Thursday, August 20, 2009


In Arizona seasonal rains occurring during the summer were called by locals-monsoons. Initially I was puzzled by the term since my idea of a monsoon was a continuous pattern of rain lasting many days and nights. In Sedona, our residence for five years, rainfall could be heavy-sometimes coming down in sheets on one side of the road while the other side was bone dry. Most often the term monsoon, according to my frame of reference, was a semi-frequent heavy downpour lasting no more than an hour.

Here in southwest Wisconsin, we've had frequent rains of late. I postpone my lunch after canning fermented pickles to dig white potatoes. The gray skies foretell an impending storm. Accidentally spearing one potato, I set it aside for lunch. Julienne sliced into thin straws, fried in olive oil and smothered in fresh onions, jalapenos,cilantro and tomatoes-it is a whole meal. In one half hour while the pup catches a nap, I dig a small box of mini potatoes and a recycled cardboard box which holds four gallon plastic bottles packed full of medium, large and jumbo spuds. The jumbo spuds as pictured above weigh between 1 1/2 and 2 lbs each. Dawn says they're probably rotten inside.

I grab one huge potato on the top of the pile which is suspiciously wet. When I bring it inside after hosing off the mud, I slice it open. Potato mucous oozes from the hollow core. Choice expletives follow. Grabbing one of the ten to fifteen terry cloth rags I go through in a day, I wipe up the mess and toss the offending potato in the compost pail. Back in the garage, I select another jumbo. Same scene without the ooze. It's hollow inside and showing signs of decay. All the potatoes in the box are in jeopardy. The old "one bad apple" scenario.

Mandy is most active in the early morning. My breakfast is delayed. I'm sipping too much coffee in between running to the garage for a breakfast potato. The pup hides new rawhide chew toys I give her and chews on the chair, shoes, terry cloth towels, a cat toy and knocks over a Navajo kachina. I'm getting impatient. Soon she'll be banished from the house. The cat tolerates abuse above and beyond what I would expect from a cat. Sometimes I wish the cat would haul off and let the dog have it. "Yeah," the devil on my shoulder says. " That would last for a minute." With frequent rain, everything is dripping with moisture. Mandy slobbers over the cat. Her frequent attacks leave the Pooch spiky wet from the rain on the grass. When the puppy tries to bite the cat's tail, I let him in the back door. The cat jumps on a bench in the back hall to watch Mandy's frequent amusing( to the cat) antics.

The Pooch retaliates. Mandy and I are walking from the garden to the house. La di da. Doh- di- doh. Everything is peaceful and harmonious. Suddenly, Mandy lets out a yelp. I'm startled too. The cat streaks by at 150 mph knocking into the puppy and runs for shelter under the deck. I guffaw at his audacity.

The raccoons came back last night. the ground is littered with chewed corn cobs, their leaves pulled back. I'd set the live trap, baited with two insect riddled ears, but the old trap is cranky. The raccoon reaches into the trap without tripping the plate at the rear. The coon is able to get one more ear of corn. Tonight I'll have to spray some WD-40 on the mechanism making the trip function more sensitive.

I'm pressed for time today, since the Amish are babysitting Mandy while we drive to the big city for supplies. I drive up their lane yesterday with a gallon of ice cream as payment for sitting with the dog. I appreciate their generosity since Mandy Jr still harass her mother for milk. I make a note to myself to get the pup's birth date for our records and flea and tick protection. In the kitchen sink I put sliced potatoes in cold water in preparation for blanching and freezing. The box of Kenebec white potatoes will have to be sorted. Larger suspect potatoes will be sliced and diced for the freezer. The remainder when dry and brushed free of clumps of dirt will go in our 68 degree basement.

After that, I have a plastic tub of tomatoes awaiting a stainless steel pot and a slow simmer for sauce. It seems like I've been walking up a long hill carrying fifty pound pack on my back. The cat groans on the floor next to me in the office. I echo his feelings. Once we're at the top of the hill the view will be magnificent.

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