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Rolling in the clover.

The neighborhood is full of them, those little yellow signs: “Keep Off Pesticide Applied.” Crooked Hankie and Sweet Miss Tibbit prance by them without a pause, sniffing and nibbling and thinking dog thoughts. I read them, I observe the lush green carpet lawns, and I get it. That stuff is soft and inviting and looks just like a fresh new shag carpet. I mean, I guess it looks like a fresh new shag carpet because I haven’t actually observed one of those, mainly I see used, flattened, stinky shag carpets awaiting tear-out in the less updated homes the WideEyedHousehold has purchased over the decades.

But then, our evening walkies round the corner into our WideEyedYard and the joyous chaos of bees buzzing and butterflies fluttering and beetles creeping among the taller green stuff is so soothing to me. And to Hankie and Sweet Tibbit, because they stop, drop, and roll as soon as they hit it, standing up reeking of green clover and scattered with little clover blooms.

Our yard is cut long because the Museum of Natural History in London posted on social media that this is the best way to create habitat for hedge hogs. [Pause.] I know. Hedge hogs do not live in the yards of Buffalo, NY, but in the spirit of supporting the importance of hedge hog foraging space, I complied with the suggestion.

Something wonderful happened to the yard in mid-June. The long grass went to seed with little fronds flowing in the breeze, and the clover grew taller and bloomed. Our city yard is a mini-prairie, rolling and surrounded by mostly edible shrubs, and herbs, and flowers, and trees. The bee hive susurrates in the back and little honey bees with leg pockets full of honey and their little sacs full of nectar come and go.

If I stand still and wait, the big bees, little bees, fuzzy bees, and butterflies swirl around me. The dogs flop and pant. The gardens rustle and push push push for the warm summer sun in our short growing season. It is pure joy to lie down in the clover with the whole lot of the garden things and know, everyone can enter here. There isn’t any pesticide. No one need keep off.

Dark light unicorn.

I think my motorbike has a secret identity. My suspicions started yesterday morning. Sunny day yesterday, first day of my own little mini-staycation because sometimes a person needs a break, and the motorbike and I headed out on errands. Please, these were vacation errands: bookstore, chocolate shop, and wine shop, all to acquire goodies with which to wallow, small packets of joys that fit into my backpack.

Motorbike and I parked in the lot at the bookstore, and I looked back at it just before I went in. It’s mostly black, lean, and it sucks all of the light into itself and then glows it back out as dark light. It is frankly beautiful but a little bit tough looking, like a really awe-inspiring pair of well-engineered high heels that you can run in if you have to. It sat there, clearly waiting for me, biding time with the Hondas and Subarus and people movers of various sorts that folks use to get here and go there.

“That your motorbike out front?” a bookseller a decade and more older than me asked in the sci-fi section. I nodded, I mean I was wearing a clumpy motorbike jacket and had a helmet slung over my wrist like a bulbous black purse. I was not incognito. “It’s beautiful,” he said, sighed, “really beautiful.”

“Thanks,” I said, “I’m so happy it’s mine.” He nodded, hands in his pockets, rocked back on his heels. “I’m from Florida,” he said. I nodded. “There is a shop in central Florida that refurbs classic Corvettes,” he looked at me above his mask with serious eyes. “My youngest is out of college in one year. I retire in six.” I nodded again. “I’m getting one,” he said. And he turned, walked away, disappeared into the Young-Adult aisle, but his dream lingered in the air with a shimmer of hope, of good things to come. It was weird, but good weird. I bought a few books and headed back out to my own dream made manifest in the parking lot.

We dub-dub-dubbed over to the wine-gourmet shop and scored a parking spot right up front. Nothing like mid-day errands for rockstar parking. The motorbike was reflected in the gourmet shop window, looking interesting among the high-end kitchen wares and dangerously sharp knives displayed behind the big panes of glass. I patted the seat and headed in.

Way, way, way in the back of the shop I was gazing at the fancy rye whiskeys, texting with the WideEyedSpouse (do we want the Whistle Pig again? Yes.) A bunch of employees wheelied by behind me with a hand truck. “Can I help you find something?” one peeled off from the group. “I’m good,” I smiled with my eyes above my mask. “I saw you come in on your motorbike,” he said, “it’s beautiful.” I stopped texting and turned toward him, youngish, younger than me by kind of a lot, dark hair, “I love it,” I told him. He nodded, of course I did, who wouldn’t? “I have a Kawasaki [something something] 1500, but yours, well, it’s really beautiful.”

I looked at him with level eyes. I know almost nothing about motorbikes. I have mine. And it is wonderful. But clearly something further was needed in this conversation, because he was still standing there, hip cocked and one foot resting on the other – arms crossed. He was settled in for a bit. “Well, you could always have two motorbikes,” I offered. And his joy broke free – filling the whole area in simple happy vibes. He starting laughing and told me “that’s right! n + 1 is the calculation, right? Where you are plus one more – it’s always possible!” and he sort of rolled off to the side and turned into the gin section, his laughter trailing behind.

I raised my eyebrows, bought the Whistle Pig, and headed out to my patient motorbike.

Friends, what is this? Strangers tell me stories sometimes, I guess I invite shared confidences, shared stories. But these were different somehow. Extraordinarily quick. Extraordinarily joyful, hopeful, intense. Maybe it’ll never happen again. But you know, I think it will. I think my lean, dark light motorbike is a rainbow-unicorn in disguise, and everyone turns into an eight-year-old girl near it, sharing joyful confidences and dreams of lovely, happy things without fear of failure or doubt or reprisal. I’m ok with that.

Leave the puffer behind.

70 degrees Fahrenheit. Possibly the most perfect temperature. And friends, I’m incredibly relieved to report that I’m experiencing it today. Experiencing it outside. Because of course inside my second story office in my antique house with antique radiators, it is usually well over 70 degrees when it is 65 degrees downstairs at the thermostat and 15 degrees outside.

I’m not making sense. Blame it on the 70 degrees.

On this day, I left my ankle length Patagonia puffer on the coat rack for morning dog walkies for the first time since mid-November. I felt mostly unprotected and I did worry a bit. What if the situation changed around the corner? Ok, now I’m bragging about my own bravery because the truth of the matter is that I had on thinsulate lined Carhartt bib overalls, blundstone boots, my red pompom hat, and a slightly lighter jacket. But not the puffer and that’s something.

My smile actually ached in my cheeks in the final block, and it is certain any watching neighbors, and in the city there’re always watching neighbors, well, they probably thought the isolation finally sent me off the rails.

But it wasn’t madness. It was wild joy. And I still feel it. The (nearly) useless dogs feel it. Catticus the Cat feels it. The WideEyedBees in the backyard WideEyedHive are living it. They are living it so robustly that I think we are going to have to suit up and crack that thing open this afternoon to check on food stores and brood. It’s a little scary in the off season because the bees, oddly, do not respect that I am acting out of concern when I allow cold air into their home. They dive bomb our bee suits and leave startlingly large poop splotches in their wake. No one has ever asked my opinion, but I’ll give it now: any given creature should not produce poop splotches nearly as large as themselves. I guess holding it in for a few months will cause that.

Snow is predicted for the weekend but it won’t stay. I think I’ll step into the backyard and hoot and holler a bit. The sunny warmth is begging for it. Might as well confirm my mad state with the neighbors.

Double Dog Indignity

Ten decades. Ten thousand miles. Immediate indignity in the WideEyedHousehold. Or is it love?

The old stuff I bring home despite long and windy WideEyedSpouse sighs seems to get along ok with the old stuff already here. Basement-abandoned, mildew-stinking, dusty, grandparent furniture, lamps, rugs, geegaws – they all seem to agree to the neutral zone pact of the WideEyedHousehold: meld or hit the road. Each of them has a history with other families, sometimes these are decades long histories of ill use and hard living. Sometimes they glow as the treasures they have been and are to me now. I like to think when they get here, they are open to new histories, new families. And, dogs.

Two days ago the most recent old-thing arrived, a rug fragment originally from central Asia. It has been tooling around the world since 1920. Turkistan to someplace, [someplace to someplace], someplace to Arizona, Arizona to the WideEyedHousehold in Buffalo, NY. Packed in trunks. Rolled. Folded. Squashed. On trucks and boats and planes and feet. Ten thousand miles over ten decades. When my grandparents were young, it started out fresh, reeking of dye and new wool. Now, when I am not-so-young, it landed here, reeking of nothing at all really. Just, rugness.

Raggedy corners and suspicious ends.

Its ends are missing. Its sides are barely holding on. The weft is thin and the warp peeps out. How many feet tromped it? Carrying the dust and grunge of how many lands? How many fights or words of love in how many languages has it witnessed?

The old things have dignity in their experiences. And dignity attracts dogs. Evidently.

Absorbing experiences through osmosis.

Welcome rug, to the love of dogs.

November Hoses

The WideEyedSpouse is lying under the back porch with a heat gun. Miss-Tibbit-the-Useless-Little-Black-Dog is staring in wonderment. Crooked Hank, entering the third winter of his young life, believes it all to be nonsense.

Tonight it will freeze and freeze hard. The hose stopcock is already frozen open. Probably bad things will happen in the coming arctic blast if it isn’t drained and closed. Boring, expensive things.

Friends, don’t judge us here in the WideEyedHousehold! We started the snow thrower two days before this morning’s snow labor. I packed the Smooth Ride’s trunk go-bag last evening (winter coat, blanket, fruit leather, water vessel, plastic bag, cat litter, little shovel, and a Wawa Truck Pez pack). The Joan of Arctic Sorels are out and were  deployed this morning. The bomber hats undrawered last week.

A person can only do so much to prepare before the wretched realization arrives – all that work is simply to endure winter. W I N T E R. I thought about tropical winters as I forcibly shoved the snow thrower through a densely packed mass of slush (bottom three inches) and snow (top several inches) this morning. Sure, the tropical summers are reaaaally hot what with climate change and all. But that snow thrower. It is a two stroke monster that WAAAAH BAP BAP BAPs in an unholy melody of miserableness and exhaust stink.

I can hear movement downstairs. Perhaps the ClosedShutStopcock has been achieved. Yay.

Crooked Hank has an opinion

Crooked Hank. The Doubter.

Boat anchor tour

We acquired motorcycle licenses, the WideEyedSpouse and I. Our 49cc Keeway scoot now proves insufficiently amusing. Yes, I can feel the wind and catch a thrill while waaaaaaahhing over to the co op for some organic, fair-trade, shade-grown coffee. Yes, cruising the park roads helps me to think long thoughts while dodging joggers, dogs, kids, and beefy rugby teams. But…

We need more now. Expectations are higher. Bigger joy seems attainable.

Some of us are hoarding ducats for a spring purchase of a shiny joy that is reliable AND fun.

Others (hint, the WideEyedSpouse) want instant and corroded joy, with uncertainty, tinkering, troubling oil leaks, electrical problems, snapped choke cables, wonky carbs (heh?). The Spouse will roll a steel horse on up that drive right now, and to that end we are touring the boat anchors of Western New York. Every weekend. The Mighty Pathfinder towing a clattering U-Haul motorcycle trailer. Just in case. Because nobody pretends he’ll ride one of these clunkers home.

anchor 1

It goes like this…

– We’re here to see the motorcycle, we set up the meet with you. Oh, right. [Startled face.] I don’t keep it here.

[Longish drive down a different but equally remote rural side road.]

[Imagining my new motorcycle license picture on the news. WideEyedFunk, last seen…]


– Does it start? Oh, she’ll start. Bulletproof engine on her.

– Can I start it? Well. [Surprised.] You can try.


– Is it rideable? Oh, yeah, sure. ­Daily rider.

– May I take it on a short ride to test the clutch and brakes? Oh. [Toothy inhale.] I wouldn’t.


– Do you have the title? Yes.

– Is the title in your name. Oh. No, but it is in the name of the guy I got it from. [Reassuring smile.]


– Has it passed inspection recently. Yes. (*This is a question of relativity. What is recent, really, considering the duration of humanity’s use of created objects, the age of the planet, the birth of this universe?)


– Ok, it doesn’t run, hasn’t been inspected recently, the title isn’t in your name, is that right? Yes. But you are willing to take one third of your asking price to get it off your hands because you are leaving town tomorrow? Yes.


– You are asking $750. Will you take $600? Oh. [Head shake. Lips pursed.] I could part it out for over two grand. That seat alone, no rips, worth two fifty.  [Long pause.]


– [Phone call.] You should know if I come out to see it and it is as you described, I’m not going to offer more than seven hundred for it. Yeah. That’d be ok. But I was laid off last week [mom is sick, want to make my money back, having a baby, owe a bookie…] and could really use the money. [Expectant pause.]


And then, rising from the muck, one that might not be an anchor, one that isn’t holding back the joy, mired in frustration. One that starts, and stops, and does all of the stuff in between. Mostly.

anchor 2

Breathless potentiality

The sun angled into the car wash entrance this morning, making the falling bubble curtain into a solid wall of thousands thousands thousands of rainbows.

I watched the hood of the smooth ride disappear into to rainbow wall as the car wash rails drew us in and held my breath, hair a-prickle and fingers tingling, to learn what was on the other side.

(Nothing, just the rest of my day, but my heart still pounds with rainbow potential.) 

Aggressive boot issues

Yeah ok, so yesterday I saw my snow boots propitiating to who knows what and this morning there was snow on the ground. I’m not saying cause and effect exactly, but one second your Joan of Arctic Sorels are sacrificing to something and the next morning you are out there with the Evil Snow Shovel? More than a coincidence.

image of snow boots

Creepy pac boots lurking in the front parlor.

The lesson here, at least the lesson here at the WideEyedDomicile, is that you don’t get the boots out before the snow comes. The big furry pac boots live on the boot tray next to the ice grabbers and the Rieker-cold-but-not-bad boots. They’ve been waiting there, not-so-patiently since I extracted them from the back of the hall closet in November. Evidently they felt unappreciated, bored. I don’t know, what do dusty unused snow boots feel like when the weather isn’t snowy? You tell me.

image of three kinds of snow boots

The line up. Note angry pac boots at the end.

Whatever, their plan worked. Today the Joan of Arctics tromped me on dog walks, around campus, to the store, and clumped around on the Smooth Ride’s gas pedal. They insisted that we put the Smooth Ride into sport mode even though it was a little icy. “We can handle it,” they said but kept themselves out of the brake pedal area.

I think my snow boots might be jerks. I’m not saying anything out loud to them though, because they control my warmth and comfort for the next three months. They also get to decide if I fall – unless I layer the ice grabbers on them. I don’t know what would happen then. The snow boots would probably get to thinking Buffalo snow isn’t challenging enough and hike us to something really cold. I’ll light them on fire first. Someone should tell them that.

Sticky missions

A year and a half, more or less, of stress and misery masked by smiling fortitude. Yuck. I’d rather wail and screech. Family deaths, an unjust nation, job hunting, and illness. The horoscope writer in the newspaper hates Sagittarians because every day I’m told to keep my head down, trust no one, stay close to home. I drag on my cheerful stripy socks and live each day like it isn’t preceded by something wretched.

Miss Tibbit the Useless, Crooked Hankie the Corgi, the WideEyedSpouse, and I walk the three block walkies circuit most evenings. Christmas lights are going up all over the neighborhood and legions of bagged leaves line the strip between the sidewalk and the street. Hank pees on as many as possible, his stout corgi body rushing to the next leaf bag each time. I can tell he loves marking up the captive yard parts. After each leg lift, he gives me a sideways look and a grin and then accelerates to the next, ears aflap.

Tibbit ignores the leaf bags and gathers sticks. Our yard is the neighborhood stick repository. She is selective, only sticks with decent heft or length make it worthwhile. A stick pile makes sweet Tibbit smile, tongue lolling. “Ok, get a stick,” I tell her. The big sticks take some thinking, and I mean ALL of her thinking because this dog qualifies as Not Smart, and because they have to be balanced in the mouth. Twiggy ends are long but weigh less than branch ends. A dog can’t just grab hold of the middle and call it done. Her sticks fwap our legs as she rushes past us, leading the walk with head and tail high, stick mission in process.

This is when walkies get really dynamic. Hank can’t leave the stick missions unmonitored and unmanaged. He runs just millimeters in front of the stick, the twiggy ends brushing his fuzzy corgi haunch hair, evidently an annoyance to be endured stoically when one is managing a mission. Passing leaf bag clusters require his attention so of course he falls behind. Then he rushes past us, ducking low and sleek, grabs any part of the stick he can reach to slow the mission, and heaves his body in front again. Tibbit marches on, aloof inside her sticky mission.

So anyway. A long period of stress and misery alleviated every day by an indefatigable corgi and stick obsessed useless little black dog. Maybe not so miserable after all.

Haircuts and love.

The WideEyedSpouse had a haircut this morning. “How’re you getting it cut?” I asked while backing the Smooth Ride out of the WideEyedGarage. (And I should not have been talking while doing this. There is a 1 cm gap on the driver’s side and a 4 inch gap on the passenger side with lawnmowers and doorframes and stuff so…concentrate!).

The Spouse did a little dance step. “You know, like the guy in the movie with the dancing.” I hit the brakes. It was mesmerizing watching this in the dim garage, his just out of bed hair waggling around unpredictably.

“Huh?” I had nothing. I leaned partway out of the car window, trying to see and hear better. Did that just happen?

“The movie with dancing, you know.” He did another little dance step with some jazz hands to the side. The garage keys in his hand jingled. I had the sense he couldn’t really get into it because he was stuck in the small space between the Smooth Ride and the Mighty Pathfinder.

“Wha?” I still had nothing to guess. Partly because the dancing stuttered my thinking bits, partly because I just had no (useful) clue. The movie with the dancing. Dirty Dancing? No, because that would be a ducks-ass/mullet combo and I was pretty sure the Spouse wasn’t aiming for that. Singing in the Rain? That would be weird since I’ve never actually seen it and didn’t the guy have a hat on? Perfect Pitch?  That’s singing and not dancing and girls with girl-hairstyles. Guardians of the Galaxy? I mean, I wouldn’t call that a dancing movie.

The Spouse sighed, frustrated. “You know…” he did a step step kick to the side and back with a little hand toss-head flick to the left, “the movie with the dancing and the guy.” His Egg Shen’s Medicine t shirt flapped around a bit as he danced.

Ah. I had it.

“Ohh, La La Land, Ryan Gosling,” I started backing up again. “Yeah, that should look good.”

I blew the spouse a kiss through the pollen-encrusted windshield and putted off to the big U for the day’s labors, and I was giggling and full of love as a I drove .

raw denim levi's hanging in the sun

Spouse’s pants blowing in the wind. Did the sunshine make them want to dance?