“It’ll start getting cooler”

It’s 60 degrees here. Crickets sing their autumnal songs. Hard not to feel blessed, with zero hurricanes coming at us and zero fires raging nearby. The finches are feeding on the echinacea seed heads near the side door. When I come out, they fly off, startled and pretty.

K went to work today for only the second time since March 13. There were 313 Covid cases in Massachusetts yesterday, so I don’t know? Finn understood the change and stayed up in bed with me.

I am adding batting to the single-layer sections of the global warming quilt. Tricky. Fussy in a way that would be avoided if I were a Point-A-to-Point-B creator. Believe me, sometimes I wish I was.

But just look at that amaranth! It is one of the few glorious results of my seed planting efforts this year. Exactly ONE of the dozens of sunflower seeds I planted survived the rabbits.

The huge squash leaves came from a rogue seed that took root when a piece of compost fell into a yard waste bin and took off! I love how surprises arrive in the garden with a casual regularity that defy their miraculous nature.

Luster, a novel – mini review

A twenty-something gets fired from her job in NYC at around the same time she’s taken up with a much older married man.

Sound like something you’ve read before?

I don’t think so! SPOILERS FOLLOW

Our protagonist, Evie, first of all, is full of sharp and sometimes funny observations — especially about the people around her.

For example, at some point she realizes that the sole allure of an older man is that he’s survived long enough to pay a mortgage and an electric bill over a period of years.

After losing her job, our down-on-her-luck character gets evicted and ends up staying at her boyfriend’s house, arriving there while he is away to the surprise of his wife and then to his shock and dismay.

Huh?

An adopted Black teen-aged daughter plays into what follows.

Can’t say I particularly like or admire Evie, but since when is that required?

When I riffed about Hannah Tennant-Moore’s novel, Wreck and Order, HERE, I talked about how I’d rather read a female writer’s descriptions of sex that I cannot relate to (say, S&M) than be exposed for the umpteenth time to the predictable male fantasy version of sex. Well, that holds here.

When the boyfriend punches Evie, for instance, she asks him to do it again. She snoops around the couple’s house when it’s empty and acts the voyeur to the marriage, at least once to their lovemaking, which she secretly photographs. Evie is both exiled and episodically desired. Further, at times her tenancy, at least for the wife, seems predicated on Evie serving as a stand-in “Black person” for advice about the daughter.

It’s head-wagging, for sure.

But don’t let that stop you from reading this gem. The descriptions of how Evie saves the day with the Black daughter’s hair, alone, makes this story worth the ride. And it came as a surprise to me how fully rendered the wife, Rebecca, was. She eventually became interesting in her own right.

Zadie Smith called the novel, “exacting, hilarious, and deadly.”

Brit Bennett wrote, “darkly funny, hilariously moving … a beautiful big-hearted story about intimacy and art that will astound and wound you.”

Did I mention Evie is a painter? I found the descriptions about her process less than convincing, but it fit well with her trying to get her life in focus and with being an observer to a family.

The last thing I’ll say is (and this might sound like a negative critique and I’m not sure it is): this reads like an MFA novel. Maybe someone else can tell me what I mean by that.

Comfort of cloth and blogs

The fires have pushed me over some internal edge I didn’t know was there. A tough couple of days. This, even as the fires burn 1,000’s of miles away.

It’s cool here. Heating pads, sweaters, slippers, and blankets find their way to the body. I love this time of year.

Inspired by Kamala, I bought some Converse All Stars. My last pair were hot pink. I wore them to a “Firm Picnic” back in the nineties, one of many signs that I didn’t want to belong.

Wednesday: signed up for postcards to Kentucky. Thursday: calls to North Carolina (out of 42 calls — 5 connections and one amazing conversation. Worth it? Hmmm).

But by Friday I felt a whole new level of overwhelm. So distraught I actually couldn’t look at any news.

My brother and his partner, my older son, my niece, K’s brother and his partner and son, all live on the West Coast.

LA, Oakland, and Corvallis.

Grace, Nancy, and Hazel.

Barbara & her entire family, Sherri, Aymee, Dan, Ekin

I found myself wishing it was a week where we only suffered through news about corruption. Election stealing. Punitive prosecutions. The Russians. CDC fact-tampering. Boy oh boy — sickening!

I take refuge in an idiotic and entertaining detective series called, Psyche. Kind of love it, actually. Perfect length. Just enough character development. I laugh out loud several times every episode. Eight seasons are free on Prime.

Editing continues apace and so does the finishing of C’s blanket. The sashing doesn’t line up. My quilting is erratic. Where one might expect rectangles, there are wedges.

But it will be warm. It will hopefully outlast me and give comfort for many years.

“Massachusetts has the highest unemployment rates in the country,” K reading the paper.

Thank you faithful bloggers of the world. Those connections matter. Your posts are another place of refuge. I read daily even if I don’t comment. Thank you!

Dream of care

I dreamt I was handmaiden to trump and tending to him during his bathing ritual. After his shower, I asked if he had enough towels.

What’s THAT about?

Feelings of compassion for the most contemptible and dangerous man on the planet? Feelings nowhere in evidence in the conscious mind. In fact, I am of that group of people who is astonished by how deeply I loathe the man (along with Barr and McConnell).

While frying up tofu for breakfast, I shuddered at the image of him coming out of the shower. Can you imagine? Even just from the neck up would be a horror show.

Meanwhile school is starting in one way or another.

I was heartened by two things during our evening stroll through the school yard and the upper field. One — we saw bats! Lots and lots of bats! I can’t remember the last time I laid eyes on a bat!

And two, some kind and generous souls planted up the raised beds next to the playground. Instead of rectangles of dirt, the kids come back to a lively tangle of green vegetation: tomatoes, kale, cabbage and more.

Lastly, as I noted over on Instagram, K and I were struck by how decrepit the tool shed we had installed years back looked. Time has slipped past while we were looking elsewhere.

Sunrise 6:17

One of the things you can do when you’ve been awake since one and puttering about since three, is watch the sunrise.

Earlier: I bathed in moonlight. It’s a waning gibbous moon, but very bright. There were shadows.

In a show of solidarity, Finn followed me out and after sitting close and nudging my hand for scratches, curled up in my armpit. That’s the kind of moment dogs give you over and over, willingly and without reserve.

I was lying on the grass on my hard plastic bolster. It may or may not do anything corrective for my spine, that bolster, but every time I stretch my length on it, I groan with pleasure.

Back release under the moonlight. That’s about as radical as it gets these days!

Usually when I don’t sleep, I don’t have to be concerned about accomplishing much the following day. Today company is coming for a patio dinner.

I worry about these encounters, a little. I keep reading about people who “did everything right” and found themselves sick with Covid19 anyway. One such tale centered around an outdoor dinner, no other known possible exposure.

On the other hand, a psychologist friend seeded the idea this week that a kind of de-socialization is taking place. We’re forgetting how to interact with one another. So it seems important to do this. To visit and connect.

Earlier (but after moonlight): finished a memoir by Abigail Thomas. I’d already read the one where she talks about how her husband was mowed down on a NYC street and left with a traumatic brain injury. A Three Dog Life. Well worth the read.

What Comes Next and How to Like It features really great stuff about aging, friendship, relationships with kids and grandkids. Memory. Illness. She’s a dog person big time, so there’s that, too.

I recommended this book to a friend who’s writing a memoir in part because of how short and sweet many of Thomas’s chapters are — almost like diary entries, often no more than two paragraphs long. Somehow, it makes the business of constructing a memoir seem more doable.

Have to share with you a great new term picked up on Twitter: DOOM SCROLLING.*

No definition required, right?

I did that before I got out of bed. In case you’re inclined to suggest that I not expose myself to toxic terrifying national news while lying awake in the middle of the night — let me just say, I wasn’t gonna sleep anyway.

*Imani Gandi @AngryBlackLady