Media, Music and Movies ~ For Uranium Mining On Navajo Land, Plus Snow From Sewage

Yes, it’s Monday. It’s St. Patrick’s Day. It’s national beer drinking day for a lot of folks.

But it’s also another day in the ongoing fight against uranium mining and its consequences everywhere from the past to the present.

On March 14, 2014 independent journalist Amy Goodman reported from Flagstaff, Arizona about the ongoing environmental and health issues connected with uranium mining and its long-term consequences for the Dine ~ Navajo people.  The main portion of her video report is posted here but there is a great deal more information and related coverage on Democracy Now!’s site.  Part of the Democracy Now! broadcast discussed the use of music and film by to raise awareness and share information regarding issues.  To supplement DN!’s coverage I’ve included two videos featuring Klee Benally’s music and an informative video about Outta Your Backpack Media which teaches Indigenous people how to make and use movies to address the need for media justice and coverage in their communities.  There’s a trailer for the film The Return of Navajo Boy which is referenced in the news piece.  The film’s website –>  Democracy Now!’s page for the story also includes links to information and related stories. 


Without Water & Weather Changes ~ Klee Benally



“A Slow Genocide of the People”  Uranium Mining Leaves Toxic Nuclear Legacy On Indigenous Land  


Democracy Now! A Daily Independent News Hour  —


Outta Your Backpack



The Return of Navajo Boy Trailer


This is a trailer for the award-winning documentary film, “The Return of Navajo Boy.” See its official website for more information:

Also see Groundswell Educational Films website:


Song of the Sun ~ Klee Benally



What part of sacred don’t you understand?

MT Garcia

Breakfast Special, #37, “Coming Clean”

“Coming Clean”

Inhaling the earthy scents in the shower, Sarge watched the water play over his fight scarred hands. He thought about how he and Lily might create a warmer, more inviting living space on the second floor of Kozy’s warehouse, a space in which Lily would feel as welcome and comfortable in as he felt here in her apartment, a space comfortable enough to study in when it suited her, a space where she would feel comfortable enough to consider spending the night. Sarge shook his head under the shower with his last thought then stepped back and pushed his hair off his face. Consider? Just consider spending the night? Who am I kidding? I don’t want her to just consider it. I want her there, in my space, in my bed all night like I’ve been in hers for weeks now. Wait, that’s not quite being totally up front with yourself, is it, Sarge? He felt his hands tremble and held them palm open to the hot water streaming from the shower head. Yeah, I don’t want her in my bed like I’ve been in hers all this time, like I think it’s best keeping things like they have been until . . .. Until what, Sarge? Her name isn’t in that damn grey book or any other book like it. You know that. You know you wouldn’t be here right now if she hadn’t invited you in of her own accord. No one told her to invite you. No one paid her to do that or anything else since. Yeah, you know that if she wanted to, she’d kick you out to sleep with the generator, or over at Anton’s in one of the “sun rise” rooms they keep ready for people when their domestic or other problems get out of hand.

He swished the water in the tub, for which he’d closed the drain in order to save the hot water for soaking his feet for a time after showering. Dinner and dancing while making the coconut cookies had taken the edge off the chill that had set in from wading through the cold water in the basement of the building the Lings lived in. Even Little George’s insulated rubber boots hadn’t quite stood up against the extended amount of time he’d spent setting things to rights water-wise in the cold flooded basement. He turned off the shower and let the tub fill with enough hot water to make his feet happier. Flexing his toes, he sat on the edge of the tub with his chin in one hand. Enjoying the scented steamy warm air, he resumed his conversation with himself.  Yeah, I should have done this tub action for the feet right away. What is it with me and water lately? Ever since that first bath Lily made me take, I feel like I could live in a tub. Well, something a lot bigger than a tub. At least a lake or river. An ocean would be best. Oh Jeez, here I go on this bend again. It’s probably just that this bath thing is new and very cool. Especially with Lily’s home people scents added in. I can’t believe I never thought to try one on my own even after Kozy found that huge tub for the second floor. Lack of imagination, that’s what that lack is about, Sarge. Lack of imagination, that’s what does people in all the time. Is that my problem with Lily? Lack of imagination? Or just some old fear of imagining what sort of serious, meaningful relationship I want with a woman and screwing it up when it comes along? Wait, I’m not talking just any woman in general anymore. I’m talking about this one woman in particular. I’m talking about Lily.

Sarge turned the water back on and let the tub fill further while he eased himself down into the soothing heat.  Yeah, this is the ticket. Relax, take my time. Think things out. There’s no hurry. It’s started snowing again. Lily is having some time to herself out there and I’m having some time to myself in here. It’s all good. We both know having this sort of time alone by ourselves works for us. Well, except for the fact that she has access to those coconut cookies and I don’t unless I make wet tracks…. Cut it out, Sarge. Get back to this ‘until what’ question and answer it already. Yeah, so what concerns are on this table? Hmm, concern number one: while I have no legit reason to think of Lily being the sort of woman who wants to screw around with me in bed just for the sake of screwing, well, let’s face it, that’s a concern considering what I’m damn sure has been the case with all the women I’ve gone to bed with so far. It’s a mind fuck I’ve apparently not quite gotten past yet. That ball is entirely in my court and I’ve got to deal with it. How do I get to where I can trust my own instincts and thinking that this is not Lily’s agenda?

He slid down until his head was entirely under the hot water then surfaced gradually with a relieved gasp. That’s it, get some more blood moving in the feet and the head feels better too. Answer to question, I’m not quite sure yet. Sarge, you know it’s not a good thing when you don’t trust yourself. How are you going to trust her, if you don’t trust you? Hold on, wait, but I do trust Lily. Why? How do you know that you trust her? Sarge looked at the bathroom door. Why? Well, let’s see what matters in regard to concern number one? Okay, except for the bath to deal with the dead squirrel shit smell, she’s never come in here while I’m showering or taking a bath, and she’s never come in and tried to start playing sex games. She respects our spaces in the bed. She keeps to her side and I keep to mine. Old Reliable Jack is in residence on the floor on her side. I don’t need something like Jack to make a point about wanting to be left alone while sleeping. Neither of us goofs around in there. I don’t want her to get the wrong idea and she hasn’t said or done a damn thing to give me the wrong idea. It’s like we both know it’s too easy to mess things up by saying or doing the wrong things in that context, so we’re extra mindful of being polite. I know I am anyway.

Damn, it’s too easy to hurt or get seriously hurt in this scenario. Well, there you have it, Sarge. You’re afraid of getting hurt again. If this doesn’t work you’re going to be hurt, and not like before. Even if it does work, you still are opening yourself up for some kind of hurt along the way. You know from talking things out with Anton that you already care enough about Lily to not want to hurt her, if you can possibly avoid it. Are you having some self-worth issues because of the names in that damn grey book? Maybe a few. But I’ve learned a lot in the last year or so by staying away from the ladies at the folks’ place. One major thing I’ve learned is that it’s not in the normal scheme of things for a guy to get set up with as many women as I’ve been by my family. That bullshit is definitely affecting me now. I can feel it. I can’t put words to it yet, but I feel it messing around in the back of my mind. I am well aware that Lily is not a set up. I know that inside and out. I’m concerned about that personal history I bring to this relationship. There’s no way around it. I’ve got to lay all the cards on the table as far I understand them for Lily. I wouldn’t want to be blindsided by someone with my history, so I’m not about to do that to her. I have no idea how she’ll react to any of it. I’m pretty sure that scares me. I understand what Anton says about her capacity to deal with dark shit, but still, in some very personal ways I’m a guy with a lot of trash trailing after him.

I also know I’ve got a lot to offer Lily that has nothing to do with sex. I figured that out by taking small chances with the ladies from the libraries and bookstores. I could see they weren’t right for me for a serious relationship and I wasn’t right for any of them. But it was also clear to me that all of them and me are right for someone. We all bring different things to a relationship table. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind getting some input from a couple of them, like maybe Diane and Elizabeth, regarding things with Lily. They’d be outside this context and see things differently than the people inside it. But right now that’s not happening. I’ve got me—and to an extent Anton to discuss things with. I’d call Kozy for a long chat if there was a phone somewhere with real privacy. But I haven’t seen one yet to ask about using for an hour or so. Yeah, a good long jawbreaker with Walter wouldn’t hurt one bit. Or maybe, what the hell, maybe I should just have a really long talk with Lily?

Sarge got out of the tub and put a towel to work drying his hair. I’m going to have to talk with her about my so-called past relationships at some point in time. Considering what we agreed upon today about living together, maybe sooner, as in now, is a lot better than later, even if I don’t yet have all the information I want about certain family matters. This way, if she decides to rethink things, no one else knows anything about it so she won’t be embarrassed or have to deal with questions she doesn’t want to answer. Yeah, thanks Diane for that tip about not embarrassing women with their friends by putting them on the hot seat concerning relationship issues unless you’re just itching to start a war.

He dressed while making a short list of the most important things he thought he needed to give Lily a heads up about. He knew he was on the right track when he finished buttoning his shirt, one of Little George’s loaned flannels, and realized his personal thermostat had retuned to normal.  Feeling phsyically balanced again, he shook his head to get rid of any lingering water in his hair. He had previously noted his hair apparently found Lily’s home people plants agreeable in some way that when he left it to finish drying uncombed it appeared much neater than when washed without them.  Even when he did comb it after a good washing with some of Lily’s herb mixtures, it looked like a nice neat tight mop rather than a ransacked squirrel haven as it had prior to Lily scent time. Though he admitted his take on this was totally biased because his nose was calling the shots in the home people land scents department. Lately his nose didn’t give a damn what his eyes had to say about anything.  After pushing his hair away from his face, a futile gesture if there ever was one as it immediately went right back to where it had been, Sarge turned to open the door and felt a keen thrill of emotional electricity flit through him. It was much the same as the feeling that he’d experienced when he’d exited Big Bob’s and caught sight of Lily working her way up the street then set off after her. He liked the way that move had turned out, so hopefully this was an indication that this move, as strange as it felt to him in several ways because of the nature of what he felt he needed to talk about, also might turn out to be to his liking. There was no way to know except to follow through on his decision.

He opened the bathroom door and walked down the short hall to the bookroom. Hearing Lily speaking in two different voices Sarge wondered if Marianna or another child from upstairs had come for a visit and was being entertained with a story.  This notion jumped right out the window as soon as he had sight of the back of the red velvet couch where Lily’s left foot was chasing her right across the top of the couch back. He stood listening to her switch from a falsetto to a something just below her normal voice speaking tone and realized there was a different voice for each foot which were being used in place of puppets for some adventure he couldn’t make heads or tails of because she wasn’t speaking in English. Recalling that he’d caught a glimpse of this same foot action when he’d returned after being doused with the garbage disposal refuse and that it had ceased as soon as she’d become of aware of his presence, Sarge kept quiet in order to satisfy  his curiosity by watching her feet and listening to the tones of her dual voice action. Only when the storyline seemed to have played itself out and her feet rested on her heels moving slowly sideways in one direction and then in the opposite, did he announce himself by speaking.

“Hey Lily, do you have some time for seriously serious talk?”

“Considering the fact that I’ve been having a conversation with my feet, what do you think, Funny Man? Hmm?” Lily pushed herself up from the couch seat cushions just far enough to peer at him over the back of the red couch. “What’s on your mind, Sarge?”          

He pointed at her feet as he came closer to the couch. “Well, first off, what’s that story with your feet about? I have to ask because your right foot really did a number on your left, but I have no idea why right foot beat the heck out of the left foot.”

Lily moved to sit cross-legged on the couch. “That’s not really what you want to talk about. You’re curious, but it’s not the headliner on your mind, Sarge.” She wiggled her toes. “Tell you what, I’ll go through the whole story in English for you, but only after we talk about whatever has you out of the bathroom after only half the time you usually spend in there. Deal?”

 “You promise to tell the whole story after we talk, no matter what we talk about?”

“I promise. No matter what we talk about first, I will give you whole blow-by-blow from start to finish afterwards.” She made a few lines across her chest then shrugged. “What’s that called where people seal their promises with all this finger action in front of their chests? Whatever that’s called that’s what I just did.”

“Oh, you mean like ‘cross my heart and hope to die if I lie’. Yeah. Hm.” Sarge looked at her and smiled a little. “Okay, I guess I’ll just have to trust you to keep your word about the story.”

“I’m warning you that it’s probably not quite what you might be thinking it is. As in, it’s not some quaint little home people fable.”

Sarge sat on the warm radiator facing the couch. “Okay, so what kind of story is it then?”

“It’s a way I have of dealing with a few things that I have issues with. You know some safe, self-contained, acting out play.”

“Oh yeah? Does it work?”

“Enough so that I stop chasing the dog’s tail in my head.”

Sarge thought about her statement for a moment then nodded. “Then it works. I’m going to hold you to your promise.” He rubbed his bare feet on the rug and contemplated stretching out on the floor.

Lily waited for Sarge to speak his mind. She watched him move to lay on his back on the rugs where he liked to read stretched out along the radiators so he could look up at the sky through the windows without any obstructions. He was quiet for so long that she considered gently prompting him into speaking instead she heeded the soft hushing of her vibes and made herself comfortable by stretching out over the length of the couch. Realizing something just as important as their new agreement must be on his talk agenda, she listened carefully to his silence while he was searching for a good opening while the sky darkened outside the windows. Knowing he, like she, enjoyed the room at night without the lights on and the shades open as they were now, Lily shut off the lamp then lay back on the couch with her hands interlocked behind her head.  Just after her eyes had fully adjusted to the change from lamp-light to moonlight he began quietly talking to her from the floor where he lay looking up at the night sky dotted with lightly falling snow.


Robert Snache

Breakfast Special, #14, What a Little Wood Can Do

What a Little Wood Can Do

Lily emerged from the steaming bathroom spreading earth scents throughout her apartment to discover that the snow was taking an intermission from falling and that Sarge’s boots and coat were gone. Pulling on her own boots she ventured into the hallway and to the front door where several older children were waiting for Rosa before going out on the front porch for some relief from being indoors. Stepping out on the porch with them, she surveyed the neighborhood of old buildings amidst nearly five feet of new snowfall on top of the previous three feet. The porch floor was nearly a foot lower than the snow drifting along its edges. A twelve-foot long two-inch by eight inch water-warped board stretched out from the porch where the steps normally would be located. Several more followed it, laid end to end on top of the snow. They made a dark brown streak to nearly the other side of the street where other boards, thick cardboard boxes and anything else that would serve, branched off at right angles. She recognized the boards as having come from Rosa’s basement. On both sides of the street people were continuing the path in other directions. While she was watching the growing efforts to create the makeshift walkway, Rosa came outside and stood beside her. “Okay Lily. Now we know one thing about the big man.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that, Rosa?”
“Watch me.” Rosa faced the children then pointed at them and then at her own eyes.
Lily watched Rosa walk down the length of the first board and back. Then, explaining by showing for the children observing her from the porch, Rosa took hold of Lily’s hand, stepped off the board and promptly sank into the snow up to her thighs. Her boot clad feet were not making contact with the ground under the snow and she couldn’t take a single step. With Lily’s help, Rosa managed to extract first one foot then the other using the board for leverage. It was perfectly clear to the children that they’d be stuck if they tried walking off the boards.
“He know how to walk on water.” Rosa winked and stomped her feet on the board clearing the snow from her legs and effectively packing the snow down about an inch and grinned. “Not Lily’s snowshoes. But not bad.”
Lily considered telling Rosa what else the big man thought he knew he could do in regard to her home’s shifting foundation then thought the better of it. Best to not to raise hopes with nothing more than a diagram and a story about an eccentric artist. She watched the older children begin traversing the boards and realized Rosa had brought them out partly for the purpose of pounding down the snow. The sky was still overcast with low hanging gray clouds. There might not be sun for several more days. The city plows were not going to make street clearing runs to this part of Falls any time soon. This much snow was not going to clear out before the next deposit arrived.
Hugging her arms, Lily scanned the transformed landscape for some sign of Sarge’s tall frame. She walked out on the boards to see what was going on further down the block where a group of men was gathering near a partly burned abandoned house. She still hadn’t seen Sarge anywhere when what remained of the wide tar shingle siding on the burned house began appearing in pieces that extended the walkway further along the street. With a start she saw a large section of the abandoned house’s north facing wall suddenly descend onto the snow with a loud whoosh. Immediately it was set upon with a chainsaw wielded by a member of the Watch. Wondering what was coming next, Lily didn’t notice Mrs. Cho carefully walking towards her on the boards until the tiny woman wearing a formless dark green coat which covered her from chin to ankles stopped and smiled up at her.

“He say:  too hot. You take. Thank you very much.” Mrs. Cho handed Lily a gray bundle that she knew to be Sarge’s long coat.

Lily thanked Mrs.Cho who waved a delicate little green gloved hand then returned back the way she’d come along the boards from her home next to the abandoned house. She considered going all the way to where the group of men were apparently tearing apart the abandoned house piecemeal until she saw how much trouble they were having moving through and over the snow around the building. Taking a deep breath she quickly walked lightly over the boards to get to the building where Esther and Anton lived. She stepped from the last board onto the front porch and found Esther opening the front door for her.

“Hey Lily! Get in here, girl. What you doing prancing around out there without your coat? It’s nicer out there than it’s been in like forever, but it ain’t that nice.” Catching Lily around the shoulders, Esther hugged and hauled her further inside at the same time.

“Hi Esther. What’s the thinking with that abandoned house? I saw Little George down there with a chainsaw just now.”

“I didn’t catch much of that spur of the moment action ‘cause I was on the phone with JJ at the time. Sounded to me like it mainly a wild hair thing for a bunch of muscle to blow off some steam in between nasty weather shows. I mean, how much wood right for fireplaces can there be in that thing after all this time?”

Lily shook her head. “I have no idea. There could be other things though. Depends, I guess, on what they’re looking for.”

“I read that. You want to come have a read of the board?”

“Yeah. Figured I should while I could. Otherwise we might be talking it all over the phone.” Lily walked with Esther into a square room where the walls were covered with large sheets of paper containing the Neighborhood Watch’s information lists.

“As far as I know, right now we’re all up to date on all heat checks. Food crew is out as we speak doing door to doors for pantry needs. I figured that was a priority since with those boards out there we can get things out while the getting is easy. I don’t know how long those will be useful, but for now they’re doing the trick in my book. You see anything I’m missing?”

“JJ did the med checks?”

“Yesss, she did. Everybody’s set. Mr. Pantini has enough insulin for at least a week. So that’s a relief. Here, I’ll put JJ’s info up there while we’re at it.” Esther wrote in the square box for indicating date, time, initials of who had done what and when.

“Looks great, Esther. I don’t think you’ve missed a single step.”

“Oh I know I missed something, Lily.”

Lily looked at the lists again then at Esther in confusion. “Like what?”

Esther nodded and pointed at the gray bundle Lily was holding against her chest. “Like that. Or to be more precise, what was inside that coat when it came here looking for my Anton.”

“Oh you mean Sarge.”

“Oh yeah, I mean Sarge. Lily, that man is way too big to be just something Karen’s cat dragged in for claw games. I thought Anton was yanking my chain for giggles and grins when he came back from his speech lesson and said there was some major tall dude, excuse me, that’s putting it nicely, but I am not going to repeat his little slip up in regard to his word choices, hanging in your place. Then this morning I’m in here dotin’ my ‘I’s and crossing my ‘T’s and next thing I know Anton goes to answer the door thinking it’s someone on the pantry crew come early, but it ain’t. It’s your Sarge.”

“He isn’t my Sarge.”

“Hell he ain’t, Ladyfriend. He got heart beat written all over him. Why else he over here stirring things up with Anton? Not like Anton needs any help gettin’ stirred. He stir himself just fine ninety-nine percent of the time. Why you lookin’ like that, Lily? Get over here and sit down.” Esther pulled Lily over to the old leather imitation couch by the window and gently pushed on her shoulders to get her to sit down. Sitting next to her, Esther stopped talking and waited for Lily to speak.

“Esther, you know how you say just being kind can get a person in a world of trouble?”

“I know.” Esther looked at the way Lily was holding Sarge’s rolled coat and began wondering what exactly was going on in her friend’s mind.

“I think maybe that’s what’s happening with Sarge.”

Esther waited for Lily to say more. When she didn’t, but hunched over with the coat tight against her chest, Esther decided it was time to get very direct. “What’s been happening with this Sarge, Lily? He got you between a rock and a hard place somehow? Or you got you between a rock and a certain place?”

Lily shook her head, flung herself against the sofa back and tossed the rolled coat on the floor where it promptly unrolled to reveal his sweater and shirt were part of the package. Lily looked at the clothing then at Esther then back at the coat, sweater and shirt lying on the floor. “What’s that about, Esther? Huh? What kind of man goes out in this weather and takes off half his clothes?”

“A fine looking physically fit man that’s what kind, Lily. A man working a healthy sweat hauling boards out of a damp basement for people to get around on top of hard packed deep snow on before it  gets a lot deeper like it’s supposed to be fixin’ to do sooner than previously expected.” Esther watched Lily’s eyes widen with her weather news.

“You got to be kidding. Esther tell me you’re yanking my chain about more snow coming already.”

“Why you want me to tell you that, Lily? Hmm? You read yourself since that man been hanging in your place?” Esther leaned towards Lily and sniffed her hair. “Oh yeah, the good home people stuff. That’s what I’m talking about.”

“Oh stop it, Esther. I barely know the man. The only reason he’s at my place is because, as we can all see,”Lily turned and gestured at the window half covered with snow “ he’s stuck here just like the rest of us. No streets. No taxis. No buses. No cars. No snowplows. Just snow.”

Esther’s keen ears caught the sadness in how her friend spoke the word snow. “I read you now, girlfriend. It ain’t the man that’s your problem. It’s the snow reminding you of home.”

“There is no more home.” For a few moments Lily twisted to look out the window at the snow drifting in the five foot wide space between the buildings.

“Yeah, true that be. But I suspect it sure is looking enough like home right here now. That’s messing you up from readin’ yourself concerning this man.” Esther waited for the other woman to speak again. When it was clear she wouldn’t, Esther did. “Wait, how’d this Sarge come to hang in your place anyway, Lily? Like I said, he’s too big to be Karen’s cat dragged toy. How’d he get there?”

Lily groaned. “I invited him in late Friday night. This was after we saw Volpone together at the Orpheum. Remember when I told you and Rosa about the guy who followed me out of the bar with the egg specials to get a date?”

Both of Esther’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “This Sarge is that guy?” Esther stared hard at Lily when she nodded. “Excuse me, Lily dear, but when you shared that intel, you said nothin’, absolutely not a thing about the man who ran you down on the street for a date being one fine piece of man candy. I would have remembered that intel. Hell, Rosa would have remembered that for me. Details would have been demanded concerning that fact.  Oh yeah, Lily, there be a telephone line between Esther’s house and Rosa’s house and there ain’t no charge for the calls direct. Only piece of on target intel you laid out was the height fact. Though there be considerable more of that fact too than expected from intel you shared. While there be considerable less beard and stache in sight too, as in none. Do tell Esther that your eyes are in normal working order regardin’ the visual reality of this man you are refusing to lay claim to in any manner even though you saw fit to invite said sugar man into your personal space directly after one date.”

Lily thrust her chin out and shook her head. “He did have a full beard when I first saw him. When we met up outside the Orpheum I didn’t even recognize him without it until I heard his voice. I still haven’t adjusted to the change in his appearance. As for how tall he is, well, so sorry be Lily for not having a measuring tape handy at all times. I said he was tall.”

“You didn’t say he was Little George tall tall. That type of tall is a message all on its own. Not to mention it’s damn hard to miss. Wait, now I’m off track. Let’s get back to how this man came to be in Lily’s pad. O yes, Esther’s ears just dyin’ for this intel.”

Lily groaned but complied. “The weather was really nasty by the time the performance ended. He forced me to take a taxi ride home. I wasn’t nice about it even though he was paying for it. So to make up for being mean, I invited him in for chicken soup. It was so late by then, that it made sense to just let him sleep over. I figured he would leave in the morning. But that didn’t happen. Couldn’t happen.”  Lily shrugged. “That’s how he ‘got there’ as you put it.”

Esther shook her head in disbelief. “Did I hear you say he paid for a taxi ride from the Orpheum Theater to here? You know what that cost, Lily?”

“Not exactly, since I’ve never taken one before. But I knew I didn’t have enough cash for it last night. I didn’t want to get in the damn thing because I knew it would be expensive. He just picked me up and threw me in it.”

“He threw you into a taxi? You expect me to believe that? After all your urban street defence training you let a man throw you, of all people, into a taxi? Sorry, Esther is not buyin’ that particular package as it sets.”

“It wasn’t like he attacked me, Esther. He just, just took me by surprise when he did that after I told him I didn’t have cash for the taxi. I mean, hell, even when he did it I knew he wasn’t acting with evil intent. One second I was right side up and the next I was not so much. He kept his hands to himself; except for the hauling off the feet and throwing parts.” Lily grimaced. “I’m making it sound worse, aren’t I?”

“Worse?” Pursing her lips, Esther very slowly turned her head from one side to the other. “Naw, ‘worse’ is not on my mind. Nope.” She leaned close to Lily. “Sounds like he did exactly what you wanted him to do. Sounds like Lily enjoyed not being right side up. Sounds like someone got just the sort of surprise she needs more of. Seems to Esther that this tall man would still be hangin’ at Lily’s pad even if there was no snow. Why? Because Lily’s done gone and ladled up some of her made from scratch chicken soup for him. Oh yes she has. The same soup just about half the eligible men in the Flats would like to have at least a spoonful of at Lily’s kitchen table any time of day or night.”

“Chicken soup is just chicken soup, Esther.” Lily frowned. “Besides, Sarge isn’t the sort of guy who would just stick around without being invited.  He knows how to respect another person’s boundaries.”

“Does he now? Which of Lily’s boundaries has he been respecting? Hmmm?” Looking Lily over more carefully when all she did was stick her tongue out in reply, Esther’s eyes narrowed to thin slits. She considered her first impressions of the man she’d just met about an hour earlier when he’d come looking for  Anton. She thought about what Rosa had told her over the phone late last night. She watched Lily pick up Sarge’s shirt and sweater and neatly fold them.

Esther appeared to start doing the same with his coat then sent a sly look at Lily who realized instantly what her friend was thinking of doing. “No, Esther. That’s not right.”

“It’s only looking in pockets.” Esther’s thinking was swiftly moving into the highway passing lane of all is fair in love and war.

“What could we possibly find out about him from whatever junk he might carry around like kids do?”

Esther shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. I never looked in a man’s pockets before. Certainly not a fine lookin’ white man’s pockets.” Lily reached for Sarge’s coat but Esther kept it out of her reach. “He’s here with us. More precisely: in your apartment with you. You said you barely know him. I think we need to find out what we can about him.”

Still Lily shook her head. “I’d rather just talk to him. Besides–” she gestured at the coat Esther was holding at arm’s length, “—would you want someone going through your purse? Or Anton’s coat pockets?

Esther looked up at the ceiling and made a pretense of pondering Lily’s questions. “I am not an axe murderer. So I wouldn’t care. I have nothing to hide.”

“Oh Esther! If he wanted to hide something he wouldn’t hide it in his coat pockets. No one would.”

“Anton does.”

“What? How do you know? You just said you never looked in a man’s pockets before.”

Esther shrugged. “I lied.”

“I don’t believe you!”

Esther kept eye contact with Lily while she slipped one slim hand into the coat’s inside chest pocket. She slowly pulled out several pieces of paper folded up together and waved them at Lily. “Maybe we find something. Maybe we find nothing.”

Lily swallowed hard as she struggled with her curiosity and her own ideas about respecting other people’s privacy. “Okay. Just because of this weird situation. One pocket at a time. Everything has to go back in where it came from.”

“Sure thing, boss. Let’s dance this dance before the pantry crew gets back.” She handed the papers to Lily.

Within ten minutes they’d discovered in Sarge’s coat pockets a considerable amount of the junk Lily had expected to find, two slim paperback books of poetry by Anna Akhmatova, numerous old bus ticket receipts for travel to and from M-, lists of items neither of them could make any sense of, an old bar receipt for $325 from a place where Anton had recently applied for a job as a line cook, a small grey address book and travel agency receipts for what amounted to an all expenses paid trip for two to a posh resort in Jamaica. After they’d taken a fast inventory of each pocket, they returned to look at the travel receipts and address book again.

“All these travel reservations are for a Nora O’Mara.”

“That’s his mother.”

Esther had been thinking more along the lines of Nora as ‘wife’ or ‘main squeeze’ as she looked at all the travel receipts. “How do you know that?”

Lily continued paging through the little grey address book. “He told me about her shaving off his beard.”

“What? Was this like a mother cutting her child’s hair?”

Lily shook her head. “No. Well, maybe in her mind. But he didn’t want his beard shaved off. She just went at him with a straight razor and did it. His father held him down while she did her thing.”

Esther put a hand on Lily’s shoulder to get her to look at her. “When did he tell you this story?”

Lily sat back on her heels. “First in the taxi. That’s what I meant about being mean to him. I pushed his buttons and he gave in and told me. I got him to tell me more about it after we had soup. Then we went to bed.”

“You what?!” Esther stared in open-mouthed shock at her friend who never in the years she’d known her had ever previously given any indication of engaging in such foolish first date behavior.

“To sleep! Just sleep. Nothing else happened. Nothing happened last night either. Not that I’d have noticed if it did, because I was dead tired after studying.” Lily looked away from Esther and off into space towards the hallway for a few moments. “It was really nice waking up today and finding breakfast already made. Mark never did anything like that. It was really really good too. Sarge made pancakes, chorizo, fried potatoes and green tea. I ate like a pig. Literally. It was embarrassing. But you know how I am first thing in the morning with food. No classy lady points scored there.”  Lily opened the address book again. “Esther there are a lot, and I mean, A LOT of womens’ names, numbers and addresses in this book. That’s got to be a really bad sign. So many women all in one man’s address book.”

Esther lightly kicked Lily’s foot. “That man cooked you breakfast and saw how you eat in the morning?”

Lily continued paging thought the address book, pausing to read the entries of names that caught her attention. “Oh yeah. It wasn’t like he didn’t know what was coming either. I caught him watching me eat my poached eggs at the bar. He couldn’t have been expecting formal table manners from me this morning. No way. That would have been just plain nuts, totally illogical. Pancakes are just like tortillas for stuffing with fried potatoes. Instead of Rosa’s red sauce you just pour on the maple syrup sauce. I’m getting hungry again just talking about it. There’s got to be pancakes leftover. Looked like he made a double batch of them. Mmmm. I think I know what I’m going to grab for my lunch. Would you like some too, Esther?” Lily glared at a page in the book. “Why does Claire Perkins have four xs by her name? Hmm. I wonder.”

Esther moved to kneel in front of Lily. Putting her fingers on the top edge of the address book she pushed it down until she and Lily were looking at each other eye to eye. “Those are just names in a book. We got names and numbers all over these walls. What you think some stranger come in here and read these walls would know about what’s really happening here? Hmm?” Esther took the address book away from Lily and closed it with a soft plat.

Lily watched Esther slip the grey book back inside its coat pocket. “I think we should get some boxes ready for the pantry crew.”

“Me too. Let’s dance.” Esther couldn’t wait to have a long serious talk with Rosa about their mutual good friend Lily and how the snow was knocking her just enough off kilter by stirring up memories of her life prior to her arrival in the Flats that she wasn’t quite as completely in touch with the present as her very practical self generally was on most given days. Next point they’d chat about would be the effect of this on Lily in regard to the man she’d invited into her home all on her own. Then there’d be a lengthy bit of discussion of Lily’s lack of any awareness not only of the messages she was sending his way but also her lack of awareness of the ones he was sending in her direction. Esther intended to make full use of the information that this man had not only cooked breakfast for Lily but had apparently done so knowing full well that their Lily did not consume her breakfasts like a dainty little feminine flower but with all the full court press gusto of a street basketball team intent on winning any way they could in a hostile neighborhood.


Breakfast Special, #15, “What’s In a House”

Breakfast Special, tenth helping, “Snowing Deep Sleep”, #10

Snowing Deep Sleep

Saturday morning arrived with an extra fierce edge on the wind’s howling as five feet of packing snow continued falling in record time. Deep in the down warmth under Lily’s quilt in the windowless bedroom, Sarge slept harder and longer than he had in years. He remained peacefully oblivious even when, a little after two pm, Lily leaned down over him to put an ear to his chest then breathed a sigh of relief when she found his slow steady heartbeat. Reassured that he hadn’t died in his nearly motionless sleep, she carefully closed the bedroom door then returned to the main room to check Miguel’s progress with his fraction problems.

Sarge was on the very verge of waking on his own when muffled excited voices combined with something heavy falling somewhere beyond the bedroom door nudged him into a state of consciousness that prompted him to pull on his jeans, thermal top and find the bathroom. While he was putting the toothbrush through its paces the sound of running feet got him to open the bathroom door out of curiosity. Catching only sudden silence, he quickly rinsed the brush then went to investigate whatever was going on in the other room.

In what he now considered the book room he found a large metal toolbox open in the entrance keeping the door open. “Lily?” Getting no response from any other room, Sarge stepped over the toolbox and into the hallway. Immediately he saw a group of children at the end of the hall. They were gathered at the open door to what he was soon to discover was the basement. “What’s happening, guys?”

The children turned as a whole at the sound of his voice. A little girl pointed downwards and spoke so fast in Spanish that the only word Sarge recognized was the one for water. The group parted to let him through when he moved to the doorway to try to catch the sounds now coming from the basement. Suddenly a flood of cursing in English, Spanish, and a language he’d never heard before, but the tone of which conveyed clearly the nature of its meaning, erupted along with metal striking metal and splashing water. Seeing that there was light down below, Sarge descended the stairs to find out what was going on. Midway down the steps he caught sight of Lily and another much smaller woman struggling with a large wrench and a pipe joint spouting water. Seeing that their main problem at the moment was only a lack of strength, he wordlessly reached between the two women, wrapped one hand around the wrench handle above their hands and twisted the joint seal back into place. With the water stopped, Lily, the woman she breathlessly introduced as Rosa and her daughter Julianna swore in relief and patted him appreciatively on the shoulders and back.

His attention now fully engaged in the situation at hand and not at all satisfied that the problem was entirely under control, Sarge asked Julianna, still holding the primary largest flashlight to point it upwards. Understanding what he wanted to see, Lily and Rosa added their lights to the piping overhead. Sarge walked several feet further into the basement’s darker depths before taking Lily’s flashlight and scanning the wooden foundation joists between the pipes until he found one that had begun splitting apart and had gradually put enough pressure on the nearest pipe to push it out of its original position. “Lily, I’m gonna need that wrench and a lot of electrical or duct tape.”

“Okay.” Lily went to the stairs and called out to the children above. While she waited, Sarge searched the basement for something to use as a wedge. Delighted to find an assortment of metal and wooden objects with potential he went through them until he found what would serve his purpose. When Lily brought him a roll of each tape he positioned her, Julianna and Rosa so that their combined flashlights would allow him to see well enough to work on the split joist. Without speaking unless he needed a light moved, he went to work with a focused intensity such that fifteen minutes later he’d managed to deal with the split joist and its most important consequences.  Having done all he could for the time being, he followed the flashlight wielding trio back to stairs. Walking a little behind Lily, he said, “I think the foundation is settling and moving things due to all the snow and ice. That should hold things until it can be fixed properly but there probably will be more problems. Better check it regularly.”

“We do. That’s how Rosa discovered the leak today,” said Lily as they walked to the stairs.

“Has the owner been checking it?”Sarge looked back over his shoulder at the dark basement.

“Rosa is the owner. She bought the building dirt cheap for five hundred dollars at an auction a couple of years ago. Her brother Ricardo has gradually been fixing things in his free time.” Lily watched Rosa and her oldest daughter go up the stairs ahead of herself and Sarge. “It may not look like it, but they’ve done a lot of work on the place. You should have seen it when Rosa got it. The first thing we did was evict the rats. It took a ton of poison.”

In the hallway, Rosa thanked Sarge several times in English and Spanish then herded the curious group of children up the stairs to the second floor. When he returned to Lily’s apartment the window shades were open revealing that snow was still falling in earnest. Unending wind occasionally rattled one of the upper panes and he realized that the current weather conditions were much worse than last night. Lily came to stand next to him. “Heard on the radio earlier that the entire west side of Falls and most of M—is without electricity. It’s dangersouly nasty out there. But no worries here if the city power lines go down there’s a generator for the house essentials. Do you want to grab a shower before having something to eat?”

Sarge glanced at his now very dirty hands and bare feet from his efforts in the basement. “Looks like the thing to do. What time is it?”

Lily looked at her pocket watch lying on the table. “Nearly four thirty.” She watched him walk over and look down at the watch then swear softly in disbelief. “Been a while since you had some serious deep sleep?”

“Apparently.” All he could do was look at her and shrug while wondering if he’d warded off becoming ill by sleeping hard at the very onset of symptoms as he generally did. He gazed out the windows again as it dawned on him that he might not be able to make the polite exit an unexpected overnight guest ought in order to avoid overstaying his welcome. “You heard on the radio that the west side of Falls was without power?”

“That’s what I heard. And most of M–. There should be weather updates starting at quarter to the hour. Gives you time to do the Mr. Clean thing. I’ll turn the radio back on now in case there’s any news.”

Sarge nodded. “I’ll be quick.”

“What are you worried about? If you had a hot date planned for tonight I seriously doubt it’s gonna happen unless it involves snow cones and shovels.”

“Au contree, Lily.” Catching the humor in her tone Sarge decided to keep it in play. He looked her up and down and grinned.”It’s already happening. Hey, want to share the shower? You could use a little cleaning up yourself after all that pipe wrench action.”

She shook her head but laughed to show she hadn’t taken him seriously. “We don’t know each other well enough for that, Sarge. Playing wrench the pipes in the basement is one thing. Playing barking seal games in the shower, is quite another, Mister Plumber.”

“Barking seals? Now that’s a new one,” said Sarge as he back walked towards the bathroom.

“Actually it’s really old. Buttttt we’re not going there today for sure.” Lily watched him turn around shaking his head as he entered the bathroom before turning her little transistor radio on. Looking out the windows she read the nature of the wind whipping up the top layers of snow. It was already very clear to Lily that the man, who’d just bare handed wrangled with the split wooden joist in the basement, wasn’t going to be able to get very far from her apartment or Rosa’s house much less back to the freight district where he lived in the immediate future. First, she wondered what it would take for him to realize he was stuck here in the Flats until weather conditions allowed any sort of travel again. Then she wondered not only about his ability to adapt to the circumstances, but also her own. It had been a very long time since she’d shared living space with anyone. It was one thing to keep an open door policy in regard to most people she knew when they needed a place to crash-land for a night and quite another to close that door at night with another person behind it knowing they were basically stuck with each other for an indeterminate amount of time. Yet last night had felt right with him here, oddly enough she’d even been comfortable sharing her down quilt. The only cause for concern he’d given her so far was his failure to awaken until late afternoon and the deadly stillness of his sleep. She wondered where he’d gone during that long period of alter consciousness. Her intuition whispered it was important both to him and her without providing any clues as to why. Eyes focusing on the snow beyond the windows, Lily pondered the unexpected consequences of her decision to invite Sarge into her private domain until her 4:30 appointment.


Breakfast Special, eleventh helping, “Connecting” —>>


Video note: Snowflakes falling in slow motion

Uploaded on Dec 21, 2010 by Chris Kemila

Extremely large snowflakes snow flakes falling at 30% speed, filmed at 60 fps with Canon Rebel T2i EOS 550d

A cool gift~ Nebraska in December.

Nebraska in December

If you’re boiling and broiling like we are in the Kansas City Metro—and in Russia where there’s a deadly recipe of HEAT, drought, smog, fire, vodka–yes vodka plus swimming adds up to drowning–and a lack of firefighters, this is my little gift today. Imagine you’re driving along an old state highway  in Nebraska in December and the winds are so strong across the open road that you’ve got to stop to rest your hands from gripping the steering wheel hard in order to not have the car blown, literally blown, off the road. Then, not thinking about the fact that you weigh much less than your car, you decide to try to photograph the wind from outside the car. Quickly you realize that this is only possible from an upright position maintained by wedging yourself between the open car door and the main frame of the auto.  Yeah. Cooler?  If not, there’s always your freezer–or the freezer department in your local faux food frozen food aisle. Or Chopin on the rocks. Odd to think of drinking a Polish pianist. But add his Nocturnes to the iced distilled potatoes and–it’s not just Nebraska in December that’s chilly.

Agitate, Educate, and Organize ~OO~


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