Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oak Island.

Oh, 28465. AMR and I decamped for the half-week to the weather capital of the NC coast, apparently: if it wasn't 75-degree midday fog with 30 mph winds, then it was calm and crystal clear at 80 degrees, and if it wasn't either of those things, it was almost any possibility in between. Weather in hard off the south-facing beach and variable by the hour. The one thing we did not see was rain during the day, which left us with three days on the beach the forecast had said we did not deserve. Would I pack the car up again and head 28465ward again right now? Oh hell yes I would back up the car again and drive those four hours right now. Even if the daylilies out front are starting to bloom. Even if the dahlias out front are starting to bloom. Even if I'm supposed to be tethering myself to the desk and writing. Give me the beach chair and a book that's not the one I'm meant to be writing, please. Give me vacation for the rest of my days. Or at least the next few more.

In water-in-the-basement news, the rain gauge out front here at 709 said 2.2 inches. We're awaiting confirmation from TLK, who did report midweek on a tin-roof-caliber storm, and there were traces of water in the basement, and the tomatoes did grow a foot or so, but two inches? Really? Here's hoping that's no lie. Takes us over six for the month. Pushes the edges of that drought even further back from the edges of 27401.

Home again, home again. First time we've come back home to 709 where it felt like home, instead of somebody else's house. Still: I could sit on the beach right now. I could do that instead of trying to figure when to mow the lawn. Yes I surely damn well could.

For 27401: Front seems to have pulled through. Dryish out there this morning. Blue sky. Green everything. Little breeze. Sun in every corner. Maybe a little something tomorrow afternoon. For now, end of May the way you'd hope for it, if you were so inclined.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Pattern.

If you don't like the weather, just wait... a week, apparently. Whatever that thing was in Florida last week seems to have torn itself asunder and stalled and coughed and hacked itself into whatever this is that's now give or take covering most of the square footage from Missouri to here, and the cold front that was coming our way has given up and hung itself across Kentucky, and so this is what we get, and what we're going to get for the next several days: Cloud cover high and low, humidity like a terrarium, the good chance of storms and showers basically all the time, and better than that in the afternoons. Summer, rainforest-style. You could cut your lawn three times this week and it'd still be a foot tall. That sort of deal. From quite far away, it looks like this:

From up close, though, it looks gray and green, daylilies right on the edge of exploding all up and down the street, impatiens happy, sky trying to rain. Seventy-five degrees in the shade of the front porch. Thick. Still. Muggy as all living hell.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Shave.

Last night, at the ballgame, sitting in front of me: a kid, 21 or 22 years old, with a leatherbound copy of collected Shelley. He was reading from Hellas.

This morning, early: dropped the dog off to get her summer shave, and even though we'd run the fan all night, and even though I'd slept reasonably well, and reasonably cool(ly?), standing there in the Dog Days parking lot, seven-thirty sun working its way over the asphalt, I could tell it was indeed time for all of us to think about getting our summer shaves.

Hey, May. Just in time for June.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cloudy Morning.

We seem to have a little something skating in here, but it's hard to say what it is or where it might be from: Northern edge of the ark-building system in Florida? Natural result of it no longer being 48 when we wake up in the mornings? Fog that got trapped under tomato leaves five days ago?

The weather's changing. We're headed back towards something a little less comfortable, something that might make a little more sense.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Early Storm?

I just want to say that what's going on in Florida looks like a tropical system. Doesn't it?

Wee Tragedy.

Already back below 70 degrees and not yet seven o'clock. Well and good, friends. Nine heirloom tomatoes in the ground, two okra, two squash, three peppers, a bit of an herb garden. None of that will grow in temperatures like this, but let's just count the week's labor against what will have to be the still slow overheated nights to come. It can be hot so long as I get my tomatoes, I suppose.

No clouds in sight from here on the back deck. Birds and mowers all around. Grass getting long again, which is what happens. Dog asleep behind my chair. Wind still up, but calming. You can feel us trying to pull back toward spring.

In Very Slight Panic News,the little computer upon which the novel was composed, and upon which I figured all other novels etcetera, because I do not understand (a) technology or (b) the passage of time, is making a kind of wheeze when one, ah, how shall we say, turns it on, uses it, or passes it closely when walking into the room. It also is doing a kind of gentle but certain oscillation between varying levels of brightness, moving from just-too-bright-to-use to slightly-too-dark-to-see. Also there are sometimes lines on the screen, vaguely reminiscent of the I-dropped-my-graphing-calculator-would-you-please-buy-me-a-new-one-for-Mrs.-Newell's-calculus-class sort of lines. I have not dropped the computer, but I did turn it off in December, move it here to 709, and then crank it back up today (the last several revisions of the book have been on the fancy J. Crew U. machine, on account of its ability to use the internets, and to print on a printer not run by 17th-century monks). It's not an emergency. I have other computers. But it is probably dead. Or dying.

I just really, really liked that machine for first drafts. You could hit the hell out of the keyboard on that thing. You sort of had to. And I've been thinking maybe about a new first draft. Of something new.

So I spent the afternoon figuring out how to load my 12-year-old pixellated first-draft font onto a newer machine. It's an antique of sorts, too, but it can plug into the kind of internet cable that now comes out of our internets. There is that. I will not have to rely on a disk—they do not even make them any more, I don't think—to move drafts from machine to machine-that-can-email to this machine. But I'm still not sure I can write on the new(er) one. We may be looking at some Uniballs and a stack of legal pads. We may be looking at one more item to list on the 'crazy' side of the ledger. There's a second side of the ledger, I guess, but I don't know what it's called. 'Less crazy,' perhaps.

I have a thing where, druthers-wise, I'd rather not do early drafts on this J. Crew machine. I like to get my drafting world separate from all things J. Crew when at all possible.

So that's the sports. Let's do weather: warming up through the end of your week, friends and fans of shockingly banal Macintosh blog shite. Chance of rain as we head into the weekend. Cooler than you'd expect. We'll crack 80 again here soon enough, but cooler than you'd expect. Water your gardens: all this wind will soon enough undo all that rain.

Macintosh enthusiasts: half a step away from LARPers, I fear. I am now casting a +12 spell on myself.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Winter Cap.

Mid to upper fifties and a hard wind out of the east and north. Probably 20 mph gusts. Does one use a term like wind chill in May? One does if one is deliriously happy to be front-porched with dog and beat-up ancient corduroy shirt and winter cap. Here's who else is deliriously happy: dog. So what if there's a looming jaunt out to Popped-Collar Polytechnic this noon? There's the promise of a second dogwalk later on, when, even if the day warms itself past winter caps this afternoon, winter cap weather may arrive again this evening. They want 41 degrees tonight. Forty-one. Oftentimes, at graduation (coming to a keenly manicured lawn near you this Saturday, May the whatever, at nine-thirty in the a.m.), it's ninety-one by the time we've worked from Alexander A. Aarminton to Xavier Y. Zarathustra. That, for those of you still warming up for one last math problem, is a fiftyish-degree difference. Show your work, please.

May has been deeply odd. Schizophrenic at times. All the seasons all at once. Like somebody let a toddler into the control room. I had myself convinced that yesterday was nice. Today, though, is nicer. Take long, long lunch breaks, friends and fans of the last cool day. I'm not promising it is—the last one, that is—but it's May. Even all bent and backwards, this could still be the last one.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Minor Triumphs.

Wired the kitchen for sound.

Thanks to Jared of the Friendly Center Radio Shack, wired the living and dining room speakers in series. Turns out you can do that.

Had goat cheese for breakfast.

Made the fancy chicken-tomato-olive-celery-potato roast for dinner.

Dragged certain winter clothes back out for one last mid-May cameo.

Watched it rain in such a lovely tomatoes-in-the-ground way.

Watched the temps aim themselves for the forties.

That, friends and fans of suburban accomplishment, is a Sunday.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Afternoon Storms.

Live from the edge of a thunderstorm out here at Sundress State University at Greater Whitsett, and from a final I thought would take about an hour and a half, but which has three-quarters of the class still frantic 165 minutes in. Whoops. That's why they shouldn't let the writing hacks teach the literature courses.

It's been an odd, timeless day, the capper on an odd, timeless week, and here I sit in the hospitalized fluorescents and the technology-in-the-classroom hum of whatever they've got shacked away there behind the half-sized closet door next to the spaceship console that has something to do with playing DVDs or doing the PowerPoint, and just out the window there is this little storm, the clouds white-yellow instead of gray, the top of a dogwood getting rattled by pea-fat raindrops. If I was in these kids' chairs instead of mine, I'd turn in whatever I had and go out and stand in it.

It's not just us, by the by: it's everywhere. Here's as pretty a radar as you'll ever see:

There may be a homeworkless weekend on my horizon. There is surely the prospect of hanging the Do Not Disturb up on the work email here shortly. There is the idea of cracking the door on that shed out back once more. The prayer of another book, or at least a new paragraph. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though:

Weekend forecast—more rain, then cooler.

Lone certain weekend plan—consider beginning to perhaps look for what might become the floor in the new shed.

Best not to aim for too much more than that. Not right here at first.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Graduation Time.

There are times when it feels like the weather is going to keep happening, no matter what, every day.

Here are the particulars: Some kind of something is trying to pull itself together as it tracks east off the mountains and 709ward. I'd love it. Crack the windows and listen to it rain from, say, 1-3 a.m.? Certainly. Another day where it wasn't hot? Certainly. I feel like even if all this is seasonal, I remember other seasons where we were firmly and entrenchedly into the nineties by now. I remember Carr Street mid-Mays of brutal heat, of fetid afternoon humidity, of the looming doom of June and July. But this May, this time around, this year, is so lovely, so benign, so friendly—let me not jinx it by going on. Let me say only that of late, when it comes to this point in the night, wherein I would not so much mind maybe three icecubes and a mint leaf (said mint recently pilfered from Carr Street, in fact, from the same stand Thunderbird planted before she bolted town, may we forever celebrate her name and deeds) and a bit of whiskey—and let me say that in fact I am, as they say, fixing to have said mint and ice and whiskey—what has happened to this sentence, friends and fans of weather? of syntax? of subject-verb agreement? of held-together, cogent thought?—

What I mean to say is this and this alone: Weather like this makes me start, around this time of night, whiskey aside, to fantasize about morning coffee. As I write this very sentence AMR is grinding the grounds. And I thought I liked the sound of the train best.

Mint. Coffee. May. About damn time to graduate. I get to every year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Disaster Day.

Me, on the lawn: But why is the story from the point of view of a large-mouthed bass?

Student: You don't understand the metaphor.


Me, at home: [various dickish asides]

AMR: What the hell is the matter with you? Aren't we meant to be married? And friends?


The weather was astonishing today. I was not. Tomatoes in the ground: Today's lone accomplishment. I'm mailing this last hour in. I'm sorry for everything. Cloud cover. Not as cold as it could be. Colder than it should be. Windows open. The end.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Completely Undeserved.

Last day of classes, and we never even think about seeing 80 degrees? A sign from the gods, sure and certain. Drag somebody off towards the volcano, please. Somebody who has not had much of the sex. Throw him in. See if we can't get a few more days like this.

And we can: The fancies say cooler than it seems like we deserve through the end of the week, a little rain here and there, and definitely not the July we were getting two weeks ago during the nephewstravaganza. A little April here in May. Is it me, or are the months a little out of whack?

Last day of classes, last day of classes. I need it. My brainpan's pretty well emptied out. I have drawn the narrative triangle as many times as it can be drawn. I have explained the line between sweet and sickly sweet once too often. I have begged for plot too much, have begged for character more than that. I am ready for the space in between, for a landscape with nobody on it doing nothing. No plot, no character. Turns out the kids were right all along. We don't need either of 'em. Easier to end the day with a cool breeze drifting in through the kitchen windows, a train whistle drifting in behind that. But then that's plot, isn't it? That train's headed from and to, no? And who's aboard? Shit and shit. Plot and character. There ain't no way to hide your cryin' eyes. Or is it lyin'? It's one of them truncated-g words.

I am spent. Lo, I am slain. Give me the morning, please, the porch and the dog and only seven thousand conferences to prepare for. Give me sun and upper fifties. Give me reason to wear a flannel shirt once more, and the reason to peel out of it before the coffee's done. Give me that and I don't need liberty or death. Or cash on the barrelhead. Or shelter.

Train's not whistling any more, but you can still hear it fine from here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Systems Down.

There was no forecast over the weekend, friends and fans of timeliness, and for that we here on the ANYLF staff apologize. A quick recap, though, for those of you just tuning in: Friday: warmish. Saturday: hot, but then a lovely little afternoon/evening storm, and kind of a classic—noise and a little rain here, as it built, and then what looked radar-wise like semi-scorched earth out east as that thing put itself together. Yesterday: fall. Like magic. All damn day on the porch grading Moby-Dick exams (Abab crazy; whale mean; Ishamel not much of a narrator; Starbuck and Stubb on boat, too) in a light breeze and liquid sun and mid-seventies. Today: November. 54 and raining. We probably won't be able to pull ourselves out of the sixties. Long sleeves and a ballcap, please. Jeans. Resoled rain boots. Coffee and coffee. This would be the famous TLK winter, I do believe, except that we usually have to have June for that, and also my TLK Winter Alert System was damaged in Saturday night's TLK Gallons-O-Sake Festival of Terrible Excess. We've got people working on that, though, and if we can get it back up and running by the end of the day, we may have an official TLK WinterWatch announcement. For now, bundle up, and remind yourself that Yes, Virginia, it is still May, and that we'll have tomato-growing weather by end-of-week. And in case you're wondering—in case you're standing in your window, frowning, trying to decide whether or not this thing we've got going on out there today is beautiful: it is.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Clearing Skies.

They're saying there's a chance for a stray thunderstorm, and I'll go on and say it, too: Here's the sun for the first time in days, and all that lingering sogged-in rainfall has it feeling almost sticky out here, nearly humid but not quite, a kind of chance-for-a-stray-afternoon-thunderstorm kind of thing. I wouldn't rule it out. That's what all them suited-up fancies always say on the lunchtime news. I wouldn't rule it out. But I'd say there's about an equal chance that you'll hear lawnmowers by the end of the day.

Lesser spring wonders: Clover blooms. Goldfinch arrival. Those tiny translucent moth-gnats that swarm themselves into circles in the evenings. The three-wheeled motorcycle I saw on the way in to the U. yesterday.

Lesser spring miracle: I found my sunglasses. Possible locations: anywhere. Actual location: Beneath several dirtyish articles of clothing in the truck seat.

Lesser spring weather: This is not yesterday's fog and storms, but it's good. Go outside, people, while the going's good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good Fog.

This morning's fog seems about right, seems congruent with the one in my head, a lingering suspicion that something's still coming, that all of this, whatever it is, is not yet finished. The Steeple-O-Meter out the back kitchen windows reads about 70% occluded, but some of that has to do with the maple and pecan trees all leafed out in front of it, so let's set things at a nice round 50%: You can see about half of what you should be able to see today.

An enormous benefit of the roofed front porch is the chance to sit in a chilly evening, wind drifting the wrong way as it gets sucked into the building storm, listening to it rain hard out there on the front walk, on the magnolia leaves, on the grass, and listening to the center of the storm ride itself just to your north, thunder and lightning and none of the accompanying concern. It is increasingly apparent that in order to survive the days around here, some of us need to sit a while on the porch in the evenings.

And what is there to survive? We are not surgeons, are not firefighters, are not diplomats negotiating the release of political prisoners. My days drop me down into classrooms where I say, This poem about Adam Duritz, he of the Counting Crows, may not have quite enough at its center. There perchance may not yet be enough at stake, as we say, in your love of the nineties semi-smash indie hit The Rain King.

It is maybe just this time in the semester. There are other times when I am fully saddled up and ready to explain in whatever language it takes what art might be, and what it might not be, and on top of that, even, why we might care. But I am not saddled this week. Or last. I am feeling a little bit defeated. I have a class right now that I love, a room in which maybe even half the kids give a damn. But I also have some seniors who will not give a shit, and some sophomores who don't know how. I'm working on a new beginning-of-semester speech, one that will trace itself along some kind of "Care more about all this or get the hell out" kind of arc. But that's for next fall. For now, I am wanting only to watch the clock on the wall spin its arms through and get me back home in the evenings to my porch, my dog, the prospect of a late dinner with AMR at this refinished dinged-up kitchen table. I am wanting to watch the storm. Failing that, I am wanting to watch the fog.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

West, South.

Still coming. Beautiful. Hard rain overnight, dog on the bed, coming up on an inch and a half total since yesterday. We've had fog much of the afternoon, and we've got storms on both sides: fiercer out east, but trying to build back west, too, so don't get all shocked if it starts crashing and banging again.

And it's just now started raining again, a little storm that's not even on the radar yet. This is the kind of weather we've got on our motivational posters here at ANYLF. They're all up and down the hallways. Keeps morale up.

The fancies give us a good shot at more of this tomorrow. Yes, please.

Monday, May 4, 2009

South, West.

Look out that way. Looks like rain. More later, after the fact, of course.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

For Pleasure.

It is hard to believe it did not rain yesterday, even though it did. Before noon, sitting on the porch, reading Frederick Barthleme's Waveland, I did in fact hear it rain, did in fact see wet drops on the concrete things that extend from the porch and frame the steps. Those things have certainly got to have architectural names. We haven't time for that sort of responsible learning right now, though, children. What we must speak about is how after it technically did rain, it did not rain.

Which is only and all to say that following rain so wee I hesitate even to call it a trace, there was that summer smell all afternoon yesterday, a smell of near-desperation, wherein one knows that it could rain, that everything has lined up nearly right, but that it will not rain, that one will have to run the sprinkler anyway. Today's smell, young people, is not the same smell. Stick your noses out your front doors and take it in. Register. Catalogue. Even though it may not rain today, either (though a quick check of the radar says roll up the windows in the car, pull closed those west-facing ones on the house), you will see that today's smell is of a different, more wanton sort: it is raining somewhere, tantalizingly close by, even, and it may hold together long enough to get here. That is a different smell.

It has I think possibly been a full academic year since I read at one sitting a novel of my own choosing for pleasure and for no other purpose. It was magnificent. The book was pretty damn good, too, one of Barthleme's best, full of stuff he always, always does, but richer this time, somehow, righter. And my god how he notices the tiny things: "...the pleasures of toast, the pleasures of hot sunlight, of the dark scent of wet dogs, of summer nights, of the crush of sudden thunder, the warmth of winter socks, the surprise of skin indented by furniture."

We have just now gotten those darkening drops on the porch things again. Another trace. Keep it tuned here, or out your own front doors, to see what's next.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Good Storm.

Chased a thunderstorm in to J. Crew U. today—it dumped at least a quarter of an inch in about fifteen minutes in Greensboro, and got fiercer as it rolled east. Dog unhappy, smashing her face against AMR during the height of it there at 709. Beautiful riding in on the tail of it, though, sun turning the whole thing a blackened purple and the new pale greens of the oaks flashing against it. These are not really sentences. Doesn't matter. End of a frustrating week out here at the two-ring circus, and now that sharpest of pleasures: skipping a meeting to drive back west. May everybody out here get assigned to ad-hoc committees. May I drink a beer on the porch.