“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


everyday sunday. summer, day 8. throwing out the past.

i wasn't going to post a word today, but suddenly i looked up from the book i was reading and today was turning into this evening, and the sun was striping the grass across the street, and sometimes that's all it takes.  the humidity fogs my lenses, though today we've had no rain.  the sun is falling out there to my left; i climbed katie's stairs halfway up to peep through the pear and cherry laurel trees. the birds are singing and i hear what i think are grasshoppers.  the cicadas will be along any moment.


i am six months behind on my new year's cleaning - in truth, three years and six months, so much not done since my mother's death - and it took a small bit of flooding the house to push me. on thursday evening, i stood close to the finish line, the air outside soft, unusually cool for this time of year, and full of cicadas and honeysuckle.  earlier i'd thrown two pieces of pottery into the creek, hard, breaking the ties of old friendships, the sound of endings the same as green apple cores tossed into the same creek, muffled, delicious.  i read old calendars, the ones i once used as diaries, all the pages past march always left empty, and i threw out the words no longer needed.

friday afternoon, two days into another four day weekend, and the floors were scattered with tools and old photographs.  outside, come-and-go rain came and went with a vengeance but no lightning - gray skies and green green green landscapes.  i hauled stuff to the jeep and let it rain on both me and the stuff.  the trashcan is piled to the tippy top. anything still good enough to be used, stuff i can't use at the business, i piled on the curb - baskets and fake easter eggs, a dish shaped like a crescent moon, a treasure chest once filled with christmas goodies - it was all gone within minutes.

sex and the city was on the television, sound on, the perfect background music; an old favorite song. i took breaks and plopped on the couch, watching here and there - during commercials i would read; i am two books into tuscany and its sunshine.  a break from italy, and i'd go through old files, tossing insurance forms for cars i haven't owned in twenty years, keeping almost nothing. i have new white file folders, replacing the old blue ones, which are now bound for the business to replace the old old red and yellow ones.

and then thunder.  a sleeping cat.  carrie moved to paris with the russian and frances mayes built an outdoor oven for her new mountain house.  the cat stayed sleeping and i read.


sunday.  sunshine this morning, though i didn't trust it.  i was out and about yesterday and it rained from blue skies and i needed sunglasses.  but today it fooled me and shone in every window all day. i have been slapping mosquitoes and catching up on laundry; breakfast was lasagne with cherries for dessert.  we don't have dessert with breakfast enough, if at all, and we should.

supper tonight will be a grapefruit, cold from the refrigerator, sugar sprinkled, serenaded by the now here cicadas.  life grows simple when i toss out the leftovers.



summer. day 4. yesterday with trucks and rain.

imagine no picture.  

imagine hot and humid, blue sky, white clouds.
that was how it started.
summer, day 4.

imagine that the ever-wonderful michael is just that, and that a drive is involved.  a short one to another county.  he'll ask if you want to go with him - he has to help out a friend, pick up a truck for that friend, who lives elsewhere and bought it on an online auction - and you'll say sure, how else you gonna get it back here?  and he'll tell you it probably won't start and if it starts, it probably won't go, that he just really needs to see, that he'll probably head back tomorrow with a trailer, but hey, worth a try, si?  and off you will go.  you will go slowly through the town where you once received a speeding ticket, even though you're not the one driving, and in fact you'll do that through all four of the little towns you must pass through before you get to your destination.  you'll pass the sign pointing to opelika both going and coming.

when you get there, you'll call kandi, who will tell you the truck is at the jail, which makes you laugh, but off to the jail you'll go, the jail where your uncle was once sheriff, although first the ever-wonderful will stop to buy two cans of fix-a-flat (he obviously knows more about the truck than you do) and a gasoline siphon hose.  he already has a new battery in the bed of his truck, and five gallons of gas.  (he obviously knows much more about the truck than you do.)

at the jail, another woman will take you to the incarcerated vehicles, faded from the texas sun, hot. sad.  trucks, jacked up vehicles, jet skis.  two boats.  the truck you've come for looks better than all the rest, and it has been there since 2011.  the woman will say no way can you get this going, and she's gotta see this, and you too, but you have faith.  the ever-wonderful can fix vehicles - he's got his daddy's genes - and besides, he says, this is just easy basic stuff.  he will set up the gasoline i.v. drip (which will stop dripping at about two gallons), and then off comes the bad battery, the one with corrosion and cheap connector things, whatever they're called, and he'll settle in the new battery, turn on the key, and suddenly there will be warning bells and the dome light will come on, and you will all start to smile.  2 flat flat back tires mean the truck will have to be jacked up before adding fix-a-flat, but no problem - he knows this stuff. what the woman and you know is that there are two wasps's nests inside the passenger side door, with wasps, but no problem there either.  he will have wasp killing stuff.  sorry wasps, but adios.

and then he will start the truck, the truck with a homemade added toggle switch on the dashboard, and it will vrooom into life with a roar.  paperwork signed, he will climb behind the wheel and you will climb behind the wheel of his truck.  he'll get directions to the county annex to get a texas temporary one trip permit and you will try to figure out how to lock and unlock his truck - the key is confusing. then off to a gas station, first one we see, he'll tell you.  the truck needs more gas and the tires need air.  it will sound so easy when he says it.

it is hot.  it is more humid.  the first station has no air.  you will follow him through the station, no point in stopping, and down the road to the next station, which will look fine, but looks are deceiving, and y'all will discover that not only are most of the pumps not working (the line of vehicles waiting means a third station is hopefully the charm), the air hose is missing its nozzle.  the ever-wonderful will discover this only after he's deposited four quarters and you'll discover this only when you hear him begin to cuss.  he's tired and it's hot, and he needs tape for the temporary permit because it won't stay put.

third gas station.  at last.  gasoline.  while he gasses up, you'll park near the air hose and check to make sure all is intact, then head inside to buy you each a coke.  when you get back outside, you'll see someone has parked in such a way as to block the air.  your cell phone will keep ringing - a friend of your brother's, asking you to call when you get a chance.  you'll be unable to find quarters, the ringing phone and rising humidity beginning to make you crazy, and you'll have to go back into the store to break a dollar bill, and then you'll just wave poor michael, ever-wonderful still, into the handicapped spot next to you, and between the two of you you will get those back tires aired all the way up.  and you will head home.

when you pull onto the highway, there are storm clouds ahead.  in the distance, but you can see they are waiting for you.  michael will see those also, and he'll decide to try the windshield wipers, just in case. and the rubber will just fly right on off - after all, the truck had been sitting in the texas weather since the summer of no rain.  when he pulls into an auto parts store, you pray it has a public bathroom.  you need to pee.  they do.

windshield wipers attached, y'all will head back off.  you are now over three hours into what should have been a two hour trip, and suddenly you are in the storm.  the storm.  the ever-wonderful is long gone in front of you, and you are trying to figure out how to turn on his truck's headlights. you can see nothing but rain and headlights, and you are sure no one can see you, so you pull off the road and call the ever-wonderful.  the switch is on the dashboard, he says, turn it clockwise.  at that moment you will begin to hate his truck.  the switch must be turned until it stops and that means past all the symbols, and you'll get out in the downpour to see if you have lights, but you won't, and you'll drive almost blind until you find a building that you can shine the lights at, at last figuring out the mysterious switch.  the rain is pouring, but back onto the highway you go, this time not seeing the baby goats you saw on the way up.  your shoulders will grow tense, and your neck will begin to hurt, and you'll swear to yourself you will break up with you-know-who if he ever again buys a truck like this.  you'll wish you'd driven your jeep.

when you reach town, water will be everywhere, gushing down the sides of roads, under bridges, and you will begin to worry about your house, begin to wonder if it has flooded.  the ever-wonderful calls and asks if you can stop somewhere and get a couple of burgers.  it's after four and he's hungry, and he's already back to the business.  you say yes, though in truth you really just want to get out of the rain, and it will take forever, and the burgers will be mediocre at best, and you will be even more achy.  and, yes, when you get home, you'll find you were right to worry about your house. the kitchen will be flooded, the bathroom, and the back closet - the one the builder never finished, the one with no ceiling.  you will remember that just last weekend you said you were going to toss out everything that was in that closet, and so you begin.  you know it will take you days, but it is a sign. and you take signs seriously.


this morning the trash can is full of ruined art paper and purses and old vacuum cleaners.
sorry stuff, but adios.

the sky looks like rain.



small summer. day 3.

yesterday she spent the entire day in this spot, at the open door, wanting out, but staying in.  the rain finally stopped, but the world was wet; there was pollen stuck to the pavement.  she would only step outside if i stepped outside, even if the rain was still raining, would hide in the monkey grass to surprise me as i rounded the curve on the sidewalk.  it was a change for her, avoiding the rain, staying inside, and i, being me, worried that it meant something. lately she comes in early and when i step out of the shower, she is waiting for me, ready for bed.  perhaps she just wants to read over my shoulder.

as darkness finally fell last night, she shook herself, suddenly hungry, suddenly deciding to head outside, staying out there longer than i'd expected, staying longer than she has in weeks, and i, being me, worried she wouldn't come back in, and flashlight in hand, walked out into the still wet night, calling her more than i've lately done, and returned to my book.  another half hour and she poked her head through the still open door.  home.

she has been here since the spring of my mother's death, three years ago - it will be our fourth summer together.  this morning she is asleep against my left thigh as i type, her once-upon-a-time favorite place.  the sun is finding its way through the clouds.

summer.  day 3 begins.



the second day of summer arrives with rain

yesterday was a bird in the hand.

a sparrow.  flying full speed with the joy of summer, hard into the glass of the front door, falling onto the moss, but breathing, and with the cat at my heels, i picked it up, closed the door and the open windows, leaving the cat inside.  i thought of graciel, of my mother, of kelly, and i sat with it on the back porch, just a small thing clutching for life in the palm of my hand, its mouth open, as if trying to find its lost song. inside the house, the tv was on, a movie about africa and other deaths; i could hear the blurred voices over my shoulder, beyond the window.  the sparrow lay in my hand, staring at me (was i god or monster, i wondered), breathing hard, one leg jerking hard. i began to sing my own song, maybe it would be good enough, i thought, and i said those things you say when pain or death hovers nearby - hush, it will be all right, it will be all right - and watched its leg calm down, its breathing slow.  watched its eye on me, huge and frightened.  watched a breeze blow leaves from the trees.  thinking to make a nest from those leaves and grass, i laid the sparrow on my mother's picnic table, just for a moment, i thought, but as i turned, it flew.  away into that breeze, and gone.

another summer begins.

this year, the grass grows quickly.  mowed just a few days ago, it is already head high to the cardinals.  i am like the grass, soaking in words like sunshine and rain.  i've been swallowing books whole, devouring them.  it's been a feeding frenzy.  from romance and scotland to patti smith to tuscany once again.  movies on the tv, africa and iowa and more africa,  deaths and dreams.

i am traveling someone else's words, packing light for the journey. 
it is summer, after all.



buried treasure

i'd thought this morning to head to the lake, though the sky was nothing but clouds, and the air felt cold at 77 degrees, and there were breezes even cooler through the trees.  go anyway, i told myself, it will warm, it's only the morning time that gives you pause.

and so i did, and the clouds stayed and the breezes also, but the air did indeed grow warmer, and the small girl next to me, digging through a leftover sandcastle, found a tiara buried beneath the tumbled towers. what magic there is when you go anyway.



a week, plus more, of living small

two fridays ago was me in the sun for an hour midday, no sunscreen. a book. the cat asleep in my shadow. silence mixed with birdsong. the house was solace - shade in the middle of sunlight, the door open, a fan slowly moving, right to left and back to right and on and slowly on. the cat followed me in and perched on the arm of the couch, at last awake, watching moments visible only to cats.  by late afternoon, clouds, and by dark, just the barest twinkling of stars in the barest openings of those clouds. saturday morning was humidity and gray skies, giving way to humidity and blue skies by the afternoon. a drive for fresh asparagus and blue eggs and french grey paint. and then painting. sunday morning was still and gray, and the french grey looked too blue, but we were too busy to do more than acknowledge the fact and nod our heads in agreement - there were places to go and a nearly flat tire, books to be continued, pieces of movies to be watched, and then it was sunday night.  i thought i heard rain in my sleep.

monday continued too humid, exhausting me.  so little seemed changed in four days, the cat once again asleep on the arm of the couch, fat red robins on the lawn. late afternoon, new paint - less blue, the perfect taupe. sore arms, tight hamstrings, another book.

i am dreaming of a bedroom with little but a bed and lamp.  if i could tilt the house and shake all the old stuff out into the creek, i would do it, even letting go all the old paperbacks that once and twice, and even three times, brought such joy.  i would wave goodbye as the rain washed them far away. a year past changing the living room to a studio, it is still too much living room, not enough studio, but maybe that doesn't matter - the more i write, the less room i need.  it is the tuesday morning after memorial day and a rainy night, and the shadows through the windows are soft.

wednesday morning was sunshine mixed with loud birds when i awakened; i could see blue skies to the north, but the southern clouds behind me disappeared the shadows that might have been.  there was afternoon-into-the-early evening painting, still that perfect taupe covering black.  we began in sunshine and ended in rain, still not done with the thousand and one cubbyholes. each one is the exact length of my arm plus an outstretched hand and brush. i sprawled on the floor for the bottom ones, unable to see where to paint, just pushing the brush until suddenly the black wood lightened with paint, lightened my way, me suddenly knowing where i was.  i am painting and breathing and all is well.  night fell. a hot shower. supper was cooked and on my plate when the electricity went out; i ate by candlelight.

thursday began with wet streets, quickly dry in the morning sun.  the front door open, the church bell ringing the time, and the cat finding her lately normal spot on the arm of the couch. the shadows of trees moved softly on the walls.


suddenly it was once again friday, and then another weekend.  mexican food and more painting, the sky still promising rain, but delivering not much.  i am off for the week, this week that promises sunshine and silence.  the lake is calling my name.