We made jam!


Former Houseguest picked the plums, then we watched Jeopardy, then we made jam! 5.5 quarts of fruit yielded about 7 jars. Tasty, too.

And it’s the end of the week. M has survived her three 8 hour-straight days of art classes at the community college. It was a gamble — they were really cheap — but it’s paid off. She’s in awe of the other students and working hard in both classes. I survived four retirement parties, three pleasant and one dire, plus went to a baseball game AND made jam, in addition to keeping two flats of unplanted flowers alive and going to the art store twice.

This weekend: planting the remaining flowers; going to the free day at the Oakland Museum (Daniel Clowes exhibit, plus California art); another batch of jam? there are more plums . . . ; maybe a hike? If it’s hot, it might be nice to go to the ocean . . .

We shall see.

Not sure why, but I seem to have recovered from my lethal exhaustion. Thank god.

Long week


I do not know why this feels like the longest week in the history of the world, but it does. I had to run out last night to get pastels with M (this is what happens when you don’t teach your kids to drive) so I still haven’t planted that flat of snapdragons.

It just feels like I’m behind, and I am. Maybe I don’t normally worry about it, but if that’s the case, why am I worrying now?

Anyway, one of the former houseguests is coming over tonight and we’re going to make jam out of the wild plums in the backyard. That seems like a virtuous enterprise.

And it’s nearly the weekend — so there’s some hope I’ll catch up.

Yeah, right.

Where I was last night . . .


Excellent spot to watch dusk fall over the bay —

I feel like the Moffats of late — did you read those books? West Haven was a small town. The Moffats, who lived there in what, the twenties? had no car and walked or took the streetcar everywhere. Yesterday I walked to work and back, then walked to the train, and from the train walked to the ball park, then from the ball park to the train and then back home. And in between I walked to the grocery store. M and I may take the bus down to the art store today.

It’s easier with an i-phone — you can tell when buses and trains will arrive.

It also helps to live close to downtown.

Lentil salad

Back at work. Just ate the lentil salad. Yum.

I dragged M around the garden this morning so she could admire all I’d done — since she was a major reason (she came to the nursery with me) that there were so many plants in the first place.

In the end, yesterday was a satisfying day after all. When I could garden no more I came in and took a nap, then made the salad, leaving out all ingredients we did not have in the house. K called and we agreed he would pick up a roasted chicken on the way home, which we ate with the salad. After dinner I took a shower and read the book I was then in the middle of — The Ape in the Tree: An Intellectual and Natural History of Proconsul — which is fascinating. The story of this early ape is interesting in itself, but the story of how they figured out the story of the ape, and the book is about both, is even more interesting. M had been at the Pride parade all day and returned at about 9:30, looking sun-burned and worn out. I read until 11 and then went to bed.

So that is the story of yesterday.

I’ll let you know about today tomorrow.


It’s the sort of Sunday that was bound to be frustrating no matter what I did. I went to the nursery last weekend and got an enormous number of plants. I’ve actually planted a lot of them, and I’m doing it carefully and with thought to what I want where. I’ve made a new bed in the back yard, and I’ve also expanded the vegetable bed. I’ve got at least half of them planted, and I should feel satisfied, and in fact I do, except that I’d also wanted to use the day to:

  • hang out the laundry
  • take a nap
  • read a book
  • clean the kitchen
  • go grocery shopping
  • make a lentil salad or something that I can take to work for lunch next week
  • construct two lawn chairs
  • sit on the lawn chairs
  • make plum jam

There was never any way that even an eighth of that was practical, but it all feels pressing.

I think I may give the rest of the plants a good watering and leave them for another day. I really do have to go to the grocery store. I could take a little rest, read my book, take a shower and then go to the grocery store and make the salad when I get back. That’s reasonable.

I am very tired.


I’ve got so much to do I can barely get started. In fact, I’ve got two loads of laundry going and I have been outside to look over the garden, but mostly I have sat on the couch reading The Ape in the Tree by Alan Walker, but apparently really by his wife, Pat Shipman. He writes about paleontology — he is a paleontologist — and his books are fascinating. I recently The Wisdom of the Bones which M was assigned for an anthropology class and that was fascinating, too.

I think part of my problem may be that when you get out of the sun it’s actually quite chilly. Somehow that’s making me reluctant to go outside and start digging, which is what I really need to do. I should also go to the farmer’s market and the library, but I really don’t want to.

We went to a solstice party last night which was quite fun, although in general I am opposed to going out on a Friday night when I really just want to come home and go to sleep. I ran into some people I knew when the kids were in high school. They are quite worried about their son, who also just graduated. He actually sounds just fine to me, but he has apparently defied parental guidance and is now unemployed in the city where he went to college (but not actually completely unemployed — more like underemployed). It makes me more pleased than ever that N figured out something to do all on her own. It’s socially beneficial (converting vacant city lots to community gardens and running nutritional programs and cooking classes), it covers her rent (rent is pretty cheap in Maine), she’s happy, and she arranged it all on her own — I don’t think I could ask for any more than that. It occurs to me that I am really proud of her for figuring it all out, and really proud of myself for raising such a successful kid. Yay us!

I am actually really proud of myself for realizing that success for her was going to be on her own terms, too — something that I think might help these other parents if they could only see it. It’s something I’ve always aspired to as a parent, but which is not always easy in practice, and I think I have to attribute some of the fact that her idea of success in this case actually does comport with my idea of success to sheer blind good fortune, but I don’t care — I’ll take it.

I’m still breathing a long sigh of relief that we got one through college and she seems to be launched and doing well. I just knocked on wood. It’s not anything you can really take for granted, all the while you have to go along acting if it’s the most normal and unremarkable thing in the world — of course your child will turn out okay! It’s just an extension of the feeling you have when they’re born — that having a child is like suddenly having your heart walking around exposed in the world without you. I imagine it will feel like that as long as I’m alive.

But I guess it’s okay to revel, quietly, in having made it this far.


In the thick of it now


We had a lovely birthday bonfire in the back yard last night. Here’s to many more, and a long summer —

It gets cold here even before the sun sets, and we’re not very far north so the sun sets around 8:35. It’s not a long day. So we ate around the fire pit and hung out until the fire burned down and the stars came out. We could see the big dipper right above our heads.

My hair still smells like smoke.

Happy first day of summer!


Birthday party prep part one: lentil salad. Yum. (Then I vacuumed, and then I made chocolate cake.)

Okay, summer is in full swing, now. I realize I was just waiting for my birthday to notice. The campus is suddenly overrun with younger kids taking summer classes — I emerged from the underground lair yesterday afternoon into a flock of sketchers drawing our building, and this morning, by the memorial reflecting pool, a group of kids sitting on the granite benches were furiously writing essays.

A few more hours here and then I’m off home to finish up the prep — removing rotting wild plums and spiderwebs from the outdoor furniture and getting the bonfire ready to go, and carrying all the suitcases back down to the basement.

Imagine what out house would look like if we never had anyone over.

Happy summer!