Honeysuckles, A Kid’s Delight

Honeysuckles!

IMG_4350Walking 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 IMG_4351handle, 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 IMG_4353durned day and never dream of tasting them?

Warnings in the Night

I have a confession to make. I didn’t start cleaning up because I couldn’t stand the stacked and jumbled-Cleanup messtumbled 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! Cabin June 2015 016The 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 Cabin 20130721 050near 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! Cleanup Open WindowAm 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.

 

A Milkweed Memory

Walking about the woodland Saturday, I some noticed milkweeds along the driveway ditch which Blog 047brought 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.”

Blog 051I 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 Cabin June 2015 076must 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…

 

What It Looks Like Now

As I mentioned before, it took many days of diligent labor to get the floors, wall and windows clean and cleared. TheCleanup Monster Cabinet 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 Cleanup Desk Closereassemble 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 Cleanup Bat Matthink 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 Cleanup Reading Areathe 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.

It’s Shaping Up!

Cleanup Mess AreaOh, 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 Cleanup TI-30age, 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 Cleanup PentaxC-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.

Cleanup Thru Screen View
View thru the Window Screen!

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.

 

Stick Entities

Just a short note today, on Stick Chicken and Stick Gator. If one cannot draw worth a hoot, sometimes a stick effigy Cabin June 2015 066will get the point across.

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.

 

 

gator 001I 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.

gator bucker 001Speaking 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 Cabin Front from Driveview. Home! Weeds and all!

 

Spider Barrage!

Spiders 012As I went through some photographs on my terribly overloaded computer, I saw these about the windborne spider invasion a while back. I was here rather late and the night shift guy ran in and said it was snowing spiders!

Oh no! Invading Spiders From Mars! Indeed, the tiny spiders came in great drifts; had they been from Mars we’d have been Spiders 016goners!

 

 

Spiders 011

 

 

 

 

This picture should show the drifters, but I doubt the resolution. Alas!

 

 

Of course if you want to see a REAL spider threat, come to the cabin and meet Harvey!

HarveyCabin spider 2

 

Cabin Cleaning Progress

I moved lots of stuff out of the cabin a month ago, and got a long extend-handled scrubby thing. I got an Woods 020industrial box of trash bags. Load after load of plunder went up to town! I can hardly walk in the house in town, it is so packed. Oh yeah, gung ho, let’s take another load. Now that all of that is out of the way, I can clear out the trash, donate or sell what I don’t need and CLEAN! For Pete’s sake, I got a gallon of Pine-Sol. Wow, you should see the cabin now!

Not. The only work done around here lately was getting the front porch flashing replaced and getting gutters replaced front and back. Granted, that looks ten tons better even if the new wood isn’t painted yet. Thing is, I did not do one speck of that work, it magically happened while I worked so diligently in town.

Woods 022Wah, wah, I go to work an hour and a half earlier now, and stay an hour later because the boss up and vanished. I get to keep the crap moving (I was the equivalent of a nuclear plumber in a past life, so am qualified) with reports and meeting while still doing my job. Yes, waaah. I really don’t mind it as it needs to be done and I can do it. However, the new schedule means the things I could do in the evenings during the week have been squeezed out and there I am at the cabin playing catch up. This too shall pass.

Woods 021The onus on me for cleaning the spider webs, bat guano, dust, dirt and general accumulated grime must remain in place with no real action for the time being. I reckon I’ll get so tired of having nothing at hand (because I carted it up to town) that I will FIND the time to scrub-a-dub. Memorial Day weekend is imminent…maybe then. Sure.Woods 025

 

I Met A New Guy!

Walking around the woods, I keep an eye out for the newest wildflower blooms, snakes, and for something unusual. Saturday was a beauteous day, sunny without excess heat and thankfully rainless.

Fleabanes in grassThe ever-present fleabane is very pretty in the white and pink forms. I love the idea of them being flea banes, but have only found them to harbor ticks and mites.

Cabin bb blooms closeThere are many blackberry brambles around here, and never are they as obvious as when they are blooming. Wondrous cascades of white! Watch out for the fine thorns…

Yellow weed flowersThese fill entire fields, making pre-plowed farms have seas of bold yellow. Individually, they’re not much. An acre thick with them is spectacular.Woods 003.JPGOh, let’s not forget the flying flowers!

 

Then there he stood, frozen in place by the mere sight of me. I came closer, coy, not wishing to spook him. He may have been around since Day 1; I had not noted one before. Meet the Red Spotted Newt!Handsome little fellow, isn’t he?

Woods 006

Potato Dictato

Potato Dictato

Mary Ellen Wall

 

I come into the living room with Jimmy’s dinner cause it was football on and his eyes was glued to it. I set the fried pork chop Dougand buttered taters on his lap and was sticking the fork, not the pointy end, into his hand when the TV went to commercials.

Stereo“What the hay are you doing? These potatoes are not fried, and I told you a hundred times I don’t want nothing but fried potatoes!”

Says I, “Them’s perfectly fine taters with fresh butter and green onions chopped all through ’em. Every little cube was cut the same size so as they’d boil even. You better eat all that if you know what’s good for you!”

He finished chewing up his first bite of the pork chop and swallered it. He dropped the rest back on the plate and made to pass it to me. When I didn’t take it, he put it on the pillow by the cat and Inky snagged the chop and was shoot-gone but he acted likeBarto short legs he didn’t see it. “Go on off with that and fix me some decent food.”

I turnt around and got the cable box, unplugged it and quicker then he could jump, I opened the window and throwed it out. His stupid beagle went straight for it while he watched and his jaw dropped to his knees.

I sidled around him, picked up his plate of cold taters, and headed for the kitchen. I announced, “You are a Tater Dictator!”

As I was dumping them in a pot to heat up so as to not waste ’em, he stomped out to the yard and retrieved that cable box. The cord was bare wires in places and I almost laughed but had no death wish.

He looked about to scream and cry at once like he does. “They were fourth and long with the two minute warning going off!”

He stared me down as I squared off with him, not willing to take any more crap from him. I do believe he well understood that.

He set the cable box on the kitchen table. “It is not ‘tater’, you ignorant hick. It is po-ta-to. Where are the keys. I’m going to Jerry Jay’s for a decent dinner.”

“Drunks don’t get keys no more. Walk. If you come back, sleep in the kennel ’cause that’s where your stuff’s gonna be.”

My Cabin!He come up real close so I had his whiskey breath in my face. I did not budge or flinch. He made an ugly face and stomped out. I smelt taters about to burn and in a flash realized I had turnt them on up high without paying attention. I turnt the burner off and shook the pot around to see if any really was burnt. Oh, Lordy, they smelt good! That butter got ’em golden and the first little chunk I picked out was crispy on one side and steaming buttery with the onion just right all through it.

I like fried taters as well as anybody. I just hate the same dang thing all the time; it gets old.