Friday, May 22, 2009


The local library specializes in mystery, suspense and thrillers. Many are detective stories. I sort through the good, bad and terrible. They all have several things in common: A main plot, a side romance, a fallen hero, lots of investigative filler and, if they're a New York Times bestseller, they will have multiple side plots and a Deja Vu or a flashback.

This is the Kickapoo Center version with little or no descriptive element. I'm on top of farming for now, but I'm behind in other areas. Some of my days start at five in the morning and end at seven in the evening. I've left dinner prep to Dawn.

The local dairy farmer is busy planting corn in the fields around us. An endless stream of farm machinery runs down our dead end farm lane. He hires the co-op in Westby and other ne'er do wells to perform specialized tasks like spreading chemicals or spraying for weeds. He's a agri-businessman with little environmental concern. Short term money goals are prominent in his decision making. At 8:45 a few evenings ago Dawn and I head outside to confront a pickup with two men speeding down the lane. "What's your name," Dawn asks brusquely. I repeat the license plate number. After hearing a lame excuse about checking the fields that have been planted, I add, "bull!@#" and call the sheriff. Forty five minutes later the sheriff shows up. He fourteen going on fifteen. He takes down all our concern about safety, residential area, late night trips with two kids looking for anything not tied down and offers little help other than going to talk to the farmer who hires these yahoos. Both here and in Arizona our property taxes are thousands lower than our suburban Milwaukee home. Here we have few services and a sheriff that could star in Green Acres. I keep a baseball bat near the garage door for "self protection." If necessary I'll protect myself by smashing headlights of late night truck runners. At the next town meeting we'll petition for a warning sign and speed ordinance. Should be fun.

The Pooch disappears. He scoffs at the raw catfish breakfast and strolls outside. He sits on the woodpile collecting a new batch of wood ticks and watching for mice. I hope he is smart enough to avoid the snakes. When I start up the rototiller in the lawn shed, he runs for cover. He's gone for ten hours. I walk to the neighbors and ask if they've seen him. The short answer is no. One of their smaller two year old horses comes to the fence and looks at me with big, gooey eyes. I rub its nose. Maybe we need a horse. Dawn says, "I know zip about horses." The Pooch shows up as I walk to the garage to toss cans in the recycling containers. Thirty mile an hour winds blow the garbage cans across the lawn. The Pooch is cat-chalant. I pick him up and toss him inside. He avoids me the rest of the night. We're both ticked off.

I spend $75 for new garden hose and a fancy metal sprinkler. The old hoses are stretched across the road to the front field. I don't worry about leaving them as farm machinery repeatedly runs across the rubber hose. For dinner we have baby spinach in a mixed greens salad. In a restaurant this would be one of the $9.00 salads with the thousand dollar name. It takes the sting out of spending money on farm equipment. The next night we have cooked spinach and I find two perfect little radishes growing in the potatoes. A small gift from over the winter. The peas are climbing the trellis I made when I sowed two kinds of edible podded peas. I congratulate them for their smartness. The cukes are emerging. I hope they see the fancy climbing trellis I made for them. Even the peppers which took a hit from high winds and cold are sending up new leaves. I ask the cabbages to give them a high five.

The hummingbirds are fighting over control of the feeder. I add a second to disperse their anger. I may have to add a third. Robins are dooking it out on the lawn and blackbirds are mating in the trees. Unusual bird songs ring out in the backyard. An oriole is attracted to the nectar feeder. I buy oranges but don't have any grape jam. The geese pass noisily overhead in pairs or small V's. Sandhill cranes croak down at the river bottoms. Small sparrows chase each other in a whirly-twirly fashion. Yellow throats call "witchty-witchity- witichy" from bushes. Every time I mow, I find another hawk feather I choose to think of as a special gift.

Dawn's father has a heart attack( he's 87) and blocked arteries. She spends all day Tuesday with him in the hospital trying to keep him from pulling out his I.V.'s. At night the nurses wake the both of them up frequently. Shift changes and blood pressure readings are the reason. FOL (fear of lawsuit) is the other. She leaves right after he goes into surgery on Tuesday afternoon. He's discharged on Thursday. I'm happy because more people die in hospitals from infectious disease and in our area, raw, untrained personnel. Dawn tells me of some people that she comes in contact with. Medical and caring services use a 24 hour military clock to track time so there is no mistaking am or pm. Some of the staff cannot decode 1500 hours. Sad.

This weekend there's an Amish quilt auction. It starts at 7:00 am with a pancake breakfast. We're going there to learn. I wish I had more money. I've seen some of the quilts that Titus' family makes. Behind the old house Titus' wife is talking with a man standing by a charcoal grill-the big industrial kind made from a barrel. There are chairs stacked on the porch of the new house. A rusty wheelbarrow planted with flowers looks like an auction item delivered early. Titus has been scarce of late.

Side romance? Number one son's former girlfriend is stalking him. He plans a pub crawl for his birthday. Number two son is coming up for my birthday. Not wanting to crawl through farmers bars in town, I plan a dinner at Piggy's restaurant. Dawn says it's closed that day. We may have to settle for Buzzard Billy's " Flying Carp Inn".

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