One-Liner Wednesday: fear and understanding

“Nothing in life is to be feared, only understood.  Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”
~~~ Marie Curie
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Please join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/11/06/one-liner-wednesday-essential/

Badge by Laura @ riddlefromthemiddle.com

mostly fossil-free home!

A project that B and I have been working on for years is finally complete. With the installation of a geothermal heating/cooling system, we are able to disconnect our home from the methane infrastructure, which in our area means that we are no longer burning fracked gas from neighboring Pennsylvania in our home. Because we had previously installed a hybrid electric/heat pump hot water heater, our furnace had been the only thing still attached to the gas lines. Now that it is gone, we won’t have to pay for methane, which is relatively low-priced at the moment, or the delivery charges, which are relatively expensive in New York. Those savings will help with our electric bill, which will go up, although our panels in a community solar array generate a good chunk of our electricity. In our region of New York, changing from methane to geothermal for heating is considered a wash in terms of cost, but our air conditioning costs will be much lower with the heat pump than with our outdoor compressor unit.

We have done other projects to make our home more efficient, such as changing to LED lighting and adding more insulation. We use a rechargeable battery-operated lawn mower and electric leaf blower. The only two household things that will still use fossil fuels are our propane grill and our gasoline-powered snowblower, which is only needed a handful of times a year, if that.

We have also cut way back on our use of gasoline for transportation, driving an all-electric Chevy Bolt and a plug-in hybrid electric Chrysler Pacifica. We only use gasoline when we take the Pacifica on longer trips. It gets 30ish miles on battery. When it is running on gas, some of the engine power re-charges the battery, so even when we have no plug-in charge remaining, a quarter to a third of our miles will still be battery powered. It could be even more than that if we are driving on roads with terrain or lots of stop signs/lights because the braking is regenerative, meaning the energy from slowing the car goes toward charging the battery. It’s possible that, as rapid charging stations become more available, we may be able to take longer trips in our Bolt, which would cut our gasoline usage even further. (I know some of you urbanites are wondering why we don’t use mass transit. Unfortunately, our area has almost no mass transit available.)

We have tried to cut down our fossil fuel usage and control our total energy usage as much as is practicable, but I know there is one sector where our carbon footprint will become heavier rather than lighter. I have not been a frequent flyer in my first almost-six decades, but I am likely to be flying several times a year for the foreseeable future. With daughter E and granddaughter ABC’s recent move to London, I see a fair number of airplane flights coming.

The first one will be next month.

silver linings

There are some silver linings of not having a 2-year-old in the house.

  • Not crashing into the gate at the bottom of the stairs while trying to navigate at night
  • Being able to open cabinets without fiddling with a latch
  • Fewer smudges on the windows
  • Not having to juggle vehicles to make sure one with a car seat was available at home for outings
  • Cutting back on energy usage with fewer laundry loads, lights, electronics, etc.
  • Not having to wrestle with doorknob guards on the basement and linen closet doors – they were hard for little hands to open but also for my petite grown-up hands
  • The opportunity to sleep more, although this is only theoretical
  • More flexibility to travel, write, exercise, etc., although this, too, is theoretical
  • A break from watching some part of Moana, which ABC called “Ocean”, and/or Frozen, which ABC called “Snowman”, every day, although I might sneak a peek at them now and then because I appreciate the theme of love of family, especially grandmother/granddaughter and sisters

Of course, I would trade it all in a moment, if I could, although I know ABC is where she needs to be, settling in with her mom and dad and London grandparents and enjoying the amenities that only a big, historic city can provide. We had a chance to videochat with E and ABC over the weekend and to make arrangements to visit in December. It will be exciting to see everyone and all the places they go! It might be a bit too exciting, though, as we will be there for the election on the 12th…

 

All Souls

In the Catholic tradition, early November is dedicated to remembering those who have died. November first is All Saints Day and November second is All Souls Day. Our parish does a special commemoration for All Souls Day of all the people whose funerals were held at the church since All Souls Day of the prior year. Family members loan the church a picture of the deceased and they are displayed on tables with name cards and candles for the whole month of November.

This year, my mom, known here on the blog as Nana, was one of those commemorated. I printed an enlargement of a favorite photo of her; Nana was not fond of having her picture taken, so photos of her alone are pretty rare. I bought a Shaker-style wooden frame for it. I admit that the liturgy was emotional for me, but it was also comforting. It also felt fitting that the handbell choir played at the mass. Nana always loved to hear E and T ring.

In the evening, I attended a concert for all souls by the Southern Tier Singers Collective (STSC). I know a number of the members, including one whom I met in University Chorus and with whom I have been close for years. The founder and director of the group is Bill Culverhouse, the current choral director at Binghamton University. The concert was beautiful, although the music was emotional for me, given that the loss of my mom is still very much in my mind and heart. Thankfully, I was able to join some friends from University Chorus in the audience, which helped me to feel supported during the performance.

The concert took place at Saint Patrick’s Church, Binghamton, which is considered the mother church in our county. The building is old, high-ceilinged, and has lots of hard surfaces, so the acoustics are good for choral singing, especially a capella, which is what STSC does. St. Patrick’s was the boyhood parish of my retired pastor, who sang there, in Latin, as an altar server. After his retirement from our parish, members of our music ministry came together there to participate in a mass celebrating his 50th anniversary of ordination. It was a large group with instrumentalists, so I helped out by conducting. Several years later, we came together again to sing for his wake service and funeral, so thoughts of him were also present in my mind.

The most moving piece in the concert for me was Dale Trumbore’s How to Go On (2017). She chose to set texts from 21st century women poets Barbara Crooker, Laura Foley, and Amy Fleury. The passages speak more to acceptance of mortality than to mourning. I loved the language of the poems and the often haunting, often meditative, way they were set. The piece begins with a question from Barbara Crooker’s poem “Some Fine Day”:  “How can we go on, knowing the end of the story?” I could feel my own answer to that question working its way through my mind in response to the poetry and music – and could imagine my mother’s.

There was a third woman that I could also imagine, a woman my age who died recently. I had sung in the choir for her funeral on Wednesday. She was a beloved member of our community, who used all her skills and gifts in service to her family, her work, and charitable causes. She died at our local hospice residence, where she had been serving as president of the board of directors. I know that she must have found her own answer.

A passage from the movement “Sometimes peace comes” from Laura Foley’s poem “Syringa” speaks to part of my answer at this point in my life.

and you have stepped into
a place beyond time,
beyond sadness and form.
A wide, high plain
where in the endless, deep silence
you find out what it is, what it is,
and your part in it.

 

SoCS: going nuts

This week, the city of Washington DC has been going nuts.

There is, of course, the ongoing political battle in Congress regarding the impeachment investigation of the president. There have been more depositions this week and there was a vote in the House of Representatives laying out the rules for the next phase of the process, which will include public, televised testimony. I was a child when the Watergate investigation was going on in the Nixon administration and still remember some of the members of Congress from those hearings. Unlike the Watergate hearings, though, these will be held only in the House. The Senate committees are controlled by Republicans and they aren’t about to investigate a president of their party. I find this disappointing because there was at least some bipartisan cooperation between the parties during both the Clinton and Nixon impeachments. (Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.)

There was, though, a happier reason for people in the nation’s capital to go nuts. The Washington Nationals won the World Series! It had been many decades since a Washington baseball team won a championship. They succeeded my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, who won the Series last year. I remember how I felt when Boston won their first World Series in decades in 2004, so I expect Washington fans feel similarly. I appreciate the Nationals team spirit. They way they pulled together and supported each other led to their victory. It was the first time that neither team won a game in their home stadium; at four of the Nationals wins were in Houston. That was really amazing! Congratulations to the Nationals! Thanks for giving Washington something positive to go nuts about!
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Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt this week was “nuts.” Find out more here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/11/01/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-nov-2-19/

What’s missing?

There are a lot of things I miss about our two-year-old granddaughter ABC not living with us anymore. Here are a few:

  • Her imagination. She would jump up and down, usually on the couch, pretending she was splashing in puddles. She would accompany this by saying (loudly) “Muddy puddles!” over and over, but the sound of the letter P is sometimes hard to get out, so it would sound like “Muddy cuddles!” Or she would stand behind the ottoman and say (loudly) “Ding, Ding! Ice cream!” She would then ask everyone in the room what kind of ice cream they wanted, repeat whatever we told her – it was fun naming exotic flavors – and pretend to hand it to us, saying, “Thank you!”
  • The extra trips to the ice cream stand, because she and the rest of us were often thinking about ice cream.
  • Having someone handy to sing to or with. I would sing hymns or folk songs to her as she was trying to fall asleep. We would do long renditions of “Old MacDonald” with all the farm animals and some more unusual animals thrown in. Sesame Street songs and “The Wheels on the Bus” and the alphabet and nursery rhymes. I even learned a new song, “Sleeping Bunnies.” She would act it out, starting out pretend-sleeping, with snoring added in for good measure, and then wake up and hop. The song does end with “hop and stop” so she didn’t hop forever, although she would ask for several renditions in a row.
  • Unexpected dance breaks: She was fond of the theme from “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and, for some reason, the music they play on the local news while they show the stock market report. Most of the television we watch is recorded on our DVR and we would often back up and watch the stock report multiple times to allow for dancing. Okay, we would be watching the dancing more than the stocks.
  • Toy nostalgia: When E and T were little, they played with Little Tikes toys. Little Tikes no longer makes small toys, so it was nice see ABC playing with and loving the ones we had stored away. Her favorite was the school bus, which, like most US school buses, is yellow. She would get excited when she would see a school bus driving by, although she called every bus a school bus, whether it was or not. On the first videochat we did with them in London after the move, ABC was playing with a new, red, double-decker bus. London doesn’t have school buses; students walk or take public transport. I wonder how long it will take for “school bus” to drop out of ABC’s vocabulary.
  • ABC’s hugs and cuddles. Curling up on the couch with her for naptime, even when she would only sleep if she was lying on top of you, pinning you to the couch for the duration of the nap.
  • Perhaps what I miss most is having ABC’s mom, our daughter E, living here with us. She is great to talk with, as well as being thoughtful and knowledgeable. I would often ask her about current trends and understanding of words, so that I wouldn’t use words in a way that would be considered disrespectful by young adults. I learned about up-to-date baby and child care. E was able to take over a lot of the meal planning and preparing when I was needing to be with my parents over the months of Nana’s illness and was then busy with all the tasks that follow when someone passes away. I probably should have had her teach me to use the Instant Pot before she left, though…

SoCS: dress

Our granddaughter, ABC, who just moved to London, has lots of cute dresses. Well, she has had many sets of cute dresses in a variety of sizes. She often wears them with leggings, which were not available when her mom was little.

When E (ABC’s mom) was little, she didn’t wear dresses often as an infant. For her first birthday, though, she wore a white and lavender striped dress. She had just recently started walking on her own. She walked into the dining room and sat herself down on the carpet, spreading her dress around her, as though she was setting herself up for a photo op for her parents and grandparents.

Beth's first birthday

Thanks for the prompt, Linda, which brought back this sweet memory, just as my firstborn child and her firstborn are settling into their new life on the other side of the Atlantic.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “dress.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/10/25/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-26-19/

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley!
https://www.quaintrevival.com/