The spring social season on Marston Hill Road came to an official end yesterday: we transported Ara and Natty to the Manchester airport to return to the left coast. They had been in Africa, Turkey and Eastern Europe for 3 months and then on the East Coast for a couple of weeks and now go to ground to look for work; ground is Natty's bedroom in her parents San Pedro home. Natty is an accountant with a certificate in fraud detection, and Ara seems likely to follow the trend from plain vanilla bookkeeping to the dark forensic side.. A job much in demand these days: the mandate is to shine a sane light on the banksters, princes of Ponzi, thieves, cheats and plutocrats that have been, and still are, hollowing out the economy - not to mention the middle class. I think the part where they get attached to lamp posts is someone else's responsibility. Watch your local paper for the volunteer signup list.
The visit went really well until the last evening. I had been on my best behavior, tongue checking with brain in a constant anti-blurting feedback loop, and then I blew it in one of my hypomanic "what in the world are you doing!??!!" moments. I hate it when my brain disconnects in a moment of pure uninhibited action, but it happens. I was looking for the freshly made lime cheesecake when Ara stated that they had already had it. I did what any hungry, slighted, proactive man would do: I turned my back on him, dropped my shorts and gave him the full dad's-hairy-butt moonshot. It was simply unfortunate that Natty was sitting next to him on the couch.
I have to explain that Ara has from the cradle been the family's "born republican". How a child of mine came to be a suit-wearing bean counter with a 'let's get organized' and 'let's be neat' credo is beyond me. He certainly wasn't raised that way; I take it to be a certain indication of the strength of genetic determination. His girl friend is probably even more middle class than he is. In short, I may seem a little 'different' to her, even though I am myself a pillar of the middle class bourgy - bourgeois - lifestyle.. Ara takes me with a grain of salt, putting up with me nicely, but all the time quietly hoping I won't do anything really embarrassing. So, I mooned the lucky couple, and Pat, and there were some gasps, maybe a groan. Pat took me to task, albeit mildly, and said I had gone too far. She was right; I had. I can truly identity with folks who end up in prison due to one completely thoughtless, seemingly inexplicable, act that happens to constitute a felony. The feckless urge that leads to disaster seems an easy road to walk. I can say with them "we don't know what happened; we were temporarily not home; we didn't mean any harm...." The list goes on; for those who are really unlucky so does the prison sentence. It can be a devastatingly wrong-time/wrong-place world. It is sooooo hard to be on your guard, i.e. best behavior, all the time. The life of the recluse is much the safest.
Quickly realizing my gross, very cheeky, faux pas I slunk off into the back room to hide. Pat and Ara took turns telling me it was okay, no one was really offended, I shouldn't feel so bad. But I did feel bad. If you are prone to doing or saying things from an occasional state devoid of propriety and reason then you will understand how it can feel like a loss of control when you err to the clown-side. Life is not simple when dealing with people, especially people who you don't really know. I had acted as if it were Zoe sitting on the couch; she wouldn't have blinked an eye at dad's antics. So, my mooning-incident rolled over from outrageous and inappropriate to endearing and cute as the evening wore on, but I didn't feel any better. Getting let off the hook didn't really change how I was feeling. By the next day when we went to the airport I was more my old loosely constructed, but closely self-monitored, self and the visit ended well.
On another very social note Pat has asked for two weeks in the Bay Area for her b-day this year. We leave on 14 May and return on 28 May and will stay in a little hotel in Alameda, the town where she grew up, and have a car to get around to the various kids and grandkids, all of who live in nearby cities. Pat is very jazzed. She is making a list of all her favorite Bay Areas eateries and trying to figure out how we can hit every one by doing both lunch and dinner on the town daily. Baby Jack is high on the list, too. She hasn't seen him in almost 6 months and yearns to smell his milky breath. We receive pics via email that indicate he is growing like a weed - or maybe a carnation given his lush Irish helmet.
I have been true to my intent and taken Pat to numerous musical events. Some, like Renee Fleming and Joan Baez, both in Portland, are a bit dear, but the more local venues are a great bargain. We saw Red Molly the other night, and I would suggest anyone liking saucy girls with great musical talent and wonderful harmonies to look for them. They play mainly in the N.E. but do have a great new CD, Love and Other Tragedies.
On the home-front all slides nicely toward summer. Last of the snow left about mid-April, just as the woods frogs started tuning up in the vernal ponds. I understand the salamanders and newts are on the move and seeking amphibian ambient temperature sex; on cooler days they just lay around and consider tomorrow's possibilities, which should be good as we are getting up into the 70s now and again.
My plantings in the greenhouse are going gangbusters. The problem now is keeping them cool. On a 70f day the greenhouse can get up to 100f inside. That is even with all the roof and sidewall vents, and the double doors wide open. The cooling options seem to be an intake fan to force cooler air in so the hot will fly out the roof vents, and maybe a misting/fogging system. I have feelers out to the experts and await their advice on where to put my cash. Built two more 7'x4' planter boxes and now have over 160 ft2 of rich, dark dirt to drop seeds into. This season will help us decide a future planting schedule. The peas, kale, carrots, broccoli and lettuce need to go in earlier next year; February would probably be good. The carrots Pat put in last October wintered over and are getting big. Now seems to be the time to put in the rest of the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. I am keeping a garden-diary as I could never track all this without it.
Speaking of which, where to put cash, we are finally getting the old curly roof replaced. The guys have been up topside banging and scraping for about three days; the dogs are getting used to it and barking less. I am so pleased to know that I will have a roof that will probably outlive me; I think I have aspired toward such a state since childhood. You never outlive wanting to be warm and dry.....and maybe to dunk Oreos in a glass of cold milk.
Out in the garden I got in a good tilling between rains and have put up the poles and cross pieces for the 20 red raspberry bushes arriving in about ten days. The blueberries are all pruned, but I need to get the trenches ready for the 50 purple asparagus plants; they will arrive with the raspberries. The whole lot is coming from Nourse Farms. Nothing else will go into the ground before June. Warm soil is the key to happy veggies.
Slabs are getting poured around the chicken coop and a wrap-around porch roof will go on three sides. Every winter I come up with something more I can do to make snow clearance simpler. We may put out little rocking chairs on the porch for the older hens.
Waldo and Shay seem a bit stiffer each day. We have put runners down in the halls as Shay simply cannot navigate on slick surfaces; her back end slides away from her and she cannot get up again. Waldo fares a bit better but has trouble with stairs. The warm weather is a great kindness to them as they can lie in the sun and ease their joints some. I can forsee next winter being a very difficult time. It occurs to me that I have never had old dogs before; something always seemed to happen to them before we got to this stage. That isn't quite true; Blue got old, even her mind, but the boxer kids still think they are pups and do foolish running and jumping things and then suffer later. Not an ounce of sense between them.
The "editor" has officially approved this letter, and in miserly fashion declines to add some of her own sought-after commentary. So, I post this off into the aether and hope everyone receiving a copy is well enough and sort of happy. don e and familiars.