The door was rotting and needed to be replaced. One week ago today, my son and his friend Dave, got the job done. It was a big job. Heavy door to remove, heavier door to replace. It’s not quite finished — still needs painting on all sides, but we will get to it as soon as we can. Meanwhile, this is structure!
Everywhere I’ve ever lived has been dirty and full of bugs. Most buildings are full of insects which, because people and insects are a relationship non-starter, we try to ignore and when that fails to work, we spray, poison, swat, and squash.
Dirt is ubiquitous too. New York was dirty. Air, streets, sidewalks. Its suburbs are full of pollen and leaves and the city was plain filthy. Jerusalem had almost no air pollution — no factories worth mentioning — but it was full of sand with the grit of the Negev everywhere. Boston is normally as dirty as any other major American city, but during the Big Dig, it took on exciting new levels of grime, building dirt and all the crud which comes with demolishing roads, old bridges, decrepit buildings, roads, and sidewalks. Although bucolic Uxbridge has (mostly) trees. trees are their own dirt on a stick. Pollen. Leaves. Dead leaves. Acorns, pods. Seeds. And don’t forget the bugs.
Our bug guy says we don’t even want to know what’s out there. There are things we are best off not knowing. I get the creeps not thinking about it.
Life is messy. Everything is one more item doomed to add grime to your world. Cooking, pets, shoes, clothing. Furniture. All the small adorable things on shelves and the pictures on the walls. They are all items waiting to be encrusted with filth. The paws of your dogs go places you probably would rather not imagine. Sometimes, they drag things in from the outside that might have legs and start to move. Ew.
So what has this to do with trance?
Becoming entranced is the only way to not notice the accumulating mess. No matter how much you clean, somewhere you have yet to notice, it is building. Waiting for you. You could clean all the time, 24/7 and there would be more dirt you missed. Trance — self-induced — is our only hope of survival. We all have things we clean so we feel if the shower is clean and the windows shine, everything else must also be clean.
It’s a trick. Nothing is really clean and never will be.
I am in favor of deeper trances. Trances so total they obliterate reality and if you consider the state of the world, that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. If I’m going to have to live in a grimy world full of things that crawl, slither, and scurry, I don’t want to know. If my own self-entrancing is insufficient, I might need help getting it right.
I thought I would add new hallways today. Although you have undoubtedly seen these hallways before, these are the hallways of today as opposed to earlier hallways. I allowed the yellow (and at least one red) to shine through the monochrome. I’m working on the technique, but I’m not there yet.
I decided to add a few other hallways from earlier shoots, just so the post would be a less dull. There. Now I’ve done my job!
I had arranged for Shawn Perry (Clear Vision Construction) to fix the front door. He wasn’t doing the work himself, but sent two guys to do it. The quality of the work is possibly the worst I’ve seen.
The name: Clear Vision Construction, Owner: Shawn Perry. If he was on your list, you might want to find a different guy. He has worked three other states and by now, he’s no doubt working a fourth. There are too many guys like this in the contractor or construction business. Typically, they target older people. We were perfect patsies.
They come into their “new” territory, do a few jobs, get a couple of recommendations. Next, they line up a batch of people like us, take the money and run. After all these years, you’d think I’d have learned. Sadly, you never get too old to get ripped off. It’s not only that they stole your money: it’s the humiliation of getting taken for a ride. Again. Trusting people used to be “the norm.” Now, it’s aberrant behavior. The world has turned.
You can write “the paper.” Sign it. But, in the end, if both parties don’t live up to an agreement, it’s a worthless. Substandard? I’m pretty sure this is at the bottom of substandard.
I didn’t drink coffee until I was in my thirties, but from the day I discovered coffee, there was no turning back. I never liked coffee at home. I think what I didn’t like was the coffee my parents made at home.
They made some kind of typical American style canned coffee. Savarin, I think it was. They used a percolator and I loved the smell of the coffee on the stove, but to me it didn’t taste like something worth pursuing. When I moved to Israel in 1979, I met real coffee for the first time and it was love. I didn’t meet regular coffee, either. I encountered Moroccan or Bedouin coffee.
Boiled in a feenjon with sugar and served with foam on top. In tiny little cups by Bedouins who had a little glint in their eye because each was sure their coffee was the best of the best. I never found The Best coffee because it always seemed to me that the last cup I had was indeed, the best. From there I expanded into Caffe Au Lait and other more standard brews, but always a lot stronger than the coffee I’d tried back in the U.S.
However. Before coffee, there was tea. Made from tea leaves and steeped in a proper teapot. Not bagged or boiled. Steeped. Five minutes in boiled water. You don’t need a lot of tea to make good tea. A little bit of The Good Stuff — fresh. Stored properly away from bright light and air.
When one of my fellow bloggers offered to send me some really good tea from India, I was thrilled. This was fresh tea from the fields where it grows. You can’t buy tea that fresh in the U.S. I’m pretty sure you can’t buy it anywhere except where it grows. After it arrived, I armed myself with a proper glass teapot that came with its own strainer and a couple of big glass mugs.
Coffee is for the morning. Coffee gets my feet moving on the ground. Clears the fuzziness from my brain and how good it tastes. But tea has its own space in my life.
Tea is for the evening. A couple of simple cookies and a cup of hot tea is settling. Peaceful. Comforting. It is the drink of the evening, the drink of long movies, and slow conversation.
There is a place for everything.
Last night, dinner was perfect. I cook dinner every night except for the few when we are away from home, order in, or actually go out to dinner. Not surprisingly, I spend a lot of time pondering what to cook.
When we lived in Boston, we ate out. A lot. There were so many good places to eat, too. A lot of our choices took us down to the wharf where they had some great places for fish and lobster and clams. A lot of them were shorts and sandals kinds of places and some of these rather rough little restaurants had the best seafood you could imagine.
Then came The Big Dig. Between the construction which seemed to have closed every street in Boston and turned the usually difficult traffic into a calamity, those restaurants disappeared. Some of them reopened in other places in the city. They kept the same name, but they weren’t the same restaurants. They got fancy. All the effort that had previously gone into creating great food now went into dining room decor.
We left Boston. Of the many things we never imagined we’d miss was food.
The Blackstone Valley has its wonders. A beautiful place … with such pathetic restaurants. It must be something about we the people. Food is drab. No spices. Anything stronger than salt is regarded with deep suspicion, so bland is the name of the game. When anyone asks what we’ve got in the way of dining, I say “white bread and brown gravy.” But that’s not fair. A few places also make really good hamburgers.
We stopped going out to dinner except for very special occasions. I’m pretty sure there were better restaurants some years back, but they closed down. So we eat at home and periodically, we develop an intense boredom with food. It isn’t lack of appetite, though we don’t eat as much as we used to. It’s more that I can’t think of one more way to make chicken that doesn’t seem drab.
My goal in home food preparation is to keep feeding us without boring us into starvation.
Last night, I made “breakfast for dinner.” We don’t eat breakfast. We have coffee. I have an English muffin too. Garry just drinks a lot of coffee. Sandwiches suffice for lunch. This week, we’ve had chili, one of my standards. Sweet-and-sour chicken. Baked salmon. Shrimp with onions and peppers over rice. And frozen pizza.
I had cheese, bacon, and eggs in the fridge. Time to do something with them.
I make bacon in the microwave. Do not judge me. I do not like cleaning grease off half the kitchen after frying bacon, so I have developed a way of cooking it in the microwave that skips most of the grease and still turns out a pretty good platter. Timing has been the major issue, but last night I got it perfect. For 8 slices of bacon, two layers of paper towels on a platter (make sure it is small enough to rotate). Another double layer of towels on top of the raw bacon. Cook at full power for five minutes. Let it sit for a minute or two. Turn it back on for another 2-1/2 minutes at full power. Perfect and not all wrinkly. Chewy, but not raw. Everything was still hot when it got to the plate — a small miracle in its own right.
Even the cheese omelets were perfect. I was still congratulating myself on dinner as we were going to bed.
It has been a long month and it’s not over. This was a little victory, but a victory. One dinner where each piece was as close to perfect as it could make it. Easy to clean up after, too. If I have to spend an hour cleaning up the mess, I feel a lot less victorious.
It’s the small things, you know? Big things can be overwhelming. These days, in a time when there is far too much “big stuff” blowing in the wind, my world is complete if dinner is perfect. Small victories help keep the wheels of life rolling smoothly.
The difference between two and three dogs is probably the smell … and of course, it is (naturally!) pouring. Which definitely improved the fragrance.
And I don’t mean it’s raining a little bit. We don’t get trickles of rain. No drizzle. No fog. It is pouring. It has been doing that a lot recently.
We went to be about 1:30 in the morning with three dogs. I woke up at 6:42 this morning being told the original owners (the ones living in a truck) wanted their dog back.
I said “Back to the truck? They want to put Duke in the truck?”
She said she wasn’t happy about this and I said “Think of the dog. I’m pretty sure HE is not going to be happy about it either.” I told Garry and he was downright hostile. Meanwhile, what with the rain pelting down, we needed to push all three of them out the door. They were gathered by the door. Circling. Watching the rain fall. No one was going out.
I told them to go out. With Garry who was sufficiently pissed off and agitated to have gotten up too. They were reasonably amenable. The heavier rain was yet to come and it was only “just raining” as opposed to “pouring.”
Back to bed. Phone rang.
Previous Duke owner: “Never mind. I got snappy about it and they said, well, okay, I suppose it must be nice for him to have a yard to play in.”
You think? I woke Garry. “The dog is back.”
“Right,” he said.
The phone rang again. This time, it was the bug guy reminding us he’ll be back tomorrow to spray for the damned ants. “Thank you,” I said and went back to sleep for another hour before I got that mental itch that told me it was time to be up and about.
The dogs were gathered in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs again. Watching the door suspiciously and circling. Obviously, they needed to go out. But they don’t like rain.
“Go OUT,” I said. “All of you. Out.” Duke ran upstairs and I chased him around the table in the living room until he fled to the door. Then they all tried to go out at once, which I swear is something they got from watching movies of circus dogs.
“One at a time, you dummies. One dog at a TIME.” I’m sure they do that on purpose to aggravate us.
There were toys everywhere, from front hall, up the stairs, and covering every piece of furniture and floor in the living room. And there was that unmissable “wet dog” smell … something I hadn’t sniffed since Bishop passed. It must be the difference between types of fur on the dogs. Duke has that longish fur while the Scotties have Terrier hair which isn’t fur and smells different. Not better, mind you. Just different.
I looked around, hoping it was just wet dog smell. My reward was that it was only wet dog, nothing more insidious.
About “dumb dogs.” Previous owners assured us Duke isn’t smart. In just about 12 hours, he has figured out how to do anything any other dog does without coaxing from us. So I have to ask what they think a smart dog is like? Do the smart ones have a manual with instructions they memorize? Can they do arithmetic? Calculus? Read in French?
He found the doggy door and can go in and out. Found the water, the toys. Though he has clearly demonstrated he can easily jump both the kitchen and hallway fences, after being firmly told “no,” he stopped trying., at least while I’m looking. I’m pretty sure he was in the kitchen at some point, probably because all the bottles on the floor were knocked over. At least he didn’t eat anything.
That’s smarter than most kids.
They told us he doesn’t like being petted but he doesn’t seem to want anything else and when we aren’t petting him, he waits patiently on the rug in front of us, looking at us searchingly for signs of petting to come. He has located the treat boxes, but hasn’t figure out how to open them. Yet.
How smart was he supposed to be?