Saturday, May 29, 2010

Intelligent Gardening

I'm no closer to starting the bathroom project. Meanwhile spring turns to summer here with still no sign of the hateful Sri Lankan biobot weevils that have terrorized our plants for the past several years but that are now nowhere to be seen. I'm quick to give credit to the hard freeze this winter, but maybe it is a ploy, a trick to get me to lower my defences. Maybe the weevils are just in a meeting right now.

The freeze also gave me the courage to give a hard trim to the orchid tree and the giant milk weed (above and to the left). Courage, because I though both of them were dead anyway. And now they both have shot back to a state of bliss, happy and growing like crazy, confirming yet again that I know nothing at all about plants and that any success is pure luck. I might as well be speculating on derivatives or managing the gulf cleanup.

From nowhere we have a huge blanket of blanket flowers in the front between the sidewalk and the street--also not due to any knowledge or action or inaction on my part, except that I quit mowing them down.

Here's my monitor lizard, on the lookout for weevils. To tell the truth, this guy wouldn't know a Sri Lankan weevil if it pooped in his face. Where were you last year, Mr. Lizard, when the weevils were chewing these Bombax leaves to pieces?

Also, every spring Cheryl dresses up and has formal teas and looks cute in her purple hat. Life is all tea and milk and honey for Cheryl.

I keep the weevils and wolves away and tell her that everything is OK.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Duck Bills

When I was in my early thirties, I decided to move to Arizona and get a real job. My mom gave me this alarm clock as a joke, just a way to tease me about giving up my late nights as a musician. It looks like a duck to me, but it it has a rooster's comb and the alarm sound just like an angry rooster who won't shut up. Still a duck.

Working in the corporate world was more awful than I could have imagined. I had this cocky supervisor who sat near me. One day he had a meeting scheduled for 3:00 (some auditors, I believe), so early that morning I set the alarm to go off at 3:15 and I duck-taped it to a hidden place behind his desk, and then I told everyone in the department to walk by his office at about 3:14. By 3:18 the meeting broke up since no one could be heard over the crowing and no one could find the clock.

The duck has been on my shelf here for several years now, and yesterday as I was searching for some software I picked it up and noticed something neatly folded in its bill: a $100 bill and a $50. I'm pretty sure I put the bills there, but I can't remember why. My mom couldn't have done it, and I can't imagine why anyone else would have done it.

In the very back of my mind, which is a pretty dusty and neglected place, I seem to remember something about it. Maybe it's money that I wanted to give someone but didn't? Or maybe it's money that represents something I didn't want to lose, not realizing that I was likely to forget in any case? Or maybe I was just playing a joke on my stupid future self? If so, I got me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Folk Music

Fast Eddie sent me a song yesterday that reminded me of Arkansas--good memories. Folk music has evolved naturally there over the years, a process that I witnessed but didn't really appreciate. Soon after I got my first paying job as a musician, I learned to play whatever music would pay money, not unlike a very common prostitute.

Over the years I also became friends with musicians who played just for fun in their living rooms and on the back porch, playing in a style best suited for acoustic instruments. There were no rules: you could play anything: Hank Williams, the Eagles, Pink Floyd, anything. It was the style that mattered.

And occasionally you would hear it: that genuine, unforced, natural quality: a crystal clear voice, a fiddle playing like honey, something unique and clearly unaffected, and often it seemed to be a reflection of that person's real self, in contrast to the musicians (like me) who spent so much effort learning to imitate other musicians. Sometimes I'd get a chance to play with one of those real musicians. Nice.

(Note to future self: I'm not swimming in self-pity here. Every day I practice and I'm getting better. I'm having real fun with music now.)

Unique talent is out there--the trouble is finding it. I just finished a graphic novel, Bone, written by someone who developed a unique style of drawing while in college and then developed a series that lasted 13 years, resisting offers from publishing companies and then finally publishing on his own. The collection is over 1,200 pages, and you get the sense that he enjoyed making every drawing. Within the graphic novel community he is a rock star, but most people have never heard of him. (I'm lucky to be married to a librarian who finds good stuff for me to read.)

Anyway, I couldn't upload the Cindy Woolf song that FE sent me, so I've included this video of her that I found on YouTube. She sounds like one of those real musicians: talent, unique style, happy. And her voice has Arkansas in it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Door Knobs

After years of fighting with the various door knobs in this house, of twisting and banging and pushing while the doors refused to open or close or stay closed once closed, I finally got some new knobs and replaced the whole lot over the weekend. The bathroom project remains in limbo due to our inability to select any tile, so I had a little momentum to carry me through this side project.

But now I'm wondering why it's taken me 5 years to fix the knobs. The stupid kitchen door would bounce back open when you shut it, over and over, probably thousands of times. But over time its behavior blended into the environment, I suppose, and became an annoying habit that is quickly overlooked and forgotten, like when a person's wife might leave chicken bones sitting on the kitchen counter, or some other such annoyance that, taken with a broader consideration, flashes away from our memories in a second and leaves us only with an accounting of more positive traits.

But door knobs don't offer up any interesting conversation or laughter. We don't typically love our door knobs like we love our wives. As we like to say: they have one job. (The door knobs, that is.)

Anyway, it appears that I purchased right-handed knobs and put them on the left. The curve typically goes the other way. I don't care, I find them pretty lovable already.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shake a Tail Feather

Back when I was in high school we had a small record player at home--I guess it belonged to my older brother--and I remember putting on a recording of "Sitting on the dock of the bay" by Otis Redding. I played it once, then again, then again, and then I lost track of time. I was hooked on the stuff from that point on: Ray Charles, Little Richard, the Beatles, Sam and Dave.

I was so shy at the time that I could barely put one foot ahead of another without fear of embarrassment. OK, I'm still that shy. But the music still works. It doesn't make me dance--it just makes me want to dance.

My in-laws sent me this one...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Searching for Tile

To get all my ducks in a row for the guest bathroom project, I've been looking at tile samples on the Internet all day, and I found only one tile that held my interest for more than a second, and this one would just be an accent piece. Only one, out of a bazillion. But now that I've looked at it for more than a second, I'm already sick of it and can't imagine what was wrong with me just those few minutes ago.

What I'm looking for is a design that I like and that Cheryl will like, which is not completely impossible to imagine. We have come to an agreement more than once in the past, like that nice painting I got her for her birthday, though she was the one of actually found it to begin with. So there is hope.

In the meantime the search goes on and I am mentally preparing myself to begin the project, starting with a complete gutting of the room. But just to be safe, I'm waiting to gut until after we find the tile.

Also, I tried searching for tile on YouTube. Here's the best they have (not much help).