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Home Planet

Archive for January 2010

Come back to me

By Cheryl-Anne Millsap

January 27, 2010

Special to Pinch


     After almost 6 weeks of having her home, we just helped my middle daughter pack up her gear to return to school at the end of the long winter break. She was ready to go. She was ready to get back to her life on campus.
    She took her new sweaters. She took the new DVDs and the books she bought while she was here. She took the female kitten she recently adopted from a friend on campus and who predictably went into heat  as soon as they got home. The cat whose expensive, but necessary surgery put a significant dent in the post-holiday budget.
    When her ride arrived we sent her on her way - as we always do - with hugs and kisses and a warning to be safe.  To watch out for snow on the mountain passes, to stay alert and aware of other drivers. I told her to call us when she got back to school and to stay in touch on a regular basis. We reminded her to eat right and to make the right choices. She’s in college. I brought up that part about making good choices again.
    I gave the kitten’s ears a rub and waved as the car pulled out of the driveway.
   

Family Magic

Family Magic

By Cheryl-Anne Millsap

Special to PINCH

Jan 20, 2010

     One of the things I loved most about the Harry Potter books when my children were reading them, was the idea that photographs in newspapers, books and magazines were living images. The people in the magical photos moved, coming and going, talking, laughing and smiling at whoever was looking at them.

      Sometimes, when I walk past the framed black-and-white and sepia-toned photos that hang on my bedroom wall, I think about that. They are, for the most part, snapshots and portraits of my children taken when they were very young.  And most, although I’ve only just realized it, were taken in summer.

      I remember the moment each was taken…

Waiting Out a Fickle Winter

By Cheryl-Anne Millsap

Special to PINCH

January 13, 2010

  Winter weather, when it doesn’t behave as it should, leaves us confused about where we stand. And this January, living in a place that by now should be deeply frosted with snow, like a layer-cake covered with heavy white icing, that is the literal truth. I have to be careful about where I put my feet.
    My small backyard in the city, a frozen, snowy, Dr. Zhivago landscape this time last year, is in this rainy El Nino year, frequently a swamp. A soggy patch of sloppy lawn and boot-sucking mud. A mess. Then, in a few days, when the temperature drops again, it becomes a frozen tundra, as hard as concrete.
     It is also a place where three hens scratch and parade in the cold drizzle.
    My young urban chickens were last spring’s peeps. Three tiny balls of fluff, warming under the heat lamp, that have grown into plump, comic, egg-producing machines.
    All summer, watching them grow leggy and brave, watching them molt and then sprout new feathers, I worried and fretted about how to keep those hens healthy and happy when the bitterest part of winter descended on us. I plotted the route the shoveled path would take from the backdoor to the henhouse. I anticipated tender combs burned by frostbite and gray days so cold the hens would be happy to stay in the coop under the warmth of the heat lamp. I bought a heat lamp. I filled the nesting box with an extra layer of hay.
    What I didn’t expect was a winter that can’t make up its mind; that drops in and then melts and retreats only to sneak in another day or two of shocking cold before going back into hiding…

Puzzling over the pieces

 By Cheryl-Anne Millsap

Special to Pinch

January 6, 2010


   We start every new year by searching for the right pieces to the puzzle. We open a box, upend it on the table and start building our boundaries.  
    Of course, anyone who’s ever done a jigsaw puzzle knows that’s the easy part. It’s finding a way to finish the rest that takes the real work.
    Last night, after everyone else had gone to bed, I couldn’t get to sleep. Regretting that second late-afternoon cappuccino, I surrendered. I put on my slippers and wandered into the living room to play around with this year’s holiday puzzle.
    The room was dark, with only the one lamp over the table. The cat was curled up on the sofa and the dog lifted his head to see if there was any chance I was up for a late-night snack before dropping it again and going right back to his snoring.
    Pulling my robe a little tighter around me, shivering in the chilly night air, I sat down and began to study the pieces in front of me. I looked at the empty spaces and then at the puzzle-pieces scattered across the tabletop, occasionally picking up one to pop into the right place. As I worked, soothed by the quiet activity, my mind drifted back to the people who just a few hours before had been in the room…

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About this blog

Cheryl-Anne Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement. Cheryl-Anne is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. She is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."

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