Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cold Morning

A little slow getting up. Had to start a fire as the house was cold. I could have just suited up and gone outside, but I wanted a second cup of coffee. The annual 'Food Issue' of the New Yorker came yesterday and I wanted to read for an hour or two and let the world warm a bit. Then walked down and did a little work on the driveway, pulling wads of leaves out of the grader ditch. Spent several hours leaning dead branches, 3 to 4 inches in diameter, against tree trunks, so I could find them later, then filled the kindling bucket, lunched (late) on chorizo and scrambled eggs, with toast and jalapeno jelly. I'm needing to eat more. Friends have advised that I back off even more, from the physical part of my life, but I don't think I can. I need to be using my body, I need to be outdoors. The smell, the touch, and the sound of it. The weather service is saying we'll have our first frost Saturday. Kill the damn bugs, I hope we do. I have a variety of wood to choose from, to heat the house, before the oak has lost it's surface moisture; and even then, I capture that moisture to humidify the house. I like some humidity in the air, it allows me to sing the high notes. And when I'm sleeping, I dream the rest of it. I work through the afternoon, taking breaks for hot tea and various snacks, and I finally just stopped, came inside with an armload of knots and burls to get through the night. Still early, but I'd put in my hours and I wanted to clean up and sit at my desk. Read some fiction. I looked like shit warmed over, a grimy sweatshirt, tattered jeans, a few minor cuts (fucking blackberry canes) replete with dried blood and I heard a, what do they call them, a four-wheeler, coming up the driveway. Great, I thought, just what I need, company. It was a geographer with the Park Service, vested out in fluorescent color, with a GPS wand on a stick, and Goggle Earth on a laptop. He wasn't getting any reception and wondered where the hell he was. I walked him over the bounds, tried to explain that this particular place was off the grid, a magnetic anomaly. I think he thought I was making it up, and he walked around, waving his wand. I live for these moments. Read more...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Still Life

Raining fairly hard and I need wash water, so I stir from my stupor. Rotate pickle buckets around, fill the kettle on the stove. Basho at the end: chop wood, haul water. I cook a sweet potato, wrapped in foil, in the fire-box of the stove, fry a small steak and have to laugh at myself, dirty and stove-up, but I must say, with a great pile of wood in the shed. I still have seven rounds of the oak to split in half, so I can carry it at all, butt rounds, dense and twisted, but I'm good at this, splitting wood is good therapy. I'm sore, make no mistake, but nothing is strained, and nothing is sacred. I pushed hard today, to get firewood under cover. I did what I needed to do. Later, I thought I might have done things differently, but I'm not sure. Plopped down on the sofa and I was asleep within minutes, then woke at midnight. Sore in all the muscle groups, but no one worse than any other. Wrote for a couple of hours then went back to sleep. Met TR at the pub, just had a beer because I wanted to stop and get a footer with jalapeno poppers on the way home. Picked up what I needed to make the kale, chick-pea, chorizo soup. Changing with the seasons. The power is out when I get home, so I go outside with the bow-saw and cut up some dead poplar saplings that will make sufficient fires for the next couple of cool nights. I'm amazed my arms work. I need to bust up some pallets for kindling (the slats) and starter sticks (the runners) so I hauled a couple to the woodshed. I need a clear path to the compost heap, and a path to the outhouse. Cucumber sandwiches on bread without crusts. Unsalted butter, pull out all the stops. I wonder if we're supposed to feel that way, slightly guilty, and aware that our bodies betray us. Read more...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Coal Black

Coal is certainly one of the seven deadly sins. I burn wood with my head turned aside. Two old crows remind me. Stopped hauling wood when I felt a pain in my lower back. Came inside and used a heat pad. It's ok now. I'll wear the back brace tomorrow. Michael bought it for me in Utah, when we were building a butt-and-pass log cabin for an older couple, outside of Monticello, south of Moab. My Internet stopped working but I still had a phone line and I figured that either the modem had died again (they're getting hard to find) or that Black Dell was giving up the ghost. Read the Best Short Stories:1994 (Goodwill) and fixed a great omelet. I'm coming around to thinking that the meat from short beef ribs, simmered for several hours on a bed of something, is the best meat in the world. Pork tenderloin, giving up its banner, flings me a finger. And I see the small LED flash, that signals I'm connected. Read and write. Go to bed. To avoid begging off, I get right up this morning and put on the heavy Carhartt bib-overalls and my work boots. Supposed to rain later and I want to get all the rough-split wood under cover. Lose track of the number of trips, but I haul 24 large quarters and 24 halves. They'll all need splitting again. Many breaks but get it done concurrent with the first rumbles of thunder. Somewhat sore and inordinately pleased with myself. Getting dangerously dark now, at three o'clock. I get an early drink and take an Aleve. Read some emails, one from a student at Chautauqua who'd tracked down a copy of a book of mine from decades ago. "Anacoluthon", back when I was being fairly opaque. He liked it, and on rereading, so did I. It's storming now, a full gale. Can't see across the hollow. The leaves are being stripped from the trees. Violent amounts of water on a driveway that is less protected. The catchments will be clogged tomorrow and I just hope the grader ditch hasn't jumped across. Establishing a road-bed is always problematic. I'd better go, I'm sure to lose service. Read more...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Street Fair

I'd save myself some grief if I knew what was going on around town. Second Street was blocked off, the usual row of carefully restored cars with the hoods open and people milling about. I was not going to brave that crowd in my search for a three-pound hammer head. Went to the pub and had a nice quiet beer, chatting with the staff. TR came in late, having lost track of time playing his guitar at home. Stopped by the museum, to see the set-up for the gala and to look at the items to be auctioned. Glad I don't have to be there. I poured the premium wines at such events for ten years. Stopped at Big Lots to pick up a large package of cheap paper plates. I use them on top of the cutting board when I'm chopping or slicing something, so that I don't have to waste water cleaning up, then I burn the paper plate. I don't generate much garbage. Junk mail doesn't burn well but if you have good dry kindling and a little extra time, you can start a fire with it; I also have the year's accumulation of butter wrappers (I keep them in the freezer) and the boxes they came in: when you need a quick fire, butter wrappers are great. B used to soak corncobs in kerosene, then dry them; perhaps, along with fat pine, the ultimate kindling. I could do an interesting lecture on kindling. The problem is that anyone interested would probably know more than me. The text would be Building Fires: The Turn Toward Modernity, a classic in the field. Suddenly aware that everything I say is suspect. Key lime pie for breakfast has long been a favorite for me, and since I had the stove going I baked one last night. With a store-bought graham cracker pie shell (I've never actually made a graham cracker pie shell) this takes about ten minutes to make and twenty minutes to bake. The piece last night, still warm, was very good, but the almost half I ate this morning, with vanilla ice-cream, made me want to get up and dance. Another beautiful day, translucent color, birds, young squirrels preparing for their first winter, and just enough breeze to keep the leaves falling. A splendid day. The contour of the land is revealed for the first time in months. I see it with new eyes every year. The landscape, Glenn would say, is the history of drainage, and as the famous House Speaker from Massachusetts once said: "All drainage is local." The hollows so clearly define the flow of springs. Below B's old cabin there's a drainage, a deep wet-weather spring that produces water ten months out of the year, it carves a path. I need to address where the leaves have accumulated and clogged the drain. Walking small creek beds is an instructive occupation. In my small pack, along with a water bottle and some protein bars, I always have a foam pad, so that I can sit without getting my ass wet. Anymore, I usually carry a nip of single-malt; a wee dram of creosote never hurt anyone. Second Hand Peat: The Silent Killer. The text for another course. Read more...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Red Maples

Some of the trees are very beautiful. The large maples are red on the outside but yellow in the center. They also have the habit of losing their leaves all at once, often a single day. It makes for a lovely display on the pavement that vehicles rooster-tail through. Cleaned up and went into town for lunch with Sara. We took a booth and caught up on particulars. Easy conversation. We've always had easy conversation. She paid and I got the leftovers. She'd forgotten her cigs, so we went back over to their apartment and had a couple of smokes, out on their smoking terrace, continued the conversation. I went back to the pub, to pee, got into another talk, then had a cig with Loren, out behind the pub, and finally headed home. I hate fucking comparisons, I could be part of that. I agree with Patsy Sims, that we have to be absolutely accurate, but I'm unsure what that is, exactly. I'm truthful, for the most part, you can take me to the bank. It could be argued, that when I lie, I only do it to bring truth under control. Just one of many arguments. I think of it as more of the Southern story telling technique. A camp fire, Bud Light from the cooler, some pulled pork. I went as far as the edge of the map, we could argue about flat surfaces, that we were completely naive goes without saying, but I was tickled when Kim told me that his GPS couldn't find me. Wearing the aluminum-foil hat is working. The county mowed the verges one last time, chopping up fast-food trash in the banks of shredded leaves. On the way back home I stop and bag the garbage. You could insulate a house with foam cups. Seriously. I spend several hours thinking about a dwelling I could build from trash. The outer layer would be fused plastic dolls, a cupola of soccer balls, split, and overlapping. An onion dome. It would be garish, at first, but then covered with dust and leaves. The irony here is that I could build anything, now, but that I choose to build nothing. I'm done with it, all the compromise and attachment. Read more...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Satisfied Mind

The crackle of a fire. Distant sounds: a train in Kentucky, a barge on the river. No animal noises, the dark is heavy and thick. I wanted to just stay asleep, but I had to get up and pee, and I knew that would wake me. Bowed to the inevitable, put a log on the fire, got a wee dram, rolled a smoke. Sat in my pool of light. Usually I read, in these intervals, but sometimes I just stare into space. All that stuff that rolls around. Could you, should you, the conditional comes to bear. I'm good with this, I've talked people off ledges. In my experience you just need a narrative. Oh, hey, did I mention that my phone was out again? White sand and scrub pine. Scraping by, two crab traps and a trot-line, grits in a crock-pot. Finally, a beautiful cool day, Sara calls to postpone lunch until tomorrow, because she got a last-minute hair appointment for the gala fund-raiser; fine with me. I clipped brambles to the back and front of the woodshed, split the last rounds, and got out the wheelbarrow. Mindless work is sometimes a good thing, on this occasion it buoyed my spirits, hauling wood I felt like a real person, in the actual world. I knocked off mid-afternoon, because I had a book of B's that was inter-library loan (I was tired), and a card that had arrived in my mail saying that his driver's license needed to be renewed. I drank a beer and gave him a report on the book he had loaned me. His former wife, Dawn, was dropping off the twin grandchildren, Owen and Harrison, and left. We watched the boys, playing on the hillside. Frankly, I'm amazed. I told B early that I'd surprised if the Hot Cars even made it to the bottom. But they did. Both boys cheated, Owen always jumped the gun, and Harrison always pushed his car, to give it a good start.That's just the way I remember it. Fact and fiction, don't get me started. Read more...

Broken Silence

Overcast, threat of rain, but tomorrow promises to be nice for hauling firewood. Met TR for lunch, hadn't seen him for a week, and we were catching up on the news when Sara came in. In town for the big museum fund-raiser this Saturday. She wants to have lunch before they go back to Hilton Head. I stopped at Kroger to get what I needed to make pan of Johnny Marzetti. I haven't had this for years and usually just buy it as a boxed meal at a church social. Picked up some ramen and some instant mashed potatoes for the winter larder, both ten for ten dollars, and headed home. No denying that it's fall. The leaves are in banks on the verge. The driveway is completely obscured, it's only because I know where the ruts are that I can drive in and out. Confident, though, that I can deal what's dealt me. Good at banter, mobile enough to avoid a slow rock, and I've always been able to start a fire.

Ill (I'll) but oddly prepared.
In his alembic system,
to accept anything as more
or less true.
Read more...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall Meals

Soups, of course. A kale soup with chorizo and chick peas that I'm fond of, various game stews (my hunting and trapping friends will be leaving dead animals on the back porch), ham and bean soup, squash soup, fish and shellfish soup. Cornbread and polenta, the winter's supply of cornmeal and grits arrived. When I buy something at the supermarket now, if it's a thing I use regularly, I buy an extra one. I need a gallon of olive oil. Split another couple of rounds of the oak this afternoon, but I was feeling it in my back, after working hard yesterday, so I just went for a walk. Mindless, stopping to feel the texture of leaves. I always forget how beautiful it is, when the slanted light rakes the hillside. Casseroles, right? we were talking about dinner. Rolling thunder, more rain. better go. Rained like a mule peeing on a flat rock. I catch enough water to see me through the immediate future, I think there is no more than that. The immediate future I mean. I make a force-meat against hunger. Chicken livers and mushrooms; slivered hard cheese and sweet pickles. Two in the morning and I don't know where I am. Your sofa or mine. More rain and my firewood plans are shot. Supposed to be sunny on Thursday, so if I get the other eight rounds split I can haul everything then. Worked on editing myself for a few hours, then read a Michael Connelly novel to give my head a rest. In a break between squalls I got a small walk. Luminous fungi on a log, two crows, a log-truck laboring on the road below. County politics, some favors change hands. A logging concern has gained rights to harvest a large section of timber but the access had been closed. New culverts are installed, some grading, some gravel hauled; THEN they can't go out the convenient way, out Mackletree and onto 125, because of a bad bridge, they have to go other way, up Mackletree and out Upper Twin, but the road is a mess. Repair on top of repair. So the county paves that end of Mackletree, Chip-And-Seal, which is just hot asphalt and gravel. Enough repair to get the timber out. This is transparent. All that it means to me is that for three miles I have to drive very slowly, so I can pull off the road if a log-truck is coming the other way. There are a great many things that threaten you every day, that you don't see; the least you can do is avoid the things you can see. Read more...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Steely Gray

Rain, so I blow off going to town for the Saturday lunch with TR. The sky is completely uniform. Enough chill that I wear my bathrobe over my clothes. Putting away some books and I found a couple, translations and commentary on 'The Dead Sea Scrolls', with which I spent the rest of the day. Barely aware of the passage of time. Several rounds of finger food, and several cups of smoked tea, before I get a glass of whiskey in the late afternoon. I've been told by house guests, that have a chance to observe me as the solitary human I actually am, that I'm a very intense reader. I mumble, squirm, tease out meanings and look up words. Sunday dawns lovely, so I make a second cup of double espresso and make an omelet, toast with peanut butter. Cleaned a couple of corners in the house that had been bothering me, but I could only see the spaces in the morning; then filled the woodbox, split some kindling, then went out and split half of the remaining oak rounds. A branch had fallen down over the driveway, but was caught up in some young poplars, so I had to lop off some of the smaller branches so I could drive under the damned thing the next time I go out. Since I intend to do the same work tomorrow, I don't clean up or shave, or even change clothes. When you're walking up and down in the woods, this time of year, you're going to smell like leaf-litter no matter what you do. Very nice outside. I sat on the stoop with my first whiskey and rolled a smoke, rolled my shoulders, felt a little sore. I liked the feeling, my body responding to what I needed to do. I knew I had my dinner cooked, left-overs, high quality left-overs, pork tips and greens. So I sat outside until the darkness was nearly complete. Duck under the radar, eat a great meal, sleep for a few hours in a hollow, on the beach of imagination; you might choose one path, and I another. Rolled over, on the sofa, I didn't want to dare the stairs. Jesus, I'm sore. I remember I'd bought some generic Aleve, the last time my hip was hurting and I get up to find them. Waiting for the drugs to kick in, I got a last wee dram, rolled a smoke, and laughed at myself. At my age, to find myself here. Eight more oak rounds to be split, then haul everything to the shed. Every piece I haul to the shed needs to be spilt two or three more times. This time of year, what you do is try and set up a situation where you don't die. Split wood, collect water, gather acorns. When I wake up later, aching in every pore, I wonder what futures, what gains. Read more...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dappled Light

My sister had fixed slaw-dogs for lunch one day. I hadn't had one in years, so I bought some good hot-dogs (Nathans) and a bag of slaw. Especially good topped with kimchi. Beautiful day, intensely blue, so I drove into town the back way, admiring the light and the color; the bluffs of Kentucky, across the river, were spectacular. Failed in my search for a three-pound hammer head among the junk shops, but I refuse to pay thirty dollars for a new hammer. The Chestnut oak splits so easily, as expected, that I can split it on my knees with a hatchet and the smaller hammer, saving my back. I do need to make a handle for a lovely, unused, six pound splitting-maul head that I picked up for two dollars. B swears by Black Gum for handles because the grain is so convoluted that they never break. Never is relative, city friends break handles trying to be helpful. I have another maul, with a fiberglass handle, given to me by someone, but it needs to sharpened, which means several hours with a file because I don't want to lose the temper. The pub was quiet, after the lunch rush, and there was a guy I knew sitting at the bar, Michael, a graphic designer, who's been stripping copper and other salable stuff from a building a friend of his bought in Ashland. He's making very good money and bought me a beer, we talked about taking buildings apart. I love salvage. I'd as rather take something apart as build another something. When you take something apart, you see the whole process in reverse. Vitruvius, in De Architectura, lays it all out, the physical part of things, then the next year, Poggio found Lucretius. Which opened that whole debate, the immortal soul, Dante, the circles of hell. Coming back in the dappled pools of light were glowing. And the leaves. I knew going out that we were having a major leaf-event day. The driveway is inches deep in them. On Mackletree, through the forest, you can't see the edges of the road. Vehicles make rooster-tails. They pour out of the beds of pickup trucks. They carpet the terrain. They make walking difficult because you can't see the ground. I wonder how many pounds per acre. I make a rough calculation, based on questionable data, and it's a great many tons. Worms and nematodes process that, the dust of volcanos, bat shit, the bones of the dead, and leaves, into tomorrow's topsoil. Where do you think that air came from? Chemical reaction? Best guess, you let the dust settle, sift the fines, bury a dead herring for every ear of corn. Read more...

Usual Silence

Utterly still. I got some flash paper and did some magic tricks on the back stoop. Off beat drumming. I like salmon, I like tuna, I like sardines four to the can. Crickets are 22% protein. Rain, and everything is saturated. I was just fixing to turn on Black Dell when the power went out. Then the quiet was virtually complete. Enough overcast light that I can back against a window and read. I make a cheese, salami, olives, and kimchi plate, eat with my fingers, using one hand to read; put on a bathrobe and a knit hat, start a fire. Just a little fire, to chase off the chill, enough heat to fry a small steak and two eggs, toast with jalapeno jam. Comparing variant spellings. Codifying language is no easy task. Idiota was originally someone who couldn't read Latin. All the text, hand-copied, on vellum or parchment, was in Latin. The information was all there, but in a language almost no one could read: how to raise wheat, how to build the Parthenon. It was all there. Greek, transcribed lovingly (Hesiod), into beautiful, fixed, Ciceronian Latin. With the addition of all that Roman engineering. AND, from the very beginning of recorded text, there's all this mysticism, fear, self-doubt, such a deep and strongly held desire to be told what to do. The Humanists are the thread, which was my point. Poggio Bracciolini had a great couple of years; 1416, 1417 he won thirty games, batted .442; found Vitruvius, in ten volumes, at St Gall, then Lucretius the next year. On a roll. The Vitruvius is fairly common, there are eighty copies (or so) of the original, when he found the Lucretius there was no other copy. There are two others, now, but this was a tenuous thread. It held, barely. A sidebar: Robert Johnson to Eric Clapton. I can't help it's that way. Twist and shout. Read more...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Service

The phone rang, startled me. What the hell is that? My personal phone guy calling to apologize. He'd been in Michigan where a bunch of lines had been taken down by an early season storm, came right out and found that one of the 'splice weather housings' had become an acorn storage silo. A squirrel. I immediately sent all the posts in storage and plowed through emails. I'd made a quick run to town, to call the phone company again, and they said they thought I was restored. Celebratory pint at the pub, a jar of kimchi at Kroger. A dial tone had never sounded so sweet. I made a few calls, my oldest friends, established myself in the land of the living, and it feels good to have some connection. My tendency is to retreat, to a cave or a tree-tip pit, if anything happens. I want my back against a wall, and I'd want that wall to be solid rock. I've slept in caves many times, mostly in Utah; you build a fire at the mouth and you're pretty well protected. Dead wood is always available and any ledge is solace from the storm. One more wee dram and a glimpse of the future. Mad Tom tangles with the devil. A Super 8, Norton, Virginia, St. Elmo's fire. You can believe whatever you want. Three or four times in my varied career, things have not made sense, but generally beams fall into place. Oh. Right. She was left-handed. Like that. It suddenly all makes sense. Lunch with TR and our banker friend Ty at the bar in the pub, excellent conversation ranging all over the landscape. More rain. I forgot to go to the library, but, fortunately, I already have thirty or forty books in the winter pile, which I now keep atop the aquarium that used to house exotic frogs; on a plank, but they have a wall to lean on, so they rarely get knocked over. I bumped into the pile of Natural History pamphlets the other night. A lot of them have glossy covers and they tend to slide; it was a fucking mess that I shoveled into a corner, with a snow-shovel, dare I trip going out to pee. Two hours, the next morning, sorting things out. There were hundreds of pamphlets. Bees, butterflies, moths, bats, moles and voles, small mammals, large bugs. A certain solace in knowing what's what. I'm getting better on common weeds, but I still call things what we always called them, in the vernacular: Caxton should be placed on the same throne with Shakespeare. When I come in now, from a stint outdoors, I pick up the phone and listen to the dial tone. Small pleasures. Read more...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Up The Creek

The beauty of the slope across the river, in Kentucky, was so striking I had already decided to drive home the long way around. An outing, one extra gallon of gas, $3.06, a cheap date. First a stop at the library where I found a Dorothy Sayers that I'd either not read or forgotten; a stop at the pub for a Saturday pint, a stop at Kroger for a few things. I have a nip of Glendronach in my bag, and figure to stop at the first ford and let the recent rains clean my undercarriage. The colors are lovely, the red sumac, the yellow poplars, and some of the maples are orange. The vegetation is still close, along the creek, but opens up on the slopes, where I can now see the ground again. B's place is on the way, when I come up the creek, so I stop there, just for a few minutes, touching base; he's playing with two bands and rehearsing four nights a week. He seems content, to be up to his ears in music, and hauling firewood on a Saturday afternoon. He has a book for me, the rise of the new sciences 1400-1600. The Humanists. I check the notes and the index and naturally my old friend Poggio is there. A New Yorker in the mailbox, with fiction by Murakami. Weather permitting, I want to haul wood for several hours tomorrow, and cut up the junk I've collected since last winter, small stuff that makes fine fires for cool evenings, but that will still allow hours for reading, then hours later, for writing. A new pack of dogs, in the distance, real hounds, on the trail of a coon. They sound quite lovely. Found a fine ginseng root today. I was parked in the creek and using a small telescope to look closely at the banks. I noticed the red berries and distinctive leaves. A park ranger had pulled in next to me, opposite direction so we were driver's side to driver's side. He had a sip of the scotch and I rolled him a smoke. He asked me what I was doing, in a friendly way, and I told him I was fixing to dig a nice ginseng root (there's a season, opens September 1) and he watched while I dug out my little mandrake, we both figured it was four or five years old. He was impressed that I had found it, sitting in the middle of a creek. I chopped it into some very high-proof moonshine. This works very well against skin diseases and congestive heart failure. When I was younger, I used it to stay up for 48 hours at a time, to make a special effect happen, or to drive 24 hours to get laid. The follies of youth. Now I take a sip to swage the local pain. Not that it makes any difference. But it seems to help, as I limp toward the door. Firewood, right, I see where we're going. Trying to not freeze to death. A noble ambition. Read more...

Easy Day

Take it slow and easy. After coffee and a protein shake I split some wood, go look at what arrangement I'm going to make in the woodshed. A Pileated Woodpecker sweeps in and lands on the other dead tree I want to harvest. I'm dressed in extremely grubby clothes, they'll never see the washer again, with the baseball cap my girls gave me that says 'Porn Star', red on black, when the State Police officer showed up. He was in one of those new cars, I think they're Chevy's, goosed up, with superior suspension. I read about them somewhere, they stopped making whatever had been used before. Anyway he was grinning like an idiot, because he'd been warned about the driveway by the forest service guys, but it wasn't his car, exactly. So he took a run up the hill, to see if he could make it. If you can't, you just back down, it's not a big deal. He wasn't going to walk. The stolen vehicle thing seems to be getting out of control and the county called in the state. This guy was using GPS to check long driveways that apparently went nowhere. He'd checked in with the forest people, and they had tried to call me, to warn me he was coming, but my phone was out. It didn't matter, I don't do very much that's illegal. I don't steal vehicles, but I did make a very nice pun about my chop-shop. I think he missed it. He couldn't wait to get turned around and away. When he first came up I had a hatchet in one hand and a maul in the other. I put those down, right away; he was cautious, a Glock on his hip. I really don't want to get shot for splitting wood. We had a friendly chat about stealing cars. Still no phone, which seems more and more incredulous. Just enough rain to keep me from working outside so I read the book B sent over (Rise Of The New Sciences, 1400-1600). I'm chewing it slowly. What it is, I think, is an update on what might be called the sociology of scientific knowledge. And it's a period I'm becoming more interested in. Something to pursue this winter. A walk out the logging road, then back along the driveway. Found several ginseng plants but didn't dig them, I don't need them right now. I did look at them closely. It's a nice little plant, very slow growing. Winded, from a uphill slog, the slope very wet and slippery with leaves, I stopped at a convenient stump and rolled a smoke, dug out an ashtray in the duff, with the toe of my boot, and sat there for a long time. We're so alone, well and truly alone. There's great hoopla, and nachos, in the next room, you don't have to suffer the death of ten-thousand blackberry canes to know it's excitation, but the fact is each of us is a monad. I only use that word because it's available. I tend to think in terms of seed. You and me Babe. I have to go, I need some sleep. There's a lot to think about. The Dark Ages were essentially a crisis of language. Consider walled cities, the plague, most of the oaks had been cleared so grain could be cultivated, and almost everyone had forgotten how to read, so the great classics (Roman and Greek) had been lost. The vernacular wasn't established until moveable type, 1450. It's all about codification. To my mind, Caxton is the most important figure in history. I'm just a printer but it seems to me that communication opens out, as Olson said, and we must, then, face our devils. Fixed versus whatever passes as the creole of the day, the patois of the moment, I never understood a word you said. It didn't matter. I really have to go. The light is gaining in the east. Read more...