Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dazed and Confused

Apologies to Led Zeppelin.

My local bank looks pretty much like any bank in an old western movie or in  It's A Wonderful Life. Tombstone, Dry Gulch and Cedar Rapids all had banks like this one designed by Fritz Schmaltz, architect and barber extraordinaire.It's a solid, narrow, two-story brick building.  On one side there's a empty lot which enabled the bank owner to install a night depository chute.There's wooden platform in front of the chute so short people don't have to bring a step ladder to reach the handle of the pull out drawer.  On the east side of connected to the bank is a seedy looking cement block building. The blocks are painted white. It has a homemade wooden door with hasp lock and one window.  In the window is a sign that warns the premises are protected by C. H. and R. Security..

Last year the bank owner installed two plastic/glass security windows inside for the tellers.The word on the street was that he was getting tired of being robbed.   Now, a serious thief has to stick the "gimme all yer cash" note in the window slot.  Since the bank teller can't fit a bag of money through the slot, she'd have to go to the access door in the lobby, unlock it and hand over a cloth bag of bound bills.  That's assuming the bank owner was too cheap to install bullet proof glass/plastic. There isn't enough business for two tellers to staff  two windows. If it gets busy Lissa runs from one window to the other. It opens at 10 in the morning and closes at two.  Fridays it's open from 11 until five.

When the Kwik-Stop changed over their ATM to one that charges a fee, I opened an account at the bank.  Yesterday I had to make a deposit in my checking account to be able to pay the Amish workers who finally finished the barb wire fence on our south line.  The local bank is a boon for the Amish because it's too far to drive their buggies to the big town.  The Amish patriarch says it takes two hours to get to Viroqua which is twenty minutes away by automobile.  Besides, the town council has been debating an ordinance which would require the Amish to scoop horse poop or attach a manure carry bag to the horses' rear end.  The bag spooks the horses and stopping to scoop the poop has it's drawbacks.  The Amish have threatened to take their business elsewhere.

The local bank faces the expansive central square of  town. At one end is a playground with swings, a wooden castle to climb in and around and concrete block restrooms.  The other end, closest to the main street has a gazebo and a Veterans Memorial  with a concrete bench in front of marble markers to ponder the folly of war.  Town workers have placed an assortment buck-ugly plastic Christmas figures which light up at night. The street around the square is double-wide. People angle park in front of the bank or library.  On the opposite side of the square is a motley assortment of converted store front apartments, a firehouse turned into only God knows how many units and single family houses. One house is painted bright canary  yellow after being remodeled.  A few are so nondescript that I can't recall what they look like.  I do remember the white house that used to be a butcher shop or dressmaker's store.  The constable of police who's now on suspension for philandering with the thrift shop owner and I are talking on the steps of the library.  He's telling me that the occupant of the white house with the false front is has a problem with drugs.

I angle park in front of the bank like everyone else.  I have a blank re-call petition behind my car visor.  Jorge does his banking here, too. He enjoys sharing local news and gossip with the bank teller. I leave the recall petition behind in case Jorge has already approached Lissa.  After the prerequisite complaining about my Schatzki ring and Lissa's back trouble, I ask,

"Has Jorge been by asking you to sign a recall petition for the Wisconsin governor?"  She says,

"No I haven't signed one. If I sign, it angers people on one side or the other."

Snut Farley Looking Dazed and Confused- copyright Seven Roads Gallery 2011
I guess the bank teller decided that it was easier to tick me off than one of the local nubs. Or even worse. She didn't want to let me know that she is a die-hard Republican. I take the blank petition to the library and ask the director why the assistant director didn't sign the petition.

"Oh, he's off in his own world somewhere," she says.  I take that to be a mild reproach for someone who always has a snipe and gripe about the guy.

She rambles on about the heating bill, wait for it, $47 last month for the three room single story building which she tells me, "by law we keep it at 68 degrees".  In between humming a non-descript tune she thumbs through a Newsweek which lists the top Republican and Democrats in Washington and how much they make.  I get the idea that conservative leaning Newsweek wants to make the statement that most of the Pols are fat cats.  I'm dismayed at the growing disparity of wealth. 


Sunday, November 27, 2011

La Nina

County map of drought conditions across southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin as of November 22 2011.
November drought statistics in Southwestern Wisconsin.
According to the NWS our area has been abnormally dry. About a month ago, I cut a ragged piece from our 100 foot white fabric, row cover. It was more or less a square.  After I sowed some leftover, high traffic grass seed I found lying on a shelf in the garage, I covered the bare patch of hillside lawn with the row cover.  In the coldest part of November, we experienced some twenty degree nights, I was concerned that the freeze may have killed my newly sown grass.  I pulled out a wire staple holding the cover in place.  The grass had barely poked through the dark brown compost which I used to cover the grass seed. Oh well.  I got lazy about checking the new grass.  Until today, that is.
Joy of joys.  The grass not only grew, it flourished.  Right there in the center of the photo is my new grass.

So what?  Big deal, huh?  While it isn't earth shaking, front page news, I'll tell ya it will alter the course of events here on Black Crow Farm.

Recent weather has been mild-in the 40's to mid 50's.  It didn't rain until Friday night, last.  A few puddles. here and there.  It wasn't enough to turn Pooch, the cat into Bill The Cat with spiky cat fur as he hunts along the south fence line. But my grass thrived and flourished under the row cover.  Think about it.  Most anything here just under the arctic circle hibernates as November approaches hard winter.  I haven't cut the lawn since late October. That new grass, however, grew two inches or more.

The last major garden AHAH experience came at a dinner party at the neighbors.  They are serious organic farmers, albeit with a renegade streak. The son of one of the party-goers was talking about the effects of  red spectrum light on tomatoes.  Back then this was far reaching stuff.  In the Lee Valley  garden catalog for 2011 you can buy red plastic mulch to encourage vigorous growth of tomatoes.  It is now common knowledge to serious gardeners.  It was a mixed blessing for me in that I usually sowed 75  tomato plants.  We didn't lack a supply of tomatoes.

If indeed weather conditions continue and a predicted La Nina fizzles, white row cover could produce better spring and fall crops for this guy.  In the same National Weather Service news directive there was a map of the U.S. showing severely affected parts of the South.  Current weather patterns have caused a smaller soybean harvest, a minimal to non-existent peanut crop and will hit us in the pocket book at the grocery store.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fools 'n Clowns

Sunset in Kickapoo Center

Only a fool forces awkwardness upon himself.
 Rahul Bhattacharya
The Sly Company of People Who Care

Before I awoke, I'd been struggling with fitting the town chairman's wife into an old fashioned, wood and tin steamer trunk. She was dead in my dream, but I guarantee you, she's alive in real  life. The symbolism puzzles me.  The town chairman told me in his perennially gruff voice, crusty from throat cancer to take out her extra clothes, "so ya ken get the lid down." I was packing her things for the long journey along with the body. Strange. What did I eat for dinner?

A young woman is dispensing orange juice / lemonade from inside a clear,round plastic ball which turns upon a couple of rollers, like a rock tumbling machine, sloshing the ingredients so they don't settle to the bottom. We're at an old-folks home.  She offers me a slice off the tip of odd looking plant, actually, a long thin stem with a bulb like a rat's nose at the end.  We cut the bulb end off and sniff the contents. Woo.Very strong. Very potent.

The smell's a combination of very old cinnamon you'd find crusted on inside of the lid of a spice jar and a whiff of the smoke stack from my American Flyer train which belched white puffs of smoke from a tablet I'd drop down the chimney.  The steam engine smell, I learn, is powdered copal, the same thing priests used in their incenser.  In my distant memory, a white bloused, black skirted kid who played hardball with us behind the church, carries the brass incenser hung from a chain following Father K moving the smoke to and fro.

Copal is the resin from a tree in central America, mesoAmerica as Google says.  Most Colombian copal actually comes from the Andes in South America. Aged copal resin becomes amber, a color and a name.  When I was a peddler, I sold copal in cloth bags from a company in Taos.  People bought it for the sweet tang when one dropped a small boulder on a glowing charcoal ember.  It was said that the smoke took prayers to the heavens. People would come into the store asking, "What's that smell?"  The wag in me would tell them,

Musta been Leroy, the UPS driver.  He eats too many beans.

The young thing offering the slice of heaven tells me it's an aphrodisiac.  She wears a thin yellow sundress with spaghetti string straps. I hope she's telling the truth, because I'd love to...

Only a fool forces awkwardness upon himself.

In the novel Rahul goes to a medical office for a yellow fever shot.  The receptionist he once trysted with is no longer there.  He briefly considers looking her up, then reconsiders, thinking.
Only a fool forces awkwardness upon himself.

I've been telling myself to get off my ass and continue the story of Rainbow and Rosie. I grow weary of the hundreds of detective novels in an alphabet or number series. I cannot find anything but another stereotypical tale of  Harry The Hammer, private eye, which take up whole shelves at my local libraries. The literary diarrhea enables the author  to spend the winter in Tuscon, have three horses, five dogs, three chickens, and ten cats. Look at the slow progression of pictures of Stuart Woods on the dust jacket of his novels.  He's one of my favorite authors(?) who includes a note at the end of his book telling readers basically- he doesn't need any more ideas from his adoring readers. Then I run across a novel like The Sly Company of Strangers Who Care. The imagery is exotic.  The prose beautiful. The language, stunningly so foreign that you repeat the words out loud to be able to understand them , for example,  bai is boy.  Nuf said.

Only a fool forces awkwardness upon himself. 

I'd like to describe Rosie's famous topless haircuts.The eye strain is excruciating as she tells you, " Keep you head still, brudda."   Or make up more lies about Rainbow's carelessness sitting too close to a campfire when someone tossed a river rock into the fire which explodes sending out shrapnel. She was and is a gorgeous brunet. Then I'd have to tell the whole story.T he good , the bad and the smutty.  No one would believe it, unless I'm rich, famous, a drunk, liar or politrickan or all. One is actually provable.

When one writes for public viewing, every Tom Dick and Harriet (Rosie's real name) has an opinion.  Some I value for their insight, humor and honesty.  You know who you are, so don't stop.  Others are like the comments I read in a news blurb in which the Mexican government decided to kill 50,000 feral pigs who sleep in the U.S. and roam across the border to feed. When did the news media feel it important to include the vox populi in reporting the events of the day?  Is it because it is no longer news?

Discounting the LOL's scribblers out there who cannot capitalize an I, substitute U for "you", C for "see" and lapse into a teenage electronic version of patois, because Mrs. Ladwig didn't stress grammar or usage in middle school. My grammar school English teacher was Ophelia Spargo, bless her 80 year old heart-may she rest in peace up there with the other English teachers in heaven along with my mother.  The only thing I remember about Ms. Spargo is the coughing fits that forced her to leave the classroom.  Sad.

What else is there to do on a rainy Saturday morning?  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Salvatore Pucci
The cat shot is a quick download, small format that takes a few seconds. We need one more cat picture here.

I watched him scramble after a rodent yesterday.  First, he digs furiously in the lawn. He found a hole which, I assume, belongs to a vole. Then he walks away  "Ask me if I care?"  The vole is tricked into coming back to the surface.  Voles are like that, curious.  In an instant The Pooch is back over tail to the hole in a one viscous leap at the vole.  The vole escapes to brag to his buddies about fending off a monster tiger.

I found a dead vole by the back door the other day.  Black to gray fur, sharp,pointy nose, stained brown incisors-not at all like the cute mice the cat finds out by the lawn shed with their rounded ears, brown fur and white under-body.  This time of year, one of my favorite stories to read to the kids was The Church Mice At Christmas.  Of course the mice are poor because they live in a rectory-whatever that is.  The main cat in the tale is a benevolent cat who helps the church mice.  Read it sometime. It'll restore your faith in mice as something other than assistants to Republican politicians who nibble away at our sanity.

Oh, but I have strayed.

Cookup.  Guyanese expression for a bit of this, a little of that.  It can be used for anything from food to a person's heritage, like mine.

So I'm on patrol of the grounds with the Perrito. I  spell it wrong in a Spanish language dictionary because the spell checker underlines it in red, tricking me into thinking my command of Espanol is lacking  Perito is a town in Argentina not a small puppy-my usage.  The 50 foot white pines have littered the back yard/field with cones.  I'm trying to decide if I should get out Fred and mow the lawn-the lazy man's way of cleaning up the cones-or if I should rake them into a pile. Mowing in November tells one's neighbors this guy is a bit off.three bricks shy of a load.  Fred will disintegrate them into mulch, but I just replaced the blades, sprayed the undercarriage of the mower deck with penetrating oil for his long winter nap. I decide to rake after filling a kitty litter pail with cones for a fire starter or possible Christmas wreath decoration. 

Disgruntled Wily Posing as Amish
At the far end of the 10 acre corn field is an Amish covered black buggy, a tethered ragged horse and an Amish guy with a dot of orange on his head.  That would make a good picture, I tell myself.  But the Amish don't like their picture taken.  It's hunting season.  It's not safe to walk in the woods without blaze orange.  He's not in the woods, however.  He's installing a gate between the field behind us and the far corn field, the one that Principal Felty owns.  Dipstick Dan, the neighbor, installs the posts for the gate to open into a thicket of scrub trees instead of the far field.  It figures.

While I'm downing a lunch of elbow macaroni and tuna fish, Mandy barks at an approaching stranger.  It's the Amish man with orange wool cap over his straw boater. He needs to borrow a drill bit.  "And while I'm at it, can I borrow a drill?  I drill him with questions.  "Is this a new Amish fashion statement?"  This Amish man has never been exposed to sarcasm, "I don't understand what you mean."  He doesn't laugh when I explain.  He tells me he also wears an orange vest when he's hunting.

I've run out of ingredients for this cook-up because I'm thinking,

If that rifle fell while I took the picture of a stuffed coyote with a straw hat and knit cap, I'd  have some esplainin' (Ricky Riccardo)  when Dawn gets home.

The rifle is always loaded, 10 shots in the clip, nothing in the chamber with the safety on.

BUT, did you remember to flick the safety?  Did you pull back the bolt and load the chamber?

My daughter-a city slicker-has no experience of rural life.  She hasn't seen Mandy tree an obviously, addled raccoon in broad daylight. She needs to listen to the NPR segment of This American Life about a woman attacked by a rabid raccoon hysterically calling her husband from their rural driveway on her phone only to have him laugh at her spunky sense of humor. Or follow her story of trying to get a $3,000 rabies shot from a rural hospital or to have the doctor explain that the rabies shot should be given within twenty four hours of the bite while the hospital insists she bring the so-called rabid raccoon in for testing, which takes about a week.

I'm going outside with the rifle to reassure that I'm not Charlton Heston.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm Not Sam

If it weren't for this hound, I'd be a Couch Potato.Make that-Recliner Recluse.  Mandy is the queen of -The Look. She works it well.  Sometimes I can tell when its an urgent, puleeze let me out look.  The other day I mixed in some left-over soup in her dish. One half hour later she's pleading with me to let her out. Her frequent lip licking is the kicker. Outside she promptly barfed, ate some grass and barfed again.

By rough estimates, the front field is over an acre. It's not square..  Various landforms and obstacles like the frame for the onion drying shelter, an old stump, the compost pile, a 100 foot row of  red dogwood bushes, a line fence, nine garden plots and the pole shed create a narrow dog run at the foot of the berm that leads to the highway.

Mandy loves to run.  Seeing her stretched out in full stride keeping pace with a vehicle on the highway along the fence line gives me a certain pleasure of seeing a dog run free.  She wouldn't be happy in a city lot, although she'd compensate. I'd take her on long walks in the nearest park. Our need to be outside coincides.  At night, I'd be reading near a fireplace, if we had one.  Dawn's studio has access to the chimney and the former owners used a wood stove there.  Fear of fire made me give the studio wood stove away to the town chairperson.  I've thought about getting it back, but after he died, that thought disappeared with him.

On our nightly excursion, I see things I'd otherwise miss from laziness or the warm comforts of a wood furnace in the basement.  Last night, I watched a cattle truck loudly pass by on the highway.  Yeah, big doins', huh?  Think again.  Over Freymiller's hill I hear the cattle truck approach from a distance. When it crests the hill, it's lit up like a tree in Macy's department store. Red and yellow strings of light outline various features of the cab and the trailer.  It roars by and the kid and I watch as it, the noise and the light circus, subsides, then disappears around the broad 1/2 mile sweep of land to the north and east.On clear nights the first bright stars in the sky, the Milky Way, the full moon and occasional Northern Lights are a free spectacle not to be understated.

The night before last, I walk toward the corn field that was once the town of Kickapoo Center.  Instead of hearing ghosts from the hotel operated by Robert Wilson, I can hear coyotes cavorting about a hundred yards away. They sound like teenagers with a six pack of beer parked by the river.  We used to walk there frequently, until the dipstick new owner, Principal Felty, put up a plastic barrel with a No Doin' Nothing sign taped to it. He has big "Kontrol and Land Baron" issues.   At first Mandy voiced her disapproval loudly and furiously barking at the white barrel which looks like a K K Klansman standing in the road without the pointy hood.  Tonight she barks in a much, much different manner.  It's a deep throaty, menacing bark.  It surprises me because I've not previously heard this bark.  When you hang with a dog 24/7 you become aware of her vocalizations.  There's one for barking at birds, one for-someone's in the driveway.  There's the pissed off yelp of being teased to distraction or the bark of annoyance when I pretend to step on her paws or put two fingers together to snap her on the rump. Tonight, it's stay down there or else.  Jorge tells me a dog got eaten by coyotes somewhere south of our area.  We conclude it must 've been a yipper, those tea cup puppies that don't know their miniature size.  Mandy would be slightly outweighed, but she takes no guff.

Jorge has two mutts rescued from the pound or from starving while on the run.  Sam barks all the time. He's not allowed to run outside on Jorge's 95 acres because he's a dumb mutt.  Unlike Mandy who knows where the food bowl is and stays put on our five acres as if an invisible line is drawn at the perimeter, Sam would be off in a lark.  When he realizes he's lost, he'd be unable to smell familiar landmarks because he has no experience in the local terrain.  Besides his parents were low class mutts( my grandparents thought the same of my father).  Intelligence comes from the mother, and like my first ex-wife, whom Dawn calls "the dumbest woman in the world", Sam's mother was mentally challenged.  Jorge claims Sam barks at me because I'm afraid of him.  Sam knows intuitively  I'd brain him with a baseball bat if he tried to bite me again, like he did as I approached the white picket fence to enter Jorge's front yard.  I should wearing a sign that says, "I'll beat you into next week if you bite me again.'  But Sam, can't read.  When I hear Jorge shouting at Sam to ,Be Quiet! inside the house," I know the dog must be deaf, also.  The only way Jorge can get him calmed down is to cage him. Anyway.

Sam tries to bite Mandy.  She's surprised by the attempted nip of  her nose.  She stuck her snout up through the fence for a whiff and got insulted.  Mandy backs off three feet, barks for five seconds ( Don't ever do that again, she says) and turns around and tosses grass torn loose by her back feet.  The dog's version of giving somebody the finger.  Good for you , girl.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Strong, gusty winds from the south make the thirty degrees displayed on the north side house thermometer seem more like twenty degrees.  I'm walking the dog in the event she rides shotgun on my afternoon trip to Lacrosse.  Mandy lives for road trips.  A short ride in the truck from the drive way to the woodpile is no exception.  The cat, on the other hand, dislikes wind. It's either a reaction to the noise it makes blowing through numerous species of conifers or that he gets cold quicker.

"I thought I told you to leave him alone," I tell Mandy.  The cat is stretched on the bed sphinx-like. His tail is pounding on the quilt.  Mandy abandons her blankie for a romp in bed with Pooch, the cat.  The two are like children, only with more fur.  The first thing in the morning, the cat races downstairs ahead on Mandy. He lies in wait for her behind the island counter.  Mandy is hip to his tricks and descends the steps more slowly.  She stops midway on the stairs and waits for him to spring out at her.  There are a dozen variations to the game.  The Pooch's favorite is "counting coup".  Like Native Americans who considered touching your enemy and walking away a show of valor more difficult than killing him. The cat will bounce off the dog's shoulder and bound away.

Wood-henge is my uncompleted greenhouse.  Lack of money, bad weather and busy carpenters have slowed my spring plans for starting plants indoors.  Yesterday in Wal-Mart I stopped to ask a friend who works in the garden center for a few tips on raising sweet potatoes.  Seventy some year old Matt and his wife are competent and successful growers.

"Oh, I'd didn't raise any this year," he tells me.  "Shoot," I mutter.

"Where do you get your stock?"  I ask.  He tells me most seed catalogs carry sweet potatoes, but I know for a fact the ones I deal with are sadly lacking. Like a lot of gardeners, he covets his sources. "Do you plant whole potatoes or shoots?"  I'm thinking of the jar of sweet potato plants I got from the Amish Matriarch one year.  My lack of knowledge and a weed filled plot gave me fingerlings.  They were disappointing to look at and were ignored until I found a moldy box of them in the summer kitchen.  I wondered if the stock was faulty or my growing methods in error. 
If you examine this shot, behind the bush and adjacent to the woodpile is the first location of an early spring cold frame.  It correctly faces south, however, I forgot about the silver maples when leafed out will shade the cold frame.  That was garden lesson number 32.  I rigged up a growth chamber in the summer kitchen which you can't see, save for the window that faces south above the wood pile.  A jerry-rigged glass and plastic box with a grow light and a heating pad produced many plants, but damping off-a fungus disease caused by too much water-plagues my results.  Growing vegetables indoors creates uniques circumstances.  Amish greenhouse growers, once the plants are started, need to bring down the temperature for the vegetable plants to encourage stocky stems and hardy plants.  Their hot houses filled with hanging baskets and flats of garden flowers have incompatible temperature variables with vegetable plants.  More and more the Amish are switching to plants that produce more profit.  Four packs of vegetables that sell for $1.00 or at the most $1.25 aren't as profitable as a hanging basket which can bring $12 to $20 each with a minimal investment in time and materials.

The same year I created a hot box indoors, I moved my young plants to a cold frame outdoors, repotted them and they did well in the garden. Too well.  That year I couldn't toss out cabbage plants I'd started.  I planted all the young cabbages and hedged my bets against early cold weather and tunneling moles by starting additional plants in the ground from seed.  We ate a lot of saurkraut.

For me, this is a tough time of year.  Used to being busy, it's too early to order seeds, too late or too cold to work outside.  I am fortunate that warmer weather two days ago gave me a window of opportunity to turn over the corn garden.  It's unlikely that I'll get the kale patch or the chard garden turned over.  I look at my gardens as works of art.  I stopped calling them "my pretty" after the wicked witch of the north dropped a silver maple twice right in the middle of my garden and a year later tossed in a flood for fun. 

I'm twiddling my thumbs hoping for progress on the greenhouse.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Afternoon Morning Report

May 15,2005
I got waylaid.

For those snarky snipes out there it doesn't mean getting laid along the way. I wish. 

I started some soup.  Because I added barley, it will take a bit to simmer.  "Gollee ( Jim Naybors style) look at the time," I'm thinking.  It's almost two pm.  I glance at the dog.  She looks as if she's moping.  A quick check of the spelling of moping takes me to the definition of moot ( of little substance) and away from the way I thought I'd spell moping, with 2 P's.  That's something I need to do ( get Mandy outisde) before the day ends a little before 5 pm. along with adding firewood to the woodpile behind the garage.  After the first snowstorm, my Husquvarna will have trouble getting from the woodshed to the backyard. Besides, the dog likes to carry sticks of firewood in her mouth.  She likes to carry her weight.

I want to describe the morning in succinct ( brief) terms. Earlier in the day, I wander around the yard, noting little details and checking the condition of the few remaining garden vegetables.  I moved the oregano cold frame to the sand pit where the onion drying tent stands most of the summer.  My experiment to to keep an herb alive through the coldest part of the fall/winter has become an obsession.  In the shed where I keep lawn tools, I stored overhead garage door panels which we replaced previously.  The garage door had 1/2 inch Styrofoam insulation that will fit over the glass of the oregano cold frame. To get the insulation out I have to destroy the door.  I need a hammer and a wunderbar.  This occupies most of Wednesday afternoon.

The panels nicely cover the oregano cold frame glass and are held in place by two, 100 year old glass church windows which will eventually part of the new green house.As Mandy races cars along the berm by the barb wire fence, I remove one side of the panels.  The oregano looks well.  Everything else is lying flat, forlorn and frozen after a 19 degree morning.  The kale-drooping.  Chard-sad.  Even the deeply mulched sage which I hope to over-winter is sagging badly. The corn plot which I slow tilled yesterday to bury cornstalks and vegetative debris is frozen solid.  The Pooch has to hunt for a soft spot to poop.  Celery in it's own glass enclosed box looks like a weeping willow.  I hope it will stand tall when the sun warms the frosty panels of glass.

In my wandering and musing I notice grapevine wreaths hanging in the pole shed.  It's almost Thanksgiving. I need to check out the lights on the wreath.  I toss the grapevine wreaths on a piece of plywood used as a table in the garage.  Extension cords hang at the four corners.  I plug in both wreaths. Nothing.  I decide to write a piece about the need to learn to speak mandarin after the Chinese elect one of their own as President after they buy the Constitution, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, The White House and most of the United States that isn't already Chinese, shipping it all across the ocean to erect a Plasticville version of America from my Lionel Train set.

Scratch that.  I'll do a bah-humbug piece.  Scratch that, people don't want their holiday ruined just because yours was terminally weird.  I'll search for my copy of the Albatross Man At Christmas and do an annual recitation of a classic I wrote while still a peddler in downtown Milarky.  Nah, scratch that. Why ruin it  for kids still into It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street, Charlie Brown, The Christmas Carol and Frosty The Snow Man.  Besides I kinda like the version with the original Scrooge instead of Jim Bacchus doing Mr. Magoo.

Hey, my soup's ready.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Amish Humor

I need a dose of humor. It's certainly scarce around here.

I'm standing at the front counter of my local liberry prefacing my remarks to my 85 year old library angel. "I don't want to sound old," I say. 

Helen, the library director, was severely injured in an automobile accident years ago.  It's caused her pain and  misery. She has to rely on a cane when walking. She walks with a permanent stoop. I'm whining about a few maladies.  She looks at me and  gives me a knowing smile when I say,

"I'm going to sound like a geezer complaining about my lumbago." 

She replies, "Yeah, I'm in pain almost all the time."  I forget what she said after that which I should remember because it would enlighten me in ways to cope.  But I don't.  Too much rolling around in my brain.

I'm going to a gastro-enterologist in Lacrosse for a consultation.  My favorite occupation-cooking and a second favorite-eating- is now a chore.  My medical provider says that severe allergies have caused my esophageal sphincter to tighten causing  food to get caught in my craw. To keep from choking, I keep a glass of water nearby.  Everything seems to compound the problem.  Bread-forget it.  Broccoli, a nightmare. Brown rice and tofu are regulars on my plate.

If I don't get in an argument with the doctor from Franciscan Skemp/Mayo, I'll be scheduling an outpatient appointment to have my throat stretched.  Apparently it's not uncommon, the throat stretching, that is.  The arguments-endless.  Like crazy girlfriends, I seem to attract quacks.  My last encounter, for example.

Dawn calls the surgeon's office the day after my hernia surgery. In the conversation with the nurse, she explains some side effects of the surgery.  Nurse Rachitt says, "That's really odd. I've never heard of that. You'd better bring him in." Sitting is an experience in pain, notwithstanding a 25 mile trip to the clinic located in the hospital.  Dawn drives with both feet, mind you. Left on the brake and right foot on the gas. I  wince when she gets above 25 mph over bumpy country roads.  In the consultation with Dr. No, he says my reaction is quite common.  "But your nurse said..." Dawn mutters.  Dr. No says, ""She doesn't know anything." 

This is the guy who charged $330 for a 5 minute appointment in which he hands me a comic book magazine YOUR HERNIA AND YOU, takes a ball point pen and points to a diagram explaining why I have a hernia.  "Any questions?" he says.  The same surgeon's son treated Jorge for a life threatening heart condition.After a cursory examination, he tells Jorge that he has to admit him and take some tests.  Jorge asks a few questions, the most pressing is, "What about the cost and my insurance?"  The doctor says "screw the insurance." Jorge signs himself out.

It's been weeks since I've visited my Amish friends.  They took a trip to Minnesota to see the Patriarch's brother.  In the kitchen the Patriarch tells me he bought some land while they were visiting in Minnesota.  "Oh no, you can't leave," I moan. A daughter comes from around the corner with a glass Ball jar in her hand.  I don't pay attention because they're pressure canning chicken while I sit at the table.  She says, "Here it is."

The ball jar is full to the rim with brown loam.  The Patriarch chuckles.  I groan.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Miner Indiscretions

The image suggested by the following words from a novel I'm  reading underscores a theory that a good writer is similar to a painter.  The author wrote in part, 

"He searches for indiscretions like a miner panning for gold." 

I haven't heard from Rollo in years.  The last I'd talked to him is on the front lawn at my Amish friends farm. He's picking up chicken's he ordered from the Amish.  The conversation is polite.  It goes nowhere. I'm appalled when he previously  mentioned flirting with one of the Patriarch's daughters as he sat in their kitchen enjoying conversation and coffee.  I apologize to the Patriarch for introducing Rollo to the Amish.  Ever one to be networking,  I introduce him to the Patriarch. Rollo is looking for a source for organic meat.  He considers himself to be a gourmet chef. 

Actually, Rollo is a musician.  He plays gigs with his wife in small town bars and local dives.  He drinks too much, has an inflated view of himself and is often lonely and depressed.  When you talk to him , you notice his head  visibly trembles either from excessive drinking or an early onset of Parkinson's disease.  He's not that old.

Always one to latch on to oddball people, I accompany him on a journey to a forgotten destination.  As we pass by a farm on County Highway P, he points out a sign in the front yard.  The owner of the farm has copied the ten commandments on a signboard, hoping to impress passers-by with her piety. Rollo recounts  stopping at the farm. He walks up to the woman who owns the place.  She's raking leaves.  He goes on a diatribe hollering at her,

"If you really believed in the ten commandments you'd be better off putting up a sign to end the war in Iraq."

The sign remains.  No sign to end the war in Iraq or Afghanistan follows.  Rollo succeeded in impressing someone, like myself, of his terminal craziness.

Mountain Man Johann used to live in a cabin on the property adjacent to Rollo.  MMJ tells me Rollo came over on the weekend instructing him,

"It is Sunday. I want it quiet.  Do not play loud music, entertain noisy friends or disturb my peace."

Rollo told me that when he saw a carload of Jehovah's Witnesses drive down his road, he forced them to turn around and hurriedly exit when he ran toward them cursing and shouting in a loud voice. Opinionated, loud, brash and egotistical are his better qualities.

As I write this I wonder who's the miner, myself or Rollo?      

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Madison Briefs

Yesterday, we drove down highway 14 to the state capitol.  The hour and a half trip winds through a number of small towns like Spring Green , near Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin home called Taliesin, a Welsh word for shining brow.  FLW is best known for his Prairie style of architecture. If you live in a ranch style home, thank or curse  FLW . Arena, Black Earth, Mazomanie and Cross Plains are the other whistle stop towns with two stop lights, a cheese factory or bait and liquor stores, car dealerships and farm implement dealers.My youngest came for a visit from Phoenix and brought her husband.  It's been years since I've seen them.  We lunched at the Great Dane on Fish Hatchery Road and went to my favorite Asian grocery store.  It's called Yue-Wah. They specialize in  food from the Middle East, all over Asia and Mexico.  Five pounds of Jasmine brown rice sells for $2.69, for example.  It's the only place I can find Thai coffee.  This morning, I doubled the amount of water so that the coffee laced with sugar( I use honey) didn't pour like molasses. My daughter's husband stuck a pound can of Arabic coffee in my paw as we stood outside the grocery store rummaging around in our bags like kids with Halloween candy.

That's my son reflected in the window of a store on State street. He's the one who had heart surgery three, maybe four weeks ago. It's something I'm trying to forget, but great to see him with his new main squeeze, a terrific woman and friend of my daughter.  She's a night duty nurse in a Phoenix hospital working brutal 12-14 hour shifts.  They seem well suited for each other and as a Dad, I'm hoping she doesn't break his heart ( no humor in that statement).

State Street is partially closed to vehicular traffic and runs from the capitol rotunda to Bascom Hill on the opposite end.  The street is packed with pedestrians. The woman staffing the information booth tells me this is normal when the Saturday football game is out of town.  If you put a dime in a meter off State Street, it buys your four minutes.  Across from our parking space on a side street, there's a restaurant called Fugu. My daughter's husband who's Hispanic says, "We won't be eating there if the place is true to it's name." I don't ask how he knows that Fugu is the art of preparing and cooking a poisonous blow fish.

Traveling to Madison reminds me how culturally deprived I am living in this area.  I live for the peace, serenity and natural beauty, but sometimes I dearly miss being able to eat breakfast upstairs at the Sunroom where I first was introduced to a Depth Charge (coffee with a shot of espresso). It's mid-November in Wisconsin, mind you, and the outdoor seating area of the UW Brat house is packed.  It's a relatively mild day but the wind chill factor forces us'n to put on jean jackets over sweatshirts and in my case, an L.L. Bean chamois shirt I bought myself for Christmas last year.

Brat-Boy's on the sidewalk drumming up business for the Brat Haus. Behind him people are checking out his buns. The woman is asking him if he's hot.  He's giving her the "two thumbs up" .  I didn't stop to ask him what he meant.  I am in search of colorful pictures, of which there are plenty.
My banana bread is due to come out of the oven.  Dawn wants to go to town to find a shoe caddy.  Me, I already got a Chevy and just need to get out of Dodge. I already hauled some wood from the woodshed to the basement, ran over mole tunnels on the front lawn just to piss them off, took out the garbage from my garage workshop because the dead mice I dropped in the white plastic trash can were starting to smell and uncovered the oregano cold frame. That was today's excitement.  It's almost four pm and it'll be dark soon.  Happy Sunday to y'all. Hope the sun is shining in your neck of the woods. Oh gosh. I left off the briefs.

I couldn't convince Dawn to show her support for Bucky Badger by buying  the red pair.Who couldn't love a store that has a book called, I Love Bacon and another dedicated to the art of kissing. I'm going back soon.  Too bad the farmer's market around the state capitol is over for the season.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Paco and Julie at the MIA
I'm really fond of this blurred picture of Paco and his friend Julie.It was taken in an elevator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  The MIA is an amazing place with a variety of exhibits ranging from Chihuly glass sculpture in the main lobby to an antique automobile. I'd show you the auto, however, every attempt to download pictures from my file is met with an error message. Frustration looms large when this computer balks.It affects what and how I write.  Outside, it's snowing again. More of the same and it's only November.  Last night's full moon will remain unseen as it, too, was blocked by a faulty phone line or some other glitch.  It cannot be the size of the file because I tried a variety of pictures.  No matter. Screw the effing computer, there's always glue, paper and pencil.  Send me a dollar and I'll give you a copy.  Reminds me of the bumper sticker I spot on a passing pick up truck years ago. Left side- I NEED MONEY BAD.  Right side- SHOW ME YOUR BOOBS.  The driver was of the 100 hits school of thought. It goes like this.  If you walk down a long, white sand beach, or any beach for that matter, asking  women to go out with you, an imperfect stranger, 99 will tell you to take a hike.  One per cent will say, "Oh, sure. Why not?"  You can just show me the money, Thank you.

When we crossed a Minneapolis street on our way to a crowded liquor store, a man slumped against the wall of a storefront does a double take as Julie walks by in designer jeans. A cartoon double-take.  Look once, Jerk your head to the left, and again, slowly gawk with open mouth.  In England they'd call her a stunner. It is Saturday and Minneapolis bans the sale of liquor on Sunday.  Like an all-you-can-eat buffet people  overindulge. They purchase more liquor on Saturday perceiving a shortage of booze the next day.  The city fathers encourage hording with a ridiculous law.  Inside the store, reps from wine makers are giving out smaples.  The correct spelling is samples but I rather prefer smaples.  The festive atmosphere and a dry Sunday work wonders for their sales.
Alas, Paco and Julie are no more.  

Paco works nights. Julie works the day shift at a chicken processing facility.  Julie wants Paco to quit his job as night auditor.  They argue.  Next door to their second floor flat on the artsy-fartsy side of town not far from Eat Street, a guy is renovating a single family house.  Julie, lonely at night, turns to the neighbor for aid and comfort. Paco moves out.  The next time he hears from Julie, she's calling because she was arrested for DWI. The relationship is finalized when Paco learns she's caught herpes from her lover next door. Sad. It doesn't end there. Julie gets what she wanted all along.  She marries. 

I amazed at how well Paco takes the news.  He's neither resentful, angry or upset. At last word he's avoiding his favorite pub because of a woman he dated tends bar at the same.  He breaks it off for reasons he doesn't explain.  The bartender begins stalking him at work and at home.

This could have been a full moon shot between the Norway pines on the east fence line. I would have written about the full moon antics of seniors at the retirement home or Dawn's recipe for Chipolte Chex Mix with dark chocolate.  She left some for me to sample during my day.  Sneaky Pete knows I can't resist semi-sweet dark chocolate.  It's the only chocolate with some health benefits according to Jorge. Remember ladies, the way to a man's heart... I'm being sarcastic and telling you this because tonal inflections are notoriously absent from e-mail and short blog pieces.  Besides, I'd never use the word "lady"  since it comes from Old English Lede which means loaf kneader.  The expression is so ingrained in our culture that it's similar to a well known landmark in Phoenix called Squaw Peak.  Both are slurs.  The biker guy who calls his wife, "The old lady"  is referring to her as his loaf kneader.  Is it the same when a speaker addresses his audience as ladies and gentlemen?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Before , After and Now

At the front end of the grocery store the bubbly cashier asks, "Did you find everything."  I know better than to ask where they keep thus and such because she'll never know.  I'll get the blank stare.  If she asks for help from one of the front end supervisors, it will be Phyllis, a middle aged woman who walks with stoop and shuffling gait. Phyllis does nothing but shuffle-back and forth between the cashiers. That and a saunter to the break room is the sum total of her experience of the store.  Ask for phyllo dough and the response is, " Fee-Lo dough? What's that?"

I didn't see Marion in any of the lanes.My first encounter with Marion, a former schoolteacher and 16 year veteran of retail groceries is her comment about the out-of-season tomatoes I am purchasing.  "Two thirty four a pound is pretty steep for cardboard tomatoes," she proclaims.  I'm astonished at her frankness. Marion and I banter, a lot.  "Howyre doin' ?" I ask.  "Well, OK, I guess," she says. "OK is better than the alternate," I declare. "At least you're not dead." Hardly stimulating conversation but better than bubbly. I hate bubbly. 

Her face has a reddish tinge.The color of her nose would qualify her to lead  Santa's sleigh It's an unusual medical condition, but not roseacea.She dyes her hair a shade below blond with a tinge of auburn.  She's  anywhere between 50 and 75 years old.  Marion is a pip.I like pips. In a store I'll always choose the cashier in the lane immediately to the right of the prettiest cashier. It's my proven system to get out of the store quickly, except if I choose a pip lane.  Then, I'll forget to take all my groceries because of the banter. 

On this day, Dawn is behind me, which tempers Marion's wit, somewhat.  Dawn doesn't understand Marion's reference to getting laundry done in Lacrosse. From previous conversations, I know that Marion drives to the big city to clean her grandson's place and wash his clothes.  Later when I explain to Dawn she asks, "Where's his mother?"  I answer with two statements. "He's twenty years old. He may be paralyzed and in a wheelchair?" I know the next question from Dawn.  "You didn't ask?" she wonders.  I do not like to pry into people's lives.  Most of the time I just don't care.

The above photo is the start of today's weather. White flashes appearing on the right are thick, heavy snowflakes.  The kind that down power lines and break off tree limbs.
The preceding picture was taken after breakfast.  I know I was going somewhere with this train of thought, but a phone call from Mountain Man Johann interrupts my creative genius, derailing the train.  The road from Johann's cabin to the main road is a  muddy half mile, two track path, deep with ruts, like roads at the turn of the century.  A friend's grandfather once explained that tires on the old model T wore out quicker on the sides than on the tread bottom.  Johann's road lies on the edge of a cornfield, unpaved, without any gravel. He likes it that way.  Says, it keeps the Riff-Raff away. He's not going anywhere today, except by phone call. I'm first on his list.

Presently cars on the highway pass by very slowly because of the wet slush.  A single county truck spreads something on the highway.  I can't tell if it's salt or liquid calcium carbonate. The phone rings again.  Jorge wants to know the weather conditions in our area. He's going to drive to Door County from Milwaukee.  I tell him about the snow and slush,warning him to drive carefully.  I don't envy his drive across the upper half of the state. His information about upcoming weather is that we may see sixty degrees in a few days.

I call a friend in Arizona. His birthday is today.  I want to tease him about joining the "Over The Hill Gang."   His wife answers the phone. She drives daily between Sedona and Flagstaff.  Yesterday she didn't have to work because interstate highway 17 between Sedona and Flag is closed.  Snow.  Harvey isn't home.  He's in Colorado.  He doesn't own a cell phone, she tells me. When he retired, he tossed the cell phone.  He's not a recluse, however,a cell phone to him is like wearing a watch in my opinion..  I don't want a time monkey on my arm.  I'd ditch the cell phone monkey in my pocket, but then I'd not be able to call Dawn for free and tell her to bring home bananas.  Most people I know will run to answer a phone.  It's Pavlovian. Not me.  When I was single and carefree looking for trouble in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, a local mon demonstrated another truism.  "Watch this," he says.  He curls his index finger in a waggling motion.  There's a young woman in the near distance.  She see the gesture and begins to saunter over.  "It happens 100% of the time, here," he proclaims.  I decide that the next time I'm in Wal-Mart I'll try the gesture on various strange women.  I don't mean weird women, just ones who are unknown to me.  I'll give you a full report. Later. I may need bail money. With Wisconsin 's new concealed carry law and a recent amendment that decreases the length of instruction and training  in use of a weapon, I could be looking down the barrel of a Glock.  These mid-western ladies have lots of room for hiding  a pistol. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kangaroo Skin Drums

The Hiker copyright 2011-Seven Roads Gallery

The Makah tribe of Native Americans live as far west and north as one can travel in the United States.  I travel across the country to Neah Bay, the main settlement of the Makah.  I'm looking for a drum maker named Greg Colfax.  My ex-wife and I  are staying at the only motel in town.  The floor sags. Walking across the room is like walking on a piece of plywood too thin for my weight.  It's like walking on water. Given the proximity to the ocean and the Northwest Coast rain forest climate where moss hangs in huge conifers lining the road, I am most likely walking on water under the floor.  After a warning from a tribal elder to avoid so and so, because he wasn't honest, I thank this person for the advice. I've been given directions to Greg's home.  Colfax is carving something in his living room.He's well known as a carver, drum maker and canoe maker  There are wood shavings strewn over the carpet. He's trying to light a fire in the wood stove with a propane torch.  I make a note of this trick the next time I need to start a fire in a wood stove.

There's a large biker type man sitting in an easy chair adjacent to the wood stove.  He's wearing a leather brimmed hat like the ones that golfers wear.  Colfax introduces him as, my "friend Tiny".  I note the size disparity and wonder after previous warnings about avoiding certain tribal members.  Greg mentions that he has a source for kangaroo skins.  I commission him to make and paint drums sell at my trading post.  He makes two sets of drums. The paintings are executed in traditional Northwest Coast style colors.

The nature of kangaroo skin is that it's light weight and extremely durable.  The hand drums I make from deer, elk and cowhide are laced together with 8 laces across the frame connected to a perimeter lace woven through the edge of the rawhide stretched across a 9 or 12 ply laminate wood frame.  Colfax uses only two laces.  

The rule of rawhide drums is the thinner the skin the higher the pitch.  Goatskin bohrans(Irish drums) have the highest pitch save for some odd thing out of Africa made from squirrel or muskrat-some strange critter. Playing bodhrans in a group produces overtones that sound like angels singing  with the drummers.  It is a stunning effect.  When I played my own Lightning Bolt painted elk hide drum from Thunder Studio from California at a memorial service for Aids victims, people were moved to tears because of the resonant deep throaty sound bouncing off the walls and ceiling of the church where the service was held.  The kangaroo skin drums are the exception to the rule. Light weight, thin skin and deep resonant voice. 

The story of the painting on the three drums is as follows.

Colfax is in Colorado. I have forgotten the nature of his visit.  He is performing in front of an audience.  A man comes out of the audience after the show and relates a story I have named "The Hiker".  

The hiker is walking through a national forest.  On his sojourn he spots a wolf. The first drum pictures that the wolves spotted him long before he noticed he was being followed.  The hiker attempts to follow the wolf.  Both hiker and wolf have pained expressions ( my interpretation)  regarding the encounter.  After a considerable walk the man finds himself in a large open clearing.  He notices wolves encircle him at all points of the compass.  In relating this story to Colfax, the man who experienced the encounter with the wolves says that for the period of time he was surrounded-he doesn't detail the exact amount of time-he experienced a trove of emotions from abject fear to extreme elation. Then without a visible signal, the wolves trot off.  The hiker man is deeply humbled from the experience. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Boomtown Follies

Mandy, my dog, props a leg on the back pillow of the couch.No, not that. She's lying on the couch.  She looks up at me with flattened ears. "Oh, no. He's gonna do something weird."  When one is bored there's no end to weird. I cannot explain nor illustrate because my wife reads this blog.  Imagination is a good thing. 

All that's left of the 2011 garden is oregano, kale and celery.  I should dump the oregano out of the pots, shake off the dirt from their roots and hang them to dry in the summer kitchen.  I can't harvest the rest of the celery because 1). We'd have no fresh celery and 2). I'm researching the cold tolerance of celery. The kale just won't quit. After a recent slush storm it's fairly obvious that really cold weather is hiding around the corner.  When that happens, the row cover will freeze to the ground.  I have to decide. To uncover or not.  Harvest all or lose it to winter's icy grip.  There's always dry beans to shell..

I ask Mandy, "What do ya wanna do today?"  Her ears perk.  Visions of riding shotgun loom large. If we head to Dent and Bent, Mandy gets to watch their viscous miniature chihuahua barking at my car.  It's not big enough to pee on the tires.  At the Amish lumber yard, the black, brown and white mutt there is minuscule.  I back away from the yard carefully because I can't see the little rat.

To illustrate that I once had a life, I bring you an excerpt from  Clever Words Bring Forth No Buttered Turnips. There's no date on the cover. Just a picture of a stuffed rattlesnake. A clue about the time frame is that Roger Gavrillo ( pen name) is doing the writing.  Bert Bubnick is narrating.  Bert ( a fictional character) is part of the Witness Protection Program. One last note.

The photograph is second generation taken from a scanned shot.  The old Epson printer was dying, hence the yellow lines across the document.  I found it in one of my late mother's books. Back in the thirties it was apropos. It still is.  An ass and an fat thing with big ears who can only agree on a single thing- an antacid. I have no idea why it is included in Boomtown Follies

Since I began this tale, I have lost my desire to recreate the past.  Suffice to say that living in Arizona had one benefit.  Compared to the rest of the population in my small town, I was young.  Just a kid by comparison.  Here, I'm old.  Besides, there are no nightclubs, just farmer bars.  One either has to hire Mountain Man Johann as a bodyguard or prepare for the Elton John's song, "Saturday Night is All Right For Fightin'.

In Boomtown Follies I recount the story of a night out with my neighbors, Tuck Bartlett and his wife Windy.  We drove into town to hear a band called Grateful Fred.  Fred is the drummer for the band and lives with a woman I call Cinderella. She worked for the art gallery/co-op with me.  Cinderella eventually gets fired for theft. Fred eventually dies from alcohol related causes and cancer.  The lead guitarist is the manager for the furniture store on the main drag.  He and his wife fight nightly over his many indiscretions.  It's plenty entertaining for us'n.Here's short snort from my description of the action.

Don plays keyboards and sax. He drives in weekly from Vegas.  Paul plays sax with a wireless pick-up so that he can wander through the club.  Billy and Nancy are bumping and grinding on the dance floor. Lenny walks into the men's room and tries to pick a fight with Marty- a friend of the band who sits behind us.  

Lenny snarls at Marty, "I don't like your T-shirt."  

Marty replies, "Sorry. It's all I had to wear tonight." 

Lenny says to Marty, "Let's step outside. You bumped into me and didn't say 'scuse  me."

Marty isn't drunk enough to rise to the bait.  Lenny waits until Marty goes outside for some "snoose", whatever that is. I know it isn't snuff.   Lenny grabs Marty around the throat. I watch the action through the front window. With all the hair and beards, it appears that two bear cubs are wrestling in the parking lot.  Lenny and Marty room together along with a guy named Shmitty.  In their absence Shmitty slides next to Durla. She's married to the bass player in the band.  She used to be married to someone else but he was killed in a drug bust.  Durla used to be friends with Debbie who tends bar at the Laughing Coyote.   66 year old Shmitty wants Durla to put in a good word for him with Debbie. He doesn't know that Durla is furious with Debbie for a one night stand with her husband.  It's not pretty.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lest We Forget

Mandy in deep snow 12/12/2010
I'm in the basement throwing a log or two in the wood furnace when the phone rings.  That is an amazing feat in itself, since the basement could double as a fallout shelter. The walls are deep and made of poured concrete.  Earlier when the Santero called from AZ, I was sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch.  The phone never rang.  Several minutes after he called, my phone does it's voicemail alert.

Jorge is on the line asking, "Have you looked outside?"  I told him I'd just returned from the liberry.  "It's snowing," he says.  I took my wet windbreaker off the clothesline for the second time and trudged to the woodpile in the backyard.  Looks like I'll need more heat tonight.  I'm kinda tired of three layers inside the house.  When I'm not moving around, it seems chilly watching TV.

The Week magazine says coffee is a cure for depression.  It's too late in the day for coffee, although caffeine has no effect on my wife. It's also too late to take a photo of the greenhouse.  Before the rain/slush/snow started Jorge and I put four, fourteen foot 4'X 4's in the ground.  They serve as end beams supporting the roof.  It only took a half hour to drop the beams into the holes, add concrete and level the posts. Elmo previously dug the four foot  holes.  The really hard part is trying to ignore the constant stream of whistling, humming and grunting noises that come out of Jorge's mouth. 

I have no experience with post and beam construction. I'm at the mercy of Elmo and his Amish crew to get back here. My phone call to his message taker and a quick trip to his house( " Is Elmo here? I ask a kid in the yard. No.  " Is he working?"  No. "Will he be back soon?"  No.) is unsuccessful. Dawn  says she noticed the darker beams ( green treated lumber immediately as she drove down our road.If'n I'm lucky this greenhouse will be up and running by spring. I hope.  In the meantime, all you people who live up here near the arctic circle, brace yourself. I'ts only a matter of time. Put on yer snowshoes.