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greenhouse & pigs

Jan. 28th, 2006 | 10:28 am

Item 1) It's time to get the greenhouse ready. I'll be d'ed if this celery is going to beat me so badly again this year. I'm going to start it in February this time. I might start onions early too. The problem is it's expensive to heat the greenhouse. Charlie's Greenhouse swears that bubble wrapping your greenhouse will cut down on the expense by 46%. They sell bubble wrap in rolls. So now I've got to bubble wrap the thing. No easy task but double sticky tape will make it easier. Charley's sells a roll for $10. One roll is enough for 2 roof panes. With 24 roof panes, 24 wall panes and about a dozen end panes, what do you think? Will I save 46% this year? Am I being hustled here? I could do the math or just buy Scotch brand double sticky. I can do the whole greenhouse for $40 with Scotch.

Item 2) My friend Liz has a haunted barn. It was built in the 1700s, Washington actually slept there, the beams are a foot thick and made of chestnut, obviously from a time when America still had chestnut trees. In addition to the ghost which the paranormals she hired to inspect and certify the place as ghost free told her says "help me," she keeps two horses. Their stalls are twice the size of stalls in any respectable place anywhere else. This barn is to die for. She also has an old pig named Alvin. I've never been much a pig woman myself, but do I like Alvin. Now. Alvin is a bore. I'd never seen a bore before. I had no idea the domesticated variety had tusks. Alvin looks like something out of Africa. If Liz hadn't been around to reassure me, I'd have been afraid of Alvin. I'm not much of an animal person to begin with and these prehistoric types with their tusks look like nothing but savage to me.

One day this week, when Liz was going to be home late from work, she asked us to bring in her two horses and feed them. In the daytiime I love old haunted buildings--insane asylums, prisons, tuberculosis hospitals, barns the size of theaters with real stages from the time before multiplexes were all the rage. But at night, I'll admit, I'm scared. Liz asked us during the day, when the sun was still up. We said yes. By the time the horses needed to be fed night had fallen.

We were doing okay with the horses, but a creepy sound kept coming from the far stall. The one around the corner. The one next to the cemented room that had hooks in the ceiling and ropes hanging down from the hooks. Why cement? For easier cleanup after the ...? What were the hooks for? The ropes? What horrible things had been done to innocent creatures in that part of the haunted barn? I remained calm and identified the sound to be Alvin and realized he was probably very hungry because Liz was very late. Then that scene in the second Hannibal Lecter movie popped into my head. You know the one. The one with the pigs. If you didn't see that movie, let me just give you a hint about those pigs. They weren't very friendly. And they were hungry like Alvin. The noise in the slaughter part of the barn kept getting louder and more urgent. I wondered why Alvin hadn't come out charging with his tusks and all. He wasn't locked in as far as I could tell. Was he dying? Would I be blamed? Would Liz be mad? He finally quieted and I hoped he had died. I felt sad for Liz, but at the same time relieved for me. And I didn't peep around the corner to check just in case he hadn't actually died. What if all this time he had no idea there was food walking around just for the stabbing. Why alert him to our presence?

Liz finally made it home. I hesitated to tell her about the noise coming from the last stall. She was very concerned about her horses and didn't ask about Alvin at all. I thought about not saying anything, maybe she wouldn't discover poor Alivn had starved to death until morning. But then thought better of it. I told her I might have heard Alvin grunting or maybe even in pain back in the stall around the corner. She laughed at herself for forgetting her motherly duties.

"Oh yeah," she said. "Alvin needs to be stood up." She then proceeded to the last stall past the disembowling equipment and tromped through the voluminous straw there. Alvin's stall. Buried in a blanket, in a compartment so cosy I was thinking of contacting the landlord to see about availability, was Alvin the pig. He squealed (I say squealed becauase in the literature that's what they call the pig sound, but in reality it was an ear-piercing whale, or whine, or scream much like that of bloody murder) and squirmed with his little short legs when he saw Liz. She pulled the blanket from around him and stood him up on his feet. (He's a small pig, still he's got those tusks). He immediately calmed himself and set about grunting in thanks. He was obviously happy, not dying or dead. And now the world was once again right for him. Alvin was very cool.

"Twice a day," Liz said. "Twice a day, Alvin needs to be stood up."

I am just not an animal person.


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