Archive for September, 2009

The Bows Come A Callin’

DSCF1244_edited-1I had a great surprise on Wednesday; one that allowed me to put down my hoe and do a little socializing.  A voice from the past called and the next thing I knew, Ardis Bow, Bob Bow and ‘Lil Black Sam Bow came callin’ the very next day.  Bob lives down in Port Orchard with Sam and Ardis (who lives in Sacramento) visits Bob and Sam every chance she gets.   After meeting Bob and Sam, I understand why. 

I spend most of my days out on the property (when I’m not wearing my street-walker clothes – remember, a street-walker is someone who works at a number of different shops) and I’m usually talking to non-existent critters – you know, the snake that’s a stick, or I’m banging rocks together to warn the gnats that I’m coming through…so when live people come knockin’ at the door, well, that’s news.   Oh, speaking of knockin’ at the door.  I’ve told some folks who have been bold enough to call about the Slug At The Door Incident, but I’ve neglected to share my experience here.  I must admit, I’d have a hard time believing it too, but on my word – it happened.  If you read my last post…go ahead, take some time and read it now…okay, so now you’ve seen the picture of a slug – one of the small Coupeville slugs…so, anyway, a couple of months ago I was in the house when I heard a knock at the door – not a faint knock to be sure.  This was about the same time all my wonderful neighbors were leaving so many vegetables on my porch I was afraid to come home.  Hearing the knock reminded me of  the piles of rotting vegetables along the kitchen counters so I hurried into the kitchen and hid the overflow, slapped an uneasy smile on my face as zucchini recipes from every natural foods cookbook printed in the 70’s ran through my head and fearlessly opened the door.  I’m not that tall, but I did expect to be looking near eye-to-eye with my visitor and their bushel of greens.   A quick look to the left, then the right told me know one was there…no one was headed up the drive.   Just as I was about to close the door, I looked down at the porch.  Looking back at me, head (do slugs have heads?) raised up off the ground, was a giant slug- a caramel, molasses spotted gent (don’t ask me why food descriptors came to mind).   Years ago I had a run in with an amorous squirrel who used to throw himself at my windows so I know this come on.  Here’s the part I should probably keep to myself, but I leaned down to the slug…my mind keeps saying don’t let your fingers keep typing, but I can’t seem to stop them…and I said “I came here to be alone,” and I closed the door.  But I digress.

After a cup of tea and a quick tour of the house, Ardis, Bob, Sam and I took a walk around the property.  Now, there are a few steep spots on the property that can be a bit slippery and I was a little worried about Bob.  Well, I set my worry down about the same time I started eating Bob’s dust as he hightailed it down the switchback  leaving Ardis and I to fend for ourselves.  I showed Bob, Ardis and Sam all my piles that I’ve stacked here and there, and shared my vision.   After the tour of the property, we headed into Coupeville.  It takes about as long to see Coupeville as it does to walk the property, so we decided to have lunch.  Gentleman that he is, Bob treated Ardis and I to lunch at Kim’s Cafe out on the wharf.  It was a perfect day – sun, calm water, Mt. Baker looming in the distance, and friends at the table.  After lunch we headed up to Oak Harbor and checked out the neighborhood where the Bow family lived some 49 years ago.  Bob was quick with a “left here,” “right,” “left,” until we were on their old block.  I’m not sure I could find my way back to my old neighborhood and I’ve only been gone four months.  Way to go, Bob!   Then all too soon, it was time to say goodbye.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Bow family will come back and visit soon.  I even promise to turn the heat on for Ardis.

Latest Police Report – September 16  – 1:41 a.m. – “Reporting person advised just had alarm put on new septic system.  Reporting person is unsure how to turn off alarm.  Requesting assistance”  1:46 a.m. “Reporting person recalled, advising found switch.  No need to respond.”    I’m sleeping better knowing the Whidbey Island County Sheriff’s Department has everything under control.  Hey, am I supposed to have an alarm on my septic system?  And what does it mean if the alarm goes off?  I think I’ll go make a call to Lonnie down at the WICSD.


That’s  Sam Bow to your right.  Sam was still high in this photo after consuming  half a muffin when Ardis and Bob weren’t looking.   As you can see, Ardis has her eye on Sam.    Goodnight, all.  

Oh, one last thing.  Ardis Bow saw Little Shit.  And you know what?  Little Shit didn’t run in front of Ardis’ car.   I haven’t seen Little Shit for almost two weeks, but yesterday as I was walking down the road to my mail box, I heard rustling in the bushes.  Yes, I jumped.  I know it was him.  I just know it.


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DSCF1234Here in Coupeville, the final days of summer are approaching.  Festivals are waning, the farmers’ market is nearing its end (but not before I found a heart shaped red potato and beautiful ears of corn for chowder), and there was rain today. 

As I made my way down the pier to Local Grown (which I’m happy to say is carrying two varieties of Auntie M’s cookies), I noticed the feel and sounds along the pier had changed.  The gulls weren’t squawking and the pigeons had tucked themselves under the eaves, rather than basking in the sun on the roof.  The tide was high, lapping against the posts; the cool wind, though not severe, had its way with the boats tied to the dock.  The sunrise cast its white light along the horizon, splitting water and sky momentarily, but blue sky and glorious white clouds found their way across the cove by late morning.  My “yard”, brown from the heat of summer, and because I don’t water (a precious island commodity), has already started to green up; moss covering old tree stumps and wedging itself between rocks.  I find its a bit of a magical mystery tour every time I take compost items out to the end of the property.

One of the last events, and you’re going to be sorry you weren’t here for it, was the Norwegian Piano Concert at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland – sponsored by the Sons and Daughters of Norway.  Norwegian pianist Knut Erik Jensen appeared and performed the works of such famous (and I’m sure some of your favorite) Norwegian composers as Geirr Tveitt, Harald Saeverun, David Monrad Johansen and, who hasn’t tapped their foot to the compositions of Edvard Greig.  There was a “free will offering” at the door.  Not being Lutheran or Norwegian, I assumed this was something like the collection plate that was passed at St. Bob’s.  However, you could always pretend to make a larger donation during mass because no Daughter of Norway was standing over you as they did at the “free will offering” basket at the entrance to the concert.  Knut isn’t solely versed in piano; no, he can knock out those Tveitt tunes on accordian and saxophone, too.  And who knew his klezmer-jazz would rock the Lutherans until they were up on their feet acting more like Baptists?  I’m pretty sure I heard one of the Daughters call out “Can I get a vitness?”  I know you’re thinking I’ve copied this scenario from an old News from Lake Wobeggon episode, but if you doubt me, call Karl Olsen over at Trinity Lutheran Church.  As they say, you can’t make this stuff up.  Well, not all of it.

Hoe Time With Michaelene

ALWAYS CHECK YOUR BOOTS BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR FEET IN THEM.  NOT SOMETIMES, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS because if you don’t you will slip your bare foot into your high top rubber”Wallies” to run out and fetch your hoe from the rain and you will feel something spongy and slimy and you will stop breathing for what seems a very long time as your brain tries to register what your bare foot is touching and while you are not breathing, you will become light headed, disoriented and you will cast your rubber boot over the side of the porch and you will turn and attempt to run into the house, but due to the lack of oxygen, you will not turn the handle in concert with your head deeming it okay to enter and therefore you will almost knock yourself out when the door and your forehead collide and you haven’t even looked at the bottom of your foot because you really don’t want to know what it touched, all you know is that it’s going to require boiling water, bleach and steel wool and so you will attempt to run to the closest sink – the kitchen – and you will make an even bigger mistake… yes, bigger than sticking your bare foot in your rubber boot without LOOKING, you will look down at the floor where you and have slipped and slided and you will see SILVER TRACKS and remnants and you will start hopping on your one good foot, which is attached to your one bad leg until you finally get yourself up on the counter where you know there is no friend that’s going to hold your hair back and tell you it’s going to be okay…you’re on your own and after you’ve scalded, bleached and shredded your foot, you will bandage it and you will begin to drink alcohol to try and muster up the courage to fetch your boot…forget the hoe… and when you finally tip that boot upside down and give it a good upside down shake (tragically too late), you will find…DSCF1224


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Hoe Time With Michaelene

DSCF1221After a brief respite from serious hoe time, I set out today to tackle one of the biggest jobs that lay before me – pulling out all of the dead tree limbs, trunks (small) that the previous owner saw fit to throw into what could be beautiful islands on the property.   My impetus was Rob.  Rob is coming over to cut down several dead trees in exchange for the firewood.  Rob has a truck.  On the island, a man with a truck can pretty much have his way with the ladies.  On more than one occasion I’ve heard women down at the coffee shop use the phrase “he’s got a truck,” in a dreamy sort of way.  I didn’t understand the fuss until I spent three weeks hauling debris to the back of the property on a tarp with ropes wrapped around my waist.  When I saw Rob’s truck, I felt my legs turn to runny peach pie filling and I’m pretty sure I audibly swooned.

In a moment that contained a serious lapse in judgment and a ten pound sack of doubt on Rob’s part, Rob offered to haul away all the debris if I pulled it out and stacked it.  Poor Rob.  So far I have five piles that are stacked low and wide, all branches pointing in the same direction – base to point – that was Rob’s call, and being slightly OCD, I had no problem understanding the reasoning behind that request or complying with it.   Most of the branches measured out to the same length once I trimmed them.  Truth is I want to impress Rob because Rob has a truck and it’s a truck with removable plywood sides so you can stack your base to point, trimmed to equal length debris really high.  I figure I’ve got about 50 more 15′ by 20′ stacks to go before Rob comes back so my days will be filled with more hoe time than might be appropriate for a woman my age.

I know you’re wondering, and so I’ll address it here so you don’t have to write and ask; yes, I did have some scary moments out there knee deep in brush so thick I couldn’t see the ground below.  I would estimate that I saw 293 snakes, at least that many tarantulas, 37 rats, and bare to the bone skulls of critters I might recognize if they had fur attached.  Okay, the snakes turned out to be twisted limbs, but give me a break.  When they’re lying in that moist soil, it’s best to poke them 20 or 30 times to make sure it’s not the real thing.  As for the tarantulas – I dare any of you city slickers to be able to tell the difference between one of those spiders and a pine cone, or not to jump up and down, pounding your WalMart baseball cap (which you are wearing) when they fall from the tree and land on your head.  I admit I made up the part about the rats, but I know they’re out there – somewhere.  But I didn’t run into the house a single time while pulling off my jeans.  In my weird little world, that’s progress.DSCF1214

I’m taking tomorrow off to help out down at Local Grown – big biscotti order from the folks that are running their Plein Air Art festival and then I’m off to the Bluegrass Festival at Meerkerk Gardens, but Sunday the pile to the right has my name written all over it, as do the other 49 right behind it. 

Oh, I got a postcard from Svetlana.  She and Gunter and the kids are in Bulgaria.  The Sow Bug Family Circus 2009 European Tour is going well despite the loss of Lester.

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Well, now he’s got me a nervous wreck, that one.  I walk to the mail box, no sign of him – ever; not so much as a quiver in the bushes, or a white cotton tail peeking out; but let me get in the car and something otherworldly takes place.  I had just gotten used to the daily ritual – the quick dash in front of the car, the slamming of brakes, the jerk of my head, the snap of my spine – yes, even at 10 mph this can happen – when Little Shit bellied up to the side of the road with a whole new routine – the Triple Zig Zag.  First dash across the road, I slam on my brakes while calling out “You Little Shit,” and then, just as I begin down the road, he zigs in front of me again; more brake slamming, more $&*%!  Well, he got me that time I thought and slow and steady proceeded down the road, oh, about three feet when he zags, his ears pulled back tight, his little, fluffy white cottontail butt just clearing the edge of my tires.  He always throws me an over the shoulder look.  I think that’s what really chaps my hide…his arrogance.

Naturally, with so much time on my hands, I’ve been pondering my relationship to Little Shit to those of  a few literary and cinematic rabbits that come to mind.  First I comtemplated Jimmy Stewart’s relationship to Harvey; although a pooka, still a rabbit.  I don’t think I’ve reached that point yet, but I haven’t experienced winter on Whidbey yet.  Check with me in the spring.  I considered Peter Rabbit and his good buddy Benjamin Bunny, but they worked in tandem, not against each other.   I ran down the list:  The Velveteen Rabbit, Thumper, Little Richard (not that one), the Trix Rabbit, all those Watership Down rabbits, and god forbid, the rabbit in Fatal Attraction, but not one of them felt right.  And then it came to me, slow and steady, and I couldn’t deny it.  Little Shit was toying with me in the manner of Bugs Bunny, and that my friends, would make me… 

I can’t deny it – when I’ve got my big rubber boots on, my baseball cap pulled down in the same regard as Elmer’s hunting cap, my big coat on and a hoe (no shotgun, yet) in my hand; well, I may look a little more Elmer Fuddish than I’d like to admit.  I try to fight it, but every night when I go to bed, I hear  Elmer Fudd singing “kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit.”  Or maybe it’s Glenn Close.   

Anyone ready to visit?

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Day of The Ravens

While I’m mowing and weed whacking the property, it’s nearly impossible to hear the sounds of nature that surround me.  Most of the time I’m concentrating on keeping all my fingers on my hands, avoiding the flying rocks that are jet propelled from under the mower (my chin and cheek can attest to that), and keeping a close watch  for that one snake that I know is lurking in the brush for me.  But all of that changed on the Day of the Ravens. 

Somehow over the cacophony of mower and whacker, I heard a familiar cry from the trees at the east end of the property.  I stopped running behind the mower, my legs glad for the respite, and waited.  The cry came again from the east end, but this time it was answered from high up in the trees at the west end where I stood.  The calls picked up momentum…east, west, east, west, east, west.   I waited and waited and waited, and then from the east a Raven came flying low through the trees, but I wasn’t able to see it, could only hear the call as it passed through the woods.   And then an answering call came from the west and the Raven flew so low above me that I could see the arc of its blue-black wings, could hear the woosh, woosh, woosh with every beat of its powerful wings.   Pure magic.

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Earlier in the week I was driving down the road to my house.  The speed limit is 10 miles per hour, so I simply coast through the s curve with one eye out for Little Shit and the other for deer who might be crossing.  (There’s a mom and two fawns living in the area and I find traces of them where brush has been tamped down and her tracks lead right up to the house.)  Up ahead I spotted two quail – one facing the east side of the road, the other facing the west side of the road.  “Okay kids, make up your mind,” I said.  Yes, I said this out loud.  Both quail then turned and looked directly at me and stood stock still.  A heart beat later…one, two three chicks came flying, stumbling, tumbling across the road into the brush on my property; mom and pop still maintaing their crossing guard stances.   I began to clap, laugh and cry at their antics when chicks four, five and six made their entrance onto the road, still so fluffy I could barely make out their wings.  Mom and pop still aren’t budging because all of  sudden numbers seven, eight and nine followed right behind them with number ten tumbling out backwards and crossing the road rear end first.   Once all the kids made it across the road, mom and pop turned and took their sweet time following them into the woods. I take great delight in knowing that they’re out there.

Speaking of Little Shit.  Some of you have asked what he’s up to.  I was thinking about him today as I coasted down the road and sure enough, he ran out right in front of me causing me to slam on my brakes.   But a couple of weeks ago when he saw me coming down the road, he didn’t dart out in front of me, he started racing alongside my car.  I’m limited to 10 mph, but Little Shit has no speed limit.  Seriously, he took off and left me in his dust.  I found him up near the mail boxes huffing and puffing with a self satisfied look on his face as I slowly coasted to a defeated stop.  

Next, I’ll tell  you about the ravens and why you should always check your shoes before you slip your feet into them.

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Wild Blackberries Are Here

Wild Blackberries

Wild Blackberries


Walking down the road earlier in the week I spied wild blackberries growing on my property.  Every sweet bite was well worth the tirade the thorns threw trying to keep me from enjoying my latest find.  Life is good.

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