While waiting for my slides to get duped and for my Shelley Winters/Debbie Reynolds midnight double-feature horror dvd to arrive, I perused the Craigslist personals today, to follow the abject sex lives of my former suitors. I think I mentioned them before–or the perennially-on-Craigslist one of them–but I’m going to mention them again, because I’m bugged. First off, I’m bugged that I saw even one smidgen of an attractive quality in either. One is now seven! years younger since we went out, the other… well, I can’t really mention his particular metamorphosis, except to wonder how he would have faked such a thing with me had we ever actually met. The mysteriously-7-years-younger guy might be trying to appeal to the type of guys who like the not-too-much-older-guys-who-look-significantly-older-than-they-say-they-are? While I may photograph myself from particularly flattering angles, and with lighting that accentuates this or that, I endeavor to portray myself in a realistic light. That is, if we meet, you’re going to find out that those gray whiskers in my picture are also on my face, so why Photoshop them out?
I voted for Hilary today. I want a smart person in the White House again, and Hilary’s married to one.
I pruned my plum tree this morning. It’s still on its last legs–its last trunk, actually–but it has at least a few more years in it. I lost a few key limbs in wind storms over the years, limbs that were unfortunately ripped from the central trunk just below their collars, so they never healed correctly, and now there’s rot in the central trunk. I think I’m going to wait, though, until it just topples over. Or not. Or until I can decide on what I want to plant in its place. I’d love a fruiting cherry, but I’m not sure if there’s one that would do well in San Francisco or with my particular micro-climate.
Today was an absolutely beautiful day in San Francisco, cold and crisp and sunny. The first flowering plum blossom opened in my side garden, and the daphnes have begun to release their perfume. All is right.
One of my great pleasures is seeing the new Mediterranean Garden in my mailbox. The journal, published quartertly by an almost Victorian group of plant enthusiasts, the Mediterrranean Garden Society, contains articles about various plants appropriate to a mediterranean climate, and the fabulous gardens and parched places that support such flora. I went to one of the society’s Annual General Meetings in October, 2001, in Athens, and spent the week looking at amazing gardens with blue-haired expatriate English ladies all married to shipping tycoons, each telling me of her little garden on Malta, or her hillside retreat in Tuscany, and the rest of the month toodling around the Peloponnesus and Crete. The Journal itself feels of a different time, printed on flat white stock, all the images are exquisite pen-and-ink drawings, never any photos, and the articles range from elaborate descriptions of exotic plants–on the bus from Athens to the biggest private garden I’ve ever seen our guide yelled to stop the bus and all the blue-haired ladies hopped off in their sensible flats as she yelled “It’s heliotropum europeana!!!” and everyone snapped pictures of this greek weed growing out of the cracks of the street–to Grand Tour style journaling. Membership is $35/year.
The roses are blooming, the roses are blooming. Here’s a view outside of my bedroom window, taken this morning. The roses were planted by a previous owner of my house, possibly as long ago as when the house was built, in 1929. I have been sculpting them over the years into a sort of arbor that extends overhead when walking up the side steps of the garden. They continue in a massive pink cloud that extends up into my hawthorne, which I climb every winter when I head back the canes. The canes can grow as much as 10 feet in a season. The Cecile Brunner rose, or “Sweetheart Rose,” was introduced in 1881, and is seen in older gardens all over San Francisco. It’s incredibly disease-resistant, has a slight cat-pee like fragrance, which isn’t altogether that disagreeable, and doesn’t need any care, except heading it back so that it won’t take over the planet. A lot of exotics have been introduced into the Califonia garden over the last 10 years, almost a new Victorian interest in diversity and uniqueness, but most of the plants require lots of care, which they don’t get, and end up looking awful–check out all the leggy Princess Flowers, woody helichrysum, and 10 foot high beauty “bushes.” Give me a Cecile Brunner rose, some boxwood, a plum tree, and a juniper.
BC’s charming big sis, Beth, was in town for too few days, and has already flown back to the heartland. Between Beth-related activities and gardening (this is one of the months that I actually work), I haven’t had much time, but Reese is working on his homework, so I’m taking a break to click across my keyboard.
On Saturday I took BC and Beth to an amazing performance of The Voysey Inheritance, an early 20th century play by Harley Granville-Barker, adapted by David Mamet, and presented at ACT. The play explores the possibility of an ethical life within a corrupt society. Imagine that. A young man, Edward, discovers that his dad has been using his clients’ properties to raise money to quench his family’s thirst for luxury–for years, his dad confesses–continuing a tradition started by his dad’s dad, and which the young man will soon enough have to deal with as he inherits the family business and the challenge of maintaining the appearance of solvency. Everybody’s out for himself, except Edward, who wants to set the books straight and is reluctantly–in a tilt from his solid moral center–forced to continue his dad’s thievery to save the family from disgrace. Just an amazing piece of theater.
I plucked the remaining Meyer lemons from my tree on Sunday, peeled them, and plunged the tender fragrant skins into a Vodka bath, where they will soak for the next month or so in my closet, and hopefully not explode. I’ll then add some sugar syrup, wait another month or so, and hope that I’ve made enough Limoncello to get me through the winter–if it lasts through summer.
The 99th anniversary of the 1906 quake zipped by without much celebration–next year’s the biggy, I suppose. I did stay over at BC’s, if that counts.
My plum tree, the focus of my garden, has developed rot that has descended into the heart of the main trunk, and I fear that the tree will have to be replaced within the next few years. I’ve lovingly sculpted its form for close to two decades, and am not ready to chop it down just yet, so I’ve filled the hole with an expanding styrofoam insulation, which will hopefully prevent more moisture from getting in, and lightened the limbs so that there’s less stress on the crotch, but once the heartwood is gone, there’s no way to replace it. I’m looking at it outside my window, the styrofoam oozing out of it like a weird polyp. My roses are in outrageous bloom right now, though, and a quarter of my garden is pink.
The client that I worked for today looks just like Janet Reno. She’s one of several beloved clients that I see just twice a year. I love her garden, and its magical contrast of form, texture and color. Because I work there so infrequently, everything gets cut back pretty hard. I leave this tight crew-cut of a garden and return in six months to the Summer of Love flowers in your hair exploding organic inevitability. Janet gave me an $80 tip once, which was great at the time, but makes me a bit uneasy whenever I see her, like does she thinks that I expect another $80 tip? I don’t know if Emily Post mentions it, but it’s not necessary to tip the gardener.
Oh my aching everything. Yesterday I attacked Mr. Publishing-Agent-Who-Rejected-Bob-Once’s roses, huge Cecille Brunners that formed a lovely canopy over the stairs, but effectively blotted out the sky, the view of the city, and were now growing into the radiator of the car parked on the street below. Mr. P-A-W-R-B-O and his partner called me in for a garden cleanup in April, but as the buds were already setting, I told them I’d come back after the bloom for a mid-summer pruning. The sky and the view have been restored, at the price of my scratched bloody face, arms, legs, and neck, and a deep cut to my knee from a rusty nail–do I need a tetanus shot, or do I wait for it to fester?
Anyway, since Bob is no longer helping with my house expenses, I need to fill the gap in my passive income with some active cash, so please pass on to anyone that you know that I’m available for gardening work–cleanup, maintenance, installation, and fine pruning. I work fully clothed, though, so gardener fantasies should incorporate a fashionable sense of suitable work attire designed to minimize sun exposure.
Davide and I joined my pal and patron Alex for the Giants/Padres game last night. I prefer to call the Padres “the daddies,” and deeply admired the complex crotch-grabbing, and leg-lifting techniques of the visiting team. One guy, as he stepped up to the plate, grabbed his crotch briefly, wiggled his feet on the plate, and then went for a much more involved grab as he bent over and slung the bat over his shoulder. There was several guys who preferred toe-tapping to crotch-grabbing, and my favorite daddy wiggled his hips from side-to-side in a snake-like dance that ended in a sharp flick of the jock. The hispanic guys were consistently the most inventive in both style and technique–is that a racist comment? Oh, I almost forgot the pre-game stretching! Before the game began, right at first base, #35 and his “stretching assistant” formed all sorts of sexy configurations straight out of the Kama Sutra in a most-assuredly successful attempt to get #35 ready for action. I want that job!
Davide has succeeded in momentarily deflecting attention away from my bearbot drama to his. If only we could arrange a visit to Stepford and trade these guys in for some bearbots who listened to our simple commands of “love me” and “take off those plaid cut-offs now.”
The weather was perfect, Mamoosh showed up with a handsome new beau, John, architects Eric and Seth bonded on my code-violating deck, Funkybear Martin was just fabulous and as bright as the day, whipped cream hanging from his whiskers like an invitation, Paulie snuggled up to BC and Iain on the couch inside, Paulie couldn’t tell if the music I selected was music or the walls, Dean and Doug are off to Paris in a few weeks, Nathen’s blue eyes were just dazzling against his blue shirt, Chris J may have gotten a new garden design commission from my neighbor Arnie, the former airline pilot and “other woman” to not one but two handsome, considerably-younger men, Arnie and fellow-retiree Ralph still think of me as a twinkie despite the grays, the wrinkles, and the extra 30 pounds, Sarah described some exciting new work for her Marjorie Wood Gallery show opening in May, Reese arrived fashionably late dressed as a silent film star but failed delightfully in staying silent, the ginger/pear/champagne punch was delicious, Jeff has lost 50 pounds in the last 6 months by not eating exactly what I served at the party, Philip reconnected with lost friends, including the Nick Dong-less Jeff, Victor is spinning on Sunday nights now at the Eagle and has Saturdays free for garden parties, my 3-month old niece experienced her first party, my brother and sisters converted Bob’s office into a diaper changing facility, who was that adorable Kris that I didn’t get to bond with, mid-western Don charmed us with his mid-western charms, Cameron won the award for Most Gravity-Challenging facial hair, and who was the cute cub on his arm again, Rainey and Joe soaked up some sun and showed off their oily muscles, Alex and my former heartthrob Garry talked of Jewish mysticism, Garry showed obvious disappointment when he learned that Gershom Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism was on Bob’s nightstand and not mine, Steve and Jack talked of electronic fig leaves, their friend Bela was most cuddly and should cook for me some time, 6 people represented those without facial hair, 50 shortcakes were ingested.
All in all a very fun party. Thank you all for coming and bringing such sweetness and cheer into my home.
Stay tuned for the Mid-Summer Swinging-Bachelor House-Rewarming Divorce Party and Ball. I think that I’ll ask everyone to bring along a single bachelor to try on my glass slippers.
Iain is back in town, so for those swinging LJ’ers who missed him last time around, and for those of you who got to see ALL of him and want more, or for those of you looking to soothe Coco’s broken heart, come to my place on Saturday and catch me on the rebound. Bob’s out of town, I have the place to myself for two weeks, the weather’s fine, IT’S TIME FOR A GARDEN PARTY, and I don’t have to drive…
Saturday, March 20
4303 20th Street (at Collingwood)
Yesterday and today I completed my spring pruning, running slightly ahead of the season, but hey, the prunuses around the city are already opening, and the buds are starting to swell on my clematis, roses, and plum. This moment, when everything’s neatly clipped, contained, weeded, still, and bare, fills me with excitement. Soon my garden will be bursting with color and scent, but now it’s like a new haircut on a gloomy day. I climbed my hawthorne to redirect the Cecille Brunner that I’ve allowed to climb up nearly 30 feet over the past few years. Now it forms a canopy that weaves through the hawthorne and out over the wisteria, joining the rose arbor that runs the length of the fence. I need a higher orchard ladder, though, as I seem to have lost some of my Jackie Chan balancing ability and very nearly fell a few times from the top rung, which I know I’m not supposed to be standing on, mom. I impaled myself on a huge thorn, too, not seen directly above my head. Remember the saint who is always seen with the rock stuck in the side of his head? I’ll have a big thorn in mine.
My jasmine ligusticifolium is blooming. If you haven’t smelled it before, come-on-a-my-house, and bring your nose.
…to brighten your day