Happy Humpday, All! BTW, my “handle” in my AF days was “The Hump,” the derivations ow which shall go unexplained here. My writer and artist friends know how sweet the feeling when the juice spigot is full on and the pushing pressure more than enough for placer mining. Last week a friend regaled me with a surreal story of working for a standardized testing company in Texas grading 7th grade essays, this after his entire 300-person training outfit had been dumped by his employer of 20 years — in the interests of “shoring-up” profits. Said company was private and owned by one man and thus the explanation in the mythical plain talk many Texans allegedly pride themselves in using was that the owner wanted more for himself — so 300 had to go. Kurt Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim would no doubt opine: So It Goes. But the riffing, down-sizing, dumping is secondary to the testing company gig. I’d mulled this for a week and wrote an opening sentence last week and Monday morning the whole first draft tumbled out, just over 6,000 words, and it’s even typed (oh my!). Has a working title of STANDARDIZED TESTING, which shall now sit for a while. Two summers ago I wrote approximately 50 short stories in the six months we had up here, but they remain hand-written, untyped, and stacked in a bin for the next short story collection I intend to call UNCHARTED GROUND. Yesterday I knocked off another short story draft, a mere 1,750 words, this with the rough title of THE LAST ANNUAL. Next in my head is a story I call BUGOO HOLLOPA’S PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY. It’s a dandy story, based on true events from the copper country, and concerns a unique (peculiar?) reason for murdering a pal. When will I write that? After it simmers long enough in the upstairs oven. And, I got a new chapter done on A SPORTING OF SKELETONS, the next Grady Service installment (No. 11). The word count there now stands just short of 65,000 words against a rough goal of 100,000, hoping to have first cut done before Labor Day for publication next year. No intent to brag in this report: I offer it only to answer those who ask what it is we “do” up here in the woods for six months. Answer: Work. And you can’t even think about bragging until stuff is in print in the physical world. Until then it’s no more than idle thoughts in one’s head. But there are diversions here as well. This afternoon we shall venture up to the Quincy Mine for the annual rock swap atop the hill at Hancock. The meteorologists have projected zero chance of precipitation here in Alberta today, and yet, it is raining as I write this. Ah the beauty of computer models. Finally, after all this prose, Lonnie and I were drinking morning coffee and watching the birds outside our window this morning, and I picked up a pen and this spewed forth. I am not a poet, but writing poetry forces one into thinking in images and writing tightly, skills the prose needs as well. And it’s fun. When the juice is on, it is truly on:
Airfield in Our Yard
Crack-voiced grackles and barky-barky blackbird formations glider-land on our grass.
Dozens of hovering hummers hoover our sweetshugahwatah,
Their motors buzzing like secondhand outboards.
Baby hairies careen and carom off the suet like random ricochets.
Nuthatches march rigidly straight up and down in their tuxedos.
Goldfinch canaries swarm among razzies and sissies.
Rosies mix with evening grosbeaks, who, for some odd reason, come here to eat only breakfast.
I would loathe to be the air traffic controller for this mob,
Who follow no rules but their own (and perhap’s God’s).
[Alberta, Aug 10, 2016]
Over, but not out. Yet.