Saturday, May 31, 2014


I had to "Waqf" at Chipmunk today.  When they run in grass, they'll hold their tails up, and it's kind of adorable. Then when they pause to eat something, they'll sit on their haunches, hold whatever it might be in their front paws, and that too is kind of adorable. And they pouch things like nuts which they carry off to their winter hoard, which makes them kind of like Hamsters, and some of us have a soft spot for that sort of activity. And sometimes there'll be precious things dug up, and nibbled, but we all know that sort of vandalism is the work of Skunk who go about their business at night..

Then, like the Fox Squirrel, you can see Chipmunk suddenly still as though either lost in thought or trying to remember what it was they were doing, and this particular moment has a familiarity, because I too am prone to that same sort of behavior, and it's kind of a bonding moment between a Gardener and a Chipmunk. But when a Chipmunk starts to swagger around, taking no notice of you, he's obviously just showing off, and if the word "shoo" fails to impress him, odds are the word "Waqf" will put the fear of god into him. Quite why the Muslim version of the Christian "charitable endowment" has this effect upon Chipmunk, I don't know.

Friday, May 30, 2014


There's eight hundred and twenty miles of railway track from Damascus to Medina. Or at least there was on September the 1st 1908. The Hejaz Railway Line was built by the Ottoman's to facilitate the journey of pilgrims to Mecca. It only ever reached Medina because of war and stuff,  but there were plans to take the railway on to Mecca, which would have made the railway a total of one thousand and seventy miles in length.  It's kind of nice to think about that railway because it was the only railway the Ottoman's funded from charitable donations, and it's the only railway of the many railways in the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman's built themselves, with just a few opinions from the Germans. And its Steam Locomotives where fired with Jordanian Oil Shale, which is interesting.  The railway was to be a gift, or more correctly it was to be a Waqf. "When a person dies, only three things survive, continuing alms, profitable knowledge, and a child praying for him," or something like that is attributed to Muhammad.  Contributing to a Waqf is a good way to be remembered as an upright and solid citizen. As well the word Waqf, all though it might not appear in regular game of scrabble, as it can cause quibbling, is an extraordinarily useful word to have around  because it can also be used as a sound that has nothing whatsoever to do with charity and I have found it discourages Chipmunk.
Then in 1920 the Ottoman Empire was gone and the railway as a route for pilgrims no longer functioned. The diligent Hajji from somewhere like Syria was back to a forty day tromp across some very unpleasant desert if he wanted to do right by his God. Many agree that some kind of miracle happened for Abraham in Mecca. His wife Sarah was slow to produce offspring, and in the interest of his passing along seed at the age of something like ninety he made a child with his wife's indentured servant. Which of course resulted in that sort of trouble only angels could put right. And some of us agree that the child Abraham bore with Sarah's indentured servant would have died had not an angel caused there to be water. The child was called Ishmael. Abraham did eventually free Ishmael and Sarah's indentured servant, but Abraham never acknowledged him in the will and testament, because Sarah eventually did bare fruit and she was kind of powerful in Abraham's life. The water the angel caused, is  the Zamzam well. The Government of Saudi Arabia, the state which controls Mecca, doesn't allow the export of Zamzam well water, so you'll not see the genuine stuff in shops. Pretty sure I've talked about the Hejaz Region before, but always a good reason to test my spelling of angel. And Ishmael is kind of an important figure because he's an ancestor of Muhammad.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


 I'll not be treading sweetly today. It's a hell out there. And it's a hell Dante never might have conceived of with his Styx and circles, and his categories of sin, and diagrams, and allusions to people who have all been dead for a very long time, but still deserve to be punished. Dante's own River Styx was reserved for souls found guilty of the sin of anger, or wrath as it was called. The Wrathful would swim about in a dark and poisonous liquid trying to tear each other apart, and for reasons I'm not convinced of, The Sullen sit on the bottom of Dante's description of the River Styx, where they kind of lurk I guess. But it's a whole world Dante has, and you sometimes have to reckon that Dante might have been a Gardener or at least been inspired by watching a Gardener at a Compost Pile. An absurd possibility for a literary man, I know. But I guess the world itself could be likened unto a sort of a Compost Pile. Certainly there a moments of intense joy between long stretches of antagonism and disgust, but a Compost Pile has to it, all the elements of the social as epitomized by my own absurd species. And here I make no excuse for the word 'absurd,' because without that simple idea there'd be no society, there'd be no potential for society, there'd be no future for society, there'd be no change in society and we'd be more like Praying Mantis eggs waiting to hatch than we'd be like living things within societies of living things. So stop with the derogation of the existentialist, you unfortunate automatons. Go whisper sweet nothing into your IPod, do math or whatever. Take pills, be happy, kiss Jung's ass, interpret your own dreams of glory, then go shopping. And you can call me sullen if you wish to.

And I have to think it might be far too hot to be turning Compost Piles, but what's got to be done has got to be done, and to maintain a productive mental attitude I find it very useful to think in terms of Compost Pile Sins, of which there are a great many, and then to think of which Circle of Hell each sin should be placed. The Sin of long bits of wire in a Compost Pile, I think you'd agree, is a difficult one. Instinct would suggest such a sin belongs to the Ninth Circle of Hell, the most horrible circle of hell. Where Dante, in his whimsical way, put Judas for the sin of Treachery.  And please, I do understand that there is the pro Judas argument, that indeed Judas wasn't guilty of treachery at all, rather he just wanted Jesus to hurry up and get on with it. And certainly a long piece of wire in the compost pile could serve as a similar motivator for those of us who might be prone to what they call prolix.  All the same, a long piece of wire in the Compost Pile, does I think, not only require the perpetrator be sent to the Ninth Circle of Hell,  it's also sort of Licentiousness. It's without moral restraint, no foresight whatsoever.  Not certain what Dante would call it, but it's a sort of combination of  Dante's, first, second, third, fourth and fifth circles. His Upper Hell, if you'd prefer. Things like Lust, Gluttony and Greed, as well as Wrath.  But by contributing to the entire Upper Hell in conjunction with his certain place in the Ninth Circle, the perpetrator of the long piece of wire in the Compost Pile is guilty of terribly, terribly, terribly sinful behavior that does indeed demonstrates the existence of Evil in the World. I just thank God I'm such a Virtuous Pagan. Dante reckoned we all go to Limbo, in case you hadn't guessed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Orchards and Cowbirds

I'd like to say, "There's an Orchard Oriole in the Orchard." But that would be an error of imaging.  What I call the Orchard is more like a half dozen or so Fire Blighted trees in various stages of revolt, and they're out there, where the Deer, the Antelope and the Red Squirrel roam, and they're watched over by Saint Teresa and peered at by compost piles, so Fire Blight is the least of their concerns. But if you look at them from Google Earth you will see that they make a rather nice circle. An intuition on my part that could suggest a pleading to the great unknown rather than any kind of basic grasp of how to plan,  maintain  and prune Trees that produce edible fruits.  Which means that if you're thinking, hammocks, shade and lazy chairs, and Butterfly flitting from bough to bough, and serenade of contentment, then you'd be very wrong.  Better to imagine the Orchard as a couple of hundred square feet of sad looking plants that might recently have been visited by some kind of plague, and with a breeze from the northwest, compost can develop an agricultural aroma. Which is scent some never learn to  fully appreciate.

As for the Oriole. Some of us have an intense disregard for Cowbirds, and any dark looking bird that's Cowbird size,  is a Cowbird first and something else second. Of Cowbirds, there is a relationship between the beak and the eyes, that totally troubles me, especially in the girl Cowbird.  There's appalling sneakiness combined with a sort of superior staring that puts the creeps into me. Boy Cowbirds are just dumb, they'd spend their time looking in the mirror and wearing fancy shoes if they were boy people, but Girl Cowbirds are scary, and they're kind of in charge of the Cowbird community.  Anyway, in the first part of the morning, it's perhaps easier to tromp around leaping to conclusions. Then, sometime around the afternoon a person has a chance to reappraise.  Boy Cowbirds have a rustiness around the head, Boy Orchard Orioles have a reddishness on his breast. And Girl Orchard Orioles have a lot of yellow.  And there's a big difference in the attitude between Cowbirds and Orchard Orioles. Orchard Orioles are shy.  All of which means, "There might have been an Orchard Oriole out there by the outhouse." Which is definitely exciting for some of us.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


There's "Nice," and then there is "Quite Nice."  There's "Talented" and then there is "Quite Talented."  And I know this might be a stretch, but if anyone were to see their way toward calling  me "Nice," I'd be rather pleased with myself, and might even make a friend for life. But if anyone was to call me "Quite Nice," I'd tell them to go stuff themselves. And it's the same with the word "Quite Talented," something the Artist is often accused of being.  However, when I explore the word "Quite" in conjunction with the opinions expressed by dictionaries, it seems that for some speakers of the English language "Quite" attached to "Nice" or attached to "Talented" could be deemed a tad more complimentary than just being "Nice" or "Talented."  In other words through convolutions within the social nature of language  "Quite" can have in its meaning "Greatly" or "Completely" as well as  "Slightly," or "Clear Of" and "Free From."

And I think the point I want to make, is that by attaching the word "Quite" to "Nice" or "Talented," I have always deemed it a detracting imposition, put there deliberately by an irritatingly smug class of people, possessed by that sort of smooth that has arrogance sufficient to utter the phrase "Quite Perfect," or "Quite Right."  The response to both should always be in the form of the question, "Says Who?"  But I will  accept that the better response to "You're Quite Nice," is "You're Quite Astute," rather than my own more traditional and satisfying, "go stuff yourself!"  It's these little understandings I guess, that make the process of socialization even remotely possible, because I can't tell you how many I've dismissed out of hand and crossed the street to avoid, following their use of the word "Quite."  Fortunately the phrase "You're Really Quite Nice" will never, ever in my mind be anything other than a derogatory utterance, no matter how often dictionaries might try to suggest otherwise. And on this I am quite adamant. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Perching Birds

Ok, if the Merlin's have finished migrating then the raptor that keeps taking Sparrows must be a Sharp Shinned Hawk, and frankly I don't give a damn what species it belongs to. Nor am I that fond of the description "Song Birds."  Kind of makes you think of the medieval noblewomen who used to entertain themselves  by watching their Merlin  take Sky Larks.  The Merlin was the "Lady Hawk."  Boy Noblemen used to use larger, heavier falcons for their own perverse pleasures, which kind of says it all.

Then there's that expression "little brown job."  Which refers to small brown  birds that are difficult to identify.  It's a kind of dismissive, but in a way understandable. The word Passerine refers to about half the world's species of birds, and to know a Passerine is to look at their feet, they have three toes pointing forward and one pointing back. Easier to think of these species  by their other name which is "Perching Birds." And certainly the Perching Birds enjoy singing, in the early hours, but they don't skulk around in the morning hunting other birds.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Lizards of two kinds. The one has a bright blue tail, a turquoise I guess, a sort of Caribbean shallow sea on white sand kind of blue, it has a glitter to it as though it contains a sparkle.  And I go on a little about the color of this Lizard's tail as a consequence of my support of Language Relativism against the objections to it. Granted whoever it was insisted the Hopi Indian people had a different idea of time entirely as a result of their language, was probably a little off track, but the argument from my corner will always be "how do you translate Dylan Thomas into French?"  Which will then lead me to suggest, that you can sit around in libraries, surround yourself with the history of South Wales, look stuff up on the internet, and you can try. Then you might ask the question, "how do you translate the 'cat sat on the mat' into French?" And the answer is by learning French.  But it's not easy to think of language as an expression of  life unless you've decided living things are kind of like machines and because life is kind of like a machine there's no difference between a French speaking  machine and say a Telugu speaking Machine. The possibility that language is purring and it's flattery and it's socializing and it's patriotism and it's peer pressure and it's fashion and it's economics and it's the description of 'truth' and it's history seems to be a complexity, too many fail to appreciate without entering the world of the racist, and the stickiness associated with a politics of race that suggests we living things are our genes, and some better than other. Which is why the glamour tailed Lizards that live on the porch are Foucault Lizards and all life is social.

 The other kind of Lizards that live on the porch are slower moving, they're kind of browns and darker browns, with Crocodile bellies and an eye that challenges a person to interrupt their routine of contemplating the quality of the sun. They're more like a Coyote than a domestic dog, because the other kind of lizard that lives on the porch has a sense of Porch Ownership, a sort of "this spot is mine" kind of attitude, before conceding to the historical relationship between our respective species that suggests that of the two of us, I am the more dangerous.  Of course the other kind of Lizard that lives on the Porch, when he does decide to retreat, will do so with oaths and grumbling, which is something the Foucault Lizard doesn't understand because the Foucault Lizard doesn't consider retreat an act of craven cowardice, rather the Foucault Lizard reckons it no more than common sense.  Which is why  the other kind of Lizard that lives on the porch are Financial Times Lizards. And too I'm prepared to argue that the primary distinction between the Foucault Lizard and the Financial Times Lizard has as much to do with language as it has to do with the possibility that both the Financial Times Lizard and the Foucault Lizard have their cache of eggs stored nearby and have different strategies to protect their future generations. Go ahead, call it instinct if you wish to, but trust me, you can't translate Dylan Thomas into 2014, hard enough to translate Dylan Thomas if you live outside Swansea, so you certainly can't translate Dylan Thomas into French. The fact that you might want to is kind of a sad rejection of Language Relativism. A kind of fear I guess.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Thrashers and Mockingbirds

Somewhere around 2008 we got one Cherry from the Cherry Tree.  It was carefully divided and shared. This year some of us got quite excited because the Cherry Tree had roughly thirty Cherries upon its boughs.  Of those thirty odd Cherries some succumbed to what I will call "Premature Beak Peck." It's when someone with a beak pecks at a fruiting body just to check to see if it might one day be edible. The resulting peck leaves the unfortunate fruiting body with a wound, that then suppurates, attracts insect life, who as we all know eat just about anything that's been hurt. And I guess when all is said and done, the year 2014 will go down in the record book as the year when we got two Cherries from the Cherry Tree.

Now, I have been following this argument about Mockingbirds being at least one of the reasons Thrashers who travel north to breed are in a decline.  I believe yesterday I tried to suggest that Mockingbirds round here reckon Thrashers are residents and tolerate them as a minor nuisance. Yesterday I saw a Mockingbird carrying  a very ripe looking Cherry to the Vegetable Garden where it proceeded to make certain the Cherry was dead, then carried the Cherry by the cherry stem high onto the electric line, which is where Mockingbirds like to gloat.  The Thrasher, obviously a very intelligent bird, having watched the Mockingbird, did exactly the same thing.  The only difference is, that round here, Thrashers don't gloat on the electric line. They prefer the Garden Fence, it's more in your face and personal.  So don't tell me Mockingbirds and Thrashers don't get along.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Thrashers have fledged their chick. I'm told that in the more northern parts of their breeding range, Brown Thrashers are declining and one argument for this decline is laid upon Mockingbird xenophobia.  And here, when you're talking about the northern part of a Thrasher's range you're talking up there in places like Ohio and Southern Canada and all the way west to almost Alberta.

 Our own Thrasher's nest is very close to the Cedar Mockingbird nest. About eight years ago, Thrasher's would nest down there in the Multiflora on the edge of the trees. Then about three or five years ago I started to see Thrashers here in winter. And you can't say that last winter was mild, but the Thrasher stuck it out, and I guess I can share the Mockingbird's view that Thrashers are now resident where I live.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


One of the families of language spoken in the Indian Subcontinent, is called Dravidian. About 170 million people speak one or other of the Dravidian languages.  Within the family of Dravidian languages there is a language called Telugu, and it's from Telugu that the Bandicoot gets its name. And it's interesting to me because I always thought that the Bandicoot got its name from Australia.  Amongst speakers of the Telugu language, I am told, their Bandicoot is called a  'Bantikoku.' And here 'banti' means ball and 'kokku' means long beak.

A Bantikoku is an aggressive rat which lives in houses in the southern part of the Indian Subcontinent. Its head and body measure about ten inches and if you add the tail you could easily be looking at twenty inches. Nor, from its picture, does it look very much like a ball and a long beak.  But the Australian marsupial Bandicoot does kind of look like a ball and a long beak.  If you imagine an Ant Eater, a little bit of Kanagroo and a big mouse. And then you add a ball with a long beak to your mental picture, you've got yourself a pretty good representation of the Australian Bandicoot.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Eleventh Event

It's a Multi-athlon out there.  The events include: Compost Pile Turning, Rabbit Hunting, All Terrain Mower Repairing, Hose Pipe Wrangling, Weeding, Tying Up Climbers, Mowing, Moaning and Groaning, and the least pleasant event of all is the Eleventh Event. This last event is more psychological than it is like maybe running a marathon, and yet I think probably anyone who might be persuaded to waste their energy running a marathon, should first prepare themselves mentally for the feat by testing themselves against the Eleventh Event.

 And it's not just any old Mole, it's one particular Mole, from the tribe of Head Hunting Moles that some generations ago must have taken up residence here where I live. So don't tell me, "Oh! It's Just A Mole."  This is no ordinary Mole. We're talking the Magnus Carlsen of Moles. We're talking the Genghis Khan of Moles. This Mole has fiendish cunning, and he's very spiteful, and it's very obvious to me that he takes huge pleasure in being completely and totally obnoxious. Kind of have to admire him, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


So far this year I have been bitten twice by a Tick. And here I don't mean the slang for credit, and I don't mean the cloth case for a mattress or pillow, and I don't mean the clicking sound, and I don't mean a little person, but I do mean the Bloodsucking Parasitic Arachnid.

 As I understand it, here where I live, there are at least four kinds of Tick. The Deer Tick, the Brown Dog Tick, the American Dog Tick and the Lone Star Tick. We might even have Wood Ticks, but I can't be certain.   And it was a Lone Star Tick that nestled for a while in my tummy button.

Monday, May 19, 2014

This and That

Big Sun factor. It's not hot but it's very bright, with the blue sky that can remind a person of the Sinai around March.  All I can say is, thank goodness there is a rich green and not white sand to dazzle the eye.  The summer hat's a necessity for red blotchy people, and were it not for my own political objections to sunglasses, I guess there could be a really annoying argument for trying to find out where I might have put them. Nor am I that fond of sunglasses on other people, there's something sinister about them.

 Much more interesting, while inspecting the Red Norlands I spotted a Colorado Beetle. Now granted it's a good few months since I last saw one, but this Colorado Beetle was a smaller than I remember, and like most Colorado Beetle it was perfectly calm, it didn't run around or drop and roll, or anything like that. And too I spotted a Squash Bug, it was beady eyed and very active, the little bastard.  As well, it's not often you see a Green Heron, which might have been interested in our Frogs.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Misanthropic Justification

The word Misanthrope, is defined as a person who either 'hates' or 'mistrusts' other people.  And I think you'd agree that your correspondent has what might be called 'misanthropic tendencies.'  But here, I hope you might also agree that the word 'hate' applied to your correspondents 'misanthropic tendency' might be kind of strong.  And with respect to 'mistrusts'  there is an argument which might suggest that failing to put trust in for example 'god' or 'the invisible hand of capital' or 'the upper class' or 'edging-ism' is also a kind of misanthropy.  Sometimes in the word 'misanthrope' you'll find definitions which mention 'distrustful scorn,' which is a lovely phrase and I have no problem of thinking of myself as 'scornful.'  Worth noting too that in the definition of Misanthrope there is no suggestion that a misanthropic person takes joy from the failure of others. We might be un-patriotic, anti-social, basically obnoxious but we are not Schadenfreude. Morose delectation is not our forte.  We don't slow down to get a better look at traffic accidents.

 Diogenes was the Cynic. His view was, that whatever it was humans attempted, it would probably be wrong. Suits me well. And worth remembering that had it not been for the open-mindedness of the Cynics, when it came to something like ship building, we might never have progressed beyond shell-first construction techniques, things like blueprints would never have emerged, and all ships constructed would have been works of art, direct from the minds of master craftsmen. And of course back then it was the misanthropes who'd say things like "it's probably going to sink" when a new Viking Ship was launched.  Indeed, within our species without those of us with 'misanthropic tendencies,' there would be a great many more foolish examples of history repeating itself.  And I guess too, it's the Misanthropes who now have the task of pointing out the long, long and very ancient legacy of  flaws in the phrase, "Responsibilities of the Privileged."  And again, worth noting, minds that perceive merit in the phrase responsibilities of the privileged as a solution to social ills are themselves prone to what I might call "Misanthropic Justification." Something I am an expert in.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Despite the rectangles I'm prepared to say, there are no Awkward Metes in the Compost area.  I guess I could argue that Compost Piles benefit from rectangles, and if I do, it might be necessary to wonder whether this idea of benefit derives from the nature of a Compost Piles or whether having Compost Piles hidden away is a reactionary esthetic. I do know they don't like full sun, and yet one of the great joys in life is to watch one steam, but a happy compost pile is a well scented compost pile, so it's very difficult to know whether  the lack of Awkward Metes in the Compost area follows my own perception of awkwardness, or whether my inability to perceive an Awkward Mete in the Compost area, is a throw back to an obsession with edging. A visceral reluctance to separate myself  from a long held ideal that's causing me to hallucinate.

 The other thing about the Compost area is that the trees that shade the compost area are one of the Cedar Mockingbird's Intermediary Metes. And here I think of it as a Mete that does not function as a boundary for the Cedar Mockingbird, but rather as a sort of vantage point from which to sally forth.  And it's sort of the same for me with the Compost area. There may well be sallying to and from the Compost area on my part, but more important it troubles me not in the least what might lie outside the compost area rectangles. I don't wake in the night thinking about it.  It does help a little that the levels of shade out there are too much for Creeping Grass to tolerate, and too there's a rather pretty Dame's Rocket at bloom. Either way, it's food for thought in my journey toward de-tox.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Metes and Edging

If you look at Mockingbird Territories, you'll find that they pretty much follow the more traditional surveying practice of  metes and bounds. Here, lines are drawn between identifiable markers, and descriptions of these markers and the distances between these markers are entered into the ledger. The more traditional measurement of distance between markers were in rods, perches or poles. Each a word meaning five and half  yards. And if you want to know why five and half yards? It has to do with the idea of a "perfect acre" which is 660 feet by 66 feet. Or 44 rods by 4 rods. And while there might well be perfectly flat land somewhere upon which these rectangles can be neatly placed, in the world of something like a person or a Mockingbird, our view of Territory tends to consist more of circles rather than rectangles. We start with a center and go outwards, and as we do so our horizon is round, not rectangular.  The metes, or points of dispute, are the identifiable features of land that are already in place, rather than points imposed upon the land by the idea of something like a "perfect acre." 

So in many respects it's not so much the distance between metes that contain the quality of preciousness, rather it's the metes themselves. And here, it is well worth noting that 90 degree angles are, from the point of view of someone inside a rectangle, extraordinarily awkward. There's a sort of existential dilemma, an infinity towards nothingness at the 90 degree angle  if you're inside the rectangle.  But if you're outside the rectangle you have 270 degree corner that offers no sense of an infinity toward nothingness, rather both people and Mockingbirds find a sense of opportunity, a new horizon, rather than a kind of brick wall in space.  Of course in the Vegetable Garden as it is currently configured, because there are a great many rectangles, it has dozens of such existential dilemmas.  Each one an Awkward Mete imposed by a flawed concept of edging, I'd argue. And if I ask why? The answer is primarily in an idea of how best to use imported dimensions and shapes from a hardware store to keep Antelope, Elephant and Hippo from trampling the Strawberry, and nibbling the Beans. It's embarrassing really, and I feel quite ashamed when in the company of Mockingbirds.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Edging and Hats

One measurement of motivation has less to do with substance than it has to with an individual's own perception, and here a contemplation of hats seems like a fine place to start the exploration of an Unnamed Gardener's desire to reach beyond edging.  Important to realize there are any number of given reasons for wearing a hat, and there are any number of given reasons for an obsession with edging. But with respect to hats, it's much easier for the Unnamed Gardener to identify one substantive reason to wear a hat, whereas if you ask him ,why edging? He'll wax on through the afternoon late into the night and at the end of it all will have produced no demonstrable substantive reason whatsoever.  A "hat" is protection from the elements, nothing more. It's not a statement of any shape size or form. It doesn't express belonging, or wishful-ness or "aren't I cute" or "it makes my head feel thinner" or any in that number of excuses which might define an individual as beyond gardening altogether, and is instead lost in some kind of mall walking narcissistic personality which most plants would actually be much happier never to have to associate with or be touched by. Nor are hats to be considered some kind of tool of socialization, they should have no badge, no couture, no feather, no perfidy other than to look bloody stupid on top of someone's head and to serve as protection against that plethora of elements that regularly combine to prevent an Unnamed Gardener from actually going outside. And here, it might be worth noting that no Gardener worth his salt buys his own hat, it's unlucky and leads down a dangerous path to contemptuous behaviors around mirrors and hat stands and can lead to eyebrow plucking.     

 The ideal is a woolly hat that covers the ears for winter, and a sun hat the shades the eyes, ears and neck for summer. And the problem for the summer hat, is wind. High wind upon isolated ridges can blow a summer hat toward an alternate time zone which leads to unnecessary running around. One might argue that there should be a hat devoted to windy conditions, but access to three hats is tantamount to an avarice from any Gardener that never will result in his achieving his desire to reach beyond edging.  So perfectly OK for the Unnamed Gardener when given a woolly hat to turn up his nose at a woolly hat's outrageous colors and extraneous tassels, but being made to look like an escapee from a mental asylum should not bar the Unnamed Gardener from wearing his woolly hat with a smile. The Summer hat is a different matter. Straw Hats as gifts should be mislaid as quickly as possible, they make excellent tinder, and take about four years to compost. As well, not only do Straw Hats speak volumes to pretention, they succumb to even the slightest draft. And no Gardener in his right mind wears a chin strap, or a Beaky Cap. Beaky Caps confuse Mockingbirds, do nothing for the ears, and they encourage mechanical devices, which means the next thing he knows an Unnamed Gardener is tinkering with geriatric Rota-tillers and looking for no longer manufactured parts. Much better to hope for a snug fitting cloth hat with a wider floppy brim. Does make him look a little like mushroom, but this hat reacts well to gusts, even if it does wear a little hot and can give a Gardener heat-rash on his forehead and make his scalp itch if either he or the hat have avoided regular bathing as a part of an anti-tick regimen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Unnamed Gardener, Beyond Edging.

If any Gardener starts to ramble on about his Vegetable Garden as a Universe of many dimensions, it might be necessary for him to enter the world of definition and attempt to define those dimensions. This might be especially important if an Unnamed Gardener is prone to random, unsupported and unrequested utterances about nothing in particular. And here, without some kind of structure to his statements the extent of any Gardener's actual desire to reach beyond his garden edging and venture as though in a starship, toward a wider horizon of understanding, will fall foul of skepticism.  Which is one of the problems of definitions, they require considerable effort and patience, are always subject to peer review, which means debate, and they often fail miserably to reflect an intended meaning, which leads to confusion, which in turn leads to a form of depression, followed by a mental version of Fusarium Wilt, which in turn leads to the sad vision of a Gardener on his hands and knees desperately searching for solace by pandering to his edging through the act of snipping away at the more conquering breed of grasses with a pair of nail scissors.  Not a pretty sight, but actually very comforting in a myopic and totally undefined sort of way.

Worth noting that those physicists whose mathematical languages persuade them to perceive more that the obvious dimensions -  "up and down," "sideways," "in and out" - have explored the fourth dimension which many generations before Euclid was called, "Before and Afterwards," and still is by the less arithmetical. And through exploration of this fourth dimension through sad logic of arithmetic, a number of minds have been persuaded that there could be an infinitude of dimensions, and indeed this infinitude of dimensions exists as parallel universes right next to the one in which you and I have our being.  A somewhat dramatic extrapolation of  "Before and After" you might think, but it was the Language of Physics that designed the Atom Bomb, so always worth taking seriously, rather than dismissing it all as some sort of political mumbo jumbo from the fever swamps of higher education. And here, when I think about a Vegetable Garden, there are probably an infinitude of possible dimensions, all of which are well worth defining. Then when all these issues are overcome, the question for a Gardener is where to begin. One answer, with all due respect to mumbo jumbo, might lie in the "motivation" behind the Gardener's  impulse to broaden his horizon, reach beyond edging, go boldly into new worlds.  So tomorrow, I think I'm going to make an attempt to unravel The Unnamed Gardener's  motivation through a "Contemplation of Hats." 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chipping Sparrow Down

Not  a big expert on The Snake, and they kind of creep me out. But I do know Black Mamba's from the old days. Mind you when you're something like nine and at a boarding school on the slopes of the Elgon Caldera, pretty much everything that slithers on it's belly could be a Black Mamba, because at the age of nine it's very important to keep seven and eight  year olds in a state of constant trepidation. And the Snake I saw yesterday, eyeing the nest of a Chipping Sparrow, was a dull black, almost charcoal, could have been that olive green. It had a whitish tummy and it didn't look in the least nervous or shy, and it had a small head and it was almost as long as the long shovel handle. But unlike The Black Snake or the Rat Snake, which is kind of a gentleman Snake, kind of shiny, slow moving, probably enjoys the odd toddy in the evening, this Snake was very fast moving, highly excitable and to my mind kind of aggressive and self centered. In every respects it resembled a young Black Mamba, because had he been an adult Black Mamba he'd have easily been two long shovel handle lengths.

 Here in the USA we don't have Black Mamba's, but sometimes you hear stories about escaped exotic Pythons down there where the rich old people go to die, and if a person is just in a little bit of a panic, and Chipping Sparrows are being considerably braver than he is, a mind can jump to the excuse that maybe some local collector of exotic Snakes had lost his Black Mamba, and around here we do get the odd Snake Worshiper, so this is not a radical thought for a person to have.  Luckily I had a very long stick and was able to feel a little bit safe.  Of the two chicks,  the chipping Sparrows and I managed to save one.  The little thing not yet able to fly, hopped off into the grass.  The Snake had the other chick in its mouth.  Our eyes locked, and had he been a Black Mamba, odds are I'd be once again cursing the local ordinances for outlawing the Zoroastrian tradition of funerals.  Either way, the Snake dropped the Chipping Sparrow's chick, the chick was stone dead, his flight feathers a good few days off, that wonderful experience never to be for him.  But I was able to chase the Snake toward the slope. And My God he could move fast. So I guess he might have been what they call "A Black Racer."  The Chipping Sparrows did their stuff, they didn't linger and mourn, they fed their remaining child. The sooner he can fly the safer he'll be. Me, I was great deal less reasonable.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Yellow Chats and Bunting

Yellow Chats up and down and across the slope. Indigo Bunting are darting around, reacquainting themselves with their own idea of slope territories, and with Indigo Bunting you can be pretty certain they spent their holidays in map rooms plotting their next campaign. And here I'd call it the Indigo Bunting Summer Campaign, but it would probably make no sense to them, because for an Indigo Bunting it's always Summer. All the same, at this time of the year, they kind of have that  binocular wearing contentment of Generals, harmless but convinced of their invincibility. And when a few more weeks have passed, doubt and suspicion will set in and when that happens a boy Indigo Bunting becomes like a nutcase. Quite without balance, more like a berserker, which makes for a truly worrisome neighbor. And I guess that's what girl Indigo Bunting's look for in their men, a sort of wild eyed lunatic.

And I guess if you're a gentle Yellow Chat, devoted to the manners of song and dance, the nuances of movement, the Butterfly wing flapping that a person can hear if they're listening, and which no doubt in my mind has at least a potential to greatly impress the girl Yellow Chats, because it sure as hell impresses me. So, it must be kind of a nightmare having an Indigo Bunting as a neighbor. As well, you'd think that being bright shiny blue, a sort of Peacock feather blue, an Indigo Bunting would be very easy to see, sitting there all bad tempered on the Blackberry canes. But he's not, and if you're Yellow Chat practicing some kind of aerial pirouette, better get it all worked out before middle of June when Indigo Bunting reckon there's grain enough in the grasses for egg laying.  Because once that starts everyone on the slope pretty much has to hold their breath and keep perfectly still against Indigo Bunting, until maybe the end of July.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Throughout my years of education, which if I had to add them all up would probably comprise well over half a century, I have failed miserably to concentrate upon spelling, and as a result I have a crack like addiction to devices that come under the heading of "spell check."  That little red line tells me that a spelling is unrecognized. And here, if I type the word "labour" that little red line remains until I remove the "u." However once I type the word "labor" I am no longer a user of English, I am user of  American English.  Those English who reside in the United States, are sometimes prone to believe that in order to retain an Englishness, they must add the word "labour" to their American dictionary, and when they do so I have a strong desire never to meet them, or interact with them in any way, shape or form. In my world such an action is on a par with piecing an ear or being tattooed or trimming facial hair, rather than occasionally shaving it all off. And I could go on.

 However, the distinction between "Angels" and "Angles" presents an interesting challenge for me. Granted there is no forgiving the error in spelling, but in my own defense I will say that when it comes to speech I speak the word "Angle" as "ANG-EL."  And I speak the word "Angel" as "AIN-GELL." And I say "ANGL" to mean those Jutes who settled East Anglia and comprised one part of the Anglo Saxon People. Now, it's all very well being a pompous ass, but in order to pass the test of being a pompous ass, as opposed to a mere pompous ass in training, a person should really never make spelling errors, otherwise a pure and beautiful thought becomes "I spelled angles wrong."  And this realization is followed by a reaction I'll call, "Why don't I just get a nose ring."  And  I can't help but think such reaction is a little three dimensional for a Gardener who is desperately seeking to reach beyond edging.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Beyond Edging

 Recently, there's been many an oath and complaint from your correspondent. Suffice to say that a happy gardener isn't all straw hat and designer trowel, rather he is dour and grumbling. However, it does rain every now and then, and there is a certain joy to rain, which offers a better environment in which to reappraise practices and try hard to demonstrate some kind of flexibility of attitude that reaches a day or two beyond the mantra, "In the Long Run We Are All Dead."  And here I recognize an unfortunate pattern in my thinking, which I begin to believe I might have no control over.  And I find this rather depressing, because this pattern in my thinking begins to make me feel like a corporate entity rather than a living thing.

 Always useful to recall the idea of a square. The primary attributes of a square are 90 degree angles and equal lengths.  Possibly if I try to imagine myself in a world without 90 degree angles and equal lengths, I might find myself developing a relationship with the garden that might actually contain some sense of the organic.  It's not the geometry of the shortest distance between two places that should define the pattern of my thinking.  That's far too simplistic an approach. It's blind, it's short sighted and is quite without that single component of mind that might save my soul from the tyranny of Euclid. Instead I must enter the twentieth century, contemplate six, seven, even eight dimensions in order to get away from my servitude to edging.  And oddly I find this rather exciting.  It does however mean that I will have to totally redesign the Vegetable Garden.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Three Sisters

The idea of "Three Sister," is nut eating par excellence.  It has all the magic of dreams.  That sort of commune that permits a mind to wander further and further from the reality of early agriculture. And to be truly authentic I should go fishing and that part of the catch which is not turned to Fish gruel should be buried by each Maize plant so as to provide fertilizer. Then at night, instead of them sleeping in a comfortable domicile I would tether grandchildren within yards of the "Three Sisters" so as to protect the "Three Sisters"  from marauding bands of Antelope, Raccoon, deranged Opossum, Mole. And if I was to list all "Three Sister" predators  I'd be here until the end of August.  So clearly an even remotely  authentic "Three Sisters" would result in some kind of impasse between myself and a magistrate.

As well, I am able to grasp that my own regiment, is supremely anal. And here I mean anal in the "Freudian sense." Some distant trauma, I'm sure, but the reality is I like good edging, good tilth, patient soil preparation and rows. And  I really don't think that Beans should be permitted to climb Maize. Morning Glory can climb Maize certainly, but not Beans. And of the Winter Squash, there is really only one that I'm remotely interested in, and that variety of Squash needs to climb, otherwise I worry about it.  All the other Squashes are Pumpkins and good only for carving. A strong opinion I know, and probably puts me up there with General Foch, but I've been brave long enough. The "Three Sisters" will have edges and there will be staking, and God willing some kind of Berlin Wall.  And don't even mention "Domesticated Dog." I'd rather trust a Guinea Pig.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wholly Confident

Bean planting day.  Which theoretically means there will be no frost until late October.  And if there is I will go to the bank, borrow sufficient to cover the Vegetable Garden with what they call "Indoor, Out Door" carpeting.  And on this "Indoor, Out Door" carpeting, I will arrange a collection of "Gnomic" figurines, and some will be holding fishing rods other's will be engaged in appalling acts of depravity.

A somewhat dramatic oath you might think, but that's how confident I feel. Of course the last time I was this confident, a late frost blighted the Iris and nut trees. It killed an Apricot, caused havoc in the community of Bluebirds who lost their broods, and I had to spend a couple of weeks avoiding the accusing glare of Tree Swallows shivering on the electric line. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Strawberry Angst

Mockingbird's are partial to the Strawberry. And I guess it's really decent of us to grow so many of them, giving a Mockingbird plenty of chance to pick and chose, peck this one then that one until he finds the perfect Strawberry which he will then proceed to peck to death, and if he's lucky  he'll divide it in two so that he can fly up to the electric wire with half a Strawberry in his beak, and just sit there so that anybody who might be watching can be thoroughly impressed and not in the least irritated with him.  And of course this sort of off hand, entitled behavior from Mockingbirds results in considerable plotting from Gardeners, one of whom is kind of fond of Mockingbird's while the other hunts through Soldier of Fortune Magazine during her lunch break.

 The compromise achieved back in the winter, when we were all worried about simpler things, consisted of two basic strategies.  The first was a six foot blow up snake, that was absolutely guaranteed to discourage even the peskiest of pests. A Joke Gift, I guess. And if the blow up snake achieved anything, The Artist reports, it appears to be a magnet for Cardinals, much in the same way that Sunflower seeds attract Cardinals. And on occasion the blow up snake has almost given me a heart attack, which might be incidental.  The second strategy The Artist came up with, and which I thought brilliant, was to paint Strawberry shaped rocks in ripe Strawberry colors, about thirty of them, which is not something even an artist can accomplish in an afternoon, and then sneakily dot them around the Strawberry bed close to Strawberry ripening season.  And if you really need an answer, it's "No, it doesn't."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


One estimate will suggest the Cedar Mockingbirds attempt two broods a year, and their first brood is always in a Poofed-Up Cedar tree by the outbuilding, and by Poofed-Up I mean tufted so that it looks like one of those round lollypops, a sort of Louis Fourteenth ornamental that has great charm and elegance.  The troubling thing is that for their first brood the Cedar Mockingbirds have been using the same nest for at least four years, and possibly five. You'll see them add the odd twig and a bit of string, and they'll pounce around looking incredibly busy and sometimes rather haughty and pleased with themselves.

Of course memory isn't a strong point, and it's especially weak when there is so much to do out there, so I can hear a certain disdain at the idea of the most glamorous of Mockingbird Pairs being so indolent in their approach to their first brood.  And certainly there's always a possibility that I have become subject to failed memory, but if I'm correct there could be an argument that using the same nest year after year may be a sign of great confidence. But you know something, glamour is a sort of laziness that pays others to do the hard work, so I guess the Cedar Mockingbirds think of their second nest as their 'summer place.' 

Monday, May 5, 2014


If you divide 5 hours by 18 plants you get around 16 minutes per plant. So either a great deal of care and maybe an incantation or two, or perhaps there was just a lot of sitting around staring at stuff yesterday.  I'd also argue that 18 Tomato plants is quite a lot for two people, and The Artist still has 12 Tomato plants left in her nurseries, not counting the two Potato Leaf Brandywines that are sitting forlorn by the frost proof red spigot, and I guess they are there because of some kind of misbehavior on their part.

 This year the Artist's Tomato plants are all of them at least eighteen inches, and they kind of look like Oak Trees with the big strong stem and wide canopy.  And if you count the two ostracized Brandywines there are 14 Tomato Plants left to find homes for.  There's a couple of Old Germans, a Hill Billy or two, a Ponderosa, a couple of Jersey Devils and some Grande Marzano. But more important than any of this is each plant is identifiable through the magic of labeling.  Which is an achievement many years in the making and which can cause Gardeners to swagger around a little.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tomato Planting Day

 Some kind of green pollen out there. I could call it Grass Pollen, but that might upset Trees, because Trees too can produce pollen that can put down a layer of dust on something like the hood of a vehicle,  thick enough  to give you a chance to write a few words with your finger.  And here "dork" is a nice word, it's kind of expressive and shouldn't really upset anyone much beyond a raised eyebrow. I mean you're not talking "Down With Coca Cola," or any of those sort of emotive expressions that can piss people off.

The less positive side of Green Pollen  is the relationship it has with some nasal passages.  And I have come to the conclusion that of the pollens, Green Pollen is the sneakiest. It kind of creeps up on you, just a little dribble of the nose at first, that kind of dribble you can manage with a sleeve so long as no one is looking, then all of a sudden there's a sneeze and the next you know your blowing green slime into your hands, and you're wondering whether it might be time to seek help from the medical profession. Anyway, it's Tomato Planting Day.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Lyari is one of the older towns in Karachi. It's sort of west and north of the Lea Market Square. And I know this sort of from memory, and sort of from maps. And sometimes the memory and the map intersects and sometimes it doesn't.

One of the things to remember about memory is that no matter from which side you look at it, there are always gaps. Bits that have just gone. I guess too you have to ask what happens when the maps are changed. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Crow's Nest

I've come to think there's a Crow giving serious consideration to a nest down in Robina Wood. It's a kind of sinister part of the world, in my view. You hear the odd strange noise from down there, kind of like a Fox or maybe a Wild Cat, or perhaps someone's Pussy Cat gone feral, or maybe some new creature that's never been seen before.  The Artist loves it down there, but fortunately whenever she suggests a visit I have a whole lot of very important things to do.

The Mockingbirds too are a little distraught by the Crow pacing around, which is something Crows do when they are musing. It's a sort of hands behind the back pacing, that you can imagine military leaders engaged in prior to some major offensive. And clearly the Crow is worrying the odds, and pretty much ignoring everything else, including dive bombing Mockingbirds, assisted by Boy Cardinals and maybe the odd Wren. Crows of course have the cognitive powers of a well read eleven year old human child. So it's all rather worrying for us more simple folk.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May-Day, May-Day

Big day for those not that enamored by the Status Quo. That kind of sense that maybe our species should look at the world with fresh eyes, rather than step aboard the roller coaster at about two days old and sixty odd years later find ourselves sloshed into a grave, where for some reason there might be a tear and a couple of petals. But maybe we are more like equations, and it kind of takes a gene splice to alter us.

All the same a person can't help but wonder about the Age of Enlightenment. A couple of hundred years that ran against the grain of acceptance. Now it's all kind of back to the more ancient handbooks, which had much better understandings of us as equations. And always worth remembering the Art of Ancient Egypt, their portrayal of us people didn't much change for a couple of thousand years.  Either way, "hurray-hurray."