Thursday, November 30, 2006

Before The Snow Blows

The forecast for tomorrow indicates that the reprieve is over. The Thanksgiving holiday was warm and sunny (in Midwest terms) . The winds are going to start blowing. Thunderstorms will precede some serious winds. Chicago anticipates as much as 8 inches of snow. Several thousand radiologists will be trying to leave Chicago's RSNA convention to travel to their homes around the globe. One small group will be heading toward Toledo - talk about unfortunate timing. Before the snow blows I'm posting a picture of a July saltwater pond in Chatham on Cape Cod. The tide is out and the dinghies wait for the Moon and Sun magic to lift them from the mudflat. A little like I feel during the long winter months.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Forty years ago my cousin took this picture of a young mother-to-be. Very young. (that would be the upper picture :0) Sitting here in my older but wiser self, it's a bit of a consolation to know that as pleasant as it would be to step back into that young body - there is NO WAY I would do it without THIS brain. At sixty - as of November 29 - it's a lifetime of learning the ways of patience, acceptance and love that softens the assault of age. Family and friends are the hearth, close to which the heart leans, that warms our winter years and reminds one of the Spring that may still be clasped in memory's timeless dream.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Webcam Up and Running

The Webcam in Loudonville is up and running! You'll find it in my sidebar under webcams. It's been down for half the past year and over his Thanksgiving visit our son, Jody, fixed it. It refreshes every 15 minutes and the view over this valley in north-central Ohio is, I think you'll agree - lovely.

I grew up in the small town of Loudonville over which our modest weekend home enjoys the benefit of a high perch. I'll be clicking on a few times a day to watch the flags for indications of approaching fronts - often you can see storms marching in from across the valley. I'll watch the first snow cover the hills and then look for the first signs of spring as the trees lose their sharp silhouettes and blur with the promise of new green.

We spent Thanksgiving weekend with my brother's family. His house is just below and to the left. We share a driveway and more love and history than my full heart could ever express.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Poetry - Phooey!

Dang- nab -it. How's that for poetic expression? Sadly, for me - the Walt Whitman Poetry Contest deadline was extended to November 30th. After a longer convalescence than I'd anticipated after a 'minor' procedure, I'd resigned myself that the contest's judges would be deprived of my great gift for yet another year.

Dang-nab-it. November 12th came and went and I was resigned and frankly relieved that I didn't have to prepare a package of 50 poems, all done according to contest guidelines.

Dang-nab-it. They've gone and pushed that deadline ahead to the end of the month and I've been losing my mind trying to locate all the dreck I've written. Oh. That's a killer. Spend enough hours ranging over 5 gazillion words of tripe that you once thought conveyed the wisdom of Solomon, Freud, all the great poets and philosophers from antiquity forward - Oh yeah: me -worthy peer of Frost and Dickinson - See! I can't even spell her name: It's - D I C K I N S E N. Arggggghhh. This is getting better! Anvil Cloud just commented that duh! my original spelling was OK. ARGGGGGGHHH. Emily Dickinson!

So, I'm not blogging - I'm ranting. I can hardly wait to get this garbage in the mail and return to the saner, for more enjoyable past-time of visiting with you all, on the internet.

Until then: ARGGGGHHHHH!


Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Kindness of Strangers

This picture is what my radiologist/writer husband calls a 'hook.' It seems in concert though, with what will follow in my post, as it was an exchange between strangers, a Cape Cod fisherman and a mother and her little boy. This rugged 'man's man' was happily indulging a stranger's need - in this instance a need to smile shly and hug a cuddly dog.

After yesterday's post about Mother and our wandering through the hills of central Ohio in springtime to find the house my great-grandfather built and the cemetery where he and assorted ancestors rest, my mind is still meandering among the winding roads that fall sharply downward into shaded ravines and abruptly bank skyward requiring a firm pressure on the gas pedal as you climb up to next rise of uneroded glacial till.

Here's the memory that wandered in this morning. It was the early '50's. I think I was 5, maybe 6 years old. Grandpa Reiheld was at the wheel of a cranky old car that lurched and spewed gravel as we took a Sunday drive toward Glenmont to visit his cousins' families. While shifting into lower gears to get traction and still prevent stalling, the car would lunge backward and Grandma would grab the dashboard and suplicate the intervention of the blessed mother: "Hail Mary, Hail Mary!" I can still hear her, teeth clenched, ready to spring from the front seat in terror as the rest of us were sucked backward into the void. Grandma never learned to drive. She never learned to trust.

Then, the unthinkable. The car sputtered, grandpa cursed and the car stopped as he judiciously applied the emergency brake. Out of gas. The rest is a sad little blur except for this: I was terror- stricken, on a great graveled incline in a great wood, with two adults to whom today, we would apply the word 'dysfunctional' .

The crux of the story: A passing car stopped and offered assistance. One of the most tender memories of my childhood is the woman who saw my pain and stooped shelteringly beside me and reassured me that everything would be fine. Tears of gratitude sting my eyes as I write this and I rejoice in the goodness that lies at the heart of most human beings.

Decades later, when my other grandmother, Gladys, died, I tucked a note into the satin lining of her coffin that said simply: You were the gentlest, kindest light in my life. Your caring for us, the birthday cards that always arrived till the year you died - I will pass this on, Grandma - I will remember.

I've failed in so many ways to fulfill that promise. Yesterday, I made a few phone calls to the frail little women that I drive to a monthly macular degeneration meeting. We talked for hours. They think I'm kind. They tell me so. I try to tell them what they bring to my life, how I love their feisty, gentle souls. What is this miracle that resonates across time, distance, memory; between generations, strangers and friends? I hesitate to tell you that I know that it also resonates between brains - yes, I am refering to ESP. But, there, now you're probably rolling your eyes and I've lost the few readers who'd been drawn forward by the promise of a good dog story:0)


Friday, November 10, 2006

Does Anyone Else See An Optical Illusion?

I guess you had to be there. A couple Springs ago, Mother and I traveled down a rural road toward Brinkhaven, Ohio, the home of her ancestors. As she walked away from the car to check out this outcrop of sandstone and ground water - she was like my incredible- shrinking-mother! I asked her to retrace the route a few times and by gum it seemed as though I were in one of those distorted rooms you find in science museums - things were all off -kilter. Maybe her figure receding over the distance and through time made it work. But, trust me: sitting in the car with no human figure visible - this grotto seemed much smaller and you'd guess that if a person were to stand there they'd occupy a greater part of this space. I just don't think these photos captured it, but we sure had fun trying.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Henry and I - A Short Conversation on Approaching Winter

Greg's The Blog of Henry David Thoreau records Thoreau's daily musings on nature and life. I generally find his writings uplifting, eloquent and always a bridge across time to my own memories of precious moments of transcendence experienced at the margin of a wood and pasture, the heart of a dew-drenched fern, or leaning tucked into a tree turning crimson on a cold October day. First, I quote his October 25th observation and then my rather less courageous response to the waning of the year and the coming of the cold.

Thoreau's journal - October 25 th, 1858

This is the coolest day thus far, reminding me that I have only a half-thick coat on. The easterly wind comes cold into my ear, as yet unused to it. Yet, this first decided coolness - not to say wintriness -is not only bracing but exhilarating and concentrating to our forces. So much the more I have a hearth and heart within me. We step more briskly, and brace ourselves against the winter.

The Robin's Autumn Song
- Catherine Wilson

A rose is not a rose
when offered in a wreath
beside the dead.

Pinioned there it's shorn of light
and the breeze that holds
the grief apart
from the tender heart
that holds the petals fast.

The robin's song is tarnished
when she sees the sumac
dripping red.

Her heart begins a minor key
looking north
at what may be.


Friday, November 03, 2006

November Sun On Anna's Hair

After she finished cleaning my house, Anna came out to the heated back porch to visit before she went home. She sat with her back to the late afternoon November sky. The leaves are mostly off the trees now. For a few minutes the clouds thinned and the sun streamed low through the porch windows. Her dyed hair glowed as we turned from topic to topic.

She's seventy-three and has worked for me, in this house, for twenty-two years. I lay on the couch and watched her illuminated shape as she talked about her husband's suicide, the delayed grief, her children's pain. The feathery, potted asparagus fern I brought in ahead of the frost last week, glowed green beside her.

When Anna comes once a week we share a cup of morning coffee. I cooked her eggs, today. If I'm at home we share lunch. Over the past year or so we share this respite after she's done. I see the fatigue on her face. I see the way she slowly gets out of chairs. I know she needs the money and today as I watched her glowing in front of my bare trees and frozen birdbath I knew that I needed her. She is my friend. Though we are from different decades, different countries (she married a GI she met in the restaurant where she cooked), different educations, a different socio-economic class, she is my friend and she is growing old. I needed to say this today. As I watched her sitting there illuminated by a November sun, I needed to say this.

I probably won't have her read this. It would embarrass her. She grew up in a foster home in Germany where she can remember carrying firewood from the time she was five years old. She's explained to me that it created a stoicism in her. I've never seen her cry.

Why do I need to tell you, dear reader, that I pay her probably more than you would guess? And that she's told me that the day she has to stop working will be incredibly difficult. Anna isn't a joiner, a belonger. Oh, she is close to a friend's children and has daughters and grandchildren of her own who would never abandon her to poverty, but she is proud, wants to work and though we've never said it aloud to each other - neither of us wants to think of a time when she won't be coming through my front door, trailing a wiff of the cigarette that still lingers on her immaculate clothes, carrying her Meijers plastic bag of lintless, cleaning cloths.

Can you believe that after twenty-two years she doesn't know that I know that she smokes? I can't explain this mutual contrivance and maybe don't want to. I love her. That's enough. There's only this, then, that makes me want to weep: I have no pictures of her. Nothing to post on my blog. So I've selected a beautiful little flower, bent by the weight of evening dew.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bunny Wabbit or maybe a Kitty ? Oops

This is my precious grandniece, Katie. ( I know, you thought her the most darling bunny rabbit ever - OK - now I see - the ears aren't bunny ears - well, still the cutest ever:0) This was her first trick or treat outing and from the looks of that pink little nose it may have been a bit nippy as she made her circuit with the other fuzzy ghouls, goblins, princesses and knights. Wish we lived a bit closer. Still, I can imagine the delight - hers and her beautiful parents on a late, moonlit, magical October evening.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Awwwww . . . .

Don't you just want to gently scoop him up and bring him indoors and feed him millet from your finger tips? The past several days the sparrows have been obsessed with bathing. I imagine they sense that before long the water is going to be hard and that their next bath might not be until the Spring thaw. Well, wouldn't you look worried too, if you only had outdoor plumbing?