Oddments

In search of story


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August 22.19

Breathes there the gardener with soul so dead

who never to a friend has said,

“I grew these glorious slices of red!”

 

I’ve been gone, dear reader. Time travel. My dear old high school friends, Donna and Bill, have been visiting, and we had our own private tomato fest. Tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, served with a heaping helping of boast: I GREW THESE! I believe this is my third gardening year not killing tomatoes, and I’ve not one shred of modesty about them.

The tomatoes were highly seasoned with reminiscing, laughing, and reflecting. To be with friends we’ve known since high school is a real privilege at this age, and rightly savored with summer’s bounty. We returned to gardens, tomatoes, and roadside farmers’ stands of the past, as we slathered butter on the hot corn of the present.

It is fitting to pull out the old family heirloom dishes and other eating finery no matter how casual we are. Eating together is a celebration, and a pretty plate seems the only way to go. Besides, what better way to wear a tomato?

Now comes the time of catch-up. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

 

Apologies also to Sir Walter Scott.


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August 4.19

Sometimes

if summer is old enough

and the leaves heavy with heat,

continuo of cicada

tricks me, and,

for so brief an instant,

I am back

in the time of bikes, grass prickles,

summer sleighbells of the ice cream man,

clothespin dolls,

clover braids,

a time when we had not yet heard of

mass shootings.

But it — that time — knew of nooses

of word and of rope.

To go back is to ask —

how could a country of lynchings

not become a country of mass shootings?

There is no perfect then.

 

 


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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.

 


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July 22.19

ELEGY IN A KITCHEN GARDEN

My poor beautiful tomato plant,

victim of its own vitality

lies helpless, hapless,

like my old Christmas tree.

Don’t tell me what I should do

or shouldn’t.

Doing isn’t feeling.

I tried but couldn’t,

and that is everything.

 

 

If you are a gardener, dear reader, you know that lessons grow in the garden, some of them dismal. Yesterday a rambunctious wind announced the coming of today’s blessed, cooling rain. I tried desperately to right my gorgeous Beefsteak, but my two hands and two feet were not enough. And the thunder growled.  It was with real sadness I had to abandon the rescue. If you are a gardener, you understand the feeling. It isn’t about what to DO.


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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.


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July 13.19

Two dazzling things happened yesterday, dear reader!

As you know (or not), I’ve been in the throes of downsizing. I moved into this smaller house about a year and a half ago, and that makes this my second gardening season here. If you are a gardener, you know that you have to earn ownership of a garden; it doesn’t just happen. Nor does it “just happen” that a house becomes home. For me, it’s all a work in progress: this isn’t home yet either inside or out.

However, there were these two heart-stoppers yesterday:

I caught a glimpse of new color deep in a tomato plant. I was down on the ground as fast as my creaking knees would allow and, yes, there it was: the first red tomato! MY tomato! If you have read my blog in the past, you know that until recently my main claim to gardening fame was in consistent tomato-killing. I grew them in memory of my Grandpa Mauck but without much hope of eating actual tomatoes.

(Last year was The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, if you recall. The tomatoes had their revenge.)

And tuxedos in the dill! In my last house I had a magnificent dill patch and these very formal, elegant caterpillars feasted royally thereon. Swallowtails bobbed their thanks over what was left. This year the blasted rabbits ate to the ground every single dill plant I tried to grow, so I planted dill in a pot on the deck. Now come the beautiful caterpillars. Can swallowtails be far behind?

I dance a rheumatic jig and think that maybe home will happen.