First Monday in August

rocks-deemallonIt was very hot here today. Fortunately, there’s been a temporary ‘fix’ to the van’s AC. Better yet, the horrible traffic that has plagued Route 128 between here and Salem all summer took a break today. Wahoo! Made it home in 50 minutes instead of the 1.5 hours that it’s taken the last four trips.

My sister and I went around North Salem to look at some of the low-income housing units that she is on the wait-list for. Before that, we sorted through some piles of things. Cleared off a few surfaces. I showed her how to use her Netti pot and took out the garbage and dusted a little. But only a little. If I get going too much, it sets her off. We went to the ‘Dairy Witch’ for soft-serve.

And now, a week with few commitments stretches ahead. AAAAAh. I hope to post about Portsmouth and the Hearts for Charleston Quilt.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from the weekend. It was a clear up, settle back, relax kind of time. Busy — but at my own pace with large swaths of quiet, so time took on an expansive quality.IMG_2244The rabbits devoured one Rose of Sharon transplant; left the other alone. I watered like mad because it’s been so dry and because the son I asked to do so in my absence did not :(

IMG_2252 IMG_2257 IMG_2255Removed a long-useless soaker hose.
IMG_2282Pruned away most of an ailing laurel bush (something I’ve wanted to do for, oh, three years?), and used the old branches to supply support for morning glories.
IMG_2260As the years cycle by, I find that my attitude toward plants change. You know? Same plant. Different attitude. This year, the echinacea strikes me as so sturdy and pretty. And the morning glory is blowing my mind. Besides producing drop-dead beautiful flowers, the strength and delicacy of their climbing tendrils is something to behold. How can something be so strong and so delicate at the same time?!



IMG_2163Off now. It’s “So You Think You Can Dance” night, but before I go, just wanted to follow up on last week and brag about successfully sharpening three pairs of scissors — including these two pair of Ginghers.

When there’s quiet

  Five books in five days. Swimming in bracing but not frigid ocean water.    

   Finding stuff. And noticing that what I pick up now — peach pits, nubbins of softened wood, sticks with mysterious growths – is not what I would have picked up once upon a time.   

 That worn triangular thing is plastic but I love how it has taken on the look of an organic shell or casing. 
And incredibly enough, this is our Finn (second from the right) under the care of a dog whispering marvel who somehow gets our dog to relax around other dogs.  


Eating seafood, reading, hearing the ocean, walking, and visiting Newburyport and Portsmouth, NH. It is so good to be away!      That’s the view from our front balcony. Beach is steps away. In Portsmouth, we visited the recently opened African Burying Ground memorial which I had read about in the Globe. I’ll share more about that when I get back (she said).       

 Finished a memoir (My Father’s Secret War, by Lucinda Franks), now reading a novel (soooo good).   Then, on to some short stories by Octavia Butler. 

Close focus is a privilege

windowsill-mint-deemallonI went to the eye doctor yesterday. The notion of focus, naturally then, is on my mind. But it’s more than that. Even though Sandra Bland was on my mind as I cleared the sink of dishes this morning (about how I think she should be remembered as she is in the animated video clip where she talks about wanting to make a difference, and NOT as she in the lifeless – potentially literally so – ‘mug shot’), a news-avoidance day is in order. Unfortunately, checking twitter before even washing my face means that I know there has been another mass shooting.   Instead, I will inspect my recent Rose of Sharon transplants and see how much damage the rabbits have done. Then, I will take the time to sharpen my scissors. At least two pair.

It will be good use the internet for mechanical instructions, step by step.

dash cam disgust

sunlight-rectangleA day that began with watching 25 minutes of the 52 minutes dash cam video of Sandra Bland’s traffic stop could not be a good day. There is SO MUCH that is awful about it.

Gloria Browne Marshall, Associate Professor at John Jay Criminal College, as heard on this morning’s On Point: “As a constitutional law professor at John Jay College, I talk to my students all the time about knowing their rights, but I also want them to come back from a police interaction alive…” So, no, there is no legal basis for asking Sandra Bland to put out her cigarette, (and, by the way, Browne Marshall didn’t think he’d ask a white man to do so) but, “We have a power dynamic here where he believes he has the right to do that.”

The professor also stated that in the absence of obvious drugs or weapons or violent behavior, the cop did not have the legal right to demand that she get out of the car, though elsewhere today I heard that a police office can both legally demand that someone stay in their car and legally demand that they get out of their car.

Professor Browne addressed power imbalances, intimidation (the taser pointed at eye level), and racial profiling — not at all like the lame talking head on CBS news tonight.

Whether the 52 minutes has been edited is still a matter of controversy, but Ava DuVernay, the director of Selma (who knows a thing or two about editing film), thinks it obvious that it was. Of this possibility, Professor Browne Marshall said: “if this is what we’re allowed to see… it makes me wonder what they were doing to her in that jail cell.”

Here are a couple of my more random thoughts about the video:

  • How ironic that the policeman demands she put her phone down. WHO was she gonna call? WHO was there that could have come to her rescue? Was he worried about being filmed?
  • Did he intentionally move her off camera to cuff her?
  • What did that black female officer think as she was searching Sandra Bland’s car? After Bland’s death, did she look back over the events of that morning and wish she had inserted herself somehow?
  • How VERY weird to listen to the policeman calmly flip through a book (of police terms and protocol?) and talk to the dispatcher about whether he ought to write up Sandra Bland for assault (“I mean, I’m okay, but she did kick me…”) or resisting arrest. It was sick weird.
  • So many people I know and respect and who lead pretty normal lives ‘have a history of depression’ — just saying.

Flow vs neoprene suit

Why sometimes does caregiving feel part of a flow, not effortless exactly but free of the stickiness of resistance, and other times not? Today the thought of going up to Salem and doing whatever it is I’ll do for my sister feels like donning a neoprene suit in sweltering heat with no body of water in sight.

Is there a trick of mind that could turn the latter state into the former? A practice of the heart that could cool the hot refusals?

And then on my (sweltering) walk with Finn look what I find! The ultimate symbol of freedom, even if fallen from a bird that rarely resorts to flight and has all the grace of a velociraptor (I speak, of course, of our neighborhood turkeys).

Here’s the miracle for the day. I return to a message from my sister: if you don’t want to come today, please don’t.  It’s okay!

Tidying, recomposing: inside and out

studio-dolls-deemallonVacuumed the studio today, mostly because it is soooooooooo cool in the basement now and it is so hot and muggy everywhere else. Also, about two weeks ago I garbage-picked a sweet little chest of drawers and I have to make space for it (“bye bye” to two more milk crates! well, not bye bye, they’ll be re-purposed in the garage…)
applique-deemallonWhile cleaning up, I couldn’t resist pawing through one of my scrap boxes and composing a little foreground. I want to try an elephant a la Jude’s cats. Not the Nine Patch cats, but the free-form pieced/applique cats. This composition might be too busy for an elephant (or for anything you say!). We’ll see. It’s meant to be the cloth equivalent of doodling. Not to capture the line of a drawing as both Jude and Grace are talking about, but rather to stitch with the somewhat vacant, relaxed air that can accompany doodling: tacking down, turning edges under, or not. No big deal.
The side yard is getting some attention this summer — in a lazy kind of way. The loss of corner lot hemlocks to disease will expose that side of our house radically in the near term. So I am trying to build up some screening (without spending any money). The Rose of Sharon was an off shoot of an existing tree. I used to think of them as ‘junk trees’ but now love how prolific and fast-growing they are (funny how plants go in and out of our favor, isn’t it?) The sedum were split last summer. Hosta, astilbe, mini-iris came from crowded places elsewhere in the yard. The whole thing is a bit of a challenge for two reasons — one is that my neighbor’s plow guys shove snow here — I’ve lost two shrubs in the last two years on account of that (another reason not to spend money).
currants-deemallonThe other is the black walnut (the big trunk on the right) — some plants don’t take kindly to a toxin produced by its roots. I’ve learned that the hard way and now keep a list on my phone for easy access while at the garden center (oh what did we do before smartphones?!!)

One of these years (not this one) I will make good on the promise of those walnuts and dye fabric with them. Or eat them.