Saturday, April 7, 2018

How to Write


  The problem with being a young writer is that to be a good writer you need to have developed enough wisdom that you actually have something to say. 
  One truth you often hear from the elders is that  you are only as old as you feel; so I am pretty damn old now.  When I was a young, learning writer, I decided that I would  practice writing until I was old and experienced enough that I actually had something to say, so now, I do, so you may  ask me about any question and I should be able to give you a brief and compelling answer.   
       Alternatively, you may believe that, as Robert Frost so cleverly put it,  learning to write is simply a matter of learning how to have something to say.  On the other hand, as Frost maybe learning to write is really more a matter of learning how to say something, anything, just so that  you   convey some relevant information, entertain or piss the reader off, or at least drag them with you all the way to the end.
      If there are no more questions, I will have to be getting along now.  Marshal? “What is the meaning of Lice.”
        Bite me Marshal, you joker.  Thanks for being here for us.  Bye now.

My Collegue the Carpenter Ant


  I sleep deep, and if I dream down there  I don’t   remember it, but as I get closer to waking I experience shuddering images of roof- rot, rising damp,  mice- shredded insulation and so on: all of which   follow me from that half-sleep  into the day time, even as I drive down a street, painfully aware of the condition of each roof I pass.
   I don’t worry about Carpenter ants though. They may be foreign and invasive, but  Carpenter ants are my friend, and not because were work the same trade, which is not exacctly the case. They are your friend too, if you only know.
        Despite the common belief, Carpenter Ants do not saw lumber from your studs, and use it to stick-frame little ant houses of their own. Looking for a home, they simply seek out rotten wood they can easily tunnel through and hollow out. If you destroy the ants, you will need to get new ones, although if you replace the rotted wood, and take care of your lousy leaking roof or the place where the gardener piled the dirt up against the clapboards inorder to plant your Azelias. 
    After that is taken care of, you should consider a roof job, as the shingles that were put on, maybe thirty years ago, had a twenty five year warranty at the most and, anyway, that roof has too low a slope for shingles to seal it and should have been done with metal, rubber, or at least double coverage asphalt roll roofing, and if you don’t plan to keep the eves trough clear, it would be better to just leave it off after the roof job, seeing as it has foot high locust trees growing in it, and serves to back up the runn off so that it is rotting the eves.  
         Clearing gutters well forested as that, I sometimes find populations of mature earth worms, which I am careful to transport to a better place.  Worms are my friends.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I carry my camera almost always and take pictures endlessly but, until now,  I haven’t downloaded anything from the camera for a week or so, and that is because of what the camera saw….  I  dread looking at the photographs,   and am uncertain how I can get that sight off my mind without getting it off my camera and on somebody else's mind. 

      In any case, it happened that I was down by the chicken house when I heard the voices of our neighbor kids going up their long driveway toward the road  behind the corn crib where I could not see them. One of them was calling to Zoey, their St. Bernard rescue dos.
     When I came up the path Georgia, standing on the porch, told me that she saw the kids in   the middle of the road, and standing around something lying there.
         She called out “Are you allright?” No answer, just the kids talking fast, over and under one another as they went back up the drive to their house, calling Zoey  along.

            I went out to the road.

         Up close, the lump  on the road was a Grey Fox: larger than a Red Fox, smaller than a Coyote; grey, red, and brown with  face markings like an owl or a hawk:   beautiful and burst …split open, her naked foetal kits lying on and around her,
    I put the vixen and her   kits off to the side of the road where the Crows and Vultures that clean up around here will not block the highway.
  I am grateful that I did not have to go back to the house for my gun to put her out of my misery, as has happened  with deer, here at the level top of this hill where animals like to cross, from gully head to gully head, and people in cars, having gained the top of the hill, really get up to speed.


Monday, November 27, 2017

WILLIAM    I hope you are doing okay out there, wherever out there happens to be. Still wrangling chickens for period movies? Riding a getaway bus out of Portland?
        Anyway, I hope I am not just talking to the night here.   I don’t know where you are or whether you even read your Facebook feed   since you have not posted here in a very long while, but  I figure this is my best shot at contacting you.   We  are doing well enough ourselves, but Dogsplot is thickening ….getting complicated, as you will understand.

     A guy named Owen Pierce showed up here a while back  looking for you, saying he had read our “Book of William,” and that he is your biological brother. According to him, before you showed up at our house in Natural Bridge, you and he were two of more than several kids born in a shack at the edge of the Fort Drum military reservation … enough kids that after a few months as a baby in the house, you would each move to the chicken house out back, where you mostly looked after one another. Then you moved on.  And he himself has moved to this area.
           Oren Pierce  wears black clothes and boots with high heels; teaches badmitton as a zen type sport, or so he says.  Probably not in those boots though.  He has shown up at the house a few times since first appearing and I have seen him around, mostly walking the roads.  He has offered to look after the place when and if we travel, and has been submitting stories for our magazine about the stuffed animals in our trunk.  We don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, and I am not sure I would be ready  to leave the place with him. 
        Any chance you might get back here sometime?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Poor Orchard's Almanac: Italian Olive Ladder

   My apple picking friend, potato magnate, and garlic farmer David Clauson sent me this picture forwarded to him by an itinerant  fellow apple picker just back from Verona Italy, where he had been picking olives.  This  simple pole with pegs stepping up each side, like the telephone poles they used to actually climb,  looks pretty  scary to me,
    My good orchard ladder has three legs and is stable on uneven ground.,  A ladder with two legs with rungs spanning them, the feet wide apart at the bottom and a foot or so apart at the top, will grab the tree and add a little stability, particularly on s slope like this, and like some of ours here at Dogsplot.  I have seen pictures of old ladders of this sort made for  for Washington State Pear trees.  They were forty feet tall, as Pear trees naturally grow in a spire.  I try to cut and bend my Pear Trees to a vase shape, as each has plenty of room to spread, but they still get up there, and they are generally on rough ground.  Also, I just want to make a bipedal ladder.
      I made a THREE legged ladder with Juniper rails and rungs, but I need sounder rungs.  Maybe PVC plastic pipe. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Poor Orchard's Almanack: Dancing with Garlic

It was going to rain so I went and put in a lot of garlic very quickly . One of the top ten reasons we grow garlic is that the critters don't much like it so we don't have to fence it. I am planting five or six mounds like this one now, to get around  five hundred heads. some of which we will sell, some of which we will dehydrate, some of which we will cook, and just as much that we will eat raw in pesto, which will protect us from predators.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Poor Orchards Almanack: Hard Sky Fall

 Now that fall cold is roughing up their fluffy butts,  our Dogs Plot Chicken Citizens    no longer rush  into the house to lay eggs   in the toy trunk, but do a lot of scrabbling around  in the dirt, running and hunkering around, not knowing whether they should be digging in, gathering nuts, or what’s for dinner.  Half of them don’t remember a previous Fall, and by the time they see their first snow, they will either remember last year with a sort of relief, or be convinced that the sky is falling; which will be pretty much what that stuff is.  Our Roosters Andrew, Copernicus, and Gerald, all who have been through a winter or a few, and  who had crowed all day long and at passing trucks  at night  and occasionally even at first light during the  longest summer I ever knew, now take turns crowing with joy as soon as day glows in the trees.