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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quit Your Meanness

Sheila B.'s contribution to the union rally!

A Saturday in the Life.

So this is how it goes on yesterday, a typical day around here, though lovelier than most, recently. Just to highlight the isolation of country life.

Up. Coffee. Rachel comes down from upstairs bedroom, ready to tell 65 volunteers at Beaman Park what to do. Peter appears from downstairs.

I spend morning in office at Vandy doing paperwork. Lunch with friend. Tom goes to pro-union rally.

When I get home, Manuel has come over to dig bamboo. Tom and Eric advising, the latter popping his new suspenders. DiAnne and Shorty are laying out flower beds. Kabir calls--will stop by to get Tom to pick up hay.

I go to Bells Bend Park for afternoon constitutional. Meet Joe and his canines, Ink and Molly, and walk along together. Three students in oldfashioned dresses are making a video for an art installation in California. Young father is toting baby in backpack and trailing after toddler who is using his wooden sword as a walking stick.

Carlos is on the river trail, and we stop to talk about Nan Madol, the Venice of the South Pacific, Bhutan, and botflies. And PhDs, and Tsibilisi. And Easter Island.
Around the corner another teen film crew is stacking gear in the trail and working cellphones.

Wave to Tony in Nature Center, and drop by Sharon's to leave her muffin-toter. Grandbaby belches over my shoulder and dogs fetch sticks.

Home. Steve and Jill have stopped by with a wonderfully bizarre Belgian frame containing a fine bird print. Tea brewing. Chat.

DiAnne arrives. We head out to dinner.

Kits, cats, dogs and wives--how many have arrived? Just another day in paradise--this backwoods corner of Music City. And it's not even farm season yet.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dog Days

Sadly, Lulu, our lovely little "teacup mastiff"--small for breed at only 135 pounds--has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an incurable bone cancer.

Everyone in our farm family has been enchanted by her not-very-bright but indomnitable brindled dogness, generally manifest as a large kitchen obstacle, occasionally shouldering the dinnertable as she struggles underneath to sit on our collective feet.

She is less charming when dealing with intruders onto what she views as her turf, but as far as I know has never done anything more lethal than bristle and growl, loudly and efficiently.

I often nap with her on her couch--leather upholstery now held together mostly with red duct tape--lulled into semiconsciousness by her snores and dreamtwitches, and she leans protectively into my knee as we walk down the driveway to fetch the newspaper. She has been limping more and walking less as the knot on her front leg grows, but still races out, about as graceful as a freight locomotive, to greet the dawn and roar at passing coyotes at midnight, and watches over the kitchen with sad eyes and the usual trail of affectionate drool.

Martha's little dachshund Rudy is gray, half-blind, and in Pampers, and DiAnne's fastidious Basenji Shorty is beginning to stagger, her tightly curled tail slowly unwinding.

I think we all are old enough to just hope that the people who feed us and walk us and curl up with us on our couches will love us for even our unlovely shortcomings when we too unwind, and not intervene too much when the inevitable end approaches. And that we too will march out, or stagger out, or limp out to meet every single dawn with some trace of this magnificent unthinking joy.

And, at least a few more times, be out at midnight yowling with the coyotes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day Redux

My own Valentine's Day display included, as you now know, a dollar book about Raymond L. Dittmars, a rattlesnake card, and cooking dinner for a random assortment of folks I found gathered around the kitchen table.

Even stranger is the spring courting display of the woodcock, also known as the timberdoodle and the Labrador twister--currently featured at Bells Bend Park and your local venue.

There were about twenty of us wandering the park's open spaces this evening under a rising full moon. The buzzy ground calls were all around us, follwed by a musical chitter made by the wingfeathers as the male woodcocks spiral upwards to 300 feet, then fall zigzagging back to earth. Actually seeing these elusive birds is a bit difficult in dusk and early evening, but it was a beautiful night, moonshadows trailing behind us,with the faroff howls of a pack of coyotes a mournful accompaniment.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

I and this blog have been in hibernation, along with our compost piles, rosebushes, and farm shed (please don't ask what happens when a bachelor fridge hibernates), but are now rousing to face the new year.

Last week, trapped in town by our 3-inch blizzard, which just happened to arrive at rush hour and iced over instantly, creating peri-Vanderbilt gridlock (reports of two hours to GET OUT OF THE PARKING GARAGE!), I strolled around the honking cars and past Bookman towards Fido's and supper, and there it was--on the $1 sidewalk table no less--a biography of Raymond L. Dittmars, Tom's boyhood herpetological hero. (As in reptiles, not STDs.) Perfect.

And I thought my rattlesnake-in-heart-shape card was so romantic! But, of course, Jeff Poppen and EricTheFarmer and a nice couple-who-want-to-farm were gathered around the table talking about barns (garden vs. cow), garden placement (public vs. not), and ions (the importance of calcium, potassium, and silica), and, of course, I heard bits and pieces while putting together dinner: our own carrot and winter squash soup (fab, if I do say so myself), roasted just-picked brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, and sausage from Jeff's own pig--technically, I suppose, an ex-pig at this point.

All in all, an excellent day, if a bit unpredictable. But isn't that really the point? Of living?