A Western Gal on Connecticut’s Highway

The view from my hotel room in Hartford, Connecticut.

Which sums up for me all that odd about many parts of New England. I don’t mind the view. There’s lots of sky and it’s a Homewood Suites over in Glastonbury. Nothing to write home about. Good for a few days’ stay and the linens are nice.

Traveling way too much, you get picky about stuff like linens. You wouldn’t believe how a rough sheet or thin towel can push you right over that edge, the one that’s been waiting for you.

The edge that, apparently, many Hartford drivers fell off, years ago.

In some ways, New England is so bucolic. With these gorgeous wooden farmhouses and real red barns.

There are dense trees all around, so one scarcely notices the busy highway just beyond.

Then there’s the whole industrial side. Both the shabby warehouses and crumbling parking lots and the gorgeously rehabbed buildings that pay homage to the past while providing reasonably green and pleasant working environments.

But underneath the pretty farmhouses and the chain stores all made to look Colonial, is this anger.

Granted my co-worker is a hesitant driver, the worst kind to be amongst the aggressive kind. And no, we so don’t know where we’re going or what lane to be in. But we were honked at four times yesterday and three times today. Not a get-going beep. Not even an impatient pop. But full-on rage-filled honking. And as the people speed by, their faces are set in dour, pissed-off lines.

I mentioned it on Facebook and a number of people commented that Connecticut drivers are worse, even than Boston. I can see it. Boston drivers are scary agressive and fast, but they don’t exhibit this level of sheer rage.

It’s interesing to be in this milieu, following Rep. Joe Wilson’s angry outburst, in a solemn and public setting, no less. And then, in a considerably less formal setting, but no less disconcerting for that, Kanye West’s bratly behavior at the Video Music Awards.

I wonder if it’s just that people’s filters are wearing thin. Which is okay, in many ways, since the what know are always telling us to vent our emotions, rather than bottling them up in repressed Puritan-throwback ways.

It could be, I suppose, that everyone is all stirred up. It’s been a hard year, in many ways.

People feel uncertain and insecure, which is understandable. Anger is what drives us to make a change really. If you’re pissed-off enough, then you finally act to change whatever it is that’s sticking in your craw.

But, at the risk of going Justice League, it seems that anger needs to be used for the powers of good. To create change, not to attack other people.

What does throwing a fit do? The angry honking. The yelling. The body-shaking frustration.

If only we could bottle the stuff…

But What IS Normal?

I left our new house today, almost exactly one month after we first arrived.

And yes, there was an unreality to it.

My schedule doesn’t often allow for an unbroken four weeks at home, so that was a blessing. But last night, as I packed for this business trip, a part of me pictured the old house in Laramie. As if I’d be returning there after this trip, as I did for so many years.

In fact, it felt a bit like the vacation was over.

We’ve been feeling that way, less so now than at first. We’ve been feeling like we’re simply renting this vacation house and we’ll return to real life sooner or later. I’m not sure where that comes from. We’ve certainly done that before, rented a house in a beautiful place for a week or two. With always the return to normal life after.

And the new house is beautiful enough to be that. I remember when we moved into our last house, it took me a while to become accustomed to the new circumstances. I wouldn’t habitually drive to the old house, the one we lived in for 11 years, but I’d feel the impulse to go that direction. Sometimes I’d drive by the old house, just to see it, even though the new house was a step up in every way.

That move though, was only from the fifth block north to the fourth block south, and from 6th Street to 11th Street. Our new house was only around the corner from the apartment I first rented when I moved to Laramie as a grad student in 1988.

So the relocation has something to do with it. Though I don’t remember feeling this way when I moved from Denver to St. Louis at 18, or from St. Louis to Laramie at 22.

I’m really wondering if this isn’t habit so much as age.

Yesterday, David bought a field guide to the local plants, insects and animals. He needs a real grounding in the nature around him, so different from Wyoming’s.

Leaving the house this morning, I felt funny about it. Packing had been weird, since I was out of step on my habits. Still learning where I’ve put everything.

“Will it be strange for you,” I asked David, “being in this house without me?”

“Probably,” he answered, and looked a little sad. Then he shrugged. “Just another new thing to get used to.”

It’s good for us, to make this change. To stimulate our mental flexibility and learn a new place and culture.

I wonder when it will begin to feel like normal life.

Cracks in the Glass

I have this tendency to drop my right shoulder.

It’s the scoliosus, I suspect. I was diagnosed with the sideways spinal curve when I was 12. Girls develop it then quite a bit, I understand, a result of the emotional and phsyical spurts of adolescence. I am now the height I was at 12 and managed to avoid the back surgery by doing a lot of exercises and wearing a Milwaukee brace (think Judy Blume’s Deenie). My back is pretty good now, which I attribute mainly to years of Tai Chi. But I still tend to drop my right shoulder, so many of my photographs come out with a slight downward slide. I often correct them, to make the horizon level. I nearly did on this one, but decided to leave it. A stamp of who I am, flaws and all, in this photograph.

We watched The Soloist last night. At one point, Nathaniel Ayers, a mentally ill musician who bombed out of Juliard and now wanders the streets of Los Angeles with a shopping cart of precious garbage, asks the reporter, Steve Lopez, who champions him if he sees writers. Nathaniel sees Beethoven and Mozart hovering in the air, embodying the music that drives him. Steve says that he writes for a living, so it’s not like that.

I really wonder if it ever is for writers.

Where are the Shine, August Rush and The Soloist movies about writers? Are we just not crazy interesting enough?

I’ve written about this before. The difference between being an artist like a musician and being a writer. With music, there’s a vast learning curve involved in being able to read, play and eventually create music. With writing, we all learn to create a sentence in school. After that, anyone can write and it becomes a matter of opinion, to some extent, whether or not you’re good enough. I suppose that can be also true for the garage-band approach to music. Strum a few chords and see if anyone will pay to listen.

Maybe this is the same for all artists: it’s so hard to know when you’ve done enough.

I’m in the midst of this ruthless revision of my novel (which I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about). I revised the first third, and a bit more, according to some detailed notes from an agent. Then I moved, which vaporized everything in my life not involved with moving for nearly two months. Coming back to the book, I ended up revising the beginning twice more.

I can’t seem to stop.

And yet, each time I feel closer. I feel like I’m weaving in the things I need to have there.

I told Allison that I wanted this book to be brilliant. And she didn’t laugh at me, which I appreciated. Though I suspect this may be a character flaw in myself. Another agent told me the book was a page-turner and exactly what she was looking for, but that she wasn’t quite obsessed with it, as she needed to be.

I want my readers to be obsessed.

Maybe I don’t see Jane Austen and William Shakespeare floating in the air, but I have shaken books by Ann Patchett, A.S. Byatt and Jacqueline Carey in my hands and shrieked “I want this to be MY book!”

See? We writers can make for crazy drama too.

It’s just that the soundtracks aren’t nearly so compelling.

The Great Grape Pie Gastronomical Experiment

A little while back, I mentioned that we have a grape arbor here.

My friend, author Keena Kincaid, suggested that I make grape pie. Actually she said: “If the grapes are ripe, bake a pie. Grape pie is my absolute favorite.”

Which, I suppose, is more of a demand than a suggestion.

But, since Keena and I were apparently separated at birth, because we share all sorts of common opinions — such as the same favorite restaurant in Charleston, SC, while niether one of us lives remotely near there — I figure if Keena likes it, I will too.

Never mind that I’ve never HEARD of grape pie before this.

So I dutifully requested the recipe, which Keena doesn’t have. Clearly she’s not a plotter. This is what she tells me:

Mmmm…I don’t really have a recipe. Just squeeze pulp from grape skins. I remove the seeds. You’ll need about 5 cups of fruit (depending upon depth of pie shell), 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet the grapes are) and 1 tbs butter. Mix sugar and grapes, pour in the shell, dot with butter, put in top crust and bake.

Fortunately, I never plot either, so I’m fine with this. I know the ending — that’s enough for me.

I made the crust like my grandmother taught me. Okay, I use the pastry blade and my food processor instead of two butter knives, but hey…that’s the freaking point of technology.

I also use whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose, so it never looks quite as pretty. But it’s healthier. Actually, the grape pie overall was reasonably low-fat, low-sugar, which is a bonus.

I started squeezing out the pulp like Keena said to and, after about ten, I lost interest and threw them all in the aforementioned food processor.

Yes, there is a common thread here.

My friend, Kathy-now-Kathryn (Marin –I think you’re so funny!), posts amazing pics of her culinary creations and whrrls the whole process. I am not her.

But, my pantster pie-making method worked out just fine. I ended up adding just 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar, since the grapes were super sweet. I figured we needed some sugar to make it gel. I baked it at a conservative 350, just in case, (oh, and yes, hardened the bottom crust about 20 minutes in the oven first before adding the filling). It ended up
taking about an hour to bake.

I never let pies cool long enough (see impatient food-processor approaches above), so the pie wasn’t perfectly gelled. But hey. Also note super-cool high-heeled pie server in background from my super-cool stepsister, Hope.

Verdict? Tres yummy! Like sunshine and grape jelly in a pie shell.

Now, what do I do with the REST of the grapes???

The Point of No Return

The time has come to say good-bye.

Funny how that time is different for every person. How we each work our way through hope until we can face reality and know when to let something die.

My friend, Angela, spotted this article about my lost friend, Craig, the other day. I was grateful she sent it, since it’s a loving and lovely tribute to him. And it sums up his disappearance and presumed death. She commented that, after reading my postings about it, this confirmed for her the ending of it all.

For me, that final post about it on May 8 was when I came to terms.

Though to confess the hardness of my heart — I’d given up hope well before that. While his family fought to extend the search for weeks and weeks, I gave up on him after about five days. After that, I figured that, even if they found his body, he couldn’t be alive.

Perhaps I’m not a hopeful person.

Had I been Odysseus’ wife, I would have remarried long since.

Perhaps it’s just an acquired skill. Having lost my father, when I was very young, I think I learned something about letting go. Elizabeth Bishop says that the art of losing isn’t hard to master and I think she’s right. You learn that someone can be there one moment and vaporize the next.

The hard part becomes the holding on.

In many ways, I think it’s hard to hold out hope. It takes constant energy to hope that something isn’t so. To somehow remold the past, to change the outcome. Maybe that’s why we regard hope as a virtue, because it can be so difficult to generate and maintain.

Yet, I believe there’s also a virtue to finding the end of something. To knowing that it’s over and having the courage to recognize it.

I think the articles and memorials for Craig have just now kicked in because school restarted. As if everyone took summer vacation from grief and worry. And from hope, perhaps. Now is the time to wind it all up. It’s appropriate, since Craig lived according to the ebb and flow of the academic calendar.

Beginnings and endings.

Farewell, Craig.

Putting Your Money Where Your Wardrobe Is

I’ve created a clothing budget again.

This is noteworthy because I haven’t been “organized” about wardrobe acquisition in quite some time.

The first real budget I ever had though, was for clothes, bless my mother. When I was in high school, she converted to giving me a monthly allowance that I had to use to pay for all personal expenses — including all back to school shopping. This was intended to teach me fiduciary responsibility before I was off the leash in college and it worked to greater or lesser degrees. Yeah, I had a few tussles with the credit cards, damn their seductive shininess.

So, later, after I dug myself out of my grad school debt, I went on a strict budget. Which included $50/month to buy clothes. For those aghast that I would spend so little — this was nearly 20 years ago, so $50 went quite a bit further. Also, what I didn’t spend each month would roll over into the next month. Since I lived in the Land of No Malls, I sometimes would have as much as $300 by the time I got a chance to go shopping. Mad Money, indeed!

Now, for those who think that clothing should not be a budgetary line item, and I know who some of you are: the other reason I did this was to make sure that I was buying good quality clothing on a regular basis. I was starting to work in the professional world and my mother taught me to dress for the job I wanted to have. And I had high aspirations.

Still do, as a matter of fact.

Over time, as the cash flow improved, I abandoned the budget. And waxed and waned on how important I thought good clothes were. I have a tendency to keep stuff — yes, I still have clothes from high school, so what? — and so my wardrobe got huge and unweildy.

I also got somewhat huge and unweildy, myself.

Fat, that is. Alas.

Letting yourself blimp out is hell on the wardrobe, because you cease to care about what you put on your body, just so long as you can pretend you’re not really as fat as you’ve become. Denial can be an ugly thing. Soon you find your wardrobe consists of large drapey things and those cute clothes from your twenties? Stuffed in the back of the closet, staring at you in grave reproach.

Two things happened then. First, I saw The Devil Wears Prada. I know, I know — it sounds dumb. But I actually had to own the experience, which I seldom do. Sometimes I put in the DVD just to watch the fasion montage scenes. Call me shallow, but I was inspired.

I started to get rid of all the nasty, outdated and unflattering clothes. I gave David and my best friend carte blanche to tell me when something didn’t look good and then promptly got rid of it. And I went shopping. I read What Not to Wear and bought nice clothes that flattered my body as it was.

Then I got serious about losing weight.

This can also wreak hell on the wardrobe, because you don’t want to buy anything for fat you, and you’re not entirely sure where the new thinner you will come out, as far as size, or when that will be. Because real fat loss takes a freaking long time. Nearly two years for me now.

But I’m happy with my new size and shape. And I’ve decided it’s time to buy clothes again. So I have money set aside. $200/month now. It’s lovely to go shopping with a little money in your pocket — but only enough to encourage yourself to buy just a few key items.

Dressing for the me I want to be.

Photographic Evidence

We knew we had a packrat here from the first day.

Well, second day, really. Since our actual first day involved the drive from hell, parking the U-Haul in the driveway, going to the closing from hell, cooking a frozen pizza and unloading enough of the U-Haul to find our bed and then crashing in it.

So, it was really the second day that David rounded the corner to see a pack rat cheerfully trotting up the U-Haul ramp to see what goodies we might have for him. The sight of David threw him into a frenzy, of course, and he bolted for the nearby desert shrubbery.

But we didn’t give it much thought.

Until David notifed the garbage pen was filling up with dead chunks of cholla.

“I thought the woman was trying to booby trap me with cactus!” he says to me.

“What?” (And, yes, this is really how he talks to me.)

“In the garbage. I wondered what you were doing, sticking all that dead cholla in there for me to trip over.”

“I haven’t been putting any cholla in there!”

“I know that now — it’s the pack rat.”

Now, we won’t say anything about David assuming that I would just randomly pile cactus pieces around the garbage cans. Or that he, probably grumpily cursing my name, which he now has to make up to me with all kinds of sweetness to balance the relationship karma again, bagged up all the cholla so I didn’t get a good picture of the incipient nest. David figured it out the next day, when there were a couple of new, carefully placed pieces of dead cholla, as seen here. Apparently David decided that even I, in my random garbage pen activities, wouldn’t do this kind of thing.

So he put the new wildlife camera in the garbage pen. It’s one of those infrared cameras, that’s motion sensitive. David’s been hopeful of snapping the coyotes, bobcats or screen-surveying mountain lions, but so far all he’s caught are birds and our own domestic wildlife, like the top pic of Isabel.

I did helpfully put up my purple lizard beanie-doll in front of the camera when he went to the store, since David was so disappointed not to have any good animal pics yet. The photo was hysterical, but he deleted it. He assures me that his deleting it is not an editorial comment and that he does still think I’m funny after all these years. He even offered to redo the photo, so I could post it here, but I thought the spontaneity would be lacking and you’d all notice it was staged.


Anyway, as you can see, he got a photo of the rat. Several in fact. Here’s a close-up.

Not a real pack rat, after all. In one of the pics, which is quite blurry, so I won’t bother putting it here, you can see an incriminating chunk of dead cholla in his mouth.

I am vindicated.

But contemplating filling the garbage pen with purple lizard beanie dolls…


So, our neighbor is mowing the desert.
Some people here do that. Mow the desert like it’s a lawn. They create this kind of short-grass expanse around their houses.
It’s bizarre and strange. Of course, we sold our lawn mower when we left Laramie, with the intention of never having a lawn, or a lawn-like substance again.
I think you can see the contrast in this picture — the tan flat stuff? Yeah.
He came over to introduce himself this weekend. He’s a builder, relocating to work with a buddy between Houston and Galveston. He was planning to mow it down, he said, as part of the house sale. The way it used to be, orginally. I assume that means when he bought it. I’m just hoping whoever buys the house has a different ethic.
The thing is, we know there’s green belt between our property line and his, but he seems to be mowing all the way up to ours. At least he seems to be showing no fits of overly-neighborliness by cleaning up our act as well. Mowing the greenbelt would be a violation of the covenants, but we’re new here. Doesn’t seem right to bitch in our first three weeks.
One of the most ironic bits to me is that some other neighbors of ours relocated here from the East Coast and, over drinks, he was waxing poetic about the Santa Fe landscape, how spiritual and old it is.
A lot of people here do this. I have not escaped the Western Myth.
“Right around the house, here,” he told us, “has been landscaped. But the rest hasn’t been touched for 5,000 years! I’m sensitive to that, walking only on my same paths. It’s such a spiritual thing, thinking about walking on land that is the same as it’s always been.”
I nodded at him, sipped my wine and refrained from pointing out that his pristine arroyo contains septic tanks for all the houses around. They didn’t grow there from septic-tank seeds. Though that would be a nifty invention.
The landscape grows up and recovers. The great Myth of the West is that it’s somehow preserved in this museum-worthy contaminant-free vacuum. It’s not. It’s been fixed up again. Witness our neighbor’s lot, recently made like it was originally.
Time will pass. The winter will come and the grasses regrow. Maybe no one will feel like messing with it next year.
Maybe a cholla will choke his lawnmower.


Isabel models her new collar for you.

As requested: this is the radio fence report.

It was difficult to get a good pose, since her luxuriant ruff blocks it pretty well. For a radio collar with little shocker-nodes on the inside, it’s reasonably small and lightweight.
This was taken right after a nap, when she first moved out to the patio, so when I tried to pose her, she simply collapsed into belly-rub mode.
As you can see, the collar itself poses no trauma. It’s bigger and heavier than her old, typically kitty-thin collar, but she took the change in stride. The radio fence instructions have all kinds of suggestions on habituation and training, most of which I skipped.
Isabel is a smart cat.
And I’m a lazy woman.
Anyway, the collar was fine off the bat, so I just went with it.
For those who’ve been off reading books instead of keeping up with inane blogs (we won’t discuss Sunday/NFL activities), yesterday we installed the radio fence around the house, to keep Isabel from running off into the desert. I had to mail-order it, to get the lower-power cat version. To keep Isabel, who loves to push her boundaries from being munched by a coyote, bobcat or mountain lion, we’re letting her out only in the bright light of day and only into this circumscribed area, so she can always be found at dusk. Or should some clock-shifter predator wander by.
So, yeah, it’s a PITA. It takes time. But there’s enough wire in the initial kit to make a nice big loop around the house, plugged into a receiver in the garage. You bury the wire 1-3 inches deep. Which isn’t that difficult, unless you’re digging around cholla. (Our neighbor told us about a guy who ran into a cholla without a shirt on and he had to be taken to the emergency room to be treated for shock, because of the pain.) We got part of it buried before the cocktail bell was rung and we were forced to stop for the day.
But I tested it. First on me. Now get this, there’s five levels: the first is sound only, then the next four play a sound as the cat gets near the wire, then administers a little shock of greater levels. So Level 2 is suggested for timid cats, 3 for timid to average, 4 for stubborn and 5 for insanely difficult. Okay, I forget how they described the type of cat requiring a 4 or 5 shock, because I debated between 2 and 3.
No setting for intelligent cats. (No remarks from the peanut gallery, Kev.) So I picked 3.
What you do is hold the collar in the bracket they provide and walk along with the collar at cat-neck height. (Yes, you look like Quasimodo.) As you approach the wire, you can hear the beep and determine that it’s working. No shock because the bracket they provide protects you. That’s right: they fully expect you’ll strap this onto your beloved kitty — of course beloved, because you’re not going to invest the time and money into this project if not — and never feel the shock yourself!
No no no no no.
So I took it off the handy bracket, held it in my hand at Level 3 and the damn shock nearly made my hand numb.
Level 2 it was.
So we try it on Isabel. I should add the caveat that I’ve now skipped the two weeks of training they explain in great detail. Where they think you’re going to put your cat into a harness, walk her up near the wire and then, when you hear the beeping, yell “run away run away!” and run with your cat back to the house.
I kid you not.
Since I couldn’t envision doing this without using Monty Python voices and making pointy killer bunny teeth with my index fingers while I ran, which would mean I’d drop Isabel’s leash, which, oh yeah, doesn’t exist, I skipped that whole section and went for the “tie-out option.” This is where you tie your cat out and let her find the wire herself. Except with us there’s no tie-part. Just Isabel and the desert.
We watched her on her evening constitutional. She walked up to the wire, where we’d left off with the onerous burying, wondering why we’d been messing with it, looked around for that beeping noise, stepped on the wire and wandered off.
Okay, the collar was too loose.
Hey, those prong-thingies looked uncomfortable!
But I tightened it up — after testing it on my hand again, ow — and went for trial 2.
{Overnight intermission for cat to stop being paranoid about why I’m following her around.}
Isabel walks up to the wire, intent on a distant juniper stand with enticing baby quail noises. What’s that sound? She looks around for the beeping. Sees the red wire. Hmm. She bends to sniff the wire and snaps back! Just like her nose was shocked. She sniffs again. Same thing! Isable shakes her head, sniffs again, shocked, and leaps over the wire to escape it.
Yeah. Not quite what we hoped for.
But it is working. She’s been staying closer to the house and not messing with the wire. The collar was bugging her some — hey, little prongs in your neck — so I might rotate it with the other.

In the meanwhile, there’s lizard-hunting, except when they run under the yucca, which poke you in the face most uncomfortably.
I’m going to call it a provisional success.
Any questions? Feedback? Bets on how long it will take us to finish burying the wire?
Winner gets a free stay in our guest room!

Lions and Arbors and Boxes.

Saturday morning, writing under the grape arbor.

David is sitting with me reading Osho. Teddy is laying on the cool flagstone, Zipper beside her. Isabel, the ever independent, is out front hoping the baby quail show up again. They appeared yesterday for the first time, bobbling along behind the older quail, like fluffy bit of popcorn on toothpicks. Isabel was electrified by the sight.

No baby quail snacks in her future, however.

The quail are smart enough to know when she’s out there, and she can only go out in bright light. I keep dreaming at night that she’s caught outside. David, too, has been waking to the coyote howls and getting up to make sure she’s still inside. In the same way the animals have been unsettled, he’s been nervous in this new environment. Uncertain how to best protect us all. Isabel is always sitting in a window, watching the night.

“Would a coyote try to get Isabel through the screen?” I wondered.

“That’s why I have the rifle, two sticks and my pistol under the bed,” David said.

I had previously commented on the unprecedented number of weapons under our bed here.

“To beat the coyotes off Isabel?”

“More if a mountain lion comes through the screen.”

“I think if someone in Eldorado had a mountain lion come through their screen, we would have heard the story,” I told him.

“Fine, make fun,” he answered. “But if a mountain lion DOES come through the screen, I’ll be ready. “

I know he’ll settle down as he gets into the groove. I must constantly remind myself that David has never moved to a totally new place. The biggest move he’s made before this was from Buffalo, Wyoming to Laramie, Wyoming.

We have recycling pick-up here, which we ain’t never done had afore back in ol’ Wyo. We signed up for it, for an additional $4.87/month, which seems like a great deal to me. They gave us a green can for recyclables, that’s slightly smaller than the one for garbage. They pick up on a different day for that one, and only every two weeks. David fretted about remembering the dates until I put them in my Outlook calendar with a day-before reminder.

Last Wednesday was our first pick-up. Since he’s got time until classes start, he spent several hours Tuesday breaking down moving boxes, since they recycle cardboard. But there was too much to fit in the can.

“Just stack up the extra next to the can,” I offered. “Worst they can do is not take it.”

But he didn’t like that idea. He took Zip out and drove around the neighborhood to see how the other neighbors did it.

“I wonder if tomorrow is the right day,” he said when he returned.

“It is,” I answered without looking up from my laptop.

“Only three other neighbors have green cans out.”

“Maybe not everyone has the same pick-up day. Maybe not everyone pays the extra to recycle.”

“Well, none of them had extra stuff next to their cans.”

At least he was satisfied that enough people put theirs out the night before that he was okay there. The next morning when we went running, I pointed out another green can, about three blocks away.

“I counted that one,” he told me.

“Jeez — how far did you go?”

“A ways. I wanted to get a good survey of how everyone was doing it.”

“Why do you even care how the neighbors do it?” I asked.

“I just want to make sure to be doing things the right way.”

“I’m going to have to write about this in my blog, you know,” I told him.

“I know — I don’t care.”

And he doesn’t. One of the things I love best about David is he doesn’t mind me writing about him. This is an incredibly valuable trait in someone who shares their life with a writer, especially an essayist.

That, and that he’ll protect me from the mountain lion coming through the screen.