Saturday, September 24, 2011


100,000 poets around the world celebrated their art today, including a few in nearby Lexington. We strolled around the local Kroger store, adding items to shopping carts while speaking random lines from "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams. Local shoppers must be accustomed to weirdos talking to themselves. They didn't pay us much mind. When one of our group began beating his drum in the front of the store, we headed that way and gathered around him. Our leader shouted out the poem, then we began calling it out and repeating it line by line. After a few minutes we returned to our carts and checked out. For more, check out Karen's blog at

Next project, sweet corn. I seeded many plantings of sweet corn this year. Several were miserable failures, but persistence paid off. We have more than we need at the moment. I reined in our black wheelbarrow, loaded it with ears, and rolled it over to a paddock. There, Karen and I served dessert to goats and donkeys. I continued to the outdoor kitchen, where I cut off the kernels. Finally, down in the basement kitchen, I canned and froze 20 quarts.

Here's one instance in which the best is the easiest. To freeze the corn, I put a quart of kernels in a large cereal bowl and microwaved it for 3 1/2 minutes. I immediately stuck the corn in a plastic bag and into the freezer. This has worked well for years. The only thing I worry about is the Mideastern (?) petroleum that makes the plastic bag. You tell me. Is that okay?
Canning is more complicated, as has been explained in earlier blog entries. 

"Yeah, but how about showing us what the canner's supposed to sound like?" says Virginia.

All right. Here it is.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


We are now harvesting my last plantings of green beans for 2011. Today we cleaned a bucketful I picked this morning, plus some guys we'd stored in the refrigerator.
Here are the jars ready to go, filled with boiling water.
"So green!" says Virginia.

Yes, it's too bad canned beans turn such an ugly -- I'm not very good at this color thing, but after looking through a color chart I'd pick -- ooze.  Oh well, they're good in soup, and soup colors are almost always far from fresh.

Ending up with 14 quarts, I decided to put two pressure canners to work, including one we found a couple years ago in a Goodwill store. Perhaps that was a risky proposition since I haven't tested its pressure gauge. I basically ran them side-by-side, overdoing the pressure and the time on the unknown canner. So far so good.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gobbledygook and Psychobabble

Finally, in September, it's time to freeze sweet corn. Three or four ears have been favoring my lunch plate for more than a month, and now the last two plantings are ripening too rapidly for us to eat. Same with green beans. In fact, at the moment I'm behind on everything. My editors probably think I should be working on a deadline that's passed instead of writing a blog entry.

"Are you going to mention why?" says Virginia.

Why what? Maybe. Sometimes a little diversion goes a long way. I could admit that teaching a law school class has bled time from my usual pursuits, offering a captive audience for someone hungry to share tidbits after more than 17 years of fairly solitary studying. Two classes, two drops. When I left the building, it was raining. I don't know if that's a bad sign or nothing at all.

I let the writing get away from me, consume me, as if 17 years of passing persistence called for redemption. Maybe I had to be doubly sure it was real work. Are these the doubts of a possible imposter? Peel the onion. Does it stink?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Please Don't Cut Off My Nose

Our friend, Marilyn, dropped by with some bulbs this spring, gifts from gardener to gardener. I buried them here and there, marked by labels the chickens soon removed.
"Did the flower appear all of a sudden?" asks Virginia.

Like a surprise lilly, does she mean? Maybe. It "appeared" to our noses yesterday, which led us to the flower.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some of a Man's Best Friends

Each morning I look for treats. A rich, soaking rain helped bring up some lettuce the night before last.
These little beets are several days old.
Consider the innocence of raindrops on eggplants.
New Zealand spinach volunteers every spring, then produces for three seasons. I think it may be calling us home.
Merry Christmas in September. Plant the red balls for spring asparagus, three years hence.
Here's a sweetheart.
We usually have to wait all summer for these to thicken.
"Don't forget your best friend," says Virginia.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Words, Words, Words

As rain pours, making ponds of our goat paddocks, I ponder the practicality of being proud. We met a woman the other night who insisted her husband is the only man she ever met who has no ego. That's what she said. Maybe she meant he isn't egocentric. Perhaps that's why I liked him. I don't think so.

When we lived in North Carolina, many people said, "I'm proud of you." In a way, it was like being in a non-English-speaking country. Someone who barely knew us would say, "I'm proud of you." The statement was believable, said with confidence and certainty. It was not fluff. Well, maybe it was, but it sounded sincere, not like the "love ya" that gets tossed about so easily. For me to believe that phrase, it must be said fully and completely, "I love you," with no ambiguity as to who loves whom.

Many religions view humility as a virtue and pride as a deadly sin. I understand that St. Augustine wrote that pride "is the love of one's own excellence" and in the words of Meher Baba, "Pride is the specific feeling through which egoism manifests." Some philosophers consider pride a virtue. Funny thing, in one week one can receive a compliment for humility and a suspicion of pride. Hmmm, maybe it's okay coming from someone else but not from oneself or, like ice cream, chocolate and almost everything else, in moderation.

"I thought pride was a pack of lions," says Virginia.

Of course she's right. Rrrrr.