Last night we were driving around our small town, looking at Christmas lights. It’s a little disappointing this year. The prime time for putting out lights is mid-to-late November and this year we had temperatures in the minus zero range. So there’s just not as many lights out this year. My cousin the Singing Farmer has a very nice display, as does his sister a few blocks to the northeast. The houses in town that usually go above and beyond have done their best, but many others have fallen by the wayside. And now we’re going to go back in the deep freeze so I doubt if we’ll see many more.
We had the radio on our public classical radio station. They’d play a seasonal classical piece every other song but my wife was getting frustrated with that format. She LOVES Christmas music. I like SOME Christmas music. Much of it is far too much schmaltz and cheese, corny and campy. It’s hard for an old rocker to get into that. So we started scanning through the local stations and it was pretty dire, as I expected. And then it happened, a local pop station was playing Feliz Navidad.
We had just driven out to the farm and I was turning back towards town. My wife cranked up the volume and was happy happy happy. I survived it, the earworm that song can become never happened, and the next song was some Taylor Swift wannabe piece of fluff so we switched back to the classical station. That fit the mood better; driving in the country on a dark road, a Mozart concerto quietly lifting above the road noise. It felt…seasonal.
Sneakers prefers to contemplate the mysteries of the universe. Everyone else in this room is thinking about death; sweet juicy feathered death.
Amy, the Formerly Feral Kitten, is into older men. Her favorite nap companions are Jasper and Sneakers, our sixteen-year-old senior citizens. When she needs a nap after playing HARD she seeks out one of the geezers. I’m not sure why this is, perhaps because they’re so sedentary or they just give off a mellow vibe. But she’ll spend a few hours every afternoon napping with either of the great-grandfathers of the house.
The perspective on this photo is off. Because Amy is closer to the camera than Jasper she appears to be close to his size. That’s an illusion. Standing side by side she is lower than his shoulders and one of his paws would cover a third of her head. I can sweep her up off the floor with one hand. Picking up Jasper or Sneakers takes at least one grunt and a risk to throwing out my back. My guess is Amy will get no bigger than ten pounds. That’s a far cry from either of our big guys’ prime fighting weight but that’s OK. With my back over fifty years old it’s best to not have cats that have to be lifted with a forklift.
Gotta go make with the writing. This short story is getting more ideas and it’s time to wrestle some of them to the page.
Yesterday I took our illuminated pink flamingo out of the basement and got her set up outside. I usually set her up before the ground is frozen solid but winter came early so it was a real struggle getting her staked out and supported.
After Christmas last year I had big plans going forward. I was going to get lights set up on the eaves across the front of the house and get that twelve foot evergreen strung up. Instead the ankle thing happened and it’s a struggle just to climb two steps on a ladder. So next season it is. And I’ll make sure I get everything set up for the flamingo after I cut the lawn for the last time.
Please note the bread behind the first shrub. We try to keep that up all winter for the little things that winter here. Carjo puts out bird seed. Our predatory cats are content with sitting inside and watching the action. Then they curl up on a warm bed, dreaming of murder and mayhem. And maybe of taking out that flamingo.
We finally took the Family Truckster to a body shop in Williston for an estimate on the amount of damage that deer inflicted. The total was about $3900. Damn you brain-dead ruminant. Plus, being it is in Williston, we won’t be able to get it in until February. Everything in Williston is three months behind.
Williston (and Watford City, ND) are ground zero for the oil boom and it is an insane place I do my best to stay away from. They have almost thirty thousand people crammed into a small city that had twelve thousand before the boom. In traffic terms alone that means ten pounds of excrement crammed into a five pound bag. Every restaurant and fast food dive is backed up at lunch and dinner time, the rents surpass those in Manhattan, and ninety percent of those who moved here for the boom were unprepared for the weather and the roads. Make that a dozen pounds of poop.
We had a short list of errands to get done but at every turn we were dodging heavier traffic than we saw living in the Twin Cities. Every store was a zoo with the cages left open. Walmart had a sign advertising starting pay of seventeen bucks an hour. Walmart! Of course seventeen bucks won’t help you when the going rent is a few grand a month, which is why the once pristine countryside is covered with man camps and trailer parks. It makes me grateful of the small house we own and live in.
The traffic on US 2 is always maddening. No, it’s not the level of driving through Chicago but the majority of the vehicles on the road are semis carrying heavy loads, with a percentage of them driven in a reckless manner by itinerant meth addicts with suspended licenses. It’ll keep your knuckles white on the way home, that’s for sure. We drove out to the farm for a victory lap once we got back. Pippin got to prance around in the thin coat of snow and I got to embrace the quiet. There is no quiet in the Boomtown.
I was thinking about David Bowie yesterday. John Scalzi had a blog post on introducing his daughter to Bowie (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2014/12/05/this-is-how-we-educate-our-youth/) and in the list of the five songs he recommended he included the anthem “Heroes”. I applauded that way down thread. But “Heroes” was never meant to be what it has become.
Sometimes art takes on a new meaning, substance that the creator never intended. Pearl Jam’s “Alive” is one example. A real downer of a tune, the chorus seemed so redemptive and affirming that people embraced it as a personal anthem. Another example is David Bowie’s “Heroes”. Intended to be a song about two doomed lovers standing at the Berlin Wall the song became something else, an anthem of heroism. It’s partly that incredible vocal. On the studio version, using gated microphones, Bowie’s vocals take on this impossible intensity that does seem heroic. And such is his mastery that he was able to often match that intensity live.
The recording above is at the Concert for New York City back in 2001. It was a benefit and celebration for all the firemen and police for their heroism in the face of 9/11. By this time Bowie had embraced what the song had become and in front of this audience he delivers a performance he dedicated to the NYFD ladder company in his neighborhood. It still gives me the chills.
As these benefit/tribute concerts go, the Concert for New York was OK. Some performances were great, some were spotty, and the videos and dedications in between acts were really hit and miss. And then there’s the Who, who just went out there and destroyed the place.