Monday, August 31, 2009

It Happened.

Going upstairs—in August—to set the fan up in the window.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Belief System.

It was 87 on the front porch today. In the shade. It's August. It's late August, yes, but it's August. And what I still cannot believe—though I spent much of yesterday wearing long sleeves just to see if I could hope us into it—is that once it dips below 70 degrees sometime in the wee hours tonight, certain of the fancies don't want us to see seventy again until Wednesday. It seems impossible. It seems desperately unlikely. It seems so glorious a proposition that I am afeared of jinxing it, afeared of saying much other than that I've already bought lunch for tomorrow in the brilliant, rainy hope that I won't have to leave the house, that the most I'll need to do all day is move from porch to porch, dig out the tea, think about how the only way I would leave the house is to head a couple hours north, up towards Mt. Rogers, where it may not break sixty in the ensuing fifty hours or so.

I mean, even if it does happen, it only means that when it's ninety in October it'll just break all our hearts that much more—but this is like hoping for a snow day even though you know it means they'll send you to school on a Saturday later on. This is the mathematics of childhood, and, for that matter, of every other -hood: I will take it now even if it will do me some small damage later on. This is what we have to learn, and learn again: to take what is offered, to know what to do with it, to hope for what clearly is not possible, and then to act like we're not surprised when it does finally, shockingly, unseasonably arrive.

And I still can't quite believe it'll happen.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Little Rumbly.

It's tried hard to rain all day. One of those everybody-but-us situations.

It's trying a little harder right now. As for me and my kind, I'm going back out there to watch it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Family Hour.

Yesterday got hot, but not so hot a body could not sit on the porch into the late evening and read Wells Tower, who I shan't quote here since this is a family show, but man, his characters string together exclamations so incantatory it feels as though I don't any longer know how to curse. I mean, damn. Perhaps I ought to go hit my thumb with a hammer. Or go back in time to AMR's glistening little grad-school apartment and pin my finger to the door again whilst hanging, via screw and screw gun, a full-length mirror. AMR's been on about having a full-length mirror again here at the castle. She thinks I just keep forgetting to help her look for one. Let her keep thinking that. This is about self-preservation, people. Helpful hint: fingers clear of the mirror before you snug it up to the door. Better still: no mirrors at all, vampire-style.

God fuck a milk cow, I'm tired of vampires. (Thanks, Wells Tower!) (Sorry, kids!)

Well, if you want the weather, and not the sports, then we probably ought to get to it: Bill's extratropical by now, if he's anything at all, and somewhere near Iceland or Norway, but never fear: Danny, a general mess of a storm, is forecast for a weekend sweep of the mid-Atlantic, which has the graphics people hither and yon in the requisite tizzy, and I say, let 'em. I myself am half a step away from chucking the end of my summer and learning Photoshop and building my very own proprietary exactly-the-same-as-everybody-else's forecast cone. That's got to be better than sitting out in the spidiary and tearing the same sentence out and then pasting it back in again and again and again— Or maybe it isn't. I know it isn't, in fact, and this afternoon's looming dirged department meeting out at the puppet show reminds me of my good fortune, has me pre-mourning the loss of my swank summer life of robe-wearing and half-assery and occasional west-looking to see if perchance we might dream of a little storm skating along—

Every fall I say things are going to be different, that this will be the year I learn, finally, to maintain what passes for the integrity of the inside of my classrooms while acting more openly as though the complete lack of integrity of endless meetings and email frenzy and goal-and-objectivizing is what it is, which is a song and dance meant to make us all look busy enough to where the lions hopefully won't pick us out of the herd. Since it is once again fall, friends and fans of poorly-organized tropical systems, I'll say it, and this time around, I'm trying, mantra-style, to mean it: This year things are going to be different. I will write during the year. I will write during the year. I will write during the year.

I love the classroom. There are times, though, when I despise the trappings of the academy so deeply that I can think of nothing else. That's what needs to get wiped off the radar: Hate it, and I'm spending time doing it. Let it be, and I could be writing.

And look: I don't want to say anything about this yet, because I fully expect to get my heart broken, but the forecast for early next week—for back-to-school—looks so pretty that, if it somehow comes to pass, I wouldn't have any choice but to take it as a sign that this year, in fact and actually, could finally bring maybe a little more writing shed in the mornings, a little more front porch in the evenings, a little less pedagogy, a little less whatever the hell other long words those folks hang onto for dear life, a little less, if you will, screwing my finger to the door.

Hot today. But check the forecast. Something's out there. Maybe more than one thing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Parenthetical Weather.

It tried to rain, sort of. We never fully heated up. There was a mid-morning dogwalk. There were clouds off and on. That was today.

I keep thinking it's going to get hot. I'm still sure it is. Let's just count these last two days as two free days.

School's coming. Fall's coming. Six of one.

Juvenile hawk learning to hunt, or fly, or both, out over the house this evening.

Tomorrow: Writing. Sanding a table. Drinking coffee. Any order OK.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dog Walk.

What to say about our little almost-fall? That when I left the house for the dogwalk, the air smelled like school? That long sleeves seemed a not unreasonable idea? That it was firmly in the low seventies, that our fog hadn't yet burned off, that the couple clumps of men waiting by vans outside of houses to do roofing and painting seemed to have an easy day in front of them? And then what about this? By the turn, down there at the bottom of the hill by the park, the fog had broken, the cicadas were cranked all the way back up, the temps were already pushing hard for eighty, were promising, in fact, what the fancies are promising for the week: we may get cool mornings, and cool evenings, even, but in between, it's best to remember that even if all indications are to the contrary, it's sure as hell still August, still summer, still tomato-and-basil season, no real time to take the dog around the block wearing long sleeves. Don't get crazy just yet.

We startled a hawk out of a crepe myrtle. Thing had to weight ten pounds. Eye-level. Five feet away from me. The dog never flinched. I flinched a little. That'll rearrange the way you consider the food chain over the course of the day.

Hot and probably dry coming. Water your ferns.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Waning August.

It feels hotter than advertised, but what do I know? I mowed the yard, mopped the porch. That'll foul your instruments. Persons in their yards and driveways all up and down the block. Car washing. Weed eating. Spring cleaning—in August, of course.

Feels like we may be gearing up here for one last gasp—slight, slight chance of showers the next couple of days, and then back into the nineties mid-week. Run them air conditioners and icemakers. Cut off them cutoffs. Have some limes on hand. A cool washcloth for the back of the neck.

If you are of a mind to mop your porch, wait for evening.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ashley, Megan.

In ANYLF's ongoing All The Months At Once promotion, welcome to April. Or June. I know Carolina August, friends and fans of weather, and while it's steamy out there, this ain't it: a morning thunderstorm belongs earlier on in the calendar, particularly one of that sort—the rain first, and then the lightning. Odd and odd. And getting huge as it tracks east: hang on out there, people. That thing's starting to look vaguely apocalyptic.

Back here on the Piedmont, the radar seems to be wanting to bubble us up another round, so let's keep that chance of rainfall in your forecast through the afternoon and evening hours. The fancies say there's cooler, drier air out there somewhere, Septemberish air, that's supposed to push us into something livable over these next few days, but out in front what we're getting is surely something else, is a warm washcloth, a cup of tea, another storm.

This is the last weekend of summer. Next weekend, there will be that pitted feeling in the stomach, the bird in the back of the head singing a song about MW and TTH and marking papers and calling roll and suspecting already that you'll never really be able to remember which one's Ashley and which one's Megan. Oh, Ashley and Megan. There are days, I confess, where I'd cut off a toe in order to keep from ever needing to know which one of you is which.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


By six o'clock last night I'd all but given up on the prospect of rain, but it was cloudy, so AMR and I sallied forth into the sponge that was yesterday evening to dump dead and dying petunias out of the front pots and replace them with some portulaca—big goings on around here at ANYLF. Serious doings. But that is not the point. The portulaca looks nice out there—also called purslane by professionals and hobbyists alike—but that is not the point. This is the point: Give or take right on top of us to a mile or so south and east of us, a fairly large thunderstorm did appear largely out of nowhere (and/or it formed right along a little trough that had been nudging Piedmontward all day, but who really needs science at a time like this?) and gave us an easy quarter-inch, and gave the folks south and east quite the thunder-and-lightning situation. If you lived even just downtown, but surely out 70 a ways, you probably saw an inch or better. If you lived here, then you saw it rain on your freshly watered pots for a little while, and listened to it bang away on those lucky souls who live on the next farm over. But it rained, and a day with rain is rainier than a day without, and it's August, as aforementioned in this very space, friends and fans of the forward march of time and seasons, so let us not complain, alright?

Whatever weed and tree situation it is that's growing in the gutters of my writing shed has really taken off since the uphill mouse cut down the trees that formerly and so nicely shaded me out there.

Bill still looks like something to look at. Our morning fog has burned off. The cicadas are going double-time. Precious few weeks left to make more cicadas, is my guess. Humid. Hot. I'm right on the edge of pining, really pining, for an evening where a flannel shirt makes sense. But that means going back to the puppet show out there at Fancypants Polytechnic Institute for the Advancement of Pedagogic Stratagems and General Malaise, and I'm not quite keen on that just yet. So, fine. If it has to be pasta-water hot for me to have another week off, I'll take it. I will water my portulaca and I will hope for afternoon storms and I will lock my jaw down in a death-dealing grip on these last ten days of August and try not to think about much of anything except how in hell to drag one more paragraph out of the thing that threatens to be a novel out there in the newly sunbaked shed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer Rut.

Last evening, on our way to the store, the dog stood in the front seat, put her face an inch and a half from the A/C vent, closed her eyes about halfway, and took small, gentle bites of the cool air. Smiled while she did it. We had the windows down. She chose the A/C. It is highest summer.

There's a little breeze out there today, but there was yesterday, too, and it was still mid-nineties and crackling dry. One starts to wonder if it might ever, ever rain again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Forecast Tracks.

Take Ana and Claudette off the big board: Ana fell apart, and Claudette came in and rained on Florida and Alabama and spun around a bit. Claudette is what you hope for if you're parched and hoping for one more okra harvest. Ana's probably what you never hope for—seems like every time something comes strafing through the Caribbean we get all those awful pictures of mudslides. And Bill? Bill looms, the forecast track a little all over the place, a little further towards the US mainland every time you check—looks like the Ph.D. holders over Weather-Channelward and NOAAward are still looking for that traditional back-out-to-sea hook, but if you're one of those folks who likes to check the three- and five-day cone, then new cones come out four times a day from your friends at the National Hurricane Center, so, you know, have a peek if you like.

Cicada-hot here—they go all day long. Yard's turned crispy. The trees still look green, and a little lush, even, but I don't think it's just my slight readying for fall that has me thinking the green of the maple out the back window here looks a little shinier than it has, like a tomato getting ready to go ripe. We're mid-August. There's nothing anybody can do about that. This is as hot and dry and sad as we get, but the nights are shorter, and up Virginiaward this past weekend, the mornings and evenings both were cool. If the wind drifted right, you could smell something different at its edges.

Seems possible my head's got a cicada or two going in it. Characters out back starting to feel like characters. School coming. German Johnsons yielding. Dog rubbing her face on the guest bed still on the den floor from two weeks back. Home from Virginia, from hardwood flooring, from family. Long day in a Charlotte mall yesterday, where the weather went by in the skylights and the tweens went by at ground level. Home again with a couple of lampshades and a coffee mug or two to show for it. Home again, home again. What next? I need a five-day cone.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tropical Update.

Ana. Bill. Claudette. I go out of town for 53 hours and leave AMR in charge of the weather, and this is what happens.

Not to worry, friends and fans of weather, and of HTML. We here at the internets have everything under control. ANYLF works Sundays during hurricane season. You know who else works Sundays? The Weather Channel. They're going slightly batshit over there, but in their defense, they've been a little bored. All them fancy graphics, and no chance to use 'em until mid-August. On the phone right now, Biff Boffson with Buncrowe County Whatever Services. Animal Control. Meals on Wheels. Pothole Patrol. What he's saying: it's raining. He figures it'll probably rain more. Shot of the angry sea while he talks. Then the radar. Then the angry sea again.

So long as nobody gets their eye poked out, I do love a good hurricane. And the attendant television excellence. In the angry sea right now is a young man bodyboarding. Claudette: not so fierce yet. Stay tuned. Keep it here. ANYLF is your number one Triad-based source for hurricane bloggery.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Another Pattern.

Up this morning to seventy degrees and showers and, now, a backfilling radar out west: this is August we can believe in, I think. Just when you thought we'd have that oak-killing heat set in and hold on, we get this. Tomato gardeners of the world, rejoice. Here is a reprieve for sickly dogwoods. A gentling. Wearing a pair of jeans might even be possible on a day like today, but I wouldn't yet know. It's nearly noon and I'm still in my robe. Summer.

The downhill next-doors cut down a couple of ivy-choked trees over the weekend. Probably had to be done, but the new open view is causing dreams of sugar-plums to dance through my head. And crepe myrtles. And flowering cherries. And anything else I could get to grow to eight or ten feet fairly quickly. They wanted grass in their back yard. I wanted shade and privacy. Sometimes the bear gets you.

What else to tell you, weatherheads? There is not much. I was asked point-blank yesterday what I thought the chances were of it raining at noon today, and I said we were probably in the kind of pattern that would give us sunshine and then afternoon and evening storms. Little did I know we would wake up to a preview of October. This is the summer of all the months at once. Here's your local forecast: nobody knows. Probably what you ought to do is get dressed and go on out there and have a look for yourself.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Life Saver.

From your pal and mine, friends and fans of moments of grace:

A cloud, the exact color of the boy's hat and shaped like a turnip, had descended over the sun, and another, worse looking, crouched behind the car. Mr. Shiftlet felt that the rottenness of the world was about to engulf him. He raised his arm and let it fall again to his breast. "Oh Lord!" he prayed. "Break forth and wash the slime from this earth!"

The turnip continued slowly to descend. After a few minutes there was a guffawing peal of thunder from behind and fantastic raindrops, like tin-can tops, crashed over the rear of Mr. Shiftlet's car. Very quickly he stepped on the gas and with his stump sticking out the window he raced the galloping shower into Mobile.

Been a little hot of late. Dry. We are, as always in August, trying to bake ourselves into cinders. Looks more and more promising this afternoon, though, each time I look out the north- and west-facing windows. Just past our ninety-five degree front porch heat we do seem to be developing something of a darkening sky. The NOAA folks are even saying maybe go and get your lawn chairs and tie them off to something. Let's hope, let's hope. A good storm's been hard to find.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August Heat.

Hot weather coming. Mid-nineties over the weekend. Enjoy this evening, friends and fans of late-night-front-porchery, while you can. And if that's not you, then enjoy a gentle early morning tomorrow—I'll likely as not be sleeping through the fog we're bound to see with it cooling as quickly as it is.

The tomatoes are coming in like it's all they know how to do.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rainless Delay.

TLK, the avenging angel of summertime, arrives eastbound and truckin' at sixish pm in the evening, approves of the emergency pre-storm tie-up of the tomatoes here at 709, and the two of us boldly go out in front of said storm to Burlington, to the prettiest little ballpark you could ever wish to see, and we get there late, and the game's not started, and the tarp's on the diamond, and the two of us think, well, yes, we'll have a beer, we'll wait—and then we sit lawn-chaired (they allow lawn chairs in Burlington) through a one-hour rain delay in which there is, friends and fans of weather, no rain—we have seen the grail, is what I'm wanting to say: We have seen the rainless rain delay.

It rained here, in 27401, but not in the way it looked like it would on the radar. It rained some—some—eventually—in Burlington, but not enough to cancel the game, which was canceled anyway—precanceled, if you like. TLK, on weathering: That's why you don't cancel a game based on the radar you can see on your phone. We spent a lot of time looking at the radar on TLK's weatherphone. When I own a minor league baseball team, all weather-based cancellation decisions will revert wholly unto TLK and/or his designated second. Me, I'll be sitting in a lawn chair and eating hot dogs and drinking America's favorite light beer at a fair, fair price out of a plastic, plastic cup. Lots of wind out there in 27215. You understand why they might have panicked. But they did panic. They could have played the requisite 5 1/2 for sure.

Still: A summer night, a storm, beer and hot dogs, tomatoes tied off to the deck and safe and sound. And this, the second grail of the night: more minor-league ball than you could ever want, and all on the radio, the way God intended. I remember how for the bulk of my mid-childhood—say, the years age seven to age whatever I am now—I would listen to the Braves on my red clock radio until I fell asleep. If you don't love a ballgame on the radio, then there is, I think, something lacking in your soul. I know the Braves aren't, except for the late innings this season, minor league, and I know I don't know a thing about the Fresno Grizzlies, whose game I'm now listening to (v. the New Orleans Zephyrs, in the seventh, the announcers currently thanking The Elephant Bar for the food, and, I hope, American light beer, Grizzlies leading the Z's 5-0)—I've lost this sentence, this paragraph, this whole damn deal—

Baseball. Summer. Waning days of each. Two outs in the top of the seventh out there in Fresno. Hey, internet. Little more rain trying to come our way here at the very end of the night. Probably ought to cancel whatever you have planned.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Really Quite.

Last night, we here in 27401 cooled into the late evening enough to make leashing up the dog seem like a reasonable idea, and it was one of those communal ideas, apparently—by eightish or so it seemed much of the neighborhood was leashing its dogs and trying out the sidewalks, the park—one of those evenings where you pass somebody down at the bottom of the hill, and then again up top, your little orbit reintersecting theirs, and then follows the requisite neighborhood summer banter: Hot today. It's turned hot. Really hot. Heard it's supposed to be hot tomorrow. But it's nice now, isn't it? It is, it is.

Top of the hill, right as we got home: That huge storm out by Siler City was so huge you could see it from here, lit up by the lasts of the sunset, and lighting itself with cloud-to-cloud, such that it was something to stand there and see the very top of, ghostly white and that electric lavender/orange, neighborhood bats wheeling and crashing around in the immediate foreground, uninterested in the storm, interested, instead, I hope, in our mosquito collection. Left the truck in the driveway, pointing slightly downhill, one or two too many days. Little pond in the bed. Little incubator. Seven zillion mosquito larvae, who knows how many mosquitoes. Come on, bats. Little help, as we used to say in Little League.

A big old complex of storms looks to be trying to push itself down out of Kentucky and West Virginia. Nothing really in our forecast, but that doesn't necessarily mean we won't see something late afternoon or overnight. Or tomorrow. In the meantime, drink plenty of fluids. Check out the window every now and then. Let's just see what happens. If it cools off enough later on, maybe leash up your dogs. That's about enough for one summer day, isn't it?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Quiet Evening.

Right at the end of the day, we broke out of the gray, and we saw that same light we picked up last evening, except this time on the heels of an all-morning rain and then fog and rain again—I know it was as hot as we've seen it yesterday, and I know it was bad this morning—AMR came back in from her catporchery saying it was like the Everglades out there—but we've tilted, for sure, and the light is April's light again, is leaning back to the horizon, is pulling us even at ninety degrees in the sun or seventy-five in the rain back surely, surely towards autumn, towards long sleeves.

Tonight: chopped tomatoes and half a lime in a bowl. A cold beer. A few chips. The house so quiet the hum of the fridge and the slide of the crickets is about all there is. Out the windows the sky's still lighter than the trees, is that dying purple you really want everybody to love. White mums in a pitcher. Produce in the house. All the rooms dark but for this one. Late summer. Very late. The nights are shortening back up, laying in for the coming frost. Which is not soon. But close one eye, and you can see it. Close the other, and there's at least a month of tomatoes still to come.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cherry Tomatoes.

August: Guilford County brings us ninety degrees in the front-porch shade and the kind of hot and humid out in the sun that we've been waiting for all along: This is summer the way the framers intended. Strict constructionists, rejoice. How it's not raining right now escapes me, and the radar does show a little pop-up here and there—I'm not saying it will for sure and sure rain, but it certainly seems possible. If not today, summertimers, then surely tomorrow. Humidity. It's a wet heat. Good god. Do not go outside for any reason at all.

Except to photograph yesterday's yield of cherry tomatoes.

At the Harris Teeter, in celebration of their new Boar's Head Deli, about which much and grand excitement among the Teeterers, there was, inexplicably, a pirate, complete with peg leg, doing magic tricks and playing "Won't You Take Me To Funkytown" on a couple of pedestal speakers he had set up there near the magic tricks. Also a back-to-school prize wheel for the kids to spin. I know that's not the weather. I just thought it bore reporting. At least repeating.