Surreal Clever Red Bean And Wiggle Case

Nabbings from last summer’s Big Siblings book sale.
Photo taken by me in SJ Library on my iNonPhone.

What follows is a segment from yesterday morning’s messaging session with Gillian, beginning at my 06:28, her 19:28. Except for a lovely afternoon with the Mortimers on Thursday, I haven’t been out for nine days. Does it show?

[GILLIAN experiences string of typos / Spellcheck hypervigilance.]

Me: Haven’t been too good with the typing lately either. Or the pouring. Missed my coffee cup on BOTH sides two days ago! I was scandalized.

G: Ack!

Time to switch back to tea?

Me: One of the Time-Life books from childhood had a two-page spread of photos of a man who had volunteered for a sensory-deprivation experiment. A completely dark room with soundproofed walls, and oven mitts on his hands, for a few days.

When he emerged, he was given straightforward tasks like inserting a bolt into a hole, and he couldn’t do it, his coordination was all off.

G: Wow

Me: Maybe I’m experiencing Gillian deprivation?

G: Woooo

Me: Hahahha he went back to normal in a day or so, and I expect I will too.

G: It won’t be long before I’m home. Just need to collect a few more photos…!

Me: Photography is a form of butterfly collecting, isn’t it? When you wrote “collect” just now it came to me.

Beauty at a point where two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects blur their boundaries.

G: That sounds like an artist’s statement.

Me: I’m thinking use in a piece of thoughtful fiction

G: Yes, that would work 

Me: Am still enjoying The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Excellent characterization based on the characters’ actions, almost polar to Woolf’s all-in-the-head stuff.

G: Super

Me: Yeah. It’s not wasted action, either, it’s informative.

Cheap novels are full of wasted action.

Academic ones are full of no action.

Golly, I’m firing on all cylinders this morning, aren’t I? Must be all that fish and seafood I’ve been eating.

Fin.

(PS This post’s title comes from my squinting guess at one of the food photos Gillian shared with me this morning. Got “red bean” right, anyway.)

Three Round Meals

Now you may find this ironic, but the fact is that when Gillian and I are together at home, we each grab our own breakfasts — usually cereal or toast — but when she’s away I’ll cook a special treat.

There’s a simple explanation for this: what I like to eat is disgusting.

Bread dough fried in porkbelly fat and swimming in blackstrap molasses — heavenly!

A fried dough blob is called a “touton” — rhymes with “scoutin’” — in Newfoundland. I had some sourdough starter in the fridge, so I threw some fancy-schmance sprouted whole wheat flour at it till it made a soft dough, for my first attempt at preparing this new-to-me dish. The porkbelly bits, rendered in the pan till they’re nice and chewy, are called scruncheons. Basically they’re bacon without the additives. Wash the meal down with a cup of coffee and half a can of Graves baked beans with molasses.

Then there was a “yikes” meal. Yikes, all this leftover basmati, what to do with it? Make rice pudding is what. Gillian hates rice pudding, so here was my chance. Two eggs, almond milk, raisins, chopped chestnuts; didn’t need sugar because I slopped redcurrant-strawberry jelly-jam over it. Slurp. The next day’s leftovers got redcurrant jelly. Just as slurp.

This last meal was inspired by the photos my sweetie was sending me of her meals in Japan. A nice minimalist look, don’t you agree, and something of a rising sun, those cheddar rays of the rice cakes rising above the dark clouds of pitted prunes.

But this meal was supper, not breakfast. Although I may have heated a smoked capelin or two for dessert.

Just doing my bit to help Gillian appreciate the strange foods of Japan all the better.

A Winter’s Night

20:15, silence. Neither fridge nor heater nor humidifier running, no sound of traffic.

Savvy slumbers, head on her blankie, beside me.

Cai is curled up in his little bed under the piano. All is still.

But our loved ones are our timepieces, and those with shortest lives faithfully unquiet us from stasis back into the quotidien. Here is Cuca to tell me it’s bedtime: the dogs must patrol, the birdfeeder must come inside, the human must give treats.

Tomorrow, Gillian’s throw will again await her shivering return; her mother’s piano will again await Gillian’s agile fingers.

Tomorrow, the dogs will again wait out another storm.

Tomorrow, upstairs, Cuca will again borrow the dogs’ travel beds. He found these today, within five minutes of my having pulled them from my crowded clothes closet.

Unreliable Witness

“Tell me, Ms Bruce, where were you between the hours of 6am and 3pm on the day of February 11, 2019?”

“Certainly. I was upstairs, downstairs, in the basement, in the backyard, and down the street.”

“Are you trying to be funny, Ms Bruce?”

“No, sir. I’m just answering your question.”

For most people, “I stayed home” is a gross inaggeration of their activities. We do things we don’t even think of as “things.” In jotting down everything I did today up until 3pm, I forgot “made and ate lunch,” “made myself a coffee,” “lay down for a short nap,” and “read two pages of To the Lighthouse,” but still had 27 items on my list.

But wait, there’s more! Lots of activities contain numerous sub-activities. “Did two loads of laundry,” big whoop. But laundry entails sorting dirty clothes, choosing optimal machine settings, listening for the machine to finish, removing the lint, folding the clean clothes, and putting them away. It may entail climbing stairs. It may entail using clothespins on an outdoor laundry line or an indoor drying rack. “Making coffee” includes grinding it, putting the used grounds in the compost bucket, and washing the pot. “Napping” includes reading To the Lighthouse as an alt-med sleeping agent.

Then there are while-I’m-at-it tasks. While I’m watering the houseplants, lemme just remove these dead ivy leaves. While I’m making a smoothie for my lupper, lemme just give the dogs a spoonful each of the yogurt. While I’m getting my clean mug out of the dishwasher, lemme just put away the rest of the dishes.

And no day is complete without a yikes chore or two. Yikes, that leftover redcurrant juice has been waiting in the fridge for a week! Lemme just make some jam. Yikes, Cuca’s litterbox needs topping up! Lemme just go do that. Yikes, this salted fatback in the deep-freeze is a year old! Out you go.

So please, Mr Mason, no matter how interesting the crime, please don’t call me as a witness.

The scene of the grime.
Photo taken by me on my iNonPhone.

Thick And Thin

Last month I bought a new toy called Spirograph Cyclex. It’s just one frame holding five discs, each disc perforated with odd-shaped holes, and the cog teeth all hidden within the frame. To make a design, you trace inside one of the holes 36 times till the disc returns to its starting point.

The cogs occasionally slip a little, but it’s not like the version of my childhood wherein tiny clear plastic discs went flying off under the couch or down the heating duct. And did it really come with push-pins to steady the outer cogwheel?! Oh, those crazy ’60s.

Anyway. Here are two identical Spirograph designs, except for the thickness of the lines: 0.3mm on the left, 1.0mm on the right.

I like the versatility of the different thicknesses of line. I can colour the righthand design more solidly, as though it were stained glass; the lefthand one, I feel, needs a lighter touch of dots, crosses, and asterisks, retaining and enhancing its laciness. Here are the two designs, coloured in.

“I got you babe.” “I got you babe!” “I got you babe.” “I got you babe!”