Dozer, the Bulldog

Dozer, the Bulldog
Feeling the "Bern"

Ellie Mae

Ellie Mae
No time for gates...

Ollie Mac

Ollie Mac
My cooking assistant

Ollie and Annie

Ollie and Annie
Azorean grandmother

Spring

Spring
38 years on this mountain, come May 31st...

Flowers

Flowers
Daisies

Papa and Ollie Mac

Papa and Ollie Mac
Priorities, Baby

Beauty

Beauty
Annie, my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms

My first portrait

My first portrait
"Mr. Farmer"

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Sunday, April 29, 2018

None of the Above


I am conducting a rhetorical, one-question survey to my ever-discriminating and well-versed readers: Who is ultimately responsible for deciding what is served to you, at dinner most nights?

a) you alone
b) your significant other
c) you eat out a lot
d) you don’t eat “dinner,” as such
e) the warden 

The reason I ask is because after more than thirty years of being able to happily (!) check “b,” I find that now the answer is “a.” I have always been more than willing to both help cook, and cook meals by myself, but in most instances, it was still Gluten-Free Mama who furnished me with the fine print, not to mention the ingredients.

Now, due to “circumstances beyond my station’s control,” I find it to my advantage to do some-if not all-of my dinner planning. Otherwise, it’s popcorn or the ever-popular bean burritos. The reason is simply that GF Mama has enough on her plate at this moment, regardless of whether or not I am ready to assume this responsibility.

Asking her to continue in her accustomed role, would be tantamount to me saying: Though you are on an extremely limited diet and can only eat a small percentage of what you are used to eating, I still want you to go ahead and plan all sorts of savory dishes for me, so that I don’t miss out. 

Or not.

Savory odors permeated the house for hours...
Actually, The highest point of my week was preparing roasted veggies (red onion, zucchini squash, mushrooms, bell pepper), mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, over gluten-free spaghetti, and having GF Mama indulge herself. 

Maybe that is a tad too flamboyant. Let’s say that she was thrilled to be able to taste the peppers. These side effects are a nuisance, though not unexpected.

The key to my culinary planning success is to keep a random assortment of available ingredients, something easier for a guy who lives on a farm, and to not wait until it’s dinner time, to start figuring out what’s on the menu. I’ve tried that and found that translates to: Go to de box, get de sour dough bread, and wrap two slices around some sharp cheddar cheese, with mustard.

By dinner time I am too tired and usually too famished to be starting the process. The other morning I prepped some veggies, roasted them and set them aside, so that all I had to do when dinnertime approached, was boil water for spaghetti and put a green salad together.

When I space dinner out so that it’s too late to get something out of the freezer, I can always go the sandwich/popcorn route. Besides, the closer to summer we get, the more I will have available from the farm. Fresh tomato sandwiches!

Though I now must purchase organic chickens from the market, we just got more than 100  “peepers” on-farm, and that will amount to filled freezers, in another ten to twelve weeks.

So now, whenever I venture down to the metropolitan area of Willits, or even Ukiah, I go with store list in hand. This allows me to better assume the role I was so accustomed to seeing from Gluten-Free Mama. I always wondered how she managed to be so organized, and then I found out for myself. It's do or starve.

The thing is, I can convince myself that popcorn is an adequate meal, a thousand times easier than she could convince three sons, of the same thing. 

Go figure.

The menu below was not created prior to the fact; rather, it represents a work in constant progress. I recreated this one from memory, a curious assortment of meticulously planned and executed culinary masterpieces, balanced by fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, last-second desperation-mode meals.

Menu: Week of April 22-28th

Sunday: Cheeseburger with green salad, banana

Monday: Barbecued chicken with teriyaki sauce, rice, Granny Smith apple

Tuesday: Leftover teriyaki chicken and rice, cherry fruit cocktail

Wednesday: Tater tots, green salad, Granny Smith apple

Thursday: Roasted veggies in olive oil/balsamic vinegar, over spaghetti, green salad, pineapple bits/fruit cocktail

Friday: Leftover spaghetti, roasted veggies, teriyaki chicken, apple

Saturday: Popcorn with butter and salt

(And don’t be all that dazzled by the copious representation of fresh and packaged fruit. I’m just coming off a six-week-long chocolate binge, helped immeasurably by the fact that I live a half-hour away from town and that I hate to drive. If I can hold strong while in town, I'm home-free...)




Friday, April 27, 2018

The STUD


Think of it as Winnie the Pooh plopped down in the middle of the wild, wild west, where civilized conduct and courtesy sometimes go the way of vinyl LP's and cassette tapes. Like po-po, they are not to be found-not up on a remote ridge-top, on what used to be a stage coach route back in the day.

The reality is that folks who live in remote areas, don’t want to see the sheriff in the ‘hood, if you catch my drift. Maybe cannabis is an issue, maybe there are no permits, or maybe there is a deer suspended from a home-made, two-by-four frame out back, a few months out of season. Doesn’t matter the reason: Having po-po show up is never all the fun it’s cracked up to be.

Huge/tiny; show-room/scrap-heap; Mercedes/Subaru; 4WD/2WD; big-rig/quad: Many transportation options exist on Bell Springs Road, from GreyHound buses to bicycles. Similarly, the age level ranges from teens to old-timers and all points in between. We all get along, for the most part, and we've see it all. 
Double STUD salute...
I have been seeing it all since 1981, the year I originally ventured up to my twenty-acre spread and erected a small cabin, sixteen by twenty feet, which was to become our home in the earliest years. To access our spot from The 101, we have to drive just over five miles of dirt/gravel road, the first three of which climb steadily up to more than 3,000 feet in elevation.

In the infancy of my teaching career, I figured out that the five miles of dirt road and the eleven miles of highway from the ‘Ville to the bottom of the Bell took x amount of time. No matter how much faster I traveled, I could only shave y amount of time off, and it was never enough to justify the increase in speed. (And they say we never use algebra.)

In case you have never had the pleasure of navigating Bell Springs Road, it is mostly just an exercise in patience, the washboard effect limiting just how fast one can go. Naturally, there are those who want to zip right along, and those who do not want to put Duane and Shannon’s kids through college, by needing their front suspension systems replaced every year.

I wrote this passage to my sister JT Thursday morning, before I set out for Willits: “I can’t believe how hard driving has become. If there were no other people on the roads, I wold be fine. Sadly, such is not the case.” Talk about foreshadowing-I thought that only happened in novels.

The drive from Willits back to the Bell went marginally well, with the cruise being impacted by a driver who chose to go the last six miles into the ‘Ville at 45 MPH, and then headed north at all of 40 MPH, until he mercifully pulled off at Ten Mile.

No matter how slow the driver in front of me goes on the highway, I will not tail-gate. I won’t; I just won’t.

Hitting the Bell is always a huge relief because, though I will not partake of my meds while on the highway, I have no such qualms about BSR, where I don’t exceed 15-20 MPH. I mention this primarily so that the reader will know in advance, that after taking two hits off of a phattie, I was pretty relaxed and in no way stressed out.
Old Yodas are the preferred choice.

The first mile up went smoothly until just past Orange-Marker Road, when I came around the bend and spotted up ahead a truck-and-trailer rig, hauling what was undoubtedly compost to a grow site. It was preceded by a pilot truck, ostensibly “clearing the way.”

No, don’t do this to me. I’m begging you. No, no, no! 

Whether highway or byway, the law requires that slower traffic allow normal traffic to get past; it’s not just a special code for Bell Springers. 

Imagine me being referred to as “normal,” one of life’s delicious ironies.

And contrary to what the uninformed individual may think about Bell Springs Road, it is not a narrow, single track. In all but maybe a half-dozen spots on the road, two vehicles can easily pass one another. This means that if two vehicles going in opposite directions can pass, then two vehicles going in the same direction, could engage in similar activity. Duh.
In 35 years of navigating Bell Springs, there was only one other instance of a trucker who wouldn’t allow me to pass, a water delivery truck. I did pass him, eventually, after about four miles, swearing at him in both English and Spanish, while conveying his IQ and number of friends he had before his dog died, simultaneously, with the middle finger of my left hand, extended out the driver’s-side window.

Tentatively coming up behind the dust-spewing behemoth Thursday afternoon, I hung for a second before dropping back to a comfortable distance, to await a good spot to pass. Less than a minute later, such an opportunity afforded itself, but the driver of the big rig missed the memo.

OK, well, I can’t understand why he wouldn’t have taken advantage of that wide stretch there, but no biggie. I can handle a little adversity in my old age.

Again, almost around the next bend came another ideal spot; I edged up closer to the dust-monger once again, only to be ignored again. This time I tapped the horn to let him know that I had certain expectations that were not being met.

My, that is a strident sound. “Patience is a virtue-have it if you can, found seldom in a woman, never in a man.” Hell, I wasn’t asking for his first-born; he didn’t even have to stop. Just let up on the pedal there while I dash past. A little courtesy will do you no harm.

“It didn’t take,” as Gluten-Free Mama has been known to say, having heard it first from her own mama. I know I did. By that she meant that the driver of the truck had obviously not comprehended my desire to get around him. Either that, or he was a- Never mind.
We've had our quad more than ten years.

After repeating this scene several times, I tapped on the horn and forgot to untap it. Pretending I was playing Black Sabbath for the mountain, I never let up on that horn until such time as I made my move. Don’t worry-it was [probably] no more than five minutes in duration. 

I was not particularly thrilled with the way things were developing, but I was not going to let that get in the way of pouring more gasoline on the smoldering coals. I was a man on a mission. I was not asking the dude in front of me to do anything that I did not do myself every single time I ever drove the Bell. I hate having people on my tail, and I won’t do it to others, so I pull over and let them pass.

Eventually we approached one of the widest turns on the road, and as the big truck ahead of me swung wide, I hit the accelerator and almost creamed a vehicle heading toward me. No wonder the truck had swung far to the right, for once. The road was actually wide enough to accommodate all three of us, right here, so a split-second later I completed the maneuver, easily able to sally past the dust-banger.

I had removed my hand from the horn, so it was handy for the single-finger salute to jerks. If that made me a jerk too, then so be it. Never was being a jerk so rewarding. I kept that STUD (salute to unconscious drivers) extended as I passed the pilot truck, holding him equally responsible. If he had stopped, the big rig would have had to stop too.

I made reference to being Winnie the Pooh, in the opening of this sordid epistle, a moniker once assigned me by a community member, a long time ago in the late eighties. I had had a restraining order issued against me, the product of an ongoing feud our education collective had with an eccentric woman, who eventually caused our little school up here on the mountain to close. What Kat said was, “It was like seeing Winnie the Pooh get a restraining order.” 

I took it as high praise.

For anyone who thinks that the big truck and trailer had the right to continue to hog the road, simply because it was big, I would politely disagree. The bigger it is, the more the responsibility its driver has to pull over. 

In light of these events, I suspect that the subject of my bipolarism might possibly surface, and that maybe if I were on conventional Big Pharma meds, I might have been content to suck dust for a half-hour.  Yeah, sure, and I might have voted for 45, too, but I didn’t and I wouldn’t. Be content to suck dust for half an hour, that is. 

Neither would Winnie the Pooh.



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Ellie Mae: Dragon Slayer


Reacting instinctively to Ellie Mae’s sudden appearance at the front door the other morning, I arose from the kitchen table, latte clutched firmly in hand, and ventured over to hook a sister up. What a comical dog! She’s got the tail in overdrive, but she keeps dipping her head, and almost pawing at the floor, as if to say, “…for you, Dad.”

Is this a dog or a cat? And what IS that in her mouth?
Ellie Mae: Dragon-Slayer! To my utter shock Ellie Mae is dangling what appears to be a gopher, far more nonchalantly than my jaw, also dangling as I considered the ramifications.

After all I am the guy who spent all of last summer and fall, utilizing a half-dozen bonified gopher traps, in a fruitless effort to bag even one of the little varmints. I tried every strategy known to mankind, including wearing gloves to help eliminate my scent.

Using bamboo, I pinpointed the direction the tunnel was traveling, and aligned the trap(s) accordingly. I spread them out wherever I had dead or dying plants, and I “stayed on top of it” religiously. If I had devoted any more time to the endeavor, I might as well have taken up residence in a lawn chair, air-rifle in hand, and waited for them to come to me.

All to no avail: I never caught even one.

Is it a coincidence? Did Ellie Mae just get lucky? She is inordinately interested in the critters that abound around her. I mentioned to Gluten-Free Mama how focused she gets when she spots quail. She is aquiver with anticipation at the sight of rabbits, squirrels, deer, ravens, and/or turkeys when she spots them.

She loves to dig and I always wondered what was the source of her enthusiasm. Now I know that she is a great hunter, one to be cherished as resourceful and resolute. Let’s face it: She get results, unlike my paltry efforts last summer.

I will inform you, however, that I do have a plan of action in place, based on what I have observed over the past three summers. On average it seems the gophers get one tomato plant in ten, across the board. I know gophers are everywhere because I encounter the tunnels everywhere. My question has always been, why those particular plants, and not others? Why not all, for that matter, since the gophers seem so capable of destruction?

I have concluded that either the gophers instinctively sense which are the weaker plants, and attack them, or that the gophers go after all the plants uniformly, and only the weakest die. In either case the solution would seem obvious: Prepare the soil well and provide ample water, something that has not always been the case, and prepare all tomato plants equally to withstand the gopher attacks.

If there are no “weak” plants, then there should be no casualties. 

The best defense is a strong offense, and the best offense is the one which employs the most viable weapons. Sufficient water, organic compost, appropriate amendments and a whole lotta love-and secret weapon Ellie Mae-are going to be enough this summer. My bold-even audacious prediction-is that gophers will not factor into this summer’s productivity.

I am planting fewer plants, but expecting double the yield from last summer, simply because the tomatoes themselves will be twice the size. HeadSodBuster and I had a series of consultations as we examined forward progress last July and August, and adjusted water application accordingly. This included reducing water once the fruit began to develop to avoid splitting. The only splitting I want to see this summer, is the gophers splitting the scene. You know? Far out, solid and in the old groove. 

As for Ellie Mae, she is a rock star and I’m doubling her salary. Since zero, doubled, is still zero, I’ll just have to love and appreciate her more than ever, easy to do when I think back to her exquisite offering the other morning. 

I was going to skin it and hang the pelt on the gate, the way the rancher used to do with coyotes, but I did not move quickly enough-Ellie Mae ate it.

What can I say? Better to eat gophers than chickens, no?






Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Old Friends


I was belt-sanding the kitchen floor the other day, when a whole passel of old friends started surfacing, friends whose existence I had forgotten about. The flooring I was working on is two-by-six, tongue and groove pine, installed originally in the summer of 1981, and the reason old friends were dropping by, was because I was grinding down through three decades of foot traffic.


Seeing the grain of the wood reemerge after years of having the intricate designs cleverly concealed by the ravages of time, not to mention the clod-hoppers of three sons, makes me shake my head in wonder once again, about the inexorable changes over time.

When I took the pine down to the grain the first time, it was only a year or two since I had helped nail it into place, so I never lost sight of the complex designs. I didn’t know enough about anything at the time the cabin was built, to express an opinion about what kind of floor I should have.
The brothers said pine was the way to go and that was grand enough for me. I love the simplicity of a kitchen floor made of wood. I sealed it the first time with an oil-based varnish, Varathane. Now the same product is water-based, and dries a lot quicker, but the effect is identical: The glossy finish provides an aesthetically pleasing look, and makes keeping it clean abundantly easier.

To be honest I did not realize that my old buddies had all disappeared, one by one, or maybe as a unit-it’s hard to tell. It’s not as though I stopped mopping the floor, but gradually over time the Polyurethane wore down, the mud and dirt got ground down into the wood, and the art work that the pine came stock with, faded from view.

As I reflect on this occurrence, I am reminded that other friends of mine have also faded from view. I left my childhood, high school and Cal Poly, Pomona friends behind, when I was drafted into the military, and then again when I relocated from SoCal to the Bay Area after being released.

I left my United Auto and San Jose State friends behind eight years later, when I made the move up to Bell Springs Road in 1982. I made friends in the trades when I was building houses from 1982-1989, and I made many more when I taught in the local school district, from 1990 until 2005. Like the grain of the pine, many have faded from my memory. 

Recently, I have had the opportunity to reunite with some friends from old walks of life because of the internet, and specifically, face/book. I guess it’s more or less the same thing: old friends resurfacing after years, regardless of how it comes about.

I have immensely enjoyed these encounters, and why not? Face/booking is a lot easier on the back than belt-sanding.







Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Barn-Raising


Twenty-seven squares into my latest art project, I encountered a squall of epic proportions, which left me emotionally hydroplaning, utterly incapable of proceeding forward or retracing my steps. Given that there were only five squares to go, I was desperate to finish on Sunday, that which could then dry overnight, and be ready for sanding on Monday.

Each of the 32 squares in the wooden quilt consisted of thirteen pieces of wood: six of them either pine or hemlock, and the other seven of redwood, some of it with aesthetically pleasing blond streaks running through it. Considering it is a quilt made from wood, having variation in the different woods, creates a more accurate quilt, which would be made from any number of different cuts of fabric.


Nonetheless, 32 multiplied by 13 is 416 (minus 16 because only the redwood has ten-and-a-half-inch lengths), the total number of pieces that would ultimately be required to complete the project (400). Each piece had to be created out of what began life in my world as 2-by-4’s. I had to first rip 3/8th-inch-strips on the table saw, and then set up a jig for each of the seven different sizes, to try and ensure consistency.
Any variation in length causes ripples.

I know what I would be thinking, if I were you. Is this guy going to lay off the bong, while he’s ripping a total of 40 linear feet of 2-by-4 through the table saw, at least eight times per, and then using a miter saw to chop 400 individual pieces of redwood/pine/hemlock?

O contraire! When I need to be able to up the ante when it comes to concentration, I have always reached for the cannabis. That especially includes doing term papers in college, the ones that were due the following morning. 

Cannabis slows things down anyway, as you may have gathered, and when that whirling saw blade is only inches away, it tends to increase that awareness. What creates issues when dealing with spinning saw blades, is anything out of the ordinary. Speed kills.

It never pays to rush the process, and once you accept that, and even embrace it, you become safer for it. At one point I caught myself trying to beat the blade, you know, get the strip of redwood in place for the next cut, before the blade stopped moving. I stepped back from the table and reminded myself that the only competition I was involved in, was finishing with all of my digits.

I had four-foot-long strips that I was cutting into ten-and-a-half, nine, seven-and-a-half, six, four-and-a-half, three and one-and-a-half-inch pieces. To ensure that each specific length was precisely the same, I used a couple of the small chunks of wood to set up an arrangement on the surface of the chop-saw, clamped or screwed in place, so that all I had to do was shove the strips in place each time, with no measuring required, and drop the chop-saw blade straight down.

It pays to monitor the process, of course, to make sure that nothing changes, but when done properly, it helps to minimize any gaps that might result from lackadaisical cuts. The time spent setting up each individual jig, is compensated by not having to make 400 individual measurements.

What could possibly go wrong, right?


To begin there are a multitude of different quilt patterns which I could have chosen to replicate. Each has a specific pattern that must be followed, when creating each of the number of squares required. The one for Barn-Raising was completely different from the log-cabin pattern I had followed in the first art project. 

Each square was identical, but it was a complex pattern that I had to carefully craft each time by copying the original. Then, when creating the actual quilt, it was about rotating each square so that the pattern slowly emerged as I went along. At first glance it all seems so straightforward, but the placement of each square required intense concentration.

I spent the first day creating and forming the 32 squares into the actual quilt, without gluing anything, and stepping back to carefully examine what I had put together. The second day should have been a piece of cake, right? All I had to do was start in the center, and monitor that the strip of plywood on all four sides, stayed the same, and glue each, individual square in place.

All went swimmingly for 27 squares before I ran into a granite wall. I had removed the 28th square, placing the 13 pieces of wood on a piece of cardboard to the right, just as it had been arranged in the quilt, and applied a liberal amount of wood glue to the area about to have 13 pieces of wood stuck to it. 

I began transferring the pieces, as I had already successfully done 27 times, and I misplaced one little six-inch-piece, putting it 90 degrees to where it should have gone, and then laying the others in place in what seemed like the right order at the time.

Something was dreadfully wrong. Unfortunately, the pattern became like a Chinese puzzle, even with all of the other squares available for comparison. Having already put the pieces into place, and then having to remove them, left everything a sticky mess, and I was suddenly panic-stricken, for no discernible reason.

Each piece from the square had to be placed upside down because of the glue, which should not have mattered, but it did, at the moment. The worst possible scenario said just walk away, let everything dry, and get out some sandpaper the next day. But that would have been too easy, and besides, I had that internal goal of getting it done so that I could sand it the following day.


I tried to slow my spinning brain down, but the harder I tried, the more I lost it. Gluten-Free Mama, who had been watching me light up, took pity and came over to see if she could help. She knows more about quilting than I do about the San Francisco Giants, so I was more than happy to step aside.

Having her there beside me, comparing what was in place to the pattern in the book I was following, calmed me down to the point where I was able stop the spinning, and form a plan. I would take one of the remaining squares that was still unglued, place it on an external piece of cardboard, figure out how it should be positioned, and then meticulously move the already-glued pieces into place, using the template.

It sounds ridiculously simple, and it was, but not to a brain that had already been working all day. After I had accomplished righting the wrong, I wanted to finish the last four squares, but Gluten-Free Mama firmly maneuvered me away from the arena, explaining that sometimes in the world of quilting, you just have to shut it down and start anew, the next day.

As it turned out, I did finish when I first got up around one in the A of M, and by the time I was ready to think about sanding, it was eight hours later, and the glue was plenty hardened. On to all parades some rain must fall, and no gain is ever accomplished without some pain.

That being said, I haven’t even installed Barn-Raising in the dining room, and I am already planning my next project, this one about life.

It’s called peaks and valleys.



Friday, April 13, 2018

My Grandfather's Clock



The whirligig of life spins faster than ever, it would seem these days, but what do I know? As the echo of “Not much” is still reverberating in the air, what I do know as I straddle the wire stretched out across the great divide, is that these past couple of weeks have stormed through with a great deal of power and fury, mixed with sadness, joy and poignancy.

For an old guy whose existence is affected daily by what is happening with Gluten-Free Mama and her ongoing battle(s) with kidney cancer and thyroid cancer, the rest is just laying it on thick. Besides, as anyone who has any experience with cancer knows, the biggest challenge is dealing with side effects.

Meanwhile, couple of weeks ago I was stunned to learn of the passing of a dear high school friend, Joanie Wiederholt, a member of my own inner circle, and an individual with whom I had reconnected on social media, a half-dozen years ago. 

Joanie was effervescent, compassionate and the most devoted and loyal supporter of the students and faculty of our alma mater, Bishop Amat, that I have ever been witness to. The number of loving and devastated posts over her passing, was truly inspirational.

Though I have not been in the same place as Joanie for more than 25 years, she will remain in my thoughts forever, when SoCal and my old high school come up for discussion. 

On the flip side, GF Mama and I welcomed our first grand-baby into the world, Ollie Mac, son of SmallBoy and Dancing Girl. To know what this means to GF Mama, is to be acquainted with the essence of her soul. She has longed for the opportunity to greet and hold a grandchild for an eternity now, and the smile on her face resonates like a choir of angels singing, and would taste like a hot fudge sundae, if that were possible.

The added thrill of having our grandchild up here on the mountain, on-farm, makes the whirligig pick up speed. 

That being said, we were forced to slam on the brakes, as we learned of the passing of the daughter of our sister-in-law, Sandi. Though I was not close to her, I feel awful for Sandi and bro Timmy, who are not only trying to cope with the loss of a beloved daughter, they are contending at the moment with their four-year-old granddaughter, who has just lost a mom. How do you make that pain go away?
On the plus side it is the middle of April; on the down side, it has been snowing off and on since yesterday, and is forecast to do more next week. Snow has been part of the weather pattern all through March and now into April. My tomato starts, have not. My compost pile is only halfway turned and I have not begun turning the soil over for my tomatoes, out in the orchard. 

Transforming lemons into gimlets, however, I have made good use of the inclement weather to complete the remodeling of the laundry room. This entailed constructing nine cupboards, one laundry soap shelf and one recycling/waste basket platform.

I have followed this great success up with the assembly of a second wooden quilt, this one entitled Barn Raising. It is the classic Virgoan task, requiring organization, attention to detail and a great deal of time. I have put out an all-points bulletin for the right side of my brain, which has been running amok all winter, but I don’t really care if it turns up. 

I like the home improvements.

Moving [compost] mountains; shouldering pain; cradling newborns; burying loved ones; creating beauty; emptying pee buckets; working the soil; maintaining one’s footing on the ice-there is a lot to balance these tumultuous days. 

I have fastened my seatbelt, including shoulder harness, and I have donned my helmet, and there is nothing I can do but ride it out, until the runaway trolley starts to slow down, and eventually stops. Right?

[Editor’s note:

“Oh, my grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf, 
so it lived ninety years on the floor. 
It was taller by half than the old man himself, 
though it weighed not a pennyweight more.

It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, 
and was always his treasure and pride. 
But it stopped short, never to go again, 
when the old man died.”]

Oh.