Author Archives: deemallon

Home again

The downpours started just as I pulled away from my sister’s apartment in Salem yesterday afternoon. There were times when the wipers couldn’t keep up. Traffic was stop and go much of the way and it took more than an hour and a half to get home. I collapsed on the couch and had popcorn for dinner. Later: an apple and cheese.

Those wipers: not being able to keep up is how most of us feel about the news these days, I think. The thought of attending a candlelight vigil tonight makes me want to crawl under the covers. Somebody will go. Lots of somebodies, I hope. Not me this time.

No matter how many republican condemnations are issued, I don’t expect any real change until after the midterm elections. Let’s just hope those elections aren’t tainted by OUR ADVERSARY, Russia. I’m sure you know for whom the emphasis is intended.

Travel means coming home and I’m lucky enough to have a home I love to return to. My neighbor watered the new plantings well and the recently laid sod continues to hold up.

It took me three days to open my laptop, but I am back now. “Jumping the Broom” and “Moses and Migraines” getting polished today.

6,000+ feet

Because it’s day four and not day one, we are not huffing and puffing (of course, I’m sitting on a lichen covered rock in the shade of a row of pines typing at the moment). Chickadees. Prickly pear. Arrays of grasses. Red rocks. People walking or jogging by. It’s cooler today. We can see the Flat Irons. The blue of the sky is a kind of blessing.

Phrases I love and CO pix

Researching South Carolina and the colonial era has produced some phrases that I just love. “When the bucks are in velvet” is one of them.

If you’ve never read Archibald Rutledge’s memoir, “Home by the River” — consider it. Beautiful prose describing a landscape the author so clearly loved. The place is Hampton Plantation, South Carolina and it’s where Eliza Lucas Pinckney spent her final years (excluding the brief stint in Philly where she went for cancer treatments at the end of her life).

Even from the road and barely visible through the tall grasses, you could see the plush surface of these antlers.

When the bucks are in velvet, saplings need protection, apparently, because of the fervor with which the deer will run their antlers across the small trunks — to the trees’ ruination.

Another phrase came from a book about North Carolina (mentioned on this blog before – links to follow) and describes one of the ways the enslaved supplemented their meager rations: “gigging for sturgeon” (that’s spear fishing, PS).

Well, not far from Denver we wandered into Pro Bass, a store so huge it makes Dicks Sporting Goods look like a 7-11. I saw my first sturgeon there on Saturday. Just at the base of the store’s central staircase, a huge fish tank housed one of these prehistoric-looking fish.

These things can grow to enormous sizes and live a long time (how’s that for precision?)

Here’s a video of an angler catching a seven footer in some tiny creek that looks like it could be along the Carolina coast. I watched half of it and it was a hoot.

This little lake (above) is two blocks from our Airbnb, while Boulder Creek (below) runs through town about three miles from here. In the 90+ temps, it was a very popular place yesterday.

Another hot one

“Are you coming?”

On the curb down the street — of course I grabbed them. Just what I need (not)!

The geometry of picket fences has captured my imagination of late.

I’ve always loved gates. Places of entry and transition.

Finn and I will spend a portion of the day out here — drinking ice water and writing for me, chasing squirrels or occupying wedges of shade for him.

the summer of our discontent

She nods me aboard with a smile, letting me ride the train for free. Is she doing that for all sign-carrying passengers, or was it the “Black Lives Matter” bracelet?

I had given myself permission to stay home. The hurting joints. Pretty bad heat intolerance. I’d sent out various missives and received kind encouragements: ‘stay home,’ ‘don’t overdo’.

I dreamt about getting dressed for the rally all night long — looking everywhere for a white shirt, finding nothing suitable.It was probably a 90 second dream.

Still, I wasn’t gonna go. Headed out with the dog in the oppressive heat. It was only 9:30.

But as I walked with Finn, I kept thinking about families crossing the desert in worse heat or riding in airless trucks in desperate bids to reach our border. Running out of water. Coming with nothing. Facing the unknown. It made me almost ashamed. Or rather, it put my anticipated discomforts in perspective.

I would go. Slowly and briefly. That was my deal.

The train cars are AC’d to walk-in cooler temps and yet, beads of sweat roll down my spine. It’s like having a secret. I whip out my sharpie and make my sign. Light flashes on the white poster board from between the passing trees: CRUELTY IS NOT POLICY.

My phone isn’t fully charged and I forgot my hat.

Behind me, two women speak Russian, I think. Across the way, two Asian men tap and scroll, their necks bent. Soon a tatted millennial sits next to me. She taps and scrolls, too.

Is ‘tatted millennial’ redundant?

Now the train is crowded. Passengers climb on at Beaconsfield, Longwood.

The ‘white hairs’ come on with water bottles, hats, and determined expressions. We are getting practiced at this.

A small headache knocks — pollen? dehydration? — but I avoid the water bottle, having arrived at the age where intake has to be balanced with opportunities for output.

I’m recalling Cory Booker declaring that the Supreme Court nomination should wait until after the conclusion of the Mueller investigation.

What criminal defendant gets to pick his own judge?

If the courts go, only the press and the people remain and look what happened to five journalists in Maryland this week.

FUCK YOU MILO. And Fuck You, Sneering Rude But-I-Deserve-My-Cheeseplate Sarah. Fuck trump and his ‘the press is the enemy of the people’ crap.

And now you know which side of the ‘Civility Argument’ I occupy.

It’s all too much. I hope showing up matters, but it’s hard to know. I put one foot after the other and make my way over to Boston’s City Hall Plaza.

CRUELTY IS NOT POLICY.

My sign this week was inspired by a comedian. On Colbert this week, Jon Stewart said to the camera (as if to trump): “and no matter what you do, it always comes with an extra layer of gleeful cruelty and dickishness.”

The Plaza stretches on and on, filled with people and signs, capped by a blue sky.  I can actually hear the speakers, for a change — Senator Markey, Senator Warren, and Rep. Kennedy (all my elected officials). Someone calls them ‘every day warriors’ and it’s true. I’m so proud of them.

I walk the edge of the crowd in a wide loop — probably passing within yards of any number of people I know, but not seeing them. Then I sit for a while under my umbrella.

Before you know it, I’m done. I don’t make myself wrong about this anymore. Just up and leave, doing the Bimini walk in search of refreshment and a john.

The ‘Bimini walk’ is a term invented by a college friend to describe the kind of slow, deliberate walk one does in intense heat.

One foot in front of the other. No hurry. Find a john, get a smoothie, loving my umbrella and my portable shade.

I enter the cool of the Granary Cemetery in what has become a protest ritual — paying my respects to Frank, John Hancock’s ‘servant’. I don’t know why this feels important, but it does. I got a penny of change with my smoothie. Perfect! I have something to leave as a token of respect.

Once on the street again, I see that the march has begun. Tourists pass in Duck Boats and on Freedom Trail tours, thinking who knows what about the spectacle.

Instead of hoofing it to the train, I decide to slow-walk over and join the stream of people heading to the State House. There is chanting. There are signs held aloft.  A massive and raucous jack hammer on the first block offers its own protest — a violent, super-human shuddering at the ground, capable of breaking up old structures. Demanding to be heard. Because I’m open, the sound passes right through me.

There are five-gallon tub drummers. Synagogue groups. Parents pushing strollers. One-time hippies. The ACLU. Indivisible groups. Student leagues.

 

 

Now we flank the Common and I debate when to peel away. A boombox approaches, though of course it’s a blue tooth speaker and no boombox at all — but it’s big and held on the shoulder just like the roller bladers of the 1980’s.

It’s the Rolling Stones. I decide right then and there that if there’s a revolution, I want to them to be the sound track and after hours of noticing my age, something young and vital arises — something I could almost surrender to. But then, Joni Mitchell comes on and my face crumples.

“You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”.

If I were to kneel and weep, would someone call the paramedics, like they did for that woman undone by the heat, prone on the sidewalk near City Hall Plaza? “We believe it’s a case of terrible sadness,” or “the news did her in, I’m afraid.”

So I head, at last, into the sanctuary of the Common. The shade is a relief, as is the whole parade of humanity: toddlers and their caregivers wading in the Frog Pond, vendors hawking icy drinks, hot dogs, and pretzels, and as usual, that Chinese guy sending haunting melodies aloft from his stringed instrument.


I wade in the four inch water of the Frog Pond and miss my children. Or more precisely, I miss the period of their childhoods. There is splashing and laughter. A boy in a Batman shirt plunges in.

The train ride home is uneventful, but once up and on the leafy street that flanks the tracks, I see my good fortune in sharp relief — in every well-maintained porch railing, in each and every recently painted shutter, and in all the beautifully composed gardens.

Someone lays mulch. A man in a yarmulke and an animated woman talk on the corner.

Heading up the hot, radiant pavement to my car, the Bimini walk slows even more. But I am home in three minutes, where a happy Finn greets me. Per routine, he promptly rounds up the treats I’d scattered and plunks down on a rug to enjoy them, preferring the relaxed atmosphere of my company to anxious separation.

It’s QUIET. Really quiet. Newtonites have gone to their beach houses. It’s summer at last.

And it is, I fear, to paraphrase the bard, going to be: “the summer of our discontent”.

“Hey Hey / Hey Ho / This is what democracy looks like”

Good news

In spite of everything, there is still the vote. There’s no real evidence that gerrymandering or Russian attacks can thwart a major voter turnout.

We cannot expect Mueller to fix things. We cannot rely on impeachment. But we sure can vote.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

(That’s the gist of a Will Stenberg piece on FB this morning).

And protest. MoveOn has asked us to wear white on Saturday.

And now, major machinery is grinding at my neighbor’s so I’m heading into the Center for breakfast.

Accommodations

Here’s Finn running around looking all Dog and happy with his walker yesterday. While he enjoyed running around in the sun, I drove my sister to (another) cardiac appointment. It was in Danvers this time.

The doctor was distractingly handsome. Don’t you just hate that? I once had a colonoscopy, of all things, done by a blue-eyed gem who looked a lot like Paul Newman.

The Danvers doctor was named Silver — even that’s glamorous.

He gave clear advice. Took his time. Answered all our questions. So, that was a boon and while the news wasn’t great, it wasn’t terrible, either.

Getting there and back didn’t go so well.

For starters, the phone wasn’t telling me where to go. What? Why not? For once, I was relying on that annoying voice (“in two miles, take Massachusetts 62 West to Maple Street”). There I was driving on unfamiliar streets looking in disbelief at my phone. Not exactly safe.

I’d turned off the podcast from the ride up because it was bothering my sister, not realizing that meant the map audio would go silent, too (duh — Blue Tooth and all).

All the while my sister was telling me which way to go. She has a good sense of direction — much better than mine — and this was her turf, but still, she hasn’t driven in ten years and there was no reason to assume she knew the way.

I wanted the google directions dammit!

It took a few frustrating miles and a detour into a parking lot to figure it out.

Meanwhile, my sister had for some reason taken my sputtering at the phone personally. The seat belt alarm was chiming every few seconds (she’s too big to buckle in) and then there was the clinic’s practice of cancelling an appt if you’re 15 minutes late.

Kinda stressful.

Wheel chairs were lined up at the door and I knew to look for the extra wide.

A slight rise from the curb to the glass doors posed a challenge. Wow. Was this really only a two percent grade? After last week’s appt I had a mild case of tennis elbow and didn’t want to injure myself.

We managed. Heard the pros and cons of ablation. Next steps for evaluation lined up — some more discouraging than others.

Getting her out of the confining space where she’d had her EKG took a little doing, however. It’s one thing to push a heavy wheel chair. It’s another thing to pull one.

“Don’t bother with the brakes,” she said as I parked her on the sloping sidewalk before running off to fetch the car.

Seriously? On a slight slope leading into the driveway — don’t use the brakes? Umm. NO.

Being powerless can make a person take charge where they can. I try to accommodate.

Driving back to N’s apartment, I decided to go by highway and because I thought I knew the way, ignored Google Maps. To be fair, I couldn’t hear the annoying chorus of “recalculating” because my sister needs to have the AC blasting on high and all the windows open to be comfortable. I ended up overshooting the exit by MILES.

Ever notice how different things look coming from the other direction? Perspective is everything.

Meanwhile, N wanted me to stop and buy her some booze (NO). Then she wanted to stop at the Homegoods, because it’s “the best one and we’ll never come out this way again”. (Yes we will and NO)

This from a person who doesn’t want to have to get up out of her chair to buzz me in (after the pissing in the casserole dish incident — don’t ask — I made sure to get my own set of keys).

This from the same person who grocery shops in a motorized cart and is exhausted for days after. The time when she could lean into a shopping cart for support is long gone (or not yet returned, depending on your point of view).

But to be clear: I was the unreasonable one. Obnoxious, even.

One way to feel in control, by the way, is to make your helper feel like shit — bonus points if you’re related.

Then, just as were looping back toward her place after that long detour and a speck of relief emerged, she demanded a tour of downtown Salem.

(NO). Now I’m really awful.

Mind you, I still had to drive home — a trip that runs from 40 minutes to two hours, depending on who the fuck knows what. As you might imagine, we were both pretty done in by then.

So I dropped her off. Her aide would help her for the rest of the afternoon. And I would go home and eat chocolate. Watch TV. Take care of some tedious financial stuff. Learn about the Supreme Court’s three disastrous decisions and actually feel a shot of genuine gladness that the stressful occupations of the morning had prevented me from hearing any news for five hours.

And now? Back to writing. Ha!