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The lizard was looking at him. Its back was covered with a seemingly random pattern of red dots. The lizard blinked and then rushed off into a crack up under the porch. TAlie stepped up onto the single step and then onto the porch, listening to his heels knock on the wood. He took two steps across the porch, bending to retrieve the two newspapers in plastic tubes that had accumulated there. He pulled open the screen door by the deer antler nailed there and held it open with his knee while he fished his keys out of his pocket.
Opening the heavy green door was made more difficult by the newspapers TAlie was trying to hold. He fumbled for a moment and then dropped the newspapers back onto the porch and inserted his key into the worn brass lock. The lock turned smoothly, and the door squeaked only a little. TAlie left the papers on the porch and went inside, turning on the light and the overhead fan. Pocketing his keys, he crossed the room and pulled the filter basket out of the pot. He dumped the old filter into the trash and rinsed the basket at the sink.
TAlie put a new filter in the basket and added the requisite amount of coffee to the basket, levelling and counting each scoop carefully. He returned the basket to the coffee machine and flicked it on. While it started its brew cycle he pulled the trash bag, complete with the old coffee filter, tied it off and carried it outside. There he put it into the back of Stoney’s green pick-up truck. He noticed Stoney was still asleep inside. The windows were covered with drops of moisture from the morning dew. He let Stoney sleep and walked back inside, yawning.
The fog has nearly rained itself out this morning. The clock strikes ten times. The deck is slick with moisture, and you have gone to your office to pray. Pray is the word that comes to my mind and this word will not leave. It is like the Carl Sandberg poem that leaps onto the deck rail when I see the fog, and the smoky grey cat I am reminded of. So, pray is what you do in there with your accounts and figures. With your receipts and aging Apple computer. The light that surrounds you leaks out the door.
It was snowing, and then it wasn’t. You remarked on that. You said you didn’t want me to leave, when I had already made up my mind to do just that. You said It seemed like I was angry. I am. I feel like you want me to knuckle under when I am already knuckled under as far as I can go. I feel like I try to explain this to you, but you cannot hear me. You are too busy listening to your own theories about what is wrong with me, what is wrong with my children, my family.
I like my Fleawatt. It’s my Fleawatt and there is no other exactly like it. It is made with genuine respect and craftsmanship, and it uses parts that are selected because the maker has decided that, all other things being equal, that part makes the amplifier sound better. When I first received the amplifier, I admired its simplicity, replacing the tube amp I built with my grandson and I bought every upgrade that was offered for it. It had an R-Core transformer, just like the Fleawatt. I really didn’t expect the Fleawatt to compete with the Elekit, but it did.
You sometimes hear audiofolk describe their kit as something that makes them interested in the music they are hearing, that makes them forget about the gear. The Fleawatt does that for me. It also does something else; it surprises me. There are times when I think someone has come into the room and has spoken to me, but it is just the Fleawatt talking, or I think I have left the window open and there is someone outside, but no; it is winter and the windows are closed. I think the Fleawatt doesn’t really have a sound of its own.
I tried doing a voice recording while walking. I used to do a lot of writing that way. Unfortunately, the voice recorder thing did not work. Unfortunately, my file was not saved. Could it have been a user error? I could nearly recall it from memory, however. The trick to writing these things is often to recall details from memory. Either that or to make things up. Making things up is a slippery slope. Eventually you are writing fiction and you don’t know how you got there. Worse, you no longer remember what is true and what you made up.
Today is my eleven-year anniversary for quitting smoking. It was about 2 p.m. this day eleven years ago that I made two pivotal decisions and crushed out my last cigarette. It must have been cold that day. Perhaps it was snowing. It occurs to me that I could find that out. Perhaps I could learn even more my consulting my 100 Words from that day. Forty-seven members completed batches that month. It had been snowing before that day, but that day the snow was melting. The heavy damp snow is starting to settle in the chairs out on the deck.
Listening to the children sing “London Bridge” sweeps me up into a vision of my own childhood. I am standing at the corner of the elementary school, the northeast corner. I think my left hand is touching the wire-cut bricks there. The play yard is covered with gravel and broken rocks. There is a “boy’s side” and a “girl’s side.” The boy’s side is east of the building and the “girl’s side is west of the building. I am looking over to the “girl’s side” because we are about to play a game where the boys and girls play together.
We rarely go into those places any more. They are from the old time, the old folk, and the old folk are all gone now. We have only the stories they told us and objects that are passed down from generation to generation. There are the holy objects and the books of knowledge that are kept in the special temples. People say the books of knowledge have long ago fallen apart, and cannot be read anymore, even if someone could be found who remembered the language. Who would want to read them anyway? This knowledge is forbidden. Everyone knows that.
This is a good place to talk about the horses. I spend a lot of my time with the horses. I think I am sometimes more comfortable with the horses than with the other people. They are big and slow-moving, like me, except when they are fast, but even when they are fast it seems to me that there is a slowness to them. That is what I think about it. My father said the old folk nearly lost the horses at one time, and that is hard to imagine because they are such an integral part of our lives.
I will start working in a little bit. Or maybe I will stop working then. Of course, it depends on how you define work; how you define what you do. Maybe even breathing is the slow work of life. In and out. Out and in. It is like swimming, in a way. I think swimming is very much about breathing. It is breathing while you are moving through the water. The form of the stroke is useless if it does not let you breathe. Sometimes you breathe in a slow rhythm. Sometimes you breathe deep and quickly. First comes breath.
Today was a day for swimming. I seem to like swimming. I go to the pool twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, other things allowing. Other things include doctor appointments for me or for my partner. For example, this Thursday I have a hot date with the tooth fairy. The appointment is 1:30, and there is just not enough time for me to get out of the pool, shower and dress, and make it to the dentist’s office on time. The pool is 25 meters, 14 feet deep in the swim lanes, and I like that for some reason.
I forgot that the piano lesson was cancelled today. I practiced through the morning and, as the time approached to leave, I packed up my book and put on shoes and a hoodie and headed out the door. That was when I remembered my teacher telling me there would be no lesson this week. I wasn’t sure, though. The memory was dawning on me slowly. So I called the music store and asked if my teacher were in today. No, I was told. She is on vacation this week. Now I have a little time to catch up on things.
It’s a cold evening. I think this is the first time this year the temperature has dropped like this. I was dancing with the tooth fairy this afternoon. The snow was flying and swirling against the window. I had thought about walking to the appointment. It was probably just as well that I didn’t. I think the temperature dropped ten degrees while I was there. The girl who cleaned my teeth was young. She had young skin and a fine spray of moles across her neck. She said I had been one of her first patients when she started there.
I saw the movie, “Joker,” last night. Rented it at a Redbox in Walmart. I was reminded of DeNiro’s performance in Taxi Driver years ago. Another angry young man, a bit stressed in the head, running around New York shooting bad people and becoming a kind of folk hero. It was an odd kind of movie, making me think about values and how subjective they are. You get an idea, and you run with it. A million people get a different idea and run with it. The idea of “right” goes to the winners. That’s all there is: the winners.
We got the big snowfall today. Well it was not quite as big as the forecasters predicted. That happens a lot. After all, there is big money in forecasting big disasters. The problem, of course is that people will start to learn to ignore the forecasts, and when something really big comes along they will be in trouble. But the big forecast draws big audiences to the news channels. It draws big crowds into the advertiser’s stores. It gives a boost to the big forecast weatherman’s ratings which means he will be more likely to get the next big job.
My toes have stopped being cold tonight. I put the house shoes on. They always keep my toes warm when nothing else will. Even with socks, when I am inside my feet get cold. They get cold when I’m working in the barn too. I think it is the concrete floor. I think the concrete sucks heat out of your feet. I have bought a package of those chemical feet warmers. I will try them out when I go to the barn to work Monday. I am hoping I will be able to get my muck boots on with them.
I let the temperature drop inside today. It’s been far too warm in here for too long, and I cranked it down to 69. It felt good at first. Now I am feeling a bit of a chill. This is what happens when you leave me alone. I start changing things. For example, I re-wired the stereo. I can now initiate music programs without leaving my chair, and everything works. I find I am a little surprised at how much the technology for sources has changed. No longer a turntable and a tuner. Now I’ve got Bluetooth and a streamer.
They are peaching The President today. He sits on the board over the dunk tank looking out from under his bush eyebrows at the crowd. His pant legs are rolled up to his knees, and he has no shoes. They have not dunked him yet. They have, however, peached him several times. Sometimes a thrower will step to the line and just chuck the peach at The President instead of the target. They are not supposed to do that, but the crowd is a little unruly today. Meanwhile he is wondering how he let himself be maneuvered into this mess.
It sometimes strikes me the degree to which we are influenced by media, and particularly TV. Often when I am faced with a difficult decision I turn to the TV version of myself to ask what he would do in a similar circumstance. I see me living in the TV set of my life, with the props surrounding me. I wonder how changing this prop or that set will feel. And I always get the same answer. I feel the same thing that I feel when watching TV. I feel insulated from the events of my life. I feel nothing.
I went swimming today. Fifteen laps – that’s three-quarters of a kilometer. Swimming slows my respiration down. I pay more attention to my breathing. My brain slows down a bit too, tending to focus on one thing at a time. I think that is because swimming is really an unnatural act for humans, and we have to think about it. Blow out your air as you raise your head. Arms back, pulling your head above the surface. Inhale now. Duck your face back into the water and lower your head while you whip kick. Your arms simultaneously shoot forward, streamlining you
Today was a day with the horses. It was cold, and the ground was covered with a thick layer of ice. The barn floor was dry though. It is concrete, and the horses’ stalls are floored with a kind of thick rubber matting. My job was to muck manure out of the stalls, eight of them. I am sometimes confused about why I do this, but in the main it is something I feel good about. The horses are patient with me, encouraging even sometimes. They were very excited at the end when time came to pass out the hay.
The house was off the road maybe a quarter mile and there were three or four inches of wet snow. I stumbled fifteen or twenty feet through the woods, stepping over a couple sets of deer prints, and settled between two trees to pee. It was another hundred yards to the house. I left my car in the drive. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get back out with the snow. I walked up to the left side of the house. There were deep ravines on either side. A barn was another hundred yards back in the woods.
I was up earlier than I needed to be today. I was restless. Adj ~ unable to rest or relax as a result of anxiety or boredom. Here the dictionary gives me a reason for my restlessness. Dictionary assumes that I am anxious or bored. It doesn’t take into consideration other possibilities or aspects of the human condition. Perhaps I had a nightmare. Perhaps I have a recurring nightmare and get up early in the morning to get away from it. Perhaps I have chronic pain and I find that moving to a different position at night alleviates this pain.
The railroad tracks settle into the snow and rip off into the distance, plugging into the horizon beyond. Rooted in the soil and pine needles along the embankment trees make micro-movements against the sky, slowly breathing in and out under the weighted blanket of sky. I am trying to relax here. It is simple, they say. The people who don’t have any trouble relaxing say it is simple. That is because some things are simple for some people, while the same things are more difficult for others. Likewise, the things that are simple for me might be difficult for others.
In the human garden I’m a lionausaurus. I walk the game trail alone and I fear no evil. The flowers bend as I pass. I feel the moss against the pads of my feet. I can smell the stench of soil. I know eyes are watching me, but I fear not. My teeth and my claws comfort me. They make me strong. My fur protects me and warms me. My enemies fall before me. They present a banquet before me and tie a napkin about my neck. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
I feel the buzz of the life light in my bones, in the metal and the marrow. I can sense the heat. Even with my eyes closed I can see the sun on the horizon. I can feel its pull against the muscles in my body. We exist in darkness, in the space between sub-atomic particles, in the space between the spaces, between planets and galaxies. We are huge. We are insignificant. In the space between universes. We are replicated a billion times over only to discover there are new areas and new dimensions we had never dared dream existed.
It is a day like any other. Soft snow stretches out over the park, and a brief mist hangs in the air. We seem to have unfinished business, this day and I. It keeps coming back to me. When I clear my mind and open my eyes, there the day is, this particular day, and I once again don’t understand what it wants. I had not, until this moment, ever considered the idea of a day having wants, or motives. But it has become obvious to me that something unusual is going on in my apprehension of this particular day.
My attention is captured by the slow movement of a clock pendulum. As I watch it, the clock chimes. The sounds of the chimes pass through my body and hang in the air for a while. The pendulum continues its slow progress. At the terminus of each swing there is a soft mechanical click from the machinery. It carries a reflection with it as it moves. It doesn’t go anywhere, and yet at the same time it is on an epic voyage through time. Odd that it is also a clock. Someday it will wear out. It will stop working.
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