Friday, October 16, 2009

Circular Arguments

It is a miserable, cold wet afternoon and have just had a really hot bath and for the first time this week my bones are warm and I won’t need a second pair of socks until the steam dies off my feet.

The bath was hot because I finally braved the basement, which can be a challenge, as some people understand, and turned the water heater up from where it was set, at medium. Again.

This will be a constant battle until April or May. It always is. I turn the water heater up, Greg turns it down.

Why does it have to be so high? He says.

Because I want a hot bath.

But I get a hot bath without turning up the heat. It’s a waste of money.

But, my sweet (I don’t actually say that, but you need to think I’m nicer than I am), I don’t displace water the way you do. You fill the tub half way, get in, and the water goes up to your chin. If I do the same, all sorts of parts that need to be submerged are floating like icebergs on the surface.

This is an argument he distrusts.

We have similar arguments that go around and around to nowhere. Like this recent one, in the garden.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Talking to Myself

It’s mid-morning and I’m reading last night’s review of Dancing with the Stars on the Entertainment Weekly website,  which doesn’t mean I have nothing to do, it means I have nothing I care to do. I’m bored out of my skull.

And then the writer, who is engaging enough to keep me reading despite my near zero lack of interest in a show that I don’t even watch, says: We all have different voices in our heads.

Which led me directly back inside my skull because this is just what I was thinking yesterday when I returned from the market, having forgotten once again to buy ham for a sandwich.

Instead, I was standing at the counter slapping cream cheese on Triscuts and this voice pops up, why don’t you make some? And some other irrational part of my being slapped me upside the head replied, Great idea! Make ham!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shameless Marmite Plug!

My dear friend Maggie Hall, the person most relied on to drag me out of my office tomb most afternoons around 4ish, to air out the void between my ears, removing a days worth of common dreck...and reloading it with fresh dreck of an uncommon hue, is off this afternoon for a month in England (poor me) to peddle her brand new, hot off the presses book, "The Mish-Mash Dictionary of Marmite."

This "anecdotal A-Z of 'Tar in a Jar" contains 206 pages of things to do, and things that have been done, with what most right-tasting souls (i.e. me) consider one of the foulest substances on earth.

So what's to be found that fits my off-kilter gardening blog? Aha! On page 139, burrowed in the "P" section (which also contains bits on Kim Philby, pickles, pigs, pms, and prostitutes), is this tidbit on plants: "Empty Marmite jars do have a great use. A really good one is to start seedlings. The darkness of the glass will protect the roots --which do not do well exposed to light -- and the jars certainly look a lot nicer than those black plastic boxes."

Clearly, there's something here (and often a most wonderfully silly something) for everyone. As one wag put it on Amazon (oh, that would be me again),  "Here you have the perfect bathroom reader; an opus that can accommodate any length movement."

Check out Maggie's blog for details -- and buy one for Christmas for every displaced Brit on your list!


Friday, October 9, 2009

In the part of Capitol Hill where I live, parking is rarely much of an issue. Maybe after a late night out we might have to wriggle into a space around the corner; hardly a hardship as we're still spry enough to hobble 50 feet or so.

It's a pretty street, lined with some of the oldest, largest elms in Washington, with neighbors well-trained by tickets to park far enough from intersections to avoid another. Actually, most of these tickets were routinely dismissed, since it seemed the neighbors were better able to calculate the proper distance than were the traffic gendarmes.

So perhaps it was this that compelled our fair city to create another make-work program for our, apparently, overstaffed Department of Public Works and stab in plug-ugly parking/no parking signs at each street corner and alley entry. For some of us -- at any rate, me -- destroying a perfectly lovely porch view of our elm canopy.

And so I was sent into a near swoon -- which was hard to do considering that I was jigging along to Anjulie's "Boom" on the ipod--when I noticed that someone on a near-by block, in a brilliantly passive-aggressive, lemonade move, had planted a twining totem of morning glories to smother the blight.

Swords into plowshares! Take back the streets!

Ah, YES. Next year... with moonflowers mixed in to cover the late shift.

Blowing Smoke Rings at Tallulah

I don’t know why Tallulah Bankhead is buried in St. Paul’s Churchyard outside the miniscule port town of Rock Hall, Maryland. But there the Alabama-born and New York-cured actress lies.

Rock Hall is in the middle of nowhere, even a spit farther from somewhere than Chestertown, a few miles away. It was in Chestertown that I took my first stab at higher education.

A tiny school of 700 lily-white, corn-fed students, Washington College, the town’s main industry, was about the only one that accepted me and my miserable grades and board scores. But with my crotch length skirts and thigh high boots I suppose I single handedly filled their slot for exotics.

Two hours out of Baltimore in one direction, two hours out of Washington in the other, and then another four or so from Manhattan, my home town, Chestertown was splendidly isolated – from my parents.

More importantly, it was where the enchantingly outrageous Tallulah, with her quick wit, naughty eyes, and smoky voice had chosen to face eternity. “Divinely impossible,” she was called, and how I wished people would say that of me. Unfortunately, I was only successful at the impossible part.

This was (more or less) why I was booted from the school by Christmas, without ever having had a graveside commune.

Fast forward 30-some years and the husband and I are off for a Sunday drive from our Washington home, he for crab cakes and me for a visit with Tallulah; a fascination rekindled by my good friend Diana McLellan's book, "The Girls," in which she deliciously dissects the violet passions of some of the most celebrated female stars of the 1930s stage and screen--Garbo, Dietrich, and Bankhead among them.

St Paul’s is a country churchyard off a quiet road that’s a mile off another quiet road and set beside a pond that would be pretty if it didn’t appear to be in the process of being smothered by creeping kudzu.

Tallulah lies beneath a spartan stone slab stone topped with a decaying bouquet of plastic roses, strung here and there with notes from admirers, tightly wrapped in cellophane to protect them from the elements.

I wondered, as I contorted myself to take pictures of the epistles, if these earlier visitors traveled with rolls of wrap in their totes, or if a kindly church person preserves them. And if there’s preserved a cache of older letters to the star. One would think so, judging by the packed mud that surrounds the stone.

At some point I notice I’d stretched myself beside her to get a clear shot and her last words of record whispered themselves to me, codeine…bourbon…

Sorry dahling, I shrugged and blew her a smoke ring. Fresh out.

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