A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Monday, July 10, 2006


A friend whose opinion I value very highly recently told me that, although he thinks my blog is wonderful, he doesn't read it consistently because he personally prefers things that are edgy, not fluffy.

So, I'm fluffy. Or at least my writerly persona is. Aarrghhh!

I briefly considered widening my focus, posting on topics more controversial, and of more than local interest. I even visited cnn.com to see what was going on in the world beyond Salem Street today.

It only takes ten minutes of reading the national and international news to remind me why I do it as rarely as possible. Headlines today: police say man blew up 4-story building in NYC rather than let it be sold in a divorce; 11-year-old girl gang-raped by football players; boy get 26 years for murdering playmate; American soldiers killed in Iraq in retaliation for the rape of an Iraqi woman; Bin Laden urges more attacks....

What can I do with all this information? I'm not sure. I keep coming back to the dictum, write what you know. This blog is pretty much a diary of my not-all-that-exciting life at this point. I'm not trying to snare readers from the blogosphere with incendiary keywords, or take controversial stands on the hot issues of the day just to start a flame war.

I look at my heroes, fellow diarist Anne or fellow Massachusetts writer Henry David, both writing from a single room, and I think, by continually examining and acting on their principles in their individual lives--however mild and harmless, they are the true subversives.

Or maybe they're just fluffy.

Mulch for Our Money

I had been telling my neighbor that downtown was really no noisier than the suburbs, especially on a Saturday morning when the power tools start at 8 a.m. and go all day. So what did I wake up to yesterday but mowers and blowers and weed wackers, right outside my window. I might just as well have been right back in Wilbraham, I thought as I dragged myself out of bed.

A whole crew was in the park behind my house, cleaning mercilessly. These guys had been deployed by Patrick Sullivan, Springfield's Parks Director. By early afternoon when I went out to inspect, a fresh layer of hemlock mulch was spread neatly in all the beds. It really did look pretty nice.

Quite a bit remains to be done, of course. The fountain is dry, the grass is raggedy, the plantings need attention. One tree is nearly dead, and others could use some pruning. Some of the berms are depressed, and a few cobblestones are missing from the walks.

All these issues are the result of years of neglect. Armoury Common is sort of an orphan, a city park historically maintained by the apartment complex surrounding it. The gentrification which took place in the seventies didn't really stick, the apartments have changed hands several times over the years, and nobody's sure who's in charge of the park anymore.

I think the park should go back to the city, keys and all. Right now it's not even listed as a park property on the city's website. But Armoury Commons Apartments has not been a good steward. It appears that Patrick Sullivan is demonstrating some accountability, so let him run with it. My expenses have gone up, not down, since moving to the city from the suburbs. It's nice to see some of all that money spent right in my back yard.