Monday, March 9, 2009

The Night Series: My Next-Door Neighbor's Wife's Windchimes

(I keep promising to begin my "Scraps of Literacy" series, and I must promise once again in order to afford a further delay. Reviews for Screen It, though they pay, suck any desire for writing out of me. I usually need about a day or so to recover from those. Now, you might ask, why would I say that when clearly, I'm writing here, and on another topic? Well, this new series came to me because I love everything the night offers me, provided there aren't coyotes too nearby or wildfires. A calm night like the one outside right now can get me extolling at length all that there at night that shapes my personal landscape. Those "Scraps of Literacy" will come soon, and this time, I promise with an intent to deliver the next time you see "Scraps of Literacy" in an entry)

My next-door neighbor's wife has a set of windchimes hanging from the wooden covering on her patio roof. It's the standard roof for all of the developments here, except she and her husband have their covering. This property, and the one across from us with the sidewalk to the pool and walls separating us, does not. Imagine it as a half-finished wood shop project with white-painted beams and rafters, but not all the rafters put into place, and none of the covering. Apparently, it was a decision by the home owners' association, though it stretches back farther than we've been here. This is what we've lived with, and it's fine, since I don't care much about this place. That's not to say I don't like it. I live here, there's a ceiling over me and a roof above that, and that's fine. But there's no feeling of a connection, and as expected from me, that's suitable for another entry. I have to update that list.

The windchimes are seen thusly: The longest rod is on the left, a shorter one is in the middle, and the shortest is on the right. I've no idea if there are anymore behind those. I don't know anything about windchimes beyond the nerve-wracking sounds they make (only nerve-wracking here, and that reason's coming), but I'm assuming that from my vantage point, the ball or disc that drags across the windchimes to make the sound rests in the middle. I don't know. I'm not going to get closer to my neighbor's patio than where I go on my own patio to walk my dogs (training for Las Vegas piddles, since the gravel on our patio is a fair approximation of the landscape there).

I hate her windchimes. When I'm in my bed and I hear them, I want to pull the covers further over me and try to sleep until the wind finally calms down. I'm not a native, and I can't handle those gusty winds. I've lived through five wildfire seasons. The first one saw ash raining down when we were living in an apartment in Valencia. In October of 2007, we were evacuated for thankfully only most of the day when there was concern that the Buckweed fire (started by a kid with matches) might reach us. It didn't, but it's not an ideal area to evacuate from, considering that there's only one road to use to exit, and many other developments within this area. I had never been so truly scared in my life, not even during hurricanes in Florida. But we got lucky in all the years we lived there because only the feeder bands of all of the storms struck us. Obviously, hurricanes have been more dangerous since we left, and there are other reasons I probably wouldn't move back to Florida (my home state, and I miss many parts of it), but I never felt this kind of fear.

Then there was last November, seeing fire on mountains and thick smoke in the sky. I didn't know how close these mountains were and from where I was standing on my patio, they looked like they might have been close enough. But the next day, my parents and I went out and we saw that these fires were on the mountains in Canyon Country. That far away, yet distance is relative in this valley. You can never be sure because of skewed vantage points like the one from my patio.

Each time, there were the Santa Ana winds, blowing and blowing, and making my neighbor's wife's windchimes sound louder and more determined, as if they had decided to suddenly play a symphony right there. I've always felt extremely uneasy whenever these winds are around. My stomach decides to grow a monster during that time, and I'm always hoping that nothing horrid happens, but always worried whenever I see on the news that something has flared up elsewhere. I wish that she'd get rid of those windchimes, but unfortunately, they also serve as a barometer as to how bad the winds are. It's the most complex relationship between a man and windchimes.

I want to move to Las Vegas already, and this is one of the reasons. Vegas is flat land and when the winds blow there, there's not as much to worry about. Plus, I'd be looking at mountains, not living in them. That's the other worry about living here when the Santa Anas are around. Vegas presents its own set of worries, I'm sure, but since I have no attachments to this valley, sentimental or otherwise, I'll be happy when it comes time to move. Particularly since I feel like Vegas is my home. It's everything I've wanted from humanity, that ability to relax without being so uptight about whether something is "morally right." It's hedonism in the desert. Unfortunately, it's not impervious to the shaky economy, but education is still needed there and that's where my dad comes in. I just hope they start hiring soon.