The blogs I read always plug music selections in as posts, something I have always felt to be "not professional" and simple identity production for the voice or the "I" of the blog. But for the past month I found myself reflecting on the past twenty plus years as a listener of the "Tragically Hip." I have a draft for a entry in the scrap heap that gets too long, but its point is that in many ways Buffalo Horticulture's "Border Gardening" dreams a nostalgia of time growing up in the landscape and horticulture life. Since 1992, the soundtrack to Buffalo Horticulture has been The Tragically Hip, over the duration of which I as a listener am positioned in many different places as the band's appeal changes - at first to those of us on this side of the river, a "Canadian Alternative" band the few of us listening to CFNY out of Toronto knew. And then there was a Popular time where local radio played them. And now, twenty years later, for me to mention their importance - as the soundtrack - it would be shrugged off by those any younger than I as definitely not "Hip."
Listening, going through each cd over and over the past month, has me in constant reflection on the past - back to the first time hearing The Hip with Dan working with us at the time. The day "Grace Too" premiered on the radio and we listened in a work truck - "The '89."
Anyway. Working on a drawing this afternoon here in the studio, this un-remembered song caught my attention and I thought about the future and looking back to now with those most important today. I hope we have something as strong as "The Hip" to deliver us back to right now.
The past couple months I have been managing "Plantar Fasciitis" - a term commonly known to most runners when the tendons along the bottom of your feet tighten up because of inflammation where the tendons connect to the heel. This is an incredibly simplified explanation. Managing it involves icing your foot, massage, rolling your foot out on a tennis ball or frozen water bottle, as well as a series of additional stretches and exercises.
However, for the most part, I feel the "PF" is worst during the work day. I have arch supports I wear in both my pairs of boots. Running for the most part only seems to loosen my feet up where during the work day I notice the most sensitivity. On the weekends, when I have my "relaxed task-list" days, I practice walking slow and gingerly on my feet. I take my time. Make sure to avoid every little jarring or impact and by the end of the day my feet don't feel sharp and swollen.
It has been leading me to think about my working performance and how in a certain way I may drive my heels into the ground as I walk for effect, as if a strong heel strike can make things happen in the world.
Back in the day, my dad had a rule of work fashion that I have maintained in my years as Buffalo Horticulture. "On Wearing Shorts At Work: (1) It must be a minimum of 70 degrees (2) Shorts must have four pockets (3) a button and zipper (4) no elastic waistband (5) and must have a hem at the bottom - no cutoffs. When on the job, one is not to look like they are going to the beach."
Oftentimes during the day, especially when working on monotonous tasks where one performs the same movements over and over for an extended time, I drift away into consideration. Lately I have been asking myself about dress at work as I try to strike a balance between Buffalo Horticulture's identity and the individuals who compose it. While on the one hand, I like to think that my choice of work attire is on the radical edge of conventional construction clothing, none the less, for the most part I wear a plain white T-shirt, Levis jeans, and Red Wing work boots - seemingly a very plain and conservative assembly.
My questioning is: "How far can one stray from such a model while still identifying themselves as 'one who builds things in the world." Of course, certainly one can wear just about anything and still make constructions. But. Can they really? How much of building and learning takes place in a certain habitual state in the world where one is always attending to certain details - and without taking on such an identity, is that intensity of attunement possible?
On Attunement: I was coming up Grant Street this morning on my way back from Neimeic Builder's Supply. There is a newly fenced off construction site at Grant and Potomac which I noticed on my way up. As I came towards the intersection I noticed a dump truck pulling an excavator on a trailer swing out into the street on a trajectory to back into the construction site. I sat patiently watching a very well executed back in of the triple axle trailer of which each axle needs to be slowly crept over the curb. It all happened very quickly - one pull out into traffic, a cut of the wheel, slowly creeping each axle over the curb, getting out of the way to wave traffic by, to then pull up and make the final approach to unload their machine. There was some sub-grade constructions that had already been made that the driver was maneuvering around and as I passed by I looked up into the cab to see the driver leaning over into his mirror trying to expand his field of vision.
I thought about Caitlin. She wants to drive the trucks. And I wondered, "Does she want to drive enough to the point where she notices other trucks and how they are operated?" And what does it say, that as I sit here in traffic, backed up by this truck that I am watching every move made. I suspect all those around me had their attentions captured by everything but the drivers posture and how the truck worked to get each tire over the curb.
Three points before we set off:
1. I assembled this as I cooked a perfect Sirloin tip roast. So delicious.
2. Happy Birthday to Ferncroft Floral. Three years today and the movement is gaining momentum.
3. Soundtrack for this post: Tragically Hip "Now For Plan A."
Being behind in my domestic production, I just kept the grind on after I left the jobsite. I got a run in, made a trip to Wegman's, and hustled home to cook up the chicken I had in the refrigerator so lunch would be ready to go tomorrow. On my way out of Wegman's I dropped a text, "Hey. Stop over. I have beer and food," of which I had little hope of being answered. But Jenny responded she was on her way.
Walking my groceries up the front porch I felt excited with a sensed "I just want someone to talk to," a phrase I've been carrying around for a few days, one I've heard a million times, but here for whatever reason this single repeat struck a chord, something reverberated, and the cliché of its use melted into the liquid of my body with a real sense to it - this way one grasps, adheres to, or gains traction to the real of the world.
This adhesion had everything to do with my kitchen. [Next text sent to Jenny: "My house is a mess, Sorry."] I haven't cleaned in my kitchen, bathroom, or really done anything other than laundry and a minimum of dishes in two months. Yet as the prospect of Jenny coming over developed, I recognized - looking at the single chair I keep in my kitchen - if someone would just sit there for an hour and talk to me every once in a while, my kitchen would be clean all the time.
As I waited, a couple pots and pans were cleaned. The layers were scraped off the cutting board. I opened a beer. There were a few text message conversations going on that I imagine to be with other empty kitchens. Jenny arrived. I finished my chicken preparation and we then headed out to the porch making it in time to watch a quick rain fall from the clouds.
Unfortunately we couldn't really talk. The house across the street is inhabited by a violent pack of off road dirt bike riders. Amazingly this fashion has made its way into my West Side neighborhood for the summer. I hope it is short lived. And, the violence is really only the noise of the bikes. The young adults hug each other and post videos of their wheelies and burnouts to YouTube and Facebook while they test out their bikes up and down the road. After one or two lengths of the block they race back up the driveway to their garage where they tinker with the carburetor or something for a couple minutes and then race back out for a couple more passes by my front porch. At one point a kid spilled his bike falling to the street. My hands were glued over my face for three minutes. There were laughs and more hugs.
Jenny said to me, "I don't even understand what they're doing." I speculated, "Well, I think this is the 2016 expression of "the motor-head" or "grease-monkey" - they all get together and tinker about, not their hot rods but the dirt bikes." Jenny scanned me with her eyes in disbelief, seeing my running shorts that hardly cover my hips, and says "How would you know anything about that world."
"Well. Back in the day, out in the town, it wasn't dirt bikes but dump trucks, bull dozers, and excavators. Everyone around me was in the business, but all small and you had to do your own repair and maintenance work to whatever equipment you ran. So, at night, Kenny would be replacing the king pins in his Ford, or the Donnor's would be replacing an oil seal, or Eddie would be welding some body repairs - and you grabbed a six pack of beer and stopped over to who's ever shop was lit up. And if I was working, everyone would gather at mine. Its how we spent the nights because the work always needed to get done, and I think to keep pushing through, working all night, you just needed people to show up, people to talk to."
Landscape designer and Proprietor of Buffalo Horticulture