in “Wildscape,” “you’ll be exposed to more cultures and ideas and ways of life than if you visited with people from every country in the world.”

Sometimes, she said, that’s not about doing something, but the opposite: Stop mowing so often; stop leaf blowing. “Stop these sensory disruptions,” she said.

Even with actions we know can cause harm, like using pesticides, it’s not just the direct damage that she alerts us to.

“It turns out that putting out scents into the world that cause odor pollution can disrupt flower fragrances, and bees’ ability to find the floral resources that they need,” she said of an often unnoticed violation of the Scentscape.

Noise has unexpected effects, too, like reducing the nesting success of bluebirds and tree swallows, and decreasing the foraging ability of owls and bats.

Or this: As cars drove past, Ms. Lawson noticed a monarch caterpillar flinching upward from the milkweed it was feeding on near her roadside. A paper she found cited the same reaction — and how traffic-stressed animals even bit the researchers, something they had never documented before.

Quiet, please. We are not alone.

— Margaret Roach, from “Quiet, Please: You Are Not Alone in Your Garden


Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The beautiful thing in some ways about the smartphone, for example, is that my robotic vacuum will never do anything but vacuum instead of me. But my smartphone can be an instrument in that I can decide every time I pick it up whether I’m going to use it in a way that actually develops my heart, soul, mind and strength that is subordinate to and for the purposes of love.

If I pick up my smartphone and I develop a relationship with people I’ll never meet — influencers and celebrities — by watching videos, that diminishes me. But if I pick up my smartphone and I call my daughter or FaceTime her, that activates love and relationship. Basically, it’s using the thing to more deeply engage with the world rather than to retreat from my investment in the world.

Andy Crouch, from “Nurturing Our Relationships in a Digital World” (The New York Times · Interviewed by Tish Harrison Warren · June 4, 2023). Crouch is the author “The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World.”

Entire article is worth a read here.

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

I don’t know about you Coach. But I hope that either all of us or none of us are judged by the actions of our weakest moments, but rather by the strength we show when and if we’re ever given a second chance.
— Ted Lasso, “Mom City” (S3, E11)


a single sheet of notepaper, on which Charlie had boiled 109 years into an operating code of life

Among Charlie’s things after he was gone, his family found a single sheet of notepaper, on which Charlie had boiled 109 years into an operating code of life. He filled the sheet front and back in flowing ballpoint pen, writing in definitive commands. Among them:

Think freely. Practice patience. Smile often. Forgive and seek forgiveness.

Feel deeply. Tell loved ones how you feel.

Be soft sometimes. Cry when you need to. Observe miracles.

— David Von Drehle, “My neighbor lived to be 109. This is what I learned from him.” From The Washington Post · May 22, 2023.  This essay was adapted from “The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man,” by David Von Drehle

I encourage you to read the entire essay here.

Walking. With The Apparition.

I was heading back to the car, done for the morning, and there he was. Or was it an Apparition?  I’ve never seen him in daylight. I’ve never been within 10 yards of him.

It’s been 1,118 consecutive (sort of, almost, consecutive) days on this morning walk at Cove Island Park. Like in a row.

He’s also a (mostly) daily walker at Cove Island Park.  But he’s a real walker. He walks from somewhere deep in the bowels of Stamford, and around Cove Island Park, and back again — has to be a 6-7 mile loop.

And he’s off early. My shot clock starts one hour before sunrise and most days, I pass him in the car, and he’s half-way done.

You can’t miss him. He’s lean, late 60’s, early 70’s. A brisk gait, both arms swinging high.  In his right hand, a heavy policeman’s flashlight, its beam slashing the darkness. No earbuds, smartphone, music players. Austere.

He never looks over, always looking straight ahead.

Anybody walking that fast, that heavy, has to be running from demons. (Hmmmmm. Lori Gottlieb: Everyone has demons—big, small, old, new, quiet, loud, whatever.)

And here he was, in daylight, less tall, less dark and Human.

He offers the first words. [Read more…]


Morning photos from Daybreak Walk @ Cove Island Park. Egrets & Cygnet here.

But I can hopefully give someone who’s had a bad day an hour and a half to go into a different world where bills or illness isn’t the top thing on their brain. That’s the only skill set I really have. So I have to keep trying.

The worst thing about being famous for Melissa McCarthy is how hard it’s become to follow strangers around a discount store called Big Lots. This is a shop where you can find, for example, patio furniture, a large rack of lamb, sparkly nail varnish and also an Oscar-nominated actress, twice a week, in sunglasses and facemask, staring at strangers. “It’s my therapy, I just find it wonderful.” she says, lightly.

Not just anyone. She doesn’t want to follow just anyone, she likes to follow, for example, the guy wearing all purple, or with his beard tucked into his belt, or the woman in headphones, singing. “I guess it’s because,” she thinks, “everything we’re sold is about perfection – are you making your own organic baby food? Are you milling your own gluten-free flour? So, I have a true love and obsession for someone who’s just like – this is me.” She grins. “Yes, I get a true rush of joy when I can tell someone’s living just as they want. Somebody who’s, like, really rocking their life, I want to be in their glow for a few minutes. It recharges my batteries.” In another life, would McCarthy be one of those people, roller-skating around a discount store, singing? Would she be beard guy? “I think…” she leans in, “I am one of those people. I am beard guy.” […]

And while McCarthy is known for her charm and good-natured jollity, it’s this kind of thing that brings out the rage in her. “I hate any kind of injustice. And people attacking someone for just trying to be who they truly are. What does it matter to them? Do no harm, be kind – if everyone just followed those two rules, we’d be fine. Not,” as she’s seeing in America right now, “‘you can’t read this book’, ‘You can’t talk about certain histories.’ I don’t have any patience for all that.” When she touches on her angers, she gives a glimpse of the tenacity and grit that doesn’t so much lurk behind her cheery optimism as prop it up and push it forward. “Can you imagine if everybody was just kind for one week? The difference would be so unbelievable I don’t even know how it would feel. And the weird thing is, it’s just… not that hard to do?” […]

“There’s a rhythm or a flow, where my mouth precedes my brain in some form?” It’s not only joyful, she says, “It’s really cathartic….“I can be much better off in life. I spend a lot of my work day just… shredding people, so I’m not screaming at someone at a stoplight because they didn’t go the second it turned green. I can wait a minute. I’m fine. […]

“Comedy allows you to sit next to somebody whose ideas don’t match up. And maybe you come out a little closer. I think that’s what I’m supposed to be doing, in this world.” She thinks. “I can’t do a lot of useful things. I don’t know how to clean up the oceans, or stop our violent tendencies. But I can hopefully give someone who’s had a bad day an hour and a half to go into a different world where bills or illness isn’t the top thing on their brain. That’s the only skill set I really have. So I have to keep trying.” [..]

She has this theory, she says. If two people are standing on opposite street corners, “and one person is screaming hate, just terrible things, while the other person is saying, ‘You’re doing a great job. Keep it up! You’re a good parent!’ everyone’s going to look at the hate screamer, right?” She sighs, it’s what we do, human heads are easily turned. “Partly because, it’s hard to scream compliments. Niceness – it’s not as noticeable. So when I see people out there with microphones literally screaming terrible things, I always want to get like, a slightly bigger microphone.”

This impulse is a trait that she shares with the characters she plays, a compulsion to question the modern world and a bawdy confidence, which inevitably makes everything better. “Actually,” she adds, quite serious now, “I would not mind spending a day on the street corner just randomly complimenting people, really loudly. ‘You have terrific pants on,’ or ‘I love your fringe!’” She thinks for a second. “I’m going to have to do it, aren’t I?” I’m pretty sure, I tell her, she already is.

— Eva Wiseman, excerpts from “Interviewing Melissa McCarthy: ‘I spend a lot of my work shredding people‘” (The Guardian, May 21, 2023)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (Volume Up)

Cygnet Wakes. Video (Volume Up) from this morning’s walk at Cove Island Park.  Other photos on FB here.

Monday Morning Wake Up Call

I lived when simply waiting was a large part of ordinary life: when we waited, gathered around a crackling radio, to hear the infinitely far-away voice of the king of England… I live now when we fuss if our computer can’t bring us everything we want instantly. We deny time.

We don’t want to do anything with it, we want to erase it, deny that it passes. What is time in cyberspace? And if you deny time you deny space. After all, it’s a continuum—which separates us.

So we talk on a cell phone to people in Indiana while jogging on the beach without seeing the beach, and gather on social media into huge separation-denying disembodied groups while ignoring the people around us.

​I find this virtual existence weird, and as a way of life, absurd. This could be because I am eighty-four years old. It could also be because it is weird, an absurd way to live.”

Ursula K. LeGuin, Interview by Heather Davis. “Stories from wide open, wild country: An Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin” Hobo Magazine 16: 130-131. (2014)



Goslings. 5:45 am, May 12, 2023. Stamford, CT. More gosling photos from this morning here.

Guess who has arrived?!?!

See more pictures of the cygnet and Mom and Dad here. And moon shots from this morning’s walk here.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Perhaps then it’s no surprise that the idea of preening on social media makes Ruth Wilson physically recoil. In some respects, Instagram would be useful – somewhere her fanbase could find her smaller projects, for instance. But the very idea fills her with dread. She dramatises an imaginary feed: “Oh, heyyy guys. It’s Ruth Wilson herrre.” Then shudders. “The self is so important on social media, it’s created a very narcissistic society. Everyone is their own famous person; everyone can be the centre of their own world.” She jabs a finger at her phone. “But it isn’t human. It’s a constructed world. It lacks actual connection or feeling.”

What’s more, she’s watched friends become “obsessed. You can’t have a conversation because they’re looking for the next shot. Everything is, ‘What can I put out there?’ When they don’t get hits, they feel low, not validated.” She clicks her tongue at the performative feminism, the performative activism; the fact that everyone rushes to post on national whatever-whatever day. “Nothing is real. I don’t believe any of it. No one has real or strong beliefs. They are just dictated to.”

Quite apart from anything, being a slave to her phone would intrude on the things she loves best – “thinking. Just thinking” is one. She has a “restless mind”. Also, reading. […]

“I think back: brilliant, you made people so uncomfortable they had to leave. I think it’s important to face things you don’t want to see. Because only then will you grow. Only then will you live properly…Art should change the way you think. Art should change your life. Art can save you.” Wilson wants her work to be art. […]

Standing on that hinge between pre- and post-#MeToo was, Wilson says, “extraordinary. To actually witness Hollywood” – she makes a whistling sound – “shift like that.” The most disappointing aspect was the volte-face hypocrisy. “To see the survival instinct. You realise how fickle that industry is. There’s no moral backbone.” Attitudes, habits, the way people spoke changed, yes – but only out of fear of being caught. “People were like, ‘We’re going to have a meeting about how badly we’ve behaved and then we’ll all be fine.’ It blew my mind.

“It made me understand a whole swathe of human behaviour. So many people don’t really believe anything – only what makes them money.” Weinstein knew “how to get people Oscars”, so his behaviour was ignored. “They’re opportunists. You see that. But it makes you sage about what you want, what’s important. Do you want to live in that world? Or would you prefer to be doing something else, like this weird 24-hour play, where you can explore things in a safe environment?” […]

This is her safe environment, among artists who challenge. I’m not surprised that Katharine Hepburn – who won Oscars, but “paid no heed to the awards system” – is one of Wilson’s heroines. “I love her. What a legend.” She didn’t play the Hollywood game? “No. And I’m useless at playing the game. I don’t want to play the game. Like, what game? What does that even mean? That’s my answer. I can’t. I physically can’t.”

— Charlotte Edwardes, ‘So many people don’t believe anything – only what makes them money’: Ruth Wilson on being a Hollywood outsider ‘ (The Guardian · May 6, 2023)

Walking. And walking. And walking.

So, here we are. 1095 consecutive (almost) days on this morning walk at Cove Island Park. Like in a row.

And but for Paul pointing it out yesterday, I would have missed this Large milestone. On May 5th, it was 3 years on this daily walk, I mean 3 years, I don’t even need to count the damn days. It’s been 3 years.

And it’s just like DK, not to ponder how he’s changed, what’s changed, and not to reflect upon all the good that’s come out of this….but to focus on the edges of some nonsense. Paul had to remind me. Can you believe that? I’m forgetting a lot of important sh*t, and don’t even know it.

Every 100 feet or so, my hand reaches for the camera, and then gently sets it back to rest on my shoulder. I’m seeing Nothing worthy. All I see, is Same. Been here. Saw that. Done that. Tired of that. Posted that. 1095 days, on the same track, what do you expect?

I walk.

Stewing. Tired. Dragggggging. Wally’s snoozing. Susan will be asleep for another 2 hours. And here I am traipsing around a worn out track.

Mary Louise Kelly’s Act III: “Act III is the one where it dawns on us that there may not be an infinite number of acts, that we’d best get on with making the most of this one. Which prompts a delightful, nerve-racking question or two: What now? What next?”

I walk. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

Photos from this morning’s walk @ Cove Island Park.  Moon over Cove Island Park photos here. And daybreak sunrise photos here.

The A-Team

Wally and our grand-dog Sully.

Our Frenchie Brothers.

Top image is a photo from March 5, 2023.

Bottom image is a wonderful painting by Carol Tamplin, commissioned by our great friend Jan.  What an amazing gift Jan! Thank you.

Of course we believe in fortune cookies.

Fortune Cookie Photo: Thank you Joan Perry. Thank you Ray for sharing. Pictures from this morning’s walk here.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Act III is the one I’m staring down now. I confess to a quiet fear that it will prove anticlimactic. How to top Acts I and II? When I stalk the stage slower and grayer every year? When surely all the juicy plot twists are behind me? And yet, friends, there’s this: The stage at last is ours. The script all ours to write. We do actually, kinda know what we’re doing by Act III. Better, we may still have the energy to get up there and do it. Then there’s the fact that we don’t have much choice about the matter. Act III is the one where it dawns on us that there may not be an infinite number of acts, that we’d best get on with making the most of this one. Which prompts a delightful, nerve-racking question or two: What now? What next?

Mary Louise Kelly, It. Goes. So. Fast.: The Year of No Do-Overs (Henry Holt and Co., April 11, 2023)

With gratitude, optimism is sustainable


What happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease…A question worth pondering with Michael J. Fox.

Watch entire video here on Youtube or here at CBS Sunday Morning.

Long Long Time Ago…

Mimi’s post dragged me down.  Then I stumbled into this video, and for a moment the darkness lifted.  How great is this…


BBC Radio 4 - Home Front - Olive Hargreaves

When you write something, it feels like you’re taking a bit of your brain out and letting other people look and judge – and hoping they won’t just be confused and mildly disgusted and ask you to pop it back into your skull, please.

— Rhiannon Neads, Why I quit Depression. I gave up believing depression had to be serious —  there’s humor even in the darkest moments. Neads is a British writer and actor. (The Guardian, April 26, 2023)

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