flowers, humor, love, music, photography

Daylily & Chicory & Nat King Cole

Photographing wildflowers in my yard inspired new lyrics for a song about a couple “too young” to be in love.  While the original sweet lyrics came true for some couples, I did not marry young.  I still like that song’s lovely music and calm questioning of what “they” say, so I am glad to have lyrics that fit my situation.  Wish I could sing.

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haibun, haiga, haiku, humor, photography

Henley’s Indomitable Trees

One of the few nineteenth century poems that move me is Invictus by William Ernest Henley.  The poem’s spirit of unflinching defiance can be expressed in more contemporary ways.  (Henley’s way is still good.)  After one very contemporary way inspired by trees, we end with a quick riff on forms and freedom in poetry.
 
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© pivden | 123RF Stock Photo

An Oak Flips the Bird
|Storm splinters tree trunk
|and gets one-finger salute.
|Tree can still leaf out.

 
 
 

Henley’s indomitable trees are not all oaks.  On a short walk to see whether the oak that had flipped the bird could still leaf out, I saw a weeping willow that did not weep and a sugar maple that was not sweet.  Shrugging off storm damage, they both just leafed out.

 
 

 

IMG_5119_840x630

 
 

Quick Riff on Forms and Freedom

 

While not so terse as a haiku, Henley’s Invictus is about as direct and succinct as formal nineteenth century poetry can be.  I don’t feel expected to forgive contortions or digressions motivated more by adherence to an elaborate form than by the topic at hand.  Invictus sings, and part of the appeal is that its form does not feel like a burden.

In poetry and elsewhere, adherence to forms and rules is looser nowadays.  That’s a mixed blessing.  Robert Frost was basically correct when he said

Writing free verse is like playing tennis w/o a net.

Tho people often try, U can’t get good poetry by sprinkling obligatory line breaks on bad prose.  But there are some good poems in utterly free verse.  Here are links to a few that I saw while working on this post:

How To, humor

Trust, But Verify

Ronald Reagan’s remark about arms control is not an oxymoron, as I learned while coping with the discovery that my phone-friendly blog was not so friendly after all.  Able to handle mobile calls with a simple flip phone (and unable to type with my thumbs), I had seen no reason to have a smartphone and had trusted the WordPress previewer to warn me if a blog post would look bad there.  But then I bought a smartphone.
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Until recently, I used a desktop computer for all my online activities.  I surrendered to modernity in 2021-05 and bought a smartphone with a stylus that would make hunt-and-peck typing tolerable in short stints.  Now I use the new phone about 1% of my time online and have backup for coping with hazards like extended power outages.

Aware that many people do use their phones the way I use my desktop, I am careful to preview my blog posts as they would look on a phone.  Previews cannot be perfectly accurate, but I leave some pixels of wiggle room whenever I want everything in a line of text on my desktop to appear as a single line on the narrower screen of a phone.  The WP previewer displays a plausible phone rendering, and I change my draft as needed to make posts look OK on both desktop and phone.

Wanting to get used to my new phone w/o accidentally buying junk or installing malware, I installed my usual browser (Firefox) and browsed some familiar sites, including this blog.  Oops.  The fonts actually used were much larger than what I expected from the WP previews.  My posts were awash in weird line breaks and required absurdly much scrolling.

13204746 - dinosaur and comet, vector illustration

© Evgenii Komissarov | 123RF Stock Photo

I tried the popular Chrome browser and found that it also rendered text much too big.  After much thrashing around, I stumbled onto a simple way to make many of my posts look almost the same on my actual phone as they do in the WP phone preview.  Many, yes.  All, no.  Here is a screenshot of part of a recent post as viewed in phone mode on WP from my desktop:

PerpendicularPreview_phone-on-2014a_2021-06-18_Firefox_Framed

Here is the corresponding screenshot as viewed on the actual phone:

PerpendicularActual_phone_2021-06-18_Firefox_674x399_Framed

Yuck.  After comparing the screenshots, I revised the post to avoid rogue line breaks (and demystify how to access my blog’s widgets) on a phone.  Tentatively, I trusted the WP phone preview on my desktop.  When the revision seemed ready to go live, I switched to the phone, tweaked the revision (by hunt-and-peck typing) as needed to work on the actual phone, and only then hit the [Update] button.  Likewise with the [Publish] button for this post.  Trust, but verify.

Is there anybody else who uses a desktop (or tablet) and has been blindsided by a clash between how things should look on a phone and how they do look?  Here is the simple partial fix I stumbled upon.  Us dinosaurs gotta stick together.

The [Appearance] item appears most of the way down in the menu on the left side of WP site pages.  The click sequence

        [Appearance]
                [Customize]
                        [Fonts]

gave me a chance to change font sizes used to display posts.

Both [Headings] and [Base Fonts] had defaulted to [Normal] size.  I set them to [Small].  While this might make text too small in some browsers on some desktops, I am sure that anybody using a desktop has already gotten used to pressing Ctrl-Plus or Ctrl-Minus as needed.

humor, politics, seasons

Pulling a Calf

For late winter (also known as mud season), it was a nice day.  A few half-hearted snowflakes drifted down.  They vanished into the promise of spring wafting up from wet ground that had already thawed.  As I walked past a small farm about 2 miles from home, Everett called out: “Can U give me some help?”
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I knew Everett from his being the part-time mail carrier who sometimes drove my home’s rural route.  He was also a subsistence farmer who had veggie plots, chickens, and some goats who wandered at will despite attempts to corral them.  While the Houdini goats were cause for resigned amusement, the predicament of a cow and her calf was cause for anxiety.

Mama was a small cow whose tryst with a large bull had produced a calf too large for her birth canal.  Mama was lying on her side, with just the calf’s nose and front hooves protruding.  Neither Everett nor I knew how to contact and compensate a veterinary surgeon who might perform a bovine C-section on short notice, but Everett had a plan.

He had tied the middle of a rope around the hooves.  He would pull one end of the rope while another guy pulled the other end in the same direction, straight out from Mama.  I would be the other guy.  There was no mention of the possibility of pulling with a tractor, and Everett probably did not have a tractor anyway.

Rope fraying

© S. Silver | 123RF Stock Photo

Was it thin rope or thick twine?  Either way, it was old and frayed. (Before we started pulling, it was not quite so badly frayed as in the image above.)  As we pulled, I feared that either the rope would break or some boots would lose traction.  Either way, one or both of us would suffer an ignominious pratfall in the barnyard’s morass of mud and manure.

The rope held.  So did our boots.  Mama endured the ordeal with quiet stoicism, as her calf emerged slowly.  Both survived.

My one and only obstetric accomplishment was decades ago, long before the 2016 election saw the USA’s ignominious pratfall into what passes for conservatism nowadays: a morass of mud and manure, with quicksand too.

Along with many others now, I am once again pulling on a frayed rope.  Constitutional democracy has been badly frayed by dark money, gerrymandering, troll farms, and vote suppression.  Will it hold long enough to extract my country from the morass?  (We need two unlikely wins in Georgia on 2021-01-05 to flip the Senate.)  When the future looks bleak, I think back to Everett’s frayed rope.  We pulled; it held.

humor, photography, seasons

Four Months in the Hudson Valley

This post’s little ode takes some poetic license.  I really can do some of my raking in September (when some dingy leaves fall) and defer much of the rest (to after October).  But I cannot entirely avoid October raking.  The leaves blown into the garage would be above my ankles, and any dropped bolts or keys might never be seen again.
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The prophet month has come and gone:
|July foretold the fall.

prophet

Then August did its autumn tease:
|sly hints and that was all.

goldenrod_840x1130

September barked “Start raking leaves!”
|I did not hesitate.

RakeMe_sat-10_temp-22_840x630

October, just around the bend,
|was when such chores must wait.

Chiaroscuro_0_temp+6_tint-18_840x485

birds, flowers, haiga, haiku, humor, photography

Ozzie Had His Head on Straight

David Eppley’s photo of a bald eagle named Ozzie was among the fan favorites in the Weather Channel’s 2016 Photo Contest.  The same excellent photo inspired a haiku that can respond to a CDHK challenge about daffodils.  Really.
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Carpe Diem #1832 Narcissus (Daffodils)

DavidEppley_EagleDrinking_840x568

© David Eppley

Mythornithology
|When we saw himself,
|Narcissus forgot to drink.
|Eagle had more sense.

daffodils-close
Click here to see more images and read interesting facts about flowers in the genus Narcissus (AKA daffodils).

Click here to see more images from the Weather Channel’s 2016 Photo Contest.

humor, language, photography, science

Squirrel at the Center of the Universe

Science says there is no place special, so the center of a coordinate system can be any place convenient for the purposes of the moment.  While the fluidity of centrality would have freaked out Aristotle (and still induces some queasiness), squirrels take it in stride.
 
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Centre ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #247

«Hey, stupid!»
«My empty gut is the center of the universe.»
«Refill the “bird” feeder and I’ll do rest.»

Squirrels also take it in stride when
science says space has no special directions.

Do they chow down or chow up?

haiga, haiku, humor

Then and Now

From a CDHK challenge: «… create a haiku with the … “baransu” (balance) … technique … through association on the separated lines of the haiku.»  The challenge goes on to illustrate how an association with one of the ideas in each line can inspire the next line.  (Of course, it is also good to have some unexpected twists between lines.)  Here are two balanced haiku for an unbalanced world, with pivotal word(s) highlighted.
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Carpe Diem Exploring The Beauty Of Haiku #1828 Baransu (balance)

66503064_s

Pilgrim Then
|Shinto shrine ritual:
|wash hands before entering.
|Predates pandemic.

A ritual to purify the pilgrim. In Japanese, it's called

Carrier Now
|He rants with no mask.
|Virus-laden spit may fly
|beyond two meters.

8798951 - jet aircraft over the sea

Hmmm.  Now spit can fly beyond two megameters.

Image Credits

© David Carillet | 123RF Stock Photo

© leodaphne | 123RF Stock Photo

© farang | 123RF Stock Photo

 

humor, photography, politics

Lines Plan Their Day

«Let’s twist and ripple across the computer screen
in an exuberant pseudorandom dance
that won’t repeat for centuries.»

twist-ripple-bird_840x788

«Maybe tomorrow.  Still sore from yesterday.
I pulled red line duty and
people stepped on me as they crossed.»

red-line_840x344

«Hmmm.  Let’s just mark a few straight edges
of flat surfaces in the real world
until U feel better.»
«I’m up for that if we keep the angles simple.»

corner-grn-pink-align_800x564

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that I have improved the format of some silliness posted on 2018-05-01, in response to a challenge with the word [line].  The improvements appear above, in response to a new challenge:

Line ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #240

The bad news is that the serious undercurrent in my silliness is even more topical than before.  In so many high places in so many nations, fascists and their enablers have been stampeding across red lines.  One of many recent examples in the USA is Donald Trump’s order that hospitals bypass the CDC and send COVID-19 data only to a database run by Trump loyalists.  With predictable consequences.

After a rueful chuckle about how it feels to be a red line nowadays, we can get back to disinfecting surfaces and other little chores.  Like saving constitutional democracy.

Remember in November.

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haiku, humor, language

Squirrely Juxtaposition

In many a haiku poem, there is an unexpected juxtaposition of two contrasting ideas.  Much of the fun is in realizing how the ideas fit together in the context of the haiku.  Here is a 3-5-3 haiku with two ideas that U might expect to see juxtaposed, but not in this way.  I saw what I saw.
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Carpe Diem Exploring The Beauty Of Haiku #1826 Juxtaposition

flying-squirrel_crop_clone_840x294

Both in Sciuridae
|Chipmunk does
|rodenta yoga:
|flying squirrel.

Nerdy 😉 Notes

  1. When I first saw the chipmunk with belly down and legs spread out, it looked remarkably like a flying squirrel on a long glide.  Despite being well paid for modeling by seeds that fall from my bird feeder, the chipmunk did not hold the exact position while I fetched and focused the camera.the flying squirrel sketch vector graphics  picture
  2. While at least one yoga position is named for a kind of snake (the “cobra”), no position known to me is named for a kind of squirrel.  Too bad.  The chipmunk’s “flying squirrel” position is one that even I might be able to master, on the floor if not in the air.
  3. Wanna count syllables?  Where I live, the word [squirrel] has one syllable and rhymes with [swirl].  Elsewhere, it can have two syllables.  Maybe more.
flowers, humor, photography, seasons

Nothing Needed

Long ago, I bought some dwarf tulip bulbs and went thru the forcing rigamarole to get indoor blooming before planting the bulbs.  Nothing but leaves came up.  Feh.  Tossed the bulbs out back.  Guess what happened about a year later.
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Nothing ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #231

Yes, the bulbs survived and put out leaves.  And flower stalks.  Which bloomed.

Year after year, the discarded tulips bloom in spring, while I do nothing for them.  Maybe they are old Yankees like me: compulsively self-reliant.

(reblog), health, history, humor

Comedy Relief

As Abraham Lincoln said when somebody objected to his fondness for corny jokes during the Civil War:

«I laugh because I must not cry.»

So far, the COVID-19 crisis is still not as bad as the Civil War.  The USA survived that, partly because the POTUS was caring and competent.

Visit the post reblogged here to see a fine collection of cartoons and jokes.

Mitch Teemley

After performing tragedies, the ancient Greeks always staged comedies, often making fun of the tragedies they’d just presented. Why? Comedy relief. Likewise, humor flourishes during wars and epidemics. Morbidity? No, survival. When we’re under attack, we ridicule our attackers and tease ourselves. Why? Because it helps us cope, reminds us we’re in this together and, well, simply provides comedy relief. Those Greeks had it right.

Click on any image to enlarge it, or to start slide show.

Some Pandemic Humor found Online

  • I’ll tell you a coronavirus joke now, and check back in two weeks to see if you got it.
  • Finland has closed its borders. That’s right, no one is allowed to cross the finish line.
  • I ran out of toilet paper and had to start using the New York Times. Man, the Times are rough.
  • Kids who came of age during the millennium are called Millennials. With…

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health, humor

The Groan Ranger

This post’s title is a contemporary answer to an old conundrum: “Who was that masked man?”  A shorter answer is that he was (and is) me.  While I have no horse or silver bullets, I do try in my own small way to fight evil.  Fighting COVID-19 is trickier than fighting cattle rustlers.
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groan-ranger_840x869

Many people were already wearing masks when I shopped on 03-31.  Contrary to the usual guidance about colds and flu, the CDC now urges everybody to mask their nose and mouth if they must go out in public.  Asymptomatic people may still carry and spread the virus.

Long ago, I sometimes needed to wear the sort of paper mask that helps in a workplace where sawdust or bits of fiberglass are in the air.  I see many of them now, but I don’t have any.  I recall them being uncomfortable and prone to clogging.

So I improvised with a scarf that can be pulled up over my nose, much like bandanas worn by the Lone Ranger’s foes.  The pulled up scarf is tolerable and lets me breath freely.  Any nastiness not caught by the scarf will go straight down.  Any strangers fiddling with my belt buckle will deserve what they get.

Apart from guarding against the possibility that I might be an asymptomatic carrier, the combination of my scarf mask and sanitizer vest may make some ambient virus particles less infectious.  They will see me and laugh their coronas off.

 

health, humor

Flask, Rag, and Vest Fight COVID-19

The standard advice to wash hands frequently is worthwhile but leaves many gaps.  Goaded by the COVID-19 pandemic, I finally thought of a hack to fill the gaps.  Sharing the hack is one of the few ways I can fight back against the pandemic.
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The standard advice to wash hands frequently is worthwhile but leaves many gaps.  Suppose the restroom door swings inward, as it does in several markets I visit.  However well I wash while in the restroom, I can’t leave it w/o grabbing a handle whose last grabber may not have washed enough (if at all) to get the virus off his hands.  And so on.

flask-rag_840x678

When I must go shopping, I now carry a small flask of isopropyl alcohol (the active ingredient in hand sanitizers) and an absorbent rag or washcloth.  I can wipe my hands just before and/or after touching anything that might carry the virus.  I don’t need to sprint to a wipe dispenser and then toss a used wipe onto the pile that is already overflowing a wastebasket (if there even is a wastebasket there).

photo-vest_840x1294

The flask and damp rag fit nicely in a pocket of my photographer-style vest.  Don’t have or want such a vest?  Appropriate outer pockets are on many gadget bags, gym bags, purses, and so on.  Buying one may be easier than buying toilet paper.

haibun, haiku, history, humor, photography

Vertical Shoreline

How can a shoreline be vertical?  Well, steep cliffs can plunge nearly straight down into the sea.  There may be a cave entrance right at the actual shoreline.  Do we dare enter the cave?  Perhaps (to borrow a few words from Patrick Jennings’ Challenge #220) a beautiful light awaits us there.
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Shoreline ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #220

capri-cliffs_crop_840x1048_shrp+41

Is the sea at Capri’s shoreline still as clear now as it was when I was there in 1977?  I hope so.

capri-clear-water_crop_bri-8_bri-25_840x546

While we’re on the subject of clarity, let’s note that it is not clear whether the eponymous goats really did live on ancient Capri.  But it is clear that the island sited precursors of Mar-a-Lago for Imperial Rome’s fat tyrants.

From the outside, the Blue Grotto (Tiberius’ private pool) looks much like the (other?) grotto in my photo.  The view from inside is entirely different.

A cave entrance right at the shoreline can sometimes work magic.

capri-grotto-crop_HDR_bri-32

Blue Grotto (Capri) [edited image]

Capri Shoreline, Long Ago
|Goats traverse cliffs while
|pink whale swims in blue grotto.
|Naked emperor.

fiction, humor

Weird Works Wanted in 2020

While the image for this post may be funny or offensive (or both), it also hints at possibilities for responding to a call for submissions of weird stories for Volume 3 of an annual anthology.  (Previously published work is OK if the author retained the rights.)  The deadline is 2020-03-31.
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Volumes 1 and 2 of The Rabbit Hole have many good stories and some gems.  Links to those volumes are in the call for submissions for Volume 3, which I will just call “RH-3” below.  Here is an excerpt:

This year marks a new departure, in which we explore how ‘weird’ fits into a genre.  And we’re kicking off with ‘romance’.  Do your aliens fall in love?  Is your young hero consumed, swallowed and digested by desire?  Does your ageing husband bring his passion back to life only to find it’s not what he thought it would be?  The possibilities are endless.

Perhaps you never read romance.  Perhaps you’ve never written it.  So much the better!  Who knows what lies outside the box?  • • •

I’ll stop there.  You’ve got the idea.  In fact I’m sure you’ve got plenty, and you don’t need me to give you more.  Simply bear in mind that ‘weird’ doesn’t always mean outlandish – it can be subtle, discreet, even furtive.  Witty too, or burlesque – we’re always open to humour.  Or even, at a stretch, humor.  We look forward to discovering whatever means you choose to warp, subvert, disfigure, disguise or otherwise befuddle the concept of romance.

AliceAmsterdam_482x525

Image cropped from meme as posted 2015-10-07 by TheAnswerWasAlwaysMoreLube

I know.  A red light district is a weird place to look for romance.  Maybe U can make it work for RH-3.  Maybe a closer look at the image will suggest something else to try.

The line formed by Alice’s straight spine meets the line formed by her legs somewhere under that flouncy skirt.  Nobody on Earth has such long thighs.  Hmmm.  Maybe Alice is a Martian spy, practicing her skills before trying to seduce Earthian leaders into betraying our planet.  (They already do that, but not in ways that would benefit Martian colonists.)  Maybe interplanetary espionage will be kerbolixed by interplanetary romance when Alice moves on to the corridors of power.

I can’t think of a good way to use the idea of Alice as a Martian spy with a conflict between love and duty.  (It would not suffice to write a hackneyed conflict story and tack on some extraneous weirdness about how an Earthian and a Martian get it on.)  It is unlikely that RH-3 will include anything by me.  That’s no great loss, but it gets worse.  The medium with a laptop turned out to be a fraud, so RH-3 is also unlikely to include Lewis Carroll’s posthumously written Alice in Amsterdam.  Unless U can step up.