Measured Extravagance

2001-02-04 - 1:55 a.m.

I put in nine hours of driving today, to and from Atlanta, which meant lots of action on the car stereo. It started with Weekend Edition -- which I turned off when they reported yet another student suspended for revealing murderous thoughts about her classmates. Frankly, I'd be worrying more about the kids who aren't admitting to revenge fantasies when they're bullied. Oh wait, some of these parents and teachers are the same people who, back in the good old 1980s, would gang up on me first period and then insist we were friends second hour if there was an exam or group assignment in the works. (Ever had a crowd of girls rush at you, hoping to humiliate you by debagging you in public? Ever had some boy yank at the back of your bra every day during chemistry class until you gave up and moved to the back of the lab -- and then he harassed you at your locker until you finally swung at him and chased him through the entire school building until the band director intervened? Point being that if I had a penny for every single time I fantasized about slaughtering certain high school classmates, I'd own a pied-a-terre in London and a theatre in Chicago.)

Wait, that's not what I meant to write out tonight. And I won't set down the letter I drafted in my head to Senator Fred Thompson, whose response to my "please don't confirm Ashcroft" phone call was to the effect of "I know him and like him and urge you to keep an open mind." Bah. No sense in kicking at the open barn door now, but if he's unopposed in 2002, I'm writing in Mike Reed.

Enough ranting. Those two triggers aside, it was an excellent day - lovely and temperate and filled with music and words. After I turned off NPR, I played:

the first half of Handel's Rodelinda (and the rap on La Stupenda's lack of diction is right - until another singer uttered "Your Majesty," I had no idea the opera was being sung in English)
Liz Phair's whitechocolatespaceegg (god her alto gets so sexy when she puts that husk into it)
Radio Gals (a musical so corny it made my teeth hurt, especially the chorus of meows- I must make sure the Theatre Director's heard it, it's wholesome enough for a high school production),
Judy Kaye's Diva by Diva (and then turned off the stereo and sang bits of The Baker's Wife to myself)
Joy Harjo reading Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century to the grooves and beats of Poetic Justice
some random Motown on the dial
Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon monologue on simplicity and hard-earned easiness (within a long marriage) and organ-playing and spaghetti, which if I were in the wrong mood might have struck me as anti-urban and anti-virtuosity, but I was in the right mood and nodded to it as I would to a well-shaped Shaker chair,
and a hair-raising rendition of Jolene by Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Wow.

So there was music, and there was serendipity: last night, I was trying to arrange the bunches of white tulips I'd bought at a wholesaler's, and they weren't cooperating. There was massive drooping, such that the "arrangement" looked downright mopey, so I'd resigned myself to a last-minute dash to Michael's or Home Depot after I got home tonight for fake snapdragons or something-or-other to balance the ungainly thang.

But during the test-drive of what will henceforward be known as the Ugly Beloved Car, we passed a sign for the International Farmers Market. Once the BYM had taken happy possession of the UBC (a chunky white Volvo with mustard vinyl interior - whoever said marriage was easy?), I sped on down to the Market.

I shouldn't be left alone in places like that, even without a cooler. It didn't stop me from buying tins of Chinese pickled cucumbers and bamboo shoots and preserved octopus and smoked clams and golden lumpfish eggs, and canned callaloo and a tub of Spanish paprika., as well as more mundane items such as soap and shampoo and chicken bouillon and parsley flakes (I put back the Spanish and African prayer candles and the rosemary naan, and shook my head regretfully at the lychees and the snails and the twenty-five pound bags of basmati rice...).

And it was fun seeing such a variety of people there in Chamblee, Georgia - so many languages and accents in the air, and quite a few mixed-race families - and guessing that the gentleman in front of me was preparing for a party (possibly vegetarian) given the multiples in his cart: an entire case of Philadelphia cream cheese, eight heads of lettuce, two gallons of fruit drink, four cans of frozen lemonade and one of orange juice.

And there was also maroon-dyed eucalyptus and lavender statice. When I got home, I ended up putting the eucalyptus away, but snipped and intertwined and nudged stalks of statice and tulips hither and thither, and the arrangement is now quite satisfactory. It's still clearly an amateur effort, but it's now got shape and body to it. It now works. It's not perfect, but it's lovely and deliberate and I made it. Whee!

And there are still plenty of tulips left over (note to self: three bunches too many, two will suffice for one arrangement), filling three bud vases and one medium pot. Last night, over dinner, the BYM leaned over, touched his nose to a tulip, and smiled.

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