Sunday, February 28, 2016

a pea-picklin’ diary a sneez-a-bleed-a-rama

I spent much of the day typing, working on a prototype for the first typed-by-hand book. It is all of four 4-by-6-inch pages, though that is without the title and end pages. I worked with the blog post “here / where I love.” I had to retype it several times, not so much for design but for the incessant rewriting I do, the small word change here, there, and then the removal of a relatively large block of text right when I thought I was done with it all. How could I have typed that passage over and over not realizing what a hunk of words it was, about as lovely and necessary as a third thumb.

Received a “Save the Date” email for a fall wedding and also the application for this year’s farmers market. The world is out there.

A full moon shone on the three of us as we stepped out on the porch just after waking. It is such a fine time of day/night. There is a bright star, probably a planet, just left of the moon, up a bit, and now I’ve looked it up and it is Jupiter. So this morning already I have seen many millions of miles into space and found a bright light, another planet. Josie and I went back out on the porch but there were purple ribbons of clouds that the moon and Jupiter hid behind. A dog was barking way off at the neighbor’s and soon Josie threw back his head, was barking and howling too. I brought him in, but he can’t forget that there is another dog out there, so we go out a third time, and now it is a grey mawkish dawn with a streak of orange low in the southeast sky, and there is a strange low moaning and howling coming from all around, rising and falling like gentle waves on the low end of a decibel meter, like whale song in a fishbowl. I concentrate, pin it to the southern horizon. Wolves, maybe coyotes. Josie, poised and alert on the southern tip of the porch, stays quiet.

Elliott is still sneezing, still on antibiotics, not going out much—three things I wish would change.

Tuesday afternoon Elliott had an epic nosebleed, a monumental episode of sneezing blood. Luckily I was right there when it started. I grabbed a box of tissues and simply held balls of them to his nose as best I could until it stopped—the sneez-a-bleed-a-rama played as long as the Yiddish lullaby CD I had just put on. After it was over, Elliott went out, came in, and it all started up again. Then, he ate. I put him back out, called the vet, and while talking to the vet I found odd drops of blood here and there.

I took a blood sample to the vet. He found all the usual stuff—red blood cells, white blood cells, mucus, bacteria. We scheduled a big diagnostic operation for next week. The vet will look up Elliott’s nose, x-ray his head, draw blood in case we need blood work, maybe do a swab for a culture thing. Of course they’ll knock him out for all this. We had a long discussion about the procedures, possible outcomes, expense. Fact is, we may go through all this and know nothing more than we know now. Still, we’ll get a peek inside Elliott’s head. Meanwhile, Sneezy is off the antibiotics, eating up a storm, insisting on going out at four a.m., hiding around corners, jumping on Josie.

I have finished the prototype for “here / where I love,” last night stitching it together. I have three more typed, plan to do ten, am waiting on some rubber stamps I ordered so I can illustrate. Once again I rue having sold my boxful of rubber stamps and ink pads at that yard sale before moving north twelve years ago. Why did I do that? So many images I miss.

In the midst of typing one of the books I got terribly excited with an idea for the next: “Fifty Rubles: When Great Uncle Ben Came to America.” A plain retyping of the 1904 Cincinnati newspaper article that purported to be one long quote from Ben, that young lad from Poland who came to America looking for his brother and sister.

All week I have been thinking about the man who once walked by my candle booth at the Marquette farmers market and said, “You must have a lot of time on your hands.” I still can’t figure out what he meant.

The square bit of floor at the bottom of the stairs is red! The second coat of paint went on Wednesday morning and yesterday I removed the makeshift barricade. It is such a cubbyhole of a space, walled in as it is by the stairs, the bathroom wall, and the cabin’s east wall, opening just on one side to the living room, but the living room has a different floor—all those old boards from the silo—and so this square space has always seemed to be its own space, a space with an unfinished, splotchy wood floor marred by two smears of white paint, an arc of dark soaked-in blood, and a series of water stains like high tide marks. After sanding and washing, the splotchiness remained, so I decided to take the red paint that I had used for the trim around the hole in the bathroom wall and use it here, letting the color spill, as it were, from the bath into this space. I was inspired to do something with the floor because I had, last week, at long last, finished the Bathroom Hole In The Wall Project.

You may wonder why the folks who put this cabin together constructed just half a wall between the bathroom and the living room. Me too. But it works well for air flow, light flow, and animal flow. I hope in time that spider plant will look better. Elliott cropped it pretty close.

How can one not mention a late February day of mostly sunshine and near 50 degrees? Snow remains, but is receding. The river is the color of strong tea. Slabs of ice are jumbled up along its shore. In the morning there is birdsong and a smell of spring. Just a first push. Plenty of winter left. I dug up a bit of Elliott’s catnip, potted it, brought it in. It’s legal, I think, as long as he gnoshes on it for medicinal purposes only.


  1. I know an excellent illustrator whose whimsical artwork (as opposed to rubber stamps) would only enhance your typed word!!

  2. Oohhhh..... I hope Elliott will be ok. How old is he now?

    1. He's 6 or 7 years old. And he seems quite healthy otherwise. Tomorrow's the big day at the vet. Keep good thoughts!

  3. Please leave a comment on this post when you find out what it is... (I signed up for updates for this one.) I'll be thinking of you guys...

  4. Elliott's got a persistent infection in his right nasal passage -- it's all swollen and inflamed. So more antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory. Plus lots of rest, as always!

  5. OK, that sounds like something that can heal. Maybe cook for him for awhile, too... Salmon and quinoa? I really do not trust pet foods... I still do give them to my dogs, but also mix in people food.