Friday, March 31, 2006

The Wren Is Calling

This morning it was green outside -- green from the rains we've had recently. The grass and the leaves of the trees and shrubs were glowing in the gentle light, and the air was still. Hidden somewhere in the canopy of an Ash tree overhead, a wren was singing. The day was just beginning.

It isn't morning, anymore. The day is done. And although it is still green outside, you couldn't tell if you stepped outside. The light is gone, but the air still is still, and somewhere in my head that wren is still singing, even though it is quiet outside.

That can mean only one thing: it is time to pry my fingers off this keyboard and join the others in this family who have long since gone to bed.

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 Thursday, March 30, 2006

I Forgot My Eggs

I forgot to eat my eggs.

I toasted the toast. I cracked the eggs onto a hot griddle. I made my lunch and threw in an apple and a banana and some nuts and crackers and some cheese. Then I packed a duffel back with running things and set it by the door. Then I checked the rain barrels and admired the tomato plants that we planted over the weekend. And then I raced Trudy out the door and drove to work -- without having eaten my eggs.


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 Tuesday, March 28, 2006

No Grackles, These

The sound of the cars on the boulevard receded into the distance. Somewhere not too far away, two people were playing tennis. Just beyond them, some children were laughing.

The ground was soft from the inches of rain that had fallen earlier in the day. A stillness had descended on the woods. The air was filled with the smell of pungent juniper. Somewhere in the branches overhead, a cardinal called.

I negotiated my steps carefully as I ran. The wet mud made the limestone rocks slippery, and I had fallen there once before on a dry day, so I had a healthy respect for the place, watching each foot as it planted.

Around a turn I heard the sound of a crackling grackle. It's a coughing/choking kind of sound (an appropriate call for a bird as obnoxious as it is), and it startled me.

As I lifted my head to look, something moved. Out from the undergrowth, two black-winged carrion birds bounded into the air. They seemed to block the light. Their wings spread many feet from tip to tip. And as they struggled to get airborne, wings flapping against the still air, the rushing of their feathers made a coughing/choking sound. They were no grackles, these.

Somewhere there in the thick of the woods, something had met its maker.

The cardinal held his song. I lowered my gaze to my feet again, and continued running the trail.

Riata Park
Austin, TX

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 Sunday, March 26, 2006

Talking About the Wind

I cannot think now about politics or poverty or melting ice sheets at the poles nor about water tables dropping or rivers drying up before they reach the sea. I cannot talk about earthquakes or mud slides, oil spills or mountaintop removal, war or evasive peace. There are, I imagine, things to think, things to say, but I find that I go there now.

I prefer to think about the wind outside the house tonite.

The still-leafless pecans creaked and swayed, as graveyard spirits might have appeared in a black-and-white movie you might have watched as a child. A signpost shook and its metal creaked as it shook back and forth, as in a full-color movie I remember. The new spring leaves of the oaks and elms and even the walnut tree on the side of our house rushed and rustled in the gusting wind.

The dog who was with me, or rather I with him, pulled on the leash and sniffed on one side of the sidewalk and then the other, oblivious to the creaking and swaying and blowing all about us, oblivious to the fact that there are those other things that I just cannot bring myself to think about. He was the better for that, and so, I suppose, would we be.

So let's just leave it at that.

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 Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Nitrous Oxide

From the neon-lit waiting room, they lead me down the hall to a waiting chair. This isn't the hall for flossing and polishing. Down this hallway are the shiny needles and the spinning drills...

Nitrous oxide? I don't care.

So the assistant swabs my gums and passes several hypodermic needles to the dentist. Then they begin.

The drill whines. I can hear it in my jaw. I can hear it thru my forehead. I can hear it thru my teeth. Then, zing!, the drill hits a nerve. I grunt. My head jerks.

Did that hurt? I nod.

There is some shuffling and more working of needles, then more drilling, and then more zings. This goes back and forth several times. In spite of what seems like a dozen gum-numbing shots, whenever the dentist starts drilling, she hits a live nerve.

Nitrous oxide? Ok.

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 Monday, March 20, 2006

The Mercy of Rain

God's mercy raced across Texas last night, with thunder and lightning and gusting winds ... and rain, oh merciful rain!

Rain to fill the rain barrels. Rain to water the new spring roses. Rain to soak deep into the ground and and quench the desperate tree roots. Trees that will shade us from the hellish sun in the months ahead.

God's mercy passed thru Texas last night, in a crashing torrent. And it extinguished the burning wrath he has inflicted upon us for some reason that I can't imagine.

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 Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wild Onions

By day I sit at my desk, face to face with two cathode ray tubes, fingers rattling on my keyboard, wrist flicking my mouse.

Now I sit in the grass, face to face with the curious dog, watching the wild onions lean and sway in the cool evening breeze.

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 Monday, March 13, 2006

Sol Café

We asked about this restaurant further down the hill and were not given encouraging reviews.

Oh no, not there, a woman said. Maybe for lunch, but not for dinner.

From the sneer on her face and her knowing glance at Trudy, we thought her advice might not suit our preferences. Frankly, the store didn't, either. There was far more space that there was merchandise, and the merchandise was century-old Native American artefacts sold with far too many digits next to the dollar signs. So we took it as no surprise that her taste in dining might miss our mark.

When we finally made it further up the hill and saw two restaurants next to each other, we each chose one to check out. I took the Sol Café, and Trudy took the fancy tablecloth-and-napkin place next door. (This may be an unfair description on my part. In the end, I never saw the place.) My heart sank as I approached the door, for the place seemed empty and the inside dark.

I pushed close enough to peer in thru the panes of glass on the door. It seemed dark, but lights were on. It was empty, but someone waved back from behind the counter on the other side of the room.

Are you open? I asked as I cracked open the door.

She said they were, so I went inside to look around and glance at the menu. Frankly, glance was all I did, because this was the sort of place I was hoping for, and I needed no more information. I turned to get Trudy, who was coming up the steps.

This is it, I said.

Good! she said. I don't think she otherwise reported on her reconnoiter, but then I didn't otherwise ask.

The place really was empty. We were the only ones there. So we chose a seat by the window in the corner in the back and put our aching feet up on the chairs (for this was the kind of place where you might do that, at least when it was as empty as this), and we studied the menus for quite some time. After we ordered, we gazed out the window and watched evening settle on Santa Fe.

It had been a cloudy day. From time to time a bit of blue had opened up, but it was mostly gray, the wind just stiff enough to make us wish we had dressed more warmly. So we sat behind the window, happy to be inside, and watched the clouds glide past the tops of the leafless trees.

There's not really much more to tell about that place. Our dinner came and it was good, but to tell you the truth I don't remember what I ordered. (A situation I find myself in more and more as the days wear on.) There's not too much more to say.

Except this.

As we were gazing out the window waiting for our food, a patch of sky opened up in the west. The setting sun broke thru, and its rays streamed across the treetops and onto the hills in the east.

The barren tips of the trees across the street turned orange. The hillside burst into golden-red. And a house on the hilltop burst into pinkish-golden-orange, its western walls and windows reflecting the light of the setting sun.

Most of the city was bathed in dusk, the storefronts and parking lots and adobe walls and chimneys, but the glowing treetops and the light on the distant hills made us stop.

Look, I said.

I see it, Trudy said.

The waitress on the other side of the room stopped what she was doing, walked to the window and stared, her jaw as open as ours.

I've never seen anything like that, she said.

Moments later is was gone.

dinner at Sol Café
Santa Fe, NM

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 Thursday, March 9, 2006

What Happened in Rows 3, 4 and 5

1. Finding Our Seats

We were numbers 3 and 4 to board Flight 1577. Third and fourth in line with the jostling, anxious-to-get-onboard crowd standing behind us. What a different feeling that was, accustomed as we are to waiting at best at the end of the A–line, which means hoping we'll find two seats together without sitting all the way at the back of the plane.

This time we were nearly foremost, which would have given us the pick of the seats were it not for the people who flew in from the previous city and were already staking their claims. Still, when we started down the aisle, there were many seats to choose from. We chose row 5.

Just as Trudy began to sit down, a man from the back of the plane came moving against the flow and asked to get past her. He was one of the passengers from the incoming flight and had evidently made a dash to the lavatory in the rear, and now he was returning to his seat in row 4, where his briefcase was sitting in a seat by the window, and his laptop was sitting opened in the middle.

Trudy stepped aside, and he slipped back into his seat. Then, with the jostling crowd getting anxious behind us, we slid into ours.

2. Calamity

As Trudy sat down and I began to slide my backpack under the seats in front of us, there was a crashing sound and a loud gasping sort of yell. A large blue suitcase had almost fallen on top of me. Were it not for the fact that I was bent over dealing with my pack, it might have clobbered me, but instead it fell into the seat in front.

The suitcase had been hurled up towards the overhead bin by a woman with her hands otherwise occupied with her matching blue cosmetic bag and purse and the cell phone she had been yakking into the whole time we waited in line. But she had not hurled hard enough, and the suitcase hadn't made it into the bin. With a crash, it slammed into the light console under the bins and came tumbling down, missing my head and landing directly on the laptop computer that was sitting (opened) in the seat in front of me.

Oh! Trudy gasped as she watched it happen.

Oh, I'm sorry, the woman said to the man in row 4, as she grabbed her fallen suitcase from on top of his computer, jostling it around while she slung the matching blue cosmetic bag off her shoulder into the seat she had chosen in row 3.

I'm so sorry, she repeated, as she whipped the suitcase up toward the bin again, just barely making it this time with the help of a man who was standing in the aisle and put his hand up to keep the thing from falling down again.

In the meantime, the man in row 4 was trying to get his laptop to respond, clicking on the return key to no avail.

Click, click. Nothing.
Click, click, click, a bit harder and a bit faster. Nothing.
Click, click, click. He poked the return key very hard. Nothing.

Trudy was looking at me waiting for a report, as I watched the drama unfolding in row 4. I turned to her to whisper a report, and when I looked back, he had rebooted it and was waiting for the Windows screen to come up.

But the Windows screen didn't come up, just blackness. There was more clicking of the return key, but nothing changed.

I turned to whisper another report, and then I looked back again, by which time he had rebooted once more, only this time there was a horrible high-pitched scraping, squealing sound coming from his laptop.

Oh, that's not good, I said to myself, realizing too late that I had said it out loud. I'm sure he heard me, but then I'm sure he agreed.

3. Trying To Reboot

He looked over his shoulder to the back of the plane, as if he were looking for a colleague to make sure they had another copy of the marketing presentation they were supposed to make the next morning. From the white look of horror on his face, I'm sure his situation was something like that.

Evidently he couldn't see his friend, so he returned to the computer and tried rebooting several more times. All the while, the woman who had brought down a different kind of blue screen of death upon his computer was sitting oblivious to this man's world crashing in around him. I made up my mind that if he didn't say anything to her, I would stop her after the flight just to let her know what kind of furies she had let loose into this man's life.

But as those thoughts whistled thru my head, I looked back at this very determined man who was rebooting for the sixth or seventh time. And now he had his computer up and running. In fact, he was now reviewing his slides, the horror of a non-bootable computer evidently behind him.

By the way, the woman with the blue coordinated suitcases never checked back with that man. For all she knows, his computer never came up again. ... No. She doesn't even know that much. She probably never saw it pinned under her suitcase in the first place.

I wonder how his presentation went.

boarding a Southwest 737
homeward bound for Austin, TX

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 Wednesday, March 8, 2006

A Moment Like That

Some of the time it was sunny and the skies were blue. Some of the time it was grey and the wind was blustery. But at night the stars came out.

There we were, in the hot water with the junipers and pines around us, staring up at the star-strewn sky. For an hour the water bubbled around us and our brains unwound and unwound. For an hour we sat there more relaxed by the minute gazing up thru the branches out into the night. And when the clouds closed in, the moon tried to chase them away.

After our hour was up, on our way back to our room at the foot of the hill, we grabbed a half-pint of ice cream, I hoping that it wouldn't be too rich, Trudy thinking she'd not eat much, which was fine with me.

Later, as we lay back on our pillows, weak with relaxment, we shared that half-pint (in unequal portions), and my eyes rolled back in my head, convinced that there would be no moment just like that again.

There probably won't.

a decadent visit to the Ten Thousand Waves spa
Santa Fe, NM

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 Tuesday, March 7, 2006

A Southwest Airlines Birthday

When she finished the discussion of emergency exits and inflatable life jackets, the flight attendant paused for a moment. Then she continued, with a different tone in her voice.

And this is a special day, she said.

I was looking down, so I didn't see if anyone looked up to listen to what she was about to say. Perhaps a few did, but you know how it is with the safety lecture on airplanes -- you pretty much continue with what you were doing while they drone on.

We have someone with us who is celebrating her birthday today.

I turned to look out the window.

Trudy is turning 40 today, she said.

Trudy, who was sitting next to me, yelped in surprise. Perhaps it was the public announcement of her exact age, which I had revealed. More likely it was being wished Happy Birthday in a plane full of people on the very day of it.

We were sitting near the front. I could see the flight attendant looking in our direction. I poked my head up above my seat and turned to the back and looked at all the faces looking to the front. I held my hand up and pointed down at the fair and industrious Trudy.

The cabin was full of applause. Trudy was smiling from ear to ear.

Her husband asked us to share that with you, the flight attendant added.

Trudy turned to me. I wasn't sure what to expect. She gave me a kiss.

On board a Southwest Airlines 737
Bound for Santa Fe

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Blue Flowers / Dark Skies

Are the blue flowers blooming? The ones that I saw at the end of last year? Are your blue flowers blooming in your front yard right now?

No, our blue flowers are not flowering, yet. The late winds of the winter came and blew the blue flowers away.

When will the bluebonnets be blooming -- the ones that stand in the sun in the front by the curb? Are they growing out of the ground right now?

Yes, perhaps we shall have a bluebonnet or two. And if the dark sky and rains come soon, as they tell me they might, perhaps I shall have time to show them to you.

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 Wednesday, March 1, 2006

I Wondered

I wondered once long ago, what it must have been like to live in an autocracy -- Europe under the Inquisition, Germany under Hitler, Iraq under Hussein.

How could it come to pass that the people would mostly remain silent? Why would so many go along for so long?

But today, I keep my mouth mostly shut except when I am in friendly company. And I mostly write about such things as the thin crescent moon, preferring the meager value of simple imagery to the risks (as I perceive them) of speaking any more loudly.

And I wonder no more.

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