Saturday, April 30, 2016

Birds

Be still the heart, Yellow Chat Distraction is upon us. A most glorious bird, who probably not once in his time upon earth has considered writing a list during the summer months. They're far to busy, displaying the dashing eyebrow, practicing their songs and their butterfly dance while girl Yellow Chat's yawn. All the same your correspondent still dreams of embarking upon an intimate critique of the Gold Standard, a recipe sure to produce sleepless nights of creeping around, overdosing on cigarettes and other painful behaviors, all of which means some kind of compromise through distraction is required in the interest of mental health, wellbeing and harmony. Sadly, the most tempting question on this rainy day, "Is Bernie Sanders a Yellow Chat?" I think the more manipulating professional might call this a necessary Baby Step Question for a patient attempting to remove himself from the press and angst of politics and for all mental patients with CTD (Compulsive Talking Disorder, an attention seeking subset of tourettes) such as George Will, much of Hollywood and the list is kind of long.

The search for any kind of relationships between Birds and political actors does seem to denigrate our feathered friends, so easier perhaps to maintain balance by entering the area of thought with a less complex and endearing character than Sanders. And here the mind wanders hopelessly toward Rafael Edward Cruz as a starting point. Interesting that on occasion Cruz seems to have suggested that god called him to the presidency. My own peculiar reaction to the news was to recall the events of May 1848 in Salt Lake Valley which is in the north east part of a territory which became the 45th State of the Union in 1896. The point about that particular May of 1848 is that had it not been for Seagulls 4000 followers of Brigham Young might have starved following a crop failure. Ravenous crickets, or possibly grasshoppers, were destroying their fields, eating everything in their path, then suddenly a miracle occurred. Seagulls, thousands, possible millions of them appeared out of nowhere saved the crop by eating all the crickets. In the search for a relationship between Birds and political actors one place to start might be with a Bird's choice of food and more especially a Bird's habits around collecting food.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Politics, theory, Hoppy Bug, TINA and I.

One of the more problematic areas with any level of education, outside of experience, is that it grants provenance to the theoretical, and more often than not with the theoretical, theory is considered a truth that defines the real. Theories of the Economic and Social kind that are defined as real, rather than being a noble and usually fruitless attempts to explore the possible from the comfort of an armchair become like words, all put together into a dictionary where their meanings are secured and then policed by uniformed and well titled pedants, I think they're called memes, or copies of themselves or thought police, and "Politically Correct" springs to mind. Theory, any theory, becomes territory, it might expand, it might contract, but it goes around and around because essentially it contains the geometry of a circle, a quality that comforts us people, suggests certainty. It's the winding path into the green savannah with hills in the distance, that suggest adventure, excitement and it's probably for the young people. The thing about all categories of living things is that like words they have their being on a slope, which has no up and no down, no sideways, it's precarious rather than flat and here you can call me a pedant or a nitwit if you wish to.  But one of the excellent characteristics possessed by the Political Class is they don't actually hold to the idea of truth and neither does life. It's the Reins of Power the Political Class seek. And thank goodness for it, otherwise we people would be more like Hoppy Bug waiting around for a genetic anomaly to grant us the opportunity to travel to Mars to get away from a gardener with his poisonous dusts and bonfire. Mind you there's always the chance we are more like Hoppy Bug than we would like to think, a precarious idea worthy of both a pedant and a nitwit.

"One small hop for a Hoppy Bug, one giant leap for Hoppy-Bug-Kind." My argument would be that the decline of a theory's ability to reflect the possible is an example of a circle in the process of attempting to redefine itself, and please be aware that having done battle with them for some years now, it's my view the Hoppy Bug will outlast my own species here on earth. Hoppy Bug are like theories to the extent that both are stubborn creatures. But I do have one understanding of Donald Trump and his emergence as US Republican Party presidential candidate. It has nothing to do with racism, it has nothing to do with immigration, it has nothing to do with a diet of fast food, or guns, or bibles or television sets, or social media, or any kind of aspersion cast upon Trump supporters by the high and mighty. Rather it's the consequence of a theory called "it's the economy stupid" which has been enforced by a careless Political Class against the interests of an increasing number of voters. Naturally enough the question engages TINA- There Is No Alternative. And granted, it might well be that TINA is some kind of genetic anomaly not all of us have inherited. Now, if the morning ever comes I'll be torn between directing a reader's attention to the arrival of Yellow Chat, the imminent bloom of Foxglove, the recent rain that put spine into our Potato and the singular achievement of Bernie Sanders which has been to successfully introduce the word Socialism to a discourse that hither to fore has considered the word Socialism so dangerous a subversion of United States Values it was worth stamping out wherever it occurred. Yes indeed 2016 is a wonderful year for an Existentialist with a vote, I'm enjoying it so far.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hello Donald Trump

"Two reasons. It wouldn't be logical to withdraw our investment from where we're growing, and our goal is to protect investments in emerging markets."  It was a while ago, but these humble words from the President of General Motors on February 2nd 2009, basically meant that GM was going to invest a billion dollars in Brazil and not in the United States. It was money from TARP loaned to General Motors that made this possible, it contained conditions but none the less it was a loan to a Global Corporation's decision makers not to the people of Detroit or Ohio. It was something new conservatives understood, and despite certain reservations about the principle of government inefficiencies interfering with the free market, they saw the benefit of investing in the industry of emerging markets where labor was less expensive, ill-organized and a great deal more obedient. Unfortunately many people in the USA failed to understand this, but they were mostly poor and powerless, a day to day, hand to mouth lifestyle with appalling eating habits, a terrible attitude toward bootstraps, blind to the opportunities available to them, devoted to their bibles, guns and their television set, possessed by a series of personal flaws that had probably prevented them from pursuing a useful career by graduating from somewhere like the Harvard School of Business. Then in the 2012 General Election the Republican Candidate for President was recorded on tape at a private fundraising dinner formalizing the neo-liberal position by informing his contributors that 47% of the American people didn't pay taxes, all they wanted was stuff from the government, they were a burden on the public purse and his job as a Presidential Candidate was not to concern himself with them because he'd never convince the 47% to "take personal responsibility and care for their own lives." They just didn't seem to understand that whole hearted devotion to Profit was the Solution to the the Problem, it was the engine of plenty, a Computer made in China in every shirt pocket, an Indonesian Shrimp on every plate, a garage with car elevator in every driveway, the economy was global, corporations were people, investment anywhere in the world that produced profit was a benefit to the whole.

The 2012 election also produced the wonderful idea from US Republicans that there was a major, unexplored, best seller endorsed distinction between "I" and "We." They'd been hunting around for some kind of justification for growing inequalities of wealth within the United States, and they decided to introduce their feminine side by making Ayn Rand a Saint. Atlas Shrugged, the great man theory of being, a consequential elite that knew what was best for the rest of us. "I swear by my life that I made this, you didn't. So you don't actually deserve anything from me, least of all a chapter in the book, nor do I need anything from you." It's paraphrase from an often quoted line from the New Conservative's Saint, but if you'd actually read Atlas Shrugged, you might have realized it was kind of a thriller like Biggles with mediocrity as the enemy instead of the Hun interspersed with the occasional simplistic grasp of Nietzsche's sad commentary upon our disappointment in God and the assumption of some kind of glorious flow running, almost genetic, though a select few who deserved the reward here in earth. Call it sociopathic if you have to, but it served a good purpose for a new conservative's sense of self, it drew a halo under which a person could stand proud when confronted by something like a homelessness veteran, it plumbed right into the neo-liberal idea, it appealed to narcissism and the kind of paranoia that produces the old fashioned Prophet that reckons he's spoken to God.  In the 2012 election the Republican Party, whose Presidential candidate was a Billionaire, a Management Consultant and former Governor of a North Eastern State, failed to defeat President Obama. But, while the party gained power over the Congress it further lost touch with those loyal Republican voters, who felt betrayed by their failure to understand their own very humble role within the neo-liberal "It's the economy stupid," which a majority in the Political Class, Democrats, Republicans, had very quickly learned to worship. The thing about Political Parties is that they are Tribes and a tribe's clans expect stuff from their Tribal Elders. Then when Tribal Elders fail to produce the right kind of stuff, there's trouble for the Castle. And here, I think it worth suggesting that Neo-Liberal "It's the economy stupid" hasn't actually been working for the bulk of Republican voters. Hello Donald Trump.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Prelude to Election 2012

Call them purists if you wish to, the ideologues. Call them incredibly brave or incredibly stupid, but there were some who objected to the idea of "Too Big to Fail." The point is the market had spoken, and the market had rightly chosen to discipline its worker bees. "Too Big to Fail" was a surrender to the wishy-washy, the frail and the weak. Then when the motor industry here in the United States declared itself on the verge of bankruptcy the New Conservatives had a second chance to redeem their philosophy, their reputation and their pride. But the President of the United States and the Congress were weak, they were against the idea of permitting the United States motor industry to go bankrupt, and when money from the central government found its way to Ford, General Motors and Chrysler in the form of a loan that was unavailable from the Free Market, Wall Street or a bank, we new conservatives did enjoy some solace from the words "National Security."  Interesting that in the media and in the popular imagination the more contemptuous term "Bail Out" was used. "Bail out the banks! Bail out Wall Street! Bail out the motor industry!" All of it Big Money, and meanwhile for Little Money, jobs became scarce, "good" jobs became scarcer, people lost their homes, or perhaps their second homes, their retirement funds, the President was a black man, the nation was being over run by illegal immigrants, foreigners who didn't speak English, the National Debt was enormous and Taxes were still far too high to encourage Job Creators and the kind of Savior Innovation which was just around the corner, or in someone's garage, or god forbid in the fever swamps of academia. And sometimes a person just has to wonder, even if doing so is pretty much a fatal personality flaw and very bad for the complexion.

But I'll tell you this much, what with one thing and another we post-modernists were in deep do-do on January 20th 2009, Inauguration Day. Existential angst was a biggy, we were in danger of losing our capacity to win voters, the worst had happened, it was time to reappraise our circumstance by looking at the balance sheet. Clearly there were fewer and fewer of us, but fortunately we were so incredibly wealthy we were obviously far too big and important to fail, we had willing allies in the media who would flock to the idea of Death Panels and whether or not the new President was born in the United States, we had politicians who needed our resources to get elected, we raised the issue of rampant Voter Fraud but of the many things we did in the privacy of our castle one of the more exciting was to invent the Tea Party, a grass roots effort built around the idea of Main Street, the dire straits in which the nation had found itself, the common man in the street, or the hollow, increasingly isolated from influence over his own fate through a corrupted political class. It all called for the same fundamentalist attitude that seemed to be working so well in the Middle East for the more revolutionary Mullah. So let loose the dogs of war, reason and compromise be damned, if the alternative was losing we had to win, not tomorrow or sometime in the inevitable future but now, today. And we had to win because we had right on our side and if we didn't win our wonderful nation would end up looking like Greece, or France and we'd probably all have to learn Spanish or Brazilian or whatever. Yes indeed, here in the United States the 2012 general election was going to be fascinating. We had our man picked out, he was the right sort, he was one of us, good looking, he had his own hair, and we had a whole raft of almost Reganesque bumblers who had trouble tying their laces but who if they did become President could easily be persuaded to do the right thing and read from one of Robinson or Noonan's scripts. And we had all the correct answers to the low-end trick questions like, "How much is a quart of milk in a shop?"

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Neo-Liberalism and Too Big To Fail

I began this conversation with myself some days ago by suggesting that in the USA there's a growing reaction against Neo-Liberalism. Those of us who could well be Post-Modernists are currently increasingly unfashionable, our time has gone, a pointless luxury. Call us Existentialists, greet us with suspicion, there's nothing worthwhile, nothing worth living for, without some kind of genuine truth we all might as well be dead, so why not just deceive each other for the sake of a career or a job on the radio or a chair as a talking head. Yet for the gently angst laden, one of the great joys to be had from the Political Class and their multiple allies during times of intense stress, such as an election season, is watching the story, a sporting event with words and symbols. Not a Spelling Bee, you understand, where there is only one correct answer, rather a competition to write a story we actually want to hear, a best seller I guess. Then when the election season is done, a story wins and that story has to confront the Court of the Possible, and in that court the end of the story is rewritten, endlessly, time and again, always. And I'd agree with you, my own position with respect to our species has never really been a very pretty one which makes me a prime target for the temptations of Neo-Liberal philosophy or a church, which might come as odd from a gardener who in his years has found solace amongst his vegetables from the Hashomar Hatzair Movement's understanding, which was to shape the image of a child from birth to maturity through care and community instead of variations on the theme of "Winner Take All."

In some districts of United States' Republican Party, Ronald Reagan has the stature of a Saint, not a Pope authorized Saint, rather a popularly acclaimed regional and very localized saint which is how sainthood was granted in the Medieval Period. It was while in search of votes for the Reagan story that the Republican Party introduced passages to their narrative that would appeal to Social Conservatives, who quickly emerged from the spiritual world with a whole bunch of new chapter headings. It was a simple, not complicated loyalty, a chapter called Pro-Life was pretty much all it took, and the complexities of such questions as rich men and the eye of a needle were all kind subsumed within an idea of charity, bootstraps, personal responsibility and it's your fault if you're hungry or pregnant, a great boon to the worry of an evil Central Government squandering the nation's wealth on pointless things like satanic Supreme Court Judges, civil rights, welfare programs and welfare cheating. Yes indeed the books of Kennedy and Johnson finally sent to the second hand shop and the rot of course had already set in with Franklin Roosevelt. Then sometime around the end of the second Bush's administration the economy did indeed go crazy stupid. As a Neo-Liberal, I would have assumed the Darwinian position and I would have nobly said "Let no organ of government interfere. For the greater good of true reward, efficiency and the future of our world, what will be, will be." But that didn't happen, interest rates flat-lined, money was printed to plug the gap amidst the chicken hearted waffle of "too big to fail."

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sanders and the Democratic Party

I'd argue that Social Conservatives, with respect to the strength of their convictions and their organizational capacities, could set an example to the Sander's Socialist Movement. But were the economy to suddenly start producing a great many excellent secure jobs with generous retirement and health packages, I'd suggest the great majority of the Sanders Devotees would drift into the corporate valleys of Capital and there they'd remain, like lumps of coal. Social Conservatives benefit from the ideas of Christian Leadership which enforce a duty to care about stuff like abortion, gay marriage, giving to charity, building tax free churches and whether or not to use a prophylactic before traditionally sanctioned bonding activities, as well as an ethic which encourages community through a form of segregation. It's a mind blowing thing, hard for some of us to comprehend, but Christian leadership promises a unearthly future after death which apparently is worth sacrificing for.

Luther is strong here in the USA, we are individually responsible for the fate of our soul. Socialism and to a certain extent the Democratic Party suggest otherwise. It's a global community we live in, they'd claim. And "It Takes a Village," a Nigerian proverb I believe was the title the book Hillary Clinton found the time to write when she was Bill Clinton's First Lady. It was the more ardent New Conservatives, determined to destroy the Clinton Presidency who proceeded through the new media to spread the idea that Hillary Clinton believed "It takes a government to raise a child." Depends on the meaning of government, I'd guess. And here, rather than rambling on, I think the point I'm trying to make is that Bernie Sanders is no Lenin, but at the same time a good job, hard work and the occasional holiday at the beach is pretty much the root of President Obama's (the current President of the United States) evaluation of a person's wants, anything else it seems might be too complicated for the majority of us, and he could well be correct.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Neo-Liberalism and the USA's Democratic Party

It was the actor and Union Leader, Ronald Reagan, he was President of the Screen Actors Guild for seven years, who gave the New Conservatives their chance to test their theories. He was USA's very own trouser wearing Margaret Thatcher, without the TINA (There Is No Alternative) convictions. President Reagan's administration was followed by President George H W Bush who's honorable contribution was to destroy his own reputation by trying to clear a certain indebtedness the United States had fallen into following the eight years of Ronald Reagan's attempt to starve the Beast of Government by reducing taxes, which the new conservatives had convinced themselves was the Solution to The Problem. George H W Bush did his best, but he pissed off the new conservatives and was blamed for being insufficiently austere which somehow or other had resulted in a downturn in the economy, which meant George H W Bush served one term and the Republican Party lost control of the Presidency to a man called William Jefferson Clinton, a member of the USA's Democratic Party.

William Clinton's signature phrase during the 1992 election was "It's the economy, stupid!" and his administration proceeded to adopt many of the new conservative ideas which included reducing the size and responsibilities of government, a devotion to the idea of Free Trade within a Global Economy and a reduction of government's control over the Organs of Capital, stuff like banks and the stock market. In the USA manufacturing increasingly struggled to compete, employment in manufacturing suffered as manufacturing capital moved to all sorts of places, including China, and if you had any kind of income in the United states stuff to buy became cheaper and more plentiful while the quality of jobs in the United States became less and less certain and more and more poorly paid. Any way I think the point I'm trying to make is that President Clinton, who is Democratic Presidential Primary candidate Hillary Clinton's husband, was to the Democratic Party kind of like the United Kingdom's Tony Blair was to the British Labour Party, without the "Let's invade Iraq" idiot gene.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

USA Republican Party

In the USA there's a growing reaction against the Neo-liberal idea. In this context "liberals" were the free market people, Adam Smith and the invisible hand, and we're talking the "liberal" of two hundred years ago, rather than something like the "liberal" of a progressive democrat, all wishy-washy, and soft hearted. It was probably the First World War followed by the Great Depression of 1930's followed by the Second World War, when the world kind of came together and said "There's something seriously wrong with us. Let's see if we can't take control of our circumstance." And while some people answered "That has to work" other people said "That could work" and some people said "That's not going to work,  never has, never will," and this third lot of people came up with all kinds of theories which coalesced into Neo-liberalism.

Another way of looking at Neo-Liberalism is to do away with all confusion over the word Liberal and call adherers to the idea, Neo-cons. Neo-cons are the new conservatives, as opposed to the old conservatives of the 1940's through the 1960's, people like Nixon who thought things like National Parks, some kind of mandated health care system and clean air ordinances might be a good idea. Old Conservatives and New Conservatives are not to be confused with Social Conservatives. Social Conservatives are inclined to dismiss the theories of Darwin, they see answers to the ultimate problem within the pages of something like the Bible or the Koran, which I guess makes Social Conservatives more like Ancient Conservatives than common or garden old fashioned conservatives or new conservatives. The USA's Republican Party is a very strange place, almost like an alien world to my way of thinking.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Nesting

Some of us are perhaps a little preoccupied with birds. It's their ever present nature perhaps, they're all over the place, but more likely it's their ability to fly. If birds skittered through grass, climbed trees, leapt from branch to branch, and didn't chatter quite so much it would be a whole different and very much more nerve-racking story which might require something like walking around with a hockey stick all day.

Either way, the Thrashers have young and so do the Bluebirds. There was a Mister Field Sparrow giving me the evil eye near the Asparagus this morning a sure sign a Field Sparrow pair is again eyeing a secret nest territory somewhere in the Vegetable Garden, which is always so very awkward for a gardener, so difficult to pretend not to notice. But one day Birds might achieve the distinction of being able to nest in the air, a sort of floating nest that hides in clouds and you'd need a telescope to spot one. Sadly I'll not be here to see that kind of peace and quiet.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tanager

The boy Summer Tanager, an un-structured bee eating bird, far too obsessed with looking glamorous despite his insecurities and perfecting the incessant quality of his call, will probably be spending his summer closer to the domicile than is healthy for those of us who live in the domicile.

He's an early morning, midday through late evening bird. He likes hot weather, he likes cool weather, and he'll probably be here until September. The secret is to try not to listen to his call, otherwise it gets into a person's head where it begins to decimate all other thought processes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Uncle Cat

The girl Cat is either two years old or four to nine months old. Her more useful role will be to discourage Rabbit, Brown Thrashers, Chipmunk, Vole and other small rodents. Currently she's not particularly fierce, she's strong hearted, good character, she's quite adorable in soft paws kind of way and her experience of the outdoors is probably zero. Which means it'll be my role to become an Uncle Cat and train her up in the useful arts.

Uncle Cats are supposed to bring in little tit-bits from the outdoors so that younger more innocent cats can learn. And when I say tit-bits I mean something like a slightly wounded Field Mouse, which I deposit near my Niece Cat so that she might spend happy hours chasing it around the domicile, listening to it squeak and theoretically the experience will give her taste for a freshly killed meat product that has fur and bones. Yes indeed, it sounds like a rural nightmare, but that's just the way things are.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tree Swallow and Bluebird

There's no doubt our Tree Swallows are oblivious to the Primary Election that'll occur today in the North Eastern Regions of the USA, somewhere called the State of New York. I say this because Tree Swallows are far more interested in getting the whole business of choosing a nesting site, egg laying, feeding young, persuading young to fly and getting it all over and done with as quickly as possible so they can do what they do best which is fly, show off and make the rest of us feel totally inadequate and incredibly dull. Tree Swallows are essentially more like noisy motorcycle gangs hogging the gas pumps than studious librarians. Bluebirds on the other hand are by nature political creatures who are fond of the game of chess, they like their peace and quiet, they have strong opinions and when the Tree Swallows arrive there's a whole thing in the Bluebird community which from bitter experience of watching them feed their young I have learned to call "Bluebird Disdain."

If you're a Bluebird the arrival of something like a posse of Tree Swallows does cause the raised eyebrow, and much worse for Bluebirds, they share similar nesting sites with Tree Swallows. True, Bluebirds are a little more particular in just about everything, but the ubiquitous Bluebird nesting box does tempt a Tree Swallow. They just have to take turns to look inside it, often followed by a discussion. And here, the political genius of Bluebirds comes into play. When they're up against Sparrow or Starling a Bluebird can become like Attila the Hun and it's the sack of Rome kind of behavior but when they're up against a Tree Swallow, there's no question of a battle royal from the Bluebird in defense of a nest site, they'll just sit there on the fence, a hunch to their shoulders, an intensity of expression with just the occasional wing flip that definitely contains threatening language of the North Korean quality. Call me sensitive but it creeps me out, drives me off my own back porch and I'm delighted to report it does the same kind of thing to Tree Swallows.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Dangerous Blue

The sky is a dangerous blue, humidity with an easterly wind is low, Maple whirligigs are flying, a Merlin hiding in the Cedar, a Green Stinkbug sighting and without really wanting to, your gardener watered his Potatoes. It's all very suspicious out there, as though Summer is leading the charge before Spring is done, a recipe for disaster, there'll be eighties and nineties in the Fahrenheit range before we know it, and the ground bone dry by June.

Might well be it's an attitude problem, but I see absolutely no joy in these past couple of days of a weather pattern that many might describe as blissful. It's true, my own slope in the wider tapestry is dour, it contains a grimness, but give me three days of gentle rain and I'd a happy Bunting. Mind you it's a fish pool of Butterfly at the blooms of Autumn Olives, an invasive plant I'm told, the Kingbirds haven't arrived yet, nor have the Yellow Chat, I wonder if they know something

Friday, April 15, 2016

Sparrow

White Throated Sparrow in good form, his song is sometimes called "Oh Sweet Canada," it can briefly stop the heart of a listener, and it's a long, long way from the Barred Owl's sinister "Who Cooks For You." The Barred Owl however is not a bud eater, he's more of a Bunny Rabbit and Vole bird, which is useful, but in the spring the White Throated Sparrow thoroughly enjoys a juicy bud which can be tiresome for a gardener until he sings to love and all is forgiven.

One of the problems for White Throated Sparrow is the lack of seed in the late winter on into early summer. He'll have a go at insects, he'll spend many hours rustling in last years leaves looking for little beetles, maybe a small spider or a gnat, nothing too aggressive looking or big eyed. Have to think that after a while he gets the taste for insect, goes crazy, becomes adventurous, decides to have a go at something like a Moth. It's not a pretty sight, or elegant, or in any way graceful.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hardening Off

Gentle Seedlings from the shelter of window ledges are into the full sun today. A tense time, it's called "hardening off" in some quarters, and it's a well known fact that during "hardening off" seedlings have to be looked at and encouraged every five minutes otherwise they succumb to the pox of "nobody loves me."

They have a sort of littleness to them, it's their tenderness, their feet are delicate and their leaves are winsome, a boy choir all dressed up in their granny lace and white socks. Have to think Tomato and things like the Peppers are trebles, the Eggplant, the Basil are Alto. Yes indeed, on a day like today a gardener does feel a little possessed by the perversion of sending children to war.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Saint Barbara's Summit

It's the niddle-naddles that are missing. If you take a piece of ground upon which people have lived for a while the amount of stuff boggles the mind. From the electric lines and fence lines through street signs, then across the road to a stray plastic Thank You bag blown by the wind. There are timetables, lights, television aerials, cemeteries, churches, libraries and bars if you're lucky.

In Saint Barbara one temptation is to do away with what's loosely referred to as Progress, go back in time to Ox and Donkey and maybe even the Dinosaur, which isn't easy to do anywhere near a railway line or a Yellow Roof Motor Lodge. It's a dilemma and after much consideration and some debate the architect has suggested a Gallows be erected on Saint Barbara's Summit. The Three Crosses, it'll be called.

Lilac Bloom and Lucifer

Lilac are beginning to bloom. The older theory is that when Lilac Bloom, the local community of Hoppy Bug emerge from their winter quarters, they say hello to each other, have a stiff drink and proceed to hunt around for things to molest, like Eggplant and Potato. So best to wait until Lilac have finished blooming before even mentioning the words Eggplant or Potato.

It's wonderful how the mind can take hold of an idea, consider it a revelation, then cling to it as though it were a life raft on the sea of discordance, rather than something that makes no sense whatsoever. Newer theories include the idea that Hoppy Bug are the Creeping Grass of the Insect World, they are both distantly related to the Fallen Angel Lucifer and the bloom of Lilac is the bloom of Lilac.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Usage

There's a thing about words, briefly summarized by the expression "Correct Usage."

The stranger thing about words is the joy some take from pointing out "Incorrect Usage."

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hostas

Maybe it's the memory, not long enough rather than missing, but yesterday's feel-like conditions contained four season. There was thunder, a brief outbreak of warm sun, rain, hail, snow showers followed by rain with sleet and all of it accompanied by outbreaks of gusty winds that contained that quality of howling which traditionally discourages the soul of a rugged outdoors person, he becomes sloth-like and creeping. Then around five o'clock this morning it froze.

The better prepared had a theory in place for the possibility of this predicted Freeze. A general rule with wind is that just after sun set, there's a lull to its passions, it becomes wise, it calms, says its prayers perhaps, and that's the time to take full advantage, rush into the outdoors, play merrily in the failing light with things like tarpaulins, old pillow cases, row cloth, novel curse words and weights. It's an excellent theory, subject occasionally to dramatic and extraordinary exceptions. Either way pretty sure the Hosta survived the night.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Peaceable Kingdom

Blue Grey Gnatcatcher and Paired Dove figure large in the immediate vicinity of the Domicile. The Gnatcatcher was about his or her business, presumably looking for Gnats amongst the fruitless blooms of the ornamental Cherry, and once Dove have paired there's a week or so of truly erratic behavior from them, they'll do anything for attention.

It's almost as though the Dove bond requires them to share moments of intense reverie, they enter a dream state, together they reach deep into their imagination, let loose the nodes of bliss, ride the wave of their own perfection then suddenly wake up to the follies of existence. The Back Porch was their chapel this morning and in the distance a Woodpecker was beating the drum to the call of Turkey. It was pretty, if you like that kind of thing.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ions

Negative Ions in the air are supposed to be good for a person's mood, they increase the flow of oxygen to the brain which tickles the happy places. Some winds produce negative ions and so does a shower head, a finding I find very difficult to believe.

Positive Ions in the air are not so good for a person's mood. Computers produce positive ions which certainly explains the vitriol in social media, and I'm pretty damned certain that Spring Frosts and visits to town produce positive ions.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Election 2016

In the US Primary Elections what we've got is basically four candidates for the Office of President. Two are hoping to lead the Republican Party, two are hoping to lead the Democratic Party, and I'm quite sure that like most people who enter politics all four are just a little bit nuts. Oddly the Democratic Party has it's origins in the Democratic-Republican Party which was Thomas Jefferson's brain child. Jefferson was a Founding Father, no girls involved, he was the Second Us Vice President and to give you an idea of him in his long political career he was a US representative in Paris during the Storming of the Bastille, he was a slave owner from Virginia and in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote "All men are created equal."

The Republican Party, The Party of Lincoln, was founded primarily by Northerners, pissed off members of the Democratic-Republican Party, Whig type business liberals, anti-slavery activists and what were called Free-Soilers who in many ways as I understand it, where kind of Dignity of Labor people rather than great admirers of Capital. Free Soilers reckoned slavery was inefficient and therefore wrong. Free Soilers had much to do with the post civil war Homestead Act, which was designed to grant land to people at little or no cost and so long as they hadn't taken up arms against the US Government, anyone was eligible including women, black people and immigrants. Never really accepted the US Exceptionalism argument, but I do know what a Carousel is.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tarmac Road


 OK Guys! When you think about it there's something really very peculiar about those hundreds of thousands, perhaps even tens of millions, who spend at least an hour a day discussing the this and that with a technical device. In the end it's kind of like the question "Why climb Mount Everest?"  Hillary's reply, "Because it's there!" A simple, straight forward answer which at the same time is completely unsatisfactory and in many ways very irritating but understandable from a stoic New Zealander who probably never discussed anything with a technical device, he had a compass, a magnetic north and Sherpa Tensing.

Residents of Saint Barbara have the same set of anxieties. In their dimension they exist at the whim of a creator, they are a product of "Creative Is" and when the lights go out they stare at the darkness, and if you're still at heart you can hear the grumble "Why climb Mount Everest?" Can't really tell them "Because it's there!" Such an offering from me would surely bring out the militia, dread to think what the reaction would be  in the Odd fellow Lodge and a good chance the Yellow Roof Motel would be vandalized by unemployed youth who haven't seen a tiny train for what feels like months. So Peace Out, everybody calm down and let's call it a tarmac road.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Non-List Writers Unite

The Brown Thrashers have really settled in around here. The Girl Thrasher is almost impossible to tell apart from the Boy Thrasher and when it comes to the quarrel they have with their cousins the Mockingbird, Thrasher's gang up, and there it is the classic behavior of a list writing bird, she is egging the male of her pair into greater and greater feats of aggression against my comrade.

It's all jolly unfair and sometimes a person does find himself becoming involved. It doesn't get me anywhere of course but I like to think that a well placed oath and some yelling on my part will be received as a principled statement by Mockingbirds everywhere. We non-list writers must stick together even if it does mean endless trips to town and utter confusion in the Vegetable Garden around what seed went where.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Our Hero, Barbarians, Steam Trains, Motor Lodges and Frost

There's far too much happening! Our hero is a prisoner of his own uncertainties, he's in an office on the second floor of Glavni Kolodvar, which is basically Croatian for Central Railway Station. The thing about the office, its walls are plastered with mug shots that go back through time to the dawn of photography. Bandits, bank robbers, purse snatchers and political activists. A very sobering experience for a young hero who's uncertain of his own legal status in the Socialist Republic, nor is his grandfather being a great deal of help.

There's a huge debate in Saint Barbara around a Hostelry, which looks very much like a Motor Lodge or Motel. The more wiseacre Barbarians have not only declared it an eyesore they're wondering where the big road is. Their argument does make sense, no one travels by Steam Train to spend a night in something that looks like a  Motel. The Architect's wheedling on about tourism, the need to keep an open mind, plurality of interests, the difficulty of making roads that look like roads and the possibility of some kind of road in the future falls on deaf ears. So you can imagine last night's frost was pretty much the last straw.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Frosts and Freezes

Yes indeed but perhaps more interesting is the year 1961 which apparently saw a frost in these parts on the morning of May 27th.  It's the case that frost can happen when a thermometer reads 36 degrees Fahrenheit. That's your Patchy Frosts, and at around 33 degrees you can get the Harder Frosts that settle and pinch, but tomorrow morning's predicted temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit and that kind of horrible news means frost is called A Freeze.

At 30 degrees the Potato Sprouts will blacken, and the suspicion is that things like Peach blossom might struggle, Strawberry with tender growth won't be happy and the list is a little long. In short a Sturdy Yeoman would do well to put away his higher hopes go into the late Saturday evening to cuddle and swaddle his gentler charges. Might not be that easy to do with a forecast for gusty winds long into the darkness.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Dove

Dove, despite their reputation for being pure in spirit, mournful singers, seed eating and usually fearless around the saintly have been known to raid a person's vegetable garden. It's the sprout of Peas and Beans that either fill their souls with an unnatural hatred or like ice cream contain essential trace elements for well being, health and fruitfulness.

The other thing about Dove is the nature of their panic moment. They can make a noise with their wings that can jangle nerves, and in my view they can make this noise deliberately, it doesn't happen unless they choose for it to happen, and more often than not the object of their panic moment is made to feel incredibly guilty. Nor are Dove the best Symbol of Peace in my opinion, a Hippo would make more sense.