Pottering About

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Tue, 08/28/2018 - 14:05

Garden bench with potted plants

The summer has not been gentle here in the San Fernando Valley. Has it been gentle anywhere this year? We've had drought and wild fires, broken all records for hottest days, and spent most of our time trying to stay out of the sun and hydrated. Our air conditioner was sighing and dying about three o'clock in the afternoon during one of our hottest weeks. Our tempers were short. And sleep was hard to come by when the nights were not much cooler than the days.

Quotidian Quartet

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:32

I - ONE AT A TIME

What will you do with this bright sun that glares through the south window 
and makes you open your sleep-sanded eyes?

You only get one day at a time.

All night the wind tossed the garden. The air is giddy with it. Dust to dust. See it whirling and sparkling in the light? 

Make a space that fits you well. If you
feel hot and scratchy in that one, make another. Cool your skin with shade and scent of blossom.

Gather scattered leaves and petals, knowing absolutely that the
effort is futile, but never wasted. Hold them for a moment before the wind takes them; as, of course, it will. 

 

II - DESIRE

I am not talking about the black cardboard cutout mountains pasted against the apricot-lavender sky showing off two bright stars.

I am not talking about them.

Full of Holes

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Tue, 02/27/2018 - 12:27

Why do I keep that old thing? Why do I use a tablecloth that is falling to pieces, faded, and stained with years of picnics, breakfasts, and dinners? It has served the family well, for generations, but isn't it time to get rid of it?   Probably.

It has to be ironed, for one thing. But the smoothing out of wrinkles can be deeply satisfying. The fabric is so old, so soft, that it yields to the hot iron easily, settling into a relaxed order that I can feel in my bones. Silly, isn't it? To almost feel as if I could submit to such a process and come out all the better for it. Ready to serve again, ready to offer up a clean resting place for dishes and cutlery, bowls of pickles and olives, roast chicken and baked potatoes. Ready to be spattered with savory juices or melting butter. Ready to be anointed with a drop of two of red wine from a glass that's really too full.

Archives

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Thu, 11/02/2017 - 21:32

Responsibility for family documents is a heavy burden. There is so much. So many receipts, records of transactions, legal documents that won't be denied a place in history. But what really matters?

I have been shifting living space for eight years to accommodate my Dad's paper trail. I've sorted through it countless times, trying to decipher what is necessary to keep. But why? He's dead. My mother is dead. His second wife is dead, as is her daughter and anyone who wants any of the documents that validated her life.

I have birth certificates, death certificates, hard evidence that these people lived and died. And I have the memories of my own connection with all of them that still are warm but also cold with recriminations and self-doubt.  

Why I Write

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:39

I came across a letter I wrote when I was about twelve. My mother was in the hospital, and I was missing her.My dad wrote a note to my junior high explaining that I had to leave school early every day for two weeks (? I think it was that long) because I was needed at home. I had a brother who was just a toddler. I can't remember who cared for him while I was in school in the mornings, but it was my job to come home and help in the afternoons. I don't remember how I got home, either, because my school was a bus ride away. But I was happy to help. 

 Handwritten letter

Dispirited

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Sun, 08/13/2017 - 19:02

I lived for a long time with someone who was beautiful, winsome, intelligent, persuasive, and mostly dysfunctional. Because I was her child and I loved her with the pure passion a child has for its mother, I wanted to be like her. I thought her moods should be my moods, her pain my pain.

I also lived in the world, where I could see that other people were not quite so volatile. My father was calm, but also darkly moody. However, he was rational. He was stable. And he knew how to navigate the world without obsession or despair. He lived a fairly ordered life in the midst of the chaos my mother created.

A Mile High

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Thu, 03/30/2017 - 14:04

In 1957 I was fifteen. Eisenhower, a member of the Lost Generation, was President. He had recently agreed to defend Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan against invasion. Nixon, a member of the Greatest Generation, was his Vice President. The Civil Rights movement was just beginning. Newspaper headlines revealed there was a Mad Bomber on the loose and the Ku Klux Klan was making big trouble, We were in the midst of the Cold War with daily reminders of the nuclear bomb threat. We practiced  drop drills.  People were building bomb shelters. Elvis was on every radio, which was, no doubt, why the Everly Brothers couldn't get little Susie to wake up and Buddy Holly was distraught because Peggy Sue had to get married. There were four stage-one smog alerts that year, which meant it was dangerous to breathe.

Going to Seed

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Sun, 03/19/2017 - 18:29

It is that time of year when there are big changes coming. Some things are replanting themselves without much fanfare. Some are spectacular -- and they may be where you least expect to find them. 

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There is energy in every aspect of disintegration and rebirth. So much light reflected in this one seed about to be carried by the wind. We saw one of these artichoke seeds resting on the lawn before it took off on its journey. Tempted to place it where we wanted it to grow, we resisted. And yes, I mean we. There were three of us who could  have gotten up from our chairs and placed this amazing tiny explosion anywhere in the garden that was more convenient for  us. 

But being too happy where we sat, we let it be. And then suddenly it was gone. Where?

One Answer About Grabel's Law

Submitted by Ken Watts on Tue, 03/05/2013 - 14:54

The daily mull generally deals in questions which do not have final, simple, definitive answers.

This time is almost an exception.

Some time ago, I posted a little essay on Grabel's Law (you can find it here) :

"Two is not equal to three, even for very large values of two."

The law, as most of you who find your way to this post will already know, is fairly famous on the internet and even on T-shirts and mugs.

At the time I wrote about it, I had no idea who Grabel was, or what the law's origin was, and I could find no evidence of either.