Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nothing Bit Me All Summer

"Lavender is an insect repellent," the Lavender Farm nearby had advised. That place, of happy memory, lost its lovely scenic lavender crop from alternating years of flooding and drought. But when their brand of lavender oil ran out I bought a 16-ounce bottle from Amazon and have used it ever since as insect repellent, pre-treating myself against bites and bugs before stepping out and meanwhile smelling pretty good.

Somebody told me that lavender oil at the Amazon price I paid is probably not real lavender oil but swill from big tanks of chemicals in China, but I just couldn't see letting that ruin my day. The darned stuff, no matter what it is, works just as well, whether cloudy (it turned cloudy) or clear.

Caution that lavender oil as a bug repellent doesn't serve everyone. I drenched a friend in it before we went bushwhacking. Chiggers still bit him and so covered him with those volcanic bites that he was bedridden with nausea. Usually he deserved bad things to happen to him, but not that time.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Two Cheers for Conservation

I trekked down Highway FF to see what those earth-movers and heavy-equipment operators spent three weeks doing down by LaBarque Creek during the hotter weather. The conservation department or somebody demanded our landlord provide erosion control at this creek bend. Wait any longer and the LaBarque here, give or take a few flash floods, could undermine the road.

I could tell you why. More paving, especially a parking lot built in 2014 right next to the creek, makes runoff. This encourages the gentle LaBarque to rise and flood. During 2015's heavy rain this was no flash flood: the creek was torrential for a full day, eroding its own sandstone channel, filling its fishing and swimming holes with sand, changing  the creek's floor--it's now all shallow--and its shape, and dumping sand up and over the creek banks for 50 feet on either side, instantly altering the ecology of its entire riparian corridor. Back then I climbed a cliff to take a photo and show you the aftermath. Happened again in 2017. Flash floods now grow ever faster and taller, and when meeting this bend here they hammered a new channel through our other soil: clay.

Was I surprised to see rope for erosion control; 100 yards of woven rope to hold the creek bank all around its bend. Conservation people forced the landlord to uproot invasive cedars nearby and rope them into the creek bank's walls to try to mitigate the pounding this clay side of the creek will still take during flash flooding. Why? Because the other side is sand.

Rope doesn't solve the problem. The only real solution is to dredge or straighten the channel. The LaBarque did have its own very pretty and reasonable channel, but now it's clogged with sand.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Reflective Post

Somebody really, really wants drivers to see this wooden post at night, accommodating even the colorblind. I liked it. . .it embodies command, force, desire, communication, concern, compassion in the night.

Two ceremonies 40 days apart at the cemetery--traditional, and my stepfather wanted us there. It's the least I can do for a man who loved my mother for 31 years. For 40 days after death the soul may freely wander the earth and visit places important to it, and on the 40th day (just like Jesus) it ascends to heaven and is really, really not coming back, so the survivors hold a sendoff service at the gravesite with brandy, wine, food and bread, pouring wine into the earth, and then, all ready to faint or vomit because it's 114 degrees, go to an air-conditioned lunch. Then you're supposed to move on with life, except for the six-month observance and the one-year observance. I am eager to move on. Rest in peace, Mom.

Doing my best to move on, I had a new professional portrait taken July 25 and when I saw the photo, which is awesome, I thought, "Mom would love this, I'll send one.  . ." but she's seen it already.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Produce Stand

I don't know who owns this modest and remote little farm stand in a wagon; never asked. A few times I've seen a gardener working the dense, thick victory-garden plot just behind this wagon; don't know if that's the farmer. Tomatoes of several types, eggplants, pickle-type cucumbers, berries, onions, red and white potatoes, squashes (especially pumpkins, in season) are all sold here, but supply depends on what's ripe and whoever got there before I did. Also sells salsa and jam when appropriate. For cheap. I love this little vegetable stand. It's so midsummer in Missouri.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Despicable Me

My solution to craving junk food is to order a Happy Meal for only $3, containing much less food than a standard order of burger and fries. Select chocolate milk with it and you can't lose...and inside every Happy Meal is some kind of a toy or game. Today I scored a set of Despicable Me playing cards. What is this "Despicable Me" I keep hearing about? Some kind of children's movie? Animated? Why would I want to watch a movie titled Despicable Me when I'd much rather see Despicable You starring certain real-life characters who shall remain nameless unless you take me to lunch at a much nicer place than McDonald's?

In any case--helpless people being the most superstitious--I decided that fate had handed me an oracle and I would unwrap and open the box and choose a card at random from the deck, and this card would predict my future. I said, "I will believe this card no matter what it says. I commit to believing this card will tell me the truth. I won't second-guess it. I will accept it." And I grab a random card and it is the Queen of Diamonds. Surprisingly she does not look despicable at all, but rather nice. And since when is the somewhat advanced vocabulary word "despicable" used for children's anything? This totally confusing me no end except that I do believe I will soon be the Queen of Diamonds.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Yes, the Eclipse

This property is in the August 21st Great American Total Solar Eclipse path of totality, only 70 miles wide and the target destination for millions who intend to stop their cars right on the freeway where they are stuck in a jam, get out, and watch the mighty eclipse, the first one the U.S. has had since 1979 and the first one since 1918 that sashed the country, northwest to southeast, in the same way. It's a sensation! Genuine fun for everyone and children of all ages! I'm inviting people over and serving Oreos and Moon Pies. What other foods look like eclipses?

Naturally there are products tailored for the eclipse-crazed market. Naturally I bought an Eclipse scratch-off ticket for $5. Didn't win a cent. Saw "Eclipse" bronzer in the makeup section at Walgreens.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Breakfast Alfresco

"What would be fun?" I asked myself and could not come up with an answer. This is very abnormal because I think everything is fun, from hikes to mud to old trucks to blizzards. How else could it be, living in the world's most wonderful place?

When nothing came to mind, I tried another tactic: If I was in love, what would I be doing right now at 8 a.m.?

-I'd be serving breakfast to the loved one.
-I'd make this breakfast from the very best I had, to be the best and most memorable breakfast in the world, all for love.
-I'd skimp on nothing nor would I care about calories, because my loved one is perfect as is and thinks I am perfect too. So I'd use real butter and the works and serve enough to fuel the loved one all morning long.
-I wouldn't care about the number of bowls, pans, dishes, paper towels, or anything.
-I'd go to great lengths, even trotting everything outside to the red picnic table a total of four round trips, to have breakfast in the ideal quintessential vividly green July morning, the grass perfectly mown so any chiggers would have to leap really high to bite me behind the knees.

With day-old French bread, plus eggs, milk, sugar and cinnamon, syrup and some (uncured, excellent, local) bacon I'd frozen and forgotten about, I fixed the imaginary loved one the best possible breakfast and served it in the shade beneath the twin oaks. Then I ate it, in the company of one bumblebee attracted by the fragrance of syrup. Oh yes, memorable. I ought to do this every day for a year.