WEEK 21

Photos to be added later – computer problems persists

 May 21, 2017 – SUNDAY

Photo of new blue shoes

Steps: Summer heat. I put on sandals or walk in my bare feet. Saturday two girls walked across the stage to get their diploma in bare feet. Michael said he wondered what that was about. I said it was a celebration or perhaps a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the epicenter of which was only a few blocks away from the university in Golden Gate Park. (Or it might be a statement that the cost of the degree has left them shoeless and in debt!)

I bought shoes for this summer, blue shoes, and both my new blue sandals and blue Paul Green dressy shoes are comfortable and stylish. My feet are stylish outside of the house. We remove our shoes on entering, and some individuals when visiting bring along their slippers. I tell visitors they do not have to remove their street shoes, but many do. Our gardening shoes are just outside our front door. I suppose that declares our habit. My mother had the entire family remove shoes prior to entering the living area of the house. Shoes were all right on the landing and in the basement, but not inside of the house. The practice of removing shoes makes for less gritty floors whose surfaces stay nice longer. When I visited the farmhouses of relatives, there was a ‘mud room’ with a dipper in a pail of cool water and on the floor field shoes in a long line, left there prior to entering the home. I wonder how many centuries the tradition has existed in my family. Shoes are for the wide world and slippers or bare feet for the house.

May 22, 2017 – MONDAY

Photo of flower-flame

Flaming beauty:   Ringling Brothers Circus is no more, and soon those who remember it gone too. Memories of my sister Lois are waking me early. JM has been grading student papers for days, grading all day long. He reads them carefully, comments on them and comments more. He thinks that most students take no note of what he has done. He is likely correct. JM is funny and clever and sometimes I think I should walk notebook and pen in hand when talking to him because funny, thoughtful things roll off his tongue, but I laugh or comment or both, and soon forget his specific cleverness. Life moves swiftly, my recall is limited and if I don’t write it down, its gone!

In late afternoon Michael and I sat on the back patio with our gin and tonics. It’s a restful way to end a busy day. Our dear Raleigh, North Carolina, neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Morse, every afternoon relaxed on their deck each consuming a single cocktail. With drink in hand, we think of them, long dead, and wish that when we moved to Atlanta we would not have lost contact. Mrs. Morse died weeks after we moved. Tom Morse visited us in Atlanta, but he moved, then remarried, and we never saw him again. Tom had been a landscape architect and tried to convince me that, with my biology degree, I should enter his field. Perhaps I should have followed his suggestion. He critiqued and made suggestions on my application to architecture school, but as much as he liked my building designs, he kept encouraging me to become a landscape architect. I, lover of nature, should ‘design with nature’ and create parks, not buildings. He had loved his work. He had been the head of North Carolina State Parks system and later oversaw for the Federal Government the parks on North Carolina’s coast. He told us how he hated the Army Corps of Engineers and claimed that one of his big accomplishments was keeping them out of the state or limiting the projects they did in the state. Mr. Morse started a study of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a study that took several decades to come to a definitive conclusion. That long study revealed that the Outer Banks were basically ocean sand dunes, dunes made to move, to form and re-form and that meant they should not be built on. Dunes would move, and there was nothing that could be done to stop the movement. Any such project would ultimately fail. Nature was enduring. Structures would be destroyed, roads would be washed away and picking a fight with nature was pointless.

Some days seem pointless. In the end, time, nature claims all. I look over the fence, down the hill and there blazing away a flower, bright orange and yellow, a torch of a flower, especially in low sun. The yellow and orange nasturtiums with their glowing leaves cover the lower hill. Life may be short, but beauty lies within it.

May 23, 2017 – TUESDAY

Photo of leeks in sink

Leek-it: Shakespeare made fun of Welsh and their love of leeks. I’m not Welsh but use leeks, lots of them. They are almost always included in the ‘sacrificial vegetables’ I use in making stocks. Recently I made a leek dish for a party, one that I had made often, but the exact same recipe, delicious when made for family consumption, when made for visitors was stringy and inedible. Tonight I tried a recipe similar to my last failed leek dish, but this recipe called for leeks to be simmered in water for eight minutes prior to grilling. If leeks are young enough, the simmering step is unnecessary, but not growing leeks myself, I can’t count on a tender bulb. Our dinner leeks were charred, tender and not fibrous. They were also delicious. Next time I make them, I’ll include the boiling step in the preparation. The boiling step means I can once again, like the Welsh, serve the vegetable to company.

May 24, 2017 – WEDNESDAY

Photo of Charley & Halima

Joy in the morning: I smile at them and JM says their mouths seem to him in a perpetual smile. Our cats delight me. Oskar, naughty boy that he is, always asking for food. Charley seems at times happy and at times grumpy, but Halima seems constantly happy. Halima will sit in our laps in any room of the house, except in the bedroom because Oskar is almost certainly to chase her out of his room, the room where he will sit on JM’s lap. Halima is happy this morning because Charley is letting her curl up next to him. They lick one another and snuggle tight one against the other. Halima follows Charley around the house. She loves us, but she loves Charley more, big Viking cat that he is.

May 25, 2017 – THURSDAY

Photo of handouts

The readying: We are to leave this weekend for a vacation in the Southwest. We are not ready, not nearly ready. This year is Michael’s turn to plan the trip. He has been busy, has done some preparation, but we’ve not talked about the plans yet. It will be a surprise to me and likely a surprise for him also. We had lunch at Dopo’s and talked about mostly caring for our cats, but Michael T. knows of cats and particularly of our cats, but he wanted a refresher nonetheless. I’m to make my list of instructions just in case he forgets something. Our cats like him and even our shy Halima welcomed him when he entered the house. They like Michael T. and when he stays with them, they seem hardly to miss us.

JM is finishing up his grades for the semester, and I am doing the last minute running around that needs to be done in preparation for our exit. Leaving our comfortable home is always anxious-making, but there is much to be seen in the larger world, things that can only be done sans cats. And in preparing for our leaving, we printed out another 500 flyers to save our farmers market and another 110 petitions. I hate that we’ll not be here to let people know of the threat to our great market, but as they say, “It is as it is.” And we start our preparation to leave.

May 26, 2017 – FRIDAY

Photos of dresses Mom made for my doll

Ghosts: “Ghosts are real.” Michael said of my waking early again this morning and continued, “People live in our minds and that part of them is real, is lingering, is the ghost of them.” Why the tears in my eyes when I woke up? They are, I suspect for the Lois whom I miss, for the life she should have lived and for the one she did. I found two dresses Mother made for my Betsy-Wetsy doll given to me the Christmas after Lois was born. The doll and her bottle long gone. I think the rubber Betsy deteriorated, but the clothes, the christening gown and an everyday dress Mother made for Betsy, still among my possessions. I miss Father and Mother and Lois. I remember childhood, my parents and my immediate family. Half of us now dead.

And tonight a wonderful dinner with our friend Caroline at a small Italian restaurant where he had watermelon salad; aged beef tartare; an antipasti platter; pastas of duck, mushrooms and wild boar; a bottle of red wine; coffee; and dessert. It is the most pleasant meal I have had since learning of Lois’ death. I miss her. She would have enjoyed hearing of the special meal. I welcomed a new focus. My day, until the meal, one of overwhelming sadness and tears.

May 27, 2017 – SATURDAY

Photo of market

Ready or not: We spent hours this morning handing out ‘save the market flyers’ at our farmers market. JM and I handed out hundreds of flyers. What we love, a few hate and would destroy if they could, so although we could use the time to prepare for our trip, we have spent time trying to keep an asset we think invaluable to our neighborhood and the City of Oakland.

Our suitcases are packed. We are to leave tomorrow, so this evening we stroke and talk to our cats. We will miss them, but our friend Michael T., a cat lover, will give them good care. They are lucky, as are we, to have someone who will look after them well.

Michael will not teach in China for a month this Summer as for awhile seemed possible. It would have been exciting, but demanding as well. It’s been a sad Spring and we both welcome a break, a chance to relax.