onward, onward, onward

marg just called me from home. 3 envelopes from the nicholl foundation. I had her open them: 3 rejections from Round One. depressing yes but further cementing the absolute random nature of (not having) sucess and how you define it. one of those scripts advanced pretty far in a previous yr, netting me an option (which sounds more exciting than it was, if I find myself w/ a surplus of time i'll recount) and one of the other scripts advanced far as well and got me enough attention to get some semi-respectable representation. Both of those scripts are unchanged and now summarily dismissed from the contest. The other one was the one I love most deeply, the most recent, in other words the one upon whom i had rested my hopes, the one i poured my post-tumored self into, the one that might be The One, the ladder up to the light, the hand from the clouds, the Celestial Nudge but no. Nothing. Silence.

It never gets easier, all these rejections, year after year, it just gets more familiar. As marg said (she a breadloaf finalist this yr, but ultimately a rejectant): why do we do this to ourselves? why are we not accountants?
well, neither of us has the stomach to do accounting but it does, on days like this, seem like a blissfully pain-free and oblivious undertaking comparatively speaking.

the answer was not present in the inflection...

went to see finding normal last night
we'd seen it before but about 8 mos ago
and wanted to show the love for the theatrical run.
it's a stunning movie, stark and hopeful both but
dealing w/ people edging away from darkness, or attempting to.

ran into BL in the lobby and walked around NW w/ him for a spell.
turns out he was meeting an old friend of his from college, a friend who came to the premiere on Friday night, a friend who as it happens
has/had a brain tumor. so we got introduced. no greater
social adhesive than a shared horrible experience to get
the conversation off to a lively start. in any case, it
was like a mirror, an echoed response coming back across the
canyon walls, a reminder of the recent-ness of my own diagnosis
(a mere 2.5 yrs ago) and Sign #22 lately from the Universe to
get to work again on the Book. It also was so strange after
seeing this great movie, to see similarities in life, the life
of the recovered and of the returned, of the spared. A similar
bewilderment, a similar admixture of fear, anger, hope.


the kitten goes home

There was fretting, handwringings, uncertainties. Possible futures stretched out in front of us and found us making the space for them as the day went on – will we foster this found kitten until the owner finds him? Will this be a duration of days? Weeks? What if no one claims him? Ever? Then would this be our new cat? How are we supposed to afford it? Can we find a way? What to do? What to do?

We hatched a plan to place him. Some friends got the hard sell, some the soft but only negatives echoed back: X is allergic, Y has too many cats, Z might one day possibly move in with boyfriend and he doesn’t like cats. Contingency plans collapsed, back-ups foundered.

M registered kitten on the Oreg Humane Society. I posted on craigslist. Meantime, that night we’d bring some flyers down to the school field where we found kitten and keep fingers crossed.

Margaret got home first. Woody, as we’d christened him, was glad to see her, bouncing and purring and eating and yes, bouncing. His enthusiasm hadn’t ebbed by the time I got there. He was impossibly cute and the multiple futures and their inherent choices lay in front of us like fingers of spreading rivers. Rather than drown in them, it was time to walk Maxwell. We headed back to the field where we found Woody and began to put up flyers. We stapled probably a dozen flyers throughout neighborhood as we walked Max. Visions of driving by months later, the weather-beaten flyer still tacked there flashed through me. Would this be that?

But, impossibly, we got the call moments after returning home: I think that’s my kitten.

The reunion is sweet, edged with relief from both parties. A brand new kitten. So brand new as to not yet have a collar. A sleepless night. Just as we’re standing there a neighbor power-walking passes us and chimes in “oh, you found him! Good. He was so worried” and then continues up the street, as if she was an extra, timed into the shot perfectly, the moon emerging overhead in the blue sky. We leave armed with unnecessary gifts – wine, Belgian ale – tokens of gratitude, and spend the rest of the night trying to determine if we did the right thing or not? Should we have just left him there in the field? Look at the strife and headache we created. What was the point of all that? But we would do it again if necessary.

Later, over glasses of wine at a wine bar on Stark, outside and looking up the street, the midnight blue-hued sky, the lights from a marquee, the fist-fight spilling out of a bar across the street, conversation of life, death, brain tumors, friends, ex-friends, and what (not) to do when you find a lost kitten. We are so happy to live in Portland and we are so happy to be alive.


the kitten arrives

so we walked max later than usual last night.
we stayed downtown to watch bands play at city hall for pdx pop
then rode our bikes to the co-op for coffee and beer
and then rode home. it was dusky twilight when we finally got to the school field and played ball w/ max. and that's when we saw him, a frisky kit
who seemed a little skinny and had no tags but was cute. what to do? what should we do? we brought him home


homeowning, joy's of - concluded

so, if you've been following along,
margaret and i capped the sprinkler system. you can see the
video of that below if you're so inclined. we have been
getting our water - since the lawnmower incident - from
a temporary line that was put in by a Water Bureau employee
and when i say temporary line, i mean a hose that runs from
the meter box at the curb over the sidewalk and across our lawn
into an outdoor spigot, which has been closed off to allow
water to enter into our house.

since the entire ordeal was stressful and further since we did the work
ourselves w/ no plumber involved and further yet since the last time
we did the work it necessitated calling the Water Bureau back out b/c the employee
who came to check determined that we had not capped properly (which was in fact the case since when the water was turned on at the street water sprayed into the yard from under the cap) left our water off but took the temporary line (!)
necessitating us calling the after hours Water Bureau crew back and dealing w/ a crusty dispatcher who eventually sent us the guy who put our temporary in in the first place, etc etc --- we were nervous about having the temporary taken away.
But you can't live all your life w/ a hose running across your yard and sometimes you just have to step up and put in the call. Yesterday afternoon, I put in that call
and we returned home that night - margaret went to yoga so she picked me up - somewhat trepidatious about how it would go.

Sure enough, when we pulled up the hose was gone. The temporary was out.
We set our groceries on the table and went to the basement to turn the main water valve on. We ran up to the tub to run the water for a couple minutes, to let all the sediments and whatnots drain out. We turned the knob. Water.

Gushing beautiful flowing water! Lush and potent and gushing and signalling an end to this chapter of homeowning, to this cruel initiation and rite of passage and ha ha we made it through okay and...wait...wait a second, water slowing, water slowing, it's trickling, now it's just dripping. okay, it's almost stopped.

We must be doing something wrong. Take it easy. No big deal.

Back to the basement. The valve closed and reopened. A variety of sinks tried.

Same thing. Only a trickle.

Baffled and befuddled we trundle to the curb, toss up the meter box and - armed w/ screwdriver and crescent wrench - turn the meter. Maybe they left it turned off? Maybe that's the way they do it? We run back in, trying all variety of combination of street meter and main valve in basement and this sink and that sink etc etc etc but nothing is working. Our hearts are sinking into a swell of frustration, aided in part by our cat tearing through plastic to eat the tops of several slices of bread in a recently purchased loaf that didn't get put away b/c of the water drama. What cat eats breads?

Margaret phones the water bureau to see if maybe we're doing something wrong. The same crusty dispatcher answers. He has limited concern and patience for our mini-drama, clearly not interested in sending someone out but after several back and forths and have you tried that's and is your main valve on he reaches his breaking point and submits to send someone. He takes down our address. Wait. Wait a second. Are you near Powell? We are. A truck hit a fire hydrant at powell. There's no water for anyone near there. It'll be hours until the water is restored.

Ha ha ha, we laugh as we walk Maxwell through the neighborhood, down to the park, what are the chances on the day we call to have the temporary taken away that there's some water casualty in the neighborhood and we have water we just can't get to it yet? Ha ha! Just our luck. A continued part of the lesson plan. No big deal. Nothing to fret about. We'll wake up tomorrow morning and I'll go out to the curb and turn the meter on and we'll have our glorious water. Everything will be just fine
and so why don't we go get dinner after we drop maxwell off and...wait...wait a second....

As we're walking up the hill, back home, we see a Water Bureau truck pulling up. Impossibly it's the same guy who has been out twice before to our house. Yep, it's him, getting out of the truck just as we're at the front of our house. Hey man, we say, HA HA we just talked to your dispatcher and he shouldn't have sent you out. But you don't have water, he says. No, no we say, it's okay, there's that accident on Powell so our water's shut down in the neighborhood. That accident has nothing to do with you guys he says. It doesn't? No, you're nowhere near that accident. There's something else the matter. There's something else wrong. Now why don't you tell me exactly what happened when you got home. A vague sense of something bad is flashing through us. Something bad is coming.

We tell him exactly what we did when we got home. This valve, that sink, this meter. Hmm he says as he takes his instrument and turns on the meter forcefully and asks us to run inside and try the water now. We do. Same thing. A trickle.

Back outside. Uh-oh he says. This could be bad.
Bad? Bad how?
There's a plug somewhere in the line. It could be anywhere. He thinks. He thinks. He's reaching the bottom of his bag of magic tricks, the point in the transaction where you have to hand off the problem to another person or agency. Wait. Let me try something.

moments later, armed with a cache of plumbing instruments and pipings, he has rigged a hose to blow backward through our line - the idea being that whatever sediment/mud/whatever is clogging it will get flushed out. If this doesn't work you'll need to call Risk Managment and see if they'll pay for any/all of your troubles. This triggers an image in my mind, the bloat of City bureacracy and endless forms in triplicate and no end in sight but before i let despair in I think, why not wait and see if this works, this crazy jerry-rigged backwards waterline blow-out thing. It..just..might..work!

My man is ready to go. A valve is turned, some water is ejected. But no plug. No.
No. Nope. It did not work. No, it did not. The ship has left the shore, the door has closed, hope a mere indulgence. Visions of an uprooted yard and endless phone calls come to roost on our shoulders like black crows. A new line will have to be put in. A plumber will have to be called. Money will have to be minted to help us cross this vaccuum, this abyss, this inky black endless swamp that i created w/ my careless mowing, my thoughtless clomping across the yard. Tiny black seeds inside me are sprouting depression as...

He is not ready to go.

He asks to come inside and look at the basement. Seconds later
we are standing down there. He is looking at the main valve. Thinking. He is looking at the main valve where the pipe comes from outside and curves down in an S shape at
the handle. Suddenly, without warning, he knocks on the pipe at the S with a few sturdy clangs of a crescent wrench and we both hear it, he and i: the water flowing though the house.


more random spray

that last post got me thinking about the wknd and all the crap
we managed to do --
i am struggling to recall it all
(note: note b/c it's inherently interesting or anything b/c i don't believe that it is)
fri, had K & A over to the house for thai food that they brought over
sat am, we walked to R & K's house for breakfast, then
walked home, then went up to bamboo fest in hoyt arboretum
to get some tips on how to manage the bamboo we bought last wknd
but which turned out to be a gaggle of people standing under
a pavillion muttering and handing out pamphlets
but we skirted the arboretum and that was good.
[note: that trip has a whole sub-story about the zoo parking lot
being closed and us parking way out of the way and taking the shuttle bus in and getting off in washington park but eventually - not having been to the arboretum before - realizing we were far from the bamboo festival and getting back on the shuttle bus all the way back to the parking lot and getting back into the car and driving back into washington park past where the shuttle bus had stopped at the zoo to let us out and taking a serpentine road all the way to the top]

i got haircut at new place, which wouldn't warrant
a mention except it was so great. also, since we were catsitting
for C & J, margaret just walked over to their place whilst i
got my hairs cut. after that we went to laughing planet in our old hood
and saw old neighbor next door. we asked how new tenants were and she said 'kind of noisy' which we laughed at since our old neighbors were prone to lighting
firecrackers for any/all occasion and blasting music and for the one late-night
fight when the guy was yelling at his friend to 'go ahead and shoot me, do it' etc.

oh, we went to library and then to storables in nw to buy rolling cart like we had seen at R & K's at breakfast. 200$ later... that night marg did moon lodge while i
depressedly flipped thru some channels, watching a few moments of COPS. Later we watched Primer, several yrs old, which was utterly confusing and baffling and spectacularly awesome.

then over to Sunday AM which i discussed in prev post. had to leave true brew to get home b/c a photographer from a local publication was supposed to come over or contact me and/or photograph me. we waited a bit but no one called so i proceeded to do the grass and the weeding. eventually photog came. as did my parents, dropping by unannounced and quite stunned i'm sure to see their lazy son in the yard working.

that night went to dinner at new place in montavilla w/ D & L. We convinced L to come down to arcata for wedding next month and they convinced us to go to doug fir to see adam franklin. good times indeed

ooh, forgot to mention that the book - our book! - long ballyhooed and much discussed but with little action on our part has moved from the backburner, where it had been aging and marinating and ripening, to the frontburner, w/ some
good ideas on both of our parts as to both approach and execution. we had thought it would be done by now but no, it needed more time. For the longest duration it was nearly impossible to get our fingers around it, too slippery to even discuss: 2 different narrators reflecting on the same event(s). where does my voice come in and where does margarets? how is the book structured? trade chapters? paragraphs? and what of the whole visual component of things, important to both of us? how would that relate to the text? just discussing it among the 2 of us became impossible
and - aided by the depressing nature of the subject and the busy-ness of our lives the past yr - we found ways to not work on the book. anyways, which brings it all full-circle as i had a great semi-breakthrough idea for the book sunday morning
as i was laying in a chair getting acupuncture.

the end

random spray

been doing acupuncture lately, or rather i've done it the past 2
wks. quite simple and relaxing and, due to their sliding scale, affordable.
went on Sunday AM while marg was at yoga. afterwards
we spent a little time at True Brew in our old hood, hanging out
w/ R and catching up. afterwards,
i went home and mowed the grass and weeded.
it was a strangely satisfying experience and i've had gardening on the
mind lately, ever since we moved in to house.
don't know what it means, except that i must be aging.

been thinking about/missing japan lately. found this pic of the silver pavillion in kyoto



been a little behind the updating of events of late. no surprise there I suppose
but a lot has been going on. a couple wks ago we went back to ocean-haven
and stayed at our favorite place.
the plan was a vacation. that’s it. no musts or shoulds or
have to’s.
might sound ridiculous since we’d just been
to europe but traveling is diff from vacation.
the weather was stunning and tremendous.
we ate at both yuzen & landmark again.
hiked up to cape perpetua again.
drank wine out under the starscape again.
a word popped up over the wknd that I’m still grapppling w/: transmutation.
more on that in the coming year(s)


homeowning, joys of - part 3

sipes is our friend who knows things about houses and we’ve called upon him say 100 times since we’ve moved in for questions about this or that or this or that
so we were hesitant to go straight to him in
this instance but what choice did we have?
he came over.
snipped the sprinkler head off and capped it

problem done.
all we had to do was let it dry for 24 hrs and
have the water bureau come to take away their temporary line

us at home the next Tues, awaiting the water bureau. they want us
to be home when they come just in case there is any issue and they have to turn the water off. they don’t come.

WED am. no show. I go to work assuming they’ll come that night.

WED PM. margaret has bicycled home and is hot and sweaty and in
need of a shower that she cannot take b/c the water
bureau has come when we were not home and turned the
water to the house back on and realized that the sprinkler head
was still leaking so they turned our water off and took
away the temporary line, leaving us with no water on the
night before a holiday that’s supposed to reach 90 degrees. margaret is not that joyous. nor am i. we don’t know what to do.

I call the main water bureau dispatch line. tell him what happened.
he does not appear to care and tells me I’ll need to get a plumber
to fix the problem before the water is turned back on. I tell margaret this. She does not accept it and calls the guy back. “Yeah, I just talked
with your husband” he says, grumbling at her as he eventually
capitulates. They will send someone back out but they have
a VERY busy night and it may be HOURS and HOURS b/c
there are higher priorities ahead of us.

When I get home I got out to the street and turn the water on
and sure enough water starts spraying from under the cap we put on the sprinkler. we didn’t cut down far enough in our haste. there’s nothing we can do about it now b/c it involves taking out a coupling
which is involved and beyond my skill set.

a couple hours later, a guy shows up and it turns out it’s the
first guy who helped us out on Sunday. He says no one can
believe that the other guy took away our temporary water. “Who would do that?” he asks sincerely. We do not know. We are as befuddled as he. but we now have water. we can take showers.
but we don’t. we get dressed and head out to have dinner
w/ sipes and his folks who are in town. we will shower later.



homeowning, joys of - part 2

so margaret and i return home, armed w/ all the
possible equipments we'll need
and a vague sense of what it is we're to do.
since we could care less about having a sprinkler system
(sorry dad) and since we
cannot find the shutoff valve,
despite the previous owner telling us that they
installed one. we've elected to
cap the leak. this is as opposed to installing a shutoff
valve ourselves. this is - we understand -
the path of least resistence.
this will make our sprinkler un-usable but it will stem the
rising tide of grass and mud and let us return to our lives
of quiet dissatisfaction and box-unpackings.

all we need to do is dig down a couple feet to find the T
where the sprinkler line meets the main line from the street,
use a hacksaw to cut the pvc off, apply some
adhesive onto a pvc cap, apply the cap and let it dry.
then we'll call the water bureau 24 hrs later, have them
take away the temporary line and hook us back up.
problem, solution. nice. easy.

2 hrs later. our hands are calloused and sore. our necks
are red and sizzled. our demeanors are approaching joyless.
we've dug up a sizable portion of the yard, following
the pvc piping, looking for the T but nothing, no hint
or sign, only more pvc snaking underground. we've gone past
all the logical points for the pipe to come in.

it is time to call sipes



homeowning, joys of

so we've been adrift, awash in boxes and bookshelves and
things that look good in one corner for a few hours and
then need to get moved and an out of tune piano
and the pets who still are adjusting. in the middle
of all that/this chaos is the grass, uncut for so long
that we now must be the talk over coffee on our street,
the new neighbors whose yard looks like crap
dandelions sprouting.
the catch: even if i wanted to mow the lawn
the mower is locked up in our new shed the keys to which
i wks ago misplaced or set down or tossed haphazardly into
a box or shelf that i cannot find any longer.

Sunday 10 AM. W/ Margaret away for a couple hrs to do yoga
i figure i can score some husbandly points for taking the initiative to
cut the grass. I call brian and cheryl and borrow their push mower.
i walk it back to the house.
it works real good but it only takes a few minutes for me to realize
that the lawn is too far gone. the push mower can't handle the
dandelion stalks and the sun is beating down already.

moments later. I am unscrewing the hinges from the door to the shed
to extract the lawnmower. It takes a bit of exertion but
i manage it. the lawnmower is free, sitting on the driveway.
and there's gas in it. but will it start?

moments later. it started. I am mowing the lawn. i will be done with this
in a few moments. margaret will come home and maybe
we can go for a hike up mt tabor and then go to breakfast? no, maybe
we can ride our bikes to breakfast somewhere and spend the
day in leisurely fashion: some lounging, some reading, some more unpacking, easing into our status as homeowners on this, the 4wk anniversary of us moving in.
one half of the front yd is done and i cross the path that leads
to our front door and begin to mow the other half. I push
the mower alongside the tall grass that shoots along the brick
siding at the front of the house and that's when it happens:

i blindly slam the mower into an unseen sprinkler head.

a moment.


not a light spray or mist (as the word sprinkler might suggest)
but a steady rising mass, spreading up from some unknown
depth, spreading across the lawn,
paralysis. i stare. it's running down the walkway into the street.
not drops of water
but an insistent gurgling organism, spreading. moving. growing.
what to do?
who to call and what dollar figure is attached to what phone number?

mad scrambling ensues, a dash for some type of handle or valve or person
to stem the flow but nothing comes. nothing works

margaret calling on the phone. not now i say

margaret coming home

us trying to turn water off at the street, the meter spinning and spinning
as gallon after gallon goes. we don't have the right tool.
we don't know what we're doing. we are freaking out.

Water Bureau emergency employee pulls up in his truck. laughs when
i tell him what i did b/c he's done the same thing recently. turns the water off
at the street. gives us some advice for fixing problem. sets up temporary line
so that we can have water until problem is fixed. He is a life-saver. don't let it ruin your sunday he says

margaret and i later, at genies having breakfast and coffee. it is 3pm.
we will go to hardware store. we will buy 3/4 inch cap for pvc and
a shovel and some adheseive. we already have a hacksaw. we will go home
and dig a trench until we find the T where the line from the street meets w/
the sprinkler line. we know more than we did an hour ago but not as much as two days later