Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Week in Seven Words #295

When the adults ask him questions about what he values, the boy makes flippant remarks. He doesn't like how they want to sit in judgment over his words and pick apart the things he holds important. He deliberately gives them nothing of value.

They receive love, or something like it, only when serving their parents' shortsighted and limiting needs.

A plate of puffy chocolate cake floats around the room. With bits of cake indented and crumbling, we know the kids have gotten to it first.

They send me a gift card with money from their own account. It's a lovely gift, and it reminds me that they aren't little kids anymore.

A dinner that's more like a joust, the guests having a go at each other across the length of the table. All in good fun, they claim.

The delicious crackle of a pan filled with pepper steak and mushrooms.

As I get older, my relationship with my religion becomes more like an invigorating wrestling match. And sometimes like an expedition.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Week in Seven Words #294

To his great pleasure, he gets to roam around with kids a year or two older. They accept him without condescension and pay attention to his opinions.

I put on oversized orange glasses, hold an inflatable guitar, and pose for snapshots. It's fun. I like these photos much more than the formal ones.

He drinks his way to greater warmth and friendliness. His smile is relaxed, his voice cheerful. For a few moments, I imagine we're close.

With slow, savoring bites, they suck up the gooey center of a fried Oreo cookie.

The speeches are more or less what I expect. The room is mostly silent, and people continue to eat.

Once they've filled their plates at the buffet table, they don't move. They stand at the table, eating and talking, their elbows bristling as they defend their ill-gotten space.

I don't know who the kid is, but he's out on the fringes of a parking lot, playing on an embankment dotted in dandelions. No one else is around.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Four Off-the-Wall Crime Stories

Sometimes what I like is a crime story that's a bit ridiculous. Like these four. I enjoy the dry humor, irony, and sarcasm, and the little darkly funny twists.

Title: The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Where I Read It: Lord Peter: The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories

"I've got the great big top Moriarty of the whole bunch quietly asphyxiating at home."
Peter Wimsey is a duke's son and amateur sleuth. He wears a monocle and is given to prattle (or "talk piffle"). It's to his advantage that he looks foolish, because people often underestimate his sharp mind. But in this story, he leaves behind his monocle and stays mostly silent. It's the only way to bring down a powerful secret society of criminals, in a high-stakes game of undercover operations, psychological tricks, secret loyalties, and complicated safes. The suspense is strong here. Also, the title is not at all unusual in a short story collection that includes "The Piscatorial Farce of the Stolen Stomach." (I liked this story better than the stomach one.)

Title: Murder on Orchard Road
Author: Nury Vittachi
Where I Read It: Singapore Noir

Feng shui master C.F. Wong has spent his career restoring the favorable energy in homes after a murder has been committed in them. (Is "restoring favorable energy" an accurate way of putting it? I don't know anything about feng shui other than reading sometimes about how people try to position things in their rooms - and the story doesn't really go into it much either.)

Recently, Wong's attempts to find more lucrative gigs has landed him work ensuring the success of a major car race. With his use of feng shui practices, the race will ideally be entertaining and please all the wealthy sponsors. But the day of the race, Wong comes up against various problems, including a Buddhist abbot who doesn't know when to keep quiet and a colleague's son who gets accused of murder. The story is humorous, with Wong so clearly fed up with so many people's BS but needing to make a living and keep everyone's feathers unruffled. It's also interesting to read a story set in Singapore. (Orchard Road is a major commercial street, full of shopping plazas and also well-known for huge displays of Christmas lights.)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

GWB and New Jersey Palisades Hike

The last Sunday in May, I went on a hike I'd planned out myself (as opposed to joining a group with a hike leader). The basic route was this: start on the Manhattan side of the George Washington Bridge (GWB), walk across the bridge, do a loop involving four trails in the New Jersey Palisades Park, and then walk back across the GWB.

The NJ Palisades Park website was really helpful with its maps and trail descriptions. And I got inspiration from this blog post too.

The pedestrian entrance to the GWB is near a playground in a low-traffic residential neighborhood west of the GWB bus station in Upper Manhattan.


Week in Seven Words #293

Foam churns in the wake of the ferry. The city recedes to the size of Legos. I lean back and feel the wind coast over me. The water is deep and glistening.

From between the rocks, the water whispers.

Sunflowers, leaning out of buckets, press their faces to a bright window.

Most of the homes have porches half-screened by flowers and leafy branches.

I'm walking in a world of pastel colors: pink doors, seashells, light blue skies, flowers enfolding fences and homes.

In a dimly lit room with dusky, rose-colored walls and no TV, I press bandaids onto my blisters and settle back in bed with a novel.

The famine memorial is spread out in the foreground. Behind it, a glass-fronted convenience store displays large cutouts of a spoon and fork.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Week in Seven Words #292

She's happy making life a little softer, a little kinder for people.

They gallop across the dance floor with their arms around each other's shoulders.

Sentences get tangled in my head. Words get caught in dark upper branches, beyond sight. It's time to take a break.

She insists I'll feel better if I tell her what's bothering me, but I hesitate. There have been some occasions where I've felt better, but usually the main focus becomes her emotions. I have to make omissions or tiptoe around things to keep her from becoming upset. I'm the emotional caretaker. I'm also not always sure what she does with what I tell her, how she might fling it back at me at some future point.

Her dress makes the sound of a rainstick when she settles on the bench.

The house looks bashful, its windows peeking out from branches held like fingers to its face.

Maybe the path in the garden is shaped like a question mark, and you stroll there wondering, "Why am I here?"