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For some reason, I cannot get the umlaut into my title.  So I apologize for starting this post off with a technical error.

I am not really a food blogger, so I am not going to regale you with the amazing food that we found to eat, all within easy walking distance of our Airbnb apartment.  Let me just say that Barcelona is much like Seville:  every where you turn there is a little hole in the wall that will sate you with wonderful food and great wine and beer.   Finding a place to eat is not a problem.   Deciding which one of dozens of options you are going to patronize IS the problem.

That being said, we had a wonderful dinner after our adventures at the Maritime Museum, and the next day was the day chosen to visit Park Güell.  We had purchased our tickets to this attraction on line, weeks before our trip.

A little history is in order.  Güell was a wealthy industrialist who admired Gaudí’s vision.  Together they decided to establish a planned community in the hills outside Barcelona.  Gaudí designed the whole place, including innovative ideas like separating vehicular traffic from pedestrians.   He envisioned a central market place, where the inhabitants could shop without having to go downtown.   This market place, called the Colonnade, was completely covered so the vendors could be in the shade.  On top of it was a large flat square for public gatherings, games, fairs and the like, that was completely surrounded by a structure known as the Undulating Bench.   There were public gardens planned.

Unfortunately, the idea did not take off.   Güell had a house constructed in the community, and so did Gaudi.  But they didn’t sell enough lots and ultimately Güell donated the entire property to the city of Barcelona for a public park.

The above photos are taken of the outer wall that surrounds Park Güell.  Alternating along the whole wall are these mosaics.   It really pretty much tells you in a nutshell what you are going to find inside.  There are fantastic walls and constructs of unworked native stone, and fabulous mosaics made of porcelain and glass.

We decided that since the park was only about a mile from our apartment, we would walk there.  We started out giving ourselves plenty of time just in case we got lost (we did not even though we have NO [gasp] GPS and rely completely on maps printed on paper [second gasp]).

It was a very pleasant walk along streets that were NOT choked with traffic.   The transports of choice seem to be either feet combined with public transit, or scooters.   Most of the streets in the area we were walking through were one lane, and one way.   It was quite wonderful and peaceful.   Along the way I spent quite a while admiring the brick work that was ubiquitous.

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Every structure in this part of town seemed to display gorgeous examples of the mason’s art.  Of course there were plenty of people who felt that they needed street side security for their windows.   But it also seemed that if you felt like you needed security you didn’t necessarily want to uglify your building.

I liked this one, where the barbed wire of the security grill was woven into a spider web.

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I also really liked this ironwork grill.

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So much so that I had to put my camera through its paces to get some art shots of it, while my very patient husband waited.   He was not feeling any urgency at that point.   We were within a couple of blocks of the entrance to the  park and we were about 45 minutes early for our appointed time of entry.   So he admired the view of Barcelona while I clicked away.

We enjoyed the view of the iconic entry to Park Güell as we descended the staircase that led to it.

We were still quite early, and so in no rush to join the queue at the entrance.   Along the way we paused to admire the fantasy of palms that were visible inside the park.

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They were inhabited by parrots who were busy eating the tiny fruits the trees were bearing.  Later on, within the park, we came across a colony of the same parrots who had chicks in nests, anxiously awaiting their parents’ return from foraging.

Finally the time arrived, and we entered the park.   Before you get to the famous sculptural section that we had paid to see, we walked past very plain stone retaining walls.   These were inhabited by an impressive selection of lizards, who were availing themselves of the drain holes the masons had left in the walls.

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These are just a couple of the different species sunning themselves.  As I was standing there taking the portraits of these reptiles, the crowds that were streaming by in their rush to view the work of Gaudí paused to try to see what I might be photographing.   They seemed to be concerned that they might be missing something that wasn’t in their guidebooks, which of course they were!   But to a person, not one of them “got” what I was interested in.  I know, I’m fairly weird.

Presently we proceeded along in the wake of the crowd, and were immediately surrounded by the mosaic work that Park Güell is noted for.

Believe me, there are dozens of shots I took of this artistry.  Everywhere you turned, there was color covering organic forms in concrete.   The blue tiles above are a good image of Gaudí’s artistic vision.   He haunted the porcelain factories of Barcelona, buying up their seconds and broken pieces.  The square tiles above were probably seconds, which he brought to the site and then had broken so they could be laid around the curves of the concrete structures.

I also like the white ceramic tile with its border of raw stone.   The juxtapositions of these materials happened over and over throughout the park.

Once we had sufficiently admired the mosaic walls, we proceeded to the main staircase where the Salamander resides.  This mosaic fountain is probably one of the most famous images of Gaudí’s sculpture.  You can find “Draco” everywhere in Barcelona: on tea towels, trivets, coffee cups, etc. etc.  A few years ago some madman attacked him with a sledge hammer, but he is fully restored now.

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I don’t want you to think that it was EASY to get this shot.  It required quite a lot of patience, because most of the time the fountain and its surroundings look like this:

We continued on our pilgrimage, past more amazing rock work and mosaics.  The Colonnade itself is a wonderful sculptural place, and I can imagine how pleasant it must have been to be able to set up your market stall in this deep shade in the summer, and out of the rain during the winter.

The ceiling of the colonnade is decorated with numerous medallions.  These installations epitomize the way Gaudí scavenged for mosaic material.  I believe he may have been the original recycler.

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This is one of the central medallions in the ceiling of the Colonnade.  Take a close look at it before you move on.   Notice the bottoms of cups and saucers around the central flower.   Notice that the arm of the flower at 12 o’clock appears to have been formed in part by a broken porcelain figurine.  You can see its chest and arm, and you can also see the bottoms of bottles elsewhere in the form.

Oh here.   Just take a look at a series of shots I took of the medallions in the ceiling.  I was fascinated.

Above the Colonnade is the square with the Undulating Bench.   This bench was also decorated with mosaics made from porcelain, bottles, and broken tiles.

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On the back side there were drains and gutters.   I loved the fact that where the water was draining from the square the details in the concrete were water drops.

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the buildings where Güell and Gaudí lived.   But here is a detail of the windows of the home built for Güell.

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One of the other features of the park is the road/walkway system.   This was specifically designed to keep the pedestrians safe.  The walkways were under and shaded by the roads.

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Here is another one of the walkways.  The rock work was designed to mimic the bark of the local trees.

In another area, there were spectacular spirals worked into the pillars.

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By this time, we were overcome by the crowds and were suffering from sensory overload, so we decided to leave the park and have some lunch.    We walked back to our little apartment, enjoying the sights of the residential streets of Barcelona along the way.

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It has been a long slog, but the remodel of the inner circle of the labyrinth is finally complete.

The whole thing started only a week ago even though it feels like it was a month of Sundays.   As you may recall, the weed/grass situation vis-a-vis the special rocks in the inner circle was becoming impossible.   After due consideration, we decided that “something” needed to be done.   Neglecting many other projects, not the least of which is getting the Dragon’s Teeth re-situated and the rain garden weeded, I proceeded to dive headlong into the revamping of the inner circle.

Let no one think that this remodelling project was the only thing accomplished in the interim.   No massages were cancelled, and I kept the laundry done, the dog walked, the cats fed, and the garden watered and tended while all the following was going on.   And in addition, Jim went off to work for his final few days at the Commissary.

So, to recap, I began be removing the rocks from the inner circle.

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As soon as the land was cleared, I began digging a shallow ditch around the circle where all those rocks used to be.

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This process didn’t take nearly as long as I was afraid it would.   I spent a couple of afternoons on this phase.   It was quite ironic that I was already generating dirt that needed a place to live within literally hours of having moved the pile of dirt that was formed from just such projects in the past onto the root cellar.   However, that particular project resulted in some low places that needed fill, and so my labyrinth dirt went towards accomplishing that.

After the ditch was dug and leveled, I put a nice layer of road base into it.  Last Saturday morning, the day after his “last day of work”, Jim went off to Lowe’s and acquired rebar and quickcrete.   The rebar was cut to appropriate sized pieces, wired together, and placed in the ditch.

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It is propped up on nice little flat rocks so that the concrete will flow in and around under the rebar, thus making the resulting pour strong and stable.

Note the little cement mixer.   There is an amusing little story about that:   Lo these many years ago on a fine spring morning, my dear spouse looked at me and said, “I’m going to run some errands.”

This was no big surprise, errands are run on a regular basis around The Havens, but on this occasion he was gone a very long time.   Eventually, he returned home in a state of elevated mood and informed me he needed to take the truck off to pick up something he had purchased.  It seems that as he was driving past the Civic Center he saw a sign for a “Tool Sale” and decided to look in on this seductive event.

What had caught his roving eye was a small cement mixer, for which he promptly forked over a little more than $100.   I need not tell you that I had no concept of why it might be a good idea to have a cement mixer.   In all my childhood experience, whenever cement needed to be mixed, it was done with a shovel in a wheelbarrow, and whatever was good enough for my Daddy was good enough for me.

“No really,”  my spouse informed me with great pleasure and excitement.   “It’ll come in handy, you’ll see!”

It wasn’t that much money, didn’t make it impossible to pay our bills that month and he was so happy about it.   I didn’t give him a hard time.

I have to say that that cement mixer has never seen a year since when it was not used for some project or other.   He sure as heck was right about it coming in handy, and last Saturday was no exception!

We started off the project with 15 bags of quick-crete.   This is basically concrete mix in an 80 pound bag.  We knew we would need more than that, but that was as much weight as Jim cared to put on our little pickup, and we figured after we got that poured we would have a pretty good idea of how much more mix we would need.  Laboriously, Jim moved each bag to the wheelbarrow and moved it to the mixer, then lifted it up and poured it in.   Adding water, the little mixer turned and turned and the concrete mixed up nicely.

Then Jim tilted the mixture and poured it into the trench, while I pushed it around with the hoe so it didn’t over flow.   While he went through that process again, I spent quality time with the trowel smoothing out the pour and agitating it to bring the fines to the top so we would have a nice surface.

Eventually, we got to the part of the circle where the bench and the pile of rocks was.   At that point, it was not possible to tilt the concrete directly into the trench.  We brought our mortar board out and poured it onto that.   From there, it was my job to shovel it into the trench and smooth it while Jim was mixing the next batch.   We came to the end of the 15 bags, and decided it was time to take a break.

We estimated that we had made it about 2/3 of the way around, and so we thought we would need 8 more bags.   Just for insurance, Jim decided to buy 9, figuring that if there was left over we would be putting it into the garden retaining walls in the next few days.  Jim took his break on the drive over to Lowe’s.   I forget what I did while he was gone, but it didn’t involve a lot of sitting around.

He got back with the second load, and we proceeded to pour some more.   It only took another couple of bags to get to the point where we could pour directly into the trench, much to my poor arm’s relief.   (For the record, my forearms are still sore from that little section of shoveling wet concrete.)

Ironically, our estimate was off.  It turned out we needed ONE more bag to complete the pour, and so off Jim went to procure that bag.   As he made the trip, I placed the direction rocks into the wet concrete and generally admired the job.   It seemed obvious in retrospect that we would need 25 bags to complete the job, because clearly it was going to take EXACTLY one ton of concrete to form the inner circle.   In short order, the buyer returned and we finished the job.

After we cleaned up our tools, I documented the finished circle, still wet and curing.

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One of the things I decided about this project was that I was going to document my rocks.   So, the following morning we set up a portrait studio over by the sauna, and I proceeded to transport all the special rocks to that location and shoot them individually, along with a tag that indicated where they were from.  Each photo was also assigned a number.

Here is an example of the result.

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It was during this process that I discovered that my ability to write numbers in order was impaired.   I have one rock whose number is 43.5 because I forgot to list it until I was far down the list.   I also found myself re-numbering rocks when I turned a page and read 117 as 111 and so labeled several rocks with the same identification number.   But I got it straightened out, and it was actually important because when I placed the special rocks back onto the circle I made a map of where they got put.

I am having the pictures printed out, and I will make a notebook with a page for each rock.   The page will list its number along with information on who procured it for me if it was a gift, and any little story that revolves around it.   That way, in the future, other people will be able to understand what is special about each rock without having to extract the information from me personally.   This also guards against any memory losses I might have.

As I was taking rocks off the labyrinth, I was gratified to be able to remember the details on most of them.   Despite that, there were several “Mystery Rocks” that turned up during the process.   I did not toss them out because of that.   My decision was to replace them back in the circle close to the location where they were unearthed.   Maybe in the future the clouds will clear and I will remember where they came from.

Anyway, it took me two days to get them all back into place, what with the mapping project and having to actually do massages for clients in between working on the project.

But this afternoon, I finished the job.   It really looks good.

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Here’s a close up of the North West end of the inner circle.

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Eventually, the concrete will weather a bit and not be so blindingly white.

I have to say that the whole project has made me realize just how incredibly blessed I am with family, friends, and strangers contributing rocks to the inner circle.   Without them, I wouldn’t have Antarctica, the bottom of Sydney Harbor, the Great Sandy Desert, or the floor of the Arctic Ocean.   I feel very honored indeed.

The only thing left to do is to create the notebook and redraw the map.

But first, I have to go walk Ruby.

 

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Going solar

After wanting this for many, many years, we have finally made the step towards putting solar power to work for us here at The Havens.

This is not a commitment for those with no financial resources!   Even though the prices for solar panels have come down radically, and even though we will enjoy a tax rebate on the purchase of them, the initial cost just for the solar panels was right around $6,000.   Just recently the steel angle iron for the frames was purchased, to the tune of about $1300.   Next we have to pay the guy to construct the frames, doing the welding and drilling holes and I honestly don’t know what all else.   Then we have to figure out what kind of inverter we want, and order that.   Also on the way here are the storage batteries, another $2400.

Like all projects, there is an almost infinite regression that goes on in order to have the project done.   With this project, the first thing that had to be done is figure out where we wanted the solar farm to be installed.   Initially we thought we might put in in front of the vineyard.   But the city of Lebanon has a zoning ordinance that states no structures on a property should be closer to the street than the front of the house, although it is possible to get a variance.   Our house is so far from the street that it probably would be possible to get such a variance, but we were not really wanting to get into that sort of legal shenanigans if it wasn’t necessary.

Eventually, we decided that the right place for the solar panels would be out near the barn, just to the east of the root cellar.   Unfortunately there was a big pile of dirt out there which we constructed over the years as we removed dirt from various and sundry path and garden projects.   We called it “dill hill” because for several years we had a huge crop of dill volunteer on it.  So we needed to have the dirt pile moved, and since there was NEVER enough dirt on the root cellar we decided to have it moved there.

I don’t have a “before” before picture, which shows all the piles of wood and stuff that was in the way of accomplishing this feat.  But they had to be moved.  Also, before we put more dirt on the root cellar we had to build up the retaining walls on either side of the door.   We bought the retaining block, and with the help of a college student looking to earn money during the summer, piled them up properly.   He also helped move the wood piles, etc.

Then we had a guy come over here with a Cat skidsteer and move dirt.

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Here you see the beginning of this phase, and dill hill to the right.   The retaining walls in place.  That small pile of wood was not in the way, but I moved it to the wood shed today after the work was all done.

This is how it looks this morning, after the straw mulch was ground, spread and watered in.

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Notice the clump of asiatic lilies on the right side of the root cellar.   There also happens to be a fig over on the right side by the door.   It was purposely buried up to its neck, and hopefully this will not kill it.   Just in case it does, last week I laboriously dug several rooted sections out from its underskirts and heeled them in in the vegetable garden.   I am happy to report that all of the starts have survived and are starting to send up sprouts.   I found it endearing that our equipment operator carefully avoided the clump of lilies during the work, even though we told him that it would be find to crunch them down, that they would come up from their bulbs next year.

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Next to dill hill was a pile of manure that I purchased from a friend who is a dairy farmer several years ago.   I used some of it as mulch after I acquired it, but stopped using it as soon as I realized how infested with pigweed, smartweed, ragweed, lamb’s quarters, and I don’t know how many other undesirables it was.   We had our equipment operator spread that mess of nutritious weed supply thinly over the grass area in the savannah.   Since we mow that lawn, the weeds won’t matter as they will be mowed off before they can get big and make more weeds.   And I’m sure the grass and trees will appreciate the fertilizer.

The manure pile was full of locust, maple, elm and god knows what else kind of tree roots.   Those are now on the burn pile.

Next to the manure pile was a volunteer silver maple which we will cut down in the very near future.   It has to go, as it is in a location that shades the solar panels.   We needed to take it out anyway.   It was sick:  even though it was only about 8 years old, it was already forming a hollow trunk as it rotted out from the center.   We will also be removing volunteer catalpa red cedar trees, both of which are also sources of unwanted shade for the panels.

See what I mean about an infinite regression?

This next shot is documentation of what happens when you let poke grow without disturbing it.   That big branchy leggy mass is the root of a poke plant which lived on dill hill.   For the record, bear in mind that the piece of firewood next to it is 16 inches long.

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Good thing we had a piece of earth moving equipment to get it out of there.  It had roots that were every bit of 10 feet long.   Impressive.

Here is another part of the infinite regression.   This is our barn, picturesque and historical.   Although it looks somewhat the worse for wear on the outside, the inside structure is sound.   It has a certain charm lent to it by the fact that the rafters of the hay loft are oak which was steamed and bent to form the curve of the roof.

However, you can see there are certain problems.   The door on the left leads into a nightmare of left over pots from the garden, hickory that was supposed to become spindles for chairs but is now too dry and hard to use (shortly to join the firewood supply), glass in waiting for greenhouse construction.  It  turns out it is also prime ground hog habitat.   They are busy constructing a ground hog condominium utilizing the cement slab floor of Jim’s shop as a ceiling.   They are about to be evicted, as they neglected to sign a long term lease for use of the barn as a home.

The door to the right leads into Jim’s wood shop.

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This shop is the place where the inverter and the batteries are going to live.   Since batteries don’t really appreciate being frozen, and the inverter (a rather costly piece of electronics)  needs to live in shelter, the shop must be made weather tight and insulated.  Not the least of the necessities is a door that works!

But of course, before any work can be done on the room, all the stuff needs to come out of there.   As you can see, the fact that we have lived here and used the barn for 16 years has resulted in a massive accumulation of items ranging from nails and screws, to bee hive components, to a freezer that has been converted to a lagering cooler and sundry other brewing equipment, to a lathe that weighs enough that it takes two very strong men to move it.   An exhaustive inventory would probably make a fascinating document, but I have no idea what else is in there.   We are about to find out…

Clearing and repairing the barn is part of the infinite regression.

We are stimulating the economy in a big way, and progress towards actually having solar power tied to the grid and filling storage batteries for us to use, thereby eliminating the vast majority of our carbon footprint, is being made.

Stay tuned for future developments….

 

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I read somewhere that good fences make good neighbors.   This may be true, and if it is then The Havens needs a really good fence.

We have been suffering a great stress this week.   It doesn’t look like it is going to resolve itself any time soon, either, unfortunately.   The neighbor who is causing the stress is well known in the community for being less than nice (feel free to substitute any harsher and more profane term here).

So, we have owned this property for 18 years.   Shortly after we purchased it and moved in, so shortly that we hadn’t even completely unpacked yet, our neighbor approached us with an offer to buy one half of our property.   At the time, the half in question was an acre of grass bordered on one side by the street, on two sides by strips of trees and shrubs that were wild (to say the least) and on the fourth side by our house and its accompanying lawns.   When asked, the party admitted that what he wanted our open land for was  so he would have more space to park the mobile and manufactured homes he sold.

Below is a shot taken right after we moved in of the relevant property line.

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We had been in residence long enough to observe the state of the next door business, which was strewn with detritus.   Part of the observation was engendered by my obsessive compulsive trash removal habit.   What I mean to say is, that within a couple of days of moving in, I had done my usual clean up and was appalled by the amount of shit that had blown onto our property from the one next door.   You see, when you transport a manufactured home it is usually broken into halves, and in order to protect the interiors, giant sheets of plastic are attached to cover the open side during transport.   Needless to say, these sheets of plastic must be removed in order to display the home properly, and the workers who did this generally threw them over against the “fence” between our properties, where they deteriorated in the UV from the sun and then availed themselves of the local zephyrs and gales to migrate all over the neighborhood.

In addition, styrofoam cups providing beverages to potential buyers, lunch wrappers from the workers, pieces of styrofoam and insulation from the renovation of repossessed homes, plastic wrappers off bundles of shingles, and all manner of crap was strewn from hither to yon on the property.   Imagining all that 150 feet closer to our home did not attract us, and despite the neighbor’s promises to build a privacy fence we declined his offer.   We have never been forgiven for that.

I have been picking up trash ever since.

To be honest, there is another part of this story.   The tree line between our properties is viewed by both sides in complete opposition.   I like it, despite the unruliness of it.   There is a row of trees, mostly elms, right along the “fence.”

Okay, a digression.   Why do I keep putting quotation marks around the word “fence”?   Well, at one time in its life, the object so referred to may have actually been a fine structure of woven stock wire and with a barbed wire top wire attached to wooden posts.   But that was at least thirty years ago, possibly longer, and while the remnants still exist they can hardly be called a fence, since “fence” usually implies an ability to contain livestock within.   In this case, it only serves as a vague indication of where the property line may be.

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Obviously, the fence is fully involved in the trees, or vice versa.  Anyway, the trees have been a thorn in our neighbor’s side for a long time.   He claims that they are damaging his mobile homes, although I have seen no evidence of this.   Over a decade ago, he approached us and told us that we needed to get rid of the trees “over there” because they taking space in his lot that he needed for parking inventory.   Also he mentioned what an eyesore the wild tangle of trumpet vine was.  At that time, there were numerous trees flourishing far outside the fence line, and I invited him to remove his own trees before he demanded I take mine down, pointing out that that would give him more space on his lot.   I indicated that what was an eyesore to him was a garbage trap, a visual barrier for me, and a sanctuary for the cardinals, hummingbirds, and finches.

He hired a crew and they spent a pleasant week removing the elms that had sprouted on his back line.  They neglected to treat the stumps, however.   He backed his trailers up as close to the fence as he could get them and I thought how nice it was to have what amounted to a big tall privacy fence back there.   Most asssuredly, though, the line of merchandise slowly migrated away from the fence line because due to the compaction of the soil in his lot there is a decided slope up to our property and it makes leveling  the mobile homes difficult.   Immediately, the trees he had cut off sprouted in circles around the trunks and instead of a few stately elms, he had thickets of scraggly elms.

Things have continued in this way for 18 years.   Every time the wind blows, I have to pick up trash that migrates from him to me.   Undoubtedly, he stands on his lot and cusses at our unruly elms and our cussedness.   Every once in a while he has a crew cut back the sprouts, which immediately reincarnate.   Once or twice when I complained bitterly to him over the phone about the trash, he actually had his people clean his lot up.    The trash always returns within a few weeks.

Every few years he demands that we cut our trees down.   We don’t.   The law allows us to have trees as long as they are healthy and not in danger of falling over on the neighbor’s home or property.   It does NOT say we have to trim off branches that overhang the neighbors.   It says we have to allow the neighbor to cut the encroaching branches off the trees if they don’t like them.   We have allowed this.   The law states that an adjacent property owner trimming their neighbor’s trees must do so in a way that does not endanger the health of the tree.  If they do kill a tree, then that neighbor could sue for damages.

Frankly, approached in a more civil way, we very well might have considered removing some or even all of the trees.   There really are quite a few back there.  But we don’t respond well to arrogant bluster, accusations, and threats.   These things tend to make us dig our heels in, especially when the blusterer is maintaining a visual eyesore of piles of siding, plastic, lath strips full of nails, and other crap.

So, things came to a head about two weeks ago.   The weather had warmed up, I was walking about enjoying the breath of warmth that was hinting that spring might be arriving, checking on the crocus situation and picking up the usual selection of trash that had blown onto the property during the weeks since I had last done that chore.   Imagine my fury when I arrived down at the southeast corner and discovered that the mobile home renovators had been painting.  How did I know this?   Because when they finished their job, they had some paint left over.   So they threw the container, the paint, and the used roller over the fence into the shrubbery there.    The idle thought crossed my mind that I should take a picture of the mess in situ, but I did not.   I picked up the paint container and the roller and marched up to the office of the business.

While the proprietor was not there, he did have minions working on a tiling job.  Actually, it was a minion and his girlfriend/wife.   They asked me if they could help me and I explained the situation.   So, then I got into a conversation with the woman, who basically trashed the people working at the “end of the lot” who had been doing the renovations.   Apparently, there is some competition for that and the people up in the office had been underbid by the team that had thrown the paint.   The gal commiserated with me about the trash; we got into a side bar discussion regarding the people across the street from the business who have a pink trash can that they leave at the curb with the top open which is a source of trash on the street.    That can had blown over in a gale a couple of weeks previously, and I had driven by it with the thought of cleaning it up.  When I got back home someone had already done it.   Turns out it was the gal I was talking to.    I congratulated her and thanked her for doing that.   Her man invited me to admire the tiling job he was doing, which I dutifully did and told him it looked good.   Then I said I ought to go off on my merry way, and said I’d like to leave a note for the proprietor regarding the paint situation.

At that point, the gal suggested that she could get him on the phone and I could talk to him directly.     That was my second mistake.  (The first being not taking the picture of the paint dump).   I’ve had conversations with this person before, and I should have known how this one was going to go.    First of all, I explained my concern.   The response was predictable.   No apology.   The response was “Are you still dumping kitty litter over the fence?”

Gentle readers, you know my attitude towards trash, do you not?   If you don’t, you should read this, and this.  For the record, I have never dumped kitty litter over any fence.   Anywhere.   I did pour it into my driveway in Alaska, and since the litter was clay and the driveway was clay it was hard to see it existed.  I have been using scoopable cat litter for as long as I can remember, and it is a heck of a lot more convenient to dispose of it in the garbage can that is by my door than haul it 200 feet out to a property line to dump it over the fence, which I wouldn’t do anyway, no matter how shitty I think the neighbors habits are.

At any rate, his conversational gambit raised my ire level considerably.   After I had simmered down slightly, he asked me what I would think if he built a privacy fence.   I told him I thought that was a fine idea.   So his response was that I should cut down my trees, they were damaging his homes, blah de blah.   I rudely interrupted him and told him that he needed to keep to the subject, which was his garbage on my property.   Then I hung up on him.   I left the paint container and the roller on his desk, and went on home.

So, let’s be fair.   I probably should not have hung up on him, but it most certainly wasn’t a good idea for me to keep talking to him either.   And I admit that in his eyes I have been a stubborn and uncooperative hag about the damned trees for almost twenty years.   I don’t suppose I have been the perfect neighbor either.

His response was to have a crew come out and cut off the sprout crop behind his trailers on his side of the fence.    He took a picture of the mess.   He went off to a lawyer and complained about it all, blaming the mess back there on limbs falling from our trees.  In my humble opinion, you should not base a legal complaint upon a falsehood, but I suppose I am splitting hairs here.   I received a threatening letter from said lawyer telling me that if I didn’t maintain the trees better our neighbor would sue, that the trees were on my side of the fence and therefore my responsibility.    Oh, and I should never set foot on the property, and I should cease harrassing his employees.  Apparently the fact I have a spouse and a co-owner is not on his radar, as Jim’s name was never mentioned in the letter.   It was addressed to me only.

The last time I checked, talking about picking up trash in the neighborhood and admiring a tiling job is not harrassment, but I could be wrong about that.

I have to give him full credit though.   I think his lawyer told him that if he was going to accuse me of maintaining a nuisance, that he’d better have his nose spick and span.   The mobile home lot has been cleaned within an inch of its life and it looks GREAT!    I only hope that it stays that way.  I’m not holding my breath.

So now we have to find a lawyer to help us communicate.   It’s such bullshit.    The irony is, that if this gentleman was placed in a police line up of five similar looking fellows, I could not identify him.   I believe I’ve actually met him face to face once.   Maybe.   He probably couldn’t identify me either.   And that is sad.

It has occurred to me in the past couple of days that being neighbors is sort of like being married.   Only you can’t get a divorce.

I guess I’ll go out and console myself with my iris reticulata and crocuses.

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Last time I talked about the quilt here on the blog, it wasn’t quite done.   Well, it is totally pieced now, and at the quilter.   This stage has been promised to be done in the first half of December, which would still give me time to put the binding on it.   Right now, while I am waiting for the quilting to be finished, I am working on matching pillow cases.

At any rate, this is the portrait of the finished quilt.

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Here is a small detail picture that gives you a better idea of the fabrics.   The star fabric is quite magical, and doesn’t photograph worth beans.  The stars are printed on the fabric in a holographic ink, so they are iridescent when the angle of view changes.   Really cool.

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I mentioned being visited by Twylla Alexander, the woman who walked my labyrinth.    She has posted about that on her own blog, the link to her post is highlighted.   There is a picture of me in the labyrinth and a couple of shots of it in her post.   She was so kind.  She brought me a quite beautiful rock collected near the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, plus a few shells from Auke Bay.

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The yesterday, one of my clients brought me a rock she picked up at the Crazy Horse memorial.   They have a pile of rubble from the blasting near the museum exit for people to help themselves.    This is truly an outstanding piece of granite.   I have included a close up so you can see how beautiful it really is.

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I truly have to be one of the most unique massage therapists in existence.   I absolutely love rocks, and all my clients know this.   This is not the first gift of a rock I have received from a client, nor will it be the last, I suspect.   They all know that I am happy to receive a rock as a Christmas present.   As a matter of fact, the following wonderful fossil is in a head sized rock that one of my dear clients gave me as a Christmas present last year, much to the amazement of her son.

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We are no stranger to granite around here.   On our recent trip to Washington and Alaska,  Jim and it had a road trip day to Whidbey Island (north of Seattle).  There we walked on the beach near Fort Casey and collected several pieces of beach polished rock there.   Lots of different kinds of granite around Puget Sound.

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This is not a new rock, I’ve had it several years.  But I always enjoy this little smiling caricature that lives in with my plants near the front door.

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I have to report that the three animals have consolidated themselves into a family.   Impy and Mallory have been discovered sleeping together on my leather arm chair.

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This is about the third shot, which is why neither of them is actually sleeping.  Incidentally, I believe that this arm chair is the epitome of “distressed” leather.   Its condition distresses me.   The patch behind Impy’s head is a spot where there was a small hole which was exceedingly exciting for a small kitten because it had white stuffing protruding from it.   Not only did she enlarge the hole, but she strewed stuffing all over the living room.   The patch is glued on, and almost matches…   Someday I will achieve new furniture.  Maybe.

Sometimes Mallory decides to “own” Ruby’s toys, much to Ruby’s dismay.    She almost seems to be saying, “Why did we have to get this cat, tell me again?”  in this photo.

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I’d say that fall is pretty much over here in the Ozarks, as we have had several below freezing mornings here.   Most of the leaves are on the ground, and most of the ones here at The Havens have been gathered up and put into the mulching container.   I spent a productive day a few days ago running the compost grinder, grinding up the years accumulation of bark and twigs and garden clippings.   I have a pile of ground plant material that is more than a cubic yard that I need to move into the mulch container along with the leaves.   But that will not happen before my back gets over the grinding operation….

Meanwhile, I had a couple of really nice seasonal shots that I haven’t posted yet.   This was how the maple by the pond looked a couple of weeks ago.

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When I walked down to the Big Piney River, I got a wonderful shot of the bluff with the trees turning.   I didn’t feel it was appropriate to include in the Trash Report, for some reason.

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I guess this is as good a place as any to close this post.

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A little while ago Jim and I made the trek out to the East Coast for two purposes.  One was to return a large cast iron cauldron that we had ordered which arrived cracked.   We took it back to the foundry to have it replaced with one that was not cracked.  The guy who packed it at the foundry just couldn’t imagine how it could have been cracked…   Personally, I suspect that it left the foundry that way and they were hoping that we wouldn’t notice until it was too late for us to make them do anything about it.   But UPS could have dropped it during shipping, which would not be surprising since it was in a box that was labelled “HEAVY” but even a person who was expecting “heavy” might have been surprised by the 87 lbs…

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It isn’t the largest cauldron ever, either.   It is only a 12 gallon sized, and they come all the way up to 60 gallons and more, some large enough to scald a whole pig.   I don’t know how you carry around a 60 gallon cast iron cauldron, actually.

The other reason for the trip was to visit the grandchild, who really represents a huge fork in our road.  He is developing in a most satisfactory way, thanks to the excellent parenting he is receiving.   I surely do wish we lived closer to that beautiful little family, but Skype helps.  One of the things that made the odyssey totally worth it?  Getting to see this:

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Another vision that really “made” the trip was this sign:

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This road has a serious identity crisis.  Not only does it not know what it’s number is, it doesn’t really know what direction it is going either.   Or possibly, it is all things to all people and going every direction at once.

Sometimes, I feel like that road sign could be the icon for my life.   Like most people, I struggle with the questions “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?”   “What is my purpose?”  “What is really important in my life?”   “Where is my place in the world?”

I do know my purpose, what I was put here on Earth to do, and that is to touch people and help them find the path to healing.   My work as a massage therapist has been doing that for well over 20 years now, and it has brought me peace and prosperity.   It has led me to connections with people that are deep and meaningful.  Recently I attended a class in California featuring Neuro-Muscular Reprogramming.   That re-connected me to Jocelyn Olivier and the Alive and Well School of Massage, the place where my training began.  Watch this space, you will hear more about NMR, which is a profound healing technique that I am anxious to master.  I see clearly that it is a fork in my massage road I am going to walk down, far down, and ultimately it will add longevity and depth to my massage career.

So that is one thing I am.   I am also a gardener…

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I like to create things, notably I am working on a quilt right now.  It is a bargello design called “Supernova.”   (This is a pattern I found in a book by Eileen Wright, which I have been thoroughly enjoying.)  I’m 75% done with the piecing.

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I am also a labyrinth tender:

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That “identity” has led me to connections as well.   My labyrinth is listed on the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, which brings strangers into my life from far away and turns them into friends.  Just a couple of days ago I was visited and interviewed by a woman who is visiting and writing about labyrinths in all 50 states.   I may or may not show up in her book.   After all, she may meet a better candidate than I am for her writing about this state.   Anyway, she had lived in Alaska for ten years and brought me a beautiful rock from the Mendenhall Glacier area of Juneau.   We had a thoroughly enjoyable visit.

There are no forks in a labyrinth, there is simply one path.   You begin at the beginning, follow the path through its twists and turns, and eventually you reach the center.

Sort of like life, actually.

 

 

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Last weekend I went down to a local wilderness area with some friends where we hung out, camped a few days, ate great food and in the evenings sat around the campfire and played music together.   They had horses, and one of them was kind enough to let me go out on a trail ride on one of his mounts.

It was really very nice, riding along through the woods on his gentle horse, Festus by name.   I learned very quickly that it was important to watch what was coming ahead, as you are much higher up and low branches can be a real danger.   We moseyed along, and got back to camp after a while.    It seemed to me that the horses really were in no big hurry.   I thought I could probably walk as fast as them, perhaps.

I also thought that my dog would love this hike without horses, and I determined to take her down the road to the Big Piney River the next morning, while all the horses were being packed up to go back to their respective barns and pastures.   We would have the trail to ourselves and no horses and mules would be annoyed by her.

That is exactly what I did.   And I was right, I made the round trip faster than the horses.   Of course, I did get sort of out of breath and build up a sweat on the climb up out of the river bottom, which I did not do when I was on the horse.   But sacrifices must be made.

One of the things I noticed as I was walking was the amount of trash that was strewn about on the mile and a half path to the river.  Unfortunately, I did not have a container with me, so with great reluctance I left it all there.   It bothered me all week.

Today I made the 50 mile trek back to the Paddy Creek wilderness area, armed with trash bags and my camera.   I really wanted to capture some of the fall color that was coming along.   I walked past a tree that had about 15 vultures roosting in it.   They were still waiting for their wings to dry after the cold night.

I did indeed pick up all the trash from the river back to the trailhead.   Here it is, displayed in my back yard before I added it to my recycling.

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Isn’t it lovely?    Here’s a closeup of the items in the left corner.

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I found these in some fire pits.   People, your aluminum beer cans and glass tall boys are not going to burn in a campfire.  Why throw them in there?  It is just so darned ignorant.

So, I made an inventory of what I picked up.  There were quite a lot of wet paper towels, a couple of styrofoam glasses, a chewing tobacco container, and a container that had bait in it originally.    There was a package that had contained sunflower seeds, several pop tart wrappers, a kit kat bar wrapper and the plastic bag some jerky came in.   There was an unopened package of Wet Ones; thanks, I used that to clean my hands before I came on home.

One of the oddest things I found was a stack of four quart oil containers.   A brand I had never heard of:  rotellat.   Who goes out into a wilderness area to change the oil in their vehicle?

There were six various plastic water bottles, a gatorade bottle, 4  juice containers.   Yes, Mr. or Ms. Dr. Pepper drinker, I did wade into the wild currant bush to retrieve the empty you tossed in there, just as I gingerly entered the multiflora rose for the Smirnoff Ice bottle (Strawberry acai flavor, by the way).  There was a plastic coke bottle, a red bull can, 1 Michelob bottle,  1 Miller high life bottle,  1 Miller lite bottle,  and 5 Bud lite tall boys.

The aluminum was a lot more proliferous.    There was one Coors lite, 2 Pabst Blue Ribbons, 2 Natural lite, 3 Keystone lite, 6 Busch lite, 6 old regular Budweiser cans and the winner was 19 Bud Lite cans.  One of the Bud Lite cans was on the other side of a tight barbed wire fence.   I waffled for a while, but I eventually got down in the mud and leaves and ticks to roll under the fence and retrieve it.

I found it interesting that there was not ONE single high end beer represented in all the trash.    And not only that, but almost every single can or bottle out there that was a beer container had contained light beer.

What does this say about the litterers of the woods?   I don’t know, but apparently they don’t drink very good beer.

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