Monday, June 30, 2014


If my old friend the Close Mockingbird was still around there would be no Downy pecking at each and every bit of wood within fifty yards of the domicile.  It was a behavior he'd not tolerate. And I'd forgotten quite how insane Woodpeckers are, particularly the Downy who can become so engrossed by wood pecking he'll not see you creeping around, closer and closer, and when you go "Boo" at him, he'll make the noise of outrage, before flying to a branch where he'll chatter in your direction.  It's the Downy that'll take the grub of Bumble Borer from right under your nose, and he'll leave a post looking  pretty much as though someone's been at it with a Gatling Gun.  The Big Woodpecker, the Pileated Woodpecker is also dangerous to posts, his peck is like an axe. He's like a Dinosaur, but shy and wary when put beside a Downy. But it's the Hairy Woodpecker and the Yellow Sapsucker that a Gardener has to be more wary of, because without the Close Mockingbird to protect them, the gentler, sweeter trees when their sap rises, can get ringed.  A collar of perfectly placed holes all the way around the trunk. Not very polite or nice. Years ago, we lost a tufted Holly to that sort of completely unnecessary behavior.

In moments of reverie I have often recalled that Holly. The girdle of holes around her trunk was geometrically perfect. Mind you I didn't use calipers to judge the perfection, more of a visual feast within the context of a set of emotions that combined depression, irritation, reaching for the shotgun and admiration of Sapsuckers. The Holly herself had been acquired vicariously, and as is often the case with such rescues she had struggled long and hard to maintain her grip on life. Success for her came with berries and freshness until someone engaged by geometry decided to put an end to her. I guess too there has to be a dimensional content to the thinking of Woodpeckers as they respond to visual clues. Their model of the world must include an understanding of likely places to peck, which once found require them to have an understanding of where to peck.  Now, if this understanding in the Sapsucker is a geometrically perfect girdle around the trunk of a Holly, one might be tempted to give Woodpeckers an A plus for mechanical thinking.  But, as the tree dies and stands it becomes home to the insect grubs that Woodpeckers feast upon. And I reckon it's the case the community of Bumble Borers also enjoyed the Close Mockingbird's protection.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


I guess when the means of exchange becomes a commodity, asset bubbles are inevitable.  And possibly too, my own interpretations of  the market place are not bound by assurances of salesmen, but rather they are held fast in the iron grip of an analysis of our species that sees us all as kind of lost.  So invariably shiny things attract us, and better to put it within the framework of Christmas Tree decorations than to become all puritan and righteous in our reaction to our own limbic responses to I guess what the Saints might call 'egregiousness.'

But none of this means we have to be jolly about the Vegetable Garden. And here, I regret to say, I have to return to the conundrum of edging. If I was to say, "edging limits" life would be so much simpler, but I can't because I have to take a constructionalist approach, which means that  I have a model of my own universe in my own mind that has over time been  constructed out of the blank slate I might once have been. And how, I wonder, do I remove 'edging' from this model without enduring some kind of mental breakdown.  Such a shame the  lobotomy is no longer fashionable.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


The difference between a boy Bobwhite and a girl Bobwhite is in the appearance of the head. Boys have more black and white on their head than do girls.  As far as I know, Bobwhites are not known for their longevity, and yet I have read that a Bobwhite has been known to live for six years.  Often these claims of lifespan are made about birds that are pretty much lost to their wilderness and have persuaded a member of my own species to look out for them, with things like ground feeders and chasing away Cats and being raised for the hunters to shot. But when it comes to Albatross, there's no doubt in my mind that so long as they have food left to them by fishermen, they do indeed live a long life. It can take many species of Albatross up to ten years to reach breeding age, and after that they can have easily forty and probably fifty years left to them.

Albatross are philopatric, which means they will return year after year to their natal breeding ground, the place they were born. When an Albatross first decides to return to his or her natal breeding ground, he or she might have been wandering the oceans for years. And though they have, deep inside them, an ability to communicate with each other, those first meetings require speech and dance during which an Albatross learns the meanings of Albatross communication, their language.  Through the course of maturing an Albatross will dance and sing to many another Albatross, so that he or she might gain better and better understanding of what it is that other Albatross might be referring to, or what others might call 'syntax.'  And when these understandings become increasingly unique between a boy and girl Albatross a bond is born that will last the remainder of an Albatross lifetime. Bobwhite's can lay up to twenty five eggs a year. The Wandering Albatross lays one egg every two years.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Blackberry Picking Weather

 Lord, the hot air is upon us, and though the Winter might have been extra cold, it just seems wrong the Summer should be this hot, and humid and probably rainless and the bloom of mold on White Man's Foot and a sort of ennui in the Vegetable Garden.  'Limp' I guess it all is. 'Fetid' might also be a word, though I believe 'fetid' applies to odor. Either way, "it is not of roses" in the outdoors which means Blackberry will be ripening shortly.

Always worth lingering a moment on the hills and dales of the Welsh Marches, as I remember them.  The Blackberry there will not be ripening until probably the end of September.  There'll be little streams in the creases of higher land, and you might see a Dipper busy about her business. You'd be lucky to see a Mosquito, might even welcome one, and if you were bitten by a Tic you'd feel duty bound to report him to the Nature Conservancy Council.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Didn't realize how much I disliked the word 'Poo,' until the word was applied to the coprolites of Neanderthals unearthed somewhere in Spain, by a rush of star gazing cuties who pass for journalists. Nor does it come as a surprise to me that Neanderthals ate vegetables.

And too I will say that never did I agree with the argument that Neanderthals were reduced to extinction by failure to adequately compete with my own species in the hunting of meat.  Call me a wild eyed fanatic, if you wish to.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Putting a real price on things is really very difficult. You have to ask a question like, "what was the price of the second world war."  And here, when attempting the calculation, would you give each life lost a Dollar, or a Yen  figure.  And how would you calculate the value of a building, two minutes before it was destroyed. Also you'd have to have a calculation which gave a number to the entail of the second world war. The jobs, the movies, the sense of citizenship, the innovations and so on.

And then, you'd also have to give consideration to the other side. Make some calculation that would enable you to put a Dollar or Yen figure on the savings and benefits and costs of the war, had the other side won.  As well there'd have to be some consideration of what might have happened had the war never been. So putting a real price on things isn't easy. And it's the same with something like the real price of electricity, or the real price of a barrel of oil, or the real price of a compost pile.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


The Compost Piles are drying out very slowly, but now I think I've been adding too much soil to them.  There's always a German word for this sort of dissociation between the dream world and a reality. Not a pleasant experience, but quite obviously I have been in a fugue state around Compost Piles for some months. My imagination had dwelt heavily upon their well being and had produced a very fine compost that would melt in the fingers and would function as a dainty top dressing.  I saw my compost as milk chocolate brown, it smelled of good earth, and under no circumstances did it contain Mushroom and Toad Stool, or sinister white strands, or Millipedes the length of my foot.  Nor had I envisioned Moles growing fat on them.

There's a story of Alfred, paramount chief of the Wessex Tribes. Following a defeat he took refuge in a cave, and there, while pondering the futility of existence, he swatted at a Spider's web.  The Spider rebuilt her web, and each time Alfred swatted at it, the Spider would rebuild it. Alfred took the lesson to heart, saw his mission on earth more clearly, and went on to lead Wessex to a series of victories against the Viking. I too spend a great deal of time in my cave, and I too have occasionally swatted at a Spider's web. My own Spider is not big on rebuilding it. There's no rushing out to repair the damage, and clearly my own Spider is too cynical to inspire me toward greater efforts around Compost Piles. There is one good thing though, we have a multiplicity of Honey Bees.

Monday, June 23, 2014


The fever for innovation, was precipitated I guess by Darwin.  This idea that change is good and necessary does not figure much in the minds of men and women, prior to sometime well after the Napoleonic Wars, and reached a climax I guess in the nineteen seventies and eighties. More recently the fashionable word is 'Disrupt.'  It's essentially innovation at all costs, and primarily it doesn't apply to us as a set of genes, we've been the same creature for two hundred thousand years, but it does apply to the crap we produce and continue to produce. Which means for me at least, I can go into a hardware store and buy a nozzle for the hosepipe, and while I am waiting in the queue for my 'have a nice day' I can say to myself, "This nozzle is very inexpensive, I should probably get two of them.."  Then after the excitement of attaching my new nozzle to its hosepipe, I marvel at its efficiency and how well the on/off switch works, and by the end of the afternoon, through no fault of my own, the damn thing's broken, and it's irreparable.

 More critical to the success of 'Disrupt' is the idea of chaos.  The world is deemed to be entirely disorderly and any moment now it will descend into a wasteland where there will no longer be such things as dishwashers, or hosepipe nozzles and no one will ever again be able to spend their weeklong holiday in Cancun and we'll all be dying of hunger and without air-conditioning.  It's this idea of chaos that offers 'Disrupt' its justification, and has found its way deep into the heart of what is rather politely called 'Business Management.'  "Disrupt or die" is the slogan which I guess has replaced the somewhat nicer idea of innovate, where one can at least preserve an idea of progress, rather than have to think of it  in terms of just a bunch of people engaged by a definition of goodness that arises from the truly baser inclinations.  Innovate suggests something useful and lasting, but 'disrupt' might indeed be a truer expression of who we are and what we've been trying to do for the past two, maybe five, hundred thousand years.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Scat Anxiety

The Friend Who Lives Too Far Away identified a scat over there where edges do not apply, out beyond the zone of control, a wilderness of croaking and cricket, near to what's loosely referred to as the Orchard, where Three Sisters are attempting a harmony of nitrogen fixers, greedy Maize and travelling Hubbard and maybe a Candy Roaster to shade the earth.  There are Potato and well nibbled Soy Bean out there as well.  And the ground itself is kind of like Granite, so the Potato harvest is going to be a new experience because it'll probably require resorting to a hammer and chisel.  And there's no doubt of course that everything else out there in the Three Sisters will likely have the capacity to harvest themselves, which is very decent and thoughtful of them.

The scat contained some kind of berry, which after poking around a little, the Friend Who Lives Too Far Away determined was some kind of Cherry and that therefore the scat belonged to some kind of tree climber.  Nor did the scat look particularly well formed. It wasn't what I'd call a well considered scat, and the suggestion was made that it had been dumped there in haste.  As well the scat was kind of large, not something one might over look, and the wiser conclusion was that the scat belonged to a Raccoon.  And here my own thought was that  it was a pretty damned big Raccoon, maybe six foot three, 200 pounds.. Fortunately there's been considerable interest in scat of late, and what some of us thought might have been a scat issuing from something the size of a Possum or a Wild Cat or maybe a small Goat, turned out to have come from the Garden Toad, who's about four inches when seated.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Tilt

A little before six this morning, here where I live, the world paused upon its axis. The argument is that sometime perhaps a billion years ago, our planet had no tilt. Then some large astral body bumped into our planet and caused it to wobble on its journey around our star, and its been wobbling every since, giving us seasons and other moments of intense anxiety.

 Not a big fan of this wobble, because every year for the past forty, or perhaps fifty years, I have had to decide whether June 21st represents a high point or a low point in the course of my days here upon earth. Not an issue for many, I know.  This year I'd decided to take absolutely no notice. A decision I have failed to follow through on.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Close Mockingbird

I have to say that the Close Mockingbird is no longer with us.  I'd like to think it was old age that took him. I'd like to think he sang one last song from his Privet, then died peacefully.  His remains scattered now across the ground he knew so well, and maybe bits of him are over there in Central Time, carried there by something gentle, I hope.  I know for certain that he did have children, and was absolutely  horrible to them when time came for them to build their own empires. And I do know that as he aged he became cantankerous and stubborn, and I think probably he was getting a little short sighted when it came to recognizing girl Mockingbirds.

 I guess surviving the cold of last winter was his final challenge. But however much that cold might have addled his thoughts, he did feel the warmth of a blue sky on his feathers, he did see the full flower of Spring, he enjoyed the blossom in his Cherry Tree, he caught the scent of Honeysuckle,  he had his chance to give Yellow Chat something to talk about before the curtains closed upon him.  I'd say he was about eight years old, which is middle age for a Mockingbird. The front Porch is kind of empty without him and there are Downy Woodpecker in his two Maple Trees, but even though I learnt so much from him, admired him greatly, found peace in his company, I don't have the heart to chase them off.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


In the Gregorian Calendar this is the year 2014. In the Dangun Calendar, which is the older of the two  Korean calendars,  this is the year 4347. The Juche Calendar which is North Korea's current calendar it's the year 103. In one of the Chinese Calendars this is either the year 4710 or 4650 and it's really too complicated to work out which. There's a Hindu Calendar where our 2014 is either 5115 or 5116. The Assyrian Calendar, this year is a handsome 6764. Which in my view suggests that our species has been thinking about the passing of days and months and years for at least seven thousand years.

Juche is also a political philosophy, which like most political philosophies can be interpreted in a number of ways. It's basically a rejection of historical materialism in favor of people or idea as the guiding hand, and necessarily the people are encapsulated in the form and shape of a good or great leader, who is also in charge of the army, security services, the press, the television, and the list of ideas would be rather long.  I guess Saint Augustine would recognize Juche as an earthly means to discipline the body. But I have to think he probably had an opinion or two about what might happen when things went awry with the earthly leader. Not absolutely certain Augustine's solution was the correct one, but wouldn't it be nice of it was.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Zoroastrian tradition

Saint Swithin had kind of the right idea. He was a bishop and with Bishops they were often buried in their Cathedral, but Saint Swithin chose to be laid to rest outside, where his body might be subject to the feet of passers-by and rain.  Around a hundred years after his death, his body was moved into his Cathedral, and to show his displeasure at being disturbed, Saint Swithin may or may not have caused it to rain heavily for forty days and forty nights. And this I think is the point about the Zoroastrian tradition. Once the birds of the air have finished with your flesh, and once the Coyote, the neighbors dogs, the odd squirrel and maybe there's a bunch of others, have chewed up your bones, then there's no chance of a resting place being moved, because there is no resting place.

Being alive would be so much easier if when you were born, the ethers would gather and send you some kind of a telegram, or an email with the date and time of your last moment with life. September 23rd, 2021 at two in the morning, Greenwich Mean Time. Then you could plot your course, drift off in to the wilderness and pray hikers, or woodsmen, or landowners wouldn't find you until you were well gone back to the earth. It's a good theory, I know, but the practicalities of ensuring that birds of the air had the first go at you, rather than a Canine would require either a high degree of agility that might enable you to climb a tree and lodge yourself up there, or some kind of contraption that would lift you high into the air and hold enough of you there until well past your bloat phase.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Last year there were very few Grasshopper.  Perhaps one or two. I'm going to suggest that a Grasshopper Wasp had discovered their lairs and laid eggs which laid waste to the Grasshopper community. This Wasp has a name, but no-way will I ever remember it. It's also possible The Velvet Ant had something to do with the lack of Grasshopper last year, because last year Velvet Ant were charging around in dangerous numbers and they too feed on the hard work of others. And I'd argue that summer began about four days ago, with the heat and the sort of settled still air that causes a mind to wander toward bad language, because when it's like this, the sad fact is that only the insects and Creeping Grass are happy between noon and five in the afternoon.  The rest of us, we were not really designed to do anything more than enter a state of dazed ennui  after about eleven o'clock in the morning. We sort of gaze at things, ponder the big questions, understand the invention of alcohol and if forced into some sort of physical activity following instruction from the overseer, we become robotic and plodding, one step after the other with no future in sight, it's a sort of sleep walk. All the same it'll be interesting to see whether Grasshopper will make a more dramatic appearance this year. I kind of miss their beady eyes, their antenna, their leap into flight and the joy they take from chewing holes in those newer insect screens that don't go to rust.

 This year too, there's a chance that The Great Black Wasp will be sparse. It's their concentration of nesting in the barn that might have done it to them, because the barn has in my view become Velvet Ant Central. There are a great many boy Velvet Ants flying around, trying to look tough with each other in their hunt for girl Velvet Ants. Velvet Ants prey on the eggs of the Great Black Wasp. The thing about the Great Black Wasp, is their apparently mechanical nature. She likes four Crickets, or something like a Cricket. Not five or three, but four of them. And before she takes a Cricket into her lair so that her egg might having something to eat when it hatches, The Great Black Wasp, leaves the unconscious Cricket at the entrance to her burrow, goes down into the burrow, just to make certain all is well down there. When she returns to collect the Cricket, if the Cricket has been moved just a little bit, she won't discover it straight away, and when she does, she gets a little twitchy and finds it necessary to re-inspect her nest. So she'll again leave the Cricket at the entrance to her burrow, re-enter her burrow and she'll be gone to ground for a while. If you move the Cricket again, the cycle continues, and if you're really cruel, you can entertain yourself for hours. It's a compulsion on the part of The Great Black Wasp that's caused some of the wackier theorists to use the behavior to distinguish insects from animals.

Monday, June 16, 2014


The Vegetable Garden is ripe with Revanchism. You just have to turn your back for a couple of days, and it's like three weeks later. Good King Henry the size of small trees, edging all gone to pot. Portulaca dribbling around, you might want to call it Purslane if it's in a pot and has a potential for  bloom, but in the Vegetable Garden it's Portulaca, and quite what it might have ever done to me I don't know, but I sure have done some terrible things to it in the past and will be doing a few more terrible things to it before this week is up. 

 Even the Garden Toad seems to have doubled in size, and has taken on combinative appearance, which I'd like to think has more to do with his growth spurt, than due to some sort of sulking following an absence of muddiness in his wallowing spots.  And too there's a sense of being awash with Little Rabbit, the tiny ones, whose measure of adorableness does indeed exceed that of Chipmunk. And you can bet there's some kind of Tomato pox waiting after the cold night, which I missed here but experienced with coleslaw over there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Hiatus is from the Latin "to gape."  And in English what hiatus means is "a gap."   An interruption  in the flow of things.  A break from continuity. Which is kind of interesting because I always thought that hiatus meant something like "going nuts." A bunch of people rushing around like maniacs and behaving  poorly around things like beer or doing horrible things to Roses with golf clubs. And I keep going back to the dictionary of words, because very often a word in my mind has taken on a path of meaning that is only faintly reflected by the commandment of dictionaries. As well, I have always thoroughly distrusted anyone who takes their meaning of words entirely from the dictionary.  It implies a mind that is stuck in a moment, a mind that is static, constrained and made content by a kind of pedantry that is a frightfully clever clockwork as well as anal retentive. And I guess we all need our concrete edge, I know I have mine.

However I am about to embark upon a "Hiatus." A break, an interruption in flow, a gap and indeed in my meaning of hiatus, during the hiatus, I might even revert to aspects of the Latin word, hiatus. Another of the more distressing parts of a hiatus, is I guess the Hiatus Prelude, and it's during Hiatus Prelude that I'd suggest Plato's advice on the "beginning of things," comes into play. "They too," he argued, "are a god."  Which in my mind has always referred to attitude, and attitude is essentially an answer to the question Why? And here, we who are, shall we say 'uniquely adjusted' rather than 'weird,' tend to have to gaze into the eyes of psychiatry when answering the question Why to the satisfaction of others. All of which sounds like Emerson, which is, I hope you'll agree, deeply, deeply depressing. So I am really, really looking forward to the next four days as me. And I'll call it Hiatus.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cucumber and Chard

A proud Cucumber, or rather five Proud Cucumbers, they just look fantastic, vibrant and happy, their little tendrils fluttering around and leaves that dark green, which for a while I thought might have meant too rich a diet for the production of a fruiting body. But lo, in that cruel valley of wind, blue sky, Stinkbug and the hell that is the Leaping Cucumber Beetle it could be that kind of season that produces the entire continuum of Cucumber.  From the sweet young things, through the teenagers and all the way to those grannies and grandpas many of whom, despite local ordinances get the Zoroastrian treatment and are popped on the Compost Pile where the lazier Possums sit in deck chairs. Fortunately the freezers are pretty much empty at the moment, and when sliced and packed in a little salt, a little sugar, maybe a little Dill and a little watered down vinegar, experience suggests that Cucumber can be frozen, and if the electric is constant can be kept for at least two years, possibly three.

 Chard is always pretty much of a nightmare. In it's baby years, it looks as though it's going to die, so you over coddle, your imagination runs riot, and you wonder why. And you might have the odd happy dream about Groundhog penetrating the Garden Fortress and putting an end to the problem of Chard. But Chard likes to tease us Gardeners. What it's actually doing is setting its own standards, demanding attention and training the Gardener to get his mind around Caterpillar Season. They're little green, Chard colored bastards and there can be hundreds, if not thousands of them. Birds, who by Caterpillar Season have become picky about what they eat, might sample a few. The rest are down to nimble fingers and patience. But sometimes during Caterpillar Season, which lasts from the middle of this month to the end of September, you just have to cut every Chard down to the ground, and hope they regroup. And already I'm kind of jumpy around rutting White Butterfly, which could be the honeymoon phase of  Chard Caterpillars.  But we can't kill them all, in case they never come back.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Preparing for Blackberry

 One of the things about Preparing for Blackberry, is that the paths you cut also make it easier for others. Turkeys, Raccoons, Possums and the panoply of digestive tracts that relish Berries. Then there is the issue of Blackberry thorns, how others manage thorns, I don't know.  You'd think that a plant would wish to spread seed as far and wide as possible, but Blackberry must have some idea about who it is that does the spreading. You have to be very determined and brave, bold and noble, heroic even, because the bulk of Blackberries, are almost impossible to reach, unless you are small and can perch, or have the capacity to hover, or have very, very long arms with something nimble on the end of them.

 Obviously not the thing that is me, because I am short, round, easily overheated and nervous around snakes or things that look or sound as though they might be snakes, and I'm pretty certain there is an undiscovered species in these here hills that spends much of it's time hiding things like hammers and trowels and screwdrivers and clippers and balls of string from me and I know for a fact that down there in Robina Wood where the better Blackberries are, there is something that growls and sometimes sneezes, and I don't believe this creature is tree climbing or friendly. So it's all a bit of an adventure, but the Blackberry look plentiful. They must have enjoyed the winter.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Righteous Exchange

There's a theory that money is about credit, rather than some ho-ha around righteous exchange. So when you buy something you clear a little credit, or maybe a lot of credit. It also means that if you have ten dollars, someone somewhere owes you something, and your job is to decide who owes you what. And you have to think, that to come up with this argument, a person must have been very badly treated as a child, and now spends their time in a windowless room. However, the theory does explain why for so many, shopping is high up there as the principal source of happiness. When you buy something from a shop, you are relieving another of his debt to you, and this makes you feel good, and generous, and it's all very warm and fuzzy, and they say things like "thank you," "have a nice day," "come back," and they might even give you a thank you bag,  and you go home feeling valuable and much better about yourself.

I'm old fashioned I guess, because I prefer to think of money as the source of all evil. It's the Devil's own equation, his double entry accounting, it's his gift to us sinners that allows us to put a price on everything, including piety, rain forests and the mentally ill. And he's very fashionable at the moment, all high and mighty and pleased with himself. God - blessed be unto him - still whittles on with his strange notions of credit in the afterlife, and his absolute refusal through the course of the past couple of thousand years to oblige those brave few who have tried to find solace in the 'End of Days' rather than a shopping mall or a second hand car lot. Granted my own wisdom and explanation are also derived from sitting in a windowless room and cursing  Burpee Seeds who apparently don't owe me anything other than "thank you," "have a nice day" and "come back."

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Elegant wrists are a big disadvantage in life. Might just as well put a bangle on them and practice the beauty queen wave. Then when a person considers possible genetic origins of the elegant wrist, nothing really very good comes from the thought process.  I'm back there in the cave, something like the Woolly Mammoth are running, and all the boys and girls are getting all excited at the prospect of some kind of meat product, and because I can't pick up my Mammoth womping rock, I'm off with the geriatrics to gather berries, or nuts, or leafy greens, or whatever.

It's always possible there was a tribe of elegant wrist people. We never ventured much further north than the warmer parts of Europe. Southern Spain, I'd like to think, because I can't believe we ever worked our way up through the hell that is Mesopotamia. Nor can I believe we crossed the water in any kind of boat, so there must have been a land bridge across the strait of Gibraltar, and we did stuff like sitting on hills, avoiding sunlight, staring into the horizon and giving  each other endless theories about nothing in particular. The golden days, I guess.

Friday, June 6, 2014


In the West we often forget the role of the Second World War and the role of the Soviet Union in developing a  post world war two western consensus around a social contract, which for one reason or another began to quickly fade when the Soviet Union began to crumble. There's a whole argument here, The Austrian School, The Keynesians, the greed is good school, and the list would go on to probably include the Romans.

However on this anniversary, you have to ask why the graveyards and battle fields of seventy years ago are free to the general public, but the graveyard and battlefield of the day now referred to as  9/11 will cost you. And you have to wonder what the old soldiers might think of that. And of their possible answers, I have to think "They should also pay to get into our graveyard," might not be one of them.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hanging Nests

 For a good few years, probably nine, an Orchard Oriole has been nesting within a three or four hundred yards of The Vegetable Garden. And I can at last say this with a high degree of confidence, because I have seen the Orchard Oriole, not just as "Probably a Cowbird" but a genuine close up "Hello, I am The Boy Orchard Oriole and this is The Girl Orchard Oriole and you have the Tick bite to prove it." I understand that these are not recognized ornithological terms, but they serve well enough as objective expressions for the purposes of whatever set of adjectives I am becoming.  And it's all kind of a relief because it means the Weaver-like nests I have seen in the fall of the past couple of years are more than likely Orchard Oriole Nests. They are kind of amazing hanging  nests, and sometimes they are low to the ground, so a person can really examine them, but be warned it's very very unlucky to gather any kind of nest, because that's where Wrens and Bluebirds go during a Polar Vortex.

Now I have to admit that Orchard Orioles are kind of nervous wrecks, far too busy to sit still, they kind of have a flutter to them and they dart about, but I did get my chance to admire their beak, which is thinner and longer and more pointed than the Finch beak. Granted all nesting birds weave, and they do so with their beaks, which must be kind of like weaving with chop-sticks. But there's a big distinction between a nest that hangs, and a nest that is sort of plopped onto a branch and then jammed in place.  The communal hanging nest of sub-Saharan Sparrow Weavers, are mind blowing with the noise and quarreling, and it's basically all just showing off on their part. Then there are Weaver Finches that weave nests that look like Dipper Gourds and the nest sort of tosses about in the breeze, and when chicks are fed there's enough noise to wake the dead.  But the Orchard Oriole, who is primarily an insect and fruit eater but can also sip nectar from flowering plants, likes a hanging nest that no one will ever see or hear, until he is gone south for the winter.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


In expectation of squall lines, some of us have been tying stuff up. Just wish when the rain came it did so politely, rather than with fanfare and alarm.  It's a kind of "Hello, I'm Back!" and things can get drowned, which is why some of us have been undoing some of those careful, moisture retaining bowls we spent so many happy hours building.

The Compost Piles too, are what they call "over watered." Which I think means they are pretty much down to anaerobic cesspools. Now I guess I could try one of those products designed for the septic tank, but for one reason or another I get great pleasure from turning the Compost Piles over while whispering sweet nothings to them. It's the padded room soon, I tell you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Flying Carpets

You can learn a lot about the world from a seed company's approach to propaganda. And I guess over time the marketing department becomes so engrossed by themselves that their connection to reality becomes a sort of super-duper-meta-narrative built around a thesaurus, supported by imaging software and maintained by some kind of mind altering substance that causes a marketing department employee to believe he is flying around on a magic carpet.  And you have to ask, what the hell's the point of trusting words, or what people say.

I know it's not real fashionable to talk about Orwell. He's sort of scary looking socialist from the Great Depression kind of a person. He did sort of socialist things, like being a schoolboy at Eton, like growing a Hitler mustache and joining the Colonial Police Force in Burma. He he had relatives out there. Returning to England to see how the English poor lived, then tried to go to jail to see how the English poor really lived, did a bit of teaching at kind of posh schools, and a couple of months after he got married he went off to  fight for the communists in the Spanish Civil War. So I guess all flying carpets are relative, and Cancun is real.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Waiting for Stinkbug

The Thrasher's child is flying, the lucky little devil. He's very sweet and still too innocent to feed himself, and he spends much of his time around the Compost Piles, where there is good cover for him and things to peck at, and he can foray out onto the grass, get all excited about things like Clover Bloom in one of The Artist's Puddles, which are areas of longer grass that are kind of semi tame, and a  perfect place for a young Thrasher to get a sense of his world, without being jumped on by something.  The parent Thrashers are getting to that point where they no longer issue nervous warnings, and you get the impression that they might be kind of proud, because they'll stare at you and maybe I'm mistaken, but they kind of puff up a little in that slightly off-putting  snooty manner. So it's all rather nice with the comradeship and a sort of warm feeling and no one getting worked up with each other, and throwing blame around as though it was confetti and making Gardeners feel guilty of something, which causes Gardeners to creep around and avoid certain parts of the Garden so as not to get yelled at.

It's very difficult to explain to a bird that while there might be some who wish them ill, not everyone considers them food. Thrashers are related to Mockingbirds, and another interesting thing about Mockingbirds is that they can tell the difference between people who might be up to no good and people who are perhaps too dim-witted to be concerned about. I'm sure you might think this mumbo-jumbo, but it's true where I live. Maybe Thrashers share this ability, but I don't really think so, because Thrashers don't observe the sort of territories that Mockingbirds observe. I think perhaps Thrashers are a little more adventurous than Mockingbirds, not quite so fuddy-duddy, if you get my drift. And I guess, what with the Summer Tanager going on and on, and the Cardinal with his particularly piercing screech on the electric line, and Chipmunk driven to distraction by the lack of the Spring Maple Wing-Nuts, a time comes when pretty much everyone ignores their Gardener. But I reckon it's worth it, because pretty soon now the tooth and claw of Insect Season begins. Green Stinkbug, the more agile of the Stinkbug, are going to be trouble this year. It's going to get ugly, and I'm ready for them.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Red Birds

I guess there might be something about Cardinals. It's that little peak on the top of their heads. The boys will use it when they call, and to see them use it, you have to catch one singing on the electric wire. And they don't often do that, because they prefer to rattle on in the kind of low bush that offers them nesting potential, or somewhere a little higher with leaves to hide behind.  And as a rule there are more boy Cardinals than there are girl Cardinals, which means that sometimes a boy Cardinal becomes anxious about the future of his own particular generation and he'll say "to hell with this, I'm going to try the electric wire, because I have a wonderfully straight back and my peak is perfect." Which is probably just as well, because otherwise, I might not have seen a boy Cardinal use his peak. And I kind of wish him well, which is that kind of downhill that leads to affection, and a Cardinal nest is always pretty low to the ground in something spindly, on flimsy branches, and the longer Snake doesn't really have to exert himself to reach the nest. Then the proud parents get all worked up, and a person has to leave what ever important thing they might have been doing, hunt around for long sticks. And it's all very depressing, and kind of a lost cause, especially in July and August. But there are a lot of Cardinals around so something must be working for their kind.

The other red bird, can also be very irritating. He is the Boy Summer Tanager. Now, I have gone on and on about the Boy Summer Tanager and I have made a practice of doing so, because short of resorting to something like an automatic weapon or a hell fire missile,  it is the only reward I get. For some years I have tried to adapt a tortuous psychological approach to the relationship, by attempting to think of the Summer Tanager as a practitioner of post structuralism. I'd hoped this might give us a chance to bond, and I did so because my patience with the eccentric knows no bounds. However more recently, I have come to the conclusion that the Summer Tanager is engaged in a very deliberate attempt to drive me toward the padded cell. His song gets in my head, and stays there. It's kind of like when you're playing chess with a technical device, and a particular move enters your dreams, develops a personality of its own, and you can wake up in the middle of the night pretty close to that point which suggests it might be necessary to throw the computer out of the window, then beat at it with the shovel.  So it's kind of important that I review my relationship with the Summer Tanager before things get badly out of kilter.