Rose Forsey approaches Coventry, as in having drawn the only black shard, the lonely ostrakon, from the pot in the Who's-the-worst-Greek-ever? contest, and is currently being relegated to the lower half of the house.  Inner doors are closed.  Puppy gates are erected.  A close watch is kept on said canine with an eye toward leakage prevention; it is a two room holding action.  Results are encouraging, but  housebreaking has not gone as quickly as some had hoped. Somedays prevention flies and wet-spot detection is the bird on the wire.  It's a crow.

I confess to some laxity, not in observation and action, but in outrage. When a puppy poops on one of 'my' rugs I generally shrug and toss the steaming mess out; things will get better. Later she will find her fecal clump in the grass and a 20W light bulb will go in her dim dog-brain. She may squat over it like a doggy statue of The Thinker.

But 'my' rug usually turns out to be 'our' rug, and that very, much-owned rug the tightly held provenance of the housekeeper, aka: the editor and knower of many fine things.  She knows scathing language that can as easily be aimed at the beastmaster as at the beast;  he should at least fake outrage: groans and thigh pounding are hardly enough.  Shrieks and oaths are demanded.  (The mind of woman is rough country to navigate.)

I stay in the lower part of the house, mostly, anyway; that's where the computer, the books, the movies, the large comfy chair all live.  It is the messy part of the house that guests aren't supposed to see. Fine with me.  Who the hell wants people wandering thru their space - ah, What people?  I am reminded.  We entertain only notions, not people.  I have a cave with a garden-view and guard dogs in place.  If I am not an island I am at least a pencil-necked peninsula.  I watch Rose with a sharp eye for that telltale droop of the hind end.  Beyond that is only the void.

Rose Forsey has become, in polite conversation "Miss Brindlebitch, party of one."  Don't cross Mom!  The sobriquet reeks of exclusion.  It is unfortunate that the aesthetic disaster doesn't simply end with puppy poop.  No, the back door being propped open to assist Rose in getting outside to 'do it' has allowed a massive influx of flies. (The last load of cow manure is mentioned; my character shrinks.)  I think I must have grown up with flies, a lot of flies; I don't seem much bothered by them.  Hell, in trailer parks they are considered pets.

'Why, when I was 4 years old in our 8 x 40 in the desert outside Bishop the 'yotes and the flies used to fight for territory....we'd knock back suds and cheer both sides on.'  Why do the forties seem better than now?  I am a sentimental schmuck.

I am fairly neutral about the presence of flies as long as they aren't the beeg ones that bite - but I will confess that I don't like them crawling into holes in my body. I become unwholesomely nimble at that point and may appear neurologically impaired. Outside of that it is live and let live.  And then the open door has also opened our lives to some neolithic past when rotting bones were both tool and toy and littered the floors of blue collar homes.  (In former lives some were Cleopatra and some Napoleon; I was Neanderthal.)  Where have all these bones come from?  A pelvic girdle has appeared on the office floor looking like a CSI lesson-plan.  Good housekeepers jump up and down and curse when carrion appears, their agenda nearly frantic.  Some, thoughtless them, have been heard to say "what a nice bone!", but only once as the evil looks of the cleaner-sort wither the soul.  Here comes spray-mama with a roll of paper towels.  Uhoh....  Time to bail and pick green beans.  The greenhouse is nice this time of year, too.

As I head out to commune with compost I note the Remingrton Wingmaster 12 ga. loaded with double-aught that lives near the door.  I try to recall why it lives there...  Oh, my dad's iron instructions - ''always keep it by the door - loaded.''  One of those christian precepts that slightly escape me.  What were his very last words?  Ah, yes, a phrase, an incomplete sentence, maybe the eleventh commandment: "...crowd control...".  Maybe he did understand about needing your own space.  To think, fellow christians will get to spend all eternity with this madman:  what bliss.


Our road trip is almost ready to hit the planning stage; this comes between wishful thinking and the first gas station.  While not absolutely necessary it can be handy.  We are considering the planning 4 weeks in advance; very long term thinking for us.  The last week we will really start to consider the important stuff, like where the Wallyworlds are where we can park o'noc for free. Boondockers rule!  Weenies and beans forever!

We have wonderful new neighbors.  A couple from Florida has taken over the foreclosed and abandoned home next door -  a hundred yards down the road.  They have three boys under 10.  All are delightful people.  She is a nurse and he is a chef.  I have been helping him put in a garden for next spring.  We do manly stuff together, going out in tandem in our pickups to bring home loads of gooey cow-muck.  We talk dirt and water and seeds and seasons. Our dogs bounce up and down and yip. I may actually get a guy-friend out of this.  Unusual, but then Michael is short most of the rough edges guys like to cultivate and present as if credentials.  They get all our excess eggs, and I have warned them that while we are gone they will have to eat endless green beans, tomatoes and red raspberries.  I think they are up to it.

The youngest boy is a lovely child, very straightforward and open. He showed me his potted tomato plant with a single yellow blossom.  Even though we had never met before he asked me if I remembered him.   Sometimes I look at him and think when he grows up he will be gay, but that is unfair.  More and more men seem to feel something other than the beginning of deer season.  I continue to have hope for my gender.  I hope this boy, Andrew, is where we are headed.  

We will be on the road for a big chunk of the harvest's heart.  It is ok.  Many quarts of green beans have gone, and will go, into the freezer.  Pat gets a cup or two of the tastiest raspberries for breakast many mornings - and only the earliest of the 4 rows is bearing; a deluge is to follow.  We have dug up the potato patch and they are huge and tasty.  Last night for dinner was leek and potato soup, all from the garden.  Night before was yellow tomato soup - the same. 

I have spread about a cubic yard of compost in garden and greenhouse and have a growing bin cooking for use next spring.  My 36 gallons of hard cider were a bust.  Sat for months, came out amber, clear and smelling of apples, and tasted so terribly sour and bitter.  Not even vinegar, which is the next step after alcohol if air gets to it.  This was some other microorganism.  I drank some to see if I would die.  How are you going to know unless you get empirical?  No ill effects, just nasty taste.  Froze a quart to check for etoh content - none.  Poured it on the ground and killed all plant life in a large circle.  Not sure I will even get to cider this year due to the time we are going.  If I do I will put it all up sweet, not hard, and freeze it.  The stuff was incredible to drink when fresh pressed.  So tart and thick that you had to cut it half and half with water.  Just lovely.  What a thing to have 30 or 40 half gallons on ice all winter.  I can always try making small batch hard out of the sweet; much easier to control.

The ducks have begun to fly.  It is only the females, and they only get a few feet off the ground, but I know from having had them before that they can get good altitude and circle the neighborhood.  In the past, in Napa, they always came home.  The ducks, females, are much smaller that the drakes.  I don't think drakes can fly at all; they must get to 15 pounds.  Looks like we have 3 of each, though one is in-between sized and we hope for a fourth duck.  Two drakes would give us a dad and one for xmas.  (A week later and the girls are consistently staying out all night roosting on the roof, all three of them.)

Oh, my newest infatuation is with garlic.  Went to the little garlic-fest at a local organic farm, Nezinscott's, and talked to Crash, a really nice guy, all about planting and types and such.  Bought  a few pounds of Silver-white, a smaller bag of Pink Music, and then mail-ordered 10 big heads of Leningrad.  Each clove makes a new plant, so a head can make half a dozen plants.  The Leningrad is supposed to be the real thing, what the sun is to campfires.  Garlic is like wine in that there are dozens of varieties and they have a similar nomenclature in speaking of their qualities.  Leningrad would be equivalent to a brandy put up by Napoleon's grand pere. A big nose and TNT boquet.

Out in the garden for a bit; late afternoon and the sun oozing down in behind the trees.  Has been an under-the-fan day, 96f.  The chickens stagger about with their wings raised to cool themselves; they are not at all heat-tolerant. Egg production flags.  Bolder birds have begun coming into the house via Rose's do-it hatch.  Rumor has spread among them of the Whirling God Above in the office that bestows upon its children a cool breeze. Electricity would certainly be on my top ten list for Mt. Olympus' Deity Hall.  Have to go guard the portals; two red hens just came peck, peck pecking into my cave.  They do eat flies....

At the Vets:  the awful truth.

Took Rose in for her booster puppy shots.  As we went in Pat remarked that a small piece of grass was hanging off her backside.  I had noticed it earlier and was ignoring it; it seemed ominously placed and I recalled what had happened when Shay ate a tampon and had a string similarly placed, and I foolishly pulled it....

Pat brushed at the grass and didn't get it as we walked in.  We sat for at least 15 minutes waiting, and Pat kept glancing at the irritating grass.  Everyone in the waiting room was cooing over Rose and petting her; they must see the grass - no?  Pat determined to show good puppy management skills and reached down under Rose's tail to pull on the piece of grass. It was oddly hard. She pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and 4 inches later a droopy, gummy brown chicken feather hung from her fingers.  No one in the crowd 'oohhed' or 'aahhed'; they politely looked away.  Even though I was the one holding the leash and they were on the floor at my feet I pretended not to know them.  I'd been to this movie before, and the sequel pretty much sucked.  Tortured feather hanging from her fingers Pat went outside to give it back to the earth.  Rose had remained quite unconcerned thru the entire procedure.  After that we took her in a room and they stuck needles in her.  Pat probably felt it was only fair.

And I have to post this.  Oh, massive explosion, huge fireball, dozens of homes gone, and a child of my loins thinks it 'won't make the news' and doesn't call me; after all it happened a couple of miles from his house.  How many hoops must I jump thru to ensure my line continues? No one on the Left Coast wants to answer the phone at 0400 their time.  Pat loves the Dorothy Parker line, saying when the phone rings "What fresh hell is this?"

We remain, without pics this time, don and pat and all the poopy others.