What I did on my summer vacation, Part one…

(…Because, really, summer is barely started, and I don’t “GET” a summer vacation!)

I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I haven’t fallen off the edge of the world, just been kind of out and about and not feeling like much of anything is being accomplished. Must be the summer doldrums—you know, that Hazy, Hot, Humid drag on your energy?

We got back from our small vacation—( we spent most of our vacation money on a new driveway and shed—) IMG_8465

—about two weeks ago, and I dove right back into the chaos that is work lately. I only just the other day finished editing and uploading photos from our trip to the Jersey Shore, Staten Island and Manhattan.

We arrived at Seaside Heights Thursday night.20110623-1420110623-31

Monster sized pizza and drizzly boardwalks.

The center point of our trip was to be a small memorial for my dad, complete with cats.


(These kitties were sewn from a few of my dad’s flannel shirts. Dad was a cat person, I think he had 7?)

We ended up not only at St. Peter’s Cemetery on Staten Island, 20110624-2

but we seemed to have found a theme of final resting places—(as well as yummy places to eat and lots of FUN!)

Moravian Cemetery on Staten Island, to me one of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve seen, where many of my ancestors rest.20110624-29

Then on the way to dinner at Denino’s, IMG_0051

we detoured to Historic Richmondtown and St. Andrews Church Cemetery. This is the perfect old cemetery. Again, more ancestors.20110624-51

This is the gravestone of Catherine Hannah Guyon. She died when she was six. There is a letter at Richmondtown that she dictated to her father while he was away at Congress, where she described a party she was going to be attending. She tells of a white dress and blue beads and ribbons. I made Arlie a china doll one Christmas, depicting this story.)

Then, dessert at Ralph’s.


YUM. (although I have to say I think they used to taste better when they were in those thin paper cups that got all wet and sticky!!)

We detoured to Blazing Star Burial Ground on Sunday; more ancestors20110626-48

and the only easy access to another and very fascinating graveyard, sometimes called the Elephant’s Graveyard.20110626-62

Our trip from Staten Island to Manhattan brought us first to the 9/11 memorial in St. George,


and then a visit to Ground Zero and some memorials in the area, 20110625-246

as well as a wander through Trinity Church’s graveyard and St. Paul’s Chapel.

From there, we actually just wandered the day away in Manhattan, with no specific itinerary, and enjoyed our discovery of the Hudson River Park 20110625-77

and a second trip to the Highline Park (Which was WAY too crowded on this lovely summer weekend to really appreciate.) 20110625-113

Dinner was after a VERY long line at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park,20110625-168

where we had a lovely view of the Empire State Building (too early in the day to have seen it all lit up in Rainbow colors )


Sunday found us in Coney Island,20110626-141

and then a late dinner with a good friend in Midtown.

Monday, back to the BEACH!!! Point Pleasant for the afternoon,


and then home again, home again, jiggity jig!

(To see more photos of any area, simply click on the hyperlinks near the photo and it will take you to my photo website…   <—-THIS TAKES YOU THERE TOO… to the entire gallery called Places to go)

The Heart of The Matter

I move through life via song lyrics, in the same way others process through movie quotes, or books or…well, I don’t know, original ideas? 😉  I rarely remember the first time I hear a song, but so often songs and events or songs and people become connected in my head. One doesn’t have to have anything to do with the other for the connection to take place either…. (although dancing with my husband on our wedding day might make a song get linked…)

Some songs have many layers to them, and they take their place in the pathways through my brain for different reasons than may have been indicated by the lyricist.

Sometimes it’s simply a turn of phrase that connects with me, sometimes it may be the overall tone or theme of the arrangement that strikes a chord.

Now, again, tomorrow— we have to acknowledge another year has gone by, and what have we learned? Are we closer to or farther from our desires: our belief in peace and love and happiness? And forgiveness?  I can’t remember a month ramping up to the anniversary of September 11 that has been so hate-filled, so divisive.

People say if we let an Islamic community center near ground zero go ahead, we are letting “them” win. Not, not, not! “We” are winning, by showing that our constitution, our religious freedom is alive and well, and that “they” can’t take that freedom away from us so easily. If we deny them the ability to worship/gather (swim, play basketball), we are no better than “they” are. Why is that hard to understand?

I watched those towers fall, real time– too close– even across a harbor. I saw, smelled, tasted, heard, felt them fall. (I’m sorry, saw one fall. I turned my back just before the second fell, because I couldn’t process the number of people dying, and as soon as my back was turned…)  I went to a funeral on a cold misty morning, I watched hearses, I watched cranes, I walked the canyons, I saw the smoke from my kitchen window. I still think they should build the community center.

And I think that anyone who will call themselves Christian and yet thinks that burning another religions holy book is OK is totally missing the point. And after hearing from our military leaders that it is a dangerous thing to do, I think that not only are they foolish but they are wishing ill upon our soldiers, and our civilians, and they are not defending any religion I am interested in being a part of.

Last night, I tried to verbalize a feeling—-I wondered if maybe those who were survivors of 9-11 (either in actually having been and survived, or having lost close family) as opposed to the rest of the country, to whom this may be something closer to an exercise in patriotism, a civics lesson pulled out at the beginning of every school year—I wondered if maybe the survivors hadn’t moved not- ‘on’- but moved forward with the cards that they have been dealt.

They have continued to marry, bear and raise children, and live  their lives with the hole that their family member(s) left. But possibly, aren’t those holes slowly cushioned by layers of life? When the rest of the USA pulls out their 9-11 box, full of horrorific memory, opening it anew each year, is their hole possibly harder, deeper and less capable of dealing with, than if you stare at the hole every day, if you learn to live with the hole?

It’s a difficult thing to state, to get out onto the screen the way I am thinking it. But, if you had to go through the five steps of grief– (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance)– if you had to pack up your loved ones personal belongings, explain to your children why mommy isn’t coming home, walk your daughter down the aisle in her fathers stead, might nine years of the day-to-day-to-day-ness of it not caused you to … well, reach acceptance? Forgiveness?  (I don’t know, and I don’t presume to minimize anyone’s experience)

It makes me fear for our sanity, fear for our future, that people who claim to be so sensible, and Christian, and patriotic are becoming so incomprehensibly vile. Bad, non-practicing Catholic that I am, I recall this overarching theme in the religious training of my youth. LOVE ONE ANOTHER. I must have been mistaken.

My original September 11 2001 thoughts. I feel compelled to pull out the scrapbook I made every year, and I cry, every year.

Some songs that are poignant and remind me of that September Morn:

Let It Be (The Beatles)

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.
Let it be, let it be, …..
And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, …..

The Living Years ( Mike and the Mechanics)

Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door
I know that I’m a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I’m a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years….
Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got
You say you just don’t see it
He says it’s perfect sense
You just can’t get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defense
Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear…….

Fragile  (Sting)

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are
On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star….

New York Minute  (Don Henley)

Harry got up, dressed all in black
Went down to the station, and he never came back….
In a New York minute, everything can change
In a New York minute, things can get pretty strange
In a New York minute, everything can change
In a New York minute….
Lying here in the darkness, I hear the sirens wail
Somebody going to emergency, somebody’s going to jail
You find somebody to love in this world, you better hang on tooth and nail
The wolf is always at the door
And in these days, darkness falls early
And people rush home to the ones they love
You’d better take a fool’s advice and take care of your own…..

Under the Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner
Sometimes I feel like my only friend
Is the city I live in, the city of angels
Lonely as I am, together we cry
I drive on her streets ’cause she’s my companion
I walk through her hills ’cause she knows who I am
She sees my good deeds and she kisses the windy
Well, I never worry, now that is a lie
I don’t ever wanna feel like I did that day
But take me to the place I love, take me all the way…..

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables (Les Miserables)

There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.
Here they talked of revolution.
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about `tomorrow’
And tomorrow never came.
From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing….

The Heart of the Matter (Don Henley)

I got the call today, I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come…
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore….
These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined
…People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age….

Seasons of Love (Rent)

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love?
How about love? Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?
In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died
It’s time now to sing out
Tho’ the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love
(Oh you got to, got to)
Remember the love
(Remember the love)
Seasons of love
(Measure measure you life in love)
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

((Hugs)) to you, Kerin. Jessica. Arlie and Pokey. Everyone. ((Hugs)).

Virtual Hugs…


My first 9-11 quilt.

This was my response to driving to work on 9-11-02, in a new state, far away from New York, from the people I loved. the DJ was talking about the time, approaching 8:46, a moment of silence. My lips were quivering as I pulled off the interstate; my eyes were filling with tears, as they are this moment as I write this…unbidden and unstoppable.

The need–the push and pull of desire versus horror –to hear and see the reports on the radio of the first Ground Zero anniversary.

I stood in the employee break room, the television tuned to the news, finally forcing myself to shut the damned thing off; it would take too many hours standing frozen, to hear the names I felt compelled to hear. I found myself returning time and again, while fearing I would get caught goofing off with only 9 days employment under my belt…

I was miserably alone. My husband was at work. He would understand. My daughter; she was in Connecticut, in college, alone and confused and hurting. She would understand. My brother, he was in Philly-far away from my embrace; he would understand.

But these people here. They didn’t seem to understand. I think there were maybe a half dozen references to the date during the course of the day; I remembered spending the days after 9-11 cutting ribbons; and comforting people and hugging them, and here, no one was wearing ribbons; no one seemed to care.

I spent the first months of life in Virginia having people tell me how GLAD I must be that I was out of New York!

How DO you measure a year? Now, in 2009, even ‘Rent’ is no longer. (Rent was the show we went and bought tickets to on the very first chance we had to travel into Manhattan when the ferries started running…solidarity, desire to survive, the need for Arlie to see that Mike wasn’t coming home…)

Measuring years lately has taken on the feeling of trying to measure the rush of the wind. Time flies by; we are celebrating the start of another school year, waving goodbye to another summer; and with it, the melancholy of 9-11 descends as it does for the weeks running up to it; I notice how I cringe having to tell people their order will be done on September 11; how I brush it off to ‘two weeks’ from today,’ or “on the ‘11th’,” but saying 9-11…

I don’t watch much TV; I don’t know if tomorrow is being hyped; I do know Facebook is going to open my heart to more heartbreak this year. Having lost touch with so many—and not knowing their circumstances over the past 26 years– I know I am going to find that friends still in NYC are suffering in ways I don’t even want to imagine…

I was only peripherally involved in 9-11. A witness, not a victim. And yet.

This quilt was designed by me when I came home from work that day in 2002 after work; a frenzied desire to create something, to get all the feelings and thoughts out of my head.

9-11quilt It took time to finish of course. (It’s me, after all.) I asked my friends and families to offer to me the names of loved ones they lost, and I embroidered their initials along the edges.

And I while I would like to say there can be no more, I will be honored to add the initials of your loved one.

Here is a bit of the original essays that I wrote in 2001, and photographs of the day itself (in the form of a scrapbook, double click on the image) Its a tough read, and a tough view. And everyone should have to read it, have to remember it.

disc guard-2

(Another quilt, part of a triptych, called Disc/Gard Guard Aquehonga, the sun setting on Fresh Kills.)

Hugs to you, Kerin, and Jessica, and Arlie and Pokey. Love you all.