Sunday, August 29, 2010

We Have a Skunk

I'm listening to Prairie Home Companion on the radio and eating a Red Baron Supreme with a Riesling from Washington State. The frozen pizza was left behind by recently departed housemate. I have practically eaten the whole goddamn thing. The wine is mine, I opened it four days ago.

Yesterday morning after yoga I sat at a window seat at Rendezvous cafe facing Mountain Sports formerly Mission Ice Cream (See view from Mountain Sports formerly MIssion Ice Cream).

Yoga was tough, newcomers like me get to do it for free, breathing was tough too, high altitude and whatnot, I was hyperventilating like a frightened rabbit. The neat thing about going to Rendezvous Cafe afterwards was that I was fantasizing about going there during some grueling routines and now there I was there!!! Chair was hard on my tush, but the coffee was nice and they were playing some attention-grabbing drone rock I just had to ask the lady who it was.

Soon after there came a yell from across the bar, "Smashing Pumpkins!" Looking back I think I'll stop asking waitresses what music they're playing because every time it's something embarrassing that I end up regretting. I should have yelled back "never heard of them!" and hunched over my bagel like a creepy weird guy. It was Cheers compared to the joint I went to after my English Department orientation. Got treated by a second-class citizen by the bartender even though the place was empty. Arrogant bastard. Tellingly, that's what I had ordered, an arrogant bastard ale and thankfully it was delicious.

Eng Dept orientation went well. All my professors are mad about Australia and my Aussie accent, curiously enough. I've decided to go full Aussie like Kirk in Tropic Thunder goes full retard. Said goodbye to one of my professors, a doctor, whilst I discussed Ivy Compton-Burnett with a Brit Lit major and then I lost my train of thought talking to the Lit major wondering whether that was a cross look the professor gave me for calling her by her first name.

I stepped in what I'm pretty sure is skunk guano earlier today. There was a big mess of it in the driveway. You probably think it smells worse than any other kind out there on account of it being from le skunky pew. I'm here to tell you that it is not that bad (closer to tar seemingly), but even so, you don't want to be dragging it into your room like I did.

The skunk nearly opened its odious glands on Doris' cat Laurie last Saturday night. Out on the balcony, I saw its fluffy white plumage sprouting amongst the bushweeds. Knowing Laurie was out there, I panicked a little. Doris was in Tucson. What if the cat showed up at the back door covered in awful goo, barfing. I would have to call Doris and tell her that I had disowned the revolting creature. She's an inquisitive cat. A confrontation was inevitable. The skunk waddled over to a small pine tree, Laurie launched herself at the white and black stink machine and the skunk hissed back, the cat sauntered off. That was one discrete deployer of its own stink. If I was a skunk I'd stain the suburb in rancid funk for simply something to du.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Moods of Flagstaff

I'm presently deprived of a certain level of urbanity that Susan (Hepburn's character) brings to Bringing Up Baby. Puts me in a funny mood. I like it. It's on TV.

Today third day in Flagstaff and attacked by more mood swings. Sent the department a terse email about desperately needing financial help, probably not the most tactful, but I was getting weirded out about getting severely in the hole. Read Knut Hamsun's Mysteries as a distraction. Brilliant.

I shipped boxes and flew Alaska, which is quicker than driving. Boxes arrived before I did, which makes sense when you learn I left five days after the boxes did. Opened the box that my stereo was in and it was crushed, not the box, but the stereo. Complained to Greyhound, who expressed no sympathy, they faxed the form to the claims manager who is yet to get in touch.

House is roomy and quiet when I'm not playing tunes. Housemate Doris knows Swedish interprets Dungen lyrics and enjoyed the Chills' Kaleidoscope World when I played it earlier. Other housemate works at a bank and drinks Muscle Milk. Drives a Pontiac sports car, a contemporary Fiero, I presume. He said he'll take me for a spin when he gets back from Palm Springs next week. He had nothing to do with me moving in.

The open-plan living area is kind of angular, ceilings vaulted with pueblo-like curved render and a fancy corner fireplace that will be a treat in winter when there's snow up to our eyelashes. The neighborhood and surrounding village are alarmingly suburban, but perhaps useful for perverse prose ideas. Technically two miles from campus, but there's a raw psychological distance that's presently unnerving, but won't be for long once bike is operational.

Still acquiring home essentials: bought and assembled a bed today, bought and tapped a half gallon of dry gin ($14.97), picked up a reading lamp, two white storage cubes from Target, 500 q-tips, a scroll of bog-standard dental floss, a butterscotch plastic crate, one quart of tonic water. Bike arrived in its box today from HIllsboro (appears undamaged) and I put that together too (tire needs air and the chain is still off).

Some of you will be pleased to know I have expanded my diet beyond zucchini bread and hardboiled eggs. A local salmonella outbreak has people literally walking on eggshells made of scrambled tofu. Me and the Pontiac-driving housemate bbq'd some sirloin last night. He ragged on the jalapeno relish I bought and deservedly so, as it was a tad underwhelming. After a few beers, he read out a ten page paper he wrote on gender bias in the workplace.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Animal Magnetism

I left the house on foot which is an interesting story in itself because mostly I take my bike. But due to complications for the life of me I am unable to articulate at this time, I walked down sunny Airport Road (named that because if you keep going you'll get the next flight to Des Moines). Thought to myself, it's good to get out of the house every once in a while.

Immediately came in contact with a squirrel who asked for whatever snacks I was carrying. When I said I didn't carry any snacks, he dashed. Moving on, I wondered why my parents never moved to the country. Dad needs his golf and I understand the country has plenty of those, but he also needs a more diverse social network, of which we all know the beach (where they spend most weekends) only has one and its transient and full of bums. Country likely to drive them equally insane. Meanwhile Mom, she shops till she drops. Impulsively too. She sprang up and bolted for Home Depot at quarter to nine last night. Dad had no idea where she went. She came home later and boasted of six rolls of packing tape for twelve bucks. Rocking the suburbs.

I myself like the excellent reserve located opposite Costco where I consider it good luck if I spot a red-winged blackbird or a great blue heron. Lately I've been bickering to myself about the dearth of lucky sightings, only had one this summer. With this occupying my mind, I saw a deer coming out of Costco and entering the glade on the right.

I sat cross-legged under the canopy of a big pine tree and observed the youngster. The deer, perhaps a teen, with velvet knobs protruding from its head, was relaxed enough to munch on some weeds, while I sat astonished that the venison backstrap I had eaten over at Dirk's the night before didn't morally outrage my tum-tum and cause me to quiver. Curious, the deer started towards me. It came within fifteen feet. I made a note. “I can't tell you how immensely curious this creature is. Can't say it's operating with a full deck. It's just so damned inquisitive, a characteristic I didn't think deers could afford to have. Fans from an industrial plant whir in the forefront.” The doe ran back to Costco when I tried to feed her some blackberries I had picked especially for her. Hungry for another cheese and wienie sampler, I presumed. A bit breathless I sat down at a park bench inside the reserve, while a vulture and a helicopter competed for airspace above. I thought a lot about my animal magnetism after this deer almost jumped me.

There's a letter in this month's Vanity Fair responding to an article by Christopher Hitchen's entitled Martin, Margaret and Me. The Martin of course is Mr. Amis. Yet to investigate who this Margaret is; at a guess I'd say Mitchell who authored Gone with the Wind. Not actually sure if the reader read the article because all she mentioned was the photo spread, Amis' gaze, his animal magnetism. His gaze is just like Byron's, she writes, as if she went to school with Byron or something. I once remarked at a party with a cat on my lap that lately cat's have been curiously drawn to me. I said this with utmost sincerity, of course, and of course one of Sean's friends dismissed it as a sly pick-up line because I'm a sensitive guy.

Normally I take my iPOD on these critter-watching expeditions; a half-arsed foray if there ever was one. Imagine Jim Harrison, whose brilliant memoir Off to the Side I just finished, taking his iPOD with him on a hunt. It'd never happen. Harrison loves the sound of the wild and so do I, to a certain degree, but sooner or later, I'd want to pump Pavement through the Sequoias at full volume. I suppose this fact makes me a city boy. I must say I rather liked visiting the reserve without my iPOD. I had it in my pocket but never played it.

In addition to the blackbirds and heron, I'm also fond of an ugly white carp with a peachy face who feeds on the pond's bottom. I rarely see it; been tracking the ole boy for weeks now, the time I did see it, he followed me around the pond magnetically.

After the deer run-in, I walked to the pond and came down to a sunny opening between the reeds and looked to my left, and lo and behold, the magnificent black splotches and white silvery scales of the elusive carp! What a vision! At the same time rather chilling too. Did Melville have this palate in mind? I watched it for twenty minutes slithering through the mossy caverns, disappearing and then its silver body would become visible through the dirty brown weeds once again. It followed me around the pond, probably not enough for me to say I was truly magnetic, but there was something pretty special going on there between us for at least ten feet or so.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Letter to the Editor

Thanks to Seaside police

A public thank you to the Seaside Police Department. I was digging clams on the beach when I lost my hearing aid. I thought that was the end of that and would have to replace it.

We returned home Wednesday and my wife received a call from the Seaside Police Department and was told a gentleman found it on the beach and turned it in. Dispatcher Andrea Toombs went out of her way to contact the manufacturer of the aid, learned my identity through the serial number, contacted the retailer to find my address and mailed the hearing aid to me!

I received it today and it works fine. Andrea is truly a credit to the Seaside Police Department and a fine reflection of the community of seaside.

Richard D
Lake Oswego, Ore.