Jilly D.

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Home is here in the Finger Lakes

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2012 at 12:11 am

Austin, Texas, is a great city but I’m so glad to be home. And the dogs are glad I’m home, too.

In this month of March I’ve put points on my new Sky Miles account. The last trip I took on an airplane was 1994. Took the train once from Syracuse to St. Paul to celebrate the Ice Carnival in Minnesota in 2004. I can’t recommend it as a winter getaway if what you want to getaway from is the cold weather of upstate New York. Haven’t seen much of the country, besides my the rolling hills of home terrain, in decades.

For the most part, I’m not impressed. Sprawling strip malls and highways span the landscape for miles in every direction. Regional franchises for restaurants, groceries, drive-thru chains and food malls make every meal on the road seem the same; hotel franchises make every room the same; every neighborhood where old friends live seem neighborless. From Wisconsin south to Texas and northeast to New York, I fell in love again with this special place here in the Finger Lakes. It’s not just one spot. It’s a community, a sense of home where you have history and connectedness to the lives of others who share this sense of place.

I can’t really get comfortable or sleep right when I’m away from home. Interesting I discover this now. I had myself convinced it was because I didn’t want to leave Sam’s side for more than a decade. This trip I knew Sam wasn’t at home waiting for me anymore, but I still wanted to “go home.”

Finding that place, more a space in your consciousness than a physical location, can be a lifelong pursuit for some people. I found that place early in my life. It’s where I feel comfortable in my own skin being myself. It’s also the zone where I can do my best work. At home at my own desk.

So it’s interesting for me at this age to see how difficult it is to write on the road. I’m a homebody writer. Whose inspiration is grounded here in the Finger Lakes.

Travel is exhausting. Sleep is medicine.


Two-stepping to Austin SXSW

In Friends, New beginnings on March 7, 2012 at 2:45 am

It’s been longer than I dare confess online since I traveled. South by Southwest is an opportunity to soak up new ideas. New ideas beget new books and immersing myself for ten days in a community of thought leaders seems pure luxury at the same time a smart investment of my time.

You can always make more money but you cannot make more time. That was Sam’s mantra. Time is so precious and deciding how to spend it wisely takes nearly one’s entire lifetime to figure out and act upon it. Each in their own way, in their own season. For me, without Sam, it’s about the love of books. So…

Now I skip off to the Interactiv sessions of SXSW and forego billing hours consulting, editing, running workshops or custom tutorials. There are a few urgent client/author projects I’m glad will keep me grounded in practice these next 10 days. It’s so easy to be swept off into theory space. This is why I so loved graduate school and didn’t entirely feel ready to take flight as a fledging Ph.D. There were still classes to be taken. Still improvements in my writing to be made.

I learned to fly, leave the nest, and migrate with my own flock and change flocks in accordance to weather conditions. Then this old hen took roost and set in her ways. For a long time and learned to live by the moon and stars, sun and wind.

It’s the full moon and the molt is over. Spring without a rooster still brings forth those Easter eggs. Now I’m going to allow myself to get penned into a tight cage of some small aircraft and sent south for the sunshine and warmer temps.

Let it snow here while I’m gone and even blizzard in my absence. When I come home there will be daffodils popping their green stems out and I’ll share my photographs of the Texas blue bonnets in bloom.

Looking forward to Austin. The last time I visited was the first time I met Ruth, senior editor for Swenson Book Development, LLC. Twenty years ago. Suddenly I feel a lot older. Hopefully, wiser.

I watched the video Adam Ellick made that appeared on the New York Times blog so many times I may have broken the link the same way Sam wore out several copies of DVDs with his favorite flicks. Hundreds and hundreds of times I hated that it didn’t capture who he was. Then I kept hearing his voice say one thing over and over again. Because I lived the way we did and experienced life the way we did I can go back into this world and survive. I needed to hear it over and over again. I still need to hear it.

Most of the people in the world are not connected to the internet. They aren’t even connected to potable water or safe foodstreams. People in the first world are unable to produce more than they consume. They are asked to produce personal debt that can be bought and sold by fatcats whose goldplated compensation packages allow them to walk away making money betting against you being able to pay off the balance. They win either way and for working hard and doing the right thing you lose. That system is broken. Time for new ideas and solutions to real problems in our nation and economy.

Sam knew the scam and didn’t need a Ph.D. to recognize what was going on with the American economy [and environmental practices]. He had lots of ideas that I now see so many others adopting in piece or parcel of his larger vision. Our larger vision of  a world that is changed by ideas. Like Thoreau who begged for the seed of an idea because it promised a bountiful harvest, so now I open myself to the germination of sustainable ideas that change the world. Awesome, Sam.


Those 70s Memories of Wisconsin: F**k Scott Walker

In Friends, Pictures and memories on March 5, 2012 at 3:44 am

I never got into watching the situation comedy of life in the 70s in Wisconsin, because I’d largely lived it and it wasn’t pretty. Streetscapes and soundtracks of those days haunted me this past week when I returned to the Badger State. Things are not the same.

Neenah sits along the Fox River and Lake Winnebago; the names of the streets and the curves in the roads are the same but the stores and scale of small town life have changed. The interior sense of place remains precious as reality pales. Retail sprawl crowds out the empty lot where the first Mars drive-thru served fast-food breakfast. The commercials demonstrated the convenience of drive-thru fast-food breakfast and inspired me and Sharon and Sandy and Joni to wear our flannels to the Mars on Richmond Street early one Saturday back in 1975.

Neenah is next to Menasha. Step-sister cities. One of the first years of the Otto Grunsky bike races, in the late 1970s, my friends Beth and Amy and I attended with Beth’s new boyfriend Geoff as the designated driver. They served corn on the cob you dipped in a vat of real butter. Amy polka danced with an intoxicated man wearing a Morris the Cat t-shirt spread thin across his polish beer belly. We all danced until we dropped from too much fun.

Madison is a city I first visited with Sharon Schwab senior year as we considered colleges. She introduced me to freshly baked bagels and a jewish housing and food cooperative in the heart of campus that altered my view of what higher education might mean.  Beth and I drove down to rent rollerskates and take to the streets for a day of sightseeing before I started college at Lawrence University.

I discovered the Ovens of Brittany had the best sticky buns from my best friend, Amy Anderson. One time I came to visit her in Appleton and she’d just returned home from a trip to Madison where she’d bought one for herself and had put it in the fridge hidden inside a bag. I woke up in the middle of the night starving and devoured that sticky bun when I discovered it. I’ve spent most of the rest of my life in search of the same delicious taste sensation. Amy about killed me the next morning when she discovered the empty bag. Them sticky buns are worth killing someone over. Really. Butter. Brown sugar, cinamon, vanilla, sweet rising wheat dough. To die for.

Bakery. You betcha. In Wisconsin, bakery goods are a way of life. Sure, I’d love a cup of coffee, if you’ve got something to go with it.Old times. I enjoyed remembering the way things used to be, but didn’t care much for how things were today. Appleton has a prison downtown and generates revenues by taking inmates from Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere. Their families move into an old neighborhood where the homes have all been subdivided into tenement apartments.

On Friday I walked the Lakeside neighborhood of Madison with Amy and found this wonderful remnant of that 70s spirit. Scott Walker Douche poster