Monday, June 27, 2011
I cannot tell you about the little brown bird with the few flecks of white on his wing, the bird that settled here, weary of flight, as the weather hinted of warmer days coming, to build this nest, woven by beak and foot, lined with the feathers that had kept him warm not days before.
I cannot tell you how this small bird preened and strutted until the just right paramour settled to his side, inspected his handiwork in the nest, and tweeted an I Do, or at least an I Will for the season.
I cannot tell you of their terror as the nest on it's limb heaved and swayed in the howling winds of one storm after another, some in the darkness of a night that seemed without end, some in the gray and green of an afternoon blow that irreparably altered the lives of man and beast just a short flight across the way.
I cannot tell you of the shells that opened and the one that didn't, or how the both were pushed over the stemmy nest's edge, in each their time, to flutter and fall to the ground below where bug and worm awaited a free meal.
I cannot tell you of the endless stream of bugs and worms delivered from beak to gaping maw as hatchlings grew to fledglings until finally, the one morning, with feathers grown and untested, the two pushed the three over the side, and the five fluttered apart to meet no more.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
So I spoke with Danger. For the last year, he has worn Vibram Five Fingers. At first, I thought he was caught up in a fad, but when he had his physician write a letter to the Air Force to endorse Danger wearing the Vibrams during PT, I suspected more was up. After a chat, I went with that feeling.
He came up to visit last Sunday, and after lunch, we went over to try some on. At $100 a pair, I wasn't interested in learning by trial and error. I'm glad I took him, because I might have never pulled them on my feet without him. He first told me some of the tricks. He also repeated that the first time was the hardest.
I worked up a sweat that day putting on those shoes.
He and I walked about three miles that afternoon. He was in his pair as I think he wears nothing else anymore. For the rest of the week, I wore them a couple of hours at a stretch for two or three times a day, depending on the day. I (usually) walked a couple of miles each time I wore them.
Yes, it takes some getting used to being in them. If you're a runner, and you're enamored of the barefoot running thing, take a couple of weeks to let your feet grow accustomed to them. You really are going barefooted in the Vibrams, and that means not only are different muscles at work, but the entire foot and leg dynamic is different.
Your stride is going to shorten. You're not going to land and roll over your heel and onto your toes as you do in regular shoes. Your forefoot is going to carry more weight and apply more pressure as your step. The jarring that you feel now and that you're running shoes absorb will (mostly) disappear. Your arch is going to become a shock absorber.
So, big fellow, if you cannot run five miles barefooted now, you might want to wait a couple of weeks before trying it in the Vibrams.
Now, one thing. They look different. If you're sensitive to wearing something that looks different, these shoes are going to be a problem for you. I value function over form by whopping amounts, and they could look like shark fins for all I care, just as long as there's a chance my feet will feel better.
Let me be clear: I do not give a rat's bohuncus what they look like.
Yes, that's a battle scar on the one shin from a brief encounter some over 20 years ago.
By them looking so different, people are going to want to talk to you about them, just like when I wear the kilt, especially on airplanes. (Just how many times have you had a complete stranger walk up with a smile and ask you, quite seriously, about your underwear?) I can only imagine what's going to happen when I wear them both.
Now, you might be wondering just how well I like them. That's a fair question. I think they're going to work for me, and while they are pricey as shoes go, they're about right for good running shoes, and Danger runs everywhere in his now. Let me answer you this way: I went out yesterday to get a second pair so I can rotate to let them adequately dry. (That's good form with all running shoes.)
And yes, I can put them on now as quickly as any other pair of shoes. My toes are learning their places, and they're also learning that they can move independently. That's a good thing to feel again. Even Bigger Bunion appears to have it's on place in these shoes.
My only sadness here, if I have a sadness at all, is that Zappos.com does not carry these shoes, not yet, anyway.
Oh yes, the model. Komodo Sport. I chose it because (1) that's what Danger wears, and (2) the name made the protracted adolescent in me giggle.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
So there you go. I do not need to fixate on this mess. Time for a change, a small one, a walk, if you will.
I wander one of my usual paths that includes a brush again the NCSU campus as it expands to consume an office park. The landscaping is generally poor, about what you'd expect from an erstwhile office park, but a little different because we expect a university to exist for a very long time, not just the decade or so of most businesses.
Here is the glimmer of hooe I found over by Brickhaven. Yes, an odd name.
First, a patch of cone flowers. (I always think corn flowers.)
Echinacea, by it's formal name. Make some tea, and get well. Boost your immune system. This plant will thrive here with little or no maintenance for a very long time. Or so I do hope.
And then some lilies. It's hard to go wrong with lilies. Yes, I should know.
This one is a little pink mixed with several other colors that look different in the rendering, a kind of yellow and purple this morning. It's a go with me. Plant more.
Then of course, we have the usual yellow. After typing that and fetching more coffee, I find myself perplexed. Why would I think of yellow as the usual color of a lily? Orange is the usual color, at least of the day lilies. These are not day lilies, however. They're tiger lilies, I think, a more expensive variation.
I like these yellow lilies, whatever they really are, and I'm glad to see them in a thick bed. So many people plant these fine cultivars as specimens in a garden. They do far better in masses and beds. I suspect that's because they are social, if not extroverted, in nature.
And as you know, it's important to find beauty in many things, not just the ostentatious. I believe we have here a sighting of the rare and oh-so-splendid Space Alien Antennae Sand Orchid.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
This weekend, I checked again, and this time, there was no nest. I assumed the recent afternoon storms had blown it down, and I started a spiral search pattern centered on the spot directly under the spot on the bough where it had been. A few minutes later, I had spiraled to the center, but had not found the nest.
It was a small nest, and the wind had blown hard. It seemed reasonable that it had blown far away.
Then I looked directly down.
Exactly straight down from it's original perch.
Need a nest?
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Many of us use humor in some manner or another, and a few of us, not me, get paid to do it on stage before lots of people. Redd Foxx had some outlandish observations about the white people paying so much money to listen to a man of color, though that's not exactly how Redd phrased his depiction of race, speak so harshly and critically to them.
The thing is that a good many truths are told in jest, and we need more jest in this world, though one celebrated jester, Twain, was certain that only the dead could tell the harshest truth, which is why he had the War Prayer released posthumously.
So Morgan got all carried away, and he engaged some harsh homophobic rant that was, he hoped, going to be funny. He was in the zone, and we know he had no script. He was making it up as he went. This is how art works, especially the good stuff. The sad thing is that he went too far, even for Tracy Morgan, and now half the country is up in arms.
A part of me feels sorry for the man, and not for the reason you expect. He leaned too hard on that raw part of him from whence flows his art, and he pulled out too much of the wrong thing. If you've been around me, you witnessed similar, though in my case, we can usually hug it out, get some lunch, and move on with our relationship on even firmer ground.
Tracy can't hug this one out.
I'm not sure how you hug out offering to stab your son upon learning that he's gay, especially in this unnecessary season of gay suicides.
The thing is that Tracy could have made a riotous show from describing his son coming out, especially if he explored the likely conflicted emotions he would feel as a father. A black father. A black father with extended family and strong maternal influence. Of course, Tracy's son, if he even has a son, is probably not gay, and even if he were, we wouldn't be seeing him coming out any time soon, so Tracy can't really explore those emotions with any basis in a conflicted reality that would give rise to the healing humor.
Meanwhile, we all need to lighten up a little. Just imagine if Tracy's some came out as republican.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Well, that was really the second pint, the one in the fancier glass, but I won't tell if you won't.
I followed with a bowl of tomato bisque, and on the second sip, I was in love, a love that remained unrequited because of the follow-up cup of spinach and mushroom dip that I slathered all over the olive oil drenched chunks of bread.
I might think The Rocket was flirting with me, except that I know better. Besides, I didn't recognize the sign on the wall from the wrecked race car. It had only hung there since the beginning, and I saw it for the first time tonight. More likely, I'll be washing dishes at this rate.
Then came dessert. Naner pud'n. I rarely order naner pud'n because it's always, and I do mean always, a disappointment. No one, not a soul living or dead, has made naner pud'n right since my grandmother, and I see no reason to set myself up for the sadness.
With the first taste, I figured I was hallucinating. Second taste, nope. This is real. I called over The Rocket and accused her of stealing my grandmother's recipe. She denied the accusation. She denied channeling my grandmother. She then shifted the blame to Nicole, and I professed my need to marry Nicole on the spot, or at least beg for the pud'n's hand in mariage. My need went characteristically unmet.
Shortly, I unwillingly lifted my face from the cup.
I should have gone to the dentist earlier for those crowns I need. Then, I could have eaten the bowl too.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
He arrived early enough to have lunch with Bro, Buck, and Granny at Toot's. I'm thinking next time it'll be some decent BBQ, probably Stephenson's or Holt's Lake, if not Smithfield's or Swan's, but we survived, and Toot's is about the last place we can take Granny at this point. Not to worry, someone rearranged the dining rooms, and it took some negotiation to get Granny seated. However, once that was settled, she ate, and even slammed down the large piece of chess pie that I brought her. She giggled when I wondered if she'd remember what to do with this. Oh yeah, it was gone before I turned around.
After we sent everyone home, Danger and I went to Bro's even with Bro at work. I wanted to cruise around the bell tower and museum a little.
We started with the old hen house.
Please note that this is not the hen house Tink tied me to all those many years ago, and also note that I did not tie Danger to this hen house. Even after so much time, it just doesn't seem prudent to tie someone to a hen house and ask them to drag it to the woods. However, I'm sure Tink had his reasons, even if my mother did not understand them.
With the hen house behind us, Danger decided to ring a bell.
Ringing the bells this time of year presents a clear and present danger. Wasps. Not the red ones because they are hard to rile, but the yellow ones because they will eat you up just for the sport. There's also the business of the local constabulary taking exception to unscheduled bell ringing, but that's another matter. In this instance, neither danger presented itself.
Just so you know, the bell tower is forever immortalized, right down to the elevation. Tink and Addie were beside themselves then the federalies came out to install this marker.
This is the house that Tink and Addie built. Bro had lifetime rights to live in it, and I wonder if he could claim that right now, but we'll never know. Besides, it'd cost a fortune to heat and cool that thing now. Insulation didn't exist when it was built, and the foundation is piles of sandstone rocks that you can't see unless you crawl under it. Yes, this is the self same house that Tink offered me 50 cents to crawl under to fetch back a dead cat that was stinking up the kitchen. I wouldn't do it, and he made a production of telling me how the mostly blind fellow down the road had earned that 50 cents with a smile.
If you look closely, you'll see the back steps to the house. This is where Tink said Uncle Lon fell because he was drunk, and the ax he was carrying cut his neck. My mama tells another story, one in which Tink and Lon are arguing, and Tink pushed Lon down the steps. The coroner bought Tink's explanation, probably because Lon was the county drunk.
We called this structure a barn, but Tink and Addie called it a house. Tink was born in that house. It's full of snakes now. The two open spaces are where they parked the car and the truck. Think snakepit.
This pond did not exist when Tink was alive. It was built after all the land was sold out of the family at public auction. Tink was always thinking of the family like that, and he didn't want the corruption of money to burden us. We farmed the field in front of the pond. The pond stands where a large copse of woods once existed. I hunted in those woods, rabbits and squirrels. Tink never did appreciate me shooting his squirrels. He said he liked to watch them play in the trees. What you don't know is that he was blind. The pond and surrounding land now belong to the son of the neighborhood drunk. The boy made good in construction, and he's now on his second wife. The first one cost him a cool million to divorce. Truth.
For the record, Tink's estate settled for some over a million after Addie died. My inheritance was the half bottle of Mennen shaving lotion that Tink had not finished. Bro got a pocket knife, the one with the broken blade.
Out of curiosity, we open the well house. The roof is about rotted, but I lifted it without breaking too much. Danger took this picture. He was taken aback when I told him it was still a working well. During storms when we lost power for days, this is the well we used. A nylon rope and bucket are still there. We did not draw any water.
The electric pump for the well sits just behind the wall. I replaced that pump years ago using knowledge I might have forgotten now. Let's hope, anyway. My mother will tell you that in her opinion, which is not all that humble, the greatest invention in this world is the electric water pump. You spend a week pulling every drop you use out of a well, and you might agree.
For a year, I lived with Bro in Tink and Addie's house. I was teaching Physics and Computer Science at Enloe High School in Raleigh while studying for a Master's in Science Education AND teaching a pair of night classes in the community college. Despite all that, we could not afford the fuel oil to heat the house, and I bought two wood heaters from Lowes and spent my spare time cutting wood. In this next picture, you see the repair that someone did to the chimney after I moved. We needed a better flue, and I cut a hole with a hammer and chisel so we could install a sheet metal flue.
No, we didn't burn the house, but I'm not sure why not. Danger is pointing to the repair job on the chimney.
Tink and Addie's will left some over a quarter million endowment to support the house, bell tower, and museum. They also left a provision whereby the trustees could spend the principle of the trust for necessary repairs. Little or no endowment is left now. I doubt that surprises many people.
I'm glad a little good remains of that part of the world. These day lilies grew in abundance decades ago. Although they still stand and deliver, they do not fill the ditch as they did. Granny did not like these flowers. She called them grave yard lilies. Let's not tell her that this is another point on which we disagree.
At some point, Tink finally died. The neighborhood was devastated. We held his funeral in the Pleasant Grove Primitive Baptist Church. That's right, Primitive. No AC. It was summer. The was one rose on the casket, according to Tink's instructions, which were followed to the letter by Addie, who had said earlier that he looked so stern in the end. There's a running joke in the family quoting that line. Because of the devastation in the neighborhood, only three or four people attended the funeral, outside the family, and the men in the family had carry Tink to his grave. I stumbled going down the steps, and bobbled the casket. I suspect Tink's hat fell off.
Contrast that with my grandmother's funeral in the same building just a very few years earlier. That day, you could not get within a quarter mile of the church because of the people standing shoulder to shoulder wondering just how would this world continue with the loss of a living saint.
Decades earlier, I had been spending time with my grandparents during the summer. They were working under the shelter while I explored the stuff, and I found a marble grave marker. When I asked, they told me of Loa, their first born who had died as an infant. Grandmother had planted a magnolia tree because they couldn't afford a stone. Later, they managed to get a stone, but then the tree grew and pushed it aside.
The tree is now gone, and the marker has returned, sinking into the ground with Loa. I do not know who put it there.
So here I am, a visit from Danger in progress, and I'm dragging him through all this old mess. Why? To punish the boy? No, people need to know their history, both the good and bad, especially the bad given how so many embellish the truth out of reason and proportion. Does it stick? Does it make a difference? I'll let others be the judge of that.
I only offer a single observation. Not a hundred yards from that church, some many years ago, I held Danger's vision quest. During it, a something happened with a buck deer, a something that sounded like a SyFy horror flick. Later, we found the tracks, only to see that said SyFy deer was within a foot of him in the dark.
I caught endless grief for exposing him to that. Leaving him shaken, they said. My only response was that the circle was unbroken. He was, and still is, safe. That kind of talk doesn't fly all that far with white people. And mamas.
Fast forward a whole lot of life.
Check the upper right quadrant as you see it. Antlers. And yes, they are there for a reason. That circle was, and so it remains, unbroken.
It's there all alone, unloved, unwanted. Not even a termite to tickle its tummy. Just think of the doors it could hold open while the cats come and go. Perhaps even a friend could visit, and be all welcomed by a door already open. There's also that window that won't stay open in the evening. You could prop it open, wide open, with it standing end-to-end on the sill, and you'd probably sleep better in the fresher, cooler air, mosquitoes held at bay by the screen you replaced last month.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
We grew up calling trumpet vine cow itch, and the word was that it was like poison ivy and oak. It was only when I was out of college that I can to realize this lie was likely a tale told by parents to keep children out of chiggers, snakes, and and other places where children shouldn't go.
I still leave it alone, mostly because I don't want a case of poison theses days, as I'm quite susceptible, and it'd take some telling and doing to get the doc to prescribe the prednisone in sufficient quantities.
Nonetheless, it'd look good growing on the trellis I don't have.
As you can see, I did not get all that close for the close-up. That's why cameras have zooms.
I am not sure just how many times I walked under this bird and it's espresso cup of a nest, but for whatever reason, I finally looked up, there on a Sunday afternoon, and lay my eyes upon it's frozen form. He, she, or it didn't move, not much, while I stood there. With each return, I noticed the bird had rotated in some amount. I suppose sitting on a clutch of eggs is not the most exciting thing a bird can do, and a change of view is likely helpful now and again.
The nest is out on a pine limb. There's not much too it, and what there is appears to be tightly glued in some manner. No, I have no idea what kind of bird it is. Perhaps a sparrow or a chickadee. However, I'm going with tufted titmouse just for the adolescent giggle.
There are eagles in the are, but I suspect this little fellow is too small to worry about eagles. Crows, however, might be a threat, as might be the errant water skier who unexpectedly hits the almost submerged log not so far away, subsequently sailing through the air, perhaps with the greatest of ease, only to thump unnecessarily into that pine.
Perhaps the NC GA members could write a quick bill to protect this wee beast. It'd be an improvement over what they've been doing this session.
Monday, June 6, 2011
There is not much rock start in me, aside from the ego.
So Friday evening was one social thing. Small and comfortable. Aside from the near fist fight at the grocery store.
Then we have Saturday night. A work peep had a house warming. Lots of people. All of them fun in one manner or another. All of them spread out and in small groups.
At some point, I acquired an umbrella for my hat, and yes, I wore it back home for everyone to see.
It was fun. We'll do it again in a season or so.
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Sunday, June 5, 2011
The world breathes a collective sigh of relief, now that the cicada video is available for worldwide public consumption.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
The fragrance was unexpected, and today, it covered the odors rising from the sewer pumping truck just next door.
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I was invited to a small gathering of interesting people last night, and given that I rarely get out, and also that the people were interesting people, neither strangers nor acquaintances by virtue of Facebook, if Facebook constitutes some form of virtue, I headed out.
As you might expect when invited over by people of the Southern persuasion, I was told upon asking that I only needed to bring myself and perhaps a bag of ice for the blender.
I obliged by stopping at Food Lion to fetch the ice and a bouquet of flowers. It would be rude to bring more food when I've already been told that there's food a'plenty. It would also be a waste as the food would not be eaten. One brings flowers, or perhaps a bottle of wine, to such events. Miss Manners has spoken.
Apparently, Food Lion was giving stuff away at 7 p.m. when I tried to check out. The lines were uncharacteristically long, and then a new line opened. I jumped on it, even though I'm sure from years of experience that the other line always moves faster. However, this time, I got lucky, and my new line was moving briskly, likely because I was the second person in the line and both of us had light loads to purchase.
As I was offering one card and then another, I heard a conversation behind me. Usually, I seek to ignore such conversations because (1) they're generally none of my business, and (2) I have enough trouble without borrowing more.
Then I heard a word. "Spit." I heard him say, "I'm half a mind to spit in your face."
Turning my head, I recognized the speaker as the person who had left my longer line ahead of me with his box of wine, but he had selected another line instead of the one newly opened. He was about my age, a little shorter, and a little thinner, but then everyone is a little thiner than I am. His skin was shiny with a patina of plastic, probably the result of a cheap moisturizer or aftershave.
The assistant store manager was now standing behind me as I focused more attention on the thing happening there. The man was upset because Food Lion had hired a Muslim, a short, tiny, kerchiefed, and substantially meek woman. I suspect her skill with the language was sufficient to understand what he was saying, but I doubt her culture would permit much of an exchange. Of course, this all unsupported conjecture on my part. I have no idea what was going on in her head, aside from the extreme embarrassment that was fully palpable by anyone with sentience greater than a rock.
The assistant manager handled the encounter well, telling the grand idiot that he was no longer welcome to shop in this store. I concurred, standing there silent, tensed like an English longbow ready to rain terror on an advancing line of French soldiers. Had the man spat, well, I don't know for sure. I hope that I'd have escorted him to the sidewalk where he could then sit and spit until the police arrived to present him with assault and battery charges.
As it was, I left the store, flowers and ice in hand, with more than a little adrenalin in my blood. I tweeted a little. Updated FaceBook. Texted my bro. He asked what the little piece of white trash might be planning when he has his Monday morning heart attack, and finds himself at the hospital where the attending physician could easily be Muslim. That's a good question. Here's to hoping our ignorant acquaintance can learn his lessons without so severe an instructor, but I have the feeling that he, along with the embarrassingly many others like him, are not so easily, or willingly, educated.
Yes, I grumped a little over that, and I hope no one noticed, especially among the hard working crew of lawn workers. They don't really need that.
As I walked through the grass not yet cut, feeling it give beneath my feet, I found this folded dollar. It was all alone. I know that because I looked around for more.
Do you suppose the lottery ticket it sponsored will be a winner? Yeah, me neither, but the thought of a thread of good luck did make for a nice story as I walked.
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I've often wondered just how so many people manage to survive air travel, what with all those little bags of peanuts. Maybe it's that the bags are so little that makes the difference. Not really. Some one with a peanut allergy can't tolerate hardly a molecule of peanut.
Enter my generic yoghurt. Sugar free. Fat free. The artificial sweetener gets a warning. So does the milk. The milk?
Yes, we have a warning that the yogurt contains milk. As though there might be some question about what yogurt is made from? Especially the generic brand?
At the rate we are going in this world, that yogurt cup is going to need a bigger cup just for the label, if not a fold-out.
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Friday, June 3, 2011
What you can't tell in the picture is just how close they will be. If you could look a little closer, you would see the side of the wife's vault. They will be within inches of one another for all eternity.
I hope they continue to get along well.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
My grandmother marked the grave of her child with a magnolia tree and a white carved stone. The death of this child was what Grandmother used to turn my papa from moonshine to the Primitive Baptist pulpit. That, and her iron frying pan and wooden rolling pin. I later found the marker with a lamb on top in the barn behind the house. The molding stone had been removed and retired as the tree grew.
That tree was a landmark in the community when Young Langdon cut it down. A man with a chain saw does not need intelligence to make a mark on this world.
The white stone lamb with Loa inscribed and barely legible has returned. I do not know who did that. The house and barn were long sold out of the family when that tree came down. Familial greed and ignorance can also make a mark on this world.
I like to think the afterlife was better when plants and trees marked marked our final testing places, the roots stretching down to lift us up by branch and leaf, no metal and cement box to stand in the way.
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