digging out

This morning we are digging out from a major snowstorm. We got about a foot (350 cm) of snow with a layer of ice buried in it from a period of freezing rain in the wee hours of the morning.

B and I went to work after a sustaining breakfast of steel-cut oats. He wrangled our big orange Ariens snowblower. It’s old, having belonged to my dad for many years; we inherited it when they finally hired someone to clear snow a few years before they moved into an apartment. Despite its age, it is still very powerful, so B set to work clearing the driveway and walk, as I tackled finding the buried Bolt.

B pulled out a large pushbroom for me from the garage; no little snowbrush was going to do. I brushed snow down onto the driveway that B had cleared and then used a shovel to get it onto the snowbanks.

The snow and ice combo was so heavy that I cracked a plastic shovel and had to move on to a metal one.

The freezing rain had coated the car doors, but I eventually was able to get into the Bolt and start it up so I could blast both the front and rear defrosters. Later in the day, we plan to move the Pacifica out to the driveway and put the Bolt inside so we can plug it into its charger to keep the battery conditioned, as we are expecting temperatures below zero Fahrenheit (-18 C) tonight and only single digits (-15 C) tomorrow.

By the time I had gotten the Bolt free, I couldn’t feel my toes, despite my heavy socks and boots. B wasn’t done, though. He raked the snow off the metal garage roof, used the snowblower to clear that away, and then took the snowblower across the street to help a neighbor who was attempting to clear his driveway, including the area that had been plowed in from the street, with a shovel.

We are both back inside for the rest of the day. The roads are still snowy and there is a state of emergency in effect, which means that there should be no unnecessary travel.

Maybe it is time for some hot coffee for B and white hot chocolate for me…
*****
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coming home!

This really will be just a jot today because we are getting ready for daughter E and granddaughter ABC to come home from London, where they have been visiting with son-in-law L for almost a month. We need to finish up the toddler-proofing that we had undone/ignored while ABC was away. There will be some time with Nana and Paco, as there usually is every day, but we need to leave for the airport mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, the flights didn’t work out to come to our local airport, which only has one carrier and three flights a day, so we will need to take an hour and a half drive to pick them up.  After dinner near the airport, we will all head for home in our hybrid Pacifica. Although we will get back here between 8 and 9 PM, it will feel to E and ABC like 1 to 2 AM, so there may be napping on the way. Everyone at my house and Nana and Paco can hardly wait to have E and ABC back with us!
*****
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not the way to start the day

Yesterday morning, our doorbell rang quite early. I had Baby ABC on my arm when I went to answer it. Our across-the-street neighbor was there, letting me know that there was a dead cat in our driveway.

We do not have a cat and, due to severe allergies in my family, I try not to even touch cats, because the dander and saliva that cause allergic reactions can be carried on my clothing. I am also not a fan of people letting their cats roam the neighborhood because they tend to stalk the birds and chipmunks with whom we share our yards.

From my neighbor’s description, I knew the cat was one I had seen frequently in our backyard. It always ran in the direction of the neighbor to our right, so I had assumed it was theirs, as their previous cats had often wandered in our yard.

I had to leave soon to head to church to facilitate a study group, so I grabbed a towel, wrapped the frozen cat in it, and carried it to their house. All the cars were gone, so I left the cat near the front walk, instructing T to write a note to them and bring it over to the house. By the time T arrived, the grandma of the household was there, but it turned out that the cat wasn’t theirs. She had the idea to contact one of our younger neighbors who is a volunteer firefighter and out and about more frequently in the neighborhood and who stood a better chance of knowing the real home of the cat. By the time I returned home, the cat was gone, so I am guessing that the family must have been located.

A plea: If you take a cat into your home, please keep it safe indoors; if you do choose to let it wander, please put on a collar with your address so people can find you if need be – and a bell to help save our endangered songbird population.
*****
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2017 Fall poems for Binghamton Poetry Project

This afternoon is the Fall 2017 reading of the Binghamton Poetry Project. The Binghamton Poetry Project (BPP) is a community poetry initiative which brings graduate students at Binghamton University into the community to facilitate the writing of poetry by adults, teens, and children. I have participated in their workshops for several years. I will always owe them a huge debt of gratitude because it was my participation with them that led to my acceptance by my local critique group, which I now call The Grapevine Group, and to my beginning to publish poetry outside of the BPP anthologies.
BPP holds three workshops a year of five sessions each. We read and discuss some poems and generally write from prompts drawn from those examples. It is interesting as one often writes poems that would otherwise not have been written. Because we only have about fifteen minutes to write, there is not much time to ponder, so I often find myself writing about people or events that I have already had time to process. The first poem below centers on a topic that has appeared in other poems about my childhood hometown. The second is not a topic I have ever written a poem about because it was traumatic, but it was long enough ago that, when it fit the prompt, I ran with it. The third poem is about my friend Angie, whom I have written about often in both prose and poetry.
This year, we are reading at the Broome County Library where we usually meet. We used to hold our readings on Friday evenings rather than Saturday afternoons. This is the first time I have been able to make a Saturday afternoon reading. I’m curious to see if we have better attendance at this venue and time. (I am writing this post early and scheduling it to coincide with the reading.)
For the first time, I am planning to read a poem that is not in the anthology, the current version of a poem that I started working on at the Boiler House Poets’ reunion at MASS MoCA and have subsequently workshopped with both Grapevine Group and Sappho’s Circle. I can’t share it here as I need to keep it unpublished at this point. I am also not sure if it is in its final form, but I need to decide soon as it is part of a chapbook I am assembling for a contest. I am desperate to make this poem the absolute best it can be, but I am afraid I have lost perspective with it. There may be a separate post about it soon – again.
I know this post will look a bit different in spacing than my other posts. It is tricky to get poetry into the wordpress editor without having the spacing compromised and this is as close as I can get to proper spacing in the time I have today. All three poems are by Joanne Corey. Please comment if you are so moved.
Homecoming
The Eiler Brothers sent my parents a video
of our three-bedroom ranch
stained grey with white shutters
loaded on a flatbed
rolled three miles
up River Road
across the state line
to a new foundation.

 

The house cost them a dollar
and the filling of the old cellar.

 

I travelled back to visit the yard
white and yellow birches
spruce, balsam, hemlock
sugar and striped maples
lilies of the valley in May.
 
*****
 
Thanksgiving – 1981

 

After words from the phone call drifted to me –
black ice, accident –
I thought you were dead
and our already planned June
wedding would never happen

 

but the hatch had sprung
after the car landed
on its roof in the river
so that you could crawl
out, scramble up the bank,

 

get to the nearest building,
the hydrostation where my father
worked, where they put you
in a warm shower 
as hypothermia set in.

 

The next day, we went to see
the car where it had been towed,
chunks of river ice still inside,
a deep dent in the roof,
just behind where your head had been.
 
*****
 
To a friend

 

My dear Little Angel,

 

You would laugh at that greeting
because, as you would say,
you are – or were –

 

five foot twelve, which you thought
sounded shorter than six feet,
but your name, Angeline,

 

means little angel
and you aren’t here
to contradict me.

 

Your October twenty-fifth birthday
has passed twelve times without you.
Do you know I think of you each year?

 

Wonder if your hair
would be silver now
like mine…

 

If your toddler grandchildren
would like to meet
my infant one…

 

If you know,
wherever you are,
that they exist…

changing constellations

It’s been a bit hard to keep track of who is in residence at our house.

Starting in mid-September with B out-of-town on business for two weeks, we have fluctuated between being a household of three, four, or five.

I was away at my MASS MoCA residency, about which there are many posts, and returned just in time for B to fly to Missouri to meet up with daughter T, whose job as a crew chief for a study of the effects of fire on prairie plants had concluded.

They drove back in T’s car and we had a week together before daughter E and granddaughter ABC embarked on ABC’s first trip to the UK to visit her daddy (our son-in-law L) and his family and friends, most of whom had not yet met ABC in person.

It’s pretty adorable to have a four-month-old with both US and British passports off on such a big adventure! E and L have been sending lots of pictures and videos to us, which we have been sharing with Nana and Paco. It keeps us all from missing E and ABC too much, although it is also a bit of a trial run for the big move sometime next year when E’s spousal visa is approved and she and ABC relocate to the UK.

I’ll think about that more later…

Meanwhile, we are waiting to be a household of five again, for most of November and into December, when we hope that L will be able to join us for Christmas.

At least, that is the plan, although T is job hunting and could need to leave the area again…

If there is one thing I have learned in recent years, it is that change is inevitable and often not under my control, so I will adjust as needs dictate.

From the current household of three,
JC

 

 

Anyone?

[sidles in, switches on the lights, and looks around]
Hello? Anyone still here?

Oh, good! A few of you are still checking in! My apologies for the dearth of posts lately, with just a scattering here and there.

Life has been busy and I wanted to do updates. The most important is regarding my mom, known here as Nana. She spent several days in the hospital last month with pneumonia/congestive heart failure and was sent home to the apartment she shares with my dad, Paco. She was very fatigued and weak, so we have enlisted help. She now has home care coming in several times a week for monitoring and physical therapy. There have been doctor visits, a new medication regimen, and some more tests ordered.

It’s great to have home care in, because it means having a nurse case-manager to oversee and co-ordinate the various health-care providers involved and to serve as the one-phone-call resource for questions and problems. This is especially important for us this week, as B and I leave tomorrow to visit daughter T in Missouri. It brings peace of mind to know that the home care team and the staff at their retirement community are both on duty to watch out for Nana and Paco while we are gone.

I’m hoping that I will have time while we are gone to do some catch-up posts. Music, poetry, travel, and transportation will be likely topics.

Stay tuned.

changes

Since December 26th, E and T, our adult daughters, have been living with us. We weren’t sure how long this would last, but now we know.

Not much longer.

T has been offered a job beginning February first as part of a grasslands research study by the Department of Environmental Conservation – in Missouri.

T has a particular interest in grasses and prairies. She can rhapsodize about sedges. We are very happy for her as this will be great experience for her post-master’s degree resume and allow her to work in a prairie ecosystem, which has long been a dream of hers.

We are shifting into high gear to prepare for her 1,000+ mile move, which needs to happen quite quickly.

Thinking about the move is bittersweet, though. We will miss having T here with us, especially her hugs. Because she will be in a rural area, her internet access will be limited, so there is unlikely to be much videochatting.

We will try to enjoy these last few days with the four of us together, even though they will be busy. And we will have memories of these rare few weeks together to last for years to come.
*****
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