An Exceptional Weekend – August 24, 2020

All things considered this past weekend was exceptional.

Weekends afford a relaxed start to the day. Not asleep but lying awake before the alarm worked up the nerve to rudely suggest daytime, tossing some ideas around, several unapproachable ‘problems’ let themselves be paired with reasonably plausible solutions.  Running the risk it was so far in advance of a decent time to be up and around, I snuck out of the bedroom, started the coffee, and fired-up the computer.  Quietly, ever so quietly.  Married folks understand.

Got those serendipitously clever ideas recorded in my e-to-do list.  Put a couple of them to work immediately.  With success.  Two more required a few hours’ work to complete, but every indication was they were on-the-money solution-wise. Everything else from the pre-alarm think-fest was long term but saved for recall not dependent upon my mental acuity.  Icing on the cake was that two plot snags are no more, thanks to early Sunday review.

First cup of coffee in hand, I glanced out my office window.  Not much dawn to work with.  A lot of overcast sky and obviously quite damp outside.  One of those mornings it’s not raining but it wouldn’t take much to convince it to give it a go.   No wind to speak of.  A Michigan kind of late September, early October Sunday morning.  Even though this is not Michigan.  A strange and interesting early Sunday morning.  Only a few hours later, I realized one of the reasons it was strange was the that it was not Sunday, but Saturday.

Later, I stumbled onto an artist who might be able to do illustrations for a children’s book I’ve been sitting on – completed – for ten years.  Hard at work at the computer, I took a break to answer the phone.  I do that occasionally when it rings.  I never answer it when it doesn’t ring; not much point in that.   Big little sis brought it up that she’d spent time with an artist friend of hers recently.  An artist?  Tell me more.  She did.

For the long-delayed book, I’m after a specific illustration style.  In ten years, I’ve talked concept with probably a dozen artists.  To date, they’ve all told me the style I’m looking for is something no one does any more, or they themselves can’t or won’t do it, or that what I want is not marketable.  What it is though, I strongly suspect, is that my asking for a specific style violates their sense of artistic freedom.  Or as a few have admitted, while simple, it’s a difficult style to execute effectively, and they simply can’t. 

Sis sent pictures of this artist’s work.  Not what I’m after.  However, good.  Very good.  So good I believe this artist could be the one after all these years to give me what I want.  Or failing that, perhaps arguing convincingly my ideas are hogwash, talented enough to illustrate this book in award-worthy style1.

As Saturday progressed, there were several episodes of “Life in Five Minute Segments.”  For example, I heard a thud upstairs.  Knowing the Boss was upstairs, I naturally investigated.  I am hearing-impaired; tossing questions from one room downstairs to an unknown location upstairs works well only one-way.  Answers attempting the return trip are garbled.  Leaving my desk and the gem about to roll off my fingertips into the keyboard and onto the screen, I walked to the bottom of the stairs and inquired…

“Everything okay?”

The Boss is a sharp cookie.  She responded, “Mbmfp lang uppen poz winnod ungly.”

Which, of course encouraged me to climb the stairs, find her in the back bedroom, arms and legs intact, and ask, “What did you say?” 

Trapped then upstairs, I was recruited to move that coffee table downstairs to make the next trip to the donation center.   Then, to move the secretary from the entertainment room to the guest master bedroom.  Friends, there is no seventeen-year-old kid kicking around this house.  Anything requiring grunt and strain requires and gets only me. 

Calling a neighbor to help was not an option.  Even if I were so inclined.  Even if Covid19 weren’t in play.  While I am long-of-tooth, I’m one of the more, um, robust men in the hood.  Most you would otherwise suppose likely candidates to lend a hand lifting bales and toting barges, many younger than me, suffer bad knees, bad backs, dicey hearts, psoriasis, and/or athlete’s foot.  I suspect but cannot publicly opine that several suffer only from low energy stores.  Severe enough cases, I judge, that a six pack of cold brews on the back deck after lifting and toting were complete wouldn’t be sufficient enticement.

In fairness, there is one old duff, across the street much older than me.  He’ll work my pants-off.  He gets it in his head now and again to invite me over to move something heavy, and he’s no sissy when he hears I’ve been challenged to move all the furniture in the house one room left and one room down.  For one or two items, I’m not calling him.  Hernia for one it was, moving that secretary.

It did, in fact rain Saturday.  That made lawn trimming iffy even for Sunday.  We’ve enough summer left that by afternoon the lawn was approachable.  I put it off Saturday, half hoping rain would return and make Sunday lawn work also iffy.  Foolishness, because inevitably, that lawn work will be unavoidable.  I enjoyed instead a delightful Saturday evening chat with the Boss on the back deck.2

Sunday, I did get to the lawn. It’s a three-part deal. Mowing, then edging the curb, driveway, tree-surrounds, and garden beds.  Act III is sweeping the street gutters clean of grass clippings.  Habit here in the hood is to use a gasoline-powered blower.  I watch some of the clowns here who manage only to rearrange clippings into the center of the street with their blowers.  At worst, they push clippings across the street into their neighbors’ gutters.  I can lean on a broom, save some fossil fuel, sweat a little longer, and feel smugly pleased with myself.  My clippings either go into a flowerbed or the tree-surrounds, not into the middle of the street or my neighbor’s yard.  Zero gasoline used.  Not yet where I can be whole-heartedly enviro-conscious, I’m trying.

Sunday afternoon I enjoyed some five-minute segment deck-sitting with the Boss.  Between segments, the Boss dispatched me to tend some late summer garden chores. Sunday dinner was grilled3 chicken rolled around Ricotta cheese and spinach.  Waiting on the chicken, we enjoyed a September-like breeze – cool and dry – and chatted more about our planned move to the country.   Our hummingbirds put on a show.  Their territorial displays suggested we’re still a few weeks away from their migratory attitude – when they argue less and share more.

After dinner, the Boss gave me a Covid19-inspired home haircut. The investment in quality clippers has already paid for itself.  Likely going to be the way it goes from here out.

Despite interruptions for spontaneous chores and things we’d like to have done but couldn’t for the current social situation, the weekend was productive and interesting. 

Yup.  A keeper.

PSA: The site menu structure is changed, cleaned-up.  The “Writings” dropdown doesn’t list so many entries the list flows off-page anymore.  If you want to browse “Short Stories” or “Life’s Like That” pieces for example, clicking the appropriate item subordinate to “Writing” gives you a list of entries for that group.  Each entry is a link, so you go directly from shopping the list to viewing.  If you pass through frequently, the “Updates” page also has links to ‘readable’ items but without respect to story grouping.  I will generally include new items in the “Updates” page to simplify checking for things you’ve not read.  

The artwork is “Don Quixote’s Entrance into the Sea.”  Not Don Quixote’s “Entrance into the Sea.”  Painted by a young sailor in the mid 1950’s who was not Don Quixote.  There is a most unusual story that goes with it.  That story, however, is not fiction.  Perhaps one day, I’ll write that story.  But then, that means a new tab on the homepage, “Nonfiction,” and a new folder on whatever machine I’m using then.  Sounds to me like a lot of work…

*1 Style.  Not looking for Suess or Shultz or Sendak.  Not looking for round-faced, bug-eyed waifs.  I’m particularly anti-anime.  Not looking for horror mag rejects, or pulpy superheroes.  Looking for quality evocative images.  My way or the highway.  Unless…

*2 There is no “front” deck.  The deck runs one-third the length of the back of the house.  Calling it the “back deck” is an unbreakable habit.  It does though, suggest the deck affords the Boss and I a semi-private getaway.  It does.

*3 Not directly on the grill.  That would be a bit difficult.  I have a grill-comfortable griddle that allows me to grill any number of menu items that don’t hold-up well on a grill or don’t like to be exposed to direct flame.  Kind of like using a pizza stone on the grill.  Same idea.

Published by spwilcen

Retired career IT software engineer, or as we were called in the old days, programmer, it's time to empty my file cabinet of all the "creative" writing accumulated over the years - toss most of it, salvage and publish what is worthwhile.

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