reflections from the southeast PA rural underground

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Johnny, you're too bad

"Do you have a sawzall?"

"Uh. . . a what?"

I immediately pictured the thing in my head, but of course, having never used one, doubted whether or not I was thinking of the right power tool.

"Like, not one of the circular saws, but a long, skinny thing?"

"Yeah, you'll probably want one for the wall."

It was a typical market Saturday where I'd gotten back from NYC around 8 instead of the planned 6 and, of course, had other plans that were slowly getting pushed to the back burner because of the extra long trip home. I'd hit my head for the third or fourth time on the rusty metal swing door on the back of the truck and figured I'd better get a tetanus shot on the way home. Just to be on the safe side. Plus my wife and boss were insisting. There had been all that blood.

Jonathan K. Slingluff was en route to Kutztown as I waited at the Emergi-Center in Allentown. He was gonna stop for gas and would probably get to to town right around the same time as me. Cool. We'd still make Home Depot by 9 pm. But wait, Sears came first.

The plan was to go to Reading and buy all the manly power tools my Visa would hold in under an hour. Being a new home owner, these were required purchases that I had put off shelling out the cash for too long. Having always rented, the hundreds of dollars I'd kept wanting to spend (c'mon, I am a guy after all) on power drills, saws, etc. always seemed a little less important than whatever other expenses loomed on the horizon. I could always borrow those things, right? Not any more. With ownership comes, well, more f*%^ing ownership!

Sunday morning came fast and after the first cup of coffee, John said, "You forgot to charge the battery." I'm a dipshit. Surprise, surprise. In my slacker defense, I thought, I had worked a 15 hour day, split my head open, and tried to sit at the bar for two, head hanging in my beer as my wife and friend of 16 years chatted. "I knew I forgot something," I replied to Johnny.

At the house there were three major goals we wanted to accomplish. Sand the floors upstairs. That was Prudencio's job. I knew that was a given. Prude could not fail.

Then there was the taking down of the kitchen cabinets and countertops. Most important in my mind was the Wall. Get that damn wall down. Fifties tightness be gone. We were gonna open that kitchen up. All modern and shit. Bring the OM. Bring the Zen. Clear the rubble and let Slingluff Home Improvement get IT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He went to town. The little firecracker that could and could and could some more. Having grown up with a father who was a graduate of Williamson Trade School, most of his teen years had some kind of carpentry know-how going in one way or another. We always just thought of each other as punks and skaters, but old Johnny was handy too. Painting, carpentry, framing, hanging art. You name it, the guy can do it. I count myself lucky to have had him as a friend for so long. This is to say nothing of the other binds we've made over the years.

Two years ago this month he realized his life long dream of opening an art gallery in the city. The Slingluff Gallery, which started out as Studio 2728, sits right next to the M Room in Fishtown/Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, Pa. John and his wife Leigh always get some of the freshest young artists in the nation to show at their space. Today, however, it was all biz art. Art to bring the house a new vision. Art to open up the place and create a living space. Thanks, Johnny. "You know you're running and a scrubbing and a shootin' and a lootin' and you're too bad."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

In the heat of May

Between the hail, 30 degree nights, and 90 degree days, May has luckily ended on more of a blessed than a cursed note. Having harvested more than any Spring on record at the farm, the just-enough-rain for the month followed by dry, warm days fulfilled all expectations for Spring and got our minds away from that cloudy, not-too-distant memory of week long rains and late blight from last season.

Whooooooa now. Just wait one minute there, buckaroo.

Don't go getting all confident in the weather just yet. Wasn't it just last week that Tianna was sending out those apocalyptic warnings of "Late blight already in PA! Take action now before its too LATE!" Or something like that. Even James, who one doesn't have to take on faith the man's faith, knowing the guy is an old order Mennonite, laughingly told me that it all seemed a little premature. All this doomsday talk of late blight again this year. "If we keep having days like this," he said with the utmost ease and leisure, "any late blight will just be dying anyways." If only the rest of us had the rock of ages on which to rely. Surely it's just as good to have James Weaver to rely on?

He knew that 80-90 degree sunny days would stifle that nasty plague of potatoes and tomatoes.

And so just like that May has passed and June is upon us. The two week heat wave has lifted as of today and a glorious wind is brushing through the hardwoods making them sing that swooshing sound. What an evening when the haze is lifted and the clear blue pre-summer sky is lit by a dusk sun. All Nature's silhouettes to be seen clearly again as if September was being foreshadowed. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There are still more peas, fava beans, carrots, beets, new potatoes, kales, swiss chard, radish, green onions, head lettuce, mesclun, broccoli, kohlrabi, and pac choi to pick.

All is early this year. Cold and wet be gone. Let us have the sun and just enough rain. Sans hail thank you very much. Let our fenced in 2 acres thrive. Oh my gosh, the customers will keep saying, how do you have all this already!?