Writing Shed: for Undine

If you fantasize about a writing hut in your garden, here’s a series of posts for you (and click on the Victorian Renovation tab for more):

http://maryannemohanraj.com/2018/04/13/20178/

http://maryannemohanraj.com/2018/04/29/shed-writing/

http://maryannemohanraj.com/2018/06/08/shed-space/

http://maryannemohanraj.com/2018/06/08/shed-exterior-paint/

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Odds and ends

I cherish the fond illusion that I file/recycle/toss paperwork every 3-6 months, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Very otherwise. However, today I have tackled stacks of paper. As usually happens when things pile up for long enough, I have been able to recycle large quantities, including early drafts of two essays for which I have now corrected proofs, print-outs of conference papers given three and four years ago, and receipts associated with those conferences.

Still on my desk:

*a program from a conference four years ago, in a place I particularly enjoyed;

*instructions for my phone. which I seem to have got on quite well without;

*a two-year pocket calendar for 2014-2015;

*a postcard from Hull;

*a paper written by a graduate student for a course I taught, which I think I kept because in theory I am on the student’s dissertation committee (in practice, I don’t think the student has submitted any work yet);

*receipts from this year’s stay in Kalamazoo;

*a stack of references to things I mean to read for scholarly purposes;

*a set of newspaper clippings referring to books I have thought of reading for pleasure, along the lines of Val McDermid’s Northanger Abbey and Her Brilliant Career;

*a handout from a paper at this year’s K’zoo with my notes connecting the paper to one I’m thinking of writing;

*a check re-order form;

*an important piece of paper I should have put in my safe deposit box four years ago but which at this point is probably irrelevant;

*a chapter draft with marginal comments from discussion with my writing group;

*the label with which to return printer ink cartridges for recycling;

*a certificate, in Spanish and English, testifying to my having given a paper at a conference in a Spanish-speaking country.

Snapshot of my desk/life.

 

Roxy

Back to the Dinny Gordon universe, I really don’t believe in the canonical outcome for Dinny’s sister Roxy.

In the early books, Roxy loves boys and clothes and dating around. When she goes to college, she meets a man named George Bean, from Wyoming. They fall in love, she visits and spends the summer working on a dude ranch, George takes her hiking and skiing, she starts learning to ride. His plan is to become a ranch boss. In DG, Senior, Roxy and George get engaged, somewhat to the surprise of the Gordon family. But Roxy is calm and happy and convinced that this is what she wants.

Here’s my take on it: the marriage does take place, because Roxy is, in her way, just as stubborn as Dinny. Also, having been a girly-girl, she enjoys the feeling of competence she gets from learning that she can ride and ski and do things she never tried before. However, after a couple of years isolated on a Wyoming ranch, she is increasingly unhappy. George takes her on a vacation to Los Angeles, intending just to give her a break and cheer her up. On a movie studio tour, she’s the lucky winner of a screen test. It’s really a promotional gimmick, but in this case, the camera loves Roxy, and the test leads to a small role in a movie. In turn, the movie role leads to regular work in commercials and, finally, to a recurring role on a soap opera.

At first, George tries to be a good sport and support Roxy, since she supported him. He moves to L.A. with her, and looks for work in local agribusiness. But orange groves and Wyoming ranches are not the same thing. One of Roxy’s new friends is a girl who starred in every high school play back in South Dakota, and left for Hollywood the day after graduation. Things have not worked out so well for her as she hoped, and she’s homesick. Life as a ranch boss’s wife sounds really good to her.

The divorce is amicable, and George and his new wife are very happy back in the mountains. Things keep going well for Roxy, as outlined above. She has the sense not to date the obvious Hollywood types. Her second husband owns a Mexican restaurant, and his hobby is ballroom dancing and Latin dance, at which Roxy is terrific.

Years after she divorced George, Roxy confesses to Dinny that George was the first man with whom she achieved orgasm, and for a time she confused sexual satisfaction with true love. She had much more in common with her second husband, and the sex was even better. Their marriage was successful in every way, and now, in 2018, their little bungalow is worth millions. Roxy is planning to sell it soon and move to a very comfortable retirement community, near her grandchildren.

That Neighbor

For awhile now, it’s been apparent that the people to one side of us were getting ready to sell their house. I’m a little slow . . . they have actually done so.

So when a couple of days ago I went over and bawled out a young man for parking a moving van in the alley, blocking our garage (also a hazard because it blocks emergency vehicles, should one need to come through), that wasn’t the old guy’s son, that was a new young man I’ve never seen before, who was moving in, not the old people moving out.

( I’m not very good at facial recognition. The two men are about the same age, have similar coloring, and appear in the same house: of course I’m going to confuse them.)

This morning I was out early, mowing the lawn (push mower, so not very noisy). It’s going to be hot; I couldn’t sleep; might as well attack some brainless task that needs doing, while it’s cool-ish. But I was (am) pretty brain-dead because I slept terribly last night. Someone across the fence said “Hello, I’m S!” The groggy Dame stared groggily until poor S said, “What’s your name?”

Stilted conversation ensued. She said she hoped they weren’t too obnoxious about the moving vans. I am not sure what I said. They just moved from the city. I said we plan to move soon, ourselves. “Where to?” Further in [direction]. Subtext: don’t waste your time on us, we won’t be here, try the people on your other side, who are more your age anyway. More bright conversation from S, with minimal reaction from me. Maybe she thought she’d met a fellow morning person. I mean, I am a morning person. I just don’t want to talk to anyone before 10:00. Mornings are for being quiet in.

Later, when some caffeine had hit my brain, I realized how very badly I’m coming across to the new neighbors. Maybe I’m setting them up for pleasant relations with the new people, since I’m sure they’ll now be glad to see the last of us.

Better grumpy from the start, I think, than our own experience with the neighbor on the other side. She welcomed us warmly,  with home-baked banana bread, making me think she’d be lovely. Then she spent the next several years calling the town hall to complain about our bird feeders.

Sometime in the next few days or weeks I will no doubt lecture S and/or her husband about bishop’s weed and creeping bellflower. Just to solidify my reputation as the crazy bitch next door.

Slightly brain-dead

Yesterday I turned in my application for promotion, along with a crate (literally) of supporting evidence. Sir John asked a few times why I kept referring to “the crate.” That is what my department calls it; each applicant gets a plastic storage crate in which to assemble paper copies of everything: publications, syllaboi, sample assignments, and so on. It will take at least four months to get through the next stages, possibly longer depending on how many cases the college level has to look at and whether any of them are controversial. The rubber-stamping stages will drag out the process for another six months or so.

But you know my motto: any excuse is a good excuse for champagne. Some members of my writing group accompanied me for a celebratory glass of wine yesterday (the only place open in mid-afternoon didn’t have anything sparkly on the menu). I’ll crack a bottle every time I hear anything. Last night, however, my main celebration involved a novel in the bathtub: Marina Endicott’s The Little Shadows, about three Canadian sisters in vaudeville in the 1910s. It’s divided up into short scenes of 2-3 pages that make it fatally easy to read just a little more . . . and just a little more . . . I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say it’s an all-time favorite, but it was fun. I got the recommendation from ClothesInBooks, whose author seems to have similar tastes to mine, both in books and in interest in clothes.

In short, I stayed up far too late and got up at almost my usual time this morning, so I’m a little tired. I plan to do nothing much today (some housework, gym, gardening, more reading). Tomorrow will be time enough to get back to work.

Basement Cat on the trip to Kalamazoo

I have indicated before that the hoo-man servants are NOT to leave us unattended for more than a few hours.

That woman from the veterinary practice (why are they practicing? will they ever get good at dealing with us, or are we condemned to amateurs?) is NOT an acceptable substitute for our hoo-mans, and we cannot understand why you would trust her with our care or let her into our house, considering her past crimes.

She has robbed us of our precious bodily fluids on multiple occasions: she has stolen blood from all of us for some nefarious Dark Arts potion; she has mishandled Me such that I was forced to micturate inappropriately in an inappropriate place, in a great assault on My dignity; she has deprived us of effective use of the weapons on our front paws through the barbaric practice of claw-trimming, even on Reina, who succeeds in keeping you from clipping her claws at home: that is how obdurate That Woman is.

Though I feared poison, weakness compelled Me to eat the food she left. Scooping litter boxes was just about within her capacity.

I’m not going to say that I’m glad you’re back. Don’t think I would express such a ridiculously soft opinion. If I curl up against your legs when I think you’re asleep . . . and if I groom your hands when you pet Me . . . you’re probably asleep and dreaming.

Don’t you dare go anywhere ever again or you will have to face My wrath.

K’zoo weather: my fault

Sorry! I should not have ironed my linen blazer, trousers, and sleeveless tops. The next few days are going to be cool and rainy in Kalamazoo, rather than linen weather. That’s arguably better than the really hot and steamy years. I will do what I can to improve the weather by packing a wool sweater, raincoat, and umbrella. If I throw my wellies into the car, maybe I can ward off serious rainfall.

Green stuff, Summer, Projects

Yesterday I graded All The Things and then filed All The Grades. At home I drank sherry, had a bath, and crashed.

Summer started this morning, and despite my protests about being overly married to this house, I started with housewifery. I put out the bags of yard waste from my weekend endeavors, did some more weeding and spraying of bellflower, thought about the way it and the thistles were resisting the Very Nasty Weedkiller recommended by people at the gardening group I attend sporadically, and laughed at them a little more. Clearly they think of gardening as a genteel hobby, whereas the way I do it, it’s more like habitat reclamation. Or terraforming. Some of us just can’t do things the easy way. The clematis, at least, is doing beautifully, and the little volunteer clematis is back with buds on.

I like the thistles, or at least I love the goldfinches who perch on them to eat the seeds; the yellow and purple are beautiful together. If we weren’t trying to move, I’d just let the thistles be. But I don’t think most people want to buy a yard full of thistles.

Anyway, then I did a load of laundry and some ironing, because secretly I like ironing if I don’t have many other more important things to do. My linen will wind up crumpled, of course, because that’s the nature of the beast, but at least it won’t look like it spent the winter in a ball on the bottom of my closet. There are degrees of rumpled.

After lunch I turned to scholarly endeavors for a couple of hours.

I am waiting for a blast of e-mailed temper from my Brother Less Reasonable, since the other one has found an appropriate assisted-living facility to which to move our father. Less has already stated that he is categorically opposed to such a move. But he’s outnumbered. Maybe he’ll realize that that dignified silence might be the better part of valor.

Well, I can hope.

Time for exercise and bill-paying. There will no doubt be TV later. With sherry. Such an exciting (well, satisfying, anyway) life I lead.

A hole in the literature

I celebrated the start of summer by re-reading most of the Dinny Gordon books (my library is missing one), and then settled in to correct some proofs.

And I thought that I would love to read a book about grown-up Dinny as an archaeologist, correcting proofs for an article about her latest finds or reconstructions, or about her in college. So I searched for “Dinny Gordon” and “fanfic,” and came up blank.

Someone needs to do something about this.

It’s true that there are some archeology blogs, like Old Stuff in Hot Places, and Middle Savagery, which have entertained me for hours (as well as banished my lingering regret that I didn’t stick with my childhood desire to be an archeologist; I am clearly much, much better off in the library than breathing corpse dust). But I would love to find out how Dinny weathered the sixties and seventies, and hear about her experiences in academia, and perhaps even find out what she’s doing now: has she retired, is she thinking about it, or is she determined to stick at her job as long as she can because she loves it so much?

I have other things to write, but I can imagine doing a grown-up Dinny novel as a group project. Any takers? Anyone want to take up the challenge on their own?

Idle Google-stalking is not a good idea

Apart from the waste of time. I looked up a former student . . . who has published more books than I have.

Granted, that is not difficult, since I have not yet published any book. And we’re not talking academic presses, or even well-regarded commercial presses. The student was certainly both talented and a go-getter, or I wouldn’t even remember the name after all this time.

Hrrmph. I shall contemplate the glories of the completed MMP for a bit, and then get back to the Next Thing.

Maybe someone from my past will Google-stalk me and be impressed, and slink back into the woodwork.