Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

lots of good things about lubbock, believe it or not. first, the weather: it's sunny, and blue, and warm, with a gentle wind and clear skies most of the time. mornings are dry and cool, evenings are dry and cool, and i like being outside even in the middle of the day when the sun just kind of dries me out and makes me feel fresh. i like it; it's different. the steady breeze brings new stuff. second, you can find cool people all over the place, though basically it's a city, and there are plenty of the other kind. sometimes we come home and review the things we hear, some of which are unusual, but hey, i consider that a bonus. i have lots of things to find out about lubbock - about the quakers who settled the county at one point (and lived in what is now a ghost town called estacado)...about the Dixie Chicks, Buddy Holly, Mac Davis, the Flatlanders, Shelby Knox, some of the towns' native sons & daughters. Keeps you getting out there and talking to people. i can tell people are into music and i like that, but i haven't found much in the way of people to play with. as i go around in my day, i invent words: texaphone (one who speaks texan), texaphile (one who likes texas), texish (applies to all manner of things). people are friendly. good things happen; when i'm in a good mood, i get lots of good pictures and enjoy talking to people. my pictures all show lubbock in the rearview mirror, though some are just lubbock, no mirror. i'm slow in uploading them though; my own computer isn't handling the internet at the moment. when i get organized, watch out. "xeriscape" is the word for these grasses that don't require water. i call it "zeroscape" because it lives fine on zero water. people cherish and measure inches of rain here. i need a picture of that too. they leave old buildings up here because there's lots of space, so, even though the whole area is only a hundred or so years old, every building anyone built is out there somewhere with a funky sign, lots of good documenting. i'll get it up here as soon as possible. my new jobs are interesting but, for the moment, i'm putting way too much into them. more later

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

went to denver on a family vacation, one in which my wife had a conference, but boys & i stayed in a fancy hotel downtown. denver has nice buildings like chicago, but an entirely different atmosphere than chicago, much younger and healthier than most places, and beautiful weather the wholetime. at one point i insisted that we go out to the mountains and we did, just past the steep incline, and we ended up in evergreen, in the buffalo bill museum, and at red rocks, a park known for its grateful dead concerts. again, weather was beautiful. kids were worn out and began to fray at the edges. finally we returned to lubbock where all of school starts in days.

close proximity to lots of seemed like every driftless 20-year-old, every mountain man gone bust, every old dude kicked out of california was on denver's downtown streets. they'd put pianos out there, in the mall, on the strip, and i played one, but it didn't have much volume and i didn't do anything about it. i played a long and rambling thing in the key of f but pretty much nobody reacted to it; it was a nice day, people were strolling and sitting, the tune was good enough at least to tolerate.

at the rockies game they only charged us three bucks to get in; i was a senior citizen. i wanted general admission but they gave us the "rock pile" which was way out there and we didn't see it well enough. there were plenty of seats in the general area too. one time we went and sat down there and they threw us out. a bottle of water was like six bucks so i think they got their money, but their finickyness about unwelcome visitors in entirely empty sections, even late in the game, kind of turned me against the team itself. it wasn't like it would have bothered anyone in the section; there wasn't anyone in the section. we went back to the "rock pile" where kids were drinking and people were more or less oblivious to a game they couldn't see anyway. ironically it was a good game, kept going back and forth, the rockies found themselves behind, late in the game, and we left, having been there long enough, and they lost the game. they lost it, basically, because of one home run that barely cleared the fence. they say that in that high mountain air a ball will carry just a foot or two farther, well in that game, it cost the rockies one, because it was the other team that got that hit.

in the car on the way to the airport one son complained about deleting a world, which he did, accidentally, on his phone, as he sat there. i told him i knew the feeling, it was kind of like moving out of a town you'd lived in for a while, but it's not really the same, his was entirely imaginary. in the motel i kept up my recent theme of "reflections" by taking pictures of buildings reflected in other buildings, or, mountains reflected in buildings, or whatever, downtown seemed full of these beautiful rectangular glass mirror-windows that showed basically hundreds of other similar windows, in rectangular patterns, and i'd see the mountains way off on a clear day and pine for them. then, look back at my boys in the hotel swimming pool, learning to stay under water just a little longer, or splashing each other.

going there the plane flew over vegas, and outside of town, where i thought i'd see the grand canyon out the window, instead there were these dry dusty mountains that seemed to have nothing, absolutely nothing, growing anywhere near them. dust would be rising from them as if they created dust and raised it up into the air. in one place a road headed toward the dusty mountain and just stopped at the base of it, as if, here you get out of the truck and walk the rest of the way. one of the mountains had a whole mine dug into it as if it were full of something valuable; who knows? then over the range of mountains, comes vegas, a city of neon signs and glittery images, houses built in the desert with water pumped up from who knows where to water the lawns, roads in grids stretching across the desert. impressive. i couldn't help wondering why they'd send a plane that far west, out of the way; similarly on the way back they sent us to austin out of the way, before lubbock; austin was rainy and green as if it were a lush green forested garden down there. back in lubbock we were surprised how easy it was, how home it was already, how we knew all the roads, and everything was familiar, in a way. you delete one world, but there are others to take its place.

pictures will follow; i'm still a little disorganized on getting things from camera, to computer, online as i can do the first two together, and the last two together, but all three together, rare and difficult. it's coming, bear with me. things will get easier.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

it's ironic that while i entertain the possibility of ghosts, i always assume they are as stuck on geography as i am, in spite of the obvious fact that, since they don't have real bodies, they shouldn't necessarily ever be bound to one physical location. for example, if they belonged to a person who died in a house, why should they have to stick around and haunt that house? it's not like they can't walk down the road and go haunt another house.

but then, the idea that one place is just a little more haunted than another goes along with the idea that when you get there, you get this feeling, a kind of chill in your bones, and you know that there's something there, in that location, that you can't necessarily see, but which would make itself clear if you could. so, for example, we'd be walking along a path in the woods in a park and there would be this cave, and it would be easy enough to imagine that hundreds of years ago, people lived in that cave and it was a very important home site. some old towns or ghost towns are like that too. it's partly just the environment itself that makes you sure there are other spirits, or characters, hanging around.

one time i was hitchhiking out in the wild mountains of east tennessee and i came upon a crowd of people who lived back on the slope of clinch mountain in a hollow behind bean station tennessee, kind of an area where one road cuts up through the mountain slaunchwise, and the main road, so-called bloody eleven-w, runs up along clinch mountain and goes ultimately from washington d.c. to new orleans. this eleven-w was a crowded road, dangerous, it may have been replaced by now, but when i was there in the seventies it was held in fear and respect. now i couldn't quite figure out what i was doing there but folks were nice to me, fed me, allowed me to camp on that mountainside for as long as i want, and i joined them in their hollow for a while. That place seemed a little more haunted one day when a woman got mad, threw her love letters into a huge fire (they were burning an old outhouse) and the letters came shooting back out at her, causing her great mental distress and almost causing the outhouse fire to go untended for a while. it was winter, january, but the mountain shielded us, and we had a lot of stove fires and sat around eating rice and natural foods. the wood smoke would come out the chimney and kind of get trapped in the hollow, between clinch mountain and the highway, and it would smell good and hang in the air as the dead leaves crunched at my feet. in people's cars we'd go up and down bloody eleven-w, sometimes they had a job down the road and other times they'd go up the road to buy supplies, and one time this pickup we were riding in the the back of lost a wheel, right out there on the highway, causing sparks to fly all over the place, and causing us to stand there, at the side of the road, out in the mountains somewhere, trying to figure out how to get home.

the only reason this little time in my life, about two weeks long, came up, there was this cadillac, it's for sale right next to our house. deep in the heart of texas, this big red old cadillac, about a 1968 or so, a convertible, and i said to myself, maybe that's hank's. i had no idea what happened with hank williams dying in a cadillac, or when, but i associated it for some reason with texas. so it encouraged me to go look up the facts. of course i couldn't buy this cadillac, you know by the mere fact it's sitting there, they're asking too much for it, but nevertheless i thought i'd find out what i could, and i did.

now i'd just finished talking to a friend of mine, her father died on the main street of our town, i don't know the details, but because there's a well-known ghost in the old post office there on the main street, i brought it up; she didn't believe in ghosts much, but the question came up, is there any reason a person on the road driving, would die here or there or anywhere else in particular? most people die in beds of course, so it's the rooms in any given old house that have a feeling to them, but for that small population that die out there in a car, or in a horse, or even in an airplane, you can't help but wonder if it matters. you see these roadside markers beside the road as if people are like me, they feel someone is still there, someone owns the spot, someone will be appeased if some flowers are laid right there by the side of the road. but who knows, it's not like a ghost can't walk, or get around any other way. they could go and haunt any place they wanted, couldn't they?

so the story of hank drew me right in, and it turns out his cadillac was blue, and was about sixteen years earlier, and he was from alabama. but one december he and his driver headed up toward west virginia in this cadillac for a pair of gigs up there and got stranded in knoxville tennessee; they put hank in the back of that cadillac one night and started driving again, but got pulled over and cited right near bean station. some time after that hank was found to be dead; he was 29; he'd lived a rough life and had been given morphine in knoxville, because of being sick. some suggested that he was dead as far back as knoxville, but apparently they got pulled over and given a ticket, without the police poking him to see if he'd stir. the driver also was not really suspected of wrongdoing; he'd just driven, through a storm, up through bean station and then up into west virginia.

of course the country music world lived and relived the fateful trip and finally saved the cadillac and put it in a museum in alabama. it was a fifty-two, roundish, but new at the time (this was new year's eve, fifty three), and i'm sure it's something to see.

but you relive the night hank was carried, coughing and wheezing, from his room in knoxville, and then you figure, pulled over, getting a ticket, car open, sitting around on a cold snowy night, when even the plane was cancelled out of knoxville due to snow. i'm figuring hank died somewhere right around bean station.

if anyone said anything to me about it, it went right over my head at the time, though they might have. there was a lot going on, a lot of people, a lot of traffic on that road, but at the time, i didn't know how big hank williams was in the country world; i had only a vague idea. even as recently as last week, i associated the whole story with texas, for some reason, i thought he'd died in texas. and for some reason, i pictured him alone, out in the desert, under the stars. goes to show, you make an image in your mind, and after a while you believe it, and in the end, it doesn't matter much whether ghosts are real, the fact is, we feel stuff, and we make up the rest. there could be ghosts all over the place, and they could even reach out and grab someone, or grab the wheel off a truck, who knows? but most likely, it's just the world, doing its usual stuff, and making us wonder.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

about a week into life in lubbock now, or maybe two, since we got here around the first (and it's the fourteenth as I type), and just the other day some guy from a car yelled at us, on the street, about race, as we (as a family) were crossing 19th street. That was immediately followed by a woman who also yelled something, but it wasn't clear to me the relation of what she said to what he said, since I didn't hear her at all, though it seemed she was saying it to us rather than to him. my immediate reaction was to come home and become more radical, to set me feet in the clay so to speak and dig in for a long fight. the world is full of people who don't agree with or approve of the races mixing, or walking together on 19th street or wherever, and i could just mildly go my own way and let them go theirs; it's not like i'm going to change their mind in any way, or make them understand something that was previously incomprehensible to them. in fact it's somewhat surprising to me that i went seven years in illinois without hearing any such comment, but this could be because my memory is fuzzy, and i admit that i didn't even fully hear the one i'm referring to here in lubbock. who knows what the guy said? or the woman for that matter. it doesn't really have to affect me at all, since it wasn't said to my face and i didn't hear it clearly, and in fact i'm better off not reacting to cowards, since if i told them how i felt they would circle around, confront me, and spin their wheels in my face as they drove off and that would be the best possible outcome. better off to pretend they were talking to the wind.

lubbock has a steady breeze and in fact the other night a storm passed through and we got a bit of rain which made everything greener, temporarily, including things i should have watered and things the neighbors and the city water every day or almost. it also energized people; it seems there's more traffic, people drive aiming for the puddles; people put their foot on the gas in their trucks, shooting into the refreshed, warm steamy air. and by steamy i mean that this is relative, since it's usually quite dry, a little water on the street makes a kind of temporary sheen, as the trees are quick to absorb what they can and the narrow leaves open out for a bit to take in whatever is there. the steady breeze kicks in and the following day it's hot, dry, and a bit windy, as usual, and all the living things kick back in to survival mode, ok it's hot & sunny again, but i will survive.

i'm beginning to reject the definition of stay-at-home parenting as fighting kids' natural impulse. the natural impulse is to skip a nine-o'clock breakfast and eat something at about eleven, and then get real hungry around three and eat as much as possible. this of course ruins parents' dinner plans and also, by the way, leaves them wondering where the people are, at about noon when we would like to prepare them something we would call "lunch." but the natural cycle is what their body tells them, and, even when, and especially if they go to school, three or three thirty is that devastating time when whatever is in the kitchen gets sucked right up much like a vacuum cleaner might take to a living room carpet. so the question is, do you fight this and impose with an iron fist, a morning-noon-evening schedule, or do you go with the flow and let what happens happen? in our case the lazy river is a consideration; we want to go, we leave here at about five fifteen; we want them to have food in the belly so as not to want to come home immediately; so, sometime i go with the flow. ok, i'll feed you in the late afternoon. i'll even give you whatever you want. i'll be a little less attached to what we call "dinner." i'll watch the natural cycle take its course.

big accident today at eighty second & quaker; it's amazing to me just being in a city, where houses burn down, people get killed, things happen at a slightly greater volume than they did in the town i used to live in. i've taken to checking the news, and even reading about this stuff that befalls people in our midst, people in this city. almost a quarter million folks around, though it's not exactly clear to me where they are, since i haven't found a clear downtown, and have only a fuzzy conception of where they go, where they work, where all the traffic is. our little part seems to be university-ville, for sure, but what do i know. for example my wife asked me if we could be considered to be on the south or the west side, and yes, in a sense, we are both, but also we are neither, since we're in the middle of town, and town grew out so much to both the south and the west, it left us back in the old part. so i couldn't even answer that question.

my son comes down and watches his video in the chair next to mine. it's about the game minecraft or is it mindcraft i'm not sure. at one point the guy is saying, well you can pray, but if you do, you'll get this kind of nausea, nausea will set in. so after the movie is over i asked my son, what's with this nausea? nausea, he says, is when the screen becomes fuzzy, and you can't quite see your environment very clearly anymore. it's the price you pay, i guess, in this kind of circumstance. why would you want to pray? maybe to make your character stronger, he said, as a kind of defense. or to heal an injury, he says, created by a zombie or a skeleton or one of those other bad guys they've let loose to get you. these guys, he said, mostly attack you at night. but night is an artificial construct, night happens every ten minutes or so, when you are playing, and it doesn't matter if you chose to play at some time that we would call "night" here in real time, or if it was what we would call "day." it's a kind of construction of night, imposed by the game-makers.

the conversation eventually leads to how any given character can blow up part of his environment in various ways, one of which is to actually become an enemy, or a zombie, or whatever these bad guys are. this is where my memory becomes a little fuzzy, because as he's talking i imagine a kid who gets used to becoming bad guys, and blowing stuff up, and as i did with my older kids i challenge him to assure me that he won't grow up, and choose to become a bad guy and blow up his neighbors, rather than say, walking over there and working out whatever his problem is. at our sister university, down in the steamy part of texas, this just happened when an elected official served papers on some guy on fidelity street in some small town, and got blown away in a resulting gun fight. in a world where automatic weapons are freely available, and boys spend lots of time in these alternate worlds where one just a bad guy and blows up one's environment, i guess i shouldn't be too surprised. i would pray a little more, but i'm not sure i can handle the nausea. fortunately i washed all the old windows in this ancient house, and now, the clear sunny days, the entire view, is quite clear. this includes the dead tree out front, which i suppose you will see, if you haven't already, and the suns that the previous owners left, hanging on the wooden wall, giving us interior courtyards with the image of suns on them; you will see these also. the rearview mirror shots i do for my lubbock site, don't know quite what i'll do with that, but i will say that people from here ought to be able to go there, and see a little of my perspective, hard or jaded or whatever, whereas here they'll get more of a ramble, more of whatever i'm thinking. more later.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

missing illinois

Saturday, August 11, 2012

about a week into lubbock and we're totally hooked by the lazy-river pool, an outdoor part of the student recreation center about three long blocks from our house. texas is hot so we often get a ride there, but once we're there we get in this three-and-a-half-foot current that carries virtually all of lubbock around in a wide loopy circle as a really fun part of a swimming pool. almost every day we go. this is ok since i know almost nobody except a few people i've met through jobs that haven't started yet.

how do i feel about lubbock? well, it's hot and open, not much to block the sun and you soon come to appreciate the scraggly trees they do have like these old texas oaks i've found, and when you find these trees you tend to cherish the shade and run for a hose to water them as they undoubtedly need it. i suppose if you're an old-timer you spit on them and that's enough, but, when i see my neighbors water their lawns i figure, if you can make your grass green, i'll keep this scrawny old tree alive since at least it's giving me some shade. then everyone's real friendly, and i like that, it's hoddy y'all this and hoddy y'all that and that's ok with me, pretty soon i'll be doing that hoddy y'all stuff too without the least bit self-consciousness. and they're genuinely helpful and generous, and i get the feeling they look at us northerners like wow, you can belt out your business right away without even stopping to say hoddy y'all how ya been?. but that's the way we northerners are, not only that but a little aggravated that the north is sinking in its own quicksand, while texas and its buddies down here are just hopping along.

so i started my own site about this town and the stuff i found, starting with the different songs that croon about "somewhere in texas" and various other things i want to explore. the first thing i want to explore is the lazy river, i've been almost nowhere else, but, i'm also interested in natalie maines, bobby knight, shelby knox, various characters around town, what became of them, what people say about them. for example, are we truly in the heart of football-as-religion country, or are there some non-believers around? will they kill me if i say that football should be illegal, or that it kills people, or both? i have no idea. or that george w was the worst president in the entire history of the u.s.a. this is something i don't often repeat; it's negative, it's hurtful, natalie maines lost her career over saying something to that effect, course she said it in england, in 2003 to be exact, in front of everyone, whereas i, here i am burying it deep in my blog where nobody will even read it. but it's true, and i hate to say it. i'm in the heart of bush country. and they might not even know, i mean, he was ok for texas, texas had plenty of money, and he'd always had plenty of money, the whole time he was governor there was oil money all over the place. then, he runs the country, couple wars over the wrong thing, or whatev, and here we are, halliburton lost a few bill, now we owe a fortune, now china won't pay my retirement, and we're wondering where we're going and what's this hand basket we're in.

but i'm nothing if not discrete, so i probably won't say this every day, to everyone i meet, and in fact will wear my tt hat and be downright agreeable most of the time. they have, after all, made me a job, and i'm difficult to employ. they're even getting me an office, and maybe a computer, and this will be better than retiring, because there's stuff i still want to do. and we'll keep working that lazy river for a while; we're all getting tans and some wrinkles and already everyone recognizes our blue van even though it lives in a garage, because who drives around in a blue van? everyone's got white trucks. a blue van is like, the opposite of normal.

but hey like i say they're polite, and well-meaning, and it wasn't their fault george w was as bad as he was. it's actually quite a diverse culture, with a huge number of vietnamese, mexicans, blacks, all kinds of folks around, and they jump in this lazy river regularly and you get to reflect on the kind of town you live in, see these folks cruising around the bend, or watching from the side, or whatev. so life goes on and i'm here, and i'll make it one way or the other, and so will my kids, they're a little bored so far, but they'll find kids, soon enough i hope. when school starts in about two weeks, we'll all be shooting down that lazy river, the lazy river of time, of school itself, the river of life, hang on, if you go under don't stay under, let the river just push you once in a while.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012

what follows is the full story of an amazing journey, a single family of my wife, me, two young boys, two large dogs and three cats in a van, a sixteen-foot moving van loaded completely full, from carbondale to our new home in lubbock texas. we had great apprehension about moving and not only did we get the van late, but it took us most of a day and part of another to move stuff into it, so that instead of leaving sunday morning as we'd planned, we didn't get on the road until sunday at about six in the evening.

there were several casualties of the move; not everything made it onto the van. toward the end we realized that if we left the wicker furniture behind we could get lots of boxes and other things on the van, and we did. we left a table and a chair, and the cubby; we'd made a deal, hours before leaving, with a friend to take the house, so we willingly left stuff for him that wouldn't fit anyway. we left behind a hose, a bed, a few other things; we tossed all our food and spices. we got on the van both bicycles, the sports bucket, and virtually everything else we owned. sunday afternoon it rained long and hard, and we couldn't get the moving van up the steep driveway, so much of that move was done in the rain, one thing at a time. the van was so full that when you opened it, you could barely get anything out of it, because everything was lodged against everything else, and we had to put the dolly back in it at the last minute. hello dolly!

so sunday at about six we set off toward the bootheel with every intention of making it to little rock by maybe midnight. but at a rest stop in the bootheel, this would be steele missouri, near the arkansas border, the mosquitos were so bad that the boys got eaten up and even got eaten up when they got back into the car, because they'd gotten in the car in the minutes we'd stopped. one boy had thirty welts on him and was in extreme pain, though the best i could figure, the pain was mainly the pain of the mosquito bites representing every single anxiety he had about moving. this became crucial right around little rock where we were both exhausted, there was road construction, and we'd been on the road six or seven hours, it now being about one, and the kids not asleep at all, but rather melting down, exhausted, upset, etc. we'd chosen super-8's to stay in because they are notoriously pet-friendly, but they are also seedy, and the one in little rock was very urban as well. nevertheless it was good for the dogs, both dogs and cats, all of whom were good, and tolerated the trip well as long as we minded their needs. the younger lad got into hotel breakfast waffles. the older one recovered from the mosquito welts and learned to charge his phone in the motels. the next night we were in dallas at another super-8, this one a little more upscale. but here my wife saw the largest cockroach she'd ever seen in her life, and we fled in a panic; now we'd lost all her makeup (it had been the site of the crime). we misplaced a number of things en route. dallas was a monster of a city but the west side, going through fort worth, was considerably easier to take than the east side. and we could tell, coming out of dallas to the west, that texas was opening up and becoming wide, sunny, dry, and scenic, even a little mountainous in parts, though it seemed we'd go up a wide, dry, long slope and never really come down. we were in fact rising up into the higher elevations and this accounted for some of the dryness.

somewhere west of dallas we saw a sign that said, el paso 565, and i thought, whoa, but we went through abilene and somewhere west of there cut up twoard lubbock. we came to some beanfields and agricultural areas, but then back out into the llano, the craggy dry "escarpmented plain" where nothing really grows anyway. finally we landed in lubbock and the truck had a flat, though it hadn't affected the trip much. took us a day to unload stuff, the van pulled up in front of our new house in the middle of lubbock. another day was spent in exhaustion, getting beds for the kids and fixing a bicycle. even today we are lying around, basically recovering. we did it though, got everything down here, three days of driving, and everyone in reasonable shape. my wife, driving with the boys, dogs and cats, claimed that the animals were fine, only the boys got a little testy once in a while. for me, alone in the truck, which rattled more as i got to west texas, probably due to the flat, i was able to key into the radio, and noticed immediately that texas is far more conservative than i'm used to. at one point there were two stations with rush limbaugh, and a third had glenn beck. commercials for a tea-bagger named cruz, who won, claimed that "every newspaper in texas called his opponent a moderate, using the word as if it were an insult, like you might call someone a liberal elsewhere. one talk show host was so rude and contrary to ordinary logic and decency, i had to change the channel. but it was just radio, there wasn't much else. there were a number of spanish stations. silence wasn't a bad option either; it was wide-open country.

the house we're in is at a corner one block from campus, on a busy through-street that will probably get busier once road construction abates. it's the old neighborhood of lubbock; the oldest tree in town sits in our back yard (shared with a neighbor); it's dying, and other trees have died also; the drought last year was hard on every tree in the state. i make plans to do tree husbandry, figure out what grows and how to make it do well. it's 105 or something outside, but i'm already more or less resigned to it; it can only get better, and, it's already better than the 99/99 that southern illinois is used to, since the humidity here is down at a much lower level. you learn, i think, to stay in in the afternoons, much as you would avoid chicago traffic. the boys, a little traumatized by the move and the heat both, would rather hang around in the morning (when i really should get them out) and i let them; later, who knows what will happen, after it cools off a little? we have exploring to do, but it's hard getting out from under our air-con and fans.

the neighbors sent their kids over to play, but they were all girls, which, hate to say it, probably doomed it from the start. the boys went out, played a bit, but came back in; whatever they were doing, it didn't take. the girls pretty much admitted they were here because their parents sent them over. they did their best; i can't blame them. it's good that our boys at least know them; hopefully they will also remember their names. give them 5-10 years; then, everything will change, and they will be ready to notice.

it's a somewhat urban environment; bikes cruising by regularly; a fair number of cars; blazing heat. it reminds me of las cruces in its ag-college town nature, its southwestern architecture, its mix of local character and college-town activity. so far, i'm thinking i can handle it. time marches; i'll keep you posted.
a thunderboomer came through tonight, around four, when i was picking up three boys, two from a friend’s house, a third from his boys and girls club. both of our boys have an active social life in these last days before we leave for texas; we are leaving sunday, and this is thursday. one full day to pack tomorrow, and one full day to load the moving van and clean the house.

a wednesday night music practice session was hard to take, if only because my leaving ended such a good thing musically. one song in particular, we played it well, it seemed like the apex of our time together. it’s a true story of one of my partner’s ancestors who went east from wisconsin to new york, and met the love of his life there; this was long ago. she calls it a “railroad sea shanty.” the main point, i think, was that she had enough ability in her hands and arms to play the whole song well, as we like to hear it; she has been recovering slowly from breaking her wrist and has had to undergo extensive physical therapy. the song sounded excellent. that made parting even harder.

i was exhausted, having packed in 105 degree heat for many days in a row, and today started out slowly, since i had to get back out in it, and i was kind of mourning the loss of my band or at least my partnership. but then, at about four, as i was saying, this thunderboomer comes marching through, with its loud pounding thunder footsteps and a kind of hesitant rain which turned into a downpour, a downpour of two distinct rounds, the first one to soften up the hard parched scratchy earth, the second to actually deliver enough rain to seep into the ground and make a difference. both were good hard drenching rains. on the street where i took the ten-year-old’s friend home, a man went out into his driveway, hands outstretched, getting soaked, clearly overjoyed after the long drought. it’s the kind of rain that, since the temps have been over a hundred for so long, the ground is over a hundred, or at least over eighty or ninety, for several feet down. and as the water finds its way down, it turns this heat into steam but that steam takes a while to be released; it almost has to coax the hot packed earth into letting it go. and then, if it does, and everything works, then the grass can breathe and grow back, maybe.

so we have this full dumpster out front; we rented it; we filled it with stuff we couldn’t sell or give away, and easily got our money’s worth by tomorrow when they will come and pick it up. it has a layer of what my wife calls happycrap, little plastic nothings. now your true mcdonalds happy crap is actually sellable, people collect it, but a family with young kids collects a lot of nothing, not even wanting it, whether we go to mcd’s or not. and this is the stuff we have to decide about, now that the final moments are coming. there’s a layer of quilting clothes, i never quite cut it up. there’s a layer of sand for illuminaria, and cat litter, and hard core useless furniture. and finally, the garage sale leftovers- it wouldn’t sell, it won’t give away. into the bin it goes. it’s hard, i consider pitching stuff both an admission that i had stuff we didn’t need, and, a freeing thing, letting go of the burden of unnecessary or pointless material things. the order, as i understand it, is that they haul off the entire bin tomorrow afternoon, but we don’t actually move into the moving van until saturday, which could mean that on that day, we will have yet more decisions to make, and more pitching to do. but, for now, i’ve pitched about all i can.

i continue to get nervous about life in a big city of over a couple hundred thousand, which i have never seen, where it doesn’t rain much, though there’s plenty of work and i have plenty to do. the high plains, the west, the llano, this will all be different, a big change for an old guy. so i watch the indians-tigers game on my phone, and to my great joy the indians have come from behind to beat the tigers for the second time, it makes it a race, it gives us something to live for. the white sox are in it too, it’s actually a three-way race, and the winner will ultimately face texas probably, or the yankees. but i’m watching baseball, passionately, as an escape, from stress, to get away. as i flip through the leaders in average, homeruns, pitching, etc., i realize i know none of these players. i go to none of the games. i never watch it on television. i’ve fallen out of it i guess, maybe because my life has been so busy, so full already. sports i turn to in times of travel and of stress, when i’m in some hotel room or i’m like now, between homes, between towns, between lives. and there they are, the indians, i don’t even know them, but they’re beating the tigers, and giving me some connection to the town of my birth.

gave away a computer today, to a guy who, to some degree, was living in the same region as i do, but living on entirely a different planet. he’d run up against a powerful man in the area and had paid for it, in his own words, by going to jail, losing his health and his marriage, his livelihood, etc. he took the computer and found lots of our work on it; he had taken some hard drives too that happened to be in a pile. but he brought this stuff back, saying only that if we didn’t want it to get out there we should just put it in the oven for an hour or so like a loaf of bread and that would cook it pretty good. it was an odd exchange, because here i’d just done some heavy lifting and hauling, drenched with sweat and woozy, and the rain is pattering on the sizzling hardscrabble dirt, and he’s talking a mile a minute about some string of events that makes you say, i’ll bet there’s another side to this story. but the thing is, we’re leaving town, we’re the perfect people to tell this stuff to. gives me grist for the mill, stuff to write about.

another couple, they keep coming round, jumping into the bin and digging around. now this will be harder, since it’s all wet and the cat litter is seeping down into it, but it wasn’t pleasant even before, when it was over a hundred out there in the sun and you had to climb over the hot iron edges of the bin to get into it. the guy described himself as an uneducated country kid from missouri who left home hitchhiking at about the age of twelve, ended up in this area, has been working all his life but out of work now, and losing his health too. at one point he almost collapsed; this could have been from hunger, or from the hundred and five temps. after i let them root through the bin they came back several times, each time jumping in the bin and rooting frantically around. today he pulled out an old saw, rusted but from the old era. i hadn’t wanted to throw it away but it didn’t travel well and actually didn’t cut well anymore either. most times, i’m grateful if anyone can use any of this stuff in any way, before it goes to the dump. in this case i just wonder: is he going to melt down the metal? and if so, get what, some change?

hard times, and, sorry to say, i’ve kind of gotten used to it. more later.