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Showing posts from June, 2007

Because you can't go home again~

The grey Cape on 32 Pine Street is empty-- no life or activity inside, unless you count the spiders spinning the messy cobwebs they never got away with when my parents' were there.

My father is dead; my mother in an assisted living home.

Their house should have been sold by now, or rented. But that is a tale of two siblings not to be told here.

Still, I won't have the key to the back door forever, and today something called me to drive the half hour to see the house I grew up in. I usually listen when that "something" speaks.

I wandered through every room, most empty or nearly so. Most things have gone to the auctioneer for an estate sale. What remains are odds and ends. Things that aren't trash, but no one really wants.

I had my camera, and took pictures, inside and out. Not big pictures-- pictures of rooms or the yard-- but pieces of pictures, the details I think of when I remember the house I grew up in.

I took:

The tiny window in my attic bedroom, the one I knelt…

Internet hookup~

There are a lot of crazy people online, they say. I have no doubt that this is true. There're a lot of crazy people period. Scary, dangerous, predatory people looking to take advantage of others sexually, financially or emotionally.

And then there are the everyday people, the neighborly kind, people you wouldn't have met if it were not for the Internet.

Being a member of the Internet Writing Workshop has put me in touch with so many wonderful people who come together with a shared interest: writing.

I know some of these people better than I know my neighbors. These writing friends are my neighbors in the true sense of neighborliness; they're there to help, share experiences, and encourage. They live all over the world, but are more accessible than the family next door.

Today I got to meet two Internet Writing Workshop friends: Bob Sanchez,
a former Massachusetts resident who escaped upon retirement to sunny Las Cruces, Mexico, and Carter Jefferson, who's lived all …


I did today what I swore I would not do for the whole summer. I got up early.

I got up at the time my alarm goes off on school mornings-- 5:45 a.m.-- and I'd been awake long before that, having spent a tossy-turny night on a mattress that had been my parents'.

My parents' mattress was newer than ours, so after my mother went to the assisted living home, I brought it home. Bruce could sleep on a bed of nails, and convincing him to spend "what?!" on a "Sleep Number" bed just wasn't going to happen.

And maybe the mattress is not what's keeping me awake anyway. It could be hot flashes, or the cat that likes to groom my hair with her teeth several times a night, or Bruce's snoring, or . . . the mattress.

This morning I reminded myself of a kid who can't be dragged out of bed on school mornings, but is up bright and early for Saturday morning cartoons. I put on a sweatshirt against the unseasonable chill, and took my camera and went for a walk…

Piece de resistance~

Two days into summer vacation with a recommitment to exercise everyday-- some how, some way-- I set off on my bike. I usually ride for an hour or so, 10 or 12 miles.

I love the breeze in my face, the scents that waft from the roadside, the burn in my quads, and even trickle of sweat that runs down my spine. If I don't breathe heavily and sweat a bit, it doesn't seem like worthwhile exercise. I don't mind the effort, or the sweat.

Today I put the camera in my backpack, and set off for a ride. I often lug the camera along when I go for a walk, because I frame pictures in my mind and always wish I had the camera to capture the images, so I've learned to take it. But I seldom take the camera on a bike ride.

The camera changed the whole nature of today's ride. A ride that would have taken an hour, took me two. Two of the nicest hours I've spent in a long time. I was off my bike as much as I was on it.

There were pictures everywhere, from the huge expanse of cloud-fille…

Last day of school!

When alarm went off at 5:45 this morning, I shut it off, and then "unset" it for the summer. I didn't want the alarm waking me tomorrow.

Today was the last day of school.

For the next couple of months, I'll wake when my body chooses. My biorhythms will shift; I'll take naps if I need to. And the bathroom-- I'll go when I need to now. No more being at the mercy of the bell.

I won't even try to pretend I'm not as excited as the kids. All teachers are.

Who wouldn't be glad to have a respite from the intensity that goes with the job? This intensity is something that only teachers understand; most folks think the job looks easy. It's not, but you have to experience it to see why.

Yet come September, I'll be just as excited to go back to school. It's in my blood.

About the time that my fifth graders-- former fifth graders, now-- were playing kick ball after supper, I took a walk.

I started thinking about "my kids." I'd miss this bu…

The man I've known longest in my life~

It's Father's Day. Fathers are important. I've learned that even when they're dead and buried, they really aren't gone. Mine isn't anyway.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.


The call from the nursing home jolted me awake at 3:19 on a snowy Sunday morning. Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 2003. I knew before answering that my father had died.

“Is this Ruth?” The voice was soft.

“Yes,” I said bracing myself.

“Ruth, your father passed away a few minutes ago.”

This call was not unexpected, but still I froze into silence, listening to the wind and whipping snow outside.

I needed to be led through the process by experts familiar with wrapping a lifetime into a public package for the wake, the funeral, the burial . . .

“What’s the next step?”

“Well, with the storm, the undertaker won’t be able to get here for awhile, so you needn’t rush over.”

But of course there would be no curling back into sleep’s warm cocoon. My husband got up with me, and made coffee. We drank…

A week of Fridays~

I keep thinking it's Friday. It started yesterday--Tuesday. It's most likely wishful thinking, or a sign that I'm trying to do too much all at once. Or . . . I'm not even going to go there. I need a vacation, is all.

The school year is winding down. Of the five days left, one is a Science Fair and another is a field day. The last day is the annual year-end volleyball tournament.

For the most part the kids' required work is done. They know this. I tell them that everything they do from now on will be graded for effort and conduct. This keeps them in check while I'm working through stacks of papers to be corrected and recording grades for year end report cards that must be done before the end of school.

I had my homeroom class last period yesterday, Tuesday. They are a fantastic bunch of 11 year-olds, all twenty-eight of them. Smart, funny, and for the most part, most of the time, well behaved. They're also enthusiastic, energetic, and quite social. AKA "c…

Life is in the details~

We have a cherry tree. It's a baby; its crop of cherries increases slowly each year. This year we might get as pie out of it-- if we don't eat them one by one as they ripen. Its first year as a sapling, it presented us with one dangling red orb. My husband and I each ate half. A small thing that brought pure pleasure.

We have to protect the tree from insects and birds if we expect to get our dessert. We covered it with plastic netting that keeps birds out.

This morning my husband, picking cherries, called out, "Can you bring me the scissors?"

I did, wondering what kind of cherry could cling so stubbornly to the tree as to need scissors to harvest it. But it was a bird, a small house sparrow, tangled in the netting. It relaxed in my husband's grasp, not struggling or even blinking its shiny eyes. He held the bird, and I snipped the net.

We anticipated the grateful flutter of wings when the bird was set free, but it couldn't fly. Instead, one wing dragging, it wob…

Birthday massage~

I had my birthday massage this afternoon.

My husband had given me a gift certificate back in March to the Maha Yoga Center, a local New Age-y place in town.

It's kind of pathetic when life gets so busy that it takes three months to schedule some pleasure. Sometimes I find myself too busy to even want pleasure.

"A party? I can't, thanks. I have plans." (A nap)

Scheduling the massage took a while. Then I made an appointment with a massage therapist I'd had before, but had to cancel to cover a story for the paper.

When I called to reschedule I asked for a specific date and time. The receptionist said, "We have an opening with Tom. Do you mind a male?"

Of course I didn't mind getting a massage from a man. Why would I? Why should I?

"You know," I said, "this might seem weird, but I'd really rather have a woman."

Where did that come from?

She told me it wasn't weird at all, and that's why she'd asked; most women feel that…

He left his mark~

I stretched out on the lounge chair in the back yard, a book on my lap. I'd just finished a bike ride, and had showered.

I was looking forward to reading, but I was not ready to focus. So I drank my iced coffee, and let my gaze drift around the yard. The mind meanders when not put on a leash.

The bleeding hearts under the tree reminded me of my grandmother's-- only hers were pink. I hadn't much liked them as a child. They were kind of a fancy flower, an old lady's flower I'd thought back then when daisies were my favorite. But there was something appealing about these in my garden. The flowers stretched along each branch reminding me of tee-shirts hanging from tenement house clothes lines-- second and third floor, one above the other.

Then I thought I'd like to press them. I haven't thought of pressing flowers for long time. In a college botany class, I'd been required to collect and press local plants after determining their genus and species. My father …