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Posts from the ‘the ugly’ Category

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Imagine coming home at dusk in a car heavy with Costco shopping (paper towels, fireplace logs, cleaning supplies, flowers, “shaper” tights, a good bottle of Brunello di Montalcino, whole wheat bread, a wheel of Basque sheep’s milk cheese, panzanella, and flats of avocados and papaya) and discovering that your gardener has amputated all…ALL!… the bushes between the street and my sidewalk. These were Escallonia (white and pink), laurel, juniper and rhododendron that I had planted in 1994 in order to SCREEN my view of the street. Fifteen years of growth filled in the plants nicely so I had a nearly solid hedge nearly ten feet high.



André and I discussed what we should plant in place of the dying maple that the city forester is allowing me to cut down (at considerable expense). I am required to replace the tree with one of about a dozen species approved for sites such as mine. I studied the choices –American hornbeam, Ash, Tupelo, Linden, Spire Oak, Green Oak, Magnolia, Hawthorn, Maple, Sweet bay, hornbeam, and Beech –and thought a pyramidal European hornbeam would be swell, and two of them even sweller. He promptly called his nursery and informed me that these trees could be had at $120 a pop. Thanking him, I asked him to return later in the day to clean the grounds and give me time to reflect on the tree situation.

André took the bit between his teeth and while I was mindlessly pushing my oversize cart through every aisle of the Costco on “Dart Mouth” (as they pronounce Dartmouth) Street, snacking on rosemary bread, bouillon, brie, air-popped barbecued corn chips, and chicken sautéed in a soy marinade, André and his two assistants were sawing off the bodies of my shrubs. I had said NOTHING about eliminating the shrubs. What I had said was, “Please haul away the broken white doohickey between the lower deck and the garden.” The broken white doohickey is still where it has been standing for the last 15 years. My shrubs are GONE!


Do I sound hysterical? That’s because I am! But with André, you never know what will suddenly galvanize him into action, and what he’ll simply not hear. This time, he heard nothing.

I’m too upset to write about the other great things that happened today, so the “trauma” is cauterizing my neuron connections. Meaning: I can’t remember much about the rest of the day. Plus  falling asleep. Good night!!!!!




Take a hike


It’s been a while since I took a long hike in the woods. A friend suggested walking from Cove Beach to Short Sands Beach on the Oregon Coast. On the map, it looks like  5, at most 6 miles  but with switchbacks, steep grades, mud holes,   blowdown, and photo stops, it took from 2 pm until 6:30 pm.

It was heavenly yesterday: I had the right shoes for once. A good snack. Water. A faithful dog. No rain. Little wind.

Today was an anticlimax.



I finally got around to reading Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi’s kabbalistic  “Gilgul” (New Yorker, Aug 15-22, 2011), which held my curiosity (and hence, attention) as much by the core characters (a scholar and a witch) as the seamlessness of the transitions from one interpolated tale to the next. The philosophical concept of reincarnation (metempsychosis, transmigration of souls) is perfectly matched with the structure of nesting narratives, each of which is enigmatically, but essentially motivated by its frame. You know one story is connected to the next in a fundamental way — but the author stops short of revealing the links, leaving it to the reader to tease out the clues and to take the leap into a hypothesis. I value this sort of story for forcing me to take risks. I admire and respect  writers who pay their readers the supreme compliment of trust.

There’s a line in Yerushalmi’s story that resonates deeply with me. When, after a four year hiatus, the “witch” Gerda opens her door to the scholar Ravich, she greets him with the words, “You are depleted. You need lots of sun, lots of love.”

It’s not just I who am depleted and need lots of sun, and lots of love. I am just a sub-microscopic symptom of depletion on a global scale, manifested in dysfunctional minds, bodies, relationships, economies, organizations, governments.  The sun continues to unconditionally shine, but we withhold our love from each other.  One  can’t grow, develop, manifest one’s gifts, unfold one’s talents, recover from  mistakes, and learn from failure without the energy of another’s compassion, empathy, patience, solace, trust, and faith: in a word, without love. Just as the sun fuels photosynthesis and all life processes, so love drives and sustains the movements of the soul.

I stumbled on images of horrifically deformed children, the victims of mutagenic chemicals, agents, and weapons used in Japan, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the USSR, Kosovo. The parents of these miserable creatures try to heal them , tending them with fierce and selfless love, but it’s too late to reverse the damage — tumors, monstrous malformations, and fatal infirmities — resulting from the catastrophic depletion of love in the world.