Thursday, October 30, 2014

Evolution of Autumn

Remember these days?

We’re still on the front lines here with leaves.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Public Speaking

Today was a Costco day. I actually did need a few things, but a trip there is also a form of entertainment. (I’m easily amused.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

One of a Kind

Words for Wednesday is a writing prompt that can be found at

Under the Porchlight

This week's words are
necktie, utopian, spinster, plagiarism, automatic, devout

Louise adjusted her necktie in the reflection hanging on the ladies' room wall.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Surface Knowledge

When you grow up with something, you tend not to think too much about it. It's just there, like your family's weird fondness for peanut butter, lettuce, and mayonnaise sandwiches or my grandfather’s kindness and my uncle’s polio.

I can't remember a childhood summer that didn't involve water in some way. Mama would pack us up in the car and off we'd go almost every day to one Northern Virginia pool or another. Or even better, we might spend a few blissful weeks visiting the Connecticut aunts - Aunt Dotty at Uncas on Thames or Aunt Nell in Madison. Often my mother's brother, Uncle Sam, would be visiting. He and my mother were both excellent swimmers, with an effortless freestyle stroke, cutting through the water, arms rotating as regularly as a paddle wheel, heads rising for air.

There was a reason for their expertise.  Both of them had contracted polio when they were young.  My mother bore little evidence of it, aside from possibly shortened stature, but my uncle was - as they would have said in the 1930s - severely crippled. Swimming had been an important part of his therapy and as a result, they both became adept in the water.

As a child I gave no thought to Uncle Sam's appearance or how his much smaller left leg looked below his swimsuit when he was there on the beach with us.  I was just glad he was visiting - in spite of being single, he always brought my sister and me the best gifts.  Yes, he walked differently, his hips rotating with each step, the delayed swing of his weaker leg. But that was Uncle Sam. It was what made him who he was, just like the occasional ear-shattering shriek of my grandmother's hearing aid was a part of her.    

His was not an easy childhood; most of it was filled with painful operation after operation, followed by months in bed. He did become so proficient at knitting that as an adult he made all his own argyle socks, and I'm sure the hours spent reading were a factor in his becoming an English professor.

Like everything else I never questioned or thought too deeply about, his father was just my grandfather, the kind retired geologist poring over oil leases in his retirement, or the person who told me pixies really did live in the shade garden under the big magnolia. I gave no more thought to my grandfather’s inner life than I did to those pixies.

Before Uncle Sam died I said something to the effect that wasn’t it wonderful how determined his father must have been, trying to conquer this horrific disease with all those operations.

Uncle Sam just looked at me with a jaundiced eye.

That adult moment with my uncle suddenly made me wonder exactly who my grandfather did it for. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bituminous Bouquet

Maybe I should have married a garage mechanic. Aside from the obvious benefit of continuous car care, there would be the aroma of a man with petroleum in his system.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Give Me A . . . .

Words for Wednesday is a writing prompt that can be found at
Under the Porch Light

This week's words are:
inducted, plethora, insubordination, retribution, despair, museum

          A plethora of dust motes floated in the air surrounding TerryLee as she sat in the attic, her ham-like thighs blanketing the old trunk.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Art and Highway Whimsy

On Columbus Day we sailed over back roads to the Northampton Tri-County Fairgrounds and the fall show of Paradise City, a juried collection of beautiful things.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Comfort Zone

I've never thought of myself as being particularly adventurous. I'm a planner, a lover of order and predictability, a Virgo.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Back to the Farm

'Words for Wednesday' is a one a week writing prompt and you can find links to more at:

Under the Porchlight

This week's words are dashboard, atomic, sensationalism, inconsequential, nondenominational, and mayhem.

I'm a tad late, but the story below is my effort:

     The runabout was anything but as the carriage struggled through the new mud of New York’s spring streets, the dashboard the only barrier between Ambrose and the jetsam flung up from the horse’s hooves. For him, though, the muck was inconsequential. His mind was on more elevated matters, for he was on his way to a new beginning, Dr. Samuel Hickenstoop’s Christian and Missionary Bible College, a nondenominational institution that Ambrose was sure would be his salvation.
          He guided his horse around a persistent street vender, avoided two urchins who were trying to grab his horse’s bridle for no apparent reason – must maintain charitable thoughts! – and finally turned the corner of 6th and Broadway to find a scene of complete mayhem. The stately front of the college was awash in paddy wagons, Pinkerton agents and gawking onlookers.
          What mind, so small as to be atomic, could have found wrongdoing at such a worthy institution? To Ambrose’s knowledge, the Christian and Missionary Bible College had enjoyed a pristine reputation as a place of superior thought for as long as three years, not a lengthy period of time, perhaps, but enough to establish it as a serious place of learning. It was probably a sudden victim of the unwarranted sensationalism of the time’s yellow journalism, the honest reporting of facts distorted by the need to sell papers. Yes, Ambrose told himself, that was surely the cause and this was all a misunderstanding.
          The heavy oak door at the top of the marble steps opened and out poured a stream of humanity. Ambrose watched as women, obviously daughters of sin, with half- hooked dresses and exposed corsets erupted from the building, followed by men still buttoning their trousers. 
         The last figure through the door, head held high and elbow in the firm grip of a police officer, was Dr. Hickenstoop. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Change for the Better?

Boy, my friends are dropping like flies. Well, maybe that’s not the best metaphor for the fact that I’ve just had a second person I know move away for a retirement life elsewhere.
Last night was my monthly book club gathering. Or at least that’s what our small group of six calls it. In reality, we spend more time determining what we’re going to read next than we do discussing the actual book a month later. We all (to the most part – life can get in the way sometimes) faithfully read whatever that month’s choice is, bring our copy of it to that meeting’s living room, and place that copy next to us where it sits while we swill wine and solve the world’s problems. Our record for a sustained literary discussion is about fifteen minutes.
Yet, this gathering has its value. These are not all people I would see in the course of a typical week, and so I look forward to spending an evening with them. We are all of a certain age and share the common bond of having been educators. Also, the majority in the group have known each other since high school, and in some cases, earlier than that.
Last night had an underlying melancholy. This was to be the last time one of us would be there – she and her husband have sold their home of thirty-something years and are moving to a less expensive life in Florida – and the goodbyes were filled with finality.
As I drove home I thought about how most people connect change to the young: growing up, experiencing things for the first time, building families and careers. When we are young, if we are lucky, change is our friend.
The later part of life is regarded by the world as one of stasis; it sees elders as unchanging, sitting on the same couch in the same living room with the same opinions, interests, and lives.
In reality, those sixty and beyond see nothing but change. Incomes shift, our health fluctuates - we have so many adjustments to make. These changes aren’t necessarily all negative ones, but good or bad, the later part of our lives requires more flexibility of attitude and spirit than most people realize.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Thanks, but no thanks

Today’s mail brought with it yet one more unsolicited magazine. I’ve written before about the confounding number of magazines that arrive without my having signed up for them.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Travel, Feet and Toilets

      My recent travels through Northern Italy were memorable, delightful, and fattening – including as they did La Scala, Lake Como, Cinque Terra, gnocci, pasta, gelato, and bread, bread, bread.    Oh, and wine that flowed like water and olive oil that could make you weep with joy.