Saturday, March 29, 2008

quaint vignettes from my charming rural idyll

I have just been informed by my daughter, the Stainless Steel Amazon, that I am too old to both flip people off and climb fences. This rather took me aback. Things like 'age' and 'propriety' don't apply to me; I am the magic exception to the rule. I mean, come on; I'll probably flip off the coroner when he starts the 'Y' incision. That's ingrained behavior for heavens' sake.
I promise, though, that if I break a hip, THEN I'll stop climbing fences. That's the best I can do.

This whole subject of getting old was brought painfully home during my visit to Oregon. As I sat and looked at all these glorious young people and listened to the things they were talking about, I suddenly realized that my shit is undeniably middle aged. I went to the bathroom, closed the door, turned on all the lights and took a close look at myself in the mirror.
Whats more, I saw myself automatically doing that 'catching yourself ' thing? Where you raise the chin slightly and lift the eyebrows? The ol' 'instant face lift' move you used to bust your mom doing whenever she passed a store window? That one.
Simply excellent. I am now officially someone my age. No matter what I do or how I look, I will forever after always be "__________" (fill in the blank: weird, OK, kinda pretty, etc.) FOR SOMEONE MY AGE.
This is me in my Jimi Hendrix t-shirt sitting on top of a fence flipping y'all off.


I was making some 'Swedish' meatballs (I totally doubt that the Swedes invented this. It was probably the Freemasons) and the recipe called for 'dill'. Fine; I hucked in some dill, the amount called for.

Holy hot damn did that stuff BLOOM. The whole sauce is like Planet Dill. I can still taste it an hour later, and that's just after taking a tiny nibble off the end of the spoon! I was not aware that dill would attack a person like this. Does it get stronger as it ages or something? Or am I just sensitive to the flavor?

Yesterday we had 2 inches of snow. Then we had rain. This morning we had frost, ice fog, and now the sun is shining. Everyone is saying 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA GLOBAL WARMING WE'RE ALL GONNA DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE'
...meanwhile, this is pretty much what I remember happening every spring and ever fall in this part of the world for the past 47 years. Am I the only person who remembers the weather from one year to the next? My grandmother even did this and heaven knows she saw her share of climate phenomena in 89 years-still, every time it did something unexpected outside, something unnatural was to blame.

Her generation blamed 'Russian weather satellites.' Oh yes. Sputnik. You bet. It flew around the earth taking spy pictures, but when it got over the United States the Russians could make it shoot out a ray that messed up the weather. She absolutely believed this; in fact, a lot of people her age did, although I have no idea where they got the notion.

We would stand outside and watch the satellites going overhead (They'd announce it on the news; 'At 7pm this evening look north and you will see Telstar pass over!') She'd tell us kids 'Wave to Russia! Kruschev's taking your picture!"

Grandma also had some strange notions regarding the end of the world. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she would live to see Jesus come again in glory. She would slip this into casual conversation; it wasn't an expression, it was a part of her long-range planning. "I don't know why I bother canning anymore," she'd say, wiping her forehead with her apron ,"Jesus will be here before we even start on these peaches from last year. We need to hurry and eat them before they go to waste. You wont need to eat anything after, you know."

Every time they'd burn off the rye fields the smoke in the atmosphere would cross the moonlight, turning it an eerie purpley-red color. Every year, my grandmother would start telling everyone to get right because this was the beginning of the end. Why? Because the Bible says in Revelations that the moon will turn red right before the end of the world.

The Bible also said that "he will arrive like a thief in the night", which she was certain meant that the end would come at night. Well, makes sense, right? Red moon? The moon comes up at night? And that was that as far as she was concerned.
As far as I was concerned my shit was absolutely freaked out by this whole red moon situation, every year. It scared me to think that some night I'd go to sleep and wake up dead someplace in my pyjamas (probably someplace hot, according to the nuns who taught me that humanity sucks and is uniformly unworthy of salvation and each one of us little six-year-olds were responsible for hammering the nails into Jesus' poor feet etc etc.)

My grandmother knew nothing whatsoever about that crap, though; she was Seventh Day. Her motivation was not to scare anyone; she was simply doing her neighbors a favor, like letting people know that there was supposed to be a big windstorm on its way so put the car in the garage.

For a couple of nights she'd stay up long into the dark, to peek up at the moon as it travelled across the sky, sitting in her rocker by the screen door, reading her bible with a magnifying glass in the lamplight. Every now and then she'd shake some salt onto the screen and knock down the nosy slugs that would climb up and peek in at her. In the middle of the night I could look out the bathroom window and I could see her sitting there, just her and the salty gastropods, waiting calmly for Jesus to stop by, keeping a light on so he wouldn't trip on the steps.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scarlet Ibis: The Hundred Flowers Blooming Ploy!

1. AND SO IT CAME TO PASS that the Stainless Steel Amazon, the Goonybird and FirstNations packed up their smalls and set forth upon the avenues which lead South in those days.

2. After many adventures (primarily at gas stations where they have an attendant that fills the tank for you because its illegal to pump your own damn gasoline in Oregon) we arrived at my sons' house where we were met by a flourish of trumpets! A golden palanquin carried by four ripply fellows burnished to a high shine conveyed us in regal state from our car to the front door! Except not really!

3. Once within the charming inner precincts we found ourselves surrounded by luxury...long-staple cottons, candlelight, a rockin' sectional that I let the baby urp up on...vast machines covered in pushybuttons given wholly unto the washing and drying of garments, hand-laid solid oaken floors bright with Varathane which smiled upon our feet and bade us rest.

4. As we reclined, fanned by comely, doe-eyed boys having just reached the first bloom of early manhood, we


%. The final traces of our travel-weariness was banished then as rare delicacies were pressed upon us with the tenderest entreaty...burritos of the utmost perfection, shy and trembling, newly born; burritos which were both excellent and snacksome to the face.

6. Exhausted, we then laid our heads to rest. The rest of us we also did rest in those days.

G. Upon the rising of the sun we then breakfasted us with coffee darker than the heart of a lifelong Republican, waffles topped with strawberries, whipping cream that I singlehandedly demolished in four days' time like a vast whipping cream-devouring space-time anomaly, succulent bacon upon which all Suidae smiled benevolently and bade us refresh ourselves like that animal in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe but not icky plus the bacon didn't talk.. and there was much rejoicing!

8. So it was that The First-Born, favored of Sucellos, together with She The Magnificent, Beauteous, Beneficent and Unruffled his consort who should really have the good taste to be a little less slim and good looking after three kids I mean COME ON, showered us with abundance....brilliant conversation, pictures zoetropically arranged so as to give the illusion of movement, cunningly home brewed beverages flavored like citrus and autumn...guitar music, cilantro, garlic and wine. Our miniature yet perfectly formed descendants played about our feet and only occasionally regurgitated. Even the dogs strode godlike through the halls, clothed in nature, shod with glory, inasmuch as dogs can be described as shod, which is to say, not at all.

9. For my delight the same Firstborn must surely have bidden Persephone rise up; leave her Stygian, if not aphotic, throne and dance newly clad in forsythia, cherry and asphodel, solely for my amusement on that very morning. It was both surreal and Disneyesque, and it still makes my heart pause.

10. Well breakfasted, I then bade my son take command of the trusty Heefalump Dumpaloon Mach III! Yes, the road was our horse and we used the spurs! Rather the car was like a horse if a horse ran on gasoline, and we drove on the road, and there were no spurs, although there are a lot of cowboys in Oregon, and some of them are gay and some are straight! Yet we saw them not in those days.

11. We halted in our progress to view those precincts over which my son had been made lord and charged with bidding those who toil and that which grew to attend each its separate task and mind it well. While he drug a smaller piece of heavy equipment out of the mire with a much larger piece of heavy equipment, (same rearing back in internally combusting exuberance and causing me to look away and think determinedly happy thoughts for a few moments) I surveyed the bounty of this garden and found its verdure good; both rad and awesome, as are random italics.

12. As is my wont then, I cast a critical eye over the plants which grew in that place, particularly those that were stressed...those plants growing at the end of rows next to the road where the sprayers turn and the tractors tract? FOR IT IS SAID: By the weakest of them shall ye truly know the temper of them all: and they was wickedbad. Awesome. Top of the line. Except for the ones that got run over.

13. Tenacious grasses grasped the earth for roadways between the plots in that place; cover crops covered where crops had been and would be again, those same fully grown or newly sprung, noiselessly, in that place. In the distance a lone peacock sang: YALP.

14. Mommy was PLEASED.

15. I will speak now of a wonder! Draw near: There were mated pairs of redtail hawks flourishing in the streamside brush which ran between and beside his gardens.

16. In a commercial nursery.

17. That's MIRACULOUS.

18. That ain't the way Oregon used to be, kids. It used to be a pesticide-drenched silent nightmare. Birds of prey were rare. You never, never saw them anyplace near human habitation; you had to be quite far out into the backwoods, and even there they were scarce; because those that were not poisoned were routinely shot.

19. But in my sons' gardens? Eagles soaring overhead. (Beavers and Cesnas too.) Redtails in nesting pairs. AND FALCONIDS-! The entire species was essentially WIPED OUT in Oregon by the 70's! (Go check it out. And read the whole article.)
This then also as well too been was the playground of the sparrow and the parkland of the jay, o'er which the robin flew and the chicken picked while the feral pheasant phezzed. Small bright falcons perched upon the high-tension lines like Egyptian amulets, while their larger cousins darted low and then swept on high while the swallow dipped and dodged. The plaintive "gronk" of the lovelorn heron, the voice of the Redwing, the call of the flying rat pigeon were heard throughout the land. Anderi, columbi, falconi, galli, grui, passeri: all these I saw been representin'.

19. And were this not miracle enow, one could hear frogs singing in the creeks which ran past.


20. One of the most environmentally reactive, vulnerable creatures in nature, the one which environmental scientists use as an indicator species re the pollution in any given place. And here they were bouncing around in the sunshine in the middle of my son's in-ground operation.

You want your 'stewards of the earth'?
MY SON, bitches.

21. I asked him then: "Dude, you up for a road trip?"
"Sure," he replied. "I got nothin goin. Where ya wanna go?" ( our conversation recounted here in the charming patois of the natives.)

V. And it followed then that we set forth to visit my deceased Grandmother, but were defeated in this objective by the malign Clackamas County Public Lands department who had locked the gate to the cemetery (and had erected a fence around same, which yet failed to include nearly one fourth of the inhabitants thereof!) Therefore we were not able to visit this monument, yet also was my firstborn spared the excruciating, inevitable ordeal of witnessing his mother reduced to a blubbering, hiccuping, snot-leaking tard for the next several hours. And I was well pleased then, and lifted thanks unto Clackamas County in my heart.

W. From thence we turned and bravely ventured forth for to survey my former haunts and visit with trepidation the memories those environs evoked evocatively. Even unto the very Gate of Hades itself did we dare! Only to find that place become a haven of strangers.

24. Although I missed the huge Butternut tree that used to stand by our garage; it was beautiful.

25. The modest pioneer-built home of my Grandmother stood near. It's weathered timber now sheltered Alternative Folk, guarded 'round about with Gnomes, Cement Deer, Random Outbuildings and Eccentric Fencing. A grim Deaths-Head surmounted by lightning now adorned the garage door, warding away the miscreant and the malefactor and the stealer of Gnomes, while maintaining Death's own silence even unto the present day regarding the Civil War Deserter who once hid in its gasoline-perfumed gloom.

26. My son then drove me in a northerly direction south, south of the Willamette and North of the Suburban wastes, to an inn he was wont to frequent. Much to our mutual astonishment this same turned out to be the very site of mine own youthful, semi-clad adventures; escapades which had become legends that the very building-stones remembered, whispering in measures measured 'midst the humid Willamette nights nocturnally.

27. "Aw fuck!" I cried aloud, my heart thrilling "You cannot believe how many times Mom was baked off her tits on this very spot!"

28. Such was my happiness that I bade the innkeeper be lavish with the food and drink, thus rendering my only male descendant slightly pissed (yeah, you totally were) ere the noontide. "You know what?" he said, blushing a charming red as he spoke "I've never asked a girl out? Not once. Never had to. I have no idea what it is. I guess I just have something the ladies like."

29. Now although I was sore tempted, yet I sullied not this moment with the phrase which rose threatening to break from to my lips: "yeah, that kind of runs in the family" - nay, I merely ejected a portion of my beverage in tribute to those gone before, subsequent to a prolonged glissando of raucous, hooting guffaws. Ere too much longer had passed I had struck the bar a resounding blow with my tiny fist, which act caused the entire establishment to pause in what must surely have been silent admiration.

30. Once I had regained some measure of dignity I gazed in wonder upon this once ravaged locale, now bright with the shining faces of the young and professionally urban, its avenues decked in quirky shops, its residential byways now vacant of poontang purveyors. Neither were there the urine stained victims of the vine strewn like stinky mardigras beads across the verge. Their ranks had thinned; no doubt devoured by marauding bicyclists: whirring, irritating, two-wheeled and ill-clad, like a plague of wino-eating, fashion-challenged locusts upon the earth!
Parking was still dismal, moreso now in these Escaladian latter days than in the tiny goofy econobox days of yore.

31. So the hours passed in a multicolored blur of Thai food, transvestite politicians, laughing, leaping babies, adorable preschoolers teaching themselves to read who had manual dexterity skills rivalling those of Irish lacemakers, and charming, charming, charming young men.

Beware tomorrow! When all my grandchildren will stalk the land in glory, recalcitrant, wild-eyed and able to drive...bearing the incandescent, fulminating and very possibly radioactive DNA of Danger Muk, that sinister Jacobs ladder of traits which breed anarchy, random acts of thought, vandalism, and *gulp* early procreation.

33. And once the world becomes the playground of this Red tide, your masters all: gorgeous, sarcastic and deeply weird, what will the rest of you do? The men, handsome as original sin, will charm you extravagantly; the women, splendid as a comet crossing the firmament, will reap you without mercy.

34. Resistance is futile.