Cleaned the kitchen earlier, mostly. Made coffee and a blender of dying-strawberry smoothies. The coffee's kinda bitter. I think I let it stew too long.
I'm drinking it black out of this little mug I was using last weekend as a creamer. It was apparently once a gift of custom-made pottery, quite likely to my father, for on the bottom is etched the following:
If indeed my dad taught Saul Bellow, I'd not know it from when he was alive. I know some of what he taught, but only some. My own explorations of lit/reading very rarely overlapped with my experience or understanding of him & his. When it came to crunch time for me to declare a major, I made a big production (with myself) of casting about for something that wasn't English Lit, though those were the classes I most wanted to take lots of. The not wanting that major was all about not wanting to be like him.
There are a few times I recall our sorta connecting along those lines. One night when I was 15 or 16 I mentioned having a paper I had to write, and he perked up & asked me to join him in his study (which was also the workshop & his beer can repository & CB/ham radio station & paperback library & [iced] tea [from powder] room & 40-ounce saloon & retreat from all of us). At least I think it was in there. Wherever it was, we sat & he showed me in about half an hour how to write an essay. I can't remember any other time he was involved in my schoolwork.
I have a copy of The Code of the Woosters he mailed me, out of the blue, when I was a freshman. Short stories of Bertie & Jeeves, which he apparently loved when he was in school. I waited a few years to read 'em. My mother routinely mailed me little notes with (maybe 20 bucks plus) a roll of quarters, and I'd use those right away. We'd laugh at how silly she was being, to mail coins, and I'd do laundry & play pinball, and maybe feel her love a little along with it.
I also have a copy of The Dream of a Common Language, inscribed with my name and "December 25, 1980" on the fly page, printed in my father's hand. Before Christmas they must've asked if there was anyone I was reading, and I must've mentioned Adrienne Rich. I've wondered whether they went to the B. Dalton in the mall for that one. Imagined my mother zipping in through the semi-secret tunnel entrance she liked to use to avoid the crowds & picking up the book for me. But there was my father's handwriting in it, like he'd used writing his own name in a number of books back when he was in school. With an address, sometimes.
Had he read the poems? Did he know she was a lesbian? How could he not? But she hadn't been before, when she wrote the anthologized stuff he'd probably seen, with a husband in it, and meter. I never found out, though he lived a few more years. No way I was gonna ask.
My overriding sense about both my parents is, as it may also have been even before they died & evidence of their lives presented itself for this other, calmer contemplation: mystery.
What were they thinking. What might it have been like for them.
Who gave my father this mug. Did she have a crush on him. Was it a she. Did they fuck. What Saul Bellow had they read. How shitty was he about the spelling. Why is the mug still here. Why did my mother keep it. Why have I.
Or is it a mug somebody gave somebody else, and it got thrifted, and came to me via something like that, and here I am doing this thing with it. And isn't it a laugh that it could be.
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The little bud precursor hangy-down thingies on the maples are starting to give way to the leaves, whose little parachute clusters umbrella up & out more each day. Dandelions now may well outnumber those little purple flowers in the front yard.
Calling it "the front yard" seems wrong, and I want to erase it & call it something else, maybe specify "my yard," and maybe even back off further, with "the not-really-grass in front of this house." I know that the reason it feels wrong is that "the front yard" is what my family called the front yard, and that means the ground in front of the house that is where we live, at home.
That's what this thing I'm talking about, the front yard, is, to me, now, I understand, except for the plurality of "we," but it feels so much like not the same thing at all that the family words trip me up.
+ - + - +
Eh, screw the bills. I'm puttin' my shoes on and going outside. It's looks all sunny-yet-a-little-chilly out there.