Cosmic Humor

I know I should be all grown up and whatnot, but let’s face it, flatulence is funny.  A friend once called it “cosmic humor” since it would be funny to any intelligent life form.  That was years ago and I still believe it.  Then I discovered this:

With this stuff so easily accessible, I am not sure I will ever be able to grow up.

Critters in the Garage

 

Phoebe Chick

Phoebe Chick

A little too long ago our garage door busted.  One of the cables snapped so only one side gets pulled when it operates.  I say “a little too long ago” because we still haven’t fixed it.  We just leave it up or down for a while.  Often the car isn’t in the bay.  I also say “a little too long ago” since the door busted because it froze to the floor.  We haven’t had ice in a while.

But whatevs.  This is about critters.  The ones in the garage.  The reason they get in is because the door is open.  A squirrel managed to find a home in there.  I don’t know it is actually living in the garage, but it sure likes hanging out in there.  It has recently discovered how wonderful the garbage bags are.  “Get a load of these things,” I imagine it pondered. “They are filled with plastic packaging, some of which has slight amounts of food residue stuck to it;  I think I’ll gnaw large holes in the bag so I can lick the salsa jar lid.”  Our food waste goes into the compost so there isn’t much for a squirrel to snack upon.  But that doesn’t stop it.

Yesterday I started moving our wood from one wall to another.  This seems to bother the squirrel.  Hey, squirrel, chill.  This isn’t your wood.  Clean up the mess you made with the garbage and maybe I’ll let you hang around.  Until then, you can find a tree.  And by the way, stop licking the grill.  Just because I’m lazy doesn’t give you license to lick that either.  I think that once I move the wood, the squirrel will just move into that pile.  We need to get that door fixed.

Once spring began we also had a phoebe family move in.  It made a nest in the rafters.  This meant we had to leave the door open so it could get out.  And in.  Then it had some chicks.  The other day, the chicks fledged.  One of the chicks was hanging out on the garage floor.  It left the nest but hadn’t quite figured out how to fly yet.  It was there for a while.  After dark it was gone.  I hope it didn’t get snacked upon by some noctural predator.  Especially after leaving the door open that whole time.  It was cute, that baby bird.  I guess that made up for its parents crapping all over the cars and the lawnmower and firewood.  And the garbage bags.

The phoebes have left, now that the chicks are off to better things.  Now they hang out in the birch tree outside my son’s window, keeping him up late and waking him up early.  At least they are out of the garage.  Now I just need to convince the squirrel to take a hike.  Once I stop being lazy, and decide that paying for someone to fix the door is a priority, it will be easier to keep out the critters.  I guess I’ll have to live with the squirrel until then.  At least it isn’t in the house.  With my record of door fixing procrastination, let’s hope the front door stays intact.

A Little Sweat and a Little Work Done

Yesterday was a hot one and we didn’t linger at home.  We visited a bunch of friends on the lake, swimming and eating outside and generally making a time of it.  So I didn’t get much done on my first day off for the summer.  Today I did manage to get a bunch accomplished.  The sun shone and the day was warm.  It was a good one for getting things done.

The first thing I managed to do, after making a couple of perfect over easy eggs for my daughter, was to go for a run.  I haven’t run in far too long and I am finally sans pain.  I only put in four miles, but I felt just great.  If I can keep that up I will be golden.  I managed to sweat only lightly while on the road, but when I got back home I headed straight to the garden.  I discovered that something has been yanking up our corn again.  I thought that problem was solved but it looks like it will require some more trickery.  I also ate a few ripe strawberries.  And pulled some weeds.

I took a shower a little later but was still sweating when I was done with that small task.  So I headed to the garage to stack firewood.  We need to move what we have closer to the door to make room for the new stuff we will get later.  We need to wood that is most dry to be most available.  Plus, once it all gets consolidated there is more room for the lawnmower.  We need to be crafty to fit it all in.  I did what I could but left a bunch for later.  Then it was lunch time.

Since I had only two chocolate chip cookies and two cups of coffee (hey, it had cream in it) for breakfast, I was hungry.  We have tons for lettuce from our share at the farm so I stacked six big fat leaves of it under a veggie burger.  I also added some mayo.  That did the trick.  Oh, and pickle.  And a handful of dilly potato chips.  And another cookie.

My son and I took a trip to town for some errands.  I needed to get a few tools and supplies to get started on scraping paint from the house, and I had this lid to a compost bin that I had purchased way back in November.  It was the wrong size and I figured out I didn’t need it anyway.  So I finally brought it back.  I even managed to save the receipt the whole time so it was a quick transaction.  Then the kid wanted to play on the play structure.  I can’t blame him.  The thing is pretty impressive.  After sailing on a couple of ships, swimming in the shallow water and avoiding a bunch of sharks, I picked out a ceramic pot and we hit it.

I used the pot to repot a plant.  Duh.  We got this plant almost seven years ago.  It was in a plastic pot inside a wicker basket.  It looked good for a while, but we overfilled the pot so many times that the basket was wet all the time.  Eventually the bottom rotted out.  Since the plastic pot just fit inside the basket, I had a bumbling time extracting it.  The extraction involved flying dirt, rotted basket smear on the white T-shirt, and a pinched finger.  After the struggle, however, the new pot served its purpose.  The plant is still a little hurting, but I am hoping it will recover with the fresh dirt and some room to grow.

I managed to get a few other random tasks accomplished as well (cleaned those seedling pots finally) and made up a good dinner.  The dinner used up a good pile of produce from the farm–bok choy, kale, mini turnips–and some other veggies.  All that spiced and flavored with vinegar over brown rice–it was a winner.  My daughter even ate it, although my son pointed to the steaming bowl of vegetables and declared “I don’t like that” as soon as he sat down.  At least he ate the rice.

More projects tomorrow.  And maybe some reading.  I need to yank some weeds from the garden, and maybe plant another round of greens.  If it’s hot, however, swimming (somewhere) will be in order.  We’ll see about the weather.

Last Day of Work

I have the good fortune of a ten-month contract, which means I get a couple months off during the summer.  My spouse has the same good fortune.  So we are double fortunate.  Last summer was my first no tworking since I was a pretty young.  I even had a paper route before I was a teenager.  Since my wife did some tutoring last summer, this will be our first where we both don’t have to work.  Today was my last day of work.

Really, it was an easy day.  I was on call to take phone calls.  I never got any.  I did need to wrap up a few things but overall it was cake.  I had to run some errands–post office, motor vehicle department, garden supply store–and I got a few things done to boot.  It was  a busy day in toto.  I even busted out the weedwhacker and finished just before the thunderstorm hit.  Not bad.

So now I have lots to tend to.  I hope to do some exterior painting and take care of lots of odds and ends.  If I can get cracking, I will feel good about getting some things done before I can relax and play.  We have a couple of trips planned–not too far but far enough–but mostly just hope to take advantage of what comes our way.

Summer.  You can’t beat it.  I look forward to a bunch of days with my family, with time to take care of projects, time to read, time to eat creemies.  Time to do whatever.  Mostly I look forward to having no schedule, to taking the days as they come.  I look forward to enjoying where I live.  People come here for vacations, after all.  I plan to get some work done but, let’s face it, I need to take some vacation time as well.

Triptych

Triptych

After Han-shan

1.

This farmhouse—my home at field’s edge.

Sometimes cars pass on the dusty road.

The woods so quiet, turkeys roost at night.

In the river’s shadowed pools, trout rising.

My daughter and I pick pears from a lonely tree.

My wife tugs carrots from the garden.

And in my house what would you see?

Walls of shelves filled with books.

2.

My father and mother taught me to be content;

I need not envy how others make their living.

Click, click—my wife knits by the window.

Zoom, zoom—my son with his trucks.

Apple blossoms swirl around my raised arms.

Hands in pockets, I listen to warblers high in the oak.

Who might notice how I pass my days?

Well, the mail carrier stops each afternoon.

3.

Walking, I pause at the collapsing barn.

The barn, slowly folding, fills the still mind—

Mornings milking despite drifting snow,

Afternoons stacking the loft with hay.

Where sumac tumbles from the window hole,

And gray walls tremble from swallows’ shadows.

In the old cemetery, the bones of those who built this place—

Their names fading, but written in stone.

Stuff I’ve Noticed Recently

I hung up a bunch of old CD’s recently  over some garden beds, to keep out the birds.  This morning I looked out the window to see a robin pecking at the dirt at the edge of one of those beds.  Then it hopped right over the bed.  It nearly got clocked by the spinning disk.  It worked last time.

Our dishwasher has a whole slew of adjustable bars and rods, the better to efficiently stack all one’s dishware and cutlery.  One of them seemed to have lost its adjustability recently.  It flopped.  I removed it today to find that it had rusted right through.  The little rod was pointy, yet crumbly, with rust.  I took out one half and wrestled with the second for a while before deciding to leave it for tomorrow.  I figured a dishwasher is for lazy people anyway so I had good reason to be lazy with that task.

Our neighbors have a small pond, just over our property line.  What its intended use what I can’t say.  It doesn’t seem to get much human use at all–no swimming, no irrigation, no livestock watering.  It just sits there, leaking onto our side, home for ducks and frogs.  The bullfrogs are especially loud these days.  The groan and croak at all hours, but seem to especially like the hours just after dark.  All of us pretend to respond to them now and again.  Cracks us right up.

For Father’s Day I got a book of crossword puzzles.  I am pretty hooked on crossword puzzles and have been working my way through a book of 200 of them from the New York Times.  This new book is a little different.  One of the clues was this:  Royal mistake maker.  The answer?  Dumbshit.  Cracked me right up.

We have been watching old science fiction movies lately.  You know, the classics.  The Day the Earth Stood Still, for example.  Last night we watched the original 1950’s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  It was pretty well done, eerie and even a little scary, but not gore-filled.  All of these movies have the year listed on the sleeve from Netflix.  Last night’s said 1956, but when the film opened it said 1955.  The other films have had this same one year discrpancy.  My guess is the the film posts the copyright date and Netflix notes the date the film actually was released.  I guess they used to do things a little slower back then.

We went up the road this afternoon to pick up our share of produce.  This was given to us as a gift again at Christmas.  Great gift.  As we walked out to the field to pick strawberries, the children found a mud puddle.  Well, maybe puddle isn’t quite right.  It was a mud puddle and had become a thick bowl of muddy paste.  The children were wearing mud boots so of course they slopped about in it until their footwear was gray and wet.  They had a blast.  Then they sat in their dirty boots and ate all the strawberries we picked while I picked some daisies to bring home.

The cucumber beetles are starting to hatch.  I have been slow to attend to them.  I hope to get some Neem and see what that does.  I have heard good things about it, that it makes the beetles go away.  I want them to go away.  I picked one off a pumpkin plant today and slayed it.  They are beautiful little bugs.  And I want them to live far away from here.  I want some cucumbers this year, dammit.

Garden Woes

Ready for Planting

Ready for Planting

We started our garden at the house in which we now live in 2007.  That garden was limited.  We dug up some lawn and gathered some compost and got going.  We planted tomatoes and carrots and lettuce, pumpkins and strawberries.  Last year we expanded, adding more compost and digging more beds.  This is year three.  That first summer we had no problems at all.  Everything grew like gangbusters.  Now the troubles have started.

One mistake was getting compost from a new source last year.  It was filled with weeds and contained the larvae of cucumber beetles.  Cucumber beetles eat the roots of young plants and then, after they hatch, eat the leaves of the same plants.  I have had to replant zucchini and yellow squash and cucumbers, and the melons are pretty much bumming.  I have done nothing yet to get rid of them this spring so our problems persist.  I thought turning the soil late in the fall would help.  I turned it all again early in the spring.  No dice with that simple plan.

I planted peas for the first time this year.  They started off well but now the rabbit that hangs out in the woods has discovered the plants.  It keeps whittling them down to nubbins.  The pea plants are no taller than they were six weeks ago.  Then our cuddly friend discovered the carrots and the lettuce.  The little pecker is nibbling down our salads.  And a squirrel is eating our strawberries.  These critters are killing me.

I planted popcorn today.  Last year I had to plant corn three times.  The first time the turkeys ate the sprouts just as they emerged.  Then the crows did the same after I put up a scarecrow (can you say misnomer?).  Finally I hung a string across the bed with old CD’s hanging from it.  Those spinning reflectors kept the birds away.  I hope that this trick will keep them away again.  The popcorn was one of our best crops last year.

At this point the onions, at least the ten out of 26 that survived (no idea what was up with that) are healthy.  The leeks (except for the handful some crazy bird yanked out but left on the soil) are shooting up, and the pumpkins are spreading.  The tomatoes and peppers (planted a few days ago) are still alive but my optimism is wavering.  We will have some food out of this endeavor but not as much as we might.

I’m not all that upset, really.  I am disappointed, of course, but not upset.  This gardening adventure is about persistence over the long term.  I planted red zebra tomatoes the first summer.  They grew well but were not the sweetest.  I may plant them again as sauce tomatoes, or I might consider trying to grow them over a few years to breed sweeter fruit, but I learned that another variety might be better.  I also have not had much luck with melons.  They need warm weather and lots of it.  The beetles snacking on them don’t exactly help.  So melons will require much more trial and error (hopefully with diminishing error).

I have had luck with seeds I saved for peppers and pumpkins.  I will try more of that this year.  I like the idea of keeping the cycle going–planting seeds from plants that grew the previous year, then doing that again.  It is amazing that it works at all.  Plant a few seeds and they grow into plants that provide food?  That is plain old miraculous, really.

So I do what I can to keep things growing.  I weed and water and hang old computer discs.  I need to get on the cucumber beetles.  They haven’t hatched yet, but I know they won’t wait for an invitation to sit down to dinner on my cucumbers.  Their social graces, it seems, are less than refined.