Archive for the 'weather' Category

“‘TO ALL AND SUNDRY — NEAR AND FAR …'”: Burgundy pullover

December 22, 2015

The weather here has been unseasonably warm, but some days the wind has been chilly and brisk and I have found warmer layers to be welcome when I go out walking.  So choosing what to wear has been a little more of a challenge for me this season.  Compounding this is my discovery recently that it now costs $5.20 to dry clean a heavy sweater at my local dry cleaners.

Anyway, I was trying to figure out layer #2 this morning, the one that comes after the cotton shirt, and I got stuck.  Do I want to get back out clothing I thought I had put away until next year?  Do I want to risk having to take another sweater to the dry cleaners after only minimal wear?  I had a number of specs and was having trouble figuring out what garment I owned would satisfy all of them.

So I did what I usually do when I get stuck and I threw it out to the universe for some guidance, and from that, I opened my closet, went straight to moving a couple of shoe boxes aside, and immediately discovered the perfect layer on a low shelf — an old burgundy pullover, washable, seasonally colorful, warm.

I remembered the article of clothing once I saw it, but I don’t think I could have actively named it as something I owned.

I think I had put it away somewhere obscure because I thought it was beginning to look a little down at the mouth.

This time of year I think about A.A. Milne’s “King John’s Christmas.”  My mother read it to us with great passion and fervor when we were young, and with especially great enthusiasm at the part near the end when the india-rubber ball makes its dramatic appearance.

Well, it’s not yet Christmas (then again, I’m not King John, nor even a Christian), and a pullover isn’t a ball, nor is burgundy really red, but I enjoyed seeing a faint parallel and thinking about what comes to us as a surprise from the outside may actually be something within us that we had merely lost sight of.



March 30, 2015

I have been listening to the Pine Hill Project’s performance of “Rain Just Falls” here, having heard it live at their concert last Saturday night.  I am mulling over the commentary with which Richard Shindell introduced the song at the concert, in which he pointed out that the song could be seen as making a case against intelligent design.

So I have been listening to the song, because I like the way it sounds and because I have recently discovered the treat of Larry Campbell instrumental solos, and trying to discern what I can hear behind the sung lyrics.

What I hear is that the rain does its thing when it falls — that’s its “job” or role, so to speak, to fall.  What happens next is not its issue, and if it supports flower growth, that’s a separate thing.  The focus on just falling maybe even allows it to fulfill its potential more effectively.

How to put together the fall of the rain with the nurture of the flower, well, I guess I would say that is done at a position outside that of the rain’s and the flower’s respective roles, if it is done at all.  The rain doesn’t fall with awareness of a connection between the rain falling and the flower growing.  That doesn’t exhaust the issue of whether a connection between the two activities is perceived at all;  maybe the question is really about whether putting together the two activities is done at all, according to the song.

The sequence of rain falling and flowers growing certainly forms an observable pattern.  If someone is there to observe the pattern, I think the pattern can have significance even if there’s no strong intentionality to it.  If we see sequence as completely random and coincidental instead, I suspect we have gone to far in the other direction and thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

That’s where I am right now in mulling this over.

Lovely concert musically last Saturday night, an extra perk to have given us food for thought.

Blizzards on top of blizzards

February 13, 2015

My back roof has been cleaned off of its ice and snow.  I’m not sure how Joe (my contractor) did it, but it involved a tall ladder, an ax, and a snow rake.  The ice dams and the interior leaks they produced are gone (for now).  The flat roof of the front porch Joe shoveled the other day.  So the house is sort of ready for this next onslaught of snow this weekend.

What I am wondering about at this point is the effect of the wind on the piles of snow.  If the high winds that they are predicting sweep the powdery snow in the huge mounds of shoveled snow back onto the walkways, steps, and driveways, that’s going to feel like a Sisyphean task to remove it.

My mother brought up Sisyphus when I was called upon to empty her apartment immediately after (barely) unpacking her into it (there were cartons to be put into storage still in the middle of her living room), while she was in the nursing center.

Call me Sisyphus, not Ishmael, I guess.  Maybe that’s the current theme of my life.  It’s certainly a vehicle for learning to stay in the moment and to perform the task with less regard for achieving a personally satisfying objective.

Ice dams and porch roofs

February 10, 2015

This is probably the fourth time we’ve had ice dam problems in the house.  Water was streaming inside Jordan’s back window between the sashes, water was dripping on the first floor through the ceiling near the back door, the upstairs bathroom window had a persistent drip — these were the most egregious symptoms (although the water damage to the kitchen ceiling is pretty outstanding, too).  After more than 24 hours of this, I texted Joe, our contractor, in part because I was going to have to get up during the night even more frequently than the previous night to empty the collection containers and in part because of the coincidence of the leaks with the new storm windows he installed this fall — previous ice dam damage had been elsewhere in the house.  It was late, he said he’d be over in the morning.

Joe and Nick showed up while I was still shoveling this morning.  Long story short, they came back in the afternoon with a snow rake, and removed snow from the first floor roof in the back of the house, below the dormer.  Now, it was pretty clear that the water was coming in from the dormer roof above the second-floor windows, but Joe’s ladder was under 5 feet of snow, so he started working on what he could reach from the ground.

And the drips have slowed considerably.  Maybe the water now has a way down on the exterior of the house.

Joe also shoveled off the snow on the second-floor porch.  The snow on it was pretty high, but the snow on the porches across the street is higher — above the railings.  Mine apparently benefited from favorable winds and maybe the way my house is kind of set back and nestled between two other houses at a slight curve in the road.

So we are good to go — to sleep without frequent interruptions.  So I can, in turn, bring the car in for service tomorrow — the windshield-wiper fluid isn’t coming out, even though the tank is full and cleaning out the jets with a pin hasn’t helped.  I guess “it’s always something” during the winter, but when there’s progress on the previous issues, at least it feels more like a hurdles race than a slog.

Keeping the focus on what’s important

January 24, 2015

I got a phone call this afternoon from one of the hospice chaplains.  One of the nursing facility nurses had let her know I had called for an update since I wasn’t able to visit.

The chaplain said she had visited with my mother and read to her and that my mother was basically sleeping and seemed very peaceful and comfortable and relaxed.

I was grateful for the call and grateful for the content of the call, and it got me thinking further along the lines I had been thinking along, in terms of interpreting the storm and its impact on the situation:  that it is sometimes unclear, while our concerns and desires and fears (and sense of responsibility) are swirling around us, what actually would serve the greatest good for all involved.


January 24, 2015

The snow is falling, my mother is on GIP care with daily hospice attention, and I was counseled yesterday not to sweat whether I can be there at all the significant moments.  I was there, at the nursing center, for hours yesterday, as my mother’s condition shifted and a cast of thousands (or so it seemed) made adjustments and provided care and support.  Seems my challenge at the moment is to sit tight.

So I figured a blog post on trying to find a balance between messiness and sterility in life might be a helpful distraction.

I wrote recently in news comments online that I am disappointed in President Obama’s current mode of combative policy proposals.  I also wrote about the deflated footballs controversy.  I questioned why teams get to provide their own balls and pointed out that all balls could be provided from a neutral source, as they are for kicking plays already.

And then I thought about what I am saying.  And I think it comes down to taking seriously — maybe too seriously — people’s complaining about unpleasant outcomes in the implementation of a system.  The systems could probably be improved and the problems reduced, but I guess I am wondering whether most of the participants in the system actually prefer a messy system in which people get harmed from time to time, to a more sterile system in which there is less harm but less excitement.  I don’t know, but I remember a tag line a Roman history professor used to use about the aspects of Roman culture we in our culture tend to airbrush away or ignore:  “That’s the way they liked it.”  Could apply here.  Could be it is people like me who don’t like it.  In which case there’s not much point in my trying to help problem-solve these situations.


March 25, 2014

I decided the cold weather was over, and cleaned and stored away sweaters and things.  Some crocuses are already out, so obviously I’m not the only one who thinks it’s time for spring.  But tonight I think the low is something like 6 degrees.

Three swans a-resting

January 21, 2014

There were nine swans at the res today.  The res is partially iced-over, but there is some open water, especially near where water from a brook flows into it.

They seemed to be grouped in sets of three.  One group was napping, their long necks gracefully folded back onto their backs while they floated in the water.  One of these was obviously a youthful swan, as it had many dark feathers.  For a while it seemed to be awake, with its head up and stretching its wings a bit, but then it, too, assumed the dozing posture.

I think another group of three also included a juvenile, but the third group seemed to be all white in feather color.  One of those was actually standing on some ice.

I was happy to be able to walk all the way around the res today — I wasn’t sure how packed down the path would be, how icy from refrozen melting it might have become, and, therefore, slippery.  There was even a jogger.  But no ice hockey going on down below on the ice — I imagine the ice isn’t sturdy enough right now.  We’re supposed to get another snowstorm in the next day or two, and after it, some more really cold weather, I think.  Then I suspect the swans will be gone again and the hockey players will be back.

Keeping up with the seasons

October 28, 2013

I was so proud of myself for figuring out the autumn hat thing — as I wrote some time around the turn of summer into fall, I had to figure out what to replace my straw hat with, when the seasons changed, since my skin continues to remain sensitive to the sun.

Eventually I found a floppy-brimmed felt hat with a rounded crown and a band and flower in the same grey felt.  I’ve been happy with it, although I need to hold onto my hat in a high wind (especially near the reservoir).

Today my ears were cold.

A friend had already asked me what I am going to do in the winter to keep my ears warm.  I talked about maybe using a scarf to help, but really I just haven’t thought it through yet.

I’ve got warm hats, ones that cover my ears, but they won’t protect my face from the sun.

I’m still not sure what the answer is.  Two hats?  A parasol?  Ear flaps?  Earmuffs, or a headband, plus my floppy broad-brimmed hat?  I will probably engage in a little trial and error to come up with something.

Hats and memories

September 21, 2013

I developed a substantial sensitivity to sunlight on the skin on my face, starting about the time my father died this past winter.  My dermatologist prescribed a topical creme to reduce inflammation (in the blood vessels, I think) and told me to stay out the sun, wear a broad-brimmed hat when I am out in the sun, etc.  We also discovered that my skin won’t tolerate even the mildest sunscreen.

I was not unhappy wearing a  broad-brimmed hat this spring and summer.  Now it’s fall, more or less, and straw or raffia don’t seem right.

So I thought (now this, I admit, is a little illogical), “Okay, the sun is more intense in summer, maybe I don’t need to wear a hat all the time when I’m out anymore, now that the season’s changing.”  No one had ever said this would be a seasonal issue, and it had started in the dead of winter, but I thought, “Maybe,” nonetheless.

So I didn’t wear a hat for a few days, and now my face hurts.

Those who see confirmation bias are free to do so.

Anyway, it’s pretty clear this skin condition has not cleared up (I suspect that had also been my hope), that the season makes no (or not enough of a?  I got away with no hat for a couple of days) difference, and that I will need to continue the hat thing.

Here’s where I’m running into an emotional issue.  Willy wore a hat, I think it’s called an outback style.


Once I start wearing a non-straw hat, it will remind me of him, as if I am adopting one of his habits.  That feels uncomfortable.  That is part of what I am trying to avoid.

I think my project is to find a hat that I like, that suits (season and hair), and hope that it (and its style, whatever it turns out to be) resolves the echo issue in an unexpected and helpful way.