Wednesday, March 22, 2023

An Imperial Day Out

Here it is--the switch from maroon to sage.  It is now officially Spring.  I didn't make that bed, of course.  Once every two weeks, the bed looks made.  The rest of the time, it looks like somebody pulled up the covers.  But I am not an active sleeper most nights.  Long ago, I read a book by a boy who ran away from home in Africa who learned not to roll over in his sleep in the bush as during the night poisonous snakes would curl up beside him for the warmth.  I do not roll.  I twirl.  Consequently, the bed covers stay pretty tight.  

Another piece of the puzzle. 

More evidence of Spring.  The first cocoon.  I found this in the garden yesterday while watching it grow.  Little Chrissy has been at work.  I will watch it transform over the coming days.  I forget how long the transformation takes.  By gosh--it just occurred to me that I could Google that!  The last time I actually saw one hatch was by phone.  Ili babysat the thing all day and sent me videos while I was at work.  That was the birth of Little Chrissy.  

Two days ago, I saw the first hummingbird come to feed on the new garden.  It was no bigger than your thumb.  Until I started a garden, I had never seen a hummingbird in my own state.  When I talk to people, most haven't, either.  The garden is a real hotbed of wonder.  

The neighbor's cat has found the catnip I planted in a pot.  He put his head in and rubbed it all around.  I am thinking I will want to put some in the ground.  I say that now, but I don't really want to attract all the cats in the neighborhood.  It is, however, fun to watch nature work.  

I took a chance on my knee yesterday and went out like a normal person might.  It was, at least, how I'd hoped to live when I retired, how I hoped to live pre-Covid. I would go places, take pictures, write. . . .  And so after a brief gym visit (I'm still not 100% over whatever the hell thing I've had, nor is my gym bro), I showered, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door.  I went to lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant on the outskirts of Gotham that I used to visit quite often after my divorce.  I haven't been there since.  I haven't really eaten at any Asian restaurants other than a couple Thai places since I took a trip to China.  But what the hell, I thought, it's time to get started.  I would do a little pre-noose Bourdain.

You are either laughing or bored by now.  "His big adventure was going to a Viet restaurant?"  

That's it, though. That is correct.  I parked on the highway a few blocks away, grabbed my camera, and slithered out the door as traffic whizzed by inches away.  Once on the sidewalk--click, click--I started having fun.  

The inside of the restaurant had changed in the twenty-some years since I'd been there, more pre-fab modern.  The dining room was packed.  80% of the customers were Asian, and the waiters and hostesses spoke to them in high-pitched vowel sounds ending most often in "g"s.  A boy brought me a menu that listed about a hundred items, laminated page after laminated page.  I settled on a bowl of beef pho and ordered a Coca Cola, something I rarely drink.  

I was at a table facing the room, my back against the window facing the highway.  To my right was a family, a father, mother, and two daughters aged approximately 12 and 16.  The youngest girl coughed a few times in my direction, and when I looked at her, she threw me daggers meant to intimidate.  I almost said, "Cough on your father you little shit," but caught myself with a giggle.  She continued with the sour face of defiance.  The father spoke in Vietnamese, but the little girl spoke Valley Girl.  I decided to be entertained.  My Leica sat on the dining table, and I wanted to take a photo, but of course. . . . 

My meal came, a bowl of bone broth and a couple strips of beef loin with what was described as "joint" which turned out to be a hunk of fatty connective tissue I assume was only for flavor and not for eating.  The main edible in the bowl, of course, was a mass of rice noodles.  They brought a tray of bean sprouts and mint leaves for me to add.  I looked around the restaurant to see what others were having.  Most were eating out of the same deep white bowl as I, but per usual, I felt I was given something less than what they had.  I always suspect them of having more ingredients.  

As I ate, I watched the room.  Most of the families looked like the ones I grew up with in clothing and demeanor, worn out, oversized t-shirts, cheap jeans from an indoor flea market, and bad "standard" haircuts.  There were lots of children in the families, but scattered around were some "better" dressed couples, the women with tacky Bebe shirts that sparkled topped with meretricious jackets, wearing black slacks and sequined sandals, dangling earrings, and obvious makeup.  Yes, I thought, these were Bourdain's people.  Audiences loved to watch him praise the delicate flavors of Vietnamese dishes while sitting in cheap plastic chairs while men in t-shirts and pedal pushers brought him dishes.  Bourdain played "man of the people," but it was for his Imperial audience ensconced on their couches at home.  

The pho was o.k. but not great.  Still, bone broth, you know?  Supposed to be good for you.  I had been told that this restaurant sold bone broth for five dollars a quart, but I forgot to ask.  Maybe they spend hours boiling bones in the back, but I had a sneaking suspicion that there was some store bought broth added, too.  

Back on the street, I decided to walk with my camera for awhile as I used to.  I had a slight limp but the pain was much less than it had been a couple weeks ago, so I decided to push it.  I hadn't gone half a mile, though, before the limp became more profound and my stride a couple inches shorter.  I decided that I should try to make my way back to the car, so I turned up a street that would take me to the highway.  

As I got nearer, I came upon a tall man hauling pebbles in a wheelbarrow.  He stood up straight when he saw me and said hello to which I hailed him a hello back.  Then he said my name.  I had a strange but distant recognition of his face.  Where did I know him from?  When?  I told him that it was good to see him, but I couldn't place him for my life.  Perhaps, I thought, I knew him from when I played in the band so many years ago.  We chatted and he explained in detail that he was building his lovely pebble-covered courtyard.  I wished him well and turned the corner toward my car.  Then I realized where I was.  It was a metaphysical bookstore that sold mystical sundries, tarot cards, magic rocks. . . whatever.  It has been around since I was a teen, set back off the highway in a neighborhood without much signage.  You'd need to know your way to find it.  How it has survived so long is a metaphysical mystery in itself.  

But you know the Wicca.  No?  Well, I do.  I'll tell you. 

I had sent that photo of the cocoon to some of my friends who also have butterfly gardens.  One is learning to be an herbalist.  She takes classes.  She has become a certified yoga instructor, and she has gotten a certificate in reiki, too.  But she is going deeper.  She is the one who has made me the poppy juice to help me sleep.  She is growing her own medical (and magical) herbs now, and told me she had gone into the woods for a three day retreat.  

"Full bruja," I said.  

"Yes," she beamed.  

"I'll have to go back and read up on my Hawthorne," I told her.  I called her "Goodie" in reference to the witch in "Young Goodman Brown."  

"Was it real, or was it imagined?  No matter."

"Don't forget, though. . . the ribbons!"

You'll have to go and read the story if you are unfamiliar.  But remember, the suspicion that other people are evil-doers comes from within, and it will make you bitter.  

Back at the car, I lamented not having taken the fellow with the wheelbarrow's photo.  I am going to have to quit being so shy if I am going to go about with a camera.  Someday, though, I will tell you about the various encounters I've had in the street that have made me tenuous about it all. 

Someday.  Not today.  I took two Advil PMs last night and woke up very late.  The day is getting away from me quickly, and I have a date with my beautician this afternoon.  We are going to change my hair a bit today.  Scary.  I will not be so terribly blond as I am now.  She sent me this picture.  Maybe I am going the full Johnny.  I don't know.  


(What Would Johnny Depp Do?)

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