Friday, February 26, 2010


It's downright inhospitable ... the weather, I mean ... especially for a tourist town. Enough with the dripping and/or sleeting sound effects on windows and from eaves and the icy smear — currently a snowy smear — on the skylight over my/our kitchen sink. I want to look up from my dirty dishes to the promise of blue. I want to drive (to the beach, maybe??) without the rhythmic slapping of windshield wipers interfering with the groove of the music. I want to walk without my vision-limiting hood up and get wherever I'm going (to the nearest coffee shop, maybe??) without soaked, freezing shoes. I want to see clearly; not through or at a tangle of dormant vines. What's more, it's the weekend (almost). Might a bit of blue — so I can stop feeling blue — be in the offing?? Maybe?? Please??

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I wish the sky were blue — it's not. Lamps are lit (lighted??) even indoors, as the weather's so dark, wet and gloomy ... for the third day running ... and the days are running by fast. Fortunately, for my mood's sake, I remembered the coffee shop on Bellevue where the proprietress loves rainy days — where she always says, without sarcasm, "Nice day out there!" That's where I headed, with my hood up, this morning. I even remembered to ask her, "Why do you like rainy days?" She could barely contain her glee (really, it was glee): "Oh, I don't know. When we were kids my mom would give a us a bar of soap and tell us to go play in the rain!" Hmmm. That does sound like fun, I guess ... and like a resourceful mom was intent upon killing at least two birds with one stone (what a dreadful, not to mention far-fetched, expression). But that whole notion of cleansing, cleaning up, washing things away is a positive feeling. So, with that in mind, I walked home again — clutching my cup, with my hood still up — past that pointy (ouch!) fence surrounding the Elks' Lodge (one-time site of the U.S. Naval Academy) and Commodore Perry (with his stiff, hollow, pained expression, even on a bluer-sky day). I was/am quite determined to put this darkish morning in a brighter light, i.e., it's a good thing it's raining. Now how many things can I get done or cleaned-up?? I'll start with Pixie the parakeet's cage (Pixie being the only "child" at home these days, and I am not sending her out to play in the rain). I might even let Pixie stand in for a seagull this morning, as she's just so sunny with her non-stop chirping — and, yes, her color — and in the interest of killing two birds with one stone ...

But, no, that'd be lame (or worse, for the two birds) ... "for the birds" being another weirdly relevant expression. So, here's the second bird:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

by george

I missed it ... Washington's Birthday (among so many other things). Somehow, after the lumped-together holiday convenience of Presidents' Day and the weeklong flurry of Winter Fest — Newport's answer to school vacation week — Monday was just another Monday. But not at Rogers High School; they remembered Washington's Birthday, especially as Mayor Napolitano showed up for an assembly on the first-day-back-to-school-after-vacation to read aloud the letter Washington wrote to the congregation of Touro Synagogue way back in the unimaginable days of 1790. ("By George" was the headline of yesterday's Newport Daily News and the source of this/that info, to give credit where it's due.)

Frustrated that I'd missed it — it feels lousy to miss someone's birthday — I scurried down to Patriots' Park on the beautifully restored/enhanced campus of Touro Synagogue yesterday afternoon, just after I saw the headline, just as this crummy cold rain began, just as one of those cute Newport trolleys (rescued from the budget axe last summer) stopped at the adjacent stoplight. I found the bronze version of Washington's letter atop a granite dais, beside a vaguely historic-looking trash can ... lest someone wants to spit out his/her chewing gum before reading aloud??

Kidding (and all fond remembrance of high school) aside, it does something to see/read Washington's letter, to mouth the words, even to oneself, even if you/I feel like a nut showing up a day late, standing by a trash can, all alone, in the rain (in 2010!!). Really, the letter — and the oft-missed notion of Newport, at the outset, on top of everything else including all manner of fortuitous geography and agricultural richness and general loveliness, as a critical seat/site of religious freedom and tolerance — speaks volumes. If you don't believe me, click to enlarge (below, if the type is too small) and take in each and every word, especially the last bit about the vine and fig tree ...

Isn't that what it's all about?? And, yes, of course, "Washington slept here" — as he did every night, somewhere. In Newport's case, it was at Vernon House (a.k.a. Rochambeau's Headquarters) on Clarke Street ... or so we're told ... so I hear ...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

small print

It's easy to miss stuff behind/beneath so much brightness and beauty and to ignore (willfully??) the less lovely aspects of anything. Okay, that's vague — but during yesterday's meander down to the fish pier, where I stood like a ninny taking pictures of seagulls as they dug entrails from a trash can, I missed something. Something ugly ...

No, not that (although seagull poo is certainly ugly). Posted on pilings — right there at the gull's feet, right there by that cleat — were laminated signs crying: "THIEF!!!!" I didn't notice them at the time, so I didn't read them, and the type's too small to read them here/now. But, wait, if I zoom in ... focus ... haul out my reading glasses ... squint .... I can just make out the accusation, under the alleged culprit's bearded grin:

"Stole lobsters Christmas Eve from fishermen at the State Pier in Newport." That's UGLY (unless the guy's family was starving or some such thing). And now his picture is posted all over the pier. He's wanted ... for all the wrong reasons. I don't know why that strikes me as important, or interesting, or why it strikes me at all. The mere idea of "there it was" — right there, all along — struck me as INSTRUCTIVE, somehow, as I stood like a ninny (again), feeling perfectly cheerful if half-asleep (half-dead??), snapping a picture on Long Wharf of a lovely red crane in a No Wake Zone ...

Stop, thief!! Time, for one thing, is getting away ...
Wake up! Get building! Why are you (I) wasting another day??
And how does one go about stealing lobster, anyway??
(Seagulls and cranes have so much say ...)

Monday, February 22, 2010


Here's a fascinating tidbit: Monday is trash & recycling day in my mid-town (not to be confused with Midtown) neighborhood. Sidewalks, brick or not, are lined with neat gray barrels and blue & green bins that, by this afternoon, will be on their sides, upside-down and/or rolling in the road. Lids will be flung, bins will be empty, and the contents will have gone ... where, exactly?? I'm not sure, but I'm grateful, for both the effort and result — and to the agents of change — as a new week's gathering of trash & recycling (the refilling of bins) now begins ...

Meanwhile, down at the fish pier — next door to the Shipyard (where all eyes & ears are on imminent decisions regarding the Volvo Ocean Race and dare-we-hope-it-returns America's Cup) — it's always recycling day. The picture of order & efficiency. Of past & future lobster. Past & future fishing. Past & future ... traps & trips. Yet another tasty meal just might be found in the bottom (or top) of the barrel if one digs, pulls and crows about it effectively enough. And remains on the lookout ...

Friday, February 19, 2010

summer games

Oops, wrong season — but I was walking past Cardines Field yesterday, one of the oldest baseball parks in the nation (and a great place to catch both baseball and sunset from the top tier of wooden bleachers), and I could almost feel the buzz, hear the announcer, see Gully ... the mascot for the Newport Gulls. Almost but not quite. When I peered through the fence, a lone coyote was the only player on the field, his game being to discourage geese from establishing residence. He's doing a good job, though the geese didn't go far: just a few blocks (perhaps they walked) to another park beside the Goat Island Causeway, where they enjoy a lovely, off-season view ...

I will attempt to find/add an image of Gully the gull — at spring training perhaps?? — but this peaceful-looking couple will have to suffice in the meantime.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I'm sorry to do this — to talk about polo on Sachuest Beach again — but there is/was still more. Saturday was so cool that we went back on Sunday for more. More of the same. Except it's never the same: not the conditions, not the colors, not the company. It was even cooler (more cool??) — and windier (more windy??) — the second time around, and I felt so lucky to be there, despite having really cold hands ...

And, unfortunately, on top of forgetting my mittens (hence the cold hands), I forgot that horseshoes are bad luck in the upside-down position ... because all the good luck spills out (right??). So, even after all this/that loveliness and excitement, even though I walked around the most pristine hoof print I could find to shoot it from the upright perspective — after I'd shot it from the downwrong perspective — I'm afraid the damage was done, the luck had spilled, the die was cast ...

Please excuse down-to-Earth image — let's just call it extreme bad luck (and the luckee car was not to blame).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

sand castles

I made passing reference to it yesterday, but I want to revisit/reconsider it, as it was really something: the sub-scene of kids and dogs at Second Beach "watching" the polo match. They grabbed my attention, as they seemed so unfamiliar — yes, unfamiliar — to me. I'm no longer a member of Toddlerworld and Dogworld, where cute little bottoms and leashes (of various kinds) rule the day, and that floored me.

I miss it, of course — not the diapers (and Pull-Ups) and leashes (and poop), but other aspects (like laughter). How nice to visit, or revisit, it, for a little while. Is that how grandparents feel??

And play — that's the other thing. And sand — how easy and endlessly fascinating to play in the sand, although at some point, as the grown-up, it became unfascinating to me ... the idea of playing in the sand. When is/was that turning point, exactly?? And why can I see now what fun it all is/was?? All those sweet hands and feet, mittens and boots, pink and blue. All those sweet brown doggie eyes and assortment of ears (I'm partial to floppy ones) and not-so-sweet doggie instincts.

Everyone loves a sand castle: endless possibilities, and the impermanence takes the pressure off. They're compelling even to those who choose not to participate. They're even (or especially) compelling to someone/anyone feeling on-edge, unleashed, unsure of the next step ...