Last night the trees were covered in such white snow, that it felt like I chanced upon a fantasy, a world like Narnia, say.
It is Neptune’s blizzard now, shaking yesterday’s snow off the limbs, scattering the snow sideways.
My neighbor’s shingled wall looks like it’s dusted with powdered sugar. The power comes and goes, like the women
and Michelangelo, and the wind howls and howls. Blizzards in the daytime are of course easier to take than at night,
when the snow offers serenity in moments of quiet. The cats are curled up, asleep, in separate corners; they have
been antsy with
each other, picking fights, and I blame the lack of fresh air ( drafts don’t count.)
But of course, drafts do count, and my novel is a mess, as I rethink so much of the dialogue ( needed?) and action
( necessary?). Piles of essays and stories and other work wait for my attention. I am dreaming of winter vacation
( December? January?) but Bird by Bird, these too will get done.
Another blizzard, 2015
The pots outside are capped like muffin-tops with snow. The walks are smooth. It really is beautiful.
Snow fell and vanished. Wind came and blew. In the midst of it all, my Aunt Janaki passed away at 83 years of age. I have known her all my life, in all of the important stages. She was a great believer in civil and individual rights. She worked tirelessly with an orphanage in Pondicherry, wrote plays performed on the radio, and played Carnatic violin. She carried her violin to the States and to Europe where she traveled by herself, and with a friend. She was the middle sister, and now only my mother and her brother, my beloved uncle remain. I loved my Aunt very much, and relied on her presence. She once told me I needed to be more generous to others, and she is right. Her generosity overflowed, which doesn’t mean she didn’t get annoyed or hurt or bothered. My mother’s family as my father’s family experienced loss too early and too unnecessarily. One thing that resulted on both sides was a sense of equanimity about the world, a sense of flexibility. I am still learning to be more generous, to others and to myself. I think it is an ongoing process. My Aunt gives me courage in this.She died peacefully, unexpectedly after getting over a recent illness. My beloved Elder-Uncle Subbaiah was napping with her after they had finished dinner, and my beloved Aunt died in her sleep, holding onto his hand.
Indira Ganesan. Mom at MoMa, 2014 (Painting: Andy Warhol, Cambell’s Soup Cans, 1962, courtesy of MoMA)
Matisse, Blue Nude, Creative CommonsHenri Matisse: The Cut-Outs
MATISSE: THE CUT-OUTS
THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NYC
October 12, 2014–February 10, 2015
Today, December 31, 2014, Matisse would have been 145 years old!
Last Saturday, a balmy day in the fifties, my sister-in-law shepherded our family to New York City, to see the Matisse exhibit at MoMa. Color, shape, and transformation in room after room. If you can, run to see!
The other floors offered treasures as well. Run and see these too, and best wishes for a healthy, happy New Year.
Detail, Charline von Heyl, Concetto Spaziale 2009
Hunting Collecection, MoMA
Tre Marie Panettone from Boston’s Salumeria Italiana
My friend Jenny keeps a blog called The Lore of the Garden, and through it I discovered the winter solstice is on its way. Today is the longest night, and after solstice, the nights slowly, incrementally become shorter. It gets a bit fuzzy in March because the sun starts setting sooner. According to the Gregorian Calendar, New Year is just around the corner.
One of the nicest New Year blog greetings came from Elissa Altman’s Poor Man’s Feast site with a list of wishes for her readers. I would add a wish for panetonne, introduced to me by my friend Rosie many years ago. Instantly, after tasting it, I was transported to my childhood and the sweet, fruit-filled buns that would arrive by bike from Srirangam’s only bakery. When I returned to India for a year of college, my eighteenth birthday was celebrated with an extraordinary fruitcake, the likes of which I have never tasted since. In France, it was the lovely slice of fruited pound cake served on the train in a hand-wheeled cart down the aisle which makes me nostalgic. Panetonne is like fruitcake and fruited pound-cake, but it is lighter, more brioche than pound.
Sweets for the solstice.
May your year be filled with light and strength. May you always proofread.
James Galway, 2014
I dug up the last of the dahlias, and tackled my first attempt at dividing and storing. The results were not pretty. A bucket full of rejected bulbs (thin, soft, shriveled) stood at my side while a paltry number of possibly productive tubers emerged for labeling. I am thinking I don’t have a storage space to keep them at the recommended 45-50 degrees F. I am thinking could I not be spending my time better? I am thinking I need better tools. After digging and dividing, my fingernails black with compost, for who wants to wear gloves when one is already in the thick of it, I leaned back, and swore to forgo this bit of alchemical puttering in the future. But I loved the way Hamari’s Accord spread its pointy pale yellow blooms, and the Edinburgh kept flowering.
Once again, I am uncertain where I will live in the fall, where I will write.
I distracted myself with bulbs last month. I devoured rare tulip catalogues which offered twelve and twenty-eight dollar specimens which would yield one perfect bloom the first season, and more the following. These are legacy bulbs. I let my pocketbook rule, and opted for handfuls of the lower-priced and popular choices. Intuitively, I wanted to root, lay a semblance of permanence on rented ground. For two years I resisted planting roses thinking I was a temporary boarder at best until I rescued three end of the year throw-aways. This fall, I bought an English Rose, David Austin’s James Galway, dreaming of Gertrude Jekyll and Constance Spry for the summer.
Now the garden will rest, unless I get restless and plant a few more bulbs. I will let it rest as it gathers its strength, with roots growing quietly.