Monthly Archives: August 2021

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 1

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk

The town of Norfolk has a new addition this week! Say hello to our social justice chairs.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 2

Photo by Erick Olsen

The chairs started with an idea by one person at the Congregational Church. Then, a whole lot of goodness and generosity happened. There was also a delay. But the chairs finally made their debut on Friday, August 27th, along with the following signs: God Sees & Loves All Colors & So Do We! You can see a video of the signs here: https://www.facebook.com/1118857914/videos/pcb.10225536106045713/923143698548997

I already wrote about these chairs for the June issue of the Norfolk Now. And since I’m not feeling that well this week (thank you, Narcolepsy et al.) and I don’t think I can write it any better the second time around, the original article is below.

*****

Norfolk resident Leslie Battis has seen Adirondack chairs outside of churches for over a year now. Often painted in vibrant rainbow colors representing LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, these chairs started popping up more frequently during the pandemic. Battis wanted to see her church, the Norfolk Church of Christ Congregational (UCC), have their own chairs, too. She thought they would be a great way to encourage conversations outdoors in a socially distant manner. But she also had a different vision for how the chairs should look – what if they were painted in all different skin colors?

For the past several years, the Norfolk UCC has promoted racial justice as one of its missions. Some of their activities, often in collaboration with the Rev. Dr. Shelley Best of The Redeemer’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Plainville, Conn.have included group discussions of books such as “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” and the documentaries “13thand “All In: The Fight for Democracy”Battis’s idea for these chairs would be an outward expression of the church’s mission, so that the town of Norfolk could see on the church’s front lawn their solidarity with their Black sisters and brothers.

Battis, who is also part of the church’s Fellowship & Growth team, brought her idea to the other members, who all enthusiastically and unanimously voiced their support. The next step was to price Adirondack chairs. Wanting to support a local business, if possible, Rev. Erick Olsen, pastor of Norfolk UCC, visited Olde Farms Furniture in East Canaan. Owners Ron and Ann Reich loved the idea so much they donated seven Adirondack chairs. “When Pastor Olsen spoke to me about the project,” says Ann Reich, “I thought it over and realized what a great opportunity to donate the chairs for this great cause. In these trying times, anything to bring all peoples together to live in peace and harmony is what I believe God wants us to do. I felt the Lord has been watching over us and keeping us safe through this pandemic, and this was the least I could do to give back to the community in some small way.”

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 3

With its generous donation of Adirondack chair’s, Canaan’s Olde Farms Furniture helps Norfolk UCC bring its racial justice mission comfortably front and center. Photo by Erick Olsen.

With the chairs so generously donated, the next step was to determine the colors to paint them. Recognizing the need to choose colors with sensitivity and awareness, the church knew they needed an expert and, thankfully, already knew one–the Rev. Dr. Shelley Best. In 2019, Rev. Dr. Best’s art show, “What Is Black? Prayers & Portraits,” exhibited at The 224 EcoSpace in Hartford, showcased the myriad flesh colors that constitute “Black.” “The colors of Black people can be any color of human flesh,” says Rev. Dr. Best. “White, pink, brown, mauve. But when you identify as Black, there are shifts in how you are perceived and ramifications for your life.” Educating and building awareness of these perceptions is why Rev. Dr. Best is so enthusiastic about the Congregational Church’s project. “This installation goes one step further than walking in another person’s shoes. It gives people a chance to sit in another person’s skin color and think about the differences.”

After Rev. Dr. Best made her color recommendations, the church still needed to determine the best way to paint and care for the pressure-treated wood. Rev. Olsen reached out to Matt Bannerman, a local painter and owner of Mad River Painting Co. The spirit of generosity surrounding the chairs continued to flow as Bannerman offered to paint the chairs free of charge. All the church had to do was buy the materials.

“There is clearly something good in the air and in people’s hearts when so many friends jump on board an initiative like this!” says Rev. Olsen. “This project is powerful, not only because of its clear visual representation of our desire for racial justice, but also due to the creative collaboration it has inspired in Norfolk and beyond. I am humbled and delighted to find myself in the middle of a community that works in such a grassroots manner toward such a noble goal.”

At press time, the chairs are still being painted. Once they arrive on the Congregational Church’s front lawn, all are welcome to sit in and enjoy them.

*****

So we finally have our chairs! And do please come sit in them. Dogs are, of course, welcome, too.

 

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 4

Paging Dr. Dog!

I’ve never met a dog who’s not also an excellent heart surgeon. That’s right – heart surgeon.

Every time I meet a new dog, they manage to slice and dice my heart until there’s room for them, too. Having never taken an anatomy class, I have no idea how these dogs keep doing it. Maybe they keep adding additions?

Yet somehow there is always room for another dog in my heart, and the dogs I’m already hopelessly and completely in love with (here’s looking at you Annie, Dodger, and Fergus) wag their tails and high five each other to welcome that new dog to the pack.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 5

Everyone, have you met Hailey?

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 6

Hailey is the sweetie pie rescue dog who lives below our Norfolk apartment. I’ve known her for well over a year now. She can be shy at first, and I never thought I would truly make inroads with her. But then her human mom had to unexpectedly leave town for a few days. I AM IN LOVE!

I think it’s obvious why:

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 7

What a goober!

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 8 Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 9 Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 10

Hailey entered into a deep depression when her mom left. This separation was the first time they had been apart like this, ever. It took several days for her to warm up to me. After those few days, when Hailey began to trust me and liked all the treats I’d been giving her, she started running to the door when I unlocked it. She wiggled her butt and wagged her tail and a few times even jumped up at the door before I opened it.

I visited Hailey for eight days before her mom came back. Even though I’ve been having a lot of narcolepsy troubles lately, those were eight days with moments of doggone good love and joy. Those moments matter a lot to me when I’m struggling with sleep.

It’s hard to pick a favorite moment of my time with Hailey, but if I had to, I would pick the times when I’m getting ready to leave their house and I hide a handful of small biscuits in Hailey’s toy box. As you can imagine, Hailey is absolutely adorable rooting around in a wicker box filled with stuffed ducks, bears, and cats.

I am so grateful that people trust me with their dogs. I can’t imagine my life without them.

Also, just for fun, here are two other dogs I met recently.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 11

Maggie is a poodle and cavalier king Charles spaniel mix. I met her in downtown Hartford when I was supporting my author friend Lynn Katz at Books on Pratt. If you’re interested in a psychological thriller with some dark and twisty turns, check out her book The Surrogate. I’ll also be chatting with Lynn on October 7 when the Norfolk Library hosts a virtual author talk with her. If interested, you can register here: http://www.norfolklibrary.org/events/virtual-author-talk-with-lynn-katz/

Then there’s Wilson. Wilson is a basset hound! I never knew a basset hound could be a solid color. I thought he was a basset mixed with a dachshund. Also, yesterday was his birthday! He’s a jolly eight years old.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 12

I wonder how many dogs I’m going to meet this week? I suppose it doesn’t matter. I’m confident they’ll figure out what to do with my heart when the time comes.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 13

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to My Blog!

Today my blog turns five years old and I turn 44 years old. I remember when my dad turned 40 and we gave him a pin that read 40 isn’t old if you’re a tree. Since I’m a fan of trees and upon my death I would like to be turned into a tree, I accept that I am not old. For the record, I hope my death isn’t at least for 44 more years (God and Kelly willing).

Most importantly, I don’t feel old. And I think that’s what matters most.

One of the true highlights of my day was seeing the artists’ list for the August exhibit of Norfolk Artists & Friends that’s opening at the Library today. When I arrived at work on Thursday, I was delighted to see this painting:

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 14

 

That looks like Annie,  I thought.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 15

Annie!

Well, sure enough. The painting is titled “Annie Rose Smells a Flower,” by Susannah Anderson.

It delights me that I know Annie so well I can spot her in an acrylic paining.

It really is the little things in life that bring the most joy.

Other little things that have been bringing me joy lately:

The little chipmunk living under the front porch.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 16

The blue heron who keeps visiting the drivewayAnother Example of Why I Love Norfolk 17

Meeting new dogs (that’s Hobbes in the front and Legend in the back). I met them at Cornwall’s Library’s outstanding Puppies Behind Bars presentation.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 18

Teeny tiny frogs!

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 19

Fergus visiting my office at the Norfolk Library.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 20

Getting hugs from my friend, Dotty.

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 21

And last, but not least, is watching my kalanchoe plant grow. Heath gave me this plant for our 5-year wedding anniversary in February. It seems to be doing quite well!

Another Example of Why I Love Norfolk 22

My birthday wish for anyone reading this blog post is that you find little things in your day that bring you joy.