Nothing to write about

except, when I woke up briefly this morning at some ungodly hour, I saw the moon about to set. It was large and kind of orangish.

I think. It could have been a dream.

M has been reporting her dreams to me every morning lately. There is nothing as boring and incomprehensible as someone else’s dream. The latest featured kidnappers in a white van who parked in our driveway and turned out to be nice after all.

Don’t know what to make of that.

Yesterday I cut back the enormous feijoa tree. It looks better and now the roses have more light.

That was a good decision.

M made me eggs and biscuits this morning. Now I am at work.

Day after

I still cannot seem to get readjusted to work.

I think what happened is that I started to look around, realized how much there is to do at home, started to get engaged, and then had to come back to work.

It’s actually somewhat stressful having two jobs (i.e. working, and then dealing with the house and the people in it). It’s also frustrating, because both here and there I can see how much there is to do, and if I had only the one place to dig in I could fix things so they’d run so much better. And in fact, require less effort to get along daily. But I never have the time to actually feel on top of things, either here or there.

Anyway. Now I’m leaving here to go pick up the car (at the garage again but really fixed this time), which means I’ll get home early, which means I could, in theory, do something about those 8 boxes I brought down from the attic.

Or, you know, sit on the couch and finish Old Filth. (Still saddish.)

Got to go.


Ay! But I don’t want to go back to work!

I went to the Garden Show yesterday. It wasn’t amazing. My brother always has a garden in it — his was nice. The woman who would have redone our backyard for tens of thousands of dollars was there. Her garden was nice — she makes these beautiful dry-stone walls. I would love to have one in my garden, too, had I a few extra tens of thousands of dollars lying around. Which I do not. Otherwise there wasn’t any truly wonderful garden — although there was one with a huge old olive tree which was nice. But I met the guy who wrote The American Meadow Garden. That was exciting.

And, I bought a few geraniums and some wildflowers for our meadow.

I’d like to get them in, because it’s supposed to rain all week.

Also, the redbud (which is accidentally white, oh well) is blooming, and our lilac had two bunches of lilacs this year!

Okay. Going to work now.



Here it is, eight o’clock on Sunday night, and I think I need a whole nother week of furlough to get anything done around here.

I did vacuum, and I guess I’m about to clean the kitchen, but man, there is still a lot to do.

Luckily, M is off next week, so I am unfettered by her schedule. I think I may try to go to work early and then get home early to continue my efforts. Or, try to get stuff done in the morning before I go in — maybe that would be nicer.

I’m thinking about rearranging furniture.

What if, for instance, we moved kitchen table into the little nook and then put a couch where the table is now — wouldn’t that be nice?

Actually, I think it would.

Okay. I’m losing my mind. Better start emptying the dishwasher.

Oh, but M has been out at this quadrille business since nine in the morning, and it’s now 8 at night. Will she ever come home? Will she be ravenous and filthy and smelling of horse?

News at 11.

Reading update: Old Filth, by Jane Gardam. Good so far. Sense it may be somewhat sad. Well, it is already kind of sad. I’ll let you know —

Reporting in


Yesterday, after doing to the gym, I tackled the mother of all closets, the attic.

I hope you are impressed.

I managed to shove all the boxes of books that don’t fit in bookcases into the northeast corner, all the toys we can’t throw away into the southeast corner, and all the fabric/wool/craft supplies along the south wall. K has a little outpost office set up by the old chimney, surrounded mostly by old files and papers. I think this could be organized better, and I also think it’s not fair that he has that office and another one in the little room by our bedroom. At some point, I think we could consolidate. I could even set up my sewing machine up there, although it gets really hot in the summer. The good thing is, though, that all the stuff is now stored under the eaves, which means that the center of the floor, where you can actually stand up, is now clear.

I honestly believe I should be awarded a medal for this feat.

The task today, while K is at work and M is at riding all day, is to clean the rest of the house.

I finished The 900 Days this morning, which I think is leading to my thinking of this as a military campaign. Having broken through on the attic front there is now hope that the siege can be lifted. As long as Beria doesn’t convince Stalin to replace me with a different general, in which case I will run away to the back yard and hide among the water onions. That never goes well, though.

What could happen is that I decide to make myself a medal using the recently uncovered craft supplies. Or that I find Amazons and Swallows, by Arthur Ransome whose biography (Blood Red, Snow White — did you know he was a sort of a spy in Russia?) I’ve also recently finished and find myself unable to resist reading just a bit of it for an hour or two. Or, running from Stalin, I find that I really need to go to the nursery to look for that new camellia I need for the southwest corner of the garden . . .

No, I’m going to start with the Christmas ornaments which are currently hanging out in N’s room. I’m going to chase them up to the attic (along the north wall) and procede from there.

I’ll keep you posted . . .

Furlough, Day 4


I am getting used to this business.

Today I drove M to school, then took the car back to the shop for even more work and it’s still not finished. It has to go back on Tuesday for some kind of radiator fan. Hmm. It’s getting expensive for such an ancient car. However, I think it’s actually in pretty good shape now.

(This is really boring, isn’t it?)

Anyway, I BARTed home, walked by the used bookstore and bought a book for a dollar, stopped in a cafe for sustenance then came home and had more sustenance with K, who was home for an early lunch.

Jeanne and I had an appointment to read, she in Ohio and I here, so I sat out in the garden and read. Things are looking very bad in Leningrad right now — serious food problems. It’s funny, because when I was in St Petersburg, N kept saying, “Well, they lived through the famine,” as though it excused any number of things. I’m not exactly even sure what sorts of things, although in her mind there were things. Elderly women in high heeled boots and fur coats, maybe. Hmmm. And Zhukov came in (although he left before the famine because Moscow was then in trouble) and was irrascible and saved the day. The name Zhukov, I believe, is related to the word for beetle.

Anyway, it was really nice out in the yard, and now I am in, and since M wanted a burrito for dinner, I’m not even cooking.

I can’t help but think of this as sort of a test run for next year, when there are no kids around and I have more time to myself, and for about ten years from now, when I will most likely retire. I like where we live, and I’m glad we moved from where we used to live, which as about 8 miles north in a poorer city. I liked my old city, but it was really not set up for walking. Here I can walk downtown easily and catch the train, and run into people I know all over the place, which was also not the case there. I can walk to the library, which is a good one. It’s actually nice. You know my dream is to retire to Labrador, but I’m sort of rethinking that a bit. I won’t know anyone there.

Maybe a summer house on a lake in Maine that we can also visit in the winter to ski and have Christmas. Or rent out this house and live there for a year, or spend the winter in St Petersburg or Helsinki.

This is presuming funds I don’t have, but I’m just feeling out the possibilities here . . .

Anyway — I have to say it’s not feeling all bad around here.

Tomorrow I am really going to tackle the closets. Just you wait.

Furlough, day 3

Well, today I had an outing.

I dropped off the car at the garage and caught the train into the city. I ran into a friend from work on the platform, which was kind of funny. She’s on furlough, too, of course, and yesterday she bought a car.

Anyway, we got to the city, I found J and we wandered up to North Beach for sandwiches, coffee and the bookstore. It was entirely enjoyable, and then we went back to the theater and saw The Ghostwriter. Have you seen it? It was really good. I recommend it.

We got out quite late (it’s a long movie, but there were also at least 15 minutes of previews), and said goodbye. I took the train back to the garage, where the car was not quite done — sadly, I will have to bring it back tomorrow — then I stopped by the candy store (because Easter is coming up), the fabric store, because I have plans to make some skirts for spring, and the cat food store, because I am hoping that a different kind of catfood will cure Jim’s digestive ailments. And then I had to buy coffee and human food. It was exhausting.

It’s kind of exhausting being furloughed. My friend J wanted to explain to everyone — the girl at the bookstore, the man in the sandwich shop — that we were merely furloughed, not the idle rich. I think I may want to be the idle rich.

So, tomorrow I have to take the car back, but then I really do have to confront the closets. And then Jeanne and I have a date to spend the afternoon idly reading. I’m looking forward to it — I’m reading The 900 Days, about the siege of Leningrad in WWII. I’m on about page 300 and the 900 days have just begun. The first half of the book is about the military mistakes that lead up to the siege. Turns out that Stalin was a really evil guy, by the way. It’s actually interesting, though. I’ve never been particularly interested in military history, and Salisbury’s prose is kind of workmanlike — I don’t know how else you could get though that much detail. But the details themselves are completely fascinating, and that in itself makes the book interesting. So —

Okay —

cat decorator

Well, I was beginning to think I had found a new career. Jim was circulating around the television, which I realized was sitting right in the middle of a patch of sunlight. (What do people do with televisions anyway — there’s really no room for them in living rooms, but the sad fact is, that’s where they sort of need to be, since that’s here seating is. I have not solved this problem.) Anyway, I rolled the television out of the sun, and then even put a pile of newspapers in the sun. I was sure he would go for it, but it was rejected fir the bench at the dining room table. Odd

So I guess I can’t be a cat decorator. Oh well.

M and I watched Inkheart last night, which was mostly good although the actor who played the father was pretty much not right. The girl was right, though, as was the aunt.


I think I am beginning to get used to this not-working thing. I’ve been to the gym yesterday and today. Yesterday I sat outside and read for a while. The good thing about sitting outside is that it’s good for garden planning and garden working. I moved some chairs into an excellent sunny corner, pulled some quantity of weeds, thought about what to do along the back fence.

Today I ran into two people I know leaving the gym and got invited to dinner on Saturday. Very productive

Yesterday M had an extra quadrille practice, and the weather was so beautiful that I sat outside and watched them. They’re really good. Quadrille is sort of like marching bang on horses and without instruments.

Tomorrow I’m taking the car in and then going to a movie with a friend.

My biggest fear is that this whole week is just going to whip by. I want to slow it down and savor every lazy minute, but that conflicts with my other plan which involves lots of cleaning and organizing.


At the moment, lazy is clearly winning.

Okay. Time for a shower.

The Good

  • We have a vase of orange and yellow ranunculus on the kitchen table.
  • M went to riding and is busy planning for the quadrille team’s show next week, for which she is the groom. She appears to be excited but not terrified, and that’s a good thing.
  • It appears that the situation (involving police and lawyers) for M’s friend is not as bad as I’d been lead to believe. In any case, I spoke to his mother, offered to help if I can, and I feel slightly better about the whole thing. I like his mother. I like him, too. How are teenagers to be protected from themselves?
  • I spoke to N on the phone and she seems downright cheery. Her highschool friend E is visiting from San Diego — she had a free ticket. Who knew? But that’s nice. Apparently N is going to minor in Russian, or Russian studies, or something. So, she’s growing up and making rational decisions. It was actually a huge relief to talk to her and hear her sounding so good.
  • In honor of the fact that I have all next week off to do as I please, during which I plan to clean the attic, wash the kitchen floor and improve the flagstone placement in the yard, I’m planning to spend the rest of today lying on the couch reading. I resolve not to feel guilty about it. It will be my little treat. Then we’ll have pizza for dinner.