Saturday, July 15, 2006

beets and borrowed banjos

it seems like i get only a few days on judy branch before life (i.e. work) pulls me away again. this week it was a three-day working retreat with the ky arts council in the middle of central ky's farmland. evenings at home i'll often spend an hour or so playing banjo, but when i'm away from home, feeling a need to be alone, i'll sit and play for four to six hours easily. i taught myself some new tunes this week and played around on sawmill tuning, finally learning "red rocking chair." now if i could only figure out how to play it the way lily may did...

when i got home today i made a shrine to ophie and conducted a little ceremony with our family that i hope will send "come home ophie" signals into the universe. i lit a candle, sprinkled catnip over participating kitties and shrine, and fed all critters (cat and dog alike) a helping of tuna. to top it off, i placed a tuna offering for ophie in a bowl on the porch railing. i'm feeling pretty blue about her prolonged absence, but i'm still holding on to hope.

the best part of today came in the form of beets (i harvested three beautiful beets this evening!) and the promise of a banjo to borrow when i travel to portland. i was a bit worried about flying with my banjo, and now i can relax and plan on bringing an offering of beets for use of a west coast five-string.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Battle of Morning Glory

For the past few days I have spent an average of five hours in my garden. All of that time has been dedicated to pulling up weeds and tracing the path of morning glory vines so I could pull them up at the root. How quickly that insidious vine invades! After five days of battle, I have successfully cleared my crops of that murderous vine. The beds that still need to be planted will have to wait, and I believe I'll just take the hoe to them. I must confess that I really do enjoy weeding and tending my garden. It slows down my pace of the day and allows me to take time to pull up each and every little unwanted root. I usually work in "the cool of the day," after the sun retreats behind one of the mountains and I can work in the shadow of the hills. If we've had rain, I can hear the creek trickling by. Then there's the sounds of birds and bull frogs, horses and cows and ever so often the distant sound of a not so distant coal train. It's so quiet out here that you can hear the rustle of leaves and grass as a bug lights out or a gentle breeze blows.

Toward dusk, a couple members of the Judy Branch dog pack decided that they were lap dogs. Frankie Mophead was the first to take advantage of my seated position. I didn't mind the company until Lucy, a little beagle, decided that she should also sit in my lap while I weeded. The result was a lively canine version of king of the hill. They both ended up losing when I decided it was time to stand up and call it quits for the day.

It's a motley family I've created for myself here on Judy Branch. Some of the critters I love can turn on others, and it is a difficult thing to reconcile. A few nights ago, the Judy Branch Pack sniffed out cat Ophie in the woods and chased her off onto the mountain. She's not come home yet, and I'm having a hard time dealing with the pack's constant presence on my porch. I can't help but hope that Ophie is in hiding somewhere deep in those woods, just waiting for a quiet, safe moment to come home, and that she won't do that as long as these dogs are headquartered on my porch. I also can't help thinking that she met her demise. I know that either way, it's just nature's way, and I'm trying to be at peace with it. I still hope and wish with all my heart that little Ophie will come home.