Farmer Firesmith

            I am happy. The last couple of days working on the garden has produced a harvest of good emotions and achieved goals. Soil from the Compost Complex has been hauled to the garden, and it’s as good as I might have hoped. Deep dark, black, moisture holding, organic dirt, made entirely of eggshells, banana peels, apple cores, vegetable kitchen waste, yard clippings, and leaves. It’s beautiful. And I had enough to fill the expanded spaces in the garden.

            The expanded space is just another ten meters square, but now I know I can produce that much compost, and still have enough left over to kick off next year’s expansion. What I am doing, the way I am doing it, is working the way I want it to work.

            Someone recommended using cardboard under the compost to kill the grass I extended over, and this is my first time trying it. I raided a dollar stores dumpster for enough cardboard, and removed all the plastic tape from the sides. The cinder block border went on top of this cardboard, and then I fill the new spaces with compost, hauling load after load with my garden wagon.

            The surface of the garden is still a little lumpy, but raking will even it out, and next year’s crop of compost will add another couple of inches to the whole garden, or at least that is the plan right now. That’s next year, however, and I still have this growing season to provide me with work enough.

            Foolishly, perhaps, I planted six pepper plants. Three Carolina Reapers, and three Georgia Flames. They are my experiment, and maybe my sacrifices, to the Gods of Weather. Have I planted too early? We will see. There is something primal, elemental, and entirely human about digging in the earth with your hands, taking a young plant and carefully placing it into the ground, and creating a new home for it. My soul yearns for these moments of beginning nearly as much as harvest, for in planting we say we believe in the future, we believe we will do well, we believe the Weather Gods, the insects, the random armadillos, squirrels and rabbits, will not defeat us. We are promising the young plants we will water, feed, weed, and love. We are promising ourselves that we will care, from now until harvest, and beyond.

            Tomatoes, yes. Always tomatoes. Forever, tomatoes. Large and small, vines and plants, yes. Squash, for mom, perhaps grown vertically this year, for I think it will work. Okra, for soup, yes, and hot peppers. Zinnias for the pollinators, and because I like them.  Mom’s mother, my grandma, grew Zinnias, and I will, too. Marigolds to frighten pests away, a fence with a charger, new irrigation, and then one day planting will be done and tending will begin anew.

            There is much to be done, even now, preparing the old part of the garden for the new season, raking and leveling and digging out sticks and old stems, but that is work for tomorrow, or the next day. The heavy lifting is done, the new garden ready, baptized in sweat.

            Today, friends will come over and share a meal, and food must be prepared. I must clean my nails for there is dirt there, and I must rest a bit, too. But from now until there is frost again, and the plants return to the earth, I will walk in the garden, pull weeds, and watch over the dirt, and all the grows in it.

Take Care,


The dream was one of fear and anxiety. I know the road we were using as an escape route but can’t place it yet. Behind us, things. Monsters? Madmen? Zombies? No, not zombies, but something pursues us.

Go into the woods, some in our small party suggested.

No, distance is the key, move fast and far. Perhaps find help. If we hide they can surround is, cut off escape.

You’re not in charge.

Do what you want.

The party gets smaller as a half dozen or so people flee into the woods.

We push hard, walking fast, the road open and clear, straight as a drawn line in front of us. Behind us nothing, nothing to be seen. But I want a curve to hide us. One of the party is man who starts limping. He’s young, strong, but stepped between two rocks and broke his ankle a month ago. Panting, he looks behind us. Nothing. Ahead of us, nothing. He decides to hit the woods. We lose another.

At a bridge a dying stream staggers though weeds and broken concrete under the bridge, and disappears into the trees. We rest, eat snacks, drink bottled water, and take stock. We have little. By the time the sun disappears and darkness hunts us, we will have nothing.

We hear a scream.  We all bolt as one now, people tossing away what little they were carrying. The slowest runner has been given a death sentence, cries for help, but no one stops. I look back. The bridge seems impossibly close for us to have run so fast. The woman who gave out first is looking back, too. She turns and looks at me.

Thanks for coming back, she says, and she crying. We’re dead. Be both know it.

We’ll go into the woods, follow the creek, and hope they go after the group.


The bramble slows us too much. It’s too thick. The woman is exhausted.

“Leave me, I can’t keep up.”

“It’s too late.”

We can see the road, see things passing quickly. None of them stop to look for us.

We hear screams. Then nothing. We sit in terror, neither of us speaking. The woman cries softly.

Darkness comes, and it is complete. Sounds of something crashing through the woods. The woman bolts, screams.

I wake up.

Right now, as I write, I miss her, and I hope she made it.

Gee, Mike, write this out, and save her!

It doesn’t work like that. I write what is, not what I want to be.

That doesn’t make sense, Mike.

Try from inside here.

A while back I had a dream of being an aquatic creature, or at least semiaquatic. The world was one of low light, overcast skies of gray and the liquid of the world was black, but translucent. The beings of the world would swim out to pay homage to a creature who simply floated in the water, and whose very presence radiated malice and harm.

I tried to swim under this creature, and my thought was if I started out long before I got close, it would not notice me. However, as I drew near, it pushed me deeper into the water with some force that was as irresistible as it was slow.

My species could not breathe underwater, yet we had a great capacity, so drowning wasn’t going to be what killed me. As the depth increased so did the pressure. I felt my brain being compressed, my skull being slowly squeezed to the point of structural failure, and dying this way would be infinitely worse. I surrendered completely, stopped fighting, and began to experience the end of my existence.

The thing released me. I drifted up slow, feeling my body from within, trying to access any damage, trying to tamp down the fear it might toy with me, pushing me down, allowing my rise, tormenting me, as it was wont to do.

I rose to the surface, near where I had began.

Since that dream, even when full awake, even at this very moment, like a scar only I know is there, the sensation of pressure on my skull, and brain, is something I can still feel.

Fencing, After the Rain

Rain, more rain, then it rained. Yesterday was nonstop waterworks, and that meant the fence might be down. The hotwire around the perimeter definitely. Dawn arrived late, cold, wet, raw, and the wind drove all warmth away from bare skin. The dogs went out with me, but only Budlore Amadeus remained. Bud has a sense of mission, the idea if I am out in the woods working someone ought to be with me, and that someone has to be him.

Bud and I walk the perimeter first. I look for one of the giant trees to fall one day, or shed a large limb, and that’s going to be a job that takes an entire day, or many. Those huge limbs from older Oaks weigh tons, not pounds, and Live Oak wood is dense and knotty. I hope nothing like this has happened, but if I live long enough I know it will.

The perimeter walk shows only one small tree has fallen on the fence, but I’ll need to lift it from the base to move it. It puts up a fight, wedges itself between a larger tree and the fence, so I have to wiggle it up, work the end of it away from the bind. Bud doesn’t like me being on the other side of the fence, and he watches with his ears up, his body tense, and a look of concern in his eyes. Bud is a simple creature; if it is different it is wrong in some way. This is an animal that has some sort of working breed in his DNA. Bud is a guard dog, a protector, and the only way for anyone to be safe is for everything to be exactly the same all the time. The tree gets freed and I go back over the fence, and Bud is happy. But the hot wire is as cold as the wind.

The pack I have now is the most secure that’s ever lived here. Bud is not going to leave the yard. He’s been out there and he didn’t like it. He certainly isn’t going to leave Mom, ever, for very long. This might be the only real home Bud has ever known. His job is here. Mom is here, and Mom is Bud’s real mission. Jessica Elizabeth won’t leave Bud. She is his shadow and isn’t looking to escape. Wrex Wyatt has bolted out of the front door two or three times, but he never goes far. Lilith Anne can’t walk away from home, much less run. Lilith is not long for this earth, and it will be sad when she goes. Lilith is the last member of the First Pack alive. Her passing will mark the end of an era in my life.

Of course, minor branches, small limbs, and downed Spanish Moss litters the fence. That’s normal. None of this is enough to ground out the hot wire, but I’ve done this so many times before, so I know there’s got to be something. Finally, a limb that has pinned the wire to the fence is discovered. Small, and not a problem, yet it’s grounded out the wire. I remove it and put the tester to the wire. Four lights blink on and off, the pulsating power of the fence charger now energizing the tester.

Bud thinks we ought to walk the perimeter again, just to make sure, so we do. Bud zooms ahead, stops to mark his territory, sniffs the fallen limbs, marks them, and if I had ten acres he might die of dehydration. I find small stuff on the fence, noting serious, and pull a vine out that was creeping up the fence. But overall, it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

I’m cold. Bud is cold, and the wind picks up. We’ll have to do this again tomorrow morning, I’m sure, but for the moment, both Bud and I are heading inside to warm ourselves. The fence is up, the electricity is coursing through the wire, and Budlore Amadeus has once again kept me safe from anything evil. We stop on the deck and I scrub his back, pet his ears, and tell him what a good dog he is. Bud wiggles with excitement, happy that he got to go out and work with me, and happy to return to the rest of the pack, and the warmth of home.

Take Care,


The odd thing about being this old, is I have always been as old as I am in the current moment. Yesterday I was as old as I had ever been, and when I was ten the same was true. Life’s experiences were measured in a full life, because it was that it total, at the time, as it is now.

At some point, however, unless you are certain death is imminent, you have to learn to look at now as a past that will occur in a matter of seconds, then days, then years.

What you once thought is gone, and this has happened so many times you cannot remember all the thoughts that evolved, or failed. Or simply vanished.

Yet here you are today, certain you are right again.  

I Dream of Bricks

I have reoccurring Dreamscapes. Usually buildings, houses, rooms, and even one or two cities that do not exist in waking reality, at least as far as I know. One of the more recent is a structure made of red brick.

The bricks are normal. They’re every day red bricks, but solid, not the kind with holes.

The structure is round, mostly, once or twice it’s been slightly oval. But the magnitude of this thing is what gets me every time. As far as I can tell, it’s got to be at least six hundred meters tall. Yes, that high. People are indistinct from the view at the top, and vehicles are tiny spots. The café at the north side of the structure is a small dot. The whole thing is impossible, from an engineering standpoint because the walls are only about four meters wide at the most.

Because my mind works the way it does, whenever I’m there, maintenance crews are usually working on repairing the bricks that have fallen down, patching places where and there, and I did this in one dream, and fell all the way to the bottom.  It hurt but I was uninjured, and I’ve seen other people fall, too. They usually get up and walk away, a little gimpy but okay.

Some people fall and just lay there, in the grass, the rich, thick, tall grass, super green, and eventually the grass absorbs them and they’re gone. No one knows where.

Living quarters of some sort exist somewhere in this place, I’m not sure where or how, but a woman was taking me to her room once when I woke up. Dammit.

Last night I was there only for a few minutes, walking around, look up at flocks of birds as they flew up and up and up. Bricks fall sometimes, spinning, hitting the wall, breaking, and sometimes but the time they get to the bottom, they are just crumbly collections of dust, and other times they hit hard. I’m not sure death as we know it exists here.

What should I call this place, until I can learn its true name?

Take Care,


Sisyphus on a Coffee Table

“Can you change anything or is it static?” I asked the woman sitting next to me.

“Mmmmm, like what?” she replied, slightly drunk, her voice slurring a bit, but tone of voice suggested she hoped this wasn’t a lead in on me hitting on her.

“The stone, the guy, the scenery, maybe?” I was fascinated, not by the woman, but by the animation in the model. I had never seen anything like it.

“Yeah, you can,” another woman sat down beside the first, and she had what looked like a television remote. “Watch.”

The model on the tabletop showed a man, dressed in central casting Roman garb, toga, sandals, laurel leaves on his head, and he was pushing a huge bolder up a mountain slope. He would get to a certain point, the rock would slip, nearly crushing his body, and he would trudge downhill to start all over again. This was a three dimensional thing, the man about 200mm high, with the rock a bit taller than he. It looked realistic and you could hear him groaning, straining, then moaning when the rock slipped away.

The woman pressed a button and the rock was crystal, glowing, then she hit another and it was a diamond, another and it was burning, a ball of fire, and then again it was a dazzling star.

“And if you’re petty, like I am sometimes…” The man changed, the face was different.

“Petty?” I asked.

“That’s my ex.”

“Look up.”

I looked at her and she took my picture with the remote, and suddenly I was pushing the rock up the slope.

“Damn, that’s pretty good,” I swore.

“And I was so afraid the lightning would hit the building,” another woman was telling a story, and we paused to listen, “and we were so high up, it was like the one hundredth story and I was afraid if lightning broke the window we’d be sucked out and die.”

“You mean like in an airplane?” someone asked.

“Yeah, you know, something breaks a window in a jet, and everybody gets sucked out into the air,” the woman nodded.

Everyone started laughing at her, and I choked on my drink.

I woke up.