Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary
My Loves

Vincent Murphy

Central New York

Central New York


Come On!


I miss my Missy

Better Days

Better Days
they'll come again

Alicia Vida Billman

Alicia Vida Billman
is 29 today

This says it all!

This says it all!
Friday noon, you're coming home with me Vinny.

Vincent Murphy?

Vincent Murphy?

Tuesday nights

Tuesday nights
are gonna change in May

Mr. Murphy

Mr. Murphy
waiting for his haircut

When I get bored

When I get bored
I take pictures of myself in bathrooms

Graphic Boulevard

Graphic Boulevard
blown transformers and a tree

Cars in Bergenfield

Cars in Bergenfield
didn't do well

House on Queen St

House on Queen St
with a for sale sign in front of it


Storm 2010

Vincent Murphy

Vincent Murphy
and his look alike Bob Murphy

Off my back porch

Off my back porch
Don't worry I didn't take this pic while falling

Down Kellogg Street

Down Kellogg Street

Up Kellogg Street

Up Kellogg Street

My house, our cars

My house, our cars

Winter 2010

Winter 2010


I want summer back!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cash Crops and Other Things

Clark asked about cash crops, in part I think because he's from a place where the farms are big and profitable (for the most part). Where I live there are few large farms and few wealthy farmers. Central New York has farms; don't get me wrong. They tend to be small, don't use irrigation like Idaho farms (after all it rains here), and sometimes the people who own them are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. There are largish farms (not large by Idaho standards, Clark) that sell to processors, but a lot of farms around here are farm stand/farmers' market sellers. As a matter of fact, upstate New York in general (that means anything north of Yonkers to some people) is becoming home to organic farms, artisan cheese makers and growers of organic meat. So Clark, that's what they grow here.

Clark asked too about retail items, and well, that's a tough one. I assume he didn't just mean what do people buy here but more what do we sell here that we're known for. Since this used to be the place where Oneida silver was made, if I were writing this post 50 years ago I'd say "Oneida silver". Or since Revere Ware was made here until relatively recently, were I writing this ten years ago I could've said that. But the days of upstate being a hub of manufactured goods are gone, with some notable exceptions.Remington Arms is still in Illion NY, and as far as I know Daimler Chrysler Commercial Buses of North America, Inc.still makes buses in Oriskany.

Mostly though, manufacturing is gone and old mill and factory sites are empty or transformed into restaurants, apartment buildings, gyms, and a few other things. Sad are the ones that sit completely abandoned. I never thought I'd say that such buildings can be beautiful, but they really are. Better to see them put to some use.

So manufacturing is gone, farms are small and not always profitable, but hey, at least it's not Detroit. Oh wait, I already said we've lost more people than Detroit. Somebody out there who's local and/or likes riggies should tell Clark about the food we're known for. C'mon peple; it's dialogue time. Somebody at least tell him about Utica Club.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Two Pet Household

Anybody who knows me knows I used to have a two pet house before the lovely and loyal Missy died. It was fun. I was nervous at first, and every time Missy looked at Vincent crooked I was there with that tone saying "Missy, that's our kitty; be nice" and other inane things. When I first got Vincent I left him upstairs behind a closed door when I went to work. It took me awhile to let the two of them have the house to themselves. Now I wish I'd gotten a video camera and set it up to record what they did while I was at work. Too late for that though. Missy's gone. It's a one pet household.

But not when Vincent and I come to Daryl's house for a few days. Then it's a two pet household, but the two cats are separated by a screen propped up in the doorway of the extra bedroom. Vincent's inside; Sophie's got the rest of the house from which to observe him. She used to hiss and growl and be so agitated I'd be afraid to walk past her when she was out in the hallway. She'd be hunkered down, looking under the crack in the door when it was closed, occasionally putting a tiny but aggressive paw under the crack in the doorway to give a swipe. Once Vincent pushed a toy out in response. He's a lover, not a fighter.

And neither is Miss Sophie. She's a sweet, good nature, and beautiful little girl. Formerly named Charmin, she came from the Rome Humane Society and is the love of Daryl's life, justifiably so, she gives him less agita than I do. I still remember holding her in my lap when he went to get cat supplies the first day he had her. I told her it would be okay and that she would have the best life, better even than the barn they'd found her in. Now it's all these years later, and I'm bringing this big fluffy dude into her house! Maybe it pisses her off that he came from her rival human society, Stevens-Swan.

The thing is, they're both so sweet and I love them so much. But they're killing me. When they're together they produce so many pheromones from their heightened agitation. It's spring too (at least on the fur shedding calendar). Don't get me wrong. Sophie's agitation was pretty mild this visit, and Vincent never seems agitated. That is, until 4:00 in the morning. In the wees hours of the morning yesterday, he decided it was time to "tear down that wall" and thumped and scratched at the screen keeping him in his room, the room full of cat x's 2 because Sophie sleeps in there. I went in and hung out with him. We watched tv together on my computer. It had taken two allergy pills and a hit from an old inhaler to get me able to sleep, and in the wee hours of the morning as I held that purring fluffball I wheezed and sneezed and wipe my nose and thought about the future.

I thought about the life ahead of me with these two lovely creatures. They will run around the house and maybe even sleep together. Older woman, younger man. It happens.

I thought about how much good we do when we give these wonderful creatures a good home.

I thought about the pets that I've had and how each one of them (from rabbit to dog) helped me become the person I am.

I thought about Missy and how much my father loved her and love napping with her.

I thought about how right it is for all of us to give pets who live in cages good homes.

I thought about allergy shots.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rust Belt Livin'

I just read in the New York Times that Detroit is facing a 25% decrease in population. After attending the Levin Institute talk at SUNYIT the other night, I had to chuckle when I read this statistic. Upstate New York has lost population listed at, well, let's say more than 25%. We have no industry anymore, and we're on the cusp of joining the 21st century of manufacturing. We have an older population and statisticians point out that while people get "educated" here at the many institutions of higher learning, they then leave, often. We don't have high speed rail and so are not efficiently connected to the rest of the state and the region. All in all, the picture seems a little bleak, that is until you stop and think about all of the good things here.

So let's do it. I'll start.

The people here in central New York (technically I suppose it's all "upstate" to everyone else, but we here make the distinction) are nice. They're not dumb or conventional or provincial (well, some are). They're smart and savvy and they possess an underdog mentality that I respond to. They're friendly but not "in your face" friendly. I like them.

Okay, if you read my blog and you're from this area (Justin) step up to the plate. What do you like about central New York? If you're not from the area, ask me a question about where I live (Clark, are you there?) and I'll find out the answer.

Let's do it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Isn't Life Funny?

Today I have something on my mind. It's a big deal, and its outcome could change things for me. Oooooooooo, am I being cryptic enough? Well that's how we have to be sometimes when things weigh heavy and are unresolved. Don't worry, this "thing" will be resolved soon. My point is that even though I'm a bit jangly with apprehension and probably smell like fear, Vincent doesn't care. He wants to cuddle, doesn't give a crap about me having something on my mind, and that's a good thing. He knows (maybe he doesn't know; cats are not supposed to understand time) only that I've been waking him up these last few mornings. How do you like them apples, Mr. Supercat?
Wish me luck, even if you don't know why you're doing it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I Wrote This

and yes it's a rough draft, but I'm happy to be writing again. So read it, will ya?

Bird Watching In Central New York

Is when I get out my binoculars
To zoom in on a cardinal
Eating in a snowless patch
In my backyard, small dart,
Red and determined to graze.
He’s gone in an instant.
It’s March; when the hell
Will the birds come back?

Is when I put on my facebook page
Patricia Murphy + binoculars = your thoughts?
My friends respond: birdwatcher, sniper,
Paranoid. I don’t get the last one.

It’s the butt crack of dawn, and
I am looking for deer, moving
Through my yard and back to the woods,
Silent and graceful like small ships,
But I see none.
I imagine seeing someone at the edge
Of my property looking at me, or worse,
Looking at me through binoculars.

The yard is less snow, more grass now.
I am reinventing myself with spring
Into a birdwatcher, deer watcher, crocheter
Of long and apparently endless chains
Because I cannot turn and stitch.
I am calming myself with tasks that
Require patience.

I have thrown my chain in the bedside table
And twice across the room. I’ve cut two
Lengths for the cat to play with. The scarf
I predicted would be soothing and a gift
For my love should be done by July, if ever.

There is danger in promising gifts
That signify creation, that require more than love.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I found a place to get married

and D likes it, or he is being agreeable. He usually is, strike that, always is. Someday we're gonna have a really big fight -- a brewhaha, but just the two of us.

But I digress. I want to get married at The Beeches in Rome (NY, not Italy) cause it's cool and kinda funky all at the same time. You should check out their website, maybe offer to make a new website and brochures for them. Strike that; I should make a new website and brochure for them and have them take it off the bill. How hard could it be?

But I digress again. The Beeches has some really big appeal: nice grounds, a seventy-room hotel, outdoor spaces, they set up the tent (and I don't think they charge extra to do so), complimentary cake cutting, free breakfast for the bride and groom the next day, and . . .

in the basement room a dance floor and plenty of room for my djs. I hope they take the job when I offer it to them for no pay.

Yes, I'm aware that the long sentence above had huge parallelism issues. Maybe I'll use it in my bus com midterm.

In other news, I have finally reached the chapter in At Day's Close: Night in Times Past that is the reason I bought the book. It's titled "Sleep We Have Lost" and it's delicious, as is the entire book. I'm gonna talk more about them (the book and the chapter) soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe not, but soon.

I'm also gonna post a new poem. That's right, I'm writing again -- prose and poems. Can't keep an old windbag earnest writer down.

Have a lovely day. We'll be resealing and setting (fingers crossed) a toilet.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm Writing Again

I haven't written anything creative since my dadso died. I'm pretty happy to say that I'm working on a creative nonfiction piece. I am doing so mostly because I teach the genre and make the students write so what the heck I should write too, right?
This piece is a follow up to one called "The Fall" that I wrote years ago and that talks about my loss of faith in Catholicism. It starts in Idaho, then goes back in time, then, oh shit here it is. Just read it and tell me what you think. Harold Wyndam was right when he told Jeremy Petersen, Mark Brown, Dorian and me that if you need to set up a piece too much it's not worth the reading.

Return to the Fold

Idaho, 1999
I am thirty six years old, give or take a few half years. I’ve been in a marriage fraught with problems for almost sixteen years and it’s getting harder and harder to keep it all together. My husband has become less explosive but no less anxious. Prone once to volcanic anger, he is now more like a frayed electrical wire. He can’t contain the agitation anymore; he cries sometimes at odd moments. Things on television make him weep, but he remains steadfast in one aspect of our life together. He will not seek help, not with me or without me.

When I say that I want us to go to couples’ counseling, his response is usually something like “I don’t know why you think we need that.” He has also responded “I don’t know why you think we need a divorce” and famously “I don’t know why you think you’re unhappy.” The last one’s my favorite.

So I’m trying to keep it all held together, but half the time I think that like the dam I live downstream from, the floodgates are gonna give way any minute. We’re all going to be swept away by this man’s swelling anxiety. I’d like to say that at this point in my marriage his anxiety comes and goes, but I don’t think it goes much. It stays, but I have taken to leaving.

I go to church. I go other places too, to school, to the grocery store, to an occasional poetry reading. Sometimes I even read my poetry at downtown readings in the small city thirty miles away from where we live. These are readings he never attends; crowds make him uncomfortable. In a moment of desperation I drive to the local catholic church one Sunday. After Mass, the librarian says in a snide voice “What are you doing here?” as if the devil had taken human form and sneaked in while their backs were turned. I do not go back to that church.

Instead I get in the car on Sundays and drive the thirty miles to the small city and attend Mass at the catholic church that is sort of near my college. There is a church on campus, but I know that many of the English department faculty worship there, and I don’t really want to see them or any of my students. Besides I have gotten the idea that since the church is on campus it might be like a catholic version of the Mormon singles ward, where young ones go to look for other single Mormons to hook up with, excuse me, to wed. I am having none of that.

The other reason to go to a parish where nobody knows me is that I cry a lot during Mass. Not sob out loud crying, but crying nonetheless. I am also nervous at first because I think I will have forgotten everything. I soon find out that forgetting the Mass is impossible if you spent eight years in catholic school and went to Mass twice a week, once with your class and once with your parents.

New Jersey, my entire childhood

I go to Mass with my father, my brothers and my sister. My mother goes with her sisters on Saturday night, but my father likes to go to the 12 o’clock Mass on Sunday. He likes to sleep late, cook and enjoy his breakfast, and have the requisite one hour fast before receiving Communion under his belt before we go to church. Even though we go to 12 o’clock Mass we are always late and always stand along the side walls of the church under the Stations of the Cross. Sometimes someone makes room in a pew, and as the smallest I am allowed to go and sit. Sitting with strangers is better than standing with your family.

Mass is impossible to see when you are a) very small and b) stuffed between a brother and a brother or a brother and a father. Most of the time they put me in front, sort of a tiny masthead figure for the good ship Murphy Familia, but even then there’s always someone or some other family in front of our family, and everyone is taller than me. Mass is better on the occasions when we get there early enough to snag seats. Then I can see and hear and actually pay attention.

Mass changes for catholic kids once they make their first Holy Communion and at the age of seven pledge themselves to something they can’t even begin to understand. Christ = bread, bread=this little dry wafer that you must not chew, so receiving this dry wafer that sticks to the roof of your mouth (do not chew it!) means you are receiving (eating?) Christ. That’s pretty symbolic for a seven year old.

Monday, March 14, 2011

This is why I never blog in the evening

By evening I'm boring, so I'll just post this link cause it's way funnier than I am.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I do believe

I know what you're thinking after I posted about St. John's the Evangelist, but no this isn't a post about me becoming Catholic again. I could post about my several failed attempts to go back to the Catholic church and how/why they were unsuccessful, but I thought that instead I would talk about my secular beliefs. Those of us who have no faith in a higher being are still full of beliefs, at least I am.

I believe that the world will right itself someday. I think that people want to feel that their voices can be heard and that their lives have meaning. The problem often lies in what we do to others as we seek to have our voices heard. Words can be hurtful.

I believe that if everybody read a good book half of the world's problems would go away. If everyone could just take some time to read about what someone thought important enough to write about we would learn so much. If someone knocked on my door and wanted me to go blow up a building and I was reading a good book I'd decline. Well, maybe I'd decline anyway.

I think that we all get new chances in spring. Maybe that's because every spring the plants in my garden get a new chance to come back and be neglected again. So like the bleeding hearts and California poppies we all get to come back in spring and flower again.

I believe that we can make the best of all sorts of situations even when they turn out so unexpectedly different than we thought they would. After all, I once thought I'd be an elementary school teacher in Idaho and that didn't turn out as expected. It turned out better.

I also believe that if you have good friends who want to spend time with you, you should consider yourself the luckiest person in the world. If you have a family that loves you you're doubly blessed, but we can make families. The word means all kinds of things.

I believe that I'd better see the beginnings of a new poem soon, or I'm going to get nervous. I haven't written a thing since, oh my, since my dad died. Better get on that.

So that in a nutshell is what's on my mind today, oh that and this:

How Fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! ev’n as the flowers in spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.

Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greennesse? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

Yes, that's George Herbert writing about spring in his poem "The Flower". Who would have thought my shriveled heart could have recovered greenness? Well me because I think we all get new chances in spring, right? Apparently so did George Herbert.
Happy Spring!
It's coming, I swear

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ten Things I Love About Daryl Lee, Birthday Boy

1) Daryl Lee has hella sexy hair.
2) Daryl Lee reads the newspaper to my mother.
3) Daryl Lee put up with Missy for seven years and even loved her.
4) Daryl Lee has put up with me for over seven years and will marry me next summer.
5) Daryl Lee said yes when I asked him to marry me at the Paramus, NJ IKEA store.
6) Daryl Lee will let me live in his house next year.
7) Daryl Lee is kind to his parents.
8) Daryl Lee is brilliant; at least he seems pretty smart when I let him get a word in.
9) Daryl Lee is too tall, but I love him anyway.
10) Daryl Lee loves his pets, Sophie and Vincent.
P.S. Those are Daryl Lee's legs to the right. So . . .
11) Daryl Lee has great legs.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Yeah, I get it

If everybody lived forever the world would sink under the weight of so many people (and pets). I get that. But right now I do feel like I'm a bit surrounded by the presence of, well, death. I'm sitting in the living room at my mother's house in Bergenfield, NJ where my father died last summer and where my dog died over Christmas break. My mother is sitting close by and I have to say that the last few days with her have been rough. My dad's 100th birthday on Thursday, the one he didn't live to see, has taken its toll on her.

Last night I went to a Mass in honor of my Aunt Eleanor's death twelve years ago. I carried the communion up to the priest with Aunt Grace, and I even received communion, something I was able to do because the Mass had started with Confession.

As I sat, knelt and stood in the pew at St. John the Evangelist Church I thought about how much of my family's lives has taken place in that church. I was baptized there, received my First Holy Communion and made my Confirmation there. My aunt and my sister were married there, my grandfather, aunt and father had their funerals there. My mother's funeral will be there too. So much joy and sadness in one church. So much of my life has been connected to a place I rarely visit.

Enough! The sun is out here in New Jersey and I am done with my grading, for now. Winter's on the wane and I see the smallest buds on the trees in my mother's backyard. There is even a new tree in the yard that I swear wasn't there last fall. We will all be okay because that's what we have to be. That's what we do.

After this semester in over in late April it will be wedding planning time in earnest. Weddings apparently don't plan themselves. Neither Daryl nor I have ever planned a wedding and boy is there a lot to do! More to come, such as date, music, invitations, etc. soon.

Have a lovely spring wherever you are.