Saturday, January 31, 2009

End January.

The month closes itself down, and even though there was no forecast these past few days, there was weather: rain Tuesday and Wednesday, fog bookending that rain, church spire out the kitchen window fuzzing over and clearing itself back out, then doing that again. Today suggests, just barely, the warm they say's coming tomorrow, but the sun's still low, the air's still chilly. Maybe I don't remember winter. The daffodils don't either, apparently, now out of the ground six inches.

How it went: on Tuesday, the novel was a disaster. On Wednesday, in the warmer fog, it seemed better, somehow. On Thursday I gave up and sent it on in.

I don't have any idea what happened yesterday. There was sun. It was cold.

We've sold, it seems, the Elam house. Cleaned it out today. Brought two clumps of the bluebells over, Mrs. Whoever's bluebells, who planted them thirty years ago and which have now naturalized ad nauseum across the yard, and which I do not even much care for in the way that I care for, say, dogwoods or daffodils or azaleas, but somehow my house would not be my house without these indestructible bluebells, and so there they now are, on the northeast side of the front porch, and though now is no time to transplant, I think they'll hang on. I'd be satisfied, I believe, if thirty or fifty years from now these ones here were Mr. Whoever's bluebells.

Hard to leave that yard. Hard to leave that outbuilding, wherein most of the novel etcetera.

And, friends and fans of novels, somewhere in all of this John Updike up and died, and I'm nobody to eulogize a man whose novels I've read only four of (the terrific Rabbit quartet) and whose stories I've read only a very few of, but it has landed on me, has registered on the barometer here at ANYLF, has left the interns around here wondering if there will ever be another American Novelist in quite that way, if all this digital panjandrum now means that nobody like him will every really have the chance to come along again, if now, these days, we don't really know who Richard Ford or Michael Chabon is in quite the same way because we haven't got the time nor the inclination in quite the same way. This, from the terrific New Yorker remembrance site, is Updike's fifth rule of sound book reviewing:

"If the book is judged deficient, cite a successful example along the same lines, from the author's oeuvre or elsewhere. Try to understand the failure. Sure it’s his and not yours?"

Warmer tomorrow, then cold again. Rain out there in the forecast. January ends. Let's us all learn to fail -- or cop to the fact that we have failed -- next month, and the next, and the one after that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sump Pump.

Looks like we'll be getting a little more rain than predicted as this ice storm slides on past to our north -- maybe an inch over the next couple of days. Maybe not, too, friends and fans of precip, so if we don't go all Noah's Ark out there, don't freak out on me. We just do the forecasting over here. We don't do the knowing. What we can tell you is that it's raining here at 709 Fairmont, and cold, and the birds are noisy about the whole thing out there, and just putting one foot out the door tells you we missed ice and snow by not that much. Porch thermometer pegged right around 38. Low, low sky. Radar says more rain coming. So does the dog, who's already gone back to bed.

Last time we got good rain the basement filled up with several inches of water, and ANYLF paid $89 for the privilege of having a plumber come out and shake the sump pump and have the thing kick right on. Then there was yes of course the sly $89 grin. Sumbitch, said ANYLF. There, there, little boy, said the plumber.

I have each and every intention of, ah, shaking my own sump pump from here on out. Cheers, friends and fans of weather, to learning the creaks and groans of a different house.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter Weather.

Yeah. It was definitely sixty degrees on Friday -- read on the front porch all afternoon with the dog. And it was surely better than fifty degrees yesterday: even the normally January-reticent AMR thought it'd be nice to have breakfast out back, facing into the sun. But last night we picked up what I'd have to report would be a chill in the air, and then later last night I'd have to report that we picked up quite the wind, and then now I'd have to report that it's gray again, cold again, winter blown back in just in time for this last week of the month.

I've been much enjoying the NOAA Forecast Discussion of late, and thought, friends and fans of weather, that you might just, too, so here's some Sunday reading for your grayed-over pleasure (and, perhaps, for your midweek use):


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fifty Degrees.

Whine and ye shall receive: we got our fifty degrees. One more warm day tomorrow before we go back to the weather we deserve for at least a few weeks more yet. Mostly I wrote through my chance to sit on the back porch and pant into the sun with the dog, but we did get a nice winter sunset right there at the end, friends and fans of unmitigated beauty.

Another long day's coming tomorrow. I like these long days. I'm dead damn tired, but I like these long days.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Holding Cold.

That low sun tracked left to right across the kitchen once more today, which is good, since that means most of the rest of the few things we understand about our corner of the universe are probably still holding true, as well. Our cold continues. I need a snap day wherein I can sit on the porch, even for a few minutes. Fifty degrees is all I ask, really. Fifty degrees and not much wind. Drop it back into the twenties overnight, if you like. Just give me a shot at our south-facing deck, a folding chair, a cup of coffee. I know it's January. I know that what comes next is not much better. I know, too, that come August I will be out front of the parade, asking for just one day where I might get to wear a winter hat again. I will sing songs to the glories of long sleeves. And I'll keep the hat and sleeves, for now, thank you. I just want to wear them outside more often, inside less often.

That said, the dog did spin me through the park this afternoon, and in shirt and shirt and shirt and jacket and hat and gloves, it was nearly pleasant.

The revision continues. The revision continues. The revision continues. The sun's still low in that winter sky.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Snow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Storm Watch.

Friends and fans of weather, we here at ANYLF are happy to bring you—at least to report to you—the season's first Winter Storm Watch. You'll note, savvies, that it's not a warning yet: Austin Caviness and the gang over at WXII (today's chosen fancies) can explain this better than I can, or at the very least more informedly and meteorologically, but it comes to this: the clouds out there now are not what we should be interested in. Rather, later this evening, we're going to get a new low hiccupped out of the mountains and headed for the coast, which should wrap some moisture back around the general vicinity of 27401 and thereabouts, giving, they think, Greensboro and points south and east a good shot at some snow. NOAA has us between 2 and 4, but that's just fancy governmental guesswork. This has all the trappings of a classic southern snow: They know it's going to snow, and they think they almost know where, but depending on sixteen very important and secret factors of weather forecasting, the snow could end up almost anywhere. Add in that tomorrow's a school day—after a long weekend, mind you—and what it all means is that there's very little chance we get what they're forecasting, which is let's say two inches. Rather, we'll get nothing, or a dusting, or six inches. This is a live-from-the-salt-truck kind of day on the local newses. Stand-ups from the line of school busses. Superintendents reminding everyone of the complex plan, which is no plan at all: try not to drive the school busses in the snow. Oh, and it gets better: we may not know for sure what's up until mid-morning tomorrow, which means the schoolies may either have to pull the trigger on shutting it down with very little snow on the ground, or run the risk of having seven zillion fourth graders stuck in the gym while their angry parents kick in the once-a-year four wheel drive on their Outbacks and bravely slog forth to retrieve them.

I'd say, for the most eager among you, the thing to do today would be to make a cup of tea and watch the early evening local news. That'll be good for a warmup. Then head outside once an hour or so, look up at those oranged nighttime city clouds, take a whiff of the air, decide for yourselves. Then maybe have a late-night nightcap and maybe, maybe, it'll be snowing, and you can think back on all those days when you had, oh, I don't know, an Australia poster due the next day, and you'd only really drawn in the outline, and had miles to go on things like exports and national anthems and climate averages and flora and fauna, and you would have given anything, anything, for a forecast like today's. It doesn't mean you don't still have to do the poster, of course. You do. You have to stay up late and try to finish. But hanging out there on the horizon, people, and this is all you can ever hope for, is the slightest, slightest chance of a reprieve.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Still Winter.

A word of advice: If you should happen to wake up, say, on a Sunday, and go outside and discover that it is not, in fact, 13 degrees any more, but rather 33, or even 34, or 35, do not decide hey! it's warm! and go dogwalking with no jacket out toward a field with no treeline cover and terrific exposure to the westerly wind bringing in all this almost snow.

It's warmer. But it is not, friends and fans of weather, warm.

I will say that the little outside shed heats up much more nicely in the 33 degrees than it does in the 13 degrees. Which is to say, it heats up. Earlier in the week I was wearing all the shirts there are.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bone Cold.

It's 24 degrees right now and the sun's been as high as it's going to be, so let's call this the high and call whatever it is we're headed for overnight something very, very wee. NOAA has us at 9. The Weather Channel's more optimistic: they say 12. The News 14 fancies, who, I have to say, are plenty fancy enough, want 8. They also maybe want snow on Sunday. These are not record lows, but they are low lows.

Layers, people. This is what they were talking about when they told you to wear layers. And dry socks.

This can't last forever, says the dogwood out front of ANYLF's new global headquarters:

It will, however, last a little while longer yet.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Very Cold.

Yep. Cold, cold. The pansies are still out on the steps in their pots at the old house, and they'll have to come through this on their own. The rosemary from my cousin's wedding two years back is safely ensconced in the outbuilding here, unless it burns down overnight— an event against which I've sandbagged by bringing the novel in to the big house, and I'm this close from putting it in the freezer. Don't push me. I'm still up. I may yet wrap that thing in tinfoil.

Fire in the fireplace. Low lights on. Randy Newman on the hi-fi (and the lower-fi kitchen speakers). Already looking forward to coffee. We may, may, may have sold the other house. This is good. We could stand to just have the one at a time.

They don't want us to be above freezing again until Saturday. This is some cold, friendlies, as my friend KFW would say. This is some soup weather. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Randy Newman: America, America, step out into the light/You're the best dream man has ever dreamed, and may all your Christmases be white. The next cut is, of course, the excellent, excellent Baltimore. Oh, Baltimore/Man it's hard just to live. Sleep well, friends and fans of weather. Sleep warm.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Damned Cold.

If you like the temps now, friends, just you wait: NOAA has us back at 46 by next Wednesday, but between now and then, well, should your freezer should go out, no problem. Set your butterflied pork chops out on the back deck and they ought to be fine to eat any time, provided you can bring them in to defrost them. Our neighbor stopped by tonight to warn us to put our as-yet-(I know)-unplanted pansies in the basement. I thought she was being overzealous. Turns out she was being friendly. Buckle up and bundle up. Get thee to a space heater, if you're revising in the outbuilding. Get thee to a heavy flannel shirt whether you are or not.

Sounds at the new house: Chimes, on the hour, from the clocktower/steeple. Screaming kids from the church's preschool, a deeply happy sound, I'm oddly willing to report. Kids love to run and yell. I'm not to take that from them, I reckon. Also: train, train yard, train whistle. Four or five separate dogs, none of which go on for too long. Certain bangs from the plumbing, which we're learning.

Goddamn I love this house. I thought I loved the old one, and I did. But I love this house. We are going to have to learn to take care of it.

Hung the thermometer on the front porch.

Planning the bookshelves.

Keeping warm.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New January.

What a long, beautiful gray day that was: sun a salad plate shining behind and through the cloud cover most of the day, and then a clearing just at sunset and a few trailing strands of cloud lit pink behind the church steeple you can see no problem through our kitchen windows. Not quite cold, but man, it's coming.

Having January off is an almost unexplainable luxury. May I well remember this the next time I storm out of a faculty meeting full of piss and vinegar and misplaced self-righteousness.

I'm ready for a snow, or a sleet. I'm ready, too, to buy seeds, to scout a backyard garden, to get some flowers in the ground. But if we're to have January, which it seems we are, then I'm ready for some wintry mix.

Animals figuring out the new house, the new stairs. Dog good to hang out in the new shed while I make new edits. I've got a new winter hat. That's damn near all I have to say about things that are new.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cold Weather.

We are having a fairly bitter cold, for North Carolina, anyway, build in. I was out in the world today and I'd have to say that even if at 3 pm you didn't need a coat and scarf and gloves, you knew we were headed toward scarf and gloves and scotch and fire and hat and brandy and, oh, have your own winter needs, OK? Grilled cheese. Soup. Three shirts.

Tomorrow we're supposed to make 50 degrees. By Friday we're supposed to make it all the way to 28. If today was chilly, then I guess I'd have to say the rest of the week will be winter, whether you're in North Carolina or not. There's a half-sad baseboard heater in the new outbuilding that works OK at 50, but as for 28 -- my expectations are low. Novel revision may well move itself to the dining room table, safely and surely indoors. Winter arrives in earnest. The temperatures around here are always behind the solstices and equinoxes, no matter the season. These are the cold months, though, for sure and certain. Bundle up. Keep warm. Wear long sleeves. Have coffee on hand. You know what? Don't shave, either. Stop shaving. Don't take anything off that might help.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Little Sunday.

Just the facts, ma'am: low thin sun all day, chilly air giving way to almost cold here in the overnight hours, a clear winter sky and Orion well up off the horizon and on his way across. Cold week coming. Today's success: moving the old dog bed from the old house to our new outbuilding. We'll see if the shed is built for two tomorrow, I suppose. For the rest of what's left of tonight: a quick read by the fire, if you please. January's eleven days old, if anybody's counting.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Low Sun.

One-thirty in the afternoon, and I'm coming back up the hill with the dog and squinting into the low southern sun, and even though the daffodils are coming up gangbusters in the back yard, and even though whichever sort of grass it is that starts just to green over right about now is greening over in selected front yards down the block, still I am filled up with a kind of stillness, a feeling like I am either stuck or nearly stuck, a feeling like it will never be March, like we will never get the sun to pick itself back up off the horizon, even though it already has, even though the nights are a little longer this week than last week, even though there's a tiny warmth to the air out there.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Most Weathers.

We had some weathers yesterday. Most of them, even, I'd say. The storm pretty well tore itself apart through the morning, and by 2 pm we were sunny, warm, drive-around-town weathery. Return-the-old-cable-modem-with-the-windows-down-and-the-radio-on kind of weather. Blue sky, high thin clouds, the whole thing. And then there was the wind, so strong you had to lean into it to cross the yard. And then, of course, the thundersleet. If there wasn't any thunder here, there should have been: low, low bands of storm clouds racing west to east, dropping a tenth of an inch of sleet and rain right there at sunset— and it looked fiercer out east, where they may have had even a little bit more weather than we did.

This morning cranks itself up gray and cool and still, like it's hung over. Sun trying to push through. Patches of blue sky off to the west. Possibility of a few flurries or a sprinkle by midday. The NWS is already -- yep -- warning of some very cold weather for next week, and the ten-day gives us very low lows and a shot at snow. Ah, yes. January. I think I remember this.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rain, Rain.

Yep. First week in the house, first inch-plus rain. This was a rain. The back yard's a swamp. Damn lot warmer this morning -- mid-forties -- than it is now, which is to say, we're four degrees from ice fog or snow or sleet or oh hell I do not know but it is cold and wet and though I do in fact like this kind of weather quite a bit I would like here and now to say that if in the future we are going to do this let's us go on ahead and drop it by five or six degrees and have a foot of snow. OK? OK.

Cold. Fog. More rain coming. And warmer again before we're cold again. Yep. Carolina winter. I sat on the front porch tonight anyway. Took the dog out there with me. She was maybe not as thrilled as she could have been. Same same me. Great being in the new place. Hard being in the new place, too. But the rain gauge is set up. This is about the weather we should be having. This is about how things ought to be. It rained. It rained and rained. More coming. Sleep well, friends and fans of this sort of thing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Balmy Night.

The fancies want a good deal of rain tonight through the next couple of days. An inch, they say, surely. Maybe two. We shall see, I reckon. Big swing in temperature back toward freezing from here, which has been for the past 24 hours or so damn near 60, front-porch weather, fewer-layers weather, thinner-hats weather.

Moved the writing operation into the new outbuilding today. Pushpinned items to the walls. That'll count for something.

My dear friend and former student SPC has given me a whiskey glass. Etched scene of a big rig hauling a trailer through a desert full of cactus and windswept rock formations. This means a lot to me, I said. My whole whiskey glass collection is unmatched, I said. This fits right in, I said. I know, she said.

Too warm for January. Something's coming. Keep them sweaters near the top of the pile.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Morning, January.

So. And yeah. Let's go with a tenth the night of the first into the second, and let's add on another tenth so far today, and let's us make that two-tenths, if my math is right, for the shiny new year. ANYLF is going to go ahead with its 2008 figures for 1303 N Elam, which read as 39.15" for the year, giving us a 2.75" rainfall surplus. Various tabular data, these fancy governmental figures included, put our meant-to-have rainfall totals somewhat higher, up into the low-forty-inch range, but I have to point out that at least in the case of the fancy NOAA numbers, the data from which the tabular data is derived runs only to 2000, which does not take into account the droughts of the past several years, the most recent of which we have for the time being escaped, but keep an eye to the western sky, etc. Official ANYLF apology for the rainfall total comma series: sorry.

The rain gauge isn't sited yet, so that's on the docket for the ANYLF Late Morning Various Task Task Force, which is to say, time to bundle up, take the impatient dog to the front porch, eye a low spot in the liriope out there along the front walk, and jab that thing into the ground. It's currently sited on its side on a batch of leftover pansies carried over from the old place and waiting for a home somewhere on the southeast side of the house. They're a little rootbound this late in the year, but they'll still go, I bet. They just need a little almost-unseasonably-warm rain and they'll be just fine.

Today: mop the old house, mop the new one. It's chilly and gray out there. It's beautiful. Photographic evidence to begin to follow once I can find the camera, which is in either that box over there, or that one, maybe, by the lamp. The animals are starting to figure out the slick floors. So are the people. The birds are good here. You can hear the birds no problem. And the train. I do love to hear the train. It's been a week of desperate exhaustion and general disbelief and tiny, tiny electricity-based successes. I am not electrocuted. We're exactly halfway moved in. We have cooked a meal.