Saturday, November 29, 2008

yesterday was hard

Lee found her. Close to home, beneath juniper branches and leaves, lifeless but intact. We suspect she was hit by a car and crawled into the brush. She still looked so D -- I found myself staring at her belly to be certain it was no longer making little ups and downs.

I took the kids over to Mom's for a belated Thanksgiving dinner while Lee took D over to his dad's to bury her. Now she makes things grow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

recommended reading

Okay, so clearly I have not yet gotten the camera and am still using my cell phone, but Christmas is a-comin', so it could happen. I just had to post this grainy shot anyway, because among the pile of books I found in Leah's bed (just next to an issue of Captain Underpants) was Mom's. (To be clear to readers who might come away thinking I'm a Durr, Mom edited this autobiography from recorded interviews.)

Now, to be honest, I think Neal grabbed it when she asked him to bring her a big book to put under some drawing paper, but still, it was neat to happen upon this particular juxtaposition of books in my daughter's bed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I think normally people ask you to do these, but I ripped mine off of a blog I was browsing via another blog:

(Mother’s & father’s middle names)

NASCAR NAME: Curren Cecil
(First name of mother’s dad, father’s dad)

STAR WARS NAME: Wamarg (Wameg for short)
(First 2 letters of last name, first 4 letters of first name)

(Favorite color, favorite animal)

SOAP OPERA NAME: Barnard Hayden, but everybody calls me Pace
(Middle name, city where you live)

(2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink)

FLY NAME: Maes (or Mees; it's superfly to have an alternate spelling)
(First 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)

GANGSTA NAME: Strawberry Thin Mint
(Favorite ice cream, favorite cookie)

ROCK STAR NAME: Sika Pinecrest
(Current pet’s name, current street name)

PORN NAME: Candy Overlook
(1st pet, street you grew up on)

day three

Some things just don't fit. When your dog disappears, vocabulary is too snug; requires unbuttoning. There is no trace of predator, no trace of accident, no trace of unfortunate event. Coyote, car, snake -- there is none of that. She does not roam away from home. Ever. We have called and driven and walked and made signs. Leah made a list of places to look, and clues, and kept asking, But what's different about today? And the answer is nothing. Nothing but the missingness.

We keep expecting her to show, keep looking sideways out the front door, over to where her bed and an unopened bag of dog food wait for her return. My head feels cloudy, as though there is something that will suddenly become clear: Oh yeah, I forgot, she's in the ....

Yesterday, a turkey ambled through our yard, mingled with the chickens for a bit, and went on her way. I might normally take this as a sign of good fortune -- a Thanksgiving shout out from Mother Nature. Instead it just seemed weird and haunted. Nothing fits.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

tending fires

Field grows frost in the big of night,
in the negative space where cold and quiet silently implode,
leave behind the empty big of night
where slow things grow.

Earthworms find us out,
discover we have made sun like gods of the indoors,
abandon the unturned compost,
curse the floor and wither.

We want to make a man of snow.
In the shadow of the broken rooted oak,
shoulders under shawl of hay and leaves,
we shall build his predictable demise,

then crawl inside to tend the fire.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the left side of the page

Look what I found in Leah's school tote bag. Pretty typical Alabama split.

I had to laugh when I heard someone in another state talk about using a touch screen to cast her ballot. Here in Hayden, we used black magic markers to connect one side of an arrow to another.

home on the free (?) range

Free range chickens. You think you're so natural and eco-friendly -- tossing your corn, strewing your hay, gathering your eggs. So many eggs -- you give them away! And the surprise chicks are adorable, aren't they?

Flash forward. Going on 20 chickens, all but three of which are hens, laying eggs everywhere but the coop and roosting in the trees. They're still great garbage disposals -- between them, the rabbit, and the compost, not a scrap of food is ever really wasted. But when there are so many, it's hard to think of them as pets, and when you're not willing to eat grocery store eggs anymore, but you're not gathering any, either -- well, not a lotta egg eatin' goin' on. Which is kind of a bummer.

Our neighbor Mister Sanders says they'll come back to the coop in the spring. And he's probably right -- most chickens don't lay much in the fall and winter. And after the sadness that accompanied the death of our first Rooster, Eddie, I was tickled when the new roosters, hatched in the summer, began crowing for the very first time just last week. A feeble but noble attempt, growing stronger each day. No better sound in the world to wake up to.

So we strategize. We make plans to lure the chickens into the coop and create a chicken run, so that they have limited freedom but also no choice but to lay where we can find the eggs. Because as much as I love having them roam about, the romance is over, and I want mine scrambled, thank you very much.


Leah: Mommy, Neal's putting his butt in my face.

Me: Neal, stop putting your butt in other people's faces. I mindlessly continue to fold two loads of clothes.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

how to prepare for an economic downturn

1. Move into a house that you find on the side of the road. Strike a deal with the owner that you will be nice to the house in exchange for taking comfort in the house.

2. During the first couple of months at the house, boil water on a camp stove to heat the bath water that was filled from the hose into the tub on the front porch, because you have not yet treated the house to a working bathroom. Hang your children's giant, multicolor parachute in front of the tub so that the rare passing car doesn't see you naked in a tub on your porch.

3. Spit your toothpaste off the side of the porch during those first couple of months, too.

4. Again on the front porch, wash your dishes in a different tub and dry them on a rack. You do not need the parachute for this. It is okay for rare passing cars to see this. They will just think you are a bit strange. But you're pretty sure they already thought that.

5. Send your children to public school. This has the added benefit of authenticating your belief that the government should provide decent public education for all children, and inspiring you to become actively involved in that cause, because you are now privy to the actual budget.

6. Get free food from yours and your neighbors' gardens.

7. Sleep with your family in a tent inside your house because of the spiders. When you finally overtake the spiders and create actual bedrooms, you don't take them for granted. And you know that you could go back to sleeping in a tent if you had to.

8. Save up for a wood burning stove. In advance of your purchase, be sure you have acquired a husband who will become obsessed with scavenging free wood from the side of the road.

9. Come by your other big ticket items in curious ways. For instance, rather than purchasing a television set, get one for free from your husband's brother's anarchist friend who found it necessary to flee to Canada all of sudden.

10. Eat rice. A lot of rice.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Rainbow over Birmingham

Lately as I drive down the road, wishing I could capture the colors of this season in words or paint or pixels, I find myself erupting into spontaneous fits of laughter. Barack Hussein Obama. I don't think many people have felt anything but cynicism toward the government since Watergate days. Who would have guessed that we would feel a collective sense of hope again?

(And by the way, rabbits poop a LOT.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

bumper sticker politics

Like many Americans, and at long last, I woke up this morning feeling proud of our country. But even before the acceptance speech of last night, I was already feeling hopeful, and not just because of the polls.

The other day, I spotted a car with a "Choose life" license plate. I happen to be in favor of a woman's right to choose what happens to her body, but the thing that struck me about this car with this license plate is that it also had a blue dot sticker and an Obama sticker on the bumper. In all my travels along the interstates and highways of this state, I have never until that moment seen someone express any level of complexity on his or her bumper. It's usually either "You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands" or "F the president." What we would normally think of as a mixed sociopolitical message struck me as diversity of thought and a refreshing expression of opinion without any accompanying obnoxiousness.

A few days later, I was recycling at the Conservancy downtown when a car pulled up with a McCain/Palin bumper sticker that said something about pitbulls and had a lipstick smooch on it. I stopped myself from mentally rolling my eyes, because damned if they weren't recycling. Back in the day, the only people stopping off at the Conservancy were hippies and upper middle class Volvo drivers. This car with this sticker at this place in this time. I think we are starting to come together.

belated boo

Happy pumpkin

Scary pumpkin

Saturday, November 1, 2008

a day in the life

(I'm jumping over some important things, a funeral and Halloween among them. I'll come back to them later.)

Part I: Morning

Woke up at 5:45am and prepared to run in the annual Vulcan 10K. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, is also the world's largest cast iron statue. Built in 1904, he has watched over Birmingham for over 100 years. As part of a traffic safety campaign, he once held a torch that glowed red if there had been a traffic fatality in Birmingham, and green if there had not. I was never a big fan of the glowing torch. Thankfully, it was removed during the renovation of the statue and surrounding park, and Vulcan now holds a spear as sculptor Giuseppe Moretti intended.

Knocked 10 minutes off my 10K time compared to last year, and enjoyed the traditional post-race beer, band, and bagels.

Part II: Afternoon

A couple of days ago our nearest neighbors invited us to pick greens in their garden, so we made our way over to their house and discovered that, in addition to greens o'plenty, they also have a pear tree covered in pears! They let us pick to our hearts' content. We have bags and bags of fresh food. And they let us pet their donkey, which Neal kept calling a honkey, as it did in fact honk.

Part III: Evening

Returned home to discover a most remarkable invasion of ladybugs. Hundreds of them. Everywhere. I am talking about a crazy lot of ladybugs. Now, I know that ladybugs are very beneficial in the garden, but these weren't in the garden. They were in our house. All of them. So we sucked them up in the shop vac and released them outside, where we hope they will stay.