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Monthly Archives: November 2011

hello

in the mornings its real cold. cold like you’ve walked into a fridge.
you clothing gets that coldness, where you dont know whether they’re
damp or cold. often its just lightly drizzling, and its always a rush
to the nearest spot of warmth. it doesnt matter if its a toilet, a
kitchen, or a car. juts anywhere warm.

at round midday, it warms up by a couple of degrees. two. its bearable
then. just. you can be outside enjoyably then, but only when the sun
is shining. which is rarely. the window on these rare occasions is
short lived. the the sun leaves its midday stop, and again the
temperature drops. colder now than morning.

outside your hands lose circulation swiftly. knuckles and fingertips
turn first white, then blue, then gather a orange-ish tinge. any
knock, or nick is magnified ten fold. the light fades fast. then turns
everything a blue-ish hue. the colour of cold.

good night.

eden gave me ten minutes to write this before we play monopoly. shes
standing over me now, telling me to hurry up, so that we can play
monopoly before eight. i have to go. bye.

hello

today i helped levi with a job. it was to replace the floor of a
bathroom. dirty, smelly work. rotten wood, and corpse smelling
linoleum. hammers, pry bars and power tools employed. bashing,
smashing and crashing. white powdery dust from the dry walls up your
nose. red eyes. caked lips.

today i was busy. and the time flew by.
its only eight oclock now, and i couldve fallen asleep an hour ago,
with my hands in the warm water, washing dishes. i better make sure i
dont fall asleep in the shower just now.

tomorrow its a full day again. im excited. its good to work.

river on the way up to crater lake

bokeh on the water

snow road

feet in snow

with the day in the sun still lingering in my half asleep head, and the lights out in my whales belly, somebody pounds on my door. opens it. jesses very american voice booms in saying “ill pick you up at eight oclock tomorrow morning”. i dint know what to think. i was pretty sure that the next day was saturday. so it couldnt be that i was being picked up for church. i didnt know what was going on. so i agreed and lay in bed wondering till i fell asleep.

i woke up to the same hard knocking the next morning. “oh boy” i thought. jesse opens the door, this time sticks his head in and says, “its eight o clock”.
oh no. ive overslept, and am keeping jesse waiting. and i dont even know what ive overslept for or keeping jesse waiting for. i get up, foggily pull on my jeans and socks. get on my jumper and run out to the car. there i get warned that i may need another. i run back to the trailer, and grab all the warm clothing i own. so with out breakfast or coffee, and still half asleep, i stumble, and half fall into his his patriotically red and silver american pick up, with native american indian memorobelia hanging from the rear view mirror. “you excited?” – now i dont even know what im doing up so early on a cold saturday morning, let alone what i should be excited for, so i just tell him that yes, im very excited, and that i cant wait.
the roads are foggy and winding. decapitated deer with their entrails strewn out, like bloodied rorschach tests, at regular intervals on the side of the road. through methods of surreptitious deduction, i figure out that we’re going to meet two others in a little town an hours drive away, then we’ll drive up somewhere with them. and all the while im clueless.
all i know is that i’ll need warm clothes, and that im still half asleep.
we get to the town of coquille (co-keel), and pull up into a supermarket parking lot. jesse offers to buy me some breakfast. we get out the car, walk in and i begin to arb around. theres just about nothing for me to eat. everything is covered in sugar, or has enough dairy to feed a calf. i find the fruit and nut section, and settle on a nice big packet of almonds and a smaller one of dates. while im looking down one of the isles i see robert, and his fourteen year old son caleb, looking at flu medicines. robert and caleb are two of the church regulars, with super big hearts. they’re the ones that got the crabbing expedition setup the day before. they are the mystery two missing from the picture. “you ready for crater lake?” beams robert.
we stock up on breakfast, and lunch – which is generously sponsored by robert. the drive is going to be a long one. we pile into the car, and are off. so were going to a lake. that is in a crater. and its three hours inland. and its going to be cold. caleb and robert consistently plough me with questions about south africa. like “whats it like?”, “what type of food do you eat?”, “do you have any friends there”, “do you get trees in south africa?”. just so many actually i cannot recall most. there were a wealth of questions, flowing endlessly almost. most quite absurd really.
i began to wonder if i had been chosen to accompany them, purely as a source of entertainment. i hadnt been. somewhere in the conversation robert tells me that he had moved around when he was young a whole bunch, and had always been shown around and treated real kind by others, so he wanted to do the same for me. what love i thought, and after that i was prepared to answer all questions that were thrown at me, best i could, no matter how ridiculous they sounded.
the country as we progressed, changed from mountains with thick dark fir and pine trees, to fertile green and yellowy flat farm lands, to rivers and rapids charging their way through the earth, eating at the river banks with their cold white teeth. the landscape is dramatic here. sometimes almost cheesy as to how beautiful it is. driving through yellow domed ceilings of leaves, watching as the rogue leaves, twirl, and drift slowly to the tarmac floor.
gradually the road becomes quieter, the trees thicker. elevation posts appear periodically – two thousand feet, two thousand five hundred feet. three thousand feet. little at first, then larger patches of snow, dirty and melting on the road side are pointed out to me. then sheets of pure white, silky snow, draped over the landscape appear. no clouds in the sky, just a brilliant blue. we stop off to see the “clear lake fall”, but the car wont make it up the road, because the snows too thick. we decide we’ll walk it. with onlly the sound of snow crunching under our feet, we march off down the white carpeted road. the tress towering overhead, blocking all sunlight. we come across deer tracks in the snow. its a beautiful sight when we get to it. bright green moss growing on the fallen logs trapped in the waterfall. this way and that. slow capped. white, harsh, water rushing down, and above, quiet and still. beautiful. serene. not a movement.
my cameras battery died before i managed to take a picture. and i didnt have others. so i stopped taking pictures and started throwing snowballs instead. slipping around in my flat shoes, up an down the slopes, and on the snow that had turned to ice on the road. what a beautiful space in the woods. and only the four of us. we walked back. we still had two hours of driving up a mountain. and there was sure to be more snow there. and more fresh.
we arrived at crater lake, after braving iced up roads, slipping around wildly, precariously winding roads, snow stacked up shoulder height on the sides. just another world. when we get to the top, the air is thin and burns each time you take in a breath. the road is covered in thin ice, slippery, ready to catch you on each step. the snow up here is dry to the touch, and walking on it, each step, you sink down to your knees. it was awe inspiring. then we get to see the lake. and i realise the reason for its name. is in the pit of an inactive volcano crater. the rim is about a hundred meters above the lake, with a forty five degree slope, covered in ice and snow careering down to the deathly cold waters below.
i jumped, and flung myself into the snow away from the edge, sinking into a cold, dry white tomb. i trashed about, dancing prostrate, creating snow angels. two in a row. beautiful creations of mine. white on white. dancing with each other on this vast landscape of white. who knows where they are now. dancing to the sound of falling snow.
i took that as my birthday present. a white birthday.
on the way back, in the morning, the sun was out shining through the trees on the drive home, a leaf is set free and drift to the floor, haloed by a ray of light, i caught myself humming “Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon, Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned, Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain, Can you paint with all the colours of the wind?”
i laughed at myself as we drove back home along the winding road.

kids pulling funny faces

totem poles in the parking lots

pelican on the docks

detail of pelican

coffee break

old man with chocolate on his cheek

with storms lined up on the pacific, forecast to pound the coast with unrelenting wind, rain, and gray and foul weather for the next two weeks, any chance of even the slightest glimpse of sun was completely out of the question. and then this morning, sleeping off the gluttony of yesterday, i was awakened to the sound of sunshine, singing quietly to itself, in its joyful reflection, refraction, diffraction, and dispersion through its perfect and brilliantly sparkling little dew droplet neighbors, temporarily perched on blades of grass, leaves, twigs and gathered together in puddles on the driveway.

not even the dogs were barking. all was still, while the previously forlorn earth quietly bathed in the glory of the long missed sun.
everybody in the good mood that the sun brought with it, decided to go down to the docks for the day. some crabbing, others fishing, while most others there just for the sunshine and the smell of the sea. the ocean was rough and seething in the river mouth, but calm at the docks.
seagulls swooping down, snatching bait and left overs from the fishermen – old weathered faced men, dressed in yellow rain coats, and big black gum boots, gray beards, sitting on their upturned buckets – talking to the pelicans, seagulls, little kids and whoever wished to listen to their tales of the sea and old, while smoked thick as burnt rubber curls up slowly from their ancient pipes and mixes with the salty air.
none of us caught any crabs, they had been filled, probably with turkey from the day previous. but it was an adventure none the less. all the townsfolk came out down to the sea, to its little restaurants, bars and coffee shops. the buzz of amiable conversation, and the smell of food on the breath of the wind.
now im back at home writing to you, while everybody eats humble turkey soup, made from left overs, with cousins and friends, while family and more friends gather and migrate to the avery’s for the game night. dishes are being washed now, while the kids run around, eating turkey shaped gingerbread cookies eager to start the games.

happy turkey day all.

in the room that levi and myself helped build and panel, the plates are laden high with carved ham, yams, mash potato, and the glorious golden turkey. all drowned in a brown meaty gravy, or cranberry sauce. glasses filled to the brim with sparkling apple and cranberry cider. hungry anticipation. some are already nibbling on their biscuits, or picking at their portion of the bird. grandpa gives thanks for the food. everybody dives in. the sound of knives squeaking on glazed plates. the silence of chewing. the odd eye contact. the thanks giving feast in full swing. slowly the conversation starts. polite, and short. mumbled words. “please pass the butter”s, and “thank you”s and “would you like some more”s? gradually bellies are filled, reflected by more talking and less eating. family jokes passed around, as well as babies from mothers to fathers, to grandmothers to grand fathers. everybody gets a share in the love.

then only nibbling here and there. the kids manage to sneak out to go play in the lounge, leaving the “grown ups”.
the wine comes out. a giant bottle of red. everybody left gets a glass. some finish theirs triumphantly and go for seconds, while others, more timid with their slurps, are happy with only one. postures slowly slacken and smiles grow.

after an hour of us idly picking at celery and carrot sticks to lessen the guilt of gluttony , eden walks in and asks if we can eat the desserts and pies. its a unanimous no. the five minutes later, a daughter-in-law walks in and asks the same question. its a semi-no this time.
a little while later the interest migrates kitchen side. to the smell of a fresh apple pie baking in the oven. with the deserts come quite animated conversations. everybody feeling more comfortable in their selves. conversation from crabbing to the crusades, to the atom bomb, nagasaki and hiroshima, drone bombings, al queda and terrorists. i couldnt believe some of the comments dropped, proverbially like the atom bombs talked about.
so, a second thanks giving in the us, done.
tummy large and happy, full of fake meat.
good night and good luck. and lots of love.

i have these wonderful blue berry bushes
that live outside my front door.
we share our experiences
and have grown accustomed to each other.

we often wake up in time to see the sunrise together,
or to tell the neighbours dog to stop barking so early in the morning.

they are there to guide me home in the pitch black of night,
when the puddles from the rain are deep and sneaky, waiting for a misplaced footing.
there to keep me company when the rain dissipates, with their faint and sweetly smell.
you have to come close to smell them; they’re strongest in the late evening air.

my blue berry bushes, with their heavy laden boughs,
of which i had become so proud of.
until i was sent to harvest its fruits
and chop them up for thanks giving pie.

its the day before, and there are pictures of turkeys even on google, that animate when you scroll your mouse over. theres lots of commotion in the kitchen, whith preparations for the big day. the turkeys out, and defrosting, kept company by the ham.

the girls are all rolling out pie crusts, and mixing away ferociously at the pumkin pie. celtic music is on in the background, and the smell of cinnamon is overwhelmingly strong.

the blue berries are in a pot, slowly simmering away. while the oven is heating up, ready to take its first load.

the rain and the wind have been unrelenting, and last night i thought the caravan might be blown over. i hardly slept, and was awake for most of the night. ready to get out at short notice.

i am now in the death of it, taking its last feeble breaths. the light is extinguished, and smothered by the blanket of night.

ive been cooped up in doors all day, so i tried my hand at some crafts. i didnt know that it would be so much fun – gluing, cutting and pasting bits of paper down for hours. with the amusement of a child.
the winds been crazy here today. it got up to fifty miles an hour earlier. the roof sounds like its about to be torn off – for some reason the americans love to live in glorified wendy houses. nothing is made of brick or stone. all wood. every bit of it.
stan, the head of the house here, went to the police department for me today, and organised so that i could drive around town with my south african drivers licence for thirty days. hopefully i wont be here for that long, but its nice to know that if i need to, i can take a car and drive. although, driving on the other side of the road is so difficult to get used to. already i have ended up on the other, more comfortable left hand side, too often, each time to be jolted back onto the right hand side by the fact that if there was any on coming traffic, i would be in a world of trouble. it is getting better though. and this evening on the way to the post office, i only slipped back into ignorance once.
yeah. i had been out driving illegally a couple of times before, when i had my scares on the wrong side of the road – luckily not the law. sorry mom and gran. its perfectly legal and safe now, so i wont get deported.
i think that meals are chosen according to the days here. its very different from what im used to. it feels like, “didnt we eat that last night?”. i guess it does makes sense to have a routine. although there is no excitement, no wonderings, like what im used to. no wonderings of “what are we going to eat tonight?”, or “what do i feel like?”, or “can i even afford to eat dinner tonight?”.
i was too tired to really type anything the other night, but after church on sunday, on the way back home, we stopped of at jesses’ ranch – who is the son of mum and dads good friend rahab – a short stocky 23 year old scottish/irish america, with a ginger beard and light thinning blonde hair covered by an old fashioned chimmeny sweepers cap – where we went for a walk. it was icy, and our breathing made silver clouds that hung in the afternoon air. through the underbrush we went with jesse telling me stories of cougars and mountain lions that are fast, stealthy and strong enough to kill a man, then onto bow hunting and his first kill, then to the local deere and how they are so difficult and illusive they are to hunt. and as he said that i stopped. took two steps back, and peered into the forest. the faint outline of a blacktail deere emerged. glorious in its camouflage, it looked at me, turned its head and slowly walked away, disappearing in the low light of the forest.
just to make an example of how off the radar the family is that im staying with – and this is a good thing – somehow the word “american pop idols” came up in conversation. nobody had heard of it. they didnt know what it was, or what it meant. its really lovely to be around people so untainted by the media. they are all so interesting, and in their own world, totally apart from the rest of us.
on that i must leave you all and bid you good night.