It half an hour I have to start thinking about what I will bring to a potluck. So far, I have maple yogurt, strawberries, half a honeydew melon, some Italian bread…… I’m sure there’s something else that I could bring, but my heart isn’t in it. Oh, figs! I bought some on sale, which is only permissible because ours haven’t ripened yet, and I thought I’d try the Mission figs to see what the differences are. I’ll tell you the results. Just by appearance, the Mission figs are nowhere as big, plump or drippingly gorgeous as our home-grown ones [and yes, I realize that description is going to lead to trouble somewhere down the line…but really — tree-ripe figs harvested on a late summer afternoon really do need to be described that way]
My heart isn’t in typing, either, and so I’m dictating the first time in ages, using MacSpeech Dictate (the love child of MacSpeech and DragonDictate, both packages I have used in the past).
This is the time of year for sorting through last year’s papers, syllabi, interesting news clippings, and older materials that had been hastily packed three years ago and honestly not look that since. I know that some of you will say “why are you keeping these things?”, but this fall I will be teaching a class based on notes that I took in 1987 (some philosophical concepts age perfectly well)! So the procedure is to open a file drawer, look inside identify which of the files is most relevant to my life now, bring those forward, shift the others to a new box that will live in the attic, and spend some time ambling down memory lane. Sometimes I find scraps of letters — some I received, and others that I didn’t send (these are educational, but the years confirm that not sending them was a really smart idea). Sometimes I find items that belong in my fiction files, or designs that really belong with my woodworking or crafting files.
A similar process happens with closets, particularly in the aftermath of the sadly successful moth trapping experiment: old items are removed from supposedly safe places, and some of them need to go away. Of these, after thorough washing, a few go away to local charities, some go to known persons who actually fit the garments, and some — like the shredded cotton sweater I wore through much of graduate school — truly need to be trashed. This is hard for me, even when the sweater is a wreck, because I can remember how useful it was, how comfortable, how it was perfect for fall weather in its prime and snuggly to sleep in when it was past its prime but my income did not allow me to raise the heat too much in winter. I felt lousy putting this sweater into the garbage bag in the kitchen and I felt worse when I realized that its last service to me would be to wipe the remains of Indian food out of a bowl prior to taking out the trash. It felt like insult added to the injury of abandonment I was already committing.
Clothing tends to stay around in my family, my father jokes that my mother has clothing that really belonged to the wife of the Conquistador Cortez…. It’s not really that bad, but she can still wear clothing from when she was in high school, and I can’t tell which is the larger miracle: that it didn’t wear out or that she’s still the same size!
I hate shopping. I resent the wearing-out of socks. I am wistful when discarding 20-year-old shreds of socks, too. I think: this might be one of the last pairs of socks made in the southern United States before the mills all died. There is history in this sock! Where will I find more socks this functional? [Never mind that the socks in question ceased to really be functional several years ago…] And, of course, the partial answer is that my Beloved knits socks. But those work better in the winter, and cotton yarn does not bring her joy. I prefer that she knits things that are as much a delight to create as they are for me to wear.
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