REPORT A PROBLEM
Last night a beer foamed onto my keyboard. Itís drying out but they keys are sticky and itís pretty hard to type. The inboard mouse jumps easily. I need to take apart the keys and clean it out, like I do at work with my desktop. That usually takes about an hour as I rinse off old coffee, bagel grains, and juice. A fourth graderís computer. But this is a lap top; a fairly new laptop that was given to me as an out of the blue gift. Well, the foaming beer was a surprise as well.
We were wild last night. Burning 7 month old Christmas trees, drinking to the hum of mosquito buzz, and encircling ourselves in circumstance. Parties used to make me nervous, but I get older I look forward to them and know that they will be filled with people I want to spend time with. Or else I would just leave and probably not be invited back, so the next party there would be sans me, and I a happier person then. However, Emfest 09, year 11, was filled with love. A tabled reminiscence though. There was a pre-teen there now.
These days of the week run together sometimes. But I don't consider that a bad thing. If my days were long and drawn out or tense perhaps the hours would separate themselves in my head, but I move from free time to trapped time and back level headed. My job is no longer part of my waking mind. Not that I dream about it ever. Well, twice, but that's not too bad. It's just what I do between the things I like to do. Is it Monday or Wednesday? I do the same things, so why should I differentiate now?
It's August 4 and summer has finally hit New England. I though it would skip us, but the humidity has smothered our will, right on schedule. This evening the light shone into our bedroom and was filtered through the hanging water droplets. Combined with the musty smell seeping from the continually wet towels in the bathroom, I was transported back to my first house. The boom of the attic fan, the crickets chirping, that late 1970s soft light. It could have been a picture taken from my parents worn photo album, a polaroid now stripped of its image in time.
We didnít turn on the tv tonight. Instead we painted, cleaned, made dinner, and sat on the 3-season porch in the one season where we needed it. Summer night. Afterward we sat on our main couches in front of the tv where temptation loomed. I went to grab the remote but my hand instead rested on my weekly pile of magazines I get from the library. Country Living and Fine Cooking were on top, two I had never read before. Tossing the remote towards him, I opened Country Living and began reading parts aloud. I never do that.
Becoming an adult was weird. Become closer to middle age every day is weirder. Not that I'm middle age or close to it--I probably have at least 14 more years until that. But today I was thinking that this is probably my prime. USDA Prime of Life. Under 35, but not in their 20s. Girl working in the city but country life on the weekends in the suburban style. Prime. But I feel 14 even though I can barely think back to those fuzzy years. I do remember laughter though. And lots of pain. Teenage pain. The pathetic kind.
Weaving through train stations, I emerge 25 minutes early for my express train on a Friday night in summer. With no where to go. The bar in the station is not one I would have pictured in my head for a transient traveler. No steel rails or dark shadows. Bright lights, yellow pine, a giant screen announcing what tartlet would shake on stage that fall. The only consistency in bars are the fruit flies. Hovering, aching for sweetness. I could use some myself. I order a bitter tasting beer and wait. Chase the eye-floaters away, swiping at imaginary things.
Long Saturdays in the summer. It is days like today that make the week worth working. We enclose ourselves in a bubble and block out everyone else. Errands become fun, gardening is just a game and not a lifestyle, we eat good food, engage in a looseness not available to us during the week, and glide into bed with the purpose of sleeping as late as we can, while we can. Because this could all change in an instant. These bubble days. There are only a few left for us to enjoy in this time, before the next scenario begins.
Going to garage sales is a bit like looting. You see inside of houses and analyze the discards. Why sell the board games with missing pieces? Why is the china and furniture so cheap? Is this a clutter sale, a moving sale, or a divorce sale? The divorce sales, unfortunately, are generally the best to go to. Nice things--wedding presents probably--being sold for spite prices. My own good china, Limoges dating between 1890-1920, was bought for a pittance. It was the wife's in the divorce, but the husband's mother's once. Beautiful porcelain, now mine. Heirlooms cast aside.
Tiredness comes in waves. After years of my energetic spurts followed by short stints asleep, my pattern has changed. Today I am sleepwalking. I have been closing my eyes and continuing to live. The structure of my routine has saved me. I know how many stops on the train, steps on the stairs, even arrangement of accessories on my desk. I now understand how the blind move through life. Step by step, using their other senses as markers. But I can open my eyes and continue my journey through life in the brightness of day. Just sometimes it's too bright.
I had a day off yesterday and I spent most of it waiting. Waiting for my broken phone to ring, waiting for an old friend to reappear, waiting for the sun to move across the sky. I wanted to be free and out in the world. At the beach digging my feet into the sand, and entering the freezing waters of the northeast to cool off from the muggy day. But this was a rare day when I chose to be around people so I stepped into the mold of the world. Next weekend I will be by myself; free.
Today is the new moon. Darkness in the skies, if they weren't lit up by the reflecting lights of the small surrounding cities. There is supposed to be a meteor shower this week, and the new moon, the lack of a moon, would have provided prime viewing of it. But rolling thunderheads hang instead, a fluorescent ceiling of the daily office. Inescapable. Gray to gray, with no shower burst to clear the heavy August air. I take solace in the image of the meteors above the cloud line. I know that they are zooming through space, in clarity and silence.
Today I got my motivation back a bit and put on my running shoes. The serenity that I get through running doesn't always appear. Today it did. It must be a weather thing. The August heat got blown away by a cold front and it felt more like April than anything. Which also had to do with the light. One of my favorite ways to mark time is through the sun, as with many people I'm sure. But I love how the light in August (started that book and gave up by the way) is the same as in April.
The days seem longer now though than they do in April. Perhaps because we are so aware of the darkness then than in summer. But I love the approach of fall. The harvest, the cool air that seeps in from the north each night, the crescendo of crickets and other nighttime noises. When I see the first tree begin to turn a part of me jumps for joy. It's odd, because I used to consider spring my favorite season. No longer though. The soil is still warm, not frozen like in early spring. Fertile and ready. Not just a plan.
We searched for the farm along route 117 until I realized we should be on 62. This would have once annoyed us both, but it was sunny and there were lines of yard sales to keep us distracted. Antique stores set us tables but Jon wasn't convinced anything was antique. We made our way to the small farm. A tall, thin old man stood in the door. Pick on the left, he said and handed us buckets. We spent the afternoon among netted rows. The berries now in the freezer will remind us of this Saturday in the winter months.
Alone in the house, all the windows open trying to get the house to cool off. But it's warm outside too; the best I can hope for is a hazy equilibrium. The summer cicadas are resting and the crickets have awoken in the night air. Each cat is perched in a window, and I wish I could shave their coats down to help them cool off. It's weird seeing cats pant. And I still sit, sticking to the leather of the couches. There are cabinets to be organized, laundry to do, lists to make. But it's hot. So I write.
The Food Network has changed my cooking completely. Even before I watched, my recipe searches went to their website. My first gumbo was Emeril's duck gumbo. Of course I was ridiculed by a man from Mississippi during a dinner once because he said duck did not go into gumbos, but it was still delicious nonetheless. Last night I watched Iron Chef (among other FN shows) and saw corn cooked a million and one ways. Fast forward 24 hours and on my stove simmers a crab and corn chowder. Once chilled, it will soothe my heated form and render me full.
My cats don't know what to do with the heat. My skittish one greeted me by laying down at my feet. Usually I have to pry her out of a closet to pet her for a millisecond before she skitters away. I take a wet paper towel and rub it over their fur, unsure if it will cool them down. I'm used to dogs. I doubt they want to be hosed down, and briefly consider holding them in front of the freezer. All I can do is put out ice water for all of us and sit in the breezeway.
The beach today was hot. I drove out after calling in sick. I figured the shore air would settle my stomach and maybe allow me a brief nap. When I got there the wind was nonexistent and the sea was like glass. It was glacial though and I sighed as I inched my way into the shallows. Being at the beach alone was different in my head. I pictured seclusion. However, this end had run down arcades and hordes of vacationing families. Boarded up beach shops were just another sign of the bad economy. I dug in my feet anyway.
Went out for drinks last night at a popular place that I had never been before, mostly because I don't like to fight crowds to get a drink. Anymore. We arrived early and I enjoyed their beer menu. Food menu was boring, and I was surprised to learn it was so popular until I was clued in. It's a first date spot. The menu features sandwiches from other restaurants around town. They really feature the chef's, but it's a preview of your future dates. Should we make a date #2? We can go...we already know you like their food.
I went to the mall today after work. Well, into the outer stores of the mall. Malls have grown into organisms, spreading out on the land like a fungus. I was at Old Navy, which is still 1/2 mile from the mall, but in the mall parking lot. It's no wonder small businesses are dying, the mall won't accept them. I could see sports shops, book store (giant), 4 restaurants (chain), and 2 big box stores. I stood on the edge of generic and lost, but went in anyway. I came out an hour later, dazed and empty handed.
The best favor from a shower I ever got was a mason jar full of candy. It really was twofold for me. I love candy and making preserves. Plus I took 2 (hey, they told me to!). Favors at showers are really just a parting kick in the ass. You eat, maybe have a glass of champagne or wine, then watch people open very expensive kitchen gadgets that you bought them and they will never use. Three hours later you eat cake and are set free with a favor. It is a favor. You did them a favor by coming.
Fruit leather. What an odd concept. Why not call it jerky? Is jerky a type of spice or aging process that applies only to meat? How on earth do they make fruit leather? These are the questions in my head as I eat a "harvest grape" fruit leather. You may know fruit leathers as the sugary fruit roll ups. The imitation fruit leather. I checked, and they are pureed fruit, spread out and dried, then rolled up and stored. Sure enough, the ingredients on the back of mine are apple, grape, and pear concentrate. Natural. Still, what is jerky then?
I usually love August. But this year, with my lack of summer vacation and house chores I am ready for autumn. Maybe even winter. Our house needs a new wall and we have been putting it off cause it's expensive and takes time. Neither of which we have. We were thinking of putting on a small front extension, but ended up making the materials and work list last night. Doesn't seem likely now. We would need 70 bags of cement, dig a 16 by 6 foot ditch (which will probably hit the high water table), and then build. Or not.
I am OK with not putting on the extension. The plan was to wall in the front porch area and then make a door into the lower living room. Essentially all that work for a front mud room. True, it gets amazing afternoon light, but once we cut down that tree in the side yard the back porch will get that light too. Cause the tree, unfortunately, needs to go. It is a giant oak that has been dropping its limbs. And with two very large limbs over the neighbor's roof, it is in our best interest to sacrifice it.
It kills me to take down trees. Especially a stately oak. I can take comfort in the multitude of trees surrounding our yard though. We may take more down now that we are thinking about it. Ten year old saplings that have planted themselves in the ancient rock walls are now towering over the bushes. The previous owners ignored the acorn drops every year, and the squirrels must have been full to not pick up these bright morsels. So scrawny oaks and maples shoot up, competing for light in the shadow of their parents. Soon to be my winter kindling.
Clashing of seasons. While summer is here for another 26 calendar days, this morning we are getting a taste of fall. Light sweater over tank top for when the afternoon sun blazes, this change stirs the air. It's just a taste though. In a few days the temperatures will sky rocket back into the 90s, and humidity from the tropical depression riding the Gulf Stream will seep up the coast, engulfing New England into a steamy haze. This is our refreshing shower, a preview of the future and reminder to enjoy the coming heat. Because the winter chill comes quickly.
My eye is twitchy. I need a vacation. Just a few more days to go before my summer vacation that is taking place in September. But it is still summer. The tail end. It's funny how we always want to start seasons early. Spring is early March, summer is late May, fall is the beginning of September, winter is early December. We ignore the calendar and go by holidays or familiar markers like school and vacation. I feel as though the seasons are shifting later though, especially this year. Summer hit in mid-July and will stretch out into October.
The past two weekends we have had hurricane warnings. Not that any hurricanes have made it close to us. The one this weekend is a rain storm without wind. It dissipated some 500 miles south of us, and instead we have a light summer nor'easter bringing rain bands off the ocean. If this was winter we would have a foot of snow, but now there are just deep puddles in the roads and a layer of condensation on the windows. The waves at the shore are wild, but we are 50 miles too far south to see the open water.
This week we are having J's siblings out for a clam bake up at Nashoba Valley. It is their end of season, or rather the beginning of their real season--leaf peepers then snow. On Thursdays they set up a large buffet on the edge of their swim pond (snow machine reservoir), set up horseshoes and volleyball, and cook lobsters under the stars. We went last week and as I was leaving there was a table of 6 or 7 women sitting around with drinks, laughing and whispering. I couldn't stop staring. It was too picturesque. End of summer kvetch.
Poetry rolls in from black horizons. A night vision trapped in nets and torn apart. Line by line nature echoes and fades. New methods rise and break under the scrutiny of heart and meter. Each word chosen in wavering tone, and recorded with a bold keystroke.
Fiction lives on the outskirts of town. Edging closer to your mind, but held back by oddity and blocked imaginations. By television and computer distractions. Whispered into your window, she stands below at night, luring you with dreams. Daring you to record and start your story.
Free write releases the mind. Cathartic.
The Tip Jar