Dateline Farm, Tape Measure, Missouri

I could use a tape measure down here.  A window in the back room is out, gone.  The room is open to the world.  I see no glass about the floor nor outside, below.  Plastic sheeting must have been there before.

I pull into the back window drive thru.

“What’ll it be today, chief?”

“Yeah, I’d like a stretch o’ plexi, run about forty-one and three-quarters across by twenty-eight and three-quarters in height.”

“Would you like to super size that?”

“I just told you exactly the size I wanted.”

“How about a Coke?”

It would go good with the Sailor Jerry I happened upon here back in August, confiscated, stashed in the shed.

“Yeah, give me the Coke.  And a big fry.”

I call Helm and tell him about the window.  At first I didn’t think anyone had been in the place but then I looked at the defunct stove and noticed that something was missing from atop it.

“I think someone mighta taken the coffee maker, man.”

“Naw, it’s probably there, check the laZy susan.”

Indeed, the coffee maker was in the lazy susan.  The apple cider vinegar was also still here, all that mother settling like ore to the bottom of the bottle.  Days earlier I had bought some black pepper style pea snap snacks for my wife, who shunned them hard.  I brought them down and will stash them for some(one’s) future use.

I’ve found over these last several years of my life that my favorite hobby concerns this Farm.  I have developed a fascination with the place.  I love bringing things down and stashing them here.  Then when I return a quarter of a year later—is it still here?  Do I even remember having stashed it?  I get a kick out of that moment, “Oh yeah, I did bring down a tube of marine caulk, awesome!”

I am looking at a jar of marinara—yeah, you read that right, mar-i-nar-a—not mine.  It carries an expiry of 8.30.2019.

There are parts of four rolls of paper towels.  The fridge is not on.  What is in it is getting mildewy and I will abscond with it and chuck it.  It’s the usual suspects: sweet and sour mix, ketchup, mustard, another mustard, mustard number three!  Two waters, an A1, some Sweet Baby Ray’s, another ketchup, some chili garlic sauce.  Baking soda.

“Box of baking soda, you are relieved of duty!”

The freezer is completely empty and totally defrosted.  The electric kettle is still here.  The Bose is still here.  I’m going to leave these choice items undisturbed.  It’s just me tonight.  For coffee in the morning I could use the percolator I left down here.  I go and check the mini Weber kettle on the back porch where I’ve geocached multiple items, including the red percolator.  It’s still there.  I’ve got a pair of gloves in there that are riddled with stick-like burrs, a la Pinhead.  There’s an old bag of ground coffee in there that is probably about a year old.  Time to go.

I will leave a tube of Walgreens sunscreen, SPF 50, good through December 2018.  Get bakin!  I am stashing it in the old fridge.  I tried but could not locate the old shower liner I thought I had stashed down here, amidst the prime pieces of wood on the back porch.  They took all the wood, we knew.  I didn’t even think about the shower liner until now.  Who would take an old shower liner?  Maybe they, too, had discovered the value of an old shower liner.

I brought down a surplus ball glove.  I carry around in the boot of the Subaru the glove I played with in high school.  Now if anyone wants to play catch down here I will have two gloves.  I wedged the surplus glove, black leather, behind the big TV in the middle room of the house.

There is foil.  There is bug spray.  There is newspaper but I should bring some more.  I’m leaving one of my good (red drawstring) plastic bags on the back porch, rolled up.


The sun is lowering and lowering.  Hugo and I were in the pasture.  I was on the phone with Helm.  But the cows were approaching from at least two directions.  Hugo was beginning to feel defensive.  We hotfooted it back to the fence.

The light trickling away, I’m torn between enjoying what’s left of it by continuing to sit out here on the stoop or starting preparations for the colder dark by firing up the wood stove.  Time moves fast down here tonight!

The dishcloths seemed wet in their drawer so I laid them out all over the kitchen, on the backs of chairs and draped over the counter spaces.  I was searching for a tape measure in there, one of Helm’s favorite caches.  Plenty of Sharpies in there, cutting boards, too.  But no tape measure.  I ended up grabbing an old yardstick from the rafters in the back porch.  There is also a brand new Lowe’s measuring stick on the table in the first corner bedroom.

I’m thinking of things I need to do before it gets dark and before I souse myself.  I need to get Harry’s ladder back in.  Hugo is getting cold.  I need to put his fleece on him.  I have set up three chairs on this stoop to make it look like the only person here is not me.


Smoke in the house now!

Tears in my eyes.

I’m listening to a skein of fantasy baseball podcasts.  I’ve got Hugo’s coat on him.

The fire took well enough but wow the smoke.  The wood shavings—and there’s a tick.  Damn.  Crawling on my hand.  Not an innocuous arachnid.  Was it on this stand out here on the stoop?  On my pen?

At 17:47 I add a layer.  Hugo is shivering.  I’ll get him inside.

Two minutes later we are inside.  I flip the light switch, screw in the overhead bulb.  The podcasters are keeping me company and they don’t even know it.  Two Busch deep I’m now drinking the Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA bomber.  It is delicious.

I am burning constituent pieces of a wood frame I once had stretched a canvas over.  On the canvas was a de Kooning ripoff I attempted.  It was not good.  The canvas is years gone.  The frame I found useful to hang laundry upon.  Only last week did I give up that ghost entirely.

It is now air-clear in here enough to close the back door(s).

I put a piece of ash in the wood stove and the ash is popping.  Was ash the identity of what my dad called “hedge wood” when he burned it in that as-yet-unequaled wrap-around fireplace in the home of my earliest days?  The fireplace with the stone ledge my brother, playing the balloon game with me—keep it from touching the ground!—cracked his head open upon, his blood flowing like lava, an emergency room trip certainly required, and stitches, the most ardent prayer of my life said thereto.

I cut that ash a year ago.  I don’t want to be alone here tonight.  For a couple of reasons.  I hope I will just sleep.

I cannot fail to mention the dead ‘dillo.  It was right out in front of the house.  Its carcass appeared not too old, not too fresh.  It stank.  I got it onto a shovel and flung its body into the pasture.  I had never handled a ‘dillo before.  They are capable of carrying the bacteria that in humans causes leprosy.


I haven’t eaten anything yet.  Not since an apple in the car.  The light is almost gone.  I want to sleep hard.


I’m making the move to the tent, slowly.  Gotta brush my teeth—and floss.  Floss first of course!

How prevalent is mental illness among sharks?

It’s good humor time.  This ink is the color of mint.

I reach out of the tent for vodka.  The fantasy baseball podcast retinue continues.

Someone comes along the road with music going.  How or when would I realiZe they were coming this way?  I am slightly spinning.  Some pot would make me feel real good for forty minutes, then inhibitively paranoid, which is why I brought none.  No nicotine either.  I thought about cigarettes leading up to and then along the course of the drive, especially in the Mobil station in St. James, where I filled up the Subaru with gas, the tank an eighth full, $35.17.  But that freight includes filling up the saw gas container with one-plus gallons of unleaded, topping off the little bit of two-cycle oil I had already poured in.  I stashed that container in the shed.  I had one likewise on the back porch but it was stolen—what it contained was old, they were welcome to those contents.  This new container I tried to hide.  I want to be able to rely on it as a fallback, the gasoline in it now fresh for a while at least.


Still, I wish I had some pot.  I would smoke it right now.  I am listening to podcasts, drinking vodka, writing this, keeping Hugo company (he me!)  It is not that late.  Not at all.

I reach out, I get the vodka.  On the baseball podcast, a guy says he’s been Foltynewicz, getting paid to write about baseball for four years.  Who is this guy?  I have never heard of him.  Who is he and where is this writing of his the last four years that’s better than mine the last four years?  Hell.

Diesel engine out there.  Pot at dawn, or cigarettes, would be amaZing.

***Friday becomes Saturday***

4:47  Dateline Farm.  Vodka breath.  Hugo just retched in the tent.  It’s wake up time!

4:55  Not a coal in the stove.

I need an exothermic reaction!

Teens of Style playing in the kitchen at Farm?  I miss Helm!

(ash smudge at the bottom of the page)

5:15  The stove is going.  The music is via my phone.  Hugo is curled in his bed, under the table.  He is not quite loving this.  Coffee brewing!

I did not hear anything in the night.   I got up once to take a leak.  The new air mat held up.  It was kind of cold.  “Oh! Starving”, a Farmhouse classic.  The bete noir.

Coffeetown, USA.

“Makin’ coff-eee.”

Camping 2018.  I’m on the board at last.

I step outside and look up, slap in the face.  The Dipper.  It’s up there.  Still Dippin!

5:31  Honey locust, ash, pine frame, oak shards from the U City wood lot, it’s a fire party in the old Jewell Enterprise.  It’s 52° inside the kitchen.  I’ve closed the doors now that the stove is up and running.  I want to get that temp higher for Hugo.

I left my charger cord in the tent.  I went back up to retrieve it—and a pair of glasses.  I grabbed the slightly dented vodka handle and set it near the shed.  I’ll stash it in a while.  I marked it up good with a Helm-drawer Sharpie yesterday, before I even cracked it.  My phone battery was at 70% before I started the tunes but it’s crashed to 35%.  The battery is shot, that’s all.  They don’t last forever!

5:40   It is now 57° in here.  This stove does not mess around.  After going back to the tent—again!—for my car keys—duh!—I can tell you this:  It’s cold out there.  My best move in all of this was packing a pair of long johns.  I am hereby adopting this corollary:  anything south of 40° for camping, I bring a pair of long johns.  Why play games?  It’s about 33° according to the thermometer mounted on the house’s north exterior.  I believe it to be an accurate thermometer.  I wasn’t too cold overnight but I wasn’t cozy either.

The stove itself is showing a temperature of 200° in its cooking chamber.  Not bad for the early going.  Can’t cook a tater with that though.

“I like them french-fried po-taters.”

It’s near six a.m.  Hugo time.

6:09  Potato on the stove.  Bring a can of pumpkin down here.  And some dog food.  Why not?  Plenty of light now.

6:19   It is 63° in the kitchen.  The potato is siZzlin.

Buy and bring items necessary to put a good close on the pump room door: a large fish-eye hook and loop, a drill (buy a good drill, finally, will you), drill bits.

I cannot wait to be down here with other folks.

Asking you to marry me is the only good decision I’ve made since graduating high school.

These KanZi apples—a revelation.

I open the door and the temp falls to 60°.

There is plenty of foil here, ample cooZies.  I put my veg sandwich on the stove because the tater is taking its sweetass time.

I’m leaving that marinara pouch down here.  And I’m leaving this lousy coffee down here too.  In the coffee can, don’t forget.

—Farm, 3.10.2018