Saturday, November 29, 2008

we got a kitten, an orange one with a kind of smashed-in face, that snuffles a lot but is otherwise a frisky, energetic kitten. i'm sure it will be the big hit of the season, as kittens tend to liven things up a bit. we saved it; it got mauled by something or another, was taken to our vet, and we've been spending a lot of time at the vet lately. i guess my wife looked around, realized that she'd lost two female cats recently, and a female dog, was left in the house with four boy children, one grown boy husband, old boy dog, two old boy cats, no girls at all! anyway this little orange kitten, punkin, spoke to her. we'll call her punky i guess.

we got a whole week off, but it took me three days just to feel the pressure lighten up, and it's still pressing me a little on my shoulders when i wake up. i'm feeling in a vacation mode though, have let go of stuff piled up at the office. wednesday, drove down through chester, across the mississippi, and over to missouri to pick up my son, then on thursday drove up to peoria for thanksgiving and back today (friday)- a quick trip, done in time to pick up the kitten and the dog at the vet. one thinks of peoria as your average, usa city, surrounded by corn fields, big old illinois river running right through it, absolutely nothing special. but to me the very ordinaryness, centralness, mid-americaness of it makes it kind of special. it's right in the middle of illinois; it's also totally middle in population, bigger than most, but much smaller than chicago, for example. it's got a factory feeling to it even though many of the factories are gone. the drive there and back is cornfield all the way: nashville illinois, lebanon, springfield, use illinois, very flat and fertile. i think i took a nap for a while, but i'm not even sure, because the flat on-and-onness of it all was kind of like a nap anyway. but hey, it's a vacation, and i enjoyed it, i stopped worrying about classes and all that stuff, left it all behind. and there, right in the center of a peoria skyline, all big shiny buildings, was one called "dream center peoria" or some such thing, a surreal, modern reminder that even a skyline- really the only one i've seen in months, since i haven't even been to st. louis- is all in the eye of the beholder, what is a city anyway? i don't know, i was only there overnight.

chester was kind of the opposite- wooded, windy riverbluff roads, old houses, ancient hilly city streets with vacant storefronts, a prison that seemed to be tucked in against the city, the bluff, the bridge, & everything else. what's up with that? reminded me a little of old river towns i've known: dubuque iowa, pittsburgh pa, alton. missed the popeye statue and the downtown, but got a clear sense of the place, which i'll remember. the low bridge across the deep, dark & wide river- i pointed out to the son that he was crossing from a red state to a blue one- and he's going back the other way later today (sat.)- back out west, to kansas. as i get my breath, and get ready for one last pull before the big vacation.

got a calendar finished- kumakura pop art- based on these pictures which will soon move no doubt. unusually early for a calendar to be done, but i only did a small run of them, doing computer pop art for the first time...and i'm still looking at the results...should have them in the mail soon though. not much else produced, in the course of the year- as a writing teacher, i've stopped writing- and now do pop art and music more, writing less. but i'm ok with that, feeling creative, and getting somewhere; about to redo a book of crime stories, that actually numbered a dozen, that i printed last year, but never quite to my satisfaction. the question really is, do it professionally, or do it myself, only better? and, i've done virtually nothing, too busy.

leaving town a truck got in front of us and was hovering at 55; we drove behind him, but a red-tailed hawk cruised in and got in his draft, right next to us, enjoyed the free ride and showed a beautiful rusty belly and outstretched wing, for several seconds...but i was the only one that saw it; the boys were watching a movie, and my wife was driving. an odd moment, suspended in a truck's vacuum, beautiful but grim, flat illinois farmland on either side of us, a cold day; the bird was awesome though. thanksgiving is a time of mixed emotions, all kinds of turbulent feelings. give thanks, yes, but i do that, every minute, every day, pretty much. have faith- going into a winter, that you'll come out the other end, you'll see a spring, with everything blooming again. but most of all, hold one's breath for the long month ahead, a month of crass commercialism, long lines, stores crowded with people - we experienced this at the toronto road cracker barrel, just this side of springfield, a place so crowded with waiting shoppers, kids wanting to grab everything that shines- it'll be a long month, i suspect, but, yes, we do come out the other side. broke, as usual, but, around new years, it's really a holiday, about the only one we get, and, i'm thinking, maybe i can actually read, or do some writing, for a change. get in the holiday groove.

the turkey, stuffing, potatos & pies in peoria were fantastic. as it should be- it's a great holiday, placed as it is, so to speak, right before black friday. i focus on the taste, gain a few pounds, but relax- what else can you do? it's a busy world, and you have to take your pleasures when you can. it gets pretty crazy out there, before it's all over. and i wish you all safe, happy traveling, sober, & eyes wide open. it's a big country.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

it's been a cold week- a gray bitter chill settling over the whole valley, though we got off for an entire week starting friday. by the time i left work friday afternoon, the place was a ghost town- and i'd begun really keying into the natural beauty of the place- even bringing my camera, etc., to work, to catch the lines, the flowers, the colors etc. i've always said november is the prettiest month, and it is- the showy bright reds & yellows give way to darker, more subtle browns and grays- and as it gets a little wetter around here, as it does, the colors come out even more. i don't mind a little cold, and what i really like is that it doesn't get miserable again until at least may, so it's clear sailing in terms of being outside.

put a pop exhibit together- but it's temporary- it just needed a home while i find a place to put it. on the siuc pages, i put an siuc logo and do it for siuc, basically- my plan was to put pop art on all these old pages that are falling into disrepair or disuse, thus making a kind of underground siuc pop gallery. i have mixed feelings about it, though, i'm thinking of putting it more on my own personal space and saying, well, i took these & did 'em, maybe i should keep them to use on my own work. but meanwhile, i'm also doing a lot of professional writing, about grammar, grammar-checker, chat, etc.- and, any dry essay or piece of writing, professional or not, needs some decoration. slowly slowly i redo the cesl directories, starting with this one, which a kind of standing alliance with every esl/efl teacher in the world, a directory that had clearly and definitely fallen into disrepair, but which is now on its way up. i find that if i concentrate on the visuals- and the links- it's a slow but steady road back to respectable, especially where the static web is concerned.

out on the electronic frontier everyone is into social bookmarking, which means that a person can basically tap into everyone's opinions about what is important & good, and one no longer has to do hard research about anything. computers slowly but surely replace all our skills...assuming, on the grammar front, that they master the technology of grammar-checker- to the point where it effectively checks every word that has ever been published, thus is able to tell you that "On the other hand" is more likely than "In the other hand" at the beginning of a sentence; assuming they are so good at this that nobody needs a grammar teacher, since the computer will just take your thoughts & make complete sentences out of them...and assuming, then, that if you want to know about something, say, grammar-checker's effect on esl learners, or even spell-check's effect on any learners, you just have to go to a socially connected del.ic.ious or diigo or whatever, and get what all the smart people think is the best stuff written about it...then, basically, the computer is quickly replacing the things i was good at, and i'll be in the same boat those automakers were in about twenty years ago. i used to think, the value of an esl teacher is not so much to know everything about grammar, but to know how to find out something about grammar, how to find out & then explain it in ways a person could understand it. then, maybe it's now how to feed the question into a computer, and take the reams of data & interpret them. who knows?

then again, my head is spinning that gas is under $2.00/gal, & everyone is worried about it...surely, people are buying less; they're worried about the spiraling and jumpy economy, stock market fixin' to crash, depression setting in, etc. credit drying up too & that's probably the crux of it, since 3/4 of the money flying around was probably credit money anyway, with very little of the real stuff left that's not in some rich guy's pocket or some factory on the other side of the globe. but here, they're worried 'cause prices are too low, nobody's buying, and they have to keep crashing everything just to draw the customers in. well that's an interesting turnabout. but maybe it's how it should have been all along.

then, i'll play music at an 'alternative gift fair,' dec. 7, crafts & different shop-anywhere-but-walmart kind of market. i always do, but usually wait until about dec. 23 or so; by then it's too late. if i'm organized, i'll get a pop-art calendar this year (if you've read this far, maybe you clicked on the exhibit above; that would be a good place to start maybe). ideas are welcome...thing is, i have no idea how to print such things, it'll be an experience in learning, and printing. just hoping, that it all works, and that i can get off my u-no-wut during this week of break.

which reminds me, the world celebrating no-mo-write-no-mo-novel-mo, one son celebrating n0-m0-shave-n0-m0-put-m0-px-0n-fb00k-m0, and a daughter celebrating f0-get-the-n0vel-n-bl0g-ab0t-p00p-mo, i myself am starting d0nt-leave-the-h00se-4-nuthn-n-frgt-that-pile-a-papers-m0, at least during break. am thinking of getting on twitter, where the whole idea is, put it in 140 characters, no more no less- this of course, brings up the question, try to tell a whole story in 140? or try to be haiku, less is more? it's like facebook-status-poetry, the power to fill everyone's inbox w/lyrical intrigue, an opportunity, going wasted at the moment, to fill the world with tinyurl actualism, the likes of which haven't been seen since the new york subways got tagged with poetry, back in the seventies. the thing is, virtual actualism is like, well, html in an ashtray. with pixels, rising slowly, in rings, and gathering in a haze, up near the's here & now, ok, & makes up in links, out into the hazy virtual yonder, what it's missing in bellicosity, & novel ideas. but i'm too tired. have laundry to move, and, am thinking pop-art, at this point still. sharpen!

Friday, November 21, 2008

picture break

Monday, November 17, 2008

had a busy weekend; played twice with the band, first time with february sky, a pair of chicago musicians whom I really liked but unfortunately was unable to say goodbye to. they carry with them a number of originals, and old scottish songs, and are proudly folk, in spite of the fact that so many of their friends just went "rock" and made the bigger money. we played a couple of songs together, including city of new orleans which i had an unusual interpretation of, but they had to just live with that like one would live with somebody having trouble jumping off and on a moving boxcar. then we played at the wsiu studios the following day, and i have to say, a camera is not as generous as a live audience, but live and learn, i'm sure that's what the young folks there were thinking as they tried to film us.

but, for over ten days i've been mulling over the death, and life as reported by the guardian, of miriam makeba, well-known african singer and one of my favorite all-time musicians. she made a tape back in her early days, welele, one of my favorite all-time, which i can play half a dozen times every time i get it out; "i grew up on this cd," my son was heard to say this week. i drove around c'dale listening to it, half a dozen more times; but, what doesn't really settle is the tragedy of her life as told by the story. her music was always so uplifting, and pure, that it seems like politics and political tragedy just swooped down on her and ruined her...separated her from her family, her country, her people, and instead gave her political alliances, and political trouble, and grief when she made a cultural exchange with paul simon, without which i may never have heard south african music. in other words, i'm in favor of cultural exchange; it's given me a world of riches. i still consider her one of the best musicians i've ever heard, able to bring an uplifting spirit through a language i'd never heard.

good folk is like that; you don't have to be of the culture it's sung in to feel its power. she maintained all along that she sang what was in her heart; she didn't intend to be political or represent a movement or, as it turned out, have her life rent asunder by political firestorm caused essentially by the apartheid regime dominating her lifetime. all that political stuff, it turned out, was bigger than just her and her music and her family could beat. her family said that she often said she would play music until she died, and she did- they were shouting for an encore, in southern italy, when she collapsed. so much of her life happened before i was even around; it explains why i heard of her so rarely, felt even like i was the only one who'd heard her around here. didn't even know how political her name sounded to people; to me, it was just musical, as i hadn't even imagined the rest of it. i've heard of hugh masakela, and stokely carmichael, of course, didn't know she was connected to them in any way. maybe you'll hear more of her music, not that she's died.

Monday, November 10, 2008

most trees around here take their good old sweet time changing color, dropping their leaves, turning from an on-fire, bright, show-your-colors type wig to orangish, brownish, winter haze which doesn't truly set in until around the holidays. but in the meantime, it's a nice slow ride, rich in hues which of course can be exploited by pop-art technology and hue-manipulation.

but that's beside the point- there's one tree, the ginkgo, which is different that way. it has bright yellow leaves, which also have a different shape from most leaves; then, they all fall at the same time, and i'm sure it's not random, but it sure seems this way. this morning, on the way to work and school, we sat dumbfounded when the ginkgo outside our house (the yellow tree in the background, below) rained its leaves, dozens every second, even at a time when nearby trees were not especially prone to dropping. the wind was down. it was cold out, but not too bad. it was monday morning, yes, maybe that had something to do with it.

then, i went to look at some of my own pop art. as you know i've been somewhat obsessed with the japanese garden outside my building. this is partly because it's there; on the way from swimming to the office, i pass by it often; it changes color; i'm unfamiliar with all the plants, but they're very orderly and beautiful, and, its juxtaposition between some rowdy construction on one side, and a sculpture garden and my own building on the other, makes it a place of dubious meditative value, but interesting photographically if nothing else. so i've been bringing a digital camera to work, and, late at night, uploading some of the pictures and making them into pop-art, as a kind of escape from reams of dubious-grammar-type papers on endangered species. but, and here's the rub, went to open one that has the little plaque, and noticed that i've been pronouncing it kamakura when in reality it is the kumakura garden. and i'm sure it's significant. it's easy enough to change the labels on my pictures- half don't even have labels; but, we're talking urls here. some have double misspellings on their urls...

don't quite know how to take this, except that, as you can see below, i'm kind of into the place; i've grown a little attached. and i don't like misspellings....a certain amount of disorganization, i'll tolerate, and a little random placement...but, this shall not stand.

i sometimes go through cesl's massive website finding bad links and outdated pages. i'm on the lookout for entire pages i can turn into pop-art, or, at the very least, trim off the system in order to simplify. meanwhile i put pictures i've taken on there. it's my contribution to the the body of visual representation of such things as faner hall, the sculpture garden, and kumakura...lucky, for me, that in these dark times, 1) i'm employed by this place; 2) they have a grounds crew, which, though it may not have collectively voted for obama, will at least pull the weeds out of kumakura and keep the university side of the fence well-kept; 3) i get out and over to the pool almost every day, regardless of how far behind i am on my writing papers; 4) these massive caves, the cesl web, can sit there for days, my pop-art mislabeled, misspelled url's, and who will even notice? bad links, etc., and they don't even tell me; 5) it's a scene that quite easily could be put out of mind for as much as fourteen years, but when one finally opens one's eyes to it, there are very interesting patterns. the snakes in the weeds by the rock wall can attest to that. chou.

Sunday, November 09, 2008






Saturday, November 08, 2008

been making pop art feverishly, or really what they'd call poster art, using the poster function to make the picture more vague, at the same time drawing attention to the contrasts & lines. in the process, have let go, temporarily, of serious writing, haiku, & other stuff. i do mostly university- kamakura garden, statues & sculptures, faner, etc. i'll show some; i'll show it all eventually. i need more sites called exposure! posterize! saturate! as i'm no longer really into sharpen! or write! but i have a cleaner system too: i'm dealing entirely with my own photos now. i actually go out and take them. and, much to my surprise, it's easy to take this digital camera home, download the photos, and just use it again. when i was growing up, you had to buy film- major stumbling block.

this is one blog that won't get caught up in the political, but i do need to say this: part of my job really is to stand up and represent the usa every single day. i hear a lot of "what's up with the bad public transportation?", "why does everyone stay home on sundays and holidays?", and "what's up with the fast food?"; answering such questions is really basic interpretation of our culture at the front lines. and from that point of view the last eight years have been tough, kind of like a tour guide slowly watching his city being sold down the river, right as he is showing it to people, every day. but, i also asked my students what they thought of the election; i was proud of their responses. the usa came through; maybe only in the usa, could this have happened so suddenly, so dramatically. to them it was amazing that we did it ourselves. that a government will change dramatically and peacefully. and that people shouted and danced in the street at the outcome.

so we changed governments on tuesday, and now it's saturday. i'm exhausted. homework undone, garage uncleaned, about to fall asleep: i leave you pictures, above. have a good fall...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

picture break




Tuesday, November 04, 2008

as i write obama has won pennsylvania, and new hampshire, and will probably win ohio; mccain has won south carolina, tennessee and kentucky. obama has won the ones we expected- vermont, maine, mass., rhode island, maryland, delaware. it's exciting; i can't leave the computer. it's the climax of a long season; it all comes down to this specific state-by-state geographical domino system, and, though i know everyone is holding their breath, i for one have my eyes right down at domino level and intend to watch as each vote crawls in. as obama wins ohio, my native state, some are saying it's over; what about north carolina? virginia? florida?

dia de los muertos, as it turns out, means day of the dead, it was a couple of days ago, but mexicans are quick to point out that, in honoring the dead, they are really appreciating life, and not wallowing in death as some would say we do at hallowe'en. i don't know, what do i know? nor do i really know what bonfire day is, when they set fires all across britain, to keep out "the guy," or to celebrate national unity in the face of a rebel who wouldn't mind burning down parliament and all that a nation would hold dear. again, what would i know?

having put the children to bed: one said, when asked in first grade, that he liked barack, partly because "brock" is famous in the pokemon world, and partly because he knew his dad was for barack. the three-year-old said, barack sounds like broccoli. their parents said: we did it for you; it's time for the american people to take back this country and try to restore a semblance of sanity and respect to the path we are taking as a nation.

of my eighteen years of growing up, i spent at least fifteen of them in ohio and pennsylvania, and i hadn't thought much of that, until i was down in mexico traveling and found myself trying to say "pennsylvania" in spanish, as i talked about my family and childhood. i was never quite fluent in spanish, but i managed to talk a little about the u.s.a. and began to see it a little more as people from outside it see it. it's a giant in the world, and it needs the people who run it to understand the kind of role it plays in the world, and not get tripped up over the difference between "iran" and "iraq", or, "guatemala" and "el salvador," "sunni" and "shiite." it may be true that we're busy; we have to put food on the table; we try to get ahead, and all that stuff. but somebody is down at the courthouse counting the votes and throwing some of them away; the republicans tend to be better at that than the democrats, or at least they have been, the last 8 years or so, and this has hurt this nation in such a way that it may now be so difficult to repair, that it's hard to envy obama.

i didn't get to make a shrine to the dead, as they do in mexico, this year; thought about making one on the web, or someplace where i could appreciate it. as i write ohio, iowa, and new mexico are going for obama; i lived in iowa eleven years, and am proud to notice that it doesn't even waver on the fence; it's kind of like illinois in its blueness. my parents live in new mexico, and i'm proud to say, they had a role in what i'm watching now.

what sticks in my mind right now is a cartoon that i saw a little earlier about soldiers watching the election from thousands of miles away. did their brothers and sisters die in vain? that's who i'd make my shrine to, i believe, as they have been on my mind for many years. were they over there for oil? to avenge W's dad? to keep an eye on israel and palestine? were they over there to spread democracy, so that iraq could actually choose for itself who it wanted politically, which would be the shiites, probably, by the way? or perhaps to buy some time for the kurds, to make an independent state in the vacuum of power, yet without turkey's approval?

i can't answer any of these questions; i don't know why they were there, and i don't know what will come of it, under what conditions they'll leave, or what will happen next. i do know that, given a choice between people who have the interests of halliburton in mind, and people who can pronounce the names of the countries involved, i'm glad the people in my native states paid close attention, listened carefully, and gave their local vote-counters a clear message that could not be fudged or changed in the courthouses. i'd like to remember that what is happening tonight is playing out in thousands of little courthouses and precincts, in written ballots, unambiguous, countable, that lots of my fellow citizens are getting involved and watching carefully. no pierdas el tino- don't lose your aim, we sing, as we drive around town these days. and, las lluves se levantan- the clouds are lifting. the seven-year-old maintains that this last one is about elefantes, but it just sounds like that; it's about the clouds, buddy, and the rain. once when i was researching centralia, a town in illinois, i encountered an old town of centralia in pennsylvania, a ghost town, long abandoned, in coal country, where there has been a fire burning, underground, for thirty years or so. everyone is a little disturbed about this underground fire, but they abandoned the town, don't feel anyone is in immediate danger, and, what can they do? they don't want to go down there after it; that would be more dangerous than doing nothing. all through pennsylvania, i used to travel, and frequently get stuck, out in the mountains, on some god-forsaken two-lane, snaking through the alleghenies, or down on the turnpike where there are tunnels and everyone's in a hurry; this time of year, there were a lot of deer racks on the back of cars, and parts of that state felt far, very far, from the rest of the east. in ohio, i always felt the eastern hills flattening out into the vast midwest, on the other side, but i'd never fall asleep, knowing it was my native state, and having memories flooding me as i drove, actually finding some indians fans when i stopped for gas or coffee. i haven't been back there for a while, even though they are only a couple of states east of here; eight hours can be a ways, when you have little ones. my thoughts, though, jump back in minutes. the courthouses are checking in; it's almost over.

celebrating a historic occasion; it now appears that it's over, and so will this long rambling post be, sooner rather than later. it's a great country; i started traveling it in the eastern states where you can change states every hour or two, but after you get past ohio and indiana, which fly by in the middle of the night, you get out in the wide open spaces; i ended up doing forty-eight of them including alaska, after i got back from a trip down to mexico that drew me all the way down to guatemala, before i turned back. landing on the dock at key west, i kissed the ground, i was so glad to be home, but had only pesos in my pocket, and only a few of them at that. coming through northern ohio one night, you come down out of pennsylvania, and the country spreads out wide in front of you, wide and flat; in the middle of the night, i met tom petty; he was wide awake too; the story is well documented, but all i can say now is, there's times you realize, this country is millions of things big. it's home; it's the coal towns, the corn fields, the mountains and the big muddy. but the biggest thing is, it's the people. they blow it sometimes, yes, they can be accused of being short of perspective, sometimes. but they can fix stuff, too; they don't give up; and they're likely to lean toward treating people equally, if they can. and there's something to be said for that. here's one for obama's grandmother, another for the folks who died in iraq, or died on the way there, or died in their hearts, based on what they saw. yes, we were back here yapping about redistribution, and a stock market and a few hundred billion, beluga whales and a bridge to nowhere, & by the way pennsylvania had one of those also. we get a little self-absorbed, with our infighting, our $150,000 outfits, our poster art- but don't let it be said that we forgot about you. not for a moment, did that happen. life is a celebration of living, though- i'm too old for grant park, maybe, too old to go six hours up, and six more back, on a night before i teach another long day, but i'll tell you this: i'm an illinoisan now, and we're celebrating. it's the children; we had to do something for the children. they'll be paying for that war for hundreds of years, and they needed some hope, something to set them straight on the path. no pierdas el tino....las lluves se levantan...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

can't get much more beautiful than ornament valley, fall 2008, clear blue skies, bright leaves falling everywhere, and saints day turning gently toward election day, bonfire night, guy fawkes day, stopping temporarily at "fall back," this morning, when everyone myself included got an extra hour in bed.

it was time for the annual quaker play, which in this case i'd tried to get out & onstage once or twice already. to be truthful, it's reached a point where i feel i don't have quite enough energy to really do it well, but i still did it, and, it worked out ok; my goal, really, is to bring issues to the table, not to resolve them, or even to influence people in my direction. i'm a quaker playwrite, but an almost reluctant one; i have mixed feelings about my own message, my own role, and even my own ability to do it as well as i'd like. at the moment, i'm a lot more wrapped up in other media, mainly pop art, short stories and music; if that doesn't divide & conquer me, a 50/hr week'll do it every time.

but, i'm alive, with a bit of a cough, tired, barely ready for another week. upon coming home, my 16-yr-old climbed a tree way up to the top, 'til i'd forgotten he was up there; i was playing the banjo & watching the little brother. it was a stunning day. the tree, a gingko, is bright yellow; supposedly one should rake those leaves before they rot. nearby other trees blaze, red maples, a berry tree, all kinds of stuff. it is, as i've said, the ornament valley, a good place to put the banjo out into, even if i basically haven't learned a new song for twenty or thirty years. my son didn't seem to mind; he'd actually played a tree in the play, a 30-ft. rubber tree, doomed by the demise of the interfaith center. did a good job, too, though all the actors played fast & loose with the lines. it was a happening. only in carbondale; only now. life goes on, and, i hope, will continue its stunning display; hope i don't lose track of this.
hate to cover up good pop-art with blather, but it's been a long full holiday weekend and the words are pushing their way out my fingers even though i had to wake up special, middle of the night, to be out here. i'm inspired partly because tonight, my young son held me tight, scared hard by a costume so evil it just got to him. everyone was clearly in costume; yes, he could handle that, the whole party was in costume, and that was ok, to some degree, but when this death-monster (pumpkin-face, the other judge called him; he won second prize)-that was it. the incarnation of evil.

we'd also been jumped just as we set off trick-or-treating, the night before; the neighbors, who have a house full of girls who had apparently dressid up the dog several times, unwittingly let the dog bolt out the door when they answered it, and when the little guy was trick-or-treating. he's right down at the dog's level, and the little yip-yip dog had a lot of repressed feelings, i guess, and though there was no biting (fortunately) it was one of those moments that will stick with him a lot, like the gorilla incident of last halloween which he talked about for almost a year, and certainly every time we drove past murdale (almost every day).

i mention this to say that, although it may seem like i dropped out of the world to be stunned at the gorgeous weather, the fact that the area seemed to be at its peak this weekend in terms of color, that it seemed to be a convergence of stunning fall leaf-color-peak and otherworldly-holiday-celebration; actually i was very much in the thick of it, doing the trick-or-treat thing with the boys around the neighborhood, spending much of the day on an elaborate cardboard costume (i was a stick of butter- my wife was an ear of corn, so the pressure was on to match)...and, my costume was good enough to deserve winning this year, though as i mentioned, i was a judge, so it was a labor of love. a lot of stress, loading a huge cardboard stick of butter into a van, along with two costumed boys, light sabers, body-part cake, etc. and the leaves make that loud crackle just about wherever one goes.

it was well documented, both the butter, and the other stuff, along with the pumpkins at cesl; much of this will end up on facebook i'm sure, if it hasn't already. the fact is, the whole dress-up thing is big in a town like this, even if you make a point not to get caught up in it, and have lots better to do. it'll getcha. as a judge, i had to look carefully at costumes from all angles, how original, how much sacrifice went into making them, etc., and i was in a good position to notice such things. but then i'd also had that moment with the mime- who, fortunately i had not photographed, a moment which sticks with me, also, like a gorilla moment. it could be just that shock and dismay were grease-colored into his totally black-white face, but he was there at the here statue, deep in thought, totally black-and-white, on a day when the season's colors were at their full stunning best. and he suspected perhaps that i'd taken his picture, though i hadn't; i'd in fact run out of pictures, and had no intention to catch people, was even unprepared for the possibility. so in a sense, the world sits and balances precariously- between one's deepest fears, and the pant legs of one's dad; between the world of stunning live color, and the black and white of pure silence; between the rich candies of neighborhood tidings, and the messy cleanup of litter in the park, when it's all over; between the deep sleep brought on by fresh air, running around, & pine needles in a crisp fall day; and the sleeplessness, however temporary, from the memory of an innocent young fella, run up against his pwn fears, disturbed, though not forever, by the very concept of dressing up as the evil side of oneself...the wax just barely covered my elaborate red-and-blue lettering on yellow land-O-lakes butta, but showed up well, apparently, in the photos. made some smores in the back with the little guy and some other folks, during the party, and in the coals of the little stove, a good little fire was going; lots of stars above too, even in the center of the city, where halloween traffic was intense and where, if one looks, good costumes can be seen everywhere. reminds me, that & the gorilla post, that bonfire night's on its way. a wild holiday weekend, and it's not even over. if it's true that bonfire night corresponds with election day, which it does in some method or another, than it will truly be, clear out the brush, burn out the ghouls, out with the old, kick up the embers but don't let the marshmallow catch on fire. like halloween candles and a butta costume; this is not how i wanted the evening to turn out. but it didn't; i'm here; it's night; all is well, and we go steadily into another beautiful holiday, weekend day. more later.