Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Hampshire Comfort

We're fortunate that the severe weather spared us for the most part except for some severe storms in the urban Boston area. This weekend is rainy, overcast, and cool, but our gardens are thriving with the regular watering from above.

Today is an unscheduled day for me. My to-do list from a month ago is largely complete and I'm reluctant to start a new list. I woke at 5:00 AM today, but lingered in bed until 6:30 when I couldn't handle it anymore and I started my day. So in this limbo time between waking and waiting for my greater family to be available socially, I feel like writing. I don't have any discrete or concrete ideas, but yet I write.

A year ago, I most likely blogged from Brooklyn where the newness and excitement were fresh and vivid. I often wish that the thrill could continue, but I also know that the gnawing sense of lonliness in Brooklyn would not be good for me. Because in the steel, bricks, and mortar of Brooklyn, I would pine for quiet comfort, but here I simply look out my window and marvel at the dew-heavy grass bending with ripe, purple grass-seed. Comfort.

Yesterday, my nieces spent the afternoon here and I got another sip of the elixir of having a family, and I also felt the encroaching weariness of tending to the relentless needs of dependent children. My brother-in-law and sister spent the afternoon grazing on the greener grass of time without kids, and I grazed on the greener grass of having children around.

We did cool things.

We picked peas from Edwin's garden. We watched a little TV at his house and afterwards they pointed out potato bugs that I picked and we fed to my hens. We watched the little chicks for a while and fed them worms. We picked lettuce, beet greens, and swiss chard from my meager gardens, washing and drying the leafy greens for supper. Inside my house, we baked cornbread and a cake from a box. I prepared two types of macaroni and cheese and we mixed them together and discussed how it tasted.

My niece discovered my jelly samples given to my by a first cousin, so we debated the merits of spicey apple jelly versus wanda lime mango preserve (or something like that). Eventually we spread two flavors on cornbread and futher discussed the merits of the jellies. The same niece continued her discovery of an expander worn in her top palate.


A chick-a-dee just went into my eldest niece's birdhouse. There has been a fierce, non-stop bird battle recently because the house wrens are defending their turf from the inward migration of chick-a-dees. All four houses are hot properties and I watch birds flitter around testing each house one by one.

My television has been off for nearly a month, only on during Betsey's visit while we watched an episode of FireFly. Today I am tempted to turn it on, but that would require hooking up the powered antenna and even though episodes of The Three Stooges are a strong draw, I'll do without (or I could walk to Edwin's to watch TV).

Something unexpected happened in my experiment without television. I hear better. Recently on a prior weekend, I heard something so I looked to my left through the picture window. Nothing. I waited. Two turkey hens emerged and walked the line of the split rail fence towards Edwin's house.

It's easy now to hear the mailman approach and open my mail box. I hear other animals moving through the field or brush along the road. Maybe it's not that I hear better, but I know what normal is without the piped in cacophony of regular media.

Just now, I see a house wren pause on the fourth birdhouse and call out a message, as if she is saying 'Ok you chick-a-dees, take note of this skirmish in our epic battle for property. I ~landed~ here on the house. Oh wait, a worm. I better fly off and eat it.' As she flies away.

I know what normal sounds like because my windows are wide open in all but the most severe weather. The differences are easier to detect. As I wrote earlier, this is comfort to integrate myself here into nature and dwell on the mid-crest of a hill in southern NH.

Speaking of dwellings, the homestead is up for auction starting yesterday and the rumor is that the starting bid is $99K. I debated whether or not I should try to purchase the property, but in the end I decided to not stretch myself thinner than I have. The price is a bit steep for me right now and I would have to dedicate myself to renovating the old building because the bank wouldn't let me just knock it over into ruins. That costs time and money that I'm unwilling to give.

I still dream of joining the old homestead property back together, but for today, I am happy with what I have.

Yesterday , a half-dozen people from the New Hampshire Group on Flickr met at the Ponemah Bog in Amherst, NH at 5:00 AM. We took photos for a while and stood on a viewing platform and talked for nearly an hour. It was reminiscent of our respective youth where everyone was equal, happy to be together, and happy to share. comfort.

The Boardwalk Ponemah Bog Style

On the way back, another photographer (that I shared a ride with) and I stopped at Tucker's Brook and I took the oddest self-portrait that I have ever made. The pose was bred from a combination of encouragement of an online friend overseas, the work of Arno Minkonnen, and a bit of boredom after capturing most of the conventional shots at Tucker's Brook.

Tim at Tucker Brook

I always love to push the envelope into bizarro, but I keep looking at the shot with a raging internal debate to the tune of - leave it on Flickr? Take it down? Is it disturbing? Is it ok?

And I reflect on the succinct words from my friend Pat Henderson regarding good personal writing. If you're not trembling in a scary place while you write, dig deeper. That's how I feel about my self-portrait and for now, I'll leave it posted.

** final aside **

I see the buzzword 'change' in the recent US election and I'm confused. The verbs 'repair', 'correct', or 'renovate' all make more sense to me. I admit that many things are broken; so let's fix them. Service and repair is a humble and important job. I'm good at it. I know.

Change. Change to what? I am not comfortable with a 'change' indicated by exorbitant amounts of money spent ($4.00 gasoline anyone?) to flood some aptly (or unfortunately) named town with hyped-up people to deliver a specious message in a flashy way.

Flash, in my mind, usually indicates a weak foundation and makes me suspicious, nervous.

At a previous job, we hired a pair of horrible executives who directly added to the difficulty of my work as I tried to hold the world-wide installed base together. (That means that I was a key piece to our worldwide service and support organization, responsible for 10,000+ machines working properly.) I looked to a respected manager for help reconciling what was happening and also for support, because it was easy to see the impending mess that these two flashy guys would cause.

Things turned messy, too. I remember railing against technical problems that required buy-in and support from our flashy executives. The support wasn't there because they couldn't build credibility or trust with our customers. The customers were equally frustrated by messages without substance like I was.

I read the buzzword 'change' and see displays like the one in Unity that give me the same sinking sense of foreboding doom.

The managers reply to comfort me? 'These guys have a track record of two years between jobs and they move on. Be patient. Everyone knows that they are all sizzle and no steak.'

The only problem is that politics is not a minor corporate skirmish for a few hundred people's income. The risk of 'change' (to what?!?) is so much greater when it comes to our nation and our world.

I'm nervous.

** I guess that wasn't the end **

Besides, should we even trust ourselves in our inherent human frailty to direct change?

Still trying to add it up, while settling deeper into my personal political beliefs.

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