n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

der homehausen


This place has become an inundation. Ever since I came home around the 18th of December, not a day has passed without rain. I suppose I deserve it; down in Ecuador, my summer residence, it didn’t rain except at night. Sometimes there was that light mist sprinkle when I was out on the coast mucking around barefoot on the coasts and wondering if I would ever be back to that particular sand in this particular lifetime. In Chicago, on the other hand, it does not rain frequently either, and when it does, it follows burst of storm, lightening, thunder, elements of dramatic uprisings.

Here, no. Here it simply rains. Not quite a drizzle, too vehement for that, but not ferocious and thunder. Outside, the sky turns a perpetual grey, and blue becomes one of those ephemeralities you think must have existed but you can’t quite convince yourself. For Christmas, my mother received a rain chain, not unlike the chain gang; however, this particular linkage makes light the task of moving water more slowly from gutter to copper pot, where a floating bronze fish peers out. Drop by drop, you watch things move around here, and the leaves are coated but saturated, the ground uncoated and thoroughly soggy with mud.

When this happens, I start feeling a little dreary with the blues, and remember things, brood a little, wonder what it is I’m doing here, not here with the rain, but here in my life, what it is I might offer.

To cheer myself up, I sit at home and drill holes in my mother’s cabinets, a task appointed me in order to add cabinet handlebars to my mother’s new kitchen shelves. And yes, it is fun. Measuring the spaces, marking with pencil, holding the drill firmly with pressure and backing each hole with a board to prevent the exit-burst, and then screwing in each handlebar with satisfaction at my clear achievement.

However, I got to feel a particularly evil five minutes. Because the screws weren’t long enough to go through the drawers, my mother had to go to the hardware store and find some a little longer. During this time, I thought I’d go ahead and get a head start and thus drilled all the necessary holes into the drawers. Unfortunately for me, when she got back, the handlebar I pulled out was one inch too short for the (twenty) holes I had drilled. A very evil five minutes of my life. However, I had just pulled out the wrong handlebar. So, really, drilling is an effective way of spending my bluesy time.

Remember when you went away from home for the first time years ago, and when you came back to visit the family, you had to spend the first X amount of time convincing your family (and realizing yourself) that you are a different person, more of a grown up? Coming home to Bville (or Alger where my mum’s new house is) is a bit like that in extremis, only I’m not quite sure what I’m proving or to whom I’m proving it. All I know is that I was barely alive last time I lived here. I was miserable and misery is as misery does. I think, when I come back, that I’m trying to prove I don’t care.

As my friend startled me with her advice last night: maybe my task right now is not to sort through my past.

To explain my love for this place however, let me point to the burn-bathtub that sits atop the algae greenery lump-pond in my parent’s backyard. Pictures from the backyard, which is about five acres, and a pleasant sort of place to put on rubber boots and a raincoat and a woolen hat and tromp around thinking green thoughts. There are tools lying everywhere, rakes and shoves, pile-pullers, tractors; tools on pebbles and sometimes I expand just thinking about them.

This land is green, you have to admit. The above pictures, replete with moss, strawberry vines, trailing flowers, succulents and nice rocks, is what I miss the third most about the Northwest, next to my family and the ocean. While I love Chicago, these little piles of greenery are not to be found as you cross the ice-encrusted streets on your way to the El. Looking up within the hand-sculpted metal-snake caverns, you are likely to see radiating stalactites, but you probably won’t see the plants overflowing the cornices and semi-hibernating in a temporary wait for the new season’s eruption.

Love you, Chicago, but you need more of this in amongst the marble architectural fetes of greatness.

These folks here are the ones I come back to. cr, my mother’s boyfriend, who wears these grubbers outside, and listens to jazz. Within the pink house, the old one, he works on Alcad and cusses out Verizon for having forced him to buy a satellite hookup for his computer. His job: to build little culvert add-ons to successfully shuttle our Pacific Northwest salmon to their little beading beds. But most of the time, he putzes around, builds my mother houses, moves rocks, walks around the property with his buddies, saws things, and rants about the dreadful state of the political, corporate, and social world.

In fact, the night before last, I was forced to turn off March of the Penguins because it “represented all that was evil in the world,” was “worse than video games,” was “only watched by people who drive SUVs,” and so forth to the point that I threw a little temper tantrum and said I didn’t want to watch some editorialized nature show that was certainly no worse than any of the nature shows I grew up on. True, Morgan Freeman’s voice was a little melodramatic, but really.

Fortunately for us all, cr is also an ardent and interesting conversationalist, loves The Leningrad Cowboys with a frightening passion, treats my mother very well, and always has the most screwball books imaginable to recommend to me.

My mother, literally on the other side of affairs, came into my room with a glass of brandy after the Penguin Showdown and asked why I slammed the door.

“I didn’t slam the door.”
“Oh yes you did.”
“Well, I didn’t mean to. I just don’t want to listen to that. My sister recommended the film and she doesn’t drive an SUV. In fact, her car gets over 40 miles to the gallon. So why should I have to watch a film while he’s trashing it?”
“Ah yes, he does that sometimes.”
“We watched Dodgeball last night and he adored it.”
“Who knows why he hates the things he does.”

True, true. My mother in the picture above is carting, you may or may not note, a bunch of beer bottles from hither to thither, and she buys them constantly and does not seem to mind too much, although sometimes she gets that “I’m a little disappointed” tone in her voice due to the expediency with which we empty out the mini-bar. I have to admit that since the New Year’s onset, I’ve gone without alcohol for a grand Single Day. But if you had a bar fully stocked with rum, coke, beer, wine, gin, tonic, and so forth… and you were working on Thriving in a spot where you had wasted a whole year feeling sad… wouldn’t you be tempted to become a lush?

Maybe not.

Nevertheless, my mother is a mensch, and not only provides the beer, carts it to the recycling and such, but also gives me tasks like drilling holes in her cabinets to keep me busy. Whenever I am feeling particularly empty, she reminds me via example of all that is like a subaltern-rivered well. The type that begins buying Christmas presents so early that she has to distribute them evenly across the land, then forgets about most of them, and starts finding them with greatest surprise three days after Christmas (so far I’ve had the post gift of gloves and a mini book-light). And although I’m twenty-nine years old, she still brings me lemonade and advil in the middle of the night when I am feverish and sad over old things that should fade away lightly.

Being and all that we have lots of trees, and my mother is a sucker for feeding anything that might want to come around, we get visited by woodpeckers. But that’s not it: blue jays of course, chickadees, red warblers, hummingbirds, sparrows, and everything else. If all goes well in the spring, the barn swallows will come back to nest in the breezeway, and their little gaping-mawed chicks will make screee-screee rasps that cr will converse with every time he goes outside.

In the meantime: woodpeckers love suet blocks, as the above picture minus bird will attest. Look at all that is missing. In particular, we have a little female Hairy Woodpecker coming around this year, in direct contrast to the male version that kept me company and inspired melodious raptures during the drizzling months of last year. This little one climbs on her suet block, intimidating all the smaller flitterers, and then spins and spins around while pecking out seeds that are held together by… yes, you guessed it… congealed vegetable lard.

Watching them makes me happy, and so I spy on them daily from one of the many large windows in the new joint. Oh, and by the way, I must mention that the birdfeeder is amongst my favorite of constructions around the place, put together as it is from white plastic pipes glued together, and not the twigging branches of our great and tangled foliage.

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale skull. Nurse tree. Enough said.


This whale skull was one of the most exciting presents of my childhood. An old fellow named Joe, who I guess was courting my mother up in Alaska and who always answered the question of “how are you doing?” with “getting younger every day,” had this beaked whale skull at his home. I admired it all two times I visited his little beach shack. Noticing how much I loved and examined it, Joe offered to give me the skull and help me go through with all the paperwork necessary for me to own it properly. (He was part Alaskan native, I was not). And so, that’s what we did.

In celebration of my acquisition, I decided to do a report on the skull for my 6th-grade science project. I read and wrote, wrote and read, and then decided that for full effect, the skull needed to come with me to class on that report day. Which mean that I carried that skull the ½-mile to my bus stop in the pitch dark, onto the bus (getting wedged temporarily on the stairs) and back to my seat. I then carried it through the hallways to class, and all I remember from then on was thinking: shit, this head is half as long as I am. Since I did not hit my growth spurt (which went four inches a year, for two years, in order for me to hit my 5’10’’ status) until seventh grade, I was quite right.

That Cuvier’s Beaked Whale skull is half the size I was in sixth grade, and every time I see it, as imbued with moss as it currently is, all I think about is carting it up an icy road and onto a bus. See, even then I was stubborn and nerdy both.

Within our backyard: little shoots and drownings and upspring. A nursery of seedlings, a neighbor that created a drainage system that empties all its contents on my mum and cr’s property. Solutions made, futures grown.
In a recent conversation with some friends, it was overwhelmingly decided that it is almost always best to BE yourself which naturaly includes being TRUE to ones self.
Very rarely,if ever,(except in instances of role playing or fantasy)does it benefit one to be anything less. In summary,perhaps you should tell your dad your thoughts and feelings regarding this issue (or ask him to read your blog).
unfortunately, we are never One, or at least I'm not. Which makes finding the true to yourself a little harder.
Fair enough. Life is movement,changing us, changing circumstances and people around us.
I suppose to be true to your self is to be true to who and what you are at that particular moment.
Love this blog, you are so smart and funny!!!
-Anonymousito, being "true" is an interesting topic. one of my favorite new activities to take some of our societal sayings like "to thy own self..." and look them over for the variety of meanings they might generate, their conflicts, the ways they undermine themselves. for instance, what if being "true" to my self involves being a butthead? what if i am several selves at once? what if i said something to someone, promised them something, and meant it truely in that moment, but truely don't believe it anymore; thus being "true" to myself and my changes means not being true to someone else? etc. etc. Fun stuff.

-Shara Lee, thanks. cough, thanks. i'll try to live up to it. by the way, you have some great pictures on your blog, i'll try to comment.
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