Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Settling In

 So it's taken me a little over a year to report again on this blog. As promised, we moved in to Baywoods of Annapolis on March 3. Baywoods has had a really good record during the pandemic, no one in the independent living quarters dying of Covid. Rules have been strict here. We moved in when there were no dinners being served in the dining room, so we got used to dinners arriving in a bag. Instead of cooking we now reheat dinner in a microwave! We also learned how to order from local grocery stores, and ventured out to our favorite espresso bars and a few restaurants when it seemed safe. In May 2021 we took a fun day trip to Easton, Maryland on the Eastern Shore (also got my car registered, lines were shorter there). We've made very good friends here so far. I joined the staff of the Breeze newsletter, and one of my specialties is interviewing new residents. Earlier this week on Valentine's Day we participated with three other couples in a "newlywed game," came in second. Over the year we've gone on a few excursions with small groups to the outdoor sculpture garden in DC, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, and earlier this month to the African-American Museum. As I write this things are slowly opening up more. Dining room serving again, even happy hours. I take a swim exercise class twice a week. 

Eddie, Bill and I in Jávea,
Spain, in 2009

Last summer we managed to drive all the way to Gilmanton, stopping along the way to visit friends in the Princeton area, in Brooklyn, and Guilford, Connecticut. We stayed at the Jersey City Hyatt and were given a room with a view overlooking the Hudson. We were able to use the PATH and Lyft to get to Brooklyn to see our friends Ruthie and Eddie Lemansky. As I write this we've just learned that Eddie died of a heart attack yesterday, February 15. He was one of Bill's oldest friends so we are glad we were able to get to see him last summer.

Last October we were lucky there was a small decline in covid cases, so we boarded a plane at BWI and
flew to California so we could attend my great-nephew Riley's wedding to Michelle in the wine country. We went to all the wedding festivities, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding in a vineyard, brunch the next mroning, all in one fast weekend. And of course we got to see all of my family in one place, together, true luxury.

Recently my genealogical "career" has picked up. I not only published the second of two installments of my Captain Sandford article, I have become involved in two unrelated but somewhat connected projects in New Jersey. One is an attempt to collect all known information about the Cedar Grove community (of which my Simonsons were one family there) in a project to develop a possible museum featuring the cemetery there. The other one is to try to save the Peter Van Ness house in Fairfield, New Jersey, this campaign has just begun in earnest, and I am on a committee of three planning it. So I work with four different men on these two projects, and some of them know each other, so I am juggling to remember what I've said to who about what...

Our next excursion will be to New York to hear Jordi Savall at Carnegie Hall, and see Jenny, Phil and one or two grandchildren. Perhaps I'll be writing here more frequently. Hard to believe I've been so busy but I guess retirement can be like that.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Surprise Move!

This will probably surprise the heck out of anyone actually reading my blog. We are on our way to Annapolis. Let me back up and catch you up from the last post of June 6, 2020. Soon after that I was a featured reader along with Doren Robbins for a Poetry Center San Jose zoom reading (June 9). The regular events were changed slightly, my Chester group met for a week via Zoom in late July. We decided going to New Hampshire would work fine, pandemic-wise, as the levels of infection were very low there. So we drove up to Guilford, had dinner (masked, socially distanced) with our friends Gwen and Norm, and then arrived at Drew Farm on July 25. The first week we were there with Clare and Lucy only, then the rest of the family came. Going to the pond was easy, people stayed away from each other enough so we all felt safe. Bill and I even shopped at the market pretty regularly, how daring! We stayed until mid-August, then drove home stopping at Wallingford, my new Connecticut discovery where I'd stayed with Juditha the year before. Bill liked it very much, especially the Library Bar and Bistro for dinner. 

All of the regular activities took place, except via Zoom, like my various book groups, the Cool Women, the Chester group. In fact, it was nice to meet with the Chester group once a month instead of the usual once-a-year gathering. The first part of my article about John Sandford/Sanford/Santford, the three Revolutionary War soldiers, came out in September (and then part two is soon to arrive in March 2021). 

But the real excitement came around October when I convinced Bill we should go down to Annapolis and take a look at some of the apartments at BayWoods of Annapolis, the retirement community we had researched and which was beckoning to us. So we drove down on my birthday, staying at Country Inn and Suites, found the good espresso place there (Ceremony Coffee), found a beautiful park by the bay (Quiet Waters), and had dinner outside (tented) at Vin 909 to celebrate. The next morning, after breakfast downtown outside near the docks, we showed up for our tour with Jim Harrington of two of the two-bedroom apartments that were available. Unfortunately, both were on the north side, not as sunny as the south side. But it all looked good. We spent some time also at a wonderful bookstore/coffeehouse and had lunch in Eastport in a sandwich place, sitting outside looking out over the harbor.

So then we mulled it over for awhile...! Genevieve and I arranged a Zoom 80th birthday surprise for him with friends from all over the country wishing him well. Thanksgiving came and went, quiet, just the two of us. Christmas came and went, quiet, just the two of us. We decided maybe my niece Karen could help us out, since the Covid cases were particularly high around the end of the year. So she went to BayWoods on January 9th, toured an apartment newly available on the south, sunny side, took lots of photos and talked to Jim Harrington. The apartment looked great, was on the fourth floor, had a view of the water, and so we decided why go down again to look at it, since the two-bedroom plans all had the same layout, and we had seen the facility. We had looked into at least 30 or so other places, ranked them financially and by amenities, and this place just seemed the best fit for us. We had only visited Annapolis one other time (back in 2007) but the visit in October revealed a town with a lot of excitement, and the fact that we would be right on the Chesapeake Bay just seemed very exciting and relaxing at the same time. Also nice to be near D.C. and all of its activities, as well as Karen and Elena and Marina being nearby as well. And friends Anne and Fred, and Hiram to boot.

I am writing this as we are in the throes of moving. Many boxes of books. Backaches, packing exhaustion. We are looking forward to being in our new place, that's for sure! Next post will have more news about our adjustment to the retirement community and life further south. At least I don't have to worry about my not seeming to be much of a Jersey girl. All I have to be now is a decent Annapolitan.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Long Days at Home

Cooperstown Public Library
The last post ended with a recap of whirlwind activities involving my new book, a train ride across the country, my 50th college reunion. Soon after that reunion Bill and I drove to Buffalo for Thanksgiving. On Sunday we planned a leisurely drive across the state to Cooperstown, to spend a night there as we had done a few times before. Unfortunately a storm was also planned for that day. We thought to ourselves, how bad could it be? Well, it was pretty daunting, took us all day to reach the turnoff for Cooperstown, the thruway full of cars creeping along in slush, our windshields pelted with pellets of frost. At the turnoff it was already dark. And a steep hill was on our route, unbeknownst to us the rather locally famous "Vickerman Hill." Cars to the right of us, cars to the left of us had spun out, but my Volvo soldiered on, only balked once, steady pressure to the gas and we made it to the top. I am becoming an accomplished winter driver. Still not there yet, though, another hour or two when it normally would have taken less than an hour. And minimal visibility, luckily very few cars on the road. We finally reached our destination, an old Victorian in Cooperstown, the Landmark Inn, and were fortunate one restaurant in town was still open, Mel's at 22, and it was warm and cozy with delicious food. The b&b let us stay an extra night of course, who else would be coming with several feet of snow? So we darted in to the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame the next day (we had to take turns because parking seemed to be prohibited everywhere...). We discovered Alex's World Bistro for a late lunch, then ordered takeout for our dinner back at the room (a bottle of wine purchased at the liquor store next door...seems liquor stores never close in inclement weather). So this is rather a long-winded description of a two-day event. Not to worry, there won't be much to relate for the next series of months...

I seem to remember a reading the Cools gave at the New Brunswick Public Library, and Gretna, Maxine and I having a great pizza lunch afterwards. That was March 7. Then the world started closing in. The pandemic had arrived. Events began to be cancelled. Frances Mayes' reading in Doylestown. Gray Jacobik's long-anticipated reading at the FDR library in Hyde Park. Bill and I navigated getting groceries delivered, and ordering takeout from places that allowed us to pick up at the curb. Masks acquired. The kindness of neighbors, some of whom shopped for us when online delivery was interrupted.

My great great grandfather Patrick Henry Rafter
becomes a citizen
Staying home is not as difficult for old people like us who are somewhat introverted and like to spend time on the Internet. I finished an article that I sent off to my editor at the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey. Threw away bags of papers, files, photos. Started more genealogical research. Wrote some poems. Was interviewed by the Guilford Poets Guild. Zoomed with my poetry friends, Gilmanton folks, Bill's family in Buffalo.

But watched in horror as the president of our country seemed to become a more and more frightening and dangerous individual. And George Floyd was murdered. That is where this blog is at this point in time, June 2020. People rising up. So many helpful commentators. Trevor Noah, for example, on the social contract. What good does it do, he asked, if the people in charge have broken the social contract, why should the oppressed continue to obey it?

Bill and I plan to go to New Hampshire in late July. That is about the sum of things here. Be well and stay stafe. And listen to the voices of change. What do we want, justice. When do we want it, now.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Recap of 2019

The year 2019 began with the publication by Cherry Grove Collections of my second book of poems, Will There Be Music? The book launch took place in Guilford, Connecticut, reading for the Guilford Poets Guild on April 27, 2019. But even before the book launch, I decided to attend AWP in Portland, Oregon, and to take Amtrak across the country as a sort of meditative journey, arriving in time for the conference which began March 27. I was able to touch base with lots of west coast poetry friends there, as well as staying with my college friend Peggy and her husband Bill. We drove up the Columbia as far as Cascade Locks and found the Sacagawea statue, and also went to see the University of Oregon women win the game that sent them to the Final Four!

Ward Ritchie Collection
Clouds Brushed in Later

Bill met me in Southern California where we visited my sister for a few days, then drove up to the Pasadena area. Some highlights were visits to two cemeteries where I found my Swedish grandmother (in Long Beach) and my maternal grandparents (in Whittier); a tour of the William Andrews Clark Library and its Ward Ritchie Collection (where a copy he owned of my chapbook resides); Santa Anita racetrack; and a tour of the Charles F. Lummis House with Kirk and Melinda.

Santa Barbara Mission

Unbeknownst to my sister, we needed to kill time before her "surprise" birthday party, so we drove up to Santa Paula, were given a tour of Ojai by my Italy XIV friend Jerry Dunn, and hung out with friends Fran and Roger, and Gil and Joan in Santa Barbara, visiting the Santa Barbara Mission among other sites. When the time came, we truly did surprise my sister at Kent and Cindy's house.

Returning to the east coast, there were two readings for my book, one as mentioned above in Guilford, CT, and the second at the Princeton Public Library in June. In between these events was a quick trip to Buffalo to attend my step-daughter-in-law's graduation from the University of Buffalo Law School. On the way home I managed to create a genealogical mini-tour at Honeoye Falls, where some of my Sandfords migrated in the early 1800s.

Honeoye Falls, NY
In late July I joined my poetry friends in Chester, Connecticut where suitable hijinks as well as serious endeavors took place. Then on to Drew Farm, the grandchildren, swimming, the Rock Party, all went on as usual. On the way home I convinced Bill to take a detour to Vermont where we found a monument to one of the Sandfords in Weybridge, and then we stayed two nights at the Inn in Westport (NY), and on the day in between we drove up to Long Lake and had lunch with a distant cousin of mine, also a Sandford, a fellow writer Pat Garber.

With Ned at the game
With Tom and Cindy at the game
With Holly at class party

In September I gave my third reading for my book at the Newtown Library Company. Then in October I flew back to Portland, Oregon, where my friend Penelope had invited me to read at her White Dog Salon. Staying again with Peggy and Bill, and the last night at Penelope's, was quite cozy. The next stop, meeting Bill in the Bay Area where my Stanford Class of '69 50th reunion was about to begin. As one of the volunteers I got to go to an extra party, and Bill and I attended dinner on the Quad before a cold virus struck him down. I avoided this malady for the nonce and was able to attend the class party, the football game (where our class walked on the field during halftime), and the dinner I arranged at Vaso Azzurro in Mountain View for 24 members of our Italy XIV group (with some spouses, luckily Bill was able to bounce back for that!). We stayed in town an extra week to visit Palo Alto friends, and ended with a final reading at Waverley Writers before we flew home. Some highlights were being driven to the first event by my friend Holly in a tiny bright red Mazda Miata, re-connecting with my freshman friend Ned Wight (who swung me around expertly at the class party), attending the football game with Italy friend Tom, who plastered a red pompom on his head for the walk across the field, and being sung to for my birthday by my Italy group and the entire restaurant at Vaso Azzurro! The Waverley reading was especially lovely, so nice to connect with such old friends.
With Bill at Vaso Azzurro
Poem I wrote for our class

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Coming this way: Oregon and California!

Don't miss Sharon Olson reading soon in Portland, Oregon and Palo Alto, California.

Sunday, October 20, 3-5 p.m., White Dog Poetry Salon (reading with Laura LeHew), 507 NW Skyline Crest Road, Portland, Oregon
Friday, November 1, 7:30 p.m., Friends Meeting House, 957 Colorado Avenue, Palo Alto, California, hosted by the Waverley Writers.

Sharon will be reading from her new collection entitled Will There Be Music? published in 2019 by Cherry Grove Collections. Copies available for sale at the readings, from Amazon and from Barnes and Noble, or order from your local independent bookstore.

Cincinnati, Ohio, Cherry Grove Collections,
ISBN: 978-1625493026, 106 pages, $19.00.

The loose ends of lives and generations are expertly bundled in these alert, meditative poems. Part of a poet’s task is to catch the resonances of time and Sharon Olson has done that.
—Baron Wormser

‘Will there be music?’ asks the poet in her title poem. This collection definitively answers that question: we cannot live without it.—Fred Marchant

Sharon Olson is a retired librarian, a Stanford graduate, with an M.L.S. from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Oregon. Her chapbook Clouds Brushed in Later (1987) won the Abby Niebauer Memorial Chapbook Award. A previous full-length book of poems, The Long Night of Flying, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. She has published (with co-author Chris Schopfer) numerous articles about the Sandford family of New Jersey in The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey. After retiring from the Palo Alto City Library she and her husband moved initially to Guilford, Connecticut, and presently live in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. She is a member of Cool Women, a poetry performance ensemble based in Princeton, New Jersey.



Thursday, September 12, 2019

Newtown Library Company Reading Sept 20

Poetry Night: Sharon Olson

Who: Sharon Olson
When: Friday, September 20, 2019 at 7:30PM
Where: The Newtown Library Company, 114 E. Centre Ave. Newtown, PA
Bring a friend and a poem for the open mic!

Sharon Olson is a retired librarian, a Stanford graduate, with an M.L.S. from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of Oregon. Her chapbook Clouds Brushed in Later (1987) won the Abby Niebauer Memorial Chapbook Award, and a full-length book of poems, The Long Night of Flying, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. Her second book Will There Be Music? was published by Cherry Grove Collections in early 2019. She has published (with co-author Chris Schopfer) numerous articles about the Sandford family of New Jersey in The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey. She is a member of the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative and also performs with the Cool Women Poets.

114 E Centre Ave, Newtown, PA 18940, USA

Monday, May 27, 2019

Next Reading, June 10

Poets at the Library

Monday, June 10, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon St.
Newsroom, Second Floor

Featured poets Gretna Wilkinson and Sharon Olson read for 20 minutes from their works, followed by an open-mic session.

Sharon Olson is a retired librarian, a Stanford graduate, with an M.L.S. from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of Oregon. Her chapbook Clouds Brushed in Later (1987) won the Abby Niebauer Memorial Chapbook Award, and a full-length book of poems, The Long Night of Flying, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. Her second book Will There Be Music? was published by Cherry Grove Collections in early 2019. She has published (with co-author Chris Schopfer) numerous articles about the Sandford family of New Jersey in The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey. She is a member of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative and also performs with the Cool Women Poets.

Gretna Wilkinson began her career as a missionary teacher in the jungles of her native Guyana. She has performed her poems on radio and television and is published in Saranac Review, The Literary Review, and Poets of New Jersey: From Colonial to Contemporary, among others. She’s been featured in The New York Times, The Star Ledger, Courier News, and others. After 17 years as a college professor, she joined the Visual and Performing Arts Academy of Red Bank Regional High School where she ran the Creative Writing program. Her online literary magazine, was nominated Top 10 Literary Blog on The Web (Feedspot). She is an honorary Eagle Scout, Monmouth County Art Educator of the Year, Red Bank Regional Teacher of the Year, and was recently named Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction.