Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pecan Picking Time in Georgia--Guest Starring Linda Calendrillo!

My wife Linda showed me a letter that she was sending to her nephew Matt Calendrillo and his wife Katie, and I said, "Linda, this has to be a blog!" Linda was sceptical.

All she had done, she said, was write a letter to Matt and Katie thanking them for sending her some nuts that they picked near their home in Pennsylvania.
I said, "No. It's more than that. It's perfect blog material about something you love--Pecan Picking."
She looked at me and said, "Well, you're the one famous for blogging. Go ahead."

Here's the letter she wrote:

Dear Katie and Matt,

How can it be that it's taken me so long to thank you for your nuts?!? First, I had a problem finding your email addresses. Then, I lost your phone number, so that plan went belly up. But I finally found your email address.
So back to the nuts.
PA nuts are scrawny compared to GA nuts (GA squirrels are scrawny compared to PA squirrels, so all this makes no sense to me), but nuts are nuts and we did enjoy investigating the ones you sent and eating them. Are you still picking them up? Is the later crop bigger? Thinner shelled (boy, they were hard to crack)? Less oily?

We are having a boom year here and have big vats of nuts all over our garage. I am hoping John will make the trip today to sell nuts and have other nuts cracked and blown. In GA, we have odd little seasonal businesses that set up to prep nuts for individuals. We pay around 50 cents a pound to have the nuts cracked and blown so that we can then easily separate the shells from the meat of the nut to freeze them.

You can imagine that we're talking volume here. I bet we'll have around 20 pounds cracked today. We had 12 pounds cracked a couple of weeks ago.

When we get the pecans after they've been cracked and blown, they come to us in two paper sacks. In one bag, there are mostly nuts. In the other bag, there are mostly shells. The job comes in when we need to separate the nuts from the shells. Separating the nuts from the shells is important work. If we're not careful, we get shells in the cookies and crunch down on shells when we eat a handful of nuts as a snack.

I'm giving you this background in the hopes that as kindred nut-picking spirits you'll be able to share the wild ways of the PA nut traditions.

We also have large businesses that buy nuts from us locals and sell them to Northerners (known here as yankees, with a derisive slur). These businesses pay us about 50 cents a pound, and I suspect we'll have well over a hundred pounds to sell today. Our biggest year was 400 pounds.

We may hit that this year again if John and I can keep our backs in working order. Bending down to pick up pecans is not for babies!

In fact, working with pecans is work!

Saturday, I spent three hours on the roof of our garage harvesting nuts, by the way. If you have a roof, with nut trees overhanging it, you might consider going up there to check out your crop.

So much for nuts.

I need to get back to work.


Aunt Linda

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Skies Over America by Matt Flumerfelt

I read a lot of poems and meet a lot of poets, and one poet whose voice always moves me and excites me is Matt Flumerfelt. He's a poet who will open your eyes and get you thinking and feeling.


The skies over America

are vibrant as a Pollock painting

and dissonant as a Schoenberg

symphony. They’re the canvas

on which we scrawl the graffiti

of our lives.


Ours is a garden where

every flower may flourish,

bitter nightshade and evening

primrose, a Mendelian greenhouse

where hybrids are the rule

and whore lies down with priest.


We’re enamored of the camera.

If we could, we’d like to film

the destruction of the world,

even though no one would be left

to watch it explode a second time

except a few seagulls.


America was born to immigrant

parents in a sharecropper’s shack.

Three acres and a mule were its

only possessions. It was suckled

on hard work, cheap whiskey,

tobacco, cornbread and collard greens,

and the promise of eternal life.


The skies over America

are crumbling. They’re responding

well to therapy. They need

more antioxidants, plastic surgery,

yoga lessons. They’re weeping.

The skies over America are

closed for remodeling.


Matt's poem "The Skies Over America" is from his new book The Art of Dreaming.

It's available for $10, plus $2 for shipping.

You can order The Art of Dreaming from him at

29 loganberryCircle

Valdosta Ga 31602
Or you can email Matt at mattflumerfelt@bellsouth.net

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Valdosta Halloween--2007

We had 4 kids stop by for tricks or treats, a pirate, a witch, a batman, and a kid who didn't know what he was dressed as.

The pirate kid was proud of his costume even though he didn't have a hat or wig. He left them in the car his mom was using to drive him from one house to another. He said, "It's just too hot for a wig. That's why I'm not wearing one!" We gave him a quarter.

This pirate boy stopped by at about 7 pm.

After that, it was quiet.

At about 730, I went outside and stood on the front porch for a while to see if there was anyone coming. There was no moon yet, and all the houses on both sides of the street were dark. A car drove past going west toward the Walmart near I-75.

I looked across the street at the house where these 3 young girls live. It's a big old Victorian just like ours. Every year we've been in Valdosta, the girls have made it over--even when the youngest was 1. She wore a white and gold princess costume that year, and had her big white cat with her. The cat didn't wear a costume.

This year they didn't make it.

Their house was dark.