Monday, September 28, 2009

Water Play for Harassed Caregivers

Not one of our better 24 hours. I seem to have caught some sort of cold thing which involves waking up in the night with dizzy spells, stumbling around and finding a decongestant which seems to have done the trick, meanwhile all night long HP was dreaming and shouting and moaning and generally in a state.

He was sound asleep, not in pain, as I found when I went down to check more than once. Even the cats joined in, howling and yelling, dangit. No peace at all in the house, since the monitor transmits all the sound from downstairs, as a safety precaution, since I sleep one floor up.

Then this morning, early, before he woke, I was trying to order up his protective underwear online, and unlike all the previous times, which were easy, they shipped, it arrived, just fine, they now seem to be making it not possible to get items shipped.

No shipping screen appears, though I cleared the site and re entered it three separate times to try again. All they will give is the chance to order online and pick up in person at the nearest branch. I called them and they said, oh, no, we don't ship. Who knows what happened in the meantime.

Sooooo, I made the order, this being vital stuff for a totally incontinent invalid, and figured that while our college student was visiting HP this afternoon, I would nip over and pick up. I knew exactly where this place was. Famous last words.

I spent close to an hour in a very complex shopping center with confused and confusing traffic, where several friends have totalled cars in exactly this situation, totally unable to find the place.

Ended up at the library on the way home in high dudgeon, and the nice friend there explained that it's not actually IN that complex, it's on the outside, up the road nobody ever goes up because usually it only leads to an office building. Which was exactly why I overshot it, since that's the road where our lawyers' building is. AAAArrhrhrhrh. Moreover, she said, it has NO SIGNS on it. Unless you already know the building, there are NO directions to get you to it. I ask you.

And the traffic was awful, many shoppers, this being a holy day for some people, and a day off work for a lot of people, who decided to shop.

So after all that, and feeling totally stupid about the whole thing, I went to the Preserve in my remaining precious free time to regain my composure, as Serena Williams would say. Except that I didn't swear at anyone or threaten them with a tennis racquet or anything. Though I might have felt like it if I'd had one with me.

And half an hour in the lovely breeze, bright but cloudy day, interesting sky with turkey vultures, no small birds, too windy for them, a few interesting leaves to bring home for show and tell, did the job for me.

On the way back to the car I stopped off at the birdfeeding station and noticed their little fountain, one of those that makes a lovely globe of water, you know the kind, intended for birds to drink at.

When the wind was blowing it flung the water around, totally frazzled, like my hair at that moment,

then as it calmed down, the water did too,

and when the wind died away, the quiet orb of water reappeared.

Art imitates life, and influences it, too.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Empress definitely has New Clothes!

Saturday was a confluence of weather too cool and wet for HS to go to the shore, his usual weekend jaunt, and his being able to stay here all afternoon with HP, yay, so I took the chance to go out to the Red White and Blue, my favorite boutique aka thrift store.

This is a particularly good one, since they take donations from some areas where people renew their wardrobe annually, and have the same sort of classic unfashion taste I have. So linen, pure silk, good ramie and cotton, all that kind of thing, are there. I like natural fabrics, more comfortable to wear than synthetics in this humid climate.

I have now realized I am officially a size maybe 8 or so petite, much smaller than I was before the weight loss kicked in earlier this year, from stress mainly. My loss has now stopped and my doctor tells me I'm doing just fine, so no worries there, though I know it's unusual to worry about losing weight, most people having the opposite concern.

Anyway, pausing only to ask HS if there were any items he wanted me to look out for him, since he's a great thrifter and recycler, too, but likes to look good at work, and getting his order for golf shirts with collars, nice colors, nothing written on them, etc., I went off and had a wonderful afternoon browsing.

This store is a great mix of people, Hispanic people particularly men, always searching for shirts and workpants, and kids' clothes, African Americans, usually women, checking out china and glassware, Russians plowing through jeans, it's like an essay in sociology.

And my haul was terrific: a pair of mixed fiber pants, perfect fit, very sleek, Ann Taylor, a Liz Claiborne linen jacket in dark green, lovely cut, a huge pure silk scarf made in Japan, hence the excellent dye work, from Talbots, three nice golf shirt for HS, Banana Republic, and two others I forget who, in brushed cotton.

And change from $25. And the scarf is one of those which works as a tablecloth when you're not wearing it, so I put it on my bedside table, and Fluffy was suitably impressed with this addition to her basket corner.

HS took the picture of me, modeling the new outfit, but if you look closely, you'll see his newborn picture on the night table in the other pictures which I took.

Nice bit of symmetry there again, I thought.

Friday, September 25, 2009

But Wait, There's More!! wacky symmetry

This started out as a book reviewing type of post, and as I was checking to get the titles of my current library selection right, noticed the wacky symmetry, to quote an old flame of mine, of what I'm reading, at least the titles thereof.

The Proust is a wonderful narration, very well done indeed, of the first volume and a bit of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, in English. I read this in French aeons ago at the uni, and more recently in English, but this really is better.

I tend to read far too fast, and you can't do that with Proust. He doubles back on himself, suggests all kinds of new ideas and ways of looking at what he said a while back, triggers all other kinds of ideas in the reader's own mind and experience, and you simply can't plow through to the end.

Well, he didn't either, come to think of it -- it was many volumes later that he came to any sort of beginning again, and I believe he never finished the whole series. This translation is not one of the new ones, it's the old Scott Moncrieff, and it's fine, really.

The rhythm is a big part of why Proust means what he means, as is true of good prose anyway, and SM does a decent job of preserving it. That and a narrator who knows how to read this material, makes a really good experience.

So I figured while I'm carding and spinning and weaving and knitting, at least the parts that don't require much thought, why not revisit some classics at the same time, and the library had this on the new shelf.

But you still have to have some less demanding stuff on hand, and But Wait, There's More is a funny and very skewering take on late night tv commercials, pointing out that they are very finely crafted to manipulate people into responding. And that one of the GOP language crafters (you know, death tax instead of inheritance tax, aroused emotional opposition to it) served his time on late night tv, too! very entertaining view of the industry and the people who run it.

The main guy he starts out with, Ron Popeil, not only hawked his wares on tv, but actually invented them, too. Mainly kitchen items. Other hawkers are selling items they have found and bought elsewhere, and are mainly providing the concept of selling them. But he literally thought up ideas and created the items. Very intriguing shop talk!

But when I realized I had put it down next to the Proust, it seems keenly appropriate to say but wait, after Swann's Way, there's more, and other stuff, too!

And right on cue came the title of the Wodehouse, agreeing that as usual, Jeeves is correct in this supposition! and finally The Whole Five Feet appears. The Wodehouse is your classic late night undemanding funny reading stuff, designed to ward off nightmares, easy material.

But The Whole Five Feet is a different thing entirely: it's the account of a year the writer spent battling both serious ill health, family problems, and a resolve to read the entire five feet on the bookshelf of the Harvard Classics. Actually it comes to a bit more than five feet, but what's a few inches between friends reading half a ton of wordage.

It's a terrific overview of that nineteenth century project, designed by an ex President of Harvard, to bring a liberal arts education to people who had little chance of schooling. His idea was that if you can read a few minutes a day, you can educate yourself at least as well as by getting advanced credentials. He didn't do it for profit, but seemed to be idealistic about bringing general literary and historical education to all the people who had no chance of Harvard.

And Five Feet is an insight into what the classics did to change the reader as he read, and how ancient texts which, he reminds us, were only written by people sitting in a room, not some received revelation, can still illuminate and reflect our own age, however modern we think we are. Well worth the read, I'd say.

It's written in approachable prose -- he doesn't fall prey to thinking he has to write highfalutin language just because he's reading it -- and I'd really recommend this.

So wacky symmetry and all, this is this week's reading and listening.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bug alert!

On the way around the park today I noticed a small dead animal in the grass, maybe a dragonfly of which we have a ton around here, maybe not, maybe a cicada or other cricket type person.

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I thought one of you alert blogistas might be able to identify it for me, so I took portraits from various angles and picked the couple that might be intelligible in here. The wings were beautiful, iridescent, lovely.

No prize for identifying it, other than my grateful thanks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day of Fall Follies

The weather is still warm but the calendar insists it's Fall, so I took pix of various fall activities, including a last shot of the flowerbed in front, which was quickly taken over by little neighbor wanting a picture of himself and balloon, about whom more in a bit.

The Korean soccer league was out in force in the park at the weekend, first big game, I think, complete with spectators and one baby and grandmother.

I didn't want to take the baby full face in case the grandmother might be upset, as I am a stranger, but I needn't have worried, she was thrilled! she was pointing out relatives to the baby as they played soccer, and the baby was quite unimpressed about them, though they were in fact pretty good players.

Hose bibs closed off for the season now, and faucets left open to avoid catastrophes over the winter. This townhouse has a very interesting design, in that the indoor valves that govern the outside faucets are carefully concealed, one under the back of the right hand side of the bathroom basin downstairs, the other in among the various pipes of the hot water heater upstairs, at the back, naturally, daring you to switch off the wrong supply. One good deed old timers do for new inhabitants is to explain all this to them!

Then there's a special tutorial on finding and replacing the TWO filters required for the furnace, again behind the furnace, concealed, to be inserted at a 30 degree, I am not kidding, angle both at once, if your arms are long enough to get around the furnace to do it.

More fun is the conversation with little Ken, the balloon owner up above, half Japanese, half American, whose English is coming along a treat. His parents are both musicians, highly talented folks, and Ken speaks Japanese to his mom, English to his dad, and if his Japanese is as funny as his English, is an endless source of joy.

The other day my neighbors on the other side, with husband at the other end of a cellphone, were attempting to clean the points on the pickup truck battery by pouring on water. Mother and daughter, this is. Father at other end of cellphone call, had omitted to suggest they cool the engine block off first. Result: big bang, and the engine died.

Ken had been sitting on his trike watching this with interest, and after the Big Bang, turned to them and said, you know that was quite funny!

and the other day I went off for my walk, and he nipped out of his house to inform me, thumb and two tiny fingers upraised, I'm three, see. Three, that's me! then on my way back again, he intercepted me and said, ah, you came back! I agreed that I had come back and he went on to observe, well, you just walk round and round then? couldn't deny it, really.

This is why we love this neighborhood!

Evenings here are quiet, since HP is usually asleep for the night by 8, after my working with him a couple of hours on evening care, leaving me a bit tired. I need to wake him at 10 for medication, so I occupy the intervening time myself, with various pursuits.

And since I can't spin all evening, tiring for my old mitts, and my creative juice kind of ebbs for the tapestry, also I would rather do it in daylight, I decided I had better have some knitting going too. So I used some of that harvested golden lambswool I bragged about in here ages ago, to cast on this scarf a couple of days ago.

One of those designs that is actually quite simple, yarnovers and drops and plain knitting, but it's treacherous, because as soon as you think you can do it without thinking, it goes feather and fan, another "easy" pattern. Oh, Easy for Leonardo, to quote Dylan Thomas. Anyway, the color is perfect for fall, so I threw it down on the deck for its portrait to get that rustic atmosphere going.

All the houseplants are indoors now before we get a frost, and as usual amaze me by how much they grew this summer on the deck. The ficus tree is a few inches from the ceiling now. She's about 30 years old and still pretty happy.

And, great stroke of luck: at the dumpster I scored a load of firewood and a box of starters. Someone moving away, and that kind of thing is too expensive to move, also hazardous, I guess. Anyway, it's in storage for me out front now, yay. That and the little supply I keep in the car trunk, to keep it dry, not having a sheltered area for wood supplies.

These are Fall things to do. That and look out soup recipes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Six Degrees of Julia

This afternoon I had the chance to go out for the whole afternoon, and I wasted no time in hotfooting to the movies, first one in years, to see Julie and Julia. Even though it was a lovely sunny day, and seemed wasteful to be indoors, this might be the last chance for a while of a whole afternoon off, so I did it.

Wonderful movie, just lovely. The scenes of restaurants in Paris were familiar to me, and the food they ate -- I worked there at one time, was a student there more than once, knew the city pretty well and the language very well and the food, especially in private homes, the sort Julia wanted to convey, even better. And Julia Child's book I still have from the early edition, inscribed to me way back when by HP, knowing I would love it when I was doing early experimenting with cooking.

I must say I was only a bit put off to find after spending hours creating a Quiche Lorraine from scratch to find that it was very similar to my Mom's ham and egg pie, which she would whip up on washing day when she was too busy to cook a lot...

We used to watch Julia's early French Chef tv program, too, very creaky live tv, and hilarious in parts, especially when she dropped something and dusted it off and served it anyway. Little clips from that show are in the movie, too, where seeing the real Julia showed just how well Meryl Streep acted the part of Julia, in the rest of the movie.

Then the character of the blogger Julie, who works her way for a year through the entire Art of French Cooking, and blogs as she goes about it, well who couldn't identify with a blogger? for better or worse.

And just to put a finishing touch on the whole thing, voila, mesdames et messieurs, in the parking lot of the movie what should I draw up by but: the Culinary Institute of America Van, complete with NY licence plates, very long way from here for a movie. I was particularly tickled about this since Julia's early career was with the infant CIA, the other one, the spy agency!

So practically no degrees of separation at all between me and all of the above. Great afternoon, felt like a vacation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tapestries ancient and modern

I just thought, since I've had tons, well, some, well, a couple, of requests to see what has been happening with my tapestry recently, that I'd show you how it's coming along. Very very slowly, in fact, since I keep having to stop to card and dye and spin yarn for use in the tapestry. The solid colors you see here are commercial yarn, and the variegated ones are mostly my own homespun, about which I'm unbearably conceited, I mean excited.

But, while I was at it, I thought, in the process of propping up the WIP (work in progress) against a white wall, to take a picture, why not show you a couple of things I made years ago, in the thread frame of mind, especially since the two best ones were right there on the same white wall, just waiting to be seen. So, just for a change of pace, here's the little gallery.

My stitches are getting bigger and bigger as my hands and eyes get older! the littlest one is my interpretation of one of the Unicorn tapestries, not from the ones in the Cloisters, but one that's in France, and shows the lady and the unicorn.

Stitched at 38 stitches to the inch on fine gauze, I must have been nuts. Image size is about three inches by five or thereabouts. I did this by observing pictures of the original, but not putting anything on the gauze before doing the work, basically it's freehand.

Then there's another one, this a bit bigger, stitched at 22 to the inch, about 10 x 8 inches, and is another interpretation with a modern shove, of a purse in the Wintherthur collection, dating back to the 18th century.

I loved the flowers and the flow of the design, especially when I got through changing it....

The current tapestry is THREE wpi, i.e. stitches to the inch approximately, showing what a serious leap this was, heh. But I notice that even though the purse was done way back in the early 80s, and the unicorn piece even further back, in the 70s, I still seem to like the tapestry/needlepoint art form.

Very satisfying to use your hands this way. The current piece, about 12 x 15 I think, when finished, is the first of a series of three, which will hang one above the other, using earth and foliage shades, freeform again, since I tried a cartoon, a design first that I drew, then decided it was too fussy for this work, tossed it and went back to deciding as I go.

The other two will be different colors, one hotter, with reds and pinks and ochres, and the last in blues and darks in that family. But I think I will more or less repeat the design with the second and third ones. We'll see how this one turns out first! hope springs eternal...and meanwhile I'm dyeing up a storm to have a collection of yarns ready when I need them.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Biter Bit!

HS, visiting today as usual on Saturday, after I had commented that I never appear in my pix, because I'm always the shooter, never the shot, got my camera and took a couple of candids of me peacefully reading,today, after a successful visit to the dentist, the kind where he tells you he has no work to do, go home, then a trip to the craft store to look but not buy, that yarn not so appealing now that I make my own. Anyway, home again reading Martha Stewart magazine several months old,while Marigold wishes she were big enough to continue shoving until she gets the chair to herself, one of her ambitions in life.

I love to read Martha Stewart. I like to think of someone else doing all that work, and even getting up at the crack of dawn to make sure she does all her plans for the day. I don't plan to do a fraction of the ideas, but I like to read about them. As Jerome K. Jerome said about work, I love it, keep it handy in case I need it, even dust it off and put it back on the shelf for another time...

On cats and space, in earlier times when HP and I slept together upstairs in the big bed, Marigold would settle between us, and more than once when HP was restless in his sleep, dreaming of who knows what, and throwing the blankets about, she would find herself hurled into space, or into my face! which irritated both of us quite a bit. She still sleeps on top of HP, but he is now unable to move at night, which she finds to her liking if not his.

Duncan is more diplomatic, sticking to the area around my ankles at night, causing numb toes, but he's perfectly safe, the heck with me. And Fluffy Sheba the Persian would never deign to sleep on a human, ew, but prefers her own basket, or my felt slippers to lie on.

Wonderful to have a nice ordinary day that doesn't remind you of anything other than other nice ordinary days.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nine Eleven

Two words which changed our lives, this region, as well as the country, this family, my livelihood.

That day many neighbors, friends, clients, died. And many children of friends, kids in their 20s in their first real downtown job, on the 92nd floor of the Towers. Funerals for remains went on for over a year here. Obituaries daily for months and months as remains were found and identified. Widows of the airline heroes live here, one a neighbor.

Our post office was the one attacked by anthrax, our postal workers terribly ill from handling anthrax laden mail, our local mayor going to bat to get the proper antibiotic for the other workers, our mail incinerated in the attempt to clean it, post office closed for two years, our railroad parking lots full of cars whose owners would never return from the city, our neighbors coming home days later, filthy, in rags, barefoot, city clothes unrecognizable, having walked miles out of the city to be eventually ferried home by volunteers, there being no trains nor buses running, our vets going to attend to the rescue dogs on the site, our firefighters all taking off en masse to the city to be available, our EMTs dropping everything and just going to do what they could. Our skies totally empty and silent as the airlines stopped dead.

My business gone overnight, since it depended on corporate travel, and that was gone for many months, and clients died in the attack.

And yet, in all this tragedy and fear I can hardly describe -- if you're within an hour of this kind of devastation, and can actually smell it, I knew what that smell was, told me people had been incinerated, you don't know when the attack is over. We are surrounded by great targets, the chemical industry very big here, major rail lines connecting the big cities. We simply didn't know when we could exhale -- amid this terrible day, good things did come.

Emails from friends all over the world who knew how close I lived to this attack, anxiously wanting news. Blessed nephew D., instant email to check on HS and me. Clients checking from all over the world, too, to ask me if I needed them to come home immediately to free me up in case I had family involved in the attack. Clients calling to say oh dear, we are stranded in Alaska, no way home are you okay?

HP, who was then not in my life at all, ran to the phone when he saw the attack on tv, to call me and stop me from seeing the devastation on the television news without warning -- too late, as it happened, I was on the way to hang an exhibit, had stopped at a client's house, and saw it there -- and that was when we both realized that life was too short not to be together for the rest of it. I got him and HS to my house that evening to eat pizza and be together. And we became a family again after decades of being divorced and apart. Never enemies, but not together.

Several more years before we joined our households, which I did because HP simply became too disabled to run the townhouse alone, but we were together again all the time from 9.11 on.

And I'm proud to say that the art exhibit went on, all the artists in the group show agreeing that dammit, no terrorist was going to stop art from happening.

And the day after the attack a lot of people went out to the Preserve, just to walk and be with nature, and cry and talk to strangers. Amazing time, when total strangers walked up to each other, said would you like a hug? are you okay? and not a word of bitterness or revenge heard anywhere in my world, not a word, just sorrow.

Today, it's blessedly raining and cool, not like that perfect weather when the attack happened. Most years this day is beautiful, clear, sunny, and permanently scarred by that memory, but today is easier to deal with, partly because of the passage of years, partly because the weather is not a reminder.

So my pictures are peaceful, early Fall garden, gentle rain falling.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


The character in today's picture is a local Airedale, who does not like other dogs much, but is a total ham when he sees a camera. I caught him out walking, and even at a distance, he saw me, saw the camera, screeched to a halt, dragging the owner backwards, as you see from the taut leash, and posed! after he saw I'd done something with the camera, he proceeded on his way.

This is so typical of Airedales, the actors of the dog world, always ready to perform, with or without an audience. And I like them because they remind me of a particularly useless piece of general knowledge, with this mnemonic: SUNWACD.

It's: Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharf, AIRE, Calder, Don. The tributaries of the River Ouse in England. I told you it was useless. And it's also an excuse to say mnemonic, a favorite word in itself. There was a reason I learned Greek, to trot out esoteric bits of info like this!

This frivolity is coming to you from a shining clean house, courtesy of the new Team, who showed up bang on time, said good morning, then said, we upstairs now, and I heard the sounds of extreme cleaning going on on all three floors. They even vacuumed the studio, a truly heroic feat. And made short work of all the various other bathrooms, even polished the front of the kitchen cabinets, gosh, I was impressed.

The brand new floor about which I was a bit nervous, they swept, then damp mopped, then POLISHED with cloths on their feet! the man of the team ran out to their van partway through the proceedings to find furniture polish, an item never used in this house! actually there's a practical reason for that: when Andy was still able to walk, he would grasp any piece of furniture to steady himself, and if it was polished, his slippery hands would skid and he'd have a terrible fall. But now that's sadly not an issue.

Anyway, this hiring of cleaners was a good decision I think, such a ton of work. But it was a team of two, which was a good thing. I'd rather have a team, particularly of young strong workers, than a single frail elderly lady, which a lot of cleaners around here are. I'd feel bad having someone older do this heavy work. I'd probably end up feeling I should really help her!

Anyway, it went very well and they will be back in two weeks to do it again, yay.

Last night was the first meeting of the Recorder Society, great fun playing early music and reuniting with friends I haven't seen for months and months, and I haven't forgotten how to play after all. I used my bass, tenor and alto over the course of the evening. HS came over early from work to sit with HP for the evening, and improved the time by replacing a doorknob for me while he was there.

So singing and playing my way out with a rousing chorus of Airedale, Airedale, Airedale, to the tune of Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Suds in Your Eye!

For those readers who have been holding their breaths for my home help of various kinds to kick in: a side note.

The college student scheduled to come and keep HP company a couple of afternoons a week went and came off his skateboard at the skatepark, and is, get this, in a wheelchair for a couple of days!!!!!! irony abounds.

But it's no more sinister than a bad ankle sprain, badge of honor for skateboarders, I guess, and he will be ambulating nicely in a few days. Arrangement is still on, as soon as we get it organized. His mother, a close friend of ours, is ready to kill him, but that's not unusual....

Cleaning team, nice Czech couple, scheduled for Wednesday morning, stopped in the other day to meet, see house (brief look around living room, happy exchange of glances, verdict: this fine, no problem, we see you next week).

So far so good.

And now for what's up in the lit'ry department at the moment.

Anyone who has not met Mary Lasswell, now long departed, but a terrifically nice writer, should do so, if you can get any of her works, some now collectible, a few in libraries. I own Suds in Your Eye, hence my current title in her honor, and it's for reading in bed, lovely funny and calm stuff. I found my copy when I was moving books around, a bonus if you find yourself doing this labor.

Although she's a humorist, doesn't claim to be a Serious Writer Person, she is an excellent stylist without making a big deal out of it, never misses, terrific grasp of language that cuts through and carries a rhythm without the "look Ma I'm writing" which is unfortunately true of the next work I plan to mention...

Anyway, Lasswell's novels are set in the 1940s in the western US, I think California, so there's a social realism behind what's farcically going on in the foreground. There's a war on, blackout curtains required, all rental property commandeered by the military, which accounts for how the gang of three gets together, as you'll see.

It's a kind of fantasy for older women for whom sex was terrific but the hell with it now, and whose idea of fun is to live in a junkyard where appearances don't matter, with a big building you can subdivide using whatever materials are at hand, invite your friends to live there, because there are no rentals anywhere any more at prices they can afford, enjoy a beer with them and excellent cheap food, and grow flowers riotously all over the yard.

Suds does this.

There's a gang of three older women, with no romantic strings, just themselves to look out for. There's the owner of the junkyard, inherited from late husband, along with ancient male worker who lives rent free in a little place out back and fetches and carries and drives the truck.

The owner is no mean handyperson herself, very able to invent building and DIY solutions, and her friends, Mrs. Rasmussen the great Scandinavian cook and home economist (prices quoted for the food remind you strongly that this was the 1940s) who escaped from her bitter daughter who was taking her pension, and the third gang member, a retired music teacher heavily into fortune telling, and sweet but clueless, whose rental is being taken over by the military and she's close to homeless.

At the outset, only the junkyard owner lives there with the Old Timer out back, but she takes in the the other two to join their lots with hers.

Their adventures are fun, ups and downs galore, but they never panic, just figure out how to keep food on the table and be sure and have enough for a cold one, too. And dress in bright colors, and wear cheerful beads.

And one huge bonus, when you look at the line drawing illustrations, is that you realize they're by G. Price, whose hilarious animal cartoons you've seen in the New Yorker probably, notably households jammed with cats. He fits right into the Lasswell ambiance. Must be his early work, I'm guessing.

The other book review is a warning: Return to Sullivan's Island, oh gosh, all the mistakes a writing beginner hopes to avoid are there -- telling and telling, reporting not showing, insisting on a fact without letting us into it to find out why, larding with adjectives, no grasp at all of point of view and how to make it work, oh well, need I go on.

I stuck it out for a little while figuring it was satire until I realized, no, this was straight faced. And it's a best seller. Search me why. Anyway, I don't want to put you off, this is a brazen lie, but I think it's a read at your own risk title. And maybe you'll even like it in which case neener neener to me!

For them as is about to celebrate Labor Day, a day on which we celebrate work by not doing any, happy holiday weekend. And if Monday is a workday as usual for you, oh well, enjoy the previous two days..for us, we're eating Bad Food again, to celebrate the holiday.

Hot dogs, rolls, relish, squeezy mustard, beans, potato chips, all bad stuff, great fun on holidays, never around here other times.

Ciao! or chow, as the case may be.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

That ancient corny joke is by way of asking you, dear blogistas, to keep your fingers, toes and eyes firmly crossed until our home arrangements have actually started up.

Where we are is this: I'm doing the home nursing care, neither of the two agencies, which we are prepared to pay a pretty penny to, having succeeded in finding us a single warm body to come and do it for us -- just as well I was planning to fire them, they may have fired themselves.

That leaves arrangements for getting out of the house for me, and cleaning said house. I now have, at least I think I do, he hasn't come down the street to confirm it, an arrangement with the college son of an old friend of ours, we've known the son since he was a baby, to stay with Andy a couple of times a week for a couple of hours each time. His mom said she will be backup on days he can't get there (if he gets work with an electrical contractor who pays him a lot more than I can!)

I will pay him what a home health aide would get, which is a lot less than the agency charges, of course. So I hope to get that organized, since my friend M. and I have plans to do a bit of art at her house, since neither of us is up for the drawing group we used to go to.

And I have other friends to see. And appointments to make. And a bit of a life to live. Yay.

Next I have the local Russian team coming starting next week, to clean the house. I think every second week will do it. They are very good with the email, except that they don't use the definite article, since I'm guessing it doesn't come up in Russian. They declined to come for an initial meeting, saying, no, we know house, we clean all neighbors' houses, we know what to charge, we will just come and clean you. Not before 10 a.m., yes, got it. Okay, I don't mind having a few decisions taken off my shoulders.

So now only remains, says she Russian style, to get books organized upstairs so they can see how should be and see floor to clean it.

And just to show that the universe is tilting correctly now, here's a list of large and small joys from the last couple of days:

Surprise phone call from a California friend who has been a great support to us both, sending HP cards that appealed hugely to him in the hospital, generally being there for us, interesting woman herself, musician in many instruments, including playing for hospice patients as part of their comforting environment, playing concerts for all kinds of audiences, singing, playing mandolin, guitar, recorder and who knows what else. Anyway, great joy to hear suddenly from her, timing was perfect.

Phone from Comcast Cable, with an APOLOGY, first in the western world, for the lousy service, total confusion when I tried to disconnect from them when we switched to dish, offer to backdate the cutoff to my original request, and name and number of the manager calling in case I have any further trouble with their calling center.

Package in the mail of Koolaid in colors not available in this region, from kind knitting site friend who just thought she'd do this nice thing, unsolicited help.

And lastly, great dumpster find, which I picture here: perfect condition, on casters, left by across the street neighbors who moved out yesterday. The contents are mine - you'll see a drawer full of my handspun yarns if you squint. This thingie, has a name which escapes me, if you can supply it, please do, fits right in with the urgent need for a bit of household organization before the first cleaning visit.

Things are looking up. But only if you keep all crossables crossed. Thank you.

And maybe, just maybe, this little show will creak along the road again!