Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Afternoon

So, it is a lovely afternoon.  Bright and sunny, but not hot, so I can fully enjoy the beautiful blue-and-gold day and the colorful neighborhood it is lighting up.  

I devoted this day to cleaning my kitchen, finally, since I did not end up doing  a lick of work on it yesterday -- kept falling asleep and then reading and falling asleep again.  So this morning when I sat down with my hot tea and a book, and felt myself drifting off, I overcame my sedentary urges and got up and got busy.  The kitchen is mostly clean, now -- just a few more dishes and maybe a mop to the floor, and it will be somewhere I can welcome guests with a light heart and clear conscience.   (Though when I say "guests"'s mostly for the light heart and the clear conscience.) 

And yes, I did abandon the project for an hour or so to come to the library and use the computer, but don't worry, I fully intend to return to the task as soon as I get back to the house.  It's difficult to steadily wash a great many dishes, especially those involved in pie-baking, (seven pies last week! SEVEN! ) when you don't have a sizable dish drainer to stand them in.  Every ten or twelve dishes, I have to stop and either give them a few minutes to drain (preferred) or else dry them with a dish towel (not preferred -- in fact, disliked).  And it gives me those few minutes to fill the sink with another bunch of berry-stained, or flour-encrusted dishes to soak for a bit before turning to and scrubbing.  And that is also a relief.  Let's me feel busy and efficient instead of lazy and slovenly. 

Also, my back is unusually achey today -- I don't know why, although I feel, with no evidence to bolster my theory, that it is somehow connected to sleeping so much yesterday.  Even if I had been sleeping in a bed, I would be stiff today, but I wasn't, I was drooping in my wing-back chair.  So I am certain to have strained at least my neck muscles, which were forced to hang onto my heavy head as it sagged at perilous angles from my shoulders.
Last night we watched a movie in the yard -- I had requested it from the library, after hearing Linda and Russ talking about a Marlene Dietrich movie that I had been shot at Vista House on the Gorge.  "Golden Earrings" it was called.  A sillier movie may have been made, once upon a time, but I don't remember having seen it!  It was fun, however, -- I had made a cobbler from Grandma Mary's recipe, which both fed my neighbors and used up the small amounts of four kinds of berries  I had in this weeks food box.  Not enough to make anything of any of them, but plenty for a bumbleberry cobbler.  And Russ brought chips and pretzels, as well as drinks, and a good time was had by all.

Apart from that, I need to buy a few groceries today -- I'm out of bread, for one thing -- and then my weekend chores will be accomplished, and I can sit down and watch Big Bang Theory.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Full Circle

Well, it is a peaceful day here in the office -- no one has crossed the threshold since I did, and I've turned the air conditioner way down, since Mickey will not be here today. Her office does not get much movement of air, and it is always too hot for her in here, even when my fingernails are lavender and I'm all goosebumps. So it's nice to know that she won't be coming in, and I can adjust the heating to my specifications.

I also have my cup of hot, hot coffee -- almost too hot to drink, but plenty delicious in the tiny sips I am taking. Strong enough for me to really enjoy -- which is another reason to be glad that no one is here but me. Almost everyone else prefers their coffee weaker than I like it. So I can't indulge myself in good coffee. Creature comforts!

So. This weekend was both very enjoyable, and also
sort of not. Saturday morning I worked, and by the time I got home it was a warm afternoon, although overcast. There was a note under my door from Myrtle, which read, "See me! I have RASPBERRIES!" So I got the raspberries -- freshly picked by Linda from our own bushes! -- from Myrtle, and made them into a pie, which turned out very well -- and I left my door open so that the apartment house was filled with the smell of baking pie -- and then I took it outside with a carton of vanilla ice cream and distributed it amongst my neighbors. One of them was so impressed with it she could not stop exclaiming about how good it was, which made me very happy. So that was a good day.

But then that evening, I got a call from my friend Bradley, who was once my unlamented ex Michael's friend. Michael is due to be released from prison this coming Friday, and Brad called to tell me that Michael had sent him a letter, reminding Brad that back when Michael was first imprisoned, Brad had promised to pick him up when he was released.

Since then, of course, Brad had realized that Michael was a grade-A liar, and had a very unhappy time of trying to relate what he was learning with his memories of their friendship, and all – I felt very bad for him – and had pretty much stopped
accepting Michael's collect calls or sending him cards. But now was feeling that he had made this promise, and had to keep it, and was wanting my opinion. Poor guy.

In spite of how (nearly) entirely I do not care about Michael anymore, and how (almost) completely unconcerned about him I am, it was weirdly upsetting to have Brad telling me what Michael had said, and hearing his imaginary voice in my head. Brad was unhappy, as well, which also made me feel bad.

The upshot of the conversation that he had with Michael, though, was that Michael had changed his mind, and was being picked up by his mother, (his MOTHER!) and would not need Brad. When he called me back to tell me this, Brad was both relieved, and even more unhappy, since he can now tell when Michael is lying -- and I know you're saying, "When his mouth is moving!" -- and although true, there is a certain "I'm-in-control-of-everything" tone of voice that should clue one in immediately. And Brad now recognizes this. Poor guy!

He was also amazed and exclaiming over how rapidly six years had gone by -- which I agree with, it is amazing. But then I comfort myself with the knowledge that Joe is 22, strong and healthy and not on drugs, with a good job, a good girlfriend, a house waiting for him, and a good relationship with me. He will be ALL RIGHT. I command it!

Sunday, I embarrassed myself by taking a watermelon out to the smoking circle, and offering it to them, and having all six of them turn me down. All six! One right after the other. I know I am over-reacting, but I felt very stupid.

So I spent the rest of the afternoon reading in my chair. And went to bed early, where I watched the first Harry Potter, for comfort's sake. And slept very well. And here I am, so that's full circle!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


"I mean we don't really work for the state, but we used to. You know, that's why we are called real state agents."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April Morning

This morning as I drove over the north shoulder of Mount Tabor, I was enjoying the delicate beauty of the early Spring morning -- so much lovelier than a brilliantly lit blue-and-gold day, when all the details disappear in a blurry cloud of yellow.  The sky was a pale shade of grey, the trees were that impossibly bright crisp new-Spring green, and all the grass and flowers versions of it in multiple shades.  The touches of color, lavishly applied here and there -- salmon pink, lemon yellow, ruby red.  And it all seemed more sharply lit because of the reflecting drops of water on everything.  The pavement was wet, the tarmac, the leaves of every tree and bush, the edges of the house roofs -- it was a thing of beauty, although not, alas, a joy forever.  But certainly a joy for me!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Free Weekend!

Well, I have just enjoyed the first weekend with nothing I was required to do for what seems like years.  (Hasn't been years -- we did have a snowed-in weekend -- but it seems like years!)  No class on Saturday, so I did not have to get up early and make a trip to the grocery store to buy bagels and cream cheese and juice and pastries and then out to Beaverton to get the coffee started and the classroom set up before class started at 9:30 am.  And I also did not have to get up early to get started driving the three hours up to Ocean Park, which is what I do on the one weekend a month when I don't do the previously mentioned.  So the main thing is this: I did not have to get up early.

Now of course we know that I cannot sleep late, ever, cannot wallow in luxurious bed til the cows come home, since my caffeine addiction will give me a very nasty headache if I do, but I can sleep about an hour longer than usual.  And so I did.  The alarm went off at its usual time, I turned it off and turned over, and went solidly back to sleep for an hour.  An hour!  

And then I made my coffee and schlepped around the house in my pajamas for a couple hours, not immediately showering and dressing as I usually do, and that was fun as well.  I spent most of the weekend in my pajamas, in fact, only taking a few quick trips to run errands and go to the library.  I pondered merely putting my long coat on over my pajamas, but I am not someone who can carry something like that off with any degree of savoir faire, and would merely have looked like a housewife who had lost all sense of appropriate behavior.  And the library and the grocery store are places I go to at least once a week.  They know me there!  Not like it was a 7-11 across from the motel on my trip across country, or anything. I mean.

I also spent most of the weekend in my chair.  In my pajamas and in my chair, ahh, bliss.  I watched a few movies, and read a few books, and ate a few crackers.  Graham as well as soda.  I even took an actual nap in my bed.  Soundly asleep.  One in the chair, too, just a little naplet.  Often happens when I have been reading for awhile.

I did, however, do the dishes and fold the clean towels and tidy up and make a strawberry-peach upside-down cobbler.  The house smelled glorious as it was baking.  I went and opened my door so my neighbors could all enjoy the smell.  If any of them had turned up looking hungry, then I could have shared!  But none of them did.  They haven't learned yet, but they will.

Monday, March 17, 2014

And I Would Give You Flowers, and My Time, and Me

Do you remember the days when I lived in this apartment before?  The seven years in the nineties that this was my address?  I was dating Keith, and then Dale, and then Lewis.  And my friends were Jill, and Alan, and Kelly, and Cagney, and James, and Jim.  Toward the end of the seven-year-stay, when I had broken up with Keith and had much more time on my hands, I started hanging out in James' apartment downstairs, watching M*A*S*H, and smoking pot and talking with James, and Jim, and Chris Corno, and Big Paul, and Christopher, and Carrie, and Laura.  And Christopher was almost always there, since he liked the company, and the pot-smoking.  And I was fond of him as well, since he was Myrtle-my-landlady's grandson, and so knew more about her than I did, and because he was charming and friendly and like a big puppy-dog in his willingness to please and to be pleased.  And because he talked very frankly about things like pot-smoking, which was always something I wasn't so familiar with, and I liked having his outlook laid open for me.

I remember one night, in James' apartment,  when Chris and I had been seeing a lot of each other -- always in the group that contained at least James and Jim, and usually several others, one of whom was usually sleeping with Christopher -- and James and Jim were in the kitchen.  I was sitting on the couch, watching something, and Christopher came in from the kitchen and threw himself at my feet.  He was mildly intoxicated, and very up.  Clasping my knees in his arms, he poured out a beautiful and poetic picture of what our life would be like if only I would marry him, how happy we would be to wake up together, how happy we would be to go to bed together, how happy our life would be to look up and see each other across the house we would so happily be sharing.  "I would give you flowers,"  he said, "And my time, and me!"

Though amused and flattered, I was also embarrassed, and had to flee, and our interactions were flirtatious from then on, even the time I ran into him on the street after my marriage.  He called out, "It's beautiful Beth!"  and looking up I saw Christopher, and we walked together for about six blocks while he told me what was going on in his life.

And that was the last time I saw him until I moved back into the building, some fifteen years later.  He no longer lives here, but his grandmother still does, and now his mother and brother do, too.  And he did not recognize me, and I walked past him on the stairs without recognizing him, but goodness, I really did when his mother called his name.  He is much better looking now -- his boyish puppy fat is gone, and he has cheekbones and deep set eyes, and the same dark curly hair that he always had.  But he is still the same happy-go-lucky guy who doesn't much care where the money he spends comes from as long as someone has a joint.  I'm guessing his mother doesn't like that very much.

So, yesterday, I was walking home from the T&P, whither I had once again been driven, as the library's w-fi was too feeble to permit me getting online, and it was a lovely, lovely, early Spring day, with bright high sun and robin's-egg sky, and a warm buoyant breeze, and I passed Seth, Christopher's older brother, who does live in the building, crossing the parking lot across the street.  We exchanged hello's as we passed one another.  He looks like his brother, and I always have a moment of confusion when I see him -- Christopher or not? -- and so Christopher was freshly in my mind as I opened the door and went in.  Linda, his mother, was in the hallway.

"Oh, Beth," she said.  "I don't know if you've heard.  My son Christopher died yesterday."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Eye-witness News

Across the street from my morning bus stop, and above the Tavern and Pool that occupies the ground floor, are some apartment windows -- one of which is usually lit, in the mornings when I am there, and never curtained. Since I am looking up at it, I cannot really tell what sort of room it lights -- on the one hand, it is a bay window, and has three sides, so too big to be a kitchen, or even a bedroom, and it is at the front of the building, all of which argue for it being the living room -- but on the other hand, the room seems to have several different types of furniture and articles in it -- so perhaps it is what they call in England a bedsit?  Or one of those kitchens that has no walls dividing it from the rest of the apartment?  Maybe one big room, with a bed out of sight along the back wall, and a kitchenette in the right-hand corner?

In any case, this morning as I sat on the little bench under the roof of the shelter, I was looking up at the yellow rectangle, which had a curtain drawn back in the far left side, condensation along the bottom half of the middle section making the view blurred, and the right hand section being at the wrong angle to see through.  And I saw what looked like either a blurred outline of a man's head, or a shadow on the wall of a man's head.  But I could not tell what on earth the man was doing.  It looked as though he were crying in desperate sobs, with shaking shoulders and bobbing head, on and on.  I looked away for a moment, and then looked back, to see him raise his head and then drop it again and the "sobbing" continue.  

I was both sorry for him, and confused -- it was seven a.m. -- not usually the time to see someone overwhelmed by tears.  Unless this were a very depressed person, or possibly someone with mental difficulties... and then the large cat stopped washing itself and jumped down from the table it had been sitting on.  Its shadow grew and shrank as it moved, until it clearly delineated a cat, and then vanished.