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Friday, June 29, 2012


One hundred and seven degrees at the corner store.  No rain for weeks.  The creek is barely alive, and clogged with algae, and the pasture pond is as low as its been in my Sulphur Creek lifetime.  The birch tree is shedding its leaves in protest, and the shrubs are wilted and drab.  The heat is like a sledgehammer. 

In spite of it all, the rich composted soil in the farm gardens is an amazing medium, and the farmers have not yet watered very much, the peppers still look pretty perky, and the pigs are still happy in the woods.

I personally was felled by a sycamore tree last Saturday--a large branch hurtling down on me as I ran in to the West End Farmer's market to pick up a bag of blueberries.  Dizzy, bleeding, and a bit nauseated, I was ambulanced in to the ER, observed for a while, and sent home to complete recovery.  (We kept the plastic-wrapped frozen sausage that a kind merchant had clapped to my bleeding head...)

And a word about our old friend Steve Rudd, who died unexpectedly last week:  one of the most brilliant minds I've ever met, wildly funny, and such a decent heart.  We always missed him--he was endlessly evasive when it came to visiting--but this is different.  Well, you usually did sneak away without saying good-bye, didn't you?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hops Morning. Evening.

Keith snapped this yesterday morning on his way to work--the cool morning fog behind the shed, with hops vines silhouetted in front.  My Vanderbilt team of interns and residents oohed and aahed--"you could put that on a postcard!". 

Jeff the Barefoot Farmer has been helping another farm project here in town, and came by a couple of times last week to anoint our compost piles with horn prep--one of those mysterious biodynamic witches' brews that seems to work so well--and to finish off Martha's borscht for his supper.

Potluck music was especially nice this week (bass, fiddle, flute, banjo, dulcimer, guitar, dobro), but, as usual, my bedtime interferes--I like hearing the faint melodies through the bedroom window, though.

Let's see, what else: pool's open, daughter #1 is here for a few days (I always get a kick out of my wait time at the bus depot--it's not the airport crowd, that's for sure!), daughter # 3 left for summer job, #1 husband successfully reuned with highschool and college classes without me,  dogs are fine, cats are skinny/fat as per their destiny as usual.  My good tablecloths showed up on the Vandy farmer's market tables, but have since been restored to their drawer. 

And every Tuesday evening, I walk back to the house in the fog and moonlight, leaving the music and the bonfire behind. Ollie always trots alongside.  At ten o'clock, most of the fireflies are high off the ground,  like tiny party lights in the hackberry trees.   I'd like to say something profound about the contrasting pleasures of the crowd clustered by the fire and the solitary and quiet walk home, but I better quit right now.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's a Sign.

It's up!  Not quite finished, though.   Our new Scottsboro sign. 

Today Jim and Keith screwed the stainless steel letters in place and carefully loded the giant log onto the Kubota's front end loader.  I came home in time to watch Keith maneuver the unwieldy load--lifting the bucket to clear our front gateposts--down the highway.  But this doesn't do it justice--the caravan included Jim's pickup truck in front, the tractor, the other Jim's pickup, George's big green high-sided farm truck, my antique minivan, and, promptly, an impatient teen in a bright yellow pickup trying in vain to zigzag around us.

Keith finessed the tractor into position, with tiny moves forward and back, since he was wedged between the posts and a construction trailer on the property.  The two Jims, Zach, Odle, Kathleen and I provided variably useful feedback, and it first looked as though, due to the slope, the tractor would not be able to lift the crosspiece quite high enough.  More tilting, adjusting, bringing the load down to rotate the log so the letters would be vertical.  And then, in the 5 minutes while I was gone to fetch the peavey, there it was, settled carefully twelve feet up. 

Odle climbed up into the basket, there was a bit more lifting and shims tucked behind the left end, someone tossed up the mallet and Odle drove in the spikes. 

Now DiAnne has to paint our logo and the signboard with moveable letters mounted in place, and--voila, there it is.

But Keith is the real hero here.  A sign was part of our local "charm offensive", but no one dreamed of such a handsome piece of work.  Keith designed it, and helped Lonnell Matthews and Phil wrestle it through codes.  It was too complicated to get permission to put in in the rightofway, and Phil, bless him, volunteered a corner of his property.  I'm not sure exactly who wangled the two-foot utility poles--they were the massive leftovers from the hops pole project. 

Ellen's family company cut the letters from brushed stainless steel,  and the sign gang who were here today, plus Joe and Tom,  installed the uprights a couple of weeks ago.  Itself no small task. 

So here's to Keith, and everybody.  I'm just miffed because I didn't get to see the peavey put to work.