The Book Barn

Looking for a summer read? Finding the perfect book is like searching the shoreline for beach glass.  Some stories are rough, others polished.  Some brilliant, others dull.  Where to look?  On a trip to Connecticut, I came across a gem of a place.

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The Book Barn in Niantic is a playground for readers.  At the main location, there are books everywhere – at every turn, nook and cranny.  It’s an imaginative space with gardens and goats.  Walking the property is like stepping into the pages of a story and worth the visit.

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The Point

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Sundays are family-dinner days. My mother’s side is Italian: the DeLuca’s of Brooklyn (Nelson Street).  They had a soda company in the early 1900’s New York.  Red Hook has a fighting spirit; Hurricane Sandy’s water-lines mark its buildings.

On a recent trip there, I ate at Grindhaus, a small (20-seat), trendy restaurant on Van Brunt Street. The kitchen is the same size as the bathroom and its outdoor sign welcomed the Ladies of Lawnguyland.  It’s all about the love.  And homemade bread.

Big things come out of small spaces. Particularly special is the transformation; perseverance and reinvention of the neighborhood.  Its acceptance and community; finding a place, working with what’s given, friendship and family.  That’s the point.

Grindhaus Interior 2

The Echoing Green

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OrchidThe sun does arise,
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the spring;
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around
To the bell’s cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the Echoing Green.

First stanza from The Echoing Green by William Blake

*This orchid was given to me as a gift.  It’s on my desk at work.  There’s a slight blush to the flowers.  The stems and leaves remind me of Blake’s “echoing green”.

Simple, Sweet, Savory

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Crepes. The French celebrate them on February 2nd (known as  “The Day of the Crêpes” or “National Crêpe Day”).  Luck has it if a person catches a crepe in a frying pan, while using the right hand, and holding a coin in the left, he or she will become wealthy that year… wow.

February 2nd is also Candlemas or (La Chandeleur).  Happening 40 days after Christmas, it’s a time of light and reflection.  Candles are lit for various reasons – remembrance, purification, blessings, protection.  Linked to religious celebrations and feasts, Candlemas occurs during a bleak time of year; historically when flour was in short supply.  People made crepes.

Crepes are round, golden and light. They resemble coins or the sun.  Rich in tradition, why not indulge in them for a little prosperity (and to prevent the winter blues).  I couldn’t resist.

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Stawberry, Blueberry and Nutella Crepe
My Crepreie in Wading River, New York

 

A Place Just Around The Bend

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Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley. (Part of the National Wildlife Refuge system, it’s The Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex’s headquarters).

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Taking advantage of a warm winter afternoon, Wertheim is about 2,500 acres. Carmans River runs through it. The refuge is home to oak and pine trees, grasslands and wetlands. Many types of wildlife live there including deer, fox, birds and fish. There is a Visitor Center (free) and it’s a fun place to take a stroll.

On Children

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Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you
cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bow from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the maker upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrow may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet

Alex’s Birds

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My nephew Alex is a talented young artist.  This is his picture. Inspiration and creativity come in many forms.  I’m amazed by my nephews and niece everyday!

Alex's Birds

“Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, writers will go to stupefying lengths to get the infernal roar of words out of their skulls and onto paper.” Barbara Kingsolver

 

Pluto

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Carl Sagan, the famous astronomer, once said: “We’re made of star stuff.” New Horizons, a spacecraft the size of a piano, zoomed by Pluto and sent extraordinary images back to Earth. Does this NASA photo show a heart? Or outline the face of Pluto, the dog (Walt Disney’s character)?

Pluto

Amazingly, in a true show of humanity, Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes (the man who discovered Pluto) were on board New Horizons.  What an incredible journey!  Now it’s onto the Kuiper Belt (the region of our Solar System that’s beyond the planets) for more discoveries.  A great reminder to keep looking up!!

Earth Day

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Love comes in many forms – self, others, nature – and requires work.  Here’s a great poem by Allen Grossman (1932-2014):

The Work

A great light is the man who knows the woman he loves
A great light is the woman who knows the man she loves
And carries the light into room after room arousing
The sleepers and looking hard into the face of each
And then sends them asleep again with a kiss
Or a whole night of love
and goes on and on until
The man and woman who carry the great lights of the
Knowledge of the one lover enter the room
toward which
Their light is sent and fit the one and the other torch
In a high candelabrum and there is such light
That children leap up
unless the sea swallow them
In the crossing or hatred or war against which do not
Pray only but be vigilant and set your hand to the work.

Spot That Bug!

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Bug

Volkswagen made a yellow Beetle in 1973 – Gelb Schwarzer Renner (GSR).  “Yellow Black Racer”.   Transformers (in the 1980’s cartoon) based a character on it: Bumblebee.  In 2014, Volkswagen made 3,500 GSRs.

How does a bumblebee fly?  Little wings.  Big body.  Based on the laws of aerodynamics and fixed-wing aerodynamics, the “bumblebee argument” says bumblebees don’t have the capacity to fly (because of their wings – area and flapping speed). We know that’s not true.

Bumblebees simply flap their wings harder, in a figure-eight motion, creating more lift.  Amazing creatures.  Fun car.  Small and brave.  My GSR 551.

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More adventures ahead.

“Hope is the thing with feathers”

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Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Mischa

For “Movie” Mary

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My Childhood’s Home I See Again by Abraham Lincoln
(excerpt from Lincoln’s poem about memory and the passage of time)

My childhood’s home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There’s pleasure in it too.

O Memory! thou midway world
‘Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that’s earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

Mary

National Novel Writing Month

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November is “National Novel Writing Month.”  Writing is difficult at all levels, but inspiration can be found anywhere. Interested in writing a novel in a month?  Visit http://nanowrimo.org/

From Ayn Rand’s “The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers”: “A story is like a soul-body relationship.  Whether you start with the body (the action) or the soul (the abstract theme), you must be able to integrate the two.” (page 56)

Reflection

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“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. from “Loving Your Enemies,” in Strength to Love.

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Bottom’s Dream

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Beach

I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was–there is no man can tell what. Methought I was,–and methought I had,–but man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream: it shall be called Bottom’s Dream, because it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the latter end of a play, before the duke: peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it at her death.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream  Act 4, Scene 1

Cossack

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Eugene Peter Eglevsky, my great grandfather, served as a Cossack in Czarist Russia. After the Revolution, he opened a restaurant in Washington, DC and was a member of the Saint Nicholas Cathedral: http://www.stnicholasdc.org/parishhistory.html

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Pictures in front of his Russian restaurant on Connecticut Avenue renowned for its Chicken Kiev.  In the first picture, Eugene Peter Eglevsky is second from the right.  The second picture is Andre Eugene Eglevsky and Leda Anchutina Eglevsky.

 

 

 

“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”

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“Uncle!” pleaded the nephew.

“Nephew!” returned the uncle sternly, “Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge.  “Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!”

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round–apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that–as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

PMS

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We’ve all heard the acronym used in many ways, but have you heard PMS as Post Marathon Syndrome?  It’s an actual phrase.  PMS occurs after a big race is finished, during a runner’s rest and recovery.  It’s marked by depression and lethargy.  PMS can hit just as hard as the Wall.  Sometimes it is exaggerated by the weather, changing the clocks back, or if the race occurs late in the year (for example, training all summer to run a fall marathon, then having to face a winter without any scheduled races).  Am I writing from experience?  Absolutely.

Last week I completed the NYC marathon.  I waited four years to run it and what a challenge!  I loved wearing my finisher’s medal and ING’s orange and blue ponchos (they were so warm and cuddly).  Could I have trained differently?  No doubt.  I should have hit the gym for strength training.  I should have practiced more hill work.  I should have incorporated extra 20-mile runs.  Everything is clearer in retrospect.  We live and learn.

NYCM Running Tips:

1)      If running on the lower level of the Verrazano Bridge and you feel water, beware (especially if it’s not raining out).  This isn’t water: it’s pee.  (And, no, I didn’t see anyone peeing on the Verrazano Bridge.)

2)      Bring heat packs for the runner’s village.  They feel great on the back of your neck, under your arms, in your hands – use them to stay loose and warm.

3)      Waiting in the cold for your wave to begin is stressful.  In some cases (like mine) it take hours.  Layer yourself with extra clothes and then donate them before the starting line.  It’s good for you and your soul.

4)      Put your name somewhere on your clothing – I ran with my bright orange Moriches Bay Running Club shirt and heard: “Looking good big orange” and “Go Moriches!”   Hey, all encouragement helps.

What’s next?  During the NYCM, I thought – never again.  No more marathons.  I’m done.  I’ve run three marathons in the span of one year and one week.  Goal achieved.   But here I am thinking, planning, searching for another marathon to run.  For real.  Wait – hold on!  Maybe, for right now, I’ll just get over my PMS and hit the gym.  That’s always an adventure.

Frankenstein Friday

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In October the Friday before Halloween is known as Frankenstein Friday.  It’s a day to celebrate Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, a cautionary tale about man and science.

Many editions of Frankenstein drop its subtitle: The Modern Prometheus.  Prometheus, in Greek mythology, took fire from the gods and gave it to man. What is man without friends?  Fire?  Imagination?

“When I found so astonishing a power placed within my hands, I hesitated a long time concerning the manner in which I should employ it. Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation, yet to prepare a frame for the reception of it, with all its intricacies of fibres, muscles, and veins, still remained a work of inconceivable difficulty and labour. I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself, or one of simpler organization; but my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as complete and wonderful as man.”  – Victor Frankenstein

Motivational Running Songs

We know them. We love them. (I’m not talking about Chariots of Fire.) Once a coworker (who was training for the NYCM) said she’d listen to “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus whenever she needed an extra push when running. I told her I preferred Tina Turner’s “The Best.” As athletes we’ll do whatever it takes to make it through. I ran a 15-miler yesterday. Here’s the experience set to songs:

1) “Start Me Up” – The Rolling Stones
2) “On the Road Again” – Willie Nelson
3) “Where the Streets Have No Name” – U2
4) “Against the Wind” – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
5) “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – Marvin Gaye (Version)
6) “I’m On Fire” – Bruce Springsteen
7) “Madness” – Muse
8) “Don’t Stop Believin’”- Journey
9) “Because We Can” – Bon Jovi
10) “Never Surrender” – Corey Hart
11) “With a Little Help From My Friends” – The Beatles
12) “Finish What Ya Started” – Van Halen
13) “The Final Countdown” – Europe
14) “How Far We’ve Come” – Matchbox Twenty
15) “Home” – Daughtry or Phillip Phillips (each have their own song)

Then it’s off to Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.”

New York City Marathon

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So it begins… with a single step and lots of determination: a journey of 26.2 miles and an entry fee of $266 – the New York City Marathon. It’s taken me four years.

There are different ways to enter the NYCM – qualify, by lottery, or through a charity organization. I chose the lottery system. For three years I applied to the marathon and was rejected. But now, thanks to grandfathering, I’m in and it’s time to train.

One thing I’ve learned from running, it’s not only about the physical aspect (foot to pavement) but the mental as well. Am I ready? Can I do this?

Jekyll & Hyde

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Went to see Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre starring Constantine Maroulis (American Idol) and Deborah Cox (Aida).  Incredible voices!  Humanity’s dual nature.  Good and evil.  Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote during a canoeing trip: “Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm. ” An Inland Voyage, (1878).

“Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde; but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously relaxed the grasp of conscience. It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, where it was possible, to undo the evil done by Hyde. And thus his conscience slumbered.” Chapter 10: Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case; The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson (1886).

Guggenheim Museum

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Guggenheim Museum, NYC. Gutai: Splendid Playground exhibition (Japanese avant-guard work). I took picture looking up at the ceiling of Water/Work. Other exhibitions included Zarina: Paper Like Skin, Kandinsky 1911-1913, and No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia with the “Love Bed” (a bed made out of razor blades and paper clips). There was also the Thannhauser Collection (Manet, Degas, van Gogh, etc). Great time!

Leda Anchutina Eglevsky

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Leda Anchutina Eglevsky

Picture of Grandma. She studied ballet with Michel Fokine and George Balanchine in NYC. She also danced in Lew Christensen’s ”Pocahontas” and William Dollar’s ”Air and Variations.” Here are some of her other roles:

“The Card Party” – Queen of Spades
“Le Baiser de la Fee” – Bride’s Friend
“Serenade” – Original Cast
“Great Lady” – Broadway 1938
“The Goldwyn Follies” – Movie 1938

George Balanchine’s “Serenade”

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Leda Anchutina, a member of the ballet’s first cast, spoke of Balanchine’s instruction to ”dance very fast.”

”You’re so small,” he told her, ”you have to keep moving all the time.”

The New York Times – Five Generations Recall Balanchine The Teacher by Jennifer Dunning, 10/23/1985 (article about Grandma and Mr. B.)

Election Day

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Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy (first stanza) from Music and Moonlight (1874).  The first couple of lines were recited by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice

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We covered Robert Frost in tonight’s literature class. Fire and Ice is one of my favorite poems…

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.