Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jill's Birthday

My 40 Words a Day blog is winding down...only 26 more entries to go! I can see it's time to pay some attention to Sweet Rocket. I'll need something to do when Forty Thieves is finished. :-)

It's the day after Christmas...Jill's birthday. She loved having her birthday on December 26. She said everyone else was finished with their gifts, and then she got more! We didn't have a lot of birthday parties for her, as it was hard to pry people out of their houses and often the weather wasn't the best. But I always summoned the energy to bake a birthday cake, and we all felt festive on her special day.

I went into labor Christmas night, 1975. I had fallen into bed, completely exhausted, at 10:00 p.m. after cooking a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding...and then eating it. And of course cleaning everything up. My baby was due January 7, so I figured it was okay to knock myself out as I'd have two weeks with nothing to do but sit and rock and wait. Wrong! My water broke at midnight.

My knees knocked. A blizzard raged outside. The hospital was an hour away. This was in the days before SUVs and 4x4's. My husband drove a big, rear-wheel-drive Cadillac. As always, I had the utmost confidence in his ability, and, as always, he came through for me. We made it to the hospital just fine, and Gillian Campbell Jaffer was born at 8:27 a.m. the day after Christmas. (Her sister, Suzanne, had been born at 8:27 p.m. on Labor Day.)

The doctor missed the delivery, which was okay. What was not so great was that he told me my labor had hours to go. This was not welcome news! He got a little short with me about it, and stalked off to perform surgery. Jill was born minutes later. Joe sat on the bed and I pushed her out into his hands. After her arms were free I caught her hands in mine and smiled at my crying baby, still half inside me. The nurse said, "Why don't you lift her out yourself?" She said I should just hold her under her arms and lift her out. So I did.

When the doctor came back, I was sitting up taking pictures of Joe and our new daughter. The doctor said, "I waited a long time for this generation of women." Joe said later that he thought this remark was said in apology for his curtness with me earlier. Perhaps. He was a good man, and offered family-centered, homelike birth experiences at a time when most other physicians were still practicing the knock-'em-out-and-drag-'em-out method of childbirth.

My baby. She grew up to have so much creativity and sensitivity, so much grace, so much humor. Her birth announcement was prophetic. I wrote, "The world's wolves, cats, butterflies, dogs, whales, rabbits, and squirrels announce the arrival of a new friend."

Happy Birthday in heaven, Jilly.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I've invented a new poetry form. It's called the Spaiku.

I should be writing
filling the blank screen with words
but instead I'm filling my TV screen with Desperate Housewives

SPAIKU: A poetic form in which the first line consists of five syllables, the second line seven, and the third line does whatever the hell it wants.From the Rumanian word spaik, which means (roughly translated) Hit me with another drink.

Here's my stepdaughter Nancy's:

You don't watch TV
the way the rest of us do
but instead you invent new poetry forms. Go Susie!

Okay, leave me a spaiku...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Come back at night. I've always liked the ideal climate proposed in Camelot, where it rains only between midnight and 8:00 a.m. Actually, I'd change it to 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. because this time of year I like to be out in the garden early in the morning.

The rain is coming down hard. It started yesterday morning, but it feels as though it's been pouring for days. I went to an engagement party yesterday. The hostess had a long tent set up outside, with tables and chairs underneath. Before I got there, the heavy rain collapsed the tent. So it was in indoor party—crowded, but nice. The porch was filled with open umbrellas in all colors.

The engaged couple are singers, and they sang "People Will Say We're in Love," from Oklahoma. For some reason that song is often in my head. I'll be vacuuming or whatever, and I'll just come out with it. I don't know why. Usually there's an obvious reason—almost always connected to the lyrics—why a song pops into my head. Even when it's not obvious, the process of figuring it out can be quite revealing and interesting. But this song? It makes no sense to me. Has someone stolen my hat and my glove? No. Is someone sighing and gazing at me? No. Am I gazing back? No. Are my eyes glowing? Hardly. Maybe the answer is something simple. Like maybe it's just in my key.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Slowing down, but not stagnating

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNew York City is under a "stagnation advisory" until 11:00 p.m. I don't know what that means, but it sounds most unpleasant. It has something to do with the weather. It's hot here in the country—90º as I write this—but as far as I can tell nothing is stagnating, not even me.

I got up earlier than I wanted to this morning in order to plant a rose (Sharifa Asma) before the sun got too high. Sharifa and the others I planted this week are covered with white laundry baskets from the dollar store to shade them from the hot sun. So far, at least, I haven't resorted to wearing one on my head.

Yesterday I planted two roses (Carefree Wonder and Distant Drums) in the early morning and then drove to town to get my hair cut. I think the style looks like Mariska Hargitay's, but maybe I'm overly optimistic. That's okay...overly optimistic is a nice change from I HATE MY HAIR, the most common reaction after visiting a salon. The only thing is, my bangs have disappeared. I don't know how she accomplished this; I know she didn't cut them off. But they don't seem to be there anymore. The bangs were the only part I liked about my last hair style. This is a little disconcerting.

Anyway, I came home, accomplished a modest amount in my cool (as in lower temperature) house, and around 6:00 p.m. went back outside to plant another rose (Scarlet Meidiland). By then the mosquitos had been alerted to my presence (salivating mosquitos are a sight to behold!), so one rose was my quota.

Henry Nevard, a lusciously-scented red rose, is supposed to arrive next week, and with it possibly Blanc Double de Coubert, a white rugosa I've admired ever since I read my first antique rose catalog, perhaps 35 years ago. Numbers like that are ever more meaningful to me as I drag myself around in this heat, feeling my age more than I ever have. I guess that figures, as I've never been this old before.

Two more Scarlet Meidilands are presently soaking in a bucket, awaiting their new homes in the ground. If all goes as planned, the three of them will grow beautifully and eventually cascade a bit over the stone wall of the terrace. Things rarely go as planned, but as I said before, optimism is good.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Spring Comes to the Farm

I used to wonder why so many old standards have lyrics waxing bittersweet about spring. I don't wonder anymore. Spring is beautiful, and almost always welcome, but it has a way of making one aware of what's been lost.

However, today I took my camera out in search of what I could find. My best find was a gathering of little plum trees that have sprung up in back of the two big ones. They were all in bloom together.

My worst find was the dreaded tent caterpillar. I don't think I've ever seen so many tents. They're all small because the season has just begun. The caterpillars are only about a quarter-inch long. But I'm sure they grow quickly! I took down as many as I could reach with a very long stick. It was frustrating to have to pass up so many up high. I'm usually very much against using chemicals, but in this case I wished I had a can of bug spray with a 20-foot reach.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

HCL: Thanks for the memories.

When I was growing up, I especially wanted a brother. I imagined how much my father would have enjoyed having a son, and I pictured all the things the three of us could do together.

I would have been a great sister. My brother and I would have had profound conversations and memorable musical moments. We would have raised the art of the private joke to its highest form. And I know he would have been a tireless defender of my virtue.

My dad would have loved every minute of it. At least I think so. But I have to wonder about those childhood daydreams of mine, the ones where Dad and Bro and I do everything together. Would my fantasy of “The Three Musketeers” have played more like “Two Musketeers and the Nuisance”?

For instance, if my father had had a son, would he have spent all that time teaching his daughter how to throw a ball? Thanks to those lessons, I had a grand time in high school impressing the guys with my football passes and fastballs. Today it is PC to refer to it as throwing properly; back then I threw “like a boy.”

With a brother in the family, would Daddy have taken someone else to the Yankee games? To the shooting range? Would he have taught someone else to drive his big custom standard-shift Pontiac with the truck clutch? Would I still have learned about f-stops and apertures and close-up lenses and making our own enlargements? Would I still be able to look back on those happy hours spent beating my father at bowling and losing to him at cards, always—at his insistence—playing for money?

And what about fishing? My dad taught me to fish on Noyack Bay, near Sag Harbor. Our version of the sport didn’t require the sort of technique or equipment you encounter in fresh water or deep sea. We fished from a rented dory whose enclosed bow gave it only the vaguest resemblance to the speedboats I lusted after, but it was enough to satisfy me. The boat was powered by the 7.5 HP Evinrude motor that accompanied us on every vacation.

Our equipment consisted of big rods, big reels, heavy line, and big sinkers. For bait, we carried a bucket of little fish we called killies. The procedure went like this: The baited hook was dropped in the water, where it quickly settled (thanks to the big sinker). Then we’d reel in just enough to get it off the bottom. At this point we might discover that we had hooked a log or other undesirable. But unlike all my later experiences losing lures in fresh waters, this snag was only that—a snag. When you have big rods, big reels, and heavy line, you just…reel it all in.

Assuming our killie was swimming free—or as free as one can swim attached to a hook (bear in mind that this was long before I became an animal rights activist)—we sat and waited for some excitement to happen. Looking back, fishing with my dad had an element of zoology education. Much of what we caught was not edible, but it was always interesting.

Daddy showed me how to tickle blowfish to make them inflate. I learned the meaning of the phrase “slippery as an eel” firsthand. Literally. We enjoyed fascinating close encounters with sand sharks, from harmless ten-inch specimens to a three-footer that sent the occupants of the dory scurrying to both ends. And I discovered that the glassy, seductive waters of Long Island had a secret core that was—even then—contaminated with shoes, tires, and car parts.

When my father said, “Let’s go!” I hit the boat in seven strides: four on the path, two on the dock, one on the deck. Would a brother have bumped me into the water in mid-stride? Would I have spent my time in the dory (assuming I got there at all) dispensing sandwiches and soda to the convivial fishermen?

I would hate to have missed one bit of it, including crabbing in the Shinnecock Canal. If I had had a brother would my father have let me toss out the maggoty fish heads and slowly pull in the great blue-claws? Would we still have dug for clams with our bare hands? Or would my fun at the shore have consisted of shell-gathering and building sand castles?

And those long, lighthearted games of ball we played against the back steps of Cousin Peggy’s Victorian house in Massachusetts every spring… Would it have been my brother out there laughing (and losing his shirt) with our dad, while I stayed inside and embroidered?

With a son at my father’s side, would I have been doomed to a childhood of cross-stitches and piano recitals and frilly pink dresses?

Maybe I wouldn’t have made such a great sister after all.

1903 – 1993
Missing you, Daddy.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tucking Them In

When my kids were small, winter lost its charm just as quickly as it does now (pretty much before it officially began), but one thing remained a pleasure all through the cold months: dressing my children in blanket sleepers and tucking them into their cozy beds.

I realized the other day that my porch cats provided me with an opportunity to do something similar this winter, resulting in a similar sort of satisfaction. I call them "the porch cats" because I feed them on the porch and they bed there at night--in a cardboard box I placed inside the late Caroline's doghouse. They're feral cats, two females. I'm guessing it's a mother and a daughter. I can get near the older one, even pet her a bit if I'm about to fill her dish with food. But the other, even after several years of relative domestication, won't get within five feet of me. Still, I'm quite attached to both of them.

This year I discovered a product called SnuggleSafe. I ordered it from the PetSmart website for $19.99. It's an 8" heavy plastic disk I heat up in the microwave for six minutes. Then I cover it with a former dish towel and place it on the bedding in their box. The manufacturer claims it stays warm for 12 hours, but I doubt that. I do know that the cats love this thing. They share it, lying down on it or sometimes huddling around it like it's a little round red woodstove.

They're not the only ones who love it. On sub-zero nights, warm in my bed, I think of the two grey cats on my porch, warm in theirs. In my dreams they're wearing little blanket sleepers, one yellow, one pink.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Animal Antics

As I write this, a female cardinal is banging her head against one of my living room windows. I wake up to the sound every morning. I've stopped worrying about her head; my concern now is for my window. I tried putting a life-size photo of my dog Wolfy's face in the window. That stopped her for a couple of days, but now she's back at it. She's chasing away her reflection. She thinks it's another female out to seduce her male. As Dr. Phil often says, there's no reality--only perception.

Two weeks ago I bought a one-pound package of strawberries. I brought it home, and it promptly disappeared. I was certain I had put it on the kitchen counter, but it was nowhere to be seen. I searched the fridge (not an easy task) and everywhere else I could think of. No strawberries. After a while I forgot about them. I think I decided they must have ended up in the deepest recesses of the fridge, where I'd find them one day.

Well, I found them today--under the piano. Believe me, I didn't put them there. But I know who did. The floor under the piano is where Wolfy hangs out, and where he has been known to bring stinky tidbits stolen from the garbage. But strawberries? Stolen from the kitchen counter? Well, I do know he's snatched things from the counter before. But usually reasonable things. Like raw chicken. Or cheese. I know Wolfy isn't pregnant, but I guess that day he had a craving for strawberries.

By the time I found them, they were covered with mold and had leaked rotten strawberry juice all over the wood floor. It actually removed an area of the wood finish. Fortunately, not too many people peer under the piano. I had a delightful time cleaning it all up.

Do you suppose this is my fault for feeding Wolfy popcorn and walnuts? (He eats them separately, of course.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hebrew Mathematics

“You're one-quarter Jewish,” I was told
at seventeen. I suppose you might wonder why
my father chose to wait till I was that old:
Childhood taunts had taught him the silent lie.
But I went straightaway to Doris, my best friend,
to tell her this shiksa was not exactly pure
WASP after all, thinking this would send
my Jewish pal into rhapsodies for sure.
Um…it didn’t happen precisely that way.
Actually, Doris presented a negative vibe:
She didn’t believe me. Her family had their say
as well, refusing to welcome me into the Tribe.
I still try to brag, but despite my Jewish pride,
one-quarter doesn’t count on the father’s side.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My ten seconds of fame

This is the limerick I wrote for Bob Barker, champion of pet spaying and neutering. He read it on "The Price Is Right" quite a few years ago. I'm told (by a show staffer) that he loved it and it made a big hit with the audience. But I never got to see it, because I was unwilling to pay $400 for a VHS tape.

Being homeless is surely a bummer.
Every year you delay makes it dumber.
So don't blow this chance...
Put a stop to romance!
Get your dogs and cats altered this summer.

Monday, February 06, 2006


I have a bunch of books up for auction on eBay. The same person has bid on three of them: the Saturday Night Fever songbook, an Oscar Wilde play, and a chemical dictionary. Can you think of three more disparate choices? I'm thinking he or she is probably a dealer, buying these for resale. That's fine with me as long as they leave my house, inflating my Paypal account on their way out.

I got an email today asking how much it would cost to send the songbook to Mexico City. I don't know why the image of John Travolta in dance costume in Mexico City struck me funny, but it did. Evidently my quote was too much for the muchacho, because he vamoosed. (That's 1950s slang for nosotros vamanos.)

I once sold a piano on eBay. I did it for a friend, and it was pick-up only. It was a nice little piano, graceful and delicate looking, and wildly out of tune. As always, I was honest in my description. We figured a local resident would come by to take a look, and then bid on it. The auction was won by a woman in Texas! She sent a piano mover from San Antonio to the northeast to pick up her prize. We figure it cost her at least twice the price of the piano to do this. Sure hope it tuned up nicely.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


First of all, how do you pronounce it? Well, if Paul Anka had a sister named Cori, that would be close enough.

Q'Orianka Kilcher was only 14 when "The New World" was made, but she carries the movie. As Pocahontas she kisses Colin Farrell (Captain John Smith with an Irish accent) and Christian Bale, plants tobacco, communes with the natural world, hobbles about in British shoes, has a baby, swims under water, combs her father's long hair, and betrays her tribe...not in that order.

I've heard "The New World described as a love-it-or-hate-it movie. I neither loved it nor hated it. I found it boring a good part of the time (two-and-a-half hours, and almost nothing happens--and almost no one talks about anything), and confusing in spots. Several couples walked out. I saw no need to do that, but I looked at my watch a lot. I would have liked a lot more historical accuracy. I would have liked Colin Farrell to lose the accent. I would have liked about an hour chopped off the movie.

But I really really liked Q'Orianka Kilcher. I did some research after the movie, and this is what I learned:

Her mother is Alaskan/Swiss, and her father is a Peruvian Indian. Q'Orianka has been earning $3,000 a night as a singer (huh?). Her second cousin is Jewel (Kilcher), the singer, but they've never met. (I'm sure that'll be remedied soon.) She fell in love with Colin Farrell during the making of the movie. (Well, duh...)

She really was wonderful. I'm not sure I'd want my 14-year-old daughter doing scenes that sensual (if not sexual), but that's almost a moot point. She really was wonderful.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Stomp! (at my roadside every Wednesday)

Are any trash collectors reading this blog? Can you explain your behavior to me, please?

My trash is collected every Wednesday morning. The two guys who pick up at my house are very nice. They wait patiently on the days when I fly out of the house, clutching garbage bags in each hand, yelling something that passes for a greeting because I forgot to put the stuff outside the night before. If I'm out walking the dog when they show up, they politely ask about the health of my family. But on days that I'm not outside, this is what they do:

They evidently remove the lid from each of four cans, pitch the bags into the hopper of their truck, overturn the cans and kick them precariously close to the road, and then fling the lids as far away in the opposite direction as possible.

I don't understand this. I especially don't understand it when a can is empty. This week that was the case. I understand that they had to take the lid off to check. But, having found it empty, why didn't they just replace the lid and go on to the next can? Why on earth did they knock over the empty can and fling the lid?

I'm thinking maybe this is theater, in a way. Psychodrama, perhaps, or--if they're packing iPods--simply a bit of choreography. But if you have a better explanation, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Laughter was our way...

During many attempts to organize my files and piles, I run across (and must stop to read) many papers from the past. Some range from painful to annoying. But some are wonderful, like this acrostic poem my daughter Gillian wrote for me, spelling out a nickname and so much more.

Laughter is our way
Uplifting in like
Cleverness and the
Knowledge that we share.
Yellow garden spiders and
Simple card games are
Ties that bind us.
Older and wiser we
Never forget, best friends,

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Why I'm glad I don't carry a gun

Went to see Brokeback Mountain this afternoon. It's a wonderful movie--great characters, touching story line, visually sumptuous. I was thoroughly engaged. The only unpleasant part was the presence of two old hens directly in back of me.

They whooped and cackled at every exposed breast or butt. They tsk-tsked at each utterance of the f-word. They gasped loudly at the sex, be it hetereosexual or homosexual (despite the fact that the latter was surely what brought them there). Worst of all, they laughed at the most inappropriate times. Near the end, one scene had me in tears and the two old bats in titters.

It was all I could do not to trip them on their way out. I refer you to the title of this post.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

First Kiss

No, it didn't happen today.

I still have the diary I kept when I was 13. One entry says, "First kiss, can't sleep." It happened at my eighth-grade graduation. At the end of the evening, Richie, my best friend Algene's boyfriend, kissed me on the cheeck.

How was that a first kiss? I can think of a lot of scenarios for a first kiss, but someone else's boyfriend's lips grazing my cheek is not one of them. Still, at the time I thought it was. And I couldn't sleep. I guess it doesn't take much to make an impression on a 13-year-old.

When did I get my first real kiss? The kind that a Kevin Costner character described as "long...slow...deep...wet"? I have no idea. No memory of it whatsoever. I guess by that time I was old and jaded and no longer impressionable. Maybe 14.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday, Monday

Woke up to 6" of heavy, wet snow. Jay came by to plow me out. He does this after every storm because his wife was my daughter Jill's best friend. She's pregnant with their first baby, and I feel as though Jill is getting a niece or nephew.

I took Wolfy for a walk, and he jammed his big, black husky-shepherd nose into a series of prints in the snow. I took a look: very large dog paw prints. We turned to head up the road and both stopped as we saw one very large dog, a German Shepherd, at the top of the hill. She belongs to my neighbor, who lives about 1500 feet up the road

Later, I followed the shepherd's tracks around the barn. She had clearly chased my "porch cats," who hang out in the barn sometimes. She went in and out of my garage, and everywhere else in pursuit of those cats. I worried about them until they showed up for dinner tonight. At the moment they're cozy in their box inside a dog house on the porch, heated by the SnuggleSafe disk that I'm so glad I bought for them. But our little circle of security has been invaded by the enemy. Although German Shepherds are one of my favorite breeds, I'm not happy with the idea of one of them going after Kitty Witty I and Kitty Witty II. (All suggestions for names gratefully received.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Stocking Up

Around here they joke that everyone must eat French toast during snowstorms because whenever one is forecast the stores fill up with people buying bread, milk, and eggs. I don't eat bread, I eat very few eggs, and my soymilk supply is good for a week or more. But 8" of snow is predicted for tonight and tomorrow, and I feel a compelling urge to go to the supermarket.

I have a bad cold and don't feel very well, and still I'm contemplating getting in my car and driving a minimum of ten miles to the nearest store to get--what? I'm trying to figure out what I could possibly need. As always, it comes down to pet food. I have full bags of dog and cat food, but they're open, and that sets off alarm bells. Silly alarm bells, really, because these are big bags.

Why do I feel the need to procure great quantities of pet food whenever a snowflake threatens? Is it a leftover contagious emotion from the long-ago days when my husband filled the basement with vacuum-packed buckets of grains and vitamins, preparing for the total anarchy predicted by various experts? Or does this go even further back, to the canned food that lined the shelves of our kitchen cupboards in my Cold War childhood? My dad, far more organized than I, had a system of rotation, so that we'd eat the oldest can first. In my house today, I have an unfortunate lack of systems. The concept of rotation is rather foreign to me. If the dog food has an expiration date I'm not aware of it. But I know one thing: I want to make sure we have lots and lots.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


I went out to hear some jazz last night, kissed all the boys in the band on the lips (they're my friends), and woke up with a sore throat and a cold this morning. I'm not suggesting that I picked up something from one of them, but I'm concerned that one or more of them may have picked up something from me.

So I spent an entire Friday in my bedroom, except for dog and cat care and tea making. I watched a movie--all of it, unusual for me, at one sitting. It was "Working Girl," which I'd seen twice before, but long ago. (I didn't want to tax my fuzzy head.) I caught up on a few of the magazines in my ridiculous To Be Read stack. And I've been listening to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me," one of my favorite shows on NPR.

It was a banner day when I learned about NPR archiving its shows online. Instead of listening to this one at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, I can tune in any time I wish. I can repeat lines I missed. I can even repeat the whole show if I want to. I guess this concept could be considered Tivo for radio freaks. Except it's free. And it's always fun, even for heads that are not at their sharpest.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Everyone's a photographer

I went to a christening the other day. When I entered the church, the baby's mother handed me her digital camera and asked if I would take pictures. I was flattered, and happy to do it. I joked that with my experience as a newspaper photographer I would push past the priest to get the perfect camera angle. Well, she thought I was joking.

What I had forgotten was that digital cameras have made everyone a photographer. People who never took a picture in their lives now have a Sony or a Canon in their pockets. Not one of them uses a viewfinder; they all hold the cameras out (with one hand) at arm's length. So not only was the church filled with avid, pushy photographers, but they took up twice as much space as they might have years ago with their Brownies or Instamatics.

"Our" baby wasn't the only one baptized that day. When the priest moved to the baptismal font, accompanied by three infants, their parents, and three sets of godparents, a crazed mob of photographers, arms outstretched, stormed the front of the church, some crashing into the Steinway grand a few feet away. (Navigating via an LCD screen is risky.)

My thoughts of camera angles vanished, and my goal shifted to simply getting the baby, or part thereof, in the picture. Even so, my chances were slim. Whichever way I leaned, reached, or ducked, the same thing filled my lens: the permed, dyed, rather thin auburn head of hair attached to the woman in front of me. As the priest mumbled holy things, I sent hateful thoughts to that hair. I wanted to pull it out by the roots. I imagined setting fire to it.

Then a miracle happened. (This was a church, after all.) Ms. Auburn ran out of battery, memory, or steam--I don't know which. She turned and pushed (old habits die hard) her way back to her pew. I jumped into her space and stuck the camera, at arm's length, between the necks of the two people now in front of me. I squinted at the screen. Yes, there was a baby in there. Our baby. And--omigod--her smiling mother! With no time to even pray they were in focus, I took the picture.

Remind me never ever to photograph a wedding.

Monday, January 16, 2006


It was 7º F. here this morning. So much for the January thaw.

I'm an only child, pretty good at amusing myself. For the most part, I do all right living alone. I'm never bored. But sometimes I miss having someone to talk to. Writing is all about telling. But telling is not the same as talking. This explains, I think, how I got hooked on a website that would probably not have attracted me otherwise--at least not enough to have created an addiction.

The site is populated by a large number of of people, almost all women, most of whom are kindhearted and fun-loving. (Like all populations, it includes a few snots.) When I lost several pets a year ago, they felt my pain and posted accordingly. They really were a comfort. And they've made me laugh. But I realized recently that I've been spending way too much time on a website where they talk about TV shows I've neve watched, recipes I'll never make, and relatives I can't keep straight. Every morning they pose a question: Do you keep your toilet lid up or down? What did you have for dinner last night? Are you an innie or an outie? This morning the question was Do you own a toaster oven?

I deleted the site from my Favorites list and added it to my New Years list of addictions I have to overcome, where it joins yogurt, walnuts, bittersweet chocolate, and laptop Scrabble.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

January thaw (and my revolting haircut)

Well, that's the last time I get my hair cut on Friday the 13th. The stylist (and I use that term loosely) turned me into June Allyson in the middle of a Depends commercial. It was so bad that I couldn't bear to see my reflection in the glass of the front door when I got home. In desperation (after two hours of trying to tousle my hair into the messy, edgy look I think befits a writer) I plugged in the electric curlers. Twenty minutes later I looked like Sally Field in The Flying Nun.

I don't even want to think about what I look like this morning. Instead, I'll tell you what my property looks like: black and brown and grey and white. White from the last vestiges of snow. Black and brown from saturated trees and weeds and stone and mud. Grey from the fog over everything. It's 54º F. on January 14. The basement pumps have been running constantly. Rain and wind, hitting the windows hard, woke me up at 4:00 a.m. I guess I'll call my daughter...I'm certain she isn't skiing. Tonight we're supposed to get snow, and tomorrow the wind chills will be in the teens. I'm supposed to drive over a mountain to a baby christening at noon. We shall see...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

New year, old me

It's been eight months since I posted. At least I know I'm not overwhelming my readers.

I turned on Oprah today to hear Carole Radziwill talk about her book, What Remains. I'll bet it's good. Do I really want to read another book about loss? I think I'd like to read this one. I'm not so sure about Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking. My stepdaughter Nancy sent it to me, so I'll probably give it a go. Otherwise, I was inclined to pass it up. Nancy said Didion and I couldn't be less alike. After listening to Didion on Fresh Air, I have to agree.

Nancy also sent me the Best American Essays of 2005. Add these books to the stack at my bedside and the (many) shelves around the house, and I've got to make some time to read! I also have to make a place to read. A sofa would be nice, or a loveseat. My sofa and loveseat are still sitting in the furniture store's warehouse, waiting for me to finish readying the living room. I wonder how the leather is holding up?