Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This Time Last Year

This time last year
There were boxes
At the Center
of every room
Being filled with
Fifteen years of life.

On every street and
At every corner
A flurry of hellos
And Goodbyes
Flew into the air
Hungry magpies of the inevitable.

The days marched along
As good soldiers
Delivering us to a New Life
600 miles South.

For months everything was
in its

Nearly twelve months gone by
The newness has faded like
Chintz left in the sun.
But slowly becoming invisible
And in this way
The Past reappears
In stark and devastating relief.

An impossible mirage.
And Unattainable.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A little of this and that...

It's the week before Thanksgiving and all of the Shiny Red Pets are shedding. I don't know why they feel that this is the time to rid themselves of all of their fur, but they have. There are clumps of fur which roll by gently with any disturbance or movement of air in the house. I feel compelled to sweep them or pick them up, but I can assure you that I am the only one here who feels that way.

Now that fall is solidly here I am reminded that I love cool crisp weather. The temperature drops and I feel energized and lively. I take longer walks in the woods with the dogs and come home to a crackling fire in the living room.

I am hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in at least a decade. I'm trying to remember what I cooked the last time. A turkey surely, but what else must be on the table? Do my readers have tried and true recipes that they love and would like to share? I'd love to be the beneficiary of your wisdom.

Usually in the fall I like to read the very beginning of Moby Dick, as well as The Headless Horsemen. I didn't seem to get to it this year. Rebecca and I are reading Tom Sawyer. I don't think that I appreciated the humor of this story as a child when I read it last. Now I am so much more aware of the adult narrator and the amused and gentle kindness of his portrayal of Tom.

Finally, I will share a private victory of adulthood with you. When I was in my teens and at the dentist for a check-up, the dentist remarked that I had been doing a fantastic job flossing. My teeth looked great- no plague and cavity free.

Reader, I had never flossed in my life. After that comment I decided that flossing was for fools with nothing better to do than thread bits of waxy string through their teeth. This was a strategy that worked for a number of years, but over the last decade or so I have been getting nagged by dentists and hygienists to floss.

I finally found a new dentist down here in The South. The hygienist looked at my teeth and informed me that the plaque was so bad that it would take two treatments to clean them. One that day and another in four weeks.

I was horrified by the sight of my poor sore gums and so I vowed to floss. And I have. Every day, even when I am tired. When I went back last week for part two the hygienist was appropriately impressed. I got an A+ in flossing and in adulthood as well.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Selected Shorts...

About a million years ago when I was fifteen I had a job in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.

I worked at the sort of shop that still existed back then. It was a sort of clothing shop and sports shop all rolled into one. The floors creaked a bit and it smelled like new shoes, but it was a wonderful store. It was owned by the Wecht family and was in fact, family run. The brothers were managers and their father ran the place. I was a cashier, a job I was ill-suited for due to my natural fear of numbers, but I managed. I would have been better in sales I think, though I don't suppose grown-up ladies would be particularly moved by the fashion advice of a fifteen year old girl in braces and a new wave hair cut.

This was my job though, and I worked several afternoons a week and the weekends. When I look back at that time, getting up before five every morning to get ready for school, working on the weekends I am not surprised that I was so often sick. I think I was exhausted for four years straight and I had the mono to prove it.

Anyway, the story I want to tell you isn't about being sick all the time and my horribly awkward adolescence. The story I want to tell is about my dad. My dad often drove me to school and drove me home from work. He'd listen to NPR which seemed an endless stream of boring talk about the news and traffic. I hated it. I hated almost everything back then. I would plug my Walkman into my ears and listen to whatever music was getting me through the misery of being young.  There were mornings that I am sure I never spoke a word to my father. I was sullen most of those mornings and now that I know how it is to be on the other end of a child's sullenness, I regret it.

Sunday afternoons were different. NPR played Selected Shorts and the confident voice of Isaiah Sheffer would introduce a story read aloud by famous actors. My father would put on the radio and together we would be quiet in each others company listening to stories. I am sure that I first heard the work of John Updike and Raymond Carver in that car because when I later read their books I thought for sure that I already knew these stories, though I knew I had not read them. On those trips home I came to love a different kind of radio, so different from the commercial radio of screeching ballads. Of all the gifts I ever received from my father, I think that introducing me to NPR and Selected Shorts may be the one for which I am most grateful and the one which I use every day.

When I heard that Isaiah Sheffer had died this week I thought about those afternoons in the car. I remember each curve of the long twisting roads to our house in rural New Jersey. I can see the dry leaves skittering across the road and the long shadows pulling against the distant mountains and I can still hear the stories being told while my father and I listened together, quietly, unexpectedly and carefully to each word of the tale.

Rest In Peace Mr. Sheffer.