Ignoring Owen in the Dark.


I have decided to ignore Owen.

It’s only fair – he’s been ignoring me. He has been going to some lengths lately to let me know that:

 “No, my reverberating friend, you are not the beginning and the end–”                                       (Eliza to Professor Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady)

If I say “Let’s go for a walk,” he flattens himself against the wall. If I put out a lemon wedge for him he doesn’t touch it, but will sneak behind my back to swipe one out of the fridge. Or eat the one in my glass. I offer him a spoon of cookie batter, and he is silent. He echos “No fank you.” So there. Keep your darn cookie batter! You can’t control me with it!  To some extent, Owen’s always been like that. To some extent, all my kids are. I call this an artist temperament, but you could say cussedness.

So today, I thought I would write about something else. So there. It is could be difficult, but somehow I will manage, if only to show that—

There’ll be fruit on the tree! and a shore by the sea!  There’ll be crumpets and tea without you!”  (Ditto.)  (So there)

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s important to me not to let Owen win. Owen can be very competitive. Unlike me. Did I mention that he is still climbing over the banister about every morning, just for the thrill of picking up a few extra plastic chunks out of his drawer of stuff? But if he isn’t climbing the kitchen gate too, and marauding in the kitchen, it’s not enough to get me out of bed in the pitch dark to prevent.

Pitch dark. Like right now, outside my studio window.

It is far too dark in the mornings lately. Readers may remember that in past seasons I have bemoaned the biannual time change. Not this year. I have been looking forward to it for about two months. I’ve been trying to alter my rising time so as to flow right into the new time without a hitch.

[I tried to get Owen to segue his time change too; naturally, he started getting up earlier. Besides, I am not talking about him.]

There is no writing time like that early morning space, when Edward and dogs and chickens are sleeping, and Other People are tubbing. Or climbing over the banister to get more toys for their baths. But as the mornings get darker I find I just can’t do it. This could be because after 53 years under the rule of Benjamin Franklin my body is habitually prepared to be assaulted by the changing of the clocks about this time of year.  The pitch darkness that used to be 6am will soon be an ungodly 5 am, an hour when no one should be vertical. It’s true, it’s true, 4 am is worse – let’s not talk about it. Especially in the presence of anyone I am ignoring.

This fall I am again getting into the meat of rewriting a story, and that early morning hour is needed. Without it, I either never get to writing, or I sit down and don’t know how to stop. I lose all sense of time, caught up in an imaginary world of my own making…miss my lunch… miss my nap… Bad news. Writing from 6 to 7ish allows that special peace before then the flood of Human and Domestic Need necessarily drags me away from the imaginary to the real world. It works.

All my life I have I have been fairly lousy at managing time. And since it is just an imaginary thing anyway (as Ben Franklin’s rash action and sun dials prove), who cares? Except that everyone else in the whole world runs their lives according to this imaginary measure. Simply put, I am handicapped. One minute I am relaxed and swimming in time, and the next scampering down a vanishing sliver of pathway that becomes stepping stones over a rushing fiery river of lateness. Out of time and out of breath. Since I am now half a century old and still do not have any innate sense of time passing I do not expect to ever have one. My only hope is to create a kind of rhythm to my days, so that my rhythm tells me hey isn’t it about “time” you switched over from X to Y?  It can take me a while to create a new rhythm though, the in between is not pretty.

[This is probably how some Other People operate too, but since he doesn’t exist, never mind.]

So this year, as the peaceful dim summer 6am became the grim pitch black 6am, I saw old Ben’s time change concept with new and grateful eyes. Maybe he did know a thing or two, after all. Well, I’m grateful to him.


What was that??  isn’t that the sliding door to the kitchen–?!  Hey doggone it – what time is it??!

Rainy Hour at the Aquarium

Photo by Freya Simons

Toward the end of a very busy Memorial Day Weekend, Owen was getting bored.  Mom and dad were more than a little exhausted.  Not feeling too generous nor too creative.  Very likely, it would have been a long cloudy afternoon of breaking up plastic pots into bits and swatting mosquitoes for him, but Owen got lucky.

His sister Freya offered to take him with her and her boyfriend Keir to the Baltimore Aquarium for the afternoon.  I am still wowed and shaking my head at their generosity.  Perhaps they are, too.

“Mom, if you get a nap, it will all be worth it,” Freya said.  Worth her effort, I guess she meant.

Yup.  It was certainly worth it.  Dad and mom got naps.  And then, undeterred by rain that descended the very moment we headed out into the yard, we had a carefree hour planting herbs and vegetables, and got soaking wet in the downpour like goof balls.  Two and half  precious hours of unscheduled freedom later we were dry and dressed and driving up to Baltimore under grey skies to meet for supper and to liberate our benefactors.

Meanwhile Owen had been keeping busy.

The line to the aquarium was very long – plenty of other folks had the same idea for entertainment on a rainy afternoon of a holiday weekend.  But Owen doesn’t do standing still in line.  So to distract him Freya and Keir took him through the tents and market stalls and displays of the adjacent Middle Eastern Bazaar.  Very fast.  Lots of noises, sounds, images, and no cues for Owen as to why he was there or what he was supposed to do there.  As I understand it, Owen got busier.

They got back in line at the appointed time to learn that the tickets were $40 each!! (Owen treated).  In the end Owen, Freya, and Keir had only one hour to look at the fish before closing.  But I understand that Owen made efficient use of their time.  In an hour, they had enough time to see “everything” Freya said — except the dolphin show.

But they did see dolphins.  Freya said this was the one time on their outing when Owen calmed down. The cherubic photo she captured above may chronicle the most peaceful moments Owen spent all day.  In the dolphin tank.  Looking for Chaos, perhaps?

An expensive hour, but a precious afternoon.  By any measure.

We got them a good supper.

Keeping up with Owen – Baltimore Aquarium – photo by Freya Simons