Friday, October 29, 2010

Carving night!

Tonight we carve the pumpkins we plucked from the patch a couple weeks ago. Dean's still got his cast on in this picture, but in real life he's now down to an ankle brace and life is good.

Finding myself reluctantly having to put my money where my mouth is -- Dean and a couple of his friends will go out trick-or-treating on their own. Oh, they'll all be carrying cell phones (I'm lending Dean mine and he's thankful it isn't pink), and going in a neighborhood that will be jam-packed with kids. I'm all for it on so many levels, but I'll still be glad to see him home safe and sound.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hurdy gurdy

I really should know what kind of plant this is; these were planted in our garden just last year. Whatever it is, it saves its flower show for fall, even though to me it has the look of a spring flower. I treasure it for its willingness to be brave and bold, yet tender, in the face of cold.

Today is the first time this season that I've had to put a touch of heat on in the house during the day. Oh, the heat has been coming on from time to time at night, but during the daylight hours it's been warm enough until now.

I find myself with that leaning-over-the-precipice feeling -- that one more step and then the SWOOOP toward Thanksgiving and Christmas and all will begin. The downhill, can't stop running madly out of control dash that is the marathon ahead. I don't necessarily mean it in a bad way; there are certainly things about the holidays that I treasure and revel in. More in just that sense of time going faster and faster and faster each year; the sense that *catching up* just isn't in the cards. That's ok. I feel we're better prepared than in the past to put our own measures of sanity around it all.

Meanwhile, I finally tidied up, got the Halloween decorations up, and made it feel appropriately festive around here. Pumpkins await carving, a costume is ready for Dean, candy is purchased and ready to be handed out.

My childhood memories of Halloween are glorious. This is my brother Chris, on the left -- so typical for our family that he was the only one of his friends with a homemade costume. My mom did excel in the making of Halloween costumes, and we were broad-minded in our ideas of what to be. You may not recognize the form, but Chris (or Clipper, as he was known back then) is an organ grinder -- and his rendition is perfect. Do you see the monkey in his arm, and the wind-up organ he wears around his neck? When we were young, we could go to the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago and almost always see an organ grinder -- always a man, always with a swarthy, gypsy look to him (in the very best sense) with a handlebar moustache and a monkey. You could give your pennies to the monkey and he'd give them a bite to make sure they were real (and not food) and then hop up to deliver them to the organ grinder.

Although I will admit that we got in the habit of calling them monkey grinders as kids -- not for any morbid reason but just that once one of us got the name wrong and the new name stuck (took me years to figure out why my parents thought it was so funny and awful that we called them that).

Anyway, I don't ever remember a parent along for trick-or-treating with any kids. We were instead set loose upon the neighborhoods, and would travel in packs for hours and hours collecting candy. I was the ward of my older siblings my first year or two out, but then from then on went with my own group of friends to enjoy a child's nearly favorite night of the year (with only Christmas competing for the honors).

Monday, October 18, 2010

To port

It has been lovely, these days, in New England. Despite the early darkness, the days are crisp and bright and filled with the colors and scents of autumn.

Hard to stay grumpy, which is a wonderful thing.

We spent Saturday afternoon in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Dean is learning that the many little port towns along the New England coast are very similar in design, in feel (and unfortunately in this age of franchises and homogenization, often identical in the shops) --
Portland, Portsmouth, Newburyport, Rockport, Newport -- you could be dropped blindfolded into any one of these and know that you were in New England near the coast but would not necessarily instantly know which town you were in. Cobblestone streets, old brick storefronts, winding streets coming up off the waterfront -- check, check, check.

They are lovely, though -- please don't think I don't adore these towns because I do. (I've managed to sneak in some sewing lately, and made this new jacket for myself although I'm still tinkering with it a little bit....)

I'm not sure why this picture of Dean with the horse strikes me as so adorably funny -- something about his bum leg, I guess, and the apparent youth of the horse.

Seeing the ocean, the boats, and dear family members who met up with us for *linner* (you know, a meal in between lunch and dinner) was restorative.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Recent discoveries

I've been shamefully lazy lately about my blog. That's not so much in the *recent discoveries* category, but then maybe again it is. I think a lot about writing, and posting, but then end up noodling away the time I have and not doing it.

So instead I'm trying to just actually post.

Here goes.

In the actual recent discoveries category:

As Dean progresses in his piano playing and works on pieces by your basic hall-of-fame composers, it finally occurred to me to seek out recordings -- piano only -- of those pieces so he can hear the timing, and can hear how professionals play a piece (and reflect on the kinds of emotions that are evoked when a piece is played with feeling). I've made a CD of the stuff he's currently working on and we're listening to it in the car. Why did I not do this sooner?

Also in the music department: when I was growing up, we always had a radio/tape player in the kitchen, and we had music on in the kitchen basically all the time. My mom enjoyed a very wide range of music, so I was exposed to all kinds of stuff and really enjoyed that soundtrack to our lives. As an adult, through nothing other than neglect, I've never had music in the kitchen. At our house now it is possible to put music on in the family room and hear it in the kitchen (although we really don't get much radio reception at all), but it's hard to manage and so I rarely do it. I've told Ken that what I'd truly like for Christmas is an inexpensive unit on which I could dock my iPod and hear music in the kitchen. Wish I'd done this waaaaay sooner.

I seem to have developed a touch of SAD as I've aged. I've always been sensitive to the light change with the seasons, and have railed against the whole daylight savings/time change scheme in the past here (ad nauseam?). But last night as I looked out of the dining room windows during dinner and saw deep darkness, I realized how utterly depressed it made me feel. I have never been a night person, and I'm not looking forward to winter's darkness.

Taking the time to take photographs makes me very happy. As long as I have a camera on me, there are pictures to take. I need to devote more time to this.

The cumulative dark events of this year in my life have worn me down. It has been a year of tragic losses, of set backs, of injuries and ill-health. I'm not sure if it's because winter is coming, or because I'm concerned that the new year won't be better, or because I'm tired, or because I'm having new realizations about what it is to live without my parents, but I'm finding myself more worn down by it all than I usually am. I know I'll shake this, but it's a heavy load just now.

Morning glories continue to thrive, even once the nights get cold and the days get short.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I don't get much time in here these days; I suppose the way to say it is that I don't manage to make the time to get here. I know well enough by now that blogging goes in cycles but I'm curious to see this time if I manage to ramp back up, or not.

But meanwhile.

The things left blooming in the garden are valiant, gorgeous, lonely, and ephemeral. I'd like to spend these days out there with my camera, but settle for a few moments stolen now and then (although I need to remember, again, to always have a camera with me). It hasn't managed for the past week or so to ever get as warm as the forecast predicts, so we're left under-dressed and shivery -- very fall-en indeed.

Tomorrow we make the trip into Boston to take Dean to Children's Hospital; another boy at school accidentally slid into Dean's ankle during a recess soccer game last week and Dean's been in a cast and on crutches since. I've seen more of the local emergency room this year than I'd like, certainly. Anyway, they weren't sure in the ER if he'd broken the growth plate in his foot and so tomorrow we see a specialist and find out for sure. All hopes are pinned on *not broken.*

I do find it odd that the parent of the child involved never called to see how Dean was doing. If my child had accidentally sent another child to the ER I'd certainly have made the call -- all the more so if I saw the child on crutches the next day. What do you think is wrong with people? We know it was an accident, but wouldn't the decent thing to do be to call? Or is it just me? I often enough find that I seem to live by some ancient code that no one else follows....

Oh, and I need to do something with all the basil before we get a hard frost and it's gone.