Christmas is past, New Years is just a few days away. It is that strange, in between place right now. That place we all know, where something major has passed, something major is just ahead of us all, but right now we're all hanging in a lull, the still water between two huge pounding waves in the ocean's tide.
I was supposed to be flying today. Well, not so much flying as crewing; setting up so that our pilot and two paying customers could go fly, and us be chasing alongside and sometimes below, watching carefully, laughing and joking, radioing back and forth to the distant specks suspended under the huge blue and orange nylon balloon. But, as some wise fellow one said, there's many a slip betwixt cup and lip. The weather that we thought was going to hold nice didn't, and slid instead into more of what we've had a lot of this season--rain. Last night a front passed through, dropping the temperature, I'm told, twenty degrees in five minutes.
I have to take the meteorologists word for it, as I was inside an auditorium at the time, a huge sports area two thirds full of people who, like me, wanted to enjoy the sounds of classical music as played on electric guitars by performers with hair left over from the 80's and baggy tuxedos. Oh, and of course watch a tremendous light show with pyrotechnic effects, smoke and laser lights.
The Xmas gift that Mrs. I and I bought each other were tickets to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on their Winter Tour 2008 yesterday afternoon with family friends. Christmas carols played at monstrous volume, matched with syncopated blasts of fire, showers of sparks, and beautiful rays of green and red and purple laser light.
(While we weren't allowed cameras inside and I don't have one small enough to sneak in hidden in my argyle sock I did have a phone camera, hence the quality.)
That was last night. This morning I was cleaning my office in a rather desultory manner. My sister in law had decided that she wanted me to take back the huge antique dining room table that I gave them months ago since they entertain and I don't. Well, she bought her own dining room set, this antique piece being too old, I guess, and I was forced to take it back. To do that I had to get rid of two pieces of unused exercise equipment that had migrated into the freshly-emptied formal dining room, and since I was there throwing things out I continued in that vein for a little while longer. So, there I was in the office cleaning in a sort of tired, not particularly enthusiastic way when I opened my humidor to put a cigar punch back in the storage drawer in top and I had to stop a moment and breathe.
When I was a young man our local mall had a Tinderbox store in it. Small, dressed all in dark wood and maroon velvet wallpaper it was a mecca for a young man who was looking for some simpler time, even if that 'simpler time' was mostly an illusion. It also smelled wonderful. It was full of rich dark smells of pipe tobacco and leather, cigars and cigarettes made of exotic tobaccos. Little was I to know when I took a job there late in 1984 that it was to be a key point in my life. At the time I just knew it was a good part time job, easy hours, and I could, whenever I wanted to, open the heavy glass jars and whiff deeply of those marvelous smells. When a customer came in and wanted a cigar I could walk with joyous trepidation to the huge glass door, steel myself, empty my lungs, heave the huge door open and breath deeply of leaves from foreign places.
When I opened my humidor this morning that same rich dark mysterious smell wafted out. I recently bought a sampler of cigars, five each of a few excellent brands, and fifty of my regular brand. The combined scent was more than ample for sending me back to that place, and it took hours before I could return to my little humidor, slide one of its cherry drawers open, select a puro and bring it to the back patio to stand in the cold and damp and enjoy it.
I set a nice fire ablaze in the fireplace today, hoping to drive off the chill and damp that is insistent on settling into my bones from outside. Yesterday evening it was 75 outside, and I had the air conditioner turned on to help sleep's arrival. Tonight the low is going to be "in the mid 20's." Welcome to Louisiana.
On quite afternoons like this sometimes I find myself sitting in the hen yard, watching the chickens go about their lives. They move about with a leisure that belies their constant wariness and their insatiable hunger. They scratch and look, move around their huge enclosure governed by a kind of feathery Brownian motion, coo quietly to themselves like old women who don't have anyone to listen to them but still feel the need to speak. It's a surprisingly relaxing way to spend time, sort of like watching brightly-coloured carp swimming in a pond, only more interactive. Koi rarely try to eat the buttons off your shirt, and they never hop onto your arm to perch, clenching your skin with long, surprisingly warm toes. It is a fine way to spend time, but not if it's raining outside, not if it's cold. Certainly not if it's both.
Part of me wants to hop in the car and drive right up the road to the always open consumer mecca that is Wall-To-Wall Mart, there to buy a glue stick and perhaps some oddments; a computer USB hub, perhaps some clearance holiday-coloured M&Ms. I've plans to start a cigar journal in a lovely little notebook that Vulgar Wizard bought for me some holiday past. I have an image of myself sitting in my big brown leather chair in the dark quiet of my office, hunched over, carefully gluing a cigar band to the top of a blank page then making careful notes in my tightly crawled handwriting. I can hear my fountain pen nib making soft scratching noises on the butter-coloured paper, and the quiet gurgle of the aquarium. Unfortunately, I can't quite get the energy up to brave the post-holiday crowds, even late on a Sunday afternoon. I remember all too well the first week post-Santa crowds, both as an employee and as a consumer, and I have no desire to repeat that misery. So.
I'd noticed that the blogosphere has been quiet, perhaps feeling that lull between waves that I'm feeling, that trembling stillness that belies the foaming crash that is soon to arrive, so I thought I'd sit and write you all a little bit, stir up a tiny ripple in the smooth water before the crash hits.
So how are things with you?