positive value to pine needles
Sunday, October 13 2013
The seasons and the cycles compel me to do certain things on certain regular intervals, though many of these things can be procrastinated indefinitely. The winter solstice passes and I start tomato seedlings indoors. Spring comes and I plant the garden. The grass grows long and I cut it. Summer comes and it becomes prudent to put firewood in the woodshed. Tomato vines grow tall and need to be tied to stakes to keep them from falling over and breaking. The urinal container fills with urine. The shit bucket fills with shit. Tomatoes ripen on the vine. The pines shed their needles and I need to collect them from Dug Hill Road before the highway department vacuums them up and carries them to the landfill to be entombed with styrofoam and plastic bags. Winter comes and the woodshed starts to be depleted, sending me into the forest to find wood that is already mostly dry.
Today, after spending some time in the greenhouse upstairs, Gretchen complained about the smells coming from the nearby shit bucket I'd removed from the brownhouse several weeks ago. Though it's full of mostly-uncomposted fecal matter, it hadn't had much fragrance until I left the bucket open in the rain, it flooded, and I drained that "water" from the spigot at the bottom. It was that coffee-colored liquid that stank up the area around the greenhouse. Today I decided to fix that problem, as well as a number of others, in the usual way: by burying the offending substances in the garden. While we humans don't much like the smell of rot and shit, plants love to sink their roots into materials that smell that way. I've found that burying really nasty biological waste in the garden results in healthier, more rapidly-growing plants than can be produced by fertilizing them with inoffensive (that is, fully-composted) manure or compost. So today I dug a couple of holes in the plot of garden between the two tomato patches and buried a cocktail of urine and pine needles in one and that foul coffee-colored substance (also with pine needles) in the other.
Because I'd neglected to harvest pine needles last autumn in the brief period when they lay in windrows on either side of Dug Hill Road, my stockpile of them had been severely depleted. So today I gathered three wheelbarrow loads of them, mostly from the stretch of Dug Hill Road between our driveway and the one belonging to our downhill neighbors. I also gathered some from the shoulder directly across the street from our house, and as I did so, our uphill neighbors drove by in their Audi. The slowed and rolled down the window and asked if I was their neighbor. I chuckled and said yes, because of course I'm their neighbor, and I thought maybe they didn't recognize me because I'd recently shaved my head. But when they started making awkward introductions (which were overlain, I could detect, with a certain amount of irriation about the introduction being so long in coming), I realized they thought that I was the new guy who had moved into the house across the street, the one formerly occupied by people I referred to as "the Fussies." These new people own a restaurant in Woodstock and have a lifestyle that is very similar to the Fussies but rather different from all of their neighbors. Like the Fussies, they hire a truckload of Mexicans to do their lawn care on a weekly basis. They have a garbage truck come to the end of their driveway every so often instead of hauling their own trash to the transfer station. And, according to a sign posted on the street, they've had a home security system installed in their house. The one thing the Fussies did that the new Fussies (Fussies II, if you will) don't appear to do is have bottled water delivered to their house. I've gone off on a tangent; back to my conversation with the Uphill neighbors. I quickly interrupted the introduction and said that I was their neighbor Gus and that I looked different because I had shaved my head. I also said that I was gathering pine needles because "I use them for stuff." The Uphill neighbors are good people, but they're pretty conventional and it would have taken too long to explain my way out of the weirdness of my assigning a positive value to pine needles. But they're used to me being a weirdo and said, "Well, if you need pine needles, you can come up to our house and take them!" "I never need to go quite that far for the amount I need," I clarified.
This evening, Gretchen and I went to BSP in Uptown to attend another occasion of BRAWL, the local women's arm wrestling spectacle. This particular BRAWL was being held as part of the O+ Festival and funds raised would go to O+ to help fund medical care for artists.
At BSP, we met up with Chris (the male half of the photogenic Buddhist vegan couple), who had evidently been going a bit stir crazy back at his house (which includes ten cats in addition to his lovely photogenic Buddhist vegan wife).
The BRAWL event was held in the huge post-apocalyptic "back stage" area of BSP (from which it gets its name). I don't know if I'd even noticed this in the past, but only half of that room is actually used; if you look up at the ceiling you can see that it extends seemingly as far back beyond the stage as it does in front of it. I'm not actually sure how that room can fit within the street grid of Kingston's Uptown without there being a tear in the space-time continuum.
As always, BRAWL was an often-hilarious bit of stage craft involving clever personas, entourages with gloriously-handcrafted costumes, and lots of adlib humor from both the referee (Michæl Truckp!le under some assumed name) and the Emcee (our friend Tricia). The best costume was probably that of an "arm destroying" alien robot named "MARTHA." (Though it did involve a considerable amount of aluminum foil.) Still, and I've said this before, it's hard at this point for me to find BRAWL all that entertaining. It's the kind of thing that blows your mind the first time you experience it, but then, over the course of numerous events, the whole thing gradually loses its novelty. Perhaps the problem was that I wasn't drunk enough. But I was trying to think ahead for a change and avoid waking up with hangover, That meant I couldn't drink more than one Lagunitas IPA. (Later I ordered a screwdriver, though it was of dubious utility given that I couldn't taste the alcohol.)
BRAWL wasn't the only spectacle in the post-apocalyptic back room; there was also a collection of clever musical sculptures made out of big iron containers, amplifiers, and pieces of drum kits, some of which were strung with bass strings and what not. Some where designed to be plucked or hammered, though others (including a motorized crash cymbal and a "bass" with a huge feedback speaker directly beneath its strings) seemed as if they could play themselves if given a chance.
After the show, Chris, Gretchen, and I went to the Stockade for another drink. The conversation wasn't very interesting to me and it seemed nobody wanted to talk about what I wanted to talk about, so I didn't say much. That's one way to avoid an awkward gaffe about, say, eating pasta while your bear-mauled dog cowers behind your computer.
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