Secret Garden in Goshen, Massachusetts

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On the way home from Amherst, we took a detour to Goshen, MA.  The drive was lovely, winding through lush forests and quiet hamlets. The Three Sisters Sanctuary had been recommended to us by our Airbnb superhosts, Chris and Fran, at the Laid Back Victorian in Belchertown.

The Sanctuary was a delight for heart and eye, and sometimes nose.

The artist himself greeted us after Pat rang the bell at the entrance.  Richard Richardson looks exactly as I would have imagined him, muscular and tan with a mane of white hair and a matching, trimmed beard.  He’s been working on his property, “courting the land” as he said, for twenty-five years.

The dragon in the top right photo actually blows fire. The waterfall/fountain flows through the garden and into a pond at the back.

Anyone who has read my book Tangled in Magic knows that I am partial to raptors.  This bird (top left) delighted me.

I admit I was a little distressed by the kid on the ground, but I didn’t try to stand him up.  Aren’t the slabs of colored glass beautiful?

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This art garden seemed to be a realization of the inside of my head: mermaids, fairies, tranquility, humor, secrets and surprises.

 

 

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Exploring Amherst, MA

The Mead Art Museum on the Amherst College campus houses a small but elegant collection of works spanning 5000 years.  I spent the most time with the works in the exhibit entitled Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein.

Honestly, I’d never thought much about how scientific discoveries influenced artists.  The explanations that accompanied each piece made those influences clear.  Scientists in Einstein’s time were looking at microcosms through ever more powerful equipment, and also peeking into the workings of the cosmos.  Artists reflected on all these discoveries.

paper wall

These flat and 3-D paper shapes were part of an installation in the stairwell.  Apologies to you and the artist–I didn’t note her name. I really liked looking at this work.

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dreamscape

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This painting got me right in the heart.  I loved the blurring of images, so much like dreams in which people and objects morph into other people and objects.  I loved the mystery of it and the colors.

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To finish off, a classic print–I believe by Hiroshige–cherry blossoms.  Another period of art that I adore.

If you’re in the area, check out this museum!

Culture Overflows in New Paltz

chamber music

Right in front of the library, last Saturday afternoon, the Olive Quartet graced listeners with their pleasant and peaceful music.  We sat on a bench and enjoyed their offerings.

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Sunday found us at the First Annual Balkan Festival at the Rail Trail Cafe in New Paltz.  Bands included Greek Night, Max’s New Hat, and Caprice Rouge.  Musicians switched places and bands in a baffling display of talent.

Dancers added to the fun.

The Rail Trail Cafe is a beautiful venue.  Dogs and passing bikers and hikers add to the ambiance.

http://www.railtrailcaferosendale.com/events

Just remember to bring your insect repellant!

Verbal Abuse

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Call Me Hope

by Gretchen Olson

Little, Brown, & Co., NY 2007

In this novel, twelve-year-old Hope lives with a verbally abusive mother.  Her older brother, Tyler, is sometimes helpful and defends Hope on occasion.  Worked into the plot are the reading of The Diary  of Anne Frank and viewing the film Life is Beautiful.  With these learning experiences, Hope is able to devise a point system to make her life more bearable. She creates a safe space in her closet.  She looks forward to a week of Outdoor School. But…

Enter the adults.  Her social studies teacher, Mr. Hudson, is aware that Hope is struggling at home.  The school counselor knows that Hope’s relationship with her mother is painful.  Hope makes friends with the owners of a second hand store, who also are aware that Hope has problems at home.

All of these members of Hope’s community step in to assist Hope, so that she can attend Outdoor School.  And guess what? Hope’s mother sees the error of her ways and begins to reform.

Verbal abuse is a real issue for children.  As Olson’s book points out, the victims may not be aware that what they live with is abuse. Fortunately, Hope has a school community that is attentive and responsive.

I came from a pair of loving parents who were educated and whose jobs involved early childhood education.  And yet I can still hear my father’s irritated, harsh voice saying, “What is the matter with you?” Abuse? Hmm…maybe not.  But it stuck.

Perhaps the first step is identifying the situation as abusive.  Hope is a smart sixth grader and she has help.  Who will help the others?

 

 

*Olson offers educational resources at the end of the novel

Dog Show

On a whim, Pat and I went to the dog show at the Ulster County Fairground.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  We arrived too late for most of the action, but in enough time to see the finals for the hounds and the toys.

Owners and handlers prepped their contestants with hair dryers and comb-outs. fullsizeoutput_205c               YyM%xOdLRPOfn8RTKb7%mQ

Papillon knows how to pose.                   Pomeranian all fluffed up.

chinese crested  Chinese crested hairless reminds me of Count Chocula.

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The poodle gets a spritz of hairspray.  This was the winner of the best in toy breeds.

basset poseBasset hound gets its photo taken.

2 greyhoundsGreyhounds wait their turn.

tired Irish wolfThis Irish wolfhound is hot and tired.

weimar poseThe Weimaraner’s owner said that dogs of this breed love to be close to people.  For me, the best part of the afternoon was meeting this dog.  My family had a beautiful Weimaraner when I was little. She was well-trained, thanks to my father, and so gentle.  I remember lying on the floor with Maida, my head on her chest, while I played with her soft ears.  She never growled or snapped or moved away, no matter what I did.

akc dog bookIn the years of my childhood, we had a much older version of this book.  The cover was black.  I pored over the photos of the different breeds until I could recognize most of them.

And last Sunday, I got to see many of them in person.