Tuesday, March 31, 2015


It is a touch embarrassing to admit I woke myself up calling her name. 
I could have sworn I felt the tiny pull of her climbing over the side of my bed.
I thought I felt the pause of her as she untangled the blankets. 
Then the weight of her arm reaching around me...
but I woke alone to quiet darkness. 
I remembered she was across town at Sarah's. 
Snuggled in with Sophie and Pepper and perhaps B too.
I must have dreamed her here. 
I'll ask her when I see her.

Monday, March 30, 2015

the Godfather of 10th West

Right before dinner there was a knock at the door. It was one of the more elusive neighbors of 10th. A middle aged woman living down the street alone, minus the goat & the horse, in not 1 but 2 historical houses. 

She came in and sat down on the edge of the sofa looking nervous. 

In her hand a large insulated cup filled with what looked to be very flat beer. "I'm sorry to bother you, Misty but we need your help. We need a favor". 

She explained that one our newer residents keeps calling animal control on the roosters. She and Mr. W. (we will get into Mr. W. in another post) are a bit fed up with it. 

I should note that no one really knows who chickens they are. All chickens on 10th free-rage. It is part of life here. These 2 neighbors have united to defend the roosters unlawful, but historic run of the place against the new guy. 

I gave her a few possible solutions and offered to speak with him if they wanted me to. Turns out that was precisely what they wanted. Mr. W. had said: when she gets talking, she could sell a man his own horse. Let's see what Misty can do...

So I walked my neighbor lady home then I wandered over to the new guy's house and knocked on the door. 

I watched him approach cautiously. Stepping outside, shutting his door behind him looking terrified. 

I'm pretty sure it is the same look I give the little old Korean woman every time she shows up to tell me what a good man BC is because "he not from Colorado". 

Anyway, there I was meeting him for the first time wearing what could described as my Medical School Drop-Out look: old levis, a grey U of U Medical School shirt cut into a tank top, flip-flops, and a ponytail. 

I introduced myself as his neighbor, apologized for not stopping by sooner, and let him know that as far a government agencies go, animal control is not very discrete. 

I was diplomatic. I was nice. I tried to be charming but that seemed to frighten him even more. 

I tried everything I could think of to put him at ease. Turns out psychology students living alone in the hood are very hard to calm down.

I explained that I was asked to stop by to help resolve the issue, sort of like a neighborhood rep. I had heard the other side, I wanted to hear his. And I wanted to know what exactly he would like to see happen. 

His defense was long. It involved sleep issues, him talking about himself in third person, the preposterous idea of caging all of them, and vegetarianism. Well, I suppose that at least explains why he doesn't just run them over like the rest of us do.  

He used the word quaint a lot. And I got the feeling he bought this particular house because it was a notable, semi-famous green/small building home. 

Yes, but Dude the news piece on your house opened with a crowing rooster in it. And the Trib story had photos of the chickens all over your yard. You can't have driven down 10th with your eyes shut. 

I explained why the roosters were crowing so often. Told him if there were less of them, they would settle down. He seemed bewildered by my nature tutorial.  

I let him know that for the cost of a few beers I knew a guy who could make a couple of them disappear.

He liked the idea of them dying, but if dying didn't work he wanted them all locked away- forever in tiny cages. 

He must be some new kind of vegetarian. I have friends who are vegetarians and they don't sound anything like this guy. They seem to be more pro-life than cock-in-a-box fans.  

He cautiously reminded me that after all roosters are illegal in the city.

Actually, that is a grey-area on a street with horse properties that are grandfathered in... and we don't want it to become black & white. That's not how we roll.

I made a proactive suggestion: garden hose.

Turns out he has thought of trying to get them to leave him alone but he is afraid of them because "they are wild animals". 

Squirt gun?

Now, I want full credit for suppressing the laughter that went with the mental picture I had of him in some corner of his yard trapped by a chicken. 

I was handling it but then somehow his cat got out... and there was this young, good looking guy, bent over squealing like Pee Wee Herman chasing a cat because (of course) it is not an outside pussy. 

I couldn't help it. And alternatively named "cat" & "rooster" jokes piling up in my head weren't helping. I started to crack-up and had to quickly end our conversion. So I made him an offer.
We agreed I would have my guys knock off a few chatty roosters and he would stop calling Johnny Law every time a chicken crossed the road. 

Now I know he won't keep his end of the bargain. It's okay, I've already called in reinforcements. I got people... 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

life at the junction of I-70

Mrs. Krump and I took a little drive together. 
A little 5 hours drive.

She is a big person crammed into a little body. 
Her personality bursting at the seams.
Words move from her head directly out her mouth & she means ever last one of them,
 for better or worse.

I am completely the other way around.
I am a big person on the outside but I am actually much smaller on the inside.
And I hardly ever say what I am really thinking... 

Together we are an unlikely pair. 
See, we were going the same direction with the same purpose. Both of us chasing the parent bench down south for the state championships. Trying our best to safely transport Little Giants by the rules & attempting to not go broke doing it. 

Along the way we stopped to pickup BC coming in from the east off of I-70. 

 We used the minor pause to clean the bugs off the windshield.

Make a few calls back home.

And let the Little Giants free range along the side of the road.

 As it turns out, Mrs. Krump and I do rather well together.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing 
there is a field
I'll meet you there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

whiskey mornings

When I get overwhelmed and my head falls quiet, I find myself in dreams sleeping in a tent.

 I can smell the coldness of the night air lifting. 
Hear the sound the sleeping bag makes against salty bare skin. 
Almost taste the dust and the campfire.
Feel the warmth the shot of morning whiskey & a cup of camp coffee offer.

I am an unbeliever. 
But watching the moment when Night leans far over the desert 
and kisses the Day, I know at least one thing for sure. 
I know no matter how long or deep the darkness seems, the sun always rises. 

June 2009

The dawn breaks hard in the desert.  Heat and light are the same. The vast expanse of tundra roll across valley to valley.  Mountains exploded from the grasses and witch like junipers.  

Life is heavy here.  

I rub dust from my eyes, pull back my hair, and lace my running shoes.  Even as I watched her do the same I knew this will have to be the last run for me and her.  I simply cannot carry the weight of her any further.  

It is a bittersweet moment letting go.  Just as holding on to what was before... the release is slow and silent.  

I was there. My feet striking the desert floor. Sunlight filtering through the brush. The morning ripe with the smell of sage and the air littered with dust fairies.  

We were together, there running as sisters and when I came up over the horizon she was gone. 

I was running alone.  

The antelope stopped grazing to stare at me. And to stare at the nothingness that followed me as I ran by.  

I finally had the answer to their question “What do you think you are running from?”  

What I have always been running from. I am running from myself.      

Taming Venus, mlb

Monday, March 23, 2015

let's talk more about the neighbors

Crazy Jim is crazy. He is like a man living on the bottom of the sea. He walks as if he is traveling over course sand. He slurs his body along, his slender limbs swimming in air, seemingly unrelated to each other. His blue eyes dance like nervous crabs and he only looks directly up to the sky or down at the ground when he speaks to you.  

He was a stone mason. Then he was in Vietnam. And after that I don't believe he was really anywhere or anything ever again.

I have seen him stand in the middle of 10th screaming wildly at ghosts only he can see. We listen to him shoot off fireworks and 'play' hours of amplifier feed back to detour the government from spying on him. 

I have seen him on calm days hanging over our fence to tease the kids playing in our yard, mowing his lawn in straight lines, walking his goat. 

Once, I had him graciously thank me. Presenting me with the gift of dog's head awkwardly carved from a block of concrete with mix-matched marbles as eyes. It was for doing one of the dumber things I have done around here. 

I grabbed his angry boxer off a small, black unfortunate corgi. I managed to free the corgi from the boxers mouth but I had accidentally gotten my hand badly tangled in the attacking dog's collar. 

It left me tied to a snarling dog whose dinner plans I had just spoiled. 

That was a fantastic moment. 

The dog and I looked at each other, each trying to decide what to do. Lucky for me the dog must have decided any human stupid enough to get in the middle of a dog fight must be crazy and being Jim's dog he knew not to mess with crazy. 

After I somehow managed to free my hand, minus some skin, he growled himself back into his own yard. And after someone told Crazy Jim what had happened he came over to say thank you for kicking the shit out of his dog without getting myself killed.

That was 2 dogs ago. Each one as equally mean as the other. But from the relative safety of the sidewalk in front of Jim's droopy wire fence you can watch his current dog wind up the wooden swing hanging from the tree in the front yard. After he gets it going the dog hops on and swings...no shit.

This weekend large balloons began appearing in the sky over 10th. I saw the first one Friday evening. 

They floated like beacons over the back fields reaching high, whipping in the wind against the thin line anchoring them down. 

The first one was black. The second, yellow. The third black with white, lace-like decoration all around.

I don't know what happened to the first and for all I know the third balloon may still be out there but I saw what happened to the second one. 

Late Saturday afternoon the kids in the field behind ours, working with shovels building bike jumps out of dirt & cardboard stopped digging.

They tried a number of ways to bring the big yellow balloon down. Throwing rocks and sticks. It arched and bobbed, teasing them. 

Finally, they threw a ball of string over the balloon's line capturing control of it. They pulled it to the ground and ran off with it. Within an hour a new balloon was in its place.

When the third balloon appeared I got curious. I walked out to the old tree stump in the back field to see if I might figure out where Jim was tying them. 

I stood on my tip toes peering over 2 sets of high wooden fences. Beyond the neighbor-to-the-north's weed patch yard and into Jim's. 

I shouldn't have been surprise at what I found. 

It was Crazy Jim dressed in all white, holding the string. Flying a balloon. 

Most likely, knowing Jim, he had been there the whole weekend, tending his line like a fisherman. 

A man at the bottom of the ocean fishing into the sky.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

taken out of context

"Dad, mom and I are looking for razor blades and a blow torch."

"Beachie, please put your mom on the phone."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

the briar patch

BC came and went. He was here long enough to spend time alone with each child. He shopped reloading the cupboards and the fridge and picked up a certified envelope containing more of his ex wives rantings against me. Her bullying campaign rolling thoughtless along.    

BC laughed and laughed at how ridiculous he found her. Bringing the letter to my desk at the gym to share with me. Smirking at me, grateful I was the woman beside him. 

Of course I didn't find it quite as funny as he does. But I don't begrudge him his enjoyment. See, what she fines most offensive about me isn't my parenting- it is that I love BC. 

It is written right into our history. Back in the Sugar House days when she was my-married-to-BC-up-the-street-neighbor.  For her own reasons, she stole a piece of writing of mine right out of my book bag. It was short story titled Seeking Shelter. 

To this day it remains one of the best pieces of writing I have ever done. It was the true story of how during my marriage I had fallen in love with another man. But more importantly than falling in love with him & never being able to tell him how I felt, was how it had helped me see something bigger in myself I had never even thought to seek.    

This was the proof she brought to BC to show him that I, not-beautiful-but-intriguingly-smart-girl-down-the-street, was not as wonderful as he thought me to be. And after reading it he completely agreed with her: I was not as wonder as he had thought- I was much, much more than that.  

He told me later, long after his marriage fell the rest of the way apart, and they divorced, that my story had helped to end them. 

He said he saw the way I loved. It was shameless but somehow graceful and quiet. I didn't set limits. I didn't bargain for power or control. I loved simply and honestly the best I could. He said he remembered reading it and wanting so much to be accepted and loved like that. And slowly he came to realize that he wanted to loved like that by me. 

Eventually, that was just what happened. And his ex said to me that was not what she wanted for him. Not what she intended. She had left to punish him for not being what she wanted him to be, not for him to turn up with "the perfect woman". 

I have thought about this strange compliment in a stranger still conversation many times over the past 12 years. I believe it is the key to her motivation. She feels she never got justice. What ex wife feels she does? 

I don't have an easy job here, unarmed and out in the open, on the front lines of their 13 + year divorce war.

And BC isn't always easy to love but I find him rather hard to un-love.

In his short visit he dropped Fisher off at the airport for hopefully a better weekend visit with his mom than the last one was. 

He picked Beach up from gym and left me with a hot cup of coffee to end my shift with. 

Together he and Beach made pizzas rolling the dough out by hand on the thick oak counter top he crafted for me, built over a shelf he had built for her. 

He popped by the Beer Store and picked up a six pack of what he believes to be my favorite beer. It's not, but the fact that he believes it to be is enough for me.

I don't often have the mental patients for movies but something in me is very still right now. We watched School of Rock, ate pizza dripping with pesto and cheese, & drank good beer. 

The 3 of us cuddled together. Beach laughed and laughed and the dogs laying at our feet rolled over.

He left in the morning early. Before he went he made a pot of dark coffee. Killed a young rooster (ah-yes). Signed checks.  Watered the greenhouse. Showed Beach on a map the exact spot he would meet up with us on the way to her State competition down in Southern Utah next weekend. He kissed us good-bye. I gave him a hard time about going back so soon and then suggested he consider a haircut but not to trim the beard.

After he pulled away I walked around the yard to survey our life here, smiling to myself. His ex is pointing the finger at the space in my life that BC fills. The parts of he and I that work together so well the other one hardly knows anything about what goes into it until one of us isn't there.

I am sure she doesn't even realize what she sees or why it is so offensive to her sensibilities. Why would she? I have been here the whole time and I am just now seeing it clearly. 

He and I are far from perfect but I hold a hundred thousand rays of sunlight that fall around him, moments together perched on dusty rocks, laughter inside a tent with frozen breath, breaking through the surface of blue water, and miles and miles of dirt roads.

What she hates about me is what I am willing to do for him and what I am wiling to do for her own son in the shadow of the love I have for his father.

Or maybe I don't love BC as much as I think I do. Maybe part of what it is, is how much I love who I am when I am with him. For that feeling there has to be a bigger word than love.      

He once told me he never would pretend to be a big enough man to hold onto me but he could find a way to be content knowing he was the man who opened the door for me.

I love the way the greenhouse stones smell like smokey water on a warm morning. Especial when I know it means he was here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

shh, just go with it

(oh, that title is so inappropriate, it even makes me blush)

Turns out horror films have been misleading us for decades. 

The scariest thing that can happen to a girl in the shower is to have an angry chicken fall in through the open window above her head.

Trust me. 
I now know firsthand the terror a suddenly showering chicken can unleash. 
I'm pretty sure I have invented a few new swear words. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

the trouble with the Second Rooster

The trouble is, being second when there is only room for one, is a bit of pinch. One might say you could lose your head over it. 

The Second Rooster is a beautiful but skittish character.

Smaller than his father he has been getting by just fine, prowling the perimeter of the yard. He scores a few young hens here and there, and enough food to live on.

It was going mostly well for him until he crowed. I happened to be in the yard reading, trying to make the most of being sick on a beautiful spring day when it he hopped up on the fence and let one rip. 

I launched at stick at him, not to be mean, quite the opposite. As long as he stayed callow, well, the longer he stayed at all. 

The stick missed but the point didn't. He fluttered awkwardly off the fence. He scratched in the weeds for a moment and then crowed again. There was no denying him: he is a Rooster. A Second Rooster on a one rooster farm.

Now the trick for us, the farmers, is knowing whether or not he would be a good First Rooster. See, roosters do not all act the same or even act like their former selves once they are put in charge- sort of like Politicians. And the tricky part is "knowing" if one would be a nice and kind ruler after being promoted. One's promotion also means an irreversible demotion to the one he would be replacing. It is important to get it right as often as possible.

And as it goes, many a young promising cocks have failed to secure a repeat season as the First Rooster around here. 

One was flat out so mean and nasty he was "retired" before an audience of people (and hens) who enjoyed watching him go. It was rather medieval and drinks were served.  

Another was removed for a crow that started out okay but then trilled into the most god awful hacking sound. It was horribly embarrassing. He was dispatched of rather quickly. 

Two others have tried but proved either too aggressive with the hens or too mean with their own chicks. 

One of those is remembered more for his death than his life. I don't recall his real name, he is refereed to as Zombie Rooster. The bird that managed to get his head chopped off but not die from it. Under the cover of darkness BC had done some late night flock thinning, Zombie Rooster included. The next morning you can imagine my surprise while out water the rows of tomatoes to be approached by a walking headless bird. It is one of those moments in life only Saturday morning cartoons can emotionally prepare you for. 

There have been successful reigns too. Fuzz Balls I and IV each lived long lives, as far as Roosters go that is. Big Red also had a few good seasons.

Our current Rooster is a nice enough guy, not too old, and pretty enough. However, I personally think the Second Rooster is rather promising. It's hard to say what will become of him. But there can't be 2...trust me I know, I've asked that question before.            

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

overhanging the fence lines

I was sitting out in the field perched on the old tree stump. Drinking an amber beer under a night layered with the peppery darkness of a city-glow sky. I was listening to the trains roll across the 1700 South crossing.

Inside my head a black & white silent movie on the history of the railroad played to a packed theater of one. My favorite part is the history of the curve at Grants Tower.

I suppose it wouldn't be too much of stretch to say I followed 1700 South all way the down from the high east benches to be nearer to the trains. Turned up a river so damaged, so abused, I couldn't help but to fall madly in love with it. Found land near by with a small block house on it, put up low fences, and planted roots.     

There is so much life here. Stories seem to spring from the ground like thistles. And it was there in the field that I knew I had a job to do. Tucked in between the tracks and the river are a thousand stories waiting to be told. What I couldn't have know was how quickly a story would come through my front door...

We had spent most of the day working the farm part of our land cleaning up the winter that never was. 

By the time we went in it was late in the afternoon. I put on a fresh pot of coffee intending to turn up some whiskey to accompany it when the front door flew open. Attached to the door knob a hysterically crying 10 yr girl. 

The basic facts: trouble was brewing inside her house and she was the one who got away.

I listened to her words as she sobbed them out. I paused long enough to pass her care to Fisher and I was out the front door.

As I crossed the fence line dividing our houses I remember thinking 3 things: 

1) I can handle being stabbed. 

2) I hope my kids will know that I fully understood the choice I am making. 
3) Damn, I'm glad I am in these thick ass Carhartt overalls.   
The irony of me, or all people, taking this role in my neighborhood is not lost on me. 

I am well known for this sort of rashness. 

I have a reputation for launching soccer balls into the front door panels of speeding cars and then standing my ground, arguing it out in the middle of the street with the angry, exclusively male, recipients. 

I am the one who followed the meth dealer home. Refused to let him shut the door in my face by kicking back open the door of his apartment and wedging myself in the doorway so he might fully understand he was no longer welcome to drive up and down 10th.

I tap on the windows of cars suspiciously tag-team parked, classic drug deal hook-ups. Blatantly snap photos of them & their plates. Rarely do I have to suggest they move along. They seem to get the idea themselves rather quickly.  

I have loads of these stories: Irish girl goes rogue.

I crossed their yard. The front door standing wide open bouncing in the wind, the screaming and crying spilling out. As I stepped inside the mom was balancing a baby and attempting to hush a young child who was bleeding from her nose. The blood oozed into her gaping mouth as she welled.

The woman suddenly was forced to turn her attention on me. I could hear her telling me it was all okay he was gone now but her words were lost to the buzzing in my head as I made eye contact with the man standing at the top of the stairs. 

He stared down at me, stared down our shared history. His strong hands, now clenched tight in fists, had once saved my life. I was his mother's best friend before she was arrested and deported then arrested again. 

I watched him decide what to do about me standing there. He slowly back out of sight. I heard a door slam.

The woman backed me out of the house and closed the door on me. I returned home. The little girl sitting on the sofa shaking uncontrollably and Fish on the phone frowning at me for going over there alone. 

I was too focused on the phone is his hand to care...shit, did we call 911?

Turns out after I had left my house the little girl had grabbed our house phone and called 911 herself. But she hadn't been able to calm down enough to speak to them. 

The phone was handed off to me along with the first real twinges of fear. I'm screwed and I really hope he remembers we are friends, I thought as I gave my information to dispatch. I hung up and returned to their house to try again. 

Collecting the empty beer bottles lined up on the fence and throwing them away. My Re-approach was not subtle. The front door flew open and the little girl no longer bleeding was pushed out to deal with me. 

"I have to get my sister. She has to come home." she said, "He's gone it's all okay." 

"Good," I lie back, "Come with me, we can get her together." 

I successfully lead a second child to the edge of safety but it wouldn't last. She wouldn't stay. However, between pleading with her sister to return home with her she did tell me the truth. He was still there, which I already knew, and she had been assaulted by him, which I hoped had not been the case.

As soon as she stepped off my front porch I called dispatch and suggested they come sooner rather than later.

With officers on the way the first young girl began to cry loudly again. This time about the safety of her mom and siblings still in the house. She started to build a case for her to return too. Eventually her sister showed back up telling her again, "You need to come now." She finally agreed.

I walked the 2 of them home slowing them down, buying time, stalling. At the gate I suggest they might have forgotten something at my house, suggest we go back. I almost won that one, but their mom standing in the open doorway waiting for them was a much stronger force.

I paused the action in the play her and I were doing to tell her "I cleaned up the beers from your yard...the police are coming." She nodded and returned to pretending we weren't both doing what we are doing. 

The girls slipped out of my reach and through the front door. It closed behind them. 

It is all silent like the black white history of the trains, the police politely knocking, asking to come in but being turned away. 

When interviewed outside in the grass in place of the truth, the girls give an account of a fight between the 2 of them. The officers knew they were coached to lie but had no choice but to let it go.  

So that is how three officers came to stand on my porch shrugging. I told them what they already knew: now all of us are in danger but thanks for coming by and making it worse. 

I told them I understand it is not their fault but I added, this how women die. 

And as I looked from each of their holstered guns to their faces I thought about how glad I am I was never stupid enough to call them on my own behalf. 

They let me know I am always welcome to call them back at anytime. The look I gave back said: If I have any say in the matter they will never be called again. 

They stood around for awhile and slowly drifted off. 

Later, I saw my neighbor to the other side of me pull in. I crossed my yard drinking whiskey from one of my favorite blue coffee cups. I hung my arms over the fence. He leaned low and I quietly explained what had happened and if he won't mind....

"I am always looking out for you, Guera." He said. He leaned more of himself over the fence, pulled up his shirt to show me 2 hand guns securely tucked into the waist band of his pants.

Once upon a time I lived in Sugar House where only backyards were fenced. I knew all my neighbors and they all knew us, or so it seemed on the surface. 

One day I got this idea and I moved us to the valley floor so we could stretch out and have room to grow things. 

On 10th all the yards, front and back, are well fenced. We all pretend not to know each other but nothing could be further from the truth.  

   "In a valley settled by Mormon Pioneers, I was raised on the upper east side. The only diversity I knew was an occasional variation in the length of mower settings for the front lawns. In my bed at night, when the desert air was wet enough to carry the sound of the trains off the valley floor,  I could hear them calling out to me.  I would fall asleep dreaming of being big enough to run among them."  ~The Most Beautiful Season, mlb~