Monday, November 15, 2010

Chance Of.

When you get those spitshined blazing leafshot autumn days ten, twelve days in a row, you forget how nice a low gray morning is, you forget how those maples down the street will fire just as brightly against a gunmetal sky, you forget the plain pleasure of overcastness. Overcastedness. Overcast. One of the three, surely, right? Hard to say. Hard to say whether it'll rain or not, too, and though the radar says no, not now, that sky looks like if we got some half-shower, enough to wet the streets and sidewalks, probably nobody should step up to be surprised.

The dog and the Toad line up for the same team: gray morning means sleeping in. For the first time since the time change, the Toad held on until eight. I know real grownups have real schedules. I do. But eight o'clock was nice this morning for us rank amateurs.

The squirrel still lives in the writing shed eaves, his residence a hedge against the possibility that he's a her and that the residence is non-singular. Once we get past the time a fall clutch would have clutched and gone, I'll do the blunt work of eviction. For now, huddle up, little man. I apologize in advance. I'm picking the lesser of two evils. One cannot have a hollering baby beast of his own, it turns out, and evict the possibility of infant squirrels. If they were in here, if they were threatening the actual family, I guess that'd be one thing. If all they're doing is threatening the novel, well, then, that columns itself into a different category.

A visiting gig at the Virginia sibling's puppet show means a short week at my own—and on a morning like this one, that feels hopeful, feels alright. Keep it tuned here, friends and fans of weather. We may see rain tomorrow. From this chair, right now, that feels like something somebody'd want to call in.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Early November.

The weather's flipped back warm again, or mainly warm: you'll want a jacket out there waiting for the school bus, friends and fans of domesticity, of procreation, of bubbling the planet with tiny lunchboxed velour-hoodied pre-Kers, but by noon it should be warm enough to throw the windows wide open and wait for that selfsame bus to trundle them back safely home for a snack of milk and four fig newtons. See how easily we can flash a few years into the future? The Toad hollers upstairs as he heads down for a nap. Squirrels have indeed made a home in the eaves of the writing shed. We're seeing overnight lows in the upper thirties and low forties, highs in the upper sixties to right around seventy. The big maple in the back yard burns yellow. The weather's meant to hold like this through Sunday. It may not be November any longer, but it's—well, it's pretty. You want fancier than that? Try some other increasingly irregular forecast.

The road home from the puppet show the last few nights has seen smoke from leaf fires hanging low in the air, dust from plowed-under tobacco fields hanging low in the air. The time changed, which means sunset rides back west to the Gate City, stars and planets firing away in the clear above the smoke and dust. Getting to be time to look for Venus, for Orion. The moon's been filling this week back from that fingernail rip of a crescent I like so well, and walking out of my office at night I've noticed just how quickly it slides in one direction or the other. I've always known it goes full to new and back again in however many days. I just don't think I've ever quite noticed it three days in a row. Seems a small thing, but it is a thing all the same.

The fire out back should be good by now, should have pushed the chill out of the building, should have made the space ready. There are two separate books I'd rather be working on right now, both worse ideas than the good one that's at the desk but just won't quite go the way I want it to. These are pretty days. They are. They just are not easy ones, or simple. The Toad sleeps. The dog's waiting for me to give up on my own life and take her and hers around the block. I've made a second pot of coffee. The light through all these leaves seems shaped and weighted. These are the things I have to tell you. This is damn near all there is.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Back Again.

The morning after Halloween: candy wrappers and Spiderman masks in the streets. Since then: cleaner, colder. Wednesday and Thursday looked like you'd want November to look like—wet and gray, low sky, early sunsets, hat weather. If someone rang your doorbell and wanted to see November, wanted to see it right away, that would have been what to show them. And we wake up on the first Friday morning of the month to this rinsed-through near-frost, high light blue sky and the tops of the maples already turned and fallen and blowing around in the lawns. Every year I forget that after the turn, the leaves fall top to bottom. Every year they do it again.

What do you want to know? That the weather happens every day, and that the forecast sometimes does not? No good answer that doesn't have the following elements: toad, novel, puppet show, toad, novel, puppet show. Sometimes dog. Sometimes out-of-towners. Sometimes pure laziness. Sometimes exhaustion. Sometimes an admixture of all of these and more.

The Toad is 155 days old.

Cold mornings we use the fire in the living room, I use the stove outside. Squirrels may be living in the eaves of the building. The plan: wear gloves, unscrew some of the soffitry, pull on whatever I find and duck the hell out of the way. That's coming either later on today or to a Saturday near you.

First freeze of the season forecast for tomorrow night. It smells like winter out there. We've shifted. We make a little more coffee than we did in the warmer months. The time changes Sunday night—or we do. It's one of the two.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Weather Watch.

We're having, it seems, October tornadoes. Y'all hunker down out there, please, and more about this tomorrow. Two weeks away and we get seventy overnight degrees on the eve of November. Somebody around here should start paying a little more attention, it seems.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Edging Closer.

Yesterday evening, walking the Toad through the park in the very end of the sunlight, I said to AMR, Thank god today's not Sunday. Why? she said. Because then tomorrow would be Monday, I said, and on Mondays I have to do my job. And now here we are, and it's Sunday, and tomorrow, then, is Monday, as it almost always is, which means looms the job and etcetera, but the weather is so good it turns out I cannot care. I mean, it's there, the workweek is, with all its attendant glory, but ANYLF is reporting live from the slowest front porch there is, and the jays are out here hollering at each other, and I can hear something chewing or rooting or both over in the holly bushes, and I have a brand new pair of bluejeans on that are a little too cool for a person like me but who cares, and the Toad naps upstairs, and even Mendenhall with its trucks banging by sounds correct. Kids down the hill are screaming about the rules and subsets of rules of a game that seems to involve throwing something hard, like a rock, at something else hard, like a piece of corrugated metal roof.


The droughtsmacked trees are starting to turn here, which means next weekend's mountain trip will probably be to a place that's already turned and long since quit, but that's OK, too. Pretty up there with leaves, pretty up there without. The big plans for the rest of the day down here on the Piedmont: wash the dishes, push a rag around the kitchen counters, wait for 4:30ish in the p.m., when there are large hopes for an outbuildinged toad, some AM radio, a Braves playoff game. I got the pansies in the ground this week. I did a little weeding. I wrote more days than not. The facts of the case are these, and they are undisputed.

78 degrees on the front porch. No clouds. Not enough breeze to say breeze, but the humidity feels single-digited, so we're cool. Not chilly. A little warm, even, over the top of the cool. But cool. And in the evenings—in the evenings, if you don't yet want a hat, it's simple enough to imagine how it'll be that way soon enough. We are having autumn. We are having front porch weather. There is really, friends and fans of weather, only the front porch. Everybody around here seems to think so, anyway.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fundamentals, Fundamentals.

Here is an October evening: up late watching the Braves lose a game they're bound to lose, a wee bit of ice in a wee glass, no conferences scheduled puppetshowward tomorrow, the windows open—and oh, by the way, we're now firmly in that kind of fall wherein if you leave the windows open at night, you'll cool off, and if you leave them open in the day, you'll warm back up. Blanket weather. Damaged sentence weather. Heavy shirt weather, but not any longer flannel weather. That was earlier this week. This morning it was warm in the sun for the first time in days. Tuesday and Wednesday were Novemberish. Today was Septemberish—and this is good, since even though it is now October, we had no September to speak of, and we will take it wherever it is.

There is SanFran's rail-thin Lincecum striking out his twelfth Brave. Here is the place where it gets easier to hope less.

Hoping less: this is the essence of baseball. I love other sports—hell, I love most sports—but there is nothing like 162 games to explain, in full and without question, what heartbreak looks like across a landscape and a timeline. Thirtyish cities take six months to give in to the inevitable. Pitchers and catchers report at the end of February. We look good for next year. There is always, friends and fans of weather and of baseball, next year.

It's dry out there, and cool. And it will be for a time. We'll see eighties, but it won't much matter. It'll still feel like fall. Cut that TV or radio on, tune in to a game, and it'll feel like fall there, too. I used the woodstove out in the writing shed earlier this week, more to check to make sure it still worked than anything else. I won't need it again for a week or so, but now I know, and, as they say in baseball, now you're ready, Perry. Now you're ready. Keep your head in. Be a hitter. Here we go, now. Here we go.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chilly Nights.

It's turned cold. Except that's not true: it's turned cool, and it was so hot for so long that it seems cold. The evening dogwalk with the Toad meant a hat for him, a hat for me. The house is cold. Or cool. It's 67 in here. It was 64 this morning, upstairs and down. It's only two or three degrees warmer than we keep it in January. I will not turn the heat on. I will not turn the heat on. I will not turn the heat on. (But I will happily use the woodstove in the writing shed.) We landed in the forties overnight. We're in the forties now. TWC wants us right at 40 for the overnight low tonight. Which means somebody's bound to see 39. Thirty-nine. Say it with me, friends and fans of weather, or say it at your convenience. Doesn't matter. We have shifted, have tilted past the edge, have sailed, finally, past that point beyond which there be dragons. I have inventoried the flannel. I have found the hats. It is fall.

Someone in the neighborhood pulled our emptied trash cans off the street and put them back in the driveway where they belong. When I was a teenager and slept past one on Sundays, my dad would mow the lawn to prove a point. Didn't work then, won't work now. Though dear sweet baby Jesus firing up an old green Lawn Boy do I remember the sound of my having lost the battle, the smell of me figuring out if I could still win the war.

I wrote this morning. I wrote yesterday morning. Shocking what that will do for making one feel like one writes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Seasons Change.

Autumn arrives, all at once and in full—I've been in long sleeves since Friday, did actual work in the actual outside in those same long sleeves today—we were so hot for so long I didn't quite believe it would ever come, and surely didn't believe it would arrive like this, seemingly to stay. Maybe we saw seventy today. Maybe we'll see it tomorrow. We're dropping hard through the sixties and fifties right now, are trying for the forties both of the next two nights and most of the next ten, say the fancies. I don't recall the season ever shifting here exactly like this, so all-at-once like this. I love it. I'll take it. There was a bagpiper down in the park on Friday morning. It rained like all hell Wednesday night. We put the end of the subfloor in the shed on Saturday afternoon. These are the things that have happened. That, and the weather changed. Maybe for good. We can only hope.

Trash piled by the curb. Ice in the glass. Coffee made for the morning. Chicken chili for dinner. Happy dog, quiet cats, sleeping Toad. Braves, impossibly, in the playoffs. Football season. The outside edging possibility of woodstove season. Chance of rain. Chance of all else.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back, Baby.

We're back, baby.


That's 4.1 inches since yesterday at about 11 a.m., on top of an easy inch and a half previous to that, and though for most of this year we've been so slack and babified and novelwhelmed and generally scattershotted if not scatterbrained here at ANYLF Global WeatherWatch HQ, what we can report with confidence is that the newly installed rain gauge out in the front flowerpots says we've seen almost six inches of rain this week. The fancies are holding some showers in the forecast for this morning, and it's still raining out east, and I wouldn't be stunned to see a sprinkle or two, but Nicole is over and out for the most part, so if you've got bailing or mopping to do, why then, go ahead. The worst is over. We at 709 are high and dry, and the ongoing project that is the writing shed, that is 709 1/2, is also dry, or mostly dry: a building will, it turns out, leak through a window left open. It will not, though, leak through its carefully caulked and flashed seams and corners, so all's well that holds here on the Piedmont this post-tropical morning. That was some rain. That was some wind. That was a good night to sleep with the window right behind my head—no water there, though—cracked enough to hear it all.

The rest of the subfloor, providing I can get the warlock electrician (treat him nicely; otherwise he may turn the Toad into a newt) to get the city out here to say A and also OK, goes in tomorrow, when I'll be Skil-sawing instead of department meeting, if we can use those as verbs and if I can get away with such a thing. On the agenda at the puppet show: one more meeting about the same thing as all the other meetings. On the agenda here: possibly finishing the sub, possibly moving the desk back under the window, possibly getting ready one more time to possibly start up again finally finally finally possibly. You tell me, friends and fans of hating meetings more than hating trying to get the new book's sea legs back under it, which one you'd choose.

Here are some numbers to finish off this rain-cleaned Thursday: the forecast highs for the next six days. The Weather Channel says 76, 76, 71, 65, 60, 56. The NWS says 76, 73, 71, 67, 64, 65. Another number: both institutions, asked to pick a low over that span, choose 47 at least once. October. Autumn. Weather. Projects. The good clothes. We're back.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Large L.


Nicole seems to be here—or whatever this is coming up out of the Caribbean and Florida. Some storm that nearly pulled together. Tropical Depression Sixteen. A big red L. What it means for us lucky souls here on the Piedmont: rain. Probably a little more than initially forecast. And this is not even technically that. This is our cold front snagging the very top of the big red L and getting things cranked up early:


See there? The low, as I understand it, is still south of Florida proper. The low is still headed our way, even though it's already here. What else this means for us selfsame lucky souls: we are not supposed to break seventy today. An optimistic man would try a bit of flannel. An optimistic man would brew a little more coffee. An optimistic man would look at these temps and this rain and dream weekend dreams of aeration and overseeding. An optimistic man would also have been sitting at his kitchen table since quarter of eight, waiting for the city and the warlock electrician, but hey. Let's not get greedy. Or hopeful. Or inspected.

It's been drizzling all morning, and it now at nine-thirty is darker out there and raining in earnest. The truck windows have been down this whole time, it now occurs to me. The Toad has slept in this whole time. Probably now would be a good time to spend this whole time doing things like drying out the vehicle, waking up the boy, getting things fed and ready, etcetera and amen. But first, another cup of coffee. First, a little more rain.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brief Report.

I have many things to tell you. We saw almost and inch and a half of rain, is one of those things. Another: we're forecast to pick up at least that from as-yet-formed TS Nicole. Another: the fancies want to give us lows in the forties by the end of the week. My god. Hat weather looms. Could it be true? We shall see. The city turns up to inspect both the plumbing and the electric this week. Cross 'em if you got 'em, friends and fans of whatever it is that comes next.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Long Sentences.

I put on jeans and long sleeves this morning before I'd even let the dog out, even though it was sunny, even though it was already not the forecast we'd been forecast, which is and was so unbelievable that only a thing like putting on long sleeves after a string of what feels like ninety days of ninety degrees could conjure what we've actually got, which is: breeze. Cool weather. Actual rain on the actual radar off to our not-so-distant south and west, rain that the fancies want here by now or by a little before now, rain which is tardy but still seems to be coming all the same, rain which could dump two or three inches on our dead and dying yards and gardens over the next couple of days. And today's forecast: low seventies, though we're already there. Low seventies and rain. It's getting to where I trust the shed in the rain, but it had also gotten to where I was trusting that it wouldn't matter, that we'd never see real rain again.

I've finally got enough of the subfloor in that shed to where this afternoon I intend to shuffle the deck chairs around in there some, see if we can't get an arrangement whereby a sentence or two might be written on purpose at the desk or at the table or maybe if all else fails just right there on the vapor-barriered floor.

Late September. Long light in the back yard, sound of the wind in the droughted trees. I have of late been missing youth, been missing being young—not that I'm not plenty young now, and not that one can even set down a lament like that and be taken as anything other than some needlepointed-saying-spewing fool—but I have been, all the same. I see highschoolers on the streets and sidewalks here at home, and the college kids out at the puppet show, and the grad students back here again, all of them skinny and hopeful and trying like all hell to get some other of their tribe to look their way, and I think, thank god all that's over for me. Thank god I made it, survived, landed, impossibly, here. But then one of them will walk by with another of them, or I'll see a flock of them out on the dogwalk or through the windshield when I'm driving to or from wherever, some errand of some import, and it is not that I want to be with them, want to be taken in—instead, I want to be them, want to be them again, want another shot at it, just for a day or two. I want out of any life where I'm at all responsible for anything other than some foolhardy dream of where, later on, I might end up. But then soon enough, a mile or so on, or back up the hill, I don't want that as much, don't want it as acutely, and something about being sixteen or twenty or twenty-six just ends up being lodged in there like a little ache, like an old injury, like a soccer knee. What I want, somehow, and only barely, and only sometimes, is to go back to dreaming about getting—well, to dream about getting right about here. Which is, of course, luxury. But it is an ache all the damn same.

I'm afraid to say the rain's coming. What I will say is that the fancies say it is, and that it's on the radar. But it's late. And it's cool out there, but it's warming up. Fall is trying. It's trying to come in all at once. We'll see.

Monday, September 20, 2010

So Dry.

My god it will not rain. It will not even think about it. We tee fall up right here on the edge of the autumnal equinox and it has not rained, it will not rain, there is not rain to speak of in the forecast—my yard is brown. Everyone's yard is brown. I misnamed our coming equinox at some point earlier this week when it was also not raining. I can't tell if we're coming or going, if we're vernal or autumnal, though that vernal tends to rain on us. And granted, this one tends not to. We just tend not to go quite this dry right now. Right now we tend to break out of August. We tend. We do. We just don't rain any longer. At all.

The shed winds down, or winds toward the next list to be checked off. The Toad winds and unwinds himself. The book sits. The dog is alright. The Braves lose. It will not rain, it will not rain, it will not rain.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Little Prayer.

Items of note: (a) the man down in the park doing something to his yard with cinder blocks is, it finally seems, building some kind of water feature/waterfall/creek/pond, and (b) at the U-Haul place out by the puppet show, someone had very gently and with great purpose backed his U-Haul trailer fully down into a gravel drainage ditch. About each of these—salmon river, rental fiasco—there was much standing around and considering by the parties involved. I drove by each with the requisite care and radius.

ANYLF comes to you on one more criminally sunny breezy day in a string of criminally sunny breezy days, the grass in the medians and in my backyard so crisp one believes it's never rained, it'll never rain again, that rain, for the Toad, will appear only in books, if we still have books. Coke used to cost fifty cents, we'll tell him. And there was rain.

It's hot. It's ninety every day. The only thing keeping the top of my head pasted on is that it cools into each evening with a kind of deliberateness, like even the gods know this is too much, that we need a bone thrown once and again. The poplars are throwing off leaves. The walnuts are yellowing. The dogwoods are hanging on, but not in a way that gives you any hope that any of this might end well. I've had a bag of charcoal in the bed of my truck for almost a month, and I'm sure it's still good to use. I haven't mown my lawn in September, and can't remember when in August I might have done it, though I'm sure I must have. We are tinderbox dry. We are about as dry as I have known it. And still, somehow, the plague of mosquitoes hangs on. Maybe they're huddling for the night down the hill in the water feature. Who knows.

I wouldn't put a fake stream in my yard, but plenty of folks wouldn't have glued a bathroom onto their storage buildings, either, so let me not cast the first cinder block. Good luck down there, Mister Man. May your riverbed either leak or not leak—whatever those things are supposed to do, I hope yours does it. May your rented trailer land exactly where you mean for it to, each and every time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Deeply Dry.

Listen. It's been hot. It's been dry. Oppressively dry. Stunningly dry. Even though it rained, it's been dry. And the Braves have been losing. Which is not the weather, except that it is: to follow baseball is to wait for disappointment, to wait for everything, really. And here we go. We've lost ten of twelve, or eight of ten, or x of y, or something. It does not rain and the Braves do not win. And it's been hot. Except: even in the hot, even in the nineties, there's a low spot in the road on the way home from the puppet show where the air is tree-cooled, creek-cooled, a little low air conditioner, and in the evenings the light's all long, and longer still down in the dip in the road, and even as the Braves lose and lose, you think: OK. Fall. Autumn. September. Headed home. Something.

The electric goes in the writing shed tomorrow. The tile goes in the writing shed tomorrow. Dear sweet baby Jesus manning a rented router, the writing better go in the writing shed pretty soon. I can do the puppet show. I can do the Toad. I may even be able to do new drought. I cannot much longer do this no real writing thing. Enough trim. Enough white enamel paint. Enough everything but for selfish time at the selfish desk.

The cats are yowling at passing ambulances. The dog is not. I don't know that it'll ever rain again. And the fancies want nineties for the next however many days. Ninety, let's say. Randy Newman put the Toad to bed tonight. The Braves lost this afternoon. It was hot all day. And dry. It's fall. It's trying, really trying, to be fall.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back Again.

Sunday morning. Windows open, good coffee, radio on, Toad shrieking and smiling and shrieking. We're at the checklist phase of the writing shed reno: caulk this, paint that corner. Church bells ringing back there. An idea about getting some sauce tomatoes from the big market later on. I keep falling away from the forecast. In my defense, if there is a defense, we quit having weather for three weeks. It was hot and dry. Sometimes it was less hot and still dry. Yesterday it rained, though, and last night it rained, too, and this morning arrives wiped clean and cool and so sharply and obviously Septembered that it's hard not to say so, to report live from the scene, to say that it is what it is, which seems a lot like autumn.

I had ideas about returning full-time to all this come the vernal equinox, but that's too official, runs counter to the spirit of the project. Rather, let's say this: it's been sliding towards fall. It'll be hot again, will break our hearts, and maybe soon. Today, even, isn't likely to be cool all the way through. Still. Today's a day where you want to make the same promise you've been making: that you'll be better about doing the things you want to do.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Knock Knock.

Hot. Dry. Can't quite recollect the last time it rained. School's back in. August is over. Earl seems to want part and parcel of the Carolinas. Fiona back behind that. Nineties. Nineties to open September. My first day back at the puppet show: backed over the new office-hour lawn chairs with the truck, printed and discussed the wrong syllabus. Warned the children about seriousness of purpose. Can't remember if my own purpose has ever been less serious, can't remember when anything was ever more serious than it is now. Here is how it goes on the Piedmont: we watch for coastal storms, we wait for cooler nights. Bring me some season that isn't this, please. Waiter. There's a fly in my soup. The backstroke. Everyone will want one. Timing. Location. That's comedy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Box Score.

Certainly it wasn't cool today, but this morning found our heroes sticking their heads outside the back door saying things like, Have you been outside today? You should go outside. And we did, each in turn: I walked the dog. We went to lunch. AMR found an afternoon errand or two. And tonight, as per the plan we hatched in the morning after the been-outside-etc chatter, we stuck our heads out the door again, found things at 7 p.m. not altogether unacceptable, and did saddle the Toad for what might have been the final Dollar Monday of the season down at the Bats. We walked it from here. We found good seats. We drank dollar beer. We ate dollar hot dogs. I did, anyway. AMR is not hot for hot dogs. And the Toad? At eleven weeks? Watched the first seven innings and slept through the eighth and ninth. A religious man would use a word like blessed. I'm just going to say the weather was awfully good (temps falling into the seventies before the sun was down, light breeze, low humidity until after dark).

Tomorrow's the first day—an hour-long meeting only, but still—back at the puppet show. Hard to fathom. But you could smell autumn on the breeze there at the ballyard. This is how it goes. Summer comes and then summer closes itself back down. Not everything that comes with that is bad. Sure, you have to work. Sure, you have to go to meetings, which is/are like work, but with a flesh wound. However: there may be an August—could this have happened in August?—baseball game wherein one could tilt one's face into the breeze—could there have been a real breeze?—and hold one's sleeping son on one's lap and drink the end of a watered down Budweiser Light and think: Have you been outside today? You should go outside.

Box score: Bats won. 4-2. Sloppy game. Beautiful game. Beautiful night. More tomorrow. Here's hoping. We'll see.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tuning In.

Alright, friends and fans of weather, of toads, of dogs, of slightly unseasonable coolness, of set-in rains, of new ballcaps, of 90s countdowns on cable TV, of the Phillies losing when the Braves lose, of ice in the glass, of boy kings asleep upstairs, of coyotes sacked on the sofa, of wainscoting hung flat and true and square, of smooth drywall seams, of nearly completed renovations, of tile contractors returning calls, of longer light, of the sure tilt towards fall, of cats—for fuck's sake, even of cats—let there be this: tonight TLK and I rode in the rain to Burlington, got to Burlington, discovered that of the two teams meant to be there on the field only Burlington was there, waited for the other team, drank beer, watched the other team (post-repaired bus) arrive, watched—and this matters—a local attorney sing the national anthem sans sound system, heard the crowd hush itself in order to hear her render it just right, or right enough, watched the teams play an inning, watched it rain again, drank another beer, came home. There is talk of a months-long experiment involving sun-fading the new black Burlington ballcap on a cedar stake in the garden. There is talk about how hats just aren't what they used to be. There is talk about the talk. There is ice. There is the glass. There is the sleeping child. There is the coming weekend. It's still summer. Don't be confused. The light, though, by the by, says we should be confused. And the temperature. And the rain, a different rain than regular summer rain. And the cool edge to the too-hot morning breeze. Long sleeves, people. Long sleeves. Now is not the time. But one could imagine the time. Or a time. Maybe. Long sleeves may be out on the far horizon. I've been a week away from this. Every time that happens I remember what a mistake looks like. There has been weather. It has gone unreported. I apologize.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Smooth Seams.

It's trying to rain here, some little out-of-nowhere storm, not that we need it. We picked up an easy two inches last night in a flooder that left sticks and stones and all else washed all over the morning dogwalk. Eighteen months here and I've about got our rain gauge figured out: if the park floodline (pinestraw, leaves, soil, gravel, the occasional paper cup) is about up to the sidwalk, that's two or three inches. If the debris line runs past the sidewalk, that's three or four or more. We were right at the sidewalk this morning when the dog and I got down into the bottoms. The Bottoms: also the name of the rec fields at my summer camp. Only hot place up in those mountains. I think the heat just collected down in a pool on the ultimate frisbee field. I remember cutting my back on the grass making sliding catches, remember hoping that would be enough to impress the Rebecca Forbses of the world. It wasn't, any more than knowing what the park reads like after a big rain is enough to impress the AMRs of the world. Maybe there are other ways. Finding that last shred of patience to sing 'Sleepytime for Toads' through a few more verses might be one.

The boy king is sacked out upstairs. The boy king's dad, though the boy king had a fine day, is feeling slightly pulverized. The Toad continues, continues, continues. The Toad is always there.

I bought a rain gauge. Finally. An actual one. Plastic. With numbers. I ran out in the downpour and noise and stuck it in a potted plant on the front walk. Inch and a half in there this morning. I'm guessing half an inch or an inch before i remembered I'd bought it, ran out there with it. Maybe the park's a more reliable indicator. It's certainly always out there.

I'm mudding the walls in the shed annex. Myself. Working without a net. My father, up last weekend to bear witness to his namesake, taking a peek at the shed, and then more than a peek, helping me hang the ceilings: You should hire the joints out. You should. You really should. Me: [teenage whining]. Me today: Up on a ladder, joint compound in my hair, determined. Making a half-mess of things. But not a full mess. Not yet. There was some progress. I'll get it. I just want to do it myself. Also, I'm more careful these days. I have a reasonable chance of getting it right.

The novel got shortlisted for a very nice prize. It rained threeish inches. Maybe just two. The Toad spent the day barfing onesie after onesie. Every afternoon it's a trillion degrees. I have first and second coats of mud on most of the seams out back, spent the evening skimming another one on. It's still trying to rain. The Toad toads, and through the magic of radio and electricity and perhaps magic, I can hear him on the downstairs monitor. It's too hot to do much other than list assets and liabilities. I've got them all on the same list, anyway, am struggling to tell the difference between the two—am struggling to convince myself, here in August, that the designation's all that important, that there's all that much space between them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Knife's Edge.

Classic 2740X summertime afternoon yesterday: good storm—complete with warnings—off to our north, sliding south. Big. Lightning. Hail. Wind. We could hear the thunder off to our north-northwest as it was coming in. After it split in half and went by on both sides, we could hear the thunder to the southeast and southwest. No rain here. None.

Hotter today. We're 94 degrees in the shade of the front porch at quarter of two. And cloudier today: Storms are already starting to popcorn up on the radar, and the clouds look promising off over La Vieja Nueva's roofline. But here is Carolina August: promising means nothing. Promising means one more way to hope for something—anything—to cut the heat. Promising means it'll probably rain somewhere nearby. But as for your house, your agricultural concerns? Good luck. Roll dice. Flip coins. Lay ten shiny things out for the Toad to look at and wager on which he'll notice first. Put those results in a bowl of chicken bones and rattles and see what you learn.

We are the day after the Toad's two-month vaccinations here at 709. The Toad is not quite back up to his fighting weight on the heels of that, and on the heels of last night's performance by that selfsame immunized Toad, neither is the forecast. But: while the Toad slept off his polio hangover this morning, the chief meteorologist and severe weather expert did in fact head out back to commence the seaming of the drywall, and what little result there is so far—we are in the test run stage back there of a spackle/joint compound experiment learned off one of the interwebs—isn't utterly disheartening. It's a little heartening, even. Hopes are running medium-rare. There is a 40% chance of hope, mainly after two o'clock this afternoon and through this evening. A good chance tomorrow, as well. So: break out your fiberglass tape, friends and fans of DIY. Find your ten-inch drywall knives. Feather your edges. Always, always feather your edges. Post-shots, the Toad had a hell of a time feathering his edges. But he's edging back toward feathering today. Things are looking promising, even here, even in August, even headed for 100 degrees—or they were until just now, when the mail came, the dog went to DEFCON 18, and the Toad, who had been napping his afternoon through, woke up to see what the hell the dog thought we all ought to do about whatever emergency is befalling us right now, and whatever one might be headed our way next.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cicada Waiting.

School busses and the high school drum corps: add these to your early-morning dogwalk wheel o' sound, please. And let's go on and make it autumn, even if it'll be 143 degrees by midafternoon. Hard to see the despondent puberty-bombed fifteenish-year-old-boy waiting for the bus yesterday with a paperback of The Scarlet Pimpernel in his backpack and not think of the Toad, of what will ravage the Toad, of what his toadly sadnesses will be come this time however many years from now—fifteen, sixteen, twenty, thirty-five—but for now there's still a romance to it, an impossibleness, a far-offness. For now, the Toad fights his morning nap. He fights his swaddle. He does not fight the urge to look at Leigh Anne Whateverhernamewas in second period Spanish. Oh, but it'll come. Here's the fucked-up thing: turns out being a parent means you hope the child has that pain. It is all you can hope for. The alternative is disaster on whichever front.

In additional disaster news, the cooler weather—you know: upper eighties, little breeze—all comes crashing down around us today, even as the not-entirely-unpleasant memory of cutting drywall in the shaded driveway last night hangs on. Here's how NOAA has the next five days: 96, 96, 95, 90, 90. WXII, working with (presumably) the same material, says 96, 98, 97, 92, 89. Maybe there's a thunderstorm in the forecast. Maybe there isn't. What ANYLF can report for sure: the temps don't match the sounds of marching bands.

Cicadas, cicadas: underneath everything are the cicadas. Sometimes it sounds like life, like abundance, like unstoppableness. Other times it sounds like something heavy is arriving. The light has changed. I feel like I should say that. The light has yellowed, has slid back equinoxward from the flash-white of June. I considered ordering a fleece-lined sweatshirt this morning. Sometimes I wear long sleeves in the house just to remember what that feels like. This week I reteach myself something I already know I'm bad at: drywall seams. On the dogwalk the last two days the novel's felt more alive. When the dog and I come back to the house these mornings the Toad's just finished eating. Then the people eat, and the babies and animals watch and snort and rattle. Something is shifting in here. Some rhythm is edging toward making itself known. Or at least we think we're hearing it, maybe, sometimes, underneath everything else.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Brave New.

I was wrong yesterday. Sometimes the forecast gets it wrong. And sometimes the forecast makes assumptions without having gone outside: The light looked bad. The cicadas sounded bad. The wind, when it blew, looked bad, gave me no inkling that once I did go outside it'd be—well, it was pleasant. Aggressively so. For August, it was downright nice, even. The humidity was down. We never saw 90. I hung drywall. I cut it in the back of the truck. In the sun, even. And it was warm in the sun, but it wasn't kill-yourself-and-then- your-friends-and-neighbors warm. And then the grandparents—in town to lay eyes upon the boy king—took us to dinner, and we did sit, at about 9 p.m., outside. In 2740X. In August. With the Toad. Who slept through dinner. All things, friends and fans of weather, are possible. Sort of.

The Toad's new trick: he watches you. One could, if one was of a mind to, make a chicken while the Toad supervised from the comfort of his rocker sling chair. One could crush the garlic and wash the cilantro and cut and squeeze the lime and get all of that on and in the chicken and the chicken on and in the oven while the Toad watched. This is so new: the Toad, awake, not squalling. I've said it here before. I'll probably say it again. Doesn't much matter. Being able to put the awake child down and then do something is the difference between an August day in the mid-eighties and most of all of every of each of the other August days.

And inexplicably and like a gift and from downtown tonight on the end of yesterday's wind arrived Cuban music at top volume, played from some venue down the street. Who knows which. Sometimes we get music from downtown. It just comes. Tonight, it started as half-horrible soul covers. But then, impossibly, there was a second band, a Cuban band—drums and horns, backup singers, the whole thing. What to do but take the Toad out on the back deck and drink a beer and keep the mosquitoes off his head as best I could and sit in an evening that was sliding back toward what we expect this time of year, heat and hot, and listen? So we did. And then the dog got wise, and then there were three of us. The cicadas. I don't remember the cicadas ever being like this. But the band was louder. Cuban music. Cool on the edge of the breeze in August. The Toad, watching it all. Some of it, at least. I've explained to the dog about the weather. Now one of us is going to have to start explaining it to the Toad.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Five-Day.

The best the forecast can do for the next few days is give us 'patchy fog' overnight tonight and Sunday night. Yesterday was warm and still. This morning is hot and breezy. The cicadas are going hard. The grass is growing. Thursday's storms mattered. They did. I promise. If you walk backwards in your minds, boys and girls, you can remember them. The wind. The frequent lightning. The red warnings gliding across the bottoms of your screens. But that forecast—all those nineties coming, those storm chances so few and far between, the fog—we are so rarely forecast fog—all these dashes—let's leave it there for now, shall we?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lovely Afternoon.

That was pretty.


It rained on my grill while I was trying to cook London Broil to eat chilled for dinner tonight, but a little severe thunderstorm goes nicely with beef, and I'll take rain any way it comes. There was wind, too, which I had hoped the Toad would quite appreciate—turns out, however, that he was more into staring and blinking. It's OK. He'll learn soon enough.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Later Summer.

Woke up to a wet street, wet yard. Not hugely so on either count: the street under the truck's still dry, the deck's dry where it meets the house. It might still be raining. It might not. Our gray is a high gray, a stormless gray, an unforecast morning shower gray. A don't-rush-out-right-now-for-the-drywall gray. The radar says all this came out of the north-northwest. Back up toward the hills and mountains it looks like it might be trying to organize into something a little stronger, a little throatier. The Toad is asleep upstairs. AMR is asleep upstairs. The cats, who I despise, and who got me up, are asleep upstairs. I do have a cup of coffee, though, and the house to myself but for the dog, who almost always lines up on the good side of the ledger, and I have the quiet smug satisfaction of a man who pulled three rolls of insulation out of the truck bed as an afterthought last night and put them in the shed. Where they are now. Dry. Undrizzled on. Ready for some kind of attention later on.

This is the week of insulation and drywall. And of my parents bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh up from the deeper south as they chase a star out of GA and across the SC desert to harken upon the newborn Toad. And as if on cue, friends and fans of later-day thunder, the sun has just broken out back there through the kitchen door and is lighting up the Dumpster edge of the catty-cornered apartments. If I didn't know any better, I'd call the back yard beautiful.

We've been hot, but not as hot. We've been knocked back down to livable. It rains a little bit again. Those three weeks of death and pestilence might be behind us. The Braves are below .500 since the All-Star break, but one still hopes, however blindly and foolishly. The Toad has new tricks, like looking at things and making wee noises. It's August. The puppet show looms out there in the near distance. The new half-dead novel looms out there in the shed, somewhere underneath all that insulation. The Toad looms. The Toad always looms. There's a damn lot of looming going on around here. We're mainly clouded over again, and now out that selfsame kitchen door it looks like it'd be cool enough to take a pair of jeans and a cup of coffee outside. Among other things, though, the cicadas say it just plain isn't. That and sticking half my body out to let the dog back in from her morning scratch and sniff. We're not as hot here at the looming close of summer, but if I had to say, and I guess I do, then I'd say we're still hot for sure.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

To Code.

Today is the last day of July, the end of the second month of the Toad, in the year of No Toad Then Toad. Saturday 7/31 finds the 2740X greater metropolitan area in drizzle and clouds, with more earnest rain forecast for the afternoon. It was not quite 70 degrees on the ANYLF ActionWeatherNowPorch this morning. We sat out there and the Toad tried his newest trick: being awake without screaming. We drank coffee. We looked at the rain. We watched the goldfinches eat the seeds from the center of the spent coneflower blooms. We did our best to survive.

The city has come out and looked several times and in several ways at the building, and minus final inspections—those for pretty and for abject functionality—we have passed. The plumbers passed theirs, the electrician passed his, and yours truly, friends and fans of general halfassery and of DIY with newborns, has passed his as well. Framing good. Exterior rough good. These things are maybe not perfect, but they are waterproof and nearly square and they have squeezed within the parameters of the code. Make that The Code. Actually, given the way enforcement seems to work, let's pull those capitals back down and just leave code where it was. There has been some wink-and-nod here at 709. There has been some off-the-record. But we are good. We are legal in letter and spirit both. Other than the ongoing explosion which is and ever shall be the Toad, we have not done anything of any lasting damage or danger to the property. We have built ourselves eighty framed, roofed and sheathed square feet. To code. Or damn near.

This week: insulation, drywall. Get those done and we've done well. August arrives tomorrow. Do we ask about the novel? We do not ask about the novel. Is the plot problem solved? The voice problem? The absent last two chapters problem? We do not ask about the novel. We build. We shelter the Toad. We watch it rain, a cool mid-September gift in the wrong month entirely, and try to enjoy it for what it is and nothing more. I mean, we still ask about the novel. We can't not. But we try to watch the rain.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another Day.

I think the thermometer's broken. I think the A/C's been running for the last 70 consecutive hours. I think the crabgrass has taken over what few tomatoes the squirrels have left us. I think the yard will never see me behind the mower again. I think the shimmer coming up off the front walk might be a physical, touchable thing. I think I want to move my operation to the basement, take my shirt off, lie in the cool of the soil down there. I think I want to strap a box fan to my chest. I think the dog thinks we broke the world. I think the Toad might think this is how it always was, how it always will be. I think the jackshit fussy whine-grunt litany of complaint he's had going since he woke up is him saying he never expected it to be hotter outside than in.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bad Ideas.

Heat like a breakup: you wake up and you know something's not right, but it takes a few moments for you to remember. I stayed in bed a little longer this morning, pillow over my head, A/C bombing away like it had been all night just trying to pull us back to 72 up there, and I thought: say it ain't so. But it's so. It's happening. Pushing 100 today. Pushing 100 tomorrow. I'm headed out in half an hour to hang soffit vents, because it's possible work for an hour, maybe two, if you can get out and back in before noon or one. That's how it went yesterday: gutters up and then tools put away all before lunch. After lunch we're housebound. Heartbroken. Stuck. Just the color of the light through the kitchen windows looks hot.

In other and ill-advised dogwalking news, friends and fans of heat advisories, a spur-of-the-moment round-the-block in the theoretically relative cool of eighty-eight ten-o'clock degrees is the mathematical and unassailable proof of the above.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Still Hot.

Sweet baby Jesus in an ill-fitting onesie it's hot. AMR, on the heat: it's standing outside in Gainesville in 1997 pouring sweat and drinking beer hot. AMR on the heat again: it's sitting on the porch on Mendenhall with RLF and BCF and taking our pants off hot. AMR a third time, recapping that first assessment: it's Florida hot.

The dog is hot. I let her out into the yard around 6:30, and she went back into the shadow of the outbuilding and stood and stared at me. Then she quivered some. She actually quivered. It's dog-quiver hot.

It's 11:01 p.m. and the thermometer on my front porch says 86 degrees.

The upstairs A/C can't keep up. We're lucky if we ride four or five degrees higher than it's set. It finally catches back up around three or four in the morning.

I had to take off my baseball cap. At the baseball game.

And it's still. The stillness hangs out on the edges. Fist you register how hot it is, how continually hot—the electrician who'll pull the permits on the outbuilding next week came by to offer advice on some of the prelim he's letting me do to save money, stood in the sun of my driveway, squinted, pulled a hand through his hair, said, God, it's hot—and then once you get hold of that, get the edges of that drawn in, then you register what else it is, which is still.

About that baseball game: we rode the Toad out to Burlington to see his first game. He loved it: loved the noise, the lights, the cicadas in the rafters, the music, the woman singing Green Acres, even the cheering post-solo home run, which caused him first to cry but then to continue loving it. He was hot, but who can blame him? We all were. It was hot. It is hot. This is ten years ago hot. TLK, a couple of days ago, when it was still hot, or first hot, or just hot, said it was as bad as it's been since we first moved here. And you'll love this, friends and fans of heat: it's meant to get worse before it gets better. The ten-day doesn't give us a break until Tuesday. Hot as it is, it's hard to believe even that.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Morning Inventory.

Pretty little hot and humid Wednesday morning finds our hero up early(ish) and finished drawing the coffee down into the pot and finished letting the dog out and back in and finished feeding the cats and—I know I keep saying this, friends and fans of weather of all kinds, but this is what it comes to—waiting for the Toad to finish crapping his pants. It's not like it's some manner of emergency if you guess wrong and into the middle of that process, but a clean diaper is a clean diaper, and a dirtied one is dirty, and there is not much in between. It's like rolling up the truck windows before a thunderstorm: best, on balance, to guess correctly.

Ten or fifteen wrens are congregated on the east end of the outbuilding back there—I'm hoping it's just a neighborhood association dustup, and not that they're eating some massive conflagration of termites or carpenter ants or any other six-legged sometime-winged creatures taking flight. Short version: I'm wanting the birds back there just to be stopping through. I do not want them participating in much that would have a word like ecosystem attached to it.

Holding patterns: for the electrician, for this afternoon's court date to settle my braking mishap out on 70 back in May, for something that looks like plot to arrive like a small flock of birds and set down on the half-novel back there. For the Toad to do whatever the books say is supposed to come next. For a longer night of sleep. For a clear hour to ride to the big box and come home with the next long list of what the building wants and needs. What has already arrived: a cup of good coffee, the Dumpster truck to remove the leavings of the folks living in the apartments catty-cornered back behind us there, another day with a reasonable threat of rain. Cicadas. Sunshine. The last ten days of a blurry month.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Severe Weather.

Pouring. Pouring. That dry pattern—and I'll jinx us this way, will bring August on before August is due—is for now and for sure over. It's been raining 20 minutes and I guarantee we've seen half an inch, maybe more. Wind. Thunder. More wind. The dog is in my lap, deeply unhappy. The Toad is in his swing, deeply sleeping. The eighty-dollar clearance-sale fancyass sink, which turns out to be all one pretty granite-countertopped piece, is in the back of the truck, wrapped up and tarped over. The box says it weighs 132 pounds. It definitely does. The box says nothing about the water-resistancy of said sink. I had only one tarp available. I had to choose between the dying lawn mower and the new sink. I chose the sink. Tune in next time, friends and fans of high adventure, for the exciting conclusion of SinkStorm 2010.

Nobody ever said this couldn't be a picture book...



The dog'll think I'm crazy, and the Toad'll think—does the Toad think yet? does he wonder about the weather? about Toadlier concerns?—about whatever it is he pushrattles through that giant skull of his, but I'm headed out in this small lull to check on my new sink, my new downspouts, my old drainage problems. Then back in to attend to those interests most in need of whatever they might need: A scratch behind the ears. A swaddle. A cold can of PBR. Let's make this a matching quiz. Y'all draw in the lines. No cheating. Eyes on your own paper. And on the sky, of course.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Victory Lap.

It comes to this: you're holding the Toad, or AMR is—the lines of who's doing what at any given time blur, except for feedings, which you know aren't yours, except the one bottle yesterday, which was yours, but mainly that belongs to AMR, or generally it does, so far—and the trash is on the curb, and the recycling is on the curb, and the diapers from upstairs are in the trash on the curb, and the plumbers have been here for an hour, and you've apologized five times for not having all the studs in the wall they need to run the water pipe through, and you've (at breakneck speed) cut and fit those truant studs and screwed them in, and now everything is well-oiled again, is moving along apace, is on the edge of fine, and you're inside, and the Toad is inside, and AMR is inside, and the dog is inside, is finished barking at the plumbers, and at the neighbors, and at the neighbor's plumbers. This is how things are. This is how they were, and then the plumbers showed up, and then there were the studs, and now things are fine again. The trash trucks are in the neighborhood, grinding up and down the blocks. The squeal of brakes, etcetera. The robot arms. The fiercely beautiful symbiotic operation of taxable citizenry and resultant government service.

Your current conditions: humidity trying to outrace itself to 100%, temps hitched to the same rising scale, threat of rain later in the day, wind out of the south and west at let's just say 10-15 mph. Partly cloudy. Hot as the metaphor or simile of your choosing.

And you remember the trash in the pantry, the garbage, the full bag, and you go to the street to check to see if the trucks have come by your house, your bins, and lo, they have not, and you can hear one truck riding it sounds like maybe a little closer to you, maybe up your hill, and you jog back inside, and you trash up the trash, tie its handy ties, jog back outside with your bag of more diapers and dead cheese and expired sour cream and nonrecyclable packaging, and the truck is coming up the street, and inside AMR holds the Toad, and the Toad fusses, but not too much, just your standard fuss, or maybe even a notch below, just an announcement, really, an announcement that later on there will be more fuss, real fuss, vastly fussier than this fuss, and where were you? You were out the front door, trash in hand, trash bin on the street, trash truck coming, blinkers flashing orange, the brakes hollering, the driver making eye contact with you, slowing down, and look: that's you lifting the lid, putting the trash in the trash, and that's you taking a step back, that's the robot arm coming out, that's the trash plus the added trash going up and into the truck, the bin coming back down, the half-wave from the driver, the truck moving on.

Back in the house is where the problem hits you: you are elated. Like base-clearing go-ahead RBI double in Little League elated. You are the picture of suburban triumph. There is your son, your wife, your kitchen, your cooling cup of coffee, your dog, there in the back yard are the plumbers, and you have by god beaten the system—no, wait, it's actually much worse: you are exactly where the system wants you. You have jogged your trash to the curb in the very nick of time and you are elated and you are even making hash of the second person, for god's sake, which is no mode of storytelling for something like this, because it's hackneyed, it's worn, it is a turtle in the highway. To say nothing of the compound adjective that went unhyphenated back there. Or the fragmentary nature of.

So this is what it comes to: your most significant accomplishment in days is getting your trash from inside bin to outside bin to rolling internally-combusted motorized bin with seconds to spare. You'd like to see a replay in slo-mo. You'd like to watch your moment of unassailable victory again and again. You play a little air guitar there in the kitchen. AMR laughs at and with you. You laugh, but you don't quite mean it. Not all the way. Do not cheapen the cheap win. You take the Toad back—you hold him a while, and he sleeps, actually, and maybe makes one of the small, heartbreaking, astonishingly charming Toad noises—here is this creature, who you only like a little bit, and only sometimes, that fucker, who has lit your life on fire.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Boys Of.

I know it rained this week. I know. And I know it in fact rained what we in the business often refer to, scientifically, as a shit-ton. I know the grass I planted (two days before the Toad was born) in the plumbing trench has greened back up, I know the front yard flowers are in pretty steady and avowed bloom, I know the flood could have taken our trash can but rather only deposited, serendipitously, said can at the neighbor's phone pole. I know even that the shed is dry, and the shed annex is dry, and all local interests that want to be dry are in fact dry, and that complaint is not what ought rise up here in this space or any other.

But every day feels like the same day. It is July.

There are ways of combatting this. Clean the kitchen. Fold the clothes. Begin work on finishing the shed electric and beginning the shed annex electric. Hold one of the dog's ears. Hold the Toad, when he can be held, or when you can stand to hold him, or both, or overcome one or both of those. Sit at the desk. Sit at the desk. Sit at the desk. And yet: some July days one cannot pull oneself toward any of that. Instead, you try to string the minutes together from coffee to evening, and then you hold for bed. Maybe there are a few minutes of baseball on the AM radio out of High Point, which feel like something that could save you. Maybe there are friends riding in on various trusty steeds, bearing dinner, even, to tell you that, yeah, it's July, but someday it might not be. But then it'll be August, you say. Well, yeah, they say. But you've known this. And if it wasn't going to be August next, then something much larger than you think would be broken.

But every day feels like the same day. It is July. And then it will be August. Hard to bear up sometimes under the sheer fact of, say, the calendar. That thing moves every day in the same direction.

Nearing midnight here in the Gate City, friends and fans of weather, finds us dropping through the muggy eighties on our way to an overnight low in the mid-seventies. It'll probably storm some the next few days. The mosquitoes here are as thick as I can remember, and we went three weeks without rain. We're gonna need some damn large bats before this is all played out. Oh: and on the strength of two early solo homers, the Braves come out of the break with another win, and continue to lead the division. I heard one of those shots on the radio. Maybe that's what's there for tomorrow evening: Hot front porch, failing evening, fussy Toad, box fan, cold beer, AM radio, the Braves in contention for the first time in a long time. I've got this little low-slung canvas chair I like a lot. Sits right down in the path of the fan, keeps the bugs off me, off the Toad. Who knows. Who knows. We get to August with that damn team out in front, there just might be reason to hope.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Heavy Rain.

The airport says they got 3.2 inches last night. We have no rain gauge here at the world headquarters of increasingly occasional weather-watching and increasingly frequent Toad-watching, so we cannot offer corollary proof. The dog got up on the sofa between storms, though, and so did the one cat, and the Toad was on the other sofa with AMR, and it opened up to the tune, the airport says, of 1.75 inches in one hour alone at one point—if that new bathroom out back ain't proven yet, friends and fans of per-hour rainfall rate, of flash flooding, of overworked basement sump pumps, of newly caulked seams and edges, then I don't know what could prove it now. We have raised from the swamp a 9'x9' room, and it has kept the swamp at bay. Let's score this one if not for the good guys, then at least for level and plumb and true, for asphalted shingles, for house wrap, for windows and doors stuck on and in as per the manufacturer's suggested methods. We are dry in the low spot in the yard. This must be how the Egyptians felt once they got those first few courses laid in the first pyramid. Let's us go find something to send on up to the observing gods.

Three o'clock p.m. in the Gate City brings cooler weather relatively, but it's hot and humid all the same. It is high July. We're greening back up from the three-week disaster, however, and we're in spotty bloom here and there and full bloom all other places. There are volunteer tomatoes coming through the crabgrass in the back garden. The Toad is not smiling at us yet, but he is smiling, as if, occasionally, he looks off at a wall or a ceiling light and remembers that one hilarious time when— maybe when it did not rain for three weeks and at least one of us over here at DroughtWatch2010 was ready to stab himself to death with a shiv made from a wooden spoon, except then, at the very last possible moment, the pattern shifted yet again, and we got a little rain for a few days, and all seemed, if not possible or even probable, then at least not utterly lost.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Less Blind.


I don't want to say anything. I don't want to say it hasn't rained in twenty-however-many days, don't want to say I got the door hung on the shed and got the windows flashed, don't want to mention the new roof, the new caulk on the new flashing on the new roof. I don't want to say how gray it's looked all day, how heavy the air is, how something—something—is different in the atmosphere out there. I don't want to say how we heard those storms slide past north to south last night, how we hurt when they went by. I don't want to say anything except that I have a couple of beers cool in the fridge, an idea about taking the Toad out to the front porch, and this: on that pretty little map up there, we live smack between all that green and the big red L.

My god I hope we're waterproof out back. My god I hope we need to be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blind Hope.

There are storms on the radar. There is a new roof on the shed. We shall see.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So Hot.

The airport is reporting 99 degrees. The Weather Channel is reporting 99. The thermometer here at ANYLF heat wave headquarters, in the shade of the front porch, says 98. It hasn't rained in something like twenty days. I was going to hang trim on the building's gable end at seven or eight p.m., but it's still supposed to be in the mid-nineties by then, so never mind. The only thing possible here is to mix some lemon and gin and fizzy water and try not to move or talk or type too much. There's a book, delivered via UPS, sitting on my front porch. I want to read it. I just don't know if I can bring myself to go out there and get it.

My brother, who lives in Farmville, VA, called this afternoon to report triple digits, and to ask if I remembered last week, when it had been in the fifties in the mornings. I said I did. He wanted to know if it was some kind of cruel joke. Cruel, I said, seemed a little too calm an assessment.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Gift Horse.

Second night with the fans on, the windows open. It's July.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cool Snap.

My god, the weather. It no longer rains, but still.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Front Through.

Near midnight, June 30. North Carolina. We've been dry two weeks. Hot as all hell. But I have just now let the dog out, just now let her back in, and just now cranked the windows open here at 27401, where it is almost surely in the lower 70s, if not the upper 60s. Something lovely has busted wide open. The Toad sleeps. Not for long, but the Toad sleeps. The dog eats. The crickets—it's too cool for the cicadas, apparently—the crickets go.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fever Dream.

Woke up from this dream: I'm on a bus/boat, touring some part of the world with a large group of folks, including an ex-girlfriend, who's asking me how my life is, and I'm saying it's fine, that I live with my colleagues out at the puppet show in a tower that overlooks a waterfall/spillway, that I've got a new baby and a book out, and I ask her how she is, and she looks around the bus/boat, where people are eating little European sandwiches that we've all just bought in some giant mall, and she shakes her head, rolls her eyes, says it's all so big, says she can't tell me now, not like this, says she'd have written it all down but she didn't want to waste the pencil/it would have taken too much pencil to do the job. And in the dream, I thought, oh, for fuck's sake. Then I woke up to the crying Toad.

A heat wave will I think damage even your dream life. Those sandwiches sure looked good, though. I got out of bed wanting one.

The plumbers were here pre-eight to drop the shower in, and when I went out to talk to them it was so nice—well, it was so much nicer that it was last night at midnight—that I saddled the Toad and the dog and headed for the park, which was a fine idea in the shade, but an increasingly terrible idea in the sun. There was a point early in the walk when all seemed well. Later in the walk, though, it started feeling like it was all going to take too much pencil.

Hot. It is hot. Oppressively so. Atlanta-circa-early-eighties hot. Open-the-door-and-get-pushed-back-inside-the-house hot. Nashville hot. If we try, we might hit 100. If we don't, we'll just wallow in the mid-to-upper nineties. Maybe a storm. Maybe one tomorrow. Later in the week looks better for sleeping, for framing writing sheds, for saddling dog and boy, for porch, for anything. Right now I just want to get inside this shower and run the water cold.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Song.

Here is one stolen minute, or one wee bunch of stolen minutes, all at once: a cheap ice cold beer from the fridge, the Toad asleep in the swing, AMR asleep on the sofa, madre de AMR asleep at her hotel, at least two different kinds of cicadas cranked outside, dog asleep on the other sofa, cats padding the rooms, air conditioners grinding away at this house and at all other houses, big heat like a low headache that's been hanging on for days. I am tired, frustrated, in want of my other life, the one from before, but: from the downtown market there is chicken, there are shallots, baby red onions, new potatoes dug this week, and German Johnsons, and from madre de AMR there are mountain cukes. The light is yellowing into evening. I cut the lawn last night at eight. It rained at ten, and though it was nowhere near enough, I appreciated the gesture. There's no way tonight goes like it's supposed to, or any night for the foreseeable future, but maybe the answer is: cook things that can stand, that don't have to hit the plate at any one time. Find ways to wait, to shift, to pivot.

The plumber called today. The shower, which he wants to install before all the walls go up out back (so he can actually get it inside the walls), goes in on Monday. Which means after that, all the walls go up out back. Big week. Big summer. Big everything, all the time, always. Except this one little beer in these few minutes. And listen—you hear that? Toad stirs. Time for what's next.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Solstice, Anew.

EJO arrives at his first solstice eighteen days old, the toad man, maker of toad noises. He is the Toad. There is no middle ground with the Toad: you love him, or you want to put him down the insinkerator. Or maybe there is a middle ground: you want both.

It is summer. I want to say it's high summer, say that we had dinner on the porch with friends, but only half of that is true. High summer is July, is early August. Our friends were here, and Venus hung low enough in the sky to explain it to their kids, but it is the first day of a long summer, in the middle of a stretch of hot and dry and still, though we did find a gift breeze while we ate and the kids ran the lawn. Our kid slept, threw one arm out to the side, sweated. These sentences run on too long, have too many clauses, too many commas. This is how it goes in the age of the Toad. This is how it went before, too, friends and fans of saying things like friends and fans.

We may see weather overnight. There are eight brand-new hand-built roof trusses tarped in the driveway. The dog has her summer shave. The Toad sleeps and eats. Sometimes we feel terribly alone. Other times, the calendar shows us we've not once been alone the whole time. Somebody build us a temple in the back yard, please, that will shine tonight's setting sun right down the middle of the square. It is the solstice. Find some way to mark it. If not with a stone city, then with some other way. Any other way, even if it is chicken pie and margaritas and amped-up kids and one more night where the Toad lives and we live and the bats come out from wherever they live and the whole damn thing wheels along like it always, always has.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Late Update.

Little bit of weather trying to come in. Looks like a nasty, thin line. Local interests, maybe have a look at your local interests. Tie up your tomatoes, pull the lawn chairs back up against the house, that kind of thing. It probably won't hold together through the Piedmont, but if you have a stack of lumber that could use a tarp put on it, you might just as well go on ahead and and do that.

Because EJO leaves precious little time, I'll just take aim the way my grandfather would: Hot today. Upper eighties, lower nineties. It's still, as our neighbor said on the dogwalk. It's so still. Tonight's dinner: local chicken, local squash, local okra. Non-local wine. All the lumber cut for the trusses. The boy's still alive. We have enough milk and coffee for tomorrow. Save for that little threatening line of storms, nothing on the radar. Bed down safely out there, friends and fans of weather.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Daily Storms.

Rain yesterday evening. Rain this afternoon. Rain again tonight, probably. It's like living at the beach. And today's rain? The hardest we've seen since we rebuilt and redrained the writing shed. An inch or two, surely, in less than half an hour. We flooded in all the usual spots, except for the most usual spot, and a dry and well-French-drained cedar-sided writing shed makes for a happy daddy, even if the boy did vomit twice in ten minutes on two separate shirts of his and two separate shirts of mine, followed by World-Cup-caliber diaper shitting, also in rapid succession. New plan: feed EJO and then just stand naked in the rain until all bodily functions come to a (however temporary) close, and then try dressing him and walking him around. Good thing it rains every day now. What we'll do when we go back to hot and dry I don't know.

How I do so very much love this every-afternoon thunderstorm pattern we've been riding.

Plugged in the computer out back today. Wiped down the desk. Got it cornered in by the bank of windows. No sentences yet, but a good post-EJO start, given that one of those aforementioned reintroductions of milk from the boy back into the world occurred during the plugging in. Little fucker. Everybody's a critic.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Second Verse.

Hey: it goes like this: wake up, feed the baby, feed the baby, swaddle the baby, swaddle the baby, and then somehow it's four or five o'clock and time to look off to the north and west, where down out of the Wilkesboros three days running now comes the same bow of storms, something fancy with a good shield of rain behind it, the last two days arriving late afternoon and early evening. Three nights ago we caught it at one in the morning and it lit the tank farm on fire—friends and fans of weather, do not watch the local 2740X news, lest ye hear the phrase tank farm uttered again and again—but that wee-hours storm was just the opening ceremonies. Fancier for all the folks watching. These last two days we've been plainer, calmer, have looked like summer in the best sense: hang on through miserable heat and torment, and a little evening storm may arrive on one of your porches or the other. Tonight's was the best of the bunch, heavy and serious just enough off to our east and south to give us a kind of atmospheric air conditioning, followed by low thunder and soft rain for the better part of two hours. Perfect for the perennials I got in the ground out front of the writing shed pre-rain. This is what rings of exceptional accomplishment around here post-EJO: in addition to not killing the child, we got flowers in the ground. How the finish line shifts.

Flowers in the ground, and the floor not swept but cleared out there: I have this busted idea about finding forty minutes sometime tomorrow morning to look at one or two of all those paragraphs, to look at the first four pages of that new novel all about a dude not much wanting a kid. It takes place in Florida. My own story, about a dude not much wanting a kid and then kind of wanting a kid anyway, takes place in 2740X. That's the space between fiction and non. Oh, genre. Oh, holy hell.

It rains here. It's hot as overmicrowaved soup, but then it rains. Despair and then relief. Three days in a row.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Same Song.

Storms trying to rumble in from the northeast again this afternoon -- on the same line as the storms last night that tried to light the world on fire, and almost succeeded. Lightning hit the refinery tanks out 40 and started a good-sized fire that closed the highway in both directions. Or so says the news, anyway. We were not there to see it. We were holed up here with all animals and the boy and waiting for lightning to hit our own reserves. It was a loud, beautiful storm, scary in exactly the right ways and amounts. We had candles at the ready. We were hunkered down. And: if this gets any throatier here in the next few minutes, I'll have to go haul AMR from the shower, go find the candles again, get ready again. This is summer on the Piedmont. I've tried to explain what I can of it to Edward. He reacts to this news much the same way he reacts to all other news. There are only two real reactions—sleeping and gastrointestinal. New this week to an infant near you, though, is a nascent third reaction: thoughtful looking around the room. I suspect that what he's thinking about is which of the other two reactions might be most appropriate for a given piece of news, but still: never a dull moment around here. Always some little something lighting up the radar. Or the interstate.

At eleven o'clock this morning there was no substantial difference between the temperature in the shade of the porch and the temperature in the sun-broiled heat of the front walk. We are, friends and fans of weather, a bit humid around here. We are hot as a sleeping newborn. We are in a weather pattern that holds.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Storms Nearby.

We are on half-lockdown around here: the boy is fussy, is off schedule, is a week old and seems to be trying on a new routine for the evening. In other news: though it tried and tried to rain here in the Gate City this afternoon, the best we could muster was thunder and the beauty of watching it set up just south and east, a gunmetal gray sky off through the backyard and towards Sedalia. We have a wee something trying to hold itself together as it rolls down out of the Wilkesboros late night, and I'm crossing my fingers, but don't think I trust it enough to feel like I won't be watering-canning the grass seedlings again tomorrow. We'll see. This is where we always land. Seeing.

Held Edward James Olmos in my left arm and figured materials needs with my right all afternoon—I'm feeling like continuing work on the bathroom next week, like framing and trussing and generally moving forward with our lives. Not in spite of EJO, mind you, but, instead, with him. Which is I think the only way to survive it all, the only way to look at him or at me or at anyone and say anything at all out loud and mean it. We must build a life. We must keep building a life.

I may—may—have just heard the far-off rumble of thunder. I always want rain. Feels like tonight I want it even more.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Boy's Life.

I haven't even set foot outside this morning, but from here at the table with the boy half-sleeping next to me, it looks hot. I have to papoose the child here shortly, have to ferry watering cans back and forth from the front yard's blown-out hose to the back yard's nascent grass seedlings. One does not want to let new grass ride unwatered through the upper eighties here on the Piedmont. Not in mid-June. Not in the direct sun.

I don't really know what day it is, don't know what the forecast is outside of summer-hot, don't know when the last time was it rained except to say that it's been since we brought EJO home to the world, that fussy motherfucker. Or not fussy. Just in want, right now, of being picked up, of being held close, and as tired as I am, I can't quite begrudge him that. I could use me some of that, too. And some more coffee.

Put your fingers in your mouths, friends and fans of weather. That seems to help. Some.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Boy, Walking.


Not exactly. But: my parents, on a swing through town originally meant to barn-raise the writing shed's bathroom, stopped by for breakfast to drink coffee and admire the golden child and -- oh yes, friends and fans of wheeled conveyance -- put the stroller together. And then this evening I did saddle Edward James Olmos and the dog up and we did in fact make it several blocks out and back in a sticky warmish evening, low gray clouds sliding overhead, but not nearly enough to suggest anything sky-wise might happen now or later. This isn't quite weather. It's summer. And strip down to your skivvies, babies and parents alike—the coming week might not be any kind of time for much else other than bare feet and Pampers and cold beer, if you're of age. Even if you're not, you may get a cold beer anyway, particularly if you keep melting down at ten p.m. every damn day. We may end up in the nineties by the time this little late-week wave finishes up. We've had cool breezes in the mornings these past few days. Cool breeze even for the six p.m. dog-and-boy neighborhooding tonight. One wonders, though, how much more of that we've got in the bank for the short term.

Hope for thunderstorms. Hope for gentle mornings. Hope for sleep, for a stolen hour here and there, for cooler temps than have been forecast, for the idea of sitting at the desk some time in the not-too-far-off future.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baby Boy.

Got home from the hospital yesterday afternoon in a hot, humid wind. The little line of storms pulled together by that wind came through around seven—heavy rain, no thunder—and we did in fact take EJO out into it to baptize him properly. One thing checked off the list. Thousands of things yet to go.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Baby Boy.

Just went outside for the first time since 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. In the intervening period between then and now, thunderstorms. Some kind of front's come through. Here in the Gate City this fine morning it is warm, but not hot, a little westerly breeze, insistently sunny, a little humid, but not as humid as it could be. Edward James Olmos, it turns out, is a boy, seven pounds five ounces, and nineteen-some-odd inches in length. He may have red hair. I may love that fucker already. And dear sweet baby Jesus in a hospital-issue cotton blanket, friends and fans of weather, how I love his mom.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Keeping Watch.

Folks, there is flash flooding as a result of storms putting down two inches an hour just east of us, but here, here at ANYLFWatch CentralHQ, there is so far merely a light rain: perfect for the grass seed I put down on the trench in my plumbing-trenched back yard this afternoon. Thanks, weather.

For her part, Edward James Olmos seems so far to approve. She's making like she might want out, but for now she hangs in. We all hang in. Hell, we put down grass seed.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer Storm.

Pretty little midday Memorial Day storm. It chased TLK and yours truly off his ladders and under his tin roof, which was on balance not a bad way to spend the lunch hour. No real progress on his pretty little pergola, but the skies are even now clearing off here in the Gate City, so perhaps there's a bit of late-afternoon post-setting still left in my day. We shall see. For now, from here, AMR and I watch watch the robins on our front porch feed their two babies, rain or shine. Plenty of that off on my horizon.

Forecast looks, as near as I can tell, about like this for the rest of the week. Here's hoping there's enough clear sky for the end-of-week barnraising that's scheduled back here at 709. Gotta get the slab...


...to look like the rest of the shed.


So. That's this week. Today: watch the sky, watch the robins, watch the ballgame, start in on a materials list. I did get the lawn mowed before all the rain. That wee success helps. What it helps, I don't really know, but it's seeming to help all the same.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cedar Siding.


Siding's going up on the writing shed. Hole in the ground for the addition, plumbing in the hole. Weather enthusiasts: if you want to tune yourself back in to what is and what is not coming for you via the sky, dig a giant trench and foundation footing... in thunderstorm season. Come on, city inspectors. Come on, concrete dudes. Tomorrow's forecast looks like we want you to be here today.

Today: Hot and busy.

Tomorrow: Less hot and probably stormy.

Weekend: We shall see.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oak Tree.

Early Wednesday morning. I've been up an hour already. Several large trucks rumbling and straining back near the old folks' apartments, making work of what's left of the huge oak that came down through the ceiling in 2B last week. I have no idea how the numbers work over there, but via at least one system that apartment would have been 2B. Picture it: you've lived in that apartment 40 years. You're watching 60 Minutes. Then a tree comes through your ceiling.

Didn't look as though anyone would have been hurt, which is impressive enough: the tree was at least 60 feet tall. I've been a little sad about the whole thing. The top third of that tree was part of the skyline view from the back deck here.

We were beautifully cool at seven, but we're warming already. A long day of siding the shed yawns out in front of us here, all part of the palooza that is checking things off the list before Edward James Olmos starts up on the main stage. The drywall's done. There's a deep hole in the earth where apparently next week there'll be a bathroom. Today: cedar siding, hung by hand. Never done it before. Never done a lot of things before. The chainsaw dudes and the stump-grinding dudes and the big truck dudes beeping their way in reverse around what's left of the oak back there sound like they know what they're doing, though, so at least there is some measure of expertise somewhere in the neighborhood.

Our weather came in from the east the last couple of days. It felt and looked like the beach. Today it seems like we might have managed to slow the record down some, get it spinning back the right way. Today the weather looks like our weather, for better or worse.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Little Thunderstorm.

Rumbly. Throaty. Nothing serious. Out of nowhere. Lovely. Summer. One in the morning. Like a gift.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday Night.

Gray and cool -- long-sleeved -- the TLK winter in earnest, if early. We tend to have this in early June. We're having it now. Maybe this is dogwood winter. Maybe it's my grandfather's cotton-pants winter, so named because by now the wool pants are put away. Drywallers in the writing shed. The thing's coming together. I'm beat. I'm tired. The kid's coming. The shed looks good. There damn well better be another novel in that thing. Technically, there better be a first in it. The other shed gave me this one. We'll see what the new building's got in it. For now, drywall dust on the half-draft of whatever that is out there.

Mid-May, friends and fans of calendar dating. Solstice coming. Long evenings. Sun up early, early.

Watching a PBS thing on Iraq vets and re-uppers getting tattoos to make it make more sense. Doesn't really help it make any more sense.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Moving Vehicle.

Boys and girls, that was more than enough rain to make a body want for a new rain gauge, and it didn't rain nearly as much here as there—there being just ten or twelve miles east, where the campus flooded in spots and the septics and sewers backed up and power went out on all the puppet show puppeteers trying to finish off portfolios and papers and bunsen-burner-type experiments. Also: word to the wise: do not, on the way home in all that rain, jam on the brakes of your truck and swerve to avoid a near accident unfolding directly in front of you, lest ye spin the fucker out and participate in an accident of your very own by contacting, ever so gently, an oncoming Jeep Cherokee. First words out of my mouth: "Oh, truck!" But not in the way you think. Do not make it sound like you're cursing. Instead, make it sound sad, like you've dropped your mom's Faberge egg she told you not to touch. Oh. Truck. Like that.

Officer Goodspeed, or Goodbody, to despondent me, in the rain: "That's why they started making anti-lock brakes."

The StormChaser is not dead, and it is not even mortally wounded. It is, however, in want of I think a little alignment work, and probably a new left front fender. A new headlight. Some trim. I drove it home. But still: Goddamnit, shit and hell. Our other participant was not hurt, though she did lock herself briefly out of her car, her two unhurt Chihuahuas inside, until Officer Strongbody opened for her the unlocked right rear door.

In other news, the world is silent but for Boston, which treated this spring's little ongoing experiment in hardcover storytelling quite favorably. The drywall dude comes tomorrow to drywall the writing shed. I have applied for a building permit for the bathroom. Everything on the up-and-up. The straight and narrow. Somewhere around here are the bees' knees, one or both of those birds in the bush, a gift horse, a stitch, some time, and the three inches I needed between me and the mirror and then door handle of that eastbound Jeep.

My back hurts. I'm pretty sure, though, it's from the Cirque-du-Soleil moves I just pulled out back hanging the electric box for the ceiling fan. Gotta get that in pre-drywall. And now, for my next trick. Take my wife, please. I just flew in from 27244, and boy are my arms tired. Oh, truck.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Summer Looming.

Sweet baby Jesus in a microwaved bowl of water it's hot. I mean, it's not August-hot, but still: this is no kind of weather to be out wandering around in. Maybe we'll get lucky and draw another cool night like last night, though the humidity ended up being something like 435%, and so cool or no, we had to run the A/C to sleep. I love only one thing more than running the A/C full blast to sleep: not having to run the thing at all. The airport, friends and fans of nascent summer, was reporting mist at midnight. That was not mist. That's just what happens when days like yesterday and today cool off so far, so fast. That was a cloud that settled down on the the 2740Xs. That was the fog pouring out of the fridge. The steam from the dishwasher. We dry-iced ourselves. Still, it was nice.

Item: Outdoor wedding tomorrow night. In South Carolina. Coastal South Carolina. Not even seersucker might be up to that challenge.

Item: Storms off in the mountains. Who knows. Maybe we'll see something later.

But: Riding pickupped over the rise on Aycock last evening just before sunset, big windows down and the corner windows kicked open and blowing hot air through the cab, I looked out over the tops of the trees that run through Guilford Hills and around the high school and there was that deep summer haze—almost like mist, if you want—and even though I am not much for deepest summer, and maybe not even for haze, I did feel something like a happy calm—there was a familiar flag raised up, a song I sort of knew the words to. I don't know what to tell you, Weatherheads. I never do. It may just come to this: If mosquitoes and air conditioning and even the arrival of the bomb that is our daughter Edward James Olmos is the cost of whatever that little moment of peace was, then, you know, OK. Alright? OK.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

City Zoning.

Oh, another week slides by, and yes, there was weather, and no, we could not quite find somebody to go out and cover it. No live remotes from the soon-to-be-bathroomed shed. No discussion of what seemed until this afternoon to be an onsetting TLK winter, one month early. Other things not getting press: the smell of honeysuckle on the ride home. The smell of peonies in the front yard. The fledged house finches. The threat of rain with such little follow-through that I may have to find a sprinkler. We've lived in the house a year and a half, and I've not yet used a sprinkler. It got hot. Then it cooled. Both of those things were mainly dry. Now it's getting warm again. This is how it's always gone; this is how it goes.

Edward James Olmos arrives in a month. Five weeks, if we're lucky. I'm taking concrete bids for the shed bathroom slab. I'm taking plumbing bids for the shed bathroom plumbing. I'm doing overly-complicated blueprinting for the shed bathroom specs. I have been to the city. They have told me I can't do it the way I want to. So I'll do it their way. Fine. Good prep for an infant. For an eight-year-old. For a college-aged kid. It's all one long zoning variance, if you squint at it right. Right?

I'm going to say we're edging up against seventy-five or eighty humid degrees out here at the puppet show, where one more semester winds down in lawn-chair conferences beneath the Chinese fir. And because we're hopelessly outmanned, instead of taking an actual 27401 reading to round out the Triad's least-reliable in media res forecast of late, we'll call it the same temp and relative humidity back home in GSO, too. Knock a degree or two off for Winston. They're closer to the mountains. Add one or two for anybody down east. They're down east. Little line of showers trying to stitch itself together off in the mountains. Maybe that'll get here. Probably it won't, but it's on the radar, and it seemed like somebody ought to make mention. Much stronger stuff than that off to our north and west, but holding north and sliding by, it appears. Shut those windows, Virginians. As for us down here: keep 'em open, but keep an eye out.