Sunday, February 24, 2019

Week in Seven Words #451

What happens, he asks, if you've made a great mistake or committed a serious unethical action, but since then your life has grown around it? The mistake has become a part of the structure of your life, and in ways that are helpful to other people. How do you make amends under those circumstances, without causing greater harm?

Glasses clinking over a table softened by white cloth and sprays of flowers.

It's easy to be wise, he says, when you're young and naive. He used to give people marriage advice before he got married. He laughs now, thinking back on that time, decades ago.

One of the benches in the park has a plaque dedicated to a homeless man. It was his bench.

In the light spitting rain, the white columns of the fountain jet up, and the top of each column breaks away to leap like a liquid acrobat.

She comes over to cook, and throughout the afternoon I enjoy tastings.

A misty rain tickles my forehead. Sea gulls circle in the mist, and a duck lifts away from the river.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Week in Seven Words #450

The knights face each other on a sunny field, their armored shoulders white in the sunshine.

Beside a brick apartment building, porcelain children sit on swings attached to the lower branches of a tree. Lifelike butterflies climb the old boards of a fence.

"I screamed like a girl," he says, when describing a scary moment in the play. "No," she replies, "you screamed like a boy, since you're a boy."

I describe something as I wish it had been and not as it was, and I'm hit with a pang of painful empathy; I understand her better.

The hike leader admits that whenever he says, "This is a good spot for a photo," what he means is, "I need to rest." At one point during the hike, he informs us that there are some interesting glacial potholes we could look at if we detour down another path. But wouldn't we rather head for the bathrooms? Most people vote for the bathrooms.

Water spouts from the mouth of the stone frog. It runs through stone channels and emerges from the ground in thin white claws. One boy keeps filling up a cup to splash his younger sisters in a game of water tag. They run laughing through drops of glistening water.

The bottom of the creek is made up of tiny hills and plateaus of mud. What's left of the water has settled in the valleys.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Excellent descriptions of the weather in Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

This morning the countryside, through each and all of the big windows, was bright golden in the sunlight. On the sides of a little hill quite close, beyond the railway cutting, grew a thick hazel copse. To-day, with the sun shining through its bare branches, this seemed to be not trees at all, but merely folds of something diaphanous floating along the surface of the hillside – a flock of brown vapours, here dark there light – lit up in the sunshine.

In this Julia Strachey novel, the characters left less of an impression on me than the rooms they live in and the countryside that enfolds them. The descriptions of the weather are fantastic. And no, the weather isn't always cheerful. The wedding isn't cheerful either.

Out in the drive there, standing about round the motor-car, in the furious March gale, everyone felt as though they were being beaten on the back of the head and on the nose with heavy carpets, and having cold steel knives thrust up inside their nostrils, and when they opened their mouths to avoid the pain of this, big wads of iced cotton-wool seemed to be forced against the inside of their throats immediately, so that they choked, and could not draw any breath in.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Week in Seven Words #449

Among the people listening to the outdoor opera broadcasts: a young couple who have chosen seats close to the giant screen and are now eating noisily and whispering, a young boy who is entranced, a panhandler crouched outside of a pharmacy blocks away, the voice of the soprano an eerie reverberation around him.

"It's not a baby," he insists. "It's an action figure." But she doesn't care. Every small human-shaped toy, including Iron Man, is a baby to her.

The cantor is astonishing. His voice is full of hope and poignancy.

The opening scene is entrancing. The green curls in her hair flow into her shimmering gown, as she reclines among the roots of a tree.

We admire the embroidered birds and flowers on robes the color of pomegranates. We peer at the details on peacock feathers and at rivers ghosting across a canvas. The delicacy of blossoms and snow is exquisite. So are the tigers rippling across the golden panels.

At the restaurant, they move her to a different chair, one that isn't in view of the gum ball machine. Another way to distract her is to ask her to sing; her repertoire includes the classics, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

With a sketch book positioned on her thigh, she sits before a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi that depicts Esther and Ahasuerus. The sketch focuses on Esther, who is close to fainting; her body looks as if it's about to come apart in different directions.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Week in Seven Words #448

The fountain looks like a dandelion in a fuzzy state. Instead of sending seeds into the wind, it releases soft white droplets.

From around the corner of the block, through a lobby, to a cramped waiting room, which doesn't have enough chairs, down a roped-off corridor, into an elevator, and finally up to the sanctum, a broad, gleaming chamber with plenty of cushy chairs and bureaucrats forcing smiles from behind the counter.

Low-key, humorous grumbling from people well-acquainted with bureaucratic inefficiencies.

She writes about the end of a friendship but gets frustrated when the words make the relationship and its dissolution sound trivial. She wants whoever is reading it to understand how much it hurt her.

It's supposed to be a discussion group but it has a cultish infomercial feel to it where everyone is relentlessly bright and empty-eyed.

Her resting face gives the impression of boredom, but her thoughts are energetic, and if you talk to her about an interesting topic, she becomes animated, her eyes brighter and a smile ready to flicker to life.

Just when I'm thinking the street is bland, full of the dull mirrors of office building glass, I spot an enormous church with a dome.