Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Blue Nile

Here is a bit of insight into one of my absolutely favorite bands. If you ever discover one of their four albums tucked in the back of a music store like a pearl of great price, pick it up and start listening to it about once a week over the course of a year. The sound will work its way into your bones and you'll soon find that you have to come back to it and play it again.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crime and Minor Superheroes

Andy Vandergriff walked through the chattering echo chamber of West Towne Mall toward his friend who sold cell phones at a lonely and rather exposed kiosk in the middle of the walkway. The conversation they struck up was somewhat nondescript, peppered with statements about how boring the day had been. How exciting could life be, after all, sitting in the confines of West Towne Mall? One can imagine hoping for a paycheck to compensate for the time spent staring at a forlorn cash register that stares blandly back like some awkward mechanical marsupial.

“Stop her! Stop that woman!”

The alarmist cry poured out onto the drab tile floor like acid and spread to the curious ears of passing shoppers.

“Stop that woman!”

They looked again to see the woman in question, barreling down the breezeway, loaded to the gills with hundred-dollar handbags. In her eyes, one could glean the thoughts of a rat leaving a hawk’s nest with an egg. Behind her – by a widening margin, mind you – came the manager of the store, making admirable yet limited progression in an acute pair of heels. Andy looked at his friend, and his friend looked back. The tonnage of comprehension smote their understanding, and both wondered, What can be done? What else was there to do?

Andy took off running like Gomer Pyle. He passed the manager. He gained ground on the shoplifter, who was now heading with purpose and desperation towards the door to the parking lot, the gate out of Mr. MacGregor’s garden, as it were. She turned and saw him coming – more than six feet of him. In a panic, she blew ballast, dropping all the handbags in a dire bid for freedom. Caught in a tangle of thousands of dollars worth of shoulder straps, Andy went down, skidding on his knees into the lightly hung automatic doors at the mall entrance, which, in polite obeisance, flew from their flimsy hinges to hang at perverse angles in the wake of a two-hundred-pound man running at top speed.

The manager caught up, and they followed the foiled shoplifter to her getaway car, taking down license numbers. Afterward, the hero went to Chick-fil-A and treated himself to a milkshake, the fuel of heroes. All in a day’s work.

Oh, and if you see someone around town riding a black, silver, and yellow Mongoose mountain bike with a sticker proclaiming, “Andrew Peterson is my friend,” tell them I’d love to have my ‘other car’ back. Otherwise, I’m sending the ‘Handbag-Snatcher Snatcher’ after them. Maybe he does bikes, too. I’ll buy him a shake.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Taste of Learning

Our dog has a tendency towards classy tastes.

I first discovered this when I went outside and found that her love of pesto had resulted in the forceful removal of my basil plant from one of the vegetable beds. I found it (somewhat munched) several feet away, looking mildly shriveled and suffering the effects of Post-traumatic stress disorder inasmuch as can be expected from a plant.

My belief in Killy's desire to expand her horizons was further reinforced when I walked into the living room to discover that the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, which I had left tastily open on the floor, had suffered an exhaustive chewing, assumedly accompanied by a meditation on the flavors of biblical references. Killy was saved from an untimely trouncing by the fact that as I held the book in my hand, the words, Concordance of the Bible, came into view. It didn't seem very Christian to abuse my dog, lest she should confront me verbally like Balaam's ass.

The good but anti-climactic news is that both the basil and the concordance have lived through the experience to fight another studious day.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

For Your Mother and Mine

I opened an apple,
I found a seed.
Strange, that life waited
in the plain guise of death-
or maybe it was sleep.

The fruit ambrosial
dripped with myrrh;
a breath of sweet dizzy air,
a caressing of creekwater-
its song was heard,

but it died soon,
shriveled, unshriven.
It waited in the ground, in
the grey memorial of the mind-
for redemption given.

Perhaps death faltered,
careless or powerless.
From the loins of his slaves
flew the captives unchained-
crowned with hope's tress.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Green Thumb and a High Horse

A garden, I thought.

She wants squash, and I want tomatoes. We've each picked one vegetable. We can do this, I won't kill them this time.

So, with full confidence in my nonexis...*ahem*...newfound abilities to neither nurse nor neglect our vegetables to death, I entered the Amazonian sanctum of my backyard, braving ludicrous grass that grows at the speed of bad news and yet refuses to cover the bare patches. I carried with me a mattock and a shovel, and I began to live out my Wendell Berrian fantasy of being a man of the soil, heaving sizable chunks of turf behind me into a pile. I think I found every rock in East Tennessee in my yard.

A plan, no, an operation, began to formulate in the gears of my mind. I would need to keep the dog out. She would dig into the small plot and also eat the squash itself, once it was edible. A fence, said logic to me. A fence is what would guard the fruits and vegetables of your labor from curious canine teeth and paws. So I kissed my wife (deep in the middle of a Sunday afternoon nap) and said, "I'm off to Home Depot!"

To walk the busy grounds of that grandiose cathedral of DIY-ism is to see the American dream in its shiniest golden gilding, all dressed up to be your date. I go in there and my mind wanders to all that can be done to a house. But this go 'round, I bought only the necessities, even shrinking the list a bit, as my infallible scheme of vegetable protection suffered budget cuts. I bought chicken wire, tomato cages and stakes, a bit of rebar, and a bit of 1x2, all to build a dog-proof cage, an Eden for crookneck squash.

Thirty minutes into my endeavors, after I had fought valiantly with the chicken wire - which was determined to be extremely introverted and temperamental, like an emo teenager - and stretched it out and cut it into the correct proportions, I was about two-thirds finished with the cage. I would get it done before sunset. I would be the man of the house, the man of the soil. At that point, Katrina walked out onto the back porch, and the following exchange took place:

"What are you doing, honey?"

"I'm making a cage to keep Killy out of the squash."

"Why don't we just train her to keep out of it?"


And so, fourty-four wasted dollars later (the cost of humility...priceless), we have squash plants in the ground, a dog in training, and a husband in awe of the simple logic which toppled the ivory tower of his over-complicated gardening plans.

I love my wife.