Saturday, August 4, 2012

Local Color

The PotChopper, alternately the HeliWeeder, is whining overhead. Apparently it flies over every August, looking for folks' patches of cannabis. They don't look kindly on the habit here, though you wouldn't know it from the thick fog which floated over FloydFest last weekend as soon as the sun set. Apparently when our neighbors bought their property some ten years ago, some good ol' farm boys helped them move in--accents thick as grits, overalls, and all. One of them started telling them how the property was perfect pot growing terrain and listed all the scientific names for the different varieties which would grow best in sun, shade, wet, dry, etc. Everyone's jaw just kind of dropped as he rattled on like a (illegally) certified botanist.  Welcome to Floyd, folks.

I don't mind the helicopter. It's better than the fighter jets that scream over like it's the beginning of WWIII or Civil War II, which some old timers around her probably wouldn't mind. No offense intended.

Yes, there's a lot of local color around here. Stepped into the office after lunch a while back and found this huge fellow in a tie dyed shirt and dreads with his pot belly propped against Ron's desk, using the phone. This little skinny bit of a girl in 3 kinds of plaid just stood there in the middle of the room waiting for him and asking questions about different kinds of fertilizer. Apparently their car had broken down and they needed to call for a tow. They sort of stuck around in the shade for a while before a truck came and pulled their rusty ride away. I don't believe there's a single whole car in all of the county on most days.

Turns out this guy is a local artist and has gained a certain amount of local fame for his intriguing sculptures of rabbits and things which have certain human organs. The girl is not his daughter, as I thought, but rather his partner. No one around here has a husband or wife. They all have partners. It's very business-like. I imagine they go in 40/60 on the household or something.

Toledo is also represented in the CSA barn scale collection.  Three cheers for the Midwest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Who needs brakes?" and Other Tales of a Dangerous Truck

This is our beater. It has no brakes.

As Ron says, "But who needs brakes?"

That is to say, the beater has about 33% of what I suppose it's braking capacity must have been in 1977, the year of its birth. It conked out a number of years ago, and was only recently resuscitated last year, I believe, by one of my coworkers on a rainy day. Since then, it's mission has been to cause general havoc and mayhem. For example, after distribution on Tuesday, Anne gave me a ride to the bottom of the grassy slope which passes for my driveway up to my quarters. We park there for a second, finishing our conversation, when all of a sudden a yell which sounds like "Nuuuuhhh Braaaaaaa!" and a wooshing sound of grass. We look at each other. The yell wafts through the gentle breeze again, this time clearer: "No brakes!" I have never seen any one start an ignition as quickly as Anne did. Our car bumped forward at the same moment Ron came whizzing down the hill and took a hairpin scream to the right, back onto the driveway--narrowly missing us. He had, as we are often want to do around here, been rolling down in neutral, hence the peaceful woosh of grass rather than the more distinctive--and properly ominous--sound of an engine. Brakes or no brakes, I'll be flattened one of these days by these silent trucks of damnation.

The beater is actually surprisingly reliable--it always starts, it almost never dies, even when you do something stupid like, say, fail to give it the correct clutch/gas ratio when easing away from the barn on a cold engine. It's pretty quaint to drive, too, all full of the smells of sun-eaten leather and old hay, and you feel like a real farm hand until you peel out onto the main drive way and accidently get her going to, oh, 20 mph, and you realize as you crest the hill down to Polly's place and your head cracks against the ceiling that you actually have zero control over this situation. The seat is too far back to get a good toe-hold on the pedal, but it doesn't matter because you can floor that brake and ain't nothin' much gonna happen, sweetie. So you learn to use the gears to moderate speed and not nurse the clutch as I tend to do because gravity, well, she wins every time when you're in a quarter-ton pickup careening down a gravel road to an uncertain end.

It's like riding a rollercoaster without the pleasure of knowing the thing complies to safety regulations. That is to say, a lot of fun.

Take today: I had to do some weed-wacking down at Polly's. I've driven it a number of times now; I've got it stuck in the wet grass up at my quarters once, but other than that, all's well. I know how to ease up on first gear so that she slows enough to nose to a halt beside the barn. So far, so good. On my way back, however, I decide to park it up by our upper barn, on the machine pad, which means driving up a bit of a steep embankment. Well, I didn't have enough momentum, quite, and so she starts rolling backwards and I completely loose both my mind and any skill I may have had. Foot petrified on the clutch, I rip backwards down the drive, crunch over the gravel mound and manage to miss my coworkers new truck on one side of the road and the greenhouse on the other by jerking the steering wheel around the way little kids mime driving. She picks up speed, and I realize that directly in my path of destruction stands a) the office and b) the telephone pole--they're about 10 feet away by this point. So I crank the wheel again and the sheer momentum pushes me halfway up the opposing hill and I sort of rock to a stop at the bottom.

I sat there a moment, waited for the adrenaline to drain away, turned the key, and nosed back to the barn, grateful that no one in the office had been watching.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Let's figure out if Steve Gehrke is brilliant

I'd never heard of this poet before, Steve Gehrke, but he has two things in the July/August issue of Poetry, and one of them, "The New Self", is kind of crazy. This piece has something to it that I'm not sure I've seen before -- this weird energy or movement or musicality, and a slippery darkness that's hard to explain but really vivid/visceral. You all should read it and tell me what you think. Serena, I especially want know what you think about the "this language is the jeweler's bluff" bit. And if anyone picks up any Prufrock/Eliot references besides in the sixth stanza, please let me know.

New Proposal

I've noticed something a little odd about Harlem. There's always lots less-than-pleasant stuff on the street -- huge bags of garbage, broken glass, people smoking pot, pieces of chicken (I slipped on one as I was walking into the grocery store the other day) -- but one thing in particular seems to show up a lot: gloves. Latex gloves, for instance, just regularly find their way to the sidewalk, sometimes via the sky, and today when I was walking up the stairs from the subway, I noticed a yellow rubber glove on one of the steps. So I'm thinking about starting a Gloves of Harlem tumblr. After all, there must be a lot of people with just one glove, wondering how they could have lost its perfect match, and it might be a nice community service to point out where and when I notice these misplaced items, just as a way to give back.

On the bus again

I hate when people who have window seats don't look out the window. I always feel a little rude awkwardly leaning over them to look at what's going on outside, but you know what else is rude? Ignoring a beautiful sunset over the Hudson to tool around on your iPhone.