Main Street Musings
“This is an unorthodox request and feel free to say no,” began my creative writing teacher, Laura, in a recent email. She went on to explain that Bridges, a non-profit organization, received a grant to create a photography project on the homeless in Newark. The program gave digital cameras to people experiencing homelessness to express themselves and their world through their art. Would I be interested in interviewing a photographer about his or her experience?
She had me at “unorthodox.” I loved the idea of giving homeless men and women the opportunity to learn skills to develop and project their own voices. For ten weeks, a professional photographer worked with a small group of individuals, training and mentoring them as they documented their lives and their community through photographs.
In an interview with Scottie Howard, I learned what it was like to see the world through his lens, as…
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This is what bravery is, my friends. And faith.
I May Contribute A Verse
How is an oncology nurse like a midwife?
Near the end of labor during the birth of my second child fear unexpectedly possessed me and I began a whiney, shallow-breathed, feeble chant of, “No, no, no, no. I don’t want to do this anymore. No, no, no.” At about that point my butt involuntarily mobilized itself and scooted back from its assigned spot at the edge of the delivery bed. The midwife calmly said, “Look at me. LOOK AT ME.” Once she had my full attention she gently said, “There is one way out of this situation. No other way……one way. You are going to listen to me and I am going to help you have this baby.” And we did. She was a magic woman who shortly thereafter handed me my beautiful girl, Cameron. During a routine visit a few years later, after I’d not seen her for…
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A lot of thoughtful smoke has been rising from my home (and occasionally coming out my ears) over the last few weeks as I’ve worked my way through many of the steps necessary to create a self-hosted WordPress blog (who knew it was this complicated?!). I’m closer than ever and have transferred the majority of my content from here to there.
Please follow me to my new site:
I will begin writing exclusively on the new site next week. I’ll try to do some sort of hocus pocus behind the scenes (it should only take me a few days to figure out how!) to bounce you to my new site if you end up here because you forgot I moved, but I encourage you to take the plunge and move with me now.
Add me as one of your Favorites!
I love my subscribers but I can’t transfer you to my new site. You have to come over and (re-)subscribe there. It’s easy, I promise!
The best is yet to come!
Real, not faux!
Yesterday I talked about faux. Faux fruit. Faux flowers. Faux plants. The best place I’ve found in Northern New Jersey to purchase quality faux plant material is at a garden center in Madison, NJ. That’s right. J&M Home & Garden (http://www.jmhg.com/) on Main Street in Madison has a terrific selection of faux. . .as well as a terrific selection of real. . .as well as a parrot named Brutus, whom I visit.
I figure that it’s no surprise my girlfriend Ginger, she of the faux plants that look real, introduced me to J&M years ago. It’s a great place to browse for gifts and end up taking something home for yourself. Really! And when I visit I always think of my good friend who now resides in St. Louis.
He's a good listener.
Another major reason I keep returning to J&M is Brutus the parrot. I’ve had a thing for large birds for as long as I can remember. I can easily talk with Brutus for 30 minutes or more, if small children aren’t around. Small kids get annoyed if I take up too much of the big guy’s time! I visit Brutus the parrot on a weekday at midmorning. He’s usually alone then and willing to take a few minutes out of his busy day to talk with me. He’s a good listener too. It’s a very good quality large birds have; they kinda tilt their heads, look at you with one wise eye and nod periodically as you talk. It’s more than many spouses do! In addition, since he resides in a very large, bright, sunny, warm, Florida-like greenhouse, I get a huge dose of vitamin D, my shoulders relax and I leave a kinder happier person.
My advice if the weather has you down? Find a garden center greenhouse. Walk through it slowly and touch the plants. Meander up and down the rows. . .and remember that spring, the real no-snow spring, is just around the corner!
P.S. Did you figure out which plants in the photos I posted yesterday are faux? Answer: the forget-me-not plant, the apples and the fern in the photo of the three large plants in my dining room.
I used to be a real stickler for everything in my home being real, genuine. I had an unbreakable rule: Real fruit in the fruit bowl, even if no one ever ate it. Real flowers artfully displayed, even if we weren’t expecting company. If it wasn’t real, I didn’t display it or arrange it. Years went by, and it became an almost full-time job keeping ahead of the rotting, wilting, uh, expense of it all. The real fruit rotted in the fruit bowl before it was time to go to the food store again. The real flowers wilted and died halfway through the week they were guaranteed to last.
Keeping one step ahead of the rotten and dead took up too much of my psychic energy and free time after a while. Week after week, it was a choice between either eating the last apple or making something out of it. And how much fruit can one family eat anyway? Or flowers. I’d spend an hour or two arranging flowers only to have them kick the bucket after a couple of days. I wanted to change, but I didn’t know quite what to do. I mean, fresh fruit and flowers make a home feel more homey to me and I hated to give that feeling up, but the plasticky flowers and jeweled fruit I grew up with didn’t seem like viable alternatives.
Then in walked my girlfriend Ginger. When she lived close by (now she lives in St. Louis <sniff>) we visited back and forth pretty often. One afternoon I walked into her kitchen and exclaimed over the new rosemary topiary sitting on the kitchen counter. She smiled as I walked over to rub a leaf and catch a whiff. When I got thisclose I realized the rosemary topiary was faux. It was fake and it didn’t look fake or gross! It was a revelation!
Another time soon after I walked into Ginger’s dining room and saw a very pretty tree. It looked like it needed watered, though, since a few curled up brown leaves rested on top of the pot. Ginger smiled. Faux! It was faux!
Ginger sold me on faux. She coached me: Start with a high-quality faux plant, add a few “real” elements to the tableau (the dried up leaves, for example) and you can fool most of the people most of the time. Now I use faux in my home, selectively, and to great effect.
Quick! Real or faux?
Well? All real? All faux? A mix??
No sun today in my part of the USA. How is your weather?
We woke up here in Northern New Jersey to snow on the ground and snow drifting from the sky. It snowed all morning then switched to rain in the afternoon. I hear we’re going to have more snow tonight. That’s right. It’s Spring, but it’s Spring in New Jersey, the flaky weather state.
If I wasn’t so ready for Spring I would see the beauty in the snowfall.
The snow weighed down branches today; it's heavy and wet.
No lounging around outside today!
Maybe it’s because I went to the dentist today and had four fillings replaced; my face is lopsided and I’m drooling like a 6-month-old because the Novocain hasn’t worn off yet.
Hey! Did I make you twitch? Most folks just look at the tools (see the Novacaine needle on the far right?!)and feel dread! Bwahahaha!
Or maybe I’m just grouchy.
The snow came down thick and fast this morning.
This past weekend was gorgeous weather-wise, a little nippy but sunny and hopeful feeling, like winter was gone. Not so much. I woke up this morning to snow. The first full day of spring in my Northern N.J. world and the snow is falling thick and fast. I raced outside to rescue the pot of herbs I had just cleaned up, watered and put outside on my back steps just yesterday. I covered my strawberry pots with an umbrella-like cloche and will keep my fingers crossed.. The hostas and astilbes I planted? They will likely survive. The two kinds of heirloom poppy seeds? Not likely. The lettuces? We’ll see.
This cloche operates like an umbrella; let's hope it keeps the plants in the strawberry pots I showed you yesterday nice and warm!
That’s what I get for rushing the season. You’d think I would have learned by now. I mean, I’ve lived in New Jersey, Northern New Jersey, for more than 25 years. I should know that spring around these parts is unpredictable, kinda like a two-year-old in a department store: Here one minute. Hiding under the women’s clothes rack the next.
P.S. I was so distraught at the snowfall that I videoed it. I know. I know. It sounds like I need a vacation. . .in a warm place. Anyway, if you like snow falling, take a look at the video to the right under “My World in Photos.” And yes, that is my depressed voice you hear!