Thursday, April 30, 2009

River--Tattoo Story #2

I have been writing like a mad woman for work and my brain needs a respite from all of the sadness behind the need to write what I am working on. So, I will turn to some body art for a minute and take you on a journey up my arm and one of my favorite rivers.

Below is the tat that graces my right forearm. It is a blended map (one from the late 1800s and one from the the early 1900s with the watershed hatches included) of part of the Huron River which is the main artery of the watershed of the place where I am rooted. is a great organization--check them The Huron River Watershed Council

This river runs through the town I live in and it runs through part of the county I grew up in which is different than the county I currently live in. The Huron River watershed is expansive and beautiful and connected to the great lakes watershed.

Everyday that I ride to work I ride along the Huron River. I see the birds that gather near her sometimes fast and forceful/sometimes calm and glass-like waters. I see bluebirds and goldfinches and barn swallows and cardinals and tufted titmice and nut hatches and geese and blue jays and various varieties of ducks and crows and common sparrows and robins. the voices of the birds blend in perfect harmony with the rushed lapping of the river and the soft hum of the wind.

Other days I walk down to Riverside park and experience the full fury of the Huron as it cascades past the Depot town bridge in white capped torrents of volumes of fluid. It is powerful and glorious and the rushing waters always bring me to calm.

This river moves in the middle of my life--it is as close to me as my own veins. The smell of it seeps through the spring and summer air up to my house and leaves the presence of the animals and fish and bugs and worms that depend on her for sustenance laced gently on the inside of my nose--present in my breathing and exhaling--actually in me.

For an amazing story on how humans have buried water to make the land more usable for us people throughout the Huron River Watershed down load this pdf and check out the storyBuried Water by Janet Kauffman

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

3000 miles

On Friday, April 24 (which also happened to be my 33rd birthday), I hit 3,000 miles on my bicycle--the good old Portland. I was particularly happy cause it happened in the a park I love beside the River I love. I rode 3,000 in less than 11 months--it is a nice number--3,000.

Since February 7, I have rode 632 miles--this is mostly commuting mileage! So, I really have gotten my physical stride back since all that was once alive in me died and came spilling out between my legs. However, to be honest, I have not gotten my emotional stride back and that leaves my body feeling fatigued and worried and all out of whack.

So, if I am a bit missing in action from this blog, it is because I am a bit missing in action from my own life. I keep on keeping on, but things are muddled and foggy and heavy right now.

Back to the 3,000--a lovely number; the number I hit on my birthday! hooray.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Crows--tattoo story #1

A bit back, a lovely reader of this here blog asked for some pictures of my tattoos. I will now fulfill the request.

I will start with the one tat that I never really get to see.
The photos below were taken by my lovely kk right after I was inked about exactly 3 years ago.

I like the lighting of the photos. The text is from a poem about crows by Mary Oliver. She is my favorite poet. I stamped out the lines with these old letter stamps that I scored from the art slide library I worked at during undergrad and then my tattoo artist drew it all out on my back. I happen to love crows; the words have multiple meanings for me and they are placed across the deep muscles of my back. there is something about words on skin--permanently cut into flesh--that makes me think of all that is bigger than little, animal me.

Mary Oliver

From a single grain they have multiplied.
When you look in the eyes of one
you have seen them all.

At the edges of highways
they pick up limp things.
They are anything but refined.

Or they fly out over the the corn
like pellets of black fire,
like overloads.

Crow is crow, you say.
What else is there to say?
Drive down any road,

take a train or an airplane
across the world, leave
your old life behind,

die and be born again--
wherever you arrive
they'll be there first,

glossy and rowdy
and indistinguishable.
The deep muscle of the world.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

a sunday walk--in photos

oh sign that made me know the day was today

[I can barely type cause my fingertips took almost two hours of beating this morning on my ride into work. I flatted for the first time on the Portland. I put 2897 miles on it before the rear tube finally went fizzle, flat. I was dripping wet and cold (it was only abut 36 degrees), but I finally made it to work and that subject is not the point of this post.]

The point of the post is to give you all a little photo essay of my sunday walk around ypsilanti. Over the last many months, I've made it a bit of a habit to take my camera on my long walks through the town I love. Ypsilanti is old and there hangs on the streets and building the energies of people and animals and other living things gone by and then there are still the living things--enormous oak trees, the ever living Huron River, the people old and young, and the birds plentiful and lovely in sound and sight.

this river i love

a bike at the bus station

the buds are erupting

blue behind fence

kissing birds in the stone yard

after the walk; drinking dark horse crooked tree ipa and reading poetry on the porch

Monday, April 6, 2009

a long-winded narrative of my hard-working, lovely weekend

one work outfit for the weekend

A slush storm whipped around outside today and I am a bit dazed by the brightness of white that has eroded the brightness of green typical of the first week of April in Michigan. How strange, really, that this weekend consisted of lots of hard, physical, fulfilling labor in the sunny outdoors and now the sun has stepped away behind the gray of precipitous clouds.

I took Friday off from work and drove down to my parents to drop off my little rollerskate of a car and pick up my father’s orange, elephant of a truck. I found myself at ikea buying a cd tower and marveling at the unimaginative minds of the Swedes when it comes to envisioning families. The family lot runs adjacent to the side of the enormous maze-like store and the lot consists of about 40 parking spots for families. However, the markers on every space consist of a representation of a hetero-normative family. Vomit.

driving big orange

At first, I was like: oh well that stick figure in something like trousers could be me and that stick figure in something like a skirt could be k, but really we know who they are depicting and it is not a family like mine.

I left ikea for home and made myself the drabbest rice and chickpea dish for lunch. Then I set to cutting open the cracks that are looming in our backroom’s walls in preparation for filling them up with plastery, stiff stuff. See, we are redoing the room so our friend A can move in with us. And this room is kind of in shambles, but it is downstairs away from our bedroom and therefore more private. Before we started in on it, it had a terrible mother-of-pearl 1987 peach tinted wallpaper on two of the walls and it still has an awful linoleum covering the floors.

Two weekends ago we hauled shit out of it and with the shit, came this heavy energy. Really, you all have heard me roar on about how lovely our house is and how good it feels, well for the first time this dreary, overwhelming feeling came falling off the walls into my head and heart and punched my chest like weighty cement. I had to leave the house it was so intense. But then we washed and scrubbed and opened the windows and let out all of the sadness that clung to this rarely lived in space.

the back room (A hard at work)

So, on friday I cut the cracks and filled them with durabond and cut and filled and cut and filled. And then I went to the bar and had a couple of beers with friends (it was P’s birthday) and we took a napkin and measured our foreheads. I have the smallest among the 9 of us who were out.

measuring tm's head

We came home from the bar and I set to filling more cracks.
And then I had to sleep.

On Saturday, I woke early, drank coffee, ate an egg and toast, and picked up T to go fetch some compost. The fellows at the compost yard were confusing, and I drove in circles in the mud and finally ended up with over 2 yards of compost in the bed of the truck. We came back to my yard and shoveled and wheel barreled load upon load throughout my garden beds. Then we headed to the community garden and dumped two loads each into our four beds. Then we went to T’s and hauled more compost to her beds.

Then R brought us back delicious burritos from Zorros. They tasted so good. The burrito was full up with black beans and rice and peas and carrots and guacamole and lettuce and pico sauce. Always, after working hard, thick food tastes so delicious and nourishing and in the company of dear ones it is even better.

After lunch, we set back to shoveling more of the moist, beautiful stuff that helps nurture green rooted things to full life. I widened out T’s front bed with my hefty hips, sturdy weight, and sharp shovel. The finished product looked lovely—A dark rounded mound waiting for R and T’s bright dahlias to be planted and then grown up to grace us with their colorful petals and reminders of life.

We finished.

I went home and talked over our fence with my neighbor about the traveling demon that occupies her apartment. It was the first I heard of the hauntedness of that house and will one day reflect on that more…

While I was out, K, sanded and sanded my patchwork. I came home to the most adorable woman—covered in the fine grit of plaster; bandanas covering face and head; little eyes poking out from beneath large, wiggly goggles.

my beloved--glowing in the dust

Then, A arrived and helped k clean up the gritty mess sanding had left. I ran out for the paint. And then we primed the walls. Though, by this time exhaustion had fallen over my bones and the stank of the primer was leaving me breathless and gaggy. A worked hard and rolled all of the walls.

Then k and I we went to Yotsuba and I ate Udon noodle soup with fried tofu and savored the warm, salty broth. At 8:15 we were still out and about grocery shopping. We stopped over T and R’s to drop off some delicious beer (dogfish head India brown ale is yum, yum) and we ended up staying for a wee visit—a fine end to a long, hard, and beautiful day.

Sunday, I shoveled 6 more wheel barrels of compost and widened my side vegetable bed. In the afternoon, when my work was done, I went to the library and read in the window by the woods all of Mary Oliver’s Red Bird and savored her words and the teachings wrapped up in the observations she captures in fragments of sentences and full sentences on the stirrings of all the living going on around us and without us—all the breathing and decaying and anticipation of more living and the final falling to our ends.

I checked out my books and headed home. At home again, I cut onions and peeled carrots and chopped potatoes and ripped through cabbage and sliced celery and garlic and created a mess of a meal for friends who are new parents. We drove over to drop the food off and stayed for an hour. I held the wee, new baby and thought about children and the raising of them and held a brief longing in my heart that then fell away to its own end.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

monster shaving cream and my beard dreams

Over the last few days I’ve had a certain kind of hair on my mind and then my dear old friend DS threw me the final sign that helped me know I had to write about this hair. He wondered if the blue frosting in a picture of me up on the fb might really be monster shaving cream? And so the beard desire needed to be revealed

Ever since I was a young girl, I have wanted to grow a beard. I may have even said it here before, but up until I was about 11 years old, I thought I could grow a beard when I grew up. And then the news hit me like a giant iron falling from a skinny grandmother’s 6th floor apartment window on my head—girls could not grown beards (of course, I would not learn till much later that they could but it took a little modern medicine intervention or hormonal fluctuations or some girls here and there can just do it all on there own).

As a kid in the bath, I would lather on big, whimsical soapsuds all over my cheeks and then with my mama’s orange and white bic shaver (razor cover intact) I would peel back the fluffy, fizzly soap to reveal my soft, peachy cheeks. I would do it over and over and over again.

I would imagine what my curly, dark brown beard to match my head hair would look like as I grew into a young adult and envision growing it as long as I could and then trimming it up all neat and tight and handsome.

Then my world was torn apart by the biological reality that growing a beard was most likely not going to come all that smoothly for me, so I got all heart-broken and sad and then, well, I moved on.

Well, I did not really move on. I still love beards. Thick, sweeping beards and neatly trimmed beards and absurd beards that grow so long and full critters might just be living up inside them. And every once in awhile I put some sheep hair on my face with some spirit gum and sport my own beard. But fake beards are cumbersome and simply not the real deal.

Speaking of the real deal, I do have a little fur patch that grows up under my chin. It is on the right side of my face and can get rather thick. But it is odd and not placed symmetrically. K is always trying to pluck it away (I think if it was not a deformed patch and grew more uniformly and front and center on my chin she would not be up in arms) and sometimes my little sister waxes it off and grits her teeth with a that’s disgusting sort of air. Personally, I do not mind it since it is the closest I may ever come to growing the real thing. Except if I already grow so much hair as a 32 year old, what’s going to happen when I hit my 60s? I’ll probably be a bristly old thing—a brillo-like spike of a chin that will pierce through my kk’s elderly supple flesh and leave her bloody.

But I digress. I like beards--beards for me. I do not get turned on by men's beards since I prefer the sweet, softer than peach fur cheeks of ladies. But for me for me...I have wanted all kinds of facial hair--side burns and such to sport my creative hair flare in new and interesting ways.

Lately, I've wanted the hair and sideburns and even the wispy facial hair of Tom Waits as he appeared on the cover of Blue Valentine.

And always I could go for the Bruce Springsteen hair--all of it as he appeared on the cover of his box set Tracks.

Oh me and my beard dreams...