left on walnut

Category: Local

afternoon at the zoo and other good things about my birthday

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A new purple water bottle.

New hair bands to tie back my hair during yoga.

A free “Nutty Professor” birthday smoothie at Four Seasons.

Drinking my smoothie with Tom and Vicki.

Roses, from Tom. A beautiful surprise.

A warm fall afternoon.

Holding Tom’s hand while we walked through the zoo.

His patience, as usual, while I took photos of animals.

Talking to Katie while I opened the new hair dryer she gave me.

A voicemail from Reva wishing me happy birthday.

Lots of birthday wishes on Facebook.

An unopened package on the dining room table.

Knowing Sarah and Eric will call.

Opening the package when they do.

Painting the Cellar Door

Early this morning, I painted the cellar door. The “Auntie Em door,” we call it.

I enjoy painting. I like the methodical motion of the brush. I like the protective quality of paint. I like that I can let my mind wander. The morning was warm and still. Copper, the basset hound who lives down the street, kept me company. His bark is low and mournful. If Copper’s ever in a movie, he’ll be played by James Earl Jones.

Yesterday my friend and I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. While painting, I thought about the movie and my trip to India next week. One of the new visitors is clearly wrong for India. “How can you bear this country? What do you see that I don’t?” she asks.

Tom Wilkinson responds, “Light, colors, smiles. It teaches me something.” She could only see poverty and squalor.

Occasionally a carpenter ant would crawl near a freshly painted spot. I just blew them safely off and kept brushing.

Can Guy

Our side porch is usually a quiet place for morning tea. Busy white-breasted nuthatches yammer insistently, whacking sunflower seeds into the bark of trees to “hatch” out breakfast. Squirrels fuss at one another over territory they’ve staked out. I don’t see why some branches have a higher status than others, but apparently they do. This morning a rollerblader in earbuds whirred by. Mostly, though, it’s quiet.

I heard Can Guy before I saw him, his grocery cart rattling down the alley. Can Guy gathers aluminum cans from dumpsters around the university. Our alley is on his route.

Everyone in our neighborhood was busier than I was this morning. I sat on the porch swing taking in summer.

asking permission to take photos

I am not brave about asking to take someone’s photograph. Tonight I told some women in the park I was working on an assignment. This is only true if we agree that I could give myself an assignment. As it turned out, the women were delighted to pose with their dogs. I think the dogs liked it ok, too.

spring flowers

Spring Buds

Milking Eleanor

Weather-worn doors slid open on Pop Printy’s Indiana barn. Light shone through cracks between boards and dust would suspend in each slant of light. Spider webs shrouded the windows.

The cow’s name was Eleanor. Barn cats clustered when Eleanor was milked, hoping for a shot at warm milk. Pop would pour a little milk into an aluminum pie plate for the cats, or sometimes squirt a bit right from the cow into a cat’s mouth. Milk was stored in pails in a milk house, down a hole in the ground to keep it cool. I wasn’t allowed to play in the milk house, for fear I’d fall down the hole.

In the house, Mom poured fresh milk into bottles and let cream rise to the top. She skimmed off the cream and made butter and sour cream. She made buttermilk, too, for biscuits. Not much was on that farm that wasn’t homemade.

I still make buttermilk and sour cream like Mom Printy:

  • My sour cream jar holds around a cup, I’d say. I pour about a quarter cup of buttermilk in the jar and then fill the jar with cream. I stir it a bit and then cover the jar with a clean cloth and set the jar in a warm place for a day or so.
  • My buttermilk jar holds two cups. I pour maybe a half cup of buttermilk into the jar and fill it the rest of the way with milk. Buttermilk needs to sit in a warm place for a day or two just like the sour cream. You can start with buttermilk from the store, but be sure to buy the kind that has actual cultures in it.

Wesleyan on a Sunday in Winter

Houses of Franklin Park

The first day of 2012 was cold but graced with perfect light. Here are the houses around Franklin Park, our neighborhood.

a new camera

For my 58th birthday, Tom gave me a camera. Eric helped him figure out what to buy. The Nikon came with a 321 page user’s manual, not counting the index. I’m hopelessly lost just now. I take a class next week, but for now, I’m reading the manual, watching instructional videos, taking lots of pictures, and trying different settings.

Thank you, Tom. Let’s take pictures. The autumn light doesn’t wait long.