Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Christmas Trees and Automobiles

The vehicles were lined up deep under the tent the other day, and the air smelled of carbon monoxide.
I rolled into Austin with a tricky alternator, but quickly narrowed the cause down to a wire with worn insulation. Smell of burning plastic, smoke pouring out from under the hood ... the usual symptoms.
D*'s Jeep started running rough as soon as he got out of Iowa, but, trooper that he is, he perservered and made it to Austin.
S* rolled into town in a beautiful Gran Prix - sharp, clean, smooth running, definately not an S* vehicle. Three days later he hit a deer coming back to the tent on Hwy 71 and caved in the front of the car.
The first rainy day we got, we pulled up enough tent stakes to drive the cars into the dry and set to work. No trees yet, so it was easy to turn the tent into a three bay garage.
My truck was an easy fix - a little electrical tape, a few new wires, and I'm running again.
S*'s car is the heart breaker. In a split second it was turned from a sweet little car with decent resale value into something you'd see parked in front of the projects. A few well placed sledge hammer whacks got the hood up, and we set to pulling of odd pieces of plastic. And more odd pieces of plastic. And under all that we found ... odd pieces of plastic. But we got the odd plastic bumper looking halfway presentable, and got the hood so it can be raised. Which is good, because there's an antler hole in the radiator and S* now needs to add water on a regular basis.
D*'s Jeep is proving itself to be somewhat more challenging. All symptoms point to a different cause. We've tested every system on the Jeep - nothing's working well but nothing's so messed up that the little Jeep should be coughing like it does. Nothing to do but keep fiddling with it. I don't worry about D* though. Oil used to spit out the dipstick hole on his old Jeep. He tied a gallon jug to the frame, ran a hose from the dipstick hole to the gallon jug, and stopped every hundred miles to refill his oil. Did that for two years.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Greetings from Austin

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Or, as much as it can look like Christmas when you're standing on a mountainside outside of San Antonio trying to pound rebar into the gravel of a vacant lot that surely has golden arches in its future.
But that's the future. Now it's a Christmas tree lot, or, it will be when we get the rebar into the ground. It's one of fourteen we're setting up here in the Lone Star State - yep, Papa Noel is back in town. There's seven of us now, but that number will triple this weekend. Those of us who are here are living in an RV beside a huge green and white striped tent set in front of an abandoned school in someplace called Oak Hill on the south end of the Austin sprawl. We've strung a few hundred feet of electric lights in and around the tent, hammered old scraps of wood into corrals to hold up Christmas trees, banged a stand together to hold a cash register, and set up signs on the side of the highway. And we're doing that to thirteen other circus tents all within an eighty mile radius. But that's not all. The gypsy encampment is not complete until the phones lines get connected. That's when we break out the credit card machine, hook into the computers of the international financial system, and start talking directly to MasterCard.
It used to be a lot easier. It used to be you could park the Conestoga on the edge of town, sell your wares, peddle your services, steal a few chickens or kids, and then move on. After that, when Papa Noel first started Papa-ing, the vacant lots abounded. Old cow pastures, most of them, holding their own between the strip-malls and the subdivisions, some still with tumbleweeds. The tents were set up on green, green grass, trees grew along the edge of the highway, and the deer and the antelope ranged. But those nice grassy fields are getting harder to find. More and more, today's gypsies are forced to set up shop on commercially zoned fill, horrid piles of rocks mashed and compressed by bulldozers into something that one day must be firm enough to support a drive through lane. It's to be expected, I suppose. It comes as no surprise at all, but that doesn't make it any easier to get the tent stakes into the ground.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

THE MUSE by Miller Williams

Driving south on U.S. 71
forty miles frm Fort Smith
I heard a woman speak from the back seat.
"You want a good idea for a closing line?"
I recognised the voice.
"Where did you come from?"
"I wiggled in back there when you stopped for gas.
You'd better pull over."
She knew about the cards I kept in my pocket
to scribble on whenever she came around.
We'd been through this before.
I bumped down from the blacktop and stopped the car.
Between a couple of oaks and a yellow line,
above the howl and sizzle of passing traffic
she said some words. I waited. She looked out the
"Well," I said. "Is that it?"
"It's all I have," she said. "Can't you ever do
anything for yourself?"
"I listen," I said. "That's what I'm supposed to do."
She took a slow breath and got out of the car.
"I'll try to get you something.
I'm going to walk around for a little while.
If you leave me here I'll forget I ever saw you."
"I won't leave you," I said. So I'm sitting here
between the darkening road and the pinoak trees,
a 3 X 5 card in one hand, a pen in the other,
beginning to feel vulnerable and a little foolish
like a man waiting for more toilet paper
thinking he may have been left there and forgotten.

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