Monday, October 31, 2005

Skunk Dog

This is a stinking dog. He became so enthralled with a skunk last night that he would not leave the thing alone. I had to physically remove him from the vacinity of his little playmate. That meant that I, too, got an up close and personal look at the poor little skunk, who was trapped under the steps by a frantically barking puppy. I shined my flashlight in his eyes and stomped on the steps trying to scare him away, but Patrick blocked his only escape route. I didn't dare get too rambunctious, not knowing if skunks can spray again once they have done it. Patrick was refusing to be caught and I chased him around the yard for about five minutes before finally grabbing him and carrying his malodorous self into the house. The other two dogs somehow avoided a confrontation and headed for the back door as soon as the situation became clear to them.

Patrick had never experienced the baking soda-peroxide-detergent treatment. By the time I was done with him, the kitchen was soaked, I was soaked, and he was soaked. He was then subjected to a thorough towelling and then the hair dryer. Finally we all crawled into bed at midnight. I was hot and sweaty from all the exertion, but finally drifted off to sleep with three hot bodies against me, one still damp, and a mild perfume of skunk wafting through the air.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Painting and Play

I finished the pumkin watercolor today and am happy with it. Now I will no longer be afraid of a full sheet, although if I have any intention of selling any of these watercolors, I will have to keep them smaller. I can't afford to frame big ones, nor can people afford to buy them. For the time being, though, I am just happy to be doing them.

The rest of the day was spent at the play at the Arts Center. It never ceases to amaze me what a great job they do, and this one was no exception. In fact, it was among the best I have seen. I decided to go only at the last moment. I was painting with Lisa when everyone there started to get ready to go. Will was in the cast, and was taking the children with him to the "green room." Lisa and I went and sat in the audience.

Last night Carrie called to tell me that she and Gabe are home safe from Antigua. In fact, there was no sign of the hurricane there and the two of them enjoyed a beautiful vacation. I was very relieved, of course, that my fears were unfounded.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

An unexpected gift of a day

This is the view from my back deck tonight at about five-thirty. I happened to look out the kitchen window as I was throwing Lytton's dogfood can in the trash, and there it was. I grabbed the camera and went out to photograph it. My neighbor Donna was on her deck, too, admiring the same scene and we exchanged appreciative comments. In the middle of a mundane moment, a sight like this can't fail to elevate us, to show us beauty so powerful that it makes us stop what we are doing and gawk at it. It's hard to imagine where our appreciation of such things comes from. It seems unique to human animals to find enjoyment in simply looking at things. What neurons in our brains fire and stimulate that vague, indefineable pleasure, and why? Surely it has no roots in our instinct to survive. If I were to wax poetc, I would say that it gives us the will to survive.

It was a cold, dreary day made enjoyable by painting with Lisa. We set up a complicated still life on her dining room table. It was a cheerful pumpkin-infested fall subject, rounded out by dried hydrangeas picked from Greg's bush, leaves and apples. It was so lovely that I decided to go after it on a full sheet of watercolor paper. This is the first full sheet I have tried since my return to watercolor and I was a little fearful of the huge piece of paper. It turned out all right, though, if a little over-worked in some areas. Those places were compensated for by some nice light leaves. I have more to do on it, and I think I will be happy with it in the end. Lisa worked in acrylic, and our two paintings were like two sides of the same coin---an interesting study of mediums and the way they influence interpretation of the subject. It was thrilling to see, feeding my love of seeing the same subject done by different artists.

As if by design, Thelma called and I was able to share my enthusiasm with her. She has been playing with paint as well, and having a fine time. I had anticipated a reclusive day full of household chores. Some days give you happy surprises.

Katrina, Wilma, and Shirley

It has seemed to me for the last several days that nothing worth writing about has happened. Finally I decided that if I waited for something exciting, I could be waiting for a long time. So here I am, thinking about the recent past and trying to remember how I have spent my days. It has turned into Fall, with two hurricanes ushering in the season. We have had only rain and high winds, but other parts of the country have been devastated. The worst natural disaster in memory has made communities of refugees who have lost everyting. Disaster relief, which we have taken for granted in this country, was and is slow in coming. People are suffering in ways we think of as happening only in the third world.

I read about these terrible situations where people are living in crowded shelters without water and toilets with mild interest, not being able to believe in them. It struck me the other day that Carrie and Gabe may have been caught in the storm during their trip to the Carribean, but I can't believe this, either. Surely the storms missed them. Certainly by some lucky stroke they are somewhere where the sun shone on their whole vacation. Nevertheless, there are times when I find myself chewing my fingernails and feeling dread in the pit of my stomach. I wait nervously to be sure my fleeting fears are unwarranted.

David was hit hard in Ft. Lauderdale and he and Thom are still without electricity. They can not get gas for their car. Luckily they got a generator before the storm hit so are in relative comfort compared with the poor in the same area. They have had to absorb the bad news that Thom's cousin Shirley has been diagnosed with cancer and is in the hospital. I have spent time with Shirley and like her, so this is unsettling for me, too. I am in the process of painting a portrait of her that David and Thom are planning to give her as a Christmas gift. I have it in my new studio, where I pass by it many times a day. Shirley smiles out at me from the canvas, innocent of the news she has just received. The painting of her is of a happy woman. She has given herself over to the moment, eyes crinkled against the sun, hair shining and blowing slightly in the ocean breeze of Gleason's Cove. Her hard life is somewhere else, and the world is a giddy, care-free place. I find the painting touching, and hard to look at. I don't know how my knowledge of her illness will affect the rest of the work I have to do on it. I hope I can keep her the way she is now.

My days are passing slowly as I try to absorb the changing of the seasons It is always difficult for me no matter how I profess to love having four distinct times of year here in New England. Darkness comes early and will come even earlier after this week-end when daylight-saving time goes back to standard time. Yet I know I will feel just as disoriented when the days get longer, after I have become used to the cozy dark afternoons when I cover myself with an afghan and read under a lamp while the snow blows outside. Change is always unsettling, more so as I get older because it is so familiar. Each time the winter comes, it comes sooner.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

My supper

This is so pretty I had to photograph it. I got the recipe outof my new vegetarian cookbook. It's layers of risotto, charred sweet red peppers, spinach,and feta cheese wrapped in fillo dough, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and baked in a spring form pan. I won't say it wasn't time consuming, and I can't say it was really delicious, either. It's so good-looking, though, and that should count for something. It is worth experimenting with --something needs to be done with the spinach, like sauteeing it with garlic, egg yolk and a little cream like my spinach quiche recipe. More, or different, cheese would improve the risotto. The two ounces of parmesan didn't do much to it, and the one clove of garlic disappeared into the rather bland melange. Feta cheese doesn't do well in cooked dishes either, if you ask me. It's wonderful in salad, or as a garnish for cooked dishes, but it dies in a casserole. Something more Italian, maybe, like mozerella, or even Swiss. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to add some bacon, but that wouldn't do in a vegetarian cookbook, would it? The touch that makes it all worthwhile, despite everything, is the fillo. Anything is good with fillo wrapped around it. Posted by Picasa

Preparations for Winter

I decided to set my studio up downstairs in the room behind the kitchen. This was my original plan, but I changed my mind after I moved in because the space seemed too small and I thought I needed more room for kitchen things. It has been so difficult for me to get excited about the studio upstairs, though, that it was a relief to get a new idea. Now everything is in place and ready for me to get to work. I even cleaned all three of my palettes; oil, watercolor, and acrylic. I placed my chair beside the window so that I can watch birds at the feeder. Moving the things from upstairs was not so hard, and now I can make that bedroom into a proper guest room. I feel that everything is in its proper place now.

This morning before I tackled the studio, I winterized the chicken house. I had bought some heavy plastic at the hardware store on the way back from Harrington yesterday. Armed with my stapler, scissors, and a dish of food and oyster shells, I headed out to do the job. I let the chickens out for some fresh air while I worked. For once, it was easier than I had dared hope. AnnieII pecked me only until I came across with the food, and Demeter was easily herded back into the pen after a daring escape over the fence. She took off like an eagle, soaring over the wire as if she could go south for the winter. The flight came to an ubrupt end, though, just a foot on the other side, and she was more than happy to come back through the gate to get her lunch. Both girls are looking fat and healthy, with no signs of earlier trauma.

I stapled plastic over the windows of the chicken house both inside and out. That was so easy and without incident that I decided to go ahead and deal with the problem of keeping the water from freezing when the time comes, and providing heat for Demeter and Annie when it turns colder. Luck was with me and I found a small hole in the rear of the house that I had plugged up when I first put Demeter in there. I re-opened the hole and pushed a long extension cord into the house from the outside. I pulled enough cord inside to plug into the water heating platform and then covered the hole up again. I'll use an extension cord to hook up the light bulb that will warm up the nesting box. Then I untangled and pulled the heavy orange cord all the way to the back door to the cellar, where I will plug it in later on. I felt pleased that I had uncharacteristically done this job early enough to avoid panicking when the first snow is forecast. I surveyed my preparations with satisfaction.

I am a person prepared. I am a person who believes in the future.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

This is the back yard as it looks today, and the space where the furnace was and is no more.

Third Watercolor and the Disappearance of the Furnace

Here's number three of my watercolors of Schoodic. I started it yesterday at Judy's and finished it today. I suppose I will have to find another subject now that I have painted from all of the rock pictures I took the day Thelma and I went to the coast. I do have some other nice pictures taken that day at Corea, but I am almost afraid to branch out to subjects other than rocks. Eventually it had to happen, and maybe I will be able to move into something else without the trouble I anticipate. It seems like a miracle that these paintings turned out so well, so I hate to press my luck.

Will came over today to fix the light in the kitchen, which has not been working. He managed to turn it on, but now it won't turn off. I guess this is the better of the two. While he was here he noticed the door in the back room that has fallen off its moorings. He told me what the trouble was, so after he left I fixed it. David used to call my way of dealing with such things "Cheri Walton Living" and this was a perfect example of that. As soon as I knew how the door worked, I was able to rig up a substitute for whatever the original mechanism might have been. This included a chopstick, a plastic screw anchor, and a phillips head screw. Now instead of leaning the door against the doorway I can open and close it the way nature intended.

When I returned from my errands to the bank and the store, I found the old furnace that has been lying in the driveway since August had been taken away. I felt a smug sense of the pride that comes from making things happen. Last week I called the heating company that installed the new furnace and asked them to please remove the old one. They apologized and said they would do the job, but enough time has passed that I began to worry that I would have to get irritated in order to get it done. Since I had no irritation left after all my dealings with Verizon, I was afraid the furnace might sit there forever. I was therefore overly jubilant to find it gone, my bidding having been done. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Good Boy

I took Lytton to the vet today to see if my suspicions were true that he had an ear infection. He has been shaking his head a lot and rubbing against furniture, sometimes squealing in pain when his ears are touched. It proved to be true, and he was subjected to many indignities while he was there. To compensate him for his trouble, I bought him a new toy from the selection prominently displayed on the wall for guilty customers to see. He was so thrilled with it that he actually forgot where he was long enough to take it from me and play with it in the waiting room. This delighted the staff, the waiting pet owners, and most of all, me. I swelled with pride at being the mother of such an adorable boy. Pressing my luck, I said to him, "pick up your toy and bring it along," as we headed out. Miraculously, just as if he always did what I asked, he snatched the toy from the floor and carried it proudly to the door. We exited to the sound of an apreciative, chuckling audience. He has not let it out of his sight since. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 17, 2005

...........and here's Patrick

just because he's so cute

Progress and Routine

I couldn't take pictures of the new window idea before because I had keft my camera on and run the battery down. Here it is, though, now that the battery has been charging for 24 hours. I also took a picture of the studio, which looks better than it did, believe it or not, and of Lytton with his new haircut.

I didn't get anything more done on the studio because Sydney came for her painting lesson and then I had a committee meeting to set up rules for running the gallery. Sydney had painted a picture without me supervising her every brush mark and was very pleased with herself. She did a good job, too, and I am thrilled that she finally tried something on her own. She has felt so insecure that she was afraid to touch a canvas without me watching to make sure she did it right. I have to admit that I am an ogre, but I never meant to instill such fear in her.

The day was sunny and cold. The dogs and I had a nice walk this morning after not going out for two days. I am forcing myself to take them out as long as the weather is decent, and to give them a fairly long walk. After all, what else do they have to look forward to? They love to go, and it's good for me, too. Every morning as I get out of bed, I begin to make excuses for not going. I would prefer to have coffee and the newspaper first, but the boys are likely to have "accidents" as they are called, if I don't get them out as soon as we get up. I am trying to reach the point where it is no longer a question and I just do it automatically. "Don't think, just do it," I tell myself. And when I reach the corner of Mitchell St. and Adams, I have to prod myself to continue down the hill to Water St. instead of turning around and going back. "Keep going," I tell myself. "It won't kill you to go around the block. And I do, and it doesn't.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Week-end

I have accomplished a lot in the last two days, but neither of the major goals I set for myself are fully realized. The windows, ah, the windows. Needless to say the cutting down of the "cut to fit" blinds I bought was a much bigger job than I anticipated. I don't know why I never seem to learn that nothing is as easy as I think it's going to be. I expected to get the job done in about ten minutes, but it took at least an hour and a half of fumbling and experimentation (of course I had thrown away the directions). I did finally get the two blinds on the windows that face the street altered and found some lace curtains to hang on the lower half. I really like the way they look, but they are too white. I'll have to find something that is off-white to go in the room. The true problem, though, did not manifest itself until today when some people walked by the house. Benny did his usual thrashing at the windows. Those curtains on their flimsy tension rods fell down behind the couch before the first bark was out of his mouth. I still think the idea has potential, though, and will persevere.

Yesterday I gave Lytton a tranquilizer the vet had sold me so that I could cut the matts off his legs without risking serious injury(to me). Poor boy was reduced to a shadow of his former self, barely able to stand as I went after his feet with my scissors. I still put a muzzle on him. Despite the fact that he was almost unconscious, his patience went only so far. After about a half hour he rallied to lunge at my hand as I started in on his back legs. The muzzle came off instantly and all that saved me was my quickness and his lack of precision. Still, I got the job mostly done. He looks funny with his skinny legs and hairless tail, but he must feel better. I certainly do. He slept the rest of the day and didn't return to normal until today.

The studio began to come together once I thought of moving the bureau from the bathroom so that I could use it to store art materials. Now I have no place for the towels that I was keeping there, but that is a problem much more easily solved. I was able to put most of my supplies away in the chest. The biggest task ahead of me is sorting through the hundreds of photographs I have lying all over the place. There are three shelves in that room where I was able to put my art books. The paintings are still standing all over the room, but I will put them under the bed (a perfect spot for canvases). Unused canvases can be leaned agaianst the wall, neatly I hope, as well as large paper, linoleum, and unused frames. I still have things I don't know what to do with, like Jeannette's dolls and my boxes of still life props. I may have to resort to the attic, but it's hard to get up there, and I'll probably never see the stuff again once it's been put there. Who cares? Well, if I didn't care, I would throw the stuff away, wouldn't I?

The promised rain arrived, and I spent time cooking, too. I made bread and brownies and a complicated casserole. I love the smell of food cooking on a dismal day.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Return of DSL

I finally got my verizon DSL back, so tried downloading a picture directly from Blogger. It worked, so I can only assume that the problem was with my dial-up server. The picture is a combination of two paintings, one superimposed on the other. It's a trick you can do on Picasa. I like the way these two fit together.

The person responsible for the return of the DSL is a young woman named Angie who talked me through a complicated process of reconfiguring my account. It took almost an hour, during which time she chatted and sang happily during the idle moments. We talked about the recent hurricane, since she was in Texas, and the effect it had on the state. (She herself was spared any destruction.) What a pleasure it was after talking with so many impatient, irritable Verizon employees who couldn't figure out the problem to have such a cheerful, helpful person on the other end of the line. She deserves a commendation for outstanding service. I was prepared to cancel my account if this call didn't produce results. I'm glad I didn't have to do that, since now that I have it back, I remember how much better it is than dial-up.

Feeling somewhat out of sorts, I accomplished nothing today but my trip to the therapist. What goes on there is no subject for this blog. On the way home I stopped in Machias to buy curtain rods. One of my projects for the week-end is to remove Benny's window treatment in the living room and find something a little more attractive. My plan is to do smething with curtains on the bottom half of the windows, cutting the blinds to fit the top half. Trying to keep Benny from looking out the windows seems to be futile, and possibly cruel, since he enjoys playing watchdog in the extreme. I would also like to get my studio set up. Every time I want some art material I have to search through the boxes I have dumped upstairs in the second bedroom. The task seems impossible, which is why I have put it off this long, but something has to be done so I will have my art things in order and ready to use. The torrential rain we experienced last week-end is supposed to repeat itself, so it should be a fine two days for inside work.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

David and Zeke

I worked with watercolor again at Judy's yesterday and did most of this painting there. I finished it this morning at home. I'm pleased with it and feeling very good about my watercolor expertise. I was afraid I would never get it back.

Last night was David's last night here and we had dinner together at the Chowder House. I had thought about cooking dinner for him, but I know he doesn't like to be around the dogs. If I had taken something over to his house, he would have been left with dirty dishes, so I decided going out was our best option. I have spent much more time with David this year than in the past, so his leaving will have more impact on me than before. He became a bigger part of my life, someone to depend upon for company, good conversation, and practical advice and help. He inspired me artistically, too, with his aproach to photography, his experimental boldness. He has become a friend to me in every way, perhaps the best friend I have. He is going back to Thom, happily, and a void for him is being filled. He leaves one here, though.

My day was taken up with worrying about Mike's dog, Zeke, or actually about Mike and his having to deal with the situation. It turned out that Zeke does have cancer. I floundered around in my typical way upon hearing the news, unable to accept it. I called Dr. Cloutier, imagining that somehow he would make it go away, have some magic remedy. He was very clear and honest, giving me none of the hope that I was looking for. Amputation, which was recommended by Mike's vet, was his suggestion as well. He said that death was inevitable, but that chemotherapy could prolong Zeke's life. He explained the reasons for different kinds of treatment and the pros and cons of each one. He outlined the future in detail so that now Mike can make an informed decision about what to do. I called Mike reluctantly and told him what I had found out. He was reasonable and calm about it, at least while he was talking to me, having already accepted Zeke's diagnosis and its consequences. He listened to the information I had for him and considered it all thoughtfully. He just wants to keep Zeke alive as long as he is comfortable and happy.

My reaction to news like that about one of my dogs would have been a great gnashing of teeth, a refusal to accept the truth, crying and wailing. In the end I would have wanted to euthanize the dog immediately in order to save myself the prolonged agony of waiting, watching, wondering. I would cry every time I looked at the dog and would want him out of my sight to save me that incredible pain. In short, my anguish would prevent me from enjoying another minute of the dog's life. I am a selfish coward under such circumstances. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Yesterday I spent some time with David and Diana working on painting. I decided to try watercolor for the first time in ages. Here is the result and I am very pleased with it. I am so sick of looking at my acrylics and oils that I could puke. Even though I do a competent job with them, they are so similar to a hundred other people's paintings that I feel they are uninteresting and lack individual style. My watercolors have always seemed unique, though they certainly have the look of the Cape Ann atrists I admire and learned from. When I see my watercolors next to the "typical" watercolors done by the thousands, they look different. For the moment that is enough to satisfy me, even though the content is lacking in originality. If I can take an ordinary subject and portray it in a way that no one else has, that is something I can feel good about it. This painting is from one of the photographs I took when I was with Thelma earlier this year at Schoodic Point. I talked with Thelma the other day, and listening to her inspired me to try watercolor again. I wish she were nearer to me so that I could indulge in the kind of art talk we always have more often. Somehow, with her I never question what I'm doing. The world of painting is clear to me. The standards are agreed upon and striven for, the paintings judged according to rules we have set for ourselves. It is all clean and understandable. It is right. I miss the clarity with which I am able to think and produce paintings when I am with her, and with Betty Lou. What a great lack it is in my life not to have that anymore. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 10, 2005

Benny, Lytton, and Patrick taking a nap

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Rainy Sunday

It was the second of two very wet days in a row. The rain poured down steadily and hard. When I went out to the chicken house, my feet actually sank into the ground and water oozed out of the grass around my shoes. I was glad I went, though, since Demeter and Annie were out of both food and water. Demeter snubbed me when I appeared, and Annie pecked my feet irritably while I filled their dishes. Chickens may not be very smart, but they certainly have personalities.

I spent the moring talking to Mike on the phone and the the afternoon visiting with Diana. Mike's dog, Zeke, has something wrong with his leg that the vet thinks may be bone cancer. Tuesday he will see a specialist and find out what the problem is. I am not allowing myself to think very much about it, but it would be a terrible injustice (as if there were such a thing as justice) if another one of Mike's dog died. His first Rottweiler, Max, died of some mysterious disease right before Mike's eyes when he was only four. Then Zeke's brother Beau died when he was less than two from cancer. Mike's dogs are his family, and the loss of the other two was devastating to him. Losing another so soon would be just terrible. Despite his cynical, tough-guy attitudes , Mike can be a very kind and tender-hearted person. He has had a hard, often sad, life with few real pleasures and very little genuine happiness. The dogs are what give his life outside of work meaning, provide him with company, conversation and love. It is very upsetting to think that he may have to go through the death of another one now.

Well, I am trying to keep from speculating, but obviously I am touched by this ominous possibility. I avoid looking at my own little family as these thoughts run around in my head. The sight of them brings me to tears.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Moving the Computer and making Spanacopeta

The thought struck me yesterday that I would rather have the computer downstairs. It seemed like an impossible job for one person, but I couldn't help myself. The first problem was moving the desk that I had put in the upstairs studio down to the first floor. With no plan in mind, I pulled the drawers out and dragged the thing into the hall. Once I looked down the stairs, I could see that the best way would be to turn the desk upside down and slide it down on it's top. I got in front of it and walked down, my back against it to keep it from careening down on its own. This worked like a charm and nothing got scraped, gouged, or otherwise damaged in the process. Next I made several trips up and down with the various computer components, then set everything up beside the phone jack in the dining room.

As soon as I made the last connection, I realized a flaw in my plan. The phone jack could not accomodate both the computer and the telephone. I decided to install a phone jack with two receptacles. I had bought two of them earlier for the upstairs and hadn't used one. This turned out to be a very time-consuming job considering my inexperience and lack of the correct tools (a screwdriver that fit the screws). First I couldn't get one of the screws out of it's hole, stripped it, and had to take the jack off the wall upstairs instead. , leaving no phone up there. I worked sitting on the floor, stuffed between the desk and the wall, with a flashlight balanced on the baseboard for light. I removed the single jack fairly easily. I have no idea how many times I failed to get all three little wires of the same color wrapped around the tiny screws in the new jack, but it seemed like hundreds. Every time I put the final twist to the phillips screw, one of them would always pop out. Eventually, though, because of my usual grim determination, I accomplished the job. Mounting the jack back on the wall proved to be almost as challenging and now it dangles there rather precariously by the one screw I managed to get into the wall.

I will say, though, that my sense of accomplishment when I plugged in the phone and heard a dial tone was probably equal to Lance Armstrong's when he won the Tour de France. Heady with success, I decided to put the single jack upstairs where the double jack had been. This went somewhat more quickly (practice makes perfect) and soon I had a phone working upstairs as well. On my way down the stairs I realized that I could have simply plugged the phone into the back of my computer.

For a change of pace, I spent odd moments throughout the day making spanakopeta. I needed to use up various containers of cheese and had some Fillo dough in the freezer. A bag of spinach had been sitting in the refrigerator for a week, bought during one of my fits of vegetarianism that come and go lately. It made a delicious supper. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 08, 2005

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Settling In

This is the way the dining room looks now. I've taken several pictures of the house since I moved in, but I'll have to post them one at a time since I can't figure out how to put more than one picture at a time on my blog. Above is the hall, and below are two views of the living room. I am begining to feel like this is where I live, but I still can't shake the feeling that I don't quite belong here. The house is big and I feel like there is too much space around me. It is a real house, not an apartment and not a funny little house like I lived in before. It's a house where a family probably lived, a working class family. The neighborhood is a family neighborhood where a schoolbus stops and kids with backpacks walk. There are cats roaming free, and flower gardens, and trash cans at the curb on thursday nights. It reminds me very much of where I grew up. Kids are always playing in the street, which is a hill like Boynton St. was. My friends and I played in the street, too, but then it was a soapbox derby we drove instead of the go-kart the children next door use. We played badminton, and they play football. Still, the sounds they make are the same sounds. Their laughing and yelling sounds like we must have sounded. I am old enough now to enjoy those sounds, smiling my old-lady's smile like the more indulgent adults did when I was little. Now I am the one slowing down as they bound out of the way of my approaching car. I am the one who carries groceries into the house as they streak past me after a loose ball. I am the one who watches with concern from the porch as they tackle each other and wrestle, wondering if they have hurt themselves. Because of them, these children, I have become somebody I hardly recognize, someone I have not been before.

In this neighborhood I am the woman next door, the one with the dogs. Posted by Picasa
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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Life and Death

I have just gotten out of the tub. Since I have no shower in this house (yet, I hope) , I have had to accustom myself to taking baths. It reminds me of the times I spent in the same type of claw foot tub when I was a young girl and teen-ager on Boynton St. I relished those times with the door locked securely against intruders when I filled the tub with water so hot I could only get into it by small increments. I submerged myself as much as I could and luxuriated there, sometimes for more than an hour, daydreaming, fantasizing, planning, reviewing the recent past. Tonight I gave myself the same deep hot water, but I found that my tolerance for lying there had diminished considerably since those old days. I had no daydreams, no fantasies, no plans. I thought of how much money all that hot water cost, of my smothered beef perhaps over-cooking downstairs. I wondered if the dogs were taking advantage of my relative immobility by getting into the trash or peeing somewhere. I noticed that the shims I had put under the bureau beside the tub had over-compensated for the tilt of the floor so that it now tilts in the opposite direction. I considered where I might put more towel racks, and what color to paint the walls. I felt restless, anxious to get up and do something. So much for revisiting past pleasures.

Carrie and Gabe were here this week-end, from late Friday to noon today. I was very glad to see them and though the time was brief, it was a nice visit. We spent a lot of time talking over cups of coffee, went out to eat last night. They went with me to the gallery to see the show and to Will and Lisa's antique store. We watched a movie together last night, and Gabe helped me with a few computer questions I had. I left them for about an hour yesterday afternoon to go to the burial of Lindy's little boy who died six months ago. Even though I hated to give up the time with the kids, I really wanted to be there so Lindy would know that I was one of the throngs of people who wanted to support her.

It was a beautiful sunny day for the memorial. We all gathered near the tiny grave, probably sixty or seventy people. Ever considerate, Lindy presented the crowd with a basket of kleenex packages from which we were encouraged to help ourselves. She expressed her own feelings about the loss of her son, and then asked others to tell memories or thoughts they might have. Many people did so, including some little children who were holding bouquets of flowers. The air was filled with the sound of soft crying. David, Maxine, and I stood together, transfixed by the scene. Maxine, who was very close to the little boy, wept openly. David and I were more reserved, with tears sliding more or less silently down our faces. Lindy's husband, Evan's father, spoke, too, and Ariel played Evan's favorite song on her violin. At the end a couple sang. We were then asked to take a white carnation from two large baskets. Lindy, amazing Lindy, summoned up her courage, looked at her husband and said, "Let's do it." She removed the cover from the grave and we all filed by, dropping our flowers into the hole.

When it was over, David brought me home and I went back to my life, walking into the house where my own wonderful child was waiting. I thought about how I used to say that all I wanted from my children was that they survive. Never was I more aware of the magnitude of what I asked of them and how lucky I was that they had done it.

Today I let the chickens outside. Annie followed Demeter out into the yard as if she didn't have a care in the world and started pecking at bugs.