Anne Notations

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Time, tide, and Advent

The seasonal mash-up in the photo above pretty much sums up this November and early December. We've got summer roses blooming merrily next to Christmas wreaths and twinkly porch lights.

Here's a longer view. Note the autumn chrysanthemums on the steps. Potted geraniums nod their magenta blossoms above a smaller pot of yellow marigolds. Remnants of last night's snowfall dot the grass.

What's going on? Weird weather, that's what. It has been comfortably, if eerily, warm up until last night, with daytime temperature in the 60s, close to 70 a few times. Some of the seeds from last spring's early pansies have sprouted new little plants in the front border garden, one of which winks its shy golden face at me from its berth next to thriving blue-flowering ground cover.

Tonight it's headed into the 20s, so I suppose all balmy weather must come to an end here on the New England coast. When I walked Daisy before church this morning, I had to wear my warm parka, a hat, and a polarfleece scarf. Brrrr!

More perplexing to me than the freakish weather is the speed of time this fall. I just can't get my head around it. Surely a physicist can explain why time seems to bunch and gather and sprint, rocketing us ahead at unnerving speed; and other times (rarely), it expands, crawls, and begets a lazy long day or two. The former condition has prevailed since early fall. Last week I began to date a check "Sept. –" and had to cross it out and start over. Three months out of synch! I wait for my birthday to arrive – but guess what: It was the middle of last month, and I'm fully 58. Thanksgiving? Oh yeah; did that and have the photos to prove it.

Michael and his brothers and nephews toast my late father-in-law, Dan, with his favorite Beck's before Thanksgiving dinner.

We get a little silly while posing for the annual Christmas-card photo!

Dessert straight from Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, NJ, home of TV's "The Cake Boss," courtesy of Michael's brother John.

More time confusion: I find myself informing Melinda on the phone that "Baby" is coming over on Friday. Listen up, Nana: That's no baby – our granddaughter turned four years old last week. Help! Does this mean I finally have to jettison the baby books and toys I've shlepped all these years and that Caroline has now outgrown?

Cousin Jake Lowenstein helps Caroline with her birthday presents.

At any rate, we went over to Leslie and Jon's house for the now-traditional birthday party for our little sweetheart last weekend. Her cousins on Jon's side were adorable and helped her open and play with her new things.

Digging into Mommy's yummy homemade birthday cake.

At Nana and Poppop's house: Big girl Caroline has a friendly visit with Blueberry.

Kevin is applying to colleges, at least nine of them (egads), all with robust majors or programs in journalism and communication. His writing score on the SAT essay was 730, and I rejoice that he shares my gift; I've always been able to make a living with words, and I also derive great joy from reading them and arranging them into articles and posts.

My 17 year old and I are the only people here from Sunday through Friday, with Michael living in Connecticut, Melinda at Syracuse, and Andrés in Ohio. Kevin and I generally get along great; we're alike in many ways (some not so helpful, such as a tendency to oversleep). He seems perfectly happy to attend Brown hockey games with his mother; we've been the most ardent fans together all these years. He also is a lector with me at Mass at least once a month, a service he began in fifth grade, to my utter shock as he was a shy kid then, and has grown into admirably, reading with good cadence and respectful expression from (usually) the Epistles for the second reading. I almost feel as if the balance is tipping from Kevin as Cynical/Flippant Teen to Kevin as Thoughtful Adult. Thank God, truly. I love my boy so very much. There were times these past five years when I couldn't imagine how he'd pull his life together. Now I'm beginning to believe. …

Next September – I can scarcely think these words, much less write them – I'll be alone here during the week save for my pal Daisy-dog and the two parakeets, while Kevin presumably is off at college. After all these years, I will be living on my own for the first time. I'm intrigued and a bit shivery in both good and apprehensive ways. I'll have more of the time for me that I've wanted, to stop after work at Planet Fitness and get some semblance of exercise regularly, to have dinner with a friend now and then, to have a salad for supper and no piles of dishes waiting in the sink. I fear loneliness yet crave a little bit of non-mommy life. Missing Michael all week is hard, but for better or worse I'm getting used to it. Maybe this on/off togetherness is healthy in some way I didn't anticipate. We are close and happy together when he's home, which makes me glad.

Interesting times. And a holy time: Being at Mass today, with the Advent candles by the altar and Father wearing his purple chasuble and the readings so joyous and anticipatory reminded me of how much I love the season. Our new choir director has a gorgeous tenor voice, and when he sang the solo part to "Panis Angelicus" today with the choir and organ, tears welled in my eyes at the beauty and mystery of our faith.

For photos of our autumn skies this past week, please visit my Sunset blog.


  • A beautiful post for many reasons -- and a post that suggests a question (two, now that I think of it) on the origins of your last names -- one of which I noticed for the first time today because of the slightly irregular spacing of the letters on your cake.

    What can you tell us about "Diffily"?

    And "Hinman"?

    The stories of my names, here:

    By Blogger Marsosudiro, at Mon Dec 07, 09:24:00 AM EST  

  • Hi Phil,

    Diffily is Irish. There are several variants of it in Ireland but Michael's family's spelling is very unusual in the states. We did a "Roots" trip to Ireland in 1985 and found some Diffilys spelled our way in the records at the Four Courts from the late 1700s and early 1800s. There was one "Diffily" listed in the Irish phone book in 1985: It is a man named Michael Diffily whose wife is named Anne! LOL What are the odds. I think Diffily came from some weird Celtic word that meant "dark lad," according to Michael.

    Hinman is generally thought to be a variant of Hindman -- one who cares for cattle (hind), or a tenant farmer. Humble beginnings in English mists of time!

    I was fascinated and amused that your grandfather made his own last name! Very cool.

    By Blogger Anne D., at Wed Dec 09, 11:57:00 AM EST  

  • Very welldone post. I loved seeing the seasonal contrasts and reading about the family and the faith, etc.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Wed Dec 09, 08:41:00 PM EST  

  • On mine, it not the best variant

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 11, 06:21:00 PM EST  

  • True beauty from beginning to end, the family, the flowers, the CAKE!

    I'm missing the lovely weather here, but this post made me forget the chill outside.

    By Blogger BrideOfPorkins, at Fri Dec 11, 09:13:00 PM EST  

  • Enjoyable post, Anne.
    What? You had cake from Carlo's Bakery? Cool!!!
    Was it as good as it looked??? (You know me, always worried about food...

    By Blogger r_weeks, at Mon Dec 14, 05:05:00 PM EST  

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