Ponder this:

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

new year 2011 - happy new year - happy new year 2011 - 2011

A new year...
It's an exciting time, a happy time, a sobering time . . . an arbitrary moment in time to stop and look back, and to look ahead with hope and good intentions.

My (click) New Year's wishes to all of you.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fresh sheets

Bernie's The Cool Side of the Pillow made me think of how good it feels to get into a freshly-changed bed.
Fresh sheets are crisp but soft. They smell good. The whole mattress feels new, the pillows in fresh pillow cases feel extra plumpy soft. For a while when I was newly married, and at various stages since, I have ironed my pillow cases. (Newly-married June ironed Husband's undershirts too.) I'm not in that phase right now; I like the smoothness of ironed pillow cases, and the way they look on the bed, but they smell ironed instead of fresh. And I don't sleep so well because I don't want to wrinkle them after having put in the effort of making them look so nice.

I read once that Jackie Onassis' daily routine included an afternoon nap on fresh sheets. Her housekeeper changed the sheets after she got up in the morning, and again before she went to bed at night. Probably that's a usual thing for people who have housekeepers. It would be number one on my list if I had somebody who would do it.

It's 10:41pm. I think I need to change my sheets before I go to sleep.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

...and the gifts of the season are these...

"Christmas gift suggestions: 
To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. 
To a customer, service. To all, charity. 
To every child, a good example. 
To yourself, respect." 

~ Oren Arnold 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Night lights

I haven't seen any blog posts about the hoop-de-do eclipse the other night. I was up around 2:30 and the world was bright with moonlight, although clouds covered the sky. I've spoken with a couple of people who saw the world go dark around 4:00. By then I was back in my bed. I had wanted to see that eclipse sky just because the last time it happened the Tudors were in power and I'll never get another chance. Such a historic event and I missed it for want of sleep.

Earlier that day, around 5:30, I noticed a patch of pale light on the bathroom wall.  It took me a second to realize that it was a reflection of moonlight from the mirror on the opposite wall.  It charmed me because that window is small and high up on the wall, and facing nearly north/northeast as it does, it hardly ever gets direct light. There's something about patches of pale light on walls that soothes me.
When I was very young, sometimes I would stay for the random overnight at my grandmother's. Her house was one of gazillions built in a little northeast mill town in the railroad heyday of the late 19th century, the front door opening into the side hall with the stairway (that bottle of pink Air-Wick between the balusters on one of the stairs) and with the rabbit warren of upstairs rooms. No hallways in the days when that house was built, each bedroom led to another. My room, the one designated for overnight grandchildren, was a small room off her bedroom, with a small metal frame bed and a white matelasse coverlet. She would tuck me in at night, we'd say our prayers, and then she would leave me. The excitement of streetlights would keep me awake. After she'd gone back downstairs, I always looked around for a long time, just to see how different the furniture looked, illuminated by the pale secret oblongs of light cast through the windows. Streetlights! Such sophistication to a country kid.
When I grew up and lived in a tiny studio apartment, sometimes I would sit with my lamps off at night, just to look at the room in the wash of yellow-gray light that came through the windows from the street. I could move around and do almost everything I wanted to do in that light, feeling hidden yet protected, private but not alone.  The headlights from the infrequent car crossed the wall and disappeared. Here . . . and gone . . . the travelers oblivious of my observation. 
I got married and we lived in the suburbs where, shortly after our purchase of the house, the town planners in their infinitesimal wisdom changed the zoning across the street and welcomed a twenty-four hour supermarket, with adequate lighting for the parking area. I was assaulted by, pummeled by, Light all the hours of the night. I could not find a dark spot. The charm of light at night was no more. And so we moved to the country.

In the country, there is night light even when the moon is new, even on cloudy nights: I don't know where it comes from. There is no problem navigating while walking outdoors at 2am: brush and stone walls are solid humps of black and the open ways are colorless. One walks carefully, still, since the dips and bumps of the hayfields elude exposure and an ankle can turn quickly; it would be a long cold crawl back to the house. Down the hill toward the village I see the amber glow of the lights around the sheriff's office and the jail. In the other direction, through the bare trees, more orange light, a faint glow from what is called a city, twenty miles away. Amazing that that light could intrude here, across such a distance.

As I grow older, I need (they tell me, correctly) more light by which to read. To live, it seems, I want and and am comfortable with less light. A few years ago a friend who was staying with us came upon me in the pre-dawn while I was setting up the coffeemaker. 
"Why don't you turn on a light so you can see?" she asked. 
"Oh, I'm fine," I said.
"Oh," she said. "You're one of those."

It's a contradiction, since I love daylight. 
Maybe it's just artificial light that I dislike.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Post-mastectomy: Fun Facts to Know and Tell

With hope that none of this grosses anybody out . . . Murrmurrs wrote recently about her mammogram experience and a few of her readers' comments indicated that people still avoid making the appointment. Murr's response:  "As the late and much-lamented St. Molly Ivins said, Get. The. Damn. Mammogram."
Last August 4 at 9:00am I had two breasts. At noon I had one. During the following several weeks I had the emotional upheaval that, I read, accompanies the removal of any body part. Time and Life filed off those edges and I'm fine . . . and still me, for better or worse.
I wasn't prepared for some of the physical effects that remain. None of these is traumatizing, but nobody tells you about them beforehand. Maybe they aren't fun facts, but from my point of view, they are . . . interesting.
  • The most salient sensation I had prior to diagnosis was itching. I still have an occasional itch but the itchy part is no longer there. Or the itch feels as if it's deep inside somewhere, perhaps near my liver. I have tried finding the spot where the nerve was truncated and scratching there, but it's unreachable. In either case, it's frustrating to have an itch that can in no way be scratched. The affected exterior area is absolutely without sensation, which makes that itch even more odd.
  • One has a silicone blob to wear, of course, and with it in place, my exterior is quite unremarkable. Without the accessory under a t-shirt, that part of the body is amazingly flat. Beyond flat. The original structure never was, and is not now, impressively convex, but as I look down from above it appears that I have Mount Everest sitting directly adjacent to the Dead Sea.  
  • Remember 1980s shoulder pad buildup? The shoulder pads in the coat overlaid the shoulder pads in the blazer, which overlaid the shoulder pads in the blouse and it appeared that my earlobes were resting on my shoulders. Put clothing on this guy to the right and you have the image.  During surgery, the various layers of tissue get stitched up separately, of course, from inner to outermost. If all goes as it should, which it has in my case, all those stitched-up layers knit together and make a hard little ridge in the middle of the Dead Sea. 
  • All those knitted-together layers connect the outside to the inside:  One's skin feels as if it is Super-glued to one's rib cage. Reach for something that requires a stretch, particularly at an odd angle, and the subfloor shifts a little. Not painful, but perceptible.
None of these sensations is constant, except the numb, and most of the time, even this short time after the mastectomy, I forget that I am an amputee. And all of the time I'm glad It was dealt with so simply. 
So, that's all. Just another day in the life. Who else would tell you these things?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Indoor wildlife

ID Please - Pholcus phalangioides
In my bathroom last night I noticed an infinitesimal dust bunny stuck at the bottom of the door. I poked at it because it didn't look exactly like the dust bunnies that ordinarily grow in my corners. It was a little spider. 
Was it dead? 
I poked again. It stirred. I must have woken it up. 
I gave it a gentle sweep with my finger and it lumbered flimsily down off its roost and set off across the floor  and hid up underneath the radiator where it apparently felt safe from my curiosity. 

I used to be an arachnophobe. I couldn't kill spiders because my feeble whacking (while making loud and ugly nonverbal noises of fright) only wounded them, and their crippled gimping horrified me more than their able-bodied mobility. 

Now I'm friendlier with spiders. It comes of living in the country where they own the earth and all its structures. So last night as I watched that little thing, a Pholcus phalangioides, wobble across the floor on its fragile legs I felt sorry for the little guy. Or girl. One is bigger than the other but I'm not planning on a breeding program, so it isn't important to me: I don't retain that information. Whichever sex this one was, its body was about the size of a dessicated baby mousie poop (don't ask how I know that) and its legs were as fine as the hairs on a human infant's head. The whole contraption looked . . . and traveled . . . like a broken umbrella frame in a gentle breeze. Hard to believe that such a creature leads a successful life, fribbling and weebling hither and yon, but apparently it's working for him. He has a nice life up there under the warm dry radiator. 
Maybe he'd been on vacation on the door, taking the air, and I ruined it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ramblin' around in my brain

One night last week, through some oversight, our front porch light got left on overnight. I woke up in the almost-dark and even though that little bit of light troubled my sleep, I wouldn't get out of bed to come downstairs to turn it off. 
Remember when everybody left their front porch lights on all night? Why did they do that?
Was it for their own protection, to enable them to see intruders knocking at the door? Or was it a quaint practice held over from the days of hobos and community and hail good fellow well met? 
Another odd thing. In those days when the whole family went out and planned not to be home until after dark, the one light that was left on was the light on the kitchen stove.  Anybody passing the house would have known there was no one home; the house had a look of waiting with the light on for us. Surely that dim little light was no impediment to would-be burglars. 
I wonder: What was the point?

Liverwurst is not the very best kibble mix-in to entice failing-kidney-poodles to eat. The protein makes them pee frequently. And a lot. Their little bladders fill up fast, the kidneys being unable to concentrate the high-protein waste material. And the inevitable race to the door, a great percentage of the time, inevitably, fails. The solution is potato mix-in with the kibble!  The veterinarian suggested it to me to try to get a little meat back on Max's dwindling frame.
If I had known these dogs would eat potato with such relish I would have saved myself countless supper and breakfast wars over the years.

If you wander around looking at enough trees, you'll see how they catch and hold their own (and other trees') dead branches. 
Those limbs hang suspended, completely disconnected from the original structure, through windstorms, ice storms, snowstorms. 
The living tree greens up, hosts birds and squirrels, goes on with its life, all the time holding up the dead weight.  
For years. 
I am glad glad glad that mammal amputees don't do that.
I might be the last person on earth to learn that I can watch movies online for free. On Thursday evening, I enjoyed 1937's Topper
Oh my. 
The shoulder pads. 
The luxe automobiles. 
That accent. What is that dialect the actors used in those old movies? Part British-y, part old money New England, meant to indicate upper class breeding and lifestyle. 
I love it all.  
I gather, however, that if I overdo this new pleasure, the monthly cost of our cell phone contract (through which I have my computer connection) will go through the roof. 
That's all right:  Any pleasure, too much indulged, becomes less pleasurable.  

Long before I was the sundries supplier for the household in which I lived, my family devotedly consumed certain brand names.
Prell shampoo, Tide laundry detergent, Crest toothpaste, Ivory liquid for dishes, Dial soap.  Procter & Gamble had our household sewed up.
I'm still stuck on Tide, and Dial soap's scent, although it is not the only soap we use, feels like going home. 
In the early 1950s Dial was yellow. 
Yellow only. 
When it began to be produced in colors, I recall asking my mother, in great puzzlement, why blue soap didn't make blue bubbles. 
My preference in Dial soap is still . . . yellow. 
When we built this house, I envisaged and demanded that the downstairs bathroom be yellow and white. Nothing in the room would be other than yellow, white or green. One of my rules for the bathroom was that the soap in use would be yellow Dial soap. That rule's long gone by the wayside, but last week I did find in the closet one remaining bar of the stuff, and temporarily replaced my [green] Emeraude shower soap with it. Nice.
Yesterday I bought a multi-pack of Dial. I spent an embarrassing amount of time in the soap aisle debating over color: yellow or white? Pink was out of the question.
I checked the scent: same with both. Would the white soap be as comforting to my senses as good old yellow? 
I bought the white. If I don't like it . . . if it doesn't make me feel like a safe, comforted child when I use it every morning, I will be sad until it's used up. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I will be wearing shorts on Saturday

Forecast at a Glance
Chance Flurries
Lo 1 °F
Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%
Hi 25 °F

Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Lo 17 °F
Partly Sunny
Hi 37 °F

Wintry Mix Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Lo 28 °F
Snow/Sleet Chance for Measurable Precipitation 90%

Hi 36 °F

Rain/Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 80%

Lo 24 °F
Snow Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 60%
Hi 27 °F

Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Lo 6 °F

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rerun: Ten Fun Facts All About Me

 first posted December 31, 2008

My new friend at Bee~Content Ranch has tapped me to reveal/share/impart/offer up ten things you don't know about me.

So. This is a blog game.

I am participating in bloggamy.
Safer than bigamy.

Since nobody I know in Real Life yet knows I have this blog, and none of you Out There knows anything about me, this should be easy. Right?

So why the procrastination? What's the holdup here, Junie Moon?

  1. My income is from tax dollars. Imagine, if you will, my current popularity.
  2. I have three (11/30/2010: only two now) dogs and one cat, all of whom sleep with me,  two of whom need to be lifted into my bed at night at least once. If either of them gets too warm or decides for some other reason to leave the bed and then wants back in, I have to get up and pick them up and replace them in the communal bed.
  3. I have ridden a horse twice. The first time I was so little that my legs stuck out straight and I slid off the side as we walked along. The second time, twenty years later, we went through the woods in April. The horse's hooves filled up with snow. We hit a patch of ice and skated for a while. I do not foresee a third horseride.
  4. I have never known what to do with children. God, in His Infinite Wisdom, gave me none.
  5. I would be ecstatic if I were given permission to hibernate from November until April.
  6. Husband and I built a 1700SF house using credit card money. When it was finished we got a home equity loan and paid off the credit cards.
  7. I left a solid career and waited tables for fourteen years, leaving only because I broke my leg. I think everybody should wait tables as a sole source of income for a year. It teaches excellent lessons in carrying on with a smile despite every difficulty.
  8. I believe animals are smarter, more trustworthy, and more able to meet Life's demands, than are most people.
  9. I know the difference between "comprise" and "compose," and that they are not interchangeable. (11/30/2010:  Upon further reading, I learned that this was an untrue conceit on my part.)
  10. And, from the sublime to the ridiculous....I think apple cider vinegar is the A1 best remedy for acid indigestion.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A book, a bus, and an aqua robe

I began reading a new book last night. 
New to me. You knew that. It's called That Old Cape Magic, and I think I'm going to like it.
It's always in the first few pages that I taste the flavor of the words and catch the mood. After that, I'm all too tied up (one hopes) in the story to remark upon each turn of phrase. 
In this story, something "hove into view." I hardly ever read anybody writing about things heaving, into view or otherwise, and "hove" is a word that caught my eye. I had to stop and think of what it was the past tense; that's how long it's been. 
So that's all about that. 

When I was twelve I rode the school bus every day from the village to the town, to the central school. The last leg of the journey took us through a residential development. At the time the houses were new-ish, certainly newer in style than any house I'd ever lived in. One house in particular, a corner house, with odd exterior angles and irregularly-shaped and -placed windows, interested me. 
And one day, as the bus passed that house, I saw . . . a woman, sitting at the kitchen table, her arms raised to hold a widely-spread newspaper. It was a sunny morning, and the warm September light flowed through the big window onto her table, onto her arms and the paper. The windowsill was low, nearly floor-level, and I saw that she relaxed in her chair, her legs crossed. Here's the detail that has become iconic to me: she wore a long, silky, aqua-colored robe and matching slippers. I made up a whole life for that woman, based on having seen her relaxing at her new house kitchen table at 7:40am on a weekday, having a cup of coffee and reading a newspaper, and wearing a long aqua robe. 
She would be mother to someone my age, wife to a handsome, kind, and financially successful man. She would be in complete comfortable control of her home and her schedule . . . which would not be overly demanding . . . lots of hair appointments. After she finished the newspaper she would swipe a sponge along her spotless kitchen counter, float off to take a bath and dress in tidy tailored casual slacks and sweater, and telephone her friends to laugh lightheartedly over the small news of their days and talk about what they would serve for dinner. She would have a coterie of other similarly wealthy and well-housed and -heeled friends and they would share stories of their family's successes. It was obvious to me that anybody who wore a silky long aqua nightgown in a big window in her kitchen in the broad morning light must be hugely confident and secure in every way, living a perfectly comfortable life. Nothing bad had ever, or would ever, happen to her.
Of course I  never knew the woman, and I can't even remember, now, the name of the road. I could find it again, and I could look at that house again, if I wanted to. I bet it would seem dated and shabby to me now. And now I know that nobody lives a life such as I imagined for her.
But I still want a long, silky, aqua-colored robe and matching slippers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A failure to communicate

Husband continues his communication obfuscation, previously revealed here and here.  He often speaks in code, and I must wait until he finishes speaking, and from the context, try to discern his meaning. 

We've been bringing in wood in preparation for The Cold and Dark Season. He brings tractor bucketloads to the screen porch; I stack it. It's getting close in there, and we were negotiating about where the bucketloads should be dropped so I would have room to stack. He came inside and told me, "I put the wood on that side (arm gesture) of the wall so you can stack it on the other side (arm gesture) of the wall."
Code key:  Wall = Porch

Husband has been buying woodworking tools, and recently found a needed safety part online. He mentioned an email he'd received from the seller, and said to me, "His PayPal address is at the end of the machine."
Code key:  Machine = Message

The language of woodworking leaves me in a swirling fog of confusion, and he's speaking that language now, frequently: jig, and fence, and kerf... 
I know what a jig is: it's a dance.
And I know what a fence is. Or I used to.
A kerf? What?

Pretty soon I think I'll give up and stop trying to  communicate verbally with him at all.  We'll move around each other like two dogs, sending and interpreting our intentions with the set of our ears or eyebrows. 
The tail thing will be a problem.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

21 Names for Your New Baby

Popularity Trend
for Holden
from 1900 to 2009

In the last ten years, only one couple I know has named their son something a little off the beaten track of first names. They named their first born Holden. Refreshing, to hear something other than Michael, Matthew, Zachary, Jeremy, or Sean.  Apparently, though, Holden is on the upswing in popularity.  
Bad news.

I'm tired of the same old names.
In memory, it seems as if every girl in my elementary school years had one of five names: Karen, Barbara, Debbie, Patricia or Linda. Those seem to have gone mildly out of fashion, but they're old standards.  I challenge you to find any group of fifteen females under the age of twenty-five containing fewer than four Jennifers, three Kaylas, and five Amandas. (It seems, may all the saints be praised, that Heather, at long last, has passed from popularity.)

I'm not so much in favor of completely off-the-wall names, either.
I know a woman who was named after a character on a soap opera.  Spicy name, American as apple pie, or French toast, or bread pudding, but odd. Husband thinks it sounds like a  stripper's stage name. It is my belief that a person ought not to be named after a fictional television character.
I worked with a young man who named his child a made up sound that he and his significant other liked. To me, the name sounded like a conglomeration of the name of a racetrack in Florida, Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald's given name, and a primitive percussion instrument.  I wondered how the child would ever get through school without correcting, a hundred times a day, the pronunciation, never mind the spelling, of her appellation. Or maybe it wouldn't matter to her. Maybe she'd continue her parents' laissez-faire attitude and let people pronounce and spell her name however they could. How would she know to what sound she should respond?

I haven't recently looked at those little "100 Names for Your Baby" books displayed for sale next to the supermarket checkout, and I wonder what they're suggesting now. I daresay that whatever's in those books, we'll be seeing a lot of in the next few years.  
If I were in a position to influence the naming of any infants, I'd suggest a return to some of the really old names. 
Make his or her name mean something! 
Provide the child with something up to which to live!
Make the kid stand out when his teacher calls his name: "Aloysius!"
Have you met recently, for example, any infants with these names?
I know you would expect to look into the baby carriage and see a tiny girl with tightly permed hair and plastic-framed glasses, or a baby boy with a comb-over and prominent neck tendons, but you'd get over that, wouldn't you?

Friday, November 5, 2010

“Despair is most often the offspring of ill-preparedness” ~Don Williams, Jr.

Last spring my doctor told me that he had scheduled me for a particular medical screening that we, of a certain age, should have and to which we never look forward with happy anticipation.  You know the one:  It's the one where the doctor sends a television crew in the exit door and travels Where No One Has Gone Before in search of tiny mushrooms that, if found, must be removed.  It's the one where they always say, "Oh, it's nothing. The prep is far worse than the actual procedure."

In my case, others have been there before. Twice. It didn't faze me. A piece of cake. Old hat. 
Unpleasant in the preparation . . . an intense but relatively short process, all things considered, but once everything in there is all nice and clean it's . . . interesting . . . to watch the monitor to see inside of my very own Odessa Catacombs.

So I'd done the prep before; I knew what to do.  I thought.  Until I picked up the prescription from the pharmacy last Tuesday after work. Instead of a small 16-ounce bottle, like the last time I enjoyed this process, the pharmacist handed over a jug the size of my head with a couple of cups of powdery stuff in it. 
All right, I thought. I can do this. It's the same thing. Just more of it. Okay.
I toted my parcel home and opened the envelope that had arrived a week before. I had thought it was simply confirmation of my appointment.  Oh-ho no! The envelope held the instructions for my Prep, the process of which had expanded, in the three years since my last appointment of this nature, from one evening of Lovely Beverage Drink & Drain to a twenty-four hour period during which I had been supposed not to eat. Anything.  
I had eaten lunch, and upon arriving home, while I had unfolded and read the instructions, I snacked on the very tiniest piece of leftover baked sweet potato. Including the lovely crispy . . . skin.
"Oh. Well," I thought. "I know how this goes. There is no chance that anything could be left behind après le déluge."
I dissolved the powder in water. A lot of water, to fill that jug. I added the tiny packet of Delicious Lemon Flavor. And at 6pm commenced to drink, every ten minutes, eight ounces of the stuff. Le déluge followed, as expected, and I grew paler and colder as the hours passed. And cleaner!  You know the crude, rude saying, "He thinks his s__t don't stink?" Mine truly didn't.
I finished off the Gigantic Jug of Lovely Beverage, swallowed the three little tablets that would complete the process, and tottered off to bed, where I slept . . . very lightly. 

Wednesday morning, I had a cup of coffee, black, as permitted, black coffee being a "clear liquid." 
I did not bother with makeup: all the products were too heavy for me to lift to face height. My eyes looked like tiny burned holes in the puffs of eyelid: there's a lot of sodium in that Lovely Beverage. I looked a little like the undead with a head cold. But who cared, really? The object of observation would be nowhere near my face. And off we went, Husband as designated driver to get me home in a couple of hours when, presumably, I would be happily out of it to one degree or another.
I checked in at the clinic, wobbled to the elevator and to the nurses' station and limply handed over the yard of sticky labels. I exchanged my clothing for paper slippers and the easy-access cotton gown and delivered myself to the room where the fantastic voyage would take place.  The blood pressure cuff went on, the IV went in, I answered the thousand questions that must be answered. I signed the paper that said, "If I die, I won't blame you." I admitted that I had not avoided food the previous day
The nurse lowered her clipboard, looked at me, and said, "You didn't." 
I looked at her.
The doctor arrived, said, "I understand that you didn't follow the instructions exactly."
"Yes, that's right. I didn't. But I'm quite sure I'm prepared."
The doctor disagreed, and suggested postponement of the procedure. "With your history, and blah blah blah..."
I looked at her.
She looked at me kindly, but unyielding.
"Oh, poop," I said.
"Exactly," she returned.

Husband brought me home, delivered food to my gaping mouth and sent me to bed. 
I get to do the whole thing over again in January. At which time I'll open the envelope when it arrives. And follow the instructions.

Well, hell. 
It's a day off work.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A few Husband stories

The woodstove has officially been fired up for the season.  With the overnight lows down far enough to kick the furnace into hyperactivity, it is Time. 

Last spring I scooped out most of the ash. I left some in there because I have learned that a little bit of ash helps the fire take hold. I don't know why that's the case, but that's been my experience. 
Husband, by contrast, is anal very conscientious about cleaning things that can't help being dirty; he felt that the firebox needed more preparation for the incoming dusty, bark-falling-off-in-bits-at-the-slightest-touch firewood. He likes to start with a spandy clean firebox.  He cleaned out every last ash; he might have vacuumed and washed it down with soap and water, I'm not sure. It makes him happy. The fire's caught and the house is warm, and I was not present while he did whatever he did, so I'm happy too. 

I slept my usual odd weekend hours last Saturday night, and before I went back to bed at 5:30am I hauled out the industrial size slow cooker and levered in a hunk of beef that had thawed long enough to need cooking soon. When I woke up at 8:30, it smelled to me . . . like Christmas morning . . . with the cozy waft of roasting meat winding tendrils of brown savory goodness up the stairs. Husband had been up for a while, and as I poured my coffee, I asked him, "What did you think when you woke up and smelled beef cooking?" 
I wasn't hoping for extravagant compliments on my housewifely skills, but I expected something along the lines of, perhaps, "It smelled good."
The sensualist to whom I am married thought for a minute, searching his memory for his exact thought upon waking, and answered, "I smell beef cooking."

I am pleased to report that for some time now I have been able to keep control of the laundry. Not even the odd sock has exited the dryer through the invisible portal to the alternate universe where socks go. In the past much larger garments have vanished. For a while every time I did the laundry, another pair of Husband's jeans disappeared.  Less to put away, but puzzling for me to see his stack of jeans dwindling there in the closet. In frustration one day I asked him where his jeans were disappearing to. He paused to consider and murmured, "Let's see . . . what night did I come home without pants on?"

Husband is beginning to remind me of my uncle Red. One morning at breakfast, my aunt offered more coffee, and as she filled his cup, cautioned, "It's the bottom of the pot."  Red tasted, stretched his lips to a flat line and sucked in air at the corners. "Tastes like it," he said.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


For too many days last week and the week before and, it seems, back into living memory, there was rain here. Or, if not rain, dreary damp chilly days.
It is raining right now, at 3am, and I am feeling so good. 
I have the doors open.
It is sixty-four degrees. At 3am. 
The air smells fresh and feels good on my skin.
It feels like a summer night.
The plink and drum of the landing fat drops is satisfying, and by turns escalates to a soft white-noise thrum. 

I'll be going back to sleep soon, washed and soothed by this lullaby.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Running Away

 I'm reading two books. One is The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family and the other is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I believe it was Decca Mitford who, in her mid-teens, established a Running-Away Fund at the local bank. And fictional Juliet Ashton, in Guernsey, twice ran away from her childhood home with her uncle. 
All that running away reminded me...

When I was very small, younger than school age, I ran away regularly. Somebody would hurt my feelings and I would pack my small plaid plastic suitcase with God-knows-what and set off up the dirt road. Sometimes I slammed the screen door and sometimes I left quietly, perhaps with a sad little sigh.  My mother always came after and caught up with me, hunkered down and talked me out of my snit. And we would walk home again.  And then one day she didn't.
I couldn't believe it.
I reached the shade on the summer dirt road, halfway up the hill . . . and she wasn't behind me. She was nowhere in sight. 
I dawdled. 
I sat down on a stone wall and waited, to give her adequate opportunity to come and make up for whatever had gone wrong in my world. 
It seemed like an hour. It probably was ten minutes.
She didn't come.
I had no place to go. It was a long trip back down the hill, my little shoulders drooping down under the weight of  the knowledge that not only did they hurt my feelings, but they didn't care if I stayed or went. 
I think that was the end of my running away.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cosmos forest

There were fifteen minutes of sunshine yesterday. I missed seven and one-half of them, but the seven and one-half that remained were glorious.  These cosmos didn't bloom all summer. They grew. And grew. And grew. Into a huge ferny forest. They have trunks instead of stems. When the weather turned cool, they burst into bloom, and show no sign of retreat.

For a few moments I could close my eyes, feel the sun on my face, and listen to the buzzing of the bees...
And pretend it was summer again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Let there be light. Please!

I've been funking for several days. The cold wind, the white-gray sky, the early dark (soon to become earlier darker, DST ending on 11/7), the care of aging animals, two evening meetings that were . . . difficult . . . to live through, not to mention the tedium of preparing the minutes, which, in these cases, I feel, need to be verbatim. It wears me down. During the week I had one of my rarely-indulged twelve-hour sleeps: went to bed at 7pm and stayed there, mostly unconscious, until time to get up and, once again, shoulder my yoke. 
The season of dry hands, dry skin everywhere, has arrived. Lotioning, as an activity, is not so luxurious in the dark and cold as it is in the balmy warmth of summer. 
Life has not been fun.

Deprived of sun, I have turned to illusive sources of light and warmth. I dig in the jewelry box for all the sparkly things that I own. Pearl and silver and faceted jewelry, the prisms of color and glimmers of light provide remembrance of human-friendly seasons. Pearly-pale nail polish to reflect any stray glimmer of illumination in my environment. I have discovered sparkly body lotions: gold, silver, pink.
Arrayed in my faux glow I emerge luminous as the interior of an oyster shell.

Remember that gaudy colorful bracelet? Wore it yesterday, received compliments from fellow color addicts. I could recognize them by their glazed eyes as they stared hypnotized by the jewel tones.
Listen: We take our pleasures where we find them.

I have run through every possible eBay item I might want and am now shopping for things for friends. Told Little B yesterday: "I bought you a couple of nightgowns. If you don't like them, we'll give them to the poor people."
"Why are you buying me nightgowns?"
"Oh . . . they were a good deal..."

Yesterday, in the shop that specializes in fitting those of us who are breast-challenged, a fortuitous introduction to an eighty-something woman twenty-six years further along in this experience. Baring of, comparing, what remains of former bosoms, sharing of stories, tears of gratitude and celebration and empathy. Sometimes just the right person appears at just the right time. Sounds dramatic, doesn't it? It was, in a minor this-is-my-world-now way.

And now it's Saturday, the forecast is for "milder with some sun" and 58*F. Today I will be able to be see and feel the sunshine, freed as I am from the week-long office captivity.  A respite from the long clawing-through-winter that has barely begun.