Tuesday, February 23, 2016

WHERE CAN WE LIVE BUT DAYS?

Nothing quite like an intense and unsettling dream to set you to wondering, if not wandering on a given day. I should have written about it when I first got up but, as you mostly know, I am not generally very focused. And, having gone to bed early, I was hoping to have some quiet time around the house before my mom got up and the daily nattering began. But no such luck.


The dream was disjointed as they so often are. There was shoe buying involved.

Feb 10 now.

I don't know what interrupted me there, probably The People vs. O.J. Simpson on FX. And thence to bed and more odd dreams.

I wandered out to the garden around 10:30 this morning, planning to work for an hour, before working on the house projects. You know how that goes. I am trying for a more methodical approach this year, so I picked an area that had some returning plants to weed and add additional plants. This, of course, took over and I was in the garden until 2:00. And the start of a new tan. And the dirty fingernails.

The cats love gardening with me,  especially Vera who enjoys both cement and dirt bathing. She wiggles and squirms around me, sullying her pristine white which generally contrasts so prettily with her browns. She isn't easy to photograph as she doesn't hold still. 

Feb 23rd now (but just barely)

Hi hi hi hi hi hi hi. That's how I greet dogs, but it will work here, too. 

Ooh, I've been thinking of you, of this. I talk to you often, particularly in the last week as I did some serious gardening. I should be posting pictures, but I am not happy with what I get from the iPhone really. No depth of field. However, I will endeavor to take some anyway.



That is Vera Paris with a grasshopper. She does enjoy chasing butterflies,  moths, and other bugs. That nice white fur you see is nearly always covered in dirt during the day. She practically waits at the back door for me to walk into the garden in the morning (I need to see what bloomed over night!), racing to beat me out.

Turns out I rather enjoy weeding. Go figure. I spent many hours pulling weeds most contentedly, not even listening to Crime and Punishment, although it was right there in my pocket, earphones at the ready. I talk to the weeds and make up stories about them being spies and allies as they spread through the garden and I try to get their far-flung outposts.

And then there is the reading addiction. I fell into an Italian policier, and a long one at that. I couldn't put it down until I was through it. That's why I don't read mysteries, as much as I love them. The world will just stop.

So, given that my garden is close to under control for the moment, and I have gotten enough done that I have returned to trying to clean out the guest room and my desk, I plan to have more time to visit with y'all.

DAYS

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.

They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Bring the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

— Philip Larkin, Collected Poems, Farrar Strauss & Giroux, 1988









Friday, February 5, 2016

LOVING TRUMPS BEING LOVED












January 22
Illness won out. I had to cancel our soirée. I might have been able to power through a day of cooking and cleaning, but that would have spelt being down and out for several days. I have a runny nose, a mild sinus headache, and am sneezing to beat the band. I’ve been on the verge of napping since I woke up a few hours ago, but have yet to actually fall asleep. One knows that state of not being able to sleep, but not really being able to watch tv, either. Perhaps I will try listening to The Hemingses of Monticello, although that does require some thinking. (N.B. A most interesting book, highly recommended.)

February 5
Now it is two weeks later. Once again, we have an event planned, although it is not the proper salon as some of our coterie is not available. It is, however, the birthday of two, one being Janet who is 89 today. I am not sure the age of Ms. D. And, interestingly, I was ill again yesterday, though determined to have this party come hell or high water. 

Yesterday, although I was sick, we had the carpets cleaned, partly due to Vera Paris' bad behavior of mistaking the dining room for a litter box. Mom and I debated returning her as this was combined with her wanting to get out and then not coming in. Additional litter boxes and supervised time in the backyard have alleviated our serious consideration of getting our money back. Scotch was chasing her with an apparent intent to kill, but this, too, has abated. Vera has begun to hang out in the living room more to sit on laps in the evening. All good.

The gardener was here, too, necessitating my attention. I had killed off the ivy growing along the back wall and wanted my herb garden cleaned out as well. There are already tomato plant volunteers as well as several pepper plants. My parsley is going crazy and I had purchased some cilantro to grow nearby. Red leaf lettuce, kale, and chard are also grooving along, although small. And the cauliflower finally did something, although the first head was kind of ruined by aphids. 

I was thinking of making pizza for our party tomorrow as there will only be six of us. Perhaps I will make one with ingredients from the garden?


This cool photo is by Tim Creamer, used without his permission but hopefully by his leave. Copyright Tim Creamer.


And reading a whole lot. I blasted through one yesterday, The Sound of Gravel. I am kind of a sucker for Mormon polygamy stories. This one is competently written with a twist or two that caused me to put the book down and walk away for a bit.

Carrie Brownstein's memoir, Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl is well-written and insightful. 

My story starts with me as fan. And to be a fan is to know that loving trumps being loved. All the affection I poured into bands, into films, into actors and musicians, was about me and my friends. Once, in high school, I went to see the B-52s. I pressed myself against the barrier until bruises darkened my ribs, thrilled to watch Kate Pierson drink from a water bottle, only to have my best friend tell me that to her the concert wasn't about the band—it was about us, it was about the fact that we were there together, that the music itself was secondary to our world, merely something that colored it, spoke to it. That's why all those records from high school were so good. It's not that the songs were better—it's that we were listening to them with our friends, drunk for the first time on liqueurs, touching sweaty palms, staring for hours at a poster on a wall, not grossed out by carpet or dirt or crumpled, oily bedsheets. These songs and albums were the best ones because of how huge adolescence felt then, and how nostalgia recasts it now.

Interesting theory. Because my friends and I never stopped listening to new music, most of us aren't overly nostalgic about our high school and college tunes. Our appreciation is based on originality and musicianship more than warm memories of pining, groping, and throwing up. I actively dislike much of what I was taken with in high school. And the Brandenburg Concertos recorded by Nicholas Harnoncourt was a highlight of my freshman year at UCSC. 

And while we are on the subject of nostalgia, in my cleaning and organizing project, I have been desultorily going through boxes of my old letters and mementos. This is an unmitigated hoot and I was challenged severely to keep moving and not sink into hours of memory. Here are two gems from my dear friend ET (a front runner for lifetime most constant correspondent). Just to save you from squinting, the letter begins

"Dear Sally,
You are most correct in assuming my surprise and glee in receiving a letter from you composed during a Dead concert ..."






I derived much pleasure from my perusal and decided these were treasures. 


As are all of you.