Like an Accordian

I fell asleep on the couch last night, folded up like an accordion while reading.  My library book, Kenneth Roberts’ Arundel, is due on Wednesday.

The book takes place primarily in October, 1775 with winter suddenly folding into history’s autumn scenes.

autumn-alleI took that picture on October 16 and although there is still quite a bit of color holding on everywhere, this week’s blessed rain prompted a shower of leaves.  Yesterday, I saw the river through the trees in the back yard.

Another sign of winter folding in.

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How to Survive the Coming…Whatever

As I wrote on Monday, I had no plans to watch or listen to what was called the presidential “debate” on Wednesday evening.  The news chatter surrounding this media debacle, appropriately staged in Las Vegas, suggested the event would give undecided voters one last chance to see the candidates in action.  As if somehow, after all these months of rhetoric, clusters of citizens did not possibly know the two major candidates.

Even without opening a news app, a search engine, or the silly slender paper offering chucked angrily on my doorstep each morning, I know the possible outcomes.  It’s either “happy days are here again” or “it’s the end of the world as we know it.”

So, which is it?

If “happy days are here again” then there is no need for me to write further.  The nation will move into a new sphere of nirvana, prosperity will return, and we’ll stop fighting with our neighbors.

If, however, “it’s the end of the world as we know it,” we’ll need to make some adjustments.  The world has never actually “ended.”  If it did end once and we are living in a new world, the old world left no survivors or evidence of its existence.  So we are left without a compass to navigate this last trip.

The question has been asked before.  How now shall we live?

I’ve pondered this question for a long time.  Not just in the few hours prior to writing this blog post, but since 2008 when I had an “awakening” of sorts.  In the years following the experience, I’ve considered a number of things I could do in the event “it’s the end of the world as we know it.”  I’ve made some changes, like moving to a less populated area which was also closer to my family.  The move has not been stress free; change is hard.  The last three years have been filled with as much anxiety as happiness; storms and calms.  I’ve encountered new and different tribulations; in 2008, my primary concern was having a reliable vehicle to transport me to Boston for Junior League meetings.  Now, I am thinking about how to make my home more energy-efficient and how to expand my garden next summer.

Sometimes I wish I had been born at another time.  I don’t care for the “vibe” of the current world; the divisiveness of social media, the coarseness of culture, and the lack of civic virtue.  I’ve blogged about “1949” and how interesting life seemed at that time.  True, nostalgia colors our view of the past.  But if I had a time machine, I’d like to go back and live in 1949 for a while.

When is Elon Musk and SpaceX going to develop a time machine?

Oh, he’s not?  Then I guess time travel back to 1949 will not be possible.

the-natural-worldDarn, that was my finest recommendation for surviving the coming…whatever.  The rest of my suggestions pale in comparison; they’re mostly a reiteration of things I’ve written about here in the past.  In the almost three years since I’ve lived here in my old house, I’ve done more of the following things:

  1. Reading books,
  2. Eating meals at the table,
  3. Fixing things that are broken,
  4. Getting outside every day, and
  5. Praying.

I won’t be able to expand on these things today, but they seem so simple they may not need any elaboration.

What are your plans to survive the coming…whatever?

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Since we last met at this electronic outpost, New England’s temperatures fluctuated up and down and two things happened.  First, we had a killing frost that turned the morning glories into mourning glories and I’ve begun the sad job of unwinding the once happy vines from the fence they climbed.

Second, I broke down and turned on the furnace.  Although it’s a new model, it’s still a forced hot air furnace; it bangs and clangs more than the average modern convenience as it blows heat through the old ductwork.  It’s dry and a bit dusty, too, in spite of the warmth.  It’s an acknowledgement of winter’s approach.

I make slow progress through Kenneth Roberts’ Arundel.  I noted his references to winter in chapter 10, where he writes “winters in Arundel and all our Eastern country lie hard and burdensome on idle folk,” and “I have long held that if a person plans chores to keep him busy, he will find our Eastern winters a time of relief from the blinding sweat and countless small tasks of summer, instead of a stagnant period during which each man comes to hate his neighbors, his family, and at last himself.”

A stagnant period; or maybe it’s idleness upon the land.  I’m no economist, but I do sometimes read the dark economic blog Zerohedge and I found an economic chart about unemployment numbers that made me shiver.  Is this lack of meaningful work part of the current pox upon our civic house, causing us to “hate our neighbors?”

Very early Saturday morning, while composing my “to do” list, a song came over the terrestrial radio waves and distracted me, however briefly, from such dark thoughts.

Wikipedia says it’s a “novelty song” originally written in 1949 for the Disney movie, Cinderella.  It’s a cute little ditty and as I listened to the silly lyrics and the made up words, I thought “this is what I hear on the news every day.”  Our national dialogue is full of words like “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.”  The song’s subtitle?  “The magic song.”

I don’t think our national malaise, meaningful work, and unemployment numbers will be brought up in the final Presidential debate this week.  I’ve made no plans to watch or listen to it because I already heard it on the radio this weekend.

Sigh…I’ve far surpassed my word count for a Monday “minimalist” post.

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Three Beautiful Words

It’s been a strange week here at the house.  The light, its amount and strength, seems to decrease more than a little each day.  Sitting out on the porch, even wrapped in blankets, is futile.

The world outside my figurative window is darker, too.  “Bad news on the doorstep…”  I think that’s how the song went.

My brother wrote a blog post a few days ago about being at a loss for words and that’s how I feel today, too.  I suppose I could write about my renewed focus, since July, on the creation of healthy habits and routines.  And while my work hasn’t been perfect, one thing I’ve done quite consistently is sit down at the table for an evening meal.


Even though this isn’t a food blog, let’s focus on three beautiful words today.

Dinner is served.

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Retreating into Autumn

We didn’t think Leo Kottke would sell out Rockland’s Strand Theatre; he did and we had to hustle like panhandlers before the show to get our seats.


We agreed if only one ticket was to be had, it would be Handy’s and I would wait in the car with a book, a pillow, and a blanket.

Fortunately, two tickets surfaced.  We paid just a little bit more than retail, but Handy didn’t seem to mind this once.

Another Columbus Day weekend…it’s officially time to retreat into autumn.

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The Decline of the West

Last night, Handy and I sat on the screen porch in our usual spots.  The setting sun dragged the temperature down and we wrapped up in knitted blankets.  (Is it still politically correct to call a “knitted throw” an “Afghan blanket?”)

I suppose I could have pulled out some old Bates bedspreads from an upstairs closet; nevertheless, wrapped we were and enjoying the end of the day.

Conditions in the south and west-facing gardens continue to deteriorate.  It’s becoming too cold at night for the moonflowers to bloom.  The changing light and temperatures confuse the large, twined flowers.  Next summer, I’ll plant them a little earlier so they’ll flower on a hot August night.  They did have a subtle, sublime fragrance which I imagine would only be enhanced by the heat.

The morning glories growing off the trellis in the gladiolus patch are no longer profusely blooming, but each day some still flower and I put off the sad chore of dismantling the strings they’ve climbed along.

Indeed, there is a decline along the south and west-facings gardens here.

I don’t think I wrote much about pole beans this summer and it was probably for the best.  I had a small, uninspired spot in the garden and a few packages of old bean seeds.  They were the type of bean seeds that seem like a good idea at the time and then never get planted.  This summer, I stuck three large tree limbs in the garden, teepee style, and planted those old seeds around them.  The foliage was beautiful, similar to the dense green of the morning glories and moonflowers, and I paid little attention to the sprouting beans.  They might have been good eating at one point, but no longer.  They’ve gone to seed now and are drying on the vine.  I’ve harvested a few of them, along with the scarlet runner bean seeds I’m planning to share with friends.


Handy and I are going to cook the maroon-colored cranberry beans when we have a few more of them.

I’m also saving some morning glory seeds, which are the tiny black ones.

If you follow the news, it seems there are few things worth saving anymore.  I see it especially when I go to my local library looking for a book that is more than 20 years old.  The shelves are packed with authors I’ve never read, pulp writers whose last names begin, appropriately, with “P” sounds.  I was fortunate to find an old copy of Arundel by Kenneth Roberts, shunned off to the side of the “P” pot; um, I mean shelf.  But I won’t get all Spengler today.  I’ll save my seeds, arrange them on my orderly checked tablecloth and create my own world of flowers next spring.

Roberts’ Arundel narrator writes in the prologue “the truth is I love the place; and if I seem to talk overmuch of it, it is because I would like those who read about it to see it as I saw it, and know the sweet smell of it and to love it as I do.”

Yes, for those reasons I write overmuch about the garden, so you might see it as I see it and love it as I do, even in its seasonal decline.

Handy says we’re having shepherd’s pie tonight made with some last ears of summer corn and newly dug potatoes.  These are our indulgences in this season of decline.

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The Crimson and the Gold

On Friday, I indulged myself in the purchase of a very small parcel of land that runs along Baumer’s Field.  In reading the warranty deed, I noticed it mentioned my paternal grandfather three times, particularly “along land of said Leo Baumer…”

Reading warranty deeds is much like reading old newspapers on microfiche.  It’s tedious and occasionally surprising.

The crimson, green, and gold trees that you see in this picture are my indulgence.


The temperature here in the house has been hovering consistently at sixty-one degrees for the last week.  It’s time to bring out the old 49er, as I would like to wait a few more weeks before I indulge in the heat of the furnace.

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