Ponder this:

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thank you, Moira

For months, I've been thinking frequently of a particular family who lived down the country road from my home in the 1950s. David was in my class at school, and I remember that in first or second grade he had bright red chinos with a buckle in back. David was solemn and studious. I don't have many memories of his laughing. Our school was across the road from the volunteer fire company. David's father was a member, and David knew the significance of all the siren combinations. "It's a bad one," he'd say with authority, as the siren howled eight times or ten times. "That's for mutual aid." He had three sisters, one of whom was a year or two younger and whose apple cheeks and curly dark hair I remember very clearly, and another two, who were beautiful little strawberry blonds, but really too young to be on my radar. That family was part of our neighborhood . . . an old family who, like us, had owned the land for generations back . . . and summers had us trudging up the hill down the hill around the corner by the one-room schoolhouse that Dad had gone to (and was then falling down) over to their house. Red wasn't mean, but he was a real old-time Irish patriarch. He took his parenting duty seriously. I remember his backhanding David's head if he perceived any hint of disrespect coming from that quarter. He didn't do it very often, but the thought of anybody's father whacking him a glancing (but still, pretty solid) blow on the back of the head shocked me, so the memory stuck. Sometimes, all of us kids would go over to Red's parents' old farm where he still kept cows. The old farmhouse stood in the pasture, windows gone, porch floorboards askew. "You kids stay out of there!" Red would call, and if we'd been having any thought of going inside the spooky old house, we immediately dismissed them.

Moira was the mother of the family, at once serious and cheerful. She had long dark hair that she twisted up behind her head, and ruddy cheeks and, like me, a space between her upper front teeth. I hated my space, but on her it looked good. I remember her always at the kitchen table mending things or at the kitchen sink, beginning to get supper ready. We called her Maura for a long time until one day she said, in her quiet voice, "My name is really Moira. It's an Irish name." I was fascinated. It was as if she had become a different person, exotic. I remember that she spoke to me as if I were a person and not a little kid. I remember her telling me about when she'd been baptized in the old-fashioned full-immersion style . . . and how she'd known it was coming but how surprised she'd been all the same. 

One day, the September after Dad died, I got home from school and was dismayed when, a short time later, Red's truck drove in the driveway. Mom was working and at ten I had already formed the habits of solitude and of hiding like a rabbit. Red went to the barn to do something and the dark-haired daughter hollered my name over and over and over again as loud as she could to make me come out and play with her. I hid in my bedroom and finally heard Red say, "If she doesn't want to come out, she doesn't want to come out. Leave her alone."
I was so envious that she still had her father.
We moved away a year later and I've never seen any of them again these fifty years.

So that's all, I guess. 
I've been thinking of them, and thinking of them, and today I read that Moira died two days ago. 

It's funny how the cosmos makes connections across so much space and so much time.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall light

I have often thought that the fall colors of the deciduous trees are the compensation 
Mother Nature gives us for taking away daylight.

Saturday, 9/29/2012 at 8:00am
Sugar maples across driveway from house

Thursday, September 27, 2012

An observation

I know, through my job, a woman who is funny, intelligent, attractive, clean, employed, fit, married. You know . . . normal. I do not do Facebook (is the second syllable supposed to be capitalized?) but over a friend's shoulder I happened to see subject woman's Facebook page, in which she rants about her . . . distaste . . . for a "nanny state." I was surprised by her anger as she is, in person, quite pleasant. This woman lives on a street partly and temporarily populated by students of the local college. The noise, particularly on Thursday nights, well into the wee hours, is making her insane. I know exactly how she feels, having lived across the street from a suburban twenty-four hour supermarket. A few years ago I wrote about those horrors. 

Small Pond has enacted a toothier noise ordinance, and our woman was pleased to hear it. Progress! she felt. She was mightily disappointed when it turned out that the new law does not require public beheadings of suspected noisemakers after one whistle, hiss, holler, etc. In some unrelated correspondence, she asked me if a certain new property owner would be permitted to rent his apartments to college students. I replied that it is illegal to discriminate against any class of people and her response was, verbatim: "blah, blah, blah..."

I conclude that in her eyes, government trying to help other people . . . people who can't support their families on minimum wage jobs, for example . . . is wrong, but government definitely needs to keep college students from waking her up at night. 

Whose line is it and where should it be drawn?
And besides all that, maybe one of those college students will graduate to become a signmaker who can spell. That would be worth a little discomfort in the short run, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Baked Zucchini (aka courgette in the UK) and Tomato Casserole Recipe

My friend B sent me this zucchini/tomato recipe and I cooked it up Sunday afternoon. Instead of the panko bread crumbs, I used some stale homemade Italian herb bread that I chopped up into little dry coarse crumbs. And when I was grabbing herbs from the pantry, I grabbed Adobo seasoning instead of garlic powder. I hardly ever make anything the way I'm told to.

It most definitely does require that (at least) ten minute wait before cutting for it all to firm up. I actually let it sit quite a bit longer than that and it was a little loose. My tomatoes were very ripe and juicy. Next time, I might layer the crumbs among the vegetables. It didn't come out of the pan in perfect little squares. Sure is tasty, though, and the zucchini was nicely al dente. I think this is going into the regular rotation. 
Thanks, B!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I'm just back from my walk in the brisk fall air. The sky is blue with lots and lots of fluffy white clouds scudding by up there, soft gray underbellies smoothed off by the wind. I feel that there is something so sweet about this time of year; the world is so beautiful in a sentimental way. I took my time on my route, not so much because I was feeling slow, but because I wanted to prolong my reason for being out on the dirt road, walking through the alternating tree shadow and bright sun, smelling the scents of cow manure and fermenting corn blown from upwind fields.

I passed Old Frank on my way out. He was trimming the grass around his house. I kept watching for an opportunity to wave, but he didn't look up. On my way back, he was trimming close to the road, so I stepped up next to him, my shadow providing silent notice that he had company. Frank is old: I don't want to surprise him too suddenly. This must be my weekend for conversations with wise old men. He and I had a short political discussion during which both of us complained and neither of us committed to one presidential candidate or the other. We talked about the price of gas, and the questionable value of a college degree, and he confirmed for me that Neighbor Bob has moved out of his house that he built with his own two hands. Bob has one of those horrible diseases, not uncommon, but variable in its victims' symptoms, and he can no longer bring in firewood, plow the driveway, mow his lawn. His wife is not sturdy either, so they've moved west to live nearer relatives. I asked Frank if somebody had bought the house.
"They don't have it for sale yet!" he cried. "There's a lot I could say, but . . . you know..."
Frank apparently feels something's amiss in the arrangement, but he wouldn't criticize his neighbors even if they aren't his neighbors anymore. Frank is a wise old man.
He said, "I collect sayings . . . y'know, I'm old and . . . one of them is 'You can't teach common sense.'"
"We have one we use often at work," I said. "It's 'You can't fix stupid.'"
I don't think we were talking about Bob and his wife. We might have been, but I think we were simply expressing our general agreement about the rest of Those People Out There Who Aren't So Wise As We. Lucky us: we're so smart.

Last night Husband went out for his second walking turn of the day, and just as he reached the end of the first lap, the skies opened and the rain came down in sheets. A car stopped and the couple in it offered him a ride. They were people who live two and a half miles away from us on another dirt road. We didn't know them, and they didn't know Husband, but they took in a soaking wet man and brought him home.

I love where I live.

First, read "Rambles" on Fridge Soup

Reference Rambles.

What I really liked about the elderly gentleman was that, when I said I was there to pick up my resized rings in the magical hope that once they'd been made larger, I would immediately lose so much weight that I would need to have them made smaller again . . . he said, "Oh, that's the least of your worries." 
It was pretty nice being in the company, even for a few minutes, of somebody who had lived long enough to realize that being overweight is not The Worst Thing That A Person Can Let Happen To Her.
Lady Gaga is spotted wearing an outlandish ensemble while leaving the Park Hyatt Paris Vendrome hotel in Paris on September 22, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday, hump day

It is jump-in-the-shower time but the following thoughts occur to me and I don't feel like jumping-in-the-shower right this minute.

Now that the nights are cool . . . high 40s, low 50s . . . I sleep so deeply! It's like going on a slumberous vacation, burrowing under the blankets, nestling my head among the pillows, getting the firm pillows and the soft pillows in exactly the right spots. It's the only part of my 24 hour day that I feel like a princess.

Afternoon boss emailed this morning: won't be in, up all night with chest pain. This is no longer cause for alarm in my heart. He subsists on an hour and a half of sleep per night, if he is to be believed, and he has had heart issues since forever and, most of the time, ignores them. I've been wishing for a come-home-early day and for sure now, today won't be it.

Speaking of heart issues, I went out and did my very short walk this morning. All of fifteen minutes. I do lose my breath quickly, but I also seem to recover it quickly, so I guess that's good. I did not want to go out there this morning. It's dark and damp and not energizing weather, but just because I felt that I might never want to go out and walk again, I did it. By golly! So now I've broken through that mental barrier. So many of those mind games I have to play to accomplish almost anything!

I did send my complaint to the hospital administrator. Quite eloquent, I think I was, with just enough emotion to inspire empathy. I await some response. I expect I'll get something from somebody. Maybe a coupon for a free blood test, the way big corporations do for complaints about grocery items?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Real estate

One of my favorite time wasters is checking houses for sale in different places. It's a lot like checking out job want ads in that I usually end up being pretty glad I'm in my current circumstances.

One of the local newspapers has a House of the Week feature and this week's darling is a big farmhouse with lovely thick stone walls. It's a little barn-like indoors, but I adore the windows.

House of the Week: 437 Deweys Bridge Rd., Fort Ann | Realtor: Sarah Hislop at Select Sotheby's International Realty | Discuss: Talk about this house Photo: Courtesy Photo / AL

I think I might be a little afraid to wander around on the second floor in the dark of night for fear I might accidentally descend to the ground floor sans stepping down stairs. But it's beautiful, is it not?
House of the Week: 437 Deweys Bridge Rd., Fort Ann | Realtor: Sarah Hislop at Select Sotheby's International Realty | Discuss: Talk about this house Photo: Courtesy Photo / AL

This house, which looks to me like a condominium (probably one of those "doesn't translate from British to American" things), just charms me. It looks like a little doll's house to me.

To the left there as one faces the front of the house . . . is that a little walk-through to the rear yard? For anyone to use? 
I do like those heated towel racks in all the British bathrooms! What a luxury, although I understand the room in which the towel rack is located might be otherwise unheated. 
It's so cozy to have all the houses all cuddled together and still to have access to huge fields. If the sounds of my neighbors got to be too much for me I could get out among the hay and look away from . . . people.

Having spent some time this morning noodling around, looking at properties for sale in Yorkshire, I can certainly see why New York was named after it. The natural features are nearly identical. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Enjoy the ride

This is one of those slideshows that eventually go everywhere in the world. Most of the sentiments have been everywhere in the world already. 
But it's nice.
And the sentiments are worth another thought.

Click here: 
Enjoy the ride

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Treadmill stress test

If ever you are a doctor administering a treadmill stress test, here are some things that, in my opinion, you should not say to the patient, aka victim.

Within the first ten seconds: Not much of a walker, are you?
This is very slow! Not even 1.7 miles per hour! Oh, why no! It's even slower than that!

When the patient has cried Uncle! and has collapsed onto the gurney behind her, don't dismissively wave one arm and say, "I can't tell you anything from this! It'll go to the main hospital and somebody there will look at it. I can tell you that your tolerance for exercise is very poor."
Do not run your gaze from forehead to feet and back again and say, "Maybe it's just because you're out of shape."

Trust me: a fat person knows that she is fat. She doesn't need you, you angular pointy-chinned witch, to disdainfully advise her of the fact. 
I came home and wept with shame.
I will never . . . never . . . ever . . . go through one of those things again.

Sunday, September 9, 2012