Wednesday, October 26, 2011

the group

by 10 pm the wedding reception at the club is raging. the booze is free-flowing and working its magic. a flock of slim, blonde wives and ex-wives cluster, chatter, compete. the talk is about tennis, clothes designers, and their mutual friend tina. sean's ex-trophy-wife, nicole, presides over the tina gossip. tina is a no-show at the wedding. voices lowered, for this is not common knowledge: tina's in brazil with felipe.

later, in the ladies room, the group of friends surrounds nicole, their breath warm as feathers. nicole's crying. she's drunk again and slurring felipe's name. the women warble soft, clucking syllables, comforting sounds released from deep inside their throats, in an effort to soothe her.

a month after the wedding reception, the group meets for lunch at the club. the waiter serves sauvignon blanc and takes their order—the usual, salads all around.

nicole looks like a total wreck, all crushed skin and twisted make-up. she's in bad shape.

they believe nicole is in love with felipe. they know she's hurting so they try to console her. finally one of them decides nicole needs a good slap of honesty and speaks the words the whole group is thinking, their minds working in tandem.

felipe's with tina now. you've got to move on, nicole. forget felipe. he's not worth it.

nicole turns in the direction of the speaker, stares at her, yet not at her. instead her eyes bore into a blank spot on the wall beyond. she closes her eyes. when she reopens them they are round and hard and dry. nicole looks directly at the group of women.

she finds her voice and in a cold, lifeless tone she says he's not the one—it's always been her.

~ hello my dears. i'll be away for several days, taking a break from computers and telephones and such—so deliciously unconnected!—and the blog will pause for a short intermission. in the meantime i'll snap a few more pictures and scribble some more stuff and nonsense, and maybe some stuff which is not nonsense—i'll be back in a flash.....promise.

Friday, October 21, 2011

here kitty kitty

i look soooo good.

the mice have decided to take over my daughter's house. many mice. many many mice (easy math, right? 10 or more offspring born every two weeks times all the mature female offspring of the offspring of the offspring of the offspring minus a few casualties equals a ton of mice....well, ok, maybe she doesn't have that many....). they are under the kitchen sink and in the drawers and in the walls and one brazen mouse even scampered across the counter in the daytime. another mouse ate half an avocado! my daughter is using mousetraps and they're working, but she needs some more help. so.......

here kitty kitty. yesterday i picked up a kitten for her. it is my pleasure to introduce you to buster. tomorrow we're taking him to his new home in vermont to scare a bunch of mice with his fierce good looks.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

phloxie poppers

standing in monday's warm sun, a good stiff breeze ruffling the oaks and poplars—the only trees with leaves still displaying a resoluteness and fixedly holding tight to the branches—i overheard a steady pop! pop! going on in the greenery.

the first time i heard that odd sound was years and years ago when my garden was new and i was new to gardening. gardening—that wonderful mucking about in pungent soil and tangles of weeds and fall's dead leaves, that exploration of the hidden worlds of smooth roots and bumpy rhizomes and chubby worms alive under the ground—and a love for the outdoors are in my genes. i am descended from generations of men and women who worked on the land, their own (in recent history) or belonging to the neighborhood duke or lord or whatever other landed gentry, and made their livelihoods from crops and cattle and horses and sheep (lots of sheep) .

when i garden my hands become dirty and sandpaper rough (you don't want to touch my sea urchin-like palm and fingers—i should wear gloves but i rarely do because i need to feel the good earth), my nails split (no glamorous nail polish for me) and crusty with black soil like one of those old farmers but not really, since my garden patch is smallish and unmechanized and suburban. there is no rise-up-at-dawn to milk the cows here; there is only me. my husband does not garden. he is without a green thumb but he helps me with heavy hauling and cutting—any yard work requiring a chainsaw and bigger muscles than i have.

and the pops? those were phlox seedpods—small, oval, ripe, ready—the ones which have gone from green to brown—wantonly bursting again and again in the afternoon sunshine (always in the sun's heat, never on a cloudy day) providing food for birds, mice, moles and voles and sending forth an unwavering new generation.

Monday, October 17, 2011

yoga and fish oil

~ for all the couples struggling with infertility—who feel like they are the only baby-less ones in a world filled with babies—as they anxiously wait for 9 months to are not alone.

there is a woman i know, who, in her teens and twenties, rarely noticed babies. she never oohed and aahed and cootchie-cooed like many women do when they see an adorable infant belonging to a stranger.

then all of that changed. now when this woman is at the grocery store or the hardware store, driving past playgrounds or taking her morning run, babies are all she sees. babies are everywhere. the majority of her friends have babies. she's got babies stuck in her brain and she can't get them out.

so it goes when you're married, in your early 30's, ready to start a family, and the damn clock is ticking and ticking. you've been trying to get pregnant for 20 months. you have a great reproductive endocrinologist who has tested you for everything and there is nothing today's medicine can find wrong with you. the doctor pronounces you physically fit. diagnosis: unexplained infertility.

you've tried IUI. nothing. now you're trying IVF: sticking on patches, popping pills, giving yourself daily injections, emptying out the hormones and filling yourself back up with hormones, trying to swamp your ovaries with lots of lovely eggs with the hope that some of them will fertilize and turn into embryos or blastocysts.

in 20 months you've gone from feeling a roaring panic and anxiety and dread to a dull achy sadness.

a few well-meaning family members and friends try to help you get pregnant (whoa. hold on. i think her husband has that under control!) by saying things like just relax and don't think about getting pregnant (how ridiculous is that? getting pregnant is always on your mind!) or maybe you're too thin or maybe you run too much, honey or my friend got pregnant doing yoga and eating fish oil.

some days you just want to cry.

doesn't anybody realize babies come from sperm and eggs, not fish oil and yoga?

some women are quick to point out you haven't been struggling with infertility that long, not as long as my sister's neighbor's cousin—your situation isn't that bad, don't worry (after all, worrying can make getting pregnant difficult!) you'll surely get pregnant soon.

some days you just want to scream.

other people shy away from talking about infertility; they are at a loss for words, reluctant to navigate into the unknown or mistakenly labeled forbidden-offlimits-taboo territory of infertility.

but, my oldest daughter, you must always remember this: those of us who love you, who are closest to you—your husband, parents, sister, brother, cousins, friends, and other relatives—are there for you, embracing you with gigantic hugs and humongous kisses.

we know the best thing for you is for us to ask how are you doing? and then simply listen, and squeeze your hand, and, on occasion, cry along with you.

and then, as it always does, your mood will turn brighter and you will be hopeful again......

visualizing those handsome little swimmers finding those cute little eggs and dancing the night away.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

singing the blaze orange blues

a workman's tarp left on the lawn to dry.  october 2010.

fall again, and across the misty pastures and orchard rows and into the woodland's dark cathedral of trees, jays and crows scream but the wild turkeys, grouse and pheasant keep a more reverent tone as they contemplate what they might graze upon next. pheasant are everywhere. i've seen some beautiful males lately, with their red eye patches, brilliant green heads, and long pointed tails, eating seeds, berries and leaves right on the edge where the road ends and the forest begins.

yes, it's turkey time again. they're a-callin' and the hunters are a-callin' back. it's also moose season and soon deer season, too. blaze orange is autumn's deep woods fashion color—my neighbor even covers himself in blaze when he walks his dogs along the side of the road. the dogs are also decked out in orange—an L. L. BEAN blaze orange hat and jacket for the man, and blaze orange canine couture vests for the dogs. hardly anyone else dresses that way unless they're going to venture into the densely wooded areas (and he's not venturing anywhere off the road).

i don't think there's any need to be worried about guns going off near our backyards. after all, this isn't the boonies; we live in a well-traveled suburban area with plenty of houses. three minutes away on foot there is even a densely populated neighborhood. hunting isn't allowed close to neighborhoods. the woods surround us, but this is a civilized place. we are civilized, right? yes (i think) and we are comforted by the thought of being in "civilization" and not some scary "deliverance" backwater. yet the woods and the wildlife were here first. civilization is the intruder and hunters are part of civilization.

in the dead of night i'm awakened. i hear shots being fired, sounding off eerily nearby. they're out jacklighting deer. during the day i jump at the shotgun's boom! boom! boom! not too close to home this time, but somewhere, everywhere. the hunters are out there.

i don't think there's any need to be worried. but if the hunters get any closer we'll all have to watch out, we'll all have to beware.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

the winner

she showed them her signed ticket. now it's up to them.

after they contact her she'll know for sure, she'll believe. like when the carnival comes to town and the huckster manning the toss-the-ball-in-the-hoop on the midway cries out and beckons her to step right up young lady and take a chance (calling her young lady when it's a lie). you never know what you're gonna get, if the prize is even real—if you even win anything at all—until you've got it in your hand.

but before she can begin to realize how her life's gonna take a sharp turn, before the phone rings and things get crazy and all hell breaks loose, she's just minding her own business, slowly drinking a cup of tea and looking for some peace and quiet. it's been a long day at work and she's attempting to quell the first signs of a headache. her feet are propped up on the coffee table and she's leaning back on the couch watching dabs of late afternoon sun streaking through the windows and over the potted plants making pretty stippled patterns along the carpet and across the dog's sleeping head propped on the violin case.

then ring, ring, bingo! you're the confirmed winner and now the damn lawyers and accountants and smooth talkers and she's un-listing and unplugging, having to fend off the hacking into and the fishing for and the spam-o-rama and how did they get my cell phone number anyway? she has no idea about the way this works and the images in her mind are loud and disturbing.

in those first moments, when she's still her ordinary self with mountains of bills and laundry and cobwebs and weeds, and life is still quiet and small, the surprise and disbelief make her heart drum and her head zing forcing her to cross her legs in order to not pee her pants. she's a giddy little girl again. she has never won anything—not a thing! not even a stuffed animal!—in her life. the man is telling her the amount of her prize—millions and millions and millions—and she's too amazed to speak. she can only nod stupidly at the telephone, tears streaming down her face, thinking this can't be real, this can't be real, i'm dreaming.

at last she is able to speak again and the man on the other end is pleased he's not talking to an idiot but to a perfectly nice, intelligent lady who is asking all the right questions. she, who occupies that shady, tree-lined avenue called the middle age, that residence constructed of cement solid routines and extra calcium, at long last knows what she's got. the unknown has been revealed.

suddenly her life is all about pens and plans and secrets.

as she eyes the pen in her hand, rocketing words blast her with sign on the dotted line, ma'am. wanna go for a beer, a martini, wanna be a member of this club, a co-chair of that committee, what are you gonna do with all the money, honey, all those new best friends? that's it. sign there. right on that line there. 

she signs on the line of freedom.

in the end starts a foundation to help women and children in war-torn lands. then she buys a remote island where no one will find her, builds some bungalows, fills up her yacht with her buddies and her dogs and speeds down toward grand cayman and her secret hideaway. her plan is to become small again, tiny and hushed, like the grains of beach sand under her feet that disappear when the tide rolls in.

Monday, October 10, 2011

september's people

i am september

and i feel my old bones, these loose clapboards—dry, cracked, crooked
the homestead's paint long vanished from the withered
boards, mournful openings in the roof like holes in a sweater
madly devoured by moths and months and a sadness revealing only empty space
rain drip dripping through and over the carcass' strewn remains
attempting to rinse clean gray futility
the wreck of time waiting at doors and windows, the trees
grass, plants, all of them fallen things turning back into themselves.

i am september

and i remember my darlings—sisters, brothers
sons and daughters—when we were young racing round
these golden days, chasing life
here i come, ready or not
laughing and crying out, seeking happy.
it's enough to feel our feet land on solid ground.

i am september

and i see the leaves drifting earthward, i smell their brittle age—
i ask you, just how many autumns have i witnessed?
a hundred? how many more?

i am september

and yes, of course, my name is september.
my mother chose it, my birth month.
she thought september stored up the good—
an offer of life in a harvest of dewdrops, in the gathering
bounty plucked from warm rain and sun
and the glory of summer days.

i am september

please excuse an old lady's ramblings.
brown and amber will cover me in the silent hours
but for today i am surrounded by all of you.
tomorrow a keening air tugs the curtain
and with a sigh is gone.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

the quiet

on tuesday the gray sky was solidly locked in place and the rain didn't let up much; it pattered and pattered and pattered a steady rhythm on the roof, the tempo hardly varying. over at cove road dock the morning tide was almost low and the rain, courteously, limited itself to falling gently for a few minutes.

and i took some pictures of the quiet.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


directly above my head a blue-green water world of thousands of hungry fish, including manta rays, whale sharks, groupers and wrasses, continues in a never-ending swirl of fins, tails, jaws, scales, mouths. for a short time i get to be a part of this world.

it's feeding time at the georgia aquarium's ocean voyager exhibit and the fish go crazy. huge buckets containing a feast of krill and pieces of fish float on the water and slowly release their bounty creating a wild feeding frenzy.

the staff at the georgia aquarium—the largest aquarium in the world they informed us—are knowledgeable and outgoing as they point out the highlights in each exhibit. we're glad that the day we're visiting we aren't being jostled by crowds of people; there is plenty of room to move. the staff can't explain the low number of visitors on this day, september 10th.

my favorites at the aquarium are the beluga whales, manta rays and sea horses. on second thought, make that all the fishy lives are my favorites.

we move along and enjoy each display of exquisitely unique aquatic creatures.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

did someone just mention a swiffer?

when one (namely me) sprouts up as a brand-new bride (eons ago) and then one (me again) blossoms—in a simultaneous profusion—into a housewife, a mother of two (eventually becoming the mother of three children plus a bunch of dogs) and a graduate student (with an often absentee, on-the-road-doing-business husband), one can suddenly be hit over the head by the depressing realization that the demands of a hectic schedule and the goal of a brilliantly run household, a veritable garden of perfection (what lunacy is this?), might somehow be shockingly unattainable (gasp).

but that was before my mother arrived with a swiffer.

oh glorious day, the day when she presented me with a mysterious box. i opened the box, peered inside and said "what in tarnation is this thingamajig, mum?" and she, being the mostwonderfulofallmotherswhohaveeverexisted, replied "it's a swiffer, daughter dear" and proceeded to put it together. she wrapped the nifty, dust snagging cloth firmly in place and gave me a demonstration of what modern day squeaky clean housekeeping is all about.

ever since that day many moons ago, i have always had my swiffer ready for action, pushing it lazily—and certainly not often enough!—along these old wooden floors to snatch up the ever multiplying and enlarging clumps of dog fur and dust which seem to roll into these rooms like persistent tumbleweeds from an abandoned prairie town out yonder.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Q & A

most days there seem to be more questions than answers. life's just like that. on occasion the opposite holds true. the answers appear before the questions have even been asked.

here is what i mean.

when henrietta and i finally get to the end of the trail, we spread a blanket on the pebbly beach beside the fjord and relax and eat our superb sandwiches and just-picked strawberries. we talk and then we are quiet again, staring over the rippling water and soaking up the sun—at times there is simply no need for words. but at one point she says to me "this is what it's all about" or something to that effect.

and another time....

i stand with my hands on my hips near the rocky outcropping and inhale the sweet, piney air on top of bradbury mountain, a grand misnaming because the mountain is actually a large, forested hill masquerading as a mountain. a fellow hiker, unknown to me, walks over beside me and looks in the direction i am looking, east toward casco bay. after a moment he remarks to me or the mountain or the sky or all of the above "boy, this is what it's all about."

i'm getting answers left and right to a deep question, a heavy, heavy question, one of the weightiest philosophical questions of all, and it has not even been posed: what's life all about? or, put another way, what's important to you in life? what makes you happy?

around this neck of the woods the answers which my family, friends and neighbors might supply for that question would be remarkably, unquestionably similar (i didn't conduct a poll, i didn't ask my hair stylist or acupuncturist or anyone specific. it is only that i just know what people would say, if they haven't in fact already told me anecdotally, which in a lot of cases they have.) the answers would go something like this, including stuff "my people" like to do:

"my people" would say #1 is being with the people i love, you know, my husband/wife, family and friends (and dogs!); also, staying in reasonably good health so i can be active; learning new things; participating in organizations to help with causes i believe in; and, when i can, doing the things i enjoy doing like traveling, hiking, reading, skiing, writing, boating, running, fishing, gardening, other hobbies.... or some very close variation on those themes.

not a single person i am close to now has ever indicated that the one thing he or she wants out of life is to be rich, although should they come into a lot of money they have a good idea how they are going to spend it. years ago i was acquainted with three people whose goal in life was to make a million dollars before they were thirty. two of them have attained that goal and the third has not. who is "happier"? are they happy today? i don't have a real answer to that, only small clues.

so..... here we are, having come full circle from a question to an answer back to a question again: (drum roll, please)—what is life all about? 

that nagging question is always looking for an answer.

fjords and mountaintops offer a silent reply.

~  happy october and happy monday, people!  ~