Category Archives: Explorer of the World
This August, my husband started a tradition that will live on forever. Instead of buying “stuff” for my birthday, we started bringing our picnic dinner to the beach at 4 pm every day and enjoyed the quiet, afternoon sun at WoodNeck. We extended our respite through sunset–and that was something else.
Every day we saw the sun go down at a slightly different time and often in a dramatically different way. Sometimes it was a hot ball of fire slowly slipping through a cloudless horizon. Other times, the clouds filtered reflections creating a light and color show that was exquisite and exciting. The “after sunset show” was so often a surprising, exhilarating encore. We soaked it all up. It was joyful– and it’s not over. We repeated this ritual every day, not only through August, but through September and now in October when it’s not too cold or windy.
Truth be told, a few days ago we did bundle up with sweat pants, woolen socks, hats, finger-less mittens and ate grilled swordfish on top of salad and warm rice. A bottle of red wine and a thermos of hot coffee were at hand. I can see us doing this for a very long time… maybe not every day… but it will happen again soon, and it will be grand! Here are just a few snapshots that capture a small part of the magic.
On August 10, 2015 I will be celebrating my 63rd birthday. That’s half way to 126 years, in case you’re wondering. Here are the most important lessons I learned this past year. Some were biggies and some were small potatoes.
1. Teaching three yoga classes a week and practicing every day is very good for me: mind and body.
2. Learning to “Let it Go” is hard work and worth it. As a Catholic school kid, I never let anything go. In fact, I’m really good at still holding on tight to some perfection garbage. This year it was time to delete bothersome junk from my head. Amen.
3. Staying connected to a few, good, soulmate-friends is better than having a long list of half-assed ones. I’m finding that I am losing patience with the daily drama/soap opera and blather that can be ever present, if I let it. Gone, baby, gone!
4. Decluttering and simplifying is harder than I thought. Through the past 12 months I’ve worked to get rid of stuff that doesn’t make me happy and isn’t useful. I’m learning that I don’t have to have a stockpile in order to have what I need. My excesses are most obvious with my books, yarn, fabric and to-do lists! So I’m learning to consistently use the library instead of buying books (unless I really love the book). I’m also learning to work with the fiber I have already bought. So often I go through my stash and realize, this is really good stuff. I should buy this— oh wait— I already did! It has felt good to use what I have, make something beautiful and then enjoy wearing it.
5. I learned that serious medical stuff is wicked scary. A mark on my vaccination ended up being melanoma, and surgery took care of it. It’s one of those, “Hey, I never noticed that” situations— even though I thought I was alert and conscientious about skin cancer. So now I’m learning to be hyper-vigilant but not neurotic about it. I don’t go to the beach until after 4 PM, I’m lathered up with great smelling sunscreen, and I wear a silly, big brimmed hat.
6. Writing is rewriting. I’m working on a couple of writing projects and hear my words as a professor echoing off these walls. Fewer thoughtfully chosen words are better than volumes of babble. Each sentence needs to do something meaningful— not just take up space on the page. Every revision teaches me something new— and I like that.
7. Short lists are better than long lists, which is why I’m so proud of myself at ending this at number seven and not feeling obliged to go to ten!!!
Hope this coming year is the best year yet. I bet it will be. Cheers to all.
We start this day with a morning walk to WoodNeck Beach– always a wise decision. The weather is perfect, the birds are singing, and there is always so much to quietly observe. Daisies grow so much better along the path than in my garden. Waterlilies float on the marsh, not close enough to photograph, but beautiful to see. Sandalwood and honeysuckle fragrance waft in the salty breeze. The poison ivy is bushy and shiny– it almost looks pretty– until you think about it a bit more. Sand crabs dig perfectly circular holes leaving lumpy trails of debris behind. The beach is empty and beautiful with the tide going out and the damp sand is easy to walk on. A few sun salutations are in order. Then we walk into a plover family: mama, dad, and four little ones just born yesterday. They scamper on the sand and are uninterrupted by man or beast. In 26 days, they will be gone. The little ones learn to feed themselves and who knows which ones will return next year. The lifeguard chair is turned on its side still, but it won’t be long before more folks arrive and soak up the rays, play in the sand and go for a swim.
It has been a long winter. Mother Nature sure did show her strength, endurance and beauty. But it is now Spring here on Cape Cod, and I’m loving every second of it. These photos were taken at Spohr’s Garden. Usually a zillion daffodils are in bloom by this time of year. Not so this year. No complaints here!
It has been 45 years since I was a freshman at UNH. That’s a long time! This past week, a visit to the campus was a welcome opportunity to relive the past and celebrate the present. David (class of 1970) and I spent two days roaming around campus. Some things stayed miraculously the same: the crisp white snow, clean sidewalks, many of the brick buildings and extremely friendly students all bundled up coming and going to classes. My dorm, McLaughlin, notoriously nicknamed “Virgin Hill” is still intact, and we even got to see the door of my old room, now adorned with someone else’s bulletin board and boots parked in the hallway. It is no longer an all female dorm; each floor is half male and half female. The pay phone in the hallway is gone, and the common room still has a huge piano and someone playing a guitar. The cute round window that I used to wave to David at 11 pm when parietal hours were over, and he had to leave, was where we left it. Needless to say, there are no parietal hours now!
When we were on campus in 1970, we studied in the Physics Library at Demeritt Hall; it was a quiet, quaint place to put our noses in books. How I looked forward to revisiting that old, beautiful building with wide, wooden board floors, tall windows, little cubbies and the smell of old books. We were saddened to see that old Demeritt Hall is gone and buried, and a new, modern building is in its place bearing the same name. It’s a gorgeous building, and we ended up being pleasantly surprised that there are enough students now interested in physics to warrant such a stunning facility. David’s graduating class in the physics department tallied less than a dozen.
The building that housed most of my English classes, Hamilton Smith, is standing strong with a few favorite classrooms still as I remember them. Ahhhh… tradition! The cafeteria we most often ate at, Stillings, exists, but the food is significantly different. I remember turkey tetrazini that looked like old string mops and slop. Today’s menu was more appealing than many restaurants. The piece de resistance on campus is the new student union, complete with a dining room that rivals any high end food court or Club Med facility. Every type of food, prepared a zillion ways, with all kinds of alternatives and nutritional information is readily available. Desserts were to die for–they even had a constant supply of warm cookies, right out of the oven.
A huge new business school/college fills what used to be empty space and seems to be one of the busiest buildings on campus. A serious network of buses provide transportation almost anywhere. Fritz’s food truck is no longer present, but there’s a cafe serving Starbuck’s coffee always within skipping distance.
New England Center was the new conference center built when we were in school. It was a beautiful high rise hotel nestled in a wooded area, with a top notch restaurant that served gourmet food. That is where I took David on a dinner date on Sadie Hawkins Weekend– the one weekend a year when the “girlfriend” paid for the “boyfriend”. Hmmmm… Does that date me or what!!! I bet there’s no more Sadie Hawkin’s Weekend on campus any more. Today the New England Center no longer exists as we knew it. It’s a UNH dorm. There was more need for student housing than for a conference facility.
I don’t regret or begrudge any of these changes… how foolish it would be to think that a university would remain static over almost half a century. Oh my, it has been almost half a century since I was a freshman. The visit was a nice way to check in with the past and also get to hear my favorite jazz artist play.
The Anat Cohen Quartet performed as part of the Traditional Jazz Series, sponsored by the UNH Music Department. It was phenomenal. Anat is so vibrant, talented, creative and her group takes jazz to new levels for me. There is no way I can do it justice here, except to tell you that they push through boundaries, blend genres, and make magic happen. Her new CD, entitled Luminosa, is exquisite and exciting. I have it on repeat, and it’s all I’ve been listening to.
UNH continues to be good to me, even though I only spent my freshman year there. It was a delightful revisit.