Yes, You Can

Monday blues vs. DIY inspiration.

When the malaise of Mondays pounds at an unprecedented pitch, it can be helpful to bear witness to the fountain of human ingenuity available on DIY posts across cyberspace. A few keystrokes can renew the world-weary spirit with fresh perspective, not to mention a  wealth of insight on overcoming everyday challenges and turning ordinary items into upcycled treasures.

If your car is giving you trouble, don’t worry. You can convert your ten-speed to an e-bike by installing some easy-to-find hardware. While you’re saving money for the auto repair, you can tune up your table saw with a few simple steps, and while you’re at it, tune up your table saw skills by building this floating key organizer. 

Did you know that it is possible to avoid seeing yourself on video calls, even while keeping the camera on? No more forehead strain while trying to hold your face still. Not only that, but you can become a digital ghost, change the settings on your smart phone, and use time-tested strategies to claim decisive victory over Wordle. 

Want to show off your wild side? You can start a fire in the rain and make a fine side dish out of edible hemlock needles and sidewalk snails––locally sourced! And there’s no need to let another week go by without harnessing the life-changing power of cornstarch. While you’re basking in the glow of the best scrambled eggs you’ve ever tasted, possibilities abound. You might crochet a decorative hippopotamus, make a bucket swing from cutoff jeans and sturdy chain, and replace your normal eyeshadow routine with a festive leopard-print design. Me-ow!

Does the thought of having to take a shower and go to work get you down? It would probably be lots more fun if you had taken the time to up your hygiene game by infusing some soap eggs with plastic dinosaurs! It really pays to think ahead. Just don’t forget to submerge the figurines completely into the mold before it hardens. 

Yes, the world is your oyster. Not only that, but those leftover shells may be the secret to upping your domestic interior with some choice beach-themed home décor ideas. While the lighting fixture projects are recommended for the advanced craftsperson, anyone can make a compete set of oyster-shell Santa heads for next year’s tree, and who couldn’t use more of those? Onward!

Dirt

What found us in our play.

We were not sanitary children, somersaulting in soil, clods of mycelium matting our manes. Our hands, handling humus, were the opposite of pure. We marveled in the muck of it, colluding with colluvium. Saturated with smut, we loamed our elements, barnyard babes absolved by absorption in the dirt that knew us, holding tight.

Bears at Home

A Goldilocks remix.

This is tiring. I could use a break.

Here’s a spot. 

Are there people?

I don’t see any.

Look at the colors.

It’s been a long trip.

C’mon, it’s just us!

Feel this.

Oh, oh! I love it here!

Let’s stay awhile.

Inspired by this article about polar bears settling in abandoned buildings on Russia’s Kolyuchin Island where photographer Dmitry Kokh was delighted to discover them playing house.

Fish Talk Over Coffee

Considering our aqueous ancestors.

Huh.

What?

Well, apparently, some species of sea slug take off their heads when the body gets infested with parasites.

Where do they put it?

They just crawl around on it until they grow a new body.

That’s convenient. What happens to the old one?

The parasites have at it. By the way, did you remember to call the dentist?

They’re still closed. You know, I read that the Pacific lingcod lose about twenty teeth a day and they grow them all back.

How many do they start with?

About five hundred, I think.

Well, you don’t have that many. So don’t forget the dentist.

You ever had that fish?

The lingcod? 

They’re supposed to be delicious. Sustainable, too.

Are those the ones with the fluorescent green meat?

Sometimes. It can be blue, too.

I’ll pass. But speaking of fish, look at this guy. Do you think he’s depressed?

He looks a little low, yeah. I told you when we were at the store you should get him some new leaves or something, make him his own little stocking, but you had tunnel vision about the cat food.

Well, that’s because she didn’t like the new kind and I wanted––

Apparently, you can tell the mental health of a zebra fish by how low it sits in a new tank. If it just hangs out by the bottom, it’s depressed.

Why?

They’re curious creatures. They like novelty. Plus, they’re apparently the closest to humans in terms of how brain chemicals function. 

I met this paleontology guy at the checkout. He said fish were the first to invent heads with brains. That and the whole phenomenon of having senses in sets: two eyes, two nostrils, two ears ––

Fish have ears?

On the inside. They have these little ear stones that detect vibrations. They help with balance, too.

Do you think he’s listening?

***

These two started talking when I was reading a number of articles from or linked to a feature in the New York Times about the sea slug and other discoveries. I started with 2021’s Most Fascinating Animals, and from there went on to lingcod teethfish depression, and some articles inspired by the work of paleontologist Neil H. Shubin, including What People Owe Fish: A Lot. Considering the debt, this morning’s post is admittedly a meager offering.

Angel

Bodies outside time and space.

Consider this illumination here now. Not quite us, and yet. Neither fact nor fiction, mortal or immortal. Who are you, and what? Illuminated form without matter, creature of eternity, yet not without beginnings of your own; how many of you are standing here now, on the point of this needle, stitching time? You move in space, yet are outside it, jumping through without passing. You know without thinking, sense without feeling, speak without words. Move love into light and back again. There is a common preference these days, not to see you. It is supported by argument and reason and other human tools, but for these you haven’t had much use. 

Ideas Over Coffee

On fleeting visions of wondrous import.

Hey, here’s an idea. Do you think––

There it goes. 

What? 

This other thing I was noticing. Do you think if it comes back, I will recognize it, or do they change forms?

Well, did it have one when it left?

That’s not helpful. Not really. I mean, it was sort of, you know –– [stretches arms sideways, tilting. wiggles fingertips]

Well. There you go.

It was right there a minute ago. I was sitting here with this coffee, and there it was, in front of me.

On the space heater?

No, higher. Like, see? You have to look here. Come here.

Oh, through the window. Well, the cat’s there now. So you can’t see much.

Maybe the cat saw it, too?

Hmm. What now?

More coffee? Or do you want me to try to move this cat?

Straight Talk at the Oasis

As it was in the beginning, is now, and––

Show me a straight line in nature. And yet, this insistence on the fastest means from point A to point B. Not to mention, the idea of this continuum: Then, Now, Tomorrow. As if.

Well, there is the horizon, as seen from anywhere on water.

Touché. 

Come to think, it was the seafaring people, wasn’t it, who so ardently embraced the linear alphabets and syllogisms and systems for organizing space?

True. Inland, its all curves and oases, mountains and arabesques, and everywhere space fracturing into its heavens and black holes, not to mention time and alphabets, and when the temple veil tears the shelter from the old masters, so do notions of antiquity shift away from what is solidly past to include what also was dreamed and may yet be, and there we are in it, singularities before our own consciousness and the moment among us, these mortals chanting to our own heartbeats and also to the the origins of time, insisting at each beginning, World without end.

Notes for the Missing

Inspired by messages to elusive someones that came and went.

This post is part of an ongoing series I can’t seem to resist, inspired by posts on online message boards.

***

You were at Home Depot, wanting to talk. You were turning around at the marina, and I was passing toward the end of the dock.

You were helping at a thrift store near the train station. You were seen later, camping near a picnic table at the Park ‘N Ride, and then you were gone. Where are you staying now?

You were at the bakery, the swap meet, at Major Market on Broadway.

You were my friend, my lunch partner, my gym buddy. You made me smile. I have missed you.

We miss so much, don’t we? Going about these daily tasks, getting dog food, gas, and BAM! A sighting, and it’s you again, isn’t it? Peeling back the veil of the world I think I know, when you arrive, and just as quickly, go. 

***

Others in this series:

Cat People

Ancient paintings, liquid bodies, and universal mysteries.

Some consider the ancient Egyptians to be the earliest-known cat people, although recent pictograph discoveries suggest more ancient traditions of feline reverence.  

I saw a painted image in a tomb in western Thebes. It depicts a scene from the Book of the Dead.

Is that the one with the cat slaying a serpent with a sword?

I heard they worshipped them. Didn’t they get mummified with the Pharoahs?

Not worship. But they did make little cat mummies. Cats were seen as sacred to other deities.

Hmmm. I watch mine sometimes, and you do have to wonder. I mean, look.

Yeah, think about it. A body sleeping that much must be involved in astral projection at least some of the time. 

She’ll do this thing where she sits facing the wall sometimes, her face inches from it.

Hah! I love that one, like the kid in a dunce cap in a nineteenth-century schoolhouse. 

Quite a meta form of satire, really. Given that she’s obviously –– well, you know.

Engrossed in any number of universal mysteries?

Exactly. See? Look, she’s at it again.

Do you think somebody would think we were worshipping her, sitting like this?

No, just watching. Paying attention.

Is there a difference?

First Lessons in Life Management

Wisdom from the old wives.

Never do your knitting outside. You’ll lengthen the cold months. Avoid sleeping with your head to the North. Or West. Shoes off the table; those mean death. Never, ever say happy birthday before it’s time. Think facing mirrors look good, with those infinite reflections? Think again: you’re inviting el diablo.

Speaking of which, you must avoid going directly home after a funeral or wake, else you may bring a spirit with you. That’s why you have to go to a restaurant or someplace with friends. Remember, never poke chopsticks straight down into your food, and protect your parents by tucking your thumbs near a cemetery. Think it’s fun to whistle inside? Okay, but have fun living with demons. Same goes for singing at the dinner table. And don’t even think of using water for a toast, unless the point you mean to make is a death wish for your companions.

Hands itchy? The right one means money is coming. The left means you’ll lose it. Avoid haircuts on Tuesdays, and yellow flowers. Never gift anything with a blade. If someone does this to you, give them a coin.

Never enter with your left foot, don’t trim your nails at night, and keep an acorn in your pocket.

And ––

Listen: that sudden pause when we’re here together and the conversation lulls? That means an angel passing over.