Tuesday, April 30, 2019

I stole some time yesterday afternoon and starting playing with the material I'd gleaned from my visit to the archive last week. In the library I'd been copying out sentences from an almost unreadable 1868 diary; and as I worked, my brain automatically kept filling in words that I couldn't quite read. As a result, I found myself inhabiting the syntax, grammar, tone, and style of this diarist's writing, but surprising myself with strange imagery or peculiar adjectives, which nonetheless seemed to reflect the writer . . .  even clarify her in some way.

So yesterday, as I fiddled with this hybrid material, I found myself stitching my copied sentences into small poems that sound like sort of like dejected sewing samplers. I'm beginning to get excited about the possibilities of this mis-copying project, and very sad about the life of this lonesome diarist.

On another subject: just to be fair, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of the ugly backyard. Here is my compost pile, some old two-by-fours that will go under the future woodpile, and some scraggy weeds.

And here's the clothesline. I appear to be the only person in the neighborhood who hangs out clothes.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Today will be one of those doctor's-appointment-at-an-awkward-time, hard-to-get-work-done days, but at least it will be sunny. It might also be the first grass mow of the season, but we'll see what transpires with the rest of my hours. Already this morning I've been rapidly trying to design a possible weekend writing retreat, planning for the class I'm currently immersed in teaching, cogitating about the Monson sessions, organizing my Frost Place thoughts, and I haven't even gotten dressed yet.  If things stay this busy, I may soon be showing up in your classroom in my red bathrobe. Please make sure the coffeepot is full.

Progress of spring: Tulips opening, as are a few scant daffodils. Compost pile turned and raked. Old collapsing firewood racks torn apart. Fence no longer falling down. Wildflower seeds planted along the backyard edges.  Dahlias roots planted along the front sidewalk. Male cardinal caroling Cheer Cheer in an ash sapling. Poem brewing behind my eyes, under my fingers, along the ripples of my throat.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

I spent yesterday planting sprigs of creeping thyme among the stones of the newly unearthed front walkway, edging and reshaping the front flower beds, and then moving blueberry bushes so that they now line one side of the walk. The discovery of this walk has entirely changed our notion of the front gardens, mostly in a good way, though digging it up was garden bootcamp. Still, it's gratifying to be a 54-year-old woman with enough stamina and strength to spend all day lugging rocks, wood, and sod. Homesteading may not be an elegant sport, yet it's not an amble in the park either. Apparently, I don't require 40 acres of forest in order to be covered in mud.

Today, housework. And then I'll go outside and consolidate the compost pile and start preparing a spot for the two cords of firewood that will be arriving in a couple of weeks. This slow, wet, cold spring is aggravating as far as planting goes, but it's giving me plenty of time to do my less delightful chores.

The dates are set for my upcoming 24PearlStreet class: Revision and Re-Vision: An 8-Week Master Class on Generating and Revising Poems, beginning on July 8 and running through August 30. There is a discount available: Through May 17, you can get 15 percent off tuition with code EARLYSUMMER. After May 17, you can get 10 percent off with code SUMMER19.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Such a wild night . . . gale, pelting rain, jolts of thunder and lightning from dusk till dawn. My bedroom felt like a twig nest at the top of a spruce tree.

Now, in the faint morning, the world beyond the sodden window screens is pale and scrubbed. But when I let the cat out the back door, a warm breath of air stirred, and everywhere birds were singing insatiably.

The day looms, unplanned. The gardens are mud. A small pond lingers under the clothesline. The stones on the newly discovered front walk are washed clean, and gulls are circling and shrieking over the cove.

I should walk down to the marsh edge and watch the egrets stand on one leg. I should stomp in a puddle. I should crouch on a garden path and marvel at the pea shoots bursting through the clods.

I should.

Friday, April 26, 2019

I had many chores on my to-do list yesterday. One chore that was not on my list was "excavate the front yard to see what's going on with these randomly placed slates tangled with weeds that are so difficult to mow around." Nonetheless, instead of planting or raking or moving firewood, I spent about four hours scraping, peeling back sod, filling the wheelbarrow with 10 loads of detritus, and covering my hands with blisters, all for the sake of this:

Yes, it appears that many years ago Fred Flinstone laid a broad front walkway, which like so many things on this little property was subsequently ignored and forgotten. Now I can't say I'm in love with Fred's design strategy, but it's what I've got to work with. So I'm going to buy many flats of creeping thyme, fill the mud gaps with them, and voila: we'll have a slightly less awful front path.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Finally, sunshine! I'm hoping to snatch most of the afternoon to edge beds, go plant shopping, sow seeds, dry laundry, before the rains ramp up again tomorrow. Already the Neighborhood Brats are pouncing and rolling in the bright morning air. Squirrels are shinnying up fenceposts, and a flock of robins mines for worms in the fresh wet soil. I am itching to get outside.

In other news: the administrators at 24PearlStreet have asked me to lead another 8-week poetry masterclass, beginning in late summer. I'll keep you posted about dates, in case you might be interested in spending a few intense weeks with me honing your craft.

Otherwise, same old, same old. I'll be making falafel and pita all evening. I'll be digging in the dirt all afternoon. I'll be mucking around with words all morning.
And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that's gone astray, and is lost. 
--from D. H. Lawrence, "The Enkindled Spring"

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

I told you a month or so ago that I've been asked to design and lead a student writing program in Piscataquis Country during this upcoming school year. The organization I'll be working for is Monson Arts, a new arts center in central Maine that offers month-long residencies, shorter workshops, and community programs. The director is Stuart Kestenbaum, who led Haystack Mountain School of Crafts for many years and also happens to be our state poet laureate.

I've known Stu for a long time, and taught for him occasionally at Haystack. But this venture is a different kettle of smelts. His vision for the experiment is an intense mentoring situation for twenty young writers and twenty young visual artists. He wants the atmosphere to be anti-classroom: that is, for students to exist inside art as vocation, not art as school subject. He doesn't want me to write out a detailed curriculum or meet state learning goals. He wants me to show students what it feels like to be a poet.

The painter Alan Bray will be leading the visual arts branch of the endeavor. Alan was born in Monson and still lives locally, but his work is internationally renowned. Working alongside him on this project is a huge honor.

So there you have it: an amazing, impossible job. My heart is racing.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Here, in the land of rain, the dandelion greens grow thick in the front yards and thus will be harvested for dinner. Radish, lettuce, peas are sprouting. So are maple seedlings: the beds are littered with their jaunty flags.

Today: editing, a phone conference about a job, and then I am walking up to the archive to sit with other women's stories for an hour or so . . . to frame a space for thought, to let someone else's words filter into the structure of my worry, to smell the strike of a match.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter was a quiet day. I went for a long walk in the fog and then cleaned the house. Tom worked at his desk and then went for a long walk in the drizzle. I listened to baseball on the radio and folded towels. For dinner I made rack of lamb, roasted potatoes and asparagus, chocolate angel-food cake with strawberries. We sat under a couch blanket and watched Brief Encounter.

The slow rain continues--spatter and lull, spatter and lull, as sea fog tumbles over the rooftops. Street lamps blur the air like paintings. A poem draft is rising in my throat.

Outside the kitchen door, white flowers glow against stone. A white cat hunches on the stairs. The day holds its breath, but the birds are already singing.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Ghosts rise from the sodden earth, and the air is weighted with mist. It is Easter, it is a spring rain, it is a comma splice in the sentence of the year.

There are no children in this house anymore . . . no eggs or bunnies or jellybeans for breakfast. And I was never much of a churchgoer. Still, I am shaken, always, by spring. Life transparent over death. The wrench of return. The shock of color, of scent. The pagan roil of breath and bone, stalk and leaf.

I want to say more, but spring is a stark season. Sentiment is a luxury; she will not stomach such babbling. She requires her pound of flesh. The dead lamb in the straw, streaked with its mother's blood. The deserted egg rotting in the nest. The season demands its silences.

Spring is a Greek play, vivid and inexorable. The sap rises in our limbs. In frenzy, we murder our sons.

Easter is the church's gilding. Now the proscenium glows, and the scrim blurs. It is easy to forget the gods. But there they are. And they shrug.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Yesterday was an unexpected weather gift: warm, humid, rainless. While Tom painted trim in the kitchen, I walked to yoga; I walked to the market. I planted kohlrabi and fennel seedlings. I composed a lesson on poem revision. I finished editing a book chapter. Later I sat in my new courtyard and drank tea and read a book. I listened to a baseball game and made dinner.

Now the showers have finally moved in, but the air is still heavy and warm. This will be a good rain.

I've got a poem out today in the Maine Arts Journal--one featuring a minor character in Beowulf.  I was sad when I wrote it, and it makes me sad again every time I reread it.

Friday, April 19, 2019

We're entering a long stretch of drizzle and fog, with no sun forecast till next Wednesday. I was planning to spend the afternoon in the archive, but maybe I should plant instead. It's hard to tell how easy it will be to work outside this weekend.

For now, no rain, but the air is weighted with wet, and swales of fog drape the roofs and steeples. Island weather.

I'm feeling slightly out of sorts, both restless and tired. I haven't yet shaken that cold, or else it's morphing into allergies. In any case, my skull feels kind of like how the sky looks.

But the tulips are budding. White crocuses gleam against black soil. Dogs pause on their walks, lifting their muzzles to breathe in the rich stink of spring.

Today I'll be teaching an Elizabeth Bishop poem, editing a few footnotes, maybe beginning to mull comments on a Euripides translation. I'll look up from my desk and down into my muddy backyard-- at my three hopeful pots of pansies, at the fat woodchuck grazing on last fall's maple seeds, and then beyond, into a clutter of other yards, cars, roofs, porches, and beyond again, to the freight train growling and rumbling north. Sometimes it is hard, still, to remember I need to live here.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

. . . and here is the new courtyard with its first load of gravel--actually marble chips. I've got more ground prep to do before I can spread chips over the entire area, but already the difference is startling. Just days ago this place was a wasteland. Tom's going to build a planter to set where the driveway meets the gravel, and I'll put some kind of annual grass in it to serve as a screen. But last night we drank our first evening beers in our new sitting room, and even in its raw and exposed state it was sweet.

Today: work as usual, but this evening I have a reading around the corner at the Burbank Library on Stevens Avenue, 6:30-8 p.m., featuring a few contributors to Balancing Act 2: An Anthology of Poems by 50 Maine Women. Stop in if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

I've been mulling over a new research project: a delve into the archives of a few local, more or less unknown writers in hopes of developing an imaginative response to their creative lives. I'm thinking of the project as an extension of a small poem I wrote a couple of years ago, the one titled "Disappointed Women." It's going to have to be a slow project, as I won't have much time to loaf around in the library that holds these materials. But there's no rush either. And the project may morph into something else altogether. Who knows?

Anyway, I'm enjoying the sensation of a new mystery.

Today will be cool and sunny, and Tom and I are going on a gravel-shopping date after work. He has gotten just as interested in our little courtyard as I have, and has decided that we can afford some gravel to finish the groundwork. Such is middle-aged romance: an evening spent studying bags of rocks at Lowes. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

I've never been to Paris, but I've been to Canterbury Cathedral and York Minster and St. Paul's, and to the great churches of Rome. Walking into these ancient vaulted places, I always, immediately, felt the enormous emotional pressure they exert . . . an active, startling, wrenching olio of history, faith, awe, and private tale. Pregnant with my first child, I sat in Canterbury Cathedral with my mother, and we wept as an orchestra and chorus went through a dress rehearsal of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. To be inside such greatness--place synthesized with music . . . to have this small unknown child with us: the tears poured down our faces.

All this is to say, O Notre Dame.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Here are two views of this weekend's reclamation project: a new bed carved from a driveway waste area. We are working to transform this dead zone into a small courtyard. Eventually there will be a deck wrapping from the side of the house to the back. Eventually there will some kind of hardscape path instead of packed dirt and shards of asphalt. Eventually I'll reclaim the rest of the vacant ugliness fronting the stone wall. But this is what we've manage to accomplish for a total of $100. The wood of the boxes was scavenged from a job site. The brick edging was left in the yard as junk. The only thing I bought was the soil. We are working on the cheap in this yard, but every wheelbarrow-load helps.

I'm going to plant sedum and speedwell and various other shallow-rooted rock-garden plants in the new bed. Beneath it lies a mess of ancient driveway and some giant tree roots, so my choices will be limited. But already the improvement is startling.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Yesterday morning, I ventured out to mall-land and bought four folding chairs and a small table. As soon as I set them up in the yard, Jack and Ruckus each climbed onto a chair and sat facing each other across the table as if they were waiting for tea. Eventually they left and I was allowed to sit down.

Given that we previously had zero places to sit in the yard, this feels like a significant advance. Now that I live in a place without blackflies or deerflies or clouds of mosquitoes, I'd like to loaf around and enjoy it even when I'm not actively hanging laundry or digging out weeds. The front yard has a patch of grass and full sun and no privacy. The backyard is bare dirt with deep summer shade and no privacy. Given that privacy is not an option in either yard, I plan to get used to doing without it. But the only way to deal quickly and cheaply with the ugly backyard is to decorate it like a dorm room (e.g., with the backyard equivalent of India-print wall hangings and posters of Joe Strummer and milk-crate bookcases). In other words: lots and lots of flowers in movable pots, a table made out of a wire basket, and chairs artfully faced away from the tumbledown shed.

Yesterday I planted the first of my garden boxes: lettuce, arugula, beets, and carrots. The one next to it will have kohlrabi, fennel, and chard, but I'm once again out of cat-barrier panels so I need to wait till I acquire more before I put in any more seeds. That means I'll be back to dirt moving today, and maybe some rock moving. Meanwhile, Tom's been finishing the trim in the downstairs bathroom and caulking and doing other prep for painting. But we did manage to walk around the corner to the new neighborhood taco restaurant last night, and then mosey down to Back Cove for a look at the evening tide. The air was soft; daylight lingered; we strolled arm in arm chattering about this and that. Happy spring to you too.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

It's drizzling presently, but temperatures are already in the mid-40s and are forecast to climb into the misty 60s: a fine Saturday for reducing a mud pile. I, however, am recovering from an insomniac night so am not full of enthusiasm about hard work. Perhaps the coffee will mend that attitude.

For now I'm sitting in the darkened living room, watching day unroll through the clouds. Specks of color dot the brown yard: crocuses, scylla, hyacinths, spikes of daffodils, sprawling tulip leaves. Buds swell on the trees and shrubs, and a haze of green rises from beneath the dead grass blades. Everything is still very new.

I've been reading a Robertson Davies's novel, copying out the Inferno, working to keep up with teaching and editing--not writing much, though I'm hip-deep in words. I ordered two cords of firewood this week: the first firewood I've ever bought. I listened to baseball games on the radio and imagined summer stretching before us like a long fairy tale. I've been feeling vaguely cranky and unsettled: some combination of political dismay, rejection letters, and broken sleep, but also a seasonal urgency: sap running, the heft of a shovel in my hands, shoulders arched under a weight of stones, the musk of wet earth.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Last night I dreamed that my friend Angela and I were hoboes riding the rails. Clearly my sleep-brain is in a silly mood. I should stop trying to figure out why and just enjoy it.

I made noodle bowls for dinner: ramen, homemade stock, oven-fried tofu, diced zucchini, fresh ginger, soy-marinated egg. They were quite lovely . . . not least because I topped them with my first garden harvest: slivers of garlic shoots.

You are long-suffering about my lousy photographic skills, so let me inflict a few more on you. Below is one of the new garden boxes, flanked by pea trellis. This box will contain warm-season plants--mostly peppers. The things that look like tapeworms are irrigation hose.

Here is a nice photo of my neighbor's garage. Below it, under the tree, are the other two garden boxes and my mud pile. I'll plant things in these that can thrive in mixed sun and shade: greens, carrots, beets.

This is the worst picture of the bunch: shot from the side garden into the backyard. The gap is where the fence fell down over the winter, but it turns out that I like having a path from front to back, so I don't care. The strange metallic strips in the foreground are cat barriers; Jack and Ruckus are far too enthusiastic about digging up newly planted beds. The trees in the background are my clothesline posts.

It's hard to take pictures of early spring that make it look as good as it feels. Everything is bare and plain, mostly browns and greys. But the garden feels clean, too, as if anything is possible. No bugs, no droughts, no weird powdery fungus or sadistic invasive weeds. You could call it a northcountry Eden.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Tom has been teasing me about my pile of mud. I retorted that I can spend my $100 on what I like: teach poetry, buy mud, what's unreasonable about that? And it's very fine mud, the best sort of mud. I bought 2 cubic yards of it--enough to fill three big garden boxes, with leftovers to spread around as pancake makeup in the yard desert. I'm quite pleased with my mud, though moving it is heavy work . . . say, the sort of work you might pay $100 to do in a gym.

Today, finally, we should get some sunshine. Most of the snow glop has melted, but barely. Plants, soil, air are dank and stiff, all in waiting for a bit of warmth, all of them ready to soften and unfold. Maybe I'll get a load of laundry on the lines this morning. Maybe, mid-morning, I'll step on to the front stoop and see a blur of green grass knitting into last year's dry thatch.

I dreamed last night that I was teaching a class of young men in a prison, and we were all laughing and happy about what we were writing, and I kept asking myself, How is it that this is going so well? What mistakes am I not making? What mistakes am I about to make? Somehow, in the same dream, I also knew that a press had accepted my current poetry manuscript. So there were these two things that were going really well: a difficult teaching situation and getting published. It was an anti-anxiety dream, I guess. But why would I have it? That kind of dream doesn't replicate facts any more than an anxiety dream does. Perhaps my sleep-brain was encouraging me . . . though mostly, like a cat, my sleep-brain doesn't feel the need to be nice. It tends to rely on scratching, biting, and ignoring me. I wonder what came over it. Maybe I changed its food or something.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

All day and all night chunks of ice have been sliding and crashing off the roof. It's warm but it's cold; it's snowy but it's rainy; it's spring but it's winter. Mid-sleetstorm, a flock of robins appeared and began cherry-picking all of the earthworms out of my new pile of soil. The robins are fat and fluffed and seem relieved to have discovered something edible in this white town.

Last night I made a funny yet delicious meal. For a while now I've been planning to reprise my granny's green bean recipe. This is straight Appalachian garbage food--exactly how we've all learned not to cook--and yet I have powerful happy memories of shoveling these beans down after a long day among the cows and the tractors. I had two bags of frozen green beans from last year's garden, and I decided to cook them granny-style. First, I softened some diced onion in some chopped bacon. Then I added the beans, covered them with water, brought them to a boil, and then let them simmer on the back of the stove for about an hour and a half. The result, of course, is mush . . . delicious salty mush that tastes exactly like Scottdale.

In the meantime, however, I've also been teaching myself how to make injera--that beautiful sour bread served in Ethiopian restaurants. It's quite simple, if you can find teff or teff flour and if you give the batter a few days to ferment. Anyway, I cooked up some injera and served it with granny's beans, and the combination was perfection. Granny would have been shocked, but squishy green beans bear a great deal of resemblance to squishy Ethiopian greens, and the injera soaks up the juice and salt beautifully.

If you're looking for other clash-of-cultures dishes, I also recommend latkes with guacamole and mangoes with maple syrup.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

We expected a mostly-rain storm but ended up with a mostly-snow storm. Now everything is coated in a layer of wet white cement. It will melt today, but for the moment the garden looks grim. Not that the snow will hurt the peas and greens I planted on Saturday: they love this kind of weather . . . cool, dank, mucky.  But this isn't the most charming moment to get a truckload of new soil dumped onto my driveway, and that's what's on the schedule.

Spring in Maine, even here in the temperate south, is jam-packed with teenage highs and lows. Ice! Hyacinths! Frostbite! Daffodils! Still, in Harmony, school was canceled yesterday; they got a real snowstorm, not our gloppy sleety skimcoat. I am aware of the luxury of my complaints.

So today: a morning of editing neatly at my desk; an afternoon of wheelbarrowing loads of soil through mud and slush.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Housework all morning, yardwork all afternoon, and then a trip into town for poutine and beer. It was an excellent Sunday. I moved the last of our firewood into the basement, lay drip hose in the garden, washed floors, dusted glassware, and hung out towels. Today will be rain and snow and snow and rain, and now the seeds I planted can swell and the firewood I moved can stay dry. The crisp towels will hang in the bathroom, the dishes will shine, and I will not have to worry about any of these chores while I'm teaching and editing this week.

Tom and I are still not exactly healthy. We're both still coughing, and he's slow-moving, but progress is being made, in a tortoise-like fashion. If you have this cold too, I'm sorry. It's a slow-mover that will take a giant bite out of your month.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Pea trellis up, peas in the ground, and strips of hardware cloth laid to discourage the enthusiasms of the Neighborhood Brats (otherwise known as Ruckus and Jack), who just can't resist digging up a freshly planted row. On the other side of the trellis, I planted four short rows of arugula, lettuce, spinach, and radishes. Tom is working on final placement of the new garden boxes, and as soon as I get soil delivered I'll start planting in them. I hung laundry, pondered yard design, read some Iris Murdoch, split chunks of two-by-fours for burning, yanked out baby maple trees, started seedlings in the house (lupines, yarrow, kohlrabi, fennel), cut two hyacinths for the dining-room table, coughed and sneezed, watched a basketball game, and invented a delicious salad of beets, roasted asparagus, and pumpkin seeds. It was a good day, and I'm hoping for another one before the rains arrive tomorrow.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

For various reasons yesterday's class felt like an adventure in improvisation, but I think it went well enough: participants wrote three drafts in two hours, read and talked about poems from China and Burundi, thought about sound and time and transitions and structure and geography and memory. Afterward I did eat an entire bag of potato chips in the car, but fortunately that kind of lapse only happens about once a year.

Today Tom is still sick, I'm still coughing up crud. Although there's a shimmer of snow on the ground, temperatures are forecast to rise into the mid-50s today, and I will be planting peas and greens.

It feels good to have a sunshiny weekend at home ahead of me. On most afternoons this past week, I've spent an hour or so in the windy cold, moving stones, laying paths, raking leaves, pruning herbs and roses, piling sticks-- all for the sake of sun and warmth and finally getting seeds into dirt.

                            O love
open. Show me
my country. Take me home. 
--from Wendell Berry's "Homecoming"

Friday, April 5, 2019

Well, the aforementioned sloppy little draft found its footing and became a poem that surprised me very much. This week, in my online poetry class, students are focusing on readings and prompts around the topic of "Framing Emotion," and that, coincidentally, is what I figured out in this new piece. Perhaps their drafts and conversations gave me a push toward the unexpected in my own thoughts.

Sometimes teaching can be really helpful creatively.

I'm on the road again today, this time to the Plunkett Poetry Festival in Augusta, where I'll be leading a two-hour session on place and on using words as transferrable power. And then I'm coming straight home to make dinner for poor Tom, who is now trapped in the throes of the monster cold.

It looks like I might be planting peas this weekend. Hurray!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Yesterday, for the first time in months, I was able to spend a bit of time with my own poetry projects. I copied out some of Dante's Inferno. I stirred a sloppy little draft. I didn't accomplish much, but I felt awkward and refreshed. Afterward I went for two long walks and finished raking mulch off the garden beds. I had the sense that someone had poured a batch of new blood into my veins--garden-wise, poetry-wise. Everything was bare and muddy; the wind whipped and sang, and I lifted my nose into it like a bird dog.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Finally I have shifted into that most delightful of illness phases, convalescence. Yesterday morning I feared I might have a head cold forever, but this morning I feel hopeful, rested, unclogged, and delicate. My husband no longer shakes his head ruefully when he looks at me, but I still feel the vague aura of sickness, something akin to the scent of an occasional breeze blowing in from a cow pasture. Anyway, barring the lingering coughs and chokes, I'm on the mend.

I spent yesterday trying to catch up on chores that required neither intelligence nor stamina--e.g., buying storage bins at Target and pressing the button on the doctor's portal that signs me up for a shingles vaccine. Somehow I also managed to take a non-blurry photo of the cluster of scylla blooming so brightly in my front garden. Happy cold early spring from the coast of Maine, dear friends . . . where clumps of aged snow fade alongside a few bright-faced flowers, and the wind cuts like a dull kitchen knife, and eider families bounce and bob in the ripples on the bay.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

I'm still sick. Yesterday I did manage to rake some leaves and hang some laundry. I made chicken stock and sewed on my dress and ran some errands, but I did it all at half-speed, amid coughing and sneezing and sighing and squinting and blowing my nose. I feel like I'm half-human, half-slime mold. On the bright side, the timing is good: I've got a slight respite, work-wise, so can enjoy my life as a rotting mushroom without guilt.


Anyway, I've got time to read, if I could understand what I was reading. Last night Tom asked if I'd like to play cribbage, and I told him I couldn't pay attention long enough to get through the game. I'm significantly dumber than usual, and all I wanted to do last night was sit on the couch and watch cartoons.

Thus, I will turn to my far more intelligent children for news and comedy. Believe it or not, my younger son has managed to pick all four teams in the NCAA men's final four. Among the millions of people who make brackets on the ESPN site, he is in the top .046%. Did I mention he also goes to art school?

And my older son pulled off an extremely fine April Fool's prank. My phone rings, the ID comes up as "Unknown Caller," and I of course let it go to voice mail. Later, when I check the voice mail before deleting it, I hear a grainy version of a song . . . and wait, it's my least favorite song of all, the Eagles's "Hotel California," and now it's turning into a clip from The Big Lebowski, the moment when the Dude asks the cab driver to change the station because "I hate the fucking Eagles" and then he gets tossed out of the car . . . and now I know this has got to be a son playing a joke on me. It was a good one, and cheered me up considerably in my mushroom gloom.

Monday, April 1, 2019

My day in Bangor went well: a full class, very engaged; and then an evening with a dear Harmony friend. But this head cold has been less charming. I thought I was getting better, and now this morning I feel as if I spent last night under a street sweeper. It's amazing how bad a cold can make a person feel, and yet it's such a minor illness.

Ah well. I'm glad to be home moping on my own couch.

Tom spent yesterday building garden boxes for me, which of course are far more beautiful than most garden boxes because that's the kind of person he is. Now we can't decide where to put them. Originally we'd planned on the front yard, but then we accidentally discovered that they improve one of the cesspit areas of the property considerably. There's a strip of ex-driveway--broken asphalt, lingering gravel--that we haven't known how to handle. But if you cover it up with garden boxes. . . .

Today I'd hoped to hang laundry on the new lines, and to rake out the rest of the gardens, and to take a trip to the store for soil. But my head is going to have to be a new head if I'm going to accomplish such things. Perhaps, with another cup of coffee, it will be.