Jasperwood, Sept. 27

Well, you can blame the absence of today’s Bleat on along-lost acquaintance who decided to call me up after nineteen glasses of wine and accuse me of sucking the hind tit for Halliburton. Jeebus. Did you know that gas prices went up because ten guys sitting around a table decided to use the reduced refinery capacity as an excuse to influence world markets? And that oil companies want to bankrupt their independent distribution networks so they can take control? That the little guy is being screwed over every day by Enron? That we have to do something about the inherited wealth of the Rockefellers to counteract the pernicious effect of Enron on said little guy? That all corporations need to be controlled by the government? That price controls on drug companies would lead to more new drugs? That tax cuts only went to Bill Gates? that all cars could be run on vegetable by-products if the oil companies weren’t so powerful? That Cheney is the real president?

I kept talking, for old time's sake But now it’s late, and I can either bore you dead with notes about today’s utterly uninvolving day (the contractors came, accompanied by the project supervisor who is mightily peeved about the progress and some of the slipshod work; I cannot wait until the final bill comes due, because I want the head of the firm to come to Jasperwood to collect, and then, oh then, we shall have a talk. Of course, having such luxurious complains no doubt validates the relative’s view of me as an oyster-eating plutocrat reposed in a litter, commanding the slaves to whip the other slaves, but he seems to think I have a magic money well in the backyard that spews Jacksons 24/7, and if my taxes were jacked up to the 60% level he prefers I could still muster the scratch to hire these guys to install ONE PATHETIC WATER POND WHICH WAS SUPPOSED TO TAKE FIVE DAYS BUT HAS TAKEN FIFTY-EIGHT. Ahem. Sorry. Again, not a big problem in the course of human events. Very small. I’d just like to enjoy it for a week before the snow comes. And it’s not only the slow progress – it’s all the crap left in the lawn and yard and boulevard and driveway for week after week after week, as thought they expected the Spirit of Water Ponds to gather the materials and strew them hence at midnight, complete with the tinkling sound of fairy voices. I mean, there’s one legitimate reason for having blaze-orange traffic cones and a Bobcat in your driveway for two weeks, and that is A) your driveway is suddenly an interstate freeway, and B) it is being repaved. Otherwise, no. Aside from that it was a perfect day – walked Gnat to the bus stop, pausing to walk along the Ghost Dog marks in the pavement, pretending to cross the street like an ollllllddd man who needs her help getting me across. She doesn’t believe I’m an old man, bless her heart. Today when I picked her up from school she ran across the gym and crashed into me at Mach 2; I absorbed the blow, fell back, picked her up and held her upside down. “Wow,” she said in that daughter-awe you get when they don’t know better. “You’re strong.”

No one’s ever said that to me before. Well, thank 200 pushups a night, I guess. Also my new morning regimen of 30 bar dips right after I wake: there’s something to be said for making everything pop and crackle before you do anything else. I am in good shape, considering. And if all I can do with these layers of striated tissue is impress a five-year old by holding her upside down, fine.

Before I picked her up I went to the office, and started writing one of the nine Joe Ohio chapters I have to complete for the proposal. These are tricky. I went back to the same place I wrote the others – the Strib cafeteria, by the window, looking at the HVAC system on the roof, drinking a Coke, listening to the crash and bash of plates and pans in the kitchen, waiting for the monochromatic clouds of March. I expect I’ll write the rest of the story there as well, regardless of whether I sell the book. Then school, then home, then work, then THE INTERMINABLE CASTIGATING PHONE CALL - did you know we didn't find WMD in Iraq? - then this. Now back to Joe) or I can just skip it today and beg your indulgence.

So there’s no Bleat. I had so many things I was going to do tonight. Damn. But there is an update to the Gallery of Regrettable Food. Warning: very juvenile. See you tomorrow.

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