Posted by: David | May 29, 2008

Vacation Update

So here I am Internet, over halfway through a 10 day leave time, and finally I sit down to write a post. This time last year there was a big garage construction project going on. This year it is much quieter. My wife is off on a trip to South Carolina to visit a friend and compete in a 3-day combined driving event. I take this time off from work so that I can tend the farm, feeding the animals, cleaning up the horses’ stalls, etc. and not have to be in a rush to get to work. Oliver would have a difficult time being confined to his crate for a full day- and he cannot really be trusted to be at liberty in the house without supervision. He’s just way too nervous for that sort of thing. I don’t even want to think of what he might do if left home alone. It would be way worse than that little Macaulay Culkin kid, believe me. Or even Macaulay as an adult …

In the last day or two I finally settled in to the peaceful state that only comes from days of unplanned, unscheduled “me time”. I’m so very selfish I am. Today I took Oliver to the farm and feed store. I needed another bag of organic fertilizer, a female 5/8″ hose end, 6 brussels sprout plants, and a couple of bales of oat straw for mulch. The feed store has a stuffed fox, at least I think it’s a fox. I guess it’s some kind of cruel joke that they have the fox dressed in a hunter orange safety vest.

Naturally Oliver had some concerns about this exhibit.

The photo was sort of staged. Oliver’s initial encounter with the fox was quite amusing. However, the camera was still in the car. So I went out to get it and brought him back in to the store. But I kind of had to force him to reexamine the fox so I could get a picture. Oh well, I tried. He was more interested in the other customers having already figured out that the fox was not in need of monitoring. The 2 bales of straw didn’t really fit into the trunk of my Camry, so I drove home with the trunk lid open. It’s not far, less than a mile. No worries. We made it home with all the supplies.

I continued wheeling barrow loads of aged horse manure/bedding over to the garden from the barn. It’s a big wheelbarrow, so 3 or so loads was enough to mulch over a bed with 3 or 4 inches of covering. This was done after applying the 5-3-4 fertilizer and raking it in a little.

The straw bales rest on the wheelbarrow. Perched on the rock to the right is a plastic owl.

Photos of empty garden beds are pretty unimpressive, I admit. Even with little piles of mulch on them. I got a little tire of wheeling manure around so the last couple of beds will have the straw mulch. Oat straw is a great mulch, almost no seeds and it rots into the soil in a year or so. The horse bedding and manure tends to sprout a lot of weeds, owing the inefficient equine digestive system. Oh well, weeding is just another part of the deal with gardening …

Not much of the garden is actually planted, but by tomorrow I’ll have all the beds ready for planting. The plants wait patiently in the greenhouse. I’m sure you want to see that, right?

Even if you didn’t want to see it, here are the various seedling plants.

Tomatoes, peppers, basil, marigolds, cabbages, broccoli, coleus, dill, and other stuff. They are doing well in the greenhouse. As it happens, I forgot to plan sufficient venting but the neighboring trees and general orientation of the greenhouse seem to have so far prevented it from getting too hot. Of course we’ve barely made it into the 80s yet. The plants are big enough to require checking on a couple times a day.

I have some sad news on the cairn front. On a bike ride last week I spotted an unusual “road kill”.

Another dead stick figure by the roadside. Another statistic.

The roadkill turned out to be a dried out banana peel. Sort of a relief I guess, since stick figures are so gosh darn cute and are probably on the endangered species list, just like the rest of us. Anyway, this roadkill was merely a harbinger of further tragedy. The beloved cairn had been destroyed again by roving vagabonds, carnies, or some other ne’er-do-wells.

May 18, 2008. Cairn down. Mommy, why are there assholes in the world?

Not one stone left atop another. As of today all the stones are gone!

This is a sad state of affairs. Since the rocks are all gone, probably chucked into the woods, I wonder now if the state may have decided that this cairn was one of those “attractive nuisance” hazards that might distract weary travelers to Henniker, causing them to crash their cars into Lake Massasecum. Who knows? Having yet to fully respond to CuriousC’s Cairn Meme post, I knew that something had to be done. I thought and thought and thought. Finally yesterday, I piled up some stones. For revenge. At my place.

Turns out I kinda suck at cairn building.

I still feel the need to do something about the destroyed Route 114 Cairn. We’ll see what I come up with. On a happier roadside note, I can report the the “I STILL LOVE YOU CHICKEN FARMER”, official town graffiti of Newbury, NH has been restored! It was actually restored before Memorial Day. A few flags were planted in the little flowerbed in front of the rocks. Thank you to the kind people who restored this lovely roadside inspiration. Would y’all mind trying to rebuild a cairn down in Bradford??



  1. That’s an awesome green house you have going there, David. My girlfriend would be so jealous. We actually have to cut the garden at the Cape in half because we don’t have enough time down there to tend to it. My girlfriend is unhappy about it but it’s the reality of the situation.

    Stick figure death. Nothing sadder.

    Thanks B&G. Everything I’m doing nowadays feels so much better knowing that it makes people jealous and covetous (is that a word?)! πŸ™‚

    Not really. It actually makes me feel bad. Everyone in the world should have a little garden and soil to play in. At least we have this blogtastic way of sharing our wonder-filled lives!

  2. I like all your green photos best, and all those little pots. Since you have so many, you would not notice, but the small plants are the most incredible to watch. I always have small ivies, where one can still see the leaves coming out one by one.

    I almost can’t see the plastic owl. (I have a post on Socrates killing himself by drinking hemlock, and on that post there are two JPEGs: Socrates’ last words and hemlock. Guess which of these gets the clicks.)

    Also, you have not put in any photos of your horses for a long time, and never a photo of their faces.

    I am in a hurry, because it has just taken 42 tries to put in a little picture somewhere in the spot where I wanted it and not a little above or below : 42 tries + 1 pull the plug + 1 swear word.

    Thank you cantueso. Plants are pretty amazing to watch I so agree. We have an ivy here called “poison ivy” to which most people are allergic. I make an exception to my organic gardening practices for poison ivy. I spray it with a chemical herbicide every year. It still seems to come back the next year. But weaker. It’s not an ugly plant, but its toxin is horrid. Some lucky folks are not affected at all by it.

    I apologize for the owl’s invisibility. You know, I’ve often wondered why you put those text items in as gif files. But I’m gonna go with the hemlock getting hits from all the poison fans out there looking for cool ways to kill themselves. To make up for the owl’s poor showing, I’ll try to put some horsey pix in soon. After all I have been tending them all week. They don’t really like being photographed, even though the camera makes no sounds and usually no flash. Isn’t that weird? I should try pointing the camera at them in a more stealthy manner.

    I’ve had some occasion to swear at WordPress lately. Several occasions really. I hope they’re not growing too fast. You have to wonder about when they’ll begin to “monetize”.

  3. Instead of saying “to have some concerns with..” It is now always “issue”.

    And do you remember “siblings”? In a letter on the same subject, his “sibs” were informed that each of the sibs should receive a certain amount of money.

    I’m baffled by this comment.

  4. I COVET your greenhouse and all your cute little seedlings.
    They look very happy!

    Thanks Talea. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you’re getting some vicarious pleasure from the seedlings. After reading your Green Thumb Talea post I was encouraged. We always show people our gardens and you can easily tell the folks who are interested from the folks who just see “plants and dirt”. I hope you have a nice greenhouse and garden in your life soon so you don’t have to covet mine. πŸ™‚

  5. I’m afraid I’m a coveter too. I love the greenhouse. I did get four container tomato plants. And four different herbs to grow. That’s better than nothing. I still can’t find any rocks for my cairn.

    That’s a shame about the route 114 cairn but I thought your cairn was great.

    At least they reinstated the graffiti.

    Enjoy the planting season.

    Oooo that’s one of the 7 deadly sins, ain’t it? Container plants are great, and way better than nothing, as you say.

    So there’s a rock shortage on the Cape? Mostly sand is it? One idea I had was to build a miniature cairn out of really small stones. So it would be less than 6 or 7 inches high. If I could find little stones flat enough to stack. Maybe you could do that. There’s no rule on cairn size. And I have the official rule book. Somewhere …

    So finding little stackable stones has been the problem. And the time to look for them. But I’m still looking. Then I’d glue them together and place them at the route 114 site, take a picture, and see how long it takes someone to notice the mini-cairn and whether they remove it. I love the idea and hope I actually do it.

  6. They destroyed the cairn? Bastids, I say!
    Yours is lovely, though.
    And the garden? And the seedlings? So beautiful, David. You’ll have a wonderful garden!!

    Thank you Red. They ARE bastids!! I appreciate the compliment but my cairn is really pretty lame. I might just knock it over myself and become a bastid! Oh wait, I already am one. Shit. Well I could just add “cairn-knocking-over” to my bastid resume.

    Hopefully the garden will be wonderful. We’re a little short of rain here. Only a half inch for the month of May. It rained a little this morning, but not enough.

  7. I think I will take your advice and build a mini cairn. That way I could do it myself and it would be truly mine. If I shoot it correctly with the camera I can make it look a lot bigger and keep everyone guessing as to it’s size except you. You will know the truth. I guess all your readers will too who are all my readers. I guess that won’t work. Oh well, I will build a mini one anyway. Eventually I want a big one to put in my new Oasis.

    Yeah I was thinking trick photography too! πŸ˜€ I won’t tell if you don’t. I’ll start looking for little flat stones tomorrow. I shouldn’t need very many …

    So you’re building an Oasis?

  8. “Another dead stick figure by the roadside. Another statistic.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….out of the entire post, out of your lovely seedling plants, Oliver and the fox, the whole bit, it was the stick-man line that got me….LMAO…it’s the little things Mr. Levine πŸ˜‰

    You know Romi, I passed that dried banana peel, wheeled on thinking about it, decided that I needed to photograph it, and turned back. Now I know why.

    It really IS the little things … πŸ˜€

  9. I love the ’empty’ garden! It is like hope: it portends the future bounty! Positive expectations and all that crap which people laugh at me for.

    Cairn bldg = sweet revenge. I look forward to hearing what you find out about state dis-approval of cairns? Gosh, we just can’t have our citizens having any fun, now can we?

    That’s a nice way to look at the empty garden C. πŸ™‚ And at least the people who laugh at you and your positive expectations are having some kind of “fun”.

    The cairn was on a state route, and I didn’t suspect its demise was possibly “official” until noticing that the stones were nowhere nearby. Plain old vagabonds, tramps, hobos, or highwaymen would only get their laughs at the destruction, not the cleanup. At least the cairn’s last incarnation was cool. Glad I got it photo’d and on the interweb.

    New Hampshire’s motto is somewhat on the dark side I’ll admit: “Live free or die.” Of course the guy who said that first long ago died. But that’s not the point. I’m not sure what the point is. Oh yeah, cairn building = sweet revenge. πŸ˜€

  10. I put text in as GIFs and before JPEGs because I know for a fact that people do not like or can’t read the original stuff. I only like the original stuff, and so I put it in as a thumbnail, just in case.

    I think you have never mentioned leeks. They are wonderful added to lettuce or in a mayonnaise used as a salad sauce, and, unlike onions and garlic, they do not smell.

    The “baffling” comment : you said something about a “problem” and I told you that now it is always “issue”, not “problem”.

    That “issue” word spread as fast as any, but it spread all over the globe and invaded even the little cowtowns in Spain where computer people tried to find out what is “real meaning” was .

    I had been watching other words that spread like that, and recently it was “sibling”, now “sib”. But excepting the WMDs, no word has been able to catch on like “issue”.

    Thanks for all these explanations cantueso. As usual, you end up making sense.

    I love leeks! I had some photos of leek flowers, but we aren’t growing any leeks this year. Which is too bad because they’re wonderful for all the reasons you cite.

    The spreading of words is fascinating. We have a term “buzzword” for words that are currently “hot” but probably will not last long in popular usage. Buzzwords’ lifetimes depend on how long the instantaneous media bandy them about. They’re short lived these days. As you say, “issue” is well established here in the USA. I posted a while back about having heard one of the college students say “What’s your ish?!” to a friend. Ish was short for issue.

    When I was a youngster back in the 1960s, the only buzzword we had was BUZZWORD!!

  11. Imagine “ish”! I know only two Spaniards who speak English really well. The rest, can you imagine what word they learn after a summer in the US?

    They learn “over”. Instead of saying “I live there” they say “I live over there”. You have to imagine that to speak American English has a prestige similar to driving a big sports car. I speak with a German accent, and there is no prestige in that. Zero.

    I knew “buzzword”. Now I have become allergic to “take out” for “kill” in military language, last seen in an Obama remark (quote from memory): “And of course we’d take out any high priority targets like Bin Laden if they were in sight”.”

    That is really the worst I have heard so far, as it is also abominably stupid, since I can’t take out any target if it is not “in sight.” Since Obama is not stupid, this remark only shows his high level chamaeleon linguistics where substance is secondary.

    I really like this comment cantueso, thanks! You thoughtful insights, as usual. I feel so ignorant knowing only one language, and find it fascinating how well you write in English and saying your don’t speak it. It’s stupid of me to be impressed by that isn’t it?

    “Chameleon linguistics” what a great phrase. ♥

    My best friend’s father was a refugee from the Nazi Germany and spoke with a strong accent his whole life. Naturally, as kids, my friend and I imitated his accent often in our humor. But, in knowing his story, there WAS some prestige in that accent.

  12. In the US that accent became something because of Kissinger and others.

    As to buzzwords : “workshop” in its Spanish translation as “taller”. It has become the only acceptable term for “class”. It shows how people need to be fooled.

    Now yesterday, in the weekly town bulletin, I saw there was going to be a “taller” on “street basket” where they would learn “el dribling”.

    Kissinger and Edward Teller (Dr Strangelove’s role model).

    πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ “el dribling” !! Are you planning to attend that class?

  13. If there are so many little pots in your hothouse you won’t be able to put in the chair(s) where you wanted to get your winter tan. I also have a “seedling” , but it is a “cutling”, a very little Begonia. My African violets were never happy here. A friend of mine once brought me three all at once and told me he had already ordered the fourth one, each a different colour, for me and also for himself.

    It was terrible, because I was sure they would not be happy, and since it was a gift, I wondered how embarrassing it would be to say they all “went home” as Obama said of his Grandma.

    Well? I was lucky ! His own violets died immediately. So he thought the plants were a cheat and apologized. Mine lasted about a month. Lots of worries. Lots of checking them for early signs and wondering what the signs could mean.

    However, the Begonia looks very happy all the time and keeps flowering.

    Yes, but we need a place to store all that stuff. I’ll let you know if the winter tanning ever really happens. It wouldn’t be tanning so much as light exposure to fight off the so-called Seasonal Affective Disorder that gets us folks in the northerly climes.

    Surprised to hear of your bad luck with African violets. They do very well in our windows, thriving on neglect for the most part. Perhaps you were overly attentive to them? This is a fairly common error people make with houseplants. Too much water, plant food, or fretting over them. I hope you have plenty of other easy-to-care-for plants in your place, adding oxygen to the air. πŸ™‚

  14. No. In winter it gets too cold near the windows and too dark away from them. I think you put them under artificial light in winter, didn’t you? And then, in summer, it gets way too hot and dry here.

    The Begonia are happy most of the year, except during the July and August heatwaves.

    I have landed from Google because I wanted to see the date of that ominous “take out” used by Obama.

    The war is turning sour on him.

    Well we have African violets that stay in East-facing windows year round. They survive quite nicely. Watered once a week or less. We only use artificial lights to start the garden seedlings.

    What war
    doesn’t turn sour?

  15. And now I have been looking for when he said “take out high priority targets like Bin Laden if we have them in sight”.

    Know what?

    It is all over. Everybody said this sentence and had started to say it already in 2007. The whole sentence! As if it were the Hail Mary!

    The sentence begins with “Of course we must” if you are a nobody , but if you are Obama himself reciting it, then it begins with “Of course I would”.

    Another almost funny thing is how anyone would mention taking out Bin Laden “if we have him in our sight”.

    If you have him in your sights? On TV?

    Take him out? For what, tea?

  16. But “take out” for “kill” is Gestapo language for it is clearly a euphemism suggesting it is something easy and smooth to do, something that is done commonly and can’t therefore possibly be questioned.


    And as to buzzwords:

    Have you seen “thusly”? I think it is mainly for humanities graduates to quote big stuff without sounding stuffy. — Some of them don’t yet know that one simply attributes one’s quote to Elvis Presley or Einstein.

    And your “teaching moment” also is popping up here and there.

    As a phrase I have seen “the inmates are taking over the asylum” three times this month. Even Frank Rich used it once.

    Nice illumination of “take out”. Commonly done, as pawn takes pawn.


    I copied your mega-elipsis. Hope you don’t mind. My favorite buzzword recollection is that when I was a kid, the only buzzword we had was “buzzword” itself. That line never works. πŸ™‚

    Not sure what teaching moment you refer to, but I hope it was helpful. The asylum has always been run by the lunatics, no?

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