REPORT A PROBLEM
There was something on my mind to write about, but I seem to have forgotten what it was. I think it had something to do with my father. But I write a lot of things about my father. Not so much about my mother. I wonder why that is. He had a Chevy Nova at one time. A turquois one. That would have been the mid-60’s. He would have been building the cabin up north at that time. Just north of Lake Huron about six miles. It would have been the winter he got snowed in. He’d have liked that.
It was some kind of dream or nightmare. It was dark outside, but not the normal color of darkness. It was a kind of blue, a lighter blue. It may have been fog. At least I wasn’t stuck to the ceiling or tied to a post. At least I wasn’t as far as I knew. That was the problem with the rimfast. You never knew when they had you. They just fed new stuff into your brain, stuff that made you think you were ok. They could even make you think you were solving the last puzzle, forever if necessary.
The FedEx driver dropped off a box today. I had been waiting for it. It didn’t sit on the porch sheltered from the snow for very long. I went out in my sock feet to get it. It was in front of the door, so I had to shove it out with the door to get the door open. Putting one foot on the concrete I leaned over and picked the box up with one hand. I took it back inside and set it on the table where I slit it open with my pocket knife. I opened the box.
I’ve had my pocket knife for maybe eighteen months. It is small, maybe three inches. It is a Buck knife. It used to be my father’s knife. He usually carried Case knives, but he switched to a Buck about ten years ago. This one is nearly worn out. He would sharpen knives until you could shave with them, so after several years of sharpening and use a knife would be worn away from the constant polishing on the whetstone. I have tried, but I’ve never been able to put an edge on a knife like he could. Maybe it’s patience.
Pete stood chest deep in the lake at the end of the dock he was building. Nearly seventy, He was thin and had lost his teeth. The boy was walking out part-way on the unfinished dock dragging a minnow net. “You see any fish?” the boy asked. Pete took a tin can off the end of the dock and scooped it in the water and took a deep drink. He swished the lake water in his mouth and spit it out. “Nope,” he said. “You can taste the fish in the water when they are there.”
No, it’s not dark outside, not yet. It’s bright, and the wind is blowing. The ground is green and glistening as far as you can see. It had been daylight for thirty-six hours now, and would be for another fourteen hours. I was fixing breakfast, an omelet. It was a sausage and Swiss omelet. I had some mushrooms that had been shipped in recently and I wanted to eat them before they went bad. At the last minute I chopped up half an onion and threw that in too. At that point there was nothing for it but pouring myself a glass of gummy juice.
I put a jacket on as I went out the door. A water-proof one with a hood, of course. In the garage was the wind buggy parked on the rollers on the garage floor. I got inside and the buggy recognized me, opening the garage door in front of me as I looked at it and flicked my eyes. I could feel the roller carriage lifting the buggy as the garage door opened. I shoved my dark glasses up on my nose and started leaning forward on the handlebars as the buggy hit the grass.
It was already raining. The droplets hit the windshield hard as the buggy cleared the garage. You could hear them hitting the roof. It was always raining on Heaslip. It was always raining everywhere. It rained forty-nine and a half hours a day, 752 days out of 760 a year. The buggy accelerated smoothly ahead of the ion drive. My plan was to keep it on the ground today. Just over the horizon and to my right the top of the tree appeared. There weren’t many of them on this planet, and they weren’t really trees in the normal sense.
I was having a hard time getting out of the chair. My right arm was still bad from the break and I needed to get my weight onto the left side to move forward. It was a deep chair. That was part of the problem. It might have been funny to watch, but those kinds of things aren’t considered funny anymore. I was able to get my left elbow up to the arm of the chair. From there I was able to scoot to the front of the seat without banging the right arm. That was always a painful thing.
I’ve found all of them but one, and that is the hardest one to find. That is how these things are done. I looked through the basement first. I looked through all the junk on the workbench and I checked all the shelves. I even climbed the ladder and looked up over the rafters. I hate looking up over the rafters. Spiders. I checked the attic, replacing the bulb up there so I could. I looked in the kitchen cabinets. I looked in the bathrooms. I went upstairs to look in the study too. What could I have possibly forgotten?
There will come a day, or maybe there won’t. The stuffed animals will take over the earth. They will drive automobiles down slick highways with their puffy little paws. They will sing on the radio with squeaky little voice boxes. They will take turns replacing one another’s batteries. They will always be kind. They will put themselves to guiltless sleep tucked into beds and covered up to their fuzzy chins with sheets and blankets. They won’t have wars though. They won’t plunder the planet. They won’t eat one another. I wonder. Will they watch TV? Will they write 100 Words?
I rode my motorcycle all winter that year. I figured it would be o.k. as long as I was careful. Maybe it was the misplaced confidence of the young. Those big wheels are like gyroscopes. They keep you upright so long as you are moving. In fact I only tipped over once that winter and then I was standing still at a stoplight. The street sloped steeply to the side and I was standing on ice. The bike started to slip on the ice because of the vibration. Then it gracefully tumbled over. It was hard to lift back up.
He watched the other man circling the small fire in the clearing below. It was cold. He wished he had his club with him. It would be easy to overcome the other man if he had the club. All he had now was the stone in the animal skin. He could feel the weight of the stone in his mind, swinging at the end of the skin. He could feel it tugging on the muscles in his arm. The man in the clearing kept circling and pounding his face with his fist. One side of his face was caved in.
Well there was something I was going to put in here, but I seem to have lost track of it. It was good for at least two entries too. I’m sure if I leave it alone for a while it will come back to me. *Sets it by itself on the other end of the couch. Looks away so it doesn’t feel self-conscious. I can be patient when I need to be. I know how to wait this thing out. Any minute now it will start to sweat and squirm. Then It will give up and jump into my lap.
I once thought of consciousness, of the consciousness of an individual, as something independent. I thought it was a portable thing. Just as we can imagine that we are this person or thing or entity, I assumed that an identity could be ported into another person or thing. While this is possible in your imagination, it is not how things work. Your consciousness is not portable. It is an organic product of your physical being. It is unalterably attached to your body. It cannot be ported to another body or organism. To me this change in thinking had profound consequences.
Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. She is now living in New York with her husband, two dogs, two cats, and an infinity of flesh-eating plants which she has a fondness for. I have memories of her along the continuum of her life. These memories will be carried by me for my life and will most likely perish with me. She has her own set of memories and between us there is a Boolean intersection of memories, hers seen from her side and mine seen from my side. I wonder if her set contains a canoe ride in the snow.
My head hurts. That’s ok. It will go away. Or it will morph into a different pain in a different part of my body, perhaps again in my head. The snow is interrupted by clumps of weeds along the railroad. That is one way I remember the snow, interrupted. Another way is knee deep, solid white, and a little damp. Not the snow that is layered with ice. Not the snow that is cold crystals that blow into your face and sting. I remember the snow that falls straight down as if it were in a video game. Individual crystals.
Now, all I have to do is remember the thing I was going to write about. I do this. When I have a writing plan I need to write it down. I should start a new habit. Then I could write a book: The Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Writer. “Many people write,” I might start. “Many people even maintain some of the healthy habits of a highly effective writer. But if you truly want to be a highly effective writer (HEW) you need to understand and practice the seven habits of a highly effective writer, your new religion.”
Wow! I’m really pleased with how my entry turned out yesterday. I wasn’t sure it was going to work at all, but now I’m thinking I have the start for an entire book. The Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Writer. All I have to do is come up with seven habits. That shouldn’t be very hard to do. I’ll just make up some stuff. People write books all the time and all they do is make up stuff. Even people who write non-fiction are making stuff up and then coming up with “evidence” to support it, particularly how-to books.
It was a warm day today. The sun was bright and warm. The grass grew thick in the valley and was warmed by that sun. It turned out to be the day for the trees to drop their nuts. They do that one day a year, and they all fall at the same time. No one knows why they do this, and no one has figured out how to predict when the nuts will drop. They send the children out with sacks to collect the nuts when they fall. They come home dragging their heavy sacks full of sweet nuts.
I remember a beech tree that grew in the upper peninsula. It was the only beech tree I ever remember seeing. It was a lovely tree in a meadow on the edge of a large maple forest. It was a huge bushy thing with a trunk thick as a large covered with silver-grey bark. The tree had a lot of nuts on it. They were covered in a round burred hull. Inside was a small triangular nut. With a little bit of work you could shell out a handful of these nuts and, as I remember, they were fairly tasty.
I was out cleaning horse stalls today. I still smell like horseshit. I think that’s what I smell. The ground outside the barn was covered with a thick sheet of ice. As I hauled the muck buckets to the dump I kept slipping on the ice trying to fall down. The horses were curious to see me when I first came in. One at a time they snorted and got a snoot full of me, reassuring themselves that I wasn’t there to eat them. I filled the water buckets too. Ten large buckets. I kept thinking of Water For Elephants.
The wind is supposed to come today. I am not too worried. I have lived in the wind before. As I say that, I glance over my shoulder to the new construction at the end of the street. They have chip board and plywood walls up, fingers reaching to the sky. It seems that it wouldn’t take much of a wind to start hurling the four-by-eight foot sheets down the street toward us. They have bracing on some of the walls, but clearly the builder doesn’t care about the potential hazard they left when they headed home for the weekend.
There is a lantern on the table, a propane lantern. It is a double-mantle lantern. I think of my father’s cabin in the Upper Peninsula. My father is gone now, as is the cabin, but there was a spike in a rafter there that perpetually held a Coleman double-mantle lantern. I was up there once with a friend. I was on my motorcycle and I had run out of fuel. I chugged a gallon of Coleman fuel into the chrome tank of that BSA and It ran just fine out of the woods and the next six miles into town.
The curtains fluttered in a light breeze. They were sheers. I think that is what that kind of curtain is called. I don’t know if that is the kind of curtain I would pick. I don’t usually pick out curtains. I’m not so good at it. I think the last curtain I picked out was a paisley spread nailed over a window. I did pick out some wood blinds. Those were nice. Then there were the burnt orange insulated drapes I had custom made for an apartment. Now that was a nice decision. Someone else got them when I moved.
Now they are hanging in the window of the Café downtown. They are hanging in the side window, the one the sun comes through. The ones in the front window are those red and white checked ones that cover only half the window. Café is printed on the window over the curtains. There is a picture of a coffee cup beneath the Café sign. I have never actually been inside this café. I have imagined myself in there drinking from a steaming mug of coffee. I’m wearing a sports coat and a green cap. There’s a book on the table.
Inside the café, a sign hangs on the wall. It says Coffee – 5 cents. I don’t think coffee was really five cents in the café. I don’t think you could even get a cup of coffee there for a dollar. The sign was meant to be decorative. I liked to sit in the booth under the five-cent coffee sign. It was my booth. I liked the hard smooth surface of the table, of the curved seat and of the chrome trim around the edge. I liked the spot where the pattern was worn off at eleven o’clock from my plate.
As I sat there nursing my coffee, I played with a quarter, trying to spin it on its edge. It was an older quarter and the edge was rounded off and this seemed to make it more difficult to spin on its edge. At least that was the theory I was going with this afternoon. The rest of the café was empty and the sun was beaming through the front window. The door opened and a man walked through briskly, carrying a laptop under his arm. He took a stool at the counter and ordered a coffee and a donut.
The Tip Jar