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I’m letting things slide. I don’t even know what that means, exactly – things sliding. Down a hill, maybe? If so, I reckon they are. Quietly and without a lot of dust. I’m here so rarely that the entire interface is different. That’s a little alarming.
I’m reading very few blogs lately but I’m reading other things. Things I’m not recording here. I’m not writing here but I’m writing other things. The Novel that Will Not Die. Which…is really not all that great of a story anymore. Or, rather, I think the story might have some merit in someone else’s hands. It’s depressing but I plug on. It’s a thing I can’t stop doing. Which is not the same thing as creating something worth READING. It’s just….well, some kind of obsessive need to DO. And there’s a much better one in the wings. Pinky swear.
What else? The garden’s going great guns despite a groundhog marauder. I’ve shored up the fence, built a blockade, and so far he’s not been able to penetrate it. I’ve been pulling up carrots and hoping the snow peas recover from being Mr. G’s dinner a week ago. He took out most of the lettuce which is regenerating (something I didn’t know it did! Learn something new every year, I do), and eat up most of the sunflowers. I hadn’t realized sunflowers were tasty. Now I know. I only really miss the big one with the thick stalk. That one hurt. I planted more seeds but it’s practically July almost so I don’t know if there’s still time for them to flower.
It’s been a cicada year – we were deluged with Brood II’s but now they’ve begun to die off and the evenings are quiet again. Sadly; I miss them already. I probably won’t live here 17 years from now to meet their offspring. Now I only hear the regular cicadas, which is still good but not the same.
And there are apples on the apple tree! If I get the ladder up in time, I might be able to pick some. Last year the crows took them all. I watched them, like a sporting event. They’d dive down and pick one, calling out to their friends about the free meal. More would come, dive, steal, fly off. You gotta give it to nature – it knows how to operate. I can only stand back and watch. Say “you’re welcome” and mourn the applesauce that never was.
Dusty’s busy in the kitchen making cheese straws all by herself. I cannot tell you how FULL of happiness I am that my daughter is cooking, without help or assistance, all on her own. Her idea. And she’s a good cook. And they smell delicious. Next week, we head for NYC! Adventures await. I am loving, loving, loving these children at these particular ages.
Speaking of which, J turns 9 on Sunday. After tomorrow, she’ll be a 4th grader. Remember when she was a teeny tiny thing? When I first starting blogging back when she was 8 weeks old? I do. It was yesterday and also a million years ago. One day, that girl’s gonna be famous. Mark my words.
Each evening, after washing dishes, I step out into the evening of warmth and cicada trilling. This piece of land seems to be the epicenter for cicadas this year. They fill the air and the noise (which I dearly love) almost seems to inject itself into my veins. My body vibrates with it.
The garden is, so far, doing splendidly. I began planting things at the end of March (lettuce and spinach and radishes and carrots and potatoes) and now the summer vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, bean, snow peas, eggplants, squash, cucumbers) are established and flowers are growing. The potatoes are particularly happy this year. One variety has pink blossoms. Another, white. The other two haven’t bloomed yet but there’s still time for that. Bugs are, at the moment, at a minimum.
This is always the period of optimism. What could possibly go wrong? I’ve not yet mixed by sprays (all organic, of course) and haven’t had to do too terribly much watering and that crazy late frost didn’t do too much damage. Serious heat hasn’t arrived. The days are generally warm, the nights generally not muggy.
And then, as I’m inspecting and running my fingers through all the volunteer dill, I discover that one of my two tiger swallowtail caterpillars is dead. His back is blackened by I don’t know what. The other is missing. Eaten by a bird? Do these caterpillars even taste good? I let all the dill grow just for them and now they’re gone. Hopefully, more will show up soon.
Optimism. It won’t last long but I’m savoring it while it does. Caterpillars or no caterpillars.
I’ve discovered a colony of digger bees in the packed red clay dirt that still clings to the roots of the fallen walnut tree. As I walk to the garden, I stop and watch the bees arrive and find just the right tunnel or hole to enter. I can imagine a tiny bee at the control tower waving them in. “Tunnel 27 is cleared for entrance. Tunnel 41 has a slight delay. Please hover in place until the obstruction is unblocked.” And last night there was a bee who went from hole to tunnel to hole looking for the right one. Did he forget which one he was supposed to enter? Do the bees really have assigned holes? Was he at the wrong hive? Bees can’t get lost, can they?
So, my wish for a hive has come true except I don’t imagine it’ll be possible to extract any honey from this tree. I need a bear to do that part for me. Anyone have a spare bear they could lend me? I’ll pay you in honey.
I’ve been doing a lot of organizing and purging lately. Getting ready for the next chapter in my life. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve held onto, things I enjoyed revisiting before tossing them in the recycling bin (really, all those clipped articles from newspapers? I can find those again), and a tidy pile of things I must always keep. One of those piles contains photographs.
There was a time in my life – pre-motherhood – when I collected photographs of people I didn’t know. My favorites (and I’ve yet to find that group yet) are of small old timey children posing with their pets. There’s something wonderful about a vintage cat or goat, don’t you think?
Anyway. Here are five photos I found in a file. One of them is an actual family member. The rest are “strangers”. Can you pick out the relative? If you are related to me and read this, you cannot play this game.
One of these things is not like the others….
A few weeks ago – almost two months ago now – I went to my now-annual writer’s retreat in the mountains. I work and work and work on whatever novel I’m trying to finish and then it’s time to go out and stretch my legs. I don’t know if this is a sign of doom, but today there are three wet inches of snow on the ground. Back in February, in the mountains, there was a brief dusting and then it was fairly pleasant. For winter.
On the property stands an abandonded, burned-down house. I’ve walked past it before on my walks but I’d never approached it before. Mainly because it’s hard to get to, up on a rise of land and hemmed in with overgrown bushes. But the retreat owner confirmed that not only was the house on her property but that I could walk around it as much as I wanted. So I did.
Just inside, I found a piece of paper, crumpled and muddy and insect nibbled. I picked it up. I like to keep little momentoes of places I’ve been and walks I’ve taken. At work, I have a very small collection of shells and pebbles that have called up to me. I looked at the sheet of paper. It was from an old dictionary.
On my way out I saw a dirty round rock on the ground and took that too. I walked back to my little hermitage on the third floor of the farm house and placed the items on my desk. Inspiration or remembrance of people I never knew. People who owned a dictionary. Which is what writers need. Not just words but the right words. Forcing-pump.
I don’t usually post videos/music here. But when I realized it was the first day of spring, this song popped into my head.
Despite the snow and the continual bouts of cold downpours, it dried up just enough yesterday to allow me to start puttering in the vegetable garden. I pulled weeds and added new composted soil to the raised beds. No matter how stressful things are right now – and I’ve got so many unresolved balls in the air I’ve come slightly unhinged in recent weeks – digging in the dirt helps immensely. It might be the cheapest, best therapy there is.
Red has taken over Dusty’s old DSi and they were out in the yard last night taking photos and recording audio bits and laughing. I can’t tell you how happy I feel when I hear them giggling and being together. I hope they always stay friends. It’s the whole reason I wanted two children in the first place, that hope of a camaraderie born from a shared upbringing, shared memories. It seems to be working so far.
And I recently learned something about myself and my brain.
A few weeks ago, I was in Pittsburgh. Two days spent on trains and two days in between. I dragged my suitcase up long staircases where the escalators were unoperational. I came home to a snowstorm that knocked out power for a day and a half. I shoveled the driveway (solo) because I had to get out and appear at work for however long it was possible.
I pulled every single muscle in my back from the base of my skull to the bottom of my bottom. I scheduled a massage with a new massage therapist at my chiropractor’s office. She introduced herself and we shook hands. I left half an hour later and realized I could not for the life of me remember her name. It’s a thing with me. I know faces but never names. Or I know names but not faces. This woman’s name started with a P, that much I retained. And of course I’d recognize her instantly if I saw her again but….what was her NAME?
Polly. I had grabbed a business card on my way out and stuck it in my wallet. Don’t even remember doing it but there it was. And it occured to me that when I’m introduced to someone, I’m focusing on their face. I’m a visual learner and I was learning her face. My ears weren’t actually working at that point. All of my brain power was being used to memorize her face. And I remember that at the very moment I was introduced, my ears were muffled. My brain had turned them off. It was weird. And now I know why I never remember names: my brain isn’t processing the information. It’s working strictly through my eyes.
What else? I seem to only be able to force myself over here once a month at best these days. Life lurches on. The valleys are deeper than normal, the peaks not as high as I’d like them. But that’s how it is sometimes.
At least it’s spring. Something to clutch onto to keep me falling off the cliff, Wile E Coyote-style.
Gosh, I’m just not here much anymore. There doesn’t seem to be much to say these days. But, I did spend my valentine’s day in a fun and unusual way. I did another past life regression with a woman I found through a mutual connection. She mainly focuses on ghost hunting, but she does other new-agey things as well.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember, couple years back, when I took a past life regression class. There’s an interesting parallel here between those visions and the ones I had this time around. Last time I saw myself on a farm I was a boy. Still barefoot but similar situation.
I’ll pause here to say this: I’m not sure I entirely buy the whole “past lives” thing. I’m much more willing to believe in reincarnation than the whole heaven/hell/whatever business that religions peddle, but it very well could be that the subconscious is more amazing and powerful than we give it credit for. Either way, I experienced things. They helped me. And, when I got back to work, I discovered a very eerie coincidence.
Again, like in the previous experiences, I fell to earth barefoot. On a wide grassy knoll that was a bit too much like the scene in The Sound of Music where Maria spins and sings about the hills being alive. Yeah, that’s kind of where I was. In a dress with a long apron. Female this time. I was about 12 years old. I’d run off to be alone for a bit, enjoy the sun on my face, get away from the drudgery.
But, then I had to go back home where my family lived in a greyish-white farm house on a small farm. The scene manifested itself around me slowly. There was the house. Then there was a little boy – about three or four – sitting in the dirt by a puddle getting muddy. He didn’t acknowledge me. He just passively sat there hitting the mud puddle with a stick. Then I could see the white fence and the gate. I knew my father was out with the cows. I knew I was supposed to get back to my chores but I was loathe to. I was bored and hated this life. When prompted for a year, I said “1927” but it didn’t feel accurate. Or we were living well beneath the standards of the day.
I walked over and petted a goat’s head who’d popped up on the other side of the back fence. I needed to get away. Run away. I squatted down, picking up the hem of my dress so it wouldn’t fall in the puddle, to speak to my brother but he wouldn’t respond. I stood up and looked in the window – just a dark hole, no glass, no screen – and saw the back of my mother in shadow. She was washing dishes or baking. Doing somethng with her back turned to me in the kitchen. Suddenly, I decided to leave. I had a small bag of things that I slung across my shoulders. I opened the gate and began to walk down the road to…whatever lay ahead. The vision ended and I rose back up.
Okay. Back down again. Harder to pull the image into view this time but eventually I realized that I had on tall rain boots. Serious yellow galoshes. And a thick yellow raincoat. And a hat. Like fishermen wear. It was pouring and I was standing on the edge of cliff looking down at the rocky edges of the land and ocean. Waiting for a ship. I was a man. About 50 years old. I was waiting for the ship that held the woman I was going to marry. It was an arranged marriage. She’d been promised to me. The ship was supposed to arrive today but the weather was bad and I was concerned that the ship would run aground. It didn’t come and it didn’t come and I was cold and soaked despite the rain gear. I was a fisherman who’d owned a fairly respectable business at one time but now I was down to just one boat. And me. I was scaling back. My name was Bruce. My fiance’s name was Sarah. I wasn’t sure where I lived but I knew it was along the coast of the eastern U.S. or possibly as far north as Nova Scotia. I wasn’t sure.
Eventually I realized it was ridiculous to keep standing there, waiting. The town wasn’t much of a town, just a small grouping of buildings with houses farther out and scattered. The land was rocky and hilly and I had few friends and no neighbors. I walked to the ship chandler’s office – they kept up on ships’ coming and goings because there was no one else to do it – and up the two wooden steps. The bell over the door tinkled as I went in. Sure enough, the ship had been delayed due to the storm. They thought it would arrive the next day. Possibly.
I trudged back home. My house was one large room with a Franklin stove in the center. My dog was asleep on the floor and barely lifted his head to acknowledge me when I came in. I peeled off my rain gear and hung the coat on the hook by the door. I sat by the stove and warmed/dried myself and realized that the house was much too small for two people. That, when Sarah arrived, she’d be very unhappy with the place. That, I should have begun building the additions – at least a bedroom! – long before now. But I hadn’t been able to muster the energy for it. I wanted this wife but wasn’t sure I was cut out for companionship.
When asked for a date, I hesitated and then said, “1682? No. That’s a date of significance but the time I’m in is later, much later than that.” It felt like 200 years after that date. I didn’t know why 1682 popped out at me.
The vision went away.
When I returned to work, I had to research someone who’d recently bought a house in Little Compton, Rhode Island. It’s on the coast and was founded in 1692. Seeing that date made me jump a little in my seat. Coincidence? I have no idea. But, it was quite an interesting one.