September 2017

This is what Bibs has to put up with at this time of year:

Our kitchen patio is shaded by a Japanese Dogwood tree and in the Fall, this tree unloads its berries with a vengeance:

So far, I haven’t had one plop into my morning cup of tea, but at this rate of bombardment I think it’s inevitable. We have to sweep the patio twice a day to clear a path through the mast, and to stay ahead of the rate of rot (these berries are very squishy, and on a warm day they ferment quickly).

If Bibs and I were foragers, we’d make wine out of this stuff. But we don’t, because there’s a rather good wine shop a short walk away and I need the exercise.

I wrote about the Japanese Dogwood in my book Gardens of Awe and Folly . . .

. . . because of an ancient horticultural connection between the northeastern United States and the Land of the Rising Sun and you know me, I likes a good horticultural yarn. (See: page 90 on why the woods of Long Island are no different in make-up, mood, and spirit than any forest on Honshu).

For pre-historical reasons, we here in the northeast states of America share a surprising number of plant species with Japan, one of them being the Dogwood tree. Our native American Dogwood trees have cute little berries. . .

. . . so their seeds can serve as food, to be eaten and pooped out distributed by smallish birds such as this Cedar Wax Wing:

Photo credit: The Audubon Society

On the other side of the world, after millions of years of evolving in their own way in Japan, the Dogwood tree’s seeds come packaged inside fat, juicy morsels of fruit . . .

Photo credit: T. Abe Lloyd

. . . the better to serve as food for its poopers seed distributors, which is not a bird but a mammal, which we know as the incredibly cute Snow Monkey:

Photo credit: Baltimore Sun

The thing is, the Dogwood tree got to Japan a couple of hundred million years ago, but the Snow Monkey only arrived from Korea about  half a million years ago. That’s how smart nature is.

Ah, nature, the passing of the eons and the passing of the seasons. I am writing this on the Hebrew New Year, the Rosh ha Shena, first day of 5778. Also, today is the Last Day of Summer 2017.

How I Spent My Summer

For longtime Dear Readers, it is not news that I adore Blue Jays.

Blue Jay in my backyard.

For Blue Jays, Summer on Long Island means Feather Molting Time, which to me means Blue Jay Feather Harvesting Time. I am all about Blue Jay feathers. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I find a Blue Jay feather. It’s like a miracle. Collecting Blue Jay feathers is what you call an “obsession” with me.

Please note tail feathers. It’s important to the story below.

Last Summer (in the wretched 2016) I had one request of the universe: Let me find 50 Blue Jay feathers. This Summer (of the same politically wretched 2017) was very different. This Summer I was all, like, Whatever. I decided to let the universe send me whatever Blue Jay feathers it felt like throwing my way. (The same rule applied: I only collected the Blue Jay feathers that I found on my own acre of Earth. That is, in my front or back yards.)

It was an experiment: Do our thoughts and intentions really manifest in the physical world?

For all of Summer 2016 I made it a point to be very active in my Blue Jay feather harvesting, and I kept a tally of each time and place where my intention of finding 50 Blue Jay feathers was made manifest.

In an average year, I find 9 Blue Jay feathers. By the end of the Summer of 2016 I had found 30 Blue Jay feathers.

Maybe the following photographs will show you why finding a Blue Jay feather is something magical.

Nature, as you’ve probably noticed, is mostly green. So it’s a jolt to peer into the weeds and see something electric blue:

It’s a Blue Jay feather!

Look closely at this photo of clover:

It’s a Blue Jay feather!

Here’s an instance when I was about to put the seat cushion onto my Adirondack chair . . .

. . . and the universe offered me a Blue Jay feather!

I don’t know how I was able to perceive anything out of the ordinary in this patch of grass. . .

. . .but there it was! A little Blue Jay feather!

Yes, I made it a ritual to walk slowly across the property, eyes focused on the earth . . .

. . . or else I would never have seen this Blue Jay feather!

Out on the edge of the back yard, near a baby Spruce tree that we planted as a seed . . .

. . . some kindly bird let me a Blue Jay feather!

Sometimes, it seemed as if the universe was delivering Blue Jay feathers to me personally, like this one on the kitchen patio:

Blue Jay feather!

You don’t have to look very hard when it’s right in front of your eyes in the driveway:

A Blue Jay feather!

This one was ridiculously easy. Top Cat and I were having breakfast on the kitchen patio and I got up to fetch more toast, and voila! A Blue Jay feather!

I help it up against Top Cat’s denim shirt. This is a true blue Blue Jay feather!

That one, above, is also a center tail feather, which is my favorite of all Blue Jay feathers, so I kept hoping I’d find another one. Well, what do you know: in the same place where I had already found a tail feather  (first photo above). . .

I found another center tail feather! Blue Jay feather strikes twice!

Lastly, this is my favorite Blue Jay feather find of the Summer. It was, once again, on my driveway:

The camera can’t show how, to a brain attuned to the heart-stopping wonderfulness of the hues of a Blue Jay feather, this little thing glowed like a big, fat, full Blue Moon:

It’s a Blue Jay feather!!

I hope you’re not sick of Blue Jay feathers yet. Because I have to announce the results of my laissez-faire Summer of 2017 Bue Jay feather Harvest;

And here it is:

So, it was a pretty goodyear even though I had disengaged myself from “the process”. But, it’s less than half what I got in the 30-feather Summer of 2016, when I was mindful.

Thank you, Universe. I can tell that You always want me to be happy, but you appreciate it a teeny bit more when I met you halfway.

 

And that’s what Top Cat and I wish for you all, Dear Readers, as we toast the New Year:

Let the Universe Give You Its Gifts.

 

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This is why I love the internet. While Hurricane Irma took up a lot of attention last week, a different mini-tempest was raging in the small corners of the online world over this Instagram post by a young lady in Australia:

Public opinion seemed to be heavily in favor of yelling at this young lady for being shallow. The British newspaper, The Daily Mail, even took a poll and 67% of their respondents thought that anyone who would complain about the itty-bittiness of this engagement ring was not a nice person.

Photo credit: Sotheby’s This is the most expensive diamond ever sold: the 59.6-carat Pink Star, $71.2 million dollars (sold April 2017, oval brilliant cut)

Well, this proves that I’m not a nice person because I loathe this ring. It is a travesty.  I would be embarrassed and ashamed to wear it, and I’m talking as the 20-something / 30-something me, not the jaded 60-year-old me who now has some really nice stuff in her jewelry box. No woman, no matter how young and in love, should settle for this.

Jewelry is something that I have expert opinions on. (Certified gemologist, trained diamond grader, colored stone appraiser, Faberge expert for Christie’s auction house.) Let’s forget the intrinsic aspects of this piece of crap, which is that when you buy a diamond that is this tiny you are getting the worst crumbs of the diamond trade, and the stone has practically no market value at all; the ring is essentially worthless, except for the gold weight, which looks minimal. Let’s talk about the intangibles of which this ring is lacking, that is, those elements of taste and sentiment that this kind of jewelry is supposed to embody.

Elizabeth Taylor wearing the engagement ring given to her by Mike Todd in 1957: 29-4-carats (emerald cut, internally flawless).

No. 1, there is no law that says an engagement ring has to include a diamond. To be so rigidly conventional in your thinking that you end up buying a stupid-looking little flake of the “correct” stone shows a disheartening lack of imagination. So in this respect, this ring as an indication of a crippling conformity and dull-mindedness.

Princess Diana’s engagement ring: 12-carat Ceylon sapphire.

No. 2, this ring has no artistry.  It’s basic, no-frills, stripped-down, and minuscule. It’s not the kind of ring that you, as the wearer, are likely to spend many moments gazing at because it is BORING. Why is your fiancé such a dullard? (See: No. 1, above.)

Photo credit: Paris Shop Girl

No. 3: For the same amount of money, you can get a nice little opal, or blue topaz (real stone, fake color, but pretty), or a very nice amethyst (I love amethysts), or lapis lazuli, or aquamarine. There’s a lot of colored stones to choose from, and a lot of rings that make an impression, a statement, has personality. And then, later, you can upgrade it (to a diamond, if you must) when you’re older and more financially secure.

BTW, those rings (above) with colored stones are from Paris Shop Girl and are 18K gold over sterling silver and they cost $44 each. Yeeeesh. By comparison, that young lady’s “diamond” engagement ring looks like it cost $10. Even for a starter-ring, it looks cheap. Which brings me to No. 4: Don’t marry a cheapskate. If quality matters to you, don’t do it. Cheapskates never change. Your entire married life will be about cutting corners, doing things half-assed, and settling for second-rate.

No.5: Rather than wear something so sub-par, so meagre in thought and deed, wear nothing at all. There’s no law that says you have to wear an engagement ring in order to be engaged. Your imaginary ring will do just fine.

So now you know why we, the people of the internet, should stop telling young ladies to just accept and be grateful for whatever cruddy little trinket they are offered. It’s simply more of the same brain washing that tells women to shut up and be honored by any kind of male attention they get. Ha! I say, Resist!

Since we are on the subject of jewelry, here’s a photo of Vivian Leigh’s jewelry box:

Vivian Leigh (1913 – 1967) starred as Scarlet O’Hara in the movie Gone With The Wind in 1939. Her jewelry is on sale at Sotheby’s London on Sept. 26.

I love looking into people’s jewelry boxes. When I was an appraiser I used to do a lot of jewelry boxes for older ladies, so that they could divvy up the heirlooms fairly amognst the children. A few times I was called in by a client who was hoping to find something of value to sell in order to meet living expenses. Those were sad, especially when they had nothing but fake gems in base metals.I would try to compliment the design or the “charm” of their jewelry, to soften the blow.

P.S. If an appraiser uses the word “charming” to describe your stuff, whether it’s furniture, objets d’art, or jewelry, that’s code for “junk”.

Photo credit: Delany Antique Clocks.

Everyone I know if Florida made it through Hurricane Irma just fine. No flooding — yay — and they got electric power turned back on within 48 hours. Still, it’s been an ordeal and the cats are still hung over from the crazy Hurricane Party they threw in their hotel room.

Speaking of hang overs, here’s Lickety this week:

I don’t know why Lickety and his mama, Candy, have now decided that the bookshelf in the dining room is their preferred napping spot this week. But that’s where they are hanging out these days. And Oh! these days!

What a gorgeous final week of Summer we’ve been having!

Dennis, from next door, in the flower bed that never flowered.

 

Taffy and Bibs, mortal enemies but fine napping buddies.

I have a seasonal wrap-up to present to you, Dear Readers, next week, so until then, have a great weekend.

Remember: You are all 24-karat magic, and your brilliance is flawless.

 

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Hello Vivian Swift,
You sent a payment of $100.00 USD to Muttnation Foundation, Inc.

Muttnation is the animal rescue organization headed up by the wonderful country singer Miranda Lambert. When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on Friday, Aug. 25, Miranda was in Ireland. She got home to Nashville at 9 p.m. Monday night (Aug. 28) and was on an 11:30 a.m. American Airlines flight headed to Texas the next morning.

In Texas she met up with the rigs that Muttnation  had sent from their home base in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in three days she and Muttnation took 230 dogs, cats, and “other” domestic animals out of Houston shelters and drove them back to OK. This frees up local animal welfare resources so that they can deal with housing and re-homing flood victims’ lost pets.

These relocated animals will be adopted out in OK or sent to shelters elsewhere (near you?) in America…but either way, these dear cats and dogs and “others” are safe and will find forever homes.

You can read about the operation here.

Miranda Lambert. I don’t own, or know, a single one of her records, but she’s my kind of hero. She and Muttnation deserve my money.

To keep you interested in reading Part Two of my Harvey story (because aren’t we worn out from hearing about Harvey Harvey Harvey?), here’s a pic of Lickety’s butt in his new favorite spot on the dining room table:

Yes, I keep a paper cutter on my dining room table. I also use my dining room table as a laundry folding site, and when I made the mistake of leaving some towels unsupervised, Lickety laid claim to them.

I took these pix two weeks ago. He and the towels are still there.

Getting back to my godless philanthropy:

I also sent money to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. You can read about them here.

Donation to CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund $100.00
 
 
You have covered the transaction fee, so 100% of your donation goes to the organization. Thank you! $3.00
 
Total $103.00

I refuse to send money to The Red Cross.

My personal beef with the Red Cross started when Super Storm Sandy hit Long Island in 2012 and the Red Cross showed up in the most devastated area, called the Far Rockaways, with grocery store cookies and flash lights that didn’t have batteries, and you, Dear Readers, know how I hold grudges. But if you want a less Vivian reason for never giving money to the Red Cross, you can read this.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 6, the US House of Representatives voted for 7.9 billion in Hurricane Harvey aid. This bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to be confirmed by the end of the week. So let’s say that, all in all, relief for victims of the Harvey disaster will arrive about 15 days since the hurricane hit Texas. By comparison, when my neck of the woods was devastated by Super Storm Sandy in 2012, do you know how long it took for aid to be approved by Congress?

66 days.

SIXTY SIX DAYS.

The senior Senator from Texas, Fuck Face Cornyn.

The junior Senator from Texas, Fuck Face Cruz.

Thanks to the objections of Southern Republican “fiscal conservatives”,  led by the two senators from Texas Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, victims of Super Storm Sandy, people who were homeless, lost, hurt, broke, and suffering — people who happened to be New Yorkers who were, help me Jesus, Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and Democrats — had to wait over two months for relief.

So, yeah. I will send money to help those poor souls, animal and human, in and around Houston. Houston took in 250,000 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, more than any other city in Texas, and tens of thousands of Katrina survivors still live in Houston. That’s a lot of love. I have a lot of love for Houston. I do.

If you don’t think this is funny, find someone from New Orleans to explain it to you.

But the rest of Texas can still go fuck itself.

One last Harvey note:

Our friend from New Orleans, Karen — whose rose garden was one of the memorable and thought-provoking gardens that I wrote about in my book Gardens of Awe and Folly  says that if Harvey had veered east and hit NOLA instead of Houston, she (Karen) (a veteran of Hurricane Katrina) was prepared to evacuate herself, her cat, her dog, and the thousand bees in her backyard bee hive. In her car. Because that’s how they roll in the Crescent City.

As you read this, my sister, her husband, my mother, and their cats are evacuated from the west coast of Florida. They are holing up in a high-rise hotel inland, with three days supply of water, cross word puzzles, and Johnny Walker. (The cats are borderline alcoholics. Tiger is usually OK, in general; but Snowball is a mean drunk.) Hurricane Irma, as you probably know, is the biggest storm ever seen in the Atlantic Ocean and it is headed straight for the Sunshine State.

Speaking of beer, last Thursday was the final day of August and like you, Dear Readers, I waved My First Farewell to the Summer of ’17 with an appropriate refreshment. I viewed my final August sun set from — where else? — my yacht on the Long Island sound:

Actually I was on the totally empty deck of a waterside cafe on Manhasset Bay, but the view was just as splendid as if I’d been starboard on a 70-meter Fincantieri. Top Cat and I toasted the last day of August (me, Long Island Iced Tea; TC with a craft beer because he’s fancy) and then we moseyed out to the end of the dock.

Naming a boat poses a serious mental challenge.

I didn’t catch the name of this beautiful craft gliding upon the cool surface of high tide . . .

. . . but I’m pretty sure it was the S. S. Guppy:

Speaking of yachts, I feel stinking rich every time I open my back door and I see this:

It’s morning and this is the crew waiting to come in side the kitchen for breakfast. Notice how they have all turned away from me — they saw the camera and are being CATS. From left to right (starting with the Holstein) they are: Lickety, Bibs, Taffy, his mama Candy (wearing her Maryland colors), and that’s Dennis at the top, who lives next door and who shows up for breakfast every day. They are all house cats except in Summer, when they answer the call of the wild and spend 90% of their days and nights in the back yard.  But the minute it gets slightly chilly, they will all be back inside, napping their lives away.

On Labor Day I had a visitor to my back yard:

It’s a red-spotted purple admiral. I’ve never seen one before. It was a good omen that he showed up when he did, because an hour later Top Cat and I were on our way to a five-mile walk Labor Day/Second Farewell to the Sumer of ’17 in a nature reserve here on Long Island called Caumsett . . .

. . . which is very special because it is the only New York habitat of a very rare butterfly that I was hoping to see:

As Dear Reader Tucson Tana knows, this is Baltimore Checkerspot, the Maryland State Insect, which is very hard to distinguish from a player on the University of Maryland football team:

You’re so right, Tana. This college football team uniform is AWESOME.

Although I didn’t catch a glimpse of the rare and beautiful Checkerspot, I did catch sight of one of these:

I don’t know if this is a Monarch or a Viceroy butterfly, and I don’t want to eat one to be sure. (The Viceroy is OK to chow down on, but Monarch is toxic.)

Being that it’s the last three-day holiday of the season, we Americans think that Labor Day is the sentimental end of Summer, hence it’s #2 place on my roster of Summer Farewells. Summer holds such a huge place in my  psyche, and probably yours too, that it is the one season that deserves a real send off. That’s why I take my time in saying Good Bye to it. I always hope that each Summer will be contained in a very specific memory of achievement, dreams, changes, travel, etc…but not this year.

However, upon a path in yonder woods within the Isle of Long, Lo I think I found A Sign from the Universe that my Summer of ’17 hasn’t been as regretful and lackluster as I might be thinking:

A Blue Jay Feather, nature’s way of reminding you that the world is still a pretty wonderful place, if you keep your eyes open for miracles.

Top Cat and I sat above the beach at Caumsett and pondered the crashing waves coming in from the Long Island Sound. That’s only Connecticut in the distance, so it’s not like I got any Big Ideas inspired by the view.

But I’m getting there. Thinking Big is my mission in life. Spacious thoughts are my destiny.

We have two weeks until the official, calendrical end of Summer, at which time I will indeed wrap up the roses and thorns of ’17. In the meantime, when we were all talking about Thinking Big the other week I had a small echo of a memory of something I’d once read on the subject.

I looked it up. In June 1979 I copied these words from a book I had just read, called Henderson the Rain King (great title) by Saul Bellow. Bellow wrote it in 1959 and part of it is set in Africa, a place Bellow had never been. I rather liked it when I first read it, but then I went to Africa and I re-read it in Africa, and Bellow’s lack of first hand experience of Africans shows. Anyway.

This is for you, my fellow Big Thinkers:

They say, Think Big. Well, that’s just another business slogan. But greatness! That’s another thing all together! Oh, greatness! I don’t mean inflated, swollen, false greatness. I don’t mean pride or throwing your weight around. But the universe itself being put into us, it calls out for scope. The eternal is bonded into us. It calls out for its share. And I have to do something about it.

So that’s how we do it, Dear Readers.

Have a great weekend. You are all part of the Greatness. You all have the universe within you. You are stardust (in the most literal sense), you are golden.

 

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I adore the  State Flag of Maryland:

Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson DVM on Flikr

There are 50 states in the USA and this is the only one that has what I call style. The colors and shapes are so unexpected, so discordant, so difficult to pull off in that limited amount of space, yet it holds together like an epic poem reduced to haiku; like the way the weirdly plastic flavors of Cool Ranch Doritos pairs outstandingly well with an ice cold Grand Marnier margarita; like the way the audacious and sophisticated cord progressions in a Burt Bacharach song (like, in Alfie) take you by surprise and yet seem so right. Like that. I really, really love this flag.

Marylanders also have a State Cat, chosen on the same design principles and esthetic as their State Flag:

Right. The State Cat of Maryland is the Calico.

So, yeah, I’m fairly sure that by now you and me both think Maryland is pretty much our favorite state in the union. And now you can understand why a person of culture and taste might get a strong desire to visit Maryland and why last week I, being such a person, ventured off my Isle of Long and drove down to The Free State:

Once I rolled onto Maryland soil I kew I was south of the Mason-Dixon line because I followed this homeboy for about a mile, laughing all the way. It looked hugely funny, the way this Chevy seemed to be coming apart at the seems at approx. 60 miles per hour, bumper flapping in the breeze the way a bumper should never, ever, flap in the breeze.  Ha ha ha ha.

Well, I laughed about it until I pictured what would happen if the damn thing actually fell off (which I then hit, spin into on-coming traffic, and die) so I veered onto the nearest exit towards the reason for my visit to The Free State:

Marilyn: Note the sleeveless top. I’m 9 years away from proving to myself that I can achieve my new goal in life, which is wearing a sleeveless top with no shame when I’m 70.

You might remember how, several months back, on a cold late Winter day, a skinny, straggly, smelly, and sick stray cat wandered into my back yard, and how I couldn’t take him in because I needed to take in another cat like I need to take a joy ride over some Maryland guy’s Chevy bumper, but you might not know that a Dear Reader of this very blog saw the forlorn Mr. Fluffy here and decided this was a match made in Kitty Heaven.  So after Mr. Fluffy got his bill of health from the vet, we enacted some inter-state Cat Commerce and Mr. Fluffy was exported to Maryland, and this was the first time I got to visit a new and improved Mr. Fluffy in his forever home.

Mr Fluffy loves his forever people, and his forever people love him, and all this love has made Mr. Fluffy fat and beautiful. Just another reason why I LOVE Maryland.

Texas, however, can go fuck itself.

In the fiscal year 2011 – 2012 Texas — yes, TEXAS — received more federal disaster relief aid than any other state due to wildfires there in 2011.

And then in October 2012, Super Storm Sandy hit the East Coast of America, crippling the country’s most densely populated region with a 600-mile long swath of destruction.

So of course every Texas Republican in Congress (except for the guy from Houston, Rep. Joh Culbertson) voted against disaster relief aid for New York and New Jersey — that’s 20 in the House and both Senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

Republican claims that the Super Storm Sandy aid bill was loaded with pork-barrel spending have been proven false time and again. The Texas Republicans were just being dicks. They are being their usual greedy, self-righteous, white-supremist, anti-women, “Christian”, small-government-hypocritical dicks.

Jeff Sessions, currently Attorney General, was a Senator at the time and he also voted against Super Storm Sandy aid. His home state of Alabama is one of those Southern Republican states (inc. Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina) that sucks vast amounts of federal money out of Washington D.C., way more than what they put in, so that 34.9% of Alabama state spending comes from taxpayers who live thousands of miles away from that shit hole.

Republican lawmakers from Long Island (where I live) have reminded the Texans’ of their stand against Big Government in 2012 but have said that there will no hard feelings when it’s time for them to vote for Hurricane Harvey aid. Don’t worry, Texas, our New York and New Jersey federal tax dollars will go to help those poor people suffering in the wake of this terrible disaster. Yeah, yeah,yeah; it’s the right thing to do, we are all Americans together, etc.

That doesn’t mean that Texas . . . at least those parts that send Republican dicks to Washington . . .  can’t still go fuck itself.

Dear me, dear me. . . Is that kind of language unbecoming to a woman my age? Shouldn’t a lady of my mature years refrain from telling Texas to go fuck itself? Or is the fact that I can still get so riled up at smarmy-mouthed self-serving lying bastards a fabulous sign of vim and engagement with Things That Matter? (Spoiler alert: I think this opinion polled is rigged.)

Aging gracefully means something different these days than it used to mean.

This is what 58 Years Old looked like in 1954:

This is me at 61 Years Old in 2017:

I used this photo of me because all the 58-year old celebrities I found pix of have obviously had “work” done. And I happen to be wearing blue.

OK, OK; everybody looks awesome compared to Mamie Eisenhower (for those who don’t remember, Mamie was the wife of our 34th President, Dwight Eisenhower), but that was fun.

But the consensus from last week’s Comments was that the years 60 – 80 are, as experienced by our Dear Readers, can be a whole lot of fun, mostly because it’s the age at which one becomes more skilled at impropriety. Like Gigi said, every day is a once-in-a-lifetime galaxy event, through which we dance as if we have diamonds on the soles of our shoes whether they are Birkenstocks or Jimmy Choos.

Full disclosure. I tried on a pair of Birkenstock shoes once. They made me cry.

I’m agreed with Becky and Jeanie and Monique: the arts keep you from miles away from becoming the kid of old lady who yells at the TV all day.

Claude Monet, mourning the death of both his wife and his son and with his nation mired in the stalemate of slaughter that was World War I, responded to well-wishers on his 75th birthday with these words: “I am happy to let you know that I am more and more passionate about my work, and that my greatest pleasure is to paint and to enjoy nature.

His biographer Charles Merrill Mount wrote about Monet in his 70s: …that cagy resolute crank determinedly struck a defiant attitude. No one expected from him more than intermittent vitality…Instead he boldly embarked on the largest and most protracted work of his lifetime.

This is just one mural in the Grandes Decorations. There’s 7 more where this came from.

That’s what Monet did during the last years of his life: he painted the Grandes Decorations, the 8 murals that line the walls of a specially-built oval gallery in Paris. See? THINKING BIG can happen at any age.

I’ve had some Big Thoughts in my life. Going to Paris for the first time, when I was 19, that was a Big Thought, maybe the biggest one I ever had. 

The last Big Thought I had was  two years ago when I got Top Cat to go on a walk across England along Hadrian’s Wall with me. Well, on second thought, maybe that was just a Slightly Larger Than Average Thought; after all, all it took was money and time.  And we were certainly not the first, nor the oldest, nor the youngest, nor the fastest, to walk from Newcastle to Bowness.

A really Big Thought should take more personal, creative effort, don’t you think? Something that only You, and You Alone, could conceive and achieve?

I will think on this and report back.

In the meantime, this weekend in America we say Good-Bye to the Summer of ’17.

Labor Day — the first Monday in September —  signals the un-ofifcial (but heartfelt) end of Summer in the U S of A. One last True Summer day dream, one last True Summer sweet sorrow. Let us observe a moment of silence for What Might Have Been. (Oh,Summer, why do you burn so bright only to smolder into the most regretful season of the year?)

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone. May all your beverages and your thoughts be super-sized.

**The Maryland flag bears the arms of the Calvert and Crossland families. Calvert was the family name of the Lords Baltimore who founded Maryland, and their colors of gold and black appear in the first and fourth quarters of the flag.

Crossland was the family of the mother of George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore. The red and white Crossland colors, with a cross bottony, appear in the second and third quarters.

So now you know.

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