Monday, August 15, 2022

Another cool morning, 56 degrees. Last night, eating dinner outdoors at our neighbor's, I wore a sweater, and now I am wearing a robe, and autumn creeps ever closer and closer.

Tom did end up working on the shed yesterday, a long day tinkering with doorframe and door, but now we have an entryway that that does not crack us in the forehead or require a sharp kick to shut. What a novelty! He estimates two more weekends of work, and I hope that's true. He needs some time off.

Meanwhile, I planted fall crops, weeded and watered, deadheaded blooms, cleaned bathrooms, made a big salad for our meal next door, and hung around Tom like a teenager watching her boyfriend work on his car.

But today we are back to our separate trails. He'll head off to the big house he's renovating. I've got to remember to bring my car to the garage for an inspection, and I've got so much editing to do, and I've got floors to clean, and my exercise class, and probably there's something else written on my calendar that I'm not remembering, and as you can see I am flustered already.

I know I haven't mentioned any national news for a while, but that doesn't mean I'm not worrying over it. Imagine a giant black pencil scribble on this page. Call it Mar-a-Lago and Salman Rushdie.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

I slept late this morning, and woke to coolness. Now towels are churning in the washer, and I have taken possession of a small cup-and-saucer of black coffee and am resting in the pleasure of a day off. Yesterday's class seemed to end very well, so that feels good, but not working also feels good. These past few work weeks have been long.

My plan today is to sow my fall crops: spinach, lettuce, arugula, radishes. Yesterday morning I made space in the garden boxes--harvesting carrots and greens, transplanting cabbages and chard--and installed the cold frame in its winter home. Today I'll plant in the clean beds, and probably do some weeding as well, maybe turn to housework in the afternoon . . . or instead I might decide to flop in the hammock and read. I'm very open to redirection.

Yesterday, while I was teaching, Tom made the shed windows, a persnickety project, but they look beautiful. Maybe he'll take today away from the job; I don't know what his plan is, but he deserves some time off. Both of us have been so busy.

Last night, before I started dinner, we went for a slow cemetery amble, talking of this and that. He makes me peaceful. I am so fond of him.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

The cat bite is healing and I'm feeling much better. What a strange little interlude. But it's mostly over now, and I am back in the saddle. This morning I'll deal with house stuff, this afternoon I'll be teaching, this evening I'll be shamelessly comma-splicing and frying fish cakes and braising the season's first kale harvest.

The late summer flowers are in their (drought-saddened) glory. The living-room mantle overflows with cosmos and zinnias, chive flowers and bachelor's buttons. And I particularly love this variety of cosmos, fragile blooms over feathery foliage, each flower like crepe paper.

The Monson Arts team is getting ready to restart the high school program this fall, so I've been working on a small description of it, to share with partner schools. Just writing it made me excited: I wish, wish, wish I'd had this chance when I was fifteen. But that is the sweet thing about my job: I can invent the class I wish I'd been able to take.

The Monson Arts high school studio program offers a cohort of talented local students the opportunity to participate in an intense, school-year-long studio experience on the campus of Monson Arts. The program has two branches: one for visual art, led by Alan Bray; one for writing, led by Dawn Potter. Both instructors are full-time working artists who will guide students into closer knowledge of what it means to make art the center of a life: helping them hone their craft, build bonds with other young artists from around the region, and become more confident about their future as creative makers.

This is a studio experience, not an academic class. It is designed for students who are self-motivated, quirky, and curious, who may or may not be classically “good at school” but have the potential to thrive in a free-wheeling, focused, creative environment.

Friday, August 12, 2022


I was having kind of a blah day--not feeling quite myself--and then the mail arrived, with a big box from my friend Mary, and inside was this gorgeous bowl made by potter Jemma Gascoine, who works up north in Monson, and look how perfectly it matches the kitchen tile! Mary's gift cheered me up so much, as did the nap I took shortly thereafter.

My blah day was the result of an infected cat bite on my arm. Ruckus got too excited about playing and sank his teeth into me, and the vampire wounds swelled up and turned colors and clearly intended to make trouble. I cleaned the bite and slathered it with antibiotic cream and talked to my doctor, etc., and the punctures are healing and the swelling is going down. But the infection fight has made my body tired, and I ended up staying home from last night's writing salon . . . I just did not have the wherewithal to make chatty conversation. Funny how something as insignificant as a minor infection can have such a whole-body impact.

I still did a ton of editing, and cooked and washed clothes and picked vegetables and rode my bike and such. It's not like I was incapacitated. Mostly I just wasn't eager for society.

I'm peppier this morning, so apparently I was correct to give in to yesterday's droopiness. And the swelling is continuing to go down on my arm, so things are progressing in the right direction. I've got another long editing day at my desk. I should grocery-shop and prep for tomorrow afternoon's class. I'll do my exercise session and water the gardens and maybe try to work on a poem draft. I'll find something to put into my beautiful new bowl. Last night I filled it with sliced peaches. Today, maybe pale green peppers.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Yesterday was strikingly cool, the temp never climbing out of the 60s, and I made leek soup and cheese biscuits for dinner and slept with a blanket pulled up to my chin. Now, an early-morning chill seeps into the house; the darkness hints at September; I begin to imagine stoking a wood stove again, and brewing hot tea.

I'm not sorry to see the brutal heat fade into the past, but I wish this autumnal turn would carry along some rain. No such fortune, however.

I never did get to writing yesterday, but I did catch up on some of the heavier outdoor chores: running the trimmer, hauling soil. This morning I hope to go for a bike ride, after I water and hang laundry, before I dip back into my editing pile. I may or may not go out to the writing salon tonight; I may or may not snatch a chance to ponder my notebook scrawls. I feel somewhat overwhelmed by work, somewhat unable to justify my own spaciousness. That will pass, I know, but for the moment I'm driven by duties.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Of course we got no more rain, but at least I had one day when I didn't have to water. Sigh.

And at least today will be cool. Open windows and hushed fans. Clouds and fog.

I have been working steadily at my desk, and making decent progress, so I may quit the editing early today and do some writing and gardening instead. Till now, it's been too hot to get much done outside, other than watering and harvesting, and I have soil to haul and weeding to do and other such sweaty chores to put behind me. Likewise, I have a notebook full of scribbles that I should start combing into drafts.

I've been reading T. S. Eliot, without much joy; finishing Austen's Pride and Prejudice for the hundred thousandth time, browsing here and there in Roger Angell's baseball essays. I've been picking beans and eggplants and tomatoes and peppers and so much basil. I've got two new poems out in On the Seawall, alongside a review of Phillip B. Williams's latest collection. (I just taught with him at the Frost Place Seminar, so that was a nice surprise.) I wore a new dress to get my hair cut, for no other reason than because I had a new dress.

I am 57 years old and still get a charge out of a new dress. I hope that never changes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

It rained last night, and I can hear the sounds of dripping from trees and roof, though the sun isn't up yet so I can't see how wet anything actually is. Still, the drips are promising, as is the possibility of more scattered rain today. Every little downpour is precious. My tomatoes are half their accustomed height, and already beginning to yellow. The potatoes never flowered before their foliage began fading away. The shallow-rooted vegetables do better because my daily watering revives them, but the deep-rooted plants are suffering. I can keep them alive but they don't flourish.

Whatever our rain situation turns out to be, we clearly are going to have a damp and sticky day. Briefly, yesterday, the temperature dropped and the humidity lifted and I found myself wondering if I was going to have to remember what a long-sleeved shirt felt like. But that was short-lived; already we are back in the thick.

For the moment, though, the air machine is hushed and the windows are open, and the cicadas are creaking invisibly in the trees. I'll be editing again today, getting a haircut this afternoon, not hanging laundry on the outside lines, maybe not even watering the garden. What a vacation! . . . I am so sick of that hose.

Last night I made the most delicious salad: chunks of roasted eggplant, steamed green beans, slices of fresh tomato, seared shishito peppers, arugula, cilantro, olive oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper. A dream of summer, in a big pottery bowl.

Even in a drought I have a garden of delights--though the delights are very hard work this year.