Postcard from Maine

My friend from Loulies.com sent me a postcard:

Hey Coco,
Just returned from wall-e with Emmett and Chris. Very good. Spent yesterday getting Gus up to Maine. A mini-vacation. Left at 7 am. Drove through Brunswick for a Lobster Roll from the Brunswick Diner. Arrived in Belgrade Lakes. Made Gus' bed. Toured the island for
posterity sake and to refresh my own soul of where I was leaving my boy for the whole summer. Got caught in a thunderstorm. Drove down to Georgetown
Maine to sit at the end of the wharf looking out at the five islands that surround our favorite lobster pound. Enjoyed steamers, corn on the cob and a two-and-a-half pounder. Headed for Portland, then Scarborough Beach to get my feet wet. Took the 9:45 flight home. All in a day. An emotional one (but not really). He will be so happy not to be nagged and told to brush his teeth and eat with his mouth closed. I will miss him but he is so LUCKY.

XO - B


Camp for girls

Yesterday we received photos of our daughter at camp. In one picture she held a bow and arrow extended gracefully and with good beginner's form. I thought to myself, "Lucky! She is so lucky to have this opportunity!"

But then I wondered what SHE was thinking.

In another picture I saw a smile on her sweet face ... but she wasn't completely relaxed; there was a restricted line across the brow. I felt like she was putting the "I am doing camp" look out.

That made me wonder whether she would ever say "Lucky!" if asked how she felt about sleeping away from home for 3 weeks ...

Isn't that the trick about parenting: so called "good experiences" and things that feel good to your child are not always in sync.

The house is quiet. My son is talking so much more with his sister gone, but still it's quiet. I wonder what they are having for breakfast this morning ...


It was beautiful ... now to say farewell

Today I have good reason to type out what's on my mind: two wonderful friends are moving forward into new adventures.

I thought I'd say farewell to them in pictures, with images I shot last weekend on Long Island:



It was a rare beauty we explored together ...

Edges of inlet, Southold


Thanks for bringing life to the dry patches ...

Succulents, Montauk


And more thanks for those daily "ding" repairs you provided ...

"Ding Repair" sign in Ditch Plains, Montauk


Some things just won't be the same without you ...

East Hampton


But, since you must go, take the broad and clear view with you ...

Cliffs, Southold

... Remember to keep your focus adjusting

Wildflowers, Montauk


As your beautiful new day dawns ....

Sunrise, Peconic


So long, farewell. We will miss you ...

Two daisies, Montauk Point


Father's Day and Multiple Sclerosis: My two-step dance with dad

I was thinking ... wasn't it Anne Sexton who said "It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was." That quote invites me to reflect on the fact that memories of my father are divided into: Memories of Dad before MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and Memories of Dad after MS.

MS first visited my dad when he was 50. It was sneaky: A quiet but persistent tingling in the toes and intense fatigue that he just couldn't shake. (Learn about early symptoms.)

I was 17, preparing for college, the future. Dad was in a different place — his own pain — a pain he held privately for a long time.

Because an MS diagnosis may take a while to be confirmed, he spent many years fighting what ultimately became a confirmed MS diagnosis.

He was determined not to believe it for a while and just figured he'd "push on through." (Just the same way Dad would cope with cold and flu ...)

But MS had a better plan. Let's just say it took as long a time for the disease to unfold as it took for my dad to accept the diagnosis. Maybe that was a saving grace, since a faster progression might have been too much for him.

Before MS, my dad was active and outdoorsy. Very much a "man in his body" he liked to work hard and play hard. I remember my dad — built like a lumberjack and with the ruddy complexion of a sailor — up on the roof fixing cedar shingles, sailing our small boat with friends and family, building custom cabinetry for the house, and doing everything he could himself in order to save money for the future, for education.

Dad kept his family active too. I remember my father skiing downhill on frosty mountain mornings. I remember the long rides he scored while body-surfing in the Atlantic. I remember tennis lessons with him, and watching him genuflect at the edge of a church pew on Sunday mornings after a rowdy Saturday evening with his friends ...

But if I had to pick one pre MS memory of Dad to preserve it would be of him on the dance floor. My dad was so sure-footed and gifted on the dance floor that he literally made any woman glow-n-glide like a natural. The last dance I shared with my dad was on my wedding day, an impressive 12 years after his initial diagnosis.

While I will forever and always cherish the meaning behind that last dance with dad, I have grown to love and admire, just as much, the memories my post-MS dad — still just 65 years old and full of life — gives me.

For instance, I am so very proud that after years of teetering on the verge of a fall, rather than using one of the canes he bought "for the day he needed one" my dad has given his family the memory of a man who accepted his diagnosis and is learning to live well with it — even though the losses continue to be significant and they hurt a lot ... a real lot.

I am proud that after years of fighting his diagnosis my dad teaches me and my children to ask and receive help when they are sick or need assistance.

I am proud that after avoiding the learning he was being asked to do, my dad is now enrolling in drug studies and that he uses a scooter to stay engaged and independent in activities when his energy affords him the chance to do so.

I love and deeply admire the courage my father shows when he makes small adjustments to his life with MS. Instead of building and installing those heavy wooden cabinets, he now carves award-winning decoys of light-weight wood. Instead of being first at sports, he's first with patience for others ... and first to accept when someone he loves comes up short.

It may sound corny, but Dad, you have given me the memory of two men's lives. I will cherish them both always.

Happy Father's Day to a guy whose life gives a whole new interpretation of the famous old Two-step Dance. We love you so — perhaps twice as much — for being who you are.


Is this your June too?

Since the first week of May here is a sampling of my to-do list. No comment on which of these things were accomplished:
  • Attend Field Day
  • Attend picnic after field day
  • Attend all-school evening picnic
  • Clean up school grounds
  • Learn how to drive traffic (web traffic)
  • Celebrate Earth Day
  • Clean up river
  • Give away books and toys
  • Give away other household items
  • Make caterpillar costume for 1st grade play
  • Attend recorder concert and attend 1st grade play (at exactly the same time)
  • Be an effective employee
  • Attend French class breakfast
  • Bring in fresh flowers for teacher appreciation
  • Attend thank-you lunch for volunteers
  • Attend 3rd Grade Wax museum
  • Attend carnival
  • Spend $$ at carnival
  • Host pie eating contest at carnival
  • Be a gracious and loving mother
  • Bring in sprinkles for 1st grade end-of-year party
  • Bring in mini-marshmallows for 1st grade party
  • Get son to 7-year-old check up
  • Help with third grade party
  • Bring in adult clothes for relay race for 3rd grade party
  • Maintain an optimistic attitude
  • Help my daughter run for Vice President in primaries
  • Help my daughter withdraw from election after she made it through primaries and realized she was too busy
  • Drive ballet carpool
  • Dress rehearsal for end-of-the-year ballet recital
  • Attend end-of-the-year ballet recital, with bouquet for dancer
  • Submit camp medical and safety paperwork
  • Eat well and cook healthy meals at home for everyone
  • Attend little league game
  • Little league again (because it is twice a week)
  • Research and register for camps
  • Set-up summer play routine
  • Look attractive
  • Replace summer childcare solution at last minute
  • Pack for camp
  • Get exercise
  • Put ID labels on everything before packing for camp
  • Send Mother's Day cards/flowers/love
  • Send Father's Day cards/flowers/love
  • Celebrate Sister's birthday
  • Celebrate Nephew's birthday
  • Sleep well
  • Celebrate Mother's birthday
  • Send invitations for daughter's birthday
  • Hold sleepover for daughter's birthday
  • Celebrate my birthday
  • Practice gratitude
... Live my "best" life


Eco-CANsciousness ... Even at your house

I am so inspired to see headlines like these in a recent Southampton Press:
Town Invests $9m, Preserves 150 Acres (Wetlands)
(Surfrider) Competition Fosters Team Spirit (and Eco-Consciousness)
Green Innovator Finds 'Gold' in (Recycling) Old Rugs
If it can happen on the East End of Long Island, where short term thinking has made developers rich and town politics less than transparent, Eco-CANsciousness may also be sprouting where you are.

Who cares?

I do, and I am on my way to caring more because as a parent, giving a child a connection to the outdoors is the best possible gift you can make to conservation of all natural things.

As a child sure I "cared" about the land, but mostly I just played outside. I breathed the sweet dew-kissed air in spring. Swam the surf in summer. I endured swimming and sailing lessons in murky, dark bay waters. I feared the jelly fish, the horseshoe crab, the deer tick. I was terrified of horses, and would put my initials on box turtles (in pink nail polish) as a way to track their visits to the yard.

My conservation record was less than ideal to say the least. Looking back, it was probably the total number of hours I spent outdoors in contact with nature that must have been the key to my eventually becoming Eco-CANscious.

Help your kids become Eco-CANscious by making it easy, and keeping it local:
  • Encourage, if not demand, lots of outdoor play.
  • Buy a bird feeder and position it near a kitchen window (where we seem to be all the time). Learn to spot a few common feeder birds in your region
  • Visit a local farm during different seasons (but especially to pick your own fruit).
  • Visit a farmer's market - even just to browse. Taste all samples offered, even the onions!
  • Visit and feed horses at city stables.
  • Go walking/hiking. (Best way to get started is to repeat a fairly simple hike a few times so that everyone feels like they've mastered it and they quiet down.)
  • Get to water - ocean, river, lake, pond, stream, puddle!
  • Grow something - anything, even grass in a pot.
  • Keep it real.
Some aspects of nature are truly scary, unpleasant, odorous, poisonous, even deadly, etc., and these feelings are what help us develop respect for the power of the outdoors.

You are the one who can teach your child how to interact with the incredible forces of nature while kindling his/her sensory skills, intuition, and imagination in the process. Go for it! And if you just can't, then go get him/her a mentor family.

No guilt - just make sure you get the child outdoors.


Hey, Bo Diddley

I knew a bit about Bo's beat, but nothing about Bo, the man. The only redeeming thing about his passing is that the dialog around his genius is receiving some air time.

Get to know Bo Diddley with this Washington Post piece. I excerpt several key quotes from writer, J. Freedom du Lac below. Listen while you read:

... "Heyyyyy, Bo Diddley."

... Bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp. Bomp-bomp.

... "The most plagiarized rhythm of the 20th century," Rolling Stone magazine called it.

... Buddy Holly used the Bo Diddley beat on 1957's "Not Fade Away," which became a breakthrough hit for the Rolling Stones when they covered it seven years later.

... Elvis Presley borrowed the beat for "His Latest Flame." The Who rode the rhythm in "Magic Bus," Bruce Springsteen in "She's the One," U2 in "Desire."

... "Faith" by George Michael, "I Want Candy" by the Strangeloves, "1969" by the Stooges, "Willie and the Hand Jive" by Johnny Otis -- all propelled by variations of the Bo Diddley beat.

... Bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp. Bomp-bomp.

... "Watching Bo Diddley was university for me," Keith Richards recently told Rolling Stone. Jagger said yesterday that Diddley "was very generous to us in our early years and we learned a lot from him."

... In a statement yesterday, Academy chief Neil Portnow hailed Diddley as one of rock-and-roll's "true pioneers" who "leaves an indelible mark on American music and culture."

... He added: "The Bo Diddley beat surely will continue on."

... Bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp. Bomp-bomp.

Rest in peace, Bo, but never let that rhythm die. We'll always remember you fondly!


Blue-jet swims on

Alive for many months in Fish Hospice, Blue-jet's ride came this morning.

Strong little swimmer

Rest in peace

Away from this small life now ...