Monday, October 31, 2011

Not since 1925...

It's not hard to shatter a snowfall record when the numbers are measured in single digits. In 1925, Baltimore, MD got 2.5 inches on October 30th. Closer to home, Hartford, CT got 1.7 inches on October 10th. But this past Saturday, the 29th of October saw snowfalls upwards of two feet, 17 of which fell here! The largest amount of snow - 31 inches! - dropped down on Jaffrey, NH with Chesterfield, MA (about an hour away) coming in a close second with 28. Trees toppled or lost multiple limbs under the weight of snow and the strong winds blew down what was left. We went from 80 degree weather three weeks ago to temperatures in the 20s last night. 

I still have yard work to do, patio furniture to haul in, windows to wash. Hope we get some Indian Summer weather to offset the shock of so much snow before Halloween. The ghosties and goblins will be wearing boots and mittens with their costumes tonight. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In Explanation

 The old woman in the clouds
tosses evidence of her existence
out the window—

buckets of rain water,
and bed feathers
shaken out like flakes
in early December.

She lets the birds out of their cages
in April,
and sweeps with such vehemence
the trees on earth bend.

She leaves the light burning long
on a summer night;
in winter, when the days grow short
she turns in early,
leaving us all in the dark.

Friday, October 21, 2011

She Calls Me MamMam

The sock doll I made for the Bean's first birthday, her sock monkey and the Uglydoll ready for their next adventure.
I spent the day yesterday with my little Bean, who at just past a year old is walking with a little assistance from the furniture and the helping hands of caretakers. She is also becoming very vocal. Many of the sounds she makes sound like words and her mimicry of inflection and tone of voice is impeccable. Her mother and father call themselves Mama and Papa though Bean has not yet begun to call them that. I am Memere to the older grands but as of yesterday, I was MamMam, an utterance that stopped me in my tracks.

The Bean loves her toys. The current favorite is a shoebox with three soft dolls in it - a sock doll, a sock monkey and an Uglydoll. They ride together across the living room rug, bumping into furniture and careening around corners to the accompaniment of the Bean's loud, sputtery version of Vroom! When she tires of that, we go into the bedroom where she indicates that I ought to open the bottom drawer of her dresser so she can sort through her clothes. She doesn't like to wear them; she does like to toss them about.

On the very top of my bucket list when I retire is to spend more time with my grandchildren. Yesterday only clinched the wisdom of that decision.

Choosing clothes - not to wear but to play with.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Frugal Finds

A stone topped table to hold my tea cup and lunch.
The town dump where, when I was a teenager, was the place to go for target practice, is now called the Transfer Station. My friend J and I call it the mini-mall because it's a wonderful place to "shop." On shelves set up in a corner of the parking lot one can find, if one waits long enough, just about anything one has longed for but has never had the money to buy. Example: an older fellow approached the shelves one day with a large cardboard box. He set it down at my feet, reached in, pulled out a Cuisinart and handed it to me. "Here," he said. "My wife has passed away and I don't have any use for this darned thing." I sure did! I'd been coveting one for years. I murmured sympathetic words about his wife and absconded before someone else saw the treasure I was holding.

A week later I found a box of electronics chock full of computer keyboards, cameras and phones still in their original, unopened boxes. On bulky waste day last year I scored a gorgeous, unstained, heavy futon ("I can't move this thing around by myself anymore," explained the woman from whose car it emerged").  J and I nearly herniated ourselves lugging the thing from her pickup to the back yard but it made a perfect cushion for my outdoor metal swing. On this year's bulky waste day, I came home with a glider chair in perfect shape from the house of a neighbor who was moving away, a small, stone-topped table for outdoor dining, and a lamp shade that didn't sell at a tag sale. Oh! And a mini Gardenway cart, something else that has long been on my wish list.

My little Gardenway cart - I'm so excited. This has been on my list for years!
J and I added up the money it would have cost us to buy new what we'd hauled home from the Transfer Station over the past two years and, counting the aforementioned, plus the wooden shoe rack, the Williams-Sonoma popover pan, the numerous baskets, mugs, and dishes, most still wearing their former tag sale status price tags, and still usable vacuum cleaner parts, curtains, yarn, and paper goods, we've saved well over $2000.

My grandmother lived through the Great Depression. She'd be proud of me!

Black lampshade on far left, glider rocker on right.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


*Vollkommenheit is a German word meaning perfection, completeness. This morning's dawn could also be part of the definition.

What of the large and small joys
that make up the days?
What of the morning mist
that rises on the pond
milky white,
then gold in the rising sun,
then gone?

What of music
of laughter, or birdsong?
What of love
in any of its guises?

While we weep,
the sun rises and sets,
commanded by something

The song of the spheres
plays unendingly,
even when we are not

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Out of the mouths...

We had a math specialist called Tom visit our classroom yesterday. He was a spry 62 year old with a graying ponytail and a deep, resonant voice. He drew a circle on our carpet with a piece of chalk, had the kids sit cross-legged with him around the outside and gave each of them a baggie filled with plastic math cubes. Then he tossed paper plates at them like low flying frisbees and told them how many cubes they would need - 12 blue and 12 green. He filled his own plate and commented, "Kinda looks like planet earth, doesn't it?" Immediately all the kids stirred their cubes with their fingers, mixing them up. "Well," said one. "Mine looks more like my mom's Jello."

For an hour and a half Tom had the kids snap the cubes together in various combinations - seven blue and three green, for example. Then he had them make their sticks match by moving colors so they had doubles, removed one from a stick and put it on the other to make doubles plus one, etc. The kids loved it. As always there was one child who pulled his cubes apart so violently they went flying, and another who just sat and looked on glumly without participating. Tom instructed them all to place their cubes in front of them and put their hands on their knees. "Now," he said, looking around at them in a measured way. "Here's the deal. If you can make your cubes behave as they should, just sticking and unsticking, they can play with you. If they can't behave, they have to go back in the bag." There were no more flying cubes. To the child who didn't participate, he said, "I'm having a bit of trouble here. Can you help me?" and with gentle questions he helped her to see what he was doing with his cubes.

An hour and a half is a long time to sit still. At the end of the session Tom had a bit of difficulty rising up from the floor. Several children rushed to help him. One little fellow was having trouble himself. "Man," he said, turning to me, one hand on his head, the other on the small of his back. "Learning hurts!"

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Softly, softly...

Rain is falling, falling, dripping from the tired green September leaves, sliding like tears down the window panes, denting the steely surface of the mill pond. The sky is leached of color, as gray as the gray geese that wing through the rain, calling, calling as they settle on the pond. Here and there I spot a scarlet leaf, or a yellow one, harbingers of the changing season. The air, though damp, is cool rather than muggy. The small lamp on my desk casts a cheery glow; the rest of the cottage is gloomy and chill.

Summer has been loathe to leave but at its heels the autumn winds are nipping, shaking dry leaves from the trees and herding chilly morning mists across the water. Soon it will be sweater weather. Apples and pumpkins are ripening, purple asters replace pink roses, and all along the roadsides the green grasses are turning a soft brown. Acorns are dropping and squirrels are in overdrive, storing and hoarding supplies for the coming cold.

The songbirds are gone for the most part. There are some finches left, and dozens of little sparrows, chickadees, and nuthatches that winter over. The cardinal remains, too, but does not sing in the mornings the way it did in summer. Mornings belong to the crows now, and the strident bluejay. The days grow short; darkness comes sooner and stays longer. The Harvest Moon, the last full moon of summer and an ancient time signal for the harvesting of corn, rode the sky early in September. The next full moon, the Hunter's Moon will appear on October 10th.

The signs of change are all around me. But in the seeds of the lilac, the bulbs of the daffodil, the buds that replace the fallen leaves, lies spring and a new year. Change, then, is ever present. It's just on a slower timetable than we humans have accustomed ourselves to. Today I will slow down, too. I will not count the hours so that instead of hurrying by they will slowly melt into one another and I will melt into the day.