Category Archives: every day life

Let’s count

One backpack full of 12 books delivered to empty neighborhood kiosk.

Three ten hour days spent fixing TV computer. One call to Comcast. Endless searches on internet. Number of consecutive good night’s sleep in absence of TV news? FIVE. Number of heroes in this story? One. My husband.

Six hundred words deleted over three hours, the equivalent of roughly 1 1/2 pages. Number of words still to delete? Don’t ask. Number of times I’ll wring my hands before the second draft’s done? Also — don’t ask.

Number of metal utensils laid out to deter dog-thieving: six. Batches of cookies baked: seven, two of them doubles. One ball of dough left.

Articles of impeachment written: two. Number of articles that COULD HAVE been written (spitballing, here): 25. Still to come: full House vote and one major shit storm in the Senate. Number of years poised at the edge of the abyss: 243.

Number of times I felt dismayed reading black twitter’s critiques of Warren: too many to count.

Seasons of The Kominksy Method watched: 1 1/2 (highly recommend).

Total library fines owed: eek! I don’t know.

Number of times I paused to notice the absence of my sister: at least a dozen. Some moments marked by relief, others by grief.

Number of rallies in support of impeachment planned for tomorrow (the eve of the House vote): more than 600.

Number of times I’ve tipped my head back to admire trees since reading “The Overstory” — too many to count. Number of people to whom I gave copies: three.

Two trips to the PO in the last five days qualifies me as a fucking saint. Three mice mailed, three mini-cloth houses.

Number of meds I forgot to take yesterday: four. Number I did take: two.

Number of days I just let go by without opening my laptop: two.

Eight days till Christmas, five ’til the shortest day of the year.

Here’s wishing all of you lots of love and joy in the days to come.

Rain will turn to snow

And that’s how it’s been going.

Two weeks ago, I upgraded my phone. It had been years. It wasn’t holding a charge anymore and I got sick of walking around in the red zone all the time. Wasn’t gonna spring for another battery.

Meanwhile, the computer that has recorded our tv programs for two decades crapped out. Gonzo. It’s the only way I can see cable, whether recording it or not. Therefore, there was no Maddow or Nicolle Wallace on this historic day.

I watched a four minute clip of Nadler announcing the two articles of impeachment while sitting in the car, in the rain, before going into the office building perched on the Wellesley side of the Charles River where I get my eyes checked. New glasses are in order.

After dinner, K announced that the Christmas tree light cord overheated and needs replacing.

I’m sensing a theme here.

At least the mice are getting dressed for the holidays! Two are chatting away in the dark of a postal box right now, making their way down the coast of the Atlantic.

A grey Monday

The first house (below) didn’t belong so I took it off. New house includes cloth that Deb Lacativa gifted me recently.

As a hostess gift, Deb brought threads, too!

I’ve put them in the box that formerly housed my sister’s Aquarian Tarot deck. Noreen left behind some fifteen decks, but this was her favorite, in her possession since the mid-seventies. I love the cards, too, but knew they weren’t mine to use. During Deb’s visit, it just became so clear that they should go home with her.

Deb later informed me that the artist who created the deck, David Palladini, died on March 13. The same day as my sister. (He also went to Pratt Institute — which is where my parents met).

My sister’s glass collection cheered up an otherwise grey day. I can already tell that the season of watching Hallmark Christmas movies won’t be the same without her. We used to play an informal Bingo on the phone. “I got a character named Nick!” Or “I had the magic ornament!” “The kiss during a sleigh ride!” Or, “We need to add: Dancing while making cookies!”

That’s alright. I’ll be watching the impeachment hearings.

Spent more time on the manuscript: combining phrases and cutting out paragraphs and splitting a chapter for better flow. And even, for the first time in ages, doing a little research. Learned more about the Royalls who moved from Antigua around the same time as the Lucases and probably for some of the same reasons (hurricane, drought, an earthquake, and credible evidence of a slave revolt in 1736). All so I could add a line to a conversation between Eliza and her mother.

And so it goes.

Sorry if this is so disjointed. I’m watching Maddow as I type and it’s a dense episode.

What’s in your front closet?

Besides shoe polish, stationery, my pocketbook, travel pillows, the basket for rogue socks, and a pile of shirts to be ironed, there were many bins of fabric in my front closet. How did they get there? Was there a party I didn’t know about?

Just kidding! How else to keep several compositions going without running to the basement every other minute?

The closet had to be mostly emptied this weekend because I sold a cute patchwork purse on Etsy last week and cannot find it. Anywhere. This in spite of the fact that I took over one of the boys’ rooms as a “store.”

I’ve looked in all the right places and all the crazy places. Pulled furniture from walls. Looked in attic luggage and under car seats (don’t ask). Looked using casual side eye and with focused attention using a flashlight. Nada.

And to make matters worse? I can’t help but keep a rough tabulation of my time at this point — something I generally avoid because the numbers tend to be depressing.

A very generous guess puts my hourly rate at about $5 / hour for this pouch — which was machine pieced, hand quilted, machine and hand bound. There’s a Chinese closure which was hand stitched on. That rate excludes shipping and handling time (– another hour minimum). With every hour of searching, the rate goes down. And down.

Good thing the buyer is my cousin!

I will be making another pouch. A different one, of course, because all my cloth work is one of a kind. A weird pressure arises because the one my cousin bought came out really nice and they don’t all — ya know?

If the search hadn’t been so thorough, here’s where I’d joke that the damn thing will probably turn up the the second I finish a replacement. But I won’t now because it feels well and truly gone. I am mystified.

Leprechauns, for sure. What else could it be?

Also, what’s on your fridge?

Something like normal

Forty five degrees but not raining — we’ll take it! Looks like the down vests might be staying out until Memorial Day this year.

House is settling down some. I’ve emptied four more boxes from the garage and also neatened our sitting room so that it’s slightly more liveable, even with piles and crates of my sister’s things.

It would be MORE back to normal today if we weren’t off to Colorado this weekend. Son #2 will be working most of the visit which is one of those bad things/good things but mostly good thing because it means he has a full time job. This visit, for the novelty of it, we’re staying in Denver instead of Boulder.

I’ll leave you with more pictures from the sister clip files, below. All these images were in a plastic pack together.

The handsome man in the tan suit might be Bryan Ferry (my sister and I saw Roxy Music together once), but I’m not sure.

What’s in YOUR clip file?

The light it speaks

Of spring.

Even before we’ve tinkered with our clocks, the light speaks of spring. Soft and democratic, it offers its glow wherever it falls, instilling a sense of hope.

Is this different from “radical hope” — something I’ve read a lot about since November 2016? Radical hope galvanizes. Forces us to say ‘yes’ to things, because saying ‘no’ is not enough (Naomi Klein).

Radical hope is an act of courage (Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark). Not for the faint of heart. Solnit writes, “Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists.”

Terry Patten writes in A New Republic of the Heart that “a radical robust hope lies on the other side of despair. It can energize and sustain us, inspire our highest capacities, make us a powerful positive force … and help us address our inconceivably vast challenges.”

Cynicism is easy. Hope takes work, builds community, etc. These are necessary reminders. Medicinal, even.

But yesterday offered a less dynamic sense of hope. Nothing catapulting or conspiring. Soft and inviting, it offered a whisper of spring.

Even when a slow-poke cocker spaniel (on a retractable leash no less), forced Finn and me to walk a stretch of Route 9 at rush hour, I was not diminished.

We negotiated past old and crusty piles of snow. Avoided the paper refuse that might house irresistible tidbits. The roar coming at us. Two tons of steel intent on getting to work. Car after car with their threads of exhaust. I remained open. Open to the assaulting noise. Open to vulnerability — aware of the risk — a slip here riskier than elsewhere.

Maybe because it was warmer yesterday, maybe because February really is the month when the turning of season makes itself felt, but in that motion and noise and ever present possibility of calamity, there was hope.

It came unbidden. Full of promise. Announcing itself with a flutter. Quietly.

Where does hope reside for you these days? Is it something you have to work at? If so, how do you do that?

Real ID, anyone?

Raise your hand if you haven’t seen your Social Security card in a while. It’d been decades for me and it never mattered. Until now.

Bday coming — license renewal year. The law’s changed. I could renew the standard way or provide additional proofs of identity to obtain a “Real ID.” The Real ID would allow me to continue to travel without a passport domestically.

None of the alternative proofs of my Social Security number were available to me. My last W-2 dates back a few years (they want a recent one). Our 1099’s are in K’s name and by the way, only reveal the last four digits of his SSN. Correspondence from SSA only reveals last four digits of my SSN, too.

So, off I went to the Social Security Administration in Waltham last week to apply for a new card. A bundle of papers culled from all over the house. My passport.

There was just one wrinkle. Passport was not enough. A birth certificate would be convincing, but when I was eight, she whispered, my mother changed my name. She threw an additional “r” into ‘Deidre,’ making me ever after ‘Deirdre.’ My birth certificate is wrong.

Notice how I buried that? After holding for 25 minutes the day before and then talking to a super nice guy for 25 minutes, I was counseled to characterize the discrepancy as a misspelling. Tired parents. Careless clerk. Avoid the words, ‘name change.’ The truth is, my mother misspelled my name repeatedly throughout my life, so it wasn’t a stretch to assert (which matters only because I’m a terrible liar). Did she make the change officially? This would’ve been the year JFK was killed. Schenectady County. I have no idea, but somehow I doubted it and clearly there wasn’t time to find out. I certainly didn’t have time to petition a court myself in the event she hadn’t bothered.

I brought an electric bill addressed to ‘Deidre’ to show that it was a common mistake.

Meanwhile, I was fairly certain that I’d applied for my SSN at the time of my first real job — age 15, mother’s helper. If so, no problem.

I arrived at 10:00 to a room full of fellow applicants. I counted a dozen. I hadn’t realized until arriving that the office closed at noon on Wednesdays. Would I make it?

A barrel chested man in uniform, 6’3″ at least, assured me that my queue number would be preserved if I had to return the next day. Okay, that let me relax.

So did recognizing how low the stakes were for me. This is only about being able to leave my passport home when I fly to Boulder or LA. I wasn’t wrestling with immigration or disability payments or Medicare.

Many windows were closed — whether because of the government shutdown or as a matter of course, I didn’t know. People kept flowing in, including an elderly Chinese couple. She could barely walk and relied heavily on her husband for stability.

I kept a head count going. Two people were accompanying other people. Good! One was a no-show. Good! I was beginning to think I’d make it.

Meanwhile, the officer was tracking everything, too. When a number was called out to no response, he repeated the number in Spanish and sure enough up popped two Hispanic men. The officer added a greeting and more information. Fluently.

Time ticked by. I sunk into the vacancy of waiting mind, which is a lot like resting. Phone untouched. The elderly Chinese man walked his wife to the restroom, then waited outside. His number was called before she finished, so the officer took up waiting in his place. When she emerged, he offered his arm and spoke a few syllables to her in Chinese. Bending down. Speaking softly.

I was blown away.

My number came up! I had a 20 dollar bill in my pocket (lunch money?) to offer the guy at window eight in case he was working without pay (he wasn’t). He was affable. Efficient. I couldn’t believe my luck. He predicted the new card would come well in advance of the officially stated two weeks.

It arrived in three business days.

And so, I trundled off to the RMV in Watertown this morning. It was the usual hive of activity but unlike other years they had a cadre of women previewing applications, scribbling approvals, expediting the line. I was out of there in a half an hour.

Blown away. Again.

And in case that isn’t enough: I sold a quilt on etsy last night! And at midnight I padded downstairs for the ninth search for the missing checkbook (think: recent robberies and a well-meaning attempt to protect our assets) AND FOUND IT! And in case all that isn’t enough: after the aide who was FINALLY going to start up in Salem yesterday bailed and I was starting to feel like the matter would never be resolved for my poor sister, a new one was hired on this morning! Just like that!

Whew. I need to look at astrology and see what’s happening up there.