Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Front Through.

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

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fever Dream.

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Song.

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

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

Monday, June 21, 2010

Solstice, Anew.

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

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

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

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Late Update.

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

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Daily Storms.

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

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

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

Monday, June 14, 2010

Second Verse.

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

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

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

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Same Song.

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

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

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Storms Nearby.

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

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

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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Boy's Life.

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Boy, Walking.

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

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

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baby Boy.

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

Friday, June 4, 2010

Baby Boy.

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

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Keeping Watch.

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

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