August 2007 Archives

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Painted late at night after a meeting of friends. The house feels quiet after all the conversation and laughter. I can hear insects outside, and soft music on the radio, and the keys clicking on the computer as I type. We can sleep late tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. The long weekend will pull summer to a conclusion in a rhythm of gatherings and errands, conversations and companionable silences.

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On the table. A friend called and then stopped by to get some water - a break in a large city main this afternoon left certain neighborhoods with diminished pressure or no water at all. I happened to draw a water tower involved in the incident last winter, so I feel an extra level of connection to the news.

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The youngest member of our household was so excited to be wearing new shoes on the second day of school that she forgot to put on one of her socks this morning. I wish I could say that I noticed before dropping her at the entrance to the playground. After school when I asked her about it, she said that she didn't notice it either until part way through the day when she realized that one foot was warmer than the other. Apparently absent-mindedness doesn't skip generations. (And I guess the new shoes are very comfortable.)

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The standing lamp in one corner of the living room has been knocked over more times than I can count - it gets backed into, bumped by children, tripped over. We right it, replace the bulb if necessary, and go on. The shade has a slight warp in it now, and the last person who put it back left the seam showing in the front. We are not a raucous household, not given to tossing furniture about - the lamp is just tippy, poorly-designed. So why do we still have it? Because other than that, it works. And I think it acts as an early warning system that a game has gotten too rowdy, that grand gestures have gotten wild. (Crash. Sorry. You o.k.? Uh-huh.)

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Some sewing done this evening, and I left the thread out, imagining that I'll fix a couple more things before the end of the week. (Possible, but doubtful.)

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Ten miles of canoeing on the Clarion River took us around five hours today, as we were dawdling, and the river was low. Weather was spectacular - late summer clear sky with a few clouds and a light breeze. Drawn at home in ink from one of many pencil sketches.

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Heat and humidity continue to steam us. Our old house doesn't get hot easily, but at this point in the summer we welcome every thunderstorm, every slight breeze, every motion of a leaf.

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Went to a local cafe to hear poets read their work aloud tonight. Drew my coffee while I listened, listened while I drank it, and listened some more. The range and depth was phenomenal - and I am still hearing intonations, feeling the heat of metaphor, tasting a tomato, seeing an earwig in the sink. So many images - swirled with good caffeine and then time talking with friends afterwards. If there's a place in your community where poets read - go! Treat yourself. The world may be slightly different for you afterwards.

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My daughter has a collection of hotel lotions on her bureau.

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Local, and intensely flavored. Dessert tomorrow.

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So much rain, and before that, humidity. Paper, clothes, surfaces - all feel cooler and slightly damp.

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Detail from a pillow on the living room rug.

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Ripening on the kitchen counter. I'm thinking of putting them on homemade pizza tomorrow night, unless they disappear into sandwiches at lunchtime.

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Almost in silhouette in a semi-darkened room. Everyone else is either upstairs or asleep. Or both.

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Candles left on the table after the birthday dinner. Seventeen years old. Happy birthday to our oldest child!

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She threads herself through the space between the arm and the chair. She lies on the seat and stretches her feet up the back. Now she's facing forward. Now, with head hidden completely, foot kicking, she is almost still. We are coming down on the far side of summer vacation - soon the bedtimes will come earlier and no one will sleep in - but school is still more than a week away. For now, we let ourselves stay up a little too late...

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On the table beside my chair. I think of Wendell Berry:

Throwing Away the Mail

Nothing is simple,
not even simplification.
Thus, throwing away
the mail, I exchange
the complexity of duty
for the simplicity of guilt.

(Donald Hall once said that that was the wickedest poem he had ever heard.)

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Travels on foot led to a cafe. (Given the coffee thoughts of the last couple of days, I guess it was bound to happen.) While my daughter ate ice cream - mint chocolate chip - I drank a latte and then drew the glass pastry domes on the counter.

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Living dangerously, I gather...

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I may regret it at this hour, but the taste - mmm. Our discovery of the summer is a new way of making iced coffee, courtesy of the New York Times. Cold brewing turns out to be easy - one pound of ground coffee to 8-10 cups of water steeped in a non-reactive container for 12-14 hours. Strain three times and refrigerate. Mix one part of this cold concentrate to three parts cold milk. Ice is optional.

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The living room is on the western side of the house, and gets brighter as the day goes on.

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Not quite perfectly ripe - yet - but one of the first local ones of the year. The smell alone makes me hungry. I don't know if I can bear to keep it on the counter long enough for it to ripen perfectly.

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Three different lines of thunderstorms came though town today. I am pretending that the temperature is cooler than it was before the rains came.

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In our crate of vegetables today - an immense bunch of chard.

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Keeping a child company as she resists sleep. Even with fans running, the night is hot, the air is thick. I draw the reflection in part of the mirror - a section of ceiling, a corner where walls meet, part of a doorway. This is only a part of my day - a time for the edges of things and thoughts of what is just out of my view.

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I like to forget that I say the same things over and over to my children. Then one of them bites into a nectarine. "Mm... tastes like summer," and I hear my own intonation in a younger voice, half teasing me, half serious in appreciation.

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We did get rain, after all. A steady soaking, beginning early in the afternoon (while we were out on a walk). Good cool sleeping weather, now. The sound of rain on roofs and leaves muffles most other city sounds; I can hear the occasional hush of wet tires as a car passes.

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Wilting in the heat a bit - we could use some rain. Thunderstorms a possibility tomorrow, so maybe everything will get a good soaking then...

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A Pink Pearl eraser, found between the sofa cushions yesterday.

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Painting a picture makes me feel that I have dealt with this zucchini - and yet, when I'm finished, it is still on the counter. With five others.

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My older fountain pen has a heavier nib and the ink feels darker, thicker. The relation of line to space is different, and I find a new balance. (Sometimes it only takes a small change to let me see different possibilities.)

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