Now, where did I leave that?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day Two

Four day weekends are a beautiful--and all too rare--thing.  I'll confess I'm watching the weather; my fingers are crossed in hope that the threatening showers will actually happen and give me a great excuse to not spend the morning weedwhacking and planting because I'm feeling very lazy and would rather knit, spin and read today.  Lest one think I'm a total sloth, I did do a little mowing yesterday. After scaring the bejesus out of Mots, I remembered that last summer my nickname for her was Miss Peony, because her favorite summer napping place is tucked in and under a large peony. The reminder came when I mowed right next to said peony....oops! As for the rest of the day's plans, it wasn't anyone's fault the Grasshog's head fell off, aborting the rest of the day's outdoor plans! Ummmm...the weeds are waist high surrounding all the raised beds, so until that's knocked down, no planting can happen.   Have you noticed how the air is saturated with the scent of (what I think is) sweetbriar?  I'll include some photos when I get a chance, but everywhere I look are cascades of white blossoms with yellow centers on thorny stems.  Last night the scent sweetly filled the livingroom.
And speaking of last night--FIREFLIES!!!  Linda beckoned for me to join her outside last night.  Expectantly I looked to the sky, expecting astronomical wonders of some kind, until she whispered, "you don't need to look so high"....and there, winking among still-tall weeds (aha!  fate made the Grasshog's head fall off!), were fireflies!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Magnificent Crones

Friendship is a strange entity....there are people you believe will be friends forever, and then time or life or betrayals (minor or major, perceived or real) change everything. There are people you're sure you created soul contracts with before landing here, and indeed you find each other again--miraculously, given the sheer numerical odds. There are work friends and travel friends, occasional phonecall friends and those you talk to/text/email all day long. The type of friends I'd like to acknowledge today are the ones that come together over a shared purpose, who become family bonded by blood, sweat, tears, laughter--always the laughter. This is in honor of a trio of such womyn, who will be celebrating their croning in about a week and a half. Each has her own unique strengths and gifts, and I love, admire and respect them all.
Mary, you have such a warm and welcoming acceptance of others--flaws and all--and a grounded spirit that knows how to fly with the angels.
Diane, you have a strength few people can ever aspire to, and a heart to match (and a laugh that makes everyone else join in with you).
Kam, you have an ability to combine work and play with child-like delight and adult common sense that engages and inspires the people around you.
I could go on and on about each of you, with poetry, humor and emotion, but for once I'll be brief...I wish you a joyous, powerful, most blessed croning; may the next phase of your lives bring you peace and daily awareness of how much you mean to all whose lives you touch, whether for one long weekend a year, or every day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


There are two kinds of people in this world (bet you thought there were more)--the ones who think hazy+hot+humid=heaven, and the ones for whom 75 degrees is as high as outdoor temperatures should ever, EVER reach. Take a guess in which category I'm huddling, with my air conditioning and minty iced tea .

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

It's not even June and already so much is lush and blooming (or about to bloom, as the very pregnant peonies can attest)....we'll be eating strawberries before the week is out; the potentillas--a housewarming gift from my older son and his wife--are dancing with sweet, small yellow flowers; and there are...roses. I'm not a fan of roses. What can I say? They seem so fussy, so lace-doily-and-porcelain-teacup. I'm a daisy-yarrow-sunflower person.....bright and simple. I don't want pinks and rose reds; I want in-your-face reds, blushing peaches and rival-the-sun oranges, regal purples, end-of-the-rainbow golds. However, the house's previous owners apparently loved roses. I dig 'em up, and they fight back every year, thorny stalks taunting me, but this year there are actually flowers. They have no scent, but I'll admit they're pretty, like a Victorian settee....not inviting, but a glimpse through the keyhole (as my friend from Greece says) into a time past. I'll still be digging them up yet again, but maybe it can wait until they're done blooming.
Another weekend has come and gone. Saturday I took a great Country Wool class, the first session of Beast to Beret (aka Spin to Knit). We washed, dyed and carded fleece, under Claudia's careful and carefree tutelage, in preparation for spinning and eventually knitting with it. There's something deeply, organically satisfying about being so literally hands-on from start to finish, starting with a grubby beige fleece and ending with brilliant blue-green roving (with the potential to one day be a beret) that feels akin to alchemy, metamorphosis--and metaphorical, to boot. That said, pondering the mermaid-undersea-colored fleece drying outside yesterday, I realized that when time is so rare and precious a commodity, one has to choose carefully how and when to spend it. If one is having a passionate love affair, which is the more appealing use of those stolen moments--cleaning the bathroom or taking a long, hot, candlelit bubblebath for two? Gratitude to Goo Goo, the Cormo cross who shared fleece with me--and Claudia who shared her seemingly limitless knowledge--aside, I'd rather--for now--savor the yarns we're spinning together (and the tales they make) in a sunset-bathed room, fondle and caress each other as scarves and blankets and sweaters take shape. Someday, when time is more ally than foe, I'll linger lovingly over wet fleece and dye baths, but for now I'll take my passion a little closer to ready-made, thank you!  So I'm opting to skip the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Fair, but looking forward to class one of the Percentage Knitting class later this week; by the end of Summer I'll have knit a whole sweater!  This is one of those looonnnggg weeks of 11 hour work days, but I have a four-day weekend beginning Friday--yay!!!!  Tomato planting, here I come!
Yesterday was my 49th birthday. I have always been a celebrant of birthdays; I believe in never going to work on your birthday, making it a day (or as one friend and her partner do, making it an entire week) of indulgence. And age has never troubled me. Age happens. But this year for unknown reasons, I had virtually no interest. My sister called it an anti-birthday, but it was a more appropriately a non-birthday. Cooked much of the morning, did household chores, and was mostly kind of depressed. I requested that it be a no-present day, but my beloved did surprise me with amazingly rich, sweet-with-a-hint-of-tang Dark Chocolate Chevre brownies from the Vermont Brownie Company (a drawing of a smiling sheep serves as their logo!), and I even got her to dance with me for a moment or two out on the porch after a crabcake dinner. But I just wasn't feeling the day.  Could it be 50 staring me down now?  Am I finally succumbing to a fear of age?  Or is it 'just' that the constant battle with time is suddenly feeling personal and becoming hand-to-hand combat?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Been Thinking....

Friday is--or would be--my mother's 69th birthday, the fifth May 21st to pass by since she died. She would have been appalled at being so close to 70 (usually we say 'beats the alternative' but she's in a far better position to know how true that is), and would still be dyeing her hair, I suspect, determined to keep up the fight against time, or at least pull the wool over its relentless eyes. I can't remember the last birthday we spent together, and the unvarnished truth is that birthdays and holidays--especially Mothers' Day--were quagmires, quicksand traps, with virtually no potential for a feel-good outcome. So while I don't miss her any more on her birthday, or mine, I do still have deep moments of sadness and loss. More than any other single thing, I miss Sunday mornings...for most of her last three years, on Sunday mornings I would curl up on my people-eating couch, coffee scenting the room and warming my hands, and call her. We might talk for 15 minutes or two hours, about the kids, Linda, the weather, the festival, Mom's dog Brinn, relatives, her friends, work, books, movies, the love of her life that she couldn't bring herself to claim, and so on and on. Occasionally we argued (although she eventually came around, my early anti-war endeavors were met with disdain and anger, and it took her many years to get that Bush was not exactly one of the good guys). Occasionally the past lay heavy between us, a minefield to ever-so-gingerly pick our way through, lest one misstep set off a landmine and blow apart the fragile peace and relationship we'd built. Regardless of the weight of the past, those calls never felt like an obligation, and Sundays hurt for many months after the calls ended, before she day, almost like a flipped switch, cancer took away all that made her who she was, and so I began grieving before she ever left.  And I will wish, until I shuffle off this mortal coil, that I had beaten back my own fears and issues, and spent a few Sundays with her--in the flesh-- before she died, even though she probably wouldn't have known I was there.
Five + years later, I like to imagine she'd love this blog, enjoy hearing about the life my love and I are creating, would be tickled by Linda's new found bee love and my own wooly love affair, hungry for ever more news about the awesome men her grandsons have become. And five + years later, I still occasionally find myself wanting to pick up the phone and hear her voice on the other end, and grieving all over again.

Monday, May 17, 2010

She's In Love

Linda, that's her photo-narrative of the beginning of her bee adventure ....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Bees Have Landed

Linda is now officially a beekeeper, and too damn cute, if you (and she) will pardon me saying so.  I had to convince her not to go up in the dark last night to peek at 'the girls', as beekeepers refer to 'their' bees.  I took some (long-distance) photos this morning as she tended to her second-day beekeeper duties, and will post them in a day or two. 
In other 'news', the bobwhite has been seen yet again, we had our first hummingbird sighting of the year yesterday and so have hung two feeders, and two house wrens have decided we're done using the pellet stove for the season and are--as I write--building a nest in the stovepipe. We have gloriously ecstatic clematis turning heads over by the grape arbor.  And finally, the Joy spinning wheel and I experienced a failure to communicate; she has been returned to her home and a rented Ashford Traveller has taken up temporary residence.  We had a slow start but spent some meaningful time together yesterday getting to know each other, and by day's end, I think we were both pleased with the beginning of our relationship.  She's a sweet thing, and it was longing at first sight.  I'm trying to take it slow, but my suspicion is that a Traveller will be putting down roots in our home before the year ends. 
Is it really already Sunday evening?  Really?  Sigh.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

She's Back!

Linda was able to take this shot this morning:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Farmer Says....

Remember See 'n Say toys from decades ago?  They were nifty round things with a carrying handle, pictures circled around its face, and a big arrow in the center; when you pointed the arrow at a picture and pulled the string the toy would talk to you.  Probably the most popular was Farmer would point the arrow at a picture of a farm animal, pull the string, and the toy would tell you the name of the animal and make the corresponding utterance. "The farmer says 'cow'...moooooooo". You get the picture.  They had an alternately poignant and amusing commercial that showed a group of city kids at a farmyard, leaning over the fence, pointing at the sheep and yelling "hello doggie!!!", and the commercial hailed The Farmer Says as an invaluable learning tool for misguided, citified children who don't know hamburgers once mooed.
Well, we just had one of those moments.  As Linda and I snuggled on the couch watching a movie while some daylight still remained, movement outside the window caught my eye.  An odd looking bird was bobbing (aha--literary foreshadowing!) along in the weeds.  I went outside to get a closer look, baffled.  The neighbors' chickens had been out wandering and dining when I came home from work, so we thought perhaps a young one had wandered off.  Upon closer examination, I was less inclined to think so....but (sorry Linda, under the bus you go) Linda was pretty insistent it was a young chicken.  I will admit I didn't take much persuading; it had what looked like the start of a comb on its head, did the whole pecking thing, and fluttered alot but didn't fly.  Linda tried herding it towards the neighbors' house while I stood in the road to stop any cars coming by, but it couldn't be convinced to go home.  I came inside to call the neighbors to rescue their sad, lost fowl, and just for the heck of it, grabbed the bird book while their phone rang, and began flipping to 'quails'.  The conversation kind of went like this: "Hi!  Sorry to bother you; this is Ashling from across the street.  Are you missing a chicken?  A young one, not a chick but not an adult?"  He replied, "I don't think so....", and before he could say anything else I blurted out "Bobwhite!  I think it's a bobwhite!!!"  (bobbing....bobwhite....clever how I did that, huh?).  Bless his heart for not only not laughing at me, but confirming they had seen a bobwhite in their yard last year, and then asking if we needed more eggs (which they so generously share).  Alas, the bobwhite bobbled (there it is again!) along under the hostas beside the garage, and we didn't get a picture of her, but all I could hear in my head was "hello doggie!".

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Know what is tucked away in the living room as we speak, enticing curves beckoning me?  A spinning wheel, rented from Country Wool.  She's a tiny thing, an Ashford Joy, very different from my first (her big sister Elizabeth), but sweet.  We're still becoming acquainted; the first night got off to a faltering, stuttering start but there were a couple of moments when we clicked and magic happened.  Okay, brief moments, but magical nonetheless.  I'm looking forward to getting to know her better, seeing what we can spin between us....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Long Way Home

When we first moved up here, a trip to Kingston was a "hitch up the wagon, maw...we're goin' to town" kind of deal.  One never knew what we'd bring home: produce and smoked mozzarella from Adams, a carved wooden chest from Home Goods, 80 lbs of cat litter, or all three on any given day.  Often it was nearly dark by the time all the stocking up was done, so we didn't always get to enjoy the breathtaking scenery on the trip home (when we were kids, on one of our yearly pilgrimages to some Southern shoreline, the endless drives--and endless bickering among the three of us crammed in the backseat--were punctuated every hundred miles or so by my father's snarling growl, "shut up and look at the scenery!"  Shockingly, this did NOT inspire any great awe in us for the also endless miles of fields and turnpike).  However, today's trip had one focus: get the items I was picking up for work and get home; this enabled me to bypass the Thruway and breathe deep the Catskill mountains as they snugged up against the outskirts of Saugerties.  The mountains change every day; this afternoon they were soft and green. They begged to be stroked, and I just knew all that lush green would feel like sun-warmed velvet against my palm, cooler where kissed by cloud shadows.  Their Spring-softened curves folded in on each other like the sweet dip in the small of a womon's back, and all I wanted to do was pull over somewhere and watch the sunlight and clouds pay homage to their grace.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Yeah, Not So Much

You know that whole "some days mowing is a privilege and a blessing" thing?  Today--NOT one of those days!