Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This Blog Has Moved

Dear friend and reader, or anyone else who may be visiting this blog: Thank you ever so much for checking in over here. I have a new website/blog, called "by her own lights" over at wordpress. Please visit me there, where you can:
  • Read new blog posts.
  • Check out my schedule of classes and events.
  • Peruse other services I offer (editing! mentoring! writing help of all kinds).
  • Follow me (if you follow me, I will follow you... just like Phil Collins says).
Again, the new site: http://lauradidyk.com. Hope to see you there! Laura

Thursday, September 15, 2011

30 Things I Love Right Now

...written by me, and brought to you by TJ Beitelman (cruise his site...it's awesome).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quiet Work

Today, I came across a comment from a July post that I'd missed. It's lovely (you can read it following my post "Taking It up a Notch"). I don't know who it's from but this sentence from it got me thinking and inspired me to write this post (in which I have no idea what I will say):

"Thanks for reminding me what lovely, quiet work it can be to stay away from the long slide down..."

That's almost more than I can ask for...being that reminder...in my life, my writing, my friendships, my teaching.

I have not yet published a book, or gotten out of debt, or had children, or fixed the dent in the side door of my Subaru, or had success in lasting love (tho M. is still picking berries for me, even if from afar). I will turn 40 in less than two months. I can't do lotus position anymore. My hips are bad. My employment situation is up in the air. When I write a paragraph like this with so many "I"s I worry I'm still overly consumed with my own problems.

Those are the things that can plague me on a bad day, a day I forget what it was like to live at the bottom of that long slide down. I forget how I clawed my way up and out (I thought *I* was doing it but I had more help than I ever thought I'd need). It doesn't seem necessary to say more than that.

Except maybe that it's the little things we start with that save our lives. For me, at one point, it was doing the dishes.

Today, it's taking walks.

I read this just an hour ago in an interview with poet Mark Doty:

"The inner life happens in the body and the body is always somewhere. For me, it's the vehicles the world provides, what Whitman called 'the dumb beautiful ministers' that allow us to see the soul."

My "dumb beautiful ministers" right now are my sneakers and the trees and the pots in my sink which last night sat one inside the other--the soapy water flowing over the sides of the smallest, and into the next and the next. A dumb beautiful fountain. Just dirty pots. In my sink.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Oh, the delays, the procrastinations, and the putting-offs!

Do you know how many blog posts I've written in my head over the past weeks?

Since my last post about going up Alander, I have walked, hiked, trespassed, sat in front of a waterfall, eaten more wild berries, made granola, taken more pictures of flowers, and taught three poetry classes.

I also got to experience a Great Barrington parade in honor of the town's 250th anniversary! And what a parade it was.

My pictures don't quite capture the full spirit of the event―how it felt to walk slowly down Main Street, floats and tractors and clubs of all shapes and sizes, and run into people I know (as much a part of parading as the parade itself). A year ago, it wouldn't have been so. Stopping here to talk to Joan. Stopping there to sit on a stoop with Sarah and watch the gymnasts front-walkover by. I got my first real sunburn of the season. Had a cold drink.

Good old-fashioned summer fun. (And all out right outside my door.)

Boys with rhythm:

Women with rhythm, and really pretty dresses:

A big man in a tiny car.(Who are the Shriners, anyway? And why do they drive around in miniature autos?)

A cool video of a cool-ass bike. Some kind of antique bike club...


The most rockin' float of the parade by our local samba enclave:

And, of course, you can't have a parade w/out Smoky:

So that was Great Barrington on July 10.

To come: More pictures of flowers. Because I can't stop.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Taking It up a Notch

So today my friend M. took me up Alander Mountain. 6 miles round trip. A good percentage of the tract is uphill and good percentage of that tract is *steep* and uphill.

Today was also hot and humid. And the trail was still damp from the last rains we had so it was buggy. I also felt a hot-spot forming on my heel (underneath the moleskin I'd applied before the hike). Joy!

Then we got to the peak. The reward. Panoramic views of NY, MA, and CT all in one shot.

The next reward?: A really good avocado. Then an orange. Then half a Cliff Bar. And some half-melted dark chocolate. Then water, water, water. Then...M., a berry expert, picked me a handful of wild blueberries, tiny and sweet. And I ate them two at a time staring out at the Catskills.

After the descent, a big and healthy lunch. A good day all in all. I feel tired and worked in the best way possible. If I hadn't been taking my walks the past 6 weeks, I'd have suffered going up that hill. As it was, I was challenged, but not embarrassed. :)

My legs felt strong. And my body able.

Nothing else inspiring to say today. The pictures tell the tale.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Graffiti & Gratitude

When I take the Castle Hill route, I have to walk under the train tracks, through a little tunnel, and up a set of stairs.

This morning, with the light and my mood, the coolness in the air (54 degrees and the first day of July!), I spent a little time with the graffiti in the tunnel. It's a mix of once polished mural and gritty Great Barrington teen scrawl (despite what some may think about Great Barrington, it does have grit...it just takes a minute to see it):

This one is a good directive for this new life of mine that includes walks:

(In gold spray paint on a rusted-out banister: free your inner [couch] potato. Easier to listen to this way, an affirmation with edge.)

This one, tho, is my absolute favorite. I think it's brilliant. I love most the little monster-alien's left chicken-scratch hand:

Then I came up and out of the tunnel and found this:

And this:

And this one I took special for you, my favorite big old tree:

On today's stroll, I also ran into a friend who stopped and talked with me, while her car idled. While we were talking a big-ass utility truck slowed near us, looking for a downed power line. I knew just the one he meant (I thought) and pointed him in the right (wrong) direction. He eventually found his sister truck just up the block from where my friend and I were having our spontaneous morning meet-up.

Once my friend drove away, I got to walk past the utility mania and interact with the burly dude from National Grid. I apologized for leading him astray. He said it was okay. He smiled. And was chewing gum. And adjusted his hard hat. He said they needed to know about that other one too (at the bottom of Castle Street, at the top of the stairs that lead back down to the tunnel). It's outside of a house that no one seems to inhabit. It's been there for weeks: a big branch pinning down a gather of wires and cables.

I am now delighting (that word again) in the fact that I live in a place where I can run into someone I know, who stops their car to say good morning. And talk to a friendly and appropriately macho telephone worker man.

I've lived other places like this. But not for a very long time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Morning Fog

Whenever I wake to fog, I always think of Carmel Valley, California, where I grew up (pictured here) like Great Barrington was at 7:00 this morning. On my walk, the fog-shrouded hills looked like thoughts that had not yet come to the fore. Back there somewhere, getting ready.

So. My walks. I'm doing them. I'm still, some mornings, forcing myself out of my apartment (when I get enough sleep, I'm usually more eager) to get my sneakers on. I'm still in awe of early morning and the fact that I'm out in them walking around. I promised myself 4 times a week, and I've not made bad on that promise yet.

Some things:
The birds delight. Every morning. Boisterous and busy and constantly distracted.
My legs are getting stronger.
I don't get as out of breath when I walk up Castle Hill Rd.
I'm always, always glad that I went.

There are more things I want to do to make way for more delight:

*Like turn my computer off MUCH EARLIER at night, and get more sleep, and hence increase my walking eagerness first thing. (I need an RA, like in a dorm, to enforce quiet hours!)

*Give myself more time for reading (I'm embarrassed to tell you how long it's taking me to get through the last third of Carver: A Writer's Life, and it's one of the better biographies I've read).

*More poetry. Always more poetry. My own, and others.

On that note, take a listen to this poem from one of my current favorite poets (tho he's been around a long time, I've just only discovered him), reading one of my favorites (it's hard to get out of your head afterward: "...a grain and an inch, a grain and an inch and a half.."):

"When You're Lost in Juarez in the Rain and It's Eastertime Too" by Charles Wright