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Calmer reading, maybe

Recovering from Cormac McCarthy leads me to think of the Jayber Crow character, thanks to Wendell Berry. All of McCarthy’s male characters seems to follow a road of understated self-abnegnation, self-denial, but mainly an inability to steer away from the rocks. Fate as immutable. Setting a mind to follow a path to the darkest and most futile end. Jayber was somewhat the same way, and somewhat like a monk on a quest to explore how much he could deny himself. How and why do authors earn accolades for taking characters and readers on such horrible journeys?? I mean really. Exploring slow-moving trauma not my forte, I rekkin. But I read the books. Go figger. Makes me feel good by comparison? Dunno, but I do know how to have a good time, as long as it does not involve staying up too late. 😉

Have been lightening up with some magazines, including National Review (just to see what the opposition is feeding upon), Harper’s, and Funny Times. Also, The 100 Most Deadly Things on the Planet, and the Dangerous Book for Boys (juvenile literature rescued from the trash in my role as a dumpster anthropologist). Said dumpster anthropology has been paying some benefits, including upgrading my technology and adding to my retirement funding. Just sayin.

Right now, I smell of woodsmoke, having stopped by a gumbo and chili cookoff. I need to go get a squeeze bottle of my hotsauce for some competitors I ran into—not that it would push them over the top, but just to take part. Barbecue and chili contests part of your social milieu?? Cooking as competition is not my idea of fun, but good food is always in order. May we all have all we need of it.

Crickets are singing here, btw; Spring.

The SBA is in town, rendering low interest loans to folks hit by the tornado. I bit on one such loan after Katrina, and then immediately paid it back in full to get out of it. Their necessity of having to co-sign everything after the loan just put too big a delay into the picture that was already super slow motion. Just sayin. I had that luxury.

I hope you have the luxury of doing things on your own peaceful, productive schedule, mliswilltravel.

Sun climbs higher

What a racket the birds make these days. Telling each other news of the greatest import, and more and more, what is of import is that their conspecifics stay out of “their” territory. Just sayin. Wrens, towhees, and cardinals are definitely defending territory, but the mockingbirds are not yet. Soon, very soon. Japanese Magnolia past full bloom, Forsythia blooming in its many forms, and the earliest Narcissus are scenting the air. Slapped mosquito 20January, I think, so the news from Spring is not all good. Again, just sayin.

Tornado recovery proceeds apace. After Katrina, there was a plague of flat tires regionwide because of all the roofing materials blown about, and I guess this plague is more localized. It seems the storm cut a 25 mile swath about a half mile wide, and not all of that swath was uninhabited. Bless us all. Shelter now, and roofs soon, I hope.

Finally did begin McCarthy’s Cities of the Plain, and am down to the skinny last pages where impending doom hovers over ever word. I know what to expect, I will read to the end, and only take comfort from McCarthy’s idea that we can’t expect much from justice in this world. I can cling to hope that humans can learn not to be so headlong in their use and misuse of other humans, but…. It was my only resolution this year to remain hopeful. Daunting requirement. Evidence mounts against hope daily. Ahhhhhh, the humanity.

Hope your humanity is holding out, mliswilltravel.

“She patted his hand. Gnarled, ropescarred, speckled from the sun and years of it. The ropy veins that bound them to his heart. There was map enough for men to read. There God’s plenty of signs and wonders to make a landscape. To make a world. She rose to go.
Betty, he said.
I’m not what you think I am. I aint nothin. I dont know why you put up with me.
Well, Mr. Parham, I know who you are. And I do know why. You go to sleep now. I’ll see you in the morning.
Yes mam.”

This is the last we hear of Billy Parham, 78 years old and the only survivor of three young men who went to Mexico in the old days between 1940 and 1950. Hardscrabble West Texas and New Mexico cowboys. Cormac McCarthy, Cities of the Plain.

More reading and thinking

The wrens, towhees, and cardinals vie to be the earliest bird to sing these days. Soon, the cardinals will emerge as the clear winners, but until then….and migrants and their unaccustomed songs are already heard. Spring, I tell you, and tornadoes, with damage only half a mile from me. I hope I have had my storm for my life in Katrina, and I feel for those who were damaged and the families in grief. Tornadoes are the barracudas of weather, striking swiftly and vanishing into nothingness. Evade a hurricane, yes; a tornado, not in this world.

Saw mating wrens the other day, and a hawk mating flight this morning. Spring. Spring. The only thing wrong with Spring is that it is followed by seven months of Summer. Just sayin. The garden was flattened by temps in the teens, which are rare around here, so I am left with onions, garlic, and thankfully, the wildflowers.

Hope your wildflowers are waiting for you, no matter how patient you must be, mliswilltravel.

Finished The Crossing, by Cormac McCarthy. Have not had the temerity to pick up Cities of the Plain yet, but the last paragraph of Crossing gave me some hope. Can only take so much of McCarthy’s unrelenting pounding. Ugh.

“…God could not be spoken for and that men with wicked histories often enjoyed lives of comfort and that they died in peace and were buried with honor. He said that it was a mistake to expect too much of justice in this world. He said that the notion that evil is seldom rewarded was greatly overspoken…” A small town priest trying to comfort a girl who just lost her father and two brothers to government murderers, The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy.

“At last she said that God looked after everything and that one could no more evade his care than evade his judgment. She said that even the wicked could not escape his love.” A girl, comforting an Americano, The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy.

Reading and Observing

13Jan2017–First day of Spring by my reckoning, as on this one day I heard the first territorial cardinal singing, saw the first honeybee of the year, received my first biting fly bite, stood in my first fire ant bed of the year, worked the garden shirtless, heard a toad calling, saw a teeny tiny lizard among the rose thorns, and a large flight of flickers feeding on the ground. This is within a week of temps in the teens, and our high temp yesterday was 80. Just sayin.

Much like Harry Potter (earlier posts), I am 20 years late in reading Cormac McCarthy. Was given the Border Trilogy books, and have read All the Pretty Horses and have begun The Crossing. I credit McCarthy with forcing me to forget my sensibilities of plot and dialogue in favor of diving in midstream with him and his characters, and I was soon caught up in the booted intrigue of …Horses. The Crossing is a bit more conventional, with yet another young man lacking impulse control as the lead, but satisfying overall. And, I get to practice my rusty skills at opening reference texts to the right page on the first try as I leaf through my Spanish dictionary to get to the nuts of his dialogue. McCarthy sometimes just likes to hear himself talk, as most humans do, but I like his spare and wry way of looking at the world, for the most part. And such a world he channels.

I hope you are channeling the world you wish, mliswilltravel

“He thought the world’s heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.” All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy–just an example of liking to hear himself talk. Dense and convoluted. If you rejoice in the music of language, great. If you delight in convolution and density, see also Elaine Svenonius, The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization.

The Old Days

In the olden days, I was always fooling with yeast doughs, and having a great time at it. Recently, especially down South, I have only been interested in multiplying yeast cultures during the cool months, and even then, not much at all. In those olden days, I used to crank up wild yeast cultures (sourdough starters) on a regular basis, and for the first time in years, I have such a starter going. I picked some wild grape leaves before the frost took them all down, added a few washed storebought grapes, and now have a starter that may be one of the best ever. I also have a commercial yeast culture from the old Hodgson’s Mill strain, and I have been mixing my starters about half and half for bread and flapjacks. I think I have a winner in terms of flavor and aroma, as well as longevity and a fine crumb/grain in the products. Yay!!

Jim, a friend of mine, has been baking and baking and baking, even over the hot months, and he has gotten me thinking about what I used to do way back when. His baguettes weren’t coming out the way he wanted, and we discussed mixing a very wet dough and letting it have a very long fermentation. We also discussed leaving the dough uncovered so moisture would leave the dough, which would help it tighten up over time. I have been doing all of the above, but not hoping to achieve baguetteness, just doing huge blob loaves for sandwiches. Did I include a picture??

Anyway, with the recent hard freeze finally knocking my garden flat (hope the carrots and onions will stand back up), I have more time for bread, more time in the kitchen in general, and more time to get into other mischief. Just delivered a load of new bargain basement clothing for the domestic abuse shelter, and I really appreciate what those folks do. Now, for the mischief….

Hope your mischief keeps your grin muscles in topnotch shape, mliswilltravel.

First Loaf of the Year

01Jan2017–a big ole blob loaf for sammiches:

Hack poet, et al

Well, I have covered the armchair philosophy line item in recent memory, have been gardening to cover that task listing, and the human condition is always on display, so that part is easy (see the Resume and… page). Time to haul out some hack poetry, below.

I hope you and yours have had a restful holiday season, and that 2017 is your best year yet, mliswilltravel.

Broken Chair

On the side of the road.
Going to pieces in the rain.
No one will stop to help.
To repair you.
To sit upon you.
To house a stack of books.
To steady a toddler.

Did you fall or were you thrown?
Will someone miss you?
Will you miss someone?
Going to pieces.
On the side of the road.