Wednesday, April 20, 2016
On Saturday we had an event at the perfume store where I work for a new brand inspired by vintage fragrances. Barbara Herman, the creator, writes about old perfumes in a blog and came out with an interesting book linking trends in perfume to specific social changes in the twentieth century. During a presentation at the event, Barbara mentioned Kouros by YSL and passed around scented blotters. She found inspiration in this fragrance because of its almost-unpleasant animalic funkiness - she argues that 'unsafe', dirty, dangerous scents all but disappeared in recent decades but champions their comeback. These complex, grown-up smells are challenging and glamorous.
Of course I know Kouros very well. I got a sample of it from a department store in the early 1980s. I would dab some on and then listen to the soundtrack of Cats the musical. I knew the songs very well. For me the smell and the Andrew Lloyd Weber melodies are inextricably linked.
Brennan told me that Cats was being revived. First in Paris and then on Broadway this fall. Yesterday the famous actor Taye Diggs was in our perfume store smelling sweet fragrances. I told him about the Cats revival. He told me how when he first moved to New York City in the 1980s he auditioned for the role of Rum Tum Tugger, the rebellious, Elvis-like rock and roll cat. I thought this was amazing. I told Taye how I used to to dab Kouros on to my 6th grade skin and sing and dance to Cats.
Brennan and I joked that we'd try out for the new cast of Cats. We decided that my pug Rosie would probably also try out. She doesn't like to be left out. Brennan texted me an image he created at work and said that Rosie had sent it to him. Apparently Rosie has decided to make her own musical. This image is completely hysterical.
Tonight I sat in my garden and drank two beers. Earlier in the day I bought a timer at Home Depot so that the string lights in the fig tree can illuminate every evening and make the space magical. While driving to Home Depot I listened to the Overture of Cats and remembered how in the actual stage play, the string lights in the set flickered perfectly in time to the music. As though the lighting director played the light switches like a musical instrument.
I sat back into the Adirondack chair and drank more beer admiring my string lights. I noticed two chemtrails in the sky illuminated by the full, jellicle moon.
Monday, April 11, 2016
After work yesterday my friend Rachel and I went for a run in Elysian Park. It was the third week in a row and I looked forward to it, so much so that when I discovered that I forgot to bring running shorts with me to work that morning, I stopped by Target and bought a new pair. The new shorts are dark gray, baggy and not something I would ever choose unless presented with few options. I also bought some outdoor string lights, the same kind Brennan has in his garden.
Rachel and I chatted through most of the three and a half mile route through a newly refreshed park - it had rained all weekend. I kept the tag on the shorts because I intend to return them. I might encounter problems when returning because I can't find the receipt. I keep all receipts - I have boxes full of them. It's odd that I can't find this one.
When I got home I started to string the new lights on the fig tree in the garden. Vito the cat was there and watched me for a short while. My mother came out of her house as the sun was going down. I asked her if she liked the lights. She laughed a little and said "It looks like Christmas! I love it". As it became darker outside the cedar fence next to the fig tree took on a brighter amber glow.
I picked Rob up from Union Station a bit after 10 pm. He just got in from Seattle and took the Flyaway bus from the airport. When I pulled into the driveway at home I pointed out the new feature of the garden. Rob came out of the car and walked towards the fig tree. "It's great! It looks like Christmas!"
Friday, April 1, 2016
I hope Vito comes to visit this morning. I've been in the habit of waking up early to get some work done in the garden before the sun becomes too hot - or simply come out with a cup of coffee and sit on one of the Adirondack chairs inspecting my work and checking on the new plants that recently got planted. Often Vito walks past or curls up under the Korean national flower a couple of feet away from where I'm sitting so that he can be involved without actually being involved.
Vito and his sister Lollipop were born in my garden over a year ago. Their mother just appeared one day out of the blue and gave birth to kittens. She nursed them, some of them didn't make it. Vito and Lollipop did. I started feeding the ginger cats everyday and they became my outdoor pets. Their mother absconded as quickly and mysteriously as she arrived.
Lollipop was hit by a car early Monday morning. I woke up to texts from Rob saying that he thinks he saw her on the road as he drove to work. My mouth dried up and I ran outside in my pajamas to check. I picked up her body, not looking at her head. I heard a neighbor say "Oh, they really got it....' as I carried her into my garden. I don't know why the neighbor said this. Maybe he was as shocked by the sight of a dead cat and didn't know how to express his condolences. Maybe he's a big idiot.
It was the first time I ever touched her. She was always such a small, shy cat. I laid Lollipop on the ground and dug a big hole under the Palo Verde tree. When her enterrement was complete I went inside the house and texted Brennan. I caught him before he left for work and he came by to check on me. I openly wept. I couldn't stop. We stood by Lollipop's grave and lit incense.
I don't know if Vito understands that his sister is gone. I'm sure he does in a cat way. I planted an orange rose bush and yellow flowers under the Palo Verde tree and called it Lollipop corner. Vito walks past without any special reverence.
I bought Vito a bunch of toys from the pet store on Tuesday. A felt chili pepper filled with catnip. A fake mouse that dangles from a string and squeaks. A pillow you can warm in the microwave and leave with your cat to use as a comforting pillow. Vito doesn't seem interested in any of them.
Yesterday when I came home from the nursery and planted more verbena bonariensis and white gaura, he brushed past my legs multiple times. He stayed with me the whole time until the job was complete.
He emerged from under the Korean national flower about two minutes ago. Walked past me then disappeared around the house. I will go back into the house now and fill my, now cold cup, with more coffee.
Here's Lollipop last week, sunbathing on my balcony.
Friday, March 25, 2016
This is how my garden looks this morning. I've been working on it on my days off for a few weeks now. It was my desire to make the plot of land separating my house from my mother's into a peaceful place where you could sip coffee in the morning and wine in the evening. Until several weeks ago it was a plot of pure ugliness. Here is a picture to demonstrate this point:
My mother stole an aloe plant from the neighbor's yard. She actually dug it up and transplanted into our ground. I yelled at her for this although I secretly knew that the neighbor would probably never notice because his garden is just as ugly as ours used to be.
I put off transforming the space because I knew I had to erect a fence to shield the view of the neighboring house. I've never built a fence before and didn't know how to begin. After discovering that Home Depot sold cedar fence boards I consulted a few youtube videos and learned how to build a fence.
I dug up the stolen aloe, potted it and placed it in my mother's back patio. The strip of earth next to the graveled area will have Veitch's blue globe thistle. I ordered the roots from a website and they arrived from Holland only a week later.
Among the thistle, the thin stalky limbs of verbena bonariensis will rise. Right now they are fragile shoots of pale green emerging from the small pouch-like pods of a seed starter kit.