Monday, April 18, 2016

Bitter herb frittata

I spent the morning weeding out the last of the asparagus beds and working on the one where we planted the garlic, shallots, onions and I think leeks last Fall. I decided to take the bitter herbs from my last post and make a frittata out of them. I am glad I stayed. I planted those seeds. I have hope again. Today I actually even had a bit of real joy. In the end life goes on. Sometimes it has to drag you kicking and screaming along but you get better. You have to find the small joys where you can and be grateful for the little things. And this farm has plenty of those if you are looking to see them.

Monday, January 11, 2016

In the bleak midwinter......

This morning the farm is as cold and silent as the moon. No roosters crowing. No guineas calling buck wheat. No sheep and goat's voices when they see me on the porch. All gone.
The heart and soul of the farm left it behind a week ago. The animals were given new homes. Yesterday I gave the chickens away but couldn’t catch the guineas. They disappeared in the night. Fled from a place that was empty of their family.
The dogs still bark but they are going too. And then the cats. Already mostly silent shadows. They all know something is wrong. They are tense and follow me around closely afraid I will disappear too.
It’s hard to decide to stay or go myself. How can I stay in this place that is permeated with him? How can I leave the only place I have that is still filled with him? I can’t have him to hold anymore. I can’t see his face. Hear his voice. But he is still here, faintly floating like a ghost.
Clothes with a faint trace of him that I can bury my face in late at night and pretend for a moment he is still here when I wake up in a panic. His books and music and favorite things scattered around. They are all going too though. I am packing them in boxes and he will come and sweep those last bits away from me.
But even once he takes everything material he will still be here. In the fences he built. The wood he chopped. The garlic and shallots we planted together a few months ago for a harvest this Spring. In the barn where he built the stalls and his shop by hand.
A long ago shining year where it was just us and we were rebuilding from the ashes a new life. Two people who invested a lot of love, sweat and tears in this farm. Part of me always hated this place because I feared he loved it more than me. But part of me put my soul here too.
Animals born and then giving their life for our sustenance. So many little souls I watched being born. Watched them take their first steps towards their mothers. Tensely waiting to be sure they found the teat and managed to thrive. Chicks, ducklings, goslings. Keeping them warm.
Gardens planned with hope and seeds bought in the depths of Winter. Seeing the cold go and the green creep up. I have seeds but no hope. An almost barren garden that will never be planted. The asparagus will come up no matter what. The shallots and garlic too. Bitter herbs for a tired and bitter soul.
I will stay here for awhile. I am turning into a ghost myself. Silently wandering the paths carved here by people and animals. He tells me to move on. That one day I will be happy again. That maybe one day I will find someone else that makes my heart sing again like he did. I can’t see that future. All I see ahead is as foggy and grey and cold as this morning here.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Boston Travelogue - Baseball

Like most baseball cities, the ball park sits in a sketchy part of town and that is where I am heading. The streets become dirtier, newspapers on the sidewalk, empty lunch wrappers, bottles, cigarette butts. I do not have the benefit of GPS or a map so I follow the general direction south veering west from time to time on back streets and alleys. Eventually I emerge onto a wider street. I am now on the southwest corner of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Looming up, up, and up before me is the left field fence – called in baseball circles, the Big Green Monster. I don’t know why I wanted to see it so badly. The history of it maybe? This is the same ball park Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Roger Clemens, and Ty Cobb played in. 

I played baseball as a kid. I loved the sport. The uniforms, the high stirrup socks, the long sleeve under shirt contrasting the color of the uniform shirt, the ball cap shaped just right, the heavy leather glove on my left hand, the sure feel of the cleats upon my feet. The sounds – oh the sounds – leather popping leather as the ball hits the glove during the warm up. The crack of the ball against ash or aluminum. The chatter of the players, the restlessness of the crowd in the stands, the lineups being announced on the speaker; the thump of cleated feet running across the earth. The smells! The smell of freshly cut grass, clay, hot dogs and popcorn, the smell of fresh autumn air, the smell of the leather in my glove. I loved playing at night. All of these things and at night, I trot out of the dugout to my position at second base or in center field, under the lights, in a fish bowl, everyone watching. Half watching to see us succeed, half watching to see us fail. During the game I am constantly thinking. As a kid, in happier times, Dad and I would watch the Cincinnati “Big Red Machine” play on television. Always the coach, Dad would ask me what should happen given a certain situation in the game.
“Man at 3rd, 1 out, ball is hit to you at second. What do you do?”
“Look the runner back at 3rd, quick throw to 1st. Be thinking about the throw to first all the time.”
I think through all the scenarios with every pitch. What am I going to do if I get the ball? It is total immersion into something outside of myself. I am a part of the game.
This is what I am thinking about now. Standing outside Fenway Park looking up at the Big Green Monster. I miss those happy days.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bette Noir to the Romantic Heart #4 - LOVE

This was no starry-eyed damsel looking dreamily into his eyes and declaring, "It just doesn't matter, no matter where we go, no matter what we have, no matter what happens, as longs we are together, that's all that matters."

Meg Ryan said it to Tom Hanks throughout the eighties and early nineties after all. Bergman said it to Bogey fifty years before that., but Bogey knew better, and put her on that plane.

No. This was a definite reversal of that. The look, saying without words, "You, your presence, your touch, your voice; it's not enough. I am not willing to go through that struggle with you."

 I wander between two thoughts. What was he thinking? Was it because he knew she would always regret staying in Casablanca? Or was he really thinking that putting her on that plane was best for her and he would be the one to suffer and that she would get over it in time. I can make a judgement, that I don't want to believe, that he was using her all along and with the seeming lack of concern as he walked into the fog with Claude Rains. He could have easily walked into the fog with Bergman - a much happier ending - a Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks ending - that neither fit the time nor the place.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bette Noir to the Romantic Heart #3 - WAR!

The Romance of War died along with General George C. Scott*. He said "Wonder weapons? By God, I don't see the wonder in them. Killing without heroics? Nothing is glorified? Nothing is reaffirmed? No heroes, no cowards, no troops, no generals. Only those who are left alive, and those who are left...dead. I'm glad I won't live to see it."

He did not. Having never been fired at, I am the least qualified to comment, but it seems to me that war is ugly and always has been. It's only saving grace, if it could be called that, is the romance that used to be attached to it. It meant something beyond the living or dying. Soldiers would not agree having been through it, but for others, at the very least, the ideals of honor, courage, and sacrifice, perhaps even the idea that the cause is worthy, was a coping mechanism we could draw on to get through the terror of a loved one coming home injured, maimed, partially alive or not alive at all. Now there is only the pushing of buttons or the pulling of a trigger in far away lands.

 Image result for patton movie

*yes I know George C. Scott is an actor and not a general. He played General George S. Patton in a very long movie. But I could not find an actual quote from Patton so I merged the two. Besides, from what I can tell, Patton, was not all that heroic in his own right. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Bette Noir to the Romantic Heart #2 - VENGEANCE!

Comeuppance for a deed done wrong is one of those romantic notions, a Monte-Christ-ian trope, that peace can somehow be attained by yanking another's tooth after they had yanked yours. Superficially, that burn to lash out, to get back at, to inflict a mutual misery seems to provide that peace, that relief. But really, with the benefit of being fortunate enough to look back, it only serves to provide a distraction in the consuming purpose it provides.
Once vengeance is complete, there is an emptiness remaining where purpose once dominated time and space. For a while, this void appears to be a sort of peace; but reality shows that it is only depression disguised as serenity. He put your eye out. You put his eye out. In the end, vengeance and the hatred that comes with it leaves us all blind and toothless.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

JOE DOES IT AGAIN! - Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks

Bought a new CD to add to my collection of all things JB:

It's a tribute concert to Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf live at Red Rocks. Everyone knows Joe sounds best live...the disc opens with either Muddy or Wolf talking about the blues, Joe adds his two cents worth too. Hearing these two blues players talk about what they feel when the play, or what they feel that MAKES them play is absolutely fascinating.

One feels the Mississippi Delta in tracks like Mississippi Heart Beat. And in a couple of tracks the songs start out with Muddy or Wolf singing and playing - old recordings sounds like - and then a few bars in JB cranks up the Gibson and finishes it off. One must turn one's volume up to 11.

Tiger in the Tank, Double Trouble, All Aboard (Mean Ole Frisco!), Spoonful (yes that spoonful), All Night Boogie, and Evil are the most notable tracks in my opinion. At the end of the set JB says goodnight to the crowd and to Colorado but, if you read the liner notes, you know there's more. His encore is introduced with "We thought we'd end the night playing some of our own tunes." Crowd erupts. "What harm could come of that?," he says.

Love Ain't a Love Song starts it off. Then the very best version of The Ballad of John Henry- JB gets all distorted and Jimmy Hendrix-ified on the solo. The ubiquitous Sloe Gin, a slightly different take than his acoustic version or the Live From Nowhere In Particular disc. Clearly a crowd favorite.

Then there's Oh, Beautiful!

JB singing. No music.

Oh beautiful, if you were mine
I would write you letters and pour you sweet wine
Oh beautiful why you so blue?
If you can only see the way I see you

That was nice I think. Different from the typical JB, even Mountain Time was a much happier love song. This is mysterious - a good kind of dark shadowy thing. Then just as you are expecting the next chorus, JB and MuddyWolf band crank up a hard driving riff that spins you 180 and then back again to the next verse.

Oh gravity weighing on my soul
Keeps bringing you round back to me
Like dirt to a stone
Oh gravity don't you ever go to sleep
Might wake up in the morning
and she'll be gone from your reach

The vocals come to a silent end, a pause, 2,3,4...and
That damn guitar again!
Last verse same as the first, song ends with the elipses just like in the lyrics below.

Oh beautiful, if you were mine
I would write you letters and pour you sweet wine
Oh beautiful, why you so blue?
If you only can see the way I see you.....