My teenaged daughters recently discovered old episodes of Friends on Netflix, and while imposing myself on some of their recreational time recently I noticed that Jennifer Aniston has not only maintained her youthful appearance, she is arguably even hotter in her 40s than she was in her late twenties. In those old episodes she was cute, but she’s transcended that to the rarefied level of scorching magnificence while somehow maintaining a girl next door sort of casual appeal. It’s a wonder, given that dynamic, that stalkers don’t surround her castle like the suitors of Penelope at Ithaca.
At first I thought is was just me, and my own aging perspective–the young girl thing doesn’t really rock me any more, aside from a general acknowledgement of aesthetic appeal. College girls–and the flock of young, indistinguishable from each other, hollywood starlits flooding television and mainstream movies– look like children to me, not just out of my league but, you know, eeeeeewwww creepy young. Criminally young. But someone like Tea Leoni? Woff, woof. Or Sheryl Crow, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane? Those are proper subjects for unrequited lust of respect and admiration. I’ve never really thought of Aniston as a sex symbol or, as Websters’ calls it, a “smokin’ hottie,” but my childrens’ discovery of her forced me to re-evaluate.
This Aniston, however, is–or was–a bit of a conundrum. Can clean living do all that? Was there medical intervention? An inspection of Aniston’s close friend and fellow Friends alum Courtney Cox, reveals that the answer is no: Courtney looks great, but we can see right through that shit.) There can only be one solution: cannibalistic filicide.
According to the tabloids at which I’ve been gawking while in line at the grocery store over the past 20 years, Ms. Aniston has pretty much been constantly pregnant for most of my adult life.
Twenty years of pregnancy means at least 18 babies, presuming a quick turnaround following a typical 40-week pregnancy and a bare minimum 4 month recovery time, and not factoring in the many sets of twins she has been rumored to have conceived. And yet, we’ve heard no rumors of either termination nor miscarriage, but…
Could Jennifer Aniston have the most tragic reproductive history in the entire…um…ever? Given the volume and intensity of new coverage she’s historically generated, I suspect we’d hear about it, loudly, were it true. So the only solution is:
Jennifer Aniston becomes impregnated by some of Hollywood’s most vibrant stars, carries their children, and upon delivering these children under top secret conditions, she eats her young, consuming not only their vibrancy but their very souls. It’s the only viable solution.
It’s been a good summer, and today is a good day: the outdoor work hanging over my head has been suspended by gentle rains and I woke this morning to discover the low clouds–fog, mist, call it what you will, have confined my visibility–my experience–to a few hundred yards. A gentle wind shakes droplets of water from the trees, a subtle hint of what was and what, as far as the meteorologists are concerned, will be. Rain.
But I digress…(the official catchphrase of this blog, we’ll call it Operation Easily Side-Tracked.
Although…can one really digress from a column that lacks a defined point? Is a spear without a tip still a spear, or is it just a stick? (On the other hand, it’s much easier to club a guy with a stick than stick him with a spear, one just has to get closer to do it–so does the question really matter?)
It’s a beautiful morning–that’s the point–a reverse-beauty that reminds me of camping and hiking. It’s misting now–tires of passing cars hissing on the road. Days like this find me wistful in a way that demands reflection. I think of waking in a tent, holding off getting up as long as possible, then standing around in rain gear, clutching plastic spill-proof mugs of coffee, or tromping through sodden meadows, or scaling rain-slicked, moss-covered rocky trails. One remembers the uncomfortable moments within a lifetime of sunny days and blue skies, and those memories can be warmer and more brilliant than all the picture-perfect weather in the world.
One of the best memories I have of many days at the beach involves my wife and I mired for an entire day at the Oregon Inlet Campground at Cape Hatteras National Seashore near Nag’s Head, North Carolina. We’d begun the day with a swim, then a leisurely bicycle ride down the road to the Bodie Island Lighthouse. I’ve got this thing about Lighthouses–I’m not content to look at them: I need to climb every one I see. It was a great ride, and a great climb to a great view, but as we rode our bikes back south, the rain began to spit–big, widely spread droplets–and a headwind rose up that seemed to push back with double the effort of every revolution we pedaled. The distance back to the campsite couldn’t have been more than about 3 miles, but it took more than an hour and by the time we arrived at the tent we were soaked in perspiration (despite the wind) and rubber-legged.
And then the rain came. It was welcomed at first–our immediate neighbors had both run for it (a sign, in retrospect), allowing us to strip down in what began as a gentle shower and flop into the tent, butt first, so our sand-crusted feet would be rinsed by the weather. Young, naked, and in a tent at the beach–things began well enough, as you might imagine, but after a few hours were were sitting crosslegged, dressed in clean(er) clothes, playing cards. I loathe playing cards, but the backgammon board was in the van 15 yards away and the rain had evolved into a gray translucent curtain. It would continue, through the rest of the afternoon, the evening, the night, and the next morning. At some point, confined to a 2-person, 6’x7′ Eureka Timberline tent, we made a vow: we would buy a bigger tent, and obnoxiously big tent in which a human being could stand–or at least kneel–without pushing against the nylon skin. Late in the second day, the rain slowed to a gentle shower, and we crawled stiffly from our little cell in the sand to find the campground all but deserted–a mere handful of intrepid (stubborn?) travelers had stuck it out, and several of them were wandering around, semi-dazed.
We were, by that time, soaked–the tent, the sleeping bags, our clothes–but after 30-some hours of deluge the light rain was nothing. We walked down to the beach and strolled for hours, the place pretty much all to ourselves, and by the time we made it back to the campsite a light breeze had begun breaking up the low clouds. Cracks of fading sunlight gave way to twinkling stars. We’d stood our tent up on end to dry the floor, and hung our bags on a makeshift clothes line strung between the van and my bicycle, held in place by a few extra guy lines (yes, it was genius). We cooked noodles on the camp stove while the breeze dried our stuff, and stayed up late watching the stars.
In the morning, the sun rose early, hot and somewhat humid. We packed up and moved south to the campground near Frisco, which was equally deserted, and split the day between sleeping on the beach and floating in some of the most gentle, rolling surf I’ve ever been in. We would travel that entire summer, camping in North Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, and had phenomenal weather–only one other time in 2 1/2 months were we rainbound–in a gorgeously green South Dakota canyon that had been used as a scene in Dances With Wolves–and the irony, after such a long trip, was that those two days are the most vivid memories in a summer’s worth of adventures.
Is this where I say something about silver linings? Maybe. The truth is, I woke up this morning and wanted to write something about the rain, and I wanted to write something for the blog that actually came our of my head with some semblance of immediacy. After all, this started as a writing blog.
Here’s what we need to add to the garden this year…
We’ve got a final, 12′ x 50′ strip of garden–once home to the concord grapes we inherited with the property, that had a virus and would tease us each year with a generous fruit set before every grape withered on the vine a few weeks before ripening, it now has a lot of weeds, one big pink rose bush, and some under-performing raspberry bushes that I’m going to transplant to a better location, and the pet cemetery. Located on the western side of the garden, it’s the perfect spot for a mix of edible and functional landscapes–fruit bushes and trees inside tall, dense stuff that will deter the neighborhood’s horde of mutant deer from leaping the fence. We’ve thus far managed to deter the deer only by fencing every individual bed, making it difficult for them to move around in the garden. We’d failed at a single fence around the outside of the garden–the big deer, led by the freakish “Cow Doe”–a deer so big, so fat on the riches of vegetable gardens, flowers, and shrubbery that it has grown to a frighteningly massive stature. It acknowledges not enemy, it fears no hazing and laughs in the face of scent-based repellents. I’ve shot it in the ass with a bb gun several times, to no avail–hence the build our landscape with so much stuff the deer can’t cross straegy
For the same reason, we need new strawberry bushes–while my wife will still go to the U-pick for her traditional 34 gallons of decadent bliss next summer, and hopefully every summer, forever, to the end of time, it’s nice to have some ever-bearers in the home garden to provide a jolt of summer bliss. While I like a cool berry, there is something about a sun-dappled berry, right off the plant, on a summer morning right before the dew burns off. So, we need about 50 plants–I think we’re going with Ozark Beauty. Why do we need new strawberries? The deer knocked the fence down and ate them.
The centerpiece of this new development will be plums. We’ve had a hell of a time ordering plum trees. Two years in a row I ordered trees from a nursery, and they were allegedly shipped, but never received. One order was sent to an address “1000’s less than mine”–pretending that I lived at 9995 my address was processed as 995, and the college students who lived there let the carton sit on their porch for 2 months, not great for bare root trees. Got a refund, and a discount, but by the time it dawned on me that they weren’t coming (I held out such hope) I was unconvinced enough time remained in the season for the trees to establish themselves. It happened again last year–but the nursery insisted the address was right. The nursery closed over the winter–I wonder why.
So, I’m shopping at Stark Bros. this year, since our local nurseries don’t grow their own plum trees. I’m looking at Fellenberg (pictured) which bears in September, and Earliblue, which bears in early August, for sustained harvest–all goes as planned, we’ll have plums, plums, plums for two months straight.
Doesn’t that make you hungry? I never ate plums growing up, but my wife did–her dad had a pair of plum trees in the back yard. She got me hooked on the sweet, tender fruit, and there’s been no looking back. Well, maybe a little, see, here is an interesting story about that–we were visiting, and I’d just eaten my first plum ever, only to find myself in the throes of a passion so fierce and fiery it consumed me. In the middle of the night I woke up with the munchies and ate two more…then another two…they were so good…I ate two more…and an eighth, a ninth. Do you see where this is headed? I woke up about 90 minutes later, and quickly became certain I was going to die. It hadn’t occurred to me that prunes are just dried plums. Lesson learned.
The final target for my fruit avarice is honeyberry–otherwise known as blue-berried honeysuckle–that caught my eye several years ago. I’ve finally decided that I want a few of these little bad boys–supposedly they fruit are wonderfully sweet, looking a lot like oblong blueberries. I’m eager to see what they do–how they do, and how they taste.
I’m tempted to try last year’s super-trendy fruit, the mysterious goji-berry, but the three items above are going to cost me about $80-$90, we want to add a few more ornamental trees (serviceberry and something else–but that’s for another post) as well as change another corner of lawn into flowers, specifically about 800’sq devoted to a mixed bed of pollinator-friendly perennials and self-seeding annuals, a sort of “butterfly garden” to keep the bugs happy–and gardening isn’t supposed to be an expensive obsessions–er, hobby–but the gojis are pretty dear, price-wise. Maybe when trends turn to the next unlikely exotic, goji will drop and I’ll buy them. To tell the truth, I don’t know anything about Goji, except that they’re pretty, packed with the kind of good stuff about which I should pretend enthusiasm (natural stuff), and tasty–the truth is, I’m in it mostly for the tasty, then for the pretty, then for the stuff that makes my bones strong and my organs functional, if not particularly efficient.
I love to tell stories with words and images, often with a darkly magical twist. While speculative fiction & dissecting pop culture are my primary passions, I also work with clients & brands by assisting with content creation, editing, marketing & design.