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November 8, 2014: Obsession

I’m obsessed. I freely admit this. My current obsessions are Icelandic horses and writing. Past obsessions have been bicycle touring, writing, sea kayaking, and writing. I have in being obsessed with all three subject areas written at length about them. I’m also obsessed with obsession. I’ve always enjoyed talking with people who are intensely interested in one particular topic. I enjoy it the way some enjoy physical pain – I often test the limits in seeing how much I can endure.

Today was a day in which I talked with several other obsessed individuals. It began with my getting a phone call from Doug Ott, a Palmer resident who wanted to make his own compost and was in need of manure. I told him early on to come on over, and he did. He of course had to first listen to me talk about manure and compost, and at

the time, our methods of producing it. As it turned out, he’s obsessed with growing apples. He came with 10 or so empty five-gallon buckets and left with 30 full five gallon buckets – we gave him extra, Pete saying to him that he wouldn’t have enough on hand unless he took more. This was good for us because now we have hardly any manure in our compost facility. This is pretty amazing, considering it is now the second week in November. We usually have more by this time. (See how obsession works, you just go on and on and on, all the while remaining oblivious to your audience’s concerns.)

Late this afternoon, we drove to Doug’s place and picked up our buckets. And at the same time we got a tour of his orchard. His trees were behind his house – his orchard was in a quarter acre plot. There were about 50 trees of varying ages and size, from a year to twenty years old. The trees, in the near dark were in rows and had white bases, making the area look like Arlington National Cemetery in miniature. As Doug talked, it got colder and darker. I sensed that Doug could have talked indefinitely about the ins and outs of growing apples – but finally, I said that we had to go. . . .

Prior to visiting Dough, we went to the Palmer Art Walk, a yearly event in which area businesses feature local art. We went because we like to support the local art community. There, we talked with other obsessed individuals. This included the owner of Coy Bridge Farm, which is located between Sutton and Chickaloon. There were, on the table in front of her, dozens of bars of goat milk soap. I began what became a very lengthy conversation by asking her if she had goats. This was like turning on a water spigot. She began talking about her now 24 goat herd, and once in a while (in reference to specific goats) showing us pictures of them. Some of her goats had hard udders, some had had difficulty calving, some lived to die old, and well, on and on it went. I, who began to tire of being in one place repeatedly, went behind her table to take a closer look at the goat in question. CAE and CL, were the main topics of this near one-way conversation. Both are bad goat diseases, and this is about all I can tell you. We extracted ourselves from this one way conversation by buying three bars of soap. Otherwise, we would not have been able to make a quick getaway. . . .

We also met up with Maggie Aube, who is now getting her new business, Drumming in the Valley, going. Aube has a Ph.D. in percussion pedagogy – and she’s now teaching workshops and classes in Palmer full-time. Her mother was present – one would talk and then the other would interject comments. I asked and was told that Aube as a child was inclined to drum. And, mother said “she was quite good at it.”

This is what most interested me – I asked and was told that Aube’s dissertation was on the subject of women percussionists. She was, she said, looking for “common threads.” She had my undivided attention when she said one of these threads was that many women stopped drumming when family related interests took precedence. What I wanted to say, but did not, was that I am now working on a book that’s along similar lines. Finally, we extracted ourselves from this conversation by picking up some of Aube’s promotional literature and added that we are interested in drumming and might be back in the near future.

Apples, goats, drums. In listening to the obsessed, I found myself wanting to take on these new hobbies. Yep, I want to shore up our fruit garden next year and grow apples. Yep, I want to get a female milk goat. And yep, I want to take drum lessons. The problem is that my horse obsession is taking up all available time. How to explain this to people? They are all far into their own obsessions to take note of mine.

Next: 300. 11/9/14: The Writing Life: Dogged