My Gold Finches are Back

My finches, my beautiful self-sustaining pets, Gold Finches are back!

It seemed to me that every year around October, all of a sudden after a mad feeding frenzy, where we all would go through a good bag of finch food a week, poof, they were gone, and didn’t come back until around Mother’s Day the following spring.

But a kind and faithful reader of the Newburyport Blog, emailed me that no, my finches were still about, and to keep the finch food out for the winter, and I would see my pretty little friends, for sure. And this was reinforced by another local bird lover. So, I put my finch food feeder out for the winter, where I could get to it, and replenish it on a regular basis.

But alas, no finches. The finch food never went down. Just stayed dismally the way it was for the whole winter. Alack.

And when the snow melted, I moved my finch feeder to a spot which I thought might be more finch conducive, but, “Oh dear,” still no finches.

I was beginning to think I had lousy finch food.

I thought I spotted a Gold Finch yesterday by the birdbath. The brightest, daffodil colored speck. And here they are, back again at the beginning of May, just the way they always arrive, right on time. So far, two “couples.” And maybe more may come.

Mary Eaton

Heroes and Tragedy

Elizabeth Marcus is one of those lovely people in Newburyport, MA who is one of Newburyport’s “unsung heroes.” Elizabeth and her then two young children, Erica and Jeff, lost her husband and their father, Howard Marcus to lung cancer in 1999.

Pippa Dorfman, their friend and Newburyport neighbor, lost her brother, Jeremy Dorfman to Bipolarity in 2003, and her father, Ron Dorfman, a year later in 2004, to brain cancer.

Three Newburyport tragedies.

A friend of mine who was dying at an very early age, leaving a young family behind, said to me, “no one is irreplaceable.” Not so. We are all irreplaceable, and leave gaping holes in our absence.

The death of Howard Marcus, Jeremy Dorfman and Ron Dorfman left gaping holes in the lives of their families, friends, loved ones and their community.

Erica, Jeff, Pippa and Elizabeth are paying a wonderful tribute to Howard, Jeremy and Ron, called Leave Cancer in the Dust.

Erica, Jeff and Pippa are riding their bikes from Anacortes, Washington on May 15, 2008, with Elizabeth Marcus driving the van. They are biking 3,500 miles across the country, back to Newburyport, MA, hoping to arrive in August 2008.

They are raising money, that will go to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), for lung cancer, brain cancer and bipolar disorder research.

If you would like to contribute to this heroic tribute to Howard Marcus, Jeremy Dorfman and Ron Dorfman you can do so by going to the website Leave Cancer in the Dust.

Mary Eaton

Curiosity, Money, Happiness

One of the things that I do have, is a very curious nature.

I’ll wake up one morning, and go, “Oh, I don’t know anything at all about ‘X,’ how can I find out or learn about ‘X’ (short of going and getting a degree on the subject).”

And bless the Internet, because, if I feel like it, I can learn a whole lot about a whole lot of stuff, and it’s really fun for me.

One of the things that I’ve decided that I know “nada” about is business and finance, and it’s high time I learned something about the subject. (Maybe it’s Mr. Karp coming to town. Maybe it’s the continuous municipal mess so many cities and towns, including Newburyport, find ourselves in. Whatever it is, I got real curious.)

So I have several neophyte sources that I go to, Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch and the Huffington Post. They all have links to various articles on various subjects on the subject.

People get MBA’s in this stuff, so (yes, I know) without an MBA I’ll be in kindergarten on this subject for the rest of my life, the “fluff” of Yahoo Finance sound-bites being my teacher.

BUT, I’ve come across a Yahoo Finance person that I really like a lot–Laura Rowley, who writes articles on how money affects people psychologically. And her latest article “Money & Happiness” I like a lot, a whole lot.

“The study (you’ll have to read the article) underscores the importance of separating temporary euphoria from genuine happiness. I subscribe to Aristotle’s notion of eudaimonia — which is translated from the Greek as “happiness,” but is probably closer to the word “flourishing.” And long-term flourishing requires discipline, persistence, hard work, faith, and, most important, pursuing goals that are close to your heart and based on your personal gifts.

This isn’t the smiley-face, instant-gratification kind of “happiness” that popular culture promotes. As Thomas Carlyle once said, ‘There is something higher than happiness, and that is blessedness.’ ”

And after reading that again, maybe it’s my frustration with our “Paris Hilton world” (see lots of other posts). And in reading this, it’s nice to see happiness equated with “discipline,” faith,” “persistence” and “blessedness.”

Love that. Love that a lot.

Mary Eaton