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.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mile Markers.

The light's changed. We're greener out there, and yellower. We've maybe come out of (the temperature now or next week notwithstanding) that flat winter white. The trees are budded out, the maples are blooming, we suddenly have several hundred more birds in the yard—those waxwings cleared on and out to wherever waxwings go, and in their wake the neighborhood is full of other songbirds, of wrens, of robins, of whatever all else settles in here for the season, hangs on for the summer.

About time to go to the prison farm to buy ferns for the house finches.

We were chilly today, though not too cool to take the Toad and the dog out to the back porch for an evening sit down. They do love themselves some breezes. We're supposed to see sixties tomorrow, and then we temper things some, remind ourselves that the cherry trees haven't even bloomed yet, that the dogwoods are close but not yet there, that there's no color yet in those azalea buds. It always gets cold again, people. Often enough it rains and hangs onto it for a week or more. Baseball is cold well into April. We are getting closer. We are. But we have things to do first.