Where should I start to write this week? SUCH a wealth of material has been accumulating, and it drifts across my brain now, like plastic bag shards in spring breezes.
Shall I tell the story of the turmeric? The turmeric in it’s cellophane bag from the health food store, that cellophane bag that is so irresistible? The deep orange-y yellow turmeric powder, still staining Owen’s bathroom cupboard and basket whence it was thrown and where it lay too long in deep yellow drifts. I think I wanted to believe it would go away if I did not acknowledge it’s presence, puffing out in little breathy piles onto the bathroom grout and the bathroom mat (I think I have now removed all yellow traces from the white curtains which still hang over the banister in the hallway waiting ironing). ((And yes Owen, I DID notice the circle of teeth mark you left in the center of one there.))
Or the continuing saga of nudity – removal of one’s clothes is never enough these days in preparation for whatever is going to be happening in the bathroom. Having stripped, Owen must take everything down the hall to the laundry, his clothes and the towels — and then those annoying bathmats — and then, for good measure, the bathroom stool. Then in a spare, tiled space he can commence whatever business is at hand. Unless he couldn’t quite hold it in that long.
Perhaps it isn’t surprising that I have ranted lately as we walk in the afternoons, or try to walk – first at Owen and then the dogs, I don’t feel particular. There are times when I cannot take it when Owen simply won’t walk, wont walk, won’t WALKoh forgoodnesssakeswouldyouhurryupwhatareweouthereforifwearentgoingtomove?! and instead stands paused, staring into space. I always wonder how much the sounds of my frustration invade neighbors yards and homes. I stop, and look back impatiently, then find myself smiling, watching the familiar push-me-pull-you of Owen and Rascal walking together: Owen paused and yanking backward to dig a small bit of trash out of the dirt while the dog strains forward, and then Owen straining forward while the dog pulls back, pausing to go pee again.
One afternoon, my usual walk frustration (just building up during the effort to get Owen off the property and onto the trail) melts away in the face of a huge smile that Owen gives me. He turns – and looks me in the eye and pauses to make sure he has my attention. He pauses also to locate the desired words. Then “Moose on the table!” he says with great emphasis. It is a morph of unknown origins, intended clearly to tell me something very important. But I don’t know what that is, so I say, “Oh that naughty moose!” and this seems to please him very much. And him being happy and responsive always lightens my load, and brings me back to the most important things.
But the best story is the most recent, and I notice it seems to follow the same theme. At the end of a busy and lovely Easter weekend involving many treats and multiple changes of clothing for Owen, was my daughter Freya’s jazz recital for her program at Temple University on Easter Monday. Having looked at the cost of having Owen cared for during that afternoon and evening (10 hrs x $20 per hour = Ouch), we had decided to just bring him along and maybe get a college student to hang out with him, in the hall…? My efforts to locate a sitter in Philly led nowhere – so we fell back to our usual mode, take Owee, and hope for the best. His dad packed him two boxes of carrot sticks, his mother multiple changes of clothing, and we started up I95. We changed at the border – no accidents. Of course we were tight on time, and located a parking lot just before the concert, jogged to the building, and were guided through the warren of hallways by a kindly music student, taking our seats in Klein Recital Hall just in time. Freya greeted us and got us a program.
Owen had to like the concert hall. It was petite, with cozy turmeric colored walls, and dimly lit. He looked a bit surprised, and sat curled forward checking things out with sideways looks, armed to entertain himself with scissors (somehow the security guard let this slide – ah art school!) and a fabric bag of plastic shards. But what he really wanted was the second plastic box of carrots he knew were in my purse. I held him off the carrots however, since we had an hour of music to make it through.
When the pianist, bass viol and percussionist opened with an original jazz composition “Monkesque,” Owen was surprised again – he stopped moving – and his body language said “listening.” The composer did all kinds of different things on his bass viol, creating unusual rich sounds. Owen has a great sense of humor about things happening in unusual or surprising ways – and so do jazz musicians. This includes Owen’s sister Freya. When she rose for her turn to perform we learned that she also was going to sing an original composition, a piece titled “Unrequited Love: Why Coco Channel?” mourning the unaffectionate nature of her hamster, Coco Channel. How come you do my like you do? It was a great song, and a fun performance, Freya smiling out at us, relaxed and musical.
But from my seat in row four or so, next to the wriggly guy with a pile of plastic hunks under his chair, there was the added element not everyone got to appreciate. Finally allowed to open his box of snack carrots, Owen accompanied his sisters jazz piece with crunching. Jazz, with carrot stick percussion. I wish I could have captured it for you my faithful readers, but this was one of those moment to just appreciate. The rightness and the wrongness of things, the appropriate and the inappropriate, meeting at the street corner, and shaking hands. Carrot crunching, hamsters, unrequited love.