10 July 2017

When we last left our heroine....

First of all, my sincere apologies for disappearing for so long. For better or worse, I am one of those people who gets flustered and freezes like a deer in headlights when life gets even marginally complicated, hectic, or physically demanding. I did fully intend to resume blogging, more times than I can count, but the more time that passed the more difficult it became to get back to it.

For the rest of 2014 -- after my May Day post -- and for nearly all of 2015 I was up to my elbows in house projects. New ceilings, painting walls and woodwork, converting my tumbling down garage into a proper garden shed, a new furnace (and removal of the old), as well as several major purchases, e.g., fridge, washer, dryer, mattress. All in all things were a bit madcap and the "To Do" list seemed relentless. So much so that I rounded off 2015 by telling my colleagues at work that I had decided to retire. Retirement, as some of you might already know, is fraught with at least 137 things one has to do. But all went smoothly and I was released into my own custody as a lady of leisure in February 2016.

I fully expected to recommence blogging, in between lots of knitting, lots of reading, and lots of gardening, but within a few months of retirement I became ill and last November I was diagnosed with Stage IV Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. By December 1st I was in hospital for the first of six cycles of aggressive chemotherapy. My treatment lasted until early April of this year and various complications meant that during those five months I had to spend nearly 73 days in hospital. The upside was that I learned where they kept the popsicles ... and I lost 40 lbs. (I reworked my favorite line from The Devil Wears Prada: 'I'm just one chemo cycle from my goal weight.')

As a fellow blogger wisely said, one doesn't battle cancer, one battles the treatment. (Which really is like being carpet-bombed with pesticides.) But despite the challenges and setbacks, I'm relieved to say my latest two PET scans show that I am in remission. I can only attribute this to the love and support of my family and friends, the brilliance of my remarkable doctors, and the combined power of prayer and magical thinking. God and Science may seem like strange bedfellows to some, but as far as I'm concerned they work together very well.

So... here I am, back again, hoping to be able to check in now and then to jot down, as I said long ago, some 'quirky and inconsequential musings'... scattered though those musings might be for awhile. Oh, and if I don't make sense please just be patient and ignore me. Like they say: 'This is chemo. This is your brain on chemo.'

Carry on.

01 May 2014

May Day

I enjoy the tradition of hanging a May Basket
on an unsuspecting neighbor's door.

(Although if you do it often enough,
how unsuspecting can they really be?)

This morning a light rain was falling as I tip-toed through my garden,
snipping grape hyacinth, forsythia, cherry blossoms, and myrtle.


Hail, sweet month of May!
Hail, bright month of May!
Bring sunshine with thee,
Chasing clouds away.
March has left us sighing
In cold and chilly blast,
April's tears have fallen,
May has come at last!
—Anon. 

26 April 2014

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall...

Queen: Slave in the magic mirror, come from the farthest space,
through wind and darkness I summon thee. Speak! Let me see thy face.
Magic Mirror: What wouldst thou know, my Queen?
Queen: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all? 

When I was very small, and would visit my paternal grandmother's house, one of my favorite pastimes was standing on a small stool to look into her "Snow White" mirror.

It wasn't a "Snow White" mirror, of course, since no one spoke back to me despite my conjuring. All I saw was my own round, freckled face peering back at me.

But it certainly looked like the mirror that the wicked Queen questioned in the faery tale.

When my grandmother passed away, my aunt asked if there was anything of hers I would like.

"Her Snow White mirror!" I said, knowing she would know immediately what I meant.

At times I have been tempted to paint it... perhaps a soft white for more of a cottage look. But then, you see, it would no long be the Snow White mirror. And so it remains as it was. Gilded, baroque, perhaps a bit forbidding, and magic in its own way.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Who is the fairest one of all?


25 April 2014

A bed's history


When I was fourteen years old my parents purchased a maple bedroom suite for me: a Boston rocker, a cricket stool for my feet, a dresser, and a four-poster bed with a canopy.

Over the years I have brought this suite with me to any number of dwellings.  A third floor walk up apartment; the cottage I was raised in; a two-room basement apartment; a bungalow near the bay; a second-floor flat; another second-floor apartment; a first-floor apartment; a two-floor townhouse in a late 19th c. Queen Anne revival Victorian; and finally to my little cottage.

They are still, to this day, the only pieces of furniture in my cottage that are not second hand. I am their original owner.  That cannot be said for any other furniture I own, given my penchant for foraging flotsam and jetsam from family cellars and attics, church sales, sidewalks on trash day, second-hand stores, and garage sales.

Sometimes I have the canopy on the bed, usually when I feel the need to be cozy and enclosed, and most often in winter. Indeed, I once fashioned bed curtains out of lace panels and felt like a faery tale princess in her trundle bed whenever I'd pull them aside and creep under the sheets. Other times I remove the canopy, giving the bed and the entire room a more airy and simplified look.  (If, indeed, any part of my cottage could ever masquerade as simplified, given my tendency towards happy clutter.)

The mattress has been replaced, of course, and the latest structure is so thick and high I actually have to use the cricket stool to get in and out of bed. An occupational hazard for those who barely tip the tape measure at 5' 1".

I rarely, if ever, read in bed.  It's not for lack of trying, simply a knack I could never master as I would invariably end up either with a sore back or, worse still, a sore chin from books falling onto my face when I nodded off.

I have conceived and then nursed a child there, welcomed lovers, soothed little ones who were ill or having nightmares, gathered grandchidren under its covers (they always tend to sleep on the diagonal for some reason, making sleep nearly impossible), and recuperated in its comfort after surgeries and long illnesses or the random winter 'flu or cold.

I have prayed or cried myself to sleep in its folds. I have rested on my side and watched films, hockey games, or my chuckle-headed Red Sox. I have dreamt there, both good dreams and bad. I have lain awake and gone through lists in my head or watched the moon creep past the window or listened for the haunting whistle of trains bound for New York or Boston.

It has been lovingly dressed with vintage bedding belonging to my ancestors, carefully pressed and laundered, and depending on the time of year, its underbelly has been a hiding place for Christmas presents, Birthday gifts, or Easter Baskets.

In short, it has been the one physical constant in my life since I was a young girl, a concrete reminder of my adolescence, young adult years, and middle-age, a touchstone hearkening back to every intimacy, every child I cared for, every dwelling I inhabited. A possession that I, and only I, have owned.