life, memories, rose

rosy

This is about Rose. I knew Rose all my life, minus the first five or so years, which I don’t remember very well. Rose, like her husband, was a second generation American. Their parents came from Italy.

She was small, a little over five feet, and pretty. Even when she was old, almost ninety, she was still pretty. Her hair turned from red to white, but her face was pretty and smiling. I see it now. Rose was probably the sweetest, kindest, nicest, most energetic, hard working, generous, human being I’ve known. I’m thinking, I’m thinking. Yeah, she was all those. You can probably think of some other ‘nice’ adjectives, and those would fit too. Her husband called her Rosy.

In the summer Rose and her husband spent a lot of time in the back yard. They sat there in the evenings with a glass of wine. Sometimes they played cards. It wasn’t a big area, a little bit of grass backed up to a tall hill covered with trees. And nestled at the bottom of the hillside a statue of the Blessed Mother. Everything about the space back there felt old country. It made you feel like you have nothing to do in life but sit, laugh, tell a story, and take it all in. There was a square wooden porch/deck attached to the house, and a screen door that took you right into her kitchen. I know, because I’ve been through that door. The last time was after my mother died and Rose called me in to see her new living room furniture. There are parts of us that just don’t grow up, and I thought at the time if I couldn’t still have my mother, I wanted Rose to be my proxy mother.

Rose was in the middle of making anise flavored cookies. She asked me if I was hungry, if she could get me some pasta. I don’t remember what kind, some gnocchi or whatever. She made her own, of course. There was no Mueller’s in that house. And it seemed to me she whipped up home-made pasta as easily as I whip up a sandwich or bowl of cereal. I’m probably exaggerating, but not too much. Picture the wood block countertop covered with flour, some chopping implements, and bowls and cooking ingredients scattered here and there. Old appliances. That was her kitchen.

Oh, and there’s the flowers. Tall bright colored flowers all around the metal fence in her front yard. Hanging baskets on her tiny front porch. Flowers up and down the side of her house. Flowers on the deck, flowers in the backyard. She loved her flowers, and they loved her back. Rose was well into her eighties and she would weed and fuss with her flowers the same way she did when she was thirty.

I thought about Rose yesterday, and this flower’s for Rose.


photograph from may 19, 2020

life, night sky, thoughts

the end of may

Sometimes I sit out back in the dark
at the end of a depressing day,
and it’s quiet,
just quiet,
nothing but me and the quiet.

Sometimes I see stars shining up there, far past the trees.
But tonight,
I don’t see stars.
Just the tops of tall trees and past them nothing.
Nothing but gray skies.

Sometimes I look up and see a flicker.
Or I imagine a flicker.
Like a firefly?
It’s too soon, isn’t it?
I remember the 4th of july when fireflies lit up those trees
like some kind of magic.
Like the magic that’s only real in memories.

Sometimes sitting in the dark listening to the quiet makes me think.

photograph from may 23, 2020


Gershwin, jazz, music, summertime

summertime


Summertime, the song.

And Janis Joplin. Yes, in the crazy summer of 2020, it has to be Janis Joplin. It’s an old (1934) Gershwin song, covered over and over, so there are lots of versions out there. I don’t know if it’s technically the blues, but when Janis sings it, I think it’s the blues. She opens her mouth, and she holds nothing back. There’s sorrow and there’s anguish, and there’s no attempt to pretty it up.

I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t single out Ella Fitzgerald’s version too. It’s subdued, it’s fluid, it’s definitely jazz. You can feel the heat of a sweltering August night when the windows are open and the air is still. And Ella’s voice is soft and silky and soothing in all the ways Janis’s is ragged and desperate. Despite my opening, I suspect Ella Fitzgerald captures the mood as well as anyone can. It just might make you cry.

Summertime by George Gershwin, DuBose Heyword, and Ira Gershwin. Give it a a try.

coping, coronavirus, life, time

time

March…May…July?

Yesterday morning, I had to take my car in, and I expected to see some traffic, surely, people with essential jobs driving to work. But no, I cruised through green light after green light. Traffic was even lighter than what I see for my weekly grocery trips.

I finally hit a red light, and looked out over the steering wheel to take in the trees along side the road. This was the first day that looked to me like summer. In a split second, it seemed, there was the aura of all we connect to green trees and warm breezes, and summertime. And without even the need to reconfigure my thoughts, an awareness of my evolving expectations of what this summer will be like.

Further down the road, a few people were out and about, individuals, walking or waiting by themselves, in the open air, and almost all of them wore masks. The trend towards wearing a mask even when you’re by yourself in the outdoors seems to be growing.

This is the way life’s been since the beginning of March. With cool weather dragging on into May, a Monday in May can feel like a Wednesday or a Friday in March, as if this spring will go on forever. Facing off with summer, it was like waking up from an afternoon nap feeling unsettled, and realizing you need to pull together enough focus, and enough energy, to make it through the rest of the day.

Photo from 2018

bird watching, birds, life

the birds

It’s the beginning of May, the perfect time for bird watching, and with so many bloggers writing about the birds in their yards, I couldn’t resist adding something to the conversation. One of the positives about being cooped up at home is there’s more time for sitting still with a cup of coffee, time to listen and watch the birds coming and going, and handling all they need to do over the course of a season.

The cardinals have a nest in the bush right next to the gadget that holds the garden hose. She (the mom) lands at the top of the hose, every single time, before she returns to the nest. She perches there on top of the hose for about ten seconds and makes those cheep cheep noises. Like here I am, I’m gonna go to the nest now. Seems like a rather blatant announcement to the crows, but hey, I’m not a bird, I guess she knows what she’s doing. Based on her back and forth trips, I think there are babies she’s feeding.

The cat birds have a nest in the burning bush, not far from where I sit. They nest there most years. Cat birds sing beautifully at times. They sing like they invented music. Such incredible improvisational melodies. But now I mostly hear that unpleasant call that sounds like an angry cat.

I love the catbirds. [pictured]

The robins are nesting somewhere further back in the yard, on the left. I’ve seen some particularly nasty territorial encounters with an intruder, a male I assume. When I sit outside after dinner, though, the robins sing their settling down songs … it’s evening, this is my territory, I’m happy, we’re almost ready for sleep. Robins are so comforting. If you watch them, you can see that whatever is happening in this artificial existence we currently call life, the robins just do what they’re supposed to do.

The humming bird feeder is ready. No takers yet. I hear the towhees, I see the blue jays.

I have too many bird stories, and my bird stories aren’t ever short. Or sophisticated.

If you never watched birds, isn’t this the time to do it?

___________________________

Watch from a distance. Never get too close to the nest if you can avoid it. Crows and other predators are smart hunters.

bad dream, coping, coronavirus

coronavirus

It feels like one of those dreams. Where some bad guy is chasing you, and you need to run. Your brain tells your feet to move.

C’mon. Run….

Move….

Faster….

But there’s a disconnect somewhere between your brain and your feet. And your feet, your feet can hardly move.

Maybe you need to get somewhere. To work, to an appointment, something important. And you keep walking, deliberately. But you can’t make it. You just can’t make it to where it is you have to be. The more you focus, intently, on getting where you need to be, the more you feel lost. And there, there in the middle of your dream, you feel the desperation, or is it disappointment, or a concession to the disappointment, no, not disappointment, it’s the disturbing reality / surreality that you’ll never, you’ll never make it to where it is you need to be.

photograph from march 2019