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Showing posts from August, 2007

Under the bridge~

Transitions. Changes.

Why do we resist inevitable changes? Why do we hold on to what we have at the moment instead of embracing future possibilities with open arms?

I've been told it's fear of the unknown that makes us cling so tightly to what we are familiar with.

I typically love change. It invigorates me. Most change that is; I could do without some of the midlife physical changes, but even those I am getting used to. With a little tweak in my mindset, who knows? Maybe I'll finally learn to accept myself as I am now, without comparing myself to the way I was then-- in my prime.

But apart from all that nonsense, I welcome most change. I've taught for 34 years in the same town. I would have gone crazy if I hadn't changed schools, grade levels, subjects, and classrooms through the years. I know teachers who have been in the same room, teaching the same subject for decades. I would dry up in the routine sameness.

But people are different; what is dull and boring to me i…

Now's the time~

In two days we'll be driving David to college. Not far, an hour and a half away, and an easy trip over major roads. I know from experience that he'll be fine, and have fun, and grow older and wiser. And that I'll miss having him around.

He and his girlfriend Jen are in the "family room," packing his clothes and other belongings in plastic footlockers. They both look grim-- or maybe just solemn-- but determined. They've had a fun-filled summer, between jobs, and have put off thinking about going away until they can't ignore it any longer.

Dave and Jen have been together since 5-5-05, an "anniversary" they've celebrated twice. College will separate them for the first significant amount of time since then. They're walking through the throes of missing each other in advance.

At eighteen, who knows? They could have already found their life partner. Maybe absence will make their hearts grow fonder. Or maybe it will be out of sight out of mind, al…

Inner beauty~

I picked peaches from the tree in our backyard yesterday. The tree was loaded with flowers this spring, all of which heralded a peach when they faded and dropped.

There were so many potential peaches that we sacrificed some for the good of the harvest. If all the peaches had been left to grow, they would have been small. Compare the size of a single newborn baby to the size of a quintuplet.

The tree still produced lots of peaches-- medium sized ones. Next year we'll be tougher in the winnowing process. I'd rather produce 100 pounds of large peaches than 100 pounds of small ones.

The fruit wasn't perfect. Some hung from the branches, showing a rosy cheek, deceitfully hiding their black, speckled side. Others were plain ugly all over with split skin because their inside grew faster than the outside.

The black spots are a fungus that could have been prevented with a fungicide spray. But for an organic peach, I can stand a little skin-deep ugliness.

As I peeled more than a dozen pe…

Every flower deserves a garden~

Our yard is a mixture of our personalities, my husband's and mine. He likes straight lines, defining edges, fences. I like curving lines with an overflow of plants cascading onto the walkway or lawn.

He trims the forsythia into a boxy hedge. I tell him the blooms would be better if he let it twist and tumble like it wants.

He prefers factual conversation, a logical progression of information that has a purpose. I speak when the thought arises, often just a comment with no point except observation. I speculate, I wonder. This is uncomfortable for him.

"What's the point?" he says?

"Does there need to be a point?" I ask.

He has a system for mowing the lawn: he alternates between vertical, horizontal and diagonal passes each time he mows. He keeps the lawn cropped like a military crew cut. I prefer the tangly length that gets caught between my toes when I wander in bare feet, the kind that folds under me without scratching when I lie on my back to stare at the cloud…

Belly up to the bar~

On a previous jaunt with my camera, I stumbled across a woman sleeping on a blanket on the grounds of a mansion whose gardens I was touring. She woke to the sound of my camera's shutter. (I was not taking pictures of her.)

"Do you like butterflies?" she asked, apropos of nothing, as she rose to a sitting position. It turns out she had been meditating; I hadn't woken her at all, just interrupted her alpha waves.

I told her I did, and she told me where to find a butterfly zoo.

As she gave directions, I said, "Oh, yes, I know where you mean." I hadn't a clue, but I knew from experience that when I don't understand directions people give, they try again and again.

"You know where the ice cream stand is on Route 138? No? Well then do you know where the farm stand is across from the police station? No? How about the swamp hidden by the oak trees? Oh, you do? (No.) Well, go past the swamp about a half mile . . ."

A couple days later, I made the …

So what's my problem?

Last summer I was active, hopping on my bike most days, or going to the Y to work out.

I planned to do that this summer, too-- make up for my relative inactivity during the school year. When I got home from school each afternoon, my choice was: read the paper in a prone position on the couch, or go to the gym.


I told myself I'd make up for it this summer. I'd firm up, trim down and . . .. Oh, the best laid plans.

The thing is, I like to exercise; working up a sweat feels good, and makes me feel that I've done myself some good besides. I like being in shape.

So what is my problem?

David, soon to be off to college, has himself on a program to get ready for basketball season. "Just exercise when I do, Mom," he says when I complain about my slump.

But that's his schedule; the timing is not right for me. Or is that an excuse?

"Will you write me out a list of exercises to do?" I ask.

"Mom." He's stern. "You didn't follow the other …

Empty nest cooking~

Going through the remaining items in my parent's house, which is being cleaned for sale, I came across items the auctioneer left behind, things that wouldn't sell, things slated for the dump.

I opened a manila envelope and spilled out a pile of recipes, most copied on index cards in my mother's or father's handwriting, some clipped from "Good Housekeeping," and "Redbook" and pasted to the cards.

Sometime after my brother and I married and left home, my parents became real people. Among other things, they started cooking.

We were always well fed, but by cooking, I mean more than:

~beans and franks with brown bread from a can on Saturday night

~burgers that smoked up the kitchen, boiled potatoes and cooked frozen peas that were wrinkly

~spaghetti with sauce made from a can of tomato paste, a can of water and Spatini sauce mix

~and, horror of horrors, calves' liver-- for the vitamin A.

My parents apparently waited until they were empty nesters to fuss in t…

Corn for breakfast~

In my vegetable garden a mere month ago, "the best was yet to come." But now it's that special time in New England "for which the first was made." (Robert Browning applied today)
The garden is bursting with sustenance ripe for the picking. Along with early apples and pears, I pick corn, cukes and summer squash. Potatoes and carrots are ready to dig while yellow beans still dangle from bushy plants. It's a glorious abundance for which I'm grateful. There are beets and butternut squash too. And broccoli.

My husband does the prep work in late March and the planting soon after. Then, apart from weeding and watering, he turns the garden over to me.

"I grow 'em," he says. "You pick 'em."

It always sounds like a good deal during the cold, muddy spring. He forks under the winter rye and culls rocks from cold soil, his breath a cloud I see through the window as I drink tea and read .

But now I feel a pressure standing among such boun…

Butterfly kisses~

Where does the butterfly go when it rains? That's the title of a children's book by May Garelick. I often read to my classes during the years I taught first grade.

That question returns on rainy summer days. Not as a real question-- I suppose insects use leaves for umbrellas-- but more as a rhythmic phrase.

I've never looked for butterflies in the rain. How many of us have? Butterflies are elusive enough in sunlight.

I've seen them mate, that aerial Karma Sutra where the male and female soar and zigzag while connected end to end.

Yesterday I watched a pair of mating monarchs in my front yard as the sun was lowering. I remembered as a child asking my mother why butterflies stuck together like that. She probably told me they were kissing.

This mating flight looks more difficult than pedaling a bicycle built for two, where the riders are at least headed in the same direction.

Is there mating etiquette? Does the male wish his mate would flap her wings harder, help him alo…

A boy and his (girlfriend's) dog~

David is dog sitting for his girlfriend's dog Troy for a few days. And so, it turns out, am I, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. while David is working.

He's an adorable pug with a mushed in face and severe under-bite, similar to a bulldog, only smaller. And cuter, I have to say. His little tail looks like a doughnut perched precariously on the edge of a table. How can something with an under-bite, wrinkles, and a bottom right canine tooth that refuses to stay hidden be so damn cute?

It's fun having him, and apart from Becky the cat who's taken to sleeping under the bed in what we call her "thunder spot," we're all enjoying Troy.

He's very attentive when I speak, cocking his head thoughtfully as he listens. Even his ears change position-- upright, flopped, or way back-- in response. Very gratifying, not to mention the eye contact. Up until now I've relied heavily on Becky for eye contact. My husband's eyes are usually aimed at:

a.) his …