Category Archives: parenting / family

A walk in Webster Woods

All the recent rain changed the landscape. Rogue rivulets. Impromptu puddles hoping to become ponds. Glistening leaves. It was slippery enough for me to wish I’d brought poles.

It’s hard to get lost in this patch of woods, but we don’t always know precisely where we are. All the fallen leaves obscuring the paths today didn’t help.

It’s hard to believe this small wooded escarpment lies within a mile and a half of the house. Almost every time we traipse through here, I think about how if our boys were raised in the 60’s, they would have known every inch of this area. It makes me a little sad.

This week we are 33 years together. There are certain patterns of communication. I say Which way and when K doesn’t answer I say Let’s go right and when it turns out we kind of went the wrong way and we got to where perhaps we meant to go K says This is where we would’ve come if I’d said what I wanted to which was to go left.

One of the consequences of making a choice is you might be wrong. But if you don’t assert a choice, do you get to be right?

I can think of worse thing to stumble over.

Since a brilliant variety of mushrooms made our last walk festive, I kept an eye out but there were hardly any. What few I saw were like the Puritan versions of Mardi Gras celebrants. Don’t get me wrong, they were still spectacular, which is not an adjective I’d apply to a Puritan.

The leaf below looked like a bird in flight.

This boy was happy. Finn’s pack instincts came to the fore whenever K and I momentarily diverged (for me to take the low route, for instance — when did I become so cautious?). At these junctures, The dog becomes visibly anxious. I love how it matters to him that we stick together!

Like footprints

Today I will: ** read ten Joy Harjo poems; ** boil up Friday’s chicken carcass for stock and then make mushroom soup (shrooms from the market — not to worry!), ** scoop up wet leaves and walnuts along the curb using a straight-edged shovel. We will

From the woods in Concord
Also Concord
Back to Newton

Sumac stealth

“Ugh, it’s hot. My app says it’s 97.”

“My app says it’s 94. Rain at 2:00.”

“Mine’s showing it holding off ‘til 4:00”

This conversation, nearly verbatim, happens to an embarrassing degree in our house. I’m not sure whether it speaks more to being married for more than thirty years or to being over-reliant on our devices.

It was really too hot to be poking around scrub land behind retail space in search of sumac, but there we were. Finn’s tags fell off somewhere along the way this week necessitating a trip to Pet Co. We left the dog home and brought along gloves, spade, and two empty containers.

My mother was famous for plant-grabbing. She’d drive up into the woods behind our house in Pittsfield as far as the road would go, and fill the trunk with small trees which eventually, of course, became big trees. My brother claims she got permission from the landowner. I’m not so sure.

I’d seen her pull over on Route 43 or Dalton Road and dig up what to any other eye might appear to be a weed, perhaps with a spoon that she happened to have in the glove box. A little savage. Let’s just say she was a resourceful opportunist with a very good eye. This being her birth week, I figured why not honor her with my own sly acquisitions?

Last weekend, we more legitimately came by a clethra and a yew. These are all for the fence line along the back edge of the property. I also had to buy and plant two flats of pachysandra which the workers stomped to extinction on my neighbor’s property. Part of the price of our new fence.

And speaking of that neighbor. The son has come home with his girlfriend to live and turns out, the girlfriend is interested in learning how to quilt. Would I want a student? I almost said no, but I’m already thinking what I’d bring to a casual show and tell for a first lesson. And if the main reason I don’t want to proceed is because I can’t think what to charge a recent college grad with no job, then is that really a reason?

I sent my neighbor away with a few books and gave her Jude’s blog’s name. Ruth McDowell’s too. The young woman is an engineer so it occurred to me that McDowell’s precise piecing method may appeal to her. That’s a place to start, answering the question: What are you drawn to?

Meanwhile, I finished this with a little help from my friends (speaking of Jude, also Maggie and Jenn) (mostly re: a disappearing head. I think I fixed it!)

Cooked gardened cleaned

At my brother’s, I cooked, gardened, and cleaned. It was hot and dry and, unlike here, SUNNY. We watched a lot of TV, too. It’s kind of one of my jobs. Was happy to turn my brother onto Shetland and Justified. Last visit it was Vera.

He was feeling so much better than last visit that he was episodically downright chatty. The old Billy. Is it too much to hope that the fevers and abdominal pain are over for now?

The drugstore on Eagle Rock Parkway was closed when I went to pick up some meds. American life at its worst: a young store clerk tried to apprehend a shoplifter and was shot and killed. There were balloons and flowers and Jesus candles lining the sidewalk. People huddled in grief. It was hard to be too upset about the inconvenience of going to the place on York Boulevard, three miles away, with a clerk who could barely ring up items, meaning it took an eternity to get through the five people in front of me. Okay, so I got annoyed in spite of the tragedy.

Zooey, the 15 year old black dog, does not seem to be in pain but is bladder challenged. She has trouble getting up and can barely walk, so there is a constant race to launch her toward the rear door and get the slider open. She needs to go A LOT. Three times during the night, often. A whole other layer of caregiving but also a lesson in survival. She has sooo much personality.

I doubt I’ll see her again.

Delilah is the other dog, mentioned before. A right lioness. Formerly anxious (still anxious with fireworks) and now dignified and mostly calm. I’d take her home if I could!

Because of the Covid-surge, I’m not sure when I’ll be back. There’s much more to say about everything but I have other writing to get back to. I hate it when I lug my laptop on a trip and don’t even open it! This time I edited six chapters during my flight home, so at least there was that.

More about ravens tomorrow. Talk about chatty!

Snow and time

It’s coming down hard. Brush the car off one hour and the next it’s covered again — with four inches of snow! Been shaking the branches of the arbor vitae and holly.

Still finding bottle brush trees to put away.

With all the sticks littering the backyard, Finn just wants someone to play with him when he’s out back. Right now, though, he’s snoring, curled up next to K.

March is birthday month: both boys, my brother and sister in law, and my mother in law. A few pictures going back to first boy’s first year.

A little peanut in a Moses basket.

A first Christmas in Florida.

The Uncle Fester phase.

Precious commodity: sleep.

PJ’s from Korea. Pond my mother made.

Bumpers, quilt, and curtains I made. A happy chappy (Oh Lord, was there a heating pad in the crib?)

First trip to the Vineyard. Two color ear flap hat knit by moi.

PO’d kitties. Suddenly not the center of our world.

Stay warm if you’re sharing this blizzard and if not, stay cool while ever more shit hits the fan in Washington!

A last shot spit up by FB this morning. Not from his first year, obviously.

Morning List and Queries

Waking to sounds of wind and rain was an accidental blessing this morning.

Leaving i-devices downstairs at night should be a regular thing. I mean, if sanity matters.

It’s nice to breathe through two nostrils.

Whoever said, “You have a nervous system for every child” was wise.

I like that better than, “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child.”

Thumb typing sucks.

Time was they’d say, “We’re in for some rain and gusts of wind”.

What’s John Bolton’s deal?

I’m sure I don’t want to know.

After hearing a talk about the relative virtues of handwriting and five-finger keyboard typing last week*, what I’m wondering is: are there any virtues of thumb typing with ducking autocorrect?

Millennials don’t answer their phones. Or mine don’t.

Finishing things makes a place to rest and

anything can become a house.

Unfinished things create points of tension.

Which do you prefer — possibilities or closure?

Sometimes I snarl. Example: “you must have a macro for ‘I’ll do it tomorrow'”.

This ‘bomb cyclone’ is just wind and rain. Hunger is a reliable thing. So are some friends.

You can often predict who among your friends will be afraid of dogs, but the ones that love them might surprise you.

It’s not a race. Life.

The questions (and subject of tomorrow’s post) are: how do your manage your news intake and what sources do you rely on?

* Michelle (MsUncertaintyPrinciples — side bar) posted a talk about writing vs. typing last week on FB. It’s by Clive Thompson and it’s on YouTube if this link doesn’t work.