Saturday, June 30, 2012

An Idyllic Summer Day

(Copyright 1997, 2012 Dee Fairbanks Simpson - unpublished)

She stared off into the road ahead. She was at the crest of a hill with a lush green valley sprawling out in front of her. She clutched the steering wheel and tried to remember how she got there. As she began stepping on the brake and pulling the car off to the side of the road, she thought, “Is this the Berkshires? Is this the valley on route 9 by his parent’s house?” No, there were just gentle rises, it wasn’t the mountains at all. The sun was shining brightly and she guessed that it was about noon.

She stopped the car and let it idle for a few minutes. The tank was full. There were candy bar wrappers, soda cans, papers, her briefcase, and some Clementine peels on the floor. The car looked lived in, not really any different than usual.

She looked off to her right and saw some cows grazing in a field. A bull was slowly meandering towards the herd, and she watched intently as he made his way, waiting to see how the bovine drama would play out.

Her mind gradually became more focused on her surroundings. The radio was playing softly, as if waking from a dream, she recognized the sounds of the Doobie Brothers playing “Taking it to the Streets”. She cringed, she hated the song. Where she was didn’t bother her so much as why her radio was playing such horrifyingly bad music. She reached over and turned the dial.

Suddenly, a memory: She is alone in the car late on a Friday night. She is driving down Storrow Drive. The river is on the right side of the car. She sees the hospital and thinks of Rob, arguing vehemently with him about which side of the river the hospital was on and being wrong. Something about Rob and the airport and Virginia and a train, a departure, a welcome home.

She sat in the car for a few more minutes, trying to piece it all together. She turned off the motor and put the key in battery mode so she could listen to the radio. She changed the station, trying to find some news, weather, sports, any indication of where she was. Just music, most of it bad. Not bad enough to be the south, not good enough to be Boston. Not country, not rock, just something lost, in-between. Oldies but mediocrities. She stopped the dial at Abba’s Dancing Queen and began laughing.

Another memory: Sometime late 1970s. A lovely blonde woman wearing Foster Grants mirrored sunglasses. They are at the seashore standing in tall, waving beach grass, they are wrestling over something in her hand and someone takes a picture. They are laughing, joyous, joyful, Joy. Another name.

She turned the key all the way off, and leaving the key in the ignition, she opened the door and got out of the car. There were no other cars on the road. There was no line down the middle, it was just a long, thin strip of black tar. She looked behind her, and saw that wherever she came from looked much the same as the road ahead. More pastures, more valleys, more sun. It was warm, and she realized her heavy Polartec sweatshirt was inappropriate for the climate.

Another memory: It is winter, there is snow on the ground. She is driving on Memorial Drive with her father. He is telling her she drives like a maniac, she is threatening to leave him in a snow bank. He cannot drive and she is taking him to a hospital for some tests. He is trying to feed her cookies while she is driving and they are both laughing.

She stepped off the road into the grass. There was no fence. The cows were off in the distance and appeared to know better than to stray too close to the road. The sweatshirt did not feel right. It was tight, and the sun was so warm. She took off the sweatshirt and without thinking, took off her t-shirt, bra, jeans, boots and underwear. She let the clothes fall into the grass and began walking though the pasture. She didn’t know why, but she was sure this is what she was supposed to be doing. She walked a little further into the field and lay down in a patch of soft, velvet clover. She stared up at the sky. She felt the sun warming her body, and she watched the clouds form shapes. A marshmallow, a kitty, a clown, a steel girder.

Another memory: She is driving on Storrow Drive, a radio is playing, it is cold, she is thinking of Rob’s eyes when out of nowhere a car, an overpass, a piece of steel pierces her skull.

She closed her eyes for a moment, and convinced herself that was not a memory. She rolled over onto her tummy and looked at the grass. The sweet smell filled her senses and she breathed deeply and snorted.

Rob, Dad, Joy. The names and faces fell into place, and then suddenly began to fall away; a friend, a parent, a sister. Slipping away. She didn’t want to lose them but at the same time, she knew it was inevitable.

She opened her mouth and took a bite of grass. She chewed it for a long time and it was good. She lifted her head and saw the herd off in the distance and with a heave rose up on her four legs. She swatted a fly with her tail and began meandering towards the herd. The sun was still at high noon, and it felt warm and loving on her hide. As she joined the herd, she became aware that she was being watched. She turned her head to see the bull approaching her from behind. She waited for him and mooed softly in anticipation.

“There are worse things,” she thought to herself, “than being taken by a bull on an idyllic summer day.”


(Copyright 1995, 2012 Dee Fairbanks Simpson)

I could look at you
till my eyes melt
like Hiroshima
dissolve in their sockets
drip down my crimson cheeks
my black jacket splattered
I try to brush it off
but it doesn’t matter
because I can’t see you
not seeing me.

I could think of you
till my brain bursts
like Pulp Fiction
a clean up job
weighing down my heavy shoulders
my black jacket splattered
I try to brush it off
but it doesn’t matter
because I can’t think about
you not thinking of me.

Five Days in September

Copyright 1995, 2012 Dee Fairbanks Simpson - from unpublished manuscript "Confessions of a Fat Starving Artist"

There should be a tattoo on my forehead
Like a scarlet red letter and it should say,

Like the green glow of a nuclear plant,
Like a rabid dog’s foamy while drool,
Like hospital refuse and toxic waste,
Like three day old left over gruel.

There should be matching tattoos on my inner thighs,
Written in gold glitter paint:
“What you see’s what you get, but don’t mess with it,
Because what you see’s what it aint.”


(Copyright 1993, 2012 Dee Fairbanks Simpson - from unpublished manuscript "Confessions of a Fat Starving Artist")

That smell. She recognized it, but did not dare open her eyes. She laid in the bed, frozen. I know that smell, she thought. But from where? The paper mills in Erving… in summer. She remembered the smell was so putrid, even with the car windows closed, it was nearly impossible to suppress the gag reflex. The chemicals, the rotting pulp, it would hang stagnant in the air like a fog over the entire town.

No, she thought. It’s not the paper mills, it’s worse. As the stench grew stronger and closer, she shut her eyes tighter as her mind raced furiously. A memory - That truck stop bathroom in Ohio. She had been driving for four hours straight and had to pee so bad that it ached. She had pulled into the truck stop and ran to the rest room. When she opened the restroom door, it hit her. The smell of urine and feces and possibly a dead animal or two. She gasped for air and the smell invaded her mouth. She began to choke as she slammed the door shut and ran back to her car, still gasping for air. She couldn’t relieve herself – she held it till she got to Pennsylvania, and eventually had to burn the clothes she was wearing that day.

Is that what this smell is? No she thought, perhaps…

“Good morning, honey”, his deep sweet voice murmured. She opened her eyes and saw him, suddenly realizing what it was. She turned her head away as he softly slipped his hand up her nightshirt and began stroking her left breast.

“Sweetheart,” she said softly, pushing his hand away, “not now – you have morning breath.”

The Shaft

(Copyright 1995, 2012 Dee Fairbanks Simpson - From unpublished manuscript, "Confessions of a Fat Starving Artist")

have two doors
to keep you
from falling
seventeen floors,
but if I fall
and crack my head
shattered body,
broken, dead,
bits and pieces
toffee bar
like the muskrat
‘neath my car
my body twisted,
a purple hue,
it couldn’t feel worse
than loving you.

The Tale of Wanda the Wicked

(Copyright 2006, 2012 Dee Fairbanks Simpson)

Once upon a time there lived an old woman with her old husband in an old house in an old, old forest. She peered through gold opera glasses between the curtains to the mulberry bush on the front lawn.


“George,” she repeated, not waiting for answer. “What’s on the bush? I think it’s a bluebird, it looks like a bluebird! Can you hear it chirp? It sings like a bluebird! It must be a bluebird.”

George sat motionless in the rocking chair in the corner. Without looking up, he replied, “Can’t be a bluebird. It’s only January and…”

“Yep, it’s a bluebird alrighty,” she interrupted, still looking through the glasses. “My Spring Come Early spell must have worked!” She lowered the glasses and squinted out the window. “My children will be here soon,” she exclaimed, sighing heavily and wiping a tear of joy from her eye.

“No, Wanda Jean,” George said. “It is still only January. It is cold, it is not springtime. Your children are far away. Your spells never work.” His voice trailed off; this was a conversation they had had every winter for 50 years and he knew it was a lost cause.

“We must begin preparations at once,” said Wanda spinning quickly, losing her balance and clutching the back of a wooden ladder back chair to regain it.  “Prepare the feast,” she shouted, to no one in particular.

George, still sitting in the rocker sighed. “What shall I prepare?”

“Oh!” Wanda exclaimed. “We must have bread and stew and sugar cookies! And cider and  wine!” She hobbled to the corner where George sat. She offered her hand to help him up out of the rocker, but instead he pulled her down into the chair onto his lap.

“Not now, you old fool,” she laughed, not meaning it; in 50 years she had never turned down a quick smooch from her beloved.

The next morning, when they awoke, the room was warm, and Wanda thought aloud, “That is odd, the fire is out but it’s not that cold in here...”

“It’s this new bear skin, it is warmer than the old wool blanket.” George said, slowly lifting the bear skin from his body, careful not to expose her tender skin to the anticipated cold. He tucked the blanket back around her and slowly lifted himself off the bed. Something caught his eye out the window; a small flash of blue in the mulberry bush.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” he whispered, staring out the window. “It’s a bluebird!”

In his heart, he knew that Wanda the Wicked was just a nickname, but he knew there could be no other earthly explanation; this had to be the result of a witch’s spell; a good witch, but a witch nonetheless. The sun was shining, the snow was melting, and here was a bluebird in the mulberry bush.

He decided against lighting a fire and instead lifted the latch on the front door. As he opened the door, warm sun streamed in and filled the room with heat and light. He noticed the green tips of the crocuses popping through the rapidly melting snow.  Wanda heaved herself off the bed and padded softly across the floor to join him.

“Did you remember to record the incantation this time?” he asked, his voice full of obvious wonder and astonishment.

“Yeah,” she said softly and slowly moved to a great stack of papers lying in the heavy oak table. She shuffled the papers for a few moments and finally retrieved her most recent composition:

Incantation for Early Spring, Attempt #50

Bobby Orr and Gordy Howe,
The season’s over, the time is now,
Make winter go, I want spring days,
No more speedy power plays.
Go away, Phil Esposito,
I want it warm as Sausolito,
I want to see butterflies, not snow leopards,
Head back to the locker room now,  Gregg Sheppard.
I’m sick of sleigh bell’s tinkly music,
Hang up your skates right now, Johnny Bucyk.
Win the Stanley cup next year,
Right now I just want Spring to be here.

She re-read the words aloud and smiled to herself proudly.

George looked bewildered. “But you love the Bruins,” he pleaded. “You use your crystal ball to watch them every night! They were going to be contenders this year! Now what?”

She hadn’t thought of this angle at all. “Uh...” she began and voice trailed off. She hobbled over to the crystal ball in the corner. Slowly, gingerly, she rubbed the glass. She couldn’t think of a spell and simply asked it, “Now what?”

Slowly in the glass, visions of her children came into view. From the south, from the far north, from the east and west, they were beginning their annual spring pilgrimage home.

“No! No!” She shouted, “What about my Bruins? Did they win the Stanley cup? What about my Bruins?” She angrily pounded her fist on the crystal ball.

Slowly a scene of Boston appeared in the ball. But instead of the Boston Garden, it was Fenway Park; instead of ice there was green grass cut into a tidy checkerboard pattern; instead of stocky toothless hockey players, there were clean-cut lanky ball players.

“Baseball?” she said in disbelief. “Baseball?” she sighed, on the verge of tears now.

George was unsure of what to say. “Hey, “ he said brightly. “The kids are on the way! We better get going on that feast. No?”

“I don’t care about the kids! What about my Bruins? Forget the feast,” she cried, “I need to write a new spell right now!” She hobbled quickly over to the table and furiously began scribbling:

Incantation to Bring Back Winter #1

Spring is here too soon, I don’t want this.
Go back home, Carleton Fiske.
It’s way too soon, bring back the ice,
Hang up your cleats and go home, Jim Rice!
The bitter cold is what I want,
Come back in 6 months, Louis Tiant.
Stop playing baseball now, Dwight Evans,
Bring the snow forth from the heavens.
Carl Yastremski, don’t round the plate,
It’s wintertime! For Spring, I’ll wait.

As she spoke the words, a cold wind began blowing through the front door. The sky began to go grey and a light snow began falling. As George rushed to shut the front door, she hobbled back over to the corner and once more began rubbing the crystal ball. She saw her children returning to their homes, and said hesitantly, “...and the Bruins?”

And slowly the Boston Garden came into view and she sighed contentedly as the familiar strains of John Keilly’s organ began playing the National Anthem.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Testing to see if this works from iPhone

I am testing to see if this will work from my I phone. Here's a cat picture:

My Grand Cardinals!

Yesterday, I saw a little baby girl
cardinal! I'm a grandma!

But wait! Today a little baby
 boy cardinal showed up!
I'm a grandma twice!


Dad feeding baby

Baby going all
nom nom nom

Baby gots fleas!

Wait! There are 2
baby cardinals,
a girl AND a boy!

But wait, there's more!
2 girls and boy! I'm a
grandma THRICE! Woo-hoo!

More Puppets for the ELC

These are puppets I created for the ELC to help teach kids about bird beaks.
Spoonbill, now with armature

Spoonbill, now
with armature

Spoonbill, now
with armature

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron




I don't know if you can tell from this
picture, that is nemo in his beak:-)


Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Ruby-throated Hummingbird



White Ibis

White Ibis

Puppets for the ELC

Some of these were created for the Master Naturalist Uplands Module Final Project (y team build bird boxes and performed a skit of us selling the houses to the birds) The Osprey is my latest creation, used to teach kids about Ospreys.
Me and the Osprey  

The Osprey attacks!  

Head detail

Detail - Fish (Nemo) in his talons

This was our final project for our uplands
Master Naturalist Project. We were
real estate agents selling houses to birds. I made
the owl box and all of the puppets, which I
donated to the ELC.


Purple Martin


Barn Owl

Wood Duck

ELC Underwater

We (me and some other master naturalists) helped build an under water scene for the ELC's ecofest. We made an ocean and have some scuba divers swimming in it. The ocean is made out of sheets which some people dyed, then I sewed together. The scuba divers are actual scuba equipment stuffed with newspaper. We build the shipwreck out of paper mache in my garage.



Shipwreck details

Scuba divers

Jelly fish

Fish eating fish


The Owl Box Project (Part 3 of 3)

Teddy and Brice painting the box
white to keep the sun down.
Adding the finishing touches,
as the clouds rolled in.

Loading the truck back onto
the trailer. Time to move on to a
new location!

The final location is field near a
dilapitated barn that will be
torn down.

Teddy, painting the back of the
box before installing it.

A swallowed-tail kite, checking
out the new owl-condo going
up. There goes the neighborhood!

Brice and Teddy, balancing
the box.

Giving the box a final coat
of paint.

Packing the truck back up.
Thanks so much to Maria, Gian, Teddy, Brice, and David from SJWMD, and Ralph, Susan, Steve, Andy, David, Dan, and Sarah from Space Coast Audubon, for helping to make this owl-box dream come true!