Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Caught in the headlights...

Caught in the headlights...
The author of Mark's Work, at the botanical gardens inFort Bragg...


I've got a little dog and a little bear in me.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
C D B's... D B's R G's

Family power

Family power
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Butterflies know what's up.

Intoxicatingly beautiful

Intoxicatingly beautiful
Snow business like snow business.

To remain silent is acceptance of oppression.

To remain silent is acceptance of oppression.
We traveled, we marched, we will resist. United, we stand.

Sunlight shimmering through the moss of an oak tree.

Sunlight shimmering through the moss of an oak tree.
Up our driveway, one morning recently

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Light and Fire

Light and Fire

My mind is a casual study of chaos this morning, as if there were anything new in that. I am accustomed to having my mind inhabit venues where my body never visits, especially when it comes to the realm of time, which passes merrily along, with no recognition that we may or may not be ready to move along with it.
December 1st, 1982, our wedding day, in Old Paint
our VW Bus. The engine blew up the next day...on
our way home from Ukiah.
Time doesn’t care because change is going to occur whether you want it to or not. As I sit in this kitchen, that I built with the help of two brothers and a neighbor, in the summer of 1981, I consider that when Gluten-Free Mama and I moved here permanently in May of 1982, this kitchen was our home, a sixteen by twenty foot structure, with a loft upstairs but no way of attaining it. 

There was plywood nailed over the window openings, there was no running water, no electricity, no plumbing, no stove and no steps to get up into the house through the front door. We were expecting our firstborn a little more than three months down the line, and considering she was in her fifth month, life was challenging for a first-time mom.

I had a home-made door in place that I would soon replace with a door that was divided into ten small panes of glass, allowing light to flow into the kitchen from the east of a morning, brightening matters up. I also had a wood-burning Superior stove from the 1920’s, that was stored up at my father’s barn when we first relocated, but was brought over to our spot early on.

Now it burns beside me as I write. That door and stove are the only remnants from those earliest of days. My first attempts at cupboards and counters have long since been replaced, and then, yet again. The steps I eventually built, leading up to a small platform, and then turning ninety degrees to go the rest of the way up, have been removed, and replaced with an enclosed pantry. The windows I put in originally? The wood-sash ones I bought at a salvage yard in San Jose? All replaced with dual-paned, aluminum jobs.

One window was transformed into an archway, leading into the dining room I added on in 2010. Change pervades the arena, after 35 years. With the delivery, yesterday, of the metal roofing soon to replace the original composition shingles, we will also be renovating this kitchen, and the original bathroom, that have been damaged recently by torrential rains. All good and according to plan.

Everything ages, changes and eventually needs to be replaced. Everything, that is, except love. Love is the one commodity that does not need to be replaced, and I place my relationship with Gluten-Free Mama at the top of the list of my possessions.
Old Paint

Note, GF Mama is not my possession, laugh the heck out loud. If you know her, you know she is nobody’s possession. But we have shared a love for one another that I place at the pinnacle of what I consider to be my life’s most cherished experiences: to love and be loved by another person.

We’re not talking flame-on Johnny specials here; we are talking longterm, in the heavens and in the trenches arrangements. We spend time together and we have our separate interests. She spends time in the greenhouse, she hangs upstairs in her sewing domain, and she catches up on her computer, while sitting on the sofa beside me.

She has to travel to Sacramento regularly; I stay home and tend the critters and keep the home fires burning. She spends time at the Fat Quail each week, and does the farmers’ market in Laytonville on Mondays, when it is in season. 

I write, I take photographs, I keep the dust and mud at bay by doing the bulk of the grunt work, when it comes to keeping the house tidy. I’m not striving for Better Homes and Gardens, so much as trying to avoid the tag of hoarder.

GF Mama cooks, she sews, she organizes and she battles. She assumed a huge role last season, over at the Pepperpot, what we call the part of HappyDay Farms which has come alive on the new parcel acquired by HeadSodBuster and SmallBoy, a few years ago.

She grows eggplant in abundance, a favorite here on-farm, and she is the resident expert on peppers, and everything about them. She grows them with love.
Love, as you know, is the greatest power; love is also a many splendored thing; love is what you make of it; love makes the world go round; anything’s fair in love and war; love is the merry-go-round of life; love is worth fighting for; better to have had love, and lost it, than to never have had it at all; love is a four-letter word; all you need is love; three little words: I love you.

Love is a combination of respect, attitude, timing, tolerance, chemistry, acceptance, patience, exploration, and an ability to check your ego at the front door. Undue or constant criticism is deadly, as is being judgmental. For two individuals to maintain a longterm relationship that really works, is the most joyous of all accomplishments.

I mentioned this in passing to GF Mama, the other night while we were sharing dinner and a film, because I thought it appropriate. I missed Valentine’s Day by several, with this particular observation that I valued my relationship with her, but that also seemed apropos because we don’t hold a lot of stock with Hallmark holidays.

Like the kitchen around me, we two have changed, but the door to our hearts has allowed light to continue to flow through, and the fire in our souls has continued to burn brightly, so we are good to love.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hot Air

Hot Air

Pssssssst. Is the coast clear?

I can't say for sure. It looks good, though.
It’s been a minute or two since I have poked my head above my desk to see how things are going with our new President, but from what I can see, pretty darn well. I will admit to being nervous that he was actually out to make a go of it, but it has become patently clear, that I need not have fretted at all.

Like that which the Rolaids Relief Award provides in baseball, reassurance has washed over me in a most refreshing way, because I see an end in sight, and we won’t have to wait four years for it. Russian involvement will even take a backseat to trump’s inability to simply function, without retreating to his vacation spot in Florida, something he was openly critical of when discussing the previous tenant in the White House.

What inability to function, you might ask, if you were returning from the dead? 

Fake news, for one. trump hates it, as do the rest of us, but fake news makes our leader go berserk. The difference is that fake news for our President, is the reality that the media presents to us, particularly because it is unflattering to him. Fake news for the rest of us, is that which is seemingly real, but obviously originates from a publication that makes its revenue from creating outlandish fiction. 

The inability to distinguish between the two, is fine if you are a private citizen, in which case you are a trump supporter. However, when you are allegedly the President, you can’t take that approach. People simply do not understand, myself included.

Whether you voted for trump, or not, there can be no doubt by now that his term in office will be coming to an abrupt halt in the not-to-distant-future. Collaboration with a foreign government, to influence the result of an election, is still frowned upon.

That being said, trump’s inability to keep it together at a recent press conference, demonstrates that what was only conjecture before, is in fact, reality: The man has a loose screw that he can no longer tighten back up because the threads are stripped.

trump is so removed from reality that he has already committed multiple transgressions, any one of which will remove him from office. It’s just a matter of which one will be acted on first. He either has the wrong advisors, or he has refused to listen to those in his employ. It must be that he has the wrong advisors. No one is that inept.

The man's ongoing conflict-of-interest issues between his business endeavors and his presidency, which began the minute he took the oath of office on January 20th, are the most obvious illegalities. That his offspring are so uncouth as to simply dive in and start gorging themselves at the public trough, was predictable, but still illegal.

The two boys were reared in the same manner so they came to the table, complete with bibs.

The sordid information that trump’s foundation is bogus and that he has presented himself with gifts from the same entity, highly unethical, is additional grist for the mill. If one concrete piece of evidence to remove him from office is good, then two, three or more, are better. They are present in abundance.

trump’s denigration of the judicial system, is further proof that he lives in a fantasy world of his own manufacture. Speaking for the majority of Americans, who live in the real world, I suggest he be quickly returned to this fantasy world, from which he need never be heard again. There is a process for this, one that worked efficiently enough with Nixon.

Additionally, the President’s attacks on the media, besides mirroring those of Hitler and other dictators, demonstrate that he fears the press, and why not? He who lives in a glass house, should not throw rocks, and yet, trump never lets up. He hurls salvo after salvo at anyone who questions him, cleverly ignoring the content of specific questions, to wax on eloquently about his amazing victory in the election.

An election he lost by more than three million votes.

There is a disconnect going on here, that should actually come in handy for the delusional President: It will be that much easier to disconnect himself from the White House when the time comes.

And folks, make no mistake, that time is coming. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but the vehicle is all-wheel drive, so we have nothing more to do than wait until that time arrives. That gives us two dates to mark on our calendar, one as-of-yet-unknown, the day trump exits, and the other being November of 2018, only 21 months away, when we vote the rest of the vermin out the door.

This sordid time period, when billionaires combined to run the country, will eventually be recorded as the most corrupt in history, but like trump’s presidency, these wheels turn so slowly, you cannot see the movement. 

You just know it’s there, like the earth spinning in seven different ways, simultaneously, because well, trump is spinning in seven different ways, at the same time, too.

The problem is that trump is not the earth, he is only hot air, and hot air quickly dissipates in the wind.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Champion of Chickens

Champion of Chickens

When Gluten-Free Mama and HeadSodBuster started batting around the idea of raising chickens, a decade ago, I broke the bat over my knee and hoped the matter would drop. Replacing the broken bat with an aluminum one, they proceeded full-speed ahead; I even found myself helping HeadSodBuster build the coop.

“I’m not interested in chickens,” I declared. “They’re noisy, malodorous and I don’t like the eggs,” which was actually true at the time. They were so different from store-bought eggs that the difference alarmed me, and put me off. That’s a perfect example of the super market running roughshod over past practices, including the whole raw milk fiasco.
Eggs at the Quarry Market

Corporate ‘Merica has such a grip on our nation, that time-worn methodologies have been brushed aside and made illegal, so as to pave the way for the Walmarts of our culture. The shelves of this behemoth are stocked with toxic “food” products; the fact that these commodities can live on the shelves, indefinitely, should clue you in, as to the preservatives used to ensure this longevity.

“No problem,” everyone declared. “You don’t have to do anything,” and except for the occasional shutting of a coop door, or administering food and water when no one was around, I stuck to my guns. Because I had made it clear before the chickens had ever arrived, that I was a disinterested party, I never felt guilty about my hands-off approach.

For several years the flock dwelt up above HeadSodBuster and BossLady’s home, and they took care of the girls. Then the coyotes, bobcats, et al, struck with a fury and we took steps to relocate them back down to our spot, inside our fenced-in compound, complete with various dogs at various times.

Then Gluten-Free Mama got diagnosed, and suddenly it meant that HeadSodBuster or BossLady would have to go out of their way, to come down to our spot to tend the critters. This was a different matter because now GF Mama was in a jam and needed help.

I assumed full responsibility for the flock, nineteen strong, including two roosters. From the beginning it was abundantly clear the the roosters were the reason why there was so much racket. I’m not talking the conventional crowing, even if it started early; no, I am talking about the racket that the roosters created with their interaction with the seventeen hens.
And then there were none-roosters, that is...

One was just savagely brutal, mercilessly persecuting the hens for no reason I could discern. He was as mean as he was beautiful, and I took an intense dislike to him. One day I witnessed him hammer one of the most timid of the hens, and it lit my fuse.

I charged into the yard and went straight for him. Recognizing that he had taken it one step too far, the dude wisely took to flight and sailed up and over the six-feet-high fence. I stopped, momentarily taken aback. What now? Was I supposed to try and coax this malevolent dick, back into the fold?

Not on my watch. “You got out on your own, Bro, so you’re gonna have to get back in on your own.” I watched and waited. It was kind of pathetic, actually, to see him mope around the outside of the yard, for more than two weeks.

I don’t know where he roosted at night, but he was always around in the mornings, until one fine day he wasn’t. And then there was one rooster.

This second dude was not mean; in fact, I never saw him DO anything wrong. I just listened to him for sixteen hours a day, the most obnoxious farm critter I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. Every time a hen would do the egg song, announcing her amazing accomplishment of laying an egg, this rooster would go off too.

Strident, cacophonous, intensely annoying, the racket grated on my bipolar nerves, and over time drove me nuts. “That’s why headphones, exist,” I started out saying, and then found out that even my Dr. Dre’s could not block out the high-pitched clamor.

In desperation, after centuries of battling this nuisance, I threw myself on the mercy of Meadow, down at the feed store, and she took pity on me. “Bring him down and I’ll keep him out in a cage expressly for this purpose, and someone is bound to want him. Is he mean?” And so I explained. It was as simple as that. I owe Meadow.

Now there is just me and my girls: Markie, the champion of the chickens.
Unaccountably, I have grown quite fond of the little-[Editor’s Note: Careful…] creatures. They are no longer particularly noisy, and if they are that means egg production is as high as I am. Two good things.

I have found that cleaning their quarters weekly not only makes it a simple task, it has reduced the malodorous smell in the air. I have also come to realize how tasty the eggs are, so there.

For this past year, I have been funneling the manure onto a compost pile, layering it with dead organic plant matter and compost that is delivered to the farm in bulk, to create a mix that I will blend into the soil when I plant this spring.

I can’t have this much interaction with the girls, and derive all of the benefits, without gaining an affection and appreciation for them, as surprising as that is to me.

Ultimately, of course, it was the desire to be helpful to GF Mama that was the determining factor. I would do anything for her, and nothing proves it like this single course of action on my part.

That way I can be her champion too, as well as that of the chickens.
Moving and mixing the pile from the right to the left.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Are They Talking To Me?

Are They Talking To Me?

John Prine sang about Sam Stone “climbing walls while sitting in a chair,” and I like that, because right now I am soaring while sitting here typing out this piece. After more than four years of operating on an almost one hundred percent cyber level, I visited the Fotomat, and had a roll of a hundred photos developed.
All of these prints are 8 x 10's.
OK, that’s what I would have done back in the day. Now, instead, I moved individual photos into a folder, relocated them to a cyber gallery, downloaded them to Nations Photo Lab (along with the specifics as far as size and type of photos desired) and then waited for delivery.

Whatever anxiety I felt about the quality of the photos themselves, or tension that arose in trying to actually get them into my fat hands, evaporated when I saw them. I know nothing about art, for art’s sake, and so I am not saying that the pics are noteworthy for that reason.

All I am saying is that I am overwhelmed at how pleasing they are to me. Again, I am looking at my own work so I am understandably biased, but I am really only doing so after being told repeatedly by folks on social media that they also find my photos pleasing.    

Are they talking to me?
I have made a career of deflecting praise. Whether it is due to my habitual anxiety issues, over which I have gained the advantage, but still find myself being tripped by the occasional trailing tendril, or lack of confidence in the field of photography, I do not know.                       

All I know at this stage in the game is what Gluten-Free Mama demon-strated yesterday, when she got her first look at my hundred prints, thirteen of which I had culled out of the pack, and presented to her as a late Valentine’s Day gift.                                                 

Actions speak louder than words and therefore she did not need to say anything. She leafed though the stack as though she were looking at the Top One Hundred Quilts Ever Made.

When she got to the print of the home she grew up in, down in San Jose, she let out a gaspy/squeaky sort of yip, and the smile radiating from her face, made those blinding blue headlights-in-the-rain, seem more like a set of Triple-A batteries for my headlamp, on their last legs. 
Seriously, though, GF Mama is not one to accompany me on my magic carpet flights of fancy, whether I am discussing my writing or my photography. No, she remains firmly grounded, even though she can be supportive to the extreme.

So when her face teleported what she need not have put into words, and then she also put it into words, I took note. Until she sifted through the prints and reacted the way she did, I was still operating on the level I have since the first day I ever took my first pic here, just over four years ago.

Automatic pilot. 

I like my stuff but what artist does not like his own stuff? If I didn’t, why would I think anyone else would? By the other token, just because my photos please me, does not mean they please others. And then I remember the feedback I get practically every time I ever post one of my scenic shots.

I can’t afford to have bribed ALL of them, so some may just have been sincere. I have been asked repeatedly, why I do not make a book of photos/poetry; do coffee table publications of my photos; work art shows, including the Laytonville Art Walk; do a gallery showing; and make some loot.

My standard response has always been that I had not yet figured out how to actually get prints into my hands, but now that I have, I will have to adopt a new line, not to mention a course of action.

What comes next?

I’m thinking. I’m thinking. Can’t you smell the sawdust smoldering?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Nintendo-64 Wars

Nintendo-64 Wars
Gosh, that was such a refreshing picture I painted the other morning, with the treehouse, the long hikes, three boys living the wholesome, country life with no machines in the garden.  Didn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart, and everything, what with it being Valentine’s Day? No smarmy love stuff-just nostalgia for a time period when boys lived the life of Tom Sawyer, and there was nothing to interfere with this idyllic view. 

Except Gameboys.
We could have kept Gameboys out of the picture as easily as we prevented television from being too much a part of their lives, except the boys were social creatures, and therefore found out all about these magical devices, on their own from friends.

Gluten-Free Mama and I saw the down-side to Gameboys immediately. It’s hard enough to get kids to focus on schoolwork and reading books, when these bell-ringing, light-flashing devices are not in the arena, let alone when they are in direct competition. It’s not that the boys resisted homework or reading, but they led active physical lives also, so there was only so much time in the day and priorities had to be set.

All three boys played soccer and little league growing up, and wrestled, at least at the middle school level. All three consistently made the Honor Roll, and none got into any more trouble than maybe providing occasional lip service to me, necessitating a lunchtime appointment with Richie, who did detention in those days.

The school district had written a grant to acquire a class set of computers, so that one computer technician could guide an entire class though specific exercises designed to make them more computer-literate. Though we were a rural district, we did our best to keep our students on a par with those of urban areas, so that when they went on to higher education, they would not lag behind, technologically.

Whereas GF Mama and I supported computers in the classroom one hundred percent, we did not favor playing computer games in lieu of doing homework. It was like opening Pandora’s Box to get the good things, but trying to filter out the bad things at the same time.

Not that much different from life. So the tug of war between the three boys wanting to have access to electronic games, and Gluten-Free Mama and I not wanting them to have this access, essentially began somewhere around the time that HeadSodBuster was eight or nine, and the other two a year or two behind, and never stopped.
Erin Rose, HeadSodBuster, BenJAMmin & Small Boy

There were no hills upon which to die. We held out on the Gameboys, which burst on the scene in 1989, for as long as we could, and then capitulated. We knew it was only a matter of time before reality caught up with us; all we did was try to delay the inevitable.

When the Super Nintendo Entertainment Series System was introduced in the US in 1991, Gluten-Free Mama and I put up a unified front and said no. I don’t remember when the battles began but I do remember how they ended.

It had to have been after 1996, because that is when Nintendo-64 came out. Again, the pleas, the promises and the tears ensued, as they tried to convince us that a Nintendo-64 would not only not be a distraction, it would actually be an enhancement to education.

You don’t ever want to get into a debate with HeadSodBuster, when the stakes are so heavy, because you will lose every time. The only reason I ever won anything, was because I was the dad. Hey, any port in a storm-you take what you can get.

In this particular instance, it was they who took what they wanted, and they did it diabolically, pulling the wool over first, Gluten-Free Mama’s eyes, and then over mine. It was an intrepid stroke, guaranteed to be successful by the very audacity of it.

On a day like any other, except that they were all four together, Gluten-Free Mama drove the three boys down to Walmart in Ukiah, in the old Trooper, with its spacious back compartment. While GF Mama was doing her thing with the shopping list, the three rascals, the oldest probably fifteen years old, or so, boldly sallied through the check-stand with a brand-new Nintendo-64, paying in hard-earned cash. They then took it out and stashed it in the back, cleverly concealing it so that GF Mama never saw it.

The rapscallions were cautious to keep a low profile. When I finally realized what it was that had them so preoccupied, later that evening, imagine my surprise to find them hunkered in front of one of those idiot boxes. Now, mind you, I have never so much as considered playing these games and there is a damn good reason.

I know I would love them, so forget it; I do not have the time. Just as I have never been snow-skiing: It is better to not get started, than to get hooked and spend the rest of your life enjoying a hobby that is well out of your price range. You pick and you choose.

“Who did you guys borrow this from?” I asked, noting the pristine box. Anytime they had borrowed one in the past, it was a beat-up thing that got treated kind of like a football. 

“Uh, we didn’t borrow it-we bought it. Mom said we could. After all, she spends time playing Yahtzee.”
Gluten-Free Mama's electronic drug of choice
They were all in agreement.

I raised my eyebrows, in my best Mr. Matlock mode, and said, “I doubt that,” and sauntered out to the kitchen where I asked GF Mama,

“You really let them finally buy one, huh?” more curious than anything else. We always talked these things over and tried to stay united. However, there were now three of them and only two of us, and they were smart fellers.

“Let them buy what?” she looked alarmed.

“Well. that answers that, the little turkeys. They bought a Nintendo 64 today down in Ukiah, and just told me that you said it was OK.”

She looked sideways at me and said, “You know who was behind that, right?”

“Oh, yes. But you know, they all three work (at the Chevron, no less), they all get good grades and they play sports. There just isn’t enough time in the day. Besides, we held out this long and that is a moral victory in and of itself. I’m not dying on this mountain.”

When I went back in the other room, I had to do the parental disapproving thing, which went doubly hard because I had also held the role of their language arts teacher. I called them on their deception, and then threw my hands up in the air.
Heartfelt sigh

“At this point in the game, I am not going to be a jerk and take your Nintendo away, but I do not appreciate the way you went about acquiring it. It was sneaky and underhanded. But since that is not your usual style, I am going to overlook it this time.”

HeadSodBuster had the grace to not smirk. “Sorry. It’s just that you would never have allowed us to get one, otherwise.”

“Why do you suppose that is? Because I am mean?” I always like to be kept informed.

“No, you’re not mean; you don’t want us spending all of our time on it, that’s all.” 

“Well, not all of it, anyway, but you will be going off to college one of these days, where I am sure you will not have time for Nintendo-64.

The other day, when GF Mama and I were rehashing this incident, she scoffed at the notion that college took precedence over electronics. “Oh, no way. I was up there once when they had a tournament going in the basement.”

My eyes got big and I said, “I remember that house. OK, I stand corrected. They still played Nintendo-64after high school. Good thing we let them have one when we did, or they would never have been able to play at the college level.”

Basking in the glow, I can now assert that my sons played college-level Nintendo-64. Does it get any better?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Who's Running the Show?

Who's Running the Show?

The name of the program is “Who’s Running the Show?” and the answer today, is Ashley Roachclip, in place of Cheech and Chong, who could not make it. He represents Fed-Up Express Delivery, right out of Redwood Valley, or RV, as we call it here on Who’s Running the Show? because it seems they are on vacation. Ha! Ha!
Standing in for Fed-Up Express!

Could we get a warm round of applause here, for our special guest?

As you know, each week on Who’s Running, we substitute high-profile guests for the actual folks in the business, to gain a different perspective. Neither Cheech nor Chong was able to actually be in the studio with us, but they have sent a more than adequate replacement. This seems appropriate, considering Fed-Up Express obviously sent in a substitute, also. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ashley Roachclip!

Let’s get started. Mr. Roachclit, today’s contestant had high expectations for your company’s performance, it being his first experience with Fed-Up Express Delivery. His package, though clearly American, was detained. We’d like to know, what’s up with that?

Uh, that’s RoachcliP, thanks. Nothing happened. He had high expectations so he should not have been disappointed. Next question. That was too easy

Today is Wednesday. Your shop received the package last Friday. Why does it take six days for you to actually deliver?

I'm not into time, Man.

Mr. Roachchip, today’s contestant has not left his residence in almost a month. That’s why he ordered from Fed-Up Express, who delivers. Do you indeed, deliver?

Though a rolling stone gathers no moss, a sitting duck might get shot. Your contestant needs to get out more often.

Mr. Roachdip, your driver left a package at a business in town, with political perspectives that are the polar opposite, of those of our contestant. Though they were too gracious to mention that fact, did you think that was going to work out OK?

It’s a well-known fact, that polar opposites attract, but it didn’t work in this case. How were we supposed to know the contestant is bipolar himself? All equations go out the window.

Mr. Roachlip, your driver left the package for our contestant’s son to deliver, even though the son has not lived in the residence for fifteen years. How long did you think that umbilical cord stretched?

If I can stretch this lid out to include the sound-effects guy, your contestant can stretch that cord out just a tad more. We all have to make sacrifices.

Mr. Roachnip, Fed-Up Express Delivery told our contestant not once, but twice, that his package would be delivered on a specific day, and neither time did they “deliver,” pun intended. Wouldn’t that make you upset?

Hey, what if it had been a summons? And it got delayed until after Valentine’s Day? Wouldn’t that be cool?

Mr. Clip, what if it were a Valentine’s Day gift, and it were delayed until the day after Valentine's Day?

Well, wow, that would be really fucked.

Oops! We’re out of time, folks! Hope you enjoyed this segment of the show…

Mr. Roachclip? Could I have a word with you, please?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Treehouse Homes

Treehouse Homes

“Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young
How come I’m never able to identify where it’s coming from?
I’d make a candle out of it, if I ever found it
Try to sell it, never sell out of it, I’d probably only sell one
I’d be to my brother, cause we have the same nose
Same clothes, home grown, the stone’s throw from a creek we used to roam
But it would remind us of when nothing really mattered
Out of student loans and treehouse homes, we all would take the latter.”
Twenty-One Pilots

I might amend that last line to say "ladder," instead of "latter." 
The ladder is simple and pragmatic. 
Maybe because I posted Twenty-One Pilots’ line about treehouses the other morning, I stumbled across one deep in the gnush, yesterday, a monument to a time when electronics were not a part of the equation. Of course, growing up where a kid had twenty acres, for starters, in which to roam, helped out.

“You may go as far as Great Falls, and no more. Agreed?” Gluten-Free Mama would have no way of knowing whether or not the three boys would follow her instructions or not, but parameters had to be set, and this boundary was as good as any.

How far away was Great Falls? The question isn’t how far, but how long does it take to get there, because the land is rolling hills, straight up and then straight down, through ravines, over rocky hillsides, down, always following the lay of the land, down.

However long it might have taken me back in 1982, when we first moved up here on the mountain for good, and how long it would take now, are two different things. The reality is that going back up, there would be almost no drop-off; it’s the traveling down that would take the time.

As an eighth grader and a Boy Scout, I remember our scoutmaster telling us it was easier to go up a trail, than down, and we scoffed at his words. He was talking about strain on the shins and ankles; we were talking cardiovascularly.

I have long since learned that he was right.

We weren’t particularly worried that the boys would lose their way, because they knew they always had to head up toward the top of the ridge. Eventually, you had to run into Bell Springs Road. 

I know because I got twisted around about 35 years ago, entirely disoriented, and just kept going up. When I finally came out onto the Bell, I was a mile up from my house. I was never particularly worried, just hungry.

Gluten-Free Mama would pack picnic lunches for the boys, though, and off they would go, on explorations that would last as long as tempers remained in check, and a good time was being had by all. I am not naive enough to think that when they arrived at their destination, they all sat down and had a nice tea party, and that there was never any disagreement, as to which might be the best course of action. 

That especially applies if one were tired, or had some other issue arise. Being country kids, they had to be prepared to deal with a wide range of varmints, from the right-up-front rattlers, to the insidious ticks, which even I struggle to deal with when I encounter one lodged in me.

Like everyone, I detest them, but a weird sense of claustrophobia sweeps over me at the same time. It’s as though if I don’t get it out of me, I will go nuts, as if I were trapped in an elevator, or sitting in AT&T Park, amidst 41,000-plus fans. I just can’t do it.

Yellow jackets, hornets, bees: We got ‘em all. We have scorpions too, but though they look scary, they’re not, because the most the locals can do is sting you like a bee would, with no more serious results than that. We used to see herds of wild pigs, but they were mostly little ones, with a few adults, and they wanted nothing to do with us.

So how far away from the house was the treehouse I just stumbled on, the rope so encrusted with lichen that it had obviously not been touched in a couple of decades, at least? It is no more than 200 feet, if that, as the raven flies. Located at the base of the main farm, albeit with fifty feet of manzanita forest in between, there is also a fence.

The fence goes around the entirety of what is being farmed at this site, and includes the house and outbuildings. The ancient treehouse was just a grove of thick manzanita and a fence away. 

What it melts down to is that the three boys were capable of occupying themselves for large chunks of time, day after day, without TV, electronics or motorized vehicles. A hammer, a handsaw and a handful of nails, always available, were all that was required.

That and a picnic lunch.