29 April 2010

Wings Kitchen Cupboards



This afternoon I made three dozen two-inch Double Chocolate Chunk cookies with a Betty Crocker® mix that I found in Wings' kitchen cupboards. The cookies were excellent, although admittedly the mix might have been “BETTER IF USED BY 12SEP08” as indicated on the package. Which brings me to another interesting and entertaining facet of short term residence here.




We are going to bait the animal trap with those Kraft Jet-Puffed® marshmallows, vintage 2005, from that open bag. Rick told us that marshmallows are excellent for that purpose.

I myself am not overly finicky about the phoney dates on packaged foodstuffs. I do not throw out stuff that feels wet until it stinks, and I do not throw out stuff that feels dry until visible mold is growing on it. I have finished off the box of Kashi® (The Seven Whole Grain Company) Organic Promise Autumn Wheat® shredded wheat that would have been “BEST IF USED BEFORE NOV 05 2007.” I used milk that was only slightly sour and certainly palatable after being leavened with confectioners' powdered sugar.

Why does Wings need two very large bags of confectioners' powdered sugar when there is not a teaspoonful of regular sugar in the house? Was that simply a mistake?




Wings's kitchen cupboards are incredibly well stocked. Lots of packaged mixes and canned goods. These things, however, as well as the contents of the refrigerator, are so old that they qualify as collectables—except for the frozen pizzas and the beer.




Some of this stuff is downright strange. I have in front of me a package of Certified Organic Whole Grain wheat flower by Hodgson Mill® dated 09 23 07, not old enough to be left over from the short residential era here of the last sorely disillusioned female. According to the packaging, this flower serves “TO HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF HEART DISEASE AND CERTAIN CANCERS.” I am mystified. I can assure you that Wings does not give a shit about heart disease or cancer, conditions that afflict mere mortals and with which he himself is only vaguely familiar.




Not only that, there are boxes of Milled Flax Seed and Vital Wheat Gluten by the same manufacturer, all carefully stored in large Hefty® OneZip bags. I am sure that the Hefty® bags were the work of Wings' sainted mama, who checks in here once in a while to fight the good fight. Rather than simply unzip the Hefty® OneZip bag housing the box of Organic Whole Grain wheat flower, Wings simply tore a hole in the side of that bag and the side of the box to get at the flower for some reason lost in antiquity, perhaps to grant varmints easier access.

The only explanation that I can come up with for the presence of these high end, hippie-dippie baking supplies in Wings' cupboards is that somebody on the golf course told him that baked goods made with this stuff would improve his game. So he raced out and purchased a bunch of organic flower and gluten, and that is as far as it went.




There are two large cans of Sweet Harvest® cherry pie filling in the cupboard that were packaged during the Ford Administration. (Actually, to be perfectly truthful, it was 2002, well before the short residential era here of the last sorely disillusioned female.) Now, Wings has never made cookies in his life, let alone cherry pie. I cannot tell you how laughable is the idea of Wings laboring over a cherry pie even with canned filling and a prefab pie shell.

These are only some examples among the myriad available. I did ask Wings what crosses his mind when he is in a grocery and purchases this stuff. He responded by informing me that Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees is going to win the batting title this season.

Eco-friendly Lawn Care





I am pecking away here at midday on Thursday at a spot on Wings's dining area table that I have cleared off. This evening I will return to the farm, pack, and sleep over. I will drive into the big city tomorrow afternoon and return the automobile to Spike and return to Wings's homestead in the country. Tomorrow evening I intend to sit by the fire with him outside and listen to the night noises into the wee hours until it is time for him to take me to the airport very early Saturday.

The Good Lord willing (that is what we say around here), the airplanes will all stay in the air until such time as human intentions bring them down. In that case late Saturday afternoon I will be standing in Mexico again wondering if my luggage accompanied me. It did not make it with me all the way up here, but it soon caught up. Of course the converse proposition, which nobody ever mentions, is that the Good Lord may not be willing. We will deal with that contingency if it occurs.

This is an amazing place, the United States of America. The Anglos who stole the eastern third from the Indians, the French whole stole the middle third, and the Spanish who stole the western third surely knew what the hell they were doing. It is a prime piece of real estate, perhaps the best real estate in the world.

I can understand why this real estate and the resources on it and in it appeared limitless to the Pilgrims and the Conquistadores. I can understand why they thought that no care whatsoever need be taken of those resources. There arises the heartbreak of having lived a life in the second half of the Twentieth Century and having been able to watch the accelerating desecration of this particular piece of earth first hand, desecration by a species out of control.

So I am going back to Mexico where the species is certainly out of control, too. However, the show down there still has the added benefit of some novelty for me in certain respects.

It is way too late in the game to do anything about all that, however. Way too late. My advice, for whatever it's worth, is to take in a ballgame or some other circus—perhaps start following Dancing with the Stars--occupy your mind with some vacuity like that and forget about it. Over geologic time the planet will cleanse itself, right itself one more time, and everything will be fine. . .until the sun burns out, that is.

* * * * * * * * * * * *




Wings mowing lawn in his jammies.


I tried to persuade Wings to allow his lawn to return to natural prairie since it was well on the way anyway. He would have none of that, however.




Good spring for dandelions here. Big fat ones.




I can say this for him, though. He does not hasten peak oil or contribute more than his fair share of carbon emissions by mowing his lawn too often.

28 April 2010

Tree House Down



I have broken a lot of promises to you here on this blog, but not this time. I have a video of the tree house coming down.

I obtained the help of my friend Rick. I have known Rick since kindergarten. He has a big GMC diesel, four-wheel drive pickup. You will see how that plays in.

For most of you, this seven-minute video will be about as entertaining as watching ice melt. However, for those of us who have listened to Wings bitch about this treehouse for years, it is very entertaining.


Tree House Down



By the way as you watch this video, you will undoubtedly wonder where Wings is. Wings was in the house fooling around on the computer during the entire operation except at the very end.




Wings, still in his pajamas.




This was the post-game wrap-up around the wood burner in the back yard afterward. Rick and I were co-captains of our high school football team. Back when Rick and I were both still drinking, we did some things that are better forgotten. He has been shed of it now longer than I have been. As is evidenced here, however, we still make a helluva tandem.

A former Airborne Ranger and former Marine never worked any better together before. (They tell me that there is no such thing as a "former" Marine--once a Marine, always a Marine, and Rick still is a tough son-of-bitch.) On the other hand that was an awful high school football team, but I'm just saying. . . .

27 April 2010

Wings




Wings. Entrepreneur, bon vivant, raconteur--a great American.

26 April 2010

Groundhog



The tree house continues to come down here at Wing's place. In the meantime we discovered that some critter was burrowing under the back of his garage. We set a trap. Folks laughed at us. We caught the critter. Folks are not laughing now. They are impressed.




It turned out to be a groundhog. I think that they are called woodchucks in Great Britain. Here is a video with bad sound sync. (Remember. If the video screen does not appear when your page first loads, click refresh and reload the page. It should appear then.)

woodchuck



Wings hauled it into town to show it around before turning it loose in another place, the precise location of which shall go unmentioned here.

All the walls of the treehouse are down. The pull-down of the huge floor assembly is now scheduled for Wednesday. We will provide video of that, too, of course. Stand by.

22 April 2010

The Tree House





More about the current setup, and more importantly about the tree house.

Wings owns an acreage out in the bush here. It is a straight up, in line, three-bedroom ranch-style house. Wings is a former newspaper man now collecting unemployment as so many former newspaper men are now. However, his main source of income is his internet farm auction site, midwestauction.com. Runs it out of his house, although he used to maintain an office in town next door to mine.

Wings has his own style of living which we could call anything but neat. It is basically a style endemic to aging bachelors everywhere. I was compelled to wash a stack of dishes and work on the kitchen when I first took up residence in the Number One guest bedroom. It is an operational kitchen now once again. Beyond that I have simply done some loads of wash and cleared a path through the living room, which required a surreptitious trip to our old office building's dumpster in town and to the recycle center with the empties. Not bad really.

Wings himself is almost 49 and reminds me of a small Buddha. Nonetheless, he is a great golfer. I first met him when he came to me for legal help in 1999 when he had two women pregnant at the same time. Moreover, one of the women was carrying twins. We had to sort out that child support mess. We have been friends since. To his great credit Wings has been an active father with these three boys (all of whom are essentially the same age), and he has been a very entertaining friend for me.

I am able to live here with the guy for a short time without any great problems. However, I can certainly see why those women who have tried to cohabit with him in the past all walked away shaking their heads. Still, we have good crockery, good cookware, and good furniture, particularly the beds, all compliments of his mom. Which brings me to this goddamned tree house.






The acreage has a tree house, and it has been there for years. Wings has wanted it down since he moved in here three or four years ago. The bid that he got for professional demolition of it was apparently some serious money, although everyone has been a bit shy about revealing the figure to me. When I took up temporary residence here, I told him that for my rent I would take it down.




The thing about this tree house is that one has to wonder what kind of a maniac constructed it. It is as solid as a house. The studs look like they were brand new 2X4's when the frame was first built. They are about two feet on center. Everything is nailed together better than most house frames are nowadays. The bastard who built it obviously had a nail gun.






The heavy duty floor is bolted to the tree and the outside end is supported by suspension cables and a 4X4 treated wood beam. It had a corrugated metal roofing nailed on with those ribbed roofing nails that are sons-of-bitches to pull out. It was fully carpeted with two nice windows on the front that opened out with a lever. Here is the kicker. It is sided with aluminum siding. I don't have a ladder of sufficient height to get at that siding from the outside, which complicates my whole demolition operation.

I thought about dynamite for a time, but I was afraid it would damage the tree.

The only thing this young father scrimped on was interior ceiling tile. I am surprised that the dumb ass did not wire the thing for electricity and install plumbing.

What kind of a kid would enjoy a tree house like that? When you were inside, it simply seemed as if you were in another room of the main house. The two windows were too high for any kid to see out. Your usual kid enjoys a tree house that feels like a tree house. At least I did when I had a tree house. This structure, properly speaking, is not a tree house. It is a house built in a tree. Then again, if the kid was same sort of compulsive wienie that his father was, maybe he loved the place.







I have been slowly pulling it apart with a small wrecking bar, and it is hard labor. Just been pecking away at it while I stay here. The roof is off. The front wall is off. Early next week the other two walls will be off. Then Spike and I are going to unbolt it, snip the cables, and knock out the 4X4 support beam. The theory is that the front end of the heavy floor assembly will then crash to the ground where I can knock it apart more easily with a maul.





Dropping that floor assembly will be the grand finale of my visit to the United States of America. We will video that for you. It should be a spectacular show.






21 April 2010

Status Report

I am sitting in a coffee shop in Iowa, one of the United States of America, where I was able to log on. I did so 50 minutes ago. It has taken that long for my virus software, Windows Vista, and Java to download multiple updates involving multiple restarts of my laptop. All seems to be quiet now.

I stayed with my aged parents on the farm for three weeks, far too long for them and far too long for me. All is as well as can be expected there on the farm. Stared out the window with them for extended periods and saw some grandchildren. Enough said about that.

I have now changed venues to a friends guest bedroom about 35 miles to the south. The friend operates under the nom de guerre of Wings. There has been business to transact. Primarily, I needed to get my Driver's License renewed. Secondarily, I needed to go through mail, tend to a few minor things that appeared therein, get another year's supply of contact lenses, purchase some new jeans, finally close my post office box—little things like that.

Wings has been very kind to take me in. I have offered to demolish an old tree house on his acreage in return. The roof of that is already off. More about the tree house later. My heart was also warmed by a gesture of another old friend.

In 2005 I purchased the GMC pickup that is now still down in Mexico. At that time I had been driving a 1991 Chrysler LeBaron for some years. The LeBaron had no trade-in value. I sold it to a former acquaintance for $500.00. He soon lost faith in it and gave it away to another old friend of mine of whom I speak, who has tended to it magnificently and used it for a winter car for these five years hence.

This other friend, who goes by the sobriquet Spike, has given me the use of the old LeBaron for the duration of my stay. I have been buzzing around in it doing my errands in the United States of America, proud as punch.

Spike has a roommate called Pat, who restores old motorcycles. From 1967 through 1969 during my undergraduate days, I traveled around on a 1965 Honda 160 cc motorcycle. For years that motorcycle sat in a barn on my parents place. Pat expressed an interest in restoring it. I gave the damned thing to him. I have now had a chance to visit the motorcycle in its revivified state. It is breathtakingly beautiful again. Black and silver. A classic little motorcycle from those days of a brand and size owned by thousands of young people at that time.

Spike and Wings have warmed my heart. Revisiting these motor vehicles from the past has warmed my heart, too. I shall fly back to Mexico on May 1 with fond memories of this latter half of my visit to the United States of America, forced upon my by the expiration of my Driver's License in the spring of 2010.

Status Report



I am sitting in a coffee shop in Iowa, one of the United States of America, where I was able to log on. I did so 50 minutes ago. It has taken that long for my virus software, Windows Vista, and Java to download multiple updates involving multiple restarts of my laptop. All seems to be quiet now.

I stayed with my aged parents on the farm for three weeks, far too long for them and far too long for me. All is as well as can be expected there on the farm. Stared out the window with them for extended periods and saw some grandchildren. Enough said about that.

I have now changed venues to a friend's guest bedroom about 35 miles to the south. The friend operates under the nom de guerre of Wings. There has been business to transact. Primarily, I needed to get my Driver's License renewed. Secondarily, I needed to go through mail, tend to a few minor things that appeared therein, prepare and file my last income tax returns, get another year's supply of contact lenses, purchase some new jeans, finally close my post office box—little things like that.

Wings has been very kind to take me in. I have offered to demolish an old tree house on his acreage in return. The roof of that is already off. More about the tree house later. My heart was also warmed by a gesture of another old friend.

In 2005 I purchased the GMC pickup that is now still down in Mexico. At that time I had been driving a 1991 Chrysler LeBaron for some years. The LeBaron had no trade-in value. I sold it to a former acquaintance for $500.00. He soon lost faith in it and gave it away to the old friend of mine of whom I speak, who has tended to it magnificently and used it as a winter car for these five years hence.






This other friend, who goes by the sobriquet Spike, has given me the use of the old LeBaron for the duration of my stay. I have been buzzing around in it doing my errands in the United States of America, proud as punch.

Spike has a roommate called Pat, who restores old motorcycles. From 1967 through 1969 during my undergraduate days, I traveled around my university town on a 1965 Honda 160 cc motorcycle. For years that motorcycle sat in a barn on my parents' place. Pat expressed an interest in restoring it. I gave the damned thing to him. I have now had a chance to visit the motorcycle in its revivified state. It is breathtakingly beautiful again. Black and silver. A classic little motorcycle from those days of a make and size owned by thousands of young people at that time.




Spike and Wings have warmed my heart. Revisiting these motor vehicles from the past has warmed my heart, too. I shall fly back to Mexico on May 1 with fond memories of this latter half of my visit to the United States of America, forced upon me by the expiration of my Driver's License in the spring of 2010.

12 April 2010

U.S.A. Report



In his comment on the April 2 entry, Bloggerboy asked for a report on the progress of the Tea Party Movement. Now that I have been here for a couple of weeks, I think their movement's current state of development can be summarized with some photos of their signs. Since it is so quiet here otherwise, I will be putting up some signage photos over the next several days. Here is the first:




11 April 2010

Farmsteads







I have peppered this blog with pictures of Spanish colonial ruins in Mexico with which I obviously have a fascination. It therefore seems only fair to put up some pictures of ruins in the Midwestern United States of America.





I take my exercise here by walking “around the block,” meaning walking the country roads that track the Section lines of the Section in which the farm is located. This takes me by farmsteads that are now abandoned, farmsteads on what used to be family farms in my youth.





I spent a lot of time on this farm, sleeping over with the children in that farm house on occasion.





Later, when I was bigger and stronger, I left a lot of sweat in the hay mow of the barn that used to stand on this foundation mowing away hay bales as they were transported up into the mow through a large door up under the eaves on the end of the barn by the usual arrangement of a large hay fork operated with a block and pulley system mounted inside the barn.




This farmstead does not look too bad, but it was a beautiful layout in its day, the home of my best friend in the country. It housed what was called a Grade A milking operation with a large herd of Holstein cattle. Because of the strict inspection of Grade A milking operations, it was maintained in immaculate condition. The least bit of weathering of the buildings resulted in a new paint job. Immediately. Everything was clean. No other way to describe it. Clean.





In the foreground there used to be a smaller second house where the hired man, Tommy Scofield, and his wife lived. Tommy was an old Scotsman with a fantastic sense of humor in stark contrast to the grim, stern personality of the owner,his boss and my friend's father, who was eye-ball deep in hell fire and damnation religion.





Off in the distance there is Blodgett Cemetery where some of the people who inhabited these nearby farmsteads are now buried along with some of my relatives on my father's side. I used to sled on the hill adjoining this cemetery.




Blodgett Cemetery has been around for a long time.



None of this is intended to imply any sentimentality on my part at all. These locations are interesting curiosities to me. All things change. The only thing that endures is change.







09 April 2010

The Farm





I have spent nearly all of my time during this hiatus at the farm with the old folks. These are some random snapshots in various directions. A very quiet place right now just before planting.



















With mum.


02 April 2010

Stand By





I have returned to the United States of America to attend to some matters. No need for concern. Neither a death nor a marriage. Nothing of that tragic nature. I can report that it is the same United States of America that I left nearly a year ago, only more so.

I shall return here on May 2 or sooner if the spirit moves me. The spirit is not moving me right now.