Saturday, June 03, 2023

Starting from scratch


The day rolled up hot and loud shouting, "Don't waste me!"

There were some threads measured, waiting. A few linen garments dismembered earlier. A fat handful of old damask napkins. Shockingly large when I shook out the ironing. A sad khaki hobo bag that I bought a few years ago. A fat hank of 70/30 silk/cotton, all waiting.

The colors? I didn't know what I wanted. I sorted all the dyes into primary groups, turned the labels away from me, and went from there, again holding back the Raven. 

We need rain, but it won't come tonight so I'll be hand rinsing all of this early tomorrow. Then packing for a week away. 

If you've placed a request recently, forgive my poor follow-thru. Life and family had to come first. I will hold your place in line and the store will be replenished for you to take a second look.

The dyedeck gardens have run wild. Sacrifices may have to be made. Why do I keep growing mammoth sunflowers in pots? 

The linen table moppers are going to be fabulous by the end of the season. There will be discharging and soy wax work along the way, otherwise it will all become mud.

I rolled some of the threads into linen bundles to see how wet batching works as opposed to leaving the hanks in the sun to poach fast.

The thread ran out pretty quickly so I  turned to some old-school techniques for the remainder of the cloth. The mason jars were ecstatic.

Buttons will be salvaged. Seams will be picked. I'll have some time on my hands in the upcoming week. Not here, but I love how cloth is so portable.

The neighbor's magnolia trees are in full bloom. The scent stops my train of thought, but it brought a memory. Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. Jimmy would sit on the couch in the living room where he could see me working on the deck. Sometimes he would step outside and say "What you were grinning over. Which one? Yes!" 

Thursday, June 01, 2023


 She snuck into our lives fourteen years ago.  Sly little minx flying a false flag of Sweetness. It was a ruse!
She put on her lipstick and falsies and charmed her way into our hearts.  After she made us her own, she asserted her true Tribe of Tiger self.  Large and in charge.

Always watchful and ready to take up arms. She never bothered to learn "soft paws" and spent a lot of time sharpening her tools and drew blood casually. She and Voodoo were a fierce team of hunters; the Ghost and the Darkness.

Meow was beneath her dignity. Some cat owners will understand "Blurpt? which could mean, "Where have you been?" "When is dinner?" or just "Hey, Mom." She also had a big block purring engine and loved a good scratch as long as you didn't get too personal.

She was also my closest companion after Jim passed. She heard it all. Sorrows and joys, first drafts and confessions. Little Priestess between me and my coffee cup right up until her last day.

Last week I wrote a post bitching about the cool and damp. The same day I granted her a reprieve. From that day until her last, on the 30th, we had a string of days with the most perfect weather and I spent them outside with her doing our version of metta, open to the universe and the truths. 70 degrees, blue skies with just enough puffy clouds to keep the temperatures windows wide open. No AC. Low humidity and gentle breezes carried the scents of magnolia, gardenia, and jasmine. Moving slowly as comfort required between the warmth of the sun or a patch of shade.

At day's end, I would carry her up to my room to watch fireflies from the high deck and listen to frogs and owls signaling after sunset then sleep beside me. One perfect day after the next. Days so fine and rare in this hot and humid state they should be named like hurricanes. 

From now on, I will call such days Sweeties. 

Saturday, May 27, 2023

With littles


I had the pleasure of picking Charlie up from the last of third grade. The next morning, he was disoriented about what day of the week it was. No school, the first day of Summer vacation came as a shock to him.  Me too.
There will be a little summer school, a few weeks of day camp, and one away trip. I'll have his company scattered here and there. 

On the way to my house the next day we had to make an emergency stop at a tire place to have a repair made. Such luck that I scanned the dash and saw the warning light and the Tires Plus in Bogart was just minutes off the highway.
They squeezed us in and squeezed us out in about two hours. The errant screw was removed from the tire, 21.50 thank you very much. Nice, clean waiting space.

During the waiting, we had long and looping conversations. He had a device but seemed to play the game with a different part of the brain and was fully present to interact with me. I made an effort to not pick up my phone because Now is ever more important. 

  Before we got back to my house there was some discussion about Sweetie's state of being. The flux of her life. He wanted to react with a learned sadness, but I wouldn't let it stand. We talked about the quality of life and how (as far as we know) animals don't have a fear of whatever comes next. How if all their needs are met - food, water, shelter, comfort of companionship - they are satisfied. At ease. So she seems. 
    Charlie and Sweetie have always had a guarded relationship. He was a toddler when he accidentally stepped on her tail and at some point she gave him a warning scratch. I assured him that she wouldn't remember any of that, but she would remember cat cookies and soft touches.

We stayed outside in the fresh air and sunshine for a big chunk of the day. So many deep questions bubble up at this age. God, or not. Cultural norms that have been informed by cartoons. Heaven or hell. Reincarnation. A cartoon character who has two Dads. Question. Questions. 

He loves a good political discussion. Something we keep under our hat. I assure him that grown-ups who know right from wrong have most of this stuff under control. His only obligation is to learn from history and when he is old enough, to vote or to even run for office to make things right for the most people. He has a deep social consciousness and a prosecutor's heart.  

I have explained to him that I am a time traveler obligated to share the ancient wisdom. Like how pay phones worked. How to find north. How to put stuff in the same place all the time so you can find it again. Old people tricks. Questions lead to more answers. 

We are working on cultural exchanges. I watched the Super Mario movie with him, actively. I was pleasantly surprised. Soon, he promised he will watch Star Wars with me. More history lessons. More questions. 

The crown of the day was when he decided that I must be a witch because I always seemed to know what to do. Like Bactine for a mosquito bite. Ginger ale for a belly ache. Applesauce to make you poop. I gave him a little history of witches including the downside of people being persecuted by the ignorant. How it pays to NOT be ignorant. Educate yourself every day, all day. Listen. Watch. Learn.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Passages and indulgences

Just when we are all gearing up mentally for summer, the last few days have been more like February. Damp and raw. 

It does make for good reading, writing, and napping weather. I always have a nap coach ready to help.

The writing wobbles along. I'm at the place - in two separate stories -where I am chasing scenes, catching them after a lot of fuss, and then wondering why. Lotta chaff in the air lately. 

I was shopping online the other day and kept saying WTF or GTFOH out loud. When I gave up and went to the store I was still turning over price tags and muttering it for the sake of anyone within earshot. 

Judging by muted laughter, I wasn't alone in my sticker shock. 
I brought home a lot of nearly dead plants, a whole summer wardrobe, and lost my last cane.

Oh, that. Friday last was supremely stressful. I have a better understanding of a personal rubicon. 

    Midweek I made the decision to take Sweetie for a last trip to the vet. The home visit euthanists wanted nearly a mortgage payment for their kindnesses. So, it was set for Friday at 2. 
    My appointment for my back called for leaving the house at 8:30am with a driver. Colin came to the car with Sweetie bundled up in a lovey for her last ride, thinking I was a horrible person for being annoyed at his footdragging. Overwhelmed by his sorrow, he got the appointment times mixed up. He has such a tender heart. Confusion, tears, apologies. and my solemn vow that we would cancel the vet appointment if I could just get through mine. I doubled down on the valium and a bunch of needles later, and I could stand up straight without pain in my legs. For how long? I don't care. Now is just fine. 

A word about suffering. We aren't seeing any signs of pain, and certainly no fear. Sadness is our construct, not hers. After not taking any water or food for four days, Saturday night she set about making up for lost time. She wants to be outdoors as much as the weather will permit, but I don't let her stay outside alone. We sit together and watch the garden grow. Her friends sit too. Each day, still a gift. 

She's facing what used to be her wild lands. The overgrown shrubs and weeds between the stand of trees in front of the house. 

Now it's reduced to a decomposing mountain of woodchips and hopefully will be supporting a variety of perennials.  

I've always been a chaos gardener. It was so much easier in the black soil of the Hudson Valley. Here, it's hit or miss.

A string of pumpkin plants is already flowering from the guts of last year's Jack O lantern. I planted those 50-cent nearly deads out there randomly. Some tomatoes, peppers, squash, and watermelons no one wanted mixed in with the zinnia, cosmos, and a bunch of other things that I'd already forgotten.

We wait together to see what the garden will give us. Flowers, food, and eventually, a place to rest. 

I've taken to skipping dinner for dessert.