Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Morning Memories

This morning, still half-asleep, I rolled over and asked my husband what time it was. It was 8:20 a.m. and I should have been awake and out of bed at least half an hour earlier. I didn’t jump up right away, but lay there thinking for a few minutes, letting my mind wander wherever it needed to go.
In the year and a few months since my father died some of his more endearing quirks have come back to me. You know those things parents do that embarrass or frustrate us when we’re kids and later seem kind of sweet? Those things. My father wasn’t an easy man to be raised by, so there aren’t many moments that I can describe as sweet or warm. But, thankfully, some memories settle on me gently these days. My father never lost his “old country ways”. His place in the world was strictly defined by his speech patterns and attitudes and he held fast to that to the end.
This morning I remembered the way he’d give the time; it was half past, five of, or a quarter past, with no reference to the hour. Half past what? 3:00? 5:00? It was yet another fine point of contention between generations and cultures, in the power struggle between parent and teen.
Today I’m a little sad, not because I miss him – we never had enough relationship to miss now – but because we never had enough relationship for me to miss him now. He was, in many ways, a good man who did his best. That’s what I think about now. I remember that he sang at the top of his lungs, horrifying us kids because the neighbors could hear. An overheard turn of phrase or line of dialog in a movie reminds me of my father in his better moments. And some of his not so great moments.
It’s the nature of loss and grief that memories sneak up on us in quiet times. In the ten minutes it took me to completely wake up and start my day I missed my father.
The clock on the wall reads a quarter past.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Worm Glow in Winter

A while back I wrote about how much I’d like to have worm beds for composting and that I have a love/hate relationship with worms. I like the idea…not so much the slippery, wriggling reality. You might remember that we have a big, round composting ball that breaks down our kitchen scraps pretty quickly; I love that thing.
At the very end of last year, the week between Christmas and New Year, I got a horrible cold. It was the mother of all head colds and I was truly miserable. I came out of it glad to be part of the world again and thankful to have a husband who cooks, makes pharmacy runs, and buys trash magazines without complaint. (Because, really, you’ve got to have mindless reading when you’re sick, and People magazine fits the bill perfectly.) I learned I’m not a terribly cheery person when I don’t feel well – there may have been some whining going on and I looked like hell. I’m still newly-wed enough to be slightly appalled to have my husband see me like that, and old mature enough to know that “for better or worse” includes colds.  
The few times I was out of bed and downstairs in the kitchen I looked out the sliding glass door at my frost-covered composter and wondered if any of the worms who’d made it home during the warmer months were surviving the cold weather. I was sure they’d all frozen to death just as I was getting more comfortable with their sliminess.
Last week I finally made it out feed the bin and check on their welfare, peering in, for a long time, with a flashlight one night after work. (I’m sure the neighbors think I’m a crackpot; clothesline, compost bins, prayer flags over the garden beds – our suburban, golf course hugging neighborhood just doesn’t see much of that.) Not only were the worms alive and well, but the bin was warm. I can’t tell you how relieved and excited I was. Worms and heat. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year's Phrase

It’s a new year, bright and shiny and full of possibilities, but there will be no resolutions made; they only bring out the defiant child in me and I end up breaking them all, not caring that it costs me the achievement of a goal. Instead, I’ve decided to adopt a phrase, a nudging reminder that there are changes afoot and now is the time to make them.
A few of the changes are standard – exercise more, make better food choices. Most of us know those goals very well. Some are more personal, rising from questions that barreled at me around my birthday last year. There’s no doubt I’ve entered the phase of life called “mid”. It’s not the half-way point (or, most likely, beyond), but the point at which the balance can shift. I can be lazy and it’s all downhill from here, or, better, I can take a good, long look at what I need to be to stay happy, healthy, and contributing to this world. Fixing a goal in mind does no good if I do nothing to support getting there.
My reminder, the whisper in my ear, will be a question: If not now … when? There has to be a starting point for everything and it is now. Otherwise it’s always tomorrow, next week, after the holiday, when I have more money, when the cows come home and pigs fly.  When I’m tempted to slide it will be the question that calls me to make a choice – if not now, when? That doesn’t mean I’ll always follow through. Good lord, where would the fun be in that? But a conscious choice is always better than being an old horse following the same track home every night.  There are lots more trails to be explored and this year, now, I intend to gallop a little.