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There’s Not a Name for This One

I took my dog out tonight earlier than usual.  In part it was because if I waited much longer I knew I would become one with the couch.  Also because this heat has gotten me so exhausted that I know that my life and livelihood needs me to be getting more sleep.  So earlier to rise is (hopefully) on the horizon. It’s a different vibe going out just an hour or two earlier.  Even though there weren’t a lot of people out and about tonight, there was a handful.  And while there were not many milling about, there was a sense of activity in houses that usually are quiet and sleeping by the time I pass by.  I didn’t feel as free to examine their yards the way I usually will stop and study how a rose is supported in one neighbor’s yard or what’s in the freshly spread mulch in another’s.  I got quickly into the zone, though, and my dog and I were right in step.  I struggled with her when I first got her.  She always pulled when we walked, and was too antsy.  Over time, we’ve settled into this, though, and I’ve only realized in recent weeks what a mediation it is to spend this brief, and usually daily, jaunt with her.

As we were rounding the corner to almost our block, not too far from the subway station, I saw a man and a woman crossing the street.  Maybe they were from Bangladesh, maybe Pakistan.  She was in a traditional sari.  He, I don’t remember.  I couldn’t tell whether he was child or husband, but I sensed almost immediately that there was discord.  In the middle of crossing the street, with me and my dog just about ten or so feet behind them, he dropped three bags on the ground.  I could tell from their shape they were shoe boxes.  She barely hesitated, and kept right on walking.  Flip, click, flip, in sandals that neither hurried up nor slowed down.  I almost asked if he wanted help picking them up.  It crossed my mind how I commit to wishing fellow elevator dwellers a good day when it’s just down to the two of us.  Then something stopped me.  I crossed off to the side and kept walking.  Sometimes it’s better to have to stand alone in the evidence of your anger.

I walked the rest of the block home.  We passed by the first sunflower of the year I’ve seen.  I noticed the hydrangeas, which this year have been more full and color-bursting  — like they had been dusted with magic pigment — than I’ve ever seen them, showing just the hint of receding, withdrawing to take their seasons’ rest.  I wondered if it’s too late to plant some sunflowers.  They just make me so damn happy when I see them.

I wondered at my lack of anger as of late.  It’s like it’s just an emotion that’s deserted me, and that feels so alien when I encounter it.  I understand being annoyed.  There are many things I disagree with — ineffective or ineffectual methods and approaches that get my goat.  But nothing really ‘burns me up’ lately.  I wonder if it’s the heat.  I wonder if I can take some credit for the wisdom to move away from sources of those things.  I wonder if I’m just lucky right now, and should not spend too much time thinking about it because certainly something will come along that will boil my blood.

I walked up the stairs of my front porch and went to get my key.  My mother is visiting.  The door was unlocked.  I thought she was locking it behind me.  She left it unlocked.  That could have been quite dangerous.  I open the door.  Every light is on.  That is expensive.  It is warm.  She is coming in the back door, and has just had a cigarette.  I tried very hard before I finally quit, after more than twenty years a smoker.  The temperature starts to rise.  I kick off my shoes, and come upstairs to write.  It’s not really such a big deal, after all.  She very well may be my favorite person on earth.  And our time here is short.

But she did just come to tell me the fan was on too high, and to micromanage though she really has no clue she does it.  “I’ll be right down,…”  “Oh, no, don’t feel like you have to,” she starts to tell me.  She is not understanding my tone.  “I’ll be right down, Mom,” I say with enough strain in my voice that she understands the message (“please get out right now.  Leave me alone.  You have just walked into my space uninvited and told me how to do something differently I have not asked you about.  I love you but sometimes you drive me crazy.  Maybe you even make me angry”).  Bah, in a minute I’ll be down there with her enjoying a glass of wine and sitting again in the moment of “our time here is short.”  I guess anger has its place and purpose.  It’s as much about how it’s expressed as it is how it’s felt.  I’m just not crazy about either.

15 responses to “There’s Not a Name for This One

  1. Ralph ⋅

    I am a habitual door locker. Once, driving a friend’s truck upstate we pulled into someone’s yard, and getting out I locked the doors automatically. It didn’t take long before someone noticed I locked the doors with all the truck’s windows wide open. That produced a few good laughs from everyone- ‘those city folk’ type thing. Come to find out a little later, at least in this small town people for the most part not only didn’t lock their car doors, but frequently didn’t lock the front door to their house. Apparently looking puzzled over that they offered an explanation. Everyone pretty much knew everyone else, and nobody would enter someone else’s home uninvited or unannounced. Perhaps still seeming puzzled they explained their little town was not like the city, and a stranger prowling on someone’s property would be approached by the owner or a neighbor, either one probably with a gun on them. In the case of an unannounced stranger in your house, in all probability they would be greeted by a shotgun. Whoever it was had better have a damn good explanation of what they were doing inside! Even so, these people were very friendly and polite, respectful of others.
    That may seem extreme to some people, but it seemed to be quite an effective system where everyone respected each other and their property, watched out for their neighbors- and there was no crime to speak of. I would like to think things remain the same to this day. I could easily see how someone coming from an environment like that would not lock things up, much as I would keep everything locked if I were move to that little town.

    Most of the homes in my area have grass lawns out front , maybe with a small area near the building having a couple small trees or flowers- mine included. There are some fancily cut hedges here and there, but like mine mostly grass. My efforts go into the back yard leaving the front to a gardener. I know nobody will be stopping to look at or take pictures of my front yard. Actually even if it were visible from the street nobody would stop to look at my back yard either. The majority of it is weeds, and at least for now that’s intentional. Even, or perhaps more so, I appreciate seeing someone’s nice garden. It takes effort and knowledge to plan and maintain a good looking garden.

  2. Ralph ⋅

    It’s funny that this thread was titled “There’s not a name for this one”, because I heard a program where they had a name for this same thing. It was “Powdered butt syndrome”. The explanation was that once someone washes and powders your butt (as in a parent raising a child) it is hard for them to take advice from their child. There are exceptions of cause, but generally the parent will always know more and better- and that’s a very hard thing to change.

  3. Ralph ⋅

    Totally off topic, and I CAN think of a few names for this one. Here’s a short quote from the link that follows:

    “Once again we are provided with ample evidence that not only is the government ill-prepared to handle a large scale city-wide emergency, but the residents of this nation are completely oblivious to the fact that if the shit hits the fan, no one will be there to provide assistance”.

    If anyone hasn’t already stored away a few gallons of water, flashlights, and a few days of food maybe the story above will help you consider doing so. This happened in Washington DC, not some third world country!

  4. Den ⋅

    Well said. I love your writing. Tell your Mamma to stop smoking.

  5. Ralph ⋅

    If anyone was interested in buying US made leather goods but found the prices too high, or maybe something aside from belts was of interest, check out

    They have a variety of items including belts, cases, luggage, and accessories from about $20 up. They also have something unusual- a list of links to some of their competitors. Check Saddle Back Leather then follow some of their links (I took a quick look at Coach) and compare. From what I’ve seen, these small US shops make things that are meant to last:

  6. bellesogni ⋅

    I love sunflowers too. They always seem cheerful to me.

    I understand your feelings about anger. I personally think that the more we understand others the less we are moved to feel anger.

    • Revel

      I agree. I think it’s also a matter of opening the heart and shutting the mouth. I recently had a mini-conflict with an old friend of mine. He called me a bulldozer (which is pretty funny to the gardener in me). Instead of reacting, I just listened to everything he had to say and waited until he stopped talking (not just paused but really stopped). That seemed to help. I certainly wasn’t feeling rankled by the time I spoke (and the bulldozer in me who wanted to interrupt him certainly had some rankling bubbling up when he first said it). I just posted in response to Ralph about the death of a sunflower in my yard recently. Pretty disappointing, especially since it was my only one this season…so far.

  7. Ralph ⋅

    Last year I had a few sunflowers growing which never got as tall as they were supposed to, maybe 4 feet tall. They had a hard time staying upright without some help. I used to watch bees on the flowers. As they moved about pollen would actually fall out of the flower and drift toward the ground. Probably not the greatest thing for allergies, the rest of the garden no doubt benefited a lot from them. For some unplanned reason this post reminded me that I didn’t plant any sunflowers this year. I’ll have to see if it’s too late in the season. Has anyone ever planted a sunflower in a pot and had luck keeping it alive indoors over the winter?

    • Revel

      I haven’t tried that myself. In fact, I did recently go ahead and buy a potted sunflower that looked nice, healthy and tall (for a potted one). It was maybe 1 1/2 ft tall. So I set it in the yard in the place I intended it to be, to see how it responded to that spot. It seemed quite happy, so after a few days, I put it in the ground. It was NOT happy. One of the first summer casualties. They are hard to take, sometimes, no matter that you know that not everything is going to make it. It’s hard for it not to feel like a personal failure – especially for me since I love sunflowers so much. So, long story long, I think it had nothing to do with the time of year. I think you’d be fine picking up a potted flower (prob. would be late for seeds although I never tried this late in the season and you never ever really know till you do), but I would maybe move it to a bigger planter once you have it, and try giving it a nice, really healthy soil mix. (On a podcast I heard recently – I think it was Jason Akers, self-sufficient gardener but he was recounting someone else’s advice – the message for soil was something like 1/3 sphagnum peat moss, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 vermiculite). I have had better luck transplanting into planters with that combo.

  8. Ralph ⋅

    The past couple weeks I’ve started to see some lightening bugs. Seeing them reminded me that I can’t recall seeing any the past couple years. My best guess is that the massive aerial spraying to control West Nile Virus killed many of them off.

    On a more positive note, I picked up 4 small pots of herbs for 25 cents each. Parsley, 2 Italian Oregano, and a patchouli plant for a ‘buck’. Maybe a dollar can still buy something good. I have to read up on patchouli. Aside from it’s being in one of my favorite soaps I don’t know a whole lot about it.

    A few episodes past on there was an interview with a farmer who used no chemicals. According to him, a solution for vine borers which has worked for him was planting catnip, then cutting the stems and putting them on the ground around his squash. I still have a fair amount of catnip seeds so maybe I’ll give squash a try next year. It’s worth a shot.

    • Revel

      The borage seeds you brought to the seed exchange are just beginning to sprout up in a planter I put them in a few weeks ago. Any suggestions re care/size of planter, etc? Where did you find 25 cent seedlings (I’m assuming that’s what they were?)? That’s a very good deal. I’m not familiar with a patchouli plant but I bet it smells wonderful!

  9. Ralph ⋅

    In the ground I never gave it any special attention. I don’t recall how long mine took to germinate, but a lot of plant’s schedules are off this year. They will eventually get blue flowers which the bees adore. The smaller leafs are good in salad, they have a cucumber like taste. Larger leafs are tougher. Originally I got borage for the bees. You can eat the blue flowers or freeze them in ice cubes for drinks, but I leave them for the bees. They make plenty of seeds after the flowers die and their size makes them easier to find. It’s a useful herb.

  10. Ralph ⋅

    Missed that, I found those 25 cent plants in the garden center of an Ace Hardware store in Pennsylvania. They were larger than seedlings with a few having roots coming out the drain holes in the pots.

    Patchouli was something I never heard of until I heard a program on home made soaps. The patchouli soap and spearmint are my favorites so far. When I checked Wikipedia for patchouli it was it’s used for sachets, insect repellants, perfumes, and alternative medicine:
    I need to look into this more.

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