Sunday, March 27, 2016

Elder Yard





We’re those annoying old folks in the neighborhood who don’t (and post-retirement no-longer-can afford even if they wanted to) yuppie “Arcadia” style* lawn care. (What else would you expect from a blogger who possum- identifies?)

 
Jes' passin' thru...

Husband and I bought this house 30+ years ago when we were in our late thirties and strong enough to do all the required maintenance. We cared for three long privet hedges, we mowed, and had the old, beat up silver maples—the reason we purchased the property in the first place—regularly thinned. We both worked, so paying for large tree maintenance was not a problem. We conscientiously fed the trees and hired trained arborists, not the butchers who engage in “topping” a.k.a. a really fast way to make a tree diseased, rotten, and highly likely to fall down in a wind storm.

 
Summer, 1985, one kid, and husband

2011, same tree, another angle, wider now
Over the years, I’ve planted 30 more trees on the property, which, considering that it’s barely an acre, was Arboreal Over-kill. The star of these early additions was an apple tree. The blooms delight us every spring. On a warm April evening it is possible to stand beneath it and hear the music of bees in the blossoms. For many autumns, this tree literally rained apples upon us. It  still delights the eye and will always be honored for the mountains of sauce and pies it has provided.
 


 
Husband loathes yard work and curses every minute he spends doing it, so much fell on me and my bad back—although I’d expected all that and had still opted for this house. Our silver maples are “trash trees” which shed sticks and branches like crazy. I am forever picking up after them. Husband was forever driving to the recycle center with loads of dead wood and hedge clippings.

Years passed. Our health declined. There were trips to the hospital for big-deal surgeries. Much privet was removed. Yard maintenance has suffered.


 

 We and the silver maples are all now in some disrepair, but we're still here, breathing for one another (carbon dioxide/oxygen cycle) and hoping for spring. They're sending up trial balloons as they shuck off those red bud casings.


Never mind that they cover my patio with their litter or that the pollen from their buoyant flowering makes all the mammals sneeze. We’re all quite pleased to witness another Vernal Equinox, another Purim, another Easter, another Hola Mahalla, another Holi, and any other spring celebration extant on our little blue planet. Welcome to the Growing Season!



 

 
* "Arcadia"
X-Files, Sixth year, Fifteenth episode
(Scary meets Hilarious)

 

 
 

 

 

 

 


 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Genesee~~A Spring Storm


~~Juliet Waldron


"Aunt Kitty," Jenny began, dropping a curtsy, "I feel terribly restless. I have taken the liberty of dressing already, but I have come to ask if I might take out one of the ponies."

"Well, I suppose if you feel that might work a cure," Aunt Kitty said, looking up from her embroidery. Upon her round florid face, framed in an old fashioned outsized cap, was a look which seemed to say that she couldn't imagine anything even remotely connected with "restless."

After Mr. Desbrosses' proposal, after what Nelia had said, Jenny felt choked, like a dog at the end of a chain. It was a sensation that came with some frequency here.

"Nevertheless, Dear," Aunt Kitty said, turning her slow gaze to the windy gray outside the window, "There will certainly be rain. You could take cold."

"I shall keep close; I promise. Please. The air would do me so much good."

Did her Aunt really think a little rain would hurt? Why, on Oriskany, she'd been drenched to the skin many a time, caught out in the fields when a black western storm roared...

 Cornelia, who had kept her promise and not said a word, looked up from her handwork. "She's cross as two sticks," she explained to her mother, "and so she shall remain until she gets some exercise."

"Very well. Jenny, my dear, don't go too far. We shall fret if you aren't back for tea."

As Jenny dropped a curtsy, Aunt Kitty's china blue eyes returned to the embroidery. Her artistry, worked exactingly upon a chemise, would be seen and admired by only the wearer–and the laundress.

Jenny's passion for exercise was understood by her Albany relatives as an aspect of her 'breeding' and was treated with a certain amused indulgence. Doubtless, it was the Indian side that had this unladylike taste for roaming.

It was already much colder than during her interview with Mr. Desbrosses. A raw wind gusted from the north.

She had kept on the serviceable brown skirt and plain white shirt, but the apron was gone. Over all was a long green caraco jacket. Instead of the matching green tricorn ornamented with a feather, she had plaited her dark hair into a single braid and chosen a warm and wind proof cap which tied beneath the chin.

At the barn a groom saddled a brown and white pony. Echoing Aunt Kitty, he cautioned about the weather.

"Now, Miss, don't stay out too long and take cold." His black face was as circumspect as a father's.

"A little rain won't melt me," she said with a smile, availing herself of his cupped hands to mount. In Albany she had, of course, to ride sidesaddle instead of astride.

After settling her skirts, she took the short crop he offered and trotted out of the yard, a neat little figure in green and brown.

The stableman watched. Not likely, I s'pose," he mused, that a little cold water will melt that girl. She's no fine lump o' white sugar, after all."


Down the road Jenny went, bobbing in the choppy rhythm of a trot, along a cow path leading south into the wide public pastures. The upturned belly of the river reflected clouds of slate...



Her cheeks and fingers were soon tingling, bitten by the frigid wind. As she approached the big house that housed the General and his military family, she felt icy splatters.
Slowing the pony, she began the planned circumnavigation of the house. Not rain, but sleet now, harder every minute.
A groan came from the north. The trees, thinly leafed, leaned before the wind. The indistinct chaos of a squall, like a high-shouldered animal, bounded over the hill, blotting out the view. An upstate May, even after the lovely weather they'd been having, was not exempt from a wintry sortie.
"Damn," Jenny muttered, enjoying the feel of a country curse on her lips as she reined the pony around.
The squall struck with a roaring, hissing blast. Cross, disappointed, and now shivering fiercely in the wind, she trotted away along the main road, a road which passed by tumble down cabins which had once housed slaves...



 
 
 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Setting The Clock


The task of changing clocks tonight set me to thinking about how, as  I grow older, each day seems to just race by. I remember Granny Liddle telling me, somewhere around my eighth or ninth year when I was hopping about, wishing aloud for Christmas to come, “Don’t wish your life away.” In childhood, that’s exactly what everyone does. We impatiently wait for summer to arrive to get out of school, we wait for Christmas, for Halloween, for the State Fair, for our birthday, for that new movie.  

 

I’ve done a little looking up via what my Uncle Richard used to call “Mr. Google” regarding this business of our perception of time, and the latest ideas indicate that we’re, all of us, a collection of internal clocks. Interestingly, different parts of the brain govern different pieces of perception—a distributed system of cerebral cortex, cerebellum and basal ganglia--and all these must coordinate results with one another.  Even way down at the cellular level our bodies are running little programs, as Cell A gives instructions to Cell B next door about what—chemically--ought to happen next.  

 

“Time” for you and me is essentially a series of experiences which the brain organizes in a way that makes sense.  According to neuroscientist David Eagleman:

When our brains receive new information, it doesn’t necessarily come in the proper order. This information needs to be reorganized and presented to us in a form we understand. When familiar information is processed, this doesn’t take much time at all. New information, however, is a bit slower and makes time feel elongated.

In short, an oldie like myself pretty much knows what to expect from their daily routine and doesn’t pay much attention as we go through it. We’re on automatic pilot. To a child, however, all sorts of experiences register as “new,” and consequently, a lot of activity goes on as the brain sorts and structures all this fresh information.  


If you do something new every day, it will slow the passage of time a bit. One of the pieces I read suggested sky-diving as a cure for that feeling of life zooming past, but I think I’ll pass. With my luck, the shute wouldn’t open.

Another idea about this curious feeling that time is now speeding past is suggested by Paul Janet, a 19th Century philosopher. He proposed that with the passage of time, a single year becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of a life. The first week you’re alive is, therefore, the “longest.” It's all acceleration (a.k.a. downhill) from there.

To put it another way, each year only represents a smaller and smaller portion of your life.  At 71, a year only represents 1.41% of the total. Hit the link below and check out the fascinating interactive graphic which illustrates this idea:


 

~~Juliet Waldron




Hop on over to these other talented Books We Love Authors:


 




 

 


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Free Papers





Once a week you find them in the lobby of the grocery store.  I have a habit of reading through them. There are the usual advertisers, the churches, the realtors, the auctions, the used car dealers, restaurants that offer “early-bird” specials for seniors, and club listings—chess, photography, computers, knitting, quilting, and a host of support groups. There are a few obituaries, but I hope never to find the few people I do know featured.  There are classified ads, too, and these are mostly the reason I read it.



Every once in a while there’s something that makes me smile.  My most recent favorite said: “Found! One of those things you pick up things with in the 300 block of Mayberry Street.”  This writer had good intentions, but the words to describe the object he’d found eluded him.  Still, he did note where he'd found it, and perhaps that would reunite the owner with the lost object.
Sometimes, the ad reveals something about the mental state of the person who wrote it. This is unintentional, but here’s a good one, full of anxiety: “Lost blue tool box full of tools. I’m not sure where I lost it, but it’s blue, full of tools and says Erector on the lid. Reward! Thank-you.”  You can tell that losing that was a terrible thing, but you can also tell that the writer has probably lost a lot of other important things over the years. As someone who can relate to absent-mindedness and loss, I sincerely hoped someone eventually returned his toolbox (blue).

Another ad, one I responded to, said: “Help me please! I have 31 cats who needs good homes.  Bring cat food.“


I went to the place—the back of beyond behind a very small somewhere along-the-highway town and up a hill via a gullied dirt road. There I found a ramshackle house and on it's last legs barn. There were cats everywhere, running for cover. A woman, thin and tired looking, with tattoos all over her arms, came out and we sat down together on the grass. She explained that she had worked at a shelter, but couldn’t endure the weekly euthanasia, and so had ended up with all these cats. I could see straight-away that most of her cats had no use for people—probably with good reason. 

I watched cats skulking under the rusting junkers  and behind old engine parts that littered the yard. After a few minutes, she  opened the big bag of cat food I’d brought and spread it on the ground. Skinny cats came swarming from every direction.   After gulping hastily, all keeping one eye on me--the unknown--most ran away. I’d been watching an orange threesome, scrawny nine month adolescents. The kind weary woman pointed them out, calling them “my orange brothers.”

One, the skinniest and shabbiest, climbed onto my lap. As soon as I touched him he began to purr, a huge roaring purr. He drooled with joy as I began to pet him gently. His eyes were washed-out yellow. His fur was dry as straw and his nose ran. I could count ribs and feel his knobby spine.
I felt a strong emotional connection—and then he bit me, grabbing the skin of my forearm with his teeth and twisting like a bulldog. Just a millimeter short of drawing blood, he leapt off my lap, stood just out of reach and continued to gaze at me, trembling, drooling, and purring.

“He didn't mean that,” she said. “He just gets excited.” 

This desperate, sick, love-starved soul is the one I took home. You never know what kind of cool stuff you'll discover in the free paper...

 
~ Juliet Waldron
 
 
 
 
Hop on over to these blogs too and see what's cooking: 
 
 
(Ginger Simpson)
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