Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No One's Gonna Love You More Than I Do

Sometimes it seems it would be better not to visit. Not because we have a miserable time, but just the opposite. When I get back in my car and drive away--away from all that love--it hurts. Literally, in my chest, it aches. I see on my mom's face that I'm breaking her heart and I see my Dad reflected in the rear view mirror offering her his shoulder for comfort but I know he feels it too, although he's more stoic about it. "Stiff upper lip" isn't a meaningless idiom, that's for sure. Every visit--here or there--we all know how it will end. We will say goodbye. Someone will drive away and someone will stay put. We all do our best to be brave about it, adult about it, sensible about it. But we all feel the ache in our hearts.

There is a stretchable string attached between my heart and theirs. Not a rubber band, that's too tense, too quick, too circular, too strangling when tight. No, this really is just a string that stretches for as far as we need. I feel it start to stretch as I drive away. It gets thinner and thinner as I pass through Albany and finally into Vermont. It's so thin by the time I pull into my driveway that I can almost forget it's strength. But it never breaks, it just pulls us gently back together when it's been stretched too thin for too long.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On a Bender with Radiohead

Many of you won't care about this post even more than you don't care about some of my other posts. Tough. Yesterday while cruising around You Tube for who knows what I stumbled onto this 52 minute movie from Radiohead with all the songs from their new album played in a recording session kind of setting. I'm hooked. I've watched it twice since last night and listened to it through the windows 3 times while working outside today. In case you haven't seen it and in case you're a Radiohead fan and because I am addicted to this right now, I must embed Radiohead:

And this got me thinking about art and how it speaks to us individually or collectively. After I spent so much time watching and listening to this video, I sat down at the piano and played stuff that I'd never played before. Made it up, different than what I normally make up. The effort and creativity put forth (for free, by the way) by some famous group of musicians across the Atlantic--who I will never know, meet or befriend-- inspired me to create my own music. Music I'd never played before and music that made me feel excited and alive. And that got me to thinking that maybe the highest achievement of one's artistic endeavors is when they inspire others who hear them, see them, read them, taste them, touch them, smell them, toward life-affirming creations of their own. Not to be some rarefied, untouchable, unknowable, "I don't get it" kind of thing, but to cause people to feel the marrow of their existence, the meaninglessness of it and from that-- the desire to create. I think as of today, that is my definition of art.

Or maybe it's too many paint fumes getting to me.

Curiosity killed who?

It won't kill me, but man, does it ever sting like a mofo. It's been a long time since I've been stung by anything. Last week while mowing the lawn I almost ran the mower right over a hole in the ground that housed a community of yellow jackets. Now, I'm not too scared of things like honey-bees or bumble bees. But yellow jackets? They are aggressive, untrustworthy, meat and sugar loving stinging war mongers. They don't like to be disturbed. So, I avoided a two foot square area when mowing.

Fast forward to today. While hanging up some clothes on the line, I noticed that there were some these new, larger holes in the yard. It looked like something had been busy digging. Then I realized the holes penetrated he lair of the yellow jackets! Huzzah! Hooray! Some nocturnal critter dug into the yellow jackets and I'm saved! I pictured a skunk digging down into the nest and devouring them in ecstasy, stinging be damned! (Do skunks do that?)

Fast forward even more to taking down the clothes this afternoon. Now, mind you, I've been working in the sun all day with paint fumes and mineral spirits. Plus, I did just have one Gin & Tonic. I get the smart idea to check out the holes again. All is quiet. No action. Death to the Yellow Jackets! I roll a small rock that's been dislodged from the digging skunk (?) down into the lair.... A swarm of black and yellow striped hoodlums rushed out in an agitated fashion to see what the hell just happened. I yelped in surprise and run away. But not before I feel a hot jab of pain on my lower calf. I swipe at it, but all I get is my own blood on my fingers. I forgot how intense and concentrated the sting of a yellow jacket can be.

Stupid curiosity. What do you think happened to that creature that tried to eat them??? Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Project Continues after a few days off

Here's the next installment of How Not To Do Home Repair starring your favorite handywoman: ME! I've taken several days off to do other, more social, things (even retired people need some time off, right?) but tomorrow I'll be back at the windows. Three of them are ready for the next stage: primer. I'll be heading to Bibens in the morning for advice about what kind of paint is best for that. I think it's going to be an oil based exterior primer, which means messier, more chemically clean-up. I've never worked in the oil based house paint medium before. Should be an adventure.

Friday I spent the day in the mountains with Kevin, who is a relatively new addition to my hiking friend world. He invited me to join him in the White Mountains on an 11 mile loop up the Madison Gulf Trail to Mt. Madison and then down the Daniel Webster Scout trail. (My pictures here -right click and choose open in new tab) I think we did something like 4100 feet of elevation gain. Ouch. The weather threatened throughout the afternoon but we only got some light drizzle. Being in the mountains on a blue-bird day with nearly unlimited views is considered the gold standard of a good day on the trail. Lately though, I've discovered that I enjoy just as much being part of a more variable weather day. Low clouds shift around and between the peaks and then race past me in wisps driven by the wind. The sky constantly changes in every direction and I have to remember to look behind me from time to time to see how close the "weather" might be getting. Hints of blue sky way off in the distance suggest a possible peaceful finish to the day and shafts light blast through breaks in the cloud cover like spot lights. We finished up the day with a greasy-good ten dollar, sixteen inch, cheese & pepperoni pizza from a sketchy grocery store in Bethlehem, NH and a one dollar soft serve ice cream cone with free Jimmies (sprinkles) from a place down the street that had just opened that day. We got the first cones as appetizers while waiting for our pizza to cook. I accompanied Kevin back to the soft serve place after dinner but declined to join him in eating a 2nd, dessert ice cream cone. Kevin posted some unedited video clips of our hike.

On Saturday, Chip and I drove down to Milford, NH to hang out with our friend, Meri. I hadn't seen her for quite a long time and we haven't been hiking in ages. We took a short, humid hike up North Pack Monadnock and filled our bellies with sun-warmed wild blueberries. Drank some beers, ate some dinner and got a tour of Meri's copious gardens. Meri may be the only other person in the world who finds edible flowers as fun as I do. The bite of my veggie burger that had both homemade hummus and a Gem Marigold in it was delicious.

Eating all those blueberries yesterday inspired me to use the only remaining bag of last year's harvest to make a blueberry pie. My absolute favorite. Some people think making pies is difficult. Well, when you have my Mom's crust recipe and years of watching her perform pie miracles, it's not so difficult. Look Mom...pie perfection!


I've spent today successfully working on a story that's sat in the drawer for about seven months until a couple weeks ago. Of course, for the past hour I've been screwing around with this diary-like blog entry as a procrastination technique because creative writing is hard, I was stuck and this is easier. Thank you for enabling my procrastination.

Monday, July 7, 2008

This Beats Audiology Any Day

The cold is gone. The energy level is back in full swing and I am kicking butt. That is, at least, if good intentions and earnest hard work equal kicking butt. Here's a short video showing my very first exterior window work.

Getting the old glazing putty off the windows is not easy. I usually do everything the hard or wrong way first, so it wouldn't surprise me if there's an easier way. Putting new glazing putty on is not easy either. I finished an entire window, and was thoroughly frustrated with the results, before calling my Dad to get his This Old House-Greenley Style advice. Mix a little mineral spirits into the putty while working it in your hands until it's like cookie dough, smoodge it into the desired area not worrying about how "pretty" it looks, wipe the putty knife in a little more mineral spirits, set it at the correct angle and draw across the entire length of the window in one fluid movement. Voila! Spreads like warm butter, baby! He also said that after I'd done about one thousand windows I'd probably get the hang of it. So, with that advice I both improved my technique and lowered the bar on my expectations which gave the overall effect of hugely improved satisfaction with my work. Thanks Dad!

I didn't realize how involved this project would be. I've been to Bibens Hardware multiple times and feel like I'm getting to know the people there, which is fun. I'm learning a new skill and watching myself improve with each window I tackle. Plus at the end of an entire day of scraping, sanding, glazing, painting and working outside, a beer tastes damn, damn fine. This beats doing Audiology any day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Common Cold Injury

I have been in the oh-so-enjoyable coughing stage of my cold for a few days now. The coughing stage tends to last long enough to make you worry that you've got something other than the common cold. Well, somehow my coughing, um, technique has caused me to strain my lingual frenulum. It's the piece of skin that connects your tongue to the bottom of your oral cavity. It's not too short and it's not too long. It's just right to keep your tongue where it's supposed to be (unless you have ankyloglossia--"tongue-tied"-- then you have to have a lingual frenectomy).

Well, my lingual frenulum hurts from coughing too much. As do my brain and my stomach muscles. Yesterday and today have also been BAD (bad allergy days). I've been a good sport about this until now, but I'm ready for the cold to be finished and the allergies to go away. It's making me sad and hurty.

I'm done whining. For now.