Monday, December 20, 2004

List Making

Going to Washington, that's D.C., tomorrow. Right now I have ten thousand things to do but am confident that whatever gets done will be enough. Dishes and dog fur and fish tanks to be cleaning. Bills and cat boxes, overflowing the both of the them, but what else? This is my version of making list. Owen's things to be done in the next three hours. No I haven't forgotten packing; I've pushed it into that never-land of things which, since leaving can't be accomplished without them, will be done no matter how late. It would be lovely one of these lifetimes to be organized, I mean really so. To have all chores done in time to relax and reflect and enjoy it deeply. Does this ever happen? Is there any way to fold a fitted sheet neatly?

No, I mean the last. If anyone knows of a systematic, repeatable way to fold a fitted sheet, please let me know. Years ago I solved the problem by not buying fitted sheets. Hospital, or at least store front clinic, corners and a nice, not-to-worry self-righteous old-fashioned feel. Who needs elastic? Yes, but then there is being in a couple, and the hospital corners, well, sleeping alone and not moving much is one thing, but god forbid, with two bodies and a cat in the bed, and god help us should someone else have to change the sheets...anyway, if anyone knows a good way to fold a fitting sheet, a simple thing, let us know, please.

Let's see. Oh, right, I was going to put that 3M plastic film on a few windows tonight. It actually might happen. If I get started, I will do it. I might not get packed, the bills might not get paid, and I just remembered I should take a shower. The fridge didn't get cleaned by the way. There is this bowl--it's a lovely bowl, a blue banded and white glass Pyrex thing--a bowl full of old hummus. Actually, it's hummus no longer, green and blue-black and white mold. That bowl is lurking on the bottom shelf, well out of sight, not a thing to worry one at all if sight is out of mind. I do sort of miss the bowl.

There is also olive brine runnded over and under the glass trays which allow viewing of the stains and onion skins and blue--really cool periwinkle color--allium mold in the vegetable drawer. The bacon needs to be thrown out. So too the plastic tub of refried black beans. The hard dried--but not moldy--cheese, but properly that's Mary's exclusively so I don't worry. The lettuce: one bag fine--at least till Thursday--and one bag already that watery brown-white liquid waiting to run through my fingers when to pick it up I'll try. God only knows how old that kefir of Mary's is. One wonders why I should worry now if this old hummus has not worried me so much yet? Furthermore, I'm the only one leaving: Mary will be here and could certainly clean the fridge if she were so pressed. But, it's a strange thing. There is something about getting on a plane, or driving far enough away to necessitate sleeping somewhere else--one night won't do it, two barely--this sleeping away is the thing, the thing to remind one of every undone chore, of every cobwebbed corner or every molding crust married to every crusty sock. I'd do it all, if I had the time, pull out and polish every nail in every stud.

But I don't have the time. For god's sake, I've not even packed yet. At some point I'll have to walk the dog. Mary then will be home from work, and so few hours to smell her hair and listen to her talk to put hot water bottles under the sheets and light candles and christmas lights and try to be sweet. If only I were more organized and had this all in a list. If it were a job I'd be on each thing, soon done with all things, I swear.

I should get. Trying to not let six months pass without a post. I suppose I could always post my school work, but goddamnit, boring enough to write the first time, much less to read. I could post unsent letters, the living and the dead. That would be strange.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


I'm not dead, though if I were I'd like to think I'd have more time for things like maintaining a blog. Different calendar, different clock. Truthfully, after fall semester started and with a new job I haven't even had time for wool gathering. Piles and piles of wool waiting to be gathered, getting matted into felt, full and fuller.

We got a dog too, August, right at the end of August. The Rice country humane society chose her name and we were disinclined to change it. And yes, despite the name, she's a she. Nice, silly and time hungry dog. Sheds a great deal

Suddenly with the semester break and my kitchen floor is actually mopped, there are clean sheets on the bed and even the tub might lose its soap scum patina this afternoon.

I miss good food. Never eaten so shitty for so long in my life. Right now I wish I could eat wood, this tree down in my yard. Three hundred dollars before Christmas to have it taken off the neighbors fence and I passed on the fees for cutting, chipping, hauling. Just down and a lot of wood. How strange a thing that a tree, for many millions of years, a normal entity with integrity--an expected, even desired part of the landscape--suddenly, because of a fence being built under it and cables strung beneath it, a tree becomes a nemesis, a pest, an impediment, an expensive reminder of entropy. It was an ash tree, badly rotted at the heart of its base, but full of wet wet heavy green wood above. Half is still standing, and must come down--one can see light through the curtain of xylem on which it balances. Unfortunately, the my and my neighbor's power lines have to be dropped for those good times and they aren't able to come out till after Christmas. And when, that will be another five hundred, plus tax. I seriously need to find a way to make more money.

Not saying much am I? But not dead, though a lazy, non-posting, bad webizen. May soon think of things to share and find pretty words to hang on them. Of course, anyone is welcome to poke me with a stick (email), to see if I'm just sleeping.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Autumn in August

Summer forgot about us. It's cold here in Minnesota. It shouldn't be in the forties in the middle of August, but it is. Poor pumkins. Growers say what are normally the size of basketballs by this time rather resemble golf balls. You probably could get away with growing lettuce or broccoli throughout this summer. It does make me smile though to hear people complain about it. Normally this time of year one hears bitter comments on all sides about the sweltering conditions. Strange and a little bit sad though, to feel it's autumn and hardly have noticed the summer.

Mary and I are going with a group of her friends to Wisconsin tomorrow, to the Bois Brule river. A few days of floating and sleeping on the ground. Will be nice, I think. Nice anyway to wake up smelling like wood smoke, damp or not. Showers predicted for each day :) Going to miss a couple of classes though, which feels irresponsible.

Bois Brule, Mary's dad informs me, means burnt wood in French. Apparently it was what French settlers called Native Americans, once upon a time. So far removed from the time and the daily usage, it is impossible to know if it was used with derision, if it was pejorative, or not. Funny thing about words. I'm told the section of river we'll follow has lots of Class I and II rapids, with a couple of Class III. I, of no experience on rivers, will be walking around the last I think. No one ever drowned--or lost one's kit--on a portage. Brule empties into Lake Superior and that is where we finish. Something deeply satisfying about that. Even if you don't leave from the headwaters, following a stream till it gives up to something greater has a beauty to it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

New Aortal Link: Tvindy

Long time ago I had a nice plan to update my Aortal link weekly. Things got off to a fine start with NoMilkPlease which continues to be an exceptional site, regularly updated, and has grown in its sophistication. Then, really just a week later, I linked Bakerina. I fully intended to continue finding and posting new sites on a weekly basis, but somehow life intervenes. Also, I'm lazy. I think I've failed to change it this long because having that link to Bakerina high up in the side bar is almost like having a book on the shelf. Unconscious spell casting and well-wishful-thinking. Ok, but I've seen the future. Not sure how, it just happens, and the very talented Bakerina will have a book out in the next two years. Believe. So, time to change links.

Of course, my new link, Tvindy, I found via Bakerina, but that's beside the point. I only started reading it recently and have been impressed by how well it lives up to its description, A Blog About Nearly Everything. I still don't understand the name Tvindy, but I haven't tried to find out. Tend to take names at face value. I was led to the blog by the voice articulated in comments he's left on other sites, and have not been at all disappointed since. I found the thoughts of a down to earth, extremely smart young man interested in nearly everything, but without an obsessive need to show off. Haven't communicated with him directly, so how do I really know, but I just get the impression this is a person you would have to really like who has interesting things to say, and says them well.

Also, in quite an astounding contrast to me, he's a high quality and impact linker. If a post mentions little house on the prairie, expect a picture and a link. If it mentions cockroaches, a lovely huge picture of cockroaches and so forth.

Tvindy had a filthy refrigerator at one point, but God knows he must drink a lot of orange juice. And made friends with a scrub jay. I was excited to see this post because I haven't seen a scrub jay since I left Fresno.

Anyway, I'm horseshit at this kind of thing. In the main trying to say this guy has a great blog, the kind of blog to which I'd aspire if I were of a mind to aspire. I'm glad I found it. Tvindy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

My dad as grub

And this is a picture of my dad...long time ago. Box from Danish Creamery Butter shields him.

Mokey with the mango runs

Okay, hooking up hardware is simple, easy, plug in, and on so. Right? What a fucking pain in the ass when everything decides to hang and deceive and mislead, and why? Because some horseshit software tack-on wants to be registered and then silently, invisibly, tries for fifteen minutes and is, finally, unable. That's all. What a sack of monkey shit. The kind with the unripe mango runs. The kind of sack with a wide weave. The kind that sweats shit water running down your calves. Burlap or hemp fiber, or some damn jute thing, but full of monkey feces all the same. And these monkeys! Lord, what have they been eating? Week old aoli left in the sun?

Sometimes, no matter their magic, I hate how pathetically wnt-to-be-brilliant-helpful-and-pleasing computers and software are. It always comes down to some idiotic half-wit full-shit trying to get you to accidentally agree to be on the mailing list of every fuck-shit in the industry--and that's the crappy panty that hangs!

Ok, and anyway, several months of wading through half digested Lunchables--they're never fully digested, are they? How could they be? I mean, they sit on the shelf, in plastic boxes, in the warm air of supermarket ailses, the meat and the cheese--but several long moments later, my scanner works again. This is a picture of me as a shaver, doing something quite fun.


Stumbled on this site via a comment on, christ don't remember, on someone's blog. But, it is great, in any case. It's not so hard to search a particular artist and find examples on the web, but it is fun to browse too, hence the Artcyclopedia. Blue Horses is one of my favorite paintings of all time, and I don't know if it's there. I should go check, but I feel my washing maching swelling, vibrating in the floorboards. Everything being about laundry lately.


This is my hand. One can tell it's a hand. Hands trip me out sometimes, all that they see, so to speak. Hands are in everything, unlike the back of one's neck. The nape sees some good times to be sure, but it also spends quite a lot of life being a place for hairs and shirt tags to irritate. I like people's hands anyway. I look at a hand and wonder what the owner is like. Hard working, hard living, kind to animals, secret glutton, nose picker--that sort of thing. Looking at my hand from the outside, I'd say sausage maker. I don't make sausages, not at all. But from this picture, my fingers look the sort that loiter round the nozzle of a grinder catching casing and whirling it into links.

Trying to think about hooking up my scanner. We've lived here a year and I've yet to unpack it. Hrm.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Playing with new blogger

Goofing around with uploading pictures and things. Changed the pictures link over in the sidebar. Mostly seeing what's up with blogger's changes. This picture is as you walk into our house. Not much of a photo, and distorted now!, but anyway...

Friday, July 30, 2004

Old Maytags Oooh, hearing the nighthawks callin...

Old Maytags

Oooh, hearing the nighthawks calling. My favorite sound of summer, my favorite sound. Remind me to go on sometime about nighthawks and why I love them so much.

I keep forgetting my password. This happens to me with ATMs as well. Trying to remember that the last two digits are seven years removed from your ex-girlfriend's sister--and she was such a nice girl, the sister, I mean--'s birthyear--well for fuck's sake, what does one expect. Rotten passwords. I have ten or fifteen that I circulate in my head, in the web, and trying to find the right combination of password and user-id often is instructive of how useful a site or service actually is. But, I do remember blogger, don't know how it comes to me, once in a blue moon-Hah! and it is too--posting as I do.

I'm typing because I'm waiting for the washer to start its dance of hysterical suicide. I pet my washer, I do. I stroke it and cajole it and tell it what an interesting, beautiful item it is, with the white enamel, and the crytalesque knob and green, many holed--yes many!--interior. My washer is older than I am. It came with the house. It has bearing difficulties. Thumpa thumpa whack whack kafucking crush and a fire and all. But, no, it hasn't caught fire yet. I wait for the day it can do no more, the day it kisses off and dies. No matter how much I think a new washer--being the one who does all the wash--would be a good idea, I will grieve for this old Maytag. There is a reason. Though it is white, it is almost exactly the same model up with which I grew. My parents, noting the impending eruption of my brother, way back in 1969, bought a washer--and--a dryer. They were avocado green. Fuck off. I happen to love avocado green. But the point for God's sake, it's not the color, it's the model, and it's the same. The same one which lurked resentfully in the basement when Mary and I bought this house. The same one which thumps and crashes through its cycle six or so times a week. The one I'm scared to have Mary approach for fear that her disgust with bring both me and the washer into jellied states of inadequate self-awareness--No, just like that.

Anyway, I was predisposed to love my washer, even though I hate that motherfucker and would replace it in a minute if I win the Powerball. But still, I would grieve. I would grieve for the house in which we lived, for the air I once breathed, for the clean young lungs and the pure white teeth. Of for sure, I'll grieve for everyone who was alive when that was our washer, that Green mat's machine. I'll grieve, seeming like all I ever do. Pilot light demons and unfortunate smells and pegboard silhouettes and tiny windows like doorways to thin limbs with unintentioned malintentions.

Anyway, sitting here waiting for the washer to lose it, so I can run to its rescue. I should make coffee at least, and perhaps I will. This day was spent taping and mudding cracks in a ceiling, for those who really wonder what the hell is going on. It started with a harangue about body image over at Bakerina, and I'm too tired and lazy to provide a link, trusting you to find it.

And a prayer for the fates, the spinners at the wheel. I saw an egret yesterday, not an uncommon occurrence, but with the sun behind and every primary highlighted, a white chalk rubbing of brittle black lace. That bird! For fuck's sake.

Hope everyone has sweet or horny dreams, whichever suits, but no nightmares, no and none and all that.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Old new, Cashew!  Member of Poison Ivy Family, Ana...

Old new, Cashew!  Member of Poison Ivy Family, Anacardiaceae.  Sounds scary, wanting to do what to your heart?


Dish dish and wiki wiki.  Looking for some thing to say, to participate.  Getting guilty feelings for sitting in the corner playing with the dust on the windowsill.  In trouble for that still!  Anyway, yesterday was my later father's birthday.  Went okay, talking with my mother and offering such words as were there, but by bed, looking at pictures and the rough of it.  It is rough.  Fuck.  You lose like this quarter of your compass dial and you think, "East?  East, what happened to East?  It was an important direction, for God's sake.  Everything I thought I was, thought I knew--East had something to do with it.  Then, a friend of mine, Susan, lost her father a few days ago.  Echoing pain and walking in borrowed shoes and prayer offering and things. 

     But still, I promised myself I'd stay somewhat current here.  I like this thing, this blog.  I like the people I meet, and the cream rising from my head is watery tonight.  That's okay.  Poisoned cows. 

     I'm retyping, or trying to save some things from my last computer I never got around to moving.  The old comp is up in a closet, and there were many files I wanted to save, but I was out of town, in D.C. and there's too damn many things with people and asking for things, so...I did print out, at one point, a fair amount of random notes.  Not unlike this present, inked in the flesh moment.  Typing lines tonight, lines and lines and lines and falling alseep in the cathode glow.  But, I'll type something here, and I promise not to edit.  Let's be maudlin and visit the past together, eh and eh, oh.


I went down to Mictlan today.  I am getting desperate.  Bridges singing my name song and the lines seem to follow a trail of bubbles down under, under the rock and the coontail and the duckweed.  The rotting pondcabbage, what will it taste like?  Last moments, differential plant diagnosis by taste.

     But, I went down to Mictlan.  This god, this Aztec god of a death not mine, seems more approachable than mine, sometimes.  But Mictlantechutli, typically, wasn't home.  In the hard packed earth walk leading to their home I scraped plaintain from the ground with my toes.  They call this weed, "White Man's Footsteps," and that is as apt a name as has ever been given.  Of course, it is a mouthful and no one calls it that.  Everyone calls it Plantain.  Some people, under duress, to distinguish it from many other less offensive plants, will call it Plantago major.  I called it nothing that day, but scrubbed it instead, from the rusty earth with my white toe.  Fibrous roots catching sun like an inadequate toupee.  The seeds yield a powerful laxative, I'm told.  You almost certainly have consumed it, if laxatives are your thing.  Not mine, not mine thank god Dear and yet.

     In my toes, clutching a pineapple weed, came a moment, a moment of breath and dust and time forgetting to chime.  Here was a woman walking the path.  Not a relative of the Aztec God of Death I was sure.  Here was a woman unclad, or never clad, but wearing the most interesting beating light.  Here were her young breasts, not large, not egregious, but held up none the less by thousands of fluttering wings.  Butterflies.  Monarchs and viceroys beating orange dust into black covered pink nipple kisses making impossible to think, and painted ladies doing their best to do just that.  Swallowtails trailing sweet breaths to her belly.

     I never noticed what she wore below the navel, as the wings tickled the entired world and me, inside, despite.  I thought, "Jesus, this is something.  This is something wonderful.  How nasty a bra, how profane."

     I thought we had met, perhaps.  There was that sense of familiarity.  These eyes I had swum before, so I asked.

     "Do they tickle?  The butterflies?"

     "Yes," she said simply. 

     "Oh," I said.

     "It's after urea they come.  The salts.  They taste with their feet, you know."  She smiled, the wrinkle and the nose and the eyelight.  "But they eat with their mouths."  Serious.

     "Oh," I said.  "Jesus.  It's beautiful."

     She smiled, and it was.  Beautiful.

     "Jesus would have liked the butterflies," she said.  "If he had thought of them."

     I said, "Oh.  Oh!"


So I went home to talk to the cat.  The cat doesn't need a bra and never talks about Jesus. 

     "I like to eat butterflies," she offered.  "When I can catch them."

     Nodding, I.

     "Like paper candy, tearing in my teeth."

     I fell asleep, depressed, on the couch, cat staring.  I dreamed of her, not her, but of the cat, with yellow swallowtail scales in her whiskers, her tongue in vibrant summber hues.  Painting her fur with tongue while she groomed.  I slept and the cat was transformed.  When I woke she sat in the trap of the window.

     "Well, can you taste through your feet now?"  I asked her.

     She blinked crumbled jade and uncoiled her tongue.  As pink and antiseptic and mammalian as it ever was.

     Hiding tears with my forearm.  The cat shifted her weight inelegantly on fur elbows.  She stared through the wire screen, stalking her dreams in sympathy.


Don't really remember when, exactly, I wrote that.  It was a dream I had of my Mary, before we were together.  Different cat.  God only knows how she is.  Still think of those butterflies, and the skin.  Anyway, best to all.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Titles and titles and piss on it What is this,...

Titles and titles and piss on it

What is this, what is this, a nose hair?  Scratching my head and climbing the walls.  How many years go by before you learn the lessons you were learning when you weren't learning anything?  Christ.

Trying to write a paper tonight.  Not due, exactly.  Due to other students, by "8 o'clock Thursday."  Bothers me that I didn't have something complete for them.  These people are not without absurdly busy-ing other committments, kids and jobs and things, but they all produced wonderful papers well before eight.  I offer, meaning no disrespect to their efforts, god help me, a three quarters, if that, finished rough as coarse sand in a bikini draft at eight--and then my e-mail didn't want any loving from Word!  Well, fuck them both.  Or rather, fuck word and fuck windows.  Actually, I don't know who was responsible.  Fuck us all.  Anyway, it's only a draft, right?  Yes, but it's the question of respect that makes me sick.  The other folks all have really nice products ready to go.  I want to applaud them--none of them know I blog, so I can applaud with immunity--and to applaud the teacher.  This is a class I'm taking to fulfill graduation requirements only, as is everyone else in there, but, but but, the teacher is great.  A surprise.  A consistent, great planning, passionate, honest teacher--in an entry level class no one takes except to fulfill requirements!  If anyone deserves respect, such a one does, and I--I with the not so great, and last minute draft.  Yeah, fuck it.  The final will be much better, it's already at work in my head.  And that's my problem.  I write shit out in some ethereal hyperspace and am lucky if the ink dries before St. Peter weighs my nuts, you know?  We'll see.  I feel like such an ass, but it's not the end of the world.

How's this for navel gazing within academics.  A paper on the efficacy of lavender, when inhaled, for reducing anxiety:

On March 19, 2004, my dad died, a few months shy of his sixty-eighth birthday.  Until a few years ago, he was as healthy as anyone wants, as happy as he wanted to be, of course, he was also a prodigous smoker.  Cancer is a mean trick, I do not wish it on anyone.  I spent much of the last year traveling or living in Washington, D.C., to be close, to help out.  Anyone who has loved someone with cancer knows helplessness.  The desire to do something, anything, to heal, to encourage, to comfort, finally to kill pain.  Larry gamely underwent absurd numbers of tests and treatments.  His original “sentence” was for two weeks.  Two years later he had reason to think he could keep going.  Unfortunately, there are times when no matter how positive you are, no matter how strong you are, life just makes you its bitch.  The last month of my dad’s life was surreal.  The details are irrelevant to the subject at hand—which, believe it or not, is about to be revealed—but in the last few months cancer affected my dad’s mental capacity in a negative and progressive way.  He was unable to reason, even to recognize common things, or use speech effectively.  However, he was clearly aware of these defects, and of their progressive nature.  He was aware that his life had come to the one place he wanted to avoid—incontinent, demented, painful weakness—but with incoherence making it impossible to communicate a desire to continue treatment, or to cease it.  One animal to another, fear is very plain.  We do not need language to know when a cat is scared, when a dog is scared, when a cornered raccoon is afraid and unpredictable.  We recognize fear, and when we see it in those we love, who does not wish to alleviate it?  Larry was very anxious.  In his case, our doctors presented the options, drugs, or nothing.  Valium and morphine—both with lots of unpleasant side effects such as constipation, disassociation, nightmares, addiction and withdrawls—or, nothing?  Well….

     Before he had become too debilitated, Larry had regularly driven himself from our home in the center of D.C. out to a holistic massage center in the suburbs.  At a certain point, when he began chemotherapy, they refused treatment, but they did give him a vial of the massage oil, a blend, primarily lavender.  For the last two weeks of his life, confused and panicked, one of the only ways Larry could calm down enough to fall asleep was if I suggested he deeply inhale holding the bottle of oil under his nose.  He indicated it was both pleasant and relaxing, that it made him feel calm.  Yes, it was transitory—in contrast to the Valium which knocked him out for hours—but he was able to be present.  When you only have a couple weeks left with your loved ones, being present matters—one hopes it matters at other times as well.  My mother and my brother were somewhat skeptical of the aroma treatment—combined with hopefully soothing speech and, at times, a straight lavender massage of incredibly dry legs—but no one as sleep deprived as we wanted to argue with results.     Despite the circumstances, and the following weeks and funeral planning and paper shredding and catch as can grieving, I wondered about that oil.  I wonder still what was happening inside that poor man’s head, if some chemical signal was affecting the neural pathways governing anxiety and sleep.  Did it really help him?  Was the aroma of lavender truly effective to calm him, or was it only the attention, the soothing words?  That is really the question then, does a treatment help?  Does it have side effects?  Are you being misled, poisoned, sold on false promises, or scholarly unease in admitting impotence?  Those are the sorts of questions one asks regularly while undergoing treatment for cancer.  How you hope something works!  How you grasp at studies and clinical trials, how you argue with doctors and insurance companies over efficacy of some barely studied regimine.  Compared to studying treatments for cancer, the use of lavender to effect anxiety seems a simple subject.  One finds the research to be inconsistent, contradictory, confusing, and colored by desire and economics.  But what about average healthy people?  If I’m feeling anxious, can a whiff of lavender help me get through a test, a job interview?  Can it help tire the hamster in the wheel of worries which gets going every night as I go to bed?

No, don't worry.  There are about twenty journal articles scattered around me know, actually relevant to the subject.  It's just that I care about writing...and I care about research...but writing about research--how, once you find the answer, are you supposed to care enough to argue persuasively your findings?  I could just tell everyone in the class that, yes, lavender is probably effective at reducing anxiety, but that the effects will vary depending on your condition and your duration of exposure.  That's fucking it!  That's it about anything.  The rest of it is arguing about the color of dog shit, as my father used to say.  Brown...or is it, taupe!?!

Who knows, who knows.

Treading water, as usual.  Inch and a half long jalapeno.  Excited.  Once, with rows of peppers, now with one plant, and it's even more exciting.  Good lord, it's still quite the daylight here in St. Paul, and a family of six racoons, mother and children just foamed between my garage and the neighbor's fence, to ghost across her yard and down the bluff.  What are they doing out at this hour?

Friday, July 16, 2004

Nasturtiums and Watermelons   Hmm, it's been a...

Nasturtiums and Watermelons


Hmm, it's been almost two months since I last updated.  I suppose an explanation should be in order, especially for those kind enough to have been checking in or commenting, but...what story isn't long and the telling of which too exhausting?  Fate seems to be stalking people I love.  Combine that with summer, with remodeling, with school with balancing on a delicate thread of happiness and forward progress--sometimes even if thoughts are there, where's the energy to get them out?  Besides, the problem with a public blog is that it's public.  Not being anonymous, there're lots of things I realize I can't share here, something I never considered when I started this.  One starts a little blog thinking no one will ever read it.  Suddenly, everybody knows your business and you think damn, I should have worn a mask to this party.  Anyway....


Looking out this window at nasturtiums.  Profligate, cheerful, silly, wild and rank in a harmless way.  I love nasturtiums, through the summer.  Only come the first touch of frost and a slimy, ropy mess to  wrap around rakes and choke compost piles, but at least that is some time off.


My mother's birthday today, not that she'll read this but happy birthday to her.  We talked recently about the slightly poisonous mix of love and memory.  All of our birthdays are in July and August.  My brother's the day before my father's.  How do you celebrate without sadness.  Modern life, sitcom society and the absence of the sacred.  Our people really need myths, need some framework for ancestors and gods to make reality bearable if not comprehensible. 


Mary wanting a dog.  We think and wonder about mutts and breeds and query the clawless cat, wishing a dog would just knock at the door and present itself as dogs have in the past.  How do you approach fate and who will take the blame?  I am starting to think that a life intentionally lived is just the hardest damn thing.


There are very bright yellow flowers on Mary's watermelons.  Given the lateness of the season, perhaps we won't be eating of these plants, but the flowers are welcome and the vines seems sure they will take over the world.  Half assed attempt to throw some vegetables in the ground this year.  We have so many things we need to do to this house, that many things are just nudges in the right direction.  A pot of geraniums here, a pepper plant there.  I think Mary will definitely have peppers and tomatoes, maybe miniature pumpkins--enough for me at any rate.  Perfectionism sucks.


I really should take some pictures.  Just making a stab here to stay open.  Get in the habit of babbling again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Cutworms and tomatillos and things Cutworms. S...

Cutworms and tomatillos and things

Cutworms. Strange life for these grubs, eating away under the sod, making a space in perpetual darkness. I've been tearing away chunks of lawn still. Mary has a great love of a plant I don't know, variously called persian jewels, nigella, or love-in-a-mist. So yesterday with the sifting out of rhizomes and lopping off tree roots and piling sod in the back of our lot. A half moon of new fluffy earth next to our front walk and we'll see if the tiny black seeds like it enough. And the chinese lanterns. We popped in a bunch of annuals to hold the eye until her seeds sprout.

Chinese lanterns are a fun way to acknowledge family relationships among plants. Consider a tomatillo, papery husk and yellow seed disks. Consider the same genus growing wild round here, called ground cherry, Physallis virginiana, it's like looking at fraternal twins. How can the eye not see the similarities to a pepper seed, an eggplant leaf? How can the skunky funk of these nightshade leaves, these tomato leaves, this potato, how can these olfactory threads not take one up a branching family tree wondering what mutation, what diverted river, what bit of climate change, what long flying vector--what caused the small estrangement which caused speciation? I love the diversity of the earth, even the countless asters with their constant flux on the slippery quick edge of evolution.

I should go find out what hard bodied adult does a cutworm become? Always just thought of them in terms of the curses of groundskeepers. Can't believe I don't know what the adult form is. We haven't killed many. Mary won't touch them; she passes them to me on the tip of her trowel. Just piling them with the leaves and sod at the back of our yard. Maybe they'll make it. Maybe robins will eat them and be glad for the unexpected protein. What would be able to eat these things, living as they do, locked in the soil? Moles, I suppose, maybe large burrowing beetles, though I really have no idea. I wonder if they are native to this place, to North America I mean. The grass under which they are living isn't. Poa pratensis, Kentucky blue grass, is a European cool season grass, and corrupted as my lawn is with dandelions and plantain, it is mostly Poa. Well, I might as well go find out.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

The Fugees and Saturday dawn. Washing sheets at 5...

The Fugees and Saturday dawn. Washing sheets at 5:30 a.m. is very peaceful and satisfying to hang them on the line. Snapping pillow cases and fresh mist. Outside this window watching convergence of dew point and sudden opaque fog over the river. There is Virginia waterleaf blooming and Solomon's seal unfurling at a foot and a half. I dug small hills for Mary's pumpkins yesterday. May be too late, may not. Depends on the year and the angles of the sun. We don't know each square foot of this land yet. Tearing up sod this week, setting in prairie perennials. Hopeful plants, perennials, trusting in the future.

This cup of coffee is almost empty. Have to eat and hop a bus, class at nine.

Sunday, May 2, 2004

Sunrise, Birds, Old Writings and things Somethi...

Sunrise, Birds, Old Writings and things

Something I never expected to see, and can't explain: a mourning dove being hounded and dive-bombed, chased all over these blooming oaks just after dawn. Thinking, no, that can't be a dove, must be a kestrel or some such. What could a dove do to incite the ire of a sparrow, don't know what kind? Surprised by a common chipping sparrow working the edge of my front walk. The bur oaks and white oaks up here are heavy with pollen. When I left D.C., oaks were already done and leafed out. I wonder if I brought back any pollen in my hair, or my clothes. In my lungs? Could I sneeze and bring southeastern genetic material to these northern trees? Unlikely to be an unwitting vector for a wind pollinated species, but who knows.

I just noticed, the sun rise fills the river valley first.

Cleaning up papers at my desk here, or making a show anyway. There was something I wrote years ago in response to a very small glass of wine. Wished I had it when in D.C., as my mother informed me it was my father's favorite things I'd ever written, father's day cards and elementary school essays notwithstanding. I tried to recall something of it when speaking at his service, but just found a paper copy. He never mentioned to me that it meant anything to him, but there you are, or rather, here:

I will never forget the dream I had about Bongo. The world grey and static, a frozen space and my dead dog rising from the ground to protect me. The sky was the color of olive dust, but so painfully silent.

I will never forget my first taste of Moscato d'oro. Straw colored wine. In the wind I drank the sweet humid fungus of the turf. In the glass I stepped on the plum stones of the birds' leavings. In the glass I smelled the dust of my grandfather's body. In the glass my feet sank in the greasy cool mud under the magnolia trees. In the glass I drank the harsh voices of the scrub jays and the ethereal perfume of an April orange blossom. In the glass my limbs were thin and brown and my lungs had no limit. In the glass I was making love to every moment that ever felt good in my whole life. In the glass everyone knew I loved them and nobody was dead. In the glass I chewed raw almonds under the slow moving trees which made them. In the glass I burned piles of eucalyptus leaves and buried my feet in the fine hot ash. I stood a little beyond the kitchen window in the furrow with my grandfather and spit muscat seeds at the sun. They were the best, we agreed, the best possible grape. There is no flavor which compares, no sweetness so primitively sophisticated, so muskily primal. My grandfather's favorite, my father's favorite, and mine.

I worry that when I die my jury will consist of insects. I will face a panel of crippled ants and tomato hornworms and de-winged flies.

Completely inconvenient. Fat with sugar and seeds, the muscat is not a dainty grape. It necessitates spitting. It is so good to eat that politeness will not survive, nor will conversation. It is a food of those who will eat with silent companions or will eat alone, who will stop eating only when the perfume in their heads threatens to steal their very lives. Eat the muscat and you know, without question or embarrassment or pride that you are god and the grape is god and the moment is god. The grape is your mother. The grape is your shaman. The grape is your confessor and in its embrace sin withers from lack of ambition. After so many years of working the soil I think a man turns to wind.

There was only enough wine left in the bottle for one small glass. Would I ever find another bottle? Would I ever feel that good again? It's exciting to think that you just might.

So I guess I did remember some of that well enough for Larry. It's funny, to me anyway, that way back then I was thinking about the death of Larry's father. Thinking about the time when I lived on the farm after he died. I was having strange dreams. The wine was Moscato d'oro by Mondavi. A couple fingers left in the last bottle of a case forgotten in the bottom of a cooler at a restaurant where I worked. I think it was a 1990, or 91, though when I found it, 1996 maybe? I did find and buy that wine again, but no doubt it was never quite the same.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Back home, drinking coffee, watching Saint Paul gr...

Back home, drinking coffee, watching Saint Paul green up. There is some warbler working an ash tree in my backyard. Also a black cat with white throat jumping early nettles and harassing a squirrel. Yellow rumpeds, now several of them. Cold morning, but they seem to be doing well gleaning, one is doing a bit of hawking. A great blue heron going by, following the river. Though this house has problems innumerable, being on a bluff, overlooking the river valley, with open sky over the riparian corridor is a great compensation.

This Saturday morning listening to The Garden of Zephirus: Courtly songs of the early fifteenth century, Gothic Voices with Christopher Page director. This is one of my all time favorite recordings. It's one of those rare things which survives association. My mother gave it to me one Christmas when I was still living with my ex who killed herself. I played it non stop for a certain period and she too was very fond of it. Despite this, these voices singing very simple love songs, ballads and rounds move me into dreamtime and peacetime and open source godness. Chocolate melting on the tongue, strawberry kisses, warm sun soaking into skin. I love this music.

J'atendray tant qu'il vous playra

A vous declarer ma pensee,

Ma tres chiere dame honouree;

Je ne say s'il m'en desplayra.

I will wait as long as you wish

before declaring my thoughts to you,

my most dear and honoured lady;

I do not know if I will suffer for it.

I said they were very simple songs, but interesting that love songs haven't changed much in six hundred years.

Getting used to the idea of being here, rhythyms and smells and Mary, phone calls and mail. This city is so different from Washington, it's like being in a different country.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Dangerous Caves Teenagers died of carbon monoxi...

Dangerous Caves

Teenagers died of carbon monoxide poisoning in bluff caves down the street from my house.

And I was just thinking about these caves last week. From what I hear, every teenager and his kid sister that grows up in Saint Paul spends a little time peeking in a cave. It would be impossible not to, I'd think. This is a godawful sad story. City mothers and fathers keep talking about sealing off the caves. They've been boarding them up for years and it's never worked. I can't blame the kids for being curious...Why am I babbling?

Here is a city. Here is part of its history, these man made and not so man made hollows and deeps carved in the bluffs, obscured by roads above, by the very grid of streets and lots and survey markers, stop lights and Dairy Queens. The news: the Apprentice, American Idol, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and of course, Iraq. We are a species which evolved in a specific context. Depending on where one draws the line, our minds and emotions are a process over a million years old. For all but ten thousand of those years, natural selection operated on us in a context of selecting for traits--both physical and mental--which increased fitness in an environment of grasslands, forest edges, rocks and sun and rivers. No bridges, no dams, no hydroponic produce, no freeways and commutes, school busses, and no T.V.

Why are we surprised when kids want to explore caves? There's a confused avatar in every one of us wondering why all the skills and thoughts, loves and dreams which got us through the last million years are no longer relevant. One could argue that good sense, certainly selected for in any environment, should have told these teenagers to listen to the advice of their elders and stay the fuck out of the caves. The advice come down on a ratty sign--we get a lot of exposure to signs. We haven't exactly learned that it is worthwhile to trust our 'elders'. Sign your draft card, it's good for you--take a DDT shower, it's harmless--there are WMD in Iraq, that's why we have to bomb the shit out of it--See what I mean?

Here a natural inclination toward curiosity and wonder. Here a society which practically ignores the existence of nature, and demonstrates daily through distribution of resources that its priorities are anywhere but in the respect for and appreciation of the natural. I know most of the kids who wander down to the river, or to the caves, or just away, do so to drink and get laid, but once again we're talking about natural impulses. The attempt by all things paternal to pretend that there's a 'good' and a 'bad' and that if we all just said 'No,' and 'Abstain, abstain,'--Well this is all just a crock of shit, isn't it? Wouldn't it make more sense to consider the context in which we evolved? To set aside horseshit moral judgments which split souls and fill people with guilt and shame leading to perverted behavior, set aside the hateful, puritanical desire to control life, and at least acknowledge reality--wouldn't it make sense to educate kids about nature and their place in it?

Yeah, I know this was about caves. It was the city's reaction to this incident which set me off. Board them up and tell kids, "No." It's just like our government refusing to contribute our share to U.N. family planning efforts because those efforts include education about and distribution of birth control. To me, it's the same as refusing to teach sex education in schools, pretending that sex doesn't exist, that if we don't talk about it, nothing bad will happen. That everyone has his or her secrets, but a Slut is the one who gets caught, or pregnant. The city wants to board up the caves and basically pretend they don't exist. Tragic when teenagers die, but people always say, "They shouldn't have been there--didn't they see the caves were posted?" The cave in question was probably man made, as settlers often carved homes and warehouses out of the bluff, but they've become naturalized in many ways, being of living stone and no longer having a function for man. The impetus to explore them surely is natural. Whenever there is a tragedy such as this, I can't help but think the truly sad thing is that the kids knew so little about caves--or river currents, or riptides, or mountain lions, or lightning--that they had no idea how to survive. Then, instead of realizing that we should be curious about such things, that it's in our nature to be, instead of teaching our children what plants are poisonous, or taking them to the river to learn its ways, we sign them up for pre-school and hockey camp. Sunday School may be great for passing on one's mythology, but it is not a fucking substitution for sex ed. Not teaching a child about the beauty and danger of the natural world--without moral judgment--is like living in a house and not knowing where is the gas shut-off, the circuit breakers, the water main. Saying that sex education encourages immoral behavior is as silly as saying that teaching a child not to stick a fork in a socket is morally wrong, then branding the kid that gets zapped a loose little slut and blaming him or her.

So, was all this about caves, or morality? One could say I should organize my thoughts before sharing them, and one would be right, but I have to go pack and figure out those things I have to do before I go. The things I'll regret if I forget. Stand in a room and see my dad in these familiar things, smell him in his drawers, hear him in loose floorboards and querulous pipes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Back to Saint Paul This Thursday coming. And w...

Back to Saint Paul

This Thursday coming. And what will I find? Will the cat be the same color, will she have two tails, will all my friends be in the psych ward or in jail? Looking forward and afraid too, it's been nine weeks of tremendous strangeness. Bound to have an effect.

Setting a date and busy all of a sudden. Trying to beat the lightening right now, beat the rain, with lace whipping at my face and silver undersides of new leaves gesturing in metalanguage that every sentence I write is true.

Thursday I'll be going. Nine weeks is a long time. The first month with Larry feels like another country, another language, another body. Long time to be away from Mary, from my cutting board and Mr. Clean and my mop and knives. Be fun to have certain things again, put up some fresh pictures, plant fragrant green things.

Rather than writing, I have a lot to do. Still shredding and crushing and sorting. Trying to empty drawers, prevent for my mother nasty surprises. Trying to save those things that ought to be saved, that come a gently sad day might be looked at and a man or a marriage a young love remembered with just enough gladness not to be killing.

Of course, at the moment there's the commode, the Isosource, the walker, the shower chair. I had suggested the day after he died calling a charity and having them pick up all these things, and chestnut loafers besides. But, there were other plans and other minds and so a day before I leave I'm making sure these things are gone, one way or the other. A truly practical family would save a shower chair, a walker, knowing that a time will come for another of us but...we are not a practical family and some practicality is just too cold, even for me. Though if I had a shed, and a place where they'd never be seen....I did offer to sell them as they're all perfectly good, but when you've watched your husband or your father going completely to hell, falling to pieces, there's just things you can't stand to look at again, or think about.

I believe in ritual. I believe in transformation. If I had an open field, I'd burn all of this, plastic and fumes notwithstanding. Still would make more sense to me to have a charity come get these things and put them to use. Something like that, I'm walking them over to the nursing home and that will be that.

Fuck, I have a lot to think about, going back to Saint Paul. Strange feeling of being nineteen again, having been at home for so long, with the season breathing on me and days without timecards. An opportunity then, I hope to see what change brings.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Three Question Meme Found at Snowball, who fou...

Three Question Meme

Found at Snowball, who found it at the Mommy Blog...I shouldn't get myself into this. I didn't know memes, as such, existed until recently and now I'm a fool for them. And, thanks to aethele, I now know how to use trackback. Seems a bit of fun.

Quote from the original post:

I want everyone who reads this to ask me three questions, no more no less. Ask me anything you want. Then I want you to go to your journal, copy and paste this allowing your friends (myself included) to ask you anything. (Do a trackback ping so that I know you copied it.)

And that's that.