Monday, January 31, 2011

This Old House.....

 Thimbleanna made me do it.  All she had to say was "Abandoned Building." Abandoned houses intrigue me. Look at this, then close your eyes. And Imagine!

  • what it was like when it was new,
  • and someone regularly mowed the grass, and pruned the shrubs;
  • when shouts and laughter echoed 'round the garden, 
  • and bikes leaned at crazy angles 'gainst the wall;
  • when dogs barked joyfully and raced for balls tossed by freckled kids on reckless bikes;
  • and crisp white curtains fluttered at the windows, and panes, now gray and grimy, gleamed in the morning sun; 
  • when flowers blazed where weeds now rule;
  • when  "Honey, I'm home!" brought children tumbling out to greet him;
  • and delicious smells drifted from the kitchen.;
  • when all the relatives came for Thanksgiving, and parked every which way under the trees;
  • and Christmas saw a fir tree lugged up the steps into the living room, and there bedecked with ornaments and fairy lights;
  • when someone's dreams were in full swing......
  • ."and the bird was on the wing."                        


Do you think old houses remember? As the weeds grow up and the Spanish moss hangs down, do they weep for all their ghosts?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Read, Laugh, Bawl....

"What are you reading these days?" Ali wanted to know. My night table is groaning under the pile,  but it's hard to say what, exactly, I'm reading. Everything and nothing. Let me see....

The book that's been in the pile the longest is "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. I just dip in and out of there occasionally.....Eeeeeh....not inspired.

"Tinkers" by Paul Harding caught my eye on a sale shelf at the university bookstore back in November. Tinkers, with their horse-drawn caravans were part of the landscape when I was growing up, so I was intrigued. And more so by the Pulitzer Prize sticker on the cover. It is the author's first novel. I tried, but it was slow going, and so it sank down .....down.....down.

"The Art of Loving" was a Christmas present. I've read it before but I wanted my own copy and now I've got it!

"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy has been on my TBR list for ages. It won the Booker Prize...
I finally checked it out from the library....and made it to page six. It's due back in two days. 

The problem has to be me. I have not been able to focus or concentrate....

"Sarah's Key" and "The Lace Reader" arrived in the mail from my friend, Marilyn, a couple weeks ago. We pass books back and forth all the time. Started "Sarah's Key."  It was really interesting....Really.. But my book marker is stalled on page forty......

At the library, one day, ["What on earth were you doing at the library with that unread stack of books at home?" you might well ask]  I came across Jonathan Franzen's book "The Corrections." Big hit back in 2001, and he has, only now, written a second one. So I checked out "Corrections" to see what all the brouhaha was about. I like his writing style, but I haven't warmed yet to his characters. My book marker made it all the way to page one hundred and forty nine though. So there is hope..

And then "Room" by Emma Donoughue, hove into sight. She's Irish. That's got to be in her favor, right? And the reviewers were gushing.....While waiting, I tried to read another of her books. Decidedly not interested in the subject matter, I returned it to the library and thought I might take myself off the list for the raved about "Room." But before I could, I got a call saying  "The book you requested is in. You may pick it up....."  It looks like I was destined to give it a go. I'm on page eighty and stalled.

Marilyn e-mailed me again.....Always brief and staccato....."Read this." The link took me to "Lift" by Kelly Corrigan. The library only had some kind of media copy, which I could download to my computer. Ha! Do they know who they are dealing with? I actually went through the motions and it appeared to work. But hi-tech and me make very strange bedfellows. Totally not compatible. Sure enough, all I got was gobbledygook, computer hieroglyphics. I gave up. If only I lived within an asses' roar of a decent bookstore!

 Had to be content with the book section at Target. Found "Chosen By A Horse" by Susan Richards. Never heard of her, but I couldn't put it down. I rationalized buying it rather than looking for it at the library with the thought that our horse crazed California Girl would love it too and I'd pass it on.

I read the whole thing!
It made me laugh and it made me sob. My grandfather was a vet back in the early part of the nineteen hundreds. He dealt mostly with horses. I never knew him as he died before I was born, but we had a collection of horse books on our shelves at home that came from him. I used to pour over the the illustrations and make endless drawings and think I loved horses. But though I thought they were magnificent animals, face to face, I was intimidated. My father was horse-crazy growing up, being around them so much. He wanted to be a jockey but he grew too tall!  It's an abominable miscarriage of justice that he didn't live to meet his grand daughter, who obviously inherited the horse gene from him... Reading this book, by a woman who not only loves, understands, and is no more intimidated by a horse than by a pussycat, but also writes with sensitivity and humor, gave me a look inside my daughter's brain. Even if you are skittish around horses like me, you will love this book!

 I want to finish all of these books. But I feel like a ten year year old on crack, with attention deficit issues. You've seen the ads---"This is your brain on crack..."

Well, this is my brain on stress!

Go read!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Making the Most of the Verb "To make"

I've just been over at Jen's, reading her daunting list of New Year's resolutions. I could rattle off a list of my own recurring resolutions without even so much as a glance at a list. Assume a sing-song voice and repeat after me:

1. I will not start any new quilting projects this year because, if I swore off housework, reading, cooking, shopping, bathing, sleeping, socializing and gardening, and holed up in my sewing room, with catered meals slipped periodically under the door, it would still take me at least five years to finish everything in there that is half done.

2. I will not darken the door of any quilt shop this year, because I do not need any more fabric. Want is another matter entirely. One I will ignore this year.

3. I will organize my sewing room this year----- A little louder please--- with  feeling!

4. I will organize my sewing room this year............That's better!

Well, you get the picture. Every year the same tired old resolutions, halfheartedly made, even more halfheartedly implemented.

So I made one resolution this year: To make something every day. The general idea was to work on one of my UFOs every day. No huge or daunting commitment, but progress at something, every day, even just a few stitches. I was good for the first few days. I made a little tote bag for one friend, a little doll for another. Then I made a cake for someone's birthday......Hey, that counts as "making something" a pinch! So far I've  had to count "making" the bed, making supper, making a loaf of bread....Can I count "making" a wish? Or "making" a trip to the grocery store? Or "making" a comment on a blog? Or "making" sure I lock the house when I leave?  Or "making" a face at the cat....Or "making" excuses for why I haven't "made" anything today?

I have "made" inroads in organizing the sewing room! I bought a wonderful wall shelf at Ikea with lots of square compartments, that covers one entire wall. With a little more organization, it should be pleasant, once again, to sit in there and make things more tangible than wishes and excuses!. One resolution that covers a multitude.  I should be able to remember and carry out something so simple.......Any bets?

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Caw! Caw! Caw!" Said the Blackbird.....

My dilemma: to drive home [twenty minutes], putz around with beds and dishes and laundry for an hour or so, then drive back, or park the car and wait. Not being sure, I had armed myself with a book, the newspaper and a scribble pad, and thrown my sneakers in the back. However, it was 9 a.m.  Fields and trees still shrouded in fog. I'll stay, I thought, and hope the fog burns off. The campus is several miles out of town, set among fields and huge oak trees, which provide a haven from the heat, in summer, for the cattle always grazing there.

I parked overlooking the fields and opened the newspaper to the most important section: Sudoku and the crossword puzzle. While my brain did its morning work-out, my eyes kept tabs on the fog. The sun was slowly burning through; it was going to be a nice day. I set off walking towards a line of trees that stretched away, invitingly, toward the horizon.

The pine needles felt so nice underfoot, carpet-soft and springy from the recent rain. A fence paralleled the line of trees, separating me from a field of grazing cattle.The quiet of the morning was broken only by the distant hum of traffic and the twittering of birds. The cattle munched serenely, looking at me with only the mildest of curiosity. How now brown cow? Bet you don't lose sleep at night worrying about your calves. Didn't think so. Animals have so much more sense than we do.....Not much into fretting about things they cannot change.


The path narrowed to squeeze between the fence and the woods. It's a sorry reflection on modern times that my footsteps faltered for a moment. The raucous cawing of a blackbird mocked me for a Fraidy Cat, so I pressed onward, glancing apprehensively now and again into the trees on my left, hoping that none of the unsavory characters from Grimms' Fairy Tales, or their modern manifestations, would choose this increasingly sunny morning to visit Central Florida.


To my surprise, a bend in the path brought me to a familiar park. One where we'd spent many a summer evening, watching soccer games, back in the Bean's high school days. I had it completely to myself. I passed the soccer field, the kiddie playground, and several baseball diamonds, and found a bench, and sat and scribbled, and mentally chewed my pencil and wondered......I thought by now I'd be off this particular exercise wheel, moving placidly into my dotage, but the universe, apparently, has other plans. Thanks to what could be called, depending on your point of view, [and your gender] my worry gene, my naivete/ignorance, or my dumbass quotient, here I am, still stuck on the same old wheel,  still going 'round and 'round, wondering when and where it will end. I've gone over and over it in my head and I still think I was right to be alarmed, but probably wrong to let bureaucratic pen pushers get involved. Who knew they could, with a few strokes of their uncaring, unconcerned pens, wreck such havoc with our lives?

What's that saying----No good deed goes unpunished? Ha!

Time to retrace my steps. The cattle have retreated to the farthest reaches of the field. The blackbird  raucously taunts me. Caw! Caw! Caw! The fog is gone and the sun is high in a blue, blue sky.......

Friday, January 14, 2011

random, random, random


Want to write. Can't write. Stuff in head too hot to handle. Glad the old year is gone, let him go! let him go! Don't let the door hit him in the donkey. Is it safe to be optimistic? Is it safe to answer the phone? Is it safe to get out of bed?Is it safe to hope the new year will be  better? Or are we on a roll here? Will it bring more of the same? In which case I'll just go back to bed now.......That pious piffle about writing for its own sake? Hogwash! I write for the connection. Lonesome for the comments. Standing on the corner, hat on the ground, sign in hand: "Will write for comments!" My Pollyanna persona has taken a beating. I'm in danger of becoming a pessimist.

Just as I am sinking into the morass, a friend sends me a 40 point Guide to living in 2011.

# 8: Sit in silence for at least ten minutes each day. So I did. Talk about Miss Fidget! At least five times in the first ten minutes I thought of something I needed to get up and urgently do, right now, and then I remembered, and sat back down, and closed my eyes and breathed slowly until my timer went off. The second day was easier. Concentrate on breathing. Ten minutes goes by so fast. It's easy to spare them to do this. And it muffles the noises in my head!

#10: Walk outside for 10-30 minutes each day. It's been cold here. No snow, no sleet, no ice, but, by our usual standards, frigid! Tempting to huddle indoors, pour another cup of tea and wait it out. But once you bundle up and venture forth into the anemic sunshine, and listen to the birds twittering [or could that be their teeth chattering?}it's not so bad, and before you know it you've circled the garden twice and are heading towards the 30 minute mark and you have to run inside to get the camera, because, though mostly things are brown and brittle, there are cheerful berries, and creamy rosettes defying the brownness.

Part two of # 10 was---"And while you walk, smile."

So, maybe there is room in this new year for guarded optimism. I'll raise my [Irish Cream-laced] cup of cocoa to that!