The nature of reality

Featured image
A model of social distancing. Photo: JH.

Thursday, March 26, 2020. Slow to mid-40s with as brisk and very chilly wind and rain intermittently, yesterday in New York. The kind of weather where you’d prefer to stay indoors. But then today, the weatherman forecasts mid- to upper-50s.

Yesterday was one of those blah days — especially when you’re mainly if not entirely housebound as many of us pretty much are right now. My dogs aren’t that crazy about the rain, and the chill wind didn’t help, so it was in-and-out burger for all. Since I also didn’t need anything from the market, it was entirely home sweet home. As much as I spend my time at home with my work, it’s nevertheless strange for this character to not see people frequently and daily. I’d never given it a thought until now.

I’ve stopped reading the mountain of opinions, statistics, terrifying warnings about “catching it” because it ends being a self-scare tactic that a lot of people are into. What is often on my mind is how it is affecting most people financially. The massive closings of businesses everywhere are dangerous to our safety as a community, not to mention our mental health.

Although if this whole disaster hadn’t come our way I’d probably be grumbling to myself about all the appointments I had to keep, or grousing about how was I going to find time to do the Diary. Poor baby. What is odd about all this freed-up time is that I’m not as productive. There are a lot of phone calls to distract coming in from all over (even Morocco yesterday), and the conversations are much longer than I’d ordinarily have time for. But it’s definitely not a vacation.

I got a message yesterday about the situation from Steve Millington, the general manager of Michael’s:

Dear Friends of Michael’s Restaurant: We recently celebrated our 30th Anniversary in New York City. Throughout the years there have been ups and downs but we have always stood strong with our community, friends and family.

COVID-19 has had a heavy impact on our entire industry. Despite all of our efforts we have had to lay off most of our front and back of house staff. While we know that this will pass and better days are ahead, a lot of people will struggle to make ends meet in the month to follow, and today we ask for your help.

100% of donations will go directly to our staff members, distributed on a bi-weekly schedule. Please consider donating to our Employee Relief Fund on GOFUNDME.COM — every bit helps!

The situation is dire here in New York as well as all over the United States. We’re reading and learning about what our governors are trying to do to assist us, but in the meantime We, the People, whoever can spare it, can give, contribute to the “cause” of all whose lives and mental health are at risk with the loss of jobs. 

Giving does not have a number on it —  $5, $15, 20, 100, 250, $5,000. Any amount can make a decisive difference in the lives of millions of our  fellow Americans right now. We can hope and pray that this matter, this pandemic, will subside sooner than later (no matter the projections and predictions). We all have situations in our lives, be they personal or community, commercial or individual where there is dire need.

Here is an example. Katie CarpenterMissy Hargraves and Christine Schott Ledes co-hosted a private screening for documentary filmmaker, Robin Baker Leacock’s PBS film, “A Passion for Giving,” a couple weeks back at the La Coquille Club in Palm Beach. The invitation-only screening commemorated the film’s 10th anniversary and celebrated the relevance of the topics explored in the film today.

Robin Baker Leacock, Robert Leacock, and Kimberly DuRoss.

Attended by about 50 guests including one of the film’s philanthropic guests, Louise Mellon Stephaich, Ledes introduced filmmaker Leacock, who spoke to the film’s message. Then Carpenter and Hargraves  discussed their global philanthropic and environmental work.

Robin Baker Leacock also responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic by donating all proceeds from the sale of her PBS film, which also can be downloaded on Amazon. Additionally, all proceeds from the sale of Leacock’s upcoming PBS film, “Stella & Co: A Romantic Musical Comedy Documentary About Aging,” will also be donated to Doctors Without Borders once it goes on sale on Amazon around Mother’s Day.

Peggy Stephaich Guinness and Louise Mellon Stephaich.

At the screening, Leacock said: “This story is all about kindness and giving back. Palm Beach has a long history of philanthropy. Lifestyle ties in with the uplifting themes found in ‘A Passion for Giving,’ a reminder of the true power of connection. We should all care for one another. You never know what someone is or has gone through before.”

Robin Leacock is a documentary filmmaker whose work also includes “It Girls,” and “I’ll Take Manhattan.” This year she will debut her fifth film,“Stella & Co: A Romantic Musical Comedy Documentary About Aging.” The film was inspired by her mother and is set to debut on PBS around Mother’s Day.

Averell Harriman Fisk, Sydney Lawford McKelvy, and Peter McKelvy.

The daughter-in-law of cinema verite pioneer, Richard Leacock, and wife of director and cinematographer, Robert Leacock, she created “A Passion for Giving” in 2009 to inspire people to help others by showcasing international philanthropic efforts and giving. The uplifting 50-minute film features prominent philanthropists and celebrities including Dan Aykroyd, Run-DMC, Gael Greene, Louise Mellon Stephaich and Henry Buhl, among others.

Guests at the evening included: Tiff BensonTom D’Agostino and Danielle RollinsKimberly and Tara DuRossAverell FiskNick GoldYelitza KarolyiPeter McKelvey and Sydney Lawford, George Ledes, Peggy Stephaich Guinness, Pamela O’Connor, Tom Shaffer and Pamela Taylor.

Averil Meyer and Bill Tyne.
Christine Schott, George Ledes, Lauren Day Roberts, and Nick Gold.
Chuck Poole and Karen Klopp.
Danielle Rollins and Tom D’Agostino Jr.
James Coleman and Pamela O’Connor.
Robin Baker Leacock and Laurette Kittle.
Dara Sowell and Missy Hargraves.
Katie Carpenter, Bob Merrell, and Pamela Taylor.
Lana Jokel, Robert Leacock, and Missy Hargraves.
Robin Baker Leacock and Mary Hilliard.
Pamela Taylor and Tom Shaffer.
Yelitza Karolyi and Lana Jokel.
Robin Baker Leacock and Paola Bacchini Rosenshein.

Meanwhile, back with Mother Nature, we received from a Diary reader in Florida, this beautiful and heartening observation of life within the community of us humans:

Hey, Folks, our Yellow Cresteds are back
. They travel far to get here and nest in these pines, which are designed just for them (and several other birds). Their yellow heads match exactly the top points of the pine limbs, and the bark matches perfectly to their feathers. The pine needles make for building sturdy nests and are often here the next year, unless there are harsh storms. The marshes here are the perfect depth for them to stand and stand and stand, then strike their food. They are vicious hunters.

They are fierce protectors of their space, too. They don’t let any bird come around. Jaybirds who generally never fear, won’t be seen while they’re around. Two years ago, a Crow was lurking about, landing in the pine next to theirs, of course, eyeing the nest. He looked young. A Crested took off after the Crow and poked him over the water with his treacherous beak. The Crow let out a near death yell, and you could hear him for a good one-thousand-years hollering. The Crested most likely did not kill the Crow, but the young, black soul never returned. Let’s hope he learned a lesson.

Here is one of the darlins’ in our backyard. This is up there about 40-feet. They nest high. I can see this one from my library window while I’m working.

Below is our possum with her babies. She was leery of us at first and would run and try to draw us away from her babies, but she got used to us when she saw we were her pals. The mothers sleep on top of their babies until they’re old enough to start hunting. As I told you, these rascals are wonderful hunters and can kill any poisonous snake except the coral snake, because they are immune from every other venom but the coral snake’s. They eat rats, roaches, and other bothersome bugs. For some reason in our crazy world, people hate them. “Nuts, Sugar, nuts,” as my mother used to say.

Love your possums. They’re on your side. They are tough little buggers. They won’t harm dogs or cats, and definitely not humans. They are one of our dearest friends in nature. Pass that along!

This one below is not ours. But it serves a little better to show you their look, with their war beaks, and their chicks.

Notice the young are born without the light color and the yellow crown, because the brown and gray colors match better the ground where they will be learning to hunt prey, thus protecting them from the predating eyes of Ospreys and Eagles.

Once they start to color, they can fight just about any other bird.

Across the bay we have two pair of these Blue Herons nesting, too. Haven’t seen any signs of babies yet, though.

Herons come in two colors, the dark and light below. They don’t crossmate, but they do hunt together and nest close to each other.

We want to thank the Lord again for providing us with His most gorgeous creation, to enjoy, relish, and protect.

Note: Never fear! As I know you will not! Our animals’ habitat is judiciously and discriminately protected!

The nature of reality. Meanwhile, back in Manhattan, our resident beauty expert Delia von Neuschatz captured this shot moments after a red-tailed hawk swooped down to the sidewalk to capture this poor unsuspecting pigeon before hoisting it into a nearby tree to feast.

A Passion for Giving photographs by Annie Watt 

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