Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dearest, up in the aerie, hair still damp from my shower an hour ago, after my workout. Charlie Rose is killing me. I could no more do a workout to Richard Lugar followed by Donald Rumsfeld (shudder) than I could to A.G. yesterday, so Ellen at four it was again. I could use a second DVD player up in the aerie. Then maybe I could watch Ingmar Bergman or Woody Allen films while keeping strict & honest to pilates on the other player. It feels as though it's getting hotter & more humid just now, even as the afternoon waxes into early evening. Dearest, I am not feeling very inspired at the moment. I've had the car the last couple of days, so I've been able to go for walks at the conservation area, where I hadn't been most of this spring. The old regulars, each with their dogs, are still there, going through their paces. Tomorrow is D's birthday but he'll be out on a job all day, so I tried to make a nicer-than-usual lunch when he came home, fettuccine with pesto, leftover grilled chicken, a nice salad of redleaf lettuce, avocado, tomato, and a tiny red onion from the garden, and strawberry-rhubarb pie for dessert. I served it on our 'fine china,' very pretty vintage-inspired plates that I keep displayed on open kitchen shelves. After D went back to work, I set to baking chocolate chip cookies, from an entirely new recipe, very different from my usual one that I squint to read from a bag of chocolate chips. A couple of weekends ago I happened on a cooking show discussing the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie, and since I make them all the time I was intrigued. Instead of creaming butter & sugar in the mixer, they melted butter in a pan, swirled it on the burner for a few minutes til it turned golden brown, then whisked in the sugars (granulated, plus dark- rather than light-brown), followed by egg and vanilla, and finally the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, walnuts, and extra-special 60% cacao Ghirardelli chocolate chips). I haven't tried one yet but they baked up beautifully. It's surprising to me that the technique could be so different, yet the result still come out as chocolate chip cookie, possibly though - I'm reluctant to use the word "transcendent" with reference to a cookie - but perhaps so.

Dearest, I would like to commune with you but at the moment, feeling fatigued, I would prefer, rather than writing, that it be in the form of your stepping behind me, putting your arms around me and kissing the top of my head. I'd clasp your hands to my breast, and tilt my face upward, to meet your beautiful lips.

I've read some more about the Ariadne and Theseus myth, still musing about it, letting it filter, sink in. It's a very rich & complex myth, I'm not sure I still have it down exactly right, but then again there seem to be variations of the basic theme. The Minotaur was Ariadne's half-brother whom, by helping Theseus, she helped kill - that is, conspired in killing her own kin. It seems that she and Theseus eloped together afterwards. She was certainly in love with him. Was he with her? Perhaps for an instant, or perhaps he'd promised her his hand in exchange for her indispensable assistance, or perhaps he eloped with her in gratitude afterwards. But by the time they reached Naxos in Theseus' ship, he was no longer into her, and he left her there, sailing on with the sons & daughters of Athens whom he had, by killing the Minotaur, rescued from his having devoured them. Ariadne was heartbroken, abandoned on this island by herself, in love with Theseus. But Dionysus, god of wine & intoxication & ecstasy, discovered her, coming down along with his followers in a leopard-driven chariot, and fell in love with her, seeing to her essence, her passion & loyalty. And they lived happily ever after...

Theseus - I wonder what happened to him afterward. Rational man through & through, he had a moment of realization when he lopped off the head of the Minotaur, that in a sense he was killing off his own shadow self. After ditching Ariadne on the remote island, he continued sailing towards Athens. But in all the partying that went on in the boat, what with all the nubile young sons & daughters of Athens, he neglected to switch his black sails to white or another color. And it's possible that as her revenge Ariadne neglected to remind him to do so. And so Theseus's father, the King of Athens, stood on a cliff watching the seas for sign of his son's ship. And when he glimpsed the black sails on the horizon, he interpreted it as a signal that the mission had failed. And so Theseus's father committed suicide, casting himself into the sea. And Theseus then became King...


I recognize echoes in this story of 1.0, and of me (at least from a very long time ago) - and of you? Maybe, I'm not sure - more shadowy anyway, less literal. No, but maybe, the way you quietly came with your iPhone in June of last year - that's when I first noticed Mr. iPhone - but your timing seemed beyond coincidental, perhaps deliberate, after 1.0 had disappeared from view up to the North Pole somewhere. Oh well, it doesn't bear such close looking at for close comparisons, I mean it's certainly not as though 1.0 had abandoned me at that juncture, not at all. But he did leave, in a sense, as he had to do - and you very quietly appeared, took his place. And you helped keep me going, even if I thought that you were him for the longest time, that entire summer. And then I learned that 1.0 didn't have internet access that whole summer, so Mr. iPhone was someone else. And then I learned, months later, who I believe it was - believe to this day. So you have played sort of the Bacchus role to my Ariadne, in a way...

If I'm up for it later this evening and skies are clear, I'll go outside and look up at the stars, and imagine that one of the constellations is the one that Bacchus created, when he lifted Ariadne up to the heavens, in a celestial sign of his love.

image, & detail:
Titian (1488?-1576), Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-3, oil on canvas, 176.5 x 191 cm (5.79 x 6.27 feet), The National Gallery, London (link here)

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