Sunday, April 26, 2020

Week in Seven Words #506

This covers the week of 9/29/19 - 10/5/19.

The leaves are turning a spangly orange and gold. Coolness is working its way into the warmth of the day.

I respect how attentive she is to other people. She pauses in the middle of praying to make sure someone has a seat, and to soothe an elderly lady who thinks she's been transported to a date decades earlier.

The kids find a way to amuse themselves by chucking their shoes through a hole in the net. "Special delivery!" they shout.

When I return, I find her asleep on the couch with her fingers still suspended in front of her, her freshly painted nails drying. As good a time as any to catch up on some sleep.

She's seized by moments of querulousness, and it's best to let them slide. Her hours are often pinched with pain, and one day washes into another.

What I touch I must try to make good.

It's impossible to start over completely, he says with dimmed eyes, but you do the best you can.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Week in Seven Words #505

This covers the week of 9/22/19 - 9/28/19.

Curled up on the couch with intense cramping, waiting for the OTC painkiller to kick in. My feet swivel in time to the pulses of pain, and I try to let the murder mystery novel I'm reading distract me.

She shows an interest in Revolutionary-era Boston, after I show her an image of Samuel Adams beer.

In the back room of the board game cafe, the wall is scuffed and dented. A small sign hangs on it, asking customers not to kick it or bang on it with their fists.

I find a notebook for her, in light blue and decorated with hot air balloons, in which she'll probably want to write the poems and song lyrics she isn't yet ready to share with anyone.

I clean my shoes and donate some boots, towels, and pillow cases. Under the couch, I find dust clumps that look like small gray wigs.

She's trying to find a chair, or configuration of chairs, that will suit her. She slides from one to the other. She chooses a middle seat, before scrambling back to settle against the wall. I don't think she'll find anything she likes, because the discomfort is embedded in her mind. She can't uproot it by means of rearranging chairs.

She's frustrated that they don't consider a cold to be an illness. They take no care to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Three Sherlock Holmes Stories to Read in Lockdown

This past weekend, I read a few Sherlock Holmes stories that I found strangely relaxing, even though at least one of them involves murder. Maybe because each story is like an orderly, manicured garden with well-defined paths. Holmes and Watson are ever the same, with Watson admiring the genius of his friend, and his friend saying that it's nothing at all, you just have to observe things. (In some cases, you also have to be able to distinguish between different kinds of cigar ash, topsoil, etc.) The endings aren't mystifying. Just take the route Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has laid out for you, and you'll be entertained.

(You can also amuse yourself imagining Holmes in lockdown. When not on a case, he enjoys being indoors, experimenting with chemicals, playing the violin, or getting a little coked up.)

All of these are from Sterling Publishing Co.'s volume, The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). You can also find the Adventures and the Memoirs online on Project Gutenberg. ("The Crooked Man" is in the Memoirs, and the last two stories in the Adventures.)

Title: The Crooked Man

Crookedness can refer to a physical characteristic or to a moral one. In this story, a man is dead after an argument with his wife, who has fainted away at the scene. There's also evidence that a third person was in the room. Holmes probes a little deeper and discovers a horrific betrayal from decades ago.

Title: A Scandal in Bohemia

Irene Adler is in this one, a woman who looks after herself capably and stays a step ahead of Holmes. Is she the villain of the story, or someone who has been wronged and is trying to protect herself? Holmes falters slightly in this one, I think because he bases his predictions on what a woman would typically do in Adler's situation, and she's unusual.

Title: The Speckled Band

This story involves a country house, a cruel stepfather, and an elaborate method of premeditated murder. What I liked most about it was the sense of dread that builds to the point where everything is revealed.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Week in Seven Words #504

This covers the week of 9/15/19 - 9/21/19.

She likes being read to while she's being fed. And she likes repeated readings. This time, it's the Berenstain Bears and a dinosaur bone that goes missing from a museum. After the nth such reading, I sit across from her and her dad with a book about a different bear: Corduroy. She switches chairs and settles in for another story that bears repetition.

She tells me that her favorite teacher, a humanities teacher, resembles me, which is why it's her favorite class.

She repeats the name of her car's model, in bursts of delight.

His interest in wrestling has diminished. Now he's into fishing and fishing videos.

Not for the first time, I wonder if I were to get up, push my chair back in, and leave, would anyone present care.

It amuses me when a teenager tries to be shocking. Kid, you don't know how young you look to me.

His voice is wrenching. At midnight, the lights flicker out, as if in response to the feelings he has evoked.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Week in Seven Words #503

From 9/8/19 - 9/14/19.

The middle child feels aggrieved, blamed by an older sibling who sides with a younger one.

The birthday cake is slathered in butterscotch icing. Over the weekend, it disappears in chunky slices that melt away on people's tongues and between their teeth, and in fist-sized balls that a child digs out of its side, and in slivers of icing picked away by restless fingernails.

They cycle quickly from "I hate you" to hanging out together laughing to being deeply annoyed with each other again (which they call hate), a mood that soon shifts back to affection.

My clothes are damp and cold from a heavy rain, but the walk to the restaurant is worth it. A good burger, an easy flow of conversation, just a lovely evening overall.

The first night, she pretends to be a doctor, and she even knows the word "MRI," though she pronounces it "enMarigh." The second night, she's an ice cream truck driver handing out blueberry and mint scoops on cones.

Creativity, laughter, and hyper-competitiveness during board games. Once again, I get my ass whooped in Settlers of Catan by a ruthless kid.

The large dollhouse is reserved for a couple of small dog figurines and a little plastic baby in a drawer.