Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blue House.

Windy, shining, cloudless. Cold night coming on. Well colder now than when I got up, than when I sat on the front porch with the dog. New blue house. Siting the rain gauge later on today. Packed up the thermometer from the old house yesterday. Getting settled in. Out with the old. In with the old, too. Happy new year. Last year's rain stats and affiliated weather wrapup coming soon. We'll get to that. We will. For now, though, happy new year one and all.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Farewell, 1303.

Boxes in the dining room and living room, empty walls, all the kitchen wrapped and packed save for two of everything: two spoons, two coffee cups, two salad plates. The Noah's Arking was AMR's excellent plan.

A gray last day, rain coming, riding in along a big front that brought southern thunderstorms elsewhere but promises only fog and showers for us, and all this ahead of a clearing and cooling forecast for the week upcoming — a hyper-traditional North Carolina winter weather pattern.

Sound of wrens in the forsythia along the fence with Phil. The goddamned beagles barking overnight. Crows in the Chinese firs out front and in the big pines and maples in the yards surrounding. View of the back yard from the tiny kitchen window. Wet driveway, wet street. The way the rooms on this side of the house hang onto their darkness on days like this. This chair in this room. The giant front porch. The shed, the shed. Last night I went out there and packed the novel. Wrote 'NOVEL' on it. Then I wrote 'LAUNDRY ROOM.' I'm headed for temporary housing, but I'll be right next to the coffee maker, assuming we can find it after the move. There are worse places to be. That little kitchened room and the prospect of coffee on the new front porch on Tuesday morning has me feeling not so much melancholy about all this as nostalgic — it's not as hard to leave this place as it is strange, like wearing all new clothes or tasting some ingredient you can't quite place.

Light's changing out there, like it's either getting ready to rain, or we're going to have the sun break through a little bit. The gray's yellowing up from underneath. NOAA gives us a 90% shot at rain this afternoon. I'll give us the other ten. This is ANYLF, reporting live from 1303 North Elam. Back to you, friends and fans of weather, in the studio.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Back Home.

Three-quarters of an inch of rain while we were gone. So, so good to be back, even if it does mean seven hundred boxes to be packed. We move in three days. ANYLF shifts zips. What box does the rain gauge go in? How many things to take with us? What gets left behind for staging?

We're supposed to sign another offer on 1303 tomorrow. We shall see, I guess. Looks like chilly rain through the weekend. Keep it tuned right here for all the very latest. Hey, new front porch. Hey, packing tape. Hey, coming back from whatever that was to move into whatever this is going to be. Hey, midrange winter. That bitter, bitter cold is not in the ten-day. Good enough. Good enough, good enough.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Arctic High.

Please do not panic, please, but damn, friends and fans of onrushing winter, it's cold. It was well colder overnight than the 21 degrees they wanted — at 9 this morning it was 17, and the sun had been up a while. The pansies look cooked. Or, well, frozen. They'll bounce back, but they're not doing us any favors curb-appeal-wise. We need a gardener to buy this place anyway, though, and a gardener will know what's what. A gardener will know it's cold.

I keep thinking hard about place, about Michael Pollan's 'hut dream,' though of course it's not his. He talks circles around it in his fantastic book 'A Place of My Own,' now being reissued by Penguin, since he's gone and become all famous and whatnot. The long made short: He builds a writing shed, and meditates a few hundred pages on place and what it means. His version of the hut dream: some of us never escape or outgrow the desperate desire to sling a bedsheet over the kitchen table, to make a hut, to wall off the world, to then make the resultant interior space our own. I'm ready for the new place — ready for its as-if-for-me-made front porch and its perfect back deck tacked on like some prize we've won, ready for its staircase, ready for its uneven upstairs floors, ready to plant another yard all over again, ready to build a new writing shed of my own out back of all of that. But this hut here at 1303: I've liked it. I have, I have. I still very much do.

Do not despair. Temps will moderate through midweek, and even when we come back cold again by the weekend and early next week it won't be this cold. An important disclaimer, however: We are fast approaching the time of year when week-out forecasts might not mean much: something gets jiggled coming down out of Canada and across the mountains and we get three-quarters of an inch of ice instead of mid-fifties and showers. So pay attention, then, out there, OK? Safety first. After that, mead.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Solstice, Again.

Things noticed here at 27408/1303: Daffodils coming up in the little garden under the Japanese magnolia. Historically early, but locally right on time, or thereabouts. Maybe even a little late. Thanks, frigid November. Pansies looking very, very good. Watered, even. The rainfall totals are almost up to snuff for the month, and we've got ten days yet to go. Grass just barely starting to green over. A tiny bit of heat in that wintered early-morning sun. Oh, yeah: sun. Real sun, with blue sky like it might last. We had sun on Friday, yes and OK, but there were all these high thin shields of clouds skimming by that made you know we weren't out of it. This, though, is the kind of sky that says the front's pulled through, that says we're back to cold, cold nights, if not cold days, too. First day of winter. Cold again. Fact remains: you can feel us making the turn all the same.

It's the solstice, friends and fans of grand millennia-old paganizing, of knowing when in fact we've bottomed out and started back towards the other side. The start of winter, in these parts, anyway, really means the start of spring, because from here forward not that many more things die off. From here forward, things start coming back in. This is about as brown and gray as we ever get, save for the half-weeks and weeks of January and February coming that will look like last week, but colder. Give us a snow or two, please, for variety. Give us maybe a good sleet, a glazing of ice on the porch railings, a slick driveway. Give us a day or two off from work. Give us, though, above all else, the slow return to longer days, the promise of evenings taking place in the actual evening.

Friday, December 19, 2008


And sun. And wind. Heavy, heavy fog overnight, and a morning that had no temperature, really, no anything, not even any real light, but then around midday the fog and cloud burned off, or tried to, and we had a shirtsleeves sort of afternoon, a windows down situation. You come in the front door and the it's colder inside the house than out. That sort of day.

Books ordered and shipped all over the country. Crappy wrapping paper on the dining room table. Cookie recipes in the offing. I may be warming to all this bullshit after all. Ho, ho, ho.

Rain again tomorrow into Sunday. Cold again early week. Milder after that. Just get all the clothes you have out. That way you'll probably be ready.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Egg Nog.

It has been a time, it seems like, since we have seen the sun. Today's overcast was more like smoke than cloud, or like you could almost just take a corner of your shirt and wipe everything clear again. No such luck. Cool and damp white-gray out there before sunset. Cool and damp and dark now. The short days, as much as I've always liked them, are starting to snag at me some.

Head back in the book today, if briefly, and even that small moment feels better. Christmas out there on the near horizon, though, and that feels like one too many things. But old acquaintance TLK calls from dry land with an invitation for egg nog this evening, and the TLK egg nog is frankly something to behold, a kind of Christmas miracle in its own soused right, so let's us raise a cup of cheer to a holiday season I almost forgot to see coming, or still can't quite see. Maybe the nog will rub things clean, or cleaner. We'll drink a cup of kindness yet. We will.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Precipitating Fog.

At least that's what the crack team here at ANYLF is calling whatever it is that we've been getting since well before dawn. I don't even know if we've really seen anything measurable since about noon -- when I dumped a quarter-inch out of the rain gauge from all of yesterday's spitting -- but the streets are wet, and the porch was wet when I took out just now, sprinting past yet one more agent: here's hoping, friends and fans of home ownership, and, why not, of precipitating fog.

I'm going to have to propose a moratorium on all Xmas music recorded post-1970 by any star of any caliber, save for John Lennon's 'Happy Christmas (War Is Over),' and that one only once a day. Or we could do it like parking in Boston: Alternate side parking, even days of the week. Something like that. In other Fascinating Things About Boston News, in Boston, people will shovel out a parking space and mark it with a trash can, a traffic cone, a lawn chair. Exceedingly bad form to park in a space somebody else has shoveled and claimed. In other Exceedingly Bad Form News, I'm afraid we can't even have any other Beatles any more: no 'Wonderful Christmas Time' under any circumstance, please.

I've been in a lot of caffeinated-beverage shops of late. 'Tis not the season to hear the chain coffee radio Xmas loop.

Here: I'll make a lone exception: Let it snow, and you can play whatever you like.

For now, in the fog, John Lennon, please, and only very, very judiciously.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Little Rain.

We missed yesterday, friends and fans of weather, so a brief recap: It was warm and windy and overcast and sort of abidingly humid. Today it's cooler, and we've got actual rain to go with it, instead of just the smell of rain. I'd still have to say we're having springlike conditions, however, even if we are now more sort of tearing a page out of March instead of April or May. We're having all the months here in December so far. What's left, I guess, is a long sunny September afternoon. Maybe we'll get that on Christmas day.

Life at 1303 is feeling a little harried. We're showing the house almost every day. No offers yet. We need someone who really, really likes built-in shelves. Come on, people with books. Or maybe people with a kid who has 7 trillion Hot Wheels, all of them in want of display. Open floor plan. That's what we've got. We need people who won't mind seeing each other.

This little burst of rain is about the only thing that's going on this far south (of this part of this storm; more back towards Atlanta and Montgomery). Just the tail of an outlying front dragging itself through the Piedmont. I like it. I feel chosen. Good for the pansies. Good for a long morning full of coffee. Probably time to stop looking out the window, though. Probably time to get back to work.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Security Blanket.

It's gray and cool, but I wouldn't say it's gray and cold. If you left the house without a coat you'd be OK. If you cleared out in twenty minutes after the real estate fancies called and said, Can we show your house in twenty minutes? and you left without a hat, you'd be sad, but OK. When I was a kid I carried a knit monkey with me everywhere. Everywhere. I'm no different now. It's just that it's fleece hats now. I'm half the man I used to be without my hat.

Little drizzle coming down here at the Friendly Center. ANYLF is reporting live from one of them chain-type coffee shops. There's a sort of studious misery on display in here. A beany, sad, flashcard-making desperation at work. Kneebone connected to the. That kind of thing. Gotta study. Gotta memorize. Gotta order a Campfire Mocha. Or a Hot Apple Blast. Or, God save you, a cup of coffee.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Full Moon.

That storm blew itself apart right around sunset last night. It was raining and blowing hard and I was driving down Battleground and out west you could see a small hole through which there was the sunset— we picked up another half-inch overnight from the back half of the storm, and this morning dawned cool and largely cloudless and we're back already at the pattern we've had these past few weeks, cold and dry and cold and dry. The moon tonight is as close as it will be all year. It was huge and perfect coming up in the east this evening. High tides, coastal friends and fans of lunar cycles. We had a spectacular fall. We seem to be having a damn fine winter so far, too. We do like ourselves some seasons over here at ANYLF.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Huge Storm.

How high's the water, Mama? Y'all have a look at this thing: one of the largest storms we've seen in the brief yearish history of ANYLF, one that's supposed to put down better than a foot of snow from Binghamton northward through Maine, and one that snowed several inches in and north of New Orleans, Louisiana. Here it's not so exciting as all that, though we're sporting May-like temperatures and May-like rainfall, an inch and a half so far and maybe another inch on the way, depending upon how long all this holds together. We have not had the severe storms here that the fancies wanted to give us a fair shot at through midday, but we have seen a damn lot of rain. Just trekked out through the back yard, and from the feel of things, the ground's about as full as it can get, so much more of this and I'd say we'd see ye olde low-lying areas up on the crawl of the local weather report of your choice. Streams and creeks. We're working on a very local flood here at 1303 as the water backs up behind our piles of leaves out in the street: sorry, passers-by. I mistimed LeafTruck 08 by a few days.

The porch lamp's been on all day. The kitchen-windowed Christmas cactus is about to bloom. A few crows are set up in the side yard, complaining. It's going to be hard to learn how the light works at the new place. I've only just now got it figured out here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Damned Humid.

It's all warm and busted out there and big rain's coming overnight to the tune of an inch or more, say the NOAA fancies, and everything's wet, everything, even the inside of my skull, because we don't see humidity like this all the time, and when we do, we apparently like to make something of a show out of it, and all the books are swelling, and even the cookies on the buffet at the terrible, terrible thing to which I was somehow committed at midday got sort of staled and sogged such that even though I was hating my commitment to the thing, I was enjoying the fact that the cookies were registering complaint, too, and all I know is that it's a damn good thing it's supposed to go back to forties and twenties by Thursday night or Friday, because if something like this held on much longer, well, the cherry trees would start blooming or something. Daffodils. Crocus, for sure. But we'll freeze those bastards right back down. Wait your turn.

They're playing Silver Bells in the Harris Teeter. Often enough at this time of year I like that fine, but last night while I was trying to buy a box of rice all I really wanted to hear was Simply Red or whatever the hell other shite they generally play while persons are attempting to buy grains.

If it's not raining where you are, then walk the dog right now. Last chance for a while, unless you're a better dog dad than I am.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sixty Degrees.

It's sixty. Right now. Nearing midnight, in December, on the heels of a string of forty-degree days so long I don't really remember how to behave when it's as warm as it is now, which is to say that earlier, during dinner, we had the doors open. It is, in common parlance, fixing to rain. It's even raining a little already, has been, a wind-blown drizzle coming out of the south, mainly, and of course also a wee bit out of the west. Hey, southern winter storm. Hey, big rain. You will, I think, friends and fans of weather, want the umbrellas, the rain boots, the shitty jeans. But let's us not use any more commas tonight. Let's us instead crack the windows open and go to bed and wait for the rain. Let's us remember what it sounds like when there aren't any leaves for the rain to tick down onto. Onto which to tick down. We'll get this right eventually, I'm sure.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rain Coming.

That's the five-day QPF. Even if they've got it a little wrong, it does seem as though the new pansies — I know it's late, too late, even, but I needed some kind of return to something on Sunday — will get good and watered in. So will, it seems, everything else. The rusting truck. The piles of leaves. The cat (or roving raccoon) that/who threw up pink and red and yellow cat food on our front porch overnight. Hell of a way to walk out the door this morning. We tried not to take it as a sign.

Some of the fancies have thunder in the forecast. Now that's winter the way I remember it. Enough of this bone damn cold, OK? Except: Oh, I take it back already. I like the warmish rain. I do. But I also still like, cold as I am, that we're having the correct seasons at the correct time. Already looking forward to tomorrow's coffee. Already looking forward to the four more shirts I'll need to wear tomorrow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cold Night.

Hey, cold. There seems to be something looming midweek that wants to pull us, raining, almost into the sixties, but then we're cold again. So. Cold, cold, cold: winter rolls on. Jupiter and Venus slide further away from the moon, at least as far as we're concerned. The hard freezes continue. The stars tonight were so clear they were blue. Briefly today, in the sun, it wasn't bad. The nighttime dogwalk, though, was cold. Stay warm, Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at sea. Pull the covers up over your chin. Hunker down. Sleep hard, if you can. Sleep close, if you get to. Keep your socks on.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday School.

Good rain out east, but only a trace here. Cold day. Heavy clouds. Feels like we just missed on snow or ice. Now all I want is a nap. Or seven days off in a row. Instead, conferences today, conferences tomorrow, back to class on Monday and Tuesday. Then things ease up. Then there are only conferences, conferences, conferences. You wrote on my story that I needed more plot, they say. You wrote that something more should be happening. Does that mean I should have more plot, and that more things should happen? Yes, I say. Don't have any spaceships or vampires, but it would be nice if your character would do something other than sit in her kitchen and think. Perhaps the water heater could break, I say. Perhaps the neighbor could ring the doorbell.

Oh, they say.

Great, I say, and then they say, Great, and then it's all over, and then somebody else comes in. And those are the good ones. The bad ones go something along the lines of me saying how Yes, in fact, it really would be nice if this was about anything at all.

Oh, they say.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Winter Sky.

In which our hero remembers a pleasure: Driving home, in the truck, into a western winter sky -- best seen coming up and over the little hill out at the Brightwood, somewhere between Burlington and Whitsett and Sedalia. High thin clouds off to the northern side of the sky, gray then orange and then a kind of green-blue, the ground all around all of those colors but orange, the leafless trees graying to black as we worked through the last of the light. Thin clouds in front of the sun itself as it set, making it more like a smudge than a star. Cold and free-falling to colder out there. We'll shortly be into the thirties and then the twenties. It is unabashedly winter. Soup. Scotch. Tea. Coffee. Time to bring out the heavy shirts. Thick socks. Almost time to turn in grades, which will mean an end to anything other than tea and coffee and soup and scotch, and a long beautiful January of living inside the book. But it's only December fifth. Not maybe time to start dreaming yet. Time to start checking for a star in the east, perhaps, but not quite time to expect it to be there. For now, stick to the sunset. The western sky. Too soon to ask for miracles.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mild Night.

A trace: I think we were meant to have more than that, but largely what was to be had was the spitting trace we picked up between 7 and 11ish, the tail of a front wrung dry as it crossed us here. Not much to be said for it other than that, other than dense cloud cover and enough humidity to confuse, to convince you it was warm out there, or warmer, anyway, than it had been. I expect we''ll stay above freezing tonight. The rest of the week, though, takes us back once more to the 40s and 20s, back into the persistent New England winter that's set in here over the past month or six weeks or some odd and so forth. It's cold. It has been cold. It's going to be cold. Goddamn Blue Tick Beagle Paul leaves his Blue Tick beagles out in it. In here, the aging dog sleeps in comfort on the sofa, on her bed, on ours, or, as now, on her front right paw, waiting for me to shut the hell up and go to bed, which is what's left to do tonight, so: Crack a window an inch or so, if you're still awake to do it. Tonight's a mild night by comparison. Rest of the week: hunker down.

Little hint of snow in the forecast for Saturday. No promises from these quarters, but I will say that I think that'd be lovely.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Still Cold.

Frost on the lawn every morning now, that green-gray brittleness all jeweled over and the dog crunching her way around out there on it, looking for a good spot to pee. Reminds me of being a kid, of otherness, of some gauzed memory from some other time altogether, some time when we used to dip below freezing, even in Atlanta, all the time. A time when the local anchors would ask you to bundle up your kids to wait for the bus, and mean it. Nowadays it seems like if you lose your gloves it's no big deal. Back then it seemed to matter. Quite. Today feels like those mornings did, and if not the bus then it would have been a frozen ride to school in my father's 1963 VW bug, ragtop closed down but leaking plenty of cold highway air anyway. If I work on it I can remember what my jacket looked like. If I work on it I can conjure up a stocking cap, a sweater added on at the last minute, a pair of gloves ruined in the previous winter's snowfall. This is, of course, all from back when it used to snow. Maybe we're on the verge of having that sort of winter. The last buyers, the fuckers who fell through on us, wanted to know about our heating bills. Maybe we should tell the next ones that we don't really know, that it hasn't been winter since we lived here, that we have no idea what Duke Power might be getting ready to send us this month, that we don't really know any more what it means when it gets cold. All we know is that we think we've seen this before, think we remember a little bit about what this used to feel like, maybe.

It's cold. Not bitter, arctic cold, but cold all the same. The forecast has us staying that way a while longer. Be ready out there at the bus stop, friends and fans of weather, of gloves, of hats and scarves and all other wintertime accessories. Be prepared, the scoutmaster would tell us. We are prepared! we'd shout back, even when we knew we weren't.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Setting Sun.

Yesterday it looked like this. Today it got sunnier. Windier, just as cold, but sunnier. Sometimes. I did quit my class briefly this afternoon to have everybody look out the window at the setting sun lighting up the west wall of the library, which from our third-floor classroom several hundred yards up the quad seemed oh, I don't know, collegiate at the very least, if not verily and somehow magical. Whatever you do, I told them, if you write about this, do not call the light golden. But what if it is? they said. This is Creative Writing, I said. For fuck's sake, do not say the light is golden. Do not say it's all long and yellow. Do not say anything like that about it at all.

Winter—real, honest winter, bizarrely—rolls on. Cold again tomorrow. Enjoy, friends and fans of seasonally appropriate weathers.