Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I have been trying to coexist with the wasps by my door, but a couple of days ago, I got stung by two of them so I had to use my earth-friendly spray to get rid of a few nests. Usually the wasps just buzz past me but getting bitten was no fun so I had to do something to control the situation.
I am excited about leaving, and with all the work I am doing, I should have everything set up perfectly. I have moved my start date to July 8, right after some department stuff.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
The wineberry blitz has started. I picked a handful this morning after I worked on trimming the road to the orchard. They were delicious and I should have many more in the next ten days. I do wish my ex-partner had taken up my offer to come and pick the wineberries. She left me with some frozen ones and I enjoyed them until late winter. I am turning off the new electric refrigerator when I leave so I won’t be able to freeze any. My ex was a terrific cook and she would often bake things for me; now I am on my own and I am contemplating baking a wineberry pie. The only problem is that if it tastes reasonably good I have no willpower so I will probably gobble it down in a day or two, thus ruining my feeble attempts at dieting.
The greenhouse is still delivering. I had a tomato and the last of the spinach yesterday, along with a few string beans. I am clearing out the boxes that are done, but I am definitely going to plant when I return in late August.
Here is the copperhead poem, dedicated to my ex-partner:
Copperheads are common enough
In an isolated southwestern Virginia hollow,
But like the nearby coyotes who often howl at night,
they aren’t usually seen
Unless you know where to look.
My stacks of firewood often hid a few,
And whenever I removed the plastic
Keeping the weeds down under the electric fence
I could usually find one. I had one reside
Under my doorway when I lived in a tiny cabin
And even now I just spotted one crawling
Into a hole near the cellar door.
Usually I just leave them alone and they do the same,
A fair exchange, but a few years ago
When I was doing a sweat lodge for my students,
I had to act. I had pulled the tarp away
From a pile of split poplar, and there they were,
Three small copperheads. The students moved away,
And since dark was coming quickly
And the participants would go off by themselves
To sit and meditate after the sweat was finished,
The snakes had to go.
Having captured the creatures
Before with an improvised loop, I knew I could catch them,
But I had no time to create a tool, so I grabbed a rake and slipped it
Under the first one, and there I was with a copperhead
Draped between the rake tines and twisting to escape.
I lowered it into the wheelbarrow
And told my partner that she had to run the snake
About forty yards up the path and dump it while I tried
To catch the other two. I knew she wanted nothing
To do with my plan, but she gamely grabbed the handles
And off she went. On her return I had another snake
Hanging from the rake, and in a few seconds she was off again
As I tried to snag the third one. I did and as she rolled
The last one off I wished I had stopped to kiss her
For her courage, but I kept working on the sweat
And missed a chance, that now, will never return.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I am so used to meeting someone out west—my ex-partner used to fly out for a week or two—that I am increasingly uneasy about the changed situation. I could probably call up a couple of women who would be willing to meet me but then that involves other concerns that I don’t want to deal with. I do have friends in Portland, Oakland, Fremont and San Diego and I will be there three weeks after I start so I mustn’t panic. I almost went to a Sufi dance with Jeff and Rachel but opted to play golf as I had planned. With my bad knee I am not sure how much Sufi dancing I could do.
Friday, June 25, 2010
I decided to head for my favorite spot on Wolf creek and it turned out to be a fine decision. I fished a couple of hundred yards and caught three rainbows and three redeye bass. It was a lovely evening.
I have been looking into going to Europe next summer and there is one 35 day cruise that starts and ends in Boston that sounds very appealing. If I do that then I won’t have to worry about any other travel arrangements and my stuff will be in one room the whole time. I love to plan so I will think some more on it.
I did more work on the truck and I installed a reading light for the trip. I used the old LED light and fashioned a frame for it so it will aim down at a book. I watched the end of that amazing tennis match and Isner won 70-68. I never watch tennis but that was a tremendous effort by both players.
I am writing this on my new computer, which is another Think Pad so I am pretty comfortable with it already. Windows 7 seems okay but since I just need very basic stuff it is a bit much for me. I’ll bet I don’t use 1 percent of the features.
My copperhead poem is coming along nicely and I want to finish it in the next few days. Then I want to start on another essay, one about handicaps such as in golf. Jeff says a victory with a handicap is not really a victory, but I differ and it should be interesting developing my points.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I trimmed the road up to the cabin and that was about all the energy I had. I think trimming the road out to the orchard will take about four years, perhaps less.
I am already working on my truck to get it ready for the trip. I set up a bracket for the fan I have but I want to put an outlet for it in the back (now you have to plug it in the front). I can get Nissan to do it but perhaps I can improvise something.
After doing my 30 laps in the RU pool, I went off to Wolf creek again and had good luck. It was very pleasant wading slowly downstream and I caught 3 fish, one trout and 2 redeye bass. My knee held up pretty well, and since I also played golf this afternoon, I will be lucky if it doesn’t swell up tomorrow.
I had an intense bout of loneliness last night but fortunately I called my friend Dolores and she was able to make me feel better.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I fished the North Fork last evening and it was quite low, but I did get a very small red-eye bass on a wooly bugger. Very lovely evening.
I have several ideas for new poems (copperheads and fishing being two) and I hope to start one later today. This surge of poetry is welcome and it is a rebirth in my writing.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I know copperheads are around. Once I caught one with an improvised snake loop, dropped it in a plastic bag, drove a mile and crossed the North Fork, and then let it go.
One used to live under the front of my cabin and it would come out to try to catch the birds that would land on the ground near my feeder. I was very careful when I walked out at night to make sure that I didn’t step on it since it certainly would have bit me. A lot of people think you should kill copperheads and other poisonous snakes, but I never do. Rattlesnakes are rather shy—how many have you actually seen out in the wild?—and copperheads don’t seem very aggressive to me.
My most interesting encounter with copperheads came when I was doing a sweat lodge for my students. I was getting the fire prepared and when I took the cover off the woodpile there were three two foot cooperheads under the cover. I took my rake and caught one and dropped it into my wheelbarrow and then had my ex-partner run the wheelbarrow about fifty yards away and dump the snake. It was not a task she wanted to do, but I was busy catching the other snakes and I needed her help. She was good about it, and I will guarantee she never forgot that afternoon.
I don’t worry about the new copperhead. It shouldn’t bother me and I am sure that is why there are no mice around the house. However, If Claire and Maddie come out for the Owl house project I will have to warn them about the creature. It might bother Claire but I hope Maddie will find it interesting.
Friday, June 18, 2010
The air conditioner experiment is a total success. Today it got to 97 degrees outside but inside it was only 71.7, wonderfully comfortable.
I played golf in the afternoon and shot a 47, the fifth sub-50 9 holes in a row. My last lesson with Jimmy Williams on Tuesday was very good and I am hitting the ball with much more confidence.
I am going to record a couple of radio essays on Monday so after touching them up in my office, I decided to head to Wolf Creek to do a little fishing. I got there around 7:30 and in two minutes I had two fine rainbows and a third twenty minutes later. It was a lot of fun and I will be back soon.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
My experiment with the air conditioner is going very well. Today at 12:30, it was 88 outside and 72 inside, and that was very comfortable. I turned the generator on because the batteries were low (1160) and they were fully charged by 12:00 (according to the inaccurate Outback) but I’ll bet the hydrometer doesn’t read much over 1200. I will charge the batteries fully before I leave.
One chronic problem came back yesterday involving the cattle fence. It has been deteriorating lately and several times Mike and I have had to put in metal posts to replace the broken wood ones. Mike had said there was no present worry since the cattle were across the river but when I got the pea stone delivery yesterday, the cattle were all around the newly broken fence. I called Mike and he fixed it, but I think the whole fence needs to be replaced. A minor concern, but if the cattle get in, they could really do some damage to the electric fence around the orchard.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I have purchased a very small air conditioner and so far my experiment is working. The device is keeping the temperature in the low 70s while outside is in the 80s. Tomorrow I will test it for more of the day and see what happens at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. The unit uses a lot of electricity, but when it is sunny, the panels are producing a little more than needed to run it. I have closed off the other rooms, so only the living room/kitchen is cooler but that is my main work area anyway.
My knee didn’t bother me for the first time while I was swimming so maybe it is getting better. I did thirty laps and it was excellent to get my heart pumping. Stay in shape, stay in the hollow.
Monday, June 14, 2010
I like the Ripplemead to Bluff City run more because there is a lot more whitewater, but for a fishing and swimming trip with a ten year old and a twelve year old, Bisset to the Fairlawn bridge is perfect. Sam, the twelve year old, has become an excellent spin caster and caught 5 bass, while his younger sister caught 2. Rick, who spent most of his time guiding the canoe so the kids could fish, caught 2, the same as I did. Elliott took off with my kayak and had a good time with it, and then Sam tried it out and also enjoyed it. I let them go through an easy rapid and they both found that exciting. Elliott and I spent time just floating for long stretches in the cool water and that was very refreshing. Overall a first rate trip and it was fun to reconnect with Sam and Elliott, whom I babysat for when they were much younger. I still fondly recall taking Elliott out in her stroller and wandering around her neighborhood while I would sing improvised songs and she would smile at my attempts.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I went swimming again, and I was hoping to test my knee with 9 holes of golf, but rain stopped that plan. It was now about 6 and I wasn’t sure what to do. That makes me uneasy and increases my sense of isolation, so when Rob called to see if I wanted to take a walk, I jumped at the opportunity.
We walked in his neighborhood under umbrellas and the physical activity and the conversation stabilized my mood. Then, when we returned to his house, his wife Fay and his two children, Rachael and Noah, were playing a word game and I asked if I could play. They were a little suspicious about whether I would have an unfair advantage (being an English Professor) but we all had a lot of fun, and Rachael ending up winning.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
My biggest problem is that I am starting to get lonely, a bad sign that often means that I will get involved with someone I shouldn’t pursue. I have many good friends, but having a partner is something I am very used to, and I miss the intimacy of sleeping in the same bed with someone. Even after my ex-partner told me she was leaving, during the seven weeks she stayed with me while her new house closed, we shared the same bed. I would put my hand on her thigh each night for a minute or two, not wanting to disturb her but wanting that physical contact. I didn’t expect her to respond, and she didn’t, but there was a gentle solace in knowing she was still there.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Even now, seven months after you left,
I sometimes hope to find your silver Rogue
Parked near the log house. It can’t happen,
Since you sent back the key to the farmer’s gate,
Though I offered to let you keep it so you could visit
To pick wineberries and enjoy the solitude
While I am traveling for two months this summer.
I guess that ends your relationship
to the hollow, the place where you lived for six years.
Here we cut from the forest,
A large garden/orchard that you spent hundreds
Of hours in, and from your hands came potatoes and onions,
Broccoli and peas, brussels sprouts and string beans,
And dozens of other things.
The soil wasn’t very good, the best stuff scraped off
When we had the space cleared with a backhoe,
But you toiled so hard tilling it and tossing away
A multitude of stones. We put dozens of bags
of composted manure in, and it helped,
a little, but not enough.
I wish I could give you all those hours back,
But that can’t happen, and all I can hope for
Is that your backyard garden has better soil
And will leave you with memories
Of great harvests unclouded by any need to leave.
My knee is a real problem. It is really sore although not as swollen as it was a couple of weeks ago. I need to rest it more and I must try to do that. I have four or five projects (trimming the path to the solar panels, putting mulch down near the house, trimming the road to the orchard, feeding the upper fruit trees) that are just going to have to wait. I wisely didn’t play golf yesterday, but I did go swimming (which puts a lot less stress on the knee). I wonder if even the swimming should be put off for a couple of days.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Ken and Sandy have a lovely house right on Folly Creek. There are still getting things in order but we had a lot of fun taking out his 21 foot boat, and catching flounder (Ken had 4 with one keeper over 21 inches and I had 1 fish, a keeper at 20 inches). We ate those for dinner on Tuesday night and both nights we stayed up late playing the Wii games (golf, bowling and skiing). I was pretty good at the first two, but I crashed many, many times in skiing.
The only problem was my knee. I just did too much on Tuesday, particularly 6 hours on the boat, so on Wednesday morning I could hardly walk. I knew I had to rest for probably 2 days so I decided to head home and cancel the visit to Chincoteague. The visit was a great success and I can see Chincoteague on another trip. I am planning to visit Ken and Sandy again soon, perhaps in the fall and they talked of coming to visit me in the fall or spring.
I did a number of small things around the house and then went to my office to catch up on things. I set up with the bookstore the handout that I will be using for my Environmental Literature course, and did some paperwork. My evaluations from the spring were very high, and I am proud of that.
I am at work on getting things ready to help Maddie Gallo build an owl house. Building it will be no problem, but getting it set up in a tree is going to require Mike’s help. I certainly can’t do it myself.
I have started a new poem about my ex-partner and I think it will be an interesting exploration of loss.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I also cut the grass yesterday morning and ate some beans and lettuce from the greenhouse. I am definitely going to plant a fall crop when I return in late August.
My performance at Gillies last night was quite good, though I fumbled a little on the first two songs, both of which I have played hundreds of times. After that I was fine and we got a lot of applause from the audience. Justin even got some claps for one of his long solos.
I straightened up the house this morning, and I will be heading to the orchard to fertilize the trees and finish the grass cutting inside the orchard. I will eat the rest of the cherries and seed the hole I filled. I can’t do much more because of my knee.
Tomorrow I leave for the Virginia shore and my visit to Ken and Sandy. I am ready to get out of town for a few days.
Here is the first of the poems I hope to finish this summer:
I am addicted
To the sun.
On a hill near my log house
Sit twenty solar panels
That shoot the current in
To boot up my computer,
make my radio boom Lady Gaga or Coltrane,
send my washer turning or my dryer spinning.
Each time I switch an appliance on,
I picture the Deep Water Horizon
And the millions of gallons of thick dark
Oil that is now invading the Louisiana Coast,
fouling the marshes rich with egret and oyster.
I have had solar for over a dozen years,
First two panels for my tiny cabin,
Then sixteen and then twenty for the house.
The eight batteries store the sunshine,
Like some celestial liquor,
Their strong red plastic frames filled
with sheets of lead and bubbling acid.
I am at their service,
checking the acid level once a month,
and equalizing them every couple,
burning gallons of gasoline that might come
from other gulf wells.
Still, sometimes I sit out on the porch
And savor those dark panels fringed in aluminum,
Better than a smart bomb or a nuclear reactor,
But still manufactured, still at a cost
To yellow poplar and white pine,
Scarlet tanager and wood thrush.