Wednesday, November 29, 2006

That Time of Year

As I made my way to Girl Scout Cookie University yesterday I was unequivocally reminded of what time of year it is. It was 5:45 PM and I was driving in total darkness. Now this revelation didn't just happen. The evening lights weren't suddenly shut off. Lately on Mondays, it is pitch black driving home from the girls' religious education class at 5 PM. And I have backed off playing bus driver to the children in choir (Afterall I have a Surburban and can fit them all in there.) because it's dark.

With each shadowy stint behind the wheel, I remind myself of the people in Barrow, Alaska. They don't have any sunlight for 51 days from Nov. 18th to Jan. 23rd. I am sure they don't roll up their lives, like small towns roll up their sidewalks. Maybe I have some small town bear in my heritage. Where darkness and cold are triggers to curl up with a blanket, a box of Thin Mints and good book. Or at least to warm my hands, resting them across this laptop.

Still I manage to go for "late night" walks around 8 PM. With flashlights and reflective vests we face the dark streets of our town. And they are dark. I firmly believe the street lights are just for show. To cast a warming sort of almost light -- without actually illuminating anywhere to any level of safety. Town government must have decided that no one walks anywhere these days. They drive, and cars have headlights. Well, here is some news: People still walk around here. It is common to see people lighting their way down the sidewalk with flashlights. I wonder if Barrow has this problem?

So to the people of Barrow, good luck, stay warm and safe. Someday, in the winter's darkness I will come up for a visit. I just hope you have a taxi service, because I really don't like driving in the dark --whether it be day or night.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


For the past week when I have sat down to write, I've come up empty. Blank. Uninspired. Staring at this stark white computer screen left my mind numb, facing a void of words, no ideas, no clue. I tried for the usual Thanksgiving jot, and was left wanting. Oh sure, there is plenty to be thankful for -- the girls, my husband, friends, family, turduken, maple sugaring, being alive, a warm house. God, the list is endless... but I floundered in an abyss of wordlessness.

I faced the keyboard again this weekend, and again yesterday. Still nothing. And now... still nothing. So, to move ahead I am writing about this nothing. And as I type here I have some clue as to why I haven't been able to write. In a word: Interuptions. Half ideas mowed down by life. Just to get these two hopeless paragraphs down has taken 2 hours... and breakfast, making lunches, one trip to school (due to rain), homework, and decorating a gingerbread house. And next to me is the last scarf I need to finish for our "One Hundred Scarves for Christmas." Ten more rows -- max., and it will be done. Ten more rows of no writing.

And I need to come up with something for dinner. I need to go food shopping. I need to go to school and take some pictures. I need to go for a walk.

The search is on for that peaceful place where ideas can safely emerge and develop.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Advice Needed

What do you get the person who has nothing?

We have dear friends. And no matter how hard they work, and both parents work fulltime plus, life is very hard. They're not looking for handouts. They never have, and I doubt they ever will. They make plans to get ahead, and half way to completion they get blindsided back to square one.
The other night while out for a walk we talked about how hard life is sometimes. How unfair it can be. My heart goes out to them. I want to do something. But I can't buy their house, I can't rush time or improve the weather. Maybe a little secret Santa action... Still, I don't want to hurt their feelings or pride. Ideas? Suggestions?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sunday Scribbling -- Hero

Back in my days of C.C.D., now known as religious education or Catholic Faith Formation, I had to create a sign with a picture of my hero. It was an was no brainer assignment. My hero was Mingo, the Native American sidekick to Fess Parker's T.V. Daniel Boone. My younger brother, in his authentic Daniel Boone artificial coonskin cap, and I, with my mocassins, would hang on every word, every motion Ed Ames and Fess Parker made. After watching the show, we would replay the whole episode in our backyard. I tried my best to have stealth feet, respect the earth and be peaceful. My brother, even though he was the star, would do his best to follow in my footsteps. All the while we were saving the damsels, protecting the homesteaders and instilling a goodness and fairness in all we came across. Back then despite getting only 4 channels there was always something good to watch on T.V.

When I saw this weeks writing prompt I wondered, "Who is my hero?" He is my husband, who saves me when my nerves are frayed. My children, for all their wisdom and prespective. My friends, and for the many miles we have walked/talked and the many cups of coffee we have shared. What about Mr. S.? Every week he saves the leftside of our pew for me and the girls. My children's teachers are my heroes. They get ideas and concepts to go where I can't seem to penetrate. In the morning, when I am driving the girls to school, my hero is the person caught in the traffic outside our house, who lets me out of my driveway.

Back in my old days of C.C.D. my teacher was a bit taken aback by my choice. I hadn't produced the obvious correct answer. (And I knew it the moment I arrived at church and saw all the signs with Jesus' face.) She asked why I picked Mingo, a fictious character from a T.V. show for a hero. I remember in my own simple terms explaining how loyal, trustworthy, caring, and compassionate Mingo was. And I wanted to be just like him. She smiled and something about him being Christ-like. I replied,"But he doesn't believe in God. He worships the earth and stars." Of course, T.V. back in those days didn't expound on such topics. But everyone knew that Native Americans worshipped the gods of the earth and sky.

Now I understand. For our family, Christ is the center of goodness. He is the shining example for us. But Christ-like goodness, that pervades all my heroes, doesn't have to come directly from Christ. Long ago He looked like Mingo. A man that loved and cared for his mother earth. Today, He is a writing friend, family, my children, a helpful stranger, a homeless person. The truth is, the face of God is everywhere. Creating heroes in us all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


when my teenager asks to get woken up early. My heart nearly skips a beat. For when I wake her up, I get to kiss her. And it's not the usual I'm leaving for school duck and cover. Where I'm allowed to place one quick smooch on her cheek or forehead. I get at least five or six tender pecks before she starts to stir.

"Good morning sweetheart."

"Good morning mom."

What an excellent way to start a mom's day. No coffee needed today.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's time to make the...


I know, I know... if you're from the northeast, the last thing you expected me to comeback with was fruitcake. I should have paid homage to D.D. and said donuts. But it's true, in this household, in my kitchen, it is time to make the fruitcakes.

So even before I gave one thought to lunches, or remembered I had three sleepy children to wake, I was piling the dried fuit in the largest covered container I own and pouring on the rum.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A knitters blog

I came across this blog in my blogging travels.

This woman knits socks like it's no one's business. I haven't tried knitting socks yet.(I will soon, hopefully.) They are my favorite knit items. Every and any gift from my mom is a success story as long as it is a pair of her wonderful knitted socks.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Poetry Thursday

(A few days early...)

Love, a jagged deception
beared potential, but
was awashed in delusion.
A distorted and distant reality; dogged dreams
nurtured with piercing criticism.
Be warned, I've broken out. I know the lies.
Your woven web thickened
with missed steps and half truths,
does not behold me anymore.

Another Soft Rain, Thank God

It's a soft rain. As the girls prepared for school by fabric painting on their backpacks, (don't ask), I waded through the paper piles that have been building on the kitchen counter. It's an archeological dig, of sorts. Old school papers, scrap of papers with important phone numbers, coupons, most expired, soccer schedules, music schedules, play schedules...

My life in a pile. Interesting at best, not boring in the least. As the girls head off to school I remind them of their afternoon commitments. "Clarinet for you, CFF for you two." There is elation and frowns. One of these days I going to say, "On ITunes for you. Finishing that knitting project for you." Smiles will be all around.

But that is what Thanksgiving is for. Over the Thanksgiving break, as a family we all stop the race. My dear one reads, watches movies, converses with relatives and puts up with me coming in for the cuddle on the couch. All the girls knit. From the moment we arrive at the holiday gathering spot, their knitting is out. They cross and recross those needles from morning to night -- breaking only for meals and sleep. I do suspect this year will be a bit different, as the oldest is plugged into an iPod the majority of her waking time. But she knits just the same.

I cook, dance the turkey dance with my sister in law, go in for the long cuddles, and help with the knitting. I can only offer to help, since I am the Mom. I am second best. It is my Mom and my Aunt who are hounded by the girls to sit and knit. And that's good. The girls love their grandmother and great aunt. And over some crossed needles they have learned to stop the racing and enjoy being in each others close knit company.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The season can't come soon enough

On warm fall days we are outside, getting ready for the season.
Thanksgiving? No. Christmas? No. Hanukah? No.

We are preparing for the maple sugaring season. Even though it’s early November, the start of sugaring season is not until late February or early March, it cannot come soon enough. My dreams are full of sap buckets, brisket morning air, quiet sun rises, and the sweet scent of maple.

In October we built a sugaring shack. Okay, we didn't build it ourselves, but we paid for it to be built. And today we set up shop. The burner is in place. The pan is waiting to be filled. The pails and lids, and the taps are stacked and ready. The collection bins have been cleaned. Tomorrow we'll go to the hardware store and pick up lights, and install the ventilation system.

It's going to be a great season. Already we have invited the Brownies over for a repeat pancake breakfast. The kindergarten classes and my daughter’s third grade class have been offered "a walk over field trip" to our house so they can see a sugar shack and maybe try some waffles with syrup. In years past we went into their classrooms. This year I would love for them to come here and empty a bucket, taste warm sap, and have a waffle or two. We will see.

Last season, there were some long boiling days. We would start at 4 AM, awoken not by an alarm but by the excitement of sugaring. The finish came sometime around 8 at night. With less than a gallon of liquid gold, from over 40 gallons of sap, boiling inside on the stove. We watch the bubbles and check the density with a hydrometer.

Who wants some maple syrup? Like that jolly old elf, we make a list. We try to fill all orders and have some left for surprise visitors. Last year we produced four gallons of syrup from 200 plus gallons of sap. We had a quart left for ourselves. It lasted until June. In August, while camping in Vermont we bought some more from an old man's farm stand. Even though it's not our syrup, it's a nice reminder of a wonderful vacation.

I'm not wishing away Thanksgiving, or Christmas. These are times for friends and family. But sugaring is such a time of promise, that I can't help but hope for its quick arrival.

Who wants some maple syrup?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Gross Out Alert!!!

You have been warned.

As an undergraduate I had the pleasure of taking a Genetics course. And like the tens of thousands of other students who have taken such a class, I conducted experiments involving specific genetic crosses (forced unions -- we used very small shotguns) of fruit flies with various traits. I employed fruit flies with curly wings, straight wings, red eyes, white eyes. To this day I can determine the sex of the fruit flies buzzing about my fruit bowl. It's like riding a bicycle. The more traits the merrier, so to speak -- but I digress... The point is, in my life time I have purposely breed more fruit flies than I care to admit to.

Now when I see a fruit fly. I clap down first, check out eye color later.

Lately, I haven't been making enough killing progress with my two hands. So I decided to purchase a few traps. At first the population decreased fairly rapidly. That is until a population bloom over the past few days. Still puzzling this genetic turn of events I peaked in the traps to determine their effectiveness. What I noted were fruit fly larvae on the trap walls. Needlesstosay, the traps are sealed and in the trash.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wine and writing

Tomorrow is the deadline for having my book rewritten for "printing". Not publishing mind you. But printing, so that my beloved Nobscot Niblets can each get a personal copy to brutally review. All comments on previous versions have focused on getting to the action sooner. So under the influence of the world's greatest antioxidant... I am attempting to do exactly that.

Editting is a battle between good and evil. It's a relief to rewrite. Almost liberating. But at the same time, I've had a relationship that spans over eight years with many of these words. And to almost steal a phrase, parting is tough.

But the King is waiting for this copy. So I will be tougher, and edit until my fingertips and keyboard are red.

Nibs... after I turn this over to the King, it's in your hands. USE RED INK. Tell me exactly what you think. If I can't trust the world's greatest writing group, who can I trust?

Moving On

In Ireland they have a saying for days like today. It goes like this, "It's a soft rain, thank God." At first I thought it meant: Be thankful it's only lightly raining instead of the usual downpour.

But I think there is a more hopeful meaning. A soft rain is good for taking stock, praying to one's God, talking with old friends, catching up and relaxing. Soft rain slows down life's hectic pace. Smooths out life's jagged edges. Sips of coffee are longer, deeper. Conversations are more heartfelt. Listening is truly listening when it's a soft rain. Children delight in playing in the mist. Being outside is more of an adventure. And the mud puddles are warm.

So I thank God, for today and the wonderfully refreshing soft rain.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Marking time

I know it is the norm to mark time, or age, in years. I'm 46 years old. What does that mean? It means my parents did it, 9 monthes later I arrived, and now 46 years and 4 days I'm still here.

But I'm going to move away from the calendar for tracking age and take up a different approach. I'm now tracking life on friendships. Friends are the biggest component of my new age. Without friends a life is only half lived at best. And when my time comes, I want to check out after a full life.

Smiling is another huge one. A smile can make a day. Maybe it could even save a life. You never know... but I'm not taking any chances.

Acts of kindness will feed into the number. Acts given and acts greatfully received. It can be hard to be accepting. I'll work on it.

Listening, hugging, good morning smooches, shoulders to cry on -- are all in there. Handing off dollar off coupons in the check out line will definitely age me. I've noticed when I hand off the savings, not only do people save money they also smile. It will be a double hit, but I'll take it.

I looking forward to growing very old, very fast, very happy. And to my friends and family who helped me mark age this weekend... I love you all very much. Thank you for being so wonderful.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I don't know if I like 46

Since passing this milestone my uncle and a dear friend's father have passed away. My uncle had been sick for a long time. Then one night his life slowly slipped away. Quietly.

My friend's father left in the blink of an eye. And with all of life, there is a lesson here. Live each day as if it is your last. For whenever father and daughter parted company, even to run out for a coffee, she always said, "I love you Dad." And he'd reply, "I love you too." So in that blink of an eye, both knew the love they shared. Despite the fact there wasn't time for words to be spoken.

My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


... Wake up kisses
Ideas for writing
Friends, and counting
Minutes before mania
Cups of maple syrup
Loads of laundry
Million miles of dusting
Skeins of yarn
Jaunts on my motorcycle
Jelly beans for snacking
Steps to the mailbox
Inches around my hips
Grapes in a bowl
Hugs make up a cozy
Bags of raked leaves
Books on my to read list
Years of my life