Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wednesday's Words for February 13, 2019

I don’t remember a great deal, first hand, about my father. He died when I was eight and a half years old. I wasn’t a sophisticated eight-year-old, not by a long shot. I don’t think many kids were in those days. Television didn’t have a huge influence on our lives, back then. You might say it was the golden age of parental controls. If it was a nice day outside, no Saturday morning was spent in front of the television, except for maybe a half hour or so. Then it was, “get outside and don’t come in unless you have to use the bathroom.”

Most of what I know about my father I gleaned from the few times, when I was an adolescent and then a teenager, that my mother would tell me little things about him. I do have a few personal memories, ones I’ve held close because there really are so few of them. I believe the trauma of losing him when I was at such a young age did something to my memory, which is why I don’t have many. I mean, I really didn’t know there was such a thing as a parent dying, and then one of mine did!

One thing I do recall both in reality and from my mother mentioning it was that the name of this second month of the year was generally preceded by a very bad word, when my father said it. I don’t know if that’s because it was the month of his birth, or if it was because traditionally, at least in those days, February was the harshest month of the winter.

Yesterday as I read the new winter storm warnings, and as I looked out my window at the white precipitation and heard the sound of ice hitting the glass, I realized this month still is the harshest winter month.

And of course, it’s this month in which we are flying for the first time in a couple of years. Go figure.

While I excel at maintaining a positive, and basically happy attitude on the outside, I do tend toward worrying on the inside. Some worry in life is unavoidable. I recall that for a few years after my father died, I lived in fear that my mother would, too. About a month after he passed, my mom “threw her back out”. She had to lie on the sofa for a time, and I was convinced she was dying.

If she was late getting home from work, or if she didn’t arrive home when I expected her, I would tremble in terror until she arrived safe and sound. In point of fact, she did leave us thirteen years after my father, when she was 57 and I was 21. She died at home of a heart attack.

To this day if somebody isn’t here when they say they will be, my first thought heads down that same dark fear-strewn trail. And into this rich psychological background and history, I’m introducing something new, something never before contemplated: a drive to Buffalo and a flight to Texas in expletive-deleted February.

I’m pretty good at setting my worries aside, and I have denial down to a fine art, so I’ll probably be fine. But still.

I’m not looking forward to the travel, but I am looking forward, eagerly, to the people who await me at the end of this trek. My best friend lives in Texas, just a half hour from San Antonio and I can hardly wait to see her again. Another very dear friend lives in Utah, and she’ll be in San Antonio at this time, too. The friend I’ve had the longest in my life winters in Texas, and there’s a slight chance I may see her, too.

I’ll be spending some time with my publisher, and what a magnificent bonus that is!

There are also some wonderful people who’ve been kind enough to read my books and support my career, cherished friends! Some I will be hugging again, and some, for the very first time. I’d pledged to attend this author/reader event, “Wild Wicked Weekend”, two years ago, and let me tell you the intervening time has sped! There’s so much to plan and get ready, I’m in just a bit of a quandary at the moment. I haven’t even begun my list, and if all y’all know anything about me after all these essays I’ve written, it’s that I always have a list, and I have it early.

“Morgan, don’t worry. Clearly, you’re simply mellowing in your September years,” you might say. Ah, how I wish that was so! Unfortunately, the truth is a bit less cheery a thought than that.

I have a darn good memory – it’s just that lately, it’s really, really short.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wednesday's Words for February 6, 2019

The deep freeze finally left us, and within two days of that, practically all of our snow had melted. It had been fairly deep, five or six inches, and I was amazed at how quickly it simply vanished. Today, there remains but small isolated piles, remnants of snow and ice, where the snow had been shoveled into mounds. The stairs leading down from my porch and my walkway are completely clear, for which I’m grateful.

That means there’ll be only one layer of ice to worry about, and that’s the one placed there by the freezing rain now falling. It’s morning, and this ice will taper, supposedly, this afternoon.

I’m not kidding myself that the white stuff is done for the season. I understand that winter still has a few howls left in it, I’m sure, before full spring blooms. That was the second-deep freeze of this winter so far. We had one in November, I think. It only lasted a few days, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as this most recent one.

Now here I must digress for just a brief moment, to share with you one of my pet peeves. I really feel the television and radio meteorologists suffer from a lack of specificity. For example, I must insist that once cold gets to a certain “temperature” it’s just frigid. And when the “weather people” say the next day is going to be warmer because it’s going to be minus eighteen instead of minus twenty? Then I submit, it is not warmer at all, it is merely slightly less cold. People, there is nothing warm about minus eighteen. Can I get an amen on that?

I don’t think I particularly mind the on again/off again approach Mother Nature has taken this winter. Immediately on the heels of that week of extreme cold, we had a couple of really warmer days—one day it went up to (plus) fifty degrees. While the back and forth of fluctuating temperatures might cause havoc for some, I feel it’s better to have a few days break than to have an unrelenting winter. I’ve experienced a lot of those in my lifetime, and having breaks is definitely better.

On either Sunday or Monday, I heard geese passing overhead. I don’t believe they’re geese that have returned from migration. I think they’re birds that are wintering here. I don’t even know if they all “fly south” for the winter any more. If they do, do you suppose they get stressed out to arrive in to Georgia, or northern Texas, only to find there’s snow there, too?

It’s odd, the questions that occur to me sometimes.

Our dog, also, is happy that the extreme cold has left, because he doesn’t like the frigid temperatures any more than we do. He’s just a little guy—barely eight pounds—and not very tall, so we’re particularly careful of him. We don’t let him out for more than a few minutes when it’s really cold, and in fact, he just goes out, takes care of business, and hurries right back in.

Because he is so little, we need to ensure there is a path created for him in the back yard, a “path to peedom”, using a phrase coined by a friend. Little dogs don’t do well in deep snow. Additionally, Mr. Tuffy is a male, and if the snow touches a certain part of his anatomy, well, he’ll have no part of that at all, thank you very much. Generally speaking, we need to ensure he has a path for any amount of snow approaching four inches. He’s really that short.

I want to try and impart a positive message here. I want to always try to uplift, but if I can’t uplift, I’ll settle for amusement. That’s not always easy to do, and I don’t always succeed the way I’d like to. I do try, and I believe the need is urgent.

You see, I heard a speech yesterday and I didn’t feel there was much positivity in it, no plans to make things better and certainly no uplifting. Hence, I do feel called upon to give some here.

I’m pleased to inform you that three of the four North American groundhogs I know about, Punxsutawney Phil, Wiarton Willie, and Staten Island Chuck, have all predicted an early spring. And truthfully, if you think about it, the earliest sign of spring has in fact arrived.

The days are a noticeably a little longer now than they were a month ago. I noticed, because at five-thirty p.m., yesterday afternoon, there was still enough light to see the neighbor’s back yard out of our living room window. The sun did not set, officially, until 5:50 pm.

The sun will set today at 5:52 p.m., two minutes later than yesterday. So spring is arriving, and at a speed of two minutes per day. This is not only positive, it’s something else that’s rare these days.

It is the unvarnished, unapologetic, unaltered truth.

I’m a big fan of the truth, and I’m more sad than I can say that I have to turn to the weather in order to find some.