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Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Much of the day I was making steps toward emptying a shed I'd built in 1977 out of boards from an old shed that had been torn down. Initially, it kept chickens for ten years. They nested in there and slept in the trees. One night when they slept in the shed a coon got in and killed a couple of them and they never slept in there again. They slept on a white pine branch close enough to the ground they could easily fly to it, but out of reach of night predators. Eventually, so many dogs came into the area that I couldn't keep chickens anymore. I liked to let them run free. I threw grain to them in the mornings and they pecked in the meadow for grasshoppers and every kind of bug they eat. I've kept scrap wood in the shed since the chickens. I'm a natural born junkyard man. I can't throw anything away unless there is nothing left that can be done with it. Over the years I've cut things out of plywood with a jigsaw, like a life-sized fiddler, a seven foot long guitar, things like that. I've kept the scraps. I have ten foot long one by ones, two twelve foot long dowels, a wooden barrel missing top and bottom. Posts of various sizes, blocks of wood. Two plywood circles 4 foot diameter and neighbor Tom Pruitt's mailbox with post. A few years after Tom died the road was paved. The bulldozer pushed the box and post out of the ground and treated it like trash. I brought it home. It's rusted really bad, has remains of paint in places and two bullet entry holes on one side and exit holes on the other side. I've aimed for years to plant it in the ground somewhere around the house for old-time memory. The post is old dry wood roughly nailed together. I call it found art.


Making the chicken house into a stable. Cutting out the wall that faces the meadow, making half of it an open doorway and the other half a wall about half way up, leaving the upper half open. It's a good size for two donkeys and a foal. I already know when Jack gets his Jeanette and they have a little donkey, I will be inseparable from the little one. It will be my pet from the start. It will be born in the same place my cats were born. It feels a little bit funny that in this time when I'm wrapping up this lifetime to suddenly have something I've wanted all my life, a donkey. It just came to me. Wanting a donkey was something it never occurred to me to tell anybody, because I believed it a hopeless urge like wanting a car I can't afford. And when I needed my old man car, the Toyota pickup burned up and died. I had the use of this 93 Buick that is an excellent car and two weeks later it became mine. Insurance money from the truck gave me the money to bring the Buick back to its potential after years of desperately needing a tuneup and taillights and a new headlight, new brakes, new tires. It took quite a bit to bring it back. Ever since that visit with the mechanic, it has run to my total satisfaction. It's 20 years old and doesn't use oil. It's a v-6 and evidently as classic a motor as the Chevy Nova slant six. Those Nova motors continue after the car has rusted away. They end up in Third World countries running pumps.

Much of the time driving I'll not listen to music because I like listening to the motor. It's running as close to perfectly as it can in the hands of a non-mechanic. My mechanic is like the guys on the NPR show Car Talk where people call in, tell their car's symptom and these master mechanics with advanced degrees from MIT answer to what the problem is, what it will take to fix it and a ballpark figure of what it will cost. Done in spontaneous Marx Brothers comedy. A few times when I've had something just a little off in the car, I could tell my mechanic (I say my because he is the only one I'll go to) what the car is doing and he goes straight to the problem. He doesn't half fix the car, either. When I drive out of his garage I feel the difference immediately. Chuck Billings is his name. He's in Glade Valley on Osborne Call Road. He's like a dentist, takes care of one appointment after another. I admire his knowledge in a big way. He's the kind of man you can trust as a true human being, too. He plays acoustic guitar with a hillbilly gospel band, Covered By The Blood. I love their name. It could also be a hard-core punk band or gangsta rappers. Musically, Chuck and I are in tune that the Stanley Brothers are the best there ever was, no two ways about it. Oh, I just felt this overwhelming longing to hear Carter Stanley sing. It brings tears just to think about him. Such a superb singer. Ralph Stanley tears up every audience at his shows when he recites The Hills of Home, his memory of Carter, growing up together, making music together. It's one of the wonderful hillbilly tear-jerkin talk songs. It leaves few dry eyes in the audience. To sit in a Ralph Stanley audience is to be among people who live by their hearts having a heart fest.

I'd put on some Stanley Brothers, but then I'd have to stop writing, sit back and listen. The music will do that to me. I can't do anything else and listen to the Stanley Brothers or Ralph Stanley. Even if I wanted to, I'd have a hard time turning off Thomas Mapfumo, whose band is playing now. He's from Zimbabwe. His band is the Blacks Unlimited. Dance club music. He sings in his home language. It's a flow like palm wine music and a lilting reggae, understated vocal, talk-singing. You can hear him on youtube if you're curious. I can listen to it because I can't understand the words. The vocals are the same as an instrument. This is dance music from Harare. It's a sinuous flow with interestingly complex rhythms. I sometimes wonder about how Mapfumo gets along these days. He was the rebel singer in Rhodesia when the blacks ran the white farmers out of the country and took over the farms. Robert Mugabe. The voice of the revolution, it's going to be a better world. Not. Mugabe has bled the country the same way the Banks are bleeding the American people, taking all to self. Mugabe loses every election and won't leave office. Zimbabwe is so incredibly depressed I can't help but wonder how much Mugabe hates the Zimbabwean people. He has 9 PhDs. Of course he deserves keeping the people in the worst kind of poverty. It's his privilege. He's smart. I wonder how Thomas Mapfumo comes to terms with himself for his part in the revolution. I can only imagine him disappointed. But his music hasn't suffered any. His music satisfies my ear like maybe Dvorjak quartets, like recent Bob Dylan projects. Very different music, but similar satisfaction in my ear. Music with a flow that obviously affects my thinking. It's been playing the whole time. I've tried to not get lost in the music, but it happened.


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