Sunday, November 29, 2009


     Toyz'R'Us........I get tired just thinking about that place.  At this time of year I am grateful I do not have to shop there anymore-especially during the Christmas season!  I remember hearing stories about friends lining up early on what is now Black Friday to get really good deals on presents.  I never thought it was worth it; too many people, germs, and too much craziness!  My motto was "there must be another way".
     During the rest of the year my husband and I overdosed on Toyz'R'Us and our home looked like its Lego and Star Wars departments.  We could have put a sign in the front yard that said "Treter House of Star Wars".  We indulged our children on their birthdays and at Christmas........not a good idea in retrospect, but it was lots of fun Christmas morning!
    When my children were really young I sometimes felt overwhelmed and that I lived in craziness.  Sometimes I felt like I was on the verge of craziness myself!  On one of these days I escaped with my children to Toyz'R'Us and spied a collection of strange animals which included the one pictured below.  They were the perfect embodiment of how I felt.  Crazed. And so silly I burst out laughing. What a relief! My Pinky is pictured below.  I put her in the kitchen to help me smile or laugh on crazy days. Now she sits in the office. I still think she is funny, and I still have days that feel like she looks!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November's Palette

      A week ago I grabbed my camera just in case I found something interesting to photograph during my morning walk with the dog.  I was not hopeful.  The trees had lost their leaves and it was November--very brown and gray.  The sun was shining  and I thought if nothing else, I can take a picture of the blue sky.
     This morning I repeated my efforts and found some lovely shapes and spots of color which are posted below.  I pondered how pretty a few red leaves or berries are at this time of year in contrast to summertime when they are swallowed up in an abundance of bright colors.  I  noticed the intriguing shapes of naked trees and found abandoned nests on barren branches. I observed that dead leaves and weeds are not just brown and beige but many variations of such.   
     A memory involving Mozart surfaced. After I received my undergraduate degree I took a graduate level class about Classical music.  I anticipated that I would have to listen to many Mozart compositions and be able to identify them by ear.   That was going to be very difficult as I believed they all sounded similar--how would I be able to tell them apart?  I was relieved and pleased to discover that as I listened to my assignments my ears began to distinguish many differences in Mozart's works. It was a bit like my experience with color on the parkway.  Once the rich, lush sounds and textures of late Romantic music were gone I began to focus on the more limited palette of Classical music and found many variations therein.  It was a rich experience.

      These were taken near my home on November 15, 2009



     The following were taken today, Nov. 22, 2009/ Parkway

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Haven

     A special lake is where I go to escape.  My grandmother and two aunts bought a cottage there when I was 9 or 10 and it has always been my favorite place.
     It was sold many years ago but I still visit with memories. Sometimes I go when I need a dose of beauty, peace or solace.  Sometimes it is a source of inspiration.
     When my middle son was recovering from two bouts of cancer I began to do some writing, much of it inspired by the lake.  It began with simple Haiku in secret as I have little confidence in writing anything creative.  I discovered that I could get lost in writing, and it helped focus my thoughts.  It was a wonderful, pleasant escape from the trials of life and a way to record life for my posterity.
     I found myself "visiting" the lake frequently...maybe because it was a healing place. It was also a happy place. My aunts, both unmarried schoolteachers, escaped there during summers.  There was no telephone-the neighbors took emergency calls-and there was not much TV.  My aunts usually drove to their home on weekends to do laundry and check-in with the real world. 
     My grandmother and two aunts were very creative.  Between the three of them was good cooking, sewing, decorating, drawing, painting, sculpting, building, singing, and story-telling.  And they were very laid-back.  They were at the lake to relax and that is what they did!
     They were good listeners.  They were patient and non-judgmental, and as a result I could tell them almost anything.  I seemed to connect to this side of my family and felt accepted.  The lake was a refuge from my home where I often felt awkward and misunderstood .
     The cottage faced the lake, with just a road separating them.  The lake was approached by walking down  a few wooden steps.  At the bottom was a narrow, rocky beach.  After that a white dock stretched out.  In later years a small deck was built near the top of the steps to accommodate my aunt's wheelchair.  The square deck jutted out over supportive structures enclosed in latticework. 
     When young my sister and I would go to the lake together.  Many hours were spent playing with Barbies, swimming, sunbathing, and reading on the dock. In the afternoon we would play water ballet and swim with my aunts. After that we sunbathed on the dock while pouring over movie magazines and nibbling snacks. When older I enjoyed mornings by reading a good book at the end of the dock and dangling my feet in the water.  Sometimes I just sat and watched the lake, its changing colors and what I could see below the surface.
     My aunts were usually involved in creative pursuits when not working or at the beach.  One of my aunts painted with oils on the side porch.  The picture I remember best was a very large canvas covered with white wicker and red geraniums, a bright and cheerful work.  My other aunt sewed furnishings for the cottage such as curtains, pillow covers, and bed linens.  She and my grandmother were the cooks. My aunts did light gardening and always hung a few pots of colorful impatiens.
     The cottage was always changing.  It was a fixer-upper when purchased  and various improvements were almost always being planned or carried out.  I learned how to paint a wall while helping them paint.  One summer my aunt laid a brick patio by herself. A lower bathroom was put in during later years.  One year they discovered that during the off-season squirrels had infiltrated the roof by way of the front yard walnut tree, damaged it, and generally made a big mess.  Major repairs followed....
     Decorating projects were frequent.  In the 1970s my aunts discovered country-style decor and made a lot of changes, including new furniture, knick-knacks, and stenciling along the tops of walls and on the steps leading upstairs. It was charming.  I usually visited late in the summer when the projects were finished or in completion, and it was always fun to see what was new.
     In my teen years I would bring a project of my own to work on. It was usually a piece of crewel embroidery; occasionally I tried needlepoint or simple quilting by hand.  I enjoyed this very much.  Sometimes my aunts helped or encouraged me.  I appreciated this as my mother did not do handwork at that time and she hated to sew.
     My favorite moment at the lake was waking up.  My sister and I always slept in the second bedroom, a small white room almost filled by three twin beds each of which lined a wall.  It was a cheerful room.  Each bed was covered with  yellow-gold checked linens that my aunt had made out of sheets. The end bed was on the lake wall and a window was at the foot of it.  The bed I usually slept in jutted out from here and my head was at the window end.  I loved to bury myself under the covers on cool mornings and feel the lake breeze while listening to the sound of waves lapping.  It was a delicious experience.
     My lake aunts were like second mothers to me, but they were not the only ones. I was blessed to have even more who for one reason or another never had children.  Each took time to love and teach me, filling  gaps in my family education and expanding upon what I had been taught at home.  I have had many mothers.  In closing I leave a poem about my two aunts......

     Their souls blew through the cottage
       Like soft lake air,
        Filling it with breezes of art and conversation,
             Memories and song,

      Which grew around my heart
        Like the wild sweet peas
            Tendrilling across the weathered deck 
             And over the rocky beach.

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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.