Wednesday, June 30, 2010


So I am a little behind but I just heard this song for the first time today. Like the song, love the string instrumental intro, hate the fact that I can't figure how to post a clickable link on this blog.

Well, if you are willing to copy and paste, you are in for a treat.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A man is a facade ...

I put on a clean shirt, clean pants and a tie every day. I scrape off the beard that insists on trying to grow anew each morning. I behave in a serious, respectable, responsible manner. I project dignity, gravitas and maturity -- or at least make an effort.

It's all a sham.

I am just a little boy trapped in this overgrown man-shell, who would happily spend the day examining ant hills and splashing in puddles if I could.

And I am just a teenager still riding the raging stallion of passions that will dog me,probably, until the day I die. I cherish the gold band upon my left hand and my beautiful Beloved is and always will be my Goddess, She and no other. But I would be a liar if I were to say that there is no other beauty in the world and even if there were, the presence of such beauty would have no effect upon me.

A visitor came to my office today -- like my Sweetie, a trim, brunnette Lady with a delightful smile. She wanted to talk about a computer system that we have installed. I kept a professional air, forced myself to look away when She leaned over the desk, refrained from drooling -- in short, struggled mightily in a manner that I certainly would not have, in the presence of some aging, balding man.

Why is it so hard in such a situation to even make eye contact?

Ah, I am pathetic. All men are pathetic. Marionettes dangling from invisible strings. Monkeys nicely dressed up to mingle with the crowd.

Do You Women just laugh at us amongst Yourselves?


Oh, life is an epic opportunity!

For a few short years, we sojourn upon this planet and then continue on, I hope, to even bigger and better things.

To every human being belongs the sunrise and the sunset, rain upon your face and the pleasure of food upon your tongue, however meagre your daily allowance may be. Some cannot see or hear or walk but still, there are joys to be found in your life -- no living being is without the gift of any senses at all.

To all of us belong hands or the equivalent tools, and a brain, whether that of a genius or just an ordinary Joe, or even a brain that has certain limitations -- still, we all have the tools to make our world a little better.

I wake up each morning with a list of things to do of which only a fraction will get done. Yet I persist. There are books I must read, music to experience, friendships to strengthen, new foods to taste, thoughts I must write down, places I have not yet put my feet.

There are times when I lay my head down on my pillow at night so tired that I immediately go to sleep -- other times when my mind is still racing with ideas and it takes a good,long time for the Sandman to conquer me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Trekking through time

Like old-fashioned carnival bumper-cars, or like lovers swept up in passion only to bitterly break apart, the pieces of our world have come together, separated and come together again.

I know well the Appalachian Mountains that span my country's eastern edge and continue into Canada. A continental collision eons ago thrust them up. But not until recently did I stop to think about the tectonic partner, the spurned spouse in this titanic clash.

It is, of course, Europe. And so, it makes geological sense that a range of mountains spans western Europe, north to south, from Scotland all the way through Spain and even into Morocco, Africa. They are the trans-Atlantic reflection of the American Appalachians -- the eastern consequence of the crash.

Now I read that some enthusiastic folk are planning to expand one of our country's great ideas, the Appalachian Trail, across the Atlantic and down the spine of those European mountains.

Very neat.

Friday, June 25, 2010

India on the corner

I stopped by a place in town yesterday called Taj Mahal.

Yes, I'm very much still in Virginia, USA. This was a grocery store, not the overly-famous masoleum from all the postcards. I wonder if it irritates Indians to have that rather johnny-come-lately building, lovely as it is, be all that most people picture when they think India.

When I stepped inside, a tall man in a turban strode towards me, a Sikh, I am sure. A wave of fragrant spices filled my senses. I told him I had come for chana flour. He swiftly took me to its place of honor upon the shelf.

How I longed to linger, to pick up the boxes and bags of mysterious things that were emanating these delicious odors, and to read the labels and just wander around. But as usual, I was due home and could not.

As I cradled the bag of chana flour in my hands, for a moment I listened to the chatter in Hindi of the other customers, wishing as I so often have for the superpower of understanding every world language.

The chana helped me complete a delicious recipe for deep-fried string beans. As I sifted together cumin, carom, ginger and the other ingredients, home in my own kitchen that night, the sweet, spicy fragrances filled the air and gave me a peek into the pleasures of that faraway place.

Quote of the day

"I wouldn't exactly call you a liar honey but oh, how you prevaricate!"

-- Line from some old '40s song.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sharing our space

It hurts my heart every time I pass the dried-up remains of a certain turtle, on the shoulder of a certain stretch of I-95 that I traverse daily on my way home.

It takes a long time for a turtle to grow to large size. I wonder how long this one had lived before it met its demise on this unforgiving freeway. I wonder, too, if its ill-fated decision to try to cross the freeway was motivated by the recent obliteration of the adjacent forest to create yet another useless new development to put money in somebody's pocket.

I read a bittersweet column today by a resident of my city, offering ways that we can -- having stolen so much from nature -- give a little back. Poignant was her depiction of the annihilation of a large meadow near her home where killdeer birds once nested. It is now eye-sore sprawl and roadways.

We have claimed so much of the earth as our own -- cleared it, paved it, spread buildings across it. We never consult the previous occupants, whether plant or beast, as to their opinions in the matter. In some cases, we don't even regard the feelings of the human occupants. Ask any Native American, or the Bikini islanders, or the descendants of the Appalachian mountain folk driven out by 20th-century government decree, or the victims of that pernicious evil called "eminent domain."

Can we ever say enough is enough? Can we please just assess what we already claim as ours and clean it up and deal with it more efficiently? Can we accept as a fait accompli what we have done in the past and have the decency to wreak no more misery upon our beleagured world?

Can we end our addiction to destruction,and once and for all declare that what little we have left in a natural state should stay that way? There are thousands, perhaps millions of acres of so-called brownfields, homes standing empty, poorly planned industrial complexes. Those are ours. Let's clean them up and make no more.

If I ruled the world, the bulldozers would grow cobwebs and rust away, damn them all! No bloated developer would ever again waddle onto the edge of a woodland with his golden shovel and his Jabba-the-Hutt grin, announcing yet another gas station to go up where birds once sang, unless and until we had fixed the messes we have already made.

And even then, the lousy ogre would have to move every single plant on the site to another location at his own expense, even if he had to get down on his hands and knees with a trowel to do it. And if a single birdnest or rabbit burrow were found it's sorry Charlie, take your blueprints and stick em where the sun don't shine.

My kind of yum!

How about a two-egg, venison, feta cheese, tomato, hot pepper, cumin and paprika omelette for breakfast?

Won't find that at Denny's.

Nice way to start my morning.

A good day to all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


6 a.m. Up, not willingly.
Sweetie gets the bathroom first, a Lady's perogative. I check my Facebook account. Get annoyed because I am still blocked from adding friends because I have "added too many too fast," which according to the gods of Facebook, constitutes abuse.

6:30: Bathroom is mine. The usual.

6:45: Out and have a little breakfast of toast with homemade fig jam. Forget until an hour later and far away when I am writing this post that we have orange juice in the fridge, too. Put eggs on to boil for our lunches.

Give the cockatiel her breakfast and medicine -- flaxseed oil and powder for her achy little old joints. Listen to the weatherman gloat that the temperature could reach 101 degrees this week and it will most likely never, ever, rain again here.

Venture outside into the already murderous heat and put the sprinkler on the potatoes. Wonder for the 4,359th time why I am still using the busted-up old plastic sprinkler that requires being held in place with a stick and a rock and never remember to get a new one.

7 a.m. Help my Beloved with a few things that She needs done. Trek outside again to move the sprinkler onto the okra. Curse the fig tree for still being covered with hard green fruit that is determined never to ripen. Feebly attempt to uproot some tenacious wire grass that is thriving amidst the wilted flowers.

7:30: Fifteen minutes late leaving for work. Contemplate for the 4,359th time that I ought to start getting up a half-hour earlier. Reject the notion for the 4,359th time.

Sink into the blissful air conditioning of my car and immerse myself in a Dvorak violin concerto performed by Sarah Chang. Listen to the announcer inform me that 19th century violinists found this piece too difficult. Think to myself, they never asked a Woman. You want something difficult or impossible to be done, and done well -- ask a Woman to do it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Please stand still sir, so that I may more easily choke you. Much obliged.

Civilization is built upon the premise that harmony can be created by suppressing the urge we feel to squeeze the throats and punch the faces of the incredibly annoying, obtuse people we encounter in our daily activities and leaving the task of punishment to others.

Such a blissful ideal is rarely met. The stupid are rarely punished. That is why people go camping to get away from it all. Or take drugs. Or go insane.

Girl raises thousands for Gulf wildlife

I found this to be an inspiring story -- one person with a good heart can make a difference, no matter Her age:

"Olivia Bouler doesn’t have time for anything else these days except to draw and paint. But that’s OK for the artistic fifth-grader, because everything she does is for the birds.

The Islip, N.Y., girl, who turns 11 on Friday, has raised an estimated $80,000 by sending her sketches and paintings of birds to people who donate to organizations helping with relief efforts in the Gulf of Mexico spill disaster."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eucalyptus in space and time ...

"The ordinarily musty interior smelled of pine and eucalyptus."

-- Julian, Gore Vidal, p. 47.

Eucalyptus: A genus of evergreen timber trees mostly native to Western Australia.

Eucalyptus, interestingly enough, is a Greek word for a tree that no Greek -- nor any other European, unless he were shipwrecked on his way to China -- ever saw before the 18th century.

You see, I may not be the world's expert on Australia but far as I know, Europe knew nothing of the land down under until about that time.

So unless that "mostly" means that some kind of eucalyptus is native to somewhere beyond the land of koala bears and wallabees ...

... or unless "eucalyptus" -- like corn in America -- is an old word that was in use for something else before it became attached to "a genus of evergreen timber trees mostly native to Western Australia..."

... yes, unless that is the case, then celebrated author Mr. Vidal goofed, in hanging eucalyptus boughs in the courtroom of a 4th-Century Roman building.

If so,it is a reminder to the rest of us, just how hard it is to write credible historical fiction. You must know when even the most ordinary objects were invented,such as a pocket watch; what foods they could not have eaten, such as tomato soup in the Middle Ages; and a thousand other sundry details, that, if neglected, will leave annoying know-it-alls such as myself clucking our tongues.

In spite of that, I am enjoying his book on that Roman emperor, Julian, who tried and failed to turn the ship of his state back on a course to the old paganism and away from its devotion to Christianity.

Friday, June 11, 2010

He said his name was ...

He said his name was Fred Raspberry.

I am used to kids that age trying to flash gang signs or cheesy grins when I take their pictures and write down their names as part of my school PR job.

But never has anyone made up a fake name.

I must surely have flinched. But I kept my composure. I said, in a calm, even tone: "That's your name?"

"Yep," he said.

I checked discretely with his teacher a few minutes later.

"The IIIrd," she said. "His name is Fred Raspberry III."


I felt a little guilty for doubting. But I can't be the first person to ever have been caught off guard by his exceedingly unique name.

Hey, if you have a name like that, don't be sensitive about it. Enjoy it. Embrace it. In a world of John Smiths and Jen Jones' -- you, my friend, are Fred Raspberry III. Obviously, Fred 1 and 2 understood that concept.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oak babies

Although I did not have the good sense to take any pictures today, I can happily report that the five native oaks our school children recently planted in a local park are flourishing.

That is in addition to the four pines we planted last year.

I wish these little baby trees all the best. Someday, birds will nest in their branches and squirrels will hoard their nuts and pinecones.

It is a little thing, in the scheme of things -- eight little trees when greedy idiots are obliterating forests many times that size even as I type these words. But a little thing is better than nothing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Evening in the yard

I sat upon the front sidewalk last evening and attacked the mat of weeds that had spread over our flowers since last I was there. We have the usual vegetative villains here that everyone has -- dandelions and crabgrass -- as well as some that may not be as familiar to you, such as a horrible creeping calamity called wiregrass.

A few minutes into my work, I was joined by a small, warty neighbor. A toad emerged from somewhere and sat upon the sidewalk observing me. I addressed him every now and then; he did not reply. Seemed content just to sit there upon his small haunches and watch. I gave him a slight sprinkle with the hose, which he appeared to enjoy.

By now,it was getting dark and the weeds no longer were strangling the flowers but lay in a defeated, wilted heap upon the grass. I got up, satisfied.

My amphibious companion bounced away into the lavender bed and I headed inside.

My kind of evening!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The pen is back ...

I celebrated the completion of a huge work project -- the labors of nearly a month -- by eating lunch out. Chez Taco Bell.

Sometimes when I pull up to the drive-thru of such a place, I think of a column I once read by some delightful old curmudgeon. Never, says the man, does he ever go through the drive through. He stops his car, he goes inside, he talks to people, not a speaker-box and he eats his meal around other people, not in his car.

So today, I did likewise.

My order was about $6. Just for kicks, I calculated the percentage that I paid in taxes. Nearly ten percent. That would be, in Biblical reckoning, a tithing. Tithing belongs to God, not the guv'mint. The implications were disturbing.

How many times a day do we calmly hand over nickels and dimes, nickels and dimes, more nickels and more dimes, to the government,without any thought at all?

"I'm sorry, my son picked up your order by accident," said a Woman approaching the table where I was waiting for my food. "He just put napkins on the tray, he didn't unwrap anything."

I assured Her that I wasn't the least bit bothered. Then I pondered for a while on the society in which I live, where every stranger has now become a disgusting bag of germs in our eyes, where they actually wrap plastic forks in a coating of plastic in a restaurant such as I was in, lest the filthy fingers of strangers brush across them or their breath blow out a blast of baleful bacteria.

It wasn't so long ago that people ate out of communal bowls, shared the same Communion cup at church, even slept double in beds with strangers at roadside inns. Then again, people died young back then.

It is Schumann's 200th birthday today. Great composer. I listened to the melody of his composition for string orchestra and wondered about the precise moment when it entered his head. Was he munching schnitzel in some inn, on a rainy, cold night? Walking the street in spring? Or just sitting quietly in his study contemplating life?

Taco Bell is not celebrating Schumann's birthday. Their PA system is playing Stereo Mc's "Connected."

"If you make sure you're connected
The writing's on the wall
But if your mind's neglected, stumble you might fall
Stumble you might fall, stumble you might fall."

Perhaps Stereo Mc will be remembered in 200 years. Perhaps not.