Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Twenty years after starting to sew my own pants, I took the unprecedented action of ironing them, inspired by being at the soup kitchen, where I got to wondering if the guests thought I was purposely wearing crappy clothes because I regard it as a dirty place or them as not worth wearing reputable garments for, and after I saw a guest whose slacks and shirt (both!) had been carefully pressed—he looked great—I was shamed into extracting the ironing board and iron from the closet, normally only used to press fabric before it is fashioned into baggy cotton pants and not thereafter.

It took 15 minutes to iron the first pair, and since a biweekly load of laundry usually involves ten pairs of pants (mostly green), this would be two and a half hours of ironing, which is out of the question. But the next several pairs took just seven minutes apiece as my technique improved, so this is probably doable, and I must admit these pants look better ironed. The final hurdle is the temptation now to reduce the ironing chore by making one pair of pants last for two weeks.


One evening early in August I got home from Howie’s to find a phone message from my cousin, whom I hadn’t spoken with in perhaps 20 years. She said she was calling to say my uncle was—here of course I feared she was going to say he had died, but it was that he was in the hospital with a burst appendix and had asked her to let me and Dad know. She and I ended up having a nice long chat. She’s a real Texan with an actual Texas accent. She often says, in an emphatic way that makes me smile to recall, “Gotcha,” to indicate she has understood whatever you said. Oh, it turned out they were wrong about my uncle’s appendix having burst. They were able to do an appendectomy before that happened.

The next day I had another nice long chat, this time with my uncle’s fiancĂ©e, whom I’d never talked to before. She sent me a photo of herself in which her eyes are huge and childlike, as if regarding some wondrous sight. She is an artist with a sweet smile. I’m now angling for an invitation to the wedding.


Another day I became ambitious and put my stereo receiver, turntable, tape deck, and speakers in my huge walk-in closet, along with my musical keyboard, stand and bench. The main room looked barren and empty at first, but what was remaining was what I actually use: bed, desk (a table), computer, bookshelf, reading chair, meditation chair, desk chair. To replace the speakers, I ordered what I thought was a small pair that could attach directly to my iMac—I decided I couldn’t wait until I inherit my mother’s fabulous-looking and -sounding Klipsch speakers.

Usually I get bogged down in a lot of fretting about the details of a possible acquisition, but this time I just went to Amazon, entered “computer speakers,” and bought something near the top of the page. It took 30 seconds. However, I was slightly taken aback when an enormous, quite heavy box arrived. The two speakers themselves are small and nice-looking, but the subwoofer is a behemoth relative to what I was picturing. It would fit on the floor under my desk, but I’m scared of the reaction of my downstairs neighbors, so it’s on my desk. It’s darn near as big as the two old speakers put together, but since the turntable and receiver are tucked away, there’s been a substantial gain in available desk space. Now there’s a free end of the desk I can use as a place to eat! (Where did I eat before? Sitting in my reading chair with my legs draped over one arm.)


Also this month Carol Joy came to town from Novato and we went to the Asian Art Museum to see “Gorgeous,” a splendid collection of conventionally and unconventionally beautiful things. It included a Jeff Koons sculpture of Michael Jackson and his chimp, a Marcel Duchamp urinal, a John Currin painting, a Robert Mapplethorpe photo of a naked guy, a gorgeous (sorry!) clear Lucite chair with red plastic roses embedded in it, and much else, but not an overwhelming amount of it. The exhibition fills four non-enormous galleries, so it can easily be seen in an hour or so, if you’re not compelled to read all the explanatory notes (which I am not). It was probably the most satisfying art museum experience of my entire life.

One of my favorite things was a “wall” made out of long strands of gold-colored beads. You could walk through it or riffle it with your fingers or just watch its mesmerizing movements in the gentle ambient breezes, a golden wind with 24-karat stars appearing and disappearing. There was also a particularly good thing made out of some mirrors and a pile of dirt.

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