Dear Gentle Readers,
September 1st is today and in my mind the start of Autumn no matter what the weather is doing. We are still on the tail end of the Summer doldrums, the Dog Days; those days and nights where the humidity and heat swamp you and wrap around your body and face so that you could swear you are breathing water. I have no idea what the brood number is but the cicadas are still humming and vibrating for all they are worth. And yet I will remind you that there is still that suburban magic, similar to the book that is a perfect ode to Summer, Dandelion Wine, which can even give a sublime twist to the word Ticonderoga. Several nights past when we were experiencing 85+ humidity it was time to walk the dog around midnight: this was one of those nights. All the lights from street lamps along the way and the door lights of every apartment seemed to be pocketed and pushed into tight cones, frightened of the darkness around it while the moon was a glowing orb in a night dark sky that was being mocked by the shadows. The cicadas will normally stay active throughout a Southern type of day but as soon as the gloaming starts they quiet down and then go silent at sun down. Right as August was closing out on the callendar the cicadas were screaming from the trees and bushes during sun down, it was an uncanny cacophony that seemed to speak of desperation, the noise so loud I had to cover my ears. And even one night they did not stay silent at dusk but bracketed the porch lights like miniature aliens during an apocalypse.
Our Sorcha was moping after the end of Mulberry Season and trying to find that miraculous sidewalk food again. As is the cycle of life while the cicadas sing, or scream like land locked Sirens, they also die. When I was a child we collected the husks and painted them with old nail polish (simple times!) and I have managed to find two husk casings and felt as though I had won some sort of prize. In my neighborhood they die on the sidewalks and curbside grass like hailstones from a freak summer storm: And so we have entered Cicada Season. Sorcha usually snags five or more on her final nightly walk and so has gleefully started nosing anything that looks like a dying bug. They are edible to dogs and apparently crunch and squish appetizingly so we have given up keeping her from eating them. Our dog has been caught half crunching a sidewalk cicada then waiting for it to twitch in death throws before finishing it off but as we agreed they are a high protein snack without artificial ingredients we can overlook her taunting her food.
This week has been a blessed relief from the heat and humidity. This pleasant weather may not last long but for today and tonight the windows are open. And while the windows bring in cool air now is the time to start putting on the big girl panties: My dragon hoard of fabrique must be pruned back. So far the count is 7 tubs and 6 bags of fabrique. My childhood was not filled with rocks, but was centered around my mothers’ sewing room: her “secret” room, her throne of royalty, her door to Narnia. Fabrique makes me happy, it is my safe place and with the volatile emotions that come with moving so much I have used curbside giveaways and Freecycle to surround myself with a safety blanket made of pounds of material. Gentle Readers, this is NOT easy to divest myself of suedes, vintage eyelet, and 1960’s prints. But in honesty I am not using even 1/16th of the amassed cloth. All my tubs are sealed, and the fabrique is mostly pieced-out together in ziplocks: No must and no mildew and no mothballs!! There are so many rocks and books and strange twigs, weird shells, and yards of material that just beg to be found!! I MUST check myself on a yearly basis to try and keep my collecting at bay.
A new young couple has moved up onto the second floor and just about everyone here in the building (all three of us) have been trying to hint “did you get an inspector?” Sure enough, this past Friday a knock came at our door around 6pm and the husband has come downstairs to tell us the electricity is off in the apartment. We are also worried about the two children in that apartment. The window damage was just painted over and the brown nicotine stains covering the kitchen were painted over as well. We just now got our plumbing fixed after we had a second episode of no functioning toilet or shower for three days. Luckily our nextdoor neighbor is a delightful and eccentric Lady who let us use her facilities while ours was leaking onto the floor. Her whole apartment is truly like walking into an art gallery with sofas and chairs. She is the best of many things and I am so pleased to have a kind and vibrant neighbor. Unfortunately we have not been able to help dearest J with her problem: Her assigned parking garage has the roof beam held up by wings and a prayer, collapsing just enough to crush the rolling garage door so it is stuck closed and collapsing just enough to make all of us scared to go inside. This has been going on for over a month now and the diatribe from the landlady seams to change every week but what we think is playing out is that between forgetting about J’s stuck car and avoiding responsibility for the garage, the landlady is just trying to dodge everyone until it is rent check time. Now we have lived in a turn of the century apartment that was in Wrigleyville and we had all kinds of weird stuff happen and no matter what I sometimes thought of the supper, he was always there the next day or calling us back immediately with when the problem would be fixed: I get old buildings. We have no superintendent and so the landlady spent three days claiming that 51 degrees was just fine for when our fridge broke. My husband has quietly started having to step up and become Mr Has The Answer; calling hotlines and all sorts of renter’s rights groups. Next on his list, so to speak, is Operation Clear Off The Dumpster, to somehow get the boxes and broken furniture around the dumpster taken away before the sanitation crew stops picking up. It is a sad truth that in a large city like this after the initial perusal of neighbors and junkers of the dumpsters and their piled around treasures, everything else becomes a reason to sneak across the alley and throw your junk on the opposite dumpster. And just like downed tree limbs the size of my leg, this dumpster stuff is the responsibility of the landlady.
Mabon has come and gone and for the last rays of that day the light was even with the coming darkness; the shadows now slowly creep and slide over the lawns and over passes of this city heralding the changing seasons. Windows are open to a steady Lake breeze and when walking the dog at night we can hear snippets of voices from lit apartments. The traditional Indian and muslim ladies in the neighborhood look like exotic birds made of colors and patterns as the Autumn wind ruffles around them. The last of the seasonal grilling still wafts over the neighborhood while the excited voices of playing children sprints over fences to join the coming night. The squirrels still have skinny tails and the yearling cats have yet to start nesting down; Winter will be mild this year at the left side tip of Lake Michigan but once November comes gliding in, the snow will start in earnest. The yew bushes have those bright red berries against glossy green foliage while the last of the summer flowers push through wrought iron fences in a furious sprint of pastel colors.
I know I am late… but here is more on Red Angels Rise. cont’…
Mariesha slipped Barue a silver, adding to his belief that he was lucky, and got directions to Tartagrad Street. The night’s storm had washed out the gutters and cleaned the puddles and the two walked briskly through the streets as the morning moved forward. Tartagrad Street was a wider thoroughfare running between several neighborhoods and even had some high walk over bridges. There were shops open and people bustling past and even cabs for hire. At the corner was a pie vendor who admitted to selling late into the night at times. The heavy metal of his patchwork cart kept his pies and sandwiches hot through the day and warm into the night. Mariesha was obliged to buy one for she and Elsbeth even though she thought she would split in two after the full breakfast at Mrs. Cormerent’s. When the pie seller admitted that for the past week he had been going home just past sun down both the Inspector and her Recorder felt their hopes begin to slide. With dogged determination Mariesha took out the picture and began to go door-to-door and shop-to-shop down Tartagrad Street. While most shop clerks and bar owners were more than willing to look at the pictures none remembered them or were even open by that time of night. Even the shop owners who lived above the street were unaware of anything happening out of the ordinary what was now six nights ago
Mariesha stood on the worn sidewalk and kicked a pebble into some barrels, “Els we are smeggin’ running out of options.”
“I am afraid to concur, Inspector Greywaves, but I am beginning to feel that this is a jinxed mission.”
“Let us go up to a high bridge and try looking down. Perhaps a change of perspective would help.”
“Very well. It couldn’t hurt.”
It only took half a block to find some stairs that led to an elevated train platform and an open promenade with three bridges to other balconies and promenades. Mariesha stood with the wind to her face and watched the birds swooping and bobbing across rooftops. Below her the alleys and roads made a gentle maze of pathways weaving in and out of the light. She gazed across wide Tartagrad Street and off into side streets beyond. The city was awash in its patchwork of greys and browns. Just visible past the rooftops was a small wedge of green that started some of the mausoleums and gravesites of Cinerarium.
Mariesha turned to Elsbeth who was pushing a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “You know, Elsbeth, something just occurred to me.”
“We need a necromancer not connected to the families. What if someone is being paid off. What if Ansel Casterwell is dead and the truth is being hidden for some reason.” cont’…
I need to start my Winter/December blog. Alot has happened yet nothing at the same time so we will see how it goes.
All Grace and Blessings,