Saturday, September 29, 2018

Women Will Be Silenced No More

As I walked along the river this past week – avoiding for a spell the spectacle of eleven men guarding their faces as a woman spoke truths – I took solace in the beauty of leaves caught in ripples along the bank. In the Spanish language, leaves are feminine in gender.  Las hojas.  The leaves’ fragility, brilliance, and exuberance appeared as a counter imagine to the gnarled and old faces of those men, whose eyes stared like knotholes, pretending to see nothing. 

Women, like submerged leaves, have been held as if underwater.  Their voices silenced as they are pressured to submerge their pain, their realities, and their aspirations. 

Even though women have curled into submission and held their sadness inside themselves for decades, other women are standing with them now, encouraging them to put voice to unspeakable violence. Not be silent any longer.

On Friday, two women, standing together as they held open an elevator door, allowed each other’s words be heard. Words this particular time spoken in a Spanish accent.  Las hojas.  Demanding no more eyes of wood.  “Look at me while I am talking to you... Don’t look away from me.”

Women will be silenced no more. Their shining examples of honesty, empathy, and compassion are rippling through this time.  This season. 

Women want no more than to be on an equal level as men.  Neither sex more powerful than the other.  Everyone becalmed.  No necessity any more for the pretense of anger.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Radiating Positive Vibes, The Appearance of a Retiree

I was lagging behind my sister and our Airbnb host, a Brit dressed in a Hawaiian shirt.  The two of them had already rounded a corner and were clipping back along the footpath towards the Eel Pie Island Footbridge.   

The private path on the island (which has no roads and no motor vehicles) passes cottages that embodied the island's heyday of the 1950s and 60's hippie scene – back when the rundown Eel Pie Island Hotel attracted up-and-coming bands and singers like Black Sabbath, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd.  Names, most of you my age, would recognize. 

Passing a mirror on an art studio's exterior wall, I halted. The voices of my sister and David were fading.  Above my head a murder of crows – stuffed, wired, and silent surveyed me and the surrounding courtyard with its bizarre bits of artwork, containers planted with nasturtiums, and piles of the island's shipyard steel. 

My expression in the mirror was one of amused delight.  The same expression taken at a much earlier time of my life.
Judith on the left.  Me on the right.

Here I am, I thought, a retiree, gallivanting about on an island with the expression of an amused three-year-old on my face.

Retirement is so different that what I thought it would be.  I had imagined that no longer working would include having to watch T.V.  (I haven’t watched T.V. my entire adult life.)  I would have to begin eating oatmeal every morning, have trouble sleeping, and wear sturdy-looking shoes all the time.  By all those standards, being a retiree has been a disappointment so far.  

Grinning is what I do in retirement.  I cheerfully drink hot chocolate for breakfast most mornings, amuse myself by uploading photos to Instagram, and buy soft Italian leather shoes.  I grin while rowing at the gym, watching salmon spawn in the river near my cabin, and grin knowing that I live in a cabin.  Retirement is more like that old hippie mantra:  Radiate positive vibes! 

(David and my sister have those same positive vibes.  I think they are working towards retiring.)


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

British Bodies of Water

In all of our days of walks, of boat rides and excursions in Britain over a ten-day period this summer, I took a lot photos. Looking back, I can hardly narrow them down to just a handful of pictures meant to capture the complexity of the short visit, but I noticed that bodies of water featured prominently in a number of my favorite shots.  

Over 10,000 people live on barges or narrow boats in the London vicinity.  The boat pictured above is docked by Eel Pie Island.  The owner raised three girls on the boat and they all now have their own boats.

I watched this narrowboat on the Thames River cruise under the walking bridge over to Eel Pie Island and dock in a public space for the night.  This boat was beautifully maintained.  

Just up from where the boat docked is one of the remaining boat repair companies in the area.

Canals snake across London and extend into the hinterlands.  It is possible to take a canal boat , called a narrowboat (7 feet wide), from the center of London to Liverpool.  Take the northern canal, Paddington Arm, from this intersection of three canals at Maida Vail and you could reach Liverpool.  A website, acting as a canal trip advisor, recommends figuring speed at 3 miles and hour and add 10 minutes for each lock.

A number of boats along the Regent's Park Canal sported woven-rope fenders.  The calm water of the canals and the colorful boats made gorgeous reflections in the water.

During a weekend trip to Cornwall, my son-in-law and his grandparents took us to both the northern and south-facing coasts.  We saw fishing boats in St. Agnes, pleasure boats and rowboats in the harbor at Falmouth and surfers guarded by lifeguards in a tiny cove.  

St. Agnes


Walking the paths on the highlands past abandoned tin mines, one could delight in the beauty of the clifts and turbulent water, while at the same time sensing that having to work or travel along these stretchs could be a lonely endeavor.

Godrevy Heritage Coast

There was one body of dog's water in St. Agnes with a step-up at the Driftwood Spars Brewery that is worth counting in this post as a British body of water.  Or at least as a British body of humor.