Sunday, July 12, 2020

Harlem afternoon

I passed that mural in Harlem. My daughter and I gaped at the particular color of blue. In this concrete city, it reminds me of the Caribbean Sea.

This book I'm writing is a bear. I am now at 108,000 words and still going. As I had predicted, my subject remembered lots of additional stories and details when she read the first draft, and I've added those, and now my editor wants me to go deeper into some of the legislative stuff, which I fear could be deadly boring but I am endeavoring with all I am to make it not so. I'm so immersed. I get up every morning with a drive to get to my laptop, thinking maybe this will be the day that I make it to the end, or at least, get everything worked in so that I will have left is to revise the last two chapters in light of the crazy continually unfolding in our world.

I took a break yesterday to go plant shopping with my husband, daughter and niece at this really cool plant outlet under the elevated train tracks at Park Avenue and 116th Street in Harlem. Who knew that outdoor plant corridor went so many streets deep and had such and abundance of gorgeously thriving plants? It made me want to fill my home with greenery, but of course, first I need to declutter and refurbish, and then I could add the plants tastefully, as decorative finishes, you know, like they do on HGTV. We do not live in an HGTV apartment. Can I tell you how worn our house is now, with all three of us home every day since March 16, and how cluttered the place gets now that I'm not sweeping through every morning like a dervish after everyone leaves for work and tidying and straightening and picking up and putting away. Also, dust. I'll say no more about that.

But I digress. It was fun plant shopping and being out in the world with my loves, through it was a hot and humid day and my mask felt hot and humid, too. I kept it on till I got back in the house, though. This is the mandate in my city, though people are starting to get a little lax, which troubles me. Did you see Trump finally wore a mask yesterday while visiting a hospital? Only because they said he wouldn't be allowed inside if he didn't wear it, and now the magats (which is what I shall call his cult members from now on) are crowing about how he looked like a badass and where can they get a mask like that too. Thing is, the idiot president missed an opportunity here: Imagine if he had issued magat masks at the outset? All his cultists would have been wearing them.

My boy has been transferred to a new firehouse for a year, as all new firefighters must rotate through both engine (water hoses) and ladder (climb and rescue) houses. His home house is an engine house, and he has come to really enjoy it there. They have a workshop with power tools, where he had been building a bicycle from scratch using the frame of his dad's old bike, and a gym where he worked out daily, and his fellow firefighters have become his cohorts and friends. Now he's having to start over with a whole new crew in the time of covid and while he's philosophical about it, my mother's heart wishes it weren't so. He's trained in brownstones, store fronts and high rises, and now he will be training for single family homes, shopping malls and beach fronts, as his new house is in Queens. May he be safe. May he be healthy. May he make this firehouse, too, a welcoming place.

This is so stream of consciousness. Back to plant shopping. My niece wanted to get two plants for her room. She is in what used to be my son's room, and when he came over two weeks ago (two weeks already!) he looked into her room and said, "Why does your room still look like my room? You need to make it your own." I think she felt he gave her permission to go to town in there, and now she has begun, with two lush babies that she picked out from the plant outlet. I need to go out and do things like that a little more often, because the most delicious part of going out is how much I love being inside my house once I get back home.


  1. I think I would have loved that plant outlet. I love plants, all plants, but I'm limited to what I can grow in the house because of the bloody cat who likes to eat plants.

    You sound like a rodeo writer, wrestling ideas and words onto the page:)

    Glad you're staying safe.

  2. it is nice to get out and no better place than a plant nursery. I kind of relate where you are in your writing to my trying to get the full size art work done, adding in all the little details and making changes as I go. and I'm sure your son will win over his new station.

  3. So much goodness here.
    I, too, have wondered why Trump didn't jump on the train and sell MAGA masks. As much as I would have hated seeing them, it sure would have helped in the long run.
    PLANTS! We're all hungry for them, aren't we? Green is an antidote to worry, to conflict, to anxiety. I swear it is. I was talking to a guy who had recently bought an already-existing plant nursery and, unlike so many businesses, his has done quite well during this time. They sell ornamental and exotic plants and all sorts of fruit trees and bushes.
    Your son was so kind to say that about his old room. Now- may he be very, very safe in his new house and find kindred souls and friends.
    As to dust? I see your dust and will raise you mine which I am certain is at least a hundred times worse. Dear god. It's bad.
    I know this book is going to be amazing. I doubt anyone in the world could have written it but you.

  4. I didn't realize there was a plant market there. Has it been there long? I wish I'd known when I lived in NYC! (Although I had a very dark apartment and only the hardiest plants would have tolerated it!)

    I hope your son's transfer works out well. Something tells me he'll thrive no matter where he goes.

  5. Sounds like a lovely journey out in the plant world. Yes, always good to get home and take that mask off, ah the pleasure of that.
    I hope all goes well for your son's transfer. I'm looking forward to hearing about it.
    Good luck with the writing!

  6. On the day our friend of 40 years passed away from ALS, I made a rare trip into a smallish supermarket just to get out of the house. There I bought some light purple daisies as well as a succulent and put them in our front window. I am not a fresh flowers or plants kind of person. No green thumb here whatsoever. But they made me happy every time I looked at them and it made me consider that maybe we could add more greenery and the like to the house now that we don't have a feline to chew on the leaves.

    I've been having fun guessing your mystery subject. I think I may have a solid guess but I'll stay quiet for now. :)

    No doubt your boy will assimilate wonderfully into his new house and be adored as much as his many fans here.

  7. May he be healthy and well, yes, and may he learn many new skills.

    Working from home makes me see the faultlines in our house, too. I just sat in my kitchen observing the grease marks on the dishwasher's front for a while. Somehow they would not budge no matter how long I stared.
    There is always this quote by Quentin Crisp to live by: "There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse."

  8. We've had to move all the furniture out of the boys' rooms into the basement and my office to make way for new carpet (no more cat pee carpet!) in the attic and the amount of stuff and dust and dog hair and general disgustingness is astounding. I can barely move in my office.

    May your son be well.

  9. So much life in your life! Your niece's photo of the rocks in Jamaica gave me the inspiration to finish the most recent mandala. Good to know that you are so close to completing your work on the book As always, your photos engage me, especially that one of your son so open to the changes that life brings.

  10. I love the plant market! The outdoor nurseries are currently forbidden to us, given how hot it is. I'd settle for the houseplant department in Lowes hardware, but we're not going in there.
    Here's wishing your son all the best with his new house. I hope he'll be happy there.

  11. That was thoughtful of your son to encourage your niece to settle in. I hope his own settling in process goes well.