When I was a young cadet at West Point, nearly thirty years ago, I brought my creativity and artistic nature to a vast sea of military conformity. Now don’t misunderstand me. “Sameness” is a part of essential military discipline. Soldiers are dressed the same, learn the same tactical skills, sleep in rooms that look the same, and so forth. This is part of what it means to be in the Army – to keep up the discipline and consistency that serves us well on the field of battle. But amidst that conformity in the summer of 1988, I was a yearling (2nd year student) at West Point and opted to carry in my right ammunition pouch a toothbrush and toothpaste … and a pair of scissors.
Now the vogue Army way of cutting anything is with a buck knife, preferably of a large and intimidating size that will serve a myriad of purposes and perhaps save your life in a myriad of ways. And knives are good and fine, but I just found that those scissors were … so … darned … handy.
This might not seem like a big deal… and frankly I didn’t think it was a big deal either, but afterwards?
Let me explain.
I have very thick hair. For years, I’ve worn it long, to the middle of my back. And it was lovely. But the little house’s hot water tank holds only 15 gallons of hot water (A regular household hot water heater holds more like forty)! To wash my hair in fifteen gallons of water was a project. Every time. And I hated it.
After a year of this nonsense, I went to Meghan, my wonderful friend at Ricci’s Salon in Newtown, CT, and said, “That’s it. Cut it off.”
Big chunks of hair fell to the floor and I felt… oddly relieved.
It started with a conversation about my husband’s long tenure at UPS… and over time it evolved into a discussion about owning an RV.
This December, MyUPSGuy will have racked up 31 years in brown. Unbelievably, he started as “holiday help” many years ago, sorting packages at the age of 24. He was hired that year, and drove the familiar square, brown package truck for the next twelve years, often hitting the road with dog biscuits in his pocket for the many furry friends that would come and greet him along the way (If you haven’t seen the hilarious Facebook page with UPS dogs, give it a try at: https://www.facebook.com/upsdogs/).
Since his days as a “package driver,” my husband has been driving a tractor trailer for the company. He’s made a great life for us, but like anything there are pros and cons. With many 60-hour weeks, particularly around the holidays, MyUPSGuy has had many stretches of time with little time off and little time to do much else except be uniformed in brown.
I took in the scene in the front yard. A large, black cow stood about 20 feet away and simply raised her head to gaze back to me… and then resumed grazing next to our snowball bush.
I called to MyUPSGuy, “There’s a cow in the front yard.”
“Yes, and I have to go to the hair salon, so I guess you’ll have to walk over to the farm to tell them to come get their… steer,” I said, looking at 800-pounds of bovine creature-ness now grazing happily under the crabapple tree. I mean, what cow doesn’t want to have someone’s front yard all to themselves?
With temps in the 70’s this past Saturday, I hoped that Spring was upon us, and yet, here in Connecticut, it has been rainy and cold all this week, still feeling a bit like winter. Sigh.
Spring can’t come soon enough. And with this time of year comes spring cleanup. Like any relatively rural setting, the small yard of the little house is full of downed branches, broken limbs, leaves, and brush. Underneath the brush, small green, living things are poking out, waiting patiently to make a big entrance. It is time for the rebirth to happen, and what a joy to watch it unfold.
But the newness of the earth can’t happen without loss. Watching everything go dormant in November is a stark reminder that things begin… and they end. And you can probably see where I’m headed… that the end is sometimes gloomy for all who must weather the snow and barren landscapes.
Two heads popped up from the edge of the air mattress.
“Good morning!” I said.
Our dear friends, Juan and Kate, were staying with us. This was our first foray into having house guests and we weren’t sure that the little house, with its 660 square feet, could accommodate more than two people overnight. But we definitely wanted to give it a shot.
After a four-week hiatus, there’s lots to talk about and stories to tell. Because… who doesn’t go to Block Island in the frigid temps, with the wind whipping off the ocean and where the only thing open in town is the grocery store?
Recently someone asked me where the material for my blog comes from … and I’ll share with you that TRULY it is simply the goings on of a normal life. And as I get ready to write this content, I am quite certain that variations of this story have happened to you this week.
We are in the midst of the holiday season… the season of goodwill toward all people, young and old, gift giving, hugs, kindness, snowflakes and an optimistic view toward a coming year full of better things and new beginnings.
With this spirit in mind, I started this week like Cindy Lou Who. By way of reminder, in the 1957 Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch is a lonely character who watches the events of the town below his mountain perch with aggravation, malevolence and not a small amount of carefully hidden jealousy. The story describes his heart as “two sizes too small.” No question, books could be written (and probably have been) on the correlation between the Grinch character and human characteristics during this would-be joyful season. Cindy Lou Who, meanwhile, is a happy little Whoville girl who awaits the arrival of Christmas but is grounded enough to know that the season is really about love, versus gifts and garland.
We were standing in front of the electrical box inside the “little house,” which boasted a tangle of wires heading in every direction. The mess extended to outside the house, where a wire literally went through a hole in the gutter. Now call me crazy, but it has always been my understanding that electricity and water don’t mix. Alarming? A little.
Last Friday was annual wreath-making day. Excited, I wound my car from the “little house” down the mountain, through the woods, past Mitchell’s Farm and along Lake Zoar. Then over the Silver Bridge and left onto the country road that leads to my mother’s cottage.