Anne Notations

Friday, January 28, 2005

Preparing for a death

Michael's mother is dying of cancer. She is 88 and our children's last grandparent. All of them adore her. Mom has been the sun, the family nucleus around whom her four sons and daughters-in-law and 13 grandchildren have revolved.

Not so many weeks ago I was buying our daughter Melinda a beautiful formal for her high school's Winter Ball. Today we shopped for somber clothes and shoes for her to wear to Mom's funeral and wake ... soon.

I felt weird doing this shopping. We enjoyed ourselves, yet the purpose of our errand was so sad.

Mom and nine of her 13 grandchildren on Thanksgiving day, 2004. She's the teeny one in the middle.

If you pray, please say a prayer that she will have a peaceful death.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Snow job

OK, the 24" of snow we got Sunday and the 4" more we got yesterday were pretty, especially the wind-sculpted drifts. And the kids and I loved having Monday off.

But we are ready to move on.

Enough already! Enough with the four-foot drifts and the eight-foot piles of plowed snow blocking intersections and sidewalks. Enough with our street pavement last being visible six days ago. Enough with nowhere to park, since the side streets are only one car wide.

Meanwhile, Daisy wonders: Why is my mistress making me sit on this snow-covered street, freezing my butt off, while she takes pictures of our house?"

Good dog.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

This spam's for you

Do you ever have the (irrational, piercing, guilty) feeling that a spam message was actually meant for you? In that instant between seeing the header and deleting the mail, do you find yourself reflexively thinking: “Yes!” or, worse, "Oh no!"

Well, I do, sometimes. Take these, from this morning's spam harvest:

Need to loose [sic] a few pounds? (Alas, yes.)
Want your prescription? (Definitely!)
Waiting for your reply! (Uh-oh; what did I forget this time?)
Improved memory? (Yes, please.)
Large Stomach and thighs be gone! (Pretty please.)
Let us compare fantasies! (You go first.)
G00d sleep (From your keyboard to God's ear.)
Increase your p e*nis width (Oops! Wrong post.)

Those canny spammers have their collective finger squarely on the pulse of middle-aged insecurity and guilt.

Coming soon in this blog space:
Decoding Portuguese and Chinese spam headers for pleasure and profit
Welcome to the wacky world of spam 'nyms!

Happy deleting.

Monday, January 24, 2005

After the blizzard

The blizzard of 2005 arrived in Rhode Island Saturday afternoon. Kevin and I went to the Brown-P.C. hockey game that evening anyway, and the Subaru didn't let us down. (Nor did the Bears: 5-1.)

Yesterday the snow continued, and howling winds all day, much drifting. This morning the sun and the banked snow were blinding. It was Day 2 of an official state emergency, so I had no work and the kids no school. Daisy and I walked down Sargent Street at 8:45 a.m.; there was scarcely a car on the road, so I let her off the leash to frolic with her chow-mix friend Sam, and she was frisky as a pup. The official snowfall for Providence was 24", but it drifted up to 5 feet in places, very sculptural and sleek.

The snow makes me want to be out of the city and living where there are wider spaces, evergreens with drooping boughs, lots of birds, and paths where Daisy can be off her leash more often. A dream for someday. I keep worrying that we'll run out of "somedays" -- but I should stop thinking of myself as old. :-)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Material boys and girls

I posted this on Ian's blog ( today in response to his keen observation about These Times in our great country. It's something I've thought about a lot during the last 20 years -- how our culture trains us to be Uber-Consumers:

The one thing we Americans are way too good at is BUYING THINGS. With my passions for reading, music, art, the New Yorker, blah blah blah, I like to think I'm above such crass impulses. So why do I end up at Tar-zhay every week, cruising the aisles and loving every minute of it?

On a trip to Europe 20 years ago (when the dollar was thumping other world currencies), I realized that I just wanted to spend money... on Benetton sweaters in Rome, on books and Irish woollens in Galway and Dublin, on Delft in Amsterdam, on Waterford crystal at the duty-free. Each time we visited a historic site or museum, I couldn't wait to get to the gift shop. My keenly honed avidity for shopping both interested me (hey, I was an Am Civ major) and appalled me. It was as if I'd been training all my life for that trip -- not just to appreciate the temples we visited in Sicily and the Coliseum and the old crumbling Irish abbeys and castles, but to buy stuff. And then some more stuff. Then we had to buy a whole other suitcase to carry it all back home.

We may have failed to achieve our dreams in some ways, but damn, can we shop!

- Anne

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Snow Arrives

We are in the deep freeze this week. 8 degrees F when I took Daisy out this morning. Around noon today, as I left the mall, it started snowing, fitful little flakes. I remembered this poem I'd clipped out of the New Yorker.

The Snow Arrives After Long Silence
by Nancy Willard

The snow arrives after long silence
from its high home where nothing leaves
tracks or stains or keeps time.
The sky it fell from, pale as oatmeal,
bears up like sheep before shearing.

The cat at my window watches
amazed. So many feathers and no bird!
All day the snow sets its table
with clean linen, putting its house
in order. The hungry deer walk

on the risen loaves of snow.
You can follow the broken hearts
their hooves punch in its crust.
Night after night the big plows rumble
and bale it like dirty laundry

and haul it to the Hudson.
Now I scan the sky for snow,
and the cool cheek it offers me,
and its body, thinned into petals,
and the still caves where it sleeps.

* * * * * * * * *

Nice, hmmmm?

- Anne