Thursday, March 23, 2023

Yesterday was the first day of spring chores. I spent an hour or so in the afternoon picking up sticks, then pruned rosebushes, the clematis vine, and the little summersweet shrubs. Today it's supposed to rain, but if it doesn't, I'll do some raking. It felt so good to be outside, peering under leaves, checking on new growth, celebrating how much the crocuses have spread in the backyard, worrying a little about the garden near the cut-down tree, which was rather trampled by arborists. I love, love, love spring gardening. Every day is a new excitement.

Today, back to ye olde desk, but tonight, instead of going to my poetry salon, I'm going to the opening of T's photo show, at Cove Street Arts, here in Portland. His pieces are all studio portraits of trash he picked out of our roadside ditch in Harmony. I find them very beautiful and often comic and always sad and ominous. 

Otherwise, what have I been doing? Trying to reacclimate myself to home, fiddling with a poem draft, fretting about the obligations of national poetry month, reading Lincoln in the Bardo and feeling intensely sad, listening to spring-training baseball while making curry, wishing wishing wishing in a heartstring kind of way . . . wishing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Yesterday was so tedious--chore after chore after chore--that I almost bailed and didn't go to my poetry group in the evening. But then I thought better of it, and went anyway, which turned out to be a good decision, as at least I ended the day feeling as if I had some carbonation in my bloodstream.

Today I'll reprise some of that tedium, but I got the house stuff out of my hair; so once I finish work, I can go outside and inaugurate spring with some rosebush pruning and stick gathering and leaf raking . . . which sounds like doing chores but will be much more satisfying. At this time of the year, even picking up sticks has its delights . . . fresh air, new blooms, outdoor cat hilarity, and the simple physical release of bending and lifting.

My arugula has sprouted in the cold frame--speckles of green in black soil. Three crocuses have opened in the garden. I cut the first green onion and garlic chive sprouts. This weekend I think I'll be able to plant radishes. Spring has arrived in the little northern city by the sea . . . unless winter decides that it hasn't.

Meanwhile, I am rereading Saunders's Lincoln in the Bardo, reading Baron Wormser's poetry collection The History Hotel for the first time, still pecking away at Donne poems, fretting about the upcoming classes I need to prep for, reminding myself to make chicken curry for dinner . . . my little Chicago vacation is fading away under the obligations of the day, but the good feeling remains, the dear children, the cold wind against my knees, three fat cats staring at me benignly and a stage filled with dancers, the painful, glorious beauty of bodies in motion . . .

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

 I write to you from my everyday couch corner in my little living room in my little house in my little city by the sea. My trip to Chicago was everything I'd hoped it would be: intense and easy time with my young people, a stunning experience at the ballet, lots of unplanned meandering, delicious meals, and, to top off the fine weekend, my brain sparked a thesis for the essay I'm getting ready to write. If I tell you that my suitcase was the very first one off the luggage carousel in Boston, you will understand that good luck has indeed been fluttering over me.

Today I must return to the regular old world, sadly bereft of sons and their beautiful friends, and with far too much housework and desk work stacked up and waiting for me. On the other hand, the snow has disappeared from my garden, and my cat and my husband and my bed were glad to see me, and I have nothing to complain about, not one thing to complain about.

Monday, March 20, 2023

 Just a quick note . . . I am in the airport waiting for my flight east. Talk to you tomorrow.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

 It was so cold in Chicago yesterday--windy, in the teens for much of the morning, and then warming to an un-warming 25 or so. So J decided we should go to the Garfield Park Conservatory and wander around the 1910s-era greenhouses . . . palms and giant ferns and exotic flame-colored ground covers and and breadfruit trees and mangroves and, unexpectedly, a room stuffed with every-color azaleas and daffodils and roses and daisies and tulips, an artificial temperate spring, very hallucinatory, especially when combined with the snow squall that smacked us in the face as soon as we opened the outside door.

This trip has been everything I hope it would be: loosely planned activities, lots of walking and unexpected conversations, varieties of delicious food (so far, an avocado, kale, and egg bagel sandwich made by the kids; a fantastic meat and pickled-veg sandwich from an long-established Italian deli; very spicy Thai takeout from around the corner), Scrabble and card games and chatter and cat goofiness. It has been so cozy and comfortable, and also very, very much like not being at work.

This afternoon: the ballet. Tonight: 5 Rabinitos, my very favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant. In between times, reading and reading and playing with cats and mooning out the window and reading some more and being so glad I'm here.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

I write to you from the wilds of Chicago, where it is 6:30 a.m. and my body is highly confused by the combination of daylight savings and central time. Currently a cat named Krusty is attempting to walk on my head, so pardon any typos. From my window I see dark gray clouds scudding across a pale gray sky; I see the brick chimney of a sausage factory, the backs of row houses, a line of bare trees twitching in a cold wind. It's very cold here--13 degrees--and last night, as we walked through the neighborhood, the breeze tore up pant legs and down collars, and British meat pies for dinner seemed like manna.

Today I think we're going to the Garfield Park Conservatory, just so we can see some green and pretend our boots aren't full of ice. Otherwise, I have no idea what we'll be doing, and that is fine. I'm just so glad to be here, even if this cat is treating me like a yoga mat.

Friday, March 17, 2023

This morning I take off on my brief adventure . . . first, a bus to Boston, then a plane to Chicago, and then J will meet me at the airport and we will be so glad to see each other!

Yesterday was so messy and disorganized, but I did manage to mostly get my packing done . . . though I have yet to stow the extremely heavy scavenged doorknob sets that Tom is sending to J for his apartment renovation. This is what happens when you are the liaison between two builders with a penchant for free stuff: you have to drag lock sets through airports. Let us hope that TSA doesn't get all hot and bothered about them.

I still have not yet finished the most important, and difficult, element of packing: how many books shall I bring? So far I have three: two collections of poetry (Teresa's and Baron's, because I'm going to be writing about them), plus the Saunders book I've been reading. But poetry books are short, and I'm two-thirds of the way through the Saunders, and what if I run out of things to read??? This is always my horror story, and so, of course, I always bring too many books, and my family members always roll their eyes and make pointed jokes about it.

But, honestly. Running out of things to read?? What a terrible idea.

It's supposed to be cold in Chicago, a low of 14, I'm sorry to say, but I intend to do all of the things anyway . . . whatever they are, as the only plan I've made is to see the Joffrey Ballet on Sunday. Mostly I'm just excited to be with J, in his new place. And I love Chicago . . . the flat streets, the brick buildings painted with Mexican-style murals, the strange sunken yards, the alleys and their pigeons, the mysterious Catholic icon stores with the display windows blurred like broken eyeglasses, the rattling El lines, the puzzling empty lots and the occasional rooster crow, the skyline of chimneys and the haze of downtown, midnight bursts of mariachi, the air filled with languages I don't speak, and then the lake, gray and pancake-flat, lapping at the feet of the city.