Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Day

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is loping along her wanton path somewhere several hundred miles south and slightly west of us here in RI.  Word is she's supposed to be turning west into New York and New Jersey by now.  It's about 4:45, and her intensity in our little neighborhood has only 'moved up a notch' since I was up on the ladder at 7 a.m. screwing 3/8" plywood over all the fragile old window sash on the front of the house.  I might even say I'm just a mite bit disappointed in the low-level performance of this "Monster Hurricane" we've been hearing about for the last 2 days.  I haven't really been checking in on weather a few hours now, as it's been sort of a quiet and uneventful time here.  We've all whiled away the day sort of hanging out, each of us with our own rendition of "doing nothing".  Been kind of nice actually. 

I watched the first episode of "Battlestar Galactica" on Netflix, after having spent a couple weeks being brought up to speed on the otherwise, to me, incomprehensible story by the entire season of its pilot prequel,"Caprica", which provides a reasonably entertaining back-story.   The original version of "Battlestar" was in fact produced in the 80s, and it's recieved a good deal better production this time around.  The story has also been made a fuller experience with inclusion of the afore-mentioned prequel, and is all together pretty engaging and not so campy at all- the only potential exception being in the ultra-hot, ambitiously blonde Cylon nymph who inhabits the mind of the traitorous human scientist (but I'll concede it's actually an intruiging nudge at what we in our pop-society call "mental illness")... funny I don't remember her character's name...

My wife has been entertaining the piano to facilitate learning her music for choir practice, between visits sitting outside the kitchen door to commune with Sandy's periphery and cooking various food items for us all to browse through the day.  My kids are upstairs playing "Animal Jam" on-line and being checked in on from time to time by their annoying parents.  My elder kid and I took a walk out to the pond earlier today to watch the wind-spirits fly across the surface of the water, look for still-living palm-sized snails, and lean back into the wet gusts of wind. 

So far we haven't had need of any emergency measures or hunker-down sessions.  It's just been a quiet, sort of pleasantly listless day of rest.  I'm almost bored... and quite content with it.  Ah, and now I think I'll go see if  I can dig up that bottle of Moxie I bought yesterday, which seems to have disappeared.  Might be my kids have taken after their old dad. 

And with that I'll sign off, leaving you with the word my friend and band-mate Larry said to me over email early this morning, "Stay dry and vertical".

Thursday, October 25, 2012

On Remaining Misunderstood: Moxie

"On Remaining Misunderstood: Moxie", or, "Musings on the Psychotropic Nature of Obscure Summer Drinks"


I did a shopping run this afternoon, and soda was on the list.  My daughters had a middle school dance to go to and needed to bring soda and chips.  In the soda and chips aisle of our local Stop & Shop I ran across a plastic bottle of "Moxie",  something I hadn't had in, gawd... years... and so I stuck one in the cart.  Not since I was a young kid living at my grandparents' house in Westerly, RI, had I tipped that venerable unlikely-tasting brew over my hapless, resigned taste buds (with all the grim relish of a pre-pubescent would-be Dr. Jekyll).  All these years have gone by since those hazy memories settled into their place in my psyche; how have I just walked by it so many times all these years? 

I got home from the supermarket, my eldest helped me get the loot out of the trunk and we got it all put away.  About an hour or so later the girls and their mother went off to choir rehearsal, and I found I had a quiet moment on my hands for a little Moxie-induced reverie.  I pulled my favorite glass out of the cupboard and poured a sample of the ancient elixir... there was the familiar smell, that fizzy, funky taste ... and in an instant I was transported back to my grandmother's kitchen.  There I was, 6 years old sitting on the red Cosco (tm) step-stool in the corner of the over-sized kitchen under the big wall-cabinet, my glass of Moxie sitting there next to me on the old granite counter-top.  The fulness of my youth-through-early-teens period came flooding back into my awareness.  It was a pretty interesting moment, like seeing your past in a movie that you could stand in the midst of.  I was re-living my childhood.

I was suspended in that bridge of atmospheres between the "then" and the "now", and my attention was quite fully arrested by what I was experiencing.  "This is how it was when you were 6"... if a voice-over could have been present, that's what it would have said.  It was a sudden, but not unpleasant change of awareness.  I was being transported to the life of what seemed a whole other person, but was not disoriented.  It was me, you see, and it's really something to be able to truly know a moment in time, 40+ years back in the recesses of the long, twisted path that was your life, as if it were happening right now.  But it is, after all, where you come from, what was formative to who you are now.  You have to reckon it, to recognize yourself, and take account for it. 

It was really, really cool.

My cousin once said that Moxie tastes like "carbonated asphalt".  It still tastes the same. 


It just happened.  I've been waiting for months for this day, and it's come with its typical stealth, like a cherry bomb in a mailbox.  I'm sitting in the Smithfield Home Depot parking lot, having just got a ‘jump’ for my suddenly disabled Mercury Villager from a pair of friendly older cats in a white work van.  We got my heap started up, they drove off satisfied with a good deed done, and I limped 200 yards further down the 2-acre parking lot to where my much-abused mini-van settled to rest with a quiet, sputtering cough.  Silent, we sat, as I considered my predicament concerning the days' work.  Work is everything right now, naturally, and the fact that I have some work is why this sucks... so, finally resigned to the efficiency of my cellular network, I made the call to Chuck and Sons' towing, presumably to escort my Old Faithful to her Final Destination... such is the state of mind I had incurred by this time.

I'm not prepared, particularly, for this, even though I am well aware that the poor crumpled thing has over 307,000 miles on her.  Pretty good for a ’92 “used-to-be-a-soccer-taxi” Mercury Villager- but I must focus some credit on where it’s due:  It's the Nissan Engine, still running like a top, which has outlived her poor old adopted chassis and 'peripheral' systems, which gets the color-guard and 21-gun salute.  Here's to you, old friend, thanks for the ride!

I have been living this way since I can remember, driving ‘whatever’ to its bitter end, and ‘getting out and walking’, as it were, until I find a new, old piece of technological discard to climb into for another 100,000 miles or so.  I just have never really cared that much about what I drive, as long as it gets me there, unharmed, with my stuff.  That whole “American Love Affair with the Automobile” is just a largely alien paradigm to me- I’ve never been able to get my proverbial Velcro Hooks into it and raise my glass.  It's an essential ethic to me, really, to simply drive a ‘necessary vehicle’ and stay out of at least some debt because of it.  It may be unglamorous, but it's paid for, you see.  This brand of thinking is also the result of doing the kind of work for my livelihood that dictates having a vehicle that doesn't need to be washed and waxed, can carry ungainly objects and large power tools, and will still look "like it's supposed to" after a few scratches and dings have become part of the presentation.  

 Okay, so it’s also a money issue- I spend way too much time being broke!  Ah, and speaking of “broke”, here comes the tow truck now...

Later that morning...

I got the tow and left the van at the garage.  It appears to be an ‘alternator issue’ which is easy and cheap enough to fix.  That's assuming the van isn't going to take the pipe the day after I pay for the repair- but I’ll have to take my chances at this point.  Most wise of options would be to have a new (old…) vehicle on-deck, since the advent of such a development is pending anyway. 

The next day...

I'm still here.   I hope it gets repaired today- that it even CAN be repaired- or I'll be shopping the used car lots, getting my ears bent sorely out of shape by badly angling salesmen, and reciting bad jokes.  Or writing my blog from the Pine Street Inn... Either way it's going to be a long day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Growing Up

Let's see... since I last participated in my own blog here we've put railings on the two staircases up to the front and back doors of the house, gone through a flea infestation, the wife has left a nice little post as organist/accompanist at a local church (there's a story, but no matter- she liked her post there...), and my eldest has become tank-mother to a fine, small community of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.  Nice.  Life is pretty good, even if I am still crawling around through dirty old houses for a living.

My kids are older, and it's a bit like being put 'on notice' that they are suddenly able to take charge of those little parts of their lives that you used to be needed to help with.  They're taller, more person-looking.  They say things that you don't have to lean over, metaphorically-speaking, to process.  You still have to pay for everything though, and there's a major crossroads that delineates between childhood and adult-hood, in a very material way.  Whatever their relationship to you, whatever the content of the intellectual, emotional or spiritual relationships that you experience with them, that right there is the 'line in the street' that makes some real decisions for you.  I'm not there yet, but I can see it like an intersection in the road 300 yards ahead... it's an interesting time.

Sometimes I wonder what they'll say about me when they're living their own lives, and I'm gone...