Friday, January 21, 2011

My New Hood Ornament

As I waited for a light at the intersection of two major roads, I became aware of a little boy. I turned and found Little-Boy was sitting in a child’s seat, front passenger side in the truck on my left. He was dressed in a blue suit, hair neatly combed and parted. As I looked at him, I also looked past him, at his mom. Mom was a “looker.” I try not to be rude, but I must reiterate, mom was a “looker”, and so I was compelled to look; I am after all a guy. I suppose Little-Boy noticed my looking. He turned to me and I said to him in a mock-enthusiastic manner, as both our windows were down, “Is that your mom?” I believe I heard him reply, “Yeah.” I added, “Your mom’s pretty!” Mom took notice and smiled. Little-Boy whipped his gaze from me to his mom, and back to me and back to mom, and back to me. I noticed on his face a most serious and dark look of disapproval. I went back to watching the light when without warning, a small toy clattered across my truck’s hood. The child had launched it at me. I set the brake, turned off the engine and hustled out to recover it. I was laughing, mom was laughing, Little-Boy was not. I returned to him his toy, and hurried back to mine as the light had changed. I had just closed the door, when the toy came flying through the open window. Little-Boy had perfected his aim. The traffic proceeded and left me no chance to return his “gift” as they were well on their way but I am certain that I saw, as the two of them pulled away, mom was laughing. Mario, however, was mine.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Brief Story

Rolf Velsen was born June, 1925 on a farm outside of the village of Vilatch, province of Vilatch, in the state of Carinthia, of Austria. He was what the people of that time and place would have called a peasant. In our vernacular of that day we would have called him a “poor, dumb farm boy.” Rolf’s education extended to the sixth grade, and his world was encompassed by the countryside about his home to a radius of ten miles. All beyond that was a foreign land. He was Lutheran and attended church regularly. Rolf’s acquaintances consisted in the main of his extended family, the nearest neighbors, and a few school chums. He worked the land beside his father and mother and brothers and sisters with the simplest of implements. He had never spent a night away from home. Home was all he knew. He was not sophisticated.

On August 1943 he was conscripted into the German Army. He said goodbye to his parents and siblings, and boarded a truck with others of similar luck, which carried him to a train that in turn took him to Salzburg, a distance of less than one-hundred miles from home, near the German-Austrian border. The handful of hours he had spent away from home already seemed to him to be an eternity, and homesick, he jumped from the train as it began to pick up speed. Several hours later he was captured by the police, turned over to military authorities and after a brief interrogation had revealed the facts, Rolf was placed in a cell. The next day he was given a Court Martial for desertion and found guilty. The following day Rolf Velsen was ushered into a courtyard with a thief, and a saboteur, placed against a wall and shot.

This story was related to me by an old man under the influence of a Scotch and heard by myself through the same haze. The story is a retelling of a tale relayed by at least several others and in the telling details may have been lost and others corrupted, but not to such a extent as to render it useless.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mr. Stinky Breath

In the past I had the habit of leaving the cat-port open all night. My mousers have a duty to perform and it is best performed late at night when their prey are moving about. Trouble is they too frequently bring their victims into the safety of home. Whenever I can, I take their toys away and toss them into a bucket and the next morning bury them in the vegetable garden. 

You probably recall the story of how the Pilgrims that settled in New Plymouth, Massachusetts nearly starved to death due to the infertility of the very sandy soil they were attempting to cultivate. They were starving, that is, until the natives taught them how to fertilize the soil by using fish, which they had in abundance. Fish are high in protein and protein has an abundance of nitrogen, and potassium and their bones are high in phosphorous, and calcium, and upon rotting the fish become a very nearly balanced fertilizer. As there is a shortage of fish in the desert, I’ve learned to use the rodents my cats bring me. With a foundation bar, I drill a hole near the roots of a chard plant, lift a rodent out of the bucket by the tail, insert it nose first into the hole and using the foundation bar, gently tamp in in place. I’ve found I can deposit three small mice or one good size rat in each hole. It’s best to leave the tail of the last one hanging out slightly so you don’t accidentally over-fertilize that particular spot.

One of my cats, Legs, likes the hunt and early in mid morning knocks off to come into my bedroom to “report”. He’s a big tough, blond, male tabby who loves his man. He likes to sit near my head late at night and purr into my ear and breath into my nose. Late one night he was doing so, with his cold nose so close it would occasionally touch mine. I had noticed in the past a peculiar scent about him at those times but never put it all together…I was after all half asleep…when I found myself overly disturbed by that awful musky scent that he was breathing into my nostrils. When, finally, it dawned on me…what I was smelling…was the scent of…rat blood. I must say, was so very good of him to report to me, in his pure animal-cat way, the success of his hunt.