Saturday, April 25, 2009

Good friends and Pig Shit

In the mid 1970's a group of families, including ours, migrated to our village. We were all of similar ages with children. The whys and wherefores of how this diverse group came to settle, for awhile, in this small village along the St. Lawrence river will provide fodder for a great many stories and anecdotes, both sad and hilarious. The common denominator for the larger number of the members of this group was teaching. The commonality for all the members was that they were all employed, middle class Americans seeking a quality life in an economy suffering downturn. Members included: Larry and Alison, Bill and Jane, Larry and Barb, Gerry and Peg, Jerry and Dale, rel and D., Bill and Jean, Buster and Caroline, Jim and Mary C., Jimmy and Nancy, Jane and Ray, and Mary and wayne. I may have left some one out unintentionally and if my readers know of anyone else who was in the Koffee Group please leave a comment or drop me an email and I'll add them herein.

Many of the families had vegetable gardens as did the greater number of households in America. It was a stuggling time for folks and we did what was necessary to save as much of our hard earned currency as possible. We planted vegetables, installed woodstoves and cut wood together, and did DIY home remodling projects. It was a time in life where the lessons of community were lived on a daily basis. This time was really The good ol' days.!!! What do I call the present? (The good now days!)

Jerry and Dale moved from the village to an old run down farm out on Potato Street, about a mile or two from the village. This gave them ample room to have a humongous vegetable garden, plant some nut trees and tend an enormous raspberry patch. The place came with a dilapitated barn which was servicable enough to house a few animals and therein Jerry raised a few pigs for slaughter.

Back in the village, I had decide to raise some rabbits for slaughter and also some chickens to provide eggs, and for stewing when ever they stopped laying.
One day I was building the rabbit hutches in the old rundown excuse for a garage that graced the back yard of our 1/5 acre plot. I took a break for supper and soon after eating the phone rang and it was Jerry of the Potato St. Farm.
Jerry: Whatch doin' rel?

rel: Just finished supper and am about to go out to the garage and finish putting the hardware cloth on the bottoms of the rabbit cages.

Jerry: rel, I just finished finished cleaning out the pig pen. Do you want me to bring you a load of fresh pig shit for your compost pile?

rel: Thanks Jer, but not today. I brought home a truck load of horse manure from Trudy's and that brought the level of my compost pile up to the top so I don't have any room for the pig shit until the pile settles. If you'll set a load aside for me I'll come and get it in a few days.

Jerry; Ok. Maybe I'll come over later for coffee.

rel: sure, ok, see ya then. bye

Jerry: bye.

About an hour later I'm lying on my back underneath the rabbit hutches stapling the wire floors to the bottom of the cages and I hear a car pull up out side the garage. Looking backwards over my forehead from my position flat on my back under the cages I regognize Jerry's white station wagon. I yell out that I'll be fininished in a sec. Jerry says, "take your time. I'll go inside and have a coffee with D."
"Ok," says I, and go back to finishing my task.

Fifteen or twenty minutes later, all done , I crawl out from under the cages and exit the garage to make my way down the hill to the house for coffee with my good friend Jerry. There in the middle of my drive way was a huge pile of fresh reeking pig shit wafting it's pungent aroma down the hill and enveloping a fair share of Main street. Standing on my back porch is my friend with a "gottcha" smile on his face and a cup of coffee in his hand, saying; "Didn't have any place to store it!" I was pissed in an ambivalent sort of way, and said "Thanks Mann, you're a real chum. I'll make good use of this in my garden." The smile faded from his face as I refused to admit I was pissed. My smile broadened as his faded knowing he'd hoped to "get" me.

Aside from a few embarrasing days when passing neighbors walked by holding their noses I was pleased to have this soon to be composted garden gold and believe you me, the garden that year was lush.

My father-in-law, who was a dairy farmer, used to always rave about my garden soil, saying how rich and loamy it looked. I liked to tell him this story about Jerry's pig shit delivery.

Jerry and I? Oh, we went in the house and had coffee. ;>)))

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

With the economy depressed, there's been talk of late of a resurgence in home vegetable gardens. First Lady, Michelle Obama made headlines with a photo of her turning the sod at the Whitehouse for a proposed veggie garden this year.

The pundits, media Moguls and bloggers, twitterers, and facebookers have grabbed a spade and declared that we'll see vegetable gardens reminiscent of the Victory gardens of WWII.

Myself I don't have to go back that far, although I can. In the late forties and early fifties, as a toddler, I can recall my parent's vegetable garden out next to the garage. The huge garden behind Aunt Nellie's over on Albany avenue provided a maze to cavort in as well as providing fresh food for the table. But it wasn't too many years before the garden plots were seeded over to nutritious Kentucky blue grass or pansies and irises.

Then, in 1972, the economy turned bleak again. Gasoline prices sky-rocketed to $1.50 a gallon from $0.35. and everybody was putting in a plot of vegetables to help cut the cost of living.

On a visit to the library on post at Fort Campbell I serendipitously stumbled across a magazine titled OGF (organic farming and gardening) published by Rodale Press and edited by Robert Rodale. In short order I became an advocate of gardening, vegetable gardening, organic vegetable gardening in particular. In the front of our on-post house D. planted flowers in the front and in the rear of the house, the part that received the lions share of sunshine, I planted my first plot of vegetables. Oh, it wasn't much; a few tomatoes and some string beans and lettuce. But it was a start. A start of a process that would last through today; 37 years. The biggest lesson I learned from that garden was the value of compost. Next to the garden plot, I started piling the grass clippings save when ever I mowed the lawn. Soon I had a pile of grass that measured a good 4 feet high and four feet around. As the growing season progressed the tomato plant nearest the heap of grass was easily 3 times the size of the others farther down the row. It was also greener and more lush. In the span of one hot Kentucky Summer I had found the value in gardening with compost.

Through the years we've had bigger and smaller gardens. In the past few years the plot for veggies has measured about 20 X 60, not counting the herb garden, blueberry patch, raspberries, grapes and strawberry bed. Oh and two apple trees (Macintosh and Cortland.) The old house we bought came with abundant flower beds which D. has maintained and added to over the years. There was a short span of time when we raised chickens for eggs and meat as well a rabbits. Did three turkeys one year but the neighbor's dog kilt off two.

When we moved here to our village home in 1975, almost every yard in the village had a vegetable plot of some size. Now, if there are 3 or 4 you'd be lucky. It'll be interesting to see if there is a resurgence of ground spading here this summer.

How about you? Are you going to plant some vegetables this year?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

So Much to say, so little time

On my drive to and from work everyday, a ton of ideas, thoughts, ruminations, and images flash through my mind. Some, I think, would make fine blog posts. But by the time I get in front of a computer the thoughts and ideas have flown the coop or there isn't enough time to flesh out my thoughts on paper, or more accurately; the blogger page. So this morning I'm going to do a list of thoughts, unfleshed out, but just to let you (whoever you may be) that my mind is still agile and functional.

1. I'm giving up my run this morning to type this post

2. Congratulations, Dan Ward, on being selected as Fireman of the year in Brier Hill!!!!

3. Thanks Chuck for the articles in the paper about the TEA parties and Earth Day.

4. Congratulations to Joe and Jane for continuing the 60 year old family florist business. More vegetables this year Joe, since the predictions are for a resurgence of home veggie gardens this year. My requests are for Delicious and Roma tomatoes, marketmore cukes, acorn squash, eggplant, basil, and....well you get the idea. ;-)

5. Congratulation Jay and Chipper on your Lime. You both make mom and I so proud!

6. Thanks Paul, for the invite to your 40th birthday party. You do know that I have a child older than you?

7. Thanks Dane and Becca,for the farm fresh eggs. And mostly Thanks for your friendship.

8. Thank you God for the morning sunrises!

9. Thank you Sirrius/XM for 60's, 50's, and 40's music to sing along to.

10. D., Thanks for the Nora Jones CDs, the home cooked meals and for just being there with love and understanding.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" (Jack Hylton, 1931)

Chipper says that the kumquat sized fetus is now the size of a lime as she enters week twelve.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wrapped in a cloak of fatigue of late,

as though walking along the rim of the abyss,

the days blend together.

Everyday I read two newspapers.

Everyday I peruse two online news sources.

Everyday I interact with people of all ages

from every spectrum of life.

Why then

did I miss

Earth Day?

Why did I not hear of,

nor read about

TEA parties?

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Carol Song

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ten week old fetus.
Same size!

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I work.

I sleep.

And dream of kumquats.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ya know the old sayin', What the heck, might as well do it today, I might be dead tomorrow-
The thing is, what if you're not dead tomorrow? One needs to show some restraint, don't ya think? Or else, tomorrow, you may not have the where-with-all to do what you want; again!

And that's only part of it. Imagine you decide to do something that would mean unpleasant repercussions if you saw the light of another day. Whoops.

Perhaps you'd atone for all your sins; cleanse your soul, clear your conscience. No down side there right? All depends; how strongly you believe in a here-after?

What if after your last breath, last EEG wiggle, last heart beat, that's all there is? Compost in a casket.

Maybe we never die. Maybe when life ceases as we know it and, left to nature, we begin to putrefy and stink. Imagine still being alive but in a state of suspended animation, senses intact, smelling your own worsening stench, feeling the pain of exposed nerve endings, constantly experiencing a feeling of suffocation. Every thought you've ever had running in an endless loop in your brain; no sleep, no surcease---- Oh you chose cremation. Hmmmm, toasty, gives a new meaning to, feel the burn.

Just ruminations folks. You know, a sick imagination. Who really believes all that malarkey about: "If you can imagine it, you can become it?" I mean, really! (actually, I do believe it.)

Don't worry, there'll always be a tomorrow. You might miss it, but the sun will rise with or without you. Right? The sun can't flame out, can it?

If the news headline said: TOMORROW CANCELLED PERMANENTLY!!!

I'd go to a place that always infuses me with calm, a place that always succeeds in sparking my imagination. I'd be in a library. The temperature would be 71 degrees F. and the humidity 49.8%. Sitting comfortably in an oak straight back chair, I'd place myself in a hypnotic trance and imagine myself transforming into a ray of light coursing through the universe for ever. Bringing light to new planets and new worlds endlessly being created.

Woe be it to the entity who disturbs my reverie to say: rel- that headline?---April Fool.

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