Category Archives: my neighborhood

Best yard, collage, and blood

It’s one of my neighborhood’s most beautiful yards. I love walking past it.

This is a handful of the oak tree growth I mentioned recently. Definitely not gall, but what is it?

Also, one of the PCC collage artists posted another vantage of the leaning-back man which makes more clear that he is, indeed, a man.

Prepping for this week’s Paris Collage Club collages

I’m going to keep an eye out for images that are of my own making.

Lastly, Finn had a twerked nail that he was worrying. I tried to clip it so that it would stop annoying him and it was an utter mistake. He bled everywhere. I ended up putting his bed outside and giving him treats to distract him, while K ran out for that powder that stops bleeding (which we used to have and for some reason didn’t anymore). Naturally, the very act of departing to get the powder made the bleeding stop like magic.

Sitting on the stoop

You know you live in an affluent suburban neighborhood when sitting on the stoop (like now), you hear only tree frogs, cars occasionally passing, and one or two jets going overhead and you declare it HEAVEN.

You know you live in 2022 America, when your battered psyche swings between icy panic, disbelief, and both lazy and full-throttled escapism. Oh, and rage. Did I mention rage? Who knew how important wordle, the spelling bee, crossword and jigsaw puzzles would become to one’s mental health?

This week escapism overlapped with current events in the form of a gripping novel full of political intrigue. Such a page-turner, I devoured 500 pages in two and a half days (see escapism, above).

The very week the Washington Post disclosed that among the stolen papers at Mar-a-Lago was a document revealing the nuclear capabilities of another government, I read the thriller that Hillary Clinton co-authored with Louise Penny.

It’s pretty much ripped from the headlines.

Among the things to love is how the protagonist, a female Secretary of State, makes sweeping critical commentary about the former guy. He was called Eric Dunn, or moron, or corrupt bad actor — you get the idea.

And if you’re a fan of the Three Pines mysteries by Louise Penny (I’m looking at you, Jen), the detour to that Quebec town and the appearance of Chief Inspector Gamache are just added kicks.

I won’t spoil anything here by saying the plot turns on the infiltration of the US government at the highest levels by domestic terrorists, features nuclear bombs, and showcases the sharp wits of a few American politicians.

In other news, yesterday I mailed off two quilts to C. in California. Of my two boys, he’s the bigger gamer, hence the wall-hanging based on a first-person shooter game, Lost Planet. I sent him a vertical landscape as well. For some reason, it’s one of my favorites.

In closing, I’ll share a secret. K is soon making his first international trip in more than two years (he used to be gone about a week a month), and I can’t wait to make pancakes for dinner AT FOUR O’CLOCK!

PS I shouldn’t have said anything! A backyard neighbor is having their house power-washed. All our back windows now closed (and it’s still loud).

PPS Below’s the figure quilt is based on. It’s not the exact magazine ad, couldn’t find that. But you can see outline, weapon, garb, etc.

Dog walk, Siri, and Worms

LANGLEY ROAD

Dogs passed: four. Finn reaction: zero. Numbers of times we crossed the street: twice.

Unidentified growth spotted: one. I found it on an oak sapling. It’s perhaps not good. Something parasitic?

CENTER STREET

We walked in front of two boys for a long block. One looked to be about twelve and wore a wrist cast (skateboarding injury, perhaps?) He told Siri to set a timer for 44 minutes. What? You can do that? Even though I knew about voice commands, it blew my mind. As soon as they split away, I told Siri to set a timer for 44 minutes. It worked. Mind blown again.

[Remedial, I know, but it just goes to show how beneficial it is to be around tweens when it comes to upping your technology skills].

CYPRESS STREET

The first pings of rain fell and we spied another growth we didn’t recognize (below).

K used plant ID app to determine that it’s Jimsonweed or Datura

Oh! I said. The enslaved used Jimsonweed to treat worms. I know this but can’t resist asking Siri to do more tricks and confirm.

Siri: Search Jimsonweed and worms.

It started to rain.

Siri: Search slave medicine worms Jimsonweed.

I didn’t get the confirmation I wanted but learned all kinds of cool stuff; how Jimsonweed has hallucinogenic properties; how there’s a history behind the name, as there is to most things.

http://www.herbalgram.org

JACKSON STREET

The sidewalk was dotted with raindrops as we rounded the block to home.

Once inside, I googled the weed without Siri’s help and found what I was looking for.

https://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=6256&context=utk_graddiss

The chart above is from an article about medicine employed by the enslaved. Vermifuge is an agent that treats parasites.

Also, found this article, excerpt above.

Time for that second cup of coffee. Hope you are enjoying this Monday wherever you are.

Morning routine

Before the dog walk, I write out on the back deck. It’s damp from last night’s rain. When the leaves flutter, moisture drips down like a second rainfall. They seem to have more to say than I do, those drops.

Tiger-saw judders at a neighbor’s back facade where a new porch is in progress. A female vocalist’s plaintive song drifts across the yards. Fifteen degrees to the north, kids erupt out of the school building, dashing to basketball court, hollering. Thud, thud, thud go the balls. Now a man sings — Sam Cooke, I think.

Darling, you-oo send me …

On our walk, Finn and I pass a vibrant arc of purple and magenta petunias before coming upon a dusty crew of masons. They’ve made progress since yesterday. They look hot. Two admire the new front stoop, a third wacks a mallet at the soon-to-be deconstructed side stoop.

In less than a block, a hawk drifts a lazy loop above the rooftops, wings outspread.

A young woman passes us down near the tracks. It takes me a minute to figure out her footwear: black ankle socks in white Croc slides. Her hair shines down her back and I can almost hear her right hip click.

The stretch of sidewalk where I noticed with surprise yesterday that I was feeling no pain, did not offer the same observation today.

Up the hill at the Greek revival place on Cypress, two turkeys walk in circles. They look nonchalant, but I know better. Two females.

Back at the house, I peel off my socks with relief. I’m sweaty. A nearby fan offers cool air and a soothing whir. And now a stone saw. A neighbor is redoing his driveway with pavers.

I did not take any pictures on our walk this morning. But I’ll be back later with more collages. More, you say? Yes.

Mystery Road

A dog walk is a great opportunity to attend to mystery. There is the mystery of nature, of course. Everywhere. The varieties of fungi, the open fresh faces of morning glories, the jewel-like dew hanging off a hosta stalk.

And then there are the other sorts of mystery. For instance, why an apartment building housing between 12 and 18 units never exhibits any signs of life. Never. I walk past it multiple times a week. Study the windows. Examine the balconies. It is sooo dead. There used to be a marmalade cat on the second floor who’d come out to the edge of the balcony and glare down at Finn. But she’s gone.

Then there’s the mystery of nostalgia. How, even after living in this part of Massachusetts for four times longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, the sight of the silver-toned wire clips on the electrical wires still has the power to remind me of childhood.

Driving from Pittsfield or Schenectady as a family, headed to our beloved rental in Rockport on the North Shore, we always knew we were close when we saw these clips. To our young, excited minds, they were seahorses! (there must be other clips more seahorse-like? Kinda spoils my point here).

Always the wonder of spiders, right?

The wonder of some people’s talent with plants.

But also the wonder of preoccupation. How reading a post about Grace’s encounter with a lizard yesterday informed how I saw a dead leaf today. Against all reason, for a flash, my brain told me that the brown form was a lizard. That counts as a mystery.

Always the wonder of money. How much of the world it drives. And, how do other people make such big piles of it? Here are two such simple examples from this morning’s walk.

This project, above, started with tearing down a respectable, well-constructed two family house. So much effort! So many supplies! I’m guessing the new town homes will go on the market for well north of 1.4 million. (That’s how ONE person makes a pile of money).

And then there’s this new grassy sward on Cypress Street formerly occupied by a house. It appears the neighbor and owner of the RV, bought the lot to create space. In other words, that new driveway cost over $600,000. Woosh!

Lastly, there is the wonder of conditioning. I still don’t consider myself a dog person (written about here), but Finn and I have learned a lot together. When I get to about the car, I drop the leash and say, “Go home!” He dashes to the door and turns expectantly for a treat.

I started this practice after he ran away from a dog walker one time. Finn made his way home over a span of about a half mile. I guess, he already knew how to go home, but I wanted to underscore the command.

Before this area turned into Rabbitville, I’d drop the leash back at the corner of the lot, but those little furry hoppers are too tempting. It’s too risky.

Tomorrow: white versus black slips for the Patron Chicken Saint of Delayed Success and a blue silk heart.