Tuesday, September 2, 2014


        The first moment I notice a spot of rain on my head, I go into denial. I don't do well with interruptions when I have set aside just so much time for an activity. My walk must get finished before the storm makes its way into the weather pattern for the late afternoon. I ignore the more frequent droplets landing randomly on my t-shirt;  instead, I play a mind game permitting the cooling mist to become a pleasurable sensation adding a new dimension to my sometimes mundane routine. I wonder why two of my neighbors drive right by me and wave without stopping to check if I want a ride? Perhaps, they know that I am tenacious. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor day

     On Labor Day I honor those who organized unions providing workers decent wages, hours and benefits. I appreciate union workers today. Their skills produce numerous items that I use, build and maintain our infrastructure and teach our children. 
     My hope is that third world countries with developing economies will treat workers with the dignity they deserve. May innocent children and women not be exploited by greedy employers.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dream dinner

      I am assembling ingredients for several complicated French dishes that I am serving tonight for important guests. The kitchen counter is piled with bowls and baking dishes. Several are filled, and others not. The list of steps necessary to have the table ready, the flowers arranged and the house cleaned is lengthy. It is posted on the refrigerator door. I am falling back asleep. What a lovely dream.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The old oak tree

     Legend claims that the giant oak tree has special powers left from the era of Shinnecock Indians inhabiting Long Island. The tree is deep in the woods, and from the pictures that I have seen, it displays initials carved into its trunk like graffiti ruining nature's composition. That makes me sad.
     I want to see for myself what other generations have passed along through their stories. Supposedly, the bark’s healing powers touch those who reach out and claim a love of the earth. My mother told me that when she was growing up young couples hiked to the tree pledging their fidelity before the guys went off to war. Others share their ambitions with the listening oak, and the tree cherishes each one for eternity. Certainly, the tree encounters abundant sorrow and guilt, too, leaving it weary throughout the harsh winters. 
     My friend and I ventured into the woods with a compass and backpacks loaded with every possible item to see us through. I suppose we thought this hike would take hours, and being budding Girl Scouts, we came prepared for a day in the forest. We were going to sketch and take notes before writing up an article for the local newspaper. (Mind you, we were not more than eleven or twelve, and we were overly confident about our importance as reporters.)

      It didn’t take all but five minutes on the well-worn path to find the tree standing there solemnly greeting new visitors. "This is it?" I exclaimed. I walked around the tree fingering various human carvings, and when looked up I caught  a tiny ray of sun smiling through the leaves as if answering me, "Yes, this is it."
     As I stood still a unique aura came over the spot. It didn’t seem necessary to take a picture. Words did not flow into my notebook, nor did they later that day when I was comfortably in my bed, until this very morning, years and years after my visit. 
     Certain experiences hold onto you for ages, and out of the clear blue, they skae free landing on paper miraculously with their own way of passing the story along. 
     The oak tree still stands I am told, although it is invaded on all sides by mega-mansions overlooking Long Island Sound. I wonder if children take time from their cellphones and video games to glance back into the history right around them?
     My secret is guarded deep within the soul of the tree, and neither of us will ever tell.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A kitchen observation

     Under the layers of caked-on grease, the skillet is clean. The two scrambled eggs are cooked to perfection and leave only a few remains in the pan. There is no point in any further seasoning. Certain things are better with age.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A button

     My blouse has lost a button. I have a bowl filled with assorted buttons. These are extras that come with new articles of clothing. I sort through the colored and ornamental buttons searching for a tiny white plastic one —  a fourth of an inch, if that large. My hands come up empty except for a couple lingering pieces of thread on my fingers. There is no point of saving buttons faithfully for when the need arises. It’s a throwback to my parents’ era when upon cleaning out their possessions of a lifetime I found boxes of paper clips and scraps of mismatched paper. The blouse is old and seen its day. The button collection can go to charity to be repurposed along with the blouse.

Thursday, August 21, 2014



     A bad habit of mine is standing at the kitchen sink eating lunch like I am punching a time clock. I had one-half hour for lunch at school. I usually have a cup of Greek yogurt with fruit. Sometimes I splurge and have a cracker spread with hummus. I keep it simple. I am intent on taking a nap and reading my book. That’s the whole purpose of rushing through lunch.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Red in tempo

     The very first car I owned was a red Chevy Impala. I never bought a Chevrolet again. I never chose that color again. It was a flash in the pan decision celebrating my college graduation, and the salesman talked me into it before I knew it. I drove the life out of that Chevy Impala, and for that youthful period, it ended up serving me well with only one speeding ticket restraining my joy of flooring it in sixty seconds.
     I like fresh red cherries. The thought of pitting them makes me hesitate at the store and consider my decision, but only for a moment. My fingers remain sticky and stained while I indulge and linger with the sweetness of the fruit in my mouth. I never regret buying a pound.
    My friend’s neighbor went through a red light and totaled her car. She wasn’t focused on her driving, and in a split second, she nearly died. Luckily, she has recovered, but it has slowed down her pace of living immensely.
     It is hard to get timing right in life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This problem gets solved

       It could be that summer is coming to an end sooner than later, and my brain is overheated. I’ll use that as my excuse.
      My column deadline is getting closer and closer, and I can’t settle on any topic to write about that is fresh and exciting.
     If you are a regular reader, you know that I keep a stockpile for this very reason giving me the freedom to go on about life worry free. (Insert laugh here.)
     I read over every potential column and not a one is right for this week. Although you might beg to differ, I don’t want to take it out on you, reader.
     There is absolutely no sympathy from my husband when I whine about my dilemma. Back to my office.
     Considering that nasty weather has poured buckets of rain these past couple weeks, I am obliged to write a thoughtful column — not too cheery, but appropriate.
     You can’t make light of road washouts and rising creeks that are not far from your own house. Frankly, the thought of wet basements for tons of friends in the area humbles me, not to mention the foundation of one older home weakened so badly that the place must be torn down. The organic farmer down the road is attempting to replant his fields once again betting on a string of decent days for a late crop. 
     I’ve been there and done that with flooded basements, and not only is it time consuming and costly, there is the emotional impact, too. Nowadays I appreciate living on the top of a hill.
     Join me in giving a shout out to our volunteer fire departments and their willingness to pump out basements twenty-four seven.
    Let’s not forget our utility workers and our highway crews who do their share keeping us safe.
     The trusty sump pump is essential for living through storms. You listen day and night for it to kick in. And the backup pump to the regular one is another prudent measure for peace of mind. Once my daughter’s pet hamster escaped from his cage and drowned in the sump pump. It was on a clear day, though. Explain that one to a preschooler.
     Originally, I started writing a column about coincidences. I thought it could be a conversation starter. It’s a common occurrence. You know what I mean exactly. If you go on a trip, or move from home, it is guaranteed that you meet someone that lives near you, or has a relative close by.
     I actually look forward to discovering what new person will come my way and how we are connected. Or I take a trip down memory lane and a person from the past appears. It’s fun if you are not running away from anything, and want to let things go.
     I’ll share my tale from the British Isles this summer. After a couple days of meeting and greeting fellow travel mates, I began a conversation with a couple from the Boston area. Naturally, they wanted to know where I lived, and I gave my general answer – the Rochester area.
     The husband asked me if I had heard of a town called Geneseo?  I laughed. Apparently, they have a cousin living in Geneseo, and I went on to tell them about my column in the County News. I know. I know. I promote myself everywhere. It turns out that the relative’s name sounded familiar to me, and she reads my column according to her cousin that checked with her.
     Somehow I couldn’t make the topic sustain longer, and even the example I used wasn’t as clever as others, which I no longer remember. I asked other people about their stories. They were telling me such fascinating ones, that I quit writing. There was no point in squeezing out pointless sentences just to fill space.
     I have to come up with a new plan of attack. The clock is ticking.
     I overhear a conversation in the post office — I’m good at that for gathering new ideas — and it gets me thinking about list keepers.
     For example, I know someone you would call a monster list keeper. She has subheadings and sub-sub headings like a grid she is preparing for a NASA space launch. Whether or not she systemically accomplishes the list is up for grabs. I sure hope so for the sake of the others that live with her.
     My lists used to be kept in prominent places on my desk. Lately I keep them on my iPhone with a handy app. I feel less guilty without the list staring at me crying out for me to stay on top of the day.
     Now don’t get me wrong. Lists are good. Working people need them. Kids are more organized growing up with them. I hate going to the grocery store having forgotten my list. I go up and down the aisles dazed and nothing triggers my memory. My cart is filled with extra items as the result, and the supermarket thanks me gratefully.
     Last week I dropped my list on the floor at the store, and an understanding woman came up to me handing it over like it was a valuable document I should treat with better respect.
     Low and behold, I have rambled on and on like wringing out the last droplet from a soggy dishrag. See how it all works out?    
     My husband grins and says, “I told you.”      



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My best friend

     Blessed are those who can please themselves.  -South African proverb

     In other words, I am my own best company, a self-help uplifting thought, is a excellent approach to life at any age.
     Community and family remain within the circle that is critical to functioning well.  You need others. They make you a more empathetic human being as you engage together creating a better place in the world.
     Practice liking yourself and learning how to be attentive to the subleties surrounding you. It's a lesson that doesn't come easily to everyone.
     Once I sat for over an hour watching the sun come up through my living room window. The light shifted across the room and brightened any object it hit bringing it into better focus. How much dust had accumulated on the bookshelf could have stopped my whole experiment. I let it go and mentally thanked the road crew for working on the highway all summer bringing it back into shape for the winter ahead.  When I left my chair I was glowing inside and out from experiencing a slow moving awakening of a fresh morning. Never once during that hour did I think about all the chores, activities and phone calls I had to do. Instead, I thought about nothing whatsoever. Later in the day I felt a bounce in my step, a bit more energy and a bushel of optimism. Sure I had concerns for others, situations to get under control and more on my plate than was absolutely necessary. My attitude was positive, and I had stirred the flame of boldness within me. I kept my thoughts to myself, my own best friend.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Assembly required

     The process puts you in touch with the organizational side of your brain. 

Assembling toys on Christmas Eve. Assembling a new camper for its maiden voyage. Assembling a new husband for the long haul of a marriage. Assembling a new computer. Assembling a wardrobe. Assembling an entertainment center. Assembling a sewing kit. Assembling a group of people to engage in conversation or debate. Assembling legislators. Assembling an online address book. Assembling  construction bids. Assembling moths for mating purposes. Assembling military troops. Assembling parts of a Lego set. Assembling ingredients for a tiered cake.



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Throwing my feet up

     A good wine is like floating on a euphoric water raft riding the happiest wave in the entire universe. For a short spell I am suspended from the craziness of daft, hateful people and illogical ideas depressing all of humanity before I crash to shore ever so gently with a renewed attitude. How corny is it to be dancing with the stars right from my comfortable red sofa holding a glass of Pinot Gris tipped to the possibilities of peace on earth? It's worth a try.