Ponder this:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Yet Another Turkey Story

It was back to work today, the doctor's note only having released me "until 3/29." I attempted but couldn't quite achieve a belief that "until 3/29" could mean "through 3/29."  I considered, too, amending the date on the note to "3/30," but I think that would be illegal. 
Which wouldn't have hindered me if I thought I could have gotten away with it.

Tomorrow is Listen To The Lungs Day, after which, if I am judged to be "still wheezy," I may be prescribed Prednisone. I devoutly hope not to have to use it since I know a woman, poor soul, who has some condition that requires regular steroid use. Her face looks like a blown-up balloon, one eye puffed shut. I can't imagine how I would apply makeup to make that a good look for me, so I plan on using my handy dandy albuterol inhaler immediately before the Lung Listening.

Sitting upright for seven and a half hours almost did me in, I must say, after several days of napping at will. And now I'm trying to hold off bedtime sleepiness so as to enjoy my evening. Soothing windy and rainy weather sounds are conspiring against me, and all I have to ponder to keep bedtime at bay is yet another turkey story.

Late yesterday afternoon the turkey flock was on parade.  I looked, at just the right moment, down the field and saw a few hens grazing their way through the hedgerow, followed by two toms in full array, hesitation stepping, side by side. So stately was their procession that I had the impression that somebody in the group should have been carrying a banner. 
I've come to believe that those two are younger toms showing off for each other.  The large old four star general was way out in front of the flock.  He appears neither impressed nor intimidated and doesn't bother to engage in all that wasteful posturing. When push shall come to shove in the mating game, he most assuredly knows all the tricks, and showing off your big puffy feathers isn't what gets the job done.

Even after daily sightings of the group, they transfix me.  I stood and gazed out the window, exclaiming softly. Max poodle, much too small to be able to see out the window, but certainly attuned to any interest that pulls attention even for a moment from his own small apricot self, and never far from High Alert, knew there was Something Out There To Which Attention Must Be Paid.  I was able to reach and open the door before he crashed through it to stand fully and stiffly extended, facing northeast and barking, barking . . . in a slightly bewildered tone, the flock of fowl being around the house to the southwest and therefore completely invisible to him. 
The hens listened for a few seconds and decided that the source of that annoying sound would eventually discover their location. (They haven't had a lot of exposure to Max's guarding technique.) The general led the hens off to the south, across the width of the field, the two young soldiers forming the rear guard. The flock disappeared through the brush that surrounds the stone wall bordering the field.
The two young stalwarts stopped, still in perfect side-by-side formation, and  remained motionless in the opening for the length of time that it took for the family to find their way to safer ground.  Then they too melted away.

What a show.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just something to help me ease down into sleep

I am  antsy and agitated, bored and boring, crotchety and cranky.
I fall asleep over my book, turn out the light, turn over. And wake up.
I feel chilled, pull the covers over my shoulder. And begin to feel sticky.
This is why:  The moon is waxing, 95% of full.
What to do...?
If I were a cat I would be roaming the house and yowling.
I decide to give up on "bed" and write something.

If it were warm outdoors, a hot summer night, I would go outside and wander around barefoot, lie on the grass and stare at the lit-up landscape.  On a clear moonlit night, the trees look bigger, sounds carry farther. I would know what's afoot in the old orchard at the bottom of the field.

I have been ill. A virus that swelled in mere minutes into a full peony blossom of a cold and settled in my sinuses and in my bronchi.  I am mostly past the wheezy stage, thanks to an arsenal of medications. During the worst of it, I regressed emotionally to six years old.  I wanted my mother, sitting on the edge of the bed, running her fingers through my hair over and over again, speaking in soft tones about nothing.
I tried running my own fingers through my hair: it isn't the same.

I saw a coyote in the morning two days ago while I waited for the dogs to wend their way indoors from the front yard. It was strolling uphill in the field between the house and the road. I wanted Husband's gun, not to shoot it . . . I couldn't hit anything smaller than the house . . . but to make our environs noisily inhospitable.  Lacking anything more noisy than myself, I yelled unintelligible sounds, and clapped my hands to make as much of a rifle sound as hands can. I jumped up and down and waved my arms. The coyote heard, stopped, looked at me from the quarter-mile distance.
He looked for a little longer than I wished him to. But then he dropped his head and took up a slow lope toward the top of the field until he was out of sight.  I suspect he was put off more by the sight of a leaping, yelling crazy woman than by any fear of harm.
Pretty little thing, he was. But I want him no closer than he was to me and my dogs.

The robins, red chests all fat and round, have been scouring the yard for days, reminding me of The Gleaners.  

A few times a day during these days of Bad Breathing, I suit up and go outdoors to wander the perimeter of the yard with the dogs in the deceptive sun. It's colder than the golden light makes it appear, but just right for my out-of-order respiratory system.  There isn't mud smell yet; too early and too chilly. But neither is there the scent of snow in the air.  
I wander the way I did as a child: over there to see if the bluebird houses have tenants, a little farther to pick up branches fallen from the locust trees. There is a branch twisted loose enough to hang down, but not broken, partially blocking one of the bluebird houses.  I think the bluebirds won't like that, so I pull on the end that's near the ground.  But it needs a saw and it's too high to cut without a ladder. Ladder-carrying is beyond my interest and capabilities, so I leave it, and wander on. 
I watch the ground under my steps. Most of the yard has solidified, but in spots my feet make prints surrounded by pressed-out water. If I were six, I would imagine I were a giant stepping over the earth.
There's something greening up in the garden. I suspect it's a weed, but it's green.  I so long to see green that I leave it and make a note to trowel it out on a later trip.
A red-tailed hawk perches in a tree, waiting for some four-legged meal to appear. He allows me much closer  than I expect and I stare upward at him, all gathered into himself, part of the tree in which he waits motionless. Finally he spreads his wings and flaps twice, with the slightest of feather sounds, flies off.  I don't know if I've made him feel crowded or if he's simply off to check other hunting grounds.

Since I'm out and moving, I bring in some wood from the shed, justifying my continued existence: Two trips, seven pieces of wood. I let them fall, bumping and banging into the woodbox and take off my jacket, hang it by the door. 

I have three novels half-read. Begin one, take it upstairs for napping, forget to bring it downstairs, start another. That one takes more concentration than I can spare, so a third comes off the shelf. My mind weaves together plot and characters from all three so that it takes several pages of each to orient myself to whatever book is in hand.

All this desultory motion, and not much product to count up at the end of the day. 
Exactly like being six years old again.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Morning visitors to our fields

Two toms, one preparing to display...

See how the one on the left angles his display toward his rival?

"Just look at me...I am the handsomest tom in the flock!"

The stately strut dance around each other...
but making sure the ladies see how large and powerful they can make themselves...

Both males displaying like mad and the passing hen, distinctly unimpressed...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"I'm not confused, I'm just well mixed." ~Robert Frost

I am becoming addled.
I have witnesses.

#1  T, my cleaner person came last Wednesday. The day of her previous visit, two weeks prior, she had phoned to say that the check I had left for her was written for more than I owed her. 
"Reeeeeally?" I asked. "Okay, just keep that and I'll pay you the difference next time." 
Last Tuesday evening and I wrote the check for the difference, put the check in an envelope marked "T," sealed the envelope, and threaded the sealed envelope containing the check through the loop of the paper towel holder that sits on the counter.  (...that lay in the house that Jack built.)
When I got home Wednesday afternoon, T's envelope, with the check atop it, lay on the clean kitchen counter. I  immediately thought, "She must have left it because she forgot that I overpaid her. She must have thought I was shorting her!" I imagined T in high dudgeon, offended that I would pay her less than I owed her with no explanation. With all that circling in my mind, I worked up my courage and phoned her. 
"Hi T, it's June. You left your check. Did I misunderstand?"
"Yesss, June. Remember you overpaid me? So you didn't owe me anything this time."
"But don't I normally pay you $1xx.00? ...and I wrote that check two weeks ago for $2xx.00?"
"Noooo, June. You pay me  $xx.00, and last time your check was for $1xx.00, so you owed me nothing this time, and next time you'll only owe me $xx.00. And then we'll be straightened out."
"Ohhhh...." I said.

#2  Relieved to know that all was in order with T, I hung up and opened the refrigerator to see that Husband, who would be away overnight, had used the last of the milk. I phoned him to ask if he'd arrived at his destination yet. He hadn't, he told me; he was still fifty miles from the end of his trip. 
"And oh, by the way," I said, "I can't believe you used the last of the milk and didn't tell me so I could buy some on the way home."
"I did?" he asked, shocked. "I don't remember doing that."
"Well, there's an empty jug in the trash and there's no milk on the shelf in the refrigerator."  
It suddenly occurred to me that sometimes Husband, operating in Husband Manner, puts the jug of milk in the shelf on the inside of the fridge door, where the jug of water lives, instead of on the shelf where the jug of milk habitually resides.  Phone carrying Husband's voice still to my head, I opened the refrigerator again. There was the milk jug in the shelf on the door.
"Ohhhh," I sighed to him in relief, "There it is!"

#3  As I've mentioned here before, both dogs get daily medication. Thyroid med for Angus, heart med for Max. I seem to run out of Max's pills far more often than I do Angus' pills, so I wasn't surprised that I had come to the bottom of Max's pill bottle in what seemed like a very short time. On Thursday I went to work and when the vet's office opened, I called to tell S, the receptionist, that I needed more Max Pills.
"June, I know. They're right here. You already called."
"I did?"
"Yes," said S, chuckling. "You called on the . . . (checking her records) . . . fourth of the month."
"I did?"  I was nearly speechless. "Did I pick them up?"
"No, they're still right here."
We were both giggling by this time, she in amusement, I in near-hysteria, thinking, "What is happening to my mind?!?!"

I remembered, then, having gone to the office to pick up the phoned-for Max Pills, and having to wait a few minutes for them to be prepared, which I thought very unusual. Normally, the meds are waiting right at the receptionist's counter and it's an in-and-out stop. After my first call, I must have arrived in the window of time between the request being sent to the back and the prescription having made its way to the front counter.  And now the originally-requested prescription was waiting for me. 

On that last one, that #3 there, that's my story. 
And I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

in just-

This whole past week has been sunny and increasingly mild, culminating yesterday, appropriately on a Freedom From Workweek Friday, with sixty degrees of sun. The softness of the velvety air made my skin feel all ripply. I know how the birds feel, yelling their exuberance at the lush promise of the season. Between my roadside mailbox and my driveway, the snowmelt runs down the sides of the country road. As I turned off the road I stopped the car to soak up the sound of the water burbling over the driveway's shale, roiling and bubbling as it ran gushing into the ditch.

I put the car in the barn, dropped the mail on the counter and the dogs and I burst outdoors for a walk . . . something we haven't been able to do for months.  We've been able to step-step, slide-slip, tiptoe and trudge for a long time, but a walk has been impossible or impossibly uncomfortable.  Off we skipped down the driveway, the dogs far ahead of me, thrilling to be out and not quivering with cold, sucking and snorting up all the snow-buried smells that have been opened to their eager noses, reading all the news of the winter that we hope is past.  Up the road, keeping clear of the rivulets (me), and duck-paddlefoot-slapping through them (dogs), we went. I found a sturdy stick just the right length and, in the ancient country tradition of late winter, poked the leftover rotted snow into the roadside runnel and cleared oak leaf obstructions out of the way of the water, watched swirls of mud appear and disperse. It occurred to me that I might be helping the road wash away, but how satisfying to be helping Spring come in!

The upper driveway is still too deep in snow to make a loop of our walk, so upon reaching its mouth we reversed and returned. 
It was hardly an aerobic exercise, this walk . . . too many stops to wash my senses in the gifts of such a day.  
It might not have done my body any good . . . but oh! what it did for my soul!
 in just-

      in Just-
      spring       when the world is mud-
      luscious the little
      lame balloonman
      whistles       far       and wee
      and eddieandbill come
      running from marbles and
      piracies and it's
      when the world is puddle-wonderful
      the queer
      old balloonman whistles
      far       and       wee
      and bettyandisbel come dancing
       from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
      balloonMan       whistles
      e.e. cummings

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Being able to forget is a blessing.

From year to year, I forget how cold winter is. 
I forget how the first rush of springtime goes directly from my grateful eyes to my sinus cavities.
That being so, I always look forward to the next season.

Forgetting where the corner of the closet wall is, and getting up in the dark in a rush to the Little Room: Not such a blessing.
My toes squashed against the baseboard, I recoiled backward, one arm outstretched in front of me, the other windmilling to the back. 
I stopped, reoriented my suddenly wakeful self, and started over.
You will be relieved, as I was, to know that the trip was completed successfully.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and 

until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Giant what-eating plants?

Step aside, Sir John Harrington, Alexander Cummings, Thomas Crapper...
Okay, maybe it doesn't flush, but it gets the job done, and in a more completely ecologically sound way. 
Quite pretty, too!
                            A large N. raja pitcher awaits its fill
A large N. raja pitcher awaits its fill

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Your tea is cold now. You drink it standing up, and leave the house.

Some of you are going to dislike me after you read this.

I did not have a good Natal Family Experience. I am not one who has ever had an urge to buy little pillows that say, "My sister, My friend," for example. I do not feel, as some others do, an automatic visceral bond with blood relatives. I have not found that blood is thicker than water.         
I subscribe to the belief that friends are the family you choose. All of that is, no doubt, part of my difficulty in understanding the unquestioning parental devotion to offspring.

My coworker's cellphone rings every day at four o'clock, her eighteen-year-old daughter calling to say she's safely completed the five-minute trip from home to work. No matter what's happening in the office, that call is taken joyfully. A short conversation ensues, concludes with "I love you, Sweetie. I'll see you later." It is proper to think well of  such a connection. It's a good parent who is interested in and available to a child's report of where she is, what she's doing, how she's feeling. After all, we are all familiar with the sociologists' reports on the result of parents who lack any involvement in their children's lives. It augurs well for the child growing into an adult to have someone who is always delighted to hear his or her voice, always interested in the little daily events in the adolescent life.

Here is my shamefaced admission: Overhearing that daily phone call annoys me. 

Intellectually I know that such a connection is laudable and healthy. My emotional reaction is that it's silly and treacly. An eighteen-year-old ought to be able to make a five-minute trip without reporting in for grateful congratulation. At some point, it seems to me, offspring would become simply Other People, and I would be hard-pressed to receive, daily, a solicitation of my attention from some Other Person for a report on his whereabouts, particularly when the whereabouts are within five minutes of both parties.
Emotionally I cannot grasp how major life decisions . . . whether or not to take a well-paying job far from home, or whether or not to establish a new relationship with a completely suitable significant other, for example, can reasonably be driven by the effect it has on The Beloved Child. 
"I'm not ready to ruin my child's life." 
"What? Let the kid roll with it!" I want to say. 
God knows I learned to roll early enough and I'm still here to tell the tale.
Definitely a symptom of arrested development on my part, and mean-spirited perhaps, and  but there it is.

My coworker told me once, "Having a child is not like having a pet!  From the time they're born, you're responsible for keeping them alive!" I don't know how that differs from having a pet, but presumably that's because I don't have children. It is a whole category of existence unknown to me, a proud private club to which I am not admitted. The Good Parent's attitude seems to be that the offspring never becomes a being apart; the Good Parent never sees that the offspring is no longer six years old.

I know from whence my reaction comes, and what it signifies: It is envy.  Having grown up without that solicitousness, even at my advanced age, I still want to be the child who has One Person who lives and dies by the continuation of my respiration. I always wanted that, and I never felt that I was. So I'm jealous of such a relationship. But for whatever reason, I just don't get it.

I'll stand right here while you gather stones with which to pelt me into unconsciousness.

Post title from Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Last Wednesday I drove home from the office, thinking about the 7:30pm meeting for which I would be returning to work. Thinking, "At least it will still be light enough that slogging out of the house to the car to leave for work for a second time today won't feel quite so bleak." 
I let the dogs out and set about the painstaking task of bringing in a few armloads of firewood. 
Husband established our plan for firewood use: We use the wood from the pile closest to the house and work toward the back, thus taking the oldest and driest wood first. When a new delivery comes, it will be stacked at the front, and then we'll work from the part of the stockpile that is farthest from the house, letting the new stuff age until satisfactory cracks appear, indicating sufficient curing not to gunk up the chimney.
Enough of the oldest wood has been used now that access to the firewood requires me to walk over the wooden pallets that supported the ABB (already-been-burned) fuel. Those pallets are covered with curved shells of fallen bark. Some of the pallets' boards are broken, and some are a little weak . . .  

. . . strong enough to support an evenly distributed weight of firewood but perhaps not reliably structurally sound enough to support the weight of (even very large) feet with concentrated vertical weight atop them.  I step carefully, aiming for the thickest piles of bark, since they distribute my weight over the greatest area of palletage. I place my feet, whenever possible, where the top boards intersect with their supporting joists. I load up my arms with three, four, sometimes five woodstove-size logs and turn, a degree at a time, to return over the pallets to the solid ground of the driveway, thence to the front porch. 
Always, at some point during my travels, I wonder why I didn't slip my cell phone into my pocket . . . just in case I were to break through and do injury to myself.

You think you know what's coming, don't you?

I had completed one successful gathering and was heading back for more wood when I heard...
What was that?
...did I hear...?
Could it be?

I stopped, turned, scanned the treetops.
Far over across the road, in the top of a tree . . . yes! A red-winged blackbird, in his characteristic hunchbacked posture. 
Calling Okaleeeee! Okaleeeeee!   
(The call sounds, to me, like SweeeetBrrrrrrrrrrrSweeeetBrrrrrrrrrrr, but the experts say that what I'm hearing is "Okalee.")
The red-winged blackbirds are back. 
The blackbirds are back!
Good weather is coming.
My pallet-stepping grew more confident and the logs grew lighter as I chose hunks of it to swing, one-handed, up into the load in my left arm.

On Thursday morning I passed a group of three or four crows, one with a tangle of dry grass in its beak: nest-building!
The male woodpeckers are drumming, drumming, advertising for potential females the strength of their beaks. 

It will be weeks before the woodshed becomes an unimportant feature of my day-to-day life. But oh! it's coming!
Spring is coming.

The little birds have told me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The old Dell

I wrote once about The Demise of the Dell, but in that post I concentrated more on Uniting With the New HP than on the death of the old laptop. 
Many photos and journal entries are still locked inside that old machine. The poor thing doesn't know when I've inserted a cd, so I can't pull off the memory. I need a professional to do that and I haven't asked one yet. Knowing what I know, I wonder why I don't do backup cds with this HP laptop. Silly.
Look at this poor old thing. 
 See where the arrow key at the lower right fell off? I was able to reattach it several times (it had little folding legs on the bottom that reminded me of an antique wood-and-canvas folding lawn chair) and finally gave up and became accustomed to using that key without the smooth flat surface of its cover/face/whatever it's called.
See the darkened spots at both sides from my forearms and the heels of my hands?  ...and how the blue is completely worn off on the left-click button?
See the dust and filth embedded in the corners of the touchpad and in between the keys?  
It's like looking at my life: Wounded and worn and cluttered up with the detritus of old food crumbs, old cigarettes, old dust . . . and inside, years of pictures and memories.  
The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been.  ~Madeleine L'Engle 

Saturday, March 6, 2010


There is a large golden object in the sky: It must what we used to call the Sun. 
It's wonderful, awesome!

The snow is melting and I used the shovel to chop off hunks of it to clear a little more of the front porch. There are clear spots in the driveway so I can frog hop from one to another to make my way from car to house and vice versa. 

It is warm enough, at forty-one-degrees-with-sun to have gone to the supermarket jacketless. Everybody's smiling and chatting instead of hunkering down turtle-like into their coat collars, with eyes squinted against frigid gusts of iced air. As I exited the store, one of the managers was coming in. He held out his arms, palms up, looked at the sky and exulted: It's not snowing!

I want more!
I am greedy for sun!