Monday, November 24, 2008

Grateful All The Same

Drear. According to Wiktionary, that is the obsolete form of the adjective, dreary. But, to me, leaving off the "y" makes it sound more dread. Dread and drear. And that is what the weather is like today--rain with temperatures in the 40s. My least favorite kind of weather. Unfortunate, because that is what winter is often like in Ohio. Oh well, we make up for it with spring, summer and fall.

John and I are in the homestretch of getting ourselves into the new house and out of the cabin, and it is going to involve some tricky logistics (so what else is new?). We will be juggling the following over Thanksgiving weekend: polyurethaning the staircase; driving to my sister's for the holiday; sanding, staining and polyurethaning the upstairs floors; winterizing the cabin (turning off water, flushing pipes, mouse-proofing, etc.); oh, and throwing all of our stuff into boxes and hauling it through the mud down to the new house where we will put it on the floor in said boxes and live out of those boxes until...until...we put it on folding tables for awhile. Sounds fun, huh? But, you know what? I'm still looking forward to it.

On her most recent visit, my three-year-old granddaughter Maria, walked out of the kitchen on a Sunday morning after two nights here in the cabin and said, "We need a couch." It is something that I have said more than once since moving in June. John and I browsed a furniture store the other night and the fact that we are that close to getting a couch again makes me all warm inside. When we do have it, I'm going to make Maria close her eyes, and I will carry her inside the house, stand her in front of the new couch and say, "Okay, you can open them!" And then I'm going to cuddle up with her on it and read some books. I can't wait.

But first, I've got some work to do. Obviously, posting could be light the next week or so.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. I'll close with some pictures of the sky last week before the Great Drear set in.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I've Been Tagged

The snow is still here in patches. I'm sick with a cold and had a migraine headache this morning. All of a sudden it isn't as dreamy living in this, rather drafty I now see, cabin! The "boys" did the nicest thing before they left today, though. They brought me up a pile of wood from the woodpile which happens to be down near the new house. (John is away for the week in sunny Arizona, so they felt sorry for me, I guess.) I think I gave one of them a fright this morning when he came to see if I had a D battery they could use for the ceiling fan they installed. I answered the door in full sick-bed regalia--robe, slippers, and my snot rag in hand. Hoo boy!

However...I've been "tagged" by Alice at Living the Rural Dream (and Fanciful Alice) and so I have something else to do but whine about being sick. I agree with Alice that tagging is a bit chain-mail-ish, but I've seen lots of other tag games ("ghosted" is a good one) and they're sort of fun. (And no one promises dire consequences if you don't pass it on!)

So--here are Six Things About Me (the basis of the tag). Read on, or click on outta here--you've been warned.

1) I love horses with an illogical fervor. I was one of those girls with horse pictures plastered on my bedroom wall, a collection of horse figurines, etc., etc. I even studied horsemanship for a year at Virginia Intermont College. How it has taken me so long to get a horse back into my life, I'm not quite sure. I hope that next summer we are ready to take the plunge and saddle ourselves (ha!) with the responsibility of owning a horse or two. I just want to breathe in their smell and look into their big sweet eyes and listen to them chew hay at this point in my life. No competing.

2) I have a mild case of Raynaud's disease. That's where your fingers and toes (or hands and feet if you've got it really bad) go white in the cold. The blood vessels shut down and circulation stops altogether. I run my hands under hot water, or stick them somewhere warm when it happens. Obviously, I'm thinking about it now that the weather has turned--ergh.

3) "I often make light of my chemical dependence on caffeine." That is the quote on a coffee mug that I purchased from The Onion store recently. I thought it was hysterical, because it's true.

4) Adding to the above, I love coffee houses. My favorite one in all the world so far is Stauf's Coffee Roasters in Columbus. I love that coffee shops are a place where you can go to be alone within a crowd of people. You can sit by yourself for hours and no one gives you a second look. Lots of other people are there doing the same thing. I also love having long conversations with people I care for in coffee shops. It is one thing about living in the city that I miss.

5) Even though I am a gregarious person, I need a lot of alone time. It has always been this way. I am happiest when these two sides of me are in balance. If the scales have to tip, I would prefer they go towards the being alone side.

6) When provided a choice of colors, I always go for the warm ones. Reds, golds, yellowy greens, toasty browns, and greeny blues if I have to choose a blue.

And now I will tag just one other person...Siobhan at Flying Solo--you're it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Aww, No It Didn't!

Yes it did! It snowed! I stepped outside early this morning to load up the car for a trip to Columbus and was met with this lovely sight (that's a falling snowflake blurring the upper left quadrant)...

Here it is out the upstairs bedroom window...

And here is the cabin looking, I think, like a cozy place to have around...
The snow was gone by the time I got to Columbus. But on my way home, I hit it again right outside Cambridge. There is a thick dusting over everything out here. It is pretty wet and slooshy, but so pretty. I hope it sticks around tomorrow so that I can look out from my warm cabin and dream. The first snow is always welcome by me. Come February, I'll have a different response, but for now...ahhhh.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Foto Friday

Time for some visual.

The moody skies...
The dying grasses...
The comical cats...
And the big oak tree, hanging on to its bronze leaves at the top of my favorite curve of land...

all seem to conspire for my delight.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Choose...Warmth

I returned from the city late last night to one very cold cabin and two very happy-to-see-me cats. I got the woodstove cranking and turned on an electric heater in the bedroom upstairs. It took a while, but the chill began to fall away and the cats began to purr. I had to set the alarm for a middle of the night re-loading of the woodstove. We got a small stove for the cabin when we bought the place six years ago. It won't hold hot coals overnight, meaning that you have to restart it in the morning with paper and kindling, unless you get up and keep the fire going in the middle of the night. It's not so bad...if you're just visiting. Living here is a different story of course.

The woodstove in the new house is a marvel. It's big and made of soapstone, polished to a sheen on the outside. Here is a picture of "The Mansfield" from the Hearthstone website:
Soapstone has different colors in it, similar to marble or quartz. Ours is mostly green with white and cream and black variations. The stove in the picture has a shiny brown frame, but we chose a matte black metal. The marvelous thing about soapstone is that it radiates heat for 24 hours after the fire goes out. The box of our new stove holds about three times what the little stove in the cabin holds, so no need for middle of the night stokings. And the fire really looks like that through the window--large and lovely with a slow, smooth flickering. The cats are going to love it.
We also have a few strategically placed electric baseboard heaters in the new house so that we can leave the place for several days if need be in the wintertime without freezing the pipes and/or cats. It is a nice set-up.
I bragged to my son, Jack, that I had an apartment in my college days that was so cold in the wintertime that I actually saw my breath for about a week during a particularly brutal cold snap. I asked him the other day if he had turned on his heat yet. "No way! I'm not doing it until I see my breath." I hadn't meant to throw down a gauntlet, but apparently that's what I did. Well, he can tough it out all he wants. I'm going to stay nice and cozy, thank you. Me and the Mansfield--best friends forever!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Got Mice?

We've got them. In droves. They tend to live at the edges of the cabin in the summer, but they really burrow in when winter hits. When I'm home alone doing something quiet, I hear them gnawing away at the walls, in the closet under the stairs, underneath the kitchen sink. They leave their little tell-tale poops around the cat food dish (the nerve!) and will chew into bread bags, or even this summer, ripe peaches if left out on the counter. It makes one a better housekeeper, in an inverted way, having mice.

The wasps and the ladybugs that aren't true ladybugs, but an invader from Japan, and houseflies are also coming in from the cold. They don't last as long as the mice. I've been stung by more than one wasp wobbling across the dark floorboards, wondering where it has got to. I crush them on sight with the heel of a shoe. I have to repent their deaths everytime I bow my head at the end of yoga practice and say, "Namaste." (hypocrite!)

I found a poem this summer by Marge Piercy in her book, My Mother's Body. I find myself thinking of it everytime I get all high and mighty about extermination. The poem is called "Cowering in a corner." In it, she chronicles all the spiders she sees in her house and wonders, "What do they eat?" After denying that it is the mice, ants, wasps, etc., she concludes that it must be "the other/nine hundred thousand inhabitants of what/I foolishly call my house."

Mmm, hmm.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

For Sue

For those of you who knew her, Sue Menkedick lost her six year battle with cancer on November 1--my sweet sister-in-law, the wife of John's brother Bill, the mother of my niece Kerry, the grandmother of Annalise and Ben. I miss her. She was a funny, warm person with a generous nature. I always enjoyed seeing her when our families got together. We would compare notes on our kids and grandkids, admire each other's house and outfits, and compliment each other on whatever recipe was on the table. Simple things, some might say surface things, but the current beneath the talk was always loving and accepting and supportive in a very female way. Sue and I were different in many ways, had different tastes in our decor and our clothes and our jewelry--the surface things in life. But we were very similar in that we wanted to be happy. We wanted to love our families and our life. We wanted to make a cozy home that we enjoyed being in, wanted to raise our kids to be good people, wanted to enjoy our grandchildren, wanted to remember always what was underneath the surface of everything we had and did in life. We saw that in one another and that's what we responded to and built a relationship on.

I had a conversation with Sue a few weeks before she died. We dropped the small talk and got down to what we really wanted to say for a few moments. We both agreed that everything that happens to us is supposed to be for a purpose, that it has a meaning, that we chose it somehow--even if all of that is indecipherable in the present moment. "Sometimes I wonder, what the heck was I thinking?" she said to me in response to this mystery. What kind of lesson was this that couldn't have been learned in another way? What kind of "gift" was this? And can we take it back? There are no answers to those questions, only the asking of them, and sitting with the feelings that arise when you give in to their mystery.

I can tell you one gift that I received from Sue's ordeal. It was the gift of being able to contemplate this mystery with her. To sit for a moment and feel the enormity of a life. To be able to tell her, "I'm going to miss you." She allowed me to do that. She honored me by letting me feel what is really important in life in her presence. I am not suggesting that the reason she died was so that I could have this gift, but I am saying that she gave me this gift as she was dying. And I will carry it with me always.

In the past, I have responded to death with pessimism about life. Why bother? None of this matters if we all die anyway. But Sue gave me a much richer and more mature response to death. She reminded me how lucky and blessed I am, and that I shouldn't take anything for granted. She reminded me to love my life because of death. Love my life even more. Live it as fully as I can possibly handle in as many moments as I can remember to. That is what I hear Sue telling me to do. That is what I will think of whenever I think of Sue.

I really do feel that she cavorts with angels. It seems to me that angels have that kind of energy--an energy that doesn't deny the problems of life, but responds to those problems with a deep and abiding sense of generosity and helpfulness and love.

She told John and me to enjoy our new home and that she would be keeping up with us, just from a different perspective. I believe her. And I am so grateful for her presence in my life.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Look What We Did

We applied a water-based polyurethane to the beautiful tongue & groove ash floorboards in the downstairs of our new house!

Looking this way:

Looking that way:

It is becoming real--this moving in thing. Counting down to about three, maybe four more weeks. I won't have kitchen cabinets right away, but at this point, I care not. Just want to get in there and start to feel what it is like to live in the place down the hill from my cabin.

Happy Monday, all.