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Still Life

Saturday, 03 Mar 2018, 17:20 UTC

At the end of the race…

What’s That?

Saturday, 03 Mar 2018, 14:52 UTC

What’s that?

I don’t know, but there she goes again. 

Happy Birthday to the fair and industrious Trudy!

Are There Lilies

Friday, 02 Mar 2018, 23:05 UTC

Are there white Lilies on your doorstep? Or purple Spiderworts?

It is time, perhaps, to liberate the potted plants and disassemble the greenhouse before the days become hot and it becomes a bake house.

Hops & Grain

Sunday, 25 Feb 2018, 20:22 UTC

It was the Hops & Grain Beer Run, part of the 2018 Texas Brewery running series. The fair and industrious Trudy ran 5K. She was planning to go alone since she’s registered for the series, and most of my Saturdays are spoken for for a while, but I had this weekend off, so I was the team photographer for a day.

At the beginning:

At the finish line:

Hardly looks like she broke a sweat.


Sunday, 25 Feb 2018, 17:03 UTC

1. Excuse Me

The sky was blue. The sun was shining. The dogs and I were returning from a long walk at the soccer fields, which are green-green-green from the rains of the last few days.

We were making the last corner and heading to home, when I saw Dirk, a boy from down the street. Dirk is not his name, but let’s call him Dirk. And boy isn’t right, either. His brother went to college years ago and seems to no longer live in town. Dirk is well past high school age, and we’ve seen him working at a local hamburger joint and a grocery store. So… no, boy isn’t right, but then I’m just an old geezer who remembers when he and his brother used to come to the door on Halloween.

“Hey, Dirk!” I said, squinting in the sunlight.

“Oh. Hi,” he said.

“Excuse me,” he said. I turned to see him hurrying to catch up with us, crossing the street with his hands clutched together and pulled tightly to his chest. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure,” I said. “What’s up?”

He crossed the street, and we stepped onto the grass to get out of the way of a car that was coming up to the stop sign.

2. What Do You Think?

Dirk, with whom I’ve infrequently spoken but to whom I’ve always said “Hi” proceeded to ask me if he could have some advice. Advice about things that are going on in his life — serious things. Not scary things, but the kinds of things that you and I would struggle with.

We walked together down the block, and he talked about his situation. He summarized what he’s thinking he’d like to do. And he asked what I thought of that, because he wanted to talk it out with people he trusted.

“You want to sit here on our bench?” I asked, pointing to the black bench that sits in front of our house.

“Sure,” he said.

We sat down. And he went on, elaborating on details he hadn’t yet shared, and telling more of his story.

I listened. And I answered by saying that I am not his doctor but that it seemed to me like he was thinking hard about what he wanted to do. He should talk to his doctor, I said. 

“And here’s what I would do, if I were in your situation,” I said, “because if I just went to the doctor and started talking, I’d probably just ramble on.”

“Yeah,” he nodded.

I suggested that he write down his thoughts, write down the plan he had told me. “Take it with you tomorrow,” I said. “You can use it as notes, so you don’t ramble.” And I suggested he might be able to leave the notes with the doctor, too, since he seems to get so little time with them.

Dirk sat up from the hunched position he had been in. There was a bit of a sparkle in his eyes. I could hear relief hope in his voice.

“Thanks,” he said as he got up.

“You’re welcome,” I said. “Let me know how it goes. …Just knock on the door. The doorbell doesn’t work, so just knock loudly.”

“I will.”

Miss Lucy

Wednesday, 21 Feb 2018, 17:39 UTC

One Door Down

“You want the office one door down,” the woman in the office said. “You can get your parking sticker there at 8:45.”

That was more than an hour away.

“Can I just come back some time during the day?”

“Oh no,” they’ll only be there until five to nine.

The parking sticker people were only going to be there for ten minutes.

Miss Lucy

I returned about an hour later. It was 8:50. I had five minutes to spare — almost too late. The parking sticker lady was zipping her bag shut and beginning to leave the office.

I told her who I was. How I needed a parking pass. I introduced myself.

“I’m David,” I said, holding out my hand.

I don’t think she expected this, because she laughed.

“I’m Miss Lucy!” she said as we shook hands, and she handed me a form.

I filled most of it out but said, “I don’t know my plate number, do you need that?” 

“Yes,” she said, “I need that.” 

But she cut the form in half, put her half in her bag and handed me the other half, smiling broadly.

“You just write your plate number there when you get to your car. And make sure to tape it to your windshield.”

Then she zipped shut her bag and left. Clearly she was giving me a break. 

“Thank you, Miss Lucy,” I said before she had left the room.

She laughed.

Guy in Dreads

Tuesday, 20 Feb 2018, 19:17 UTC

I was busy most of the day, yesterday. At some point, I don’t remember when, my phone shook. I was busy so I didn’t look at it until later during a break. It was a number I didn’t recognize. The message was as follows.

This new york

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, so I ignored and promptly forgot it. …until tonite.

My phone beeps, and I look down.

U working tonight?

I sit there and think a moment. Who could this be? I have no idea. But many people at work might ask me that question, and most of them are not in my cell contacts. So I text back.

Who’s this?

A few moments go by. My phone beeps.

Guy with da dreads from new york

I think hard. I try to picture some guy in dreads, trying to summon a memory that I have evidently forgotten. Nothing comes up, so I reply.

Wrong number methinks

Another message comes in.

Was there Friday night

There was no one helping me on Friday night. The dogs, the fair and industrious Trudy and I were here all evening with no one else around. 

I type


to which the guy replies

Is this princess?

A few moments when by, and then 

So u not a stripper?

I blocked the number. And now my story is complete.

Penrose and Homer

Saturday, 10 Feb 2018, 15:54 UTC

This is what sits on the table beside the bed: a cup of black coffee, some valentines cards, the phone, the answering machine, and two stacks of books.

At the top making little waves is a book that arrived the other day — Lifelong Kindergarten.

Someone knows me well. I thought perhaps my mother, but she claims to have sent a book to my brother and not me. So I don’t know who sent it.

Some nights I reach up, risking a late-night Jenga-fication of the bedroom, and I pull that little book down and read a little more. And more sediment settles on Penrose and Homer.

The Meat Grinder

Friday, 09 Feb 2018, 19:37 UTC

When it was his turn, he got up and pulled something out of the bag next to his chair. Literally: he pulled it out of the bag.

Open with a hook, they had said. So he decided to open his lesson on functions with a visual prop: his grandmother’s meat grinder, which he pulled out of the bag and fastened to the table as a social studies teacher, an artist and a recreational sports manager watched patiently.

“We’re going to talk about functions,” he said. 

Who knows what they thought.

“The idea of functions is simple,” he said. “Like this meat grinder, they take some input, they do something, and then they generate some output. Functions are just little machines that convert inputs into outputs. This meat grinder is a function. It takes chunks of beef as input and generates ground beef, hamburger as its output. Or it takes turkey in and generates ground turkey out. Or pork in and ground pork out.”

And then they did some worksheets, putting pencil to paper. They worked with other functions. Functions that given state names as inputs return capital cities as outputs. Illinois in, what comes out… anybody? That’s right: Springfield! And of course more math-y functions like one that takes number as input and returns that number incremented by one as output. Five goes in, six comes out.

And so he was off and running. Having opened his lesson with a solid hook, he was teaching them about functions. It seemed to work well.

But here’s the thing about that meat grinder. In a way it was perfect — a literal example of an input-output engine. But having used it as a prop, he couldn’t get over wondering what a pain in the neck is must be to have to clean that “function” after every use — something for which he had no mathematical analogy.

Some Kind of Stress Dream

Monday, 05 Feb 2018, 01:31 UTC

Don’t ask me where I was, but there was bombing going on, and there were drones in the sky with infrared scanners that could see you if you went outside. So I was hiding inside an empty house in an empty bedroom behind a door.

Trudy had left the day before. And she had take most of our things, so I was stranded without anything. Hiding from the bombers. From the drones.

I had been scrounging for stuff to sell, so that I might get something to eat. I had found three men’s suits somewhere, and they were hanging from the knob of the door that I was hiding behind.

A man walked into the bedroom. I tried to slink behind the door further, but it was pointless. He saw me. And he robbed me, taking the suits, leaving me in the room still hiding from the bombers and drones.

Now it turns out that the robber felt bad. He came back later and tried to explain that a friend of his was …  a former flight controller landlord of mine from my days in Houston. 

Now my son Ben is there. He is young. And we are hiding together in a closet. He’s been sick, and he throws up on the floor beside me. Three times. Quite vivid, this part of the dream was. And then I throw up on the floor twice and get up to find a wet towel, running across the parking lot to where someone is washing their car, evidently unconcerned about the bombers and drones.

And here is my father, come to take us home.

He has plane tickets for himself and Ben. I will return two days later… but no, I should get a ticket now and fly with them. But I need to pack my stereos, which I forgot to give to Trudy when she left. And I’m rushing to unplug them, because the plane leaves soon, and the plugs won’t come out of the wall. And anyway, what am I going to pack them in?

Suitcases! The two big suitcases that Trudy didn’t need when she left. I can pack the stereos in those! But where are they? Ben knows where they are. He’s grown, now. And he goes off to get the suitcases and I finally get everything disconnected and stacked up in the center of the otherwise empty room.

And then I begin to wonder what the use of packing the stereos is, because you can’t lock suitcases when you take the plane. They’ll likely get stolen. And in any event, TSA would likely be might suspicious of four stereos packed into a single bag.

And then I wake up.