Josephine Shaw Lowell, or Sometimes it’s Hard to Find Good Guys

September 3rd, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

I’ve been researching Josephine Shaw Lowell, who served on the New York State Board of Charities and was involved in charity and correction reform in the 19th century. But like everyone else I’ve been looking into, she comes off heartless at times, and that is an understatement. Other times, and especially later, it’s clear she wasn’t.

I’m told I should look at people in the context of their times, and I do. But some things are so wrong, and so horrible, that even in times when they are acceptable there were people who could still see it’s wrong. All throughout America’s slavery period for instance, there were those who were crying out WTF?? This is evil.

Josephine Shaw Lowell, she seems to be more in the middle. I can at least see what she was thinking when she was being harsh, and that will help me write about her. And her thinking evolved as time went on. Amazing, and sad, how rare that is.

This is the fountain in Bryant Park, behind the main branch of the New York Public Library, that’s dedicated to her. “Sincere Candid Courageous and Tender,” it reads, among other things. There were not a lot of things being dedicated to women in those days, and this one is so effusive. She must have been quite a woman.

This Fountain Commemorates
The Strong and Beautiful Character Of
Josephine Shaw Lowell
Wife For One Year of a Patriot Soldier
Widow at Twenty One
Servant of New York State and City
In Their Public Charities
Sincere Candid Courageous and Tender
Bringing Help and Hope to the Fainting
And Inspiring Others to Consecrated Labors

This is the fountain.

Josephine Shaw Lowell

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Vanderbilt Museum

September 1st, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I visited the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, LI recently, a beloved museum from my childhood. The exhibits are actually not too interesting for a child. In fact, I even remembered them as dusty, old drawers full of rocks, and animal specimens pinned to the wall. But for some reason I was and continue to be drawn to the place, there is something romantic about it, something that makes me want to be there. (Oh God, I just had a “I have always been the caretaker” flash of feeling about it.)

They also have a planetarium and I could NEVER get enough of that. I think they had a meteorite that I’d stare and stare at. This has been in space.

The exhibits are better than I remembered them. I can see how a child thought they were boring, but now I see their 19th century beauty (see here), although they were actually built in the early 20th century. But because it’s me I was sad for all the creatures that had to die to make them.

It got worse upstairs. Someone killed that little baby in the lower right. Who could do that?? Who could look at that little thing and kill it?? It’s not clear to me if William K. Vanderbilt II was the hunter, or his son William K. Vanderbilt III. I wish the crocodile in the next shot had got him.

Vanderbilt Museum, Long Island

Vanderbilt Museum, Long Island

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What do you do on your smartphone?

August 31st, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

I got an iPhone last year, I’m one of the last people to get one, I know, but I had to watch my pennies! I love it for the things I use it for, calls, texting, and copying documents for my book. But I don’t use it a lot as I see everyone else in the world doing. Everyone else is completely focused on their smartphones.

So from time to time I look over to see what is so mesmerizing. I can understanding how texting and communicating with others can be, or if you are looking something up on google. But often when I look over people are just playing a game.

That can’t be it. There must be others things people are using their phones for, and I’m just missing it when I happen to look over.

So my question is, what are you using the most on your smartphone?

Another picture from the memorial for Carolyn Kaelin. I took this during the fireworks display.

Fireworks at Carolyn Kaelin Memorial

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Carolyn Kaelin: A Celebration of a Life Well Lived

August 29th, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The memorial for Carolyn Kaelin was one of the most astounding memorials I have ever been to. I got there late (thank you very much unnamed bus company) but of the people I heard, of course her husband, my cousin Bill Kaelin, was the most moving. The stories he told!

My absolute favorite of the stories he told was this, and I forget all the exact details except the important ones: she was invited to give a speech celebrating Laura Bush at some event. The speech she wrote focusing on Laura Bush’s contributions to education had to be submitted to the White House. They rewrote it, exaggerating other accomplishments entirely, to the point where Carolyn felt uncomfortable. So when she took the podium, with Laura Bush in attendance and surrounded by Secret Service agents, Carolyn dropped the White House prepared speech to the ground and pulled out her own original speech from her jacket pocket and gave that one.

Well played, Carolyn Kaelin, well played.

It is so like my cousin to not be crushed, and it must have been true of Carolyn as well, because afterwards we all went to Fenway Park, where, in addition to feeling the poignancy of the loss, I also had fun, God help me. But I think that was part of the point.

Carolyn Kaelin Memorial Fenway Park

All the bases were replaced with base-shaped flowers (home base was in the shape of a heart).

Carolyn Kaelin Memorial Fenway Park

There were signs around the field.

Carolyn Kaelin Memorial Fenway Park

They played Sweet Caroline and we sang along while pictures of Carolyn flashed on the jumbotron. There was a fireworks display to the music of Rocky Mountain High. Carolyn loved Colorado, and John Denver apparently. Bill wasn’t a John Denver fan though, so this was a sweet, final concession to Carolyn’s radio station choices.

This is Bill addressing the crowd, which was enormous. This was about half of it. Carolyn saved and touched a lot of lives.

Carolyn Kaelin Memorial Fenway Park

Afterwards we were allowed to walk around the field.

Carolyn Kaelin Memorial Fenway Park

This is me in the Red Sox dugout. Holy shit!! My butt is on the same bench that once held the butts of Yaz Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Freddy Lynn, and Jerry Remy (showing my age, but those were the years I lived in Boston, and I was there in 1978, says it all to Red Sox fans).

Carolyn Kaelin Memorial Fenway Park

Goodnight sweet Carolyn. Thank you for making the world a better place. And for being such a badass.

Carolyn Kaelin Memorial Fenway Park

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Cat Pods

August 28th, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I think Finney would love one of these, to have a place where Bleecker couldn’t bug him. Except I think I’d need to buy him stairs to get up into it, which might defeat the purpose.


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