In search of story


Musings on wild life: February 1.18

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!

That, as you may remember, was my mother’s incantation on the first of every month. I’m not sure why except for the twelve rabbits’ feet involved.

I am not enamored of rabbits, as you know if you’ve read my blog for a while. They are the garden’s Visigoths and nothing can withstand their onslaught. Here, in the wee hours of one winter morning, by the light of the lamppost, I spotted one of their kind. It was huge. And obviously reconnoitering. Duly noted, you furry pig!

I am equally not enamored of Canadian geese, as you also know from my blog. They, however, are enamored of this retention pond. Why Mother Nature, who came up with the song of the lark and the wren, invented the honk of the goose is explainable only in terms of her caustic sense of humor.

Then, of course, the ants. Oh, they keep on a-comin’. At first in my desk. Now along the baseboard and up through the furnace vent in the dining room. Yesterday I was out in the cold mud dousing the side of my new house with Home Defense. In January? Really?

Having lived in California, I know about ants, which there put earthquakes to shame in terms of intimidation. They come like an undertow and pull you to your knees.

But this is Indiana, which, though definitely ant-ridden, usually doesn’t let the little rotters out mid-winter.

And have you ever noticed how observing ants can make you itch?

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, dear reader!



On being happy

My California brother sent me a link to a video, “Reading=Happy.” Music by Pherrell Williams. Dancing by librarians, Kiwanians, Rotarians, city council members, pizza delivery guys, Boys and Girls Club, youthful ballerinas, grade school kids. Its purpose: to benefit the Placentia library. Its spirit: infectious, intoxicating, toe-tapping, head-bouncing joie de vivre. Happiness is not an easy thing to define, but we know it when we see it. We know it when we feel it. Obviously readers are deliriously happy people.

What about writers, more specifically, WordPress writers? Even more specifically, WordPress writers with Vista and IE9? And what about the WordPress Happiness Engineers? How happy can they be?

I understand that it is my sorry lot to have Vista with IE9, that my medieval browser is being blamed for the problems uploading images. But why blame the browser? Everything worked smoothly until now. It seems to be something WordPress has done. What’s done cannot be undone? (Thanks, Will.)

WordPress voices exhort me to update my browser. But others warn me not to mess with Vista and IE9. What doth it profit a writer to upload images if she loseth a dozen other computer functions?

WordPress is for writers, yes? Technology is the pen, the tool, the means to an end. I envy the bloggers with technical skills and their dazzling presentations, but it’s the writing that matters. I don’t want to agonize over browsers and other imponderables. I want the “simple” and “easy” that WordPress promised.

My son is now inserting my photos in my posts from his computer. This works but imposing on him does not make me happy.

I cannot imagine the burden of being a Happiness Engineer. I wish each one well and the inspiration to return us to happier uploading. Soon. Please.


The thanks

My younger son lives about twenty miles away. He just graduated from college and is working 70-80-hour weeks. He’s weary. Even young healthy people need sleep. But he comes. He eats Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital with us. He gives up his New Year’s Eve to be with me at home because I can’t get an aide and he knows I am afraid of Dad at night. He listens to me, sees what I see.

My older son is in California, light years away. He calls and he listens. He emails. He makes me laugh.

My brother also in California. He listens in emails, supports me with thoughtful feedback. Never criticizing, never second-guessing.

My dear friend Dorothy lets me vent. The only friend I have who knows about caregiving, she listens and vents back. Daily she saves me with her empathy and humor as we email frustrations and absurdities.

My dear friend Sandy leaves a message: “Just wanted you to know I’m thinking about you.” No “call me back.” No requirement from me at all. The message of a listener.

My dear friend Mary Jo stands by for anything. I’m out of chocolate-covered raisins and Doritos; she brings them. She gives no lecture on how I need to eat better, does not substitute carrot sticks and kale. She listens and does.

My gentle cousin Betty calls and we discuss caregiving, she for a husband with cancer, I for a dad with dementia. Why don’t people get it? we ask each other.

Listeners are the caregiver’s lifeline. I know I will forever be grateful for these listeners. I survive because of them. I hope for more of them for all the caregivers to come.


Stop sign

I moved from Indiana to southern California, where people would ask me, with a certain air that suggested they knew the answer, if I missed snow. My yes stunted the conversation. Lest they think I was dangerous, I amended with how I didn’t miss driving in it. But, yes, I missed snow. Those poor deprived people in California could visit snow, but that was not the same as seeing their home and neighborhood transformed by it, not the same as watching from a snug childhood bed, peeking through the Venetian blinds, as snow meandered — or streaked — in the beam of a streetlight, not the same as poking their fingers through the stormwindow slot into the drift on the windowsill by way of morning ablution. And it isn’t the same as arguing with their siblings 50 years later about who shoveled it.

Now I am back in Indiana and this morning I awoke to the first snow of the season. A mere dusting, transient as breath, but there it was. I wonder how many others looked at it and were still for a moment.

Doesn’t the first snow always make us stop?

Yes, we stop partly because of sudden visions of heating bills. But there is also, in that first white, a stirring of childhood awe, a memory: footprints, leafprints, windprints, all left for us to read in a sparkling, velvety silence; a landscape other-worldly, confectionary, phantasmal. There is a blink in which we revisit that, and we stop. First Snow allows it, requires it.

Then the blink is over. Time resumes.

Now the day has turned to night, the snow to mud. First Snow will come again next year. And I will stop again.