Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In the Fullness of Time

I recently read a book called "In the Fullness of Time," a collection of essays by women reflecting on aging.

This passage particularly touched me as I thought about my daughter, newly in love, and I shared it with her, hoping she will appreciate the lovely time she is experiencing:
The woman looks at the pink and sees that she will never be a bride or pregnant, and if she is lucky enough to fall in love, it won't be the way love was when she was younger, because when she was younger she had time. Simple, beautiful, abundant time.

These passages are from Vivian Gornick:

An aging face can never mean to a man what it means to a woman, as youthful beauty has never been a provider of the goods of life for men as it has been for women.

It is not, I believe, the fear of death that threatens but the fear that our lives are not being lived; or rather, that we are not living them.

A young woman needs to do nothing to gain attention and consideration. She need only be. Her unadorned existence provides interest and animation, in return for which she receives unearned privilege. For a middle-aged woman it is otherwise, as she watches low-level attention (and some unearned privilege) evaporate from her life as a result of no longer looking young.

When I was young, there always seemed to be a crowd of people (mostly men) waiting around to hear what I had to say. Today, when I'm out among people, I find myself either ignored or patronized. Men talk to me as if I'm an idiot. It's as though I've committed a transgression by getting older, and I'm being isolated for it.

Any thoughts Ladies?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Presque Isle

We just spent two days sitting on the beach at Presque Isle in Erie PA. When I mentioned our little getaway to some people I discovered that many had not heard of this place. It's only two hours from Cleveland and it is 8 miles of beautiful beaches. I spent many days there in my childhood and remember leaving at sunset with my skin on fire, tired, and sandy, but happy. I had not been there for many years and found that they had built huge barriers out in the water along the beaches to prevent erosion. The beaches are now in a sort of scalloped shape, moving inland where there are no barriers so it must work, but I wonder how odd the beachfront will one day be. Presque Isle is part of the State Park system. It is clean and each beach is organized with bathhouses and bathrooms and concessions stands - yet it still seems primitive and wild. The greenery is lush and the parkways well taken care of. And it's Lake Erie! One of the days we were there was so windy that the waves were 4-5 feet high. We played in them like children - who could resist? There is something very fun about jumping over waves and having water push you around and surprise you. I could just feel my dad lifting me over the waves while he got them smack in the face. Sometimes we don't take advantage of the truly free gifts in life - a massive lake on a summer day is one of them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Wedding

It's strange that when I have more time I seem to blog less. Yet, the uniqueness of summer is that my brain takes a little vacation. It's not that I think less - it's that I'm thinking about much different things. The freedom to choose my activities, my schedule and what to focus on makes summer versus school year like living two separate lives - each one takes some adjustment time. (Retirement probably won't be as much as a shock as it is for some people.)

Anyway! This summer is filled with the anticipation of my son's wedding in August. He is marrying a young woman who has been so good for him and has been a part of our lives for ten years. So as much as it is a natural progression, I never could have imagined how consuming the anticipation would be - in a good way, a very good way. Each step towards the wedding has been emotional and joyous. I started crying on the day last October when my daughter-in-law-to-be included me in finding and buying her wedding dress - and I haven't stopped. It makes me ponder why weddings are so emotional.

For years I sang at many weddings. It was intimidating being such a central part of the wedding ceremony, and whether I knew the bride and groom or not, I would find myself getting teary - usually as the bride walked down the aisle, something I always had a good view of from the chancel area of the church.

I think that weddings represent hope. Hope in the future, hope for happiness, hope that new people will be born into the family and hope that love really lasts forever. Even for those of us who have experienced the heartbreaking reality of divorce, we still hope that others will escape it - especially our children.

So I may be distracted for a while! I have complete confidence that my son has chosen the right person and I look forward to the ceremony and reception - I just hope I can keep my emotions under control... I'll let you know. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Coexist Quotes

I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon the earth.
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

All men - whether they go by the name of Americans or Russians or Chinese or British or Malayans or Indians or Africans - have obligations to one another that transcend their obligations to their sovereign societies.
Norman Cousins (1915-1990)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

O Say Does Your Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave?

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer - July 4, 2010

Its lyrics sound old-fashioned, yet "The Star-Spangled Banner" is riven by the emotions of that moment under fire - of resistance, of sacrifice, of the determination of a young country not to be yoked again to a European superpower and, above all, of victory.

It is redolent of all our wars already fought, yet to come or on-going today, in which young, brave, patriotic, committed Americans expose themselves to the ultimate sacrifce to preserve what is special and enduring aobut our nation.

So today as we mark the 234th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, let us recommit also to honoring America's sons and daughters who remain under fire far from home.

Let us contemplate what it means to sacrifce, together, for a cause. And the next time we have the chance to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" let us do more than lip-sync words forged from the heart under hire: "O! Say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the lane of the free and the home of the brave?"

And as much as I believe in treating our troops with dignity and respect now and when they return home - I still pray for the day when no one will send their son or daughter off to fight in another country. THAT will truly be a day to celebrate. Maybe that day will never come here on earth or in our lifetimes. Maybe humans are not capable of truly coexisting, and PEACE is just a dream to IMAGINE, but I still have to believe in COEXIST.

Someday - let us read about war in history books - and not in the morning newpaper.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tremont and Visible Voice Bookstore

There is a wonderful area of Cleveland called Tremont on the near west side. The neighborhood streets are lined with interesting old homes interspersed with upscale restaurants, art galleries, shops, a lovely park and a great bookstore called Visible Voice. Last weekend we actually had a free night and we ended up in Tremont. It was one of those perfect June nights - a slight breeze, warm but not hot, no humidity. We ate a delicious meal at the Bistro on Lincoln Park on the sidewalk patio. Then we walked down the street to Visible Voice to a wine tasting. You can sit in the garden courtyard, sip wine, listen to music (this night a steel guitar) browse the bookstore and just enjoy the relaxing ambience. Visible Voice has an entire Garden Courtyard music series, poetry readings,and author signings. Tremont has activities all summer - art walks, farmer's market, cultural festival, even a civil war encampment.

Our neighbor Dave owns Visible Voice and I have done a poetry reading there (see above!)- but I would be a big fan anyway. So if you are looking for something to do off the beaten path that is always interesting (with great restaurants) visit Tremont - just one of the great things about Cleveland.