Life In Progress

I will not confuse my career with my life.


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Out Like a Lion

013113 snow pile & wizard melt1adj
The rain and wind have made it to Maine. The haughty Snow Wizard is melted down to a stump of its former glory. When we got a couple of inches of snow Monday night, I shoveled the deck snow onto the formerly fabulous and icy Cabin Fever Snow Pile, thinking that the snow in the tracks would protect the ice in the chutes. Against all odds, I had dreams of races this weekend. Now it looks like sulking will be my major activity.

As I took a few photos a little while ago, I heard a vivid rendition of the Wicked Witch of the West’s line run through my head: “I’m melting, melting. Oh, what a world, what a world.”

It feels so much like late March here. Late March is when Maine finally gets the legendary “in like a lion” aspect of the month. But, January — out like a lion?


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The Buzz

Nothing says “Welcome!” better than a bald-faced hornet’s nest hanging over the bistro set on the front porch. “Pull up a chair! What can I get you?” I’ll say to my guests. “How about a scrabble game at the table here?”

Well, maybe the huge spider that spun a big web right over the storm door takes the prize for most welcoming. At least with the hornets, if you don’t bother them by stomping around or batting the papery nest with a stick, they shouldn’t bother you. The spider? When you approached the door, she’d start doing push ups on the web as a warning that she could jump! “Welcome! Step right up to the front door. Don’t mind Charlotte, she hasn’t bitten anyone. Yet.”

When I researched bald-faced hornets, I paled at the description of their life cycle. A nearly two-inch-long black and white queen emerges from hibernating underground in the spring. The beautiful, alien creature then sets about chewing and digesting wood only to spit it back up to fashion a durable, spherical nest fiber by fiber. I was fascinated to watch her progress on the bare wood of the porch ceiling. But not so fascinated to let her continue for long; I scraped off her two earliest attempts. When she came back a third time, I half-reluctantly allowed her to continue.

I learned that the queen will first lay a cadre of worker hornets which will slave away while she stays inside and rests. There can be thousands of these workers by the time she lays other queen eggs. These newborn queens will then go underground in the fall to overwinter and start the cycle for themselves next spring.

Later that day, after I’d read up a bit more online about our newest buzz, I went back out to check on her progress. I was shocked to see that the nest was already between baseball- and softball-size.

Being the wuss that I am, I asked my husband, Will, to knock the nest down. I think I was lucky she was so busy gathering wood fibers for nest making, allowing me get a few closeup photos of her. She hasn’t made a fourth attempt to nest on the ceiling of the front porch. I admit to a twinge of guilt about dislodging her but it’s early enough in the process that she can find a more suitable location. And I know in my wussy heart that this relationship most likely would not have ended well…


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Drunken sailors

I feel so guilty. I gave a dinner party at which all the guests were intentionally doomed. Over the years, I’ve developed into a capture-and-release type of person where bugs in the house are concerned. Except in the case of ants. (And ticks. But that’s another, more gruesome story.)

We’ve been here 26 years and this happens every year. The ants start marching one-by-one into the kitchen sink area on the windowsill and onto the counter. Just a few at first, but, oh, bloody hell — here we go again!

They’re a bit early this spring. Usually, they wander in around peony blooming time. The first year we were in this house, I naively placed a couple of gorgeous peony blossoms into a vase on the windowsill above the sink. The flowers smelled wonderful and were uplifting to look at while washing up supper dishes. To my acute horror, the next morning the sill, counter and flowers were crawling with tiny, creepy ants.

I’m ashamed to confess that my 26-year-younger self ran out to get a big can of bug spray. I treated the sill and poisoned the ants (and us!) but it didn’t stop the invasion. The assault subsided gradually and aside from the singular, deathly scent of Raid, I forgot all about the problem. Until the next year. This continued for a couple of years until somebody suggested baiting with sugar water and boric acid. Actually draw the ants in? Yes. Belly up to the gooey sweetness like drunken sailors at a bar while on shore leave.

This is day three of onslaught 27. The baiting obviously doesn’t exterminate them entirely. Either that or new, opportunistic colonies move in every year to fill the void. Two days ago, I mixed simple syrup with boric acid powder and drizzled the sticky solution along the counter, behind the faucet and onto commercial ant traps (which they ignored until I dotted the traps with sugar.) The past 24 hours have been desensitizing. I no longer cringe to see clouds of black, shiny creatures all over the counter. Dozens of ants lined up at every drizzle and drop. This morning there were noticeably fewer of them. An encouraging trend. When they’re gone, I’ll scald and scrub the counter and windowsill.

And apologize to the little beings for causing their demise.


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Endings, beginnings

“Unstuck in time” is how I view the week between Christmas and New Year’s. (Thanks for naming that concept, Kurt.) Even if other routines have remained intact, like going to work, the seasoning for the days leading up to January 1 is really peppery. Things that happen to us around a holiday get trapped in amber, making it effortless to ruminate over or revel in memories.

This year, my amber moment will likely be teaching my first yoga class at WholeHeart Yoga Center tomorrow. I am nervous and excited. I am also prepared, pumped and processing moments of self-doubt. My mind flickers briefly on the concept of somehow wiggling out of this endeavor. The struggle passes and I’m back to playlists and language and imagery for ṡavasana.

Even though my amber moment will be trapped in time forever, it will be a springboard. The transition I have undergone this past year has given me the great gift of time and space for the inquiries of yoga. I have emerged with amazing tools for body/mind health and awareness. Time for me to share what I have learned so far, to pass along some of this lightness, and to continue to learn and to grow.

1/9/11 Update:  The yoga classes didn’t fill and there were heretofore unrealized non-fit elements at this venue. I have been released from my committment.

At one point, I found myself wishing for a way out of a situation that was rapidly becoming rather uncomfortable and complicated. I was shown a perfect illustration of the adage “be careful what you wish for.” But it evolved to be the best possible result for everyone concerned.

And now I get to step back and reassess, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Maybe now would be a good time for trying hot yoga — Bikram!