Sunday, October 28, 2012

Watching, waiting for "Sandy"

We scrambled all day yesterday to get ready for Hurricane Sandy. It was arduous: the hunt for flashlights and batteries, the attempt to consume frozen food, hauling the outdoor furniture inside ... you know the drill.

Or maybe you don't. I certainly didn't.

We've been told to prepare for up to ten days without power. Ten days? Ten days! It's a whole new definition of hardship for me, little suburban hothouse flower that I am.

So, I have an armada of flashlights, camping lanterns, and candles, ready to deploy at a moment's notice. I bought those non-perishables, too: crackers, fruits, nuts, and the ever-popular peanut butter.

How long can I live on peanut butter and Wheat Thins (reduced fat version)?

What I'm lacking in this experience is ... well ... experience.  I have no idea what to expect. The last time a powerful hurricane really hit the Delmarva area, I was an infant (yes, it was that long ago). At the moment we have only light rain and a breeze.  

So, we'll see. I hope the waiting and the uncertainty are actually the worst part of Sandy.  Time will tell.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Clear afternoon light/election anxiety

Autumn is my favorite season.  I look forward to the retreat of summer's heat and the arrival of crisp, dry air.  Unpacking the seasonal decorations, buying that gallon or two of apple cider, and trying a new variety of apple -- all these things help me mark the new season, keep me aware of the passage of precious time. The autumn equinox is always observed with extra candles at my house (in this respect, as in others, I am a little bit Pagan), and I look forward to the extra hour of sleep that the end of Daylight Saving brings. And I don't mind the early dark.  Mom used to say there was no better feeling than to draw the living-room curtains at night, and to know that everyone she loved was safe and well fed.

By the beginning of October, my son has always got plenty of firewood stacked for me, and that first fire of the season prepares me to settle in for winter. We haven't yet had the first fire -- last year we had such warm weather that I could probably number the fires on the fingers of one hand -- and this week it will remain mild.  But the night for that first fire will arrive, probably in the early part of November.  By then, the Norfolk Island pine and the large succulent (whose name escapes me at the moment -- see how my mind is going?) -- will need to come in from the porch to places of respite from the cold..

I took the picture above early this afternoon. I was heading from the car back to the house, when I was just halted in my tracks by the glory of my neighbor's sugar maple. This tree has already started to litter the lawn with a carpet of golden leaves.  The autumn afternoon light is clear, warm, beautiful. How could I not have noticed?

I'll tell you how. I've been overwhelmed by Election Anxiety. I actually heard a psychiatrist interviewed on this very topic the other day.  Of course this took place on CNN. I have been watching CNN or MSNBC since the party conventions back in the summer.  Obsessive is not a strong enough word to describe me.  I have become a political junkie. I can tell you how the polls are trending. I can tell you where the candidates are doing their final debate prep.

Meanwhile, however, autumn is going on all around me, and I have been generally oblivious. I did put up an autumn wreath on the front door, and purchased a pumpkin for the porch, but I did not do this in anticipation of the season, as I normally would. I did it in a panic, as I realized that we're ten days from Halloween and only a month out from Thanksgiving.

The set doesn't change on the Rachel Maddow show when the season does.  No wonder I barely knew that it was autumn.

The TV psychiatrist said that the election-obsessed voter has lost sight of the fact that, whoever wins in November, we will be OK, even if "our" candidate loses.  I disagree. I think this election is critical to our future as a nation, critical to women, critical to working people.  But (hard as it is to admit) the election results will not change one iota if I go outside instead of being splayed on the floor in front of the TV. I live in a safely "blue" state. My anxiety about tomorrow night's final debate will not help the President, not even a tiny bit.

But sitting out in the backyard with the dogs may help me a whole lot. So that's where I'm going next.

Monday, October 01, 2012

My resting place

My little Episcopal church was founded in 1789, a little wooden church on a hill. The original wooden structure was replaced by a stone church in the middle of the nineteenth century.  The church has historic landmark status (my friends in Europe find this hilarious), as does the surrounding churchyard. Among the worthies buried there are one Aaron Chew, for whom the Chews Landing area is named. He was a Revolutionary War hero, as the story goes. One of his buddies, who contributed a few pence (but not many) to the church building fund, was a guy named G. Washington. Read more about the church and its history, if you're interested,  here.

We're very proud of our little churchyard, but I had assumed that by this date all the plots were spoken for, if not actually inhabited. Not so! There is, in fact, some real estate still left there. And J. and I are now the proud owners of two plots, near the southern churchyard fence, under some towering trees, and with an unbroken view of a neighboring above-ground swimming pool (I did mention that this is in suburbia, right? It was the swimming pool or the convenience store. We chose the pool. J. wanted a quiet spot).

This mortality business does not usually bother me, but I have to admit to a few qualms. Lying in a suburban churchyard was not part of my plans. I took seriously that I was dust, and that to dust I would return, via the crematorium, which saves money, space on the planet, and family fuss. Being buried just fails to appeal to me on so many levels, some rational  and environmental, and some irrational (such as claustrophobia).  The notion of being pumped up with preservatives and dressed up nicely in something festive that I would not have worn in life seems ... distressing. Not to mention the eventual descent into a little puddle of nasty biochemical soup.So much for ashes.

So I have clearly not grasped the romance of the matter. J. says he wants us to lie next to each other forever (or, "until we rise," I like to kid him. He doesn't believe in this, so I have to wonder what the attraction to funerary splendor really means for him).

In any event, I have caved in to his wishes.  My children promise to tuck the various boxes of dog cremains in with me, so I have that consolation, I guess.

Of course, if J. dies first, I'm off the hook (heh heh! Just kidding??)! I have always been sort of interested in going to a Body Farm.  We'll wait and see, I guess.