3 January 2017

Thinking Love: Valentine’s Day And Getaway Night

Thinking Love: Connie, Red and Maria

So it's about love, I guess. Love seems to be the point for me these days, for my life, for the blog, for my photographs, my therapy work, for my farm and my books. Even for my fractured country.  Love is the thread. I can't seem to go wrong going with love. This afternoon, a celebration of love.

I went and got some flowers for Maria – some lilies – to bring to our motel, a simple, $89 one night stand together in a simple old motel in nearby Vermont. Bringing nothing but two books, an earphone, a camera  and my beloved wife and partner. And a couple of lilies. No dogs, Ipad's, e-mails, messages or computer.

Love is thriving at the Mansion Assisted Care Facility, a new community in my life. Thanks to many of you, there are smiles all down the corridors of a place where there are sometimes too few smiles. Thanks to you, the spirit of Christmas shined. My hope is that we can do it again, keep love going on its holiday,

This year, Valentine's Day is February 14, a Tuesday. I hope we can show the residents of the Mansion that they are loved and known and cared for on that day by sending them cards and messages and any kind of modest gift that seems appropriate. Many of you have given plenty, and I hope no one will feel any pressure to do more.

But for those who are so inclined – I am in – that would be a nice way of extending the Christmas spirit past Christmas. The address of the Mansion is 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. The first names of the residents who wish to receive your messages and gifts are Jean A., Mary, Gerry, Sylvie, Diane, Alice, Jean G., Madeline, Joan, Allan, Carl, John K., Aileen, Christie, Helen, Connie, Alanna, Barbara, Peggie, William (Bill), Dennis, John R., Bruce, John Z.

I wondered a bit why I rented a motel room just a few minutes from our farm to be with Maria, when I am already with Maria right here. The answer, of course, is obvious. Love, this is becoming a theme of my work and life, and I celebrate and honor it by sharing a simple evening with the person I love and who loves me.

I have not known this kind of love in my life, it is a daily miracle, one I will never take for granted. So we spent a night together with our lilies, reading, talking loving and just being together. In the morning, we wake up and come home. Best bargain ever, and all for $89.  That is the beauty of just being alone together, without the distractions of life.

We both know every day together is a gift. See you tomorrow.

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Brooklyn In The Mist. Still, Some Magic.

Brooklyn In The Mist

Brooklyn is still a state of mind, for all of the growth and energy and money. Sooner or later, the corporate machine wrecks almost everything natural and beautiful, but the brownstones keep the magic somehow, they keep it alive.

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Grandfather Chronicles: The Little Magical Healer

Baby Power

My granddaughter Robin has altered my life, but not in the way I imagined. She can not speak and can barely sit up, yet she is a powerful creature, she is re-arranging the world around her, and my own troubled experience with family.

I do not much care to speak poorly of my own life. In a nation of victims, I do not wish to be a victim. My experience with family has been the tragedy of my life on several different levels, I grew up watching people I loved be destroyed by people who should have loved and nourished them, and barely hung on myself.

I am sorry about all of this, I know we all do the best we can for as long as we can. Everyone deserves clemency and empathy and compassion. I did my own destruction of family some years ago when I fled my unhappy life to come upstate and buy my first farm, and began the path to fulfillment and rebirth.

In the process, I left my first wife Paula, a very fine person and my spouse for 35 years behind, as well as my daughter Emma. Our divorce was awful and it was not simple for Emma. That, and the fact I was living a completely alien life 300 miles away pulled us apart.

Paula and I spend five years working out the divorce and afterwards, we lost contact with one another, as is quite common and sometimes quite healthy. You are either married or not. With a child it is complicated. Emma and I struggled with one another, but we never quit on each other, we kept trying.

I watched in awe as she put a good life together, balancing love and work with courage and heart. When I heard I was going to be a grandfather, I had, as you know, low expectations. Part of this was an acknowledgement of the emotional and geographic issues involved, part of it was wishing to protect myself – family has not ever been a source of nourishment and comfort for me.

Somehow, Robin the wizard has changed all of that. Of course, I do love her, but I am not into the gaga over the top grandkid worshiping thing. It has to happen naturally, cute only goes so far. But she has cast something of a magic spell. Emma and I talk all the time.

Last week, she paid to rent a beautiful apartment so Maria and I could come and visit her and Robin and Jay over the holidays. I got quite ill on the last day, food poisoning I think, but we had to leave very early to beat a snowstorm and I was concerned that we hadn't cleaned up the apartment as thoroughly as I wished, and I was embarrassed and regretful that I might have marred this generous gift.

Emma came up to the apartment after we were gone, cleaned it all up, made sure everything was okay, and never even mentioned this to me. No big deal, she said when I found out.

And Emma is very busy between her demanding job as an editor and a new baby. She didn't need to do that. Yet I am not all that surprised. We are at ease with one another again, as we once were, trusting and loving and engaged with one another, something I have wanted for a long time. The wounds of the flight and the divorce are finally healing, I think. Robin seems to have a magic wand.

Emma wants me to be involved and I think she also needs me to be involved.  She is working hard at it and so am I. Robin has enough on her plate, but perhaps she has healing powers, that is what her stare is about. I am appreciating being a grandfather, and not necessarily in the ways I expected.

Another healing thing.  Paula and I are in touch now also, I send her photos of Robin and we talk about what a great job Emma and Jay are doing. It is through e-mails and we are not looking to be best friends, but we care about one another, and we can and do share the joy of Emma and Robin, something very good that came out of our long marriage.

The circle turns, and Paula and I are in a good place again.

Maria is open to the experience, although she is in an odd position in many ways. She wants to be a part of it, and Emma and Jay want her to be a part of it. That will help greatly. It can't really work without her.

I have no illusions about being a grandfather, honestly. I am not being coy, it is not about loving Robin,  that's easy enough to do, it is about being realistic. I will not likely be around when Robin gets old enough to really know me well and there are real geographic and emotional obstacles to being close to my granddaughter.

It would be foolish of me not to see that.  Sometimes, there are good reasons to be wary.

I think she will love the farm once she gets up here, the donkeys are waiting for her, and so are the dogs. The people too.

Still, much has already changed, and Robin can't even walk or talk She is a powerful baby, already helping to heal deep wounds I thought would never stop bleeding.

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Pitchfork Grace. Windowsill Gallery

Pitchfork Grace

Every morning, I take the pitchfork in the barn and I collect the hay that spills onto the ground every morning when we cut the baling wire and separate leaves to bring out to the animals. This morning, I leaned the pitchfork against the window briefly and was struck by the grace and simplicity and timelessness of the pitchfork.

I put the hay aside and grabbed the camera. A study in grace, in the barn's own Windowsill Gallery.

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Holiday Experiment: One Night Stand, Tonight.

Artist Hands: One Day Stand

I love watching Maria's hands fly across the baling string as she assembles her second, and as yet unnamed Fiber Chair. Creativity is all over Maria's life, and she has found a way to take our baling string, which binds the hay, and an old abandoned chair, and turn both into art.

It is a lovely thing to watch each morning. Tonight, we head out for our one-night stand, part of our never-ending efforts to figure out the holidays. I've rented a cheap motel room in a nearby Vermont town and we are going out there around 4 p.m. to spend one night. I'm bringing two books.

There is a diner nearby where we will have dinner and then we'll come home in the morning, perhaps stopping for pancakes if we leave early enough. The strange thing is that the motel is so close to the farm, we are hardly going anywhere. It just feels like fun. I'm taking the monochrome camera and two books – Moonglow by Michael Chabon, a beautifully written novel, I have only 40 pages to go. Then I'll plunge into A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles (Rules Of Civility).

I don't really know why I had this idea, Maria is always trying to lure me into sleazy motels, even at my advanced age. I just thought it would be a cheap ($89 for the night) and fun way to spend a night, to close out our holiday season. We enjoyed it. I have a feeling we will have a lot of fun. We usually do.

I'll be back at my computer tomorrow morning as usual, and her writing all day today.

The key to the holidays for us is simplicity, peacefulness and the near total avoidance of family. There was some family for us this  year and it was fun. Maria saw her mother and sister and enjoyed both visits and I had a great time visiting my daughter and granddaughter, Robin is revising my notions of family, and the experience has brought Emma and myself very close together, which is a wonderful gift.

So maybe  the wheel is turning a bit again.Family is one of those problems that are never really solved, we just keep trying.

Yesterday, Maria made three beautiful scarves – we put up a YouTube video – and she sold all of them in minutes. We are learning to be creative about selling as well as our art. Maria's India trip is about six weeks away, and it is beginning to loom large for both of us.

We are trawling online for the things she might need – we ordered a neat Sling Bag from L.L. Bean yesterday. She is getting nervous, having a tooth pulled Thursday to make sure there are no dental problems in Calcutta. Soon, time to get a visa.  She is very excited about going, I am am thinking about my two weeks alone on the farm in February. Absent raging blizzards, I'll be fine, lots to do and keep track of and I will miss Maria.

But that is overshadowed by the wonder of the trip. I am so proud of her. Going to India will change her life, I am certain of it.

It is such a great opportunity for her and the women she will help. All good.

So anyway, this is the one night stand, perhaps our last excursion before Maria takes the big one.

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