Monday, September 05, 2005

And now for something completely different

There's an awful lot of silence in the blogosphere these days... silence, and sadness. And there's been a fair amout of debate about the value (or not) of posting mundane bits about daily life in areas unaffected by Katrina.

Though it feels unseemly, I want to document where my life is, in the northeast, far from harm, at this moment. It's a familiar place, feeling tremendously lucky in the face of awful tragedy. We closed on our house a bit over four years ago, Aug. 31, 2001. We'd planned to take two weeks after closing to paint and have the wood floors refinished and get some electrical work up to snuff. So we watched the coverage of Sept. 11 in our bare apartment, filled with brown boxes, some takeout and the ugly green couch. We listened to horrific tales on the radio as we painted our brand-new bedroom a bright and cheery yellow, and we talked for hours about what was going on in the world as we unpacked those boxes in our house. Our house.

It's much the same today. We spent Friday night celebrating my little sister's 30th birthday -- as she said at the family party 10 days ago, if she's 30, that means everyone else is old. The gathering on Friday was small -- just my sis, her fiance, Darren and me. They bought steamers and lobster, and we had a cornucopia of produce from our farm share. We steamed edamame for an appetizer, followed by the steamers. The final course was lobster, and corn, and a tomato and cucumber salad that tasted purely of summer. We drank gin and tonics, and far more champagne than we should have. We talked about gas shortages and public transportation and their wedding. And we made plans for our trip to Fenway Park on Sunday.

Saturday was spent in the sun, as I dug a new bed in the long-neglected front of the house. I don't know much, if anything, about gardening, and have been paralyzed with indecision about what to do with this small, blank, unused space at the front of our house. This year, I finally decided to screw the grand plan, to just plant some stuff and see what happens. So I dug up grass and moved all the daylilies from elsewhere on our tiny plot of land. My sister donated a few to the cause, too. So I dug out the bed, turned over the dirt and slotted them in between the hydrangea and the spirea and the rhododendron (I am learning the plant names one by one, bird by bird, as Anne Lamott puts it). I listened to music for a little while, but even that seemed a distraction from the nothingness of my thoughts. At the end of the day, I was sore and dirty and tired, and it felt good. We had burgers and steamed kale and refrigerator pickles for dinner, and went to bed early.

Sunday was consumed by Fenway -- two hours down, two hours back. With even a short game in between, we left at 10 and returned at 7. I was claustrophobic in the crowds on Yawkey Way, and pacified by the sun and the hypnotic rhythm of the game once we found our seats in the bleachers. The crowd yesterday donated $25,000 to the Red Cross. At that point, we had donated nothing, though I spent $6.75 on 12 ounces of Harpoon Ale when we first arrived.

Today, Darren went back to work -- such is the glamorous life of the social worker. I stayed at home, enjoying the rare chance to catch up on bills, file the papers strewn across the desk, grocery shop and get ahead on the cooking. My dad called to give me the update on my grandmother -- she's in the hospital again, was taken there by ambulance yesterday. Though she seems fine now and is just being held for still more testing, none of us are speaking of what has become horribly obvious: It is only a matter of time. She is frustrated and feisty, but tired of being sick, tired of hospitals. I am shy about calling her, because I only call when she is in the hospital, and I am worried that the fact of my call simply emphasizes her discomfort.

So I cooked. I marinated flank steak for dinner tonight, with red wine vinegar, lemon juice, thyme and some hot sauce. I sliced tomatoes, cucumber and red onion and marinated them, too, adding chiffonade of basil and toasted cubes of bread to make panzanella salad once the steak was done. And for tomorrow night I made a polenta casserole with pattypan squash, potatoes, green peppers and gruyere. I spent hours in the kitchen, chopping and stirring. I went online and made as large a donation as we could, though as I write this I'm not even sure if those words are accurate. Of course we could have given more. I turned the radio on, then turned it off and put in a CD. I didn't talk to anyone.

And this is where we are, at the end of summer, in the wake of all this.