Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Glorious #2: Watching Kiley's parents become parents. What an amazing journey this is! They are wonderful, caring, fun, silly, serious, careful, joyful and responsible parents and I have no doubts they will raise Kiley to be a spectacular person.
Glorious #3: I bought my wonderful house in Machias, close enough so I can smell the sea and hear the gulls but tucked alongside a town forest. Deer in my backyard, geese in my sky, my children just across the driveway. It is my own piece of heaven and I cannot wait until I get there permanently.
Glorious #4: Getting to spend almost a wholeextra year with my friends, whom I thought I would be leaving last February. We had planned on a winter move but instead, here I am, still carefully held in their loving arms and enjoying all the fun they can provide.
Glorious #5: Two first place Maine Press Association Awards and a first place in the New England Association of Newspaper Editors. Awards from your peers are always the best.
Glorious #6: All the people who let me into their homes, their businesses, their lives, their joys and their tragedies this year for interviews. It has been an honor and a privilege to tell their stories.
But then again, 2008, there were times I hated you, cursed you and will be so glad to be rid of you. I lost my mother, my dear Betty Lou, in just four days and my heart will never recover. I couldn't move to my home in Machias and instead lived virtually in the office, spending way too much time alone. I failed to understand the complexities of my son Daniel and offended him and caused us to be apart for two long, unbearable months. My beautiful grandsons, Joseph and James, moved even farther away: from Connecticut to South Carolina. Eric went to Afghanistan. Matt lost his brother. I had to watch too many homes burn, too many cars crash, too many people hurt; dead babies, dead soldiers, wounded hearts, lost businesses, failed dreams.
But, right around the corner, comes a second chance, a new opportunity for rebirth, revival and re-energy. 2009. I kind of like the sound of that - I never really liked the number 8 anyway. So here is a toast (okay, so it's decaf coffee, but...) to better days, longer laughs, higher highs, deeper relationships, and growth - personal, economical and spiritual. To love. To life. To moving forward. And here are my resolutions: move, move move. do something as often as possible that scares or challenges me. read even more. write even more. be more understanding, patient and kind. watch less television. find peace.
May your resolutions be achievable and your 2009 dreams come true.
Monday, December 29, 2008
2. I was alone, sitting in a restaurant having a salad, reading a book, and my BEST FRIEND FOREVER Trudy saw my car and came in to visit with me, making my heart smile! And she invited me to lunch tomorrow for homemade soup...
3. The librarian not only knows what I like, but will put books on hold I HAVEN'T EVEN ASKED FOR just because she knows I will like them. And she's not even cranky when I tell her I HATED them.
4. When Reny's ran out of ice melt granules, they sent me to Hancock Lumber, where I not only found plenty, but they were CHEAPER. And, because I've wrenched my back shoveling, the Hancock Lumber person carried the big bucket to the car for me.
5. While out and about today, I passed one of the town's sanding trucks three times and I know the driver, John, and he waved to me EACH of the three times we passed. Too bad he wasn't on my street, which looks like a retreating glacier, with ruts that could swallow a horse whole.
6. When I took all my Christmas trash, cardboard boxes and recyclables to the transfer station this morning, both attendants called me by name and gave me two BRAND NEW recycling bins. They also helped carry the stinky bags to the dumpster. Does this make me famous? That the dump attendants know me? Or does it just make me trashy?
7. The dog groomer didn't want to charge me for clipping Emma's toenails this morning because Emma cried through the whole three minute procedure. What a little scam artist, she is, trying to get out of paying...I wonder if I should have tried that with the ice melting granules.
8. The time and temperature sign at People's Heritage Bank said 40 degrees. Across the street, the one at Skowhegan Savings Bank said 41. And my car said it was 39. I'm just going to pretend it is 75 with a balmy breeze from the east.
9. I picked up the mail and the post office had DELIVERED, not REJECTED three Christmas cards that had been addressed to the house where I moved from last February. One of Santa's elves must be hiding inside one of those rolling mail sorters back there because that truly is a miracle.
10. And the best one: I watched THREE, Three, THREE people rush to help an older man cross a very icy patch behind the town office. He was wearing actual galoshes. GALOSHES - with the little buckles and all. In many places, that poor old geezer would have fallen flat on his ass. And that would have started a long, downhill slide because he could have broken his hip and had to be moved to a nursing home, away from his wife of 54 years, who he still very much loved and liked, and then he might have given up on life and .... But not in my town. He was embarrassed by all the fuss but shook hands all around and wished everyone a happy new year. And the three people smiled and went about their business.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Faye's cat Orange claimed Matt's sweatshirt present for himself. He weighs about 24 pounds so we didn't put up an argument. Besides, he clearly is giving me the evil eye. I know when to back off.
It appears that Kiley's favorite present was her own remote control so that she would stop ordering movies from the real one.
There was a great sense of disappointment when she found more polka dots. "What is the matter with this family?" she asked. "Haven't you ever heard of stripes?"
The day was saved with some really good tasting socks. They were followed by a bite of a beef stick from Dad's stocking, a mouthful of wrapping paper and a few needles from the Christmas tree.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
2. I wish that for once - JUST FOR ONCE - I didn't cry when hearing Johnny Mathis sing Christmas songs.
3. I wish that I could stop eating these damn cookies that seem to be growing by themselves in my kitchen, or the cakes, or the homemade bread, or...
4. I wish that instead of cookies, my friends will bring booze next year. Lots of booze.
5. I wish you could know the joy I felt this morning when my seven month old granddaughter called me on the telephone and said "ho ho ho." As least that is what she thought she said.
6. I wish the dog would poop faster when we go out because last night it was 12 degrees.
7. I wish I had one of those transporters that they used in the Star Trek Enterprise so I could magically bring every soldier home for Christmas, plopping them down at the dinner table where they could shout "Pass the turkey!"and their beloved mothers could tuck them sweetly in their beds tonight and then Santa would leave a note in all stockings that says "No more war" and peace would finally, FINALLY reign and they would never, ever have to leave again.
8. I wish that I could install radiant heat in the driveway so I could turn it on and all the snow would just melt away. (Have I already made an anti-snow wish? Tough titties. I hate it.)
9. I wish the boys on the snowmobiles in the park at my back yard would slow down because I keep worrying about them. And put on a helmet, for crying out loud.
10. And I wish you a very, merry Christmas.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Fellow blogger Neas Nuttiness asked what I was reading and I thought it might be fun to share our favorites or what we are reading now, here. We have a loooooong, dark, cold January ahead and it can go much faster if we are surrounded and immersed in some good books. Right now I'm reading Jeffery Deaver's The Sleeping Doll, one of about a dozen he has written (he wrote The Bone Collectcor). I'm working my way through all of his stuff. (Please notice the library sticker in the left corner - I take out about 5 books a week. I'm rabid about books.) But in between I hope to balance the harsh cop/dead bodies/crazed killer stuff with something simpler and softer. Any suggestions? What are you reading right now?
Here are some of my past favorites:
Every book by Alice Hoffman
My Drowning by Jim Grimsley
All of Billie Lett's books
Firefly Cloak, and others, by Sheri Reynolds
Please share. January is loooooooooooooming.
From the kitchen window it was a very welcome sight. All night I could hear the howling wind and the creaking branches of the poor frozen trees.
The drifts had piled up four feet tall against the back door - I had to go out the front entrance and slog my way through to shovel. I had already shoveled a little cul-de-sac there for the dog to use....the snow depth is over her head everywhere else! It is brisk and windy and very cold - 12 degrees - and I've never seen Emma do her business so quickly - in and out in about four seconds! But, this morning with the dawn, the sun has returned. Being "trapped" inside was a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of this season. My friend R's party was canceled and moved to tonight so it was a time to snuggle in with a good book, finish the last of the wrapping and get a little more baking done. I put the finishing touches on a painting for my daughter-in-law A (I have serious reservations about whether she will like it or not!)
Today I'll work mostly from home, using the phone to reach my sources but it looks like a busy day is coming - there have already been two fire calls this morning.
I have a planning board meeting to cover after the party at R's tonight so I'll have to cut my time short there...
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Karen, through clenched teeth: "I can't believe she wore the same sweater.''
I believe that Trudy was pinching Karen's back here, and Karen was just getting ready to put Trudy in a headlock.
Janet: "Hmmmm, which of these delicious snacks should I try first."
Donna: "I can't even look at them. I'm keeping my hands secured so I won't be tempted."
Renata: "I recently read that the more Christmas food you consume, the better your vegetable garden will grow next summer.''
Last night we held our annual Solstice Celebration, the other Goddesses and I. We are a close group - about a dozen of us - and this event every December to welcome back the light is one of the most intimate and meaningful of the year. Of course we start with knoshing and wine! But after visiting, sharing stories and snacking galore, we settle down in a circle, dim the lights and pass a candle. Each person takes the candle and shares their year: the joys, the sorrows, the disappointments, the revelations. Subjects that only other women would understand and accept. We have discussed such intimate subjects as breast cancer, dashed dreams, our children's struggles....most often are the joys: a birth, a milestone reached, a goal attained. Each person speaks from the heart, in a soft voice, while others listen. There is no judging, no commenting, just a sharing of the moments that have marked this past year. Some of the women in our circle have recently been invited, while others have known each other for 30 years or more. We are a family, of sorts, a gathering of goddesses who can rely on each other for strength, humor, energy, and sometimes just a wonderful, all encompassing hug. Our Solstice Celebration is a quiet, reflective time; a time to assess and look forward to a new year, the light returning and a hopeful future. Blessed be.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
and the woodpile next door is all drifted with snow. Lucky me - I got to work from home and snuggle with a good book while good smells came from the kitchen. Mmmmmmmmm.
The electrical black hole seems to have closed for the moment - all the cell phones, the computer and even the scanner acted appropriately for the past 24 hours - or maybe the Ghost at The Mansion has gone home to her mother's for the holidays.
Last night BFFs Trudy and Donna and I took Jin (of the Thanksgiving Day Apple Pie fame) out to dinner to celebrate his early acceptance at NYU. He is over the moon - it was his first choice and he worked so hard. We did Mexican, a fabulous place nearby called Cervasas but I had to report on a town council meeting last night so there was no cervasas for me...tonight I write about selectmen and budgets...aren't you thrilled for me?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Anyway, the current (tee hee) problem began last night when my police scanner went cuckoo. Of the 40 available scanner channels, it completely cleared 20 of them. Just dropped them, eliminated them, zeroed them out. WTF? I asked the scanner. It's a few years old and it runs 24/7 so I thought, oops, time for a new scanner, plus it never answered me about what its problem was.
Then my cell phones started acting up. Conversations were being cut off mid-sentence. Reception was horrible. My bff Trudy said I sounded like I was in a wind tunnel or on fire. I started wandering around The Mansion to find the best reception - which curiously is by sitting comfortably on the couch, with my feet on the coffee table and a cold drink in my right hand, while holding my phone in my left with my head cushioned by a lovely pillow.
But then I went to bed.
I set my alarm - on my cell phone - and went to sleep.
About an hour later, my cell phone woke me and it was completely POSSESSED!
It was raising and lowering the volume lickety split ALL BY ITSELF!
It was connecting to the Internet ALL BY ITSELF!
It was beeping, and pinging and making all kinds of bell sounds ALL BY ITSELF!
None of the buttons would respond. I was POWERLESS or OVERpowered - I'm not sure which. I took the battery out three times before it would begin working correctly.
What is going on?
I'm afraid to use the hair dryer, or turn on the bathroom fan, and don't even get me started on the dangers that may be lurking in the automatic ice maker. I think I even have a lot more static cling going on than usual. Is everything in The Mansion that is powered by electricity suddenly going to go all Stephen King-ish on me?
By the way, I've met Stephen King. He used to come to the basketball games at my kids' high school. He's a really nice man and everyone just left him alone to eat popcorn, cheer and enjoy the game.
Back to the voltage situation, any ideas out there for what is going on? Suggestions for a cleansing or exorcism? Oh, I once bought a house where a man had been murdered in the kitchen and my ex had the minister come and bless the house before we moved in. I used to drive him crazy - the ex, not the minister - by saying, very loudly, "Excuse me Bill" and stepping high over where the body had landed....drove him nuts, I tell ya.
Maybe I need to hold a prayer circle in here...
OMG - I thought the electric villians just got my laptop but I realized I hadn't pushed the power source in all the way and the battery was dying......creeeeeeeepy.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
then it was blueberries...
You think she's a mess? You should see me!
I just (10:30 a.m.) got my first meal in two days. I ate Smartfood popcorn for supper last night, cookies for lunch yesterday afternoon and cold carrots for breakfast...I forgot how demanding this all is. How did we do it with two or three or six????? I'm exhausted and will go to bed as soon as they pick her up this afternoon. What a great time we had though. Can you imagine sleeping with your granddaughter tucked alongside; she is sleeping softly, breathing quietly, in the crook of your arm, snuggled up against you with her little hand patting your arm? HEAVEN must certainly be like this - at least my version.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
was this afternoon in St. Albans. K started the tradition when her two girls - now both graduated from college - were just toddlers. Every year K makes bowls of dough and rolls them out, the kids cut out the shapes and after they are baked, there is a big table with every kind of icing, doodad, candy sprinkle and trim you could imagine.This is the first year there was a second generation at the party, and K had a sweet little apron for Kiley, who had a wonderful time picking through the cookie cutters. K's granddaughter was also there - they are just one month apart - and we got laughing just thinking about the chaos those two girls will cause in the next couple of years.
Now Kiley is sleeping in the next room - her mom is in Portland with a bunch of girls doing shopping and playing, and dad is decorating the entire yard, roof, house, windows, and driveway (or so he says) for Christmas. She was so much fun today: she says HI to everyone, has a new sound, sort of an African click she does with her tongue, and is walking around every coffee table she can find. She is so sweet and happy, grinning with just those two bottom teeth. What an absolute joy.
Friday, December 12, 2008
part of the VERY large kitchen - I think I need rollerblades...
this is the front living room, since it was the only one with a fireplace, that's where I stacked the presents!
This Victorian has plenty of personality, such as leaded glass built ins.
The homeowner is a fabric artist and some of the curtains are hand done, such as this beauty.
As many of you know, I am a homeless homeowner with a sad, sad tale.
I bought a house in Machias early this year - 180 miles from here and two and a half hours away. It was a great deal and I love my house very VERY much and it has a full art studio and borders the town woods and is right next door to my daughter and her family. How perfect is that? I moved all my belongings up there in February, anticipating a March retirement by the news reporter currently covering the area. And then - she changed her mind and said she was waiting until September. And so I waited until September. And then she said she would retire in December. Well - you get the idea. I'm still waiting and everything I own is in Machias and I am here, in my office, in Pittsfield, waiting for her to make up her mind. ugh.
Meanwhile, I've been virtually living in my office since I have a little dog that is unwelcome by a BIG cat at my friend's home that graciously offered me a bedroom. I cannot leave my Emma by herself so I have been spending nearly every waking hour IN THE OFFICE when I am not lolling around at my Machias home.
My views from the office? The side of a building on one side, an office building across the street, and an ATM on the other side. Not to mention that an ice cream parlor opened at the rear of the building this summer and played JIMMY BUFFET music 24 hours a day, and when the town drops off the recycling container in the parking lot behind me, the entire building shakes and the BOOOOM it makes stops my heart.
Well, I bumped into my friend M the other day and she has moved away and started her own business - Fiberphelia, in a Victorian house where she and her family now live. She put her house - right here in Pittsfield - on the market. No one has even looked at it since JULY and so she was looking for a house sitter. VIOLA - two birds with one stone!
I moved in yesterday and I am so rattling around here. There are three bedrooms, a master suite, a sitting room, THREE bathrooms, a formal living room, dining area, kitchen, eating area, and a large family room with a deck overlooking one of the most beautiful parks in the state. There is a finished daylight basement complete with a cedar closet the size of Mt. Rushmore.
Since I only had to move my clothes, bedding and the food in the refrig, it took me like all of thirty seconds.
It's a big echoey (is that a word?) in here since M took most of her belongings with her (how dare she?!)
One of the rooms - the family room - is furnished and my friends are bringing me a kitchen table with four chairs tonight. I have wireless service and a projector DVD on the ceiling that shows movies on the WALL!!!
And what if it sells, you ask? The realtor said she has a dozen more that I could choose from.
NO MORE OFFICE FOR ME!
Last night was a bit freaky here at The Mansion. All those noises that a strange house has and you can't identify yet kept Emma and I awake a good part of the night.
About midnight, I thought Emma had trapped a mouse under a radiator and armed with a dish towel (I couldn't find anything else!) I went to...well, I don't know what I was going to do with just a stupid dish towel. Emboldened by my presence, Emma scratched under the radiator and dragged out : A PEPPERMINT..... It didn't look so scary, all stuck with fuzz like that, and so, after determining that the mint was COMPLETELY dead, we both settled down for some snoozing.
Anyway, we are having an ice storm today and here I am, all cozy in my new digs. Wish you were here...Oh, and if anyone knows of someone looking for a large Victorian home in central Maine with astounding views, let me know.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Eric who loved wrestling and was Number 42 on the football team;
Eric with the really big feet who always sleeps with the covers wrapped around his head, mummy style;
Eric who loves jokes and trying out new high falutin' vocabulary words;
Eric who could eat seven pounds of shepherd's pie all by himself but really favors Portuguese food and Klondike bars;
Eric who loved the girl next door so much that when she didn't love him back, he enlisted in the Army;
Eric who has already served two TWO tours of duty with the U.S. Army in Iraq and by the grace of all the goddesses came home physically intact;
My Eric left yesterday for a year in Afghanistan. Crap. Shit. Goddammit all to Hell. If I captured alll my tears and put them in a tub, I could drown George W. Bush. And I would smile doing it.
Today I put the little light up in the window for the third time - not to be extinguished until he comes home - and I need to be quiet with myself for a little while.
Monday, December 8, 2008
It is my two best friends and myself drinking martinis and playing cards (story to follow). But the problem is this: should they have hair?
Now, you might think the problem is that they have no EYES, but I already know they need eyes - leaving them blind AND bald would just be wrong.
There are a bunch more details for me to add but this painting has been hanging around now for a while and I'm getting awfully attached to those bald heads. I want you ALL to comment - honestly. Is bald beautiful or should I cover those domes toot sweet? EVERYONE NEEDS TO COMMENT so I'll know.
Okay, the story....
We went partying one summer night to a lakehouse nearby. There were about five couples and me (I'm always the odd duck single friend that they drag along with them to show how accepting and tolerant they are.) Anyway, we were all playing cards, GOLF is the name of the game, and my BFF Trudy, on the right in the painting, decided to make chocolate martinis.
She had these VERY tall glasses and she rimmed them in cocoa, swirled some melted chocolate around the inside of the glass, filled them with fabulous martinis and then dropped a chocolate in the bottom.
Well, everyone had said politely "No, thank you" when she offered but she put the glasses in the middle of the table and - enticed by the CHOCOLATE not the LIQUOR I'm sure - we all began sharing them. (I know, but we figured all that alcohol would kill the germs.) OMG, these were the best drinks we had ever tasted! And the portion in each glass was deceptively large...
About four or five refills later, Trudy stood on her chair and declared that she was henceforth and forevermore IMMUNE to martinis, and K, my other BFF on the left in the painting, called her hubby an asshole for passing her bad cards. K's sister had to be helped to the car by her husband.
We never repeated this chocolate martini fiasco again.
SOOOO - please comment on the baldness dilemma. I've been pulling my hair out over this.....sorry for that.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
- and of course unless you count the man who sat on the floor under the bank of telephones, crying, telling whomever was on the other end of the line that his wife had kicked him out of his own house and he couldn't go back for his belongings unless the police accompanied him and he was now in "deep shit, I tell you, really deep shit. I'm telling you. I'm really in trouble.''
- and of course unless you count the man who was REJECTED by TSA as he tried to board a Delta Flight and RAN back to his car in the parking lot with his duffel bag in his hand and dropped off the prohibited stuff - likely shampoo, anti-fungus foot cream and other flammables and incendiaries - and then RAN back into the airport, and RAN through the screening just as final call was under way.
- and of course unless you count the miraculous sight of my daughter and granddaughter coming through the gate, tears in Faye's eyes and a HUGE smile on Kiley's face as she proceeded to tell everyone - including the luggage - "HI" which is the only word she currently knows.
So we came home.
And today I had to give the lay sermon at church. I was so scared...a reporter is an observer, not a participant and even if they were all loving faces out there, and Kiley was still loudly calling out "HI" to all the people in the stained glass windows from the back pew, I was Nervous Nelly up there. I used a giant orange paper clip to distract me while I spoke and kept twisting it in my hands until it flew about three feet to my left from the pulpit, oddly taking direct aim at the organist's eyes but thankfully falling one foot short. whew.
But I am a trooper - yes I am - and I kept right on talking and sermonizing, knowing that EVERYONE saw the orange paper clip try to decapitate the organist.
Afterwards everyone came up and said "it was wonderful" and "thank you" which was quite appropriate because the theme was gratitude.
So now my girls have been reunited with Daddy/Hubby Matt who DROVE from Detroit, MI, and looks like leftover salad, all wilted and green, and they are on their way back home to Machias. My house still smells like pooey diapers, there are fingerprints over all the windows and the dog is hiding under the afghan on the couch, mourning the loss of her favorite friend. Move over Emma, I'm coming under there too!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
I have a winner - the most bizarre press release I have received in 25 years! Apparently, there is a woman, a KRAFTwoman, who has dedicated her life to carving cheese.
Yes, she cuts the cheese.
And apparently she's been cutting the cheese publicly for 27 years.
Friends, while children starve across the country, men pick in dumpsters and women are forced to stand in line at food pantries, this woman takes a 500-pound mammoth wheel of Wisconsin cheddar cheese and carves it up to advertise a big box store. Here in Maine, she is carving moose, chickadees and pine cones into the cheese.
Customers are even encouraged to EAT pieces of the cheese as they fly from her tools...?
Here is an actual excerpt from the press release:
“The Cheese Lady” has been sculpting cheese since 1981. Although yellow Cheddar is the most common, she uses a variety of cheeses large and small including Provolone, Asiago, White Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere and more. She has carved cheeses as small as two ounces – the F-18 fighter jets she sculpted to land on a six-foot-long 640-pound USS Ronald Regan aircraft carrier – and as large as a 12,500-pound cheddar mammoth inscribed with a fierce dragon. Other notable creations include a 120-pound Mickey Mouse and several personalities (Jay Leno, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, Mario Andretti and Wisconsin's own Bret Favre.)
I don't know about you, but now my holiday season is complete. I cannot imagine anything more inspiring that Katie Couric portrayed in Gouda...The only thing that would make my Christmas better would be meeting Duffy Lyon, the Butter Cow Lady, who carved the Last Supper out of butter for the Iowa State Fair or the guy who made the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria from parmesan cheese, pizza dough and lasagna noodles.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
4 T. butter, softened and cut into four pieces
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. half and half
Combine all except half-and-half in a food processor until it reaches coarse crumb stage. Add half-and-half and pulse again until it forms a ball.
Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet or parchment for 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Don't make toooo many ahead as they will spoil. I keep mine in a jar in the refrig - EMMA loves them
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
What a busy afternoon I'm expecting. My BFF Trudy - an extraordinary bead artist - and I and another friend, Renata, also an artist, will hold our annual holiday open house. I'll bring about 6 or 7 paintings and we'll set up displays all over Trudy's house and dozens of friends, coworkers and others will come and go. Trudy makes mulled cider, we drink lots of wine...in fact, this is truly our first party of the season. The bonus is that we actually sell quite a bit and make our Christmas cash!
Sorry the flash muted the colors on this one, called Mother's Day, but take my word for it - it is really bright! I cannot live a life or paint a painting without bright, happy color. Especially with the dreary winter bearing down on us. Wish me luck and lots of sales!
Monday, December 1, 2008
By this morning, it was deep enough to plow - just about two inches, but now it is raining and turning everything into a dangerous slush.
But still there is a wonder and peacefulness about the first snow. I look from my office window, across the street at the bank and the huge fir is dusted as if with confectioner's sugar. When I used to live on the farm and drove into Pittsfield to take the kids to school and go to work, there was a lovely stretch of road where the evergreens stood tall along both sides, their boughs outstretched as if in protection of us. And in the winter, when they were covered in snow, the brilliant white dazzling against the dark, deep green, I told my children they had their party dresses on.
Today, even though the roads are messy and I had to shovel the sidewalk and my little dog is shocked by the cold and wet on her tiny feet, my world has its party dress on.
My car had on a bonnet of white and a shawl across its hood. The little walkway through the park next door is covered in footprints, people coming and going from their busy day, while the red berries on the firebushes that line the park blaze in contrast to the white of the snow.
The sounds are muffled and a bit of unusual quiet seems to surround me.
The plows came through early, early this morning and heaped a small mountain of wet snow and slush at the end of the parking lot. Not sturdy enough for climbing and sliding down but it beckons....
I absolutely despise winter: it fences me in and doesn't allow me the freedom to move as easily as I'd like. It causes accidents, raises the oil bill, makes you buy and wear heavy clothing and ugly boots. And as I age, I'm much more afraid of falling now.
But there is magic in the first real snow. A simple wonder that we have as children when we spot those first few flakes of the season and believe that all is possible. That wishes can come true, that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are right around the corner, and that dreams can still be fulfilled.
My wish for myself this holiday season is that I never lose that wonder, that joy at Mother Nature's miracles and abilities. That I still want to catch that first snowflake on my tongue, slide down that little mountain of snow and whack my brother with a well-placed snowball. That I can find pure joy in rolling a snowman, trying to stay on course when ice skating and hearing the crunch of the snow under snowshoes. That the beauty of the chickadees at my feeder, the smell of woodsmoke on the evening air and the incredible Jack Frost patterns on the windows never lose their ability to surprise and delight me.
I can almost hear Santa's sleigh bells faintly ringing in my ear....Ah.....the enchanting magic of it all.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
They are now (1:15 Saturday afternoon) nearing Ohio and are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Matt is tired but doing well and Faye said Kiley has been amazing. Faye had the foresight to pack some new toys that she had been saving for Christmas as little surprises along the way. But she says what has fascinated Kiley the most is the reflection from Matt's cell phone on the ceiling of the car! They think they'll be at Matt's mother's house just outside of Detroit MI by 6 p.m. or so. Goddess speed my little family - be safe and hold each other close.
Friday, November 28, 2008
My heart aches for Matt, who is one of the kindest people I know, to think of the pain he is suffering right now. He just lost his beloved father last year, and Jake was his only sibling. Jake was in the Marines and, upon his return from Iraq several years ago, he was in a horrific car accident. He received serious head injuries which left him with impairments. Since the accident, he had struggled with life and his ability to cope with most situations was compromised. He had been living in an assisted-situation but continued to struggle.
Matt worried about him daily.
My thoughts and energy are with my children today as they take this sad journey.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Donna set a lovely table, didn't she? Everything was wonderful - especially the company. Donna's sister, brother-in-law and neice from Massachusetts were there. It was so kind of them to share the holiday with me - my kids were all away and I had to work. I was only able to stay a couple of hours but it was warm and loving. That's what I'm most thankful for today: friends like Donna who have opened up their hearts and their homes to me. They are my sanctuary, my shelter and, often, my strength.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
This was going to be my lunch. No, it is not brown rice, it is BURNED rice. This is what happens to butter and rice when the phone rings...I now have candles burning all over the place to mask the stink. I may just throw that pan away to avoid having to do the scrubbing. (I have been known to throw turkey roasters away just so I don't have to clean them.)
I made an interesting discovery, however, even if it is gross and oh so unhealthy. This rice was from a four cheese and broccoli rice-a-roni box so I ended up cooking some bow tie pasta and using a bit of milk and the sauce mix from the roni - heavenly!!! Gotta make lemonade from lemons ya know.
It only costs $5 for non-students to go to the University of Maine at Machias pool. There are often other swimmers there , including children, so the socialization is another positive incentive for Kiley.
She has no fear of the water and loves to splash.
Faye teaches her to swim by using a ball as incentive. She even loves to be dunked....but not too often!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Today I have retreated to Machias, where I sit by the woodstove, snuggled in its warmth, while snow swirls around my little house.
I have come here to heal from Firefighter Snowman's death and the pain I witnessed his fellow firefighters experiencing. I was a long, dreadful week. And so when it was over, I ran to Machias. Where it is quiet and peaceful. Where I can sit and write, paint for hours and cook big wonderful meals to share. I can also...
But still they go. Never questioning that their community and their neighbors need them. I've seen them covered in ice, slip and fall and quickly get back up again, distraught because they can't get inside fast enough, struggling with heavy equipment in 90 degree heat, and still returning, again and again to help.
There are lovely poems out there that say it much better than I can but in my heart I love these volunteers. They are among the few of us that genuinely care what happens to the man down the street, the woman on a rural road, the children in an upstairs bedroom. They care if your business is damaged and can't reopen, and will carry file cabinets and boxes of records from burning structures. They care when they reassure you through the smashed car window as they try to remove you from your crumpled car. They care as they strip off their heavy turnout gear and dive into the water to pull you from a swift current. They care when they put the oxygen mask on your little kitty or puppy, trying to get them to breathe again. They care as they tell you that you will be alright, that the ambulance is coming, or use their personal cell phones to call your mother, or husband, or child. They care as they advise you about contacting the Red Cross, or simply provide fire safety tips to a classroom of second graders.
From "stop, drop and roll" to suiting up as McGruff to handing out smoke detectors, I thank the goddesses every day for those who will step in and do anything it takes to ensure my safety.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Girls, our girls are losers. Our breasts failed. Our knockers aren't knocking. We are tit-defeated.
Here's the poop: I commented on the Bye Bye Pie blog, where June was telling a story about getting her mammies grammed. I told the story of our summer Goddess parties. Here is the exact comment:
"Mammograms really don't hurt after 60 because our boobies are already pancakes. They are so flat that my friends, The Goddesses, and I go skinny dipping during every full moon in summer at one of the Goddess's pools and you know those long, squishy floating tubes - I think they call them fanoodles? - well we hook our boobs over the fanoodle and see who can float. Whoever stays above water is the winner, or the loser, depending on your point of view. We have discovered that little boobs won't grab the noodle, really big boobs will keep you afloat without the noodle, and medium boobs of women with more than two children can be slung over the top and will keep you afloat long enough to survive the Titantic sinking.''
But - and sit down here or hold onto someone strong - we didn't win June's Comment Of The Week Contest! WTF???I know, I am standing here beside myself too, my mouth agape and my eyes about the size of a baseball. Our boobies are losers! And I have been thinking for decades that, collectively, we have the finest ta tas in New England - no on the East Coast.
I am so friggin depressed. As a punishment to my LOSER titties, I'm not doing a self-exam this week. That'll fix um.
Speaking of breasts, I was hopelessly stuck in my bra the other night and couldn't figure out what was wrong. I mean, I've been wearing a bra now for about 47 years. You'd think I could work one. You know the scene in Friends were Joey just snaps his fingers and bras come flying loose all over the place? Well it wasn't working for me.
I had been wearing it all day
Either I have absolutely no ta tas to support or my bras are crap.
WAIT A MINUTE - didn't I almost go to work Friday with my SHIRT inside out too? Is it possible I have a bigger problem than second rate tits?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
I say 1/2 because one poor soul was on his back, being attacked by the others. The flock had apparently adopted the prisoners' code of silence and nobody was talking so I don't know why they were so mad at him. I mean, what could a turkey do to piss off its fellow turkeys? Strut a little bit too cockily? Gobble after 10 p.m.? Hog all the grubs? Brag about its breast size? The owner carried him out to a solitary confinement pen. He'll still be toast by Sunday, in fact, they were all Dead Turkeys Walking.
It's Thanksgiving, you know.
I, for one, am thankful I don't have to pluck those gazillion and a 1/2 turkeys.
I am also thankful that I discovered my shirt was on backwards before I left home this morning.
I'm thankful for cell phones because both the newspaper's photographer and I got lost on the way to the turkey farm this morning trying to use directions provided by the FARM ITSELF.
I'm thankful that this horrid week is almost over, almost over, almost over....ooops. Am I repeating myself?
I'm thankful you pointed that out.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
What is it about nose picking, which apparently is a cross-cultural, uni-sex, non-age-discriminating pasttime?
My BFF Trudy is a children's librarian and she has to threaten kids with their lives if they don't get their dirty little fingers out of their noses while reading and turning the pages......yuk.
A teacher at one of our local schools has a reputation for picking and then storing his mined treasures behind his ear. What the hell is he saving it for? DO INQUIRING MINDS REALLY WANT TO KNOW?
And what about driving on the Interstate? Doesn't it seem that nose picking is sort of the official sport of highway driving? No wonder the toll takers wear latex gloves...
And then there is the infamous farmers' blow, which entails putting a finger on one side of a very runny nose, taking a deep breath and then SHOOTING the snot out of the other nostril. Of course, this maneuver is following by a cleansing wipe on the arm of the shirt - or back of a glove - or cuff of a jacket. This seems to work best with an audience.
(Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I am hereby reluctantly admitting that I have done the farmers' blow myself while hiking. Sorry.)
Okay, as long as we are coming clean, here is a pathetic admission: One of my children - the perpetrator will not fess up - used to hide boogers under the arm of the sofa. How ultimately despicable and disgusting! My children are all adults now, with their own homes. I wonder if I surreptitiously check each of their sofas I could find the boogey man (or woman) still in operation...
You will not believe this: Wiki says nose picking "is an extremely common habit, with some surveys indicating that it is almost universal, with people picking their nose an average of about four times a day.'' FOUR TIMES A DAY! It even has an official name: rhinotillexis. Two people who responded to a 1995 survey of 1,000 adults claimed to spend between 15 to 30 minutes and one to two hours a day picking their nose (ARE YOU KIDDING ME? TWO HOURS? WOULDN'T THEIR HAND FALL ASLEEP?) and there is a video on YouTube of George Bush picking his nose. Somehow that doesn't really surprise me....
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Faye also sent me a great picture of Kiley enjoying her first snowfall in Machias this morning (the sun is shining here) No matter WHAT is wrong, the amazing Kiley can fix it. Faye said Kiley is learning new sounds and practicing a very gutteral G. See? She is already speaking German! I TOLD you she was amazing...
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
and I had an interview with a high school class in Mullens Woods, a 115-acre preserve. It was settled by two Irish brothers in the 1850s and bought by the Nature Conservancy in the 1950s. There is little left of the original home, barn, ice house, brickyard, etc. than a crumbling granite and stone foundation. Here and there are little debris piles, such as the bowl, basin and tea kettle here. It would have been lovely but my thoughts keep straying back to Mike Snowman and the pain of his fellow firefighters. This is going to be a helluva week...
The funeral is Saturday and hundreds of uniformed firefighters are expected to attend. We'll all stand in the street because there is no way we will fit in the tiny church in Hartland.
But in the midst of all this was a true loving kindness. The Pittsfield Fire Department chaplain called me this morning just to see if I was okay. His assistant chief had asked him to check on me. How wonderful, unselfish and unexpected. See why I love firefighters?
Monday, November 17, 2008
But that is not the real story here. This is the tragedy of what really happened at that fire:
I watched a man die, a hero who died in the line of duty.
Hartland Firefighter Michael Snowman - only 49 - died of a massive heart attack at that house fire pictured here. Mike was a VOLUNTEER - who ran from his job at the local gas company to see what purpose he could serve at the fire.
At first we thought that Mike had just fallen over a nest of hoses. But he didn't get up. And he didn't move. And Scott Noble of the Pittsfield Fire Department began screaming for help. Mike was a big man and it took a bit of work and about four men and women to get him up and sitting on the step of the truck, where he was talking to rescue workers, knew where he was, what he was doing. And then his eyes rolled back and he turned blue. Nothing they did could revive him. There he was on the edge of the roadway, laying in the water spilled from the fire truck, his fellow firefighters just feet away fighting the house fire, another firefighter sitting astride him, doing CPR, and he died.
Everyone at the scene was stunned but kept working, doing what they are trained to do.
About 2 we got the word that he had been airlifted to EMMC but there was nothing anyone could do for him. These firefighters - strong men who lift hoses, charge into burning homes, rescue pets, pull apart cars and trucks to save the injured, scramble through woods, barns, up stairs, down cellars, on rooftops, any where they need to go - these brave men stood on the side of the road and cried. They were devastated and bereft.
Tonight at 6 o'clock, when they run the fire department's test tones over my scanner, they will do a last call for Mike Snowman. Goodbye Mike. You were a hero for more than 25 years to the fire departments you served. I for one will miss you.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
2. Why don't we subsidize the price of milk the same way we do savings and loans?
3. Why does the man who runs the dump in my town make more money than one of our schoolteachers?
4. Why do washers eat socks (and my niece's thongs)?
5. Why is the sexist, trash of a show "Two and A Half Men" on television at an hour when children are watching?
6. Why don't jean manufacturers lie and sell size 16 jeans marked as size 8 to make us feel better?
7. Why is there always one word that I can't get in the morning crossword puzzle (today it was "city on the Rhone Delta" - I don't even know where the damn delta is, much less the city)?
8. Why does one of the best songs you have ever heard come on the radio just as you pull into the driveway?
9. Why does the phone always ring when you are in the bathroom?
10. Why does the dog (or cat) always get sick (or halk up a hairball) on the carpet, just three inches from bare floor?
11. Why can I remember exactly what happened in fifth grade on the playground with Sherry Longren and yet I don't know where I put my shoes last night?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
When she is overexcited, she makes this pig-snorting sort of noise which we all find endearing, but this was FAR beyond that. As I was trying to calm her with one hand and call the vet with the other, she sank to the floor. I alerted the vet I was coming, grabbed her and ran.
By the time I put her in the front seat of the car, she was barely breathing. By the luck of all the Goddesses, the vet is only one mile down the road. I screeched in the driveway and bless them, the vet techs were actually holding the doors open for me!
I was without shoes, carrying my limp sweetheart, screaming "EMMA'S IN TROUBLE!" at the top of my lungs.
As I laid her on the table, she was not breathing at all! Two steroid shots and a few puffs of blessed handsome veterinarian's breath into her snout and she was revived.
They are keeping her there for a few hours and forcing oxygen on her and they will then send her home with a syringe to keep on hand in the refrig for emergencies and some steroids by mouth.
Can I tell you this was the worst experience ever???? My fear at losing my best friend cannot possibly be explained. She is my listening post, my companion, my pal, my dinner partner, I read her all my stories and I swear, I SWEAR, she actually critiques them, she is the light of my life......whew. I know that every one of you with pets knows exactly my level of terror.
I need to go sit down.
and. have. a. big. drink.
and it's not even noon.
UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!
My little sweetie is home, weary but with the ability to still wag her tail. She is sleeping in the living room on the orange rug in the sun. Resting. I may just lay down right next to her and join her in a good nap. I have pills and syringes and feel armed to attack should she begin struggling to breathe again. But now I'm afraid to leave the house...what if she fails while I'm gone?
In my upsetness over Emma's near-death experience, I sat at this computer and ate an entire bag of Snyder's Pretzel Sticks and drank half a bottle of pomegranate dry soda. (See Weldable Cookies post on Gluttony - it will explain everything.)(OMG - I just read the bag and its says a serving of pretzels is only 15 sticks. WTF? That can't be right.) Aside from being ready to explode and unable to remove my shoes due to all the swelling from the pretzel salt, I need some advice. Beyond turning my keyboard upside down and banging it on the desk, does anyone know how to get about fourteen pounds of pretzels crumbs out of it?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
My brother who served in Vietnam.
My "son" Eric who served, twice, in Iraq.
And every other woman and man who gave of their time, their souls and sometimes their lives so that I can sit here and blog....
Go to the Weldable Cookies blog on my site and click on the YouTube video that D. has downloaded....no one needs any other words.
Selfishness is defined in Webster's : an undue concern over personal profit or pleasure; lacking consideration for others. I think what I saw first hand this weekend was the second definition, the lack of caring and consideration for others' feelings.
I feel that when we interact with others, others that LOVE us, we actually carry their hearts in our hands, that we have to be mindful - always - that what we do will affect them. It's not out of an air of self-importance that I think this. It's not because I think I am so important in their lives that they must cow-tow or cater to me. It is because I believe, deeply, that we have a responsibility to each other - those in our lives that we have let inside our hearts - a deep responsibility to be careful and caring with our words and actions.
This weekend, two people that I love very much were very uncareful and uncaring in their actions and hurt a whole bunch of other people I love. This couple thought only of their own problems, their own words, their own selfish needs, and by making a choice to absent themselves from a family gathering, they hurt people. They caused a riff in our family. They caused pain and tears. They caused worry. Because they could only see their needs, they were neglectful in seeing how their actions affected others. This couple's lives could have been even richer had they fulfilled their responsibility to family and thought of a fine brother first. Instead, they chose not to. The operative word here is CHOSE.
A friend said at breakfast today that unselfishness comes with maturity. But I don't agree. I think a selfish person ALWAYS remains a selfish person, that something is missing in their DNA or their soul or their heart that enables them to see the other person first, to empathize, to recognize the way that they can make a life better, or ease someone else's pain. A selfish person even sees a kind deed as a reflection of themselves. ("I worked so hard for them. I did that just for her. I, I, I, I....")
Now don't get me wrong...I firmly believe there is a place in this world for selfishness, particularly when applied as self-preservation. We have to learn to say no to some things, if it would negatively affect us, even if saying yes would please someone else. We must learn to be selfish in the face of an abuser. We must think of ourselves first in terms of food, shelter, and employment. We must selfishly protect our spirits and souls and turn away from those that would steal that safety and security from us.
But when there is a clear choice:
1. suck it up for 24 hours, act like grownups and put your own problems aside to make others happy; or
2. abandon those who care for you, fail to even acknowledge their phone calls of concern and trade a family gathering for a trip to the ice cream store;
the choice must be the high road.
If you are very tired, and a son calls and asks for a ride to work? You give the ride to work.
If you have little money and someone needs gas or lunch funds? You share.
If a family member or friend is in need and you can help in any way? You help.
If someone calls and needs to share a difficult moment? You listen.
If there is ANY way you can put a smile on someone's face? You do it.
Why would you ever reject a chance to exhibit kindness? Being kind - the ultimate unselfish act - is not something left for whim. It is how you CHOOSE to live your life.
Most of the world has outgrown and matured beyond temper tantrums and screaming fits when when we don't get exactly what we want. But in some people, that childish selfishness has simply been replaced by a more subtle version of self-centeredness.
We see it in the pettiness of everyday behavior - cutting off another car to get a good parking spot, slipping ahead of others in line because we don't want to wait ourselves, taking the biggest piece for ourselves. The childish variety at least has the virtue of being obvious, as opposed to hidden beneath a veneer of nicety and decor. "I look great. I have a new car, a beautiful house, expensive things..'' is the motto, while the quality of life is so not linked to those possessions. No one's value is measured by the value of their things. Value only comes from the goodness of one's spirit.
My mother used to say "You reap what you sow." Plant seeds of selfishness, you end up with a bitter harvest.
Selfishness is like a worm, digging its way into a soul, killing off friends, family bonds and other relationships, so that - in the end - the selfish person ends up all alone. Mother Theresa said "One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”
That, I believe, is what happens to selfish people. In the end, that is what they are left with - only themselves in the mirror, a reflection of broken dreams, broken promises and broken hearts.
Monday, November 10, 2008
The long drive down and back by myself was definitely worth it.