Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Dinner guests are especially welcome when they come bearing gifts. Mike had a jar of pickled okra and a little jar of smoked mussels, Shaun had a half bottle of Jameson for me to carry on a couple of hikes, but Drew had brought me a big bag of chantarelles. They're in the food dryer now, as I actually prefer them dried and reconstituted in white wine. I'll have an omelet tomorrow. We drank an entire bottle of Buffalo Trace last night, and I was a bit disoriented this morning when the phone rang. The library, and they had a book for me. I cleaned up from the dinner party, then cleaned myself and shaved; a lovely day, cooler, which doesn't bode well (this new pattern, the polar vortex, brings below zero temps in winter), but it's a nice day to drive along the river, with the windows down, smelling the roadside flowers. Got my book, a tome of Faulkner short stories, and stopped at the pub for a snack and a pint. They have an appetizer that I often get there, salsa and pita chips, when I'm between meals. Shaun came in, and while we were talking, Sara came in, in town for a week and thought I might be there. I introduced them, but then Shaun had to leave, closing on a house or something. Sara and I talked for an hour, and it was wonderful. Stopped at the museum, to touch base with TR, and had very brief conversations with Charlotte and Mark. What I liked most, about being at the museum, with Sara and D, is that we all had fun. The new guard doesn't see fun as part of the equation. It's a business, goddamn, get to the bottom line. If all your daughters are prostitutes, you should be able to make a profit. My first impulse is to add several commas, to clarify a situation. I can't imagine that Joel, for instance, would give a shit, in the midst of dialysis, but he calls to clarify a point. What can I say? I have good friends that keep me out of trouble. Read more...


I like to make a dressing based on a home-made mayo, a drizzle of sorghum molasses, some dry mustard, a few other things. Cabbage is neutral, you either pickle it, or dress it, or dance out in the rain. It's either slaw, a cool mouth-full, something slightly sweet and crunchy, or something soggy and way too acidic. I lean toward the slaw. Sweet rather than sour. A romantic, after all, without a sense of shame. I look forward to spending an evening with Drew and Michael. If I see B tomorrow, I'll ask him up:

The chickory blooms
And it's hard to not notice
dark clouds building.

Yes, the leaves bend;
bending is just part of
coming into line.

The weather held, Drew was able to drive in with no problem; and they came with gifts, good whiskey, and a couple of exotic foodstuffs for my winter larder. The new guy, Shawn, was an absolute delight, Irish, and well versed: when the conversation clicks into line, you just go with it. I was pretty well on my game. Dinner was good. I rubbed the tenderloins with wasabi, then a dry mix. Michael finished the potatoes in butter. I see nothing wrong with the fact that we drank an entire bottle of bourbon. Under the circumstances, it seems exactly correct. I fed us well, and I loved watching how everyone tore off pieces of bread and sopped up the last of the sauce. There are very real ways in which I'm merely a vector for the sauce. When you watch grown men sop every last trace of a particular sauce, your sauce, what you'd brought to the table, it's hard to not be proud. I'll tell you the truth, I almost wept.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Curious Foodstuffs

Have you ever seen one of that invasive species, the Giant African Snail? I think it comes from Madagascar. These are big honkers, 6 to 8 inches long, and thick. One will feed a family of four. Getting rid of the slime is a chore, but vinegar and blanching make it possible. The only one I ever cooked, I made a very nice curry. I read several essays about cooking dogs and cats today. I've eaten cat on several occasions, cougar, but never a house cat, and I've never eaten dog. I spent half the day reading very strange recipes, some of which were revolting, rolling offal forcemeats into stomach linings. Dogs have been eaten for a very long time; that Mexican hairless dog is hairless for a reason. And domestic cats are said to cook very much like coons. Not that I care. I have no intention of cooking tabby. The reading extended into the eating of birds. This has always been of interest to me, because I wondered how you deal with the bones, and I finally found an answer in a Roman recipe, for cooking small birds. Sparrow size, I can tell from the context; the legs and the beak are cut off, the birds are fried, and you dip them in this incredible sauce made from rotting fish parts. You eat them bones and all. Anything larger, a Starling, for instance, there are going to be larger bones, and you have to suck the meat off them and throw the bones in a midden. Oysters or rabbits, the detritus fills the space allowed; when the pile gets too high, you just move on, down the line. Shell-piles are often the only high ground, 35,000 years of eating oysters has created a barrier reef. Just one reason I was happy to be tapped to talk about habitation. I actually know something about it, I chose to live this way. The brain trust from the University is coming out tomorrow night, more degrees than you could shake a stick at, and they're bringing a bottle of single-malt. They want to be fed, and they want the sauce, which is a good thing because the sauce needs to be resurrected. I'll do a couple of rubbed tenderloins on the grill and cook a few pounds of baby potatoes, finished in a skillet with butter and herbs, Cole-slaw, and french bread. The new guy they're bringing might be a vegetarian, so I'll pick up a black-bean patty. Drew and Mike are fine with meat and potatoes, as long as they have the sauce, which has become legendary in these parts. I'll use this opportunity to pasteurize it again and fill it out with some wine and juice marinades I'd been saving. It's ten years old, and needs the occasional kick in the ass. I'll need to clean off the table, and move a few boxes of books, the house is a mess, but I don't care. It should be lively conversation, which is high on my list of ways to spend your time, and I'm only sorry Glenn won't be here, to record it all, and bring his intelligence to the table. Or Linda and Glenn, so that Linda could be part of the conversation that Glenn would be filming, because I always love where she takes the conversation. I don't, nor does anyone else, explain why I should be a locus for very smart people exchanging their ideas. Maybe it's only that I'm a good cook. They put up with my bullshit to eat my ribs, or the sauce, whatever. Read more...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fish Balls

Set up for a little experimentation. I haven't done this since I cooked the history of crab cakes for my mother and brother several years ago. I'd read about some kind of Scandinavian fish ball. I'd also been reading about frying crickets and grasshoppers and I'd caught a few larger green grasshoppers in the last few days, which I was keeping alive in an aquarium with a screen top. Samara and I used to keep exotic frogs. And I figured I could fry the grasshoppers in the oil after I had done my fish balls. Peanut oil is expensive, and I also intended to cook some fishy french fries before I threw it out. Grasshoppers are 50% protein. Any white flaky cooked fish is fine, catfish, cod, pollack, whatever is cheap. Buy the frozen fillets, poach them in white wine with some lemon juice and rosemary. I used instant mashed potatoes because I didn't want to spend another day considering potatoes, made a batch in the morning, and let them set out, so they would dry a bit. Finely minced a couple of shallots and part of a sweet red pepper, caramelized them, then made several generations of fried fish balls. They don't need breading, the potato browns readily; and they don't need anything but a squeeze of lemon. My favorite, I think, too many fish balls jade the brain, were the flounder, delicate and almost sweet. I had the second one with a garlic mayo and it was the highlight of my day. To prepare a grasshopper or cricket you pull off the wings and the small legs, I think this is just because they tickle the tongue, then you pinch the head and pull out the viscera attached. Let them dry in the sun for a couple of hours, and fry them in fish oil. Quite good, nutty. The fries were exceptionally good, complex and crisp, and I swirled them in that same garlic mayo. I read an Elmore Leonard, at the island, while I was playing with this, and his dialogue had me laughing out loud. Most minnows are a species of carp, if they're longer than two inches, I clip off their head and gut them, if they're smaller than that I don't bother, roll them in corn flour and fry them. I gotta go, big thunder storms. Tornado warnings. Read more...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sunday Rant

Not so much anymore, but I used to regularly vent anger or frustration in response to something I'd hear on the Sunday morning NPR news. I enjoyed doing it, kept me in touch with Ciceronian rhetoric. Sometimes it could be quite funny, Mad-Hatterish. Alexis ('I ward off'), is the patron saint of hermits and beggars, according to Brewer, quoting a 13th century manuscript, "he lived on his father's estate as a hermit until he died but was never recognized. He may, in fact, have never existed". This is why I read in Brewer almost every day. Met TR for lunch and we talked music, then stopped at B's on the way home and had a beer. We talked about bad writing. I picked up a few ticks, from his bushwhacking clothes that were draped over the chair I foolishly sat on. Driving home, I was thinking about the deep south, the time I spent there as a kid, and then later, when I spent a decade grubbing out a living. Time well spent, Post Doctoral studies in human interaction; and the beginning of fifteen years with goats. I don't begrudge a minute of it. Paula Poundstone famously said "I was born in Alabama, but I only lived there a month before I'd done everything there was to do". Not to beat a dead mule. Another line of storms moving through, tonight and tomorrow. Hollow soundless flashes of light to the northwest. I set out my kit, a headlamp, a candle, a double Irish whiskey, my tobacco, the book I'm currently reading, and arrange a small platter of finger food, kimchee, olives and cheese, some very good salami, pickled hard-boiled quail eggs. I cover it with foil and wait for the lights to go out. I have some very good unsalted tortilla chips, free-range, shade-grown, 100% organic, passed through the gut of a pig, eaten by a chicken, passed again, roasted, and sold as premier aged coffee beans. Wait. What? Twice shit and labeled as new. I was never sure there was a contract. I just keep on, as if there was an agreement. I laugh and have to go. Read more...


The three crows were not happy, yesterday, that I didn't have micro-waved mice for them in the morning. The mice have moved outdoors, I haven't caught one in weeks, but try and explain that to a crow. This morning there was birdshit all over the Jeep. I only noticed it, walking over to the head of the driveway to look at some spectacular clouds in the east. The sun was just breaking above them, the mocking bird was singing the towhee phrase, a lovely morning in every regard, except that the crows were there, in the half-dead tree that marks the beginning of the path to the graveyard. And they were messing with me, flapping their wings and cawing. Crows are smart birds. The word 'birdbrain' springs to mind, what I was called at various points in my life, which ended when the jocks, in high school, liked me, because the cheerleaders told them I was cool. I suppose I was, though a recluse even then. Not a complete recluse, I was the state champion public speaker, several times, but I spent a lot of time alone. In Portsmouth, Virginia, where, for the first time, I could go to the library by myself, I'd take home the legal limit. Raymond Carver hated to write, but loved to rewrite. I'm just the opposite. Though it probably would be more accurate to say that the writing and the rewriting happen within a single fixed period. Indeterminate period. Longer than you might think; but because I have those periods, long spaces of time, that I can just toss around; look up words, dance a dervish, maybe speak in tongues or spend an hour with a comma. We should get the first vine-ripened local tomatoes tomorrow. Tomato sandwiches, with just mayo, salt and pepper, a bowl of kimchee on the side. I always carry a small bottle of Andy's hot sauce, in case I get stuck somewhere, an elevator or something, I might have some crackers, hidden in a pocket, we could talk. Later, I get up to pee and turn off the AC, there's an owl, then a train, over in Kentucky. It's a great duet. Heart wrenching in the dark. Either the blues or a very depressing country song. I use my headlamp to go get a wee dram and roll a smoke, sink back into the shadow, listen to the night sounds. Farmer's market tomorrow (later today) and the sweet corn is in. I make a dish, fried corn with bacon, peppers, and onions that have been caramelized; also, a creamed corn soup that I usually serve cold, with a dollop of sour cream. Sweet corn and local tomatoes, done died and gone to heaven. The next eight or ten weeks is all about local vegetables. I put some things aside, some turnips, some sweet potatoes, and dry some tomatoes and mushrooms. Next winter seems manageable. I make a ratatouille to die for, and I know when to press my case. I can surf a standing wave forever. Heat lightening, I'd better go. Read more...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reading Headache

After eight hours of sitting at my desk, I took a walk along the logging road. I had a headache, which is rare for me, and needed some air. Beautiful outside, shafts of light coming through the canopy.The green still holding, with all the recent rain. Blackberries everywhere, and I carried a plastic coffee can hanging from my neck so I could use both hands, and I'm a little bloody by the time I get back to the house. Rinsed off, then rinsed again with alcohol; it smarted a bit and I cursed like a sailor for a few minutes, while I picked off some ticks and got a cold beer. Getting a cold beer and cursing struck me as funny. I need to sling-blade a couple of paths, to the outhouse, to the woodshed, to where I park the Jeep; and it would be nice to clear a fire lane, but I'm so involved right now, that I can't seem to do anything else. I'm thinking about an emergency run the library tomorrow because I've already read all of the books I'd gotten for the weekend. I have twenty or thirty books I haven't read, in a neat pile, on top of a crate I liberated from Thomas Jefferson's father's orchard, but they're books I was saving for winter. Part of the larder. I read two books again today. I'm not sure if that's a good sign or not. Part of me says get a life, and the other part of me leans toward a tree-trip pit. Fucking dogs are yipping down on the road, and I hope they don't come up the driveway, I hate being disturbed. I already had my sling-shot out, a cat's eye marble in the pouch. I'm tired of wild dogs and excuses. That whole thing about the snakes, St. Patrick and the snakes in Ireland, come on, Ireland was covered completely in ice, the snakes were all gone. Getting rid of nothing isn't much of an accomplishment. Read more...

Rough Music

Plutarch says that Homer died of chagrin because he couldn't solve a certain riddle. Rough music, in England, was the clanging of pans and such, in the yard of someone who had breached propriety. To town, for lunch with TR and talk opera. Actually he ate lunch and I just had a draft as I'd had a monster protein shake for a late breakfast. My schedule is screwed right now, because I'm getting up at three or four in the morning and writing for an hour or two then going back to bed. A couple of very nice messages today saying that I'd been outstandingly good at the writer's festival. I knew at the time that everyone liked me, mostly, I think, because I come from outside their purview, not being an academic, but it was nice to hear. I like a kind word as well as the next guy. TR was in good form. He seems to have a plan. I've been reading about fireflies. Many different varieties, and they emerge at different times in the night. The males put on the light show, and the females wait in the grass, when they see a light they like (I'm guessing here) they illuminate, things are consummated, and we have another generation of fireflies. Life should be so simple. Death is a failure in the system, so what would be a death of chagrin? Heart failure, probably, or forgetting to breathe. At TR's wedding, there were so many beautiful people I nearly died of apoplexy. You could die of longing, I suppose, or of embarrassment. I was writing the lyrics for a country song tonight, TR had tasked me, and I'd gotten to the place where she went away and took the dog, a heart-breaking chorus about pawning your Daddy's guitar. One thing I noticed, doing serious opera, was that the lyrics sucked. The singers just wanted good words to sing. The composer, task-master that he is, is concerned with the beat. I went for a nice walk, in the afternoon, got a few mushrooms, considered my dinner menu. Ate a small streak with a gravy it took more than hour to prepare, I was reading at the island, who cares how long it took. Later, I was having a wee dram and smoking a cigaret, a noir figure, probably perched in the doorway, none of it made any sense. It started to rain again. Patter song on a Quonset hut. I love the way it sounds. Little gusts of wind. Read more...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Of course it's vaguely possible I'm an alien, review the evidence, I came from nowhere, after all. Being a Navy Brat could serve as a cover story. My first memory is rain on a Quonset Hut, which, I'm told, was when I was three, on a base in Maryland. I started reading when I was very young, traded all of my baseball cards for a complete set of Classics Illustrated, bugged my parents to buy a set of encyclopedias, and I'd always retire to my room when there were things going on that I didn't want to participate in. I can read anywhere. Writing, for me, requires quiet and solitude, but I can read in a crowded subway. I've developed methods by which I can read even when doing other things. The Risotto Reading Device, for instance, is not something that I've ever seen anyone else use. It's essentially one of those harmonica holders with some extensions. And the book-rock that I keep at the island, an almost perfect sandstone triangle, three inches on the faces, one inch thick, that serves to free up both of my hands. B uses an old tool, a swage, I think they're called. Left to our own devices. Which is certainly true. When you're miles from a hardware store, mid-winter, an old piece of shoe makes a fine hinge. Herbert, at The Playhouse, was one of the greatest problem-solvers of all time; he taught generations of us to visualize exactly what the problem was and to build a solution accordingly. The influence he had, on some of the best minds I know, is staggering. I was gratified then, as you might imagine, to give a talk on anything I wanted to talk about, for the Nature Club. I'll probably talk about oak trees and acorns; though I could talk about chicory, or frogs, the fox, or morels announcing the spring, or ten thousand other things. Linda said I was deft, and it's true, I can talk about anything; it's all about patterns: listen to Bach. Read more...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two Turtles

I was talking with Emily, and she agreed there had been no turtles on the roads this year; then today, stopped twice to take box turtles off the road. I gain a certain amount of grace by not allowing them to be squashed by pick-up trucks. St.Tom of the turtles. I often put them in the foot-well on the passenger side (especially if there's any traffic) and drive them somewhere more remote. I'm way out of my league here, dappling in what my influence could possibly mean. Leads to a long internal dialog about whether or not we should ever do anything. I know that we should, but I can argue both sides of this convincingly. I often carry turtles down to the headwaters of a creek, where I think they'll be happy. How stupid is that? Still, it seems like the right thing to do. I speak as one who has failed to stop several suicides. I don't have a clue, actually. I wake up in the morning, it's usually still dark, some bugs and birds play, and put on some shoes to go pee outside. Everything is wet, the humidity is 110%; where I touch the island, getting a drink, everything is damp. The books are fine, because they're off the floor, but this humidity thing is becoming an issue. Mostly I ignore things, and they go away. Hot day and I have to run the AC for Black Dell, but it also dries the air in the house. I read a John Lescorart novel B had loaned me, and it was pretty good. I needed some fiction. Then another John Sandford novel they had held for me at the library. A two-book day. I can get back to non-fiction tomorrow, as I have some facts to check for the Janitor College edit. Joel called, while he was in dialysis today (it takes five hours), to tell me I might have been hasty in judging a book. TR doesn't actually call, but I hear his voice anyway, telling me he needs some text for the libretto. What I have isn't much, a couple of word-lists, but I do think they'd sound interesting, sung over some percussion. Then a third call (three calls in one day is like week's worth of calls in just a few hours) from a friend in Nova Scotia, who went to Canada to evade Viet Nam and never came back. He loves it there, earns a bare living harvesting seaweed and guiding kayak tours. He'd tracked me down, using the net, talking to mutual friends, and wondered if I was the same guy that had written this particular book which he had found a review of, on line, in a rather esoteric journal. I admitted I was, yes, probably that guy. I knew what he was talking about. It bothered me that I could be tracked down, I thought I'd covered my trail. Thought, in fact, that I was invisible; but like with Peter Pan, you can track my shadow. Read more...

Monday, July 21, 2014

More Dogs

In medieval England, a hound that hunted by scent, was called a rache. The puppy brigade was up tonight, following the scent of the hounds. They're so excited about where the big dogs peed, that it's difficult to run them off. I'm fully awake, so I get a wee dram and roll a smoke. I need to spend another morning on the driveway, three small places that need some attention, and the blackberries need harvesting, I need to verify the firewood vouchers, and start laying in the larder. Every year is different, but you have to prepare for the worst: the first winter I lived here, 2000, I didn't hike in a single time, last year, I hiked in maybe 40 times; crampons and ski-poles just to access the house. And the house would be very cold. Not impossible, but difficult. It'll be easier, this coming winter, because I won't be working on the outside, I can just hole-up. Curl under a woolen throw and reread Proust. It's about time I reread all of Pynchon in order. I can fill my, what, hole, duration, space, with that, because I know to keep my toes and fingers tucked. B will be down below, with running water, can meet me at the bottom of the hill with a bottle of whiskey. It's looking pretty good. If I died I'd be frozen and you wouldn't have that whole smell issue, human icicle in a body bag. B wasn't home, so I took his books back to the university library, then went to the public library, then got some money, went to Kroger, and when I came out the Jeep wouldn't start. Walked over to the pub and had a beer, then back to Kroger and the vehicle started right up. I left it running when I stopped for cigaret papers, then again when I stopped for some breaded and fried potato logs at the Qwik Stop. Four for a dollar, and if they're skinny ones Wanda gives me five or six. A good snack if you're trying to gain weight. Ronnie, who is skinny as a rail, said the other night that I was the only person that made him feel fat. I have so much wash water, that I just set out a black bucket on the front deck, before I left the house, and when I got home, scooped out a shower and a hair-wash with a tin cup. Books, food, whiskey, it's a fool's paradise, but I am that very fool.

Dark, a light.
Lighted from behind
everything is in shadow.

Gardly Loo is hard-assed, admits no fault of her own, but she fairly spits these words at the percussionist. Some phrase that has the river of Jordan, buried in the lyric. They seem to be arguing about when the lentils will come down. I stand over in the shadow of the doorway. I spent hours reading myself today, and it was an exercise in misery, I wanted to punch a sharp steel point into my brain. I won't, of course, but it was interesting;considering the circumstances under which that might be necessary.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beal Street

Dr. John playing back-up for a very hot female blues singer. Cool late night, altogether quiet, with a hint of tree-rain, very dark. I'd napped on the sofa, when a pack of hounds exploded on the ridge. Good looking dogs, two Red-Bones and a Black Mouth Cur. They sounded soulful. Engine noise then headlamps, the coon hunters trying to corral their dogs. I know them, to nod to, and we chat for a few minutes, as if it's not two in the morning and everyone is armed. I tell them their dogs should out come out on Upper Twin, down where the church used to be. They know exactly where I mean. There are times that communication amazes me. They head off and I decide to make an early breakfast, fish cakes with flounder instead of cod, and left-over mashed potatoes, rolled in bread crumbs and fried in butter. With a perfect fried egg on each, and a piece of toast slathered in blackberry/onion jam. I could, well nigh at that point, have conquered the world, but it seemed pointless; better I should get a wee dram and curl up with a decent book. Poems by Stephen Ellis, they blow me away. What should be dawn is a gray unveiling. Eventually you can almost see. There's a mist, not quite a fog; but trees in the distance are somewhat obscured. Maybe it's just that eyesight fails, but I can only see clearly what is right in front of me. A disorder of some type, but I can't find myself in the DSM. Maybe that's a good thing. A love-hate relationship with an outhouse. The fox is sly, and pert, and quick to judge danger. I love her, in so far as one does. And I love the sound of tree-rain, and the gentle breezes. It takes a while to calm down after being disturbed. You have to sit very still and pick up the melody, where it lies, fragmented, piece together a chorus, something in Church Latin, an Ave Maria; then Gardly Loo, bless her heart, confronts the percussionist face to face. The word 'fuck' is used eleven times in three sentences. They can't seem to agree about something, and she's at of point of stabbing him with a drumstick. A metaphor hot and greasy. I can see it in my mind's eye. Later, over drinks, everyone has calmed down; still, it seems, there's some anger carried over, that someone hadn't supported someone, the usual failures. My third Luna Month this year, and I can't get to her, so I turn off the light and go to bed, before she beats herself to death against the window. Another dripping morning, no sun. I plow through 100 pages of notes at the end of the first volume of the new Mark Twain Autobiography. I read the first volume second because that was the order B gave them to me. It's been a slog, but worth it. Then finished another book that he loaned me that I have to get to him because it'll be due, and inter-library loan is expensive if you're late. A strange book about the longing some people have for the far north. The Idea Of North, Davidson. Then went into editing mode. Forgot to eat. Made a splendid mushroom omelet, fried potatoes, toast, another cup of coffee. I have to clean up, before I go out tomorrow, but I have lots of water. If the rain holds off for a couple of hours, I can get the books down to B, and make a run to town for supplies. Need to stop at the library. I'm glad the Utah Kid understood why I hadn't commented on the book he had sent, it pretty much fell apart. Still, I did enjoy the rendering of the physical terrain. I stomped around there for a decade. He got a great many of the vocal intonations, the metaphors, the colloquialisms, exactly correct. Just not a successful book. I ran across an excerpt from a chapter I'd written about Mississippi in an obscure magazine 20 years ago. I actually liked it. A flat naturalism, and I had put my voice in someone else. I need to think about that. I'm attached to my voice. Read more...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dripping Rain

Not my bailiwick, but a dear friend calls, needing to talk about her recently failed relationship. I explain, as clearly as possible, that I'm the last person in the world to proffer advice. She mostly needs to talk, and I have a listening mode that I can assume, not unlike a cleric at confession, where what I'm hearing is the most important thing in the world. She's clearly distraught and I tell her to pack a bag and hop on the train down to see me. She can be here, 12 miles away, in ten hours, I'd pick her up at 2 in the morning, at South Shore, Kentucky, and we could talk. I don't want another friend of mine committing suicide. The first thing I do is wash their hair, suicides are delinquent in this, and massaging their scalp seems to help. Blackbirds strung as treble across the power line. Anything in the key of G. Fifteen gallons of wash water in just a couple of hours, a mostly passive harvest, but I do move a couple of five gallon pickle buckets around. The rainfall (the moisture-fall, more properly, I melt a lot of snow) is evenly spaced across the year on the ridge. I buy two gallons of filtered water a week, for making coffee and brushing my teeth, and I usually drink spring water on my walks, using a Star Trek plastic cup I picked up at the Goodwill. I'm serious about my water use. When I have to pick someone up, early in the morning, I just don't go to bed. Then I have to explain the water system, where the flashlights are stored, and which path leads to the outhouse. The train was late, it usually is, but I always have a book to read. She looked like death warmed over. Breaking dawn on the way home, dense fog that collapsed perspective. I took her to a place where two little ripples almost make a stream, rolled her a smoke. For some reason, when people visit me, they start smoking and drinking again. What a good influence I am. If I could just raise my arm I'd pat myself on the shoulder. I took her to the pub, and she was amazed I knew so many people by name. Truth be known, I am too, and we talked about that. I fixed a great meal and we drank a very good zin. She had to catch the 4 AM train back to NYC, opening a show on Monday. She said she could sleep on the way home, so we talked for 26 hours. Mostly she talked. The sex, she said, was great, but there was never any conversation. Her partner, another lovely woman, bisexual, is also a friend of mine, and is coming down next weekend. She called while Barb was here, wondering if Barb was here, and made her appointment. I'm known, it seems, as a great conversationalist, though what that means is, generally, just being a good listener. Plus I'm a good cook, and if I make a Key Lime pie, my guests usually swoon. Something about a good meal lovingly prepared. I fixed ox-tails for Barb, because she had never had them, and we ate the marrow smeared on warm toast. She called me a genius several times, but I hastened to remind her we had been doing this for thousands of years, cracking bones and eating marrow; and that my variation, cooking them in dry white wine and chicken broth for a long time, was nothing new. I like to cook them when I'm not home, put the pan on the slow part of the stove and go split wood or something, then, when I come back inside the smell is a spiritual awakening. Not unlike Bach, right, the two part variations. Thunder underscores my point, I'd better go. Read more...

Friday, July 18, 2014


Lord, what an ugly bird. Two of them, eating a very smashed deer, but they're in the road. I stopped and put on old gloves, had just gotten up to him when a Park Ranger stopped, he grabbed the front legs and we dragged the carcass 20 feet off the road. The buzzards were waiting in a nearby tree. The Ranger, of course, knew who I was and where I lived, said he'd like to come up for a beer. I told him to bring them, that I was always home, more or less. Can't know too many Park Rangers. The quick trip to town, whiskey and groceries. Much cooler. I finally got the Mac hooked up and I'm working on the Janitor College manuscript. TR might come out Sunday and show me how to do a couple of things. I qualify for the heat assistance program, which means I'm poor, which in my case means that I'll get vouchers to exchange for cut, split, dry firewood. This could extend my life on the ridge. If I lay in a careful larder, wood to burn, a gallon of lamp oil, some candles, and a back-up battery for my LED headlamp, I'd only need to get to town once a month in winter, and that's always been easily possible. I can check out 25 books at the library, at a single swoop, and I do have a great library myself, so reading matter wouldn't be an issue. Seems like a done deal if my feet don't rot off; pissing my name in the snow. Too much with the world. I can't listen to the news anymore. I need retreat from all that. Robert Graves. Staring into the middle distance doesn't pay very well, but it doesn't cost a lot. I meant to go to town, have a beer at the pub, talk to another person, but I'd put a post-it note on Black Dell that Terry Gross was doing a memorial show I wanted to hear. Glad I stayed home. I actually cried. The greatest double bass player that ever was. His singing, closing out that interview, is one of the finest things I've ever heard. I thought about calling Glenn, to talk about connective tissue. Light rain is a lovely thing. It quiets everything, the bugs, the birds, all seek shelter. I can study a comma for an hour or watch a fly, trapped between the window and the screen. Not being a part of it is now my share of being a part of it. Defined by what we are not. It's not special, it's just a place, a gun-shot mobile home on the Navaho reservation or a sod house on the prairie, we have no control over where we're born, and it does, in fact, matter. Accent, for one thing, which becomes an identifying characteristic, and an atavistic yearning for mountains, or deserts, or the deep blue sea. Of course my phone is not working, which is probably a good thing, because I almost desperately wanted to talk with a friend. I found recourse in making a very good omelet. When all else fails, I generally start (over) by caramelizing an onion. That usually leads to something. Simple pleasures. Whittling an oak split down to nothing. The fact that the thousand year flood happens every couple of years doesn't seem to make much difference. Read more...