Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 30, 2013

The wren outside my study window cries “Israel! Israel! Israel!”

Downtown last night for the NC Stage previews. I sought out and sat in the chair I bought as a memorial for my mother. That made me happy.

Handsome John and his men came to whack away at the trees. New light on the east, less danger over Kelly’s yard and DJ’s roof. They dropped all the lopped limbs on the backyard roses, which, somehow, were not hurt. Let me say, nothing smells better than a man who has been working in the trees. One might go into the business just for that.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 29, 2013

Dream in which I was in India and part of a mendicant band of musicians. We slept under the stars and played to villages and te like during the day. I was very happy. I felt sacred. In the dream I reminded myself to start practicing the violin again, which I haven’t done since the 5th grade.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28, 2013

Bright sun after an unpromisingly overcast morning. I spent part of the morning driving home from Winston-Salem, from the North Carolina Writers’ Conference. I had thought to escape yesterday morning (having been convinced by the open-mike that I had made a terrible mistake) but was prevented by what the TV represented as the worst downpour in modern times. So, through it I went, and, on balance, I’m glad I stayed. Because of the rain, I didn’t get to know the intriguing environs of my motel as well as I’d like, but I caught up with old acquaintances, and was re-introduced to a hundred people who knew me, apparantly had history with me, and whom I didn’t know from Adam. This is a significant and perplexing flaw. I think I have an excellent memory, and though I remembered all the incidents they described vividly, I didn’t remember that they were part of them. Did remember AD, who recalled the incident when I came to her hotel door “in his youthful blond beauty” and she thought I had been sent as a companion. I recount that because it’s the only anecdote I know which references my youthful blond beauty. The panels and presentations were good, if pointedly regional. Keith’s was brilliant. There was a lot of homage to various figures in the history of NC literature, making me wonder what exactly made one venerable in our eyes. The gods of our state literary pantheon are often quite good, but none living or recently dead would be included in a national list. Maybe Fred Chapell. Dee James is in the café, and I asked her about this and she pointed out that all such gatherings become a reunion of old friends, who wait for it in order to reconnect, and when there talk about the same things they’ve talked about for thirty years. I myself attended exactly 29 years ago, and never after. That should have told me something. Perhaps the criteria have something to do with subject matter, for all lauded writers (by this group) write about long ago back on the farm. Such petty careerism and one-upping! Such pride in being a “professional” without reference at all to inspiration or necessity.  I think that’s why I abandoned it thirty years ago. Next year it’s in Asheville, I think, and that mey be the reason to go again.

Additionally, I was reminded of what I consistently identify as the big mistake in my career. I call it the failure to network, but it’s worse than that. I had no mentors, and hence no one to give me a boost or get me through a closed door or make the significant introduction. Every story about Morgan and other honorees starting out brims with lucky breaks or grace by means of mentor. I have had a few of the first, maybe, but none of the second. I have sometimes succeeded because of excellence, but never once because of affection, and affection is by far the mightier force. I don’t even think of this as evil, actually, but merely perplexing. When Roy Cohn starts his rant in Angels in America about being a good son, I feel he’s right, and know that there I failed. I have been a far better father than I have been a son. I have been a mentor even if I never had one. This is a kind of salvation.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


July 27, 2013

I want to say the Clarion Sundance in Winston-Salem has seen better days, but I think rather it was built exactly like this, tacky, run-down, marginal in all aspects, foreseeing its destined clientele from the outset. I sit here typing, knowing that I could just as well throw my things in the bag and get the hell out of here. It might still happen.

Met some folks, was reintroduced to some folks (most of whom I remembered) Attended the open-mike. No one is at his best for an open mike, but this one was flatly gawdawful, even after the master of ceremonies had congratulated us on being the best writers in North Carolina and avoiding the trap of the horrible open-mike. The best one could say is that there was a sweaty and ego-maniacal battle for the middle.

Went shopping at the Family Dollar, where we had a big laugh over Aunt Betty’s Closet– the ABC store. Afternoon drinks at a nice bar nearby, wth a golf theme. I liked the people there. The Caesar salad was. . .  not that, in any case.

Interesting dreams, though: I was asked to help rebuilt Troy, and we stood around wondering what architectural style would be best for this and that, The sea had come back and washed the edge of the ruins. Hiram stood adjacent to Troy, and I was also being consulted on a long, lofty barrel vault which they wanted to rebuild. I was being fanciful– I think they asked me to--- suggesting movie screen and parachute rides and stained glass--

Dim outside.

I believe a year ago today I was being disappointed in my first effort to reach Sligo. That was worse than this.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 25, 2013

Mother’s birthday. She would have been 89.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24, 2013

Awakened by an attack of gout (now medicated and subsiding)

Found a tick in my hair.

Spent yesterday in an orgy of completion and revision. I hope the day wasn’t too beautiful.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23, 2013

The incessant rains played havoc with my vegetables. One zucchini, one eggplant, a good crop of Roma tomatoes, perhaps not much else

Each summer there seems to be a manufactured health crisis. Past recent summers others did the manufacturing; this time it was me. The phrase “macular degeneration” was in my head, perhaps because my eyes were tired from working so hard on the novel. I went to a new doctor because Maria works in the office. Maria had talked about how wonderful the doctors were, but I had pictured men. The office was a complete matriarchy, all women, with that style one associates with female organization. My doctor was so stunningly beautiful that it was difficult to get the mind around her actually being a doctor. In any case, there was no macular degeneration (my macula turn out, like my intestines, to be among my strong points) and I spent $1000 on new glasses and the trimmings. What did I mean by “female organization”? Apparently yielding but actually insistent and, when necessary, repetitious; the determination to have things a certain way while projecting openness and an illusion of choice. Nothing huge, but noticeable, a nuance. It is my experience that women go around corners where men walk straight through, and their determination for the goal is greater, as they have taken the longer way.

I will finish Wyona this morning, perhaps within the hour. Odd to be so immersed in something one cannot share with others, except as a finished product. People ask what I’ve been doing and the answer, “creating a new world” is impossible and the answer “writing” is lame. I should have raised a family. I should have made birdhouses.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 21, 2013

Dream of buying furniture and books to fill new rooms at a new college. Except in the dream I was Virginia Woolf, and very aware that what I bought had to be publically up to the standards of Virginia Woolf.

Painted yesterday. Managed to sneak past the office, because if I didn’t I’d spend half my time talking with J. Her plans, her new designs for which, for some reason, she seems to need my approval. She came up to the studio anyway, and said, “I didn’t see you come in.” I couldn’t say how much stealth I used insuring that. Then I heard about the plans and designs, not knowing if it was OK for me to keep on painting or if I had to heed with full intention. I can’t say that the session was exactly ruined, but it did not come out the way I anticipated.

Heroic weeding. I realize that the garden which looks so fascinating to me looks unkempt to others. I keep big weeks growing because I like yhem and like to watch them grow. I get walks be overgrown. I encourage wildness and chance. It must look like mess from outside.

Writing on the new version of Wyona.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 19, 2013

Night out with DJ and Russell to see Pacific Rim. Holes in the story, the characterizations, which would have been easy to fix. Hundreds of millions of dollars to spend and none of it to perfect a script. Heat and writing on Wyona. Everything but time is too slow.

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 18, 2013

Plunged into the rain last night to hear music from my buddies at Apothecary.  I hadn’t appreciated the esoteric nature of what they’re doing; there were ten people in the room when the music began, three of them not associated with the organization. I wanted to remark on the incredible self-indulgence of everything, but I may be reading the scene wrong.  Just because I don’t know when the goofing around ends and the music begins doesn’t mean nobody does. Handsome Alec’s piece was up first. There was Alec, a violin, Frank on bass, a percussionist, and another musician on Skype. I was ready for the aleatoric , but it wasn’t that at all, but highly controlled, the musician waiting for a nod from the composer, having received (I learned later) detailed instructions beforehand. The electronic part, the part supplied by the invisible (to us) musician on Skype, ranged from mildly irritating to extremely irritating. You wonder if a young composer is open to suggestions, to the observation that sometimes one’s coolest idea simply doesn’t work. But the rest, when you could shove the computer aside, turned out to be fine– a sort of acquired order, Alec’s ethereal vocals, an essential rhythm . I was thinking by the end that it was quite beautiful.

Call from MP, wanting to go forward on the commission. I am all aglow.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 17, 2013

The virtue of getting up as early as I do is this: I wrote sturdily on my novel, did a short weight set and an aerobics class at the Y, bought and unloaded many bags of mulch, did a huge garden project, showered, shaved. and it is not yet noon.

A little more weeding before the storm, without having doused myself with Skin-so-Soft: seven painful mosquito bites in as many minutes. In Ohio they have the decency to be big and meaty and visible so they can be swatted.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16, 2013

The lady at the Inn said Thomas Chema is retiring as Hiram president. What good news that is. No doubt he congratulates himself on the new buildings, but he is the destroyer of all things that the college was, all things that made it special and gave it a place among the hundred little colleges nestled in among the Ohio farms. All the things we loved and it was right to love. I’d stopped contributing, I’d stopped looking fondly backward on the place. He was the Smiling Destroyer, and the institution’s only hope is to hire his opposite at the speed of light. One might forgive him except for the cloud of witness–all wiser than himself-- crying to him “Stop!” What do people think when they leave their work and know that it left things worse than before?

Stopped on the way to the airport to walk a little of the Headwaters Trail. I wanted to find Forty Foot Falls, but I never did. I did walk the calm Ohio summer, the familiar weeds and birdcalls on all sides of me.

Sat with Monroe Gilmore on the ride from Detroit. Talked with the Elmores, who were on the same flight. Came home to nothing in particular, which was exactly what I wanted.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Impressions: The first thing I saw driving out of the Akron airport was the Goodyear blimp. Perfect.

The boy I was in love with for six years writes, as a man, a Facebook note saying how good it is to know me and what a wonderful man I am. One can only sigh.

The sad thing at creekside was that there were no small versions of ourselves playing in the water. I guess the Internet takes up that energy now.

Ohio 4

July 15, 2013

Hiram is exquisitely deserted. My room has a terrace, where I can stand safely in my underwear surveying the Quad and environs where not one soul is moving.

Did yesterday morning what I never expected to do. I returned to Emmanuel United Church of Christ, into which building I had not stepped for forty years. I assumed that I’d be safely anonymous, everyone I knew dead or gone, but that was not the case. I’d barely gotten through the door when Mrs Steen descended on me–knowing me in an instant. In the sparse congregation that morning were the Steens, Isabelle Taggert (having just celebrated her 91st birthday), the Buida girls (my first baby sitters) and their families. I had a chance to thank Betty Andonian, my mother’s cherished friend in her last years, and Neil Wertz, my father’s cherished friend in his last years. Doug Lazorn’s mother was there. She asked if I remembered him and I said “yes,” leaving out, “he was always the trouble-maker, for whom excuses had to be made.”  Several people knew me chiefly as my sister’s brother. Several familiar names were on the pray-for or homebound list. The service was unfamiliar, but I had been gone a long time. What passed for liturgy seemed improvisational, and when we came up for Communion, it was bread dipped in grape juice. The music was dreadful. This endures through time. The preacher (new, there but six months) was excellent, and preached –on the Good Samaritan– one of the best sermons I ever heard.

Hours left to mope around Hiram, so I did. Without my intending for it to happen, some power led my feet to the corner of the playing fields where the Path lay, and still lies. For the first time since 1972 I walked that path to Silver Creek. Passing into the shadow of the forest made me feel different, sacred. It was hot, still, very quiet. Birds called in the distance (it was nearing dusk) but nearby all was close and silent and holy. I found I could move without making a sound. The woods are more beautiful than they used to be, clean and stately where they had been scruffy and weedy, the canopy not quite sealed over the undergrowth. What a mysterious experience it was! Spirit hovered over it, and me, though the identity of the spirit was difficult to tell. I felt unusually fit and covered the ground with some speed. I met something there, a part of me, which like gold hammered thin had been far away but never separated. I was happy.

When I emerged kids–the boys in white shirts and ties–were streaming to the dining hall at the edge of the fields. I blessed them.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ohio 3

July 14, 2013

Same sun pouring through my window as woke me four years on Hiram Hill

The Ellet High class reunion at Sunny Hills Country Club turned out to be perfect, the one of these that I enjoyed the most. I felt comfortable, as I do not always. I even felt a little celebrated. Thanks maybe to Facebook, everyone knows my business, and my business of late has been, by the standards of that place and time, extraordinary. Nobody seemed as tall as they used to. Talked intimately, innocently with boys I crushed on in the ancient days. “Caught up” with those one never knew. SB remembered that in Mrs Trusley’s class during “current events” I brought an article mentioning the Vietnam War, which nobody had heard of then. Who knew anybody was listening? SH told me of a student I had moved– “redeemed,” she said–when I read for her class long years ago. JW didn’t remember working with me at Goodyear, and got back into contact at points through the night ro apologize. Learned snippets of life histories. Talked with Jack, in some ways my first friend, with whom I had not talked much these 40 years. I was happy. I knew when to leave. The frogs were calling hysterically in the golf course ponds as I went to my car under the sickle moon.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ohio 2

July 13, 2013

Yesterday’s emotions may have been in part exhaustion, for waking today I feel more like one should on a carefree vacation to a familiar place. Woke from dreams that were sometimes about things to eat, sometimes about a line of books I had published that were merrily and sweetly sexual, to prove the point, I think, that sexual arousal could be plain good fun. They were named after different colors, the Blue Sex Book, the Green Sex Book, the Peach Sex Book.

Wandered through campus yesterday. Frohring Art is now the theater complex. Did not discover where art went. It was a New Student Visitation Day, and campus was alive with new students and their parents, a surprising proportion of which were notably overweight black people, Perhaps that’s the new demographic. Wandered to Bonney Castle and the quiet Bonney Castle garden, and some sort Romantic revery fell upon me, and I sank down on the Brainerd P Stranahan bench and brooded, entertaining the possibility that I had failed everyone who had helped me or believed in me. It was a hard conviction to shake. All the exhibits I could produce for my case seemed feeble and shaky. My seatmate Ocean helped me to get up off the bench and move again. I gave myself the advice I would have given her, “It’s best to think of something else now.”  A brindled cat wanted to cross the garden, but she was afraid of me. I said, “It’s all right,” and she crossed, finally, tail high, hardly looking at me. There was a preliminary class get-together at the usual restaurant in Tallmadge that night, which I missed because I comforted myself with rum and did not wake up until 9:30.

But I rose early this morning and drove to Akron, which turned out to be the right thing ti do.  It’s curious that I have photos of none of my sacred places. Why is that? I’ve had some kind of camera nearly all my life. Was it an impulse to keep the sacred sacred? Did I never fear losing them? Did I want to keep them changeless in my mind? Did I want to be cagey about what was sacred to me, so no one would know and violate? Whatever went on with that, I started at the Foxboro house and took photos from the road. It looks far better than it did when we were there, a classy gray now, landscaped and flowery. The pond is covered up with plastic, being restored or replaced. My basswood is gigantic, and leaning, as all the trees in the area do for some reason, slightly to the east. The house on Honodle is spruce and bright, like a cottage in a fairy tale. The house on Goodview, the First House where I was the First Child, is a neat yellow box, the owner a trim young man with a big truck. I almost cried out to him who I was and how badly I wanted to see inside and behind, but finally I couldn’t find the will. The basketball hoop dad affixed for me is still where it was, and the middling oaks of my childhood are now immense. The neighborhood is both like and unlike. The Fisher house is exactly as it was, the little sassafras trees become great sassafras trees. The Crines’ great wood is covered with tiny ugly houses. At that I could barely look.

Drove to East Park to see the Creek. I could have walked the way, but our path through the woods is almost certainly lost in the yards of squat little houses. I didn’t even know the Creek’s name. It was “The Creek” when we were kids, for there was only one. It flows out of Alder Pond through the Sullivan Street culvert and into the Little Cuyahoga– perhaps it IS the Little Cuyahoga. I started at the Deep End, at the culvert. It’s still deep, but not wide anymore, having been hemmed in by stone walls. I climbed the far bank onto the wide industrial waste that used to house the Tadpole Pond. The pond, which had vanished for many years, has reasserted itself. The ground told me there have been torrents of rain, and perhaps I came at its best moment. But there are frogs and waterweeds, and it is again more than a rut left by ATVs. I followed the creek to the great Boulder, which used to be partially imbedded in the bank, but now stands free. The first time I ever went to the Creek by myself I “discovered” it and the huge frog which ruled the pool at its base.  Never since have I had a greater sense of discovery. I continued downstream, as I almost never did before. One time only we went as far as to get a glimpse of the railroad tracks and the cars on them. This we were forbidden not only by our parents, but by our own folklore, which suggested that the railroad bulls were lying in wait to capture over adventurous little boys. This time, though, neither fear nor admonition had power over me, and I continued down the twisty, muddy trails beside the tracks as far as I wanted to, which was pretty far. The trails must have been there when we were kids. Maybe Jesse followed them, but I never did. I did today. In all my roaming along the Little Cuyahoga, I went the farthest on a day fifty-six years after I went there first.

As I walked, the experience stopped being nostalgic, and started being an actual exploration. I was in new territory. There was a groundhog. There were campfire sites left by God knows whom. There were wide pools left by rain. I didn’t quite realize it, but as I roamed I became a boy again, there in a crucible of my soul.

Went finally to Maytree, to the GHMP, and sat in the great field under a very particular tree. When I was living at home in the summer of 1974, after the Baltimore catastrophe, after the death of my mother, I jogged to that tree by night. I sat while the moon rose. Before I knew what I was doing, I was praying a mighty prayer. I was launching my first attack on God, all guns blazing, furious at Him for leading me astray (as He had done; I would say that now), demanding to know what He wanted of me. I lay down in the dampening grass, exhausted. I rose up and went home. The next day the call came from Syracuse, and what I recognize as my life began. It was that tree I went to. God and I have been at war many times, but that was the first, and my victory was a shock to my soul. It was not war this sunny morning. It was not exactly a chat, either: I am very far from what I had imagined would be– while, at the same time, oddly, being quite near– and I have no idea how to proceed. The great south field was all ablaze around me.

Stopped in Brimfield for lunch at the Brimfield Family Steakhouse. I detest family restaurants, and detested that one, but I was led there, I think, because it was the site of our last family meal in Ohio, with dad and Linda’s kids, Bekka deliberately issuing taunts that made Jonathan call her a racist. It was not a good time, but it was a final time, and I was glad to be there again, where people call you “honey” the first time you meet.

On the drive to Hiram, stuck in a convoy of military Humvees headed, I suppose, for the Ravenna Arsenal, an odd and cleansing realization came to me. I am still the boy who went to the Creek with the capture pail in his hands. He is battered, covered with scar-tissue, defensive, roughened, sad with the recollection of having strayed, concealed, self-mocking-- but intact. I saw him that way for the first time, self looking at self. Why is it so good still to be him? Because he was endowed with the most radiant and accepting curiosity, going into all strange places with mind and heart open. Because his soul was absolutely stainless, and remains so under scars and armor. Because he was a kind of priest, and this priesthood was not ended, but rather strangely enriched, by the profane struggles which came later. He was the one not father or mother or friend knew, but I did, and so did the Lord, and we shared every minute I strode through the dazzling mud of my first world. As with the night in the great field under the tree forty years ago, the gift given is greater than the one asked. I had to pull over to the side of the road. I am not quite finished murmuring, “blessed.”


July 12, 2013

Asheville Airport– the syllables sound melancholy this morning. Met Becky Cochran in the lobby. She said she found one of my books in a hotel in London. “Of course I nicked it. Never read it. . . can’t remember the title. . . but I had to have it. You know how that is.”

Detroit Airport Clean, bright, almost empty. Probably not many people come to Detroit. My seat mate from Asheville was an 11th grader named Ocean. Ocean is going home to Duluth after 11 months at a school in Flat Rock for girls with anxiety. She changed seats with me because she has particular anxiety about flying, and she was afraid to be by the window. But, moved from the window, she spent all her time looking out it, waiting (it seemed to me) for something to be anxious about. She was anxious during turbulence, anxious when the plane banked or changed altitude, incidents which she detected with exquisite sensitivity. Part of anxiety is, apparently, focusing on the very things which upset you. She has been taking therapy at a school designed for her for almost a year, and no one, it seems, told her “think of something else,” or suggested she might read or listen to music or meditate in order to pry her mind away from the things that make her miserable. She sits in a rictus of anticipation, awaiting with horrible concentration the very things which frighted her. It must be a kind of hell-- though also, I think, a voluntary hell. I wanted to say, “You know, you could stop this if you really wanted to.”  In my time I have had obsessions and anxieties, and when I could finally endure them no longer, I found a way to break free. I did say, “You know, you could think of something else. You could sleep. You could meditate. “ She stiffened, felt the plane beneath us, and said, “Oh! We’re turning now. . . I hate when we turn!” Her 16th birthday was two days ago.

I was not prepared for my emotions passing through Akron and on to Hiram, by dead reckoning left over from when the route was usual to me. I considered nostalgia, exhaustion, depression, but the actual emotion was flat hard grief.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 11, 2013

Angels’ trumpets and crepe myrtles in immodest bloom.

The reading of Awake! Awake Deborah! last night was brilliantly achieved by its cast– the cast, in fact, was transcendent--- though fraught with the difficulties the venue would suggest. The air conditioning was off, and the room was an intolerable sweat-box. An open door was rendered impossible by the noise from the street. Two of the actors were reading from electronic notebooks, and they overheated and they lost their places. The play is noble to the ear, but has too complicated a path to travel dramatically. I don’t know if I can do anything about that. Every chair was taken, and there were standees, but still, of course, I counted the absences. All in all, I had a good time, and we repaired en masse to Pack Tavern afterward, where I first tasted French fried pickles.

Have given myself plenty of time to get to the airport.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 10, 2013

Noon. I painted for a couple of hours, drank a slow iced coffee at the café while I tried to write, then did some major gardening. Now I’m daubing sweat and scratching mosquito bites. At the studio I was finishing Floating Mountains when Richmond brought some students in. I shifted instantly into Sesame Street mode, striving to be amusing and informative at once. I asked the kids what they thought the title of the painting should be, and one girl said “Meat Sticks Falling out of the Sky.” After a minute’s looking I could see what she meant. There was a Down Syndrome boy who was finding something wildly funny. Richmond is so beautiful you find yourself saying anything to make him linger.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 9, 2013

Good morning in the studio.

An entire day without rain.

Good read-through of Awake! Awake! Deborah!  at Apothecary in the evening. The play is better (and shorter) than it was.  All my cast was so excellent I could hear my nerves relaxing as I listened. There are moments of greatness. In any group there will always be the person who arrives late, hasn’t brought a script, and then leaves keys under his chair, so there must be a return trip after everything has been locked up. It is always the same person, and it is always the person with the longest list of grievances about his treatment by the world. These are rules. Lovely wind-down at the Pack tavern afterward.

Derek said his mother said I had treated her awful when we met. I was horrified, even though he set it down to dementia. I remembered meeting her, but certainly had no recollection of being awful to her.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 8, 2013

Never heard tree frogs here before. Now the trees between me and Grace Plaza are alive with them.

Excellent Sunday painting, and then a great and fruitful labor in the garden. “Mulch” is the answer to most of my problems there.

I heard a great limb fall from the sweet gum in the night. The wind was still, the night absolutely silent. The tree is haunted. It fell in Kelly’s yard, so I had a brutal clean-up job to do in the morning. Phoned John the tree guy (all arborists are handsome, at least around here) about fixing that and a few other things. Had noticed that Carolyn has a dead tree, so I went over to ask if she wanted that removed while John was at it. Her granddaughter ( 6 or 7) came to the doors and said, “Who the hay-ell are you?”
“Is that really what you meant to say?” says I
After a pause she says, “My grandma is on the phone. She ain’t quite done yet. May I take a message?” She obviously knew both modes of discourse. I wonder why her default choice was ignorant redneck. Anyway, she told me her name, Isabella, by spelling it very carefully. She said her middle name was Jolene, but she didn’t know how to spell it. I said, “I can spell it,” and I did. She said, “How the hay-ell did you know that?” One doesn’t even need to speculate about what goes on in that house.

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 7, 2013

The 37th anniversary.

Tried to go to the studio, but the river road was closed because of flooding. Too discouraged to pick my way through downtown.

Tom is a bachelor for the week, and phoned to make a date to see The Lone Ranger. Somewhat against expectation and hugely contrary to the iffy reviews, it’s a delightful movie. I was grateful to it for making me feel like a ten year old again. I did see, but was not bothered by, its heterogeneity of tone. We still bristle when magical realism creeps into our art, thought we suffer it without comment in our lives.

Between shower and Tom’s arrival, I lay down and dreamed a quick dream.  I was walking across a vast empty space in a city, perhaps where several highways systems meet. It was snowing so hard one could not see far into the distance. I heard that I’d left my car running–and the radio on– behind me, so I turned and pressed the key so the car would lock and the radio stop. Only when I turned back did I know where I was going. My sister and her boys, and a few other people were standing in the snow, waiting for me. I couldn’t see them except for vague, lively shapes. I began to move toward them.

War in the afternoon against vast knots of vines hiding beneath the rose bushes. The sheer weight and volume of vegetable matter that can spring up in a few weeks is astonishing.  My yard is too high maintenance, far more than a simple lawn would be. I can’t keep up, and don’t know exactly what to do about it. Hire someone, I suppose, though it would seem–and be–a violation to have a stranger creeping among my flowers with hard shoes and heedless hands.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July 6, 2013

Difficult to believe that one wakes again to the sound of rain.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July 5, 2013

4th of July Picnic at Jack’s, who manfully used the outdoor grill through the intermittent downpour. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was me, but a mild melancholy seemed to overhang the festivities. K and I had the longest chat of our lives, about Spinoza and university politics. I’d forgotten about the picnic, and spent some of my holiday saddened by the fact that I was going to spend another solitary feast day.

 A mighty weeding will be necessary after all this rain. Awake! Awake! Deborah getting some play. It will be a Mountain Xpress “Best Bet” (with Trinity’s picture) and I do an interview this morning with Laurel of Asheville. I wish the play were better than it is, but the play, finally, is not the point.

 Doing research for the third Lincoln play.

Bought weights, so I never need quite to be sitting idle in my chair.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Independence Day

July 4, 2013

William Billings on the radio. A day of impending Americana.

Watched Lawrence the fish in his pool last night. The rain had filled it up, and it was overflowing, and Lawrence kept nosing the spot where it overflowed, patrolling that section like a hungry shark. Clearly he wanted to go where the water was going. I had anxiety that he would jump out, and stood watching a long time, but realized I couldn’t be there through the watches of the night, and what would happen, would happen. Then I thought this is what parents must feel when they see a child going astray. Eventually one must look away.

When day broke I ran out into the rain to check the water gardens. Lawrence glides safe at the bottom of his pool.

Reading this morning in the café an article which points out that six Americans died this year in terrorist-related events (all at the Boston Marathon), while nine died from infants accidentally firing guns, with ten more injured. I can be forgiven for believing that all our talk about security– all the check points and surveillance and asininity at airports-- has behind it an agenda other than public safety.

There cannot be so much water in the air. We are bewitched.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July 3

Remarkable persistence of rain. There will be a deluge, then a few hours or moments of near-sun, so the flooding is not too bad. The atmosphere is thick, the scents enhanced. My orange rose and its five-jeweled crown of multiple bloom gleams in the dimness. This is an Irish rain, without violence, sweet, musical, but far outlasting its welcome. O that some if it might fall on Arizona and put out their fires! Had time to spend away because of the house cleaners, and I tried to walk around in Black Mountain, but there was no in-town parking, and though I’m usually willing to walk quite a distance, it could not be done under the twisting sheets of rain. I fear the tadpoles will float out of their ponds without knowing they have done so.

North Carolina has become the worst state in the Union. Usually it had a Mississippi or a Texas to buffer it, but our Republican legislature has worked overtime, wilful in its desire to do as much damage as possible, and to have that damage be unparalleled in witless stupidity and comic opera hypocrisy. They pass a law against the imposition of Sharia (no threat at all under any imaginable circumstance) and tack onto it a religion-inspired rider restricting the rights of women, thus demonstrating the misrule they claim to be guarding against. They have gutted unemployment benefits and never passed a law that did not have tax breaks for themselves as the object of it. They are at war with anyone who is not exactly like themselves, and are so insulated, so arrogant, such collective sociopaths that there is no real attempt either to hide or explain their actions. Most tyrants are at least bold. These tyrants are cowards as well. The wait until everyone has gone home and then give each other the secret sign. They are greedy brats in a candy store intent on gobbling up as much as they can before they are tossed out. The next legislature will have nothing to do but reverse, revoke, undo the work of the worst gaggle of clowns in my recollection.

July 2

Alternations of heavy rain and wavering between-storms light, actually very satisfying to me.

Saw a rabbit in the garden. Shoo him or let him abide?  Let him abide.