Thursday, April 23, 2015

Nature's first green is gold ....

My title today is the first line from a poem by Robert Frost, and refers to the green-gold color of newly-emerged leaves in the spring.

Spring has finally come to the mid-Atlantic, though it's cooler today than normal. Last weekend the trees really began coming into leaf. I love this time of year because, even on warm days, we don't feel the oppressive, stifling humidity that we will endure in July and August. We've had plenty of rain, too, which has helped to "green things up," in a phrase my mother used to use.

And shade is back, at least in its infancy. Driving along in my town, I could see the faintest shade cast by all the new leaves. The shade is just a faint tracery on lawns as yet, not the full, deep shade of summer, but a delicate webbing, which trembles in the breeze.

Hotter days are coming, of course, when I'll pine for cooler afternoons and crisp evenings. But for now, hello to spring! It was late in arriving, and it will yield to summer in the blink of an eye. Enjoy the mild warmth and graceful new leaves while you can!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Love thy neighbor

I'm having a little bit of trouble with "Love thy neighbor" these days.

My neighbor, whom I'll call Annie, is only a year older than I am, but is a recluse. No, seriously. I have not laid eyes on her in two years, and I didn't see her frequently before that. We have long suspected that Annie suffers from mental illness, some kind of paranoid condition, perhaps, because on her front door are many post-it notes forbidding anyone from knocking for any reason.

She is long divorced, chronically short of money, and her house is falling down on her head -- there's a tarp over part of the roof, and the paint on the rest of the house has nearly all chipped away. The neighborhood regards it as an eyesore, and a neighbor who was once inside (many years ago) told me that Annie is a hoarder, and that the house is so full that she is forced to live in only one room.

Following a back injury two years ago, Annie can no longer drive, and so the car sitting in her driveway has four flat tires.

In all, it seems like a rather desperate situation. Until recently, Annie seems to have been relying on people from her church to do her marketing and errands. Now, for some reason, that help has stopped. Perhaps she was depending on the same people too much.

Now, however, she wants to depend on me.  When I go to the grocery store, I am asked to go over to her house and find money and a list in a cereal box between the screen door and the inner door. The list is always written on several nearly illegible index cards, and her "order" always includes several money orders -- she has no checking account. When I return home everything I have purchased needs to be inserted back between the doors, which she will not open, and I am to phone her immediately to let her know her items are there.

So it's a peculiar situation. Annie really needs to sell the house and move to a place more manageable for her, where her limited mobility and lack of money can be addressed. I don't know how long I can go on being her lifeline. I did suggest to her that she needed more helpers than just myself, but she continues to call and make requests.

So how far does "love thy neighbor" extend?  She's in a terrible fix, and I feel like an enabler. This is a problem I am especially prone to (ask my husband). Is there a graceful exit for me?

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Not quite ready for the rocking-chair .....

Three months from today, I will be starting on a program called "phased retirement." It's a fairly new benefit here at the University, and, frankly, it has received mixed reviews from some of those who have participated. But I'm giving it a shot.

So I will become a 0.6 FTE on July 7. My salary decreases by 40%, but my benefits remain exactly the same. I can do this for up to two years, and then I must retire.


I couldn't resist the photo of the two rocking chairs at the left, even though there won't be much rocking in my immediate future. It will be nice, however, to be able to sit on my front porch and drink coffee on those two mornings, instead of trundling off to the commuter train every single weekday. The dogs will appreciate having me home more. And no more having to go to the grocery store on the weekends, elbowing my way through the mob around the string beans. I can go early on a Friday and get the whole mess over with.

And I have a master's thesis to write, after all, so I'd better get moving. More on that soon.