arboreal anti-desecration league reunited, part I

the tree branch thing was TK's idea.

the park across the street from her house is the site of the city's biggest fourth of july party. 200,000 people show up. bands play all day, and there are booths of things to buy, and families with picnic baskets.

TK told us about the party a couple of weeks ago, while we were drinking beers in her backyard.

"i have an idea," she said. "let's gather branches over the next few weeks, and then, the night before the party, we can sneak into the park and make giant peace signs out of them, and lay them all over the park."

of course, we immediately agreed.

the party is one week from yesterday. six days from today. last night, j and i were having dinner with TK, and we each humbly admitted that none of us had gathered any branches.

"hmm," she said.

then i recalled the time back in alabama, when the city had marked dozens of old-growth trees in our neighborhood with big, red "X"es, marked for destruction because the electric company wanted easier access to the power lines. TK and j and i and several of our friends spent hours painting protest signs, then nailed (yes, nailed -- but only after asking the trees' forgiveness) the signs to every tree we could find marked with the red X. we called ourselves the arboreal anti-desecration league. we sent anonymous press releases to the newspaper.

as a result, the city held a meeting. officials exclaimed surprise and alarm over the neighborhood's arboreal loyalty. and the trees stayed.

"hey," i said now, "remember the tree protest!"

so instead of making giant peace signs out of tree branches, it was unanimously decided that we should paint peace signs onto giant cardboard signs and affix them to the hundreds of trees lining the park (with rope this time, not nails).

we'll see how this small-time activism goes over in this big-time activist town.

i'll let you know in a week.


maybe it was that feminist bookstore i dragged him to?

my cousin nick, who is 16, to my mom: "aunt kathy? aunt kathy?"

my mom: "yes, nick."

my cousin nick: "i think cailo is the most independent woman i've ever met."

a pause, during which my mother perhaps contemplates how to respond.

my cousin nick, correcting himself: "no. i think cailo is the most independent woman i've ever heard of."

this conversation happened over the weekend during the Family's Visit. i have no idea what inspired nicky to say this. my mother shared it with me earlier today, and i will take it as a compliment.


the family

the family visits one week from tomorrow.

j and i still have boxes half-unpacked in the hallway. and no kitchen table, and so we'll have to eat with our plates on our knees in the living room. this is going to be a disaster.

this is a very important visit, because it's the first visit since The Loss. we can't talk about The Loss, so instead we will get together and drink beers.

most everyone will sleep at my aunt's house, except my brother and sister-in-law, who will sleep in our bed, while j and i sleep on an air mattress in the study ("oh, good idea," i said when j suggested this, "because then i'll have access to the computer," to which he rolled his eyes).

my aunt was worrying about the sleeping arrangements at her house. "i don't wan't T to sleep in a twin bed," she said, "i think that will be too much of a reminder." and at first i thought, yes, let's not have T sleep in a small bed, this is smart. and then i thought, wait. she doesn't need a reminder. her husband is dead. it isn't like she forgot.

and that made me think of the time i was sick and no one wanted to say the word "cancer" around me, as if i didn't realize that was what was wrong. like the word would surprise or alarm me.

and then i remembered that we always worry about the wrong things. the things we worry about tend not to be the things that actually are at risk of going badly. and this isn't a bad thing. because it gives us something to do, when worrying over what is actually the problem would be too difficult or painful.

and so i don't say anything when my aunt worries over putting T in a twin bed. because at least that's more productive than the alternative, than reminding herself of the fact that none of us has forgotten, that we are one person short of family.



i was doing some work on the front porch this evening (heaving rocking chairs and giant pots and several folding chairs and a couple of watering cans around, in various arrangements, in the last phase of that unruly beast otherwise known as unpacking). our front windows were open, and i realized how clearly i could hear not just the songs playing from the stereo inside, but also hear j, singing along. and then i realized that the neighbors and anyone who happened to walk by could hear this, too. which isn't a problem, as i think we have fairly decent taste in music, so it's not like anyone would complain or anything.

but it got me thinking about walls. and how when we're inside our walls, we feel private and alone. and how we can feel this privacy and aloneness in such close proximity to each other. and how, if you could peel back the walls of all the houses up and down my block, we sure would look funny, holed away in our living rooms and bedrooms and kitchens, pretending to be alone or with our families, when all this life is going on around us.

and now it's raining. a hard rain. the kind that washes the dirt out of the yard and onto the sidewalk the next morning kind of rain. and i'm thinking how the only thing that is keeping me dry is this flimsy wall and ceiling.

i look out my front window and wonder what is going on on the other sides of all the other walls.