A Pouch Full of Clothespins

My grandmother lived her entire life in the same small house in the same small town – Monson, Massachusetts.  Being grounded by the familiar was important to her.


From Bing images

For example, Monday was always laundry day.  First thing in the morning she’d stuff the washing machine in the kitchen with piles of linens, clothes, and towels then hang them on the free standing clothes line just outside the back door.  She did get a dryer at some point but because we only visited in the summer, I don’t recall ever seeing her use it.  I do recall her hanging up the laundry, clothespins in a pouch suspended from the clothesline as we children played in the creek running along one side of their property, or begged Grandpa to let us ride on the lawnmower as he mowed the grass. In good weather, children were not allowed inside the house during the day unless, of course, they were ill.

After Gram finished her morning chores she always took a few minutes to write in her “journal” which was actually a calendar.  Her journal entries always included a weather forecast and summary of the day’s planned activities.

T-storms due this afternoon.  Attending M. Finch’s B-day at 3:30 pm.


Gram’s smiling here but rest assured, she was fixing to give someone a piece of her mind!

They never gave insight into what she was thinking or feeling but I wish I had them anyway.

Tuesday morning’s chore was always the ironing, Wednesday’s, cleaning the house, and Thursday’s, a visit to the tiny grocery store. Friday and Saturday I’m sure had special purposes but I can’t honestly remember what they were.  Sunday’s chore was, of course, church after which we generally played croquet.  Gram always claimed that any work done on a Sunday would have to be undone once you got to heaven.

Poor me, I’ll be spending most of my time in heaven raking leaves. Or rather unracking leaves (however that’s done).


I spent many an afternoon at the dining room table refusing to eat my stewed turnips. Don’t know what my mother is reaching for.

Gram had other absolutes.  Teenage girls never went downtown in short shorts.  Women never went to a bar alone (especially married women), and dinner (what most Americans call lunch) was always at noon.  If you weren’t home by then, you didn’t eat.  If you were home, you came to the table with clean hands, never put your elbows on the table, and if you didn’t eat everything on your plate, you remained at the table until you did.


From Bing images – you don’t think I’m going to show you a picture of my undies, do you?

I only adhere to Gram’s regime by accident, however, this morning, as I hung the clothes (on a Monday morning!) I thought of Gram and her pouch full of clothespins.  Of all the things I miss the most about her, that’s the thing I get the most sentimental about.  A pouch full of clothespins. Strange, huh?

What strange things do you get sentimental about?

Fishing in the Stream called “Time”



I must govern the clock and not be governed by it. Golda Meir.


Amen. However, Golda, meet my husband, Joel. Below are just a few of the clocks and timers in our house.


Travel alarm which always sits beside him in the living room. He uses it to gauge how long it takes him to solve his morning Sudoko puzzle.


This clock advises him of the time as well as the weather so he doesn’t have to look out the window. Don’t know what the timer is for.

Clock 6

Old Fashioned Wall Clock (the only one that doesn’t need resetting after a power outage.)


Kitchen timers (he has five). Unlike me, he follows recipes religiously. I just toss anything leftover in the fridge into a pot and cook until my sixth sense tells me its done.


Timer on a string – to be worn while outside.






CD Playing Alarm Clock in bedroom.  Did I mention he’s retired?




In general, he has an obsession with beginnings and endings.  When did the universe begin; when will it end – things which interest me not in the least. For him, we’re all on a timer and when the final buzzer sounds, we disappear into the nothingness from whence we emerged, dumb slime from a protoplasm (that’s what an obsession with pure science will do for you.)

His obsession with beginnings and endings is a mystery to me. I don’t believe in them. I think of time as one of those unending rivers at a high end resort where you float around and around in inner tubes until hungry.  Then you get out, satisfy your hunger and jump back in.

I must confess, I do not believe in time.
 - Vladimir Nabolokov


I guess that’s why I prefer to leave the endings of my stories to a reader’s imagination. In my defense, I’m not the first author to end with a question mark and not a happily ever after.  For example,Gone with the Wind doesn’t end with “and Rhett left and never came back.”  It ends with “tomorrow is another day,” thus giving more romantic readers the chance to imagine Scarlett eventually getting her way (yet again).


Guest room alarm – even our guests are not spared.

These quotes capture my feelings about time:

Time is but a stream I go a-fishing in. Henry David Thoreau.

It takes a long time to become young. Pablo Picasso

How did it get late so soon? Dr. Seuss

How about you?  Are you a Joel or a Jan?

Das Kat, the Literary Critic


“Try to tweet now, why don’t you?”


I have a writing problem and it involves a certain cat originally called Pretty Kitty until we found out he was a boy. Now we call him Das Kat.  Das Kat likes to find secret places to hide so that he can sleep all day and terrorize us all night. This he does by running up and down the hall outside our bedroom as if being chased by a pack of rapid dogs and then pouncing on the bed with an innocent chirp. There he makes himself at home on my calves after kneading the blanket with his claws. Hubby claims he does this because he was weaned too soon. I don’t get it. I was never breast fed and I don’t shred blankets!


Living the Penthouse life


Das Kat has a six foot kitty condo with plenty of rope to scratch so the shredding is firmly discouraged, however waking at 2:30 am to scold a cat doesn’t make for a pleasant night’s sleep. I prefer to be woken by the sun and not by kitty whiskers ticking my nose or a tail lashing my face.


“I think I’ll take my place on your lap now!”

Das Kat doesn’t approve of my writing. Every time I sit down to write, magically he appears next to my chair, looking plaintively up at me with a little meh, sometimes reaching a furry white paw up in warning “I’m about to pounce,” other times pouncing directly onto the keyboard without invitation, mangling forever whatever paragraph or email I’d been working on.


“Here’s what I think of this story!”


Then he circles my lap, swatting my face with his tail until he finds a comfortable position. Sometimes he will turn and stare into the computer screen giving me a full view of his anus as he ponders what could possibly be more fascinating than him.

The Girl with the Flag in her Hair


Family waiting for the parade.


I live in a town only large enough to support one grocery store but we do have a  library and a community center and on the Fourth of July everyone comes out to play.  In the past our parades have consisted primarily of the boy scouts and brownies, swim and football teams, the city council and anyone running for office, every classic car in town, kids on tricycles, local war heroes, high school marching bands and lots of dogs, hot and otherwise.

But things are a-changing…


Cast from Seussical

This year we had the characters from the musical Seussical grooving in brightly colored costumes to raga tunes.

And a horse drawn carriage…Horse

I think they were sponsored by one of the banks and not Coors but just seeing them made me crave a beer.


Member of the cast of Dracula


The tiny theatrical group in town, which puts on mostly murder mysteries in an outdoor theater also marched – in costume, of course.

Not new, but always entertaining, was the juggler who rode a unicycle in the parade and then entertained the children at the local park while their parents drank beer and listened to a jazz band.

Having as much fun as the kids he's entertaining!

The Juggler


He appeared to be having as much fun as the kids.

New, and probably the most unusual of the participants, was the Stilt Lady, dancing a Brazilian rumba.  StiltLady


I’m afraid of heights so she terrified me.

When I first moved to this area over twenty years ago there weren’t that many “people of color” in the parade, however, as my neighbor noted, that is changing as is the town. It’s a good thing to see.


Girl with the Flag in her braid and hubby

On the way home Hubby and I stopped at the local Mexican restaurant for margaritas and to watch the World Cup.  Our waitress had an American flag sticking out of her French braid and spoke with a such a strong accent naturally we had to start up a conversation with her.  It happened to be her very first Fourth of July as an American citizen, having migrated from Northern Ireland.  Now, I don’t like what’s happening in this country – all the hatred and division.  Some days I’m so fearful of the future I’m tempted to migrate elsewhere but she had such a glow about her that I decided not to ruin the day with politics.  Even my hubby held his tongue.  It was, after all, the Fourth.