Household Gods

Somewhere back in the mid 1970’s my mother decided to attend night classes at our local junior college. I encouraged this ambition in the hope (futile, as it turned out) that she would get it out of her system before I graduated high school, as I was not altogether thrilled at the idea of finally starting college only to find my mother already there. Since I had recently acquired (on the second try) a shiny new driver’s licence, it became my job to drive her the mile or so from our home to the campus a couple of nights a week.

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Everybody’s a Critic

“Um, excuse me: did you know your zipper was undone?”

In a recent post in this blog I made some comments critical of the Obama administration’s policies toward official transparency and truthfulness in government, comments which have been interpreted as negative toward the administration as a whole. Yes, my observations were critical, but as we move into the silliness and bombast of this year’s general election, I think it’s very important to remember just what “critical” really means.

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Ticking like a Time Bomb.

I like to consider myself tolerant of other living things, even those I find a bit unpleasant, like houseflies and pomeranians, but there are limits to my generosity. Ticks fall somewhere on the far side of those limits.

Ticks are arachnids, related to mites (and very distantly to my friends, the spiders). There are actually three distinct families of ticks, but only one, the “hard ticks” or Ixodidae (from a Greek word meaning “sticky”), feed on humans and their animals.

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A Rose is a Rose is a Rose.

It has been pointed out to me that I seem to take a lot of pictures of flowers. Although there is no shortage of more active wildlife here in Winslow, I just don’t have the reflexes to get that perfect shot of a group of deer galloping away at thirty miles an hour, or a pileated woodpecker darting from tree to tree, or a fox or barred owl crossing my path an hour after sunset. So, yes, I photograph a lot of flowers. They don’t run away, they don’t bite, and they’re not likely to kick me in the head.

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Colonel Mustard, in the Library…

One-hundred seventy-one years ago, Edgar Allen Poe published his “Murders in the Rue Morgue”. A genre was born, and I, for one, am thankful. I do love a good detective story, now and then.

Poe’s investigator was an individual named Dupin, a “gentleman” in the most traditional sense of the word, a man of independent means who did not have to work for a living, but who could amuse himself however he chose: in this case, by investigating a sensational murder that he and his companion had been following in the press.

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Some Boys Never Learn.

The world has been treated, over the last several days, to a somewhat embarrassing overlap between two of the world’s oldest professions: those of the Fighting Man and the Working Girl.

A group of Secret Service agents and associated military personnel have been removed from their duties pending the investigation of allegations that the men, part of a 200-member team visiting Cartagena, Colombia, in preparation for a visit by President Obama for the Summit of the Americas, hired prostitutes from a strip club and brought them back to their hotel.

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Happy New Year.

The wind is rushing around outside like — well, think of your favorite simile: the ocean; a herd of buffalo; a horde of flying monkeys.

Many of the trees around here are almost fully leafed out, so tonight they’re all tuned up for the wind to play; meanwhile the dying hackberry tree (badly burned two years ago) at the eastern end of the cabin is groaning and creaking like an arthritic ogre, adding to the ruckus. Twice tonight I’ve heard what I thought sounded like a freight train and panicked, trying to figure out how to lure Rusty and Sebastian into the basement before it was too late, only to realize that it really wasa freight train, carrying a load of gravel through the tunnel that runs for about a quarter-mile under this mountain.

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