Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year


The new year sneaks in 
Past the old 
And lays claim to 
All that is 
And is yet to be.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Unwritten Thoughts

Sometimes when you are reading other people's material, and you make a connection . . .
like, "yeah, that's totally happened to me",
or  "hey, I'm with you on that one, dude". . .
but you never wrote it down . . .

Unwritten thoughts
Spilled and are lost
All for the want of my pen

Gone to the wind
Float to the sky
Never my musing again

Someday they will
Drift back to earth
Finding some other like soul

With pen in hand
They’ll scribe those thoughts
Claiming a notion they stole


Check out more poetry topics for Friday on Poetry Friday hosted by Julie at The Drift Record

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Carrot Pudding Angel


Funniest thing - just before I this happened, I read Christy's posting about the train wiring directions! Goose bumps.  I just had to post!

My husband and I went to RI for a couple of days last week on business.  As we were driving down, I received an email on my phone from my sister.  She had come across my grandmother's recipe for Carrot Pudding, hand written by our mom, on a little piece of paper tucked in an old cook book. Loving the sweetness of seeing it written in our mom's handwriting, she scanned it and shared.

A couple of days before getting the recipe email, I had been thinking about making my grandmother's Carrot Pudding for Christmas, but didn't know where to find the recipe.  Then, here it shows up in my inbox in Mom's handwriting!  I hadn't even told my sister...  I asked my sister if she might also have the copy of the recipe for the White Sauce for the pudding, but all she'd found was the pudding recipe.

On our return home, we discovered that our boiler wasn't working. To avoid steep charges for an emergency call, we waited until morning to call the repairman.  There would be no heat for the night without a nice fire in the wood stove. 

The next day, after the boiler was repaired and was again heating our home, I searched a few of my cookbooks and the Internet for the sauce recipe.  I finally found one that sounded close.  It had most of the ingredients I remembered, so I decided I'd use that.

Today, as I was doing some cleaning in my daughter's old bedroom, getting it ready for Christmas company, I heard what sounded like a low rattling coming from the basement.  I had heard the funny noise yesterday, but ignored it, thinking I'd mention it to my husband later.  Maybe it was the boiler again?  I decided to be a big girl and go check it out, just in case I needed to call the repairman.   But the everything was running smoothly.  I couldn't hear any unusual noise anywhere.  There was no more rattling.

A bit perplexed, I turned around to go back upstairs.  I went by some of the racks with boxes my husband had been going through, cleaning and repacking.  I stopped to look at a toy case with a fairy doll and a little stuffed dolphin that my daughter had when she was 6, over 20 years ago.  I didn't need those upstairs, but they made me smile.

I continued to the stairs.  As I did, I caught a glimpse of a pile of boxes off to the right, next to the basement wall.  The boxes were behind some fans and miscellaneous treasures on the floor.   There on top of the pile was a thick, faded red, familiar looking book.  The page edges were yellowed and the binding frayed.

"No," I whispered, "it can't be." (I really did.)

I shone the flashlight I'd brought down with me, but hadn't needed to use, on the book's cover where I was pretty sure I knew what it said. In large white block letters was "The Good Housekeeping Cook Book"  with a picture of a white baker's hat outlined below the title.
Mom's cookbook!  I didn't even know I had it.

I pushed fans and small boxes aside, and squeezed between them, reaching for the faded red cookbook of my childhood. As I opened it up, there were a few recipes cut from newspapers, and some other cards with recipes in handwriting I didn't recognize, but one scridge of paper was in Mom's pretty handwriting.  I don't know why, but seeing her handwriting is such a comfort to me.  It is something so personal in her absence, like a whisper.   And such a whisper it was.  On the little piece of paper was written my grandmother's Carrot Pudding Sauce recipe.

I'll probably never hear the rattling again.
I hope I do, though.

Guess what? There's going to be carrot pudding this year for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First Glove of the Season


I looked down.  And there it was.  Sad, lonely, waiting.
The first lost glove of the season.

It had followed its owner to Starbucks, riding quietly along in the car in the front seat.  Gloves had been very helpful in the chilly air as Mr. started up the car.  But it got warm in the car, so Mr. took off his gloves and laid them on his lap for the drive to Starbucks before doing a bit of Christmas shopping with Mrs..

Mr. and Mrs. had talked about what to get the kids.  New mittens, of course, would be on the list.  Having a basketful of mismatched mittens at home from prior seasons of cold, meant it was time to adopt a couple more pairs from LL Bean or Reny’s.

When they reached Starbucks they pondered whether they should go in or just get a drive-thru coffee vente.  Mr. thought they had plenty of time, so they decided to go in and enjoy a few minutes of Starbucks magic.

As Mr. got out of the car, the inevitable happened.  One glove fell to the floor of the car, while the other fell out on the cold, wet ground in the dark. 

Free at last! The glove was ecstatic!  The only thing better would have been if his partner had made it out too.  

The car door closed, Mr.’s feet just missed stepping on Glove’s thumb as he turned to go into the coffee shop.

It seemed hours in the darkness before they returned to the car.  Perhaps they will see me here, Glove thought.  But it was too dark.  The shadow from the car beside them, hid Glove from the light of the lamp post.  

Mr. opened the car door for Mrs. and then stepped over Glove as he got in himself.  They drove away without seeing, remembering or wondering.

They bought new mittens for their kids and even a couple more pairs to donate to the school for children who might forget their mittens on a cold day.  And then they drove home.

It wasn’t until the next morning, heading for work, that Mr. couldn’t find his gloves.  He searched the closet and his coat pockets thoroughly before remembering having them the night before in the car.  He raced to the car, fearful of what he might find...or NOT find.  

There on the floor was ONE glove.  Not two.  Not zero.  Just one.  

A quick search of the car confirmed it.  One of the gloves had escaped.  

Having one glove was senseless.  If they had just gone together, there was a chance they’d have found a good home...some cold hands that would welcome a nice warm pair of gloves.  But this, sadly, was not the case.

Remaining Glove was sentenced to the mitten basket with the other mismatched hand coverings.  Who knows, maybe those wanderers will return someday and again will be paired, left with right.

But I’ve seen Glove out on the street.  It isn’t coming home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is That You, Santa...Mrs. Claus?

Mr. Claus?
Mrs. Claus?
'Tis the season. Visions of sugar plums, hopes of glimpses of that jolly old elf...that's what's going on.
Last year in December, someone mentioned in passing that my husband and I looked like Mr. and Mrs. Claus. And this year, this week, out of the blue, on Monday, we were at our local Starbucks, and the staff exclaimed, "Here come Mr. and Mrs. Claus!" as we entered the shop.
I do not know these people. They are not welcome to sit on my lap, nor my husband's.  No one but me is going to sit on my husband's lap...although that hasn't happened since the time he said he couldn't feel his feet.

This morning we got on an elevator heading for the rooftop....well, the top floor, anyway. A woman was already on the elevator as we got on. We rode in silence to the fifth floor where the elevator stopped for her to get out. "Have a nice day, Mr. and Mrs. Claus!" she called back as the door closed.
Our bellies shook as we laughed. I didn't think to lay a finger aside of his nose as up the elevator we rose to the sixth floor, but we got there anyway.

So I'm beginning to think it is either time for us to get some color for our white as snow coiffures, or to get our round little bellies gone with that treadmill in the loft.

What's to dread, though? It's only one month of the year. I'm leaning toward just shopping for a sleigh, getting some warm, red, fur outfits and taking this show on the road. That would surely be easier than losing weight and coloring our white locks, AND you get to eat cookies.
Springing to the sleigh will probably be the toughest part.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Star



Linked to Dori Reads blog, hosting Poetry Friday for December 23, 2011.  Go there to read more great poems posted by others!

I am thinking about getting into the Christmas spirit.  This year Christmas comes on a Sunday.  I hope that doesn't interfere with celebrating Christmas...
now what was it I was supposed to be remembering on Christmas?

There's so much to do, 
with fruit cakes to make, 
Decorations to strew,
and cookies to bake.
There should be some stockings
to hang with some care,
And a tree to install
or the house will look bare!
The manger must grace
the uppermost shelf
Where it will be safe from
Cat, Grandson and Elf.
The turkey once bought
will have to defrost,
But first I'll buy presents
no matter the cost.
Lights will adorn
the windows and more,
And a wreath will encircle
our humble front door.
Put out the NOEL mat
To scuff off all shoes.
Get out the Santa mugs;
there's no time to lose,
For Christmas is coming,
It's most certainly near,
But let's not forget
Why our hearts should have cheer.
It isn't the presents.
It isn't the throngs.
It isn't the lights,
Nor the Rudolphy songs.
Remember that Jesus
to this earth was sent.
Remember the reason is
what His birth meant.

My 150th post!  Yea!





Thursday, December 8, 2011

Love Grows



My 15 words for today...
For my husband.

Just when I think
Our love
Is fully
grown -
New shoots
On old branches
Appear.

Note to self and others: I wrote 379 words to come up with these 15.  Sometimes you just have to write a lot to get a little.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quinzaine for Cold Rain

 

Quinzaine comes from the French word quinze, meaning fifteen. 
A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables. There are seven syllables in the first line, five in the second line and three in the third line (7/5/3).The first line makes a statement, and the next two lines ask a question relating to that statement.
I used the Quinzaine format, to make a longer poem of 8 stanzas.

My husband killed a spider last night...and we all know what that means for the weather. 
And of course the dog got alerted to something...probably the rain. 
She usually does that when my husband isn't home.  I love that. 
Don't get me wrong; I'm happy that she lets me know about dangers
and such, but she usually goes and hides, barking from a distance. 
And then when all quiets down and you're all cozy and comfy, don't
you just hate when you have to uncozify and uncomfyize to wake up
and go to bed???
  
The dog growls low and then barks.
Did she hear something?
Is she scared?

Such a cold and rainy eve.
What would comfort you?
What would warm?

Grab a good book from the stack.
Do you consume books?
Do they you?

Flames from the logs rise and flicker.
Are they comforting?
Do they dance?

Embers are mesmerizing.
Might they hypnotize?
Do they glow?

Warmth emanates from the hearth.
Does it caress you?
Does it seep?

The cold and rain seem distant.
Are you comforted?
Are you warm?

Drowsiness soon overcomes.
Will you crawl to bed?
Will you stay?
 
267 words today

Sunday, December 4, 2011

To Great Grandparents


The eyes don’t have the depth of color
But twinkle just as nice.

The ears don’t hear the quieter sounds
But listen for them twice.

The legs don’t move as fast as once
But make a comfy lap.

The arms don’t hold the weight they did
But hug you while you nap.

The lips don’t always speak as quick
But hum a happy song.

The heart doesn’t seem to beat as loud
But loves you just as strong.


*I know some of these should have 'ly' at the end, but I don't care...poetic license, doncha no.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

We


We may be older
We may be slower
But only because we have
Lived long.

We may be more sore
We may be more stiff
But only because we have
Lived fully.

We may be more deaf
We may be more blind
But only because we have
Lived aware.

We may be more reserved
We may be more discerning
But only because we have
Lived watchfully.

We may be more loving
We may be more forgiving
But only because we have
Lived with faults.

We may be wiser
We may be happier
But only because we have
Loved truly.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A New Child


A new child
Untold tale
Nothing’s been scribed
Or erased

Tabula rasa
A blank slate
Nothing’s been etched
Or traced
 
Beginning now
No regrets
Nothing’s been tried
Or tossed

Newness of life
Fresh new start
Nothing’s been won
Or lost

Life beginning
Script to come
Everything’s planned
And known

Guided soul
From the start
Something once hidden
Now shown

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Best Friends


I was cleaning today and found this poem I'd written in 2008.
I remember feeling this way as a kid.  I had a few "best friends", depending on the day and the situation - what I felt like playing that day, where I was in the neighborhood, who had come to my house...
As a teacher, at recess duty, I always tried to imagine myself at play again with the imagination and enthusiasm of these charges that are "off duty" from the classroom.   I treasure the glimpses into their world.

Swinging, sliding,
Playing tag with a friend,
Laughing and racing
Every day without end.
Best friends forever,
I looks like we might
Be best friends forever.
Who cares if we fight?
The next day we're back
To share a new day
Ride on our bikes and
Run off to play.
Best friends forever,
It's our goal to be
Best friends forever
Just you, you and me!

Oct. 21, 2008

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Give It Up



Empty
Bowl –
Striding.
Telling looks
Harsh stares

Thinking.
Devising.
Commanding.
You must have what I want.
You must know what I want.
You must relinquish what I want.

Yes.

I have what you want.
I know what you want.
I am busy.
Ignoring.
Resisting.
Aarrgh,  caving.
Relinquishing.

Telling looks
Harsh stares
Striding –
Bowl
Full.

The writing process to this piece, from 1st at the end to 5th and final (above).  It just seemed an interesting process to me and I decided to keep my copies as I revised.

4.
Food
Gone,
Striding to me.
Telling looks –
Harsh stares –
He is thinking.
Devising.
Commanding.
I must have what he wants.
I must know what he wants.
I must relinquish what he wants.
Yes.
I have what he wants.
I know what he wants.
I am busy.
I am ignoring.
Resisting.
Aarrgh,  caving.
Relinquishing.
Telling looks –
Harsh stares –
Striding to the bowl
With
Food.
3.
Hungry
Striding to the bowl
Telling looks
Harsh stares
He is thinking.
Devising.
Commanding.
I must have what he wants
I must know what he wants
I must relinquish what he wants.
I am ignoring.
Resisting.
Caving.
Telling looks
Harsh stares
Striding to the bowl
With
Food
2.
Hungry
He
Strides to the bowl
Gives me 
Blank stares
Speaking stares Telling looks
Harsh stares
He is thinking.
He is devising.
He is commanding.
I must have what he wants
I must know what he wants
I must relinquish what he wants
I am wondering.
I am resisting.
I am caving.
Blank stares
Speaking stares
Harsh stares
From
Me
Fed
1.
Blank stares
Speaking stares
Harsh stares
He is thinking.
He is devising.
He is commanding.
I must have what he wants
I must know what he wants
I must relinquish what he wants
I am wondering.
I am resisting.
I am caving.
Blank stares
Speaking stares
Harsh stares

Monday, November 28, 2011

Purrsee

This evening, while I was sewing, and obviously not paying enough attention to Purrsee, our Maine Coon Cat, he got hungry and bored.
He began sliding a spool of thread off the table, and I caught it about 4 times.  Then I started my camera. You can see at the end he has figured it out and is now teasing me!

video 
This morning, he was hungry also, and when he's hungry he likes to get my attention by opening kitchen cabinets (there is no cat food in any of these cabinets and he knows it). In this clip, he has already opened two kitchen cabinets, that you will see him walk by on his way to see if his dish has food in it yet.  I got my camera again, a bit too slowly, but you can see him in action just as the clip starts. When he knows I'm filming, he gets camera shy...or obstinate, perhaps is a better word!

video

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fine Dining Experience

At a restaurant this morning
We sat down to dine
With mom, dad and baby...
And baby was fine!

Although we had worried
And imagined distress
His first public dining
Was quite a success.

It reminded me though,
As I thought of our son,
Of our first dining venture
Where he came undone.

I ate with one hand
And soothed with the other.
I stood up and rocked
Like every good mother.

I passed him to father,
But that didn't last,
Baby was cranky;
His nap time had passed.

Then strangers appeared
And came to my seat,
And those angels held him
So new parents could eat.

I like how having a grandchild brings back delicious and delightful memories, some of which weren't so delicious or delightful at the time! I wonder if those people at the restaurant still talk about the time they helped out some new parents at a restaurant one day 31 years ago.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Back Seat

Today I'm taking a back seat. For the next 8 hours I'm just sitting in the back seat listening to my two men - father and son - talking about cars, guns, work and other guy stuff. Deep voices back and forth. They don't get to talk like that much. I'm trying to sit quietly in the back seat and let them forget I am here. I don't want them to feel guilty that they aren't including me. I don't want them to include me. It's so comfortable to hear their voices. I feel safe and happy. In my back seat world I'm also texting my daughter about cooking her turkey on Thursday, and about making turkey pie with the leftovers. I'm sending her pictures to keep her updated on where we are in our Thanksgiving pilgrimage. She makes me smile when she says how excited my 3 month old grandson is to see me! We like our senses of humor in our family. It is a comfort to know you don't have to explain that you are joking or explain that what you said really means YOU are excited and that someday he will be when he knows what is going on! I remember as a little girl I sat in the back seat on the way to Nannie's and Gramp's house for Thanksgiving. I'm feeling as happy and excited as I did then! And suddenly I know how excited my grandmother must have been before I knew how exciting it was. The back seat is a good place for listening and thinking. Did I mention that I'm happy?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Am Sewing

I don't know why I have to make such a big deal of sewing.
I have had this material since my grandson was born.  That will be three months in two days.  And now I am, at last, bravely cutting the material and single-mindedly sewing.

After a few little tweaks...like setting the material all folded up in little squares, then in strips, out on my bed, to see how it might go together; after looking at countless quilting patterns, after downloading quilting apps, after coloring paper strips and piecing them together, after taking everything out and putting it away again about 10 times; and after going to the store and buying ANOTHER larger cutting mat and new rotary cutter,  it just materialized, so to speak.

Two days ago, I came to the realization that I didn't want to put so much work into the quilt that I wouldn't want a baby to use it, and the job became so much easier to start! I began cutting and sewing yesterday.
I am looking at the floor that needs vacuuming, and the laundry that should be started.  I am thinking about the trip to PA, and how my house should be clean when my friend comes to tend to the dog and cat while we spend Thanksgiving with our new family branch that never existed before this year.  But suddenly, I really want him to have this quilt.  I want him to have it for Thanksgiving.

What if something happened to me and he never got a quilt from Nannie?  What if all he got were the pieces of fabric?  Someone else would have to put the pieces together, and then it wouldn't be from my heart and hands to his. 
I have finally started.  Now I have to finish.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Come to This

Okay.  So it's come to this. 
I wanted some peanut butter.  It's natural and has an expiration date somewhere on it.  I finally located some writing on the edge of the lid.  I wore bifocals up until I stepped on them...well, no.  They were my new bifocals that I got to replace my "over the counter" reading glasses that cost $9.99.  I did not need to get bifocals.  I just thought it would be easier than continuing to use two different strengths of reading glasses, as my optometrist suggested I could do. Wearing them would save me about $300 but I would have to have two pair of different strength reading glasses with me at all times: one for distance and one for close up.  I decided to go with the bifocals.  However, I broke my expensive bifocals within the first 3 months of ownership, and while I waited to see if I would actually go in to get them fixed, I began wearing two pairs of glasses again. 
My daughter loves when I go out with one pair on top of my head and the other on my eyes...well, on my nose...(however she loves it even more when I wear sunglasses over the glasses I'm wearing AND have a pair on my head.  
So that's the background.  My current reading glasses are starting to get a bit weaker (probably wore out the strength from so much use), especially in low light.  I needed to see the expiration date on the peanut butter, but my glasses weren't strong enough or maybe the lighting was bad.  Yeah, probably that last thing... 
Anyway, I, being the clever person that I am, got out my iPhone and snapped a picture of said expiration date on that peanut butter lid.  And then I could just spread the peanut butter so to speak, and make the date as large as I needed to in order to see it without any glasses! 
Sometimes I am so clever I scare me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More illows


Today I worked with a teen, teaching her to sew.  We sewed the first of many pillowcases to donate to the women in a residential addictions program.  I started to write about that, but when I started writing the word "pillow" it made me think of other words...

I like the sound of
pillows,
billows
and willows.

I think
there should
more illow words -
millows of them -
**********************************************************

In the lillows of the valley,
the fragrance is so sweet.

In the frillows of the brook
water splashed upon my feet.

In the nillows of the night,
fireflies glowed, and darkness lightened.

In the villows of the tree
many creatures lived unfrightened.

In the sillows of a web,
the dew drops sparkled with perfection.

In the chillows of the winter,
new snow shone the moon's reflection.

In the gillows of the rocks
little mice were nibbling corn.

In the rillows of the mind
is where mighty dreams are born.
***********************************************************

I do not know where this came from today....somewhere in the rillows of my mind.  I have perhaps been up too late in the nillows of the night.

Linked to Poetry Friday hosted by Tabitha Yeats: The Opposite of Indifference.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Little Things


Roadblock?
Take a detour?
We were
A little late;
Now we're
Lots late.
On the island
Detours
Are little things
That mean 
A lot.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Storm a Coming!

We had to run up to Gull Haven this afternoon because a snowstorm is headed this way. We had to drain the water tank just in case it froze tonight. There's no heat in the house, so just in case . . .
The sky was already getting overcast by the time we got there. And now, on our way home, it is starting a slushy rain. We're supposed to get 6 inches of snow tonight.
It was cold getting the house settled in for winter, so we stopped by Moody's Diner and had some good, hot and hearty beef barley soup with hot from the oven biscuits with real butter. Oh, yeah, and wonderful warm gingerbread topped with real whipped cream to go with that hot coffee!
Now, I ask you, is there anything better than battening down the hatches?

Friday, October 28, 2011

The House with the Wrinkled Wall

Posted also on Poetry Friday RoundUp hosted by Random Noodling,
and on Gull Haven, where I put updates on this house.

The house with the wrinkled wall
Stands firmly
And squat
By the sea

The house with the wrinkled wall
Waits quietly
And longs
For me

The house with the wrinkled wall
Wants warmth
And life
To tend

The house with the wrinkled wall
Sleeps still
And gray
Till then

The house with the wrinkled wall
Knows the time
Is soon
To come

The house with the wrinkled wall
Starts a low
But joyful
Hum

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday! Yea!
I will probably have to make myself a cake if I want one. My husband won't make one.
My daughter doesn’t live here any more.  And my son, well, he is not a mom’s birthday cake maker kind of guy. He may remember that it’s my birthday though.
Whenever I think of making a birthday cake, I remember the time I made Mom a surprise birthday cake. I must have been 12 or 13.
It was summer, so I was babysitting my three youngersiblings.  Mom was working at the store with Dad as she usually did, so I had all day. I wanted to get it made and surprise her with a birthday cake when she got home.
Well, I got out the red cookbook and then pulled out all the ingredients for a cake; there were no mixes back then. I mixed the ingredients by hand.  We did have a mixer, but I didn’t use her beautiful chrome Sunbeam mixer.  I loved that thing.   I knew just how to let the bowl spin and use a spoon to push the batter back down into the bowl without getting the spoon caught in the beaters. Mom had shown me that long ago. You could really ruin your mixer, so I didn’t use it, just in case.
I greased the pan pretty well.  No Teflon or Pam back then.  We always used Crisco on a napkin…no paper towels yet either!
When it looked good and smooth, and my arm was tired, I poured the batter into the cake pan and put it in the oven.  Soon the yummy chocolate cake aroma filled the air.  It was so exciting.  I’d cooked before, but not without Mom home.  She would be so surprised to see this cake, baked by me!  When it was done, I set it aside to cool while I made the frosting.  There were no cans of pre-made frosting in the world yet.  I used my mom’s recipe of confectionary sugar, butter, vanilla, hot water and cocoa powder.   Chocolate frosting for chocolate cake – is there anything better?
I started the frosting.  Pour in sugar, add the butter, vanilla and cocoa.  The hot water melts the butter as you mix it.  The water must not have been quite hot enough though; it almost melted the butter. Little flecks of it, well, lumps of it showed up as little yellow dots, about the size of mini chocolate chips, throughout the chocolate frosting.  I tried adding more hot water, but not muuch changed except that the frosting was getting soupier.  I didn’t have any more confectionary sugar, so I could not get it thicker. So now I had a buttery-lumpy liquid frosting.  Okay.  There was nothing to be done about that now. I’d pour it over the cake. It would look a bit funny, but it would still taste good.
I used a knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan so I could turn it upside down on the cooling rack and then rightside up on the plate.
I placed the rack on the top of the cake pan and turned the cake over to release it from the pan. I lifted the pan away from the cake.  It didn’t come out.  I tapped the bottom of the pan, and I jiggled it. Suddenly and quietly it came out…in pieces. Some of it still clung to the cake pan.  I had a mound of cake that could not be pieced together even with frosting that would stick.
I could hear the car tires crunching on the driveway, as I scooped chunks of cake and placed them on saucers.  The car stopped by the door as I poured buttery lumpy frosting over the chunks.  The porch door opened as I shoved candles into each little cake volcano. “Happy birthday!”  we shouted, as I got ready to light the candles. “I made it myself!”  I laughed.  And we all sat down to eat Mom’s surprise birthday cake.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Triple Dog Dare

Why I Write
Writing is not a choice. Writing is a challenge put forth by my inner me. It’s the reason I write. It has always been there as far back as I can remember. Addiction and obsession are too negative sounding but could be factors. Liberation and communication…now those are the results of the addiction/obsession, but they sound much better! Let’s keep this positive!
Writing is a sport: a game of putting the right words together at the right time in the right place.  A challenge put forth by my inner me. “I triple dog dare you,” says my brain.  And then, I have no choice, I have to write it down.
It’s time to pick teams. Let the games begin.

As the coach, I invite the words to come and try out.  I decide which words I want for the team, which words get to play and which ones don’t.

Some words get sent back.  They just aren't playing nicely; they lack sportsmanship and cooperation. Some words just don't make the cut; they’re just not good enough -  no muscle, no stretch, no imagination, no accuracy, no stamina.  They’ll take too much work to fit in with the rest of the team.

Some words are relegated to the bench in case I need them later.  They have potential, but they just aren’t needed yet.  I’ll look for places to use them well and strategically.  They may not play this game, but I keep an eye out in the next game for a place I can use them.

Sometimes, somehow, too many words go out on the field.  I have to send some back because there are too many for the game, too many on the field! Penalty!!!

But when the right words are put together, they flow.   A brain “wave” goes through the reader.  From word to word, the image grows as it is passed around, until, at the end - SCORE!  And a little brain cheer goes up…

Anyone for up for a game?  I double dog dare you.  No, I triple dog dare you!

********************************************************************************* 
Such a simple question, with so many possible answers! Thursday, October 20, is the third annual National Day on Writing and the Stenhouse Blog will join the celebration by asking you to answer the question: Why do you write?
Here's my comment: 

Why I Write
Writing is not a choice. Writing is a challenge put forth by my inner me. It’s the reason I write. It has always been there as far back as I can remember. Addiction and obsession are too negative sounding but could be factors. Liberation and communication…now those are the results of the addiction/obsession, but they sound much better! Let’s keep this positive!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shushing

 
For Poetry Friday linked at Jama's Alphabet Soup:

Shush!
The wind outside
Is shushing
Listen to the autumn
Rolling in
Skip to greet the
Incoming waves
Splash
Ankle deep in
Leaves
Scoop and toss
Giggle
At leaf spray
Sprinkling down
On faces and necks
Dive into
The cool
Tidal pool
Of autumn.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do You Ever...



Do you ever . . .
  • have a question that you don't dare ask because it may sound stupid?
  • wish that it were true that there are no stupid questions?
  • wonder what your dog is thinking . . . and how he's thinking it without words?
  • look up and imagine walking on the ceiling instead of the floor?
  • try to imagine the sun is shining when it's raining?
  • wonder what a butterfly thinks when he finds out he's not a caterpillar anymore?
  • wonder if a butterfly and a caterpillar speak the same language?
  • go the wrong way because it's the way you remember going . . . and it was wrong then, too?
  • wonder what the ocean would look like without any water in it?
  • feel like flying with wings and landing on a high tree branch?
  • imagine how life would be if you were a seal?
  • want to be a character in a book . . . or their best friend? 
  • wonder what it would be like to live outside all the time, like a deer?
  • imagine you can walk on clouds?
  • want ice cream for breakfast?
  • picture what it would be like to live in an ant hill?
  • wonder what it would be like to think in another language?
  • contemplate how to stay sane if you were the last person on earth?
  • wonder how you would know if you were insane if there was no one to tell you?
  • ponder what someone is doing on the other side of the world at this moment?
  • try to picture green grass and sandals while you are in boots shoveling snow?
  • wish you could pick your dream for the night?
  • wonder what you'd be like if you had been born with a different brain . . . and how would you know?
  • wonder what you would be like if you had been born into a different family?
  • wonder how a particular family would have been changed if you had been born into it?
  • think how life would be different if you'd bought the house across the street?
  • wonder what's the thing you are doing right now that will change tomorrow?

I do.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Prayer



Little man,
Just two months old,
My prayer for you
If truth be told:
That you would come
Into the fold,
Receive the Love
That's pure as gold;
And then a wife 
To have and hold,
A love on earth
That God would mold.


He just turned two months old.  It is never too early to plan for the future of your grandchild!  
This week his great grandmother is going to see him for the first time (not counting his FaceTime debut)!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Everything and the Kitchen Sink


We are looking for fixtures for the new house, and decided to go to Lowe's to see some in person.  It is nice ordering on the Internet and getting things shipped, but sometimes you need to touch things to get a good idea of size, quality, etc.
We looked at lighting first, then went to the washers and dryers, then over to toilets and bathroom sinks.  After that it was on to faucets for both bathrooms and kitchen.  On the way there, we passed the displays of kitchen cabinets, set up with countertops, sinks, faucets, wallpaper and flooring.  A mom and her two sons were just leaving the area.
The younger son, probably 5 or 6 years old (I didn't see his teeth, so I was not positive) pointed to a display and said, "That's a beautiful kitchen!  I didn't know they sold kitchens here.  How do they get them out?"
I could see the mom smile slightly, trying not to laugh, as she very seriously told him, "I think they take them apart."  They passed by me not knowing that I'd heard the exchange. 
I love the idea that a kitchen could get delivered to you all set up and ready to use.  The only thing better would be if you could order it that way online and it teleported into place.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Love, Deer


Hello! Yes, you!  I do not appreciate being startled.  I was just leisurely crossing the road, and here you come barreling down the road in your growly, bug-eyed, little vroomything.  Have you ever thought that you could bump into me with that?  I didn't think so.  I had to hurry to the side of the hard-path. 
This isn't the first time you've done this.  You should know by now how much I hate when you stare at me.  So just stop it!  I hate it!  I wasn't ready to go off into the woods yet.  I wanted to browse along the edge.  But no.  You had to creep up and stare.  So now I'm down here.  And... you are still staring at me!  What is with you guys?  Go away!
Okay.  I'll go away. 
Come on, Bambi.  I almost forgot you were here with me.  Did you know you blend in very well with these saplings and the dark shadows?  They didn't see you either...well, until now. They were actually watching me, but now that you've moved, they are watching you, too.  You need to keep that tail still, and don't turn your ears so much.  Now the only thing we can do is ignore them.  Don't go getting nervous. You know how that makes your tail-white show.  Keep it tucked.
What do you say we go over here and catch a little snack of the last of the sweet greens?  Don't look at them.  They'll go away pretty soon.  They always do.
They're still there, aren't they?
You are just a bunch of staryheads!
See, there they go now!  I guess I told them.  Next time I'll let you yell at them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poem - Pretty Soon I'll Know

Across the road
A week ago we closed on our retirement cottage, but with the weather kind of yucky, and my husband working all week, Saturday was the first day we could go up there and really look at it now that it belonged to us.  The weather was absolutely gorgeously warmish and sunny!
We went up today to meet the contractor and figure out the renovations we want to do.  When we were done, we just sat for a bit on the front steps and listened and watched.  People we've never met before drove by and waved to us.  We returned the gesture.  Two women walked by and called out "Did you buy this place?"  The SOLD sign was still up.
We smiled and called back "Yes."
"Oh, I'm so glad!  This is such a sweet place.  You have a great view!  Oh, I'm sorry!  We've interrupted your view time!"
Nonsense, we will have more view times.  It was great to meet friendly people there: people who were glad we were in the neighborhood.
There are lobster boats in the cove. There's a wharf across the road that says it sells lobsters.  I wonder if they would sell two or three lobsters or if we'd need to get a truckload?  I guess we'll have to find out.  I could buy a truck.

I sat on my steps
Today
With the sounds
And the spray

The sun glistened
So
As I watched him
Slowly row

Out to his boat
Moored
Beneath the gulls
As they soared

The gulls called “Mine,
Mine!”
“Clean your traps, on
Bait we’ll dine.”

The throaty chug,
Chug
Of his engine
Didn’t lug

Soon I’ll know the
Sound
Of each craft when
It comes round

And then I will
Learn
Who owns the name
On each stern

These vessels of the
Sea
That bring lobster
Rolls to me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

Is there anything better for breakfast than oatmeal on a sunny, but cold, autumn morning?  Yes.  Oatmeal in my favorite bowl with my favorite mug filled with coffee.
  
Since I've retired, I've taken to making more foods from scratch.  This oatmeal is not your Quaker Quickies.  It is either Silver Palate, or my new favorite Bob's Red Mill Organic, Extra Thick, Whole Grain Rolled Oats.  Now that's a mouthful...literally!  Silver Palate takes 8 minutes to cook, and Bob's takes 12 whole minutes to make!  Now that's cooking!  Anything that takes longer to make than it does to eat is what I deem cooking.  If the clean up after the meal takes longer than it did to eat it, it's cooking, too.
I sprinkle cinnamon on it, then raw sugar, almond slivers or slices, then some Maine wild blueberries (fresh raspberries or strawberries will also do fine), a drizzle of real maple syrup and last a little bit of milk.  Fill the mug with coffee, and voila!  Breakfast is served.  Oh, I forgot.  Sometimes the bowls are a little cold straight from the cupboard, so I warm them first by rinsing them in nice, hot water before they get filled with oatmeal.  The oatmeal stays warmer longer that way.

There is nothing finer, and I never used to like oatmeal.  The trick is to not overcook it, and don't cook the oats in milk.  And it's very photogenic.  Even if you don't like oatmeal, it makes you wish you did.

Oh, good grief.  My cat is opening the cupboards again.  I have to see if he has an empty bowl.  He's not having my oatmeal.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Specialist

I felt like I should write something, but I’m not sure of what, about Apple.  I worked for 2 years as a Specialist at an Apple store.  I was in the core training group before the first (and only) Apple store in Maine opened.  It opened with a bunch of enthusiastic, energetic, creative and intelligent people of all ages and all walks of life.  We went through a month long training together where we learned the Apple products and a lot about each other.  We were a close knit group by the month’s end.
I never thought I'd enjoy retail sales, but this was a different brand of sales, a different level of retail.  There was a calm, unpressured sales attitude at Apple, an expectation that you would work with a customer until they got what they needed, even if it was only their questions all answered and no sale. 
For me it involved hours after school to closing and all day Saturdays, leaving me little free time. People asked how I could do it, how I could keep up the pace of teaching and work at the store.  All I can say is that it was a different kind of work.  After teaching students all day, I could come in to the store and work with adults, and talk about technology and find solutions to people’s needs. The pace was quick, the work environment was clean and bright, the people were glad to see you.  I was re-energized just walking through the doors.
There was excitement as new products were introduced.  There were challenges to see if you could learn the new products before you got to actually sell one!  It was satisfying to be able to explain differences in models of devices and software and help determine what system was going to be the unit they needed.
Sometimes that store was so crowded you could not make it in a straight line from front to back.  You couldn’t even make out the bright turquoise, royal blue, red or orange shirts signifying that you were an Apple employee.  Teens crowded the devices on Saturdays, dancing to the music, making video clips and posting on FaceBook.  Some people, more my age, came in looking overwhelmed and skeptical at times, but left feeling a bit more in the loop after talking with someone and getting their questions answered.
I have thought about going back to work there, now that I'm retired.  But with gas prices the way they are, and the fact that I'd want to buy every new piece of technology, it would require all of my paycheck!
Would I like to sell another iPhone, iPad, iPod, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac or MacMini?  Would I like to show someone the way to do a screen capture, to record and edit movies, to use GarageBand and make a podcast?  Yes.  I love that stuff.
I also liked teaching first grade.  I liked putting some of those Apple products to use in the classroom, yes, even in first grade.  My class wrote a wonderful story as a class and illustrated it.  Then we used iPhoto and made a beautiful full color book that we were able to gift to the school's library for students to check out.  We've written music in GarageBand and used it in our video podcasts.  
I loved talking to teachers when they came in the Apple store, and I could talk to them about the neat stuff they could do. I loved using my teaching skills there to work at the Apple Camp in the summer, teaching kids how to make movies in iMovie.
I am saddened that Steve Jobs has passed away.  As I heard someone say in a post somewhere, the average IQ of the world has just dropped with his passing.  He was a smart guy.  He was innovative.  He was courageous.  He certainly made a difference in my life over the past 15 years.  My first Mac at school changed a chore into an exciting journey into technology in education that I have enjoyed immensely.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Birds Beware


I see trees and sky over there!
Yesterday a bird hit one of our front windows.  He flew off landing in a low branch as I watched.  Many times they are not so lucky.
This bird I believe hit it again later in the day and survived yet another time, flying to the porch roof for a breather this time.  I hope he's related to a cat... so he'll have seven to go.

Last fall one hit our back sliding glass door and landed on the ground below it.  (We have a new house - only 12 years old - so the deck isn't on the back yet - hey, we have plenty of time to get that deck.)  He must have seen the windows in the front and thought he could fly through back to front.  He sat there for a couple of hours just looking around.  I called Chewonki, which is a place around here that does Nature Education classes and also takes in injured wild animals, to see what I should do.  They were closing for the night, so said to just watch him, maybe put him in a box lined with towels and put a cover on it with holes.  By the time it was getting to be evening, when I looked out he had flown away.  I was relieved.  A bird in a box on my front porch for the night would mean I wasn't sleeping.  What if a fox, weasel or coyote came by?

Looks like we could fly right through there!
Some mornings our Golden Retriever, Pippi, won't step on parts of the lawn.  She'll sniff a spot and then go around or hop over it like it's tainted.  I'm sure we have plenty of wildlife that passes through at night.  If I feel guilty about a bird hitting my windows, I can't imagine the guilt if I set him safely on my porch and had him, in actuality, set up to be a boxed lunch.

The twelve large windows in the prow reflect the tall trees and sky on the birds' side.  I'm sure birds think it would be great fun to fly between the wooden posts and out again.  They just can't see the danger there.

I had never given a thought to the dangers of the windows when we built the house.  I love my view from the prow. From my side I can see the trees and sky for real.  They only reflect the inside back to me at night.
In a snowstorm it feels like I'm in a reversed snowglobe...like someone is shaking the outside and I'm inside all safe and warm watching the snow fall all around me.

I'm so sorry, birds, for my part in this.  I should have put in smaller windows. I'll remember that if I put any more windows in a house.

I wish I didn't feel so bad about fooling them.  I don't know what to do about it though.
Maybe some little danger signs posted outside in bird language...little silhouettes of a cat on a yellow diamond shaped sign?  I couldn't draw glass.  They wouldn't see it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Up, Down vs. Down, Up

Up, down, 
Mom grips, 
Runs,
Then lets go. 
Up, down, 
Weaving wheel 
Snake prints 
In gravel and grass. 
Up, down, 
Two pedals, 
Little bike, 
On the ground. 
Up, down,
Boy’s spirit, 
Knee Scuffed. 
Up, down, 
Little bike 
Put away 
For another day. 
Up, down, 
“I will 
do that 
when 
I know
how.” 
Up, down, 
Door slams. 
Up, down, 
Mom sighs. 
There’s no 
Explaining
That you 
Need to
Do it 
To learn
How.
There’s no 
Explaining 
Down, up.

That was a hard day.  How do you convince him that he can't just not do something until he knows how to do it?  Of course, now he's grown, having learned how to ride his bike shortly after that incident, and now rides a motorcycle!