11 Comments

I have just finished watching the wonderful panel discussion with Douglas, Alastair and Dougie. Thank you for sharing and prompting me to find again Soil and Soul on my bookshelf. Much underlined on initial reading and I see I bought it in 2008! Yesterday I booked myself a place on ‘The Labyrinth... ‘ in June. 🙏🏻🌤️

Expand full comment

My partner is disgusted (to his bones, I think) by infantalised, trapped pets and thus we only tend plants (he can handle that my indoor tropicals could not survive our high desert climate and they house a few jumping spiders that hangout with us during winter). He also greets every animal outdoors like meeting a friend, whether it’s a dog on a leash, a bee, a stray cat or a squirrel. Though others may infantalise them (our neighborhood is full of dogs) he (and I) offer them all our care as kin. Thanks as ever, Caroline, so grateful you share with us here.

Expand full comment

"cupboards full of expensive party games, still plastic-wrapped" - That's one of the saddest things I've ever read.

Expand full comment

Caw-caw, such a joyful poem Caroline. Corvids are fascinating creatures. Something about them strikes me as very right-brained (the love of shiny things, their capacity to solve puzzles without using enactive cognition). Yet they're such convivial birds too. I like to think that when we are gone, they will make our empty homes into rookeries, and perhaps find some use for all those shrink-wrapped board games.

Expand full comment

I am also house- and dog-sitting right now, for my upper-middle-class in-laws. A lot of what you said in your letter rings familiar--the dog treated like a "human baby" (I have 2 actual human babies and at least they don't poop on the carpet!), the *one* hand-made thing (a coffee mug from which I've been drinking my morning coffee). And I feel a mixture of alienation and comfort in this house, in the suburbs of a midwestern American city, only accessible by car (this was a selling point for my mother-in-law, because there aren't as many "bad guys" walking around who could break into the house, unlike in the city). I say comfort because it is spacious, there is a sauna and a fireplace, there is a big basement where my 3-year-old can run around, there is a simulacrum of beauty in the elegantly-chosen, though mass-produced, decorations.

I also love my in-laws and am grateful to them for their care and support. When, out of irritation, I put the dog in her cage and she started barking, my son said "She's lonely, she doesn't want to be by herself," and I knew that it was true. None of us wants to be by ourselves. It is hard when the people you love, people in your family, are living in this way, comfortable but alienated from nature and community, adrift in a consumerist lifestyle, blind to the impossibility of continuing to live and consume in this way. I waver between judgment and non-judgment, trying to maintain civility while also charting my own, very different, course in life.

Your letter doesn't say if you were house-sitting for people you knew or if they were just people who hired you from a random gig service site. I do wonder how to maintain connection with people like this in our lives, how to "be the change" we want to see in the world that hopefully then resonates in a way that can make a difference, while still loving our loved ones and not trying to change them.

Thank you for your post!

Expand full comment

The indescribable bliss of working through an interesting and well curated playlist. Modernity has a lot to answer for but Spotify, I’d miss.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you. It is curated thus: I play my 'liked songs' on random shuffle as I go about my days. If a song makes me: 1 dance in the kitchen or 2 sing along either yearningly or heartily, then I put it on the Uncivil Savant play list. If this produces a 'well-curated' list, then huzzah!

And likewise, re Spotify.

Expand full comment
Mar 20, 2023Liked by Caroline Ross

The letter has continued to work on me over the last the weeks, seeping into the sediment of my mind. It has been an invitation to review, revise and reconnect with all that I surround myself with too. Thank you.

Expand full comment