Time Out

This month marks three years I have been posting to Off The Back Porch. It has been fun, but I want to take some time off to write, draw, take photos and sharpen the old saw. Thank you for reading so far and if you are a subscriber you don’t need to do anything, the next posts will arrive in your mailbox when I start up again. See you later…

Spring Approaches

Snowy Hollyhocks

A few weeks ago the power company showed up to replace a couple of utility poles on our road, one of which was next to our acreage. I had never seen this done so I watched them, off and on, for the couple of hours it took to do the job. There were two trucks with cherry pickers mounted on top on either side of the lines. There was a man in each of the buckets attached to the pickers, parallel with the power lines at the top of the pole. They disconnected the wires from the pole and held them suspended in place while the rest of the work below them went on. A new hole was dug next to the old pole with a large auger mounted on a crane attached to another truck. Then using the same crane they pushed on the old pole until it broke in two, the top crashing to the ground. The men in the cherry pickers continued to hold the lines in place. The rest of the pole was pulled out of the ground by a big hydraulic claw, which then grabbed the new pole and put it in the new hole. The base was filled in, the men above holding the lines attached them to the new pole, and they were done. All without us loosing power, and them working during during a windy day in below freezing temperatures.

Our first robins of the year were spotted here March 4th, hopping around looking for food on the still frozen ground. Just a few days before that we were enjoying a small fire outside and heard the first flock of geese flying overhead. Spring approaches.

The Roundup

Steve (l) and Marley in winter

The Prairie Homestead isan online space with over one million monthly visits dedicated to helping people learn how to grow their own food and opt-out of the rat race, regardless of where they live.”

“The website broadbandchoices conducted a study to determine the scariest films of all time, measuring their results based on the elevated heartbeats of participants. They’ve dubbed the experiment the Science of Scare Project. This is their Top 25.” That is the 2020 list. Click here for the updated 2021 list.

Dusty Old Thing is a very addictive site. “From tales about treasures found to reliving moments in our collective past, our aim is to share with people the items, stories, and memories we hold so dear. History is a part of us all and it’s important we remember and celebrate it.”

Savings.com says “Our team of expert bargain hunters meticulously forage and navigate through the sea of online deals and discounts so that you can easily find, compare, and apply the latest offers during checkout. If you’re shopping for virtually anything, you can bet that our digital savings platform will help you save money in just a few clicks.”

Ham and Beans

During the course of a year we will cook a bone-in ham as a meal for a couple of the holidays. The bone is saved, with a generous amount of ham still attached, in the freezer for a month or two until I am ready to make a batch of ham and beans. Following is my recipe.

Ingredients:

Ham bone

Great Northern Beans (½ of a 16 ounce package, soaked in water overnight)

Small onion, diced

Two medium carrots, diced

Two stalks of celery, diced

Chicken broth, 24 ounces

Black pepper, white pepper and salt, to taste

Cayenne pepper, garlic, mustard powder, to taste

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker, add water until ingredients are covered and cook several hours until beans and carrots are done. Serve with warm, buttered cornbread.

Japanese Haiku

Japanese Haiku By The Peter Pauper Press

I am currently enjoying a little book titled Japanese Haiku. It is copy written 1955 by The Peter Pauper Press and I have no idea how it came into my possession. The introduction is short and concise, explaining that haiku was originally the first part of the tanka, a five line poem, but eventually haiku became popular as a separate form. Haiku consists of three lines, the first and third lines contain five syllables, while the second line has seven. In this very limited structure of only seventeen syllables the very best haiku poets have been able to convey emotions, flora and fauna, the seasons and weather and “an implied identity between two seemingly different things.” My little book informs me that the greatest haiku writer was Basho (1644-1694) followed by Buson (1715-1783) and then Issa (1763-1827). It also says haiku is impossible to translate literally because they are “full of quotations and allusions which are recognized by literate Japanese and not by us; and are full of interior double-meanings almost like James Joyce. And the language is used without connecting-words or tenses or pronouns or indications of singular or plural – almost a telegraphic form.” Finally, the intro concludes “the haiku is not expected to be always a complete or even a clear statement. The reader is expected to add to the words his own associations and imagery, and thus to become a co-creator of his own pleasure in the poem.” With all that in mind here are my three favorite poems in the book (so far, as I have yet to finish it) by what it regards as the three best haiku writers.

BASHO:

Twilight whippoorwill…

Whistle on, sweet deepener

Of dark loneliness

BUSON:

A short summer night…

But in this solemn darkness

One peony bloomed

ISSA:

Over the mountain

Bright the full white moon now smiles…

On the flower-thief