Tuesday, June 14, 2011 • 9:00 AM Comments ()

At Home & Close to Home

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Having something like a sty in your eye (well, having a sty in your eye) is one of those completely self-absorbing experiences, simply because it’s so annoying. Mine is getting better, finally. It’s not all the way better, but close enough that maybe today I won’t feel completely preoccupied by it. Here’s hoping.

As for the rest of what’s completely self-absorbing, I’ve been logging a little more sleep consistently (it’s a real effort to do so), say between seven-and-a-half and eight hours a night. I feel… still tired. My teen slept a bunch, too, and here I quote: “The more I sleep, the more tired I am.”

I feel less wired, though (and maybe he feels the same, I’m not sure; he’s pretty… wired these days, except when he’s dead asleep on the couch. Since I can’t write much about him, I will add this one detail I love about him these days that I believe he won’t mind my sharing: he’s been calling me mei-mei, which is mama in Chinese.).

On the house front, I did get through the giant, annoying, seemingly endless bin of mismatched socks. No surprise that everyone has more socks, now. I tossed a bunch of socks too, holey ones and wayward ones, and too-yucky-to-pass-on ones. After this homebound-ish weekend (save, really, for the Nields concert) I can say with confidence that my bedroom is nearly nice again. I won’t go as far as to thank the sty, but I am really digging the relative lack of clutter.

Yesterday our rickety, disintegrating climber came down. We have two holes in the ground for the new swings. Our plan (thank you, Ted Giles and Ed Hogan) is to set the recycled swings from our decrepit structure up first and go from there. Right now, it’s the near clean slate of lawn (save for where the grass is matted down by the old structure and holes for the new swings) it was fourteen years ago before we installed the climber. At the time, we felt badly about wrecking our next-door neighbor’s peaceful life. Fortunately for us, the reception was generous (and the grandchildren—hers, not ours—arrived soon thereafter).


I love living in my neighborhood, and not just for the fantastic block parties and talent shows. I happen to have an amazing bunch of neighbors (my husband can walk three doors down to get a page in an antiquarian book translated from the German; heck, he could also get something translated from French, Spanish or Arabic if he needed, equally close by). More so, it’s a friendly, kindly crew. And nearby, we have Kate, Bayla, Gabriel, and Arella (and their parents).

The ‘hood also has a listserve. Need a roofer? A housesitter? A babysitter? You might be able to find it. Need to mull the vagaries of a school trying to sell off most of a campus? We do that, too.

A few months back, a poem by Richard Greene came across the listserve’s transom and along with it, an invitation to be on his Poem of the Week listserve. Of course, I opted in. What could be better than getting a Poem of the Week, after all?

Corresponding with the poet is even better is the answer to that question. Sometimes, I send him haiku*. The last I sent got him thinking about that July in May streak, too (at least I think it did).

Here it is**:

When the World Was New and Smiled

After a stretch of July in May

today, this first week of June,

the weather’s making amends.

This morning’s as fresh as that brook in the woods

I explored when I was a child

with its rustling water,

still chill from cool nights,

and its newly minted tadpoles,

fresh as the trillium’s starry carpet

and the strawberries growing wild

fresh as the memory of those days

when the world was new and smiled.

Richard Greene

June 5, 2011

* My Haiku:

Exit, May. July,

Sultry, arrives unannounced

With strawberry lips.

**if you’d like to be on the Poem of the Week listserve, leave a comment and I’ll pass your contact info onward.

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