far too much writing, far too many photos

A week of increasingly beautiful September weather — cold nights changing to progressively warmer days, awash in sunlight — has given way to gray, the days cool and rainy. Not much fun, and bringing work outside to a halt (while also bringing down leaves). Which gives me the opportunity to work inside, a good thing. Except that I have real trouble drumming up enthusiasm and joy for the indoors work. I’m growing real tired of it all, especially when I look around, note how much stuff I’ve gotten rid of and yet how much stuff remains. Images of hamsters running in little wire wheels come to mind. Or gerbils. Rodents. You know.

I am in serious need of a platoon of willing slaves.

Montpelier is having household toxic waste drop-off thingy this morning. That’s good. Will give me the chance to dump lots of ancient paint cans left by the house’s previous owners (the paint inside long dry), along with a box of other more obviously toxic stuff. Am far enough along with the process here that I’m finally beginning to think in future terms. Will meet with someone this morning to discuss the idea of giving them custody of a bunch of my stuff — tools, cd’s, living room furniture, like that — when the house sells and I’m finally out of here. Custody — could be temporary, could be permanent. Don’t know which. Time will tell. We’ll see if this friend goes for the idea.

Meanwhile, I saw a headline a few days back on one of my ISP’s news summaries posing the question ‘Is climate change making New England autumns less colorful?’ The kind of space-filling item put together by ‘news’ people with far too much time on their hands. Don’t know about anywhere else, but around here the colors are lovely and have really been coming on during the last few days, after a long, slow build. To anyone pondering the question of whether a trip north might be a bust — please stop pondering. Autumn is here and it’s looking beautiful.

España, te echo de menos

On more than one occasion in recent weeks, I have wandered into the bodily function part of the gym locker room only to be immediately forced out because of clouds of noxious vapors billowing out of toilet stalls, the product of unknown individuals who should really look into making drastic changes in their diet. All of which crystallized a truth for me: if I ever harbored latent tendencies toward homosexuality, they were destroyed early on by contact with odors and noises emitted by other males.

Seriously, just a small sampling of the wide variety of unfortunate aromas/sounds males produce would be enough to put most anyone off the idea of excessive physical intimacy with one of their representatives. In my humble, ignorant opinion, anyway. For what little that may be worth.

At the very least, a ‘HAZARDOUS FUMES’ sign should be prominently displayed when certain individuals take up residence in certain toilet stalls.

Harrumph.

A week ago, my brother passed through, spending one night, loading some family-related things in his car next day and taking off. First time I’d seen him in three or four years. He’s now the mayor of a small town and talked about it some — war stories, essentially, about the mess the previous mayor left, local politics, dealing with an antagonistic council member and local press (consisting of one reporter, a die-hard ally of the deposed ex-mayor). All of that combining to confirm my basic aversion to politics and an overall sense of better him than me. (He mentioned something about the process of gathering signatures to get on the ballot, that a common response was an outflowing of joy from the person adding their name because they were so happy someone — meaning some poor fool other than them — was taking on this kind of thing.)

He looked tired, that brother of mine.

One strange bit, unrelated to politics, fatigue and joyful signature-givers: during the course of my brother’s visit, I mentioned the fact that the household ghost had been quiet for more than a year, wondered aloud if that meant the gently-haunted-house thing had run its course. Two days later, I heard a door close off in another part of the living area (me home alone at the time, checking around showed no doors had closed), then again a short time later. Since then, a flurry of that kind of happening — thumps coming from other rooms, the quiet sound of someone moving out of view around a corner (again, no one around). Low-key, nothing too intrusive. But clearly there, clearly back in business, announcing it in unmistakable fashion.

What’s it all mean? Got me. But I am not making it up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evening, late September — northern Vermont:

España, te echo de menos

Morning, mid-September, northern Vermont:

España, te echo de menos

Standing outside in cool Vermont air, spreading white paint across a side of the small barn that sits across the broad yard from the house. Quiet, the only sound music rising from long grass, made by late summer/early autumn insects (that music occasonally overridden by my inner jukebox, one day playing ‘April In Paris’ over and over, another day ‘Norwegian Wood’). Temperature cool in the shade where I am, warmer in the sun. Now and then wind ruffles leaves in the trees, some yellowish/orange leaves let go, fly gently through the air, come to rest on green grass, part of the slow shift to the long, cold part of the year.

It’s a scene I’ve been part of a lot lately. Scraping, sanding, painting. Outside, everything quiet except for the gentle natural soundtrack. Finished up the side of the barn, moved to the house to begin the process of patching places where paint has begun to peel. Along the way, I take small measures to repair less than wonderful work done by previous owners. One of their more annoying atrocities: painting over the original white paint/red brick look of the house with a muddy grayish blue. (A neighbor recently remembered a conversation with those previous owners, the preevs assuring neighbor they were going to paint the house the color of the sky. The color of the sky on a ravaged, post-nuclear planet, maybe — not any sky I’ve ever seen.) Painting over bricks in perfect condition with a not-so-wonderful color, ensuring it will remain that way until someone down the road either invests a pile of cash to acid wash or sandblast paint away or cover it with a more user-friendly hue. And stopping work partway along one end of the house, leaving it part exposed-brick/part primer/part grayish-blue. (One blessing: they left behind a can of muddy gray-blue paint, more then enough for this kind of patching work. For which I am grateful.)

So I move slowly along the sides of the house, scraping at places beginning to peel, sanding it down, spreading a coat of primer, now and then slapping at mosquitoes.

The three-week stretch of perfect weather that replaced months of mostly cool/moist/gray days has given way with the turn to autumn. Rain passes through, giving way to times of blue sky and tattered clouds, the air often feeling soft. Last week brought a cold snap and frost warnings one night. For the first time I can remember, I didn’t try to cover up tomato plants or anything else. There’s too much to do, my attention is elsewhere. When the time comes for tomato plants and flowers, they will return to the earth and life will go on.

España, te echo de menos

This morning: woke up far too early (something I seem to be doing most mornings, my adorable bod apparently — four months down the road, long past the time when it should have adapted to local time — stubbornly holding onto Madrid’s rhythm of life). Gave up, levered myself out of bed, got the day underway.

The plan for the morning: bring a bunch of STUFF to Salvation Army over in Barre (Montpelier’s working-class, slightly sad twin city), stop for breakfast at a funky restaurant/market not far from S.A. (a leisurely meal, taking advantage of the joint’s free wifi), return home, spend the afternoon working. Spent the pre-trip time bouncing around the house, being as productive as I can at that time of the day, doing a decent imitation of a high-functioning human.

When I’m on my own in the early morning, upright and pretending to be awake, I actually do a decent enough imitation of a functional adult that I convince myself. Until I step out the door. Slouching about in the real world reveals a far more accurate picture of my true state, even if I’m the only one who notices. There are mornings when I may appear to be normal, trustworthy, all that, though anyone who knows me well would likely see through it eventually. I notice it most on good mornings at the gym, where the pre-caffeine me is nowhere near being at my conversational best, going through the sweaty motions but not engaging in chat like I might later in the day (post-caff, post-food, etc.). On days when I wind up inhaling no coffee — and I do occasionally experience such sad, caffeine-free occasions — I don’t experience the symptoms of caffeine-deprivation I hear big-time coffee-sucking types complain about. No irritability, no headache, none of that. Just a more extended than normal period of swimming toward full consciousness.

And then there are those mornings when doesn’t matter whether I manage an infusion of stimulant or not, I just cannot seem to make it to full consciousness.

This morning: I wander in and out of the house doing, er, things that needed to be done. (Don’t ask me what — don’t remember apart from standing outside with the garden hose, spritzing the garden with one hand, slapping at voracious mosquitoes with the other.) Finally manage to get myself out of the house, load Salvation Army donations into my vehicle, get out onto the road pointed in the right direction. Have been making this trip lately about once a week, stopping at Hope Cemetary — an amazing expanse of beautifully (and sometimes wackily) designed/executed headstones set off to one side of the two-lane outside of Barre. Foggily considered that possibility as I drove, finally realized that I couldn’t as I’d left my camera back at the house.

Gravesite, Hope Cemetary — Barre, Vermont (from an expedition
on a less fog-addled day):

Got to Barre, pulled into the lot behind the S.A. store. The crews of strange folks that had greeted me on previous trips were gone. Summer’s over, they’ve vanished with it, leaving one lone woman to deal with mountains of accumulated donations — coping with grace and humor in the face of more STUFF than anyone should have to grapple with.

Headed into what passes for Barre’s city center, found parking, got out of the car (ready for a meal and some quality wifi time), realized I’d left my laptop back at the house. Stood by my car for a moment, open-mouthed with surprise at how I’d torpedoed myself. Closed mouth, spotted a coffee bar across the street, aimed myself toward a crosswalk, headed over.

A clean, relatively new coffee joint, run by two women. One customer sat at a small window table, back against the wall, reading a paper. I stood at the counter, a woman entered behind me pushing a stroller. A doll sat in the stroller, not a baby — nicely tucked in. The woman’s face wore a strange, half-vacant expression. One of the women behind the counter asked me what I’d like, I tried to concentrate, ordered a double espresso. She notified me that all espressos were doubles, I smiled. She did coffee-making juju, brought me a cup the size of a thimble half-full of thick brown joe. I debated initiating a discussion about the size of a genuine double espresso, let it go, accepted the cup. Went to pull out a bill, found an empty pocket, realized I’d left all paper money at home along with driver’s license and credit cards. Luckily, found enough change in a pants pocket to cover the purchase, handed it over, stumbled to a window table, marveling at the number of things I’d managed to leave at home.

As I polished off my nanocup of espresso, a hairy individual pulled up a stool at the counter, ordered a coffee, opened a newspaper. Something caught his eye, he read attentively, then loudly asked the women behind the counter, “You guys interested in your dreams?” An overture, I figured, to something about dream analysis. “I’m living my dream,” said one of the women. A reply that stopped the guy in his tracks and left me smiling. (To anyone living their dream: good for you!)

Finished up, drove home, tossed a small load of laundry into the washer. On fishing out the clothes 45 minutes later, I found my missing money, driver’s license, etc., all hanging out together at the bottom of the machine, moist and clean. I’d somehow managed in my morning fog to stick everything in the pockets of the shirt I wore as I got ready to go out, changing clothes before bolting so that when I walked out the door, $$$, etc. did not leave with me. (Happily, camera and laptop did not find their way into the wash.)

Can’t remember the last time I experienced an episode like this. Went through a phase in college when I repeatedly locked the keys in my car. Went through it again a few years later. (Which is why I now never go out without two sets of keys.) Since then, have never experienced anything more than the occasional normal spacing out.

Must mean I have a lot going on, enough to get me a teensy bit distracted. Not exactly news, that, but it’s interesting to get a graphic display of it.

España, te echo de menos

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