Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Wreck of the Hesperus

'Tis the day after BBQ the Magnificent (stop your scoffing, for me it was a triumph!).

Because I conserved my energy to spend on said social gathering my floors went unswept yesterday. Today there are the usual two-days'-post-swept drifts of cat hair and dust silently mocking me everywhere I turn, and I am too done in to sweep.

Upstairs the neighbour is vigorously vacuuming her carpets. I praise the great gods of surfaces that I do not have carpet. At our time of life there is an existential crisis around carpeting. Do you or don't you?

Carpeting cushions falls, and in some cases prevents them, as it absorbs slippery liquids slopped on it by cats, and tea in cups held at a 45 degree angle to the floor by a distracted (yet delightful) husband. On the other hand it absorbs liquids like cat puke and the occasional… well, let's move on by just saying surface dirt is not all one worries about with carpeting.

Hard flooring is just that, hard when you trip, slip, slide, wobble or flop onto it. There is nowt between you and gravity when the floor is maple laminate. It's just you and your old brittle bones and easily aggravated capillaries. Where was I? Good Lord I wander like an ant who has discovered a picnic.    

Salvador Too, the "innocent baby cat"
Anyway, the floors are adrift in filth and the wretched baby cat, who considers himself abandoned when the bedroom door is closed at bedtime, had a lovely time overnight. I don't know how he manages to look so innocent.

I had a large bin of bits and bobs from the BBQ which I put on the table. Grocery bags, plastic bags, paper plates, paper napkins (we call them serviettes in Canada land), and many small bits. He "helped" me by unpacking everything, throwing it on the floor and then carrying or scooching items into every accessible corner. Under furniture, into the litter box, all over the floor, every room.  It looks like the city dump in here.

My mother had a phrase for this, "This place looks like the wreck of the Hesperus!" It seems the generation schooled at the turn of the 20th century was far more conversant with classical literature than we were. Those of us born in the 40s were a moanful bunch, complaining bitterly about being forced to read Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but at 60 my mother could still recite them from memory, a  feat I doubt any seventh grader could do now. On the other hand she could never believe man had actually gone to the moon. That was as impossible for her to comprehend as committing "The Wreck of the Hesperus" to memory was for me.

So I look out over my particular wreck, and do my little share of moaning and remember my mother's deep and long influence on my life. She was tiny, but all dynamite and determination. If I know her, she's probably scrubbing her side of the golden street in front of her mansion in Heaven right about now. I can't for a minute believe there are no clocks in the New Jerusalem because otherwise how could my mother know when it was appropriate to cluck her tongue at any neighbour who hasn't scrubbed her steps by 6:00 am? 

Wherever you are Mom, Happy Mother's Day. I've given you the gift of a house that looks like The Wreck of the Hesperus, so you can spend your day "mothering" me in the old familiar way.  I appreciate you a lot more at 67 than I did at 17, but my idea of Heaven still isn't scrubbing steps, so when I arrive (assuming I do!) we may live in different neighbourhoods of the New Jerusalem. I'll visit you though, and you can visit me, as long as you don't quote Longfellow. 

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