The Crash

Lester sat reading his daily devotional with a steaming mug of black chicory-laced coffee. He heard what sounded like a tree falling across his barn but he knew there was no tree near enough to do that. By the time those thoughts had cleared, he stood in the farm yard looking at the tail end of an airplane protruding from his barn.

Lester hobbled over to the barn door and heaved a side open. The front of the plane was smashed to bloody smithereens smack on his tractor. Would it explode? “Hey, is anybody still breathing in there?” The splintered wood showed at all the broken edges; the darned thing was made of sycamore wood or such.

When his brain reminded him that planes didn’t burn fuel anymore, he stepped closer to the tractor and peered about for some glimpse into the mess. He shook his head slowlyred-limb-in-cieling and thought he should call somebody. Nearly to the barn door, he addressed the unfortunates in the crushed cockpit.

“Lord Almighty, send your angels to carry these needy souls to Glory, please gather them to your bosom. You know their hearts…”

The sound of wheels on gravel coming closer fast grabbed his attention. A black jeepy-like thing tore up his driveway and skidded to a stop, making obvious ruts in the rain-softened ground. With his tractor out of commission, that careless damage would be hard for him to smooth out.

A tall black woman in a black suit got out and walked up to him. “Sir, I am Agent Latosha Barnes of the FBI.” As she pocketed her ID, she gravely added, “You must return to your house and contact no one. We will have a crew here soon to remove this.”

“I need my barn and my tractor. Are you gonna leave me my tractor and fix that barn roof?”

“You must return to your house and contact no one. We will have a crew here soon to remove this.”

He rocked gently on his front porch, watching people in white paper jumpsuits go backTea Tilted and forth with all sorts of equipment. After another hour he went inside and got a pitcher of iced tea and all six of his tea glasses. Being told to keep clear of them, he placed the pitcher and five of the glasses on the porch rail in plain sight. They paid no mind to the offered drinks.

A flatbed truck arrived, scattering his chickens as it backed up near the barn. Soon, a helicopter came to slip a loop around the tail of the plane. Lester figured they’d break the tail clean off, but they didn’t. Meanwhile, others erected barriers around the barn. He’d figured that correctly.

He made his way to the side of the flatbed and saw Agent Barnes making a bee-line his way.

“Sir, do not break the barrier. We have surveillance in place. Do not attempt to tamper with it.”

He nodded and turned around to watch them flip the wings up and secure the tips together for transit. “Lord, you know their hearts. Have mercy on their souls. Amen.”

Being Awake Is a Reason To Drink Coffee

Being awake is a reason to drink coffee. Get up before the sun rises, make coffee, work. Weekdays, work consists of being around other people, so throw a wash-up in there. And Sunday I take Mother to church, so that’s a wash-up too. Oooh, I love Saturdays: Up, work, logic circuits afire, fueled by coffee.

I tried putting concrete-based filler in the basement floor cracks, but about half of them failed. The basement was to be a foot deeper but coffee-obliquethey hit a mesa-sized sandstone slab and said short of dynamite I’d have to leave it there. Fine, except they didn’t explain about settling on the lumps and natural contours of said stone. Long ragged cracks. Thus I have determined that I need to solve a simple ‘fill the spread cracks issue’, not a ‘water and mud striving to rise to fame issue’, meaning the equation is not solved for holding backpressure but for leaky-leaky.

I got some rubber stuff to try now. I saw the stuff advertised on TV, however ‘As Seen on TV’ is generally a folly, so I grabbed a cup of java and did some turbo shopping. Amazon’s 2867 reviews on the subject convinced me the same folks I bought the epoxy floor covering goo (with a baggie of sparkle chips) I got a few years ago and never put down because of , yes, the cracks, was the right choice. I chose a narrow wire brush at the same time, with a long ergonomic handle and a mean looking pointy scraper on the end that I’ll try to clean the ooze and failed concrete out. Enough uncertainty exists to cause me to fix up about six feet of a crack and wait a month to assess resilience and overall effectiveness. Phooey, my cup’s empty – be back in a tick.

The affection I have for good but not environmentally criminal coffee made inky strong and poured into a stained mug with no iota of anything to sully it is mighty indeed. Standing here, I got a great idea about a cherry cake thing I’ve been experimenting with. What if I put another egg in and cut the flour by half and used brown sugar instead of busting up the lumps of the regular white stuff that’s been here forever? When I went to the grocery, they had a good price on the dozen eggs, but if you calculated the per egg cost, the triple row eighteen egg carton was a better deal. That doesn’t drive the decision to add that third egg to the cherry thing, but it does facilitate it. They had the cherry pie filling on sale, so I got a couple more cans of that even though there are still a few in the pantry. You have to get enough to take you through the doldrums when there is no wind in the sales! Empty mug already? Good thing I’m right next to the pot.

coffee-gator coffee-coffee

Okay. I’m back. Looking around, I question some of the cabin design decisions made in ’92. I like having two windows in each wall of this great room over the garage (a pass-through windowish opening and an open double doorway graces the wall between the room and the rest of the house). I like the barky double door frame and the wide door opening, that was brilliant and a winner because it eases moving stuff in and out and eases air circulation as well. I don’t like the narrow, enclosed stairwell to get up here. This set of puny, ugly steps are the only way to get upstairs and are a chokepoint. They were supposed to be wider and open on the side with a nice handrail but I let the guy at the company cutting the parts for the log house cut four feet off the width of the house. He said the carpets would have to be fifteen feet wide $$$ and the rafters would cost more. I don’t have a carpet in the entire house. I think he had an ulterior motive about the rafters as I had ten sets of drawings (self drafted) out for bid and he wanted to undercut the other outfits. I went with them even with that because they added all operable doors and windows at no cost so I added fours pairs of operable roof windows all across the open part above the living room and dining room. Beautiful and of course, functional.

After church, after lunch. Reheated coffee is horrid, and I certainly don’t need to make more. I dress in wispy, watercolor clothes and don a floppy straw hat. With a tall glass of marvelous spring-like well water, cold from deep in the ground, I take a basket of supplies and a folding lounger to my shady spot on the porch. Songbirds are particularly fond of this area around the flowerbeds, and lyrical warbles and trills fill the air. My faithful mutt Bash makes her way over and looks at me. I smile and she sprawls at my feet.


I take my notebook of thick, lined paper from the basket and rummage through the doodle book and the pastels and the marbles (where’d they come from?) for my beautiful Montverde gel pen. Click. I imagine I see an old man on a high white oak limb over yonder. Does he think he’s Zachias? He’s fingering a rope with what looks like a noose on it, yikes! I wind the story through this and that and add a recalcitrant horse. By the time the sun reaches my shady retreat, I finish the tale. No, I wouldn’t let Arthel hang himself. An orange fritillary just wafted past my nose! Looked like two for a moment; crossed eyes.cabin-june-orange-frittalary

Simply being awake may be a reason to guzzle coffee, particularly when the meshed mental cogs of my left brain whir like the window fan. Consider though, that being aware of the continuum of our ancestors into tomorrow, opening your heart to the intricacies of nature, and having delight with small jewels logic would find insignificant are good reasons not to overindulge. Some dark, smoky Assam tea (with no iota of anything to sully it) of over ice would hit the spot right about now. Yes, it has caffeine, but a glass or two won’t hurt anything, will it?


Caleb and the Viet Cong

“Caleb, get your ass back over here and hold this ladder!”

“Uncle Johann, there’s something in the woods making noise!”Fence in Weeds

“There are a million things in the woods and most of them make noise. Hold the ladder!” Johann had a hod in one hand and a trowel in the other that also grasped the ladder rungs. As soon as the boy got back on the job, Johann set his supplies on the roof and eased off the ladder. Black clouds were building in the south, maybe they’d pass by. Still, the last few layers of chimney would need to cure before they got buckets of water poured on them. The realtor said prospective buyers would be by tomorrow!

He put his tools in the canvas sack and lowered it down by the attached rope. To nobody. “Caleb! Where are you? I need a couple yards of plastic sheeting up here and a roll of duct tape. Caleb!”

The kid did not appear, so Johann carefully climbed down and got the plastic. He turned off the radio news; where’d they got Gerald Ford from anyway? “Caleb!” Where had he run off to? Nephew or not, the kid lacked any sense of responsibility and needed a haircut.

Cabin march 013The storm advanced fast. Johann strained his eyes through the window of his truck and solid sheets of water. Would the gravel road be washed out? When the time between the lightening and the thunder lengthened and the rain stopped but for a drizzle, Johann got out of the truck. “Caleb!” He walked along the gravel drive that divided the cabin from the deep woods. “Caleb, I’m serious, I got to get you dropped off and me home.” He wished he’d looked for footprints before they’d washed away.

He stepped into the viney jungle. The Viet Cong had his sister’s boy. Or had the green kid stumbled into a spiked pit? Or had a poisonous snake fallen on him from the trees? He looked up and saw no snakes. He studied the ground for wires, broken twigs, booby traps. He crept slowly, alert.

Movement. He crouched and riveted his attention on the source. He’d lost his weapon. He would tear a gook’s throat out by hand to save his nephew. He did have his field knife and tape on his utility belt. A deer looked around, didn’t see him and went on along its worn path. Johann had learned stealth the hard way, and had let his buddies down because of his clumsiness. Dead buddies. He crept with no noise, like an Indian.

He studied the narrow creek as he smeared mud on his face and bare arms. The creek did not appear to have been disturbed except for the deer, but it was hard to judge as the water ran muddy from the rain. Caleb’s voice, that way. He hurried as stealth would allow. Other voices. He’d guessed right the first time: Viet Cong. Cabin Vine tree

Caleb sat on a folding stool as one gook stared him down. He appeared unharmed. Another walked around the maryjane patch as a lookout. The plants were doing well, starting to bud out. While the inept lookout strolled the far side, Johann collected some pliable vines and stuck his foot out to braid them into a rope. He coiled that one and finished a second one before the guy got close.

The perimeter wire was obvious. Johann yanked the guy over the wire, threw him down, hogtied and silenced him with duct tape, you always carry duct tape, and taped him to a tree while the one by Caleb shouted loud enough to hear in Saigon. Johann took the opportunity to scurry around behind him. He popped a loop of rope over the gook’s head and yanked as he disarmed him of the shotgun. “Any more of you creeps? Huh? Any more of you?”

Johann motioned for Caleb to take the weapon. Johann had his adversary tied and taped into a fetal bundle in no time.

“Uncle Johann, they were just some guys growing pot in the woods. You didn’t kill anybody, did you?”

“Oh no. The CIA wants us to keep a few for interrogation.” He folded a buddy tab on the much diminished roll of tape and hung it back on his belt.

“Ah, okay.” Caleb put his pinkie to his mouth and thumb to his ear. “I gotta go to the main road to find a phone. I’ll call in a pick-up, okay?”

“Roger that. See that perimeter wire? Watch out for booby traps, kid.” As the boy left, he crouched with his back to a big tree, watching, and listening for the helicopter.


At the Oasis Hotel

“All I can say is this hotel will drop a star for lack of train access.”

“Dear, you knew that when you booked these rooms. I think the staff had been exceptionally polite and had a marvelous selection of fruits.”

“Fruits schmoots, they didn’t have fresh figs.”

“You never eat them at home, even when they’re in season. Have you seen my sunglasses?”

Vera turned at the knock on the door nearest the elevator. “Dani, can’t you get the door? That must be the van driver; be sure to tell him he’s late.”

Dani drifted in the opposite direction as if sleep walking.

“Oblivious, I don’t know what I’m going to do with that girl.” Vera slapped the door panel and frowned at the man who should have been the driver. “Yes?”

“Good afternoon madam.” He took one step sideways to reveal a furry white seal sprinkled with gray flecks that had the most adorably large and liquid eyes. “This beast is disturbing the other guests.”

“Beast indeed; she’s worth more than you.” She smiled in the tightly pursed way she used for menials. She called out. “MARcel! Come here at once!”

Marcel appeared in his socks and crouched at the seal. “Tiene agua fría, mi Corazón?” He stood and dragged the confused seal into the room by its scruff.

Vera followed Marcel and shut the door on the rude man with no other comment. “Where is the blasted driver!”

“Dear, have you accounted for the time difference? We are an hour later in this zone. That antique analog watch doesn’t keep up with zone changes.”

“Of course we are.” She touched her elegant 110 year old timepiece, making a mental note to drop it in the trash. “Those are not your sunglasses; they’re too big for you.” She fled to the bar, mortified for not remembering the time difference. “Bloody Mary.” The bar found her preferred tumbler-sized glass, dispensed the juice, the booze and two ice cubes. “I Ice 1need more ice!”

“We apologize madam. More ice will be available in approximately nine minutes.”

She did not wish to be seen in an angry state, so she headed directly to the nearest bathroom. She heard what sounded like conversation, and the door was open.

There Dani and Marcel knelt side by side, the carefully cultivated white rose and the brown dirt. Aghast, she stammered, “D-Dani, I forbade you to be alone with the help.” When her daughter huffed from the room, Vera looked back to the Jacuzzi containing a seal and mountains of bobbing ice. “Marcel, you used all of the ice for that animal! I needed ice and you gave it all to that creature!” She put her knuckles on her hips. “You look at me like that again and I’ll replace you in a heartbeat!”

“Lo siento, Dama.” What heart? He returned his attention to poor Blanca. How did they end up here? Both bought, both longing for affection, both dying for a long gone home far away.

Ice 6

Labor Day Ale!

Yipee, 99 bottles of beer along the wall! Each of my cases holds 25 bottles and one case was shortseptember-ales-old-ale-can one bottle. No matter! In a couple of weeks I’ll have some fine Cooper’s IPA made with a mix of leftover light malt and some fresh wheat malt.

I also started a couple batches of Munton’s; there’s a York Bitter (YUM!) and an Old Ale, both done up with a dark malt. september-ales-mix-in-pailThe dry malt doesn’t look very dark in the picture, but I guarantee it’ll produce the inky brew I crave.

So, that’s 10 gallons this weekend and ten gallons more next weekend. That’s if I can scare up 99 september-ales-capsmore bottles…where they heck did I put them? I have vents that pop and pails with tops and a dapper Red Robin Capper, all waiting.


If I cannot locate the rascals, this is what I’ll end up with:september-ales-empty-case


Better Late than No Brew At All


Back I May, I never dreamed I’d be so overloaded with work this long. Right when I got my new business set up and was emptying the cabin of all valuables for a massive clean-up, I got my job doubled along with having to put more hours in. So, cabin time should be depressurizing time but I’ve have WORK stamped into my bones. Work at the cabin means cleaning up so I can bring my plunder back where I can actually find and use it (yick) or writing/editing/designing for publication. Thus you all have seen stories for a few weeks. When I edit and collect the ones you folks liked best into one volume, I intend to format it, design a cover for it and send it out on its own. Big plans have I!

See? Work…the first and last of my consciousness. Imagine my great alarm when I went to the basement for a few more bitters or porters to stage upstairs and discovered there were only six bottles of anything left! OH NO! So, look what happened pretty quickly:

Beer Buckets - Set Out to Soak in Sanitizer

Look at the log I keep on the cases…never have I had such a late start. Heck, I’m usually all done by now, but I still have at least two more double batches (100 bottles each set) to do before chilly weather sets in!

Cabin June 2015 075

Ale supplies

I have added this to my WORK list, so it shall be done. Here’s to the hope that I can report the two buckets I left to ferment are bottled and two more are started after the weekend!