Unnecessary Thoughts at Random

The ugly fog, although it frosted the trees in a lovely manner yesterday, which I got to enjoy when heading out for groceries, has otherwise drenched us in gray, moist chill. Today marks five in a row of gray and fog. At least it is somewhat brighter and less foggy than yesterday or Sunday. And a hint of actual sunshine glimmers in the air periodically (we should get sun—possibly—about the middle of the afternoon).

I should be writing the end of “Details, Details,” which I have promised part three for you to read tomorrow (once again for you eager beavers, that part three link should work once that post is up tomorrow, Wednesday). But certain elements are stalled, so I figured I should write something. —I should be writing a book review that I have started but which is also hanging fire (it is my intended post for Thursday). Instead, I’ll talk about the weather.

Since it has warmed up (with highs in the twenties and even thirties later last week), our snow cover has started to recede and melt. I can even see green in the yard where the hideous winds after the last storm blew the light, fluffy stuff that fell away. We have had snow on the ground for just about six weeks now. Of course, melting means the snow has gotten ugly. All the salt I shoveled up from the street shows as dirty gray blotches on the snow mounds, and even the untouched white in the yard is going darker. Ice runs in the sidewalks (well, actually the water runs during the day and freezes into perfect glass at nightfall: I get to walk to and from play practice after dark). Even so, the warmth is nice.

I had started, after a week of sub-zero nights, to warm the house to 60° for the daytime just to survive, and now I can let it just cool to the preset 55° throughout the day, leaving the upstairs temperature at about 57 when the evening setting kicks in as I depart and before Janet returns from her workout. Walking to rehearsal is also more comfortable, although I still seem to dress almost as warmly as before (full facemask and ear warmers but minus one layer of clothing overall). We’re doing dress rehearsals now, so I pull on my costume (gray t-shirt and gray sweat bottoms) and cover that with the lightweight snowmobile pants I usually use for running and shoveling and two sweatshirts (an ordinary one and a hooded one) plus the earmuffs things and knitted facemask. By the time I reach Ohnward Fine Arts Center for practice or heading up the hill to home at the end of the evening, the hood is back and the facemask off.

I haven’t run as I should for many weeks. At first, the snow was too much, and then, as of this past weekend, I hurt my hip somehow (it doesn’t even like walking much). I had run down to practice on Wednesday or Thursday evening (about two miles)—mostly because I left late and did not want to be the reason practice did not start on time (it never does, to my chagrin). I was not in good shoes and was fully encased in my winter walking gear; perhaps I did something wrong that night. All I know is Saturday afternoon and Sunday, it hurt in my hip. It hurt walking. It hurt especially climbing stairs. But it also hurt lying in bed or sitting in a chair (say this one at my computer). And Janet is feeling I am not making good use of my Y membership (I am not; I figure it’s there if I need it—possibly she is right and I should need it now for snow and ice).

As I type, I am making waffles again. I tried the brown sugar today, and also the three teaspoons of oil (instead of tablespoons, which is what I had actually added the day I invented the recipe)—cutting back on the fats to add the actual sugar. Although I am eating some (one of each pair for the most part—with seven blackberries on top) out of my hand as I type, I was intending to begin a frozen collection to use without having any preparation. However, I appear to be burning them (almost). I don’t know if that’s a result of the reduced oil or the actual sugar. Regardless, unless the reduced oil is the problem, you can make my waffles with just three teaspoons (as the recipe reads) of oil. I would welcome the observations of more experienced and thoughtful cooks than I.

One last issue: Qwest internet service is decidedly unreliable for the past two weeks. At least once a day, I find myself no longer online and must turn off the router and modem, wait and then get them started again. Is this inconvenience what I am paying them $55 a month for?

So having said nothing in not quite a thousand words, maybe now I can get to work on the end of the story and the review of James Blish’s A Case of Conscience. Either way, you get part three of the story tomorrow.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

for Janet

As I have posted poems from my distant youth, I think I’ll move forward in time just a little and reveal the first poem I wrote for Janet. We were at her little apartment, and she was cooking supper for us. I played traditional male and sat in her living room with my books and notebook. I have always been a lover of sunlight pouring into a comfortable room, and I realized that her space was beautifully lit. Some kind of nonelectric-guitar music was playing (on vinyl in those days) on her stereo. That sensuous cat bath of late afternoon illumination and listening to her gave me this poem, not overly deep or complex, as the title reveals (but contemporary poetry is sheering sharply away from the difficulties of twentieth century modernism). Here’s her first poem, about a summer evening, for a winter day…

Sweetness and Light

Kitchen sounds hiss around folk tunes,

and you sing along (bluegreen afternoon

slanting fat and generous throughout

your living room). Just morsels

of your melody fare above silver’s clatter,

hot water streaming, spoonsloshes,

fry spatter-whistles and battering.

Refrigerator thuds shut, syncopating

guitars’ rathskeller hum, while cars thunder

from the parking lot outdoors.

You keep clanking with the food

as sunlight streams windowshaped

alongside my foot. Summer sets

her liquid hands around my heart

and melts my bones, yellowbrightly

seasoned and sauteed in sound.

You’re cooking, I’m trifling, and the day

is settling like an ocean all around.

27 May 1981

To be honest with you, I only inserted the photograph above to force the final four lines of that stanza to indent as I wanted. The photo is our living room now. I actually took the picture a year ago, the first shot with my new digital camera (bought on my own to replace the school’s, whose batteries no longer recharged adequately. I wonder how the new teacher has made out with that antiquated digital device).

The new camera is the most expensive thing I ever bought on eBay, and I was horribly nervous about it until the package finally arrived (after only a week or so: those eBay sellers are quick). Everything turned out to be exactly as advertised. I’ve only had one marginally bad dealing on eBay, and eventually that was made right, although I got terrified when eBay listed the seller (from Latvia) as no longer permitted on the site. However, he (or she—how am I to know?) came through with the CD, about six weeks late, and somewhere around the house I still have the Latvian newspaper pages used to wrap the jewel case.

Janet is not fond of me shopping on eBay (for good reason: it’s so easy to create a big list of brand-new things in just a few minutes, just like iTunes), so I probably shouldn’t tie her poem with eBay memories.

We had met the spring before the incident enshrined here in verse, when I cast her to play my wife (it wasn’t supposed to be me in the show I was directing, but the leading actor quit after, I believe, no rehearsals, and the cast talked me into taking the part—never again: I don’t know how those famous theatrical folk can do it, acting and directing themselves) in Romantic Comedy, my second outing as director for Maquoketa’s Peace Pipe Players. Even though she had disliked me as a pompous ass from our first theatrical experience together two years before (Play It Again, Sam—for which she got the memorable line, “I have had many men…” and which was my Maquoketa directorial debut), we hit it off in 1981, and things flew from there: we got married the next May. So it is appropriate that this poem is a paean to domesticity and what-would-become-martial bliss.

Possibly good news: tomorrow’s post continues “Details, Details.” So look forward to Digital Hell, three. (I assume the link will work once I get the post up.)

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.