Sunday, October 29, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Diffle County Commissioners and the Water Thieving Scoundrel

Diffle County is rich with water. This life force bubbles out of the ground in our rare and beautiful sand springs which in turn fills our wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes. The clear nectar pours out of our artesian wells.  With a pick and a shovel a homesteader could dig a shallow well in a couple of days and be filling cow troughs within a day after that.  Diffle County folks know the water comes from rich aquifers deep under the Pennsylvania mountains.  Our streams are clear of silt and full of native fish.  We have four trout hatcheries in full operation. The State Fish Commission doesn't stock our lakes.  They don't need to. We have plenty. Water has never been a commodity here. Water is a privileged and time-honored right of existence as it should be everywhere. And we take it for granted.

Our elected Diffle County Commissioners never even gave water regulations a second thought.  Then Baker Springs Mineral Water Company, Inc. bought Jesse Baker's 120-acre farm, drilled 3 commercial wells, and paved the driveway. Within a few months of their new ownership, Rocky Springs was rolling 30 tanker trucks a day in and out of the old Baker farm, down Diffle County roads, and across Diffle County bridges.

At their next monthly meeting, the commissioners placed "Water Thieving Scoundrel" on their Agenda list for discussion and sent a formal letter to the CEO of Baker Springs Mineral Water Company, Inc. requesting his attendance.  The letter, crafted by Doris Black, the commissioners secretary for over 40 years, read like this:


"Fish, Hunt, and Play and When You're Done- Go Away"

August 10, 2015

Jean Hunter, CEO
Baker Springs Water Co
15 Watercress Dr.
Watertown, NY

Re: Misappropriation of Diffle County Groundwater Water

Dear Mr. Hunt:

You are required to attend the County Commissioners public meeting on August 15, 2015 at 730 p.m. to discuss your removal of county  water from our aquifer without a permit or permission. 

Seriously Yours,
Donald Tanglelic
Diffle County Commissioners 

On August 15th at 7:00 p.m. in the ornately designed County Meeting Room No. 1, in front of a packed house of mostly curious (the usual crowd of meeting groupies) and a few angry citizens (adjoining property owners to the Baker farm),  the County Commissioners called the meeting to order.  Present  and seated at the was  Donald Tanglelic, Chairman,  Robert Darling, Vice -Chair, and Lawrence Busch, Secretary-Treasurer,  County Engineer Douglas Windmere, PE, and David J. Sears, Esq., County Solicitor.  Doris Black sat at a side table, her white hair most recently in curls but now coiffed and sprayed in its Sunday church best.  Sitting next to Doris was a stenographer hired by Baker Springs to record a transcript of the meeting.

The front row of the audience was reserved and empty, as per the request of Baker Springs.  Chairman Tanglelic called the meeting to order, all rose and everyone recited the pledge of allegiance.  After the audience was seated, the the representatives of Baker Springs Mineral Water Company, Inc. filed into the room.  The first three were attorneys, followed by a hydro-geologist, two engineers, a soil scientist, a representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the manager of the facility, and then Jean Hunter, CEO. 

Ms. Jean Hunter stood 6'1" tall in heels, had long, dark brown hair that glistened like black velvet and ended in a straight, professional cut in the small of back, just above her derriere. Her movie star figure carried just enough curves and was elegantly displayed in a tight, form fitting black cocktail dress, wholly inappropriate for a county meeting.  The room fell into silence as she sat down in the seat directly across from the commissioners.  She tightly crossed her legs and looked Chairman Tanglelic, tilting her head slightly to one side, her large brown eyes accentuating the beauty of her lightly freckled face. She wrinkled her upturned nose ever so slightly, and her ruby-red lips parted slightly to reveal her white, television-ready teeth. 

"Good evening Commissioners" said Ms. Jean Hunter as she adjusted herself in her seat. "Thank you for reserving the front row. We are a large, loving family and I sometimes forget that we take up a lot of space,  I hope we haven't inconvenienced you this evening."   She smiled brightly and the room lights appeared to brighten alongside her.   All three commissioners melted into their chairs.

" I will forgive you for assuming I was man in your letter to me.  I have to admit I was surprised to read your letter and I was concerned from its tone, that you were planning something that would have the potential to harm my business."

"As you can see I brought my lawyers and hydrologists and I could allow them to speak- but they talk with less diplomacy than I do."   She smiled at the community leaders.   "I want to give something back to your community. And so my firm has been in contact with our financiers and the owners of the largest aquarium in the world.  Next month we will submit plans to Diffle County for a state of the art environmental center and aquarium, focusing on the native fish from this area.  We estimate the project will cost $265 million dollars and will include a hotel.   Are there any questions?"

Deafening silence.

Ms. Hunter stood up and smiled brightly at the commissioners.  Then she snapped her fingers and her subordinates leaped to their feet and the entire group marched out of the room, with Ms. Hunter the last to leave, turning back one last time to wave to the room of stunned citizens and their elected officials.

And that is how Difffle County ended up with the Diffle County Aquarium/Hunter Environmental Center and the rest of the country drinks from Baker Springs.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Whale Sings to the Shore - A Parable

There is a whale that watches the beach every day. He wonders to himself what will it feel like to lie upon the sand in the sun. He sings to the shore, to the sun, to the bright unknown.
His mother once told him "you cannot go there. The shore is death. There are beasts upon the shore. They will cut you into pieces. They will carry your pieces off and you will be the smoke in their chimneys, the light in their hearth, the fire that warms their bodies in the winter. You will be the food on their table."
A sand shark watches the whale, settling himself on the sandy bottom. "You sing to the shore. If you were smaller I would eat you myself. The shore is death. The sun will melt your skin into decay, the birds will peck at your lifeless eyes. They will land upon your rotting corpse and pick you clean. Then the sun will bleach your bones. The storm waves will break you into tiny pieces for crabs to carry on their backs. The land beasts will place your bones on their mantle, an ornament from the ocean's forgotten dead. Swim away whale. Swim away from the darkness of the shore."
A dolphin chases the shark away. The whale sings to the shore. The dolphin smiles. "do you wonder what it feels like to lie upon the shore, to be an air-breathing beast of the land, to have not flippers but hands? I have spoken to the land beasts but they do not know the meaning of my words . Some are large and kind but many are mean and small. They bring darkness every time they approach. We stay away, but one day they will come for us all. Swim away whale. I would chase you like the shark but you are too large, so heed my call- swim away and end your song. Death awaits upon the shore."
The whale sings to the shore. The whale swims to the shore, to feel the sun on his skin, to live on the land with the beasts called man. He hits the beach and knows he has arrived to a new life. Then he hears the words of his mother in the bright sunlight. "The shore is death" He hears the words of the shark, "The shore is death". He hears the words of the dolphin, "Death awaits upon the shore." The sun is hot. A hungry bird lands nearby. And then another. And another. And another.
A man beast appears. And then another. And then more men beasts and women and children too. They chase away the birds, they throw buckets of water onto the whale. They lay wet towels upon his skin. More and more land beasts appear and they begin to push him and roll him, to drag him and pull him.  He feels the hands upon his skin.  They are large and kind.

More man beasts arrive in small boats- they wrap ropes around his body and then all the land beasts work and strain together and slowly, so slowly they pull and push him back into the water...back into his ocean home. "Swim away whale", they say, "Swim away. The shore is death. Go dive down into the darkest depths. Go back to the ocean where you belong."
The whale sings to the shore, to the sun, to the approaching darkness, to the bright unknown.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Diffle County Truths- The Everybody Principle

There is one simple Diffle County truth that rings true year after year, generation after generation and that is everybody knows everybody.  While that may appear to quite impossible, everyone who lives here actually knows everyone else who lives here. We know where the strangers are living too.  And not one of us  "Difflers"  will rent out our home to strangers from other lands. That would require proper cleaning and adding amenities.

When Aunt Mary Rose  (everyone calls her Aunt Mary and everybody agrees we have no idea who she is related to) received a mailer that an internet vacation rental company wanted to list her summer home in Maine for vacation rentals, she nearly melted down like a grilled cheese sandwich at the diner  ( she actually was at the diner when this happened ).

"Well,  the extra income would be nice" she said to her neighbor Rudith Holmes who sat across from her in one of the the older booths in the original section of the diner ( two additions on opposite ends turned a 30 seat diner into a 120 seat restaurant but the locals prefer the original section ).  Rudith blew her nose into the napkin and then used it to wipe her mouth.  I know- that is kind of gross but everybody knows you only get one napkin unless you ask for another.  Rudith stuffed a thin, dry, bite-sized portion of pork chop she had just sawed off the main course into her tiny, prim mouth.

"I don't know why I order the boneless pork chop here.  Everyone knows that shoe leather is boneless too." she griped back at Aunt Mary, who was mixing her corn with her mashed potatoes, right next to over-sized slice of meatloaf,  " and I am not very sure if this is pork chop or shoe leather."  Ask anyone in town. Rudith Louise Cynthia Holmes complains a lot.

"Rudith I tell you every time do NOT order the stuffed pork chops and then you order it anyway. Now just stop your complaining. Everyone can hear you and we don't need everybody knowing our business." Aunt Mary sipped on her unsweetened iced tea through a plain, white straw, standard issue at the Westville Diner.

"Now if I rented out the Maine house when I wasn't there then I couldn't just pack up my bags, grab Forty-Niner  (there isn't a person in Diffle County who doesn't know that the medium-sized , multi-colored Cockapoo named Forty-Niner belongs to Aunt Mary) and head North for a few days.   I would also have to buy new towels, new sheets, and remove all my personal belongings.  And then total strangers would be living in my house, doing whatever they wanted on my furniture."   Aunt Mary filled her mouth with a fork-full of corn/mashed potato/meatloaf, chewing silently.  However, the money would be helpful, she thought.

"I was having breakfast here yesterday morning when I overheard Pastor Thompkin's wife, complain about having rented out their home for two weeks while they traveled and they came home to over twenty thousand dollars worth of damage to their house." Aunt Mary signaled the waitress to bring a box.  "She said her husband spoke words to the Lord that she never even knew existed."

Rudith started sawing off another slice.  " Ginnie Radcliffe told me that everyone in church knows he has a wicked tongue, forged by the devil.  Serves him right for trying to turn the parsonage into a vacation rental. You know everyone I talk to to agrees with me."  She sighed as she ate another piece of diner shoe, this time adding gobs of gravy to wetten the slide down her aging throat.

Aunt Mary looked over at the counter seat, where Frank Kagen was sitting. Frank turned to face Aunt Mary and smiled a hello.  Aunt Mary frowned.  "Mr. Kagen, Whatever are you staring at?"

"Aunt Mary, I couldn't help overhearing your conversation with Rudith.  I know some folks who rented out their home for the weekend last summer for two thousand dollars.  Everybody is talking about it.  Thought you should know."Frank turned back to his plate of creamed chipped beef on toast.

"While that is a lot of money,  I just don't think the aggravation is worth it.  Are you on you lunch break, Mr. Kagen?"  Aunt Mary peered down through her readers that were perfectly perched on the end of her nose.

"Yes Ma'am.  Just taking a short break."  Frank replied.

"Mr. Kagen,  Every man, woman, and child in Diffle County knows you haven't worked a steady job in fifteen years.  Your poor wife has had to work night shifts at the County Hospital to keep a roof over your head. And here  you sit at the diner for hours every day.  You aught to be ashamed. "

Frank Kagen chuckled at Aunt Mary. "If you want to know more about my life come on over and move right in.  You can sleep in the spare bedroom.  You know the one we shared about ten years ago when Molly started working the night shift? Everybody was talking about us back then, Mary."

Aunt Mary clucked her tongue as she walked past Kagen to pay the bill at the counter, her nose firmly up in the air.  Rudith remained in the booth, smirking slightly as she finished her meal.  There wasn't a person in Diffle County who didn't remember Aunt Mary's affair with Frank. Molly Kagen came home early one night due to a stomach virus and found Aunt Mary and Molly's serial cheating husband Frank naked in the spare bedroom.  Molly chased that Aunt Mary over a mile down Main Street at three o'clock in the morning, only stopping once to fill Aunt Mary's unclothed ass with a shotgun blast of rocksalt.

Aunt Mary slid into to her shiny black, mint condition, 1979 Lincoln Continental with tinted windows and backed out onto highway.  As she was blindly backing onto the state road, Grinold Township Supervisor Big Don was pulling into the parking lot. He shook his head as her car backed out onto the main highway, forcing a tractor-trailer to lock up his air brakes to avoid crushing her and her car.

"Thank goodness everybody knows Aunt Mary never looks when she backs out of the diner onto the main road.  Otherwise she would've been T-boned by now."  Big Don shook his head in disbelief as he parked the township truck at the Westville diner where he would hold court for the next two hours, something everybody complains about but never directly to Big Don.

(Diffle County is a pretend place located in Eastern Pennsylvania near the Kittatiny Ridge. All characters are fictional and any resemblance  to real country folk is incidental and unintended, generally speaking.)

The Coyote Lyric Video