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.