Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Of Cabbages And Kings

I bought a new purse yesterday at the Costco. It was one of those items right inside the door as you walk in, a giant tower of them and of course, quite reasonably priced. I fondled one of them, I examined it and it felt...right. Not too big and with three pockets on the outside and a few on the inside and a good, strong strap and substantial hardware.
"I want this," I said to Lily.
"Well get it," she said.
And I threw the box in the cart. Why a purse has to come in a box I do not know but at Costco, purses come in boxes and are tied in with a plastic strip which I am sure is made of the same material they use to make disposable wrist-binders for the police these days. Not binders. What's the word? Those things they used to call handcuffs?
Whatever. It required a sharp knife to free it from its imprisoning box. So much waste in packaging. The sturdy cardboard box, the paper which had been wadded up and placed in the bag to give it such a nice fullness, a hint of its holding capacity. I like it. And trust me- I have paid far more for purses in the past. When I transferred all the contents of my old purse to the new one, Owen asked me if I was going to throw the old one away.
I was horrified. I never throw purses away. I have...well, far more purses than I should and at least two of my daughters and one of my friends carry purses which I have given them and I used to have a fairly serious and almost worrisome purse-addiction but this is the first purse I've bought in maybe over a year and I am happy with it.

Here's what it looks like.

I should have cropped that sucker. Oh well.

The pecan trees have lost most of their leaves which means that the sun shines almost too brightly into my back porch. It shows how badly I need to refinish or perhaps paint that table. I have always wanted to paint it a shiny, lacquered, Chinese Red but have never done so.
Perhaps one day. It is covered in ink stains and dark spots where mildew has taken hold and food coloring from Easter Egg dyeing and water colors from Owen's art sessions. Sometimes I keep a tablecloth on it and sometimes I do not. I probably use this table more than any piece of furniture in my house and it is one of those prosaic items which we are so familiar with we do not even give it a thought. I bemoan all the "stuff" in my life but the truth is, some of my stuff is beloved to me. This table is one of those things. Perhaps one day that purse will be too. One can never predict these things.

I've had a good morning so far. I exercised, I stretched, I walked. I made Mr. Moon eat salmon last night and so to make up for that, I have two venison backstraps in the crock pot with carrots and celery and onions and yes, a little bacon. I am also going to cook a purple cabbage tonight with apples and onions and dried cherries and golden raisins and a little brown sugar, a little vinegar, some caraway seeds, perhaps a tiny bit of real butter. I am looking forward to that a great deal. It seems like such a fall food, doesn't it? I feel like a housewife today. I am not going to town, I am staying right here, I am doing laundry, I am going to tidy and sweep and...oh yes...clean the rat shit out of the drawer in the bottom of the stove.
I would say that the cooler weather has brought the mice and their larger vermin kin into the house and that may be true but it only adds to the population which has been living here all through the summer. Should I be ashamed to admit that? Well, it's hardly a secret. I have spoken more than once about the critters that live in my walls and in my ceilings and I am not sure, short of arson, how I would rid myself of all of them. But when I start finding their poop, it is time to bring out the traps and Mr. Moon got something last night which he described as being a "large mouse".
I may be a bit too sanguine about this whole situation. We all know that when one of the rodents takes up residence in my bedroom I do not rest until he or she is gone from this earth. Poor Mr. Moon. He is my designated executioner and he does not enjoy the job but I suppose it's part of our unwritten contract (and we all have them) that he kills the mice and rats and I clean up their poop. And so I shall do my job.
When I read Keith Richards' autobiography, I was a bit charmed to hear that he had kept a mouse as a pet, not in a cage, but in his pocket where he would take it with him everywhere, even to school. He said it was no trouble, and that its shit was hardly a bother and I take heart in that. I made the mistake this morning of watching "just a few" moments of the interview he did with Anthony DeCurtis at the New York Public Library three years ago today and even though I have watched the entire thing before, I was again taken in and had a hard time stopping the video and going about the business I needed to attend to. If I get everything done today that I want to get done, I will finish watching it again. With Lou Reed's death, I am reminded of how short and tenuous the lifespan of a rockstar is, especially one who pushed every limit every day of his or her young life and I am just so grateful that Keith is still among the living.

Yesterday, out of nowhere, Owen said at lunch that he hopes the Rolling Stones never die. He is aware that they are not spring chickens. I told him that I, too, wished they could live forever, but that they would not. That we all die.
He said, "I going to miss you so much when you die, Mer."
"That's why I try to spend so much time with you," I told him. "So that when I die, you will have lots and lots of memories of me."
He then progressed in this thought process to the fact that his mother would one day die and then, oh god! to the fact that he, too, would die someday.
"It's all right," we told him. "You aren't going to die for a very, very long time."
You know, the words you always tell a child when death first becomes something of a reality to them. When their own mortality dawns on them.
"It's okay," I told him. "Everything dies. Everything which is born will die."
He cried a little but then he cheered up.
He also announced yesterday that he doesn't need any parents at all any more which struck both me and Lily as hilarious. We discussed that theory and he did finally admit that yes, he needs his parents still. I said, "You know, sometimes your mommy even still needs me because I am her mother. Even now."
He considered this and agreed that it was true.

I am wandering here. From purses to tables to venison and cabbage to rodents, to Keith Richards, to mortality. I am sitting here at this table on my back porch with the sun pouring in and these are the things I am thinking. And of course, I am avoiding cleaning up rat shit.
But thank-you for coming along with me as I meander. It is a beautiful day and I am so glad you're here. I think of you as I write. It's so odd and so tender to me how I think of you as I sit in the puddle of golden light, luxuriating in a day in which I have time to meander. A day in which I can wear my overalls, my very blue shirt, directing my own schedule as I wish.

Hello. We will all die someday but until then, here we are and it's a beautiful fall day and Keith Richards is still alive and so am I and so are you. Some days, things like this are enough. I am glad that today is one of those days.



  1. Nice purse. A lady can never have too many. Wait, did I just say that?
    We all have our little vices.
    I too love the sunshine, but mostly it just shows how dirty the windows are.
    Pulling down the blinds seems to work.

  2. I used to sort of collect purses, but I am RUNNING OUT OF ROOM to store them. Sigh. Need to do a purge, even if it's painful.

    I have a mouse in a toilet in the middle of the night with me sitting on it story. It was in Zambia & I was much younger. Suffice it to say there was squealing & flushing & sitting on my bed in terror for a minute until I fell asleep.

  3. Cute purse. Stick with Costco forget TJs and WFs. What a nice, open conversation with Owen. And what would Lily do without you. The salmon and venison reminds me of the exchanges the years of marriage bring. I want to go to Costco for a person and sleep but i must alas other things call. Sweet Jo

  4. It is indeed one of those light-filled days. I, too, am directing my own schedule today and its been years and years since i could do that on a weekday without feeling as if i was stealing time, and i love the new shape of my life, i feel so free. and yes, this community here, it is a tender thing. the best.

  5. Oh man. I would so much rather talk about sex than death, with my kids. I don't mind sex talks at all, but the moments when my kids realized death was a thing, pretty much wrecked me.

    I like your purse and the sunshine and most of all the field guide cover with the bird. And that cabbage sounds delicious. I'm going to have Noah make it.

  6. yes, yes, when you can wear your old worn out overalls and decide what to do and and go out and work in the garden and then back and write and have fun with your family, not least grandkids, then I feel it is Paradise on earth, and yes, it will end soon or later ! so better have some fun !

  7. I've had a very similar day of domesticity! Flitting from job to job and not once feeling tired or frustrated. You have rat shit, I have dog hair. We all have our things.

  8. Bob- I don't even notice the dirt on the windows. Especially if I stay on the porch. And you were so sweet to say that about the purses.

    The Bug- Okay. That would be fairly horrifying.

    Sweet Jo- I do like Costco. Mostly. And I am so very lucky and I know it.

    Angella- Isn't it? Aren't we lucky to have each other? Yes. I think so.

    Ms. Vesuvius- I love that cabbage. And talking about death seems to get easier for me as I get older. I do not know why. But I'll let Owen's mama talk to him about sex. Or his daddy. That one I'll bow out of.
    If possible.

    Niels- Hello! How are you doing? I bet whatever you're doing, you are still wearing your overalls.
    You are right about the joys of the day.

    heartinhand- I have dog hair too. Dammit. Well, not on my personal body. You know.

  9. This post made me think of this song and I thought you would enjoy it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUVpHInlhRc

  10. I remember lying in bed as a kid and mulling over my own mortality -- and crying about it just like Owen did, and getting that same line from my mom, about how long I still had to live. And now I'm 47! Sheesh.

    Glad you got the purse, though being a man I must admit I do not understand the levels of purse enthusiasm I often see among women. Even as a gay man I can't quite figure that out.

  11. Hi, yes, you bet I wear my overalls, now in my Danish farmhouse retiring in 3 months from now, and on upcoming Saturday I'm going directly from Copenhagen to San Francisco, my spiritual home and go to my favourite thrift store and check old t shirts you can breathe in and overalls ! and then I'm getting closer to you actually, when I and my wife are going by train to New Orleans via LA, about 50 hours train through many states, and celebrate international overalls weekend in New Orleans, we have a facebook group, have tried to find you on FB, but where are you ? oh, lots of words, overall greetings niels

  12. Owen getting to understand mortality must have been a bit heart wrenching. I remember that it was a fear of mine that my parents would die. And when it occurred, it was more traumatic than I had imagined. I don't lose people well.

  13. Blue Gal- I loved it! And that song is going to be in my head all day long. Thanks for the link.

    Steve Reed- I think the purse thing is a womb thing. A vessel to carry things in. I also like bowls and baskets so there you go.

    Niels- You always seem to be such a happy man. I am glad of that. I hope you have a wonderful time in the U.S. when you come to visit.

    Syd- You'd think we'd get better with practice, wouldn't you?

  14. Oh so much wisdom and love in this post. It would never, ever fit in that purse.

  15. Oh I love this post SO MUCH. I want to run out to Costco right now for the same purse, and I can never ever throw mine away either. But I don't ever really use them again much because they look so tired and all the same. Sigh.

    And that conversation with Owen? Made me cry a little tear or two, he is so alive and aware and taking in every thing. That boy. You gave really, really good answers. You are the best everything - mom, wife, grandma, blogger.

    And that table has some history, doesn't it? Painting furniture is something I always think I'll do but never actually. Except for one unfortunate wicker chair and spray paint episode which I won't discuss.

    I'm so glad to meander with you. And to know I'm not the only one with critters in the walls and the ceiling, and a husband on patrol. I can't even look at the little dead guys, but I want them dead rather than scritch scratching in my house.

    I'm looking at the beautiful fall days as hard as I can with you.


  16. Cabbages and kings, indeed. I LOVE red cabbage. I do the Joy of Cooking recipe my mother did - similar to yours, but with chestnuts in. And cloves. Nom nom.


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