Posts Tagged ‘family’

Some kids just like sticks.  Sticks to carry around, sticks to walk with, imaginary javelins, machetes, any number of THINGS that a child might need to be able to wield…

Sticks-CloseupMy walk to school was along paved streets and through reasonably-well-manicured patches of gardens, but still, I could find a stick when I wanted one to carry as I walked to school.  Sometimes I’d store favorite walking sticks in the scraggly boxwood shrub just at the edge of the local dentist’s office property. That as as close as you could get to school property; the bush grew right against the concrete berm which held the posts of the school’s chain-link fence.

At home, sticks were even more functional — my father used his real machete to trim branches from trees down into stakes for tomato plants, zucchini, eggplants, loofa squash [that never set fruit, but it was fun to keep trying]…. sugar snap peas, morning glories…. These sticks were much taller, and had sharpened points to enable them to be set deeply enough to hold the vines and trellises.  Local spiders were fond of these structures as well, and the neighbors knew that flashlights shining in our yard on a summer’s evening meant not that there were burglars, but that we were out watching webs being built and moths being caught.

Now the tables turn a bit — I have crabapple, oak, chokecherry, river birch, and maple trees that need pruning, and my parents didn’t take the stakes with them when they moved — so what you see above is a sampling of the stakes I brought them.  Granted, I may also need to bring them some decent dirt, too, but the gardening continues…


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I just harvested my first golden raspberries this weekend [they did not last long enough for pictures; Word and I devoured them right promptly], and there’s been some speculation about whether or not these are anything like the cloudberries my grandmother talked about gathering as a child in Norway. That’s not a question I can ask her anytime soon, and I have no absolute convictions about whether the departed can look across the veil to see what we’re up to here. BrightCloudEdgeBut if they could, I would hope that the Meadow looked welcoming; that they’d look past the overgrown hedges and be understanding about the incredible amount of rain that’s been making mowing impossible. HighSummerFlowersLook over this way: I’ve edged most of the perennial beds with bricks.  Look over there: the daylilies have started and the monarda is looking fine.  We’d like a patio over here, with space for a grill or firepit.  Maybe put a little pond over in this section, with a motorized spring to keep the bugs under control, and ceramic koi on clever little sticks… BrickEdgedBedsDragonflies dart here. Hummingbirds and hawkmoths know to stop by.  In the winter, the hop-pop birdies scratch around for all the aster seeds.  This year’s asters haven’t started yet, but I can see the buds starting to set…. These are the signals I send, to say ‘One of our kind lives here.’ ‘Times have changed, but not so much.”  “Hello!  I remember!” This is how I leave the light on, just in case….

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For behold:

20140419-181336.jpg. And also —


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There all kinds of customs that I never thought I’d be heir to. Oh, say, getting to use the word “fiancé”. 

We never expected to have a legal marriage or formal wedding ceremony, nor any of the registry business…and what would you put in a dyke trousseau, anyway?  A long-standing joke was that our housewarming/bridal gifts were all from Saturn [in the form of a hefty Target gift card that came with one of my vehicle purchases]. 

But as we set the Thanksgiving table for our family guests this year, there were plenty of formal items a woman might have expected to get as wedding presents: gold-rimmed china from my great grandmother [she ordered it piece by piece by subscription], silver from my great aunt [the untarnished, rarely used mate to the set my grandmother, her sister, used on a daily basis], serving dishes from both families, flatware from one apartment, carving knives from Word’s grandparents….

Wine [recommended by Purlewe and ElusiveS from their trip to France] gets poured into a motley set of glasses while Word and I sip gin and tonics from my grandfather’s engraved Old Fashioned glasses.  We eat, laugh, and discuss where the food came from, and the fun of deciding which recipes to prepare. 

Ordinary.  Wonderful.

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They were not large carrots. And I have already eaten two of them, chewing thoroughly; they taste like home.

That is not a figurative statement. The dirt, the sun, the water… The town I grew up in fed these carrots; the dirt I excavated in inexplicable childhood projects and the water I drank for most of my first 20 years went into these carrots.

Of course I’ve eaten fruit from that garden before: grapes, currants, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, peas… I don’t know why I hadn’t sensed Home in those so strongly — maybe I didn’t have the vocabulary, maybe I usually ate them at that location, not hundreds of miles away. Maybe root vegetables concentrate earthiness and location more than other produce. I could understand that.

Or maybe the little carrots I typically eat these days are such overbred little hydroponic sugar crunchies that homegrown carrots, however small, shout their truth very loudly.

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The custom of the day changes over time: 5 years of marching in the morning, followed by curlers and clothing changes, and heading over to Grandmother’s house with a slightly burnt tongue from the Bandparent’s hot chocolate and an evil-smelling corsage held together only by the netting around the blue-dyed mum…. 10 years or so of rushing home from one University or other, suffering from car-lag and wondering how all the semester’s projects were going to get wrapped in the few days remaining ….we won’t count how many years of student portfolios, reports, and home observations of holidays, all stacked and glowering in a corner while I tried to focus on being with family for a few hours….

Today we get in a car, drive over several rivers, and into the woods, and arrive at a house where the family has adopted me.  We will eat, make merry, talk about work (!), and maybe go looking for fossils.

I’m grateful for everything.  Blessings to you and yours, however far away, this holiday.

Ai Wei Wei’s Moon Gates: thick teak panels with successive cut-outs that show the phases of the Moon in light and shadow.

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Good morning!

I’m talking to my phone. There’s a certain amount of hilarity to that activity, because about 35 years ago, my grandfather had a reputation for using all clients [kinds] of strange gadgets and then expecting us to be impressed by this latest accomplishment. One afternoon, we got a telephone call during we couldn’t hear him very well, but he proudly announced that “I’m talking to the television!  I’m sitting in my chair, and I don’t have to get up to use the phone, because I can talk to you through the television!

And he was, really, talking to the television. There was some newfangled product that enables him to speak at his very large television stereo console and have the telephone system pick up the audio.  Actually, he was shouting at the television, but we played along, and eventually, this became a family meme, so that people would randomly announce “I’m talking to the coffee maker!”, “I’m talking to the fridge!”, “You won’t believe this but, I’m talking to the sink…”, “Live: from your lawnmower!”

It would be more accurate to say that right now I’m talking to my Dragon,  because that is the transcription system that I’m using. And it’s more fun to say that I am talking to a small Dragon, rather than to just an iPhone.


I haven’t used transcription in several years, partly because (and I know this is pathetic) I couldn’t get the battery case open on the expletive-deleted Parrot DX equipment. The phone arrangement works pretty nicely, and I don’t have to buy a $400 microphone system in addition to the already lovely price for the iPhone!

Now I get to practice my steady ‘news reader’ voice, and Word will again remind me that we should set up some excuse for my vocals to go onto other people’s voicemail machines.  I’m not as resonant as Carl Kasell or Ken Nordine, but I’ll accept the blandishments…

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