Sunday, April 19, 2009

Oh Glory!

Oh Glory!
My first sentence
if one can call it that
silver haired
ironing board straight
willow thin
nut brown
loved to tell the story

Awakened from a nap
chubby cheeks, blond ringlets
damp with sweat
I sat upright
raised my face to the sunlight
felt a breeze
through an open window
Tiny chubby fingers
separated each curl
the wind touched my scalp
“Oh glory!”

“Oh glory!”
It was Grandmother’s phrase
sung out at the sight of a sunset
the thundering wings of migrating flocks
the smell of fresh washed cotton
the touch of a cool breeze

Delighted by the world
grandmother and granddaughter
basking in the glory
of sun and wind
of sound and scent and touch.

“Oh glory!”
The last words I say
as they lower her
to her final resting place
the sound of “Amazing Grace”
still ringing in my ears
the scent of green onions
on the wind
Sunshine breaks
through April clouds

“O glory!”

Monday, April 6, 2009

the stone barn

it stands empty now
there are cracks
in the mortar between the fieldstones
set so carefully
by work roughened hands
now gone from this earth

i long to go inside
to run my hands over the timbers
seek out those places where
a shoulder or hand
brushed the wood smooth
touching it thousands of times
going about daily chores

perhaps i would find inside
a pile of musty hay
with just a sweet trace
of the smell of summer
still clinging there
snuggle down into it
and through half open lids
watch the dust motes float
on shafts of light

as I did long ago
in another barn
in another place
so many miles…
so many years gone by

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Was Green Before Green Was Cool

I was green when green wasn’t cool. My mother is a health nut and jumped on the natural bandwagon in the 70s. We are also cheapskates, um, frugal. And being frugal often leads to greenness as a side effect. It seems to be genetic as one of my great-grandmothers “reused, recycled and made do” to the point that it is the stuff of family legend.

Here is what we do to be green.

Recycle - Plastic and steel bottles and cans with the city’s free pickup service. Aluminum cans we sell to a local recycler.

We bought some filter pitchers and quit buying bottled water.

Purchase clothing and household items from a thrift store as much as possible. And donate items we no longer use back to the thrift store.

Joined an online group called “Freecycle” where the members give away everything from clothes to computers to furniture to cars that have outlived their usefulness.

Use CFLs for almost all lighting. There is only one incandescent bulb left in my house and it is seldom used and is over 10 years old. If it ever blows, it will be replaced with a CFL.

Seldom use paper plates, napkins or towels.

Rerouted the washing machine drain to use that water for watering plants instead of having to use fresh water.

Use natural based dish washing and laundry detergents.

Use junk mail and newspapers for mulch and instead of weed blocking fabric in the flowerbeds. (Covered with a layer of pine straw or wood chips for aesthetic purposes. For info on how to do this, look up Ruth Stout’s No Work Garden and/or Lasagna Gardening.)

Compost kitchen scraps, leaves and grass clippings.

Plant drought friendly and native plants to avoid watering as much as possible.

Installed ceiling fans in all rooms to help circulate air better so it feels warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Heat the house to only around 65 to 70 degrees in the awake hours and 55 to 60 degrees for sleeping.

Planted English ivy and roses on the porch ends to shade it and the large living room windows from the morning and evening sun in the summer.

Use heat-filtering curtains over the windows in the summer. (Would love to replace windows with heat-filtering, double glass but that is not in the budget right now.)

Put down temporary carpet over the hardwood in the bedroom in the winter and take it up in the spring. The carpet helps insulate the floors from the cold. The hardwood feels cool in the summer.

Open the windows and let in the natural temperature as often as possible in the spring and fall. (And sometimes during what passes for winter in Alabama.)

Put an insulation blanket on the water heater.

Redirected the dryer vent to blow on water pipes under the house so we do not have to run heating cables or heat the space to keep the pipes from freezing in winter. (You have to be very careful as this can lead to excess moisture under the house but we have good very drainage and have not had that problem.)

Use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. (Baking soda is the best scouring powder in the world and doesn’t scratch as much as commercial scouring powders.)

Do not use non-natural pesticides or herbicides in my yard. (Though I did make an exception when Japanese beetles were eating my cherry tree a few years ago.)

Use canvass shopping bags for most shopping trips.

Buy from thrift stores and yard-sales. Everywhere in my house you will find items that come from thrift stores or yard-sales. From clothes to kitchen appliances and bed-sheets to living room furniture. One of my favorite yard-sale finds is a collection of 50s glass Christmas balls which occupy a prominent place in my holiday decorating every year.

March 31, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Some years ago I was working nights in a convenience store -- midnight to 8 AM. I always tuned in to the local radio station for the weather and the great contests they used to run.

So one morning I was working and it started snowing like crazy about 4 AM. Within minutes my parking lot was covered.

At about 4:25 the DJ comes on the air and says that we have a chance of flurries with absolutely no chance of accumulation. So I waited until he started the music back and called him. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey Charles, this is Celia. (The station had radio contests all night long when most of the world was sleeping and I had called in and won so many contests that he recognized my voice almost immediately.)

CB: Celia! How ya' doin'!

Me: Fine. But I have a question.

CB: What's that, sweetie?

Me: Is there a window in the control booth?

CB: No. Why?

Me: "Cause you might want to go out in the hall and stick you head out the door.

CB: Why's that?

Me: "Cause there is about two inches of "snow flurry" on my parking lot right now.

CB: You're kidding me. (the sound of footsteps and doors opening) Wow! Thanks for calling; guess I need to change my weather forecast, huh?

Me: Probably so. And you're welcome.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Hawk

I'm new to this blog stuff. I have no idea what I'm doing -- or even why. But today I've decided to post a story from my life that I wrote up to share with some friends. If anyone is out there and reading this, please let me know if you enjoyed it.

A few years ago I was driving by one of the stores in the chain that I worked for and saw a solid plastic shipping crate belonging to the grocery wholesale company that we bought from.

Well, being the good employee and nosy Parker that I am, I stopped to pick it up. I just assumed the truck door had not closed well and they had not noticed it fell off. So I bent over and picked up the end of the upside-down crate and up pops a huge Red-Tailed Hawk. He was obviously very pissed and also very injured -- one wing was bent and dangling.

It only took a moment to realize that someone from the store had trapped him under there to keep him from wandering into traffic. So I gently scooted the crate further off the roadway and found a big rock to hold it down -- he was bouncing it around pretty violently.

Then I parked and headed inside. The clerk started telling me what was going on before I got through the door.

She had seen him get hit by a car and had run out with the crate to stop him from getting further injured. But she was there alone so she could not leave her customers and register long enough to get him to safety.

Now, I love birds in the sky. Or behind glass. (Or under glass.) Up close, they scare the shit out of me.

Fortunately, my stalwart coworker had actually once worked with a group doing bird of prey rescue. She didn't even ask me to try to get the bird into the crate. Instead she wanted me to run the register while she grabbed a passing teenager and crated up our feathered friend.

Then I got on the phone and called a friend who was an Audubon society officer and he put me in touch with a member of the local BOP rescue group. In about thirty minutes, we had our little, angry buddy on his way to a sanctuary and the veterinary care he needed.

I never did hear if he got well or not. But the guy that I took him to said that since we had gotten to him so quickly and since he was still very alert and active that his chances of survival were very good.

I was saddened later that day when I realized that he was an old friend. My nephew and I spent part of almost every day at a nearby city park. We loved to watch a mated pair of hawks that lived in a wooded area of the park. They would soar gently through the clouds above us and occasionally cry out to one another with their haunting, piercing voices. I found them peaceful and mesmerizing. Watching them was my daily meditation.

That morning I heard a cry and looked up to see only the female making her loop-de-loops over our heads. I suddenly realized that it was her mate that I had helped rescue from the side of the road. I almost cried as I watched her soaring overhead. Was her cry a little sharper? A little frantic? Did I only imagine that it sounded so sad? I wished that I could tell her what had happened and that he was being helped.

The next year she was up there with what I assume was a new mate since the sanctuary was a hundred miles way. But, as I watched them flying above, part of me hoped that it was my old friend, all healed and returned to find his lost love.