Saturday, July 23, 2011


When I clean around the house, I'm surprised at how much hair I find. In a sink. On a table top. In not-so-little "dust" bunnies of hair on the bathroom floor. It's as if I'm shedding all around the house.

On my desk, loose strands of shed hair, and a sprinkling of dandruff. I'm shedding. I didn't know I had this much hair to lose. I didn't know I had this much hair to shed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heat Wave

Like much of the nation, we've been hit by stifling heat these past few days. HOT.

I really find it hard to believe I'll miss this next winter, even when it's 20 below.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


It was a month ago that my father died. Peacefully, in his sleep, at home, but quite unexpectedly. It was a month ago today that I unexpectedly made the long drive to the city, to be with my mother and my brother, and to help plan for my father's funeral.

In this past month I've been grieving, and I can't say it feels like any grief I've known before. At first, on some level, the reality of it all wouldn't quite sink in; that lasted maybe a week. Since then memories come back to me, scenes from childhood, flashbacks from years past, and they hit me with all the force of a sudden gut punch. They come unexpected and unbidden, sometimes at the oddest moments. Or a sudden tinge of feeling hovers over me, and I find myself in tears.

People over here in the countryside have been very kind to me, friends and neighbors. Some of them had met my parents in years past when they came over here to visit.

And I phone my Mom, and we talk on the phone, and we cry together. A huge piece of our lives has receded without warning into the past. I thought I had some acquaintance with grieving, but until this past month there were tracts and facets of it that I didn't know at all.

Friday, July 15, 2011


The other evening a young couple, neighbors who live out here in the remote countryside, invited me over for dinner. It was very kind of them-- "neighborly" is the term used in these parts-- and we had a good meal and good conversation, far better than I would've had heating up a can of soup and eating alone in this big old rambling house of mine, as I often do for dinner.

But that's the way people are, out here in deep rural America. Neighborly: this young couple is nothing out of the ordinary in these parts. He's a diesel mechanic, and a damn good one; his parents are my nearest neighbors, down the gravel road from me a ways. When I first moved here twelve years ago, he was around junior high age. Now he and his fiancee will be getting married soon. Time does fly! And as the years pass by, the roots of our lives become interwoven, friend with friend, neighbor with neighbor.

People can sling bloodless abstractions around, talking about the wonders of "community" and whatnot-- generally people who themselves live in some urban neighborhood where they may not even know the names of many of their neighbors. Out here in flyover country it's not a bloodless abstraction. It's not just rhetoric. It's something solid and real. Neighbors. Just as solid and real as rambling conversation around a tiny table in a cramped little kitchen, eating carrots and baked potatoes and meatballs, with a glass of milk at one's elbow.

Twelve years ago I moved here, to a remote and unfrequented area far out into the countryside. Moved here from the big hectic noisy impersonal city. And time and again I find myself thinking that moving here is one of the best things I ever did in my life.

Friday, July 8, 2011

TV Reality

Day before yesterday I headed in to town for some repairs on my Jeep at a car dealership.

While I was waiting in their lobby I saw some morning TV talk show, Baba Wawa and a group of airhead chicks all sitting around and discussing the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial. I hardly ever watch TV, and it really is bizarre to see how dead serious they are, and how they latch onto the most vapid airhead scandal situations as if these "events" are somehow the center of the universe. "Coming up Sunday! An exclusive interview with Jaycee Dugard, how she was kidnaped at age 11 and forced to live in some weirdo's backyard for the next 18 years!" All approached from a breathless "women's perspective" in which life in the suburbs, jokes about new recipes, maudlin tears over one's kids and cute little animals, and heedless high-income consumerism are all unquestioned aspects of The Only Possible Way Of Life That Could Ever Exist.

Like I say, I hardly ever watch TV. I go weeks and even months at a time never turning the damn thing on. So when I do get a glimpse at "TV reality," it really is a jolt. There actually are people who take this circus-house-of-mirrors view of the world seriously?!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


One of the small joys of living out here in the country: I wake up in the morning, and through the open window I can hear all the birds singing.

I'm no expert on birds, I often don't know the species by name or by sight, but in the coolness of the early morning I know them by their song. Some of those same birdsongs I remember hearing through an open window in the morning, visiting my grandparents on their farm back when I was a kid. To this day those birdsongs are imprinted on my memory.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Der Untergang des Abendlandes

Ah yes, I've got my plans for the Fourth of July weekend, and I presume you've got yours. My plans involve, among other things, sitting here in my big rambling old 130 year old house on a gravel road out in deep rural America, fortified with a hip flask of liquor, and hiding in modern air conditioning from a triple digit heat wave.

It was twelve years ago this week that I moved here from the city. Moved here, in part, to get away from the city and the Undergoing of the Eveninglands of failing ailing late-modern America. I was sensing, even as the 90s were drawing to a close, that the declining empire of the USA was playing itself out, and that the day was coming when I'd be better off in a corner of the land where people were still capable and self-sufficient and rooted in God and family and tradition, and mainly geographically well removed from any combustible urban areas.

The past few years it has become more and more evident that my wisdom at the time I moved here was prescient. We are now three years into a deep recession and house-of-cards financial sector with no end in sight, and the only question is whether we will limp along like this indefinitely for years to come, or whether things will head south-- way further south-- fairly suddenly, like a collapsing house of cards, some time not too many years down the road.

If so, I live in a remote and untraveled corner of rural America where people still live by the ancient verities, and they could pretty much feed themselves and heat their homes and defend themselves and keep the lights burning and the machines running all by their own native ingenuity if they had to. And I've become very much a part of the community since I moved here. We will survive. Even if the cities burn. Even if the Evening Lands Go Under. Even if it comes to that, we will do okay.

I return you now to your soporific Fourth of July celebrations already in progress.