This Practical World

How now in the contemplative evening of his days, the pious Bildad reconciled these things in the reminiscence, I do not know; but it did not seem to concern him much, and very probably he had long since come to the sage and sensible conclusion that a man’s religion is one thing, and this practical world quite another.

Chapter 16, The Ship

 

 

Her first instinct was to be repulsed as he bent down and reached between her legs.
“Left my drink under your chair,” he said turning his head to look up at her and flash, what he mistakenly assumed to be a winning smile.

She countered with a stony look drawing her knees in and off to the side twisting away from where his head remained practically resting in her lap. It was going to be a long six months.  On the road, one tour bus, forty interchangeable set pieces, a hundred costume changes and

three

other

human beings.

Day in.

Day out.

And he was one of them.

. . .

She had taken to changing openly backstage.  The costumes were just cumbersome enough to make it a matter of timing.  She’d twist her back away from where he stood in the shadows watching her as she pulled her shirt up over her head.  Let him watch.  He who thinks he is so irresistible.  Let him suffer.

She tried to avoid speaking to him, except, of course, when she was in character.  Then it was unavoidable.  At one point, nightly, she had to kiss him, in character.  Country clubs, nursing homes a peck would suffice.  But the military base wanted more.  So they gave it more, for the troops.  It was the least they could do, for their country.

A world can be exchanged in a kiss, even under lights, five hundred soldiers watching.

The next day, as the van swallowed up the highway, he fell asleep against her shoulder and,

this time,

she did not push him away.

. . .

The hotel they’d been booked in had placed the actors in a room overlooking the lobby roof.  A long pebble and tar stretch punctuated at the end with a Mississippi state flag, billowing arrogantly in the Gulf breeze.  She had just pulled back the curtain and the sight of it accosted her.  She froze, the heavy scotch-guarded polyester of the curtain weighing on her hand.

“My ancestors died preserving the union of this country,” she said out loud, to no one in particular

Three

other

human beings.

Day in

Day out.

”That is an abomination.

You lost,

you

assholes.

Accept it.”
He was suddenly by her shoulder, taking the curtain from her hand.  He pushed it aside, leaned to unlatch the window, and, without missing so much as a beat, walked through the open window onto the stretch of roof. A confident stroll took him to where flag flapped noisily at the edge of tar.

With the complete authority by which a good actor can easily impersonate a maintenance engineer, he grabbed the rope and in a series of quick strokes lowered the offending flag.  Taking it from its post , he draped the flag over his arm and turned to stroll back into the room where she stood mesmerized by his boldness.

“Surrendered,” he said and and pressed it into her hands.  She couldn’t help it.  She was smiling.

. . .

The months passed, the tour ended, they left together to join another and when that ended he asked her to move to the far edge of the west.  She agreed but in the short winter days they quickly wore on each other.  Theater is a demanding craft and performing in separate productions for the first time since they met challenged their bond in a way they had not thought to anticipate.

She had not thought to anticipate.

There was less and less of a they, she thought, now that she was isolated out on the edge of an unfamiliar ocean, alongside a silent Sound.  What a curious thing to call a body of water over which the sun seemed to constantly hover by no more than an inch, popping up just enough to make an appearance late each winter morning, before lazily retiring in the afternoon.

And the rain.  Not like the rain she knew.  Not a warm gust weighing of thunder and lightning spinning itself out along a black edge of sky racing headlong across the blue to swallow the summer sun.

Not that Texas rain that calls a girl to dance barefoot.

This rain

was small,

needle pricks of cold that made her wrap her coat tight against her with her bloodless fingers.

When he gave her the address of the clinic  he delivered his lines with the complete authority by which a good actor can easily impersonate a medical expert.

He stated it blankly:

“I have chlamydia–
must have gotten it from you.”

“How?–You’re the only person I’ve slept with.”

He shrugged and looked away “The doc said you can get it from, you know, one of those girl part things–like yeast infections,urinary tract infections–one of those sorts of things.”

“Oh. . .Okay.” She had never had such things.

Three days into the penicillin she broke out in hives and decided to stop by the clinic on the walk home from work.  When the doctor walked in and saw her perched on locked elbows at the table’s edge, a spattering of hives he seemed to want to say something, but then, thought better and shook his head.

“You didn’t know you were allergic to penicillin?”

“No,” she said “Never had any reason to take it before this.”

He raised his head and looked into her face.  A pause,  Again, did he want to say something?

“No, . .
you shouldn’t have even needed to take it now.
It was a precaution.”

“How can it be a precaution?  I have chlamydia.”

“Maybe, maybe not.
He has chlamydia.”

“But he said he got it from me.”
Another pause.  The split second it takes a doctor to weigh doctor patient confidentiality.

“No,” was all he said, then he turned and left the room to get a prescription pad.
As he handed her the sheet across the checkout desk he waved his hand dismissively,
“No charge.
It’s the bastard’s fault.
Not yours.”

It’s the bastard’s fault.

. . .

Twenty years later she is cleaning up the toy room and pauses to sit on the couch.  Chlamydia, they say, can scar your fallopian tubes.  There was a chance she may have never had children, but now she has three.  She reaches down and picks up the remote.  She realizes this is the opportune time to wipe some of the mental detritus off the  DVR.

Which is that one with the freaky blue jay and the stupid raccoon? –she wonders, and hits a button.  Yep, that’s the one.

She presses through the series of delete. . .all. . .stop recording..series information, are you sure you want to erase all.  Yes, god yes, she thinks, then something stops her.  There, in the program information.

“Oh my god. . .” she whispers to the empty room. . .

“That

raccoon

exposed me to chlamydia.”

 

 

 

As a general rule.  I hate country music, but every now and then a song strikes me.  This one swept me back to a moment on an Idaho llama farm that was housing the members of the Boise Summer Shakespeare troupe.  We had considered the strain which a summer apart may put on us, but I would drive the five hours every so often to maintain the bond.

When he went to rub my back something,

something

about the way he was moving told a thousand tales of new experiences of intimacy.

When I couldn’t see his face,

when his mouth wasn’t moving,

then I could hear the lies.

 

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Magnitude Diminished

. . .for all these things, we account the whale immortal in his species, however perishable in his individuality. . .  In Noah’s flood, he despised Noah’s Ark; and if ever the world is to be again flooded, like the Netherlands, to kill off its rats, then the eternal whale will still survive, and rearing upon the topmost crest of the equatorial flood, spout his frothed defiance to the skies.

Chapter 105,  Does the Whale’s Magnitude Diminish–Will He Perish?

My opponent has my nose.

No, he does not have me by the nose; he has my nose,

and his father’s hazel green eyes and thick unruly brows.

And by opponent, I do not mean in the battle to eat humus or change his underwear, though we have gone head to head on those issues at times.  I mean my opponent in arm wrestling.

We’ve been doing this forever– since he was an infant and we lay face to face on our bellies, blocks scattered across the carpet around us.  I would sometimes feign a struggle against his wee strength before reassuringly crushing him with a smile.  Scooping him up, I’d roll on my back and hold him over head, letting his laughter spill down on my face.

He would challenge me on weekends, cocky off a basketball win in second grade, or sure of enhanced strength as he surpassed his big brother in height during third grade.  By last summer we stood eye to eye and he would steal my flip-flops as none of his shoes still fit his mens’ size 11 feet.   My own flip-flops were dwarfed, but enough for the boy who preferred to be barefoot anyway.

He grew more reserved with his hugs, turned sideways, kept them brief as he headed off to school each morning this past year.  A low-“love you mom” tatted out as he walked away.  But on the weekends he would leap off the couch as I passed and block my path: “Arm wrestle?”

This alone has remained consistent: I never ever let him win.  His brother has protested that this is cruel of me, but Wyatt stopped him.  He knew the value of a real win– the weight of a passage that passes between our clasped hands.  He wants no pandering nor feigned win.  He wants victory hard-won.

He has been pestering since mother’s day for the latest rematch, but my body knows—this boy, now two inches taller and a scarce ten pounds lighter will most likely win the next match.

“Not unless we have someone to film it,” I have told him.  He smiles, knowing this isn’t just an excuse, though he teases me that it is.  He knows I suspect my last victory has passed.

It is a Tuesday night, three shy of June, and my son throws down the gauntlet once again.  I hand the camera to his brother and say “Okay. Let’s get this done.”

We take our places at the table and hand to hand pour our strength into the match.  I push and feel his strength meet me, and remember pushing his ten pound body into this world, carrying his sleepy body, heavy head dropped on my shoulder, carrying it up a total of how many hundred stairs to bed.  I think of the night as his temper escalated in an argument with his brother and I tried to explain what he was feeling only to have him turn on me and rip me through with the words “You don’t know what I am thinking.  You are not inside my head.”  I recall excusing myself and lying face down on my bed to cry, knowing this is the inevitable separation—not when they cut the cord, but when the boy says “I am not you,” and pushes away.  I remember too how less than three minutes later, without ever lifting my face from the pillow I was tackled with a hug, a low mumbled “love you mom” and then he disappeared again.

Eleven years—almost twelve, I have prevailed.  This Tuesday night, I feel the shift.  It takes less than two minutes but long enough to make his arm hurt.  In his moment of victory he does not gloat, but a smile spreads across his face and as he rubs his arm he confesses it was his hardest match yet.  He had beaten every classmate, and quite a few in the grade above him, but never has he passed this bench mark and he knows it.  He does not dance around or jump in the air with fist punching glory—he sits and rubs his arm, watching me, a quite smile on his face, no rush to leave me.

In this moment we know, some day, he will be the one who carries me.  In this moment I know, he will be ready.

He may not yet be resilient enough or anywhere near wise enough to navigate this world without a parent’s guidance.  But in this moment he knows he is now stronger than the mother’s arms which held him, shielded him, scooped him out of the path of danger, lifted him so that his weary dangling legs could rest; he now holds the greater strength. There is a certain loss even in victory as the victor is pushed a little further out into the world, having surpassed a primary defender to step closer to being on his own.  It is all part of the ongoing dance of letting go.  And really, if I must have this dance, his hand is one that fits mine so well that even when we do let go, we carry each other’s moves, and as I recede into the shade, catching momentary glimpses of my terrifying mortality, my son and I will always find a dance to share, his strong arms ready now to catch me when I fall.

The Selling of our Heads

The landlord chuckled again with his lean chuckle, and seemed to be mightily tickled at something beyond my comprehension. “No,” he answered, “generally he’s an early bird – airley to bed and airley to rise – yes, he’s the bird what catches the worm. – But to-night he went out a peddling, you see, and I don’t see what on airth keeps him so late, unless, may be, he can’t sell his head.”

“Can’t sell his head? – What sort of a bamboozingly story is this you are telling me?” getting into a towering rage. “Do you pretend to say, landlord, that this harpooneer is actually engaged this blessed Saturday night, or rather Sunday morning, in peddling his head around this town?”

“That’s precisely it,” said the landlord, “and I told him he couldn’t sell it here, the market’s overstocked.”

“With what?” shouted I.

“With heads to be sure; ain’t there too many heads in the world?”

Chapter 3, The Spouter-Inn

Rewards are promised to me left and right–if I would just follow Pepsi or friend Quiznos.   I feel so cheap.  In place of an in-depth personality, I am a palate of what I consume.  And not even that—but of what I will whore my appearance of loyalty out to.  How cheaply can I be bought?

Apparently $1.98 Amazon MP4 credit is not enough to get me to follow Pepsi on twitter, so there is some good news.  We have not yet hit the low bar and my battered soul finds this reassuring.  I have a twitter account, but not having a smart phone or the ability to confine my thoughts to 48 characters or whatever god forsaken abandonment of the English language is required, I do not ever use the account.  I think I opened it to follow Moby-Dick which was being tweeted  34 characters at a time.  I was promptly contacted by the administrator or whatever those twitter heads are called who asked rather brusquely if I had any idea what the Moby-Dick twitter was about.  You have to understand for a fanatic like myself this is akin to the hair-raising wilting glances I am subjected to when entering a used bookstore and asking if they have a copy of Philbrick’s Why Read Moby Dick.

Why read Moby-Dick?” Is spat back at me with the eye roll “Only because it’s the greatest American novel ever written—(understood ‘duh’)”

Can you picture how I react to this statement?

Can you fathom the inner workings of my boiling temperament as I restrain from launching into a verbatim recital of the entirety of Chapter 23?  As I hold back from spitting out that I am not posing the question, I am requesting they use their untrimmed nails to type a BOOK TITLE into their damned computer.  If I wanted snide comments from someone who hasn’t washed their hair in six months I’ll talk to my own pre-teen son thank you very much.

So yes, some overprotective twit was screening all those who might want to, god forbid, with good intention or not—follow Herman Melville’s novel 37 characters at a time.  I think I did respond to the Melville posting cyber snob, but if I was permitted to continue “following” them after that, I have no idea, seeing as how I don’t really understand how to access my Twitter account.

OK—so you don’t really use it, go ahead and abuse it.  Right?  It’s a sham account anyhow—let Ishamaella follow Pepsi and get your MP4 credit—to hell with it.  Friend Pringles and Follow McDonalds—why the hell does it matter—it isn’t as if you don’t put your private rantings out on WordPress for the entire world to see—why does it matter?

But it does.

I think the marketing geniuses of the past few decades have made an art form out deluding us all into believing that life’s solutions are one purchase away.  The soda company, Mountain Dew, began a campaign a couple of years ago where in return for people posting videos of their obsession with the soft drink onto You-Tube they might get a split second appearance in a national commercial.  “Volunteers” were recruited to create teams for newly proposed flavors and house parties were organized.  Local news stations covered street events and happenings held by these unpaid advocates.  I’m thinking this probably holds the same romance as the anti-war movement of the 60’s—but it’s centered on marketing a sugary caffeinated beverage with no nutritional value.  My god—what hope there would be for the future of the endangered Orangutan if we could rally such passion in the preservation of one of our closest relatives?

We sit idling on gridlocked six lane freeways under neon signs flashing “Ozone Alert: Level Orange. Limit Outdoor Activity” and do . . . nothing.

We sit at the stoplight and turn our heads casually as if we suddenly had something so very urgent to attend to over our right shoulder as the man carrying a signs saying “Homeless.  Hungry. Vet” limps up to our car window.

I read that 49 headless bodies were dumped—in a region of this earth that is closer to where I now sit than no small portion of people reading this blog.  That should concern me.  The power of the executioners is fed by the American market.  The American demand for drugs and is perpetrated with weapons sold on the American free market.

I have some issue with the power of the American market.  So, Pepsi is not Smith and Wesson, surely, and Quiznos is not the undying demand for heroin– but somewhere along the way we jumped the track.  We forgot that the solutions are not something we purchase, that

friendship

is between human beings who have shared history and experience—and the word does not describe my relationship with a sandwich chain from which I want to procure a buy one get one free coupon .

To follow

someone is to open our minds and souls to their words or to walk at their side as they go out into the community because we want to help them extend the wisdom or aid they provide to others.  To follow someone should not clutter up our days with a thousand commercial mass mailing of 42 characters.

Somewhere we need to remember the value of experience, of the moment, of the one thing we can never return or exchange or go back and get later—and that is the here and now.

Stop

and

take

a

deep

breath

in.

What are the sounds around you,

the color of the walls,

where is the light entering the room

—exhale and ask yourself

is there one person I can reach out to go hug or say “let me fix your hair,” or “how about a game of cards?”

— or one living creature who would burst with joy if we stood up and said “Let’s go find your ball.”  My little dog jumps at the words and, having instantaneously completed  a happy lap around the downstairs has returned with a fuzzy green tennis ball clutched in her tiny jaw.  The wag of her tail can hardly contain her excitement of this moment.

So, if you will excuse us—I have an appointment with life.

The Submerged Savage Beneath

A sky-hawk that tauntingly had followed the main-truck downwards from its natural home among the stars, pecking at the flag, and incommoding Tashtego there; this bird now chanced to intercept its broad fluttering wing between the hammer and the wood; and simultaneously feeling that etherial thrill, the submerged savage beneath, in his death-gasp, kept his hammer frozen there; and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her,

Chapter 135 The Chase-Third Day

So, yes, there was this sinking moment, and in the sinking my voice was swallowed up.  Each attempt to open my mouth resulted in the coughing up of dry feathers as if the muse that had tauntingly followed my submergence got caught in the moment and dragged below as the ground closed over my head.

Yes, in the balance of life there is an undertow which disrupts the bliss of daily life. There is a love which suffocates.  There is a yearning to speak which leaves us mute.  Even light itself creates a shadow in the act of contact.  But when we see our own dark shadow ahead, we know the light is spilling across our back.  The good is never far.

Speaking of which. .

The other night I found myself at a formal affair.  The sort with no fewer than five pieces of silverware at every place setting.  It was a small gathering and, quite pleasant really, but as the businessman seated next to us talked about hunting and the Air-Force I was just not able to get my mind to line up any sort of response.  Those are the moments when you are grateful your spouse knows how to navigate such territory–but really, the biggest challenge. . .

the biggest challenge?

As this man spoke about the benefits of well-managed deer slaughter . . .just over his right shoulder. . .not five feet from where I sat was this:

except in mint condition.

Mint condition

 The 1930, Lakeside Press, 1st Edition, three-volume  Moby-Dick illustrated with Rockwell Kent’s  280 woodcut illustrations.  One of 1000 ever printed.  In the original publisher’s aluminum slipcase.  This is the edition credited with the novel’s resurgence–five feet from where I sat.

This set, in “fair” condition can be purchased through www.abebooks.com . . .for fourteen thousand, five hundred dollars.

Which makes me think, if I am obsessed with Moby-Dick. . .

I’m not alone.

So, I ask, was my inability to engage in witty repartee

about our nations dearth of qualified military personnel,

was it ADHD inattentive?

Or was it a case of moving my focus

to something very bright,

and very near by? And yet. . .out of reach.

Crack in the Pipe

Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities. . .

Chapter 93, The Castaway

She knew there was a crack somewhere down the pipe.

But it is hard to know the size of cracks

six feet under.

Yes, she knows it as she presses her palm to the handle and turns

Clockwise, right?

She still has to stop and think

To  close her eyes and picture

the direction of the clock’s hands as they turn.

Her wistful wish is to out run them

or even to edge just a step ahead

and grab one moment

to lean back and repose on their approach,

instead of  forever choking

on the dust of them.

And so she turns the knob

knowing

there is a crack somewhere down the line.

Does it surprise her when the pipe stares back at her

dry as the scarred-over eye socket of a

cyclops?

Again, clockwise

Down the line the water is set loose

rages down the pipe and

seeing its chance

slams the crack head on.

blossoming in pulses

blood into the earth.

The water knows the metal will fatigue,

cease its impotent attempt to shape

and control

and direct

and then the pipe will

rip itself open

to deliver an ocean into earth’s waiting compost,

half decomposed strawberry hulls and apple skins,

a million unidentified bones.  This is what the water feeds.

Earth will use her thirst to draw the water out and carry it to the children on her back

the hibiscus and sage and maples which he planted for her.

His wife who stands, fingers draped against the the handles cool grooves. . .waiting

waiting to feel the flow travel out across her fingers.

She turn it harder.  Clockwise again.  It is clockwise, right?

She has  fed the water’s escape

the crack  blown wide open

the water races to all the roots which strech to drink it in.

Verdant and unruly children leap to meet the elixir’s kiss.

The wife looks  over her shoulder and she can see

the children her husband  has “given her”

though they both know nothing is given, but in tribute to the earth.

The smoke tree which blossoms its signals to the sky,

the white barked possom haw

who drapes her white limbs come winter

in strands upon strands of rubies.

Theirs is a marriage where it is understood there are things

that take precedent over their own thirsts and passions.

Over

her

thirsts and passions.

But now it is spring and Demeter’s child has returned to help,

Penelope dances in clouds that shadow the lawn

Comes on winds that pull and bend the tops of the maple trees in

an impassioned invitation to dance.

The husband reasons that since it is time to tend to their own thirst,

then the pipe must have healed itself.

He has so little patience when she tells him

it takes time.

She is trying,

but there is no water making it through–

She is parched.

She knows the water will not reach her.

And the earth,

no longer  in need

has sunk the water deep into the clay.

Into the rot and hummus which is

Shiva’s dance of life into death into life.

The swamp greets the touch of her foot

swallows her

And darkness closes above her head.

But still,

how curious,

she does not lose faith that her husband will come before it is too late.

He will come and pull her from this swallowing undertow

and pull her safe up onto the earth’s surface

Roll her to him and hold her

tight.

He will come, she thinks,  as in the closing patch of light she sees

the maples leaves reaching out to take

the wind’s invitation to dance.

And it he does not,

He did give her this life.

He did

give

her

this.

Simple Gifts

. . . he seemed entirely at his ease; preserving the utmost serenity; content with his own companionship; always equal to himself. Surely this was a touch of fine philosophy; though no doubt he had never heard there was such a thing as that. But, perhaps, to be true philosophers, we mortals should not be conscious of so living or so striving.
Chapter 10, A Bosom Friend

Last night I was about to turn in when an email caught my eye.  It was, in fact, this post:

http://healthdemystified.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/what-to-do-when-no-one-no-one-fucking-understands-thanksgiving-thursdays-week-7/

You can probably guess what caught my eye there, but, being curious, I followed this one and found a brilliant cathartic all over the place kinda post that I would recommend you all read if you haven’t already.  It is so full of things to respond to packed in with such compressed energy–but here’s one:

Somehow, the movie captured not only the imagination of a younger audience, but also the imaginations of those older, who had ostensibly given up on their dreams and aspirations.  Perhaps, somewhere deep inside, deeper than their cynicism, deeper than the scars inflicted by their life experiences, they still believed that they were meant for something greater.

Maybe they saw themselves in the superheroes on the screen.

So here’s what I want to say on that:

I gave up on my dreams,

but not with bitterness or cynicism, they simply failed to hold my interest once their reality came into focus.

Do I still believe I’m meant for something greater?  Well, sure, sometimes.  I visualize life as a curve, but the curve keeps changing and gaining new dimensions and in any of those dimensions it may yet rise or fall.

And, when it does fall, where do I land?  Ha, like a cat, I hope.  On my feet.  I am strangely convinced of my own resilience, and

in the end

resilience

is what entrances us about the super hero.

What is your resilience?  Find it and you have found your super power.  I recently attended my 30th high school reunion and before the reunion we were sent a survey which included (and I quote):

#7.  Life (in general) is better in 2012 than in 1982 because. . .Life is worse in 2012 than in 1982 because

To which I responded:

Better.  Hopes are dashed, expectations are lowered—where else can I go but up? But seriously . . .

( I won’t bore you with the rest. )

But my point was, given a simple exercise:

  1. Close your eyes.  Remember a May morning when you were 17
  2. Open your eyes: See the May morning in the here and now.
  3. Compare and contrast.

Then: I was lost in visions of a life yet to come.  The fiction of my future was so palpable I think I spent more time in this imaginary place than I did in my own 17 year old body that year.  There was still so much to imagine unfettered, un restrained by any tinge of the actual practical reality, because we had been raised to believe we could do or be anything.  That was the super power we believed in.

Thirty years later: I do not believe I can do or be whatever I want.

I think I will be

who I am

and find in the very small reality of me

worlds upon worlds

of human fulfillment.

Sure, I am still swept over with moments of dread.  Yes, I choke up when I become too preoccupied with how I am being perceived by others and I have daily small deaths in the undertow of these waves of dread

HOWEVER

they are counter balanced overwhelmingly by the simple act of being.

At my grandmother’s house, along the front path, grew a Chrysler Rose.  Each spring it would emerge in the thaw and put forth a scant bouquet of deep red roses.   My grandfather had planted it, for my grandmother, and though he died when I was four, the bush continued to put out its roses each spring.  My grandmother never failed to stop and appreciate each bloom on that rose bush.  She would join me as I stood in the doorway looking out at those roses,  slip her hand  around my fingers,  squeeze and  say

“He has brought me roses again this morning.”

The red rose whispers of passion

And the white rose breathes of love;

Oh the red rose is a falcoln,

And the white rose is a dove.

But I send you a cream white rosebud,

With a flush on its petal tips

For the love that is purest and sweetest

Has a kiss of desire on the lips.

John Boyle O’Reilly

The diamond industry tells us a diamond is forever.  Yeah, so is coprolite.  My brother used to like to store his fossilized dinosaur shit on the floor just outside the litter box.  Geologist humor.   But what I would argue is that “forever”  is overated.

Given the choice of a colorless rock I can be buried with (or mugged for), or a plant which will bloom over my dead body for decades to come, I’ll take the later.

There are some three million ways in which my husband is my perfect mate.  This is one.  For our last anniversary this was my gift: a native sage bush—this particular variety?

Hot Lips Sage. . .with a flush on its petal tips.

At 17 I dreamed of glory, of the spotlight, of world travel and recognition and a blazing presence that would brand me into the hearts of this lifetime’s occupants.

This morning, I made the pizza dough and set it aside to rise under a warm towel on the counter.  I stood over the stove in alternating tree pose to pass the ten minutes it took to slowly and constantly stir the base for the French Vanilla ice cream as it thickened.

I spent an hour feeding the hens, picking up the yard, rearranging my latest little broodie in a clean secure location with fresh food and water and was greeted at every turn by the thriving natives with which my husband has populated our yard.

As I shuffled the pots around I uncovered another little native hiding away under the inevitable clutter left by my less than tidy personal gardener. 

A burrowing owl, disoriented by my uncovering her morning doze–I quickly replaced the clutter.

Life greatest riches are her simplest gifts.

Would I ever go back to seventeen?

Do I wish that I had never let go of dreams?

No.

Never.

Ever.

Not for so much as a nanosecond of my exquisite existence.

A Quenchless Feud

A wild, mystical, sympathetical feeling was in me; Ahab’s quenchless feud seemed mine.

Chapter 41, Moby-Dick

I just went a little Ahab on my rooster.

Let’s, for the sake of making no one an accomplice, call him my “visiting” rooster, since roosters cannot legally reside within the city limits.  He’s not a resident.  He’s a sidetracked smug and strutting visiting scholar who showers his wisdom upon the hens each morning when released from his cat carrier in the basement–the basement which he visits every night.

 

The logic behind the rooster ban has been argued from two angles.  One angle is that this is Texas, and a certain tradition of pitting roosters against each other in order to watch the spectacle of them tearing each other into bloody pieces is considered a form of entertainment.  To assume this is a natural side effect of owning a rooster is counter intuitive to many who own backyard chickens (either the inhumanity or the waste is going to rub them the wrong way).  However, if we were to discount the soul killing pastime of cock-fighting as the primary reason for the rooster ban , we are left with the crowing.

The wake-the-dead,

non-stop,

nothing-to-do-with-sunrise-it-goes-on-ALL-DAY,

hear it three miles away

crowing.

I understand this.  Perhaps, if they were legal I could hear the sound and think no more of it than the neighborhood’s other auditory violations—the yapping dogs, the tire screeching, the window-vibrating bass beat of the passing thumper radios—but there is something in my upbringing which makes particularly egregious that which is flagrantly against the rules.  The crow, each and every one, pierces through to my reviling bones.

So, yeah, I went a little Ahab on the dude.

The wisdom of sharing exactly how I spent the past thirty minutes of my life is probably worth questioning, but that is one of those things about the poor self-regulation of people with my particular brand of limited sanity. I spent the past thirty minutes standing in the chicken yard armed with my son’s aqua-zooka attempting to apply Pavlovian training to a rooster.

The conclusion reached?

The Rooster is Not Stupid

Does this mean the rooster learned to stop crowing?

No.

The rooster learned to stop crowing. . .

when the crazy lady with the dripping green stick in her hand is standing in the chicken yard.

The rooster also learned:

  • What a blind spot is and how to utilize it in moments of crisis.
  • That pride matters not when you can use the women as shields.
  • The distance which water travels in a stream from an aqua-zooka when applied pressure from a 128 pound woman.
  •  How to casually avoid eye contact with a pissed off suburban house wife.

So here I sit, three thousand mosquito bites the richer, typing away while, in the background, on the Spring morning air, he is crowing his head off like there is not tomorrow.

I swear, he is doing this now JUST to get to me.

It isn’t nature.  It’s spite.

I’m convinced that I am currently being tormented by a spiteful little work of poultry and it only furthers my anger to think that he most probably has figured out by now that I’m a vegetarian so I can’t even threaten him in the way of classic farmer wives who have freely exercised any pent up hostility toward male arrogance with a swift cleaver to the neck.

He is golden.  Untouchable.  The breathing example of

cocky.

Which is, by nature, his right.

And I need to learn to be a better person.