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small domestic pleasures

I finally sent in Phase 2 of this project last night at about 8:30. I've been going so hard and so long on it that I tottered around today like one recovering from an illness. I am in dread that I'll be called any minute to discuss Phase 3, but meanwhile, I float in a sea of small domestic pleasures. Here are a few:

Several days ago I was sent a rugulach from Wolferman's, in a gold tin box, with no note. I only know of two people who are aware of my liking for Wolferman's, and both deny sending it. It is a mystery rugulach. But it is a delicious mystery rugulach, and I've been having a few pieces each morning with Williams Sonoma hot chocolate -- made not of powder, but of chocolate shavings, meant to be whisked into milk. I have a carton of peppermint and a carton of salted caramel, and I've been luxuriating in the latter, pouring it into one of the small Clarice Cliff cups that I designate as a "winter cup."


Before or after breakfast I usually take the dogs on a long walk, down and up the Hill of Verticality. On Christmas Eve, as I passed the house of the retired schoolteacher down the way, she suggested we bundle up all our dogs into her car and take them to the park, and so we did. In LA, the climate never reaches winter; the most you can expect is late fall, the equivalent of what on the east coast would be a late November day. I looked up into branches of ragged red leaves against a blue sky.

On the way back, as we swung around a curve on the Hill of Verticality, we passed the house of the man who moved in a year and a half ago and put up a tall fence that cut off the view of the schoolteacher and cut off the deer from access to their trail around the canyons. "Fie on you," said the schoolteacher, with the air of a ritual. I asked, "Do you say that every time?" "Yes I do," she said firmly.

That evening, as I continued working on my project, I looked up to see two enormous raccoons lumbering along my deck past the French doors. Another enormous raccoon followed a moment later. There may have been more I didn't see. I began to understand why my gardener keeps saying my plants are being devoured.

Then, on Christmas Day, I took the dogs out for their walk once again. This time my closer neighbors suggested we take all our various dogs to the same park. So we did, Harry and Gracie alongside two big standard poodles and one large and disobedient golden doodle.

You may recall that in my last post I described taking in a stray pit bull puppy. The owner, John, appeared the night of Christmas Eve with a bottle of huckleberry-flavored vodka. I gave him a rope bone for the puppy. Harry and Gracie were a bit puzzled by the whole experience -- dogs do not like their routines thrown off, and they're jealous, just like kids -- and something about it made Gracie reach for her personal best; for after nearly a year she used the dog bathroom twice that night. And once the next morning when I was late getting up.

It's too early to know if this means anything -- sadly, she's quite capable of forgetting about it entirely once again. There's a reason I named her after Gracie Allan. But it was a holiday delight as far as I was concerned. Here's Gracie on the deck today, walking toward me because I'd dropped to one knee for the picture. The jade plant behind her is covered with clusters of white stars, as it is every December.


I will add that it took her a year to not be freaked out by the burrow bed enough to figure out how to use it -- now she makes free with it all the time:


When I called my mother on Christmas Day, my brother answered the phone, and for the first time in his life asked me how I was. He made my life torment when we were growing up, and had inner acres of anger for much of the world -- but time has mellowed him; time, and perhaps the girlfriend he had for a while, before she died, and the dog he inherited and takes wondrous care of. My mother, for her part, now says "I love you" loudly and firmly before she hangs up, something she didn't do before. I sometimes think there's an evolution of human emotion in one's lifetime that works opposite to entropy: that as our bodies and worlds are falling apart, our emotions clarify and strengthen.

Other things I take pleasure in (this would be easier if I could embed pictures, but I don't know how, and I gather some people find it annoying):

The bellhop monkey on a scooter on my bookcase. I inherited this from the late fellow who lived in the house at the foot of my driveway, who died a few months ago and who ran the Griffith Park carousel. His house was filled with delightful objects, now dispersed to the winds. I think of him every time my gaze lights on the monkey. (I also got some ancient cameras from his collection, and use them as bookends.)


I found a cover for my Kindle Fire that I absolutely adore! Soft, soft, two-toned leather with a typewriter etched on it. Next to it is a book that was a Christmas gift, which delights me in how well someone knew me:


This next picture is a box of pleasures, of course, first because Harry is in it; because the purple stocking on the mantel, another gift, says "Harry and Grace"; because of the toucan fellow on my coffeetable, found in a small shop in Canada; because of the book of Vivian Maier photographs that recently arrived from Amazon. (And because there will apparently be an exhibition of Vivian Maier photos in LA in January.)


The winter days are clear and full of light.


And speaking of boxes, I've found that Christmas treat, A Box of Delights, available on YouTube, at least until someone makes them take it down.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 28th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
Hasn't she? And she's even more sweet -- she loves to be loved.
Dec. 27th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
So refreshing to visit your aerie, if only virtually. All that greenery and peace! I know it's not so peaceful as all that in person, but from the clutter and chill of New York, it looks like paradise.
Dec. 28th, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
It can be peaceful here, though I'm afraid for only short periods of time. As of yesterday afternoon, for instance, the Doom of This Damned Project has taken hold once more, and the deadline klaxons are sounding.
Dec. 27th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
Harry looks very fluffy and cute in the living room! What a lovely domestic break from the project.
Dec. 28th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
Harry is like fine decor! If only home catalogues sold Harrys for every room. I'm sure he would suit most styles -- Harry by a stone fireplace in Midcentury Modern, Harry on a blue-and-white pillow in French Country...
Dec. 28th, 2011 12:38 am (UTC)
Oooh I love the kindle cover? Do you have an online link to it by any chance?
Dec. 28th, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC)
I got it from this page:


From what I can tell, it seems better suited to a Fire than the regular Kindle. A review I read somewhere said that one of the grips that hold the Kindle in place covered up a button on the regular Kindle. It works fine with my Fire.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
I sometimes think there's an evolution of human emotion in one's lifetime that works opposite to entropy: that as our bodies and worlds are falling apart, our emotions clarify and strengthen.

A lovely thought. I hope so.

Thank you for posting. I enjoyed this and the images very much.

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )