Monday, March 2, 2015

Letchworth State Park: you outdid yourself this winter

Letchworth State Park, you invited us to be your guests and you dressed for the occasion in your best winter finery. Thank you. We were not disappointed one bit.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Making history

The falls at Letchworth State Park snuggle deeply into its oversized winter cloak guarded by a speckled Gray morph Eastern Screech Owl slightly visible from its silver maple tree hole overlooking the gorge. Many visitors walk to and from their cars chatting away on trivial matters never noticing they are being watched, nor appreciating the stillness except for the sound of two minor cascades of water dropping below. 
I am witnessing history recorded live in the annals of the park, and for me, honoring this once-in-a lifetime event. 
A bone-chilling cold flowing through my body evaporates into a warm sensation as my eyes focus on the purity and brightness of nature's display.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A powerful word shares multiple meanings

     “You’ve been hacked.” Three little words can turn your world upside down. Suddenly an extra time-consuming burden falls on your shoulders.
      Just when you think you have passwords secured and firewalls in place, misery lifts up its ugly head.
     I had my credit card hacked on Cyber Monday. Pitiful isn’t it that I would even think of online shopping on such a day when the Internet predators are stalking in full force?
     All I was doing was purchasing a pair of boots in preparation for snow, and with a blink of an eye, a blizzard came out of nowhere from China.  
     Fortunately, my bank was right on top of it and had their routine down pat. I was talked through the process calmly from a person on the phone trained to offer a teaspoon of sympathy to hysterical customers, and I gave her an A rating on the follow-up survey.
     What stings the most is the loss of my personal privacy, although I shouldn’t be surprised at what information is out there.

     To this day I am still getting credit card information stored on various websites integrated with my new card.
      If only vitamin C and Echinacea would work preventing my online accounts from being invaded like it does building up my immunity.
     I have heard tales of people taking a year or two getting a bank account functioning properly. I hope you’re not one of those folks.
     You can never sympathize with someone else until it has happened to you. I promise to listen more attentively when a rational human being turns into a raving maniac who needs to share every single detail of his ordeal — the woes of the worst history case of hacking since credit cards were invented.
     The story gets grander at each telling, too, with additional whining for effect from the drama queen or king during his fifteen minutes of fame.
     The bank that I am dealing with terms it ever so politely —  “your account has been compromised.”  It’s useless ranting and raving.  I have to follow the procedures that are outlined for me, even though I want to cut to the quick and make everything right — like it was yesterday when I fell asleep.
     What a huge difference from the pleasurable excitement of the late 80’s statement: “You’ve got mail.”  
     I loved the movie with Tom Hanks and perky Meg Ryan. My then AOL account was bringing me news quicker than waiting for the postal person. Dating online was introduced to a whole new generation, too, and I fell right in with the hype.
    Hacked is not a new word in the dictionary, and I when I looked it up, there are a variety of meanings depending upon the subject matter.

     For example, every time I had a respiratory problem growing up, I would end up with a “hacking” cough. Yucky cough medicine along with a warm cloth of Vicks Vapo Rub around my neck would be what the doctor ordered. How that dry, deep cough would hurt my entire body making school an afterthought.
      Today, in a public place I steer away from hacking cough sounds knowing that germs are waiting to conquer someone somewhere whose defenses are down – please, not mine.      
     Airplane trips are the worst, and this week on a quick flight I heard a chorus of coughs floating up and down the aisle in mad counterpoint like the brisk tempo of an orchestral allegro movement layered upon a second theme.
      A familiar person is no longer at the cash register when I go to the supermarket. I hear rumors that she can no longer “hack it.” I guess the pressure became too great and the part–time job was not worth the effort. If she were to elaborate, she would explain that rude and demanding customers are hard to put up and keep a smile on your face, too.
     All writers’ fret that they can’t “hack it,” especially in the print media world, which is fast paced and geared towards a younger generation of readers. If they are indeed producing dull, unoriginal work, the term suits them.
     My mother would come back from the fish market on the dock and think nothing of “hacking” off the head of the bluefish with her trusty kitchen meat cleaver.

     She would go out to the backyard, take a wide board from the garage and put it between two sawhorses. Rolling away the thick tan butcher paper from the fish, she would prepare her workstation. She let her frustrations out lopping off fish heads splattering juice and flying scales within three feet. (Mom was big into fish chowders.)
    We kids laughed our heads off, too, watching her, and frankly, we were relieved that she wasn’t mad at any one of us right then.  
     It wouldn’t surprise you that on those nights I was involved in vicious fish head murders while running from the hacking hands of sundry characters waving cleavers wildly in the air, one being my eight-grade math teacher.
     Thumbing through the dictionary, hack is a term in masonry and politics. When a player in a game inflicts a kick or hit on another player, it is called a hack. Or a horse rented out for riding, an inferior or worn-out horse and an ordinary riding horse is a hack.
     I’m spending the rest of the day hacking around idly with no definite plan.


Monday, February 23, 2015

The "new normal" winter

I. am. so. cold.
The "new normal" for the winter
I. am. so. told.
Reporters out of  headlines
Nothing I've read
Could beat mine.
CHILL OUT, I said.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Snow day, slow down day

-7.4 degrees. Seriously.

The weatherman is accurate with the frigid subzero temperature and wind chill factor. Everything has ground to a halt, and being a Sunday, there is a different set of cancellations on the docket.

For an outdoor person such as myself, being forced to stay indoors requires slowing down and considering what could, or could not get accomplished within the four walls. I am going to live it differently today though, and move a little more at a snail's pace, contemplate and seek enjoyment without any negativism about the brutal Northeast weather situation. I'm off to a good start still in my fleece pajamas and hands wrapped around a hot cup of lemon tea.

Actually, last week I started a sorting and decluttering phase along with the light of the full snow moon, and it was my natural rthymic cycle of preparing for spring. How optimistic am I?

My advice to you is carve out a day that brings meaning to you and those in your life. Will it be a special pot of soup simmering on the stove all afternoon permeating the house with wonderful aromas? Or phone calls to friends and family in far away places? What about that book that never gets finished and is long overdue at the library?

Be brave. Stay warm. Slow down.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Random thoughs on love

      February is as fine a month as any for getting teary-eyed about love. One entire day – Valentine’s Day – is devoted to all things romantic and dulls the bleakness from the remaining winter weeks now that the Super Bowl hoopla is over and Mr. Phil has made his shadowy prediction.
      Card companies, florists and candy makers have at it, and may our hearts flutter at the extra attention. Bring on the chocolate. Inflate the balloons. I wouldn’t think of robbing you of business opportunities while the snow season is fizzling out and spring is around a distant corner or two.

     All things handmade are most welcome, too, and worth the personal touch. It’s the thought that counts.
      “Love you to pieces” is a phrase I use constantly throughout the year like a child’s toy top rotating in circles until it slows down, briefly wobbles in the other direction and rolls over to a complete stop. Definitely overkill.
     As a matter of fact, I close online correspondence to friends and family with it — henceforth in this writing “it” is how I will refer to “love you to pieces.” I say it as a term of endearment, and without discretion to any and all people that I care for in life.
    If I must say so, it is one of those statements like “lots of love” and #foreverloved that is well worn without a whole lot of personalized thought going into it unless you share it wisely.

     One afternoon I dropped to the couch completely flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe that I used it to compliment the UPS driver for his delivery during an ice storm. Is that necessary? After all, he is performing his job well and a generic word or two of appreciation would be fine I am quite certain. Just because I felt a little guilty that just this one time my driveway hadn’t been plowed, I doubt that it bothered him one bit mushing through the drifts.
     Granted I do know my UPS driver very well since he has been the regular on my route for years, and when my doorbell rings around dinnertime, I am quite certain it is his friendly face. I love that idea to pieces, too.  

      That is right after I say it to the carpet service cleaning man who freshens my house for another year of living with a pet and his sensitive stomach. I am so grateful that I am beside myself. There is nothing like the finishing touch of a professional for beginning the year with the house in order.
     Neither the UPS driver nor the carpet cleaner bat an eye, and apparently, they are pleased with my goodwill. They must get their share of yelling and complaining customers on a daily basis, and someone being kind is welcomed.
     Earlier in the day I told my husband that “I love you to pieces” for remembering to pick up the dry cleaning without being asked. Perhaps this is a case where it is appropriate language for a loved one. It keeps us giving in a positive way like a gift of a plant – providing I can keep it alive.
     My gardening friend, whose column you will find in the second section of the newspaper, advises that talking directly with plants and flowers does worlds of good as much as using fertilizer regularly. If that includes loving words, then I won’t hold back.

     The meaning of the phrase really makes no sense. Do I love you because you are a mess and in shambles? Do I love you so much that I embrace every single part of your lovely nature?
      I went online to check out if a song has the title or words in the lyrics, and sure enough, I found a song, “Love You to Pieces.”
     “So ready or not I'm gonna love you to pieces
     The only way that I know how
     I've got a hunch that you just want to leave me
     I'm gonna love you till you burst.”
     Jerry Messersmith recorded the song in his second album, “The Silver City” back in 2008.

     I’ll admit that I’ve never heard the song, and the singer has no name recognition. I listen on iTunes to a dreamy song by Messersmith, a popular indie rock singer, who appeared on the Letterman show last summer.
     Unfortunately, the tune has no sticking power, though, and I will never remember a single phrase, except you know which one. There is no past history for me, and often that is how I remember lyrics. “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” got me through a rough patch, and “Yellow Submarine” played daily while I was waiting for a job offer.
     There are many more artists that have also recorded versions of it. Again, there are no familiar names, and in fact, most of the groups have never been ones I’ve followed. That’s not so unusual, though. Each generation has its music.  

     It dawns on me that “I love you to pieces” is a phrase from the South where affectionate folks are demonstrative in words and hugs. Love is part of the cultural tradition along with iced tea, pecan pie, black-eyed peas and open arms. Don’t forget the biscuits and gravy.  
     Watch any re-run of the classic series, “Dallas” and “The Beverly Hill Billies” and it is oozing from mouths like syrup poured over a plate of pancakes hot off the griddle.

     #Love you all to pieces @kaywriter. Have a  #HappyValentine’sDay.    


A wintry postcard

Yesterday the entire natural world was coated in an icy layered cloth with a backdrop of dense fog. It was picture perfect from every angle, I remarked to myself, while I snow shoed my way down the narrow path along side the deep gully. 

There were distinct tracks of several deer from across the field, and of the fox that is wintering somewhere in our thicket reminding me that I am not the only one inhabiting the land. 

A crow shrieked sharply breaking the silence of my afternoon reverie, and I glanced up at the aged oak in acknowledgement, although the noise had frightened me momentarily. 

Not a human sound, nor snowmobile roar, interfered with the natural world's daily way of life. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Thoughts on dreaming

I hate to disappoint you. Absolutely nothing happened last night. No murder. No scary chases. No jumping off cliffs. Not even a salsa dance chance reunion with a couple of old favorite peeps.

When I woke up, I realized that it had been an uneventful sleep without a single particle of a dream remaining in my conscious mind. Those fantasies are in deep hiding and it’s too late to pull them out for examination.

Some folks say that they leave a notebook and pen on their nightstand, and the minute they have a dream, they wake up to record it all before it lets go forever.
That process doesn’t appeal to me. Forcing myself to wake in the night interrupts my sleeping pattern. A strong dream will remain in the morning enough for me to remember.

Best to wait for another night for adventures to surface. A lovely swirling waltz overlooking the Danube would be fine, please. Heck. I’ll take a trip to the grocery store on a reasonably co-operative camel.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lost and found

I lost my silver heart necklace. Perhaps, a better word would be, misplaced, and if I only could drop the thought from my mind, I would find it later. 

Not me.

 It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have two deadlines looming this morning.

Instead of writing, I went through my entire jewelry collection discovering pieces that I haven’t worn in ages, and reorganizing everything. Nice memories, but what a tool for procrastination.
The necklace showed up in a box underneath a second piece after three or four searches. Eyes can be deceiving and you see what you want to notice.

Yes. I did write the two articles, and all is right with my world for the moment.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Playing in the snow

I like to make giant designs in the snow with my snowshoes and imagine passengers in planes overhead commenting on the frolicking nature of a winter’s enthusiast. Playing in the snow isn’t just for kids.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

snow moon thoughts

Yesterday in the raw chill of twenty degrees the sun shone gloriously down on the earth. My snowshoes carved out a gigantic circle in the snow as if it were a peace sign. Look here world, it cried out. Change your ways. When the moon rose high above the tree line later in the semi-darkness, there were darker, deeper shadows in the crevices dancing all around the design of what I had left behind.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A morning's observation

After a night’s rest burrowed in the snowdrift near the woodshed, I rise while the air is silent and the remaining stars gradually conclude their evening vigil. The exposed bark and grass underfoot provides my early nourishment, and I linger a little longer than normal so close to a house. The entire time I am foraging, there are two round faces standing back from the picture window observing me respectfully, and there is no harm in that. A shadow appears at the cat door, and waits. It’s time to amble along across the road and beyond into the deeper woods. My senses are alert to a change in the weather.