Saturday, October 31, 2020

Ode to the Odyssey

Ugh, on top of all that is depressing and spirit-sapping right now, we've just been given the prognosis that the faults on our 13 year old Odyssey minivan are TERMINAL. I feel so sad and unprepared. 

The engine is in perfect working order. The interior (after vacuuming) is clean, and without rips and stains. The bodywork has a scratch on the cowling, but it's otherwise pristine (after a wash). No crashes. New-ish tires. The problem is with the underparts of the chassis - it's all rusted away, with very little holding the heavy bits together. We've had two independent opinions on it - and they concur exactly. It'll never pass an inspection in this state, but it's too expensive to repair for the age of the car ... Yet it still purrs perfectly!

I'm fortunate and privileged. We have a second car. It's been a luxury owning 2 cars for our lifestyle. This is definitely a First World problem, and I'm embarrassed that this might come over as a 'complaint.' To me, it's more our attachment to, and appreciation of, something that has served us well and faithfully, that I don't want to come to an end. Even though it's an inanimate object, we have a relationship of dependence, reliability and safety with our investment, that has made it personal. It was a part of our family's trips and adventures.

The aptly named Odyssey: "a long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience."

Friday, October 30, 2020

Guest Post by Lucy Schultz

Obituary for Tumblr Schultz

Tumblr was born in early 2011 and is survived by his sibling, Dallas, and his parents Linus & Lindsay and preceded in death by his half sister Flickr. He lived a full life with passions in landscape supervision, plumbing, and small rodent biology. I met him the day I helped neuter him - he was a kitten named "George" that couldn't stop purring long enough for Dr Berchtold to hear his heart before surgery. A few days later, my parents brought him home from the Lowell Humane Society to live with us. We named him Tumblr after he fell from a rafter that first week. Tumblr was clumsy AF. He preferred sleeping on my shoulders to sleeping anywhere else. He shit in the sink every chance he'd get. He was gentle and naughty. He angrily licked me instead of biting me when I had to bathe him. Another time, he slipped into a neighbor's pool and almost drowned but Dr Patricia Hart's quick thinking brought him back from 92 degrees with a microwaved IV bag. He died while receiving dental care under anesthesia but was found to have serious jaw complications incompatible with life.

Photo by Lucy Schultz Photography



It's so hard to say goodbye to loved ones ... the unconditional companionship, love, and memories our 4 legged family members provide is unparalleled. Yesterday my son and daughter-in-law's cat used up the last of his 9 lives, and he is sadly no more with us. I can't get him out of my mind. I remember bringing him home as a kitten, and remember how cuddly, and purry, and loving, he always was. 

Here he is, imagining himself to be a big, scary hunter, but he's really a terrified kitten, still on a leash.

He'd love to snuggle into our necks and would push hard against our faces. He slumped into cuddles as if he had no bones in his body, just soft, loose fur, even as an adult.

I have so many delightful memories of his little antics, or clumsiness - it's hard to determine which was mischief and which was his inability to be a proper cat! In his early days with us, he fell down off a rafter (unhurt, of course, but kittens shouldn't fall off broad rafters, either), hence his name, Tumblr (and hat-tip to modern life).

Here he is licking the remains of a milkshake out of my blender.

He once came to see what the business of soaking in the Hot Tub was all about, and walked along the edge once Dale and I got in. He's a cat, right - sure-footed, good sense of balance .... but no, this was Tumblr, and he fell right in! Not a good situation for a small kitten. But Dale retrieved him almost as soon as he touched the water, so no harm was done, and we dried him thoroughly. After theses two instances, we thought he'd have learned a little about edges by the time we let him out onto the dock, but no, we were wrong - he fell in again, and was able to scramble onto dry land very quickly.

I remember him going missing one afternoon, after we'd had him outside with us in the yard while we cleaned out the car. When we were done, we closed up and went into the house to settle in. After some time, we realized that Tumblr wasn't around, so we went outside to look for him, scouring the yard and calling his name. He didn't appear! Some time had gone by and we were getting very worried, and began combing the woods across the street, as well as the lake shore and dock area over and over, calling incessantly, worried that he'd fallen in again. I walked around and looked into the water all around the dock, sobbing my eyes out, distraught as could be. I couldn't stop crying, and wasn't doing a good job of searching in that state. Eventually Dale, at a loss for places we hadn't yet searched, looked into the car, and there he was, walking around in the open space at the back - all safe and sound. Oh boy, Tumblr - you gave us such a scare!

He had a habit of kneading a soft blanket he particularly liked, and sucked on it - it was gross finding a wet patch on the blanket afterwards! I've just been reminded that he pooped on my pillow once, as a kitten - luckily for him, I'd erased it from my memory. He never seemed to show anger or annoyance towards us, and was as gentle as could be, never biting or scratching - so how could anyone stay angry with him for long?

A memorable and unforgettable character! No wonder we loved you so much! 💔

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Late Fall

Gold, bronze and russet

Glow beneath the canopy

As the sun shines through.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020



Steely gray, not blue

The water reflects the sky -

A dismal outlook.


Snow on my kayak!

I thought I'd use it today ...

A morning surprise.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020



Bronzed beech leaves hold on:

They'll whisper and twitter

In winter's snow storms.

Monday, October 26, 2020


Don't forget to look up when you're busy in the yard - you don't want to miss moments of liquid gold:

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A Mouse in the House

Today we brought a mouse into the house! Not on purpose, of course - though I know a lot of you might question that. We may come across as terribly over-the-top nature-friendly, but this was a mistake - we're not THAT weird! It was a total oversight, and error on my part.

We carried a laundry basket filled with yard twigs and pine cones inside, placed it on a large sheet of cardboard, and I began making my usual brown bags of fire starter/kindling for our wood stove season, in our living room. In retrospect, I feel like a twit, because ... seriously ... when I got down past the top layer of twigs, and saw what looked like nest lining and fragments of leaves and pine cones, I didn't think anything of it! I continued filling the bags until Dale saw the material I was handling. He suggested that we might have to look out for mice, because it looked as if we'd disturbed a nest. I scoffed - of course it (or they) wouldn't still be in the basket by the time we got inside! PLUS, there had been NO scuffling or activity at all whilst I was working with it ... we couldn't possibly have brought any inside.

Whilst sitting on the couch after dinner, I thought I saw a movement on the kitchen floor, but staring in that direction for a few minutes afterwards didn't yield any more movement. It must have been a shadow, or my imagination in overdrive after Dale primed me with his suggestion. I went back to my reading. But, no, there it was again - a small grey animal, close to the floor, sniffing around. Aargh! I called Dale to help me deal with it, and he heroically captured it with a nearby towel lying conveniently on the floor. We haven't (yet) seen any more.

What a numbskull I am! Is this what getting old means?  Ignoring the information that is out there right in front of your face - in this case, obvious nesting material? Is it that what losing our sharpness means, why so many elderly people get taken in by scammers? Is it that we're losing our ability to discern danger, losing touch with our instincts?

Eek! Scary thoughts ... since it's not the first time we've noticed, in retrospect, that we ignored some signs that were out there ...

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Kayaking Bliss

I enjoy being out on the water in my kayak. I like floating aimlessly and looking at everything in front of me, without paddling much, and without direction or purpose, except to take everything in. I love the caressing bob of the water - it feels comforting. When it's clear and light enough that I can see the diversity of plants below me, I feel  as if I'm caught between two dimensions, neither of which is solid - air and water.  I'm at the interface between two different worlds, in a earthly craft that suspends me. It gives me the ability to straddle both.

I go where the currents take me and drift, enjoying the quiet and unplanned direction. There is no purpose, except to BE.

Floating on water

I'm tranquilly suspended

Between dimensions.

The whims of breezes

Transport my kayak gently

As I glide and drift. 

The quiet lapping

Ensures my restoration

And serenity.

Friday, October 23, 2020

COVID Coping

In the 227 days of my COVID precautions, I have prepared (and EATEN) 681 meals! That sounds like a heck of a lot, doesn't it? We eat 3 regular meals each day (well, apart from the two or three brunches that condensed two meals into one, so give or take a few), and have eaten every meal at home, or from home. We haven't bought take-out, or frozen meals from the grocery store, either (my soy allergy precludes me doing this under normal circumstances). When we take a road trip, we make sure to prepare a picnic lunch for ourselves, and I bring my own thermos of coffee. It's always a fun thing to do! Especially because ... it's not pretty when I get hungry, and food is not readily available.

Yesterday, we packed bacon and egg sandwiches, yogurt and a thermos of coffee so we could eat our breakfast after a routine (fasting) bloodwork appointment, and before a sleep clinic visit in the same town. It turned an ordinary little thing into an event. We sat along the Eastern Trail and had an outdoor, picnic breakfast. A goods train thundered along behind us, vibrating in the ground beneath me - a breakfast adventure!

This is our normal. It's what we're used to - it's how our parents lived, how we were raised. It's familiar and comfortable for us. I usually don't even consider buying a cup of coffee anywhere when I'm out, in non-COVID times. It's just what we do. Even after 26 years in the U.S., it's still an unfamiliar phenomenon to stop somewhere to buy coffee when we're out and about. It's foreign to me.

So for us, this is nothing unusual. I don't miss things that I wasn't doing previously. I'm fortunate, since this has made it easier for me to weather this unpredictable period, without impositions on my lifestyle.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Fall Pollinator

What a sunny sight -
A Wasp on my Goldenrod
As temp'ratures drop



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fall, rain, leaves

Rain has stopped falling

But Autumn's leaves are dropping,


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Evening Meal

In blue-white starlight,

Sausages sizzle over

Hot orange-gold coals.

Monday, October 19, 2020



Just sharing another peculiar phenomenon - I found this in our lake (one of two). It's not living ... well, even if it were once, it doesn't stink for having been out of the water for a week. It looks like a collection of pine needles, all aligned together, with one end different from the other in shape.

I have no idea what it is that keeps it 'glued' together so it doesn't fall apart. The only thing I can find about it, is that it might be a lake ball ... but there's not much more than that to go on.

It looks a lot like a hedgehog to me. Or a coconut ...

Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Grand Day

Fall in New England is a superb time of year. I just can't get enough of being outside right now. I decided to have a relaxing day, so sat down on the grass and moss to collect acorns for donating to a wildlife refuge (It also eliminates the hazard that hundreds of rolling balls underfoot add to one's experience of walking downslope). It was such a peaceful and calming activity. What a bountiful harvest:

Whilst gathering, I listened to the audiobook "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova on my phone, and took in the magnificence of Fall. What a stunning sight! I drank it in, and am now so drunk that I found myself writing about this mindless activity!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

What's a Moonwort?

I saw a Moonwort, or Moonwort fern, this week, for the first time in my life. It popped up in my yard, and I noticed it only because I was sitting down in the moss, picking up acorns all around me.

It's a strange fern that spends a long period of its life underground, between 5 to 10 years, using a fungus to get its nutrients! Then when it's ready, it emerges into the light around July, with a single leaf blade and a spore stalk. It lasts through the winter, till about May.

It's also known as a grapefern (Botrychium dissectum) because of the grape-like bunches of spores it produces. It's found throughout New England, but is not easily propagated in a garden setting because it depends on specific soil-living symbiotic fungi to survive.  Once germinated, the plant may live nearly five decades. Unbelievable!

It has really beautiful lacy leaves.

Fascinating! Such an unusual plant! There's so much to learn, just from spending time outside, quietly gathering acorns.

Friday, October 16, 2020

On the Sunlit Shore

Grackle lifts its neck,

Iridescent throat glinting;

Drinking, in the sun.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Daily Pleasures

 A lovely way to greet the day!

And a lovely way to end it, too!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A Celebration of Pods


Butterfly weed seeds,

Enveloped in plump, 

green pods -

All biding their time.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Round Tuit

Housework! Ugh! Hate it, hate it, hate it ... BUT I do love when it's done, and I no can longer see hair floating in wisps on the floor, or cobwebs stretched across windows. (Frankly, I'm amazed to see how much hair we've both lost in the past weeks, and we don't have any pets, nor have we had visitors for almost 7 months).

I always ask myself why I've left it so long, because it's really not so bad while I'm busy doing it (I can put headphones on and listen to books on tape), but I do suffer afterwards. For some reason, vacuuming leaves me with backache, but there's always an indulgent, soaking bath and hot pad to help with that. 

It's the 'round tuit' that's the elusive part. I don't seem to know where my 'round tuit' is kept, which is why I so infrequently get around to it, I guess. I found out today that one can buy them, but after that, there are no more excuses ... 

"This is a round tuit. Guard it with your life! Tuits are hard to come by, especially the round ones. It will help you become a much more efficient worker. For years you've heard people say "I'll do that when I get a round tuit." So now that you have one, you can accomplish all those things you put aside until you got a Round Tuit."

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Evening Blush

 Pink and blue pastels

Reflected on the water -

Daylight is fading.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Royal Fern


Gorgeous Royal Fern,

Osmunda regalis fronds,

A gem of fall browns.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Welcome Rain!

I delighted in the long awaited rain for our garden last week and yesterday. The leaves in my garden shivered and trembled as the raindrops landed softly on them. It made the arching stems of the Asters bounce gently, as they do when heavy Bumblebees land on them. A nervous squirrel visitor came by, its jerky, staccato movements very different from the fluid grace of falling rain!

Raindrops on Asters, and Whiskers on Squirrels ...

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Colorful Walkways

A colorful mess!
The gentle rain decorates
My walkways with leaves.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Heaven in a Chocolate Muffin

I tried out a new recipe for "Dark Chocolate Muffins with Chocolate Streusel" after dinner last week. Bad idea! The smell wafting through the house was heavenly, and I started to feel hungry again! So, we cut our still-warm-from-the-oven, dark chocolate muffins through the center, salivating at the sight of the silky, molten chocolate chunks inside the soft brown crumb, and decided they needed 'testing'. The lava-like chocolate chunks glistened with invitation. 

"Let's go and eat them outside on our deck. The moon's white light is shining beautifully through the trees right now."

And so it was, that at 9:30 pm, we poured 2 glasses of milk, and carried our warm dessert out into the cool fall night, to be savored celestially.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Awesome Asters

Gorgeous Wood-asters, an exquisite fall bloom that keeps the insects busy for an extended season. Their prolific flowers sway and bob gently in the fall breezes, as if they were on a spring.

I love their smoky-mauve color against the reds, yellows and remaining greens of summer. The bees love them too!

I also learned that the creamy colored centers mean there is still nectar available, and that they turn pink or maroon once they've been pollinated, a signal that there's no point in looking for nectar there!

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Writer's Perspective

This quote spoke to me in a very satisfying and meaningful way:

"For me, writing is an act of reciprocity with the world. It's what I can give back in return for everything that has been given to me." 

- Robin Wall Kimmerer, in her 2015 book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Saturday, October 3, 2020

On Call ...

I'm thrilled with my new role as the on-call aquatic plant identifier for our lake - people in our community can call and ask me to take a look at plants on their shoreline, to inspect for the invasive European Naiad, or they can leave a plant sample in a Ziploc bag for me at the office. 

I had my first call last week and I was out of the house like a shot: boots, net, bucket, plastic bags and field guide in hand. I couldn't wait to see what I was being called to identify. I was pleased to be able to say definitively and without a doubt, that the plant in question was NOT invasive. It didn't feel as if it was a waste of time, either. It was so exciting for me!

I've since updated my 'doctor's bag' for site calls to include a plant sample in a sealed, plastic jar that people can look at if they wish. This is me, happy as a clam.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Glorious Fall

My garden looks more colorful and pretty in fall, I think, than when all the flowers are blooming! The foliage colors are spectacular.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Fall in New England

New England steeples: 

A stark white contrast against

Fiery foliage.