Saturday, July 31, 2010


ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT, IT'S NOW a proven fact that I can't just sit on a pile of details. Nope--it's not a cushy seat, and I see no point in fidgeting around atop a mound of minutia! So, Dear Reader, I'm flinging out the details. You're free to ignore them. Or, sit on them yourself, if you feel so led!

First of all, I told the sales clerk at the jewelry store (I randomly chose one--there are six Fine Jewelry stores in the local mall): "My yard man's uncle is here from Arizona. He wants to buy his fiancee a ring." (Except I didn't really say yard man, for fear he would give me a very strange look.) I said, "My husband and his uncle will be here soon. Can you tell me a little about the diamonds?" And he was so happy to oblige.

When the actual, potential buyer of the ring showed up, the sales clerk shook his hand, "My name is John" he said.

"And my name is John," said the ring-buying man.

Then John set to with a will, and began to show John his array of diamonds. The cut, the color, the clarity, the size--they all make a difference, the one who was selling explained.

John the Buyer listened intently and looked at a few of the rings. Then he said, "Well, I just called and asked her last night." He chuckled. "She might not say yes."

Up went the sales clerk's eyebrows. "My, you move fast!" he exclaimed. I could see little beads of sweat appear on his forehead; was he going to make this sale?

But Buyer-John's nephew, standing behind him, laughed loudly. "She's been living with him for ten years!" he guffawed.

And I was laughing, too. This uncle of my yard man, he's adorable; last night he'd encouraged a clan-full of nieces and nephews to fly out to witness the 'I-do's.

Like my husband, however, he's not much of a shopper. Seller John hadn't shown us but three lovely diamonds, Buyer John was ready to narrow it down. When I said, "Well, this one is very nice! I like it the best" that was it.
 "I think she will like it, too." he said. "That's the one!" (That yard man breathed a sigh of relief.  He knew that left up to me and my own instincts, we'd still be looking at diamonds an hour later.)
The deal was sealed. John the Seller
shook hands with John the Buyer,
and my yard man and his uncle went happily on
their way.

And so did I. It had been a sparkly little spot in my day, and now I had the perfect excuse for loitering in the mall, buying myself a cheap pair of earrings.

Oops, I was still sitting on one teeny-tiny detail: Just as the Uncle John started walking away, swinging that fancy little bag with the treasure for his true love's hand, I said: "Don't forget to get down on one knee!"
He grinned. "But I have arthritis!" he said.


Friday, July 30, 2010


HEAVEN KNOWS, I HAD no idea yesterday morning that this morning I'd be out with a 71-year-old gentleman shopping for a diamond engagement ring. (I've known him for a very long time, but this was quite a surprise!)

It was something like ten o'clock last night when he popped the big question; shortly after, I said that I'd really like to help choose a ring. So you see, Reader Dear, there wasn't much time to contemplate this morning's happy shopping trip.

I loved the little excursion--I learned a few things about diamonds (and we picked out a beauty). But, goodness, far be it from me to bore you with details--if you'd like to know more, simply pop me a question!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


IT'S 3:30 A.M. I'M SLOUCHED AGAINST THE HOTEL'S front desk, bleary-eyed. My chauffeur is waiting in the car. "Any vacancies?" I ask the night clerk.
"Sorry, no. We're filled up," he says. " And so are the next three hotels down the road--I was sending people over to them."
"Oh," I groan. "You're kidding..."
"There are more places you can try." He pauses. "They're farther away...and might be full, too."
I'm just standing there. I'm pondering my options. I don't wish to carry bad news to my chauffeur. I laugh in a doomed kind of way. "I told my husband I'd even sleep on dirty sheets."

Suddenly the night clerk looks up with raised eyebrows. "Well," he says, and his voice has a hopeful ring. "We do have one room where a businessman had an early flight out. I don't know if it's been cleaned. I can give it to you cheap." Before he's done talking, I've yes-yes-oh-yes, absolutely claimed it.
"Let's go have a look,"
says he.

That's how I ended up playing chambermaid at 3:45 in the morning, cleaning up after a single businessperson who managed to mangle the bed covers on a king-sized bed, over-stuff the trashcan and leave behind his slippers from an Asian hotel.

The night clerk brought us clean sheets and emptied the trash. He brought us an armload of shampoo and conditioner. Perhaps he was thinking: fewer hours in the bed, more stuff for the head.

At any rate,
we got a cool deal on a very hot night!


Monday, July 26, 2010



I TALKED MY CHAUFFEUR into driving me to southern Virginia to check on the house of my childhood, languishing there beside the Warwick River. The fig trees were thriving in the yard, but, alas, the mold and mildew were following suit in the house.

Which meant that: (1.) We would have wished--the chauffeur and myself--to spend all our time outdoors, waxing nostalgic over the scenery; except that any day since August 7, 1819, would have been a better day for this, temperature-wise. The thermometer read 105.

Which meant that: (2.) We felt compelled to abandon our blow-up mattress on the floor with the sheets that are supposedly queen-sized but didn't quite fit (corners of the sheet popping off the bed whenever we moved)...and head out into the peak-vacation- season-weekend-night at 3:15 in the morning to find other lodging.


Thursday, July 22, 2010



Your brain! Can you rack your brain?!
(Surely you've done it a time or two.)
You'll rack up so many points (with me only, I confess) if you'll venture a guess.


Monday, July 19, 2010


I STOPPED IN AT A NEARBY appliance store today, searching out a washer to replace the one that Robert informed me (just this morning) had a very small leak. "I ran another load," he said, "before I called you--to make sure the leak was not an abnormal one."

Robert's got three distinctions: he's my oldest tenant, the one with the second-longest stay, and my very best one (though many of those terrific folks who call me 'The Landlord' [uh, huh...I'm only assuming that's what they call me] run a very close second). It didn't take long for me to decide that a brand-new washer was in order for Robert. (Everything in his charge gets meticulous care--what a fine attribute!)

Well, anyway, there I was in the store, and I soon realized that right near the counter where I was conferring with the salesman an unexpected activity was taking place. Unexpected by me, at any rate. The salesman was quick to explain that a local television channel films a cooking show in their store at regular intervals.
"Interesting," I said, and watched the chefs for a moment. "So if I were to scream, it would be on TV?"
The sales clerk gave me a slightly tentative look.
"Or...maybe...throw myself across the counter?!"
Now a smile flickered across his face.
"Yeah," he said. "yeah, that should do it."

Perhaps he wished I would break the monotony of his long afternoon.
If so, he was disapppointed (don't look for me on TV, Dear Reader), though he did write me up for a spanking-new washer.

And by Thursday noon, Robert will be doing his laundry in a totally abnormal-leak-free machine. There shouldn't be any of those pesky normal leaks either.


Sunday, July 18, 2010


SOMEONE SENDS ME POETRY: exquisite little offerings of words arranged like the pattern on a butterfly's wings, or one made by eddies in a flood-swollen stream. Though she doesn't do the arranging, the sender often wraps the poems in a thin sheet of music --silky notes that say pause! --pay attention to this key moment--read slowly!
It's always a surprise when I find one in my box; they come without rhyme or reason (I say, but not in truth, because many times there are words that rhyme. And I know there are reasons; I'm hoping that one of them might be my simple delight at receiving these gifts). I rushed across the stage to thank her for this one:

Life While-You-Wait
Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.
I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it's mine. I can't exchange it.
I have to guess on the spot
just what this play's all about.
Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can't conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.
Words and impulses you can't take back,
stars you'll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run ?
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.
If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven't seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn't even clear my throat offstage).
You'd be wrong to think that it's just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I'm standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there's no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I've done.
~ Wislawa Szymborska ~
(Poems New and Collected 1957-1997,
trans. S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh)

It's become forever what I've done, Dear Reader--
my passing this bouquet of words on to you.



Friday, July 16, 2010


HERE ARE THE DETAILS--(of my semi-bovine existence ) After the lemonade incident, I worked like a dog, and the following day, too: I kept right on preparing for week-long house guests. The weather kept on with its sweltering heat. I cleaned like a fiend. I worked in the yard. I didn't drink any more lemonade, but something around my upper body kept tightening its grip. (Gee whiz, I thought, my bra must be shrinking!)

"My chest feels funny,"
I complained on the phone that evening, and the doc at the medical center gave me these instructions: "Take off that bra!" (Juuust kidding, Dear Reader) He said: "Go to the E.R!"

" left arm feels fine!" I tried to make a convincing case for two aspirin and a call in the morning. "I have no trouble breathing."

"Not yet!!" he ominously responded...(kidding once again, Dear Reader! It sounded good. I couldn't resist.) Well, at any rate, I ended up being poked and pummeled and closely monitored in a bed in a room full of other beds, and a white-coated guy intoned these words: "You've had a substantial heart attack!" (Exclamation point mine; he spoke calmly--I assume he was used to hearts misbehaving.) But, wow. It was shocking news to me. And especially to The Yard Man. I know he'd have bet me three horses and a gallon of lemonade it was all in my head!

So...yada, yada, yada...turns out I had a malformed heart valve. I suppose, Dear Reader, that you know enough about modern science, or modern medical care, or...well, do you know anything about Modern Bovine Organ Donation? I was scheduled for valve replacement surgery.

After some begging, they--all the white-coated people--let me go home and host my guests, and go to an out-of-town wedding with them (with the guests, of course; don't be silly!) I had two full weeks to wrap my head around joining the bi-species crowd.

(But) FIVE DAYS LATER: Mr. Yard Man returns from taking our guests to the airport. He walks in the door, and I say, "Let's eat. I've got supper ready."
He says, "Sure, I'm hungry." 
 I'm putting food on the table. "Mmm," he says, "that smells good!" (Okay. Believe me, Dear Reader, I'm not writing fiction, but I made up those words--I have no idea what the conversation was before I suddenly stopped and stood still.)
 I said, "I have a funny feeling in my chest."

This time that yard guy would've bet we were in for a fast ride! We were out the door in a flash, and off to the E.R. again. And the very next day they sliced open my heart (don't be squeamish) and made me into the partially bovine creature that I am today.

(Small final detail: You may find this corny, but cows always love it--whenever I see the sisterhood I say, "I'm a little moooody today, how bout you?")


Thursday, July 15, 2010


THE SMALL CLUSTER OF CALVES in the field up the road ran over to talk to me as I walked by yesterday evening. They didn't quite know how to say it, but I figured it was some sort of birthday greeting they wished to convey. I don't go around blabbing it to just anyone, but of course they've known it for quite some time--today marks my fifth anniversary as a cow. Oh, wait, wait...good grief...I meant to say part cow! I've been  part cow for five years now.

I'm sorry, you seem a little skeptical, Dear Reader. But it's true. (And that's no bull! I always tell the cows). It's been five years since that sweltering July day, when I stomped off to the grocery store and slugged home three gallon jugs of lemonade and a twenty-pound bag of ice, dragged them all into the house in one load, began shoveling ice into cups and pouring lemonade. I was irritated! Yes, it was, this exceedingly hot day, and The Yard Man was expecting a great crowd of foreign visitors to come and ooh and ahh about his horses. Oh, yes. He was quite enthused and eager. He had thirty chairs all set up out there in the yard; he would parade the horses for these guests to inspect; they would be eager, too, and interested. But. They. Would. Also. Be. Hot! And. They. Would. Be. Thirsty! (I had strongly opined to The Yard Man, who had shrugged his shoulders.)

I quietly jump to the part where I pour myself a drink, as I'm flinging ice into cups. I gulp down the cold lemonade, develop a very strange feeling in my chest, and (flurry of events and a few days later) find myself waking as a partial cow.

(Okay, I left out a few details.
I'll fill you in later, if I feel so moooooved.)



Wednesday, July 14, 2010



IT'S RAINING CATS AND though we don't have enough animals around here already! In fact, one truly delightful thing about the precipitation and its forceful arrival is that now the Yard Man will not have to be coerced into cleaning up the small but definitely unwelcome deposit that Ms. Chicken-Who-Walks-About left on the kitchen porch yesterday.

This female has quite a mind of her own, flying the coop whenever she pleases--acting for all the world as though SHE were the mistress of this property! I can't tell you, Dear Reader, how often she has enraged the true and actual mistress with her careless deposits and her mulch-strewing ways!



Saturday, July 10, 2010


IT'S NOT THAT I'M SUCH A BIG FAN OF talking about the weather (I'd understand, Dear Reader, if you were to get a little scowl on your face right now and point wordlessly to my last several postings), but I can't help but rhapsodize about today's. We got another infusion of rain...administered slowly and gently and over many hours' time. There's something so fundamentally satisfying about having a basic need met after it's been withheld for so long. We needed this rain--all the perfect strangers with whom I discussed this agreed. When I walked out of the drugstore this afternoon and exclaimed, "Oh, it's raining again!" a gentleman opening his umbrella added, "And that's a good thing!" So it is.


Thursday, July 8, 2010


THIS JUST IN--(the thirsty ground)...RAIN!!
It showed up this afternoon with lights flashing
and sirens screaming (um, you might call it
thunder, Dear Reader), attending to the dry earth
with the passion and speed of any other
emergency response effort.

Ultimately, it worked with such a sustained frenzy
that (my yard man happily informed me) three-tenth's
of an inch infusion was administered to all of the
near-casualties strewn across the landscape.

I hope the situation is closely monitored and
another infusion will be quick to follow if needed.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


MY SHOES! MY SHOES HAVE DISAPPEARED! It's true. Just a few hours ago, on my way home from my first meeting as a politician (er, uh...I know I have some explaining to do, but not now, Dear Reader, okay? Please give me a moment of silence while I process this loss), I approached their place of residence on the wire and glanced fondly up to check on them. But...what? Only startling emptiness there where they'd hung for so long! I drove under the wire, craning my neck, hoping to see that they had somehow shifted to a different spot. Then I turned the car around and pulled off the road.

I was hoping to find them in a pile on the ground, or maybe thrown off into the grassy area nearby. But, sadly, I found not a trace of them--not a single one of the four.

I took a picture of the unadorned wire to show you, Dear Reader; and then, feeling a little nostalgic, I walked to the other side and took another shot-- into the fading sunset.

After which I continued on my way home, the corruption of governments now forgotten, my mind on who would have taken my shoes?!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


AAAGH! THROW OFF THE BLANKETS! SHUT DOWN THE FURNACE! TURN OFF THIS OVEN! My poor plants and flowers are being roasted alive. The well's running dry too quickly for lack of replenishing rain. It's triage time--competing for hose water with the thirsty horses.

(You'll notice I'm all over the place with the weather these days. [Back to complaints, you see.])

Sunday, July 4, 2010


A NEW SIGN APPEARED a few miles from where I live. I noticed it for the first time today as I dashed to the grocery store for a watermelon I planned to chill and take to the cookout this evening (I had to do an awful lot of rummaging in the fridge to make room for the thing). Thinking that I certainly wouldn't want to forget the date on the sign, I took a picture.

It just so happens that I know someone who was born on 5-20, and I pondered--On her next birthday, should I tell her she should party like there's no tomorrow?

And then I wondered--what time of day is he expected? This being an international event, knowing the exact time would be essential in naming the day.

( you may have suspected, Dear Reader, I put no stock in this datum.)



Saturday, July 3, 2010


THIS TIME IT'S A SALMAGUNDI! (You have nothing to fear, Dear Reader, but fear's only an olio, not some reptilian creature. But why am I explaining? Perhaps you already throw this word around a lot at your house--What do you want for dinner tonight? I've got a real salmagundi of leftovers in the fridge, or I'm off to the thrift store--do you want to add your old shoes to this salmagundi I'm donating? [And if you don't, I suggest you give it a'll find so many ways to work it in. (I'm not saying it'll make you more friends, but it will be impressive, no doubt.)]).

So here it is, my hodgepodge, my salmagundi--a whole week's worth:
In which--on Saturday--the Little Actor had a
moving experience (into his new home),
and then a strange and out-of-body one
(I was a witness).

In which--on Sunday--the Little Actor (and a
small group of his next-of-kin [including moi of course]) threw a party for his father.

In which--on Tuesday--the train rolled in.

And--on Thursday--the train rolled out.
My sister spent two days with me.
She reveled in the crowing of the rooster,
and things she never sees in Brooklyn.

In which--on the day before this one--I dropped in to see how the quads were doing, only to find that their train had also left the station (or...
, it's quite possible they went by air).

And now, just to add a little hodge to the podge, and throw in something from today: it struck me that the particular piece of kitchen equipment I was using on some crusty loaves of bread I'd just brought home has certainly racked up the years (without once needing service or repair)--I'd guess it's about thirty-three years old and counting.

Wow. I'd say any way you slice it, that's


Friday, July 2, 2010


even though it's been four more days and not one raindrop. The parched situation has not changed. Nor has my attitude changed as far as wishing for some action from that big sprinkler system in the sky. But, let me tell you, there have been changes! And they're ones which make me downright embarrassed to gripe about the weather.

Because now...
it's not too hot,
it's not too cloudy,
it's not too stormy,
it's not too breezy,
and to top it all's
finally (gloriously) not the least bit sticky!
It's darn near perfect, I tell you.
Even the birds seem beside themselves with glee.

So I'm not saying another word (as I once again
unwind the garden hose).