the love life of joel hoagland (page 32)

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I can’t.”

“Why not?” I asked, switching the phone to my other ear with shaking hands.

“Because I hate folk music.”

“Oh really?”


“Is that a fact?”

“It is indeed.”

“Well,” I huffed, “it just so happens that I hate…help me out here, I need a retort. What do I hate?”

“Good music?” she offered.

“I hate good music!”

“In all it’s forms,” she added.

Especially in all its forms,” I rejoined.

“What time does it start?” she asked.

“How would I know? It’s starting all the time. But I don’t pay any attention, because I just hate it.”

“No, silly, the concert.”

“Eight pm. Why, are you planning a protest?”

“If it’s bad enough, yes. Pick me up at seven.”

“Good idea.”

“That remains to be seen.”

[It never happens this way. The only truth in this story is the part about the shaking hands. But this is the conversation I woulda, coulda, shoulda had, or hope I someday will have.]

the love life of joel hoagland (page 16)

“How would you describe…her?” she pointed with her uptilted nose across the leaf-strewn grass at a young woman in an oversized green sweater.



“Well, no. I’m saving that word.”

You’re saving it? Well. Chivalry is not dead.”

“It’s a good word, and I might want to use it later.”

“Oh? And for what might you want to use it?”

I turned to look at her, and saw the crinkles around her laughing eyes, and knew that this was serious. “Suppose that sometime I wanted to call you sensuous,” I began. “Would you really want to be thinking of her, in her manufactured Land’s End innocence at the very moment when I’m trying to call you sensuous?”

“Well, that’s inevitable now, isn’t it?”

“I hope, if you remember her, you’ll remember her in contrast and not in comparison.”

“What’s wrong with her?”

“Nothing at all. She has a kind of perfection to us from this distance, and in her anonymity, but that perfection could never be sensuousness.”

“And why not?”

“Because sensuality does not exist without potential. For a man to find a woman sensuous he must imagine the possibility of intimacy with her.”

“And you can’t imagine being intimate with Miss Land’s End?”

“I wouldn’t say ‘can’t.’ But I certainly don’t.”

“Because you’re preoccupied with me.”

“No. Not necessarily. I mean, perhaps not. I don’t think so.”

“Your confidence inspires me.”

“Yes, well, this is my minefield gait. Rather stilted, I admit. What I mean is that there is nothing about this green-sleeved autumn sprite that bewitches me. Yes, you’re here, and you’re always a distraction,” I gave her a glance of mock-irritation, “but I’m not convinced that were you absent or even unknown to me that she” –I nodded across the lawn– “would somehow become captivating.”

“So I’m captivating. How so?”

“Your confidence inspires me.” I paused for several seconds waiting for the punchline to be acknowledged, but she looked at me, disconcerted.

“My confidence?”

I laughed out loud, embarrassed. “No, sorry, it was a joke…Ok, it’s like…when I first saw you, I became quiet.”

“Tell me about it. I thought you’d never come over and talk to me.”

“Very funny. I mean before that. When I first saw you, I felt completely and utterly content to watch you.”

“What was I doing?”

“Folding napkins.”

“You fell in love with me while I was folding napkins?”

I looked at her for a second, to let her know I wasn’t teasing her, and then said, “Yes. Quite so.”

“Why on earth?”

“Indeed, I’ve often pondered that question. It was in the silence of your hands. They were swift yet unhurried; confident but subtle and deft. Also it was in your concentration. You seemed utterly unaware of the rest of the world, as if you were alone in the room with nothing to do all day but fold napkins.”

She was silent for a moment, looking out across the park at the orange and gold maple trees that lined the bike path. “So that was sensuous?”

“I wouldn’t say so, no. But you captivated me at that moment in such a way that eventually, inevitably, I saw you as sensuous.”

She was quiet again for a moment. “So eventually you saw me as beautiful.”

I looked over at her sharply. “Now we’re talking about beauty?”

“You said ‘eventually‘,” she accused.

“Sensuality and beauty are two different things.”

She looked at me skeptically, but I was delighted to see a hint of humor in her eyes again.

“Mountains are beautiful, but not sensuous. Ditto for diamonds, waterfalls and macaws. Crum, if you want talk about beauty, sweater girl there is certainly beautiful. My point is that when I first saw you, you were beautiful, but not merely beautiful. And that, for me, is the very zygote of sensuality.”

“Interesting choice of words: ‘zygote of sensuality’.”

“Well I couldn’t very well say ‘the seed of sensuality,’ could I?”

“How about zeitgeist?”

I winced slightly and shook my head. “The soul of sensuality. See, that just doesn’t work either.”

“Sole of sensuality,” she repeated. “It sounds like you stepped in something.”

“I think it’s obvious that I did.”

She punched me in the arm. Then she put her head on my shoulder.

“The gestalt of sensuality,” she said conclusively. I wished I’d thought of it first.

“I do believed you’ve singlehandedly saved that word.”

“Good,” she replied. “You can use it later.”

the ice storm, part 4

'Oh, cool!'  It was actually quite cold.
It was so easy to take pictures that day. I’d just raise the camera, and the frozen world would mug for me. I spent no time composing this shot. I just looked through the view finder, said, “oh, cool!” and pushed the button.
This photo is currently my desktop
The needles of this pine tree look more like glass pinecones. Wasn’t there a song called “Land of the Glass Pinecones?” Somebody help me out.
Bob Dylan sang a song about 'cold irons bound' or something like that.  Help me out.
We took to referring to this construct as the “Ice Cage.”

the ice storm, part 3

Are you getting icestorm fatique?
Although almost everything above ground level had ice on it (including each individual blade of grass), the roads, while constantly wet, never did freeze. I generally find asphalt driveways to be utilitarian and unremarkable, but there is something evocative about this shot. Perhaps it is the reflection of the trees.
Hang in there, only 9 more icestorm photos to go!
One of the fields near my friends’ house.
There is something about ice on maple leaves that just says 'Canada.'
Notice the curved icicles. This happened because as the branch gradually bends beneath the increasing weight of the ice, the orientation of the icicles changed. I saw some icicles which pointed straight up, and then curved around to point back down.

the ice storm, part 2

One of the light bulbs won't light on one side.
I think this is a cedar, and normally stands tall and straight. The ice has caused it to spread into a vaguely Seussian Christmas tree shape.
This storm's bark is worse than its bite.
This is possibly my favorite photo of the ice storm. It captures in stark and gleaming fractals the essential elements of tree, ice and leaden sky.
It's all just so poetic...Sheesh, Joel.
I thought these were cherries, but I am told by the owner that this is a crab apple tree. The apples didn’t fall last autumn, and now they are encased like prehistoric flies in lead-crystal amber.

the ice storm, part 1

Ice park.  I spark.  Aisp Ark.
My friends’ parklike lawn is eerily transformed.

Putting aside my worries about frozen pipes or frozen cats at my house, I accepted the invitation of some friends of mine to weather the ice storm at their lovely generator-powered home. On Thursday morning (January 6th), I donned my hat and coat, picked up my trusty $78 dollar two megapixel Finepix digital camera, and took a stroll through a wonderland of sculptured ice.

Say 'ice grass' five times fast and mean it.
These reeds made an interesting pattern.

Nature needs no chainsaw, but she might as well have one. Observing this storm was oddly bittersweet, for the temporary beauty of the ice left behind permanent scars. I assumed, at first, that perhaps this was nature’s way of cleaning up the weaker branches and trees, that only the stronger trees would remain. After looking at many trees, however, I concluded this natural selection was not necessarily to the benifit of the fittest. Some kinds of trees are flexible. Some are less so. But even two equally healthy trees of the same variety could suffer different fates. Some trees with widely spreading branches somehow did not break, while others with shorter branches that reached heavenward were ripped down.

This tree reminded me of the movie 'The Natural' for some reason.
This tree is one of several I saw which were utterly destroyed by the ice. This tree was about 50 feet tall before it was splintered clear down to the roots, below the level of the topsoil.

It was chaos. Some branches just happened to have a barely too unlucky angle of inclination, or a few too many twigs, or an otherwise inconsequential and invisible flaw deep within the wood. Whatever the reasons, on this morning all the trees were separated into survivors and firewood.

I have 14 other photos of the ice storm which I’ll be posting over the next few days.

some say in ice

Cold, wet.
All of nature, and all the works of man are clad in ice.

We lost power. The lights flickered a few times, came back on, and then a half a minute later, everything went dark for good. My son and I played a quick couple of rounds of pictionary, and then I started to realize just how dark it was going to get tonight. And how cold.

I found that while each blade of grass was covered in glassy ice, the roads were not. So we piled into the car and went to Wal-Mart to buy candles, flashlights, and snack food. While driving around town, we saw to our dismay that the power outages were spotty, but plentiful. I figure this means our power will be out for a while.

We decided one good hot meal would be our first order of business, so we headed downtown to the Blue Bottle coffee shop, and found, to our delight, that they had power, and they were open. We had chili, tomato soup, and grilled chicken pita sandwiches. And coffee. And hot chocolate. And a cookie. And a Morning Glory muffin. And wireless internet access. Ahhhhh, that’s nice. Nothing like access to the ‘net during an ice storm to make you feel cozy.

Stay warm folks. Stay dry, and stay safe. Even if you can’t stay online.