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Two blog posts in one day I announced proudly to the freshly-napped missus. Thinking I naturally would have written about the very emotional baby sighting this morning she posted her own version of events, then checked on mine to see that yet again, I had only written about the stupid yard. Man is a slave in all matters of the heart baby, but in his yard? Oh yes, he is King….

Slavishly then, I submit my own meagre nugget.

We went in to meet the (one of 8 or 9 on staff so not really “the”) midwife today. And after she failed with the doppler to find the heartbeat and fetched the ultrasound machine and fumbled for quite possibly the longest 3 or possibly 576 minutes of my life there he was, the baby that I knew beforehand would have matured since the last time we saw it but still so shockingly big and human! Not a shrimp anymore mama, this thing was baby without doubt. Pumpkinhead maybe, human nonetheless. And, to make the moment all the more glorious, he was dancing like I have never seen. You think a baby might swim, being small and suspended in fluid, slow-motioning the breast stroke to pass the idle time, but no. He was doing the “come on down,” swinging his arms from way out to in like I had no idea could be done. Hyper already, inhe? I said. Wow, the midwife said.  Ha! Courtney said.

Wanted: Rhinoceros

I want something unbelievably strange for the back wood. Look at it, sitting there all tame and smug. It’s virtually begging for it.

Something larger-than-life, something shocking, something that will scare the neighbors and send home values plunging. What I really want is this:

This is Xavier Veilhan’s Rhinoceros we saw at the Pompidou and I want it and I can’t have it and I want to make one but know I can’t and so want someone to make one for me.  And if I can’t have it then I want this:

Driving down the Coastal Highway last week, we passed these unbelievable metal dinosaurs, so well done, I couldn’t tell what they were made from until I saw that it was rusted steel, some dappled like dino skin, some smooth like this one, all life-size or close to it.  Amazing.  Beautiful.  Please can I have one please?

If anyone knows anyone that has or can make one of these things or something similarly big and weird please contact me. Rhinoceros, Hippo, Cow, Elephant, Dinosaur. Any of these will do just fine thank you.

Brag Blog

To confirm my suspicions that the only reason I have a blog in my name is to enhance my status in others’ eyes, I will now proceed to boast nonstop for 500+ words (with pictures!).

When we moved into el rancho robino the back yard sloped from the sides of the house gently to the basement floor level in the middle, like a lot of houses with walkout basements. Like yay:

But it turned out that those slopes made it tough on croquet games, and hard to pitch a tent. Plus, it turned out, the slopes just offended me: where was the mark of man’s awesome manipulative hand? I am from the midwest. To me there is no more powerful or beautiful line than the horizontal. Not that a mountain doesn’t do it for me, but this? This pissy little hill?  Remove it.

So I set to flattening and opening the space, carving back the hills and retaining the earth with walls. It was a lot of dirt when you add it all up, definitely work more suited for a machine like a Bobcat or a backhoe, and that’s what the neighbors who stopped on the sidewalk to ask me what in hell I was doing kept telling me.  The builder down the street even offered the use of his. But no, I said. What I really want, when I’m done, is to be able to say “I did this all myself, just my shovel, my wheelbarrow, and my back.” Free gym, as the guys at Food Gatherers call it. Plus, machines are for the domesticated. None of that shuffle-shuffle obsequiousness from me in the old diad of house and field. I am now and always will be, an inveterate, incurable field nigger.

Well, I stand up next to a mountain And I chop it down with the edge of my hand

Well, I stand up next to a mountain/ And I chop it down with the edge of my hand

I started digging late Autumn ’07. Work languished during the yearlong-honeymoon Summer of Beer, and especially during renovations. I picked up again Fall ’08 and with the house finished and the area having looked so completely post-apocalyptic for so long that we were just too ashamed to let it go any longer I finished in one month-long burst of activity this May (’09).

I bought twenty tons (Twenty Tons!) of field stones and boulders from the Rock Shoppe for the walls. I don’t know how much a house weighs, but twenty tons must come close, yeah? Couldn’t I have shifted the earth’s rotation on it’s axis with that, pulling twenty tons from one spot and placing them in another? Did you feel the world wobble when it happened?

And b/c many of the rocks ended up being four or five hundred pounds each (what did I say about machines?) I rented a Bobcat for a day, and my brother and I hefted them into place with hydraulics. So fast, so easy!  When I had to finish moving the dirt with just a wheelbarrow and a shovel I cried out for my long lost bobkitty.  How spoiled I became, and how quickly!

And I bought 15 tons of compost to cover the clay that I had scraped down to so that grass would actually grow. And I planted the grass, and lo, it did grow.

See?  Now doesn’t that feel better?

And I did it. Just like I said I would: I moved all that dirt myself, with just a shovel* and a wheelbarrow and my back.

Now all I need is the T-Rex for the woods and I’ll be done I swear.

* Six shovels actually.  They don’t make ’em like they used to.


Frontier Airlines is based in Colorado.  That used to be the frontier.  Then Oregon. Then we hit water.  But the beauty of Now is that we can cross that water and find our new frontiers so far West we’re East again.

This oscar meyer insight may be 18 years late but hey — you can’t blame a guy for tryin’ to resuscitate a brain on insomniacal musings: Iranq, AfPakistan — we’re blazing trails, panning gold, fighting savages, & cetera & cetera.

Hand me a homestead Daddy, I’m gonna farm me some papa-ver.

Another Shovelful of Dirt on the Ol’ Grave: 2009 Tomato Crop a Total Failure

I planted more than 300 tomato plants this March.  Either 360 or 432 (5 or 6 flats) I can’t remember which. I don’t know what I would have done with 432 tomato plants, much less the fruit of 432 plants which could conceivably have borne some 8000 tomatoes if from each plant I picked 20, but I was so excited by the prospect of more red zebras, black plums, black zebras et al than we could ever possibly eat, the prospect of all those unearthly colors piled high that we could have eaten, and given away, and bartered for services (have tomatoes, will travel) that my already-too-prone-to-botanical-revery  judgment was clouded enough that it seemed perfectly reasonable that I might need 1400 purple moon tomatoes alone.

But alas, those dreams have come to naught. Of the 5 or 6 flats I planted, it looks like the cumulative total of less than one has sprouted. And that one is much smaller than all the other plants I’m seeing out there in the markets. Maybe this is the universe’s lesson for the year on Hubris and Greed and Gluttony.  Maybe a flat is all I needed and nature thinned the herd for me. Or maybe I’m just a klutz.

I was no technician when I planted the seeds.  I may have pushed them down the requisite 1/4 inch into the soil, or it may have been 1/2 inch — I was going too fast to tell. I’ve never had any plant be so finicky that an extra 1/4 inch made any difference at all (unless I didn’t know it — I’ve heard that an extra 1/8 of an inch with carrot seeds is enough to forfeit the game). So it may have been that — that I’m a sloppy-ass farmer.

Or it may have been the temperature I’ve been germinating them at, a pretty unsteady 50º to 80º, has been too cool.  They like it between 75º and 90º.

My flimsy coldframe wasn’t tight enough to manage consistency like that, especially the night the blizzard caved it in and I had to scoop snow off the seedlings.  Hmmm.  Might that not have been it?  Der.

Whatever it was, a thing I’ve been so looking forward to for 9 months (no relation!) has come to naught, and now I have to wait another year to see if I can get it done right the second time. I have wasted a tomato year of my life. One year closer to not having any more tomatoes ever. 8000 less tomatoes total for this poor, lonely, infertile boy.

O, Death
Won’t you spare me over til another year.

Spring Fever

Some people open their windows and let a breeze in and get out the mop and dust sauce and clean. I get out my shovel. I’ve been holding my breath through the longest hardest coldest winter in recent memory for spring to break so long that it’s not a season anymore it’s a cure.

I planted 700 tulips last fall, plus 50-or-so (more) fritillaria, 50 (more) trumpet lilies, plus some assorted other stuff — narcissuses (they outlawed the plural “i”?), muscari, & cetera, and I have invested pretty much every last kernel of extra hope I have left lodged wherever it is in my chest into the vainglory of 700+ sublimely glaring, quietly screaming, asexually-whoring whorls and saucers of come-hither color that if a sub-zero front came raging through town tomorrow killing every firstborn flower I would most likely hang myself from a greenhouse rafter. At the least I would hit the high stream in a basket of reeds.

That plus I planted some thousand seeds of various kinds and warmed them through early and then late March on to early April in a cold frame or hot house or whatever you call it. 300+ heirloom tomatoes of various freaky families, Corn and kale and collard greens and chard.  Nasturtium and broccoli and lettuce and arugula for the missus who can think of nothing but, giant pumpkins, pie pumpkins, acorn squash, lemon cucumbers, striped and regular beets, and on and on and on, all happily sprouting in the nice wet jungular I heat made under the plastic with the space heater running 24/7 carbon footprint be damned.

Suffice it to say I’ve got some energy invested in these May flowers. Enough that when I caught the brown dog traipsing, for some godforsaken reason, on top of the tender seedlings in the plastic trays on the back patio this morning, I smacked the glass to scare her, gave her the stink-eye and told her, “you. you are such a dumb-ass.”

Now, today, this April 26th in the year of our lord 2009, there is so much about to pop that if I sneeze there will be pollen flying enough to.. Well, we wouldn’t want to overdo the metaphors now would we?

This one especially, the blumex tulip, strong candidate for the weirdest flower this side of the Black Sea medal, verging so close today to a slack-jawed snaggletoothed overbit inbred double-cousin but somehow, in a few days time, managing to morph into the sexiest multi-colored misshapen siren ever to grace this earth, has changed my understanding of beauty.

There’s more here.

The ever-present blog complication: how do I satisfactorily convey the absolute obscenity of what is about to happen without offending the curious in-laws and meddling teenage offspring that happen across these words?

I stop short.  And leave the rest to the imagination.

Adult Tastes

We stopped drinkin’ Tuesday. We made the most of the 3 days’ inter-egg-num (well, I did) but Tuesday we woke up glassy-eyed and twitchy and that was that. Party over man.

I hadn’t before today but finally seriously questioned the wisdom in sympathy sobriety.  What’s the point of the both us us suffering? She didn’t abstain in the past when I had to… And so on.

Nevertheless, Kaliber it was when I got home from a somewhat arduous day of office and errands. And now it’s 9, time for kids to go to bed, and I want something adult.  Something weird and complicated. Something not-too-sweet and relaxing and even a little mind-altering (even if just by it’s novelty).

So now I’m on to coconut water mango juice cocktail. Which I just can’t seem to get comfortable with. I think I smell the mango which really gets my juices flowing before I taste the … em… water.

Courtney just busted out the chocolate-covered twinkie.

Okay Fine.

Alright it’s not true.  Revenues did not exceed $15.5 billion in ’98 and things are on the uptick not the downswing. The point of that last cranky missive was that I turned the site into a blog and now feel the weight of the “publish” button and find that at this very moment in my life I really have very. little. to. say.

There’s so much else going on that the last thing I want to do is delve into it. For that, please see me here at twitter where you can read my every inane status update guaranteed to convince you that the last thing you want is to be “tweeted.”

See!  Was that necessary?  I think not.  Courtney and I have been trying to slough negativity for Lent, in this heavy and oppressive time when it feels like the most natural thing to let off a little steam by ragging on somebody or something else. Twitter? Sounds like something nasty you do with two fingers. That barista?  What a jerk-off. Even crotchety old man complaints.  Too fast, too fast! or The roofline on the neighbor’s edition doesn’t match the main house. There’s a fine line between critical and critique-al and we’ve been erring heavy on the snottybitchy side.

So look. Maybe I’m just doing what my mama always told me I oughta do in cases where I can’t think of anything nice to say. I’m saying nothing at all.

Steve Warrington is…

a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with net revenues of US $15.55 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 1998. Things have gone steadily downhill from there.

Committed to delivering innovation, Steve Warrington collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments with low-performance futures.

SW Global Group Inc. is all about throwing away what little you may be lucky enough to have now.

this is my inaugural post.

“I, stephen mandryk warrington,”

“I, stephen..”

“…do solemnly swear”

“…stephen mandryk warrington, do solemnly swear,”

“that I will execute the office of president of the united states faithfully”

“that I will execute…”