Category Archives: In the Company of Cloth

notes from a quilter, collage artist, fabric collector

Looking back and forward

Tomorrow, Salem apartment inspection and key hand over. A finality, there.

The house and garage at this end are stuffed in spite of vigorous give aways and throw outs. But it can all wait ’til I get back.

This windowsill photo was taken roughly one year before my sister died just before the movers came. Who knew how little time she had left.

Aside from an eye hemorrhaged enough to warrant an urgent care visit yesterday, everything continues apace. The crocus are up, Euros obtained, tickets to the Villa Borghesi purchased, and a keyboard for tablet ordered (my old lap top is heavy!)

Also: filled the freezer with chicken pot pies, single serve pizzas, and meatballs. Otherwise, in my absence K might subsist on rice cakes and peanut butter (funny. Not funny).

It looks like I’ll be needing a raincoat in Italy and guess what? I DON’T CARE.

Count me please

Off I go. To one of 325 protests. Read a great Rebecca Solnit article this week entitled, “When the Hero is the Problem.” She says, “Our largest problems won’t be solved by heroes. They’ll be solved, if they are, by movements, coalitions, civil society.

Apt words after all this waiting for the sainted Mueller. There are no heroes. There is only us.

It was windy. A little cold. The coordinator read Adam Schiff’s remarks from last week and we all chanted “it’s not okay,” like a Greek chorus.

The new ordinary

I felt more space in my chest. Time had an elasticity to it that was a little liberating. Relaxed choices being made. No minutes metered by aggrieved worry while hustling at 80 up 128.

Handsome dog walker took Finn. I got to spend those hours on myself.

Went into the town center and sat and wrote for a while, as people do. Listened to other peoples’ conversations. Watched with amusement as a man in a full length coat swaggered out the door and flung up his hood while crossing the street. A modern Gandalf. Listened with dismay as a young female scientist pumped a senior male scientist for advice about all manner of things, including work/life balance. It was all I could do not to lean over and say, “Who else are you consulting?”

Then off to City Hall to renew dog license. Then down Beacon Street to return dishes to a friend who made us salmon with a maple glaze a couple of weeks ago.

What? It’s not yet noon?

I had time to call to my mother’s younger sister — the aunt people always say I look like. It had been years since we’d spoken, I don’t know why. The call had time to meander. Helpful things revealed. Surprising. Not surprising.

Then it’s still Finn-away time so I tend to the perennial beds, the sun warming my back.

Came in. Almost finished a book called “The Ravenmaster,” enjoying the antics of those wickedly smart birds. It’s the book my sister gave C for Christmas, so I’m staying with that, but out of curiosity more than grief, though a little grief, too.

Still early. Quilting. Laundry. Time feels like a friend. My ribs expand. Finished prime’s so-so thriller, Absentia. Dinner would be good, so I heat leftovers. Ice cream. Man!

It’s not that I don’t miss her — I do — but all those binding constraints? No and no.

A most ordinary, extraordinary Tuesday.

Spring temps at last

The clouds slid slowly to the west. Blackbirds darted from treetop to treetop while fat jays swooped down onto sodden, yellow lawns. I wore gloves but it was in the 40’s. Finally! We passed the husky — Sasha? — who stares (and then stares some more). Finn did just fine. “See the doggie?” Treat. Treat. “See the doggie?” Treat. Move on.

I listened with one earbud to a Pod Save America episode entitled “Peak Stupid.” You can guess what it was about. I might be all out of outrage for the moment.

Once home, I lifted myself out of the chair to check caller ID. The ACLU again — for what? — the fiftieth time in a month? Instead of annoyance, there was a twinge of recognition that it will never again be my sister calling. My intrusive, demanding, unreasonable sister.

Maybe it’s time, at last, to ditch the landline. Do any of you still have one?

Today, a charity comes to Saint Peter Street in Salem to look at my sister’s furniture. I hope they take a piece or two.

Now, at least, I am waking at my more usual time of 6:30. Since March 13, I’ve been waking at the approximate time of my sister’s death: 5:30. Lying awake in the dark.

Is she “gone”? How does one gauge these things? There hasn’t really been a moment when I felt her spirit near or when I felt a notably fresh absence.

Does that make me dense, somehow ill equipped to feel these things? Or should I take my sister at her word?

Not that long ago, I might have jokingly asserted that I hoped she wasn’t going to be a pain in the ass from the other side. She retorted, “Shit! I’ll have better things to do than haunt you!”

She could be funny. So could I.

Sunday pix and ashes

We picked up my sister’s ashes today. I was surprised at how heavy they were. They’re in a plain box for now, under a glass star and a collection of her crystals.

After three consecutive days at the apartment and an afternoon at the shelter to surrender Noreen’s cat, tomorrow will be a day for other things.

I’m reading the newest James Lee Burke, an author my sister turned me onto, so in a minor way it feels like connection.

At her apartment, I keep finding little papers here and there that seem to be messages.

The dolphin card found under her tools and a decades-old teaching notebook found open to words she might’ve said to me last month, “Take note of your judgmental qualities — please assess and evaluate.”

If you don’t hear from me for a while, it may be because my blog has used up its allotted space, whatever that means.

Sturdy bones and spring

Notes from a walk with the dog

Today my body claims her bones. I am tired and sturdy. Bones and I share purpose. The pavement doesn’t defy me. Nor the dog. High in the upper reaches of a willow, a dove coos a greeting, not to me but to spring so newly arrived. Do you see her there, next to the clouds?

Think of all the other kinds of tired! There’s fragile tired as after a haunted night without sleep and wired tired, often associated with a deadline too long deferred.

There’s marathon tired, the through and through physical exhaustion that feels laudatory and comes with a permission slip reading: REST.

There’s dutiful tired, arising when the body ought to be firing on all cylinders but isn’t because drudgery and resentment make their nasty claims.

Mourning is its own kind of tired, one that comes in waves with rhythms all its own.

There’s 4:00 tired, requiring no cause whatsoever and almost always attended by an overwhelming need to nap.

There’s the hand-wringing tired of anxious grievance. Formerly rare, now nearly constant, this kind of tired jangles with us through our days as we watch the news, listen to the unhinged tirades, or merely read about them because we can’t abide the sound of his voice. As we scroll through twitter and go to our trusted online news sources, this tired has us reading current indictments in full and praying for more.

There’s the tired of despair. This type of weariness is dangerous, bearing as it sometimes does an irresistible and irrevocable mandate. Nobody who wants to live should heed that mandate.

There’s the tired of age that comes when you bend to wipe the floor as you’ve done with ease forever and upon rising, your hand grips the counter. Maybe there’s a tiny groan.

Sturdy tired is nearly indistinguishable from sturdy energy. It offers a determined walk, a pain-free pivot, a place on a warm bench where you just know hope visits.

Hope visits. Spring bears glad tidings in its bird song, bulb blades, warmed pavement, wispy clouds — and it does so every god-damned year. How is such constancy possible in a world full of damning variables?

Without thinking too hard about variables shaping clouds and rain, I’ll take this magenta scarf, formerly my sister’s, and walk back out into a morning brushed with promise.