Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What I Did With My Weekend . . .

Today tastes like raw chocolate-covered garlic. With bean sprouts. Crunchy, but ultimately disappointing and harsh.

Sheesh. It should have been a good weekend--Friday off work, a trip up to Aspendell in Greer, prepare the place for the semiannual Christmas party. Two of the tasks: Check the heating systems in the large and small cabin. No more arriving two days early in order to get the temp inside up above freezing! No more carrying water in 20 gallon jugs for drinking and washing dishes!! No more HOISTING 20 gallon jugs to flush the toilets twice a day whether they need it or not!!! Just flip a switch and start the fire for atmosphere. Ahhhh . . .

But no. Friday around lunch, my cell phone rang. My boss Hopalong was on the line, frantic. Where the hell was I?

Uhm . . . about four hours out of the city. Why?

Why didn't I TELL him I was gonna be gone?

But I did. Like two weeks ago, I told him I'd be out today. In fact, two weeks ago LAST MONDAY.

Nope, never happened. We'll talk about this Monday morning. Click.

Well, shit. I know I spoke to him, and my other two bosses (Atticus and Boo) and I could swear I talked to the other folks in the office because one of our buddies who was along to help prep the cabin had left his car in our parking lot. This should be no big deal--we're not big enough to be fussy about a car taking up a space, and he'd be taking up the same space my car would, so no problem, right?

So now, I'm concerned about the crucial conversation Hopalong and I are going to have come Monday, and I'm worried that no one else remembers my saying Shadowstalker is going to borrow my space for the weekend and thus, they'll have his car towed. So when he gets back to town on Sunday, he'll have no ride waiting for him, and no way to get to work Monday, and WTF???

Ick. Ick ick ick. Good thing there were plenty of seasoned rounds waiting outside to be split. I should take a photo of Hopalong some day, print out wallet-sized copies, and bring them to Aspendell for when I need a little more incentive to get out the axe and get going.

But it was lovely up in Greer, albeit somewhat breezy. The people we were for sure expecting all showed up in good time, and we got everything on the list done except for sharpening the kitchen knives. (Maybe an 8.5 x 11 headshot of Hopalong? Perhaps a picture of his shoulderblades?)

Then some folks we weren't expecting showed up. Gareth's cousin once removed and her husband showed up late Friday night. This isn't a bad thing, necessarily--they're easy to get along with, and hard workers to boot. The husband immediately set to work re-finishing the decks, and when we left on Sunday, he was replacing the downstairs toilet.

But I know a few of you will understand exactly what I mean when I say that it was just too many people. Neither Gareth nor I could unwind at all in the cabin.

So I took a walk.

This shrine is the place where we scattered Howard and David's ashes, and I understand there's a few other people memorialized here. I love this stump with its fan of roots around the saint. I think it's a perfect blend of pagan and Christian; an excellent marker for this family.

Sunday morning was uneventful; we were all leaving early save for Gareth's cousin and her family. And I'm glad they had some cabin time for themselves, since we had all of Friday. However, it has now become very clear that we need to shift the responsibility for the cabin calendar out of Most Excellent's hands; this is not the first time she's double-booked the cabin. It's a problem only because we call and check to see if there'll be company up there before making plans. It's a bit awkward to arrive and find others there, or be walked in on when you weren't expecting people.

So Sunday morning, we paked up and went off down through Whiteriver as we often do. It shaves about half an hour off the trip and doesn't send us through Phoenix and all the traffic to get to our home. Besides, the Salt River Canyon is really pretty as you wind your way down and down then back up and up.

And then it happened. 20 miles north of Globe, the engine revs went through the ceiling-vreeeeEEEEEE! Like when you have it in neutral and unthinkingly step on the gas. Except the truck was in gear. Uh-oh.

Took it out of gear, put it back in gear, step on the gas. VrrrrreeeeeeEEEEEEEE! Crap. At least we're headed downhill, let's milk this for a few more miles. So we coasted down the hill tapping the brakes, watching for a place to pull off the road before we start back up the hill on the way to Globe.

We were lucky, we found a pull-out that we could safely get to on the northbound side of the road, out of traffic. We were able to put the truck on a lovely level patch of utterly clear caliche to make life simpler for the tow truck driver. We had all our AAA info with us, no problem. Gareth's cell had just been pulled off the charger before we left the cabin, so he had power to spare.

Except we had no signal. None at all. Poot. Well, we're young and healthy, and it isn't summer, so we're not likely to die of dehydration before we can either walk 20 miles or get a ride. Off we go. (Yes, I could have claimed to be the frailer sex, and sat in the truck to wait for Gareth, but frankly, if it took him more then twenty minutes he would have returned to a bloody and frantic quivering heap of worry. Much simpler to walk and be there for whatever happened than to wait and imagine.)

So down the road we went, checking about every half-mile for signal, and high-fiving each other at every mile marker. Might as well celebrate, right? A little more than two miles along, a guy pulls off the road and asks if we'd like a ride to Globe.

Yes, please! we reply, and hop in. He explains he was visiting his brother on the San Carlos Rez, just east of Globe, and he lives up on the White Mountain Rez, which is up by Show Low. He was heading home, he saw us walking and thought we were taking pictures, but then he saw our truck. That's an awful long walk to take pictures, he thought, and turned around to see if we needed a hand. He told us the other week, he was making this drive and came across a fella walking with two kids, one 8 and one 12. The fella'd had two flat tires--one on the car AND the spare, so he'd given the guy a lift to get the spare fixed in Globe.

So once we'd been dropped off in Globe, we had signal, so we called AAA. We were thinking about getting a rental so we could take our stuff home, but the company we were connected to wasn't in the mood to try harder, despite their advertising. We were offered a car at the Phoenix airport. Gareth has more patience than I; he politely explained that if we could get to the airport, we would be able to get to our other car, and hence, would not need their services. The representative tried again, and offered us a car in Mesa. Gareth explained that this location was still about 120 miles from our current location. We needed someplace in Globe. Where we were. When she came back from putting him on hold for another fifteen minutes, he explained gently that we'd figure something else out, thank you, buh-bye.

This left us with some mighty unappealing options. We could call a friend to come and get us--120 miles out of town, one-way. We could call Gareth's mother and never hear the end of it. We could spend at least one night in Globe and call our respective employers to explain we were stuck and would be in as soon as possible, given that the truck was being worked on. Ewwww.

So we called one of the folks who had been with us on the trip and explained what was going on. We set up a provisional meeting place--the one McDonald's in Globe, which was just down the road from where the tow truck was supposed to be meeting us. Hey, it was gonna take her at least an hour and a half to get to Globe, might as well have a place to meet established. If she arrived and we weren't there, she was to call us. If we didn't answer, assume we were with the tow and would call as soon as we had signal to let her know where to go. Otherwise, we'd call when we returned with the truck and guide her to us.

Well, we got back to town with the truck before she arrived. We called, and sent her directions to the saloon nearest the Ford dealership because that was the nearest place where we could sit and wait. The dealership closes at 1:00 on Sundays; it was now almost 2:00.

So we went to have a beer. If the blue laws say we may, then who are we to argue? It was like being a kid again and tagging along to the pool halls with my father and grandfather. Check it out:

A pressed tin ceiling wayyyy up there, pool tables on the floor, and paintings of nekkid and semi-nekkid ladies on the walls. Too much fun. Established in 1902 and the only real changes have been the additions of two television sets.

So Mischief came and fetched us home again, and now we're dealing with the aftermath. Calling the towing company to get our keys over to the garage so they can get into the truck to fix the problem, and then next weekend we'll be back on the road for three hours fetching the truck back home from Globe (siiiiiigh). I have a blanket bee on Saturday that I've been anticipating since February, so that's not negotiable. That means Sunday will be eaten getting up and fetching the truck, so Saturday night's party will either be a quick show up, walk around once, then go home and to bed--or a no-go entirely.

After this weekend, I'm thinking the latter.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Blogiversary--Three Years and Counting

Today tastes like roasted garlic on crusty bread, like milk chocolate covered raspberry jelly sticks, like Pigma Micron pens, pencils, and heavy luscious watercolor paper. Like things that are simply meant to come together, like auspicious confluences.

Three years. 250 posts. Awareness of the moment. All together now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Passionfruit Fall

Today tastes of chile verde, pork, fresh pumpkin, and woodsmoke. We're back to the wonderful paradisical sheerly amazing weather we get in fall and spring. Both seasons are bittersweet--spring because you know that the valley will soon become Ye Anvil of Ghod, fall because the light is fading and dying.

Enjoy it while you can.

Soon enough you'll be getting up in the dark, working under fluorescent lights that make everyone look half-dead, and going home in the dark with only the memories of summer to hold on to until fickle spring returns once more.

So seize the now to take pictures of pretty FO's during the magic hours, because so very very soon you won't see the sun again for days at a time.

I never before really appreciated/apprehended just how hard it is to get good pictures of lace. You can get the colors and the general shape of the piece and some of its surround pretty well--

. . . or you can get a great shot of its structure. I love the light on the shawl, this one ray peeking through the vegetation to linger on the lace, caress its cheek before receeding into the west with its fellows.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nothing of Substance

Today tastes like goat cheese and honey, like strawberry-flavored cotton candy, like verjus. Subtle and fleeting, here and gone.

And gone.

It's a delightful relief from the grandma's sawdust meatloaf and mashed potatoes you could use for caulking; from the food you could live on for weeks. Like a loaf of Tolkien's lembas bread (how many did you eat, Pip?); like the Challenge Sundae at the ice cream parlor where if you can eat the whole thing, you don't have to pay for it.

Perhaps this is the amuse-bouche post, the spoonful of sherbet to cleanse your mental palate and give you renewed appitite for the heavy mentation that is coming after Samhain this year.

I'm not breaking my routines for Hallowthankmas this year. None of 'em. I'm laying plans for goals I want to meet next year, and I intend to hit them running at the break of the new year, not pick my bloated psyche up off the couch and start shuffling off to the closet to stare mournfully into the depths and try to remember what my goal-meeting clothes look like.

But right now, there's not much to share. So here:

And gone.

And gone.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I Had a Dream

Today tastes like marigolds, poppies, and tears. Green, bitter, salty. October is going to be especially long this year. I think perhaps I should make that crown of marigolds, and wear it with black ribbons in my hair.

Last night I dreamed about my honored dead, family and friends alike.

In the first series, my family was holding a reunion. And that, boys and girls, should tell you right off that this was a dream, since my family doing the big reunification group grope is as likely as jumping off a cliff and having your parachute turn into a scoop of strawberry ice cream. With jimmies.

But no, there we were--grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. From both mother's and father's sides of the family. We were in an enormous house in the high desert mountains--I get the impression it was Taos or Santa Fe. Wood floors, rugs on the walls, lots of exposed beams and windows, so we had light, light, light everywhere.

It was good seeing my grandmothers again. We talked about needlework-- knitting, crochet, embroidery. The grandfather I knew told stories of his time in the war, and compared it to the PBS documentary mini-series. The grandfather who died before I was born (so he was in black and white, grainy and a little off-focus) told about watching the southwest grow, what he'd seen of the towns. I told him about Phoenix, and showed him pictures on my cell phone.

And this time I kept my big mouth shut and didn't commit the faux pas of announcing, "But you're dead!" The first time I dreamed of a dead friend, I dreamed we were riding our bicycles down to the university campus, as we did often during the summers in middle school. Twenty miles as the bike path rides will take a lot of pre-teen starch out of you, and the long lazy warm summer days were just right to fit the trip in between dawn and dusk.

We wove in and out of the tunnels that surround many of the buildings on the main campus, laughing in the lengthening dusk. She turned back to look at me, hands off the handlebars, mouth open and laughing, and then I said it. The unforgivable words.

Her face fell, and she melted away. The dream ended. I woke up missing her all over again.

But not last night. I woke up feeling as though I had visted one last time as an adult with those who had moved on before. I'm the next to last of my generation in the family, born to the youngest daughter on my mother's side, born to the middle child (who was the issue of a second, later marriage) on my father's side. The youngest of the grandchildren is my younger brother.

So most of what I knew of my grandparents were the older, frailer people whose health was beginning to splinter. We did things together, but they were quieter things, not games of tag or ball. And most of my memories are those of a child relating to adults, not as an adult relating to elders. I have a handful of recollections of talking with my father's mother as one needlewoman to another, like pressed pansies--faded and brittle. I handle them carefully, scarcely breathing.

The second dream was of fallen friends. I saw them as I often do, at a science fiction convention, which was taking place at a hotel that doesn't exist any more. This time, we were hanging out on the grass of the hotel near the pool, swilling various concoctions of alcohol potent enough to light ablaze, but sweet enough to cover the taste. Until you stand up, that is. Then you dishcover that shomeone shtole your kneesh while you were shitting--I mean, SITTING there. Minding your own bushinesh. Shomebody shtop him!!! Thief! Thief!!

Larry Lard, and Ozymandius, and Roderick the Sly . . . the whole crew. Capitan Benito Gato dropped in, and said he couldn't stay long, but he wanted to say hello. Which is interesting. Cap'n Gato is not well, I know. I may see him at Dead Man's Party in a couple of weeks--and I may not.

I woke up thinking of a story I've been meaning to write for years, now.

I think perhaps I shouldn't put it off any longer.