A red umbrella.
Before I came to live in this house, I lived in an apartment building called Lomita Vista. It had been on my radar for a number of years: a fabulous 1900 stucco structure perched over a green belt, overlooking the Sound (and the grain elevator, which many rued, but I kind of liked), and one day after pestering the manager for years, I stopped by and a unit was available. A friend had lived in the top, corner apartment, and that's the one I chose as the ultimate, settling for the time being for one on the first floor. I soon got to know the guy who lived there now. The friend was someone who had been in my life for a long time, some of it romantic, most of it not, and he had gone off to another city with his sub-par girlfriend after stirring up the romantic, again, and something in my reptilian brain sought some kind of circle of life shit by wanting to live where he had lived. Anyway, the guy that lived there now and I got to talking one night (as we stood out on his deck, with me thinking, someday this will be MINE, all MINE) and I happened to mention my dear friend who lives up in Bellingham and as it happened, that person was THIS person's love-of-his-life, who was essentially the-one-who-got-away. So, soon they were talking on the phone, then visiting, then after just a short time, I was helping him move his stuff out of my dream apartment and into a van (It's all your fault, said my dear friend. So much is, I replied) and now, years later, they are still living happily up in Bellingham.
I never did take his apartment, though. I ended up just moving upward, when the (lead footed) woman upstairs moved out. One floor up, with no overhang of balcony overhead, it was like being at the helm of a great ship. And hot as hell. So I bought a big umbrella and secured it to the railings, where it stayed and did it's job for awhile, until a bit of wind gusted up, then it sailed away, and I would hunt it down, and it would sail away, like some old man and the sea shit, because every time I retrieved it, there was something else broken on it, so when I left, I left it.
So, now at the end of this long summer, I ordered one for the back. It helps keep the chicken house cooler and I envision sitting under it in Fall rains. For a long time, after the story book reunion of these two dear souls, that I had helped facilitate just by essentially showing up, I honestly waited for some kind of payback from the gods. For surely this was a sign that I was in the right place, at the right time. Turns out I was: for them. Period. My remaining time in Lomita Vista involved fighting the new Republican manager with his douchey wing tips and bottom line, and the friend came back to town, and we finally had our romance and it was horrible. Sometimes when you feel a strong call to some place, you assume it's for you and about you, and ultimately, it was. For where I had one dear friend up in Bellingham, I now have two.
Life consists of little joys, annoyances, and bunch of other little stuff, and, oh yeah: ignobilities. Let's not forget those. While sitting down to a repast last night of cucumbers and garlic bread, the very first bite of the bread drove a piece of crust into the roof of my mouth. Yeah, I know: c'mon! And it's still there today, despite my best efforts last night to get it out. I had to put my powder compact in my mouth, which I did manage, just so I could see the fucking thing. This morning it is red, angry and my gag reflex is on active duty. I used to work with this miserable sack of a woman who would constantly bemoan: Oh, why is this my life? I do not want to become that miserable sack, but why........?
This morning I got to schlep Dinsdale, Oh Great Hairy One, to the vet. As I have had trouble finding a vet I like nearby, it necessiated a 30 minute drive with a constantly eh-eh-eheheheh-eheheheeEHEH!-ing cat next to me. He did me the favor - this one time, Dinsdale, and then it's never a favor again, got it? - of peeing on the kitchen floor in his favorite spot, saving me the cost of the doctors getting it from him. Turns out, he doesn't show the signs of having a UTI, but they didn't do any bloodwork and I was just relieved to rule out the urinary tract infection and paid my money and ran away. Now, I'm back online reading about the symptoms and the chorus sounds dire. The vet's advice was to get another cat box, so he can have his own (although I totally see Sammy using it) so for now, that's what I'll do and just monitor the little fucker. Chicken Vickie just lost her lovely cat, Emily (another commission on the horizon: Dead Cats R Us), to kidney failure, so that was fresh in my mind. Dinsdale's still a pup: I want him to outlive me.
The year of living ugliously.
I have a scar from my right ear, down my neck. It's a little souvenir of a terrible year, which was last year. This year has actually been pretty good, but I've realized that in some ways I'm still dwelling in the bad, rather than the here and now, aka the good. I have, essentially, let myself go to seed. Which is not your problem, and probably not even of any interest. But I'm going on a hunch if I put it out there for my three readers to see, that it will reinforce my will to actually do something about it. Send your willpower juju my way, please. Saturday, Chicken Vickie came over. We had lemon cucumbers and walla walla sweets in oil and vinegar. We played Scrabble, and I kicked her ass. Here she is looking up 'za', which she challenged me on.The girls had an epic dirt bath. Ester looks dead. Poor butters was about two feet away. They're still not letting her play in any reindeer games.Back porch, Monday morning. Sammy is speaking to me telepathically: do you really need to go to work?
People will surprise you, if you let them.
Today on my way to work - late - I stopped by a hardware store/lumber yard that I drive past every day on my way to work. Now this is a store that is definitely out of my comfort zone. I would be like I went into REI. My eyes would roll back in my head and I would have an out of body experience. But I'm looking for wood latticing and they didn't have it at the big-ass Lowe's, which I also drive past every day. A young redneck looking kid approached me, but he was very helpful, and got me what I wanted and then this older, glad-handing kind of guy wrote me up, all the time ribbing the younger guy - 'he's like a son to me. I never had kids'. but then goes on to tell me he does have grandkids now, and I'm not sure how that works. I told him I only had the four legged variety, then corrected myself: two legged, also, the chickens. And he pulls out a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and gives it to me. Tells me not to open it up in the store, wait until I got home, as it would make me cry. So, I put it in my wallet. Outside the kid was eyeing my car: how we gonna do this? And I realize that while my little car holds a LOT of crap, there was not way it was going to accommodate these lattice panels. So, they kindly roped it to the top of my car and all in all, I really just loved being there. Fuck Lowes. This is my new hardware store. And when I got to work, I pulled out his little piece of paper and it was a poem to his dead dog, Hoagie. It wasn't very good, but just the idea that this big jolly hardware guy had written a poem, first off, and then to his dog. Well. And I did cry.
When I was 16, I was hit by a truck.
I actually have a clipping of it: it made the front page of the Reno Gazette. In the photo, I have a weird expression on my face as they're maneuvering over me in the gurney. I'm actually starting to giggle, because by the time the ambulance came I realized I was okay and now this enormous fuss was being made over me. The guy who hit me was named Clarence, I recall. He was an old guy and I think he was more in danger of having a heart attack than I was of having sustained any injury. I flew over the hood of his truck and landed and it was like I had stubbed my toe, hard, but now my whole body was my toe. And just like a stubbed toe, the pain faded. Enter: ambulance and a photographer from the newspaper. Slow news day, apparently.
As a result, I am now a fearless pedestrian. And for most of my adult life, I have been fearless, fueled by some nameless directive to move forward, hell, run forward and damn all consequences. I was thinking about this last night, as the evening cooled off after another damn hot day. I wonder if Clarence somehow put the rest of my life into motion, because shortly after(within 2 weeks), I had run away from home for the third time, which proved to finally be the charm. But I find that I'm not fearless anymore. And that bothers me. I'm far from fearfull, but I worry about health and money and dying alone, that kind of crap. Of being a mediocre artist. Of having learned nothing. Of having little time to actually accomplish something. And then I take a big breath, get a grip, and say to myself: Shit. Join the crowd. I guess a little fear is normal, natural, even a good idea sometimes. Perhaps another lesson in moderation.
Three day weekend: Friday spent mostly on an idiot's errand, looking for an outdoor umbrella. The guy at Home Depot snorted derisively: That's seasonal. Yeah, you mean, like for summer, which we're still in, Sunshine? Then I got stuck in a big traffic jam, so the day was mostly shot. Then the next two days were spent hacking and digging and sawing and schlepping and sweating. I have four Italian plum trees which probably haven't been pruned in 20 years. As I ducked underneath a low hanging bough for the umpteenthmillion time, I finally just sawed the thing off and there's something about sawing (The Big Snit): once you start, the next thing you know you've got firewood for that fireplace you don't have. The chickens were a great help with the gardening. Not. I'm concocting a plan to fence off the bulk of the garden, while still giving them ample range to roam and so we can all still hang together. Since I can barely hammer a nail into a wall, I'm going to have to rely on some friends that are more handy than I am.This is our routine now: as the sun sets lower in the sky, Butters comes up and roosts on the arm of my chair. I think she would prefer to just settle in for the evening with me, rather than the two other girls who still give her grief, although that diminishes incrementally every day. Chickens make a sound when they are gathering for the evening: a contented trill that absolutely makes me melt whenever I hear it. A joyous sound that says to me, we made it through another day and now here we are in this safe place, together. Good night.
The broom as moving meditation.
Over the weekend I hacked down a 4'X4' rosemary bush that was half dead, and it opened up a large continuation of the brick work, only it was buried under dirt and mud. So I started sweeping, and then I realized my brain had become beautifully silent. Until it was not, and then it was really going in some interesting directions. I think this is a benefit for people who like to walk (I'm not one of them), who are often quoted as saying all their ideas come to them in their walks. I thought when I got Lulu that walking would be more compelling, but she makes it worse. She hates all other dogs and has to cram her snout into every human we pass. I'm often gritting my teeth by the time we get home. But I swept for a good hour last night (in fact, I'm a little sore this morning, which is truly pathetic).
That's Butters, standing on my hand. I love chicken feet: they're so warm.
We had a bit of a police presence in the 'hood last night. There were 3 cop cars a few houses down (the ice cream lovers) when I got home, and then as the evening progressed, more and more until I counted 8. Christ on a crutch, what was going down? So, out I venture until I come to a circle of about 5 cops, who, the minute they saw me, all looked in different directions, anywhere but at that shit-ass white lady coming down the block, even though I didn't even have my WTF face on: I was appropriating more a countenance of concerned citizen. When finally one of the poor slobs happened to catch my eye, I made a bee line for him and asked him what was up. I'm always surprised by how robotic most cops are, this guy being no exception. He avoided eye contact and told me it was a family situation and that I should just lock myself up tight and fuggetaboutit. Thank you, I said. A beat. Two. You're welcome, he said, sounding bemused to have been thanked.
RAIN: this is why I live in the Northwest.
Well, actually, here is sort of where I ended up, and then left, and then came back and now I'm too old to navigate a completely new city. But this has been a ridonkulously dry summer (and don't get me started about the hot) and it rained last night, finally. Beulah and Ester just get soaked and don't seem to mind, but I can see Butters has (a) more sense or is just (b) more of a poodle-chicken. She stayed pretty dry.So, today's post is hosted by the felines in the house. I sat on the back porch, in my weirdly comfortable and familiar school desk and the brother-kittehs were happy to have me.
Persistently ill, but still does not die.
On Sunday evening, I had dinner at the house of a new friend, and she helped me throw the I Ching. I've never actually done it: I don't know why - I've known tons of people who have. Anyway, the first reading contained the title above. It was a remarkable read, and she gave me a copy of a book to learn to do it. Thank you, Mary.

On Saturday, I started a little painting of Butters. It took me a while to mix the color, but now I have a big old jar of Butters Color. My studio is on street side, and there is usually about maybe 30 cars in an hour that pass by. But on this Saturday, they had blocked off a main portion of the main thoroughfare for some take back the streets shit, and my little street outside became a traffic jam. So that sucked. After awhile I figured I'd just get in my car and go somewhere until they opened the street up again, but quickly figured out I wouldn't be able to get out of my driveway. Butters' pink parts are starting to emerge.

That night as I was doing my relaxin'-with-the-chickens thang, I heard a sound (I should just change my name to Horton) and struggled to place it. It was an eee-eee-eee-eee-eee, and my first thought was one of the gay men who live behind me was washing his windows, it had that sort of squeegie sound. But no: I finally located the sound, because I have to, because I'm insane that way, and it was a pair of flickers doing their little bobbing ritual atop a utility pole. And it was a year ago today that I found my little girl, putzing around the neighborhood, oblivious to the many dangers to her, including the family that was openly discussing how to wring a chicken's neck. And since I have no idea how old she is, we're going to call it her birthday. Happy Birthday, Ester.

Another temperate evening. I made corn chowder and tossed the leftover cobs to the girls, which they love. Then Lulu came out and ate the cobs like bones. Which is better than rocks, which she also favors. Butters continues to be pretty skittish of the other girls, especially Ester (Thelma), but when it's time to go to bed, things unfold with a little more nuance. There are peaceful moments, like above.Then some kerfuffle.Ending up with a variation on this. Which I guess is progress.
Another cool evening: in fact, it got a little chilly. I'll take it. What a long summer this has been, and there's still August to move through. Hopefully, we're through with any more heat wave bullshit. I've been studying the girls all these months, trying to get a feel for how I'm going to transfer my anthropomorphization of them onto paper. And I remembered this old book I got a number of years ago, when I was, er, dating, this lovely graphic artist who collected line art and put out zines (one theme was Death, Telephones and Scissors). They're called Crap Hound, and I highly recommend them, if you can find them. Anyway, I got this old book from 1941 about cartooning, and 'exploiting human foibles'. It's a fascinating thing, screamingly politically incorrect, and now that I can open it without being overcome by mildew fumes, I think it's going to be instructive in depicting the girls.I'll refrain from posting some of the more egredious examples, but I was always struck by how much this looks like Homer Simpson, or his psychopath twin brother. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a copy of this book passed through Matt G's fingers at some point in his young life.Then there's this weird one: man, woman and future drag queen son. The previous owner of the book helpfully pencilled in some underwear. And I guess one of the 'foibles' its exploiting would be the tendency for little girls to get run down. Stupid dead girl.
The heat wave has abated, THANK BABY JEBUS! I was able to sleep with a sheet on me, which is more than I've been able to bear for the last week. This is a perversion of my true nature and preference, which is sort of an inverse Princess and the Pea: I love a ton of bedding and a cold room.
Poor Dinsdale - giant blob of fur on the right - has not been happy. Now that it's not so hot, perhaps he'll stop peeing in the basement, which then brings the smell up through the forced air. 103 (although I spoke to someone today who said it was closer to 107) degrees, with a piquant (not) smattering of cat piss = a horror movie. Even though I found the source and eradicated it, I am now haunted by the occasional spectral whiff, which results in me getting down on my knees and sniffing like a pig for truffles, trying to locate the source and then I realize I'm smelling coffee grounds or something else that has the vaguest whiff of cat pee. The chickens are out of control. I've now shut the door or gate on Beulah's head numerous times as she's often right behind me and I don't know it. Resistance is futile: I've created these monsters, so I let them come in the kitchen and fix them a snack. Lulu is familiar with this post. Butters is still uncertain and shy, and sometimes very unchickenlike. It's like she's found herself in this chicken body but doesn't have the slightest idea on how to get chicky with it (sorry). She is showing a propensity for bug catching. Buggers? Little Butters/Buggers will come up and periodically perch on the arm of my chair, that's when I get these close up shots. I always take these opportunities to try and gently drill in the lesson that my juicy eyes are not food.
Last night I came out and luxuriated in the nice cool evening air and around 8, my Gladys Kravitz ears were suddenly assaulted with some hammering and stapling. It turned out to be a couple of roofers working on the old Masonic Temple down the alley. Another dividend in cooler weather: I become a little more tolerent. These poor fuckers were probably either trying to get the work done without being killed by heat, or they were working two jobs, or numerous reasons, not one of them being specifically to annoy that crotchedy old lady with the chickens. And then something marvelous happened: I realized there was a call and response, sometimes a harmonizing, happening with their tools. I wish I'd of had the energy to wander down there and record it. As it was, it felt like a reward for keeping my cool.
Heat waves, renal failure and vampires, oh my. On Wednesday, which reached 103, I was directed to the Infusion Center by my nephrologist to reconstitute my precious bodily fluids. And a bunch of other shit went south, thanks to this fucking heat wave. The last 5 days have passed like a dream you have while sleeping somewhere unfamiliar and hot, where you wake up with a giant crease across your face and dried drool down your chin.

Per doctor's orders, I just lay on the couch, reading and watching DVDs. Ironically, what I watched the most was True Blood, the first four episodes and now eagerly await new installments from Netflix. The ironical factor being that it's set in Louisianna, all muggy and buggy and moist. I should probably have been watching Ice Age, or March of the Penguins or Smilia's Sense of Snow. Oh, and all the men are really hot. It would seem I'm stuck in a hot loop. I'm ready for Fall.