What Will be Left Behind

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All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anotole France

***

Anne realized that the end of their life in this dear place drew nigh, and that she must face the fact bravely.  But how her heart ached!

“It will be like tearing something out of my life,” she sobbed.  “And oh, if I could hope that come nice folk would come here in our place–or even that it would be left vacant.  That itself would be better than having it over-run with some horde who know nothing of the geography of dreamland, and nothing of the history that has given this place its soul and its identity.  And if such a tribe come here the place will go to rack and ruin in no time–an old place goes down so quickly if it is not carefully attended to.  They’ll tear up my garden–and let the Lombardies get ragged–and the paling will come to look like a mouth with half the teeth missing–and the roof will leak–and the plaster fall–and they’ll stuff pillows and rags in broken window panes–and everything will be all out-at-elbows.”  ~Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

***

Shaun is out of the Army now, and has the beard and hair to prove it.  The other day, in public, I saw him out of the corner of my eye and didn’t recognize him.  He came up and lightly tapped me on the shoulder, and I whirled around, wondering indignantly why this total stranger hadn’t just said “excuse me” to get my attention.

Because it was my husband, that’s why.

Being that Shaun is now out of the military, we have decided that it is in our best interest to move to another town.  I am the type of person who becomes content where she is, and the idea of picking up and starting over in a new place is both exciting and overwhelmingly scary.  Part of me keeps asking, “can’t I just stay here?”  We have carved out a little life for ourselves here, with great determination–not the least part of which is the house we bought four years ago.  Like Anne, I’ve sewn my affections into this place, gotten to know it, searched out its history, improved it where I could, made do where I couldn’t, and above all, made it my own.  The idea of ripping out all those little stitches makes my heart ache.  The idea of selling it to someone else–of a stranger sleeping in my room, making dinner in my kitchen–makes me slightly queasy.

Of course, I know people buy and sell houses every day, and very few live in one house for their entire adulthood.  There’s a good possibility that I am overly sentimental.  But I have an idea–maybe a silly one–that places have their own character, formed not just by appearance or by vintage, but by the people who live in them.  Our house was built and maintained for many years by good, respectable people, only to fall into careless hands in the last few decades.  It’s a nice house, a friendly sort of house, but a little sad from neglect.  We’ve done our best in the last few years to improve it, make it look and function well again.  We’re not finished–not even close.  I hate the thought of someone coming along and undoing all of our work, of not appreciating this place for its value, which goes beyond that of a mere roof and four walls.

I’m going to miss so many things about this place.  I’m going to miss the smaller, cozy rooms.  I’m going to miss the large windows, the stained (not painted!) wood trim and hardwood floors–even the places where time has buckled them into fascinating waves.  I’m going to miss the creaky stairs.  In the winter, I will really miss the old metal radiators, which both I and the cats are fond of cuddling up to on a cold day.  I will miss our wall of bookshelves.  I’ll miss watching the sunset out my kitchen window as I make dinner, and the way the plants potted on the sill press their leaves against the glass, eager to catch the warm afternoon rays.

I’m going to miss the row of maples that line the creek in our backyard.  I’m going to miss the pleasure of my neighbor’s beautiful flower-garden.  I’ll miss the gardens we’ve worked to resurrect.  I will miss the little fairy-ring of crocuses in our side yard, the first heralds of spring.  I will miss the two apple trees next to the barn, which provide us with fluffy white blossoms in spring, and the most delicious apples in autumn.  I will miss the lilac bush, and opening the dining room windows wide to bring the fragrance indoors in May.  I will miss our two birch trees, which are gold and white in autumn, and provide a natural bird-feeder in winter.  I will miss sitting at my dining room table with Shaun, watching the birds dine year-round out the window.

I’m going to miss the town and neighborhood itself–the kind neighbors, the way kids feel free to come and go as they please, the ability to walk into the village and go shopping, go out to eat, to the farmer’s market, or, for me, to go to work.  I’ll miss being able to walk to the river, which is the reason this place exists.  I’ll miss seeing all the other beautiful houses that surround mine.

I will miss seeing our grand plans for this house take shape over the years.  I will miss the part of myself that has stitched itself into the fabric of this place, that will remain here when I am long gone.

***

There is an interesting spot next to our carriage house which I ungraciously call “the Junk Heap.”  It is exactly what I call it–the place where past inhabitants of our house used to toss their refuse.  Thanks to our dog, who first alerted me to its presence by digging it up, and to natural erosion, layer upon layer of fascinating material is being unearthed–Mother Nature conducting an archeological dig in my own backyard.  I’ve picked up shards of old glass in all colors, broken bottlenecks, pieces of ceramic, lumps of coal, and bits of metal hardware rusting away into dust.  I hold the pieces in my hands and wonder what they belonged to, who handled them, why they were finally tossed out.  There is one piece, a yellow bit of ceramic with a blue stripe running across it, which looks (to my untrained eye) like it might have once belonged to a mixing bowl.  It puts me in mind of a story related to me by a former resident of my neighborhood; how, when they were children in the ’40s, he and a friend would often come to this house and rub their noses against the front screen door.  The lady of the house, a very kind woman, would always give each of them a cookie.  But his mother always knew where he had been, and would scold him, because the tip of his nose would be blackened from pressing it against the screen.

Before we leave this house I will add my own items to the Junk Heap, some pieces of cracked ceramic dinnerware and some of my less-well-turned-out ceramic projects from college.  In the tradition of ceramicists–and of our house’s former residents–I will smash my pieces and leave them to return to the earth…or be picked up and pondered over by the next person who calls this place home.

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Deep in My Heart

Saturday, 20 June, 1942

“I haven’t written for a few days, because I wanted first of all to think about my diary.  It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I–nor for that matter anyone else–will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl.  Still, what does that matter?  I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.”

~Anne Frank:  The Diary of a Young Girl

Four Years

“…Mrs. Harmon Andrews told me when I came home that I wouldn’t likely find married life as much better as teaching than I expected.  Evidently Mrs. Harmon is of Hamlet’s opinion that it may be better to bear the ills that we have than fly to others that we know not of.”

…”You needn’t let what Mrs. Harmon says worry you,” said Diana, with the calm assurance of the four-years matron.  “Married life has its ups and downs, of course.  You mustn’t expect that everything will always go smoothly.  But I can assure you, Anne, that it’s a happy life, when you’re married to the right man.”

Anne smothered a smile.  Diana’s airs of vast experience always amused her a little.

“I daresay I’ll be putting them on, too, when I’ve been married four years,” she thought.  “Surely my sense of humor will preserve me from it, though.”

~Anne and Diana, Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

***
Happy fourth anniversary to my “right man.”  It is indeed a happy life.

~November 5, 2011~

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

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Just as sure as seasons are made for change, our lifetimes are made for these years
So I…I will be here.

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But of all God’s miracles large and small, the most miraculous one of all
Is the one I thought could never be; God has given you to me!

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Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, blossoming even as we gaze.

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Now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about your girl
We’ll look back someday, at this moment that we’re in, and I’ll look at you and say
“And I thought I loved you then.”

Photos by Jamie Lynn Photography

Let it Snow

I have never before dreaded the changing of the seasons, until this year.  Last winter was so long and cold and snowy.  I am not looking forward to being trapped between walls of white and stuffed inside the straightjacket of my thick winter coat for the next six months.  Here in New York, however, it is almost inevitable.  Today is the third snow of the new winter season, and it is is the first snow to stick.

It is beautiful.

Hardy roses with snowy hats.

It’s the sort of snow that is straight out of a movie or a storybook, light and soft and settling on everything in fluffy mounds.  Now that the snow is here, dread is replaced by wonder–and this, too, is inevitable.

Walking home from the library, with snow falling and clinging to my coat and gloves, I thought of this beautiful passage of prayer:

How can I give praise to You? I have not heard the songs of the cherubim. That is the gift of the highest souls. But I know how nature gives praise to You: in winter I have beheld the moonlit stillness when the whole earth quietly prays to You, clothed in white and sparkling with diamonds of
snow – I have seen how the rising sun rejoices in You and the choirs of birds resound in praise – I have heard the forest speak mysteriously of You, the waters gurgle and the choirs of stars preach of You with their harmonious movement in infinite space. But what is my praise! Nature responds to Your laws, but I do not. Yet while I am alive, I see Your love, I want to thank, to pray, to call out:

Glory to You Who has shown us light,
Glory to You Who has loved us with love immeasurable, deep, Divine,
Glory to You Who has surrounded us with light, with hosts of angels and saints,
Glory to You, O Holy Father, Who has willed us Your Kingdom,
Glory to You, Holy Spirit and life – giving sun of the future age,
Glory to You for everything, O Divine Trinity, all bountiful,
Glory to You, O God, unto ages of ages.
~ Ikos 12, Akathist of Thanksgiving by Metropolitan Tryphon

Great Rules of Writing

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.

~William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”
via The Quote Garden

Happiness is a Warm Radiator

LIFE, ACCORDING TO GINGER:
Happiness is a warm radiator.

A Kitty and her Radiator <3

A kitty and her radiator.  It’s love.  ❤

Our house is about 130 years old and has one or two old-fashioned radiators in each room.  Ginger believes that these were installed primarily for her comfort during the winter months.  The other cats may perch on top of one for a few minutes, and then retire to the sofa or rug.  But not Ginger.  She will sometimes nap on the same radiator for hours, stirring only to change position (to evenly bake all of her sides, I imagine).   It makes me feel cozy to watch her almost melt as she wriggles happily on top, reveling in the warmth with a particularly feline delight.

So relaxed, she's practically oozing off the top.

So relaxed, she’s practically oozing.

It’s really the cat’s house – we just pay the mortgage.  ~Author Unknown

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I couldn’t resist.

A day at the spa...Ginger-style.

A day at the spa…Ginger-style.  Juniper is an excellent masseuse.

Purring would seem to be, in her case, an automatic safety valve device for dealing with happiness overflow.  ~Monica Edwards

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Cats never strike a pose that isn’t photogenic.  ~Lillian Jackson Braun

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Who among us hasn’t envied a cat’s ability to ignore the cares of daily life and to relax completely? ~Karen Brademeyer

 

Quotes from The Quote Garden: http://www.quotegarden.com/cats.html

An Anniversary Reflection

A friend of mine posted this on her blog a few days ago.  Today is my second wedding anniversary, and I thought this was a good reflection for the day.  Her blog may be read here.

Oversimplifying Love, Probably

No Future Together

I found out about their break-up a week after it happened.
He said he didn’t have those feelings for her anymore.
After 18 months, and countless little and big decisions to be together,
he saw no future together, after all.

Tonight

My grandpa has become a child again.
As my grandma cuts his meat, he looks up at her and smiles.
I wonder if she ever thinks about
how they’re headed in different directions.
I wonder if she ever thinks about
how little she’s getting out of the relationship.

Love

When is it ever the right time
To stop being selfish, and live for someone else?

You Should Date a Girl Who Reads

black and white, book, girl, old, photography

(Image source)

I found this purely by accident, and thought I would share.

“You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

Rosemarie Urquico

via http://www.goodreads.com

Learn a bit more about the piece and its author here.

12 Years

…O beautiful for glorious tale

Of liberating strife,

When valiantly for man’s avail

Men lavish precious life.

America! America!

May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness,

And ev’ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam

Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!

God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea.

~”America the Beautiful” by Katherine Lee Bates

This is the First Post

“The world needs people like me, Anne, just to amuse it.  It would be a terrible place if everybody were intellectual and serious and in deep, deadly earnest.”

~Phillipa Gordon, Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

There, I have made the dreaded and awkward First Blog Post.  By the way, welcome to Squirrel’s Spot–my own little corner of the world wide web, a place to consolidate my Lab Mice comic, Etsy endeavors, and extraneous musings.  Hope you’ll stop by often.  Hope I’ll remember to post often……