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Saturday, September 23, 2017
what I've learned about chestnuts
Listening to:public radio
Weather:85, breeze, sunny
The autumnal equinox was only 24 hrs ago and it's warmer than many days we had this summer. Hurricanes have been pounding the Atlantic islands and gulf states and we've been under a lovely dome of high pressure for weeks here. Lake McConnerd is fully dried up.

Good garden year, great one, really, Larry has been cranking out the tomatoes, corn, green beans, beets, potatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers, even celery and watermelon and pumpkin. I've got a volunteer acorn squash by the compost pile. The chickens have a lovely garden they planted right by their front door of corn and a cute lil sunflower that bloomed.

Larry's nuts. He's been collecting chestnuts every day for a week or so and has been collecting pocketfuls of various kinds of hickory nuts on his multiple daily walks up the hill. Many of the hickory nuts appear to be bitternuts or old shagbarks, but the fresh shagbarks have been delicious. I got a few shagbarks from another friend, too.

I've read and tried a lot with the chestnuts and I have come to some conclusions. FWIW: Before collecting totally sweep the area and throw out what's already on the ground. I swear the second they hit the earth a worm finds his way in. Clear then gather every day from yesterday's clearing. If you're going to use in a recipe, savory or sweet, you might as well boil rather than roast. They cook more evenly and get a more even and usable texture, and the inner skin sticks to the shell rather than the nut making your life better when you peel. Roasting is a bit of a crapshoot, as overroasted they suck and underroasted they suck. Also no need to cure in the sun if you boil. If you cure just do it a couple or 3 days til they give just a little when you squeeze. The real aha moment for me was when I read about cutting a band across the belly of the nut before roasting or boiling rather than the well-accepted x cut. The band makes them open like a clamshell for ya when they are done. So much easier than trying to rip that shell open from the x, oy. The can opener blade of your swiss army knife makes a great chestnut knife. I freeze them in chinese food soup containers after boiling and if they got a little overboiled and mushy I go ahead and add vanilla and brown or white sugar before freezing. Apparently they freeze well raw and in the shell, too, though I haven't tried it so I can't verify just yet. Best to vacuum pack them that way for freshness. Gonna try that since I've already cooked and peeled many many pounds and ready to be done but the nuts are still coming.

Gonna make chestnut pumpkin bread again, that shit was delicious a couple yrs ago. And perhaps some chestnut stuffing for our Good W/o God Thanksgiving at the Chestnut Ridge this fall. How appropriate.

permalink posted by cat 4:28 PM

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what I've learned about chestnuts
Wednesday, September 06, 2017
Goodbye, Dad
Listening to:my rooster crow
Reading:Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Weather:66, partly cloudy, anticipating Hurricane Irma

Harrison Fargo McConnell died September 1, 2017 at age 82 after a brief hospital stay near his home in Manassas, Virginia.

He is survived by his daughter Catherine McConnell (Lawrence Boland), granddaughter Olivia McConnell, and ex-wife Susan Longstreet whose special care this year enabled him to live at home independently. He was predeceased by his beloved mother Zerelda Clark McConnell.

Harrison was active in local grassroots politics. He was a hook and bullet conservationist who hated wastefulness. He was a lifelong gun enthusiast, an American history buff, and enjoyed drinking good scotch until he gave that up a few years ago, much to everyone’s surprise. He was proud of the hard work he and his mother did maintaining her home at 510 Wolfe Street in Alexandria. He was a folk artist and created detailed works in wood and paint on themes of trains, boats, ocean fish, and quotes from his favorite historical figures.

He enjoyed life and had long friendships he valued with people of all ages. He was polite and respectful but could cuss like a trucker. He was no-nonsense about getting things done right, but he enjoyed telling stories about the antics, hijinks, and shenanigans he and his buddies got into back in the day. No fool, no fun, he liked to say.

Harrison’s remains have been cremated at his request, his ashes will be spread in private, and there will be no funeral. The family offers heartfelt thanks to the good friends who looked out for him.

permalink posted by cat 6:48 PM

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Goodbye, Dad
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Listening to:audio book
Reading:Hope's Boy by Andrew Bridge
Hurricane Harvey is moving slowly over Corpus Christie dumping what might be 40 inches of rain over the next several days. It's sunny cool and gorgeous here, the middle of a sweet week of it. I've got cornbread in the oven in an old cast iron pan I restored, the batter has honey pickled cherry peppers and corn from the garden a couple years ago. My rooster and hen are strutting around the yard, ignoring the cats who are mostly ignoring them, too.

Perfect life.

This memoire I'm listening to is reminding me to appreciate the easy privilege I have enjoyed for 51 years. Thanks to Tracey Whorton for recommending the book. It's a well-written compelling story of a loving mom with mental illness and her son battling a shitty foster care system. It's another in the million pieces of evidence that but for a cosmic dice roll any accomplished shiny person could have been an invisible loser in your eyes.

permalink posted by cat 9:37 AM

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Saturday, January 14, 2017
a celebrity in Arden dies
Listening to:fridge hum, rain fall
Reading:White Trash: 400 yr untold history of class in america
Weather:33, rainy

Zeb died last weekend. He lived with his mom Patsy along the grade in Arden, where a creek came down a steep hill into the Tygart. Til his mom died years ago, anyway. Then it was just him and his hetero lifemate Jimbob. Jimbob, guitar player and singer, jack of various supervisory trades, and the most educated man in Arden, lived on and off in a trailer at the edge of Patsy's property, and had been a kind of adopted adult son to Patsy and brother to Zeb.

I'm pretty sure I never saw Zeb without a can of cheap beer in his hand. Back in the day it was often Falls City. "It's a premium beer, says so right here on the label." I worried about his drunk ass losing a limb or a digit to the bandsaw in his woodshop, but as far as I know he still had all his extremities intact when he died. His woodworking skills were pretty kickass. I have a sweet little kitchen thing you can put stuff in and hang a roll of paper towels from that he made. I don't use paper towels cuz i'm a treehugger but I've kept that thing up in my kitchen for years, probably could use a thorough scrubbing by now.

Zeb would sing and whistle all the time. A down on the crickbank a-cookin sugarcane, takes 14 quarts o'molasses to sweeten ole Liza Jane. What crickbank could that song be about? Isn't sugarcane a tropical plant? Is it really about making moonshine or something?

2016 was the year of celebrity deaths: Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Keith Emerson, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, Antonin Scalia, Harper Lee, Pat Conroy, George Martin, Merle Haggard, Muhammed Ali, the list goes on and on. Zeb was a celebrity in Arden. Everybody knew him. His house was a landmark along the river, "go about a quarter-mile past Zeb and Patsy's. . ." He literally was friendly to every single person he would ever encounter, and would give you his last beer, which was an important goddam beer to him.

According to his obit he was in the army, but also according to his obit he served in the Korean Conflict. Maybe in his dad's nads because he was born in 1953. I never heard Zeb or Patsy say anything about his dad, don't know the story there.

It doesn't matter what kind of job Zeb had in his working life, it didn't define him at all. He was a true hillbilly, of the river variety, who sought little more than to have a few friends to hang around with and at least enough beer for the rest of the day, and a few pieces of nice wood to make into something cool in the shop. He played banjo. Everyone was welcome at Zeb's house anytime, and many would stop there on the way to or from a swim at the party rock, or on the way to Betty's bar.

One time on a very hot summer day I came by Zeb's house and he was cutting up some trees with the chainsaw. He stopped and wiped the sweat off his forehead with a cold can of beer. "Zeb, it's kinda hot for cutting firewood, isn't it?" "Summer's only 3 months long." There's that.

He and Brian and Larry slipped and slid in the mud chasing a pig he was raising to get her moved to another pen. I watched laughing my ass off, it was like a cartoon in real life.

He plowed our garden and about 8 other people's gardens one day. He road the tractor all around, cooler strapped in behind the seat, and got paid in beer and deer meat. It was hot and he was pretty shitfaced by about 6p. I tried to get him to climb in my van and come home with us for supper, we'll give you a ride home, Z. He insisted on riding his 4 wheeler over. You're too drunk buddy. No, it's all backroads between your house and mine, I'll be fine. We couldn't talk him out of it, so we followed him. Unfortunately so did a cop, who came outta frickin nowhere, seriously, when the hell has anyone ever seen a cop near Clemtown road? Zeb sees him, too, and quick takes a crazy path into the woods. That didn't work. They got him. They were kinda manhandling him, he wasn't trying to be uncooperative he was literally just too drunk to comply quickly enough while handcuffed, and they jammed him into the back of the copcar and damn near shut the door on his leg. Bastards. They told us we could go pick him up at station in about 45 minutes after booking. It was scary.

When he came out of the door at the copshop he was whistling and singing, his usual self, had a styrofoam cup of coffee in his hand, and when he saw us he said "free at last, free at last, good gollies Miss Mollies, I's free at last! Got a beer?"

permalink posted by cat 9:28 AM

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a celebrity in Arden dies
Sunday, September 18, 2016
the snakes were getting thirsty
Listening to:Big Country
Reading:just finished Hillbilly Elegy
Weather:rainy front, 77
Good it finally rained some, it was getting pretty dry around here. Haven't seen any snakes but it was just a matter of time. Though perhaps the gazillion cats living in and around my porch kept them away.

I don't blog much anymore, I guess I get my expressive yaya's out by my near daily facebook rants/raves/mehs/memes/pix. But it's like fast food, satisfies the craving easily and cheaply but makes ya feel a little McRegret not long after and inspires a vow to do something realer and better and more deliberate and better for ya next time.

Speaking of cheap and easy, I'm fully addicted to La Croix flavored sparkling waters this hotass summer. Grapefruit, apricot, berry, lemon, what's not to love? Add a splash of juice, maybe a little vodka, slice of lime. Or just drink it straight from the pretty colorful can, which is what I do about 93% of the time. I should be a paid spokeswench for these people, it's ridiculous. I get a little nervous when I only have like 20 cans left on the shelf in the kitchen, or fewer than 3 different flavors. The hell.

I just finished up learning Waste by Smash Mouth. Nice acoustic guitar tune, nice and dark the way I like my, well, everything.

permalink posted by cat 3:14 PM

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the snakes were getting thirsty
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
things are black and white in the barnyard

Listening to:tv noise
Reading:Paw Paw, forgotten fruit
Weather:foggy, 62
This summer I've got 2 hens and a bunch of cats. My hens are a silver-laced Wyandotte and a light Brahma. The cats are all tuxedos except 2 all black and 2 all white. There is no red, orange, gray, or any other color out here amongst these animals but black and white.

None of this color scheme was planned, it just happened. Cats wonder in, get fed, hang around, make more cats. I've had longhaired tortoise shells and orange and white tomcats here in past years. Past chickens have included Rhode Island reds, Americaunas, barred rock.

It's random, but it's brought me to wonder about black and white and absence of gray as I sit on the porch with my morning coffee or stare at the campfire of brush and neverending black walnut that the squirrels keep planting all over my yard (why never in the pasture or back 40??). It's the Hillary/Trump year, too, also seemingly absent much nuance or gradation.

The transgender bathroom nonsense had me thinking about this barnyard thing, too. Maybe part of the reason country people might be slower to get that is that the non-human animal world, at least in agriculture, is pretty well binary on sex. Not a lot of intersex critters survive and there's virtually no transitioning from one sex to the other. Not only that but we even have different names for critters based on their sex, and you better be cognizant of what you're dealing with on that front. If that cow is actually a bull, watch out. Or that mare rather a stallion.

But humans are full of nuance and fluidity. Maybe the critter world has more of that than we know, but we just aren't capable of understanding it, the thoughts of nonhuman creatures, and how they perceive themselves and others.

permalink posted by cat 8:10 AM

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things are black and white in the barnyard
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
I'll just leave this here
Listening to:jingle bell rock
Reading:superbetter by jane mcgonigal
Weather:a crazy 60 and overcast

permalink posted by cat 7:59 AM

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I'll just leave this here
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
not on Rex Manning Day!!
Listening to:car wheels on wet road
Reading:The Moral Arc, Shermer
Weather:rainy, 53
No snow yet this year. But you know it's coming. Time to build a kitty shack on the porch for my too many cats. Mary and Kate, the white girls with a blue eye and a gold eye, keep tagging along with their mama black Peaches as if they aren't full grown and bigger than her. But Tupac, Biggie, Bootsy Collins, and Half 'Stache are independent enough to sometimes take a while to get to breakfast. The chocolate-eyed FlavorFLav seems to prefer life under the spruces than the porch, though he's usually paying attention to the status of the food dish.

Uncle Peaches comes around once a week or so, he's a big white boy, very snuggly. I think he's sleeping amongst the deer, he always comes home with multiple ticks great and small.

It's so dark, only a month and a half to solstice. Hunker down, kids, you know the drill.

permalink posted by cat 5:50 AM

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not on Rex Manning Day!!
Saturday, November 29, 2014
A kid goes to camp
Listening to:Queen, Jazz
Reading:Daddy, What's the Middle Class?
Weather:21, a few inches of snow on the ground
I was lucky enough to get to go to camp when I was a kid. I think I was about 12 yrs old when I went to Appel Farm in rural southern Jersey for 3 weeks. It was a performing arts camp, all about music, theater, dance. But it was on a farm, so there was fresh food growing and our bunks were old converted chicken coops and whatnot.

The counselors were from all over, Ghana, Australia, UK, etc. The kids were mostly jews from NYC and Philly. It was totally fucking awesome.

I spent my days learning jazz theory and improv from Lenny Liebman with a small group of musicians and my nights with my 8 or 10 slightly-older boycrazy bunkmates. They were worldly in an urban way. They knew enough to ignore the "don't bring anything to camp that requires electricity" rule. I was the token suburban WASP who wished the savvy chick who sneaked in a tapedeck had thought to bring more than 2 tapes. The blowdryer I could easily live without.

I still have the small dark blue trunk my mom bought me to pack my campstuff in, it's upstairs in my guestroom holding a couple of old wool blankets that I haven't trotted out in a couple of decades. Probably mothfood by now. Hopefully my grandkids never pushed the big latch shut, I have no idea where the key is.

Quantumleap back to the present, a team of my atheist buddies decided to try to raise $ to send a WV kid to Camp Quest, a weeklong sleepaway secular camp. While drafting the appeal I started this nostalgic mindtrip about the whole camp thing. Of course we had no internet back in 1978 or 1979 so we couldn't friend each other on the social web after camp or cyberstalk the cute boys or whatever. But we can do something like that now, if we remember enough to google.

I remember crushing on the sax player who riffed for hours over my piano rhythm from Herbie Hancock's Chameleon. He was from Teaneck. A few years older than me. He seemed like a fantastic player to me, what the fuck did I know, I was 12. Maybe he really was great, though. Remind me to bust out the Head Hunters album and see if it still sounds frickin awesome to me, too. Anyway, saxman's name was Ibrahim Tyner. We called him Abe. A quick google reveals that he died in 1999. Not much else. If he was a great sax player there's no evidence of that on the worldwideweb. Except this post. I wonder if he had kids? Became an insurance man? Got murdered? What happened to my sweet fellow camper from Teaneck who died at 36?

I also remember Injun Joe from camp. He was a counselor and fiddle player from India. Dot not feather. He was also a little bit creepy, liked to put his arm around you as you walked to rehearsal and feel you up a little. Yeah, if you were ever a 12 yr old girl you probably know exactly what I'm talking about, it's everyfrickinwhere. It wasn't all that serious, didn't put me in therapy or anything. My bunkmates eventually warned me about him and encouraged me to grab a buddy to go to rehearsal with. Buddy system, always good advice.

----Time Out----Just had to grab my guitar and pick along to Dreamers Ball. The Queen album Jazz is definitely a soundtrack to this time period for me, I was obsessed with Queen in the late 1970's, while apparently the guy who would be my college boyfriend was similarly obsessed with the Clash. But that's a whole 'nother Oprah. ----Time In----

So what were the two tapes? Of course I freakin remember, how could I forget? Blondie Parallel Lines (One Way or Another I'm gonna smash the fuck out of this tape. . . ) and the soundtrack from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, you dirty old indian man. . . .). Yes, I know Blondie was new wave, not punk, but that 3 weeks pretty much pushed me far away from that whole corner of the musical world until 1984 when reintroduced by, you guessed it, a cute boy.

Well, I suppose if we get enough donations to send a kid to camp he or she might look back 35 years later wistfully, google or send a drone out to spy on the camp crush or whatever the kids are doing in 2049, maybe write a blog post about it. However it goes, hopefully the camper will have a fat stack of fineass memories of the experience to enjoy on Thanksgiving, like me.

permalink posted by cat 8:28 AM

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A kid goes to camp
Sunday, September 28, 2014
spectacular early fall
Listening to:birdsong
Reading:Year Zero: A Novel
Weather:48, sunny

Sunny, warm days, cool nights, sugar maples just starting to turn. We are still canning beans every weekend, every weekend Larry says "I think the beans are about done." Pickled beets and peppers well underway. I canned some peach (from Romney) and apple (from my yard) pie fillings after discovering Clear Jel is the ticket for homogenized texture that doesn't break down. Google it, it's a modified cornstarch made from waxy maize. Next up, apple sauce. After these last 4 pintnahalf's of beans.

I didn't make it to my 30th highschool reunion. I'm still trying to figure out if I have some kind of unique highschool Alzheimers or something, cuz Facebook has become the conduit for me realizing I only know like 30 of the 700+ people in my graduating class. Yet they all seem to know each other and remember amazing detail of that 4 yrs of life. I can't tell ya shit. What's up with that?

This blue sky with puffy white clouds is a bit stunning this morning. The daylight is decreasing at the most rapid rate, so 8:17 still looks early these days, sun still streaming in at a steep angle, coming up more and more to the south. I can't see how any person who has ever come to or through WV this time of year would ever find a reason to leave. Every curve in the road offers a new beautiful vista. Wild and cultivated food is all around you. Water, air, earth, all offering the perfect environment for humans here. If you can forget for a moment the looming dangers of frack destruction and whatnot, you can realize you're actually in paradise. Why shouldn't you deserve paradise?

Back to the beans.

permalink posted by cat 8:22 AM

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spectacular early fall
Saturday, July 12, 2014
hoe handles, copperheads, and guinea hens
Listening to:Penn's Sunday School
Reading:The STARLING Connection by Theodore Webb
Weather:82, sunny
I got invited to participate in a panel at a supergroovy conference about LGBT and rural yesterday. It was sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the USDA, among others. The conference was in Lost River, WV. Wha? Where's Lost River? Exactly. That's the point.

If I say the conference venue was fabulous am I inappropriately stereotyping? Well I don't give a shit because the Lost River Guest House was legitimately fabulous. Gorgeous landscaping and design, beautiful setting, delicious lunch out on the deck, groovy bar, kind and helpful and welcoming staff. Two thumbs up for the place.

The conference was also pretty dang awesome, as we say in Appalachia. Well, I say it, anyway. Great collection of thoughtful and effective people sharing ideas about how to keep rural people in mind while we work toward fairness for lgbt folks. I felt extremely fortunate to get to be there, what a sweet life I live when I get to hobnob with cool people in beautiful places and on the clock.

Though my drive out that morning was in heavy fog, I got to enjoy the wide open mountain vistas on the way home in the sun, and also passed that way last weekend on the way home from my dad's. On that trip we saw a bald eagle! And it was on the 4th of July, for real. What kinda charmed life am I livin? Jesus loves you, but he apparently loves me more, yo.

On the way to the conf my stomach was grumbling and I realized I was on a time trajectory to miss anything breakfasty at the conf, so I stopped at Cool Springs. Cool Springs is of course just about the only place you're gonna find something to eat along the way. If you've never been (it's on 50 near Rowlesburg) you're missing a sweetass slice of Americana, and a chance to sit at the counter and watch a friendly but efficient waitress fry up your egg sandwich on the flattop while filling diner's coffee cups with deft timing. And there's a crazy huge assortment of farm implements, cheap plastic toys, fruitfly-ridden fresh garden tomatoes, redneck ballcaps, and a metric shitton of other sundry stuff, all jumbled together in a delightful roadside distraction.

It was about 7:30 or 8a. I sat at the counter on one of the orange swivel stools two seats down from 2 older gentlemen. There were a few mend in coveralls or similar work clothes, grabbing some breakfast before heading out to the logging forests or gasfields in their Ford F150's. The older guy at the end of my row leaned a long fat wooden dowel against the counter. "Broke my hoe handle." Guy next to him looks over at me, looks back to his breakfast partner and said "I never break'em, cuz I never use'em." I laugh, "yep, that'll keep them in great shape." Then guy #1 says, "actually I was just killing a snake with it." Then guy #2 and I begin a conversation about how he's lived here all his life, they always had copperheads, and since he got Guinea hens 3 yrs ago hasn't seen a single copperhead. Not sure why, never sees the hens eating or going after one. Maybe they find and eat the eggs. Payback's about a bitch, I think, since snakes eat chicken eggs.

Breakfast ready, my coffee poured into styro instead of mug, I paid my $5 and went on my way.

Lovely drive, mostly had the road to myself. New highway 48, a soaring divided 4 lane through the mountains, across a little triangle of MD and back into WV, Grant and Hardy counties. Followed my directions (I still print a Google map to take, old school), got there no problem, right on time. My panel was in the afternoon. The whole day was great, very interesting people and ideas. Lucky me.

And it was friday, so lovely way to end the workweek.

This morning I confirm that Malala is giving her kittens hunting lessons. Malala's 6 kittens (all named Peaches, I'm not tellin why) have tortured screaming baby bunnies, rodents, and bugs on my porch numerous times while I was home to witness, and likely plenty of times while I was away. They cornered a baby bunny with half its fur torn off inside a tipped gallon jar one time. Ugh. I wondered which were the hunters. This morning I open the porch door about 6a, 6 tiny cats race inside the house. Dammit. I just wanted to fill the bowl with food, but they blasted past me before I could stop it. So I leave the door open, pour the Meow mix, and walk back into the kitchen. Minutes later I hear a series of distress squeaks, a now familiar noise, and I look to see that Lala is eating the food and has dropped a tiny half-alive mouse in the bowl.

Confirmation. Teach your children well, kittymama.

permalink posted by cat 12:41 PM

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hoe handles, copperheads, and guinea hens
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Listening to:downtown traffic
Reading:The Price of Justice, Leamer
Weather:50+, cloudy
Just stopped in to see what condition my condition was in. A 93 yr old client told me a red-bellied woodpecker she's been feeding suet to in the winter landed on her shoulder. She is a total badass.

permalink posted by cat 2:38 PM

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Thursday, December 19, 2013
missing Joey Gatski
Listening to:Most Likely You'll Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine, Dylan and the Band
Reading:Gandhi by Chuck DiSalvo
Weather:53, sunny
I heard others say he told them "call me Joseph." He never told me that. He put up with me calling him Joey all the years I knew him.

The sun came out today, so welcome and warm, here in the darkest part of the year and after days and days of overcast skies and a very cold late fall. A pair of sweet wonderful infidels brought me lunch today at work, we talked local politics and local infidel scene stuff.

Since I lunched indoors on this beautiful day I decided to take an afternoon break to walk up the street, stretch my legs, breathe outdoor air. I had on short sleeves and no jacket. As I strode up High Street on the sunny side I hear "hey Cat!" behind me. I turn around to see my friend B coming out of Gibbie's. He's a character worthy of his own lengthy blogpost. But suffice it to say for today, I was glad to see him and say hi. He said come see my son. Our kids are about the same age and ate tofu hot dogs together when they were toddlers. I see a tall young adult there at the bar, greet him though we don't really know each other.

OK, just one beer. A Nate's Nut Brown, perfect afternoon break one-off brew. We smalltalk it a bit. Why are there so many vodkas on this shelf in front of us? Sheesh, 10 flavors just of one brand, and several brands beyond that. B says he was under the bridge the other day with a pint of vodka, couldn't get anybody to share it with him. Dang, you didn't call me. Too bad Joey Gatski wasn't still here, he'd have helped a brutha out there.

B says Joey and I used to drink under those stairs over there. Yeah, Joey and I used to drink in the woods along the bank above Deckers. And a few other out of the way spots where you're right in the middle of town but somehow no one sees you or knows you're there.

B related how one time he and Joey were in the national forest, had been hiking a couple of days. Joey would wedge a dime in the rocks and they'd wait and watch an eagle swoop down past it, catching the glint in the sun. B, after Joey's stern warning about this hillside being slippery, slipped down a bank and got snagged in a V in the brush. B says "I felt it go and I said, 'see ya later, Joey!'" Joey was surprisingly strong, reached down and pulled me up outta there. We kept on going.

B says one time when I was a teenager, not even old enough to drink, Joey's dad Gunner saved me from a barfight. I wasn't willing to put up with this banker's son's bullshit, and I aimed to flatten him, but Gunner grabbed me by the back of the neck and sat me down. I got a friend out of a DUI by trading Gunner's signed football card for representation for my buddy. The press loved Gunner. He didn't even have a phone, his cousin had to go down to his trailer from up the hill to tell him they got the phone call that he was in the Hall of Fame.

OK, time for me to get back to work. Nice break.

permalink posted by cat 5:38 PM

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missing Joey Gatski
Friday, August 30, 2013
I L'd OL, I amuse myself so easily
Listening to:washing machine rumble
Weather:a glorious sunny 70
Not in a dirty way, you perv. I was just flipping back randomly, well almost randomly, through my old blog posts, mostly looking at entries from this time of year in previous years. This even though as Kerouac rightly says, comparisons are odious. But I saw this one and thought it was rather hilarious.

I have absolutely no independent recollection of the kid giving me the finger in the elevator. The snake I remember. Never did find that snake.

My nest is empty now, both of snakes and of the kid who freaked over that one. But I had the great fortune of hanging out with her last night. She and I picked her dad up and went to the Barbour County Fair, as is our annual tradition. Sometimes we have other kids with us, sometimes grandkids, sometimes just Larry and I go. But we rarely miss it.

It's a big one. So many cars they have a satellite parking lot they shuttle you back and forth from when the huge main parking area gets full on Friday and Saturday nights. This year we went on Thursday, rather than our usual weekend visit. Mellower, but still big, crowd, and way shorter lines at the food booths, a good thing. Believe it or not, we skipped the funnel cake, bellies full of lemonade and french fries and soupbeans and cornbread.

We always check out the 4H exhibits and the canning and fresh fruit and veg displays on our walk from the picnic tables to the midway. This year was the first one that Larry entered some stuff. He entered 8 jars of stuff we canned and 5 fresh veg, all 13 from his fabulous garden. He got tons of ribbons! A blue one for the pickled beets!!! Several red and white ribbons, too, nearly all his stuff got ribbons. It was awesome.

How did I become such a country girl? Raised in the burbs, just outside the beltway, all TV and sidewalks. Now I just want to push away from the crowded neighborhoods, toward the trees and pastures, hunt wild food, spend summer Saturdays over steaming canning jars, and talk about the weather because it actually matters around here. And watch Breaking Bad's final season.

permalink posted by cat 9:12 AM

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I L'd OL, I amuse myself so easily
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
remembering the library
Listening to:morning edition
Weather:never stops raining
An old friend who is a college librarian posted a link to a place to nominate somebody for an I Love My Librarian award. It reminded me of the library. When was the last time you went to one? Don't get me wrong, I look shit up all the time, but rarely go to the library to do it. I actually did hit up Wise Library at WVU a few weeks ago when there was an old journal article I wanted to try to read. I consulted the catalog online from the comfort of my chair at home, prolly while stark-ass naked, but couldn't exactly tell from the listing whether the article in question was available there or not. I work a few blocks from the library where the periodicals live, so I thought I stop by and check.

So I stroll over. First off, as I already knew there has been radical renovation of the old place. When I was an undergrad this library had a huge front room, maybe 3 stories high, big walnut card catalog cabinets and built-in shelves around the perimeter and huge tables. It had that smell ya love, that rotting paper vanilla smell, you young kids won't probably ever get to enjoy. The room sound had a nice rolling delay, but was mostly quiet, except for occasional clicking feet and shutting of long heavy card catalog shelves.

When I first encountered this place as a shiny teenage freshman it totally fulfilled that part of my dream of what college would be like. Serious study would go down here. I would fill my head with the knowledge of the ages next to hot brainy guys who would be impressed with the stacks of books I poured over at my table. Yeah, that never happened. Neither did the wine-fueled philosophy discussions with students and favorite professors into the wee hours of the morning. Instead there were 19 cent Goebbels at Speedy's and puking friends and drunkwalking from Sunnyside to Towers into the wee hours of the morning. But I did drag my hungover ass to class almost every single day to try to learn something.

And I would actually spend plenty of time at the music libraries for the next 4 years. There were two: the listening library downstairs and the music book library upstairs at the CAC. I did my 10 hours of workstudy every week in those libraries under the supervision of John, aka Conan the Librarian. The listening library was filled with turntables and vinyl records and headphones. The book library had, ya know, books, sheetmusic bound into books, periodicals bound into books, all those spines looking pretty homogeneous since they sent everything to the same bindery. Dark blue, brown, black, plain white stamped letters.

We used paper cards when I first got there. Paper pocket inside the cover with a lined white card where you sign your name for us to keep, paper sheet glued in where we stamped your due date. Cards got filed, overdue notices got sent, kids gave no shit. Professors could keep books out eternally, no due date, and believe you me, they did. Some books never saw that library again, I'm sure, after Professor X snatched them right after acquisition and never gave them back.

The library was a mellow place to work. I worked early mornings a lot, which got me to the building so I could hop downstairs to class after a couple hours of doing homework at the circulation desk. Though there were plenty of books to shelve in the mornings. Ya wheel the cart around through the narrow stacks, carefully do decimal math to reshelve in the proper place, though usually the gap on the shelf gave you the shortcut view. A misshelved book is a lost book, buddy, don't slack. Getting there early had its perks, though, nobody else was there. I could chill or sing to myself or whatever while I did my thang.

By the time I was a senior I could tell where every freakin thing in those libraries was, just about. I knew which shelf held the Whitesnake album (donated in a collection by the family of a dead person, no doubt), where the Weiss guitar anthologies were. I could help the Freshies find their crap.

So while I wasn't ever a real librarian, I think of myself as a once baby librarian. I wonder if there are still baby librarians out there. The music library has been consumed by the larger Evansdale library, it's no longer in the CAC. Do the kids even need to go there anymore?

That old journal article I sought at Wise was not available to me. WVU doesn't pay the cash for access to the Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion. Have to get that access online, I guess. That's what the librarian told me.

permalink posted by cat 7:52 AM

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remembering the library