Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Linguistic Transmission

Thinking about the phrase 'applying skill' today, I forget the context, building or cooking probably. Reading a book on language that had a very good section on pidgins and creole tongues. One thing led to another and I was soon sitting on the sofa with a dozen reference books at hand. I love these diversions. There are (or were) 400 languages spoken in Nigeria. The Plains Indians had a codified sign language they used to talk with other tribes, because they all spoke a different language and none of them were written. Interesting that the hieroglyphic calendar hides, a record of particular events in a specific year, a sacred item that might record twenty years, could be almost universally understood. "Oh yeah, I remember that year, when the Cottonwood trees exploded." Best guess is that language developed between 200,000 and 50,000 years ago, certainly when you get to the caves, Chauvet, the oldest, there's a vocabulary. The kid's hand print, and the footprints on the floor: "Honey, come and get the children, they're fucking up my work". When I look at this, study linguistic transmission over the last 50,000 years, one thing rises to the top, that we needed to communicate. Real language, not the grunts and gestures that indicated meaning, but actual communication. Based on nouns and verbs. Another interesting dig is an open-air site, at Mezirich, Ukraine, a place that must have been the killing-field of all time. There were five dwellings there, the frames built entirely from the mandibles of mammoth, interlocked, in a herring bone pattern. Covered with several layers of cured hides and heated with animal-fat lamps, this was the mansion of the time. 15,000 kilograms of bone to frame each house. Cool use of materials. Looking at renderings of a reconstruction, I had the thought that I could do that, with the old Cape Playhouse crew. The original yurt, or how to build if there isn't any wood and you haven't discovered rammed-earth or concrete. Imagine the scope of the killing field. The number of dead animals from centuries of hunting. Imagine what the smell must have been like, in those huts. It must have been a rich environment. Another Luna Moth. Maybe it means something but more likely it's a mere coincidence. Some years I don't see a Luna Moth at all, but this year there have been five of them. Five huts at Mezirich. Fifteen thousand years ago. Fairly recent, actually. They lived close to the edge of the retreating ice and there must have been a reason for that. Runoff, plants feeding animals, and these very dumb mammoths? I don't know. I question any reconstruction. I'd rather just muddle along. Read more...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Night Noise

The Saga Of Black Dell. Ran the AC from four yesterday afternoon until midnight. Took a nap in there somewhere, woke up to pee, opened the windows, got a wee dram and rolled a smoke. The usual cacophony. Nighttime in several layers. Quiet, otherwise; still enough that I can hear leaves falling in threes and in twos. No wind. Somewhere in the middle distance, a tree falls, giving up the ghost. It's a slow sound, and unmistakable. Ripping and tearing then a satisfying thump. I might not find the tree until winter, when I'm back in the woods, because I couldn't tell you from which direction the noise assaulted the night. If it's on the driveway, I'll see it and have to deal with clearing the way. Spent the day reading about the cave at Chauvet. Since it wasn't discovered until 1996 they took great care in the excavation. I love this cave, I've looked at hundreds of photographs, studied the maps. There is a child's palm-print deep inside, so someone had to carry the infant, someone else had a torch, someone else had his old kit bag, with pigment and vehicle. This is serious business. And we wanted her hand-print why exactly? Also, deep in the cave, there were footprints AND there was a lot of charcoal from the various lighting devices. As a sidebar I'm doing a study of stone lamps using animal fat with wicks I've twisting from various fibers. There are footprints on the floor, 30,000 years old, and they clearly show a young kid running around. 'You guys just amuse yourself, while I paint a bison on the wall.' Chauvet is so cool because it is the most modern, and it's the oldest, which means that 50,000 years ago there had to be language. Nouns first, then verbs, slowly, as needed; the earliest adjectives related to the state of the carcass, could you eat it or not. 'Over the hill' is a concept known in every language. I wish I had the digestive system of a coyote. It's hard, actually, being human. We have such a narrow band of influence. Read more...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Contracts

Who knows what actually happens? I get up to close some windows, go outside and pee. I wear a headlamp and carry a frog-gig as a walking staff. In boarding school they made fun of me, now I don't care much either way. This time of year you might come upon almost anything. Say you go out to pee, maybe you carry a frog-gig as a walking stick, maybe there's no light, fog, and a sense of change, like ozone in the air. If you ran upon a snake you could stick it with the gig, you could use the handle as a pointer, you could rant about the various inequalities. I'm only kidding. Mostly I sit in the dark and smoke. I can't fault anyone for what they do. Still, I wonder, "My car bomb, and your car bomb might set the world on fire. Hey now." Doctor John. Dodge and parry. I'd stopped down at B's after a run to town, I remembered to get coffee and whiskey, but had forgotten to go to the library, and he had some books for me. We both read so much we shame our leaned friends. He allowed that I made the best pate that had ever passed his lips. I had just been thinking about making another batch, because I had the water to clean up and a package of local calves-liver in the freezer. I like making pate, when the planets are aligned, because I very much enjoy the mouth-feel and the taste, and the good-will it gains me with a couple of friends. I never went to boarding school. That was supposed to be satire. It's difficult to tell fact from fiction. I was reading about the effect of grit on dental enamel when Linda called. Rarely so happy to hear the phone ring on a Sunday. I've been eating a lot more grit. An inescapable aspect of certain life-style choices and not having running water. Linda was great, they're off to France again, for four weeks of harvesting grapes, and a week in Paris. We touched all the bases (I was going to call them tonight, because I knew they were leaving soon) and had a spirited conversation. I love Linda above all my other readers because she understands me so well. She knows that when I go off, I'm just blowing steam, that I was never mad at anyone except myself. I think it's probably just heat lightning, but I'd better go, the radio warned it could be severe. Read more...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Building Staircases

Reading an essay about building a set of stairs, several of them, actually, and they were all quite beautiful and very complicated. I've built a great many myself, so I know the language and understand the math involved. A staircase involves mystifying geometries. Tom H, Dennis, and I installed sixteen sets in two new condos in Telluride, for another contractor whose crew couldn't figure out how to deal with log stringers and half-log treads. I sat in reverie for the better part of an hour remembering houses, visualizing how I had connected the floors. I remember most of them, despite it being a large number. Four or five of them were quite spectacular, thick hardwood treads that cantilevered, and a couple of sets that curved. The usual rule on a jobsite is that you don't mess with, or talk to, the person building the stairs; also, that they control the radio. Radios are ubiquitous on jobsites. You tend to hear a lot of Country Western music. I always liked to think and work the first couple of days on the weekend, when no one else was around, until I got the job settled in my mind. Once I could see them, in my mind's eye, I knew what needed to be done. In my last years of building I was much more aware of what the materials wanted to do. (In his later years he took to hoarding treads.) Railings became an important codicil. Early on, for a couple of cabins, I built what might better be considered tight spiral ladders and the railings were a problem. For the first ones I just went walking in the woods until I found a curved stick, a branch or a young tree, that fit the bill. Then I noticed that lumber yards had a scrap pile of sticks too crooked to be sold. They're free and often quite beautiful. One of my last complete house-building fantasies involved using only crooked sticks. Insulate it on the outside (with spray foam) and plaster it, expose the whole stick jumble on the inside. The floor could be cracked adobe, cured with ox-blood, grouted with a gross mixture of ground goat turds and resin. My policy has always been that if you can't smoke it or drink it, you can always use it to make grout. I hate to go, but yet another line of storms is coming in. Lighting up the sky. Loki, rolling thunder. No I told her, no I had no regrets, yes, of course, I'll call you tomorrow. Serious weather, the house shakes as I close down. What a trip. The base line of that last storm came up through my feet. Maybe it was an earthquake. I retreated to the sofa and rolled into a fetal ball. Sheet lightning you could read by. Then it was over: a quick fuck in the broom closet, you smooth out the wrinkles and act like nothing happened. I get back up, to re-set the clock, and decide it's officially morning. Might as well make a cup of coffee, might as well have an omelet and toast. Read more...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Slick Scree

Starting with the leaves already. A few of the sumac are turning a beautiful orange. When a gust of wind sweeps across the ridge, a few leaves fall; and that clatter is a new sound, a seasonal sound. A certain brittleness. Late summer loveliness. That big rain has all the feeder creeks flowing. Going out this morning I had all the windows down and everything was so clean and quiet, that when I stopped, at the bottom of the hill, to shift out of four-wheel drive, the only thing I could hear was Low Gap Creek, rippling toward the beginning of Upper Twin. I sat there for a long time, watching butterflies. I usually leave an hour early, if I have an engagement, because I'm always getting side-tracked. They've completely torn up the access where Route 52 comes into Portsmouth at 2nd Street. A cop, directing traffic; and I had plenty of time to jump out of my vehicle and snip a couple of teasel seed-heads. The best stand of teasel I know is in that triangle of lost space where one road forks off to another. A piece of waste land. I wanted to study one of these seed-heads, before they stiffened into a carding tool, and I'm glad I did. Maybe you've never had a pet porcupine, but you have to be very careful how you stroke them. Teasel is like that. They're lovely plants, but, hell, I think the common thistle is quite attractive. Donkeys are the only animal I know that will eat thistles by choice. They have a way of curling their lips to avoid the prickles. Reading a book on Greek architecture, tracking down the use of the female form in pilasters, Modigliani was fond of them and carved several in free-standing stone, they're called, generically, Caryatides; the male form, and I didn't know this, are called Atlantes, usually a kind of Atlas. Northwest Indians and there's always a turtle in there somewhere. Whatever carries the world. Read more...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Suborned Perjruy

The argument of silence. I was just sitting in my chair, reading; dark clouds moved in from the west and I shut down. What I remembered happening might not have happened. I was pissed, I wanted to write, instead I was reading with a headlamp. Big storm front moved in, much thunder and lightning, but I never did lose power. I did collect 15 gallons of wash water in a very few minutes, then read another John Lescroart court-room novel. They're pretty good, great characters and complex plots, perfect for a night of thunder and a shuddering house. The driveway was fine, and the few dead-falls had already been cleared away from Mackletree, so I was able to get to town for lunch with TR, and pick up some foodstuffs. Working on the larder. Jason, one of the cooks at the pub, had saved me a five-gallon pickle bucket (they have resealable lids and user friendly handles) so I can increase my water supply, and I've found that I like the frozen Mountain Star black-bean patties. I want ten or twelve of them in the freezer because it's such a quick meal, and with wasabi mayo they're very good. I bought a large box of powdered milk and a smaller box of powdered eggs, so I can always make cornbread, and I bought a fake, powdered, coffee creamer I hope I never have to use. Chicory coffee is quite bitter. Stopped down at B's on the way home, to have a beer and some conversation. We can have the conversations because we've both read so broadly in so many different fields. His thing, this evening, was that no one read enough; that he was finding, increasingly, that no one knew what he was referring to. I refrained from shaking him. There are only ten or nine of us left, thank god I don't have horns, that even still hear the music of the night. Read more...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Melanistic Variant

Because I'm in the woods so frequently, I see more animals in the wild than most people. A larger sampling. If you include albino animals, which I do (I don't think field biologists do, they consider it a different sub-set) I've seen, over the years, a fair number of animals that weren't the correct color. White deer, black squirrels (coons and possums), yellow timber rattlesnakes. It's always such a shock, disconcerting. A black squirrel today. I'd seen a few of them on Mackletree, where the tree canopy overhangs the road and they use the overpass to avoid having to cross the road (at which they are very bad) but never on the ridge. I've seen black squirrels in three or four different states, so they must be fairly common. I knew a very beautiful albino Finnish woman once. She was so pale, that in the right light she disappeared. She always wore gauzy white, to enhance the disappearing act, but if you got very close to her skin, you could actually see the blood moving. I read something, earlier today, a different use of the word balaam, as being, in typography, those little filler pieces used to complete a column, that you actually kept set in type. They could be any damned thing, the cost of tea in China, a recipe for Mulligan Stew, the ferry schedule. Merely something to fill space. I was way up the Little Cimarron, just before I moved back east, 20 miles on a two-track, to a place I knew above the beaver ponds where the trout were all native Cut-Throat. Certainly over 10,000 feet. Spitting snow in July and August, but alpine meadows rampant in color. I'd made my usual crude camp, a fire, and a rough grill balanced on rocks, so I could use my cast iron skillet to fry fish, and I could make some coffee in the morning. I travel with a baby-food jar of bacon fat, salt and pepper. Usually a lemon and whatever hard loaf of bread I can find. I make a hoe-cake, with cornmeal, turtle eggs, and creek water, that isn't bad, if I don't have bread. False thunder, there's a phrase for that, brutum fulmen, a senseless thunderbolt, Pliny I think. Read more...

Shelf Life

My traditional Sunday, when, except for a small walk, I read all day. No phone calls, no visitors, no AC and the windows open, just cool enough for Black Dell. I heard a plane, mid-afternoon, and I had to think about that because I'm not on any flight-path. Small planes and helicopters occasionally track along the river, which must be five miles away as the crow flies. They usually fly patients to Columbus, where there's a great teaching hospital, and when they do that they fly right up about Route 23, which is a straight shot from Portsmouth due north, 100 miles, but that all happens 17 miles to the east. Sound-wise, I'm in a dead zone, by design; and the orientation of the house is a serious consideration. You don't have to build many houses before you figure these things out. In my building days, of course, if someone just had a lot and needed a house, there wasn't a lot of choice. In the last three places I've lived, I had 120, 80, and, now, 25 acres, on which to situate a dwelling. I like to get familiar with the place, if it's my own, before I start imposing my will. I make seasonal sun-track graphs and build models. The stairs in this house, for instance, I thought about for almost a year, before I built them in a week. Spoke too soon. I heard a vehicle coming up the driveway, I had just gotten a drink and smoked some very good weed and the house smelled strongly, and, naturally it wasn't B dropping off a book, but the deputy sheriff checking up on some gunfire someone had reported. I went out to meet him, hands held high, and he greeted me to same way, god knows we don't want to shoot each other, and yes, there had been some gunshots, maybe 20 of them, in twos and threes, spaced out, an hour ago. I had figured them as coming from a trailer enclave, over on the road that cut through to Sunshine Ridge, half-way between me and the river. Maybe somebody had either won or lost a bet on a sporting event, maybe somebody had a new gun, maybe she finally shot that son-of-a-bitch. The deputy said there had been several reports of locals poaching deer. Of course the locals are poaching deer; harvesting, it might be called. If a family is on hard times, the lumber-jack husband laid up with a broken leg, someone might shoot them a deer. The kids have got to eat. The locals are a tough bunch, but we get along fine, they know I live a difficult life by choice, and they have respect for that. They also know that If they try to dig my ginseng, I'll shoot them. A lovely staccato dripping rain wakes me in the early morning, I got up to pee and poured a wee dram, rolled a smoke. I don't have to be anywhere. I sit in the dark for a long time. The ridge above Low Gap Hollow is the place to be, it's never crowded, and the citizens talk in plain-speak. Read more...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sumac Gall

I'd never noticed a gall on a sumac before, so I stopped and looked at it. Interesting fruit of nature, irregular, slightly smaller than a golf ball, pale green with highlights of yellow. Of course I had to take the damned thing home and dissect it. Sumac leaves are bi-laterally symmetrical but where the gall occurred it filled the space where a leaf might have been, and the opposing leaf was dying. I didn't know what that was about, and I've been interested in galls generally, as they have been, for centuries, used in making ink, and the history of printing, in all its elements, has been an interest of mine for decades. Gall ink is beginning to fail, simply lifting off the page, and I'd been reading about that, the conservation nightmare it has become. As I suspected, the missing leaf had become a tightly wrapped covering for some insect pupae. I don't know what bug. Where does the skin or shell come from? The oozy liquid, as is usual with galls, was sweet (of course I tasted it, a teeny taste of anything will seldom kill you), and it actually looked like something I might cook: sumac galls with cream sauce. It would be kind of like Brussels sprouts, speaking of which, I got a package the other day, in the remaindered produce bin, cleaned them, halved them, nuked them for a couple of minutes, then broke the clustered leaves apart as I finished them in butter. They were very good. They hold pan drippings very well. Any conveyance when it comes to drippings. I like cabbage, call me a radical. The grandmother of a CIA agent I once knew (and published, he translated Gaelic) made a great pasta sauce with Brussels sprouts. She was so Italian, she refused to speak English, thought that hamburgers presaged the heat-death of the universe. She might well be correct. The noise level outside escalates. The mewling indicates a cat. I finally open the back door and sling-shot a couple of marbles, a satisfying yelp, and whatever they are, they scamper off into the woods. I don't feel particularly good about running them off, but it's nice to get back to the bug chorus, even though it reminds of Philip Glass. The Cello Suites are playing, Edgar Meyer, my favorite version of my favorite music, I have to turn off the lights and weep. This music, I think, teeters into the sublime. An exercise indeed. When Pablo found Mary's copy of Bach's masterpiece, he was just looking for something to play. Mary has a beautiful hand. His copy is probably the secular holy grail. The bidding starts at 150 million. Listen, Cory bought me a beer, I didn't know she was you sister-in-law. Read more...

Universal Signs

Victory in Europe, cuckold, the bird. One finger might say a great many things, two flags is a language. Ireland was entirely glaciated, thus the lack of snakes. I found a blue-jean jacket at the Goodwill, heavy denim, that protects my arms, and I am ready to have battle with the briars. Since I can't retreat to Concord, where the hired help might do my laundry, I fix a simple dinner, sardines on toast with a slice of onion. You shouldn't eat this if you have to talk to anyone. I'm nodding off, staying aware is serious business, and I think I'll go take a nap. Young war awakes me, a melee for animals unknown, snarling and yapping like nothing you've ever heard. I was expecting it, because I'd cleaned out the fridge and turned the compost, but I didn't want any part of it. An auditory event. My first apartment was right next to a train line coming into the Jacksonville, Florida, a big slow curve coming to the yards. When I wanted to go into town (the depot was in the center of town) I'd just jump on the side of a train. The distant past. But what I remember most from that time is the sound and feel of trains. Rattle your brain and shake your feet. We acclimate to different levels of sound. I might hear a train, across the river in Kentucky, a dozen times a year, when conditions are just right, or a logging truck down on Upper Twin, in the world I inhabit now. Actually, as I think about it, I've made a point to live with natural sound for forty years. Even then you have to quiet the din in your own head. You come out of a dream with a John Lennon lyric in your head: Imagine all the people... and a mocking bird picks up the refrain. You can cite coincidence, now and again, but sometimes things happen beyond the pale. You know something you couldn't possibly know, or you touch someone, and there's that brief glow of St. Elmo's fire. B said something, I don't remember the context, about accuracy. Pretty sure I have this under control, zugunruhe, right? I press against the south side of my cage, I really need to get to Patagonia. Please, just make my excuses, knowing full well, that everything is fabrication. Read more...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pain

Windrows of blackberry canes. The death of a thousand cuts. Only myself to blame. It's a nightmare, bleeding from ten thousand punctures. I moisten a paper towel with alcohol and wipe my forearms and the towel comes off pink. That's good, pink is better than red. Pain is a referent, ask Kim, the one-armed brick layer. I was hurting last night, muscle sore and pricked; so I self-medicated and listened to the radio. I'm not sure why I don't like Blue-Grass music. Too Rococo. But I was off in my head, most of the evening, considering my most recent failures. I didn't have any beer, and I needed to get my mail, so I drove down and over to B's place (a mile) and took him a book to read (he'd already read it), got a beer and talked for just a few minutes, as he was on his way to a music gig. It was refreshing to get off the ridge, to see the roadside flowers, especially along the grader ditch that becomes Upper Twin Creek. B had turned me unto Bergamot, which is blooming now; and there are five or six other 'tea' plants growing along the drainage. I don't drink as much tea as I do coffee, but it's nice, mid-winter, to have a taste of summer. What I do with the chicory roots is scrape them, trim them, cut them into chunks, and put them on a cookie sheet. They're usually fairly dry, hanging from the beams, because I dig them mid-summer, when I can Identify the flowers. Then on those fall nights, when I let the fire die, I put them in the oven overnight, to dry completely. The next day, I start a fire, get the oven hot (450 to 500 degrees) and pull them out just as they start to blacken. Run them through the coffee grinder. So many of the things I do are based on a woodstove that's going non-stop for more than half the year. Cooking something that requires twelve hours is not a problem. Probably not cost effective in the modern world. I don't cook pot-roast anymore, the last time I made it, there was a shooting. I should tell you about this sometime. The people that know me cut me some slack. Life is like that restaurant, where they serve you what they think you should eat. I'd better go. Read more...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Datum Line

Mean water level, for instance. A horizontal line from which to measure up and down. I tend to use it more broadly, as a referent point generally. Our social life, especially, is based (conducted, approached) on the idea of normal. Deviation from the norm is generally a bad thing, and always suspect; but I'm allowed latitude because I'm a good cook. Cleaned up and went to town, I was out of everything, and I was going to meet TR for lunch, needed to stop at the library. I went the long way around so I could stop by Aubrey's place down the creek. He and his son run the largest firewood business in the area. A pile of cut and split wood 30 feet by 50 feet, 12 feet high, plus piles of skidded logs and a bone-yard of stumps and crotches. Supplies wood for the vouchers in this part of the county. He wasn't there, but I had a good look around. Quite the operation, and it supplies the income for several people. Cottage industry, though in this case 'cottage' might not apply; several country shacks and a trailer is more to the point. I like living where there are no building codes because you see the most amazing structures. I've had more than my share of meetings with architects, and I'd much rather live amidst indigenous construction. I live in a shack myself, a matter of choice, but nonetheless. What I derive from it is that I no longer work in the outside world, and that all of my time is my own. I don't recommend this, it's just where I find myself. I can walk outside at dawn or sunset and watch the slanted light. I could just as easily have been the lawyer that defended the cop that shot the unarmed black kid in St. Louis. Luck of the draw. An engine, in the back of my brain, is always asking what next? when another storm sweeps in from Minnesota. I assure myself I can deal with whatever, I always have, but I'm no longer quite so sure. Read more...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Migratory Restlessness

Briefly entertained the idea of a road trip, dismissed it as too expensive, then thought about a trip to Columbus, a night in a motel and a day at the art museum, which I might do. There are a bunch of funky little galleries on High Street, and the ethnic food places are everywhere, lunch at the North Street Market where's there's a small wine shop that carries Ridge zins and Frank Family Farms cabs. Remember to take a cooler for the seafood (mussels!) and the cheese coming back. Treat myself, before I have to get busy on the art of survival. I'm looking forward to it. I have all fall to get a few things done (I built this house in five months) and except for the two days I need to spend crawling around under the house, they are actually things I like doing: splitting kindling, stacking firewood, considering a winter's menu, stocking the larder. Winter reading isn't a problem, between B's library and mine there are ten thousand books to be read. I got sucked into a radio story today, about a young girl who had been, they used the word 'rendered' as in the verb form of rendition. I had to mute the radio and kill the breaker for the refrigerator. Render, for me, is always in the ballast of Moby Dick, I can't not think about oil lamps and trimming my wicks. Rendering a 12 year-old girl seemed excessive to me, but I don't judge the habits of others. Speaking of try-pots, though, I do render chickens skins when I make certain dishes with chicken thighs, and I end up with a tasty treat AND lovely chicken fat to fry eggs for several days. One time in Mississippi several of the good old boys came out to the farm and we spent the afternoon rendering the fat and skin of a large hog into lard and cracklings. Corn bread, with a cup of cracklings added to the batter, is incredibly good. Whale cracklings are probably pretty good too, but they were used to fire the try-works. Melville as a food and travel writer. Any excuse to reread Moby Dick, which I added to the winter list, along with Hesiod and the other early observers of the natural world. Mid-winter, I'll read for 6 or 8 hours a day, I have to plan for that, a list is handy, and a pile of books, pre-selected from the stacks. I avoid cabin fever, and major depressions, by having a good selection of books at hand. Dorothy Sayers has saved my life several times, George V. Higgins, most recently I've been reading about salt, the way they leach out at various saturations. Read more...

Monday, August 11, 2014

One Time

Skip James. "Special Rider Blues." The train done out of the station. Over in Kentucky where the sun does always shine. A picture of my lady and her ass sure looks fine. I have to turn off the radio, though I love that twelve string guitar being beat to a pulp, the fucking lyrics are driving me crazy. A backlash to that would be a girlish soprano singing about the size of some suitor's equipment. The blues is always about subjugation and abuse. Anything in G. TR hangs the note, then drops dried beans on the cymbal. Mary still eats bread. And the pace picks up. Slowing into a curve, then speeding, to gain control. Not unlike the way you feel, with your nose and ears wrapped, in a scrumble. Yes, yes, I see it now. The way you stack firewood, the way you dance. An easy exit, thunder storms. Showers off and on all day, and I reread "Blood Meridian", did manage one walk, and it was lovely, the greens cleaned and restored in the rain. The ticks were out in force and I was picking then off me for half-an-hour when I got back home. A nice omelet, fried potatoes, toast, then back to my reading. So violent but so beautifully written. Replenish my supply of wash water, which I'll need for my dishes and me tomorrow; I might go to town, and I've allowed myself to get a bit ratty. I need to see some other human beings, and I need to go to the library as I can't read any more McCarthy right now. Maybe I'll go out and hack some weeds tomorrow, before cleaning up, and work on the access to the back of the woodshed. I need to clear a new path to the outhouse. I've been using a trench latrine, to let the outhouse and the composting toilet dry out so I can empty them. I've a pile of shipping pallets I need to cut up for kindling, I still have wood on the driveway that needs hauling; and they've cut a bunch of trees, sycamore and oak, down at the lake, where they're rebuilding the damn and spillway, and the wood is free for the taking. Be a fool not to pick it up. A lot of my wood comes from the roadside. This goes all the way back to Glenn and me living in the church, when we scrounged all of our wood, and just barely managed to avoid freezing to death. He paid the bills, I kept us fed, and we talked about Melville and dear sweet Emily. A winter in which there was a lightning storm that came in over the top of a snow storm. These don't happen often, and if you see one count yourself lucky. When backlit strobes of light illuminate particular flakes. Silent lightning in a snow storm. Double cheddar, some very good olives, I have to go, I'll certainly lose power. Read more...