These hollyhocks remind me of being a very little girl with very few toys I plucked the hollyhocks at the edge of the garden, somehow wrapped them around a clothes pin and pretended I had a doll dressed in a beautiful full skirt for a ball like Cinderella's. I must have been four, perhaps five. I've been interested in fashion ever since though I can't say I've ever been much of a fashion plate. That's today's memory anyway.
In this depressing summer when most morning begin very gray and the day may or may not become sunny, but always gets humid, I am sometimes content to sit with my laptop literally on my lap and write [quite a lot of things]. But Rachel has broken the monotony with outings that introduce me to my new home area. We went one day to Mashpee Commons, a moderately chi-chi kind of shopping area which seems to be a village of Cape Cod Cottages. We had a very satisfying lunch of clam chowder and lobster roll and did what so many women do -- shopped, mostly looked although I bought a couple of pairs of shorts at bargain prices.
Today we went to a pick-it-yourself farm but found it did not operate the way we assumed but was more of a cooperative with membership. Ah, well... we then stopped at one of the Cape's many kettle ponds. This one, called Eagle Pond, like another we visit much more often, was set in a wooded area and had a pine needle strewn path all the way around it among the trees. At a couple of places were minute beaches where a few people were swimming. At one a rope was attached to a tree where kids could swing out and drop ito the water. From across the late we watched a few enjoying it. When we reached that side the people we had seen were gone but we soon met a young mom with a couple of boys who wanted to know where the rope swing was and ran eagerly down the trail when R. told them it was near by. True summer fun for the kids. We enjoyed the walk which was mostly quiet nd peaceful, but quite humid. Still a peaceful way to enjoy a day that has been all too typical this summer.
At 6;00 my clock radio comes on and the local announcer. talking much too fast and swallowing half his syllables, reads the overnight police report, gives the score of the Boston Red Sox game and less than ten words of weather prediction. I do my own prediction by opening my eyes and looking to see if a ray of sun is caressing the armoir at the foot of the bed. If it is, I'm up quickly and soon making coffee so that I can grab an hour's walk on the beach for it may get cloudy and rainy any time.
If all is dull gray I close my eyes and listen to the next half piece of classical music -- they rarely play whole symphonies or concertos or other longer pieces. This is a dumbed down attitude toward classical music always emphasizing how "relaxing" classical music is -- what would Shastikovitch say to that? You can bet they do not play his Leningrad Symphony, I've heard no Prokovief either and precious little Mahler [certainly not whole symphonies] and I doubt Bruchner has made it into their library ever. Grumble, grumble ... b Today the streak of sun was bright and shiny as that famous new penny and I had a lovely walk on the beach, wishing I had taken my camera as I did one day about a week ago. The tide had been very high but now it was very low. At the high tide line were many conch shells, all more or less broken but all beautiful nevertheless. I would like to have photographed a variety of breakage patterns.
These pictures were from the day I did take the camera. The one above is juniper so loaded with berries you could flavor ten years of gin with them. Their frosty blue is lovely against the deep green. The picture below is from one of the high [all is relative] points where these roses were fragrant in the damp air and abuzz with bees wallowing in their golden centers. The view is across the inlet which a tiny bit further on disgorges into the broad bay that the nearly mile long beach partially embraces. For this I am happy to get up early. The near solitude is a plus, just the sound of breeze working it's way around my ears, the lapping percussion of the tide and the quite slap of my flipflops, oh, and the gulls, of course, although they are fairly quiet at that hour, many breakfasting on crabs that they attack very matter of factly.
This is a part the "shell tree" where I always pause on my morning walks. It suggssts to me that Druids exist here on Cape Cod -- I think they disguise themselves in pachwork madras skirts or blazers and cable knit sweaters. They have blue eyes, sandy colored hair and tan arms. I wish these modern day Druids would do some kind of ritual to bring on real summer for a while. The morning was lovely but since noon it's been gray and getting almost chilly. The same thing happened yesterday.
When I moved in the manager told me this apartment has central air conditioning that I could get for an additional fee. I said no -- one of my best decisions. I've put on a fan for only about three hours so far and there's only one more month of "summer".
Yesterday after a trip to a thrift shop R. C. & I stopped at a gallery in Orleans called Trees Place. Among the usual scenic paintings in oil and acrylic, we discovered two painters using egg tempura with truly luminous effect Best of all, the subjects were inventive and beautifully drafted and executed. Wonderful to see. The gallery also has a gift shop with all kinds of delightful one-of-a-kind items. A feast for the eyes, indeed.
These photos are from one of last week's walks -- the bottom is a "kettle pond" which I'm told ia any natural depression that fills with rain or spring water. Since the whole Cape has only a few places higher than 10 feet above sea level, any low spot will be close to or below sea level so naturally will hold water. Thus the Cape has a great many ponds, tiny like this one or fairly large.
[photo: not me but I wouldn't mind looking like this woman] As a matter of ego -- of self=definition, is one a senior citizen because one takes advaage of offerings at a Senior Center? A large and active senior center is about a mile away. They screen relatively new movies, free of charge with a note in their program saying, "walks-ins encouraged". I have gone to three movies there Twice Rachel accompanied me. Although the sound is sort of fuzzy an the projection onto a not very large screen is kind of muddy, it's definitely bargain and an opportunity to see movies I didn't get to a year or so ago.
The audience is in the 65 to 85 range. I certainly don't feel out of place with white hair and facial sags and thicker than I'd like middle. But I also don't know whether to identify with these people or not. Purely ego! And all ego definitions are illusions -- that' a Buddhist believe that becomes more and more appealing.
Paint Alice Neel who mostly did portraits did this self-portrait when she was in her 80s. I admire her skill her honesty and her daring. If Gloria Steiem could declare, "This is what 50 looks like," Neel showed in no uncertain germs what 80+ looks like.
Today's movie was Bonneville, a road trip flick with three great 50-ish women, Joan Allen, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates. Jessica and Joan look fantastic, slim and beautiful and blond defying their age as actresses do. Kathy is perhaps the youngest of the group but plump and never truly pretty -- just a wonderful actress who is not afraid to be the Everywoman she is, never quite forsaking her Kentucky origins in pronunciation or mannerism. It was a slight movie with a very slight message. No senior citizens there! I suppose we are able to idenify with these women who could pass for 35 because most of us let our egos get stuck at about that age. We may look senior citizen but we don't feel senior citizn, in more cases -- we eel 35 except when the arthritis acts up.
My walking place is actually a preserve, not a beach in the sense of lifeguards and lots of parking, beach chairs and sand castle builders. It is a spit of land between a long inlet and the ocean and is about a mile long. Not many people go there. At 7 or 8 in the morning the population is usually less than ten. I have only walked on the ocean side for a few weeks because the dunes and the marshy places on the inlet side have been restricted while shorebirds were nesting and hatching their young. Now only a few little areas remain restricted so this morning for the first time in a month, I walked the inlet side nearly to the end and then crossed over and returned along the ocean.
Above is the board walk which is not very long leading to both sides. And below is a bit of the inlet side which has only occasional small patches of sand, much of it pocked or pimpled with crab holes. Once in a while one can see the little crustaceans lurking at their entryway but rarely are they seen outside. Obviously they are something of a buffet for those same shore birds. The life of a tiny crab is short and probably not happy although I suspect happiness is much too abstract an idea for the few brain cells the beastie might have.
Beginning the day beside both the quiet of grasses and relatively still water and then returning beside the gentle incoming or outgoing tide of the wide inlet, growing warm in an increasingly hot sun, letting water lap at bare feet, gazing at the blues of ocean and sky, the litter of shells strewn at tide line is a peaceful, lovely way to start a day. A few walkers I meet have their Ipods in their ears. If I were going to sit a long while on the beach I might like some classical music but I prefer the wash of waves, the cries of gulls, the calls of sandpipers and plovers and the stillness into which those natural sounds punctuate the morning.
I knew Long Beach from visits over the years and when I thought of coming here to live I immediately imagined I would take such walks. Now that I have a car to drive the two miles or so, it is reality - one might say a dream come true.
In a Wellfleet gallery last week Rachel and I saw an artist's arrangement of many, many pictures of doorways, tiny 2x2 photos in 4x4 white frames, made important because they were arranged as a block of, I don't know, perhaps 100 altogether. I remarked that I have a lot of photos of doorways -- most not digital -- but could do such an arrangement. But probably won't. I have made a quilt with, I think 16 doorways. It was not very successful and I've thought of taking it apart and using the photos more attractively. Perhaps ...
Meanwhile here are three doorways from three continents, three cultures, very different. The top is a private doorway to a home in the World Heritage City of Lijiang in Yunnan Province in China. It seems to me very essentially Chinese and wonderfully inviting. Above here is an archway near the central square of Krakow, Poland, not a private doorway, those were, of course more modest and I did not photograph any in that city. But the central area totally charmed me as does this view on a Sunday morning with few people around. This s a photo I took in Wellfleet the other day. It is the entrance from a parking lot of the Winslow Tavern == the back door I believe. A very modest, very New England-y structure probably constructed 100 or 150 years ago. The others don't look as old but are definitely older. I think I'm gradually talking myself into redoing that that door quilt.
I am not a gardener and do not wish to be a gardener -- it was a chore when I was growing up -- hoeing weeds in long rows of vegetables. My mother did not grow flowers except for trying to grow dahlias, her favorite, always with little success and some frustration. I was not primed to enjoy gardening and I don't. But I like flowers, mainly on other people's property.
Now that I live in a flower rich town, I feel the need of doing my token bit since I also have a token kind of patio. There were two hooks for hanging flower pots so my Mother's Day gift was two pots of red geraniums which flowered beautifully then had a dormant spell and which are again flowering abundantly and are quite beautiful. An entirely adequate token, I think. One day Rachel arrived with a big pot holding a little tomato plant. I was told by friend, Jan, to douse it liberally in the mornings and give it Miracle-Gro every few days. I have done so. This photo was taken only about 10 days ago and as of today it is much taller and fuller and one tiny green globe promises to become a tomato as do a few yellow flowers. Actually it looks like it's going to be more ornamental than fruit bearing. But what do I know? Close to nothing. So we'll see.
"Toto, we're not in the Big Apple any more." I've joined the world of suburbia and bought a car. It's an old car but it has features that are new to me since I last owned a car -- which was 1981. The windows don't have cranks, there is a sun roof, it warns me when I'm about to leave with the key still in it and does other wonders that most car driving Americans take for granted. I have undergone various forms of culture shock, this is yet one more and I know very well I will acclimate to it very easily and speedily.
The first night I lived in NYC and left my car on the street it was broken into. It was no a good car and there was nothing in it to steal but those were the days when every morning, in the Upper West Side, one saw piles of auto glass on the street from the cars that had been broken into the night before. [This doesn't happen much any more in that part of the city.] I sold the car that week for pennies. I've used public transportation since except when I rented cards when visiting relatives Thus I have a great clean driving record on my license. I am over 65, I get discounts on my auto insurance that, naturally!, I think are well deserved. I'm sure there will be problems. Aren't there always? But it was bought for my granddaughter by my daughter and her husband and the facts they gave me about the car can be trusted which is rarely the case in buying a used car. So I'm adjusting, mentally to being a real, red-blooded, car owning American again. Boing! That's my self-perception ricochetting.
The same story as Linda Hogan's -- oil, greed, a people being destroyed by a greater power. This time, not Tibet, but the Uighurs of Xinjiang, riots in the city of Urumchi. Not greatly different from Linda Hogan's book that I just wrote about -- the Uighurs are over-run by Han Chinese in their cities, the oil makes the Chinese rich, the Uighurs are deprive of land, of their language and their religion. The iron fist of Beijing once again smashing everything in it's way. What a horrible thing to read about as I ate breakfast.
I have been reading the novel Mean Spirits, a 1990 novel by the Native American poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, Linda Hogan. This is the third novel of hers I've read. I enjoyed the other two but this one is larger both in pages and story -- far more characters, a whole town of native and white people in the Oklahoma Territory of the early 1900s a few years after oil has been discovered and many Natives have become rich and are the prey of all sorts of greedy charlatans, a kind of cabal of "upstanding" citizens not only systematically use "the law" to take over Indian lands -- so what else is new! -- but murder without compunction. Much of the story centers around Belle and Moses Graycloud, their extended family including two young girls they take care of at the request of the mother of one -- who the girls see murdered early in the novel.
As always in Hogan's novels there is a strong element of magic realism which seems not so much magical as fitting in with our [white, romanticized?] ideals about Native religion and spirituality. The book is one of the most engrossing I've read in a long time, truly a page turner. Depressing and sad but also heartening for the perseverence and strength of many characters, especially Belle Graycloud. The humanity which is never sentimentalized is powerfully moving. I'm going to spend the rest of the evening reading the last 75 pages.
R and P have gone to Washington to visit grandson #1 who is working there. They will probably see fantastic fireworks tonight and may have witnessed various patriotic parades or other events or displays today. Meanwhile, as usual, I am mostly ignoring the holiday -- I am not a holiday person. I am walking Molly, see above, a big, very shaggy aging mixed mutt. Lovable and totally doggy in her expectation of constant attention. I am a softy and feel guilty if not walking her or paying attention to her. Dust, the cat, in true cat fashion is very independent and only settles in for a bit of petting once an evening.
Molly is aging -- as are we all. I recently saw a youthful picture of her with a slim young body, now she has a matronly heft that's all too familiar to me. She is also getting a little deaf and possibly her eyesight is going. I can relate to that too. On a chat forum of women over 50 I have read, over the past year, many women mention older pets that have become disabled and had to be put down. It occurs to me that caring for an aging pet, and possibly having to deal with it's death, either natural of by choice, is one of the rites of passage for many women. Often the pets were brought into the family when children were young. Now the children are out of the nest, the pets are 10 to 20 years old and reaching the end of their lifespan. Many people at 50 still have active and healthy parents - and many parents aren't so active or healthy. The aging pet is a kind of practice for the inevitable with the parents -- not "putting them down" but often settling them into care facilities. I think this may be a fairly new phenomenon given the expanding life expectancies of both pets and people. I wonder if anybody's written a book about it.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!