Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Eversprouting: Optimism, Mushrooms, and Spam

Mushrooms: I think it’s a sign of my country madness that I am even excited about the possibility of gleaning mushrooms from the countryside. I’m not particularly fond of mushrooms, but part of that has always been the insane prices in the markets for fungus. Free is always a good price to me, and so I dream about recognizing the tastier varieties, and even try to look up the ones that appear audaciously in my own backyard. (Once, I had one that really looked like a morel grow up through a crack in the basement floor -- but of course, I was too cowardly to eat it!) And the prolific rain combines with the fertile spongy soil, apparently, to create Oregon fungi that in some places stretch out for 144 acres! (That one, a Honey Mushroom, is too big to start with, definitely; I will try something smaller). But most likely I will start my gleaning with items that I easily recognize: fruits and nuts. It will be interesting to see if they are left on the roadsides like in suburbia or if the country folk share the same value I do. And who can get there faster.

Optimism: One thing that comes out in great quantities, like oil slicks -- or mushrooms -- after a heavy rain, is your friends’ optimism. Of course there’s always one who has a ready list of imminent dangers, but in general, my complaints about the intricacies of the real estate process, and the confusions of home ownership in general, is met with a wave of sunny optimism, behind which I sense a backwash of “better you than me!” The original closing date is already a month in the past? “These things happen -- nothing to worry about!”. The new closing date is just before a holiday that shuts down the country - except for shopping -- for four days? “I’m sure it’ll be fine.” I am amazed - flabbergasted (love that word - how does one flabber a gast? or is it gasting a flabber?) by their steely confidence in the face of my concerns. But I guess that’s what friends are for: to sit at their tables, firmly ensconced on their settled kitchen floors, and encourage me with great gusto to set out for parts unknown. Where would I be without them? Probably more to the point, where will I end up with them? At this point, somewhere left of “Hic Sunt Dracones” [Here be dragons]…

Spam: The other thing that comes out in vast numbers before, during and after a move, are the advertisers who target you as someone desperately in need of their services. It’s uncanny -- scary, really -- how they know you have just moved in to town, or are looking to renovate something. Of course, if you’ve used a US Post Office “moving notification form” recently, you might begin to suspect the prime culprit. It literally took me five minutes to find the actual moving form in the incredible welter of offers and “helpful” forms for services now crammed into the “moving packet”… the only kind of packet that thing qualifies as is a Spam Packet. Speaking of which, my spam filter used to be full of Rolex watch offers and Viagra deals (apparently assuming women like to be pro-active?) -- now I’ve got message after message offering me free hardware store shopping sprees or consultations with interior decorators. I’d go to an interior decorator about as fast as I’d take a pet to therapy. These “room whisperers” might have some use in the big cities where you desperately need to know whether you are in your own apartment or the identical box next door, but the house of a writer usually has one décor anyway - piles of papers and books (and books are -- after all -- just a more compact pile of paper). Even with the advent of computers, we produce enough paper printouts to create shredded bedding for an elephant. So interior design consists of stacking those papers in slightly different configurations, mostly to find a chair(or make a chair!)for a guest. And since the majority of guests to a writer’s house are other writers, what they most look at are the bookshelves and the fridge -- generally areas not a focus of your typical interior design wizard. Writers can sometimes proliferate like mushrooms...but I digress.

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