In search of story


July 27.21: Coping

Modesty compels me

to unamended truth:

my talents are unbounded,

to lie would be uncouth.

As painter I achieve

the heights of bruise and groan;

in DIY Olympics

my prowess stands alone.

I don’t even have to aim

at microscopic spot,

it’s bull’s-eye for the blob

where drop cloth covers not.

Forever placid swan,

both my graced left feet

entwine within the ladder,

reliably tout de suite;

clutching for my life

is my practiced well-honed skill,

a teeter and grab,

and I am upright still!

My TA-DAs are unheard,

resounding nonetheless;

I curtsy in official

full-palette painting dress.

I put my whole self in my work —

that’s very plain to see;

my genius also makes me put

my work all over me:

as some folks wear their feelings

on sleeves, in public view,

just so I wear my colors

on elbow and on shoe.

Unframed, my art’s admired

by critics, one and all,

exclaiming how I even get

some painting on the wall.


As you know, dear reader, I have solemnly sworn to never ever paint an ant-sized bathroom again. So I’m tackling people-sized places. The weather has encouraged me to stay indoors and, since my writer’s muse has been suffering from some malaise, I have turned to my ever-ready home improvement muse.

Nothing testifies to progress more convincingly than a mound of used painter’s tape. Detaching it from me was a matter best left unsung: Woman vs Tape is not a pretty story.




July 31.19

Saturday I fell. It was a lovely, slow-motion Swan-Lake-type gardener’s fall, complete with watering can, with a perfect three-point landing: one knee and two hands. Except one hand was clutching a rather full and therefore heavy watering can. My knee landed on the sidewalk, where I left a bit of my DNA.  My hands landed in the soft dirt of the garden, so that was lucky. It was the weight of the watering can that caused mischief.

It couldn’t have happened in the back yard where only the rabbit would have pointed and laughed. Nope. The front yard. I regained my composure best I could and took inventory of my person. All told, very little damage. You know, of course, that the effects were felt later. Not bad, though. Just enough to advise me not to do that again.

Then Monday the refrigerator came. Late. There were moderate problems. The delivery guys were great. So far I can’t get the drawers to work right. There is mysterious goo seeping out of a hinge.

The painters, long delayed because of our soggy spring and sorry summer, started yesterday on the exterior trim and discovered wood rot so bad that I had to call a contractor. I await his return call.

Meanwhile, the daily goes on.  Do we want to know how much time we spend on hold? Is there any way to exact revenge for those recordings? And I’m sneezing my head off. (No loss, you say?) Old age brings allergies?

So when this guy cast his red eye on me and announced himself as the bluebird of happiness I wasn’t buying it. I did, however, hand him a menu featuring hassenpfeffer.



July 20.19

How long, dear reader, since you shopped for a major appliance? Say a refrigerator? For me, it’s been a long time and my memories were shaped by the days when one went to an appliance store where one could inspect the actual appliance. If purchased on the occasion of a firstborn’s christening, it would last until that firstborn left for college.

I was, therefore, ill-prepared for my recent search for a new refrigerator. I didn’t want frills. I just wanted to avoid ptomaine. Ice would be nice. Actually, anything frozen would be nice. (The freezer went defunct a while back.)

Today one goes to the Internet and to various “big box” stores, where one might find someone with answers to questions. The sales people — when found — are very nice and consult temperamental computers. (I can do that at home.)

Online, one opens a virtual appliance, and reads things called “reviews.” There is no want of opinions on the Internet. I was awash in them. It took about three zillion of them but I eventually discovered patterns: short-time owners ecstatic; long-time (three years) owners despondent. One adjusts one’s expectations.

The refrigerator gasping its last in my kitchen is a 20-year-old Amana. I make frequent runs to the grocery store to buy bags of ice to keep its insides cold, and it is giving its all to keep going until the new one arrives at the end of the month.

Now you know why we’re having this heat wave.


Art forms

Several months ago, I was one of five writers sitting around the dissecting table, the bones of paragraphs strewn about, muscles of terse descriptive phrases exposed. We viewed the specimens with renewed resolve and despair. Also with egg salad sandwiches and chocolate cupcakes.

We spoke of our upcoming summer and the perceived impediments to writing. I said I had walls to paint. Two of the five burst into rhapsody: “I love to paint!” The thrill in their voices was real. Can we extrapolate that in every gathering of writers 40% will be lunatics? Have their brains been twisted by revisions, their perceptions dulled by analogies, their childhoods misspent with the Thesaurus?

I’ve had ample time to ask these questions as I’ve been felled by full paint cans, skinned by the ladder, splattered by brushes, and shackled by edging tape. As I struggle to disentangle myself from the drop cloth, which has also grabbed the ladder, I lose my sense of the horizon and tip the tray of paint, which goes the way of all things: down. Mostly over my feet. “I love to paint!” is not what I say.

What is it that causes people to love to paint? Is it a rush from a quadrillion shades of white? Is it dances with ladders? The delicate interplay between plumbing and roller? The up-close voluptuous curves of the toilet? The absoluteness of the baseboard line?

What am I missing here? To me, this is mess and mayhem, bruised shins and rudely awakened muscles, slobbering brushes and drooling cans. What’s to love? It occurs to me that there are those who would ask the same question about writing, and I am forced to shrug weakly and capitulate to the inexplicable.

Not a box of chocolates.

Not a box of chocolates.