jumpingfish
 Thursday, May 31, 2007

He Knew My Words

He knew when I said, "Hiawatha," of what I spoke, to what I alluded. And perhaps to him a face appeared, or a voice, or perhaps an image of a place just beyond the still waters where darkness settles at the feet of Hemlock trees even on a sunny day.

He knew, and he said, "Forward, you Hiawatha of the Texas plains," perhaps as great a compliment one in our family could pay to another.


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 Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Listen to the Wind

She felt like Pocahontas when they listened to the wind.

I feel like Hiawatha as I paddle by the shore. Pale limestone cliffs looming over the swiftly moving water. A hawk crying as it lands on a Cedar bough jutting out from the rock. Wood Ducklings scurrying in the dark shadows under an overhanging Cypress tree.


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 Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hot Flashes

During the day, especially in the afternoon when the sun beats down on this side of the house, my ears periodically catch fire and then my arms, and then I break out in a glistening sweat and have to wipe my brow and upper lip. I find myself turning up the floor fan or turning down the air conditioner. Then it goes away, and I resume what I was doing.

During the night, it happens, too. I lie on my side of the bed as detached as I possibly can be from anything else, in preparation for the flashes that come and go. When they come, my arms heat up and then my head and then my legs, and I throw off the sheet and lie spread-eagle under the ceiling fan. Then they go away, and I turn over and sleep.

I stood outside this morning under calm grey skies and turned to look south-east. A cool morning breeze blew past the Crepe Myrtle and Texas Persimmon and came between the Oaks and Ash trees to stroke my face. The air was fresh. The yard was glowing gentle green.

I stood there for a few moments, breathing in the air and gazing at the springtime about me and wished that I might summon that breeze when the hot flashes return.


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 Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tell Them I Love You

We left the dock in three kayaks with the dog foremost in one -- or rather foremost sometimes and in Trudy's lap most of the time. We left the dock and paddled out into the current.

It was late afternoon. The sun was shining in a partly cloudy sky. A wind was blowing up river as it often seems to do. We crossed to the other side, turned out backs to the cliffs upstream, and headed with the current into the breeze.

Along the southern shore, under spreading branches of ancient Cypress trees, under bridges with traffic and joggers running overhead, around the island at the base of the railroad trestle, past the mouth of Barton Springs where the water grows shallow, we worked our way toward Auditorium Shores.

You could hear the music from a distance, then the performers, then the cheering crowd. From the water we couldn't see the stage well, but we could hear the music along with the other kayaks and canoes and boats around us.

The acts were short: after two songs or three the next artist would come on stage. But the songs made us rock as we paddled out into the middle of the river and turned to look back, joining our three kayaks together. Someone new had just come on, and she told the audience to look at each other and say, I love you.

I love you, David. I love you Ben. I love you, Guinness, Trudy said.

I love you, Trudy, I said. I love you, Ben. I love you Guinness.

I love you Trudy. I love you Guinness, Ben said. I love you, too, dad.

Guinness wagged his tail.

The breeze had died down. The sun was beginning a clouded descent into pink. It was time to leave the music behind.

---
Listening to the Road to Austin concert from Town Lake
Austin, Texas


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 Friday, May 18, 2007

Where We Are Right Now

I kind of like where we are right now.

The big crumbling chunk of black Kentucky coal sitting by the Texas Persimmon tree. The tall-standing sunflowers beginning to bloom just as the Primrose undergrowth fades. The Monterey Oak dashing for sky with the smaller Lacey Oak beside. I kind of like this place.

There are better places, I'm sure, and better ways to tend them. The Prairie Lace in the back looks lonely and forlorn, and that Hackberry sprout needs to be pulled up again. The corner behind the compose piles is forever neglected, and the Desert Willow triumphs in what otherwise is a disaster zone. There are better places, I'm sure.

But I still kind of like this place, and I'm glad I'm here with you right now.


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 Thursday, May 17, 2007

After the Scan

I had just finished emitting gamma rays at a detector that had been scanning me for 45 minutes. He had just finished whatever he came for, too. He was old and in an electric wheelchair, so I stood aside while his daughter opened the inner and then the outer doors of the waiting room.

The sun was shining brightly, and so we had to squint as we made our way across the parking lot. His wheelchair was moving slowly, so I passed him quickly but then slowed down, noticing his shoes.

Mighty shiny shoes you got there, I said.

What? he asked, looking up at me with a startled look on his face and a beige hearing aid in his ear.

Nice shoes! I said, pointing to his feet.

He smiled. Military! Ex-military! And then he thrust out his hand and introduced himself. Johnson! he said.

David Hasan, I said, shaking his hand.

Good to meet you! People aren't usually so friendly around here, he said.

I chuckled and put my hand on his shoulder. Good to meet you.


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Bone Scan

I showed up for a bone scan at 7:45am. When tech came into the room, she had a cylindrical canister in her hand. It held the syringe and needle -- the isotope, she called it.

Will I glow in the dark? I asked as she looked for a vein.

My face was expressionless since it was so early in the day, and I was worried she might not get the joke.

Probably, she said, with an equally expressionless look on hers.


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 Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We Got a Lot of Rain

The wind picked up late last night. And then the rain came, falling in big cold drops that made my teeth clatter when I ran outside. In the darkness with periodic flashes of lightning, that must have been some sight: a shivering man in his underwear throwing a cover over his grill as the rain came down and the tree branches shook.

The winds were gone by daybreak. The sky was blue. The sun was bright. The grass was taller and greener than yesterday. And the basil and oregano. And the ground was soft underfoot.

We got a lot of rain. No need to water the tomato today.


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Gathering My Energy

She answers the phone when I call her with a stillness in her voice, a steady calm that's unusual for her.

You don't feel good, I say.

I'm worried about you, she says.

Fair enough. I've got cancer again, and that is something to worry about. But she needs to know this. I've been thru this before, and it hasn't got me petrified, and it hasn't sunk me into despair.

I suspect that what she sees in me and what she worries about is my sombre face and my sometimes quiet voice. What she doesn't see, what she doesn't know because we haven't (yet) talked about it is that this is like the last two weeks before a marathon. My mind and my energy and my concentration are elsewhere, making me seem detached or sad or scared.

I am detached, but I am not sad, and I am not scared. I am gathering my energy.


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 Monday, May 14, 2007

It's Too Early in the Morning

It's too early in the morning to be lying here awake like this. As tired as I've been the last few days, rising late, napping in the afternoon, going to bed early, it would sure be nice to be asleep right now.

I've spent most of the night lying on top of the covers under the welcome moving air of the ceiling fan. My hot flashes come and go with sufficient frequency that I never get cold, and when I get hot, if I'm covered up I break out into a sweat. Maybe that's what woke me up.

It's pitch black outside. On the highway a half-mile away in the distance once in a while you can hear the sound of a car speeding into town. On the street outside, someone just pulled out of their driveway and began their commute to work. Maybe it's the guy who works for EMS, although that puttering car didn't sound like his.

It's too early to be up and writing this. I should be in the bedroom asleep, but here I am instead. I'm going to regret this later today.


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 Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I Recognize This Road

The doctor wasted no time. As soon as we were seated, he got to the point.

The biopsy indicates cancer.

The biopsy indicated prostate cancer. I've heard words like those before, and their grip this time is incomplete. Incomplete because I recognize this road.

I recognize this road, and I have some idea how to travel it.


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 Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Starting Low and Going High

I sat there in the open doorway with the dog on my lap, looking out into the night and the flashing lightning and rolling thunder and rain streaming off the roof, out there where just hours ago a family of Wrens chattered in the Oak tree, hiding behind clumps of ball moss. But now the Wrens were surely gone.

The thunder crashed as the lightning flashed, and the dog gave some thought to dashing out into the night to challenge it, but I caught him as he leapt and thrust him back into my lap.

Behind us, the boy played his trombone, chromatic scales and arpeggios, starting low and going high. Each time his notes climbed, the dog gave up his thunder quest and began to sing along with the boy, nose pointed to where the just-full moon must be, starting low and going high.


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