Day 25: Four Trees

Have you ever loved a tree? I mean really loved a tree, not just love the way it looks? I have loved three trees. Two were apples and one was some sort of pine.

The first tree I loved was one of two apple trees in the backyard of the house in which I grew up. It was small enough that I could climb it when I was very young — maybe six or seven? I remember I called it the merry-go-round tree because as I climbed I held onto branches that went up the trunk, around the tree. One afternoon when I returned from school, someone was in the backyard cutting my merry-go-round apple tree down. I remember running towards the person who was cutting the tree and someone, maybe my father, grabbed me and held me while I sobbed. No one ever explained why they cut it down, except because it had apples that were a nuisance to clean up.

The second tree I loved was the other apple tree. It didn’t have low branches on which I could climb until I was older. Once I was tall enough to pull myself up on the lowest branch, that was conveniently parallel to the ground, about four feet off the ground, I learned to love this tree too. The tree, who I named Charley after a neighbor asked if it was a Jonathan, had a space about 8 feet off the ground with three branches that formed a perfect spot for my bottom, and I could lean back against the middle branch. I spent many summer days in that tree, through college and until I moved out of the house. My parents had it cut down a few years after Dean and I left Elgin.

The third tree I loved was a type of pine tree that Jeremy and I planted. He named it Eric. It grew pretty tall pretty quickly and my parents cut it down after Dean and I moved out of Elgin.

Eric and Dona Summer 1980

The last tree I want to talk about is a tree that I cannot say I loved like I loved those other trees, but I certainly loved the way it looked in the fall. It was a maple tree that stood in front of our house here in Bethesda. This tree was always the first to turn in the fall, and the color was spectacular, a beautiful orange. Last year about this time an arborist stopped by and told us the tree was dying and they would have to remove it. Today the crew came and cut it down. I hugged it first and told it I loved it.

Losing the tree was not at all delightful, but remembering past trees I have loved was, if not delightful, at least a consolation.

The other delight today was listing to Kate Bush all day through my headphones. I couldn’t bear the sound of the chainsaw, so I went back in time and listened to three of Kate’s albums.

Day 24: Meeting Hickory

I awoke this morning from a very vivid dream in which I was at a party in St. Louis. The party was in a huge modern home on a hill* overlooking the city. For a while I mingled with other people, then I sat in the living room on a long white sofa which was flanked by two red chairs. A glass-topped coffee table sat between the chairs. I may or may not have had a glass of wine in my hand.

At some point I decided that, since I was close to Hickory’s house, I’d take a walk and see if I could find it. I did, and spoke to her three children about the unusual rocks found in the yard. I found a circular shaped one, turquoise and white, with a hole in the middle. One of her daughters said it would make a good pendant. Then I remembered that Andrew had gone to day camp there and Hickory had taught him all about these special rocks. I asked the kids where their mom was, and they took me into the house to find her. I thanked her for teaching Andrew about the rocks. She was busy and I had to get back to the party.

When I got back to the party, everyone was on the balcony listening to Donald Trump who was standing on a platform on the balcony. I remember becoming furious that he was at this party — was he even invited? If so, why was I invited? I remember balling up my fists wanting to cause pain before I left the balcony and headed to the kitchen where there were others who were just as upset as I was.

Then there was commotion in the living room and DT was lying on the long white sofa sobbing. We were all asked to sign statements that we would tell no one that we saw DT in tears.

My entire day was clouded by this dream, but at least I met Hickory and that was delightful.

*Are there even hills in St. Louis?

Day 23: Baked (Shirred) Eggs

One of my Facebook friends (an old flatmate‘s brother) started posting photos of his breakfasts (usually involving eggs) a couple of years ago. He became friends with Jeremy (they knew each other in grammar school) who then began posting photos of his (mostly eggy) breakfasts. I joined the fun and created the hashtag #theeggchronicles for such posts.

Regarding eggs, I cannot think of a way someone could cook an egg and I would not enjoy eating it. Maybe pickled, but maybe I would love since one of my favorite breakfasts is hard boiled eggs with sauerkraut and cottage cheese. Another favorite is to bake eggs in a small ramekin whose inside has been coated with butter. I sometimes add minced shallots and a dash of cream, then top it off with some sort of spice blend. I often cook these with a pre-cooked turkey sausage patty and a frozen, premade buttermilk biscuit. That’s what I made for breakfast today and it was delightful.

As I mentioned on Facebook, the egg in the photo is not burned. I sprinkled a little too much Arizona Dreaming (a Penzey’s spice blend) on the top.

Day 22: Analog Correspondence

Hard to believe, but there was a time in my life when I delighted in writing letters. Besides writing daily (mailing weekly) to a boyfriend in England, I became acquainted to several of his friends and we regularly exchanged letters too. Before that I wrote to my school friends over the summer when we were away on family vacations or at camp. I also wrote to my grandparents when they moved to Wisconsin and my parents when I was visiting my grandparents or visiting my boyfriend in England.

I’m going to blame the Internet for making me quit writing letters. Why would I want to find the stationery and pen, write a letter in longhand, find the address, find an address, find an envelope, find a stamp, and mail the letter when I could type an email and send in the same amount of time it would take me to find the stationery? Why would I want to wait weeks or months for a reply when all the receiver had to do was hit “reply” and type their response?

This reluctance to write letters led to a reluctance to send Christmas and birthday cards too — Christmas cards were the worst since I never had everyone’s addresses handy and had to go scrounge around for those and often just left the cards unaddressed, unstamped and unsent until I decided to stop altogether. I didn’t need more stress at Christmastime.

I finally stopped sending anyone birthday cards when the youngest nephew turned 16 which was deemed the age we needn’t send birthday money. I’d already gotten so bad at getting cards out in time that I pre-bought belated birthday cards in bulk.

Yesterday I began and today I finished going through my physical in-box — the silver metal one that sits on my office desk. The in-box whose contents were about to collapse on my keyboard. Near the bottom was a letter from my friend Sue whose Christmas card is always one of the first to arrive. Now Sue has an email address, but she doesn’t use it. Her husband, Will, checks it and lets her know if she’s received an email. Nor is she on Facebook (although Will is) so connecting with her online is pretty much not something I can reliably count on.

So I decided that it was time to answer her note in the Christmas card. I’d been wanting to tell her that I ran into a mutual friend when I was at my aunt’s funeral back in February, but never sat down to write. Today was the day. But I first had to find stationery.

Our stationery is kept in a large canvas storage container. As I locate more around the house in my journey towards organization nirvana, I add them to the container. As I looked in it for an appropriate notecard for Sue, I decided that this stationery container needed organizing. I spent a couple of hours putting the types of cards (notecards, birthday cards, belated birthday cards, Christmas cards, postcards, etc. into separate piles, wrapping the piles with paper, labeling what kind of card they were, and matching envelopeless cards with cardless envelopes. Imagine my delight when I finished something that wasn’t even on my list!

I found a notecard with a Brian Andreas story on the front, wrote Sue a note, addressed it (her address is in my contacts list online), stamped it (stamps are in a drawer next to my desk), and mailed it.

Day 21: Curious Nuthatch and Other Birds

My attic office has a through-the-wall air conditioner’, occasionally I hear birds on the on the back of the air conditioner, likely looking for bugs that have hidden themselves in the grille. Today I heard a bird and smiled, hoping it was finding a feast. Seconds later a white-breasted nuthatch peeked in through the window a few feet from the air conditioner. It hung in its usual upside-down manner on the bottom edge of the top window screen, turning its head back and forth, seeming to peer through the window at me. Moments later a tufted titmouse flew to the same window, landing on the outside sill, also looking in the window. The nuthatch flew away, and when the titmouse flew away the nuthatch came back. Then I realized that they must have remembered that months ago had a suet feeder hanging near that window. So I filled it and hung it back up, next to the window.

I filled the birdfeeder (number 7 on my lists of things to do today) after a week or so of neglect. Not long after I went in the house a northern cardinal family descended on the platform part of the feeder. I am pretty sure it was a family because one was a bright red male, a more brownish colored female with with a bright red bill, and the rest were more scruffy, less sleek than their parents, some of whom had red patches on their bodies, some of whom didn’t. And they were loud, chip-chipping at each other.

Birds just make me happy. What can I say?

Photo Credit: Matt MacGillivray / CC BY (

Day 20: Found

A week ago in preparation for the protest I took my credit card and driver’s license out of my bright yellow Hobo wallet and put them into my small crossbody shoulder bag along with my phone, a spare mask and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. When I got back home I returned the credit card and drivers license to the wallet. That was the last time I remember seeing my wallet. I usually keep my wallet in whatever purse I have recently used or on the kitchen counter or in the utility drawer below that counter. A few days ago I received a message asking for a $20 donation for a gift for our postman. Because we are out of checks (Dean’s job is to order them but he forgot) I thought I’d use cash and walk up to the neighbor’s house and deliver the money in person. That’s when I really began looking for my wallet and yesterday and today I have been becoming more and more frantic about its whereabouts. I looked in the usual places, plus the car (what if we left the door unlocked and someone stole it?), other purses, my (newly organized) underwear drawer, all the drawers in the attic where I stash things to hide them from prying eyes on Zoom meetings, under the beds, the attic closet where I also stash things to hide them from sight, the give-away box, the list goes on…

Finally, I went into our guest (used to be Andrew’s) bedroom and looked in a bag that Andrew left containing some clothes he wanted to keep but didn’t want to keep at his apartment. No wallet. Just as I was walking out of the room I saw the plastic bin I’d emptied and washed that had been sitting on the kitchen counter above the utility drawer. There was my yellow wallet, safe and sound. Delight!

Other delights:

  • Actual hand-written thank-you notes I wrote using the lovely note cards Andrew and Alex gave me for a retirement present and Muji pens I bought myself even though I don’t actually use pens much anymore, addressed, stamped, and walked to the neighborhood mailbox (delight! delight! delight! delight!)
  • Negronis in the lodge
  • Discussion with Andrew about white privilege (more of a downer than a delight, but talking to Andrew is delightful

Day 19: Todoist

Retirement is still weird. I have no interest in doing anything that was on my retirement to-do list. I don’t even want to bake bread or feed my sourdough or read or organize or write. I think all that looked so inviting before I retired because it was what I did to avoid work. Now that list is work.

That said… I gave up on Habitica because I just don’t like the game aspect of it but found a different and in my opinion better task/project tracker: Todoist. It has everything Habitica has except the game aspect. You can divide your projects into tasks and the tasks into sub-tasks. This is kind of typical of me. I like making lists but I don’t always like doing what is on the lists. Maybe my retirement will be an endless list of things I didn’t do.

I listened to more of The Book of Delights to try to get back into the groove of finding delights. It’s always delightful to hear Ross’ voice telling me about his delights.