May 29, 2012

But That's The Display!

"The Display Model"

But that's the display!
By John R. Greenwood

Mrs G. and I were putting the finishing touches on our flower planting Saturday afternoon and we came up a bit short on the potting soil. I could have sifted out a wheelbarrow full from my dwindling compost pile but decided to make a speed run to the garden center down the road. We'd had good luck with a brand I purchased there earlier in the spring. I headed out solo. When I first got there I moseyed around the trees and shrubs for awhile because that's what men do when they are alone with a check book and a pickup truck. Because I am cheap I usually wait until the shrubs are dry, brown and half-half price, I vowed to return in late September. I headed inside to grab the two bags of the potting soil I came for. After standing in line for 300 seconds, while my hair proceeded to finish greying, I was finally summoned to Register #2. Register #2 was staffed by Miss Not So Perky. I wasn't expecting Kelly Ripa, after all it was 4:30 on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, on Memorial Day, at a garden center. She was wilting and ready to go party with Paris Hilton and Snoop Dog. I was Burgess Meredith in a dirty overstuffed t-shirt pointing at bags of potting soil. Potting soil propped up in a display so quaint it looked like a photo shoot for Farmer's Friend Magazine. Let's just say, I knew the facial expression that was coming next. 
"Which one, the peat moss?" 
"No, the potting soil. Here I wrote down the number."
"The Miracle Grow?" 
"No, the other one. The organic one."
"The Mulch?" 
"NO, the Espanoma bag!"  (The name brand is actually Espoma, I realized later)

That's when she looked at me like, "I wish you were in a nursing home not a nursery right now!"

"Two bags?"
"Yes, please, two bags."

That's when I pulled out the check book. 
The look intensified.

"Is there any out front?"
"No, you have to take this un-legible, one-inch by two-inch, smudge-faded receipt out back to the other customer service specialist and he will, with the skill of a trained professional hunt down your prey." 

"Oh, okay"
When I can remember them, and they are simple, I follow directions fairly well. I jumped in the truck and pulled slowly out back. 

Out back is a parking lot. It's a graveyard of splintered old pallets, piles of stuff, and mountains of peat moss. 
Not a soul in sight.
Not a pallet of Espoma potting soil either! 
Oh wait! There in the distance, like the beacon of a far off Maine lighthouse, I spotted a lone bag of my potting soil of choice. I pegged the throttle. That baby was mine! It had a corner torn off. Normally I would disregard it like a pint of short coded sour cream, but not today. I had a lined truck bed and the moon would be up soon. I grabbed it and tossed it in. Still no customer service specialist in sight. At this point I had scoured around out back for so long I was concerned I might run out of gas. I know what's next. I wish I had taken those Advil. 

So back upfront I go, park the truck, unfold the crumpled receipt, take a deep breath, start counting to ten; one, two…

 I signal to Miss Not So Perky who seems to be prepping for her prompt departure. 

"There are no more bags of the potting soil I already paid for. I only found one torn bag. 

___________________________ was the look I got. 

"Let me get Stock Specialist Sammy Letmecheckoutback, I'll have him check out back."
"I already looked everywhere. I found one torn bag. There isn't anymore Espoma within twelve miles."
"I'll have Sammy check just in case your so old and blind you missed an entire pallet of bright green bags a normal person my age could see from across Route #9."
Now I hear the theme from Jeopardy wafting through the PA system
Five minutes later Sammy Letmecheckoutback returns looking like an old-school Endicott Johnson shoe salesman. 
"We're out."
I look around and see Miss Not So Perky ducking down behind the counter. I think she going to make a run for the door.
I look Sammy square in the eye and with all the strength I can muster say, "Why can't I just take that bag?" 
There nestled proudly in the display of hay bales and bags of all things dirt, sat the last bag of the potting soil of choice, Espoma, bright green and ready to go for a ride. 
"Oh, I thought you were already taking that one" 
When my eye stopped twitching I showed Sammy my receipt, pointed to the bag on the back of my truck, pointed to the bag on THE DISPLAY, and reached for the Holy Grail with a UPC number written on it. 

I tucked both cubic feet under my arm like I used to do with my screaming three year old and bolted for the parking lot like Walter Payton. 
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of Miss Not So Perky drafting close behind.

I save my super powers for days like this. She never had a prayer of catching me. I tossed the sweet dirt in the truck bed and sped off like McQueen in The Getaway. 

I waved proudly as I thundered north on Route #9. 

As I glanced up in the review mirror I whispered softly, "Don't fret Miss NSP, you'll just have to get a black marker and write #007280 on a fresh bag when it comes in next April"

Happy Shopping Everyone! 

* Please note: I love supporting local businesses and the youth of America. Many years ago I was both. I wrote this for fun based on my interpretation of an everyday hunk of life. I will continue to write large checks at this location. I urge you all to do the same. You should see our flowers!  

May 25, 2012

Broken Parts

Broken Parts
By John R. Greenwood

a gentle giant weak from stress and strain
a spring battle lost
one more ring deep within
giants break too
with years and layers
deep wounds
summers followed by winters bring
a majestic display of nature
one tiny seed
so long
long ago

my attention turns to the mirror
an ache
a weak knee

Submitted to Poetry Pantry #100

May 24, 2012

"Honor" Memorial Day 2012

By John R. Greenwood

The word I most attribute to those in uniform. Men and women who risk life and limb to protect and provide freedom and liberty for me; a faceless neighbor. Men and women with families of their own who wait at home with held-breathe and prayer filled mind. Bravery drenched individuals who face fear head-on because they believe the wind filled flag on my front porch. Honor has many synonym's, like integrity and virtue, morality and character. The word honor stands above because it encompasses them all. Honor clothed in uniform gives me chills when taps are played or an anthem sung. The courage within, the selfless sacrifice without hesitation. I admire them all. I thank them deep inside and twice as wide. I swell with American pride when I see a soldier squat to grasp a charging child. I love my country. I hold close the hearts of the men and women who protect it. On this Memorial Day 2012 I salute all who serve my country; past, present, and future. 

My submission for this week's Think Tank Thursday

May 20, 2012

Dump Run

   Dump Run
By John R. Greenwood

Man-heaven must include at least one dump run every 6 months. Pickup trucks are a given. Sorting and disposal are in your control. With the window rolled down and the music up loud, life has a special feel. Man-heaven with a pedal and a day off. It's not work. It's dirt under the nails, the smell of fermented leaves and fescue kickstarting your pulse. Once you dig a hole in that long forgotten corner of the garage the heart rate adds a beat or two. Pulling on that pair of crusty leather gloves mimics the goalie prepping for the third period with the game tied. The experience more intense when the sky is blue and the air spring-fresh and moving. There's nothing more

exhilarating than being in the first wave at the dump, knowing the rookies are just slapping the snooze for the fourth time and you have a shot at three loads before noon! Living the good life with an eight foot truck bed and a pile of stuff with no where left to go. Brooms, shovels, and maybe a hayfork for the pro's, all tools of the happy. A nice deep splinter or two makes it special. Boys dream of the day when the garage and truck keys are theirs, and the decision to re-shelve or toss is their own. Cleared garages and organized cellars although rare, are best enjoyed in the spring when the robins are watching and the chipmunks are in the way. 

May 16, 2012

Writing Workshop Letter

Exciting News!
It has been a while since I've been this excited over a letter in the mail. It certainly topped the, " Congratulations! You have been selected to receive a free trial subscription to AARP Magazine." Today's letter brought a childlike grin to my face that was a welcome change. The letter sent by author Jon Katz via Hubbard Hall in Cambridge was to acknowledge my being accepted to participate in their upcoming Writer's Workshop. Jon promises this project to be about encouragement and support; void of stress and criticism. Sounds good already! In his letter he suggests sharing the experience online. I like that too. Being so busy at work has kept my posts and material a bit light here lately. To be involved in such an interesting project will keep my furnace stoked and these pages moving. Our first meeting is on June 14th, a week after I turn fifty-something+, and a day before my 38th year of marriage. I've already had a pretty good ride; looks like it's time to shift to second gear. I'm not sure what to expect on the 14th but I am sure I will embrace the experience with muscles flexed and eyes wide. I have been inspired by Jon Katz and his own personal journey since the day I first met him. Having the opportunity to be a part of a like group of people is a gift I can't explain. I love hearing stories. I love telling stories. I love to write. I love life. I hope this upcoming adventure makes a tasty casserole with those ingredients. Stop in later and see how things are going. I have a few weeks to warm up the keyboard and get some new batteries for my camera. I'm not sure Mr. Katz knows it yet but I plan to squeeze some photography tips out of him. He's good you know. He's very, very good. You can check it out for yourself here. "Bedlam Farm" Tell him a Raining Iguana sent you!

May 15, 2012

Pilgrimage to a lake named Pharaoh

Pharaoh Lake

Look out trout here we come...

View of Watch Rock circa.1967
"My favorite lean-to" 
It had been forty years since I touched the waters of Pharaoh Lake in the Adirondacks. I was thirteen then and the road to Pharaoh was accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles. I remember the sadness my father felt when the road was closed for good. Somehow he knew he would never return to Pharaoh. Although he never returned in body, he did return in spirit some forty years later. My son and I made a pilgrimage there in June 2009. Armed with a couple sandwiches, fishing poles, and beautiful day, off we went for a day of reattachment to the past and reassessment of the future. From the mid to late 60’s Pharaoh Lake as a trout destination was a May ritual for my father and his closest fishing buddies. He would load up his International Scout on Thursday night. On Friday when the clock hit 3:30, my father, like Fred Flintstone would shout out a, “Yabba-Dabba-Doo,” and away we would go. From our home in Greenfield Center, NY. we would make a short visit to the IGA in Corinth for groceries. We’d continue north on Rt 9N to the freshly built Northway. On to the end of Brant Lake and the trailhead into Pharaoh. It was a methodical three mile crawl from the trailhead to the outlet of the lake. One May trip we encountered so much snow that it took several hours to winch a half-mile. When we got out into the end of the bay we were greeted by a lake still frozen solid. The ice did break up over night and go out the next day but you can imagine how cold it must have been that weekend. A weekend that ended with all the trout smiling; safe and intact. This was one of the few weekends in Pharaoh when the trout emerged victorious over dad’s handmade spoons.
"Loading the gear"
circa. 1965
View from Watch Rock 2009

May 01, 2012



By John R. Greenwood

While on expedition on the remote streets of Portsmouth NH, I discovered this ancient Incan carving. High on a sleeve of Chips Ahoy I tripped on a loose brick and fell to the ground at its base. As I struggled to my feet and brushed off my scuffed up Dockers I heard a voice coming from the carving known as "Old Tire Eyes." The voice said, "Swift move -- swift as the current of the Piscataqua." Startled and shaken I ran for the safety of the nearest Lobster House Restaurant. It was there I learned that this local landmark was not a true Incan carving. I was told it was an old parking lot marker tagged by the infamous Portsmouth gang banger who calls himself, "Popeyes." Legend has it that "Popeyes" tagged the marker in his own image and not as, "Old Tire Eyes," as was previously believed. With this news I quickly pulled the composition pad from my back pocket and began to document my discovery. Who would believe me back home in the hills of Wilton, NY. Because of the remote location and the strict New Hampshire laws that govern parking lot temples I can not disclose the exact location. You will simply have to trust the results of my investigation. What I can tell you is this; there were two sleeves of Chips Ahoy in my jacket pocket that day and the second sleeve mysteriously disappeared. Magic? I think I can now safely say I am a believer!