the first poppy

The last portion of the tour. The poppy popped as I headed out yesterday. I was leaving at 8:00 when Bear stopped me, as promised, to dig me up some of his purple flag iris for Block Island. So I got off at 8:30 with a garbage bag full of plants. I hope they enjoy their week in NYC.


beware of bear

There has been a clamor for the video survey to include the bathroom. Perhaps you see why I didn't in the first place.
I have to pack up now and hit the road.
I put up a "beware of bear" sign and the following.

kitchen/bath/king-sized bed
$40/night $250/wk

Inquire of Randy Walker across the street.


would you trust this man?

I had Bear over for a confab that turned into an eight-hour marathon. I gave him a haiku to read, but he couldn’t get the last word: tulip. He quoted Hank Williams—“I don’t think I’m gonna get out of this world alive”— and we loaded his Hank Williams CD onto my computer. I played Kathleen Mock. He wanted me to copy her CD for him.”I like her voice,” he said.
We had hummus and miso soup and Japanese crackers and lasagna. And drank up all my Heineken Light. I lectured him on flossing his teeth—he’s losing them to gum disease, but it’s probably too late. We bemoaned the fact that I was leaving right as the peonies (which he calls peOHnies) were about to bloom. He said I should set up a videocam so I could watch on my computer. I told him I was planting a hedge and not to mow it down. “It’s called privet,” I said. “Is that like in private?” he asked. He has a privy back of his house.
I’m leaving the Goose in Bear’s hands. He will mow and watch out for intruders. “I think you should get married to a cleaner,” I told him. “That way I’d have a full service outfit across the street.“
I said I had to check my tire pressure for the trip.
“I’ll do it right now,” he said.
“It’s dark out,” I said.
“Well I better get mah gun to shoot the varmints,” he said.
It took me a minute to realize that he was tweaking my perception of him.
We laughed.


where we are

After six weeks, the man at the dump knows my name.


in situ

The New Goose just before last night's Entertainment.


hillbilly heaven

So the Goose has gone from bachelor pad to Martha Stewart—and now it's headed back to bachelor pad. The seat cushions are ripped. Damn. Guess I'll have to haul out the duct tape.


new york cares

"Hi, this is Tammy. I got a Federal Express package addressed to you?" Due to my having no cell phone reception and her having no answering machine, it took us quite a while to set up a meet. But finally we met by the old bank in Birch Tree. "I wonder what it is," I said. I could see that she was curious, too, so I opened in on her truck window.
Specialty food items! Brie and blue, Japanese and Italian. I gave Tammy the apple crumb cake but did not read her the note from Otra Rubia, who said, "For when you tire of squirrel brains." (!)
And PS, yes, they really do eat them around here, and apparently some of them have mad cow disease. Guess I won't try 'em. Bummer.


dreams of my consultant

The squirrels are playing kickball with pecans in my ceiling. Maybe that's why when my brother woke me up to say goodbye at 5:00 ayem I was having an Earth Day dream.
A consultant had come to my apartment in the city to recommend ways to adjust my life style for healthier living. He suggested putting chairs and occasional tables in the treetops I could see out the window and spending time there. He demanded that every meal be cooked at home, from scratch (quel horreur!). And he asked that I start thinking seriously about how to change my ways for the better. The only suggestion I could come up with was to replace a dying potted plant with a coffee bush.
I guess I have a way to go, earthwise.


wrapping up

This is Chris's last day at the Goose. He has been hard at it—putting in two windows, three doors and a shower surround (indoors) in weather that has not always been clement. He did take one afternoon off to visit Mammoth Springs, Ark. (above), where 9 million gallons of water flow out of the ground each hour. It is the third biggest spring in the Ozarks. Take that, Santa Fe!


love thy neighbor

Sunday in Rover, Mo., where the church and gun club are comveniently located next to one another. I say, outlaw guns and legalize marijuana (and tax the shit out of it). But what do I know? I'm just a damn liberal.



I went out by the pump yesterday to dump out some bleach and water, and as I dumped it I saw—ohmigod—a morel underneath the nasty stream of water. This is the much prized mushroom that you don't dare rinse even in fresh water because "it ruins the delicate flavor". I knew it was a morel because a previous owner had mentioned that they grew in the yard. And also because (literary name-dropping here) I had hunted morels one spring at an annual New City party thrown by noted intellectuals Diana and Lionel Trilling. Still, I wanted to check that it was not the similar but more poisonous false morel. On the web I found the following: Gyromitra esculenta has a solid stipe whereas those of true morels (Morchella spp.) are hollow. Check.


do i need this?

The question is, how much is it worth to me? How much would you pay?



Yesterday we destroyed a wall; today Chris is taking out shelves that were covering two wind holes. Soon the Goose will have four eyes on the front.


local fauna

The mallard and the basset are constant companions. They follow each other around town and even cuddle up together to sleep. This time the duck determined to visit the Goose, and the dog followed.

Both were distracted by an attractive puddle.

And after a drink and a dabble, they waddled off home.


sitting goose

Some of us are sitting this one out. I'm sure you're reading about the law firm that offered associates $80,000 to take the year off. Nobody's offering you that money. But think about it: rent the house or sublet the apartment, allot a portion of your savings (if you have any) to expenses, buy a plane ticket or a car—and give yourself the year off. Just decide not to worry about it until next spring. By then you may be a different person.
And there's always the Goose.


happy pagan fertility celebration

The blood sacrifices have been made; the land is renewed, fertile and ready. So make like bunnies and hatch those eggs and let's get this new season rolling.


one month later

On Friday the thirteenth four weeks ago, I bought Claudia's Surf City, Ozarks, a.k.a. The Goose. I have been privileged to realize all over again that no matter how small the house, it still needs the same systems—heating, electrical, water/sewage, communications, cooking—as any larger place. The footprint of the Goose is a manageable 16.6 feet by 22.6 feet, with two floors—two rooms plus a bathroom. I have not even managed to paint it all. However, after spending thousands at Walmart, I have a bed, a toilet, a Frigidaire and have destroyed two mops. I have found a plumber, a gardener, a handyman, three phone repairmen and, alas, no electrician. I have made a couple of friends and a couple of enemies. I have taken many loads of junk to the dump, cleaned up and reseeded the yard.
Basically the same stuff I do in Block Island, except with a lot more driving and more tornadoes (like last night not too far away in Arkansas). And no rental possibilities.
Meanwhile, I still have plenty of house guests in New York and in Block Island—now my relatives are rushing the season. More proof, if any was needed, that Claudia's Surf City is not a person or place, it's a lifestyle.


squirrel's rest

I like the light on the concrete block and the new green of the tree which I won't know what it is until it leafs out. I like the sapphire of the sky. I like the way the roof steps down (although not enough for runoff without proper flashing).
The roof has another feature, too. It houses a family of squirrels. I had heard them running around in my ceiling, but didn't see their hole until yesterday. Bear was raking, and I was planting my four plants—tomatoes, swiss chard and thyme—when we heard squeaking. A baby squirrel had fallen out of the nest in the roof and was vainly trying to scramble up the electrical wires. We saw the mother looking out of the hole, but she wouldn't come down with us there. The baby hid under the air conditioner for an hour, and when we weren't looking, mom swooped down and swooped him up. She uses the tree branch for access, not the wires.
And when My Brother Chris gets here, they are so outta there.


thrill hill

The rollercoaster nature of the road to Thomasville will make your stomach do flipflops if you go too fast. Dianne's ranch hand trailered his father's 1947 tractor out to the Goose to smooth out my garden bed. He calls the steep uphill followed by a downhill a "whoopdeedoo." His house is near a doozy, he says. "On a motorcycle, we could leave the ground for quite a distance." One time a kid did it in a Mustang at about 100mph. "All four rims left the ground," says Danny."It made two hops and wound up 15 feet up in a tree." He calls this suicidal and says, "I don't have a grudge again' the world."


old friends

People who get pets need to remember that animals' life spans are much shorter than ours. Jacky the Wonder Dog no longer does tricks and is incontinent now. The stray cat cannot put on weight and is always hungry. I remember them back in the day. We watch them and worry. And yet, they seem happy. And they have each other.


the thing i bought

Yeah, it's a rusty piece of shit that I wouldn't have picked up for free at the Block Island dump. And yet—those are fine decals. And once it's cleaned up, all I will need is my niece Eva to make a shopping list for me like she did for her mom. This is actual spelling:
drie dog food. paipre tawools. bananas. chocolat cheeps. cachop. codige cheese. potato cheeps. sgwees yogrut. pop corne. colde cats. oranges. pars.
You probably need to know that her first written language is francais. And that she likes fruit.


home sweet home

These are the housewarming gifts I have received so far: A cow skull (from the dinner guests who said they would eat anything but okra, oysters and collard greens), and a set of coasters featuring the beer that is not sold here from the Yankee Tavern in the Bronx, mailed out by you know who.


nature lesson

They fly slowly and seem to trail long tendrils, with real wasp waists. Some are striped; others blue. I call them mud wasps. Bear calls them dirt dobbies, and others call them dirt daubers. Danny, Dianne's ranch hand, calls them waspers. (He also says that when my roof was leaking my house "fell aflood.") In any case, these are the creatures' little houses on the outside of mine. The female builds one, lays eggs inside and then captures a spider—they prefer black widows but will use any kind—and seals it up in there for the larvae to munch on. They are not aggressive waspers, not like hornets, and I am tempted to leave them there. Whaddya think?

For Wolfen's exciting news, check My Turn to Parent.



Entertainments were held yesterday at the Goose. Newspaper honcho Frank and his bride, Dianne, joined me for plate lunch (pork roast, mashed potatos, fried apples) at the River's Edge cafe, followed by dessert on the veranda at the Goose. At one point we heard an owl hoot. "I've never heard an owl during the day," said Dianne. Said Frank: "Insomnia."
In the evening I was joined by artist/therapist Bill and his high school (and, many years later, current) sweetie, Carla, for cocktail hour (apologies about the deer-in-the-headlights look, guys) and dinner downstairs in the former meth lab. (BTW, my literal-minded friends, I'm just kidding. There was no meth lab here or I wouldn't be here! Jeez!)


main street, usa

Maybe it's because finances have always been tied together with string here—or duct taped—but the world's economic gloom does not seem to have descended on the Ozarks. People seem to go about their business, what little of it there is, as before. They shop at Walmart now—but then they have done so for years since Walmart started in this area. Their 401Ks are nonexistant, but then they always were. They sell some trees, have yard sales, grow vegetable gardens, drive old trucks and raise beef. The hurting here is among horse breeders whose feed budget has gone way up with fewer sales now of expensive eating machines. But that started some years back, thanks to biofuels. So the rich are probably hurting, but the rural areas have been down so long it feels like up to me.
Speaking of horse breeders, here are links to Dianne's blog and Denise's website.