Friday, September 29, 2006

"The full soul tramples upon the honeycomb,
but to the hungry soul, any bitter thing tasts sweet.
Proverbs 27:7

I just discovered Monica Wood, a Maine writer, and this fabulous book published by Ballantine Books in 2005. And, what a find! What a story-teller! What delicious prose: Wood's use of language is imaginative and captivating; she creates compelling word pictures.

Oh, and by the way, the citation from Proverbs is the book's opening.

Frankly, I wanted to give up everything and just keep on turning the pages of her book. It is the story of a friendship, a marriage, and a search for a past. Lizzy Mitchell, orphaned at the age of two, is raised by her only caring relative, a Catholic priest in rural Maine which in itself is an unusual plot twist. But the book opens nearly 30 years later with a horrific accident that becomes the counter-point to the story of Lizzy's childhood.

One reviewer called it a story of "desertion, trust, faith and forgiveness". Another reviewer said "it is exquisite, soul-satisfying" and, finally, another said it is an "intimate exploration of faith and love, betrayal and penance". And, I recommend it highly and without reserve.

I googled the authors name and found a delightful, appealing and informative website and, best of all, several more books by Wood. On the website, she has included tips for writers and other items of interest. Take a look.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Monarch School of New England is a year-round school for children with severe physical and developmental disabilities. Approximately 40% of the students are diagnosed with autism; others, are medically fragile. The student body of 30+ students come from 20 towns in central New Hampshire and southern Maine. There is a staff of about 60: administrators and support staff, teachers, therapists, and nurses.

I am the school's Development Director. I immediately fell in love with the kids and staff; and found to my delight that a sign over a door in the school was completely true:

"Love spoken here".
When I came to the school, about three years ago, it was with a "phased-retirement" plan. You know: getting ready to retire but not q-u-i-t-e there yet. Ready to stop working at impossible jobs with crazy expectations and hours but not ready to stop working. The school advertised half-time; that suited me just fine. Of course, over the three years I've continued to respond to need by adding more hours.

This Saturday, we have a very special fundraising event planned:

  • The Matt Savage Trio
  • Rochester Opera House
  • Rochester NH
  • 7:30 PM.
  • What's so special about that? Well. For starters, Matt Savage is only 14 years old and he has played the BlueNote. Birdland. The Kennedy Center. He's played with Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, Chaka Kahn. He's appeared on the TODAY show. He's won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award 2 consecutive years. He just released a new CD on September 19, QUANTUM LEAP on a national record label.

    Matt was diagnosed with autism at the age of three; he taught himself to play the piano at the ago of 4; studied at Berkley Center at the age of 7 and cut his first CD at the age of 9. CNN just ran a special news report entitled, "Genius" which featured Matt and several others who are termed, savants.

    Matt is a busy young man: he is playing the Regatta Bar in Boston tonight and opening for Wynton Marsalis in early October (I've forgotten where?). We are proud to bring him to the seacoast community and I am so excited to see him play!

    So, take a look-see on the Monarch School's website and while you're there, view our videotape, a visually and emotionally appealing look into the school and its students that was done by a wonderful volunteer, a professional videographer. By the way, our website took a first place award in the education category in a state competition just months after it was launched in 2005. The website was designed Rainer Schwake at A great art gallery, art school and design studio in Rochester NH.

    And when you have a moment, do visit Matt Savage at his website. You can sample bits of his music and look at a photo album covering his musical career.

    And you can probably tell that I LOVE my job!

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    This is a Black Throated Grey Warbler!

    And I am not a birder. And I don't play one on the internet.

    But while Larry and I were on Appledore Island several weekends ago, there was a great buzz about the sighting of this bird. It was seen in a tree just off the large deck outside the dining commons on Friday night and again on Saturday morning.

    What's so special about that you might be asking?

    Well, this bird lives in thegreat northwestern regions (USA and Canada); it winters in warmer climes like Mexico and is not usually seen in New England. In fact, this sighting was the first ever sighting on Appledore. This is significant because there is a bird banding station out there and birders find Appledore an appealing spot. I'm told that this sighting would make in to the Maine Rare Bird Sightings list.

    Well, I was curious about this phenomenon and asked my questions of the friendly birders who are more than generous with information.

    Did you you know that birds fly groups of mixed varieties?
    Sometimes a single bird will join a group of other birds - not his relatives - and travel with them for a while - stop somewhere and then join another group for more flying.

    Which is probably what our little warbler on Appledore did and a little off home-base, I'd say.

    But lordy, isn't it a beauty!

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    A Monarch on Star Island

    This is the time of year when the monarch butterfly begins to make its annual 3000 mile migration from northern United States to the warmer southern regions of California and Mexico.

    Their travel south is one of the wonders of nature. Did you know that the monarch butterfly who leaves New England for the south is the great-grandparent of the monarch butterfly that returns?

    In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the Monarchs of North America. They are the only butterflies to make such a long, two way migration every year.

    Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. Their migration is more the type we expect from birds or whales.

    When the late summer and early fall Monarchs emerge from their pupae, or chrysalides, they are biologically and behaviorally different from those emerging in the summer. The shorter days and cooler air of late summer trigger changes. Even though these butterflies look like summer adults, they won't mate or lay eggs until the following spring. Instead, their small bodies prepare for a strenuous flight.

    One unsolved mystery is how Monarchs find their overwintering sites each year. Somehow they know their way, even though the butterflies returning to Mexico or California each fall are the great-great-grandchildren of the butterflies that left the previous spring.

    No one knows exactly how their homing system works; it is another of the many unanswered questions in the butterfly world.

    I took the photo on Star Island in September 2005.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Winding roads that seem to beckon you.........This past weekend, we spent a lovely long weekend on Cape Cod. Drove down on Friday and returned today. On Sunday, I took a solo drove down Route 6a, one of the most beautiful roads in America, I think. It winds through little towns ~~~ Sandwich, Barnstable, Brewster, Orleans, dotted with antique shops, b&bs, restaurants, glorious architecture and green farm land. Tomatoes, pumpkins, asters, mums: A lush world in September.
    Miles of sand beneath the sky so blue......The weather was grand each day: clear blue skies; perfect late summer temps in the seventies. We stayed in Falmouth where I once lived for a short while in my twenties as a new bride. Too many years ago to say. The hotel we stayed in is at the head of the of Falmouth Harbor looking out towards the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
    With every turn on yet another lovely road, I hummed that song.
    And I even remember Patti Paige.
    How's that for an admission!

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    This weekend Larry and I went out to Appledore Island with a group from the Seacoast Science Center. This is an annual trip for us, one that we look forward to this pleasure.

    Appledore is a tiny island, one of the nine islands that make up the Isles of Shoals.

    In the 19th century and early 20th century it was the home of Celia Thaxter, the poet and artist whose family ran a summer hotel and catered to well known artists iof the time such as Childe Hassam.

    Now it is owned by the Star Island Corporation and leased to Cornell University which maintains a marine laboraty. It operates from April to September and is buttoned up all winter long. As you can imagine, the accomodations are a bit on the primitive side: dormitory style rooms, single beds, and a walk down the corridor to the 'ladies'.

    Appledore is only 9 miles off the coast but it offers a perfect escape: no automobiles or streets, no public lighting, no television, radio or newspapers, no computers or cell phones. Just quiet. Solitude. Relaxation. We walk and hike and hang around with naturalists and soak up new knowledge along with the ambience. Otherwise, we read and rest and re-coup. There is always a lobster dinner on Saturday evening and Sunday brunch before piling onto the Kingsbury, a research vessel for the trip home.

    My Newest Postcard Trade

    Isn't it just splendid! I love it!
    This fabric postcard was made by Francoise of Belgium.
    We planned the trade in the early summer but agreed to do it later in the season.
    I hope she is as pleased with my postcard as I am with her work.
    Oh, the Altered Book!
    Well, all the spreads are done. I am working on the binding and cover. The lesson I learned from this project: never, never, never remove the text block from the binding. While working on the pages, I felt quite constrained by their size and lack of flexibility. So. I took the whole thing out in one fell swoop. And boy am I sorry. I have been teaching myself a binding method whereby one creates mountains and valleys, pastes the pages into the valleys and mounts the whole into spine. I will post the completed book soon.
    (she said with great optimism)