Friday, September 28, 2012

Lost again

Good news first:  I now can mow my lawn!!!  With the help of two well-meaning neighbors, I finally sorted out what I was doing wrong and my lawnmower started last weekend on only the second try.  One of those neighbors even asked me if he could trim the edges with his new trimmer.

Um.  Sure?

Then he GAVE me an old manual trimmer which I love love love to pieces.  I wish I had more edges to trim. 

I know this will all get old soon enough but it's still new and wonderful.  And my garage smells like fresh mowed grass which is a nice smell anyway and now makes me feel successful and victorious and like a growed up woman.

And, even better, I now feel a little more at home because I have nice neighbors.  Which helps because last week when the pit bulls attacked us nobody came to help and I was starting to wonder if there was anyone out there anymore who actually gave a hoot about people.

On another note, I've read several blogs recently about writers who create fictitious online persona so that they can go onto sites like Amazon and Goodreads and dis the competition.  Now let me explain why I am shocked and horrified by this news.  You see, I've always kind of thought of writers as MORAL.  Because there is so little money or fame for most of us, I figured we did it out of a kind of hopeless, if loving, compulsion to create.  How much more of the already paltry money or fame could one really obtain from giving one star reviews to every other writer of similar genres on goodreads?  Or how much of the creative time it takes to write a fictitious scathing review is really recompensed adequately?  Wouldn't it be more useful just to work on the book at hand and let the process out there take care of itself?  I don't get it.  I thought, in this cold cruel world, that other writers would be my FRIENDS. 

Of course, I DO have friends of the writerly persuasion.  Thank goodness.  They talk me off the cliff.  They kindly point out the places where my book goes awry.  I couldn't survive without them.  I hope they aren't the exception to the rule, like the neighbors who came over unasked and helped me out of a jam this weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2012

lawn mowing and liberation

I want to mow my own lawn.

I've been dreaming of a garden for over a decade and now that I finally have property, I want to maintain ALL of it.  Every rock and weed.  So, the men who were mowing the lawn, who continued mowing the lawn after I bought it, like some old hereditary serfs, had to go.

Well, to excuse my heartless letting-go of hard working men in this economy, the lawn hadn't had more than a mow and a trim in YEARS.  It was 75 percent serge, dandelion, and some other noxious weed I couldn't identify, and just a little bit of grass.  The grass was hanging on for dear life.  So I organically fertilized and then began weeding and reseeding by hand.  A foot at a time.

The lawn men kept mowing everything.  The new seed, the old weeds.  I couldn't identify and pull the weeds, and my newly seeded grass was doomed.  So that was part of the reason.

I'll bet they laugh at me now.  The lawn is now great huge spots of brown recently seeded fertized ground, remaining serge, and foot long grass.  I'll bet they drive by and make disgusted noises and think 'serves that mean b**** right' when they see it.  It looks like the pelt of some great green molting animal.

I've got a lawn mower.  I bought it new.  I read the manual cover to cover.  And I can't start it.  I thought it was because of something I didn't put together correctly.  Or some basic misunderstanding about the mechanics of the thing, but I finally stooped to ask a young man for help. And he started it right away.

I mowed for a bit and then aggravated the machine in some way and it gave a great 'POP' and died.  I was too embarrassed to ask the young man again, so here I am with a half mowed lawn, weeds, lumps of fertilized as yet ungrown patches.  And a brand new shiny orange lawn mower.

This is my mother's fault. Or my father's.  I give them both equal responsibility for never teaching me this simple task.  I learned to cook, and iron and clean.  I can, resentfully but adequately, feed a room full of hungry men if necessary.

But I can't mow the damned lawn.  That was my brother's job.  That and taking out the trash.  I HAVE mastered that manly task, at least.

Alright it's nobody's fault but my own.  I like the idea of machines.  The plans and instructions.  I love computers.  Clean, transistors and mother boards and neat little cables and stuff.  But oily greasy hot things with metal parts and rows and rows of DANGER in the instructions just never turned my crank. 

I don't like to maintain my automobile either. 

I hang my head in shame.  I am a lousy feminist.

With an ugly lawn.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

new things

Firstly, I've finally 'moved in' to my new home.

I like it.  There's a lot more room, and a walled in garden for the dogs.  I've putzed around out there, moving stones and reinforcing walls.  I had some nice men come and take out trees.  I bought patio chairs and I sit at them in the evening, drinking mineral water and almost in tears with gratitude as I watch the sunset from the safety and quiet of my own little yard.  Several years ago times were really tough and I can't forget how close it all was to catastrophe.  This is a blessing and you'd think I'd be throwing parties, painting, decorating, throwing out old crap and generally celebrating owning my first home.

But mostly I've shoved the carefully packed boxes into closets, hunkered down in a chair in the corner of my nearly empty living room and entered a state of shock.

I realize that I don't do well with change.  This is a surprising realization because I imagined myself to still be the wild 19 year old rebel who moved 11 times in one year, dragging 5 boxes of books, an old samsonite suitcase and a skinny yellow cat with me all over Los Angeles.  But age and the various horrible events that life throws at one have made me nervous and careful and hermit-like.  If I didn't have a job I'd probably wander the house in an old stained robe, hair tangled and held haphazardly up with some pins;  spotty glasses crooked on my nose and no make up...  A female version of Howard Hughes in his dotage.

And then (worse!) I stumbled across the works of Alan Hollinghurst and that was my excuse for not attending to anything.  I'm on the fourth book now. 

I've got my desk in a room which will be a library/office.  Such a luxury!  I have an office that doesn't have to do duty as a guest room, or even as a storage room for all of my daughter's memorabilia.  But I can't work in there.  I go in, sit down.  Set my laptop up and look out the window and its just not right.  it's not the window I look out of when I'm working.  The palm tree with the family of rats is gone and there is this weird, foreign stucco wall.  Ugly little succulent ground cover.  A worrying stain of water near the front mat, coming from the house???

I get up from the desk and come back to my chair in the corner of the living room.  So far this is the only place I feel comfortable.  I've got a bunch of books on the boil, but I can't work on them.  I hate this.  It feels awful.

And then there are so many wonderful books to read, and a walled garden to sit in while reading them...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: The Line of Beauty

The Line of Beauty
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You perhaps shouldn't read this if you haven't yet read the book. it is a little bit spoilerish.

It is apt that the protagonist is a student of Henry James. His prose has a clear precise simplicity that James seemed to avoid, but in many ways they are like. The beautiful rich descriptions of impressions and the emotional effect of objects and people. And, of course, a study of the upper class which seemed, to me, almost predictable.

When I think of the eighties, especially the 'party' days, I think of coke and sex. So many of my friends became addicts, burning through their inheritance, their scholarships, their lives. Happily many of them are now alive and well and clean.

Not so for many of my friends who contracted HIV before there was any medical knowledge of the disease.

It seems horrible in retrospect. But Hollinghurst reminds us of the wonder, and joy and innocence as the decade opened.

There are so many wonderful sentences in the book. So many surprising little humorous moments that sneak up on you. He gets under the skin of things and stays there, moving flawlessly in the protags head, heart.

I just learned that there was a miniseries adapted from this book and that in it the protag 'cons' his way into an upper class family. This isn't at all what motivates the hero of the book. He's really just looking for love...

Beautiful. I've read it twice and set it aside to read again. What a pleasure.

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