Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring is Coming

There is still snow on the ground but it's slushy, and the icicles gracing the garage roof are dripping. The little witch hazel John planted last fall isn't blooming yet but it's only a year old, so perhaps next spring . . .

Last week-end during a lull in the snowy weather, we clipped some forsythia branches and brought them in, put them in water, and now – they are in full bloom, brightening up the dining room like a vase of fresh sunshine.

I tucked a few left-over sprigs into a juice glass and they are blooming on the kitchen windowsill.

And this morning while we were having coffee, our little songbird trilled and sang, treating us to a ten minute concert at the living room window.

Spring is on its way, no matter what the snowy forecast says!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Snow Reflections . . .

All this snowy weather has slowed life down just a bit. Slick roads and frigid temperatures act as a negative incentive for going out, and we content ourselves with a cozy fire, a quiet dinner, a good book, a little jazz on WGLT.

Sometimes we even indulge in conversation. We don't talk about the kids or what we have to do this week-end. Instead we discuss politics, or where we'd go if time and money weren't issues. We talk about last week's eclipse of the moon, or why we prefer river birch to sycamores - things we don't talk about when we're busy. We look at each other differently as we talk.

So I wonder, since it's so much fun to indulge in these quiet pleasures, why do we wait til we're practically snowed in to enjoy them?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Good Read . . .

I'm reading Ken Follett's book The Pillars of the Earth, and I can hardly put it down! Originally published in 1989, this book tells the story of building a cathedral in Kingsbridge, and includes fascinating characters, enough history and background to make a reader feel as if she is right there, and enough suspense to keep me turning pages.

One of my favorite characters just died, and I feel as if I should send flowers or a card!

Follett tells the story bluntly, with scenes of graphic violence and sex (this isn't a book for the faint-hearted) and as my son-in-law Jack (who happens to be reading the same book!) said, “ How much more can these people take?”

It's a good reminder that life presents challenges to all of us, and that what matters is how we meet those challenges.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Magnificent . . . Hats

I was at a Hearts at Home organizational meeting this morning, where we were previewing the theme for this year's conferences: Ooh La La: Moms are Magnificent.

The room was decorated so we would have a taste of the conference decorations, including small models of pretty, big-brimmed hats. I was reminded of my grandmother, who loved hats.

One of my favorite memories of my grandma is the day she took me uptown to Livingston's Department Store. I knew we would be stopping by the dime store lunch counter later, but a pink hat in Livingston's window caught my eye – and grandma's. We went inside, where the salesladies knew her by name. She asked if we might see the pretty pink hat, and I tried it on.

Perfect,” she said to me, and “We'll take it” to the saleslady.

I wore that hat to church for several years, always with pleasure, until finally I outgrew it. By that time women were giving up their hats and gloves, except for grandma and her friends.

Later this afternoon I was at our local mall, and walked by a hat store – only this time the hats were all ball caps, for boys and men - no women's hats in sight.

I wonder what grandma would have thought of that!

Fashion changes. Most women don't wear hats and gloves much anymore, but who knows? Maybe hats will come back into fashion again . . .

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Urban Fox, and Ducks . . .

We haven't seen our little fox for a few days now, but three pair of ducks have been splashing in the creek between snowstorms.

I hope they've read Robert McCloskey's book Make Way for Ducklings, and know to watch for foxes in the woods . . . each spring for the past few years we've had ducks in the creek, and ducklings. We hold our breath until we see how many ducklings there will be each spring, then watch as the ducklings learn to navigate the tricky waters of our small creek, and make their way around the back yard.

It's something to look forward to while the snow is flurrying.

Remembering the Grocery Bags . . .

I forgot the bags again.

I've been collecting grocery bags – the permanent kind that replace plastic or paper – but I can't seem to remember to take them with me into the store.

So I end up standing in line trying to decide if I should just purchase a few more (at $1 a bag they aren't too expensive unless you buy them with every grocery order) or if I should just resign myself to bringing the plastic bags back with me next time to put into the recycle barrel just inside the store.

If I put the bags in the back seat of the car, they are in the way if someone is riding back there, which doesn't happen often, or if I have a lot of stuff to bring along, which does happen a lot.

If I put them in the trunk of the car, it's the old “out of sight, out of mind” problem.

If I keep them on the closet door I might remember them when I go to get my coat, if I wear my coat and if I remembered to hang it in the closet when I last came in.

I think permanent grocery bags are a good idea. Now I just have to figure out how to retrain my brain to remember to take them along.

How do you recycle?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Conversation Starter

Why do we all talk so much about the weather?

We can't change it, at least not in the short term, although it seems more and more likely we may be changing it in the long term.

The weather affects everything we do, and at least regionally, it's something we experience in common. It's a handy conversation starter – almost everyone has an opinion about the rain, the heat, the cold – and most of us find it hard to argue about. And if you're stuck for something to say when you are talking to someone far away, you can always ask “how's the weather out there?”

Around here lately, it seems as if the weather is stuck on a “sample” page – we get a little of everything. This morning it's raining, but wait – by lunchtime we'll have sun. Before dinner there will be sleet on the driveway, and by bedtime we'll have a few inches of snow down. South of here they have tornado watches, and flood watches, and lots of conversational fodder for tomorrow.

The weather doesn't require a lot of conversational creativity, and people of all ages can discuss it. You don't have to know about inversions or be able to name specific clouds, although I'd give you extra points if you could.

Talking about the weather is often conversational filler. It's what we talk about when we can't think of anything else to say. But if global warming is real, talking about the weather may be far more important than we realize.

The weather may affect everything we do in ways we don't even understand yet, with implications for how we use natural resources, how we recycle, how we think about the way we live and work.

So – how's the weather where you are?