Monthly Archives: April 2016

seeing the light


IMG_5417Tuesday was a day of tender hearts and tears here in this too Big Apple. I am sitting at the window of a Starbucks on Canal right now trying to put my thoughts in a straight line once again. I am here with honesty and today, which is going to be difficult because I have to peel back a layer, I have to reveal a bit more. I spent time at the Met yesterday, I was there with little expectation and a quest to cry, to be moved. Elizabeth gave me precise instructions and assurance that I could “do this”. I did. I made it Uptown with a Metro card and a bit of anxiety. I got off of the train on 82nd Street, a street lined with black Mercedes and Range Rovers and a small sprinkle of Teslas, manifestations of the “good life” from Park Ave to 5th. I watched as people funneled down to an elite sort of ultra-wealthy New Yorkers and I appreciated them. There were very old men dressed well as they did decades ago with stooped shoulders and small well groomed dogs on  leaches. Coiffured wives on their arms and tots in tow were no longer apparent.  I also saw plenty of babies being carted along the avenues by nannies equipped with cell phones and bottles and some sense of purpose, I suppose. Then there were tulips. The tulips on Park Avenue were different than the other tulips planted in small batches along the mere “streets”, these were bountiful and embedded in rich soil that gave them the best start. IMG_5416

Past the tulips and the baby carriages was the Metropolitan Museum, the Met. There were the steps I walked up 4 decades ago and there to the left was the Egyptian Art I quickly walked through in my youth, only to say I did it. I knew I would head straight to the European section…up the stairs to the2nd floor; if any emotion would stir, it would be there, amongst the lives lived in Montmartre in the late 1800s when artist began painting with light and met at Gertrude Stein’s to talk about it over absinthe and ale.

There it was on the left, a still life of apples and pears painted by Cezanne while in Aix en Provence; “With and apple I want to astonish Paris”. He obviously did.IMG_5427

IMG_5419Anyway, it made me cry. I suppose it was my memory of Nice and my friend Kathy. She was drawn to his work and I to van Gogh during those days of youth, I saw what she loved just then, I saw the light. I continued to the van Gogh room and saw his self-portrait encased and center stage and knew he painted it because he could not afford a model, he could not afford his life. I lingered and thought of mine.

The day continued in an introspective way, mostly walking through the streets of New York and thinking about things using the backdrop of this enormous city to compare. The size and population density helped me to put life in perspective, to understand how fleeting it all is and wondering why I worry so much. But I do. Mothers worry about their children. We start with counting fingers and toes and continue by counting minutes until they come home during long nights in Manhattan…





van goghI am writing without having coffee yet, my first challenge of the day. We are here in NYC and I have a myriad of thoughts pounding inside of my overstimulated head, so I will put them here. I am enchanted with this city that never sleeps, while exhausted from its endless energy and insistence to push through more discovery and adventure while overlooking opportunities for rest.

It is not that kind of place; it is not the quintessential vacations to Florida where you drop your bags in the spotless condo and instinctively follow the soothing call of the ocean as your bulky thoughts are pushed aside by the enigmatic sound of the sea breeze and you turn into just a being whose only purpose is sensual. Not here. Here, you are always on “go” and here you exist within a microcosm of the world. It is intense.

 On my first visit to NYC, when I was Elizabeth’s age, it seemed different. There was more definition of neighborhoods, it was before Little Italy got absorbed by Chinatown and when the Empire State Building claimed that exclusive title in the skyline. Now, the lines are a bit smeared and the iPhone has taken the place of paper maps and curious looks as you asked directions from friendly restaurant workers and enigmatic people on the street. The dynamics have changed, but everything must move in some new direction whether it is good or not, we must move.

Of course, Elizabeth knows nothing of those days when Kathy and I stayed at the Royalton Hotel because it was “affordable”, before it evolved into the 4 star boutique hotel it is now as it still sits on 44th Street but with well suited doormen instead of wooden windows we could raise and she doesn’t know how unadulterated it was to actually see Starry Night at the Modern because, then, there were no virtual You Tube tours and horrible van Gogh images on coffee mugs; there were only bad pictures in my art history books,  seeing it for real actually made you cry. I have since gone back and stood before that painting wanting that same emotion but it wasn’t there, we have been so polluted with virtual images that when things are  real, they don’t really feel real. Anyway, that is just a foolish negative comment I wanted to take note of and leave behind; New York City is wonderful. It knows how to change and evolve and remain the City of the World.

 I try to get a feeling of the people here; they are all different but there must be some funneled down feeling of why they are drawn here to this most unique cosmos of overdone life, to this place that has so much to give but it is all so difficult to achieve, this place that never stops as it wears you out, this place where life can change on a dime or where the days turn to years and you are still here as your dream becomes a lost vision of youth. It is perplexing to me.

I will join Elizabeth on the surface and just enjoy the sights and sounds and try to see this experience as she does, a place to absorb and to collect life, a stop in the road, to open life up, to split it down the middle and take it all in and move on…I think I am describing youth, oh well, let me throw the word “vicarious” in this scramble of expectations to make the pieces fit a bit better.

 I can’t seem to end this post without a, perhaps cliché, 911 moment. I had one yesterday. Jon and I were walking in Soho and as with most places, the One World Trade Center appeared and suddenly, it was a “Starry Night” moment for me, it was a transcending thought driven by pure emotion. I somehow realized that the way “it” happened was so abrupt, people were just walking along in life and the lights went out, just like that. I could feel that second as I walked alongside of Jon and watched Elizabeth ahead of us, unexpectedly, innocence was lost forever.

I know that no matter how much we live on the surface, that no matter how much we try to distract ourselves with superficiality and illusion, reality waits and it will always exist.

I end with the innocence from my first trip in 1974 and I begin this day with a true love for America’s city.FullSizeRender (15)

road trip

 magnolia1Elizabeth and I leave in 2 days, a road trip that stalls a while in NYC and ends in Cape Cod, a long good bye, again.  I cut honeysuckles and picked an early blooming magnolia for the kitchen. I want that southern fragrance to fill the kitchen in these last mornings of her visit, competing with coffee but, somehow, winning. I want her to remember these smells of the Deep South as the salty sea breeze reveals the tiny freckles on her nose again.

I wrote about marigolds recently, in my Sunday column, and the fragrance that carries me back to Live Oak Lane and my mother. Scents linger in our hearts and cause memories to retell those wonderful stories of our lives. The fresh lemon scent of magnolias will always introduce summer to me and bring back turbulent thoughts of adolescent sprinkled with soothing memories of Miss Sue, she and I standing underneath her 40 year old magnolia tree and snapping the perfectly , barely opened flower for my mother’s kitchen – a fragrance that said home.

Anyway, another chapter is about to begin for her and consequently, for me, no matter how many magnolias line my kitchen counter, she will leave. As moms, we are always “packing bags” and sending them off, whether it be next door or at the tip of a cape, gone is gone. I do not intend this post to cast a guise of melancholy, for I am happy about this journey. The physical mechanism of this trip has me a bit nervous and, as I professed and confessed, earlier, this keyboard is where I sometimes come to release those bothersome thoughts, that anxiety – this is an open forum to myself. I can read and reread how my thoughts are floating chaotically around in my head and perhaps corral them into a more certain shape, a more linear thought to deal with and leave my fragile heart out of this.

So, I end with positivity and I begin the day with a mission to pack and to be happy about our journey together. Good byes are temporary, memories are forever.

it’s time

1-IMG_2182I am reading a book by Anne Lamott, at least I am attempting to find the quiet time to read this book. Last night I was able to read a few pages before my too busy mind had me in another room doing “something”, “something” I can’t even remember. Anyway, there was a part in the book that resonated with me and I am writing this because you may also connect to this thought. She began writing because it was a place to go to really be herself, a place we all should have.

It would be ideal if we could always be genuine and express our inner feelings and thoughts and carry out our lives just as we want to but, sadly, I have finally admitted to myself that many times we have to “edit”, simply out of consideration for others. But, if you turn inward to your feelings and express them in an art form, you heal and you find yourself there.

I paint and I write. I have enjoyed these two mediums my entire life but now, finally, I am searching for a way to be more authentic with both. I think before, I was painting and writing for “you”, now I only want to do it for me, I want the honesty to drive me, for if art is not honest, it is Nothing.

So, here are a scattering of words trying to make a thought, here is my honest attempt to write what I feel is important about art and here is how I define it…self-expression that causes a prompt for someone else . I work within the margins of paint and pen but perhaps food, flowers, fabric, song, etc. is where you find your muse. Done…

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just because – Elizabeth, Buttercup, Kera, and summer

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