Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The die is cast, the tax worksheet's been mailed...

Why does my gut get tied into knots every year when I need to sit down and fill in our tax worksheet? And why do I always leave it to the very last minute, knowing that April 15th is tax-filing day and, like Christmas on every December 25th, that does not change? I am always down to the wire for both! Ridiculous! Grow up & wise up, Buela!

Anyway--now that the envelope is literally out of my hands and, I hope, on its way to our faithful accountant in NJ, I am doing other important things: laundry, putting away most turtlenecks and other cold-weather clothes and bringing out the warm-weather duds, and editing my husband's book chapters, which have been waiting patiently in Dropbox for me to get my head straight. One chapter and the acknowledgments are done. Preface, dedication, and foreword were finished earlier. Getting back in the groove, so to speak.

Spring is here (for the nonce, anyway--there's snow in Colorado!) and it is glorious. Windows are open, screens are down, the air is balmy (and people are red-eyed and sneezy) and the crocuses are in full bloom, with some daffodils popping and forsythia beginning its yellow luciousness. The buds on our miniature cherry tree grow fatter. Those on the japonica by the stone wall are showing apricot. Life is good.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Whan that aprille...

Time to pull out my Chaucer and refresh my memory! I don't remember whether April is masculine or feminine for him, and I don't remember how to spell in Middle English! Fie, fie, and for shame... I do love Chaucer.

Wild that I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks. Wild that it is April. Life has been rather upsy-daizy of late, but more upsy than not. I've just been feeling so tired so much of the time. Energy for the morning pages I almost always manage to write first thing in the morning, when I read my thought for the day in Courage to Change, the little book I bought many moons ago and read daily, year after year. I find myself underlining and adding exclamation points and stars and brackets to parts I hadn't marked before. And I love being able to search the index for pages on compassion and facing reality and letting go and denial and such. A good companion as I wander through life. First comes my mug of coffee (fresh or nuked), then I read and think about what I've just read (or about something else that the page reminds me of), and then comes my journal, where I write at least one page most days (and sometimes two or three or more, but not often). I got into the habit of morning pages when I read Julia Cameron. At that time I was a freelancer, working at home, so I always wrote the three pages. Not so easy when you work someplace else! It's a routine I like. A fine way to begin the day.

Today was memoir group day. I do love our little group! It's my sangha (or one of them). Almost all of us were there today, and that was good. David brought prints of the group picture he asked the young man at Panera to take of us some time ago, and I am happy to have it. Sylvia, Gail, Marian, Philippa, David, Debbie, Chris, Irene, and Lisa sitting around our tables in the way-back of the Bedford Panera (in the ShopRite plaza). Today we listened to stories about dear friends who died, mothers-in-law and middle sons (and loud noises), returning to Guyana after 18 years away, a family curio cabinet that moved from Queens to White Plains to Mount Kisco, the unexpected joy of a day in Pawling, and a meditation on "home." We enjoy each other and our work, and our critiques are good--kind and specific and constructive.

I love seeing the color starting to seep back into the world! Clumps of crocuses and daffodils are here and there along the roads and the forsythia hints at what's to come. It won't be long, now. The sun is shining like crazy right now but it's a blustery day. Coat and scarf, sweater and turtleneck felt good.

Time to face the music: the tax worksheet awaits. Argh! How I hate that job!!! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Days off are great gifts

I love Saturdays when I don't work! They are a special gift, the first of two consecutive days off. I plan to dedicate this day to reading, as the books are piling up. No matter how often I suspend holds at the library, books still manage to sneak through and I can't bear to say "go away, I can't read you right now"! I am enjoying Phillip Lopate's essays so much that I now have three of his books on my shelf: To Show and To Tell, which I intend to finish today; Being with Children, an older book about the time that he taught them; and Portrait Inside My Head, a 2013 book of essays. And I'm still going with Frank Conroy's Stop-Time. This looks to be a fine day for reading. Overcast, with snow predicted this afternoon and evening. Huzzah!

The word "huzzah" makes me think of the man who stood on the corner of a street we often drove down in Lima. He wore a shabby jacket with cockeyed epaulets that were unraveling and he waved his arms and seemed to direct traffic (a silly thought, in Lima!). Karla (she was little then, just eight years old, and had not yet become Karli) called him The Drunken Hussar, a perfect name. Don't know how she came up with it, but it couldn't have been a better fit. He may or may not have been drunken. He most certainly was a person unto himself!

Later--Wondering what to eat to stop up my gut? I seem to recall that rice and cheese are both good. Don't think we have cheese but am pretty sure there's rice in the cupboard. Funny body. It decides from time to time that the time has come to clear things out. Glad I can be home and not at work. Gotta keep reading. Enough scribbling for the day. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A lazy day

I should have known, as I lay in bed until 8:30 this morning, that this would be one of those lazy days. I had such good intentions (and you know about them and the road to hell, right?) and I really did mean to carry out at least a few of them. But twas not to be. I did manage to get dressed and take a check down to our beloved J & J Service Station at the foot of the street. I'd left Bessie there yesterday afternoon for servicing and her annual inspection (and to have her new registration sticker affixed to the lower-left of the windshield). Mission accomplished, but then their credit card connection machine didn't work and Mr. J (the younger one, not the older curmudgeonly one) said just to bring him a check today. Imagine that in suburban NY, folks! It still happens here, and not just in the Midwest.

So I did carry out that intention. How could I not? As for the rest of them...I did write a little (but not the two letters I'd meant to write and mail today). And that's about it. And I don't even feel guilty about being lazy. After all, it is a grey, rainy day and my day off. Tonight, after supper, I will read. Phillip Lopate and Frank Conroy are waiting. For some reason I thought that Frank Conroy had written Prince of Tides, which I enjoyed reading but didn't think of as anything more than a pretty good novel. But I kept finding references to him and to his memoir, Stop-Time, as excellent. So I put a hold on the book and started reading, so captivated that I looked him up online and discovered that he had nothing to do with Prince of Tides. That was Pat Conroy. Frank was a totally different cat. (He died of cancer several years ago.) There's an excellent interview with him in the online version of Narrative magazine.

In Rome today the Catholic redbirds, the 100+ cardinals, are meeting in the first day of their conclave to elect a new pope. Black smoke today means no decision. That's not surprising. I guess they hope to choose someone and have him (of course; the pope is always a him) in place before Easter, which falls this year on March 25th. (I tried earlier today to understand how the date is chosen for Easter but quickly gave up. An Ecclesiastical Full Moon is too much for my little brain to deal with. I'll just figure it's the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, and leave it to the religious to give me an exact date each year.)

Time for supper.
 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Snowy Day...

March 8th--International (Working) Women's Day, 2013. Lots of snow during the night and into the morning. Better late than not at all, I suppose :-)

Called in as Cowardly Circ Clerk--no ganas to drive in this, particularly with other (hotshot) drivers on the hilly, curvy road. Tomorrow, yes. Today, no. Blessed to have a sane boss who'd rather have me feel safe than sorry. Thanks, Colleen!

Laughing this morning at videos on YouTube by Fairest2! So funny to hear the cats speaking French and to hear male voices! I will visit often. Merci, les chats! Merci, Fairest2! Merci, Judy!

Reading Phillip Lopate's excellent To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction, and enjoying it so much. I'm considering buying myself a copy and will definitely recommend it to others in the memoir group. What a treat it would be to take one of his classes! Talented brothers, he and Leonard.

I worked hard here at home yesterday, cleaning up and clearing out, and am indulging myself today. Cozy to be at home with husband and cats on what is still a wintry day. Daylight Saving time begins Sunday. Huzzah! Vernal equinox in two weeks. Spring *will* be here!
 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

O Happy Day!

It's 4:30 in the afternoon of what has been a very happy day. Glorious sunshine and relatively mild temperatures all day, wonderful and revealing conversation with Nick as we drank our morning coffee, good session with my memoir-writing group friends, good telephone visit with Kathie earlier this afternoon, no bills in the mail...my kind of day.

I've been feeling stuck in my writing for the past month or so--not knowing what to write or how to go about it, thinking that perhaps I'd reached the bottom of my creative "well," and that there was nothing more there that might be worth writing about. But I made myself write, anyway (and continue my long-standing routine of "morning pages" in a journal. That routine keeps my hand moving across the page, so that I don't really come to a grinding halt, physically. The mental and emotional side has had me quite worried, however. More distressed than worried, actually. I just have had that "dead in the water" feeling and didn't know what to do with it, or even whether there might be anything I could do. Talking with Nick this morning was such a great help! He suggested that perhaps I've come to the end of the stories I've carried so long, stories that I've thought of and worked and reworked in my head for eons, and that now I may be at a turning point of sorts. Perhaps now is the time to go to another layer, another level, to dig down and do what my Sarah Lawrence teachers all urged me to do: address what's gone on under the surface, what may be ugly and cruel and sad and negative instead of always trying to show the parts of my life and thoughts and emotions that fit an image I have (or want to project) of myself. 

The most recent piece I wrote (but did not read today) is perhaps my first tiny step in that direction, a sharing of the trip I took with Pascal, sketching the castles along the Rhine. I am still showing only some aspects but it's a step in the right direction, I think. I hope that I am on the brink of an exploration of ideas and experiences I've held in check, undercover, for decades. Thinking about writing in a new way and a new milieu, so to speak, is scary and exciting. Even if I do it only for myself, it will be good. Sharing it with Nick and the group may open up all sorts of good adventures. We shall see where it all goes. For now, I repeat: it's been a happy day.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Getting excited...

I am starting to get excited about my new incarnation of "Here We Are Together," a story time for little kids. I started it years ago (maybe 10?) at the Mount Pleasant public library and loved it. So did the little kids and their moms and other caregivers. And now, at the Mount Kisco public library, I'm about to start it up again. Just once a week, from 11:15 to 11:45 on Monday mornings, starting March 11th. I ordered additions to the story time goodies already stashed in the closet of the Children's Room: 5 little spotted frogs and their log, a bed for the 5 little monkeys to jump on, a barn for Old MacDonald and his animals, and the Little White Duck & friends. I ordered 24 egg shakers (the pieces de resistance for my earlier program--the kids loved them!). And today I ordered a hand puppet, the Folkmanis baby black bear. I can't replace the beloved "Mr. Bear" of the old HWAT, but look like a pretty good substitute. And then, after I paid the mortgage and went to the A&P, I stopped by a little carpet store not far from our house and finagled a dozen free carpet squares for us to sit on! So--it is coming together nicely, and I'm happy. It will be interesting to see how this new one goes, whether it catches on or just sits there. The libraries are quite different, as are the patrons. So--we shall see. I'm looking forward to getting back into the groove.

Pretty chilly today, and overcast. I have seen robins, though, and I trust that spring will be here in another month or six weeks. I've seen the little green tips of daffodil leaves peeking up in a couple of places.

Just finished reading a sweet little book by Sandra Cisneros: Have You Seen Marie?  Nice. I love her novel, Caramelo. One of my all-time favorites. I will put a hold on The House on Mango Street. Don't believe I've ever read it. Now it's back to The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.