Thursday, June 28, 2007


Sal moved in when the first Peony bud opened up. When home begins to wilt Sal just moves to the next blossom. Sal's days consist of sitting completely still with arms outstretched waiting for some hapless and unlucky bee to fly within reach. Sal is obviously not big on the camouflage idea. I never saw Sal with a bug in hand. I wonder if Sal could use some pointers. Like being yellow and living in a red forest may not be the best hunting tactic.

When bothered by my clumsy attempts to get a closer look, Sal does not back down. An aggressive little squatter, Sal pumps itself up and throws those little spider arms as if to say, "Dude, one step closer, it's beat down city!"

I named Sal Sal because I am not totally sure which side of the gender fence Sal hails from. Being a spider, there is a good chance Sal is a lady. Drawing on my weak memory of biology class, Discovery Channel bug expose's, and the occaisional National Geographic insect extravaganza, I seem to remember that guy spiders generally have a have a tough row to hoe in the arachnid world. They are puny providers of genetic material and then become a handy taste treat for the Missus. Sort of like my brother's 3rd wife. So Sal is most likely a her. But I hedged my bets by using a name that could bat either way.

Sal will be moving to greener pastures soon. The last Peony blossom just opened up. I wish Sal all the luck in the World. And all my condolences to her late mate. He may have been the only meal Sal could catch.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hell is a Triangle

A miserable spot. That small triangle of dirt left after laying the stone wall that encased the dooryard up to the garage. Only about 40 square feet. A useless space seemingly perfect for some nice flowers, a small shrub or two. Instead it has become the source for years of gardening frustration.

I finished the wall over 9 years ago. And 9 years ago I made a first attempt to bring order and control to this baking spot. My first plantings fried in the Sun, withered and stank of cat piss as every cat in a 10 square mile area made this space their own outdoor litter tray. I swear I spotted Bob, our yellow Tom, scalping piss tickets to all his buds down at the end of the drive. I gave up and the weeds took over. It sat ugly and ragged until the next spring.

Okay, full of green thumb piss and vinegar, I attacked the triangle of Hell that next Spring with store bought plants, hand screened loam and such a deep weeding I was scrapping ledge before I put back the good dirt. Threw in a few rocks for effect and drew up a planting plan so every plant flowed into the next.

Looked great for about a week. Once again the cats and ole Sol had their way and my $100 dollars worth of plants and 30 hours of work shriveled up and died. I gave up. The weeds took over. It sat scalded and wild for the next 5 years. I'd perform a token weeding every year but let the cats have it to do with what they would. And cats being cats, they abused it as only cats can.

Everytime I drove past it. Everytime I rode by it. Everytime I walked by, I would look at this sad little patch and my ego took a hit. Plants and I usually get along. We most often seem to be on the same page. When they need pruning, I seem able to prune without pain. When I jam a cutting into the ground, 9 times out of 10 it will take root. Up until this stubborn spot, I was kinda proud of my green thumb.

I had finally been humbled. Handed my first real landscaping defeat. And my pride had taken a shot. Every morning when I got in my pick up to go to work, the insult was driven home as I had to walk past this hostile jungle of beetles and tall weeds hiding snickering cats.

A man can only take the same insult day in and day out for so long. A man has to stand up to his enemies eventually or he ceases to be a man. 10 days or so ago I reached that point. 10 days ago I was soaking in the pleasant yard I had brought back from the anarchy of the encroaching forest. Full of pride in myself, I walked my kingdom and was pleased. And then I walked past the Triangle of Hell. It's unkempt and rough appearance brought the whole yard down. And I became angry. Deep anger. I had had it with this constant reminder of my failings.

This was the year I would tear it apart and force my will down it's throat. This time though, I had to attack it on all fronts. Weeds, Sun, and the damn cats. A three pronged all out effort to finally put this embarassment behind me.

To beat the weeds, I once again scraped it down to ledge. Dumped in sand and to beat the cats, I filled it with rocks. Big rocks. Small rocks. Odd rocks, Round rocks and jagged rocks. Not a single spot existed that could be scraped up to cover even a drop of piss. Leaving 4 small openings for Sun tolerant flora, I headed up to the local nursery and dropped another 10 sawbucks on some junipers, cypress and cottoneaster.

I just tonight got them nestled into their new homes. The space looks great. My best and most intense effort yet. The cats seem puzzled and curious. But so far they seem to just pass through. The weeds have not fought back yet. And the new plants are, well, still new. For the next week anyway, I have a respite from the eyesore I have tolerated for 9 years. What happens in 2 weeks is anyone's guess. Odds are not in my favor.

Whether this effort proves successful or not is not the issue. It is the battle that matters. The struggle to overcome stubborn enemies. Victory is never complete. Battles are won and lost. The war never ends. To stand tall knowing I have been fighting the good fight is all I can hope for. To know the cats and their devious ways have been thwarted here in this space is a small taste of victory and I savor it's possibility. The little bastards might rule the inside of my home, but out here I am King.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Happy As If We Had Brains

Frustrated efforts suffering diminishing support, our best and brightest still head cheerfully into the jaws of death. Their lives become fodder feeding a political machine in pursuit of dominating perceived enemies. To that end they feed us fear and we chew on it. Swallowing their gruel, we fall for the same lines of shit every time.

Yes there is evil out there. And yes, it searches incessantly for someone to hurt. But most evil is only as bad as we allow into our souls. Practice prudent watchfulness but don't assume all are out to get us. Utilize logical pessimism when The Man opens his mouth. He often wants something from us in coin or blood. Sucking the life from our population one mistake at a time. A lifetime of witnessing one screw up after another has me reading official dictates and news with jaundiced eye and suspicious mind.

Or not. I could fool myself into a false safe place. Let the powers that be do the thinking for me. I might just be happier letting them lead me clueless down the garden path. Sure beats finding my own path. Yeah, I could trust that our leaders are after my interests but only after they have informed me what those interests are. It's easy. Just turn off my brain.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Just Ain't That Smart

"We will now create something new for the car business", the radio ad declared. "We're going to bring integrity and honesty to your next car purchase."

It took me a few moments of comtemplating just what hook this dealership was using and what they seemed to be insinuating. Nevermind my confusion, the commercial troubled me. So many ethical warning buzzers were tripping off in my brain, I did not know where to begin the assimilation process so I could then rush down for that "honest" deal.

I guess I was not expected to actually listen but react to the buzz words, "Honesty" and "Integrity". That somehow speaking of scruples made them so.

Hmm. The golden rules I was raised on and insisted on as a child vaporized when I reached adulthood. I remember being truly disappointed, shocked, or pissed off every time one bit the dust. I learned that for much of humanity, civilized and square dealing were empty ideas with nothing behind them. We have come to expect sleaze and pocket picking as the norm.

So when this car dealer indicated they were now going to offer honest dealing, just what did that mean? That in the past, they were less than honest? Was it a dig meant to diss their competitor further down Auto Mile? Or just recognition that honesty and integrity in general were rare commodities?

This commercial aired several days ago. It obviously affected me. I am still chewing on it and breaking it down. For some reason I think it has importance deeper than a 30 second spot to forget as soon as it passed my ears. For I am an auto dealer of sorts. I sell to the public. I service the public. And I never considered I did anything that was not honest or ethical. But now I wondered.

Just what were my responsibilities to the consuming public? What should they expect of me when they come in my bike shop? And is what they expect something I have to or worry about delivering?

Having been through several desperate periods in the last 9 years, I have been tempted to take advantage when the opportunities presented themselves. Credit cards left behind. A dropped wallet. Accidental overbilling caught but almost not corrected. Each time the ethics lessons of my parents would take over and calls were made. Cards returned, wallets found their owners and bills were cut to reflect the real job.

These temptations were personal not really business related. No, that's not true. How I conduct business is a reflection of how I conduct myself personally. The two are inextricable for me. I cannot be one thing at the shop and another when I am not. I just ain't that smart.