Friday, September 25, 2009

Fair Time

People are often surprised when I say I was raised a country girl.

"Didn't you say you grew up in New York?"

Well, yes and no. I grew up an hour from New York City and while that's practically next door considering the size of New York State, it's far enough for Manhattanites to refer to as "Upstate." In my Upstate world we had no sidewalks or street lamps; some of the roads were still unpaved. Cows roamed onto our school playground and we bought our eggs from the chicken farm over the trestle bridge. Summer meant weeding and August meant canning -- in the swelter without air conditioning.

In spite of the latter, I was happy when an opportunity presented itself to go to the Goshen Fair in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Most people think of livestock, greasy food, country music and blue ribbons when they think of these fairs and it's true -- all of these items were there. But there other things present as well.

A sense of humor.

Giant vegetables.

Cute bunnies.

And this.

And this.

And this.


Remembering all of this, wouldn't you want to go home again, too?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation -- Part Ultimo

And we've come to our last day. Benji and I drove out to Sag Harbor for lunch, the weather finally clear. There's a tiny shack on the dock where we love to eat. I have many photos of Benji beneath this sign. Although he's been able to touch it for years, I would dare say never quite this easily.

With a view like this, who cares how tiny and informal the restaurant might be.

The menu says the rest.

Specials included.

It took us about an hour and a half to drive back to Port Jefferson. We drove right up onto the ferry without waiting. The sun was going down.

Creating a breathtaking backdrop.

As we sailed off into the sunset.

Another summer gone.

What I did on my summer vacation -- Part Quatre

My sister's family are all artists. Benji's gifts are in the musical and performing fields, but this niece and nephew have visual gifts. What a joy to expand their artistic imaginations. Not that they need much stretching. Look at this homage to Matisse that their dad painted.

That's the pile of artists right there. Ori is 11 and Joey is 8.

And these are the collage journals we created in composition notebooks out of old magazines. Joseph's is fearless and very creative. The ideas flow out of him like water, all painted with his sense of humor.

Penguins on an island vacation.

Composite people.


Ori is equally gifted, but her design gene is stronger.

Like her aunt, each page is deliberated over and done and redone.

She's never satisfied, so this is an exercise in letting go and letting it be.

Pretty apt pupils, I'd say.

What I did on my summer vacation -- Part Tres

Could you pass this bowl of chips and guacamole? Thanks. I know you must all be getting hungry. There's just two more sets of photos. These are from my morning ramble through the garden gate. Notice the bunny. He was the bravest wild rabbit I've ever seen. Just sat there and posed. Maybe he had dreams of making it onto the cover of Martha Stewart.

The garden was so beautiful after the rain.

It had that sort of wild seaside wear and tear that I love.

Worn beauty.

And a few surprises where you didn't expect them.

The rain had soaked the cedar shingles on the house until they were practically black, making the gorgeous foliage and flowers really pop.

And pop.

And, of course, there were the beautiful hydrangeas.

Which I can't resist.

Sea blue flowers against the sea.

Friday, September 11, 2009

We Interrupt This Program

It's cold, wet and windy in Connecticut and New York City today.

As I write this, I'm remembering taking the local train to Manhattan on a beautiful September morning. I was running late dropping my son off at school and missed the express to Grand Central.

Three-quarters of the way in, an announcement came over the loudspeaker. The conductor wasn't sure what to say, so he said there had been an accident. A plane had hit the World Trade Center. Jaded commuters that we were, we nodded and thought, "Some idiot in a single engine aircraft, no doubt."

A minute later, the conductor was back. "No, it was two planes."

And we knew.

I surfaced on West 47th Street and Madison Avenue in time to see the towers fall. In the window of the bank, the television showed the grim details. To my right the plumes of smoke became mountains of ash mushrooming heavenward. In front of me, on the television was the same image.

The word apocalyptic went through my mind.

With each step I took, it grew worse. Washington. Pennsylvania.

The rest of the day was spent bonding with strangers, or perhaps with neighbors, for there were no strangers that day. After arriving at work and checking on my co-workers, I had just one thought: "I must get home to my child."

Eventually I made it home and sat happily in the principal's office, refusing to leave or eat, until the end of the school day. I didn't want to disrupt my son's routine but I needed to be nearby. I had no idea how the day affected people in Connecticut until Benji's first-grade teacher came running into the office, saw me and exhaled, "Thank, God!"

She was in terror of having to tell her first-grader his mother was lost.

We were fortunate. Others were not. For a year I walked past the back of the magnificent building you see above, watching procession after procession prepare to enter to remember those who were lost. Every weekday. For a year.

It was a year of amazing people coming from around the country and the world to help. Of heartbreaking posters with beautiful faces. Of American flags and an ache that needed to be healed.

The world goes on. But the amazing ceremonies in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania remind us of the individuals who were lost. Our heroes in uniform. Our heroes in civilian clothes, coming from every race, religion and 200 countries.

Let us never forget.

What I did on my summer vacation -- Part Deux

So we're back. Freshen up anyone's drink?

So we were talking about our 3-day summer vacation on Long Island. No trip is complete without visits to the local organic farm for veggies and flowers. Some of my favorites are in bloom in late August. Dahlias.


And the vegetables themselves are things of beauty. How gorgeous are these eggplant?

And peppers and tomatoes -- the jewels of late summer.

I'm going to get us some more guacamole. Don't go anywhere. Benji, put on the next wheel.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation -- Part Uno

So nice of you to drop in to see our vacation photos.

Did I mention that we took the ferry from Bridgeport, CT, to Port Jefferson on Long Island, NY to spend a weekend with family? Yes? Oh, good. Let's get started.

Benji, get the lights!

Here's our route:

And here's Benji as we pulled out of Bridgeport Harbor. It was a gray and wet day when we left. Tropical Storm Danny was stirring up trouble. Were we worried? Nah. As long as it wasn't too windy and there wasn't lightning, we're game.

I think it wasn't more than 60 degrees.

The trip isn't about an hour and 20 minutes. I loved all the blue-gray wildness of the ocean.

Before you knew it, there was the harbor at Port Jefferson.

Look at these adorable tugboats. I thought of my 3-year-old nephew, Sammy, when I took them. He loves Thomas the Tank Engine's tugboat friends.

And I guess they love little kids too. It wasn't until I downloaded these photos that I realized there was a child's picnic table on the boat. What a surprise!

The drive from the ferry was another hour and a half, but we went straight to greet the ocean.

You could say we were happy to be there.

More photos in the next installment. Iced tea anyone?