when the decorations come down from the attic, time goes both ways at once

Every year when the decorations come down from the attic, time goes both ways at once…

All day long I’m surrounded by reminders of nearly a quarter-century in this house. Who I am and who I’ve been, and who everyone else I love has been…

Then the Christmas boxes come down from the attic, and time extends backward even further, beyond this house, and forward to a future in which the broadest outlines are already clear though the details are still unknown. Getting down the Christmas decorations is always a reminder of eternity, that unfamiliar space where past and present and future exist simultaneously — a space I can enter, even figuratively, only at Christmastime.

Here is the ornament in the shape of a baseball player from my husband’s boyhood years. Here is the little felt-covered drum my mother helped me make from a paper-towel roll. Here are the blown-egg ornaments my high school Secret Santa left in my locker and the gold-and-silver Benson & Hedges box a college friend hung on the tree in my first college apartment. Here are the metal lapel pins that proved I’d paid for admission at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the only “decorations” I could scrounge up when I was in graduate school. Here are the twisted-tin icicles my husband and I bought at a craft fair the year before we got married, already looking ahead to our own first tree. Here’s the little marionette Santa my mother-in-law won as a door prize at a Parkinson’s support group just before what turned out to be her last Christmas.

Most precious of all are the homemade ornaments from my children’s preschool years: messy, often unrecognizable figures — is that an archangel or Medusa? Rudolph or Popsicle-stick conceptual art? We hang them on the tree every year, ugly as some of them indisputably are. They remind my husband and me of that brief time in our family’s life when there was still someone at home small enough to jump up and down, clapping with glee, when the Christmas tree lights came on for the first time, even if it was only a test and the lights were spread out across the floor or still tangled together at the bottom of a cardboard box…

Last year when I packed up the Christmas decorations, I set aside our oldest son’s homemade ornaments in a separate box. He is on his own now, and I know the day is coming when he will have his own tree to decorate, his own holiday traditions to establish. He didn’t put up a tree this year, so his father and I are still keeping them safe, but we are also ready for whatever comes next.

For now those ornaments are back in their old familiar places, hanging alongside all the other reminders that the people who are gone from us are never truly gone, that the little boys hopping up and down with excitement are still somewhere inside the grown men who can set that homely angel in her place at the top of the tree without even straining to reach.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “The Christmas Time Capsule” (The New York Times, December 24, 2018)
 

Photo Credit

Running. With *$!# Management.

6:58 a.m.

First day of Winter. Temperature: 61° F. Repeat: 61° F, on December 21st. Paradoxical? Global Warming? Heti whispers: “Not everything has to be so heavy all the time.” Whoa Sheila, try walking with me in this Head for a few yards.

I step on the scale anticipating a bad outcome…and expectations are exceeded on the high side. Now Sheila, here’s some real Heavy.

Rain patters on the roof, bangin’ on the gutters. I flip open the Dark Sky app…it’s calling for heavy rain for the next two hours. 

“Severe weather alert: Coastal Flooding.”

Well, maybe that might work – a flash flood to drag me along the highway, scrubbing the cheese, gingerbread cookies and peppermint chocolate gelato off these bones, and cleanse me of this mood while it’s at it.

I pause as I put on my sneakers. Maybe it’s best to wait for the rain to let up, and run later. Who are you kidding? Get your a** out the door.

I’m out the door. I run. With Me (M), and me (m).

M: What’s with the mood?

m: I don’t want to get into it.

M: Blog title? Anger management? Angry about what? 

m: Hard of hearing? Pick a topic. I’ll find an angle.

M: Root cause? [Read more…]

TGIF: Wait, wait, shiver, delight.


Snoopy skating through Columbus Circle in 1987.  In 2018, it was nearly 100 Years for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a Children’s Pilgrimage of Wonder. Wait, wait, shiver, delight. (Photo by Sara Krulwich / The New York Times)

I love the dawn stillness (on Thanksgiving Day)

light-night-house-family

Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Notes: Photo: Mennyfox55

Thanksgiving?

starvation

Saleh Hassan al-Faqeh holds the hand of his four-month-old daughter, Hajar, who died of malnutrition at the al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, Nov. 15, 2018.  “She was like skin on bones, her body was emaciated,” he said.  Hajar was one of thousands of Yemeni children suffering from malnutrition in a country that has been pushed to the brink of famine by more than three years of war.  (Source: Father mourns baby who died of starvation in Yemen, ABC News, November 15, 2018)


Who can imagine hunger who has never experienced it, even for one day?

~ May Sarton, The House by the Sea: A Journal

Monday Morning: Breakfast!


Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection. Prince joins children at the Leytonstone Children’s Home for afternoon tea. The dog was given to the home by the R.S.P.C.A. November 1, 1932. (via newthom)

Does it move me?

When I look at a work of art I ask myself: does it inspire me, does it touch and move me, do I learn something from it, does it startle or amaze me…do I get excited, upset? That is the test any artwork has to pass: can it create an emotional impact on a human being even when he has no education or any information about art? I’ve always had a problem with art that you can only understand if you have a degree in art history, and I have a problem with theories. Most of them are bullshit anyway. Real art is intense, enchanting, exciting and unsettling; it has a quality and magic that you cannot explain. Art is not logic, and if you want to experience it, your mind and rational thinking will be of little help. Art is something…that you can only experience with your senses, your heart, your soul.

Gottfried Helnwein, from “Interview with Gottfried Helnwein“.

Helnwein, 69, is a visual artist who lives and works in Ireland and Los Angeles. He has worked as a painter, draftsman, photographer, muralist, sculptor, installation and performance artist. His work is concerned primarily with psychological and sociological anxiety, historical issues and political topics. His subject matter is the human condition. The metaphor for his art is dominated by the image of the child, particularly the wounded child, scarred physically and emotionally from within.


Notes: Art by Gottfried Helnwein on Pinterest by Rocio Jarabo 1; Quote via TheMindMovement.

 

Walking. Solus, with the Light-House.

It was a week ago. An otherwise unforgettable day, but for a moment, a single firefly with its other worldly bioluminescence, which keeps circling back.

“Do you want a ride home?”

It’s a short walk home from the train station, ~2000 steps. One hour in the quiet car on Metro North didn’t quench it, the thirst for more solitude, more Alone, more decompression. I walk.

The torso leans forward, the feet step one-two-one-two.  Lean forward? A tip from a Youtube fitness coach who explained that it propels you forward. So I lean forward. If he told you to hop on your right foot and rub your stomach round and round with your left hand, you’d do it.

It’s humid. God, it’s Humid. Torso leans forward, thick air pushes back, slowing forward motion. Thunderheads build in the distance.

The neck tie is in my brief case. The slim fit button down shirt soaks up the sweat on back, arms and neck.

Black leather lace-ups wrap tighter and tighter, and pump like pistons (up, down, up, down) – a squishy, pus filled blister, like the thunderheads, is ready to explode. Humidity. Sweat. Blister.  It’s a scene out of Beau Taplin’s “Run Freely“: “Human beings are made of water. We were not designed to hold ourselves together, rather run freely like oceans, like rivers.[Read more…]

Growing Up (60 sec.)

Not yet. Not yet.

Bring out the tissue box…

Walking. O say can you see by the dawn’s early light.

Olson_4_little_boy_border_agent

Dallas, TX.

Wednesday. 4:05 am. Pre-Dawn.

It’s sticky, the air is heavy, rain showers are imminent.

I’m walking from an outbuilding to the lobby to pick up an Uber to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. I’m on the first flight back to New York.

Two bodies are framed in their silhouettes. They stand under a street lamp filling a work cart with garden tools. They stop talking, watch me approach and offer a “Good morning Sir” with full smiles and broken English.

Of Mexican origin.

I approach the front desk. Martina is the tag on her lapel. “How was your stay Sir?” She doesn’t break eye contact. Customer Service coach whispering in her ear during orientation, be confident, you belong.

Of Haitian or DR origin. [Read more…]

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