NASA is giving away some cool Mars Exploration posters, thought I might share!
NASA is giving away some cool Mars Exploration posters, thought I might share!
Oh, my poor yard up in town, where we dream of the cabin. I cannot do without growing things, and for years I have sought fresh apples and peaches and such right off my own trees. That should not be so difficult, should it?
I finally pulled the dead apple and peach trees out of these pots and left them unceremoniously on the curb. Last summer I went to Lowe’s seeking big pots for these trees and all they had (that I could afford) was these foo-foo plastic ones. I foolishly left the saucer attached to the bottom. How was I to know that sauce would keep the whole thing from draining? We had a hard rain one day and the potted trees filled to the brim and stayed that way until I got another look Monday evening after work. By then, a cold front had moved in a chilled the place way down. I tipped the pots to drain them, but still left the darned saucers on.
After the second occurrence, the trees were goners. I at last forced the saucers off and the water pouring out stank. I got large nursery pots from a greenhouse supply place. Here are my new trees bought at the less than half price end-of-summer sale at Stark Brothers (great place). I got two Idared Apples, a couple Zestar Apples, a Starkspur Ultramac and a Sweet Starkrimson Cherry. I did have to put the unplanned cherry in an old pot, but with NO SAUCER and fresh dirt. I got bags a Miracle-Gro soil for all and put a peat dressing on top…they’re going to do GREAT!
I only wish my trees and bushes were as undying as my idealistic hopes!
Walking around the woods, the honeysuckles are about over now. They have beautiful flowers and strangling vines; woe unto the bush they get near. Another rampant Asian import! Of course this one is pretty, as are many of the others. As choke-worthy as they are, few folks have them in their yards by choice. As I have many acres of dense woodland as my front yard, I let ’em rip.
I remember as a wee child dodging the honeybees servicing the honeysuckles on the narrow woodsy footpath we used to taken to the Winn-Dixie. The massive display of flowers and the heady scent made Ma hurry (hay fever) and made me linger. I never worried abut honeybees becauseI mowed the grass with a gas push mower since the time I could reach the handle, and I always went barefoot unless in school or church. I counted 17 bees stepped on one summer. My feet didn’t stay swollen for long at a time, not enough to impede my rambling in any case. I digress.
I don’t recall where I heard about it from, but it was probably a book – go figure. I recently checked the Audubon Guide to Eastern Wildflowers and that authority actually mentioned it. Just pluck a flower and pinch off the green trumpet tip. Suck the honey out! I reckon that’s how they got their name. The process was a novelty for me, as the amount of honey in one of those is miniscule. Still, how many jillion folks go right by these vines every durned day and never dream of tasting them?
I have a confession to make. I didn’t start cleaning up because I couldn’t stand the stacked and jumbled-tumbled boxes of plunder that impeded the use of the great room, that wouldn’t let me even reach the windows for a breeze. I did it because of a premonition.
I had a powerful dream that I was in a shack with no lights, on a dirt floor. I was making a small fire to heat some meager food. I was sitting cross-legged, wishing I had taken precautions against the monster tornado that had demolished the cabin and all I owned. I was so sad that years of my accumulated history and the beautiful things I had were gone. Tornado, a danger I should not ignore.
Twisters are not uncommon in Kentucky; the vast swarm of them that destroyed Xenia, Ohio in the 70s also ripped up Cherokee Park in Louisville where I grew up, and tore up part of the Fairgrounds. I won a science fair because of that! The old-timers around here talk about them. I put in a basement as a safe place in the event of one. I respect their might.
I came to believe the danger was real and imminent. I started packing crammed load after load of stuff up to the house in town. I took thousands of books, appliances, tools, clothes, DVDs and CDs. Up went the vacuum cleaner and the musical instruments Up went the dried fruit, the sewing machines, the cloth, the painting accoutrement, the pictures on the very walls. And I waited, worried about my beloved cabin.
A month went by with no catastrophe. I would not let myself doubt. Maybe I’d been given time to move my stuff? Then came the storm I’d waited for. The sirens went off in town and I got Ma to the basement. Over the radio we listened intently. More warnings. I didn’t care about the sightings near me in town. A tornado was spotted along the Green River in Muhlenberg County headed northeast. That aimed it at the cabin. It dissipated. Then a spotter reported one south of Hartford, going south toward the cabin. Which direction would it come from?
Several homes just a couple miles from me were hit. I drove down with trepidation. I looked closely for damage along my route. The cabin was safe. I felt the danger was over. Relief flooded my being.
Gee whizz, with the cabin cleared out I had the perfect chance to clean it up before I hauled it all back! Am I upset because the cabin didn’t really get destroyed? Give me a break, please. I am grateful! And now after years of neglect I am well on my way to making it into a place I’d be proud to take pictures of.
Walking about the woodland Saturday, I some noticed milkweeds along the driveway ditch which brought to mind a story. It’s a story that gives a little idea of what Dad was like.
Dad was sitting out with Mom and me in the side yard late one summer. He had a Falls City beer in hand and his green work uniform on; that’s all I ever saw him wear. I believe he left the matching green cap inside that hot day, but the Vitalis kept his hair neatly in place.
Finishing his Kool Mild, he looked over to me with a grin. “Hootenanny (yes, really), go in there and get a bag and bring it out, a big bag.”
I raced in, eager to participate in whatever he had planned. I reached behind the Warm Morning coal stove in the kitchen and selected a folded grocery sack. They were made from nice, heavy brown paper with a flat rectangular bottom and straight sides for those of you unfamiliar with the pre-plastic trash days. I ran back out and presented it to him with a conspiratorial grin.
He didn’t take it. “Go over across the road and fill that about half full with milkweed pods.”
I said, “They ain’t ripe yet!”
He said, “Just go get ’em.”
I did as bade, harvesting the plump green pods with dexterous 9 year old fingers. We lived on a white gravel road, had a white gravel driveway that segued into our white gravel sitting area under a tall poplar tree. Inured to the sharp edges, I ran back, barefooted as always. You only wear shoes to church and school, right? Dying to see that he would do with them, I passed them over and stood waiting.
“Go put ’em in the car and bring me another beer.”
Oh dern it! Would I ever know what they were for?
Fast forward a couple months. We were all in the living room watching Hee-Haw. In a commercial break, he laughed and told Mom the rest of the tale. For it to make sense, you must know he stopped by Ron and Herm’s beer joint after work every day and came home in time for supper. We pick up the story after supper, TV time. Well, here it is:
“Remember I took that milkweed up with me a while back? I emptied the bag in the heat pipes when George wasn’t looking. They set in there all this time! I got there just in time today to see white snow flying all over the damned place! He was cussin’ and havin’ a fit and it was in his hair and everything!” He laughed and nearly spilled his beer, then added, “It looked like it was snowin’ up a storm!” He looked so satisfied.
I was so proud to have done my part! Then Buck Owens sang ‘The Race Is On” or something and the event became the past. Maybe sometime I’ll write about what I did with the ant-covered dead roof rat…
Gedunk: Snacks. I my experience, there was a vending machine amidships that typically only had licorice coins and Near Beer left by the time I got there. By the end of the cruise, even that was gone. I’m not big on gedunk, never have been. At least not since I was a kid and got excited over Cracker Jacks. They have a sailor on the logo, you know, in his uniform with the Dixie Cup hat. That spiffy outfit is called Cracker Jacks. Which came first?
I needed to ask a technical Manager something. She was out for a week. I went to her next-in-command. Not around. They had travelled to Europe for training. Now, I do most of my training online. However I learned their trip would coincide with a City Fair. Our company has a facility there, so our folks would not party alone. Good times had by all, no doubt.
Boondoggle: A trip taken ostensibly for a good and righteous reason, but sure to be filled with music and beer on the side. An expert Boondoggler returns with a Certificate for whatever he went for and brags that all he did was take an open book test on the first morning. He has bloodshot eyes, eats Tylenol and scratches himself frequently.
I sometimes need to check a large piece of storage equipment for sanitary conditions. Part of this check is climbing inside and using special swabs to test for leftover organic material. On occasion, I find there is no reason to waste to pricey swabs. Sometimes the equipment needs a really good Navy swabbing to get up the kaka and standing water inside.
Swab: To mop, or at least move a mop side to side artistically as one walks, taking one’s sweet time. This a commonly seen person on the ship as the Swabbie roams from Fore to Aft on all of the outside decks.
The other night I worked diligently on my studio cleaning and organizing project. This included moving many heavy items more than twice…had to get it all in the right spot. I banged my noggin on one of the steel rail industrial shelves I use as bookshelves. I thought, “I hit the rack!”
Hit the Rack: One of the cots stacked three high and four across in a berthing (sleeping) space, with a tiny pillow and a rough wool blanket, is your rack. Each cot lifts on a backside hinge to reveal personal item storage space. To get out of the cot and prop it up for inspection is called tricing up and may require balancing on a vertical ladder or waiting for the slowpoke below. When you hear “Reveille, reveille! Heave out and trice up! Reveille!” you’d better get moving for quarters (not money, it’s the morning meeting where you get to stand at attention and sweat over whether you put your shirt on right side out). Gently rubbing my bumped forehead, I simply noted the very late time (late-thirty) and decided to hit my own rack, much more comfortable than the cots of yore.
As I mentioned before, it took many days of diligent labor to get the floors, wall and windows clean and cleared. The next step was moving heavy furniture. This monstrous cabinet is one big unit. My ex made it. Not slow, not quick, but half-fast. It just about wore me out shoving this from one end of the house to the other – it took a while.
The desk was in a little room meant originally to be an upstairs bath. That’s where my office has been; now it is in the corner of the great room. Naturally, I had to disassemble it, move it piece by piece and reassemble it. I like it here even if the bats don’t.
Oh, yes, the bats. The next morning after scrupulously scouring the floor, I discovered guano and shredded insulation. Marvelous. I put this rug down so I can take it out and shake it every weekend, and wash it on occasion. As they’re directly behind my left shoulder as I type, I think I can hear tiny bat babes. I shall deal with the bats later. I love ‘em, but they really should be outside.
I now have a sewing table and a big shelving unit to organize the cloth and other goods needed. Ten feet away is the huge thick plastic cutting layout, with grid lines. I bought that years ago and it was still curled up in the box. The layout is on a 4×8 foot table that has wonderful work room. There is a grand open floorspace for rolling out the canvas for floor cloths. The monster cabinet is by the easel where I will store the paints, palette and whatnot. The north window will be behind me. I have room to array the paints in use. I also put a nice stool at the big table and can pull out my drawing stuff, wood burning stuff or the jewelry making stuff as needed. When not in use, back to storage in the monster cabinet.
Ah, here is the relax-and-read area. I bought that sofa eons ago, put it in the loft and immediately piled crap on it. Nevermore! Now I need to bring back a few hundred books at a time to repopulate the forlorn shelves. I miss my books.
Oh, the sorry-ness of pile of plunder. It’s good…most of it…some of it. Years of piling on more and more finally reached the peak of endurance! I’m rather ashamed to show what it looked like, but here’s a mere sample.
All holiday weekend I labored, and this weekend too. One corner of the great 25 x 30 foot room cleared, swept (walls and floor) and mopped looked so wonderful and kept more striving for more, more, more! Down went the wadded webs, away went the dust and dirt, and that left the boxes. Boxes literally upon boxes full of history. I set them out and sorted.
I found my ancient Texas Instruments TI-30, the first calculator I ever had. Shows my age, I know. I found my high school graduation cap, gown and special tassels, all still sealed in the bag because I didn’t go to graduation. I tried a year of full scholarship college at the University of Louisville, then joined the United States Navy. I went in part because Dad had been a sailor in the Korean War, and in part because I wanted to GET AWAY! Gosh, this stuff was bringing back the memories. I even found my dress white uniform and box of medals.
I remembered how excited I was to win knitting machines on Ebay and was so sad they’d been neglected. The chore of moving the fifty fat spools of yarn made me wonder what had possessed me. Way in the back of the worst corner sat my Pentax K-1000 FILM camera, the one I bought all eager to catch my ship and head out on a Western Pacific (WestPac) cruise. I sure put that poor camera to work, and learned how to develop black and white film on Diego Garcia. That’s a coral atoll just big enough for a C-130 landing strip. I got a story from there, all right, but that’s for another time. This camera became crusty with salt from being at sea for months so I took it apart and applied graphite. The darling never failed me, it simply became obsolete. Picture tears.
I did not stop until the entire floor, wall and windows was clean. I had to scoop approximately one ton of mummified ladybugs, wasps and other dead insects from the sills, yuck. Opening the windows for the first time in years sure felt good.
I painted this when a great tumult occurred at the chicken plant I was working for and had the kaka hit the proverbial fan. Bells tolled and heads rolled! Soon it became clear I would be happier anywhere but there.
I drew this little guy as my mascot here where I currently work. I have him taped on my go-everywhere respond immediately bucket. Why a gator? This place has sneaky gators hiding all around and they love nothing better than to bite your butt just when you think things are going a little-bitty better than yesterday.
Speaking of work, it’s about time to shove off and start my Cabin-acious weekend! The closer I get to the cabin, the more relaxed and free I feel. Still there is a small measure of worry that everything is okay until I get this marvellous view. Home! Weeds and all!