Monday, August 14, 2006


Night Thoughts

Snugs, our little macaw, is asleep. Outside, the crickets chirp and the occasional breeze comes into the room through the window that faces north. In some quiet way, I find myself delighted to be seated before the computer screen, making words appear, letter by letter. The air smells good, reassuring, and I could easily be 16 again, snared by summer's easy promise of boys and chlorined swimming pools.

Sixties songs still play in my head or blare from a Golden Oldies radio station. Pretty Little Angel Eyes meets Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp Bomp Bomp Shebomp. My favorite boys of summer are grown men now, old men actually--Joel with his round, contented belly, Charlie still long and lean, sporting a pony tail, Arnie, a short and cuddly cutey who found his way down my street so often one summer that I kept count. He averaged once every three days.

Why do circa 1962 memories--warm with nostalgia--of Northwest Baltimore, show up in 21st century small-town Maine on an otherwise uneventful August evening? Maybe that's the point. On quiet nights when crickets chirp and life feels good, we can, once again, smell the roses of our youth, and remember who we were, where we were, and who was there with us.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Summer Note

Gray sits too far inland to benefit from ocean breezes. Heat radiates from ribbons of asphalt and cars passing through town. Temperatures moderate tempers. Mean spirits cool in Crystal Lake waters. Or perhaps that's wishful thinking.

Needing to protect my damaged heart, I have created distance between myself and the lunacy that passes for governance here. Still, like a rubbernecker at an accident scene, there are times I can't help but look.

At town council meetings, two new women members serve as bookends to the three male members. The men sit together, behaving and voting in tandem. There is, at times, a cartoonish quality to them. I believe one of them likens himself to Mayberry's deputy sheriff. He is thin, slightly built, and pale. Another fellow, stocky and enamored of his own voice, treats us to lots of corporate jargon. A third sits quietly, unless called upon, mainly going along with whatever the other two say. Sometimes, watching a town council meeting on cable TV, I get lost in their shiny pates, the endless droning, or the chair's need to constantly shift papers. I'm not sure what, if anything, they accomplish.

But it's summer, a time when we can excuse ourselves if we don't get all that much accomplished. With heat and humidity upon us, perhaps we can be easier on ourselves and each other, trading in our more petty concerns--and the machinations of the town--for a cool glass of lemonade and a slice of blueberry pie.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

This morning a Baltimore Oriole picks at store-bought suet hanging from the backyard birdfeeder. Its feathers are slick with rain. In our neighborhood, an Oriole is a transient, our feeder perhaps a happy accident (a happystance?) on his journey.

At this point in life's bumpy journey (life as it's lived in Gray, anyway) answers are as elusive as the sun. For days we've lived with overcast, soggy skies, drizzles, downpours, and a chill appropriate to October.

The chill extends to the tenor of the town itself: In-fighting, backbiting, bitterly divisive and just plain ugly. On a blog--graydissedents.blogspot.com--people, always anonymous, are resorting to schoolyard tactics, i.e. who's fat, who's ugly.

I'm considering using my space here to provide accurate reporting of what's happening, who's doing what.

The Oriole can eat and run. The rest of us? Not so lucky.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I Wonder Who’s Dissing You Now

In Gray, a cloak of anonymity surrounds some people who express discontent within the pages of a weekly publication called The Monument. Unsigned comments on the subject of one's choice are allowed—indeed, encouraged—in a section called "Sound Off."

I read the words with some fascination, and revulsion. Each commenter generally has some ax to grind, a complaint or allegation about someone who has offended them. The rants are crudely constructed, similar in tone to a hapless child’s taunts or pouts. Perhaps, for these adults, shouting from the shadows is a way to control a changing, challenging world, a way to fight back, without getting hurt.

The anonymous assailing of others bestows power on the writer, who now controls both the message and its target. Hidden from view, the writer is no longer the unpopular, perhaps overweight, or lonely kid down the block. She can, at last, get even.

Anonymous name-calling is also an insidious way for someone to belittle people who think, look, or act differently. The writer’s targets, revealed and reviled, can neither face nor respond to the attacker.

Who would provide for such an opportunity, for such divisiveness, and why? It this good intention gone bad? Space for this dubious service is provided free of charge by Elizabeth Prata, unblinking steward of The Monument. Ms. Prata advocates strongly for anonymous speech, apparently regardless of content or context.

There may be good reasons for the cover of anonymity, but allowing individuals to abuse their neighbors in a so-called community newspaper is not one of them. By encouraging anonymous nastiness, Ms. Prata becomes a willing participant in the bullying. It’s both abuse, and misuse, of power.

What message do we really send when we spew hate or unsubstantiated allegations at individuals or groups, but never admit that the words, and feelings, are ours?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Gray's becoming bluer these days, in sky and tone.

Winter--a shadow of its usual self--was a bust for outdoor types wanting to use their snowshoes and ski-mobiles. But for those of us who tire easily of shovel and plow season, this mild surprise of a winter, followed by an early spring warm-up, is entirely welcome. These tulips showed up last year, in our front yard.

Gray, however, remains brown, its edges frayed by discord within its perimeter. In this old lady of a town, where cronies and crusty types sit hip to hip, sipping coffee at the Cole Farms counter, the talk is of recall.

Spring is the time for seeds, and for school and municipal budgets to scare the bejezis out of the penny pinchers. Count me among them. But the buzz beyond the numbers comes from democracy rearing its not-always-popular head. A diverse band of disgruntled citizens are attempting to unseat one of the town's councilors. In response, a huge yelp has arisen from those who view the recall plan with distaste. Let the name-calling and bad-mouthing begin.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Last night's poem was written about Saigon the Macaw. She died last May, and is buried in our front yard.

Monday, March 27, 2006

On this night, I am thoroughly weary, determined to start a blog where the voice, the choice, is mine. And so I choose to begin with a poem about death written by an old friend.

shades in the back

shades of the others.......
...of those gone before
wait out in the back
to welcome one more...
once more is our pain
again is our sorrow
another dear closeness
we wont see tomorrow.....
an added ghost now
here, once his home
where once his small body
grew boldly and shone......
the shades wait out back now
for thats where they go
and ......we'll heal in time
....and open again
our missing him worn
his memories shadows
so fond soon will fade
so out back......
... with the others
will be a new shade

ETHERHAZE