Strange How the Night Moves

Summer has arrived.

Seriously, that's a lot of food.

My garden is producing herbs and vegetables and herbs and vegetables. Abbondanza!

A week ago and a half ago, there was a commotion in my office and a co-worker walked toward my desk with tears in her eyes. I’ve seen this before, but I mumbled, “Why are you crying?” She delivered news and I stood at my desk for a long time, until I sat down and stayed there. If you’ve worked in an office for any length of time, you’ve participated in a scene like this. In this office, some of my co-workers have worked together for thirty and forty years; I’ve been in this department for twenty-odd years. My friend Anne, with whom I’d had a rollicking lunch a week earlier, died unexpectedly. Anne, who appeared on PIC as Mary, often stopped me in my tracks with hilarious and sensible chatter, and unusual requests. I am sorry now I didn’t write down more of our wild conversations because she was truly an original.

Dude, large pepper, standard size kale.

Vegetables: possibly actual size, depending upon what you’re viewing this on.

This morning, Anne was on my mind when I was up in the attic. In the middle of cleaning cat boxes, I looked up and found the glittery hula hoop Anne gave me following my first hip surgery. I’ve always been terrible with hula hoops, so when Anne turned up with one before my stitches dissolved and said, “Practice,” I almost died laughing.

Years ago, before I really knew her, she asked if her daughter could join me to watch me jarring tomatoes or sauce, I don’t remember which. I lost track of time and forgot. When we next saw each other, she gave me a stern talking-to about agreeing to do something and not following through. After that, I was always careful with specifics. If I was buying Girl Scout cookies from Anne’s daughter, I delivered money on time. If we were having lunch, I was ready at noon. If we were walking through my garden and talking about plants with her daughter for a school project, I was prepared. Because Anne expected me to commit to whatever we were doing with thoughtfulness and equal enthusiasm.

In recent years, her intermittent health problems may have complicated her life, but Anne laughed about them. I sometimes found myself staring at a plate of food while Anne described some awful incident while Anne laughed and laughed. With an inch of distance from whatever annoyed or upset her, Anne made jokes and I howled.

I don’t know exactly what happened, but years ago, Anne decided we would be friends. As an IT professional, she frequently walked through my office, and we worked at making each other laugh, but one day, it was apparent to me she’d decided we’d be real friends. We got up from my cubicle, barged into my supervisor Gianna’s office and started riffing. Gianna was speechless for some time, then blurted, “What is this, a comedy show?” Encouraged, Anne and I fired off one-liners until Gianna threw us out, and she was laughing, too. I will never know why Anne decided we would be friends, but I’m grateful she did.

I will miss her very much.

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Only Thing To Guide Them

Next week, Poor Impulse Control will turn a dazzling 14 years old. It’s leggy and growing like a weed, but not getting braces or babysitting for pin money. I draw the line at it dating until it’s older, but who am I to get in the way of young love?

Seriously, I see you.

I see you!

I’ve been working on the garden every few days, and it’s hard to see progress that way. The raised bed I’ve been adding sticks to now has a layer of composted manure over it, high, low and in between. Though that makes it sound deep, it’s not. I had three bags of composted manure and I tried to evenly distribute the crumbly manure over the surface I plan to plant. Picture a middle-aged Jersey chick in an orange neoprene jacket, perfect lipstick and violet gardening gloves throwing fistfuls of aged poop at a stick wall. Yeah, I did that in full view of all my neighbors, aware that some of them may have telephoto lenses.

branches

I got sticks. That’s all there is.

A few days ago, I noticed a neighbor had cut down some broken branches and zip-tied them. After work on Saturday, I grabbed my little red wagon, walked around the corner and rang the bell. An Asian man answered the door. They’re neighbors, I know the family doesn’t speak a lot of English. Suddenly flustered, I asked if those branches were extra.

Extra? Really, Tata?

Staring at me and smiling as one does at crazy people, he said yes, the branches were extra. I told him his garden was always beautiful, then I stuffed two bundles of branches into the wagon and carried the third the five miles or 150 yards back to my yard, where I started stuffing smaller branches into gaps in the berm. Eventually, my back convinced me to cut that shit out, but I still have work to do to plug gaps.

You have no idea what I’m talking about.

That’s okay.

What I’m saying is that for the last three weeks, I’ve been taking such small steps toward re-working the garden bed that on any given day I had almost nothing to say about it besides, “Where do I buy a buttload of organic potting soil?” But little by little, I’m getting ready to plant.

Today also marked the first day this year it was warm enough for me to bicycle to work. Spring is here.

How’s your lipstick?

Birds And Snakes, An Aeroplane

Slate is now inviting word nerds like you and me to diagram the Donald’s endless “sentences.”Stop laughing! That is not a sentence, it is the sound of a million primary school teachers crying in frustration.

Oooh! Mossy!

Someone else’s driveway can seem ancient, broken and glamorous. However, this is just a shady spot on a damp street.

Here at Poor Impulse Control, we have a new motto: Words. They’re not for everyone!

He Turns Down the Street

Cute little murder monster

Baby trash panda looks totally adorable when not lunging for me.

The raccoons have been gently evicted from the eaves of our house and relocated to a more rural locale. We hope for the best for them, but at least one did not have the best survival instincts. Fingers crossed, they live long, happy lives, full of delightful and mysterious leftovers. We hope so, but they couldn’t stay here. Pete found one of the babies inside the chicken run, nibbling chicken food, near very alarmed chickens, so that had to be the end of that.

 

I have one more week of American Sign Language class. Earlier this evening, I suddenly realized I’d acquired enough of the basics to tell a story. As you know, stories are my thing; being able to tell a story is kind of hip, kind of cool, kind of Charlie. Tomorrow, I’m going to tell a story in class, which would be much like tearing off my Foster Grants to reveal my superhero identity, but since I am a middle-aged person, I have zero doubt my young classmates will notice a bird, a plane, Superman.

 

Or Take Me For A Ride

park place 1

I think about writing. I do. Every day, all the time, I think about writing because I am a writer. It is one of the basic things I know about me, like that I am left-handed and that no one will see my natural hair color without a court order. I’d also need another six hours every day to be all the other things I know about me.

park place 2

Pete is thinking about bread. We get up in the dark every day now and get on our bicycles before the mornings lose their blueness. It is interesting for him to contemplate breads he will later bake while we dodge drivers oblivious and homicidal. Tomorrow: miniature flatbreads, but we could use a better bike path.

park place 3

Several of my annual projects are close to completion; I may have mentioned it. Perhaps I didn’t, but thought I was boring you senseless about project x, project y, project z and group efforts 1, 2 and 3. This happens, sometimes. One summer, I thought I was complaining ad nauseum about a family wedding, but it turned out I had zipped my Love That Red lips. Only one person at my job remembered hearing I’d be celebrating crankily, while everyone else scratched their heads. I’ll take pictures. Also: do not scratch that.

park place 4