Friday, June 29, 2018

The Color Purple

 What comes to mind? 
A hillside covered in heather?
A famous book?
A poem by Jenny Joseph?
Purple cloths enshrouding statues at church during Lent? The good lord, his holy mother and all the saints hidden from view 'til Easter morning?
Royal robes?
African violets?
A certain notorious cartoon dinosaur?

When we lived in Belgium I had a good friend, from Bulgaria. Julia and I communicated in a mixture of her excellent, and my very bad, French, my good and her very bad English, lots of sign language and helpless laughter. We got together about once a month and went exploring in Brussels. One day we happened into a district where many of the store fronts had scantily clad ladies in the windows, not mannequins but the real thing, bathed in lurid blue light. Prostitutes, in a word. Prostitution is legal in Belgium. The conversation wandered down this path and Julia told me that, in her country, purple was the color of prostitution. On subsequent trips to town with Julia I was careful not to wear purple.

It's almost twenty years since we returned from Belgium. I have, unfortunately, lost touch with Julia, but I've never forgotten that little tidbit. Whenever I'm thinking of wearing anything purple I align it with this information in my head and wonder if wearing it means I'll be giving off wanton hussy vibes. My tastes in no other way run to wanton hussy. In my limited experience and understanding, wanton hussies would be the ladies teetering around in the six inch stilettoes and purple sequined gowns with high rise slits up the side and plunging necklines, revealing generous (or artificially enhanced) endowments and heavy cleavage; brassy blonde, bouffant hairdos, heavily mascared eyes, rouged cheeks, fire-engine red (or even purple) lipstick on their botoxed lips. 
I think I'm safe.
Besides,  I'm not living in Bulgaria, and why should I not wear purple since it is one of the colors that goes best with white hair?

Not that I'd ever wear real purple. I'd prefer one of its more muted relatives, lavender, for instance. Remember the movie "Ladies in Lavender?" Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, two of my favorite actresses, hardly harlots.

So this week I went shopping for a new suitcase, having donated my old, shabby black one with the wonky wheels to a charity shop after our last trip anywhere, just to force myself to buy a new one for the next trip which is next week. There were too many choices. Many I eliminated on sight as being too big, too small, too garish, too dull. I got it down to two but could not decide.  I asked the OC to come into the store and help me choose. He has a low to zero level of tolerance for wandering around stores. His preferred method of shopping involves sitting at his computer and clicking on 'submit.' Mission accomplished.
 As for me - I have to feel and touch. So it was at great personal sacrifice that he came in to assist me.

 I introduced him to the finalists. On the one hand a Samsonite, greyish, the right size, sturdy; on the other a Sharper Image, black, light-weight (a plus - who wants to lug a dead weight around an airport?) expandable (very attractive given my packing skills, or lack thereof) and black with unfortunate orange trim (I dislike orange.) The OC circled them, checked the wheels and pointed to the black-with-awful-orange-trim as it had 360 degree turning wheels. His work was done. His eyes had already started to glaze over as he wandered off, leaving me still dithering. With a distinct lack of enthusiasm, I choose the Sharper Image, black with awful orange trim, but easy maneuverability.
Glumly proceeding to check-out, I suddenly saw it! The one I instantly knew had my name on it, and - are you ready? It was purple! Well, maybe not exactly, more of an eggplant-y color, perfect size, similar wheels.
"What do you think of this one?" I asked the OC as he re-joined me.

"Why would you want that one?"

"It's a much nicer color, " I said wistfully, knowing full well my argument was weak.

" But you always put something colorful on the handle anyway". He was not as enchanted as I. 

Maybe it's a male thing. Dithering is frowned upon. Make a decision and stick with it.
 I should have dug in my heels. Instead,
I brought the wrong suitcase home. I put it on the floor by the bed where I could begin to gradually pack. It's only a suitcase, I thought. The world won't end. But still I didn't like it. I glared at it. I put nothing in it.

 You should've got the purple one, I told myself. How many more suitcases are you going to buy in this lifetime (especially after a recent birthday with multiple zeroes - one for each decade). It glared brazenly back, the ugly trim glowing orangely  - you're stuck with me now!

On the other hand 'it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind!' I don't know who said it but I like them already. This morning I exchanged black and orange for purple. Well, eggplant. It's sitting by the bed, smiling. Fill me up, it seems to be saying. Nothing harlotty about it.
 I think we're going to travel well together -
into the sunset.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Into the Brambles

*Dear patient reader, I have no idea how to fix the inconsistencies in the print in this post. Can only suggest you read it in bright light.

"Maybe you could pick the blackberries while I mow the grass?" the OC suggested.

 "You should wear the wellies though so's not to tear up your legs."

"The wellies" are an ancient leftover from a former life (Montana, I think). They have been languishing for years, undisturbed, in a quiet corner of the garage. Having assured myself that no spiders had set up housekeeping therein, I donned the wellies which are a faded shade of olive green, not to mention three sizes too large, and one of the OC's most battered garden hats, in a matching, equally faded green. One can't be too careful - those style police can jump out from the most unexpected places. Best to give them nothing to write me up about. Grabbing gloves and a bowl I was ready to go where no husband is foolish enough to go.....

Into the brambles.

Our blackberry patch is a small operation, planted and tended mostly by Mother Nature, harvested by us, the birds and a variety of bramble-immune critters. Including, but not limited to, those that live in here - above left.

Winter lingered long this year. Pineapple plants withered; the moringa tree brownly expired; banana plants died (we thought). The blueberries loved having a cold spell. They flowered and set abundant fruit, but life goes on. Birds have to eat, and they did - every last berry. Then came the rain, lots of it and, as the temperatures rose, everything went into hyper-growth and re-birth. Brand new pineapple babies rose from their parents' ashes. New leaves, tightly furled, pushed skyward like pencils from the presumed-dead banana plants. Sunshine came on the heels of the rain and the moringa's roots sent up shoots that are now taller than me. And I'm no midget.

Mother Nature laughs when we try to grow tomatoes in our sandy soil. When I first saw tiny tomato plants popping up on the compost I was eager to dig them up, pot them and lavish them with TLC. Not so fast, said MN in my ear, they like it there. All those kitchen scraps, potato peels and coffee grounds, all that stuff the OC amended the compost with - can't you see they're perfectly happy right where I put them?
And since it's not nice to fool with mother nature I left them there and now we have these little beauties, right there on the compost pile.

I've heard that bears like berries. Venturing further into the thicket I saw depressions there where bears might well have rested after a nice tummy-full of our (well, Mother Nature's) berries. True, I've never seen bears in or near our garden, but, less than a mile from here there's a sign warning motorists to watch for bears! So, it's not such a stretch. That said, you'll be the first to know if I ever do see a bear wandering through our brambles.

But, back to berry-picking. I found myself putting all that yoga to practical use. The easy pickings were around the edges, but back among the thorns where the fattest and juiciest berries glistened, just out of reach, all those forward folds, half moons, dancers' and warrior poses suddenly became extremely useful. "Relax into the pose," we constantly hear at yoga. All very well in the studio which is thorn-free, not such a great idea precariously balanced on top of the compost heap, reaching for a tantalizing blackberry jewel. Unless you want to land face down in the brambles and lose a hard-won bowl of berries. In which case relax away.

That was not what I wanted. What I wanted was the greatest number of berries for the least amount of blood.

 Finished at last. Soaked through and bristling with tiny thorns in spite of my best efforts to avoid them, me and the outsized wellies plodded towards the house. Out of the wellies, into the  blissful cool, out of thorn-riddled clothing, into dry. Eventually I'll have to wash my haul and add them to the growing stash in the freezer.

 And figure out how to make blackberry jam.

But first - down on the bedroom floor for savasana, my favourite yoga pose. And this time, you'd better believe, I'll have no trouble relaxing into it.