Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Molly by any other name

It took us a few weeks to settle on a name for her after she walked into our home and our hearts. And it was within a few days after we started calling her Miss Molly that we began ringing the changes on her name.
  • Molly Wolly Doodle
  • Molly Pollywog
  • Molly Wog
  • Wog Molly
  • Mog Wolly
  • Magical Molly
  • Molly Malone
  • Molly MgGee
  • Molly Brown
  • The Divine Ms M
  • Molly the Trollop

  • The Mollynater

The Mollynater?

That Terminator is out there! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

She is a terminator all right. She is relentless in her search for rats and chipmunks. So far she has caught and killed a mouse. After she ripped apart our Internet cable looking for a mouse in the hole where the cable comes into the house, we have had to be very careful about leaving her alone in the house. 

She has been to two different groomers, and both of them put bows on her when they were done. One stuck it to her ear and the other put it on her collar. We find this amusing, because she is not a bow-wearing sort of dog.

Were she to suddenly morph in to a woman, she would not be wearing a dress with “ridiculous looking frills and furbelows,” to borrow from Marilla Cuthbert in the Anne of Green Gables novel.

No sir. She would be wearing combat boots and dungarees, brandishing automatic weapons, and across her chest would be bandoliers bristling with large-caliber bullets.

It is Sunday afternoon, my day off. And in a rare moment for me, I am not watching a video or a DVD, I am not listening to the radio, I am not reading a book. I am sitting on the couch, and she is stretched out on her side next to my leg, and I am petting my dog. Her coat is still very short from her recent session at the groomer and is very silky. I find my fingers moving down her back, touching the knobs of the vertebrae on her spine, running over the faint washboard of her ribs, and tracing the outline of the big muscle in her thigh.
Molly sighs, and stretches a little, and then gets up and leaps the 4 feet from the couch to the recliner, where she rearranges the blanket until it is “just so” and curls up and goes to sleep. And I turn on the radio to listen to the medical program that comes on at 2 p.m., and stretch out on the couch, and I also fall asleep, something I never ever did before she came.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Growing season

One doesn’t really need the calendar to know Fall is here: the sun and moon have shifted in the sky, shadows are getting longer, and the days are getting shorter.

Today Nature agrees with the calendar that Fall officially starts tomorrow: it is perhaps the perfect Fall day – brilliant blue sky, just a very light breeze, and much cooler than it has been. Perfect weather for taking the Magical Molly for a brisk walk in the park; well, not exactly brisk because she has to stop very frequently for the doggy equivalent of Twitter—to read the messages and leave her own—and I let her get away with it most of the time, because, most of the time, I am really not the leader of the pack.

We had a nice rain a few days ago to wash the dust off and perk everything up. Almost everything is still green and gorgeous and the fields and rights of way are putting on a last extravagant show of purple and yellow asters, little bushy plants with white flowers, and tall Jerusalem artichokes with their sunflower-like flowers. But the subtle shades of Fall are here too, the hedges of burning bush that people have planted are beginning to turn their distinctive colors, and the poison ivy, Virginia creeper, and sumac are starting to show some color as well.

Our son’s tree that was planted last April was little more than a stick with a few leaves on it...

 and barely noticeable behind the plaque. 

Last summer, we hauled water to it and the three other new trees that were planted in the row. Our efforts as unofficial caretakers of the trees were not wasted: They all survived the terrible drought in good shape, and they survived the winter as well.

The tree that was planted next to our son’s tree a few months later is also a tulip poplar. The irony is not lost on us that this tree was planted in memory of one of the power brokers in town, a successful businessman for many years who was a wheeler and dealer and mover and shaker in town politics, part of the Old Guard who ran things for many years: a “somebody.” And next to it, the tree of someone who was a “nobody” as far as the “important people” were concerned. Death: the great equalizer.

We have only had to take water to the trees a couple of times this summer. Most recently, earlier in the week a few days before it rained. They got plenty of rain this spring and summer and both of the tulip poplars shot up and out and are almost equal in size, especially given that our son’s tree had to make up for a broken main stem that occurred shortly after it was planted.

Our boy's tree looks strong and vibrant...

and should be in good shape for the winter.

Nature is still wearing her summer clothes, but soon enough that will change, and warm days will give way to the colder days of Fall, and the summer clothes will be put away before the onslaught of Winter, leaving visible the bone structure of the landscape...
But then fall comes, kicking summer out… as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.” Stephen King, Salem's Lot

Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Bucket Hat

My beloved likes to wear hats and never leaves the house without a hat on his head. He has worn a variety of hats since we moved here, but he doesn’t collect them. He finds a hat, wears it until it disintegrates, which often takes years (unless it happens to be a straw cowboy hat that I accidentally sat on during church), and then he finds another hat.

In addition to the cowboy hat that met an early end, he has worn a cloth touring cap, a Greek fisherman’s cap, and then he found he liked the bucket hat style and so began wearing them. Eventually he found a bucket hat with pockets on the side that that was perfect for carrying his mobile phone, and he wore it for years. I repaired it several times, as best I could, after it started to fall apart.

Then, a woman church, who is able to work minor miracles with a sewing machine, noticed my not-so-subtle repair said she had a pattern to make a bucket hat and could make him some.

So they struck a deal, and she made some practice hats out of material she had on hand to work out some bugs in the pattern, which had to be altered to accommodate the pockets.

We gave her some heavy denim that I had acquired from somewhere to make another hat.

After our son died we did not have too much trouble clearing out his clothes, although we still have all of his shoes, for some reason we can’t explain. Some clothes we gave away, many of his clothes were ruined because of his job at the sawmill and went into the trash, and some–mostly his T-shirts–we kept to wear ourselves.

Much later, though, we found a pair of jeans that were in good condition that he had stashed some place that we had not thought to look.

Richard asked her if she could make a hat out of the jeans, and she said she could. So we gave her the Levis.

Over the course of the summer, she has brought several hats for Richard. And then, finally, she finished the last and best hat of all.

Now Richard is being shaded by a very special hat made of something that belonged to our boy…

a hat that will last many, many years.

Monday, September 02, 2013

No channels

In Russia we only had two TV channels. Channel One was propaganda. Channel Two consisted of a KGB officer telling you: Turn back at once to Channel One.
Yakov Smirnoff
 Last week we made a major decision – for us especially – to have no TV channels at all.

Our love affair with the TV since we moved here in 1981 has been an intense and expensive journey.

It was immediately clear the first day we hooked up our television to the TV antenna on the roof that we are in a very bad spot for receiving the TV signal from the local network stations in Springfield. Other people were getting good reception, but not us.

We lived with it for a while and then decided to pay the local cable company to bring the cable to our house… and pay we did: $750.

We had the cable service for a while but became increasingly unhappy because we had to pay for channels we did not want to get the channels we did want. And, of course, the monthly fee kept increasing.

And then the huge satellite dishes became available. So we bought one of those. I’m not sure how much that cost – probably close to a $1,000. It was wonderful. We had access to all sorts of channels that didn’t cost anything – like channels from Canada with interesting programming that we couldn’t get here. One year, for example, we watched the Winter Olympics broadcast from the Canadian station, which was entirely different from what American television was offering.

Better yet, we didn’t have to buy a package deal for those that weren’t free. We could pick and choose the channels we wanted to pay for.

And then they did something with the satellites and we couldn’t pick up the signals any more, so we stopped using the huge dish and went to Direct TV and subscribed to just about everything.

Every year the monthly bill for Direct TV increased just a little, and when it finally topped $100, we cancelled all of the premium movie channels. We thought we couldn't live without the movies but discovered we could indeed get by without them.

And then the bill started started increasing again.

We took a long, hard look at what we were being offered on all of the channels we were getting for our $78 a month and decided about 90% were garbage and did we really want to pay for the huge selection of reality TV shows that we had no interest in watching? Toddlers and Tiaras? Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?

No we did not.

We have been without television for a week.

Oh, we still watch the television. We have numerous videos we have recorded ourselves and DVDs, and we can watch some programs we like off the Internet for free or for a small monthly cost.

I am amazed at how peaceful we both feel. We are no longer sitting in front of our respective televisions – he in the bedroom and me in the living room -- several hours a night flipping through the 200-some channels trying to find something to watch. And what a difference it has made in the noise level in the house without the barrage of heavy metal soundtracks that seem to go with most of the programs these days.

I have found a week in that I don’t miss the few programs that I actually watched from week-to-week. I certainly don’t miss the commercials, except maybe, the Cheerios commercials.