Thursday, December 30, 2010

Long Screws are Good Screws

Living in a very old house covered in plaster and lathe, it has taken me months and dozens of ping pong sized holes in my walls, to figure out how to hang things around here.

Two words. Long screws.

2 1/2 to 3 inch wood screws to be exact.

Once I figured out where my studs were (that stud finder was worth the $12.95 + tax, I paid at the general store), fitted my cordless drill with a 5/25 wood drill bit to get things started, then a standard philips head to really drive things home, I had the deep satisfaction of screwing in the screws and hanging various pieces kicking around my house for a year. Yes, you read that right. A whole year.
In 30 minutes, I hung up two huge, antique mirrors, a primitive wooden art landscape and a long needed set of coat hooks for our winter clothes that is so tightly fastened into the wall, that no matter who hangs on it, that baby is not coming out.

Yep. Long screws are good screws.

And don't think I don't know where your mind went when you first read the title.

Next up. Learning how to use toggle bolts so I can screw anything I want, anywhere I want.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Haiku for You, and You and You and...Me.

A luscious Sunday morning, the day after Christmas, with my three favorite little people. Getting out of bed is hard to do on mornings like this, but the coffee calls...

Sunday Bed

Warm bodies snuggled in deep 

within folds of down.

No alarm clock this morning.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Remembering Christmas

Last Sunday, the kids and I decorated our tree. A beautiful evergreen from our neighbors' tree farm...the Moffatts grow darn nice trees.

After an angst filled period of weighing the pros and cons of draping the tree with white or colored lights, we decided on the white lights because well...they still worked. I awkwardly wrapped the string around the branches, while the kids began to pull out and unwrap our ornaments - exclaiming, laughing and remembering over each treasure they found.

Each box reveals a mish-mash of ornaments, paper cut-outs and random bits - Paper chains of what should have been snowmen, cut out with safety scissors by a three year daughter; a felt picture frame bearing the picture of my son before he got glasses; the cinnamon scented baked dough, strung with red rickrack that my then preschooler brought home; knitted squares of colorful yarn; ornaments with names and dates printed, engraved or painted on; dented bells clinging to frayed green ribbons. Yes, I will admit to occasionally wishing for a more elegant tree, but as much as I have envied the gorgeously decorated balsams in store windows and magazines, our ornaments are memories of past gatherings that date back to when I was a child.

For as long as I can remember, the Gustavsons (or anyone within earshot of a Gustavson Christmas) received at least one ornament in their stocking-personalized and dated. My big, beautiful family of parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and wayward friends would gather at my grandparents' house on La Loma Rd, eat too much, talk too much and rip through the bulging stockings around the defunct fireplace. The memories of hugging relatives for their gifts, sneaking another piece of fudge, running outside in the backyard and then eventually watching my own children do the same, are vivid and fondly remembered. Now, living in Vermont, I haven't been back for a Gustavson Christmas in a long time, but the ornaments always remind me and so, I relish the ritual of pulling them out and hanging them on the tree.

Beautiful brass ornaments from the mid-seventies engraved in my grandfather's precise, engineer-trained writing hang at the top of my tree tonight and the ceramic ornaments from the eighties and nineties, where ownership was bestowed with a paint pen in my grandmother's elegant script hang just below. As we move further down the tree, into the 21st century, the tradition continues and my children find and place the ornaments bearing their own names.

Within 20 minutes, I'm alone by the tree. The children have become distracted by their books, toys and each other. The novelty of the ornaments worn away as their excitement for the familiar has been sated. I continue to unwrap and hang the last few, feeling quiet and content as I listen to shrieks of laughter and remember that the Gustavson are with me, even here on a snowy evening in New England.

Angela (mi prima) and Me, Christmas at the La Loma house

Friday, December 10, 2010


I welcome the sunlight this morning. The days of dark have been unforgiving, so the gold glow through the shade on my window is encouraging, but I am not fully convinced it is worth climbing out of my warm bed.

Outside it is cold. Not just a chill, but a deep, sub-zero freeze that has hardened the exposed ground, solidified the ponds, changed the very sound of the snow underfoot. The floorboards of my house are icy, thus I am snuggled, fully clothed for work, under my down comforter while I work up the courage to climb out from under this warmth and adorn myself with wool socks, boots, mittens, scarf and hat. Of course, once i do that, I'm pretty sure I'll need to go to work, where there is no warm woodstove or furry cats to snuggle.

It is so cold and I am so snuggly and inspired by the light, I wrote this haiku:

snow squeaks underfoot
cold, dark stillness all around
shafts of light rise east

See? I'm desperate to stay in bed, yet justify a claim of productivity. I want a cup of coffee though. And some hot oatmeal. The tip of my nose is cold.

Each sentence I type is getting harder now, because the heat is turned down to 50 degrees and my fingers are going numb because they are exposed. I've tried typing under the covers, but the typos were ridiculous.

(sigh)...I think it's time. Wish me luck. I'm headed out... about 5 more minutes.