Friday, June 20, 2008

Lenny and Curtis' search for meaning, part deaux

Lenny and Curtis, two madcap vagabonds living the simple life in a world they never made, have decided to embark upon a quest in search of The Meaning of Life.

Fueled by fried shallots and a strong willingness to use alternative modes of transportation, they set out across the lonesome prairie.

...Never suspecting that the evil GRAVY MASTER and his evil dugong sidekick BLUBBATOR (now clad into the hideous semblance of Will Smith) were plotting to thwart their plans!

"Ah, the library...repository of all human knowledge! An excellent place to begin our quest, wouldn't you say, Curtis? If there is indeed a meaning to this reckless romp we call life surely a hint of it must lie 'twixt these-

"Yee haw! I think I found it, Lenny," said Curtis. "H'it looks like one a them there Rastafagrarian books. Toke- ology, see? Them Rastafarnarnians know all about secret mysterious stuff!"

Lenny was skeptical.

Meanwhile the Gravy Master and his evil sidekick Blubba-Will were in the Gravy Masters' secret underground car collection!

"Already we have lost too much time! Choose one of these metal steeds and hunt them down like helpless larvae and mush them and stomp on them until their guts all squish out! Quickly! Choose any one of my super-turbocharged lovelies you wish and stop them, Blubba-Will!"

The first car was too small.

And something told him that he might be better off to walk on past the 'Vanilla Gorilla'.

And then he saw it.

"I have made my choice!" he cried triumphantly. "Yo Jeeves, smell ya later!"

But little did he know that he had chosen the Gravy Masters own stuntbike, dearest to his heart, the Golden Jupiter III!

The Gravy Master flew into a rage and called to his terrible watchdog Sponcrunchador!!


Back at the library, Lenny and Curtis were about to open the pages of a mysterious book.

"I have my doubts about this, Curtis," said Lenny.
Oh quit 'cher bellyachin and help me with this gol durned thing. H'its a big ol' motherfucker! We'll jest open her up and.....

..............HO LEE SHIT.

"Now. Arent you sorry you didn't listen to me? But nooooooooooo. 'Hep me with this big ol motherfucking Rastafarian book, Lenny! Oh, the meaning of life's gotta be in here, Lenny!'

"What in tarnation.....oh."

Little did they know that close at their heels Will Smith was racing across the prairies like a bolt of lightening on the Golden Jupiter III! It had the speed of ten thousand speeding Ferrari Porches!

It was so fast that Will decided to stop for awhile and do a couple of stunts.

He did the Magoo Ga GooGoo stunt!

He did the Funky Cornholio!

But just as he was about to try the Double Top Secret Wango Tango Grind, most daring and dangerous stunt of all..........

...He was seized in the mighty jaws of Sponcrunchador!! He disappeared down the monsters horrible maw to a gastric grave!!!!!!!

Back at the library Lenny had made an important discovery.

Curtis was not impressed. "I dont see how no got-damn book about beer is gonna have anything worth botherin' to read about when a gol-durn book about tokin' didnt. I hope its fulla pitchers a horse butts."


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lenny and Curtis' search for meaning

One morning, sitting around the campfire making breakfast, Lenny and Curtis fell to discussing life, as one does out on the range.

"I should think that we are all just mindless mechanisms in a great, cosmic clock whirring meaninglessly down toward an inevitable and equally as pointless end," said Lenny.

"Now gol-durn it Lenny, that's just awful ding-danged cheerful at 6 of the mother fuckin A.M. Shee-oot. Iffen I wanted to listen to that dang danged kinda depressin hooraw I'd could just " At which point Lenny tuned Curtis completely out.

But Curtis could always tell when Lenny's thoughts were drifting. "Now just a gol-durned second Mr. Nihilism, I aint fooled for one got-damn minute by your act there. My viewpoints is jist as dang valid as yourn; I jist don't express m'self all purdy-like the way you does."
"Turn the shallot," said Lenny. "It's probably done."

Still, all through breakfast the debate raged. Finally Lenny declared " We must then simply take it upon ourselves to discover once and and for all time a meaning of life; or whether such even exists. A quest! A noble quest indeed!"

"Y know, sometimes when y go lookin fer your hearts desire yew dont need t go lookin any further than yer back door" said Curtis, out of frame. "Thats from that there Wizard of Oz movie. Whaddya suppose them'alluns meant by that? Some kinda gay stuff r whut?"

Unbeknownst to them their plans were being overheard and noted with care.

It was none other than that dastardly fiend THE GRAVY MASTER!

..and his poorly uplit sidekick BLUBBATOR!

With all due speed they hastened to the Gravy Masters secret high-tech lair! At their feet lay a strange device. What fiendish purpose had it been made to serve?

"Yes! Come my loveliest one! Step up upon the numeric platform and press your foul fin upon the ignition switch! Yes! Yes, make haste!" exclaimed the easily overexcited mage of mischief. "Quickly! If our dastardly desires are to be fulfilled!"

The deed was done! The air was filled with special effects and all jiggly lines and stuff!

Suddenly the image altered! The jiggly lines and lightening and crap was still there though! A sinister form took shape in their midst!

"My creation! My most prized creation! What a day for evil this is!" cackled the Gravy Master. "Step down my transmogrified pet, and take a look at the new you! Are you not perfect? Are you not the very face of all that is malign? Behold! You are-
WILL SMITH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes....and as Will Smith you have the power to transform into any shape you wish! And do my bidding while I stay behind here in my Jeep! You are magnificent!
Now go forth....go forth and kill...



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Environmental hippie-fried rant!

I was driving down Mt. Baker highway this afternoon when I saw a sign that said 'Plant Sale'.
Of course I turned. Yes I do TOO need more plants lalalalala I'm not paying attention to you woooooolalalal wo wooow woooo.

What I found is a brand new 'botanical garden' here in Whatcom county. Someone opened up three acres down the bottom of a small canyon, did a lot of dirt work and WHOOMP there it is.

It is the best example I have ever seen of the WRONG plants in the WRONG place. It is also the best example I have ever seen of a GARDEN in the WRONG place. I paid my money and I walked around and was just appalled. Completely appalled.

If I had been a little kid, or someone who doesn't know a lot about gardening, I might have been delighted. There in the bottom of the canyon next to the creek was a beautifully landscaped; hell, landscaped within an inch of its life-decorative garden. The kind you might find in any upscale gated community.

HTR's abounded. Any rose you could possibly imagine, in fact; all of them grafts, all donated by Jackson and Perkins and all destined to die slowly and horribly. I hope. Why do I hope that? Because the alternative is to keep these poor things pickled in chemicals. Now even in ideal conditions, HTR's need lots of 'drugs' to keep them pretty. Down at the very bottom of a canyon in the foothills of the Cascades underneath the cedars next to a stream? They might as well have tossed them straight onto the burn pile.


Oh, it gets worse.

This is temperate rain forest. We live in USDA zone 8. Upland timber soil is notoriously acid and poor in nutrients, and the ecosystem is dependent on western red cedar, alder, maple and insect activity to put back carbon. That's a real general description of how it works. Now take that system and stick it in the bottom of a canyon , at the bottom of an active watershed...ON A FLOOD PLAIN. This is a very minutely balanced, very fragile system that depends on being flooded out several times a year, and having high humidity. It absolutely is not where things like begonias and Gladioli belong!

Oh, they had plenty of French drains.
Made with crushed limestone and PVC corrugated pipe. One weeps.
Thats barely hind tit! I mean, it's OK on level ground or even a slight slope. At the bottom of a steep hillside/watershed in friable...NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. You need more than a dirt trench with a few shovelfulls of crush and some flimsy ass vent pipe to hold up against what nature's going to throw at it!

They had no banking whatsoever. Nothing was holding the dirt to the hillsides but gravity. No plantings. No grass. No cover.
The washout channels were already evident.

They had mulched with bark. Bark is highly acid (also highly expensive.) Not a bad choice for perennials and Northwestern native plants.

They had it planted with bedders. Fucking petunias. MOSS ROSE.

Again, the merciful option would be to rip these all out and toss them onto the bonfire with the HRT's. The only way you could keep these things going in that soil would be to keep them bloated up on hi-lime fertilizer WHICH WILL RUN OFF DIRECTLY INTO THE STREAM THE NEXT TIME IT RAINS.
Rain is a frequent occurrence here in the PNW, I've heard.
Bad for the forest just beyond the fence? OH MY YES INDEED.

And the capper? There is no goddamn sun in this place! None!!! At best you get 2 hours around midday! After that its all shade! Every single plant they have in here is meant for full sun!!! EVERY SINGLE ONE! I saw maybe ten rhodies. Ten stressed, crappy looking rhodies probably being fed the same hi-lime drink that everything else was and....argh!!!

Most depressing of all, to me at least, was the evidence of first growth logging that all the dirtwork had uncovered.* The unimaginably vast cedars that grew here back when the forest was first logged left evidence of themselves in the form of enormous stumps nearly a storey tall. You could still see the notches made by the loggers, into which they fitted springboards upon which to stand. The springboards lifted them up to a height on the taper that their saws could cut through. Some of these stumps were as big around at the base as the area of my kitchen. Imagine a living thing that size. The size of a blue whale, with all that water coursing up its trunk like a river. Oxygen pluming away from the crown like an invisible pennant. All shipped in lengths to build tenements in New York.

All of these huge trunks were very picturesque; mossy, split and weathered. Most had a mature tree, or trees, growing out of them. (An old rotted cedar trunk is a great place for rodents and birds to cache seeds. The ones they forget frequently germinate.)The owners had carefully chosen the most unusual or pretty and left them in, kind of incongruous in the middle of a neatly clipped formal garden, but nice.

Nice until you realize that these trees were all on their last legs. Or roots, rather. Remember the flood plain? These trees had been stressed all their lives. The main bulk of their supporting root mass was 5 feet off the ground! It was grown around and through a base of weakened, rotting cedar-and that riddled with every wood-chomping pest imaginable. That was the reason all those curly interesting looking roots were sticking out. That was the reason that all those trunks were drooping and angled, trying to maintain balance!

Look closer? Every single one of them-every one!- was drilled full of woodpecker holes. It was appalling; it looked as though someone had gone through with a shotgun. Woodies only drill native trees for insects. The kind of damage I saw was a pretty clear sign that the trees were infested.

Dying trees. Dying, 35-ft tall trees in a public place. Simply excellent.

Next good windstorm that comes roaring through there, particularly now that it's all cleared out? It's going to be CATASTROPHIC. All those interesting trees are going to fall over like stacked matches and shatter.

I didn't spend a lot of time in the place. It was really disturbing. And I'm sorry to say that too...I mean, it genuinely is pretty. Someones' grandma would love to tour through here. It was just so...wrong. You get your first hint of that when you notice that they have the place surrounded with tall fences and barbed wire and sensor spotlights like Stalag 13! Got a bit of a large mammal problem, I'd say. It was elk, deer, bear and cougar. Now it's primate.

For six years, every summer, I worked in a commercial nursery that was sited in that exact biome** sitting on the same geologic mass. We were an organic operation. We took great pains to steward that land responsibly. If there's one thing I know to do, it's how to garden responsibly with non-native plants in that kind of an ecological niche. These people...

See, this is what they mean when they talk about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. I'm sure they are just a couple of people who love to garden and decided to make their property into a pretty place where people could get married or something. If only they'd done it just five miles west of there down on the ag land. Fucking if only. They've destroyed salmon habitat, they've destroyed a watershed, they've stripped out healthy trees and substory and left behind the diseased, weakened specimens and interplanted it all with lime loving annuals and non-native selections, many of which I recognize as prime disease vectors (kwanza cherry and weeping mulberry, for starters.) It's just a crying goddamn shame. The only way they're going to be able to maintain this place is with gallons of things like Captan and copper sprays and Ozmocote and...fuck it.

*Dirtwork that, I might hasten to add, choked out the stream and made it broad and flat instead of deep and narrow and thus increased the likelihood of flooding, which will necessitate more dirtwork to repair, which will lead to more soil runoff, which will raise the level of the get the picture.

**not down a canyon, although we had one on the property that we maintained a path through so that people could birdwatch and botanize. How conservative were we in that canyon? We cleared blackberries with rented pigs in a movable pen. Hired a team of horses to log out snags. Fact.

Monday, June 16, 2008


The plant sale was a rip-roaring success! I put out two signs and posted one small notice on Craigslist and that was all I needed. Nobody walked away without buying something! I made $103!!!! PURE PROFIT, BABY!

The best thing that happened was that I met a local woman who is looking for a source of organic medicinals to use in her local business (she's a massage therapist.)

Around here, 'massage therapist' is virtually synonymous with 'new-age flake' but hey - better 'new-age flake' than 'psychotic kitten stomper'. If she chumps out on me I can always sell the plants next year and I'm out nothing. Bonus!

One of my signs. Yeah, drive on past, yuppie scum. You'll live to regret it. That's right. Go save the earth in your Lexus there, ya Republican douchebag.

Right before the sale opened...a modest offering, but all winners. The nice thing about having the sale this late in the season is, my garden serves as the illustration. Something in a pot doesn't look like much, but I can point to what it will look like fully grown and in bloom.

Midway through the day, at the $61 mark. And up a bunch of free pots, flats and cut-downs too!

End of the day and $103 richer! Thank you Whatcom County!

My holding area was made from some scrap board lying on pallet timbers, and those had seen their day. With all the plants gone, it was time to tear that out, bust it down for the compost heap and put in the replacement (again, all recycled scrap).

Here is what I found when I took up one of the boards...a funnel spider! Could it be the same one I 86'd from my house a few weeks back? Who knows? Do I look like The Amazing Kreskin? I have no way of knowing something like that; its not like it was wearing a name tag. Geeze; its a fricken spider.

A really, really, really big spider.