To Be One Of the Beautiful

Pete and I spent much of the morning in the backyard cleaning out garden containers we will reuse this season. Pete took a pitchfork to the leaf pile and trucked the leaves, now mulch, to a garden bed planted with ornamental trees while I stacked pots and organized the little greenhouse. Later, I planted lettuces, herbs, fennel, pak choi and tomatillos in starter trays. Just before noon, Pete greeted neighbors on the other side of the fence I couldn’t see. They too were enjoying the sunny weather after a long, miserable winter. Okay, they might’ve been a little slap-happy about it.

“It’s late enough and nice enough that we’re having a glass of wine,” blurted Matt, while his wife giggled.
“That’s a GREAT IDEA!” I said.

At 3, we sat down at the picnic table with glasses of wine. In the distance, we could hear the thug kid down the street talking about his car, but the warm sunlight had a tonic effect on us and neither of us felt homicidal. A carpenter bee stopped by for a visit and buzzed away. On the side of the house, forsythias budded and promised to flower soon. Our stray cat friends Tom and Cream crunched kibble under the porch. Every once in a while, a breeze brought us new scents from near and far. The weather forecast for the next few days is gloomy; we sat still in the sun, soaking in as much spring as we could. After our morning of industry, for one afternoon: quiet.

You Spill Up My Back

Tonight, we went to see our lovely niece Lois’s high school performance of Bye Bye Birdie, in which Lois played the ingenue Kim. Before you get nervous: Lois has the high, clear voice her whole family shares and it was a delight to listen to her sing. The plays gender politics utterly blow, but the kids did a great job with the big musical numbers. Two of dozens could dance. Did I mention they sounded great? They sounded great. We left happy.

In the car, Pete said, “Well, that was…wholesome.”
I said, “Next time, we have dinner in a strip club first.”

Of A Cottage On the Shore

Saturday morning, I reached into the dryer and broke a thumbnail below the nail line, which while short of being tragic was long on opportunities to see stars. One good whack and I had my own personal Fourth of July. Peeling off nail polish caused me to sing soprano for the first time in two decades. Washing the dishes stung like a very stingy thing, and this went on until – cross your fingers – this morning, when I shut my thumb into a desk drawer and went all blinky for a different reason. Yes, it’s the little things that make life worth living.

My mind has been elsewhere lately. It’s plain to me that the health insurance debacle will stretch on and on, wounding the vulnerable among us. Our situation will not improve; we will simply change the subject and insist we did, too. Those who should have raised their voices loudest were bought off and kept quiet. If Alan Grayson’s simple, sensible proposal passes, I will eat my houndstooth fedora. Today, I sent back another donation request from the Democratic Party with another blistering You’ve got a lot of nerve asking for money message no one will receive. I need to change the subject, too, or Poor Impulse Control is going to become a smoking hole in the ground on the internets. Or a knitting blog, bless my heart! This weekend, we’re going to set up our seeds, clean up the garden beds and give the composter a once-over. It’s head out of the muck and hands into the dirt for me.

And gloves. And BandAids.

Virtue Slipped Into My Shoe

It’s a dilemma in an envelope: tomatillo seeds.

Two summers ago, one tomatillo plant took over a corner of the yard. True, I didn’t know how to cage and support the ginormous beast, but still. Ginormous. Seriously, every day, the thing seemed closer to demanding its own zip code. Now I have an envelope of tomatillo seeds. More than one plant would almost certainly germinate.

The garden is really small. I could plant two or three in pots and place them so they don’t blot out the sun. Maybe. I could give seedlings away, too. They’re like fruit-producing pets you don’t have to walk.

…and hey: Monkeyfister got chickens.

One Step Beyond

These are my friends Smarty and Ben. They’re rescue greyhounds sharing a domecile with my boss Gianna and her husband, the gent at the other end of the leashes. When Gianna’s family goes on vacation, I sometimes see my friends Smarty and Ben out walking with other humans. Usually I recognize the dogs first. Once Smarty walked up to me in town and mentioned he liked my shoes. I thanked him before I realized I was talking to a dog who would never need shoes, and that was some incredible abstract thinking on his part.

At the Water’s Edge In My Dream

Yesterday, Pete and I took our camera and had a frigging adventure. The man can take a picture that tells a whole story.

Midday, Donaldson Park from the Third Avenue Entrance. The water beyond the trees is the river.

We started at the park, where the park rangers had taped off the roadway. The river regularly floods and overflows into the park, which is why it is a park. The county forgot this and put in some very expensive, years-long renovations. They are about to be junk. People in town talk about the renovations in statements that trail off and nobody knows what to make of it all. Officially, I mean. We know these mistakes make for awesome, dramatic photos and fat, obnoxious geese. A whole herd of folks in rugged raingear turned up to see what they knew they’d see and what they’ll see again: the floodplain, flooded.

The tree stood next to the old farm house around which the tiny town was built. Just out of frame to the left is a destroyed car barely visible under the treetop. Yes, we were driving by.

We drove around town, dodging fallen trees and crunching over branches. This house is about five blocks from where we live under trees just as tall. The roaring wind the night before had made Pete and the cats antsy.

Early afternoon: Easton Avenue in Somerset, which Trout described as “the canoe-thru Wendy’s.” Through the trees, the canal and the river are running at the same height as the road, which I can only remember seeing a few times before.

We had to plot and scheme to get to the grocery store in our hometown, about 2.5 miles away. Fortunately, we rode bikes on the back roads as teenagers, but we had to outwit lost yuppies who moved into town ten years ago. When we got to the fence above Easton Avenue, about a dozen other people were snapping pictures before storming the grocery store, where cashiers loudly exclaimed they thought we were crazy to be out in driving rain, which we weren’t. The surface of the water is smooth.

Late afternoon: Donaldson Park from the Second Avenue entrance. The county has been renovating this park since Hurricane Floyd wrecked it in a way that looked pretty much just like this, except with fewer brand new backstops and soccer goals.

Less than five miles upstream, two towns sit below sea level. They get creamed in serious, fatal ways during and after nor’easters. It’s hard to watch the same drama play out every seven or eight years. We put on boots and take pictures and join in the cosmic joke.

Let the Red Flames Light the Sky

In the future, where we have jetpacks and that 20-20 hindsight, let us not confuse what we wish with what we are doing. An example: last July, bluegal wrote:

A fellow blogger had a fit last night via email, because that blogger heard a rumor that possibly abortions would not be covered under the Public Option. I. Just. Winced. All. The. Way. To. Bed. We don’t HAVE a public option yet. It’s not a sure thing. We have to wait for the insurance companies to fail before single payer is maybe possibly back on the table, but let’s pour a heaping cup of the most divisive issue of the past fifty years into the pot right now, because it’s so very critical.

These are the words of a fake feminist, no matter how she denies it. These are the words of a person prepared to change the subject when other people’s problems disgust her. I’d like to make a joke, but what is there to say when a woman who makes panty jokes kicks people below her on the ladder? I lost my cool.

but let’s pour a heaping cup of the most divisive issue of the past fifty years into the pot right now, because it’s so very critical.

I’m sorry you’re squeamish about this but it is, in fact, very critical. Further, I can’t really tell what point you’re arguing here. Are you saying that we construct a public option, which is already a poor compromise from single-payer, then decide what’s in our compromise, and then give away our reproductive rights?

Because: no. No.

I have three words for her: Bart. Fucking, Stupak, whose coming perfidy was visible for miles. She responded:

Tata I’m saying, particularly with this issue, don’t throw gas on a flame until you know what you’re burning.

We are going to have to work out what’s covered and what isn’t, sure. For instance, I don’t want public option to pay for Arianna’s botox injections.

I’m also not going spend one minute this summer getting into an abortion rights versus free-abortion-on-demand rights argument here. And I don’t think Congress should, either.

But here’s the deal: if Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh get to call Public Option a baby killer option we’re politically done.


I wouldn’t be surprised at all if some cunning insurance lobbyist floated that rumor just to run the public plan off the rails. It just might work.

That explosion you just heard? Yeah, the top of my head blew off. There was no point in trying to show her the future – except what was certain.

O’Reilly’s going to be all over that by dinnertime tonight. You’ve bargained away the repro rights of the people the plan is supposed to cover without a fight.

Game, set, match for the forced birthers.

The health insurance bill will set back repro rights in ways we will spend decades discovering, which makes me so angry I can hardly see straight. What makes it worse is when women like bluegal, who should have been able to see past her Ick Factor problem to observe that strategically when women’s groups didn’t get out in front of this issue, we lost everything. Again. The reason it was completely foreseeable is it happened every year since Roe v. Wade was decided. Bluegal is supposed to be smart – her masthead says as much – so she either knows that or doesn’t care if repro rights survive. The argument she makes is a dead giveaway.

Here we are, in the completely foreseeable future. If you can’t guess what’s going to happen next, maybe you could ask her what she thinks won’t.