We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes~

Saturday, June 16

Friday, June 15

What can I do?

Watch crazy gray cats
Fighting on the windowsill -
See how the fur flies!

I post only what I have in mind.

Haiku or Senryu?

I offer you a little verse...

Shoes on Ninth Ave.
Wait for their owner

Who just stepped out

This Was Not a Set-up

Strolling down 9th Ave, yards away from the entrance to Port Authority... there were these shoes... but no shoe-less persons in sight.

And no one else seemed to see them.

So I took their portrait, as pseudo-ironic verse bubbled in my mind.

And I walked away...

But I stopped, turning to see if they were really there... just waiting.

Thursday, June 14

What's she doing over there!? Crochet? Knitting? On the subway?!

I wish these photos captured how fascinating this was to watch.

Early morning... bleary eyed... still very much trying to wake up... unable to focus on my book...
Instead I am watching this chica - instructions tucked between her knees - work extraordinarily quickly with yarn and needle... While I try to snap a few photos that aren't blurry from how fast her hands are working.

Monday, June 11

3 Years Ago Today.

(photo taken with Pentax Digital SLR)
Lynda Jean Polkinghorn was born in NJ, but being a child of an Air Force officer, she moved around frequently, living in Germany, Levittown, St. Louis, Fairfax, Hawaii, among others… my grandfather was from Kansas, and she and my aunt spent time there for vacations. However the bulk of the family, my grandmother’s side, was in Texas - and Texas was where my Mom’s heart resided. Even though she never lived there she always considered it her home - from all the summers spent there with the family. My grandmother is the oldest of five children, each of her siblings had at least a couple of kids, and in the summer they’d all be there together… cousins who would all grow to have their own families and bring us all together in Texas at least every few years to get a glimpse at what their childhood was like. When you got her talking about her childhood (which wasn't very hard) she would start to twang and drawl Texas-style.

Family was family, and no matter what, family came before all else to my mother. There were folks she didn’t always like in our clan, but by God, she loved them all – because that’s what family is. She taught her own children that… Mom was like a lioness with her cubs - and she would fight to the death for all of us kids. I'm the youngest of 5; both my parents had kids when they married each other, including one who is adopted, and I was the only child born to both of them. Not that it mattered. My mom never made a distinction between those she gave birth to and those she didn't. Although not all of us lived together all the time, it never felt like a "Yours, Mine & Ours" type of family. I had 3 brothers and a sister, case closed. I can't imagine it was easy, especially 30 years ago, to make a blended family work - I think that her success at doing so might be her greatest legacy.

This is not to say Mom and I always got along. In the grand tradition of teenage girls, I couldn't stand her when I was in high school. I wanted nothing more than to get as far away as I could for college to assert my independence. When I did, moving 8 hours down the East Coast, I missed her as madly as she missed me. We would watch movies we both loved while on the telephone together; movies like Mothra , or Charade, or Tremors . She'd call me, as she did with my grandparents, and give me program notes on stuff she thought I'd like or should see - sometimes we'd both be watching something and call during commercials to talk about it.

We talked almost every day from then on, if only for a minute or two. Later I moved to a school closer to home, eventually moving back in to my folks' house for a few years before moving to NYC. It is very different being an adult child living at home, it gives one a whole new perspective on your parents as people, and on your own place in things; I feel so lucky to have had that time. Again, not that we never fought, but I realized how much more important she and my dad really were in my life, and how much I enjoyed them.

Mom had a gift for the gab - especially when she hadn't talked to you in a while. There were no such things as quick conversations with my mother. But folks just opened up to her and chatted away. Even telemarketers and telephone customer service reps would get sucked in. She believed in good conversation, and that it was the key to all relationships. She frequently stayed up talking into the wee hours of the night - be it on the phone with distant family & friends, or with one of us kids, or with company at the house. That company could be her friends, family, or her kids' friends that were staying over. This never ceased to amaze me - our friends would tell her things that they'd never tell their own folks, and sometimes that they'd never told us. She kept confidences... God only knows what secrets that lady took to the grave.

Mom always tried to be supportive, even when she knew I was making mistakes. She'd tell me she thought so, and then let me learn the hard way. But she was there to listen and console me afterwards, and encourage me to find the right path. Whether it was changing colleges and majors, or relationship problems, or the trials of job interviews she advised me and then supported my decision.

My mother had a pretty wide assortment of jobs herself, everything from an executive secretary, to a cab driver in California, to private cleaning lady in rural Virginia. She was an excellent, self-taught, gourmet cook. She had been born into the military and twice married men who were Coast Guard officers; life as a military wife is a job in and of itself. Like my dad, she struggled with civilian life when he retired from active duty service. Eventually, she got her real estate license in WV. She cared about her customers and listened to their needs; her lifetime of experience in moving and understanding the stress of finding the right home making her successful.

When she died, I went through her jewelry to find a ring she wore when I was a child. It's silver, which she didn't often wear, and has a pale green turquoise stone that I always thought matched the color of her eyes. I've worn it every day since. I think of her every day. Sometimes I talk to her, and sometimes I cry, not only for the years we will never have, but for the time I had with her that I took for granted. Usually I think about all the things she taught me - about life, about being a woman, and about learning to be myself.

Mom wasn't perfect, and she never proclaimed to be. She was a great gal, though, and a hell of a mother. I'm proud not only to be her daughter, but simply to have known her.

Things Mom Taught Me…

From growing up in a military life where cocktail parties and wives’ clubs never went out of fashion, along with a mix of common sense and southern hospitality, my mom passed along this wisdom, which I present in no way in full, and entirely at random...

  • Family and friendship come before all else – she'd say you may not always like them, but you don’t stop loving people just because they are sometimes jerks.

  • Always expect the very best, and be prepared for the very worst. This was true for everything, including people. This has always served me well.

  • It is fine not to like something, but only if I’d actually tried it first.

  • The importance of family history.

  • The importance & fine art of good conversation.

  • Not to be with someone just because everyone else liked them.

  • Everyone deserves a second and even third chance. That doesn’t mean they get a free pass, however. She might forgive, but she never really forgot. However, there was always another chance to earn back her trust and respect if you wanted to.

  • The beauty of thunderstorms.

  • That a power nap (also known as a sinking spell) really can be just the thing to get you going again.

  • There is nothing wrong with being cute, just back it up with the ability to be serious.

  • To shop for bargains, but also to know what things are worth paying full price for.

  • Always have "mad money" tucked away.

  • Anytime is a good time to go to a beach.

  • If you want to sing, then go right ahead and sing (maybe she got this from Sesame Street).

  • The best quality a friend or lover can have is the ability to make you laugh.

  • It is important to know your own body & it's always ok to question your doctor - the doctor's not in your skin, after all.

  • There is nothing finer than popping off your shoes and sticking your feet on the dash…

  • Any time you can take off your shoes, you should.

  • To always go upstairs on my toes, because it would make my calves strong (it did).

  • My mother never did yoga, or pilates, or anything like that. But there were exercises she’d learned as a girl, and she passed these along to me. Mostly, it boiled down to the value of stretching out the limbs, and the back… because being limber is as important as being strong.

  • How to shop for clothes without trying them on - and have them fit when I get them home.

  • Buying clothing basics that flatter your figure & never goes out of style will always give you the best value. Then you can add pieces or accessories that make a look more “trendy” and “in fashion”. This way you have a more “timeless” style.

  • Birthdays are important. Everyone’s birthday is their day; on that day they get to do what they want, watch what they want, eat what they want… and be celebrated.

  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with being silly, no matter how old you are. How else does one stay young at heart?

  • There are certain things everyone should know, even if they don’t honestly care. The important thing being that other people would care and would be talking about it. A well-rounded individual should at least know the outcome - and thus not be lost in the conversation. These things included:

    • Who won each of the Triple Crown horse races

    • Who won the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA playoffs, etc…

    • Who won pop-culture events (like American Idol)

  • Learning to wash your own clothes, basic sewing, change a tire, cook a good steak, make yourself eggs the way you like them (particularly when you are sick) - such things are essential to growing up.

  • You can be the most beautiful or the smartest or the most accomplished… but if you are ugly to people, it won’t matter. Pretty is as pretty does.

  • If you never start wearing foundation makeup, you may never need it… Seriously, I wasn’t allowed to wear more than powder, eyeliner & blush as a young teenager, and 20 years later, I rarely wear more than that now.

  • On Christmas morning everyone should take turns opening gifts, because it really should be more fun to give than it is to receive…

  • Basic Yiddish phrases. Although I haven't figured out why she ever knew them to begin with…

  • The value of a B-horror movie, whether it’s new or old, in English or over-dubbed.

  • That “pet people” belong with other “pet people”.

  • Any occasion can be a “special” occasion and you should use the good china, the good linen, and the good silver for it. Otherwise, why have that stuff taking up space?

  • Blood may be thicker than water, but it is love that defines a family.

(photo taken with Pentax Digital SLR)