Sunday, August 10, 2014

stickers and dog poop

a storm is passing over, but it's not really dropping anything yet; it's kind of hanging over the town, rumbling with its thunder, but not a drop from the sky yet. yesterday and the day before, it rained but only for a second; each drop hit with a psst and evaporated into steam immediately.

but the effects of the cloud cover are considerable anyway. it's ten degrees cooler if a big honkin' cloud will simply cover the sun for a while, and these clouds are enormous. they seem to be many-dimensional, and one can just imagine that being a pilot around here must be some interesting gig, going up through these things that are just so huge, colorful, snd constantly moving. nobody bothers guessing if and when they'll spit though; it's a kind of random geography, rather than a situation where you can actually say that some people are more likely to get it than others. it's all so flat that for us, it's a pure gamble every time.

when i go walking late at night, stickers and dog poop are my main enemies. i do three miles, around the park five times, barefoot, on the edge of where the little gravel path is around the park. but this edge gets its share of stickers and dog poop. the stickers are tiny little burrs that poke so hard they stick right in your foot and make it impossible to take another step. they are small and not to be mistaken for goat's heads which are larger, sharper, and less common. you can't see those stickers coming but after a while you know the dry spots where they have a lot of them; constant watering and thick grass tends to get rid of them. so i alter my path a little to avoid them. but the dog poop, it's squishy and disgusting, and i fail to see it every once in a while, and, much as i wipe my foot afterward, it seems to have a way of finding the spots on my foot that don't wipe easily. it's disgusting. and, it's totally opposite of stickers, in the way it's disgusting.

when i was a young guy, i did anything i had to to be independent, and pick up a few bucks to spend on beans and whatever to keep it all going. after i dropped out of school i worked in a restaurant, and a bakery, and as a newspaper bundle-dropper, house painter, and as a school-bus driver, and as a janitor at a mall. i was good and sick of the dead-end street that having no education offered me, so eventually i decided to go back to school. but even then, i got accepted into a school, and got started, and what did i find, i still had a couple of years to go where i was basically at the lowest level, uneducated, and had to do those low-level jobs a few years past the point where i'd decided they were pointless. i even considered becoming a carpenter at one point, because i figured if i was going to be outside working with my hands, i might as well move up and get a decent salary for it. but no matter what, i was at the mercy of the economy. there were jobs for unskilled people, and, as a white guy, i was as likely to get them as anyone. but times are different now, everybody has to figure out what they can do and get to work doing it.

i'd go about collecting tools as if i could ever become a truly independent, country landholder with a small plot of whatever, corn, being as i was in iowa, but when i finally got my chance, way out in the country there, i didn't have the money to license my car legally, and i couldn't even take care of the muscovy ducks that somebody had left on the property. they were characters, somewhat mean and opinionated, but i liked them, and would have kept them on if i had any brains. or cooked them. but instead i'd spend days in town, or i'd try to find work, and when i found work it was on the railroad way in the other direction, and i'd come home exhausted, barely able to cook. the ducks wandered off, got hit by cars on the gravel roads where people would fly by at about ninety. how was i supposed to prevent that? maybe clip their wings, or keep them better fed, i never quite knew. same thing happened later when i was given some goats. what do you do with goats? try to get milk out of them, i guess. but i was lacking skills and tools, i didn't have a chance. the country was nice, especially at night, lots of stars out there, and people watched out for each other. but people could see by the overgrown weeds that i wasn't going to make it.

the other day i was walking across nineteenth street, which i do four times a day, and the sun was beating down and making a huge glare on the road which makes visibility bad and increases the danger. lots of folks stop for a little too long at the light and stare vacantly as this old-timer hobbles across nine lanes taking my good old time. people do occasionally miss the light or come barreling at you but in general, it's too much time for them standing around, and running doesn't help. this day though i saw a screwdriver in the road, sun glancing off its rusty shank. shamelessly i picked it up and put it in my swim bag, right in front of everybody. it felt a bit like a weapon, but it's not; it reminded me for a moment of a shiv, a homemade blade, that i found one time on a gary on-ramp in the winter. over the years i collected a lot of tools, and many of them walked away, one time some workers who were working on our house must have picked up a few, maybe there was a drug issue there. the old ones, already run over, beat up a little, they're less likely to go. so i have an affinity for them right away, even if they have that day-glo color, common these last twenty years, possibility of being made abroad i'm sure. anyway, coming back across nineteenth, after my swim, i found the phillips-head; those, as it turns out, are even more useful than the plain ones, easier to misplace. this one also was a day-glo color, and found right near where the other one was, surely they were partners, and i'm surprised i didn't see it the first time. probably was under some poor guy's tires, but that's no place for a screwdriver.

but, driving out on the levelland road, got a small rock hit my windshield and make a hole; it was sudden and sharp, and i knew right away i was in for it. i'll have to take it into the shop, fork over a few hundred, etcetera, but fortunately it's not like the old days, when i'd simply live with it indefinitely, as an unfixable nuisance. i have one tool now, and that's a paycheck, so, i'll support those windshield-repair folks i suppose, and then i'll be on my way. the wide open texas plain stretches out for miles in every direction, that's why they call it levelland i suppose, the sun beats down, relentless, and the wind occasionally picks up whatever's not heavily seeded and watered down. then this rain, which is probably a teaser like all the others, either it'll come or it won't, but either way, i'll water if i have to, or just hold onto what i can get. it's been a good year for cherry toms (see below), not to mention sweet jalapenos, green bell peppers, second-generation sunflowers, and a kind of wild squash-gourd that was a volunteer and really went to town. where i'm from, any squash in its second year was doomed, because the bugs had already found it. here, it's too sunny for bugs, unless they're the below-ground variety. they just can't make it on no water for as long as they have to, here. unlike us, they don't have air-conditioning.


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