June 2010

Dear Friend

I’m reminded of my favorite Impressionist artist, Claude Monet, who wrote to a fellow artist friend, “Come for lunch on Tuesday when my iris will be in full bloom.” I’m seated in the downstairs study overlooking our tiny front garden we had planted last summer as an anniversary present we gave each other. The winding bluestone path is nicely softened with moss and flowers reaching out toward the sun. We added four new rose bushes hugging the side picket fence in honor of our four youngest grandchildren – Nicholas, Anna, Lily and Cooper.

In Peter’s exciting book, Figure It Out, he quotes a designer friend of ours, Jack Lenor Larsen, “Never leave your village when your garden is in bloom.” Wise advice from a man of exceptional aesthetic taste and judgment.

All the roses are in healthy buds about to burst into a variety of shades of pink. Our purple iris are in full bloom, hugging the window, reaching up to the glorious cloudless blue sky. We still have lots of periwinkle forge-me-not’s and the peonies are about to blossom. The evergreens have been removed from the winter months in the window boxes that surround the cottage and are now a blaze of hot pink geraniums. With the cool shades of purple in the garden, and the anticipation of the forest of Nikko blue hydrangea bursting into glory around the fourth of July, Peter and I are flying off to Paris on June 2nd to continue our long tradition of celebrating our anniversary where we spent our gloriously romantic honeymoon thirty-six years ago.

We went to New York City for our actual anniversary, and enjoyed ourselves enormously. Now that we have no apartment in this city we know so well and love, we are free to come and go, to walk about, go to museums and restaurants at whim. We’ve discovered it is wise to delay going to Paris until June in order to be able to eat some meals on garden terraces in warm sunshine. Our garden will be here when we return and Brooke, Tony and precious Cooper will be here, enjoying a vacation in the village they love by the sea. I’m happy we were here to enjoy our lilac and lily-of-the-valley. When the weather gets warmer and the frost is over, our hearts rejoice with the exuberance of color in the garden, but we have to follow the universal pace because we all know snow can appear in May as it did in Vermont this year.

Spring always comes, and living in New England is a lesson in patience because it is so soft and sweet when this magical time of year does arrive. A friend told me on the telephone recently, “I’m so full. I love to overflow.” We discussed our writing and studying, and Claire told me at 7:07 PM on May 27th, “Alexandra, go outside, outstretch your arms and hug the sun and the moon. The moon will be rising as the sun is setting and this is very rare.” She went on to tell me of the intense celestial influences that are having an impact of astrological energies in the planet.

Peter wrote about our dear friend Claire in the opening essay of his book under the category “LOVE.” “Wine,” writes Claire O’Classen, “is light held together with love.” Claire is a former nun who teaches us many wise things, including her belief that you should eat the equivalent of three peppercorns a day in order to be cheerfully happy. While I think she swallows whole peppercorns, Peter and I use a pepper mill!

One of the most powerful ways for me to feel energetic is to be in the sunlight, being exposed to the amazing mystery and joy of flowers, trees, the sky and water. How blessed I feel to be able to look out a window from our cottage and experience such majesty. I intend to live these sun-drenched days completely and sleep under the stars at night.

As we fly off to Paris, we feel the joyful energy of our garden in full bloom. Peter’s book is coming out, and we’re looking forward to several fun book tour events, including one here in our home village of Stonington. We have been asked by the Dogwatch Café, a favorite restaurant on the water at the famed Dodson’s Boatyard, to have a book event to raise money for a charity that is dear to our heart. We will keep you posted about this exciting event that will take place this summer.

I’m grateful to you for the enthusiastic response to my telling you about Aging Gracefully. I’ve passed on your positive words of support to my literary agent, Carl, who is a huge believer in my book. Thank you for assuring me you are on board for what I believe is a vitally important book for all of us. Aging, whatever age, happens. We want to do whatever we can to make the very most we can of this vitally significant passage in our life’s journey.

In my 68-plus years of being alive, I’ve experienced a great deal of joy and pain, as all human beings do over the course of their lifetime. My mother died a dreadful death in 1980 from lung cancer that spread to the bone and brain, at the young age of 68. Every day I’m acutely aware of the great blessings of being alive and being able to make choices that will bring the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment. I am deeply disappointed by the state of the publishing world, and am also brutally aware that the way things were in the past are not the way things are now or will be in the future. I accept this reality and do not take it personally.

At this vitally important stage in my life with Peter, who is thriving in his 88th year, I’m acutely mindful of the quality of our moments together. I feel great happiness in the gentle rhythms of a well-lived hour and day. Because of my deep belief that happiness is an achievement, I value the life we are living together. An old, good friend from Memphis congratulated me, “Alexandra, you and Peter are living to the hilt. Keep it up!”

And this is exactly what I intend to do. If not now, when? I’m always going to write because this is what I’ve discovered makes me the happiest. However, I’m looking forward to exciting adventures in these precious days ahead. And, with Peter’s guide to wisdom, Figure It Out, I intend to thrive!

Love & Live Happy

Have you taken photos at one of Alexandra's events that you'd like to share? If so, you can email them to AStoddardInc@aol.com. Please be sure to include the names of those in the photo and where and when it was taken! We will try to include them on the website in the future.

Figure It Out: A Guide to Wisdom

Peter's new book, Figure It Out, will be shipped in June in both hardcover ($24.95) and paperback ($19.95). Thank you for your orders. Be patient; as soon as we have copies, we'll ship them to you! Thank you!

Peter Megargee Brown

This is a favorite photo that Alexandra took of Peter at Claude Monet's beloved house and garden in Giverny. This is the photograph selected for Peter's new book Figure It Out.

Roses on picket fence ~ coming soon!

La Colombe d'Or

We enjoyed our breakfast and lunches on this enchanting garden terrace.

Don't you just love the new "love" stamps!

Claude Monet's famous Japanese bridge in Giverney where we love to visit!

If you would like to get an autographed copy of Alexandra's book, please send your order (including inscription information) to:
Jane Hannon
Bank Square Books
53 West Main Street
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-3795

Grace Note

I wish to say what I think and feel today, with the proviso that tomorrow perhaps I shall contradict it all.
~ Emerson