Archive for the 'rambling' Category

Quiet time with cats

I’m still here, slowing down to take time to walk around the neighborhood, observing how the neighbors’ flowers are growing. I’ve been enjoying observing the figs as they slowly ripen on the branches – a wonderful change from last year. And, like many people, I’ve taken up bird watching because I’m curious about which bird is making noises (mostly blue jays this season). On a road trip, I saw a blue heron and an egret flying. Marvelous!

I did get to see some family after over a year of waiting. But mostly, I’m enjoying quiet time with cats.

And loud times with cats:

  • A bird is outside: outrage! Cue angry paws against the window pane.
  • The food has not arrived yet: oh woe! Oh woe for me, your starving baby….
  • The other cat is using the box. Cue soft thumps of bodies throughout the house.
  • You startled me. Explosion of cats in different directions.

It’s entertaining, if distracting.

The day job is busy (thank goodness). Slow progress is being made on the vest and the cross-stitch, when I’m not fishing for cats with the feather on a string.

It’s mostly cats here. And worry about the world, which is a bit overwhelming. But it’s mostly cats, who would love fresh tuna (not on their diet) or a real mouse (please no).

I haven’t been on Rav for a long time, because it’s fractious on my computer. But I may have to go on to check on some of the knitters whose blogs have gone into the aether. I’m going to be sporadic in posting because (gestures at the world). I’m sure you understand (nods in 2021, and hope everyone is staying safe).

Trying to be very quiet

There’s taping going on in the next room. The chorus has gone virtual, which means we’ve all been doing our best. I taped earlier, and I think my tape may get the response, “Oh, dear. She tried.” So many blooper reels. So many times the pretty little horses had coats muddled, or words didn’t come out correctly (spoonerisms…. so many!).

The cats really don’t care about keeping quiet, or what other sounds might ruin a taping. One cat has been quacking and growling outside of the makeshift studio door, climbing up on a hall table to experiment with the door handle. I managed to be quiet, and not hum my part along. I’ve sent away my part, and hopefully it was good enough that the mixer can do magic and make it work with the others.

The funniest blooper reel (besides the one where I warble as sirens respond to a fire call and someone starts to wood chip a stump), was when I realized I had sung the wrong word, said “fudging hell,” and turned off the tape. Apparently working in childcare and in a museum did some good.

Incremental stitches

I’ve been stitching a cross-stitch from a kit. I’m slowly getting to the point where I need to decide if I want to use the beads or not. When it seems ridiculous to stare at a small graph and work on what (effectively) is a stitched version of paint by numbers, I have a vest on the needles.

Photo of a cross-stitch oriole on paper backing. Partially done

Incremental, slow, almost meditative. These colors were cheerful and welcome for the early, cold days of spring.

It’s all slow movements of creativity. Even if I’m using a kit, I need to figure out the instructions, to match thread correctly to the colors’ names (what is the difference between light green, bright green, mustard green, medium green, dark green, fresh spring green, and petite green velvet?), to prevent the cat from gnawing the canvas. And then there are new stitches to learn (half cross-stitches with beads, and cross-stitches with petite beads).

I’ve also been able to go on walks to areas outside of my immediate neighborhood that I haven’t seen since cold weather. Stitching back my thoughts about where my town is, how it relates to other places. And these other places provide spaces for something other than a quick errand into the shops.

Fiberglass cow sculpture in a front yard. House porch is tan stucco. Cow has day of the dead imagery on it, including bones and fanciful flowers.

These other places are whimsical, arty, and surprising. People have been putting in garden beds, or adding statues, small seating areas, and awnings (I assume they are planning outdoor family festivities). From paintings on the sides of walls to cow sculptures in a yard to flowering quince and star magnolias … there was something to see at every corner turned. Such a delight.

Photograph of a red poppy blooming. It is very large, and is planted in a large pot with blue slip decoration. Brown bricks and wooden stairs in background.

I hope you find moments of surprise and delight in spring’s unfolding days.

It’s been a year, or more….

photo of a pink lenten rose in a brown vase.

And the news media is writing about looking back on the pandemic and I just … can’t.

Yes, friends and family of mine have been getting vaccines (this is a good first step). We’re taking the slow first steps of at least one family member being able to physically see people in another state. That’s great.

I’m still here, looking at how beautiful the garden is, and thinking of the people who genuinely got lost. Some to illnesses that are unrelated, yet inextricably linked because the funeral was online and only a few people could attend. (How do you grieve during a funeral if you have to hold the camera steady?) Some to unknown causes, disappeared without a news announcement.

I’ve also been looking at the garden and thinking the many beautiful milestones have happened, even if they were remote. Birthdays via FaceTime, or held over fence walls. Weddings attended online. Celebrations for elders who got their full vaccinations (online as well).

I’m not sure how to be joyful when the news is filled with suffering and grief forestalled. I’m not sure how to grieve, when a grief is unrelated to the big mass event that is still ongoing. I’m not sure how to exchange dread for hope, when I see teens and college students strolling through my neighborhood without their masks. As though an airborne illness can’t touch privilege.

It’s been a year, and there’s hope in my heart. But that’s not all. Wishing you all safety, health, cats and joy.

It’s 2021

Orange cat with paw almost obscuring the lens of the camera. White and black whiskers, pink nose, amber eyes.

All I can think of doing right now is tapping the metaphorical mic and ask, “Is this thing on?” A global pandemic has made every celebration a bit odd. We’ve been reading the news, about infection spikes in different countries’ populations. I have fingers crossed for family, friends, and former and current work colleagues. Hopefully we can squeak through to a world where visiting a museum or traveling to see parents is worry-free.

So, how is it going in your neck of the woods / corner of the world / sleepy burgh / oddly quiet city? There is more peace and quiet now that the fireworks on random evenings have stopped. Christmas catalogs from 2020, as well as Christmas letters have arrived. Maybe the last of these will show up by Valentine’s Day? Who knows?

An old house thing

Some of those things they never tell you about old houses:

  • Sometimes you need to kill off trees that grow into the basement.
  • No room will ever have walls that are straight.
  • There is no such thing as quiet AC.
  • There may be ghosts, but you won’t hear them over the AC.
  • There’s a hall light switch in the linen cupboard.

It’s been a week of maintenance, mostly by outdoor experts. And while I love having higher ceilings, nicer views, and a stairwell for the cats to romp on, there are days I would trade it all for a house with modern fixtures.

Long lost histories

Standing out in the field.

When talking with family, old stories crop up. So-and-so was a farmer in Country A… no a shepherd in Country B before he he left for greener pastures.

My ancestors lived, generation upon generation, in a northern country with shifting borders. From the 1800s on, they moved in 12 or 7 mile increments. Eventually one person left for work, choosing the Americas. His descendants lived in a 20 mile radius, until a generation left for work.

Now, most of life’s celebrations are virtual — phone conference calls with family, mailing packages, etc. During these “meetings”, I’ve heard lots of family stories, and I’m knitting these memories together and finding big gaps. Some of the gaps reflect people who were too busy working and living to write stuff down, except in their budget book. This year, it feels like everyone’s everyday moments are slipping away. I sincerely hope this is temporary….

So was my ancestor a shepherd or a goatherd or a cattle herdsman before he left for this continent? I will probably never know, although it amuses me to ponder. I know where he wound up: beside a lake, working as a carpenter, fisherman, farmer while raising a family.

Bittersweet

Last night, we watched footage online from concerts of choruses that were going to be at our summer’s big singing event.

I should be packing for the event – getting my outfit from the cleaners and checking my boarding details, except it’s all been canceled. Mercifully, the timing of the pandemic means all the singers aren’t converging in one place for our convention. I love singing. I love what singing does: making me feel 3-dimensional and almost a part of the elements. As an alto, I get the best of singing worlds: sometimes a rumble that supports the sopranos, and sometimes a trill that sneaks above the top line.

It’s all canceled, and postponed to a distant date. Hopefully my nonprofit chorus can bear the stress of NOT singing for the safety of everyone.

For now, seeing all those familiar faces is bittersweet. And I think about my own chorus and wonder, to quote an old song “When will I see you again?” Link to The Three Degrees. This singing group’s look and Philly sound was iconic when I was a kid.

So, I wonder, and wish. Online meetings, phone conversations and letters only go so far.

Counting months

Timex watch next to a tiny flowering plant on a pebble planting bed.

While in this holding pattern, the world keeps shifting. I drove to the post office (the first time in 2 months) so that I could drop off my vote. Voting by mail is new, but positive — less stress, and no gauntlet of people to pass.

In 2 months,

  • A grade school was torn down, explaining the ever present, mysterious truck sounds and construction noise.
  • Several storefronts have shuttered.
  • The post office is again a hub of activity.
  • People are (mostly) wearing masks to shop.
  • The USA is in a cycle of protest (my heart is with the protestors, and here’s a link to student coverage of the protests).

The natural world offers daily surprises in the yard. An amaryllis we forgot last winter is blooming, our roses are more beautiful than ever, and poison ivy (boo) has come up from underneath the reclining chair in the yard. I go out for evening walks, to avoid groups of people and the sun. It’s lovely to wave at people in their yards as I admire the sunset.

So how about you? How are you marking the last days of spring sliding into summer?

Like an Agatha Christie movie set

Photo of pink and white azalea shrubs under a white dogwood.
Spring is sprung

One neighborhood I take my walks in is filled with azaleas, blooming dogwoods, and green grass in front of Tudor row homes, or 1930s modern twins.

I chat with neighbors (they from their safety of their front stoops, and me on the broken sidewalk), comparing where their gardens are compared to last year. We’ve all agreed that it is too cold to put in tomato or pepper plants. Mostly, one gardener has said he’s waiting on the plants, but it’s too cold to plant them so he isn’t worried about the delay. Since I lack gardening knowledge, I agree because it’s easier.

On the other side of the street, wisteria blooms on an arbor, and the tulips bob on their stems, looking like colorful lollipops. I’ve seen white throated sparrows, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, and cowbirds. Squirrels race along fence posts. And everywhere, I have this uneasy feeling I just missed Hercule Point and Captain Hastings walking up a path and into one of the houses.

I’ve spent a little time wondering why I have so many Agatha Christie references on this blog. Perhaps it’s because I first read the books in my late teens? My favorite Agathas are any of the Tommy and Tuppence stories and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Any favorites on your shelf? I’m dipping my toe into eBooks, and considering what’s available and comforting.


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