Friday, February 21, 2014

i generally make a point to write as little about my children as i can, since their story is theirs, and it's imposed on them, it's not even their choice who is bringing them up, or whether anyone can write about it. and this is even more true (if that's possible) for foster children or those who may come to us by the grace of g-d or the texas child protective services. but i'll break that general rule tonight as i know lots of relatives (who are probably my only readers anymore) are curious about what might happen in the near future.

it's true, there might be two more; they would be girls, and would be 8 & 5 which would make the oldest about half a year younger than our youngest now. they would be #9 and #10 in our family; they would live in the southeast room that has a nice morning light, and looks out over the neighborhood upstairs; the boys have already split the master bedroom and are holed up in their warrens in the bottom floor back. they would arrive as soon as the system would make it possible and that would be soon. we hear a lot about them, but haven't met them yet.

they are right now living in a foster home in lubbock, and that family cannot keep them permanently. they have siblings that have all found permanent homes, but they haven't. they would like to stay together. we will make sure they do.

we would then have four children left at home, two boys, two girls, with one boy & one girl virtually the same age. i am getting used to the idea. it will change things considerably. it is general consensus that it might be too much for us to handle; everyone would agree with this except maybe my wife and the social worker, but i have decided that it's better to try and go forward with it, and do it at all costs, than to live with the consequences of squelching it, or preventing it. i can handle it, though it may make life a little more full. things will be busy and crowded around here. i say, bring it on! somebody needs to be there for the young & homeless, the not-spoken-for. in this case, it will be me.

Monday, February 17, 2014

full moon tonight, somewhat hazy, but the internet is down, so i'm writing this on word to be put up later, maybe, as things get back to normal. have no idea what's going on, but the walk was peaceful - a warm night here, a few people out sitting in the park, a few people running or walking like me, no coats necessary.
sometimes i judge by how many ambulances and helicopters i hear, and by that standard, it was also peaceful, because there was maybe only one or two of each. we're in the helicopter district, and west texas has a million people, so it's an unusual night when there isn't a helicopter, but i still jump when i hear them, because they fly so low and circle around as if they're checking out whoever is walking through the park. no, it's just because the hospital is right across the way. and the same goes for the ambulances. if they are going to the hospital, i hear them. if it's police sirens, now they might stay out in the neighborhoods, and never come near me.
i up and printed my haiku and my novel; i was taking a breath on the novel, so when i looked at the haiku i was surprised to find: 850 of them altogether, after crossing out a half-dozen repetitive ones; at least a dozen in every state now, though d.c. still has only eleven; one for every season in every state, except for maybe a half dozen. in other words, it's pretty close to the point where, when i publish it, i'll feel like it's a complete volume, and can really get out and push it. and i like being done with it to that degree. i find that its unfinishedness  has kept me from really pedalling it, out there, to some degree. i'd like to have a reading, for example, but just can't bring myself to get out there with a book that, as i look at it, has these gaps. but with this printing, i see more like 850; it's getting better. there are fewer gaps. better, still, it feels like a tapestry, like i can continue writing into it, improving it, adding color and life. it's a little weak on the natural world; recently i've been doing a series on the amazing monarch butterflies, which are endangered by the way; i realize that even noticing them, to some degree, and knowing their migration pattern, dates the poems. folks didn't know about the milkweed and the long treks from mexico to ohio and indiana, back when i was doing my traveling. sure, they were just as magical, just as beautiful in the sun. and they are a sign of the season; it's just that i didn't know it when i was traveling.
so, one of the central dilemmas of this haiku book is that i learned most of my stuff in the 1970's. a better way of putting it is, i picked up my love of geography and hung onto it. the book highlights the unique parts of each state, and tries to catch unique parts of people's attitudes and capture a bit of life in that state. all from a traveler's point of view, of course. i had to let go of a few things though, first being slavish conformity to the 1970's experience. i had to widen it to get every season in every state. more about this later; i'll try to write a bit about it on my poetry blog.
as for the novel, still plenty of slogging to go. major changes afoot, to make it more complete, in harmony with itself, internally accurate. i'll need readers too; contact me; this will happen in about a month. on the one hand, i'm really proud to finally have a document, in my hand, that feels like a novel. on the other, i'm really worried, that there's so much in it that doesn't make sense to itself, when it's matched up page by page. something has to be done about it. and there goes my week, pretty much.
one boy wants to walk to school; the other already rides a bike. my wife will walk as it gets nicer, and i always walk; it's getting to the point where i might be able to go whole days without driving. this would be my goal. my night walk is about three miles, but any extra walking i get in during the day, that much better. what i'd really like is to get back in the pool; it's been too cold even to walk over there. but what i'm thinking, is more of an outdoorsish life style. already i play more ping pong with the boys, outside. i'll grow a garden, out there also. i just figure, with all this fresh air, blue sky, wind, i'ma get some of it. it may dry my skin, but it seems good for now; keeps me alive, gives me stuff to look forward to. spring here is an odd combination of extreme dryness, wind, dust, occasional rain or humidity, even a bit of cold and snow once in a while. not that i know what it's like, sometimes you just have to get out and experience it. More later.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Saturday, February 08, 2014

i think i'm going to write a story about black ice, but i haven't quite got the story line yet, and don't really know if i'm right with the facts either. wikipedia admits that black ice is any ice you can't see, and even admits that the term is used widely, used at sea for deadly ice that can kill people in a boat, etc. so there's no sense getting proprietary about the language itself, what do i know? but i have this memory of people in minnesota telling me, or maybe it was chicago, that black ice is a certain kind of ice, only happens when it's really cold, like ten or twenty below. so then, if you hear people down here in texas talking about it, and using the term for anything you can't see, you know they're overusing the term.

as far as ice that you can't see, that can start right around the freezing point, and yes, texas has plenty of that. today i went out to water, as we've had a sudden spell of about fifty degree weather and you can actually see how dry it is, and the hose was frozen, and i almost broke the hose, the pressure made it leak. so on the road these little droplets of water freeze, down in the cracks of the asphalt, and you can't see it and this can be very dangerous. but it seems to me that in minnesota, what they were saying was that at ten or twenty below, the asphalt itself starts to freeze, and that's a whole different level of danger, a different kind of ice. and they said it was particularly deadly on the interstate on a morning commute, say you're going seventy or something.

now the idea that the most dangerous thing in the world is a kind of ice that you can't see, is a pretty powerful metaphor for life itself, very useful in a story, but like i say, i haven't worked out those details yet. and don't know if i want to work on that minnesota vs. texas angle in any case, i'll keep you posted. i've been working on the novel a lot these days, and i'm kind of at a break with the haiku, i have about 850 now, maybe only about 820 publishable because i'm becoming less tolerant of repeaters, etc. the haiku has been moving along at a pretty good clip but there are certain places - kentucky, new hampshire, hawaii, d.c., that kind of defy my easy creative juices, i'm just kind of stuck. in the novel there are dozens of unresolved issues, if you're an author, you owe it to the reader to tie up loose ends, don't put stuff in there if there isn't a reason. i'm new to the novel business, haven't quite got the hang of it yet. you'll be the first to know, the day i finish.

went out to the jam on thursday night, but it was cold night, maybe ten or twenty, not too bad, but cold by texas standards. almost nobody was there, but one guy who was there, let his dog out to pee, and the dog took off and didn't come back. it was a friendly dog too, it had let me pet him, but it somehow didn't feel the need to stick around, that, or because it had to find some actual grass to pee in, just kept running and not finding any. drove around a little looking for it, fruitlessly. heard a story later, the following day, about a dog getting hit on one of our main streets, which is called indiana. this particular street, you often have lines of cars, three abreast, at about forty. this was a bad situation for the dog, apparently.

the city is a vast grid of blocks that keep stretching out onto the texas plain to the south and to the west, and to the southwest, until now it goes all the way out to 118th street and west two or three alphabets, which would be from avenue a to avenue x & avenue z which is actually university, then from akron avenue through flint where we live, and all the way out to utica and wayne, where the dog was lost, and then slide, and then beyond slide avenue it starts again and you have streets like chicago, milwaukee and out that way. there are hundreds of blocks and these people's dogs just get loose and tear around the city. we occasionally see loose dogs down by the parks where people bring their dog to romp, they think it will obey, then it doesn't. and off it goes. this is what happened to my friend. somebody could have picked it up, he said. he was hoping it wouldn't freeze to death. its name was 'friday' - good name, i told him, almost nobody has an argument with friday, the general concept is pretty agreeable. but the dog was gone, and our calls went unheeded.

it's late afternoon here, a gentle sun coming through the windows, and a break from the bitter cold spell that has gripped the area for about a week. maybe the hose will thaw, and i'll water, but most likely, we'll go to a chinese new year celebration and have some chinese food. it's year of the horse and i'm a horse, i have no idea what that means, except that apparently it's lucky, and our friends will invite us, which is lucky already. my feeling is, and i take my younger son on a lot of this stuff, if a kid wants to get out there, and see the world, that's what i'm here for. the older son has taken to minecraft and staying in, he doesn't care for the social whirl, and we indulge him, because he does ok in school and actually has some friends. also, because my wife is the same way, given the choice, she won't go out. life is tough enough, she's tired, she'd rather stay in and rest.

the image of the dog getting hit on indiana remains lodged in my brain, but hey, it's life in the city, this city is twice the size it used to be, and probably that's happening a lot. people have a lot less control of their dogs than they think they do, and then, on the drivers' side, sometimes things happen and you just can't do much about it. another family, here in lubbock, swerved to avoid a dog, and ended up in a fatal wreck that killed grownups and left kids on this earth without parents. you try not to let this stuff happen, but then, sometimes you wonder, the best way to avoid it is just to stay home on a weekend.

late at night, on my walk, which i love, cold weather or warm, i'm there, generally, and there are a lot of helicopters above, this being the kind of hospital neighborhood where the medivacs take off and land, and have to fly relatively low in order to maneuver around to the direction they want. we also hear a lot of ambulances, especially late at night, they seem to come from all directions sometimes and i can see them down the long streets, as the sound has already made it pretty clear where they are and where they're going. down about three streets is indiana, and they like that one, it's wide and people can pull over and let them go by. i'm from a much smaller town so after a while it seems incredibly busy to me, like the million people in this area are just having crisis after crisis, and i guess that's true in a kind of general way. but it also makes me grateful to finish, come home, crawl into a warm bed, see another day. to think, i used to spend whole seasons standing at the side of interstates, hoping someone would stop.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

year of the horse

i've gotten lazy about posting photos up here, sorry, they'll be coming, but i've been working on the novel a little and also considering a blatantly commercial site that would take some of my time & do more to promote my writing, music, etc. this one is very personal & i hope to keep it that way, but nobody said i have to post every day & in fact it's fallen off a little in the modern era as i have so much other stuff to write. i love it though and want to keep it exactly as it is.

chinese new year came and went, inasmuch as i'm turning 60 this year, i'm a horse, and it's my lucky year, starting yesterday. i'm not sure what this entails i remain lucky the entire year? is it a good year to, say, make my family larger, or go on a big trip? how exactly should i plan for this year? my friend is a horse, and she's chinese, so i tried to get her to tell me exactly what that meant. that we're strong? (i heard that once in korea, but it could have meant any kind of thing, including stubborn)...that i'm spirited? (that's a better adjective for what a horse represents, if you're lucky)...reminds me of a horse they once gave me when i was out riding with a 1-year-old. the horse had been on the same mountain trail (in colorado) a million times. they taught me how to steer him right and left, stop and go, but he refused to obey any of my commands, and kept doing whatever he wanted. his name was "domino"...finally my young son got in the act of yelling at him and kept saying, "vong vay, dummino!" he never let us fall; he was a tolerant horse. he just refused to do whatever we told him.

big music-playing weekend as i went to the jam hole on thursday and the old club on friday. thursday's session was lively though small and included lots of songs that were new to me. one guy who is a kind of host presented a song he has been working on for a long time, but, unfortunately, it's one of my least favorite songs of all time, being from a pop era, and just being a song whose tune i dislike. that's the breaks though. the problem is we'll probably hear the song for about a month now, until he comes up with a better one. another problem is that he's really one of the better guitar players around. if he had good tunes, it would be a lot more fun. what to do? not much i can say here, only that, you finish, and i'll play mine.

then at the old club it was all bluegrass. i loved every tune. by the end of the night i had this huge smile and i knew it was because there was so much music, and i loved it all. there was one toward the end where this one fiddler wanted us to play 'mountain dew' which was actually not my favorite of bluegrass songs, and we did, we played it, he led it. he was kind of a lousy fiddler, made me look good, on account of he was out of tune, and didn't know really a g flat from a plain g. tried to play old joe clark with a plain g, and didn't recognize his own mistake, now that's my definition of guy who's going to make me look good out there. but nevertheless i tried to make room for him and let him have the lead a lot.

there was another couple there, after a while i noticed, every song they picked was gospel. now gospel is about a quarter of all bluegrass anyway, we don't think much of it when someone calls a gospel song, they're as good as any. and they're definitely in the mainstream of the genre, in other words, they're pure bluegrass, they're not setting you off in some musical direction you don't want to go. so every time the songs come around, we're getting two gospel, because they keep calling gospel. this is why, maybe, the old guy called 'mountain dew'...he figures, if you keep pushing that stuff at me, you're going to drive me to drink hard likker.

then there's this guy, he's a kind of leader, excellent on guitar and banjo, has all good music and knows the words of the songs. his favorite song is called 'carolina,' but he gets into these jags where every darn song he calls is dixie this or dixie that. now i thought, for a while, that he was doing it to drive me nuts, because i'm a yankee fiddler and i don't know half those songs. don't know any of them, truth be told. but i set about learning them, because i figured, once again, you're going to need 'em, if that's what folks want to hear. and now i've gotten so i know a few of them, and it seems he's friendlier to me too, i kind of like that.

songs i call, i have to have other people sing, because i still don't trust my own voice, and i can't sing and play the fiddle at the same time, and don't want to put down the fiddle. but to do that, i have to make sure someone can sing it, otherwise it's a bust. and i'm wondering, maybe i should just put that fiddle down and have a go at singing, or go back and forth, i'm not sure how to deal with it.

toward the end though this one bass player comes in and they were all waiting for her to call hers, but they were in the process of running us out of there. so quick she says, 'crossroad', it's an old gospel song, but she does it in b, and that drives us fiddlers crazy because b is such a hard key for a song like that. it was late and i wasn't on my best, i'd already been fiddling away all night. but it was still the high point of the evening. my favorite song. i'm a put all these on my music site if only because i want to learn them, in b or whatever, and be more ready next time.

so it goes & i'll just tell one more story, sorry about dumping on these poor folks at my music circle, i'm just letting off steam & hope they don't recognize themselves. i love them all, in fact, the mere fact they show up, and tolerate me, in any form, is a genuine miracle & i should be grateful. but here's one last horse story. my daughter was in high school and the time came for the iowa games, but she couldn't take her own horse because of money or whatever. so at the games, which were in ames, she took one of the stable's horses, a very old fellow who was unruffled by whatever you threw at him. and sure enough, ames in august is like, 103 degrees and then drenching thunderstorm, and then 104, with 99% humidity. and all the horses were dying out there, but this old fellow, he just went around the track calm as could be, and when she said jump, he jumped. she won a silver medal that day, and would have won the gold, but in fact he just couldn't get excited about the last jumping part, and wasn't as graceful looking as he could have been. i considered it lucky though, to see her up on that platform.

year of the horse. now her daughter is up there on the horse.