Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Alien

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.
Read more...

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

Buzzards

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...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Kalevala

Spent all day reading essays on the various Heroic Legends along with condensed plot lines. B came by in the morning and I was still awake writing. He just dropped off a couple of books and left, as I was clearly in a state, did mention that Ronnie would be at his place tonight, practicing music. I went down and listened for a couple of hours. Nice, for the rehearsal banter and the playing, after a day spent buried in books. Ronnie's arms were a mess, as he had spent the day picking blackberries. He picked four gallons and will be making jam all day tomorrow to sell at the farmer's market. His shirt was ripped to shreds and bloody, and there were dozens of new scabs on his forearms. He and B get going on local history and it's a treat. The drive home, the mile around and then up the driveway, was a light-show of fireflies. TR has to write a firefly piece and get it out of his system. Maybe we can use it in the opera, if it might prove useful, but he has to write a piece. I'm more flexible, I don't have to do any thing other than be myself. The Kalevala, is a complete construct, from 1835 to 1849 Lonnrot spliced together an epic, adding a few transitional pieces. The archive is astounding, 1.2 million lines. Lonnrot was thorough and a meticulous keeper of records. I admire that, I have to say. I only have one photograph of a house I built, and that's an accident, there was a marriage there, years, and several owners later. Read more...

The Kalevala

Spent all day reading essays on the various Heroic Legends along with condensed plot lines. B came by in the morning and I was still awake writing. He just dropped off a couple of books and left, as I was clearly in a state, did mention that Ronnie would be at his place tonight, practicing music. I went down and listened for a couple of hours. Nice, for the rehearsal banter and the playing, after a day spent buried in books. Ronnie's arms were a mess, as he had spent the day picking blackberries. He picked four gallons and will be making jam all day tomorrow to sell at the farmer's market. His shirt was ripped to shreds and bloody, and there were dozens of new scabs on his forearms. He and B get going on local history and it's a treat. The drive home, the mile around and then up the driveway, was a light-show of fireflies. TR has to write a firefly piece and get it out of his system. Maybe we can use it in the opera, if it might prove useful, but he has to write a piece. I'm more flexible, I don't have to do any thing other than be myself. The Kalevala, is a complete construct, from 1835 to 1849 Lonnrot spliced together an epic, adding a few transitional pieces. The archive is astounding, 1.2 million lines. Lonnrot was thorough and a meticulous keeper of records. I admire that, I have to say. I only have one photograph of a house I built, and that's an accident, there was a marriage there, years, and several owners later. Read more...

Off the Record

Translation. I was sitting with TR, at the bar in the pub, when the brain trust from the college came in. Drew asked me if I had a Latin dictionary, and I told him I had several; he wanted to make certain that a phrase was translated correctly. I told him that colloquialism would corrupt the phrase, that Cicero would have used it somewhere, and when he emailed me later it was with a quote from Cicero. It feels good to be correct. I'd never read the quote before, but I was sure that's where he would find it. Sequitur stellarum could mean 'follow the stars', it could mean 'watch where you're stepping', or any number of other things. I'm struck, translating Latin, or Old English, that I only know, generally, what's being said. One of my Chinese friends asked me what the hell I meant by 'sucking hind tit' and when I explained what I meant, in elementary terms, she knew exactly what I meant. They had a phrase for it. There is no way we could possibly be understood, and yet there are moments. When the transept meets the vault. The moment when architecture comes to bear. Loading becomes an issue. Describes an actual thing: two dancers dancing, the fleas desiccated in 24 pounds of salt. I'm sympathetic, to a certain degree, with any lost cause. It's so lovely, cool and clear just after dawn, that I take a mug of coffee and roll a smoke out on the back porch. It was almost completely still and quiet, just the occasional puff of air that stirs the leaves on a specific set of branches, and I fell into a kind of reverie, thinking about wind. In my mind's eye I can picture air, slightly warmer than the ground, flowing over mountains, the transfer of energy, and the amassed 'front' moving out when certain conditions have been met. Wind must involve the existence of atmosphere and temperature differential. I thought I had a book about wind, but if I do I couldn't find it; I did find a book on tides and another about dust, both of which I set aside. It was the puffs of wind that interested me. Wondering if they were generated separately or somehow split off from a larger mass. How long does a puff of wind exist? I've watched the effect of wind narrowing in a funnel, swirling paper in an alley and floating plastic bags to unbelievable heights, and there's an algorithm for that, I'm sure; but camping once, on the long grass prairie, I watched wind fragments that must have once been part of a larger whole asserting themselves. When grain crops are destroyed by wind they're called 'shattered'. I almost always get side-tracked by specific words. I was trying to identify a mushroom yesterday. I wasn't going to eat it, I just wanted to know what it was. It was an abortive Clitocybe. My identification of anything is suspect, I thought geese grew from barnacles until I reached middle-age. I have to go sleep. Read more...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pseudepigrapha

Putting away several books of saints, I found a stash of works not included in either the Canon or the Apocrypha. They make interesting reading. The outliers. An entire book of pseudepigrapha reads suspiciously like an alternative bible. When Ptolemy (I don't know which one, there were 15 of them) prohibited the export of papyrus there was something of a writing-material crisis. Parchment was dear, vellum more so, and palimpsest became more common. We only have Cicero's De Republic because it could be read under a Commentary of St. Augustine on the Psalms. The 'patter' of feet or rain is the frequentative of pat, to strike gently. One little foray out today, between showers, looking for mushrooms, and I picked up several ticks. Took a tepid sponge-bath and found three on me and one on the towel. When they're on me, if I can't pick them off, I light a wooden match, blow it out, and touch them with the hot tip, they die and release. This is only tricky when you're using two mirrors to find the damn things in the first place. I've gotten very good with mirrors, but I still occasionally burn myself. Tomfool or Tom o' Bedlam. I can't speak toward the sanctity of anything, I don't believe in the sanctity of anything. Peeping Tom. The 15th Brewer's I'm reading now was virgin white when I got it, had never been referenced; and I tend to dirty the pages, going outside with a sling-blade, or digging something out of the muck, so that when I use a book, the edges of the pages get dirty. I don't always wash up first. And I can tell exactly where I started, Disjecta Membra, a dismembered poet. Where the blood spatters the walls it's easy enough to explain, when the blood actually spatters; but much harder to explain as a 'concept'. Later, I turn on the radio, and it's Jesse Norman, singing the aria "Dipped In Blood". She certainly has a big voice. Tree-rain and fireflies. A patter song. The stage is dark. The house is dark. The fireflies blink on and off. The light gradually fills. Our soprano is arguing with our first percussionist about the down-beat. He sees everything as B-flat, she sees it as a natural G. There's a guitar in the background, making sense of things. Read more...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Force of Habit

Nulla dies sine linea, attributed to the Greek Apelles, who said he never passed a day without a line. Trollope adopted it as his motto. I'm committed to that. Any more it's just word lists, which get me in a reference frame, more than usual, which takes me to the stacks. I'm currently reading Brewer's Dictionary as if it were a novel. Small rains through the day, enough to drip and make the leaves look great. A little breeze, so the drops sparkle. What more could you ask? I get out for a little while, between showers, and pick a few blackberries. It smells so fresh, so green. I got further from the house than I had intended, so got drenched and had to change clothes. I'd gotten some Brussels sprouts, remaindered, cleaned them up, halved them, micro-waved them in a little white wine, then finished them in a skillet with butter, salt and pepper. At the end I put in a couple of small flounder fillets. I ate this right out of the skillet, and cleaned the pan with a sop of bread. I love those last tastes of oil or fat, sopped up with a piece of bread. I clean the skillet with kosher salt and a paper towel and hang it back on it's nail. I will probably die, a cast iron skillet to the skull, somewhere near the island. Read more...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Spur Money

The small fine paid for wearing spurs into church, where the jangle was apt to interrupt the service. Collected by the Beadle, who seems to have been an usher and sergeant-at-arms. B had discussed the word 'suppose', I was looking it up when I got home and got side-tracked. Had to turn on the AC for Black Dell and I had some time to kill, so I pulled out the folded paper I keep on my person, where I write words that I need to know more about. I read another book about salt. I have no interest in writing a book about salt, and I use very little, but I've stumbled on four books in the last couple of years, library sales, and all of my friends know that I like books about any specific thing, so I know a lot about salt. Mary Martha called, she's a sweetheart, and wants me to give a talk for the Nature Club. I agree, and she wants to know what I'll talk about; I can't decide, right away, tell her I have to think about it. My first thought is salt, as this area is/was famous for its salt-licks; but I decide I'd rather talk about oak trees. Flora, rather than a mineral; the living rather than the inert. I could talk about bookshelves for an hour, but that hardly seems germane. A lecture series on disparate subjects. I should get a job on a cruise ship. Duty-free. Meaghan got a bottle of Irish whiskey for $38 that costs $93.30 at the liquor store. TR is sporting a new watch. We don't actually talk about the opera, but I call him later, knowing he would be bored silly, sitting at the desk, at the museum, on Saturday, and we hammer out a few details. I expect we'll spend a day together, soon, talking about structure. I stopped by B's place and there was a note, in magic marker on the cardboard packing for a toilet seat, that he was up the hill (the ridge) to get something, and that he would back shortly. I sat down, to roll a smoke, and Drew showed up. We had one of B's beers, a Newcastle Brown Ale, and shortly B showed up with Matt and a very heavy table top. B's desk, a lab counter, a piece of rock that I calculate weighs 210 pounds; 3 feet by 6 feet an inch thick, sandstone, 140 pounds a cubic foot, and they horse it inside. I hold the door open. They also serve. B allowed that he needed his dictionaries. Of course you need your fucking dictionaries. I keep one on the back seat of the Jeep. Sometimes you just have to pull over, and look up a word. Read more...

First Blackberries

A harvest of ticks of course, but enough first blackberries to have some on plain yogurt. I want to make a caramelized onion and blackberry puree jam/sauce to use on a pork tenderloin. It would be seriously wonderful. I have to strip down after picking berries, to shake out my clothes and check for ticks. Glad I hiked down to the mailbox, as a book from the Utah Kid that I had been wanting to read, and a twenty dollar bill. How nice is that? On the way back up there was a large rattlesnake, stretched almost completely across the driveway. My place is in their slither pattern, they pass through here, following water. I jump up and down a few times, and bang the ground with my broom handle. They really do hate vibration, and he slithered down into the hollow. The crows were waiting, when I got back to the house, squawking for their micro-waved frozen mice. Next thing you know, I'll be teaching their children to fly. Nanny to the crows. I was thinking about the concept of 'perfectly centered' knowing how impossible it actually was, even the grit in plaster would throw you off a millimeter, where a nail, for instance, might set; grain, the exact angle of the blow; all those sub-ordinate clauses, and not be exactly where you imagined. If you're driving a thousand nails, or setting a thousand screws, 'perfect' and 'exact' become somewhat relative. Things adhere to a pattern without making too fine a point. The fox, for instance, makes her rounds, Gardy Loo throws her slops. First problem is that sense of time. I lived for a while on the Navaho Reservation, and I was convinced, after six months, that the units of time I was used to, minutes and hours, were not a universal given. Second, who cares? and I don't mean that perniciously, or any other way, but setting dates for the completion of something is always fairly well compromised. Constraints imposed by the venue, by the dates people were available, by the weather; so to say that an opera will open at a particular time on a particular date is mostly a product of the advance publicity. We're mostly ready after the fact. Human nature. You only realize what you should have said hours later, taking a hot bath in a hotel room and scrubbing off the fog. Read more...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Deer Ticks

Chanterelles lure me back into the woods. Drew mentioned he'd been seeing a few. I can't resist, and the conditions have been perfect, enough rain to keep the forest duff moist. I know I'll pick up some ticks, but I need a sponge bath anyway, and I find a good batch of mushrooms, down near the creek. They tend to be dirty, with their open gills, growing through the mast, but I have a soft toothbrush that cleans them pretty well, and a little bit of leaf-matter isn't going to kill you. I have a mess of them, slow cooked in butter, on toast, that are outstanding, then make a mushroom gravy that I ladle onto a small beef fillet and mashed potatoes that is so good I want to call someone and tell them. Exercising great restraint, I don't. I turned off Black Dell and the AC about midnight, opened the windows. Fireflies are actually beetles, and they were out in force. God damn Whip-O-Will sets up right outside the house and I go out blasting away with the shotgun, just to get him to move further away. They remind me how much I don't like Philip Glass. Set in my ways. I stopped at the library, did my laundry, stopped at the liquor store, and bought groceries. The presence of mind to make a list. Stopped at B's new place, so convenient now, that I can drive right up to the house, and we chat. They're rehearsing tonight, Kevin, Ronnie, and B. I'm invited down, to hear what they're doing. Ronnie is a no-show, but Kevin and B make great music. Something enormously correct, sitting in the near darkness, on the newly screened porch, listening to home-made music, in the middle of the State Forest. With a pleasant buzz I make it home safely, pour a wee dram and roll a smoke. An email from my friend Kim, and he's damaged his shoulder in a fall at ping-pong. I have nightmares about falling. About the only thing I have nightmares about, which is strange, as I had always been known for my agility. Now I'm more careful, and consider a railing for the two steps outside the back deck. Birthdays do that, the cosmic clock clicking toward annihilation. I can't complain, I've lived a very full life and have few regrets; and B got a land-line, down at the new place, so he could call to see if I were still alive. How much more of a friend would you need? Read more...