Saturday, April 6, 2019

April 6, 2019
            Yesterday, Delycia drove up into MA to hike and visit with Evelyn, and so I spent most of the day by myself, sitting at my desk with my poems, sorting things out, reorganizing my binders of writing, and sending things out for publication. It was another creative and profitable morning for me. 
            When my Cia returned around 3:00, we were joined by Matty to give us a hand with loading the bulky bike rack on the car and getting the bikes down from their wall stands. We finished the chores – including taking a few chairs up from the basement to the patio – pretty quickly, and then we three sat in the living room for almost two hours of wide-ranging, weighty conversation. With Matt’s help, we covered lots of fairly new territory for me. I was especially interested in his thoughts about a book he’s been reading – maybe studying,actually – called Digital Minimalism.It sounds like exactly the book for us to read aloud together – about how to deal with all the screen technology that surrounds us, and to use it in a productive, intelligent manner. I like the fact that Matt said that the author discusses hobbies, and says that staying involved in a hobby is one good way of avoiding being ensnared in the hypnotic web of technology. It was a wonderful conversation with Matt, and both Cia and I look forward to the next one.

...sunset at Stonington Point

...a pause on a recent hike

Friday, April 5, 2019


April 5, 2019

            A quiet, productive day yesterday – breakfast with Cia surrounded by happily feeding birds in the sunroom, followed by a full morning of writing work at my desk – polishing poems, writing a new one, organizing my binders of poems, and, of course, sending some writing out to publishers. 
I feel good that I’m finding a helpful routine for my writing – my ‘hobby’, as I’ve lately been calling it. People have all sorts of hobbies – photography, gardening (like Cia), quilting, cooking, hiking, sewing, etc – and mine, for the last 40+ years, has been writing. Hobbyists usually take pride in being orderly in their work – keeping good records, for instance – and I take some pride in looking at my chock-full and systematized binders of poems and stories and novels. It has been an absolute pleasure for me to be involved in this hobby for most of my life, and now, in peaceful, stress-free retirement, I’m able to truly see the fruits of my happy hobby. I continue to send writings out to publishers and agents (because that’s part of the fun of the hobby!) but I no longer get discouraged when rejections come in, which they steadily do. I’m pursuing this hobby only because I thoroughly love it. Yes, it is wonderful when I receive notice of acceptance from a publisher, but that is a very secondary joy compared to the quiet daily pleasure of writing, reading, and organizing what I’ve written.
And here is yesterday’s poem. Is it a ‘great’ poem? Will a publisher like it? Honestly, those are totally irrelevant questions to me. All that’s important is that I get the merry shakes when I read this poem:

SET ON A HILL

Usually, even in sorrowful times, 
he feels like a city set on a hill 
that simply can’t stop shining its lights. 
Sorrow, of course, has its own lights 
to shine, if we can stand still 
and see them, and he’s seen them 
so often that sorrow, now, is the 
brightest and most serene skyscraper
in the city set on a hill that is him. 
He sometimes sits silently and sees 
himself, this old, sparkling city on a hill, 
and wonders how sorrows and joys
join hands again and again to build 
countless cities like him, where even 
teardrops glow and show the way.

Thursday, April 4, 2019



April 4, 2019
         Yesterday, I went to my dentist to have some ‘oral surgery’ – a tooth-extraction – and I felt so fortunate to have Delycia with me. She insisted on coming along, and she sat in the waiting area while I underwent the procedure. It turned out to be a fast and fairly simple task – a quick injection of novocaine, a few minutes of waiting, and then – yank-yank – and the tooth was out and the job was done. Cia came in – at my request – when all was finished, just to listen to the nurse’s directions for home-care for the next few days. Later, back at the house, she helped me throughout the afternoon – checking on how I was feeling, and reminding me, now and then, about the doctor’s guidelines. It turned out to be a quiet, peaceful afternoon as this fortunate patient recovered in the very best of hands. 













... two scenes on my walk along the Mystic River earlier today 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Yesterday, we spent another wonderful afternoon and evening at Jamie's woodland home with Noah and Ava. (We're doing this every Tuesday in order to take care of the kids while Jamie is teaching his evening class to GED candidates.)  We picked them up at their schools, as usual, and on the drive back to Jamie's, I gave them some riddles to try to solve. We all enjoyed the laughter and general foolishness as the kids tried to solve the riddles -- like, "I have keys but no doors, I have space but no rooms, I allow you to enter but you are never able to leave. What am I?" Answer: a computer keyboard! Back at Jamie's, we continued to fool around with riddles during dinner - a luscious mixture of sautéed cod and asparagus - and even Ava presented one of her own:  "In a swimming pool, 20 people jumped in, and 24 heads popped up. What happened?" Well, it turned out that 20 FOREheads popped up! A fine riddle, indeed!


* forsythias blooming in the dining room *
Now, this morning at 8:27, after a quiet breakfast together followed by silent meditation, Cia and I are doing our own private work in our own separate 'offices' as a light, chilly rain falls outside. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

April 2, 2019
     Yesterday we attended our biweekly poetry gathering at the Savoy Bookstore in Westerly, and it was the usual mixture of heartfelt readings - though I, as always, had a hard time following the poems as they were read aloud. These meetings are very helpful to me, as I continue to practice listening more carefully to what people are saying. My lack of attentiveness has become a continuing concern of mine, and I'm especially troubled by my seeming ineptitude at staying focused on words as I hear them being spoken - by poets, by friends, and even by Delycia. It's a project I have embarked on - a journey toward better and better attentiveness to everything, including people's words as they speak to me. 
     But ... it was an enjoyable and inspiring evening for me. Just being with a group of people who love the wizardry of words is a blessing. 

    

Monday, April 1, 2019

April 1, 2019
  Yesterday, we did another exciting and always relaxing train ride to Boston for the ballet. I truly love these train trips – so easy and comfortable and mind-freeing for me, and so conducive to quiet reading, thinking, writing, and talking (though in whispers, because we always sit in “the quiet car”). I managed to write a poem on my phone as we sped through the countryside, and I did some seriously helpful spiritual reading. I also enjoyed hot homemade coffee from my thermos, along with some pear slices and yummy chocolate cookies. Mostly, though, I loved being beside my sweetheart of 7 ½ years. 
The ballet was, for me, a total winner. It was an old-fashioned tutu ballet – “Coppelia” – and I loved the traditional leg-swinging, arm-waving, tip-toey dancing and the beautiful music. I could enjoy it again tomorrow!
The trip home on the train was just as smooth and easy-going as the morning ride. I sort of floated along in my day-dreamy and sometimes meditative thoughts, with Cia beside me, silent and pretty. 


The magician and his dancing doll, Coppelia



Saturday, March 30, 2019

March 30, 2019
Yesterday we took another ‘solo’ walk, parking at the Mystic Library and 
setting off each on our own favored route and at our own ideal pace. I 
walked straight down the steep hill into Mystic and then out along the 
seemingly always silent Mystic River in its grayness, with a gray sky above spotted with places of sunlight. I walked briskly and happily, feeling 
fortunate to be able to move my arms and legs freely and at will, somethingat least two of our friends are unable to do.  I spoke aloud as I 
walked, going over some thoughts I often reflect on, doing what I 
suppose I might call a ‘walking meditation’. There is indeed something about walking in ‘thegreat outdoors’ – and it is, indeed, great – that 
makes life sparkle more than it usually does. I felt free and peaceful asI strode along on the roads and sidewalks. I especially enjoyed carefullynoticing some of the scenes I passed, the kind of noticing I rarely do, 
unfortunately. I stopped for a moment to take a good look at this stone wall, one of many of these beauties we see in Mystic, and in fact in all of New England. These stones have been silently sitting here for countless years. Wars and assorted sorrows have scourged the earth again 
and again, and these stones have stayed patiently where they are 
through it all. 



Friday, March 29, 2019

March 29, 2019
Yesterday,  Delycia and I did something different for exercise – we walked 3 miles outdoors, but by ourselves. We thought – hey, we exercise by ourselves at the Y, even though we go together, so maybe we should try walking outdoors on our own preferred routes and at our own special paces. So, we parked at the Mystic library, and then struck out on our own, in different directions, saying we would meet back at the car whenever we felt like ending our walks. 
I had a great walk – up and down some of the steep hills of Mystic and along slightly rolling roads beside pastures overlooking the serene Mystic River. 
a merry wanderer

We met back at the car, drove home for an hour or so of quiet, and then gathered with good friends for our bi-weekly centering prayer meditation. There were eight of us present, and, for me, the hour passed quietly and inspiringly. I truly felt peacefully lost somewhere close to the center of life. 
Afterwards, we treated ourselves to dinner at what has become one 
of our favorite restaurants, a Thai-Laotian café in Westerly. ແຊບ! (delicious!)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

March 28, 2019
Yesterday we drove down to New Haven to see a very interesting production of Shakespeare’sTwelfth Night at Yale Rep. It was a wild, free-wheeling kind of play, the kind of production that Shakespeare himself would have enjoyed. The production had kind of a hip-hop atmosphere to it, with an all black cast doing some crazy dancing and singing and shouting. I think the playwright  himself himself would have been laughing and clapping throughout the performance. Delycia and I both agreed that it was an afternoon well spent in the old theater by Yale University.
That evening, we joined Jane and Charlie and Ken for a delicious meal at Stoneridge. Where I was sitting in the dining room, I could see a beautiful painting of the seacoast and sailboats, and to the left I could see out the windows to the declining evening light. The food, to me, was quite delicious, and the conversation was friendly and breezy, like the spring-like weather outside.


… windows in the sunroom

Monday, March 25, 2019

March 25
I had a quiet morning at my desk today, working on poems and stories and sending things off to publishers. I discovered a new website that should help me get even better organized in terms of submitting things to publishers. It’s a time-consuming process, and this website should help speed things up. 
After lunch, we went to Y for a workout, where I exhausted myself on the rowing machine. Whew! – I felt drained - but content - when I was finally finished. 

Below, a corner of my desk, with some of my pets staring in admiration at a photo of Delycia on the beach ...  (the frog is lost in his yoga) ... 

Sunday, March 24, 2019


March 24, 2019
         
     The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra concert last night was, to me, spectacular. I am not a brilliant connoisseur of classical music, but I know beautiful, powerful sounds when I hear them. The orchestra played several unusual pieces, including a composition by a female composer, which they try to do as often as possible, and also a violin concerto that sounded a lot like bluegrass music. The violinist spoke to the audience before the concert, saying that she loved bluegrass music as much as classical music, and that she and the composer were trying to blend two sounds – that of the traditional symphony orchestra with that of down-home, sweet-sounding bluegrass music. I loved their way of blending.


Tessa Lark, the soloist on the bluegrass/classical piece

Saturday, March 23, 2019

March 23
         We attended an inspiring discussion this morning at the Quaker meeting house, on the subject of ‘birth and rebirth’. There were only four of us, but our words were insightful and uplifting for me. I felt a closeness and sincerity that I haven’t often felt with a group.  One of the Quaker practices that helped us was the habit of occasional silence. Several times today, after one of us had spoken, we were silent for 20 - 30 seconds, which gave all of us a chance to both take in what had been said and allow some new thoughts to arise in us. I told Cia on the way home that I have rarely taken part in a discussion where that kind of voluntary, creative silence happened – and it would not have happened this morning if we all hadn’t had experience with ‘the Quaker way’, as it’s often referred to. Silence is welcomed as a very powerful force among Quakers. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019



March 20
     Today we hosted Jim and Ann for lunch, and spent two good hours in cheer and laughter. The time flew by amid informal chatter among longtime friends. I’ve known Jim for 40 years and Ann maybe 35, and Delycia has known them almost as long as she’s known me - 7+ years – so it was truly a day of friendship. I was the cook today, and surprisingly, I felt fairly relaxed as I prepared things this morning. It was almost a time of meditation for me as I focused on the present moment and simply tried to appreciate each step as it took place. 
     We ended with laughs and hugs, and I hope we can do it again soon. 

* full moon on the morning of the first day of spring *



March 19
    We had our usual peaceful, scenic drive up to Jamie’s this afternoon to spend some lucky time with Noah and Ava. Cia drove us along the pleasantly winding roads while we talked on a variety of topics, and I think we were both looking forward to being with the kids.
    We picked up Ava first and then stopped at a famous local coffee shop, where we had refreshments and chatted a bit, and then drove back to Noah’s school and picked him up. On the ride home to Jaimie’s, we played a game called “The ABC’s of Gratitude”, which got the four of us thinking carefully about our very fortunate lives.
    Cia fixed a perfect dinner, and it looked like we all loved it, because it disappeared pretty quickly. We played a game while we ate, called “Two Truths, One Lie,” in which we tried to help people learn a little more about ourselves. Lots of smiles, lots of laughs.
How lucky I am to live a life like this!

Delycia and Hogan -
a blossoming friendship?


Monday, February 11, 2019

February 11, 2019
    We had an extra-early workout at the Y this morning, and we both felt like we ‘upped’ our output  a bit, as we work toward getting back in ‘super shape’. I worked on the bike, the treadmill, the rowing machine, and, for about 5 minutes, on the very strenuous stair-climb machine, and got my heart-rate up to 123 for a few minutes. Feeling good!
    Tonight I cooked up a fairly tasty Chinese -style stir fry meal, just for my sweet honey - and she loved it! Lucky Hammy!


* my table beside the window in our bedroom *

Saturday, February 9, 2019

SANIBEL JOURNAL
January 28 - February 8,
2019


Monday, January 28, 2019
    Today we took.a long, lovely walk, about 4 miles, west and then 
back to the east on the beach on Sanibel. It was late morning, chilly 
but warming up, and we set a fairly fast pace, at least for me. Cia 
stopped sometimes to study and collect shells, and she managed to 
bring back a beautiful small collection.
    We had lunch at a tiny, noisy cafe, and once again, I was 
supremely impressed with the food on Sanibel. I had some southern-
style poached eggs over a bed of delicious seafood selections. Really good.
    Later, MaryAnne came over for a visit, and we all walked back to 
where she and Al and their friend Cheryl are staying. We visited for a 
few minutes in their beachfront cottage, and then walked back along 
the beach right into a soft and spectacular sunset.


Cia on our morning walk


Two dear friends looking at a beach-stone sculpture …


………...


Tuesday, January 29


This morning we saw the sun slowly rise over the ocean on 
our morning walk. We started around 6:50, with layers of 
clothing to accomodate the cold (45 degree) weather. 
The sky was simply spectacular the entire time - first just a 
faint rim of light along the eastern edge, then slowly shifting 
and brightening as we walked. We kept guessing where the 
sun would actually pop up, and Delycia was the lucky one 
who saw it. “There!”, she said, and there it was, just a softly 
shining round rim of light, but very soon an ever brightening 
ball. I think we were both utterly astonished to be there in the presence of such a majestic occurrence — a solemn 
ceremony, really.


Brother Al and I had a long, leisurely breakfast this morning 
at Sanibel Fresh, a cute and very quiet cafe near our condo. The food was good, but the conversation was extra special. Within a few minutes, we were talking about St. Augustine 
and the importance of attention and the fact that it doesn’t 
matter if we die when we’re 20 or 90. I loved both the 
seriousness and the lightheartedness of our talk. It was a 
blessing for me.



The heated pool early this morning


Another sunset walk this evening under velvety blue skies, with thin streams of white clouds in the west, giving the sunset a special nuance. We strolled slowly, just letting the evening light cast its spell.


………...


January 30, 2019
    We walked down to the beach around 8:00 this morning, with our beach chairs, layered wraps, and binoculars, hoping for a good hour of quiet gazing and relaxation. However, very shortly, the wind seemed suddenly stronger and chillier, and sitting on the beach started seeming to be a not-so-good idea, and before long, we folded up our chairs and made our way back to our warm apartment.


    I had another deep, wide-ranging talk with Al today, everything from our mom’s struggles with six kids under 13 to the nature and benefits of rituals. (We both agreed that each moment of life could be treated as a ritual.) MaryAnne stopped over for the last few minutes and joined-in heartily to the conversation.


    In the afternoon, Delycia and I took our first Sanibel bike ride, cruising on our well-used rental bikes down to the the Lighthouse Cafe for lunch and then back. It was great fun to be on bikes again, even old, somewhat rickety ones - a free and fun-loving outing, for sure..


    Sunset at the beach again, just sitting back and loving the light and the strolling beach-lovers and being with each other.


………...


January 31, 2019
   We took another early walk this morning, and we found again that clouds can actually intensify the beauty of a sunrise. Because of the clouds, we couldn’t actually see the sun itself float into view, but - better yet - we saw streaks and streams of light slowly spread across the eastern sky.


    I had another wonderful talk with Al this morning over breakfast - just two brothers chatting over scrambled eggs and coffee. We covered Russian Orthodox Christianity, spiritual poetry, and even the wisdom of toddlers. It was a happy and healthy conversation for both of us.


    This afternoon Delycia and I took a bike ride (in 70 degree weather!) to the Sanibel Lighthouse and then back to lunch at Grandma Dot’s. It was a shaky, bouncy ride for me on the old, fat-tire bike, but great fun, too. I am so glad Delycia pushed to rent bikes for us. Many great rides are coming in our days on Sanibel Island.


……….


February 1, 2019
    We walked down to the beach this morning to see the sunrise again, but the sky’s grayness was too dense to let the rising sun be seen, so we set out walking beside the almost silent water. It was a refreshing walk, as always on Sanibel, even without the sunrise.
After about 30 minutes, Delycia sat on the sand for some quiet meditation, and I walked for another 30 minutes on this slowly warming morning.


* a painting on the wall of our condo *


    We had a final lunch with Al and MaryAnne today, at the quiet, tasty OverEasy Cafe. The food was perfect, and the conversation, as usual among us four, was lively and loving.
* Delycia lovingly took these photos *
 
    Delycia and I sat on the beach at sunset time, under a mostly gray but still beautifully lit sky. There were just a few beach walkers, and only an occasional penguin sailing over the water. Delycia studied the light in the sky and showed me the various changes as the minutes passed.


……….


February 2, 2019
     We had a very busy day today as we moved from our condominium to a different one for next week.
    We took a sunrise walk, as usual, but the clouds covered most of the light, so we just walked briskly along, until - yes, there it was!  - the slight circle of light as the sun started to shine above the horizon. We took a few pictures, and then I took a 60 second video as the sun floated up. Another amazing morning walk.
* Delycia taking a picture of a ‘sandman’ someone had made




   After we checked out of our condo, we took a long, easygoing
8-mile bike ride, here and there around the island. For both of us, I think, it was a wonderfully refreshing few hours. The weather was sunny with just the lightest breezes, and I felt that old, lucky freedom I’ve always felt when riding.
    We were finally able to move into our new condo around 3:00, and it is a true beauty — lovely porch with table and chairs and a 2-person glider, and very comfy chairs in the living room with soft ottomans for weary feet. We’ll be loving this place for the next 6 days!


    Sunset again - another spectacular one!
* a mom talking with her son
while watching the sunset


February 3, 2019
    We took our usual sunrise walk this morning, leaving around 6:55, and once again we were pleasantly astonished by the shining clouds and then the gleaming orange rim of the sun slowly ascending. Again, I thought of native peoples, both of the past and present, who were and are probably continuously amazed by the daily arrival of the sun. It truly is a miracle beyond description, and Delycia and I are seeing it - and almost worshipping it - every day here on Sanibel Island.


Wonderful words from Eckhart …


    We took another invigorating bike ride this morning, about 7 miles, and, again, what a pleasure! It was a totally relaxing but also exhilarating ride as we cruised along with light winds and sunshine. I spent some of the time letting spiritual thoughts carry me along - reflecting on the astounding fact that the present moment is all we ever have and therefore is always brand new, as were these magical moments we were experiencing on our bikes.
* a pause on the ride


… and another pause


*we love the more hidden bike paths


*a lover of bikes
and Sanibel bike trails


    After lunch, we walked to the beach to check out the strange mist we had been seeing from our condo — and this is what we saw:


………


Monday, February 4


    I tossed and turned in bed last night, trying, I suppose, to settle down after watching the boring-but-also-exciting super bowl. I finally floated off and had a restful though brief sleep.
    Another sunrise walk after breakfast - about 3 miles - and another special sunrise. (Of course, all sunrises and sunsets for 4.5 billion years have been extra-special!) Here’s what this morning’s looked like for one shining moment...


    We also came across two wonderful sculptures on the sand:


    And then we returned to the comfort of our cozy condo, where I again went into my ‘Sanibel serenity’.....
     After lunch (which was take-out from a spacious, friendly market called Jerry’s), we walked down to the pool for some dipping, swimming, and reading time. I swam for a few minutes and Delycia floated and paddled, and then we settled on lounge chairs in the shade for some quiet reading.


Another sunset this evening….


Tuesday, February 5


    As usual, I was up at 5:00 a.m. for my morning meditation. I opened the window blinds to the morning darkness, with only the lamps in the courtyard visible. I sat with my hot cinnamon tea and a light meditation snack and spent about 30 minutes in silent thought. Ah, such a fine opening to a day!
    After breakfast in the lanai, watching a cloudy and cool morning slowly arrive, we walked to the beach for our 60 minute sunrise stroll. The clouds were predominant, but the shore and the sea were as mysterious as ever.


We came across some new seashore art …


    We took a 90 minute bike ride after lunch, heading up Periwinkle Way toward Captiva Island. It was, as usual, a very pleasant ride, just cruising - almost floating - on our ancient, fat-tire rental bikes. However, as usual, we saw some hazardous riders now and then - folks going way too fast, or looking wobbly and unsure, or passing other riders - including us - in reckless ways. But all in all, when we reached our condo I think we both felt grateful that we could do a bike ride on a beautiful island in 70 degree weather in February.
* a very strange tree,
with roots going down from a branch


     We sat on the beach at sunset time and saw another marvelous show of light in the western sky as the sun slowly sank…


Wednesday, February 6
   Another beautiful sunrise this morning, with the clear ball of the sun easily visible as it slowly arose from the sea.


    As usual, we saw many interesting looking people as we walked, and we both decided it would be fun to really ‘notice’ these people, and perhaps take photos of them. Here are a few from this morning’s walk …
    We spent an hour or so at the pool this afternoon — a few minutes in the refreshing water, and then sometime in the shade stretched out on lounges, reading and talking.
    Toward evening, we had a wonderful, uplifting Skype conversation with Annie. I admire her so much!
     Later, we walked down to the beach for another spectacular sunset. There was a happy scene at the beach - some musicians picking at guitars and banjos and singing, and a family with a young toddler who was obviously overwhelmed by joy with so much water and sand to play with. We sat quietly in our happiness, watching the softly changing colors in the western sky
.


Thursday, February 7


    We did another sunrise walk this morning - now one of our important traditions on Sanibel - and we were lucky to be able to look at - just for a few seconds - the newly rising ball of the sun. As we’ve often seen, not a small number of people were standing in silence, facing the east, obviously as awestruck by the sunrise as we were.


   As usual, we saw some very intriguing people as we walked …


…. and one woman - named Cia, oddly enough - was very interested in the various plants and trees.
    Late this morning, we started out on what became a 12 mile bike ride, and, as usual, it was thoroughly enjoyable (though quite tiring for me). It’s pure joy to ride on these well-maintained bike paths, cruising past lovely southern beachfront homes, feeling the gentle ocean winds, and noticing the joyous spirit inside us.


Beautiful birds at the Bailey Preserve …


We stopped for lunch at the Lighthouse Cafe, now one of our favorites, where we both enjoyed grilled seafood on a croissant, with - for me - a side of scrumptious French fries. (Cia had double coleslaw instead.)


Friday, February 8


    We took our last sunrise beach walk this morning, about 3 miles, and saw in the east the great glow of the round sun as it slowly rose above the bluish horizon.
As always, it was a spirited walk, and, for me, an  arduous one, and I dragged a little as the minutes passed. However, I was always roused by the smooth flights of flocks of birds, off on their adventures somewhere.


Later in the morning we took a 9 mile bike ride - a lovely and lively final ride on this very special island. I will miss these daily rides almost most of all.