AVOIDING TROUBLE FINDS TROUBLE

Ordinarily, when you write an introductory paragraph, you have already arrived at some sort of conclusion, and you are just preparing for the body of the writing which will develop along preordained lines and arrive at the preordained conclusion. However, I haven’t figured everything out, so this is more of a diary entry. It just describes a bad day, which, like most bad days, has a funny side.

I suppose I should begin with a description of my bad mood. I’ll try (and likely fail) to keep it short.

I have been perplexed by the fact a single letter can alter the word “weeding” to “wedding” and make such a difference. “Weeding” no one wants to help with; you have to pay people to help, but “wedding” sparks more generous impulses. Everyone wants to help.

It just so happens I am far more serious than usual about my vegetable garden this year. Usually I can laugh, if the experiment results in amazingly fertilized weeds towering eight feet tall. I just notch it up to experience. “Next year I’ll handle weeding differently.”

But this year is different, with people’s retirement savings shrinking by 50% even as their retirement costs increase by 50%. I myself am not retired, but at age 69 most of my friends are, and I am well aware this is a disaster for people who worked long and hard, and trusted the “system”. It now looks like the “system” was not trustworthy.

With inflation so bad, people are looking for things to invest in that will not lose value. Some take their money from stocks and invest in gold. I don’t have that much money and own no stocks, but I invest in a sort of gold I dig from the dirt, called “carrots”. I am a gold miner.

How is this a good investment? Actually, it is a bad investment, at April rates. You see, if I plant eight feet of carrots it will see me and my wife through next winter, and I can handle weeding eight feet. But not thirty-two feet. Thirty-two feet involves hiring weeders, which raises the cost of the carrots. At April rates such carrots would be absurdly expensive, perhaps as much as ten dollars a pound. But, with the Swamp malfunctioning so grotesquely, April rates don’t even apply to June. In a worst-case scenario, carrots might be a hundred dollars a pound by November, in which case my bad investment mysteriously becomes a good one.

I have planted long rows of all sorts of stuff which will be handy to have, if we are in dire straits by Autumn, but I’m having a hard time finding workers. It’s hard enough finding workers for my Childcare, which pays my bills, and the extra work of the garden stresses me out.

Worst is that few see things as dire as I am seeing them, (though a few are starting to come around to my way of seeing). Most townsfolk are wonderful, for nothing phases them. They can be buffeted by life, and they are like the “Whos in Whoville”, who were not bothered when the “Grinch” stole Christmas and they sang carols anyway. I like such people very much, and they are one reason I plant extra carrots. A carrot might be a nice gift to give them, next Christmas.

But just because I like and admire them doesn’t mean I should have to give up on my garden. And that is the point where the frustration and irritation start to perturb my mind, and I find myself grumbling to God. And praying He help me stop muttering to my Maker, and instead sing “This is the day the Lord has made” when I arise.

But I want to garden yet am under a sort of pressure to be a family man and do family stuff, for example attend a grandchild’s ballgames. Not that it is a bad thing, especially when the class displayed by both the players and the crowd (on both sides) makes professional athletes look shameful. It was an excellent game, 2-0 with tension in every inning, and my grandson’s team came out on top.

Yet the whole time I’m thinking about my garden. I’m even thinking that, if I really cared, I’d sacrifice the ballgame for the garden. After all, it would be a terrible thing if my grandchild lacked a carrot next January, and it was my fault.

Thinking along these lines not only sours a delightful ballgame; it sours life in general. I was frowning at speeches at a granddaughter’s graduation. And it even was souring the approaching wedding of my daughter. I felt divided and irked by the fact my help was wanted even as few would help me. For example, the wedding involved all sorts of stuff arriving via UPS and Amazon, which resulted in a towering stack of cardboard boxes at the Childcare. Someone had to take them all to the recycling center, and that someone was me. It intruded upon my Saturday “day off” schedule of weed, weed, weed, transplant, and weed, and I confess to being a bit frosty, when I was asked to dispose of the cardboard. But I did it, muttering to my Maker. And my reward?

Lydia, my lone surviving goat, who lives a life as pampered as a cat, chose to use the time I was absent from the farm to carefully pick her way through all sorts of edible weeds to my pride and joy, (and favorite vegetable), some cauliflower plants which promised to grow heads a foot across, and chomped them down to mere stubs protruding from the earth.

All my warm feelings towards that goat vanished, and I considered turning her to goat-burgers. In other words, I was becoming unreasonable. It didn’t help when someone stated I should not blame the goat and instead should tend to my fences. Like I have time! I can’t even weed, when there isn’t rain and I have to water my long rows, in which case I am also watering the weeds!

In a way that could be my motto for the past two years: “Like I have time!”. Just as I have to choose between weeding and watering, there have been all too many situations wherein, in doing one thing, I neglect another.

For example, last week I took my 2000 Jeep Cherokee to the local garage because the brakes of the old clunker were making a scraping sound, (“Like I have time for this!”) and, while fixing the brakes the mechanic observed the vehicle wasn’t inspected. I felt a sort of shock. That was a job I should have done in February! The fellow said he could inspect it quickly, if I had the registration, but, when I checked the registration, I realized the vehicle was also unregistered. How could I miss that!? Thinking back, I vaguely recalled attempting to do it on-line, but running into some glitch where the computer refused to cooperate. Somehow that exasperating attempt manufactured a feeling in my mind that the effort had been made and the job was done, when it wasn’t. (I recall wondering why nothing came in the mail, and no money vanished from my account.) In any case, I told my mechanic I’d be back in a few days, when I found time to stop in at the Town Office and register the Jeep.

In case you are wondering how I could drive around unregistered and uninspected, blame the coronavirus. Our small-town police-chief has had between two part-time officers, and zero part-time officers. An airhead like myself could drive about in flagrant violation of the law and never be reprimanded.

Come to think of it, the coronavirus had me as hard-pressed as our police-chief, as I kept a Childcare open despite the Swamp’s efforts to shut everything down. However, that was old news, and we are facing new news, which is crazy inflation and crashing markets and the fact we might be running out of food by November. Thank you, Brandon.

However, my little town, in its efforts to recover from the coronavirus, had recently sworn in three young officers to help the chief. They were from out of town, which meant they had no understanding of why an old coot like me might be driving around with no registration and no inspection. (I mention this to create what is called “Foreshadowing”)

My first dim awareness that things had changed occurred when I was trying to snatch a nap after lunch on a day when I had to cover for an absent worker at the Childcare in the morning. Though I lay down I never napped. First, I got a call that a child had a finger caught in a sleighbell at the Childcare. (The metal had a hole created by turning metal inward, which allowed a little finger to slip in, but caught the finger when it tried to slip out.) As the child was weeping, this was a critical crisis, but the adroit use of tip snips freed the finger, and I settled back to nap. Then a second call disturbed me to remind me to attend my grandson’s championship game. I already knew that. And then the third interruption was a loud crashing, scraping sound in front of my house. When I blearily went to the window, I noted the driver leaving the car and running away. It looked like his car was not pulled-over to the side, but was in the middle of the lane on a sharp curve.

I gave up on my nap and went outside to see. Yes, he was stopped in the center of his lane, on a dangerous curve. His jury-rigged tie rods had failed and dropped his front axle on the right side, flattening a tire. I dialed 911 and reported the situation, and then directed traffic, including two school buses, to avoid people pulling out into the opposite lane (to get around the stopped car) from crashing headlong into cars coming the other way around the sharp curve. Most people assumed the car was my car and asked me if I needed help. That irked me a bit. It was like I was getting blamed. I figured I was actually a sort of minor hero, though I was mostly irked I hadn’t napped and might be late to my grandson’s game. But rather than the chief taking twenty minutes to arrive as usual, a young officer arrived in only ten minutes followed by two more five minutes later.

The young officers seemed inexperienced, as if it was the first time they’d seen such a predicament and weren’t exactly certain of how to handle it by-the-book. Likely it wasn’t covered in school. They disagreed about the correct procedure and seemed to be a little rude to each other, and also to me. One fellow was offended by my inability to describe the driver, who I’d only blearily and briefly glimpsed through a screen. I supposed they were learning on the fly, dealing with their own inexperience in such situations, but I vainly thought I myself had handled the situation pretty well, without schooling. I shrugged, left them to their learning, and went to get ready to my grandson’s game.

By the time I came back out to hop in my Jeep and leave for the game the officers had set out cones and positioned the two policecars, with lights flashing to alert traffic to the problem. They also were dealing with the driver, who had returned with the help he’d run off to find. Rather than understanding this was how we deal with problems in our rural way, they were giving him a hard time for “leaving the scene of an accident.” I blithely forgot that my sticker was expired, cheerfully waving while weaving my way through all the parked vehicles on the curve to go to the game. The police were too busy to notice the criminal in their midst.

(This is further foreshadowing.)

To skip ahead past the delightful ballgame, the next day found my reason failing. I was at the point described as, “losing all reason.” The goat eating my cauliflower was just the final straw. Further irritations came from things which should have pleased me. For example, all my hard work, (and the cool weather) resulted in a bountiful growth of lettuce. How could that irk me?

Well, I was irked because having all that lettuce meant I had work more, figuring out who to give it to, and how to do it. Would I never be free of further work? In a fit of independence, after taking all the boxes to the recycling center I decided the heck with both weeding and weddings, and drove to a local greenhouse to buy cauliflower seedlings. It was very selfish of me, but I do like cauliflower.

Even though I was civil and polite with the industrious woman who sells seedlings, part of my mind was in rebellion. Despite all my religion I was thinking of nasty and hurtful ways to make the point that I felt like I was giving and never getting. Even my goat was against me.

It was as I returned from the greenhouse with cauliflower seedlings waving from the dashboard, grumbling to God because I knew I was thinking nasty and hateful thoughts, and suggesting He should have created creation and me differently, that I passed one of the young policemen, heading the other way, eager to prove he was good at enforcing the law. As I continued up the road, I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw his lights come on, and thought, “I hope that’s not for me. I hope he got called to another crisis.” Just then I saw a little lane ahead. It occurred to me that if I pulled into that lane I’d be out of his way if he was off to another crisis, and also that, if he was after me, he might not find me. Big mistake.

He must have turned around with adroitness I never expected. Last thing I saw in my rear-view mirror he was headed the opposite way. I was pretty much pulled into the narrow, shaded lane, but the butt of my old jeep was still visible from the main road, when I heard the police car’s modern siren make that weird noise sirens now make. It reminds me of the flying saucer in one of the first video games, (“Space Invaders”); (twenty-five cents per game, in 1969.) I figured he had seen me, and was after me, so I pulled over.

The young man came whizzing into the side lane practically on two wheels and had to brake hard to avoid smashing into me. The lane was a narrow one. He stopped dead center in the street, blocking traffic both ways. I thought he looked a little flushed as he came to my window. Pulling me over was likely the most exciting thing he’d seen, in our sleepy little town. An actual pursuit!

He asked me for my license and registration and I sighed deeply for I knew the registration was expired. I deserved a ticket. Instead, I got arrested and handcuffed.

It happened like this: He asked me, “Why did you accelerate into this lane?”

“I did not accelerate.”

“But why pull into this lane?”

I said, “I know people who live down this lane,” which was no lie, but for some weird reason I decided God would not like it if I insinuated that I had pulled into the lane to see an old friend, so I added, “But if you want the truth, I was hoping to avoid you.”

“You saw my lights?”

“Yes”.

I noticed the young man’s face became much redder, and thought to myself, “Big Mistake.”

He announced, “I am going to have to ask you to step from the car. You are under arrest for resisting arrest.”

“What!!!???”

“I have to cuff you and take you to the station and charge you.”

“This is rediculous.” But, as it seemed I’d be resisting arrest if I said I wasn’t resisting arrest, I got out of my Jeep and was told to stand facing my Jeep, and, at age 69, for the first time in my life, felt cold steel clamp around my wrists. I did say, “Aren’t you supposed to read me my rights, or something like that,” and the officer replied, “We do that at the station.”

I think I may have been the first person the young fellow had the chance to handcuff, for they were much too tight. But I now commend him for choosing an old geezer to practice on, and not some drug-addled musclebound punk of nineteen who was full of hormones. (Having run a Childcare, I know even when you have another’s hands under control, considerable damage can be done to your nose with a forehead, even by a four-year-old). But I didn’t butt, and instead, despite the pain in my wrists, was extremely polite and well-behaved. The young man was swept up in a whirlwind of procedure, making the correct reports on his radio, and asking me all the correct questions, and seemed so inexperienced and over-his-head I did my best to be helpful. I sat as he wanted, in the rear of his police car.

I must say that seat is designed to be uncomfortable. Hard plastic. No cushions. No place you want to sit with your hands behind your back. I sat sort of sideways, as the pain in my wrists diminished slightly when I sat that way, and I must have looked uncomfortable. The young officer suddenly paused and asked me, “Do those cuffs hurt?”

“Yes.”

“Well, if you agree to obey, I can cuff your hands in front.”

“Sure. I’ll agree. Don’t worry. I’m a good guy.”

(There may have been some sarcasm hidden in my statement, for policemen are supposed to capture bad guys, and perhaps I was suggesting he had arrested the wrong guy. But never mind that. Such subtlety was over Barney Fife’s head.)

In a fit of unexpected compassion, the young officer unhandcuffed me and then re-handcuffed me with my hands in front of me. As I held my wrists forward to be re-handcuffed the red dents in my skin caused by the prior handcuffing were plain to see, and he handcuffed more gently the second time. Live and learn. I am proud to be part of the education of a young officer.

But the world sure does look different from the back of a police care, on your way to the station to be booked. My fret about the one letter difference between “weeding” and “wedding”, and the crises about carrots, cauliflowers and lettuce, abruptly seemed removed and far away.

I did remember to consult God, which I was glad to see myself do. Usually, when I am abruptly in some tornado outside my ordinary experience, I forget the very One I should be thinking of, and instead am engrossed by the interesting turn my life has taken. Even if I stepped into an elevator with no floor, and was falling to my doom, rather than my final words being “Oh God” I fear they would be “Oh Shit!”. But in this bizarre situation I actually did remember God, and my conversation was a mix of “What is going on?” and “Help!”

Next, I got to see how hardened criminals are treated at police stations. I was handcuffed to a bench for around an hour as legalities were attended to: What were the actual charges, and what bail should be set, and who would be my bail-bondsman. One of my hands was released so I could sign certain papers, but my other hand remained handcuffed. I asked the young officer if he could allow me to use my cellphone to take a picture of my handcuffed hand, and he said it would be OK. (I was thinking it would make my blog more interesting than pictures of my hand, picking green lettuce.)

(By this point I think I had persuaded the young officer I was not a dangerous threat, and actually am a kindly old man. I thanked him when he brought me a glass of water. I mean a plastic cup of water. (Glass would obviously be too dangerous.) And I found things to chat about. For example, as he fingerprinted me, using old-fashioned ink, I told him that when I got fingerprinted by the state police because the state requires it for my Childcare, they had a new-fangled, ink-free computer screen to press fingers on. He begrudged our town couldn’t afford that update yet.

Mentioning my Childcare made him curious, and he asked me a few unprofessional questions pertaining to my Childcare and not my case, and I cheerfully regaled him with a few recent episodes.

As I studied the three sets of fingerprints he was required to take, I mentioned my prints sure had a lot of scars, but that I supposed I hadn’t kept track of all the cuts my fingertips have received, as a hands-on sort of worker, now pushing seventy. (Too much information? Not sure. I was painting a self-portrait for the young man, hopefully making him feel a little ashamed for handcuffing such a sweet, old man.)

We even joked a little. He had to ask me a long list of careful questions he read from a sheet of paper, such as, “Do you have diabetes, high blood-pressure, cancer…” and so forth, an then he paused, looked at me, and said, “I’ve got to ask these…Are you pregnant?” I made some politically incorrect comment that made him laugh, though he said nothing, because we were being automatically filmed by a camera by the ceiling, and cancel culture is so rampant even policemen obey unwritten laws.

Next I had to raise bail, which involved getting a bondsman. After a long wait my tax accountant came walking in, and cheerfully said, “Hi Caleb.” As I replied, “Hi Brenda,” the young officer looked surprised. I added, “I got in trouble trying to avoid trouble. Sorry you had to drive all this way on a Saturday.”

Brenda replied, “No trouble. I have another job, next town over, so I have to drive down this way anyway.”

The young officer looked mystified. How could such a familiarity be? Was I such a habitual criminal that I knew the bail bondsman on a first name basis? (In an area of small towns a single person can have five or six jobs.)

After that we were pretty much done. The station-computer produced twelve sheets of paper and I signed five of them. The other seven involved my rights, and a form to fill out if I wanted court-appointed lawyer, (involving a lengthy interrogation about my income), and lastly the date of my arraignment.

The officer also gave me two warnings, one for no inspection and one for no registration. I stated I’d take care of it right away.

Then he said he’d drive me back to my jeep. He could only then return the boxcutter I’d had in my back pocket. I joked, “Now I have to think of what I’m going to tell my wife.”

He looked curious. “What are you going to tell her?”

“I’m thinking maybe I won’t go home.”

(To be continued)

(Memory: in 1985, out west, I asked a Navajo how he dared drive around without plates, and he replied, “Do they make your car drive any better? Your white-man-laws are stupid.”)

DON’T MOW THE DAISIES

When I was a small boy in the 1950’s our next-door neighbor was a man who struck me as a bit spooky, likely because he lived a frightening life. He was somehow involved with designing a missile which was supposed to blow up Russian missiles as they approached with an atomic warhead, an antimissile-missile. He therefore knew too much about the doom which superpowers flirted with at that time, and how close we were to war, and the fact his factory was a prime target, and that he himself might be a target of the KGB. Lastly, he was forbidden to talk to anyone about what likely scared him. He had good reason to walk around looking spooked. But, as a merciless child, I just found him creepy.

One habit he had was to walk about his lush, green yard hunched over, a weed digger in hand, peering about like a hawk for dandelions. He was death on dandelions, and his yard was nothing but grass. He would look in dismay over our yard, which held very little grass, and was largely trampled dirt, white clover, and dandelions. His dismay was greatest when our dandelions went to seed, and the seeds became airborne, heading towards his pristine lawn.

In my eyes they looked like little parachutes, but in his eyes, they probably approached like Russian missiles. I felt like, if looks could kill, I’d be dead, though he probably was directing is murderous gaze at our lawn and not at me.

In any case I grew up feeling there was something not quite right about people who fussed too much about dandelions on their lawns, and in the 1960’s, in the emerald suburbs of Boston, I felt I was in a distinct minority. For some reason people bought into the belief a lawn was contaminated if it included anything but grass.

I was not entirely against this belief, for I could make jingling silver dimes and quarters if I rid people’s lawns of weeds such as dandelions, but I also couldn’t muster much loathing towards the dandelions I pulled, due to my father. As a doctor, he was aware many weeds have uses in medicine, and he was always curious about such medicinal benefits. He might pluck a dandelion leaf and say, “This stuff is like bitter lettuce and is loaded with vitamins; folk used to eat it in the spring to recover from a long winter; they say it is good for your guts.”

Or he might look at another disdained weed such as plantain:

And he’d say, “This stuff is loaded with vitamins too, but tastes a bit mushroomy. When I was a kid boys used to chew it and smear the chewed cud on cuts and rashes, saying it made healing faster. I wonder if there’s any truth to that?”

In any case, I had a different attitude towards a weedy lawn than most suburbanites, and in the 1970’s tended to side with the tree-huggers who were violently opposed to pesticides and herbicides, but who also were generally too poor to live in suburbs and have any lawns. The people with lawns kept seeking the perfect lawn, which was a lawn free of any plant but grass. This eventually led to weedkillers such as “Roundup”, which may or may not have caused cancer in gardeners and suburbanites, (and has made many lawyers wealthy).

Rather than exploiting this lucrative longing for the perfect lawn, I, as a landscaper, tended to attempt to convince people to skip the bother of seeking such perfection, claiming Mother Nature knew what to grow and grew it, and it wasn’t wise to mess with Mother Nature.

One time a customer was bothered by moss. I charged her only twenty a week to mow her lawn, for the grassy part was small and the mossy part never really needed mowing, except for now and again because some invasive grass might send up a few strangling strands. But then the customer, who tended to worry too much, began to press me to work more, promising to pay more. When I explained the moss grew because her beautiful shade trees made so much shade it created a habitat more suited for moss than for grass, she worried I might just be lazy and making up excuses to avoid extra work.

I had to then be careful, for it is not good practice to offend a customer. I shrugged and said maybe she was right. I would look into finding a grass that grew well in the shade. If I found one, I could then rip up the most beautiful moss lawn in town and attempt to replace it with an ordinary grass lawn. Lastly, I added it would likely cost hundreds of dollars to do; far more than the twenty per week I ordinarily charged. Then I promised to get back to her. (I had hopes the way I said “the most beautiful moss lawn in town” might make her think twice.) Her response was to say she’d be making inquiries of her own.

When I stopped in to mow her lawn the next week, (far too busy to have done the investigating I had hoped to do for her), she greeted me with a surprisingly broad smile, and told me she had asked a friend about moss in lawns. Much to her surprise she discovered her friend had paid a landscaper to make her front lawn be moss. It had cost her friend ten thousand dollars. I laughed and said my customer’s much-larger lawn must be at least a twenty-thousand-dollar lawn, (which is what we called it, from then on). Rather than being embarrassed by her mossy lawn my customer became proud of it.

This only added to my feeling that all-grass lawns were merely a fad and fashion, fleeting and due to a copycat tendency among suburbanites, wherein somebody somewhere says something is “politically correct”, and everyone else follows without asking why.

Now I’m old and run a Childcare whose playground is thick sod enriched by two hundred years of manure from farm animals. It is likely 50% grass, but much grass is not lawn grass, but rather is rank grass like witch-grass, or seasonal like crabgrass. The rest of the lawn is perhaps 30% white clover, and 20% an assortment of many plants which can withstand mowing. This includes the aforementioned dandelions and plantain, but also many swift wildflowers which can survive mowing, though their flowers can’t.

This brings me to an interesting detail in many old poems, written back in the day when mowing was done by sickles and scythes. Often it is merely a passing mention, an aside, but it adds a certain mood or flavor to the poem. It is that, in the business of cutting grass, the grass-cutter avoids cutting a blooming (or even merely budding) bunch of wildflowers. In “Ode to Autumn” John Keats mentions,

...While thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers...

Now, rather than using a sickle or scythe, I whiz about in a rider mower. I might not be able to write like those old masters, but I can mow better than they, and also, I can spare flowers with the best of them.

This is especially true of daisies. A few years back I noted their foliage is very different from the look of other plants on the lawn, and that, by swerving my mower, I could avoid cutting a patch of two. This led to a patch or two of daisies waving in the wind, for a few weeks, before they became brown and ugly and I mowed them down and the lawn reverted to a lawn in its entirety.

This experiment was such a success I expanded it. This was partially due to the fact the daisies spread, and partially due to the fact I left areas too small to be edged by a big rider mower for edging with a smaller hand mower. Rather than two patches I wound up with many more.

This was wildly successful for two reasons. The first is that it looks very nice, for a couple of weeks, after which it starts to look very ugly, and I mow it all down. During the two weeks it looks nice I receive many compliments for flowers I did not plant.

But the second reason is because the lawn, being the playground of a Childcare, is full of children, and it is fascinating to see them interact with the daisies.

Early on I do teach them not to rip off the buds, explaining they soon will be flowers, but once the flowers are blooming there are so many daisies that I let the children pick all they want. Children seem to like this. They get to pick blooms without being scolded for it.

Also, because the daisies grow in patches, and I use the hand mower to cut pathways between the patches, the children skip up and through and around the daisies inventing all sorts of imaginative scenarios only young minds can envision.

Daisies become a wonderful playground toy, better (and cheaper) than any “education stimulating” plastic object on the market, and good for my teachers as well, for they have only to stand back and watch. The daisies are the curriculum. I also like to just stand back and watch the children in the sun.

What is interesting to me is that rather than something I did, this is due to what I didn’t do. Where I could have mowed, I did not mow.

FIGHTING SHADOWS

I wanted to see what Tony Heller had observed at his site “Real Climate Science” recently, so, using the “Bing” search engine, I typed in realclimatescience.com, assuming that the actual site would be the first thing the search engine linked to. Then I clicked the first site Bing linked to. Much to my surprise, despite the misleading heading, I was not linked to Tony Heller’s site, but some site called, “realclimatescience-com.votted.net”.

Don’t go there. First, all sorts of pornographic pop-ups appear. This might have distracted me if I was young and lusty, but I am no longer so inclined, and in fact the pop-ups made me quit the site on my phone, because as hard as I tried to delete the pop-ups they kept popping up. I could never get to what the site was all about because of all the buxom women. So, I used my lap top.

My laptop has protection, which immediately informed me the site was loaded with “malware”. No buxom women appeared.

Obviously, “realclimatescience-com.votted.net” was not a site I would call “good”, but at this point I became curious as to whether the site might in any way lead me to Tony Heller’s site. On my laptop, using my laptop’s protection, I eluded the buxom women popping up all over the place, and arrived at the actual meat of the site, and, to the best of my ability, could find no way to Tony Hellar’s site.

I did find a way, further down on Bing’s list, but that does not raise Bing, in my esteem. Rather it is proof they should be ahamed of themself (or themselves.)

How can you call yourself a “search engine?” When the exact lettering of a specific website, “realclimatescience.com”, does not bring up the actual website? But rather brings up a complete distraction? Called “realclimatescience-com.votted.net”?

But does the shame stop there? Does Bing ever get around to a link with the actual site “realclimatescience.com”? I looked a little further, and just about blew a blood-vessel. The third link Bing listed was just about the most pro-Global-Warming and pro-government site there is, “Climate Science.” Furthermore, “Climate Science” got a full spread of their site, which seems odd when you did not want their view, but rather Tony Heller’s opposing view.

So I moved on and, at long last, sixth on the list, arrived at a site that actually linked to Tony’s site, though, being a fair-minded individual, the site’s creator also linked to “snow white,” a notorious data-manipulator who would rather “win” than honor Truth.

But the odd thing was that Bing never linked to the actual site, “Real Climate Science.” Or maybe they did, but it was so far down on their list of links I lacked the time to find it.

There is something very wrong when a search engine fails to “mention” the person, thing, or website you are actually searching for.

These are the shadows we are fighting with.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Polar Solar Controller–

I think that, when people first start to pay attention to sea-ice, they tend to be shocked by the amazing amount of melting that occurs every summer. I know I was. Initially it dismayed me, for it seemed to fit into the narrative of man-caused Global Warming, but then I looked deeper, and studied history, and became aware such melting occurred every summer, as far back as records go. For example, back in the early Cold War records of military outposts out on the sea-ice, (in places like Fletcher’s Ice Island), there are requisitions for hip-waders, because the slush got so deep in July. In any case, my alarm turned to wonder.

My wonder increased when I became aware of a fascinating factoid. The North Pole actually receives more heat on a given day than the equator, during the height of summer. This seemed impossible, and it was difficult for me to get my mind around the idea, for the sun at noon on the equator is so hot that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out into it. Meanwhile at noon at the Pole the sun (at the equanox) is only at 23.5 degrees, and beats down with nowhere near the intensity.

However, that is only at noon. At a location in an equatorial time zone where the sun rises at 6:00, by 4:45 in the afternoon it has sunk to 22.5 degrees, and is actually lower than the polar sun, and at 6:00 it is setting, and abruptly not shining at all. The next morning it rises at 6:00, but is lower than the polar sun until 7:30. Meanwhile the polar run rolls around and around the horizon, neither rising nor setting (visibly), but simply shining from 23.5 degrees constantly. What this means is that the equatorial sun only outshines the polar sun nine hours a day, and the other fifteen hours the polar sun dominates the scorecard. In essence it is like the race between the tortoise and the hare. The equator races ahead for a while, but the plodding Pole wins the race.

I found an interesting chart which shows how powerful the Polar sun gets in terms of Watts per square meter per day. The first chart shows that by around May 12 the Pole is matching the equator, with both areas receiving around 412 w/m2.

By June 2 the Pole has increased to over 500 w/m2, while the equator has actually decreased slightly (due to the sun drifting north towards the Tropic of Cancer.)

By the equinox the Pole is receiving 550 w/m2 a day while the Equator dips below 400 w/m2, at which point we should ask ourselves, “Why aren’t palm trees growing at the Pole?”

Or at least we should ask, “Why doesn’t the sea-ice melt completely?”

The answer is that it very nearly does. When we look at the “volume” graph it swiftly becomes apparent that a colossal amount, roughly 20,000 km3, melts every year, leaving barely 5,000 km3. I’d like to see a calculation involving how much heat is used up simply moving all that water through the phase change from solid to liquid, changing available energy into potential energy, without changing the actual temperature a single degree. A fabulous amount of heat must be sucked up. Of course, all that heat is released when the phase change goes the other way in the autumn, and roughly 20,000 km3 of sea-ice is recreated. But that is what is so fabulous and wonderful about the yearly undulations.

The downward blips in this year’s line in the above graph occur because some goodly surges of thicker-than-usual sea-ice have been expelled down through Fram Strait, especially compared to last year. (In fact some of the ice was thicker precisely because it was held back last year.) This will effect the Atlantic to the south, which I may wonder about later in this post, but the focus of this current wondering is the enormity of the melting that goes on up there every summer.

Back when I was first learning about sea-ice I liked to peruse old aerial photos of the polar ice. I noted some showed meltwater pools that formed wandering channels on their way to some weakness in the sea-ice, where the water vanished down through a crack or a hole. At times these channels would approach a hole in the sea-ice from all sides, creating a look like a spiderweb, except spiderwebs don’t usually have so many branches, nor do webs get smaller and finer, away from the center of the web. I also noted that as soon as the sea-ice began to crack up these ice-geological formations ceased to be, and even meltwater pools found it harder to grow to a significant size. I was not particularly political; I was merely observing.

In those days there were wonderful cameras drifting about the Arctic Sea, sending us pictures via satellite. In 2013 the “North Pole Camera” witnessed the formation of a particularly splendid meltwater pool. Here is a time lapse of that pool’s creation:

The media got wind of the pool and dubbed it “Lake North Pole” and suggested it was alarming, leading to sensationalist posts on websites such as “Treehugger”. Here is a post from that time from their archive, (although it lacks a little of its authenticity because they “updated” it in 2021.)

https://www.treehugger.com/north-pole-melts-forms-lake-at-top-of-the-world-4861963

At the time I commented at the “Treehugger” site what I had observed from aerial photos, stating the sea-ice was particularly thick at the “Lake North Pole” location, or else the water would have drained down through a hole or a crack, and adding such drainage likely would soon happen. To my astonishment my comment was deleted. It was not rude or scornful at all, but I suppose my observations did oppose the idea the meltwater pool was especially alarming. I felt a little sad about being excluded from an interesting discussion, but there were other websites where discussion was allowed, so I abandoned “Treehugger.” Also, I had started an obscure website of my own, and could post observations (even silly ones) to my heart’s content there.

Shortly thereafter a crack or hole did form, and Lake North Pole vanished in a twinkling. Furthermore, the NorthPole Camera showed the buoy draped in a fresh fall of snow. The media lost interest with amazing speed, but I noted my observations, and got quite a surprise. My obscure website, which seldom got more than 20 views, abruptly got 300 in a few hours. Here is the post where it happened, and I haven’t “updated” it, so it retains authenticity.

Considering my writing had brought me nothing but rejection slips for a half century, perhaps it is understandable that I was swayed by the attention I received. But it is also a little embarrassing, looking back, especially because I was not an authority. I was merely an observer, and wondered about what I was witnessing, and while I had been right about Lake North Pole vanishing some of my other conclusions were dead wrong, and I to admit it, which is never much fun (unless you are among especially good-hearted people.)

A lot of good discussion occurred, and I met good people who corrected me and who also shared wonderful observations of their own, but, sadly, there were also people who could never confess their conclusions were dead wrong. “Winning” the debate was more important to them than seeing the Truth. I think “winning” became overriding because “winning” brought money, fame, and power among a particularly repulsive bunch, now disparaged as “The Swamp”. In my view the “winners” sold their souls to the devil, and lost their grip on Truth, which is beauty and power and all we need.

In any case, a decade has now past, and now if you type “Lake North Pole Vanishes” into the “Bing” search engine you will see it is I who have vanished. In the “google” search engine “Lake North Pole Vanishes” still allows my old post to come up as around the eighth link, but if you search “Lake North Pole” I am nowhere to be found, even ten to twenty pages in. “Arctic Sea-ice” will not find me either, which is ironic, because initially I put “Arctic Sea-Ice” as a heading to all my sea-ice posts because it originally tended to raise my standing on search engines.

This is sad, for being shadow banned in this manner gets in the way of having discussions with non-political people who simply want to share observations, and to wonder. Now it seems hard to find that sort of innocent discussion. And at times all current wondering seems to be about political ploys, rather than about the sea-ice at all. But there is a good side to being shadow banned as well.

The good side? I suppose it is that I was originally drawn to sea-ice for reasons that had little to do with drawing attention to myself. The focus was upon sea-ice, not me. But once you become infatuated with “clicks” you unconsciously gravitate towards drawing attention to yourself, hogging the spotlight, and tap dancing across the sea-ice with a top hat and cane. Shame on me! I confess. I did it, and what’s more, at times it was jolly good fun!

Other times? Well, preening in a mirror gets boring. Therefore, it was good that I was “marginalized” and “shadow banned”, because it got me away from those who encouraged me to make a spectacle of myself. And this allowed me to again focus on sea-ice, and furthermore to realize that sea-ice was never actually my primary focus.

Actually, my initial focus was Greenland Vikings, but when I thought about it, I realized that too was but a side-focus, part of a greater focus on sea-faring men of all sorts, which also was a side-focus on a greater focus on adventure in general, which in turn was a side focus on….Hey! What is my focus, anyhow?

This led to an interesting period of reflection, which reminded me a little of being small and being asked what I wanted to “be” when I grew up. I always felt a little awkward, for it felt a little like a trap. If I answered honestly to the grown-ups, (which I seldom dared do), I likely would have responded, “I want to be free.”

In a sense it is like the Cole Porter song Will Rogers liked to sing, “Don’t Fence Me In.” Only rather than riding across the open range, I am riding across the world of thought. Sea-ice is but one topic of many. If I got stuck on sea-ice I would be like a bee stuck in one flower, (perhaps a pitcher plant or Venus-flytrap).

I lack the discipline it takes to be a true authority. Even in the realm of sea-ice it seems that there are specific areas and fields of study, so that one person may be an authority on icebergs and another on the algae that grows on the underside of ice. Scientific authorities are specialists who have amazing focus and discipline and attend to meticulous details, and I simply can’t match them. I haven’t the time for that. I’d rather pick their brains like thieves pick pockets, and then go hopping off like a happy-go-lucky Brer Rabbit with the cream of their ideas, the culmination of all their hard work, as a bit of trivia to add to my vast store.

When I think hard about it, I am not a true scientist, though I love Truth. I bounce about from topic to topic too much, (as this post is doing). Thus, what I know is factual, but not deeply researched. It is disparaged as mere factoids, and trivia, and I agree it is factoids and trivia, but feel it has value. Perhaps I’m not a scientist, but, to coin a word, I am a “triviaist” (as opposed to trivialist), and to be a triviaist is not a trivial thing.

How so? Well, if you know a little about a lot of topics you may not have the depth of knowledge a scientist has in his specific cubicle, but you can spot when that same scientist is straying outside his cubical into “an area outside of his expertise.” Why? Because your casual knowledge of Greenland Vikings and the Medieval Warm Period torpedoes some statement he makes about “modern warming being unprecedented.” Or perhaps your knowledge of tree rings, because you have actually cut down trees and counted the rings and have seen which are widely spaced and which are not, discounts some claim they make about a particular tree proving the “hockey stick graph” is accurate.

As an aside I should mention that, years ago, I was not paid to count tree rings. I was paid to cut trees. In fact, the boss back then was likely annoyed I was wasting time counting rings, but didn’t fire me because I worked hard otherwise, and a boss has to put up with a certain amount of weirdness in his employees. But a triviaist has that weirdness. He gets off track, and counts rings when he’s supposed to be cutting wood.

As a further aside I’ll state some do not like people who don’t stay on track, as if people were trains. If you “can’t look at hobbles and can’t stand fences” they describe you as being “off the rails”. They love regulation and dislike liberty, which means they miss what a triviaist has to offer, for a triviaist demands the freedom to be fascinated by whatever fascinates, even if is tree rings when he is supposed to be cutting wood.

I don’t doubt a triviaist is a royal pain when young, if you are a boss and trying to train him, but if that same triviaist has managed to survive fifty years the sheer bulk of the trivia in his brain starts to have unforeseen benefits. Let me give an example.

As my mind jumps from topic to topic it can arrive at places that truly seem “off the rails”. For example, a casual study of a battle in America’s Revolutionary War focused on the essential aid given by a certain general from Poland, which made me curious about the general, which made me curious about Poland, which made me curious about why the rest of Europe wanted to wipe Poland off the map, which made me curious about democratic societies which monarchies didn’t like which were favorable to liberty in eastern Europe, in the general area of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, back into the mists of history. So now, if I meet a person from Poland (or Ukraine) they are amazed I in some ways know more about heroes of their land than they do, due to all the trivia I’ve collected.

What has this to do with sea-ice? Well, the last good pictures we got from the arctic sea (not including MosaIc Expedition pictures) were from the final Barneo blue-ice jetport, which was a Russian base served by Ukrainian jets. One became aware the man masterminding the unique Barneo experience had to walk a razor’s edge of diplomacy, concerning certain frictions between Russia and Ukraine, and that his death would leave a void it was unlikely could be filled. So maybe my trivia included knowledge of impending trouble, which an on-track person would not have seen coming.

Not that I’m a prophet. I am no better at forecasting humans than I am at the weather, which is not very good, (though better than some.)

What I think a triviaist does, in following his mind hither and yon “off the rails” is actually in a way “on track”, albeit a sidetrack. The various subjects are usually related, though often to onlookers they seem so dimly related the leaps of logic cannot be followed. But the triviaist is following something. I often wonder what prompted me to veer far from my intended subject, but there can be no denying the prompting is there. Call it a psychological problem, such as avoidance, or pretty-it-up by calling it “intuition”, the triviaist sees more broadly than a specialist.

So, personally, in my younger day I was not a master of any particular skill, but rather a Jack-of-all-trades. If you wanted a job done expertly you would hire an expensive plumber, but if your pipe was leaking and you couldn’t afford a plumber you might hire me. (I could handle the easy jobs, and also could say when you needed a real plumber.) (But if I really needed the money, I would do jobs I didn’t know how to do, learning as I progressed, which lead to some hair-raising problems I always seemed to find the answers to, sometimes at the last second and by the skin of my teeth, sometimes due to asking for help from experts, both worldly and Divine.)

I suppose a triviaist is what is described as being: “A Jack of all trades and master of none.” It involves humbling shoes to walk in, for most everywhere you look you see people superior, but the ego can cling to one bit of pride. One has more “general knowledge”. Then one asks, “What good is general knowledge?”

Rather than predict the future, what a triviaist gains through “general knowledge” is to see the Now. One sees the present tense in a far broader way than a specialist can. A specialist tends towards myopia and must struggle against being prone to being one-sided, while a triviaist can see from many angles because that happens to be what he or she likes to do. This is helpful, when it comes to seeing the Now, because the Now has an enormity which cannot be comprehended from any one chair. Despite all the scorn “committees” get (and sometimes earn) the real purpose of a “committee” is to look at an issue or problem from more than one angle, and to broaden the view. For this same reason kings had advisors.

There is very little prediction and prophecy involved. The simple fact of the matter is that the solution to a problem first involves taking a hard look at what the problem is, in the present tense. The future will take care of itself; first you must see the problem in the Now.

The problem with the Global Warming mind-set is that it is so pretentious, assuming it possesses prophetic powers, that it fails to see the Now. In essence it tramples all over the present tense, flailing at a future when it cannot see the Now.

I don’t much care about anything else but the Now. The future tends to be worry. What good is worry? The Now is enough for me, as it usually gives me a boot in the butt and determines what I do next. If my triviaist tendencies have me studying Poland when I should be making money, a threatening letter from a bill-collector is the Now, and the trivia that interests me next is my next way of paying the bills, whether it be to focus on hard work, or studying the value of my coin collection before selling it. The future takes care of itself when you attend to the Now.

Despite all evidence Global Warming is not a dire threat, the Global Warming mindset has gotten so completely out of hand that its illogic itself has become the Now. How so? Because its believers are doubling the cost of oil, and fueling horrific inflation which is crippling the fixed income of elders and reducing the life’s savings of younger people.

Today I saw a poll which indicated that a majority of ordinary people felt that the believers in Global Warming fully intended that all the hardships (which ordinary people are now suffering) to occur. It was no accident. The people of the so-called “Swamp” fully intended to inflict suffering. It was their solution to a problem which they, as prophets, could foresee. Ordinary people lack their prophetic powers, and their ability to control the weather and heal all viruses. They, as gods, must not be bothered by the observations of mere ordinary people.

What amazing arrogance! What audacious gall, to suggest you control the weather and control disease! They don’t. All they are doing is hurting the backbone of society, the salt of the earth. They are sawing off the branch they are seated on, expecting a couple of doves at the end of the branch to hold the branch up when they are done. They are in for a crash, cruising for a bruising.

I honestly feel that the worst of these arrogant people never really believed Global Warming was a threat. It was just a tool they used to scare people into compliance. Now they are somewhat relieved, for they no longer have to pretend sea-ice matters. They increasingly are showing their true colors. Sea-ice never did matter to them. When they acted interested, it was pure pretense. Their real interest was power. Not Truth.

As a triviaist I could offer them historical examples of what happens to people who put power above Truth, but, considering they couldn’t hear simple Truth about sea-ice, I doubt they can hear Truth now that they are going for broke. I could tell them that when they go for broke they will end up broke and broken, but they won’t listen, so now the main aim is to avoid going down in flames to a smoking ruin with them.

Earlier I stated that, while I am not an expert, a triviaist has an ability to see when an expert is “outside his area of expertise.” In like manner, while confessing I am not a prophet (and am certainly not a god), I have an ability to see that, when a politician becomes so drunk with power that he deems himself a prophet and a god, and when he will bully anyone who dares suggest otherwise, he is “outside his area of expertise.” He has no idea of the powers he is messing with, like a little child playing with a hand grenade.

The frustrating thing is that I am in no position to dole out what the bozos deserve. I am an unwilling pacifist. I am not made spiritual because of this scripture:

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”

Rather I am made spiritual because the truth is I can’t do a damn thing about lunatics in Washington but cast a single vote, and they can negate my vote with evil fraud.

Therefore, as a triviaist, I just go to what next fascinates me. Currently growing food interests me more than sea-ice, (because I don’t want to starve), and most of my posts this summer will be about dirt rather than the North Pole.

Sadly, there are not even the cameras on buoys up there, which once gave me great relief when a heat wave was hitting me “down south.” I can no longer leave a sweaty garden and bask in views of cool sea-ice. However, true to my triviaist nature, I’ll likely annoy my boss (myself) by not weeding the garden on occasion, and instead wandering off to look at the sea-ice situation, even if it only involves graphs.

While there is no excuse for skipping work, I could attempt to justify my behavior by stating I was looking for hints next winter might be going to be especially cold. (Not that knowing would do me much good.)

And indeed, there are some “concerning” examples of cooling, the greatest of which is the fact the cold La Nina won’t quit, and in fact is stronger than it was on its first year. It is interesting to compare September 2020 (end of first year) with now, (start of third). (The maps I use are anomaly maps, and red does not indicate warm but rather above-normal. Blue does not indicate cold but below-normal. IE: They blue water at the equator is warmer than the red water at the Pole.) But here is September 2020:

And here is now:

Likely it is unfair to compare September one year with June on another, for they are at opposite ends of the melt-season. Therefore ignore the brick red arctic in 2020 compared with the white sea-ice of 2022.

But the equator is different, and knows no summer and winter, and I find it interesting that in 2020 the La Nina was mostly south of the equator, but in 2022 the cold has crept up to the coast of California.

Also notice that the waters south of Greenland, which were a hot spot in 2020, are now below normal. Very Interesting. I wonder if all the sea-ice jettisoned through Fram Strait (and to a lesser degree through Nares Strait on the other side of Greenland), may be cooling the Gulf Stream, which could cool Europe eventually.

Back before shadow-banning I had a wonderful on-line talk with an alert individual who awoke me to the idea that a “freshwater-lens” might not be a phenomenon restricted to the arctic but might also include waters around sea-ice ejected into the Atlantic. After all, while sea-ice is flat bergs seldom thicker than ten feet, glaciers calve amazing icebergs as huge as a mile long and a hundred feet tall, (which means they have keels nine hundred feet deep.) Sailors say that as you even near such massive bergs the air gets colder. So too the water must get colder. And the phenomenon of cold fresh water on top of warmer saline water could occur well south of the arctic.

Such a discussion would involve the Now, and have value because a chilled Gulf Stream may influence the productivity of European farms. Then informed farmers might alter what they planted, in order to be more productive with cold weather crops. (A huge discharge of sea-ice in 1817 may have caused “The Year With No Summer” in Europe, and the consequential famines.) But having such discussions would be problematic if the topic countered “Global Warming”.

Rather than bicker with Alarmists and cancel-culture, I’d rather just move on to a different topic: The “extent” and “volume” graphs. They disagree with each other, for “extent” shows sudden loss, as “volume” shows a complete cessation of loss. How is this possible? Before I explain, check out the two graphs. Here is the “extent” graph showing a drop from nearly “normal” levels to what has been more “normal” in recent years. (red line).

And here is the “Volume” graph for the same time, showing that the volume, which had been dropping, now refuses to drop even a bit. (black line)

This seeming contradiction is explained by the fact “extent” is not the same as “area” or “volume”. IE: A patch of sea which is 85% open water and 15% sea-ice may only be 15% covered, in terms of “area”, but it is 100% covered in terms of “extent”. However, should that same area be swept free of ice “area” only loses 15% while “extent” loses 100%. Meanwhile the place where all the ice is swept-to becomes crowded and perhaps is 90% ice, which increases “area” in that spot to 90%, even as that spot, in terms of “extent”, was100% ice-covered before, and remains 100% despite the increase of crowding. Lastly, if the winds are cold and the water is cold, not one bit of the ice may have melted, which means the “volume” stays the same despite the ways the other numbers change.

Coming up with these numbers is very difficult, and I pity the scientists stuck with the drudgery of such toil. They likely suffer eyestrain, scrutinizing satellite photos, and they make me glad I am a triviaist and can just pickpocket their work and skip away avoiding the work they do.

But what is especially fun is to become a lurker, and haunt the periphery of an Alarmist website where people are totally sold on the dogma of Global Warming, and watch how deeply concerned they are by any indication the sea-ice is not melting away at an unprecedented rate. They were especially upset when the “extent” graph touched “normal levels” briefly, but wildly enthusiastic when it soon plunged. Then one of their members noticed the “volume” graph didn’t drop, and innocently wondered if maybe they were just seeing how a fortnight of north winds spread sea-ice south in Barents Sea, and then a following fortnight’s south wind compressed the sea-ice north again. I cringed, for I knew what was coming. It is why I lurk and never comment on such sites. The innocent fellow got pummeled as a “denier”. But all he had done was see the Now.

I prefer the community of gardeners, for you are not accused of being a “denier” nearly so much. True, you can run into politics if you praise chemical fertilizer and pesticides, but largely you are among people who are desperately trying to keep their plants alive midst an onslaught of bad weather and bugs, and everyone is equal. It is so refreshing, after being called a “denier” for simply telling the truth.

The truth is that there is a slight chill in the air. It appears in the temperatures at the Pole, which, after the last spike of warm Atlantic air surged up that way last winter, have spent more time below normal than I remember ever seeing.

I don’t claim to know what this means. I just collect trivia. And a lot of trivia is not as warm as it was. The UAH temperatures for the planet dropped nearly a tenth of a degree in May, to .17 above recent normals, from .26 above in April.

Chances are that graph will drop further in June, if certain climate models are correct. Usually, such models are inclined to exaggerate warming, but check this model’s forecast out for June:

I selfishly like how this model shows New Hampshire as slightly above normal, for that bodes well for warmth-loving crops in my garden like corn, squash, beans, tomatoes and peppers, but it unnerves me slightly to see such a swath of the tropics a little cooler than normal. This model is usually as warmth-loving as my beans. What is it seeing? Especially southeast of South America. That big blue blotch is (I assume) an obvious model mistake, but the model must have been seeing something to make such a mistake, especially as it is usually mistaken in a warmer direction.

Chill in the tropics unnerves me because things there are usually so stable. The Pole gets six-month days and six-month nights, but the tropics get twelve hour days all the time. My neck of the woods gets wild swings in temperature due to warm fronts and cold fronts, but such fronts are washed out if they can even reach the periphery of the tropics. The tropics have no wild swings in temperature, and therefore it is disconcerting when Joe Bastardi, on his blog at the Weatherbell site, puzzles over the chill forecast over Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.

Mr. Bastardi noticed a similar chill over tropical Africa quite accidentally. He was merely investigating media reports of a heatwave on the north coast of Africa. The north coast was bright red on the anomaly map, but the tropical guts of the continent was blue and even green, on the anomaly maps.

To be looking at Africa in a post about Arctic Sea-ice may seem off track, but that is how a triviaist mind works. It knows the Now knows no boundaries, and that there may be some correlation between the equator and the Pole.

In any case I wish my friend Robert Felix hadn’t died due to an adverse reaction to the covid vaccine, and his “Ice Age Now” site hadn’t been effectively “disappeared” from the web. His site was a treasure trove of information about where on the globe it was cooling, which the media does not report.

In the current case some unexpected cooling is appearing, and I sure wish we could talk about it like sane people, witnessing the Now and deciding what would be best to do. The fact the mention of any cooling has become a politically incorrect subject (which some of the cancel culture are appalled by) strikes me as absurd. It is what it is. I note it and move on.

Stay tuned.

SERENITY SONNET

What shall my mind dwell upon? Gas hit $5.00/gallon today, more than twice what we paid last year, but also it was a beautiful day with breezes of a perfect temperature, neither too hot nor too cold. Perfect weather for hilling potatoes, as the children at my Childcare were in especially good moods.

This is a sonnet of transition from worry to wonder.

Annoying annoyance will not be halted
By pleading reason, for fools have defaulted
On linkage to reason, to joys exalted.
They suck lips of pain with wounds ever salted. 

Like whining Skilsaws that scream all the night
They insist resting is never quite right.
They spoil even moments of simple delight
Like bad teeth that make you flinch as you bite.

I turn to the skies and sigh, "Father, Please!
Send us some peace! Bless us with Your ease.
Like children content in the shade of the trees
Let us feel filled by the hush of a breeze.

What use are minds when their noise will not cease?
Grant us simplicity steeped in Your peace."

WEEDER NEEDER

Running a Childcare makes me especially aware of what every parent is sadly made conscious of: What strikes an older person as beautiful and worth sharing make strike the young as exceedingly disagreeable. And the young may become disagreeable in response. For example, when the parents of the cartoon character Calvin of “Calvin and Hobbes” take him out to see the pristine beauty of a fresh fall of snow, Calvin doesn’t appreciate it.

At some point I decided it was more enjoyable to garden alone. In 2019 I had my most successful garden ever, simply because I stopped inflicting gardening upon people who have the sane opinion that dirt is dirty. I had more fun, they had more fun, yet at the time of the harvest I had second thoughts, which I go into, in an old, 2019 post:

The long-winded post contained a sonnet which is sneakily revolutionary as it is only 13 lines when they are supposed to have 14.

I wish they were as old-fashioned as I.
Though frost cuts, I heap a heating harvest,
Yet I no longer even bother to try
To get them to sweat, though reaping’s blessed.

Today I hauled a hundred pounds of squash
To my larder. For me that’s four hundred
Meals. But I know they’d, with piggy squeals, quash
All joy from my harvest, whining they’ve bled
And are wounded, because fall’s frost cuts.

Those who don’t plant don’t know why they’re fed.
Their fine complaints are but signs they lack guts.
They think they make sense, while making me groan
For no man likes to reap harvests alone.

To spare you the effort of following my meandering mind down all the rabbit holes of convoluted logic, the post wound up concluding that no man is an island, and I should find a way to avoid gardening alone. It also confessed I saw no foreseeable way of doing so.

This seems especially true of weeding. I like weeding, but many suggests this proves I’ve gone completely bonkers in my old age.

Why do I like it? Perhaps it is because, as you age, the fingers are still nimble, (providing you are spared arthritis), when the rest of you huffs and puffs doing what once was quite ordinary.

I once saw a film showing the pianist Artur Rubinstein at age ninety. Always a bit of an exhibitionist, he allowed the film to begin with him getting out of bed, so ancient and stiff he has trouble getting loose enough to stand up and walk, but then he sits at the piano and loosens up his fingers running through a few scales, and then, with startling swiftness, is able to play flowing rhapsodies of music. Probably it isn’t as good as he could play as a young man of seventy, but still it was utterly amazing, and also proof using your fingers doesn’t make you huff and puff. And weeding is using your fingers. It doesn’t make you huff and puff. Furthermore, if I may be so bold, I am a sort of Artur Rubinstein of weeding.

My problem is I plant too much. If I only planted short rows, it wouldn’t be any challenge, but with his Fraudulency, Biden, seeming out to create a famine, short rows are not long enough. But then, if you plant long rows, you create long rows to weed. And this year I am so serious about planting long rows that the weeds are already springing up while I am still planting the long rows.

This is especially true in the case of carrots. Carrots are good keepers, when winter comes around. Ordinarily I wouldn’t need to plant that many. After all, how many plastic, one-pound bags of carrots does my wife buy at the market for us in the course of a winter? Maybe a pound every two weeks? Even if you call our northern winters 24 weeks long and add another 8 weeks until we can harvest our first carrots next year, that’s only 16 pounds. A double-row of eight feet will do. Easy. (Especially if, God willing, I get some huge, half-pound carrots.) But, if Biden has his way, and we all starve to stop Global Warming, I’ll need some extra, for family and friends and church suppers. Therefore I’m starting with four times what I need; thirty-two feet of double-rowed carrots. (If I have time and space I may add a later crop. But, to start, let us see if the first doesn’t kill me.)

The thing about carrots is that they are tiny seeds that produce the feeblest, hair-like seedlings. Meanwhile the weeds grow boisterously, swiftly twice as high and twice as large. Compare a carrot seeding:

And here are weeds:

And here are carrots and weeds squaring off to do battle.

Actually, they don’t square off like that. The above is actually the edge of the weeded area and the non-weeded area. The carrots are hidden by the weeds, in the non-weeded area. Therefore, you must have fingers like Rubinstein and weed very carefully. After selecting the largest weeds, and pulling them, you start to see the carrots underneath, and can pull the smaller weeds.

If you only planted eight feet of carrots the weeds would never get so far ahead of you, but if your eyes are bigger than your stomach, in a gardener sort of way, this is your plight. The fortunate thing is that, although the carrots are tiny, they have deep tap roots, and only a few get torn up as you uproot the larger weeds. (And that actually thins the carrots, which is a later job. First you must help the carrots survive, before you can even get to the point where you worry about thinning.)

This year has been very dry, so my scarce free time has been usurped by having to do what the clouds should do and do better: Water. It is very important to water the tiny carrots for if they get too dry before their tiny roots shoot downward as tap roots, they just die on you. But even as you save them you are watering the weeds.

Then when it did rain, it was thunder rain, which is somehow loaded with nitrogen by cloud-to-cloud lightning. It is wonderful as it causes all your plants to abruptly leap upwards, but horrible because it has the exact same effect on weeds. The earth which looked so brown and weed-free after rototilling abruptly is lush with a kazillion weeds.

It was obvious I needed help, with so many feet of planted plants all getting weedy at once. My daughter and daughter-in-law have been very helpful, but my daughter is about to get married, and I didn’t live so long by telling women weeding is more important than weddings (even if it is.)

Just about every business in town has a help-wanted sign, so finding help from outside seems unlikely. Therefore, my wife suggested I turn to our Childcare staff. I cringed. I didn’t want to offend them. But, to my astonishment, they responded favorably. (Perhaps controlling weeds is easier than controlling children.)

One thing I never expected was for them to be so gracious, as I instructed them. I expected them to behave as if I was asking them to ingest poison, but instead they behaved as if I was Rubinstein teaching them piano. Even my boring sidetracks (into how this weed is edible and the juice of that weed is good for bug-bites) didn’t cause their eyeball to fall out with boredom, but rather they found me fascinating. (I would say it is the difference between a teenager and an adult, but one was a teenager.) We chattered away and I actually found myself enjoying myself. Then I left them to weed alone, and they worked tirelessly under a blazing sun.

They were slower than me, but more painstaking. I tend to leave the smallest weeds, just attacking the big stuff, but they left the carrot patch utterly weed free, and made great headway down the second patch. I’ve never been so ahead of the weeds, at this point.

And just to show I am not one of those exploitive bosses who sits in some office as others do the work, here is that same row of carrots after I got down on my knees and completed the job. (Please note how I used the pulled weeds as mulch.)

This is only one small skirmish in a larger battle, yet it strikes me strangely as a sort of miracle. The weeding not only got done, but it was fun. The girls actually said they liked it.

I don’t know what I am doing differently. Weeding caused my own children to experience post-traumatic stress and likely will cost them a fortune in therapy, just to recover. But this year my employees behave as if I am doing them a favor. (Maybe I should have paid my kids for feeding them.)

This brings me to the bottom line, grubbier than dirt. How much are these carrots going to cost me? Well, that all depends on the price of carrots next fall. At current prices my carrots are a very bad deal, but, if Biden saves the world from Global Warming by having carrots cost a hundred dollars a pound by November, my little patch will be a gold mine.

BEETLE BATTLES

They are back. The dreaded Colorado Potato Beetle.

Due to Fraudulent Biden’s apparent aim of starving us all, I planted more potatoes than usual, and was alarmed to see these pretty, little beetles even as the potatoes emerged. My only strategy is to squish them like crazy, which requires vigilance and steadfast attention. Slack off, and with amazing speed your potato patch will be reduced from bushy leaves to a bunch of sad-looking stalks.

Squishing is gross, even if you only have one plant, and I have a hundred, so I turned to the web to see what other gardeners had to say about the beetle battle.

I really like the gardener’s gatherings on the web, for the government hasn’t gotten involved and doesn’t say what can be said and what can’t be said. Not that they aren’t planning to do it, but they haven’t yet focused on the little gardeners, (who in this case should be called “small potatoes”.) Therefore, you get a wonderful variety of ideas.

There is something very wonderful about the ideas of commoners, when they are ungoverned. People are amazingly experimental and come up with all sorts of theories I’d never dream up. Of course, many theories are wrong and get shot down and crash in flames, often by Mother Nature herself, (which makes a funny story if told correctly), but sometimes by another gardener who starts by saying, “I tried that once and…” It is actually a sort of peer-review, as ideas are bounced about in an atmosphere of freedom. I think it proves the superiority of Liberty to Socialism, but that would take a long post to describe, and this post is about the beetle battle.

One thing I wondered was, “Where do these blasted beetles come from?” There are two views. Some say they sleep in the soil, and some say they migrate up from the south like monarch butterflies. In any case, they ordinarily eat some Colorado species of wild poison-nightshade, and had a niche in nature in remote mountains, but for some reason potatoes are a species of the nightshade family that causes the beetle to go berserk, and allowed it to spread from coast to coast, driving gardeners equally berzerk.

There are all sorts of remedies mentioned by gardeners, most of which I don’t have time for. But one common theme I kept chancing upon was a joke. The post would have some catchy headline such as, “Surefire Organic Cure For Potato Beetles.” Then, when you read the post, you discovered the cure was to squish them. Apparently I’m not the only one who has sought a better way.

One interesting killer is a sort of bacteria which shrivels up the larvae, but that must be applied when the larvae are small, and washes off in rain, so some larvae may sneak by and get large, so after all that bother you wind up needing to squish them anyway. And they are slimly, ugly things.

It is amazing how swiftly these eating-machines can turn a plant from leaves to mere stalks, and any loss of more than 30% of your leaves starts to shrink your crop. Therefore, I do my best to kill the adults before they lay any eggs. But they are swift and sneaky, so I also hunt for eggs, which are bright yellow, but on the underside of leaves where you can’t see them. So, as I start to hill my potatoes, I look for leaves that look like something has eaten them.

Then I flip the leaf over…

Unlike the eggs of squash bugs, these eggs are soft, so you have to face the unpleasantness. There is no way around it. You must squish.

And, if you have a hundred potato plants, you must do this over and over and over and over and… And, so far, I think I’ve prevented around a thousand of those pretty little eggs from becoming those utterly disgusting larvae. I squish to avoid squishier squishing.

GRASSHOPPER HELPS ANT

The “green” agenda of his fraudulency, Biden, is having the consequences which people like me, (people who are dubious [to say the least] about “Global Warming”), have been warning about. We were warning twenty years ago. Ten years ago. Last year.

Basically, we were saying fossil fuels might have a bad side, but they also had a good side. Before we banned them, we should be sure we had a viable alternative, or we would lose the “good side”.

Well, we are losing the “good side”, as Biden does his best to prevent the production of coal, oil and gas. The “good side” was warm houses in winter, cheap fertilizer for our crops, cheap transport of essential goods, mobility of labor at low costs, low costs for the manufacturing of goods, to begin a partial list of benefits, (not mentioning plastics.) Now, with even a small part of that “good side” removed, we are seeing how much more expensive life is.

Is it worth it? At best, using the most biased models, abandoning fossil fuels might decrease the warming of the planet .05 degrees a year. (And there is debate about whether a warmer planet might be a better planet, more like periods of prosperity called “The Medieval Warm Period” and “The Roman Climate Optimum”.)

Now that we are just beginning to feel the pain of Biden’s green agenda, the answer seems to be “this is not worth it.” But, sorry to say, it is too late. Elections have consequences, even if they are rigged, and we now are witnessing the bleep hit the fan. It will get worse before it gets better.

For the trusting individuals who believed Biden was “moderate” I imagine it is a great shock to witness the destruction of the stability Trump had established, and to furthermore realize the destruction reaches levels unseen even in the lifetimes of our great-grandparents. Not that our great-grandparents knew of the modern miracle called “baby formula”; (they used a “wet nurse” instead,) but our great-grandparents never witnessed a government so inept that it manufactured a shortage of wet-nurses. For trusting, suburbanite housewives, (who apparently formed a sold block of Biden voters, women certain Biden was sane,) it is jarring to see he is not.

For trusting people who worked tedious jobs for decades, trusting their pension would mean something, it is a shock to see inflation erode their fixed income. It will be sad if they find it hard to afford heat next winter. It will be sadder if there is no heat to be had, and oil must be rationed.

Me? I lost faith early in life, when it came to authorities, and I had little belief any pension would be worth it. I was certain the bleep would hit the fan decades ago. This freed me from ever needing to stick with a job for the attached pension, for I “knew” the national debt was too high during the time Jimmy Carter was president, and was “certain” the inflation, (which was pretty bad back then), would spiral completely out of control. I was wrong. Some of my friends who had more faith in the system than I did retired at age fifty with fat pensions and have lived comfortable retirements, as I’ve had to go on working, and working, and working.

Now some of those friends, who retired at age fifty, are thinking maybe they need to go back to work at age seventy. That’s how bad the “green energy” inflation is. They look at their bills for lighting their houses and keeping the furnace going, and inflation is 50%. They could handle bills of $500.00, but $1000.00 wreaks their budget, and they consider rejoining the world of a working man. Welcome back.

Me? I’ve gone on working, and working, and working, but never for one boss. I’ve been free. I work for people I like, but, should the rot set in and a boss start to reek, I have always been free to say, “Sorry, Charlie”, and depart. So what if I lost health insurance? I was hale and hearty without it. So what if I lost a potential pension? I was sure the world would never pay the pension when it was due.

Now it seems I was right, after all. Politicians do not respect their elders in the manner scriptures command, and rather look for ways to avoid paying what they promised. Their breaking-of-promises is most ugly when their way of avoiding payments is to exterminate the elderly they promised to pay.

The most obvious and odious example of such filthy behavior was when President Trump made-available hospital ships and convention centers for people stricken with the coronavirus, but Governor Cuomo refused to send the ill to such highly equipped places, and instead sent the ill to ill-equipped old soldier’s homes and senior citizen facilities. This spread the corona virus among the very elders who should have been most protected, and roughly 10,000 died. Yet this in turn saved New York State roughly a billion dollars, because if those elders lived it cost roughly $100,000 per person per year to honor elders. 10,000 dead “saved” a billion. Killing elders may not be honoring them, but modern politicians know little about honor when a billion dollars is involved.

This didn’t surprise me, for, as I stated, I had little trust. I grew up in a rich town and knew how vile and fetid bigwig fat cats can be. I was repelled, and, though my disgust forced me to become downwardly mobile, I discovered the opposite of fetid is the fragrance of freedom. Money was not my master, and the blandishments of insurance and a pension could never seduce me into working for a boss who was not righteous. So what?

So…I lacked insurance and a pension. I’m still working at age 69, and qualify as poor, but I have ten grandchildren, while Bill and Hillary Clinton have zero. (And they are still working, too.)

Considering I’m sixty-nine, some ask me why I don’t apply for social security. Even though I keep working and working and working, friends say I should collect the benefits and then let the government take them back when I pay my taxes. But I find it hard to stomach asking. I have never thought Social Security was secure. I assumed the politicians had itchy fingers and would plunder the funds. The little I knew, investigating Social Security, seemed to affirm my distrust.

When President FDR created Social Security in 1935, he imagined the money collected from workers would go into a fund which the government would care for. The fund would grow, for the hardship of the Great Depression caused the life expectancy of men to sink to 56.6 years, which meant that most men paid into the fund and never collected a cent. They didn’t mind, (much), for Newspapers highlighted the first, prune-faced elders gratefully collecting their Social Security checks, even though they had paid little or nothing into the fund. A working man could feel good he helped elders.

Despite initial subtractions for elders who paid little into the fund, for the most part the fund grew, with more people paying in than collected. The life expectancy of women never surpassed 70 years until 1949, and as recently as 1969 the life expectancy of men was 66.8 years. This meant men collected for less than two years after paying in for forty-five or even fifty years. The fund was bound to grow. Basically, most people who collected in 1969 were widows, stay-at-home Moms who could expect to live to be 74.3 years as their husbands died at 66.8. Social Security was a good deal, a kind deal, a mercy for widows, but a doomed deal, because the fund grew too large.

1969 also marked a huge increase in the amount of people paying into Social Security, as the “Baby Boom” generation began to work, (albeit erratically.) The fund expanded, and politicians felt such an enormous amount of money should be invested wisely, but I think the investments were unwise, for rather than the fund now being more enormous, as it should be after the “Baby Boomers” made payments for a half century, the fund is basically bankrupt. Where did all that money go?

Ask the politicians. It will take a bit of sodium pentothal to get an honest answer.

Basically, to be blunt, they used up the money for bribes. They like to make bribery sound altruistic, “preforming services for constituents”, but, basically, they gave the money to people who had not paid into the fund, and who had no reason to expect benefits. The politicians would always claim they were “helping the poor”, but in truth they were bribing voters to vote for them. And now the money is all gone and the only way to pay the Baby Boomers will be to print money, which causes inflation and makes a Social Security check basically worthless. Where’s the “security” in a check that barely pays for heat and electricity in January, and leaves nothing for food?

I hate to say, “I told you so”, but I told you so. I wish I’d been wrong. In fact, I thought I was wrong, when my friends were retiring twenty years ago with cushy pensions, and I had to keep working and working and working. They had trusted what I didn’t trust, and they were reaping what I didn’t sow. I was the grasshopper, and they were the ants. But now….they face bankruptcy, as I’ve been bankrupt, (or at least hand-to-mouth), all along. Welcome back, fellows! Hope you enjoyed your long vacations, but its time to get back to work.

Just today, besides running my Childcare, I huffed and puffed out in a cold rain in my garden hoeing together thirty hills to plant winter squash in. God willing, each hill will bear three vines and each vine will produce three to ten squashes. Assuming only three per plant, that’s nine squashes per hill, and 30 hills will give me 270 winter squash. Assuming an average weight of 4 pounds, that’s more than half a ton of squash.

I doubt I can eat half a ton of squash next winter. In fact, I’ll have an excess to feed others with. Hopefully they’ll have something to trade in return that I desire, and we can call it “barter”. But if my neighbor is broke, unable to pay for (or find) oil to heat his home, (due to Biden’s policy) and unable to afford squash at the store-with-empty-shelves, because berserk inflation has a squash costing fifty dollars, I’ll not call it “charity”, but “hospitality” to invite him over to my warm wood stove to roast squash seeds on that stove, with some squash soup and squash pie. And hopefully we’ll be able to laugh at the irony of me, an old coot who has no pension, providing for him, an old coot who has one. It is like the grasshopper providing for the ant.

Of course, neighbor will not get off Scot free. He will have to pay a price for my hospitality. Hopefully the cost will not be too much to bear: He will have to listen to me recite some of my poetry, going back sixty years.

Here’s a couple of sonnets from over forty years ago. (1979 or 1980). I think that, despite the fact I was in my twenties when I wrote them, they have aged well. They give me the strange sense that all our lives we’ve sensed the impending crisis. There was just nothing we could do to stop it. Whatever will be will be. My old sonnets are like mouse-squeaks of warning.

THE GRASSHOPPER SONNET

When I was young, I was told a fable
About a grasshopper and one good ant.
The good ant gathered grain for its table.
The grasshopper fiddled the following rant:

"Man can't live on bread alone; all need song,
Yes, all need song. Life, without its tune
Is wrong; yes, utterly hopelessly wrong,
wrong, WRONG!"

                              That grasshopper came to ruin
Or at least that is what the fable states.
I guess that means next spring will be silent
Without the sweet chirping a grasshopper makes.
I guess that means all the ways that I went 
Will lead me to death, while you'll never die.
Either that or else all the old fables can lie.
THE ANT SONNET
The poor ants work while the grasshoppers fiddle.
The ant looks up to the sky with trust.
The ant can't see God stands in the middle.
The ant is shocked by the first locust.
The locusts swarm and the fields are stripped.
The ant's outraged, and it seeks its peers.
Army ants march in tight ranks, grim lipped.
Soon the last locust disappears.
Thus there's no fiddling. Thus there's no grain.
Thus we have nothingness. Thus we're insane.
Thus all our efforts breed flourishing pain.
Thus does humanity go down the drain.
Pray for ecology; then there's a chance
That grasshoppers will get along with the ants.

DAMPENED DROUGHT SONNETS

As a man who never married until he was certain he was too old for marriage, (age thirty-seven), I know the bliss of a joy deferred. So, I am happy for my eldest daughter, who is getting married this June. However, there are times it seems to me girls get too giddy about marriage.

In my own case I really didn’t see why marriage was anyone else’s business. I was planning on a quiet ceremony at some Justice-Of-The-Peace’s, but a wonderful old woman (who had been something of a matchmaker) would have none of that and vetoed my practicality. She insisted my future wife have all the frills of a bachelorette party, and a shower, and a big, church wedding.

Now thirty-two years later I’m going through the same process with my daughter. Once again, I am the drab, practical party-pooper. Of course, I’m a little older and wiser. I may still try to fight City Hall, but I don’t fight girls when they get giddy. Let them pick flowers if they insist; I will plant the beans.

At times I confess to feeling a little sorry for myself. After all, I see myself as a poet, and that is supposed to mean I get to be impractical: I am the grasshopper fiddling as the ants all toil. But somehow my study of Truth flipped things around, and rather than spending other people’s money I’m the one making the money others spend.

A wedding is a short celebration, compared to the non-stop party going on in the Swamp. They are spending money they didn’t make, though they think they can make money by printing it, but that makes inflation (which is a sneaky way of taking the value of my money and making it less without an official tax). This makes me feel even more sorry for myself.

The sheer stupidity of the Swamp’s behavior wears me down. While women get giddy about marriage, which is a very real thing, they deny marriage is a real thing, but insist Global Warming, which is not what they say it is, must be attended to.

His Fraudulency, Biden, while visiting Japan, actually was honest, and admitted the increase in fuel prices is not due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but was an intentional policy intended to make fossil fuels so expensive that we stop using them, and therefore, (theoretically) stop warming the world. But guess what? The world looks like it is cooling all by itself. The La Nina has come roaring back for a third straight year, chilling the Pacific.

And computer models are showing a cool June world-wide.

CFSV2. 30 day for June

So basically, the Swamp is making fuel too expensive to use, in order to halt warming that isn’t happening. This deeply concerns me. I wasn’t going to have a garden this year, but now am worried shelves may be empty in the fall. So, I’m out toiling in my potato patch, even as all my help vanishes for a bachelorette party. Seems a good reason to tune up the violins of self-pity and be a poet.

Look what they've done to your poet, Lord.
I came with skipping glee, lacking the guile
They employed, innocently looking toward
My triumph, explaining with a bright smile
How all should honor my sparkling wit,
But they did not concur: "Who gave this brat
The right to rule? The loud fool does not fit
Our ugliness, and we must teach him that
The beauty that he sees is not allowed."
Why do  they rule that You must not be seen?
Why be blind to silver in a cruising cloud?
You're so generous, while they are so mean.
I've been singing to the deaf, but now long
To return where men don't say right is wrong.

Where can one retreat to? I sort of like the simplicity of Psalm 123. One is just a child going to their Dad after enduring the contempt and ridicule of an arrogant bully. There is no belaboring justification, no analysis of whether one deserved to be bullied, no stressing of what one might have done better. One just brings a hurt heart, seeking healing.

Even after amazing victories it seems that King David, as a “man of the blood”, suffered some sort of Post-Traumatic Stress, and rather than victorious felt a need to retreat to a hiding place and basically adopt a fetal position and suck his thumb. All arrogance and egotism was put aside.

Lord, may I pay a visit? Hide in folds
Of fabric in the skirtings of Your throne?
Be hid in your brilliance? No despot holds
Power in such presence. No children groan
Bathed by such light, swaddled by fabric
So ornate. I need to find a safe retreat
For I have no excuse. I'm not sick
Nor poor, but suffer some strange defeat
I do not understand, and want to hide
Someplace safe and beyond all banal thought;
Someplace tucked in close to your warm side
Where David retreated after he'd fought
When his bones and heart ached. To You he turned
For You alone hold the peace we have spurned.

I have to confess there is healing in such retreat, even though I can roll my eyes at the “Safe Spaces” set up in colleges for the exceedingly tenderhearted, and the “mental health days” such tenderhearted people expect for the most commonplace trials. There is a difference between simpering retreat and King David’s retreat, revolving around how spattered by blood you are.

A sort of insult was added to injury, as I tottered about my potato patch, and the insult was a drought. The weather swung from bone-chilling east winds off the cold Atlantic to sweltering heat up from Georgia, and then back, and then forth, so it was seldom comfortable, yet I had to water my seedlings. When seeds first sprout and have a single root like a thread, a dry day can kill them. Usually, my complaint in New Hampshire springs is too much rain, and mud, and seeds rotting, but this year I’ve had to haul about kinking hoses and an old watering can. This gives me one more reason for violins, but I was very glad to see rain in our forecast after a long, hard workweek. The air had shifted back to muggy heat from Georgia, and the sunset was obscured by gray, so I trusted the forecast and skipped the final watering at sunset, muttering TGIF and heading home.

The next morning I awoke before the sun, and, looking outside, saw the driveway was still bone dry. It was warm enough to walk outside barefoot and feel the dust between my toes, yet so humid my hair was lank, but there was no mist and no heat lightning flashing from afar. I sighed and knew my weekend must start with watering, which was an extra chore on my list. But first I’d sip a coffee and attempt a sonnet:

Early summer heat sneaks into mild May
And the night strangely swelters without crickets.
Drought makes the frogs sparce. I want skies of gray
And raindrops, not crisp leaves in the thickets.
My seedlings yearn for drenching thunder-rain;
They feel my watering can is too meager.
The humid night only hears an upstairs fan
Drone electrically, when trees seem eager 
For flashes of lightning drawing nearer.
All is awaiting relief, wet winds that croon
Rain's drumming; rainbows when skies get clearer, 
Like India before the yearned monsoon,
Yet I am not only awaiting the rain.
A Savior is coming to heal our great pain.

Just as I finished the sonnet, I heard a wonderful noise outside. After a long winter of leafless trees, there is no sound quite so sweet as the first platting of raindrops in young leaves, growing as a sigh from a sweetened darkness before dawn, and surrounding you with mercy.

I called it “a sign” and crossed out “water seedlings” from my Saturday-list.

THE POWERLESS POWERFUL (Revised)

I tend to garden in a somewhat primitive manner, ignoring all the gifts of modern science. Some people call this “organic”, but in my case I think it may be that science involves math, and math was never a favorite subject of mine in school. In any case I’d rather spend hours killing bugs by hand than use insecticides, and I prefer compost to chemical fertilizers. However, I have noticed the results of my efforts are not always good. My crops often can be quite pathetic, yet occasionally are strangely fabulous, and I have had no clue why what happened occurred. Sometimes I’d just shrug, but other times I’d do what one does when one doesn’t understand mathematical equations: I’d search the web, and find videos created by other non-mathematical gardeners.

I tended to skim through a large number, because gardeners do not always agree with each other even about the simplest subject, such as, “how deep should I plant my potatoes?” Sifting through all the answers, I have learned some odd things which may only be true for the soil of one garden on earth. But the sheer variety of experience is far more wholesome (in my eyes) than the sort of one-size-fits-all rigidity the government tends to fasten upon.

You can learn the most amazing things, if only you listen to the little people who politicians only pretend to listen to, and I’d like to share a couple of revelations I gained by listening. The funny thing is that in both cases I began by following advice which poisoned my garden, and only later followed advice which provided an antidote.

The first example involved hearing that adding coffee grounds to soil was a good thing. One of my sons worked in a coffee shop, so I was able to cover a section of my garden with copious layers of grounds. I was dismayed at the miserable growth I saw the first year. I am partial to cauliflower, but my cauliflower were stunted and produced pathetic heads not much bigger than a silver dollar. I cursed the bleeping bleepity-bleep New Age bleep who said coffee grounds were good. I swore the traces of caffeine had practically killed my cauliflower, and vowed never to allow coffee grounds within a mile of my garden ever again. But…the next year…that particular part of my garden produced the most amazing cauliflower I have ever grown, with heads bigger than dinner plates. What the heck?

I had no one to ask questions to, but by searching through a slew of websites of other gardeners I chanced upon the answer. Which was?

Coffee grounds are loaded with good stuff, but before they can release the good stuff they first must break down. The process of breaking down requires certain ingredients. This includes some nutrients which cauliflower require. So, at first, as the coffee grounds break down, they rob the cauliflower of the food it needs. But later, once the grounds are broken down, they supply everything a cauliflower needs to puff out to county-fair award-winning size.

It turns out this this true of all sorts of things people use to mulch between the rows in their garden. For example, if you use grass-clippings, you are using a mulch that eats nitrogen like crazy as it rots, and the nearby vegetables will be deprived of a vital fertilizer.

Heck with that. There is no way I’m going to quit my clippings, for the alternative is weeding between the rows. But I will provide my mulch, both the grass clippings and the oak leaves, with nitrogen. I will water between the rows with “manure tea”. That way they won’t need to rob my plants, and will decompose more swiftly.

The second example involved the fact I heard potatoes liked the nutrients in wood ashes, but the crop didn’t look like it liked it. The potatoes were smaller, and tended to have “scabby” skin. By searching the web I learned that potatoes like slightly “sour” (acidic) soil, but wood ashes “sweeten” (make alkaline) the soil. In other words, I was giving the potatoes the right nutriants but the wrong environment. In fact I was in a way poisoning the very plants I was attempting to help. But what was the antidote?

Vinegar. Ordinary household vinegar. When it is strong it can be used as a weed killer, as the acid kills plants, but if you water it down greatly it doesn’t bother the plants it touches, and sweetens the soil.

I spent this afternoon watering the hundred potato plants I have planted to feed my family next winter with very-watered-down vinegar, to make the soil more hospitable. If my plants all fall over dead tomorrow you will read a funny blog post tomorrow, but I doubt a cup of 5% vinegar for every gallon of water is caustic enough to do more than alter soil chemistry. I have high hopes I have improved things.

But I give these two examples to demonstrate a subtle power small people have, though they do not feel powerful. The rich and powerful may deride the small as “bitter clingers”, but the little people have the ability to derail the plans of the mighty.

The intent of the “Swamp” does not seem to bode well for ordinary Americans, as mothers who can’t breast-feed now can’t get baby formula, and energy prices rise so high it seems the public must freeze next winter. If I was all alone, even the success of my potato patch could only feed a few besides myself. But I am not alone. I may be just one old man pushing seventy, perhaps over producing (if I don’t kill my crop), with (God willing) a few extra potatoes to share with neighbors, but there are millions of others, male and female, old and young, also over-producing in their own small ways. We do not need to know each other’s names. We just do our best, and exchange our abundance when we can, (not merely our potatoes but what we’ve learned about potatoes) when we can, and all the tiny drops creates flood, a Power the “Swamp” never admitted existed as it craved power, but a Power invisible and indivisible that now causes the Swamp to shrink in dread.

The Swamp thinks it holds the keys to power, but there are powers and principalities that make Washington DC look small.

For example, it is supposedly possible for a mere mortal, like you and I, to dethrone the entity called “Zeus” by the Greeks, and “Indra” by the Hindu. You don’t need to have anyone vote for you. You simply need to endure an extreme penance. (It would kill me after four days.) If you can endure forty days, you dethrone the prior Zeus and become the new boss, able to hurl thunderbolts.

Yet there is a very cool story in Hindu tradition about how this mighty figure in the spiritual hierarchy got his come-uppance.

The story begins with this Zeus/Indra power being very loving and throwing no thunderbolts, and giving a village next to a mountain perfect rains and ample crops. The Zeus/Indra expected the villagers to thank him with songs and praises and worship, but a little boy in the village said, “We shouldn’t worship him; we should worship the mountain.”

The villagers were astounded and asked why they should worship an inanimate mountain when they could worship an animate dude with amazing power. And then the little boy produces a wonderful stream of logic, (which amazes me for it is so like the logic of my boyhood’s boring Unitarian Church, which only cared for scientific fact, and couldn’t believe men could do cool stuff like walk on water or part the Red Sea) (unless it could be scientifically replicated.)

But, three to five thousand years before Unitarians existed, this little villager named Krishna materially and scientifically described how the mountain uplifted the air, which created rains, which washed minerals from the soil to feed the grasses, which fed the cows, which made the milk which fed the village. The Zeus/Indra didn’t create any of that. The Zeus/Indra just oversaw what already was there, created by the Creater, and therefore what already was there should be worshipped. In other words, the mountain is more worthy of worship than the fellow able to throw lightning bolts.

The Zeus/Indra character lost it, when he saw the little boy had persuaded the entire village to worship the mountain and not him. How could they not thank him for all his hard work? He should teach them a lesson! Therefore he used his power to hurl down thunderbolts and torrential rain.

The villagers were of course terrified, and afraid they had made a big mistake, but the little boy said, “Don’t be afraid.” Then, not with his index finger but his little finger, he lifted the entire mountain and used it as an umbrella to shelter the villagers from the lightning bolts and downpours of the offended Zeus/Indra.

At that point it seemed to occur to the Zeus/Indra that maybe he was not so big after all, and perhaps he wasn’t so worthy of worship. He recognized the little boy was a child of the True Creator, (Brahma, God the Father), the Only One Worthy of Worship, and that he’d had a lot of nerve to demand he himself recieve worship. Then, though he had vastly more power than any in the current-day “Swamp” have, Zeus/Indra bowed down to the Creator.

I suspect it will be a while before we see the those in the current-day “Swamp” bow down to what Rules the ordinary villagers they sneer-at and call, “bitter clingers.” But that is because they don’t understand power, though they imagine they are experts. They have risen too far, and have forgotten the soil that feeds us all. They dream they control who will eat and who will starve, without ever dirtying their fingertips by planting a seed. But the bumpkins they distain are miles above their heads, when it comes to dirt knowledge (such as simple soil chemistry.) Bumpkins do plant seeds, and therefore have more first-hand control over who will eat and who will starve, even though they never desire such power. In actual fact they are just molecules, and the true Power is what controls them. To God goes the glory.

In a strange sense those who think they have power don’t, while those who think they don’t, do.

The tale of Gideon in the Old Testament seems a good example of great power unexpectly appearing through the actions of the smallest and weakest, who seem most inconsequential.

Gideon was the weakest member of the weakest family of the weakest clan yet was fated to have the power to crush a huge invading army.

Gideon is first seen behaving in a way that seems to demonstrate fear of the invading Midianites, (who arrive at harvest and steal everyone’s food). He is threshing his wheat in a wine press, (which is not where an invader would ordinarily look for grain.) An angel appears and calls him a Great Warrior. I imagine Gideon looked over his shoulder, for he could not think of himself in that manner. In fact, he is so doubtful he is up to the task of saving his nation that, even though scripture specifically forbids “putting God to the test”, he demands proof, in a sense proving how faithless he is by three times “putting God to the test”. God passes the test three times, and then promptly stresses the newfound faith created in Gideon, putting Gideon to the test three times. Three times he asks Gideon to diminish his army until Gideon faces thousands of Midianites with a paltry 300 men. Yet his tiny force routs the enemy. Those who think they have power don’t, while those who doubt they have power, do.

The puffed-up people of the Swamp think they have power, but they don’t. They strut like peacocks, but they are like peacocks getting smaller and smaller, like a deflating balloon. Where once they began as bigshot peacocks, looming above the common man, they have gotten smaller and smaller until now they barely measure up to a common man’s ankle bone. The public stands aghast at the smallness of their behavior, and the public is amazed by how they seem determined to overachieve smallness by becoming microscopic. Already they are looking silly as they strut and fan their tiny tails, for they are smaller than gerbils. They think they are mighty but, if they get any smaller, they soon shrink past a certain point and suffer the indignity of becoming invisible.

Who would wish that on anyone? I would like to advise them in ways which might prevent their shrinkage. But they censor me and make it difficult to find me on search engines. They don’t want to hear what a bumpkin has to say. They say, “La-la-la. I’m not listening” and think that demonstrates power.

Therefore, I must do what a bumpkin has to do. Just be a tiny individual among millions. The Swamp can refuse to count our votes, but they can’t deny our power. It is millions of tiny people doing millions of tiny deeds, but it is controlled by What may be invisible yet is mighty, and What makes little specks of dust add up to a power which I think can not only produce lots of potatoes, but also can drain the Swamp.