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Monday, September 23, 2013

The I-could-not-have-made-this-up department.


I bring in the mail. None of it is very interesting. Most of it goes straight into the recycling bin. As per my custom, I remove the slip of paper with the Geography Quiz that comes monthly along with the National Geographic and quickly fold over the upside-down answers, to prevent cheating. Though given the fact that my slim ability to read anything upside-down seems to have completely disappeared, this may now be unnecessary. Still, I do it. And then I take the geography quiz, under the illusion that this sort of thing will prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. (Also known as magical thinking, yes, I know.) I ace it. (“Berkner Island is located between Ellsworth Land and Coast Land on which continent?” I think you will agree that this month’s questions were easy.) I recycle more papers. There is a fat catalogue, for CSB, called Nasco Farm & Ranch. As it flops onto my desk, the catalog opens to this page, and only this page:

What can I say? My eye is instantly, irrevocably, gravitationally pulled to a certain item on offer, as if it were printed in bold & extra large type: the Disposable Artificial Vagina. Yes, I know animal husbandry is not funny and who am I to be amused, but we have to take our jollies where we can, and where I take them today is on this page, relishing all the accessories for the Disposable Artificial Vagina, including an A.V. Scrubber Brush and A.V. Antibacterial Scrubber Gel, and the A.V. Hanger.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why it is (almost) impossible to work at home, if home is here, and a farm


It is 9:16 in the morning, CSB has gone to work, I am drinking tea and working at my computer on a new story about two people on an airplane, and funerals. Although I should be finishing the horseshoe crab novel, at least I am working on something, and the day seems to be progressing properly.

“Honey, can you open the door for me?” It is Jorge the painter, and he is standing outside my office window. (First thought: at least I am not in pajamas, because the possibility of wearing pajamas well best midday is one of the dubious perks of working at home.) I don’t like it when Jorge calls me Honey and I am also annoyed with him because he comes and paints for half a day, then disappears for two weeks to South Carolina (once) and other places, unknown, and so the job (painting the western side of the house, theoretically a week-long job) has been unfinished for a long time, weeks, many weeks, and that is the sort of thing that can make an already slightly OCD person get worse. Plus, he started calling me Honey when he started the job and I didn’t bother to correct him at that time (which would have been the correct time) by saying something like: “I am not your Honey. Honey is a product of the Bees. Only one person gets to call me Honey.” But I was too lazy or polite to set the record straight at the proper time, and now it seems that it would capricious and nasty to do so. But the truth is, every time he calls me Honey it grates on my nerves a little bit more, because now I have only myself to blame.
So I go & open the guest room door (because Jorge needs to get inside and open certain windows that need painting, painting that should have been finished weeks ago), and then I realize that the guest room is quite untidy, and since CSB’s son, Colby (just in from Nicaragua) and a girl who may or may not be his girlfriend are staying there tonight, I feel compelled to tidy the room a bit. This involves moving stacks of Bee Culture into a cabinet, and also moving stacks of Fine Woodworking into the same cabinet. And moving the collapsible beach chairs out of the guest room and into the shed. And gathering up random items such as drill bits, beehive mouse guards, tape measures and loose change.
Then I note that with all the boxes of honey jars are stacked up in the hallway, and it will be challenging to vacuum up all the dust bunnies and dead bugs that are guaranteed to be lurking there. So I move all the honey jar boxes into the basement hearth room – where they more or less belong, assuming they belong anywhere. Except for the 12 boxes of small jars that we bring upstairs to the kitchen because we need to bottle this week for Charlie’s wedding.
And since I am already in the kitchen I scrape all the oven-dried tomatoes off the racks and put them in a container, and label it. And since I am there, I also put 3 eggplants in the oven to bake them, in order to make the rissoles later, because rissoles seem to be the best thing to do with vast amounts of eggplants, which we tend to have this time of year. And also, because they are quite delicious. To my immense satisfaction, I have fooled several people (two) who claimed to never eat/loathe eggplant into eating and enjoying eggplant through the medium of these rissoles. Having put them in the oven, I check to make sure I have the other ingredients for rissoles: cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley – that will have to be picked. And since I am already in the kitchen I eat the half of a melon that CSB grew and is rather ripe, because I haven’t had breakfast – I was so happily working away in my office mere minutes, or hours, ago - and then I see the compost is full again – of course it is since here are loads of squishy tomatoes in there – but I don’t go out to empty the compost and check the eggs. I come back here instead. And write about why it is impossible to efficiently work at home. No, not if you are me.
And now it is 10:27.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On being bi-coastal

Since I have lately returned from the other coast I feel qualified to expatiate on some of the vast differences between that coast and this one.
Which coast has colder ocean water?
Where do artichokes grow?
Where was the epicenter of the Financial Crisis?
How do you feel about poisonous snakes?
All answers are correct.

I can also tell you several things they have in Bernal Heights (a neighborhood of San Francisco also known as Maternal Heights; you can easily imagine why) that we do not have in Hastings-on-Hudson, things you may be surprised to learn Hastings lacks, given its soi-disant identity as Hipsturbia. In Bernal Heights they have a Nepali restaurant, a Peruvian restaurant, an Ethiopian restaurant, a truly excellent independent bookstore and two vegan nail salons. In Hastings we have four and a half pizza parlors, two ordinary nail salons, at least three tchotchke stores and a quite good felafel place.

Bernal Heights of San Francisco, most importantly, is home to Auben, my newest grandson, also known as Perfect Child. *
You probably assume I am writing hyperbolically; you may even accuse me of being partial. But I assure you I am not. No less an expert on infantile beauty than Michael Claude Lehner has said that Auben represents the Platonic Ideal of Babyness. So, yes, once again, my grandchild is the most delightful, lovely, charming and intelligent infant on this continent, if not the entire planet, and for the rest of you new grandparents, I can only say,Nyah, Nyah. Whoever said that Best-Grandchildren-Ever does not comprise a Competitive Event?
Auben can already suckle, smile, burp, hiccup, soil his diapers, stretch his arms and his legs – often simultaneously; he can make interesting and mysterious noises, enjoy his grandmother’s atonal lullabies, sleep through the evening news and wake up in time to demand feeding at the exact moment when the parental units are about to eat their own dinner. You don’t get more platonically ideal than that.
But as I have mentioned, there is a slight problem. Auben is in San Francisco along with the Vegan Nail Salons, and I am here in Hastings where we have plain old Geranium, Hot Stuff and Fifth Avenue, all made with meat and dairy.

*This ├╝ber-stylish shark robe arrived one day last week for Auben, without any card identifying the sender. If you are the sender, or know the sender, please accept most sincere gratitude from parents, grandmother & Auben.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Some great things about Maine you may not know


It's not a gaggle of geese. It's a book club of loons. More loons discussing literature than I have ever before seen in one place at one time.

The outliers. They preferred Moby Dick. They always prefer Moby Dick.

In case you are considering religion. Or perhaps you are seeking a new denomination that meets your needs.

The Windsor County Fair. We bet on the harness races. We lost.

South Solon Meetinghouse, South Solon (Seriously, do click on this. It's amazing.)