Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Night.

I'm sitting here in the light of the tree on the very cusp of the morning of the last night of the year with more icy rain than was forecast falling outside, and all I can think is: this is good. Even without downspouts on the outbuilding, this is good. This is how it goes right here at the dead damn bottom of the year. There is a woodstove. There is the stewing idea of a blackeyed-peas-and-pork stew for tomorrow, or for the First. There is the way things go, goddamnit. There. I said it. There is the way things go. This is the way things go. A new year. A new building. A new woodstove, installed by a dude who said, in response to my urging him not to cut the shit out of himself, I hope I don't. I'm on a lot of blood thinners.

May we all make it around the corner of the new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Getting Colder.

If I do get a woodstove into that building back there, it'll be just in time—a warmish (maybe fifty degrees?) rain is forecast for some point over the next forty hours, and then we set back into that highs-in-the-low-forties/lows-in-the-low-twenties kind of thing. We'll get a tinfoil sun to go with it, probably a little breeze, and it'll take until late morning to get fully light, and then we'll already be pushing evening by four o'clock. This is how it goes as we spin into the new year here on the Piedmont. This is January, leastways the seasonal version of it. Years past we've had sixties and seventies and dry and dry. But twenty inches over our average rainfall for the year and a serious December snow means this is not years past. This is this year, or the end of it, anyway. Auld Lang Syne and all that, OK? Tinsel? Champagne? Long sleeves and more long sleeves? Gird up, people. By February the light gets longer. By February one starts to sense some kind of grinding change. But January is a haul, pure and simple. January requires commitment. January is an acquired taste. This is to say nothing of late December. I love it, and you do, too, but I'm still trying to make sure we're all ready for it. It takes a lot to shut one year down and get another one underway. Let's us count up fingers and toes. Make sure we've got our mittens, our mufflers. Buy an extra bag of coffee means just in case. A can of soup or two. Batteries. A flashlight. Let's not let some brand-new year arrive and catch us unawares.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Afternoon Light.


Again TLK rides the avenging angel of the green pickup to my rescue, and the windows are in. Warmest it was all day is how it was this morning, and things just fell off from there. Cold and clear. Threat of snow late week. But the windows are in, frozen fingers be damned, and we see right out there on the edge of the horizon, just out there past where the sextant can say what is and what isn't, the prospect of all of this—well, Phase One, anyway, which is: tear the building to shreds, and then paste it back towards usable—coming to some kind of Januaried close, which is to say: has anyone ever seen a sentence do what this one is doing? And: might we finally, sometime soon, move back towards the idea of sentence, and away from the idea of inch-and-five-eighths exterior-rated screws? I love the work. Don't get me wrong. But I'm ready, now, again, to work—to sit at the desk, to see what there might be in that halfassed half of a new book. Enough—oh, wait for it, friends and fans of puns—screwing around.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Twelve Days.

We hit fifty degrees today, friends and fans of weather, and I surely hope you enjoyed it—serious winter returns tomorrow and hangs on through the new year. Snow late week, maybe, and rain. Low forties will be as good as it gets. Makes a body happy to have hung glueless gutters off the front of the shed this afternoon. Oh, compression fittings. Oh, no minimum temperature for gutter glue to bind, to set up, to etcetera. Oh, brand-new vinyl gutters hung off brand-new PVC soffit boards. Those things will be here after the building to dust itself returns. I know, I know. My fault we raise our general temp degree by degree. My carbon footprint expanded by them selfsame vinyl gutters, them selfsame PVC soffits and eaves. But I say unto thee: mightn't there be some offset by the building not rotting, not needing replacement? By the tax-credit woodstove to be installed this week? By the bats and bats of insulation, coming soon to a shed near you? Is bats of insulation anything like a murder of crows? Tune in next week, when we'll hear our hero say...

...it rained at least an inch and half over Christmas, and the redone building did not leak. It is lying in a low spot in the yard, but it's now swaddled in Tyvek, so here's to progress. Here's to new doors, windows where there once were doors, flashing, and all else learned water-intrusion-wise in the last fifty or three hundred years. The building is dry, and the building is sound, so far, knock on oriented strand board. But that has got to be more than enough—for now, anyway—about my little slab-on-grade situation. Instead, let's say this: Cold dogwalk tonight after dark. Whatever front that brings the chilly weather back has come through, or is coming through. It's about to be January, and it feels like it. Happy bowl week. Happy St. Steven's Day. Happy what have you. It's that emptied-out season. It's the best part of Christmas. It's time, maybe, to go in the other room and sit by the tree. You haven't taken it down yet, have you? You're not one of those clean-up-right-after-it's-over types, are you? If you are, go out to the curb and get that thing and put it back up. Twelve days of Christmas, people. Twelve. At least. You have to block out time to play with your toys.

Friday, December 25, 2009

White Christmas.

Snow up here in 28805. Not today's snow: what we got out of the sky today was ice and rain, and mainly rain, at that. But there's so much snow left here from last week's blizzard that if you wanted to call this a White Christmas, you probably could. Somebody get Bing Crosby in here with a pipe and maybe a tumbler of bourbon. Somebody get Donna Reed. Was that Donna Reed in that film? Probably not. Does it matter? Probably not.

The dogs have been walked; the presents have been opened. ANYLF got a BMX bicycle and a radio-remote controlled car and a big book on paper airplanes and some socks and a gift certificate to Coconut's Records and Tapes at the mall. I'm totally buying Jefferson Starship's Knee Deep in the Hoopla. Time now to shower up and put on that scratchy new white shirt and sit down to the big formal dinner, candles and napkin rings and all. And then, at the end, my Dad'll bring in the flaming figgy pudding.

It was a good Christmas. They always are, though, aren't they, in their own way? There is always weather, one way or the other. There is always that same feeling of waking up just before sunrise on Christmas morning. I don't get out of bed right then any more, but there is still that feeling all the same. Not sure I ever want to be cured of that. Happy Christmas, out there, Weatherheads, if that's the way you tilt. If not, then happy Friday. God -- or NOAA -- bless us, every one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

French Doors.

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. French doors, even prehung, are no simple thing to hang. Not to mention: it's hard as hell to hang house wrap right-side up. You don't know how hard until you've started.


Rain coming. Then sun. This is how it goes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Long Day.

Doctor. On the mend. Outbuilding. On the mend.

Today, though, friends and fans of wheeling through the solar system, was of course not as long as yesterday.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Solstice Happenings.

It's dark and cold, the steeple's lit up through the kitchen windows, there's ice in the yards and snow on the roofs. Solstice. Quiet. Took the third wall off the outbuilding, the bad wall, the below-grade wall, and found the sill plate improbably, impossibly, sound. I had expected disaster, rot, fiasco, and instead found only minor infestation and incidental damage. Nothing rising to plague status. New sheathing back up, and now there's just the french-drained front wall to go. Doors and windows in on Wednesday. What surprises could be left? Surely nothing as surprising as the moment I ran the screw gun through—through, friends and fans of puncture wounds—my thumb late this afternoon. In one side and out the other. Had the presence of mind to take myself off the ladder, walk to the back door, knock on the glass, ask AMR to untie my shoes and implement our Emergency Action Plan, which was: run impaled thumb under cold water; try not to faint or die. Apply gauze. Check in the mirror for level of greenness in face. Oh, I was green.

Tomorrow: the home improvement big box, and a tetanus shot at the walk-in clinic near the big box. I am wounded, but lo, I am not slain. Left thumb. I'm right-handed. Could be worse. As through and through puncture wounds go, in fact, this has got to be about the best-case scenario.

My little building out back is meant to be some kind of something I stand up against the rest of the world, a little place to try and make sense of what there is. What must those pre-anything folks have thought when they figured out that today was the bottom of the year, that every day after brought them closer to planting, to harvest, to living in the mouth of the cave instead of back by the fire?

The dog comes in the kitchen, wagging, wants out so she can come back in. This is about all we ever want, isn't it?

Owls out there in the trees. Close.

That low sun today, lowest of the year—there was warmth in it still.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Christmas.

There's always been something lonely—and this is reportage, or confession, and absolutely not lament—about Christmas for me. Maybe I get it from my dad, who can be so, so present, and then jackknife back into himself around the corner of a dinner or a party. There's something about the deepening darkness of the season, the pressure of gifting, the need to celebrate in outward ways—lights, camera—that runs counter, somehow, to the way I've turned out. We loved Christmas growing up, made it from scratch out of state dinners and refrigerator-sized boxes of decorations. Or: my mother made it, would be the way to say this most accurately. It was her holiday, and they were her decorations. An embarrassment: once we were old enough, we boys formed a confederacy of mockery, teased her about the mice up the bannister, the holly on the mantel, but here and now I want to say I've finally come to understand it, wish I'd understood it then—she had to make the season into something that made sense to her, which is all any of us are ever trying for, right? There's what I think might be a communal loneliness about Christmas, about the bottom of the year—we say hello to one another walking dogs, hanging lights, but mightn't all the dogwalking and light-hanging be one more way of showing outwardly how badly we mean to be part of it all, but then, and still, how necessarily we must return to our own houses? How much we need to have our own trees, brought inside our own living rooms, strung with our own ornaments? I love this time of year, love what my parents gave me, which was an insistence, for instance, that they could hear Santa's sleigh bells on the roof, which would send us scurrying to bed—I love the memories of that full house at Christmas, the goose, the apples, the stockings, the oranges, the fucking Depeche Mode two-tape Live From Red Rocks that was the only thing I wanted that year—but I love, too, that first memory of sitting with my mom, or with my dad, in that late-night glow of the lights on the tree, the radio playing low, and then coming up, surprisingly, those first times, that first time, with an abiding sense of deep loneliness—of being alone, even as I sat with someone else.

Some gap opens up in me at Christmas. And I like it, like to remember it again—that gap is there all year, and I notice it all year, but in the shine of these lights, I feel like maybe I can see it more clearly. And more clearly still with these four inches of snow and sleet on the ground. This has been forever and always, even in the sheen of Diamondback bikes, a season of confusion, and I welcome it back here and now, tonight, this week, this month. Bring on the dog, the corn muffins, the pot of chili, the snapped push broom, ruined in an attempt at snow removal. Bring on this little hollow place. Bring on the abject sentiment and the recalibration that comes with that. Merry Christmas. Happy Christmas. There will still be coffee tomorrow, there will still be three meals. But you tell me if it doesn't, every time it comes around, feel different—if it doesn't feel like, regardless of your persuasion or affiliation, that there's some star, somewhere, that you're meant to set off and follow, not necessarily with any other companions, however wise, but on your own.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Three Inches.

I'm saying three inches of snow and sleet. And, friends and fans of weather, I'm going to bed while I can still hear it tick down onto the roof. A wee storm. Not much more. Beautiful all the same. More on that tomorrow.

Late Morning.

No snow yet, friends and fans of wintry mixing. But here's that low they've been promising as it gets ready to exit the Gulf:


And the forecast snow by 7 pm:


And here's an early band of something, well out in front of the storm itself:


None of that's hitting the ground yet, but this does in fact look like it could be something. Hang tight out there, Weatherheads. Any hatches you might have should probably be battened down.

Six, Twelve.

Now the fancies say six to twelve. Inches. Of snow. Here. In Greensboro. In December. Can this be so? Have I got anything here to sled on?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Storm Warning.

They seem to really think it'll snow. Some of the thems are scaling back to three to five inches, but: three to five inches is three to five inches. Even one to three is one to three. I did go to the store for milk, though, and it was busy, but not jackshit crazy. So that's the forecast, then, from the most trusted name in ANYLFery: busy, but not jackshit crazy. Keep it tuned—oh, friends and fans of weather, you know the words to this song—keep it tuned right here for the very latest.

The chimney dude wants to cut a chimney into the outbuilding tomorrow morning. I love it when a plan comes together.

Storm Watch.

From The Weather Channel:


From The National Weather Service:

Friday: Snow after 1pm. High near 35. East wind between 3 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

Friday Night: Snow before midnight, then snow and sleet. Low around 30. North wind between 11 and 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow and sleet accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

From WFMY:


Is it me, or is the low estimate here two inches? And then the NWS wouldn't be stunned if we saw seven? The hour-by-hour on weather.com wants us to be 23 degrees tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm. People, I do not know what to tell you, but I've told you now. Bread and milk.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snow Storm?

What? My four days of sun are now a day and a half of sun followed by fucking snow? Sorry, kids, but sometimes, when mommies and daddies take the back walls off their outbuildings because it looks like they're going to have four days in which to redo the, ah, walls, and then the National fucking Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is all, Oh, by the by, instead of dry and cool and sun, there may in fact be an inch of rain if you're lucky, but what we in fact really think is that there will be snow, why then, mommies and daddies sometimes get a little torqued off at the, ah, forecast. Which is where I now find myself beached, in that torqued-off region, in that the back wall is all but off, and there's no hope of really getting it all the way back on, and the snow seems increasingly likely. What the hell? Is it even Christmas? Solstice? It is not. It is neither of those.

Let me be clear: if it snows, I'll pull my weathery self together, and I'll like it. But here's how my building was this morning: it had four walls. Here's how it is now: it has three and a half. Siding and sheathing off the back wall, new framing in, sheathing half back up. Maybe another wall or two tomorrow, if I'm lucky. But what then? Drape a big poncho over the whole enterprise?

If there was not OutbuildingSituation2009 in progress, then I'd say that what we'd be most likely to see is drizzle and clouds and mid-thirties. But something's telling me an inch and a half of wet snow. It's damn cold out there, and it will have been cold enough to matter for several days by the time Friday afternoon pulls itself up to the trough. All of the fancies are saying the storm track is in our favor, if favor means snow indoors. Fuck and fuck, boys and girls. It's my favorite damn thing in the world, and it's three days too early. We shall see. Nobody knows. But if you let the dog out late this evening—and I did—then you know that even though it's clear as glass out there, it smells like something. It smells like several things, actually, but what it might not smell like is remodeling.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Rest.

There's wind kicking up out there, which must mean the front's coming through—this is the week of tearing the writing shed down to the studs on both sides, but saving the roof, so I confess to feeling OK about having waited for tomorrow morning to start the big exterior demo: open studs with a saved roof probably makes for a terrific sail. One thing I know for sure I want in a shed: I want it in my yard, and not down the street.

The how of all of this has had me tied up in knots, though: came close to tears yesterday thinking about the first or second of January, once the walls are back on and the stove's in, sitting in a lawn chair with a cup of coffee on the concrete slab and listening to the fire burn and warm my 209 square feet. I know how to do it all, or that part I don't know how to do I can figure out—I've just been thinking about it too long. Need to go ahead and pull it all apart so I can start putting it back together. I've been chewing on it a year. That leaves plenty of time to make good decisions, but now it's time to really go on and make them. I'm dreaming of flashing, of beveled siding, of chop saws and framing. I'm ready to go back to dreaming normal things, like debilitating fear of the world at large.

It's been almost four weeks since I worked on the new book. The inside of my head feels like it. I have to teach myself not to pause like this.

What do you want to know, Weatherheads? Do you want to know about the cold? About the four sunny days coming, and the chance of snow after that? This front that's dry here but pushing all manner of rain ahead of it down south? The coming solstice? Coffee beans? Good scotch? The notion that one full night of sleep might save us all? Or just this: the backyard steeple, which I can see from all over town, lit up in all this early dark, a strange marker, always, of where I'm meant to bed down?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Scouting Weather.

How it is not snowing right now—or why—escapes me. I know there's a fancy science reason. Or, more likely, it's a not-so-fancy reason: not cold enough. And I don't mind a morning like this—love it, even—but I would have been altogether ready and happy to wake up to snow and ice out there today.

Let's just us be happy, though, friends and fans of the change of seasons, with what we've got: camping weather. Thirty-five degrees and a steady rain. Mr. Smallwood, our old Scoutmaster, would wake us up on days like this by banging a wooden spoon against the bottom of one of the big kettles he used for boiling water and yelling, It's A Great Day For Scouting! And it was. It is. So wake up, buys and girls. Eat your Pop-Tarts. Let's get ready to break camp and move along.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cold Weather.

Hey, dark wintertime. This is the stuff. The neighborhood smells like woodsmoke. It's well below freezing. Might not have made it past 40 today. The cars don't want to turn over right at first. The dog's got about as much fur as you'd expect, which is to say, we are moving out of coyote territory and toward wolf. There's a lot of digging going on in here—on carpets, on sofas, on chairs. The dog is keen on making nests. The dog is preparing if not for hibernation then for something close to it.

No tree yet. We've got to get a tree in here, get lights on it. With no tree, how am I meant to settle for true and certain into the melancholy of the season? Hard to sit up in the childhood glow of little red and pink and green pinlights and put on music AMR won't generally let me listen to and sadsack my way through the last hour before bed if there's no tree to hang those lights on. We'll have to rectify this by the end of the weekend. Supposed to rain all day Sunday. That'd be a good day to already have the tree in here, a good day to untangle whatever lights I can pull from the attic, a good day to see what there is to be done about all of this.

I may have kicked the cold. I quit my whole damn life today and spent the day in bed. I finally got dressed at 8 pm. That, friends and fans of winter, will cure what ails you. I feel better, I think. I hope. We'll see.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mending, Hopefully.

And now it's colder. It's genuinely cold. And here's what else, friends and fans of cold, and of colds: We here at 709 remain ill. This is the illest I've been with no fever that I can remember. The Thanksgiving cold threatens to stretch into Christmas. I am considering rioting. I may riot. What I may do is go in there and light the kitchen on fire and see what happens. I have demands.

The dog is curled into the space of maybe a sofa pillow on the sick bed I've adopted here in the overheated downstairs. AMR is upstairs, drugged and hoping for sleep. If we get enough dry days in a row here in the next week or so, and if I can find my sea legs, there will be no walls and then new walls on the outbuilding. Until then, here's hoping for deep breaths. For less coughing. For health by the solstice, the bottom of the year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Taken Down.

It's a hell of a lot warmer out there—I left the house late afternoon, having not been outside in a while, in far too many shirts. All that wind made me think it would be colder. It is not. It will be. But that is not what I've come here to talk to you about tonight, friends and fans of windstorms.

I've come to tell you this and this only: things blown down between here and the puppet show: most Christmas trees at most Christmas tree lots. One traffic light. Two nativity scenes.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ill Weather.

People, it rains. It rains and it rains, and here is how much: three weeks ago I bought a flat of pansies to put in the front pots. They're still in the flat. I have not watered them. No matter. They look better now, three freezes on, than when they came home from the store. It rains.

And the cold will not abate, inside or out. Outside, winter sets in, and in style. One wants for snow, instead of rain, but though one is in the minority, one will take this: one likes the kind of weather that dictates when and in what amount coffee will be coming tomorrow. Or I do, anyway. And inside, CDC-Greensboro continues its lab work. We are petri dishes in here. We are ill in the way of preschoolers. Or lab rats. We do not sleep. We know our ways around the relevant drug info on the back of something like sixteen different packages of feel-pretty. We may not last the week.

Send help. Or cough syrup. Or whiskey. When will it end? Doesn't matter: I sleep downstairs until the plague passes. Cracking a window to hear the rain hit the driveway. Could be worse. I love that sound.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Old Songs.

And when we hear/the voices sing/the book of love will open up/and let us in. Not heard often in the Mr. Mister recording sessions, I bet: Should we pull that back a little?

I can't say we're recovered around these parts, but one of us felt well enough to spool the dog through the increasingly Xmas-light-lit neighborhood, which has to be an improvement. And we cooked a meal. And here it is nearly midnight, and ANYLF is up and awake to see it. Widespread killing frost these last two mornings, enough to take out anything left that didn't belong. December. On the mend. On the freeze. Here we go.

In Did You Order The Outbuilding Windows In Time News, I may not have, but going with stock sizes at the big box may be the better of lesser evils, anyway. We shall see. Almost no matter what: Newly buttoned building, new windows and doors, new stove, new insulation by the first of the year. If not, then all of that save the windows, which should make for an interesting building, an interesting January. You thought you liked the weather before, ATP?

More rain on the way, of course. This is what it used to be like here before, I hear. I've only been here ten years. Never seen it rain like this.

I love it. I love it better now that I can breathe. As soon as I can taste coffee, then Katie bar the door, whatever the hell that means.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Weekend.

Friends and fans of weather, the Thanksgiving cold is a gift that will not stop giving, and so I tell you only this: it was gloriously cold and gray and rainy yesterday, and it was gloriously cold and clear this morning, and it is gloriously cold and graying back over now.

Fluids and medication. Medication and fluids. Got to heal up so I can get out and enjoy this.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Possible Snow.

What you need to know, friends and fans of weather, is not that it will snow, or even that it almost certainly won't, but that it could. That is what you need to know. That when you stepped out into the backyard late into the evening and thought you smelled those wet cold clouds moving through, you weren't wrong. That we may have seen a little fog earlier, and half of a shower, and that, yes, even though it was well into the forties, it's OK if you thought for a second the water on the windshield was a little syrupy.

Cold rain tomorrow. Maybe a little sleet. Maybe a little ice. Maybe a little snow. Probably not. But maybe. It may be winter. It looks like it's going to stay that way for a few days, even after the sun comes back out. Alright, then. Gloves. Plans. Sleep. Coffee. Cold.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Second?

So it's windy out there, but the problem is that it's turned warm -- it was well down into the forties this morning, and it's edging up through the sixties now. The result? Everything's wet. Every surface. Front porch, cat porch. The inside of the now-unheated now-uninsulated shed is a good fifteen degrees colder than the outside temp, and so the windows are dripping condensation. And the fancies, as of now, want snow—the non-stick kind, but still, snow—on Saturday. Welcome, friends and fans of weather, to March. The seasons of no season at all continue apace. The rain continues like we now live somewhere it rains. I do not know what to tell you. The only thing I think I know to do is thank my brother for the illness he brought to Nashville and that's now settled into this house, and hope for clearer heads and better coffee—or the ability to taste said coffee, good or bad—by tomorrow. What I do know for sure: if you were, say, battling a Thanksgiving cold, well then, this would be the weather that would help you perhaps into and then back out of it.

There is good news: the electrician says I have enough electricity to do the electric things to the shed that need doing. The roofer says he can ridge-vent the thing for a pittance. The chimneyer says he wants to do the woodstove chimney on the cheap. Tune in next time, when we'll hear our hero say: it seemed like it wasn't going to cost anything, but then we went broke.

And it didn't even really rain enough (an inch? a little more?) to know for sure whether the French drain French-drained. Oh, folly. Oh, tilting at windmills. Oh, renovations. Oh, weathers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Flood Watch.

It seems like we here on the Piedmont might know the words to this song:


That's the current (6:30 pm EST) satellite, and here's ye olde QPF for the next 24 hours:


Maximum rain value, as per our NOAA forecast: 2.75". Flood Watch until midnight on the 3rd.

People, it rains now. That's just all there is to it. This might be the last storm we ever see, and the whole of the staff here at ANYLF may well within a matter of weeks return to what we've always known best, which is drought-based complaint and concern, but for right here and now, on the heels of the second month this year where our measured rainfall exceeded our expected rainfall by more than seven inches, I think even a body like me would have to say it rains. Hey, test of the new French drain. Hey, unfixed sump pump. Hey, newly strangely (undiagnosedly) leaky front porch.

KFW, if you're listening in out there tonight, I want you to know that I saw Van Denton (a) wearing, last night on the T and V, the reddest sportcoat I've ever seen, and that (b) while wearing said coat, he said the internal pressure of this storm would be lower than that Ida thing that spun through here two weeks back. You know what, though, Weatherheads? It's the holiday season. Let's give that information away for free not just to KFW but to each and every one of you clicking in. My gift to you. Mine and Van Denton's, anyway.

If you live elsewhere, go on about your business. If you live here, though, or nearby (use the above maps if you need assistance), then hunker down.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blue Lights.

We were out of coffee here at 27401, that most banal of things to report, lifewise, but it's true anyway, and it leaves the forecast on life support, on tea, but that's alright: we look a bit like London out there, and there's what seems to be a little squally rain on the way in out of the north and west, a fine way to carry us out the other side of a month that'll show us nearly eleven inches of rain before we're said and done, which will be a few short hours from now.

Coming this week, at 8 pm EST to a television near you: most of the old sixties Christmas specials. Charlie Brown. Rudolph. The Grinch. Hanging lights off the front of the house last night with TLK, it occurred to me that I like the season a hell of a lot better than I like the actual day itself. Even if it is a big-boy bike you're getting, a Diamondback without training wheels, there's something about the day that can't ever quite live up to whatever it is there is about November 30 or December 8 or the second Saturday out, going to the mall with your dad to shop for your mom—there's something about all the buildup that's better, something that gives you not quite hope, per se, but perhaps a general softness about the world, a belief, maybe, that as we wheel toward the darkest days of the year, the earth will in fact again tilt back the other way, and that we will warm and light ourselves once more. Or maybe it's just that we here at ANYLF are more inclined to worship at the altar of the solstice, and of weather, than we are anybody else's falderal. No matter: TLK, person extraordinaire, last night co-captained the operation back to the big box well after dark to buy more blue lights. Blue lights were where it was at, he asserted. Blue lights were still what was called for, even after we'd hung all the blue lights I had. So we did—buy more, that is, and hang those up, too—and so kicks off the season, whichever season it may be. Happy birthday, Frosty says, once they do whatever it is they do to him to bring him to life. This is before the tragedy in the greenhouse, of course.


We are home from Thanksgiving. Rescued from it, really. It is nearly December. There are low clouds. It is cool if not cold. Weather is on its way in. It is time for another cup of tea.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Momma Said.

Most of the fields on the ride in are browned over now, even though we haven't seen a freeze. I think I'm ready for one—I think I need some reminder of what we're up against. As it is, it sometimes feels as though we drag through the days and weeks with not nearly enough markers to know what to name everything. So goes November, friends and fans of these returning clouds. It's cool out there, but not so cool you need long sleeves for both layers. Oh, and that sound you hear may be the nest of bees inside my head. Or maybe it's just the one inside of yours.

Last day before Thanksgiving break. This thing gets a little more complicated every damn year. So does everything else, though, right? I think my momma may have said there'd be days like these. I think I just never believed her.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oceans Apart.

Another big shield of rain seems headed 27401ward here this evening—this has the makings of one of those nights where you're just hoping it's still raining when you go to bed so you can crack the window and listen to it go. You may want to tick the heater up a degree or two with this strategy. Sorry, carbon footprint. Sometimes mental health wins out.

In shed news—and oh, Weatherheads, I know you're wondering about the shed—all the rest of the rotten and sometimes ant-infested insulation is out, and all the knowledge one might need about damage, water-based and otherwise, is there for the taking. Answer: some, but so much better than what I was expecting to find that even when 'It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas' came on Delilah (today's journaling prompt: 'happiness outside the box') on the way home from a Sunday night puppet show commitment, I listened to it, and I maintained my good humor. Oh, Delilah. Do you think he'll ever come back? I just get so lonely this time of year. AMR, riding shotgun, after 'It's Beginning...' bled into some sort of A Very Mariah Xmas: what'll she bleed to next? A Richard Marx song?

OK. Let's just stop right there, shall we? 'Right Here Waiting' was ABOUT me and my long-distance middle-school summer-camp relationships, OK? Or high school. A quick internet search suggests I may have been in ninth grade when that thing came out. STILL. Now is not the time for mocking Richard Marx. Or for reminding me that other people do things like discover The Clash in ninth grade. For a brief period of time, I felt that Richard Marx may have been important, or was at least chronicling my deeds in song. Hold on to the night, people. Hold on to the memories.

Cold and steady rain. This is the kind of forecast you would have sold your thumb for in August. Not your good thumb. Your other one. But still.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Morning Edition.

Saturday morning edition: in the van on the way to the beach, my brothers sharing the bench seat in the middle, the back bench all to myself, the rule of primogeniture, etc. Or: in the red VW bug, a 1968 ragtop, the one my dad got after somebody crunched his white 1964 one, McDonald's breakfast out there in his and my immediate future, a trip to the mall two weeks before Christmas to shop for my mom, a trip to the hardware store any time of year for six bolts, a machine screw, a switch. Back in that van for an early soccer game in Roswell, back in that bug for an early baseball game out at Morgan Falls, the dump-cum-baseball field complex north of where we lived. In every one of these let's make me eight or nine—not quite old enough to know anything more than that Scott Simon's voice meant good things. Later on it'd come to mean I was up way too early on a Saturday.

We went cold last night—left for the after-dark dogwalk with no jacket, and regretted it. Woke up early enough this morning to make the prospect of seeing some chilly weather, drinking a pot of coffee, and switching on the radio seem like exactly how to spend a thinly-clouded Saturday morning. And here comes the theme song for that second hour.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Strange Days.

It feels a little strange around here when the sun's out, like someone left the cover off of something. We've seen so much rain and fog and drizzle and general cloud these last two weeks I don't really know what to do with a day like today. I mean, I can remember last weekend, have it as a kind of a jeweled set of days that felt like this one already does, but I don't really remember anything specific about it. I remember the sunny days right now like I used to remember the rainy days, back before it really started raining again: they feel familiar, but I can't quite say much else for sure about them.

If it's sunny enough, maybe we'll crisp over enough to do a little raking. Maybe a trip to the big box for a few bags of mulch to cover over some of the post-French-drain mudfest that is the perimeter of the writing shed. For now: a second pot of coffee. Let's not do anything to get ahead of ourselves, OK? Let's hold right about here in the ten-thirty hour and see what might arrive next.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Weather.

Or it would be, if it was twenty degrees colder. Still, I'll take these last two days. Pork stew. Brussels sprouts. Short ribs. Coffee. These are the foods you want to lean toward in times like this.

Heavy fog on the way home from the puppet show. Windshield-wiper fog.

Supposed to clear off tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wintertime Barometer.

In order to determine the heaviness of the fog, one might, if one was up and about and padding around the house, determine whether or not the steeple, now that the leaves are down, was visible from the back windows. This morning: not visible. The fog, then: heavy.

Not so heavy that we can't see the houses next door, so it's not like we're entirely alone on this planet, but it does seem possible that there's only a very few of us left. One lovely thing about the fog: so, so quiet out there. And unless I'm crazy, it seems to be thickening a little.

Happy Tuesday to those of you who are not yet needing to see the sun.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

French Drained.

First, see if you can get it to rain eight inches in one month, seven of those in a week. If you have any normally-waterlogged areas, this will amplify all of the situations possible: it will show you where your drainage problems are, and it will also make the digging—there is going to be some digging—easier.

Determine that every single person who's looked at it, who's told you even one thing about it, is right—you really need to drain the entire frontage, plus some, of that outbuilding. 27 feet. A 27-foot trench, 12-18 inches deep and 24 inches wide, is what's called for.

Do it in a weekend.

Here's what fit in the trench, with room to spare: 2,050 pounds of pea gravel.

Which means—and this is only a guess, but I wheelbarrowed the dirt out, and the gravel back in, and I feel like I can say with some authority that the exceptionally wet clay weighed about what the gravel did—at least 2,050 pounds of dirt up the hill and through the driveway and back down the hill to the downhill mouse's yard—she's got drainage problems of her own, has some shifting of the grade in mind.

I did landscaping in my teens and twenties. I remember dump truck loads of gravel and of soil in clients' driveways, remember having to move that amount of shite in a day or two.

Oh, teens and twenties. Right now the fucking tops of my feet hurt (sorry, kids). Everything, everything hurts. My teens and twenties may, it turns out, have been 15-20 years ago.

If we ever get water in that building again, I will probably have to kill the French. I will be all, Please hold still while I club you in the head with this sack of gravel, s'il vous plait.

Two astonishingly beautiful days to go with all this pain, though. Sun and seventies. So beautiful. So. One more day of that tomorrow, and then we cool off, and that'll be beautiful, too. Keep it tuned here: there may be keen interest next time it rains.

Postscript: cut to me cutting a small piece of the landscape fabric off the roll after I'd dumped 2,050 pounds of gravel into the trench—I came inside and made a little pouch and ran it under the sink to make sure it was water-permeable. Nice timing, me. Result of experiment: it is. I would have had to kill myself with a sack of gravel otherwise.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Water Vapor.


That's Ida there, just off the coast, or well off the coast, I guess, in comparison to where it's been—and those are the high clouds we've got this morning right there in the center of North Carolina, and, locals, if you look out your window, that is the sun you're seeing, even through those high clouds. Remember the sun?

We are on our way towards unseasonable warmth, and I can't, I guess, complain—the kitchen windows are open back here in the back of the house, and the wind is making that winter sound it makes as it comes through the mainly leafless branches, and I've already been to the store and back, and there is juice in the house, and good bread. A day of trench-digging stretches out in front of me here at 709—one thing seven inches of rain will do for you is show you just where and how you ought to French drain your writing shed. I'm looking forward to the work, even: something straightforward, like a hole in the ground, something that doesn't come with a lot of questions, might be good on a day like today.

If you do have any questions, though, I offer this, from the grocery, this morning:

Dad, to two kids, ages maybe eight and nine: Well, if you vote for the team you think will win, your odds are pretty good. But if you vote for the team you want to win, it gets harder.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Your Letter.

Dear KFW:

In brief answer to your query, dated 5:48 a.m. November 13, here is about the best we at ANLYF can piece together vis-a-vis what in tarnation is going on out here, or out there, in the Mid-Atlantic: Yes, this is still, sort of, Ida. First, a short film, which takes us give or take to Tuesday (you may have to hit "refresh" on the browser of your choice to cause it to play):











Thanks, NASA! That's from this fabulous NASA article about Ida, which is itself part of this fabulous NASA web situation having to do with hurricanes in general. Cite your sources, people. Now: where were we? Ah. Yes. That film was Ida making landfall, coming up out of the Gulf and ashore at give or take Alabama, but that was only part of the fun. What happened then was that it rode basically across the panhandle of Florida and through south Georgia and then set up off the coast of the Carolinas sort of as itself, and sort of as a new coastal low, and it may or may not have incorporated another little coastal low, and then all that strengthened. Or re-strengthened. Here's what NASA has to say about it in their above-noted article (and the pressure information is specific to Nov. 12):

What's interesting is that Ida is a stronger system now as a coastal low pressure system than when it made landfall in Dauphin Island, Alabama as a tropical storm. At that time, its minimum central pressure was 999 millibars. Today, its minimum central pressure is 992 millibars.

And here are a couple of images of that stronger coastal low, spinning down there somewhere near Wilmington and Myrtle, dropping seven inches of rain on Greensboro, among other spots. First, infrared from Wednesday afternoon, as things are setting up:


And then satellite from yesterday afternoon:



One thing the NASA folks talk about is how Ida "spread out" before landfall; that is, as near as I can tell, Ida still made landfall as a storm of some manner, but had already seen enough shear and general fallout (and may even have separated into two lows—its surface low and upper-level low may have become uncoupled) to become pretty disorganized pretty quickly—not strong enough, any longer, to hold itself together on any real kind of track. Then, once what was left hit the Atlantic, instead of having remnant tropical circulation—instead of having real circulation of its own—it reintensified as what was/is almost a new storm, the nor-easter that hit us all day yesterday and is hitting New Jersey today.

Here's an actual expert explaining things a little more expertly: Stu Ostro at his fancy Weather Channel blog.

Finally, here's a current (10 a.m./Nov. 13) satellite shot from NOAA—


—which makes it look as though what we might now be seeing is more fog and remnant cloud cover than anything else, and that all this is about over and done with. So. Yeah. That was still Ida. This is still Ida. But: it's supposed to be 74 and sunny on Sunday. We may even see shades of that tomorrow. Hey, fall.

KFW, we here at ANYLF are and remain yr hmbl svts,

The Weatherheads

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sump Pump.

When the new one comes—some time later on this morning, on the heels of another 3.5" or so of rain last night—I'll not feel the need to stand in the filling basement at 5 a.m., knocking on the sump pipe with a 2x2, making the pump kick back on again and pull, at a pace just exceeding the water leaking in through the wall, the water back out through the wall. When the new pump comes, the switch that is supposed to do that all by itself will, ideally, do it all by itself. Water in the basement. Water in the outbuilding. Water everywhere. Seven inches in the last 48 hours. More coming, I think. Oh: and from the other direction entirely. From the north, now. This is a storm, friends and fans of storms. This right here is sure and sure a storm.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All Day.

All day long the weather came generally out of the south and west. It's now turned—coming out of the south and east. Possible we're going to see the few more inches they're wanting to give us? Possible that coastal low is setting up?

Holy hell it's raining and blowing. In case you were wondering. This is some weather.

Ida Update.

At least 3.3" so far. And we don't seem all that finished. If you're looking for some cold and some gray and some wind and some rain, then man, have we got the Wednesday for you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Live Coverage.

OK. Let's just get our ducks lined up, shall we? From The Weather Channel, vis-a-vis our next 36 hours here on the Piedmont:


And from the National Weather Service, by way of the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, just for confirmation and for a little more exactness:


A quick satellite overview of Ida, soon to be extratropical, and having just made landfall in Alabama:


And the doppler, just to fill out the picture:



So I know that even though it looks like all the water's in Georgia and Tennessee, and not headed this way, the fancies are apparently wanting all the water to head this way. If, say, you were just on the cusp of a big old waterproofing project of an outbuilding, and you wanted one more time to check for places where water might get in, then it appears the next couple of days or so ought to be good ones for just such checking. 2-4 inches by Thursday, say most of the places that have their own professionals. I feel like that maybe can't quite be completely true—that this is one of those Snow Day Tomorrow! situations, wherein it'll do what they say it's going to do, but not quite to the excess that they're breathlessly live-from-anywhere-you've-ever-heard-of-on-the-Gulf-coast predicting.

Still. We should not complain. It's good for everybody to have something to do in November. It's good to have the lawn already raked with rain on the way. It's good to remember the ocean at a time like this.

Keep it here, friends and fans of local forecasts. We will update as warranted.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ida May.

Well.


I mean, friends and fans of weather, this is something to see coming, is it not? And if you're asking, How could we have a hurricane, but no baseball, why then I'd say to you, There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Or I'd say to you, It is the fault of the New York Yankees. Or I'd say to you, Hurricane season extends until the end of November, and while this is a little late, it is not entirely out of the ordinary, and it isn't even technically unseasonable. And then you would say, Why do you have to give me three separate answers for every question I ask? And I'd say to you, Bedtime, little one. Sleep tight, and dream of cheese.

One nice thing—the only nice thing?—about the time change is that one can spend all damn day pulling paneling and plywood and insulation out of one's outbuilding, then come in once it gets dark and discover that there is still plenty of evening left to turn one's attention to the tropics, to the weather at large, to a hot shower, a wee scotch, the needs of a very tired sunstruck dog, who spent all day in the yard making sure you were where you needed to be.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Freeze Warning.

Well, weatherers. A freeze warning for the 2740Xers among you, plus Ida down in the Gulf—what more could you want, come early November? Does that last comma belong in that last sentence? Hard to say, and no matter: This is all of it, all the weather, right here, I do believe. I'm just back from a second consecutive late-night dogwalk, a thing that's starting to feel regular, necessary, and my hands hurt from the cold. There's raking that needs doing. The neighborhood smells of fireplaces. Upstairs, bedded down, one wants for all the covers. The animals are sleeping in tight curls. Orion is back. This may be the last night for the ferns and the impatiens. This is the weather that makes it simple to dream about tomorrow's coffee pot. This is where the kid comes in your office for her 1:30 appointment and says, I know you worship at the altar of cold weather. Yes, KT, I do, and that's at least a half a letter grade for noticing, standards and rigor be damned. I am not proud, or fair.

Hey, winter edging in. That'll be fine.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Loose Leaves.

The thing about Greensboro, the thing about this town that is not the thing about all the other towns I've lived in, is loose-leaf collection—and nobody'd much care about this, except that loose-leaf collection means piles of leaves along the curbs in late fall, and the dog loves really not much more than standing in a pile of leaves, which means, come November, that the dog gets primally, vestigially happy, which means I do, too, which means saddling the dog up for eleven p.m. dogwalks, which are not the norm here at 709/27401, but which, come now, come fall, come November, are the best thing, the only thing, the thing about this town.

Also: woke up bleary-eyed this morning after a night of bad and little sleep, found the coffee already made, poured a cup, let the dog out the back, and stepped out there into the bright to find the temperature at least ten degrees warmer than I expected it to be. Sat out on the step in my flannel pajama pants and dumbass company-man puppet-show hoodie and drank coffee while the dog paced the yard and thought, If it could be like this all the time, I would be OK.

To recap: piles of leaves. Coffee in the sun. If those are our bookends, then we might just pull through.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chilly Night.

It's not so cold that when you step out onto the back porch to see how cold it is you think winter's set in, but it's certainly chilly, certainly the kind of night where if you were to walk the dog, you'd want an extra layer. Maybe your grandfather's ancient flannel. Maybe a wee dram. It's chilly, is what it is. It's a weather. It's definitively warmer in than out. On a night like this one appreciates central heat, a blanket, a good pair of socks. Not your best pair of socks, surely, but a good one.

Leaf raking. Sunshine. Warm lunch hours and jacketed nights. That's what's in store. The dog in all her fuzzy glory, if I'm allowed to say that. All I know is that there's a lot of white fur starting to turn up around here.

Fucking Yankees.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Possible Frost.

All day long it seemed warmer than the fancies said it would be, and all evening, sporting my sweet damn thirdhand Dickies jacket, I wondered if we'd even get close to the thirties we'd been promised, and then all the way home from the puppet show, windows cracked if not down, I thought, Frost, hell.

But it's good and crisp out there now as we ride toward midnight. Something happened right around ten o'clock. That's going to be a right cold morning out there in the de-ceilinged, de-insulated shed. Time to get things lined up out there, I imagine. Time to pull everything else out so that things can start going back in.

Things are a little akimbo here at 709. We could perhaps stand for a wee bit of straightening. Planning. Getting ready for the winter. Hunkering down, is I think what some folks might say.

The pansies are starting to perk up out front—starting to look like the weather is more their weather. Dark or no, it's starting to look more like mine, too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eastern Standard.

Dark.

Here is what I like: Christmas lights, fireplaces, sleet, the long bleak stretch of six or eight weeks somewhere mid-January towards Spring Break, crocuses, Thanksgiving, long sleeves, hats and coats, the dog with all her fur, coffee, tea, chili, roast root vegetables, scotch.

But the dark takes a while to fit on right.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Misters November.

People, it's turned cold, and it's caught me unawares. Cold and drizzly. The fancies had wanted sun. Cool, but sunny. And now? Gray all day long, then cooler and cooler until we finally went cold, and also along with that all manner of fog and rain and drizzle—friends and fans of weather, if I didn't know any better, I'd say we'd eventually, tonight, arrived unabashedly at November. Somebody check the time to see if it's changed over from Daylight Savings. Oh. It has. I see.

And this'll jinx it for sure, but the Phillies have just homered to tie Game Four. Get thee to a nunnery, designated hitter.

And oh dear sweet baby Jesus in a three-quarter-length-sleeved t-shirt, they've brought in Brad Lidge. For those of you just tuning in, he had a tough regular season.

But this is not This Week In Baseball. This is the forecast, and the forecast is this: flannel and fleece, jeans and boots. The heart of the Yankees order up here in the top of the ninth. The dog, dinner-plate-sized, curled into sleep on the sofa. The wind rattling the windows in their frames. Cold. Or cool. One of the two.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Steinbeck Eeyore.

Heard this evening, walking home, a tall skinny hooded-sweatshirt-wearing twentyish-year-old guy say to his dog, a sort of black wirehaired tiny mutted something, Come on, Steinbeck.

And this is, word-for-word and letter-for-letter, the sign out front of the First Baptist Church of Whitsett on Highway 70 between here and the puppet show:

OUR BROTHER DENNIS
IS OK
AND ARMANTI EEYORE
IS ON THE WAY

In weather, it was warm and did not rain. In everything else, it was as you see above.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Slightly Woozy.

The kids out at the puppet show seemed sunstruck, and, hell, I guess I was, too: walked the long way across the quad once the puppeteering was done, rode the long way home with the windows all down in the truck, sat on the porch with the dog until that seemed untenable, seemed too still and static, then walked her through the last of the day. That rain took down most of the early trees—those phosphorescent yellows—so what's now first in line, or most in line, are the reds, the oranges, the near-pinks. Autumn, dammit. Full force, but never all at once.

Rain tally: 1.7 inches. Water in the basement, and a little water in the writing shed, but that's ok—it came in out there through a door that soon enough won't be a door any more. This is an advertisement, friends and fans of renovation, for laziness masquerading as vigilance—wait ten months to do a project you swore would be done in six, and you'll know where the water comes in and where it doesn't. You'll know which doors to window over.

Oh, seventy degrees and leaves everywhere and the blue sky aftermath of a hard rain and heat-drunk kids reading Kevin Wilson's magnificent magnificent stories. A body could do much worse than what today handed out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Duck Weather.

Folks—friends and fans of graphical representation of what's coming our way—we haven't done this in a while, so feast your eyes on what's bubbling ANYLFward from the Gulf and Gulf states:


And here, worders: this from the fancies at NOAA, capital-letter excited, as always, about the goings-on:

RAIN WILL BECOME WIDESPREAD ACROSS CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA LATE TODAY AND CONTINUE THROUGH TONIGHT. NO FLOODING IS EXPECTED...BUT RAINFALL AMOUNTS ARE LIKELY TO EXCEED ONE INCH...ESPECIALLY WEST OF INTERSTATE 95. AS SUCH...DRIVING CONDITIONS COULD BE HAZARDOUS TONIGHT DUE TO STANDING WATER AND REDUCED VISIBILITY.

What we're experiencing now is what I'm not going to be afraid to call a precursor. Mist. Fog. Yellow leaves falling out of the backyard maple. What we'll have later on is what I'm now remembering my mother used to call Duck Weather. It'd be raining hard, and it'd be coldish, and we kids would be whining about the grave injustice of having to play inside, and she'd say how happy the ducks must be out there, and that would somehow satisfy us, at least in part. I can't say why. All I can say is that I can remember standing there, looking out through those sliding doors on Goodfellows Road, thinking about all the happy ducks.

Ornithological note: We didn't have any ducks anywhere near us. None. Nobody ever raised that argument, though, that I can recall.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Low Clouds.

Some manner of fog rolling in out front of whatever rain the fancies want to give us tomorrow—and then we're supposed to aim for warm, for mid-seventies, through the end of the week. Good for insulationless writing sheds. Good, sort of, for in-ground pansies. Good for the ferns hanging on one more week.

Somehow, not an easy day. That gray low-hanging cloud cover took up residence inside as well as out. At the dump, the guy looked into the back of my truck, looked at all the drywall, said, What you got in there? Drywall, I said.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ceiling Down.

209 square feet of shed ceiling are now in the bed of the truck—and so it begins, friends and fans of foolhardy holiday-season renovation. The new writing shed. Writing Shed East. Not that I haven't been shedded the whole time, but now that we've priced windows, doors, siding, PVC board, and various other fancy shite, and now that we've—I've—pulled the ceiling off the ceiling, the writing shed redux, the writing shed at 709, begins.

Good news: no indication of water intrusion in the soon-to-be-vaulted ceiling. Or the now-vaulted ceiling. The rain stays out. I figured you were wondering. Now you needn't.

When I was not thirty-x years old, by the by, spending all day on a ladder yanking down ceiling wasn't so much to think about.

And a side note: this is, as all things are, all about the weather. I'm putting the desk in the yard on the days I work the shed. Desk already back in. Tomorrow: to the dump, then to the desk. This is the grand experiment: can you renovate a room and work in it at the same time? Oh, hell, maybe there are far grander experiments. This is the plain old experiment I offer up these next few weeks.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Warm Days.

Big wind, early nightfalls—dog in the wind down the hill and back up the other side, our little neighborhood lit in the evenings front porch by front porch, glow riding out, too, from inside, past all those families with all those pictures lined up on all those mantles. You don't see people much on the evening dogwalk—maybe they're all sitting down to earlier dinners than we can abide here at 709—just their empty front porches, empty front rooms. Signs of life: rakes in the yards, strollers on porches, coats and leashes hung on pegs.

The leaves are starting to accumulate in the gutters, along the curbs.

Looks like maybe a little more storm here in the early part of the day, maybe a little more storm as we ride into the afternoon—the radar's trying to fill in, but that front's sliding hard toward us, too, and trying to get past. Tomorrow: sun. Cooler. And I'd say less like an April storm, except that yesterday, in one parking lot or another, that warm wet wind mixing with the smell of the maples turned and the oaks turning, I recognized, powerfully, the smell of standing out in the cul-de-sac in front of my grandparents' old house at Thanksgiving, inventing one more time some way of playing football with only three kids. So we must not be too far afield here, friends and fans of seasons swinging back and forth. This must be normal. Or at least regular. Common. This is a not-uncommon way of riding through fall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Actual Forecast.

I've been out of sorts -- did not know it was supposed to rain so soon today. And I feel like I've been checking the weather, too, but maybe that information, along with most of the rest of the information about everything else, is sliding out of the pan. Or at least some of it is: I'm not, for instance, surprised by today's temperature, which is a little like a cup of coffee left on the counter half the morning. Just by the rain. And just by the earliness of it. That's all.

Our big maple out the back window here is starting to turn.

Horse, getting back on the: showery and mid-seventies today. Stormy and showery and mid-seventies tomorrow. Some sharp thing comes through Saturday afternoon and evening and gives us, for Sunday, something less like this, more like crispness. And folks, as we head into your work week, it looks like we'll see high pressure build back in over the region, giving us highs in the sixties and lows in the forties. Just gorgeous weather on tap for us here in the Triad through the early part of next week.

See? Doesn't that feel better?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Break.

The weather stops for no blog. Since we last broadcast from this space: winter, breaking gently back towards today's near-Indian-summer conditions. Hell of a way to come down off the mountain, but it had be done. You cannot live at or on vacation forever.

What you can do, though, over the course of a handful of internetless days: put the dog on Bluff Mountain, on Whitetop Mountain, on Mount Rogers. Hang onto her while she stops dead still, barks at a huge flushed deer (thirty hands high, at least), vibrates, begs you to let her run to all the parts of southwest Virginia at once. Thirteen years old, my ass: the old lady's maybe a step slower on average, but now I think it's only because she's keeping everything extra in store for that one next time when I won't see the deer before she does, when she'll get that quick first step, when she'll be gone and gone again like the old days, tennish years ago now, when we'd be out at the lake and some branch would snap and she'd be vanished, three long bounds and over some little rise, and it'd be forty minutes before she'd come dragassing back, bellying along the ground and sporting a torn ear, a tongue a half-mile long and covered in dirt, her whole self so utterly, primally happy she didn't give a damn what I yelled at her.

Snow that first night up there. Wood stove pumping away, getting the little cinder-block cabin nearly warm. Snow on the mountain the next day like it'd been scoured on: icicles, I'd want to call them, if they hadn't been snow, sticking off the Appalachian Trail markers at hard ninety degree angles, four and five inches long. No snow on the one side, and those beards of snow right off the other. All the low grasses that way, too. It must have been one hell of a wind up there. I've never seen snow stick on anything sideways before.

Dog in the snow like she was home.

Back 27401-ward, on the porch: joggers with flashlights, dogs barking, cars pulling through the intersection, motors, mowers, trains. Had got used to quiet. Now to get used to here again.

On vacation: perhaps I could live that way forever. I'd want a little easier access to a thing like a fresh Brussels sprout, or really just a grocery store in general, but give me some way to every now and then make a meal that's not a one-potter, and I'll sell everything but the wife and dog and my ten fleece hats, and that will do me.

When we were kids, none of us understood the way my mom got when we'd first be able to see or smell the ocean on our trips down past St. Augustine every year. I know now. Maybe I've said this before. I don't know. It doesn't matter. Children, gather round. Listen to your old man tell this story. Twelve years up there in Grayson. Every damn one of them with the dog. Muscle memory. Reflex. Driving up that road to the state park, or the sweetrot smell of the leaves off the back porch of this little beat-up four-room rental: what to say other than I already know how much space there is between this fall break and the next one?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Winter Holiday.

We were above 50 this morning, but haven't been since: cold rain, cold breeze, cold gray day. The JEP chili on the stovetop, though, raises all boats, and we're battened down for this brief winter here at 709. The heater's on. The hats are on. The long sleeves are in full effect. This is Fall Break the way the founders intended. This ought also to do the tomatoes that last death blow, which makes things easier, finally—no more having to hope for one last harvest. We wheel towards Eastern Standard Time, towards November, towards bleakness in all its glory.

My poor kids out at the puppet show looked like they'd had something taken from them, and maybe they had: maybe youth deserves tank top weather. Too bad, youth. Suck it up. Put on a jacket before you catch your death of cold. Have some more chili. Put some meat on those bones.

Cold tomorrow, too, but we'll bounce back. This is not how it is. Don't get so worried. This is just for me and my kind. Youth or no, your weather will be back soon enough.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Weather Coming.

What's with the dog? I asked AMR, first thing.

I think she knows the weather's changed, she said.

Which means, friends and fans of morning fog and chilly sunrise through the downhill mouse's walnut trees, that if AMR knows the dog knows the season's changed, then AMR, too, knows the season's changed, which means it's not just me up at 5 a.m. so I can come sprinting down the stairs to see if I really did get the Panasonic receiver/cassette/turntable that would henceforth allow me to record, from the radio, almost the entirety of Cutting Crew's I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight (minus some of that opening ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, which you always miss since you can't hit record until after the DJ cuts out)—it's everybody. It's fall. It came. Somehow or other, it came, just the same.

And, lo! Hast thou seen the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday and Friday? That's a new star rising in the east, if I've ever seen one. For unto you is born this day in the city of Greensboro an autumn, which is fall for sure. And a little free winter preview, it looks like. Autumn: Now with 10% more forty-degree rain.

So. To recap: today's pretty. Once we burn this fog off, you should probably go outside and play. For the rest of the week, though, you're going to want somebody to take you to the bus stop and either stand there and endure it with you, or, in certain circumstances, drive you, and let you sit in the warm stuffy car until the bus comes. Then you can make a run for it, squeak your way down the center aisle, find somewhere good to sit, and try to hang on until lunch—or until whatever it is that comes next.

The weather's changed. I've been up a long time, drinking coffee. That's what you do.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Son, Daughter.

The dogwalk, for whatever reason, now regularly sends me by a young man, a jogger, who lives in the neighborhood. Safe to say he's wired differently than most of the rest of the world. I see him in the park, up on the hill, all in between. Maybe he's running more these days. Maybe I'm dogwalking more. Maybe our orbits are for the time being lined up better than they have been. I don't know for sure. What I do know: last week, when I passed him at the bottom of the hill, he shouted, I'm getting skinny! I'm getting sexy! as he went by.

Today we found him on the Buffalo Creek end of the park. He yelled something from about a hundred yards off, but I have no idea what it was. When he got up on us, though, he stopped, pointed at the dog. Is that your son? he asked me.
More or less, I said.
Is he a boy or a girl? he wanted to know.
A girl.
So that's your daughter?
I guess so.
The dog sniffed him. He made no effort to pat her. She made no effort to get patted. What's her name? he asked.
Maddie.
He broke out in a pretty fair smile. I have a friend, he said.
Oh, yeah? I said. I had no idea what he was talking about, no idea where the conversation was going, no real idea where it had been.
Maddie, he said, like it was the plainest fact in the world. And then he took off running again.

Gray and chilly. Hat weather. Coat weather, for the easily-coated. Rain coming in. Don't know what else to tell you other than that.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Season Turns.

It's coming on all at once, is what it is—the maples yellowing, the whatever-elses yellowing—walnuts? pecans? birches? Not the oaks. The oaks come later. But those trees that yellow are right on the verge of going yellow, and what tends to be a slow, warm burn around these parts is coming on in a much more seasonal way, cool, not cold, not chilly, not much other than yellow, really, and what looked like it could be fall a week ago looks like more than could now, looks like is.

What now? Maybe a late wee something on the porch. Maybe a late last inning in here with AMR as she grades some late papers. Maybe none of that: maybe an early night to bed.

And all we do is try to slide through to tomorrow morning.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Small Mistake.

What you would think, if you were utterly out of things to think about and landed on this one, is that a boy who spends so much of his time worried about the weather would remember, before he went to bed on a Friday evening, to cover over the lawn mower, to roll the windows up on the truck. He knew what was coming. He'd seen the forecast. He always sees the forecast. Hell, friends and fans of weather, he sat out in it close to midnight and marveled at the warm wind blowing in out front of what surely, surely was the forecasted rain. This is the last warm night, he said.

Cut to: hard rain, hard wind, lightning, dog panting and nervous under the bed, our once-sleeping hero now down on hands and knees trying to coax the dog out for a little succor and comfort, the dog having no part of that, and then, sitting there on the floor, our hero remembers: Truck. Mower.

No easier way to climb back into bed knowing the exact size and shape of what kind of fool you are this time around.

Our October Saturday dawns hot—like May or June hot—and so wet it's a wonder we're dry inside. The upstairs windows are good and fogged over. We're not supposed to get much hotter than we are right now, so by this afternoon it'll feel more like it should, but for now all the instruments are fouled, all the readings wrong, and all the mowers and trucks are pretty goddamned wet. Welcome to whatever comes before we return to our regularly scheduled autumn, already in progress.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Morning.

Bit of a gray breeze out here on the ole WeatherDeck this morning, a little something coming in west to east and maybe trying to storm some on us later on. We shall see. What we haven't got this morning is that cathedral light we've been seeing all week long, that deep persistent yellow—though the yellowing top of a distant maple over there past the apartments and towards the blue hippie house will do for the nine o'clock hour, enough yellow to remind us what day it is, what time of year.

An emergency just rode by west to east out there on Friendly or Market, depending on which one of them runs right to left across your radio dial here in 27401. I can never keep straight which one is which. Plus they don't even split until right over the hill there, so it could probably be either.

Train. Bird in Vieja Nueva's forty-foot-tall ivy-infested holly going cheeseburger-cheeseburger-cheeseburger-cheeseburger. I'd look up which kind, except the bird book's out in the shed, and I don't feel like barefooting across the lawn. Sorry, birders. Though here's a semi-handy—at least semi-amusing—way to have no idea what kind of bird it is. What we know: it is not the one listed as saying cheeseburger.

The best kind of hum: low traffic, crickets, a car horn, birds, far-off dog, men a block over explaining how it is, the truck arriving to bang the Dumpster around some. I bet they don't even empty it. I bet they pick it up in the air and drop it down three feet over just for the hollow joy of the noise.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pretty Warm.

It was both. Pretty. Warm. It's not warm now—we're aiming for mid-forties overnight, and yes, please, to all of that—but it was a windows-down ride to the puppet show, a solid breeze in the tops of the trees, in the flags out front of the gas stations between here and there. Topped out around eighty. We'll bounce between that and the upper sixties for high temps between now and Sunday. Autumn. When you've had for no good reason a bad Wednesday, remembering how good autumn can be is about all there needs to be, almost all you need to hang on to.

Playoff baseball.

Late-night playoff baseball.

October is probably my favorite of the O-shaped months.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Getting Close.

The only way this could get any better is if it were 49 instead of 59. Or 39. We are only a few clicks away from oatmeal weather here, and for some of you tuning in this morning, we're probably already there. I'm wearing a henley I bought in either high school or college. Flannel pants. A watchcap. I look like a confused half-dressed will-work-for-food vaudeville clown. Which I all but am, anyway. These were the warmest clothes closest to the top of the stack.

Mist and fog, for those of you wondering what that is, is this. Less mist now than an hour ago, sadly, but we'll take it all the same. The weekend's pansies have to be happy to be getting watered in like this, and though it's not the weather for it, weather like today's makes me readier still to peel the walls off the building out back, fix what ails it, and get the new walls back up and on. What we need back there is something a body could hunker down in. Take refuge. Sit in the rehabbed space and think, If it was 49 today, or 39, even, then it'd be about time to think about a woodstove.

Yellows and oranges and hints of flame red in the tops and understories of the maples up and down the block here. Dogwood out front fully turned, and almost purple. We are right on the very knife edge, people. We are right there.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Clouding Over.

We have some sort of cloud situation rolling in, perhaps even a bit of humidity, and the chance of showers overnight and tomorrow. You're still going to want long sleeves out there, friends and fans of October weather, and if indeed we get the rain, you're going to want chili, a sleeve of saltines, maybe some crusty bread. A good beer. This is the season of good beer. If you're watching football, stick with the crappy beer. But if it's a Monday that's looming in your life, and if it's cooling off, if it may rain, if you're coming home from a late day at work, then you may want to avail yourself of any of the browner beers so very nice this time of year. Autumn ales. Pale ales. Harvest ales. Any of the ales, really. Back porch if it's not raining. Front porch if it is. Long sleeves. Dog. An ale.

What a fine Sunday: lawn mowed, pages written, breakfast eaten, and lunch, too. Dog walked. Pansies pansied. Sun all day long until it didn't much matter, and then clouds.

AMR's trying to get me to pay more attention to the weather, and less attention to the puppet show. She's always right, is the thing.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Background Noise.

Long sleeves, jeans, and bare feet in the sun: hey, early October, hey, front porch, hey, dog taking measure from the front step, hey birds, hey crickets, hey three new flats of pansies installed in the wake of yesterday's fiasco of a department meeting out at the puppet show. Every time I get good and disappointed, we get some real landscaping done around here. But are we coming to you live from a crystalline October Saturday morning to discuss crushing defeat at the hands of petty fools? We are not. Rather, then, this:

The hum called last night. On the phone. We returned from being not here to find a blinking message there in the kitchen, and lo and behold, it was the hum calling, saying they thought they'd fixed the problem, but wanted to make sure, and could I please call them back? And I did, and Juan of Giant Private Highrise Dorm Enterprises, Inc., told me that in fact there had been something wrong, and that in fact they had repaired the something, and that in fact he and they and the hum in general were all hoping that life around these parts had become less, shall we say, hummy, and I said that it so happily had, since give or take Tuesday or Wednesday, and he said that sounded about right, and I was then flooded with a wash of gratitude so large and all-encompassing that momentarily after we did hang up I considered sending flowers.

To recap: the stopped hum is officially not expected to restart. The regular wash of city noise rolls along apace, but without the attendant background hum. If, say, one loved the outside more than one loved the inside, then one could report that the outside was once again safe for democracy, or at least for self-centered amateur weather reportage of the coyote-dogged and bare-footed variety.

I'm still sending Juan something. Just don't know what.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quiet Day.

Upper sixties, and reaching for the low seventies. Warm in the sun. A breeze. The sure smell of fall. A few leaves starting to accumulate along the curbs. Two big ripe tomatoes on the vine, and dozens of ripe heirloom cherry tomatoes right next to them. The daycare kids shrieking in their secret language.

And no hum.

It'll be back, surely. Let's not make any broad proclamation. Let's not say anything, in fact, except that the kitchen window is wide open to the briefly perfect world.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

After Equinox.

The thing is, all these months, I thought the hum was the train. Now it turns out the hum is the hum. When I thought the hum was the train, I was fine. Now that it's the hum, I'm not.

The mind is a terrible mess.

Fleece hat the only thing between me and crazy.

Fall, in earnest.

At least the dog's pleased with the world.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Like It.

Sixty-two and not yet midnight. A violent, violent storm out puppet-showward, but as I was there and not here, all I can say for here is that trash cans were on their sides and plants knocked down. Leaves in the streets if not limbs. Mid-eighties by mid-afternoon, and now there's the damn-for-sure certainty of long sleeves and a hat on the morning dogwalk. I always forget how sharply the season changes. We'll snap back warm again, surely, but what's out there now smacks of tea, of layers, of chili, of the good seasonal beer, of actual October right here on the eve of October. Been so long since we had the month's weather we were owed that I'm not sure what to make of all this. But for the godforsaken hum humming on, we'd be in paradise.

I know how the dog will be come morning, remember so well turning the corner off the gravel alley over near Carr Street ten years ago, turning her into the wind and knowing certainly of the wildness in her, that coyote gait coming full to the surface, her head high and sniffing hard into what's coming, that prance, that sureness that this is her season. Is that too much? That's too much. Put another way: I can feel now the tug of the fall vacation, the cabin, the tree farm, the state park, the dog, the wood stove. If the dog's at all like me she feels it all year long like I do, gets those genes reset every September or October. These are the first days of fall, says Stephen Dobyns. Scroll down, interneters, and hear the poem for yourself. Or don't. Go outside, hum or no, stand on the front porch, sniff what you haven't sniffed since June set in, or May. Here, then, yes and please and thank you, is a cold front. Here is a change in the weather.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Do.

Greenville, South Carolina, city of cemeteries, city of tree-lined Main Street like you'd cued it out of central casting or some bad book, city of rain, city of wedding pictures right there out the window of this hotel room in what I think we have to call an atrium: friends, our hotel arrives fresh from 1986, a kind of triangle looking in on what would be a courtyard if not for the roof. We did this in the eighties, which is to say, faked the outside inside. Think of CNN Center in Atlanta, or any named center in any city of your youth. 3,000 indoor plants in concrete bunkers. Bricks shellacked until they shine. An open-air indoor restaurant, that most excellent of oxymorons. The glass elevators are their own wayback machine. The tiles in the shower are almost certainly, in all their bruise-colored glory, original. But: your local forecaster has arrived unscathed, the sheets are crisp, the floor is clean, the room is nearly quiet, the people are friendly. Are you here for the show? they ask you in the elevator. In all ways, the answer is yes, and yes: any time I'm anywhere, I'm pretty much there for the show.

Rain and rain, and more rain coming. All this rain looks to be aiming back 27401wards, too, so do buckle down back home, please. Shake the sump pump. Tighten the windows down. Roll the car windows up, put the ferns out in it, think about maybe making chili. Don't leave the house in your good shoes.

The wedding's started and finished since I sat down to explain about the weather. The bride's seven stories below me, a glass of wine in each hand. Tiny pink flower girls are going batshit over the echo out there. Salud.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wind Shifted.

Dog, ears half back and face pointed full into a damp easterly breeze: as much a barometer as we need around these parts, and enough to make certain the belated declaration that there does seem on this Friday evening to be some kind of weather riding in. This morning and this noon gave us a warm drizzle, a kind of springtime, bring-on-the-food-crops kind of feel, but this evening smells of something different. This evening smells like fall, like dog. Like sitting out on the porch, which is what we're doing here in the 68 degrees and gray, AMR sticking her head from time to time out the front door to bluster and bleed and generally make with the sadness about the change in temp, the shift in the wind. AMR is of the tank-top persuasion. The dog and I, we tend towards jeans and boots. And sniffing. And thinking that the days of fleece caps cannot be so far over the horizon that we can't see them. Nothing before its time—give me this season over the not-season—but all the dog and I are saying is, yes, please: this. And then that.

Every time I look up and over at the dog, she looks dead back at me, wondering why we're here, and not five blocks leashward. It's a fair question. I could say more about what all this is, which is some measure of peaceful, the breeze in the drying leaves just enough to cover over the hum, the cool in the air almost enough to cover over everything else—but simpler things are owed. Dog. Leash. It's the end of the week. Another one's coming, and this time with another weather.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Scattered Showers.

Drizzling out at the puppet show. Pouring out by what will be the loop, if they can ever get the ends to meet. Here: humid. Still. Noisy. Rain overnight, but not since. Dogwood out front making red berries. Dogwoods all up and down the street, healthy and not, showing color. Sun low enough back behind the house to where the petunias don't have much bloom left in them. Sentence fragments. The hum. That kind of thing.

Hum theory #3,657: it's been there for months, but we've only noticed since the cicadas packed it in.

It's an odd sky out there. September is a damn strange month.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Summer Ends.

Seen yesterday, on 70, out nearer to J. Crew U. than to here, but just barely in Guilford County, one presumes, all the same: the Eastern Guilford High School marching band and flag corps, resplendent and in full uniform, performing out front of Bojangles, right up against the highway. On the highway side of the split-rail fence, that is, and not the Bojangles side. There were balloons. There was a banner. I had the windows down, but couldn't quite hear—the truck was a little oil-thirsty and was making a bit of a metal-on-metal sound. That's now resolved, but I was sadly unable to hear the metal-on-metal of the EGHS Marching Whatevers.

Every time I see a kid standing in the heat of the sun wearing a hat with a giant fake feather in it, it brings back memories.

Had the police out yesterday to investigate the hum. "Yeah, I hear it," the officer said. We stood there on my back porch. He was shiny—shiny shoes, shiny glasses, shiny pistol, shiny stick to hit me with, shiny pad on which he made a note or two about the hum. And the hum called me back yesterday morning, too: they also can hear it, will get somebody on it "as soon as they can." Which I expect means sometime during the next election cycle. Which I expect means I shall soon be in need of shoving my head into the spinning blades of the mower in order to dehum my interior landscape.

Imagine the dog barking while I was trying to explain to the officer about my noise complaint.

Cloudy. The weather's of late been trying to make us believe it's time for flannel. It is not. But today is the autumnal equinox, so, you know, thanks, summer, for stopping by. It was good to see you. We should do this more often. Call us when you get home to let us know you made it safely, OK? Take care. Tell everybody we said hello.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ambient Noise.

The hum hums on.

So too do the clouds, though, which is nice—fiftyteen days without rain will get to you after a while. Probably out to take one more spin through the tomato vines out there, see if we have any late-late season strivers coloring up. Gonna have to fire up the lawn mower once or twice more here as we spin towards autumn. And that'll be nice: no chance of hearing the hum over the top of the mower. Which is what it comes to, friends and fans of looming institutionalization: if I can have a hum of my own making, I'm better off. Crank down that A/C. Grin a little when the icemaker bumps itself awake. Turn the little fan on low out back. Cover the hum with a hum of one's own.

Gray. Warmish. Humid as a bowl of water.

September.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Little Hum.

Here is how to know from whence the hum originates:

Leash up the dog. Take AMR, who knows for sure what kind of crazy you're carrying now, with you. Walk your walking party seven blocks humwards, ever surer that you're right, that this is the universe socking you one straight in the mouth. Be right. Stand in the shadow of the highrise private dorm, certain source of the hum. Listen to the hum. Demand of AMR that she tell you you're not crazy, that she say the hum is the hum.

But ah, friends and fans of wandering the stage, here's the rub: so you find the hum. So you get the hum peer-reviewed. So the hum is the hum. So the source is identified; is, if you will, sourced. Then the fuck what? Here: I know: call the hum. Call it on the phone. You've already done it once this week, drawn a deeply stoned young man on the other end of the phone: there's a hum, you say. Oh, man, what? he says. The hum hums on. This time on the other end of the phone is Ashley, ever eager to help, but just as with the marijuanaed gentleman earlier in the week, Ashley has no idea of what you speak, has not heard the hum, even though not hearing the hum would be much akin to not hearing a squadron of horse-drawn Sikorskys land on the roof. The hum, you say. I'll check on it, she says.

Sometimes you get very quiet inside the house just to make sure you can still hear the hum. This is what kind of crazy we're cashing here. The hum. The hum. What now?