First (Soggy) Day of Summer

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Our morning glories made their inaugural climb despite the rain.

My parent’s street today:

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Lima is full of residential scenes that make sense in widescreen.

Btw, there are ongoing dramas for friends and family of mine. I avoid mentioning such matters because doing so with much coherence could invade the privacy of the people involved. With that aside, I can no longer resist mentioning that my mother had washer number six delivered today. There’s no typo in the preceding sentence. My mother has found no less than five washers lacking since the beginning of May. Today Dad returned number five for the sixth pretender to the throne.

I don’t know the finer details of this appliance series, or how my dad overcame the obstacles of returning so many washers. Is he starting to feel like someone who’s been struck by lightning multiple times in dubious circumstances? Did he just give up around washer three or four and start donating the rejects to secondhand stores? I remember watching a Weather Channel special years ago in which a woman had survived three lightning strikes and was reluctant to describe how ordinary the scenes were when it happened. She was struck the third time while washing dishes. Her predicament reminds me just a little of my parents’ marriage.

My washer and dryer were made in 1987 and still launder clothes well with fantastic inefficiency in water and electricity use. I’m so fortunate they show no signs of collapse. I just didn’t inherit enough of my mother’s force of personality to find worthy replacements for them.

I will close with a rainy scene from today’s garden. Incidentally, my washer was spinning with ease as I walked outside to take this picture:

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Garden, June 17

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I don’t like this heat, but I am apt to complain of temperatures that dare to escape my 10-degree margin of comfort (currently 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit and narrowing by the year it seems). Any day with heat in excess of 80 degrees shall be called anathema; a 95-degree day like today has a name so indecent I shall not write it.

The flowers seem to enjoy this heat if they have enough water. A couple of the hanging baskets dried out a bit by the evening watering time, but I persuaded them back from the brink with a long drink.

(Almost Summer) Photo Walk, June 16

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I’ve been remiss with my photo walks this year. It’s not like I haven’t been taking walks. I just haven’t had my camera with me. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of reading this year, as much reading as I can possibly accomplish given the ordinary demands of work and motherhood. It’s like reading makes one’s perspective a bit more distant. I’m still enjoying the scenery of my days; I’m just not paying as close attention to what I see.

I’ve needed the mental engagement that a book can offer to those who linger between its pages. I’ve found that my ongoing flare-ups of nerve pain don’t mix well with television viewing. My mind is just not far enough away from that pain while I watch the show screen.

Around Halloween, I quietly decided that I’d start binge reading instead of binge watching. I’d exhausted all the episodes of Poirot and Marple on AcornTV, so I choose Agatha Christie’s bibliography as my first binge read. Since Halloween was just a pumpkin throw away at that time, I started with Hallowe’en Party. It’s one of the Poirot novels in which he teams up, willingly or not, with the mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver. I adore the Poirot/Oliver novels, for in those pages Christie seems to be laughing both at herself and her most famous detective. There are healthy amounts of satire and sometimes bawdy wit to be found in her work.

So far I have read 53 of her 75 novels and several of her short story collections. An e-reader like Kindle is a great tool for anyone who’s interested in binge reading. It will keep your place just like Netflix remembers the last episode/scene of a TV show. Life can be full of unexpected waiting, and I’ve had a novel (or three) of hers on my phone at all times. I also have a tablet for reading at home. I’ve enjoyed almost all of these books for free through my local library’s connection to Overdrive. The link provided leads to Ohio’s Overdrive collection, but I think this service is available in all states. The entry ticket is a current local library card.

This morning I slightly merged my interests in photography and reading by making a trip to my local library, which has a fantastic garden next door. I thought that I may as well take a camera along to record the progress of that garden.

I regret that I missed this year’s blooming of the peonies. Oh well. The weather was soggy, and I was busy reading The Hollow and The Carribean Mystery.

To Wish Impossible Things

I don’t have much time for writing this evening. This is the sort of reasoning that drives my dwindling number of blog posts. I don’t know where to begin, and I don’t have the time to start.

If I keep waiting to write until an afternoon yawns wide before me, eventually I’ll cease writing here. This blog will be yet another casuality of attrition.

So I will share this evening’s stream of thought, that I need daydreams about as much as my body needs oxygen. I’ve learned that waking dreams can be crucial in coping with many forms of adversity, especially chronic pain.

The key is to persuade my mind to reflect of pleasing things rather than awful ones. I’ve had persistent nerve pain in my right hip this week, which is a distressing development because my as-known nerve damage is on the left side. The pain strikes like a beacon from the black box of an airplane that’s crashed and refuses to let its wreckage be lost. The volume of its signal is a solid 7 out of 10 while I drive.

It is very tempting indeed to anticipate more of the same suffering in the days to come. However, I’ve found that a daydream of a perfect place is the best tool I have to cope with this nerve pain.

My perfect place isn’t merely some generic place like an idyllic beach. It is impossibly perfect, a forest retreat with city utilities and Wi-Fi that never fails. Here I relax in a cabin that is covered in vines and surrounded with flowers year round. Here I can stop time and have as much time to myself as I need. I might even let a pet or two join me in my repose:


I feel that this place has such a conducive vibe for learning that L’Orange and I could read through spans of the canon of literature with ease. He’d take along my copy of Washington Irving’s short stories that’s been collecting dust and good intentions on my coffee table in real life, and we’d thrill over those pastoral, sometimes spine-tingling tales.

My perfect place would be self-cleaning. It would engage all my of senses.Any food I wanted would appear at my wish. There’s something so comforting to me in imagining a perfectly satisfying meal, which would depend on what combination of salt, fat, or sugar I’m craving at the moment. Or sometimes I imagine something quite wholesome, like garden-fresh tomatoes on top of barley with a brightly flavored dressing.

What seems delightful today would be a small plate of the best fries I ever tasted, which was at a random restaurant in Solvang, California, back in ’94. I ate them at a sidewalk table, and the fries had a stellar crisp-to-fluff ratio with a hint of garlic flavor. The weather was superb for outdoor dining, as it almost never is semirural Ohio. In the perfect place, I’d eat those fries with a bit of fresh dill on top and school cafeteria ketchup for dipping. No ketchup has ever rivaled the high vinegar type of my school days.

And now my time for writing really has dwindled this evening.

Do you have a perfect place you visit in your mind?

By the way, I feel like I am remiss in writing about L’Orange without mentioning his real life sidekick Buddy:

Garden, June 9

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Rain has reigned today (homonym intended) with just a few peeks of steaming sunshine. We’ve already had an inch of rain today, and an omen of more appeared in the street:

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I don’t think we’ve had enough wind today for the pool to have arrived via a strong gust. Maybe all the owner’s children have outgrown so small a pool, so this freight of early childhood was slyly discarded in a way that commemorates past neighborhood floods.

Our garden has needed this rain. The yard looks like shorn straw in places, which oddly reminds me of that episode of Spongebob Squarepants wherein Spongebob realizes that he becomes bleached rather than tanned in sunny weather. That is one thing I won’t forget about my own daughter’s early childhood, Spongebob’s sometimes edgy humor. That episode¬†about the Krusty Krab training video is quite subversive. It makes me consider that while we are lucky that one’s first job is no longer dangerous child labor (at least in this part of the world), there is still something a tiny bit soul-crushing about selling one’s labor for the first time, especially if that buyer trains with patronizing cheesiness. By the way, I feel lucky that I work for a business that doesn’t have corny, dumb-downed training materials. I once worked for a now-defunct retailer whose training video on loss prevention featured an elderly woman slipping a set of steak knives into a purse that matched her babushka.

Back to the garden, the sudden rain enriched the ditch that runs between our backyard and an adjacent wetland. Somehow a Dutch iris has emerged in the ditch:

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The rest of the ditch has adopted an Ophelia-worthy pose like these water lilies before bloom:

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This year we decided to add morning glories and a trellis to the garden. The seedlings are starting to grow leaves and were undoubtedly grateful today’s rain:

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My pots and hanging baskets continue to prosper:

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Garden, June 3

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The petunias above have quickly earned my favor in this year’s garden. A garden full of petunias and its petite cousin calibrachoa is a somewhat lazy choice, but they can provide reliable color and joy for nearly half the year.

Since I am apt to think in tangents during most of my waking hours, I present a photo which reminds of a Stevie Nicks’ album title, The Other Side of the Mirror:

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Once upon a time, such a title could evoke all sorts of feminine mystery. In my teen years, I’d imagine that the other side of the mirror held a land full of light-hearted witchcraft and Adonis-like suitors who’d ignore the perfectly preserved plush animals of one’s youth that would punctuate the decor of your lair.

Nowadays the notion of the other side of the mirror seems entirely different. In an age of cell phone photography and video, the other side of the mirror can mean a couple different things. At best, it is all the visuals of one’s life we’d rather not share, from the double chin that emerges while one is reading or writing to evidence of clutter and projects undone. At worst, the other side of the mirror is just that: a two-way mirror through which persons unknown may see anything or everything about your life. As the late Steven Jesse Berstein proclaimed in “This Clouded Heart“: “You feel like you are watched when you are private, and even when you are not private, you cannot choose your audience.”

In the picture above, you see the things lined up against the back of the house, a hose imperfectly wound along with spare propane tanks and a grill in need of a new cover. Then there’s the trash can, which I suppose is the terminal expression of that other side of the mirror, the footage left on the cutting room floor of daily living.

As for the pinwheels that have appeared in the garden, they are part of a small bounty of items my husband bought at an antique tractor show a couple years ago. It seems that most gatherings related to old but useful things have vendors selling all sorts of items. In the sweltering heat, he found a booth selling all sorts of pinwheels, and it wasn’t until this year that we got around to placing them in the garden. Unfortunately, we’ve had some wicked wind lately that dismantled a¬†couple of them.

I will close this post with a few more images from the garden:

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