Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Horizon in Orange




Hayden's Peak



Mount Baldy

Monday, September 26, 2005

Girl with a Cupholder Armrest

Jeff and Candace had the ideal wedding reception for their lifestyle: a pleasant gathering in their own rural backyard, with everybody wearing Wranglers and Ropers and Carhart coats, drinking Bud Light from blue Solo cups. (They may live in a doublewide trailer, but Candace is a very talented homemaker and the house is lovely and inviting. Most cowgirls are no slouches in the domestic department. More proof that yours truly is a city slicker at heart, but then, people do tell me my basement is cozy.) It wasn’t by any means a warm evening; even their three-legged dog had a jacket on, and you could tell she thought she was special. There was plenty of alcohol, a campfire, cowboys, homemade vittles (cold-cuts, smoked salmon, potato salad, olives, meatballs and rolls), kids, and horses. They had a horseshoe cake with yellow daisies and Jeff gave the kids rides on his scruffy little donkey. That is, he attempted to. Four-year-old Nicky and the shaggy little burro felt the same way about each other: suspicious.

After Jeff and Candace’s shindig, Morgan and I (slightly wound up on wine coolers) slipped back into town and went to Kate’s, where the one-year anniversary party of Rachel and Victor’s purchase of the bar was in full swing. There were limbo and hula contests (I won a Jack Daniel’s t-shirt for failing drunkenly at the hula, which I used to be good at, in a rare moment of bravely sacrificed dignity), ponytails and poodle skirts, a conga line, free chili and Jell-o shots, and Grease on the big-screen all night long. Life is easy for the DJ when the party theme is 50’s. Hanging above the bar at Kate’s is a vintage vinyl LP titled How to Strip for your Husband, which features (I assume) slinky orchestrations and the tagline, “Make Your Marriage Merrier!” We were already in Hilarious Mode, but that and the brazened biker next to me at the bar just made it worse. It was quite the night, even though I only had two rum-and-cokes and a few shots. Stoic Bud got lit and even did a little impromptu, unamplified karaoke to Bobby Darin’s Splish-Splash, and hid in the bathroom from a scary old bat who was trying to get him to jitterbug with her.

I had to work alone Sunday and today, since Jeff and Candace were preparing for their honeymoon hunting trip up on the Hoback. I don’t mind; I get a lot done when I’m up here by myself. But to top off several recent accidents involving liquid (I’ve spilled coffee, chlorine reagent, and Clorox in the past two weeks), I had a little crisis yesterday morning. We feed our secondary coagulant, the polymer 8105, in a 10% solution, which we batch out in a big tank. We’re not adding it right now; the river water is so clean we hardly need to use our primary coagulant, so we’re just pumping plain water to keep the 8105 pump primed. In the morning I checked the level in the tank and estimated I’d be out of water by noon, so I set the water pump at 100 gallons and went downstairs to time the 8105 feed by measuring how many milliliters it drops in the calcon (a clear plastic cylinder with measuring marks, placed vertically in the line) per minute. (I can't fathom why we’re still measuring it if we’re not actually adding any. I guess it’s just routine.) While I was waiting for the valve to seat so I could time it (the valve is old and doesn’t like to seal), I noticed water coming from the hatch in the concrete ceiling. I knew in an instant what was wrong, and sure enough, when I got upstairs the 8105 tank was spewing water all over the place and the pump was still pumping. I’ve never had it malfunction and didn’t know how to stop it, so I ran back and forth helplessly for a thirty seconds before spotting a red button on the pump console behind the tank. Praying it was a kill switch, I dove through the waterfall from the tank, splashed through the four inches of water behind the containment curb, and slammed the button in. The pump stopped, and the flood slowly subsided. I mopped up the water and later when Bud stopped by, looking bleary from two nights of too much fun at Kate’s, I told him what had happened. He laughed and said it wasn’t the first time; in fact it’s happened to him. I have to admit my first impulse, while the water was still flowing, was, “how am I going to hide this?” which is only natural and certainly wrong, and I was glad I told him. He’s made light of every, um, situation I’ve had so far, which makes admitting future wrongs less intimidating. Good boss. Actually they all have, the boys. Travis’s most common saying (behind, “in my personal opinion…”) is, “no biggie.” And Jeff’s is, “oh, that’s alright.”

My cellular phone has developed a penchant for brutal sudden-death rounds of hide-and-go-seek. I keep it straight jacketed in a padded cell in the bottom of my bag now, which means that by the time I excavate it, the caller has given up anyway.

I am in no way a person who is known for her modern ideas. And I look good in pink, even though I’d rather wear black or navy blue. My favorite line from a Cake song this week is, “a voice that is dark like tinted glass,” from Short Skirt, Long Jacket, and if you really listen, the whole song is poetic. Heck, they all are. And I love the liberal use of brass.

Congratulations to Kelly, who bagged himself a nice antelope early this season. I demand jerky. But I’m so glad I wasn’t around for the butchering. Yuck.

I need to learn to budget my time. I’m not getting enough sleep, and I don’t like living this way, vague and disconnected, like the retelling of a dream.

Sunday, September 25, 2005







Who let her have the Gameboy?

Cut the Cake


Bandit broke her hip jumping out of the bed of a moving truck. The options were amputate or put her down... and Jeff picked fix. At two years old she'll have no problem learning to get around without it.



Cookie Mishap

There's something terribly wrong with Morgan's vanilla wafer.

Icy Sludge



We came upon this in the toy aisle at WalMart. I wish I knew the author's age.




Thursday, September 22, 2005

Put It In Perspective

I forgot to share this when You Know Who first enlightened me. Macs aren't supported yet (sorry, Shepcat) but they'll have you covered in a jiffy; it's absolutely worth checking back for. It blew my mind when I found Bear Lake and then Sulphur Creek Reservoir, and the pine tree in my sister's front yard, so I went to Imperial Beach and found the pier and my high school and my old house, the driveway still oil-stained from Dad's taxi cabs, and the dragon tree in the courtyard at the Hotel Del Coronado, whose offspring I'm planning to repot soon. It's a quick download and it's hands-down the coolest Internet experience I've ever had, unless you count the countless hours of instant messaging I participate in (and I am by no means the biggest chatwhore there is, You Know Who you are). If you don't instant message already, I think you should discover it. It may possibly be the only way to have a truly meaningful conversation with me. The only drawback is that without a visual connection, sarcasm is completely ineffectual.

I just discovered another roommate that the cats appear unwilling to eat. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to let the centipede out.

More About Me

I abhor cigarette smoke. Camels in close proximity have the power to make my eyes swell shut and give me the hangover no alcohol ever could. I hate that I can tell when a smoker used the washer before me at the laundromat. I have to admit, though, that smoking does have tremendous visual appeal. Smokers always look like they just don’t give a hoot, and that’s a look I have often had cause to go for. And, hypocritically, there are a few environments where the reek of somebody’s cancer stick makes me nostalgic and almost happy: casinos, pubs, and concerts in the park.

I love going to the laundromat, despite the residual stench of some asshat who likes to replace the oxygen in his tissues with toxic gases. The back door of the laundromat I frequent opens onto a sagebrush meadow across from the high school, and on warm evenings I like to sit in the doorway and watch the glowing sunset light the sage on fire. In the summer, buzzing dirtbikes raise a diaphanous haze over the meadow, but now that it’s fall the kids are back in school, dirtbikes garaged, and the mule deer can once again be seen gorging themselves on the blooming sage. The only drawback to this lovely pastorale: I am severely allergic to nature, too.

I got to drive Mr. Goodwrench’s new Blazer to Honeyville, UT and back last Friday night, while he chattered about the difficulties he faces as the boss in a busy equipment shop in town. There’s a cluster of hot springs in Honeyville that I absolutely could not live without. My sister and I are born mermaids and will gladly swim in any body of water at any temperature, but for some reason these steaming, mineral-rich pools in particular relax me and facilitate the tapping into of some serious creative reserves. My favorite time to visit the springs is on winter nights; the exotic appeal of steam mingling with snowflakes in the green glow of underwater lamps takes me out of my rather ordinary world for a while. I love watching people, and the casual exchanges you get in close proximity to total strangers amuse me; an apologetic look from a woman whose child splashes you (sympathetic smile in return), small talk about the weather or the temperature of the pools with an elderly couple (it was warmer this time last year, they remember), comparing tattoos with the synth-pop groupie (her guy’s got a gig in Elko next week). Mr. Goodwrench always gets a few stares, what with the tattoos, nipple rings, and shaved head, but after a while people grow accustomed to him and the boy scouts go back to splashing each other with the stinging, salty water. He’s always asking me if he looks like a thug. What can I say? He napped on the late way home and I took joyful advantage of his Paul Oakenfold collection and decided I will put that CD player in the Cadillac, after all.

I am only a bitch when I’m feeling insecure, an infrequent occurrence. Simply reassure me, if I can’t overcome it myself, and you’ll defuse me instantly. I never intentionally mistreat anyone. And it makes me unhappy to be mean.

The trees are just starting to turn, and I can feel that uncharacteristic surge of social energy I get in the fall. Suddenly I want to be in dim, smoky places crowded with friends. Maybe it’s the holidays approaching, and the tide of celebratory goodwill turning into a flood. September is a welcome prelude to my favorite month, today the start of my favorite season. I have always wanted to get married in September, outdoors, like Jeff and Candace are going to do this Saturday at their place out in El Caballo. We spent most of the day at work (after flushing a pump and mopping the lab) trying to estimate how much beer Jeff better have on hand. We decided a pony keg and a party ball should do it, the latter of which he can take back to Bateman if he doesn’t need to crack it open. I was delighted when Jeff said, “if it goes cold, wim’ll just haul the propane lantern down t’ th’ barn an’ continue the festivities.” It just sounds cozy, Candace in her dress in the hay, and all those black wool cowboy hats getting dusty. Travis, it turns out, has a keg tap with his name engraved on it. I’ve had beer from a keg only twice in my life. I’ve nearly forgotten what it’s like.

Early September in Wyoming is generally quite cool, sometimes rainy like today, swinging back to Indian summer by the month’s end. October, my favorite time of year, is usually pleasant until a few days before Halloween, when it inevitably snows. I get those chain emails all the time with the subject, “You Know You’re in Wyoming When:” and the one that really strikes a chord with me is the one about designing your kids’ Halloween costumes to fit over a snowsuit. I’ve seen my share of unnaturally obese belly dancers, with bulky nylon Columbia parkas poking out from under their little bikini tops. I’ve seen little puffy princesses, and a Spiderman who had abs of down, and a ninja looking like a Negro Michelin man. But I can’t get started about Halloween right now. A Halloween post could very well turn into a plot-free novel.

Everything I own is now insured: two vehicles, all the gear in my apartment, my diamond and my life. The policy payoff for my life insurance doubles if I die in a City vehicle with my seatbelt on. I should point that out to my family. If I thoughtlessly snuff it of natural causes, or off the City clock, it would be pretty easy to haul me up to the plant, stick me in the little white Ford, buckle me in, put ‘er in drive and send me off E Hill.

Corvettes Are Like Lingerie

I just followed an older black Stingray up Front Street, impressed by the care somebody put into keeping it glossy. License plate: RADAR B8. I'm always so pleased when people are witty.

I guess it's only fair to tell you that when you drive too fast through Wyoming with Utah plates on your vehicle, we have a name for you. You're Bear Bait. And you've financed quite a few WYDOT projects over the years.

So how are they alike? Whenever you're in them, you're just asking to get f****d.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Then Thelma Called


September 19th! National Talk Like a Pirate Day! You know I love Dave Barry. Maybe you didn't know I also adore Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball. Now you do. I also love this page, which made me laugh. Translate your own blog, or do mine. Make life a little more ridiculous.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


If you ever need a vacation from reality, please visit the handmade time warp that is my paternal grandfather's legacy. Take the virtual tour of the dance floor; admire my mother's ancient player piano and the wood floor that was Grandpa's pride and joy, and check out the red velvet settee I used to lounge on when I still wore a platinum pageboy and knee socks. The History page is kind of a neat little watered-down synopsis of Grandpa's life. My tall, dark step-grandmother Rose is still the 84-year-old mayor of Pinedale, and is just beginning to enjoy her new titanium knee. Out of six, she is my last surviving grandparent. We had Grandpa's funeral on the little island out back at Fort William, where a bit of Fall Creek dodges off around a grassy knoll, on a beautiful July day last summer. Rose survived the fallout of her grief, but after fifty years of marriage, she will likely never be whole until she's with him again. When she goes, we'll scatter both their ashes together, over the land they loved.

Fort William was (and the memory of it still is) my favorite place in the whole world (beside Bear Lake, Utah, the Pier Plaza in Imperial Beach, California, and the public library in Coronado). My sister and I grew up wandering the woods, jumping boulders in Fall Creek, and having severe allergic reactions to the horse Grandpa bought for Morgan. The halfbreed pony was a feisty little tramp named Ice Bucket, and I got to ride him most of the time, bareback, with Morgan leading him around and Grandpa's psychotic Labrador Brandy jumping along making Icee nervous. Grandpa had a tame black bull named Licorice and he'd catch him for us and put us on his back. We have pictures of Lora Lee Skinner, Grandpa's mother, waving her hat while riding Licorice when she was somewhere around ninety, and my sister and I up there in tights and mary janes, looking worried but thrilled.

My sister and I loved everything about Fort William the way it was then: rustic and whimsical, perfect for two children with intense imaginations. We stayed in the summer, sleeping in a soft bed in the double-wide trailer Grandpa theatrically disguised with wooden siding, sidewalk and awning, and a sod roof. One window in the back was curtained on the outside with strings of heavy amber Mardis Gras beads; I never knew the story behind them but Morgan and I would stand and braid them, run our small hands through them, causing them to click and rattle. There was a decaying sheepherder's wagon in the yard, with old steel utensils in the rotting drawers and tatters of the canvas cover hanging on the ribs. The basement of the three-story hotel was the heavenly-scented laundry room, where Rose washed all the linens and quilts, and the heavy wooden doors had a hole about five square inches cut out of it so the barncats could go in and out. There was an old chicken coop where Mom planted a vegetable garden and a dusty, oat-smelling tackroom with a dirt floor and hornet's nest. The balcony above the bar, outside the living quarters upstairs on the main building, had a porch swing with a dummy Indian sitting on it, with lifelike hands and face and stuffed flannel shirt, jeans and worn boots. I was always afraid he would come to life and grab me. Much more agreeable was the big wooden cigar Indian guarding the porch downstairs. Dad found him somewhere in his travels and brought him to Fort William to stand and greet.

There was a trap door from the upstairs apartment to the bar downstairs, and a ladder so that in the winter a person could go down and add logs to the fire in the stove without having to go outside in freezing temperatures. There was no way in and out of Fort William in the winter, when snow made the road impassable. Bartley and Rose spent just one winter alone out there, and when spring came she owed him some $4,000.00 in bridge winnings. They never attempted it again, but took a house in town to wait out the heavy snows.

I've heard quite a collection of stories about Fort William, the building of it, and the wild days when it was the hangout of half the county and even a few celebrities. I think some of Dad's happiest days may have been spent there, and Mom's too, judging by her rosy cheeks and white teeth in the photos. Fort William belongs to someone else now, lovely, friendly people who always welcome us warmly when we round the corner on that long, twisting dirt road that goes over the rickety Pole Creek bridge, across cattle guards and through a rusty gate.

When I was little I assumed Fort William would someday belong to my sister and I, but, like Grandpa, I've learned that everybody has to build their own paradise, log by log.

Thursday, September 15, 2005



Don't Bug Me

I have been angry this week. Angry at people, furious at time, enraged at songs on the radio. Nights were frustratingly sleepless and sometimes tearfully dark. My theory as to why involves a chemical imbalance having to do with the changing seasons, missed pills, or maybe a bachelorette diet of sugar-free ice cream and ceviché. I don’t really have any legitimate reasons to be upset. Well, maybe one, but it’s complicated. And ridiculous.

I spent quite a few work hours this week happily ensconced in the specialized trailer of the three-man dive team that came to inspect our storage reservoirs. Watching the live feed from their helmet-mounted cameras was like discovering the Titanic all over again: twisted, corroding forms emerging from murky depths in the harsh artificial light. Five of the City’s seven concrete tanks hold 1,000,000 gallons of treated water each, and the other two hold 250,000 and 750,000 gallons, for a total of six million gallons. They were all built at different times in the last sixty years, and are in different stages of disintegration. The original roofing on two of our main reservoirs up at the plant was iron. New roofing was installed over the old and the iron, which is extremely corroded, is crumbling into the stored water in rusty chunks. Wearing dry suits and lead-weighted vests, Jerry, Dave and Ivan used custom-built PVC vacuums to suck up the accumulated sediment, piles of powdery rust, and the odd scrap of paper or bit of bottle glass. They were very professional and extremely personable, but Dave drove his big GMC Duramax diesel dually with the fifth-wheel trailer like a maniac. There were times I had to look away, like when he flipped a U on Front Street in the middle of lunchtime traffic.

This morning Barry and Dave came up with a truck-mounted pump to drain the manhole that houses the isolation valve for a tank that needs flushed. Barry and Dave are little boys in tall men’s clothing; a pair of lanky pranksters so hilariously in tune you’d think they were clones. When I worked at City Hall they made daily pilgrimages to raid the kitchen, demolish Rick’s office (they once Scotch-taped every pen and pencil they could get their hands on to his computer monitor), harass Jo (who practically raised Barry), and do their best imitation of punch-drunk Rocky, hollering his petite wife’s name from the boxing ring, one on either side of my desk. They would gesture at my brass nameplate for emphasis, as if I could ever forget that my mother named me Adriane. (The story goes that Dad only approved of the names Mom picked for my sister and I because he thought that both Adrienne Barbeau and Morgan Fairchild were hot. That’s not where she came up with the names, though.) Despite their juvenile humor, Barry and Dave are capable and willing, and rather nice to have around when there’s work to do, if you can get them to focus.

Also this morning, Martin came up to see why Bud’s computer wouldn’t print. Martin is the community IT guy, a friendly, smiling fellow with a bushy mustache and a voice that belongs in animated film, low and loud and gritty from smoking, his speech gently slanted by his southern upbringing. And in that remarkable voice he speaks a technological dialect nobody else in town can understand, even though we pretend we do, and nod and smile. I like just being in the room when he works. I feel like I’m in the presence of a higher power as his fingers fly over the keys and huge catastrophes are averted. The comical voice disguises a quick and analytical mind. The man is extremely intelligent, and just plain pleasant to be around.

After this busy morning, Bud and I sat scouring drawings of the reservoir system, trying to find a way to isolate tank number three without cutting off water to half the town. It’s a badly engineered system. We were also comparing lifetime injuries. Bud’s count? Twenty-two broken bones. Thirteen simultaneously, on one occasion. He’s had two pins in his ankle for forty years. His tally obviously won. I’ve never broken anything (knock on wood). No stitches, no stings. I even have very few scars. Just that pale, swirly place on my neck where a tree branch once attempted to dislocate my voice box (you try climbing a slippery cottonwoood sometime and see how you fare), some cat scratches, a whittling accident or two, and the streak of graphite in my palm from the wound of a sharpened pencil. Everybody’s got pencil lead. Mom’s is in the tip of her nose. Where’s yours?

I rent half the basement of an old, old house. My flatmates are two cats and many, many species of insects, most of which are pretty uninvasive. Ugly little black water beetles, tiny powdery millers, sluggish daddy-long-legs, and other less amusing spiders. Too many bugs for the two cats to eat, unfortunately. You can see why I habitually do a brief reconnaissance of the shower stall before I step in, looking for eight-legged voyeurs. Tuesday I did not, and that was a mistake. As soon as I wet my hair, I spotted the big, hairy hobo spider trying to cling to the slick tile. I loathe hobos. Google them and you’ll find droves of sites about the bodily harm this nasty, poisonous European import can do. I forced him out of the V of the wall with a blast of shaving cream and, in my rage and panic and desire to see him dead, put the massive Tresemmé conditioner bottle right through the wall. Did I mention I also have termites?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Identity Crisis

Since January, my life has almost constantly morphed with the viscous ease of oil on water. The pentagon that was my five-faceted family collapsed upon itself in just three short weeks and emerged as a triangle, with my mother, sister, and I the points of an enduring trinity that celebrates its missing pieces, its remembered completeness. We have always been close, and we will always be happy. The only difference now is the awareness that forever… isn’t.

I am writing with fierceness and desperation. I am writing to capture what won’t be forever. I am afraid of being forgotten, and I am afraid of being lost. What makes my life worth recording? I suppose only the fact that I wish to record it.

I want to write about other things, too. I like to make up worlds and spend happy hours dwelling in them with an imaginary cast of characters at my command. But now doesn’t seem the time. I read recently about a fictional someone whose life changed suddenly after he began his own work of fiction, and when he tried to continue writing, it all seemed irrelevant. I can relate to that. My life is too mutable. I’m too busy trying to figure out who I am and what I’m doing and where my twenties are going to direct the fates of figments.

But then… we all need an escape.

And just how did I get here?

Monday, September 12, 2005

A New Silhouette



Ultraviolet Reactor

Town Hall




Windriver Range


Horned Owl

Hills After Rain

Blue Sky

Color Cast


Odds and Ends

I'm enjoying the ever-adorable Brendan Fraser in Encino Man on TBS. Is this why I got cable?

I forgot to gloat about Wyoming's 38-0 win over UL Monroe Saturday. Tadaa! Still, we were 25th when all this started, and we're limping around at 66th now.

I'm being badgered about the average length of my posts. This is proof I can keep it short.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Meme of the Unknown Blogger

The premise is this:

The explosion of the blog world in the last year has led to countless high-quality blogs being started, but sometimes it is hard to find them among all the other blog muck. Because there are so many quality blogs out there, I thought I would try to start a meme to send some eyeballs toward those unknown bloggers. So, share a blog you think more people should read, and then tag five others (who hopefully read your blog!) to do the same.

Shepcat kindly insists on broadening my horizons (I'll deal with you when my cheeks stop burning), for which I am grateful.
In blogging, as in most things, I am on the fringe. Less is more. The less time I spend reading other blogs, the more time I have to write in my own, and those are precious moments to me. Nevertheless, I have managed to find a few blogs I can't resist (like yours, BS), and what always brings me back is a combination of good grammar, healthy humor, and plenty of heart. Female at Large is a perfect example. Blending whimsy and gravity like a candy maker, she struggles through bouts of writer's block and nurtures a zoo of impudent pets.

Since I completely abandoned my resolution not to make the original blog too personal (as Shepcat mentioned, it was intended to be a mine of raw ore from which I would extract the gems that would comprise a landmark novel, but somehow it took on a life of its own. The lonely page of my auxiliary fiction blog remains an empty online wasteland, but November is approaching fast, and this may be the year I do it- no promises!), I admire Female for managing to remain pretty anonymous. The mystique only adds to her appeal. It also makes a recommendation hard to justify, because I know so little about her, I can't tell you just what it is we have in common that makes me enjoy her posts so. She just makes me laugh when I need it.

Without further delay, I give you Female at Large, and I hope you enjoy her unique brand of sarcasm. JO'B and Lenny, Dorothy and Libby had better do this, too.

Good One

Suppose you are a filmmaker in Hollywood. Say you’re pushing forty, and you’re beginning to get a little sentimental about all the things you remember from your adolescence, like the toys and clothes and sitcoms. Perhaps you start thinking about expressing that erstwhile longing by revisiting your past via the silver screen. Instead of wasting all that dough and creativity, you should maybe get on a jet to Fiji or Monaco, or you risk winding up with something like The Dukes of Hazzard. Not that I didn’t enjoy it. But it just isn’t the sheer, uninhibited orgy of stoopid goodness Super Troopers is.

It's the end of the line for the Ambassador Hotel, which makes me sad because I've always thought of it as the LA equivalent of San Diego's Hotel Del Coronado. The mirrored disco ball that hung in the Coconut Grove lounge reportedly went for $900.00. I would have paid more.

I received the actual official certificate for my Level I Operator's Certification over the weekend, and I hung it in the lobby, in the empty frame between Travis and Jeff's. Then I pondered whether the MagneStir (a square contraption in our lab, with a spinning magnet inside that causes a small metal pellet in a glass flask to spin, mixing the contents at a variable rate but with a consistent motion) has enough torque to make mousse.

It's hunting season. The whole town looks like a military encampment. Last night there was a batch of scruffy, unrecognizable cavemen skinning an antelope by the light of the streetlamp at the foot of the on-ramp to I-80. The world reverts.

Yesterday at Rose's house, Mom, Morgan and I wrapped a date palm (which Grandpa planted the summer I turned a year old, from fig seeds he got in Death Valley) in ecru sheets with Great-Grandma's hand-crocheted tatting. It looked like a long, thin body in a fine shroud. We put it in the bed of Morgan's Chevy (which we're driving around the state sans plates because Wells Fargo somehow screwed up the title transfer) and drove it home, where I installed it comfortably in a sunny corner of the above-mentioned lobby. Rose had a hard time letting it go. I suppose she feels in some way it's the embodiment of Grandpa's life, and who am I to judge? I talk to the Cadillac like Dad can somehow hear me through its Bose sound system. And now I sit in the square of sunlight from the window and talk to the date palm. Grandpa wasn't a big listener; he was a big talker. The palm is a considerable improvement in that respect. But then, I wish I'd had time to hear him talk more. He once lopped the bill off Rip Torn's cowboy hat with a bowie knife, and other celebrities besides. But that is a story for another day.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Me Love You Long Time

I've waited almost thirteen years for this. It had better be worth it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Over the weekend, to pass my time alone at the plant, I read a lot. I took in everything from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology to the first two volumes of the Cowboy Bebop manga. I am a big fan of neither poetry (unless it rhymes) nor anime, but in both cases I was gratified to find a host of well-developed characters, which is one of the major requirements of any literature I take the time to read. I really like floppy Ed and the data dog Ein, and self-righteous Mrs. Kessler on page sixty-six speaking "from the dust" about her friends' and neighbors' dirty laundry, both figurative and non.

And while we're talking secrets, I'll tell you one of mine: the deep south scares me. (Almost as much as Africa does, all ancient, bloody rituals and roiling jungles incubating black scourges.) I don't trust superstition and I don't much care for spicy food. But I love Jazz and I have the pin and trophy of the Louis Armstrong Award to prove it, and a tattoo of a bass clef on my left shoulder. And if I mourn for New Orleans it's because I never got to play on the street corner, never got to make them jealous because I "sure know how to make a bass trombone sing."

But Atlanta's Jeff Francouer makes me want to watch baseball all the time.

Katrina hits home, finally, dispersing my carefree, dismissive bravado, attacking my remorselessly misanthropic facade (and I'm not the only one to be thus exposed). Bekah's older brother Matt, whose favorite shirt I tore during a childhood game of tag, and his wife Camielle are displaced, salvaging clothing and vehicles and little else, save hope. I am not so worried about resourceful Matt, because I know his family, and they are remarkable, loving, giving people. Matt and Camielle will be okay, even moreso when the baby comes and they have fresh proof that the most precious things are the people we love. The people I hurt for are those who have no one. The elderly, especially (make no mistake, my grandmother was the envy of the nursing home until May 3rd), also the orphaned, and the lost.

The suggestion was reportedly made at an office lunch table, by someone who spent extensive time in the region before Katrina arrived, that she was God's way of cleansing a very afflicted city. I read accounts by volunteers that fled the place, appalled by the attitudes of the refugees and afraid for their own safety. I appreciate the term "social breakdown." It proves to the rest of the world that we Americans are nothing more than human, and, as individuals, less deserving of their jealousy and resentfulness than they may assume. "If you prick us, do we not bleed?"

My sister overheard a coworker who used to live in Louisiana being teased about why there were only black people being interviewed about their experiences of the hurricane. Aren't there any white people living down there? "Yes. But the white people all got out when they were warned," he replied. It's hard to be openminded here. I don't know what to think, so I don't. I am not racist. I am indifferent. But also slightly amused.

I once heard a pleasing tale that rainbows were a covenant between God and man that He would never send another flood. Now I can't decide.

Everybody's Everything

When Carrie and Brian went to New Orleans last year, she brought back several ornately rustic plain-paper journals, with twig-and-twine bindings and metal ornaments (mine has a dragonfly). Written in a lacy white scrawl on the parchment cover of the one she gave me is the phrase “Dejame que te dira otra vez… te quiero, te quiero, te quiero.” It was the first time in a long time something written in Spanish has made me smile. The back cover says, “For all the things you don’t want to share.” (No, that’s not the English translation.) I don’t share much as it is. I have reason to believe that relationships are invitational invasions of privacy. I have to come to terms with that.

A year or so ago, I curled happily up in the round wicker papasan in a corner of my basement apartment with a hardback copy of Alexandra Fuller’s autobiographical Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: Tales of an African Childhood. RaeDell gave it to Mom, and all she told me when she passed it on was, “there’s a scene with a flaming cake that you’re just going to love.” I did love that scene. I enjoyed the whole book, despite the apparent pain of the author’s dysfunctional family. What I liked most was how clearly she recalled childhood impressions, and how she captured them in her poetically raving way, in a voice that turns childish and inward every so often and leaves you wondering. Last week I found an article by Alexandra (who lives in Wyoming now, another literary transplant- what about this barren place appeals to creative people?) in this month's special issue of National Geographic, all about Africa. I recognized her style at once, the focus on her own reactions to the people and environment around her, which seemed an odd fit for the publication but was enjoyable just the same. It's obvious that she cares about Africa as much as I care about Wyoming, its people and places, flora and fauna. She loves the scent of Africa; she loves its music and motion. I can relate to that.

I did it: I got basic cable. It's part of my formula for enhanced creativity, and we'll see how it goes. I can always cancel it if it sucks up my time. I've already paused this post to make three television-inspired sketches. God bless the History Channel! It's going to be strange. I've gotten used to the expression on peoples' faces when I say I don't watch television.

When I get to looking at all the things I want for myself in this life, it seems that a lot of them are contradictory. Whoops.

As a general rule, I like people more the older they get. Or perhaps, I like people less the younger they are.

Sunday, September 04, 2005





Catface Spider