I live in my garden these days with the squirrels, the ravens, the bees, and the occasional butterfly. The butterfly bush is exploding with flowers, ready for a butterfly invasion, but none have arrived. Maybe they’re staying away and quarantining on eucalyptus trees in Pacific Grove. Or maybe they got smart and flew to Mexico instead. So I turned my attention to the house.
I’m cleaning out clutter and distributing it to friends who want more. There are people who always want another book or music CD. I’m happy to oblige. The vision for the house is to give it a minimalist look, with only the essentials in their place. Of course I’ll have to do something about the dog’s seasonal food dishes, multi-colored leashes, and hypo-allergenic beds. He has as many possessions as we do. With all these, he still prefers to eat at our table and sleep in our bed.
Then there’s the garage. It’s filled with camping gear we no longer use, old shoes for when it rains and gets muddy, hiking jackets and hats, and a bowlful of golf balls Alf brings home from his hikes. What golf balls are doing scattered on the mountain defies the imagination. And why Alf picks them up and brings them home is a mystery. He’s not a golfer.
“I’ll give them to someone who plays the game,” he says.
“We don’t know any golfers,” I remind him.
“There’s always the future.”
And so it goes. I clear, Alf fills it up. The story of our lives.
Calvin says, “Hey, what about the ice skates you never use? Maybe there’s an Olympian in the neighborhood.”
I’ve heard people going to the beaches, opening up their businesses, and gathering with their relatives even before California opens up again.
People are fed-up. Living at home day in and day out is not the best way to live a life. People need people. Even if it’s people they don’t typically want to spend time with. Nowadays, even those look attractive.
We’ve hit a wall. We definitely would not thrive on an island. Or even on a cruise ship anymore. We’re made to roam in forests, on beaches, and on mountain tops.
I’m not sure we’re ultimately made to live in high-density cities like New York and Tel Aviv. Cities like these are made for commerce, not humans.
We need to see green things, breathe fresh air, walk for miles, and feel the sun on our faces.
After this lock-down is over, we’re going to be streaming out of our houses like ants from an anthill and heading for the country. It better be ready.
Calvin says, “Don’t forget us, we need to run and bounce and chomp on the clover fields too.”
Yesterday was a first for me. I was on the subway and nearing my stop. I got up from my seat a minute ahead, something I do all the time, walked to the door, and landed flat on my back. The ground gave way under me. More correctly, I gave way. My knees buckled and I went down. It happened so fast it took a few seconds to realize I was staring up at the ceiling. I must say I collapsed gracefully, as if I had practiced this maneuver all my life, like a ballerina on point. In actuality I came down like a ton of bricks.
Fortunately there weren’t many people on board so I had the floor to myself. And it was reasonably clean. The few passengers that saw me go down didn’t move, they just watched me collapse.
One man, who sat near the door, helped me get up, sort of. He helped me sit up and then I got to my feet on my own. I didn’t have any broken bones, head concussions or scrapes. I didn’t look wounded. I did not want to be one of those riders who got sick on the train and the whole subway system jams up while the paramedics and the police with their German Shepherds show up. I just got off at my stop and kept walking.
I made it to the office and gulped down my first cup of coffee.
A few hours later my lower back began complaining. That’s all, just a whine of self-pity in a minor key. I could live with that.
Calvin says, “You know, taking me for walks has limbered you up, otherwise you would have folded like a deck chair and stayed there.”
This is what I saw on my way to the office this morning. A beautifully decorated tree on the street, curbside. No lights. Was it waiting for a taxi, I mean Uber? Maybe since it was standing there in front of the building where Uber has its offices. If it was a gimmick, it worked on me. I asked a security guard and he said, “It was leaking so they brought it out.” Wait till the dog walkers and their pups notice this. A Christmas tree just for them!
The things one sees during the holidays.
I had coffee last weekend with a friend. I ran into a woman and her beagle at the entrance of the shop and bolted inside before she captured me. She will talk to anyone for ages about her dog and how much it’s costing her to keep him alive. Something in the vicinity of $20,000. He pooch has two bionic knees otherwise he wouldn’t have made it. He’s now on expensive drugs for skin allergies. And the list goes on. Every time I’m at the coffee shop she’s there, so I suspect she goes every weekend in search of an audience. The man in the picture? That’s her husband. Notice the delighted expression on his face.
I thought this planter decoration was great. Different. Colorful. Something to use all winter long. It was lobby decor in a building that used to be home to the local post office. Now we have to hunt for where it moved to. No forwarding address.
Calvin says, “I’m signing a DNR. Do not reconstruct. Me.”
Every morning a black and white cat appears at the window of the apartment across from my office. A long stretch. A pink yawn. It pokes at the sill with its front paw testing to see if the window is open. It’s not. It sits up and leans against the glass absorbing the sun with its eyes closed. It curls its black tail and stays as still as a Latin American question mark at the beginning of a sentence.
Lately it hasn’t been at its post when I arrive, which worries me. I immediately think it finally walked out on the ledge, slipped and fell to its death, except cats don’t typically die this way because they’re acrobats and reverse themselves in mid-fall and land on all four legs.
So what happened? I walk out of the building and there it is in the middle of a stacks of bricks, not-so thriving plants, and a rusting car. The lot next door is a dumping ground for all things discarded.
It’s black and white markings peak through the dying plants. It looks at me. It seems quite happy tip-toeing among the ruins. The sun is on its back. It’s free. I’m relieved and come back indoors.
The next day I come into my office, it’s back at the window looking down. I guess this is the arrangement with its owner, like a wayward son, sometimes coming home, but mostly on the prowl.
Calvin says, “A vagabond with a pied
Walking up the hill this morning to the office, I was forced to walk around a mattress and box spring, a couch, a chair, snow boots, and a lamp. Somebody threw them out from the building they once lived in.
My office is surrounded by apartment buildings, so on one level I suppose it makes sense.
On another, it’s a mystery.
It screams “single life”, “moving on”, “take my trash and shove it.”
What’s even more of a mystery is the disappearance of all those things within hours.
I left the office later this morning and most of the stuff was gone.
Where does it go?
Who picks it up?
I never see anyone doing this.
Do gremlins emerge from the gutters like a line of ants?
Do the homeless pick it up? Except today it was raining, but things still disappeared.
The oddest thing I’ve ever seen on the street was a wig and women’s clothing.
I don’t want to guess what that meant.
Calvin says, “It meant one discarded multiple personality.”