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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

[adj] fallsome and harvestly

2011 Garden HarvestsWhen I was a kid, fall was my favorite season... the leaves especially. I liked the crisp way they had of scuttling downwards, how they could be collected, the heavy spice of the air, the colors and harvest and especially the piles of leaves that would blow along the grey concrete into piles against the curbs.

For a long time now, summer has been my favorite season... heat, mostly; light, secondly. The fact that I love to swim, but hate chemicals... that I love to hang out on porches or balconies, or fields, but hate bundling up... that my favorite meditation is gardening... that I love to backpack, but hate carrying so many things that my back aches... especially that I hate the darkness, and long for the sky, the sun.

But this season, I feel like I'm filling up to the brim with the oranges, my favorite color, and reds combined with yellows and greens and browns and dry spots and dark. And the light has been so spectacular against all those colors that sometimes I find myself gasping and laughing out loud out of the blue.

A few days ago, I went down to the river for a walk with the dogs. I've started taking my mom's dog, Jackson, a very complexly stupid dog who suddenly realized how much he loves walks and started escaping from the fence every time I took Herald somewhere... so now he gets to go along too. He keeps Herald honest, in that he is 50% more athletic despite being 150% older than Herald. Herald runs. Herald growls when he can't keep up. Herald pretends he resents the company, but I'm pretty sure he's secretly okay with it.

Anyhow, I realized I need to remind myself regularly to go to this river, because the terrain is so different from where I normally go. And amazing.

2011 Garden HarvestsI usually take my dogwalks near-abouts. There's a network of trails up behind my house, about 5 minutes driving up a dirt road, then a selection of trails ranging from 45 minutes to hours and hours. I usually go to these trails when I have a shortage of time, and so spend most of my time on the lower trails, the ones with scenic overlooks of the Skagit Valley as it stretches out shortly between the Chuckanut hills (where I live) and some hills I don't know the names of, which have the Cascades lining up in the background, Mt. Baker occasionally ghostly and whitely clear, more frequently with clouds swirling around it like the claws of a great bird.

More and more frequently, I cross the freeway and go to Squire Lake and Beaver Pond, which is a walk that times out to 1 hour, 30 minutes including the 7 minutes drive time there and back. Both the lake and pond are loaded with wildlife and the last time I went there with MH, she suggested we sit down near the water of the lower Squire Lake. Normally, I am whisking along with an agenda that includes getting home to comment on essays before I start to freak out... But that time I stopped with her, and we saw in a ten minute space of time: two different kinds of frogs, newts, wild ducks, and believe it or not, snakes slivering around in the water. I gasped when I saw the latter because I was not aware (after years of walking around these lakes) that there were any water snakes at Squire Lake. I didn't think WA had water snakes at all! I ended up asking a biologist friend what they were, and he suggested they were Columbian Terrestrial Garter Snakes, which he said were ironically the only garter snake that regularly goes into water in these parts.

2011 Garden HarvestsBeaver Pond, aside from having beavers I've never seen (only the results of their endeavors) is a breeding ground for frogs and toads, and thus attracts herons and geese as well. Herald has an especial fondness for frogs and rummages about the banks, leaning over the water intently and watching with hope in his eyes. Every now and then he is rewarded: a frog beeeeeps at him and then leaps for the sanctuary of the depths. Herald leaps in after. Much of the water is covered in a green mini-lilypad that then coats Herald's nose, head, ears, massive fat body and furry tail in a slimy greenery... at least until he shakes it all off on me.

I also tend to go to Lake Padden frequently: the backtrails are leashless, which preserves my back, and opens the day for strident marchings up and down the muddy trails. For a long time, this is where I usually went, but I feel I've used it up a bit, and so haven't gone as frequently as before. Although I just went yesterday with MH and she brought me a Sungold apple that I ate at the top of a hill, as we rumbled through the underbrush to find a nice log to lean against while I chomped what might have been the best apple I've ever eaten, sharing a piece or two with her dog Lucy and Herald.

Back to where I was: all of these three main walk-spots have similar terrain. While each has a different make-up, more or less frogs and underbrush, more or less scenic viewing spots, more or less muddy spots to flounder in, they are all similar in their collection of foliage: pines mostly, but cedar, maples, alders, salmonberries, huckleberries, stumps, etc. And the soil is also alike, plus the amount of water, the types of birds and animals that might be found.

2011 Garden HarvestsThe river, on the other hand, is quite different. The soil is silty, a different color, cloying even in places closer to the running water. I think there has been a significant restoration project in process because the banks are incredibly diverse in the trees they have, and most of them seem younger than twenty years old. There are more rose bushes, thistles, burs, blackberries, willows, pussywillows, and snowberries. The roses are obviously not in bloom at this time of the year, but they are covered in lovely orangey hips (I used to eat the dried winter rose hips in the Andalusian Mountains when I was working on a farm there... so in need of vitamins that I would fill my cheeks and chew on them all day while working with the animals and buildings. So I tried to eat them here, and discovered that either they are not dry enough, or they are the wrong kind, or maybe I am utterly without taste buds in when living at remote village farms.) And I saw this lovely strange bird... I have no idea what it was, but its tail and underbelly were entirely orange, and it otherwise looked a bit like a large dove.

Anyhow, Herald loves the river because he gets to swim in a thousand different swimholes, and Jackson loves it because he can run far ahead and the trail is so straight that he can still keep an eye on his herd (us). And I love it because of the variety of trees and the way the light hits if you walk there in the afternoon... everything is lit up through from left to right on the way north, and right to left on the way south.

2011 Garden HarvestsAlso, the river is right along the Lummi reservation - the west side being reservation, and this time of the year is, I guess, fishing season. I've never actually seen the Lummi's do their driftnets, although I have seen them setting their gillnets off the shore along the coast. But the drift nets are entirely different.

I passed a place where I could see that on the opposite shore was a boat launch and campground where several tents seemed to be set up and a number of trucks were lined up. About five boats were tied along the shore, and from what I could tell, the fishermen alternate who gets to go up the river and fish, sending one boat up every half-hour or so to get started. Basically what they do is put in a net held up by bobbers, stretch it across the center of the river, leaving about 10-15 feet on either side (no doubt to avoid snags), and let the net simply drift down the river. I felt like it must be fairly easy for the fish to avoid, but I did watch one boat pulling in the net close to the encampment, and noted that though they had a number of sticks, they also had one decent-sized fish that must've either been a king or a silver gauging from its shape and size (I was about 15 yards away, so didn't get a good gander).

But between the drift-netters, the light, the trees, the happy dogs, and the general solitude of the place, I was awfully happy.


It is, however, good to get in a little socializing... Sometimes I worry that I'm becoming a hermit and will lose the ability to speak altogether. Teaching probably makes that a ridiculous worry, since I daily interact with between 23 and 46 students, prancing and dancing in front of the class trying to entertain their minds into being tricked into learning. But, truthfully, I wouldn't say that this feels like real human interaction, so much as having friends and attending events and doing fun dancing things does.

(Anne-wife! I missed the funky music you recommended. How did I do that?)

2011 Garden HarvestsSo: two social things that have been fun. One is that one of my students who I really liked last quarter - smart, passionate, (liberal), hard-working, Spanish-speaking, and rather nice looking as well, I must admit - has contacted me and lent me a book. Not only that but she came into my office, chatted with me about the Occupied! events going on, and then told me she really loved my class and was recommending it to her friends. A compliment goes a long way as a teacher, I must admit. Mostly I feel like I'm floundering, so it's good to hear something nice from time to time. It also turns out this student has the same birthday as me, which we both found hilarious because I think we both sensed that we have the capacity to be friends... and it was a strange sensation in class. Now, I think I have a new friend.

In case you're wondering: no, I have no plans to date a student. I do need friends, however, after having decided to back away from most of the ones I thought I have in Bville, with the realization that they're more acquaintances than friends, and I'd only be getting more disappointment if I tried to go for more than that. I'm just one of those people who needs intense, focused one-on-one friendship, or alternately, friendly acquaintanceship, but not the stuff that happens in between. I'm just an all or nothing kind of gal, I guess.

So, a compliment and a book loan. A good start.

2011 Garden HarvestsAnd... yesterday I met up with my good friend Ehben, who lives here and there and whereever, and sometimes in between. He's one of my favorite people around these parts but I don't get to see him too often. But we had recently talked on the phone, where I found out he's around these parts again... so we agreed to get together and makes cider. Which we did. In addition, I invited another friend from Seattle to join, Dan, and we all collected apples and showed up at Ehben's.

Ehben and his brother, Trent, own a house and property up north, and share it with Trent's girlfriend. It historically has been one of the biggest shityards I've seen in my day, with a bathroom so grungy it made mine look like The Fountain of Youth. I actually refused to use their bathroom for a number of years, and instead went outside under the trees. But I haven't visited this veritable medieval dung-sty in about three or four years, and going back: it is looking awesome!

They've tidied everything up, and though they still have about twenty vehicles, they are all orderly in a row, and so is their wood, their outbuildings, their greenhouse, the animal pastures, and so forth. They have one of the best gardens I've seen in my life, and three goats (I fucking love goats), three sheep, two ducks, a bunch of chickens, a threshing machine, and so forth. The counters in their kitchen were covered with green and yellow tomatoes, and indian and blue corn hung from their rafters. Corners upstairs were filled with squash and green pumpkins, five different types of potatoes set out to dry, and bags of hops and tomatios, beans of all types, a five-foot hazelnut barrel, rye and barley. It is, in other words, a fully functional farm at this point in time. And it is clearly not a shithole any longer.

So, we pressed cider... I've got too much of it and have to decide what to do with the stuff I don't have room to freeze. If someone invited me to a party... Well, anyhow. I might take it down to Seattle next weekend.

But it was sooooo good to spend time with Ehben especially, and Dan too. Ehben though is just one of those people I feel fully comfortable to be around, like I can be myself. And like I love 100% of what he says, of who he is. He doesn't irritate me, and that's a relief to know... that there are people I love who don't make me absolutely irritable.

2011 Garden HarvestsSpeaking of which, I probably need to go down to Seattle soon and smooth things over with N. Um, yes. Again.

I kind of pissed her off second hand... her bitch of an ex-girlfriend has a nonfiction piece coming out in a prestigious review that is ostensibly about her experience with N. It has the description of 'borderline' in the title or subtitle or something like that, and N is feeling horribly betrayed and furious and vulnerable and revealed and all sorts of things... It doesn't help that she should have known it was coming, that I could have told her that her ex- was precisely the type to ditch and then fully capitalize on the situation without even a brief pause to consider the ethical ramifications of outing a traumatized woman in a mutually-shared forum of academia and literature.

For all her faults, at least the worst EC did as a writer was give an injured toddler my name in a fiction piece. And she is the only writer I've had the bad fortune to date (hypocritical, I know). Heh.

But while I knew Marian was the type to dramatize her own position while not behaving like a loving, kind person to the one who was actually sick... I still feel a little used myself. I did, after all, talk with Marian with the assumption that what we were doing was our best to help N, out of love and concern, and not as fodder for future writing about a topic that was deeply personal. I mean, I know that writers must talk about their experience in some way, or go crazy, but there are forms of expression, and then there are also forms of betrayal. Having experimented with that border first hand in the past, I know it's a fine line... but Marian is knee-deep on the other side of it.

2011 Garden HarvestsBut anyhow, I muffed up and defended Marian's right to artistically process her experience, after saying 'of course, it sucks horribly' but to ignore it. My main thought was to just re-direct NM from the pain, but I guess my job was just to say, "That is seriously fucked up!"

Anyhow, NM was pissed and took a few jabs herself, which makes me wonder if I'll ever be willing to ask for change from a friend again... if all it gets me is snippets of criticisms, jabs, and targeted tear-downs. But I'm going to instead take a deep breath and try to say the right thing next time, and to ignore the barbs. Not like there was anything surprising there. I already know how ridiculous and pointless my own psychoses are.


Speaking of which, I've been planning my Costa Rica trip. I wake up planning my Costa Rica trip, would be a better way of putting it. I changed my mind about taking a language refresher course (when I saw that the classes took place in a classroom and nearly had a panic attack), and instead decided to take a diving (PADI) course and actually send in my certification this time.

2011 Garden HarvestsWhen I started looking at where to go, and how to get there, I started to feel very overwhelmed and upset... the realization that I will be alone hit this time in a different direction... and worried about whether I will run out of money, about whether I can find good places to stay during the high season, of whether I'm too fat to wear a swimsuit without traumatizing the dolphins and turtles, who might take me for some strange new breed of jellyfish and flee into the far reaches... of whether I'm too out-of-shape to take a dive course (I'm signing up at the Y tomorrow and starting to do laps, and lift weights), of whether my back will give out (it was in sheer misery yesterday), and whether my dog will hate me when I get back, for having abandoned him for nearly three weeks.

Then I calmed down and started daydreaming again.

2011 Garden Harvests
2011 Garden Harvests
2011 Garden Harvests
2011 Garden Harvests
Time to go to work! Oh, and all the pics are of this year's harvest... but I missed photographing the chard lentil soup, the sauerkraut, and the pesto. But they are here too in spirit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The other day I woke up laughing from my sleep. If there are three things I love best about sleep, one is waking up laughing. Like, first there is the thing that is happening, then there is the sweetness of the thing that is happening, then there is the laugh, the way through the darkness, the sudden transition to body, the heaving of chest, the light through the window, the dog stirring next to you, the sudden awareness of structure, of underneathness, of light through the window, of your body returning, the joyness of being, the headboard, the pillow, the twisted tangle of sleepingbag as it emerges twisting from the duvet, the day descending, the laugh finishing, the realization of being alive again and laughing.

In this case, I was laughing because in the apocalypse dream with spirits and corridors twining with spirits that came in the night, a group of us were sitting under a greenhouse decrepit tree, looking out at the view of concrete. I noticed a duck, and then noticed that it was tethered to a truck. Poor duck, I thought, to be tethered to a truck in the middle of an apocalypse parking lot. What is it doing there? I watched it, being duckish, waddling you know, and lipping up lint with its wide-brimmed beak. I started getting angry on behalf of the duck, in the heat, upon the hot concrete of the parking lot, connected via red rope to a damned old truck.

Then the duck started pulling the truck, cleverly maneuvering it through the other vehicles, plucking along, no mind.

That's when I started laughing, and woke up laughing. It felt so damned good. I have no idea why a duck pulling a truck caused this, but it did.

Friday, October 14, 2011

the perfect man

I went to dinner with my dad this week (after he bought me a sweeeeet hiking backpack for my birthday).

During dinner, I forgot how the conversation got there, he said "If I have one flaw, one great flaw you could say.... it's that I cannot abide tyranny."

As is frequently the way between me and my father, I nearly shot pho out of my nostrils when he said this.

I replied, "Oh, Dad, you have a great many great flaws, I could point them out if you wish, but it sounds like you're actually bragging about that one."

He smiled sheepishly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

that catch in the voice that means happiness

So, I had something of a realization the other day after talking to SP for the first time in a couple months. She sounds happy, like in a simple kind of away. When I asked her what she was doing, she listed three things... two of which are just those dreams she's wanted for a long time, and the third was the job to make it possible to maintain. It didn't sound so complicated, this catch, that sound. And it actually made me happy...

I think too often I've been consumed with what's fair or not fair. I've had some smug people push events and love in my face in rather nasty ways, and over the years I've developed a habit of resentment. Looking back always. Angrily.

[There's not much else to do in Bville]

But I felt happy for SP, then, and I realized that I felt like in a small way, I was partially responsible for that happy sound. As round about as it is: if I hadn't acknowledged that I wasn't going to be able to make SP happy like that, she wouldn't have moved forward. And so she released something that wasn't going to work, that both of us knew wasn't going to work, and went out and pursued with relentless abandon the very thing she knew would make her happy. Release, move forward.

It's not the same thing that would make me happy. Obviously, or our story would be different.

But it is what makes her happy, and I have to admit I suddenly started feeling respect for her speedy and dedicated search for what she wants. Something doesn't work, go find something that does. Don't stop, and whine, and contemplate, and brood, and process. Just go. And yeah, I left the phone call feeling happy for her [although not yet ready to talk about her new girlfriend (I gave myself two weeks)].

On the way home from work that night, I asked myself: what would it take to make me sound that way, with that sound in my voice? What simple changes would work?

The answer was surprising to me. It didn't involve a relationship. I think that if I found a person I was interested in, I would go for it. But I've been too focused on dating for a long time, and really all the ladies just drive me absolutely crazy. Often I don't even like them. They sure as shit don't make me feel the way SP sounds. And so maybe it's not surprising that romance wasn't the first thing that occurred to me.

The first answer is a little embarrassing: to be a non-drinker. The second answer is hardly surprising considering how important it is to me to inhabit the body. The third answer had to do with finding pleasure in creating again. Fuzzy pleasure. Warm bunny pleasure. Like, this is the only thing I want to do when it is raining outside pleasure. The fourth answer had to do with finding people to watch, buildings to examine, a place that is stimulating with a whole variety of different types of people for me to study and admire. And the fifth answer was that I wanted to learn something new.

All of the answers are alone, and by myself, and okay.

So I booked myself a ticket to Costa Rica for December.

And I'm after it, that sound.