Posted in Arlington, Life, Nature, Seasons, Spring

The doorway to tranquility

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Past the budding trees and down the stairs beneath the old railroad. I walk through a familiar landscape: the ball field, the tennis courts and through the fence to a quiet enclave of houses. I suspect they’re rehabilitated worker cottages from earlier days, when the pond was worked for ice. An old ice house still remains and has be
converted to a Boys and Girls Club. I meet a gravel path just past the small parking lot and am in Spy Pond Park.

The park is just coming to life at this time of the year with budding trees and a body of water that’s still fresh and clean. Ducks and geese roam the banks and the old, bent trees dip gracefully into the water.

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This is the pond, my five minute retreat from the world. There are other people here, but mostly it’s me, accompanied by bird song.

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It’s peaceful and I need peace. More than that I need a place that’s blossoming to natural life.

Can you hear the birds?

Posted in Holidays, Just Bitching, Life, New Year's Day

Resolutions

Goodbye, 2015. Don’t let the door slam your butt on the way out. I have no idea what 2016 may bring, but I sincerely hope it will be better than 2015. I don’t even have my own new year’s resolutions. My brain won’t go that far. So, I went to a food and fitness site, Sparkpeople, and grabbed one of theirs: a 30-day declutter challenge. Day one: clean out my medicine cabinet. Now that I’ve had a snack and some water for fortification, I’m off to haul some very old drugs and other paraphernalia out of that dusty old cabinet.

One good habit I’m forming: mindfulness meditation on a regular basis. It really makes a difference. I’m calmer and more focused, at the same time I’m rested and feeling very relaxed. Can’t beat that!

Posted in A Bit of This, A Bit of That, Life

Live Long and Prosper

Heard some very sad news today – Leonard Nimoy passed away. I grew up in the 60s and Star Trek was my absolute favorite TV show. Mr. Spock was pretty amazing and I loved him, along with Kirk and Dr. McCoy.

A lot of the ex-trekkers seem to have lives that spanned the universe: George Takei and William Shatner to name but two. I hope they stick around for a while longer, even they’re both a bit long in the tooth themselves.

Mr. Spock
Riding that great starship in the sky

So, goodbye Mr. Spock, played so well by Leonard Nimoy. He was a Boston boy, too. This original geek-girl will miss you dearly.

Posted in Insomnia, Just Bitching, Life, Seasons, Weather, Winter

Morning in America

It’s 5:30 am and I’ve been up for two hours. I could hear the hubby snoring and went downstairs to the couch. It was too cold, even with a sleeping bag. We’ve got some kick-ass snow out there with more on the way. Mighty cold, too.

But sleep? This chronic insomniac usually doesn’t crack open her eyes until 11 am or so. I usually finally get to sleep by 3:30 or even 4am. Very odd.

Posted in Christmas, Family, Holidays, Home, Life

Year-End Musings

Well, it’s that time of year again. Perhaps it’s the fact of my mother’s death last year, but I’ve been having difficulty getting into “the spirit” of things. A few months ago I was really looking forward to Christmas, with much more enthusiasm than I normally muster. As the time came closer, though, I felt more and more down about it. I had decided to mix things up a bit, with new Christmas tree ornaments and garland. I was also going to chuck a lot of my other decorations that I didn’t really like, but kept anyway.

I found myself extremely reluctant to do anything related to Christmas, though. I really had to force myself to go out and look for new Christmas tree bulbs and other holiday stuff. There was a weight on my chest the whole time. I talked to the hubby about it and he offered to do what he could to make this holiday cheerful for me. We got a different type of tree – big and bushy. Normally, I get two small trees and put them on top of the tall speaker cabinets in my living room. But, if I wanted to do something different, that was fine with him. He even agreed to go out in stinking, rainy weather to get the tree and drive it home on the top of the car. It was an awful day to do it, but I wanted the weekend to get it all together. He even helped me string the lights, since I’m short enough so that reaching the top of the tree is impossible without a ladder.

My husband is Jewish. It’s not his holiday but he did it for me. I feel both guilty as well as grateful. We strung up the lights the next day, after the tree had dried off and relaxed its branches a little bit. I had already purchased some new ornaments and put older, worn out ones in the trash. I have some “heirloom” ornaments, stuff that I grew up with and took along with me to Boston. Those stayed but the rest were pretty much gone. I wonder how I’ll feel about that next year. My sister bought a holiday village luminary for me last Christmas. It’s a ceramic scene of two houses, a snowman and evergreen trees. There are places inside for candles, so you can see flickering light through the little windows. It’s very sweet and has absolutely no association with any Christmas tradition I have. Perfect! I perched it onto one of the speaker cabinets to the right of the tree and added three battery-operated flickering candles. Then I laid back on the couch with a comfy blanket and looked at the tree and the luminary. It feels really peaceful and I think I did the right thing by forcing myself through the motions to get it started. Nothing fancy, just a nice view and a quiet heart.

Posted in Food, Life

Weird. but Good

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Zucchini bread is a pretty pedestrian affair, as these things go. It makes a regular appearance at farmers markets and coffee shops at this time of year and one is pretty much like the other. It’s a frequent answer to the question: “what am I going to do with all this damn zucchini?” (Same question with tomatoes, actually, although with a different answer.)

I have a lot of zucchini, so I decided on bread. Given the spices and sugar that’s already in there, you could absolutely hate zucchini and still love zucchini bread. This one came out, um, different. It’s quite tasty but I think the recipe was too big for one pan. A part of the bread spilled over the side to create a little mountain right next to it. Cute. Good. Crunchy.

I’m going to do this again with two pans. In the meantime, I’m going to nibble those sweet, crunchy edges and toast the bell out of the not-quite-cooked center. Tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

Posted in Insomnia, Just Bitching, Life

Beginning, Middle and End

Forget It. Just Forget It.

Yesterday was a crap-out from the minute I woke up to the wee hours of the next morning when I was still trying to get to sleep. It was cold and overcast, all day, just like today. I decided to finish up some errands yesterday and that’s when the trouble began. I meant to start at one store, then drive to the next. Only, I got it backwards, and as soon as I drove to the second store, I forgot how to get to the first one. As luck would have it, I left my cell phone and my GPS behind me at home. I couldn’t believe my brain. It just wouldn’t cooperate. So, I went to that shop, then came home and went to a different place for my produce. Hell with it.

I couldn’t figure out why I was so disoriented, like I was out of sync with myself. Was I just really tired? Depressed somehow? I was totally baffled and puzzling it over when my head started to throb. Oh, shit. Now that? Then it occurred to me that I might be having another migraine. I had one two days previously and wasn’t expecting anything like that. Was it the same migraine, or was I getting some weird two for one deal?

I asked the hubby to put together dinner and we feasted on some very tasty items I had brought home, or grown in my garden. I’m harvesting the lettuce, so we enjoyed that, along with a few spinach leaves, which are also in-season.

Then came the wonderful events of yesterday evening. I went to a doctor’s appointment down the road from me, since my calendar had given me a reminder. Waited. And waited. And waited. Finally left and double-checked the appointment card. Next month, on that day. I did get a very cold walk out of it, so I won’t write it completely off. And, I got to have dinner all that much sooner.

So, my perfect day ended with some very persistent insomnia. I take medication that, on occasion, makes my leg twitch. I had reduced the dosage but for some reason yesterday it just kept twitching. Then my brain just shot into high gear and I couldn’t turn it off.

I think I’ll blame this on the migraine. It can do a number on me.

I’m okay today, though.

 

Posted in Blogging, Life, Music, Poetry, Story-Telling, Writing

The Muse And Me

I was listening to the radio this morning (NPR Morning Edition) and caught something very interesting: a music competition hosted by the owner of Bleeding Fingers (Hans Zimmer), which produces music for television. Zimmer created a piece of music, very cinematic, and challenged musicians to compose pieces based on it. The winner would be hired as a staff composer at the studio.

Here’s the piece of music that the challenge is based on:

Yes, very cinematic. It’s something I’d expect to hear at a movie theater. Pretty grand overall.

The contest winner was announced on Morning Edition today. His name is Daniel Suett and he’s a 22 year old composer from London, England. He actually submitted 12 variations and each one was better than the next! This guy is brilliant. Here’s one riff he took:

Very open, very grand, no? But how about this one:

I must say, it knocked me off my socks! There are myriad themes he incorporates, some contemplative, some fiery, some exotic, some playful, some sad, all fabulous.

I could listen to these all day. But something else happened, too. I suddenly started thinking about the ways music has inspired my writing. I listen to music of one type or another all the time. I listen to some because I enjoy it. Others make me feel a certain way, like Daniel Suett’s did. I have a little library of sounds, like music snippets, stingers, loops and full-out songs. I like to play them, just to see what pictures and words fill my head.

I was browsing a royalty-free music site a few years ago and came across a piece by a German composer. It was one of their promotional free offers. The piece was moody, low, contemplative. It touched me somehow and I added it to the music snippets I so frequently listen to.

I was listening to the piece one night and words suddenly started popping into my head. I was having a bad year, I recall. It was shortly after the recession of 2009 hit and I had lost my job and run out of money. I was able to get back on my feet, but not without doing things I didn’t really want to do. I had to swallow a lot of pride that year and I hope to God I never have to do that again.

In my mind the words matched the music and, by extension, my mood. I started jotting the words down, trying to find the right balance: a beginning, a middle/climax, an end. Just like music, actually, and just like a story. I started hunting down images and videos, mostly my own, although there was one I took from a free image site. Then I began to put a video together, combining all those elements.

Spring Flower

The result after many, many edits, was a poem called “Ruminations.” It doesn’t rhyme, but I think it does have a certain oral balance to it.

So, this is my brain on music:

I’ve got other ones, mostly trailers for books or short stories. Damned if the videos aren’t better than the stories. I’ll have to do something about that!

 

 

Posted in A Bit of This, A Bit of That, Blogging, Family, Food, Gardening, Life, Nature, Writing

About My About

Here I am, back to Blogging 101 at WordPress Blogging University. I’m following up on an earlier assignment: to re-write my “About” page. I had a lot of fun doing that and now I have to create a blog post based on the new “About” page.

Hmmm. What makes me me?

I wasn’t kidding when I said I was an older kinda’ lady. Your perspectives change with age. I think that’s why they say, “Life begins at 50.” I really didn’t feel that way, but I did become a lot less tolerant of asinine behavior in those young whippersnappers. I just don’t put up with bullshit anymore. I’m tired of it. I talk back (politely) if and when I need to. Why put up with that kind of stuff? Life’s too short.

I got my cooking and gardening ways from my mom and dad (no, really?). My father was the cook in the house and he didn’t let us near the kitchen. As a result, I never learned to cook until I left home. Once I did, though, I went all the way with it. My sister, too. I’m more into the Mediterranean diet type of foods and she’s a connoisseur of all things Eastern European. I sometimes worry that she’ll end up with a heart attack from the number those foods have got to be doing on her arteries.

I go for the simple stuff and let the ingredients talk for me. In fact, the hubby and I just signed up for a local farm-share. Once a week, fresh from the farm. Starting June 10. Be on the lookout for photos!

Both my parents liked to garden. My mother was forever trimming weeds sprucing up the yard. I remember following her around as she planted geraniums and scattered grass seed on the front and back lawns. Once it started to pour just after we’d finished the putting out the grass seed. I could see seeds starting to run in little rivulets down to the curb. I tried to stop them, standing out there in the rain and getting soaked myself. I made little dams of my arms. I was so furious. We’d just done all that work! It must have been pretty strange for anyone else to see.