Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

The World’s Fastest Indian

June 16, 2008

It’s not often that I recommend films and the like, but I feel obligated to push this one out there. A couple of weeks ago, a friend recommended “The World’s Fastest Indian,” a movie about Burt Munro, a slightly eccentric codger from New Zealand who set the land speed record for streamlined vehicles with engines under 1000 ccs. His last record at Bonneville has stood for more than 40 years. Anthony Hopkins plays Munro. I think this is my favorite of all his performances.

I’ve spent a very large share of my life around amateur car racers, and the first word that somes to mind to describe this film is “authentic.” It’s incredibly well done, very real, and I’ll probably watch it again. Soon.

It’s been a lovely Father’s Day. The Sunday morning free-write at Carla’s went well, and I think I got two potentially strong poems from it. The sun is shining and the garden is finally growing. Tonight we ate fresh (from local waters) halibut with a shrimp (ditto) salad with a spicy homemade louis dressing, and sourdough bread. The lettuce was from the garden and the dill on the halibut was dried from last year’s garden. The wine was Barefoot’s Pinot Grigio, highly rated by the Wall Street Journal a week or two ago but a little sweet for my taste. Very drinkable, though, and at $5 or so a bottle at Freddy’s, a pretty good buy.

Inger called to give her dad a long-distance hug.

All in all, a very satisfying day.

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Josh B., where are you when I really need you?

January 17, 2008

Buster and I are back. We had a grand adventure, as promised.

Buster is my little truck. I’ve never named a car before, but I’ve never had one wink at me in the dealer parking lot before either. It felt like he deserved a name.

Buster is the first car I ever bought all by myself (I mean without the help of a male person of some sort or other). I got a good price without assistance, and after somewhat over 100,000 miles, I think I got a pretty good little truck, too.

For the last 10 days, I’ve been a “residency assistant” at my old MFA in writing program. One of the blessings of being retired (and there are many) is that you have a lot of freedom in arranging your schedule. So when the call went out for program graduates who could come for the 10-day residency and do assorted stuff, I raised my hand.

My responsibilities were nebulous, mostly introducing writers at their readings and doing a little airport ferry duty. Buster becomes important in this part, because the airport runs were all on Sunday and Monday. You may recall that we had a little snow and ice those days.

Buster performed like a champion snow car (frankly much to my surprise), slipping occasionally but getting us safely from here to there past spinouts, head-on collisions and rolled-over semis. I never even had to chain up, which hurt my feelings not at all. The Monday morning trip to the airport over Hwy 30 took nearly 4 hours. The return trip, when things were thawed, was just over 2 hours.

In exchange for these light duties, I got to attend 10 days of lectures and readings by world-class writers, drink a LOT of Keoki coffee (just what my bronchitis needed, I’m pleased to report), and eat fresh seafood for a week or so in Seaside. I’ve OD’d on Dungeness crab and razor clams. The paying folks spend about $2,000 for this experience. I got it for free.

Long days of readings and writing craft discussions were topped off with evenings of sincere discussion of the curvature of space/time, Frank O’Hara’s “Lunch Poems,” games of Catch Phrase, and other really important matters.

So I’m back. One of the things I found in Seaside was my Mario hat. I was sure it would improve my power star accumulating ability by leaps and bounds. But the truth of the matter is, even with my magic hat, Major Burrows is still kicking my butt. And I thought we had mole problems on the golf course. . .

So, Josh–what do I do about this guy? Several times I’ve had him running down the trail holding his rear in pain. Then he turns around and offs me, and I seem helpless to prevent it. Any suggestions?

The forest damage from the December storms around Seaside and Astoria is mind-boggling. Picture a hillside of a couple of hundred acres with a half-mature forest on it, thousands and thousands of trees 20-25 years old at a rough guess. All but about 50 of the trees are simply blown over, lying flat on the ground. The “survivors” are all broken off about halfway up. There’s not a single tree intact. It was like a massive explosion or meteor strike or something. It was one of the saddest things I’ve seen in a long time.

I’ll write more tomorrow, but after all that fun and frolic, I’m really bushed tonight “and so to bed.”

Josh, I’m counting on you to tell me how to finish off Major Burrows before I throw the Wii controller through Ralph’s TV set.

Goodbye to 2007, reflections, and a few interesting discoveries

January 1, 2008

And I wish I could say I’m going to miss this year, but the truth of the matter is, it’s been a mixed bag, so I don’t know if I will or not. But at least it’s been interesting. . .

Yesterday I heard of a Scottish custom for celebrating the changing of the calendar that I really like. At midnight you open the front door to let the new year in, then rush to the back door and open it to let the old year out. Beats the heck out of getting smashed and throwing up all over yourself and everyone close. . .

But I couldn’t help but wonder: What if you reversed the order and let the old year out before you let the new one in? Would it stop time for the moment? (I’m not usually this weird but I’ve been listening to a series of lectures on physics, and the lecturer has me thinking about the non-absolute characteristic of time. So that speculation isn’t as far fetched as it seems.)

There’s an article in the current issue of Archaeology magazine about the henge builders (think Stonehenge). One of the things we discovered this year was that we have our very own henge on this place, although it’s made of trees, not stones.

One of our serious landmarks is a very large (over 200′ tall according to my astrolabe) pair of Douglas fir trees. They escaped the logging that was done in the early 1960s (just before Ben bought the place) because they functioned as the tailholt for the tower cable (an anchor that holds the lower end of the cable in place). A piece of the cable still sticks out from where they have grown together over the years. They’re very very lovely, but that’s not the most remarkable thing about them.

The most remarkable thing about this pair of trees is that on the winter solstice, the sun sets right between them. It’s a beautiful thing to see and a good thing to know (especially if calendars should disappear one of these days, not a totally unthinkable event in these interesting times).

It’s very cold since the rain stopped, but that has its advantages, too. I started the kitchen stove first thing this morning because it puts out heat so much faster than the living room stove. So by breakfast time I had a hot oven, and we were able to feast on skillet-baked cornbread, bacon, scrambled eggs, and fresh, sweet orange wedges, the kind you only seem to be able to get in the winter.

One of this year’s real plusses is that I’ve had the time to become very good friends with my wood cookstove. I haven’t attempted a cake yet (mostly because none of us particularly likes cake), but I’ve run just about everything else through it. I’m getting very spoiled.

I discovered a piece of cookware I don’t have (Ben says that’s impossible). I don’t have an apfelskiver pan. I think that’s a very good thing. They look like a great deal of trouble to bake, and I suspect that other apple things taste as good or better. So I’m not looking for one.

And of course, I discovered White Lily flour. I’m still making discoveries about how to use it, when to mix it with other flours to get the desired result (for example, scones made with pure White Lily flour are too cakey for my taste, but if I add a little hard wheat flour (about 3 parts WL to 2 parts hard wheat) the texture is perfect.

And speaking of scones, you may remember that one of my goals was to find the perfect scone recipe. I hit it second time out, so now I’m messing with various additions for flavor. I used to think that apricot scones topped with apricot or peach jam were the best, but that was before I added some crystalized ginger to my plain scone dough.

The local co-op has a million varieties of organic crystalized or candied dried fruits, so I’m not through experimenting. But it’s hard to imagine anything better than that ginger. . .

One recent discovery is wonderful. Living off the grid as we do, I’ve become somewhat of an expert in flashlights. We’ve tried a number of LED mini-maglites with varying amounts of success. The problem with most of them is that a) they cost about $20, and b) they may be very bright up close but they don’t project. But I stumbled onto this weird little mini-mag (brand Performance Tool, made in China, of course, in a variety of bright metallic colors and basic black, but since I rarely chew on my flashlights, I doubt that there’s a problem here). It’s about 4 inches long, fits nicely in pocket, purse, or glovebox, uses 3 AAA batteries (don’t know the life expectancy yet, but with the LED lamps I’m expecting wonderful things), and projects its brightness about 25 yards (or roughly as far as you can shoot accurately with a pistol, even a good one). I liked it so much I bought a bunch of them ($3.50 each at Bi-Mart) and have scattered them around in useful places. I even have one by the stove for an oven light. And since I ended up for some strange reason (tied, I’m sure to a battery-buying binge I went on when I moved out here) with a surplus of AAA batteries, I think I’m getting a double hit here.

I think I’ve finally identified my mystery birds, and it’s so dumb that I really feel stupid. But I think the birds with the beautiful song are sparrows, house or song, I’m not totally sure. But if that’s the case, I can’t believe we’ve never had them around until this year. But they can come sing to me any time.

And of course I’ve discovered Super Mario Galaxy. I’m sure it will take me the rest of the winter to finish it. Most days I play only during the evenings when the generator is running and during the times I’m not busy getting dinner together or the leftovers put away. I’m trying to average one star a day, but some days I don’t play at all, so then I have to try to make up for it. The stars are getting harder and harder.

I think I’m basically too impatient to be a very good Wii player. My favorite approach is to run full tilt at whatever is my target. But sometimes my speed is better than my accuracy. This often leads to a less than satisfactory result. Come to think of it, there are a number of things that I approach exactly the same way, sometimes with exactly the same result. Hm-m-m-m-m-m. . .

Here’s what I’m hoping for in 2008:

  • Peace
  • More good weather than rain
  • Peace
  • A satisfactory resolution to my brother’s troubles
  • Peace
  • Lots of visits with friends
  • Peace
  • Some good writing
  • Peace
  • One belly laugh (or more) every day
  • Peace

You get the idea. . .

Now once again I have lumped so many topics together I’ll probably get another note from that guy who complained before, which is OK. At least I knew he read the whole thing. . .But I’m going to sign off. I’ve got to go write a poem about Appalachia, and I’m not sure where to start.

The best to all of you in 2008. Stay in touch.

Chilly, and chili (no Chile, or maybe just a little)

December 2, 2007

The subject line I just typed in reminds me of my current recent episode of insanity. Ben and I between us are trying to shore up the U.S. economy with a spate of consumer buying. Here is my most recent excursion, but probably not the last tonight. Later on we’ll be logging into Cabela’s Web site, which is probably going to be very expensive.

A couple of days ago, I ordered the full 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary. I’ve coveted this for years. I have a real fetish for dictionaries, I think, that matches my fetish and focus on words. It’s not a minor purchase. Each time I’ve been on the verge of buying it, I thought, “Well, perhaps next week.”

But right now it’s on sale. I’ve never seen it on sale before. The price is 15% below what I’ve ever seen, and the sale price includes the CD version with full search capacity. I don’t want to be limited to that. I want the print version. But I’m curious to see if they have actually used hyperlinking and other modern innovations to provide more robust capabilities.

I’ll soon know, I guess.

It’s coming by UPS. We have an agreement with UPS to leave packages on the neighbor’s porch, since our gate is always locked. I can’t wait to hear Kenny’s call when he discovers boxes weighing 150 lbs. on his doorstep.

The post office has called nearly every day this week to let me know they have a box “too big for the mailbox.” I really appreciate the heads-up. It lets one of us be down to greet Betty when she arrives instead of having the package sit beside the county road until someone thinks to check the mail.

We awoke this morning to a skiff of snow on the ground. It was lovely. Most of it melted by noon, which is a perfect snow day. What I’d really like is to awake to six inches of snow, go out and play in it, and have it all gone by the end of the day. But that isn’t how things work.

The wind is picking up, as is the rain. So perhaps the promised hurricane is going to materialize too. I took down the doorbell tonight (a hanging clanger powered by a scultured maple leaf) so we wouldn’t have to listen to the wind knocking at the door all night. It will stay down until the storm passes.

So, it was chilly all day. Now I have a big pot of chili on the stove, with cornbread soon to follow in the oven. I’m slowly assembling the topping mix for a batch of olive crostini for tomorrow’s hors d’ouevre potluck at Donna’s house.

The only thing I can tell you about Chile at this moment is how much I love most of the works of Isabel Allende. What a fine writer.

But the chili is a bribe. Ralph’s hooking up the Wii tonight.

The writing life, brother update, communion

November 18, 2007

Tonight is, as Nero Wolfe would have said, satisfactory, all things considered.

Thanksgiving is upon us, and like many women (and more than a few men, I suspect) in America, I’m focused on what has to be bought, what has to be prepared (not just food but guest rooms and so on) to make this a great holiday.

We’ll have a full house here on Thursday. A friend that we haven’t seen in 12 years arrived today. We’ll have several days to visit and tell lies, then others will begin to enter into the conversation–our daughter, a neighbor, and of course my brother Tom and his wife Lisa.

“You should know,” Tom told me this morning, “that this is likely the last holiday I will spend away from home. I got some bad news from my doctor yesterday.”

The other shoe has fallen. The chemo isn’t working. They can continue radiation to ameliorate the effects of the tumors in his head. It’s risky, but Tom’s going for it. But it won’t help what’s happening in his lungs. Two months, they’ve given him.

So all we can do at this point is celebrate what is. And I hope to do that expansively. We’ll feast, and celebrate, and find the small things that make life special. I’m hoping Ralph will take Tom fishing, something he loves so much. The steelhead are running, so it could be quite an exciting adventure. Lisa and I will make wreaths for Christmas. And we’ll wait.

Tonight I went to town as part of my regular gig with Writers on the Edge. I got to introduce Lauren Kessler, a remarkable Oregon writer. She writes books with a journalistic eye and a poet’s sensibilities about people that we probably wouldn’t otherwise hear about. Her most recent books are Stubborn Twig, a narrative about Japanese immigrants who lost virtually everything in the WW II interment and Dancing With Rose, subtitled “Finding Life in the World Of Alzheimers.”

Today a magazine editor e-mailed me asking permission to publish one of my poems. This has never happened before. It was very cool.

It’s very hard to make sense of all this good news/bad news stuff. But there seems to be no option to the path of least resistance: Just keep plugging along.

Back from Bend

November 5, 2007

The four-day trip over the mountains to The Nature of Words in Bend was both exhausting and rewarding. Quick precis: Great weather (mid-fifties in the day, high-twenties at night, clear and sunny), great workshops (I took three, and picked up tips in each one) and readings (heard seven terrific authors), enjoyed the company of my dear friend Ruth, met up with old friends I haven’t seen in awhile, made a few new ones. I particularly enjoyed the poets there, my former mentor Pattiann Rogers and former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. I admire the poetry of each, and hearing them read it and discuss poetry in the workshops was a great experience.

We took a short side trip to the High Desert Museum south of Bend. What a great place. I really enjoyed the raptor house. I made a few attempts to communicate with the owls. I’ve learned many of their calls here from being kept awake at night and having to figure out what was keeping me up. In several cases, I got their attention, but they didn’t seem to have much to say to me. I think my accent might have been poor, because they looked at me the way the French do when you’ve just butchered some attempt to speak that language. Also got up close and personal with two bald eagles. We see them here in the winter, but generally not from 6-7 feet away.

A sign at the museum advises visitors that the only birds kept here on display are those with some injury or defect that makes it impossible for them to survive in the wild. This seems like a nice solution for all.

But I’m glad to be home. The weather here is gorgeous now, too, which probably means that I’m going to have to work outside today. It’s as if October and November flip-flopped this year. We had November rain last month and now we’re getting Indian summer.

If you can get outside somewhere where there’s little or no ambient light in the early morning (before dawn–I hear some of you saying “”ugh” as I write this), it’s really worth the trouble. Right now, about 5 or 6 a.m., a brilliant Venus is climbing the sky toward a crescent moon and the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux. It’s pretty spectacular and worth getting out of bed to see.

Got a great letter (a real letter) from Phil, my blog friend in Cornwall. He’s vacationing in Cyprus, so now I have a wonderful collection of Greek stamps.  Considering how much of our history is captured in personal correspondence through the centuries, I can’t help but wonder what we will use instead. I somehow don’t think that archives of e-mail will be as accessible. This feels like one of the downsides of our technological advance.

But I’m dithering, and I have some things that must be done now that it’s really daylight.

Random thoughts on a Wednesday evening

November 1, 2007

I hardly know where to start. I won’t as Alice suggested, begin at the beginning and move forward from there, because the truth of the matter is I’m not sure where the beginning is.

“In the beginning. . .”–there have been so many beginnings, and forks in the roads, and restarts, and stalls. So I’ll just take off, and we’ll see where we go from here.

Full disclosure: I’m completely sated from a low-stress evening. It should be a high-stress evening. I’m leaving tomorrow for a four-day trip to a writers’ conference in Bend. I had a long to-do list this morning that included washing my car, washing my hair, getting packed in advance, finding some books I wanted to take along, and so on.

I did get my truck washed. I’ve also packed up enough food and drink to last for three or four days. “Be prepared for whatever you might encounter,” Ben says. That’s good advice, I know. I’m headed out over the mountains on the first of November. The weather is good, but who knows what will happen by Sunday.

I’m picking up my friend Ruth tomorrow morning, and we’ll head out on an adventure. I know we won’t get stuck, and it seems a shame. I’ve packed up mocha frappucinos, cranberry juice, bottled water, leftover Halloween chocolate, cheese popcorm from the cans I bought to get the cans knowing we’d never eat the popcorn (so I’m struggling to find good homes for it), salted mixed nuts, protein-rich Kashi TLC bars, and other assorted stuff. Oh, and three bottles of wine, some assorted teas, my favorite wine glasses (no stems, just heavy bases that are hard to tip over), and my favorite tea cups. If we actually make it to Bend, we can live well there without ever doing anything else, although we have a lot of things planned.

But in the meantime, stuff happens. Maybe it’s the leftover pot-roast soup and fresh baked bread I finished a little while ago, or maybe it’s the position of the stars, or maybe it’s just Wednesday evening.

But I’m mellow. And happy to be that way.

A fellow writer in a writing workshop I’m taking wrote that he had been a “bad” and “nosy” boy and googled me. Then he said some nice things about the poetry he found in various places. I realized how long it had been since I googled myself. I think I’m just not narcissistic enough. So I remedied that, and when I did, I discovered my daughter has a new blog. I am blown away. She writes circles around me.

I’m not surprised to find her writing, although I suppose I am a little bit. She wrote her first short stories in crayon at age 5. I still have them. She would have them, except a couple of times I’ve found them in the garbage and rescued them, so I’m saving them. If I’m surprised it’s because she has so many other things going on. I’m guessing she also has a Facebook page and My Space page (I know she has other blogs), but I’ll probably not go looking for them because I spend too much time at this stupid screen as it is and anyway, I think she’s entitled to some privacy.

But she writes circles around me. If I could wave a magic wand I’d send her off somewhere to be a writer. Maybe she’ll get there on her own, or maybe she’ll get there herself. But whatever she does, I know it will be fine.

As I look back over a rather long life, there’s this: The thing I am proudest of having accomplished is having raised this marvelous young woman. Admittedly I had a little help from her dad, but the truth of the matter is, she’s the one thing I can point to that I have helped create that I know is making the world a better place to be.

I suppose this is why I blog

August 28, 2007

My mailbox today had a couple of comments from people I’ve never met but suspect I would like to–Nathan and ClapSo.

Nathan lives in Israel, and I met him virtually in the course of my former employment. He was a great source for some articles I wrote, and in the process proved himself witty and simpatico. When I think about the madness in the Middle East, Nathan and people like him are always a consideration.

ClapSo feels a bit like an alter ego. When I lived in the Bay Area (in what seems like a completely different lifetime), he would have been one of the folks who sat and drank wine and smoked assorted things with me and argued (less lucidly as the evening went on, admittedly) about whatever the hot topics of the evening were. And he’s a poet, a nice synergy there, too.

Blogging is a way of sending thoughts out into the atmosphere and seeing what comes back ( a little like those SETI researchers I wrote about earlier).

Tomorrow is my regular writing-group day, so I’m going to have to go off shortly and get prepared for that. The generator is running on fumes at the moment because I was too lazy to fill it earlier, and I expect my UPS to get a field test any minute.

Here are some things I have learned from my garden this summer:

  • How to extend the life of basil: When it starts to flower, cut the main plant off leaving just two leaves at the base and water it like crazy. It grows a whole new plant.
  • Herbs are really important: It really doesn’t matter what you have to cook. If you have good fresh herbs, almost anything can become ambrosia.
  • The late crop of raspberries is even better than the first crop: Most of these are nearly an inch long. A handful makes a great breakfast.
  • You can rejuvenate cabbages, too: If you cut them off just right when harvesting, the root and a couple of leaves that you leave will grow a whole new crop of mini-cabbages, sort of like giant brussel sprouts. They steam beautifully.
  • Never say die: If you get one of those weird years where you’re having plenty of sun but little heat (like we are this summer), plant a second crop of the brassicas and lettuce. They do just fine.
  • Flowers scattered through the vegetable garden feed the soul the way the fruits and vegetables feed the garden.

It’s a lovely evening tonight, but now I have to go type in my revisions and print out the stuff I need tomorrow.

ClapSo, I haven’t forgotten that you tagged me, and I promise to act on it this week.

A long rant about something, or perhaps nothing

August 25, 2007

Once upon a time, I was president of the state poetry society, and I discovered that herding poets is a lot like herding cats.

By their natures, poets are not organized people. And they don’t respond well to those who would like them to be organized.

I find myself lately with my true poetic nature coming to the fore.

God bless those of you who keep checking this space in hopes that something new has happened. My sincere apologies for the long absence. But the truth of the matter is, I just haven’t felt like writing. Anything.

Then tonight I sat down and penned a couple of pretty good poems, one a rewrite of a fragment penned earlier that will probably be called “Why the Sky in August Sometimes Looks Sulky” and the other something brand new: “I Want to Be Jack Kerouac.” That’s when I thought perhaps I could add an update here.

Part of the problem is summer. Here’s what my pantry looks like now after all of the old stuff has been cleaned out: sauerkraut, canned blueberries and blueberry butter, canned pie cherries, canned Royal Annes, canned plums and plum sauce, canned apples and applesauce, dill pickles, bread-and-butter pickles, canned green beans, pickled green beans (very interesting these–I didn’t have the dried red peppers the recipe called for so I used Chalula powder–ground up garlic roasted with hot red peppers–instead), pickled beets. The corn and tomatoes are just coming on. I was beginning to despair of them ripening with all of the rain, but they seem to be doing so anyway.

I have a very sore gum, the result of a really bad tooth brought on by some very bad dentistry some years back. It’s better tonight. I’m trying to avoid a trip to a dentist by using a peroxide mouthwash and scotch as a painkiller. On a scale of 1-10, going to the dentist is about a 15 for me. So far, so good.

My flower beds and herbs have been attacked. We think we found the culprit tonight–a packrat running around. He likes parsley and sage but not oregano, and he really likes trimming the begonias, although he doesn’t seem to eat them, just clips off the leaves and leave them in a pile. His days are numbered. We’ll catch him in a live trap, but then he’ll probably get a swimming lesson in the river.

The coyote who likes the Italian prunes has been foiled. He broke the tree off a couple of years ago, but it’s put up a new vertical shoot (that he can’t climb), and the shoot is fruiting.

I went crazy in town yesterday and bought some veal, so we’re having weinerschnitzel very soon.

That’s it for life in the country this evening.

Curses, itinerary, garden update, and other miscellany

July 14, 2007

Remember the old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”?

(If you are Chinese and this is not an old Chinese curse, please don’t write to tell me so. I’ve had enough interesting times this week.)

Tuesday was one of those days when the universe says, “Go with the flow, but don’t get caught in a rapid.” I got up in the morning with my whole day planned, did nothing I had planned, but had an interesting day anyway.

When my writing appointment got cancelled by the other person’s ill health, I finally made 6 quarts of sauerkraut. Then I drove into town to have dinner with Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney (and 4-5 others) and to hear Debra talk about writing the memoir. Great evening, but I had forgotten to take my ibuprofen, and by the time I got home, my pleurisy was acting up big time and I barely made it to bed.

Wednesday I got up feeling a little better, picked 3 quarts of blueberries and did assorted miscellany, figuring I’d drive to town in the morning to get the size canning jars I wanted for the blueberries (the same size I gave away dozens of earlier thinking I’d never use them again). But I tried to cook dinner on the barbecue, and somewhere in the process I stepped on (I think) a big rock that had wandered onto the patio from the driveway, and it sent me flying.

Spatula in one hand, grilled bun in the other, flailing, I flew across the yard (I think I actually collided with my truck in the driveway, causing most of the damage) and landed hard, resulting in a bunged-up knee and several cracked ribs.

So I’ve been pretty much out of service the last couple of days.

Today, I can actually put some weight on my knee even while I’m flexing it, so I have high hopes that I’m recovering there. My ribs still feel like someone is sticking knives in me every time I move wrong, but I’m sure they’ll get better also if I just give them a year or so. What some people will do to get out of hoeing in the garden. . .

So for the last couple of days I’ve spent most of the time reading the new library books I had the good sense to check out when I was in town on Tuesday. I got a book about the thirty-mile fire in Washington, Susan Sontag’s last book of essays and speeches, and a wonderful book of poetry by one of the members of one of my writing groups.

The garden is coming on hard and fast, so I can’t afford to be laid up. I picked another quart or two of blueberries today, Brenda got me the jars I wanted in town, and I’ve been canning. Of course fresh blueberries are far better than canned, but we will have these long after the fresh ones are gone.

The lettuce is almost done, but the summer squash is almost ready. The first baby green beans are there (that’s a canning marathon I’m not looking forward to, but I love my canned green beans), the first tomato will be ready within a day or two, also the first cucumber, the dahlias have buds, the roses and snapdragons have exploded, and once again I’m really sick of berries. It’s definitely summer.

Now, Ralph and Brenda are here for burritos, and I must fly.