The garden cannon

The Blog Topic Committee met this week early on Tuesday evening at the table under the grape arbor.  Members present were Linnie W, Max, Tillie and a special guest member, my dad’s ghost.

“It has been suggested,” I began, “that we should write about the cannon.”

“Good idea,” my dad’s ghost said. (He’s been dead for about 25 years but showed up in support of the cannon.)

Max makes a motion

Max dropped his blue ball on the table. He seemed to think that, just because we found his blue ball after it being lost all summer (it was under the couch) that maybe his blue ball should be the post topic…

“Write about Johnny Depp!” Tillie said. (She’s a big Johnny Depp fan.)

Depp fan

“Is that a motion?” I said. (I was taking notes for the meeting minutes.)

“Just do it,” Tillie said.

“All in favor,” I said, quite democratically under the circumstances, but thankfully the motion failed.

“The cannon,” my dad’s ghost said, and then he disappeared.

“I guess that was another motion,” I said.

Max and I voted yes (Max always votes with me) and Tillie stomped out, which frankly was a relief.

So here is the story about the cannon.

signal cannon

It’s a signal cannon, designed to fire noisy blanks on the decks of military ships in some kind of ceremonial fashion.  Or so I was told. We use it for celebrations.

It is small but very heavy, and it lives on the fireplace mantel shelf in the parlor. Right by a picture of my dad since it was his cannon. But of course we take it outside to fire it.

It uses blank shells that look like shotgun shells, and it makes what can only be described as a helluva noise. It shakes the earth and echoes off the hills. And it blows black smoke like a muzzle-loading rifle. It is nothing short of awesome and it wraps up a celebration in a first-rate fashion.

flowerToday the garden cannon is wearing a bloom from Aster “Milady Mix.”

On one occasion, for a summer outdoor wedding rehearsal dinner, it had a big purple bow around its barrel, also very pretty.

Once we celebrated July 4th in a residential area in the middle of a city. We fired the cannon in the back yard, just once so that maybe we wouldn’t get arrested. It was festive.

You put the shell in the chamber and someone pulls the end of the very long, maybe 12 foot, string. (It’s all in the wrist…) The noise and smoke are gripping. (Max stays in the house in his crate for these noisy events but really he loves them and runs around barking afterwards.)

We’ve commemorated graduations, a wedding, New Year’s 2000, and many July 4th’s over the years. An odd tradition, but we live far from neighbors so it’s not too much of a nuisance.

In other garden news, the white Cup & Saucer vine (Cobaea scandens) has a couple of blooms. I like them a lot.

cup and saucer bloomsBut the purple flowered one has only leaves because I watered it too much.

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About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in Max the Westie, stuff for your garden that isn't plants, Tillie and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to The garden cannon

  1. kininvie says:

    Dear Linnie, Your cannon arouses strange atavistic feelings. I had an ancestor who was an artillery person. Perhaps he’s met up with your Dad in a kind of heavenly cannon enthusiasts club? Anyway, I need one to go with my standing stone…I’ll have a look on Ebay. I hope your post hasn’t given Tillie ideas – there’s no knowing what a frustrated Johnny Depp fan won’t do.

    • linniew says:

      I hope you find a good local cannon to win on Ebay, Kininvie because really everyone needs one, especially people with the cannon gene which you (and I) clearly have inherited. Do be careful to just use blanks and not blow up your standing stone. I’m thinking of casually mentioning to Tillie that Johnny Depp is likely in Alaska, or possibly on Mars, in hopes that she might go looking.

  2. Christine says:

    Hi Linnie – I have to say this again: I really enjoy your blog and you make me giggle every time I visit! Today I enjoyed the cannon story, LOVE the Cup & Saucer vine and … I second the motion for Max’s blue ball to be a post topic :). Come on, he looks SO keen to have this story told 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Well Christine you are certainly right that Max is keen–to be the center of the known universe actually! I hope you saw the beach trip story which he insisted we put up a few days ago on the Garden-dog feature page. Really he runs my life and undoubtedly his blue ball will get mentioned here again sometime– you would think it was a brick of gold or something…

  3. b-a-g says:

    Linnie – I can understand why you need a commitee to select post topics. I waste at least a week just deciding on what to write about.
    PS. on the subject of Max taking over your life …
    I was wondering why your blog is called “Women who ….”, so I checked on the web in case it was a famous quote, and found Women who run with the Wolves.
    Is that where your title comes from ? (sorry if you have already answered this question)

    • linniew says:

      Yes b-a-g the Committee is very helpful. Sometimes. And you are also correct about the blog name having evolved from the book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves. I loved the book but felt delphiniums were more appropriate, although I retained the participation of a Westie wannabe wolf. It just made me laugh to think of women running with a pack of delphiniums, across the tundra maybe… It was a quick and impulsive choice. And I don’t think I’ve ever addressed it here so I’m glad you asked!

  4. My dad collected guns and artillery. I have a cannon ball and a big missile shell casing from a navy ship gun. Both are not able to detonate, but they are heavy. My dad gave my brother a cannon like this. I am not sure of the name, it was little and heavy, but a bit bigger than this one. It sat at the base of my dad’s fireplace in his den. I think the old military stuff is cool.

    • linniew says:

      Glad you found connection in my garden cannon story. My dad collected guns too, he had a room full of them, mostly old Winchesters from the 19th century. He studied early US history in terms of firearms. It was impossible to watch a “western” movie without him noting that the rifles were all the wrong date for the story. At his house there were shotguns leaning in the corners of the diningroom, shooting trophies everywhere — My dad won best marksman in three states in the 50’s, my brother was on a US Olympic trapshooting team. There was a lot of stalking of animals & support for the NRA. It made me into a pacifist, sign-making, protest-marching liberal. But I like my cannon.

  5. Grace says:

    I clearly DO NOT have the cannon gene and always look forward to July FIFTH! [It’s that whole “helluva noise” thing.] But I do have the flower gene and think the cannon looks sweet all florally adorned like you have it. Although I’m admittedly not familiar with Tillie’s retaliatory temperament, I’m thinking you might want to make sure those “shells” are out of her reach. Her facial demeanor looks none too happy about the committee vetoing her Depp motion. Might want to hide the blue ball too. Just sayin…

    • linniew says:

      Boy I do understand your position on the noise of Independence Day Grace. Oddly, I agree largely with you. It so often happens that people are hurt or buildings burned down with the “celebrations.” I’m sure a lot of my feeling for the cannon is associated with family and past events. I do love decorating it with ribbons and flowers, to balance I guess. As far as Tillie, I think you have great instincts about her, and when she returned from Albany she had armloads of what might have been YOUR flowers (were any missing?) so yes I will be watchful of all projectiles!

  6. Dear Linnie, You are too funny! Your story reminded me of my first July 4 in this country. Our neighbor fired a canon. I think it must have been bigger than yours … what a bang! I must admit it scared me. And as I’m English, I wondered if he was trying to tell me something. P. x

  7. kininvie says:

    Well Linnie I love your blog title, but I never picked up the literary reference, so what I imagined was a bunch of somewhat flustered ladies clutching large pots of delphiniums and chasing hither and thither in a panic. WHY they were running with their delphiniums, I never quite worked out, but I think it had something to do with the way ants grab their eggs if you disturb their nest and run about trying to find somewhere safe for them. I so loved the thought that the women needed to preserve their delphiniums at all costs….

    • linniew says:

      Well yes of course I would grab my delphiniums, in a time of crisis, EXACTLY like ant eggs(?). Right out of the ground. Certainly I would. After a few other things maybe. (Not the cannon, too heavy.) The dog certainly, and Mr. O (shouldn’t have to carry them) and some chocolate, to see me through whatever the disaster WAS. And maybe the brandy bottle, for the same purpose. And my wooden ouija board (ha-hah!, you didn’t know I had one of those did you K!) and of course Hotflash (my laptop computer). Oh and my hand pruners, always useful.– And then, I guess, the delphiniums.

  8. Greggo says:

    your dad likes the canon because it wakes up the dead. heads.

    • linniew says:

      Ok now Greggo, just trying to decipher you here… I don’t think you meant canon (church canon? Shakespeare canon?) so I will let that go as typo for “cannon” (I make lots of typo’s). I understand the idea of waking up the dead. But will ANYTHING wake up Deadheads? Coffee maybe?

  9. Hi Linniew! I like how this cannon looks! But, I am glad we are not neighbors, he-he. I’d jump up every time you fire it! My boys, I am sure, would love it! Love your writing!

    • linniew says:

      Welcome Tatyana! Yes boys go for these noisy things I have noticed. At least this little cannon doesn’t destroy anything, except a moment of peace.

  10. Alberto says:

    Very funny post. Your dad looked really ‘cowboy’, you should not offer any alcoholic drink to your committee anyway… nor to yourself I guess… 🙂

    PS: it looks like Max can make the blue ball floating with telekinesis… Add a ghost and Tillie and maybe I have to give up drinking too…
    PPS: I now have a fern too.

    • linniew says:

      I have found that the wine can help the atmosphere of the committee meetings. Except Max doesn’t drink (my dad didn’t either) so I guess Tillie and I are the ones affected. Maybe I will try a meeting with just tea. I go directly to your blog now, with hope of fern photos Alberto!

  11. Absolutely loved the committee meeting! Max was the star with the blue ball, but really it was so funny…..you have a wonderful gift……thanks for sharing it…..Ca

  12. PatioPatch says:

    Hi Linnie, my guess is that Tillie was expecting Pirates of the Carribean when you mentioned the cannon and Max was perhaps wondering if that’s how his blue ball ended up in the shrubbery. A great memento of your Dad and it must please him that the tradition of scaring the neighbours contnues in all the important family celebrations

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