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Holy StandUp Matters

In April of this year I began preparing a new organic gardening patch,
planning to have it ready for next year’s expansion from a too-small garden
in front of my recently acquired Connecticut Cape Cod home.

I have neighbors toward southern exposure and behind,
between the Thames River and my sunset-facing backyard.

Here, next to an old, but still purposeful,
forest green fresh-painted deck
lies a mix of some rich dark soil
and some topsoil with unpromising smears of gravel stones
scraped off a dirt driveway
that turned to mud when wet
before I installed a pressed gravel drive last month.

Anyway,
next to the repurposed green deck
lies my new garden incubation project.

I rescued my deck floor last fall
from the bowels of a thorny bramble mountain,
some woody stalks obscenely pushing between heavy 2×6 planks,
now upper faced with little green stubs
since I rolled my lavish green porch paint.
But, the old railing around three sides was beyond rescue.
No longer with us, I’m sorry to say.

A sun exposed potential spot for a garden
emerged from my bramble mountain on the south side of the slightly raised deck,
about eight yards long on each of three sides.
I laid out my cardboard boxes,
stored in the grotesquely damp basement since I finished unpacking
last fall.
After soaking the cardboard,
I covered it with a combination of compost,
top soil harvested from elsewhere on this property,
and peat moss.
Then I spread four to six inches of leaves over all that.

While I wait for this to transform into healthy nutritional soil,
I have been religiously peeing on the leaves.

At first I only reenacted this baptismal ritual under cover of night,
not so much out of modesty
as motivated by kindness,
as the sight of the elderly pasty white man who just moved in next door
outside exposing his peeing penis
might offend fragile first impressions of a fairly sane person
who might be expected to behave more reliably
with regard to neighborly decorum
and more traditional liturgical events.

More recently I started peeing in a yogurt container by daylight,
huddled up against the back porch door
where at least only my backside could ever become visible
to only the backside neighbor, so to speak,
who seems to be something of an ass.
But then, who isn’t?
Then I take my yogurt cup of warm pee
and toss it out across the leaves blanketing my next-year garden plot.

This ritual feels generous,
like sprinkling my soil with nutritional holy water,
of which I do have some, but far less,
yet perhaps a bit too much,
experience as a seminarian some decades ago.
Ah yes,
memories of peeing with the other would-be angels.

Now I am concerned that I could use a great deal more urine
for my organic farming purposes.
Perhaps I should come out of my yogurt closet,
send out a note to my nearby neighbors:

“Hi. Just want to invite you to come over and pee
on the leaf-covered triangular spot
next to the south side of my deck,
anytime of day or night you wish.
Feel free to include your pets.
Make it a family destination if you wish.
In return for your investment,
I will probably have tomatoes,
potatoes,
cucumbers,
and leeks (no pun intended)
to share,
not this season,
but next.
Maybe some extra peas too.
OK, I’m gonna’ stop now.”

“The neighborhood that pees together,
eats together.
So, come on,
please don’t leave me standing outside,
peeing alone,
preparing for next year’s yummy harvest.”

So I did.
This invitation has not generated the enthusiastic response I was imagining,
with neighborhood families dropping in
to drop off their deposits
for our neighborhood development project.
But,
it did provoke my backyard neighbor
to jam a note into my otherwise vacant mailbox:

“You mentioned,
among your commitments to recycling and repurposing,
that you are an Organ Donor.
I certainly do hope whoever gets those organic parts
has a good harvest no later than next year.
Sooner is better.”

Hmmm….
Now, how could we compost our collective humanure?

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New Neighbors

I am just finishing my morning meditation when I hear my doorbell ring. It actually sounds more like that buzzing sound you hear if you fry a fat fly on one of those electronic bug swatters. On my way to the door I hope it’s not my new neighbor who just moved in the first floor apartment below me yesterday. Nobody wants a too friendly neighbor, right? I’m from the “fences make good compassionately mindful neighbors” school of thought about neighborly interdependence, much less intimacy.

I open the door to a 60-something blotchy, ashy, white-skinned man wearing grey polyblend sweatpants, slightly too short, over a pair of black Crocs, screaming “I gave up on myself years ago,” and a lighter grey zip up the front, grimy hoody with a ripped left pocket, sleeves pushed up over old-red-haired-man, possibly ex-athlete, thick ¬†creepy hairy forearms.

Before I have a chance to let him know this feels invasive to me, or even say “Hello, who and why are you at my door during my meditation time?” the new downstairs neighbor starts flapping his jaws as if my ears were born to listen to his cheery wisdom.

“Hi, I’m Oliver. My two neurally challenged teenagers, Ivy’s the bratty girl, and Daquan is the perfect, but sometimes a little loud, sort of like a really ticked off roaring lion, but you’ll get used to it, son, and I are your new downstairs neighbors, and I wanted to meet you right away because I don’t want you to freak out and call 911 when you hear us yelling or screaming or crying or jumping endlessly hour after hour because Ivy is really hyper and because Daquan can’t speak but often seems to have a lot to bark and roar about what somtimes seems like its just gas and sometimes means he’s wet and is trying to tell me I need to put the novel down, or stop writing that dreadful sad poetry, or writing predictable lyrics for country-western songs, much less living them, and sometimes he’s just playing Tarzan, yodeling in his make-believe jungle. He’s legally blind and uses a wheelchair for school but at home he scoots and thumps around, surprisingly athletic, on his butt, kind of like an upside down inchworm if inchworms had feet and arms, if you know what I mean.”

I don’t have the first clue, actually, but we have no time, and apparently not the least commitment to discerning my own thoughts about Oliver’s communication and rationality skills, or lack thereof.

“My husband lives about a mile upriver in our cottage that we are trying to expand before the rest of us move in. He is tall, dark and handsome in an AfricanAmerican kind of way and is usually depressed, at least when he’s around us, which I can’t really blame him because Ivy is Oppositionally Ordered, I don’t know why they keep saying Fetal Alcohol kids have Oppositional Disorder because her capacity to oppose everything is most certainly not out of order, or in any way under-developed. She will pitch a fit if all you’re trying to do is get her up from her feeding trough to help her out of a poopy diaper. You would think that somebody was going to eat her food after she has already marked it with her drool. I have no idea why they would call that Oppositional Disorder. No one I have ever met has been more oppositionally wired synaptic than my daughter.”

“Anyway, Valentino, that’s my husband, he suffers from chronic depression which is too bad because he used to have this really nice soft sense of humor and romance, if you know what I mean, but now he’s just quiet and sad and afraid to retire because then he won’t have any friends that don’t drive him crazy like his family does, including me.”

“He complains that we’re too loud and the house is always filthy and my cooking is terrible but he likes to cook and clean so I don’t really get it why it’s not OK for me to not like to cook and clean, or do the laundry, or the dishes. Do you know what I mean? So, tell me about you.”

Finally, a question other than the parenthetical “do you know what I mean.”

“Ditto. Except mine are named, respectively, Poison, Tarzan, and Attila. Do you happen to like Ginseng tea with lots of honey?

 

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