The World

In a nearby hayfield, I could hear Daddy’s tractor making its distinctive “put-put-put” sound. I smiled. The machine always reminded me of my father. He was steady, dependable and had a comforting voice, too. The new baler being pulled through the field made noisy, unfamiliar clanks as it gathered and bound hay. I pictured the machine bouncing along behind the tractor, shuddering every so often as it kicked a bale powerfully through the air into the hay wagon.

The sun burned down from a clear, pale blue sky. Shimmers of heat radiated from the cement sidewalk and gravel driveway. I sank tiredly onto the cool, shaded grass under a row of trees. An open window broadcast music from Mom’s ever-playing radio in our farmhouse kitchen.

I liked several popular songs and looked forward to hearing them. That afternoon, Tom Jones enthusiastic, “What’s new Pussycat!” made me giggle. His voice seemed so comically exaggerated.

This summer found me midway between eighth grade graduation and the start of high school. Graduation was long enough in the past I didn’t think much about it anymore, while the exciting, scary start of high school with teachers and classmates I wouldn’t know, was far enough in the future that I wasn’t yet obsessing about it daily. Continue reading

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Green Dreams

Tonight, there would be a killing frost. I could feel it in my joints. I straightened up from digging carrots, leaned on the shovel and looked around the garden. The sun was nearing the western horizon in a clear sky. There were no clouds to blanket the earth with frost-defying warmth.

In the row next to the carrots was a poinsettia. Before nightfall I wanted to dig it out of the ground and take it into the house. As always when I looked at the plant, I marveled at how it had doubled in size over the last four months. Its leaves were beautiful; large, dark green and plentiful.

A tea rose bush next to the poinsettia caught my eye. Its leaves were still a glossy and healthy green. Red roses in various stages of blooming covered the bush. All that loveliness would be burned by the frost if I didn’t pick the flowers to be enjoyed indoors. Pulling a scissor from my pocket, I began to snip stems with buds and blossoms.

In the house later that evening, I filled a pint jar with water for the ten roses. Then I poured more potting soil into the oversized planter holding the poinsettia. Continue reading

Abandoned

I didn’t turn the light on in the entryway. Soft light escaping from the kitchen and office let me to see enough. Louie, the cat with can-opener-claws wanted in. In the shadows, I could see Jonah, my grumpy tabby cat’s white bib as she crept along the wall.

Thinking I wasn’t coming, Louie impatiently fastened his claws into the office window screen and pulled, further damaging the wires. I threw open the door and yelled, “Louie, you jerk, stop it!”

Snow was falling and cold wind whistled into the house as Louie dashed in. I jeered, “You big baby! I knew you wouldn’t want to be out long on a night light this!” Glancing back at fat Jonah’s dark shadow, I asked, “Well, I know you like being outside more than Louie. Here’s your chance.”

Jonah crouched down and fearfully ran towards the door as if expecting me to kick her. She skidded to a stop at the threshold. Seeing the snow and feeling the cold wind, she backed away. Keeping as far away from me as possible, she returned to the shadows. Continue reading

Winter Dormancy

Spread around Tammie on the living room carpet were the things I’d given her for Christmas and the craft supplies she had brought home for us to use. She looked up from her packing to exclaim, “Mom, we never made the suncatchers!”

I sat down on the sofa and said with a chuckle, “We didn’t do a lot of things that we had planned.” My daughter and I shook our heads and grinned ruefully at each other. This was a conversation we’d had before.

The lights on the Christmas tree glowed softly and the tinsel sparkled. Sunshine slanted into the room through the large west window. I wistfully commented, “I thought that this year with you being home for a full week, we’d find the time to do them. You know this happens every time you we visit one another. We plan activities, but never have enough time to do them all.”

Putting the suncatchers on the coffee table, Tammie admitted, “I guess we just plan too many things. Will you work on the suncatchers by yourself? I’ve noticed that you haven’t done any crafts all fall.”

I retorted indignantly, “I haven’t done any craft work all fall because I was busy putting the garden to bed for the winter, washing windows, cleaning the basement and making elderberry jelly!” My voice softened as I added, “January, February and March are the main months I do crafts because my garden is resting and it’s cold outside.”   Continue reading

Stupid but Loveable

Leaning back in my desk chair, I took a sip of hot tea and sighed with pleasure. Winter sunshine slanting through the window made my office glow. I faintly heard the peaceful Christmas music of Kenny G and Mannheim Steamroller coming from the dining room stereo. Smiling, I took another sip. I love listening to these instrumentals through mid-January and have joked that they are subliminally Christmas.

Winter-clad goldfinches were busily working over the seeds in the bird feeder outside the office window. Hungry chick-a-dees and nuthatches greedily gobbled from a bag of suet hung nearby. I occasionally heard their squabbling twitters through the window.

An angry meow followed by a low growl made me turn to look at the futon across the room. Shadow, my brainless black and white kitten was trying to capture and bite my older white and black cat Louie’s tail. Addressing the older cat, I sympathized, “That stupid baby just won’t leave you alone, will he?”

Louie gave me a long-suffering stare. He is a mighty adult feline, equipped with can-opener claws, yet all he does when Shadow irritates him is meow angrily and growl. He could easily turn the little jerk of a kitten into strips of rawhide and dried meat snacks, but he doesn’t. The only conclusion is that Louie finds Shadow to be stupid, but loveable. Continue reading

Scratch and Sniff

Seeing tears glittering in my daughter’s eyes, the nurse gently distracted her by sweetly pointing out, “I have some stickers for you.”

Niki’s eyes lit-up and the tears disappeared. No fuss, no worries, life was good! Forgetting her doctor’s office anxieties, she leaned over to examine the stickers the nurse held in the palm of her hand.

It has always amazed me how much my children loved getting stickers. I found they worked just as well for bribes as for rewards. Everyone seemed to be handing them out. My girls received them not just at the doctor’s office, but from the dentist, their teachers, the bank and at birthday parties.

By the time Niki was in grade school and Tammie was starting kindergarten, the types of stickers had multiplied. Plain pictures on a sticky-backed paper became passé. Stickers came out with textured surfaces. Some were padded plastic. My children especially loved the ones of the latest Disney movie princesses.

One day, as we were shopping with Grammie, Tammie received a rather plain-looking, slightly bumpy sticker of a pink-frosted cupcake with a cherry on its top. She proudly showed it to me saying, “Scratch it and then sniff it.”

Scraping my fingernail over the red cherry, I leaned down and sniffed. It smelled like a bowl of cherries! Grammie enjoyed looking at and sniffing Tammie’s latest sticker, too. Continue reading

Resolved

Today is the 9th of January. How many of you made New Year’s resolutions? Are you sticking to them, or have you tossed them aside already? At one time or another, we have all resolved at the start of a new year to lose weight, get into better shape, start going to bed earlier or increase the amount of our daily water intake. Not many of us stick to our resolutions Some quit after the first day, others after the first week. By the time the first month passes, most people have given up.

When my daughter Tammie was home for Christmas, she told me, “We’d have better luck sticking to our resolutions if we made them S.M.A.R.T.”

Are your New Year’s resolutions S.M.A.R.T this year?

S  You need to make your goal as specific as you can. Will you be the one doing it? What do you want to accomplish? Where are you going to do it? When do you want it done? How is it going to be done?

For example, it isn’t enough to say you want to get in better shape so you can participate in the 2019 Boston marathon. You need to make concrete plans like, “In January I will stop eating donuts for breakfast and candy bars before bedtime. In February I will begin walking around the block once a day. In March I will stop eating second helpings. In April I will quit smoking. In May I will begin training for the marathon.” Continue reading