Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Winter Walk in the Woods


It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, multiple fires were raging in this forest, burning close to 90,000 acres before being all but extinguished by first heavy rains, and now snow.  We love this forest.  It’s a place of unimaginable beauty where we like to go hiking and skiing, and it is also in this forest that we trek each year in search of our perfect Christmas tree. Now that the fires were no longer keeping us out, we were going crazy to return here, and see for ourselves how much damage there was, and whether a visit to these woods could ever be the same as before.

Thankfully, this forest is so vast that the fire damage was not immediately evident, and flocked with a fresh coating of snow, burned trees have become nearly indistinguishable from those left untouched.  Under a heavy cover of clouds that blurred the world beyond the hills, and lightly falling snow, we set out on our walk yesterday.  So quiet was it, and so completely shrouded in white, I felt like we had somehow stepped inside a beautiful and magical snow globe. 









And then there was Kona.  While I’m sure she appreciated the beauty of her surroundings too, she mainly demonstrated her ability to go faster than the speed of sound, even when the snow is several inches deep.  It must be that new orange coat of hers!

Have a great week, dear readers!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Seven Medals

Veterans Day poster 1995 (WWII)

I have my Uncle Pete’s medals-seven of them-pinned to a piece of black felt and kept safely behind the doors of a glass fronted book case.  Among these medals are two purple hearts.  One awarded to my uncle for wounds he sustained during an air raid on December 12, 1941 at the Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines, and the other, awarded for making the ultimate sacrifice on January 9, 1945-killed while aboard the POW “hell ship” Enoura Maru when it was bombed as it sailed for Japan.  To say that I am grateful and proud of my uncle and what he did for his country, my country, is putting it mildly.

I have other mementos of Pete too.  A few photos, some letters he wrote, and a pint sized sailor uniform he had made in Honolulu as a gift for a younger brother.  These few possessions of Pete’s are priceless.  Reminders of the uncle I never knew, but still feel connected to.

My father is a veteran.  He was in the Navy, and served in Korea.  I keep his dog tags in my studio, where I see them every day.  They are part of the story of who my dad is that I wouldn’t part with for anything.

It saddens me when I see mementos like these for sale in antique stores or on internet sites, because many times, once these pieces of history are separated from those who know the faces and the stories behind them, those stories about those faces are lost forever.

On this Veteran’s Day, and every day, I am so proud and grateful to our veterans for their service and their sacrifice.  But most of all,  I remember them.  It’s the most fitting tribute I know.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Split Pea Soup


It’s obviously Friday afternoon.  A quick glance into the shopping carts that snake both ahead of her and behind her, like some sort of long grocery train, confirms the fact.  Cartons and six packs of beer, bags of chips, and plastic wrapped packages of hamburger and steak.  She won’t make this mistake again-shopping at the start of the weekend-and for a fleeting moment she is tempted to break from the line, put back the few items in her small basket, and leave.  But she is hungry, she is already homesick, and she still has not finished unpacking-and the comfort and nourishment that a bowl of homemade soup promises is too compelling.  And so she waits.

The train of carts inches forward until she is near enough the check stand to place her humble basket on the conveyor belt, watching it now inch forward, waiting for its turn.  With unpracticed hands, the clerk seizes the basket and begins to remove the soup ingredients one by one.  A small onion, and a few stalks of celery, one pound of bacon, and a package of split peas.  It is the split peas that are to blame. Not quite clearing the edge of the basket, a several inch gash opens up on the side of the package, releasing a torrent of green that cascades onto the conveyor belt and floor.  The clerk gasps, and there is an audible groan from the line of shoppers who are painfully aware that the beer in their carts is getting warmer by the minute.

Clumsily, the clerk is trying to gather the peas and put them back into the wounded package.  Clearly he is wishing  to put this incident behind him and finish up a shift that seems to have no end in sight.  She, all the while, stares open mouthed as the scenario unfolds, unable to say a word.  Until, unbelievably, the clerk places the partially filled bag of sullied split peas into the waiting brown paper sack. 

She finds her voice and stammers-

Wait a minute!

All eyes are on her.  She can feel them.  Angry eyes.  Impatient eyes.  Eyes that like the sight of ice cold beer.  Her face is hot, but she asks anyway.

I don’t want to be a bother, but may I please have a new bag?

The poor novice clerk.  His face assumes an expression of sheer panic, as though he is facing an impending mutiny.

Split peas…anyone know what aisle the split peas are on? 

He addresses everyone, and no one in particular.  She can offer him no assistance, either.  The layout of the store is already a blur.

As though taking part in a frenzied scavenger hunt, a dozen or so pairs of feet abandon their carts and scatter in every direction.

She is suddenly tired, and embarrassed beyond words, but she can’t resist thinking how amusing it would be if only she had the nerve.

Would somebody grab me some cold beer too!



The Write on Edge Prompt this week was to use the word new as inspiration.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Just Like Jo


I remember the first house Stuart and I ever lived in. A postage stamp sized 4 room ramshackle cottage, with an equally tiny and disheveled yard.  Still, after several years of apartment living, we were excited that we had a yard.  I also remember finding a copy of the 1951 Better Homes and Gardens Garden Book at the local used book store, and feeling confident that between that book, and a few assorted tools we collected, including an old hand me down metal rake from my parents, we were well prepared for any yard and garden challenge we might face.  We bought a lawn mower and cut down the foot tall grass, tamed the wildly overgrown blackberry bushes (and learned how to make jam and pie as well), planted herbs and flowers, and raked the occasional leaf or two from the pair of camellias that graced either side of our front walk.  When we eventually moved from Oregon to Western New York a few years later, we bought a 60’s split level, situated on roughly two acres of land.  There were numerous flower beds and many trees.  Dozens of trees. When that first fall rolled around, and we found ourselves knee deep in leaves, our poor little metal rake could not keep up, and as if to offer one final protest, its wooden handle snapped in two.

The local hardware store was several miles away, but as the flurry of leaves showed no sign of letting up, we hopped in our car and made the trip.  And that is when we learned that the latest innovations in the field of modern raking had passed our little rake right on by. 

Look at the wingspan on that thing!  It must be 3 or 4 feet!

We both marveled as we stood in front of a display of the largest rakes we’d ever seen.

And that handle!  It must be 8 feet long, at least!  Will it fit in the car?  I wonder if we should have rented a U-Haul?

It took the two of us to carry our chosen rake to the checkout counter.  And when the clerk asked if we’d like help out with our purchase, we were mighty grateful.

We raked a lot of leaves in New York.  So many, that we eventually became a two rake family.  (Amy had her own toddler sized purple rake, but she left it on the driveway right before it snowed one winter, and it really wasn’t made to withstand the weight of a Subaru Legacy.)

Now we are comfortably settled in our 1900 Victorian, and we have those six beautiful maple trees I’ve mentioned before.  While I’ve never thought of raking as a chore, I never thought about raking as a tradition either.  Until I met Jo.  She stopped by one summer day, and introduced herself.  She lived in our house in the 1960’s.

I remember those trees, she said.  Sometimes I thought the raking would never end.

And it suddenly occurred to me.  We rake up those maple leaves every fall just like Jo and her family did 50 years ago, and just like all of the other families who lived in this house before us did.   We are following in the footsteps of 112 years worth people who raked leaves in this yard-if not from the maples, then from the other trees that were once here, as evidenced by the stumps that remain.  And maybe I’m a little odd, but I like that connection to the past.

But I do love the modern super sized rakes we have now.  And how about those crazy leggings I wore way back when?

Monday, November 5, 2012

I’m Back!


I’ve missed all of you!  Last week, my computer stopped working.  Out of the blue, after barely two years of use, it just quit.  The nice guy at the computer repair shop advised me that it would be more cost effective to start fresh with a new computer. He could try to fix my old one, for a couple hundred dollars, but he couldn’t guarantee that it would do any good. 

It frustrates me.  Two years is hardly what I would call an acceptable lifespan, but what could I do?  So I bought a new computer.  And it’s good to be back.  I’ll be making the rounds of all of your wonderful blogs and getting caught up as soon as I can, but in the mean time, I thought I’d share a photo of one of my mums.  With the mild weather we have been having, my mums just keep blooming and blooming.  I’ve got vases full of them all over my house, because I figure it will get cold soon, and then they’ll be done for the year-and I want to hang on to their beauty as long as I can. 

I don’t think I need to worry though.  My mums, unlike some computers I know, aren’t going to quit any time soon.

Happy Monday, dear readers!