Storm city

Gusts up to 60 mph; steady 35-40. Rockin and rollin on Block Island. No boats. Big waves. 


Strange days

I must apologize for the brevity of these posts, but my two vices collided, and my computer was baptized with beer. Hence for the foreseeable future, this blog will be more pictorial than verbal. 


Stormy weather

Sam Savage (his real name) (when I made his reservation on the ferry the woman on the phone told me she had just made a reservation for a Sam Studley and we both got hysterical) hauled in from the mainland bearing storm doors. And sure enough he had to fight a storm to install them. Winds of 30 mph and driving rain did not make it easy, but he got 'er done. Bitchin, Mr. Savage!

Post time

I am having issues posting. Will keep trying! But not working on my phone and my computer is lame. 


the happy couple

I can't think of Pat and Marilyn one without the other. They were college sweethearts, and they entwined like honeysuckle vines for more than 50 years. Their lives were full of tragedy—they lost a daughter and her daughter to a congenital heart condition—but they had lots of love, too, and each other. They memorialized their daughter with a horse therapy program for the multiply disabled children at the Helen Keller center in Talladega, Ala. You can read about it in this article I wrote for People magazine.
   Anyway, while I was in Alabama in August, Marilyn had just been diagnosed with some bad cancer, so I didn't go to see them. But last Thursday I got to thinking about them and texted my cousin in Alabama to ask after Marilyn. He told me she had died the day before. I can't imagine what it must be to lose a lifelong partner. Pat and Marilyn.


shot black and white

As many of you doubtless know, there is one of these chain-letter things going around on social media called the black and white challenge. You are supposed to shoot one black and white picture for seven days and each day nominate someone else to do it. I hate these things, but Tracey Dillon tapped me (I blame her!) and so I'm doing it with one exception. Not passing it along—so that all of my friends who don't like homework assignments won't get mad at me. So far I have learned one thing from the exercise, which is that no matter how classic b/w looks, I prefer color.

Vote now! Vote often!


chaos theory

 I am branching out. Magazines may be dead, but advertorial magazines appear to be thriving. This essay appears in a title called "Ideas of Order" put out by California Closets. Thoughtful stories, classy layout, great production, nice paper. I am not sure how or to whom it's being distributed, but you can see the full issue here. I reproduce my text below. Please note the prescient mention of natural disasters!

Tidying up: The Dialectics of Order

The world is too big. We can’t wrap our little minds around it, so we frame it, contain it. Stack it. Sort it. Strap it. Pat it. Prune it. Slice and dice it. We stereotype and generalize, categorize and organize. Because it’s all Too Much Information.  We can’t even.
   The eye imports the unintelligible jumble, and the brain sorts it, color codes it, tries to break it down to recognizable images and make sense of it. A photographer picks one frame from the torrent of input in his or her field of vision and simplifies, looking for some intrinsic logic. In that one selected frame, a picture can capture harmony and meaning. Outside the frame is—well, all that other stuff. Three hundred and sixty degrees of relentless reality.

So make the world smaller. Pull the camera back, a spaceshot away from the chaotic mess of humankind, and experience the music of the spheres as they whirl in orderly circles. Get closer and there are our gridlike cities and parking lots, the meticulous rows of corn and terraces of rice we have imprinted on the landscape. Rivers snake and mountains erupt according to their own natures, and still we try to groom and manicure the very earth itself.
    Or get very close to a photographic frame and examine the pixels. The word comes from “picture elements,” a human construct that makes an image into a pointillist grid of dots or squares, a Seurat or Chuck Close writ exceeding small. Get closer still, with an electron microscope, and it’s the natural order again: tiny solar systems of atoms. 

The world is too dangerous. People need patterns to cope. Is that dappling the effect of the sun shining through leaves—or the spots of a leopard? You have to decide quickly, and the more deeply encoded the patterns, the faster your brain can process. Sometimes it’s good to be on autopilot. Decision-making is exhausting. Friend or enemy? Here or there? This or that? Stash or trash? What goes with what? What to put in, what to leave out.

So make the world safer. Make it more predictable. Standardize. If you can’t find patterns, construct them. Make big box stores with identical layouts. Stand in the place where you live and think about directions. Invent numbers to mark street and highway signs. Create emojis. Make symbols—a picture of a mortar and pestle for an apothecary’s shop or letters to brand a chain drug store—so you know what to expect when you walk through the door. People like familiar packaging. Pattern recognition. 

The world is out of control. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires. Deserts blooming. Tropical fish straying into northerly waters. The strange migrations of birds.  We’ve never been able to control the weather, but it seems crazier than ever. And then there’s the everyday stuff we can’t control— delays, malfunctions, our children, appetites, our tempers. No wonder we have control issues.

So control your own chaotic world. We get a little OCD.  We make our immediate environment more manageable by cutting it into byte-sized pieces. A two-year-old sorts her shoes into pairs and places them in a careful circle around her feet.  A wage slave squares his laptop and makes a flurry of decisions about where to file each piece of paper floating around the office.  A housekeeper arranges cushions symmetrically on the couch. Human beings crave symmetry. In a face, it is perceived as beauty; in our surroundings, it is perceived as clarity. Clear the decks. Clear the desk. Clear the mind.

But the world is too big.  Something always messes with our neatnik framework, an inner Oscar to our inner Felix. Perfect order is the impossible dream. We can organize into pixels and fractals and pterodactyls, but the next thing you know—kablam! All bets are off. There is no final cut. Fifty-two pickup. Toss all the cards in the air, and they fall in a new pattern. Synchronicity? Maybe.
   Chaos theory posits that new patterns are jumpstarted by tiny initial actions, that a butterfly’s wing or a swimmer’s flutter kick can cause a concatenation of events that result in a tornado in Kansas. So, Dorothy, here’s to new beginnings.  Embrace the process. Chaos is creative. This is the pleasure and the paradox. A tabula rasa. We get to start over, creating order and serenity from chaos. In that inchoate mess are so many possibilities. Because the world is so big, and so very beautiful.


by the sea

 They were surfcasting yesterday and surfing some days before. People hock me because I haven't been to the beach since I got back, but I'm happy just to hear the sea and see the sea. I never get tired of the waves and the sky and the way the horizon divides the two.


sunset with architectural elements

Epic sunsets. Wouldn't know about the sunrises, though I've heard they're nice too.
    The exterminator, Correna ("I'm your girl"), was here today. It's a pleasure to meet someone so excited about her work, even though it does involve bugs, rats, mice and—her nemesis—acrobat ants! That's what I have.  "They're eating your house! This whole island is sand!" As yet no termites have migrated to the island, but she suspects they will one day. She swears her spray will not harm animals or people. I sign on the dotted line.


then and now

 Four years ago this itty bitty baby and his big sister visited Block Island on Columbus Day weekend. Some things haven't changed. But some things have!


full moon empty boat

I know, I know. I haven't posted for a few days. But I've been booking the houses and spending enough time on the computer. Hopefully better after the weekend!


scenic block island

 You never know. One day it's summer weather, the next day stormy weather. But you can count on the skies being extreme.
  In other news, the linen service has come up with most of my vanished towels. So I'm a happy renter.