July 2018

Dear Friends,

Happy Summer!

Due to family reunions, I am posting my July website later than usual. Looking at July 4th just a few days after, keeps the visions of the preparations, the arrivals, events, happenings and the whirl of our days together, vividly alive. One thing seamlessly led to another, with the usual comings and goings, with planning and the accomplishing of focused goals to move things along. It’s quite astonishing how much energy we have when we set our minds and our hearts to accomplishing meaningful work. While I’m embracing the calm after the storm, I’m poignantly aware how the colorful memories and tenderness lingers in the spaces we’ve shared.

Before I plunge into our domestic improvements at the cottage, I want to reports to all my loyal friends that my work on “Men in My Life” is moving along, and I am more passionate about this book than any I’ve written. I’ve come to understand that these six men I’m writing about are foundational. By immersing myself in their importance in my development and flourishing, they are as near to me as if we were sitting together having a conversation about the meaning of life and the benefits of meditation to make us acutely aware how wondrous it is to be alive.

The front garden burst forth with purple iris, then peonies. The hot pink geraniums are now intensely energetic in the window boxes surrounding the cottage. In front of the study is a large blue hydrangea bush bursting with blossoms. All the other hydrangeas are hidden from view in our secret tiny garden behind the cottage. There’s something extraordinarily beautiful about having all one flower in abundance in all shades, tones, and tints of blues, purples, and pinks. While they’re meant to be “Nikko Blue” hydrangeas, flowers have a mind of their own, depending on the soil, air and water, as well as mysteries I don’t understand. My only focus is on revering their exquisite beauty and being worthy to keep company with them as I putter about in appreciation.

I’ve moved my seat at the kitchen table in order to look out at this utterly amazing feast to the eye. While I’m recognizing the life-changing contributions of my special, favorite heroes, teachers and mentors, I’m reminded of Claude Monet saying he owes being a painter to flowers. My personal epiphany was to become awake, alive and conscious in my mother’s cutting garden in Weston, Massachusetts when I was three. I’m thankful to my mother and godmother who encouraged me to learn to see and appreciate beauty in all forms.

What a delight to reflect on our family reunion, grateful for the delightful beauty the flowers surrounding the cottage added to our happiness. They not only keep me company, but I love the way they reach out to me and communicate, “Water me,” The white geraniums in my writing room in twin cache pots of perfect sky blue we refer to as “Muhl blue” indicate to me where to place them to show off their most graceful poses. I’m reminded of having my own flower garden, along with vegetables, when I was six, eager to examine their miraculous growth each morning. Flowers and flowering plants keep our rooms fresh and alive, always welcoming our entering.

Windows cleaned and mildew off the picket fences, inspired me to paint with bright white glossy deliciousness early the morning our two teenage granddaughters were arriving. Everyone loves to watch Tom Sawyer. A neighbor renting in a building next to us came out to watch as he bragged about the delicious blend of coffee he uses because the Inn at Stonington’s coffee is so good. After a while as I was soon to run out of paint, I asked Tim if he had any coffee left in his pot. Sure enough, I sipped coffee from a black mug, savoring the moment.

With the pink roses in full bloom reaching up and out in all directions, the shiny white paint makes me smile because it looks wet. When I went to buy another gallon of paint, I was told that no one uses high gloss for picket fences. “Any way, it’s more expensive.” The difference was $5.00 and makes all the difference. I imagine the actual old fence is smiling back at me.

July 4th was Peter Brown’s absolute favorite day of the year. He was a serious patriot and loved the American flag. A friend and I bought a 4’ x 6’ flag, replacing a faded, smaller one, and wow. What a difference. From the pole to the fence, it flutters back and forth, showing off in the sea breezes, creating quite an attractive look with our house plaque, John Rathbone. 1775.

I’ve lived in our sweet, old cottage for 30 years now, and I can envision Peter standing in front of the house waving at friends, and all the participants who took part in our annual parade July 4th; I don’t need the aid of photographs to see him, beaming, wearing a flag necktie, smiling with such glee he brought joy to people (and dogs) of all ages. While he has watched over the Stonington Village Fourth of July parade from up above for four years, I feel Peter’s gentle, loving presence everywhere. What a reassuring feeling to be so tenderly loved from my inseparable soul partner eternally.

I will continue to write my words silently on pastel paper with fountain pen, using all shades of blues, greens, pinks and purples. An intelligent use of technology is to have wifi in the cottage. I’m acutely aware this is a convenience, not a necessity, and once I agreed, I have not looked back. The white printer needed to be replaced with a larger, clunkier black model, and without my knowledge, my land line was replaced with a cordless variety. The wise words of one of my mentors, Mrs. Brown, rings true in my ear: “Be careful what you give up.” I had saved the voice messages from Carl that were sacred treasures to me. They are gone. While I can remember the essence of his messages, they were so uplifting and happy, I loved having them there, and I felt, in safe keeping. I have his letters; I also have this wondrous gift of being able to share a remarkable story of how powerfully these six men contributed to my flourishing.

Our grandchildren and friends have a lemonade sale to raise money for our beloved Stonington Free Library. The Day newspaper had a lead article about how the library didn’t meet their goal, and because of the cuts in their budget, they were forced to shorten their hours. Cooper and two friends, Mia and Stella, took it upon themselves to raise $250.00. Mia baked cookies; Cooper’s mom Brooke baked brownies and cupcakes; Cooper designed a poster and printed copies on the new big black clunker of a printer and went around to the shops, clipboard in hand, to ask for some advertisement in their window. In four years, our grandchildren Cooper, Nicholas, Anna and Lily had raised $746.00. Pre-sale we were up to $775.00. The goal for the lemonade sale was $225.00 to hit the thousand dollar mark. “Save the Library! All proceeds go to the Stonington Free Library!” One friend inquired from Mia, the treasurer, “How much do you think you raised so far today?” Roughly counting, Mia said, “Approximately $180.00.” When I heard that I sighed in bliss: with a matching gift from the grandparents, we met our mark. They’d gone the extra mile walking down Water Street with trays of cupcakes. On July 5th we were able to hand deliver a note and check for $410.36, making the total to date $1,156.36. During the extreme heat wave, I did my work in the cool space of the library one day, and felt deep appreciation for the example of Cooper’s inspiration from her grandfather Peter Rabbit, who loved the library so genuinely.

Enjoy the glorious days of July. Thank you for all your support and the joy you bring to me every day.

Love & Live Happy

Peter signing "Figure It Out" -- a donation to the Stonington Free Library one year

Amy and Alexandra "figuring it out!

Make way for the geraniums!

Our Paris home!

Peter and I are passionate about lemons!

Sweet memories of Peter fill my heart

Bless Charlie, our neighbor, for this great gift!

July roses!

July 2013 ~ A sweet memory of Peter and me at the Ocean House in Rhode Island

Simply exquisite!

Love & Live Happy

Mark your calendars!!

Save the Date!!

Alexandra will be hosting a Happiness Retreat at the Inn at Stonington on November 7th and 8th, 2018!!(More details to follow.)

(See Event Page)

Grace Note

"With love so short as a half taken breath, don't plant anything but love."

~~ Rumi