Monday, November 23, 2009

The Original 1776

It has come to my attention that the Constitution is obviously the original, inerrant word of our founding fathers, all 50 to 200 of them, depending on how you count. These guys rocked. They were gods, actually. But they died. Anyway, they couldn't have been wrong. And they aren't open to interpretation, FYI. They wrote a truly awesome document, and we need to stick to it, down to the letter of the law (even if they were confused about u's and v's) and the times they lived in, and the intent we divine for.. er... I mean, from them.

And here, we'll find something for everyone! I guarantee it!

First off, we need Thirteen Colonies, the original thirteen. No more. No less. We can call them states, but nothing West of South Carolina is ours. And the rest of this great manifest destiny reverts back to the Natives. And that means that you and I need to start packing and bust a move on our own trail of tears and cram ourselves back in to the hell of the Eastern Seaboard. Button down white shirts an khaki slacks for all. Las Vegas belongs to the Native Americans, but I'm sure they'll let you visit.

A wife's paycheck legally belongs to her husband. That's the original institution of marriage that our founding fathers intended, undiluted, thank you very much.

Ethan Allen must return to leading a well appointed militia with matching cannons.

Corporations don't exist in 1776. They don't have rights. They don't vote. They don't count, not even money.

Gas-taxes on asses of gas-passing horses.

Global warming didn't exist in 1776, just like today! (But could some one explain to me exactly what the motivation would be to make up the so-called-totally-not-founding-fathersy climate change conspiracy? That's where I'm stuck.)

No electricity (and thereby no utility TAXES!!). No TV's, digital or analog. No radios. No computers. No blogs. You shouldn't be reading this, you unpatriotic infidel.

No hand washing. No baths. No deodorant. No indoor plumbing.

Which brings us to our moral obligation to toss our shit in the streets. As our founding fathers intended.

Wigs. Large rolling white waves of wigginess.

A hell of a lot more Congregationalists, Quakers and Unitarians in leadership. A hell of a lot more.

In 1776 there were no emission standards, not for our little cook fires. Just so long as we all get by on burning faggots in our hearths, no emission standards should be required.

Voting rights: for land owning white men only. That means condo owners and Penthouse renters are excluded because they don't own land... only platforms in air. No votes! Count em. None.

Health Care regulation doesn't exist because health care consists almost entirely of liberal applications of rum. Wifely income is spent mostly on health care. See, things wouldn't be that different from today!

And the centerpiece of our 1776 reversion is gun rights. A FULL and COMPLETE right to bare arms, just so long as they are three feet long and take five minutes to reload. Just like the ones our beloved founding fathers owned.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Morning Has Broken

6 am.

A nose peeks out of fleece sheets and wool blankets. It wiggles, sniffs, directs sensitive nose hairs in all directions, antennae. 25 degrees in the Fahrenheit, it concludes. 22, if you want to go dramatic. A glow around the dark wood blinds hint at snow.

Yes, the hippocampus recalls the snow ball fight last night. Then it remembers the cow in the barn, full of milk presumably.

The legs moan, drunk in relaxation. Not moving. For twenty minutes the brain and bones argue, scream, come to blows. Six AM is a violation of Saturday codes.

The longer it takes, the angrier the cow, the less milk she gives. And giving it is. She's learned to hunch her back and hold it in when she's mad. Saves it for the calf, almost as big as she is now, and whom she sometimes tries to nurse on herself.

Fine, then. The body gives in. It must. But today, things will be different.

The barn door is frozen shut. Milker's arms with new and surprising twin sunrises of biceps slam the metal door. Ice cracks off and the wall slides over. Snow has drifted in, onto the chicken water and the fly trap. Hendrika sways deep in her stall. Her eyes are watery and she looks like she's going to spew her cud. She's guilty and stricken. She'd whistle if she could. That overly casual tune announcing, "Nothin' unusual here. Just the same ol' same ol'."

But even morning eyes can see that's not true. Because she can't close the stall door behind her. It's still wide open. The hippocampus forgot she could do that if latches weren't checked.

An entire bale of alfalfa is strewn across the barn. With a cow, you don't feed the animal so much as the bacteria in their 40 gallon gut. A sudden food change creates a famine for one bacteria. But the guys needed for this new stuff have yet to get up to speed. Hence, the cow is left with no digesters for the time being. And 90 pounds of alfalfa filling her up.

Whatever she hasn't eaten is blanketed in a soft brown fleece of squirts.

"Yeah. right. You're saying you don't know anything about all this."

When the hand grasps the teets with a hot wash cloth, they feel wet already, warm, flaccid, empty. The mind reels. Sukey's already nursed this morning through the bars of her stall. The imagination boggles. Sukey burps softly, a milky burble. Her mother echoes, a rancid belch. Then a sigh.

There's no use miking. Of feeding either bovines. Neither was there a point to getting out of bed. After all that, the legs might have won just this once. Now they vote to go back. But the barn boots are on and the place seriously needs a mucking out.

Hendrika trots after the wheelbarrow. Sifts through the wreckage of her wild night, now topping the compost pile like a maraschino cherry. Her digestive tract is gaining ground again. And she's ready to send it all through once more.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Like a Surgeon

My father-in-law is here! And this is a good thing. This house, however nicely done up, has some pockets of serious neglect and misuse. For instance, part of having a home is protection from the elements. Thus, a set of french doors and their windowed henchmen, improperly installed, becomes a farce, a joke of a shelter. An entire east wall which laughs: "Helter Shelter! Taheeeheeeheee."

And the house inspector also becomes a farce. I, I had an excuse for not noting the one inch gap, the way the door wouldn't open against a swelling checkered floor, the way the weather stripping hung off like a drunk stripper passed-out halfway through her routine. My excuse was that I was in love and love, if not totally blind, has some seriously limited vision issues - by choice. The doors were so cute, how could they be criminal? I wouldn't believe it even if the inspector had noticed. "Oh no, doors this adoorable don't sin. They can't."

Eventually, with men, I learned to look for faults I could live with before falling head over heals. Because love, once it strikes, makes every issue seem like a brilliant foible of All Great Men. I have yet to learn that with houses, and since I will move from this place only with a shotgun in my cold dead hands, I won't have a chance to.

The inspector also didn't notice other key items. Of course it's hard to notice things that aren't there, like dryer vents. But the water saturated kitchen window sill would have given an unskilled and un-in-love eye some clue about leakages.

Whatever. Here we are now. I still love this old cold house. And although my bedroom door slammed shut during a wind storm, I adore it. I'd live here even if I'd known all it's sins.

And also, we've got Richard, Huck's dad. He's unfortunately currently laid off from foremanning/superintending towers in downtown Seattle. Fortunately, that frees him up to help all of his loved ones with their wood and nails projects. It's like having a brain surgeon volunteering as a school nurse. I read a house inspection from a home he once built and it said something like, "In all my 20 years, I have never seen a house so perfectly built, so square, so solid, with such attention to detail." And this is the man re-installing our doors... and also fixing the rotten floor beneath them. He also babysits and cleans up after himself in the kitchen too! No, you can't have him.

Coyote was his big helper, picking up errant screws and wood scraps. We leaned in close to watch his work. And I said, "Pay close attention, Coyote, this is extremely useful work. It's very important to know how to do this stuff."
One second later, Grandpa Construction-worker, absorbed by his efforts, screamed, "WHAT KIND OF OVARIES DID THE F*** A** WHO INSTALLED THIS PIECE OF S*** HAVE?!!!"
We backed away.
"Okay, don't pay THAT close of attention. I'm sure Grandpa's not really a raving misogynist. He's just used to working with lots of men..."

Many unexpected twists and two days later than scheduled, the door whispers shut. It's perfect. But not perfect enough.

"Listen." He says, "Listen to how it slides shut like that."
"Wow. Perfect." I say.
"Not quite." He holds up his hands, pinches the air, pinky out like a wine or cheese connoiseur, and says, "No, not yet. I want it to glide. Just a little more sanding, I think." And he says it like he's speaking of the finest wine this earth has ever seen.

The room is warm, the fire is crackling. I've been reading in my chaise lounger and falling asleep all morning. This, this is shelter, people. This is a human right.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mother May I?

Dear Mother,
I have a really big problem and I hope you can help. Okay. Here goes. My daughter brought home, from school, a paper cut-out of a bear. The bear is wearing popsicle stick skis. It is surrounded by mounds of cotton balls. This is on a paper plate. What am I supposed to do with this?
-Don’t want to hurt her feelings in Wenatchee

Dear Don’t,
I am so sorry to hear about your recent experiences with school crafts. It is a great tragedy and your peaceful home most likely didn’t deserve to be infected thusly. Enough with the grief however, and lets get going on remediation. Obviously, as you have contacted me in your dire moment of despair, you are unwilling to throw it in to the garbage, in the dead of night, sneak the bag into the trunk of your car and dispose of the evidence down the end of a dirt road. I assume you have already considered and rejected that most obvious of solutions. In which case, I will lay out your alternatives:

1) You should approach the school. This should be done cautiously, without using your legal name. Gently but firmly let the teacher know that your daughter (who shall wisely remain nameless) is not allowed to use cotton balls or popsicle sticks, that you have deeply held beliefs about such things and would appreciate it if the school could show a little “cultural sensitivity” to your family’s unusual but perfectly legitimate and legally protected beliefs. Of course, that will not solve the current issue of this particular “craft”, but should prevent additional incidences.

2) Keep it on the mantle above your fireplace. I won’t actually endorse this so-called solution, as it may result in lugging the craft object around for the rest of your life. It will become familiar. It will become an old treasure. And in your waning years you will defend its existence to the home health care nurse:
“No! Don’t touch that!”
“But it’s covered in two inches of dust!”
“It’s a family heirloom!”
"A health hazard.”
“It was made by someone I love!”
“I can’t remember.”
“Why are you keeping it?”
“I… I…” you’ll falter, “I just don’t know anymore.” Pathetic.

3) Use the plate. Yes! Try it! Bring it along on a picnic and use the paper plate. Sure there will be cotton chunks in the baked beans and popsicle sticks in the hot dogs. But were those foods so great without sticks and puffs? This will make your daughter feel important, your big helper. Downside: she may continue making them, imagining them to be very helpful.

4) Encourage your daughter to play with it in the bath. Within minutes, it will be completely unsalvageable. This could, however, backfire when your daughter insists that it IS salvageable. In that case, your troubles will double.

5) Store it. Yes, the cotton puffs will fill an entire double sized storage box. However, years later when you pull it out, all you will see is your daughter’s (which one? You’ll never remember) obedient execution of her clever little teacher’s crafty plan.

6) Return it to the teacher, with a D for creativity, a D for functionality, a D for educability, and an F for considerate behavior. Again, name withheld.

7) Write your teacher, your principal, your superintendent, your senators, your president and plead for the eradication of cotton balls and popsicle sticks from all schools, pre-schools, after-school programs, and teacher training materials. Cotton balls are for something, I don’t know what, but not crafts. And let us all work together to keep popsicle sticks out of schools and in the popsicles to which they belong. Thank you.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I found the perfect graveyard for my yearly stroll through those who have gone before. A stone fence, jagged and lichen splotched. Tall, leaning stones, worn by time, death to death, so that the names were nearly erased. And the sun, sunk below the heavy blanket of clouds so that it shone a gold spot light on the birch with the white trunk and fiery leaves.

Late October is the time, I've heard, where the veil between the worlds is thin and beings pass easily between. I don't know if that's true. Nor do I know it's not true. What can't be proven, proof wise, is what doesn't exist. So what if? What if there is a veil? What if there are worlds, plural? What if the veil between them is thin? Well, then, I'd like to be listening.

And what if that's not the case?
Who cares? A fresh contemplation of the brevity of life and our own mortality is rarely a bad idea. My dad never took me to playgrounds, only graveyards. It was better for the mind, he always explained. So I suppose that informs my concept of fun.

And there they were: the dead. The loving mothers. The devoted fathers. The baby Does. I imagine them in photos in that black and white world they inhabited. Their leather shoes, flat and cold with the laces always breaking. Those curls, laying for one still moment in eternity on their baby cheeks. Children, grown and dead. I could see Al and Ava dancing, maybe the Charleston, on a warm summer night by the lake, the band playing. All those musicians are dead now too.

Yesterday morning, Coyote crawled into bed with me. He does this less and less and I miss it more and more. Although, Huck and I share a full size bed, which is way too small for two people, much less three. But we squeeze him in still, and I hold on tight so he won't wall off. And because it won't last forever. So he turns to me and says, "You know mother, we won't be together for much longer."
"Why NOT?"
"Because I will grow old. I will be as old as a grandpa soon."
"So, why can't I be with you then?"
"You'll be dead."
How frank.

He inherited this collapse of time from me. I wailed through my sixteenth birthday because I knew the next would be #87.

When you parent with some one else, say a spouse, you see your own strange ideas, like graveyards for fun and imploding time. Huck's set of neurosis put mine in contrast and I wonder where mine came from. My childhood was a bowl of cherries by comparison to many others I've heard of. And, to be noted, childhoods are never responsible for the whole story. Nevertheless, I trace some vein of my parenting style and reactionary issues to my parents. Seeing how they were raised, I know where they got their ideas. And knowing how my grand parents were raised, I can see where they came from. And it goes back and back and back as far as the eye can see. Really! Some of my issues go all the way back to my great-grandmother, an alcoholic who parented her 12 kids for only a few hours of the day. Beyond that, I don't know. But I'm sure my great grandmother got her shit from somewhere. That's not to say that we aren't responsible in the here and now for our own shit, but it's traceable.

These dead folks still have a say in me, I guess. These are the real ghosts. A thousand ghosts live within me, in my DNA, in my history. A host of dead ancestors haunt me. History haunts us all.

Speaking of spooks, there was dentist trauma all over the place here this week. And what could be scarier than dentists?!

I pined for Dr. Pape back in Wenatchee as Dr. R took a mass excavator to my teeth, and his assistant rolled her eyes when I insisted I couldn't have epinephrine in my Novocaine. I can't even take Sudafed. Oh, fine, I almost said, if it's too inconvenient just give me the epi-nov and see what happens! THAT will be inconvenient! It's like they forget that my mouth and my body are MINE. Not just work, but someone's personal space.

Blue's substitute dentist strong armed me into a mass of extractions. He looked at her mouth, exclaimed, "What a beautiful smile!" and then ripped it out. It's like he forgot what teeth are for! Not just pretty things for the perfect grin, but also for, like, eating. How will she do that with 1/2 her teeth missing, her mouth mutilated? I feel sick about it. How could I consent to that? How could I be so bamboozled? I could blog for a long time about that...

That morning, when I made her lunch, I sent an apple, thinking we were going in for a 20 minute extraction of a back baby tooth that wouldn't get out of the way. She has this problem repeatedly. Part shark, I guess. After the sudden removal of all her teeth, I realized she wouldn't be eating an apple. I considered keeping her home and IV-ing her smoothies, but it was the class Halloween party. So we picked up a can of mandarin oranges with a finger-open lid. She asked the poor-substitute-for-a-teacher to open it and the lady REFUSED! Said, "What kind of mother sends her kid to school with a can she can't open." Instead of lunch, Blue got an earful about what kind of mother she had. When I heard about this, I let loose the appropriate string of expletives about just what kind of teacher... THAT's the kind of mother Blue has. And what about all those mothers sending their kids to the cafeteria for corn-dogs and chik'n nuggets? And what kind of mother sends her child to a school where they have a substitute like that? Well! That's just what I'm asking myself these days...

Then I realized that this woman, too, is haunted by a host of ancestors. She's a bitch. She's the only one responsible for being a bitch. But she's clearly got baggage that's probably not helping. And that baggage was handed to her by the previous generation, a poisoned baton in this sick relay race.

This All Souls Day, I'm contemplating just how many ghosts haunt us and our fellow humans. The many specters of horror that birthed us. And how, just how, are we going to break free of this ball and chain, Jacob Marley?

And I'm now plotting how I'll haunt my great grand kids, and yours.


photos: O why isn't there a caption contraption on this blog?
Blue as Lady Jane Grey, beheaded teenage queen (she just read a biography of her)
Coyote was a Karate kid, his choice.
I was ye olde stand-by: corn flower. I can get INTO costumes, but this year I had no where to show off. Apparently my costume enthusiasm requires an audience.
The warty pumpkin Huck picked out was too tough for kitchen tools.


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