Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I'm trying to run longer distances. Still slow, but long. I have longish trail I routinely run. It's kind of fun, especially in the snow in shorts so I never get too over-hot. October is hard, for reasons I think I understand. It's the last hope of warmth until April, the last fully orange and yellow landscape, the last month before my birthday, the month my dad died. Bad news falls hard in October so when I saw the big tree lying across the trail, I looked hard for something dead, crushed underneath it. Nobody died but the word "crushed" stayed with me. Fall is crushing.
I had already seen a bone in the trail--some large animal's--probably an elk's. Cleaned to the white, scattered by what I thought I wanted to see. But if I saw what I wanted, well, that would be a great surprise but then I would also be maybe dead. I kept looking behind me for mountain lions. There were none. Both crush and relief.
Then I saw a deer arm hanging from a tree. A foreleg, I guess, in animal parlance. How did a deer get his leg hung in a tree. Maybe poachers. Maybe regular hunters, but I don't think you're supposed to clean your deer by hanging it from a tree. Maybe the deer was doing something weird. Jumping over a falling tree, getting tripped in another. Maybe he was trying to outrun a mountain lion but realized deer can't climb trees.
It was eerie but not gross. How animals die in the woods I don't really know but between that hanging hoof, that scattered femur, and that trail-crushing tree, I had a new plan, or at least something to think about surprise and routine and the inevitably of November and how we make it through October every year, even mostly with surprisingly good things to say about it.

Monday, October 28, 2013


October. Where did September go? And now October the 27th? Fall always seems so easy until you realize you've been waiting every day for some news and then it's winter and you have no news and the trees are already brown on the ground.

Summer is better than fall. Even with the rain in the summer. It takes a few months for me to get summer brain. The brain that says, swimming is easy. Typing is hard. Now I'm ready to swim all the way from Flagstaff to Tucson.

8 is hard. Zoe is 8 and therefore hard. My sister and her fiance call Zoe Zoe-Jesus. It's mostly true that she is light on a popsicle stick but 8. 8. 8 is when you order French toast and it comes with mushy berries and she won't eat the French Toast and you tell her to please have a bite so at least her brother will try his and she won't so he won't and you give her a look and then there are tears and three hours of being called mean. She's running a 5K next week. We went running on Saturday to practice. She walked along, touching the tops of the grasses, anointing each one with her Zoe-Jesus fresh touch. I said, "I question your commitment to this running." Maybe 8 isn't hard. Maybe I am.

Traveling should not be hard but neither should hotel pillows.

It only takes 20 minutes to whip up a batch of pumpkin muffins. Remind me of that when I think baking is hard.

Halloween is taxing my brain. Two years ago, black box theater. Good and easy. This year, the puns seem stretched like a limo. Could I go as a stretched limo? Could I go as stretched thin? Can someone stretch me thin? I'd be thin if I were tall.

I do not read as fast as I should. Nick Flynn's Reenactments is very good. Also, Nick Flynn is a good person.

People died a lot this week. Nick Flynn's dad. Lou Reed. A good friend of mine from a long time ago.

It is always thesis season, now.

8 bags of pine needles goes a lot quicker when your 8 year old helps rake and bag the pine needles. 8 does have it's advantages.

The leaves of the apple tree seem to hang on. Is that an apple tree? I've never seen any apples on it.

Apple season is the best. Honeycrisps are still the best. There are a lot of new apples at Sprouts. Pink ladies and honeycrisp still win.

I forced myself to go to New Frontiers, which, now that Sprouts is here and I have compared prices, has been overcharging me for years. Brown Cow Cream on the Top Yogurt at NF? $3.99. At Sprouts? $2.50. Butter, even at Fry's (Kroger-based) is $3.99 when it's not on sale. $2.99 at Sprouts. But NF did have these tiny Lady apples that were delicious as a tiny lady could be. A bit of redemption? Maybe. And their fish is better. But Sprouts--it has beer and wine.

Walking Dead plus The Good Wife equal too much anxiety for one night. Didn't sleep last night even with my good, non-hotel pillow although I tried to channel Nick Flynn's Robert DeNiro instead of the short, knee-biting zombie.

I must go now to pick up the 8 year-old who used to be the 4 year-old from her Girls on the Run. She will have math homework that changes units, asks you to multiply and divide, then describe in Spanish sentences how she came to those answers. She has to practice piano and read in Spanish and help me make her bed. She'll have to brush her her and set the table for dinner. Then write thank you notes. Maybe 8 is as hard on her as it is on me.

If it was still September I would say things are going well but here it is October and I barely remembered to pull the pumpkin muffins out of the oven in time.