Saturday, November 12, 2011

My dear love, thinking of you as I sit here by lamplight, dark outside the windows a few minutes past five, a fleece draped over my shoulders, my hair twisted up in a clip. No Miss Dior today. Instead, I inhale my fingers - they smell of mysterious spices, very good hot curry powder that I used to season a couscous salad I made hours ago now - and yet the scent lingers on my fingers - must have saturated into my pores because I've washed my hands since. D's grilling lamb chops tonight, and the initial thought was that we'd have them with roasted root vegetables left over from the other night. But I became inspired by the beautiful sunny day - with the heat on, the house quite balmy - I could almost believe it was a "warm weather" month. And I have beautiful ingredients from an expedition to Sahadi's the other day, and so I thought I'd make summer salads...

(Sahadi's was my last stop before heading to Penn Station. It was quite an ordeal to lug my heavy bags several blocks from the storefront to the subway - my luggage (such as it was), packed in large sturdy shopping bags (made of recycled plastic bottles) from a chic market - heavy to begin with, and then a third such bag, with my haul from Sahadi's - I could barely carry it all - had to stop every few steps and readjust the straps on my arms, reconfigure the bags in my hands - good thing I had allowed plenty of time for my train, because so loaded down it took me a good fifteen minutes to make my way to the IRT from just a few blocks away on Atlantic (in normal circumstances a five-minute walk if that.)

Anyway: the ingredients I have - like a bazaar! of which I availed myself - Greek feta cheese diced into a taboulleh salad with spritely chopped vegetables - tomato, cucumber, red onion, parsley. For the couscous salad - slivered almonds, golden raisins, minced apricots...

So now there are two splendid heaping bowls of gorgeous, fragrant, delicious salads -- and D, out on a job, thinks he's only getting leftovers tonight.


Other musings, ramblings. Have picked up where I left off on some reading, e.g., the Janet Malcolm book on her journalistic foray into the Plath-Hughes literary estate morass.

I have yet to finish the Sewall biography of E.D.  It has taken up residence on my nighttable rather like an objet d'art at this point.  I would like to finish it but other currents pull more strongly.

Started, on the train down to the city last week, the novel whose author's booksigning I'd attended some weeks ago at the local international arts colony.  I'm enjoying it tremendously - she has a deft, vivid way with detail, with setting the not just exotic but culturally complex scene, seeing things from the point of view of her untutored narrator - who is embarked on being, in another sense, a tutor - anyway, enjoying it immensely,  Thus I can respond in this casual way to the author's autograph, inscribed with my name - Hope you enjoy it! - in her paperback book.

The woman who I went to that Emerson play with the other week? the one whom I'd somewhat awkwardly (because it's hard to find a smooth way) tried to prepare her for my blog, by describing it to her in a message? who I thought had politely and silently declined not to have anything to do with me again?  I was wrong! she was busy, away, detained - all sorts of her perambulations, unrelated to me.  She sent me a message today - that she'd like my post, and "thoughtful preparatory note" to my blog, and she included an astute literary link elsewhere, that gave me a sense of -- well, that she's not conventional herself, and that she can deal with the unconventional.


And I've been thinking, in all this mix, of Mabel Loomis Todd the last few days.  I looked up the wiki write-up on her and didn't like it at all.  Many times I've been quite impressed with wiki writeups - but this one took me aback with its obvious bias, and sketchy, skewedly selective details.  I set out (for the first time in my life) to rate my reaction to the entry, and even to elaborate on what had so exercised me.  In the end I bailed from the site because due to their 'transparency' terms to which I would have had to agree, I might not have been able to fly under the radar.  Which is fine - I might have simply sent them an email with my observations and misgivings about the post -- but their automatic form didn't seem to give me that option.  Instead their terms seemed scarily to intimate their right to use my IP address... I don't bother with false, proxy ones...

Darling, are you still with me? I should have saved the comments I might have posted on their site. Just that I felt that the limited, sketchy description of Mabel revealed more to me of the bias of the contributor, than it did to concisely profile the subject.

I won't go into the details of my objections now
except that I do find a kindred spirit of sorts in Mabel

well, okay, I'll lightly reconstruct them
(I don't wish to be coy - mention a subject - then drop it)

her nature - and her private experiences - she had noted for herself in her private journals
it's only later biographers, unearthing her personal notations, who have made this big flap about her nature

she championed the preservation and publication of E.D.'s poems
discovered only after E.D.'s death

spearheaded the effort to decipher & transcribe the handwritten fascicles

persuaded a somewhat obtuse Thomas Wentworth Higginson (who never "got" E.D.'s poems) of their worth - by declaiming them in such a way that their power became evident even to him

was an accomplished artist in her own right, gave E.D. a watercolor painting of her own design & execution, that E.D. enjoyed, that later then graced the very first published edition of E.D.'s poetry

made Austin happy, for thirteen years, until his death (this, in an age - I presume - before it was easier to legally divorce)

it's highly questionable, obviously - whether Mabel "destroyed" the Dickinson family - that family, comprised as it was, of highly sensitive individuals, in a complicated dynamic - 

Mabel could play piano & sing - and did so, at the Homestead
E.D. sent down - perhaps in appreciation, or in thanks
(or - if one wishes to be mean - in Jane Austenian manner
'you have entertained us quite enough')
a glass of sherry


so there darling
here we are
I sometimes write of my longings
a hundred years later - more
in my private jottings to you
no it didn't work today - I tried
that trip to the city tomorrow is a necessity

but you know what made me feel ecstatic
before I even sat down
at 3:30 - now with 'standard time'
the incredible western sun
high over Reno
but here low and bright & orange over the hills
filling this aerie with the most amazing momentary light
like one of your page hits, at the moment I know
you're thinking of me
and I think of you
and there's a triangulation
of subject and object and some third thing
that rings the circle and doesn't triangulate at all
but loves me squarely deeply just then

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