The beauty of perception…or do you see what I see?

How many of us could look at an identical image and, yet, each see something different? And that’s just the beauty of it. And that’s part of what makes life interesting. And that’s what is on my mind.

I’ve always loved the outdoors. As a small child in Burlington, VT, I spent the majority of my waking hours outdoors. We lived on a dead end street with woods running behind the houses and at the end of the block. Woods are a fertile playground.

Add to it Vermont’s natural beauty. Vermont is a magical place where one is meant to be out of doors to appreciate all it has to offer. I did as a child, and I did each summer that I visited until I was 16 and started working. But my love of the woods, the lake, the pool, skating, skiing, and horses would certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea.

People who never learned to swim might be leery of any body of water. Those afraid of being stung by insects, especially if allergic, would want to stay indoors. As well as folks who don’t tolerate the sun well. So my idea of heaven is easily someone else’s idea of hell. Fair enough.

Take a look at the picture that is part of the post. What do YOU see? A fire. Yup. Some body of water. Uh huh. Trees. Okay. Stone firepit. True.

That’s what is on the surface. Is this a pleasant moment? A scary moment? Is it a time of memories? A time of solitude? A prelude to merriment? Remember that perception is what you bring of yourself to a situation. It’s constructed of your life experience, your expectations, what you think you’re seeing. But are you seeing everything? A rhetorical question, sorry. There is no answer. If a group of people looked at this same image, it would be interesting to ask what each sees. Think about it.

The same is true with people. We seem to see what we want to see or we see our perception of whispered gossip or we inject images that just aren’t there. Take me, for example. Into my college years I was trim and active. Fun-loving, smiling, and always cracking jokes. I played that role well. I didn’t feel that way at all on the inside. But due to the fact I was somewhat silly, I was never taken that seriously. Add to it that I was an uninspired student and it doesn’t give you a remarkable perception of me as a young person. Honestly, I have no idea how I was perceived except for some of the names I was called such as “burly” and “dyke.”

I wanted to belong as most teenagers do. But I also wanted to be myself. I was a reader, a thinker, an observer. I loved learning as much I loved playing tennis and volleyball. I was fine unless I had to speak in front of the class, or, God forbid, a boy. During my early college years, I lived at home and attended a local college because I was footing the bill for my education and also needed to work. I worked almost full-time at a nursery/garden center. When customers asked if it was my career I smiled and said I was in college. Then they’d invariably ask if I was studying to be a gym teacher. I’d politely tell them I was an English major. Some of them even quizzed me. More the fool were they. I always knew the answer. Pft.

So don’t assume you know everything about a person or place because you bring just your perception. We aren’t a large enough piece of this world to assume we have all of the answers. And if you want an honest glimpse into a person, look at his or her eyes when you are speaking. The eyes will tell you much of what you need to know. If you’re too uneasy to do that, then just listen. Don’t just hear, take an active role and listen. You will surprise yourself by what you learn.

N.B. The photo in this post is one I could construct half a dozen stories around. In reality, it represents bittersweet memories for me.

Catch you on the other side. Class dismissed.

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“Ramble On…”

A song has been stuck in my head for several days. There are a few reasons though I don’t quite know how it materialized in my head. Some things just aren’t better to know. I never was too aware of Led Zeppelin until college. My musical tastes back in the day ran to the standards of Classic Rock and typical 70’s stuff, but never much Zep.

I transferred to Cortland State prior to my junior year. It was very pretty there and my dorm room window overlooked the public waterworks area which was enclosed by a fence and contained deer and other animals. It’s an easy vision to summon. Right now it’s snowing, the perimeter is lighted and the animals are quiet. It’s evening after all. I’ve just finished reading a novel and I’m staring out the window and trying to summon the meaning of what I read.

It snowed a great deal in Cortland and my window held such a mesmerizing view. Prior to the holidays the public waterworks was lit with scores of clear white lights. It was like being at the North Pole. My dorm was located on a steep hill overlooking the waterworks which was across the road. In our “right minds,” we took the long way around and walked down the sidewalk to the road and back toward the waterworks. It took a while to do. It was cold out. It was snowing. Always. Snowing.

On weekends we took the express route to the waterworks, in a time-honored, if not lethal, tradition of traying. This rite of stupidity is marked by some industrious students borrowing some of the cafeteria trays. The staging area was at the top of the steep hill. A spotter was at the bottom of the hill to wave off your start in case there was a car coming. Sometimes the spotter paid attention.

It was exhilarating to whoosh down that steep hill and rocket across the road over the film of snow, left in the wake of other “trayers,” that stretched toward the waterworks. Though it was an extremely foolish thing to do, one does feel invincible in one’s youth. I can still feel the cold air battering against my face as I plummeted down, praying a car wasn’t coming. Then there was the joy of arriving in the waterworks to join other evening revelers.

This memory has an underlying Zeppelin theme as there was a kid on my dorm who idolized the musicians in the band. On these evenings he was often one of the purveyors of trays and would belt out Zep tunes to inspire our trips down the hill. He joyously sang “Ramble On” as his sneakered foot shoved the tray into the moonlight.

“Ramble On” means other things to me. I’m not musical though I enjoy listening to music. For me, songs are mostly about the words. They’re poetry, really. I write poetry, mostly for my own enjoyment and because it’s the last thing I ever thought I’d do. Part of this song appeals to the lone wolf inside of me. I prefer to live my life on my terms without much regard to conventions. I will have no spawn to carry my DNA into the future. It was meant to be that way. But I will continue to experience life to the fullest and have my adventures, so…

“…For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it’s headed my way
Ah, sometimes I grow so tired
But I know I’ve got one thing I got to do…

Ramble on, and now’s the time, the time is now

To sing my song, I’m going ’round the world, I gotta find my [way]…”

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Visiting old memories…

The location of my current home is ironic to me. As a kid, I moved from a neighborhood that had a handful of kids around to one that had just one other family with a kid my age. I liked to play so that was inconvenient for me. So, instead of being a kid who always wanted to be someone else, I became a kid who wanted to live in someone else’s neighborhood.

If forced to choose, I would have lived in the neighborhood where many of my fellow Girl Scouts lived. It was a fairly typical collection of houses built in the mid to late 1950’s and early 1960s. At the time the neighborhood would have been considered “high living.” Now it is seen as modest. Like any typical neighborhood, friendships were formed, broken, and maintained. To me, the kids living in the neighborhood seemed tight.

I had a few friends who lived there and I was always excited to go over there and play. I’d say it was about a mile and a half from my house so I often needed my mom to take me. Real excitement was to be allowed to ride the bus home with my friend, Barbara. Because I was a “walker,” meaning I lived close enough to school to walk, I never had the thrill of riding the school bus. So being able to go to Barbara’s house after school was an event on the level of going out to dinner with a friend’s family. It was beyond cool.

Barbara and I were good friends during our Middle School years but drifted apart in the 9th grade and then her family moved. But I loved going to Barbara’s house. Back then I was being raised in a single parent household and had an older sibling who didn’t have time for his little sister, mostly because he was involved with those “magical” teenage years.

Barbara’s household was busy. She had two little brothers and a mom who did not work outside of the home. Barbara and I spent endless hours playing outside. Adjacent to the neighborhood was a large undeveloped area full of trees, hills of dirt and sand. A kid’s paradise. We spent a fair amount of time playing and roughhousing. The only thing to upset our euphoric play was the appearance of a couple of schoolyard bullies, both of whom were the same age as us and also lived on Barbara’s block. They quickly ruined the mood whenever they appeared.

Those two were like Scut Farkus and his toadie Grover Dill, the bullies from A Christmas Story. We could easily have taken care of them but we were obedient kids and were instructed over and over not to fight. Plus, we were girls. Girls didn’t do those things, not that we didn’t want to!

During the early 1970s the wonderful vacant property began to be developed. Once Barbara moved, I had no reason to go to that neighborhood. The one lone time was to walk my junior prom date from a party to his house because he was “under the weather” and I didn’t think he would make it home on his own. It was a few years before I discovered a whole new neighborhood had been constructed on the empty property.

Well, I live in that neighborhood that was a playground in my youth. Whenever I drive to and fro, or take walks, I’m transported back to my youth. I can’t remember where all of the kids used to live but I remember several houses. Any time I drive, or walk, by a particular house my memory always announces whose house it was. Lest you think I’m barmy, that is a silent event in my head. I’m not comporting myself through a neighborhood loudly reciting names.

Thanks for listening while I reconstructed a memory. It was nice and I smiled while I was typing. By the way, if you see Austin tell him his old house is for sale again; I already sent Barbara a picture of her old house which has a large addition in the back; tell Carolyn that when I accompany my mother on walks in the cul-de-sac, I always stop and tell her how we used to learn Girl Scout stuff in the little gully next to that house (I can recite and point at the same time); and tell Pete there is an addition on the back of his old house that looks kind of strange. It’s so nice to walk amongst the happiness.

Can’t find the photo I wanted to post with this but I will!

PS – This was not at all what I started to write. It took on a mind of its own, as it often does.

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A future path?

I do love the outdoors but have not been able to enjoy it as I once did. As a kid, I walked country roads in the Mount Mansfield area of Vermont, hiked numerous trails, and was one of the many who have climbed Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. A lifetime of sports injuries and weight gain derailed my ability to hike but it hasn’t robbed me of the desire.

My growing up years were spent in the pursuit of being outdoors and, when I had to be indoors, the pursuit of reading. Reading fueled my imagination and the outdoors fueled my sense of adventure. As a little kid, I spent hours outside in the yard or in woods playing with my friends. We often reenacted tv shows, Westerns of course, despite the fact there was nothing Western about Vermont or upstate NY.

As a teen I was on my own quite a bit and loads of time was spent getting myself to friend’s houses and back home again. If I wasn’t using my bike, I was walking. My imagination was chock full of stories and books I’d read and I found ample time to fit myself into some interesting scenarios by way of daydreaming. In my head I created scene after scene of a kind of life I thought would be interesting.

This is how walking through the woods to get to school becomes interesting. Time passed quickly as my mind spun through its Rolodex of ideas. The woods became a hideout location for gangsters, or a place of solace to read, or an opportunity to dam up the small stream thus saving the village down the creek. Of course these were all imaginary scenarios but they provided fodder for continued play at a later date,

In fact, during junior high years, a friend, or friends, and I would pack a lunch and picnic in these woods. This fun activity came to a screeching halt one afternoon when my bff and I came upon a man dressed in a raincoat. You’ve got it! He flashed us. It was a scary event for a couple of 7th grade girls who thought they were sophisticated but were very naïve, indeed. We bicycled swiftly to my friend’s house and told her mother. Thus ended our forays through those woods.

Older and stronger found bunches of us riding bikes to a local environmental farm. Run by the state of NY, there were trails and lots of wildlife to see. There was also a much wider creek to explore and a large pond. We took our picnic lunches out there and walked the trails. It was pretty wholesome adventure. But it spurred my creative mind and my thoughts turned once again to imaginary adventure. However, thoughts of boys began to insert themselves into these stories in my mind. What would it be like to walk the trail holding a boy’s hand? Or to be kissed by a boy on a moonlit night while standing on the bridge by the pond? You get the idea.

I guess because of my penchant for reading, I’ve lived a lot of my time through my imagination. Have any of my imaginary scenarios ever panned out? Not going to tell. But I did once manage a romantic evening walk through a lightly falling snow with a beau. It was wonderful. I do think I write in order to make some of my “dreams” come true. I’m not too old to hope for more adventure. I do need to get into better shape so I can do some hiking when spring rolls around.

My imagination needs some work. It’s time to wander down some unfamiliar trails. I have no idea what might await!

Photo credit: Wendy Hauser Liebl

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the pull of the moon…

I love to gaze at the moon.  I’m not sure why and I’m not sure what I think about while staring at it.  I just love to see it.  There’s nothing better on a cold, crisp winter evening than to look into the cold, dark sky and to see the moon shining for all it is worth.  While a full moon is beautiful to behold, I’m a fan of the crescent moon.

A crescent moon shape is thought to have many symbolic meanings.  I like it for its simple beauty and clean lines.  I like the points on either end and how its shape tapers in between.  And when I look upon the moon I often wonder who else may be looking.  Think about it.  It’s up there for virtually everyone to see.  How many others take a moment to stop and notice it?

By now you know I taught English for many years and have been an avid reader since early childhood.  I first read The Outsiders when I was a pre-teen.  It was 1970-ish and I thought it would be so cool to be a Greaser and belong to a gang.  Even the idea of being an orphan appealed to me.  There are many lessons to be learned from this novel.  One of the best is when the narrator, Ponyboy Curtis, a Greaser, is talking to fellow high school student Cherry Valance, a Soc.  The Socs were the elite group in high school and the Greasers were the have-nots.  Pony and Cherry spend time talking about life.  Pony realizes they are in different social strata, yet are just teenagers trying to live their lives.

“It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”  (S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders)  As different as their lives are, they each enjoy looking at sunsets.  Do they see the same image or is it influenced by their circumstances?  It isn’t difficult to see this metaphor playing out in all of our lives.

The other evening I saw a beautiful crescent moon sitting in a deep blue sky as twilight approached.  It was so beautiful it almost took my breath away.  I wondered if anyone else was noticing the same sight at the same moment.  Then I remembered Pony and Cherry’s chat about sunsets.  Applied to today’s situations of unrest and divisiveness, I wondered why people are unable to see the merits of some of our health care concerns.  So much is unsettled in this country.  More people need to stop and think about how we can look at the moon or the sun and see something similar, yet we are unable to look at social and medical concerns and see the same things.  It’s a pretty simple concept, right?

 

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And so, it ends…

This year has been a challenge, to say the least.  Our pandemic-driven lives have changed immensely, if one still believes in limited contact, social distancing, etc.  I do and avoid going out to many places.  I make certain I’m masked and wash my hands constantly.

At this time of the year I have often lamented the close of summer and the beginning of another school year.  I’m so happy to be retired.  I can’t fathom what teachers are going through right now.  As if the start of school wasn’t stressful enough, now one has to worry about the virus.  I honestly don’t know what I would do if I was expected to go into a school building and teach.  I’m immuno-compromised to begin with and this summer has been a tremendous challenge for me to remain healthy.  Thankfully I don’t have to make that decision but it doesn’t stop me from thinking and praying for those who do.

So, yeah, my health has been an Achilles heel since May.  It took several weeks to determine what was causing me to feel unwell and then several to decide on a method of treatment.  Two hospitalizations, two separate blood transfusions, six iron infusions (one more to go), three COVID tests, and my hemoglobin count is finally back in double digits.  I’d become severely anemic due to the blood thinner I take for atrial fibrillation.  It caused me to bleed somewhere in the gastric area.  Despite tests, we never determined where.

In less than ten days I will have a procedure to plug an unused pouch in my heart where blood clots form so that I will be able to discontinue using blood thinners.  I know a few people who have been through this Watchman procedure and are doing well.  I hope to join their ranks.

A word to the wise.  I’ve had a great deal of experience advocating for my elderly family members when they’ve been medical patients.  I’m not the best at advocating for myself.  However, I have stepped up that game a great deal this summer.  It has shown results as it helped to push forward a plan for my wellness and to monitor my blood levels constantly.  I don’t go to the doctor unless I sense something is wrong.  If I tell a doctor I don’t feel well, it’s because I don’t feel well.

Severe anemia is wide-reaching in its effects.  When my counts were at their lowest, it affected my eyesight upon rising from bed, it affected my energy and stamina, it caused shortness of breath, and at times it increased my atrial fibrillation.  Oh, and the internal bleeding really lowered my blood pressure.  Instead of walking to people’s houses in the neighborhood, I’ve been driving.

If your instincts are like mine, and you know your body, do not hesitate to nag your doctors for results.

What I missed most this summer was being in the water.  I’ve loved the water since I was a tiny child.  I swim every summer, all summer.  This year was an exception.  I tried a few times but just couldn’t muster enough energy to enjoy it.  I had to be content with memories and I’m thankful to have many that relate to the water.

Enjoy the following excerpt.  May it bring you some peace.  From Donall Dempsey’s The Language of Water:

You wait by the lake
alone

except for your self
&
your reflected self

as if the landscape
dreamt you up.

Your thoughts a flock of birds
scattered across the failing light.

Clouds laugh
run along the ground
on tiny unseen feet.

IMG_0411

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Intro for high school (BCSD project)

This chapter will follow the chapter on the jr/sr high, and subsequent middle school:

 

The United States saw a blossoming of suburban life after World War II.  The Town of Bethlehem was no exception.  By the late 1940s it was necessary for the use of double sessions at the junior/senior high school.  The community realized a new high school was needed and in 1951 they voted and approved plans and funding for a new school building.

 

An introduction in the 1955 Oriole Yearbook sums up the excitement for the new senior high school.  “…We will find a building functional in every detail.  We will see a structure that is beautiful in its own modern way.  We will discover gigantic windows, green blackboards, modern furniture, designed as is every part of the building, for comfort, health, utility, and pleasure.  We will examine a building that was planned to accommodate the needs and wishes of the students.  Because of this, the building may be said to be an inanimate manifestation of the students.”  The tenor of this statement embodies Hamilton Bookhout’s deep care for his students.

 

It must have been beyond exciting to behold a sprawling new school complete with a swimming pool.  The only school with a pool prior to BCHS was the Albany Academy.  Just as the building on Kenwood Avenue allowed for increased opportunities for students, so did the new building on Delaware Avenue.  There were larger and more complete recreational facilities, science labs, and library space.

 

This was the period of the Cold War and the United States was doing its best to keep in stride with the accomplishments of the Soviet Union.  To expand educational opportunities for students, teachers were offered prospects to enrich their professional skills.  Grants, fellowships, and exchange teaching were made available and many teachers availed themselves of these opportunities.  A school district with an already exemplary reputation became an even better institution of learning.

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Simpler times…

During this era of pandemic illness and isolation we have had a chance to get back to the basics a bit.  We’ve gone out far less, eaten more at home, and families are spending more time together than perhaps they ever have.  It takes getting used to because we have become a culture of constantly being on the move, tied to our electronic devices, and not really paying attention to what is taking place around us.

I’ve long been a consumer of words in all forms.  Recently a friend wrote, ” A time when people took time to meet on a sidewalk in town, a front porch or a park and sit a spell. To slow down, disconnect from the world and have a conversation. A real conversation that had substance and no filler. One that made you think about the world and your place in it or at least opened your thoughts up a bit.”  His words are in reference to the purposeful choice of old-time names for his dogs.  Never did I have an inkling, when we were teenagers, that this individual would think so deeply and our thoughts would connect on this level.  I’m sure he never had an inkling I was capable of philosophic thought.  That’s the beauty of maturity and wisdom.  Decades pass and people see each other for who they really are.

At any rate, his words got me thinking.  I think far too much, but I enjoy it.  Thinking and writing are as natural as breathing to me.  Just as my breathing has been compromised recently by severe anemia, so have my thought and writing processes.  Thanks to this  friend’s words, my process is again sputtering to life.

I’ve always loved to read.  I mean, I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to lose myself in a good book or short story.  Though I read poetry and studied it for my degree in English, I never imagined I would ever write it.  I have, and I do.  It’s mostly for my own consumption at this point.  Maybe someday I will publish a volume.  Stranger things have happened.

Though I have never considered myself to be a huge Science Fiction fan, I’ve read a fair amount throughout my life.  I studied some in high school, and college.  Then fate allowed me to teach an elective in high school about sci fi.  In order to teach most effectively, and this is my own theory, I felt I needed to find sci fi that I enjoyed reading in order to convey that positive attitude to the students.  Over the years, I used several short stories in the sci fi elective.

One of them leapt to mind in light of “A time when people took time to meet….”  It’s called “The Third Level,”  is written by Jack Finney, and first appeared in print in Collier’s magazine in 1950.   It was a nice story to teach because it is fairly brief in length but is rich with meaning and irony.  The basic premise is a man finds another level at Grand Central Station one day on his way home from work.  The train takes him back to the 1894 version of his hometown.  He returns to the present time but yearns for simpler times and is determined to make his way back to 1894 once again.  I won’t say much beyond that.  The story is available online.

Finney builds on a theme of wanting an escape from living in more complex times.  Is it good?  Is it bad?  Were earlier times better?  It’s not for me to say.  Read the story and draw your own conclusions.  Science fiction grew largely out of the uneasiness of post- World War II America.  The decade of the 1950s was host to the fear of people unfamiliar to us (xenophobia), fear of the Cold War, etc.  The sci fi stories, novels, and films played on those fears and illuminated them in various ways.  Jack Finney wrote a novel in the early 1950s called Body Snatchers.  It became the basis for the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  The idea of pods replacing people as emotionless beings is a thin shot at Communism being a bad thing because people would all be the same.  Again. this is a simplistic view.  If you’d taken my course, you would have had further discussion and study.

I do miss talking about literature, I really do.  But thankfully I have memories.  And I just love the thought of former classmates who are probably surprised that I’m capable of this type of  thought.  Just shows that it isn’t good to judge a book by its cover.  While we can’t go back to the way things once were, Jay Gatsby never learned that lesson, we can find ways to simplify and take some time to appreciate what really surrounds and sustains us.

1890 life

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Outside of the box works!

Life during a pandemic is challenging. While happy that I’m retired and was able to skip whatever the teachers have had to go through, I’ve felt a great sense of loss for the nation’s students. And I’ve watched as school districts have knocked it out of the park to give these kids a special graduation experience. But, I must admit, there are times when I think that these kids need to suck it up a bit and deal with these unprecedented situations. Many of the kids I see parading around town don’t wear masks nor do they social distance. This applies to all ages of kids. I’m not here to get on my soapbox about that. I’ve looked online at scads of photos posted by the local school district (where I taught for 25 years) of this year’s graduation(s), done in small groups of 40 students ( graduating class of 385), and couldn’t help but think it was a much more personal experience.

I attended and/or worked at more than half of the graduations during my teaching career. I was more and more disenchanted with graduation ceremonies as time passed on due to youthfully exuberant student activities like batting beach balls around, spraying silly string, use of squirt guns, etc. I guess I’m old fashioned and feel graduation is a milestone event and should be somewhat dignified. I stopped attending when a graduate’s grandmother came and yelled at me for confiscating a squirt gun (as was part of my responsibility). It was a super soaker, not just a tiny squirt gun. Another year found me telling a student to extinguish a cigarette and was told, “go the hell, we aren’t on school property.” Thankfully a male school administrator overheard and took care of the situation.

This year’s graduates showed me that it wasn’t all about them. They donated money saved for prom venue and activities to charity. They took all of this in stride and negotiated the last few months of the school year in isolation. Yes, they complained about missing out on the traditional activities but I think they will find it makes their graduation all the more meaningful for them. Maybe “traditional” graduation ceremonies need to be reconsidered. They seem to have lost their meaning. Schools had to think outside the box this year. My belief is they were very successful. I know there were many other activities that were related to honoring the seniors and they seemed great fun and momentous in their own way. Best of luck to all 2020 graduates, but especially to those of my home district.

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Missing, yet discovering…

These past few months have been challenging. That said, I speak those words as a fortunate individual. I’d never been much of a fan of the Governor of New York but he provided stable leadership through the pandemic with his use of facts. Did he make mistakes? Sure. But I feel confident in following his guidelines as it relates to the health crisis. It also helps that I don’t live in the hardest hit area of NYS.

I still carry angst over contracting this illness. It isn’t a hardship for me to stay home. I venture out to do some grocery shopping and to run the odd errand. I avail myself of takeout in order to support local eateries. But since I’m at a higher risk, and also interact with an elderly parent, I remain vigilant. I’m well aware this is no time to be complacent.

That doesn’t mean I don’t miss social interaction. Texting and phone conversations aren’t able to substitute for human contact. Now that the weather is nicer some of my neighbors and I sit outdoors at safe distances from one another and chat. That’s been a big boon for me. I was also able to have my hair cut the other day. And the big news yesterday is that the Governor gave approval for pools to open. I’ve been missing our neighborhood pool tremendously. Being in the water has always been a salvation for me.

And I miss sports. I’ve adjusted; luckily I have many other interests. But I miss the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd. Mostly I miss the ritual. My evenings were often taken up with the pre-game show and the game. I may not have always watched intently but it was always in the background.

Baseball, once our national pastime, has dimmed in popularity. I’ve always liked it because it appeals to the Romantic in me…and it harkens back to simpler times. While doing genealogical research, I learned more about my one relative who was a baseball player but never got beyond the minor leagues. He played for an assortment of teams throughout the 1890s and the decade after the turn of the century. One of his last stints was as a player/manager of the Albany Senators in that first decade of the 20th century. No one could know then that his niece would marry an Albanian and relocate from New Haven. It amazes me how far and wide players traveled each year just to play baseball. There were a tremendous number of leagues and teams. So many men were able to live out their childhood fantasies and feel the joy of being outdoors playing a game they loved.

Maybe my view is idealistic but it’s fun to think about. It distracts me from another pandemic consequence…wild and crazy dreams. Mine are plagued by a specific person. Last night the dream involved playing tennis. Now that, in and of itself, isn’t odd because so much of my earlier life was steeped in tennis. I remember in the dream I only had my old wooden racket (Wilson-Jack Kramer model) to use and one good tennis ball. The other tennis balls were either flat or ruptured. And the person on the other side of the net, that haunting individual, hit the ball everywhere but not to me. There was other stuff going on but it becomes tedious. At any rate, it was not a successful tennis outing. Plus those dreams lead me down the “I was once a proficient athlete, but let myself go” road. I’m tired of that journey.

And now I must stop procrastinating and finish a chapter of my book. One more after that and the writing will be done. It seems I will never get it completed. It’s too important not to get it done so I will keep inching my way forward.

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