Matt often knows what I want before I do. As a present for my being a caregiver, he bought me a small greenhouse. He paid for two guys to come and put it together. He knew I would try myself if he did not get someone to come by. I am glad he did. The cussing factor on this thing was pretty high judging by what I saw these two guys wrestle with. But by golly, they got it done.
Over the summer it sat empty since all of my plants sit on the patio. But usually in winter, I bring the plants indoors and try to find places near the windows. It gets pretty tight. I also now have the added fun of a cat that likes to eat plants. This year, instead of bringing them into the house, I am keeping them in their own warm and cozy house with a heater. Outside it is 20 degrees inside it is a nice 40 degrees. Just enough warmth to keep them happy. Added bonus – JoJo can’t eat them.
“I believe I can see the future ‘Cause I repeat the same routine”
(Trent always knows how to put his finger on it.)
Gosh, this is boring. I do feel like I am in a routine rut. Is it because I am just getting older and there are things that have to be done? Like cleaning or taking out the trash. Day after day after day. It never ever stops. I exercise everyday. Don’t get me wrong. I love to exercise. But I have been doing it for a very long time and I need to break up the routine of it.
One reason is that the activities that break things up are not possible right now. Matt and I do a few things—we go to plays, we go to concerts, we travel, and we go out to restaurants. In the summer we add in trips to the pick your own farm where we revel in nature. Medical issues, winter, and COVID have pretty much stopped these activities. Plays have been cancelled, Travel has had to stop because of our various medical issues, and we continue to be wary of restaurants because they have all gone back to “normal.”
We went to a concert and it was pretty weird. Proof of vaccination or negative test required but alas, most of the crowd was drinking or holding glasses and pretending to be drinking so they did not have to wear a mask. From there is was shouting to talk and singing without masks. I do not think that I am paranoid but when you have nearly a million people dead, I just don’t think it is asking too much for people to exercise some consideration for their fellow man.
Do I wish it was over? Sure. But we cannot wish it away. Would I like to live with it? Sure. But what does that mean? I don’t think anyone really knows. What I do know is that not enough people are vaccinated, there are a lot of people who are dead and a lot more who became sick and have not fully recovered. Going out to eat is not worth it. And isn’t that what a risk assessment is? Asking yourself, is it worth the risk? Usually the answer is, not really. The other option is being bored. I guess I’ll take it.
COVID is just making it that much more obvious that we are all stuck to some extent. Even if COVID were not around, I cannot help but think that there comes a point in life where you have been doing the same thing for so long, you become numb to it all. I think this is one cause of the great resignation. COVID has made us all more aware of time, its value and how we use it.
Last year this bulb sent up an amaryllis stem and flower that was three feet tall. This year, it did not have enough steam, so it grew an interesting curled stem. (Those are the ukes we brought back from Rapa Nui. They sound awful but look great.)
The other day my mind wandered back in time to my first years here in DC. I lived in a group house because I was a poor student. There were two women living in the house—both ex-wives of artists. Louise Downing was the wife of Thomas Downing, a member of what is known as the Washington Color School. Tom Downing was not the most very famous member of the Color School. That privilege went to Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. To some extent Downing faded into obscurity.
Louise was French-Canadian and she spoke with somewhat of an accent. She had brown curly hair and wore false teeth. She favored bare feet and flowing mu-mu type dresses. She was short and stout, but she had a French way about her. She was boisterous and demonstrative. She liked to talk with a cigarette between her fingers and had a deep throaty, cigarette smoke laugh. She smoked a lot, too much in fact. She had serious heart issues. She had a chest zipper, and her voice was gravelly from smoking so much. She cooked amazing French food, well, French-Canadian food.
I think she left her husband because he had become abusive. I was never clear if they had actually divorced. I do know that she had come to live with us while she worked to get custody of her son. She had no job and no money. She slept on a couch on our screened-in porch.
Even though separated, Louise was obsessed with making sure her husband Tom’s work was on the art market. First, she thought he was brilliant and second, they needed the money. She had a very long story about how the paintings were in storage and she could not get them out until she paid off a debt. I was never clear exactly who had the lien. But she could not put her hands on what were very valuable works of art.
I loved Louise and we spent hours sitting around talking. At some point, she became convinced that I should meet her husband and date him. Louise was very much afraid she was going to die of a heart attack and he would be left without anyone to take care of him and her son. She focused on me. I had not one bit of interest in this. But she insisted that I meet Tom so I agreed to lunch.
We spent the day walking around D.C. talking. He was interesting enough to talk to. But we had not a thing in common. That it was awkward does not really say enough. I was 22 at the time. My interests were not the same as a man in his fifties.
At some point, he asked me if I wanted to see his work. I said, sure, why not. He took me to a walk-up apartment in Dupont Circle. What I found there was odd but somehow fitting. The only furniture was a folding chair and a crate that stood in for a coffee table that held an overflowing ashtray. That was it. His dot paintings were lined up along the walls. They were not even hanging. I think he was sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag.
I sat on the chair while he sat on the floor. He asked me what I thought about his work. My thought was, um, those are circles. I am not an abstract expressionist lover. I am not even an abstract expressionist liker. They seemed pointless. But I told him they were quite interesting. I tried very hard to be enthusiastic. I am not sure why. I felt like he needed to impress me.
After about an hour I looked at my watch and apologized that it was time for me to go. I just needed to get out of there. I had done what Louise asked and that was enough.
When I got home, Louise was so excited. She wanted to know every detail. I talked a bit but I think she realized that her husband was just not for me. She was fine with that. Not long after Tom moved to Provincetown, I believe, and Louise got custody of her son and they moved to Georgetown. I would visit her there and watch her cook French meals.
One day, I have never understood why, she gave me a pair of earrings and a gold ring. It was a gold band. I thought it was her wedding ring. It sure did look like one. She was vague about what it was. It was as if she wanted me to have a memento of our time together. We soon lost touch. I think she followed her husband to Massachusetts, and I never saw her again. Tom Downing died in 1985. I’ve looked for Louise on the internet but that was almost 40 years ago, and I am sure she too has passed on. I still have the ring and the earrings. I remember her fondly. She was a bright spot for me when I first came here.
My family is a family of problem solvers. We are fixers. Give me a problem and I will figure out what to do. I will look for the answer or I will make it up as I go along usually with a solution involving Duck Tape. I can’t help myself. Think of me as Marshguyver. I can jury-rig just about anything. For example, Matt’s knee bike was giving his knee problems. I created a knee pillow out of gel foam padding and an adjustable cover that is far better than any cushion that can be purchased. Another example–we were putting up Christmas lights outside and I did not want to go up a ladder to hang lights in the trees. I did not want Matt to go up either. It took me a few minutes to figure out what to do. I jury-rigged a long pole with a hook (using duck Tape of course) that we could use to place the lights. It worked great. Problem solved.
Lately I have been trying to fix hairline cracks in ceramic mugs. The last time I was in Vermont, I bought two very nice hand thrown mugs, but they both leaked. I could not see the crack without a magnifying glass but it was enough to allow tea to pool on the counter. I was going to throw them away but then I thought, maybe I can fix this. Hello internet? Sure enough, I found potential solutions including boiling the mugs in milk. The proteins in the milk seep into and harden in the cracks as if it is Elmer’s Glue. I tried it and by golly it worked for one mug. The other mug was trickier, so I bought a very thin superglue that was able to seep into the hairline cracks. Problem solved.
I buy books. Far, far too many books. Mostly non-fiction, mostly biography. People have interesting lives, far more interesting than any fiction. Here is the pile. They need to be read but at the rate I am going, I will never finish mostly because I keep adding to the pile.
Unfortunately, I just don’t have enough time to read. That is one thing I am looking forward to in retirement. When we went to the Galapagos, there was a gentleman who said he read three books a week. A week! I can barely read one book in three months. I was so jealous. I do read when I am at the beach. I can devour books, so I know it is just a matter of taking the time to do nothing but read. I hope I will get it. I hope that in the near future I am writing in this blog about books I am reading and there are many of them.
I have another pile of books on a chair in the kitchen. I also buy larger coffee table books—photography, art, and travel. I like to read newspaper comic compilations and graphic novels. I work my way through them while I eat my midnight snack. The last graphic novel I read was George Takei’s “They Called Us Enemy.” Takei was a child when his family was imprisoned in a Japanese interment camp. The book tells the story in comic form. It is a really interesting take on the problem because it comes from his perspective as a child.
Just for fun, right now I am reading “The Afghanistan Papers.” Geeze, this country threw money and lives into a black hole that is Afghanistan and for no purpose. This book just makes me angry.
I am also reading a sort of biography of Werner Herzog called “A Guide for the Perplexed.” The author, Paul Cronin, convinced Herzog it would be a good idea for Herzog to control the biography narrative. So they sit down for conversations that are reproduced in this book. Herzog is an interesting, quirky man who makes movies that you will not forget. It is simply impossible to not be affected by “Aguirre the Wrath of God,” “Fitzcarraldo,” “Rescue Dawn,” or any of his documentaries. It is true that sometimes the movies can be slow and they can try one’s patience. Half the fun is in watching Klaus Kinski try to restrain himself. It is easy to believe that Kinski is going to simply go mad before your eyes. According to this biography, Kinski was a handful, to the point that Herzog and Kinski would get into fights on the set and Herzog literally wanted to kill him. Good stuff!
If I am reading this many books, then maybe I will get through my shelves.
I seem to be on an instrument buying kick. Nothing expensive. Mostly percussion instruments so I can play along with Mariachi El Bronx and Fat Freddy’s Drop. I really want to try the glockenspiel. I bought one and Matt is going to show me how to read simple music. They say it is good for an aging brain to learn new things. I’m on it.
I decided it is time for me to retire. I hope that makes this year more interesting than the last two. I have lots of clean up to do to transition out but on my way I go. What a relief! Honestly, in my head, I retired six months ago.
Matt and I always said we were perfect for retirement. Neither of us gets a charge out of work at all. Good for everyone who finds meaning in work, but that is not us. Work is a means to an end. It pays for our lifestyle. As they say, I work to live, not live to work. I also measure everything by the idea of, when I am on my death bed, what will I regret? Not working more? Hah. No. I’ve been working my whole life, even when I was a kid in my dad’s business and it is time for me to stop being responsible. People ask what I will do. Nothing but creativity I hope.
I shoveled the walk and driveway three times so far this season and I destroyed my left thumb joint. Apparently, when you are my age you automatically have arthritis in your thumb joint. It is just a given. It never bothered me until I made like a snowplow with the shovel handle and pushed and dumped snow into a pile. After two hours of that, it kind of hurt. Then again and again and ouch! The doctor gave me a shot which hurt worse than the actual injury. I am never doing that again.
This is my cat JoJo. We adopted him about a year ago. He grew up in Kentucky, a feral cat needing a home. We got him out of that very bad situation. When he first arrived he was dirty, sick, and hungry. We took him to the vet immediately because he was sniffling. I have never had a cat with the sniffles. But he was full on sick with an upper respiratory tract infection among other diseases. I was so concerned at how sick he was that I asked the vet if I could catch any of the half dozen infections he was suffering from. I was assured that he did not have anything contagious to humans. Cats yes, humans no.
So he spent the first months locked in a room to prevent him from infecting our other cat, Boo. But he is so social that he just wanted to be out. We finally let him out but it has been a challenge. Boo is a senior citizen and JoJo is a little boy who wants to run and jump and play. That is fine unless you are a senior citizen cat in which case, you hiss and tell him to bug off. So they fight and compete. She sits in his spot, he sits in her spot. He tries to eat her food. We have to chase him off. She marches around taunting him and eats his food. It is all so middle school.
When he first came, he would cry like a baby when the food was coming. He would leap at the food trying to get our attention. Then he would proceed to eat his food, Boo’s food, bugs off the floor, anything. It was sweet and sad at the same time. I imagined him surviving outside eating bugs if he had to. And when he was in a large group of cats being fed by some cat lady, he probably made sure he got his share by being as loud as he could. It took us a few months to convince him that there was enough food for everyone and that he did not have beg for attention, eat Boo’s food, or eat bugs. Well, he still eats bugs.
We were told he was a tabby. What we have now learned is that he is probably part Bengal. This is not a good thing. Bengals are a new creation. Some person got the idea to breed a tabby with an Asian Leopard cat. I’d like to say fun ensued but, in fact, these cats are semi-wild. Some states actually ban them if they are in the first four generations because they are not domesticated enough to not be a menace.
JoJo has all of the characteristics. First generation Bengals have a circular pattern in their coat just like leopard spots. As they progress through generations, they become a bit more stripped. JoJo has some spots, some circles, and some stripes. He has a very long tail, like a wild cat.
He has all the Bengal traits. He likes to climb. He likes the top of my armoire. He jumps on the back of dining chair while we are sitting on it. That is very a-nerving. He is energetic to the point of manic. He likes to talk. He is a hunter. Feather toys are his thing. He is very social. He gets bored and that leads to trouble.
We have good JoJo and bad JoJo days. Either he is all in on being rambunctious and rowdy or he is chill. On bad days, he tries to play with our older cat, which she very much does not like. He eats plants, he digs plants, he bites, he claws the furniture. On good days, he is just a calm cat who likes to be petted and to snuggle. He is fond of sitting between my arms when I am typing. He likes to sleep with me under the covers, which is really sweet. The Chewy website says they will demand to sleep with you. He really does!
If we had known he was a Bengal, I doubt we would have adopted him. But he is ours now and we are his parents. I admit that at first, with a few nips and his proclivity to scratch the furniture, I was ready to ship him back. But that would not be right. We have to take what we have and work with it. So I employ Bitter Yuck to stop the chewing on plants. I tape the furniture he wants to scratch, and I do what I can to keep him amused so he does not take his boredom out on our little girl Boo. At one point I was blowing a kazoo to scare him off furniture and to stay away from Boo and her food. Matt pulled out his trombone. Nothing deters JoJo for long. As for climbing, we have tried everything from the water sprayer to loud noises. But it is his instinct to climb. It is just what he does, and I really see no way to stop it. I need to buy him an indoor tree stump to climb.
JoJo. He does what he wants when he wants. He is kind of like me.
Remember what I said about being fickle? We are in Season 4 of Cobra Kai and I am getting fidgety. This is taking too long, and the antagonist is just an a-hole. He is not even a fun bad guy or an interesting one. I’m done. I am not enjoying this anymore. Yes, I stopped watching! How fickle.
Every house has a space that is part storage, part dumping ground. We have a back room in the basement that houses my art supplies, sports equipment, boxes of both my and Matt’s, collections of historic t-shirts, a weight bench, a pile of stuff I need to sell on-line. I have been trying to keep this room straight, but it often gets out of control. So I am back at it. Sorting and organizing. No picture. You don’t need to see it.