Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Shift.

These last two days, my god, the dry air, the wind, the leaves coming down hard all through the neighborhood—we're in Thanksgiving Fall now, that post-bright tail end of the season, when even soaking rains don't really do much to shift the notion that it's dry, when warm days like this one don't slow the idea that it'd be best to get the bulbs in the ground, bank the mulch around the newer plants, generally and as always make ready. We've got the windows open in the house, and down here in the swampish corner of the yard I've got the double doors thrown wide on the shed, the foolish expense of them once more worth it. I make it to this little weather blog less and less these days, but perhaps that's OK: yesterday, in the time I would have written about the temperature and the whatever this is piling up and about to come through, I instead raked leaves with the Toad, laid in the yard, tried in vain to make the wonderful emptiness of a late Sunday morning last. No use. Here it is Monday. The week cranks itself again. Still. Do things seem OK? Is there the sense we may make it? The deep freeze in the basement is slowly stocking itself for the winter, full of chili and soup and chicken quarters. I've got two flats of pansies in the truck bed wanting some attention. Maybe I'll start writing again. Maybe. First: tack the notes from the last draft up to the unpainted wall. Then see what happens. Then see where we are.

So many windows in this little building that with them all open like this the thing feels like a screen porch.

Fifteen-year-old-dog and a seventeen-month-old boy. I'm feeling overfull these last 48 hours or so. Sentimental. Too many adjectives. Too much blunt good weather to get out of the way. Can't help it. Don't know when I'll be back here. The weather won't hold like this forever. They want a freeze by end-of-week. Hell, I'll take that, too. I've got a new woodshed, this year's half-cord stacked neatly into it. I've got coffee.

November. To those of you for whom this is the first you've been able to truly recognize: this is sometimes what it looks like.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not Enough.

Forgive me, but even happily booted and flanneled and even with the Toad in a hoodie and me in a hat, I still felt like the walk to school smelled like spring. Something green's on the air. Possibilities: We're in for one last (or next-to-last) round of something blooming, the overseeded lawns are coming in, the leaves just now piling in the gutters are in the sweeter stage of rot—or maybe this is fall, and I just don't remember. How much more human I've been feeling this time through, with the Toad at sixteen months, than I did last year, even though this time last year was the time I thought I was settling in, finally, the time I thought I might in some small way like the child.

I did not yet like the child. Now I like him plenty. Plenty.

And he's found the moon, says 'luna' every time he sees the sky, day or night, luna or no. Looks for stars up there, looks for them everywhere else, too, finds them hanging from front porches, sees them on t-shirt logos, in the way reflected light slides across the kitchen ceiling. Giggle giggle, he says. Twinkle twinkle.

It's cool in the shade still, but warming in the sun. The maples are about fully turned, and the pin oaks are throwing their fingers of leaves down everywhere here to the park. I'd say we're still more green than anything else, but we're moving hard toward peak season here on the flats. The colors are muted this year. That either means a lot of rain or not enough. The gauge has been cracked since late last winter, so we're going to have to content ourselves with not knowing for sure, though an easy guess says not enough. The easy guess is always not enough, isn't it?

Off-season discount strawberries over there on the kitchen counter. Pot of coffee half-full. Midmorning breakfast. Stack of bills and paperwork. The Toad at school in his train overalls. An ache in my left knee. This is the last of October, friends and fans of weather. Don't miss it. Take note. Remember for next year.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cool Down.

We went to the mountains and brought back a truer autumn. Here is how it happened: Saturday morning we leave the shirtsleeved cabin—maybe I exaggerate, but it wasn't anything like chilly—and drive the dog and the Toad to the top of the state park up there in 24363. Down where we were staying it was surely upper fifties, maybe low sixties. Top of the mountain it was mid-forties with a forty-mile-an-hour wind. The Toad squinted into the wind, teared up, had questions. The dog lit out for Katahdin or Springer, one. I was ready to follow. AMR said settle down, said get back in the car, said we can stay, but we can't stay here.

We hiked it the next day in a slightly lesser wind and with maybe ten or twelve extra degrees.

And now, burnt offerings sufficiently offered, we've survived the drive back down into the Piedmont, back into our lives, back into another season, and then another. Monday afternoon saw eighty October degrees home in 2740X, but Tuesday and Wednesday brought a not-quite chilly rain, and where we land, finally, is here, Friday morning, leafblowers buzzing on both sides of the shed and a fire in the woodstove, the call to the firewood dudes on the to-do, a colder overnight here than any we saw up there. Actual hat weather, if not hat-and-coat. A bigger pot of coffee. The heat kicked on in the house as a nod to AMR. And the Toad. And the dog, not yet fully possessed of her winter coat and curled into a spot the size of a dinner plate on the sofa. And, hell, me, I guess, though if I lived alone I'd be toughing it out, trying to prove something—but to who? Or whom?

It's a dusty fall we're having thus far, none of the electric colors you'd hope for, if you were foolish enough to hope. But it is still and now fall all the same, leaves in the gutters, on the roofs. Time to switch modes, make ready in new ways. Time to bring out my grandfather's old rake. Hey, October. Hey, little fire. Hey, boots and flannel. Hey, jacket with the windows down on the way into work. Always one more thing to prove.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quo Vadis?

We may have perfected this grand experiment: It's glued to seventy degrees on the front porch here in 2740X, a high blue cloudless sky and not really all that much breeze. The crickets are three hours early. The squirrels are hollering. The Toad, vaccinated, sleeps. AMR's just off to work. I am not. I have The Toad's nap to fill and then a half-cooked plan to walk him, should he wake happy, the mile up past the high school to one of the bevy of new pun-based frozen yogurt shops that somehow sprung up in this town between now and the last time I was paying attention. Yotopia. Yotastic. Yophrates. Yo Mama. These are by-the-ounce-type places, fresh mangoes and kiwis in clear bins and a wall of soft-serve levered machines full of flavors that taste nearly like what they're named. The Toad favors these kinds of places. He favors yogurt, favors fruit. I favor The Toad. Ergo, Etcetera: The motto of our little university here on the knoll of this wee hill.

I need to mow the lawn.

I need to do many things, really—need to get ready for all the everybody who's coming to visit this child over the next however many weekends, need to get the flowerbeds turned and pansied, need to think about getting daffodils and tulips in on time for the first time in however many seasons, need to consider a quick crop of greens, need a list of the things (floor, trim, primer, paint) that still must be done to the writing shed, need to spend new time at the desk. The book found a happy home, and now, like always, it needs tearing down and piecing back together. So too, it seems, did and does my mental health. A novel might be the opposite of a forecast. You only get 24 hours for the latter. For the former, you get damn near all the hours there are. Some days this is the best thing there is. Others, you wish you were a ballplayer, wish all those folks had come to see you do one discrete thing in one sharp moment in time.

The downhill mouse's swamp sunflowers are blooming. Seems late this year, but the policy around here holds no matter what: we will take anything blooming at just about any time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Old Friend.

Cooler today than they thought it would be, says my money, even if my money never saw a thermometer or a website or the six-o'clock local news. Still: I chose ballcap over watchcap, and though, yeah, it was firmly in the sixties, I could've gotten away with what I would have preferred—and how many times, in any situation, can you say that? The humidity must have been bottomed out in the teens. The breeze was up. Windows-down to and from the puppet show made me happy for long sleeves, for the heat of the engine block leaking through the uninsulated sheet metal. We'll be warm again, surely. We always are. But I'm ready to say that we've rounded the corner, that the window just off the pillow on my side of the upstairs bed stays open until the first freeze, that, friends and fans of weather, we have hit autumn. The critters say it, too: The dog slept last night on the sofa, tail curled over her nose. The squirrels, so ground-bound and gathering last week, seem to be treetopped and insulating now, making ready. The cats do whatever cats do.

Fresh sweet potatoes and fresh garlic tonight, roasted and perfect. Beets. Dark beer. A pork chop. Green onions. October. Holy hell it was a long time coming.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Early Gift.

It's already well past fifty out there, but I left the building cool overnight so I could do what I'm doing now: listen to the pop-fizz of a very small fire made from the remnants of the cedar siding and a few medium sticks the maple spent the summer throwing into the lawn. The stove's ticking slowly through its paces. These sounds: not since April. I missed it, I missed it, I missed it. I had The Toad in hats over the weekend. Real hats. I had me in hats, too. And flannel. And jeans. This will not last. It's too soon. But that's no reason not to enjoy what we've been handed here. Don't use real firewood yet, in other words, but do head off into the yard to see what other useful deadfall might be out there.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Season.

Fall's out there. They're saying stove weather by the weekend. It was eighty today and still you could smell it, still you could wear your long sleeves home in the pickup through the late dry evening. Every day there's news, good news and bad news, but finally the news I'm ready for is no news, some blank sunny chilly days—and that's what they want to give us for Saturday and Sunday, and friends, I will take it, which is good, because that's what's forecast whether we're for it or not.

I want coffee and scotch. I want less to think through, more buttons to button. Hard summer. Hard late summer. Give us a new season, please. We're ready. I am, anyway. And hopeful. Which is how fall always makes me feel. I know spring is supposed to be that way. I've just always had it backwards. Probably always will.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Early Signs.

There's color high up in the sweetgums, a deep red, enough to be point-outable to The Toad on our walk to work, to school, to whatever you want to call it. They taught him to walk. Or we did. It takes a village. The child walks. The simplest of miracles. That and the leaves turning. He seemed interested, stared up into the crown of the neighbor's tree as we went under, said something that had more than one syllable in it. On my way back, walking without him, I saw that the maples on the other side of the corner have started up, too, are sliding orange at the edges. This is what I'll have to show him later on, once the church bells play the song that says come get these kids, they're yours. Chlorophyll, I'll tell him. Photosynthesis. Shorter days.

If it was this temperature but half as humid, a little breeze, a high blue sky, then all would be right. Or almost all.

The squirrels are so busy out there that if we were almanac-minded here at ANYLF Global HQ, we'd say cold winter, batten the hatches, buy extra firewood, order another flannel shirt. The dog's fur is coming back in fairly thickly. From up at my brother's farm my parents brought back reports of widely-striped wooly worms. Do with these pieces of information what you will, friends and fans of the long-term. Organize them. Use these vocabulary terms in a sentence.

Things I must do this week: Wait for the phone to ring, clean the gutters. Panic and prepare.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Not Back.

In its own way, summer returns, which makes sense, somehow, in this half-busted year. The new boots no longer hurt. The lawn was mowed, passive-voicedly, out in front of some late-evening rain. It's not yet midnight and the morning coffee's made—and waiting. The dishwasher's going. The Toad sleeps. The novel does what it does.

And let's celebrate the weekend's rain, inches and inches, dramatically underforecast by the forecast. We've been out of practice. We've spoken of ourselves in the plural first, for one thing, and may yet do it again. For another thing, it's humid. Nearly October and still we run the A/C hard. We're not saying the forecast is back. All we're saying is that fall's out there, somewhere, but not quite here yet in 2740X. That's all. That and a mowed lawn might for now be just enough.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

That Place.

Muggy, damp, and flood-watched: this is our punishment for early flannel and boots, for hoping, for thinking we knew when we were, season-wise. Is today fall? Is tomorrow? Somewhere in here is the equinox. We used to know for sure around here. Budget cuts. Apathy. Hope and possibility. Coffee. Lack of coffee. We are once again at the no-season, the space between, the place of not knowing, maybe never knowing. Christ in a bucket. In a juicebox. In a largeish container, bucketlike, of juiceboxes. The fancies say two inches of rain. Don't believe it. Believe one. Maybe a little more. But know: they've been missing, have been guessing high.

Goddamn, at least it's not August.

Still: It's these interstitials that knock us clean to the ground.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Boots.

Just past eight pm, mid-September. Late September, really. Warm, but still boots weather, sort of. I'm on the back porch with the new machine the puppet show forced on me, faster but worse than the old machine, as maybe all new machines always are. Beetles are landing on me. I've got the ballgame on, just waiting for the Braves' epic collapse to continue apace. I've got a little ice in the glass. There are bats. Crickets. A few cicadas. A few college kids celebrating their flexibility, their tolerance, their recovery time from injury. The nearly-next-door shriek-dogs are going, but we're not at the place I've always been with other dogs. These dogs are occasional. Perhaps this helps. The novel is out in the world. A few people are saying no. A handful of people are saying maybe. I don't sleep. The Toad sleeps. The Toad also walks. I am day-to-day and rest-of-life all at the same time. That's where I've been all summer, what's been wrong with me, what's kept me from the forecast. I missed Irene. I missed whatever all else came through since I hit save and hit send. It was almost cold enough Friday night for a fire. We held off. Now I'm counting the days, hoping, waiting—for news, for something, but surely also for fire, for frost, for hats and coats. I bought new boots. For the boots weather. Which we are now almost having. They hurt like hell. I'm wearing them anyway. Breaking them in. That's where we are.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Thing of beauty.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Best Storm?

Was that the best storm I've ever seen, never mind in Greensboro? I was front-porched and cocktailed and companied through most of it, so let's sleep on it to decide, shall we? Still: so, so lovely. And well below 70 degrees.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Flat Days.

Hugh's got a series of places he stops when he walks Marley, which is almost always mid-morning, and is in almost every weather but for those days when it's already over 93 or 94, he told me this morning, or when there's ice. He was a paperboy after the Korean war, he said, and ice was the worst. You'd turn the wheel, and you'd think you had it, and then you'd end up in the ditch. All of this from his side of the street—Marley's an Australian cattle dog, and is wary of Maddie—from his seat on the brick wall there in the whatever block of whichever street that is that runs north-south down into the park. I somehow only know the east-west street names over here. I bet Hugh knows them all.

Two nights in a row—Sunday, Monday—big storms built to our west and north, slid right past or through or around without dropping anything on the ground, fired up again on the other side. The tomatoes have quit. The flower garden out front is full of crabgrass. Though we're not quite there yet—if we could get a big storm followed by a cool(er) day, I'd do a little weeding, a little cleanup—we are nearly at the place of giving in and waiting for late September, for jeans and sleeves, for the wholesale turnover that precedes pansies and bulbs.

August. August is deadly. This year's is a slow burn, a creeping version. I have seen worse ones than this, and better, but it remains unmistakeably August. What slight hope attends to such a thing is this: the light's lengthening in the evenings, yellowing, suggesting some other season. The cicadas don't seem to know it, but still. It's happening. I think. I hope.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Agua. Agua.

When we left the house—let's say 8:30 or maybe a few minutes after—we were OK. Even down at the creek we were OK. And everybody wanted to talk about being out early, if 8:30 is early, to beat the heat. Hugh and his dog on the hill. The tennis-skirt fast-walkers in the park. Two older women in knee braces. They wanted to talk about the Toad, too, about his curls, about his pink cheeks. By the time we made the turn down there at the spot where the shade gives out, though, we were edged toward not being so altogether OK, and the dog was dragging, and I was dragging, and the Toad was throwing his water bottle on the ground and yelling agua! agua!, which seemed right, which seemed like at least a thing to yell, if not the thing. Back home the flowers in their pots were already looking bad. It was already too hot to stand in the sun. The porch already looked flattened in all the light. It was 9:15. The only outside I've seen since is the fifteen yards between the back steps and the shed, and it was already so hot that the only thing that made since with all this coffee was the watermelon I cut and refrigerated last night. Here is how I'm pushing back aganst these hotter days: with an idea, like a watermelon or a Tom Collins or the frozen yogurt place over on Lawndale, held out there for the five- or six-o'clock hour. Something to survive until.

The radio says 100 in Raleigh. The government, what's left of it, says an outside chance of something named Emily giving us some piece of some other idea altogether by late weekend. The Toad says agua, agua.

Today's fantasy, which is different from today's hold-on-until-evening idea, which has only a lime involved so far: that first morning—September, is it?—when I open the back door to let the dog out and it's almost crisp, and it smells different, smells less like this and more like that, and the next thing that stumbles through my head is that it'd be a right and noble thing to sit on the steps and drink my coffee there, instead of back inside.

For now I have only this, and TLK to thank for it: As the sun bakes its way across the front of my building, I now know what those ticks and pings are—it's the siding expanding in the sudden heat. TLK's got cedar on his folly, too, and told me recently over a quick patch of afternoon drywall and a cold beer in a can that he listens out for it in the mornings, the pop and snap of the building breathing. Now I do, too. And maybe it won't be a lime this afternoon, after all. Maybe a cold beer. Maybe a good new piece of information to go alongside. One more way to measure how we make it through the days, and with what degree of success.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August Arrives.

I'm not going to use a word like bearable, but we've slid back some from last week's apocalypse, and now it's just hot. Don't worry, though, Tea Partiers. We'll be back at hell's doorstep tomorrow, when it's supposed to be 99. As for today, though—as for the second day of August, an August that for these two days has not been what the Pyrrhic last days of July was/were—there is a breeze. It is hot, but I do not want to commit homicide. The yard's greened up from the weekend's rain. The sedum is sending up long bloom stalks. This is not bearable, but we may somehow yet survive.

Still, I dream of autumn.

We here at ANYLF know that what you most need from us in a time of crisis is news, and so here's what's breaking: there is a wasp loose out here in the writing shed, and I have no container with which to capture it. It's settled into the gable-end window, too, so I've also got no ladder with which to get up there and not capture it with the container I don't have. I could pour the coffee out, but I've been doing the math, and the numbers make it look like I'd rather get stung. Well, Jim, that does it for our top stories. Let's send it over to Monty with the weather.

It's hot, Jim and Marlee, but not quite as hot as it has been. It's possible it'll never rain again, but we'll deal with that tomorrow. I'd use another sentence with a conjoining conjunction, but that'd be bad form. When we come back, we'll have your seven-day up on the big board. Jim? Back to you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Blooms.

All this and it is not August: We went several days last week and this where it felt like 100 even if it didn't make it there, where the upstairs A/C had all it could do to keep the upstairs below eighty in those late afternoon and early evening hours. And oh holy hell the stillness—I'd be out before nine to walk the dog and the Toad, and there'd be nothing moving but the mockingbirds, the heat in the shade different only from the heat in the sun by a degree or two. It was stiller still down in the park, impossibly, the bowl of heat and humidity pooling and bottoming there by the creek.

These last two-and-some days, though, storms. Saturday we had storms everywhere but here. Sunday we walked out back to let the Toad listen to the thunder—a noise he will make if asked—and lightning struck somewhere between here and the big road, scared us all sufficiently back indoors to cry briefly and then watch it rain hard enough to overflow the gutters. (Waves, the Toad signed, pointing at the rain. Certainly close enough, we said.) Yesterday, more rain. Which means: the upstairs can catch back up, and we can sleep chilly. Which means: mornings find us so humid you can nearly watch the grass grow. I've not mowed the lawn in two weeks or more. Last weekend it was a field of cinders. Now it's knee-high.

What's blooming is black-eyed Susan, vinca, petunia, and the cosmos reseeding in their beds. What's not: any of the tomatoes I had such medium hopes for. Our food crops have all but packed it in. Maybe we can spend August eating pretty instead of eating fruit. I hear that'll carry you through.

You want forecast? Each day the same until it's not. Mid-nineties. Chance of a storm or not. Chance of that storm actually making it here or not. High, high heat. High summer. Last week I got a flannel shirt catalog in the mail that damn near reduced me to tears. I woke up this morning fantasizing about gray winter days. We could be ninety days or more away from frost or freeze. It is not even August. It will not even be August tomorrow. Or the day after. We have a ways to go.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On Hiatus.

It has been shockingly, devastatingly, blast-furnace hot. Sometimes it has rained. Right now, though, oddly and in the dead center of July, it is cool enough to have the windows open and listen to the train. The tomatoes are dying, but there's not much to be done other than eat what yield we did see, celebrate those few good fortunes. The yard's growing tall. The mower's on the fritz. The flowers out front are mulched in and the crabgrass is attempting a comeback all the same. Speaking of comebacks: ANYLF will attempt one in this very space when we return from a half-week of taking The Toad to Florida to show him what that part of the Atlantic looks like. It's been a long hot summer, says old Robert Earl Keen. Time to go on the road and then come back again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Five July.

Well, it stormed on the Fourth, as I believe it always does here in 2740X, though I know that in actual real Farmer's Almanac terms we're only batting about .400. Still. I remember no time before living in NC, and I remember no time that's not colored by grad school on Carr Street, and I remember no Carr Street BBQ not colored by apocalyptic rain and bourbon passed in pint bottles and god only knows what else, and so I am happy to report here in this space that though this 4th there was no Carr Street, no fast-hung tarp, no street bowling, no bourbon, even, there was still and yes rain, serious rain, even, and we grilled corn in the pre-rain and ate it in the post-rain, and, well, though this summer has been lax and even irresponsible, there was weather, a hard rain herein reported, and being that this is the forecast, we do now report the events of yesterday, and of the day before, and we say thusly: It has been bad. Very bad. Hot like an example. Concrete like another example. And yet I feel a subtle though sure slide toward something that looks like five fewer degrees, a bit more rain, and surely a better chance of same. No news from NYC. Dying tomatoes, yielding tomatoes. Corn in a cast-iron skillet. Ice in a glass here as we leak into the first week of July. Braves winning ballgames. An A/C that hangs on. A lawnmower that wants for a professional opinion. I've gone crazy. I don't know past the fact that it may rain what the week's weather may hold. That's the best I can give you. Thank god we don't run a subscription service around here. We watch the sky. We say it'll never rain. We pray for rain.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Filled In.

About those blanks in our previous discussion: never mind. They're breaking in on the radio saying not to drive. Here, in the house, not driving, all this rain sounds so good on the tarp that's supposed to be covering the lawn mower.

Blank Days.

Everywhere but here, apparently, though if last night's 10 pm-er and subsequent 2 am-er are any indication, just hang on. Things may change, and for the tomatoed better.

It is not, friends and fans of weather, that I have not been pining away for a rain gauge, a hygrometer, a seven-day. It is not that I haven't been keeping a close watch on the azalea I planted (not by plan) in a leach field of fist-sized gravel, thereby insuring excellent drainage but also insuring excellent drainage, good in all months but these. It is not that I've not been five-gallon-bucketing water that azalea's way, and also to the new cherry, the pots out front, the new coneflowers, the old coneflowers, the black-eyed susans. It is not that I've not been checking the radar.

But somehow this year the season has hit me too squarely, has jumped full into high summer without any real early summer, without any lingering late spring. This morning, though, in bright hot sunshine on the porch, it smelled both like brutal summer and like last night's good rain, and I thought—I remembered—that this is the sort of thing I've promised at least to record. Contradiction. Confusion. Something other than the blank page of a late-June ninety-degree day. Something other than that high blank sky. Something a little less blank. And I have been feeling blank. And the weather has for the most part been a string of blank pressing days. But not last Saturday night, up in the half-high mountains of Asheville, eating dinner outside. And not yesterday, mowing the back lawn with a dying mower out in front of what I hoped would be rain. And not overnight, in either of those good storms. And not this morning. And not even now, with these uncovered windows letting heat through the glass and into the western side of the house, and with the radar lit so hopefully. So I let rainwater into the gas can and may have wounded the walk-behind. So the Toad's upstairs refusing to take the second nap of the day. So I wait and wait for letters or phone calls from the gods of my own choosing, for better or worse, that either will or will not come regardless of the quality of my waiting. I am strung between days. Best, then, to go back to that which we know we can only guess at: the radar sure looks like it really maybe might rain, if we get lucky.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Season.

And the first night of summer goes like this: All evening the hydrangeas in the yard wilted their rainless way toward burn and damage, and we cooked a chicken, and cooked some potatoes, and ate that with a little arugula and red wine, and we tied the cherry tomatoes to their posts out back and took the dog to bed—the boy'd been down for hours—and just after midnight the sky lit itself with more lightning than we generally see around here, three or four hundred lightning strikes over the better part of an hour, no exaggeration, and a solid heavy inch of rain, or maybe two, and wind, and noise, and the dog on the bed and the cat on the bed and the boy sleeping hard through all that strobe and bang, until 1:30 or a little later—when the storm let up, not the boy; the boy slept the night, as he almost always does, knock on wood and pray to the god of your choosing—and the rain slowed and then quit altogether, and the storm rumbled on past us to the east, and we fell back into some kind of sleep. This morning we wake up to a yard that suddenly wants mowing and that hydrangea blooming blue and full and looking not so much like it wants to pack itself in as keep right on having a go at this new Carolina summer half the country doesn't believe in, like it also doesn't believe (the country, not the hydrangea, which believes it all, every part of it) in evolution or mathematics, and there is coffee, and there is a Wednesday that has somehow already spun itself halfway through, and now the days, though we won't notice right at first, get shorter, and I wish like all hell I could give you some kind of forecast for what it is that rears up next, but that, of course, is not at all what we do here. For that you'll need professionals.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Been Gone.

Been gone a long time. I've been crazy, is the short of it. The long of it can come later. For now: Tie up your tomato vines, if you have an old t-shirt and still have time. This is not the/a big one, I don't think, but the dog's off and my knee hurts and the boy fell dead asleep out of nowhere and the trees are whipped around pretty well out there, so, you know, have a look out them western windows, OK? Crack open a cold one and find a good porch to stand on. Squirrels are running for home across the roof of the outbuilding. That's something. Severe warning. That's something, too. Trees down in Winston. I could go on, but then I wouldn't be front porched or looking out windows, and then where would we be?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Same Days.

Sometimes, it cools off enough in the evenings to sit outside. Sometimes there is a breeze. Sometimes it stays hot and there is no breeze. Regardless, it does not rain. That was last week, and that is this week. Hard to say when that might change.

I'm putting the novel through its paces one last time before the next time. I have lost track of time and calendar. There are early-morning dogwalks. When I remember to stock the cooler, there is ice and beer. There's a cistern of coffee in the fridge for iced coffee. At some point I acquired a new pair of shoes. I'm wearing an old lucky hat. My dreams have gone haywire. I wake up tired.

Maybe it will never rain again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

One Year.

One wee ranting complaint and what do we get? A morning that hung onto the sixties and is still, however barely, hanging onto the seventies, and you could feel this coming even last night, late evening, just after sundown, when the humidity dropped down into the thirty percent range. There was a breeze. And then this morning: Yardwork. Dogwalk. Porch. Coffee that somehow did not require ice, though there is a pitcher now fridged for just such a purpose. If this were summer, I told the Toad on his way to prepreschool, then I'd have no concerns. Hell, it felt like that first crispish September morning out there. Or maybe it felt like what June is supposed to be, used to be, here on the Piedmont.

On the docket: cake-baking. His Honor the Toad turns one today. Last year this time: holy hell. This year this time: friends and fans of weather—of all weathers—I do not understand how we ended up with this child. And yet here he is, in this house. At times I still would have it every other way but this one, but the thing that's surprised me is that, at times, I'd have it no other way than the way it is. I did not know that would or could be me. I did not know.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gone Over.

Hot, my god, hot on top of hot, too hot to mow the lawn, and it doesn't matter, anyway, because it's too hot for the lawn to be mown, to dry, too risky, too likely that what'd be left out there would be twigs and kindling. So hot the sedum are wilting. So hot that standing or parking in the shade barely matters. I may have sunburned the Toad in five outdoor minutes in the big box plant section buying flowers, though it's far and away too hot to be potting anything up just now. Too hot to tie up the tomatoes which need tying badly, too hot even to put a beer in the freezer to drink on the porch here once it's quittin' time, because to drink on the porch in this heat would be lunacy. So hot that AMR, she of the reptilian blood, came in from reading outside to read inside. I have never seen her come in voluntarily during the heat. Not one time. It is the second day of June. It is 60ish days until we even see August. I called an HVAC company to ask about the upstairs A/C being unable to keep up and they said, yep, sounds right, and by the by it doesn't much make any difference, because the first they could see me would be at the end of the month, unless I get a full-system flameout. A bartender who lives in the neighborhood said six of his ten barstools were last night sat by persons with failed A/Cs. The gentleman who delivered our pizza Tuesday night said his window unit was crashed. I think the Toad passed out on the way home rather than falling asleep. He is upstairs in the upper seventies having a red-faced nap. This is ice-in-the-kiddie-pool weather. This is frozen margaritas. This is for god's sake do not turn the oven on. This is keep the blinds closed on the sun side of the house. I have found your global warming, you jackass politico science-phobic illiterates, and it is right here in the back yard.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ninety Degrees.

95 tomorrow, on the first day of June. Summer begins twenty-one days later. 90-something today. 90-something Thursday. The yard's a foot tall because I'm afraid to mow in this heat, lest it burn off to cinders. I'm running the A/C in the building all night just to make it cool enough to sit down at the desk in the mornings. The tomatoes might not set fruit in this kind of weather. The ferns are dead. The dogwood already looks car-crashed. When the breeze blows and the sun's down, you can sit outside. When the breeze quits, you can't. The number of degrees by which my upstairs A/C cannot keep up is directly proportional to how many degrees over 91 it is outside. Today: upstairs thermostat set to 74, upstairs temp at 77. If it's nine in the morning it's already too late to walk the dog. The coneflowers are trying to bloom, but they look distressed. A cat limped across the street this morning. It was trash day on Monday, but it was also Memorial Day, so the neighborhood smells like cooked garbage. All the A/Cs running all through the neighborhood nearly cover the SECU hum. I haven't dumped the pansy pots yet: the plants look microwaved. I was mad all morning and couldn't remember why. AMR wanted to know what in hell was wrong with me. Midafternoon she remembered for both of us, said: you're the only person I know who gets mad at the seasons. Only one season, I said. Still, she said. Yes, I said. It's true.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Severe Threat.

Maybe it's the Toad and my new aversion to things that endanger Toads, or maybe it's the horror that is the photography coming out of Missouri, out of Kansas, out of Texas, out of Oklahoma, out of Alabama, out of what seems like another new town every day, but I am not loving the clear-skied wind we're picking up out front what's back west, and I am not loving the look of what's back west, either. We are, here on the Piedmont, mainly sheltered from the apocalyptic storms they've seen in Tuscaloosa and Joplin and everywhere all else across the center of the country, and so my level of nervousness is more like the systemic hum we've been picking up off the damaged air handler atop the SECU building four blocks up the hill than like the tornado sirens they keep having to ring back west, but still. You see those pictures and you wonder if even a good basement would have saved you. My god those people. My god this violent spring. We had a coneflower bloom out front in our ninety-degree heat today and that thing seemed impossible compared to the barkless trees in Missouri.

When I drove out west, the gas stations advertised deals for weather radios on the moveable-letter signs. We do not have that here. The Appalachians shield us. Nothing has five or ten hours on the ground to spin itself together. Out there, there's nothing. There are the Rockies and then there are beanfields, wheatfields, cornfields.

The dog is not right. She keeps wanting under tables, wanting to be pressed up against my leg.

Maybe it will be nothing. Probably, even. But this is the weather we've all seen this spring, and there it is on the radar, and out the kitchen windows in the full eight o'clock light of late, late spring, the leaves are doing odd things, are turning inside out, and that wind is more than we're used to. You want to say a stupid thing like I should have mowed the lawn. Instead, you console the dog and pour a short drink and stand out on the back deck and look west at the sky like it might tell you something, like that might tell you how ready you ought to be. As if, the pictures tell us, there's anything like ready.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Concrete Slab.

Summer. Thunderstorms in the afternoons, mornings with heat already in them. Limes in the house. Cut flowers. Short pants. Sandals. The shed's doing beautifully, making the insulate-the-floor choice we made look good: Insulate the floor, and it's easier to heat in the winter; don't, and the cool of the night spends all morning coming up through the slab. And which do you want—a roaring fire, or a roaring A/C? Don't answer that. If it's the wrong one, nobody around here wants to know.

One of these days we'll see ninety for the first time this season. Could very well be today. It was 85 at the airport an hour ago, says your tax dollar and mine. This would usually around the forecast be cause for rending of garments, gnashing of teeth, sackcloth, ashes, the whole lying opera. But somehow today it feels alright. Maybe it's the newness, the oddness of the change of season, the persistent green of all these perennials pushing hard for bloom. Maybe it's just laziness or distraction. Either way, it's here, and we're here, and it's hot and hazy and May and we won't see much change until the weekend, so settle in for this or hunker down somewhere cool, somewhere they haven't insulated the floor.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Glimmer.

Fabulous little no-danger midnight storm rolls through the lees of the everybody's-already-gone-home dishes-cleaning-and-drying portion of the work friends dinner party, and there's Tom Petty and also the Rolling Stones and even a little CCR on the radio, and there's one last drink and maybe another half on top of that, a dish towel over the shoulder, and even though the Braves went out west and lost again, we've eaten Vidalias and corn and chicken all off the grill, and nobody yelled at anybody or did anything anybody'd have to apologize for, and it's ten degrees cooler now in the rain than it was earlier, when it was summer for sure, and you think, You know what? This could be OK.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Late Spring.

We emerge from early-onset TLK winter (requirement: it's been hot; it's now not; one can sit on the front porch in jeans and long sleeves during a late spring/early summer calendar month when one arguably should not be able to sit on porch in same; it's gray) and into this last gentle May day, I fear, before May remembers what it's meant to be about and renders unto Caesar etcetera, which is to say, the weekend forecast calls for high eighties and long, long sentences. Not much rain in that five-day, either, and not much in the ten. Tomorrow it may be summer. Consider this your fair warning. If you are not out in the yard and garden and riding around with the windows down and sidewalking your dogs and toads down to the park, then you're doing it wrong.

Birds. The first crickets. Birds again. Everything green, but hanging hard onto that spring green, the lighter shades. We have not fallen into the spinach-green of full summer just yet. Daylilies blooming around the city and verging on it here at the forecast. Coneflowers. Blackeyed Susans. The pansies pulled out and the summer annuals, late but looking fine, in their flats in the empty beds. The Toad like a lit match, a firecracker you're still holding in your hand, going a hundred miles a minute for about 72 hours and then collapsing yesterday afternoon and this morning into hours-long naps, trying to sleep off all the discovery.

I burned a gentle fire yesterday morning in the shed, as much to take the humidity down as to take the chill off. Still. May 18 and a fire in the woodstove. 85 degrees by the time we see May 21. Keep an eye on the weather. We're having most of it at once.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Losing Side.

It is 3:00 on a Monday in the dead center of May and we have only just broken 70 degrees. The sun is out for what feels like the first time in days. I have lost, in colossal and spectacular fashion, either a turf war or a theological debate out at the puppet show, the end result of which has been that I've been thinking hard and with frequency about which turf matters and which does not. Turf upon which resides this novel or any other, and turf which may be home to Toads: important. Turf out there on the other end of 70: let's leave it to flood and fire, pestilence and famine. Locusts. And regardless, summer comes, which means the annual Do-Not-Disturb goes up in regards to all things puppet, so it is time, even if this morning I woke out of a dream having to do with a blue bowl out of which a single ant kept appearing—I'd crush the ant with my thumb, and then another would appear in the bowl, and I'd crush it again, and so on—it is high time to leave to the puppet show what belongs to the puppet show, and high time to come home and pay better and more attention. As it happens, there is as of today one more round of revision coming on the novel, a kind of fortnightlong boot camp to edge up the edges, and then, friends and fans of the losing side of bureaucratic lockjawed meltdown vs. the artistic impulse, we dress it up and take it out and see who wants to take its picture.

A cool week seems to be on tap. The weather's trying to come in from the east this afternoon, which is rare and strange, both. There's beer in the closet but not in the fridge. The Toad has a low fever and a new tooth. I need a new pen for this round, new ink, new coffee, a new cup. I need other things, too, not listed here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Slow Days.

It smells like honeysuckle out there and I'm in here wandering the rooms, eating leftovers, losing my mind. We've got smoke cover from the Pains Bay Fire in Dare County. I did not know the prevailing wind was coming from that side. Shows you what I know. Garbanzo beans, lemon, red onion, green beans, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, cilantro. Old shed to-do all checked and lined through and finished, new shed to-do hovering and building. We run the dishwasher twice a day, the washing machine more than that. I dream of tornadoes made of fire, of faculty meetings without end. If I could get the two of those into the same dream I'd have one that made sense. The dog stumbles some. The Toad does, too. Kindred spirits. I've got half a flat of impatiens that want into the ground under my unblooming dogwood. I've got half an hour of nap left. I'm all plan and little do. Robins. Robins everywhere, making more. Explosions in the neighborhood last night. What I thought: a sparked gas line had knocked somebody's house off its foundation. What was true: two electrical transformers and a cannon shot in a cemetery. Truth from fiction. Hard to tell.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Final Inspection.

Friends and fans of building codes, of professional plumbers, of semiprofessional electricians, and of hobbyist drywallers like me, know this: one can, in fact, satisfy the City of 2740X Department of Building and Engineering, even if it does take a year. A word of advice: Don't throw up the framing for your shed addition three weeks after the birth of your child. Don't have the slab poured three weeks before the birth of your child. The net effect will be that you don't really remember anything from May to Thanksgiving. The net effect will be that a building permit issued you on 5/19/10 will be finished on 5/10/11. Still: after hitting a parked and shiny PT Cruiser in the parking lot at the puppet show last evening, I was in need of good news, triumphant news, even, and this is that. Persons who know things have turned up to look at what is mainly square and largely waterproof and said yes.

I just missed, is what happened. I was in the pickup and the Toad was riding with me and my head was full of novel and puppetry and time of day and needs of child and then I hit the damn car.

We're sunny out there now, though we started cool and humid, and one does wonder if this is the week we make the quarter-turn to a chance of showers each afternoon, if the weather forecast goes from being science to art, to which way the dog orients herself on the porch and how comfortable she is sniffing the wind. I'd look mainly west, though I think I recall some gentleman on the local cable whatever last night showing a model that had things sliding in from the north, or the northish, and so look there, too. I think he said 'some may be severe,' but once we hit, oh, i don't know, 5/10/XX, isn't the chance there that anything that pops up may be poppier than normal?

The agony of defeat and the thrill of victory, 14 or 15 hours apart. If the Toad were old enough, I'd explain to him that this is usually the best you can hope for. It may be slightly better than that, even. Instead, though, I'll just wait until he comes babbling out of his nap, load him into the backpack, and stroll him around in all this slightly-cooler-than-it-could-be pre-possible-thunderstorm mid-morning tempered triumph. I'll take the dog, see which way she's aiming. There's no better barometer, friends and fans of wanting to know a little more than you know. None.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Of Note.

And again I slide away for a time weatherwise, and for no good reason. The weather went on just fine without me: It rained some, it warmed some, and last evening at about four-thirty or five o'clock it did what we rarely see it do this far into the year, which was clear off a bank of muggy clouds and then snap genuinely cool into dusk and beyond, jeans-and-sleeves temperatures, a little breeze, the boys a block or so over hollering their graduation deep into the night. It would have been a fine night to graduate, I thought. It seemed a fine night to graduate for those boys, anyway. And I kept thinking: Where are the girls? Quiet, and watching the boys holler, or not there at all?

What do we do here on our own back forty? Holler some, sure, but mainly tick item after item off the shed list until it finally has just one box left to check: final. The last side is sided, the ceiling's touched up, the walls are recaulked in those places that were wanting it, those two last batts of insulation are batted in, the last bits of trim are painted and hammer-fit and smoothed into place. It is time to call the city. That will be a nervous-making time. Still, I feel good, and mainly along these lines: How odd to have done something slowly and right. My M.O. breaks generally along other lines entirely.

The novel bides its time in NYC, waits for opinions, ideas, makes and works its own list. The Toad sleeps well and waves with both hands and babbles just about all the time. The dog sleeps more on the downstairs sofa than the upstairs bed. Mother's Day comes and goes like always, and not at all like always. The lawn is in need of a mow. The mower is in need of a tune. The coffee pot's emptied out. Me, too, maybe. There's an in-betweenness in the water over here. Something that would look like inertia if there weren't so many things going on. That's what made the cool night last night so nice: It was something specific, discrete, something that wanted logging, noting. So. Noted, and duly.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Puppet Masters.

Fire in the woodstove this morning. Actual time at the actual desk with the actual book. But splendor never lasts: they're chainsawing six or eight trees out of the catty-corner yard, and I'm headed this evening to the puppet show for a fancified one-on-one meeting with one of the puppeteers. In Which Our Hero Holds Forth On The Way Things Really Ought To Be, And Is Told: There There, Little Boy, Run Along Now. That sort of thing. I'm planning on shaving before I go, but that's more to say I did.

It's cold. It's cold for May, and it's nearly cold for any time. It's surely chilly. All that green out there doesn't quite mesh with the way the air is. One wants a quiet back deck, some reddening maple leaves, etcetera. This isn't totally without precedent—I've got a picture of me somewhere, standing on Carr Street in a watchcap sipping whiskey with the wisteria blooming behind me and the dog layed out on the sidewalk—but the wisteria blooms a month ago, folks. Precedent or no, this is like some slip of the tongue, an accident, an intern left in charge.

How to handle an argument you have no chance of winning: Walk the dog and the Toad through last evening's cooling park, high creek running the opposite way from the way you're walking. Think about what would happen if you did win. What you'd owe them then. What you can do with the time that comes from losing. Which may be, strangely enough, walking the dog and the Toad through the cooling park, and actual time at the actual desk. The things you want anyway. The things that have naught to do with most arguments that take place outside this zip code. So: shave. Just don't feel like you have to do too thorough a job of it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bumpy Ride.

The dog's not right—we've got storms coming in—and there's a new hum: the SECU building on Market threw a bearing or something up in its air handler and now there's a hum. Hum II. Friends and fans of the forecast will remember Hum I (see: late September, 2009), and AMR has already threatened both divorce and bodily harm unless I can come to grips with this lesser hum, and soon, but: goddamnit.

In other news: Finches, I think, in the already dying ferns on the front porch. Baby thrashers and robins and wrens taking flying lessons in the back yard all weekend. The circular saw bounced a springloaded switch off into the yard and now will not operate, and the springloaded switch, owing to its springloadedness, is gone and gone. The last side of the shed, though, is sided. As soon as I can caulk the seams, I can call the city. The one-year mark of the building permit looms. I think if we hit it with no final inspection that the city burns the building to the slab as a firefighting exercise. AMR has also threatened bodily divorce and harm should I not get the giant sinking pit of money city-sanctified by the appropriate date. One does not blame her.

Puppet show, puppet show. Draft floating through Manhattan. Long unscripted days. A new hum. Perhaps I'll step out there into it and see if what's lighting up Winston is visible here yet. And again I think of Alabama, and again, and again.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Calm Skies.

The puppet show sings along out there in the backcountry under its own power, and a cloudless cool Friday morning arrives like or even as a reminder of exactly what the sum total is supposed to be about, anyway, which is: Get the hell off your email. Get the hell off your hamster wheel, too. Side the final side of the writing shed. Don't do anything other than that. Anything other than that is too much, is taking space in your head from what that space should be given over to.

A high of 73 today. A low of 46 tonight. A high of 73 tomorrow. Yes, please, and yes again.

The pictures out of Alabama. There's nothing else to say except: The pictures out of Alabama. You draw a sky like this on a day like today and it feels impossible that something like that could also come out of the west. It makes a thing like siding a building feel like folly, feel, above all else, like a temporary act.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alabama Prayer.

We picked up one storm overnight, maybe two, and the tailing edge of the front coming through this morning gave us what looked like another inch of hard rain as it built one last line of storms directly over us, but we're free and clear now, it seems, or close enough. The video out of Alabama is horrifying, makes it clear that weather is no hobby, makes me rethink those times i've stood in carports and on front porches celebrating storms coming in, trying to get close. This is playing on the reel in my head: how AMR and I would manage to carry two cats, a dog, and a Toad all at once, where we'd carry them to.

We'll be cleaned back out today, less humidified, higher sky, calmer breeze, weather that looks more like the docile azalea spring we always hope for. I'll be driving the Toad to the puppet show for some puppetry I can't get out of. We'll be carrying on what looks like our same lives. Friends and fans of weather, we're lucky. We got lucky again. And maybe that's how to think about it: stand out there, sure, and watch it come in—those times it's safe enough to, anyway—but know that every time you do, you're lucky. Nothing more than that. It's bigger than you are, which means there isn't any other answer.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Storm Watch.

I was right, but the dog was righter: I guessed storms, but she knew what time. Not much on the radar, blue sky, beer in a bottle, and the dog snugs up to AMR on the front porch while the Toad hollers at Tupperware and sure enough, the neighbor's weather radio goes off, and we watch a storm that put down quarter-size hail where it hailed slide just to our west and north, dropping a good quarter-inch of rain in fifteen minutes here at 709 as it went by. This has been a spring of catastrophic storms that I've barely been able to mention at the forecast, but my god hang on down there in Alabama, in Georgia, and the dog's still not right here in NC, so: locals, sleep lightly. Has spring always been this big, and this is just the version of weather in the age of televised politics? Or are we getting bigger and badder as we heat the planet?

Hang on people, hang on, hang on. And watch the dogs.

High Humidity.

How it isn't raining right now strains the bonds of credulity, if there are such things. It should be at least laying into one of those morning-long tomato rains, steady gentle rainfall and ten degrees too warm to be comfortable and ten degrees too cool to get the A/Cs to kick on, leaving you stranded inside your house sitting on damp upholstery and watching the books swell and wondering if things would be better if you poured your coffee over ice. That or it should be dropping hailstones the size of hen eggs down on us. Something. Instead, the sun's breaking through once every twenty minutes or so, but for the most part the western sky's so gray that I'm checking the radar, checking the radar, and still there's nothing.

Left the windows down in the truck yesterday during a very brief puppet show showing. The sky was blue when I went in. While I was enjoying the sublime vagaries of undergraduate thesis defense, It poured for twenty minutes and then quit. Damp ride back home. Metaphor? Lesson from the gods? Simple meteorology? I've got the windows down now, trying to dry it back out. Coming soon to a forecast near you: a longish discourse on the vicious cycle.

I keep orbiting away from this, from everything, really—it's been a hard week for no good reason, and I find myself looking for ever simpler tasks. Six bags of cypress mulch around the new azaleas back there at the shed. Lawns to be mowed. Ferns to be hung and straightaway colonized by the house finches. A thing like sweeping appeals. Lining up the spoons in their drawers. This is the late spring. This is the between.

They've got our storm chances lower than I'd have them. Supposed to be 70 on Friday with all the gloriousness and rights and privileges attending thereunto. It ain't that now. Sometime between now and then, then, storms. Maybe today. So: truck windows. Something's going to have to get done about that, one way or the other. Somebody's probably going to have to pay attention to the weather.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Warm Mornings.

It's been too long since I've been at this: This is the refrain of the Toad, of the end of a term I'm not even teaching my way through, of the end of a novel I'm not finished with, of the doldrums—can we have doldrums this time of year?—of April. We weren't this way last week. We were full of cold rain, of bright cool days after that. Today we have graduation weather, though, hot and muggy and headed for the mid-eighties for sure, the air handler on the credit union building screaming away, the second one harmonizing from the church. The grass is tall. The weeds are in. The tomatoes, though, are also in, which is one way to measure. Maybe it's the only measure. If they weren't in I'd be prostrate on the porch, watching them wilt in their peat cups, wondering what the hell was coming next. Now I know: Tomatoes, hopefully, just out in front of the Yellow Death (called Early Blight by those with knowledge of such things; I have no knowledge—only gloom).

Forecast: storms Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, which means this may not be the week to side the gable end of the ongoing money sink that is the writing shed, though the time is nigh: my building permit's one-year anniversary rides closer, which means so too does the one horseman of the city apocalypse, stopping by to do whatever he does if I don't make it. One side. A couple hundred bucks of cedar. Then two hundred other tiny things, like caulking crown molding, but maybe they'll let me slide: If it didn't leak in what became the Raleigh storms, and if it didn't leak in our own smaller tornadoes the week before, then surely I've built to permit, no? No. Who knows. You never know. Every time it rains hard I go out there looking for water. Every time, knock on wood, it has thus far been dry.

I feel spent. Dried up. It's hot. I do have good tomatoes. There's that, then, if nothing else. The Toad went back to school this morning after a long spring break week. Quiet around here. I miss him, and I don't. He cut two teeth last week. Two more teeth. Put that in your almanac and smoke it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blank Page.

Back home on the Piedmont, a slow Wednesday morning gives over to high haze, high clouds tracking through, and what I'd say was the surefire promise of storms later on if not for all the fancier folks saying our chances were slimmer than that. I'm returned from a two-day to St. Louis, to Webster Groves, to be more exact, city and town of tulips everywhere, everywhere. And tornadoes: Last year, flying out of Nashville in mid-April, a flight crew told us boarding passengers to hustle lest we not get out in front of the storm, lest we have to deplane and take shelter back in the terminal. Same same yesterday evening at Lambert Field, as we got out just in front of egg-sized hail, tornadoes, lightning, etc. Had not what happened in Raleigh happened last week, I'd say that it was good to live on this side of the mountains. But maybe April will seek you out wherever you are.

A draft—new and improved—to 10003. Less panic in this round. Maybe I'm not done, but I'm closer. Now the waiting. In the interim: Siding the last side of the shed addition, calling the city to come and say Yep, it's sided. Then the ceremonial burning of the building permit. Then the whatever else attends to such things. Then the casting around and looking for new projects, for next projects. Window trim in the building proper. Prime and paint the building proper. Think about a floor to go with all that subfloor. Maybe something simple, like planting impatiens, planting glads. It is that time.

The Toad naps. The clouds build in. It feels more than anything like summer out there, like something hung out to dry. I cut the back yard before I left. Never did get to the front. That'll be an adventure. Maybe I can just let it go another week and then hay it. Maybe I should procure a goat. So the fancies say our rain and storm chances are slim. I say: Maybe so, but don't put it entirely out of your mind. This hot, this humid—if it was August, I'd say no way, that we were headed for heartbreak, that the cracked ground would only crack more. But it's April. April has thus gone big.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tornado Outbreak.

The above is what we saw. Here is what Raleigh and folks down east saw. A neighbor down the street called it hours before it happened, during our long morning of odd light and hard wind. She grew up in Alabama and Tennessee, where things like this are a little more common. I only knew something wasn't right. She knew what kind of something.

It rained as hard as it can rain here, but that was about it. Tornadoes immediately south and immediately north and immediately east. Van Denton, doing the live play-by-play on WGHP, cried on-air as a storm came through High Point. It is never going to be good when the weatherman doesn't know what to do. I think he saw the radar and thought we were getting what Raleigh eventually got. Sixty tornadoes statewide, the national news says this morning. We made the national news. The sun came out twenty minutes after it quit raining. We had huge wind all afternoon, too, in all that sun. I want to have other things to say about this, but all those pictures of insulation in the trees— We were lucky. No way around it. Other folks were not.

Be careful out there, friends and fans of weather. Cultivate a healthy respect. Keep an eye always, always to the western sky, even on a scraped-clean bone-still day like this one.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Heads Up.

They'd been saying tomorrow, but a quick look at the radar says we really might start to see overnight all that mess that's wrapped folks west of here sideways around their flagpoles, and night is never good—we're getting preapocalyptic warnings like we don't always get around here, and friends and relatives are sending hailstone pictures from Oklahoma and Atlanta—just last week, it seems, we had the storm of storms, and here we go once more. Maybe I don't well remember much pre-Toad. Maybe spring is always thus. Maybe the digital age enables panic at levels much more highly ratcheted than before. Still. I have not liked the look of the sky since mid-afternoon, and it was sunny then, but hazy and half-doomed out west. And this wind—this far in front of a storm—if this was a weather blog, I'd want to be in the business of warning folks without causing undue panic. I'd want to say, Something is not quite right in the breeze. It is not just the new sound of new leaves. Something is headed our way, and it is not the Toad's new teeth, nor his new fever, nor his fuss. The radar is lit yellow and red for hundreds of miles. Hunker down, I'd say. Know where your matches are. Have a plan. Find the leashes. You will never need any of this, but know it all just in case.

Here in the Gate City the wind goes on and on and so do the sirens, the trains, the traffic, the air handlers atop the state credit union building. We get ready. We eye our grills, our hand-hewn outbuildings. We sip on a wee dram. The clouds build in from funny directions, directions that have not that much to do with the wind. We prepare. It'll storm. We just don't know in what fashion.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Unreliable Narrator.

We wake up early around these parts, and twice—let's do, as it turns out, count the Toad's midnight ninety-minute ride through various stages of sadness and complaint—but on the second time around we see what we have been seeing, which is that the forecast, ours or theirs or anyone else's, is essentially unreliable. Yesterday afternoon, briefly, we had what they'd been trying for 48 hours to give us: blazing sun and blooming azaleas and the smell of foolhardy projects out there on the edge of the wind. This morning, forecast for the same, we instead wake up to a muggy humidified post-drizzle June morning. Thunderstorms tonight, they say, but then they also did not say cold and fifty on Saturday. What do you want? A metaphor? I planted a fifteen-dollar azalea in what I thought two weeks ago was a fine spot; now my hostas, location and even existence of same erased by the the Toad, as they are pre-Toad, are coming right up through that plant. Give it an hour out there. Maybe we'll burn all this mess off and see the sky. Right now the sky is a plate set down over the top of the bowl of the world. Too much? Too bad. I've already been up twice today.

For those of you scoring at home: Kwanzaan cherry, cardinals, unspecified woodpecker, coffee, laundry, novel, shirt in need of ironing, Braves under .500, yard about to want mowing again, dog in various stages of limp and shuffle, coffee again.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Remember: Spring.

Little gorgeous after-dark thunderstorm nobody saw coming. It was raining before it was on the radar. We're going to need to get the fine instruments tuned to the correct season around these parts.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Interrupt Us.

Friends and fans of weather, a Thursday drive to Conway, SC, is made mainly of the pale greens and pale reds of new leaves, plus dogwoods blooming in the understory. Occasional scent of cows, of mown grass. Bright high sky. Add to that a fine meal with fine persons and a reading if not full of then at least peopled with 20-year-olds choosing to hear the reading rather than engage in coitus in the tall spring grass with other 20-year-olds, and you have a not-terrible day. Not at all. I have been to a bar and seen the Daredevils of Comedy. At that same bar I have seen Acoustic John. I hope those 20-year-olds have since had enough sense to start doing at least something in the tall grass. One of the bases, at least. I mean, holy hell it was nice out there today. If I had been 20, and if I had known other persons who were 20, I would not have gone to see some dude read from some thing. I would have been doing everything I could have thought of to end up in the tall grass. Or any grass, really.

As for Acoustic John, one wonders who will bed him down in the tall grass. As for the Daredevils of Comedy: though horrible, they seemed to have a reasonable chance of bedding one another down post-show.

This is spring, people. We don't deserve such a thing. East of the Appalachians and south of the Washington Monument we do not really have winter like the rest of the country does, and yet we still get this. Down here in SC the azaleas are in full-out bloom. We're a little behind that back in the 2740X area of concern, but we'll get there. It is spring in Conway. It's a hell of a thing to see up close.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Morning After.

Tree damage everywhere, litter in the streets, roofs blown mainly off on the way to the puppet show—that might have been the best storm since the hail fiasco of May 2008, when all of everything got cut to pieces. There was also the December 2003 ice storm, which was when I first lived in this neighborhood, and when I last saw this many tree limbs in the streets. There was also the Friendly Avenue gustnado of 1999. And we were lucky last night. Folks all over everywhere else around here got a lot worse.

I went to bed thinking the radar was saying we were fine, and then 3 a.m. turned up with continuous lighting and what my neighbor is saying were 85 mph winds, and though I'm not quite ready to trust that, let's certainly say we saw something close to that throughout the 2740X storming area, and almost surely they saw it in full force down Wendover out east of town, where this evening back home from the puppet show there were still traffic lights out, still roofing materials in the road. Trees blown right down in the medians. Siding off the houses. That was a storm. I got up to see if we needed to be in the basement, and by the time Lanie Pope over at WXII—still at work at 3 a.m.—was telling us there seemed to be a tornado on the ground in Sunset Hills, which is only a gearshift or two away from the Forecast HQ, the wind had died down here, the dogwood was still standing, and I went back to bed. I only got good and scared after it was already over. And that was only for the Toad, who never once stirred.

To learn to love a storm that could take the wee boy out: I'll need another couple go-arounds before I settle back in, I think, before it feels like it used to feel. Before, it was just me. Now it's this dead-to-the-world sleeping boy who does not yet need to have a maple limb come through his ceiling. That gets plenty good later on, some time in his tenth or eleventh year, when it might be astonishing instead of petrifying. For now, he's sleeping again, having been this morning backpacked through the aftermath of whatever the hell that was, resting his one hand on my shoulder and making his small noises that surely, surely must mean something, must mean astonishment of some sort or kind.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Rites.

The lawnmower started. I had been thinking, even though we're raiding the couch cushions for lunch money over here, that this would be the year we'd have to break down and buy a new mower, but now I know: I'll never buy a new mower. You cannot break that mower. I've worked at it steadfastly since 2003, and it wasn't new then. It came with the house. The old house. Things I have done or left undone in regards to that mower: Mice, hail, wind, cold, heat, blunt force trauma, rust, fog, snow, ants. I've never checked the oil, much less changed it. I have struck rocks with it and struck it with rocks. And yet it new-season started more easily this year than any other I can remember. I am given to love for things. I know this. Still. I may love the mower.

The yard, on the other hand, is another story. I have neglected it, and, even mowed, it shows.

Friends and fans of the abrupt and violent change of season, I could go on here at length in the eighty-degree single-digit April wind (with gusts surely into the 20 and 30 mph range), but I think that I instead must say: if you live west of the mountains, please call east to let us know what's still in your yard and what's in Oz. If you live here in the ANYLF viewing area, tarp down your mowers. Tie down everything else. The fancies are saying we may see see 60 mph straight-line winds, which would be plenty enough to take out deck chairs and bird feeders, to say nothing of trees and suspect roofs. It is nearly eight in the evening and the still-lit western sky is absolutely empty, but the radar looks nasty, and the probability matrix bullshit that the entity formerly known as the Weather Channel—have you seen that thing lately? Who do they think they are? Why does the weather have to get sexified? This is the beauty of the weather: It starts off sexy. It does not need more music than they used to inflict on it back in the glory days of, say 2003, when the mower was a little shinier and the Weather Channel was a little weatherier—anyway, the You-Are-Or-Were-Here DEFCON Death Star Duck-and-Cover 2011 SituStorm GraphiScare thing they have over there says we are lined up for a noisy night. A dog-in-the-bed night, and perhaps the first enaction (isn't that a word?) of the Scared-Toad-in-the-Bed policy, active only during active storms. We don't even know if he's scared of storms yet. But I have pushed for a policy just in case.

Let's let that be that. Eighty today. Sixty tomorrow. The space between those two numbers says the storms they're saying are coming must be coming. Y'all be safe out there on the Piedmont. Lock the windows so they don't rattle and bang and wake the babies. Once we get through tomorrow night's frost, the rest of the week looks positively springlike. I love a good storm. Knowing it's give or take my responsibility to keep the Toad from being hailed upon shifts that math around some, but I still do love a good storm.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Not Ours.

What is it Galvin says? So much wind for all this sky? No: I got it wrong. I'd remembered it that way, but it's what a small sky for so much snow; what little snow for so much ground. Failing that, it can be Perhaps you didn't realize/anything can happen under a sky like this. No matter: we're cool out there, the clouds are strange and foreign, and we're seeing all at once all the wind there is. No, this is not Wyoming, not the country of those above fragments, but it's where we live, and on a day like today, the size of the land—even with our trees to cut the horizon at a reasonable place, and even with those trees to break that selfsame wind—is making itself known. This wind is from somewhere else, somewhere far away. This isn't our wind. We've got weather that does not belong to us.

Here. Small Countries. Try that on for your Saturday. Watch for frost later on. Listen to the windows bang around in their frames.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Action Items.

Baseball. A chilly Friday. New green edging its way onto most everything out there but for the oaks. A yard in need of cutting. Flowerbeds overrun by hens and chicks or chicks and hens or dollarweed or nutgrass or whatever all this new spring invasion is every year. Past the halfway point on the latest revision. Six different colors of ink pens back there. The end of the morning fire. Kindling ready for tomorrow. Cardboard and scrap draft and matches.

Toad home from toadcare and sleeping, dog done barking out the front door and sleeping.

Pilgrims. The old joke about showers and flowers.

Maybe I can teach myself to tune a lawnmower. Maybe I can teach myself to flush a radiator. Maybe I can teach myself to pay the bills on time.

Sixty degrees this afternoon if we get fortunate and these clouds burn themselves out. Otherwise, we'll see that tomorrow, better than that on Sunday, and by Monday, we'll be riding the porches again. Needs: some new ballcaps, some new work boots. Cash money. Something in the pantry for supper. Wants: see the previous list. That and five o'clock and a cold beer and nowhere at all to be.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Now?

Tomorrow's high: 45. Thursday's: 47. With rain. Out like a what?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Snow.

You know what they want to give us overnight? Snow. And though the brand-new cherry tree is in bloom, and though the nearly-new cherry from last year is nearly in bloom, and though the daffodils are all but finished blooming, and though I had to dig through the laundry to find the one flannel shirt that has the right thickness, and though my good bad boots—as opposed to my good good boots, the ones I wear to fancy deals—broke today and ejected some piece of metal that was an integral part of the booting, leaving me without solid snow-weather boots for tomorrow's trek to the shed, and though I may not have enough lumber cut and ready for a snowy Monday's work, and though this runs a little against what I've been up to at the forecast the last few weeks while I've been begging for warmer weather, for some slide out of that long chilly winter, I will take it, I will take it, I will take it. I don't know why. It feels right. Maybe it's the temporary aspect of things—within weeks, if not days, it'll be spring again. Maybe it's that as ready as I was to give up January, I wasn't quite ready to give up January. August will be here so, so soon. Here is a little cold to take the edge off that, something late-breaking enough to remember. Here is one more good week to fire the woodstove, and one especially good morning to do so. The taxpaid fancies say any time between 4 and 11 a.m. is a good time to see snow. I love it. We're all the way to April and we pick up Boston's weather. God save them up there, I guess. If I was up there, this little song would have a decidedly more minor key. But I'm not. I'm here, in North Carolina, where Jim Clark says it always snows in March, and by god even on the heels of six days of eighty degrees he turns out to be right. Read your almanacs, people, and listen closely to your oracles. We've broken the weather and much of the world, but sometimes even something broken snaps back to what it was supposed to be all along. Sometimes that old truck out there starts on the first try. You never know. You do not ever know.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Late March.

That dread gray March I've been threatening all month is what we're due for the weekend: no real spread between the low and the high, and steady to near-steady rain. Our traditional mid-March weather sets in for late March. They're not yet forecasting a freeze, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some hand-wringing on the other side of whatever all this turns out to be. It comes every year: the trees bloom, we slide back towards winter. Coffee. Chili. Wine. Good beer. Crappy beer is for last week's weather, is for seventies and eighties. Good beer is for the November they want to drop down on us the next few days. I've tarped over the firewood, have designs on a Saturday morning built for writing instead of planting. The Toad sleeps. The novel cooks. It's slightly warmer right now than it was at sunset. Cloud cover will do that. We're about to see a lot of cold rain. Do not despair. Though we're late to this, we always, always do this. This is March. It's still March. It's about to look like it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Easy Days.

It's been eighty degrees so many days now that it feels like May. We're supposed to fix all of that in a flash-bang line of storms later on this evening that'll probably rattle the Toad from his sleep and us from our Toadsleeping couchbound stupors, but still: even the tulips are blooming. Too much, too soon, and I'll take it anyway, especially knowing that next week's forecast looks more like last week's should have—that cold winter set in for the long flight, somehow, inside my head, inside my knees, and I was in need of some kind of blazing weekend of hopeful too-hot weather. All the trees are budded over. The dogwood's about to bloom. The new cherry tree is on the edge of blooming, and the old one's right behind it. The lawn needs mowing. The flowerbeds need more weeding. All this fuss and work and still it does not matter up against the memory of the Toad sitting happily outside yesterday for lunch at the bar, in the breeze, banging his hands on the wrought-iron table like he'd rather do nothing else. In that moment neither springbreaked AMR nor I would have rather been doing anything else, either. Good weather and a nearly cold lunchtime beer will do that for you.

Sorry for the absence, friends and fans of weather, but that is how it goes mid-to-late novel and post-Toad over here at the forecast. If something important had happened—if we'd needed to tie down the porch furniture or drag the animals toward the cellar—I would have let you know. You can still count on the forecast in an emergency. And though you can still count on everybody over here at other times, too, you just can't count quite so fiercely or immediately any more. Sometimes we get to the end of a day that tops out around 81 degrees and full of songbirds, and it turns out that the whole staff—the interns on up to the managing editors—can't do anything but sit on the front porch and try to keep the dog from heading off on her own up the block. Sometimes that's what we've got left over here. Sometimes, I get the feeling, that's how it's going to be.

Do keep an eye to the skies out there tonight and overnight. If the forecast owes you one thing it is a forecast, and so: there seems a good shot at storms worthy of your attention, which is itself worthy of your attention. Here endeth the forecast.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Baby Steps.

Sweet baby Jesus in a tinfoil knapsack it's pretty out there. It's in the upper sixties and the carpenter bees are back and the forsythia is in full and utter bloom and the Bradfords are stinking up the place and the cherries are damn near ready to go and out the side windows here in front of the basketball tournament we are for the moment anyway cloudless—and the dude called, and he liked the thing, and he had some suggestions, and now I know what the next few weeks might look like, and if they look at all like this, we're gonna be fine. Hell—we might even get some sleep.

Tomorrow's supposed to be almost eighty. Lemon-buying weather. Can't be eighty degrees and not have lemons in the house.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tomorrow's Forecast.

That rain they were sixty-percenting and eighty-percenting us about is finally cranking up—we've had little spit-showers off and on since noonish, but now I'm hearing fat drops on the kitchen vent, hearing it on the deck out back. I've seen the radar, and I'd say it looked like it was going to set in, but things have been massing and then breaking back up all day. The radar's a handful of seeds somebody threw on the ground. This is perhaps what they mean when they say scattered showers.

The time change has got me fouled, has me waking up oddly, and we don't even have all the clocks changed over, so it may be one time upstairs and another downstairs. Hard to say. We keep this up through enough time changes and eventually it'll be last week upstairs and this week down here. We can sell tickets, let people walk upstairs and make important phone calls to their future selves. Don't send that email. Avoid the chicken. That kind of thing.

Little warmup coming. Little 10003 phone call coming. Little pasting-the-inside-of-my-head-back-together coming. Maybe I'll go upstairs and give myself a call and let me know how it goes. It'd be one hell of a way to predict the weather.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Downspout Route.

Weatherheads, yesterday it was spring, I swear. Today it is midwinter. Well, late winter. Let's not get crazy. It probably won't even go below freezing tonight. Still: If you're casting around for some thing—anything—to chew a morning through with, and what you've settled on is finally affixing the unfixed downspouts to the shed, then you'll want to engage in some modest layering. And, if you're sending screws through cedar siding, you'll want a pilot hole, but that is a story not even worth telling. Let's speak instead of the happy ease by which the downspouts got hung. The level and plumbness, depending. The downnness of the downspouts. The neat curve from the gutter back to the building, and then the easy trip to the ground. You may think you don't care about downspouts. You may think a thing like a downspout cannot be a thing of fixèd beauty. Fine. I do not need you to care. You step on outside in the same clothes you were wearing yesterday and see how far that gets you.

Tomorrow may be difficult. Fair warning. Tomorrow may not break fifty and it may be damp and misty and generally anti-dogwood. You will for sure and sure want a fire. But: do not despair. Not fully, anyway. The fancies want to give us back our seventies by Thursday and Friday, which makes a thing like a Tuesday seem a half-fair price to pay.

For right now, what we need around here is some music. I'll tell you that much. There's one last downspout to put up, and I don't think a quiet afternoon is going to be the way to go.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shurb Nurse.

You want remedies? Try these on for size: Wake up to an unmistakably crisp spring morning, temps bottomed down in the thirties but kicking and dragging and screaming toward fifty, toward sixty, toward more—and in a hurry. Make coffee, pack the Toad in the truck, pack the dog along for good measure, head out bundled up and windows down and into the rising sun, down 70 and toward the Geenabo Shurb Nurse, which is how it appears on my credit card statement each time it comes through. They can't type over at the shrub nursery, but they can grow, semiparadoxically, some trees.

One eight-foot-tall Mt. Fuji flowering cherry, please, and damn near for free.

The dog loves the truck. The Toad loves the truck. These things plus a giant tree laid into the bed and squeezed secure by the spare tire make it hard to care about much else, and let's face it: I'm still not sleeping or doing anything to improve or sustain any of my interpersonal relationships, but it is the weekend. Let us do what we can to let it be the weekend.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Extra Yet.

Facing a complete failure to do much other than sleep and eat and engage occasionally in stopgap personal hygiene, the kid filling in for the hero of this tale walks outside and lights one more fire, a too-big fire, sits in his dry shed and wonders what the hell. The sleeping and eating are going marginally well. The hygiene—who knows. There was a shower at some point in the last 24 hours, so let's name that success. That big rain yesterday pulled through right at sunset and left everything dream-lit there at the end of the day, a phenomenon we only get a handful of times per year, not counting pop-up afternoon thunderstorms, which we are not counting. We are talking full systems setting in and then spinning on back out, leaving behind them the bottom of the sky through which the sun might set, stirring things like belief and hope and optimism and any number of other false gods. You want golden calves? We got 'em, cheap. Let me go talk to my manager. I think we can make you a deal.

March tries on all the weathers for size. Today: November, but for the greener grass. Yesterday there were times when one could have believed it would never stop raining. Tomorrow: Upper sixties and sunshine and probably a little breeze full of blooming Bradford pears and whatever these low pink bushes are we have here in the Gate City. We have those. Been so long since I lived anywhere else that I can't tell you what blooms there. Daffodils in the deeper south used to bloom on my highschool girlfriend's birthday. Up here they bloom a little later. Seemed like a sign then, and it seems like a sign now. Just for different things.

I'm reading the book out loud. Again. I am in desperate need of a project. If I take out the 'yet' in the second sentence, will that mean the difference between glory and abject sniveling defeat? Of course it will. It always comes down to that one word. We would have published the book, dear reader, but we couldn't get past that extra yet.

Doves and squirrels on the ground below the feeder. House finches and titmice on the feeder proper. Some daffodils in bloom, others on their way. If the phone does not ring soon I shall surely die.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Get Ready.

Missed deadlines, dead telephones, low skies, empty bird feeders, threat of rain. This is a lament, a prayer for judgement. The bloom has been put on hold here in 2740X, though the yard, I saw this morning, is greening over anyway. This is the March I remember, that set-in thing hulking off in the corner. Yesterday, I hear, was beautiful, if cold, but it was only once the sun had gone down again that I realized I'd never gone outside. Not once. I missed it. The day came and went without me. The only things on the correct side of the ledger: fire in the stove this morning, and the first day I've had my ass in the chair since Friday, since I sent the book off to Oz. Maybe I'll rewrite that one scene at the go-carts, after the flying machines and the fetal doppler and the message from beyond. Or maybe I'll just sit out here and worry through the weather, bank the coals high enough to take a green log. There is this near-perfect piece of information about the stove: if it's above freezing, it takes less than an hour to warm this space, and needs no help from the through-wall. A week like this one and I'll take good easy news where it can be found.

The best cup of coffee is always the next one.

The problem with the novel: no warlocks, no werewolves, no portals in time, it's not set in pre- or post-war Armenia, it is not a retelling of a Carpathian myth, it does not bounce between multiple and competing points of view, it is not a commentary on race relations, it does not unearth some long-buried historical oddity, it does not imagine an alternative dystopian present or future, there are no covered wagons, there is/are only one or perhaps two quasibreathless scenes of sexual longing, its structure does not fold in upon itself like an origami soothsaying whooping crane, there is not a single mention of New York City, it eschews wizardry, it eschews still further vampirism. It is a story, semiplain and semisimple. Soon, mother, I will become famous. Somebody fit me for a proper suit. I gotta look fancy when I go on the T and V.

The darkness surrounds us, what can we do against it, or else.

If I am losing it, friends and fans of weather, which I may well be, then let's turn ourselves back to what we might can know, or try to know: that sky says rain. So does the humidity, which had my firestarting paper—the previous draft of the novel—a little pliable this morning, a little damp. I've cut enough wood for a cold afternoon, a cold night, a chilly weekend. We have just enough food in the house to where nobody has to go to the store today. The Toad knows nothing of crisis, shrieks and grins right through it. We have coffee. We're a little light on mead. It is Wednesday. It is March. That is a damn heavy sky out there.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cool Weather.

When the wind's not blowing, there's heat in the sun, but the wind seems mainly to be blowing, so. We are in bloom, we are leafing out, we are ready for some kind of sleetstorm. This is always and forever how it goes, no? March: it holds on and holds on, and it is only the single digits of March. We are not even approaching the ides. We are days off from whatever comes after that. I'm cooking a spring meal anyway: jambalaya and decent beer. Is there much else to report? There is not. There is abject hissing staticked radio silence. There is the inside of my head squeezing into the aisles, wanting to cut in line, trying to get out. There is the dog asleep on the sofa, and dreaming. There is the dog, to and from the vet, with about as clean a bill of health as a dog can get at 14 and change. There is a paler sky than yesterday. Tomorrow: about the same as today. Winter hats. Not ballcaps. Not fully crazy. Not yet.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dude Swiftie.

I'm going to have to go on and say this is a lot of rain. Half an inch so far easy, and probably more. We can hear it on the air vents for the kitchen exhaust. It's puddling back in the yard in the usual spots, and some of the less-usual. The Toad slept past eight. He and the dog: rainy day creatures. He's about to head down for a nap. The dog has already quit us. I may be about to, as well. It is the kind of day that makes you want to think about chili for later, or lasagna, or something that cooks a while without your need to keep an eye on it. Something that rewards a lazy sit-down with something to sip on. But for now? For now all I can work toward is one more cup of coffee, and the prospect of of this prospective nap. I have sent the novel to 10003. And this is not even the big deal. This is just the dude who might then send it to the dude. If he thinks the dude will like it. If he likes it. I mean, the dude is still a big dude. He's the original dude. Still. And still, I cannot sleep, cannot eat, cannot think straight, am struggling with simple mathematical functions. I cannot do much at all except for look up NOAA nautical charts (the novel has water in it/is taking on water) and stare at the wee numbers and signs and signals and hope for some kind of explanation to bubble up. To wash ashore. He said, tidally. He felt lost at sea. For whom is the funhouse fun? Perhaps for lovers. For Ambrose it is a place of fear and confusion.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Between Seasons.

We're clouding over here in the Gate City as we push toward afternoon, toward weekend. We're in some interstitial spot out there—we're not cool, but we're not warm. The buds on the dogwood out front are opening, but this might check them up a little bit. We are not spring and we are not winter. We are not even a real temperature: We're 53. That matters come September, when we get back those cool nights, but now? In the daytime? Ignore those blooming daffodils. This is a Friday that is not happening.

Or maybe it's me—maybe my head is so scrambled from having sent the new draft up to 10003 that it just feels like everything has ground to an utter and final halt. Sorry, marriage. Sorry, boy. Sorry, everybody. Goodnight, moon. I have been in an odd place these last tenish days. I had forgotten the frantic pace of that kind of revision, had forgotten what kind of physical tired drops down on you. It makes a body want for some very simple, lower-order things. Coffee. Sleep. Coffee.

And still the everyday things jangle in the background: We are in want, if not need, of a new cherry tree. Or I am. The basketball tournament is almost on us, which means its nearly time to mow the lawn, which means probably I should find somebody to tune this old mower and generally make apologies to it for having had to winter out of doors. The truck could use some looking at. Some aligning. Some carburetion. I looked it up. That's how it's spelled. Who knew?

Friday. It is Friday. That means something, I'm sure.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fault Line.

When is it that it shifts? Forever, you listen to the monitor, and when he cries, you think: Motherfucker. Go back to sleep. Do not wake up. Do not, do not. And then he does wake up, and you loathe him, and you seethe and boil and chew and bite and then you get him down and then you go back to whatever you think your life is, which is some manner of shell game one way or the other, and etcetera.

What the books do not mention is that for your ilk—the reluctant, the regretful, the where-the-hell-is-my-ex-life crowd—for your ilk, somehow, in spite of your best efforts, the kid may win you over—in part, OK? let's not make this some kind of Rudy of the babies—want another dash? I got 'em cheap over here at the forecast—where were we?—oh, hell, it comes to this: Now the Toad cries out in his goddamn sleep and my heart hurts because the kid is sad, for fuck's sake, and he's in there, and we're down here, and sure, he went back down right away, but he's got a cold, and he's a little off, and can't somebody just bring him the green stuffed corduroy dog, at least, so he knows he's not on the planet alone?

The Bradford pears are about to go. The woodpile is shrinking. Those early plums, or whatever they are, are blooming. These are the deep pink landscape-company trees, the ones at groceries and schools. We've got AMR's congratulatory tulips here on the kitchen table. We've got ants in through the back door, the surest sign there is that the planet tilts again, like always. I send, I think, the book to the guy tomorrow. One of the guys, anyway. Guy the First. Door number one. I am sleep-fried. I keep dreaming of these enormous multi-use eat-sleep-play developments. With Jeff Goldblum playing the dude at the guardhouse. Or my highschool girlfriend (hey, SRE, wherever you are). Or AMR's ex-boyfriend as the buddy in the buddy system on the tour bus, and the buddy system somehow involves maraschino cherries and that one girl from band (not the girlfriend, another girl) who played the something and who now has a kid, who (the kid) had a cold in the dream, and now the Toad has a cold, so there you are.

Chilly for a time. Storms on the weekend. The forecast is a little sporadic, but we are still live on the scene, OK? We are making an argument.

It smells like green out there. I'm just saying.