June 2009 Issue

The window behind my writing table looks out on a vast field stretching to the horizon, containing only corn, coyotes, and the occasional wandering meth-head in search of anhydrous ammonia.  Sometimes I see things on fire from my window, mostly houses because incinerating one’s own home is a popular pastime around here. The precursor to the house with the red roof about a mile away over there, for instance, burned down last year due to an overloaded insurance policy. Unfortunately, the owner had stored so much ammunition in the closets that the Fire Department had to wait a ways down the road for an hour while the rounds “cooked off.”  Fortunately, it was all fairly small-caliber stuff and we were well out of range.

In the corner of my office is a schoolteacher’s desk from the 1920s which I bought in 1969 for five bucks at a thrift store in Chillicothe and have been dragging around the world for 40 years.  The tooth marks on the front edge there are a souvenir of Trevor, a foul-tempered Shetland pony I bought from some gypsies and kept in my rooms at Oxford.  Eventually the college administrators noticed that neither Trevor nor I were actually enrolled, whereupon Trevor, Oxford and I parted ways.  I haven’t been able to get the drawer on that desk open since 1976, and I fear that whatever’s in there is now even more illegal than it was back then.  But I can’t actually sit at the desk anyway because I put a kitty-litter pan in the kneehole in a futile attempt to teach the cats proper office decorum.

The bookcases over to the left there are actually perfectly plumb — it’s the floor that tilts.  Yes, it’s very disturbing, as if the whole house were sinking, which it is, but I try to avoid thinking about it.  Atop the bookcase you’ll notice my collection of plastic lobsters, the legacy of an ill-advised vacation many years ago in Maine.  Apparently the primitive tribes there worship the damn things, but you couldn’t pay me to eat one.  The gargoyles were acquired during my Dark Period in the early 1990s, when I listened to nothing but requiems and lay prostrate on the settee all day, weeping bitterly.

On the shelves are books that people send me, mostly the folks at Oxford University Press, who got confused a few years ago and input my name into their database three or four times, so now I get multiple copies of every flipping book they publish. Lately someone over there has apparently sold my name(s) to Random House, because I received three copies of P. O’C.’s latest book last month and there are probably more in the mail as we speak.  No, I haven’t read it, but I enjoyed the cover(s). Over there on the lower shelves are stacks of my own books (the barn being full), which I buy because it makes my agent happy.  But lately I’ve been thinking my money would be better spent on ammunition.

Of course it’s true. Most of it, anyway.

And now, on with the show….

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3 comments on this post.
  1. nola:

    Ha, “nasty old month!” I take umbrage at such a description of the most beautiful month of the year. I would have you know that the German poet Heine wrote a poem titled: In the beautiful month of May, and Schuman composed music to the words. I also think that Brahms has something about May. This month is especially beloved in Europe. (climate I presume.
    As you see I am predjudiced in favor of this month, and the reason is not hard to guess. But I also couldn’t enjoy that month as well as this one, because of allergies. So I understand your crankiness.

    Wishing you better feeling,



  2. Steverino:

    The Opera browser (www.opera.com), free, has two nifty features I use to compensate for my poor eyesight:

    –the zoom feature. Big deal, right? Well, you can zoom using the + and – keys (I use the numeric keypad on the right), and the * key right next to them restores the page to normal 100%. I recline with the keyboard at a comfortable arms length, navigate to my page at 100%, and then zoom in to read what I want.

    –the “fit to width” feature. Developed for their mini cell-phone browser, it re-wraps the screen to eliminate the side-to-side scrolling you’d otherwise have to use after you zoom a page.

    Opera is a good browser anyway, but those two features make it a must-have for me. One downside to it is that it’s strict on standards, and you need to have IE or Firefox handy for some sites.

  3. Jeff Vincent:

    A chum encoraged me to read this site, nice post, fanstatic read… keep up the cool work!

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