Saturday, December 26, 2020

A Christmas Miracle

The cardinal rested for a short time
in the middle of the holiday greenery.


 This post is by my husband.


Christmas Eve. we're on the front porch and it's getting dark. Our older daughter, having brought over gifts, has just left. I reach to take off my mask and open the door to go in. As I enter, a bird flies into the house with me.

The bird, what kind I can't tell, flies pell-mell around the living room, confused by the indoor lights.  Dilly Dog dashes after it, equally pell-mell.  What to do? A dead bird would break my heart.

I call to Cynthia. First we turn off the lights to calm the bird. We shut bedroom doors to keep the bird in a small area of the house. Then I open a few outside doors, hoping the bird would fly out.

But I don't see the bird anymore. Flashlight in hand, I look around.  I even look on the floor, fearing the bird had knocked itself out. Nowhere.  Maybe I inadvertently shut him into a bedroom. Not there either.

So I go back to the living room and carefully scan the Christmas tree. Nope. A little to the left of the tree, I direct my flashlight beam along the fireplace mantle. There, amidst the Christmas greenery perches a real-life red cardinal.  My Christmas Miracle.

The bird flies to a nearby window, where I am able to get it open and guide him out. He flies off.

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Last Straw Plus One



The house and its minions are getting out of hand because of the coronavirus. The drawbridge has been up since March 2020 to deny entry to plumbers, electricians, furnace and A/C technicians, cleaning ladies, and concealed-carry gun nuts. So "things fall apart, the center cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the house."

The list of annoyances has grown since last spring. Both faucets in a bathroom sinks drip. An electrical outlet in the kitchen quit. So did another important outlet in the addition. The wood veneer is peeling away from the laundry-room door. The dishwasher door crashes down with a bang! if you forget to lower it carefully by hand. The device that prevents this has worked loose and fallen out. We had to let our pair of cleaning ladies go, even though we knew they needed the money. We've been cleaning the house ourselves, but we miss the two ladies very much and hope to hire them back sometime in 2021. 

But then the vacuum cleaner quit. It shouldn't have. We'd taken it to the shop for a tune-up a little over a year ago and hadn't used it that much after that. (It's a stubborn beast to push around, for one thing.) There's no excuse for a broken belt, but that's what happened. Because the belt is difficult to access, the direction booklet advises you to return it to the shop to get the belt replaced.  To heck with that. We're going to replace more than the belt. As soon as we can, we'll take it back and trade it in for a light-weight model.

And then the bathtub refused to drain after my shower. The lever that opened and closed the drain was frozen, leaving an inch of water standing in the tub. I pictured weeks, months with no showers in that bathroom. Fortunately, the resident handy man was able to unscrew the plate and free up the mechanism, but it will probably have to be replaced.  

Everything in the house seems to be in a state of near rebellion. We need the services of professionals, and soon! 

Friday, December 11, 2020

A Pink Wool Skirt


This photo of my sister and me was taken when I was six and she was four. She's the one with the braids. I think maybe it was taken before our parents were divorced, in January 1947. 

Mother made those pleated skirts for us in soft wool. They were identical, except for color. Mine was pink and my sister's was blue. I wore mine to school, where I was in first grade. We were learning to read from a "Dick and Jane" reader. Sometimes I got so confused. One of the stories was about how a group of playmates made a train out of cardboard boxes. They called it "our train." In our family, we pronounced "our" like the letter "R". For all I know, so did everyone in northwestern Pennsylvania. However, Miss Barrelle, our teacher, insisted on pronouncing "our" like "hour." So I would sit there all befuddled. The kids in the book would have called the train "R train", wouldn't they?  Whoever heard of an "hour train"?

Unable to make sense of the difference between "our" and "R", I zoned out. I soon made a thrilling discovery.  By pushing a pencil through the soft pink wool of my skirt, I could make a satisfying black dot.  In fact, I could make 25 or more black-dot stars in a pink sky. 

Mother was not pleased.