Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hello darling, great relief to be back up in the aerie with an icefilled glass of rosé. Just went through a storm of cooking in the kitchen. Everything's under control - now. I stopped by farmstands this morning and wasn't quite prepared for the fact that they're in full swing now. So I came away with tons of beautiful produce, which was all very rhapsodic and picturesque and fun and agriculturally and communitarially correct and all that, until I got home with all the bags and realized - oh s***, now I have to deal with it all. And I hadn't thought it through (not that I usually do, actually). On top of it, I'd decided to stew the neighbor's chicken so I asked D to chop it into pieces for me which he did. What I didn't think about was that a 7-pound bird - that, for me, is 2 chickens. My largest pan holds one chicken. I was trying to brown two birds in one pan - two times the work. Plus, whatever sauce I made with it - was I going to want - what - 6 or 8 meals of it? Dear God. I should have roasted the thing, and tasted the meat for itself, without spices. I miscalculated that.

In the end I have two different chicken dishes going on the stove. This is what it might feel like to run a multi-ethnic restaurant. I have a pot of Hungarian chicken paprikash (to pair with farmstand green beans), and another with a melange of cauliflower, onion, carrot and Indian spices (to pair with basmati rice). On top of that I blanched and froze cauldrons of spinach and swiss chard. All while watching yet more episodes of Big Love. Some of the wives in that series are dressed in old-fashioned full-length granny dresses. I was in my pink cotton bra and shorts, moving about the kitchen. Some of the wives are trying to bust out and get careers, while I busted out of mine (What I wanted most? Love. Work didn't get me that. Work was okay, the money was fine of course, but I always felt very apart from it. I'd get homesick at the office. I wouldn't mind a part-time job though. I never meant to permanently slam a bank vault door shut. Why can't a girl, constructed of halves - go by halves?)

Better check basmati - it's fragrant - in a minute or two it'll be burnt. Be right back.

Didn't get much reading done today, a few pages of Lives with L.G. (On the KZE overnight playlist, by the way - Willie Nelson's Pistol-Packin' Mama.) I thought about it on my walk this morning though. Hodgepodge of thoughts. My post got messed up yesterday for some reason, whole sections kept disappearing, and I was trying to recreate them from memory. So one thing I had written that vanished was that latter-day biographers of E.D. and her circle are aware that Mabel Loomis Todd, her husband, David, and Emily's brother, Austin were involved in an intimate, committed (to a point) ménage à trois, was that Mabel and Austin were "strict recorders" of their assignations, noting them in transparently coded fashion in their respective diaries. (David, expert at covering his tracks, scrupulously recorded everything but his amorous affairs, though perhaps there was a trail of female diarists in his wake.)

Another thought was that on the Secret Life of E.D. page there's an intriguing notion that's been posited, that E.D. would be more comfortable in our century than in her own. I instinctively don't agree, or perhaps not the way it's phrased. I think that without question, a century and a half later, her poems I think are more accessible because modernism sprang up in the interim. T.S. Eliot has this premise that there are no original poets, that each one stands on the shoulders of his (I doubt he thought her) predecessors. With E.D., curiously, she's so out of the traditional notion of time, we understand her better in light of poets who came after her - modernists such as Eliot.

(Hmmmm, smelling the chicken paprikash - or maybe it's the Indian spices. Better run downstairs again. Just checked "recent pageload activity" - darling, you've been right at the top since yesterday evening, which I love. Do I need page hits from a googlebot in Mountain View, or from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (the page hits between your page hit from yesterday and the day before), I ask you?)

Would E.D. herself as a person be more "at home" today? She'd have proper treatment for her epilepsy I'm sure, so that might cease to be a barrier between her and the world. But an original thinker such as herself, who needs huge reserves of "alone time" - unless she was independently wealthy (which would require a lot more money than today) - she'd have a hard time living her life in precisely her own terms as it seems (under her circumstances) that she did.

I think about Mabel Loomis Todd , whom Lyndall Gordon refers to as a "New Woman" of the 19th century, smart, savvy, go-getting... E.D. is "out of time" as an artist (as all truly great artists are, perhaps?), while sister Lavinia was of old school passive, trusting woman. I think Mabel Todd, with her ambitions, might feel more comfortable in our age - she'd rise, perhaps, to the top of a corporate ladder. I know that in my post yesterday I made (distortions to keep things brief) her out to be a nutjob, and one thing I didn't intend was to sound prurient or breathy about their unconventional amorous accommodations. I'm sort of envious of it. These people truly loved one another - David and Austin, too, bonded in their mutual love for the same woman. Surely an arrangement such as that - there's something touching about it, I think - would be very hard to pull off today, wouldn't it? Our age seems more heavily "policed" in such matters, driving things if anything, even more underground.

And, yeah, in that age, that social class (it seems) they liked to play around. While Mabel was putting her sights on Austin, David was also happily occupied.
David Todd's tolerance [of Mabel's relationship with Austin] puzzled Susan. Knowing nothing of his sexual marksmanship, she dismissed him as ineffectual.... Mabel took care to keep her husband [David] in play. Her next move was to bring in a Boston cousin: plump, well-kept Caroline (Caro) Andrews, her rump encased in a striped black taffeta skirt. It rustled as she walked. Glossy black braids crowned her head and a wide collar of lace, edged with a frill covered her shoulders. Caro was the daughter of a Congregational minister of Cambridgeport, and before her marriage had been on the editorial staff of a magazine. Bored with marriage to a wealthy merchant, she was typical David Todd prey. He immediately took up with Caro, whose apt middle name was Lovejoy. She came to stay on 16 April 1885 and that very evening David invited her to his observatory, while Mabel 'fixed the furnace' and entertained Austin. Caro and David, she notes, 'came back very late.' The following day, her diary goes on, 'David & Mrs. Andrews, Mr. Dickinson & I had a lovely drive all morning. Windy & fresh.' In the evening Mabel had a 'tremendous' little conversation with her husband and then the following day, while David took Caro away until five in the afternoon, Mabel had another conversation with Austin in the Todds' parlour. This involved 'Revelations' she does not reveal, but it appears that a 'strange relation' with Caro ensued, which Mabel dared not write out except to say (in her more reflective journal) it was 'more remarkable & almost unbelievable than any novel I ever read or dreamed of'. Mabel's excitement was such that she hardly ate. The editor of the lovers' letters has suggested a four-way relationship, and it looks as though attraction developed between the two women. Caro's visit, Mabel goes on, activated 'the whole beautiful rounding-out of some halves of things.' Caro then invited Mabel to accompany her and her husband when they sailed for Europe in June 1885.
Darling, this post is completely stream-of-consciousness and I'm just letting it rip, reluctant to edit too much, at least for tonight.

So this desperate over-educated housewife got her hair trimmed a bit today, in prep for going to the city for a few days, starting Wednesday I think. I don't even know what I'm going to do there. What's at the museums? I have no idea.

Missing you, as you can well imagine. Oh, and not in just that way, in that deeper way.

I'm the one, it seems, who's forever out of her time and place. Grrrrrr.

I hope all is going well with you, darling. Have a wonderful long day's journey into... dawn. Kisses.

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