SeventhDay

respite
On the Seventh Day of Christmas, I chose to offer a choice. My nephew was showing some of the strain of single parenthood, and while he’d promised to escort the boyz to see an Egyptian exhibit and one of the Mall museums, I offered him a day off instead. “Just wander around the town,” I suggested. “The boyz won’t mind.”

Fact was, I figured everyone would be better off if bedraggled dad wasn’t expected to yet again wrangle them kids through another wildly distracting situation. I could apply some of my strategic inattention, which wouldn’t disturb the young ‘uns a lick. He’d have to be on call throughout if he went, and he looked frazzled. Gratefully, he jumped at the chance. Slip over here for more ...

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SixthDay

airandspace
On the Sixth Day of Christmas, cabin fever settled in. Losing our minds, we decided to take the boyz to the Air and Space Muse See ‘Em.

The A&S Muse See ‘Um is conveniently located on the far side of a very scary suburban ghetto halfway to the Blue Ridge Parkway from our place, ringed with several competing layers of multiple-lane freeways which serve as parking lots most of the day. I packed a decent snack if not a lunch, and even though Georgie had weenied out on breakfast, we bravely headed out. Two minutes later he was pleading for the snack bag. (Told ya!) Slip over here for more ...

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FifthDay

220px-Calligramme
On the fifth day of Christmas I’d hoped I might see a pile of brand new poetry.

I hold this tradition, perhaps now festered into an obsession, that I spend Christmas Eve afternoon into Christmas Day dawn writing poems, creating what I’ve grown to call my annual Christmas Cycle. This year was no different. I began by collecting a few seasonal images that might prove inspiring and, as usual, by fussing a lot. Slip over here for more ...

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FourthDay

Roman-Book
On the fourth day of Christmas my nephew’s boyz brought me one first class, life-affirming conspiracy.

I prefer the company of kids. Not because kids are so sweet. Perhaps because they are just as capable of meanness as kindness. They are, to an individual, every one of them, a pirate until acculturated. After that, they’re a bit worse. Slip over here for more ...

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NoComment

nocomment
My daily newspaper The Washington Post, like every newspaper with an online presence, offers the opportunity for every reader to comment on every published article. Facebook, Twitter, /*you_name_it*/ also offer comment spaces. My friend Mark holds the opinion that the comments often say a lot more than the article they comment upon. Me? I can barely bare to read them.

They seem to offer the same sort of experience as one finds observing the typical autopsy, what might have once been human, laid bare and violated. No, my nose isn’t disjointed because somebody’s comment peed on my birthday cake. Yes, my sense of propriety feels offended. Slip over here for more ...

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ThirdDay

afraid
On the ThirdDay of Christmas, I took my nephew’s boyz to the park, mostly to get outside in the spitting snowstorm in hope of catching some Christmas spirit. Georgie said he wanted to stop for Gelato on the way to the park, but I suggested it always tastes better when your patootie’s half-frozen off.

The boyz were a few years too old for the gym equipment, which they quickly started stressing to what seemed near their limit. I finally called a halt to the destruction, and Ronnie turned into a defensive attorney, questioning my judgment in the matter. I could see the spring threatening to pull loose from the concrete base and the wild gyrations which simple momentum might have propelled Ronnie and that kiddie butterfly ride into the face of another kid. I couldn’t quite encourage Ronnie to listen, him being so busy ignoring my perspective and all, so I left. Up and walked away, not looking back. Slip over here for more ...

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SecondDay

Emergency
On the SecondDay of Christmas, the universe gave to me ...

Medical emergencies might be God’s way of taking cuts in line. They come unbidden, the forbidden unhidden; nobody knows they’re coming, a universal multiple choice test. The proper response involves immediately dropping every plan in favor of the unanticipated, and this cannot be simple, especially if insurance gets involved. Slip over here for more ...

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FirstDay

tiger
On the first day of our Christmas, my nephew’s oldest asked me why I called it Tiger Butter. His query prompted me to expound on the ancient history of the term. The original recipe called for a single melted tiger, which, I explained, was extremely difficult to acquire, since tigers are notoriously late sleepers and tiger butter has always been exclusively a breakfast item. Later, for convenience more than anything, butter was melted instead, though the original name stuck. Slip over here for more ...
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Home-bound 1.9-Bound

bound
Bound might have more meanings than any respectable word should. Like many English words, it means its own opposite, but also its own orthogonal: captive and moving, an abrupt movement, a continuing one, also no movement at all. It bounds, bound and determined to be bound no longer. (Could I be bound and NOT determined, too?)

Home-bound holds every ounce of bound’s ambiguity. Was I heading home or stuck there? Maybe I was simply leaping towards? Perhaps all of these simultaneously. Slip over here for more ...

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Home-bound 1.8-Alley-Gator

alligator1
When I was five or six years old, my grandfather took my brother and I on a little road trip. My folks were supposed to meet up with us the next morning, but this Friday afternoon, we loaded into grandpa’s red pickup and headed toward his place, a hundred and fifty miles away. This was my first excursion out into the world unaccompanied by my folks, and I left spooked. Arriving at our destination, grandpa decided we needed some entertainment, though it was already well past our usual bedtime when we arrived, so he dropped us off at the local theater, to an already in progress double feature horror show.

The main picture was a gem called The Alligator People, and it scared the socks off my brother and I. We fussed plenty, trying to decide if we could just leave or if we had to stay until the end. The Cobalt 40 scenes didn’t spook us half as much as the alligator guy did. We’d never imagined the world was anything like this. Slip over here for more ...

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Home-bound 1.7-Somewhere

somewhere
I freely admit that I over-idealize this place. I favorably compare it, weighing plusses and minuses with my thumb secretly fudging the scale. I ignore plenty, imagine some, and reframe even more to accomplish this. I claim innocence under the ‘honor thy father and mother’ clause.

Less forgivable might be my many minor slanders against our exile place, a fine, even delightful place that doesn’t seem to sit quite as comfortably on my palate. I am prejudiced against my step-mother town, where I currently, physically live, and prejudiced in favor of the mother that raised me, where I can only visit now. This judging wears me down. Slip over here for more ...

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Home-bound 1.6-SmallThings

smallthings
Our exile sits in the middle of a megalopolis, one of the recognized great metropolitan areas of the world. There, any excursion might lead to me brushing elbows with some celebrity; greatness. Noteworthy events originate there, echoing across the world. I casually stroll past landmarks, places where, in an earlier life, I travelled far to simply see. Now I barely notice my own passage by them.

Almost nothing of the internationally noteworthy class ever happens here in my home valley. Most people have never heard of this place, and nod distractedly whenever I fail to explain where and what it is. Some newspaper this week declared this valley a “wine Mecca,” whatever that means, since wine isn’t served in Mecca. The main street is predictably called Main Street. The rich seem to be getting richer and the poor, poorer, but everyone sometimes shops at the same Safeway. Slip over here for more ...

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Home-bound 1.5-Ex-Pression

Locust
Grasshoppers and locusts hold exactly the same genes, indistinguishable each from the other. For the last hundred and fifty years, since Mendel, scientists have been increasingly convinced that the lowly gene must be the key that explains the mystery of mutation, the wonder of evolution. Math could perfectly model these observations. The process seemed obviously straightforward. Of course, we should have known, it would someday prove if not exactly wrong, at best overly simplistic.

In any human, microbial cells outnumber human ones by ten to one. I am genetically 80% cow. If genes hold the code, who interprets that code? Apparently, something called gene expression does. Slip over here for more ...

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Home-bound 1.4-BroadShoulders

broadshoulders
Topping Touchet Hill, I felt my shoulders spreading out, stretching from horizon to horizon across this wide frozen valley. The Blues an icy mirage hovering along the Eastern extent, the Columbia Gorge slipping behind. Our passage had been surprisingly effortless; haunted by grave predictions, but that freezing rain front dissipated over the Coast Range and never touched the Gorge. Multnomah Falls fell through an ice chute into a snow-frosted canopy. We fell just as effortlessly through the long, familiar rimrock and cottonwood, road screaming beneath us.

Distressed to discover that the Pheasant Grill was closed, for sale sign replacing the predictably welcoming entrance. No Honker Burger this trip. On to the aptly-named Boardman for a Bozo Burger instead. Slip over here for more ...

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Home-bound 1.3-Content-Meant

contentment
I made no appointments yesterday. I rose early, accomplishing nothing before sunrise. The Muse had some things to do, but I had family to attend to. My Dwalink Dwaughta Heidi mentioned that our conversations just seem to pick up where ever they left off last time, and that my lengthy absences seem indistinguishable from short ones; we’re that comfortable together.

Same story with my son. We seem to pick up the set-up just short of yet another punch line. The grandson quickly assimilated me into his conceptual world view, even learning my preferred greeting, “Gimme some wing, man,” accompanied by suggestive bent arm flapping. Slip over here for more ...

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Home-bound 1.2-UncleDad

rearview
I lost ordinary time with the first great divorce and dismemberment. Living in a tiny apartment in an iffy neighborhood then, I’d see my kids on weekends, where pent-up guilt would drive me to try to make each visit special, as if something extraordinary might lengthen our time together or deepen our connection to each other. Quite a lot of that time was spent in the car, ferrying between adventures, as if searching for someplace we might actually belong.

The second great divorce and dismemberment seemed worse, demonstrating my failed attempt to find a safe place for us to simply experience ordinary time together. I called myself Uncle Dad, a weekend visitor choking cheerfulness out of my broken heart. I made up truly terrible traveling tunes and spent too much time talking through my rear view mirror. Slip over here for more ...

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Home-bound 1.1-Coming

homecoming
The leave-taking was about a tenth as tough as I anticipated it would be. A brief tussle through security when I inadvertently drew my library card instead of my driver’s license, quickly resolved. Tolerable turbulence in spite of a historical winter storm raging a few thousand feet below us over the Midwest. A two hour delay changing planes in Denver, where The Muse and I have spent plenty of time. That felt like a home-turf layover. I’d seen that winds were gusting over thirty miles an hour out of the Columbia River Gorge today, and again, true to my timid rabbit temperament, I pre-lived an aerial Posidan Adventure almost until we were on final approach in Portland. We spidered in, the pilot finally finding that third wheel before a gust could overturn us.

Once unshackled from the accustomed discomfort of our exile, The Muse and I cruise quite competently. Slip over here for more ...

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Home-bound 1.0

homebound
We leave in the morning for home. We leave this exile, homebound. This place of weirdly warm winter temperatures for country more accustomed to winter’s vagaries. I wonder if we’ve lost our edge, our ability to stand in the freezing fog. I wonder how home might feel after this long exile.

I hesitate packing my bags, finally concluding that I’m just better off stuffing everything last minute in the morning. No regrets. Little opportunity to succumb to the temptation to iron what the luggage will only wrinkle worse. No first guessing; I’ll leave with whatever accreted then and suffer or enjoy the consequences. Slip over here for more ...

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