Dunga Brook Diary

The rural life through the lens of an iPhone and notes from the field…

Archive for About A Boy

Tuesday, A Boy Adrift and a Quiver of Dylan Thomas

Tuesday,  A Boy In Water and a Quote from

“My tears are like the quiet drift of petals from some magic rose; and all my grief flows from the rift of unremembered skies and snows. I think that if I touched the earth, it would crumble; it is so sad and beautiful, so tremulously like a dream.”
― Dylan Thomas

Dunga brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently

Dunga brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently

April 6th at 5pm, opening reception at Cherry Branch Gallery, Cherry Valley, NY.

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
~Ansel Adams

Leaving LA after 25 years felt like the right thing to do. LA was a pit stop, a very complicated, very expensive pit stop on my journey through life.

On the road from LA to NY, I followed my son in his truck and took iPhone photos through my truck’s windshield. Mostly of his tail lights.

I’m an old hand at leaving. But this cross-country move was different, I was uprooting someone else’s life.

Connor was off to college in the fall and somehow I’d justified it in my mind that moving the day after he graduated from HS in LA would be the best timing for both of us.

I didn’t cry during our going away party, I didn’t cry as we packed, when we drove away, as the hours and the miles across the deserts and mountains ticked by.

Across the plains, the skies were a cathedral of thunderheads, rainbows that went straight up and down, lightning that streaked sideways.

I took photos through my truck window of those things, too.

We landed in central New York to renovate an 1820’s farmhouse that I’d bought, sight unseen, from a post of Facebook.

As my new life began to take shape in the summer before Connor left for university, I took photographs of everything.

By the time the old house was renovated, Connor was at school and I had taken well over 20,000 photographs.

And I had carpal tunnel from uploading and editing all those photos but I couldn’t stop- the beauty of the land surrounding me was astounding.

I cried at night because my arm hurt so bad but the tears were different from the tears that I cried as I followed his red tail lights into those storms, heading east.

Those were tears of joy, realizing what a fine young man he had turned into, a brave soul, ready for adventure, a young man who faced the open road with open mind and heart.

My show at the Cherry Branch Gallery is a celebration of central New York and the life one can find in the middle of letting go.

Monday coffee and a sugar cube laced with Thurber

connor, diner, mother, window

Boys are beyond the range of anyone’s sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of 18 months and 90 years. ~James Thurber

Summer 2011.  Tally Ho, the local diner and a pic of Connor as he studied the daily special.

The sun was on my back, it was early enough that the birds were still singing in the trees. I stood transfixed. My heart like a weight.

We’d spent a glorious green and blue summer in central New York after moving from brown and beige LA. We were days before Connor was to leave for college in the midwest .

I’d gone back to the car to find my credit card. I don’t know how long I stood there, all I know is this is my iPhone photo.

How to get a 19 year old on a plane…and a dip of the pen from Dorothy Parker

How to get a 19 year old on a plane...and a dip of the pen from Dorothy Parker

“The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires. ~Dorothy Parker”

How to get a 19 year old on a plane-

2 months in advance- research best price spring break ticket STL to ALB, double-check dates, click & purchase, email itinerary to 19 yo.

1 week in advance- call 19 yo and express pleasure at imminent arrival, get back confusion, recheck dates together, discover ticket is booked for on month prior to spring break, curse, hang up, re-book.

5 days prior to corrected departure- call and remind 19 yo of imminent arrival, get back confusion, ask teen to please read their gd email and make their own arrangements to STL airport 2 hours away.

3 days before departure- discover 19 yo hasn’t reviewed itinerary.

2 days before departure- 19 yo drops that new/old diesel truck, for which they traded the reliable old standard truck you purchased, needs an electrical outlet at STL airport in order to start upon return. advise 19 yo to find an alternative ride to STL airport.

1 day before departure- 19 drops that no alternative to STL found, drop $170 one way on local shuttle, QCY to STL.

4 hours before shuttle departure- 1 am phone call with 19 yo on the line, he’s found a free ride (with some 19 yo who already went to the STL airport and was rejected and will be returning 2 hours before your own 19 yo’s flight) tell 19 yo to call shuttle and if they will cancel without charge, then maybe. 19 yo calls back to inform of cancelled shuttle.

3 hours before departure- 2 am phone call from 19 yo stating the other 19 yo isn’t flying out of STL after all, and shuttle shut him down when he called, wait on phone while 19 yo books his own commuter flight from QCY to STL.

40 minutes before QCY to STL departure- 7 am phone call from 19 yo, in this call he confesses to discovering diesel truck wouldn’t start even with a plug-in causing the begging a ride from a near stranger to get to QCY airport (6am his time).

35 minutes before STL departure- 19 yo boards local commuter flight in QCY scheduled to arrive in STL 30 minutes before scheduled flight to ALB (via TMP).

departure departure- 9 am phone call from very weary 19 yo who confirms he is in fact in STL and on the proper re-scheduled flight to ALB, arrival 3:55 pm est.

congratulate 19yo on job well done, dream of going back to sleep.

Dunga Brook? That old farmhouse tale begins with a Facebook post.

An excerpt from Dunga Brook Diary

Dunga Brook in February

Dunga Brook in February

Dunga Brook Diary, Spring 2011

I’m sitting on my couch with the mac on my lap. Through the ripped screen door I hear the Saturday street sounds of my relatively quiet Pacific Palisades neighborhood, random bird calls, cars wooshing by, a skateboarder practicing, dogs barking in back yards looking for a way back in.

I am looking for a way out. Of LA. For months now. Years really. But especially now in the spring of 2011 because in June Connor is actually going to graduate from Pali High.

Somehow, he is pulling it off. Good for him, he did it in a most impressive underdog coming from the back of the pack way and, to top it off, he wrote a letter of introduction to the ONE college he wanted to go to that was so convincing they ignored his academic past and welcomed him into the fold.

So, here I am in a land that I don’t love (limitless sunshine, relentless fruits and nuts, dead-end career, ridiculously high cost of living, negligible love life, friends with their own lives to dig out from, etc, etc).

Here I am in my rented cottage with the ripped screen door, the missing shutters (I had to pull them down when they went sideways and dropped slats after the last El Nino), the crumbling tar paper roof and plaster facade.

Here I am surrounded by McMansions where other little cottages stood but have since been demolished in the past 15 years I’ve lived here.

Here I am facing life without Connor in a place I have been dying to get out of since the day I moved here 25 years ago when Tim posts a picture of a little white farmhouse and the caption, “Who wants to be my neighbor?”

I don’t know Tim all that well. He is a 20 liner (20 liners is the online poetry group I started with other *Jack Grapes alumni) and we’ve done a few readings together. I met him in Jack’s Method Writing class.

Tim is dark and broody, like Brooklyn used to be. A memorable writer, he’d stand like a broken fighter and mumble his assignments in front of the adoring, mostly middle-aged, mostly female, class while scratching his belly (somehow always visible), looking like he just rolled out of bed at 5pm. Hot.

Tim moved back to Brooklyn years before and I’d followed his journeys through FB posts and through his 20 liner poems. We all spilled our guts elliptically through our 20 liner poems so I knew a lot about Tim and his proclivities, just as I had to assume he knew much about me and mine.

After LA, he went to South America where he bought a nag and lived like a gaucho for a while, then he came back and bought a farm with 9 acres in central New York.

I eat up his posts of pictures of the farm still under snow in late spring, of his vegetables in late summer, of his rusted out farm equipment, all year round.

I look at that little white farmhouse that Tim has posted and it takes me about 3.5 seconds to post back, “ME”.

I don’t think “Where is it?” or “Will I like it?”

This is what I have been waiting for– this little white farmhouse in the middle of who knows where is my ticket out of LA.

..click on https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2741858938116.2133629.1006731279&type=1&l=0abb6dd66b to see my FB gallery of Dunga Brook before and after

..check back to see the story unfold, forgive misspellings, weird phraseology, wrong tenses, confusing thinking…one dreams of an editor to fall from the heavens whose sole purpose in life is to iron all of that out, doesn’t one?

(*Jack Grapes of Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective. I met Jack at his booth at The Los Angeles Festival of Books, I knew right then that I had to study with this jolly man in the shape of a grape with the leonine head of Walt Whitman- sans the full beard and long hair. BEST DECISION EVER. He changed my life. More on Jack later, he deserves his own post, but if you have the chance to study with him, it will, as he says, change your life. http://jackgrapes.com)

Dunga Brook

Dunga Brook

Good Morning, CNY! Before the storm.

Because I lived in LA, where the slightest rainfall created pandemonium (for the news team!), I am familiar with dealing with disaster before disaster befalls and so this megastorm of the century that hasn’t arrived and has already cancelled thousands of flights on the east coast feels very familiar.

So, I find myself tuning into KTLA-5 in LA, their live feed. There’s my news crew chatting up LA things, a rodeo, a cop killer, a soul sucking pile up on the 15, and I think to myself…self, you are NOT missing LA. That is NOT what is happening. It started this morning with Nick Hornby posting news about his book About A Boy becoming a TV show that Jason Katims is developing. Jason Katims my next door neighbor in Pacific Palisades. Jason Katims, the sweet, quiet hulk of a man who lived next to me in LA. LA. LA.

I lived next to one of the most successful show runners of the decade for years and years and years and barely said “hi” to him in Starbucks. Yes, I did for a hot LA second fantasize that he’d leave his lovely wife and walk next door to my shabby cottage and take care of me for awhile…but this was a short lived stage as I looked myself in the mirror over the toothbrush in the morning and said, get the fuck OVER stealing your neighbor’s husband who doesn’t even know you are alive and isn’t writing Parenthood with you as a muse you pathetic dumb ASS.

Anyway, Jason is still hugely successful and I am still single but now I’m writing a book in my head (Dunga Brook Diary) that needs to be a television show that he runs and yeah, you get it…still delusional.

So, this is a picture of Dunga Brook, what she looks like BEFORE THE MEGASTORM. Hopefully, this is what she will look like during and after, too. If the east coast news casters are anything like the west coast news casters…we will be just fine. And yes, that is a relative term.

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