Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An Award for Me! :-)

My dear friend Mary has honored me with the Christmas Spirit Award. According to Santa, "Quite simply it is those that have a generous and giving nature. Those who care about others. Those who have a kind word to say or a broad shoulder to lean on in the times that others need that. Those who display the "Spirit of Christmas". It should be passed on to five other worthy bloggers. Mary and Renie already have this award. They are the epitome of Christmas Spirit! Since I am relatively new to blogging, I do not have all five bloggers to pass it on to. I have two. Therefore, I will keep the information so that I can make this award when I have met the other three special bloggers, too. Thank you, Mary!

Wondrous Wednesday

Isn't it always the way that when you really need a day to day convenience, that is when it breaks down? It's not the end of the world or anything like that. It is, nevertheless, frustrating and time consuming. It was one of those situations that put the kibosh on my schedule, as well as that of my husband, Dave and my son, Kevin. Actually, they got the worst end of it.

It all started last week. I had an unusally huge amount of laundry to do and I needed to get it done as quickly as possible. I loaded the machine bright and early. When the wash cycle was completed, my grandchildren (who were getting ready to leave for school) and I heard what sounded like a downpour coming from the cellar. I went and looked. Water poured down from the pipes. I couldn't see where it was coming from. I stopped the washing machine. It was then that I noticed there was sudsy water in the tub and the toilet. That night, Dave used the plunger on both the toilet and the tub. It seemed to work. There was no problem flushing and no water was backing up.

The next day, I again started my laundry marathon bright and early. This time, I heard the rains pouring in the cellar and the toilet gurgling. Again, I stopped the washer. Dave rented a snake. He and Kevin spent a good part of the next day snaking out the entire system. (They did the hard work, I was the standby gopher). When they were done, the drains ran free and easy. The toilet flushed like a toilet should.

Finally, bright and early, I resumed my laundry marathon, which by that time had turned from a 5k run into the Boston Marathon! I was doubtful that I would cross the finish line in time. I didn't even make it to Heartbreak Hill. I couldn't even hear the starter's pistol over the sound of deluge in the cellar, the gurgling toilet, and the gurgling sink!

Dave and Kevin teamed up once again, with yours truly as the standby gopher. All the drains were free. Not a problem did they have snaking it out again. In the process of checking everything as thoroughly as possible, they removed the toilet. The good news was that the toilet was not the source of the problem. The bad news was that part of it was broken. They just don't build things to like they used to - that toilet was only 30 years old! Well, it was clear we needed a new toilet, but first they wanted to find the source of the backup problem.

My son decided to check outside where the pipe runs into the septic tank. He started digging and soon realized that the pipe had not been buried deep enough. It was broken and completely clogged. He was surprised that we hadn't had a problem sooner due to the shallow hole it was in. My husband and son got parts and repaired it. They bought a new toilet and installed it. I must say, the new toilet is very nice. It uses water very efficiently.

I was ready to tackle my laundry marathon. I held my breath as the washer emptied of the washing cycle water. I checked - there was no deluge in the cellar, no gurgling in the toilet or tub, and no sudsy water to be seen anywhere. It took a few days, but I not only made it up Heartbreak Hill, but I crossed the finish line - laundry done.

Although it isn't Thursday yet, I think I will end my little story by borrowing a page from Mary's blog. Why I'm Thankful on Wondrous Wednesday:

Thankful for the hard work and perserverance of Dave and Kevin.

Thankful that we have a sparkling new, water efficient toilet.

Thankful that the laundry is done.

Thankful that we don't have to build an ark!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Chipped Teacup

The following is a very short story I wrote in response to a two word challenge - chipped teacup.

Emily slowly twirled the handle of the chipped teacup around until the smooth, unbroken part of the rim faced her. She reached for the fragile handle. Her once delicate fingers gnarled with arthritis could not grasp it. She leaned back in her bed until her frail body rested against the pillows her day care giver, Mrs. Fogg, stacked to prop Emily up at meal time. She would be in soon to feed her and, more importantly to Emily, to hold the cup of tea to her lips.

She didn't mind waiting for Mrs. Fogg. Her granddaughter, Tracey, found Emily’s treasure box of photos and gradually decorated the walls with the most precious of them. Almost a hundred years of family and friends, most of her generation now gone, frozen in time, awaited her gaze each day. Her ninety-eight years drew a blanket of haze over her yesterdays, but not her yesteryears. Each photo unfolded its story vividly, just as sharply as the day it was taken.

As often happened, Emily's eyes grew heavy after reliving a photo or two and she drifted off to sleep. When she awoke, her tray was gone. She had missed her tea and her bones screamed out for the pain medication she also missed. She called for Mrs. Fogg. But it wasn't Mrs. Fogg who answered her call. Emily strained to clear her vision still blurred from sleep.

"Susan, is that you? Oh, Susan I knew you would return one day!" Susan smiled and sat down on the bed. "Just before I drifted off to sleep, I was looking at that photo of us when we were girls. See, the one in the center of the wall?"

Susan turned to look at the photo taken so long ago. "Mrs. Fogg wanted to take it down. She thought it made me sad. Tracey said she would not let her. I told Tracey about you, about our last tea party together the day before the people from the state took us away from each other. I knew one day you would come back, that you would find me. Remember the tea party behind the garden? When I close my eyes I can see the little table you set for us and how you made it so pretty with our floral blanket for a tablecloth and the new yellow washcloths for napkins. How did you smuggle Mama’s tea set out of the house? I never in my life ever had such delicious tea. I still have the teacup that I dropped that afternoon. Every day, I drink my tea out of it and think about you. I always wonder if life has been good to you. I can’t complain. Life has been mostly good to me – except for the empty spot only you can fill. I have missed you so."

Exhausted and wracked with pain, Emily paused. She rarely had the energy to speak more than a couple of sentences. If only Mrs. Fogg would bring her medicine, Emily felt she and Susan could then share all the stories and adventures of their lives. Susan brushed back a wisp of hair from Emily’s forehead. In that moment, Emily’s long ago faded clarity of mind and perception returned reinvigorating her spirit. “Susan, you’ve come for me, haven’t you?” Susan took Emily’s hand and, as death set her free, Emily smiled.

Teacup Image courtesy of Designed to a T – free download

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Sunny, Warm, Windy Day

"If you don't like the weather, wait a minute." Being a New Englander, I've heard that all my life. It seems that in the last few years, the extremes come back to back more often. Last night, the temperature rose. By midnight, it was 68 degrees and the dewpoint was 66. It was actually muggy and uncomfortable for sleeping. It didn't just rain, it poured. That part is good, we still need the rain. But muggy on October 19th? That is odd.

As you can see from the photo below, the little pond came dangerously close to drying up this year. I was worried about the frogs and turtles. Normally, the water level is just about even with the top of the far bank.

Today is warm, sunny and windy. I'm afraid this weather is taking its toll on the foliage. We lost a lot of leaves in the heavy rain. Now with the wind, it has been raining leaves all day. Despite the crazy weather changes over the last 24 hours, today has turned into one beauty of a day.

I decided I better get some pictures of the foliage before it has all fallen to the ground. These were all taken from my yard. I'll be posting more later. My photos don't do the foliage justice. It sure is pretty around here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Foggy, Drizzly, Chilly Day

Yesterday felt like late spring - sunny and 70 degrees. This morning feels more like fall. Muted tones of red, gold, and orange foliage peek through the fog. It's chilly and drizzly. Foggy days always make me think of Carl Sandburg's poem The Fog.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

I've always loved that poem. Apparently the birds are not worried about those "little cat feet" as they visit the feeders and forage on the ground for seeds. It may be my imagination, but they seem more active and lively on rainy days.

As for me, I've had a busy morning and I am looking forward to a late lunch. I think I will fix a nice hot bowl of clam chowder and curl up on the couch with a good book. It's a little chilly, so I'll probably throw my afghan around my shoulders.

There's nothing like a foggy, drizzly, chilly day!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Surprise for Me

When I checked Mary's Writing Nook which belongs to my dear friend, I got a very nice surprise. She has given me this wonderful award. I am honored. Thank you, Mary, you made my day! :-)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What Happened to the Dragonflies?

Now that summer is over, I’ve been thinking about bugs. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about one of my favorite bugs, the dragonfly and wondering why we had so few in the yard this past summer.

For as many years as I can remember, we have been fortunate to have great numbers of dragonflies. Late afternoon would find the front yard or the little pond out back swarming with dragonflies, flying back and forth in what looked like a massive swarm of chaos. There were so many, I often wondered that they didn’t bump into each other. Often while drinking my morning coffee on the deck, a dragonfly would land on the table or even on my hand and stay for a brief time. They were all sizes and colors. Beautiful!

This past year was different. The numbers swarming in the late afternoon had been sparse. Rather than looking as though they would crash into each other, the swarm reminded me of animations I’ve seen of the Universe – vast spaces between the stars, the emptiness ever expanding. My morning coffee time was seldom interrupted by the delightful presence of these wonderful creatures. I missed them!

My observation of other critters gave me some clues as to why there had been so few dragonflies. My research supported my observations. Early spring brought our few eastern phoebes to the yard to nest, just as it had for years. As the season went on, I realized we had more than a few phoebes in the yard. I was surprised to see them in all parts of the yard and across the street since they are not known to flock together. I guessed each had enough of its own space. Phoebes are one of the species that catch insects in flight. During the course of the summer, I often spotted a phoebe swoop down through the air and return to perch on the telephone wire or fence with a dragonfly in its beak.

Still, it seemed to me that the phoebes and other birds that catch insects in flight couldn’t be responsible for such a drastic reduction of dragonflies. Then I realized I needed to research the developmental stages of the dragonfly. Dragonfly larvae live in water! My attention turned to the little pond out back. We had salamanders, turtles and a bumper crop of frogs all of which eat larvae. Since we don’t use pesticides, my hunch is that the pond residents gobbled up the dragonfly larvae resulting in a small adult population. To further exacerbate the problem, dragonflies eat mosquito larvae, which would be a good thing except that the larvae is in the pond shared by the frogs that eat adult dragonflies as well as their larvae. Oh, the circle of life is sometimes sad.

Since we do not use pesticides, this seemed like a good explanation for the small dragonfly population - until I thought about the damselflies. Damselfly eggs are laid on vegetation in the water, they hatch into nymphs that live in the water and as adults they live near the water, even skimming over it during mating season. This past summer the damselfly population was huge, greater than I had ever seen it. Perhaps the pond critters only had a yen for dragonflies? Oh, the circle of life is sometimes very mysterious!