Friday, August 28, 2015

Wyeths, and more

This is a typical Andrew Wyeth watercolor, perhaps a bit more dramatic than many with the dark wooden post on the right, but a typical New England house on a lonely beach  in the other two-thirds of the work.  We did not see this one today at the Three Wyeths exhibit at Heritage Plantation's small museum, but we saw, I think 15 by each Wyeth -- RN the illustrator/painter from the 1920s+ pater familius, mostly seen in Saturday Evening Posts, often illustrating patriotic stories and poems.  It is easy to say "meh!" but some of the works show his artistic self, a picture of Washington and his soldiers at Valley Forge, has the chill of winter fairly surrounding the whole piece. 

Andrew is my favorite, I see meditation and silence and rigor in his well known works. I've seen many and I do not see the "violence" that his son James is quoted as describing. But maybe he knows more of his father's personality than I.

I found no pictures to put in this post from James (known as Jamie), I had seem the short video of him painting his gull picture called Seven Deadly Sins, 1, which was in this show.  All seven were in a show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston last summer when Rachel and I were there. All contain gulls, not the indolent, slightly skittish birds I see when I walk the beach, but powerful, screaming big birds. The video shows Jamie painting very tactically -- using his fingers, the side of his hand, his own spit on his fingers to get the subtle effects he wants with the watercolors, straight from the tubes, mixed sometimes with his fingers. 

We went to see the art, but we took time to see the Plantation, at least a good part of it; we had all been there several times before.

We were not too old to ride the carousel although only Lexa
had a full enough skirt to  get on a horse.
And Miriam played the drums when there were no kids around eager to make their own music.

The Plantation is at its floral best in the spring at rhododendrum and azelea time, there were few splashy floral displays today but some big white-ish hydrangeas and lots of interesting hostas.

It was a beautiful end of summer day and many kids of the grade school variety were around, so were some retirees, like Lexa  and Miriam who spent their careers serving children as librarian and school administrator/teacher.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Take a rest, Woody


Irrational Man is Woody Allen's newest film.  The matinee I attended was nearly empty and I walked out wishing I hadn't wasted part of a nice afternoon.  Joachim Phoenix is a depressed philosophy professor -- I supposed about 50. Posie Parker throws herself at  him and lovely student, Emma Stone, falls hard ... what do you expect in a Woody Allen film? 

The plot rang bells of more than one novel or short story I've read starting with Crime and Punishment (the cathartic effect of murder). The murder is absurdly easily carried out, and absurdly easily figured out by Ms. Stone, the final twist was so far from a surprise I walked out of the theatre shaking my head that anyone bothered to make the movie. I saw a review that called it a "dramedy" -- no.  Not really drama and no comedy.  Boredom, plain and simple. How old is Woody?  86? or older?  It seems a good time to concentrate on the clarinet and stop giving us "older" men with younger women falling for them. Been there, seen that. Yo-humm.

What I'd love is a good movie (no hokyness) about an older woman (and I mean over 60, not over 40 which has stopped being "older" to everyone except a certain type of man), who attracts a devoted younger man. I think of Georgia O'Keefe who spent many of her last years with a much younger man. I don't know just what their relationship was but it was a lasting and apparently mutually satisfying one. I'm sure it happens, perhaps more than many of use know.

A couple of weeks ago I saw Mr. Holmes.  An old fashioned movie (British style) but with "British style", well written script, layers of story and wonderful acting from Ian McKellen and Laura Linney.  I left thinking "plain old entertainment doesn't get better than this."

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A gull-full summer

When  something becomes a habit, one begins to know other people with similar habits just because you're in the same place at the same time. Thus it is in the summer when I walk on Long Beach every morning approximately 8:30 to 9:30. My "familiars" are Stephanie and Ross. Ross works and is only there on weekends but S. is a regular and is now known to me and many other regulars are the gull lady. 

Last summer she began feeding an adolescent black back gull that she felt was possibly retarded (or cunningly lazy) because he was still being fed regurgitated food by his mother when he was big enough to fend for himself. If there isn't an adage, there should be that says "feed one gull, feed them all." Soon S. had a flock of gulls surrounding her beach chair. They watched for her and sent out the word to friends and foes. As soon as she appeared, so did the gulls.

Last year she occasionally had three dozen gulls around her. Sometimes she fed them bread, sometimes nuts. sometimes rather expensive kitty chow, sometimes rice cakes. They would eat anything and fight over it if it landed on the sand and not in an opportunist's beak.

This year the gang is larger. It was a hard winter for all wild life and for gulls too. That probably triggered a reproductive spurt. At any rate there are many, many young black backed gulls and others as well (also a super congregation of young crows). The lone bird above is an adolescent - I think his feathers are gorgeously patterned. They will be shed and he will become black backed.

One morning I was quite early and I saw not one gull at S's spot on the beach. Not one.  A long gull -- maybe a watcher, a scout, was floating in the water about ten feet out. I walked on up the beach. When I came back I knew S. had arrived, the flock was gathering, I saw a few winging from a distant shore.  This morning she had only recently arrived but I saw nearly fifty floating within sight of her and probably another three dozen on the sand waiting  for her to stop chatting with Ross and get to the serious business food distribution. She complained, when we talked, that they were now lazy.  The water was clear, they should have been fishing for crabs.  It seems crabs are scarce this summer and I think it is in the nature of a gull to watch for freebies when there is promise of them.

It's a part of the summer's entertainment.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

High, Hot Summer

For the last month Rachel's yoga teacher has been doing free and informal yoga sessions on Kalmus beach from 7:00 to 8:00 which means from when the sun is about to set until we get a sunset like this -- not the spectacular one seen from other vantage points, the  Beach Club house is in the way. But the sky becomes very wonderful, the pink actually is often caught by clouds all across the sky. 

The header picture I've just put up is  near the edge of the beach where we gather for the class.   The first class, a month ago, and last week's class, were at (almost) full moon time so as we were finishing the  asanas before relaxing and just watching the sunset, a white, nearly full moon arose in the east. Plus a couple of evenings kite flyers were on the beach which added its own magical touch to the quiet time.

This week has been hot and most of the time humid. I don't like humidity (does anyone?) so I go to Long Beach (about a quarter mile beyond the structure seen here. It is a nature reserve, not a big public beach -- not private, those who know about it are happy not to share it with too many others. At about 8:00 AM it is nearly deserted, a mile-long  peaceful stretch where I walk and do Tai Chi East and feel ready to face the day even if that means sitting here at my computer a large part of the time with the fan cooling me. I love summer. Being bare foot most of the time, wearing very little -- flowers, no jackets ... I love it!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

And to think I LIVE here ...

Days like this I think: people drive hours, jam the bridges, crowd the motels and hotels, B&Bs, friends' and relatives' spare rooms and couches, summer rental cottages, camp grounds ... and I LIVE HERE.  They think that's their beach but I know it's MY beach, all the way out around that arc, it's all mine, all year long, not just in July and August. I'm there at 8:00 a.m. when those chairs aren't there, only a few early walkers like me leave footprints at the water's edge, then it's MY beach. I have my favorite place to stop and do the tai chi easy (trademark) that feels graceful and is invigorating without vigorous effort. I have been coming down at 7:00 on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening with my daughter to do yoga with her gym teacher and a handful of others, by then the sun is sinking and the moon is rising, nearly everyone is gone.  I am not greedy, I don't have to own this beach, I simply stake out my bit as I walk.

How beautiful it is now that summer has finally settled in! A cloudless sky, on Sunday morning (at least today), no visible boats on the water. All is uninterrupted blue, the most serene color in the rainbow. The gulls gather just where they know Stephanie will be when she arrives. She will throw snacks to them and they will fight over them.  They watch for her.  She is "the gull lady" -- oh, not one of those dotty old women who loved birds (or cats). She's more Barbie than batty.  Sometimes a poet sometimes an essayist, always concerned about the beach, the ecology, the influx of tourists. 
Already we are eager for September, when the tourists go and the beach empties ... but I am not wishing away the summer.  This is the season I remembered so vividly when the snow was falling last winter.  Ah...and to think I LIVE here.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Baby bird season

The birds must be working very hard to get the "early worm" they wake me at 3:30 in the morning with their chirping.  I think the chicks must be asking for their middle of the night feeding as I remember very well, human babies were apt to do also. Maybe those bird calls that wake me are grumbling parents.  The Canadian geese that come to our lawn have been absent aweek or more, I'm sure they are tending to their young someplace near-by. In summers past they have occasionally brought the chicks to the yard, but not yet this year. 

This osprey is on a brand new (this spring) platform at the end of a funeral home's lawn. I didn't get a photo with the chick, but there was one and maybe more. A little further in today's walk is a second kettle pond -- we have them abundantly on Cape Cod.  We are so near sea level that any depression  is apt to fill with water and become a "kettle pond". -- there was a pair of swans and four cygnets.  Down at the beach where I walk areas are marked off limits for nesting piping plovers.  This abundance of baby birds is a part of the definition of spring. I don't know if it's the plovers or the sanderlings that fly overhead in hysterically shrieking circles when I am at all near those areas. I try to stay away, hysteria seems a bad state of mind for a parent whether male or female.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I'll See You In My Dreams

4:30 matinee on a beautiful sunny weekend and the Cape Cinema was almost packed to see "I'll See You in My Dreams."  Most of the audience were of an age to match the characters in the movie -- notably Blithe Danner, looking not a day over 45, and her three women friends all types -- stereotypes! -- of women who play bridge and gossip at a retirement community. I can usually count on better than average movies at the Cape Cinema (and I can count on seeing someone I know -- which I did). I was happy to run into Bob and Elizabeth and grossly disappointed in the movie.

The screenwriters pulled out every cliche and stereotype possible, were utterly without cleverness and the casting was so pat-ly stereotypical I couldn't beleive I was not watching a bad TV show -- at least TV usually has a group of writers and that insures some clever writing.  In short it was a horrible afternoon. Every stereotype about aging was on view, Blithe Danner's character had spent 20 years an idle widow living on husband's life insurance, in very fine style. She drank wine constantly, not at all referred to that she might be an alcoholic (how else did she say so slender!) As I think of it, even the wardrobe worn by Danner and was bad -- or do people really dress that way in California retirement villages?  Suddenly she was flirting with the pool guy and then just as suddenly a cigar chewing (but not smoking) guy gives her a rush, wants to marry her and then drops dead.That is the plot.

Since I do not have a television, I cannot say that people of this age and comfortable financial circumstances are or are not always shown as having empty lives and minds, but I suspect it is true. I suppose some of those women exist, I'm  very, very happy that the people I know actually have personalities, interests, lives that are meaningful.