Friday, July 13, 2012


When I was young my father had a surplus army jeep that we all loved dearly. It was especially fun in the summer when the top and doors were off and we drove it out onto the beach to go fishing. It was beyond basic - the gas gauge didn't work and you had to put a stick in to check the fuel level. On chilly days warmth was provided via a piece of heater hose from under the dashboard that you stuck under your jacket. There was a piece of rope tied between the front seats that you needed to hang onto when it went around the corners to avoid being tossed out. I  often think of it as a metaphor for my childhood - hang on or fall out; it's up to you. As it rusted he replaced different parts of it with sheet metal and rivets, the tailgate fell off and was replaced with some wood. Obviously long before the days of the "safety inspection." I don't think that my parsimonious father was trying to teach us about "making do", but the lesson was absorbed all the same and I find myself strangely able to keep things working long, long after someone else has given up. All I was conscious of at the time was the wild exhilaration of feeling the wind in my hair and seeing the road whiz by through the holes in the floorboards.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Her Choice.

My cat arrived on a cold winter night in January. I got a call from the shelter asking if I could foster a mother and 4 kittens who had just been brought in. I do not know how she survived outside during that snowy, snowy winter. Yet, her kittens were in robust good health. She herself was skinny and missing patches of fur. Despite her privation she was a surprisingly picky eater and I would offer different types of food and pet her to coax her to eat. When the kittens were 8 weeks old it was time to ween them and mama went back to the shelter to be spayed and then adopted. I wrote her name on the cans of food that she preferred. Sometimes I went to the shelter in the morning before work to see her. A month later the kittens were old enough to be sent on their way in the world. We took a cute picture of them and it went up on the shelter's website - the day that they were available there was a line at the door in anticipation. Mama, however, had not been eating and was in another foster home. I got another call in March - could I take mama back for a few weeks? She was not doing well. She was down to 4 pounds when she returned to my house. As soon as she was back she began to eat; she was home. She is a delightful companion and all she wants in the world is to be in my lap. She is with me now was I write. I am amazed that this seemingly helpless creature would have the ability to find good homes for her kittens and choose the home that she wanted for herself. She reminds me every day of the possibilities in my own life.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What's New?

I am not a person who likes to chat. In fact, as a teenager I once went two weeks without speaking to anyone. I wasn't really setting out to Not Speak, it just kind of happened and I was left wondering if anyone had even noticed since I myself did not think to tally the days until after quite some time had passed. So it is especially strange to me that I should feel sad that all the social media that we are involved in has robbed us of the social convention of Chit Chat. When I run into a friend at the store we  do not get caught up - I already know of the progress of her husband's cancer treatment, her children's accomplishments even where she had dinner last night, there seems no point in even saying hello. My mother wants to share news of the grandchildren, but we've all seen the pictures and read the posts days ago. I'm shocked to find that I miss this social currency, this sharing of news that I never valued before. I am returned to my mute teenage self.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I live in an old house and in the yard is an overgrown Mock Orange bush. When we first moved here many many years ago we considered pulling it up. We never did and it has become one of my favorite things in the world. When it is having a good spring it is covered in little white blossoms and the whole yard smells of its sweetly citrus fragrance. It hums with the activity of hundreds of bees for about a week and then inevitably the petals fade and fall and the show is over until next year. I think of my younger self standing in front of that shrub pondering it's fate and am grateful for the inertia that kept it from destruction. I have been lucky that way - many things have worked out in ways that I could not have possibly foreseen. Yet, I am considered a failure. Once at a doctors office they were taking my history "Job?" No "Children?" No "Spouse?" Yes. At which point the nurse laughed and said "Well at least you've got that!!" Imagine if I had flunked that measurement of worth also. Failure does not by itself bring unhappiness, it is very liberating and I do feel myself free of so many of the constraints that seems to rob others of being able to enjoy the small pleasures of this life. I sit in the warm spring sun and and revel in the transitory beauty of the mock orange and fear the question, "What did you do today?"