Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Crows

A member of my extensive parental side had a story about Crows. It was wartime, he'd escaped prison, he was on the run, food and shelter harder and harder to find. One isolated farmhouse became almost like a home, it was high in a valley, and as the night came he'd return from foraging for his own contribution to the warm kitchen table and he could hide in the hills look down at the farm house, check to see whether soldiers were visiting, which they'd do sometimes in their search for partisans, escapees, whatever they could find. The farmhouse had three resident Crows, but a good chance they were Ravens. The birds were fit, well feathered, agile in the sky, they were usually content and they roosted in the farm's ancient stone barn. The farmer was long gone, he'd been killed in the war, the farmer's children, both boys, had grown and were gone to know one knew where, but their elderly mother still managed the farm as she waited for her children to return, and she was pretty good at hiding food and livestock from occupation soldiers who were always hungry, well armed and entitled.

One evening, looking down at the farmhouse, there was no sign of soldiers and the coast looked clear. But the Crows were absent from their evening chatter on the barn roof. Maybe they'd had already settled in for the night. There was a chance with spring on its way they'd set their minds to wandering. Possibly they'd all fallen to a shotgun. There were easy answers. And yet, he remained where he was, cold in the chill and damp just two thousand yards from shelter. In the morning, there was glint of sun on the barn, the farmhouse kitchen door opened, cigarette butts casually tossed to see if the farmer's wife would pick them up, save them from the dew so she could smoke them in her pipe. Then a military vehicle which had been hiding inside the barn fired up it's engine. Off they went so as to be in time for breakfast at their barracks, the Crows circling and silent in the sky above them. And the thing about it was, soon after his escape he'd once been rescued from starvation by a little girl who'd given him a European Robin to eat. Shown him how to cook it, insides and all, nothing wasted. European Robin is about the size of a Sparrow.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Divide and Rule

Well, well, well, it's give him a Power Tool and Feed Him Meat Products Sunday! In the late Seventies, I guess, Warren Zevon at the end of his Album "Excitable Boy" had a song titled "Send Lawyers, Guns and Money."  If I remember the song was about an American Boy who insisted he was an innocent bystander but had got himself in trouble with a waitress, who might have been a Russian, down in Havana and had somehow ended up in Honduras, and he wanted his Dad to save him from his sorry fate. It was a song about rich innocent boys for whom the world beyond the suburbs was not a playground, unless they had lawyers, guns and money. With song writers it's difficult to know, but lawyers interpret the law, guns enforce the law, and rich Daddies can afford lawyers. Stranger still, on this day in 1885 a ship called Isere, named after a river, docked in New York. In the ship's hold was the Statue of Liberty, all 350 pieces of it packed in 214 crates, a gift of friendship from Les gens de France.

Then you got John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son." Vietnam and the draft. The story goes that President Eisenhower's grandson, David Eisenhower, received a deferment. Our song writer did not, he was off to war without knowing why and he sat on his bed and he cried out,  "It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son!"  "Some folks inherit star spangled eyes... and when you ask them 'How much should we give?' .... They only answer 'More, more, more.'" Mind you not many top of the pops songs tried to hit the big time on the subject of how many thousands and thousands, millions, of families were ripped apart by slavery. Another "Trail of Tears." Sadly, some subjects would be far too much of a downer for our delicate and "Excitable Boys." Me, I celebrated the day through intimate Interpretive Dance, my partner was a Snapping Turtle, our subject was Moral Compass, the music as I led the waltz toward the river was Waterloo by Abba. A truly bonding experience, and there could even be Snapping Turtle eggs safe in the Compost Piles.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Road for Carts

Saul of Tarsus, like Engels, was from a well heeled family of property owning business people. But unlike Engels Saul of Tarsus began his career persecuting ideas that threatened his understanding of the Old Testament. Engels for his part was also restless, he saw his world and reckoned the future could be made better. What happened to Engels is that he discovered Karl Marx. Saul of Tarsus, while on his way to Damascus had a bonk on the head and God, apparently, had a few words with him. Both Saul and Engels were bossy, both men inclined toward pragmatic editing, and to the extent that both men wanted to be shepherds rather than sheep, they might both have been little power hungry. Neither man was self centered to the point of doing something like burning down Rome to improve the view from their domicile. (If you're in doubt about Engels, he enjoyed the English version of Fox Hunting, he had the little outfits and everything.) And, both men had a powerful influence on the movements of mind which spread idea. Engels as Marx and Engels, Saul of Tarsus as Saint Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, and current rising star in the warped world of white nationalist interpretations. With us people, what we are has less to do with the real, more to do with explanations of the real. And in the long run it's a very rich, sometimes apparently deceitful and often uncomfortable, deeply depressing tapestry of possible answers.

Which is why a gardener will sometimes wonder what it might have been like to have been employed by Isaac Newton. It must have been an early bearing Apple tree something like a Beauty of Bath, because the image of Newton is of him enjoying a sit in the sunshine, he might even have been having a cup of cider and a Cucumber sandwich when he saw an Apple fall from his Apple tree. Quite clearly his first reaction was to seek an explanation from his gardener, who was probably doing a little light weeding, maybe a little trimming in an attempt to look politely engaged. His gardener would have patiently explained that unless there's something seriously wrong with them, Apples always fall from their trees and a fall can bruise an Apple which means the Apple might not keep as well, and there'd be a whole set of ideas about the best time to get the ladders out and actually pick Apples to keep them safe from harm. Then when Newton became all excited about having seen an Apple fall down to earth, instead of falling upwards or sideways, Newton's gardener who would have been dour and reserved, kept his thoughts around mental anomalies, alcoholic refreshments in the afternoon and the devil to himself. It was a good job he had in the garden, few prospects but it was regular pay so why risk bruising his employer by pointing out the blatantly obvious. Yes indeed, to make sense of it all, worth remembering the word Career comes to us from the Latin, "a road for carts."

Friday, June 15, 2018

Utter Cads and Liars.

The Ghost in the Machine, or Duality, as those who explore existence often put it. Are we one thing or are we two? Is there a distinction between me and my body? Is there an "I" part of me that exists somewhere above, beyond, inside or outside my body? And if you're brave enough to ask people, some will know straight away, and they can get quite fierce about it, stamp their foot, desperate perhaps, political possibly, and such people can sometimes become a major pain in neck.

 Others will ramble on a little and will often come back with one or other iteration of the idea that concludes something like, "Yes, I think I do go somewhere when I die." In other words they draw a distinction between the temporal and the spiritual without necessary knowing which one of their two parts should be given priority. Me, I still go back to the Palestinian mother who'd just lost her child to a violent exchange. "God is mostly silent," she said. "Yet people do terrible things in his name."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cults and Technical Devices

Very tempting to go on little about the Cult of Personality, draw conclusions from previous examples. For some reason, even though he was a skinny little man, Pol Pot springs to mind. Yet history is awash with those frailties of personality that enable leaders to dominate their followers. I guess too it's a "Great Man" theory which offers purpose through mindless obedience. At the same time, I'm one of those sufficiently obnoxious members of the species who cannot name what might be called a personal hero. Leopards don't count, I'm told. A character flaw possibly, or perhaps far too anxious to spot flaws in others and I am particularly good at spotting flaws in Windows 10. Which this side of the interface does in my view qualify as a Cult of Personality which is right up there with our very own Kara ─łefo, Esperanto for Dear Leader, a stultulo if ever there was one.

The stress of a failed Windows 10 update and one thing and another was finally solved. However the endless, day long and apparently pointless subsequent updates have clearly expressed their intention to turn my life from an exercise in calm into a Running of the Bulls. Then out of nowhere, and without any prompting from me, I got a message. "Aren't you lucky!" it read. "Your device has just got the latest Windows 10 update..important security..find out what's new...etc, etc..." I was never asked if I wanted anything to do with the updates, I don't feel in the least lucky, the whole thing was just foisted upon me, my time, my emotions, and it's quite a long list. My better instinct is to throw the technical device out of the window and be done with it. Instead I find myself kowtowing to it. It's no wonder we're all doomed.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Hacking

Not the perfect morning to spend hoeing, or hacking, the neighbors Tobacco Rows. High heat factor, and interesting that the two much, much older fools far outlasted the youth of this fair county, which is why the nation is doomed to become a sloppy pale of lard within the next decade or so. All I can say is to hell with liberal values it's time to ban cell phones, television and definitely time to bring back the Draft, let them waddle around for the drill sergeant.

Kind of worrying really. No idea what happened to me. Could well have something to do with getting old, brain processes losing their ability to grasp nuance before heading off into the gullet of decay. Yet I'll insist that pride in useful physical labor and the capacity to endure it cheerfully is a fundamental human value, or should be. And why? Very good question, it's right up there with the meaning of it all.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

WRT

I was going to talk about the lessons to be learned about Free Trade from an understanding of the Corn Laws, the Irish Potato Famine, Vested Interest, the Iron Law of Oligarchy, Populism, the current problems facing the Canadian Liberal Party and why facts are the opposite to wishes. It was going to be a long, soothing explanation that would totally defy the classically elitist codswallop of the now redundant US TPP Negotiators who did insist that the proposed Pacific Rim Treaty was a little like Climate Change, too complicated for the man on the street corner to even begin to understand. But suddenly I felt as though I was an Uncle, or maybe a Great Aunt, or at least a God Parent of some sort, conceivably a Hospital Porter. And I'll tell you why. While enduring the morning chores the first Tree Swallow fledged. Engaged as I was with truly sour and possibly elitist thoughts of my own I didn't actually see it fledge, but there he was on the electric line, admiring his wings, wondering when and how large his tail feathers would grow as he waited for his parental side to pop something tasty in his mouth.

"How do you know it was a he?" Simple, with birds I work on the WRT (white republican theory), the first to fledge is the greediest, biggest, whiniest and least attractive, the others just can't wait to get rid of him. And if you don't believe me, through the course of the mid morning three more Tree Swallows fledged and they gently gathered to preen on the electric line, each little creature a sociable distance between them, and all three a good five to six yards away from he who fledged first. A blissful sight for a Sunday. But of lessons learned there's one wish and one sad fact. I wish no matter their personal reasons, Tree Swallows wouldn't fledge in the mid-day. And the sad fact is that I'm still struggling with sun blindness, a few shivers from lack of water and overheating, a bit of a headache, blocked sinus and a general sense of exhaustion which having a late lunch does absolutely nothing to ameliorate. But on the bright side I can say with a degree of confidence that enduring fledging pains however they arise is right and proper, and perfectly natural. Of interest, and a little depressing, when the time comes Girl Swallows are inclined toward pairing with Boy Swallows who have the longest and most glamorous tail feathers.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting arrive quite early in the year. A person can see little groups of them looking for sustenance in the low grass, on the gravel and they do all seem to get along with each other, chatting about this and that, recalling past moments and yet a keen observer can sense the tension in their midst. A couple of months later, when nests are up and thinking about the possibility of eggs, if a person sees an Indigo Bunting it's more likely to be an Indigo Bunting hell bent on chasing another Indigo Bunting. They're like blue darts screeching across the higher grasses. To my mind this sort of berserker behavior is amongst the first of many depressing sights of summer. Then if you still haven't recognized the signs, you might find yourself already in bed before the sun has troubled to set. And yes, we're talking the Summer Solstice which is up there with Christmas Day as one of the more depressing days of the year.

"Whoa!" I hear the call. "There's a long time to go until the leaves fall to the frost, there's days and days of canning for you to get excited about, beets for you to pickle, Johnson grass to wage war upon, that sort of thing. And there's compost for you to get worked up about. You might even get another chance to to throw stones at the Bald Eagle if he comes too close. Life's far too short......" All of which totally misses the point. From about the two weeks before Summer Solstice until Winter Solstice, some of us spend far too many of our important contemplative hours wondering whether the six months between Summer and Winter Solstice is a down hill slope or an uphill slope. It's a big question, that lurks in the way that a Saber Toothed Tiger might once have lurked around a playpen for the bright young stars of the Stone Age, back in the day before we got all hoity-toity around bronze. The thing is, for me at least, sometime on the day of Winter Solstice this big question just disappears, evaporates, off into the mist, like magic until something like Indigo Buntings start having a go at each other.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Right Foot

Your correspondent has been informed that raspberry donuts, ice cream, peeled grapes and lardy cake are no cure for an ailment of the right foot that has one of those difficult to pronounce and impossible to spell Latin names which always sounds as though a person should give serious consideration to a final testament.

Plantar comes from the Latin word for sole of the foot. Fascia is a term for connective tissues that surround muscle, blood vessels and nerves. Fasciitis is an inflammation of that connective tissue. Fascism comes from a Fraidy-Cat Lumpen Right, which is interesting because my left foot doesn't feel in the least nervous.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Windbreaks and Nesting.

Always stressful when birds chose to nest in or near the vegetable garden. One year the Close Mockingbird pair had their nest in what, to make it sound functional, we gardeners like to call a windbreak. This windbreak is on the more northern fence around the vegetable garden, the feeble excuse being to keep anti-social and sometimes fierce north winds in check. It wasn't always a windbreak. It started out as a pair of Apple trees, which after very severe instructions from me did for a while become what's called an Espalier and they did look elegant for about ten days a year. These days it's more of a bunch of green stuff with a climbing rose twined into it, all if it has to be hacked back at least three times a year. The whole thing is a pest hole for the Cedar Rust, and it should really be dug up and ceremoniously burned. But the northern windbreak is ideal for nesting and there's a particular Lichen that grows on the trunks of the Apples that employs the x factor of fascination to ensure the security of its home. It's one of those Lichens which toward the end of the year decide to send up stalks that look like little beady eyes.

When the Close Mockingbirds had their nest in the windbreak I could glance at their two chicks, I'd get an "aren't they perfect" from the proud male of their pair and he'd go on about his business. In subsequent years it's become quite  fashionable for members of the local Chipping Sparrow community to nest in the windbreak, in the Cucumbers, the climbing Squash, pretty much anywhere. But one of the things about Chipping Sparrows is no matter how much I tiptoe around if I go anywhere near one of their nests they go straight for the hat and I have hell to pay. This year a pair of Tree Swallows adopted a nest box which I'd casually attached to a fence post to keep it dry while I gave huge consideration to a more appropriate location. Being tourists I assumed Tree Swallows would be over bearing, obnoxious, critical and full of themselves, but they've been a total joy to share the garden with, no snapping at me, none of this Chipping Sparrow Rottweiler behavior from them. Their chicks of course are a different matter. Recently if I go anywhere near their box, there's a bunch of noise, a big quarrel and out pops the greediest little head expecting to be fed. The maw is a bright, custard yellow. And you have to wonder what places and sights that mouth will see when time comes to fly away.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

John Lackland

Around the time of King John, who was in some respects a competent man, he was a fairly good general, he had a vague understanding of the executive branch, there was an idea amongst the rulers that kings were essentially above the law, and their justification for this idea was sometimes referred to as "Divine Majesty." This idea asserted that a king was subject to no earthly authority, a person's ascension to the thrown was the will of God. Oddly, Divine Majesty is making a bit of a come back here in the United States. Indeed a radical and wealthy Christian outfit which for some absurd reason is called Liberty University, is hoping to further its fundamentalist cause by funding a movie that will attempt to encourage the idea that the current President of the United States was chosen by God. It strikes me that such obsequious star-effing so bites the big one a person has to wonder whether events since the end of the Early Stone Age ever happened. And it's true Aboriginal Peoples of Australia held the view that waking hours were more likely fantasy, it was the dream world of sleep were reality actually existed, so we got that to hold on to.

 King John, who was a Norman King of Saxon England, struggled with appalling social skills which included being very petty, very spiteful, very cruel and red-headed. But after all, he had been chosen by God, so how could he go wrong. During his reign he fought a war against the King of France and he succeeded in losing Normandy, the land of the Normans, which is or was no small territory in the north eastern part of France. One of the main reasons he lost the war was his attitude toward what you might call his natural allies, he pissed the hell out of them. In those days when kings lost territory it kind of aggravated the populace. The loss of territory was usually a big financial hit to the upper income group. Lower down the scale, the common man, or peasant, would probably begin to wonder whether God might have made an error of judgment which always aggravated the priests. It's also the case that primarily as a consequence of John's appalling social skills and his zoo of self serving Liberty University type courtiers, so infuriated both Norman and Saxon Land owners that in 1215 they ganged up and forced him to sign the Great Charter or the Magna Carta, which did absolutely nothing for most of us but which I always thought was at least the beginning of the end of this Divine Majesty nonsense.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Crossword Puzzles

Tomorrow is the anniversary of D Day. On the 5th of June 1944, which would have been 74 years ago today, weather conditions and the forecast along the English Channel for a full scale invasion of Europe were a long way from ideal, and it was down to one man to make what must have been a very, very hard decision. The man's name was Eisenhower, he became the 34th President of the United States, his classic adage, "plans are useless, planning is indispensible." Two years before D Day, in the August of 1942, a force of around six thousand mostly Canadian soldiers had crossed the English Channel to conduct a raid on a French Port Town called Dieppe. The objective of the Dieppe Raid was to hold the Port Town for two tides and then scuttle back to the English Islands. The purpose of the Dieppe Raid had as much to do with demonstrating willingness to die on beaches as it had to do with gathering intelligence and learning lessons about how best not to die on beaches. Brave men indeed.

In the days leading up to the Dieppe Raid an English Newspaper called the Daily Telegraph had a crossword puzzle clue, "A French Port" and it was six letters. The answer was Dieppe. All hell broke loose in the security services, who quickly convinced themselves that the clue was obviously the work of a foreign agent disguised as a crossword puzzle compiler for the Daily Telegraph sending messages to the enemy. Intensive investigations concluded it was total coincidence. In the days leading up to D Day the Daily Telegraph's same crossword puzzle compiler again had innocent looking clues, very suspicious answers to which included, "Mulberry," which was the name for a secret floating harbor. "Utah," which was the secret name for one of the landing beaches near a small town that has the beautiful name of La Madeleine. And "Overlord," which was the secret name for the invasion of Europe. Again all hell broke loose in the security services, and again the answers to the clues were deemed entirely coincidental.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Straight from the Fridge

Once upon a time Kerouac was asked what he meant by Beat. His answers had little precision and were kind of vague, but he'd achieved status sufficient for everyone to assume he knew exactly what he meant by Beat. By this time of course there was a whole thing about Beatniks and black polo neck sweaters, record labels, books, shocking interviews with the bourgeois media, black and white television and the plethora, so it didn't really matter what Kerouac reckoned he meant by Beat. A difficult time for some of us, we had hard decisions to make, whether to become a Mod, a Rocker, a Teddy Boy, or a Beatnik and soon enough you found out that the authentic Beatnik did not call him or herself a Beatnik. He or she was just Beat, and everything about Beat was glorious except for the bongo drums, which could be incredibly irritating around two in the morning. Meanwhile older people were talking about the rot having set in, and would often say things like "hanging's too good for them," and "bring back the cat," a reference to the cat-o'-nine-tails.

Now that I am an older person, I realize I have absolutely no idea which of the many possibilities the young people are exploring today. A visit to town tells me nothing, and certainly there's no one saying anything  like "daddy-o" or "digging it man" on a street corner. So maybe it all happens at night, but more likely this amazing paucity of visible self expression has to do with the evils of Social Media. It all happens in the ether and all that remains are the occasional convoy of large angry looking sweaty middle aged men hogging the road on their motorcycles and the odd callow youth with what look like Bull testicles attached to the tail-hook of their pick up truck. Granted both are well worth a "throw away the key" but all the same I sometimes feel robbed of the generous opportunities for self expression showered by my own generation on previous generations of older people. And that's "Straight from the Fridge" which for those concerned is an infinitely more subtle and much cooler way of saying something like "Ain't that the Truth," but who really knows.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Ancient Mysteries

Much scholarly debate about the origin of the word Yahweh. Some will tell you it was place lost to the sands of time, others will tell you it translates from an ancient Canaanite language into Popeye's "I am what I am," still others will come up with all sorts of mystical offerings and entirely possible because it has something to do with Religion and Politics and Academia there's no real incentive for an objective answer. My own view follows an account which naturally enough I can no longer find in any real sense, yet variations of which remain a constant for those moments in the vegetable Garden when there's just a little bit more to do and the body begins to express a sudden yearning for The Rapture and failing that a good long cigarette break in deep, Tic-less shade. The other point I'd like to make is that there's no way Bruce Springsteen singing "Santa Claus is Coming" figures in any reputable account of the origin of Yahweh, so best to keep that in mind.

Many years ago, in a part of the world where rain was uncertain and land subject to plagues of Centipedes, a gardener exhausted from the endless monotony of separating the Tares from the Wheat thought he heard a voice and he looked up unto the heavens. And lo it was what sounded like a Late Bronze Age Bruce Springsteen singing, "You'd better not cry, you'd better not pout, and I'm telling you why, so be good for goodness sake."  The gardener, having followed the calling of gardeners, was a dour, fusty old grump and he replied, "The odd Tare never hurt anybody! It's all roughage!"  And with a degree of unction the voice answered, "Well you'd better watch out because sooner or later I'm coming to town." A terrible quarrel ensued during which Blossom End Rot was mentioned several times, and finally the gardener put his good hand on his bad hip and demanded, "Who exactly do you think you are?"  "I am the Creator. I have no name. I can't help it, I am what I am."

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Achilles Heel

Many years ago, as a young bright eyed, enthusiastic youth of tender years, your correspondent endured two life altering experiences. The first was a winter that included snow, freezing temperatures, heatless dormitories and an attitude amongst his peers that included the unbelievably absurd idea that two blankets on the bed was for sissies. The second was the change in time from ordinary time to daylight savings time. And it became clear to him that life in the land of the pink people was  under no circumstances reasonable, so it was basically no wonder Anglo Saxons generally did everything they could to get the hell off the green and pleasant land by conquering as much of the rest of the world as possible. Back then of course teachers of English History considered these views D minus to the point of subversive material which is how your correspondent was first introduced to something called Detention.

 In my view Detention was kind of like heaven, because the alternatives to Detention was a thing called Free Time, which meant that while my peers were forced to remain outdoors entertaining themselves by trying to keep warm, I was well sheltered from the stiff breezes that usually contained rain. Sadly the alternative to Detention was something called a Visit to the Headmaster, a deviously cunning man who knew a slacker when he saw one. Briefly your correspondent was able to maintain dominance in the battle of wits by demonstrating symptoms that characterize the Moron, which is just above idiot. Then one day, your correspondent was called from the algebra class and introduced to an extraordinary sight. She was gentle to look at, she smelled nothing like wet socks and she sat me down and asked me to perform a number of simple tasks that included arranging different shaped blocks. I was like putty in my determination to impress. It was pathetic, weak minded of me, an Achilles Heel that's lingered big time.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Chemistry of Mind

Interesting the more recent attempts to interpret the dubious wonders of psychotropic chemicals from some of our intellectual elites. For those of us who have been here long enough to understand the heights of existence upon earth almost entirely in terms of a successful bowel movement it might seem that somewhere, someone has money to make from persuading the milk cows that solace is available from taking what many years ago was called, amongst other things, an Acid Trip. And it's also possible that quite a few of us, sometime in the distant past, might have spent more time then they really wanted to persuading some idiot male not to leap from the top floor balcony because he firmly believed he was that rare creature an Ostrich that could fly. Oddly he had the feathers and everything.

Yet as I understand the latest literature on the subject, a Good Trip encourages those of us old people who might have suddenly discovered a concern about the pointlessness of it all feel better about the prospects of dying. The Trip, apparently, opens the mind to possibilities which instead of being called fantasy worlds are referred to as spiritual worlds. Mind you, much more of this current administration and the mass production of a pill that grants access to spirituality would certainly result in several additions to the Billionaire Class. Entirely possible I have completely missed the point, but a quick glance at the alarm clock and we've only got about three weeks before Intelligent Machines take over. So there's that for us older people to hold fast to.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Planting

It wasn't so much a feep-out on my part, it was more a question of cleverly exploring the alternatives to sacrificing access to the weather radar for an unknown period of time by doing things like 'far too busy to go to the Post Office, maybe tomorrow.' Then, thank goodness, I got the call to arms. The professionals had decided that in anticipation of the Full Moon beginning to wane, which apparently is a guarantee of some kind of rain, the plan was to replant by hand those more cantankerous parts of the Tobacco Field that had failed to sufficiently succor Tobacco Seedlings. Each of the two thousand plus new seedlings would be planted with a dribble of water. To get the water to where it was needed buckets of water would be carried. In context, the entire field was originally planted with around sixty thousand Tobacco Seedlings. And there was a moment from the apprentice that felt the need to suggest that the percentage success rate was pretty damn good, and at the same time the apprentice had a real understanding of the intense depression and personal insult that can be produced by gaps in any row of plants.

In times past a Tobacco Field didn't have to be that big to realize a profit, but Tobacco is a hungry plant, a field soon spent, the ground gets tired, which meant a new spot had to be found or cleared for the Tobacco. A smaller plot was way more manageable. Pests that tolerate and thrive on Tobacco could be hand picked and you could even think about waiting for the last frost to sow Tobacco seed, which are tiny little things, germination temperature for them in the upper seventies Fahrenheit, then hope for a nice long year with no surprises in May or September. More recently to realize profit the size of a Tobacco Field has to take account of costs that include machinery, tractors, planters, pesticides and fertilizers. And it's not just any old fertilizer. If you use the wrong combination of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium the buyers can tell by communing with it that your Tobacco isn't good quality. And yes, the fertilizer costs twice as much as the seedlings. Either way the general opinion amongst the professionals was to place the blame firmly on the borrowed carousel planter. As I understand it, the mechanics of a carousel planter are such that for it to achieve perfection the ground has to be pretty much a fine, clodless, heavenly tilth, which is not something that comes easy around here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Rain Cloud Encouragement

Good chance of rain in the next couple of days and a very good chance of no rain. For those interested, in such a circumstance of uncertainty I have a rain cloud encouragement technique which others who might also be pacing around waiting for rain might wish to try. Unlike the banality of "Thoughts and Prayers" this technique does require great sacrifice. The very first thing you do is change your internet connection password and write your new password down on a piece of paper which you put in a stamped envelope to mail to yourself. Before you go to the Post Office you disconnect from the internet. It's not easy, there will be major temptations to feep-out, you'll probably get hives, always a chance you might start hallucinating raindrops on the windshield, recognize the hallucination as a symptom of internet withdrawal, which is main reason why some of us maintain windshield wipers that don't actually work.

If your mission is successful and you get home, you'll have forgotten your new password and you'll have no access to weather radar for at least forty eight hours, if not longer. Which in turn means the totality of your Being can become wholly obsessed with a sometimes difficult interpersonal dialogue between yourself and possibilities of rain without any kind of dependence on the interpretations of the often random, frequently radical and sometimes devious thinking from weather forecasting professionals. When you get back from the Post Office, you open all the windows in your vehicle and you open the tailgate. Then you go to your attic, close the curtain and visualize the possibilities of rain drops fluffing up the soil on your neighbor's struggling Tobacco field. And here it's very important to be generous to others with your visualizations, any selfish kind of thinking at this time of year pretty much guarantees straight line winds, tornado and flood.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Older Timers

If you ask the old timers around here, and I mean the old timers, the kind of characters who can recall plowing their Tobacco field with their father's Mule, struggling with the winter flu and still having to milk the Cows morning and night in temperatures well below freezing, you'll find it difficult to determine the extent to which the climate might have changed. Most suggest it was snowier back then, life harder, fewer Turkey and there were more Butterflies, but that's about it.

During the Depression of the 1930's, when time came to take the Tobacco Leaves to the warehouse, where they would be judged, weighed and sold, many growers would take a chicken as a donation to the agents who did the judging, weighing and buying. Many more growers would make the trip home with very little or no gain from their family's year of hard work. With no cash from the crop, there was no money for new shoes, new cloth or shop candy. Back then too, the saying was, "Don't drink the moonshine, sell it." 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Chipmunk

Being a secondary primary caregiver for a proven serial killer can lead to conflict. Not that I'm pure in either heart or spirit, I spend daily hours conducting pogroms against the annuals and have a particular hatred for Crabgrass and its relatives, which this year are attempting to colonize the beds in the Vegetable Garden, and it's easy enough to blame the Voles for introducing billions and billions of Crabgrass seeds into the Vegetable garden, because it offers an opportunity to take solace from the knowledge that the Girl Cat does spend a majority of her waking hours hunting, then torturing, then partially consuming pretty much anything that can move seeds around by design, rather than something like the wind. But the way I read it, the Girl Cat still feels doggedly determined to lead the Kitten into her own gruesome calling. And it was the Girl Cat who introduced the live Chipmunk into the domicile.

 The Artist, who quite frankly is totally besotted by the Kitten, will insist that it was the Kitten who brought the Chipmunk into the house. The idea appears to produce a glow of pride in the more creative of our pairing. For my part I'm not that convinced the Kitten has ever earned her keep. To my mind the Kitten's main role is to interrupt the flow of my day with a series of demands to open doors and gates when she's not angling for a snack or needs to have her pillows fluffed or just wants to be patted on the head. Nor was I taken in for one minute by the Kitten's scampering around the downstairs, bravely rumpling the rugs and bashing into things as she chased the Chipmunk in a manner which both I and the Girl Cat judged clumsy at best. Of interest, Chipmunks appear to be about fifty times larger when they're actually in the house and it would seems that in the Chipmunk community they obviously have the testosterone fueled Stand Your Ground laws, and it's that sort of Spartans at Thermopylae attitude of theirs that lets us secondary caregivers catch them with a bathmat and by so doing get himself  a pat on the head from a primary caregiver.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Effing Wall

You really have to wonder what kind of mind comes up with the idea of separating young children and babies from their mothers as a deterrent to others. And you might even wonder what sort of country produces a mind that produces such a policy. You also have to wonder what kind of mindless person would agree to implement such a policy, but they do.

"....Yesterday, we and the SS were generous. Every Jew we caught was shot. Today, it's different ... They are beaten to death with cudgels and spades...." It's from a letter to his mother and father, written be a young soldier on the Eastern Front in 1942. He goes on to say, the work was difficult at first, but it was getting easier, and he reminded his mother it was his patriotic duty.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Coupons

From bitter experience I can tell you coupons for the Grocery Store are way less straightforward than they appear to be. You can find yourself a prime source of aggravation at check out where there's an overwhelming level of determination to make one customer happy even if it does mean badly irritating and possibly ruining the shopping experience of ten or fifteen others. Indeed if I was a store manager I'd tell a newbie coupon user like me to just go back to the beginning and start again.

My advice when using coupons, practice your comprehension skills for a couple of days beforehand, get a sense of how many ounces there are in a pound, don't just assume you know, put aside anything like an absurd conviction that there can't possibly be a difference between a Dinner Sausage and Breakfast Sausage, take a magnifying glass and try to be brave.  Of the three coupons, I did ace the coupon for free ice cream which was pretty much melted by the time I got home. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Technical Device

Downloading a fix for Windows 10 which has chosen not to speak to me or respond in anyway. Good chance the world will end before this is accomplished. Which means this could be farewell, because I'll not be replacing this wretched machine. And I'll tell you why. Addiction. For a long time now I've realized that I am addicted to the  technical device. "When do you cut Garlic Scapes?" The answer is no longer a reach into memory or a book, instead it's "look it up on Goggle!" "How old am I?" "Look it up on Goggle!" "What's my address and social security number again?" "Look it up on Goggle!"  Nor will I mention Facebook or Reddit or any of those other contributions to the extinction of existence. Then bang! It's all gone to some misconstrued code, there's a sense of panic, there's pacing around, there's foot stamping, and a good chance you'll develop a near terminal case of hives as I did during an adverse reaction to an extraordinarily rational attempt to give up smoking.

On the bright side, this could be a good chance to make yet another effort to improve my social skills. Following the realization that the conversational remarks I have occasionally made in a social setting are often greeted with alarm and confusion, I've successfully reduced verbal communication to the occasional grunt. I'd like to think I'm still quite good at nodding politely even if I haven't actually practiced nodding politely in the mirror, so who knows the impression it leaves. It's also the case the hours I spend avoiding Tics while in the company of Compost Piles might not contribute to the understanding that there are diverse opinions on the planet and my word is not law. Not that anyone takes any notice down there in the shade but it is possible that lack of response is a Compost Pile's equivalent to a polite nod. Either way, to quote the Tangerine, we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Paths

Maintaining paths around and through the hay field can join the cause of agony then leaves the soul refreshed, but it's a tradition with a rich oligarchic heritage that goes back to what could be one single moment of inspiration which when Goggle Earth was black and white struck a chord. In the way back archives you'll find an image of what could be a crop circle in the shape of a series of Mango Patterns, a sure sign of alien visitors or a cry for help. These days it's more plodding, same old paths in the field, where Violet flourish and plenty of Clover blooming for the Bees, and when the hay is high these paths are used by Deer and Turkey on their dainty way from here to there. You might see a flotilla of Quail and their chicks. And too when the hay is high, and you're crouching on a geriatric riding mower you can't see much of the horizon through the brim of your hat, but you have a good view of the path ahead and behind, and usually, following contact with a surfeit of drifting pollen, you can't breath or see well for a day or two afterwards.

Nor is your mower of paths that comfortable around Dogs. Ahead, as he wended his way, he saw what looked like a big puppy. It had that Koala Bear cuteness of fluffy ears and it was just lying there staring at me. One of the things about Coyote they always watch  awhile, decide whether you're edible, whether you're dangerous or whether you're entertaining enough to follow around for a bit. And it's a nerve-racking fact that adolescent Coyote, like the young of our own species, are sometimes beset by an unnatural curiosity. I can tell you this much, it was a relief when he or she endured the thought processes and finally chose to leave the path, disappear into the longer grass. In keeping with path traditions, you mow twice, there and back for a wider swath and to catch the strays. There was a moment in me that did consider a short cut home, but what with the heat, sweat in the eyes and being bound to the iron law of oligarchy I just went for it. On the return there were two Coyote in the path. The one with a look of outrage in her face was definitely not a puppy. I vividly recalled a recent report about pack of wild mixed breed Dachshunds who'd dispatched a teenager in woodland somewhere in California. Must have been a horrible, yapping sort of way to join with the End Time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Vines

The other little devil which following a whim might have been introduced to the Vegetable Garden is Cyprus Vine. It's in the Morning Glory family and your looking at fifteen, sixteen feet. In it's hatching weeks it's one of those "don't panic, you'll hardly notice me at all" climbing vines. Don't be fooled by it's eagerness to please, have at it, pogrom away because no matter your diligence by about the middle of September when the mornings begin to cool you'll suddenly become aware of the smothering web of a small lacy leafed plant producing a very small scarlet bloom that seemed to have suddenly appeared as a result of sorcery. As you stand there aghast, it doubles in size.

It'll be up and down fences, pretty much embedded in the last Tomatoes, it'll be running around on the paths and you'll curse, get depressed, seek solace by attacking it and quickly realize, you're far too late. The individual bloom lasts for less than a day, the vine continues all the way to frost but the bloom is chock full of nectar at a time in the year when there's not much around for Hummingbirds engaged in the journey south. By about the end of September beginning of October, you can take your morning cigarette and ash bucket to the Cyprus vine, sit yourself down and spend a happy hour or two watching Hummingbirds quarrelling over who gets what. Best to wear neutral colors, don't wear anything red and take a fly swat in the event of Hummingbird over-exuberance.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Arch

Some few years ago, it was in the Fall, your gardener had one of those notions. What the Vegetable Garden needed, he decided, was an Arch. He must have been inspired by the kind of reading material that Dentists insist on having scattered around their waiting rooms. It's the glossy stuff, a bubble dwelling nightmare of incomprehensible happy talk about perfect people with their absurd passion for gardening, food, slave owning lifestyles and holiday getaways. Either way I should have known better, but at the same time your other reading option in the Dentist's waiting room is one of the newer totally antiseptic translations of the Bible, so in the end it's much better to put your head back, close your eyes and pretend you've been struck by narcolepsy. The point is, that first year I planted Snake Gourd on The Arch. I pictured hanging fruit and quipped with the Mockingbird about the possibilities of people bonking their heads. The white lacy nature and scent of Snake Gourd bloom is absolutely wonderful, the gourds do hang nicely but I guess a person has to gain experience in the art of preparing Snake Gourd for the dinner table, otherwise it just makes you feel ill for a couple of days.

The following year I had what I believed was a brilliant inspiration for The Arch. I decided it cried out for Morning Glory, which for anyone who is remotely normal hangs up there with one of the single most beautiful blooms in all the world. It can certainly bring a flutter to the delicate heart of even the dourest of gardeners, he gets lost in shades of blue as his eye wanders toward the center of the bloom and on a chilly morning he might even be persuaded to see God. But one of the things about Morning Glory where I live, it takes a while to achieve the moment of bloom, and the other thing about Morning Glory, it's seeds do not run true. Ponies from the wild gallop across her stigma and the following year you got a bunch of home schooled. The lesson is you don't plant Morning Glory in your Vegetable Garden, because if you do you spend the rest of your life trying to get rid of an aggressive, incredibly prolific, very sneaky, fast growing little annual vine that's quite sweet, its small flowers are pinkish white, but the vine does nothing for your sense of being in control. And as everyone knows, a sense of not being in control at the busy time of the year is an aspect of the limbic system's knee jerk reactions to the real that does nothing whatsoever for balance, sense of order or a gardener's overall wellness.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Demand Side

Very tempted to explore recent reflections on Demand Side Economic Theory that's beginning to find a path into the rainbow of our elites. The theory is brave because it suggests that government cannot run out of money. The criticism has so far been that governments who spend prolifically pretty much guarantee a destructive inflation, which means we're all looking to replace wallets with wheelbarrows. The response to this criticism is that monetary policy, interest rates and so on, rather than the gold standard, are the more flexible mechanisms to control inflation. Of the gurus in this brave new Keynesian world, the canoeing enthusiast Stephanie Kelton is renowned for her assertion, "Money doesn't grow on rich people."

The reason that branch of the disgustingly wealthy who aren't dumb, who don't openly practice eugenics, who understand productivity and the challenges of technology to the common man, find this iteration of demand side economics appealing is that if accurate, then to ease the burden of living for the rest of us and by so doing prevent us from roaming the streets looking for wide eyed, troll-like saviors to return us to the 19th century there will be no requirement to raise taxes on the absurdly rich. As well, there's the crassness of the Political Class for whom a path to power is to manipulate the ideas of often un-saintly Economists to either promote social change or put an end to it. Have to wonder when it might be time to go boldly again.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Fittings

Most Fascists struggle with paranoia. Convince themselves of all sorts of things and then they wallow in the conviction that something or someone is deliberately out to get them. And it's a well known fact that a good percentage of gardeners struggle with the conviction that weather forecasters and the weather itself have basically combined with the manufacturers of hose pipes and hose pipe fittings to make a gardener's life so totally miserable it's almost pointless. It's the wet Fagin gloves and leaking that finally does it, and it's a trip to the hardware store for replacement fittings. Not a good day for anyone.

One of the things is this. Some of us, through fair means or foul, might be in possession of what's called a 3/4 inch hose pipe and being miserly this 3/4 inch hose pipe is attached to a 1/2 inch hose pipe that some few years ago was also released from an unnatural and cruel servitude. Classically the sad fact is that most hose pipes are 5/8 inch which means finding fittings for anomalous hosepipes is not for the sort of person who finds the more recent iteration of what passes for hardware stores far too jovial and a little stressful. What happened to the dark counter with a grumpy little old man who knew everything behind it? Like the President, I blame Amazon.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Thorns

Blackberry in bloom, fairly certain it's early and when it blooms it can remind a person of Hawthorn, which is a low stubborn and sometimes angry tree that once upon a time dominated the European hedgerows. It was in the Hawthorn you'd find Finch, Robin and Thrush nests. There was an art to hedging Hawthorn, the hedger would cut almost halfway into a two to four year old branches, bend them without breaking them and pretty much weave them. It was a style called layering. Over time, the resulting hedge could keep a Rampant Bull contained, it made mincemeat out of anything like a dachshund chasing a Squirrel. The other thing about Hawthorn, in the early part of the year it has a very gentle and inviting looking leaf, and for a novice jobbing gardener taking back control of a Hawthorn hedge looks like very tempting and easy hourly rate, then he discovers the thorns that protect those leaves. Those thorns are a hundred times worse than the Blackberry, but not as terrifying as the medieval instruments of torture Honey Locust produce.

 It was in the older gardens you'd still find Hawthorn Hedges. Proud new property owners deemed them useful to keep the view of rurality and fertilizer at bay before the field beyond was sold to the builders and then a Hawthorn Hedge did sterling work against nosey neighbors and their yappy dogs. Invariably home owners get old, bad tempered, short sighted and prone to falls. So the Hawthorn Hedge is released to the wild, it's a riot of white bloom and insects in May and bunches of red berries as the year declines. Usually in those urban settings it's the next door neighbor who complains about the hedge, some pathetic feeble excuse about it casting too much shade on the roses or sunbathing teenager. Not a word for the travelling Redwings or the homebody Thrush that feast on the plenty Hawthorn provides when the leaves fall. And funny thing there's always a bird table in the neighbors garden. Usually in sight of the kitchen window. Coconut and peanuts, bread crusts laden with salt from the breakfast table to fatten the Sparrows and a pussy cat with a pointless name to take their fledglings. Either way, here where I live, there could be a valiant attempt to mow Blackberry picking paths.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Lumper

The Irish Lumper is a Potato. It was the more prolific variety of Potato, it grew anywhere and everywhere. In Ireland the Lumper wasn't the only variety of Potato but it was the Potato most people grew as their prime source of sustenance. It was an interesting looking Potato apparently, it was lumpy, not easily peeled, it came in all sorts of shapes and had its reputation survived the Irish Potato Famine there'd be no way mechanized Corporate Agriculture would grow it today. Today's Potato has to lend itself to the machine, particularly to the machines that churn out frozen chips, or frozen French fries for the deep fryers in fast food joints. In the saga, the Potato Blight that caused the famine came in an all consuming dark, glooming, sooty mist that had its source somewhere in the Irish Sea. Some reckoned it was the "sins of the people," others "mortiferous vapors" emanating from volcanoes in the center of the earth. Back then on the east side of the Irish Sea, England had its Trump Country which thought the blight was a heaven sent blessing that would finally transform the troublesome Irish. Prime minister Robert Peel tried to increase the availability of food by attempting to reform protectionist laws that kept out cheap foreign grain, but the English Gentleman Farmers would hear none of it. Meanwhile around a million people died of hunger in Ireland.

I know about the Lumper because I once earned an hourly rate down by the docks near the late night bars and dance clubs. It wasn't a large establishment, more of a hole in the wall establishment, and raining or not, most of the eating was done by drunk people, eating out of newspaper in the streets outside, between the hours of 10.30 pm and 3.30 am Thursday, Friday and Saturday. My job was to get there around 9.00pm and put the Potatoes into a Potato Peeling Machine. It had an electric engine that made a loud noise in a confined space, the Potatoes whizzed around and around for a couple of watery minutes and when they looked as though they had most of the peel rubbed off them I'd stop the machine, release peeled Potatoes into a bucket full of clean water. Then my job was to press one Potato after another through a device that cut them into the thick chips. The kind of chips that lend themselves to being deep fried in lard. Greasy, hot, limp and soggy, delicious sprinkled with salt and vinegar. My employer might never have known a moment of sobriety, he knew a lot about the art of battering fish and sausages, his hygiene was appalling, he was very picky about the quality of his Potatoes, and he did rather go on about the pace of change, progress, the Lumper and the killing mist. He always paid me at the end of the day in cash.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

News

Some of us might be old enough to remember when the important daily news was all about Sharks biting scantily clad people at the seaside, toddlers dying from heat after being locked in cars, Grannies getting mugged, film stars getting arrested following erratic behavior, tornadoes in somewhere like Owensboro, the inevitable nonsense about disease resistant Tomatoes. Sometimes you might read about the President and occasionally there was something positive, if a little suspect, such as a Cat rescuing a Budgerigar from a burning four story building.

Then suddenly it was 21st Century. I remember the panic, the world was going to end because someone had failed to advise technical devices that following the 1900's the 2000's would happen, and as a result banks would fail, clocks would stop, satellites and airplanes would fall out of the sky and we'd all have go back to 1900 again. Mind you in November of 1918 the First World War ended, so we got that to look forward to and in 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment was adopted which meant girls could join us boys at the voting booths to elect Warren Harding who dies of a heart attack in 1923, which leaves us Calvin Coolidge and the slide toward the Great Depression to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Compost Piles

Inching toward a curse laden diatribe addressing billionaires, old white male politicians, slime-balls and portly white men generally, blond, orange presidents, anyone called Nunberg, cheeseburgers, Democrats and the GOP.... and the list does go on a little. So it's probably just as well I spent the late morning letting off a little steam with the Compost Piles.

Compost Piles really are so understanding, they take it all in, nod wisely, tell me I know exactly what I'm talking about and remind me that in the long run we're all dead and rotting. I would move a chair down there, hang out more often, but sadly there's something far too inscrutable about them and I'm beginning to suspect their motives.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Inclement Conditions

Average high temperature for the month of May here is 77 Fahrenheit. Average low for May is 54 Fahrenheit. These are ideal conditions for pretty much anything that grows in a vegetable garden and they are perfect for gardener's own sense of being as he goes about his important business. But, the first weeks of May in the year 2018 have been running a good 10 degrees Fahrenheit above average. The cooler weather plants, like Lettuce and Cabbage, particularly those in full sun, are endeavoring to be brave but will crack sometime very soon, they'll bolt or apparently just develop peculiar little colorful halos, turn into angels and wither away. This morning at around 11.30 am, or 10.30 sensible time, your gardener withered quickly and he bolted for the indoors.

 It was fairly pathetic sight, kind of like deserting his post, running away to hide. The Tomato didn't care, as long as they get their evening water. Uncle Eggplant remained stoic. With Peppers you never know, hot weather or not they're like deep blue Mercedes Liberals, always on the verge of sulking about something. But there'll definitely be a white feather or two in the mail from the Victorian Snap Peas, most of whom have incredibly brave, if distant, relatives in the Hussars. More ominous there's a patch of Foxgloves that lost their shade to a sudden and terminal sootiness in a Redbud. Pretty certain they blame me. And well worth noting, seeing halos around objects are amongst the symptoms of Foxglove poisoning, so sometimes it's not all about the heat.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Planting

They reckon it was a three hectare field, give or take a boundary dispute. As an apprentice I'm not really expected to know what a hectare might look like, but I can tell you this much, by around noon on a very sunny day touching the nineties Fahrenheit, with hotter gusts from the south, a single hectare feels like the size of Rhode Island and by around three in the afternoon two hectares begin to look like the size of Texas. By five in the afternoon you're basically wondering where the Nubian Vultures and the Long Legged Buzzards are because you're in the Sahara Desert keenly anticipating a visit from a Zoroastrian Saint.

A two seat carousel planter towed by a tractor. The planter dug a shallow trench, it applied a stream of water, deposited a seedling, and then mounded soil back into the trench. The individual seedlings had to be individually plucked from the flats and manually placed into the turning carousel. As an apprentice my job was to join the walk behind the machine, fixing errors such as planting occasional missing plants and regularly re-setting improperly planted plants. I'm told that planting 70,000 Tobacco seedlings is the easy part. Next will be hand weeding the rows, probably after hay making.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Marigolds

I could bore the pants off people by going on about local issues, the heat, total lack of rain, wilting Peppers and the rumor about Epsom Salts, the stress of Tomato planting and the first sighting of what could be Hoppy Bug, that dreadful little demon which quite frankly is yet another example of the far too many errors in creation many more of whom were waddling around, log jamming the aisles buying Mother's Day plants. Nothing cute about it!

If I was a mother that last thing in this world I'd want on my special day would be anything like a plant, a bottle of Gin and a week off would be more like it. And there I was looking for Marigolds to help keep Bean Beetle, Squash Bugs and Thrips at bay, and would you believe it the only flat of Marigolds I could find cost far more than they needed to. The flat had an unnecessarily expensive handle, decorated with pink hearts and upon which was written Happy Mother's Day. Rightly I got a definite sneer at the check out counter.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Big Strawberry

I think the better analogy is a Mockingbird's rapacious approach to ripening Strawberries. It's classic spoiled brat mother's boy bottom behavior. A couple of pecks and on to the next one, leaving a gardener to struggle with his passions as he surveys the damage.

 So if there is anyone wishing to pay me absurdly large amounts for an opinion on, and how to influence, the thinking of the current President of the United States they are very welcome to. Currently accepting the Azerbaijan Manat, the Albanian Lek, Rubles and the North Korean Won.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

You are what you eat

Deeply suspicious of the weather. All this fancy talk about lows in the upper fifties and mid sixties Fahrenheit into the foreseeable future means nothing, until humidity reaches unbearable levels. We had a Dogwood Winter at the end of last week, it was a long chill that followed rain and it's name comes from it's coinciding with the bloom of Dogwood. Sure to be a Blackberry Winter at the end of this month, it's a combination of ridiculous atmospheric conditions that guarantees blight, associated poxes, and an extended period of ennui for a gardener who has to suddenly hunt down his woolly hat. Not to mention thunderstorms, possible tornado, hail, the inevitable straight line wind, and a political climate hell bent on pursuing pogroms on anything that isn't a waddling, white, English Speaking, protestant male who's been unable to see his toes for about thirty years. So what with one thing and another, it's entirely possible I'll not be putting the Tomato, Eggplant or Pepper out until probably end of June.

 But Basil is a different and more complicated story. The Basil have now been waiting in their pots for such a long time, and they got so excited by the very high heat of early last week they've decided to give serious consideration to blooming in May, a something they shouldn't even think about doing until at least September. Nor are Basil immune from the plagues brought on by a Blackberry Winter. Some years ago on the other side of the Appalachians it was an inclemency of patterns and a dank chill in the early June that robbed them of their Basil. That year our Basil had never looked better and as a gesture of solidarity we were able to ship care packages of Fresh Basil to those struggling under the boot heel of totalitarian impulses. The other thing is this, it's a well known fact that right wingers aren't that big on vegetables unless the vegetable in question has been stewed with a ham hock for at least four days, so as an experiment I'm going to just go ahead and put out the Basil, and if they succumb to anything resembling a pox I'll know exactly why.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Moon Flower

If you like dangerous blue sky, drifting fluffy clouds, a cool breeze with temperatures in the mid to upper seventies Fahrenheit, then it was a wasn't a bad day.  But if you're something like a Moon Flower seedling who might have been casually dragged outside to harden off and get ready for the great adventure, then today was pretty much a nightmare of withering, leaf scorching, blinding sun and high, desiccating wind.

 Invariably a gardener feels the burden of guilt, he makes soothing noises, promises a dribble of water and the sirens blare as he rushes Moon Flowers toward dappled shade. But always best to remember that in times of high emotion "rushing" a tray of Moon Flowers anywhere is an error. A person could trip over a watering can and fall, which does nothing at all to promote a Moon Flower's confidence in the quality of her caretaker or her prospects for the future.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Flycatchers

The Kingbird is in the family of Flycatcher. Rumor has it that while amongst the quick sunsets, hobnobbing with Parrots and enjoying a cocktail with the Palm Trees, while the rest of us endure winter, a Kingbird primarily eats fruit. I don't know how true this rumor is, but I'm beginning to believe it. Phoebes, also in the family of Flycatcher, have been nesting since almost March, and they only pretend to fly south. It's possible that through the winter when insects are scarce Phoebes also eat fruits, seeds and berries.

There's no doubt when you see a Phoebe snatch a Cabbage White Butterfly from the grasp of a Kingbird that the Kingbird could be out of practice in the finer arts of ridding the wild cabbages, in abundance this year, of a primary pest. Mind you The Phoebe has nestlings to feed, the Kingbird is still far too interested in looking splendid to have yet engaged in the nightmare business of nesting. The other thing about Phoebes is the quality of their sneakiness. Don't be fooled by their name, or their "pity me" call, they are high end scoundrels and there's nothing cute about them.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

When in Rome

On this day Thirty Two years ago in Northern Virginia the Wisteria Bloom had been and gone. "OMG! What an incredible memory you have!" I hear the call. "Well, thank you," I humbly reply. At the same time it is the case that a few moments stick, most do not and yet others just kind of float around looking for somewhere useful to cause trouble. Sadly, I am one who remembers, often with clarity, the least important of moments. So it's kind of dull to go on about the difference between a torch and a flashlight, a sidewalk and a pavement, a socialist and Stalin, or to even suggest that not even the Romans knew what Rome was, rather they knew what they wanted it to be. I have no evidence of course, but strongly suspect that not every Roman thought it a fine entertainment to toss the more virulent  Christian to a hungry Lion, and entirely possible that not all Romans knew how many Senatorial Provinces there were, or what the difference was between a Senatorial Province and an Imperial Province.

Unlike being pompous, some things never belong to instinct. The eight times table is a good example, the difference between a nickel and a dime is a better example, and yet I do remember, maybe forty five years ago, an urchin aboard an endless Greek Ferry trying to persuade me that the larger ten lepta coin was worth more than the smaller twenty five lepta coin. I lacked his guile and entrepreneurial cunning, but the difference between the Hindu-friendly 10 and 25 marked on the respective coins was so much Dutch to him. On that same ferry were two back-packing United States Boys, who moaned like hell when at our destination there was a long walk to a waiting taxi. My Greek Urchin friend knew the short cut and wanted to introduce my bus-fare to his sister, never been sure why. Oddly enough in the past thirty two years I have been asked on more than one occasion, "Do you have Television in England?" Nor has assimilating into anyone's Roman Mould/Mold ever been comfortable. On the bright side, more recently I have learned when referencing vehicle tires to emphasize "Tar," which in my view is satisfactory progress.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Promotion

Your correspondent has been promoted to Interim Primary Care Giver for two serial killers. A two week posting. It's a big responsibility that includes a scheduled flea treatment, which for those unfamiliar with this particular care giving procedure looks straight forward but can often result in serious injury and the possibility of Cat Scratch Fever, the symptoms of which include headache, chills, muscular pains, joint pains, arthritis, backache, and abdominal pain.

 And there's something about swollen lymph nodes, whatever they may be, as well as malaise, lethargy, indefinable bumpiness of the skin and general all around exhaustion. On reflection it's entirely possible I've been suffering from Cat Scratch Fever for some years now but with true grit and determination I've just been carrying on in an incredibly brave kind of way. But perhaps more important, if I was God, I'd strike down medical dictionaries, consign them to the fires of hell.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Nests and Stuff

Yellow Chat sighting, he looks fit and well, his eyebrows magnificent, and damn right he's ready for his high noon performance. Our Mockingbird pair are intensely in love, when he's not following her around and cooing in a sometimes sickly way he's doing his best to locate nest sites, I guess in the vernacular "they look cute together." Tree Swallows are debating the merits of a relocated nest box. Cowbirds have found the Robin nest. A Phoebe, bright in dark places, has eggs to brood, she's stubborn as a rock in the rafters which Barn Swallows once owned.

There's a whole thing with Matron Turkeys wandering the hay field hunting down their nest site so they can lay in plenty of time to contribute their eggs and sometimes themselves to hay making, their nestlings to the diet of Barred Owls or play-toys for a cat. I could go on about the Goldfinch dressed in his best yellow, the blues of the Boy Bluebirds, the flick of a Least Flycatcher's tail, the folly of Doves in the barn, and the white feather from what has to be a Barn Owl, but that would be soppy, it would be wandering lonely as a supercilious cloud, a host of golden Daffodils, when yes indeed I belong to this.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Fit to Print

John Walking Stewart once decided to leave London following a pamphlet he'd written on the subject of a future queen. If I recall he'd taken a position on the future King of England's choice of wife and what with one thing and another his pamphlet had raised a suspicion in the authorities that Stewart could well have been a dangerous radical, well worth keeping an eye on. In those days pamphlet writing was more like an opinion page in a newspaper or on electronic devices where this or that pompous ass gets paid or volunteers to interpret the news of the day for those of us who might be unable or are unwilling to form an opinion of our own. Generally in those days pamphleteers had to pay the costs of printing their pamphlets. Over time the more recognizable newspapers emerged from bright sparks in the printing business who had decided to make their fortune by combining advertizing, pamphleteering and actual news, all of it wrapped around the more censorious instincts of the authorities into a source of constant entertainment as well as a political weapon.

In those days too, an English King's choice of life mate was more about Genetics, European Politics and Religion than it was about glass slippers and swooning. Stewart wasn't big on the existence of God or monarchies yet he found it impossible to remain silent on the revelation that a future king of England had secretly married a Roman Catholic widow. It was marriage declared legitimate by the Pope but the line of succession laws for the English Royals declared that anyone marrying a Catholic couldn't be king. The marriage was finally declared invalid because apparently George III, who was by then totally insane, hadn't given permission. In the end, so that he could be King, George III's eldest son married a solid, properly born daughter of a German Duke.  If I recall, after being followed around by agents of the state, Stewart decided to get out of town, visit Lapland for a couple of years until the whole thing blew over.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spelling

Not that it matters any longer, but a Council is deliberative body that discusses then decides stuff, a Counsel is a source of advice and a Consul is a nation's representative. The congress is supposed to be a Council. Robert Swan Mueller III is a Counsel. And Japan has a Consul in Nashville. One way to remember it goes this way: if you want advice and a broader opinion you don't just make it up as you go along, you consult a counsel, if you want to quarrel and get grumpy you go to a Council and if you want a visa to visit a foreign land you go to a Consul.

 The other thing to recall is that your correspondent is an appalling speller. Grey, Gray, traveler, traveller, whether, weather, seal, ceil, and it just goes on into the wild blue yonder of i before e except after c and whole bunch of things that have been forced upon us by those obsessed by precision in the use of a shared written language. And then there's the idea that not being able to spell is symptomatic of careless, ill discipline mental habits characteristic of those in our number who might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer. Oddly in the arena of Counsels and Consuls precision is advantageous. But when it comes to Councils it's more like a blood sport where pretty much anything goes.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Olden Days

Like so many things I can't remember with any kind of clarity where I might have been in the year 1974, let alone what I might have been doing on August 9th of that year when President Nixon did the sensible thing, put his country out of its misery, he resigned, disappeared into a comfortable retirement, leaving a whole bunch of people to face jail time.  After much thought, I suspect that in 1974 I could have been doing shift work for Parcel Department of the Royal Mail which was located on the west end of the City of Cardiff in South Wales. It's also possible that on August 9th of that year I was on the night shift, working the dock, which was a nice job because you could smoke cigarettes out there.

We were a fairly loose leaf collective, none of us had qualified for the prized role of door to door mail delivery and had been shunted into the recently automated Parcel Department where we essentially just put parcels into mail sacks. Our only important skill was tying the correct label onto the correct mail bag. Those of us who had also failed to master labeling were consigned to the dock where we loaded and unloaded well labeled mail bags. What I do remember with intense clarity, out there in the fresh air, an older dock worker suddenly stopped and said, "Listen." And we all listened to a distant Nightingale serenade a warm night until our supervisor turned up.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Signs of Spring

Interesting frost on an icy breeze this morning and a Boy Humming Bird sighting. Could be a rogue Humming Bird, of course. One that's gone completely to the banana and is drifting through a life dedicated to one day maybe nesting on Baffin Island. Possibly has a family line which for generations has nested in a suburb of Montreal, and he's just very anxious to catch up on the gossip. And there's always a chance he might actually know what he's doing.

Me, as someone who was once viciously harassed by a swarm of young Humming Birds while I was doing the right thing by making pectin free jam, I'm not that fond of them. Close-up they have a very sharp pointed beak and a crazed look in their killer instinct eyes, kind of like a giant Mosquito. No doubt about it their species has been around much longer than the species I have the misfortune to belong to, so they've got that sort of wisdom going for them.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Local Gossip

There'll be no Peaches this summer, their blossoms have gone to the cold. Odds are against the Asian Pear. There's a slight chance of a few Soft Pears if the Fox Squirrel doesn't get them first. The Potato are struggling. But the first Compost Pile of the year has achieved 80 Fahrenheit and rising, which is exciting because in the morning, following tonight's frost, I'll be able to jiggle the pile's surface a little, see steam and maybe just perch on top of it for a bit.

Meanwhile I have given consideration to selling my soul to the devil in exchange for an Asparagus Bed in which weeds do not grow. There's a weed in the Asparagus that I've not seen for years, it's what some call Nursery Bane, my own name for it sounds like waking up in the morning to discover your left hand is missing. I've declared Fake News on the Artist's suggestion that these weeds come from the Compost Piles, it's far too obvious to me they arrived in the toe nails of Voles.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Mole

The main problem with Moles is that a person rarely gets to see one. They lurk around under the ground, they rip through carefully prepared earth, wreack havoc with the more tender roots, they devour our comrades the worms, they wreck the appearance of the short grass, and every now and then a gardener spots a little tickle in the corner of an eye and you know deep down in your soul there's a Mole moving through the ground, polishing the walls of its tunnel.

Some might come up with something like "how cute," then go on to invest time in attempting to understand the Mole, it's habits, it's life style and its life cycle. Others just see blood, they grab the shovel and proceed to beat the ground as though suddenly possessed by demons. Mostly the results of such a blood thirsty reaction is considerable damage to something like a neatly planted row of Chard. But sometimes there's a victim, it's about the size of a slipper, it has huge paws, a friendly snout, a little tail and very, very soft fur.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cyrus

Old Testament Christians have discovered purpose in the idea of being persecuted by wishy-washy liberals. We've enslaved them apparently and have dedicated ourselves to making their lives miserable by doing things like insisting they put two boys on a wedding cake, our left wing media biased and as a result they are keenly anticipating a return to the promised land. You jest? I hear the call. Not at all! It's all in the more confusing parts of Bible, Daniel and books like that. Goes back to about 500BC when the Babylonians enslaved the Israelites and being a particularly unpleasant variety of Pagan the Babylonians took great delight in raising Jerusalem to the ground, enslaving the Israelites and doing dreadful things like trying to persuade them to give up on their One True God or face cruel tortures, fiery furnaces, cross dressing and throwing the stubborn to hungry meat eating wild animals was a Babylonian favorite.

Then a King of Persia, which oddly enough is Iran today, a man called Cyrus defeated a man called Belshazzar who was the vile King of Babylon. Worth noting that both Cyrus and Belshazzar were high order Pagans, we're talking harem owning, throwing to the lions type Pagans who probably never brushed their own teeth or cut their own toe nails. But Cyrus had made a deal with the Israelites and after vanquishing Babylon Cyrus kept his promise and he returned the Israelites to their Jerusalem and to their promised land. It might sound nuts, but the thing is this, in the Old Testament Christian mind we wishy-washy Liberals with our free wheeling and sometimes tolerant ways are kind of like Belshazzar and his Babylonians. The Pagan hero Cyrus and Persian horde, no matter their faults, are kind of like Donald Trump and his Republican party. Where the Old Testament Non-Beatitude reading Christian promised land of milk and honey might be, remains a mystery, but our President and his Republican Party can do no wrong in their eyes.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Brands of Comfort

It's not what I'd call snow falling from the sky, it's far too heavy to float or dance around in a very chilly breeze, which gives these April showers an ice foam and hail quality that quickly reminds a person of his temporal nature and of how fundamentally unsuited he is to an earthly existence. So it's no wonder a mind sometimes looks beyond the heavens for solace and finds Planet X which following its collision with earth in a couple of days times offers the pure a guarantee of rapture, an eternity of unutterable monotony.

You'd think that in times of uncertainty a gardener would put his slippers on, cuddle up to the teapot and develop the fatalistic attitudes necessary for calm. But no. What happens is that the mind begins to take comfort from theories which in a reasonable world would seem totally absurd. I'm pretty convinced that had I not insisted on putting the Cabbage out early the Strawberry wouldn't have been so tempted to produce a profusion of bloom in plenty of time for the hard freeze tonight.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Peanuts and Turtles

With 29 weeks to the midterm elections this November, and some of us are finding it very difficult to maintain a sense of reasonableness in the face of our Governor's recent and frequent statements on the subject of our fine state school teachers who are in the process of setting an excellent example for us all, including the children. Sadly it's a whole year and 29 weeks before what's called the Kentucky Gubernatorial Election in the November of next year. Nor does name calling add much more to civil discourse, it's about as as facile as the apology of thoughts and prayers or a charitable donation.

However, when I first came to the United States I'd never actually concentrated on the word "Gubernatorial." I just assumed that the word "Gubernatorial" was some how related to "Goober," sometimes "Guber." Of its meanings the name "Goober" has an origin in the Bantu for peanut, in the same way that the name "Cooter" has an origin in the Mandigo word for turtle. A bit of a stretch perhaps but in our governor we're looking at an out of control hybrid, a sort of Yahweh of Peanut/McConnell. They are who they are I guess.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallows arrived just in time for the rain. And it does seem that Tree Swallows always arrive just in time for a period of extended rain followed by a chill and a little frost that does nothing for anyone's flight feathers. Have to think that in the community of Tree Swallows there's a classic "there is no alternative" philosophy of mind. And you have to think some times that Tree Swallows have at least something in common with the us. Looks pretty, looks easy, warm enough for insects to swarm and then whoops-a-daisy it's World War I all over again.

The other thing Tree Swallows have in common with some of us is their twitter habit. They'll sit on the electric line and tweet up a storm, it's more of a clicking sound, but very expressive and usually addressed at blaming no one in particular. Mockingbirds wisely find it irritating and I always reckon this Tree Swallow tirade is addressed directly at me, a sure sign I should probably get out and about a little more. More sobering perhaps is the possibility that Artificial Intelligence if it's to succeed in emulating us needs flesh and bone otherwise it's without purpose.

Friday, April 13, 2018

New Cracy

"....for the Benefit of knaves at the cost of fools."  Yes indeed! My own preference in the area of morality is the line from Genesis which basically suggests, "For Esau was an hairy man, but I am an smooth man." And yet you got to love the wonderful word Katistocracy as used by the former CIA boss John O. Brennan, in of all things a tweet, "Your Katistocracy is collapsing after its lamentable journey." Call him the Samuel Johnson of the secret services, and wait around for "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Mind you, I'm with Lemuel Caution on this one. "Slimeball," says it all.

 I imagine in the CIA, cracies of all kinds are regularly discussed and joked about, probably a long list of them have to be memorized otherwise you're considered a moron, but I had to look up Katistocracy. I assumed it had purring animal connotations, Lions, Hyena, Bears, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, that sort of thing. I was wrong. The "kati" part of the word comes from the Greek for the very worst, totally useless, fit only to be thrown away. The "cracy" part comes from the Greek word for style of rule. Over the years those more faint hearted in our number have yearned for a return to an Arthurian wet dream of Aristocracy and they have questioned the capacity of Democracy to avoid becoming a Katistocracy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New Leaf

Your correspondent may well have spent much of the past four months complaining about the appalling weather, the political circumstance, his declining capacities, his teeth, his struggle to eat lunch without becoming psychotic, his rejection of Saint Patrick as the go to patron saint for Potato, but no longer. A bright new golden leaf is to be turned.

It's a simple, familiar story of a non-smoking, elderly neighbor who decided he'd gained weight as a result of giving up on his annual Tobacco crop. This year the neighbor is growing Tobacco, and your correspondent will be serving as apprentice. Got the sticks, thousands of them, ground is ploughed, loan of a carousel planter secured, seedlings arrive around May 20th.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Cryptography

Warren Buffet might well be looking at Bitcoins. Me, I have come to the conclusion that I'm just too far gone to grasp them much beyond an understanding that they offer an attempt to introduce an entirely digital alternative to the established means of exchange. A brave new frontier, heavily reliant upon the electric supply and a functioning internet, or Blind Faith as we call it round here.

I do know that during the times of the Roman Empire, Emperors who were a little short on cash often chose to mint  new coins. And on one occasion an Emperor minted so many new coins that the means of exchange became worthless and much of the Empire was reduced to bartering. So we've got that to look forward to. Two fresh Eggs for a can of Tomato.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Afternoon

I've never liked Sunday afternoons. Sunday mornings aren't too bad but Sunday afternoons are empty, restless places, with absolutely nothing going for them. Nor does the internet work very well on Sunday afternoons, so a person is down to reading a book if they wish to escape.

Fortunately I have been able to download Peter Cheyney's entire Dark Series. It's the Second World War, and Cheyney's hero is hunting down spies, leering at female night club singers and playing very loose with the rules so that the novelist might find ever more endearing descriptions of cigarette smoking. It's a feast.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Big Chill

Frigid outside, it's wet with wind, hell on the gloves, it feels like minus 20 Fahrenheit, a Naraka not even the Tibetans can imagine. Currently the whole business of blanketing delicate little dears with row cloth is a subject and not a target, but if it gets any colder all of us will become witnesses to a night of biting frost that will live in infamy.

And of course tomorrow there will be wailing, gnashing, the whole panoply of regret, self recrimination followed by a re-education program that will include the understanding that winter doesn't really end until something like the end of May. Last time we had a beginning of April like this there was drought through the Fall. The notebook's faded and coffee stained but that year looks like 2007, or 2005, I think.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tidings

Very important to retain a positive attitude, and I'll tell you why. Imagine if you will, something like a forecast for wind, rain, freezing rain, snow followed by rain, followed by temperatures in the lower twenties, followed by a dentist appointment. And all this in the first week of April.

It's a dire and terrible image, probably totally fanciful, the act of a perverse imagination, can't possibly be true, clearly the work of a Russian Bot hell bent on creating a moral panic, I know. But does no good to find a bed to hide under, curl up, enter the fetal position and utter the occasional primal scream.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Travel as Therapy

Took the big road yesterday toward that part of the world where the fences are all about wood and weedeaters, none of this elegant wire strand with honeysuckle and briar. Up there it's an anal esthetic that produces a dull landscape with few redeeming features. It's where fields are mowed regularly so that over priced Horses do whatever over priced Horses do to earn their keep. Must say you have to admire the French, at least they see nothing wrong with eating horses.

 Otherwise it was sunny day with a very cold wind, which was spent mostly amongst fast drivers, none of whom waved and most of whom seemed attached to their mobile telephones. All I can say it's just as well the Artist was the motive force behind the adventure, the theory being that a Shut-In should occasionally be prized away from the every day. Call it a new age electric shock therapy. My reward three small jars of incredibly over priced Marmite.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Menace of Bald Eagles

As a Secondary Caregiver for two small somewhat self centered domestic felines I am not in the least excited by the reappearance of the local Bald Eagle.  Fortunately Bald Eagle are an idle creature, they'd rather steal food from others than actually go to the effort of risking feather damage by hunting it down themselves. But there's always the chance of an anomalous behavior from them. Good mind to nip down to the local merchant, purchase an overstocked Remington AR 15 and a secondhand camouflage jacket with which to patrol the perimeters. Thank God the Nearctic Golden Eagle is way up in the north, north. I claim Fake News on the heart stopping suggestion they winter in the top part of Indiana. Golden Eagle have been known to take Lambs and Foxes.

Does strike me that an AR 15 might not be the best weapon to make short work of a Bald Eagle. It has excellent range, but a moving target that jumps out of nowhere and flies with some agility requires something like an Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon with radar fire control. Old fashioned, I know, but Sadly such a venerable anti aircraft gun needs a team of well trained and like minded souls, otherwise there's a great deal of collateral damage, and every time you pull the trigger, dispatch a burst of 20 odd shells, you've spent around a hundred dollars with no guarantee of a bulls eye. It's a cost factor that can really only be made up by selling tickets, and in this wimpy age of instant gratification, fast food and online shopping not sure that I'd sell many.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Potato Angst

Saint Patrick might not be the go to Saint for Irish Potato planting. He was what's called a Roman-British Christian.  His dates are the Fifth Century, which is somewhere between 400 AD to 500 AD. He probably knew spoken Latin and his first visit to the Emerald Isle was as a result of being kidnapped by pirates, sold to an Irish Farmer who set him to work in the fields. He escaped, somehow he made his way back to the British Island and having fallen madly in love with an Irish Lass during his captivity he determined to mend his broken heart by returning to Ireland. Quite how he did it, no one knows, but he got funding from Rome on the understanding that he'd lead a mission to convert the Irish Celts. In those days Boy Saints were allowed to do things like get married and stuff. Those of us who are alive today know that Europe had to wait for around a thousand years before the first Potato arrived from the New World. In short your gardener is beginning to wonder whether his Potato crop has drowned.

Potato plants in these parts do not struggle against the Deer. One nibble of a Potato leaf and that's it for  Deer. But at this time of year there is nothing a Deer likes better than to find a neatly dug and raked patch of unfenced ground to stomp around on. It must have something to do with foot-care. But if that piece of ground has shallow Potato trenches waiting patiently for signs of something like a Potato crop, Deer tend to consider it necessary to walk up and down in those shallow trenches, churning up the mud in a manner that an emissary from Rome would consider high end barbaric behavior that was totally beyond redemption. There'd be a Jihad or an Edict and images of Deer would be removed from stain glass windows. All this requires a total reappraisal of Potato planting time, and none of this pathetic clinging to "well it's Saint Patrick's Day, aren't I clever."  Even less exciting is local lore which declares that if it rains on April 1st, you got seventeen wet days in the month of April. Guess what? It rained yesterday.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hedges

Quite a confluence. A Savior rising from the dead and April 1st. In the interest of harmony and as a contribution to the great oneness I'll make no joke about the Easter Bunny summing a conjoining of themes, nor will I mention an origin of April Fools Day which had to do with a chance to laugh at those in the Middle Ages who stubbornly continued to celebrate the new year between March 25th and the first day of April, despite reprimands from the King of France to get with the January 1st program and jolly well enjoy it or suffer the consequences. Mind you beginning the year at the end of March does make great sense to me which puts me firmly on the side of the heathen.

 Then there's hedging. One of the true mysteries of life is a fast growing evergreen plant that achieves noble stature within a few brief years, totally blocks out the neighbors, lasts for eternity, never needs to be trimmed and is immune to all pests. Once upon a time that plant was called Leyland Cypress, which in my life time is a plant that's been a great source of employment, of the millions planted I think I might have been paid to remove several hundred. More recently the new miracle hedge is a cross between an Arborvitae of Japanese origin and a Red Cedar. It's called Thuja Green Giant. No one knows quite how tall they grow, or how they manage through the intense stress of aging because they've only been in existence for around forty years. The saplings of Thuja Green Giant we planted here, twelve or so years ago, are getting on for thirty foot and are very prone to Bagworm.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Third Eye

I didn't know that Lizards have a third eye. It's on the top of their head. It doesn't look like an eye in the traditional sense, but it's an area of skin that contains photoreceptive neurons, and these neurons turn light into signals that cause the Lizard to produce hormones, and some argue enable a Lizard to navigate using the sun with a degree of accuracy, something Salamanders do. And indeed in many of the oldest fossil vertebrates, or creature with spine, there's actually a socket in the skull that may well have held a functional third eye that had a lens and everything.

I mention this because while addressing the Compost Piles I came across a Lizard that was well asleep and I reckoned it was time to make a better effort to identify the correct zoological style title given to this species of Lizard which I have called the Foucault Lizard for getting on maybe fifteen years. The name I gave it had something to do with this particular Lizards general Bolshevik attitude toward just about anything that looked like it was going to turn a Compost Pile. Then when you find out Lizards have third eye you kind of get sidetracked. No idea what the Foucault Lizard's more recognizable name might be.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Saints and stuff

Very possible the Kitten is an Ingraham-esque bubble dweller. I say this as one who falls very low on the totem pole, down there with the dust bunnies, school children, socks and shoelaces. Surely not! I hear the call. Well imagine yourself settling to sleep, the light is out, the pillow fluffed, the bedding arranged and as the remaining brain cell counts the last desperate Sheep there's a rush from the doorway that bounds onto the bed and proceeds to poke you in the face with a dew drenched and muddy paw.  Even in Holy Week it's an unnecessary and untoward behavior. Nor is there the remotest chance that a virtuous or forgiving reaction from me to this sort of dead of night Attila the Hun antic could ever be rewarded with a chocolate egg. A partially dissected and uncooked vole more likely.

It was Dewi Sant, the diminutive preacher, a forks over knives gentle vegetarian and Saint to the Welsh, who reminded us that it was the little things that count. And by little I don't think he meant the difference in size between an adult Leopard and an adult short haired domestic cat. He was thinking more in terms of being polite to each other, saying please and thank you, hope your foot's better, have a nice day or whatever. That sort of oil that enables a civility so crucial to a cohesive response to impasse. But I guess somewhere in the arena of domestic pets there's an equivalence to Likes on Facebook, and in some fifth dimension in which the Kitten has her second existence there's a You Tube channel with thousands of followers that must be satisfied so the Kitten might hold her ears and tail up high. Have to admit I'd be interested in tuning in to see what else she gets up to.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Time of Year

So what happened to March? Excellent question, and the answer could be complicated. Awash in vague understandings of circles, straight lines, away from Heidegger toward the French Existentialist, who are less daunted by scandal, all this in association with a yearning to become a Scottish Empiricist, that classic stand aside and watch, all of it conjoined with what begins to feel like constant visits to the dentist. Or it could be a simple question of stepping outside and watching the beginning of a spring-time that's no more and no less innocent than all the other spring-times since that fateful collision between earth and what eventually became our moon. Nor does endless rain, wet, chill and flood contribute to balance.

It's kind of no wonder members of our species sometimes retreat into the simple visions, find peace in the bloom of a Dandelion without once thinking about a cloud of Dandelion seeds finding a permanent home in Vegetable Garden paths. And from there look at the Jump Up Plantains, happy as Larks, that briefly inspire then smother the turf. Remember the scourge of Johnson Grass. Stare wistfully at what remains of the Compost Piles. It's a retreat into Hume, the empiricist, that requires a capacity to marvel at the Bees dodging raindrops on the frost scorched Peach Blossom without wondering where the antihistamine pills are.  On the bright side your correspondent has achieved a relationship with lunch. Instead of feeling like the angel of death afterwards, he is able to potter in a vaguely normal manner, which theoretically is nice.