Saturday, February 05, 2005

Coming out of the fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems (1916) "Fog"
US biographer & poet (1878 - 1967)

It's always exciting when I find a useful site for finding word derivations, definitions, quotations, urban legends, etc. Deep down I'm still the library Information Desk lady:

1544, from Dan. fog "spray, shower, snowdrift," related to O.N. fok "snow flurry." The word meaning "long grass" (c.1300) may be a different word, but the two may connect via a notion of long grass growing in moist dells of northern Europe. Phrase in a fog "at a loss what to do" first recorded 1602. Foggy Bottom "U.S. Department of State," from the name of a marshy region of Washington, D.C., where many federal buildings are (also with a punning allusion to political murkiness) popularized 1947 by James Reston in "New York Times," but he said it had been used earlier by Edward Folliard of "The Washington Post."

In a fog best describes the past two weeks. I functioned pretty well at work, but when I got home I was still at a loss what to do. During the five months of my mother's illness many tasks became too unimportant and/or too overwhelming to tackle. I was focused on helping my dad cope as best I could long-distance, putting interesting stories and things in the mail to amuse my mom, and keeping the rest of the family informed. I didn't clean or iron, rarely cooked or watered the houseplants, sometimes failed to open the mail the day it arrived. I didn't file the images and materials I use for teaching. Often I didn't help my youngest son deal with his college search and application process. On the plus side, I did keep the washer, dryer, and dishwasher running, and I did a lot of writing to preserve a little sanity.

Feel like I crossed through a gate this week, and not an airport security gate, either. I've started cleaning the condo. Yesterday I began turning my middle son's bedroom into a guest room that my dad can use when he comes to visit. My middle son will attend summer school at Tech. My eldest is in grad school. It's time to get real. Neither of them are actually likely to live here again. That bedroom had become the sculpture studio for my youngest, and the depository of orphaned automotive items, a dusty museum to the frequently dashed hopes of teen auto ownership.

Floormats from the Batmobile.

Today I moved all the photo albums into an emptied bookshelf in that bedroom, along with all the free-floating snapshots that need to be albummed. Then I allowed myself to just sit and watch a movie. I've always been leisure-challenged, and that tendency had worsened through the autumn as my stress increased. A wise and dear friend had sent me a DVD of "The Producers" with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, one of my all-time favorites. After that I went to Kohl's to replace my kitchen towels that were so horribly disfigured in the tragic X-Drano kitchen sink episode the day my mother died.

I have a plan for dealing with the backlog of filing and organizing. Little tasks are becoming a celebration of life instead of cement overshoes. My dad talks through his accomplishments when we visit. I will have some of my own to report next time.

No comments: