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:


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:


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.
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.