More Than Dirt

Alf and I got tired of the lunar look of our backyard, with its deep ruts and crevices and dead everything. We used to have steady visitors of cats and squirrels and noisy ravens, but lately even the butterflies do fly-overs instead of landing. So with the help of a longtime neighbor, who builds commercial nurseries for plants, we are working on a new garden together. photo (47)

I quickly sketched my idea of an English garden with pathways and gravel and flowering plants. Something that Alice in Wonderland would choose as she read and conversed with the Cheshire Cat.

I didn’t want a lawn. I was convinced of the versatility and beauty of drought-tolerant plants. I’m a survivor of too many droughts and didn’t want the demands of water guzzling green things anymore. They remind me of crying infants when they’re hungry. I don’t have time to invest in pruning, trimming and talking to them either. I hardly have time to do this with Alf.

I’ve been learning a few things about myself through this. I’m impatient. I thought the re-design would take a month. In my mind it was a simple idea without a lot of fuss. Dig up the dead lawn, and then stick some Woolly Bluecurls, Tree Anemones, and Sticky Monkey-flowers in there, and let them duke it out. I was wrong. I have no understanding of soil, bricks and greenery and what it takes to put all three together in an artful way. It’s taken all summer.

Another problem arose. My neighbor’s taste and mine are not in sync. It’s an act of high level diplomacy every time we disagree. We compromise. We change things. We discard stuff. Always smiling. It’s like a marriage. I’m sure he goes home muttering under his breath. But through it all, a glorious garden is coming into view, and the best part is we haven’t filed divorce papers. That’s the important thing. It may not be ready for the fall, and by winter it will be too cold for tea parties, but then there’s next year. The plants will be settled and feeling good about their new home. And maybe the squirrels and ravens will return chattering and cawing their approval.

When the project is complete, I expect my neighbor to be over many times, showcasing me as his still-friend and my garden to future drought-tolerant fans.

Calvin says, “I’m not so stinking happy. You took away my favorite pee spots.” beagle

Singing in the Rain

I survived the big storm today. Barely.

Our subway system is not prepared for anything but normal. A few drops of rain and all the trains run late.

With today’s downpour that came down in sheets, the rails were slick and the trip into the city was a jerky experience.

Our conductor looked worried. He ran up and down the cars unlocking and then locking us inside in case we fell out. Did he know something we didn’t? How could we fall out? We spent a good deal of time paralyzed on the tracks.

We finally made it into the city. Then came the adventure of walking to the office. Or should I say crossing the Jordan to the office. Except the waters didn’t dry up for me. I waded my way there, getting progressively more drenched as I neared my destination. By the time I arrived, my freshly washed hair looked like a mop, and I was soaked through from the waist down. Never mind that I wore rain boots, a raincoat and held an umbrella. There was no hope of staying dry.

It’s a good thing I love the rain.  rainy-evening

I don’t care how it comes down.

Rain is moody weather. With it comes gray skies, glistening sidewalks, and splashing water from automobile tires. If you’re in the country, then it’s broody skies with different shades of gray, crackling lightning, and drumming thunder. It’s God’s theatrical show free of charge.

I grew up with thunderstorms that stopped your heart they were so powerful. I also grew up with earthquakes. My relationship with God started when I was a child. I wasn’t going to fool around with someone who could produce such power on demand.

I still laugh every time the weatherman makes a prediction.

Like today. Okay it’s wet, but nothing close to the fear instilled in us by the media to stay home and keep dry.

Where is everyone’s sense of awe?

Calvin says, “Awe? I’m awed that you love the scent of wet fur!” beagle

 

 

 

 

A Private Showing

This weekend was Fleet Week in San Francisco. It was also the Final of the America’s Cup World Series.

While skippers navigated the Pacific waters, Madonna rehearsed her tunes for her evening performance in San Jose, and heart-throb Justin Bieber practiced giving teen girls liver shivers for his show at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. The Giants played their first game as division champs, the 49ers had a game as well, and there was even a Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco was hopping!

But nothing tops the Blue Angels show.  

I missed seeing the Delta formation, the diamond roll, the Fleur de Lis and the many other heart-in-your-throat maneuvers, but I’m happy anyway. I had my private showing at Baker Beach while I organized a picnic. While grilling salmon and keeping the tablecloths from blowing away in the wind, I was serenaded with supersonic booms from those blue and yellow F/A-18 Hornets. They were so low I could see the pilots screaming their way across the Pacific, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and then disappear into a fog bank only to return a few minutes later and do it all over again.

They practiced right in front of me. I waved. I clapped. I ran after them. “Take me with you!” I yelled.

The tablecloths took flight. The salmon got charred. The nude sunbathers flipped over.

Another roar and soar across the ocean.

This time was the last, and the gulls returned to the beach.

I came back to tablecloths wrapped around tree trunks, crispy salmon, and potato salad with a new crunch from the sand.

Calvin says, “You hate heights. You’d white knuckle it with your eyes closed. Now me, I would bay my way across the city and fog up the windshield.”

Out of Focus

At a cafe. Late morning. Two writers.

Man: I heard a story just the other day of a woman who swallowed her contact lenses.

Woman: That’s hard to believe.

Man: She had woken up in the middle of the night and was thirsty and drank the contact lens bottle thinking it was the bottle of water.

Woman: Did the insurance cover that?

Man: Stupidity?

Woman: You never know.

Man: The next day she groped everyone at work and caused a fuss.

Woman: Did they send her to the eye doctor?

Man: No. They sent her home in a cab with a case of bottled water.

Calvin says, “Hm…I just thought of something. Dogs don’t have eye doctors. That could explain why we don’t come when you call us.”