Sunday, June 30, 2013

Firefly and Mockingbird

As darkness arrived, I was unable to determine with any kind of certainty whether the Northern Mockingbird was pecking at Firefly.  There were large numbers of  Firefly rising, and one of the Northern Mockingbirds was rushing around, excited by something in the cut grass.  And it's possible he was merely just showing off his gathering skills to an invisible other.

 I have assumed that Mockingbirds do not see well in poor light. An assumption based upon their stubbornness at roost. He'll sit in his tree and chortle an advisory if you get close, but he'll not fly away unless he really has to. Then if he does decide to fly in poor light, his flying is accompanied by a commotion  that I'll describe as 'embarrassing and very uncoordinated.'


 Blackberry Jam time. Can't say enough about them.  They ripen to sweetness only when it is very hot, and it has to be very humid, with heavy clouds on the horizon and they dislike any sort of air movement or breeze.  They also prefer the company of Tic, Spider and anything that can both fly and sting, or has a forked tongue and walks on its stomach.

 And you can understand it, because as soon as they are ripe every god dam creature on God's green earth heads for them. So, if you want a ripe Blackberry where I live, you have to be very quick, very brave and very determined. And you have to anticipate being bitten by something no matter how many clothes you are wearing.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Domestic Appliance III

The Friend Who Lives Too Far Away, suggested that Domestic Appliances have entered a conspiracy against members of my own species, and that this conspiracy is no ordinary Jack in the Box, pink and white conspiracy, but rather it is of a complex nature.  And here, leaving aside such issues as "On Switch redesign" and "lights that blink," both of which can be easily dismissed by the cynic as "User Error," I wish to enter into the record two very recent experiences with newly acquired Clothes Washing and a Clothes Drying Machine, which I believe support the argument for, and offer insight into, my friend's keen observation that the conspiracy is indeed complex in nature.

 The new devices themselves are quite glamorous, they have good paintwork, and they have no jagged edges despite each essentially being a cube. In every respect they appear innocent in that slicky-boy and fresh-faced way.  But, when you eventually find the "On Switch," they do come alive with lights, some of which flash in a very alarming manner. Which means that necessarily you have to open the handbook, and there, on page forty one, you discover that should anything go wrong with either one of them, the machines themselves are capable of communicating with their maker via the telephone.  And I can tell you there has been some angelic behavior and much tip-toeing around from me. And, if you want to know where The Artist is, she was volunteered to got to town to buy Dairy Products, because at the end of what is rather ominously called "The Cycle," and the clothes are either washed or dried, the devices each utter a little jingle that sounds exactly as though there's an Ice Cream Van in the driveway.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Domestic Appliance II

Two wise men arrived in a vehicle that was roughly the size of a Mail Order Fulfillment Center.  How it managed the lane I am not really certain. Where the lane turns, a rear wheel spun a little upon grass that was wet from last night's nasty storms, which in the dark hours had produced fanfare with radar indicated tornado to our west, and an eighth inch of rain for us here. To the south there were trees downed, I was told. "A big mess in parts of town," I was told.  And one of the wise men hadn't heard a thing, he'd slept peacefully through it all.

 When they were gone I maintained calm while performing the  leveling, water hookup, venting and electrical duties. None of which the wise men were permitted to do owing to constraints upon them by a mid level region of the Angelic Host called the Legal Department.  For a good while I thought last night's storm might have robbed us of a single electric circuit, because that's been known to cause confusion and a great deal of anxiety. But the cause of my inability to turn the device on was nothing so ordinary. Somewhere in the past fourteen or fifteen years the Almighty in his wisdom has re-conceptualized the "On Switch" for machines that wash clothes. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Domestic Appliance

Some years ago the machine that washes clothes developed what I'd call a disgruntlement. It was neither compliant nor obedient, it was easily distressed, it preferred not to be ignored, and it was able to produce some very unsettling noises. Occasionally it would attempt to escape its electrical and water lifelines, and it would bound around the bathroom in a manner that suggested it was either determined to find some sort of portal to freedom, or it had gone insane.  Which meant that we'd been taking it too much for granted and it liked to be sat upon in order to restore it's sense of self worth and value and importance.  Kind of like putting a highly strung cat in a paper bag to calm it down, and just as inconvenient, I always thought.

Over the years there has naturally been heated discussion about whether machines that wash clothes necessarily have to be level, and sometimes half hearted attempts have been made to produce levelness in order to test this hypothesis, but in no part of the domicile is levelness achievable this side of reducing the structure to rubble and starting from scratch.  I at least have managed this lack of levelness quite well, and really don't see why others appear unable to do the same. Then sometime yesterday the machine that washes clothes flooded its environment and was immediately taken outside to be shot.  It's corpse will be removed by kinder hearted professionals, who I am quite certain will also tell me that machines that wash clothes have to be perfectly level at all times.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Certain tasks have been accomplished. And I say this with the confidence of one who knows well enough that no task is ever actually accomplished, it merely remains there in a condition of  uneasiness.  Like a Hippo walking a tightrope.

 The idea of  "finished" is obviously absurd, unless a mind is either capable of conceptualizing "not being here," or it is "wonderfully arrogant."  But I have noticed that sometimes a satisfaction can be gained  from translating   "Yes! He is accomplished,"  into "Yes! He is finished."

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Not everyday the telephone line goes silent. And yet, through that same telephone line comes the Internet. Usually it's the Internet that goes silent, while the telephone rings on and off in that familiar and irritating manner. My own recent practice has been to try hard to completely ignore the telephone, which is not as easy as it should be. So it is kind of nice to have some one or some thing else produce silence from the "unknown caller" along with his side kick "New York, NY.," and the persistent "name not available" from just about every state in the union, and not to mention the "Unknown Number" and some nutcase called "Butler KY."

 However, when the telephone line is suspect, there is always the possibility that the internet will fail, which means I'll not be able to stare like a mental patient at the weather radar,  wait  for another gem from Gregorian/Dusty, my own hazardous weather and literary hero at the weather service.  So following the complexity of first actually making contact with the telephone company, then answering their series of apparently random questions under very difficult circumstances for a person who doesn't carry his own telephone number and street address around in his head, they have agreed to think about looking at the telephone line sometime on Friday the twenty eighth of June between 1PM and 5PM - five days from now. Either way there'll be no "squeaking wheel" from me, and that's for sure.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Solstice 2013

One of the other great benefits of being An Ancient was the absence of UTC.  Which stands for Coordinated Universal Time. And if this leads to confusion and raises the question "If it's Coordinated Universal Time, why not the letters C.U.T?" Then permit imagination to wander across the current flag of United Kingdom, see it's loose ends and lack of cohesion and remind yourself that the Union Jack was also designed by a committee.

 The Ancients would not have had to get out of bed at 5:04 UTC, which where I live is 1:04 EDT. They would have been able to look forward to their Summer Solstice, gone to bed, slept well and as the birds awoke, they'd have been able to show up for peeping at the rising sun part of the tradition and then in slow time proceed directly to the celebration, which if they were young enough might also have included drunkenness and other fertility rights. Next year Summer Solstice is at 10:51 UTC, which where I live is a civilized 7AM, or if you live across the river 6AM.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Standing Stone II

We have what could be a Standing Stone, out there in the beyond.  Saint Teresa of Avila, or what some might impertinently call The Outhouse.  She's a little over four foot square, and in parts she is eight foot tall.  If she was solid granite, instead of wood, she'd weigh several tons.

 I'm going to say 'No' to  the argument that suggests Standing Stones were  internal structure of earth mounds. Then I am going to ask whether the Ancients painted their Standing Stones? And  I am going to define the word "Intelligence" by answering this question with, "Of course they did."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Standing Stones

Summer Solstice just five days away, and some of us are a long way from prepared.  Something about this year is running late. The greens of grass and trees are at the end of May, and Raspberry are ripening at least ten days late, but I am not convinced by such signatures of time. I have to think there is some other cause, something deep and stirring.

 And I guess this sort of paranoid delusion of a great out there watching in judgment is actually the source of Calendars. Great stones erected have a permanence and solidity, a constancy, an immoveable and comforting  bureaucracy.  The week with it's seven days. And the year, round and neatly tied by leap day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Dodder in the Deer Tongue Lettuce. Which might sound like happy thing, but rest assured, there are few things a gardener assigns the word 'happy' to.  I can think of Potato Rain. I can think of low humidity, and  I can think of high temperature of eighty two degrees Fahrenheit. Which for those struggling with foreignness is twenty seven point seven seven Celsius.

The Deer Tongue Lettuce seed came from Amish gardeners.  Nor am I one to willy-nilly cast aspersions around as though they were confetti however much fun it is.  However we have not had Dodder in the vegetable Garden since 2005.  Oddly, In Pennsylvania I believe, all peoples who are not Amish, Amish Clans refer to as The English

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dream World

However, despite it all, I have returned to the Rabbit of Usk, and the edge that ends in meaninglessness should be rounded with sandpaper,  rather than left to the conclusion, "that's what I meant."  The other solution is to paint the edge bright red, give it a "Look at me" flashing light and try to think of it as a hinge.

 It's the valley of structure, I know, and as has been pointed out, structure more often defines meaning. Which in the matter of The Rabbit of Usk and Walking Stewart is a good enough reason to quote Dylan Thomas: "Dig no more for the chains of his grey-haired heart."  But I miss Walking Stewart, and could so easily return him to his seat at my table.  Give him the quality of a hinge, so that doors might open.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Definitions are rather crucial. What do I mean by religion? What do I mean by tradition?  What do I mean by Nationality? And far too easy to suggest that someone who practices a religion or observes a tradition primarily because he or she considers it central to social cohesion is therefore somehow alienated. Or has lost his or her religion, or has lost his or her contact with a tradition, or who is for one reason or another expatriated.

Here I'd argue that The Pope doesn't have to believe in the Resurrection to be The Pope. What he has to do is to persuade others that he believes in the Resurrection.  And why might he pursue such a deceit? Because he wants to be The Pope.  And I can say this, because we as individuals, "Join" ideas. We do not "Belong," to ideas.  Infuriating, I know, because barriers to membership can be insurmountable, no matter how the 'heart' might yearn to 'belong.'  Wittgenstein wanted to belong to the class of Genius.  Scruton  wants to belong to the class of philosopher. And to my un-contactable comrade, there is no such thing as a flawed novel, unless you have joined an idea of what a novel might be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Upper Level Disturbance

"Upper Level Disturbance"  is how a weatherman says, "something unmanageable might happen sometime, somewhere soon."  Today I am struggling with another  "Upper Level Disturbance."  It's a cross eyed dizziness that makes standing up tricky.

And it was an "Upper Level Disturbance" which a couple of days ago sent us running to a hole in the ground that I will insist upon calling a "Tornado Shelter," but which some might call Spider Habitat, and which others might call Snake Den.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Saint Teresa

Saint Teresa of Avila has a roof, three walls and in one of those walls is a door that opens and closes without undue physical effort.  There remains a wall, the sit upon, and a weather proof window. So far there have been a few points of discontentment, an awkwardness here, a few cruel words exchanged there. But in the end I'd argue that  progress has been very slow because of a discourse between us upon how best to conceal errors. 

 I am at the moment fully into a heated defense of "Forgiveness" as the only reasonable solution. And due to a surfeit of errors, I find myself becoming quite heated in pursuit of this defense. For her part Saint Teresa has some round about argument that describes the shattering of a myth, Fallen Angels. Which means that for her, all error either presents an opportunity to redefine the substance of her being or enter a diatribe against dimensional lumber, the incompetence of her designer, his inability to use a level, and a general rejection of any kind of acceptance.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


I'm going to have to cage the Raspberry, or there'll be pecking from all and sundry, as well as Raspberry lovers.  But much more exciting is the ripening Mulberry which was dropped off in the Vegetable Garden. 

There is no doubt in my mind that it was a gift from the Woo Mockingbird, whose children are pretty much ready to be chased off the territory. I nodded my appreciation.  The nearest Mulberry tree is really very far away.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sooty Foot

Yeah though I have walked through the valley of words there are times when a person has to pause, sit on a rock and smile for a time.  What I have generalized under the category of "The Black Pox" and it's subset "Sooty Foot," when found in Cereals, Corns and Sugarcanes, is more locally referred to as "The Smuts." From a German word for 'dirt.'  Oddly "Corn Smut" contains more protein than the "Corn Kernels" which Corn Smuts have usurped for their own nefarious ends.  Where I live Corn Smut is considered a pest.  Aztecs considered it a delicacy.

 And even more worrisome "Before infection can occur, The Smuts need to undergo a successful mating to form dikaryotic hyphae."  Which they do by hijacking the reproductive system of their unfortunate victim and then forcing say Grass to produce "Smut Galls." And you'll know how successful The Smuts might have been if you are shoeless in the cut grass and your toes turn black.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

D Day

I think I am going to agree with those who argue that the plethora which comes under the title 'technological' should be thought of as a species with subsets of evolving species.  And our relationship with 'technology' should be thought of in terms of symbiosis.  Where two different species benefit each other at a cost to other species.  From the flint knapper all the way to whatever it is that new age flint knappers do, our interdependence is determinate. And to say that our own species is in charge, strikes me as a misreading.

Better to think of our relationship with technology in terms of technology nurturing only those subsets in our own species who promote technologies own evolution, rather than in terms of  something  like  freedom, or independence, or equality, or an end to world hunger, and the list can go happily on. Me, I'm still hoping for some kind of genetic leap, following cataclysm, but this is an old fashioned wish much doted on by those of us prone to the idea that God is technical device and all of creation is a desperate attempt to conceptualize an off switch.  And while some might consider this view a touch dismal,  I find it both elegant and elevating.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Category II Invasive Species.

Raspberry are an aggravating menace, and should be kept isolated, a good twenty yards from just about anything else, and of plant descriptions, any description of Raspberry should be totally ignored, because they are willful and if the world was just they would be described as a category II invasive species. But one of the odder things about Raspberry, is the extent to which they appear to figure in the imagination of those who are not delighted by the prospect of weeding, who do not worship the shovel, have no patience with edges, yet who are prone to spend large quantities of money on something as useless as soaker hoses, sprinklers, chemical lawns, weed eaters, mulch, exercise bicycles, car air fresheners, mobile telephones and the list is so long my head hurts just to think about it.

 My own theory is that Raspberry worship, in those of my generation, hails back to a pre-super market era. To get a Raspberry, in that horribly primitive time, a youngster had to visit a grandparent, or perverted ill-socialized uncle, who lived an apparently idyllic existence in some backward rural setting.  "Go ahead my sweet thing, just help yourself to a Raspberry and go on home."  Having tasted Raspberry, fresh off a prickly cane, the heart records a memory and ever after through stress of career and busy life, the bloody Raspberry becomes some sort of symbol of Eden.  I can't tell you how many times I have heard visitors say, "My granddad used to grow Raspberry. Happy days."  All the same, if Mockingbird, Thrasher, Yellow Chat and assorted Poxes from Damp permit, I think we'll have a goodish crop this year.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Snap Peas

Snap Peas are thirsty little Dears.  And that might be all I can think of to say about them.  However they have valiantly contributed to diet recently, and the most extraordinary thing is these past few days, which have been fueled by Snap Peas, I have noticed what I believe is a dramatic improvement in the shorter term memory. 
We builders of Outhouses, use a measuring tape, and at a certain age most of our working day is spent looking for the measuring tape. A person can understand mislaying a hammer, or an extension cord, or his wheel barrow, but a measuring tape features rather highly in imagination, because without it things can become imprecise. Yet all yesterday I did not spend one minute looking for the measuring tape.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pests and Poxes

A good rain for Colorado Beetle.  And really rather amazing to think of their species in terms of their having developed a resistance to so wide a range of pesticides.  Resistance to  DDT was an early victory in their battle for dominance over Potato and Eggplant crops. A Colorado Beetle has two other enemies.  One is a Beetle that eats Colorado Beetle eggs and Colorado Beetle hatchlings. The other is a white fungus that also does damage to Termite, White Fly, Thrips and Aphids, to name just a few. This white fungus has no resistance to fungicide.

 The white fungus is called Beauveria Bassiana.  Which is classic, because no one this side of a science museum can pronounce or remember Beauveria Bassiana.  The disease in insects Beauveria Bassiana causes is called White Muscardine Disease. If you see a Grasshopper corpse on a hot day and it  looks frosted that's White Muscardine.  Which sounds like a wine, but which helps my memory not in the least.  I prefer "The White Pox of Insect."  Which is distinct from "The White Pox of Plants."  The Beetle that feeds on the eggs and hatchlings of Colorado Beetle, has shiny Eggplant black wing case, orange front parts and black beady eyes. It's name is Lebia Grandis, which might be easier to remember.  It's a quick moving Beetle and it's about the size of a Bomber Beetle, which is that brown Beetle that thinks beating it's head against the electric light is an Olympic sport.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


 I think my point about the Zoroastrian Tradition, or at least what I call the Zoroastrian Tradition, is the thoroughly material nature of the understanding of life that it brings to my own sense of being alive.  "Giving Alms To The Birds" as Tibetans have called it.  And I believe there still might be a Tower of Silence in Karachi, which is where some of the one hundred thousand or so remaining Parsis have a community. But the Parsis, who are Zoroastrian, don't quite share my view.  For them it's more a matter of not polluting the air through cremation, or the earth through burial. Nor apparently do I cleave to the Zoroastrian tradition for any sort of ecological or hygiene reason. Otherwise I might be persuaded to consider a recently devised practice for the problem of dead human bodies, which goes under the name Promession.  Which regular readers of the "Daily Undertaker" might already be familiar with. 

 Essentially Promession is a process that converts a dead human body to mulch as quickly as possible. I would be immersed in liquid nitrogen, so as to make me brittle. Then I would be subjected to vibration which would shatter my frozen remains. I would then be subjected to a vacuum, which would remove water and turn me to dust.  This dust would then be sieved to remove things like teeth, and subjected to a magnetic process that would remove things like artificial hips.  I would then be placed into a small cardboard box which would be buried  in the top layer of soil, and within twelve months both the cardboard box and I would be humus. If you wish to pursue this extraordinarily unattractive and industrial option,  here is a link:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Grand Parenting

Oh Sweet Lord, I am so dreading the arrival of ripe Raspberry.  The Woo Mockingbird's three children have reached the "Look at me, I might be a Vandal" phase of their time on earth.  It's that phase when a nose pin, or nipple ring, or a tattoo, or expensive tennis shoes suddenly become appealing.  And with Mockingbirds, they can be as stubborn we are.  Which means that I might have to do a little foot stamping, and this is not easy thing for me to contemplate, unless I have mash potato and at least three sausage to look forward to.

 No doubt it is a phase in her young which the Woo Mockingbird also finds worrisome. And there is probably, a sense in her that she can't wait to be rid of them all so that she might croon with me as we work on the Outhouse and concern ourselves with Peach Thieves. I guess too allowing her children free range in the Strawberry reduces her burden, because she knows full well they'll be perfectly safe under my charge.  So I guess I became a grandfather sometime in March.  And I should be grateful I suppose when my grandchildren make believe they are rabbits, and pretend to be quite incapable of flying over the Rabbit fence.  Which makes me feel not completely useless in defense of my own winter hoard.