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September 10th, 2018

This is Thai basil from my garden. It’s very pretty when it flowers, and it seems to have developed a woody stem, which is making me wonder whether it’s a perennial in other parts of the world.

I don’t think it could possibly be a perennial here, given the severity of our winters.

I have got tons and tons of Thai basil—appreciably different flavor from Italian basil, by the way—so later this week, I imagine I am going to have to make several quarts of curry sauce.


Meanwhile, it’s cold! It’s grey! It’s wet! It’s miserable!

The good news is that the Category 3 Hurricane is unlikely to take out New York.

The bad news is that it’s primed to take out northern Georgia through southern New Jersey.

Although, taking out southern New Jersey. Never a bad idea…


I roasted and deep-froze approximately half of the 40-pound tomato haul last night. I could not face making More Tomato Sauce. Just. Could. Not.

Can barely face roasting and deep-freezing the other half of the haul today, but it seems so inherently wasteful not to preserve the bounty, like you’re slapping God in the face, you know?

L’s gentleman friend, C, watched as I prepped. He drives down from Albany every weekend to visit.

I like C, but he is kind of a caricature.

Like one time, I was in the kitchen with L and C, and L put the kettle on for tea and then left the room and forgot about it.

The kettle came to a boil and began to whistle.

C kept doing his crossword puzzle.

I deliberately let the kettle boil down because I was conducting a scientific experiment. I wanted to see if there was a point at which C might actually get off his ass and do something.

There wasn’t.

When the kettle was almost dry, I refilled it. And set it on the burner to let it boil and whistle again.

And C remained sitting at the table, pencil in hand, scowling ferociously. “Who was the actor who played the Professor on Gilligan’s Island?” he asked me.

Finally, I turned the kettle off. And went to find L: “Your tea water is ready.”


Yesterday evening, L was off at a birthday party for one of her grandchildren, so C was here alone. He was obviously hungry! But in a billion years, it would never dawn on him to go to the refrigerator, use the stove, and prepare himself something to eat.

That’s women’s work!

C, by the way, is my age.

He kept darting hopeful glances at me!

I was coring tomatoes, stuffing them with basil leaves and garlic cloves. Blasting from the radio was that bland replacement for A Prairie Home Companion—have I mentioned that I am never gonna give another cent to NPR because of the disgraceful way they treated Garrison Keillor? Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang! was simultaneously blaring from the TV.

Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang! may well be the worst movie ever made.

I have a pretty high tolerance for annoying stimuli—hey! I grew up in the heart of Manhattan—but this was a bit much even for me.

“Do you actually like this movie?” I asked.

“Well, it’s upbeat,” C said. “I figured it would be cheerful with all this low pressure moving in.”

“Wait! You get depressed when barometric pressure is low?”

“Yeah. Sure. And every joint in my body aches—“

He proceeded to describe the individual aches and pains. With great relish.

What these aches and pains had to do with the Presidency of Donald Trump, I’m not sure. But somehow I found myself listening to a long rant about how Trump voters were out in the woods, randomly shooting at things. Trees, people. They don’t give a shit. Trump doesn’t give a shit—

“Wait!” I said. “It’s deer season?”

“No, it’s not deer season! Trump supporters just like to shoot at things!”

This could just as easily have been a rant about Crooked Hillary and the Pizza Hut pedophiles. It was pretty amazing. And one of the most amazing things about it is that C is incapable of seeing that there is essentially no difference between him and the so-called Trump base.

He’s not stupid.

Had he been drinking?


When L got home, she looked defeated. Visits with the grandchildren are always tiring; complicated family dynamics there.

But she immediately trotted to the fridge and began assembling a dinner plate for C. Plopped it in the microwave.

What? C couldn’t have done that himself?

C is pretty typical of the men in this part of the world.

No wonder when I get the occasional hankering for male company, I scavenge in New York City, 100 miles away.


I forced myself to go running because however cold, grey, wet, and miserable it is today, it will be colder, greyer, wetter, and more miserable tomorrow—possibly so cold etc. that running won’t be an option.

And running is one of the things that keeps me from turning into C! Narrow-mindedness; that conviction that because something cost a buck ninety-nine 40 years ago, it shouldn’t cost ten bucks today; and immobility are the three defining characteristics of old age, after all—and lets face it, old age is the demographic pool in which I swim.

These pretty yellow flowers were blooming everywhere:

Blooming when everything else is withering and dying! Now that’s hope.

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