Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thirty-eight today, though, in my mind I've been thirty-eight since the start of the year. 2008? 38. 2009? 39. Born in 1970, I've always clung to the simple math of year and age without the subtlety of month or day. This produces a predictably anti-climactic celebration every year. Oh well. Anyone who knows me well knows that no matter what my number, I am always old at heart.

So this is it: Garden dirt clings to my arches and the chipped paint of my nails. The sun becomes precious, each hour of it a gift, as a long column of cartoon rainclouds appear in the forecast. I see ahead of me a year of increasing solitude and silence, not shutting the world out but hiding inside it without fuss or fanfare.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I realize that Google's "street view" maps have probably been up and running for a while now, but I didn't know the full extent to which they'd mapped out my childhood and my dreams. This is where I lived from third to sixth grade. With Google's help I can now click down my route to school. I can check in at my friends houses and the scary gated mansion that I used to babysit at. I can follow the route through the bird sanctuary, around the corner and up the hill that still appears in my nightmares now and then.

I find this whole thing both fascinating and disturbing. As I clicked my way past my old church and into the shopping area (remember the day I fell along that route...I can still see the scar), I came across one image that showed a whole family getting on their bikes in their driveway. They will now be forever imprinted in this virtual map. And for some reason I feel this irrational urge to save them from such a fate, as if I could enter this space in some real way and warn them to stay inside.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In mid-summer, the squash hadn't started devouring the yard, the flowers had yet to unfold. Those tomatoes were still green and tight to the vine, but there was life there, no doubt. And yes, that blue string in the foreground is attached to a barely visible but reliably mischievous cat at the edge of the gravel.

The backyard haven has not fully materialized. These things take time and more effort than my writerly ways usually allow. In the long-shot above it doesn't look like much, but let's consider where we started and appreciate the progress that we've made.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cherry Tomatoes
by Sandra Beasley

Little bastards of vine.
Little demons by the pint.
Red eggs that never hatch,
just collapse and rot. When

my mom told me to gather
their grubby bodies
into my skirt, I'd cry. You
and your father, she'd chide—

the way, each time I kicked
and wailed against sailing,
my dad shook his head, said
You and your mother.

Now, a city girl, I ease one
loose from its siblings,
from its clear plastic coffin,
place it on my tongue.

Just to try. The smooth
surface resists, resists,
and erupts in my mouth:
seeds, juice, acid, blood

of a perfect household.
The way, when I finally
went sailing, my stomach
was rocked from inside

out. Little boat, big sea.
Handful of skinned sunsets.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The party girl across the street was sitting on her front steps this morning from about 5am to 7am crying out every ten minutes for her lost dog, more a grief-stricken moan than a real attempt to call the dog back.

The sky this morning is a thick, solid gray.

Sometimes you round a corner and everything has changed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Inside city limits, I think there's almost nothing better on a late summer day than reading stretched out on a quiet bit of dappled grass (these days its my regular re-reading of Mrs. Dalloway). I have two big, gorgeous parks within walking distance of my house and probably half a dozen smaller ones, but I think almost any bit of cool grass or well-worn bench would do as long as it was relatively quiet. I guess that's the tricky part. Silence and city are so rarely good companions. Still, it's worth seeking out to find those few moments of perfect language in perfect light.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm turning the news off for a little bit, otherwise I might go mad. I already feel the threads of misanthropy spooling around my brain. It's not good. I don't think I can be a good a writer and a misanthrope at the same time. I don't want to have to choose between the two. For at least a few days, I'll shut down input from the outside world and try to focus on the good, close things.

Walking down to the Willamette on the east side is always a joy. I like the roughness of it, the mild stink of it and the maze of metal and concrete. I like a small wooden boat called Hope tied up on the pier. Late summer in our pretty city is a good, close thing.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I love that I live in the land of mimosa trees, not just mimosa cocktails. At the end of summer these trees explode in soft pink tufts, filling the branches with faint sweetness and covering the ground with a mess of fallen blossoms.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I remind myself to admire the shadows now while they are still shadows, a contrast instead of a constant. Soon enough the rippled glass will seem solid and the sill will be lost in the flat grayness of the day. Flat and gray has its advantages, of course, but now, as the days burn themselves out it's good to feel the glare and the comfort of shade.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A new garden brings new creatures. Hummingbirds, dragonflies and praying mantis. It's nice to know that such strange beings still exist in an urban setting, their wildness broken up into backyard plots and parking strips.

Monday, September 08, 2008

We curl beneath the mossy umbrella of the forest where mushrooms climb trees and salamanders climb hillsides. We breath an extra inch of air into our lungs. If this is why you go into the woods, then don't camp on the weekends. It seems that, on the weekends, at least some people stake their claim along the river and beneath the trees to recreate campsite-sized dive bars as if the beauty around them were superfluous. This weekend at Nehalem Falls there were more cackling hags than I've heard all summer in my bar-soaked neighborhood. But still, they couldn't destroy the hushed thrill of waking up to the sound of rivers and birds.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Every day, as a massage therapist, I cup heels in my hands and match my fingers to each arch. The hand fits the foot with precise beauty. Not only does this feel good on the sole, but in the palm as well. Metacarpal. Metatarsal. Phalanges. Say this three times, like a witch's spell and then go rub your sweetie's feet.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The sweatpeas are dead. All that's left are faded brown loops and curves, tendrils that reached and swerved and yet found nothing but other loops to latch onto.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

flying saucer squash

If it weren't for the sharp hair of this forest I would want to shrink down and have a look. If I could put on a slick thick coat, I would climb this bramble of yellow and green and chase the dappled light sneaking in through the broad-leafed ceiling. If I could shrink, I might stay there for a while and befriend the worms.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Oh September. September always brings me back. Back to school. Back to cool. Back to blog. Let's see what's here. Let's see what's hiding, shaded and in plain view.

I promise to not always be so slow and subtle, but sometimes its good to watch the wind.