Putting the garden to bed


When winter’s chill at last draws near,

I put away summer that is so dear,

snipping dead plants over there and here,

putting the garden to bed.

A gnarled old maple drops a  leaf,

spent Day Lilies wither in a sheaf,

hostas hide yellowed leaves underneath,

putting the garden to bed.

Bright mums and sedum get a reprieve,

while dimmed summer daisies must take their leave,

and dead grass into the bin I heave,

putting the garden to bed.

As you can see, I love summer. Summer is the time when I can let  inside work slide. Piano practice music gathers dust on the rack.  Shirts awaiting the iron form first a pile, then a bunker. Junk mail piles up. Knitting sits idle. But summer novels get read and reread on warm sunny beaches and long airplane rides. I walk miles on the beach, feeling clean white Michigan sand beneath my toes.  But perhaps my favorite day-to-day part of summer is the garden. From pulling away wet dead leaves in the spring to reveal brave shoots peaking up from the cold ground, to deadheading purple petunias and red geraniums, to watching iridescent hummingbirds sip from purple fuchsia, I enjoy it all. My gardening time is about new life, growth, death, and rebirth. Each year the cycle begins anew, fresh and full of promise. And as autumn slips in, it is also about putting it all to bed, with the promise of spring to bring it all back to me again.

© Huffygirl 2016

Photos and original poem by Huffygirl ©2016.

 

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Surprise me


Rock Island boat house, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2012I was bored. I had been home too long. I was tired of everything. Tired of all the food in the house, the TV shows, my books and games. I needed a change.

Since my son was getting ready to do the grocery shopping, in a moment of desperation I added a hasty scrawl to the bottom of the list:  “surprise me with something good and fun.” I was expecting that he’d come home with a candy bar or a box of Oreos.

Instead, he brought me light. Four shimmery little solar lanterns. I pulled out the tag and immediately was surprised with a pretty silvery glow. I tucked the lanterns into the garden, among the emerging hostas and grasses. The little lights were just right, casting a pleasing shimmery circle among the greenery. Suddenly everything seemed new and hopeful again. Sometimes all we need is just a little light.

© Huffygirl 2015

Mother’s Day


IMG_6402 crop2, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2015This weekend we set aside a day to honor mothers. While this should be a day where we honor the sacrifices our mother made to give us life, to teach, and to nurture us, instead it often becomes a day for cynics to arise and promote negative ideas about Mother’s Day. Some say that mother’s day denigrates women who do not choose motherhood. Others say it makes those with bad mother’s or unhappy childhoods feel sad and isolated. Still others think that the commercialization of this holiday has ruined it, making all things Mother’s Day cheap and insincere. I could go on.

In the late 1800’s Anna Jarvis espoused a wish to have a day to honor all mothers, and wrote this prayer: “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”  Anna appreciated her own mother and recognized the difficulty of the work of mothering, and its contribution to society. She was intelligent enough to know that honoring  one group, i.e. mothers, does not defame or lessen the importance of  non-mothers and others. She worked tirelessly to have mother’s day established as a national holiday, and it finally was declared  so in 1914. Anna later regretted the commercialization of Mother’s Day, but held true to her belief that mothers should be honored.

In this country we have many days set aside to honor different people and things. Some are silly, like National Hat Day, or fun like National Pie Day. Some are serious like Veteran’s Day, and some are overly commercialized, like Valentine’s Day, and yes, Mother’s Day. Should we then not celebrate pie because cake will feel hurt?  Are socks insulted on Hat Day? Do non-veterans become offended on Veteran’s Day? The answer to all of these questions is of course, no. In a mature and enlightened society, we should have the common sense to recognize that honoring one group does not insult the opposite group. As a nation, we must not lose sight of the reasons we have chosen to recognize certain ones – for dedication, loyalty, commitment, service. These values matter and deserve to be honored.

This Mother’s Day I will remember my mom for all she did for me, and all mothers for their contribution to society.

© Huffygirl 2015

A Christmas tree for Scarface


A storm brewing over the tree farm, or my finger over the lens?

A storm brewing over the tree farm, or my finger over the lens?

Suppose you’re feeling down because you fell and broke your face, and nothing has seemed right since. What could cheer you up more than going out to cut a Christmas tree on a bright sunny day, unless of course you are Jewish, in which case, it wouldn’t cheer you up at all. But, since I am not Jewish, is was just the what I needed.

Best Husband and I loaded up the family van, which ironically, has no family at all to ride in it, and headed out with the required accoutrements:

  • a genuine 1960’s snowmobile suit, a wardrobe staple since our kids were old enough to be embarrassed by their parent’s outfits
  • a beat-up orange hand saw, rescued from my dad’s garage, also circa 1960
  • old shoes and boots for slogging through the tree farm mud
  • an entry coupon for the tree farm’s annual  “Win $500 dollars” drawing, which we have dutifully completed since 1974, and as far as we know, has never been won by anyone

A half hour later we had reached our destination: a family owned local Christmas tree farm, which despite being within spitting distance of my childhood home, I had never visited until I grew up, moved away  and married the man with the snowmobile suit.

Being Christmas tree pros, we headed right to the Douglas Fir section. Eschewing our usual tactic of wandering around among 50 to 75 trees and finally picking one when we were too cold to no longer care, we instead drove to the far end of the Douglas Fir section, ogling the choices along the way. In the end, when we finally got out to walk among the tree choices, we picked the second one we saw. This sure beats our usual method of letting our frozen brains make the choice, and was ironic to boot, since the day was especially balmy for Michigan, and we could have afforded to wander among the trees for some time without risk of freezing.

Best Husband, grounded.

Best Husband, grounded.

The rest of our cut your own Christmas tree tradition involved our handing over the tree to underpaid tree farm workers, who stand out in the cold all day and half the night from Thanksgiving to December 24th, putting trees through the shaker and baler and helping city folks load them into their yuppie vans and SUVs. Sometimes this includes broad gestures and lots of nodding if the workers happen to be non-English speaking migrants, which only adds to the charm of this annual event.

Once home, our tree awaits the appropriate time for decorating, as BH and I are not the kind of people who put up Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving.

Trees for Christmas Future.

Trees for Christmas Future.

Related post:

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Kling (huffygirl.wordpress.com)

Christmas shopping=bah humbug (huffygirl.wordpress.com)

© Huffygirl 2013

 

 

Why I will bike no more


Bike Helmet

I used to bike a lot. Not professional cyclist or racer, just recreational cyclist. Best Husband and I, once freed of the penury of child rearing, developed our own hobbies and interests and eventually invested in good road bikes. We’d spend hours out of every summer biking together, enjoying the scenery and companionship. I will miss biking, but I will bike no more. And here is why.

Flash backwards about four weeks ago. I’m sitting on the side of the road, a good vacation gone bad, with blood pouring out of my nose. One friend is holding my head steady while another is staunching the blood with tissues. Meanwhile horrified onlookers stand by while I’m sobbing and trying not to sob at the same time, shaking hot and cold and wishing I had never ridden my bike that day.

A fun bike ride with friends had turned into every cyclist’s nightmare:  a face first over handlebars freak accident. Soon  the ambulance arrives, and my husband and I ride to the barely adequate  urgent care clinic. Once there, a third-year resident who acts more like a third-year med student takes over my care. Everyone asks me the same questions incessantly, writes them down, but no one looks at the answers. My jaws are sloshing painfully back and forth and I finally motion for a clipboard. Then, holding my swollen eye open so I can see, I write a pretty coherent med list, allergies, and answers to all their questions, while the medical indifference swells around me. As I sit in the clinic bay, no blanket offered, I realize I’m getting woozy and faint, chilled and hot at the same time, and suggest they might want to think about getting me a blanket and starting an IV.

Later, I endure an ambulance ride across the Mackinac Bridge and farther south to get to the closest real hospital, about 45 minutes away. With my face and body throbbing, I convince myself that moaning softly and keeping my eyes closed will relieve the pain, since no one has offered to give me anything to soothe the awful  throbbing during what is normally a very pleasant drive.

After x-rays and CTs, it is confirmed. My face is broken. All of it. The orbits, the delicate maxillae, and my already somewhat crooked nose – smashed into shards of bone. A week or so later I have grueling surgery to put it all back together. The plastic surgeon using screws and plates, delicately reassembles the puzzle that had become my face. The shards of bone, now held in place with metal, have put my face somewhat back together, though it no longer feels like my face. Places that once were soft are now hard, metallic, crooked, numb. It is not a perfect face, though,it was a pretty ordinary face before. Time will tell if it becomes the face that I had before, or something close enough to it, or if it will remain a hideously skewed semblance of a face that makes polite people look away and rude people stare.

No one told me that I must give up biking. I had biked nearly 5,000 miles, with no hint of a serious accident, and chances are, could bike another 5,000 in my lifetime without incident. But, it somehow feels wrong, to take my patchwork of bones back out onto the road, where anything might happen in the blink of an eye. It seems like an insult to my surgeon, and to myself and my family for all we’ve gone through, to tempt that fate again. I feel grateful to have a face, to still have life, and to not have suffered more serious injury than what I already had. And so, I will bike no more.

© Huffygirl 2013

To Gabriele


Ken  Caryl Canyon

Gabriele died last week after a long illness. I have never met her, but thanks to her daughter, Suzanne at Walking Papers Blog, I feel like I have. For months, Suzanne has shared Gabriele’s journey, her prose interspersed with photos, poems and stories about her mom’s life, and finally, death. Stories about family. Photos of Gabriele and her daughters and grandchildren. In an unflinchingly frank journal, Suzanne shared the gritty details of a beloved family member’s gradual separation from this life and her step into the next.

As I read I sometimes laughed, sometimes cried, but always felt empathy for Suzanne and her family thousands of miles away, yet so close. And through it all, I relived my  own mom’s brief illness and death, recalling the good, the bad, and the journey of her life. Others felt the same way, as Suzanne’s journal brought friends and strangers together in a community of followers of the story of Gabriele.

The internet can be a monster  – it can sap us of our free time and energy, with cat videos, FB and endless news cycles. But it can be a blessing too, making us part of a community across a nation or across an ocean, bringing us together as we share our stories and making our world a smaller place.

I wish peace to Gabriele who is now at rest, and peace to all who trek through their own journey across this world that is not so big after all.

© Huffygirl 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in pictures


What a year!

© Huffygirl 2013

Welcome to Christmas Card Lane


Christmas card lane, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2012

While out running this morning, I noticed one of my neighbors had placed a quaint reminder of Christmas long ago in his front yard: a handmade, painted Christmas card sign, propped up in the front yard, with a spot light to illuminate it at night. “Seasons greetings from the _______” it proclaimed, it’s elf and reindeer resplendent upon the four by four sheet of genuine plywood. Seeing this immediately brought me back to  a simpler time, when folks in my city lined up in their cars to see  “Christmas Card Lane” each Christmas season.

There was a certain street in my city which  each year, proclaimed itself “Christmas Card Lane.” Residents erected a huge sign at the entrance to the street, which said “Welcome to Christmas Card Lane” painted  across a Currier and Ives  back ground. Then, for about the next three weeks, cars would line up nightly to drive down Christmas Card Lane and see the handmade Christmas cards that the majority of the homeowners displayed in their front yards. More than once we joined this queue, kids in the back seat, slowly creeping down the street among the bumper to bumper cars, to look at the homemade painted Christmas card signs propped up in the snowy yards of nearly every home.This was more than just a custom of a neighborhood putting out plywood Christmas cards.  No doubt the neighbors had a meeting each year to decide on the details for the Christmas card display, and helped each other put up and take down their signs. This simple event built community and fostered neighborly togetherness. No matter what your faith, how could you not like a neighbor who put a large message of peace and love in their front yard each year?

Today, this all sounds terribly quaint. I don’t think I’ve seen the big Christmas Card Lane sign for some time now. I expect that as the original homeowners died or moved away, new residents moving in probably said “What? Once a year we have to make a giant Christmas card, and set it up in our yard, so we can be held hostage in our own driveway while strangers clog up our street with traffic?” Today, folks are probably much too occupied to spend an hour or two on a snowy night driving slowly up and down a street to look at homemade Christmas yard signs. The kids in the back seat would no doubt be texting instead of peering out the windows with their noses pushed up against the cool glass. They might glance up from time to time, if only to film the spectacle to put on YouTube – with a title like “My parents are holding me hostage on Christmas Card Lane.”

But, it wasn’t just about driving down a street to see Christmas yard signs. It was about a family doing something traditional together, in a relaxing, unscheduled way. It usually involved hot chocolate and cookies after, with all of us gathered around the table, and nothing else distracting us or calling us away. No TV, smart phones or texts. What could be more important than a relaxing evening with your kids, doing nothing better than just being together?

Maybe my neighbor, with his plywood seasons greeting, will start a new tradition for my community. I think it would be a good thing.

© Huffygirl 2012

Related link: Waiting for Santa (huffygirl.wordpress.com)