Saturday, March 10, 2012

Horticulture, Homeless Dave, and Homicide

Russian scientists just grew an antique campion plant from a 32,000-year-old seed, and I can't even sprout an aster from last year's seed packet. They claim the campion seed had originally been buried in a burrow by a squirrel, where it froze solid, and was only recently recovered and prodded into life. It's hard to count that many rings in a non-woody plant, but if the age estimates prove out, it will be by far the oldest plant to have been generated. The scientists in charge are pretty confident after interviewing the squirrel in question, who was found at a local library looking for the card catalog and muttering to himself. They're excited about growing an old campion next to a new campion and studying the evolution of a plant in real time. But they'd better keep a close eye on it, or somebody might take it, like Homeless Dave.

That's what happened to our lemon. Homeless Dave was but one of a surplus of Daves we had in the neighborhood; we have enough that everyone can have one of their own. We've got Big Dave, Little Dave, Store Dave, Old Dave, New Dave, and Republican Dave, who moved away in search of lower taxes. My Dave ("Old Dave") had befriended Homeless Dave, if by "befriended" you mean "didn't run away screaming." Homeless Dave was a toothless Vietnam vet with a mohawk and a drug problem and a voice that could make bridges go up and down. He favored feathers, large knives, shiny objects, really large knives, and psychotic breaks. He would show up at inopportune times (although, to be truthful, no time was particularly good) and bellow conversationally until you gave him some money or food. Dave, who has a saintly nature he tries to obscure with curmudgeonliness and targeted flatulence, paid him attention and cooked him gummable meals. One cold night, while we slept, he came by and built a raging bonfire in the Weber and dragged it under the eaves of our house where he was trying to escape the wind. Dave brought him inside long enough to get a hot meal in him and sent him away while I crossed Social Work off my to-do list. Homeless Dave was a pain in the ass. I wished him safe and warm and happy and in Central America.

About the lemon. We had a lemon tree we'd bought that claimed to be hardy to 20 degrees. And it was. It was hardy, but that didn't mean it was in a good mood. We kept it outside in a pot and knitted sweaters for it and spooned juice into it and sang to it and bought it a Savings Bond and finally, after about ten years, it began putting out experimental fragrant flowers, a few of which finally resolved into tiny fruits around five minutes to winter. We watched them carefully as they struggled to grow, and after about eight months they began to veer yellow, and we lost all but one, but that one got fatter and yellower until Dave pronounced it just about ready to eat. One summer day he came around the back of the house to find Homeless Dave mopping juice off his grin. "GREAT LEMON, NAMESAKE!" he said. "BEST I EVER HAD!" And Dave fingered his pruning shears while contemplating his chances of successful homicide against a well-armed crazy ex-Marine. Ultimately he let him go with stern words and an omelet.

Homeless Dave showed up with useless gifts, scavenged or stolen, but he meant well. One time he pounded on the door before dawn with an attitude and a knife that wouldn't have looked wrong on Orion, demanding attention from my Dave as he was trying to leave for work, and Dave told him he'd worn out his welcome. We don't know where he is now, but if he showed up bearing a bouquet of 32,000-year-old campion flowers, it wouldn't surprise me in the least. And that would be a blow to science. I'd also watch out for Monsanto. If they even think they can engineer a shortcut to pre-frozen vegetables, they're going to try.

59 comments:

  1. I wonder if citric acid has a calming effect on psychosis?

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    1. Sadly, we never found out if it even has a calming effect on Dave.

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  2. "stern words and an omelet." Certainly sounds like a better kind of sermon than you would get in most churches. Or at the very least there would be snacks. Sophia

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  3. Ah...Maharisi say....Life is like a one lemon tree. It has its sour moments.

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  4. The Russians better keep a very close eye on that plant. No normal seed that ancient should still be viable. I smell a rat, or at least a 32,000-year-old squirrel. Soon it will start absorbing people and imitating their form in order to take over the world. Targeted flatulence may be the only thing that can stop it.

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    1. If you get a really crack crew of flatulators, you could rule the world.

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  5. Further proof that we do not all live really live on the same planet. You and Old Dave live on a more interesting planet, Murrs, whose residents are gifted with Murrspective, a happy, quirky, eccentric, both endearing and searing POV that sheds light on other, more pedestrian worlds like mine. I visit Murrs every chance I get.

    Hugs to Old Dave.

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  6. Homeless Dave is an example of "No good deed goes unpunished".

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    1. And, over the course of five years, no good deed ever did.

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  7. Oh, I love Nance's word, "Murrspective." I do enjoy that perspective and smile my way through your posts. Old Dave does sound a bit saintly.

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  8. Poor Homeless DAve. Now where will he go for lemons? Poor Old Dave. Hope he isn't too guilt-ridden about setting Homeless Dave free. You remind me of Terry Pratchet with his characters named "Medium Davey" and "Not so big as Medium Jock but bigger than Wee Jock, Jock."

    There's a great deal to be said for well targeted flatulence!

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    1. We do wonder, every now and then, and for brief moments, how Homeless Dave is doing, but we don't need to hear it from him.

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  9. Large knives, pruning shears, and targeted flatulence aside... is the lemon tree still living? Did it ever produce again, or simply die in a fit of pique?

    P.S. Love the idea of targeted flatulence. Must add it to my list of necessary survival skills. Bring on the beer and cabbage!

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    1. The tree lives; it's at least ten now. But the winter of 2010 we brought it indoors for the season, and it's never really recovered from that kindness. This spring should tell the tale.

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  10. You have way more exciting homeless folks than I do. My homeless friend won't let me give her food (I might be trying to poison her). She did let me give her one of my knit caps one time. No knifing incidents, although she did take a run at me with her shopping cart.

    I'd be skeptical of 32,000 year old plants too. There might have been 32,000 year old Monsantos on another planet for all we know and who knows what they might have done to the poor wee plant.

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    1. Sounds like your friend was at least a little exciting. Them shopping carts can sting.

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  11. I haven't known very many Daves. Lots of Davids. There is a barbecue place called Famous Dave's. I tried it solely for its name... once

    I like lemons very much and wish I would grow a tree.

    The homeless and the ones who want to be homeless... interesting and sad.... - I don't understand the want to be's...

    Interesting how a seed can be dated... 32,000 years old... man, that's old.

    You ever watch Ice Age? that squirrel and his acorn? HAhaaaaa...

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    1. Maybe we've quarantined all the Daves over here, and we should let some of them out.

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  12. I ♥ in your general direction.

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  13. That squirrel in the local library, looking for the card catalog and muttering to himself? I can so relate. My hands and feet were firmly planted in the doorway leading to technology. I have entered reluctantly.

    As always, thanks Murr, for a great read.

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    1. I've strode with confidence right into the century. The 19th.

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  14. Well, as Janis Joplin once remarked, "You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think".

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    1. See where that kind of remark got her.

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  15. I heard a rumor that an orange tree actually germinated and spouted somewhere in Orange County, California!! No doubt the city fathers acted quickly to uproot it before it might become a barrier to the paving of another shopping center parking lot. Whew... that was a close one.

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    1. Orange trees should be rendered in neon only.

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  16. You know my feeling about Dave's. We like them so much we named our property Dave - hence the name of the blog (musings from dave). Everyone should have a Dave.

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    1. At least one, and a spare! Now you've got me wondering what to name our property. Wally?

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  17. Rest assured that we have a plethora of Davids and Daves here in the DC area. There was even a great local band called "The Swingin' Daves." Although Murriment may be confined to observations of Portlandia, we can relate! Can't wait to see what you do with your latest local character: non-Dave guy who was sending "white powdery" substance-filled letters to Congress. <3 Elaine

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    1. Hey, they got him, right? I think it's sweet that he still uses the good ole Postal Service.

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    2. Local Band from the DC area? Ever see: http://www.toomanydaves.org/

      Yes, Too Many Daves. They rock!

      Had a crush on one of the band members. Had to give up being a groupie: A lifestyle even too quadrotypical for me.

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  18. I saw that article about the Russians and their very, very old and cold seeds. I did wonder whether it was vodka talking.
    One of our homeless (and I didn't get close enough to get his name) had a signature act which always impressed me (though not enough to emulate it). He would drop his pants to his ankles and saunter down the street singing an unrecognisable song. I doubt I could walk down the street with my pants by my shoes, much less dodge buses.
    Thanks Murr. There is a Murraniac here as well.

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    1. Honey, there's only one way to find out for sure. Get back to us.

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  19. Somehow the thought that that pretty little flower was here 32,000 years ago makes me happy.

    It is tough to have to tell the Homeless Daves to take a hike. The knives and the bigger knives and the banging on the door at ungodly hours are all one thing, but once they start helping themselves to the lemons ...

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    1. I guarantee you that if I was in the house and heard him coming (from blocks away) I would hunker down and pretend I wasn't home until he left. That sometimes took hours, especially during tomato season.

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  20. Homeless dave is the poster child for so many underprivileged teenagers sent off to Vietnam. Although homeless dave was conflicted about his role in that war, he was proud to be a Marine and never questioned what it meant to be a Marine. On November 19, 2002, homeless dave was presented the Medal of Honor by the Portland Fire and Rescue. A man jumped off the bridge dave and his buddies were hanging out under. When the jumper didn't die on impact with the water, he changed his mind about suicide and screamed for help. Homeless dave, Marine, jumped into the water and held the jumper above water, until the fireboat showed up. Dave nearly lost his life. But don't get me wrong, homeless dave is a pain in the ass! Old dave

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    1. We're assuming he's still a pain in the ass.

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  21. You give me hope for the world, Murr and her old dave.

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    1. I hope you got something else to hang onto, love...

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  22. Speaking as a Marine (there ain' no ex-Marines, only a few former Marines) and as someone who volunteers at a homeless shelter, please accept my thanks for the time with Homeless Dave, and please, everyone, remember: "There, but for the grace of Dave, go I."

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  23. I miss my baby Improved Meyer lemon that grew in my south bay window for a couple of years. It produced a couple of lemons in its short life--nothing like the wildly productive Meyer in my California yard. This year, though, in Portland environs like Murr, I'm about to plant a Yuzu Ichandrin, a hardy and sour-dispositioned citrus from northern Japan that might discourage a Homeless Dave (though I don't mean that as an invitation). It's armed with two-inch spines that spit defiance at Daves of all stripes and at me, too. If it ever fruits, I'll have to decide whether to use a grabber or get myself a falcon-proof arm protector.

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    1. I'm sorry, I got distracted by the notion of stripey Daves.

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  24. 'Stern words' and an omelet are compassionate at two levels. Bravo. You all are more patient than I could be.

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    1. Don't accuse me of patience. I'm the one holed up in the basement with my fingers in my ears.

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  25. Old Dave and my Martha are cut from the same cloth, I think. I wonder what became of that stuff? You don't see much of it around any more. Long, long ago I wrote:

    "Now, Martha is not a convenient person to live with. To live with Martha is to find oneself building a handicapped-crow access to one's apple tree, so that the broken-winged crow can hop up to a safe perch. It means spending serious money repairing a stray cat who's lost a quarrel with a racoon. It means intervening in a "domestic" three houses down the street at 3:00 a.m. It means taking a bag of groceries to the family living in their car down the street. It means that visiting my mother at the convalescent home also involves visiting with a number of other ill and aged people who happen to be in the same wing, who have no one else to visit them (because, in some cases, they are extremely unpleasant.) It means that spotting a dog trotting uncertainly down a city street almost always means trying to capture the dog and look for its owner."

    (from my blog, July 2004. How long have I been blogging, again?)

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    1. Since before I'd ever heard of one? No wonder you're so good at it. It's nice to think of Dave and Martha saving the world while we sit with our feet up and a good IPA in hand.

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  26. This was a delightful read. First, the poignant stories of Old Dave and Homeless Dave--we, too, have tried to set boundaries and ultimately had to tell someone they were no longer welcome. Then the many clever turns of phrase, e.g., five minutes to winter. And finally, the exceptional comments inspired by your writing. Great stuff.

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    1. Some weeks, the comments here are all I manage to read.

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  27. I also love Nance's word, "Murrspective." Because your posts are always so fascinating, interesting and hilarious! Sometimes your words remind me of the satire magazine The Onion.

    PS: Your description of Homeless Dave is both unsettling and comical.

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    1. Well, that describes HD exactly. And loud.

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  28. "A crack crew of flatulators" reminded me of a tuba concert I recently attended. The flatulated Christmas carols. Made me feel warm and fuzzy and relieved to be anonymous after a particularly gaseous meal.

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    1. Aw, you musta read my old Christmas post from 2010, one of my favorites.

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