Thursday, March 1, 2012


Said the Kmart clerk today as my Beloved and I checked out:

"Oh, I wish it was Friday. I hate working."

"I wish I had a job," said the person in line behind us.

"You can have my job," said the clerk.

Is anybody happy?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Beets and bladdernut

Last week, my county historical society offered an unusual challenge: Come in on a certain day, take your pick of ten packets of seeds, pay $5 for the lot of them, then bring back twice the seeds from your crop come harvest-time. These weren't just any seeds, but unusual, heirloom varieties. So I snapped up odd types of beets, peppers, bee balm, basil, radishes, mustard greens, Hungarian blue poppies and fenugreek.

Today I put in the first row of the Bull's Blood beets. It always feels so good to get my hands out in the dirt again.

Later, I planted a handful of bladdernut seeds in the edge of the woods -- a small shrub that I had wild-collected last fall. And spent some time battling the creeping plague of English ivy that is slowly spreading from the west side of the woods below where some fool planted it in his yard, into the section of forest that I like to think of as mine.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Oh, the joy of paragraphs again!

For several months, I battled unsuccessfully to break up my blog posts into readable paragraphs, utterly mystified as to why all my text was showing up as a single block. Today, I have discovered the solution: Under post settings, options, is an option for line breaks to occur after typing enter. Who wouldn't want that as the default? Apparently blogger decided a few months ago that not everyone did.

All is well again.

"Music, like photography, is a way to interpret the places you've been."

-- Richard Olsenius, National Geographic, October 1993.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Barometer of a Nation ... Canada

What is a nation? Is it a place bounded by unseen lines upon a land or the twining path of a river or the sea? Or is it one people, though they be scattered far and wide?

Were suddenly all U.S. citizens to be called home from wherever they live in the world, a flood of millions would pour across the borders. Some would hardly seem American, having been away so long. Some of them would be deeply resentful.

What is a nation? Is it a unity of purpose in spite of differences, like the Roman citizenship that once bound men from Britain to Libya, from Spain to Anatolia?

I enjoy my little hobby of studying the nations of the world, one at a time, month by month. In December, I have been contemplating my great northern neighbor, Canada. Though I have yet to sample a beavertail pastry or learn the words to "O Canada," perhaps what I have studied has been more significant. I have read Canadian Hugh MacLennan's "Barometer Rising." Authored in the 1950's, it is the tale of a terrible tragedy in Halifax during WWI: the collision of two ships in Halifax Harbor, one laden with munitions, that killed hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, and leveled nearly the entire city. MacLennan's tale begins quietly, swelling like a wave upon a darkened sea,finally rising to terrible climax.

May I be forgiven for having learned nothing about this horrible event in my life until now, nothing in school, though I certainly should have.

MacLennan also throughout the book contemplates what it means to be Canadian: Neither a (U.S.) American nor British. But must a Canadian define himself only by what he is not? And what is Canada's destiny in the world? A bridge between its southern neighbor and the Old World, perhaps. He ponders whether Canada would rise to be one of the great nations of the world after Europe exhausted itself in war.

"...Neither a colony nor an independent nation, neither English nor American ... Canada must remain noncommital, until the day she becomes the keystone to hold the world together."

"... This nation undiscovered by the rest of the world and unknown to itself ... this unborn mightiness, this question mark, this future ... for God knew how many millions of mankind."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Australia to create marine reserve

"When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, you understand now why you came this way ..." -- Crosby, Stills and Nash So much of the world I have not seen ... the vast Eurasian steppes; sun-baked Africa; ancient Asia ... and the islands of the Southern Hemisphere. I read today that Australia is proposing to designate nearly 400,000 square miles in the Coral Sea as a marine reserve. Splendid! I may never see it myself but I am happy to know it will be there, a place free of exploitation, full of beauty. Just one more thing to love about the Land Down Under.