Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weeding Day

Ten years ago today I underwent the surgery that saved my life and gave me a second chance, a Part II that has been a great ride so far.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate a decade of Second Chances than going to IHOP for breakfast and then spending the afternoon weeding. Yes, weeding.

The flower beds in our old house in the small city were overrun by weeds after three-plus years of utter neglect once we moved out and rented. Today, after my husband mowed the yard (basically a whole month earlier than usual thanks to the warmer-than-normal temperatures), I waged war on the weeds.

While I couldn't finish all the flower beds because my hands started to hurt (not being used to the hard manual labor of pulling the roots and hoeing), I got about two hours worth of work in and the flower beds look significantly better than they did when I started.

The process of weeding, I realized, is quite applicable to life as a metaphor, especially to a day like today when I'm celebrating ten years of a life's change.

I think there should be lots of "weeding" days in our lives, days when we pull up and throw away what prevents our personal flower beds from blooming and takes away the energy and the nutrients that the good things we've planted in ourselves need to subsist.

It may sound silly or corny but a Weeding Day is a good thing, and I plan to make sure my flower beds -- both figurative and literal -- are in top shape from now on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

11 years ago...

While winter in Ohio has a way of hanging on beyond when Buckeye Chuck (the local version of the forecasting groundhog) predicts it will (sometimes it seems endless!), this winter has not been much of such. Even though today is the official start of spring, spring sprang about two weeks ago, as our glorious magnolia tree attested this weekend, when it started to bloom.

On that same day, very strong spring storms rolled through the area and we had tornado sirens wailing their eerie cry for what seemed like hours but, thankfully, other than impressive clouds and a lightning and thunder show, there was no damage to report.

Also this weekend, Hamlet managed to either get into a bad fight with a neighboring cat or barely escape a mauling by the neighbor's dogs (we're not sure which since he appears to have been involved in both). That meant a very costly trip to the vet on Monday for treatment of bites, one of which required sutures and which forces him to take pain medication and wear a T-shirt I adapted for such purposes (instead of the Elizabethan collar that he would simply hate) so he can refrain from licking or taking out the sutures for the next 10 days (let's hope Hamlet, our  most good natured animal, knows how to cultivate patience).

Meanwhile, outside everything is greening, the birds are positively chipper, the daffodils have bloomed, and we can see where the peonies, the bleeding hearts, and even the roses are getting ready for their turn in the spring spotlight. While I can't celebrate climate change, I also can't complain that I've spent the day in shorts and a T-shirt when, 11 years ago on March 20, the day after I arrived in Ohio, it snowed.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring forward

Although I'm most definitely not a fan of the day in March when we lose an hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time, I have to say that I didn't mind the extra hour of light this evening to give Lizzy a longer walk. Today was wonderfully spring-like, with temperatures in the high 60s so that I was able to turn off the heat in the house and actually open the sliding glass door to the deck and leave the screen door in place for an hour or so to aerate the house a little.

I also got the chance to sit on the deck for a while, doing some light reading while watching the furry children enjoy themselves in the balmy weather. I've always loved this transition between winter (well, this has been the winter-that-wasn't) and spring because it feels like a resurrection, and I'm very much intro practicing resurrection (a term my dear friend Dr. S taught me a long, long time ago).

Earlier this week, the full moon made a spectacle of herself in the twilit sky, a luna de toros, as the old Spanish song goes about a young bull that falls in love with the moon.

There was also a lot of rain recently, before the days warmed up (this week is promised to be all in the high 60s and even 70s!) so that Lizzy got to wear her brand new doggy rain coat, though not happily. Indeed, she refused to move until I folded the hood back so that her ears were out and flopping, as she likes it, even in the pouring rain.

Chiquita, meanwhile, has taken to trolling the kitchen floor (where she looks like a miniature) for any food debris she might get the benefit of.

All in all, all is well here in our old new house in our new old neighborhood. There is no movement on the house near my small college on the hill but this coming weekend it'll be two months since we placed it for sale so it's not yet time to despair. As you can imagine, my husband and I are both very eager to be done with that financial responsibility and to get on with our lives, so to speak. But patience is a virtue that is much needed at this time so I'll try my best to exercise this most elusive of skills for me

Indeed, only nine days away from official spring, I can only but be immensely grateful for everything just as it is.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sleeping dogs

We got back home on the 25th and things quickly returned to normal in our household, as this photo of me pretending to sleep while Chiquita and Lizzy made themselves comfortable for the same purpose, attests.

The idea of spending those weeks in Puerto Rico was one of the best I've had in a long, long time. I've found it hard to return to those levels of productivity now that I'm back home because there's always something else that can and should get done in competition with writing or thinking or reading. But I'm giving myself a few days to account for the re-entry and then I'll be full steam ahead drafting the last full chapter of the book, which needs to be created from scratch.

The good thing is that the invited talk I gave at OSU on Friday, which went wonderfully and was so well attended by students that I thought they had been "coerced" to be there (the professors said that was not the case), served for me to start drafting ideas for the final chapter on Delany's Blake, or the Huts of America. The faculty respondent's response to my paper and the students' questions all worked wonders to help me figure out clearly what the chapter needs to do. The plan is to follow that yellow-brick road to completion by the end of the month. Then it's on to the chapter on Alcott, which is about half done, and to complete an intro and a conclusion by May, when I travel again to Harvard to the Alcott exhibit at the Houghton. I'll then have a few people read the manuscript before I submit it to the press editor before the August deadline.

It's exciting to feel that the manuscript is coming together well and that I have been able to accomplish my goals during this year-long leave, while also having important down time from the crazy busy semesters at school. My purpose, when I return to the classroom in the fall, is to finally figure out how not to go crazy and I intend to carry that through. I want to prove to myself that I can do this so wish me luck!

Meanwhile, being back in Bexley has meant reconnecting with friends who live in Columbus and having the ability to get together with them regularly, something that didn't happen much when we lived near my small college on the hill. There I felt often isolated and sometimes even lonely, which is not usual for me since I very much appreciate the gift of solitude. But many of my friends at school have obligations that understandably make it hard to get together regularly or for a leisurely coffee date now and then. I'm enjoying this new ability to do that since I've come to realize how important those moments to connect are for me.

Now, if only winter would end early and spring begin in earnest, everything would be more than alright.