Friday, August 23, 2013

The nightbird

Do you remember this from the early 70's ?
“The flutter of wings, the shadow across the moon, the sounds of the night, as the Nightbird spreads her wings and soars, above the earth, into another level of comprehension, where we exist only to feel. Come, fly with me, Alison Steele, the Nightbird, at WNEW-FM, until dawn.”

I thought of the Nightbird last week as I wandered through my house at 2 am, warming myself some milk and trying to decide what soothing activity would send me back to dreamland. Ah, the soft, sultry voice of Alison Steele would do it, reciting poetry over Andean flute music and playing Riders on the Storm by The Doors, if it were raining. She was the popular voice of progressive rock starting in the late 60's and played whatever she wanted on her show.

Now I am my own Nightbird, creeping around in the wee hours. Peace prevails in the house and it feels like it's completely my world--my kingdom of the night.The clutter recedes in the background. The low lighting blurs the colors and shapes.  The full moon through the window is high and partly obscured by clouds, swiftly passing over it, so that it really does look blue.  I swear I've heard the fairies tapping very gently at my window or was that suggestion lifted directly from a play I saw last Saturday?

Every so often I get these weeks where I'm turned around--day for night, night for day. It starts with being on the computer too late in the evening and going to bed with the neurons still firing. I toss and turn and then silently open the bedroom door, hug the banister and disappear downstairs.  One night I started watching a Turkish movie with subtitles, which I thought would be sleep inducing, only to get caught up in the story until it ended at 4am!

I can't decide if sleeping with the window open helps or not. I love the loud, steady, one note thrum of the crickets and insects at high decibels, punctuating the August night with exotic chirping calls and buzzing answers. Who is out there? Tropical birds...giant frogs...cicadas who missed their cue to return underground?  It's a soothing symphony; yet, I'm also awakened by the sprinklers coming on at 3 am and the newspaper delivery at 5. The seemingly permanent construction crews in my neighborhood start at 8. So maybe windows shut is a better option.

My insomnia usually stops as quickly as it starts and I return after a week or so to a normal routine with no explanation. Perhaps I need to pick up Goodnight, Moon or is it time for Lunesta?

Friday, August 16, 2013


Did you know I'm a trendsetter? As you may know, son Eric and I are supporters of Cory Booker and went Running with Cory in a Morristown campaign event. Finally got our bumper stickers and were glad to see on Tuesday that the Mayor of Newark easily captured the Democratic nomination for US Senator from NJ with 60% of the vote. But, no, that's not what makes me a trendsetter.

A friend and I were planning an outing on Wednesday and she suggested the Newark Museum. Was this taking Cory Booker's trumpeting of the "new" Newark a bit far? My friend insisted the museum is truly a  "hidden gem", which she had discovered years ago. And she was right! The building surprises you with vaulted skylights and interesting vistas. Look down this corridor and you see the marble mosaic of Hercules at Gibraltar, otherwise known to us as the Prudential Rock. Look up and a Calder mobile is suspended above you. Pass through this hallway and note a charming collection of teapots through the ages.

The museum permanent collection is a pared down Art History 101, with one or two works of many well known artists, each room representing a different time period and philosophy of art. Here a Warhol, there a Winslow Homer or John Singer Sargent.  Even Thomas Edison's early videos are included.

The museum links to the beautiful Victorian style Ballantine House, home of the famous beer family who had a brewery in Newark.  One of our favorite display cases showed a collection of utensils and objects and asked you to identify their use. I felt like the new, confused footman in Downton Abbey, discerning the fish server from a spoon warmer and the salt dishes from the butter plates. Luckily the answers were provided and the stern visage of Carson was nowhere in sight.

There were a fair number of day camp groups and others at the museum and many of the exhibits are family friendly. African art and Tibetan/Indian art are well represented. In addition, the traveling exhibits are novel and worthwhile, including Papyraceous, which sounds like a made up word, as creative as the paper sculptures and works it included. 

You can imagine my surprise when I opened the NYTimes today to read Holland Cotter's review of The Art of the Newark Museum. Cotter concludes his article this way:
So it comes down to this: to see the world, really see it, you have to travel. The Newark Museum is about a half-hour from Midtown by the PATH train, then a short cab ride or walk. Just go. 

(Thanks, Holland. I guess you saw my tweet. Cory Booker's not the only one with followers!)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Middle Child Day

I read in the Bergen Record that today is officially Middle Child Day. How appropriate, I thought, as my own middle child, Eric, began yet another long car trip with his younger brother Scott. This time Eric is heading to Indiana University to begin a doctoral program in parks, recreation and tourism. Scott generously volunteered to help with the move. No room in the car for Mom this time, but I am reminiscing about our original cross country trip in 2010, the Summer of Eric, which became the impetus for this blog.

I've been calling this summer the Summer of Eric Part 2, also known as SOE2, since Eric arrived mid-June. Not every mother gets the quality (and quantity) time with an adult child, so I appreciate the gift this summer was to me. We did a lot of things, like fishing, going to the beach, visiting NYC and the Great Falls of Paterson, running with Cory Booker.
On the Norma-K
Hanging with Cory
Running with Cory
No keepers on the Norma K. Next year we're taking the Cock Robin day cruise.

The 12 fish in 30 minutes day!

But, just as memorable were the small things, our daily routine. We started breakfast on the deck or the porch at Brick with a selection of fruit--this from a picky eater who only ate a strawberry for the first time last year.

We each buried are noses in the newspaper--mine usually the old school actual paper version; his on the Kindle. Yes, I was told I eat too loudly-slurping my cereal and knocking the spoon against the bowl. Is someone a bit grumpy in the morning? We often had our respective work to do -my MBCN emails, webpage updates and September conference tasks; his review of potential IU courses and revision of his presentation for a November conference.

Lunch might involve catching up on a tv show-Dexter or reruns of Breaking Bad with no commentary allowed during the show. Theories on future episodes were discouraged-- "You're ruining it for me."

We even managed to get some things done off my to-do list---impossible tasks like throwing out old basement furniture and mysterious black bags. My hero! I still maintain, however, that I never threw out a paper grocery bag with plastic cups from various ball parks around the country. Even I would realize that this was a priceless collection. Maybe it will turn up by Thanksgiving?

Best of all, we had wonderful gatherings with family and friends--- 4th of July fireworks cruise, barbeques and a Yankee baseball game (although I didn't get to boo A-Rod.)
Good Luck Eric cake from Molloys
fireworks cruise on Norma-K
Father and son
The Fans

With the first born
At Jenk's Gate 5 Beach

I was up at 6 AM today to bid the boys farewell, so it's almost nap time here.

Thank you, Eric, for SOE2. Good luck in your foray into those flyover states. Promise you won't change from Green to Tea Party and......
  Happy Middle Child Day!

PS. Your Cory Booker bumper sticker is in the mail.:)