Saturday, May 18, 2013

Household Chores Consume Me

“I think housework is far more tiring and frightening than hunting is, no comparison, and yet after hunting we had eggs for tea and were made to rest for hours, but after housework people expect one to go on just as if nothing special had happened.”
—from The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

It’s Spring Cleaning Time at my house. And at my mother’s house, to which I’ve contributed some muscle. Housework, for me, is a Sisyphean and mind-numbing activity. I sympathize with Nancy Mitford’s heroine. After hours of exertion, I too feel that something special has occurred and deserves recognition.

On the other hand, like the woman in the painting, I’m easily distracted while cleaning. What’s more, I’m not especially good at the task, largely because it bores me. So I guess this Lull post is the most I can hope for to mark the occasion—the shift from dirty to momentarily clean.

Hope your activities this weekend are more engaging than housework…

[Art by Edouard John Menta.]

Sunday, May 5, 2013


“One of the great dreams of man must be to find some place between the extremes of nature and civilization where it is possible to live without regret.”
—Barry Lopez

[Photo by N. J. Jackson.]

Taking Time (A LONG Time) to Smell the Flowers

I fell for this little daisy-hugger the other day and had to share him/her with you:

“Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone,
Except himself has chattels none,
Well satisfied to be his own whole Treasure.”

—From “The Snail” by William Cowper

[Photo by Audrey Green.]

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Balm for a Bad Day

Here’s a little humor for my sister (and anyone else battling the clueless or malevolent). 

[Art by Erin Smith.]

Monday, April 29, 2013

Returning from My UBS (Unexplained Blogging Silence)

Hello. It’s been a while. I’ve no good reason for my long absence—not one I can easily articulate anyway. But let me tell you a story…

Eons ago at a motel in California, my five-year-old self left two very tired parents in their room and set off to explore. My parents’ exhaustion now seems understandable to me. Who wouldn’t frazzle while traveling cross-country with two contrary teenagers and one youngster who ceaselessly asked questions?

So I was on my own on a clear, sunny afternoon. I surveyed the area—a playground for motel guests, a neighborhood of houses in the distance, more families checking in to their rooms, the symmetry of the motel exterior, the sameness of every room altered only by the numbers on the doors. Nothing remotely interesting to me. In fact, the afternoon was looking so bleak I wish I hadn’t left my parents. And then a flash caught my eye.

I looked skyward, only to be blinded by glaring sun. After focusing, I saw it: an oblong, silver metal vehicle encircled by slender, perpendicular cylinders each ending in a colored light. What was it? I looked around to see who else had noticed, but no one was looking up.

The vehicle came closer to the motel and glided slowly overhead. I HAD to share this with somebody! I raced back to the motel room, threw open the door, and burst in with my news. But before I got the whole story out, I realized that the people listening to me were NOT my parents. I was in the wrong room—so embarrassed I never wanted to leave my parents again (assuming I’d be able to find them). By the time I got back to them, my humiliation far outweighed my cosmic experience and I couldn’t wait to get on the road again. I was ready to leave this dismal place in the dust.

Of course, between my UFO tale and my accidental exuberance with strangers, my parents enjoyed a good laugh at my expense. But I know what I saw.

Years on, my UFO encounter well behind me and never mentioned again, I was trying to verify something I was editing. A newspaper article led me to a book chronicling unexplained occurrences. I found more than I’d anticipated.

Several pages of one chapter were devoted to the same shiny, colorful vehicle I saw on my first family vacation. The descriptions matched mine, the vicinity was the same, the time of year synced as well.

Hmmm. Other people saw it? You mean I wasn’t suffering from heatstroke or an overactive imagination? Cool. I could reshuffle my brain a bit and recategorize this memory without shame.

Fast-forward to April 2013—a month during which I should have had LOTS to write on Lull. A month celebrating poetry, honoring trees, raising awareness about animal cruelty. Yet I remained strangely silent. Honestly, I don’t know why. Lacking a better excuse, I offer this: That shiny hovercraft with colored lights came back for me.

Yup. I was abducted by aliens.

[Photos by N J. Jackson (palms at top) and NASA.]

Monday, April 22, 2013

Waiting For Every Day To Be Earth Day

“Knee-deep in the cosmic overwhelm, I’m stricken
by the ricochet wonder of it all: the plain

everythingness of everything, in cahoots
with the everythingness of everything else.”
—from “Diffraction (for Carl Sagan)” by Diane Ackerman

Thursday, April 11, 2013

One Small Step Toward a Better Dog Shelter

The facility for my local humane society is only five years old. At that youthful age, you’d think it would actually be as “state-of-the-art” as it’s described on the organization’s Web site. Sure, the colorful murals of the lobby warmly welcome visitors and the classical music playing in the dog wing shows consideration for the comfort of the animals; the staff’s upbeat and caring attitude is commendable. But none of these conceals the harsh environs the architect thought appropriate for homeless canines.

The adult dogs reside in a large, open concrete-block room in rows of cages with concrete floors that are separated by concrete block walls. Lots o’ concrete and NO apparent soundproofing, which makes for a VERY noisy habitat. And to a pooch who’s scared or nervous or troubled in any way, the din of the room must be unbearable. Especially when the barking begins, and it takes only one tiny terrier yelp to get 100+ dogs going. The music meant to calm the residents only adds to the cacophony. Between the noise and the concrete greyness/hardness, the place can really do a number on you.

But last month, the shelter held a special fundraising drive for one purpose: to purchase a bed for each dog cage. Donors were asked to contribute $50 per bed. And what do you know? In no time at all, caring folks met the quota.

Now each pooch has one soft place to go to relax or seek solace. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s such a simple effort, but one that makes all the difference for these homeless creatures as they wait for their future to begin.

[Top photo from Sweet Nothings Designs; dog photo from the Lexington Humane Society.]

Monday, April 8, 2013

Life Instructions

The nest in the photograph is atop a young oak tree across the street, spread across branches that aren’t much more than twigs. What I am unable to show by camera, though, is how amazingly minuscule the nest is. I could hold two of them in the palm of one hand.

It’s not a new nest, and when I recall how many terrific winds have gusted through the neighborhood this year alone, the engineering of the bird home is all the more remarkable. Whose is it? Will they be returning to it, as so many birds do?

I’ll start monitoring it. As the oak begins to bud and leaf, I expect that’s when the home will be reinhabited. I’ll keep you posted.

Until then, I aim to follow these wise words from poet Mary Oliver, and I encourage you to do the same:
“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

—from “Sometimes,” in Red Bird by Mary Oliver
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