Frost all over

White rime on the redwood deckboards.. enough to slide several feet on…yep. Our wimpy winter is here. This expanse between F-gham Palace and the stairs to Taj Mahovel begs to be marked up somehow. Only a few years from now, winter will be ‘falling season”, and unintended slips will scare the shit outta me, once the bones are brittled up. For the moment, though, they retain their bounce, and I leave a jagged pair of arcs …

Gallop downstairs to see if the newly applied bubble-wrap in the windows really kept the residual woodstove BTU’s inside the shack. A wall of warmth clouds my glasses. The cheap insulation works! We won’t be burning quite as much this winter, yay!!
The light coming in through dot patterned plastic is diffuse, and if anything, brighter…. as if the convexity of the bubbles ricochets more light indoors.

We’ve only a couple of hours to fabricate cheesy ‘presents’ (dig up ol’ wrapping paper, glue childishly-awful bows on top, barely tape the thing together and…presto. Simu-Elation of an earlier time when presents mattered so damn much, and being in fifth grade let you get away with bad wrapping).

We still like presents but can’t remember to shop for them. They tend to fall in our laps, and then we just hand them over regardless of time of year, when we find them.
Besides, who has the restraint to wait ’til winter?

But there are others to think of.

And an Other I barely noticed.

Down the street lives a kid I’ve watched grow into the kind of girl that walks home alone, thinking. High school students travel either in packs, or as loners here in Fairfax…I tend to think of the group-types as ….less clever. THis of course is a heinous bias. Might even just be justifying my own million solitary (rides) home from school. Her mom once told me that “Girl” is into fashion, used to keep a rat, didn’t ride a bike like her brother, or their dad the fireman. I had a thought: drag her out on a ride. Crumpled that thought up.
Burned it. Better to meet her on the fashion front, where I’m Miss Uninformed.
Learn a little.
Well, I never did.
THen…a couple years pass since her mom told me that Girl liked rats.
And yesterday a neatly wrapped, soft package with” to Jacquie” on a ribbon sat in the mailbox.
Kid’s name turns out to be Allison, and she has knitted me cashmere mittenettes, fingerless ones.
Varicolored blue/purple yarn.
I about died.
This demanded a response.

I piled three books into a red velvet purse I had lying about:
Fashion Statements by Frederica Postman and Bonnie Stone (an artist book),
“Amuse buch “, a velveteen clad chapbook I couldn’t wait to see published. I made Carol C. put it together, it’s on cycling for grownups, and lastly,
the L.L. Queen Catalogue( 2006), a very primitive version of an artist’s book by someone who has no sewing, biinding, printing or planning skills, and wants to surprise the talented book artist in the family. In it, I glued collages depicting every imagineable service (magic carpet=chauffeurage, ironing, catering weekly, massage, shopping) plus some outlandish Things (New Guinea tribal basketry–the towering humanoid ones), a crown for a true queen, a Tiffany tote –since we can’t afford what goes inside…et cetera.

Ran them down, handed them over while gushing about my new mitts.

“I can only loan these since they’re one-offs, but you might get a kick out of them…” and I ran off before I fell apart trying to find out what I’d done to deserve such largesse from a barely noticed neighbor.

Well there was that time, three months ago, when I was picking olives at midnight…and she was at the house I was collecting in front of…and the man o’house was getting ready to drive Girl home to Dogbark Ln. Three blocks –short blocks–away.

“YOU’RE going to DRIVE?” I exclaimed, looking up from the gutter and extinguishing the flashlight. Excuse me but there’s an obesity epidemic on, in the middle of a climate catastrophe (no suguar coating things here).


(The father of the family felt like he had to drive his sitter home to uphold standards of Good Neighborliness, etc.) It was a gorgeous moony night.

Oh wait it was a year ago, cos olives are only in winter… OK, backdate it a year. And thus it was that I walked Girl home, blabbing (actually mostly listening) about her interests, life, etc.

~ by jacquiephelan on December 25, 2007.

One Response to “Frost all over”

  1. Hey Jacquie! I just found your blog (linked to by Kent Peterson) and started reading. I wrote a blog entry about you several years ago on my own blog ( ), but I don’t think you were doing the blog thing back then. This is a great entry: it’s always special to connect with a neighbor, especially a young one. I had a very positive encounter with a neighbor kid recently and we ended up talking for nearly an hour about all sorts of subjects: bicycles, skateboards, drugs, school, parents, etc. It gave me a little bit of hope for the next generation, something I’m feeling a little short on these days.

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