Tuesday, October 31, 2017


"Beloved," Saeed was able to read before his eyes began to glaze over. Fortunately his religious advisor understood legalese and after carefully reading the letter from Oman all the way through to the Defender of the Faith, Hammer of Elphinstone, the advisor looked up at his prince and announced, "Thou hast royal permission to offer the infidel resources sufficient for tunneling not to exceed a distance of one hundred haths." Saeed was thrilled and over breakfast he asked the Dutchman to translate the good news to the Industrial Magnet representatives, who having expressed their delight admitted they were unfamiliar with the "hath" as a unit of measurement. The Dutchman who was extraordinarily wise in these matters chose not to enlighten the Industrial Magnet representatives on the nature of a hath. Nor was the hath a particularly generous unit of measurement, when compared to the kind of magnificent tunnel building Saeed in his hunt for dinosaur fossils had hoped to contribute to the railway line. Which meant there followed something of a heart to heart between Saeed and his religious advisor on the extent to which Allah frowned upon out right lying to the infidel.

 Saeed, who had pretended not to notice that Alejandra Pachis had invited herself to the royal breakfast and was consuming vast numbers of poached eggs and breakfast buns, chatting with the seamstresses about the engrossing characteristics of the Pachis embroidery stitch which indeed may have found its way from the Indian Subcontinent to the Greek Islands from which her own name had its origins, now saw his chance to push the limits of his relationship with his god. "A hath," the  Dutchman translated, "Is the distance between the end of a person's little finger to their elbow, and that includes girls."  Industrial Magnet representatives were naturally disappointed, they'd been hoping that a hath was a mile or maybe something like kilometer, but in their world one thing could always lead to another, and almost in unison they pointed to the Devotee of Diana and said "How about her hath?"  Saeed, who could be a tricky customer when he chose to be, pursed a lip, became briefly uncertain around the fate of his immortal soul and then he said "Why not." And while Alejandra became the second Barbarian ever to turn an hourly wage, the Pachis Hath as a unit of measurement is to this day considered standard practice amongst Saint Barbara's more traditional carpenters, it's kind of like a baker's dozen only instead of a half baked thirteen, it's more like an exuberant Baker's seventeen, almost thirty thumb widths if you're using the Celtic System.

Monday, October 30, 2017

How Tunnel Funds Arrived

For those who may be curious, and tempting though it might be, there is no suggestion of collusion drawn by your N scale enthusiast between the pure hearted Devotee of Diana, Alejandra Pachis and the young political weasel, or foreign policy advisor, Georges Papadopoulos. The Greek names are purely coincidental, a happy accident if you prefer. The whole point about N scale is to get as far away from the impasse between reason and passion as possible and dwell mightily upon simpler things. The answer to the question why? It's a fairly straight forward attempt to avoid becoming one of those who convert a chlorotic condition of old age into something other than pointlessly shouting at the frosts of change over which he has no control. Call it constructive fantasy or dementia, I don't care which. Sadly the world beyond has a habit of framing the details of the present and who knows why the beautifully named Georges Papadopoulos was riding the Pony Express with a letter from Oman for the young prince Saeed bin Saeed.

The horseman had taken the shortcut, an old rarely used ox drawn wagon route through the wilderness. Convinced he was lost to the world and would soon be set upon by fierce beasts, he pressed his unfortunate horse onward, both of them desperate to find signs of human habitat. It was a great relief to see Saeed's tents in the distance, a rising sun sparkling on the pennants of Muscat and Oman. He galloped through the valley, up the hill and in true Pony Express fashion he leapt from his moving horse and came skidding to a dusty halt inches from Alejandra and Saeed, who appeared to be engaged in some sort of pioneer head patting and silk pajama coming of age ceremony. Georges however was a busy man, and without messing about with anything like niceties he lifted a letter from his pouch, read the label and he announced "Anyone know where Mr. Said bin Said might be?" The youngest son of the Sultan of Oman had no great interest in learning the English language, and Alejandra had never heard of anyone called Said. Indeed this critical letter may well have gone astray had it not been for one of Saeed's seamstresses who boldly emerged from the seamstresses tent, and pointing at her prince in an accent that contained a hint of Wales she said "That's him. That's your man. He's right there. The rotter!"

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Alejandra Pachis

The first Barbarian to actually see a locomotive was a devotee of Diana who went by the name Alejandra Pachis.  Who when returning from a ten week communion with the beasts of the forest and elves of the woodlands had observed the railhead from a safe distance, heard a great iron creature hissing at work crews, a clattering and a banging, all of which to Alejandra was an absurd vision of sweat and tears that had no apparent reason and briefly she'd wondered whether she'd eaten something that had disagreed with her capacity to comprehend. Her mood again soured when she got home to discover a bunch of tent dwellers on what she reckoned was her own bit of Eden. And it's also the case that there are many often suspicious and obviously self serving accounts of Alejandra's first meeting with Saeed bin Saeed, but the story your N scale enthusiast prefers, suggests that Alejandra's return coincided with sunrise, and having relieved her mule of its burden of bear and assorted musk rat pelts, proceeded to loosen the guide ropes of the nearest tent.

As it happened the tent was occupied by Saeed bin Saeed. Saeed's practice when in fear for his own safety was to give others in his entourage an opportunity to demonstrate their devotion to his being. But after nearly four days of enduring exhaustingly primitive conditions, many in Saeed's entourage found themselves reluctant to leap to the defense of their prince, and when Alejandra began to pull the canvass from the tent poles, fold it neatly, save it for later use, she discovered Saeed alone in a comfortable cot, dressed in his nighttime silks. Alejandra said "come here pumpkin," she picked Saeed up, slung him across her shoulder and such was her mood she had every intention of throwing him into a watery ditch which one day would become her duck pond. However, Alejandra Pachis wasn't made entirely of steel, when Saeed begin to whimper in a plaintive, pathetic way her heart turned maternal and she gently lowered the youngest son of the Sultan of Oman to the ground, she stood him up, gave him a shake and patted him on the head. While the males in Saeed's entourage had pretended to be fast asleep, Saeed's seamstresses through the peep holes in their tent, had witnessed the entire episode. And here, worth noting one of the less doting definitions of epiphany, "a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Rumblings of Discontent.

As a general rule a royal personage comes in two basic categories. The one variety knows everything there is to be known and there's nothing anyone can do about it. The other variety is vaguely aware that knowledge, like a picnic lunch, is something of a moving feast. Saeed bin Saeed, being a fossil hunter of high repute, fell into the latter category. And when the Industrial Magnet's representative advised him that the railway line through Saint Barbara would require several tunnels Saeed perked up a little bit, he finished his hard boiled egg, dabbed his mouth with his napkin and he casually asked the Industrial Magnet's representative whether the railway company planned to dig a tunnel anywhere near the cave in which a young Barbarian claimed he'd seen fossilized dinosaur bones. The Industrial Magnet's representative went on a bit about tunnels being expensive and how railway line builders didn't just go around putting tunnels in willy-nilly, but being a man of influence and given a little encouragement he himself could look into the possibilities and come up with a solution to the problem of a prince's desire to personally discover fossilized dinosaur bones without entering a foul smelling, bat infested cave and without too much assistance from his entourage and no credit at all being given to some little foreign boy. Saeed nodded wisely, and he offered the Industrial Magnet's representative the last chocolate and date macaroon from the tray of desserts.

Saeed's seamstresses had never really felt that carting picnic lunch hampers around in the heat of the day was a part of their job description. They'd had to put up with it because apparently it was a traditional seamstress roll to traipse around carrying cutlery, china plates, napkins and foodstuffs through incredibly inclement conditions. It wasn't so bad back home, which was mostly sand, the odd palm tree, seaside and cool ocean breezes, but Saint Barbara was a whole new set of environmental fish, not to mention the blood sucking insects, creatures that slithered and vast numbers of bats issuing from the mouths of caves. Nor had it escaped their attention that the local female Barbarians never had to do things like carrying heavily laden picnic hampers around for male Barbarians. Indeed male Barbarians when they left their rude dwellings to go off and do boy stuff like fishing or weeding their vegetable gardens had to damn well go home if they wanted to eat anything. Saeed's cook and his oaf were increasingly aware of this rumbling amongst the seamstresses, and it just seemed to both of them that the sooner this whole overseas travel thing came to end and everyone went home to the civilization of Oman the better for everyone. Saeed's oaf, who traditionally got the last chocolate and date macaroon, agreed that in the interest of common sense and reason something dramatic had to be done. And for anyone who might still be concentrating, please note the correct spelling of desserts.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Said's Error

George Pudesduckle wasn't by nature a dishonest or deceitful person, he wouldn't have known what a fossilized dinosaur bone looked like if it jumped out from behind a bush and said hello, so you can imagine his concerns as he led Saeed and his entourage along with a couple of the more agile Industrial Magnet representatives through hot, tic infested undergrowth toward the entrance of the cave in which he'd claimed to have seen dinosaur bones. The cave was foul smelling and impressive, it reached into a dripping darkness, none of it remotely inviting and at the cave entrance there was much trepidation from Saeed's seamstresses. The other thing to recall is that back then it was tallow or whale oil that granted light to darkness, the flashlight had yet to be invented, and in all of Saint Barbara there was neither tallow or whale oil to be had, which meant that navigating darkness had it's problems. George  Pudesduckle, who was probably about ten years old, realized that some kind of a heavenly hand must have reached down to release him from the stress of having told lies. He marched confidently into the dark cave and when he was completely out of sight he clapped his hands.

 There has been debate around which species of bat emerged from the cave's entrance, whether it was the Great Northern Bat or the Eastern Small footed Myotis remains a mystery, but whatever these bats were called a considerable number of them poured through the mouth of the cave, they looked very bad tempered and basically the sight of them put the fear of god into Saeed and his entourage. And there must have been something about one of the Industrial Magnet representatives because the bats seemed to blame him for the disturbance to their sleepy time, they attacked his top hat and chased him until he fainted from exhaustion, heat and primitive conditions none of which he was in any one accustomed to. Saeed with all the aplomb of royal birth made an appraisal of the circumstance and he directed his hostler to locate an alternative site for the picnic lunch. During lunch, the remaining Industrial Magnet representative was able to persuade Saeed that according to one of his uncles who was a keen fossil hunter, bats in caves were a sure sign of dinosaur fossils, and he'd gone further. With a bit of wink he'd advised Saeed that the railway line through Saint Barbara would require several tunnels. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Saint Barbara's Dinosaur

There are very few accurate records of those early days in Saint Barbara, they weren't that big on taking notes or keeping diaries, so while this time two years ago Saeed bin Saeed's entourage might well have numbered ten or twenty loyal followers, and again this time last year both that number and his name might have changed, the general opinion in the waning days 2017 is that Saeed had an entourage of eighteen. He had a cook, a food taster, a wardrobe master, half a dozen seamstresses, an hostler, a religious advisor, an oaf, a falconer and a group of fellow fossil hunting enthusiasts one of whom happened to be a Dutchman who apparently spoke English. After a long, very difficult journey Saeed, his entourage and whole gang of well dressed non-tee-shirt wearing Industrial Magnet representatives arrived in Saint Barbara. For the local Barbarians this influx of outsiders was exciting for a couple of hours but their constant questions and criticisms quickly became exhausting. The better centered Barbarians decided that rather than make fuss, the best thing to do was to take no notice, let the outsiders get on with whatever it was they had to do and soon enough they'd go away. The less peaceful Barbarians chose to put a sneer on the outsiders and would say things like "Do make an effort to clearly annunciate," which in those days was the rude way of answering a stupid question.

Travel had broadened Saeed's mind. He'd seen steam trains, he'd sat in the window seat of a moving railway carriage, and with the consent of Industrial Magnet representatives he'd ignored the advice of his religious advisor and his oaf, and he'd dressed up as locomotive engineer so that he could pull the cord that sounded a steam engine whistle. By the time Saeed had reached Saint Barbara he was full blown on the idea of steam trains and he was ready to start the difficult process of writing letters to his father imploring him to take the family money out of slave trading and put it directly into railway lines. Sadly his oaf and his religious advisor hadn't taken to the steam train, they thought it a general all round disruption, they thought it dirty, loud, a menace to the order of things, and along with the hostler they started tut-tutting which in the end is the only way to effect the psyche of a royal personage. Naturally there's dispute about who in Saeed's entourage fermented the rumor, but I am of the opinion that it was the Dutchman who in due course would settle down with a local Barbarian maid, and who as the first station master of Saint Barbara's Halt would become a pillar of Saint Barbara society. Either way, the first wage ever paid to anyone in Saint Barbara was to George Pudesduckle, nor was it a real honest wage. His job was to claim that he'd seen what looked like large fossilized dinosaur bones in a cave

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Said's Tunnel

OK chaps, Saint Barbara! What is it, where is it, why is it? All very good questions, some answers to which will of course be lost to time and a degenerating memory. Other answers will be far too crack-pot to even begin to take seriously. So, while there is a possibility that in due course your N scale enthusiast might remember where the name Saint Barbara came from, probably better to try to recall why on earth the County has a very, very difficult to clean and incredible awkward railway cutting called, The Said Tunnel. Years and years ago, when things like carbon emissions, belching chimneys and unnecessarily loud noises were given the title progress the youngest son of a Sultan of Oman chose to forsake his duties as royal thorn in the underbelly of Expanding Foreign Empires so that he and his entourage could engage in very important things like eating different kinds of picnic lunches and collecting fossils. He'd heard through the fossil collecting grapevine, that one of the hallmarks of progress was earth moving, reshaping the land and whole bunch of activities that often dragged extraordinarily rare fossils out of the earth. Nor was the Sultan, his father, that interested in doing anything as radical as sending teams of laborers into Omani territories to do anything that even sounded like progress. And it's also the case that just like today, the world back then was full of shady characters many of whom had a strong understanding of how profit and political advantage could be had from the more gullible by setting grapevines on fire with innuendo and down right lies.

Meanwhile, a small, less hardy group of pioneering types had lost their enthusiasm for this whole bossy-boots and cowboy hat  organized effort of "go west young man" and they'd settled for life in a pretty if somewhat rocky, middle of nowhere, isolated, part of the Eastern Appalachians where they fully intended to do all kinds of stuff without being bogged down by rules, regulations and peer pressure. It was like Eden in those early days, everyone was happy, there was good fishing, a couple of cows, barn dances in the evenings, poetry readings, all kinds of beverages, pot-luck lunches, hand crafts, it was the whole heaven on earth thing. And then on a brisk winter morning, as if out of nowhere, a man with a briefcase and technical looking devices appeared and he started taking notes. Turned out he'd been sent by what in the old days was given the title Industrial Magnet, none of this insipid modern day spotty faced, tee-shirt wearing through geriatric billionaire nonsense, who wanted to build a railway line. One of the potential major investors in the railway line project was the Sultan of Oman who was looking to move his dwindling wealth out of slave trading and into something more progress related. The Sultan really had far too many enemies to leave his gated community, so in order to get a reliable sense of what a railway line was, what it did, how it might behave, he directed his youngest and least important son to "Go seartheth thou the railway in Eastern Appalachia, and reporteth back." Or words to that effect. It took a while for young Saeed bin Saeed, who was quite used to being cursed out by his father, to realize that Eastern Appalachia, however dreadful it sounded, was actual a place that engaged in progress, and the old man was serious.

Monday, October 23, 2017

N scale

For a creature unblessed by a capacity to enter a state of suspended animation through the darker months, successful survival strategies in the pursuit of balance include avoiding any kind of contact with what's loosely referred to as News until sometime in March. The question, is not so much whether this is responsible behavior or makes civic sense, rather the question is when does a person enter this condition of news-less-ness? For some this might be a difficult question to answer, it touches upon commitment to the fate of our world, but for those of us who have failed to comprehend how to change the time on our digital alarm clock, the answer is what they call a no-brainer.

The entryway to the Grocery and Hardware Store are now cluttered by devil worship and are totally unwelcoming, keen Sabean instincts can sense the allergens of brown sugar and cinnamon, which suggests sometime very soon harmony will return, the stars will align and my 7 O'clockish in the morning will be the same as everyone else in the county's 7 a.m. and we all know what that means. There'll be no more absurd Bannon-esque references to the ancient Poets, Historians or Philosophers in an attempt to secure veritas and I will become one with little electric trains and the Medieval Saints. Saint Teresa will have her Convent, Saint Barbara will have her Windowless Tower, Glavni Kolodvar will make it's Station Master proud, and the County Militia might even get their Unterseeboot, which would certainly shut them up for a bit.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dour is The Garden

Long before the current iteration of lunacy I took an interest in Jainism. Some might think this odd from a person who can readily produce an uncharitable sneer whenever the "I" part of being is referred to as a soul that belongs to eternity. It was the renunciation part, the surrender part, of the Jainist that appealed to me, rather than anything that might liberate "soul" from the chains of being in the world by promising somewhere else, more perfect and nowhere near here. Nor was it my opinion that renouncing had an association with what the wack-a-doodles have over the years framed and then piously dismissed as "earthly pleasures." I saw this as yet one more tired attempt to define earth as an acceptance of misery and hardship, and as a creature of my time I chose instead to categorize "earthly pleasures" under a series of derogatory general titles that ranged from "Cancun" through "dish washing machines," "Pindar and the Olympiads" and all the way into the dystopian fever swamps of "Madison Avenue."

Astonishingly there are bits of me that are still sufficiently present in the world to grasp that sometime, the end of February, maybe into late March of next year, I will yet again take a venerable shovel to the vegetable beds and after a silent contemplation of the extent of the daunting task, I will hopefully find the will to proceed to work that I'll describe without humility as up there with Hercules. If and when that task is accomplished, I will experience an "earthly pleasure" that falls into a category I would have to find a name for that has nothing to do with simple or homeward wending a weary way. Currently my suspicion is that this name will have more to do with a sense of belonging than the "earthly pleasures" Pindar or Madison Avenue or Cancun or dishwashing machines have been able to illicit from my own understanding of existence. So yes indeed, I plan by the early April frosts of next year to have endured misery and hardship, aching bones, the hell of wing, elegant wrist and aging back in order to lay claim on an "earthly pleasure" before dourly distributing barrow loads of compost. Mind you, the ordeal of yet another Festive Season could well be the end of me, which would certainly be an eternal solution.

Saturday, October 21, 2017


Rather than mentioning the fierce academic online debate your correspondent is having with unnervingly sympathetic Soviet Bots about whether we'd be better off with a Chimpanzee or a Gerbil as out next president here in the USA, I'm going to brag a little about a huge personal victory, and here we're not talking one of these A for effort victories but a genuine leather handbag victory.

A diligent reader might know there are three chairs in the room where I sleep. They might also know there has been a recent dialogue between your correspondent and two domestic pets about who has title to the most comfortable of these three chairs. Well, there's been some foot stamping, loud words, a few unnecessary references to the afterlife, and some order has been returned to my universe. Either way I support the Gerbil theory for 2020.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Hearts and Minds

Hearts and minds are part of winning. You can't turn up with a bandoleer and a couple of anti tank missiles, that sort of neo-liberal behavior makes you look both scary and scared.

The other thing about hearts and minds is that both the mind and the heart occupy different places. The mind might be persuaded to agree but what if the heart doesn't want to.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Oats and Wheat

I've been informed that the difference between Winter Oats and Winter Wheat as a winter ground cover which one dry spring day might be turned into green manure, is this. Winter Oats are less cold tolerant than Winter Wheat.

In the grand scheme this small snippet of information is probably meaningless, unimportant, a long way from earth shattering, totally devoid of 'stun' factor but is a big relief for your often delusional gardener.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


In the search for good news, a positive attitude and a sense of confidence in the future for those who may have the misfortune to have to endure it, passive solar is the secret for us attic dwellers endeavoring to get some sort of assistance from our fingers when temperatures sink into the unbearable levels. It's a sheet of Luan, a quarter inch plywood culled from  remaining stands of tropical hardwoods and sold in hardware stores, which the attic dweller then paints a matt black and hangs in his sun facing window.

The painted finish absorbs sunrays, converts them to heat that rises and as it rises pulls in colder air from the floor. The cycle becomes increasingly enthusiastic and by about noon, non-daylight saving time, the fingers begin to suspect that something is being done to improve their life experience and they cautiously respond. The alternative to this sort of Happy Harry search for finger functionality, is to open the box of winter clothes, pull out core warming vests, heavy shirts and jumpers. And in due course I might well recall where I stowed that box, but I'm just not prepared to hunt it down at the moment.

Monday, October 16, 2017


Fall-bed-preparation-wise your gardener is hitting a bit of snag. Nor is this snag in anyway unique or unusual, indeed an objective observer on Mars would have seen it coming months ago. In the end it's a character flaw, a weakness, a lily-livered frailty of mind, a peculiar blob-like quality exemplified by a single celled sea dwelling organism.

On the bright side, in this particular part of the world, by this time next week temperatures could be well up there in the high 70's low 80's Fahrenheit with tornado and straight line winds with rain in the forecast. Which would mean plenty of opportunity for ground cover seed to germinate. But that's really and truly beside the point, absolutely frigidly woolly hat and socks fresh in the outdoors this morning.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Caesar et al

Can't help but suspect that both Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco would have very sensibly issued an arrest warrant for anyone who cheated at golf. The other area of deep concern for those of us who are still attempting to grasp current events is this whole Steve Bannon, Caesar, Brutus, Cassius analogy type thing. Caesar was murdered because he'd lost patience with the complexities of "advise and consent" and had decided he wanted to be a 'dictator for life,' the one and only Top Cat, the holder of the big feather.

The heroes of the play were Brutus and Cassius. Not Caesar. Dante was, and Bannon still is, quite wrong in their view of Caesar as central to anything remotely resembling civilization. It wasn't the Roman Republic that forced Latin upon us, it was the bloody Roman Emperors. And by the way, in the historical account there were two people with the name Brutus engaged in the back stabbing. So "Et Tu Brute" sounds grammatically incorrect which suggests Caesar might not have have spent enough time in detention, and all his books were definitely written by someone else. Nor are rights God given, unless you're a mental patient in need of an opioid. And if you want to quarrel, we'll tee off with forked sticks at dawn, my friend.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Jobbing Gardener

Probably best to think of Gardens Past, do away with the nail biting tensions of tomorrow when I'll attempt to daintily broadcast ground cover seeds ready for what could be an afternoon rain shower, possibly a thunder storm ahead of a cold front. When I think of the gardens I have worked in, they mostly belonged to three categories of property owner. You got the New Rich, the Old Rich, and the Little Old Lady. The New Rich, in my view, should never be permitted to go anywhere near a garden picture book or magazine. It's not good for them, gives them unnatural ideas, and as a gardener you'll come away deeply disappointed in any definition that gives a relationship between success and brain matter, and this is especially the case if there is a dramatic difference between the ages of the male and female sides of the pair. I remember the hours and hours and hours I spent installing a garden, only to be told by my employer that she didn't like to see earth or mulch between her plants. The idea that her plants would in due course grow together, become as one, in a glorious passion of color, shape and form failed to impress her or the Adonis with a tennis racket at her side.

The Old Rich, and by Old Rich I mean the often eccentric grandchildren of long ago titled or diligent money grubbers, they don't like to pay their bills and have what I can only think of as the Mollusk's view of our planet. I remember once digging up and transplanting English Boxwood for the younger daughter of  a somewhat tyrannical propertied gentleman who'd been on his death bed for getting on ten years. There seemed no rhyme or reason to it, and because of the age of the plants their chances of surviving the transplant were next to none. It was explained to me that once Daddy was gone and the will read, the older brother wouldn't let his younger sister have the Boxwoods. Nor did she really care if all the Boxwoods died, which they did, slowly over time. Little Old Ladies are the darlings of a gardener's world, they have less to prove I guess. They had a fondness for remembering how much they'd forgotten and often had an intimate knowledge of their garden plants which but for old age and frailty they would have attended to themselves, so woe betide a gardener with any kind of newfangled notion of how things might be done. My favorite, I remember her name, would tell me to add two hours a visit to the bill, not because I was special, but because her son actually paid the bill and he'd committed the crime of marrying an "Unsuitable Gal."

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fizzy Drinks

A little difficult to avoid a jokes about the relationship the Mango seems to have developed with Atom Bombs attached to the end of large missiles, but in the interest of mental health best to remember Pessoa who said something like, without delusions there'd never be Statesmen, the real, he suggested, can only ever be seen through the eyes of philosophers and poets. So instead of wondering exactly where he might have said something like that and exactly what he might have meant by something like it, I'm going to talk about Coca-Cola. And here,The Artist returned from a recent adventure steeped in an understanding she'd gained from creative comrades that Coca-Cola not only cleans rusty bolts it also cleans wood without hurting plants.

The thing about Coca-Cola is that I have been a big fan of the drink, but following my nut-eater awakening, which is like being born again without the alleluias or the pervading sense of everlasting smugness, I have taken on some serious views around the menace of soft drink manufacturers, all of whom I believe are evil and in league with the nut-eater's Satan. You can imagine, I hope, the internal struggle when I saw Coca-Cola on the list for my trip into town. It was one of those head down, eyebrows raised moments in the kitchen rather than nuclear exchange, and there was a little part of me that did relished the idea a porch sit at sunset with cigarettes and a warm can of Coca-Cola.  Like sweetened condensed milk, no one in their right mind drinks it cold, I recalled. I came home with a twelve pack rather than those Seagull killing plastic bottles  But one of the problems, wood cleaning with Coca-Cola does consume rather more Coca-Cola than I'd imagined.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Great sympathy for the word Chlorotic. Strictly speaking the word is used to explain the condition of plants that are struggling to find the bits and pieces they need to photosynthesize. The leaves become more yellow than green, and there's a general sense of ennui deep within the plant's being, it's kind of like a sigh of exhaustion from the effort of trying and trying again to climb an impossible hill.

Suffice to say that even though I am not a plant, my roots are more like history, experienced and read about, I can move from one place to another, I have a complexity of eating parts that include knives, forks, vitamin supplements and Grocery Stores,  yet I've often felt chlorotic. It  could well be a moment that comes to a mind when it suddenly decides to have a shower and a shave. Or when a mind decides to ruthlessly sweep a kitten off the comfortable chair. But I suspect it runs deeper.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Local Gossip

The Artist collected the Kitten from an ashen faced Veterinary Assistant. Our young four legged comrade could apparently be heard loud and clear in the Reception Area, which is that part of a veterinarian's office that's always supposed to give every appearance of a smooth oiled, well run machine, and to The Artist's question, "Is that her?" The answer I'm told was the kind of "No" one might expect from a president's press secretary. The Artist, who is keenly attuned to the Kitten's vocal range, raised an eyebrow, but she knew better than to quarrel with anyone who looks like a Head Nurse and she nodded wisely as she listened to the aftercare instructions, which included advice about recuperating creatures being Not Allowed to leap around, climb curtains or trouser legs, chase after an older cat, get wet, certainly not allowed to go outside to climb trees for at least ten days and so on.

When the Kitten finally emerged from the back rooms, she was in her cage, and it was very obvious to everyone that her mood wasn't good. I guess too that in terms of being a future patient, the quality of a veterinarian's attention are well on display to those waiting for their turn when someone else's pet emerges through the swing doors that lead to the inner workings of a small business devoted to the health and well being of domesticated creatures. The other thing about the Kitten, is that I don't believe she has any sense of humility, and she's certainly not shy of expressing her opinions in public, she'd make a wonderful Running Hyena. "He's quite wild!" the assistant suggested. "He's a she!" The Artist promptly replied. Nor was the trip home uneventful. So far, things are going quite well, no question of being able to follow the letter of the Head Nurse's detailed instructions, the best we can really hope to do is prevent the Kitten from going outside, and that's pretty much full time work for us caregivers. On the bright side the question of when to gather up the Cypress Vines that bloom happily along a fence in the vegetable garden as a late feed for the Southward bound Hummingbirds, is solved. I think it would be something the Kitten would very much like to help me with. Next week maybe.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Whichever way you look at it, the First World War was more of an accident than a well thought out plan. The Great Powers had their perennial quarrels. Territory, Empire, Trade. The business class had strong ties to a government's ability to secure raw materials, political advantage and entrepreneurial opportunities. Everyone thought their own military was the best in the world, couldn't possibly be defeated, so anything like a war would only last for a couple of months at most. One threat led to another and Bang it was kind of too late to even think about saying something like "I'm sorry I behaved like a moron, why don't we all have a cigarette break, a cup of tea and start again." Instead, four years later when stalemate was achieved at the cost of millions of lives, the Armistice pretty much set the conditions for the Second World War.

The point is, had I been alive and of age and more sociable and living in Vienna on Sunday June 28th 1914 I might well have been enjoying a glass of wine, chatting to friends when news came that an heir to the thrown of a minor royal family had been shot in some godforsaken part of the Balkans. No doubt one or other of my friends might have been able to give me some boring gossip about Archduke Ferdinand, and I might have made some incredibly witty joke about the difference between archdukes and archangels, entirely unaware that six months later I'd be up to my neck in mud somewhere in France being shot at and being expected to shoot back, or maybe I'd have been sent south to serve my country by killing off one quarter of the population of Serbia. The Third World War isn't going to be like that, there'll be no Biggles, there'll be no Bulldog Drummond, instead those of us who aren't instantaneously vaporized will have to hang around watching our hair fall out, our skin blister into suppurating sores, waiting for our body organs to fail while our leaders shout and scream at each other over the last cup cake in the fading light of their underground bunkers.

Monday, October 9, 2017


The Kitten is spending the night at the Vets. For the Girl Cat it's far too quite, she's nervous, she's tip-toeing around, there's definitely a hot brick somewhere. But where? Who knows.

The Primary Care giver is confident, she understands we're doing the right thing. In the attic, I've got my chair back, it's very wonderful but for some reason it doesn't seem right to be sitting on it.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Tests and Stuff

Very difficult to get away from the idea that our Secretary of State could be absolutely correct about our President. In psychology, the word moron, from the Greek for stupid or foolish, was first used in a 1910 system of classifying degrees of intelligence. An idiot, according to the system, had a measurable IQ of between 0 to 25, an imbecile had an IQ of between 26 to 50 and a moron had an IQ that ranges in that tricky, confusing area of between 51-70, a category that could well be further divided into general purpose morons and effing morons. The IQ test was originally a French idea devised by a man called Alfred Binet, the main purpose being not to give a population a pie chart idea of their own self importance but to try and determine a more industrial distinction between someone who should be sent directly to the rubber rooms of the tax payer's asylum without wasting anymore time, and someone who could be made to function in society given proper training, a little patience, adequate attention and resources, all of which probably required someone like a moron to be reasonably forced into spending extended periods of time in Latin Detention while someone like an idiot or an imbecile was allowed to run around in the outdoors kicking a football.

It's also the case that I have personal experience of this whole IQ test phenomenon. As a schoolboy, while others were enduring the bitter chill of a summer afternoon outdoor period in Rural East Sussex I was on many occasions dragged into the head master's study to spend time with an older woman who had the twitching eye of an Eagle and who would ask me to perform a number of tasks that involved matching patterns, fitting blocks together, telling her which way a door or a window opened, a whole bunch of things, and each time I visited her the tasks seemed to get more and more ridiculous. Nor did anyone tell me that my mental aptitude was being tested for a place in civil society, so I kind of came to the conclusion that the Eagle eyed women was one of the world's unfortunates, probably the head master's cousin who if she wasn't entertained became unruly, or outraged, and in all that bleak and bitter place the head master's study was well heated, so I did my bit for solace and solidarity. In the end, wherever the cards might fall, I do know this much, we morons should under no circumstances ever be allowed to become something like the president of a large country. The entertainment value just isn't worth it and it could well justify trust in Meade's recent predictions about Planet X or Nibiru, as it's called. And here, for the Sunday Crowd, Meade's prediction for October 15th 2017 is not about rapture, he's all about tribulation, so best to kneel for the National Anthem before Flags are flown at half mast.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


The hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico might give us rain. It'll come up through Alabama and soon enough we'll be on the West side of the storm. Warm tropical air will mingle with some kind of colder clump type thing heading our way from somewhere near Chicago which gives us a chance at three to four inches of precipitation, and possible thunder storms, over the next couple of days, and this same clump type thing will persuade the storm to take a more easterly course toward New York State. At least that's my understanding of the Local Forecast Discussion on the NOAA page. Indeed it's so much easier just to look at the pictures, or graphics as they're called, instead of spending hours trying to get a better understanding of the bold explorations of science and new ways of imagining something that's always changing, like a restless poet it's a something that never stands still.

Take for example Theta-E Advection. What does this mean? I'd hope to get a c- for effort on the test, but Theta-E is a prediction of the future temperature of air after it has been lifted from the ground toward the sky where the water vapor contained within it might have condensed, releasing heat and has fallen back toward sea level. Advection means a bit of air that's moved by wind rather than by changes in atmospheric pressure. So next time it's cool after a rain shower, if I can remember to, I will wax lyrical upon Theta-E predictions, and should there be anything like a hint of a chilly breeze after a rain shower on a distant horizon I'm going to go on a bit about Theta-E Advection. And no doubt there'll be those who raise the issue of "Telling it Like it Is" rather than this wishy-washy pompous liberal intellectual stuff.  But I won't care, I'll do my bit for Convective Inhibition, or quantifiable potential for a Thunderstorm, that always seems to define the political mood. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Outdoor Sorts and Tackle

 It was pure luck, rather than a moment of lateral thinking.  Nor was this one of those Convenience Stores where the wages of employees afford a shopper who might have been hit by a confusion the luxury of being able to run down a knowledgeable or even friendly store Associate. The guiding light in such places is more of a hunter-gatherer theory of the shopping experience. And probably just as well, it's aisles after aisle of nonsensical purchasing possibilities, anything from diapers, through kitty-litter to Frozen Pizza, interspersed with the occasional gleam of disappointment. Your gardener was almost ready to surrender to the inevitability of a planet aligned against him when he decided to take what looked like a short cut to the exit sign and found himself surrounded by large, very well fed, intense, oddly scented, manly men, none of them with shopping carts and all of them wearing magnificent boots and dressed in what could have been Militia outfits, one of whom looked very much as though he was in the process of getting married to what could have been a Kalashnikov. I was in what's loosely referred to as Outdoor Sports and Tackle.

More likely with us gardeners it's a mistrust of any kind of labor saving that makes us stubborn around mechanical devices no matter the purpose, and nothing to do with sensitiveness to what in Outdoor Sports and Tackle would have been regarded as dainty, minimalist type footwear well suited to pushing a shopping cart. Quite why the Groom chose to look at my feet instead of concentrating on his wedding vows, I don't know. Either way I had a poor reaction, no clue what gets into me, I blame the contribution of a Viking from generations ago who gave me freckles and a wholly irrational streak. "Looked all over! Can't find Oats or Legumes," I chose to answer in a manner that suggested both frustration with and disappointment in the current state of Western Civilization. But, in Outdoor Sports and Tackle, Oats, Legumes and Brassicas are common topics of conversation. Seeds of these grains and vegetables are planted in woodland glades to provide winter fodder for the Deer and the Antelope. I swaggered out of there with my shopping cart pushing a ten pound bag that had a splendid picture of a very fine creature with terrifying looking horns printed upon it, and hope to God that the Deer and the Antelope don't start leaping fences to get at the green manure for next year's vegetables.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A More Perfect Union

Sadly the indoors during the hours prior to high noon are somewhat dominated by Feline political maneuvering, so an exhausted gardener such as myself does best to bravely endure the more onerous outdoor routines in appallingly dry and phlegm driven conditions until the afternoon respite. The current quarrel between the Girl Cat, myself and the Kitten, revolves around a chair in the room where I sleep. The room is my safe place, a haven from the rattle of life, and until recently it was a sanctuary pretty much devoid of fellow beings except the wintering Ladybirds, there are those fascinating little Spiders that spin chaotic webs around which rhyme or reason cannot be found and I'm graced by a visit from an occasional hornet. And for the smart apple, it's no good closing the door to my own little piece of heaven, it just causes loud unrelenting caterwauling, which puts a whole other nuance on who might get access to the nicer part of the afterlife.

There are actually three chairs in my room. The more splendid and most comfortable, it has contemplative arms, a high head rest, the throne if you prefer, and is the subject of the current dispute. All three of us lust after it. The next chair is a little small, perfectly adequate for a boney bottom, it has a soft cushion seat and like the throne it has little wheels so you can float it across the floor without having to go to the effort of lifting it up. The third chair is one of those chairs you'd expect to find in the attic of a dead relative. It has no single redeeming feature, it's rickety, it creaks when sat upon, the wicker seat is in the process of disintegrating, it has no wheels, and yet as a result of domestic politicking it's the chair I have been reduced to sitting upon while delving into the great mysteries. And it's no wonder that in sixty odd years of declining consciousness I have yet to find anything resembling a lasting solution. But on the positive side, unlike the current Secretary of State of the USA, I'm quite unable to assign the title "Moron" to either occupant of my room's other two chairs.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Again and Again

Try as a person does to grasp the world in which he or she lives there are always layers upon layers and when the Butterfly lands upon the Lotus bloom and the Frog leaps from the pond to take a bite the rest of us do not remain unaffected.

Then when it happens to you it always comes as a bit of surprise. So if you'd rather be the Frog, your welcome, but I've always rooted for the Butterfly, as I root for the Antelope crossing Crocodile infested rivers. Call it good and evil if it cheers you up, but that would be a dumb excuse.

Monday, October 2, 2017


A good percentage of English Speakers might assume that a Bush Hog was some kind of wild and totally out of control Boar. It's the case also that the uncastrated male Guinea Pig is called a Boar, and a male Beaver is called a Boar. But the Hog part of Bush Hog is a Madison Avenue-esque description for something that gobbles stuff up in a less than polite manner. And here we're not talking the poetry and grace of the scythe, we're talking the rotating blade of a mowing machine that's powered and pulled by a noisy and foul smelling tractor across land that's doing it's very best to achieve a harmony and meaning all by itself. The result is manicured acres above which Vulture peer down from the sky smelling out the corpses of meaty morsels. At this time of year it's usually a snake of some sort, in the early year it can be nest of Turkey eggs or even a little spotted doe eyed Bambi, which does give Eden an additional nuance.

In our own pair, it's The Artist who has traditionally spent a portion of her time upon earth Bush-hogging. There's a Zen to it, I'm told. Mowed lines that snugly follow the contours, patterns gained in a slow motion, care taken to minimize messy turn arounds.  It's great fun, it's not hard and when it's all done there's a neatness, ready for the frost, the snow and the toboggan or whatever. Not really certain why, but this Autumnal Season it was my turn to Bush-Hog. I had my lesson, and what with the hi-revs, medium-revs, low-revs on the steeper inclines, and except for "brakes are adrenalin so don't go near neutral on a slope otherwise you'll end up in Central Time," most of it went completely over my head. Now I have been a here and there, done this and that, I've worked some really mind blowingly boring jobs, and I'd just like to say that Bush-Hogging is down there in the seventh circle of hell along with shelling Peas, shaving and enduring the company and opinions of Bloated Plutocrats.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Uncharacteristic Feline

The Girl Cat is an athletic Madonna, she's graceful, light on her feet, inscrutable after the manner of a Buddha who can leap, climb trees, drift through the air. She dislikes unnecessary noise and has no interest whatsoever in mechanical things. In every way she's pretty much of an Empress when put beside The Kitten.

The Kitten has all the delicacy of a Bull in something like a Wal-Mart. She's a charger, she thunders heavy footed through the domicile knocking things over, she's taken an interest in mechanical devices, has a passion for the differential gear on any and everybody's pick-up truck and while the quality of fearlessness in the Trenches of World War One might be an asset, it's very, very un-feline.