Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Although, most years, trees are already denuded by November and autumn hues are gone, this time many trees still boast their true colors. They're a breathtaking experience each time I walk by them. This one, in particular, is a glorious beauty and the photographs cannot do justice to how its leaves glimmer in the sunshine. It is a feast for the eyes and it invites me to stop and look and look some more.
In my work on Sophia Peabody, I've written about how she complained that her letter readers in New England (mostly her family in Salem but also friends in Boston and including her husband-to-be Nathaniel Hawthorne) would not believe what she had to tell about her experiences in Cuba, where she spent 18 months to recover from migraines that had turned her into a near-invalid. She bemoaned the fact that words simply were not enough to describe a Cuban sunset or the full moon shining, unfettered, in an indigo sky above the coffee plantation where she spent her time on the island. I understand how she felt because words, and not even the camera, can express, or capture, the glory of fall around these parts. There is a sense of loss, of sadness, at the fact that such beauty cannot be replicated or captured, except in the recesses of memory, where it will ultimately fade, like dying stars do. Sophia Peabody sketched what she saw and, as her biographer has said, created "word paintings" to translate from her to her readers' eyes. I have the advantage of photographs which, though they can't equal what I see, they can at least give you an approximation of what it might be.
What is most touching is that the glory of fall is made up of each individual leaf. Recently, as I walked Lizzy on a carpet of fallen leaves, I realized that each one is, like a life, unique for that one year in which it sprouts on a tree. Another leaf will be born next spring but it's another one. These ones, the ones still hanging on for dear life, will never come again. They've had their moment in the sun, and, on so many trees this fall, the leaves are determined to make the very best of it up until the very last minute. Seems like a good attitude to me.
Also clamoring for attention around here recently has been Lazarus, the possum, which was completely unafraid recently when my husband went outside with his camera (the photo above is also his and you can tell because it's so much better than any of mine could be). Lazarus was the possum, as you may remember, that Rusty "killed" a few times in years past but who would always reappear, just as my husband said he would. But then we moved away from here and had no more Lazarus stories to tell.
We're not sure if this is Lazarus' great-grandson or Lazarus himself, but there's a possum that still hangs out on the porch. There's no dog to "kill" it anymore (Lizzy is now safely gated in the backyard) so it's obviously thriving. Neither one of us had ever seen such a huge possum before!
Also doing well is Hester, our feral cat who lives on the porch now. She's been there since we trapped and rescued her litter and since she was returned to us spayed by a rescue group that kept her kittens. On blustery days, like today, she's nowhere to be seen and I worry very much about her out in the cold. But on warmer days she eats and sleeps and plays and brings us her kills (mostly birds and moles and mice) to the porch, though she won't let us touch her, even after all these months. Perhaps by next year, in spring (and I can't believe we're almost at the end of 2013!), Hester will finally trust us and let herself be petted. We'll have to see.
Posted by Boricua en la Luna at 2:09 PM
Friday, November 1, 2013
October came and went in a flurry of wind-blown multicolored leaves. Most of the month was spent, of course, working here in front of my computer, with Darwin being the most "helpful" furry child of them all. I had to give up working on that old, cheap Target desk because the keyboard drawer gave up the ghost so I'm now working on a smaller, cheaper Target desk until, someday, I get a desk that is actually worthy of that noun.
The month started off with the partial renovation of our old kitchen (yes, there's a pattern of "renewal" here) with lovely black granite countertops to replace the warped 1980s Formica ones that we had. Later in the month, we splurged on new appliances (not shown on the photo below) after the ancient dishwasher (pictured) went kaput. I am ecstatic that I now have a gas-fired oven that doesn't cook food at 75 degrees above what you set the temperature at, like the old one did. I have to thank my gynecologist (of all people) for pointing us to an appliance discount store to make this change feasible for us.
October was also the month when the cold set in quickly and irrevocably, and we found Chiquita trying to keep warm any which way she could. There is nothing fun about the day when we put down the storm windows for good (that means no windows will be opened for the remainder of the year), and when the timer on the living room light gets set back to 5:30 p.m.
This also was the month when our new president, the first African American president at my small college on the hill, was inaugurated and I was asked by Harvard's president to act as delegate. My Alma Mater sent a Crimson gown for me to wear that day and I was proud to represent Harvard at the inauguration, while at the same time wearing my Ohio State hood.
This month was unusual in that, by month's end, a lot of the leaves were still on the trees, which was nice for my mom, who usually comes to visit for my birthday once the trees are all mostly denuded. But not this time. The colors were bright and lovely still.
Last night, on the 31st, I rushed home after a busy day (as usual) at work so I could be in my appointed place when Beggar's Night began. The blustery, rainy, cold weather prevented us from having the usual troops of children accompanied by their parents but I still got to enjoy the evening and most of our candy was gone by the time we turned off the lights and called it a night.
Posted by Boricua en la Luna at 10:31 AM
Monday, October 7, 2013
October is here and, with it, comes my favorite "holiday" -- Halloween -- and, of course, my birthday, a few days before that.
Tonight, my husband and I put up our ancient purple bat lights, which I love, and which I must have gotten when we first moved to Ohio 12 years ago (I think at Kmart), and the huge plastic Jack O'Lantern, which we like to place on top of the cat shelf in front of one of the upstairs windows so it looks creepily into the cool October nights.
This weekend, I had another close encounter with the Emergency Room on Saturday, after hosting friends for dinner. But all is well that ends well since I didn't have to spend the night there. So far so good. Knock on wood. And on anything else that brings good fortune.
This week we have October Break, which is a welcome respite and "catch up" time, and I will look very much forward to being able to stay home and enjoy the days off from having to commute.
Posted by Boricua en la Luna at 7:43 PM
Saturday, September 28, 2013
A transitional month between summer and fall, September tends to be always bring surprises. The warm days and the cool nights feel transitional and toggle us between being able to open windows (like my basement window above, which Hester (our outside feral cat) likes to peek into), and seeing the start of the color change in the leaves, which becomes glorious by October.
The greatest surprise for me in September was ending up in the hospital, after I thought I was "been there done that" with the experience. Turns out my heart medication acted up and, some scary moments and two ambulance rides later, ended up in our nearby hospital overnight. Thankfully, the new medication my cardiologist prescribed works so I'm out of the hospital and back to nearly full speed, though, for the sake of learning from prior mistakes, I won't be resuming that pre-age-of-52 healthy-non-electrically-challenged-heart pace I used to keep.
My sister in law sent me a beautiful flower arrangement, and the stay in the hospital, as usual, makes me appreciate the bluest sky so much more (as well as the ability to look at the sky at all!). Nothing like an experience involving an ambulance to put everything back and very quickly into perspective.
Because my husband was traveling to Maine with his parents to see his sister, my mom came to visit and we got to see "Jersey Boys," which was a hoot, and to take walks with the dog, and to eat out at good restaurants, and we had a lovely time.
Yes, September has been full of surprises but it's also been full of a sense of gratefulness and thankfulness and fullness for the love and the people and the possibilities in my life.
Posted by Boricua en la Luna at 8:38 AM
Monday, September 9, 2013
Now that the semester is in full swing and I spend most days reading for and prepping classes, or grading, or on email scheduling events, or thinking ahead to what's coming down the pipeline this semester, the weekend is a welcome respite.
Unlike Maggie Smith's character in Downton Abbey, the Dowager Duchess, who has to ask "What is a week-end?" I love the unscripted days of the week's end. This past one, in particular, there was such a feel of laziness-producing warmth that it was hard to get motivated to do much school work, though some always needs to get done, regardless. On such days, I get possessed by my Country Housewife spirit and begin to look for household chores and projects to embark on.
This Saturday, it was hard not to be outside, with Lizzy, who is always on her tireless squirrel patrol in the back yard, enjoying the sun and the balmy breezes of this late summer that will too-soon turn into fall (only two weeks away!).
The day felt slow and unhurried, and Darwin and Hamlet had the right idea, napping companionably together on our bed. While Magellan, ever the anti-social She-Devil Cat, preferred to hide on top of my pile of jeans and T-shirts in my closet.
Chiquita would rather be inside than outside, too, and routinely takes over Lizzy's bed (of course, when Lizzy isn't around), and pretends that it's her big-girl bed.
The day was so lovely that we got on the motorcycle and went to the Lynd Fruit Farm in search of Honeycrisp apples, the best this season can offer.
One of my old grad school friends, who lives nearby, texted us an impromptu invitation to dinner (another aspect of living here that I love!) and we contributed an open-faced apple pie made from scratch with the delicious Honeycrisps.
Saturdays have become the day that I (with apologies to my gluten-free friends) make my favorite Artisan bread, which my husband always knows how to shape for the best results. The dough isn't kneaded and it must rise for five hours before it's put in the refrigerator overnight so it does take some planning. But on Sunday we have the best homemade bread, similar in texture to my favorite Pan Pepín in Puerto Rico.
This time, my husband tried something new and used a loaf pan and the bread came out perfect! There are few things in the kitchen that give me more pleasure than making bread. There is just something so ancient and so wonderful about it and, thankfully, since we both love and can eat yeast breads, I am going to try to make it a weekly tradition. (I remember, growing up, how Sundays were Italian food day and my mami would make the most delicious manicotti, which I really should try to make sometime...)
Thank God for weekends!
Posted by Boricua en la Luna at 11:14 AM