Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home Again

Companion snowmen - one to say goodbye to 2008, the other to greet 2009. They stood for a full day behind my daughter's little house before warm temperatures and rain rendered them mere memories. I'll get to make more tomorrow - we're expecting between 6 and 8 inches of new snow. It's good to be home!

Wishing you all a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

until next year...

The 25th is fast approaching. I leave today for a week of celebration with family. The light is on the rise - take heart.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I wanted snow and snow I got - there's about five inches on the ground and more falling by the hour. More is on the way Sunday. Looks like it will be a white Christmas after all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tis the season?

Last year the season looked like this -
Snowfall on December 31, 2007

This year the lawn is greeny-brown and dry. Last year's flower beds are a mass of broken stalks and weathered leaves. We had a brief snow squall on the 7th and an ice storm in the middle of the week that had New England towns declaring themselves states of disaster. Ice coated tree limbs downed power lines, and at one point, more than a million homes were without electricity. The temperature dropped down and the wind picked up. The weather map showed fingers of pure rain, as much as three inches falling in an hour, reaching down between the sheets of ice elsewhere. My town was in one of those fingers. We had a few flooded roads but never lost power nor saw a bit of ice, while the mountain behind the house was coated in frozen white.

Last weekend snowflakes swirled around my head like flurries of small white birds as I hunted for just the right tree to put on my coffee table. My cottage is so small that I must find a tree with a crooked bottom but a perfect top, undesirable to the hordes looking for tall, straight trees. I found one and brought it home. I hauled the box of Christmas ornaments from the back of the closet, strung colored lights among the branches, draping tinsel over all. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough of a snowfall to so much as whiten the lawn.

Here my mother and her father get ready for Christmas. In the 1930s, lead tinsel cost 29¢. Cut straight at the edges and falling a good 14 inches or so, the tinsel was a far cry from the flimsy, crinkly stuff of today. When I was a child, we used lead tinsel. It's still available on ebay.

This year, as in the years since my grandchildren were born, I will travel to their house on Christmas Day. The three of us are hoping that before I leave, the season will once again look like this.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Best Friends on Paper

Lee, at the suggestion of a reader, posted photos of his bookcases. I was much encouraged - mine look much the same - overflowing, crowded, words everywhere.
The main collection is housed on shelves in the library area of my cottage. There are upwards of 1200 books on 14 shelves. I've read them all at least once and some several times.

This smaller case in the office area holds reference and writing books as well as my cd collection and my printer.

An old but sturdy wooden crate holds children's books - some of my childhood favorites, others from my own children's collections, and still others I've added over the years.

Note: Under my tiny Christmas tree lie several wrapped packages that look and feel like books - I do hope that's what they are!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Borrowed List

I “borrowed” this from Meggie who in turn borrowed it from someone else. The things I’ve done are bolded, the ones I hope to do are italicized, and the ones I might never do are left alone.

1. Started your own blog Yep, in 2005
and a second one this year-see Laughing On the Way Out in the right sidebar).
2. Slept under the stars Often and happily (except for the occasional mosquito and a thunderstorm or two).

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii
 A week is far too short for such a paradise.
5. Watched a meteor shower Yes, from the open back of a pickup truck in a meadow in Northern Vermont
6. Given more than you can afford to charity Anything I give is more than I can afford but that doesn’t mean I won’t give.
7. Been to Disneyland/World 
Been to Disney World and loved almost every minute.
8. Climbed a mountain 
Mt. Everett, the one behind my childhood home, several times. It’s 2,624 feet up to the summit.
9. Held a praying mantis Yes, as a child.

10. Sang a solo (in the shower) Why not?

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea From the shore.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch Yep – I taught myself how to sketch, to work in pen and ink, and to watercolor, taught myself to knit and crochet (with varying degrees of success), and am a self-taught writer who went on to get a master’s degree in same. 

15. Adopted a child 

16. Had food poisoning Twice, to my dismay.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables Every summer for the past sixty years or so, give or take a year now and then.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa

20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight I was one of four siblings – pillow fights are a given. Once we had a water pistol fight with our bed pillows as fort walls. (Notice I say ONCE.)
22. Hitch hiked only twice and I sure wouldn’t do it again.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill It’s either that or call in dead.

24. Built a snow fort 
every winter as a child.
25. Held a lamb Yep, and the bottle for its feeding, too.
26. Gone skinny dipping Uh huh. Not telling where or when.

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse Through one of those paper eye protector thingies. It was way cool.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset Every day (unless it’s raining).
31. Hit a home run

 Yep, in a cow field when I was 12. We used dried patties for bases. First and only ever homerun.
32. Been on a cruise

 An overnight harbor cruise out of NYC.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person 
I can still hear that thunderous roar.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

 in French-speaking parts of Canada.
35. Seen an Amish community 

Seen one, spent a day in one, had fabulous meals.
36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied Not yet.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight any chance I get.

46. Been transported in an ambulance Once in the middle of the night for a kidney stone attack and once for ribs that broke when I fell hard on a wet grassy bank.
47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain Mm hmmmm

53. Played in the mud I grew up rural. There was LOTS of mud ☺
54. Gone to a drive-in theater often as a teen. We’d pile a dozen kids in the back (and trunk) of one car (admission was $1 a car) and descend on the place!
55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business Twice. Once I sold handmade greeting cards and later I became a publishing company for a year so I could self-publish my own book.

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies 

OH! Those chocolate mint cookies!
62. Gone whale watching Twice and was luck enough to see those behemoths breach both times.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason Uh huh. And for reasons, too.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma 

Once but it was determined I was anemic and so haven’t since.
65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check 
and got charged $35.
68. Flown in a helicopter

 No, but I flew (and have flown in as a passenger) two light planes.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy I saved several that the grandchildren now enjoy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
 years ago when my children were young.
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt - well, I backed and filled two quilt tops that my grandmother made from her own children’s discarded clothing but I’ve never made one from scratch.
73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job Only once and for good cause…

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London

77. Broken a bone Let’s see – three toes, two ribs, my right thigh-bone
and my collarbone.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle Well… it felt awfully fast to me clinging to the seat in the back.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book 

I self-published Writing Down the Words, a collection of some of my newspaper columns written over 15 years, and I wrote half the entries in a book on libraries published by Berkshire Publishing Group.
81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car Oh and a lovely little thing it was, a cinnamon colored Subaru, and the first new car I ever owned.

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper The paper I wrote for ran a feature of me when I published my book and that article was accompanied by a photo. I appeared again in the same paper when I wrote an account of my first flight lesson.

85. Read the entire Bible I have.
86. Visited the White House

 Well – visited DC and walked around the White House but didn’t go in for the tour.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

 We homesteaded in the 70s and 80s and raised chickens for meat. We butchered them ourselves. The pigs we raised were butchered elsewhere and by a professional. When I was a child, I hunted with my dad and once (only) I helped him skin a deer he'd shot.
88. Had chickenpox 

Yes, and measles and whooping cough and rheumatic fever, too.
89. Saved someone’s life I hoisted my two year old onto the roof of the car with one hand when a Cujo look-a-like came rushing at us, barking furiously. My little fellow would have been no more than 3 bites for that dog!

90. Sat on a jury 

Twice. Once for an assault and battery trial and once for a traffic violation.
91. Met someone famous I was racing along a path through the woods at Lime Rock Racetrack in Connecticut, hoping to reach the ladies room and get back in time for the beginning of the first race. I ran smack into some fellow coming in the opposite direction and fell inelegantly onto my derriere. I looked up to see an extended hand. Taking it, I looked at the fellow I’d crashed into and found myself staring into two of the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. “Thanks, Paul,” I managed, and sped into the ladies whispering, “OhmygodthatwasPaulNewmanthatwasPaulNewman!” And oh my god, it was. Years later, I helped edit a book written by William J. Lederer, author of The Ugly American (and my next door neighbor in Vermont), and sold some hand drawn notecards to Anne Lindbergh, widow of Charles Lindbergh and mother of my friend, Reeve.
92. Joined a book club 
For about two months. The talk devolved into gossip and I tired of it and quit.
93. Lost a loved one Mamma and Dad to early deaths, a husband to divorce, a lover to another woman, and a good friend to cancer.
94. Had a baby Gave birth to four of the most wonderful people I know.

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone 

and still do though I use it only for emergencies.
99. Been stung by a bee Oh, ouch! Cutting logs for our cabin in Northern Vermont, I was stung on the hand by a wasp. The resultant swelling encompassed my entire hand and most of my forearm.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Proust Questionnaire Revisited

I have been tidying up my blog posts, deleting a few along the way. I found this one and liked it. I've updated a few of my comments from the original three years ago and post them again in hopes some of you will write your own answers.

Marcel Proust was a French novelist, essayist and critic. He is quoted as saying, "All our final decisions are made in a state of mind that is not going to last," and "Our intonations contain our philosophy of life, what each of us is constantly telling himself about things," and "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." I like the way he thinks.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A comfortable place to rest when I’m tired, something good to eat when I’m hungry, sunshine on my shoulders, good company in small doses.

Which living person do you most admire?
Each one of my children, for different reasons.

What is your greatest fear?
Unbearable pain.

What is your favorite journey?
The one that takes me home.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Of the seven, diligence. I'm a big believer in frequent breaks, naps, and just sitting, staring off into space.

On what occasion do you lie?
When telling the whole truth would do more harm than good.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"Well, huh!" "And your point is?" "Knock it off!"

What is your greatest extravagance?
Books. Chocolate. Clothes. More books.

What do you dislike about your appearance?
Depends on when you ask that question. First thing in the morning? Egads, my hair! Middle of the day? Egads, my hair! Just before bedtime? Lordy, the bags under my eyes!

Which living person do you most despise?
That’s a strong word – I’m not fond of many Republicans at the moment.

What is your greatest regret?
Losing my home as a result of some poorly-made decisions.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family, my kids and grandkids. My old blue sweater. My down comforter ☺

When and where were you happiest?
Whenever and wherever I stop and remember that I can be happy anytime. As a specific location? My old homestead on Silver Street.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Oh, to be musical!

What is your current state of mind?

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
I’d love to have both of my parents still alive and in good health. But if the question means, would I change anyone in my family, the answer is no – we’re a good bunch.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you suppose it would be?
A dust mote so I could dance in a sunbeam and travel the world on the wind.

What is your most treasured possession?
Family photographs. My books. Things my children have chosen as gifts for me over the years.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

What is the quality you most like in a man?

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

What do you most value in your friends?
That they ARE my friends.

Who are your favorite writers?
Richard Bach; Elizabeth Berg; Maeve Binchey; Deepak Chopra; Billy Collins; Annie Dillard; Rumer Godden; James Herriot; Barbara Kingsolver; Garrison Keillor; Anne and daughter Reeve Lindbergh; James Mitchner; Mary Oliver; Cynthia Rylant, Rumi; Anne Rivers Siddons; Amy Tan; Lewis Thomas; Margaret Mitchell; Tolkein; Neil Donald Walsch; Laura Ingalls Wilder; Andrew Weil and a host of others.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Anyone who tries to be a little kinder than necessary.

What are your favorite names?
No favorites, though I’m partial to Annie and Jake.

How would you like to die?
Quietly in my sleep while dreaming about something happy.

What is your motto?
Life is short but wide.


What about you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Break

The best china, the set handed down from my grandmother, is waiting to be taken from the cupboard, the turkey is waiting to be stuffed, the potatoes and the vegetables are waiting the paring knife, the delicate china cranberry dish is waiting to hold the shimmering sauce, the pies are waiting to be baked to golden perfection, and I am waiting for my family to arrive. Tomorrow and the next day will be a flurry of cooking and talking and eating. Happy Thanksgiving to those that celebrate it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

No Particular Reason

I’ve read several posts of clever sayings. Here’s my own contribution to the pile.

Seen on a t-shirt — “National Sarcasm Society: like we need your support"

Warning—I am the grammarian about whom your mother warned you

Overheard: I’m so far behind I thought I was first

Egrets? I’ve had a few…

On a greeting card: I’m fairly certain that, given a cape and a nice tiara, I could rule the world

On a doormat: Welcome to the (insert own name) —putting fun in dysfunctional since 1993 (or whenever)

On a sweatshirt: “Don’t make me use my opera voice”

On a sign: “Traveling at 33 rpm in an ipod world”

On a wall plaque: “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research.” (Albert Einstein)

and my favorite, printed on a plain gray nightshirt—This IS my sexy lingerie!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Preserving the Moment

My friend Peter often delights his readers with photographs of reflections and shadows. His eye is keen and discerning; his posts allow me a glimpse of things I ordinarily overlook. I had a Peter moment the other morning when I went to wash my face. There in the basin of my sink was a detailed reflection of the sheer lace curtains through which the morning sun was pouring. I grabbed my little digital camera and snapped these photos. The whole of the day I was more aware of my surroundings though nothing else rivaled that lovely sunshine play of lace on porcelain.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Walking With a Camera

When I was a young girl, I had a skirt made of the softest velveteen. It was sewn of squares in different fall colors—russet, mustard, forest green, brown. I loved the way it felt under my fingertips, the way the material shimmered in the light as if the colors were actually sunlit leaves. I wore it as often as fashion sense would allow; when I was 13 those things mattered more than they had at ten.

It’s funny what jogs the memory. Yesterday I was walking along my street past the pond, basking in the fretful sunlight, drinking in the last of the autumn colors—russet, mustard, forest green, brown. I saw that skirt in my mind’s eye as clearly as if it still hung in my closet. It brought back a rush of attendant memories, thoughts of other clothing (oh, that lovely flowered dress with bodice ties of black velvet, the leaf print blouse that looked like a watercolor, the brown dress with tiny balloons embroidered on the collar), of the scent of the leaves I scuffed through while walking to the neighbors’ house to iron (the wife had severe arthritis; her husband loved freshly ironed shirts but was unable to do them up properly himself). Injured during his stay in a concentration camp toward the end of WWII, he regaled me with tales of the war as I starched and ironed his shirts.

I stood stock still for the longest time as one memory after another washed over me. All that from the sight of a few colored leaves. I walked on, the young me, the present me, all of a piece and happy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Borrowed Thoughts

I wish I'd written this. I didn't though - Pat Schneider did. Think on this:

The Patience of Ordinary Things

It is a kind of love, is it not?

How the cup holds the tea,

How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare, 

How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes

Or toes. How soles of feet know

Where they're supposed to be.

I've been thinking about the patience 

Of ordinary things, how clothes

Wait respectfully in closets

And soap dries quietly in the dish,

And towels drink the wet

From the skin of the back.

And the lovely repetition of stairs.

And what is more generous than a window?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Photo Meme

Diane invited participants to a meme that includes a post describing the 4th picture from one's 4th photo folder. So, here are the "toad heads," my four blonde children, circa 1974. There's a story here, of course. I'd left the little ones in the car with my mother while I dashed into the store. When I came out, Ken, the tyke on the right, was in tears.

"Why are you crying?" I asked him.

He pointed to the back of a departing woman. "She called me a name!"

My mother leaned over the seat. "She stopped by and remarked about what cute little tow heads the kids were."

"See?" wailed Ken. "She called me a toad head, and she doesn't even know me!"

*Inviting all of you to participate :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Come For a Walk With Me

I live not far from the house I was raised in. Periodically I get so homesick for the woods and fields of my childhood that I go back to walk the familiar paths. I took my camera on today's jaunt. Come with me on up the hill...

There are meadows on both sides of the road edged with woods that stretch for miles. This whole street was my playground and I spent most of my waking hours out of doors.

A mile or so from the old homestead is the sledding hill, a now defunct meadow grown over with barberry bushes and small trees. From where we're standing, the snowy trail was an exhilarating slide over jutting rocks, small bushes and a thorn tree at the bottom. Today the sun is warm and the chill wind is buffered by the trees. Let's sit awhile and watch the red tail hawks ride the updrafts.

I was often scolded by the farmers on my street for setting hands full of milkweed fluff free to float over their meadows. None of those farmers are left today but the magic of flinging the silken seeds to the wind is still alive.

Lean your arms on the fence and drink in the view - I herded cows toward the barn at milking time through this meadow and helped hay the hidden hillside fields beyond the tree line.

I often brought a book to this tree. When I was younger, and the branches were lower to the ground, I'd climb to a seat on one of it's outstretched arms and read for a while. More often, I'd just sit there in the company of the dreaming tree and watch the wildlife around me.

I love my little cottage but there are days when I simply must go back to the places that nourished me long ago. Thanks for coming along.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


My eldest son sent me a photograph one Christmas. It is early morning in the picture and the sun is just rising. Its light gilds the waters of the lake in the background, kisses the tops of the trees, and spreads a delicate gold wash on the grassy bank where my son stands, his head back, his arms thrown wide in jubilation, his feet in the steps of a twirling dance. It is the most wonderful image of welcome I have ever seen.

Imagine greeting each day this way! Why do we not? In a conversation with my daughter, we discussed the reasons we thought people cling to sorrow in the face of joy, hatred in the midst of love, greed in the midst of plenty and anger in the presence of peace.

“Fear,” she said, summing up the source of most of our woes in a single word.

When you think of what fear fosters, she is right. Turn on the news in the morning and you start your day with terror on all sides – war, a teetering economy, toxins on the loose, kidnapping and murder and high-jacking, suicides and genocides. We surround ourselves with things to be afraid of and in doing so, miss much of the joy and happiness we say we are so earnestly seeking.

Who has not had their share of sorrow, but what of the large and small joys that make up the very same days? What of the morning mist that rises on the pond, now milky white, now gold with the rising sun, now gone? What of the sound of music that can lift your soul or the kind of laughter that makes you smile in spite of yourself? What of birdsong?

What of the people you meet every day who do things of seeming inconsequence– smile when they see you, hold a door open, let you go ahead of them in the supermarket line, pay your toll on the turnpike, make a meal, bring a cup of tea, write a letter, call on the phone, hold your hand when you are sad, lend their car when yours won’t start, rejoice with you over good news?

What of the neighbor who plows your yard after he’s plowed his own and drives off without waiting for thanks or payment? What of the hero who risks his own life to save your child’s, or the strangers who come to your aid after a house fire? What of love in any of its guises? Can we not put these first, making them as important and as precious as the things that scare us?

We may be beset by woe on every side, but while we weep the sun continues to rise and set, commanded by something larger than itself. The music of the universe plays unendingly even when we are not listening. Flowers bloom and fade and bloom again. The very wind sweeps the seeds of change before it. Is it foolish to think we can choose joy, or more foolish not to?

I have placed my son’s picture where I can see it upon waking. Now, before I listen to the dire warnings of the day, I stand at the window and look out, seeing the world as a wondrous place. Then I throw my head back, spread my arms wide in jubilation and welcome the day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Well, huh

Whipped this quote right off The Elementary's blog without a by your leave because it speaks so perfectly to the current state of our current affairs.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
-George Bernard Shaw

It would appear that, in the political arena at least, most of our "thinking" is being funneled through the lens of emotion, so one in the market to influence is either preaching to the choir or to the deaf.

photo: bp2.blogger.com/.../ s320/miscommunication.jpg

Thursday, October 09, 2008

How much do you love?

When my granddaughter was just a little tot (pictured here) she used to call me on the phone. We'd talk about her day and what she had done and what she was thinking. Before we hung up, she would repeat a ritual she'd started at the end of the very first phone call.

"Memere, I love you as much as... " Here she paused and I pictured her casting about for something with which to compare her love for me. "I love you as much as all the sofa pillows on all the sofas in the whole world," she ended triumphantly.

I was charmed. Imagine! Not to be outdone, I told her, "Well, I love you as much as all the leaves on all the trees in the whole universe."

There was a little silence. Then, "I love you as much as all the clouds in the whole universe."

"And I love you as much as all the grains of sand on every beach in the whole world."

She sighed. "Memere, I love YOU infinity times infinity," and with that, she hung up.

Infinity was a pretty big concept for a four year old. Now that she's almost eight, her conversations run the gamut of school activities to friendships to what makes her cry, and better, what makes her laugh. She especially enjoys teaching her Memere things and searches for ways to surprise me. But her goodbyes are still presaged with "I love you as much as..."

Tonight it was, "I love you as much as all the raindrops that ever fell and ever will fall." Imagine loving and being loved like that. We should all try it.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Greeting the day...

To be out of doors when the sun rises is to both give and receive a blessing. The light spills over the horizon, illuminating and warming. The heart swells with appreciation and gratitude.

This morning the air was cold; frost covered the bent grasses and a shifting ghostly mist obscured the pond. My footsteps startled a pair of ducks resting in the reeds and they lifted, quacking furiously, from the water. The silence resettled in their wake.

Behind me the sun was lifting above the horizon, lighting the treetops first. Ahead, a yellow maple blazed in the first light. Slowly the grey, swirling mist turned gold. My own breath, visible in the cold, lifted past my face and drifted out to join the breath of the morning.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Leaves for Eddie

Dawn followed close on the heels of the clackity boxcars, as if the train’s whistle had wakened the sun as well as my self. I stood on the doorstep in the cool, misty half-light watching a flock of noisy geese make its way to the pond. They are Canada geese winging down from the north. They will rest on our pond and eat their fill before pushing south to Maryland just ahead of the cold November winds. September weather has remained warm and muggy after a summer of heat and humidity. Even now, toward the month’s end, the sun still blazes and the temperature climbs into the 80s. Evenings cool a little but the dampness remains. The trees still wear their summer green, though here and there a few anxious maple leaves have gone scarlet. It is these leaves that lure me out on my bicycle to scour the roadsides for enough to send to Eddie.

Eddie used to live here in my town. We grew up together half wild, playing along the creek banks, the edges of the woods, and the broad meadows between his house and mine. Eddie had a pony and sometimes he rode that to my house. Other times we rode our bikes together down the road we shared. He lived at the southern end and I half way to the north end. Often after a day of play, I would walk Eddie nearly to his end of the street. He’d walk back with me as far as the brook near my house. I’d walk him to the railroad tracks, and he’d walk me back to the halfway mark – a chicken farm owned by an old maid and her widowed sister. Then we’d turn and wave as we made our way to our respective houses. It made our time together last longer.

Once we were in junior high school, Eddie and I went our separate ways, me to the local regional school and he to a private one. We saw each other infrequently until just a few years ago when he made a trip home from Kentucky where he’d finally settled. At first I didn’t recognize him. It had been so many years, after all. But then he laughed and the years fell away, and we began to talk as though it had been only yesterday that we’d walked each other home.

Now we keep in touch by mail, with me keeping Eddie abreast of changes large and small to the town he grew up in. He writes back, nostalgic notes filled with questions about people and places he once knew well. He promises to come home in the spring, and then in the summer, and finally, when the leaves turn color and fall in heaps and the wind from the north develops a bite, he promises that he will come the following spring. I’ve ceased looking for him. I can’t help but think of him though, as I pedal slowly down the road where his grandfather once had a farm. Lettuce for fancy local restaurants grows in the fields now and the old farmhouse stands empty, shipping crates piled on its sagging porch.

The maples that line the street drop orange and scarlet leaves at my feet. I scoop them up, iron them between sheets of waxed paper, and mail them off to Eddie. Perhaps they will lure him home. Perhaps in the spring.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Come September

The pond across the road from my house, dressed in its autumn best.

How did it get to be September already? Wasn’t it just June? Nobody asks that question in February. Nobody says, "Wasn’t it just January?" What is it about summer that speeds up time?

Perhaps it’s because in summer, things grow. They emerge, develop, and expand until the next thing you know, the tree leaves that were the size of squirrels’ ears in late spring have flattened and broadened enough so you can stand comfortably in their collective shade. Corn seeds planted in May produce elephant-eye-high plants by August. In just two July weeks, my zucchini grew from finger-length babies to whale-sized behemoths. Cut grass seems to spring up right behind the lawn mower, and flower stems pole vault their blossoms toward the sun.

In June, time begins to make itself visible, each day stretching out full-length, its fingers reaching toward an ever-earlier dawn while its toes extend toward an ever later dusk. We even say the day stretches out before us, as though we sense the languorous pose July assumes when the temperature and the humidity rise. Let things cool off a bit, let the day curl up on itself and retreat beneath a blanket of gray, and still dawn does not lag nor twilight hurry.

July is mid-summer, all buzz and bloom and business. Mornings are often misty, and as the sun comes up, I like to watch the wraith-like vapor rise from the trees and the riverbed like lazy ghosts who’ve slept on the floor and just realized they must be off and away. Noontimes are just plain hot. The shimmering heat builds over the afternoon into thunderheads that break with a loud crack, spilling rain into the evening hours.

Then, just as in snow-smothered January there comes a day that hints of spring, there comes a storm that breaks summer’s spell sometime in mid-August, when the heat has built to an unbearable sizzle and people and dogs alike pant. After that, the days begin to sit up a little straighter. They belt robes around their waists against the dawn chill and in the evening pull sweaters over their shoulders. So do I. Time becomes restless, hoarding the light to spill on other continents, leaving us, with each flip of the calendar page, in the dark a little longer.

Watching the seasons cycle, I realize that all that has been and all that will be is held in the moment at hand. Like a good book, nature gives us hints of what is to come in the beginning and middle of each seasonal chapter. And though I’ve heard it before, September is a story I want to read over and over.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Soapbox Rally

If we are not involved in our government, in it's elections, its decisions, and its policies, then we are not a free nation. If we are not an informed citizenry we cannot blame the press alone; if the press and our government use us, confuse us, trick us, lie to us, and keep information from us, we are as much to blame as they.

Here's one way we can do something about it. Go here (http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=o25T0BspJ7c) to hear Dan rather speak to the issue of a corporate-controlled press and here (www.freepress.net) to supplement your daily controlled news intake. As Mr. Rather points out, we need a press that "provides the raw material of democracy and the information to let us be full participants in a government of, by, and for the people."

For more information about media control read Deck Deckert's essay (http://www.swans.com/library/art8/rdeck022.html) or read some of the entries at http://mediamatters.org/

As of 2004, 5 huge corporations - Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) control most of the media industry in the U.S. How are they informing us and what are they not telling us? Are they the only news media you subscribe to, listen to, agree with?

Unless we ask, unless we protest, unless we claim the right to be well-informed and then make sure we are by reading every viewpoint, not just the ones we already agree with, how can we make truly informed decisions? We should ALWAYS question, ALWAYS search for our own reasons for believing what we're told, ALWAYS insist that we be involved in our government's decisions. It's what being free entails - responsibility. Our own.

photo credit: img179.imageshack.us/.../ 2383/freedomcopyzk6.jpg

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How To Spend a Late Summer Saturday

It all started here:

And that turned into this, multiplied by 6 (and those tomato plants are not done producing yet)!

I spent 4 hours peeling and chopping...

...eventually filling four pots.

The canning pot doing its job.

Net? 44 pints of stewed tomatoes. Not bad for a day's work.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Home Again

My grandson saying farewell to summer...

Coming back from vacation is never as much fun as heading off on one but there is a certain satisfaction in returning home. My cottage welcomed me back with a last blossoming of fairy roses, the cat with purrs and leg weavings, and the garden with an over abundance of vegetables just waiting to be picked, pickled, packed in jars or simply eaten out of hand where I stood.

I've missed reading at my favorite sites but I haven't missed being indoors. Every day in Maine was spent on the beach or near the water or just out of doors lounging in a lawn chair. Lots of salt air, marvelous seafood, and the company of family made my time away worth every moment.

Ah, but it's good to be back in my own bed, in my own home, on my own time. School starts next week and with it comes the resurgence of the alarm clock and the hurry-up schedule and less outdoor time. I will spend the last few days jarring tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, and freezing eggplant. Between bouts with the canning pot, I will take long walks and longer bicycle rides, reveling in the freedom of the open road and the waning light.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Going Away

I'm off for a week to the coast of Maine. It will be a family affair. I'm leaving the tomatoes to ripen on their own and the squash to grow to the size of ocean liners. The cukes will be transformed into pickles before I leave but the peppers are already stuffed and awaiting their appearance as a winter meal.

Both the beets and carrots will be ready for pulling when I return and the little nubbins on the corn stalks will be full fledged ears. The end of August will go by in a rush of preserving and canning.

I'll bring pictures home with me, and wonderful memories of sunsets over the water, and laughter. See you anon.

photo credit: www.cliffhousemaine.com

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Wedding in the Family

August 2, 2008

Dear Jen and Tony,

Today is the day you have chosen to show that the two of you as individuals have also become one couple. You have decided to walk through the rest of your lives together. Living is both beautiful and difficult. It helps to have a hand to hold when you rejoice and when you need comfort. The poet Kahlil Gibran had these words to say about marriage.

"You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. "

Being together does not mean every moment. Don’t forget to take time to nourish the individual that you are so that when you are called upon to give more than you think you can, you will discover a seemingly miraculous reserve of love and compassion.

"Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music."

In one sense, love is already a bond. It is the thread that runs through all our lives, connecting us one to the other. Love is such an inclusive concept—among its attributes are patience and understanding, kindness and courage, affection and truth. But a false idea of love can blind us; we can mistake possession and need and jealousy for love. Remember to recognize your strengths and share them readily but don’t sublimate them.

"Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."

Remember to join hands and face the future together, both of you looking not at each other but outward along the same path. Help each other over the rocky places and at the end of each day, celebrate the joy you find in each other’s lives and in your own.


Monday, July 28, 2008

As if one wasn't enough...

In a comment to a piece I'd posted, I was asked if I had another blog and upon reading that, I thought, "Bite your tongue! I have enough trouble posting to one."

And that's still true but now I DO have another blog, one written in collaboration with my neighbor and good friend J who is, bless her heart, aging at the same rate I am. We have exclaimed and then laughed over what's happening to us so often she said, "You ought to write a book!"

It's much easier to write a blog. So, for those of you who are interested, you can read of our head-shaking, mostly irreverent thoughts on the changes we're facing here.