Friday, October 27, 2006

while you were asleep

For as long as I can remember I have come awake around 2 am, every night, and just lain there for awhile. No reason, just taking a break, I guess. The difficult thing for me is to avoid fretting over daytime issues until my thoughts are circling as I lie there, because that leads to nothing but morning, and me still wide awake. So I find other things to occupy my mind until I fall asleep again.

I have grown very fond of listening to the sounds in the darkness and listing them one by one. As a child I did this to combat the ghosts and banshees...ruling them out by elimination. But being me, and being a child, identification lead to the need to confirm-at least that's the story I'm sticking to- and that lead to midnight rambling. Being eight years old wandering through the streets in the dark trying to figure out whose dog is barking or whose radio is on is not the safest or the smartest thing I've ever done. Fun, though.

Standing under the streetlight down the block I made the acquaintance of impossibly tiny bats, their fluttering and their chirps and squeaks and their little cries of joy when they caught a big white moth and all their bat buddies came to crowd around and look and comment.

I discovered that birds fly at night, high high up near the clouds. The whispered migrations of birds silhouetted against the stars is a very beautiful thing, their voices muted and their feathers brushing overhead in waves.

Barn owls are conspicuous by their utter absence of any sound at all as they pass over. They will soar close enough to touch your hair and make you gasp. Your only warning is a creamy hush moving swiftly overhead and the startling white flash of their hooked legs swinging past and gone. The next thing you might hear is the last call of a mouse or a rat as those hooks carry it away.

One summer night recently I laid and listened to a sound like the seaside as the tide washes the gravel but much fainter than that, although still plenty loud enough in the night here because of our isolation. I finally went to the open front window and turned my flashlight on the field across the street. It reflected back to me in the green eyeshine of seven coyotes, milling and milling, crossing and recrossing each other like ice skaters, their feet and their fur brushing as they trampled down the the hay nosing after rodents.
They only spared me the briefest glance, inside my house with my eyes like saucers.

Now I would still rather see coyotes close, for all their wild slinky looks, than hear them. Or at least I'd rather hear them at a distance, already in song, coursing up the dry creekbed and going in the opposite direction. This is why: A pack of coyotes bursting into sudden chorus close at hand sounds like the earth has split open and the insane dangerous dead are howling and gibbering as they escape from Hell.
It is not romantic.
It is not evocative of the Old West.
It is freaky.

I've never had a clear look at the owls that call to each other all night, except one quick scary glimpse when I startled one up from the side of the road and it flew across my windshield, all eyes and claws and tan belly filling up the entire glass. They roost in the top of fir trees and call in turns up and down the valley, one hoot, a pause, then a hoohoooo. They have a very gentle voice, very mannerly and patient sounding. Their flight is not quite silent. You hear a small sound as they pass over, a 'whisssssh' which could be a vocalized hiss; I'm not sure. To be lying on your back in the night watching the Perseid meteors blaze down and have one of these owls cross through you line of vision is an awe-inspiring thing. They move with the same deliberation as a ship under full sail in a light breeze, smooth and slow and unsettling in their size and silence.

I have always lived within hearing distance of trains, and of all the sounds in the night trains are my favorite. I can hear the rails screech shunting cars off to the Ellenbaas siding, and the big freight trains rumble car by car as they slow at the border, at the creek, at the highway and then gather speed on down the valley. The horns sound off first far up north, in Canada, and once again south approaching Nugent's Corner, in the middle of the fields of corn.

When I was much younger, on my rambles through the neiborhood at night, catching glimpses of televisions tuned to blue static in the darkened front rooms of careless people, I was struck by the nighttime occupation of dogs. Whatever it was, they seemed to take it very seriously. Dogs with a mission. Dogs with places to go. Dogs who came to me to be petted during the day would pass me down the centerline of the street, giving me a smile as they went by but never stopping even if I called them. They'd toss their head back like 'Yes, I heard you, but I have to go!' with that same dog smile and continue on. I went as far as the wooded lot that bordered our school playground one night, expecting to find the trails full of dogs, but saw not a one. I reasoned that they might be sneaking out at night to play 'Wild Dog' in the woods together, but I guess they were doing something else. To this day that makes me wonder.

I remember going to sit by night in my grandmothers porch swing. She grew tawny daylillies, a hedge of them that bordered her porch. One out of every twenty, perhaps, had the faintest, sweet aroma that came up full and round during the night, although the flowers that showed out at noon were now tightly curled shut once and for all. You could smell the fat concord grapes that grew up and over the porch too, and the big black cherries getting ripe in the light of the moon across the fence. Some times she was awake too, and would come out and sit with me and we'd swing the porch swing fast until the frame began to lift and then we'd slow it down and laugh. Sometimes she'd fling off a slipper by accident and I'd go crawl under the swing and find it for her where it had landed in the grapes. The hot orange moon would pass overhead, and the stars would shine white and bright. We sang 'Harvest Moon' and 'Swing Upon a Star'. And very occasionally, off in the apple trees, a nesting robin would talk in it's sleep and my grandmother and I would stop to listen with the exact same delight, holding on to one anothers' arms.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Crisis Jiro! The Operations Full Shutdown!!

Today, my Yummy Biker came home at noon, big ol' happy grin on his face, lifted up his shirt and said 'Look! My bellybutton's purple!'

The man has an umbilical hernia.

While I leaned against the kitchen counter and hyperventilated, the Biker patiently explained that this is something that can be taken care of in a 45 minute outpatient procedure. An incision ____ that long is made and a couple stitches are taken, and that's it. Since he is owed a weeks' vacation with pay, he will take that time to (lie on my couch and channel surf in a medicated semi-coma and get on my last fucking nerve) recuperate. No sweat. No problem.

For him.

Baby Jesus, why do you hate me?

Quick as a wink I was whooshed away to the top of Mt. Olympus, where the Baby Jesus gave me a stern talking to.

"You know, the poor man has a fricken length of gut poking out of his bellybutton, ok? I mean come on.
And yes I know I'm naked but I'm home and I'm just a little baby so get over it."

"You need to put on your big girl panties and be a grown woman about this, Nations. Because let me tell you what, it could be one heck of a lot worse.

"Ever heard of an inguinal hernia?

"One time Steven Neal got one right in the middle of the world Graeco-Roman Wrestling Title Championship? Oh yes. He felt something go 'bloopaladoop!' down there in the gusset of his shiny red panties; hoo boy did HE jump a mile."

"And was he working with cattle? No he was NOT. The dreaded shrinkage disorder 'shuk yon' is passed from cattle to humans via livestock judging. Oh yes. It's tragic. People get divorces."

Fine, I made that up.
Fine, thats a horse.

"You want worse? Have you ever heard of trichotillomania? It's a real thing. It's when people start pulling out their own hair and pulling and pulling until they're really funny looking. Now I'm not saying it leads to acid washed jeans, but it can.

"And at least the guy has a good medical plan! Remember poor Viktor Fries? How all that on-the-job cryochemical exposure made him really mean and bald and he ended up having to wear that stupid looking suit all the time? Yeah, but nobody ever tells you what happened to his nurse, who HAD INSUFFICIENT MEDICAL COVERAGE. She's been living in this Food Warehouse now for sixteen years."

Fine, thats Batman. Still, you get my point here.

"He won't have to go through any extensive occupational re-training. He can go right back to his old job."

"He won't have to adapt to a prosthetic of any sort."

"He can go right back to life as usual."

You know what I realized?
He's absolutely right.
Baby Jesus, I thank you.
President Lincoln thanks you too.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

quaint vignettes from my charming rural idyll

I finally caught this!
Of course you can't make it out for jackshit, but it's there nonetheless. Try the clickie for biggie and see what you can see.

I am headed south-I almost wrote driving south, but credit me for having the sense to pull over to the side of the road before I dick with the camera-anyway, headed south, shooting this facing towards the east. That odd haystack cloud formation, looping up over the mountain there? That is a rainstorm being blown up, over and south by a freak northeast wind down the Fraser Valley. Were there no wind, that rain would be falling in Canada, around Yarrow. As it is it's blowing up and over, and coming down around the bottom of Reese Hill. Which is that hill in the picture there.
Here's what you're supposed to be seeing:

Here's another view of it. I've traveled another quarter mile headed south. Once again, facing east:

What happens is this: that mountain, hill, whatever you call it, is a spur of the Cascade foothills that nips into the northeast flow of the Fraser Valley and creates something like a backwash, or a venturi effect. ( I don't know what that would be in meteorological terms.) When the northeast wind veers just right, you get amazing cloud formations and standing weather patterns, like huge monster thunderstorms that lay trapped up against the northern face of that spur and stay there for hours, firing off lightning like a Frankenstein movie. Or backwards-arching rainstorms.

I could be totally full of shit, too.

I don't hear National Geographics photography department beating down my door either.
Oh well.
To me, stuff like this is cool. I grew up in a place where there was only two kinds of weather-shitty, humid and hot, or shitty, humid and cold. To me, this is BIG weather. Of course, according to people from the Midwest, this is sad, tiny weather, I know, but I like it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Cruel Green Waterbug's Poison Project

It went off without a hitch.
I know, everyone's thinking 'Oh no! No madcap wacky zaniness? Well, no. Not one bit.
He's nice.
Dinner went fine, socializing afterwards went fine, pointing to the spot on the carpet where the goonybird was born went fine (not an ACTUAL spot, for heavens sake I DO clean)
It all went fine.
This must be someone elses life. I feel disoriented.

And now I must be off the the doctors office to have blood drawn. Yippie shit!

I feel like I won the lottery*! A fasting blood draw and a surprise urine sample.I hope they can make do with the spare teaspoonful I had to offer. All they're going to find is that I really needed some coffee. I want both specimens collected around 11am, when they actually effervesce in the container from all the caffeine. That would be a much more accurate representation of my vital bodily fluids. This way, 9 a.m., hell I could barely drive.

Anyway, I am really bemused by the whole dinner experience last night. The guy was so normal. A little nervous, yeah, you expect that, but otherwise...damn.
So lets recap...He
1. Does not live with his parents
2. Is not in near-constant contact with his parents, and does not ask 'How high?' whenever they say 'Jump'.
2 1/2. Does not have a lame, ghetto sister who named her poor little baby 'Camus' and who still insists a. that 'Camus' is a wine variety, and b. that it's pronounced 'Kay-miff.'
3. Does not in fact even live in the same state as his parents.
4. Has a job, an apartment and a running car.
5. Is not a useless hippie arts major emo dipshit. (former boyfriend 'I'd rather you spend your gas money coming to visit me in a distant city so I can subsequently ignore you and be a tormented emo boy and write this script that nobody will ever see ')
6. As far as I could tell, he did not show up stoned. Or too stoned to function. Fine; he didn't smell stoned and he could make conversation and drive and he hit the toilet and remembered to put the seat down and that's all you can ask for. You bet I'm hedging. But I don't think he was stoned. Much. Also, he
7. Did not dissappear for extended periods of whispering with my daughter throughout the course of the evening. For points two, two point five, six and seven I have ex-boyfriend B, or 'Dishrag Jr.' as I think of him, in mind...a big goofy Dutch dumbass my daughter used to haul around by the nose who had no discernable ambition or personality.
8. Worked well with the Goonybird.

I will NOT get my hopes up.
I will NOT get my hopes up.
I will NOT get my hopes up.

*The one in the Shirley Jackson story