my random Headlines from 2016

1. Cream of wheat and Grits are the same thing!

2. Acupuncture works …not every solution has a Western paradigm.

3. RIP David Bowie: How long and what to do with the time?

4. Complaining in the ER almost guaranteed to increase wait time

5. Cure for Facebook Addiction…a Twilight Zone that ends well

6. If you have an industrial fan in your office, create something. (See below)

7. There is nothing you can do…the zeitgeist of our time becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy

8. Florence Foster Jenkins … an uncommon kind of hero

9. Jennifer Aniston and I agree: husband and dogs-great companions!

10. Everything changed in November…the election required critical thinking not multiple choice…Giving new meaning to Only the educated are free! and the systemic problems w/ educating to the test at the expense of thinking.  (I taught for 20 years, ages 6 to 80, my experience informa my statements.)

Happy New Year and Shout out to Radames Perez, May the Force Be with You Everyone!

©claireaperez@gmail.com

from industrial fan to fashion statement
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Me and my dog Moby, a Dear Abby question

Dear Abby,

Me and Moby, our American pit bull mix, have been friends now for 5 years.  Everyone loves Moby…he is adorable and he loves to be loved.  We nick named him Mobile and sometimes sing to him:  “I’m a wanderer, I’m a wanderer and  I love to roam around” or “Going Mobile” because when my husband and I are working around the house, he just follows us from room to room and then stops where we stop and sits patiently waiting and watching us.  When making dinner or doing the dishes, he is the best little companion ever.

Moby has a brother, Macadew, who has a different agenda in life and also dominates over Moby.  Macadew, too, is a love if you are on his good side but, one does not want to be on the wrong side of his canines.  He is a hunter… he leaps and bounds through the yard and woods, always on a hunt. When inside, each picture window provides  him with hours of mesmerization as he studies the surroundings for a movement…the hunt for the barn cat or the rabbit is his life’s directive.  After his job is done, Macadew simply rests with us and cuddles.
Back to Moby.  So all is good at the homestead until…my husband leaves the vicinity.  Moby, perhaps wandering or sleeping in front of the woodstove, hears the door creak.  His head rises, he stares blankly waiting, ears listening…I hear him thinking…is he leaving?  Rad says, See you later and shuts the door.  Moby lifts his head up and his body comes right over to me.  First, he wants me to pet him.  Easy enough, but then when I stop, he puts his right foot on me to engage me.  

After that, I have to get my weapon, a squirt bottle, because if I don’t, all 86 pounds of him tries to get up into my lap and will not take no for an answer.  I rarely have to use my weapon, because Moby doesn’t like to get wet, and so he backs off.  But that is when round two starts, Moby starts his own pacing and hunting. 

 Back and forth through the house looking for cruched up paper towels to grab… he places his front paws on the kitchen island or table examining the surface for the scrunched paper towel and if not finding one, a magazine or piece of paper.  He proceeds then, to strategize how to get the object and as he stealthly calculates…I get up to beat him to it.  

I then try to return to my book or whatever I am working on, but he aint having it.  Pacing continues back and forth until he finds something and scampers into Macaedew’s cage to rip it apart, or I apprehend him before he gets there.  I then unlock the jaws and retrieve the item.  Or Moby makes it in to the crate and I have to follow to retrieve the item before, it is devoured.

Abby, what can be done, how can we end this dance.  Me and Mobs are both getting grey…I know he loves this game but it is wearing on me.  Please advise…I need an intervention:-)

Uncle Abe

The last time I saw Uncle Abe was in 1992.  He always came a weekend or two before Christmas when my friend’s family celebrated the Christian and Jewish holidays.   Each year they invited me down for a cocktail, a meal, desert, and/or a visit.

I loved Uncle Abe for all the New York City adventures he brought with him.  He was tall, really tall, with a salty colored beard and big head of black hair.  He graced the entrance with his long black coat with its red-plaid flannel interior fraying at the edges. Abe carried one suitcase…off white from all the grime it had picked up in the city.

My friend and her family worried about Uncle Abe-he never gave them his address and their minds set Uncle Abe in New York’s bowery, huddled with homeless bums. Yet, Uncle Abe was well nourished,  he survived somehow with a gregarious laugh that filled the room and echoed off the walls.

Uncle Abe and the rest of the family took people in…you were visiting, heck you were one of the family. As I got ready to leave that day, Uncle Abe sauntered over to his suitcase. He unsnapped it and the lid sprang open and hit the couch.

“I have a feeling we won’t be seeing you again,” he said “and I want to give you something.”

He bent his torso over his suitcase and pulled out a pack of writing cards wrapped in cellophane.  They were all drawings like the one below, where the perspective changes depending on what you focus your eyeballs on…an old woman with a huge nose or a smartly dressed woman ready for an evening out (in 1915, the year this was drawn).

Years later, I was talking to my friend and I asked how Uncle Abe was doing.  “He died,” said my friend.  He left behind so many antiques and collectibles, we hired an auction house to get rid of it all.”

Poor Uncle Abe was not poor at all: a large man with a large heart and a lesson in communication.

It really does depend how we look at things and reality can shift in a blink of an eye.  What we see with certainty may morph into something completely opposite given a change in perspective.

it's about the story
A neck or a chin surrounded by fur coat?

 

Light in the Darkness…My Mother had Five Brothers

hanover-square-img_3354
A Trumpeter playing Christmas carols in December 2015 at Hanover Square, Horseheads.

My mother, Katherine Arachangela, is often heard saying…”I had five brothers growing up.”  This meant, myself and my siblings and our 20 first cousins! had five uncles.  They have all passed sadly and their names were Harry, Ed, Tommy, Bobby, and Billy.  They each taught me something about life and this piece is a reflection on Uncle Bob.  I am posting it now because he died almost three years ago around this time.  His being brought light into the darkness for many…Uncle Bob you are missed!

January 2014~When I went to my Uncle Bob’s calling hours, I felt a sadness that echoed throughout my limbs and surfaced in a rain of tears.  My Mother had, in her own, very succint, practical way pointed out to me, days before his death,  that I was a niece he hardly new.  (Not sure if this was not perhaps her dementia settling in or just her opinion.) This of course, this did not make the event any less sad.

I cried so hard because I saw my cousins in pain, because I saw all the times that I felt down and my Uncle was there to cheer me up.  But most especially, I saw one Christmas night.  Our family day done, my Mom wanted to visit  her brothers that lived in town and she wanted all of us to go.  A few of us went.  I think she would have preferred we all go. She was so sad, my Mom, on that drive over to see my Uncles.

But when we arrived at Uncle Bob’s house and she started chatting, she cheered up. My cousins and I sat around their big beautiful tree talking.  It was lovely.

Uncle Bob often brought the family together.  He was the one who orchestrated  my Uncle Harry’s memorial service at his home at 407 Milton when Uncle Harry, miles away, had done what rebellious Catholics due:  had himself cremated in California (at least that is what I remember).  Uncle Bob was also the person who showed up at my wedding with his camera and keen eye, our wedding photographer.  I always suspected my Mother told him we didn’t have one and he just stepped up.

When I  walked into his funeral the next day,  I was not prepared to feel the spirit I felt…the singing from the local Hibernians and a man name Jack, a church packed with people touched by my Uncle Bob, and the soft light of Christmas’s closure.

Listening to the readings…a time to love, a time to die…. and the stories and the stories, the story that struck me, the one I could not bare to repeat without crying, was this:

At the end of his life my Uncle had Alzheimers, but his ability to sing and his remembrance of lyrics stayed present. My Uncle had been in a barbershop quartet for many years and had a great voice. One day, at a store, my cousin Tim said Uncle Bob started singing to the store clerk at the register.  He sang I love you truly.  And as he serenaded her, the woman started crying.  “I have had the worst week,” she said to him.

I looked over at the Christmas tree on the alter several times during the celebration of Uncle Bob’s life. I thought perhaps the lights could represent all the lives he touched and if all of those lives  somehow, in their own quiet way, could light up someone’s day, the planet might sparkle with goodness.

So from the niece who felt she knew ya Uncle Bob, you left the world a better place.  An example for all of us to reach out to those less fortunate and the lonely or maybe just, as my cousin Drew said, stop for just one person today.  One person who needs you or needs the bits of goodness that you can give.

©claireaperez@gmail.com

 

The tree frog & the kangaroo mouse

 

19 years on a farm….

In the Fall of 2012, my husband started mowing down our squash patch.  Usually full of acorn squash, butternuts and a variety of gourds, this particular year the patch produced almost nothing.  The occasional relief from a summer drought did not provide enough rain for this low-lying patch of earth.

Before beginning to mow, Radames glanced around to see what creatures might be hiding among the bent stalks and drying leaves.  Creatures looking for seeds and other vegetation.  He spotted a grass frog, also called a leopard frog, and tried to get it away from the mower, but it jumped into the mower deck shoot.  Radames stopped the mower and grabbed the frog.  He walked it over to the pond and was about to throw it in when  he envisioned the bass and thought “Why save the frog just for the bass’s dinner.” He proceeded to the tree-lined creek that feeds the pond and set the frog safely down among the grass and rocks.

Moments later, Radames began to mow ad watched a kangaroo mouse  hop out of the squash patch and off into the woods.  He described  it to me from the little hopper’s point of view.

There I was in the forest, munching and munching, the sun just rising over the eastern branches:  I felt safe and cozy among the long trunks.  The morning bird made a little sound as the rush-hour traffic slowed to a gentle swish in the background.  I heard the occasional plane and frog jump, a normal day here.

Then I heard a bang and a boom and saw large blades coming toward me. The stalks were tumbling faster than I could move and the blades were right on my tail.  Could I hop to safety?  Could I make it across the wide green abyss to the next forest?  I began to hop, then fear paralyzed me, I began to hop again, fear stopped me again.  Finally, “hop hop,” I told myself and I went bonging across the green.

Silence, the machine stopped right at the edge of the green abyss.  It was no longer after me and although my current homeland disappeared, I saw more on the horizon.  As I hopped away, I thought I saw the alien on top of the machine  tip his hat in my direction, smile and say, “Be safe little guy.”

©claireaperez@gmail.com

 

one evening, many years ago

19 years on a farm

My husband and I were talking late at night about what we saw during a lovely summer day.

Oh, he said, “I was walking near the lower pond and I saw the most beautiful fox running toward the Western field.” He went on to describe its golden-red color and the way it ran through the Western trail, long beautiful grasses on either side of it.

I then thought about my trip home and the beautiful animal I saw lying dead at the edge of the neighbor’s driveway. “I think I saw that fox.” “Where?” asked my husband. I told him.

“I wish you hadn’t told me that,” he said.

Perhaps one day, when we see these beautiful animals as road kill, we will cover them up, one by one, with a sheet.  A day of reverence…this was actually my husband’s idea.  I think it is a good one.A day of passage, a writ of honor.

Trail
Trail

 

Summer into Fall

Pictures, some enhanced with color,  and filters

Sunflowers = seeds plus strategic protection from creatures who dig the seeds up, drought that dries the soil up, and creatures who eat the finished flower
Harvest Time

Bolt Castle…Summer 2016

I do not, hear me, Do Not, want to go outside. Signed Moby! on a rainy day, or any day that looks cold or messy!
Breakfast after Bed….upside down French Toast
A walk among the trees
The Summer Wanes

..amended poem of Joyce Kilmer Oates

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a Sycamore tree
Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly flows the life…first heard from Fiddler on the Roof as sung by my Uncle Ed in 1973, circa
“A place is more than the sum of its physical parts; it’s a repository for memories, a record and retainer of all that has happened within its boundaries.” ― Kate Morton, The Distant Hours
“Oh Mrs. Dalloway, always giving parties” The Hours
Almost Timeless
Try to remember the kind of October that was this beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

And so it came to pass, that like most Thanksgivings during my 19 years on the farm ,the spirits let there be snow for Thanksgiving

10 Things I’m Grateful For

1. Dogs, everytime I see one, I feel joyful

2. My job and the lovely, fun people I work with

3. The Adirondaks

4. The community library: it is a source of community in a very disconnected world

5. Cayuga Lake beach…7 minutes away

6. Books, especially, I Am Lucy Barton

7. John P’s visit with his lovely girlfriend Diane

8. Phone calls with friends

9. Barack Obama

10. Barack Obama

What a week~~working the front lines of poverty…2006…Disparity


I wrote this in 2006 when I worked with people below or near the poverty line.  My job was to teach them how to manage their money under the auspices of a government-funded organization. The disparity has continued to grow.  Perhaps if we had done something sooner…

What a week~~working the front lines of poverty…2006…Disparity

Dec. 2006: This has been a crazy week, I entered and left so many worlds I have not had time to process anuntitled-9a-bcopyy of it.  It started last Saturday at a reception held for my sister and her new husband to celebrate their wedding with their upstate NY kin.  In the middle of the reception, I gazed up to see a tapestry composed of the five quilts my Mother made for each of her five children out of my Father’s ties, he had over 100 when he passed last year.  I dissected this with my husband because it was my sister and her new husband’s party.  He agreed it was different but by the fifth round of dissection, very gently said, “You know, maybe it’s just your Mom’s way of bringing Sam along.”

From there we went to the honeymoon pictures in Egypt at the beautiful, advertisement picture perfect resort.  My sister looked really happy, both she and her new husband in their 40s, their first marriage, she declared her wedding was the happiest day of her life.

I proceed into my week, five workshops in four days, I’m dreading it.  Its money management I teach and this is the season to be spending it, say the advertisements, the music, and the morning shows.  I am spending time with people at or below the poverty line.  I believe in looking for the positive, but I am also a realist.

I hear the heartache of the season.  One person tells me it is not doing more with less it is learning to live with less, about $120 per week with tips.  This person is happy to attend the class, glad to get here even though it cost $75 to get the new battery for the car, Friday’s paycheck spent.

In another class, midway through, a class member pipes up, this is all well and good but these are organizational tools for money, I have no money, my co-pays cost me $5000 last year out of my SSD money.  This person is enrolled in a home-ownership program.  At another class and another county site, a participant pipes up and says if I do all this, really do it, how long will it take for everything on my credit report to be fine? I hear the thin line between desperation and hope. All I can think of to say is each time you pay something on time, is a deposit into your future?  Like an AA program, a day without a drink , a deposit for your cell health?

I email my sister, what are the price limits for the gift we buy each other in the sibling swap, between $50 and $75 she replies, but don’t get too hung up on that, it all works out in the end?  For some of us, it occurs to me.

And then I ruminate on my own life, why am I so darned lucky?    I am grateful this week for venison roast from a colleague, a flat-screen monitor, and my husband blaring Mannheim Steamroller.  I am grateful for my colleagues telling me I do not have to apologize for my happiness and that of course, these are sad times, people want to give, and they have no money to even go to the dollar store.

I pick up the paper this morning, I read, with a heavy heart about one of my favorite money management class participants.  He told me how much he liked the class and was visibly hurt one day when I forgot his name.  His court date passed, his crime publicized, I hope and pray that the good I saw in him can surmount whatever it is that brought him to this point.  I wonder who his teachers were.

Before our office party on Friday, I returned the call from a friend, while I prepared my holiday salad.  The company lost their disability paper work, but we can pay the electric bill with my husband’s Christmas bonus, she says.  Oh and by the way, I found yesterday that after months of telling me my oral surgery was reversible and I could chew again, dive into the steak and baked potato I love, I found out it is not reversible after all, the radiation sensitizes the tissue, not a good idea to go back in said the surgeon.

Off to the Christmas party at a local museum.  I wonder why I did not have time to dress up and why everyone else looks so good.  I think I get it now.  I have to say I loved the party.  It made me laugh louder than I have laughed in a while and I needed it.  When I got back into the car to go back to work, I felt a sense of being alive that was great.  I loved the tour too; all the old stuff in a museum keeps things in perspective in a sad but kind of peaceful way.  I wish with all my heart that I could bang the garage door shut on all the pain I see but I can never get the handle down.  A job dusting off fossils may be in my future.

I left this job 8 months later because I was not solving the problem.

@claireaperez@gmail.com

A somber day

image
a somber day

 

It is a somber day in Ithaca and the surrounding area.  It rained a heavy rain and the clouds settled in – a dark blanket over a liberal town in the wake of the election.

It is a day when my husband says: Now would be a good time for the aliens to invade.  

And while Obama pointed out the sun would come out tomorrow,  it did not even peak through the clouds here.

I keep thinking of the people I knew who fought, or lived, through World War II, or escaped Germany before it was too late.  They are on my mind tonight.  “What would they say?”

I also keep thinking of our system of education and that adage, “Only the educated are free.”  If 50 percent of the electorate really knew what the ramifications could possibly be based on all of the factors that have been spewn into our orbit, if they asked why? how? would they really think they made the best choice?

Tomorrow is Thursday and I hope the sun does come up, at least for a little while.  The road ahead is going to be tough, we will need to see clearly to prepare for the journey.  Continue reading A somber day

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