Come On, Spring!

Narrow Narcs 2Could there be a brighter harbinger?

 

 

 

A panorama of flowers trying to ward off the mean old coldWoodrose Narcs broad view

Peach BlossomsLeafy vs notAlgae spring close

 

 

The bright early plum

She wants to bloom free

Says winter’s a bum

I agree with the tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apples, coaching the laggard trees beyond

And the moss the moss on the stone is listening

As is the little strawberry nestled in the hay

Spring is coming, surely any day!

 

MARCH SNOW?  NO!

Narrow stawb in hay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Betsy, Stanley and Herb

blog june 012“I’ve had all I can stand from that old bastard; I’ll fix his wagon, I surely will.” She poked around the crowded kitchen counter for her wild herb book, a quarter at the Salvation Army store in town. “Of course not,” she mumbled, “don’t matter anyway. I read holes in the pages and ought to be able to find what I’m a-lookin’for.”

Betsy took her sweet time to traverse the steep gravel driveway, with tiny sideways steps on the steepest parts. She wouldn’t fix nobody’s wagon but her own if she tumbled ass over teakettle and broke her fool neck.

The woods looked a whole lot more weedy and crowded than the pictures in that little book. She could almost feel the turkey mites and spotted ticks crawling up her legs, urging her into the knee-high weeds at the edge of the great mess of sycamores. Stanley spouted off something degrading about those trees when they’d gone out to see Katie’s new baby girl – junk trees, 50 foot weeds. She didn’t care for them either, but didn’t believe it necessary to pour ugly all over every minute of every hour. He must not respect her at all to talk like that.

Cabin June 2015 030She waded into the weeds, and on into the forest. From the gang of sycamores, she angled around a big tangle of blackberries and headed for what seemed a likely spot. The gravel dust from a pick-up speeding up the road fell before it reached her, mostly. “With no regard for anyone,” she called after it, “Young heathens, think you own the road?”

She pulled the tablespoon from her pants pocket and dug up a Snail Flower, roots and all. She came up onto the porch, sweat pouring off her gaunt face. He sat there lounging without a care, reading some science fiction garbage, and didn’t look up. An hour later, she stepped out, clean and smiling. “Here Stanley, I made you some iced tea.”

He took it, nodded thanks, and went back to reading.

The next day, she scowled at the bookshelf where her herbal should be. What has she done wrong? Had she not steeped it enough? She was getting less confident of the book calling for leaves and stems and roots and all. Boil just the roots? She was sure sick and tired of looking for that book.

Her legs looked bad with a dozen red and intensely itchy spots on each one. She dabbed each with ointment and wrapped her legs feet to thighs in wide Ace bandages to fend off any more of them. She picked her way back down the driveway, in past the sycamores. Silverseal had to be the right one. There, behind that fallen tree. Out came the tablespoon. “Here, sweetie, I made you some iced tea.”

It rained all day the next day. She fidgeted, upset to be out of Tylenol again. Late afternoon, the showers slacked off to a drizzle. In a yellow slicker, she headed out once more. Badger Borage, right there, had to be.

“I made you some iced tea.” She held it out at arm’s length, not wanting to feel his body heat, not wanting him to detect her anticipation.

“No thanks.” He laid his open book on his lap and looked into her eyes. “What’s this sudden need you have to make me weird iced teas lately? Are you up to something?”

“Of course not. Can’t wife make her husband iced tea on a hot day without suspicion?”

She still had quite a bit of the Badger Borage potion, and made a half batch of oatmeal cookies withOaty close plenty of it in the mix. “Here, Darling, I made you cookies.”

He looked at the artfully arranged plate with an eyebrow raised. “Have a few with me?”

She set it down by him. “You want me to go into a diabetic coma?” She stomped away.

He walked into the kitchen about an hour later and caught her brooding at the kitchen table, an unopened National Geographic at her elbows. He waggled the plate and put it in the sink. As he passed her, she asked, “Did you eat them all?”

He pulled up a kitchen chair and leaned toward her. He moved a wisp of gray hair from her face, gently tucking it behind her ear. “You wanted me to eat them all, didn’t you?”

Her eyes started to water. “That’s why I made them.”

“Our 45th wedding anniversary is Thursday. Katie wants us to come over and have a big dinner. Will you be going?”

“What a stupid question. Why wouldn’t I go?”

“Will I be going?”

A tear fell down her cheek. More tears. He held her close and patted her back.

She leaned back from his embrace. “Let me up. I want to make me some iced tea. Then we’ll go together.”

“I put your cookies in the trash can. I want you to go to Katie’s with me Thursday and then again at our 50th anniversary.”

“Two places every five years, that’s about right.”

“I quit going places with you because you twist everything into something negative. I want to live a few more years and you make that into a negative. The last time I wanted to take you to a dinner and a movie and you said I don’t like your housekeeping and cooking. You didn’t used to be that way. Do you hate me that much?”

“No, I don’t hate you and I’m not always negative and you’re not perfect! My head hurts so bad and you don’t even know it cuz’ your head is always stuck in some book! You don’t pay attention to me anymore at all!”

He reached in his back pocket and handed her the missing herbal. “You refrain from poisoning me and I’ll get you to a doctor, okay?” He picked up her hand, kissed it and held it to his heart. “I love you and always have. I’ll not stop loving you no matter what. I want you to be well and will get you to the doctor as soon as I can. I Care. Okay?”

She blinked her wet eyes. “Okay.”

 

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.

porch-flags

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?

 

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!

The Little Brown Bat Family

I shall describe this without pictures of the bats, bear with me. For the month of July, I heard almost nothing of my petite friends. I got the occasional peep and rustle from the nest in my big upstairs studio/library. I sleep upstairs at the other end of the house where I used to hear Falco flying out the small opening at the apex of the roof. I had asked the rascal to move out and he did, but the nest remained.

Friday night I was wakened in the very early hours by a flurry of flutters and cheeps all around me! Nothing else matches the soft beat of bats on the wing. At least one perched on the ledge above and just behind the bed. That one uttered commanding chirps to the others that were landing on the curtain rods, the clothes poles and the rafters. One seemed to be herding the others.

Now my interpretation: The babes in the nest were ready to go out into the great night! Falco directed the exodus from on high and Mama tried leading them to the high exit. Since these bats usually have only one tyke at a time, there may have been more than one Mama and my studio is a ‘nursery colony’ in the making, oh my. Or maybe there were fewer than my sight-deprived, abruptly waken state made me think. It sounded like bat mayhem at 2 AM. Ever hear of herding cats? Try herding bats! I might have been able to get a photo or two, but any light, or worse a flash, would have frightened them and ruined the parents’ efforts.

They flew out and left me in peace, however many there were. I looked about the next morning and found no mess, no destruction. I heard nothing bat-like the rest of the weekend. The Little Brown Bat family has taken to the skies of the marvelous woodland that surrounds the cabin. Hurray and the best of luck to them!

Y’all Keep Them Eyes Peeled!

A year ago, Ma and I trolled the cloth store picked out yards and yards of cotton prints for shorts and skirts. Now she sits and stares at nothing, and getting her attention is iffy. Some days are better than others but the good ones are getting further apart. Now at the cloth store she sits at the pattern catalog counter while I look around.July 2013 Circle House Damage 018

I got a” set-up going that looked real smart on paper, but it hurts my ragged heart to have to leave my cabin home real early every Monday morning to get to work in town. I’m still in Kentucky, but have to go from the middle of it to a big town on the Ohio River. Then all through the week I live in a crusty old house with the floors propped up by sticks in the basement. When Ma moved in, I got the running water and furnace fixed. I’m 15 minutes from work, and eliminated all that wear and tear on me and the Subaru. I count the hours until I can get home again.

Anyhow, driving from the cabin to town is a despondent hour or two, depending on the weather. It’s an ordeal to get Ma ready to go so early besides gathering all my plunder. I don’t have time to make coffee and clean up the pot and all, so it’s tough to stay alert. Having a zombie to ride with does not help in the least.

So here I am winding through the narrow rural roads to get to the highway that goes to the Parkway right at Butterfly road 2sunrise. Though I knew it to be a worthless effort, I told Ma to keep her eyes peeled for deer. Then for some reason, I started talking with a high pitched deep South accent, seein’ as she was born and raised on the barrier islands off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.

“Y’all keep them eyes peeled for them there deer. Now if you were a tater, y’all would have eyes too, but if ya peeled them, they’d be long gone. So watch how ya peel them eyes, ya hear?”

She laughed! I mean actually listened to what I said, understood it and thought it was funny. I was so stunned, I almost missed my ramp to the parkway.

Me: “Looky there at them there RAIN clouds, you see that straight up gray in the sky over yonder?”

Ma: “Yes, that must the RAIN.”

Me: “That’s right, pourin’ down in great torrents. Ye doggies! Did y’all see that lightnin’?”

Ma: Ooo, I’m afraid of lightning.”

Me: “Aw, ain’t no cause for y’all to fear the lightning. Ain’t no way for one of them there bolts to get to the your scrawny little body. Ye kitties! Did ya see that one, haaaw!”

Ma! “That was a big one!”

Me: “They so danged purty, those glorious swords from heaven. They use those swords to chase out the stray animals Dog Puzzle 2that get up there; they don’t care for the dogs howling with the choir. You know if it’s stormin’ cats and dogs, y’all gotta keep them windows rolled up tight as we got enough dogs and cats already. Unless there’s a calico that is, ‘cause I could make you a fine summertime nightgown out a nice bit of calico.”

Ma conversed like a regular person, like she would have a year or two ago. She really participated and was interested. The magic had vanished by the time I came in from work. She sat on the screened-in porch in her rocking chair until very late, eating her supper out there. She didn’t recognize any questions unless I asked them three times, louder each time. She couldn’t remember my name.

It was grand while it lasted.

 

Hancock Fabrics, Good Bye!

Pile of cloth

Alas! The venerable Hancock Fabric Store is no more. I have such fond memories of Hancock Fabrics, from way back. I won the 8th grade science fair and got $50 cash money for it. I bee-lined it to Woolco Department Store in the Indian Trail Shopping Center so Ma and I could pick out a sewing machine. Not that she was much help – she did not sew at all. I got a Brother, rather plain but highly serviceable.

I made all of our church dresses and made my little sisters colorful outfits for church and school. I particularly remember Poo (Alice) wanting more pockets! I made a yellow tunic with matching flared pants. The cotton material had big white flowers splattered across it, and a red band across the front tunic bottom divided into at least six pockets. I made myself a deep purple pair of hiphugger flared brushed denim jeans…the coolest nerd in school.

071415 018Imagine my delight many years later, when I found Hancock Fabrics had a store minutes from the house I’d moved into! I didn’t actually go in there or even find my sewing machine (a different one, another story) until Ma moved in with me over a year ago. Oh, she needed tailor made church dresses! We both enjoyed roaming Hancock’s, ferreting out the deals, and she loved the quirky and brightly patterned stuff.

When I heard they were closing, bankrupt, I couldn’t believe it. No reorganizing? No restructuring? Nope, just gone. I haunted the store the last few days and bought entire bolts of cloth at 90% off. I got gobs of patterns at $1 each. One always needs buttons and zippers, so into the overloaded cart they went.

Now I have cloth from satins to upholstery to fanciful cotton blends. I have years worth of scrumptious silky, flowery fabrics and all of the smooth linings I hope to ever need. Sure I loved the spectacular deals. I’m so sorely going to miss dear old Hancock Fabrics, though.

 

 

Strawberries On the Move!

Check that out, those rambunctious strawberries running for all they’re worth! I admit I hate Strawberries escaping to weed and so some weeds are taller than I am. Also, some really insistent viney crap is taking over no matter how many of those plants I pull up. I think they multiply by rhizomes, the root internet between plants. I pull up one gob, roots and all, but the root internet gets the signal: We’re under attack! Grow faster! Spread further!

Now that they’ve infiltrated the strawberries, it’s clear why the poor berry runners are fleeing. I attacked back, wading into the berry patch early Strawberries up closein the morning to take a couple hours in the stifling heat to yank weed after weed. First, I know that stuff will sprout right back up. Second, the stuff is infested with turkey mites. Heard of chiggers? Turkey mites are very similar. They burrow into your skin and it itch-itch-itch-itches for days. Sure, shower and scrub right after weeding to wash them off. Fine plan that I did follow, but the faster burrowers had already dug in. Really, most came from my shoes. I had wiped them inside and out with bug spray, but that was a Bullwinkle move as I got ‘em up and down me RIGHT NOW.new strawberries

You hear so much about unwanted refugees on the news. In can’t help but see those striving strawberry runners reaching out into bare gravel toward a block retaining wall, toward nothing hospitable, as an illustration of an archetypal theme. Unable to let that continue, I extended the strawberry bed and put 25 more (super-sale!) plants in with them.

Check out before and after! Now, all that was last weekend. I dread looking at the berry bed when I get to the cabin this evening. I know what I’ll see – THEY’RE BAAACK!strawberries with weedsstrawberries weeded