Some fragments and a few photos:
This is a very fragrant hanging dendrobium.
Another fragrant species, the coconut orchid. Small blooms and prolific numbers on the larger plants I have brought indoors. They perfume the whole house. When my orchids are done blooming I repot them if necessary and put them back in the shade house. I think by June I'll have a lot of orchids, because I just gave them some strong fertilizer. I tend to starve them; they really don't need a lot of food, but when I feed them they bloom very well.
Surinam cherries. The bees came down from the macnut farms above our place and pollinated the flowers, and we are getting a huge crop of these delicious tropical fruits.
Sometimes I get this strange posthumous feeling , that somehow I'm not supposed to be here but here I am. Days like today, that are so heavenly, seem like a gift from somewhere, but since I don't believe in God I think it's something my cat might understand. He lives entirely in the moment and is happy or sad or indifferent accordingly. He has a very limited short term memory and can only persist in an activity if he's fixated on it. He does not know he's going to die. Part of me does not know that either. So on days like this I'm like a cat.
Against the temperament of these anti-natal times, I know myself as a woman who would never have found happiness if I had not had children. My mother was the same. So are my daughters. I know many women who are not this way; I'm not making a value judgment. This has nothing to do with ideas about true womanhood, a theme of no interest to me. It's truly something about me and not about society or society's expectations. No one cares about mothers and children particularly except those directly involved. The focus is, as always, on men and what it is men do. That keeps the essence of motherhood private and is actually a blessing.
There is a fascinating article in the new New Yorker about a woman, Lonni Sue Johnson, who lives completely in the present due to brain damage. It's called Life Lines and is by Daniel Zalewski. I can't find links to it but it's in the Mar. 30 issue. Time Magazine also published an article about her in 2013. I was fascinated, not only by her condition but by the social atmosphere around her of highly civilized Princeton NJ residents and university people. Her mother and sister keep her alive, and she is an object of interest to scientists and artists. There is a video of her:
The new London Review of Books is stellar. So much wonderful writing and a fine poem also, The Discoveries of Geography, by Andrew Motion. Just a few lines:
I have in my possession a map:
Two handfuls of mud
scraped from the bank of our sacred river,
flattened into a tablet,
then pierced with the blunt point of my compass
In the same issue of the LRB, Jenny Diski confronts death from cancer and is frantic with fear. In long, long paragraphs she explores her past, present and abbreviated future. She is cursed with memory and the knowledge of oblivion"....the excruciating terror of the fact that I am in the early stages of dying comes regularly and settles on my solar plexus directly beneath my ribcage...There the terror squats, rat or raptor," etc. etc. She does not have religion to console her. No amount of rationalization or intellectualizing helps either. I have been surprised in my own life, though, to observe that faith and prayer console, but only up to a certain point. Some deaths are harder than others, and we can only hope for mercy. This may seem like a downer to younger readers, but at my age I think about these matters quite a bit. The Diski piece and the poem are not automatically available online except to subscribers.
You can get temporary access, though, if you sign in.
You don't need to sign in for this essay, however. I never watched Mad Men after the first episode, but here is a good critique of the series., a juicy long read by James Meek.
Peace, prosperity, health, the nuclear family, fulfilment through consumption and a white, white Christmas: even if you’ve never read Yates or Cheever or Salter, generations of cinematic art, from Hitchcock to Lynch, have prepared you for the nastiness below the surface of stuff like this. You assume there’s a dark underbelly, and there is.
Hucksterism reached an apex of bad taste in the 50s. I suppose an aspect of the 60's was Madison Avenue's creation of more sophisticated kinds of advertising. For instance, getting men to consume more than cars, cigarettes and booze called for a revamping of the sales pitch. Buying stuff was for women, and men did not shop the way they do now.
I always laugh at the way Terry won't go near a department store like Macy's, because his mother dragged him around to too many of them. But try to keep him out of Home Depot! And of course Costco has really found the formula for luring men into stores. That warehouse atmosphere, the sale of large quantities of stuff, the hot dogs and pizza, the tire department, etc.
We are a mad, mad species. And the wheels go round and round...