Thursday, October 28, 2010


We have fake spiderwebs over the front door, grinning stuffed spiders hanging from the silk, and six pumpkins in varying degrees of scariness lining the steps (I was worried Halloween would bring up some disturbing imagery to the girls so soon after their Grandma's recent death, but it turns out the holiday is much too cartoonish to summon anything emotionally real). We have candy. We have costumes. We have roasted pumpkin seeds.

Adding to the flavor of the season: every kid in the neighborhood is convinced our house is haunted. I am not. I'm open to the idea of ghosts, though I've never seen one (with possibly one exception, but that's another post). But our house feels too sane, too safe, too comfortable. I will admit to visualizing a ghostly woman at the end of the hallway late at night, some nights, but I have a laughably active imagination.

The girls, blessed/cursed with similar imaginations, both say they've seen a woman walking past their bedroom doorways, in the same hallway where I imagine my own apparition.

Still, I am unconvinced. Bolstering my beliefs is the fact that ghost hunters actually investigated our house the year before we moved in. I say ghost hunters; they are a group of stoner kids that work at the Loaf N Jug down the street. But they've got ambitions, they've fashioned themselves into a team of ghostbusters, and so brought in video cameras and sound recorders, searched the house, found nothing.

No matter. Our house is 117 years old, it looks haunted. Add in the dusty attic, the Hannibal Lecter-ready basement. Who need proof? Not our kids, or our neighbor's kids. They have something much more powerful: belief.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Future of American Fiction

I helped with the spelling - note curious is spelled "cireis" in the illustration - but all words and pictures are K's.

The Cat
written by Kaylene Wood
illustrated by Kaylene Wood

I once had a kitten named Blake. I named my kitten Blake because he was a blake cat. And was very curious.

After that he accidentally ate dog food and got sick because he ate dog food.

He was very tired and so he dropped on the carpet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Zombies in Space

The Damned Thing just won't die.

The Galaxy 15 C-band telecommunications satellite went off orbit and out of control in April. It can't be repositioned, it can't be turned off, and interference from it is disrupting signals from other satellites.

Admittedly, the reason this is in the news at all is likely because someone nicknamed it a "zombie satellite." To my mind that is somewhat of a misnomer, as a true zombie satellite would not only kill other satellites but turn them into other zombie satellites as well. The glitch would go viral. Sadly, all the Damned Thing does is temporarily disrupt signals.

Still, scientists predicted it would die in August, after all its power was drained (the different orbit means its solar panels are not pointed directly at the sun anymore). What they didn't count on was that the satellite is able to save energy during periods it is in the Earth's shadow. No one expected that to happen. So it's still alive, still kicking, still spreading its zombie goodness throughout the solar system.

They have had to change the orbits of 6 satellites so far to avoid the zombie, and expect to have to change the orbits of 7 more between now and December. By then, the experts say it should die.

I'm hoping otherwise.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Hux and I took the girls and my Dad to the Gubernatorial debate downtown last night. John Hickenlooper, Don Maes, and Tom Tancrado. My proudest moment was when eldest pointed to the stage and said "which one is crazy as a loon?" The answer, of course, being Tom Tancrado.

Our kids were only two kids in the audience, it turned out. And they behaved very well, though youngest and I went out to the lobby a couple times to get her wiggles out, and watched much of the debate from the back of the room. It turned out to be a good vantage point: TV cameras, reporters, lotsa folks typing on laptops, lotsa aides running around.

Tancredo got my vote as the guy I'd most want to have a beer with, though I disagreed with virtually everything that came out of his mouth. It's odd to say something like "there is no money in green energy" in a small, job-hungry town where a wind turbine plant is creating employment for hundreds of people. My pick - Hickenloooper - did not do particularly well. He's not well spoken. But he'll make a good governor, I think. Made an excellent mayor of Denver. Socially liberal, fiscally conservative. My kinda guy.

Democracy is being driven close to the breaking point by an over-reliance on television ads, as opposed to actual public discourse, and the ensuing huge sums of money those TV ads entail. It's become a game for billionaires. So it was refreshing to see a full auditorium where people applauded and booed and shouted questions at three flesh and blood human beings who were asking for our vote. And after it was over, we all walked out into the cool autumn evening, toward our cars and bikes, towards home, where the debate likely continued, in kitchens and bedrooms and bars. No celebrities telling us how to vote. No attack ads with foreboding music and lurid claims. Just real people, discussing real issues. Democracy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Whatever’s here is just here.

Burial Rites
by Philip Levine

Everyone comes back here to die
as I will soon. The place feels right
since it’s half dead to begin with.
Even on a rare morning of rain,
like this morning, with the low sky
hoarding its riches except for
a few mock tears, the hard ground
accepts nothing. Six years ago
I buried my mother’s ashes
beside a young lilac that’s now
taller than I, and stuck the stub
of a rosebush into her dirt,
where like everything else not
human it thrives. The small blossoms
never unfurl; whatever they know
they keep to themselves until
a morning rain or a night wind
pares the petals down to nothing.
Even the neighbor cat who shits
daily on the paths and then hides
deep in the jungle of the weeds
refuses to purr. Whatever’s here
is just here, and nowhere else,
so it’s right to end up beside
the woman who bore me, to shovel
into the dirt whatever’s left
and leave only a name for some-
one who wants it. Think of it,
my name, no longer a portion
of me, no longer inflated
or bruised, no longer stewing
in a rich compost of memory
or the simpler one of bone shards,
dirt, kitty litter, wood ashes,
the roots of the eucalyptus
I planted in ’73,
a tiny me taking nothing,
giving nothing, and free at last.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just Married

My Mom and Dad, 19 years old. Just married (Dad wasn't sure until he spied the wedding ring on his finger). It looks to me like Mom is pulling Dad's hand up to somewhere more appropriate, but Dad's theory is that the photographer just made a risque remark.

They sure look happy. Off in their own little world.

After my mom graduated from high school in Idabel, Oklahoma, she hung around town for a couple weeks, helping around the house. One morning she helped her Mom pick blackberries, went to her brother John to borrow 8 dollars, and left town. Took the next bus to Dallas, where she stayed with an aunt, and waited for my Dad to return home from the Korean War. It was a leap of faith into an unknown world.

She died last month, on September 21. She was 78 years old. A life is so much more than just memories, but memories are what remain. She lived a long and courageous life. She will be missed, and always loved.