Before the ambient temperature rose so very high, I was busy stacking stones and rolling paint; walls inside and out. Both activities are immensely satisfying to me. I love to work and find the rhythm of physical tasks very conducive to thinking.
In fact, I am of the opinion that far too often our conventional institutions encourage passivity when physical labor might be more appropriate. School and prison, which unfortunately share some similar qualities, come immediately to mind. Each involve enforced confinement; the former employs passive listening while the latter primarily mandates non-productive solitude. In the case of students, being truly active (hands on learning) seems far more effective; it certainly would have been so in my case. And if incarceration has not just punishment but also reformation and restitution as its goals, than I should think that being able to work at something and to achieve the satisfaction of completed tasks would foster less resentment as well as ultimately encouraging redemption.
This was but one of the many thoughts going through my head as I dragged stones from the woods for walls I am building around the gardens in the traditional dry stacked method. Our property is crisscrossed by these often precarious looking but in actuality quite durable structures; many have been standing since the civil war. My own walls are modest in scale, but as I heft the granite I feel that I am winking at death. See how alive I am? So strong yet, erecting stone structures, defying mortality!
I was much reassured by the news that my last scan was stable. However, at that same appointment, when Alice examined me she was able to detect wheezing. I’d been aware of it for several weeks. It is a familiar but troubling sensation and although it is possibly benign, I can’t help but feel anxious regarding its presence. I have gone back on prescribed inhalers and have also stepped up my level of physical activity. Fighting back, if you will.
In fact, on Friday David and I went on a little jaunt in the woods that evolved into a five mile hike. We became accidental tourists, as we followed a stream to a path, which crossed a small wooden bridge and culminated at a relic of an old mill. We’d heard rumors of this place, but somehow had never before found it. It was magical and serenely beautiful and now that we know where it is, I’m certain we will go back often.
And then Jemesii and Jamie (and their hamster Prudence) came for a visit, and the fourth of July rolled around.
We celebrated with food, friends and firecrackers ( legal and prevalent in New Hampshire). As we live on the crest of a hill, we were able to see firework displays all up and down the lake. David barbecued spicy shrimp, and Jem made two different types of cupcakes; one savory and one sweet. On Sunday morning, she whipped up a custardy pancake (she’s our little baker).
Suddenly it got really, really hot. Peter delighted in pointing out that the basement, where his quarters are, was a good twenty degrees cooler than the rest of the house. By Monday, the ovens were off and it was salads and iced tea for lunch, take-out sushi for dinner. Sadly, shortly thereafter, it was time for Jem and Jamie to pack up Prudence and hit the road.
Also tucked into the back seat of their car was a portrait that I did of Jemesii many years ago. Recently I decided that I had looked at it long enough, and that it was Jem’s turn now. Prior to their departure, I took a picture of Jemesii in front of the painting (titled Blue Slips and Goblins).
Tuesday the heat got the better of my ambition, and I accomplished little beyond diminishing the stack of dirty dishes that had been multiplying next to the kitchen sink.
It was a little cooler last night, and I slept the deep and satisfied way I recall from childhood. After coffee on the verandah and some general tidying, I slipped off to the local thrift store, where I generally make both weekly deposits and withdrawals. The misses Betty and Lisa are the proprietors of said establishment, and on this particular morning Lisa asked if I’d like an iced coffee made with organic milk and chocolate. Well, yes I would! As she handed it to me she whispered “don’t tell the other customers”. Not a chance and by the way, such sweet service!
On my return home I popped into Mary and Raleigh’s, and they were just sitting down to a glass of mint water and Mary’s apple pie, of which I was invited to partake. Things were looking up. I returned home happy and fortified and determined to break my current spell of lethargy by composing a blog. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of hours. However, happy hour seems to have descended yet again, as David has placed a cold margarita into my hands. Probably a good time to sign off on this one.