Audible Edibles

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Going Trilingual

Pictures of Fourth Avenue, Tucson
This photo of Fourth Avenue is courtesy of TripAdvisor

An almost-perfect afternoon! Karen met me at the Time Market and we walked down 4th Ave., where we got malts at the DQ, popped into the Moon Smoke Shop (at which I discovered a new-and-improved type of E-cigarette that’s also much cheaper than my “Blu” brand), wandered around the residential area east of 4th, and stopped back at the House. Karen also delivered some stuff I had left at her house, most gloriously my favorite leggings. It was a wonderfully serene and relaxing couple of hours.

Q: What kind of philistine walks past the Epic Café, Delectables, and La Indita to get to a place where you eat fake ice cream out of petrochemical-based containers?

A: The type who wonders: What, precisely, is the point of a vegan cookie?

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Oh, big news! Time Market is putting in a fresh-organic-produce department, which completely solves my problem of how to keep “living & raw food” available throughout each month instead of just the first week or ten days.

I’ve been helping Alexis with her English-language practice… or, more accurately, I’ve been increasingly aware of how much she enjoys learning new vocabulary and of how little she really knows. She’s a lot of fun, all the more because her English is so hit-or-miss. She was cooking something on one of the stoves when I walked into the kitchen. I asked, and she told me, there were “vegetables” in the pan, which indeed there were… asparagus, specifically (and, I think, liver). When I said “asparagus,” she checked the package and read out loud, slowly and carefully, “Asparagus Speaks.” Great hilarity was enjoyed by Alexis, me, and Penny, who came in just in time to hear about the chatty edible.

After Alexis and I had conversed for about 10 minutes, I wrote down the “key words” for our little session: lavender, carrots, asparagus, vegetables, corn, peas, beans, and chocolate.**  Alexis loves chocolate. AND I spoke my first sentence in the Russian language to a Russian person: “Krasivaya bluzka” (“I like your shirt”). Do you suppose bluzka is phonetically adapted from “blouse” (analagous to Sp. beisbol)?

I’m reminded of how much I enjoy learning new languages — starting to learn them, in any case. My French and Spanish together probably comprise three-fourths of knowing one language, so it’s almost legitimate to say that if I learned Russian I’d be trilingual. Or maybe I should just call myself multilingual, improve in French and Spanish, make a push in Russian, and not worry about what to call myself. Soupy has always sufficed.

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…Not on the Steppes Any More

Aside from vegetables and liver, Alexis favors shrimp and a type of fish that makes me wonder if there’s a Black Sea equivalent to West Virginia roadkill. Alexis enhances the flavor and aroma of organ meats and shellfish by thawing them — on the table that most of us sit at to eat normal food — for, I’ve gotta say a lunar month. I don’t think that the gentle reminder I contemplate delivering — “Alexis, you’re not on The Steppes any more” — would convey both our deep affection for Alexis and our profound aversion to her dietary and culinary quirks. Surely there are entire species of microbes who think it’s the Rapture.

Meanwhile, once or twice a month Penny takes two buses to a specific Wal-Mart that is the only place in Southern Arizona that carries a particular brand of bacon she favors, and though the aroma of bacon frying is normally quite tantalizing, the combined odors of Wal-Mart’s Select Sacrificial Pork Components and Alexis’s Smelt Putrefaction Surprise, colliding in midair like a couple of supercells over the Alkali Lake Toxic Waste Dump Site, have explosive properties that certainly could be harnessed to aid the U.N. or the Little Sisters of the Poor, in a location far, far away from our octogenarian kitchen, whose exhaust fans are under orders to tactically overheat if Alexis so much as plugs in the can opener….

…and a HAPPY Philistine

At my Dairy Queen (the oldest one in town and only a step up from the early DQ stores where customers stood in outdoor lines at little windows), a medium-size chocolate malt costs $2.45. Needless to say, the ambience (one-car garage) is free. Ambience is not Dairy Queen’s number-one asset, though it doesn’t seem to matter. About nine-tenths of the DQ customers I’ve seen, regardless of menu or amenities, are exhibiting high ELMs (Excitement Level Meter readings) .

Can the Epic Café supply this joy for $2.45? At any price?

Will the wait staff at Delectables blink uncomplainingly when I ask for extra chocolate – enough to turn the beverage dark brown, such that it might almost be mistaken for high-test Hershey’s Syrup or motor oil that’s long overdue for replacement? Will the food preparers at La Indita comply when I describe the desired consistency of my malt, which is as follows: Liquid. I don’t want to have to use my straw as a spear.

At DQ, the personnel don’t argue, they don’t charge extra, and they don’t seek revenge by spitting into the Product. You know this is so because the personnel never leave your sight until the malt is in your hands, which is an ephemeral event, to say the least, since it’s never been verified that the malt and my hands make actual contact.

to be continued…

Pictures of Fourth Avenue, Tucson
This photo of Fourth Avenue is courtesy of TripAdvisor

** “One of these thing is not like the others; one [or two, depending] of these things just doesn’t…” etc.

Lizard Morsels

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nasa-wallypacholkaphoto-1999-perseidsmeteorshower-8-11-1999

NASA 1999, Wally Pacholka: Perseids Meteor Shower, August 11, 1999

Leaping Lizards, Soaring Angels

One of the more colorful days at the House – a sojourn back to junior high with echoes of “if you’re HER friend you can’t be MY friend.” I felt like Raggedy Ann in a tug of war between the only two feuding members of the household, who happen to be the two prison alums – T & C…. C popped out of prison 5 years ago straight into the arms of the uber-fundamentalists. T is butch and abrasive, never lets go of a grudge unless she spots a bigger, juicier morsel of food for resentment … runs out of grievances, stirs up a batch on the spot.

Has been pissy with me because, I don’t know, somebody dissed her and I didn’t leap to her defense, brandish a sword, whip out a switchblade… not sure of the protocol in these little family tiffs… not that I would have said or done anything one way or the other, but I’d like to know the vocabulary. Any time there’s tension in the air (rare when T’s here, nonexistent when she’s gone), I just disappear and work on my business-writing handbook, 2nd ed.

Raggedy Ann meets Raggedy Andy for the first time in Johnny Gruelle's 1918 book RAGGEDY ANN STORIES

Raggedy Ann meets Raggedy Andy for the first time in Johnny Gruelle’s 1918 book RAGGEDY ANN STORIES

Wasn’t quick enough today. C sat me down for a heart-to-heart, for my own good. She wants me to understand that T’s distancing herself from me because my truck threw a belt and isn’t currently operable. C genuinely believes she’s protecting me and I need this protection because I’m so “sheltered”… must wake up to T’s evil ways…. T is probably (per C) using my truck to transport drugs and pushers. (T is built like a linebacker; there’s room in the truck for her and a box of Kleenex. She’s used the truck just twice for 10 min. — Walgreen’s trip.) I have much affection for both these women and feel no inclination to guide, coach, steer, or advise. I’ll happily instruct them in meditation, however.

Speaking of ADD/ADHD… Medicare is saying it won’t pay for more than 60 mg. per day of Adderall. Hmm. We’ll have to see….

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At C’s request yesterday I did lend a hand with a writing assignment – her instructor asked her to “beef up” a few paragraphs, and I wrote three or four sentences as samples of what the instructor seems to want (as inferred from the assignment sheet). This morning I asked C if my help had been… helpful.

Here’s what she did: She kind of… SNIFFED. Really?! Sniff at MY sentences, will you, Ms. This-Is-Your-Brain-on-Drugs? I’m not ashamed to say I was MM — Momentarily Miffed. I might even have almost said something like, “Do you know who I AM?”

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Then I went outside to light up my E-cigarette and espied one of the cats in the act of biting the head off a baby lizard. In my startlement I heard the Universe saying, “Mary, you’re not in Kansas any more,” an observation reinforced when I opened the dryer to take out C’s clothes and found Baby Lizard’s slightly larger and much toastier cousin’s carcass among the nicely fluffed towels.

I’m doing C’s laundry because she’s unwell; her brother died last Sunday and the funeral was Thursday in  Missouri. She’s bummed because she couldn’t go; is completely stressed about school, about her brother’s death, about a dying friend for whom she has power of attorney, which at this point is draining her dry. The good news: She’s learning to meditate.

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I went to the doc yesterday. I’m, you know, in the pink, proverbial horse, lab results aglow EXCEPT I’m vitamin D-deficient and taking prescription D including prednisone plus something (short-term). I didn’t think it was possible to have low vitamin-D levels in Arizona. I have a tan on my adenoids, geez!

Hi, Mom

I’m 75 percent sure that certain butterflies who come around now and again represent the whimsical spirits of Mom and Dad… just stopping by. The other night after dark I was sitting out on the back patio thinking about those dear souls and muttering something about butterfly season being over. Even in Arizona the pretty creatures don’t linger all year.

“How are you going to let me know you’re around now that it’s almost winter?” I said softly into the air, rocking a little from side to side to the beat of some song or other at the edges of awareness. Just as I listed right, in the space of sky that would otherwise have been behind a post, I was treated to the spectacle of a big, bright falling star. It almost seemed near enough to touch. Thanks, guys. Drop in any time….

…and may Whoever Is On Duty bless you and yours as the stars take command of the night sky, this and every night….

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Like Noah’s Ark

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Hi, Sis. How are you doing?

OKAY, ENOUGH ABOUT YOU….

I am living with 10 other women in a two-story boarding

Transom or transom light

Transom light (often in U.S., just “transom”)

house built in 1927 for TB patients. This house has it all (sans TB) – a full basement, hardwood floors, high ceilings, big windows (all fairly common in Tucson’s early years but rare since WWII) – even transoms (technically transom lights or fanlights; architecturally speakingtransom is a horizontal crosspiece, often above a door; the transom light is the window above it)! I adore transoms.

LIFE AT THE NO-ROOM-AT-THE INN

I WAS ONLY LOOKING FOR an inexpensive apartment when I stumbled onto this “Program” that seems almost to have been custom-designed for me. I pay $250 a month, period, for which I get not only a very nice room (all utilities, WiFi, other stuff) but also a Mentor. She works with me on “Success Planning,” Financial Education, Financial Capacity-Building, and optional Home-Ownership Planning. I’m required to develop a profitable project and to make regular contributions to a savings account.

Plus I have to keep my room clean.

The cats  (below) don’t live here, though you’d never know it by the way they are fussed over and lavishly fed. They’re feral. Mama is a slut and a baby machine. (See photo caption for update.)

feral cats

Since this photo was taken in mid-September (on our back patio), one baby disappeared. The other four thrived until a dear neighbor rounded them up and took them to a no-kill facility with a good record for placing healthy kittens at a small profit. Now it’s Mama’s turn. We’ll have to pay $45 to have her released to us.

THE ODDBALL

I MOVED IN THREE WEEKS AGO [September 17, 2012] and was comfortable from Day 1.

It would be hard to find a more diverse group. There are two of everything, kind of like on Noah’s Ark: 2 lesbians, 2 African Americans, 2 Mexicans, 2 Native Americans, 2 parolees, and an unpaired Russian. I am the token “None of the Above.”

West University Historic Neighborhood 5-bedroom bungalow

West University Neighborhood 5-bedroom bungalow

For lovers of old architecture, this is the best neighborhood in Tucson – the West University Neighborhood Historic District. I was surprised that the area hadn’t long ago become a collection of university annexes and student apartments. Googling the WUNHD turned up several versions of the neighborhood plan, according to which the neighborhood association moved quickly (and successfully) in the 1970s to prevent U of A expansion, then went on to seek and receive favorable zoning restrictions.

There are a few sorority or fraternity houses, and a few high-end rentals, but for the most part the neighborhood consists of single-family houses in the $300,000-to-$500,000 range.

West University Neighborhood single-family house

West University Neighborhood single-family house

The curious thing is that many of the alleys are actually crisscrossing, semi-hidden, unpaved streets lined with small houses. At first I thought the houses might actually be converted guest houses, but, no, they’re too large and too substantial. They’re not later additions, either… same age as the rest of the neighborhood.

So when we go outside to smoke on the back porch (I with my E-cigarette), we’re looking across the alley at the front porch and front door of a smallish house… which actually sits on the corner of a pair of crisscrossing alleys. Very odd arrangement.

[NOTE: I finally found a bit of info about these secluded little houses; see caption.]

This is one square block. The intersecting street, “N. Bean Ave.” (enhanced in this image), is actually a humble alley. The “alley houses” (circled in red) are single-family dwellings evidently built three to five years earlier (as “servants’ quarters or as rentals for tuberculosis patients or university students”) than the larger houses facing the street. Our house (labeled “A,” built in 1927), was originally a sanatorium.

It’s been too hot to do much walking, but today I had to mail a package so I went as far as the U of A Main Gate, about six blocks east of here. The retail area adjacent to the campus is much cleaner and livelier than it was when I worked a few blocks from here, in the 1990s. There are a Marriott, a post office, several boutiques and specialty shops, and loads of pubs, diners, bar-and-grills, etc., most of which are locally owned, at least as far as I can tell.

That’s all for now. Miss you lots & hope to see you soon….

Our West University Historic Neighborhood house

Dear Family—

EXCELLENT DAY TODAY

Most are,  lately. Have been using E-cigarette pretty much exclusively for 2 months. The research is thin, but most has found E-cigarette safer than smoking — “up to 1,000 times safer” according to one study — an odd statistic…. E-cigs, by the way, don’t stain your teeth.

One does not smoke E-cigarettes, one “vapes” them. Sounds evil, but they come in flavors such as cherry rather than, say, salamander or Type AB Negative. At first it was tempting to “vape” constantly, because you, like, can, plus there are really no side effects… no coughing or nausea, as you’d have if you smoked constantly… but (a) the pleasure wears off, and (b) the cost adds up. Now I’ve found my rhythm and I’m saving $$.

…THIS IS A FUN AND FASCINATING GROUP OF WOMEN. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confide that the phrase “group of women” is a bit misleading. Christy [names herein are being invented on the spot] technically doesn’t qualify, not just because of the deep voice, the height and carriage, and the bristly chin. It’s the crotchial architecture that finally tipped me off.

Some people might consider discretion the better part of valor, but consider discretion boring and unproductive. Catching Christy smoking solo on the patio, I made a cursory apology for being slow-witted, farsighted, and tactless, adding that since our program is called “Women in Transition” I had assumed blah blah and so forth but had only just that day observed that her gender was less straightforward than I had thought, and I asked if she were planning to have surgery. She replied with no embarrassment whatever that the procedure had been scheduled years ago (she’s 52) but that her partner’s death had been a crushing loss both emotionally and financially and she’d been unable to proceed with the operation. I asked and she answered a few more intrusive questions, and we went on to talk about old movies.

I should mention that Christy is adored here. She is soft-spoken, kindhearted, exceedingly bright, a terrific cook, generous, and principled. She spent an afternoon decorating the front hallway and porch with Halloween lights, spider webs, and black widows. She feeds the cats and any hungry-looking humans who wander into the kitchen while she’s cooking.

It would be in poor taste, I suppose, to offer grooming tips. Christy is forever experimenting with makeup, and the effect is kind of funny and kind of sweet, especially in the late afternoon, when 5 o’clock shadow is evident. And maybe, for someone who’s been on the planet for half a century, she’s a mite heavy-handed with her eye shadow. But underneath it all, so to speak, she’s comfortable in her skin.  She’s working toward a degree in graphic design, and she puts money aside regularly toward a down payment on a house. Anatomical technicalities notwithstanding, Christy is more contented than three-fourths of the people I know.

The house next door, east

THESE ARE WOMEN who, for whatever reason, have asked for and received do-overs… are in their 40s or 50s, many working earnestly toward a degree… two (one Russian, one Mexican) are learning English so as to qualify for better jobs… two are trying to establish good employment records after imprisonment for drug-related felonies… one was basically a prisoner for years in an abusive marriage… one is a drama major who lost her scholarship because, at age 52, she had to have hip-replacement surgery…. Everyone has a different story, of course, but all are talented, intelligent, and generous….

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Hi, Sweetie—

FOR MY MEMOIR?

NOT SURE THERE’S ENOUGH DRAMA for memoir material. The women here live from day to day with the hope that most of the drama is behind them. Candace — age 50, energetic, studious, sincerely pious, kind, gregarious — has been here longest, about two years… and just found out she has stage 1 cirrhosis… is already being treated for hepatitis C.

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Candace served 5+ years in prison. It’s been a decade, I’m thinking, since she used alcohol or nonprescription drugs. Her parents aren’t living, but she has a sister she’s close to; her (grown) kids are hellions who were taken from Candace and raised by their dad’s relatives. Candace’s biggest challenges are her math class and her mama-guilt. She doesn’t dwell on the past, though, and hopes the felony conviction won’t stand in the way of her goal (founding and operating a prison ministry).

Difficult to imagine all this in her, at least outwardly, because she looks younger than her years and she has a lot of vitality. There’s another chronically ill resident — Marjorie, a Navajo nearing 60 — who goes to the hospital for dialysis three times a week (the legacy of heavy drinking during her second marriage). She spends a lot of time with her married daughter, pregnant and the mother of a two-year-old cutie pie. Marjorie’s first husband was murdered in a drug fiasco. She’s amazingly cheerful considering horrific episodes in her past and the sheer inconvenience of her day-to-day life….

A couple of the other women were married to extreme macho types and are just rebuilding their self-respect a day at a time. There are two or three residents I don’t know well because they work nights and sleep days. We’re not a formal unit — we have house meetings every two weeks only for the purpose of discussing things like there’s a loose bearing in the clothes dryer. Mutual support is voluntary, situational, as might occur in any group residence.

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Candace and Marjorie know more than average about each person’s “story” … Candace because she’s kind and easy to talk to, Marjorie because she’s nosy. My particular pal (Toni, who reminds me a little of Jake) is another ex-felon. She’s 40 and exudes so much male energy (more, even, than Christy) that I literally forget she’s a woman half the time….

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Later this month I’ll start teaching meditation to all who are interested.  Most will participate because of unanimous affection and respect for our house manager (my mentor, Cassie), who handles her responsibilities more by intuition than by rules and regs. Turns out she is two days older than I am; we had a double birthday celebration here on Saturday, October 20.

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WRITING INTELLIGENCE

The potentially profitable project I’m working on most actively is a revised version of a business-writer’s manual I did several years ago, emphasizing clarity versus jargon in writing and public speaking. Recent research I’ve done indicates that the biggest problem in what I refer to as “communication with a public audience” (any form of public speaking, business writing, journalism, etc.) goes beyond lack of clarity to subtle antagonism, a puerile show of power, with ramifications at every level and in every sector of society. My book addresses writing as a form of personal interaction to which the principles of “social intelligence” (as set forth in Daniel Goleman’s book by that title) should apply.

Of particular concern to me are memes that slide into public consciousness due to the growing incidence of “sweeping generalizations” in journalism, and the increasing disregard for other journalism standards…. More on this when I’ve made some progress….

* * *

AND TO ALL READERS: MAY WHOEVER IS ON DUTY bless you abundantly… even if you have no interest in my eBay offerings… regarding which, might you reconsider?

Bold Endeavor

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ADD-afflicted individual insanely schedules (a) Move, (b) Doctor Appointment I, and (c) Doctor (non-)Appointment II for same day, using fuel-deficient monster pickup truck w/ V8 engine and sweet disposition

It worked… but only because of the kindness of strangers and friends…

Caribbean map -- "No Cuba"The sainted Kara and the strong and brave Eddie did most of the loading Sunday morning, while Rip and I played “Let’s Look Busy,” acting out little surges of activity whenever someone looked our way. The trick here is to seem to be in the middle of whatever you’re doing, even if it’s picking your nose. All your movements, your stance, your attitudes, including the interest and concentration, or lack thereof, reflected on your face… all must be smooth and seamless. It requires a great deal of focus and attention. It would be much easier, in fact, to actually do the work you’re pretending to do. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of this approach in another post.

Made mental note to purchase 1 or more Major Caribbean Islands (exclusive of Cuba) for Kara and J.C., Personal Aircraft Fleet for Eddie, Rip, and family….

Stayed at Eddie’s until Monday morning. Did not sleep — must have overdone the pretend-pomegranate juice at Abby’s T Party.

Drove truck to Dr. Appt. I — abso essential because out of Adderall — then back to Catalina for Dr. (Non-)Appt. II.

Hmmm. $5 seems to have been insufficient gasoline purchase for 32-mile round trip.

At gas station on Golder Ranch, squeezed last driblets out of 2 debit cards: Credit Union, 52 cents; PayPal, 33 cents. Hmmm. Will this get me home? Doubtful….

Great joy and embarrassingly conspicuous gratitude to 3 angels 

Sunbeam space heater, about $18 including shipping — lowest price on eBay

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Waited c. 90 minutes to see doc. She prescribed higher-dose patch, fewer tabs, all good… the Universe’s way of lulling me into complacency, which is to say, messing with me in preparation for disastrous attempt to start and operate truck in which there is no gasoline. Battery sounded good, though.

After much nonproductive arguing with reality, I trudged up the hill to Catalina. Spoke with a few regretful or apathetic strangers before finding Angel from Heaven “Deb” of Deb’s Flowers, who bought for me a gas can, which I then proceeded to fill with gasoline using $$ supplied by Angel from Heaven “Tracy” of Dr. H’s office. Trudged back to truck, only to be foiled by complex, engineering-degree- requiring gas-can apparatus, which was in the fullness of time configured by Angel from Heaven “Troy,” a stranger who had the misfortune of crossing my path while I was cursing at gas can.

With a little under $5 in gasoline, made it into and out of Walgreen’s and on to new home without incident. Cheered by completion of arduous tasks that had loomed large that a.m. after night of no sleep, was not even intimidated by stacks, towers, and seas of boxes, bags, etc., to be unpacked and put away. What is all this shit?!

Through the Ages

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I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU IF YOU ‘GET’ THIS POEM. I DON’T GET IT, AND I’M THE ONE WHO WROTE IT. THE THOUGHT BEHIND IT WAS: I WOKE UP IN A DIFFERENT UNIVERSE. NOT SO STRANGE. IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, MY LIFE HAS CHANGED IN RADICAL WAYS… UNPLEASANT AT FIRST, DESIGNED (I BELIEVE) BY THE UNIVERSE TO WAKE ME UP AND GET ME MOVING. TIME TO WRITE THAT BEST-SELLER, GIRL, YOU’RE CHASING 65.

LIFE, MORE OR LESS LINEAR TO THAT POINT, TOOK A NOSE DIVE — ‘LIKE CHUTES AND LADDERS,’ AS NOTED. ‘THIS IS ALL GOOD,’ IS THE WAY I USUALLY SEE IT. IT’S DIFFICULT, A LOT. I DON’T MIND DIFFICULT, WHEN THERE’S PROGRESS, EVEN IN TINY INCREMENTS. WHEN I WROTE THIS, I WASN’T SEEING ANY PROGRESS. IT WAS JUST A PHASE, THOUGH….

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When Is This, Anyway?

A week or two ago, or in an epoch when the snail was empress
of the eyrie and the highest point a crater’s lip, I woke up in an
unfamiliar universe, and though this sort of cosmic blip is less
astonishing than formerly — when, for example, I was sixty-three
and in a mirror glimpsed my upper body, turning to observe aloud,
“I’m wearing Miss McCluskey’s arms” to my reflection, Miss McCluskey
having been my fourth-grade teacher, much beloved and somewhat
careless of her triceps, whose condition troubles her no longer, if
indeed it ever did, what with her being many years deceased —
the universe in which I lately found myself, in any case,
grotesquely differed from the others I had visited; so little they
appeared to have in common that I doubted my identity until I
tasted the distinctive flavor of my tears.

The math misled me. I’d begun to learn the new arithmetic,
you see, consisting of degrees of difference between myselves on
(a) New-Universe–Arrival Day, and (b) the Day Before, experienced
by Me and Yester-Me, respectively. So if I traveled to a universe
that varied from the former only with regard to slackness in the
arms I wore, the slight divergence earned a modest score,
described by an equation such as

Yester-Me + 18 = Me

or similar… a strictly linear progression, as you see.

But evidently I had landed in a time and place equivalent
to, say, Atlantis — poorly understood and thus considered
“wholly fabulous” and “merely mythical.” In literature, its
designation is the Twisted Plane, and it is where I live
today. As Me, I walk among you, talk with you in customary
ways, except it seems that somebody has put the English
language, words and definitions independently, into a jar
and jumbled them, then dumped them out and paired them
up again, but randomly. A strange man tapped me on the
shoulder, saying, “Here you are,” and handed me a book
so generated, titled Dictionary.

Other oddities: The tides have turned around, though I
suppose it’s logical, now that I know that what to Yester-
Me was Up, today is Down — so much confusion for the
few of us who were around when Red was Brown. The
Children are no longer young. Adults do not age
gracefully; they lurch and stumble, stagnate, have their
eyelids done, and some regain a decade, others more…
then, without warning, one or twenty or a hundred of
them fall, like Chutes and Ladders, don’t you know, except
they might drop months or years and suddenly a man
who, at the age of six, reached four-feet-two in height
and never grew another inch, before your eyes and in
no time at all is twice as tall!

But worst of all, the aging isn’t even chronological!

The seasons have advanced by one, so fall is summer,
winter’s autumn, and the harvest is whenever farmers
have a sec, I guess, of which not only are there less
and fewer (oh! —except in February), it’s (that is,
“the space-time continuum is”) just a mess, and that’s
a fact. It’s lost its head, it has! It stretches and
contracts with no apparent symmetry or set of rules
and regulations… with no method whatsoever.

I got onto a bus this morning, and I felt no small relief
that wheels still go around instead of bouncing up and
down like pogo sticks. My sense of comfort and familiarity
was quickly quashed, however, by a thick, hot, heavy-
handed scent, like rotting oranges laced with animosity.
It felt to me as if I’d merely smiled — that friendly curving
of the facial muscles I’d been doing since my early infancy,
as babies tend to: ONE, when they are given food (It pays
to keep the Breakfast Lady happy, and there’s not a single
thing that pleases her as much as Baby’s sweet face
wreathed in smiles); and, TWO, when there’s a Big Game
on the television, something that the grownups temporarily
and unaccountably are watching with a lively interest.

This is unacceptable [the baby reasons]. Why are they not besotted with me, as they were just thirty seconds earlier? Not sure what this dilemma calls for. Ought I cry? Is this a wailing situation? Must be careful not to overdo that one. Let’s see…. What is the trick I learned the other day, that thing I did, that accidental bit of luck that made me such a hit? Oh, the excitement! What a lot of whooping merrily and laughing happily! For quite a while, I was the Solar System’s Most Amusing Child! And all I did was— Oh, for pity’s sake! What DID they call it when I lifted up the corners of my mouth? The title was… it was the opposite of pout. The thing I did was… Ah, I’ve got it!  Smile!

At any rate, the passengers were not impressed, and I received a hostile
stare… the best I could expect, it seemed. Four scowled; two got sick;
and… Oh, dear me! I think I know what happened: I suppose… at
least, conjecture, though I can’t be certain… nonetheless, I estimate
the odds are twenty-six to
ten that I had gotten
Up and Down
mixed up
again. If not, it
must have been
the king, though I
suspect I’ll get the axe.
Well, what do they expect when designations anchored to the language
by a thousand years of sense and habit are capriciously reversed
without so much as an announcement in the paper? Whether justice
has been served, I’m sure I couldn’t say. I merely gave the
executioner his orders as I was instructed. Mr. Executioner,
said I, up with the weapon; off, thus, with his head. And since
the up that day still meant “above,”
for better or for worse…
the old gray goose
is dead

Slow Motion

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July

IMAGE-SunlightBlurThruPlants

TRENDING: color and scent

Since we arrived last year in June…

…Eddie hasn’t spent much time with us. [Ed. note: The first-person plural “us” might seem  clumsy here, but it satisfies our vanity and reflects our exaggerated sense of our own importance.]

Salvia, S. pratensis, meadow sage

Eddie is busy. Of course he’s busy. At 33, he’s spent the last three years building a business from scratch… during a recession… and it’s growing as quickly and becoming as hardy as the sage and mesquite he with which he decorates the desert.

former Army officer…

It’s staggering, how much Eddie knows and how hard he works… his winning way with clients, his competence and dependability… his love of the natural environment and his commitment to sustaining and protecting it. We can admire him — the gruff and demanding boss — while glimpsing now and then the sweet-natured four-year-old… the brilliant eighteen-year-old… and the respected Army sergeant, who successfully balanced a number of traits that have served him so well: strong, effective, natural leadership ability; wry, unfailing humor; and congeniality.

THESE DAYS, EDDIE IS A LANDSCAPING PROFESSIONAL AND ENTREPRENEUR whose “busy season” seems perpetual. He often works seven days out of seven under the punishing desert sun, in unrelenting heat… dedicating his rare days off to his wife and young children. This is, of course, as it ought to be. Our efforts to convey certain vibes as the four of them leave for an outing — e.g., our excruciating craving for cherry-vanilla frozen yogurt, size XXXXL — are less effective than we would prefer.

the lavender-scented granny in an apron

We adore the children-in-residence and, when we moved in to the nearby trailer fourteen months ago, we immediately sought out a niche to slip into… a visible, comforting, but unobtrusive role, such as that of (a) granny-about-the-house type, (b) clad in our uniform, one of a quaint assortment of old-fashioned floral bib aprons, (c) honored to be of service in any of a number of ways, such as baking honey-lemon bars, babysitting on Friday nights, and sweeping the stoop several times a day for the purpose of accomplishing cleanliness of stoop and strength of shoulders and torso. Though we are able to housekeep quickly and creatively, we are habitually slow out of the gate, waking each morning all but immobilized by a spine consisting pretty much of twigs and string, while Terry is frighteningly scheduled and organized. By the time I can manage a heartfelt offer to assist, Terry’s efficiency has carried her two to three hours forward. Settling into a rhythm of task-sharing and -coordination has proven futile.

A FARMER’S WIFE SWEEPING, Jean François Millet (1867)

When your peace is threatened or disturbed in any way say to yourself, ‘I do not know what anything, including this, means. And so I do not know how to respond to it. And I will not use my own past learning as the light to guide me now.’ When the light comes and you have said, ‘God’s Will is mine,’ you will see such beauty that you will know it is not of you.”

the incredible dawn
…the incredible dawn

Just when we had begun to relax, soon after Christmas, we learned that our visit was to be shorter than we had supposed. We would need to make other arrangements in keeping with our comparative obscurity and indigence… or to attempt a bolder, less straightforward stratagem: (a) choosing a clever, enigmatic alias (Pretty-Boy Floyd? Jeanne d’Arc?)…

Pretty Boy Floyd (top), Joan of Arc (above)

and (b) checking in at the nearby Miraval spa-resort. Unfortunately, neither Mr. Floyd nor Ms. d’Arc possessed credit cards. Their only credentials, as it happened, consisted of warrants for their arrest.

“Misdirected ~ To follow one’s own bliss is to be guided by the Divine Within, the true and reliable polestar… whereas to anticipate another’s needs and delights and by them to be guided creates a cosmic traffic jam that frustrates progress toward everyone’s destination.

…to be continued

High Plains Traveler

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Pal: Remodel Montage

Concepts for Pal’s Rehab

I AM EAGER TO BE ON THE ROAD.I long to put the finishing touches on the repaired and refurbished Pal… to turn the key and hear his motor purr…. All this not just because I yearn to travel or because I can’t wait to start showing off… but more and mostly because there is a too-serious 17-year-old girl in Tyler, Texas, who needs to learn from me that it’s not only acceptable but essential to love oneself first instead of practicing a painful and unnatural self-abnegation so extreme that the very wanting of anything is censored before it comes fully into consciousness.

yellow pants for sale on ebay

Pale yellow linen-weave cotton pants, NEW, today only $13 including shipping

And because there are men in Kansas and women in Kentucky and adolescents in West Virginia whose lives will become sweeter and more cherished almost instantaneously when I tell them in poetry and when I sing to them about Following Their Bliss, which leads unerringly to (a) the joyous exercise of their talents, and (b) the generous expression of charity, service, and benevolence.

This isn’t playing God. It’s just doing the next lovely thing that presents itself. One of the lovely things in progress for me right now is eBay-ing, which serves the dual purpose of getting my goods into circulation and raising funds for the rehabilitation of Pal. Body

J Jill size M 100% linen tunic, offbeat asymmetrical design, today only on eBay $14 including shipping

J Jill size M 100% linen tunic, offbeat asymmetrical design, today only on eBay $14 including shipping

oxidation and crumpled camper (right front section) notwithstanding, Pal is a diamond in the rough whose time has almost come.

Surprisingly, it required a small push of courage for me to introduce myself on Doreen Virtue’s Official Fan Page and to request kind thoughts and moral support. It ought to have been easy, inasmuch as the angels probably guided me to go to the page and make the request. Whatever the case, I am exceedingly grateful to Dianne Haas for her response and to Doreen Virtue for creating and nurturing her Facebook community.

Pal's Interior: BEFORE

Pal’s Interior: BEFORE

(You can see all of Pal’s “Before” images in the Facebook Annagrammatica Pal photo gallery.)

The mystical grace of kind thoughts and warm wishes is meat and drink right now for me, Pal, and Annagrammatica on the Road. From my heart, I send you love as well… and may Whoever Is On Duty bless you and your endeavors. —Mary