Friday, May 29, 2009

Skydiving From Grace

note:

Usually I e-mail my friend Ella separately. She'll send me back an excerpt of her life with two daughters, one a freshman in college and the other still in high school . Her business consultant husband keeps me updated frequently with a newsletter about focus and business philosophy. He's in high demand as a speaker because of his unique point of view as a businessman and visually impaired person. He skis, drives a stock car and has my admiration for safely operating a chain saw despite his blindness. Both were dead set against the Iraq war from the beginning. Rather than sit on their cans complaining like most of us, they stood at busy intersections in the city with signage indicating their displeasure at Dubya's Folly. They put their beliefs in action frequently traveling to Central America in a church program assisting a sister church in Guatemala. The daughters take time from their lives earning money for school by working in Appalachia and various other US based initiatives for the poor. Today's rain will give way to sun. I'll not have time for more than this post.


Dear Ella,
Dawn brings home old magazines from the retirement home. I'll grab one and, out of habit, thumb through from back to front. Reading backward poses a few problems. The National Geographic I thumbed through this morning has an article about sunken treasure. I marvel at small pottery bowls , urns and elaborate figurines. It isn't until I reach the beginning that I learn the ship is Chinese, constructed entirely without nails and approximately 1200 years old. The point being that when I post excerpts from life in Kickapoo Center at the turn of the century, I'm thumbing through experiences that happened hours, days or weeks ago.


I set up my new Little Chief smoker in the open area between the house and garage. I shoot two digital pictures of it in action to e-mail the kids who gifted me the smoker. The larger format picture shows smoke billowing from the shiny aluminum body. The jpeg I send to my son-in-law has a few wisps escaping the box. I'm sure both are on high speed Internet, unlike me, but I'm eager to smoke ribs and a loin roast to share with my Amish friends. At the end of the summer Titus and I will build a large concrete block smokehouse to accommodate hams and bacon. My Little Chief is great for smaller cuts.

The smoker comes with alder chips. I've never heard of using alder for smoking meat. I decide to go to Viroqua for mesquite and hickory chips, some rosemary and to deliver the pork to the Amish. It costs $2.58 for less than an ounce of rosemary leaves in a tin can. In Arizona the house was surrounded by rosemary. Besides functioning as a barrier against witches( a Middle Ages concept) it furnished culinary herb and made the area around the house fragrant. The trip to the city takes two hours since I run into numerous friends and acquaintances while shopping.

I putter in the afternoon. Four, 80 foot rows of onions are filled with weeds in areas I can't rototill. Dawn hand weeds for hours on Saturday while I weed in segments to forestall an aching back. The ribs I smoked for dinner are in a slow cooker on the kitchen counter. Besides sprinkling them with rosemary I add a single onion across the top-really a scallion- that I'd mistakenly pulled while weeding. When Dawn gets home from work, it's time to take a break. She gets the mail and walks to the front field. "Pooch, mama is home," I yell out. He comes out of a hiding place to greet Dawn. The three of us discuss the day's events. The Pooch is quiet.

Suddenly, the Pooch streaks out of the grass between the spinach and herb gardens. We're startled by his quick flight. There's shrieking and squawking. An image comes to mind of the chicken at the organic apple orchard on Turkey Ridge that was attacked by a hawk as Dawn and I survey the rural countryside. Then, robins and, amazingly, blackbirds appear out of nowhere. It a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Squawking, shrieking birds dive bomb the Pooch as he scampers away with something in his mouth. For a cat that is skittish at the least sound, a pen dropping on the kitchen floor, the backfire of a truck, he ambles away as if there is nothing amiss. We are too surprised to do anything but stare at the unfolding drama.

Later, I deduce that the robins were taking a youngster out for a pre-flight check off. The mother has a nest in the pine tree near the garage. She spends her days clucking like a broody hen. The Pooch seizes an opportunity. He acts upon instinct and we are unable to thwart his behavior. Scolding him or worse, keeping him penned in during the day would be pointless. I don't have any sympathy for the field mice he catches, however, both Dawn and I are saddened by the robin's loss.

I go back to weeding onions while Dawn picks spinach for dinner.

Keep in touch.

R______________

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