Mary: April 2007 Archives

On April 7 I posted this. Today the same view, from a different angle, looks like this (click on the thumbnail pic; a larger version will open in a new window):

At some time during the 56-year history of this house, somebody with an azalea fetish landscaped the entire place. I once tried to estimate the number of azaleas planted on the lot; a rough estimate might have been 130 at that time. I've since cut about 30 down to the ground to open up a bit more space. Azaleas are hardy here in Virginia; they come back from the roots. Some of the azaleas I cut to the ground are blooming as I type this.

But for about two weeks in the spring I glory in them. They are spectacular. These huge red and deep pink ones are growing along the west side of the front yard: Even in the criminally neglected back yard, this red azalea is a gift of beauty:

Along the small parking area at the top of the driveway, these azaleas are blooming in full sun exposure:

I'm showing a lot of reds, but most of the azaleas are various shades of pink, like this one along the back fence: and quite a few are white, like this one, also growing along the back fence:

Enough azaleas. Here's a pic of the small container herb garden I planted on porch: It cracks me up to plant such a tiny herb garden, because I can't help but think of the herb gardens I grew when we lived in Davis, California. There, I had rosemary bushes that grew so large, every year when I pruned them I estimated I was throwing away a thousand dollars worth of herbs, considering what they charge for a couple of sprigs at Safeway. I had an entire garden devoted to varieties of thyme, another to drought resistant herbs, maybe a couple dozen varieties, and yet another: a large medieval herb garden that I planted after doing a bit of research. This tiny herb garden on my porch exists for one reason: so that when I sit out there, I can pinch off a sprig of rosemary or thyme or mint and hold it under my nose while I read. I miss my California herb gardens, but here I am in Virginia now, and oh my, the azaleas!

Nightmare of snow

| | Comments (4)

I had a nightmare last night. This is noteworthy not so much because of the content of the dream but because I had a memorable dream at all. I'm in my third year of going through menopause; for more than two years I haven't slept long or deeply enough to dream. I don't know any women who have had symptoms as severe as mine. The hot flashes are horrible enough, but hot flashes during the day are nothing compared to night sweats. Unlike some women I don't wake up drenched in sweat; I wake up and then break out in sweat. Hot flashes only last for a few minutes during the day, but at night I can lay awake, sweating and radiating heat, for up to an hour. I usually wake up every two hours, lay awake in a sweat for a while, doze off, wake up cold after a few minutes, pull the covers over me, fall asleep again, sleep for two hours, rinse, repeat. On a typical night I sleep for a couple of two-hour stretches, then can't fall asleep again. On the worst of nights I sleep for only an hour and forty minutes before waking up and breaking out in sweat. On these worst of nights I lay awake hot, sweating for an hour, then feel chilled, huddle under the covers and can't get warm again. I press my body against my 98-pound dog for warmth, me under the covers, Saint on top of them. I have no idea whether the room I'm sleeping in is hot or cold. It doesn't matter. My perception of temperature is determined by my internal thermostat, which has gone haywire. I drag myself out of bed in the morning, exhausted. Month after month, for more than two years and counting.

Last night, though, I slept long enough and soundly enough to have a significant dream--a dream that woke me up and that I remembered vividly. The nightmare portion of it was at the end--a very short portion of a long dream. The nightmare portion of the dream started after I came out of a clinic of some kind where I'd spent the day--I don't remember why; there was nothing wrong with me--to find that a heavy snow had fallen. I'd borrowed a pair of shoes to wear home--I don't remember why. My Isuzu Rodeo was buried under snow in the parking lot. I started walking home, a long, long walk down a deserted snow-covered road. I called my husband on my cell phone--yes, my late husband was still alive in the dream--and asked him to come and get me. He couldn't hear me, but he was speaking to me. He seemed frantic; he was crying and asking me why I wasn't coming home. I told him the Rodeo was buried under snow, that I was walking home in borrowed boots. I shouted into the phone hoping he could hear me. I tried to tell him where I was but couldn't remember the name of the street I was on. Nothing looked familiar. I looked around and saw what I thought was a familiar 7-11 but it was dark, deserted, and buried under snow. I came to a fork in the road and didn't know which way to turn. I saw a name on a street sign but don't remember what it said. Then I wasn't on foot anymore, I was in the Rodeo, but it was sliding out of control, picking up speed and careening around blind curves. I tried to scream repeatedly into my cell phone but no sound came out. This went on for a terrifying several seconds, then the Rodeo slid into a tunnel of snow. There was no outlet--the tunnel narrowed until I came to the end, deep under the snow. I got out of the Rodeo and started walking back toward the entrance to the tunnel, thinking that my cell phone signal wouldn't penetrate this snow, no one would be able to find me, and afraid the tunnel might collapse on me if a vehicle drove over it. Then I woke up.

Alone in a deserted world buried in snow. Lost, nothing looking familiar. Careening out of control, sliding down a tunnel that has no light at the end of it, no outlet. My late husband crying for me but unable to hear my voice. Quite a dream. And yet, upon awaking, two thoughts occurred to me simultaneously: what an awful dream, and how incredibly wonderful to have slept long and deeply enough to have had that dream. That's how bad it's been.

And yet, again, some women suffer from depression during menopause, and I have not. I'll take all the physical discomfort and exhaustion over depression any day, so weighing it in the balance, I consider myself not so bad off, after all.

Just a sheep in the flock


On days like today I discover once again how much like everyone else I am. The thoughts that occur to me when I wake up and see that it's going to be a beautiful day are the same thoughts that occur to everyone who wakes up and sees the same blue sky. The decisions I make are being made by thousands of people in Northern Virginia, perhaps at the very same moment. On this, the first nice weekend of spring, all over the greater metropolitan area people woke up and thought: I'm going to get the car washed today. Since the interior of my car was covered with dog hair I vacuumed it first, then went to the car wash, which was doing business on a grand scale. As I moved from task to task yesterday and today, buying and planting herbs, cleaning off the porch and bracing the sagging door, I found myself in crowds at Village Hardware, Home Depot, and Lowes. Long, long lines everywhere. Carts full of plants everywhere I went. Everyone in a pretty good mood, pretty patient, just enjoying the good weather that has finally, finally, arrived.

The wasps are desperate to get onto the porch. I can't imagine why. They search and search for an entry, finally finding a crevice between post and screen door through which they can squeeze their tiny bodies, only to fly around the porch until they die, and I sweep their lifeless carcasses back out through the screen door and under the azaleas.

Go up there with him on a day when there are no tours available and no programs for admitted students. This way there won't be anybody to tell him cool stuff about the school's history or programs. There won't be any chance he'll meet future classmates, either. You have to be especially careful to avoid this because some of them might be cute girls.

Take a cab up there and have the driver drop you off in front of the law school after a hair-raising ride. It's important to see the law school before seeing the main campus because the main campus is much more appealing and you want your son to focus on the negative aspects of it. Letting him see the law school first will guarantee this.

Go in the law school and make your son stand in the bare entry for a few minutes soaking in the "atmosphere" while you use the restroom. He'll have to just stand around because there isn't any place to sit down. Whoever "decorated" the place was apparently constrained by the requirement that it be so uninviting that homeless people won't wander in to get out of the rain.

Make sure you walk down the hallway so he sees the wall of lockers. It'll remind him of high school. If he liked high school, don't worry--his high school was undoubtedly decorated better than Columbia Law School; high schools always put student art on the walls and some of it's pretty good.

Go on upstairs. You'll find a place to sit down but no furniture with upholstery or chairs with arms. It's nicer than the first floor, but by that time your son will be so disgusted he won't want to see any classrooms or the library; he'll just want to leave. You'll have accomplished your goal in about five minutes. The whole trip might cost you about $1000, but think of the money you'll save on tuition!

We came. We saw. We hated.

| | Comments (2)

I'm sitting in a hotel room on the upper West side of Manhattan. Mike and I came up here yesterday, and today we visited Columbia Law School. Mike was leaning toward Columbia and was waiting to hear from the financial aid office before making his decision. Last night was fun--we found a good sushi restaurant a block from the hotel and after eating we walked around the neighborhood for a while. Everything was looking good for Columbia. Then we took a taxi up to the law school and walked in the 116th street entrance, and the case for Columbia was lost. What an awful, awful building. The ground floor is all but devoid of decoration; nondescript flooring and white walls, no comfortable furniture, no attractive woodwork or molding, just a bare entry with a couple of temporary tables set up to hold brochures, leading to a hallway leading to mail boxes and a wall of lockers. No attempt has been made to make the place the least bit cheerful or inviting. My heart sank. I had to admit that if I were the one trying to make the decision, I'd be depressed at the thought of spending the next three years of my life there. As I told Mike, the place is aggressively ugly--inexcusable for a well-endowed school like Columbia. Yeah, yeah, a life-altering decision shouldn't be based on the ugliness of a building. But if the place is so bad as to be downright depressing, and it is, I wouldn't want to go there, and neither does Mike.

We walked across the avenue to the main campus and walked around there for a while. It's much, much nicer than the law school, but still. Mike commented repeatedly on the tiny patches of carefully tended grass, protected by chains from the students. Mike has spent the past four years at the University of Virginia, where students take their books outside and study on the lawn on sunny days. He commented too on the sign posted beside a very small playing field, which was currently not available for play and could never be subjected to cleats. He said there are multiple softball and soccer fields next to the law school at UVA.

So Mike is sending his deposit to UVA without waiting to hear from the financial aid office at Columbia. He text-messaged his roommate, who had already decided to send his deposit to UVA without waiting to hear from Harvard. So much for the ivy league.

Just for you, Mike :)

| | Comments (1)

I took this earlier this morning:

This is just wrong


The view out my livingroom window when I got up this morning:

July 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        


Powered by Movable Type 4.12