Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dusty doings and sorry service

I've been harvesting a few new potatoes. This is a bit of a waste, since left to their own devices they would almost certainly double in size between now and fall's regular potato harvesting time, but it's so nice to eat our own perfectly sweet spuds. I used absolutely no salt or any other kind of seasoning on this plate. It needed none.

Our peas and last year's lamb sausage too. The corn is from someone else's farm, though. We don't grow corn. We don't have the space, and it's easy enough to buy in the farmer's markets and farm stores around here.

Our neighbors grow some corn and we can trade with them a bit too, ham and pork for corn.

I've been using the energy provided by all these fresh veggies to put up firewood. It's a bit of a slog because the heat is extreme right now, but there's only a little more than a cord left to do -- two days more work at the most. Yesterday, to beat the 90 degree F heat forecast for the afternoon, I started at 6.30 am and cut, hauled, split and stacked wood until noon, and that worked out well except that I was pretty well asleep on the couch at 8.30 pm, and had to nap twice during the heat of the day. I had thoroughly drenched myself in sweat by 9am, and drank about four quarts of water to keep hydrated during the day, only to get a pretty good headache this morning all the same.

This morning I'm stiff and sore and looking for excuses to delay. Aimee's going to do the weekly shopping in Bangor today and the thought of a couple of pleasant sweat-free hours puttering in air-conditioned stores seems rather nice, but I'd better get to it and finish the firewood chore for the year.

Once it's done, it's done for the year. That's a powerful motivation..

The heat and lack of rain for over a week was starting to burn up the garden by yesterday afternoon, so between naps I had to hustle some, once I realized the threat. I was picking my usual daily harvest of forty to fifty potato bug larvae when I noticed some curling leaves. Looking around, I realized that several cabbages and some of the potatoes and tomatoes were just beginning to wilt. This was around 3pm yesterday, with another three hours of plus 90 F heat to go before it cooled down any.

Garden alert! After all that work, we can't be slow or stupid enough to lose our crop to the heat.

I got busy with hose and sprinklers, getting myself nicely soaked in the process. It took a while to sort. The level of water in our well gets significantly lower each summer and water pressure at the end of the hose has dropped a bit as a result. Both our reciprocating sprinklers failed to run right with the low pressure, so I went to the hardware store to get an oscillating type. I was going to chance a different reciprocating type, but our local store, previously excellent and just three miles away, a five minute pick-em-up truck ride, has been taken over by a couple of numpties who are running it into the ground and they had only a couple of choices, both of which were types I'd tried and I knew they wouldn't work.

The crappy way these folks are running this store is a minor personal disaster for me and it's all I can do to be civil to them. I've been going there for nearly a decade for just about anything I needed at short notice, and I really liked the previous owners and all the sales assistants. The place was a real gem: a real properly stocked hardware store in the middle of nowhere in Maine. Too good to last, I suppose. Now the original owners have retired, and these numpties are in charge, a couple of city guys who, frankly, don't seem to know hardly anything about hardware, and there are bare shelves all around the store and they don't have any choice, nor do they actually even have what you need over half the time, it seems.

Another six months of this and I'll have to go to Newport or Belfast just to get a nut or bolt. That's either twenty or fifteen miles respectively, one way. But Hobson's choice.

The pointlessness of this is driving me nuts, too. All the sensible practical people that live in this neck of the Maine woods: Do they think we all can't see what they're doing to our store? They must have lost forty percent of their customers already, and the rest probably feel much the way I do and are waiting to see what will happen next.

The new sprinkler worked fine, though, especially once elevated above potato height by a big log (the one Aimee couldn't split). It needed a bit of adjustment, which I enjoyed despite my chagrin at the new hardware store owners. It was sort of fun to get doused by the cooling spray, and I probably took longer than needed to get the adjustment just right. I peeled of my overalls and left them to dry on the firewood stack.

This morning I ran the sprinkler again for an hour, but then we got a very nice summer rain shower, not a moment too soon, and I was able to turn the thing off.

Rain. About a quarter inch or perhaps more. Hallelujah! And the sun isn't out yet, so it will have chance to soak in nicely.

So Haggis and I are sitting in the den listening to the very comforting sound of rain falling in the leaves of the ash. My overalls, still on the firewood stack, are freshly soaked.

I guess I can't cut wood now, can I? Not with wet pants.

Except I have another pair, perfectly dry. Plus it's cooler with the moisture, so best get it done now while the going is good.


  1. You should give the numpties a good old talking too; maybe they just need some advice.

  2. I've thought about it, but i can't see an upside. I can't understand why they're running the place down so. The only things I can think of are A) they're going to sell it and are just trying to cash in the stock, or B) they don't have enough capital to buy the stock they need.

    If A, then they'll be gone soon and there's not much I can say that will stop them, and I'll lose my hardware store.

    If B, then I'll just be rubbing it in, and they'll lose their hardware store and so will I.

    Unless of course they're just not thinking about what they're doing, in which case maybe an intervention would help.


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