Draw no conclusions from that graphic. The Final Annoucement of my bucket status, as well many, many other decisions affecting the lives of many fellow employees, will be announced Monday. Since this is Sunday night, and I can’t see into the future (obviously, or that merry moment when I was relieved of the burden of my column would not have come like a 2 X 4 in the brainpan) I can’t say what the news will be.

So! How was your weekend? Mine was grand. Aside from one furtive episode Saturday afternoon, I stepped away from the computer entirely. No email, no web, le shebang totale. I went to Target to stock up on Things, because we were low on Things. (By “low” I mean I was down to quadruple redundancy on several items, like commemorative metal Jetsons dishwasher pellets containers.) I tried on some cargo shorts as well, since the ones I bought a few years ago are frayed and threadbare. Then I noticed that the new ones came pre-frayed for your convenience. I had a horrible imagine of someone in an Vietnamese factory, picking at the seams with a needle as fast as she could. She’s paid by the piece. The more pants she ruins, the more she earns. She wonders what it would be like to live in a country where you have so much money you pay people to rip apart your clothes for fashion’s sake. Then she laughs: suckers!

Mostly I got tree-flesh products. Tree-flesh turned into thin rolls of “bathroom” tissue, tree-flesh folded into quilted napkins and imprinted with seasonal motifs, tree-flesh impregnated with lotion, interfolded and stacked into gaily-printed boxes, tree-flesh rolled in tall cylinders, tree-flesh that had been die-cut and stamped with words. At the register I gave the clerk some rectangular tree-flesh with pictures of expired politicians and was handed an account of my purchases, printed on tree-flesh. Then I drove to Home Depot for Cedar Nuggets, as they’re called. Tree-flesh. Big aromatic bags of cedar chips, which I heap here and there around Jasperwood. There’s the backyard landscaping, the south side, the upper walk and the front landscaping. It takes 80 bags to fill everything. I do half one year, half the next, because it’s a miserable, miserable job. The Element holds 20 bags; I can pick up two at a time. And this is one of those instances in which I regret living on a hill: hauling those bags up the stairs guarantees the ol’ stabby-knives in the lumbar region the next day. But my complaints are but a tenth of the next-day agony my wife will greet on Monday; she spent the entire weekend weeding, bent over, gripping and pulling and dropping and standing and bending and gripping and pulling and so on. I understand completely why people move to Arizona in their 60s, and look out at a yard of gravel and hardy plants bristling with nature’s own hypodermic needles: even if you got the gardening urge, the plants themselves say back off, pal. 

On the other hand, Jasperwood looks incredible: a week of rain and a weekend of planting and pruning, and everything’s popped out in full glory. This is why we live here. This, and the punitive taxes. And the flowers!

Random cultural note: over the weeken

Back to Strib Suspense Theater. Tomorrow I return to the office and transfer the money from your tipjar contributions to a CD, which will sit earning interest, and be used as an emergency bandwidth fund if the worst should ever happen. I thank everyone who contributed, and I’ll try to get to individual thanks this week – be assured that the money will be applied to the future of the site. If I go and get myself hit by a bus tomorrow, the site will stay up long enough for you to download every page which you can enjoy in perpetuity.

Anyway: I had to scan this picture, which I found in the Strib archives.

I slid my glasses down my nose, and took a closer look: say now. Wha?

There’s a man on the roof. There’s a man in a hat on the roof. There’s a man in a hat on the roof by the sign.


My long-planned 1947 newspaper novel just got a new twist.

And my life? Tune in tomorrow. Apologies for the short Bleat. The head, she spins. New matchbook, of course – see you Tuesday.