Sunday, May 29, 2011


Tycoon: from taikun foreigners title for the shogun of Japan.  If you're like me, you are wondering what's a shogun, other than the title of a James Clavell novel.

Shogun: hereditary commander and chief of the Japanese army.

So there! Today's word play.

I like the way the sound of these titles roll off one's tongue.  More importantly, I need a title, being the "big cheese" here in Kickapoo Center.  I'm really puffed up about my gardens.  Every thing's coming along nicely. Fool that I am, I imagine ways to get a long-view digital shot of the front field other than hanging out the north window of the second floor.

I abandon the thought after deciding dragging the 40 foot ladder out to the silver maple and climbing to the top for the big picture is way too much work.  There are better things to do with my time.  I've finally learned that the best time to weed is when I see the invading plants. 

There are four onion plots. The first doesn't need my attention thanks to the Amish patriarch who suggested sowing my organic composted poultry manure in the furrow with the bulbs.  Wiped out 50% of the smaller set onions.  I replanted, so there's a ton of newbies.  The second plot-an eighty foot row-is one half weeded.  Yesterday I applied my new strategy and weeded before going on to plant tomatoes that were crowding out the peppers in a cold frame.  Part of the strategy is to give my aching back time to recover after bending over for the length of time it takes to weed one row of eighty feet by hand.  (If you're wondering, I mechanically cultivate the rows first with my tiller before attacking the invaders in between the new onions).

When I let the kids out at 6 am, I stood near the corn patch contemplating "my pretty".  Zowie, the corn has emerged. New shoots are just beginning to show after sowing two seeds/per every four inches.  I planted on May 18th.  Eleven days to emerge isn't bad considering we had the threat of frost and 35 degrees on the 26th.  I can't figure out why two rows of spuds I purchased at the agri-center to cover my bets on a better than good harvest aren't up.  I asked Dawn to pick up another 16 pounds of seed potatoes after I figure that four rows is better than two.  Unlike my taste for big, hunking seed tubers, she picks medium to small seed potatoes which sprouted before the ones I planted previously. Oh, well.

This year we'll have celery, a first for Black Crow Farm. Celery likes acidic soil conditions.  With just over 9,000 sq.ft and fourteen separate plots, I don't have time to create an acid loving plant garden.  Flash of inspiration hits and I slip eight plants in behind the short onion garden ( the onions aren't short, just the garden).  Mandy chases me on the riding mower as I pull the cart to the scotch pine forest at the west end of the property and fill the utility cart with pine needles, both rotted and fresh.  After mulching the new celery plants with pine needles, I covered the plot with white plastic fertilizer bags the not so environmentally friendly farm supply depot uses for Natur-all. To weigh the plastic mulch down in our tornado zone, I cover with garden loam, leaving one plant unmulched with pine needles as the control factor in my ongoing experiment in organic farming.  If it works, you'll be the first person I call for a Bloody Mary with a tall stalk of organically raised celery. Make sure I have only one Bloody Mary, cause the last time it took me two days to find where I parked my pick up truck.

If I continue, it'll turn into a drag and brag session which isn't the impression I want to leave.  At the end of the day, I melt into my recliner. Dawn wants to go out for Chinese food 22 miles away and I decline out of exhaustion. I have no energy to change my white long sleeved Tee with the iron-on photo of Mandy as a pup, mud covered khaki cargo shorts, Red Wing boots and black socks( not quite as bad as sandals and black socks but "nigh on" as tacky).

The dog gets these things in the corner of her eyes we call sleepies.  This morning I dig out dirt and sleepies from the corners of my eyes.  Yeah, it's an obsession.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Minor Amusements

Located between two villages approximately 6 miles apart, I  choose to turn left off our lane for the KwikStop.  The parking lot is spacious with off-site parking for semi-trailers.  Inside they have a walk-in cooler and more importantly, a soda machine.  The 32 ounce cup costs me under a buck if I steal pennies from the discard tray next to the register.  Pasted on the cash register is a sign apologizing to would be thieves:

"We're sorry, but we no longer carry large amounts of cash."

Being a country store with loathsome security measures, employees frequently go behind the register during business hours to open an imposing looking safe for rolls of change and wads of bills. As a former store-keep, I notice things like that.  Would-be thieves of the variety that are smarter than ones who steal the police car for their getaway vehicle, would also notice the safe.  They'd also see the small cubicle in the back of the convenience store with a plexi-glass enclosure around the manager's desk, another cash cow. Then, they post pictures copied from the video surveillance camera of drive-aways.  It's a small town.  They probably know when I forget to wear me knickers.

The furry kid and I rush off for the library in the other direction.  My book, Death of a Bore, is due today.  The library closes for lunch between 12:30 and 1 pm.  I've 16 minutes to drive the two miles past Kettner's Cabins advertising, "camping, hiking, fishing, biking, canoeing", past the high school with manicured grounds and a natural prairie complete with Indian Tee-Pee. I turn right on the highway into the village where I check the used cars parked in the field on the Horse and Colt show-grounds next to Jerry's Repair Service.   Once there were three grocery stores in town.  Now, there's a food co-op that's never open with bay leaves in the flour bins to ward off bugs, an electrician's headquarters in what looks like an appliance store with windows loaded with antlers, a cafe that's up for sale, the post office and Indigo Thrift Store side by side and  another convenience store.  I visit this one in emergencies because there's only room for two lanes of cars getting gas.  If you pull up too far, you'll be in the street.

On the way to the library I notice the chain link fence gate to the cemetery is open. The cemetery for Kickapoo Center is one place folks a century and half ago put big thought into the location.  It's on a rise,overlooking a pasture that doubles as a wide expanse of flood plain.  I imagine the thought of a loved one's casket floating down the river like our woodpile is more obnoxious than having a house, post office, store or church destroyed.

At the library I have enough time to check out Willa Cather's, O Pioneers ( life in Nebraska) and Deborah Digge's, Fugitive Spring, a memoir of living in Missouri in the 1950's and 1960's before the librarian turns off the open sign and locks the door. On the way back I park next to the open gate and walk into the cemetery. 

On TV, they'd have a commercial break here. 

Mooch ( a new nickname) the cat comes in and brushes against my leg.  He's sopping wet.  I propped the back door open so the kids can come and go without bothering me.  It kinda cold out. 48 degrees cold. The heat's on. My pointy finger is numb( the one with carpal tunnel) as I pound the keyboard. Wet fur isn't pleasant, unlike the lyrics to one of Marge Piercy's erotic poems. Both animals enjoy the attention of being toweled-off with a dry, clean terry towel.  The cat decides the weather's turned to shit and stretches out on the back of the couch. Mandy long ago decided for warm and fuzzy with a breakfast of leftover cast iron fried potatoes with ham and cheese loaf.  The goof eats all the ham and scatters the potatoes on the floor.  It's OK because the food bank potatoes with the label proudly proclaiming the profits go to children's hospitals taste like cardboard compared to my Kennebecs.

So, I'm in the graveyard.  Smack dab in the center is a huge pine tree.  I'd call it a loboly pine although I think they grow south of here away from the Arctic Circle.  Thing is, the pine has to be the first tree planted in the graveyard.  It has huge, really large arms hovering over the grave below.  Like a giant MOM protecting her babies. Many of the grave markers are simple tablets, leaning or flat on the ground.  The inscriptions are illegible.  The older obelisk-like small monuments are covered with mustard colored lichen. They too are unreadable.  In the far back of the cemetery I find Robert Wilson's grave stone.  Born 1802,died 1880.  I trace the letters like a blind person reading braille to make sure it's him. I offer him a silent greeting since I'm the only resident, besides Dawn, who's carried on recognition of the forgotten Town of Kickapoo Center. Mr. Wilson was the first postmaster, ardent Democrat and hotel owner If you'd like to know more, read here:town of Kickapoo History. The Barres' family must have pissed off somebody in Kickapoo Center to have located their burial plots in the corn field behind my neighbor's house. Right in front near the gate is a new stone. The family name is prominernt over the top.  The image of a whitetail deer is carved over the man's name. It lists only his birth date-1945.  A flower adorns the name of the woman, born in 1948, died in 2004. Aha.  That 'splains the drunk up on the hill who used to own The Corner Bar.  Floyd, the owner of the Corner Bar was independently wealthy yet cleaned his own toilets.  He killed himself with muriactic acid fumes cleaning the urinal in the bar.

I must go to pick up a part for my riding lawn mower.  Next time I'll explain this building and how it figures into a mind numbing process of turning old church windows into a greenhouse.

..And thanks Mom...  For thinking of me on this day.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Mum says I can't play 'til I get my garden work done.

Brandywine, Roma, Mountain Fresh(what's that), Better Boy, Early Girl, Delicious-some sit in a homemade, used window hot house and the rest lie snug as a bug under old kraft paper organic feed sacks used as mulch in garden number eight. At last count I'm up to 9,250 sq.ft. of garden plots, 14 separate plots, each squared off with sisal twine to let my blue heeler puppy know that she can't run through the soft dirt or dig for moles anymore.  The cat prefers the sand pit under the onion drying tent as his litter box but occasionally messes with my corn garden. When I catch him in the act, he gets a sousing with the garden hose.  The deer walk through as if they owned the place.

I practice my waves at highway travelers, my favorite being the Queen Elizabeth wave with palm out, turned slowly rotating it 45 degrees like the sprinkler Dawn bought which sweeps the corn patch in a long arc.

Frost caused havoc early in the week, entailing an extra 90 minutes of covering tender babies with cardboard boxes and old plastic pots.  Because the pots have drain holes in the bottom, Jack slipped in the pots and burned the tops of precious salvia, turning the leaves black in the light of day.

It's what I do best.

Listening to a chorus of migrants twittering their hearts out, spying on Canadian honkers who roost  in the corn field behind us, smelling fragrant, blossoming trees and bushes, marveling at the sound of the thrust of wind against the wings of geese flying just above the tree tops, dog and cat craning their necks in wonder at incoming feathered aircraft and sitting in a lawn chair in  the garage while Pooch the cat sleeps on his back in a tote box on a work table and Mandy looks for a cool spot on the concrete floor.

I may not be back for awhile. There's blue bird nest boxes to make and sixteen one hundred year old church windows to be turned into a greenhouse.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Crab-apple in the east
It's not like driving my mother's old 1960 Pontiac down highway 141 on the way to work.

The trip takes, total time, 60 minutes.  I have tons of time to think.  I keep a notebook on the bench seat next to me.  This is when I learned to drive with my knee. I pass a hitch hiking black woman with a suitcase and a child on the gravel shoulder .  My gaping mouth didn't close until I was well past them.  For the rest of the journey, I  castigated myself for not stopping.  It would have been dangerous for myself and them, I rationalize.  Besides, I don't need anymore crazy. I teach in the heart of the inner city, the place where one of my comrades in arms, the gym teacher, tells my girl friend, also a fellow teacher, "Honey I'd like to see what's under that dress."

Or when I got bored and turned on the radio.The speaker says, "What would you say if you met God in the dark?"  Without thinking I yell back at the radio, "Jesus Christ, you scared me."

I could describe the past few days as a roller coaster without the drooling hurl afterward, but that wouldn't catch the feeling.  It wouldn't be the merry-go-round, because I ain't crazy enough to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results? Or, wait?  Tunnel of love?  Ferris wheel?  That's it.  Forever stuck on the top wishing this ride would be over.

I am stunned to see thermometers on the north side of the house read 92 degrees.  In disbelief, I check the one  in the breezeway. I purchased the cheap plastic gauge half asleep. I didn't notice the readings didn't extend below zero.  That will not do do for us'n just below the arctic circle and I purchase another more expensive one, bad mouthing the first manufacturer.  In the cool shade of the house and garage, it says 88 degrees

Mind you I'm not complaining.  I'm squeaky clean because the heat requires two showers a day.  The unused downstairs shower gets a work out and I don't worry about the trap drying up from lack of use. There's no end of work, so maybe I can lose the 30 pounds around my gut.  Riding in Jorge's limo with air conditioning and, get this, air conditioned seats, I feel like the emperor of Kickapoo Center. The a/c in my old Chevy quit two years ago.  To prevent the clock from recycling the time every 10 minutes and running down the battery, I disconnect the fuse which also kills the radio and dome lights.

Literally, plants shoot from the earth.  Grass grows two inches a day. Thunderstorms which cause my dog to hide under my desk add unneeded nitrogen to rainfall giving the downpour a formula for fertilizer close to my organic composted poultry manure. The river rises to the top of it's banks.

Man stops by to purchase onion sets.  He knows his potatoes and puts the fear of Spud, the patron saint of potatoes in me when he says planting your own seed potatoes is a chancy deal.  I think back to russets purchased at the Village Market years ago.  They were full of leggy sprouts, useless for dinner. So, I planted them.  That was when we had a  just one, teeny tiny 25'X50' garden behind the house. The crop that year- forgetful.  The solution.  Buy seed potatoes.

I race to town with Mandy riding shotgun for protection from eight wheel monster earth machines crawling down the highways looking for soil to till and crops to plant.  Cars form a long line behind the behemoth with batwing plows that extend up in the air. At the agri-center, seed potatoes are on sale.  I fill a kraft bag with 16.29 lbs of kennebecs.  The next day a coupon for $5 arrives in the mail thanking me for my patronage from the friendly folks at the agri-center. Dawn fills another kraft bag.

I find a box of seed potatoes in the summer kitchen.  I'm humming ,"Will the circle be unbroken, bye and bye now, bye and bye."  Headlines read,
Local man crushed when mountain of potatoes escapes overturned bin      

At night I get up and walk the upstairs hallway to fool the leg cramps into thinking that I'm going to work in the front field.

The first day of the heat wave catches me by surprise.  It's 85 on the second floor.  Refusing to turn on the central air this early in the season, I smash my fingers a half dozen times in the storm/screen combo windows we haven't replaced with new, vinyl ones.  I can't remember which way the switch goes on the ceiling fans. Is it up for winter or down?  I sleep without a blanket, tossing fitfully all night.  

I think I'll I'll go stare out the kitchen window at the intermittent rain falling.  I'll walk around the bed cabbage and broccoli I carefully mulched ala the new Lasagne Garden Method with layers of cardboard, compost and soil to keep the cardboard from blowing away in tornado winds, a stake beside each plant with hopes of driving it through the heart of aspiring moles who tunnel under my babies. With temperature just over 40 this morning, I'll zip up my hooded sweatshirt.  I'll watch the grass grow to a foot in the backyard, the part I couldn't mow when the sky opened up just enough to wet the grass  and force me indoors to watch with disbelief an onion customer back over my mailbox.  He looked like the devil. You should have seen the dent in the tailgate of his truck.  It is Friday the 13th.  
Two Lovers in the backyard

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ah, Spring

It's that time of year.  Finally an 80 degree day.  The dog gets dumber, ie chasing bugs.  Hey, babe there's more on the way after yesterday's thunderboomer. The cat moves slower, ie time for basement naps.  Me, I am busier than a cat covering poop on a tin roof ( the late Robert Ehr's favorite ditty).

Pacing oneself, becomes a mantra.

Dismantle the old 16' garage door lying in the grass; Plant herbs in flats; Weed, weed and weed some more; Mow another quarter section; Fix the muffler on Fred, the riding mower; Split that maple behind the wood shed but keep an eye out for snakes; Figure out a place for the 23 pounds of onion sets you bought cheap; Paint the deck; Remember to call Dawn to buy organic flour; Till weeds in the corn garden; Take soil temperatures; Fix the pedal on your mountain bike; Drink more juice instead of coffee and tea;

 Mother Nature and the National Weather dance the tango.  Ma dips and NWS swoons.

click for larger image
We Should Have Cultivated Rice
The Front Yard (note back stroking yardbird)

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Green Fairy

"Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder."
I'm waiting out a thunderstorm.  The blue heeler puppy is cowering under my desk. If I move, she'll have no where to hide and still  be near her savior, protector and best friend.. The panting, lip licking and trembling will get worse.  No amount of comfort will calm her, save my presence. 

Near the end of our road, the sheriff  and three emergency vehicles from the local fire department, including the new pumper are pulled off on a side road.  I walk out the back door curious about the hubbub. Rain is subsiding from torrential to light dusting.  Thunder and the threat of a lightening strike in the open yard and 80 foot white pines lining the south fence line drives me back in the house before I can find out the nature of the trouble.

Curious about a news blurb I catch perusing a news summary magazine, I go to my computer and Google absinthe. The French make the sale of absinthe legal.  The story says it's been banned since 1914.  I'm fascinated by the wealth of information and of the tales of terror and tragedy linked to the brew made from wormwood and other herbs, mixed with alcohol to a level sometimes surpassing 144 proof.  Want to know more?  Read here.

Rule of writing is to write about things you know.  Otherwise one ends up like some of my opinionated neighbors.

The organic farmers down the road apiece are/were young and brash. They start out with idealistic notions of serving the community as CSA growers.  Throughout the temperate months they supply locals with a weekly box of fresh organic produce. The farm branches out to more lucrative ventures when it becomes obvious that the revenue from Community Sponsored Agriculture won't pay the bills. Upscale restaurants in several urban markets are supplied with crisp organic lettuce mixes.  They also discover growing shallots is a high dollar crop, far and away bringing in more money than the $7 per pound baby spinach they sell to a co-op. Driving by a roadside ditch off a county highway, they harvest water cress with permission of the owner of the property.  Since they're certified organic and the water cress is growing wild, their cost is only the labor involved. This too goes to a co-op.  As Jorge would say, "It makes no never mind," that the watercress is polluted from runoff of vehicles, salt and who knows what traveling on the shortcut to the main highway to Madison. They get careless.

The state shuts down their irrigation system drawing water from a nearby stream.  Locals nod and smile at the news.  The phone company warned them about selling wireless internet to their neighbor. Although they're not Irish, they are one lucky bunch. They may have been born under a favorable moon because their irrigated water tests frequently for contaminates similar to the nationwide scare at the same time for produce coming out of California grown with reclaimed water.

An organic conference is on the roster in Amsterdam. Dawn says you could cut the tension with a knife when she innocently drops by the farmhouse on an errand.  Head guy, wife and foreman are the main characters. The formula: Amsterdam+ organic conference, + absinthe-minus wife + weed= phun.

I'm aghast at the amount of money spent on souvenirs.  I'm equally amazed that at a party they're setting up flaming shots of absinthe.  Smuggling. Tales of mystery and intrigue.  Orders for expensive processing machines to wash and prepare mixed greens.  One sample given us includes a freshly washed grasshopper.  I wonder what the Chicago restaurant said about that.

In the end, the organic people fizzle out.  Financial backers hound them to list their property for almost $400,00.  House, several out buildings, greenhouses, barn and twenty acres tillable. They team up with friends, move to California learning of another high dollar crop, illegal in this state. Buying up permits to grow medical marijuana, they jump right back into the routine.

Me, I continue to speak out about the high cost of organic food, by growing my own food organically. I refuse to pay the hundreds of $$ for the certification which allows for legalized robbery. Yes, I agree there must be rules and reg's, but why the high dollar ticket included?

I give away much of my produce, since a household of two people might have a hard time consuming 700 pounds of potatoes in a good year. I'm not rich, but it's my way of helping my fellow man. I love getting my hands in the dirt and all that's involved in growing vegetables.  It's my "thing".  Selling off the highway is chancy at best. I can't afford to pay the piper and file the forms, yet I still follow basic organic principles. I don't fudge whenever possible, smile at the inspectors in their monthly, yearly tour ( it matters not since the inspectors never had a clue to many of this farm's illegal practices) because I'm the one eating this stuff.        


Friday, May 6, 2011

Random Shots

If I only had a brain.  I couldn't sleep last night.  This morning I'm a lump on a log. 
Our Doorbell
The bike's gone but I still have the outfit.
My first wheels.
I've always played with my food.
Take an adobe brick form, add one souvenir from the Pike Street Market in Seattle add two bite size crows and Voila!
Never, ever refer to the dog as "sweetheart" in front of a champion kick boxer for a wife.
Every picture tells a story, donit?
Fine art on the pole barn: Woodpecker and old coot.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

True Tales

I know what I was thinking when I shot the carrot line-up.  In retrospect it only shows soil compaction  in that section of the front field and some very poor soil practices on my part

Then there's this shot. I wanted to make it into a Mr.Potato. Call me Spud.

A shot of plastic bags drying on the clothesline in the back yard only  reminds me encroaching dementia.  I cannot remember the reason I took the picture.

All of the above underlines why I should label the files of photos.  I search for  pictures of a raccoon.

When we offered to purchase our  Shangrila, we were spending the summer in Madison,Wisconsin.  Our state capitol is on a list of ten best places to live.  Dawn and I enjoyed watching wild turkeys parade in the field behind our apartment complex just a stones throw from the Beltway.  Numerous bike paths lured us to buy matching mountain bikes and restaurants galore served frosty glasses of beer after a jaunt.  The owner of this schoolhouse was an alcoholic millionaire who could not find a fool to "caretake" the place.  A heart attack convinced him of the need to lose the sauce and change his lifestyle.

We low-ball offered on the place.  Life was good in Mad City.  The millionaire decided that with a pole barn full of antique and custom automobiles, he could afford to lose the money he spent on upgrading the schoolhouse.  After five years of vacancy ( save for a brief three weeks in which a hired caretaker-couple fled screaming from Shangrila) we moved in.  This is late summer of 2004.

The turquoise toilet on the first floor is orange from rust.  The basement smells so bad from the previous owner's hot tub, that only spiders considered it livable.  The deck... Ah yes, the raccoon latrine.  I knew we had trouble when I saw raccoon paw prints on the windows to the first floor.  Cut to the chase scene.

Raccoons drive away Pucci, our cat.  He's gone for two days hiding under the neighbor's porch.  I declare raccoon war.  I live trap twelve raccoons and relocate them five miles away.  Other neighbors do the same or worse. Tales of 40+ raccoons relocated in a season are common.  Jorge relocates 'coons on his daily workout at the club 22 mile away. Like the advice from my mechanic on how to train a dog, "get a length of garden hose and whack her across the snout" it flows freely into more violent techniques. 

Yesterday, the "kids" are firmly ensconced on the deck.  Pucci, the cat and Mandy the dog are riveted to the south side of the porch.  I rationalize it's the geese in the cornfield. I notice the door to the live trap is closed. Oh, crap.  After morning ablutions, I drive my truck to the spot, hoist the trap onto the bed, wearing gloves to thwart any possible rabies contamination from a scratch or bite if I'm careless.  In the park I open the front door with a 5/8th inch dowel to prod with gloved hands.  Raccoon gets the picture quickly and lumbers off. as opposed to a cousin who ran further into the recesses of Jorge's junk cluttered pick up bed when offered freedom, hiding under feed sacks, jumper cables and blankets used a protective cushions.

Mandy watches the action from inside my truck.  I drive back on the highway toward town.  As I approach warp speed , I hit the brakes to avoid flattening, you guessed it, a lumbering raccoon.   "Oh well, at least he's heading north," I tell Mandy.



Wednesday, May 4, 2011


On a road trip to the Big'Un yesterday, we drive through snow squalls. It's May 3rd, for cripes sake.  The eagle that built a huge stick nest in the trees along a shabby and twisted river littered with dead-fall from grazing cattle between the little burgs of Leon and  Melvina isn't in sight.  Behind us, a long line of cars are itchin' to pass Jorge who drives like he did on patrol.  The totally overcast, pale gray, bone chilling weather is good enough reason for hitting the road.  We invent a fairly long list of supplies needed for survival.  Chief on the list are 1X6's.

It's too bad that we have to travel 130 miles to buy lumber.  The local Amish lumber company is closed.  Rumor has it that another local lumber company " turned them in"  for unspecified violations.  Since it's a rumor, I can't comment. The name will be withheld (it's not Home Depot) but from experience I can relate buying a cement saw blade from this company soured me forever from doing business with them.  Twenty minutes into a building project and Mountain Man Johann says the new blade is so dull, it turns red from the heat created cutting siding.  I call the owner who sold me the blade.  He admits that the $13  spent is wasted, but tells me there's no guarantee.  I don't want another defective blade, just my money back.

"Return it to the company. Tell them it's defective," I angrily respond.  He refuses.  I pull a wild card out of my pocket.

"Well, if that the case, the $250 I planned on spending for the rest of the project will go elsewhere,"  I say.

He grudgingly relents.  "Bring it back," he tells me, "But I won't sell you another one."

He must think I am inbred.

I hustle to the agri-center/hardware store and buy a diamond-tipped cement saw blade that costs $6 more.  It lasts the rest of the three day project. I never returned to the ____ lumber store.

Jorge and I discuss the limits of principles.  

As a former Wal-Mart employee, I wrote a full account of Wal-Mart practices.  True tales of deception, lies, deceit, brow beating and back biting I list under the catchy title Working For Star Market appropriately subtitled, "A Tang For a Whore."  I haven't amassed enough $ in my bank account to get a retainer for the local attorney.  Unfortunately, his wife works for Wal-Mart and she retains him exclusively to redress her grievances, like the smell from the floor wax which makes her ill.

The reason for applying for work with Wal-Mart is the story of my life.

Up against the wall, looking a starved wolf in the puss, I choose food on the table over poverty.  Thus, in my youth I worked for Pressed Steel Tank Company where the main object of fun is finding ways to kill or injure the "new guy".  Lifers at the company resented my squeaky clean, collegiate look.

Lining up at 6 am with winos and derelicts for a temp job paying $1.50/hour, I crawled through and cleaned the air ducts of the AO Smith company and rolled asbestos tubes down catwalks at Jones Island which were  to be used to monitor leaks from  the huge oil tanks next to the Milwaukee harbor.

Tired of working for a penny pinching local businessman selling pills and cotton puffs, I join the ranks of the teaching profession with a degree in Political Science.  My young wife just gave birth to our first born, deciding that a career as a mother and housewife looked a lot easier than working for the Hilton Hotel Corporation. We argued about that decision through births number two( are you sure you can handle another kid after ten years) and birth number three (but my biological clock is ticking) in which the doctor standing in for our "on vacation" doctor tells her the child has a prolapsed cord.

I point out to Jorge that the Kwik Trip convenience stores and The Home Depot are contributors to Governor Skippy Walker's campaign.  Cross gasoline and building supplies off my list. Cross a major drug store chain off the list after they fire my step-sister for taking a discount on bath towels the day after the sale expires.  It is a small oversight on her part. She's a reliable, capable employee.  Another employee from a foreign country where beheading and stoning is a popular form of punishment turns her in for the illegal discount, thinking that sniping and back biting are helpful ways of career advancement.

Whoa. I have digressed.  The sun's out. The kids are sunning themselves on the deck.I'm outahere. 

Monday, May 2, 2011


There was a hard frost last night.  The marsh below the berm which protects us from the Crooked River turned white.  Rooftops looked like it snowed during the night.

This is not unusual.  Last year I placed cardboard boxes over 20 tomato plants to protect them from damage.  It was after the last average frost date of May 10th. On the NWS last average frost graph, there's a long lobe, like my uvula-
 (The uvula is the conic projection from the posterior edge of the middle of the soft palate, composed of connective tissue containing a number of racemose glands)
 which extends from Eau Claire southward to the Driftless region.  A racemose of inhospitable weather.

It's been proven that birds follow migratory patterns based upon a number of factors, some of which are the changing tilt of the earth, gravity and magnetic force.There's a better explanation, but the link I made didn't work, even after several attempts.  The slinky, blond ornithologist I had an affair with in between marriage#1 and #3 said they placed a bird in a paper cone in a windowless room and did something to its feet or to the cone to mark the patterns the bird makes trying to get out. You can Google migratory patterns.   I know this isn't a scientific explanation, but bear with me. I'm just a farmer. What you I know?

My conic projections involve looking out the kitchen window. I do that quite a bit each day because the kitchen sink is under the kitchen window, as opposed to say, under my office window.  Each year I'll catch a glimpse of a hummer hovering in the corner by the window.  If I were a cartoonist or possessed a glib sense of humor, I'd make up something funny coming from the bird, like "Where's the sweet?" 

I race to the entryway closet, look for the suction-cup window hook and the feeder without broken perches and quickly fill it with sweet nectar.  From that moment until the end of summer which is determined by the hummingbird exit from our area, not the calendar, I'll repeat the process.  In the height of the nesting season, I'll hang three feeders which I refill daily.  In my workshop I have  hummingbird nests blown from the trees during storms stashed in a coffee can. Most are made from the neighbor's horsehair.  The nests and my chicken wishbones will be turned into a work of art. It may be based on last night's dream:.  I'm in the basement and a 'dumb cluck' knocks over one of the supporting jacks under the ancient floor beams.  I barely escape through a basement window. I think my subconscious is trying to contact me and is getting a busy signal.

There have been no hummers knocking at our back door. Or, hovering by the kitchen window.  This is why half of my organic gardens lie fallow.

self portrait ca. 1999

Sunday, May 1, 2011

After The Ball

The Recall Ball held in honor of the current state senator, Dan Kapanke , was a resounding success. Here's what I learned.

If you're pictured in any of the local newspapers, let's say for example, raising a champion hog, you'll get a congratulatory note from hizzoner. I call that pandering. Dan Who?

Twenty two thousand signatures were collected in in a record thirty days on petitions for Kapanke's recall.  The allotted amount of time was sixty days. A grass roots revolution is growing in our state.

Kapanke wastes taxpayer money sending out e-mails and letters about the difficult decisions he's had to make being a concerned politician.He's already stated he won't seek reelection in 2012.

A local radio station airs ads about the guy, "grandfather, husband, father" nauseum. The money for these ads is suspected to come from highrolling sources outside the state.

The opposing candidate in the recall lection, Jennifer Schilling, is an articulate, hardworking mother of two who's on the Joint Finance Committee looking into the bill currently tied up in the courts that was passed without sufficient hearings.

All the recall elections are lumped into one event in July.  Postpone your vacation to vote.  At least the weather will be better than in January when the recall Gov.Skippy Walker campaign begins.

I put a lot of stock into a handshake.When former US Senator Bill Proxmire( Golden Fleece Awards) worked the crowds at the Wisconsin State Fair, I shook his hand.  It was like shaking hands with a handful of pasta-wet and limp.  Then again, it is reputed that he made his staff work standing up. Took away their chairs.

Jennifer Schilling's handshake was firm,direct and reassuring. She didn't give you the tips of her fingers(arrgh) like persons who're afraid of  touching another human being. I like this person.