Sunday, December 9, 2012

I wear this close to my heart. Read on to find out why.

Shortly after I added my previous essay, I noticed that I had reached a milestone for Momentary Joy:
My 100th posting! 
I rarely play the lottery, but I do enjoy playing with numbers, though not in the strictly mathematical sense.
I even have a lucky number.
It's 13.
I suppose you could say (if you know and love weird words) that instead of triskaidekaphobia, I have triskaidekaphilia.
The Urban Dictionary describes that tongue-twisting word as "obsession with the number 13."
I'm not obsessed, just amused by how often that number turns up in my life.
For example, I was born on Friday the 13th.
The numbers in the address of my childhood home add up to 13.
The numbers in the address of the house I live in now add up to 13.
At my first newspaper job, my phone extension was 13.
At my next newspaper job, I was assigned a computer file number of 13.
Some of the 13s I chose myself:
I have worn the number 13 on my softball jersey for years, except for a few seasons when I wore 49 ... which adds up to 13.
I confess that when possible, I pick gym lockers with numbers that add up to 13.
Hmmm. Maybe that Urban Dictionary definition isn't so far off.
My very logical husband gently teases me about my … affection for the number, even suggesting that if I tried hard enough, I could find patterns in my life connecting to other numbers. Maybe, but hey, those other numbers aren't my lucky number, they're someone else's.
A recent case in point:
Abington Free Library just completed its annual Mimi Zabel Jewelry Auction.
I had never placed a bid in the silent auction, which is held through the month of November. On the auction's penultimate day (I almost never get to use that word!), I decided to take a look at the offerings.
One pin caught my eye almost immediately: a black circle with mother of pearl inlays, depicting a night sky complete with crescent moon and a shooting star.
My husband and I saw a shooting star on our first date, and we both made the same wish that night, which happily came true. (Even very logical people sometimes play with magic.) 
In short, that pin spoke to my heart.
Then I noticed the number attached to it: 85 … which adds up to 13.
I flipped open the binder to find the bids for item 85. The most recent entry was a bid for $10.
It only took me a second to decide what to bid: $13.
Apparently it was meant to be.
A few days later the phone rang. One of the Friends of the Library was calling to tell me that I had won the bidding for the pin.
Lucky me!
And, lucky 13.
(As I wrote this, I noticed that the number for the pin, 85, also happens to be the year we were married. I almost feel like cueing up the music for "The Twilight Zone.")

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My husband and I enjoyed Sunday brunch recently at the Spring Mill Cafe in Conshohocken, followed by a bike ride along the Schuylkill River Trail. 
A kid at heart, he likes to make a game of our rides and hikes, often suggesting we track down something unusual along the route. Last winter, for instance, we played a game of seek-and-find with the statue of the Lenape chief along Forbidden Drive. (We played that same game in September with friends, the hunt made harder by the canopy of leaves.)
On this sunny Sunday we had a new goal: finding huge wind chimes my husband thought he had seen a while back, somewhere along the river.
"Somewhere along the river" covers quite a stretch, but we were optimistic. His instincts told him to get off the path and head down River Road. 
"Off the beaten path" is a good way to describe this less-taken road, nestled between the river and the train tracks. I got a '60s feel as we pedaled past gardens, yard art, plant-covered porches and peace signs. 
As we approached a wide green lawn leading to the riverbank, my husband spotted the chimes. There are three of them, huge indeed, hanging from tall trees in the center of the grass. An inviting hammock rests below.
Earlier he had said it might take a hurricane to make those chimes ring, and he just may be right. The light breeze that day did nothing to move those pipes, some of them over 4 feet long.
"Should we ring them?" I said, already knowing the answer to that question.
I looked around.
No fence, no sign saying "Keep out," no one else in sight.
"I'll hold your bike," my husband said.
Feeling like a mischievous kid, I ran to the first set of chimes and gently swung the wooden clapper. Low, harmonic tones sounded.
I turned to the center set  -- the Big Ben of the group -- and did the same. Even deeper tones gonged.
I set the smallest set to ringing, adding to the chorus, then ran back to my bike, feeling giddy and happy.
As we pedaled away I shouted, "Thank you!" to the unseen owners of those beautiful instruments.
I'm sure I'm not the first person to give in to that irresistible impulse; I'm also sure I won't be the last.
I may have to go back for an encore.

Phone cameras do come in handy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One of my favorite reasons to look up in Philadelphia.

I met my husband for lunch in Center City yesterday, a more than momentary joy.
We also got to see our son, which always warms this mother's heart.
On my way back to the train station, I felt like a tourist, gazing up at skyscrapers, marveling at marble inlays, bronze sculptures, amazing stonework.
Heading home, I got a kick out of seeing my folks' house from the railroad side, zipping by the suburban back yards of my childhood.
'Twas a good day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Technical note:
I have heard from several readers in recent months that they have trouble leaving comments on "Momentary Joy."
This is troubling, since part of the fun of writing a blog is hearing back from readers. It can become a virtual conversation.
The good news is that I've changed one of the settings, which should make leaving comments easier.
If you're so inspired, click on the "Comments" link at the bottom of a posting. (If you're the first to comment, the link will say "No Comments.")
Next to the words, "Comment as," choose your easiest option from the drop-down menu. 
Don't be put off by the "Name/URL" choice if you don't have a URL. In a test, it worked fine by simply adding a name, leaving the URL field blank. You can also comment anonymously.
Since I always put a link to my blog on Facebook, many of you kindly leave comments there. 
If you really want to make my day, you can become an official follower of "Momentary Joy," using the link on the bottom right. (That process is not quite as flexible as leaving a comment.)
  I appreciate all feedback, however you choose to deliver it to me!

The ghosts are back.

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, Halloween got an extension around here.
In our town, trick-or-treating was moved to Saturday afternoon, the better to keep everyone safe from darkened streets and downed trees. Smart idea.
On Sunday, the day before Sandy struck, our house looked so barren. Anything that could be blown away we had carefully stowed inside, either in the house or the garage.
By Halloween, the winds and rain had subsided for the most part (we miraculously did not lose power), and it felt safe to venture outdoors again. At first, the only people I saw were dog walkers (necessity always calls), runners, and drivers of power trucks. Little by little, a sense of normalcy returned.
Gargoyle on guard
Remembering the season, I decided to put things back in place.
Gargoyle on the top step?
Giant spider hanging from porch ceiling?
Ghosts fluttering above railings?
Political lawn signs?
It looked like home again.
Years ago I worked for newspapers, where weather stories come with the territory. (Granted, those stories aren't always as dramatic as a hurricane. You could have to call a hardware store to find out about the shortage of snow shovels in January, or air-conditioners in August.)
In the midst of one hurricane season in the newsroom, I heard this wry gem:
"What did hurricanes sound like before there were freight trains?"
(I wish I could remember who said that, so I could give the writer credit.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

For a writer, connecting with more readers is a more than momentary joy. 
Last week I was happy to have one of my essays published on a blog called TrainWrite.
You can catch it here:
My thanks go to its creator and conductor, Karen Eileen Sikola.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My morning routine begins with a brief trip out front with our dog.
Wednesday morning's trip, however, proved hardly routine.
While Louie got busy with his usual painstaking sniff of multiple blades of grass, I sleepily looked down the driveway toward our garage. What I saw surprised me.
As you can see in my previous posting, Louie sports two large, white pointy ears (the better to hear the UPS truck with). As I looked down our drive yesterday, I spotted another set of large, pointy ears, in brown, about knee-high from the ground. Below those ears? Two dark, focused eyes. 
My brain flipped through the possibilities. A dog? Cat? Wait. No … that's a fox!
We stared at each other, me transfixed, the fox sitting regally on his haunches. After a minute, he hunkered down, tail wrapping around paws. 
  While I had heard the eerie cry of a fox one summer night long ago, I'd never seen one in our neighborhood before. I thought about raccoons, and how spotting them in daylight is not a good thing, and I wondered whether the same would apply to foxes.
I took Louie inside, fired up my laptop, and pulled out the township calendar to look up the number for animal control, just in case. I watched the fox from our kitchen window, and saw his eyes blinking and his head bobbing a bit, as if he were about to doze off.
   Google quickly allayed my fears. It turns out that foxes will sleep out in the open, and the sun-warmed leaves out back seemed a good spot for a snooze.
I headed out with my camera, and took a first (blurry) shot. I took a couple of casual steps closer, and snapped another photo. One more step became too close for fox comfort. He rose, looked over at me once more, and padded off toward our neighbor's back yard.
I'm sorry I disturbed your rest, Mr. Fox. Next time I'll let you be.

My morning visitor.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It does pay to look up these days.
Blue skies are back, in all their azure glory. 
(A friend who read my last posting suggested I try "azure," since cerulean was on back order in recent weeks. Good idea.)
Those blue skies beckoned yesterday, when I took our dog, Louie, out to the front yard. We have no fence, and he is a terrier who fairly flies at the sight of a squirrel, cat, or UPS truck, which means he goes outside on a leash.
I had planned on just a brief visit, various errands also beckoning. Once he was done his business, I turned and headed toward the porch, Louie in tow. As I reached the top step I felt a tug on the leash behind me. I turned. There was Lou, plunked down on a sunny step. I gently tugged. He firmly stayed put.
"I don't blame you," I said, and stepped down to sit next to him, scratching him behind his party hat ears.
I decided to let both of us stay out there a bit. I yanked some weeds; he soaked up the sun.
Dogs know a good thing when they see one.
Louie in bask mode.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The sun is making a comeback.
It appears that September used up all the blue in the sky warehouse. Cerulean, alas, is on back order.
So far October has delivered four straight days of overcast, somber gray.
 Shortly before sunset tonight, however, I looked out our back window and saw a white disc of sunlight cutting through the clouds.
Listening to the radio later, I heard a forecast for a sunny tomorrow -- with a high of 82!
I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

At a gathering this summer, I happened to walk into the middle of a conversation.
"Now I have a reason to go to Maine," a friend said. "The lobster roll!" 
Hearing that, my mind takes me to the annual Easter egg roll held on the White House lawn. Briefly, I think perhaps the lobster roll is some kind of summer event held in Maine.
I mention this, and start to laugh as another friend explains that, no, "lobster roll" is definitely something to eat.
Meanwhile, the first friend starts laughing, too, describing how a lobster roll could work -- or not work. Length-wise would definitely be the preferred rolling technique, she says, making circles with her hands. End-over-end would likely end badly. Those dang claws … 
I'm so glad my brain leans toward the ludicrous.
And, for the record, no lobsters were harmed during our conversation.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sunny Susans 
Truth be told, I've been avoiding writing.
When you write something called "Momentary Joy," and you've been feeling less than joyful, well, you see my predicament.
This has been a difficult year, beginning with the death of my father in January. Last month, another close to my heart passed away: my dance teacher, who graced this earth for 99 years, teaching almost to the very end. She taught as much about life as she did about dance (and that's a piece of writing for another day).
So my heart has been heavy, and my mind a bit murky, neither of which helps words flow onto the page. But I learned long ago that grief is a maze, not a straight path, and thankfully, there is a way through.
While walking Tuesday night, I thought about that emotional maze, and the phrase "down time" floated to mind. Two possible meanings of that phrase hit me, and it seemed so fitting. 
I've needed down time: in the sense of cutting back on all the things I try to do in a day, giving myself time to just "be," and in the sense of allowing myself to just feel … down. 
All along, I've tried to keep my eyes open for momentary joys (even if I haven't been writing about them). I like to think of them as nudges from the universe, reminders of blessings worth counting. Let me offer two recent nudges that gave me hope.
On a drive home from work, I stopped at a red light. Up ahead, an enormous grey-black cloud loomed over a small patch of vivid blue sky. Little by little the grey smothered the blue, and before the light changed, that vibrant patch was gone. Obliterated. 
I could relate.
Moments later I glanced over my left shoulder and was surprised to see a totally blue sky blooming behind me. 
The grey? Nowhere in sight.
Message received.
I felt the second nudge -- more of a shove, really -- on another walk. About half-way home, I was thinking about writing, not writing, and the general cloud hovering over my mood. I'd paid little attention to my surroundings until I turned a corner and … surprise! A huge swath of black-eyed Susans stretched out along the sidewalk ahead, brilliant orange, chest-high and breathtakingly beautiful. I stopped, stood, and just soaked them in. Before long, I noticed a butterfly flitting from bloom to bloom, a moth, a fly, a bumble bee burrowing in for pollen.
I'd been walking, preoccupied by my troubles, and joy awaited -- just around the corner.
Message received.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I answered our phone a while back, and a woman's voice said, "I just had to call, Melanie. Aren't you so glad they won?"
I had to break it to her that I wasn't Melanie, but I asked her if it was the Phillies she was talking about.
She happily explained that yes, the Phillies had just won, 9-2. I thought of my mom, whom I had visited earlier in the day, just as the game was starting. She was so hoping for a win.
Thanks to a wrong number, I learned those Phillies must have made Melanie's day. My mom's, too.
It was nice to share happiness with a stranger.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Monday, just after high noon.
So as not to go blind, I did not look through the viewfinder.
Lucky shot. 
They say March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.
I'll say July has come in like a truck full of habanero peppers. Make that a truck engulfed in flames -- and full of habanero peppers.
OK. It's been hot.
My family and I missed summer's fiery entrance here. We were visiting relatives in Minnesota, Washington state and northern Idaho (all a more than momentary joy). In those  northern climes, summer hadn't quite got up to speed. In Idaho, we even broke out jackets.
Ah, memories.
At church on Sunday, before the sun served up 96 degrees, a friend asked me his version of, "Hot enough for you?"
In a slightly wilted tone, I replied that yes, it was more than hot enough.
His response rejuvenated me.
The smile on his face widened as he explained how much enjoys this weather. It feels, he said, like home. 
I should mention that he comes from Nigeria.
Arms gesturing, and in his beautifully lilting accent, he said he just loves the heat, loves being able to do things outside (not like during our bitter winters). Mostly, it seemed, he loves this warm memory of his home country.
What a refreshing attitude.
I will try to remember his smiling face next time the 90s, and even the 100s, pay us an extended visit. 
There's no place like home.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Momentary Joy is … taking a moment.
My days have been full of late. I have plenty to write about, just not plenty of time … at the moment.
I did go hunting for that purple stegosaurus (see post below). He was nowhere to found. I like to believe he was happily reunited with his human. 
For now, I'll leave you with a photo, inspired by a friend's text message. In it she described an unusual, beautiful sight: a rose climbing high into a dogwood in her back yard. From her kitchen window, she could see the red popping against green, a view so pretty she wanted to share it.
I thank her for that. 
Summer's almost here. Keep your eyes open for beauty, and joy. 
When you find it, don't forget to share.
Unexpected roses

Thursday, May 31, 2012

When you live with a dog, you have to take walks.
After we adopted Louie, our Westie mix, we read that taking a dog for a walk is good for his self-esteem. He marks his territory all along the way, and the farther you go, the larger his territory grows. (We've heard Westies referred to as "little Napoleons." How fitting.)
The person on the other end of the leash also benefits from the walk, and not just from the exercise.
Actually, Louie tends to dawdle, so if I really want to get a walking workout, I have to leave him at home.
Dawdling, however, offers a different kind of benefit, a gift, actually, although one requiring patience to open.
On a recent walk, Louie stopped by a hedge down the street, oh so carefully sniffing the lower leaves and individual blades of surrounding grass. I had a choice: tug him along to get a move on, or let him follow his nose. On that day, I chose the nose.
Standing still, I found my attention drawn to a frantic flutter of wings rising from deep within the hedge.
At first, I spotted two, then three feathered heads peeking from the hedge top: a trio of sparrows. I looked closer, and saw more birds within. Six, then seven sparrows, blending in with the brown network of twigs. More flew in from overhead, perching on the sturdy stems. I kept counting, eventually reaching 14 sparrows, all clustering in a space the size of a clothes hamper.
Thanks, Lou, for giving me time to notice.
A walk down a different block offered another wildlife sighting a few days later.
Keeping an eye on Louie requires me to look down a lot, which is why the low flash of purple caught my eye.
        Poised on the curb, in all its plastic prehistoric glory, was a stegosaurus. A small one.
He (I don't know why, but he just seemed like a "he") looked like he had spent eons out in the wild, with dry strands of mown grass embedded in his armor.
I hope his owner looks down, too, and finds him.
I'll have to check if he's there on our next walk.
Suburban stegosaurus

Saturday, May 19, 2012

This morning, I headed out back to cut the lawn, which had grown leggier in the past rainy week.
I finished in about an hour, just as the sun hit a hot high noon.
I came into the kitchen, where our daughter was heating up Chinese leftovers.
With a satisfied sigh I said:
"The mow is lawned."
Perhaps I should start wearing a hat out there.
Sun-dappled lawn with maple.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lovely lily

As I write this I am within "nose shot" of two of my favorite scents: lilac and lily.
I inhale, remember, and smile.
Many a scientist has explored why scent and memory are so intertwined. A brief internet search reveals articles about the "olfactory bulb," and its connections to the brain's amygdala and hippocampus.
My brain, briefly fascinated, started to fade as the forest of technical terms thickened. The poet in my brain brightened when I came across this quote on the Pacifica Perfume website. It's from Diane Ackerman, and her book "A Natural History of the Senses":
“Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once."
Poignant land mines indeed.
One whiff of lilac and I'm transported to my childhood back yard, where a grand old lilac still blooms. That tree gave us blossoms for the grade school flower show; a perch for a birdhouse built by one of my brothers; a hiding place for Easter eggs. When we played wiffle ball, the lilac roughly marked third base.
That tree is the mother of the lilac I transplanted some 20 years ago to a corner by our front porch. Each year I eagerly await the blooming season, and keep my kitchen vase filled.
The lily I mentioned, whose flowers have mostly faded, was an Easter gift from our church in memory of my dad, who passed away in January. Whenever I see it, I'm reminded of him, and also the wonderful, caring community of St. Peter's.
This was a happy/sad Easter, one of the many "firsts" families have to mark as they move through their loss. 
Aside from one nephew now in California, our family was all together for the traditional feast at my Mom and Dad's house. I find such comfort in their company.
I'm reminded of a phrase I often use. When there's a party or event that I can't attend for some reason, I'll say, "I'll be there in spirit."
That's how Dad was with us at Easter, and will be all the days to come.
Good to remember.

Monday, April 16, 2012

With graduation season almost upon us, a big question for students is: Where do I go from here?
Many parents will ask themselves the same question, along with another: 
"Where did the years go?"
From the perspective of those moms and dads in the bleachers, childhood traveled at warp speed. (Parents in the diaper years may beg to differ, but they'll learn soon enough.)
For our family, the college years are just about a memory. Our nest still sways between empty and full, and happily so. 
I've come to learn though, that when you have pets, your nest is never really empty. (I think that was part of my heart's buffer plan.)
Our "first-born" was a black and white kitten we named Opus (after the penguin from the "Bloom County" comic strip). He stayed with us for 20 years, a furry older sibling for our son and daughter.
Opus left a large hole in our hearts when he left, making room for two more cats and a dog, who joined us during the high school years.
When our last-born went off to college, I was so grateful to have the three of them for company.
I think of Louie, our dog, as an eternal toddler. A Westie mix, he's about the height of a 3-year-old when he stands on his hind legs, paws on windowsill, looking out at the world. There's nothing so heartwarming as coming home and seeing just his eyes and two party-hat ears poking up from the back window. He's always happy to see us.
The cats, being cats, speak a different language of affection -- and disaffection. (Louie, the eternally optimistic dog, still seems to think a swishing cat tail is the same as a wagging dog tail. "She wants to play, right? Right?" Wrong.)
Our cats do like to play. Hunters that they are, their games usually involve stalking, chasing and pouncing. (Louie and April, our tortoise shell cat, face off daily, each taking turns as the chaser and the "chase-ee.")
This morning I found more evidence of their games.
A small collection of plastic Easter eggs had been nestled on a shelf in the living room. (I like to let holidays linger.) This morning the shelf was empty. I found eggs "hiding" all over: under a bookshelf, next to an old corner cabinet, wedged in the sofa.
It's become an annual event, this post-Easter egg hunt.
A bit of childhood preserved, courtesy of our cats.
April with her seasonal "prey."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It does pay to look down.

The day was blustery, but my car kept out the cold.
Stopped at a corner, I peered through the windshield, watching swirls of white flurry across the road.
Drifts gathered and grew by the curb.
Not snow. Cherry blossoms.
After seeing those petals fly this morning, I drove home, grabbed my camera, and went in search of more pink and white beauty.
At one point I stood (carefully) in the middle of a quiet street. The wind gusted, and I found myself in a cherry blossom snow globe. Fallen petals whirled into the air, then fell back to the street, some of them rolling -- yes, rolling -- on their edges before plopping flat against the dark asphalt.
  Every breeze brings a new constellation.
You can connect the dots.
Spring pink on blue sky.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I love the spiky shadows on the sidewalk.

I didn't make it to the Philadelphia Flower Show. 
Fortunately there are blooms abundant free for the viewing on my daily walk.
Daffodils, crocuses, miniature irises … all those planned and planted beauties decorate gardens all through the neighborhood.
I'm particularly fond of the unplanned blossoms, the ones I call "voluntary plants."
Each year, it seems, a new volunteer appears in our yard. One year it was a tiny blue flower shaped like the most miniature of orchids. This year, a delicate white bloom has popped atop tall, green stems.
  In front of a friend's house down the street, minute clover-like flowers festoon the crack between two sidewalk blocks. A corner house is awash in yellow cousins of the daisy.
The yard maintenance industry may not agree with me, but I'd say even dandelions have their beauty, in their sunny yellow and even puff-ball stages.
One woman's weed is another woman's wildflower.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Look out below.
"It's chippy," I said with a shiver.
(I get a kick out of accidental words that fall out of my mouth, in this case a combination of "chilly" and "nippy.")
On that chippy day not long ago, my husband and I were walking along Forbidden Drive. The late afternoon sun didn't offer much warmth, and our lunch had leaned toward the indulgent, so we kept the pace quick.
The views were lovely, starting with a rushing waterfall. On the calmer creek side, the mirror surface reflected blue sky and twiggy treetops.
Between a rock and a high place.
To make things interesting, my husband suggested we try to find the statue of a Lenape chief that looms high above the Wissahickon. We had looked for it on previous visits, but the thick forest of summer had kept it hidden. 
After about 20 minutes of hiking and seeking, the statue still eluded us, but as we neared a bridge my husband spotted something: a flash of white high on the rocks, lit by the sinking sun. 
A closer look confirmed: The chief, 15 feet tall and carved from marble, was found! 
Not content just to find the statue, my husband wanted to see it up close. 
Crossing the creek, we found an archway marking a set of stone stairs, and up we went.
One hundred feet up.
Not the biggest fan of open heights, I stayed a bit below the ridge top. My husband, more adventurous, clambered to the top and stood next to the chief, sharing his lofty view.
You're never too old to play outside.
A plaque along the creek offers a bit of history: 
Carved in 1902, the statue sits on "Council Rock," where the Lenape once gathered.
The plaque includes this sad note about the chief: "Legend has it he's watching his people leave in the late 1750s, headed west for someplace less crowded."
For more about the statue and other outdoor treasures, visit the Friends of the Wissahickon website:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crocuses made an early entrance this year.

It seems Punxsutawney Phil was right after all.
Back on Feb. 2, the famous Pennsylvania groundhog reportedly saw his shadow, signifying six more weeks of winter. That prediction coming after a pair of lovely 60-degree days, it's easy to see why some us may have doubted him.
After Phil made his shadowy forecast, I saw crocuses dotting a neighbor's lawn. A friend reported she had snapdragons in bloom, and picked rosemary fresh from her garden. My daffodils and other bulbs had already sent up tender shoots.
Call it a case of premature, cautious joy. Those blooms were beautiful to see, yet I feared for their well-being. It was only February, after all. Could we get off that easy? Could winter really be on its way out?
The answer to those questions became clear amid Saturday's snow and Sunday's icy winds. Winter is with us still.
But that's all right with me. 
I suspect my pleasure in spring comes in direct proportion to the harshness of winter. I like to earn my balmy temperatures. (You can't melt if you haven't frozen.)
Winter has been rather gentle with us this year. We can handle whatever it has left in its pockets.
And come March 20, we can celebrate spring for real.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My dad has died.
Hard words to write. Hard words to live.
As a good friend of mine says, "One foot, other foot."
I write "Momentary Joy" in part because I know just how connected joy and sorrow can be. They're partners, flip sides of the cosmic coin. We grieve because we love. 
My dad died at home on Jan. 4. During his illness, we all spent many hours with him and our mom, in the house where they raised the four of us. Looking around those familiar rooms, I thought, there's not a square inch of this house that Dad hasn't touched. 
When it came to making a home, my dad was a master: carpenter, plumber, electrician, tiler, painter. 
He was also a master dad (and later a master pop-pop). We knew we were loved.
  He showed his love through actions -- setting up the train platform every Christmas when we were kids (and resurrecting it for the grandkids); letting us keep our dog for 17 years, despite his allergies; chauffeuring us to countless events, and later patiently teaching all of us to drive; revealing the mysteries of his tool bench to curious grandchildren.
When we moved out on our own, Mom and Dad always welcomed us back home. They loved nothing better than family dinners, whether it was one of my mom's feasts (she is a master cook) or steak sandwiches and pizza from Pizza Box. Come time to leave, we would trade hugs and say, "Love you." In recent years, Dad would add, "a whole big bunch."
My mom and dad were married for 63 years. They met in grade school, and I think he was smitten from the start. 
Years ago I came across a memo pad in their house. For some reason I glanced at the backing, and found a love note there from Dad to Mom. While visiting a few months back, I picked up a notepad to jot something down. On a hunch, I looked underneath the pages to the backing, and found another note: 
"o x Joey loves Cassie."
Still smitten.
Thanks for that, Dad, and for so much more my words can't say.
Love you. A whole big bunch.