Oct 30, 2013

The Gore of the Season to ye, Mate

The Smugleye-on-Lake village zoning inspector dropped by to make sure I wasn't making wind without a permit or something.  New Dog Libby took exception to his manner. One thing led to another.

Oct 29, 2013

Another Willa Cather

Out on the Nebraska plains, not too far from me, an old friend is joining the blog world

Light NEAR the End of the Tunnel

(On the TMR blog roll)

She's  Doris of the life-time team of Doris and Gene (RIP). Together they battled the markets, the weather, and gummint in an effort to create your BBQ back ribs.

She probably wasn't personally as hands-on with the cattle as, say, Jinglebob is. But you can bet your Prius she knows which end of the cow makes a moo and which a splat.

In her spare time she became a rather well-published writer, not to mention acquiring a mother's interest in C-130 war birds.

Drop over and welcome her if you please.


The concrete picnic table on the Utulei beach was ugly and uncomfortable, so uncongenial that it simply had to be a relic of United States Navy rule over  American Samoa. Nevertheless, I began my working days there, in company with island society, Governor Coleman; his indispensable sidekick and my best island friend, Pete Fanene (RIP);  a few traditional chiefs; and assorted bureaucrats, hangers-on and suck-ups of high station and low.  The caste system notwithstanding, traditional Polynesia presents itself as a rather egalitarian community.

Gossip circulated. Hangovers were nursed with canned papaya juice and styrofoam cups of lukewarm Nescafe. The governor would hint at what he was thinking about today. His listeners often enough responded with what he should be thinking about when he eases himself into the executive chair behind his acre of desk.

Further description is unnecessary for the reader familiar with the regular morning coffee-shop klatch in every small town and city neighborhood in America. Only the local color differed, palm trees instead of utility poles, coral sand under foot rather than potholed tar, and nearly all the men wearing skirts.


The main island of Tutuila lies a little more than 14 degrees south of the Equator, firmly in the realm of the southeast trade winds. Which is to report that it is year-around mild on the skin of a palagi who grew up in the continental roaring 40s,  a thousand miles and more from any tempering ocean, where avoiding frostbite was a primary concern for months of every year.

So it took me a while to become accustomed to the occasional picnic-table observation, "cold this morning" as the Samoan man gathered his lava lava closer about his knees and buttoned his aloha shirt to the neck.  Lord yes, it must be down to 67 or 68 degrees. Mighty unusual weather for July in the other hemisphere. But near the end of that year-long contract I did get used to it and would agree in classic Heartland understatement, "Yep. A bit  nippy."


The pleasant recollections dropped full force on me this morning as I tempered the oak fire with a sprinkle of water and threw open some windows and doors to get the temperature of my quarters back down to something under 85.

(Friends complain that my place is often overheated, and perhaps it is. If I feel like defending myself I use the excuse that my blood was thinned by too many hundreds of  mornings breakfasting in jungle shade to music of mynah birds.)

But 85 degrees in here is excessive, and even New Dog Libby got grouchy, abandoning the foot of my bed for the cooler wood floor of the kitchen.

I blame a new-found feeling of wealth, untold riches. You see:

The jury-rigged log splitter functions as designed! (A writer is allowed one exclamation point per 10,000 words, and I make no apology for employing this month's quota here.)

It works better, in fact, and in the remaining 10 minutes of daylight after beta testing was completed yesterday, I laid in perhaps four days worth of old cured burr oak, perfectly sized for my small firebox.

By hand, that would be the labor of a couple of hours or more at the added expense of an ibuprofen or two and the occasional wound dressing. The mechanical ease of letting Archimedes'  thinking meet my fuel processing needs leads to the rich feeling that I have won a significant battle over the fossil-fuel thugs who enjoy impoverishing humans such as I, citizens who wish merely to retain an acceptable core body temperature even as the winter Alberta wind eyes our homes with evil intent.


And to think they laughed when I sat down to play the hydraulics.

Oct 28, 2013

Spot News

ABC News breathless headline which may be news to someone:

U.S. Spy Scandal Grows 

And the sub-head

   Obama Unaware for years.

Surprising exactly who about anything, please?