All the sweeter because of the cold.

I am not familiar with the work of Craig Arnold. I am not familiar with the University of Wyoming or Japanese volcanoes.

But when I first saw the story of Arnold’s disappearance on CNN.com a week or so ago, something struck me. It was the picture that accompanied the story. His eyes are looking upward, his mouth frozen in movement, his hand near his face, caught in gesticulation. Gesticulative speakers are passionate, and passionate people are rare. From this one picture, from that one pose, I became intensely worried about him.

I’ve checked CNN every day since, looking for news. Nothing. So I searched today, and I found this story, stating he is presumed dead. The story contains a link to his blog, and coming upon his writing, so public, so present, I feel like I should be still. These are the words of a man who, very likely, will not be coming back.

Terrible things happen a million times a day, yes, so I find it hard to justify the sadness I feel for this unfamiliar, middle-aged, haiku poet.

But I feel sad all the same.

Deep in the forest of China pine

also a road of my own I took –

a road to pass the misty rain

a road to take the mountain wind.

craig arnold, 2009

Still paying off.

About a year ago, I bought this most excellent Dyson vacuum at Goodwill. At the time, this purchase was thrilling – I bought it for, like, a tenth of the retail price! I thought it was missing an attachment hose, which wasn’t a big deal. Last night, though, I sort of dropped it, the back panel popped off, and there was the attachment hose! I stared at it in disbelief for a few moments, and then I proceeded straight to the driveway. The interior of my car is black, and I have children, and I spend about $3-5 a month vacuuming out all the wee bits of crap from the floors and cushions.

I just saved myself $5. I found more reasons to love that ridiculous vacuum. I have a clean car. I am happy.

Hey, it’s the small things.

Turning Japanese.

The Japanese maple in front of my house has bloomed. Wait, do we say that about trees? There aren’t flowers on it, so maybe… leafed?

At any rate, there are leaves on it now, the big, dark, reddish kind. It’s a fairly large tree, with wide-spread branches, and it covers the windows in the kitchen and living room. I am going to totally enjoy that shade in about a month’s time, when the sun is relentless and the temperature is high. Thank you, favorite tree.

who’s the swine here?

I am sick – no pun intended – of hearing about the swine flu.

When exactly did it happen? I left Indianapolis last Thursday, very early in the morning, and everything was fine. Forty minutes later, when my plane landed in Detroit, oh my god, the panic! The sheer terror!

The media (ahem, Fox News) is, as usual, perpetuating the alarm full-throttle. With Margaret Chan from the WHO (not the Who, the other one) raising the “flu alert level” to one number away from global pandemic, everyone seems fairly justified in their fear, yes. But how is this different from avian flu, SARS, or mad cow disease? And, hello, AIDS and cancer are both still killing people left and right. Can we just slow down and prioritize a second here?

Eh, it’ll fade soon enough. As a friend said today, “We’ll either shrug our shoulders or die.”

And that’s the truth.