Rendered Fat Content


Behzād: Yusuf and Zulaikha [Joseph chased by Potiphar's wife] (1488)
A Persian Miniature- A LittleThing
"The lovely Beaux Arts theater stands empty but still as beautiful as it ever was."

No Colossus of Rhodes guards our harbor. Heck, we don't even have a harbor. At night, the first evidence that you're approaching a small city tends to be the lights glaring up from the penitentiary, which produce a false sunrise on the eastern horizon all night long. During daylight, a vast debris field of derelict train cars surrounds two long-abandoned grain elevators. A single tall-ish tower of a building looks out of place beside blocks of much shorter structures, some dating back much more than a hundred years, but many evidence that the fifties and sixties passed through here and set down roots. A few motels flank the few exits from our short miles of four lane designed to route traffic around rather than into here. The welcome seems less hostile than indifferent. Few cues immediately suggest that this place is different from any other dusty western city. The differences lie deeper, within LittleThings.

A local college whose sports teams were until recently called The Missionaries maintains the obligatory Gothic architecture section of town.
The main street, which is actually called Main Street, these days features more cute crap shoppes than productive businesses, though this was not always the case. An impressive bank building stands on a corner. Macy's abandoned us last year, closing their single most successful by sales revenue per square foot store in their shrinking empire. On first pass, this place might appear charming. Drive out into the surrounding neighborhoods and you'll find a few impressive houses left behind by the city fathers and their commercial cousins. Our house was built by a then-serving county commissioner and his sons in 1907. This town boomed by supplying Idaho panhandle silver miners before the turn of the last century, slowly slipping downward since. The folks who stayed here were never speculators, but those who stayed behind to read the letters sent by those who left. We still export more offspring than any other product.

It's possible that the person in front of you will hold up the checkout line by insisting upon writing a check for their purchases. I know, the rest of the world exclusively uses plastic, but the oldest patterns seem the hardest to break, and plastic came here rather late and struggled to catch on. The town once seemed about half populated by aging widows, though the wine business has attracted many young families. People seem preternaturally friendly. Other than the usual batch of belligerents driving pickups, others are likely to defer to you at a four way stop, regardless of what the rules might otherwise insist. A certain deference prevails. Few seem in any particular hurry to get anywhere, perhaps because there's little anywhere else in this place. No need to rush if you're only going to the farthest reaches of town, eight minutes away at most from any other point. Most people arrive early and patiently wait. Hell, you could walk and still not arrive that much later.

Residential streets seem torn to Hell, a natural consequence of an unusually shallow water table and a network of cable car trams whose tracks were never removed but just paved over. The city says it will take more than twenty years of concerted effort to even start to catch up with long-deferred maintenance. We were once hospitable, back when the West end of Main was lined with brothels and bars, and surrounding farms hired armies of workers in season, back before a single machine could do the work of twenty men. The canneries went the way of progress, I guess, leaving hulks which were eventually torn down after standing hollow for a few decades. We now repurpose. An old electric power station has become a beautiful theater. A lovely Beaux Arts theater on Main stands empty but still as beautiful as it ever was. I swear some alleyways seem like they're located in some big city proper, though turning the next corner reveals a small city, not nearly as threatening.

My neighbor Larry, whom I long ago took to calling John though he never corrected me, I now call Larry. He and his wife Cindy, whom he always refers to as "my wife" and not by her name, celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary tomorrow. Their ten kids and twenty-five grands, not to mention their several great-grands will doubtless stop by, as they tend to every Sunday, for a family dinner. Larry brought me a dozen eggs from his chickens who greet each dawn with exuberance. He invited me to just come over and ask when I need more. He has plenty. Jim, whose wife Rhonda passed a few years back, has apparently abandoned his place across the street from us. They used to sit on the front porch and drink beer and get into loud arguments and take decent care of their yard, but Jim got saved, took up with another woman, and moved into her place, leaving the home he claims he cannot bear to live in anymore to dandelions and decay. Larry and I who, between us maintain almost dandelion-free zones, struggle to contain our disgust at Jim abandoning us.


Friday showed up right on time again after a week largely populated with LittleThings. We're seriously SettlingInto now, and individual days seem to be losing their earlier distinctions. We have still not hooked up the television, which has helped keep this place relatively timeless, but with The Muse working twelve hour days, we're lucky to sit down to supper by nine and I'm in bed by nine thirty, exhausted by whatever effort I'd expended that day. The usual amusements seem irrelevant here due to the proliferation of LittleThings.

I began my writing week
Eatin'Grass, wrestling with immature technology. "I was primitive in my approach, not up standing with a cord stringing back toward my porch, but I almost remember feeling as if I was my own person then, ignorant of who I might become from the simple application of an immature technology, like when I used to write using pen and paper and post the result in an envelope with a stamp on it. Ah, progress!"

In my most popular posting this week, I waxed rhapsodic about the experience of
Reclamating this old and familiar though partly renovated house. "We'll be juggling memory and possibility until they carry us out of here feet first."

This story tied for most viewed posting, wherein I recounted repopulating our basement larder in
FortuneTelling. "About half of the typical larder gets sorted into Miscellaneous."

I described one of the abiding LittleThings distinguishing our lives here from our lives lived anywhere else in
SoapOperaing. "Returning, though, we're immediately cast into more active roles in the ongoing passion play."

I realized that even I am sometimes cast into the role of pariah, though I bemoan the sorry state of the
Pariahing arts as presently practiced. " … this incessant practice of "making everyone uncomfortable" tends to make others uncomfortable …"

I complain about the broad proliferation of
MistInformation, the fog surrounding way to many stories it seems, in what amounts to my obligatory political screed of the week. "We take much far too seriously and dismiss some stuff as merely irrelevant to us when it isn't. We're headstrong as only the truly deluded must always become. Our truths seem no more self evident than they were ever the truth."

I ended this writing week with no LittleThing, but with the growing realization that The Muse and I might just be living a dream
ComingTrue. I'm struggling to accept it as real. "Few experiences seem so damning as a decent blessing."

As I finish this story, a small child entertains himself down the street stomping on a parking strip overloaded with dandelions gone to seed, what my dearly departed daughter Heidi used to refer to as dreams set to come true. She'd blow on one while making a wish and swore that this technique always worked. I felt skeptical but always wanted to believe with her fervor. It seemed like such a LittleThing then but now seems much bigger and more significant. I'm still making wishes though I'm not very much better at accepting their manifestations. I know it's a LittleThing, but thank you so much for watching!

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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