A Month into Winter

Not that the Phoenix valley has much of a winter, but this year was more wintery than the past two; December’s highest temp was 73º but the previous two years it was in the low 80s.

For the first time in 15 years, I’m not knee-deep in songwriting. I’ve participated in February Album-Writing Month since 2006, some years writing as many as 32 songs in a single month. I want to write at least one to celebrate my 15th FAWM, but I’m having a hard time dredging up the feeling.

I’m also 6 months or so behind on delivering the third Jake Calcutta story. And don’t get me started on the third Irish Adventure; poor Web Martin ended his second adventure on a low note and I’ve been meaning for years to lift his spirits with another chapter in his life.

The family band used to practice music 5 days a week. We’ve been up in the music room twice in five months. I’ve barely strummed my brand new 3/4-size Orangewood guitar. It’s beautiful, easy to play, great-sounding, and parked beside my desk. But, parked. In the same stand as my Blueridge tenor, the most wonderful musical instrument I’ve ever owned.

Moving my mother into assisted living absolutely trashed me physically and emotionally. Getting herself evicted in under 90 days because she’s so uncooperative was a gut-kick to Best Beloved and I after all the time, energy, and money we spent making it happen.

I usually ignore my age; I don’t celebrate birthdays, and the only reason I know my age most of the time is that it ends with the same number as the year. I haven’t been conscious of anything special about turning 60 the end of last month, but I have been feeling old, slow, a bit bleak.


2020

me, on a boat, on a lake, in Wisconsin, in the fall [smiling at Best Beloved as she takes my picture]
I am so old that I remember how odd it was to write 1970 on my school papers instead of 1969.

Half a century ago.

The previous summer I had watched, live, as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

Even earlier: one of my earliest memories was everyone crying about something on the radio. It was November 22, 1963.

When I was born, Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower was President of the United States. There have been 11 more since then.

My maternal grandfather was born in a tiny village outside (then) Berlin (the village itself was absorbed by the city long ago.) That was in 1880, 140 years ago.

In 1630 or thereabouts, three brothers named Canfield were well-known businessmen in New Haven Connecticut.

In 1066 a chap with the last name Campfield (he was Belgian so I don’t know where that spelling came from) crossed over from Europe with William the (Soon to Be) Conqueror.

This history lesson (?) brought to you by the numbers “2” and “0” and the letters j, d, and c.


I promise not to make an issue of it, but the new decade doesn’t start until 2021. Decades start with 1, end with 10, rather than starting with 0, ending with 9.




Kittens


I’ve never told anyone this before; not when it happened, not since.


When I was 13 our cat had 9 kittens. They lived in a box in my sister’s closet. When they were about a week old, a visiting child took them out of the box and put them on the cold tile-over-concrete floor to play with them. They all got sick. One by one over the next week 6 of them died, one every day.

I cried myself to sleep every night for a year. More than 45 years later it’s still hard to think about.


Daily Design

I’ve struggled to find a resource to teach me better design skills, to go from workmanlike to beautiful.

On the advice of Best Beloved (after reading it eleventyleven other places for years) I finally started practicing what I already knew. Since October 28th I’ve designed something every single day. It’s a bit of a random harvest, but I already see trends I’m happy with.

The long term goal is better website design, for myself and others, but I’m less than a month in, so I’ll accept fun abstract images as a start.



some more late thoughts (a post by the Little One)

Not so little any more, I suppose. Studying for her driver’s license. This was written two years ago. Original at http://fionacanfield.com/2017/12/06/knowledge-in-passing/

once i went to a coffee shop and in one room of that coffee shop was a white piano and a white bench and a marker and people had written stuff all over the piano and the bench with the marker and honestly i thought that was so cool.

i really like that kind of stuff.

i think it’s really neat.

people years from now may never meet you, never know you, never know anything about you, and you can scratch something into a tree or a wall or write it on a chair and someone out there will see that and know you exist.

you know what would be cool

when you’re about to move out of a house, leaving a note somewhere. maybe a letter. or part of a journal. or would that end up getting cleaned out? either way someone would see it.

i like thinking about that kind of stuff. i want to do that kind of stuff. leave notes in cracks and write on trees and just. leave little messages for people who will never even know me.

it sounds like something out of a story. well i’d read that.

someone moving into a new house and finding a journal about the life of whoever lived there before them.

i think that should be a thing people do. leave notes all over the world. maybe it is. maybe not. i guess people don’t really think about that kind of stuff.

not just because i want people to know i exist. i want people to have the experience of finding messages from someone they’ll probably never meet. messages meant just for them.

because that sounds really magical.


Brains, Mouths, and Fists

The big one; er, the big one in front, not the one who was holding my elbows behind my back, leaned in. He needed a breath mint. Or twelve.

“Look, wise guy, we can do this the easy way—”

“Wait, don’t tell me—or we can do it the hard way? Am I right?”

I think he pushed my solar plexus into my elbows, which, if you’ll recall, were behind my back.

I do so wish my mouth would check with me before taking the driver’s seat.


A Good Trip to the Desert

15-year-old Joel wanted to tell a story today.

On Friday when I dropped off a leftover paper for Cindy (she was looking for a job, and I always seemed to have a spare paper at the end of my afternoon route) her mom Jean answered the door. When she mentioned they were driving out to the desert to see the spring flowers bloom, I thought what fun, and asked if I could go along.

She thought about it for a moment, and then said how nice it was that if you waited you could always depend on a man coming along or something like that. I found out what time they were leaving so they could pick me up in the morning.

My mom was surprised I was going. When she’d talked to Jean earlier, all Jean had said was they had plans the next day, but Mom didn’t get invited.

After they picked me up in the morning we stopped for breakfast with the rest of the group. The other moms and daughters seemed surprised to see me. I still thought my mom could have come along, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

We got out near Borrego Springs, and the flowers were beautiful. After lunch (I didn’t pack anything and had to go into the deli to get a sandwich) Cindy wanted to sit in the sun. It was warm, and the rest of us were in the shade, so she had to go way off to be in the sun. When I tried to talk to her, she was so far away she couldn’t hear me very well and after while I think she might have fallen asleep because she stopped answering.

On the drive home, she was still sleepy. I think she slept all the way home, like two hours. It was a long drive and I knew Jean must be tired, so I said I had my learner’s permit now and if she wanted me to drive for a while I’d be glad to. I think I even mentioned that my driver’s training used exactly the same kind of car she drove. But she didn’t hear me, so after a minute I said it again. I could tell she was really tired, because she still didn’t answer. After I said it the third time and she still didn’t answer, I decided she was too tired to think about it, and I just let her drive.

It was a fun day, being out in the desert when it was cool, all the flowers blooming, spending time with friends.


Some Words from Jake

This is the opening of the third Jake Calcutta story. See? I am writing.

It was quiet in the pub. Jake had expected boisterous noisiness, drunkards singing loud at the next table, loose wenches wrestling with the less drunk at another table, music and feasting and all manner of brash and brazen behavior.

But it was quiet. Once he was past the mild surprise, he thought he’d make use of the peace to review his brief.

He didn’t. What he did was sit, drinking a mug of mild ale he found himself quite enjoying, nibbling on a plate of bread and cheese.

“We all know the Bard did the writing; we just need some kind of evidence to wither those Bacon and Marlowe naysayers. So get it.”

Felicity Bruttenholm’s voice in his ear was brisk, even strident. She took this stuff seriously, and when he was on missions she wasn’t shy about giving him a kick in the proverbial (or would it be metaphorical? maybe both) pants if she thought, as she often (okay, always) did that he’d skimmed the mission brief rather than studying, even memorizing it. She’d nagged him for five long minutes as he walked to the village. Every so often she’d say “If you’re nodding, I can’t hear you” and he’d grunt something that she could take to signify agreement, but which he suspected she realized was just a meaningless noise to fill his tiny space in the conversation.