Driven by for decades

Like that U-Haul van, I’ve driven past this cemetery while heading somewhere else — in my case, for decades. Today, after a jaunt into National Lumber for paint chips and moth traps, the guys and I went in.

It’s much larger than I supposed, with widely spaced rows of markers. There are legible carvings in slate, lichen capped marble stones in various states of blur (having not weathered the years as well), and the usual variety of shapes.

Abigail, Rebecca, Hannah, Mary, and Lucinda. Albert, Enoch, James, John and Ezra.

Nineteenth century headstones always get me thinking about history in general and slavery in particular. This person died during the Civil War, say, or this one died two years before the Emancipation Proclamation.

For the entirety of Edward Hartt’s life, slavery was alive and well in America.

There were many headstones for babies and even more for people who died in their twenties. I didn’t do an inventory or anything, but I only saw one older person’s grave — a septuagenarian. It makes you appreciate how brief lives were before antibiotics, vaccinations, surgical interventions and dental care (can you imagine dying of an abscess in a rotted tooth?)

I laughed at Frank’s gravestone. Because no text carved in stone is casual, I wondered who decided to put that period after his name and was there any debate about it?

There was a lot of storm damage. Newton’s community clean up day has designated this as a site, but as someone who’s coordinated a few of these events, I wonder what exactly people will do. Maybe a crew will come in with chainsaws, first.

The textures were gorgeous, including those associated with the neighboring lumberyard.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! It is actually warm enough this afternoon to go outside without a down jacket!

A skirt with a secret

A beautiful, vintage checked skirt came in the mail. Thank you, Mo! It’s very cool.  It’s machine stitched with a ruffle at the lower edge and features a draw string waist, with no additional closure.

The lower edge is reinforced with a blue and white ticking. I love the two prints together. I also adore the hand darned repairs.

Finally, there is a secret pocket underneath the ruffle.

Since it’s too shallow for a gun and not secure enough for a set of keys, I’m guessing it was used for money. A tube of lipstick, perhaps? What do you think?

The sense of a life lived, with all its secrets and tribulations, duties and flourishes, comes through this garment. I’m imagining a small resourceful woman in command of her manse — a woman equipped with a fierce will and a few tricks up her sleeve (and money in her hem!)

I’m not sure I’ll be able to stand to cut it up. But, eventually? You know me — the scissors often win out.

Spring?

A wet, windy, and need I say? — brief — walk.

But compare how Finn looks when there’s a slice of cheese held up to the phone.

The beech trunk is dark with rain. Heat wooshes from the grate (temps are in the 30’s) and waggles a cloth pinned to the back door. I have a zero point lunch planned (some of you will know what that means) and the heating pad set up near the laptop.

I’m so glad K isn’t going anywhere this week!

The best surprises

Imagine my surprise when last weekend at Open Studios this young man introduced himself as “Nancy Erisman’s son”. I yelped. It was ever so brief but such a lovely meeting — almost as good as I imagine meeting Nancy herself would be. He bought a little window cloth for his mother and requested that I stay mum for a least a week while he arranged delivery of the gift. It was tough!

Well — quiet no more! Happy belated birthday Nancy! Maybe next time, it WILL be you.

This finger points to a face in the sky, courtesy of Michelle. I love the doodle and keep it near my calendar.

Also a while back, one of Saskia’s exquisite pillows arrived in the mail. ‘Pillow’ seems the wrong word because it’s a work of art, really.

Over a period of a year, I had squirreled away a number of miniatures along with a blue jay skull that I had buried with the intention of sending to her. They were objects that seemed to belong in her Dwelling, but I only half believed I’d ever actually ship them to Holland. When I finally did, that was reward enough. I didn’t expect to receive such a beautiful gift back.

ALSo! I have just received one more incredible gift (from Australia this time). I haven’t photographed it yet, however, so it’ll have to remain a mystery for a little longer.

K is muttering through the last of our taxes. It’s been snowing off and on all day, much to our dismay. It doesn’t look like the weather will be all that great for the Boston Marathon tomorrow.

If it’d been warmer, I might have bought pansies this afternoon. Instead, I took K out to lunch. We sat next to the open kitchen, so I could look over at the fires. As I gazed at the flames, or more specifically, at the prism created by the flames in the beveled edge of the glass partition, one of the long answers to a Globe crossword puzzle clue came to me (it had to do with prisms and rainbows). I love it when that happens.

And now to build what I hope will be the last fire of the season.

Later?

They’re calling for temps in the 50’s for later.

Despite the cold yesterday, I raked three areas out front. Filled the bird feeders. How good that felt! I had no energy for anything else.*

Did you wake up and check your phone to see who might have been fired since you last looked? I did.

* did also manage to research, buy, and arrange delivery of a fridge for my sister. Thankfully, brother B will be paying for it!

Little by little

Before setting out to Salem yesterday, thanks to some misdirected saliva, I had a choking fit. Throat clamping shut. Air not coming in. It’s one of those experiences that is equal parts ordinary and terrifying. There I was wheezing and wheezing, Finn looking on with concern. A little later, coming out of Dunkin Donuts to an asphalt landscape under dreary skies, I thought, “this, too, is beautiful.”

About two hours later, my sister and I ventured forth into Kane’s greenhouse, which was heavenly with its moist heat and riot of color. Look at the glorious geraniums!

Her new wide windowsills will house these splashes of life perfectly. She’s good with geraniums.

Little by little.

Applies to moving. Applies to quilting.

Applies to writing.

Who gets named: Ida B. Wells

Women We Overlooked aired on The New York Times podcast about a month ago. It features an interview with a New York Times obituary writer/researcher and went on to discuss the life of journalist and activist, Ida B. Wells.*

I learned on Sunday’s 60 Minutes feature about the Alabama memorial that there’s a special part of The National Memorial for Peace and Justice dedicated to Wells.

My #unreadshelfproject includes relevant history in: “News for All the People, The Epic Story of Race and the American Media” by Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres.

“When she took over as editor of the Memphis “Free Speech” in 1889, Ida B. Wells had already made something of a name for herself challenging racial bigotry.” In 1892, Wells wrote a stunning editorial following the lynching of eight men, after which the offices of the paper were burned down and her life threatened. Wells happened to be out of town that day and subsequently moved to Chicago. From there she “launched a systematic investigation of the hated practice [of lynching] around the country” and wrote about her findings in a series of newspaper articles and a book called “Southern Horrors” … Wells was also active as a teacher, feminist and civil rights leader.

Amy Goodman’s podcast, Democracy Now, interviewed the authors of “News for All People”, here.

Finn was just picked up and I’m off to Salem. Time to order a fridge and hire movers. If time, we will jaunt over to Kane’s — the greenhouse over by Trader Joe’s. My sister’s new place has wide windowsills, perfect for some potted geraniums.

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This post is a placeholder, containing some homework for myself — I hope you don’t mind. Wanted to capture these things while they’re still fresh. 

*  If you don’t know about The Daily — you’re in for a treat. Each episode is only 20 minutes long and yet manages to do interesting and in-depth reporting. They’re an essential part of my news fare these days.