Sunday, July 17, 2016

twisted humidity brings out a worm in a chestnut but the ice cubes are clean so an auspicious day (hic!)

I arrive at the farmers market just before eight on a clear cool Saturday morning. After walking Josie, I head over to pick up my tent. I hear Joni Mitchell singing “Twisted.” It is coming from Colleen’s van. Colleen is The Soap Lady, also known as Native Sister, and she is unloading her stuff. I sneak up behind her just in time to sing “ … and you know two heads are better than one … ” This gives her a start. But she is delighted. Of course I know the song, have since high school, it’s on Bette Midler’s first album, or is it her second?

I get my tent, have it and the four paint cans filled with cement, painted blue, in a garden cart, am wheeling it across the concrete to my spot on the other end of the Commons. But Colleen has restarted “Twisted.” Uh oh. Stop. Sing. Dance.

Humidity Stops the Clock
The other day, it was really humid. The clock stopped. It runs on a battery, so I figured the battery was dead, though usually it slows down first, when the battery’s about to go, but anyway it was three-thirty when I noticed the clock was dead at one-forty. I spun its hands around to three-thirty and waited to see what would happen. It was much too humid to do anything more.

The next day was a bit less humid, but not much, it rained most of the morning, and occasionally I would glance at the clock and it was always three-thirty. Then all of a sudden it was ten after four. So I spun the hands around to eleven-twenty and it’s been keeping time ever since.

The Clock. At Near to Six.

The Sublimity of Washing Ice Cubes
Most Saturdays Nora stops by the farmers market to visit her mother, who has a booth practically next to mine. Last year I didn’t pay much attention, but this year, now that she is two and a half, I find Nora quite interesting—for one, she knows what to do with a beeswax bowl.

The beeswax bowls (bowls made of beeswax) were a short-lived new item earlier this year. I continue to take them to market but do not display them. At market, I am subject to answering certain questions over and over—it goes with the territory, I do not mind—but I wasn’t expecting the one I heard, over and over, about the bowls. It went like this: “What would I do with it?” My initial, off-the-cuff answer was: “Eat your popcorn from it. Or your cereal.” And unfortunately what often happens is that once I answer, I repeat the same answer over and over, like Pavlov’s dog, and I so quickly tired of hearing about that stupid popcorn and cereal that I stopped displaying the beeswax bowls.

For a while I continued to display a floating candle in a beeswax bowl full of water. I have been doing this for years, previously using a ceramic bowl, and for years this has drawn the question: “Why is there a candle in the water?” The answer: “To show that the floaters float.” Which helps to sell the floaters. But, this year, out of nowhere, I answered: “It’s a marketing ploy.” So, for now, I have removed the beeswax bowl of water with a floating candle from the table.

But, before I completely nixed the bowls, the entire bowl thing was redeemed as one day, after market, Nora began washing ice cubes in a bowl. I had taken the bowl off my table and put it on the low brick wall that runs behind my booth, removing the candle but not the water, and soon, without hesitation, Nora was washing ice cubes in it.

“Good job,” I told her, and silently thanked whomever for this one person who knew without question what to do with a beeswax bowl.

The Original Beeswax Bowl.

You Can’t Go Home Again
“You Can’t Go Home Again” by Thomas Wolfe is a long book—743 pages—and as far as I can tell there is not much plot but this: A young man named George Webber is bound and determined to learn about men and humanity and writing—get at something about men and humanity and writing—and our third person narrator is going to describe for us men and humanity and writing about men and humanity and about George Webber writing about men and humanity and trying to get at men and humanity and writing until … I don’t know. I’m only on page 508. But I’m lovin’ it. It’s dated, to be sure, reflects its time, the nineteen-twenties and thirties, and surely there is something universal about it all but also I would say, if I may, at times it seems awfully narrow, but, after all, in a way, we all have narrow perspectives, so that becomes part of it, and mostly the way in which this book is written and layered feels rich and fascinating. There are many quotable passages, but my favorite line so far, because it made me laugh, is:
She looked at him for a long moment as one might look at a large worm within the core of a chestnut that one had hoped was sound.
An Auspicious Day
1. I look up and my market table is surrounded by young women from South Korea. They are snapping pictures. Silently I admire the hat that one of them wears. She buys candles and a rag flag.

2. A young man buys several candles. He did this too a few weeks ago. A repeat customer! But the story is his dog ate the previous batch, every bit of every candle. I should put out a warning: DOGS EAT BEESWAX. Later it struck me—he bought two charmers, the candles with the small silver charms inside. Where are the previous charms? Inside the dog? Or … Wish I’d thought to ask.

3. Having moved on from typed-by-hand books to printed books, I expand and upgrade my book display using an old hive box that I must have gotten from my beekeeping friend and candle mentor several years ago. I sell a copy of “Seven Poems for Dogs.” It’s true—small things make me happy.

The Hiccup Song
Colleen asked if I had seen the video of Annie Ross singing “Twisted.” I had not, so I found it. We’re at something like a cocktail party in 1959, some comments on the video say it’s a clip from a TV show called Playboy’s Penthouse, and it reminds me of a Rob and Laura Petrie party, as on the The Dick Van Dyke Show, but with the Count—Count Basie!—on piano, and Tony Bennett smiling fireside. After “Twisted,” Ross sings (and hiccups) “Everyday I Have the Blues” with Lambert and Hendricks—and Joe Williams! Hey Joe! So grab a drink and a smoke, or a coffee and donut, or tea and toast, and relax, take a few minutes—

And it’s kind of like being at a ballgame. The video is best watched through to The End.