Dove serenade

Bougainvillea blossoms litter the yard like the tears of a passing angel. The pool, mid-repair, gapes like a wound. Another one.

Birdsongs I don’t recognize stitch at the margins of sky. I’ve learned that at least some of the songs are produced by a pair of mockingbirds. Irritating, mischievous creatures. My brother despises them and wishes he had a BB gun.

Snapshot: two nights ago, Billy fell asleep during the Lakers game but any attempt to change channels was met with an indignant snort.

Dogs bark from across the canyon.

My back hurts the usual amount. Took Tylenol yesterday. It helped. But even with my hands crabbed with arthritis and my achy sore spine, around here it’s hard not to feel like a locomotive fueled by blessings.

Look at me pop up to get a blanket for brother, lean over using both arms to spread on lap and legs. There I am standing and chopping onions for dinner after kneeling and clipping the rosemary bush. I get to take my own damn shower.

What makes you feel gratitude this Memorial Day weekend? This is a Peet’s coffee household. Oh, yes!

The generosity of others is on full display. I might’ve mentioned that I like chocolate covered almonds. Within three days, the basket on the kitchen counter over-spilled with bags of the confection.

A misty smog smudges the sky again this morning. It has generally cleared later in the day, but sitting under its pewter gloss now, it’s hard to believe the sun will shine. Isn’t that a comment about something?

Silhouetted against the grey, perched on a dead branch: a mourning dove. She regales me with her call. When she flies off, her wings creak.

Time to count 5/29/21

1 — one recovery well underway

2 — two dogs; two wheel chairs; two novels being read; number of pairs of pants I thought I left home but had actually stuck in a drawer

3 — three days in California; three slings; three to tango

24– number of hours til I see First Born

Too many to count: stunning plants in the yard; times I wished I hadn’t let ten years go by between visits.

The tawny dog, Lila, is a Carolina dog (mostly), aka American Dingo aka Dixie Dingo. The breed is believed to have come across the Bering Straight eons ago and is nevertheless viewed by some as the only indigenous dog in America.

The “secret garden” is, for now, inaccessible. I took it upon myself to move the guardian dog over to the side of the house where my brother will be able to see it from his beautiful new bathroom.

Proof of introversion and place

Twenty-five minutes after sitting down in 11D, I tug my mask down to sip hot coffee and say to the man seated next to me: “Just so you know, I’m fully vaccinated.”

He replies, “So am I.”

That’s it. Sum total of our exchange. Perfect!

Behind us two former strangers are going on and on (as extroverts do). Lived on the Cape but used to live in Boulder. Red Rocks. Acoustics. Concerts they’ve been to. Concerts they’re going to. Restaurant recommendations. Weather in Wellfleet. Daughters siblings aspirations.

Gratitude of the moment: thank Christ I’m sitting in 11D and not 12D!

* * *

Once on the ground in California, I get a text from husband. Have I landed in LA yet?

“A man wearing flip flops just skateboarded past me, so yeah.” That was IN the terminal, PS.

There are HEdGES of rosemary in Los Angeles! I clipped one out front of my brother’s and brought in two bouquets. Hard to believe that in Massachusetts we can pay $2.99 for three small sprigs.

As I type my hands are redolent with the oils. A nice way to begin the day.

when rabbit holes are “work”

You may recall that my manuscript consultant suggested an epilogue. How about 1758? That’s the year Eliza and her husband, Charles Pinckney, return to South Carolina after a lengthy stay in England. Charles dies in July. Malaria claimed a lot of lives in colonial America.

Prior research had been pretty laser-focused on the years 1738 to 1744. With many historic tomes, in fact, I just stopped reading at 1745. I barely read Eliza’s letters after her marriage in ’44.

Well that’s not entirely true. I read them two or three times, but I didn’t MINE them and their footnotes for personal events and tone and history.

So I had to ask: what was Charles Town like fourteen years after my original narrative ended? Also, because one character flees to Philly, what was the City of Brotherly Love like in 1758?

Imagine my glee — yes glee! — to learn about an early abolitionist who published the very first unequivocal position against slavery in the western world! His name was Anthony Benezet and he was a Huguenot-turned Quaker. The Quakers adopted the proclamation in Philadelphia in 1758. *

I found a Library of Congress lecture by one of Benezet’s biographers, Maurice Jackson, and listened to it in its entirety (those of you who know me understand how rare that is).

Why isn’t he better known?

His pamphlet or Slave Almanac was later copied in large measure by better known abolitionist John Wesley and relied upon by the likes of Granville Sharp.

I noodled around Ben Franklin’s early career as a printer (he was out of the business by 1758) and his then equivocal stance on slavery — or at least his unwillingness to attach his name to those early anti-slavery pamphlets.

The other thing to know generally was that the French and Indian war was going on. It was the reason why Charles and Eliza Pinckney had returned to South Carolina. They wanted to secure or sell their properties.

Fun fact: the Join or Die flag originally referred to the necessity to cooperate in the fight against France and only later was coopted by the Revolutionaries battling Britain.

* The proclamation was approved at a Quaker Yearly meeting in 1758 but not printed until 1759.

In other news, the wisteria is blooming and I got my hair cut. New glasses ordered. All systems go!

And I’m making a tunic. Ha! I’ll let you know how it goes.

The bliss of running errands

I picked up one cauliflower, rejected it, lifted another. It fit in the palm of my hand, on the cute side of small.

Tomatoes worthy of the name! Radishes to die for.

The serendipitous meal planned. You know the kind — when you see some particularly appealing pile of eggplant or bok choy and design a meal around it? Today it was poblano peppers. I bought three. And marscapone cheese.

But they did not have pansies at the adjacent greenhouse. Damn! It was the whole motivating force behind running the errand. Ever since I got my second shot a month ago, I’ve had pansies in the brain.

That’s okay. I went for deep purple and bright pink petunias, some elephant-eared begonia, pink and white snap dragons. A few more bags of dirt. We are supposed to have glorious weather all week.

For what it’s worth: Needham, Mass farm store: every single shopper and clerk wore a mask. Newton, Mass CVS: every single clerk and shopper wore a mask. I did not wear a mask to walk Finn this morning for the first time in a dog’s age (ha ha) but I did while shopping.