Figs and Pomegranates

Termites make didgeridoos but they can't play them.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Boots, boats, backpacks and cats. A sandwich.

Raw feed, a new time carved from the day between the work and the swaddling of infants. God bless the wife who sleeps briefly. God bless the son not kvetching.

The word, dusted off. I wish I had a typewriter, something metal and mechanical I could dust off, huff at and beat at, something with weight, occupying certain space. Rough-edged black animals swarming on hairy white pages! Letters used to cut into the page, a bite, a snap, a commitment, a failure difficult to ignore.

I have a cat though and sometimes a cat is just as good, hairy anyway, and verbose. Unfortunately, I have 3 cats and a dog (the having of) which leaves little room for the word under all the fur. The puke. The shit. The stained wood and shredded wood and piss-bleached wood. The word the word, the forgiving word. Waiting for the baby to cry and wedging words in the spaces between silences. Failing miserably but at least feeling the noise. It’s a nice feeling in your hands to get words down, to let them go, set them loose into the wild to do horrible, embarrassing things.

It’s going to be hard to worry about the dead all the time now that I’ve got a baby, new life around. A new past to watch getting laid down. I’m out of my element.

Maybe I should be writing about soap. I love soap. How much can you say about soap though?

There’s all the things I feel I should be writing about: things that keep me up at night, equality and race and rights of variously oriented people, and justice and evolution and pillage and how horribly off track we’ve all gotten, and positive things: the baby and the baby and why have a baby and what else matters but a baby and shouldn’t I be worried about the devastation my baby’s diapers are causing and baby baby baby baby, but even in there there’s an interesting conversation for me and him to have about our genes and our history and the names of the things that creep and grow and flourish upon the earth.

There’s the other things I should be writing about like fat and psoriasis and dog shit and bathroom fans still uninstalled and check engine lights and the lingering reek of ghosts. Something tells me, though, that what would really be the shit, the thing, the funky goat dancer’s new pants about which to write is: great sandwiches I have known. There have been a few. Actually I have only known two but I sincerely wish there had been more. I don’t know that sandwiches need to be divided into categories but one might do so. For instance: sandwiches are sometimes made at home, sometimes by you and sometimes for you. Sandwiches are sometimes eaten out. These classes of sandwich inhabit totally different spiritual spaces within one. I suppose too there’s a whole panoply of lesser sandwiches worthy of remembrance, the kind which make your heart and throat warm but fail to recall a business address or the friend or lover you with whom you ate them. I can think of grilled cheeses, or at least of gleaming, erupting fractions of grilled cheeses which match this bill. There were grilled cheeses in the middle of the night at Mickey’s but I couldn’t say which one, I know though that Rick was cooking. There were grilled cheeses that I made for others, some bastard lucky enough to catch me with a clean grill, not too hot, soft butter and enough time and patience to pay attention for three minutes. That son of a bitch got the best grilled cheese of his life. Those don’t come around very often but sometimes more often than you’d think. I could write about that, even just that last grilled cheese, but that would take a while and who the fuck would want to read it? Eat it instead.

On the other hand, maybe I’ll put out a chapbook showcasing great sandwiches I have known. I’m so wordy it will run 5,000 pages and begin on some cold, dark fucking forgotten island in Denmark a hundred years ago. It will include a pictorial life history of the pig as a food factory. Smokehouse and tomatoes, grocer’s wilted lettuce. There may be pictures of sandwiches. There will undoubtedly be pictures of women. And boats. And boots. And cats. Boots, boats, backpacks and cats. A chapbook for you. About sandwiches.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Charlie Murphy

Baby Quilt

With some luck I might finish this before our baby is born. I really should have machine-quilted it as the design and piece work is what I enjoy doing anyway.

Wacky blue exposure. Inaccurate, but I like it.

We don't know if we are having a boy or a girl so don't read anything into the color. Actually, I suppose you could, but not about the gender of the baby, rather about the fabric donors. My father, my uncle and me. Much of the fabric for this came from a seersucker suit my father gave me when I was in high school. Needless to say, it no longer fits. The blue and white dress shirts, how I saw him clothed everyday for two decades--not to say he wore much white. Actually he was more likely to wear pink, but that would be a different quilt I think. I admit some of the Oxford cloth came from fat quarters I bought but the evocation for me is the same. The medium blue fabric may have been hand-dyed by my uncle, or it might have been from and irregular lot. In any case, there was no repeat. It was fabric he had packed away, presumably waiting for the right project to come along. So, another memorial piece. One to be thrown-up upon.

Medicine Cabinet

Finished and mounted the medicine cabinet to match the base. It's all a bit much in a small bathroom, but what the hell.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More installments on the gypsy hut.

I finally finished our bathroom vanity. It is modeled after an Indian bowl Mary bought at Target. Of course, we also wanted it to connect to her bedroom furniture Despite the fact that it took a ridiculously long time to finish, with being distracted by various things, I actually rushed the painting a bit.

This also was the first time I've tried doing a mosaic. Would do several things differently and suspect that if there were a subsequent attempt it would go much faster. Still, I enjoyed the process a lot and am ok with the result. The tile was purchased at Mosaic on a Stick, a great shop on Snelling Ave.
Above was the top while being sealed. Below is a closeup of a door.

There's something strange about the scale of the parts of this thing, the faucet for instance. But, as I told Mary, if we get sick of it, next spring we will have a very cool birdbath.

I'm working on a matching medicine cabinet which will be done, hopefully, in a few days. I still need to pull cable for lights and the fan too...

Monday, May 19, 2008

23 Things on a Stick

23 Things on a Stick is a statewide, Minnesota library learning project for which I sit at work and get paid to blog, but not here, here. The intent is to get library staff more digitally savvy about so-called Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 issues. I'm not sure if the point is to explore how user-generated and modified content is changing how information is stored and accessed, or just to be knowledgeable about services our patrons might be using or might need help with. Both I suppose. I don't have to participate, but it's an excuse to learn new things about familiar web apps, or perhaps to think about them critically or philosophically for the first time. I will find it a challenge to blog in complete sentences and organized paragraphs. I will find it a challenge to revisit my prejudicial assumptions about things like Facebook and Twitter (23 Things is especially big on the social aspect of Web 2.o, if that doesn't sound redundant). Given that I am one of the least social people I know, it should be an interesting experience. I am already surprised to find that Twitter is kind of fun.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What's a Decade to Me?

Here is a quilt I put away without finishing over ten years ago. For one reason and six hundred others it never came out again, but then it did. I pulled it out recently--to me recently means six months ago--and was plugging away at it. Even more recently, like two nights ago, a cat--the same one in this picture--puked on it. So, the upside is that now I know the brilliantly gold African fabrics I forgot to set/wash before using didn't run after all.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thinking of Spring and Memorials and Things

Soon. Well, maybe not that soon. The above is spiderwort from last June, so I guess you could say it's already come and gone. But the sun is confident now and leaning into us, a whole different god from high January, and, even in Minnesota, a brisk walk brings Spring sweat and the dream-taste of pre-pubescent pollen.

Also a year, or more, I can't even remember, late. This dresser I painted for Mary. I haven't yet been able to take a picture I like so I haven't bothered sharing. I finally decided I don't care and so here they are. The light is the problem. I should have dragged these outside before I put Mary's clothes into them and taken proper pictures then, eh. Oh well. These were a vanity and a nice tall dresser which belonged to her maternal grandmother who passed away this past year. No one wanted them but Mary and Mary wasn't so sure. Unfortunately, when they got into our house they began to emanate a particularly strong odor of old cigarette smoke. Long story short, several different attempts at cleaning and various existing insults of time had left them in such a condition that they were scheduled to be junked. Then, one day in Target's so called global bazaar Mary and I are walking and she indicates a certain painted piece and says, "Could you do that?" And so I did, or something like it. I really do like these a lot better in person than in these photos. There is a warmth to them, a richness which we really wanted, both for aesthetic reasons--I mean simple decorating reasons--but also because they represent a tangible link with her grandmother. Handling a drawer pull day after day that another's hand has handled day after day, one wants to honor that life and memory even if in such a prosaic way as in storing one's socks. The colors and graphic choices were meant to reflect Mary's interest in Indian decorative art as well as her grandmother's Swedish nature. Also, I couldn't help thinking of Mary's strong interest in tattoos and tattoo art in general. Finally, though it might sound kind of weird, for much of the painting process, which was more ritualistic and repetitive than intellectually creative, I found myself praying. It didn't seem like a bad idea at the time and so, one way or the other, I found myself considering these to be memorial celebrations.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Spring thoughts from last fall

Twelve days till the vernal equinox. I think. The light's coming back. It's been about a year since I quit smoking. Still several inches of snow on the ground but I dreamed last night of a flowering plum, an erupting column of small pink blossoms. Goldfinches this morning were still stripping seeds from last year's Agastache foeniculum, which always makes me glad I don't give-in to the pressure to "clean-up" everything in the fall. In any case, as always, I find myself moving very slowly. In thinking about latent heat and lingering summer sun versus the fleeting and reflected light of late winter despite the same day length, I remembered scratching out the following journal bits last fall. Since I last posted in September, it seemed appropriate to pick up there.


Here I am, a stick of incense, Tara, good stuff, bouncing between my lips. You do strange things after you quit smoking. I admit it’s been a while—6 months!--but I would still kill you and your sister’s chinchilla for a guilt free smoke.

This fall, the light is the thing. Shouldn’t be yet--it isn’t fall, but the low angles know. There is a way to worship light, with closed eyes and cold feet, stars bursting on retinas. With wet, shining black stones, bluegill farts and first cups of coffee, weathered, first-cut lumber and fish shadows. Long shadows of ash handles, wheelbarrows and the legs of a child, their slightly darker, gray silhouettes over gray gravel crunching, rolled sock tops and bowl cuts, there in the light it will be burned forever. The thin, long shadow of my brother, purposeful in jerky human gait along that pea gravel driveway. Watching the glow from behind the blood veil.

Being pushed by this low angle light, bent over and forced close to the earth. There's that sense of stretching out, of grinning, feeling the whole infinite spread of Earth. The sudden, tattered vent feathers of a chipping sparrow, filtering the sky. It is the fall light and the butterflies have gone. It is the time of tiny birds, the fast hot, searing hot hearts, the three toes and the goofy beats, it is time for them to move on. I love it, don’t get me wrong. It is the light of wheat-sheaf Jesus and assorted martyrs, of mothers and manna--heaven-based bake-sales raising money for new harp strings. This is the light from which her neck hairs were woven. The cave light. The light in the womb of no beginning. The pressed curls and nostalgic dew, suddenly rising heat revealed in the sun. But, this too is just the light of a disinterested sun. The light of a gaseous body so far away, it strikes us at a funny angle from time to time and masquerades as God. I do wonder sometimes what was our first God. What was the first concrete abstract worship we committed? Would it have been tipping our face to warmth or smelling the quick-green rush of Earth? Would it have been a full belly or blood-filled loins? I don't know, but I wonder a lot, when it was and what we were loving more than ourselves or if it was just ourselves we've been loving all along. Don't know.

I have a problem with the present, I know. I have a problem. I wonder sometimes if this nostalgic malaise, if this love of things I have known might prove fatal.

That’s the danger, I guess, the danger in knowing, the danger in loving. It might kill you. How will you move on, how can you? You leave behind mysterious pink organs unknown to science. You leave behind honeycombs woven of fish scales shining in dust and draped in daisy chains of cracked coffee cups. You are a blue tile sunrise alive with yellow powder, sweet jasmine powder and lime green polyester, and purple vinyl shoes, too tight, and there again, it was almost fatal. Here comes the earth and here comes the quake and, less distantly, here comes the hot smoke of incense in my eye.

The things I’m in love with are legion. My god, I can’t count the colors and the herbs and the wrinkled petals of crepe, the chevroned grasshopper legs and the soul-chaffed wood and the eucalyptus smoke and the lines that anchor your eyes. What am I supposed to do with the wet wool and the snail slime and the thrilling underside of a displaced alley brick? I even love that hair on your coat from the cat I’ve never met, and how couldn’t I love you for it, and I haven't even met you but I love the bend of your teeth in your sudden smile and bark of a laugh. That’s the steel, the stone, the silly girders. My world and its slightly unconventional building code, its everlasting bricks. All tumbled in a heap.


So much for random thoughts from last fall. I want to look forward to Spring, but this year it feels like waking up before you've had enough sleep and you know you're going to be too fucking tired to do anything well. Anyway, we'll see.