Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Longevity

End of April is always kind of depressing.  Almost half way through the year, and still a chance of cold, and a gardener starts to worry about his Chard, and The Artist has been planting Snap Peas since about February and I guess everyone wonders whether the early Carrots are worth trying, and if they are worth trying when might the nights be warm enough for Carrot seeds to think about germinating, and  the only thing that's really happy out there is the Grass, because Grass is about the only plant that can actually deal with high winds and grazing by the cloven hoofed.

Then for those of us who are tender perennials, there are the physical issues that usually begin to catch up with common sense after the maniacal joy of bed preparation and the intensity of emotion that some might call Compost Piles. So I guess after the Tomato are in and the Beans are planted, and whatever decision about Carrots have been  made, there's one more moment of satisfaction to anticipate before weeding and hose-pipes and other pests begin to dominate the waking hours and Hoppy Bug haunt the shorter nights. And I guess in the end the secret is to make a run for something like a Zinnia so as avoid being reincarnated as a Bristlecone Pine.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rain

Three inches of rain on empty soil will cause stones to float, it will cause weed seeds to germinate and very much worse, it will compact the soil, because soil that's been shoveled around for a month or so, is pretty much rootless, so it just sort of sits there asking its own set of questions, the most trying  of which is "What Now?"

 So while it is very nice to have had three inches of rain, it does mean a gardener can no longer stare lovingly at his tilth and instead has to reappraise the meaning of his own life. And very likely during this reappraisal he will reconsider his attitude toward 'cover crops.'  And one of the things about 'cover crops' is the long term planning they require.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Quacks and Bleats

Although I have never seen them together, I believe there are two Toads in the Vegetable Garden.  They are both of the same species, but I have no idea what that species might be.  Of Toad species identified as Kentucky Natives, there are three likely candidates, and of those three likely candidates my vote goes to a Toad Species that has been given the name Fowler's Toad.  And here I am told that a Fowler's Toad as a voice that sounds like, "the bleat of a sheep with a cold."

 Now if you happen to be pottering in the Vegetable Garden, one or other of the Garden Toads will make a little noise at you, if he or she has the idea that you might not have noticed him or her.  It is indeed a very peculiar noise. Kind of petulant, sort of bad tempered, rather insistent, and does offer a suggestion of  "get out of my garden."  Then , there'll be a little very deliberate hopping around from the Garden Toad and you might hear the noise again. In the past I have thought of this noise as a sort of low pitch 'quack'. The kind of thing you'd get from a day dreaming  duck.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Popes and Saints

In the old days of course they used to make people Saints fairly soon after their death. It was more a question of sending the odd petition  to the sitting Pope, and if it seemed politically expedient to the sitting Pope the answer "Yes" came back. In those days too it might have taken a while for a letter to reach the Pope, and traveling from somewhere like Norway to Rome could be incredibly dangerous, so I imagine a great many people who should have been Saints never got to be Saints because petitions never actually found their way to Rome.


Long centuries dragged on, and around the year 1000 becoming a Saint became more and more complicated.  I guess it was combination of decorum and some vague attempt to appear apolitical, or maybe the odd person who became a Saint turned out not to have been in the least Saintly when all the facts were revealed.  My own preference, when it comes to Saints, is that there should be at minimum a two hundred year waiting period, and I think it quite improper that a Pope should ever qualify for Sainthood.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Revanchists

"Revanche." A word from the Old French "revancher" which means "to revenge."   In the middle of the Nineteenth Century "Revanchism"  took on a political meaning which had as it's root the desire to regain lost territory.  A "Revanchist" was prone to see territory more in terms of ethnicity, which meant that if for example you had enclaves of French Speaking People in somewhere like Southern Germany, then those parts of Southern Germany inhabited by French Speaking People should rightly belong to France.  And it's nice to read The Lebanon Daily Star, who are not afraid of words like "Revanchist" or "Recidivist" or "Running Dogs."

 "Revanchists," tend toward a kind of devotion to the idea of language as the entity by which the world should be divided.  The implication being that Language is a shared origin, and is therefore a force for social cohesion.  Then if you talk about something like a Universal Language, people get all pissed off, and flag waving, and gun toting, and black helicopters, and "what about Shakespeare" and National Anthem on you.  Better to think of us all as something like Mockingbirds, who are multilingual, and discard any political theorist who might suggest that because we share the same language, we're more likely to get along with each other.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Rain

Rain did good things to soil, kind of fluffed it up and set the ground work for weed seeds, who by tomorrow will start poking their dainty little heads toward the sun. The deranged offspring of Morning Glory, which never seem able to to run true, but if you're lucky they're sometimes a little bit blue, have already seen their opportunity. Why anybody plants Morning Glory in a Vegetable Garden defeats me, yet every year there is a day or two when a gardener totally loses his mind in a hardware store, and next thing he's fumbling around for a $1.99 plus tax, and there's a packet of Morning Glory Seeds in a larger plastic thank you bag, and he's sort of grinning like a mental patient.

 This time of year too, following a long dry spell that begins to feel like drought, soil that has been dug over brings clay to the surface. Then when a gardener does a little watering the clay gets all excited about pottery, sucks up the water, becomes like a skim of orange brown milk, the ancients would have recognized as terra sig, and eight hours of hot sun bakes it into a very hard crust, which no genteel seed will ever see a way through. This can be incredibly depressing, heart breaking even. And you have to think it a plot by somewhere like Canada to sell peat moss or a plot by Coconut plantations to get Gardeners who are still hunting down humus from their compost piles to become addicted to Coir.  Got to say, when it comes to beating up on clay, Coir is a great deal more lasting than Peat Moss.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blue Grey Gnatcatcher

Last year I outraged a Blue Grey Gnatcatcher by doing a little unseasonal, but I thought necessary, trimming of trees. I hadn't spotted her beautiful nest, until it was too late.  One of those things which kind of sticks with a person, makes them feel like Alaric the Visigoth, or Totila the Ostrogoth, or some kind of Norman under Robert Guiscard, or perhaps Silvio Berlusconi, all of whom, in one way or another have sacked Rome in pursuit of their own claim to mighty-hood.

Blue Grey Gnatcatchers are not big birds. They are tiny, but they have a call which carries a long way.  It's a sort of high pitched  'Peeee-Pooo' sound, that can cause a person with ear issues to wonder whether he might have to take his pill and lie down for a bit. Not a hugely melodious call, but wonderful to think the Blue Grey Gnatcatcher hasn't put the mark of Cain upon me. Although when he spotted me from the Early Maple, he did send a kind of accusing stare in my direction.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Edging

There are rules about concrete. There's proportion of cement, of sand and of something like gravel. If you're looking at a sky scraper, rules about concrete include things like steel reinforcements, and the proportions of cement and aggregates are rather critical, otherwise tall concrete buildings fall over or collapse.  And there is the issue of  the extent to which concrete is subject to freeze and thaw. A more porous concrete is more likely to fall prey to freeze and thaw, than a less porous concrete. Then you sometimes come across a gardener who is obsessed by edging and who has seen his timber edging badly challenged by a kind of white rot that potters around his timber edged beds in a manner that can only be described as sinister.

Concrete edging to garden beds has a certain permanence.  It's sort of like gravel paths, which once established are a nightmare to transplant. But at least with his concrete edging a gardener isn't looking at load bearing structures, all he's trying to do is maintain some kind of orderliness, so that when he's wearing his sun hat and it's nine hundred degrees,  he can still have some sense of being in charge.   And,  because gardeners feel unsafe in the company of building supplies and have a certain allergy to things like bulldozers and hard hats and tool belts and measuring tapes it's safe to say that over the years the proportion of cement in a gardener's concrete edging begins to dwindle.  So it can be tense when it comes time to knock off edging forms, and even more exciting to see how a new concrete edge manages winter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Compost Piles

Of compost piles, two were perfectly respectable, and two were wholly inadequate.  And I guess I have taken this oath several dozen times before, but next year all compost piles will reflect perfection, and I will wander the hills whistling merrily, a skip in my step, as I explain to Rabbit and Mockingbirds what a wonderful person I am, and how if they too were as diligent as I, the world would be made safe from the Industrial Revolution.

I guess too, given the stress upon both the physical and mental parts of a person that compost piles can deliver, there's a good chance I might not make it through many more years of composting.  Pretty soon now I'll be reduced to 'top dressing.'  Hobbling around in a moo-moo, with a little bucket of leaf mold and a teaspoon.  Which could well be an optimism, because  long before that happens one or other of the hosepipes will have driven me insane.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Anonymous Correspondent

Three sentences from my Anonymous Correspondent, who I suspect is very much engaged in the Spring Fever, which could mean he lives somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere.  He suggests that: "Men do not usually run about complimenting women on their brains." A straightforward enough assertion, I guess, and probably a little insulting, even if it could well be a pretty accurate description of the dating scene.  His second piece of advice to would be suitors is a little more nuanced. "Preserve eye get in touch with at all expenses but try not to look creepy."  Which I guess means that a boy should at least pretend they are complimenting a woman on her brains by staring them in the eye. But I could be wrong.

Nor am I certain what he means by the last sentence: "This can be on dates, or just heading out with the concept of assembly women in common."  My better instinct was to think in terms of a contrast between a 'date' and that sort of 'mingling' that follows after something like a Church Service, rather than some kind of  assembled woman that might come in a brown paper parcel.  But which ever way you want to think of it,  my Anonymous Correspondent really does hit the nail on the head with his "try not to look creepy."  Have to think it's something he arrived at through bitter experience and many, many a lonely night.
 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Compost Cutlery

The compost is flawed. The imagination sees it as it might be in an ideal form, soft, friable and without a single stone, or large stick, or bit of wood, or unknown things of uncertain origin.  But I suppose the form of compost reflects the personality of the compost maker, and here where I live there are clearly a number of imperfections.

Quite how a table fork got itself into the compost pile, I'm not certain, and when a person's just a tad on edge because it's the big Salamander that hibernates in the compost pile, finding a table fork can be unsettling. It's handle caught a glint from sunlight, that looked exactly like an accusing eye. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Book as Tombstone

Sartre, who was a kind of odd guy, has an essay in which he compares libraries to graveyards. More accurately perhaps, it might be that he is putting himself in the shoes of a critic when he compares libraries to graveyards. But, which ever way you want to think of what it was Sartre was saying, it's a neat idea.

A book, once written is dead.  It sort of sits there with all its words, bumbling up on each other. Each one probably a little disgruntled because there is no chance, nor will there ever be a chance for a particular word to sit somewhere else, get a new perspective, add nuance or greater cogency to the meaning of this or that sentence. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Newspaper Comment Section

All very well musing about the Roman Empire, its decline and influence, but probably as well to remember that not many people on our planet concern themselves with Rome as it was when Latin was the lingua franca of the Mediterranean.  My own reason for doing so is probably related to the comment sections on the digital newspapers, which are to my mind a better place to go for insight into the waves of understanding that cast upon the shores of the real in the form of opinion.

There's the left and the right, view. Both of which are neatly established and wholly predictable, and rather depressing. There's what might be called the 'third way,' which are waves of understanding, usually unbounded by anything as uncomfortable as ever having to cast upon any kind of a shore and are therefore free of all encumbrances. And I guess in all there's a 'fourth way,' which is that sense a person gets from a comment that its author may well be solely engaged in defining the world around their own career ambitions. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Denial

There was a time when Pagans were inclined to blame the Fall of the Roman Empire upon Constantine's decision to adopt Christianity as an official religion.  Then a couple of years after Alaric sacked Rome, a Christian named Paulus Orosius wrote a History that argued the position that indeed much of what ailed Rome had arisen prior to the emergence of Christianity, and that on the whole Christianity had done more good than harm. Then, in the eighteenth century when Gibbon wrote his very big book, there was a whole list of possibilities as to why the Roman Empire might of fallen, one of which might indeed have been the empire's adoption of Christianity.

I guess in the western world as it is currently configured it's kind of difficult to think of the traumatic consequence the Fall of Rome had upon the psyche of men and women who experienced it.  Then for centuries afterwards, would be kings and emperors looked back to Rome in their attempts to create new empires and kingdoms. But no one can really answer the question why Rome disintegrated. The opinions generally flow in the direction of the empire's internal inability to suitably respond to external threat.  A stasis in expectations that were based upon assumptions that increasingly made no sense.  So in a sense it was failure of idea that did away with the Roman Empire.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chilly

A tad chilly this morning. Two overcoats, wooly hat and big socks kind of chilly. And that's about all I'm going to say about it. I'll not go on endlessly.  I'll just turn that frown upside down and carry on regardless, because it's the right and proper thing to do. 

Nor will I ever be looking at the weather forecast again. Instead I am going to rely on the more ancient understandings. I am going to build a stone circle, and when the stone circle tells me it's the middle of May, I might think about planting something.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rain

Some of us are ready for a little rain. Not this high wind and a couple of drops followed by a little snow and freeze kind of rain. But genuine come to Jesus kind of rain. A something like two inches over a three day period kind of rain. The sort of rain that has just enough cold in it to hang around and soak.  All very well becoming all puffy around a rain gauge, but the good rain is slow and patient. It doesn't all fall in half an hour, and then pick up it's skirt and run to the rivers because it prefers the Gulf of Mexico, or Cancun.

 I guess too, some of us are a little drained by trenching of beds, and we kind of want a couple of days to sit around staring at rain without once having to think about whether the roof is going to blow off, or whether the Potato are going to freeze, and we had lettuce last night, and there's Asparagus, and a whole lot of happiness out there that for one reason or another is going to get kicked in the teeth. And I could mention gerrymandering, but I won't.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Retard

 I'd like to discuss the word "retard' today. To my mind, as it's currently configured,  "retard" is associated with the 'Short Bus,' which here in the United States is that group of scholars who for one reason or another are not as mentally alert as a majority of scholars. I'm inclined to think this an arbitrary percentage, that might vary over times, but is generally posited as a number less than a 'Full Bus.'  Nor am I absolutely certain what the parameters might be for being included in the category of "retard."  Though sometimes I suspect it might be more of a subjective visual appraisal, than any kind of complexity that might require correct answers to thoroughly loaded questions. I am also very aware that the word "retard" is not one a person can bandy around the Grocery Aisles without raising the odd eyebrow.

 It's possible also that sometimes a person might be a little more "retarded" than at other times.  And to follow my gist here I suggest you do as I do and occasionally pick up the telephone when it rings so that you too might answer a few random questions about your shopping preferences, and then have to explain why a home security system might not be something you actually want to have a long term relationship with. Then, if you happen to be recovering from a near death experience in the Vegetable Garden, which involved a shovel a wheel barrow, a still hibernating Garden Toad and temperatures that felt like 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and you come inside and hear the words, "I'm going to have to retard one of the loaves." You might pause a moment, and reckon that yes indeed an observer would be right to look at you and say "it's the short bus for him."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

March

The good men and women of the National Weather Service suggest that today and tomorrow high temperatures will by around eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Then Monday and Tuesday there might be a little rain, possibly a thunderstorm and at this time of year that can mean moments with straight line winds, maybe some hail and tornado. Then on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning temperatures may dip below the freezing mark, which means frost.  Potatoes are showing, Snap Peas are showing. Asparagus is showing. Lettuce and Spinach are showing.

Nor is frost  in  March unexpected. But each time it happens a person feels a sort of howl at the moon disgruntlement.  I remember one year when Iris bloom was zapped by frost.  Another when Nut Trees were zapped. Forget about mentioning Peach and Apple around here otherwise you'll be followed around by stories when your hunting down Beauregard.  This year too, there's been dieback of Raspberry and Buddleia. The Laurels are in a terrible state, but it'll give them character. Thuja, which as rule in the middle of March look to be on death's door, have never looked happier. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Moment with Divinity

The Iron Law of Oligarchs, I believe it was called by a German thinker around a hundred years ago.  His argument was that political parties would necessarily have to have leaders, or people at the top. And you can't have people at the top without some kind of a bureaucracy to maintain the authority of the people at the top. Bureaucracies, while they might be necessary structures, are not flexible structures. They are rigid, which means power is centralized. Otherwise, if you wanted something like a driving license or a passport you could get one, no questions asked. And you can argue all you want, but the iron law of oligarchs puts a slope into society that leads to a society that cares less and less for a definition of participatory democracy that has as it's underlying principle the idea of equality.  It's  like a 'we'll think for you because you're too stupid to understand idea of  democracy.'  And when it comes to defining 'corruption' a good definition, is not just all about the derailment of money.

Now, it would be OK, if leaders where the kind of wholehearted, warm, uncomplicated people that you might meet at the Farmers Market.  But leaders are not made that way. They are primarily motivated by an idea which expresses itself when you think about something like a Wolf around a herd of Sheep. And here you can bet that the Wolf will not be a vegetarian, nor will he use a napkin when he sits down to eat, unless if by doing so he might gain some advantage in something as quaint as a voting booth.  An answer to the question, 'what does one do about the iron law of oligarchs' was kind of attempted when a group of men tried to agree on  the American Constitution.  These men were of course leaders, or Wolves around Sheep, if you prefer.  And their final written document, like all written documents was and is subject to interpretation. And I guess too, what we all once called the Divine Right of Kings, has in the absence of Kings, become something more like the Divine Right of  Wealth. Damned sure Kropotkin is turning in his grave.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Half Way Point

I'm at about the halfway point. So probably another twenty hours of trenching last year's collected leaves into beds. Then there's a little more trench digging, to protect resources from things like Creeping Grass and the long run roots of Wisteria and assorted woody perennials.  Followed by an unknown number of hours distributing compost.  Never certain how much compost there will be, until you begin the process of dismantling compost piles. And dismantling compost piles can be  kind of exciting, what with the community which prefers to hibernate in compost piles and there's always a chance that what you thought was a compost pile is just a bunch of dried up grass and twigs. But last year was a good year for rain so I feel pretty good about compost this year, which is the sort of off hand remark that can lead to an enthusiasm that's pretty well certain to be crushed.  As well in good compost there's always some kind of a  Salamander or other slithering thing that's not quite ready to get up and about, and you can kind of feel bad, especially if it's not yet past frost, or maybe another Polar Vortex, which did terrible things to the Laurels.

I guess the purists would be more particular in their construction of compost piles. But here where I live, there's a certain stubbornness for the idea that everything from the kingdoms of living things  melts down, if not within a year, then maybe next year or ten years from now. Then after hours and hours and hours in harmony with his shovel and his wheel barrow a gardener might be sitting on his chair, gently panting, his face beet red, his various body parts in some disagreement with each other, a sing in his ear that certainly suggests he might still actually be alive, and someone mentions, 'No-till gardening.'  Which is all very well if you're a little dippy and easily conned by things like picture books and planting charts and labor under the illusion that gardening is sort of like watching television or sitting down with friends to do something like make conversation. And when you hear a remark like 'No-till gardening,' the better reaction is one of indulgence and polite head nodding, rather than attempt to embark upon long winded explanations about the nature of meaning.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

God and Gender

Kind of miss Une Acte Detournement. It was fun ranting on, without thought of compromise, as though god itself was impersonating an eleven year old.  In the French language god is a male noun. And I think probably in the minds of many of the English Speaking People,  the one God is an understanding of maleness. You'd have to go to the more ancient religions, where a plurality of gods were worshipped, if you want  to find girl gods.  There's Mother Nature of course,  but a person has to think this a male concept, because over here in the west our paramount God is a Boy and somehow he created Mother Nature, who is a bad tempered and inclined to be unforgiving and can take the blame for what might be flaws in god's moments of creativity.

And naturally enough the idea of god being an 'it' tends to distract from generations of thinking around 'almightiness.' The French don't like to think of  an 'it.' There 'God' has to be either a boy or a girl, and their 'Dieu' is a boy. Interesting too, in the French language 'Geometry' is male.  'Algebra' is female. 'Science' is female. 'Mathematics' is female. Goodness knows why the French language determined gender this way, but for some reason I kind of like it. Worth noting that in the French language lands and countries also have gender.  Australia is female. Britain and Northern Ireland are Male, but Southern Ireland is Female.  The two continents of the Americas are pretty much all male except the Dominican Republic, Columbia, Bolivia and Argentina.  All of Europe except Portugal, The Netherlands and Denmark are female. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Comment on Walking Stewart's Name

I've had 263 comments on Walking Stewart's Name.  On the remote chance you might have forgotten, Walking Stewart figures large in an arena of thinking that I have called the Rabbit of Usk.  And sometimes in the nitty gritty I have spent time wondering how to think of  Walking Stewart.  His full name  is John Stewart, not the political funny man, but the materialist thinker who died a little under two hundred years ago. By around 2012, I'd taken to calling him Walking John, and found that calling him Walking John kind of changed my understanding of him. So for a little over a year I have thought of him as Walking Stewart.  And back in early 2013 I thought this name change would settle my mind, even though it probably hasn't.  And of these 263 comments I thought I might share one with you which I think particularly encouraging. It's the kind of writing I really enjoy, and my correspondent, who calls himself Anonymous, really does cover all the bases. He talks a little about oral hygiene, something I am very familiar with. A little about parenting, and sharp objects around children. He discusses filing systems  and career choices and the expense of becoming a tailor or an alchemist. He mentions Hollywood. Harps on a little about the Barefoot Running Movement, and I kind of agree with him that barefoot running leads to an efficient running gait, and I more likely I agree with him because I'm no longer inclined to do any running. He discusses the problem of weight gain for those of us who spend far too much time sitting around, when we should be doing useful things like digging the garden, or becoming or running around with no shoes on. Makes a suggestion that when it comes to things like washing  and rinsing your face, there's a rather precise temperature of water.  He points out that Ginger in water is good for those of us who might live in a cold climate and might also be elderly.  He suggests that beautiful women are attracted to money. He's not adamant about this, he suggests it's a general trend. And I think he suggests that quick money making schemes might not be the answer to attracting beautiful women. So if someone has such a quick money making scheme, you might dabble a little, but your better advice is to say something like "I'm sorry," or "I'm too busy for that sort of nonsense." And concentrate on more longer term money making schemes. Either way, I'm beginning to think I have found a kindred spirit, who might actually be still alive and I'm thinking of calling Walking Stewart, Dofus Kamas. I'm certain Walking Stewart wouldn't mind of I did.   And if you wish to, you can read the whole comment below.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Climate Change and Dentists

 I've been enjoying the argument from psychology which assigns a world view to either side of the climate debate. This argument suggests that those who are convinced the climate is changing, live within a set of very negative opinions about this moment in time. Those who are convinced that if the climate is changing it's a natural feature of our planet's relationship with the universe and the minds which think this way have a positive view of this moment in time. And here the science of climate change does not really enter the equation.  Which is symptomatic of a relationship our species has with science in general and especially with science that engages in extrapolating future events from current data trends.

Then you wander around a little, and come across discussions within the community who have devoted themselves to Artificial Intelligence. There is a sort of yearning in their midst for purpose, and they are prone to the idea that once they have replicated the human mind, they will have achieved an entirely rational entity from which wisdom will come. Cynics of course might see this yearning as a bunch of individuals competing for wealth so that their vacations might be spent in Cancun.  And it's the case that we people all prefer to think of ourselves as engaged in the production of vital import to the future of our species.  Me, I kind of know how the planet must feel, because I'm about to visit the dentist to discuss the future of my front teeth.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Close Mockingbird Issues

The Close Mockingbird could have some kind of issue.  His cough is Ok, and he has a true calling when it comes to singing. No damage by Privet Berry Cough to his vocal chords. There's an Ornamental Cherry which gives him a good view, and he can spend an hour or two taunting the neighborhood from the top of it.  And from that Ornamental Cherry he can see his Privet, he can see his Alatus and the other day he saw a Girl Mockingbird staring at his Privet  Neither of us was quite sure who she is, or where she might have come from. Nor is it really my role in life to spend the odd hour curious about this Girl Mockingbird, but I did see him permit her to take a few berries from his Privet. And this is the sort of observation that can make a person reckon there could be woo in the Close Mockingbird's mind, and that his call and bravado, his border wars with the Cedar Mockingbird might all have a sound basis within the imperative of  handing down his seed so future generations might benefit. Which is a kind of boy thing I've been informed, and also a  complete mystery to me is what the other side of the equation sees in it.

Last year he took up with a girl, who was obviously very dissatisfied by him.  At her first opportunity she sprung her nestlings, made no attempt at a second brood and went off somewhere into the hinterlands where it's people with dogs and chain saws and a fondness for automatic hunting rifles and church going. But it is possible she's returned.  The Close Mockingbird does have an excellent territory. He has his own person to throw the odd stone at a Merlin whose trespass upon his kingdom can lead to a Mockingbird demise. And Merlin's are aggressive little bastards with appalling manners and no sense of shame, and better hope that  a Merlin never decides to nest anywhere near you, because such a circumstance might well call for automatic hunting rifles. Then the other day the Girl Mockingbird was looking cute around his Privet. He did a little purring, looked rather pleased with himself, and I thought "here we go, something to keep him occupied!" Then quite suddenly he seemed to completely lose his mind. He flew at her in foul temper. Clearly something's up with him, and I really have to come to a conclusion that it's not actually my business, particularly when I'm terribly behind in bed preparation.