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Friday, March 24, 2017

Backyard Evolution

Geo.: Well, hello. What have we here?
Voice from overhead: A field cat perfecting his skulk.

Geo.: Who said that, and how do you know?

Voice: Look up here in the plum tree. I am a dove and doves know everything.

Geo.:  Everything?

Dove.: Everything.
Geo.: What then, is the object of Fieldcat perfecting its skulk? What is the perfect skulk?

Dove: Invisibility, of course.  Other creatures pursue it by different disciplines. Take our friend, Shed-cat, for instance...

Geo.: Shedcat? Where?

Dove: Precisely:
Dove: Shed-cat renders himself invisible by falling perfectly asleep on top of the shed. He is a great artist and ranks among the least conspicuous things in the universe.

Geo.: But what of you, Dove? How do you compare with other birds?

Dove: Consider Bluejay in the crepe myrtle...
Dove: His colors, stance and voice are are assertive --he is conspicuous. We doves have muted voices, calm colors and very good posture. On those points alone, we cannot be compared --and, of course, unlike other birds, we doves know everything.

Geo.: And humans?

Dove: Oh, good point! You humans know everything else. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Enigma of Youth

Let's begin with the premise that youth, while definitely enigmatic, is not a puzzle to be solved but a mystery to be experienced. Norma has taken a photo of the graduating dandelion class of 2017. They are in their youth and have accomplished their curriculum --a few even have their heads still on. This reminds me of my own 12th grade commencement.

Winds blew hard in my youth and many of us, like dandelions, were left without any heads, but we were resilient --as youths should be-- and our heads mostly grew back.

In youth we are clumsy and limber. I wore glasses and once accidentally stepped on them while they were still on my head. Here is a typical youth:

As Norma's camera gets closer, you can see its thoughts. Here are the thoughts of youth:
These thoughts come loose easily and spread by anemochory. This happens because of wind. Wind arrives and all thoughts fly away. Youth's friends point and laugh.

"Wind!", they say. Youth must grow a whole new head.

During this process of routine recapitation, youths are not so much driven to adulthood as confused into it. They might shout things like this:
   "The only substitute for good manners is a large and ruthless military!"
   "How dare you imply my candidate's lies are not true!"
   "I'm going to sea and dive for luffas!"

Then the storm subsides by and by and they remark, "There are many enigmas, many unknowns, and something  really ought to be done about them."

That is when a cooler head prevails and she lists the contents of the coming garden.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Signs and Portents

Here's a quotation I've never used before:
"...what portent can be greater than a pious notary?"

No idea what it means.

It comes from the novel, Romola, by Geo. Eliot --whose real name was Mary, a name I have always been fond of since I knew Mary the horse who never stepped on my head.  Geo. is my name too, so I get to use the quote. Portents weren't strictly considered warnings of calamity when the book was written --as they are now. They could mean a sign of anything wonderous. I will comply with modern usage and look for a wonderful sign.

Here, I will show you wonderful. Norma went out this morning between spring showers and photographed raindrops in her garden. Here is the first, a study of  refraction and reflection on a broccoli  leaf:
It consist of liquid jewels contrived to attract our attention. In fact, you can see a spot of dark in the upper leftmost drop. That is Norma and her lens. It comprised a promise, a portent she pursued to the brussel sprouts, which have rounder, more deeply contoured leaves.  Raindrops ran together there into a sign. A heart.
Nature is the language of the universe. In this instance, it left a sign we associate with love. The heart means the universe wants us to grow, thrive, treat each other --and ourselves-- with compassion.

If you wish to find out what else Eliot wrote on page 16 of  Romola,  her next sentence was "Balaam's ass was nothing to it." This a reference to the Old Testament Book of Numbers (22:21-39), where the ass got to talking coherently but was interrupted by humans who drummed themselves dopey with portentous political paradiddle.

Best to seek subtler signs --even if you don't like brussel sprouts because they look like little heads, and they do, you know.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Modern Problems

My posts have been sparse this past month because of enigmatic modern problems. This essay will address two of them.  I opened up our bathroom medicine cabinet recently and decided it could use some updating.
Ok, this picture isn't of the medicine cabinet  --it's a tool drawer in the barn-- but it's what Norma had and it's close enough. What I wanted was an oxygen concentrator so I could take trips to higher elevations. An oxygen concentrator is a machine that draws ambient air and expels nearly pure oxygen for aging wheezers like me. Ambient air consists generally of 20% oxygen, 70% nitrogen. Remaining 10% is mainly gasses produced by decaying uraninites and, in election years, blatherskites. Problem is, I've been called back into the doctor's office three times because they hadn't given me the full test this device requires for insurance coverage --sheer repetition has made me jumpy. Each time, there is some new part of the test that I haven't studied for, or they haven't. But I digress.

Point is, as we all sometimes must, I bowed to absurdity and, as I shut the mirrored medicine cabinet door, found my reflection had disappeared. 

"Not again!" I moaned.

Identity theft is a horrible thing.Same thing happened to me exactly four years ago and I recognized the symptoms. I returned home from my doctor's 3rd exam on Friday to receive a letter from Verizon thanking me for opening a cell phone account in Modesto --a city 75 miles south of here-- which I had not done.  I called Verizon first, established myself, and they cancelled the account even though they lost a cell phone --yes they do have a fraud dept. because it's that common.  That left my problem.

Oh lordy, I thought, I got Modern Problems!

Somebody made the purchase with my SSN and name AND address. I contacted my credit card co., all three credit monitoring agencies, visited the Sheriff's  Office to start a case file, then added passwords to any accounts that didn't already have them from my previous frolic with this outrage.

My reflection in the mirror is returning, which is promising.  I have so far narrowly escaped the ailment of lost identity known, in medical parlance, as Draculitis -- a brainal dysfunction and absence of mirrored reflection that causes sufferers to roam the night asking, "Is my hair all right?" I'd hate to have to go back to my doctor this week with that.

From what I learned at the Sheriff's Office, Medicare might have to cover it by and by.

This has been a public service announcement.