Tuesday Morning Meditation


My first attempt @ video. Far from awesome, but that won’t distract from the beauty of these Atlantic Brants. I’m smitten.  Cove Island Park @ Daybreak on Sunday.

SUPER MOON!


Eric Kanigan photographs of “Super Flower Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse” on May 15, 2022 @ following time intervals: 10:34 pm, 10:40, 10:46, 10:56, 11:00, 11:07, 11:14, 11:19, 11:34 pm.  Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  (Eric Kanigan Photography)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Where to go from here?

—  Delia Ephron, Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life: A Memoir (Little, Brown and Company. April 12, 2022)


Notes:

Walking. Sunday Morning. DK Saves.

Let’s just get to the punch line of this story. (Oh, btw, it’s 724 consecutive (almost) days on my Daybreak walk at Cove Island Park. Like in a Row.)

There it lay.  At the end of my walk. An Atlantic Horseshoe Crab. Flat on its back. Nothing delicate or beautiful about this alien-looking thing. I’m sure its Mother loved it.

Its Telson was slapping back and forth. (Telson = Tail.  And of course I didn’t know that it was called a Telson. Googled it.) Creature was caught way up on the beach, tide shot out, and here we are. In Deep Shit. And you thought you were having a bad day?

I’m staring at the Telson (and yes, I’m going to keep repeating Telson like some career Marine Biologist)…and I’m wondering if its Telson carries electrical current. Or like a skunk, backs up its ass and spews sulfuric sh*t all over my camera gear.  Or like a Cephalopod, shoots ink all over me, seeping into my skin, and poisons me.

Stamford Daily reports: “Idiot found dead on Cove Island Beach trying to save Horseshoe Crab. Good News though, his death wasn’t for naught. It was notable that he was found flat on his back, like the Horseshoe Crab he was trying to save – – his mouth wide open, teeth blackened with Cephalopod ink, with his arms straight up in the air, because no matter what, the camera gear needed to remain undamaged.

Per NatGeo, Horseshoe Crabs have been around for 450 million years. And here I am, Human, around an eye twitch of that time, trying to assess the probability of being electrocuted or poisoned.  I could have pulled out my smartphone and Googled it to be sure…but this gives you a full measure of this man…not a lot of depth, prefers to let the mystery of life and its currents drag him along to the finish. And ‘hopefully’ that Finish isn’t this morning.

So, there I am. Staring down on Horsey.  His limbs and Telson desperately seeking salvation. [Read more…]

this delicate painting will endure

On the shelf in my studio in Bloomsbury are four postcards of paintings that I love: The Blue Rigi, Sunrise by J.M.W. Turner; Stonehenge, a watercolour by John Constable; Self-Portrait by Rembrandt, dated 1658; and The Convalescent by Gwen John.

Just one look at this reproduction of Gwen John’s painting and my breathing becomes easier. The whole composition is a symphony in grey. She must have mixed the colours on her palette first—Payne’s Grey, Prussian Blue, Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Brown Ochre, Rose Madder, Flake White—then all the other colours would be dipped in this combination so that every form is united in grey: the dark blue of the girl’s dress, the thrush-egg blue of the cushion behind her back and the tablecloth, the rose pink of the cup and saucer echoing the delicate pink of her fingernails and lips, the teapot like a shiny chestnut. The wall behind her is flecked with mustard-coloured dots placed randomly and precisely, as marks in nature always are, like the speckles on an egg. The painting is as fragile and robust as an egg—the structure of the composition holds everything in place; this delicate painting will endure.

Gwen John instructs the model to loosen her hair and part it in the middle. She wants the model to resemble her. Before Gwen starts the painting, she positions herself in the wicker chair and tells her model that she must sit in exactly the same pose. Gwen lowers her eyes and holds a small piece of paper in her hands. She is completely still, and her stillness pervades the space around her. The room becomes silent. The model now copies Gwen; she looks down at her hands, and she doesn’t look up until she has heard that Gwen approves.

—  Celia Paul, Letters to Gwen John (New York Review of Books, April 26, 2022)

Walking. With Apophenia.

56° F. Heavy fog.

Daybreak walk at Cove Island Park.  723 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a row.

I’ve finished Amy Liptrot’s book “The Instant.”  A book where I wasn’t feeling it, not feeling it, nothing here, time to put this down, wait now, here’s a line, and now two, and then down the chute we go on the luge track.  Reminds me of a tweet by Tracie Collier after reading “Bomb Shelter” by Mary Laura Philpott: “She writes in a way that makes me want to hurl my laptop over a cliff.”

Back to Liptrot.  Who knew that I had Apophenia. Well, hold on. It’s not even clear that I’m adept at Apophenia. I’m probably better assessed by a psychologist (if I had one), as a lame, half-assed Apopheniac.  But we digress.  Here’s Liptrot:

Apophenia is the tendency to find patterns. It can be a disorder but, for me, finding patterns is sustaining. Unbidden, certain objects glow with relevance. I find the moon everywhere. This heart-shaped box contains not just a few shells but all the weeks and conversations and regrets of a friendship. We are meaning-making machines. I use all these little personal myths and totems to hold myself together: things to search for when I’m faced with overwhelming choice and freedom.

I use all these little totems to (try to) hold myself together. Yep. About right.

I’ve turned right at the Park, walking counterclockwise. Noting that I’m walking counterclockwise. Again. Did you know that you always walk counterclockwise around the park?  723 days, and you walk in the same direction every time.

I keep walking.

Have you ever seen anyone else walking clockwise in the park?  Come to think of it I have not.  Not one time? Not one time. Maybe because you are a half-assed Apopheniac.

I stop walking. [Read more…]

Walking. Could it be this moment…Could it be…?

55° F.

Soft breeze, a kiss on the cheek. Clouds heavy, but quiet.

Here we are (again), on our daybreak walk at Cove Island Park.  722 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a row.

We’re semi-functioning on 4 hours sleep, maxI can’t sleep.  Near-Dead Man Walking.

I’m at the highest point on the Island, overlooking the expanse of the Sound.

And there it was.

Lori’s Large word: ethereal…So delicate. So light. Lightly Child, Lightly.

“…a light that could be a feeling…”

And the beat of those wings, thrumming inside of me.

“…a sound could be a color”

I’m frozen, eyes locked on the wings…Get the damn camera up Man, get it up!

“…and that heaven could be…this moment…”

Now!

You’re going to remember this…


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Cove Island Park, 5:42 a.m. May 12, 2022. More photos from this morning here.
  • Quote: “I hadn’t known that a light could be a feeling and a sound could be a color and a kiss could be both a question and an answer. And that heaven could be the ocean or a person or this moment or something else entirely.” —  Megan MirandaFracture. (Walker Childrens; January 17, 2012) 

Lightly Child, Lightly


I hadn’t known that a light could be a feeling and a sound could be a color and a kiss could be both a question and an answer.

And that heaven could be the ocean or a person or this moment or something else entirely.

—  Megan Miranda, Fracture. (Walker Childrens; January 17, 2012) 


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you The Vale of Soul-Making)
  • Photo: DK, Cove Island Park, May 6, 2022 @ Twilight. 5:19 am.  More photos from that morning here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Some days, only Peanuts is the answer…


Source: aevie

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

It seems selfish to talk about such a mundane breaking apart in a world where real wreckage lies scattered everywhere. Instead, I try to carry the sadness around quietly, so as not to take up too much air with it, to leave space for the far more significant sadnesses of others. How do we appropriately mourn the passage of time when it’s passing beautifully, safely, but not for everyone? And how do we honor milestones that happen while we aren’t looking? The first toddling steps, taken at home with the sitter while we’re at work, or the first baby tooth, lost at preschool. The last time we saw someone, not knowing it was the last. All I know to do is acknowledge the fortune of having milestones to celebrate at all. I can celebrate people whose accomplishments mark time in my own life. I can accept that firsts and lasts are both glorious and breathtakingly sad, especially when they sneak up on us. I can watch and listen for losses I can do something about, and then I can stand by someone’s side, make a phone call, give my time, cast a vote—anything I can do, as often as possible—to try to make sure fewer parents suffer the unthinkable, that more people will bear only the most ordinary losses. And I can try to contain my emotions when they hit me like a wave in public, the way they did that late-summer afternoon while shopping for peaches. If you happen to catch me moping while gazing upon my firstborn’s favorite food, know that I’m pulling myself together. Really, I am. I’ve just slipped for a second into my own tiny, self-indulgent grief. And if you, too, are thinking, I thought I had more time, for any reason—a loss large or small or so eclipsed by refracted rays of joy that you’re ashamed to call it a loss at all—come stand quietly by the fruit with me. We don’t even have to talk, unless… well, would you mind telling me to turn my oven off? It’s so easy to miss the moment when things begin to burn.

— Mary Laura PhilpottBomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives (Atria Books, April 12, 2022)


Notes:

When I Went Away From the World

There’s no doubt I’m a Fan-Boy of Rachel Cusk, the British-Canadian novelist. I’ve read everything she’s published. And would likely dig through her trash to read her innermost, unpublished thoughts. (Now that’s getting creepy.) (And what a coincidence to be reading through the week’s papers to trip into this article with Spouse & #1 Son visiting the Greek Islands.)

Cusk has done it again with “When I Went Away From the World,” an essay in the NY Times Magazine, where she goes away to the Greek Islands on a commission to write an essay about marble.  The entire essay is worth reading but here’s a few nuggets.


…At another time I’m not sure I would have chosen to approach so cold and formal a subject. I tried not to see it as my duty to explain things to people, and nor did I want to become a copy-maker myself, since I was sure marble had been written about already in every conceivable way. I believed that everything could and should be understood by means of self-examination, but my self was tired and discouraged…

…We currently have a poor appetite for living, a result of being force-fed with experiences that have not agreed with us…”

…My addiction to incessant moving, bequeathed to me by my restless, discontented parents, had started to appear to me not as a matter for reconciliation and recovery, nor even as a panorama of losses, but as the steady accretion of some much greater entity, a dark growth inside me to which I had never been and would never be reconciled. Whatever it was — a debt or a disease or a fault line — this entity seemed to have arisen out of a fundamental disjuncture between appearance and reality that, I increasingly saw, had been allowed to eat out the heart of my life. I had made one home after another as a ship might frantically try to weigh its anchor in a storm — yet what was this storm that I alone was embroiled in?…

“…Marble, the metamorphic rock, embodied for me a dark paradox: It is change that produces changelessness. I had begun to read about the process of its formation, its subjection over epochal time to unrelenting heat and pressure where it lay buried in the earth, until finally the stone generated a response, recrystallizing and becoming more durable. An alteration of character occurred, a metamorphosis that was a reaction to extremes. A result was a loss of fallibility, of weakness. One might almost have said that the rock’s sufferings, its experience, had brought about its immortality. It was tempting to translate this notion into a metaphor for human development, except that the hardening of age felt so much like a move into powerlessness. With the feeling of increasing and unavoidable stasis, the power of change receded, to be replaced by a sort of helplessness before the facts. At a certain point the past becomes larger than the future, and its inalterability perhaps comes as a shock, because to be embroiled in living, in formation, is to forget the hard outcome of reality…”

“In the bars and cafes, groups of red-faced men and women sat drinking beer in the fierce sun. Smartly dressed young couples consulted one another across their tables in murmurs or sat in silence, looking at their phones. Older couples, sated with knowledge, surveyed their surroundings as though some challenge from outside to their choices and decisions might present itself at any moment. Flocks of shrieking delirious teenagers moved hilariously from one place to another, settling and then taking off again into the distance. The threads of association were almost visible, a net in the blue air, the way humans related to one another and clung to that relation or were fettered by it, their belief in themselves and one another, how hard it was in that state to remember that you could be dispassionately observed, that your world could be swept away in an instant. Their happiness was faintly astonishing…


Portrait by Laura Pannack, Time Magazine.

Gökotta

Gökotta (n., Swed.)

“a dawn picnic to hear the first birdsong”; the act of rising in the early morning to watch the birds or to go outside to appreciate nature.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK – (Wet) Baby Blue Jay.  6:50 a.m., May 7, 2022. 50° F & Rain
  • Quote: Thank you The Hammock Papers

We create worlds

We create worlds. As soon as you decide to project your misery onto someone else, you start building a grudge world. Every time you visit it, you lay another brick. I think some people build grudges up in such detail that their grudge worlds become too big and too real. They stop living in the actual world and begin living full-time in a universe built by resentment and anger. The grudge turns into something dark and obsessive. And when a person confuses a grudge with a real problem, they may start making real-world decisions using grudge-world logic. They think they really hate people they don’t even know. I don’t want to do that. I play around sometimes in these made-up worlds, in which I cast myself as a hero and a snippy person at a party as a villain. The conflict I imagine between us stands in for how mad I am about so many things I can’t do anything about. But I think I would prefer to live here, in reality.

Lightly Child, Lightly

The wonder of a moment in which there is nothing but an upwelling of simple happiness is utterly awesome. Gratitude is so close to the bone of life, pure and true, that it instantly stops the rational mind, and all its planning and plotting. That kind of let go is fiercely threatening. I mean, where might such gratitude end?


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels)
  • Photo: Debby Hudson @ Fort Lauderdale, FL. (via unsplash)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Crisis? Go Watch the Rain for 10 minutes.

It rained one morning this week. I moved back to Texas last year, in part for the rainstorms. Here, it rains decisively, gloriously, like it really means it. It explodes, pounds, roars, thunders and then, suddenly, moves on. I stepped on my back porch, not wanting to miss the show.

I sat, silent, smelling that indescribable rain scent and stretching out my hands, palms open in supplication, the same position I use in church to receive communion. The physicality of the experience, the sensual joy of sounds, smells, touch and sight, was profoundly humanizing. In a very real way, I am made for that. I am made to notice the rain. I’m made to love it.

But digitization is changing our relationship with materiality — both the world of nature and of human relationships. We are trained through technology (and technology corporations) to spend more time on screens and less time noticing and interacting with this touchable, smellable, feelable world. Social media in particular trains us to notice that which is large, loud, urgent, trending and distant, and to therefore miss the small, quiet importance of our proximate and limited, embodied lives…

Both Richtel’s article and another article released the same week by The Times highlight the emerging trend of people having romantic relationships with fictional characters, rather than human beings. There is evidence that teenagers are consuming more pornography, even as fewer are having sex. In a piece for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson highlights the growing concern that screen habits are displacing beneficial experiences for kids, noting that compared with the early 2000s, teenagers are less likely to “go out with their friends, get their driver’s license or play youth sports.” They are also less likely to get enough sleep.

“Children today spend less time outdoors than any other generation,” the National Recreation and Park Association reports, “devoting only four to seven minutes to unstructured outdoor play per day while spending an average of seven and a half hours in front of electronic media.” I realized recently that I can identify more apps by sight than species of trees.

We are made to enjoy the physical presence of other human beings. We are made to enjoy rainstorms or sunshine or walks in the woods. We are made to enjoy touchable things. We cannot escape or overcome this need through technology. Our attempts to do so go against the grain of our deepest human needs and longings…

In the same way, I think we are finding that there is something essential and mysterious — dare I say, holy — about human beings interacting in person and with the natural world that simply cannot be replicated in virtual reality.

So what do we do? In his book “Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing,” Andy Crouch writes, “Perhaps the two best beginning moves, for those of us swaddled in affluence and intoxicated by our technology, are into the natural world — the world of stars, snow and rain, trees and deserts — and into the relational world — the world of real bodies and heartbeats, hands and faces.”

Just as people have worked to revive slow, unprocessed and traditional food, we need to fight for the tangible world, for enduring ways of interacting with others, for holism. We need to reconnect with material things: nature, soil, our bodies and other people in real life. This doesn’t necessarily have to be big and dramatic. We don’t have to hurl our computers into the sea en masse.

But we do have to intentionally resist the siren song of digitization, which by and large promises far more than it can deliver. We have to be cautious and wise about introducing devices into our lives that fundamentally change how humans have interacted since time immemorial. We have to plunge ourselves primarily into the natural world and embodied human relationships, with all the complexity, challenges, inconvenience and pain that entails.

Go watch the rain for 10 minutes. Go on a walk with a friend. Get off social media and meet one neighbor. Keep your kids offline. Put your hands in the dirt. Play an instrument instead of a video game. Turn off your smartphone and have dinner with people around a table. Search for beauty and goodness in the material world, and there, find joy. The way back to ourselves, as individuals and a society, runs through old, earthy things.

Tish Harrison Warren, from “We’re in a Loneliness Crisis: Another Reason to Get Off Our Phones” (NY Times, May 1, 2022). Warren is an Anglican priest reflects on matters of faith in private life and public discourse.


Photo: Ahmed Nishaath of Manipal Lake, Udpi, India via Unsplash.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Sometimes I don’t know how any of us go on. Sometimes I fear there’s no way our species will survive our own self-destructive choices. Sometimes I feel so I gut punched by the backward deal of the universe — that if you’re really lucky, you get people in your life to love, and then, over time, they will all either leave you or die — that I am angry at life. Actually, not sometimes. Always. I always feel that way. I don’t always actively think about it, but it’s in there.

At the same time, I am always looking for some gratitude, warmth, or hope. I often have to really search for it, but when I see something that makes me feel joy — even just a tiny odd hardly anything — you’re damn right I applaud it. Way to go, adorable cat on a leash! Thank you, server who brought my hot pizza! Kudos, writers of a TV show that made me laugh! Hallelujah, sunshine after a week of storms! Yay for good hair day, yippee for hot coffee, huzzah for an outfit that puts bounce in my step.

If I can scrape up some evidence of a thing made beautifully or a gesture made kindly, then can believe, for a few seconds, that this world is careful and kind. And if I can believe that, I can believe it is safe to let the people I love walk around out there. It’s my own attempt at foresparkling, seeking out hints of good, even planting them myself, so I can believe there’s more good to come. It might all be superstition, just mental magic, but why not try?

So I say yes for things that offer some pleasure. Yes for people who choose to be friendly. Yes for any glimmer of light through all the darkness. I mean that yes. I need it. Seriously.

Mary Laura Philpott, Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives (Atria Books, April 12, 2022)


Notes: Book Review NY Times: Is it Possible to Body-Block Our Loved Ones from Pain? Alas, No.  The Washington Post: Worry much? You’ll relate to Mary Laura Philpott’s book.

Walking @ Daybreak. With Shooting Stars.

You know the drill.  Morning walk @ Daybreak.  Cove Island Park. 725 consecutive days (almost like in a row).

It started about 4 days ago.  I’d climb out of the car.  I’d walk ~100 yards and there it goes.

Left eye would flicker.  No, it was closer to a camera flash.

Click.

Pause.

Click.

Pause.

Click.

And this would continue on for 15-20 minutes.

And it’s left eye, not the right, the right being subject to serious injury with back story here: “I need to read.” Which led to the following complications @ “Damn Well Need to See” and ‘No More Tears. Here’s to Good Outcomes.” And “Muro 128.”

So, I’m a bit rattled.  One eye at half-mast is serious.  Two eyes down, now that’s……..unthinkable. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

I love going on walks by myself. No pressure to keep up conversation. And there is something about movement that helps me think. To charge an idea with the body’s inertia. To carry a feeling through the distance and watch it grow.

—  Ocean Vuong, The Weight of Our Living: On Hope, Fire Escapes, and Visible Desperation (therumpus.net, August 24, 2014)


Photo: Daybreak. 5:49 a.m., April 30, 2022. 41° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from this morning here.

Gazing at the ‘Black Sun’


Gazing at the ‘Black Sun’: The Transfixing Beauty of Starling Murmurations (NY Times, April 4, 2022)

Each spring and autumn, the skies in southern Denmark come to life with the swirling displays of hundreds of thousands of starlings, an event known locally as “sort sol.”

Don’t miss photos and article here.


Thank you Susan.

723 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a row. And the Eagle has landed.

Daybreak walk at Cove Island Park.  723 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a row.  And the Bald Eagle has landed.  Picture quality: Blah. No zoom lens. But we’ll take it!

First live spotting in my lifetime. 6:16 am. 40° F, feels like 31° F.  Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. April 28, 2022.  (Backstory: Walking. When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.)

%d bloggers like this: