Living now with my parents, I cannot fathom the reality that we had no family gatherings with Mom and Dad for 18 months due to Covid-19. My sister Sarah grocery shopped for them every Saturday during those months. I cooked for them on occasion. We always wore masks and washed and sanitized our hands and kept our distance—no hugs (except for “air hugs”). My siblings called Mom and Dad frequently, sometimes daily. Sarah, as a speech pathologist, works at a critical care facility with people who suffer from conditions affecting their communication and swallowing. While donning head-to-toe personal protective equipment, she watched Covid rage through her patients, ending the lives of too many. My siblings and I all understood and respected that if Mom and Dad contracted Covid in their aged and weakened conditions, we likely would lose them, as so many thousands lost members of their families. To keep them safe, we did our little part to stop the spread, following all the recommended precautions, putting philosophy and politics aside in the interest of safety. Mom and Dad received their first Pfizer vaccine at a huge convention center. Hundreds of old and infirm people stood for hours in long lines, walking from station to station around the entire perimeter of the hall—fully a mile. Dad thought his cane would do, but shortly into the ordeal he confided to me, “I don’t think I’m going to make it.” I had him sit down while I ran for a wheelchair. They received their third shot this week at a local health department facility, walking 20 feet past the front door to their seats, with no wait. What a difference between the two experiences! But in all three cases, the nursing staff were so kind and pleasant and helpful. After all the family members were fully vaccinated, we began to visit again. My sister Jeanette recently came to visit from Arizona for a week. We cooked together and played Scattergories and drove to see the fall leaves in the mountain forests. And we broke out the fall crafts: wood pumpkins, a harvest-themed wreath, and a tall scarecrow. My niece Amy joined in, painting the eyes black and the nose orange. How grateful we are to be safe, healthy, and together again.
My first ever attempt at a wreath.
Cards of Leaves and Petals
I buy birthday cards at the dollar store: 6 for a dollar. If I’m lucky I find pack of 8 for one dollar. And I buy about ten packs which will last maybe a year. The cards don’t have HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! or anything else printed on them. Which doesn’t bother me because I can write HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! just well, or even better because I am practicing my handwriting. I have got the cursive G down and the S as well, but H has me harrumphing. The fronts of the cards Continue reading
Forty years ago my parents loaded the station wagon and drove the family from our New Jersey home to the woods of Maine for a modest vacation. We stayed at Gray’s Cabins, which had no central heat (but a fireplace) or running water, but an abundance of gorgeous views and rustic nostalgia. At a small bait shop on a winding country road, while Dad bought lures and earthworms, I stood on the porch admiring a mobile of flattened silver spoons suspended from bent and curled fork tines. The spoons met each other, as the breeze passed through, with surprisingly rich peals, as from a bell. For two decades I haunted thrift stores for discarded silver-plate, and made dozens of chimes for family and friends. I recently pulled out of a box the scattered spoons and fork of my last remaining set of chimes, polished the silver, restrung the spoons, and hung the chimes in my patio, where they tinkle and take me back to the green woods of Maine.
If plated silver is not available, you can make your own set with any inexpensive metal ware. Tools you will need:
- rag to buffer the spoons from the hammer and concrete surface as you carefully flatten them
- power drill with very small drill bit
- block of wood under the ware as you drill
- needle-nose pliers
- fishing line or stout threat (thick string will muffle the spoon vibrations and dampen their sound)
- nail or hook to hang from
The colder your metal ware, the higher the likelihood the spoons will crack and the tines will break off. Work with the spoons and fork after leaving them in the sun for a few minutes.
My son Caleb loves to wood carve. And paint. And draw. Creations of all kinds. Caleb carved these charming bird-beak back scratchers out of tough Russian Olive wood collected near Rabbit Lane. He has created an Etsy account where you can see each of these awesome artistic bird-beak-scratchers highlighted individually. Pay a visit; take a look. Way to go Caleb!
(Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road. The book tells the true life story of an obscure and magical farm road and its power to transform the human spirit. The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.)
Reach, a lamp by Roger Baker
At 42 inches tall, this lamp presented a unique challenge. Whereas Smoke and Waves were made of hard twisting wood difficult to drill, this lamp was rotten on the inside and brittle on the outside. To keep the delicate exterior from constantly flaking off, I brushed it with several coats of diluted wood glue, transparent when dry. A Provincial stain covered it nicely. To reinforce the interior, I poured into the cavity a mixture of plaster-of-paris and wood glue, inserting a length of old curtain rod to preserve a conduit for the lamp wire. Despite the challenges, I was quite happy with how this lamp turned out. I called it Reach for its tall, elegant, vertical lines.
Though we believe Reach would have sold in excess of $600, I gave it to my good friend Justin M. in trade for his much-appreciated time as a journeyman electrician in wiring my outbuildings, including my chicken coop, work shop, and future writing studio, the interior walls of which I am finishing with antique brick acquired from a retired farmer.