The Help

I did a massage on an old client of mine, someone who’s been coming for oh the last ten years at least, and yesterday I saw his wife, a university professor (Shakespeare, women’s studies), who’s been a regular for more like twenty-five. She retired, and he did too more or less, and moved to the Left Coast, but they come through now and then, and book me.

He had run into traffic, and was late for a dinner date with two other regular clients (gay spouses, if this state will ever let em get married) and another couple, I saw the wife a few times. Two announcers on the local classical station, a theatrical director.

I do get to the Washington Shakespeare Theater, when I can afford it, and the Folger Library performances. My classical library bends the floorboards of my living room, never you mind the henscratched manuscripts of the two operas I haven’t quite got the chops to finish, but the John Donne setting is a killer, trust me, and my experience with publishing my own books was damn useful to the theatrical director when she decided to do the same thing with her poetic juvenilia. She even gave me a bottle of Laphroiag.

No one ever asks the help to dinner. Not even after twenty-five years.

I get paid, so I probably shouldn’t be bitter, but I am anyway, and fuck everyone.

First Bunny!!!

Now it is truly Spring in the Tidewater.


The little fellow was closer to the window when I spotted him (?), but this is rather the best shot that I got. By the time I got the windage he was right spang in the middle of the thyme bed.

People debate like crazy why it is that rabbits have become identified with Easter and April. Only an academic who never looks out the window would sweat ink over that.


They drive my gardener daft (and yes, David is back, but about that later). I love them. We both belong to an older world, and fear, as C. S. Lewis did, “a Ministry gassing the little holes in which we dwell.”

Thrive, little guy.



Heaven And Earth


Grainy, because it’s just a little point and shoot and I had to zoom to China. But oh, the first moon of Spring edging toward full and Splinter the cherry beginning to bloom.

Not great art or anything. Just glad it isn’t winter any more.


“Your cat is a dick,” said the Cute Engineer.

He had been fixing eggs, after a pleasant morning tearing up the gym. The younger pair of cats often enjoy an outing on the glassed-in porch at that hour, just outside the kitchen.

“Agatha was lying in the really good sunbeam by the water dish? And Torvald came along and touched noses with her, that thing that’s so cute when you see it in a cat photo on the Internet. And then he bopped her with his paw. And she bopped back and rolled over on her back. And he bit her on the chest and she ran off to the other end of the porch, and he’s lying in the sunbeam now.”


This is the second time he’s done this. He really is a bit of a barbarian. Torvald = “he who can conquer Thor,” a Norse kenning referring to Wotan (“the head god and a crashing bore,” according to Anna Russell); Einar = “battle leader”; Magnussen = “son of the greatest.” I may have made the mixture too rich and it has gone to his head. He seems to have gotten way too big for his britches, which, given that he is a Maine Coon (well, mostly), is saying something. Maine Coons are probably related to Norwegian Forest Cats so I thought he needed a Scandihoovian name but I didn’t realize he had arrived fresh from the tenth century.

The words doofus, oaf, and lout are routinely used of him at the domestic hearth: he is a feline Baron Ochs.

I love him regardless. Agatha seems to have forgiven him, too.  But he’s still a dick.



Rubber Underwear

Well not exactly. Only have you ever been in that position where, to be indelicate, the bog roll is in the cupboard next door, and you just leave your underwear sort of around your shins and crab-walk over to open the new package and…? Well it was sort of like that, only instead of underpants I had a two inch wide rubber band of thin latex around my shins and was being coached to squat half way down and step sideways like a particularly halt and old Balinese dancer.

What happened was, I cornered one of the trainers at Gold’s who has a reputation for being deft at rehabilitative exercise and told her I wanted my left ass back. I have come a long way since I managed to reduce a dislocated hip in the autumn of 2012, but I am still not good for serious hill work and there are days, usually involving tropical depressions or severe winter “bomb” snowstorms, when I still get to relish the kind of pain that could make you bite through the rim of a glass tumbler. I’m sick of it.

Rehab Babe is fleshy but underneath it built like a brick shithouse, and talks my language: tubercles, myofibrils, neuromuscular endplates. “I’m inside this thing,” I said, “I’m all out of ideas, I need another pair of eyes.”

RB opined that my left butt and outer hamstring just rolled over and went to sleep during the ten months the thighbone was jacked half out of the hip socket, occasioning the pitch and yaw between unstable anchorage and spastic, boardlike cramping that can still invade my best days. It’s hard to miss; my left rear thigh looks like a civilian’s and my right like that of someone who will kick your ass to Sunday and then take a refreshing pull from a hip flask. She had plans. In fact she had been pitching ideas to me before I even asked to cash in one of my paid training sessions with her. She broke out these rubber strap things and a resistance tube with handgrips. Everything smelled faintly of latex, awakening memories of adolescent fumblings that made the entire undertaking seem even more kinky.

I approximated my palms, for balance, and did the Balinese thing. I stood on the handgrip tube and sidestepped right, left, right, left, ten paces each way, struck by the wiggling of my multiply sprained left ankle. I listened to my hip make ratchetting noises in a common Yoga pose and enjoyed the blessed dolce far niente of assuming a stretch position and letting the tissues relax into it.

We gabbed during the necessary pauses. It turned out she had competed, far more times than my single venture into physique exhibition, and had trained with Charles Glass, a parfit gentil knight of body culture whose training regimen I had wonked back in my days of perusing bodybuilding magazines. “The posing suits that you have to keep in Ziploc bags because the ties tangle up in everything! The skin dye that you can’t scrub out of the tub! Yes!” we chorused.

The rest of the afternoon I walked like a normal person, feeling my outer thigh and ass, as I have been begging of them, kick in already during an ordinary stride and do what they are supposed to do instead of letting a pack of other muscles with consanguineous attachments take over for them.

I paid forty bucks for something that could save the rest of my life. No, seriously. When I can’t plow up hills I am not me. When I am in pain I am a bitch. I don’t have the gift of generous suffering. Fuck. I’ve been hurting since Hector was a pup,  somewhere or other, but this was enough to stop me doing things and up with that I will not put.

That’s a Churchill line. He also said


give in.

I won’t. Even if it means dancing in rubber underwear.


I kissed $270 worth of business goodbye yesterday because it was sleeting. And snowing. And raining. On March 31.

This is horse-shit, people.

Gratuitous Preen

The header image I’m using at the moment was taken a few years ago. You hear about how hard it is to build mass if you are “older,” which is a polite way of saying, oh, dunno, over fifty.

Backshot 2014

I am really liking this new kettlebell workout. Two years of being mostly off-road with this goddam leg injury have left me a little less “cut,” as the expression is, but I feel prepared to make a statement on behalf of sixty year old ladies everywhere. Eight months and counting.

Show this to the foreman.

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