Monday, October 31, 2011


Santiago ( The Apostle St.James the Greater , patron saint of horsemen) <©> Seven Roads Gallery 2011

Let's put things into context.

Today is All Saints Day.  In some cultures, I'd be sitting in a graveyard with picnic fare.  There is a graveyard for the poor Barre family who lived in dipstick's house(the fence guy) in the cornfield behind us.  I am not planning on a picnic today. I started a fire in the wood furnace to be able to hang clothes in the basement.  We reached a new low in darkness when I complained to Dawn that at 7:19 this morning, it was still dark.  It might rain.

I dusted off St.James this morning, admiring the santero's work.  The horse "in pose",  the metal miniature stirrups, braided reins and attention to detail are the mark of a fine craftsman.

 I'll be remembering a few personal saints on All Saints Day. They include my mother, Violet, my stepfather Joseph and Gertie Sennett.

Post Script:
OK, so I'm a day early and a dollar short.  Blame it on not having to punch a time clock and Jorge's reports from the cities.  Friends were calling to asking him to a movie, brunch , whatever, so they wouldn't have to answer the door on Sunday-Trick or Treat day.  To me that sounds like Scrooge, but, we don't have trick or treaters out here.  When I lived on the cusp of the inner city, kids were imported in bus loads to our neighborhood.  The reason, better treats and a safer Halloween for the kids.

When Jorge pointed out my mistake, I remembered my early morning stop in bloggerland. Next time, more coffee..

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All Hallowed's Eve

Seven Roads Gallery  2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sex Behind The Henhouse

Patience.Some sage called it a virtue.

I'm under a major allergy attack.

After a pre-breakfast of an oatmeal cookie and coffee, I preheat the oven to 450.  I 'm itching for punkin pie, despite a recipe which calls for three eggs, a cup of sugar and a cup of evaporated milk.  I understand  why the label on the pre-made pie crusts called them "traditional" because I get two punkin pies from a recipe for one deep-dish pie.

Yes, I got lazy and asked Dawn to pick up pie crusts on her way home.   We don't have regular milk in the frig because I have switched to soymilk. I'm on a semi-vegetarian diet thanks to Jorge's influence.  I watch and wait for him to screw up. The net results are that I have refined my bad habits and cut my meat intake.
I'm concentrating on eating more vegetables and as always doing things organically. 

For example, Jorge gives me a pint container of white miso he purchased weeks ago.  He tells me he likes miso soup, especially the way I prepare it with bits of tofu, scallions and fresh parsley.  His diet is so routine, it would make me scream  loudly for a Big Boy Hamburger.   He's a lazy cook.Meals are repetitive. Boring.  He'd never think to add saffron to rice. He does like garlic. However,subtle is not in his vocabulary.  A few days ago he chopped an entire bulb of garlic and added that to his lunch-time fare.  I asked if it caused any gastric distress.  "Not a bit," is his reply.  I think about an aphorism of his-You Don't Have To Think To Lie.  A few days later, he admits to an afternoon of flatulence.   

The allergic reaction? To get me out of bed, Salvatore Pucci  crawls next to my face purring loudly.  He licks my fingers . To show how much he cares and a subtle hint that he's hungry, he gnaws my knuckle. Cat spit. It makes my eyes itch. It makes me wheeze.

This is not me.  It is Paul The Ball.  It could be me. I'm itching to get out of Dodge.  Ladies and gentlemen, let me explain.

I'm kinda in between things at the moment.  I'm no longer a teacher, or a peddler.  The Indian Trader/drum maker retired to the country. The traveler got tired of the hassles at the airport. Ask Dawn about a pair of shoes she wore in Sky Harbor Airport which had a metal rod in the soles.    I don't need no more stuff. I got a barn full of stuff.  Enough stuff to open up another trading post, except I don't wanna live in or near a major urban area. I've always been a farmer, so that doesn't count.  My past shows that I've moved every seven years, give or take for divorce, kids and restlessness. What to do. What to do.
Not A Monk
 I'd try being a monk, because I like to make wine, garden, chant loudly in a big open church, have meals at a twenty seven foot long plank table. I got a couple of nice plank tables in the barn if y'all need one.  Forget the vow of silence. I'm a double Gemini .  But sex with a buncha guys?  A scene from Jorge's past, explains my attitude.

He's still a cop.  He has a downtown beat.  He pops into the Rialto Theater to take a leak.  The Rialto showed X-rated stuff.  A guy walks in and goes to the urinal adjacent to this cop.  Kinda ballsy if you asks me.  Jorge looks at him.  The guy is peeking over into his stall.  "Can I have a look?" he asks.  Jorge replies, " No,You got one of your own." 

I love women. Women of all shapes, sizes and colors. It's the way I feel.  I'd describe my attitude toward life as similar to that of Fritz Perls.  I am me and you are you.  If we agree, it's wonderful.  If not, it can't be helped. 
Our Lady of Indiscretion-Seven Roads Gallery 2011

Again, I have strayed. It takes awhile to get back on track after summer of pawing in the dirt.

Dawn called the care facility for her father. She spoke with the director, identifying herself and giving her credentials. The ugly sister lied about a number of things.  The director of the facility told Dawn that visiting hours are 9-6. He said there is no need for registering as a family member to be able to visit.  Dad is faring well..  Their definition of "comfort care" is different. In our neck of the woods, it means care for a terminal  resident. To them it just means making the resident feel comfortable.  So he's not dying.  Sister has large control issues as well as a fondness for paranoid hysteria.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tough Crow

Folk Art Crow-Seven Roads Gallery, 2011
So many piles of dog poop, so little room in the scooper.

My neighbor in AZ used a plastic bag from his Wall St. Journal to pick up Who-Do Wunderdawg's dookie. Yow. The thought of grabbing a warm pile of poop with my hand bothers me.  Mandy has acres and acres of room to crap. The cat regularly uses the sand pile in the old house foundation. I don't have to watch where I step because he goes... and it disappears. The cat is good at covering his mess.  The next door neighbors to Harvey Bartlett, the AZ prankster, had two little yippers. They had no yard, except a walled in patio.  You could smell bleach fumes over our cul-de-sac when it was patio cleaning day. I'm glad I don't have a Great Dane, Malamute or St.Bernard.

I have cleverly introduced the topic.  Yesterday was one crappy day.

I don't prepare this stuff in another program and import it to blogger. I proofread, edit and re-edit on the spot.  I should learn to be brief.   It causes  technical problems for which I do not have the patience.  I use my own images. Yesterday importing images from a free site caused me time and a loss of what little patience I possess.  Then I got the bright idea to begin a post as a draft, spending more time as the ideas unfolded.  In the end, the post got stuck. I saw a red blurb on the bottom of the screen that said something like "error in saving"  If I left the program, I'd lose any unsaved changes.  I tried that and , aha, I lost half of what I'd written.Crap.

 Even images I'd imported from my pictures file disappeared. Like this one of Scratchy. The stray I found and gave away to a migrant family who lived behind us across the river.
This is their house.  It wasn't habitable when they lived there. It's worse now.
For Sale.40 acres and a mule
This is the flag I've been restoring. While I have been paid handsomely in haircuts and offers of sexual favors for my work as a art restoration specialist, I do not take on new work. Don't ask. It, too, was a PIA, dripping glue when I turned the piece over to install a hanger.
Antique Flag-Seven Roads Gallery,2011
At the end of the afternoon, I possessed a real sense of accomplishment after downloading multiple images, such as this one of my tiny cold frame of fresh oregano here at the cusp of the arctic circle.

When Dawn returned home from her job at the old folks home, she told me her sister had left a voice mail message in response to multiple calls to check on Dad who lives with the sister.  Against the advice of a certified health care professional with over ten years of experience (Dawn), her sister decides to care for their elderly father at home after Mom died.

As dementia approached on its silent paws, Dad became more dependent upon specialized care.  When the sister had a personal emergency, she asked Dawn, with little advance notice, to drop everything and drive the 4 hours to the Southeast part of the state to care for Dad. Dawn refused, without doing an "I told you so,"  retort.  Sisty Ugler had to hire a caregiver to come in  for Dad. It was expensive. Sister was pissed. 

In the voice mail message, Sisty tells Dawn that Dad was moved to a care facility over a month ago. He's in the last stages of Alzheimer's and doesn't have much time left. In a phone conversation with her brother, Dawn relates the details.  Brother dryly says, "It was nice of her to let us know." It'd be easy to import an image of the sister since we're so close to Halloween.

I wake up in the middle of the night with the Anxiteers pounding at the bedroom door. They're ecstatic.

You have no friends. You are wasting you time on building a greenhouse. It's going to snow and won't stop until March. You find a hit man for Sisty Ugler and are sentenced to life in prison.  The library will run out of new books and the new director will concentrate on Amish romance books and detective novels.  People only love you for your potatoes.  Your cat allergy is terminal.  You will become a house husband reserving Mondays for laundry, Wednesday for scrubbing floors and Thursday for washing walls like your stepmother.  In a recall election Wisconsin Governor Skippy Walker reports a landslide victory after the State Supreme court clears him for election fraud.  Prohibition becomes the rule of law, again.  The local Republican boss wants you to give him protection money.  The gravel haulers clog the highway spewing diesel fumes.  Mandy runs away.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dribbling Over the Edge

When the price of my favorite type of french roast coffee dropped to $6 a can, I purchased three cans.  I mentioned to Dawn that we should stock up. She bought four cans.  We stored the hoard(hey, that rhymes) on a high shelf in the summer kitchen next to Dawn's ceremonial deer antlers.  The antlers are seldom used because Dawn hasn't done a deer dance in years.  The coffee is gone.

Dawn's driver's license needs to be renewed.  Since they closed the DMV station in Viroqua, we need to go to Richland Center.  Road trip.  Dawn leaves work early because the DMV closes at 5 pm.  I agonized about inviting Jorge along because of the back seat driving.  If we make him sit in the back seat with Mandy, there are snarky comments.Much of it from Mandy having to sit next to Jorge.

Jorge looking for change in his recliner.
The trip to RC is fraught with peril.  Just before the left turn past KFC, a trailer loaded with snowmobiles side swipes a passenger van.  The van is stuck in the center turn lane missing a bumper.  I barely had time to swerve out of the left turn lane.  I didn't see the putz driving on my bumper and sent him careening.

The DMV is cleverly disguised as a strip mall.  Driving past a long row of white vinyl, single story  buildings with no designation other then Executive Drive Suites, we spot a sign with a long black arrow pointing to a glass door. Of course there's the DUH moment when we cry out in unison , "That must be it."   "Driver Licensing" it says.  Dawn gets out of the car.  I decide to let Mandy out for a walk.  Jorge gets out of the car.  I 'd pulled up to the edge of the parking lot next to other cars.  As I walk around the front of the car , I glance at the hill below toward a pastoral setting of open fields, dairy cows and hardwood trees still clinging with autumn leaves.  Yipes.  The hill is a sheer drop of a hundred ( hunnert if you're from Wisconsin) feet.  "Mandy. Get away from the edge ," I shout at her.  She walks over to a plastic corrugated culvert set in the asphalt as a deep drain  to the field below.  Oh no, I can see the fire trucks pulling up now to extricate my dog from the culvert.

Mandy canters past office workers waving at her in boredom.  Behind the DMV is the DNR.  Plain white pick-up trucks with red license plates indicate this is the forestry division similar to the one behind the Great Wall in Viroqua. Hey, it's funny they put the forest service behind a Chinese buffet.  Wow,  these guys have two gas grills, a covered picnic area and a water hydrant.  Mandy heads for the farm off in the distance, but the leash is only twenty feet and cuts her off before she gets to the cattle wallow.

Jorge wanders the parking area.  I worry that the police will show up ( Jorge was the police)  wanting to know why a black man is stalking the parking lot.  A couple of years back Jorge accompanies me on a trip to Lacrosse.  It's hot and he's tired.  He lies down on a bench in the entrance to Woodman's grocery store.  A clerk comes out. She asks politely, "Are you all right sir?"  Jorge tells me later that all the while she was sniffing the air for whiskey fumes 'cuz there's black man passed out on a bench in front of the store.  Jorge doesn't drink, by the way.

Dawn comes out ecstatic that it didn't take two hours to her the license renewed.  No one threatened anyone.  No guns were drawn and other than her face has a red tinge to it, the photo didn't look like a mug shot.  She did add that the "nice" man at the counter had to retake the photo when her glasses slipped down her nose at the last moment. "Broke the camera," Jorge quips.

Next stop Wal-Mart.  The RC Wal-Mart craft's area is, according to Dawn, well stocked with a variety of items she needs for her senior activities like making turkeys with a hand trace and pine cone door knob hangers.Of course there's the required bashing of Wal Mart and the Republican dominated state legislature when Dawn mentions a recent bill to deny state workers a salary increase or merit pay.

I wander down the men's aisle looking for the clearance rack when I see children's clothes marked down to $1.  Unbelievable. Maybe I'll get lucky. Jorge follows like a puppy, complaining that I'm wandering on purpose.  "You need the exercise," I tell him.  I grab an unused cart because the grocery division has chicken leg quarters ( dog food) on sale. When I get to the the meat section, Jorge says, " Did you see all those peg hooks in the cart?"   "NO," I reply.  We laugh at the misfortune of some worker who will probably get fired for losing his/her peg hooks. Yes, we're callous.  Target recently fired a worker for helping customers during a break. When I worked for Wal-Mart, I was amazed at the sheer paranoia on a fellow worker's face when I asked him a question as he was walking out the door for home.  Wal-Mart has strict rules about working off the clock.

Looking for peanut butter ( The Week magazine says peanut butter prices will increase because of a poor harvest) I notice coffee is selling for $8 and $ 9 a can.  Even my local Dent and Bent can't keep coffee in stock.I call Dawn on my cell telling her Jorge and I are checking out.  It'll be a few hours before she's done shopping.  Jorge and I will sit in the car oogling midwest gals.  "Piglets in a gunny sack" is one of Jorge's favorite descriptions of farm girl derrieres.

I began this epistle thinking of writing about feral cats and Mountain Man Johann.  Look where I went.  I'm happy I didn't get to the feral cats, because that would elicit lots of controversial remarks like gun control and hunting.  You don't want to know about Mountain Man's latest exploits. I'll get to that later.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pooch and Mandy Live and in Color

Nobody warned me.

On the TV show The Big Bang Theory, the one created by Chuck Lorre without Charlie Sheen, when geeky Sheldon gets really upset-can't sleep, he asks Penny across the hall to sing a lullaby.  I guffaw every time she croons , "Soft kitty..." to  Sheldon.

I don't know what time it is.  It's dark.  I've flopped around in my sleep several times postponing getting up to pee.  The Pooch jumps on the bed without sharpening his claws on the fabric of the bed platform.  He doesn't walk over me three times looking for a warm, soft place to curl up.  Grateful that he's just there to sleep, I pet him.  "Soft kitty...sleepy kitty.  Wait. What the hay?

There's a lump in the spot between his shoulders where I apply Frontline.  For a week I avoid petting him on that area because I sometimes chew my fingernails without thinking where and what my paws have been dipped in  My doctor told me to get a tetanus shot (it's been over 10 years since the last) because I handle horse manure. I didn't tell her about nail biting.  She's pretty sharp about getting people like me to get a tetanus shot. Lockjaw from handling horse hockey is more of an impetus than stepping on a rusty nail.

Back to the lump.  There's only one thing to do.  In the early morning dark, the overhead light is the closest thing to a laser in the house.  Dawn runs screaming from the room, "I'm blind, I'm blind." I dig into El Gatto's shoulder. Yes, it's a tick.  So much for the $37 tick and flea prevention.  Luckily, it's one of those gray, flat ticks that looks like a sunflower kernel.  Or is it?

The full tick treatment involves running downstairs naked, getting the special tweezers, finding a stick match, some rubbing alcohol(we're out of peroxide since I quit gargling with it) and a cotton swab.  Dr. G here gives the cat a .22 caliber long rifle cartridge to bite down on and a swig of catnip tea.I yank.  The thing comes out intact including the jaws which bore into the skin.  The Pooch is hardly disturbed, stretched out in a sphinx like posture. Whatta guy.

If I hadn't consigned Mandy to the breezeway overnight, we'd have the whole episode of the Pooch and Mandy show.

Every night it's the same routine.  Mandy sleeps on her chair until the movie is over.  Bruce Willis is the mobster boss, Bigg, complaining that reading the paper over a bowl of cereal and checking out the box scores calms him.  It's a small pleasure in a day filled with violence. "Mandy, time to go out."  I grab a flashlight, a hooded sweatshirt and the dog scoots out the back door.  We walk up the road and down.  She checks out a few smells, scans the perimeters and when she's sure there is nothing lurking in the shadows does her business.  But tonight there's no business.  "I am not getting up at 12:30 when you do your monkey grunt, Unh, Unh."  It's not like I didn't feed her right on schedule.  After throwing up her special diet  " Taste of the Wild" -no grain-  dog food five times in a row, I've switched her to brown rice, chicken and vegetables.  She gets measured amounts of bulk.

The routine after a successful tour of the outside lavatory is that Mandy grabs here fleece blankie and goes upstairs to "her" bedroom to pretend suckle the mother substitute. Not tonight.

The woeful look she gives me when it appears that she'll be sleeping on a faux-fleece, wool blanket covered specially made dog bed from log cabin siding leftovers would melt the heart of a death row inmate.  I get her blankie and my old sheepskin fur coat, spreading the coat flat over the wool blanket and faux sheep fleece, turn off the light and lock the door to the breezeway.  The back door of the enclosure has no lock. I prop it open with a door-stop so Mandy can use the backyard pen at 12:38 am without waking me. Then I go to sleep, toss and turn, worried that the overnight temps will dip precipitously.

In the morning I unlock the breezeway door and both animals streak out into the wet dawn.  Mandy races back in the house while the Pooch checks the over-night activity.  He'll be standing on the patio outside the kitchen window in 10 minutes, giving me a longing look while I fix breakfast.  Mandy curls up on her chair next to the TV.  When I glance over at her, she's shivering.  Oh gee. Now I did it.  Poor thing spent a cold night, all alone, friendless wondering what she did wrong.  I sit down next to her and wrap an arm around her.  I'd like to think that she enjoys the comfort, but I know this hound is really just smelling my breath.  "Is that bean sprouts on your breath? For breakfast? Eeyew.  I smell hash browns, jalapenos, tofu and cubed left over roast pork.  I want some."

Nobody warned me.       

Monday, October 24, 2011

Short Snorts

I skipped breakfast this morning.  Instead I poured the dregs of the Shurfine honey bottle into 3/4ths cup of coffee and cut off a hunk of zucchini bread.  I wanted to catch up on a few blog friends. Nice dog Jimm.

Last night's rain turned into this morning's fog. The sidewalk around the north end of the house is dry at the edges. I had Dawn check out the NWS site for the low temps forecast overnight.  The weather guys said it'd get down to 39 Sunday night and 40 on Monday.  I didn't cover the kale because the semi-permeable row cover will stunt the growth of the stuff,  if kept covered for long periods.  Besides, a rain will do it good. It's been so dry of late that the farmers harvesting soybeans churn up billowing clouds of dust.  Great for us asthma sufferers.

Scattered showers for our area Sunday afternoon give us a break from chores.  "Wanna go for a ride?" causes Mandy to race to the property line in excitement.  She hears cars coming down the highway and races them along a weed covered fence line at the highway edge. Not to worry, since she's never gone into the weeds. When she was little she had an encounter with a hot wire on the neighbor's property and has a healthy respect for all wire.  You never heard such caterwauling.

Dawn needs new shoes.  To entice me, she promises lunch at Fiesta Mexicana in south Lacrosse. She'll also pay for the gas.  It's a sorry situation when we have to travel 130 round trip miles to buy shoes.  The local store has two locations-one 20 minutes south and one, the same distance north.  On a trip to the Chinese take-out restaurant in Richland Center, Dawn wants to check their prices on shoes.  While she stalks the shoe aisle, I walk over to work boots.

I can't find a pair of Red Wings similar to the ones I got a year ago May.  A staffer asks my name. They see a potential sale coming. She enters it into the sales computer and tells me I have Red Wing boots-model #656. On the shelf there's a boot with a higher back.  Another staffer saunters over.  I ask, "Are you the owner?"   He says, " No , but I oughta be.  I been here 37 years."  Then he tells me ,"They no longer make your shoe."  I look at the price tag on the new model.  It's ( the price tag) orange with a yellow inside.  The price written with a pen (mistake no.1) is crossed off twice. The latest price is $113.He says that it's not unusual for the prices to increase twice in the course of a year.

Yow!  I'm pretty sure my boots cost $89.  Then again, I don't remember what I had for breakfast.  My boots are in terrific shape, but the heels are getting worn.  I ask the salesman if there is a shoe repair person locally.  He answers in the affirmative and tells me that the store is a drop off place for repairs to Ernie's Shoes and Booze.

A trip to Lacrosse is at least a half day journey. Highway 27 from Westby and  20 minutes later ,a short jaunt down I-94 gets you to Onalaska-the north side of Lacrosse.  Forty years ago when I lived in Trempeleau County, Onalaska was a little burg on the north side of the city.  Now, it's a maze of strip malls and a North Country Buffet.

If you take highway 14 from Viroqua, 35 minutes of annoying travel behind someone from Ioway driving below the speed limit gawking at the scenery, gets you to the south side of Lacrosse.  From the south side all the way to Onalska there's bumper to bumper traffic 25 minutes through Lacrosse proper, anytime except early Sunday morning.  Fiesta Mexicana is at the furthest point south right before Mt.Lacrosse, this city's version of Vail, CO.

I am forever indebted to the Mexican bistro when  Dawn and I dropped off a truck rental across the street late one Sunday night.  We'd just moved onto the farm. I was close to near starvation.  All the waitstaff was having a family meal in the bar area.  As I usually do in a Mexican joint, I order Chile Rellenos ( spell check suggests "repellants"). If the restaurant is worth its salt, the rellenos will be a proper poblano ( really good restaurants will serve it whole stuffed with Mexican cheese).  Oh, how I wish I could eat at Casa Cardena outside of Prescott, AZ again.

The poblano is lightly fried in a an egg batter. Although they cut it flat so that it can be pre-made and quickly cooked, it is tasty enough for me to order it again.  The nachos are homemade and the salsa is spicy hot.  The waitperson recognizes us with a "long time no see" comment.  I don't launch into a diatribe about the north side route around Lacrosse, eating at North Country Buffet, smelly, fat old gummers and Jorge's vegan diet. 

Dawn is ecstatic. She finds a pair of gray running shoes. I rummage through discount pants.  For $19.95 I can buy a pair of jeans that look purposely worn, worse than the paint smeared pair I'm wearing at the moment.  I try on a pair of uniform type gray cargo pants. So what if I look like the Sears repairman.  They'll only get covered in manure.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pride Goeth In The Fall

On a lark, I look up goeth in my dictionary.  No such word. 

At the end of yesterday I went to see my library angel.  I wanted to get the take of the head librarian and her assistant about the errant cop in town. I took Mandy inside the building ,but kept her on the leash so she wouldn't bother kids fooling around after school on 7 computers in three rooms. The main topic of conversation covered the gardens.  I explained my efforts at extending the season in a half-assed way.

Kale Under a Row Cover

Kale is the fashionable vegetable for 2011. High in vitamins, the Joy of Cooking on the kitchen counter includes a recipe for lentil soup with kale. In the photograph above there's an indication of  kale's hardy properties in late season farmering.  If you look closely, you may discern a piece of ice leaning against the wire hoop in the foreground.  The ice came from the dog's water dish after a frigid night. Without the row cover, my twenty foot row of Dwarf Siberian Kale survived a covering of heavy white frost. With the row cover, I'll be eating fresh greens when other folks are buying greens at the co-op.

I promised to take my barber out to lunch as payment for a buzz-cut haircut this morning.  I'm afraid to take off my hat.  She may only get bread and water.  To conclude what began earlier as a description of a typical morning here on Blackbird Farm will continue in pictures.

Long shot of kale in a garden plot.
   While I'm at the computer, the cat is hunting and Mandy conserves her strength.

I'm busy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Space Between

Whooee! Yowzah.  Yesterday I was living on the third shelf behind the jar of Greek olives next to tofu in water.  Today I moved uptown to the deep freeze. The good news is that I double insulated the cold frame for the oregano, added an old cloth quilt cover over the kale(which probably didn't need it) and picked all the decent size tomatoes before covering the exposed vine. Twenty-six degrees  in the 6:56 am darkness. The sun's out, but I'll wait until ten before exposing the tender stuff to frigid air. 

The heavy white frost didn't trash the horseradish leaves, but the most important part of that plant is underground. I won't harvest horseradish root until next year.  Sometime I'll tell you the edge-of-your-seat horse radish story. You'll be on pins and noodles until then.  The same is true for a small bit of carrots at the far end of the field, except for the thrill ride.  I'm not sure if the Swiss Chard made it through the night. 

Close to five yesterday afternoon, I went to the garage workshop for my mason's line and measuring tape to verify the exact location of the barb wire fence on our south line, I see see a woman Yoo Hooing as she enters the back door of our house."What the hay?"  She wouldn't enter the garage proper because the paint fumes were so strong.  I'm restoring a four by five foot, wooden flag replica that originally hung on the signpost to the entrance of our road.  We replaced it with...
Old shot with a defunct camera, sorry.
The flag will hang on the front of the garage face.  

At the end of the day it makes me feel god to put nine dollars in my pocket for a potato sale to a regular customer who'd jump over a dozen hurdles to get some Kennebecs.  She picked out 12 pounds.  I said I'd only charge her for 10 but she wouldn't hear it.  In the end we compromised and I gave her a 60 cent discount.  High finance in Kickapoo Center.

Jorge's coming over with his old truck and 8 foot trailer to toss tree branches to haul to the burn pile.  I've got a few minutes to kill since he has to take one of his dogs, Chase, to doggy-day care.  Both Chase and Sam are strays he's rescued including Spunky, his three legged cat.

Since he gets most of his news from magazines and TV, he's  not heard the latest buzz going around the community.  I dropped by the Amish to give the Matriarch some Tiger Eye bean seeds for next year.  Watching the Patriarch run some cabinet door panels through his industrial size router, I wander around the workshop.  I've never seen the engine that runs the whole set-up in the small room adjacent to the main work room which is filled with drill presses, joiners, belt sanders and a table saw the size of a rural airfield.  I'm amazed when I peek in the room and read the label on the gas engine with an exhaust pipe extending out the wall.  It's  a Subaru. He also has a Ford six cylinder truck engine to run his farm equipment. I'm sure there's a Honda out there, too.

When we walk to the house and enter the warm kictchen, I give Mom the seeds and an empty egg carton.  The Patrirach jabs a finger at the front page of the local newspaper.  Scoop Daly, the local constable of police is on suspension for misconduct.  I scan the article looking for the juicy bits.  Nada.

"What'd he do?"I ask. If you want to know the deep down dirt in the community, just ask an Amish person.  I wonder if Wilma saw me pick an apple from the tree next to the gravel road near their cow pasture.  The Patriarch says,"  He was messing with the wife of the grocery store owner."    Then he adds, " On duty."

This makes me think about the space between the good guys and the bad guys.  Out here there's plenty of good guys and a share of bad apples.  In between there's a space for the rest of us.  I always thought that Scoop was a decent enough person.  Now, I wonder about his judgment.  On duty?

By the way Dawn, you left your credit card next to the computer. I'm going shopping.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Living in A Refrigerator

The Latin root for refrigerator is frigus or frigor which means cold-the dictionary didn't say which word was which.  While I'm waiting for the computer to boot up this program, I wonder why the prefix re.  Cold again.  Last week it was delightful.  Now, the weather is brutal.  There is no cold again. Just cold. As I watch ominous charcoal gray clouds on the horizon, I get the feeling that except for an expanse of trees, hills and crows gathering in the pine trees across the highway, I might as well be living on the third shelf behind the jar of olives. It'd be warmer in the Frigidaire. 

The thermometer reads 46 degrees.  Not really that cold if you're used to living here a couple of degrees of latitude below the arctic circle.  I'm hip to the old witch who cranks up the dial on the chill factor producing 20 mph winds.  I'm wearing a long sleeve T-shirt, a Carhardt flannel shirt, a fleece hooded sweatshirt and my lined L.L.Bean canvas shirt.  The Best Fertilizer baseball cap completes the farmer look. Waiting for Jorge to haul six loads of steaming composted horse manure from the pile outside my neighbor's horse corral to my mountain of compost in the front field, I mulch leaves with Ted the riding lawn mower..  I have an excuse to wear ear protection and keep my ears warm.

For bragging rights, I've got portable cold frames protecting the oregano and celery. At night I cover the celery frame with a thick, quilted moving pad and the triangular cold frame made from two double hung windows screwed together I cover with cardboard and old rugs. The English thyme gets covered with cardboard egg boxes which blow across the town road because the board I used to weigh them down is in use on the row cover over the kale.  A black plastic garbage can lid and two kitty litter pails cover other herbs. The top to an old patio umbrella(sans wood frame) keeps the last tomato plant from freezing. In addition to be able to brag that I still am gardening as fall turns to winter, there's merit to being able to pull spinach out of the garden and steam it with kale for lunch.

When Dawn wins the lottery, we'll be putting up a hoop hothouse to grow cool weather crops like cabbage, broccoli, peas, greens and such. 

Two nights ago I left the kale uncovered taking a large chance that frost would kill the dwarf Siberian Kale.  True to it's name, it survived a white coat of frost, looking green and perky today as I clipped leaves for our 1:00 lunch break.
Moles are tearing up the lawn looking for food in the dry weather.

Washing dishes I see the Pooch skittering across the lawn when a burst of wind makes him kitty crazy about blowing leaves and tumbling cardboard boxes.  He moves very quickly despite the low rider look from eating too much when I see him a few minutes later scouting the leaf pile around the silver maples.He takes his afternoon nap on the moving pad I toss into the pole shed, safe from the terrors of wild northern breezes.  Mandy takes advantage of the cold wind to chase leaves.After a steamy summer she's ready to play, sneaking up behind me and nipping my glove.  When I laugh at her impertinence, she bites at my heels.  I pretend to be scared and drop to the ground to wrassle, if you call slobbering my gloved hands and gumming the thumbs.  It's a holdover to an old glove I left in the truck which she delighted in tearing to pieces.  The wrassle ends with a wet kiss forcing me to go inside and clean my glasses.

The end of the road.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


My dictionary of English etymology says amateur is formed from the past participle of  the Latin word amare or lover.

I'm an amateur at most things, dumbfounded about others.  I have no idea why a large format picture, like the picture of cedar waxwings in yesterday's post at first allows me to click into a larger image and then, an image large enough to see lice on the bird's wings.  Minutes later, when I click on the image while editing my spelling, I get a black screen with a mid-size image not much larger than the original image. If you know don't tell me, because I love wallowing in ignorance.  But that's not what I came here for this morning.

Jack of all trades, master of none, that's me.  As an amateur artist, I've created works of art like an acrylic painting I gave my mother when she was still alive.  Titled "Jaws of Death", she quickly hid the picture of gaping jaws dripping with acrylic blood in the basement rec-room of her home outside of Milwaukee. A few years ago, I found a complete rabbit tail leftover from an owl's late winter night feast .  That bunny behind coupled  with a weathered old board, a label that fell off a serviceable straw broom left in our pole shed by Crazy Angie (a Chief Sunbird #365 broom so the label said) and a momentary burst of inspired poetry is wrapped in plastic in the pole shed.  I ran across Haiku Bunny yesterday while sweeping out box elder beetle carcasses.

Artists like me are insecure about showing people their creations.  When the santero says, "You done good." after I showed him a copy of one of his Virgin Mary bultos I carved from cottonwood root he gifted me, I feel perhaps I may be an artist.  When a woman who lives both in Belgium and Sedona, AZ (she works as a translator) purchases a plank table I made and asks me to sign the table, I think I may be a craftsman. The momentary giddiness helps to dispel my fear of being alone with this attractive, single, cosmopolitan woman in her expensive home in the new age capital of the world.

There's a creative high after a work of art is completed and goes on display. One could bask in the glory of
the moment, however, my Anishnabe mentor and friend cautioned me to be careful about carving off  too much of myself. The thinking here is akin to an artist in old age unable to create something new, relying on repetitive copies like the mystery writer who takes the same characters, a thin plot line and writes another New York Times bestseller in the alphabet series A is for...B is know what I mean.

When a Michigan tribe member and the chief counsel for the tribe drive ten hours to pick up a ceremonial drum that took me three years to make, I was thrilled that I'd made myself a niche as a white man making drums for Native Americans. I still list drum maker as my official occupation when I want to be flip.  I will always be a drum maker. By the way, I haven't made a drum in years, not counting the piece of elk hide with a hole I wanted to recycle.  That drum, although playable, is now a decorative work of art after the real artist in the family, Dawn, painted a hawk on the surface disguising the hole as the hawk's eye.  You can see it at Seven Roads Gallery  after I figure out where it is. It has been misplaced  In the meantime here's the drum.
When it comes to the written word, I'm also an amateur.  I spend way too much time searching for the right word,  agonizing about content, insecure that nobody but me gives a hoot for my thoughts. When I remember the old aphorism, in simplicity there is beauty, I'm vindicated for drinking too much coffee in the early morning.

My neighbor walks over to where I'm tossing limbs into the back of my truck on the south fence line.  He's bringing water to a feisty stallion penned in a shed.  He offers condolences.  In sympathy, he tells me about a recent encounter with the doodad neighbor who wants to fence the cornfield behind us( my neighbor's horse farm also abuts the field).  The neighbor(I'll name him Bryce) tells Rick( the owner of the horse farm) that his electric fence is crooked. He wants to install a new, barb wire fence the length of the Rick's south fence line.  Rick says, "you're kidding me," several times.  The last time he repeats, "You're shittin' me."  Then he says, "I'll send you the vet bill when one of my horses is injured by the barb wire fence.

We trade stories about Bryce and as Rick walks off he says, "I may have to throw his ass in the river." I don't feel so bad about all the curses directed toward Bryce for his anal retentiveness.  A crooked fence indeed. 

Monday, October 17, 2011


Cedar Waxwings in the backyard. Click for larger image.

Wouldja look at the color of the sky.Check out the waning moon.

Jeez.  As a reformed cursor ( curser?) I try to use words that sound like cussin' but aren't.  Shoot, fudge, sunken ditch, jeez, cripes, durn, darn, dipstick is my George Carlin list.   In a never ending quest for knowledge, I consult my concise dictionary of English Etymology for the derivation of bogeyman.  Don't ask me why that name came to mind.  Probably the same reason Carole King's song, So Far Away keeps running through the empty corridor of my cerebellum.  Bogey, by the way isn't capitalized, unless it's used as a golf term.  Both entries in the dictionary refer to a person or thing much dreaded. (Devil) . Next to Bogey(golf) it says it's the number of strokes a good player should need for each hole. The Bogey is an imaginary partner ? ?  I thought a Bogey was one over par.  Then again, I haven't played golf since Joe Garry and I got kicked off the Brown Deer golf course for arguing.  Ever since, I've subscribed to Mark Twain's theory that "golf is a good walk spoiled."

I'm turning over a new leaf.  It's not avoiding cliches or puns in my blog.  It's adding content more frequently without whining about how much work is out there waiting for me. The work load has diminished dramatically but I'm depressed that the growing season is over.  Shelling dry beans listening to NPR is my fun of late. In the fall the bogeyman follows me around like the dog.  The loss of fall color, impending cold weather, filling the iron jawed monster in the basement to keep the heating bill from increasing the national debt, gunshots echoing off the hills in yet another Great American Manhood Spectacle of slaughter makes me want to get out of Dodge on the next train..

Thanks to open season on pheasant, it's been four years since I've seen ring-neck pheasants walk underneath the fence on the east property line.  The sound of a cock pheasant skrawking ( my own made up word)  in the tangle of woods down by the river is just a memory.  The summer we lived in an apartment on the outskirts of Madison we'd see 17 turkeys walk the field below our patio.  That's because one cannot hunt in the Madison city limits.  Here, the turkeys are smart enough to stay well off in the distance away from the bogeyman's pea shooters.  When I do see one fly over Moore Road going over the ridge to my Amish friends, it's startling and impressive that such a large bird can fly. Yes, I'm pontificating. No I'm not opposed to deer hunting, just the bullfeathers that accompanies the season.  

Dawn's camera fits nicely in my L.L.Bean lined shirt-jacket.  I can take it with me to catch  Kodak moments that arise without warning.  Mandy and I walk the corn field perimeter behind our house.  When we near the neighbor's farm, the horses in the corral near the highway all walk over and line up by the electric fence. Standing side by side to gawk at us, I  can almost see a cartoon balloon over their heads as they gossip about these intruders. I'm not clever enough to figure out what they're saying.

I wish I had taken a shot of the coyote lying dead on the highway in front of our place. A coyote getting slammed by a vehicle is strange enough, but I shudder to think it may have been one of those nights Mandy was sleeping out in the breezeway with the door open to her backyard pen.    

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Thanksgiving is coming.  That means Dawn will have to work at the old folks home. Jorge will snivel his way out of celebrating any holiday including one that's absent of religious overtones, save being The Feast of Gluttony.  Besides, he's gone vegan. That means spending hours roasting a tofu turkey.

I started out wanting to title this post SQUANDERED.  Then Squanto popped into my mind. I kinda like the way the name rolls off my tongue.  So I changed the title to accommodate some tongue rolling. It's what Republicans do these days. The fact is I squandered my time this morning.  I went to the computer before breakfast with a half cup o' coffee laced with clover honey.  Screw the extra calories. It's Sunday. Let's celebrate.Yahoo. Can I say that without copyright infringement?

The cat came up after seven to announce the day. He's running a bit slow of late. Then, he jumps in bed.  That wakes up the dog, who yodels her , "I want to go out." (I swear when she yawns in the morning it sounds just like the word "out"). She jumps in bed. Sneezed seven times getting enough dog snot over the flannel sheets that I decide it'd be best getting her outside before she pees on something.  Of course I give her a hug first because I'm  glad she back to normal ( yodeling, snorting, jumping in bed, harassing the cat...) It's been over a month she's been under a doctor's care for Lyme disease.

Yeah, so I wander over the net checking  favorite blogs wanting to be able to write like those people like I useta be able to write years ago when I drove a '60 Pontiac between Sheboygan and Milwaukee, driving with my knee, jotting down quips in a notebook in between wrasslin' with nine year olds in the ghetto.Pretending I'm Kerouac. Squandered. Squat. Both are similar. So here's what you get.

That black line isn't in the original shot. No idea why it's there. Must be some reaction to downloading a picture larger than the closest town. I'll do better soon. I promise. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Waiting For The First Load of Wash

Are we going, yet?

 In the beginning. You should see it now.

If I wrote, "In my day..." I'd be typecasting myself as an old fart who spends his days ruminating on the past.

Let me rephrase that.   "In a galaxy far, far away."  Heh, heh.   No, strike that. Let's try again.   Third time's the charm.  A long time ago there was a comedian named Henny Youngman.  While I'm waiting for the picture to download, I go to the bathroom, trim my nose hairs, check to see if Mandy's still in her dog bed, look for the cat, turn the keyboard upside down to see what gunk falls out and wonder, What is a Henny?  Who'd call himself Henny?

Henny Youngman's is most famous for beginning his monlogue with, "Take my wife..."  You're thinking he's going to launch into a description of wifely things.  Instead, he follows with, "Please."   

The uninterrupted line is, "Take my wife... please."  Bear with me while I explain.

Dawn ( my wife) shoots pictures with her new camera.  She has no idea what the icons means and little experience with digital photography.   In my fervor to go back to blogging this morning, I download all 61 images she's taken since December,2010.  The image of the garden is so large, I had time to revise my last will and testament. If you double click on the image you may be able to enter the picture ala a Harry Potter movie. You may understand now, how I dug a half tons of potatoes from this garden.

Originally, I intended for this to be a short travelogue. Then, Mandy and I would hit the road while I'm waiting for the washer to complete its cycles. We'd go to Dent and Bent just down the road a piece for discounted juice.  I'm  hoping that in the load of unsorted boxes full of dented and discarded items, some beyond expiration date, that  they acquired new stock of Mexican espresso.  They sell packages of the fine ground coffee for $2.  In the regular store it's $3.50 and up.

The nice thing about  a discount grocery store run by the Amish is that they are unfamiliar with exotic cooking items..  Special marinades, hot sauces, nori rice wrappers, garbanzo beans, Raspberry Chipolte sauce, sell for ridiculously low prices (5/$2.00).  One of the elders put up a sign that said buy one get one.  A daughter minding the store had no idea what that meant.  At the old teacher's desk near the door, I watch her charge me full price for both cans of beans.  She obviously never heard of the expression, buy one get one free.  I had a difficult time explaining to her the expression.  She thought I was pulling a scam.

 The washer has completed it's cycle. I'm still here. The dog is still sleeping.  The sun is going away along with my dream of painting trim frame around a newly installed window on the rear addition. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hoops& Dolts

This isn't one of those attention grabbing techniques, you know,  where someone says, Oh, please look at me. I'm so ...( insert proper adjective for terminal dumbness) Puleeze, won't you tell me I'm not so incompetent . I want you to make me feel better by telling me I'm not a dolt.  Throw in a few compliments by the way because I've thrown in a long thin 6 lb test line to fish for consoling words.  Really. I'm not doing that. This is merely a description of events, since I've been away so long. I need this.It's a form of therapy for me.

I'm fending off  Salvatore Pucci, the cat who wants to make a flying leap from floor to desk top and then to my monitor where he can gaze al-Qaddafi-like on the world below. Pushing him off my lap for unnecessary squirming, he curls up like a dog at my feet. Then he squirrels his way to the left of the keyboard.  It is essential  that he alert me to several important things. 1. I am your best buddy. 2. I am really photogenic lying there on the butcher board desk top. and 3. By touching my left hand with his paw , I want you to acknowledge my grunt, nuzzle and long groan and allow me to perch on the computer.  If this doesn't work, I'll make it really difficult for you to write with your left hand.

He's made the rounds outside.  He's mooched additional food besides his usual fare of  raw chicken liver
( 1/2 portion-he's a on a diet) and crunchy dry cat food.  He's supplemented his diet with a fresh caught deer mouse which he either imported into the house or discovered in the back of the pet food cabinet in the kitchen.  After perfunctory growls and hisses, he's relieved of the mouse which is in that semi-limp, comatose posture all captured mice assume as a life saving technique.  Knowing full well that said mouse will suddenly spring to life and run into the deep reaches of the Christmas wrap remnants/paper towel cubby hole under the stairs, I risk a scratched hand and take the mouse to the garage.  In the garage I take the smallest ball peen hammer and render the mouse really done-dead but not smushed all over my work bench. Then I can deposit the critter in the lined waste basket to ripen until dump day.

Prior to El Gatto's escapades, I decide enough is enough. My seven year old dinosaur of a digital camera I'll toss on a growing pile of ink-jet printers and a 20 year old DVD player strewn on the office floor. I'll install the software from Dawn's new digital camera and add some of the fifty odd pictures she's taken  since Christmas last.  To accomplish this I must first add a cable to connect camera and computer via the tower USB port.  I have an existing cable from my dysfunctional Canon digital.  I assume that nothing is ever standard, therefore I must disconnect old cable and reconnect new cable.  It's dark at the rear of the computer tower resting on my butcher block desk top.  In the entryway I keep a flash light for my evening walk with the dog. 

Short pause here to move a flicking cat tail from keyboard and to push a furry paw further away from the CAPS LOCK key.

I undo the twist tie around the new cable, unravel it, unplug old cable, lay new cable next to old cable and disconnect several plugs at the rear of the tower to access the same port.  God help me if I connect the camera to a port designed solely as  "video out"  and fry Dawn's camera innards.  This is child's play to even Mountain Man Johann whose sole form of entertainment during his youth was gazing up at a light bulb on the ceiling after the REA came through and electrified farmhouses.  Not so for me.  I have bi-focals.

To see clearly with bi-focals one must tilt one's head back so that anyone standing next to you can see your nose hairs. A passer-by would assume there is something wrong by the sneer like expression on your face.  I by pass the nose hairs and sneer and remove my glasses to press my face in the maze of wires.  Making sure that the plug is inserted correctly with the flat plastic inside part of the plug matching the rectangular slot, I connect the cable.  Wow. I did it.

I insert installation software software in the tower. It whirls and hums.  I'm half way to Nirvana with fright, fear and fulfillment. I look at the cable I've installed.  It's not possible that my hands were that dirty to smudge the white wire cable.  Ah, shucks.  I installed the cable that was originally there by mistake, leaving the new bright white new cable lying on the desk top. Crap.

Comparing old cable end and new cable end, I discover they are exactly the same.  I twist tie the new cable carefully to disguise the fact that I've taken it out of the box.  I'll return the software .  Dawn will never know I've been tinkering with her camera or software.
Now for the big one.

I bypass the new Yahoo front page and go directly to blogger.  Since the last time I've added a post to my blog, there have been changes to the blogger network.  It will not let me access my account. I don't remember my password.  Seven hoops later and a lucky guess and I'm back home.  Seven roads to home is more than a co-incidental name to the blog.

I luxuriate in the minutes and hours.  The past few weeks have been a frenzy of catch up and clean up.  Days and weeks of dry, warm, fall weather allow me to complete most of the painting, some of the farm work and even a few hours in clearing my south property line for the dolt who's fencing the cornfield behind us.  Mid-afternoon it begins to rain. Hard rain. River flooding rain.  The water that gushes down Kickapoo Center Lane is stained with leaf tannin. I've mulched most of the fallen leaves into fine particles that I  spread around the compost pile to keep my red worms from freezing in below zero weather.  Shirofumi organic edible podded soybeans are dry in their cardboard boxes on a table in the garage. I shell one box, of pods which yields over a pound of soybeans.  At $18.50/lb. of seed I'm hearing cash register bells when I look at the harvest.

I shell beans while listening to NPR.  I learn that before Columbus, there were no earthworms in America.I listen to the guest speaker tell that white laborers imported from Europe died of yellow fever or malaria. One third of the population of Philadelphia in Benjamin Franklin's day died from yellow fever.  African blacks had an immunity to the diseases. I listen to a man describe the process of naming a product. Swifter, Google, Kleenex are a few clever examples.Oh I am getting smarter by the minute.

Mandy, the dog pictured above, with what appears to be a banana in her mouth is sleeping on her chair in the living room.  I've become an expert in baking exquisite dog treats which I smear Amoxicillin to ward off the effects of lyme disease.  With a face like that how can I resist a slurp across the face as she jumps on the bed at dawn to show me I number one in her book.

Darn. the sun is peeking out from this morning's fog and haze.  Back to work.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall colors have peaked in Kickapoo Center. It's downhill from here. I cringe at the thought of four months of black and white.

The Amish patriarch, Jorge and I travel to Hillsboro to find parts for a manure spreader and greenhouse polycarbonate panels(clear plastic 4X8 insulated panels that will make the roof and sidewalls of my future greenhouse).  The colors along highway 82 from Lafarge to highway 33 which runs through Hillsboro are incredible and different than our hillside display.  Seems the farmers in that area decided that a mixed deciduous woods was an important ecological diversity worth preserving.  Even now, locals in the area are harvesting hardwood trees.  The logging trucks ply highway 131 which runs past our house with all too frequent diesel engine brakes and fumes. Our hillsides are a mix of muted yellows and an occasional stand alone hardwood of red or brown.  The dairy farmer down county highway U mentioned that in the 70's the hillsides were almost denuded.  The Kickapoo wreaked havoc with spring floods and the "gummit" stepped in and decided to build a dam north of Larfarge.  400 families were bought-out and evicted.  One old grandmother refused to sell and stopped the Army Corps of Engineers dead in their tracks. There's a park dedicated to Grandma.  Now the area is called the Kickapoo Reserve and is a scenic, unspoiled area save for one large concrete tower that was to be part of the dam preserved for the future in memory stupid government and ignorant people who value the greenbuck above nature.

If I didn't have enough to do in the race before winter's icy grasp relegates me to pissing and moaning in front of the computer with nothing to do but dream about getting my hands dirty in sandy loam, the dipstick neighbor decides to purchase the ten acre corn field behind us.It was a small part of a bankruptcy sale.  Being a poster child for Anal Retentives Anonymous and a huge fan of Ron Paul, he decides to erect a fence around the huge ten acre parcel.  I'm picking beans in the front field. I hear a commotion in the corn field and decide to investigate.

"Wisconsin law requires that I construct a fence on my property," he tells me.  "What law?" I reply.  "After the corn is harvested I'm going to run cattle in this field," Mr. Dufus replies.  He speaks of bulldozers, chain saws and hiring itinerant workers to clear the fence line between our property and his. I retain an attorney and become an instant expert on section 90 of Wisconsin Law which requires that "good fences, makes good neighbors."  It also says that I'm responsible for 1/2 the fence:material costs and labor.

Cut to the chase.

Dawn has to work on Saturday because the retirement home is hosting a quilt show and benefit. I work on the western portion of our south fence line hauling out tree limbs and removing brush that will interfere with a four wire barb wire fence.  I'll haul all the detritus to a burn pile in our front field.  My @#$ F-150 pick-up which I'd filled to the brim with large limbs clicks and will not turn over.Click. Click. Crap.  What's that quote about the best laid plans of mice and men?

I gaze wistfully at all the fallen leaves.  My newly repaired Cub Cadet riding mower I affectionately call Ted does a wonderful job of mulching leaves to fine particle.  With the lawn cart in tow I carefully line perennial herb gardens and start to cover the compost pile.  Two years ago my son-in-law gave me a box of red worms.  Ah shucks, red worms. You shouldn't have. I exclaim. They are eating machines, turning vegetable waste to compost in weeks.  BUT, they won't survive in a compost pile that freezes in minus twenty five degrees.  Hence the leaf mulch.

I'll wait until the wind dies down to mulch and take my trusty Stihl weed-wacker with the nylon blades and clear the other half of the south fence line.I quit after the blades jam up five times when I hit weeds the size of small trees, when red nylon rope winds the reel and I have to disassemble the head to unwind the mess and finally when smoke starts to rise out of the cutting head.  I'm dirty and smelly.  The sun block I use on my beardless face is covered with bits of weed and grass.  I shave my beard in the fall when I no longer worry about 12 hour days in the sun forcing me to spend six hours at the Mayo Clinic undergoing mohs surgery.

 It's time for a beer, I tell the kids.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Which Indian Gave Us This Summer?

It looks like it going to be a week of  Indian Summer warm days.  I'll be trying to remember the words to  "October's bright blue weather" a poem that Lucy Ladwig made us memorize in 5th grade. Fall colors are peaking with a few stand-out-alone Maples shouting, " look at me, look at me."  I never thought I'd be describing a tree as drop-dead gorgeous

Work days are slowing down.  That means after a short lunch, I snooze is a lawn chair in the garage for 15 minutes with the cat on my lap.  With dusk just after 6:30 pm, I can't claim 12 hour days as an excuse for not blogging.  The nap is necessary.  One, I'm low-energy and need a recharge to be able to dig up the last 10 feet of spuds.  The other, like yesterday, I anticipate a customer will pull up in the middle of things-I've got a paint brush full of "pineapple citrus" halfway through the front face of the garage- Armin drives up wanting onions and somebody to listen to his spiel about the chiseling local hardware store.  Then another guy drives up in an 88 Oldsmobile and wants to talk about his potato harvest.  He also wants 100 pounds of Kennebecs.  Turns out he's been dumping wood ashes in the garden over winter and it reduced his harvest.  Not good for potatoes.

My word processing skills are diminished.  Typos abound. Thank God for spell checks.Ten days ago my 30 year old son went to emergency with a fever and other associated symptoms.  At the hospital it was determined he has a aneurysm of the aortic valve and an enlarged heart.  Mid-week last he underwent open heart surgery.  From 7 am until 3 pm the doctors replaced the valve and did repairs in three incisions.  I spoke with him briefly on Saturday. His voice was till hoarse from all the tubes down his throat.  He's at his mother's house recuperating. 

He might as well be light years away in distance, because he's been overwhelmed with phone calls, pre-operative visits and now wants to just be able to heal.  It's a helpless feeling on my part.