tall tales in Staunton
Thursday, November 19 2020
Powerful took a bus into New York City today to attend a wake for someone. He would be spending the night down there. It's nice to have him around, but it's also nice to briefly return to the ancien régime of just Gretchen and me, much like when it's just Gretchen and me, it's nice when it's just me by myself.
It was another unpleasantly cold day, and the only outdoor activity I undertook was splitting some wood from the salvage pile in front of the garage.
At around 6:00pm, my cousin Diedre called me from her mother's house to tell me the latest news about my mother down south of Staunton, Virginia. She'd recently called her twin sister Barbara (Diedre's mother) and told what Barbara described as a "tall tale." By this she meant a dementia-related hallucination, perhaps combined with elements of reality. In this case, the story was that a group of people, all of whom were wearing boxes on their heads, had come to her house. Among those people were Gretchen and me. She'd called the cops, she said, and the box-headed people had left. That was pretty much the only news to report, though Barbara kept rambling, not letting me respond, until Diedre told her give me a chance to reply.
This evening Gretchen participated in a Zoom-based presentation of her poetry. Prior to that, I helped her set up her office computer so the background with be a Turkish tapestry and a Dana Ellen painting instead of a side entrance into our kitchen; this required rotating her monitor, webcam, keyboard, and mouse ninety degrees on her desk. Gretchen was actually second-billing to another poet, and her poetry was accompanied with slides of animal art from three different artists. It included the recent painting I'd done of a tilapia. Zoom presentations are different from actual conferences, since the participants are all concealed and all that they see are the presenters (in this case: Gretchen, the other poet, and a host). I found the weird intimacy to a presenter without an audience to be surprisingly alienating. This is similar to what I used to feel early in the pandemic when I watched Stephen Colbert without an audience, though at this point Colbert has adapted to the new pandemic reality, and he's almost as funny without an audience as he used to be with one.
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