6-21-18 On a Black and Gold Finch in A Pear Tree. The Artist. Thank God For the Rain.

The chubby black and gold finch in the pear tree (prized possession 2-year in its home) makes me sit down for a second, by the cool breeze of the window. Environment has become a neglected aspect in a lot of people’s lives, it seems. And not even just obvious issues of pollution, contamination, death and disease run amok, but just the broader issue of the background’s template and presence. Sure a lot of expense and posturing is spent in this pursuit, but the table is never truly set, is it? There is no time for simple questions, like Where am I? What am I doing?

What happens when the inner voice answer back harshly, with an out-of place edge. On the asphalt baking, sucking on a stream of exhaust, little eggheads roasting in their metallic pods of pseudo-anonymity to nowhere, aggressively, the Great Beyond.

Maybe stuck pack living, like our food itself, densely populated manufactured city-scales, thousands of souls stacked around you, congealing emotionally, spiritually into a panicked herd, which will always, eventually dehumanize and destroy.

But there’s that space, probably never more then a focused hour away, with open and possibly sightly cleaner air and water. Lord willing, with a finch present, with a neon-orange head dress, fluttering among ditch-lilies of a shared strain. Like the artist dipped his brush and gave the black finch a touch of his favorite color.

The prospect of a cool evening of work in the garden is encouraging. A shining sun pokes through the darker blue clouds suggesting an afternoon rain. I say thank you to the suggestion.

6-20-18 On Chickens, The Rain, 1997 Honda Odyssey, Stephen King Netherworlds

If I don’t get out early enough to feed the chickens, they start coming out of the electric fence. We must be grounding out somewhere, but all the fiddling hasn’t seemed to fix it. They all sneak back in though, once the food is out, but having 30-some chickens squawking at ya, chasing you around the yard every morning can be anxiety inducing.

There’s been a bit of civil strife in chicken land. Early in spring, we moved the original dozen chickens out to the field, in a chicken tractor, to let the twenty-or-so teenage birds have the coop. Eventually the new chicks were big enough, and it was hot enough, so it seemed best to bring them together in the coop, which was shadier and easier to do all the chores together at once.

The OG girls were happy to be home, but not happy with what they deemed to be the squatters in their spot. I had to play rooster to the bunch during some early feedings, to discourage pecking. Some general state of equilibrium had set it, I believed. Yet some on both sides, show signs of tussling, nicks in their crops and such.

Routines are interesting, how they build up so much momentum. I realize that every morning, that it’s my unavoidable habit of feeding them, after they’ve run out, that ultimately reinforces the unwanted behavior. And then I’m able to step back and say, what’s really the harm? Rather, could I calm down in the moment? Let go of the absurd resentment of a creature foraging for their food. And just allow myself to let the moment be as it is.

They stop yelling when the food is finally distributed. They’re eating good on kitchen scrapes, cabbage Leaves, and all the weeds and things they can forage, or are tossed into them, so I know the morning swarm is unwarranted anxiety. I’ve developed the ability to identify a number of wild edibles, dandelions (easy one), nettles, lamb’s quartets, purslane, etc, and the chickens tear through all stuff too.

Two days of rain have it way cooled down, an ideal late stage spring day. And instead of watering, I got to weed one of two large raspberry patches, 50 new plants total, that we just started this spring. I collected and spread compost for those and some pepper plants, while Britney and the kids burned our papers. There was a moment there, with the orange fire coming out the side of the barrel and the setting blue sky, I thought to myself, this is paradise. I couldn’t ask for anything else. I don’t deserve this. Grace made this.

Stayed cloudy til dark. All those blues and whites. Dark spots of the storm. Swirling whites cloud, thick lines of the painter’s brush.

The skies went that ominous grey-green last Thursday. Got caught out in it, picking the boys up from reading group at the library. Our 1997 Honda Odyssey, is an archeological phenomena. Mostly Mechanically reliable, yet defrost remains one of its greatest flaws. The rain, hail and four anxious breathers had us in a thick, Stephen King-like netherworld, at sixty out on the deep country highway. Had to demand the oldest boys shirt, which he struggled with in the thick milieu. Making it to our turn somehow, we found our gravel road deteriorating with thick rivers in the ditches, rolling with glorious and destructive tan water. This rain is everything. Even in the danger zone, we were grateful.

6-19-18 From a semi-clean kitchen table, with a blessed storm and its dwindling, on writing and homesteading

Thank God for the rain. Always loved the rain, but last year and a half of homesteading, a practical appreciation has developed as well. It mainly means being free from watering, and if the rain relents later, it means I might get a chance to weed in some blessedly cool weather. It’s essential for the plants too. Nothing makes them perk up like the rain.

We took over the community garden in the small town we live by, Milo. Just an acre lot in the town that we can basically do whatever we want with. There’s no water though, but we do get some volunteers from Future Farmers of America to weed a couple times this year.

We’ve decided we won’t likely do it again next year. The process of simplifying and focusing on the small things, down to individual plants at a time, is teaching us to focus on our home and land exclusively. Our selves exclusively. We’re learning to see stress as a warning sign of potential failure, meaning that any level of stress should be addressed and eliminated and not just carried around, endured. Giving up, stopping, is sometimes the best thing you can do.

Moving to the rural homestead has made simplifying a necessity. There is so much to do that you can’t really be bothered with the abstract nonsense. It’s part of why the writing has been put on the back burner. I’ve started several posts, but failed to publish any, because I would have a reoccurring moment of sneering and shaking of the head, at the phoniness, the bullshit I was writing…

Paradox abounds. Tons of energy to write, nothing particularly eventful to write about. Busy eventful life, no desire, reason, to write. Thinking writing is like the rain though for me. Overtime I started needing it. The internal stream becomes too forceful, and demands to be let out.

6-17-18 On Fatherhood and the Heat

It’s so hot you realize you got a second self inside, sweating too, who can’t stop, no matter how much he wipes it away. Didn’t get much lower than 75degrees overnight night, a sure sign of an impending scorcher. Got out in the morning, tended to the chickens, they aggressively chase me around for the crumble. Makes you think they’re starving how they behave, but it’s just the crumble calling them.

Britney and I did the math the other night on our Fathers. She said she had a Father until she was twelve and then nada. I said, well I had two and they amounted to a half in those early years, but it was sort of hard to calculate that really.

I definitely know my Dad, got the Fatherly imprint, which is so important. Right and wrong. Someone big and strong in your corner. An inherent ally. Someone to lay on while watching a Saturday night movie. Someone to wrestle with.

Around five, I got to do every other weekend with my Dad. I can remember being sad missing him after going back to Mom’s, but also sort of glad to be home, because that’s what I knew and was comfortable with, where my siblings were.

Respectfully, both my parents were having a hard time figuring their lives out then. I think the 80’s, divorces kids, TV generation had it sort of rough. A lot of cocaine and hair spray had everyone acting weird. Trying to emulate that baby boomer generation in some ways, materialists, but things not quite working right. Morals shifting. World changing. Time to rebel against square, successful parents. Damn the man, run to California, make a baby, come back and try to sleep your way to the burbs…

My Dad shines though as a Grandpa. Never tires of hanging with my three boys, teasing, playing, giving into whatever they want. An oracle and sage, master ball-buster because of deferred respect and authority. He has seeded an internal war of sorts recently with the declaration that the Hulk in an early comic book had picked up a WHOLE mountain. This was gasoline on the already raging debate of Hulk vs Ironman.

Kein, five, is an Ironman fanatic and has dreams of building his own suit, sees this mountain business as impossible, and I suspect an affront to Ironman’s superiority. I was informed today that Grandpa found said comic from 1967 and it was being shipped via Amazon. A crucial exchange approaches…

He’s been great to me as I’ve gotten older. That residual man knowledge finally coming into play, concerned with motors and machines, tools, automobile problems, that can be so useful and empowering. He likes to come mow the grass and weed-whack, which is always appreciated.

I get a weird sense when we’re all in the same space. A plurality of self, across space and time. I can see our future selves and our past selves. And it feels good, big, like being a Captain of a boat on the open sea.

We are time travelers, I’d argue that. Timelines aren’t fixed of course. Each choice and shot into the future, a rearranging of the game. You got to be aware of the human dialectic, the push and pull, the yin-yang swirl of reality. The lesson that is delivered will be rebounded, not duplicated. Your children will usurp you. You will rediscover yourself forever.

6-16-18 On Hearing Animals

It was about six months ago I began hearing people’s animals. Happened out of nowhere, at the grocery store, I believe. It sounded like a squirrel was right behind me, chittering from a tree. I looked around awkwardly, and tried to recover with a smile at the cashier. When she smiled back, the crackle took a slight uptick in pitch and stopped. As I walked away, she went back to staring around the store absentmindedly, churring all the while.

There’s an uncomfortable amount of mosquitoes. It makes large places like the mall impossible. Zet. Zet. Zeeeeeee. Lil choirs of families, buzzing down the cold geometric floors. Talking to them it can be innocuous at the surface, but the whole time you can feel their teeth on you chewing. Zet. Zip. Zee. Off for the next thing.

A lot of bears. They live in the throat to the belly zone. Heavy breathing, and loud steps give them away.. Lots of these bears seem off though. Like old deranged bears, on a farewell, narcotic induced walk to hibernation. Generally harmless, unless startled, then there could be trouble. One layered mass of a lady bear half grunted to my kids today as their floaty wandered by. Some mushy attempt of help? I lay belly down in questionable 3feet lake water appraising the situation for alarm. The invisible bear of her true self right behind her, breathing heavy in the heat.

Plenty of dogs and cats, as expected. They make up a reassuring majority, but frankly a good chunk of them are prone to the common failure of their respective spirit animal. Impulsive, thrill seeking dogs types, aggressive breeds of pit bulls and St. Bernards, rabid hungry street mutts. Always working, always problems, but determination all the same.

With cats, the majority are calm and isolated, a pleasure if willing, purring. Stand off-ish if a request is ill received. Some cat-shit crazy, hyper focused on an confusing task, like finding the right bottle of bathroom cleaner. Bigger wild varieties of wolves, lions, tigers, occur rarely, and are obvious to everyone, unless they hunting. Then, you’re in trouble…

4-17-18 On Winter

Winter’s chained itself to the bedpost. It screams in agony as my family and I try to cook it off, with space heaters, blankets, hot tea and cocoa. Usually so passive, so plain, so white, he sure has found his color in Spring. Is it Spring? His presence makes it hard to tell. He snuck out on a cold night, hit my newly assembled greenhouse with a sick, deathly chill, claiming four flats of cabbage, a flat of lemon balm, two wonderful recently up-potted rosemary.

He screams of years passed, says we move on too easy, on wars long forgotten and yet re-seeded. I woke up the other night, got a bad need to leave the window cracked, which makes his nighttime excursions all the easier. When I tossed my stiff legs over the bed, I landed on a crystal burnout he’d left as he fled. I had to get a towel to clean up. When I woke up he’d painted the whole world white again. A middle finger to who, still I don’t know quite know; everyone it seems.

He seeps easily into my bones, as I do my morning chores. You learn to surrender. There is no such thing as cold.

Operation Coyote’s Chortle

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Their chortles come to me at night, through my window.

Telling me of the way forward. What needs to be done.

Honing signals of the State of the Union.

The plan has become clear.

Greater then the sum of our individual parts, a pack.

Two cats, one black, one tabby. Alerted by a soft meow of communication. Busted by a primate’s flashlight, but quickly fled into the night.

Sunday. There was a beagle, or some other especially nasally bread, assaulting the world with its cries of outrage and injury. It was impossible to ignore, as I handled the planting of the elderberries cane.

My hands grew cold, and the mud caked on like chilled frosting. Winter won’t get out of the bed.

I said fuck it, tried to find them in the truck. Lure them to me with whistles, and doggy-os.

I hear and see him later as I build the frame to the greenhouse, running like a bullet on a mound to the south-east. His screams had lost their potency. There was only one of them now.

We go on in the blood, the spit and the semen, until we don’t. And then they can build us into mounds, and then dirt. And then it starts again, world without end, amen.

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2-8-18 (a brief sketch of self, on the failure of language, and irony, reluctantly released, too much slip showing)

And it’s all just words, empty phrases and utterances. A man struggling not to drown, is what a writer (person?) is. But all that verbal flailing seems to be the core of the problem. All these extra words are just bad techniques which have to be abandoned in the next attempt. Just an endless sowing of existential angst, a tone which escalates in feverish pitch, but never hits that ceiling, never climaxes.

I’ve been learning Spanish. Do it on duo-lingo on my phone. It’s fun and I can just tear through the exercises, the same strength and weakness of intuitive ability at play. . You can feel the shared history of words from the morphing collective feel of them. Peace, Paz, Pax, Pace.

You know about the Tower of Babel? Ah, fuck it. Point I was going to make was about how language fails us at its critical task, namely talking to one another. Because there’s always this gap of language and inner psychology, that obscures shared understanding. You don’t know what the words mean, objectively or subjectively to the other person, or really to yourself either.

What attracted me to words early on has soured and now often repulses. I was trying to figure “it” out. The whole pie, in and out, and the words were a safe and more importantly available way to get at the thing. But now they’ve not satiated, yet left their remnants, and they’ve warped the vessel.

Not broken, note, just warped. To the point they can just pour and pour and fill and fill, and the original hexagonal spout, from having been turned so many times, has worn round and in the flood it can be hard to find and grip it. What’s worse (better?) is you’ve grown amphibious, developed gills and you can make it work underwater, but other can’t, and they start to pull away for air.