Tag Archives: home

Cleaning the Attic

frost-patterns-on-windows-1387971944JG1Again – this is a poem in transition – I started it a few weeks ago on a very cold day. Today it is cold again and I revisited it, working on the warm part of the poem. I am still not happy with the ending or the title but here it is – in process….. Every third year Or When the snow flies off the trees Like white crows Disturbed by wind or intruders bursting up and out; When the doorknob frosts on the inside And bath steam Clings to the window freezing into Tiny rivers meandering always up, Tributaries of ice sparkling like giant snowflakes Caught in the ice age of the storm, In the dark days of winter when shadows Are long at noon, In the blue moon of January I dream of myself as a young woman Walking through damp moss In bare feet. A thicket lit with crepuscular rays; spotlights on fairy rings. The enchanted forest breathes warm soft exhalations Mixing with the must of old paper And India ink. Letters crack at fold lines Splitting the sentences declaring unending love Every day a picnic on the mountain With sardines and red wine Hard cheese on crusty bread cut with pocket knives. The sun burns our skin Frosty paintings melt Running down the glass in drops That sizzle on the wood stove The fire bright and hot Cats sleeping at our feet.

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The Secret Life of Holes

The notorious "double hole"

The notorious “double hole”

This weekend my husband and I decided that the little barn needed a bit of sprucing up – specifically, a plant, larger than my perennials, to take care of a bit of naked lawn.  I don’t know why it didn’t seem naked until the little barn was built but, there you go – sometimes you just have to trust your aesthetic sense and go with it.

We spent the morning wandering around the local nursery debating the strengths and weaknesses of dogwoods, cherry trees and hydrangea.  The shrub expert there, patiently answered our questions and showed us various plants until he introduced us to the dogwood that we fell in love with and decided to adopt.

Of course adopting a tree requires a bit of preparation, namely, digging a spacious hole for it to spread its roots in.  The first task was to decide exactly where the hole should be.  We took turns holding a 20 foot board (I’m a visual person) in various places in the yard, standing back and seeing where the new tree should live.  We finally settled on the perfect spot and set about the chore of digging with optimism and shovels.

The hole needed to be about 24” deep and as I got closer to my goal, I was astounded that I only needed my husband’s muscle and the pry bar a couple of times to remove some nasty rocks.  This is the New Hampshire, the granite state, after all.

We took a break in the early afternoon to go for a walk and check out a local trout stream for next spring.  I decided that I still had enough energy to finish up the hole so that it would be ready for the delivery of its esteemed occupant.  At exactly 24” I hit a rock that I thought should be removed and called over the pry bar expert.  Right square in the middle of my beautiful, deep round hole was a rock the size of Vermont.

We tried to remove it.  We really did.  But when the pry bar sings that particular ringing song that means it has hit something immoveable and you can’t find soft soil around even the perimeters of the bottom your hole, even true stubborn New Englanders know that it is time to let the earth be what it is and to re-examine expectations and move the damn hole.

Our tree will find a lovely spacious new hole in the ground to wiggle its youthful roots in when it arrives.  It will grow into its home, spread out so that it too becomes a part of that secret world that hides underneath the sod.  We will enjoy its blossoms in the spring and its shade in the heat of summer.  It will be wonderful, albeit, slightly to the left of perfect.  After all, this is New Hampshire, the granite state.

Not a City Girl

Afternoon sunlight on the bench in the herb garden.

Afternoon sunlight on the bench in the herb garden.

One of the most exciting things about being retired is that I am now able to be spontaneous with my time.  If someone calls and asks me to go on a walk – right now – I can do it!  I don’t have to wait for my lunch hour or the weekend….I can get up and go. 

This week I found out that one of the people who helped me while I was being treated was going to NYC to pack up an apartment and get it ready for sale.  “Want help?” I cried.  Finally, a way to pay back some of the kindness that was given to me.

Wow!  An impromptu trip to Manhattan – down on the train Monday and back on Wednesday.  How exciting to be able to say yes, I can do this with you.  Lingering bits of guilt for not being at home or doing what I “should” be doing melted away as I realized that yes, I was in NYC.

It was a short trip but long enough for me to think about city living.  First was the understanding – I mean really understanding – that people actually live there.  I mean – they are in the city for the bulk of their time; working, playing, shopping, walking their dogs.  The city is novelty for me.  An exciting place to visit, a change of pace; but for millions of people, it is home.  They don’t get up and wander about the garden looking for hornworms, they don’t walk barefoot in the grass on the way to empty the compost bucket, they don’t pick flowers in the afternoon to put on the dinner table at night.

There is a constant noise in the city that I could not find reprieve from.  The streets are noisy with cars, the restaurants are noisy with people laughing and talking and even the apartment was noisy with the sound of air conditioning and the elevator.  I felt like I had a constant pressure on my ears as the native sounds invaded my head.

There is disconnect with the outside world.  Wednesday morning it rained and from the 8th floor of the building we were in, I couldn’t tell it was raining.  I had no idea what the temperature was outdoors although we were lucky enough to have windows that showed us whether the sun was shining.  I couldn’t look at the thermometer and decide whether I needed my sweater.

I had a fabulous time.  The food was amazing.  I watched a very intoxicated man call an ambulance for a homeless man.  I saw napkins that sold for $90 each.  I watched a woman walk down the street carrying a longbow and arrows.  I met a woman who watches the rats play in a nearby park for entertainment.  It was exciting and novel and exhausting.

There was so much more that it will take me weeks to remember it all and right now I want to get outside and pick the peaches.

Back Among the Living

The Little Barn

The Little Barn

It’s been quite a summer, this summer of 2013.  I have a new shed dubbed the “Little Barn”.  I have pints and pints of pickles and dilly beans in the cupboard.  The garden is lush and producing as much as we can eat and I can process.  I spent a week on the coast of Maine with my new husband (oh ya – I got married…) and another week with my sister in the Maine woods.  I am officially retired or “re-focusing my life”.  It’s amazing what a bout with cancer will do to shake things up.

I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last November.  Had surgery, 6 months of chemo and that, thank you very much, is enough of that, for now.  So – in case you were wondering where I have been – there you go.

I’m not sure where my writing will be taking me.  I am jumping in today with the first post in a long time because honestly, it’s too cold outside right now to pick the basil.  No promises here – just day by day.

A Quiet Evening

I love normal evenings.  Last night art group (BPAG) was cancelled due to sickness and although I almost always love seeing my art friends, it felt good to just be home.  It was cold and showery so I got the pellet stove going, heated up the last piece of quiche (thank you Rosemary for the eggs!) and sat in the comfy chair to finish my book.

My son stopped by on his way home from work. His hands and clothing were still dirty from his day at the farm.  He wanted a recipe for chicken that he remembered eating when he lived at home.

I had my evening good night talk with Steve on the phone and settled in again in front of the fire – one cat on the back of the chair and one in my lap.

Normal – quiet – comfortable.  What a blessing normal can be.

Home Alone

This is the weekend to come to terms with my new status of single mom with only child away at college.

I intend to do some baking, continue reorganizing the house, garden, clean the pellet stove, get some exercise and pull at least one print.  This week I have been fairly busy with my friends who have been making sure that I’m not wandering incoherently around in an empty house or sobbing myself to sleep.  I have had lovely invitations to dinner and taken advantage of every one.  There comes a time when I have to see what it feels like to be alone for an extended period without the anticipation of my son coming home.  After all, the next time he will be home is Christmas.

In truth, I am looking forward to the alone time.  Last night I set up the radio so that there is more sound in the house than just me talking to myself or the cats (I’ve always talked out loud to whoever is or isn’t around so please don’t count this as “crazy cat lady” behavior – for me, its normal).  I intend to bake some bread for myself for the coming week to prove that I really do like to bake bread; it’s not just an activity that I do to nurture others.  And then there is the studio.  It is waiting for me like a living thing.  I hear it whisper to me as I glance its way.  I notice that the drafting table is cleaned off and waiting for a new plate.  The inks are patient for now but need stirring and want to sing their sticky songs as the brayer rolls over them.

I am excited about this.  I am looking forward to this private time.  I am happily anticipating a weekend of my own.  I’ll let you know how it goes…..

The Anticipation SeeSaw

Our living room is covered with clothing, camping equipment and the necessities of dorm life – a coffee cup, desk lamp, sheets and a few precious mementos.  Books are waiting to be packed.  There is chaos elsewhere.

My son is getting ready for the big move.  This is the one that often leads to visiting home rather than coming home.  This is where the word itself, “home”, starts to be confusing.  Is it “where I grew up”, or “where I spend the most time” or “where I feel most comfortable”?   Is home the family I was given with my birth or the family that I create?

His room looks like he is leaving for a movie with friends.  The garage holds three bikes laying mostly in parts, waiting for him to pick up his wrenches.  There are granola bars still in the cupboard – the high calorie kind you need when you work on a farm and run rivers in tiny kayaks.

While he anticipates with excitement the trip and its destination, college; I stand between two incredibly powerful sets of feelings – pride, excitement, and delight and the sadness that comes with knowledge that our home is changing yet again.

I can’t wait to get on the road and see the country with him.  I can’t wait to see the school and meet the people who will surround him while he is there.  When I stand next to him, I can feel the anticipation that he feels and it is contagious!

I am a little afraid of coming home.  There too, is a bifurcation of feeling.  I will miss him sorely.  The house will be a lot quieter when he is gone.  He is good company.  At the same time, I have a strong feeling of anticipation of what this change will mean for me – my house as studio, and life as an independent woman.   I will be on my own, much like my son, for the first time in many decades.

Sad?  Yes.  Exciting?  Also yes.  All there is to do now is to pack up the car and take the ride.