Big Potato Stories

When we lived in Chicago, our life was so arranged that I didn't usually have to fight the masses, at the worst times anyway. We had Milady's mother and other family and friends as our social life and their support with our young kids; as a native, she knew how to navigate the city (and where not to navigate) and helped this transplanted Okie get pretty good at it. We were constantly reminded, though, that we most assuredly were living in an amazing, crowded, stinky, and sometimes dangerous polyglot of humanity. We lived in the Big Portato for fourteen years. Now twenty years behind us, as of last April. It was very good to have her family for our kids.

Only once had a tenant's not-supposed-to-live-in boyfriend threaten to beat me up like a high schooler because the heat in our building was off for a few hours while we were away. (I ignored him and only talked with the tenant.)

Only once had to kick a naked bum out of the foyer. (Funny how fast those mentally unstable people get their act together when they're told the cops are on the way.)

Only once had a gun stuck in my back. ("Step down this alley!" Right. We just kept walking. He wasn't very good at holdups; we weren't very good at being held up.)

Only once felt like my family was about to be crushed by a surging crowd. (We had to get into the water to skedaddle down the beach out of there, missing the rest of the airshow.)

Only once had a prostitute proposition me. (Ugly, skinny, old grandma with gray-brown skin, but with impish eyes; I'm sure she was just teasing me, knew I wasn't going to be interested. Feeling evangelical, I actually stopped and chatted with my gap-toothed sister for a moment, without trying to be, you know, too preachy… or look to onlookers like I was interested! It's a living, she explained with a semi-toothy grin. Whew!)

Now, what's not to love about a life like that!

Yesterday morning, Milady and I were standing west of the house, looking for a trio of ladderback or pileated woodpeckers I'd glimpsed earlier. I think they're nesting up in one of the giant Ponderosas my grandfather planted a hundred years ago. (By the way, Okla. Ag. Dept. insists this is not a good place for pines. Ha ha ha.) The woodpeckers are remarkably elusive. I glimpse them, then they're around the back of the trunk.

We didn't see Woody & family, but just then a pair (at least) of bald eagles began soaring above us, gliding back and forth, crossing and criss-crossing directly overhead. One jetted over the South pasture, turned and skimmed out of sight far to the South-East, then I see a shadow, look up, and see he has soared back over us, coming directly out of the sun. Another bigger one flew by with something dangling in its beak. We're silly; even though they were high up, we were waving, you know, knowing how well they can see us.

There were ungainly, inelegantly-flapping turkey vultures circling also, just to make the eagles look all the more impressive. Raptors, I said to Milady, we've got some big raptors (also have golden eagles, also predators like owls); and unlike Jurassic Park's velociraptors, ours fly! To those birds, our new (but not young) little black kitty would be lunch. Fortunately, they'd probably rather have rabbit than grab a spitfire like Faithful.

Here's a video from a year and a half back of the kind of intruders we deal with on the farm frequently.

We've got no current garden, and really haven't proved very good at gardening, but, even so, we have enjoyed gourds, melons, strawberries, cherries, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, and wild garlic and I'm sure I'm forgetting several crops, directly from our land, over the years. When the volunteer peach tree had a good year, Milady made pies. Mmmm. Fresh hot home-grown home-made peach pie!

I know just what you're thinking: how can we stand it, when we could be living in a third-floor walk-up in Uptown, with all the variety and culture of a major urban center at our feet?

We endure. Somehow, we endure.