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June 3, 2008

Travels with Uncle Chet: Economic survival requires self-reliance

COLUMBUS _ ``Wait till it's $10 a gallon,'' said Uncle Chet, as he backed his Ranger pickup to the garden's edge.

``Don't think I'll live that long,'' I said.

``Unfortunately, you might,'' he said, and shifted to neutral. ``Okay, gentlemen, time to shovel.''

"Anything's better than sitting here,'' said Cousin Bruce, in the middle of the split bench seat.

We dropped the tailgate and began to throw well-rotted goat manure around that corner of the vegetable garden.

"You're going to have tomatoes the size of grapefruit,'' said Uncle Chet, who was wearing a straw hat and sunglasses, watching us work up a sweat.

"Good; I like tomatoes,'' I said.

"And make sure to plant lots of potatoes and squash; things that keep into the winter,'' he added.


``He's full of advice, isn't he?'' said Cousin Bruce, grunting as he threw one last shovelful off the back.

Then Uncle Chet backed the truck up to the next corner and we began anew, as the kids walked down from the house.

``Mom said lunch is ready,'' said the little miscreant, our 14-year-old, in shorts, sandals and an MP3 player.

``What is it?'' asked Cousin Bruce.

"Chicken and biscuits,'' she said.

"And salad,'' said Buddy, who wore a big sun hat. ``Then we're going fishing.''

"You and I are going fishing,'' said Uncle Chet and began to amble toward the house with the young boy. ``These other fellows are going to play in the dirt a while longer.''

We washed up pretty thoroughly and sat down to a midday meal this Sunday, the first of June.

``Glad you got that lazybones of yours to make you a garden,'' Uncle Chet said to Hon, who was seated across from him. ``Now if we can only get him to cut wood a little faster.''

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