Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sunny Days Are The Worst


Sunny days are the worst for writing.

I find many reasons to get up and do anything but.

Walking to the bathroom with the sun in a 47 degree angle on my hip I notice wisps of dog hair, both white and blackish red. The white is Herk’s, the black, velvety hair is Ebony’s. How can I sit down and ignore them. As I grab the vacuum and follow the sun I discover a new world on the laminate. How come I didn’t see this yesterday, or any day for that matter? More wisps of hair, dust, breadcrumbs and a squished shield bug. A grey yellow jacket, curled up in a postmortem fetal position. Did we vacuum this one up and it crawled back out? Only to catch its last breath, the first of fresh air in a long time, at the mouth of the hose?

Done vacuuming, back to the computer. The rustling of aspen and alders is soothing. I should find my momentum anytime now. Maybe underneath all this stuff on my desk? Love, by Toni Morrison. I had been working on my very own German translation of it. Becoming A Writer, by Dorothea Brande, upside down, open on page 85. Why did I stop reading and bury it under the Anchorage Press, some pages of the Daily News, three pretty notebooks, half off, for all those writing exercises till Doomsday, ah, there’s the jewel case for Habib Koité, might as well clean that up.

As I get up and look for another Habib Koité CD to get me back into the writing groove I notice some white spots on my window frame. Oblong shapes stick horizontally on the side frame. Could those be ladybug eggs? I had bought 1500 half dormant eggs at the nursery up the street to help control the aphids outside and some that had started getting comfortable on my dill and parsley inside. I google “ladybug eggs” in the image category and find photos of yellow egg clusters on organic material. I google “eggs on window frame” next and get 428,000 results, most of them for bed bugs. Since the sleeping quarters are upstairs and I don’t recall getting bit I discard this option and settle for Asian lady bug eggs. I need to get back to my story.

Let’s see. A ten-year old boy who turns out to be half human, half alien had just attacked the housekeeper. She calls his father who seems more concerned with the price of gas for his two-tank truck. I don’t like where this story is going, so I risk a look outside. Stillness is different in the summer. Even when there is no intrusive sound the air is pregnant with life. The sun is so loud it hurts my eyes. Better take a look at the plants; maybe step out to water them real quick. The computer doesn’t know thirst and can wait. I get up and stretch. Yes, it’s definitely time for a break. I push the screen door aside and step out on the balcony facing Pioneer Peak, our very own Denali here in the Valley. The summit still sports some snow.

Sure enough, my vegetable beds are grey and dry. I pick up the hose and water from my first floor vantage point. I can reach three beds this way and my cabbages and kale in the first bed are already beginning to look droopy.  In bed number two, crowded carrot tips begin to show that I got carried away with the seed packet again and I can barely tell the difference between kohlrabi, broccoli and mustard greens at this early stage. I fight the urge to go downstairs and take a closer look, maybe pull some chickweed and lambs quarter, or thin out some of the carrots.

Five out of seven zucchini in the third bed are a product of my impatience and therefore not thriving as they could be had I waited just a couple of weeks. However, the tropical temperatures in early April seduced me into an early start. My plants look small and overwhelmed, like preemies, but they are stubborn and hang on, despite the weekend’s thunderstorms and bean sized hail. Maybe I should put on some Mozart for them?

I better get back inside. On my way in yet another mosquito latches on and sucks hungrily until I smear it across my arm. Now I have to go find my purple anti-itch-miracle-stick, otherwise I will scratch the bite and not be able to write one decent paragraph. While I look for the stick I get a refill of cold Earl Grey with milk. Might as well add some ice cubes. Of course the purple stick is not where I had left it, on the bathroom counter, so I make a pledge not to look for it any longer than five minutes. I scan the living room, rummage through the mess of papers, letters and magazines on the dining table, throw over a glass with just a tiny bit of water, run for some paper towels, remember that a cleaning cloth will do just fine and I might save half a tree branch, and hurry back to my desk before the spirit of distraction gets the best of me. Maybe I have adult ADD? I can barely stop myself from looking it up online.

Where was I now? Ah yes, the half alien little boy. Maybe I should make him not alien after all, just strange? In any case, the housekeeper needs to look for a remedy, or get help from the boy’s parents or relatives. Maybe there has been a dark secret in his past that caused his angry tantrums, but whence shall he get his enormous physical strength?
Maybe they could visit the Shaman in the Native village close by? Maybe I should start on another chapter of the story. Maybe I should start another story. This one is going nowhere. Nothing in it is enticing, let alone remotely interesting.

I lean back in my swivel chair and press my eyes shut. The sun has moved around the house and hits the west window now. I notice I missed another dust spot and more dog hair where the sun hits the floor, but I stay put this time. My thoughts travel back to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, my favorite novel ever, and I wonder what her secret is. How long does it take until your characters talk to you? How still do you have to be to hear their voices? What if I don’t have it? What if my ears are not equipped, or willing?

In less than an hour dinner has to be ready. I can reheat the penne rigate, maybe add a jar of Alfredo sauce or just sprinkle some grated cheese on top? I can decide later, once I figure out how to cook the rock fish.

I turn to check on my ladybug eggs. They are turning dark grey. I gingerly scrape them off with the Swiss army knife I found in my waders and let them drop into a clean chutney jar. It is hard to discern with the naked eye, but what looks like white eggs turning dark are actually tiny larvae, crocodiles in a microcosm. I run outside to pick a birch leaf full of aphids and put it in the jar. The aphids look like giants next to the tiny larvae. I can’t wait to see who eats whom. This science project is saving my day. Maybe that’s what I should write about. The science projects that pop up around the creative processes. There you go. Maybe tomorrow.
If the clouds are back.