I told you the alleys are bad here…

“Listen, you-reschedule. It’s more than “some storm”- it’s the first of the season tropical storm threatening to become a hurricane right over Puerto Juarez, Mexico. Too many big natural disasters right now; lay low. I just checked weatherbug.com and they say for Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Wind, storms, tons of rain, strong thunderstorms. Please be careful and please, two beautiful young women, do not get stranded in Puerto Juarez for the night- that is not the sort of puerto in a storm you’re looking for. Error on the side of caution here, Abby. And don’t get bedbugs.

You know? With you, all your life I find myself saying but wait! be careful! be careful, be careful! With your brother, I’m on the phone trying to convince him that it’s okay to spread mulch, that it won’t ruin his lungs with cedar vapors. But, I too, would very much like to know what is happening with those sea turtles and dine at the cochina cheapo again…I think dive instructor Gabriel said at one time he was moving home to…Merida. You might have better luck finding him in a bar watching young girls learn to salsa. :-). Love you very much. m”

So. You see? I could have been here every day for the past two months and life would still be moving along pretty much the same. True, there are more than a quarter million fewer of us now than on April 11th, three million more homeless, childless folk and far too many intelligent people convinced, against all evidence and rational thought, that Barack Obama is a closet Jihad-bent Muslim. It’s easy to take offense at God, acts of nature and political extremists who rip at me because I suggest I want my government to provide medical care and education and equal opportunity for my children rather than focus on the moral turpis of it’s citizens. “But, but, but,” I sputtered…”the children’s moral fiber is my job! The musician needs health insurance for his heart!” “No, no, no, you stupid, uninformed lib**al– that would not be the business of our government! It’s turpis, I tell you!” And then I shut down.

I admit it. I left in a fit of offended and overwhelmed pique after a brief political comment exchange that you knew nothing about and I didn’t particularly want to air it out here. It was a short walk from there to, “I don’t give a damn” and then a hop, skip and jump before I arrived at Drawablank Ave. But then, the past couple weeks, I’ve been wandering around on the edge of familiar terrain, filled with anxious guilt about the numerous kind inquiring e-mails and the 87 requests pending on my Facebook page. I don’t know how to use Facebook. I only joined to spy on my children but people are coming out of the woodwork like termites, planting flowers in my green patch, sending me eggs that hatch into manatee…and some guy named Omar, surely a Jihadist, has me on his magic bus… Finally, a couple days ago, with a nudge from a sick puppy, I tipped into that space where I miss people enough to humble down and say sorry, sorry, sorry, can I please come back to the party, even tho’ I’m a pathetic guest?

Back to openers, I can catch you up in a couple short paragraphs.

Alright then. Abby is in Merida, Mexico finishing up the language portion of her dual degree except she keeps wandering around the countryside and sending me photos of her cliff diving and salsa dancing in bars. My note to her above is today’s e-mail response to a Facebook note she slipped in during the night telling me she has plans to head over, in a hurricane, to the tiny Isla Mujeres, favorite home of one of our first adventure trips together and the island where she ultimately became certified as a master diver. So she could dive into blue holes with no life, save a couple albino fish.

When she returns to Florida in a few weeks she will go to see the immigration people with her husband, Mikhail. What? I failed to mention that she is married? Oh. What an oversight. (Surprise, Aunt Betsy!) Well, she is and how that happened, how I felt about it, how I feel about it now, fleshed out with all sorts of interesting details, is one of the first stories for another day.

Daniel is getting ready to go on tour with the fourth CD release, which you may already have heard snippets of on NPR or BBC (you DO listen to the BBC, don’t you?). Another summer of 40 cities, 40 nights, 40 shows, 40 days sleeping in the van and probably, Europe after that. The new CD (also on LP, for all you vinyl nuts), what I’ve heard of it, is wonderful wonderful. It’s on pre-release order at Amazon, Borders, iTune, Barnes and Noble…and it’s titled Ghost Rock by NOMO. Under either World Music, Jazz or Afro-Jazz.

At the same time, he is trying to wean off his meds for OCD. I worry about the timing but worry is my job and when would there be a good time, anyway? Worry, worry, worry, not that he got that obsessing from me…

If you get the feeling that I plan to be writing more the way I’ve wanted to (openly) about family when I do write, that’s correct. What I really want to share is more about this real life and the people who populate mine so I’m going to. I always hesitate to go more than skin-deep about these people I love but, really, that’s most all of what I have to write about. Way back when I began blogging, I wrote a long piece about my son’s struggles and triumphs with OCD and it got a powerful response and also, more, served to organize and calm my thoughts about it. I may even do it- going out on a limb here- in short chapter form and those would be the first draft chapters of the blah, blah, blah…

I’m on the fence about switching blog names; I’ve already secured CommonPhenomena (so I can write about my phenom offspring more), FreshDriedFruit (self descriptive, and also another oxymoron) and ASmallCrowd. Please weigh in if you have an opinion.

Bud. Ah, Bud. Bud is about to have three teeth pulled but he has to come off anti-coagulants first. I’m desperate to get him up and running on his computer because I HATE talking on the phone and yet, I want to be in contact with him daily. Another interesting chapter.

Since April 11th, I’ve transitioned North to total construction chaos, gotten that back under control and feel much better about my living circumstances here in Chicago, now that we have new natural maple floors and a new bathroom. But I still got depressed with the move back and an urban bunny is crawling under the wrought iron gate and eating all of my newly planted northern earth boxes. Skin has healed nicely- actually, better than ever following some laser light treatments. Odd, that they treat exposure with exposure, don’t you think? I’m back at the zoo and loving it, I’m buying a new camera body this weekend because I’m tired of being out of focus, and I may have, might have, tipped the corner from crafting felt to being a felt artist. Just barely- but one big reason I haven’t been here is that I’ve been up to my wrists in soap slime and boiling water and luscious first shearings of Spring lambs. And, it’s true, I wandered back to Michigan for a bit to luxuriate in the love, comfort and humor of my womenfolk there.

Yes, I’m in on Relay for Life- except, Keri, I will be doing it mostly on behalf of my sweet young friend in Michigan with breast cancer. I’ll write you today about that. Gumbo is home and getting healthy! (FC’s consistently really good blog, with fine photos and the perfect blend of interesting natural science and family business has me convinced that it IS possible to write a regular blog that stays vibrant and rich over time. He and Miz Mary and Hoss have me trapped in a cycle of inspiration alternating with guilt and defeat alternating with motivation.) Andrea is in transition, Boy Wonder is ever loved, tired teachers are ending the year…I read the news. Most days.

And, in the nothing about me category or Location, Location, Location:

Literally around my corner, Johnny Depp got shot in the alley last night. He’ll probably get shot there again tonight. For the past coupla, they’ve been filming Public Enemies (release next summer) with his Deppness and Christian Bale, directed by Michael Mann. One entire block of Lincoln Ave.- the one with the real Biograph Theater, naturally- has been transformed into a 30s Chicago gangland. We discovered this by accident one day when Rich walked over to his favorite Mexican spot only to discover it had been turned into a vintage haberdashery. He left confused.

There are false store fronts the whole block, old signs, street lighting, trolley tracks. At night and on weekends they close the street for filming and crowds gather to watch the action. I like the long runs of vintage cars, especially Dillinger’s classy Jaguar. During the day you can linger in front of shop windows, chop suey joints, a bakery and a barber shop with all the period pieces, right down to lovely clothing and canned goods. The alley next to the Biograph is roped off and staged, guarded continuously by security. Here’s the deal on photos: You can take ’em but absolutely no flash. For me, with my focus not working, that means sightings but no close-ups beyond a couple of street scenes. But you’ve all seen Johnny Depp anyway.

Bringing it all back to me and the notion of lowest common denominator in relationships (the six degrees thing that fascinates me still), brother Bruce reminds me that Harry “Petey” Pierpont, portrayed in this film as Dillinger’s mentor and one of Chicago’s most colorful machine gunners, was my great great uncle. Straight back, no breaks in the branch on the family tree. My mother was always delightfully proud that we are descended from the original (crazy) New England Pierponts and Woodwards (Daniel’s middle name), and that her mother was in the DAR and that we have now come to grace the midwest and devolved into…gangsters.

21 responses to “I told you the alleys are bad here…

  1. How nice to hear from you again! I was wondering if you had decided to chuck it all.

    Summer is here! The Rays are winning, and Ella is coming. I was over in your area the other day, and I looked toward your street as I tooled down 4th Street.

  2. Vicki from GA

    Ah, there you are…my head is spinning.

  3. Good to the last drop!

    Welcome back darling. You’ve been missed. And gossiped about. Ha ha ha. 😀 I had dibs on Alien Abduction. Looks like I was wrong.


  4. Oh, I’m so GLAD to see you back here! All I do is “lurk,” but I’m fairly faithful about it. Best wishes to Abby and Mikhail.

  5. HOLY COW, I missed that marriage thing in the first reading.

    Blessings to them both. I just officiated my first wedding—wonderful. 😀

  6. amarkonmywall

    That’s okay, Wende. I missed it at first, too. More on that tomorrow.

  7. Woo Hoo. You are back! And such news. Can’t wait to hear about it all.

  8. I have missed you dreadfully. Yes, you were gossiped about but in a NICE way. I am on my way out the door right now but I will come back later to savor this post and maybe put in another 2 cents worth.

  9. Glad to have you back in the fold, Vicki. I was imagining all the worst possible things (dead in a ditch, etc.). You could call your blog anything and I’d read it!

  10. I was very worried, but I can see that life has been keeping you busy. MARRIED? I can’t wait to hear that story. The political sh*t that drove you out–let me at ’em! Of the new blog names, I like CommonPhenomena the best. As long as you write, you can call yourself anything! Facebook baffles me; I got on it to spy on my younger daughter, but that didn’t work. (she doesn’t want to be my “friend.”) Oh, and Johnny Depp is yummy. Ashley was handing out leaflets at a film in Seattle, as another lib*ral, and spotted Charlize Theron. Everyone got very star struck.

  11. glad you are back! what a lot has happened to you! and wait ’til you see the pics of my gorgeous new garden!

  12. Call yourself whatever you want, just write, woman! (Actually, I do like the freshdriedfruit, that’s charming 😉

    So Abby is married? That’s going to be an interesting story. I love to hear how other kids put their parents through quick and perhaps secret unions – makes me feel better about doing it to my mother .

    You and Raehan back on the same day – feel like Christmas 🙂

  13. wrenaissancewoman

    Geez, I missed you. Welcome back!

    Wait! You’re back in Chicago? You were in Ann Arbor? Arrrrghhhh!

    If the weather stays this nice, we’re going down to Taste of A2 on Main Street tomorrow. NOMO is playing at 3:30. Full report to follow.

  14. I’m sooooo glad you’re back. I was delighted to see your comments yesterday! I missed you but I figured that you needed some time — it happens! All your news takes some processing — marriage. Glad you’re back at the zoo. I like CommonPheonom best too.

  15. I am so glad you are back, vicki. Write about anything you want to write about, just write. Call your blog any new name you like, I like CommonPhenomena, just keep on blogging. You have a son-in-law now?! Look what we’ve missed in your too-long absence. Welcome back.

  16. I also don’t understand Facebook, and people keep sending me things I don’t know what to do with. I poke around for a few minutes, decide to deal with it “later,” and then forget until someone sends me something else. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    It’s good to see you again.

  17. You’ve been sick, haven’t you? And you didn’t tell us about it (yet). Fie upon you.

    It truly is nice you are back in harness, chomping at the bit to tell us many things. We’re ready too.

  18. It’s so good to see you back… and with so much news! I’ve missed your writing, and hope there will be more (though I certainly understand finding one’s self with lots of life and no words to describe it).

  19. I wondered and wondered about you. But then I looked at my own blog and knew that we might be having similar things going on. (Though there have been no marriages here… as far as I know.) I am trying to find that elusive little “muse” that seems to have flown the coop. Glad to see you back and can’t wait to hear the scoop.

    BTW… what a GREAT set!

  20. I kept checking back, figuring sooner or later you would have to spill all that was going on. And it has been eventful!

    I like FreshDriedFruit, I love the picture of your transformed Lincoln Ave. and I’m so very glad you are back.

  21. Well, .. dang.
    ’bout time.
    Great news about your healing, the marriage, the new CD.
    I can’t decide on your name choices, they are all so clever.
    Whatever you call it, I’ll be reading it.

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