Category Archives: Celebrate

Some Small Comforts

Today I am going to take a break from writing about the coronavirus pandemic and focus on a few good things. How? Let me count the ways.

First things first: I started the morning with cinnamon toast made from homemade bread. Also, a mug of tea featuring one of my favorite dogs.

This year, March 19 is the first day of spring, the earliest in my memory. While in Maine rough winds might not exactly be shaking the darling buds of March, the snow is pretty much gone from our yard. Yesterday, Clif took down the Christmas lights, and he didn’t even have to clamber over a snowbank to do so. I swept the patio, removing piles of dead leaves and dirt. It might not be time to bring out the chairs and tables, but it sure is good to see a clean patio with just a little itty-bit of snow left. More like mid-April than mid-March.

Our library is closed because of a certain virus I promised not to write about. Has that deterred our intrepid adult-services librarian, Nick Perry, who leads the library’s book group and trivia night at Van der Brew? It has not. Nick has started a virtual book club and movie club.

Our first book will be Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence. I Haven’t even started the book, but just from reading the description, my feminist alarm is already shrieking. Should be a good discussion.

The movie is going to be The Hours, which is based on the book by Michael Cunningham. Clif and I have already seen this movie and liked it very much. However, we saw it ten years ago when the movie first came out, and we will have to watch it again to refresh our memories.

Not content with these two nuggets of awesomeness, Nick has made a video of several movies that he likes and that are available on Kanopy, a library streaming service. Holy cats, Nick is good! His observations are right on the mark, and his delivery and pacing are pitch perfect. Nick is so good that he could be on NPR. Watch out Bob Mondello! But don’t take my word for it. You can see for yourself on this video.

 

If you are unable to get Kanopy through your library, many of the movies Nick recommended are available through other streaming sources.

Finally, today is Clif’s and my forty-third wedding anniversary. We will obviously be spending a very quiet one at home. Because I am a committed homebody, this is just fine with me. We have cake in the freezer, pizza, and rum for cocktails.

Tonight, we’ll settle down with one of Nick’s suggestions, Ernest & Celestine.

Small comforts in troubled times.

 

 

The Countdown Begins!

While it might be only five days until Christmas, it is just two days until the kids—all right, they’re really adults, but they will always be kids to me—come home. Tomorrow, Mike and Shannon will be leaving North Carolina on Saturday and spend the night with Dee in Brooklyn. Then to Maine, to Maine, they all come, and the whole crazy crew will be together until Sunday, December 29, when Shannon and Mike head back to North Carolina. Dee will stay with us until the New Year.

Clif and I are more than a little excited to have everyone home. The shelves, freezer, and refrigerator are bursting with good things to eat. There will be movies, of course, and board games and pizza with friends. And lots and lots of talking. I know the time will fly by ever so fast, but what a delicious feeling it is to be at the beginning of the festivities rather than at the end.

I will be taking a break from blogging until the New Year. With so much family and fun, I’m not sure how many blogs I’ll be able to read, but I’ll be back in the saddle come the beginning of January.

Two things to share before I sign off.

The first is from Suzzane’s Mom’s Blog, a wonderful source of offbeat news, most of it positive. Recently, there was a post about how in 1955 NORAD began tracking Santa’s progress. After all the upsetting news about politics and the climate crisis, this is sure to put a smile on your face. Go, Santa, go!

The second are some snowy pictures I took around our yard. I know that in different parts of the world, Christmas looks different, and that’s as it should be. The world is big, and there is lot of variety. But to northern New England, Christmas means snow, and here are some pictures I took around our yard after the last storm a couple of days ago.

Happy holidays to you all. See you in 2020.

A Short Story Advent Calendar

This year for an early Christmas present, my daughter Shannon and my son-in-law Mike gave me Hingston & Olsen Publishing’s 2019 Short Story Advent Calendar.

This present is as delightful as it sounds and looks. In the box, there are twenty-four short stories labeled from 1 to 24. Each story is sealed, waiting to be broken on the appropriate day by the eager reader. As is described on the Advent Calendar website, “this is a collection of literary, non-religious stories for adults.”

So far my favorites have been “Save-A-Lot” by Anthony Doer; “An Errand in the Country” by Olga Grushin; and “Natural Light” by Kathleen Alcott. In fact, I liked Gushin’s story so well that I have requested her novel The Dream Life of Sukhanov through interlibrary loan, and it might very well be the first book I read in 2020.

Naturally, not all the short stories in the collection have resonated with me, and that is to be expected. But what a treat it is to settle into bed with the story of the day, and this sort of advent calendar is a perfect gift for those who love literary fiction.

Many thanks, Mike and Shannon!

A Christmas Surprise

In Maine, December is a dark, cold month. The days are at their shortest—dusk comes at around 4:15—and how lovely it is when the sun sets. A star twinkles in the evening sky. Everywhere, trees with bare branches stand in silhouette, framing the glowing moon as it rises.

December is a perfect month for sparkling lights and surprises, for getting parcels that you don’t expect. One such package came yesterday, from my blogging friend Judy of New England Garden and Thread. Judy’s creativity—her sewing and quilting—is a constant source of inspiration to me. How I enjoy seeing the posts of the various project she makes throughout the year.

And how pleased and surprised I was to receive this lovely gift from Judy.

It has pride of place in the living room, resting against books on a shelf by the couch.

Many, many thanks, Judy! What a wonderful addition to my Christmas decorations.

 

A New Way to Look at the Fourth

It was another scorcher of a Fourth with temps in the 90s in the shade, and the humidity was high, too. Fortunately, the week before the Fourth was cool, which meant preparing for our annual  get-together was not as arduous as it has been in past years. (On Facebook last year, I wrote that July 3 was so hot that I felt like one of Dali’s melting clocks, which by the way I have seen at MOMA. The picture was much smaller than I had expected. Life is often like that, isn’t it?)

The heat did have one good effect—it kept the mosquitoes down so that we were able to gather on our patio rather than in our dining room. Here is a picture of the table filled with good food made by my friends and me.  A tip of the hat from Diane.

And because of the heat, we had plenty to drink, kept cold in ice.

On the Fourth, it is customary to honor the past and the hard work of those who came before us. At our gathering this year, we did something different. Instead, we praised the younger generation for their grit, courage, and levelheadedness. We have left a terrible mess for them to deal with, and it makes my heart ache to think about it. While every generation has its slackers—ours certainly did, too—so far I am encouraged by the upcoming generations that are rejecting cars, McMansions, and food chains such as Applebee’s. (Let’s face it. The food is terrible and overpriced at Applebee’s.)

Therefore, let the bells ring for the younger folks, the promise of a better future. And know that in this corner of Maine, in the woods, Clif and I will be living as lightly as we can to “be the change we wish to see.”

We will also vote, of course. That almost goes without saying. And in September of this year, Clif and I will join the youth in their Global Climate Strike.

Onward, ho, and creaky knees be damned!

 

 

 

 

The Joys of Spring

Readers, it has finally happened—the event I have been looking forward to since the spring equinox, and it ranks right up there with forsythia and the song of the peepers. Drum roll, please: yesterday marked the first time this year that I was able to hang laundry outside on the line. Happy, happy day! From now until October, laundry will be hung on the line rather than inside on racks.

As if that weren’t enough joy for one week…the maple tree is in bloom. These tiny bursts of red are one of my favorite flowers. They complement every bird, no matter the color, that comes into the backyard—the   goldfinches, the cardinals, the chickadees, the nuthatches.

And what a joy to have birds around me as I worked in the garden. I heard the sharp rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker, the twitter of the goldfinches, the caw of a crow, and the haunting call of a loon.

With such music, it seemed as though the big bed in the backyard was cleaned in no time.

Even more joy: The ferns are starting to come up.

And last but not least, Clif sifted compost for me, and this will soon go in the back garden.

Such a lot of joy for one week. Who could ask for anything more?

 

 

Happy Earth Day, Happy Birthday!

Today is a special day for us. Not only is it Earth Day, but it is also our daughter Shannon’s birthday. Happy birthday to a very special person!

My blogging friend Judy noted that Earth Day is forty-nine years old, almost old enough to be a member of AARP.  Too funny! Judy also wrote that even though she gets stung more than she would like, she still leaves all manner of flowering weeds in her lawn to attract bees and other pollinators. Yay, Judy!

My blogging friend Eliza wrote that “every day should be Earth Day where we do our best to take care of our planet.” Hear, hear! And she posted an oh-so-lovely blue bouquet in “a small, cobalt-blue tincture bottle.” What a fitting way to honor our beautiful blue planet.

From the often curmudgeonly but nonetheless excellent website Tree Hugger, here are ten tips to make every day Earth Day.

Today is a gray but mild day in our neighborhood. To honor Earth Day, we are not going anywhere at all. It will be a no-car day—we do our best to have several of these each week. If the weather allows, we will sweep the patio and haul out the small patio table from our cellar. Heck, if the rain hold off we will even have our first patio drink of the season, where we will toast Earth Day and our birthday daughter.

Finally, here is a picture of a small fallen tree on the edge of our yard by the woods. A wonderful example of how nothing is wasted in nature.

Happy Earth Day to all!