We got spoiled earlier last week. Balmy weather. Several days I left the house without a jacket. Thursday we got shocked back to winter. It's been cold, overcast, and windy. The widget on my desktop says it's now 18 degrees F and with the wind feels like -8, but that's in Hazlet, down the road a bit and further inland where there's a weather station, I guess. Here next to the bay I'm sure it's colder. And windier.
The folks across the street have a gas grill in their side yard, and they seem to cook dinner on it almost every night. She's out there right now, a few minutes to 10 pm, in a cold wind, cooking something.
Today is my next-younger brother's birthday. I think he's 67. Dear Big-Little Sister and Daughter are in close touch (I'm a social slob, I leave family contact to them) and Sister told Daughter that Brother has throat/oral/mouth? cancer.
I don't know what to think about that. I haven't seen or spoken to him in more than 35 years, and I don't want to. The last contact I had with him was when we (Ex#2, Daughter, and I) were living in the DC area, and for some undisclosed reason (Mom later hinted at his being in trouble with some drug cartel or something) he had to get out of Florida and hide for a while, so he came to live with us. It was not a good experience. He may or may not have done something unforgivable while he was living with us, that's murky because Daughter was only 3 or 4 then and didn't tell me about it for many years, so I don't know, but given some things my late baby sister said I believe in the possibility if not the actuality, anyway he was very disruptive while with us and then he disappeared with no notice, leaving me to deal with phone calls and threats from very scary people looking for him. And he never explained what was going on or said thank you (or paid back the money I lent him). He just disappeared. So, it's like he's a stranger. I have no feelings.
I had more of a reaction to the news about Evan Morris, the "Word Detective" guy. He's been battling progressive MS for years, and has now been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. He and his wife and a herd of adopted ex-feral cats live way out in the sticks, and their 19-year-old car died, and they have no means to buy another. I really feel for him. The link above goes to a letter to those of us subscribers who have been enjoying his column for years.
Sister has given rides to Brother to his treatments. I admire my Big-Little Sister. She has even greater reason to write off Brother than I, but she is capable of more compassion and forgiveness than I.
I've been reading old posts in this blog. You know, memories are not always very accurate. I loved the country house, loved the countryside, all the things to do there, all the friends and acquaintances. I went out for lunch or dinner with friends at least three times a week, and there was something interesting going on almost every weekend. I remember all the good stuff. In fact, I was so deluded as to think that I never felt cold in that house.
The winters were brutal! The house is on a ridge, higher than surrounding land, so I got more snow and wind. The 300 foot driveway was constantly buried in snow, ice, slush, a horror, and it was not always easy to find someone to clear it. If the snow was soft enough that I could run the snowthrower, it took hours to do it myself, and the snowthrower was constantly breaking down. We were constantly losing electricity because of downed wires, which meant no heat, no water (no well pump). And even though the house was technically tight and the thermostat said the temperature was constant, every time the sun went down, I felt so cold.
In the spring and fall, there were storms, ice storms and wind storms, that took out branches and whole trees on my property. One year I lost more than 23 trees. I don't know how there's any trees left in my woods!
In the summer it was the weeds, and raspberries, and wild roses that threatened to overrun everything - a constant losing battle. Then there was the yellow jackets, who built nests in, on, and under anything that held still for more than a few hours. I had to be careful every time I opened a car door, or filled a car gas tank, because there was likely a nest in there. And then there were the ground-nesting hornets that made it dangerous to walk across the lawn, let alone mow. And the chipmunks who undermined the driveway, causing cave-ins. And the mice who rampaged in the attic, and died in the walls.
Old blog posts remind me that it wasn't all that idyllic. At my current age and physical state, I'm not sure I could handle it. Well, maybe I could, but I absolutely don't want to anymore.
I've about decided the only thing I really miss are the daffodils. And Jay.
I think I'm finally ready to do something about it.
Last spring I got aggressive about the front lawn. It was full of dandelions. I sprinkled a weed killer and fertilizer, and some grass seed, and for most of the summer it looked almost decent.
Then in early fall, some kind of weed started growing. It has continued to spread, even through the winter. It's now covering most of the upper half of the lawn.
It's "Creeping Charlie". You know what? I'm going to let it take over. It's low, it's green, it's evergreen, it has tiny leaves and tiny purplish flowers, and it laughs at most weed killers. It's edible, and smells nice when mowed. I can still spray or sprinkle for dandelions and crabgrass without apparently hurting it.
Sounds like it's easier to keep than grass, and needs less mowing. I can't think of any reason one would prefer grass.
I saw the first robin in the front yard this morning.
As I mentioned, I've been reading my blog posts from 2006,7,8, and I think I am finally cured of wanting to move back up there to the old house The winters were BRUTAL! I don't think I would be capable of handling that driveway any more. I do think it's time to let go, and be glad of it.