Disjecta Membra: 7

Instead of one delicious cookie, here you get a stepped-on cookie, fractured into many crumbly bits! What a special gift! Anyway. Here, again, are my SLAPDASH DISORGANIZED THOUGHTS during what I think is Week 349 of the Quarantimes. You’re doing great, sweetie.

I’ve started to finally work again with some effect. I’m not like, hard-charging at 100% or anything, but I have a measure of focus I didn’t have weeks ago. And when I say “measure,” it’s exactly that — it doesn’t last as long as it used to (before ALL THIS BULLSHIT began), but it also lasts a whole lot longer than it did, say, the week prior. Helps too that I have the story I’m working on more or less figured out. But “figuring it out” took me longer, too, than it normally would. Again, I just try to remember, we’re all walking on broken legs. Doesn’t mean we can’t get from Point A to Point B, but we’re gonna do a lot of hobbling about and crutch-walking, and that means it’s gonna be slower. Still gotta move. But gotta take it easier, too because you shouldn’t try to run on a broken leg.

Paul Vasquez, the Double Rainboy guy, died from COVID. And that’s a helluva thing to write. He had what I consider an outsized impact on how we view beauty and nature and honestly I think he gave people permission to feel that way about what they see out in the world and to express that feeling in a big way. To see the disease take him away from this beautiful world is a decidedly not-beautiful thing. But he left beauty — and recognition of beauty — for us.

My baking situation has become a real problem. I’ve baked so much fucking bread I’m pretty sure I’m just a big sack of carbs. I baked so much bread I had too much and it went stale and then I took that bread and turned it into bread pudding, which I’ve also never made before, and it was delicious, and now my heart is just a crusty loaf of bread. I am bread. Hard on the outside, soft on the inside, sour throughout. I still haven’t cracked the “sandwich bread” thing, though — each time it’s come out like a brick. It’s still good, just not… sandwich bread. I’ve also been sourcing flour from small mills around the country, like a fucking weirdo. What is the deal with bread? Is it an emblem of being able to do a kind of Frontier Survival Act? Is it the fear of not being able to get bread? Or is it merely the comfort of smelling fresh baking bread? Have we all been colonized by sourdough starters? Maybe we have.

My sourdough starter is named Steve, by the way. He’s still bubbling and making hooch. The key, and thanks to Seamus Blackley for letting me in on this, the “your starter should double in size” is basically some Instagram bullshit. Mine never doubled in size. Never even grew that much. But it’s vigorous and makes great bread. Good job, Steve. Good goddamn job.

Our dog has cancer. Or had. She grew what would best be called a “sinister barnacle” upon her neck, under her collar — vet at first thought, well, maybe it’s an infected ingrown hair or something, but it got kinda thumb-sized and angry, but then stablized. So they had us watch and wait. It was good for a couple months but then grew, as sinister barnacles tend to. So, we scheduled the surgery and it was last Monday. It went well, though now her neck looks like some real Frankenstein shit. And hard to protect that area because it’s where a collar would go — so we have a towel swaddled around her like it’s a scarf, and she traipses around the yard as if it’s the French Riviera. Got a report back, and it was cancer — soft cell sarcoma or something? Slow-growing, and they got it out with clean margins. So, in theory, as long as she heals well, she should be good, and he said she should live out her normal lifespan. So, bad news turned to good news? Or something?

The vet was all no-contact. An impressive operation. Here in PA, it seems people are taking this more seriously than in other places… buuuuut also not as seriously as they should. I had a building inspector just roll up on me in my shed while I was working. No mask. Tried to just walk the fuck in through the door. We had a propane guy try to pet our dogs while they were in the yard — which is fraught even in non-pandemic times because, uhh, they’re dogs, and dogs can bite off your fingerbits, buddy. Had to get a battery replaced on our old Forester (we’d been running it, but it still died on us) and AAA was like, “It’s non-contact, don’t worry,” but then the guy showed up and it was of course not that at all — he refused to do it all himself, needed someone in the car while he replaced the battery. He was masked and everything was socially distant, so it was fine, but eennnhh. So stressful.

Hell is other people, now. Officially. Sartre knew what was up.

Local politicians of the G-O-P variety are showing their colors. They want our country to reopen all the way and they want the “numbers” for the disease to stop including nursing home and other care facilities, as if those are hermetically-sealed chambers where the disease gets in but never gets out. And it further suggests that the elderly who die from this… aren’t really people, anyway, which is fucking gross. The altar of Mammon is wide and hungry for blood, and they’re happy to throw us on it in order for it to disgorge a few golden coins into their pockets.

You see photos and you increasingly realize there are Two Americas. And we are drifting further and farther apart. It’s not exactly that it’s new — there was the Anti-Mask Brigade or whatever in 1918, and we had full-on Nazi rallies in Madison Square Garden in the 30s. But social media and the internet have afforded people the luxury of choosing their own consensus reality (if you ever played Mage: The Ascension, boy will that fuck with your head). They get to pick a world where on some spectrum the virus isn’t that bad, or it doesn’t exist, or it was pumped into our blood due to evil flu shots and now we’re being thought-controlled via 5G by twin gay Satanic puppetmasters, Bill Gates and Tom Hanks, who want to make a new vaccine that will presumably be filled with… I dunno, robots or something. We’ve corroded access to education and eroded people’s critical thinking skills so now they’re happy to swill whatever Flavor-Aid will get them to the Promised Lands. The cult-like thinking is spreading like aerosolized syphilis. We’ve got these concentric circles starting to drift together — Q weenies, and anti-vaxxers on both the left and the right, and Trumpies, and militia-nuts and… is there any way to get the Flat Earthers in there? Probably.

Murder hornets are just a thing they’re using to get clicks and try to scare you, by the way, evidenced by the fact that no entomologist is gonna call them “murder hornets.” That’s not science. And they’re not even widespread. This is like the killer bee phenomenon from when I was a kid. THE KILLER BEES ARE COMING FROM AFRICA AND well, you remember the rest. Also a lot of wasps and such are useful to the world in a variety of ways, often eating or parasitizing worse critters. Unless they’re up in your grill, don’t try to wipe them out, please, because they’re almost certainly not the Asian Hornets you’re afraid of. If they are, call a professional to assess. But also, HOT BEE BALLS.

Hey, look. I got a box of books! Wanderers paperback, out 5/19. Please to buy from your local favorite indie bookstore? If you don’t have one, Doylestown Books will deliver.

Mother’s Day was tougher this year than I expected. And a hard balance because, my son is celebrating his mother (and I am too), and I can’t be all morose, but this is the first Mother’s Day without mine aaaaand. Well. It’s hard.

Oof, this shit is getting depressing. I don’t mean for it to be. Uhh. I’m seeing a lot of new birds recently! Blue-headed vireo. Magnolia warbler. Orchard oriole. (Those sound like launch codes.) Also there are brown thrashers nesting in the hedge by my shed and they are fucking brutal against blue jays. I just saw a BIRB WAR between a thrasher, a jay, and a catbird. Noisily mosh-pitting in the sky. Here’s the thrasher, and then I’m out, byeeeee:

20 responses to “Disjecta Membra: 7”

  1. We saw a new birb yesterday where we’re holed up in WV! A rose-breasted grosbeak and he was SPECTACULAR. But also skittish and I’m sad I didn’t get a photo.

  2. Glad to hear your pup is okay. We had almost the same thing with our dog Chewie, in nearly the same place. Only they didn’t get good margins the first time, so we had to do a second surgery, and more Frankensteining ensued. The second time he scratched at his stitches and tore them up. A mess, but he’s on the mend. 🙂 Congrats on the paperback. Keep writing. It’s what I’m trying to do.

  3. Still waiting on those Killer Bees. And the LSD Disney stickers. The late 70’s and early 80’s really tried to terrify us as little kids.

  4. My starter’s called Homer. He is very demanding. I want to go into shops and shout ‘You don’t understand! I have a STARTER to feed!’

  5. I’ve gotten entirely too familiar with the local birds. Most are cool. But there’s one asshole that sings a little song (which I am having a hard time googling…) and he sings it CONSTANTLY. Fuck that bird.

    But the rest are now my unofficial coworkers. I call the big crow Greg.

  6. Is it possible to generate a sizable and vigorous “teach critical thinking skills in all grade levels!” movement? The U.S. desperately needs it.

  7. I have lived in a liminal state for most of my life. Now I feel it’s getting crowded in here. I guess I should be glad for the company.

    Thanks for these posts, Chuck. They really do help. And so glad the pupper is better.

    Be safe. And try not to take sides in the birb wars. That way lies madness.

  8. Hey Chuck,
    (Long time listener, first time caller)
    Thank you for your blog posts, they are always great. I love the way you write with such warmth. You are also fucking sweet as hell and charming. Jerk.
    I hope your dog is alright, glad you’re writing again.
    There are so many Bread metaphors in the Lexicon: Earn one’s bread, ‘That’s my bread and butter’, etc. If you include any bread metaphors in your next story, should we worry?

  9. Those hot bee balls are freaking awesome. I actually heard about the “murder hornets” and “hot bee balls” months ago through some nature thing (Hell, I can’t remember – this damn quarantine has bogged my brain cells) – anyway I had heard of them and I FREAKING LOVE HOT BEE BALLS. Go get’ m, BEES!!! I love the bees in my gardens. They are doing awesome bee things.

    I also love my birds. I worked in my gardens this weekend and the birds that come to my feeders/bird bath just suddenly decided I was alright. I had been working in the gardens for 3 hours and they started flying in and landing on the ground only a few feet away and at the feeders nearby, etc. while I was right there. First time they have ever gotten close. It was awesome! I got to see them really well. The robins were the bravest.

    Bottom line, I love all your pictures, I love bees and birds, and your dogs are really cute. I’m glad to hear the one doggie will be okay, too.

    Finally, I’m with you on the “Mother’s Day is hard” thingie. My Mom has been gone a while, but every Mother’s Day I still feel like “what I do today?” It’s sad.

    Thanks for the levity, Chuck – and the thoughtful stuff, too. 🙂

    P. S. I already have The Wanderers in hard cover, but my niece would probably love it, so I think I’ll snag a softcover copy for her. 😉

  10. My favorite Sartre quote–and lots of feelings expressed by you that i relate to–warmed my heart today! I don’t know anyone else who knows sartre said, “Hell is other people.” I’m so glad you do. And that you wielded it effectively today, quarantime is another word I thought I coined. The plural you use is better by far.

  11. I’m glad your pup came through and is fully accepting the French scarf look.
    Maybe the Murder Hornets can visit a certain influx of parasites in the WH and take care of things before it gets any worse (can it get worse?).
    We had a new birb show up Sunday – bright blue head and back with orange stripes on its wings – very pretty but flew off before I could get a pic.
    Origami is harder than it used to be, or maybe it’s because my fingers don’t fold like they used to.
    Give Steve a pat. He is amongst many who sit placidly in jars on friends’ shelves. I’m still trying to figure out the attraction to bread-making.

  12. Congrats on finding focus. I found mine, and was finally able to finish this darn book I’ve been trying to write in all this chaos. It’s a little hard to write about the underworld spilling across the earth when the underworld feels like it’s spilling across the earth. I know I’m not alone here.. lol *cries*

    My 12-year-old just downloaded Under the Empyrean Sky to his Fire tablet. He’s recently leveled up to YA. Cool, huh?

  13. Glad the pup is doing well. Scary when they have lumps and bumps!

    Just starting to see the spring/summer birds up here in central MA. Oriole was back last week. Still waiting on hummers. Have a mama robin sitting on eggs in the rhododendron out front. Will be fun watching babies hatch and grow.

    On the sandwich bread- For mine, I usually add some fat to the dough. Helps tenderize it. I add about one tablespoon olive oil per loaf. If you want a softer crust (like a white sandwich loaf), cover it with damp paper towels while it cools. Keeps the crust nice and soft.

  14. “the luxury of choosing their own consensus reality” – and there’s the problem. If truth is relative, then – well, truth is relative, and no one can tell anyone else what to think and everyone can live in their own little world. Except that sooner or later (looks like sooner) people are going to discover that this does not, in fact, work in practice, because we are actually all in the same world.

    Have you ever read Dorothy L. Sayers’ essay on education, “The Lost Tools of Learning”? Written in 1947, but boy was she on the money. She wrote that modern education has left people “a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.” One can hardly blame people for believing any old random crap if they’ve never been taught to tell true from false.

  15. I haven’t started on the baking bread part of pandemic survival yet, but I have begun to walk down the twisty, stooped path of foraging for wild edibles. I found a patch of morels a 15-minute walk from my house and I will take the exact coordinates of those delectables to the fiery gates of hell.

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