It is not a place where we live now. We carry it with us like a snow globe in our heart. If we lived there now it would not be Home Land or, at the least, we would not think of it as our Home Land as much as we would not think very much at all about the place where we are the most alive as being in our now home.
Why imagine the obvious of our here-and-now place on the planet?
When not in Home Land we are elsewhere. It hardly matters where the not Home Land is as one place is as good as another. We are forever mutable creatures, and if our now place is not as good as we may want in time, if we sit still enough, it wears on us until we live nothing different about it.
At times we rarely desire to be where we are at home quite as much as we desire to be where we are no longer.
We cannot exactly go back there to Home Land, actually, everyone that we remember has upped themselves by the roots and moved away, or died but the cold creek, the trees barren of leaves, the breadloaf hills, the ice and snow remain.
Remain as if waiting our return, but no, not waiting. Nature does not wait for us, the universe does not wait, or care, and it is just us in our not being there in Home Land that we miss.
It is at these times when messages that we receive from Home Land are nice gifts that we turn over and want to shake the shit out of them until the glass breaks and once more we are there.
There was a design and Jicklo had a purpose, a calling.
The proton beam from the alien vessel had struck him during the lightning storm that had struck him.
It takes things like that, like a bolt of electric hurled out of some unearthly closet to hit a drunken profligate man as if he were a dumb brute and carnal beast and turn him to a god’s grace. All in the technique and a flip of the wrist. Simply electrifying!
It was a revelation, a breach of faith in a lost time that he had been personally touched by the almighty highest being of all - a flash of white light and he was there with it forever. An ornithologist would have called it something else from a proctologist if evidence had been rigorously and scientifically collected.
From that incident toward there would be no change from the strength then endowed in Jicklo’s faith. Adam-ant as a multi-colored rock he would babble at the frop of a hat. He can sell fish water. A faith derived through a Baptism of Protoplasmic Electricity. And with it Jicklo in his squat twist and dance had a purpose that he was now in charge to shape up to a respectable prosperity -- to charge up, bring up to his god’s Standard of Voltage, as he talked at the morning crew on his first day while they stood around the floor of the shop dumb but expectant… a Standard of Voltage as he explained it to turn this hero shop around in his perfected inconsistency.
Nothing was the same ever once everything was not ever even the same again. It was just like this with the man. In image of his god, confused but perfectly delightful.
He yammered at them like a driven avenger. That particular mid-morning his normal small nutlike eyes alit with fire and glitter, with sparks and his tongue was like a whiplash of mayo on the mountain of their flesh nubile minds, these minimum-wage know-nothing kids.
During which Jicklo unconsciously displayed oddly natured compulsive techniques with a soiled mop handle to which he had duct taped a broken metal kitchen utensil as if to form a devil's fork - as if he were on the brink of a seizure, and he then ran and ran the day crew, the post-pubescent part-timers and townies who endured through the stations of his stiff display.
As if waltzing on black walnuts.
He said, “We will have a winning team or bust,” as he instructed them to hold out their hands in prayer. And so they were there stood in a circle of fervent beneath-the-breath mumbling with their hands extended out over the egg salad.
With a desire to win over by a grand gesture all of a heathen generation, and as Preacher Jicklo of the Agape Church of All Dominance who felt and perhaps or considered unwisely his being in need of a few additional points of divine intervention -- to go the halfway that oddly short little guy that he now knew and confessed as his personal god required in order for HIM to take over and handle the other half to achieve ultimate victory in a world of blasphemous sin, indecent bodily noises and fornication destined to burn in the very Hell that Preacher Jicklo had visited, vicariously or otherwise while sprawled out naked in the corn field on the tall North hill on that memorable night on the outskirts of Sumner Hill Nudist Colony in the pounded rain and world-record-setting hail.
They were as big as small melons.
But honestly, it all had very little to do with his shoving the broken fork into the electric outlet.
I have been friends with John Stahl for a few decades through his previous business incarnations and having attended his recent presentation session at the IPTW 2010 in Frankfort, KY I was quite impressed with the manner in which he interfaced directly with the needs of his audience. I believe that everyone who attended the session left with really good ideas as to how to improve their business situations.
I have been working on a Theory of the Conservation of Bright Ideas for several years now.
I know of people who have too many bright ideas, they have bright ideas like a horse pie has mushrooms. What I have learned, having had my own bright ideas, is that the idea in and of itself is not of value, but the sweat and commitment to realize the idea is the most important element. This said, what I find is that if bright ideas are too freely traded around and have no bone to them that they tend to lose their luster. At issue with a bright idea is that simply having it, or having the most remarkable bright idea is not a guarantee that other people will pick it up and move forward with it. In other words, if a bright idea does not have LEGS then it won't walk.
One bright idea I had was the Traditional Trades Education Resource Directory and I was really into it and had structured a 'team' of partners and advisers and written a nice grant proposal until it was pointed out to me that the acronym is T-TERD.
But as to the Theory of the Conservation of Bright Ideas what I find is that folks who have a bright idea and then commit to doing the hard grunt work of realizing the one idea into the world, that they stick to it tenaciously through thick and thin, that they never take defeat for an answer, that they are not dissuaded or drawn off track by other competing bright ideas, that they tend to have fewer bright ideas than the person who freely willy nilly invents bright ideas in the gross -- the bright idea fountain that spews forth without ever having any hope or intention of realizing the ideas (they are already very bright and shiny), for the most part expecting other folks to catch on to the magnificence of the bright idea and be inspired to do the work.
There is only so much energy and attention that an individual, or a group of people, can put into the world in the realization of bright ideas.
One aspect of the Theory of the Conservation of Bright Ideas is that in a culture and economy where it is not possible to do anything to realize a bright idea that there seems to be a direct correlation to the production of bright ideas. It is as if when one cannot work to realize bright ideas then it is just as well to have an abundance of them. But in an environment where people can actually work to realize bright ideas they tend to get caught up in following them to the exclusion of coming up with all freshly minted new ones.
Lately we have been dealing with two very small projects in Manhattan; neither of them will take more than a day to do, but the problems of getting permits through bureaucracy, deposits from clients, negotiating of contracts, insurance with correct spelling of the company name and an as-yet undetermined permission from an alien god, is driving us a bit nuts. It is eating up a whole lot of time better spent and for very small prizes that seem to get smaller and smaller the longer we work at it. When we go through rashes like these I characterize that we are being nibbled to death by duck shit (a friend says they have a horn worm problem where the wasps have laid eggs in the body and the worm is now paralyzed).
So it was with pleasure when I got home the other day to find an envelope from Scotland. In it was a book of poems and a note, in incredibly cool hand written print, “Thought you might appreciate a copy of my poetry book.” From Jim... with a signature in blue ink that reminds me that Kilroy was here. I smile.
This Is Not About What You Think, by Jim Murdoch. What I like best about this collection of poetry, in fact what I like best about Jim’s two previous novels, Living with the Truth and Stranger than Fiction is that I understand them very clearly, they are accessible to me, and yet, they come from another world than my own.
After I read Jim's novel Stranger than Fiction I felt this closeness to the spirit of the author, whom I have never met but with whom I have often corresponded about nonesuch, and I got so wrapped up in trying to understand why the writing seemed so comfortable for me, as if written by a semi-adopted brother, a friend so close to the family that we own each other, that I never finished writing a review. Sometimes I sit, some times I sit and think.
As Jim says, “No poem is ever about what you think it is. You’re always required to read in between the lines and so it’s up to each reader to provide his or her context and meaning generally from dipping into their own experience.” To me that statement seems fairly straightforward edging toward blasé, I mean, “Who would think otherwise than to read into a text what they bring of their own understanding?” That said, there is, at least for me, something much more subtle at work here in a local to global context.
When I go to our nearby fast-food eatery on Long Island, a good ways East of Manhattan, I often find myself unable to understand the talk, in my own home territory, not because of multi-national service workers, or my suspected loss of hearing, but that the native population -- I swear – is almost enunciating in some archaic form of Dutch-English held over from a pre-Revolution era of disjointed grammar and bastardized by a contemporary addiction to television sitcom blurps.
I often misunderstand my Scottish friends when I talk with them. I can be dense of hearing. It is one of my creative talents that I often hear the wrong thing said. One friend got upset when he thought I was making fun of him when I told him I had bought an English-Scot Dictionary. [My ancestry in part is either Northern English or Scot, we can't quite get it straight but I do like the music of bagpipes, and banjos.] Fact is I delight in variation of words, meaning and the music of spoken sound. Let alone exotic meanings never intended. I suspect if I had to listen to Jim Murdoch speak I would be totally flummoxed.
But there is also this thing going on in the world of literary writing brought on in great part by the internet, and the revolution of a communication media that provides ready access to a whole host of people who in the not-so-distant past would not have either written and published, or readers that would have read odd stuff, or writers that would never have got to know each other, even if only virtually.
That is where I bring in the need for a sense of context. As Jim says, “...to provide his or her own context...” (Meaning is too complicated to deal with out of context and we sincerely hope to be devoid of any reference to meaning here in this context.)
Where the literary writing world is at is that at one time a reader would come to an author’s work, and an author would come to be a writer-in-public, through a bit of a structure that would in essence channel the context, such that everyone approaching the text would have some affinity of understanding. If we were looking for a mystery story then we would go to the mystery section of the bookstore. If we wanted poetry then some of us would go to the academy, and some would go to the streets.
We would think that this renowned poetry journal or that esteemed book press, or the Archie Randolph Ammons’ school, or the disembodied Naropa, or the famous block-buster agent, or a thousand-and-one self-flagellating prizes all too quickly forgot, plus tenure and creative writing programs and 50,000 or so certified vsf writers produced per year, would provide all that we would need of context.
But context has all been blown up, exploded, nucleated, irradiated, BLASTED and all sorts of people from all sorts of lives (this is an incredible Jasperian world-view existential moment that were are living through even though Existentialism is so old-fashioned) are jumping up and writing from their local understanding pouring heart and soul and other yukky stuff into a global media that is not particularly well structured and each and every individual, though they do over time tend to band together in clusters of near familiarity, is writing from the context of their individual lives. It is really super kool!
If your context as an author does not match anywhere near to my context as a reader then where the hell are we? Not Kansas, sadly.
So it is with great pleasure that I receive a book from a friend in Scotland, a fellow writer, and reader, and that I find I can not only enjoy the poetry, but understand it very well.
More Advice to Children:
People leave; it’s what they do.
They don’t have to go away
but somehow they still do.
And the worst of it is,
they leave a bit at a time
till you don’t even notice
they’re not there anymore.
They never really were.
Get more, order your copy at Fandango Virtual
Community of Kracton last year fell prey to boosterism. It was widely said what was needed is a bit more obvious of a historic perspective than Mr. Yeardley’s antique domicile. Victorian as it is a colonial homestead converted in the late 20th century and much decorated with vinyl gingerbread it would hardly do for a representation of the community history as worse than anything it resided on a remote side-street behind the landfill and was rarely visited. Even despite so many books within and that it housed the largest collection of kerosene lanterns and stuffed squirrels within a hundred miles it was not enough of an attraction and the undesignated site was irretreivably not considered worthy of mention on Kracton's paper placemat maps.
It was a prime modern example of inaccessible history
So up the merchants with prominence of mind built a twenty-foot high brick lighthouse, despite the lack of any direct maritime history of any significance other than the burn and sink of the steam ferry Frontenac on Dead Lake… the fathers and mothers built the Kracton Lighthouse on the road west of town in from Wetwater Falls, in a small triangle formerly of chicory and Queen Anne’s lace and a few scattered rocks, right across from the Revolution era cannon that nobody really noticed before then. From where the cannon arrived they know not as there has never been recorded any Battle of Kracton, not even a skirmish or whiskey or tax or free love rebellion. The Bannerman decor afterward, after the build of the faux lighthouse, became subject of a planting of brilliant orange and yellow marigolds.
As to the sort-of tall but not too tall beacon the incandescent once it was ignited proceeded to flicker with a spastic rhythm on all nights save Halloween ‘cause the psychic-for-hire selected by the fathers and mothers of Kracton never pulled out his crystal pendulum to check the conflict of ley lines before the John Anderson & Son’s Albino Electricians hooked the past up to the nearby present of the streetlamp. It was a small detail.
There was he hoped much hope of a rise for Jefferson to be divined yet in Kracton in his position of responsibility for operation at this shop on High Street, the place on High Street where everything is at, perfect or otherwise the original place of our creation and the pivot point of the Kracton Commons. A place much better thought of than actually witnessed, a pit of dry masonry interfaced with weeds.
There was a design and Jefferson had a purpose, a calling. The proton beam from the alien vessel had struck him during the lightning storm that had struck him. It takes things like that, like a bolt of electric hurled out of heaven to hit a drunken profligate man as if he were a dumb brute beast and turn him to god’s grace. It was a revelation, a breach of faith in a lost time that he had been personally touched by the almighty highest being of all - a flash of white light and he was there with it... like he was there forever. A philologist would have called it something else from a proctologist if evidence had been scientifically collected.
From that incident forward there would be no change from the strength then endowed in Jefferson’s faith. A faith derived through a Baptism of Electricity. And with it he had a purpose that he was now in charge to shape up to a respectable prosperity -- to charge up, bring up to his god’s Standard of Voltage, as he talked at the morning crew on his first day… a Standard of Voltage as he explained it to turn this sandwich shop around in his perfected consistency.
Talked at them like a driven avenger. His normal small nutlike eyes alit with fire and glitter, with sparks and his tongue was like a whiplash of thunder on the mountainous crests of their docile minds. It was as if he had followers in this assortment of the minimally employed.
During which Jefferson unconsciously displayed oddly natured compulsive techniques with a soiled mop handle - as if he were possessed, and he then ran the day crew, the post-pubescent part-timers and townies who endured through the stations of their shit. He said, "We will have a winning team or bust,” as he instructed them to hold out their hands in prayer. And so they were there stood in a circle of fervent prayer with their hands extended out over the three-day old egg salad.
With a desire to win over by a grand gesture all of a heathen generation, and as he perhaps considered wisely, Preacher Jefferson being in need of a few additional points of divine intervention -- to go the halfway that oddly short little guy that he now knew and confessed as his personal god required in order for HIM to take over and handle the other half to achieve ultimate victory in a world of blasphemous sin, flatulence and fornication destined to burn in the very Hell that Preacher Jefferson had visited, vicariously or otherwise while sprawled out naked in the corn field that memorable night on the outskirts of Sumner Hill Nudist Colony in the pounded rain and hail.
Preacher Jefferson hired a local artist, a world-untraveled townie, to paint a mural on the lengthy expanse of knee scuffed sheetrock just inside the door -- this meant that a few things had to be shifted around to make room for the project. The blasphemous cig machine, the dispenser of cancer was moved outdoors to the back alley.
Slow progress and for starters Garph Bell who was commissioned with a soft handshake went at it like a wailing banshee, a perverse precursor, with a wallpaper brush and painted the entire expanse of the wall in sight and an arm’s reach a sickly lemon green. It was an organic eco-friendly color.
Between Garph’s cuss and swear at the wall, at the brushes that lost their hair like wet shag onto the inexpensive floor tile at his bare feet, at glops of paint, he growled at customer’s children, he said, he had said that he had done this new wave impressionism style one time before in Newport at a used car lot. In fact, he had shown Preacher Jefferson newspaper clippings to support that at the Bhaghagotti Goomba Dent & Trade where the used Fords & Chevrolet’s had similarly been painted up with bold swirls and dashed attempts at spastic paisleys.
Heavy brush strokes, lumps of paint, horrendous streaks and bulbous drips as pendulous as honeydew melons protruded from the breasts of Garph’s sacred "Uma”, as he had informed us of the title of his inspiration later past midnight on the day of the night in which he received his morning glorious commission.
On Tuesday afternoon his frantic arm motions swung heavy in their arc across the white bareness of the wall and left traces of lemony green that resembled plant-fluid spurts gushed from a fleshy prophylactic geyser. Though it may have been the wet dream of an overhormoned cucumber it was later proclaimed an homage to men in black, for which Garph and Preacher Jefferson had reached a thematic though somewhat shadowy understanding between them.
For those of us in the know there was the hint of the Cadillac in the smear if one squinted eyes up and turned the head just slightly angled down to the left and made sure to catch the just-right angle of reflection off the storefront glass.
Preacher Jefferson was very pleased with himself though not exactly sure why, and Samson, the owner of the shop, though perplexed, thought it best at this development to not interfere lest he lose one more manager for the dying business.
When it seemed that no more creative effort could possibly be expended to turn away good customers Garph with the intuition of a true genius broke out his gallon of day-glo orange.
It was like Peter Max, Chagall and Long John on a bad trip on a picnic along the Interstate Defense System in a mock battle to out freak and maim each other. Screeched and crashed their tin imported-tiny-cars, Crescendo and Blitzer and Yugo all alike bashed and blazed purple and chrome Kenilworth semis loaded with pig shit run over pickle park and slammed on the brakes and blew their horses before they collided into the local brick bank at the intersection and set the small stream behind of the town of Lodi on fire. An event conceived by grand design to burn away most of the sheltered habitations of the citizenry of the small village. The run away. The residents of the Sumner Hill Nudist colony on the nearby rise were portrayed as silhouettes of little humanoid bodies against the distant light as they fled in flight across the sparsely wooded landscape, trees aflame and large gouged holes in the earth spewed forth Mercurial potions in brightly decoded methane clouds in a sort of Hieronymus Bosch melee and it was called FRACK.
All of this amazement of narrative with only the use of two colors confined to a limited gustatory palate. It was truly a color-field tour de force. It was a thing to go to visit just to see if Jesus was actually present. The Savior as lurker in the background. May those who say nothing inherit the ether? An extra brought in on a donkey or towed behind a bobcat that would stand up and make a scene like a cosmic lighten’ rod. It was, in the best analysis of the day, a disjunctive angst ridden explosive avant-garde art work and Preacher Jefferson actually did seem to wholly embrace that splash even as if he had been converted to a top-flight soap salesman.
On one early evening, possibly a result of a general sense of positive thinking and divinely inspired euphoria, when Martin was just starting on his shift, it was when Preacher Jefferson brought into the shop his younger second wife, Patricia.
A friend of mine on their way on the LIE to the Midtown Tunnel called me the other morning and asked if I had on the NPR program, All Things Considered. He told me they were talking about the resurgence of backyard chicken farms in NY.
A few months back when I first got my current batch of chicks he had warned me that the raccoons would get them. We shared a few stories. A coop can be so well designed to keep out foraging critters that when it rains real heavy the chickens drown.
This morning he exclaimed how sometimes he forgets that I am avant-garde. I told my wife and she laughed that 15 years ago when we had chickens and guinea hens, and prairie dogs and an iguana and pygmy hedge hogs (some of you may remember the pygmy hedge hog all-natural yogurt business plan) that we may have been avant-garde then.
Today, with the economic recession that may be receding, maybe not -- we are forward looking revivalists. We look forward to eggs, which the chickens should start to lay in about another month.
My friend said that he considers taking it up. Chickens are related to pheasants and the two of us have shared some good times on pheasant hunts. Regardless, I told him that to keep chickens is not all that much work and to care for a small flock of birds helps us to be grounded in a keep sane sort of way when all else in the world may seem interminably out of control.
I also told him about our cage.
Our yard is fenced and I would like to let the chickens roam but my wife tells me that as the work area of the yard is a ‘green industrial zone’ that she would prefer I not risk the chickens run into the lead coated copper scraps or fiberglass resin or the spill of hydrated mason’s lime in the driveway. I have no problem there. I don’t want them to invade the garden and eat all the leaves off the pepper plants. So I built a cage that the chickens are happy in and not so closed up that they have any reason to feel oppressed.
I modeled the construction of our coop on the ones that we saw at Agway (our farm store where we went to meet the mushroom guy from the Cornell Cooperative Extension who talked one Saturday morning about his chickens that he raises in his back yard out near Riverhead). Their coops are all painted pretty and sell for $1,000 and up.
We were not ourselves looking for a Martha Stewart chicken experience.
Our coop cost less than $100 in materials and gives us a whole lot more capacity and enhancement to the chickens, at least in their response to life quality issues, than we would have got with the pre-built models. We even have solar electric, and if pressed I bet we could do a LEEDS on it though I am not so sure about the geo-thermal. We do have in mind some improvements and I noticed that the few shovels of dirt I threw in the other day that the chickens knew exactly what to do with it.
So, as a main life-support unit there is the roost box that also houses the water and the basic feed. I got tired of filling the feed every day and adapted the off-the-shelf feeder with a plastic pretzel bottle (sparrows ate the pretzels... sorry if our localized sparrows now have high bird pressure, it will pass) all held together with hot glue. Hot glue is so neat to play with. The roosting box needs ventilation and with the painter’s cloth over the roof I can regulate the exposure for the sleeping birds. Eventually I may figure out something more permanent, but I like to think slow sometimes. One thing to keep in mind is that chickens to remain healthy need to acclimate to their hot or cold environment. You have to give them tough love and let them weather it out. Lately with the heat wave they wander around with their beaks open.
The roost box is attached to the nest box that has two nests. I read that the chickens will take turns using the nests. We will see. The nest box has a tilt up lid so that us humans can reach in and steal the eggs. The nest box is exactly 20 steps from the kitchen frig. It is 30 steps to the outdoor rocket stove and the giant frying pan. Fresh fried eggs on a Sunday morning!
Toward the yard side of the nest box the door is a pull up. I pull it up in the morning and the chickens jump off their roost pole, clucking at me and then they run outside to their yard on the ladder ramp. At night, unless I fall sleep and forget, the door is dropped as an extra protection against raccoons.
But there is one factor that is important -- in the past we lost chickens to raccoons (who rip the chicken’s heads off and leave the carcasses behind and not even eat them... nasty animals) that the yard on this cage is totally fenced top, all sides, top and bottom. The bottom wire is heavy duty fence and not the lighter duty chicken wire.
Another friend, who also wants to raise chickens, asked me how often we have to clean out the coop. He thought maybe twice a week. I told him twice a year, though we have not had to do that on ours so far. The roost box has slats in the bottom. A reason for the ventilation when you accommodate chickens is that their manure produces nitrogen. Nitrogen is incredibly good for garden fertilizer, and I have used chicken manure based fertilizers for many years.
I was also asked about feeding the chickens and I had fun describing how they like watermelon butts, dandelion greens, worms (they don’t seem to know what to do with slugs), all sorts of left over greens and rice and corn flakes and corn cobs and radish tops. I keep finding new things to feed them, but it is a supplement to the regular chicken feed that I keep them supplied with. During their laying they need calcium and I will then feed them with a supplemented feed.
Of all the food scraps and yard weeds (we use no chemicals on our lawn except to kill the poison ivy and I don’t plan on feeding the chickens poison ivy) I figure that whatever the chickens do not eat that combined with their manure we have a compost situation... and whatever bugs are created in the open air the chickens will be entertained to chase after and eat.
You can see my observation camp chair (red) in the photo. One thing that amazes me is that if I sit and hold a leaf up to their cage that the chickens go nuts to climb all over each other to get a nibble of it. The minute I let go of the leaf they lose interest. When I go around that area of the yard they always talk to me.
So, I heard this joke... If I cut a foot off my rooster and feed it to your donkey what do we call that? [I reserve the right to not tell the punch line.]
The first word that I learned to read was SALT. It was on the side of a small white ceramic salt shaker printed in blue below a rendition of a Dutch windmill. I do not know what the Dutch have to do with salt. There was a great-grandmother that lived across the street from us in a house trailer and she collected salt shakers. I am fond of chicken motif salt shakers. When I graduated high school I worked at a salt mine. At the age of fifty I learned what is an egg cup. Alison Watt got me straight on that one. There was little grammar involved. I like chicken egg cups. I also like faux chicken eggs. The glass ones in particular, I like them many times better than the raccoon pecker-bone collection. If a chicken see a fake egg in their nest the anthropomorphic impression is that it will induce them to lay... eggs. I read the word anthropomorphic in a book one day on my paper route while I relaxed below a bridge abutment. I like to use that word anthropomorphic as much as possible. It makes me look smarter than me. It means close-minded human person, a sort of psychotic condition whereby we imagine to control our environment through non-disclosure, I mean, full ahead ignorance and denial. Some of the smartest people in the world have been anthropomorphic.
Mudslide is our beloved short-hair Border Collie that we acquired from the town animal shelter. Previous to us he had a rough life and it took us a while to adjust our behaviour. What we have learned is that a Border Collie needs a job, actually, needs a whole lot of jobs. They are dogs with a strong sense of working responsibility.
In Mudslide's case he feels a need to protect us from the invasion of children, buses, and bicyclists, Fed Ex and UPS and anyone that dares to touch our fence that runs on two street sides of our corner property. The long side is 100 feet and there is a local bicyclist who tries to outrace Mudslide from one corner to the other. The human never wins. I read once that there are only two beings with endless energy, children and dogs.
During the summer when we keep the doors open whenever Mudslide has valiantly protected us he comes in panting and triumphant, and of course we duly praise him for his good honest work. The local children, by the way, seem to enjoy his attention.
Our friend Mary Tegel in Oregon posted online a comment about desire paths and as a result I was inspired to photo document Mudslide's desire path.
At the Northwest corner beneath/behind the butterfly bush.
From the corner over the exposed crab apple root.
That exposed crab apple root, the Spitfire, and the heirloom irises (on the left) and the trunk of the crab apple tree. We call this our Side Yard.
Moving on past the picnic table.
On past Dixie. Mudslide was her companion in her later years.
We place obstacles along the path of desire.
The hose is here temporary in slight retaliation for Mudslide having finally killed off the rose bush that was protected by the round terra cotta flue section. Then again, Mudslide likes to jump over and run under obstacles. This is the North East corner.
The North East corner is the most active corner. We had blueberry bushes that after many years were actually doing pretty well here until Mudslide came along. It does not really matter so much because usually the birds ate all the blueberries.
This is D Dog's plant. I don't really know what it is, but I need to make sure Mudslide's desire does not trample it.
This is where D Dog does his eternal rest. He got buried on the corner because he was a fence jumper, we could never keep him within the yard. He would often stand in the intersection and watch the neighborhood in four directions. Our neighbors, who often took him in for meals and overnights, nicknamed him The Mayor. He and Dixie were companions and when he passed we got Mudslide because Dixie was obviously terribly lonely.
Now we head South past the white cedar pole, the Theocratic Anarchist Shrine. A Jean-Luc Picard action figure until recently hung from the pole. But now we grow Morning Glories from a coffee can hung in a macrame net holder. Theocratic Anarchists are into seasonal decor just like with all ancient religious persuasions. Our favorite gathering is the annual Farting Man celebration.
It may be hard to see in this picture but there is red volcanic rock pebbles here. You can see the sand, this is inside the gate where I pile bags of sand for various uses -- PU truck ballast mainly, brickwork when desperate. I made a hearth slab for the wood stove and used the red volcanic stone as an exposed aggregate. What was left over got dumped here.
Intersection of contemporary, historic, and Mudslide's desire path. He often desires to go outside the gate as it is a special treat. People tend to enter the property through the gate. That horizontal section in the photo is cold asphalt... the concrete sidewalk bulged there from an oak tree root and I had to make accommodation for the desire path of the tree. I have never known a dog to have such a strong sense of boundary. Mudslide tends to kick the volcanic stone pebbles into this path. They are ankle benders. I step on them then kick them out of the way. I figure eventually we will all have our desire paths cleared, including that of the volcanic stone that in our environment is an invasive alien presence.
Note the under-bush hiding zone. This is where Mudslide hides when I go to batting baby raccoons around in the kitchen at late night w/ a broom handle. This space reminds me of a backwater lagoon.
Exit to the South.
I always know where the chew toys go to hide.
Here we come, past the dead tree wood pile (thanks to LIPA), to a point of intervention. Mudslide's desire path ran through the Jerusalem Artichoke. I could not abide that and installed a deterrent barrier system. The bucket of water is NOT for skeeter breeding -- despite various rumors I am not into skeeters as pets. It is to water the upside down zucchini plants without need to go drag the hose around each time.
This is the old path. Now an ecologic reclamation zone. The Jerusalem Artichoke has not yet got the message, but this year I threw in a lot of earthworm laden compost. About once a year I remember to dig up some of the tubers for a fine dinner. Mostly I like the small sunflowers and the lush greenery. Note: Works well to hide otherwise taboo landscape plantings.
The restructured desire path heads south toward the driveway. Cuts through the vegetable/herb garden with sufficient traffic barriers to reduce paw prints in the dill and/or okra bed etc.
One of my desire paths. Mudslide so far appears intimidated by the canyon effect. On our property there is obviously maintained an intersection of desire paths -- mixed use yardage.
Entering the drive way. When I come home with the truck to put it in the drive this is where Mudslide stands as he waits for me to back in the truck.
The south gate. South East corner, terminus of Mudslide's desire path, the drive way... unless we want to get into where he chases semi-feral cats.
He likes me, but if you don't know him then best advice is don't put your hands on the fence.
I learned to garden from my mother. She learned to garden from her father. He likely learned form his mother in Iowa. I learned a bit of gardening from my grandfather as well.
I was brought up as an organic gardener. As a kid we always had manure and compost and mulch. If I had my dithers I would say to hell with fixing old buildings and would forever garden. The house and the little plot of land that we have as our residence on the south shore of Long Island halfway to Montauk we bought twenty years ago mostly because of the rich diversity of plantings and vegetation in such a small area. It made us.
This raised garden plot next to the driveway I have cultivated for twenty years.
That is a bit of a long time to be screwing around with enriching the soil. When I started we had Japanese Beetles, now we have earthworms. A few years of Guinea Hens did wonders. My son, recently, dug into it and I felt really good when he said, "Hey, this is really good dirt." There are only so many things that we can truly pass on in life and as with all stalwart gardeners we know that the next property owner after us will not quite GET IT and dig it up for more lawn.
There were years in which I could not bring myself to do a damned thing about the garden. When one oak tree got cut down it took me years to get the gumption to roll the 10' long 2' thick logs out of the beds. The stump now makes a good seat, one that I have earned. Then there was the year I grew a Beefsteak tomato plant 15' tall and had to get a ladder to trim it. I was known for a brief stint by the kids in the neighborhood as the man with the green ass... at least that is what our 90+ year old neighbor down the street thought was what the kids had told him.
Then again for twelve years I commuted to Brooklyn in a vehicle alone by myself 5 hours a day and when I landed back home the first thing that I did, before even going in to see the family, kiss kiss, hug hug, was go see what had grown that day. Flowers blooming turn me on.
This garden has kept me alive, and nowadays with the economy as screwed up as it is this garden keeps me alive today. If I can hold on to figuring out how to get the friggen Salvadorian Cucumber to actually produce a pickle-candidate then I just might make another year in my life is how I say it. One cuke at a time. Size is not the problem here.
Oh, I almost forgot. I want to point out that I mulch with masonry and contractor grade plastic garbage bags. We got some terra cotta, some white marble and some floor slate here along w/ a field of tree mulch from the local landfill recycle facility. These are mostly cherry tomatoes, closely spaced, yes, and a few yellow low-acid tomatoes.
This masonry mulch around delicate seeded sage is fragments of John Early exposed aggregate precast panels from the Edison Memorial Tower at Menlo Park, NJ, the exact specific location where the incandescent lightbulb was invented by Thomas Edison. Don't you just love the fact that there is a small quantity of such heritage fabric laying in an otherwise anonymous garden patch on Long Island? Who would have thunk it? In our case it was stuff on the plaza that we had to clean up before we left the site... tidiness is next to godliness, or whatever. I am not quite sure where the white marble came from. It could have been from a bathroom.
This masonry mulch around the tarragon (hopefully the wilting tarragon will pick up as I love to get that really strong Polish vodka and imbibe it with tarragon) is a combination of slate and mural tiles that were made by Augustine D'Andino in Puerto Rico... left over from a tile mural that we installed for him too many years ago on a public school in Brooklyn.
Augustin: we are sorry that this tile got broke. FYI we have a few that we have manged to not break. We continue to this day to use that incredible fabric bag that you gave us. If you read this please connect and say hello.
This was the 1st oak tree that we lost. It makes a good seat. I was really unhappy when we lost the Hemlock to woolly algid. I was unhappy when we lost the Catalpa, but as you will see later it showed up again. I love the Virginia Creeper. I hate the poison ivy (not in this picture because wherever it shows up I kill it... but not
as my grandfather taught me by burning it... no, no, no) [does a period go here?].
This is the section of the raised be that is David's. There was some confusion over how it would be managed so I planted a variety of cooking (not hot) peppers. Some plants thrive in our garden, some don't. I love marigolds and companioin planting but we have a ghost that wilts them.
Notice the Catalpa in the background.
Long Island is not exactly known as the Okra Capital like Phelps, NY is know for sauerkraut, but hey, I like Texas hot pickled okra. Why not? Even if I got to buy it in a jar.
We have a problem growing squash so I figured might as well try growing them upside down.
The German Chamomile is doing pretty good.
The little herbal masonry zone just inside the entry gate. The chamomile, a bit of oregano, and cilantro.
Our front porch.
After the last half-naked drunk guy walked in to make liberty of the latrine - not me - yes, laugh at that one, I did a bit of fueng shuaway (besides chasing him with an axe in my underwear) and put a slight zig in the zag. Used to be a straight line into the house. No telling who would show up. On the right we have the 'forever' geranium, then some upside down squash close to where I can remember to water it, the ears of the perennial amarylis (not nearly as nice as the one the VI has), the weird South American suprise cukes that act like they want to go back home, twin rosemary -- I like herbs if only all I get is to small them when crushed between the fingers, with their extra-special yellow ambient lighting, the impatiens that seem to really like us and the birds and gray and one black squirrel at the feeder... and the nefarious endangered marine moss. Don't forget the marine moss. Endangered.
I can't quite remember but I think this is going to be a Moon Flower. We often have good moon at our house.
Thjere was a time when I was really heavy into miniature roses. I keep thinking this one is a goner but it keeps on thriving.
Gabriel Orgrease: A descendant of Daniel Boone (who once cut the epic "I kilt a bar" in the bark of an oak), GO often leaves good writing in strange places for inquisitive readers to find. Carved on stones in riverbeds, scratched on the backs of matchbook covers, plastered on placards of trams, fingered in the dust of old windows, he maintains pride in a compulsive obscurity through the artifice of unmitigated disguise. Look for his best work near you.