I dreamed last night that I was in an apartment in an unfamiliar city. I was several stories up and looked out the window to watch a parade down below. A striking marching band cadet made his way down the street. His uniform was bright red, the sun glinted off the brass of his trumpet. I raised my camera to take a photo but by the time I composed and shot the subject, he was lost in a swath of shadow that cut across the street.
It happened again and again. In frustration I turned to ask (who I don't know), "Where is that shadow coming from?"
"That's the Arch," came the answer and I knew I was in St. Louis. And I knew what my brain was doing. The Arch was my only reference point to Ferguson, MO., a town that has been living under a grey pall for what seems like a very long time know but has not even been two weeks.
My shock and empathy are being overshadowed by ambivalence. Worse yet, I'm afraid that I am becoming inured to the whole thing because of the non-stop coverage, the scenes of hostility, the politicizing and because the events seemed to have beckoned every ill-intentioned individual to the city of Ferguson.
The headlines are a downer these days. I am feeling the need to go on a news hiatus, to live in oblivion for awhile. I really, really regret that I have the image of a young journalist kneeling in the desert, video clips of rioting cities and the slimy grin of a duplicitous politician in my head. It's no wonder that I dream of darkness and shadow.
The whole of me wants to quiet that part of the world. My dreaming brain tries to redeeem itself, to gift me with something pleasurable on the tails of horror. The images in the street segued to a museum not unlike the Ransom Center on the UT campus.
I see a beautiful old typewriter in an odd carpet bag carrying case. The typewriter was obviously made for a woman. All of the elements were fine and delicately embellished. The letters emblazoned on the keys are gold. Two children asked what they are looking at. I explain that it a typewriter and showed them how paper was rolled into the carriage and how pressing the keys made the hammers hit the paper to make text.
Next, I was in another gallery. I was holding the notebook of Steinbeck, Hemingway or Faulkner, I'm not sure which. I knew it was a man and I knew it was a draft of an important novel. I don't know why I had it but felt that I probably shouldn't have it. I wanted to just sit with it - not even read it. I wanted to rest my hand on top of it and sit with it as though it were some spiritual relic. I was seeking light and clarity.
I don't often have dreams that offer direction but these seemed to be so obvious. Turn away from the heavy darkness and into the light. You get to the light by investing in yourself - not in a selfish sort of way but in a way that refines the gifts that you already have. Developing creativity is a practice and a discipline. It won't necessarily start out beautiful. You have to start with the scratchy scrawl of a pencil in a simple notebook. The delicately embellished typewriter doesn't insure success, it could belong to anyone.
My sleeping brain had the good sense to end on a positive note and so will I.
Good day to you beautiful people! I begin my very long weekend tomorrow with Michael's birthday and will ride this wave of goodness until our 17th wedding anniversary on Sunday.
Michael's birthday is on Thursday and I'm rockin' it on the birthday gifts this year which is not like me at all. I'm a pathetic gift giver. I know the key to gift giving is listening and I do listen but my dearest is so quiet. I've been listening for any hint of a fine gift for months, I've even asked him directly, "Do you want anything special for your birthday this year?" which is the worst question ever because, you know, he said, "A router" without missing a beat.
I mulled over the router business for two days straight and then broke the sad, sad news to him that I was not going to be purchasing the one thing that he really wanted. I was pretty blunt because there was no other way.
"I want to tell you right now that I won't be giving you a router for your birthday so don't get your hopes up," which really, would be the perfect thing to say if I were going to get him the router but I'm not and I'm pretty sure he knows I'm not.
I can share with you that he is definitely getting a coconut cream pie on Thursday because boys love coconut cream pie. Other than that, mum's the word for now.
The most epic gift would be a trip out to the Judd Foundation in Marfa, TX. It's not going to happen anytime soon but it is a birthday idea that I keep in my back pocket for future years; years that we are bird free and have a 21st century automobile and can take a few days away without worrying that our linebacker of a rooster hasn't rammed the petsitter. It might happen yet.
It would be up there with the trip to the Frank Lloyd Wright house tour in Oak Park, Il. He liked that. He liked that a lot. The trip to Chicago afterwards wasn't bad either but it was a whirlwind visit. We took what should have been a 3 day trip and compressed into one day. Outings may be the best gifts.
I can see that this post quickly devolved into everything that Michael is not getting for his birthday. There will be no trips, no machinery, just mostly pie and a dog in costume (because that's definitely happening) and a few things that I really like and hope he does too. I love birthdays. Let the countdown begin!
All I want to do today is smash the automatic poultry waterer to smithereens with a hammer. I cannot rest until the leak is fixed or the device itself is completely annihilated - thus the smashing fantasy. I'm not sure how much longer Michael can withstand the daily rants. Perhaps for his birthday on Thursday I will surrender. It would be a gift to the entire household. I'm sure.
Each time I go to the feedstore I ask if the automatic waterers are in. They've been on back order for weeks. Maybe because they were so hard to come by, I built them up in my mind. My daily routine was going to be so much better, I thought. I wouldn't have to worry that the birds were dry when it hit 100°.
Last weekend I came home with 50lbs of layer crumble and my new waterer. Somehow I knew that attaching it was going to be more complicated than just screwing the hose to the spigot. You know, it's like seeing an assembled piece of furniture at Ikea and thinking to yourself, how hard can it be? A screw here, a nut there and voila. But no. No, it's never just that easy, is it?
The first snag was dealing with the backflow preventer that was attached to the spigot. I knew it was there but had completely forgotten about it. Backflow preventers are code here. It prevents dirty water from getting sucked up into the drinking water supply. I don't remember our spigots having those as a kid but they're code now and hey, I want clean water as much as the next pretty lady so, despite all protest from the husband, I dutifully removed and attached a new one.
The thing is, the backflow thing is made so it cannot be removed. Read that again - it's made so it cannot be removed by a homeowner. Blech. Aggravating to say the least. But where there's a will a dremel, there's a way. That was step one: dremelling out the set pin.
Step two - and I'll tell you, the hens were mesmerized with the whole process, was attaching the short hose that came with the waterer to our spigot. Easy enough until I turned the water on and saw that every connection had a leak. I added washers and plumbing tape to the hose ends and finally - FINALLY - was able to announce with some finality and satisfaction, voila! to the birds. All connections were tight and clean. In a word - perfect.
At first there was nary a leak to be found. Then a single verrryyy slow leaked popped up. Nothing that couldn't be remedied with a bucket. The leak was so slow that by the time a second drip fell, the first drip had nearly evaporated. I could live with that.
The next day, a second drip popped up near the base of the waterer which, to the hens, was like the most bitchin' day at the water park ever! In fact, they are so taken with the new leak that I don't think they have drank from the water that is in the bowl. No. They drink from the leak; the ever rapidly increasing leak. I'm exasperated and wonder if I shouldn't have just let the water trickle from the garden hose to begin with if they all like the dripping so much. I could have done without the waterer altogether.
My own very personal (three) thoughts on this whole thing: the jerk I dated in college may have been hyper-critical about the most mundane things (the way I tied my shoes, for example) but he turned me on to the wide world of garden hose gaskets and I thank him. My waterer may have a few leaks but the gaskets do minimize the leaking. He wasn't shy about using two gaskets at a time if necessary. When in doubt, double up on the gaskets.
Secondly, YouTube has a video for everything. Michael uses it quite a bit. When I think to myself, what would Michael do - because I really want to do these things on my own without asking him for help every step of the way - he would go to YouTube. This is where I learned about dremeling out the backflow preventer.
Lastly, two thumbs up for clean drinking water. I love it, the birds love it, apparently the city loves it so much that they've required home owners to have maddening little contraptions attached to their spigots in an effort to maintain a clean drinking water supply.
For your viewing pleasure, here is the video version of this post: