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.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's been a long time since I had a junkie housie post...

Now that fall has arrived in the South I have been very busy putting out my decorative gourds and making the house all seasonal. There is nothing like the relief of fall. The air is cool and dry, all the other children are back in school so that my children and I can enjoy crowd-free museums, and the bugs start to die off. Sweet, sweet fall.

I am enjoying decorating this house. It is so very different from my old house, and yet I find that many of my old pieces still work really well.

I also made my way to the junk store yesterday and found some little lovelies who needed new homes.

This bread box has all of my favorite things. Vintage font, great color, and it was 3.99.

It is possible that I audibly yelped when I spotted this beauty for 1.99. Jadite sugar bowl? Be still my heart!

I try to avoid baskets because they tend to breed in my basement and suddenly I am overrun with them. I made an exception for this groovy shaped picnic basket though.

What are you doing to get ready for fall?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Time it was and what a time it was, it was...

Suddenly it is September and all I can do is wait for fall. I keep checking the weather channel, anxiously waiting for the temperatures here in Maryland to dip, for the leaves to flame and dry, and for my nose to turn cold in the air.

This summer felt like the crossing of a border of some sort. This was the summer we got to properly know our neighbors, when we all made friends, and stopped feeling so new and raw all the time. We spent a long time on the road this summer. We visited our old home town where the kids went to camp at their old dance studio and saw their old friends. We slipped right into our former life and yet it felt a little unreal. I would drive down the road meaning to head to Amy's house, only to find myself on the path to our old home.

Mostly though, the summer was wonderful. We saw nearly everyone we love and it was impossible not to feel grateful for these people, near and far who welcome us into their lives and homes.

You are probably wondering if the ants are gone. When we arrived back home in mid-August I discovered that the ants had infested the cupboard where I keep my coffee mugs and wine glasses and this violation was one which I could not stand. An exterminator was called and he brought with him an arsenal of poison which the little vermin gobbled up, only to die. I enjoyed watching them suffer, and felt only satisfaction when I swept their desiccated little bodies into the trash.

We started school last week and I have only had to threaten Lily once. We've all been waking up early, early enough in fact for Lily to want to walk the dogs with me. We head to the woods, minding the dogs, and watching for birds. She's become very curious about the birds we see and so we've been doing some bird research. I will be an old woman some day and I will look back on those days where Lily and I studied the birds and know that I never wanted for joy or love.

While Lily and I have been studying birds, Rebecca has been transitioning into a barn kid. She takes riding lessons, and has begun working in the barn for extra horse time. She works hard and long and when she comes home she stinks of labor and equine exertions. I have never seen her so satisfied with anything in her life.

We are all ready I think, for the next season, for the structure that the school year imposes, for the shortening of the day, for the end of the beginning.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sigh. The Ants Came Back...

You guys? I don't understand.

I gave up my Keurig to the ants. They won. They made me and my Keurig their bitch. No more fancy coffee maker for me. In fact, I have been so traumatized by my Keurig ant farm that most mornings I use a Starbucks Via.


Last night as I was secretly getting ice cream tidying the kitchen I noticed an ant. Then I blacked out. When I came to I realized that I was not looking at one little ant, but rather at least twenty.

I may have freaked out. Freaking out may have included swearing and unleashing the unholy powers of Raid on the kitchen. I figured that wiping everything down, removing the tasty stink big carcasses from the window sill, and spraying Raid everywhere would be enough, and yet this morning there were ants.

Mocking ants. Douche bag ants. The worst ants on the planet.

I removed everything from the counter and sprayed and sprayed and sprayed until my finger ached from the chemical devastation.

So far there have been no more ants, but I know their tactics. They like to lure me into a false sense of security and then BLAMMO- the ants have taken over a major appliance.

Not this time people. This time I am waging full scale war. I will spray every ant which comes near my house. I will take no prisoners and as god is my witness, I will never drink ant coffee again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On turning 40...

For many months I have known that turning forty would be rough. It's a silly thing, age, and yet forty has always seemed like the beginning of the end, an age when even venturing into the juniors department would become off limits, when I could no longer pretend to be a young woman.  I think that turning forty, in combination with the stress of our move and with having to start a new life felt very big indeed.

Amy's arrival brought comfort, but I still felt shaky. We got our toes done and went to the pool, but I could not ignore the feeling of being overexcited and a little too keyed up, of the day feeling too big- too important. At dinner I could not eat, though I thoroughly enjoyed opening my mother's birthday gift to me- a box filled with forty surprises, one for each year of my life. Some were silly, like the musical "birthday hat" and others were just perfect, like the turquoise Fiestaware salt and pepper shakers.

By the time the day ended I was exhausted, but I did not sleep well and by the morning I could no longer deny that I was a complete wreck. Amy and I had planned a day of junking and nachos, but instead I spent the morning with a half a Valium and some rest. In the afternoon we made it out to a junk store, but I felt sick and exhausted.

"What if I never feel better? What if I never feel hungry again?" I asked Amy.

"You'll be okay." She reassured me.

Last night we ordered in some chicken and watched 30 Rock in bed and slowly I started to relax. By the time I went to bed, this time with a full Valium, I could feel my appetite coming back which was a relief. I slept well, though I dreamed of sharks, but woke up feeling hungry and measurably better.

For breakfast I cut a slice of thick crusty whole wheat bread. I put the pieces of bread into the toaster and waited. The edges browned and the slices steamed and toasted. I took them out and spread them with butter. The butter melted into the bread, and when I finally bit into them I knew I would be okay.  The toast was perfect, crisp, and buttery. My birthday was over and I was eating toast.

Today Amy and I went to a different junk store, ate some nachos, and then we all went out to dinner and I can say that I have recovered and for that I am very grateful. I am most especially grateful for Amy who flew here expecting fun and mostly spent the time talking me out of a very brief 24 hour mid life crisis. How wonderful is Amy? This is the gift she made me for my birthday.

I think forty is going to be okay.