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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #098 Published August 1, 2009 ~~~== == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
Where liberty dwells, there is my country.
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in a letter to Benjamin Vaughn, March 14, 1783
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #098, August 2009Table of Contents
1. August's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for August
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Pompano en Papillote
6. Poem from Flowers of Shanidar:"Immortal Tracts "
7. Reviews and Articles Added for August:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: The Journal of Thoreau — Volume 13 , December 1859 to July 1860 by Henry David Thoreau
- ARJ2: Lamothe-Cadillac, His Early Life in France — Written in Linked Prose Poems in French and English by Beverly Matherne
- ARJ2: Cruciverbalism — Crossword Fanatics Guide to Life in the Grid by Stanley Newman with Mark Lasswell
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
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1. August Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.
The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.
This month Violet and Joey learn about Yoga.
#1 "Yoga" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/072009jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR August:
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Each month we take time to thank two of our good readers of Good Mountain Press Digest, books and reviews. Here's our two worthy Honored Readers for this month. One of their names will be in the TO: address line of your email Digest notification. Our Honored Readers for August are:
Mary Hicks in New Orleans
Richard Scarberry in Sacramento, CA
Congratulations, Mary and Richard!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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A big thanks goes out to all of you who taken the time to send a Blank Email in Reply to the Topica.com invite you received. If anyone is reading this who was unsuccessful at Subscribing, it's likely because you did not send a Blank Email. Please try it again when you receive another invite this month. I am re-sending the Invitation again this month to give everyone a second chance to subscribe.
I survived the shock and awe which came with having to start from scratch again with my Good Mtn Digest subscription list. We have most of our Good Readers signed up, but there's probably a bunch who misread or misinterpreted the instructions who will get another chance. Second chances only come around one time, don't they?
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FIG PRESERVES and FOURTH OF JULY
Our week on the beach was to begin on July 5th, so I began picking my figs early and often to ensure that I had enough to preserve the figs before we left town for a week. I had just finished off the only fig preserves we had left in the house and they were from 2005. The 2006 figs had been eaten already and we didn't get enough figs during 2007 or 2008 to make any preserves. The fig tree was apparently stunted by the red Hawaiian sugar cane I had planted back behind our fig tree. I suspect that the cane sucked up all the ground water and the figs didn't get enough to get started. After the first year I pulled up the sugar cane, but the next year, no figs again, and I got concerned. I had a baby fig tree come up from seed under the mother tree, but when I transplanted it next to the mother to take her place, a dry spell killed it. So last year I bought a Celeste Fig tree in a pot and put it in the ground. At the same time, I pruned away the Southeast Corner of the mother fig tree to make light for the adopted fig tree. I expect it will grow up and produce figs for a couple of years in tandem with the mother and when she dies, the baby will be fully producing in her place. I have only place enough in full sun for one fig tree, and that is enough figs for us for a year.
As I picked the figs, I placed them daily into the large Magnalite pot and sprinkled daily with sugar, barely covering the new figs. Doing this, when the pot is full you don't need to add any water or very little because the bottom figs have been releasing their juice. The next step is to dump the rest of the five lbs of sugar on top and start it boiling. Boil until the syrup stage, about 230-235 degf. then pour into bottles right out of the Heat Stage of the dishwasher, tighten the caps and you're done. I like to re-use the Bon Maman preserve jars because they're small, easy to open, and hold a vacuum after several uses. They are often the first jars to Pop! indicating a firm vacuum, and I've never had preserves in them go bad. Being small, they also get used up fast and that prevents spoiling after opening.
I made exactly 4.5 quarts of Fig Preserves with a pot full of fresh figs, but I did need to add some juice at the end of the preserve cooking. Cooked it to 232-235 degf to make syrup and ran out of juice again. To take care of that, I quickly made some fresh simple syrup and kept it hot to add to any dried- up preserves at the bottom of the pot, so that all jars had liquid covering the top preserves. May be better to add SS at the end rather than adding more liquid. — Aahh! Music to my ears: first top popped on the cooling preserves! — Also I did not allow enough time for the Pot Cycle of the dishwasher to complete and had to hold the preserves till it did. That cycle must be well over an hour, so next time I'll use the Regular Cycle and skip that extra up front wash to get the glass preserve jars ready sooner.
Our bounty was: Eight Bon Maman jars, four pint jars and 1 half-full large mouth quart jar. 8 Bon Mamans and five pint jars would have done exactly right. We'll eat out of the half-filled quart jar first, as too much air on top of the preserves prevents a vacuum seal and it doesn't pop. NOTE: our complete recipe for making fig preserves and photos of the process can be found here.
Our grandson Kyle had a fall on to concrete from the base of a statue during a Cub Scouts trip. He is fine now, but he endured a skull fracture and a twisted ankle. He is under "restricted duty" as far his play is concerned: no running on concrete or climbing on objects or wrestling with his brother or friends. I was thinking of Kyle as I worked on the fig preserves because Del was driving up to Gonzales to take John a house-warming gift for his new apartment and have dinner with him. Also to check on Kyle since we hadn't seen him since his fall. Del wanted me to go, but I couldn't have done the preserves if I had. Another pop! As soon as the preserves are done, there's packing for our Orange Beach to do. Plus a little matter of cooking a redfish courtboullion tomorrow and packing it up to take to Orange Beach for us, Robbie, Kathryn, three kids, Carla and Patrick, and maybe Maureen.
That was another day of cooking with a lot of uncertainty about how I would get a full pot of courtboullion to Orange Beach. I had promised some to our neighbor, Damon, but they were out of town apparently for the Fourth which is the next day on a Saturday. But Del and I ate heartily that night, and as we were ready to finish packing the next day, I heard Damon's truck starting up, and caught him and his wife as they were leaving. I rushed into the kitchen and filled up a large container for them.Told them to just chop up some redfish filets in chunks, mix them into the courtboullion base and heat for about 20 minutes on medium. I decided to carry the base and the redfish separately because the redfish was already frozen and I needed to make a veggie version (just base) and fish version to meet the palettes of the family members. We usually eat the redfish courtboullion over rice, but when there are kids around, many of whom don't eat anything that didn't come out of a package, cooking spaghetti makes a good meal for those spoiled palettes with a little butter over the steaming pasta. Plus the courtboullion tastes great by itself or over anything. After parceling out Damon's and subtracting what Del and I ate over two days, the rest of the base fit into the large Tupperware container just fine and set in the bottom of the ice chest and covered with the ice from the ice maker in the garage it traveled the 5 hour trip just fine.
SAND CASTLES, BEACH BUMS, and POMPANO
Del and I left for Orange Beach about 7 am, stopping around Biloxi for some wild Maine Blueberry pancakes with Whipped butter over them. We always allow extra time for Crackerbarrel to tame the blueberries and whip the butter! Then we drove all the way down to Orange Beach, getting there around 12:15 pm. We went to the office and we told them we had arrived and expected our promised VIP Membership Early Check-in at 2 pm, and were told that was impossible, in fact, that there was no such thing. I left the office and Del talked to the two personnel.She reported to me what the guy said about our VIP membership, "You were sold a bill of goods." In other words, he blatantly claimed that we were lied to by our sales rep and all the other condo folks. We finally got into our room at 3 pm after we had to do all the heavy lifting to get them to call somebody. "It's a holiday weekend and all the offices are closed," was the first reply to our request to call someone. Well, Del persisted, and guess what they found out. We were right. One of them said, "We have 4 VIP members coming today and nobody told us." Well, we're not a nobody and we told them several hours earlier and they completely ignored us, saying that we were lying, in effect. Suddenly the "bill-of-goods" guy disappeared from sight, and the woman turned into our best friend, helping us very politely.
Later that day we had moved everything into our 1-Br unit and checked out the 2-Br we had loaned to our offspring. Rob and Kathryn were the first to arrive, with their three kids, Sierra, Walden, and Emerson. We decided to take them to the Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores for dinner. This is a place which claims to love kids, and the several times we have been there with kids, we found the waiters very good with satisfying our grandkids and their parents.It was a half-hour wait just to get a remote beeper, so they gave us a business card and took our name. They didn't have enough beepers for the crowd on Sunday night, and it took another hour to get seated, but the place is full of fun things to see and do. Feed the catfish in the bay which surrounds the complex of restaurant and shops. Look at the sunset, which you can get a hint of behind Del and me in the banner photo which is the masthead for this Personal Notes section. Play video games in the arcade. Walden loved shooting the video wolves, bears, and such. Buy stuff in the shops. I got Sierra a refrigerator magnet to take home with her. The supper was delicious. Everyone ate theif fill, and Rob's gang took some lunch home for the next day.
First day was very busy. That morning Kathryn put on a blouse whose color Del said matched her eyes, so I immediately shot a photo of her which came out great. The glow of the compliment Del and I paid her about her eyes no doubt was still present when I took the picture. You can see it at the very bottom of this Digest. Took Robbie to Skecher's so he could get some sandy-colored Skechers which Kathryn said were the sexiest men's shoes Rob could have bought . After that we went to Alvin's Island and bought two beach chairs, four boogie boards, and a orange Orange beach towel for pre-teen Sierra. She said it was cool, even before I gave it to her. Rob made a latte for me in his 1964 model Italian expresso machine. Pretty neat. Then Del made me and Rob some salmon sandwich's after which the storm came up and we had to lower the canopy on the beach. You can see a photo of the clouds over the condo complex. It rained but not very long and it was the only time we lowered the canopy for the rest of our stay. Got Rob registered at the desk officially and verified that Carla and Patrick due that night were already covered.
A cloudy, non-beach day, the kids enjoyed the pool right outside their unit. Got a photo of me and Sierra with her orange beach towel wrapped around her when she came in.We played Scrabble in the afternoon. First Del, Kathryn, and I and later Robbie joined us, but ended up helping Del and, of course, learning to play under Matherne's Rules of Scrabble in which the dictionary is an integral part of the playing. Each player needs a dictionary because there is no time limit and no challenging a word. You are expected to have looked up and give the definition of any strange word. You really need a dictionary per person, and we had only two, but we allowed the person working on a word the first dictionary and the next in line the other dictionary.
At about 5 pm I called Carla, and she said that she, Patrick, Maureen, and Gabe were about 20 minutes away, so I hurriedly cooked the redfish courtboullion and heated up the veggie courtboullion. Everyone except Emerson ate some and most loved it and had second helpings, especially Patrick. We had a great time. Del later took a photo of me with three of my four children, only Yvette was missing this year; she was at home in Bellaire, Texas working this week. But Robert Hilman, Maureen Grace, and Carla Marie were present. It was for weeks like this one that Del and I bought these two condos on the beach. Next year one of Del's four and possible other Hatchetts will join us in these condos.
After dinner Patrick and Kathryn took some of the kids to the Go Kart Track and Del, my three kids and I shared stories on the couch in our place until it was about time for The Closer to start. They left and we watched Closer. Later we went down to make sure Maureen knew what our room number was. Gabe had left his cell phone up here, so I went to take it to their unit there was Gabe was standing waiting to get inside, and I gave him the phone.
The next day the sky had begun to clear and we had a full day at the beach. The kids and I used the boogie boards, and Maureen worked on her annual mermaid on the beach sand sculpture, using her sister Carla as the model. Both the mermaid and model caught a lot of attention from guys walking by on the beach.
Late in the afternoon, the whole gang had begun to congregate on the patio of the unit next to the pool, and were hanging around as if waiting for something. It dawned on me at last that this was to be a birthday celebration for me that I had heard hints of. Sure enough, a chocolate cake with candles appeared which I cheerfully blew out. The Breyer's Natural Vanilla over the cake was a delicious treat, and afterwards Kathryn and Maureen joined us for Scrabble. I had the best night ever at Scrabble — the letters were flowing just right, as if the Birthday Gods were smiling on me.
Then someone yelled that there was an "Illumination Emergency" and Kathryn and I ran out to the beach and there was the most incredible sunset that I have ever seen. It was the last of the storm clouds moving away from the beach in the West, and it was a breath-taking exit performance in concert with the reddening rays of the setting Sun. One could not take a bad picture except by waiting, so we shot photos and tried our best to capture digitally what can only be best experience in person. I later found a face of an Angel in one of the fiery clouds which Kathryn later wrote me about. See Letters at the bottom of the Digest for photo of the angel face.
The next day was another full day which began with a walk on the beach with Carla. When we returned, everyone except Maureen and the sleeping log on the couch (Gabe) were gone to the "GoKart" place. I invited Carla and Maureen to come to Dizzy Bean's but Maureen already had her coffee, so Carla and I went. We had a medium latte each and talked. I shared stories of events she knew one side of as a child and which I could now give her the other side. For example, the day we were driving and my three girls were excitedly talking about their favorite character on a Saturday morning cartoon show. "Let's hurry and get home to watch Penelope Pissed-Off," one of them said. Carla owned up to remembering this event, but had no idea why we reacted the way we did in the front seat. Only years later, when she saw some "Penelope Pitstop" poster on her college campus, did she suddenly know why we had laughed.On the way home Carla spotted an eagle in her eyrie feeding her young. I stopped immediately to take a photo, it definitely looks like a bald eagle with her white head. Take a look at what we saw. My SONY T-300 does not have a telephoto lens (it fits flat in my pocket), but it did a remarkable job on this distant shot with its small Zeiss lens. When we got back to our unit, I made us each a half English Muffin, toasted with butter and my freshly-made fig preserves. I told her about my fig dance this morning. It was a jig I did because the fig preserves tasted so good. I got this incredible feeling and had to move around to keep it from disappearing right away. Carla loved the fig preserves and I promised her a pint when she comes to visit. Till then, I gave her the half-full Bon Maman jar of fig preserves to eat and take back with her.
In the afternoon, Kathryn, Rob , and Maureen built sand sculptures in a contest with each other on the beach. I went out to see the progress and took photos. Kathryn did a resting lizard model of Chichenitza's Pyramid, Rob did a model of the Cube in Toronto, and Maureen a sand castle. I think Carla judged the Lizard as the best of show.
I came back and set up my vacation workstation to do some playing with sentences — that's my code phrase for final post-publication editing. During that phase, which must occur several days after the first proofing by Del, I read my words as if I were a new reader just come to them. After such a long break, I can read my own words as if someone else wrote them, and my super-critical editor comes into play.My words morph from sculptured stone back to clay to be re-shaped in my hands, any missed typos or missing words get fixed or added in, OCR error 1ike a one for an l are emended, phrases that I am no longer in love with get tossed into the digital bit basket, awkward sentences get hacksawed and welded into a more pleasing form, hyper links get added to pertinent references, and the final result pleases me immensely. I had three reviews I completed before going on vacation, and the time had come to do the post publication edit on them. First, I tackled "The Courage to Create" and got it all cleaned up. Next was Eugene Onegin and I finished it in fine fettle. Once more the sonnets of Alexander Pushkin which fill that novel inspired me to wax poetic for a short passage.
Now may I complete with attendant rhyme,
the Counterclockwise romp through time
given us by author Ellen Langer,
who among us for a time will linger.
I had just finished "Counterclockwise" editing, when I went down to see Carla, Patrick, Gabe and Maureen leave for Beaumont and Metairie.
 Next day, the three sculptures on the beach were still rising above the sand after enduring some lower erosion from the high tide of the morning. Lots of jewels spread out on the Jewelry Store of the Sea along the beach — prompted me to resurrect a poem Immortal Tracts to accompany a photo of the shells this year. Rob & Kathryn came by later as Del and I sat eating and reading. I suggested a hike on the Nature Trail in the nearby Gulf Shores park. Looked at the eagles nests, didn't see any eagles that day. We walked along the path. It was hot and sunny mostly but with a porch swing was set up on an open area of a high knoll with a sea breeze coming up the rise that was pleasant. Emerson saw two lizards doing the wild thing on the trunk of a tree. They were almost invisible right on, but from the side, you could see them clearly. Kathryn was a good sport and posed a photo with the engaging couple. We saw a sign warning of alligators in the area and Kathryn found some live Spanish moss on a live oak tree to wear as a disguise, just in case.
Rob had a phone interview which disappointed him and he decided that it was time to head home. Also we had noticed that morning that the AC on his Ford Truck was not working properly and that meant traveling at night for comfort, so he decided they needed to leave that night and drive overnight back to Indiana. Del took Kathryn and Sierra with her to Tanger Mall in Foley for some girl shopping in the afternoon while I babysat the two boys who were playing in the pool while Rob was on his phone. After the kids left for Bloomington, Del and I watched an old Clint Eastwood movie. He played a down-and-out journalist with a nose for the truth who did what nobody else could do in 6 years: he proved this guy on death row was innocent. Brenda Leigh Johnson's Major Crimes department on The Closer could have done it in an hours episode a couple of days real-time because they would have looked at the same evidence and interviewed the one witness who turned out to be the perp. Eastwood likes doing it the hard way: he did it in only six hours! We missed the beginning of the movie and so I can't tell you the title, but it's worth a viewing.
Next day was Friday. Got up and inspected Rob's vacated unit, looked just fine. Found some clothes left by Patrick. Del and I walked on the beach. Began our Nei Kung exercises and by the time we got to the middle of them, the guy we were watching on the beach had caught a fish, a large 16" Pompano.I took a photo of him landing it, lifting it from the water, and when it looked like he was ready to release it, I called out to him, "I'll take it." and I did. We carried it up toward the condos and after we washed our feet we washed it in water, it revived and I could barely hold it while Del took another photo. It was well over the size and creel limits for Alabama: 12" and 3 per day. I cleaned it in the sink, learning from my first time fileting this fish that it's better to pull the skin off with a pliers ala catfish. Unfortunately I had no suitable pliers with me. Instead of cooking it in a strange kitchen, I decided to freeze it and hand the job over to the Chef of Bobby Jeaux's Kitchen. I had been wanting to post a recipe for Pompano en Papilotte and this was my chance. Pompano is a great tasting fish. Check out the recipe as it is the Recipe of the Month for this issue of the Digest.
Later I went to Dizzy Bean's Coffeeshop and got a hot Cranberry-Nut muffin and called Carla on the way home to see how they fared and to tell her we were holding some clothes for Patrick. When I mentioned the plaid walking shorts, Carla pretended to be enthused about our having found them.
That night we watched the rest of the "Benjamin Franklin" movie we had carried with us. Truly a great look at the famous statesman and scientist's life in docudrama. Interesting technique where the words spoken in the drama portion were actually the written words by the characters represented and the documentary comments were by various Franklin exegetes who helped weld the drama snippets together.
After that we played our first and only head-to-head Scrabble game and the final score was 471 to 421 and a good time was had by all trying to move into the lead till the final tile was clicked into place. Yes, one of us won — okay, we both won, how's that?
MAINTENANCE MAN, MIGHTY DOG SONG, and MAID of ORLEANS
One of the things I've noticed is that nothing gets repaired when I'm off on vacation at the beach. But the Maintenance Man showed up the day we arrived home and I let him know that we had some things needing repair. After mowing the lawns at Timberlane, I noticed the new grass catcher fabric bag was wearing out in the edges where it goes over the metal rim. Yes, I am also the lawn man. So I, the Maintenance Man, reinforced it with the industrial white duct tape. Found several rolls from Del's father's warehouse when we emptied it. One of the new beach chairs had bent and needed work. I replaced the cheap tin bar which had bent so easily and its two cheesy rivets with a solid metal bracket and two metal bolts. Works great. Salvaged the two bolts that were required and didn't have any more to do the other side, but so far the other side is holding. Then I had to use my Awl-in-All to stitch up the sewn seat material on one end of the same chair where it was unraveling. My goal when doing a repair is to use stronger materials than the original, which is rather easy these days of shoddy materials, and to make the object stronger and longer-lasting than when it came from China, er, the factory. The canopy top, a Diamond Peak product, has held up very well for three summers, but showed some signs of wear which needed attention. Two corners plus the peak was unsewing and needed the Awl-in-All and my hands to sew it better and stronger than it left the factory.
The Maintenance Man is also the Gardener and there was some ripe okra to be picked, along with bell peppers, and basil.I picked the ripe okra, basil, and bells, and gave them to the Chef who sautéed it with mushrooms, chopped creole tomato, and Rotel. Then Bobby Jeaux mixed in three large eggs left from our week at the beach. Delish! Compare with Bobby Jeaux's Recipe on-line here. Our Photographer spent a lot of time Saturday and Sunday after we got home processing photos from the trip and making sure they were all backed up before we went to sleep.
The Butler who acquired food and other household items for us had a trip to make to Winn-Dixie. In Orange Beach we found some Nature's Pride Stone-Ground bread at the Winn-Dixie there. So the Butler went off to check at our nearest Winn-Dixie. The result is worthy of note. Here's his report:
"I went to Winn-Dixie, walked all over the store and couldn't find the Bread Section. Turns out to be near the back of the store behind the vegetable section — if I had been doing all the grocery shopping there, I would have seen it, but just looking for bread, I couldn't see it. After checking both ends of the store, I looked up at the Signs for every aisle and nowhere was there a Bread aisle sign. Found the manager, named Scott, and asked him if they had Nature's Pride bread, he said, "No, only Nature's Own" and pointed me to the hidden Bread Section.
There on the shelf was Nature's Pride bread, but no Stone-Ground, only Whole Wheat. So I took a loaf to where Scott was and held up the loaf as I got close saying, "Let me introduce you to Nature's Pride." I then explained that the Orange Beach Winn-Dixie had it in stock, and would he see that it is stocked in this store? He said he would, but it sounded like a husband promising his wife to take out the garbage on a night when Monday Football is on. We'll see. I have so little success with Grocery Managers who are invariably male, that I'm hoping that women soon take over Supermarkets — they understand better than men the importance of particular brands of food.
Mighty Dog: that's my nickname for our Schnauzer, whose given name is Steiner. I began singing the "Mighty Mouse" song each morning, "Here he comes to save the day! Mighty Dog!" and he loved. Then one day, it occurred to me that he was always singing his best AROOO! in the morning for me and wagging his tail like crazy all the while till I gave him his doggie treat (dog biscuit). So one morning, I tried as best I could to remember the lyrics to the song for the long-running TV series of the 1960s, Wagon Train. It went something like "Wagon train, wagon train, keep on rolling along." Maybe you remember the melody — it was rather catchy. From this recollection came the new Mighty Dog Song:
"Mighty Dog, Mighty Dog,
Sing your song!
My canine audience of one loves it and my bed partner has not complained about it, so it's a big hit.
Maid of Orleans: that's a nickname for Joan of Arc, en francais: Jeanne d'Arc, whose golden statue graces the French Quarter in New Orleans, compliments of the citizens of France. She is in full armor riding a horse like a man, like the soldier she was, and carrying the pennant of France which she carried into battle leading the soldiers of France against the British troops. But for her single-minded and single-handed efforts, the country of France would not exist today, having been merged for centuries into the British empire. Just as she kept the French language alive on the European continent, so does New Orleans, en francais, Nouvelle Orleans, keep the French language alive on American continent (along with Quebec). A few days after we returned there was the laying of wreath at the foot of Jeanne d'Arc statue by the French Consul and a ceremony and celebration there on La Quatorzes Juillet (14 July) or Bastille Day, the French Independence Day. I drove down to the French Quarter and joined in the celebration and have a few photos to share with you.
Also I have a suggestion: Jeanne d'Arc was a real saint, canonized by the Catholic Church long ago, and can be rightly called Saint Jeanne or Saint Joan. She was also a real soldier, who led an entire country's troops to victory and the existence of the country as a separate entity. And she hailed from Orleans, the city from which New Orleans received its name. Would there be any more appropriate mascot for our New Orleans Saints than this marvelous Saint Joan? Could we not have someone dressed like her, riding a white steed into the Superdome to begin each Saints game?Perhaps a ride along the sidelines to mark a Touchdown? Perhaps with her long pennant with a Saints Fleur-de-lis trailing behind as she rode and led the Saints on the field of battle to victory? Too long for my taste, the Saints NFL Football club has had a static Fleur-de-lis on their helmets and other sports gear. It's time for a new dynamic Fleur-de-Lis to replace the stodgy one. If only the Saints president were a woman — surely she would understand and want a female mascot for her team. Maybe some day. A female president who led the Saints to victory in the Super Bowl would worthy of canonization herself in any Saint's fan's opinion.
31st and 40th Anniversaries:
This July marked Del and my 31st wedding anniversary and the 40th anniversary of Man setting foot on the Moon for the first time, on my 29th birthday. For our anniversary, I compiled a set of 101 photos of Del and me over the years onto a memory stick, the recent years from when digital photography became available, and put it into our digital frame to watch. That plus her Anniversary Card from me. Our Cat & Mouse dinner at Antoine's is my customary anniversary gift to her because it used to happen in July but has now moved into June. For the evening we chose to go to a Twilight Concert in City Park followed by an elegant dinner at Ralph's in the Park. Elegant, albeit noisy, as there was a birthday celebration of about twenty people who were loud and boisterous in the one-room restaurant. When they offered us a champagne to accompany our dessert, we opted out of anything that did not reduce the noise, and drove home to coffee and doberge cake for dessert in the quiet of our home. We watched a movie before going to bed.
The Fortieth Anniversary of the Moon Landing is memorable to me because that landing landed on my birthday, July 20. In an email to/from Chris and Carla Bryant, who shares with us a 31st wedding anniversary on the exact day and year, I mention what happened to me on my 29th birthday when we watched Man land on the Moon for the first time. (See Letters at Bottom) Our grandsons, Collin and Kyle Hatchet were visiting with us, so we took us to dinner at DiMartino's Deli that night and returned home for a small cake with three candles (which wouldn't go out) and some Brocato's Lemon Ice, a delicious local treat. The boys hadn't had it before and they loved it. They came into the kitchen with a huge balloon about 3' across which sang, "Have a Rocking Birthday" when tapped. Then they sang Happy Birthday to me and I blew out the candles, again and again, till finally I got two of them to stay out, and the third had to be snuffed out separately. I began to make magic passes after blowing out the candles to coax them back to life, which was a hit with the boys.
Del went to Alexandria to visit our daughter Kim for an extended weekend with our son, John, and his two boys, Collin and Kyle. I wanted to make this trip, but at the last minute, I decided that with all the activities scheduled this month and no reviews completed by the middle of the month I needed to stay home and write those three reviews I had planned. I had completed reading two of the books at the beach and was reading ahead in the Thoreau journal to complete it before the end of July so it could be included. I finished those reviews while Del was at Kim's and was able to post the reviews to the internet so that she could read and begin her copy-editing before she returned. When I mentioned in an email to Professor Kevin Dann that I had completed Volume 13 of the 14 Thoreau Journals, he said, "So you finished another lap of Thoreau!" He is the only other person I know who's read all of the journals — he's written a book on Thoreau which is awaiting publication by SUNY Press.
When Del returned from Alexandria she had the two grandsons with her to begin their week's visit with us. I knew that I'd be spending time with them, and that was another reason for getting the reviews done before they arrived. They arrived on my birthday about 5 pm and I had my favorite, the oyster poboy, Del her Italian salad, with the boys eating meatballs, spagetti or fried shrimp at the local Deli. We came home and sat on the four rockers we now have on our West Portico. Hard to believe we never sat on that beautiful area until a month or so ago. I got out the ladder as twilight was approaching with its cooling shade and the boys helped me pick grapefruit from our citrus orchard. Kyle was not allowed on the ladder since his recent fall, and Collin was carefully instructed on the safe use of the ladder.He climbed up with me across from him on the A-frame configuration of the ladder, so he could pick and I could pick at the same time. Collin and I picked three bags full of large, juicy grapefruit which Del an Kyle collected below, enough for three half-gallons of juice. In the kitchen, I got out the citrus squeezer and made assignments: Collin was to clean off the grapefruit, Kyle would dry them and hand them to me to be cut and squeezed. The cleaning process is one that took me a few years to discover and it works great. SOS soap pads is the key. I tried washing, scrubbing brushes, soaps of various kinds, but all were messy and time-consuming. Then on a hunch or out of desperation one day I tried an SOS pad and the dark sediment on the tops and bottoms of the grapefruit came off quickly and easily with a pass over the top and the bottom and a quick rinse off with water. When we got done, we had a full half gallon of delicious grapefruit juice which the boys managed to polish off during the rest of the week. This is the time of year when the grapefruit taste is at its peak. As August progresses, the seeds will begin to sprout inside the grapefruit still on the tree that alters the taste, so it's important to pick and drink the remainder of the grapefruit in the next few weeks while they are at their best. The green grapefruit are nearly the size of softballs and are hanging among the ripe ones that are waiting to be picked. I can only squeeze as much juice as Del and I drink in about ten days or the juice will begin to ferment, something I found out by experience.The only place to keep the grapefruit from going bad is on the tree. Like any good Cajun I plan to eat whatever I grow and keeping up with the grapefruit crop is a challenge at times and having my two grandsons helping me was a double joy: they both helped with the picking and with the drinking!
The next Timberlane adventure came when Kyle helped me with something that didn't involved ladders: picking eggplants. I had about a half dozen long eggplants on the Japanese ichiban plants to be picked, Kyle came out to the garden with the trug to hold the eggplant. I showed him how to use the hand pruner to cut and remove the eggplants. I had bought a pound of lump crabmeat to make something with it, and now with all these eggplants, I decided on my Cresh recipe which uses Crabmeat, Eggplant, and Shrimp in a wonderful étouffée. Collin's job was sous-chef and he was taught how to peel eggplants using the new Cutco potato peeler which makes the job a whiz. I like using a knife myself for peeling, but if you wish to peel as thin as possible to maximize the amount of eggplant which goes in the pot, a good potato peeler does the job. It also saves little fingers from being knicked. Then Collin was allowed to use the big knife to slice the peeled eggplants. I showed him how to place his knuckles and fingernails towards the knife so that any slip will not contact a finger. Till I became a Chef I never realized how important a role the fingernails played in protecting my fingers. Many a slip which would have cut me over the years simply bounced off my nails.
Collin helped me prepare the steamed wild rice and long grain rice mixture, and stirred the pot with the Cresh in it. He roamed around the house during the long stirring and cooking process, but I called him to the kitchen to see the transition stages: when the eggplant was all cooked down, when the shrimp was added, when the bread crumbs were added, when the rice was ready to take the cover off and stir up to ensure that there was no liquid left at the bottom and no over-cooking. Collin and I finished the Cresh before Del and Kyle came back from Del's chiropractor and exercise class, at which point we all ate heartily in preparation for our excursion downtown to the old Custom House, now Insectarium. It's been open a couple of years, and I had been holding off going till the appropriate time, which for me means with some grandkids.Del bought the entire Audubon package for her and the kids, Insectarium, Aquarium, IMAX 3-D, and the Zoo. I did only the Bug House. The kids loved it, but I thought it rather bland and not very interesting. I got some great photos of the butterfly room, but mostly it was an "I'm glad I didn't make a special trip just to see this place." The walking leaf with completely new to me and I made sure that I had a good photo to share with you, dear Reader. We came home and soon Del was taking the boys to see "Up" at the theater, but I'm not up to seeing any more movies at the local Palace theater till they clean up the place and hire ushers to enforce the no cell phone rule which is now blatantly ignored. Del came home with the boys complaining about the games in arcade being broken and the film breaking up in the middle of the movie. I noticed that the Palace didn't run any movie ads the other day. The Palace is turning into the Dump apparently. Too bad.
The next day Del took the boys to the IMAX and the Aquarium downtown. I stayed home as the Gardener and cut down some overhanging shubbery, bamboo, and mowed the lawns.
SKYPE, FRIDGE, and EGGPLANTS
On the night of July 22, I was ready to drive up to St. James Parish, about an hour each way to hear Beverly Matherne talk about her new book to the residents of the parish where she grew up, but I had been unable to contact her for a few days, either by email or phone. Finally about an hour or so before I was due to leave, I called her on my cell and a man's recorded voice saying something about my phone not connected to "country". I know she lives in the UP, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, very close to another country, but last time I checked, still in the USA. I decided to try her cell phone from Skype, entered it, dialed it, and it reached Beverly Matherne a few minutes short of midnight in France!For her trip to Franc, she had her AT&T cell configured to dial and accept France numbers, but not international ones, and miracleusement SKYPE got through! When last we communicated, she had mentioned both the St. James presentation and the one in France, but I got the dates mixed up. Glad we didn't head for St. James with the boys befire I reached her. If you need a temporary way to receive international calls on your cell, Skype is a way, if you plan ahead.
Next morning I made an omelette with a tube of frozen Crawfish-eggplant-dressing from our freezer. In advance of hurricane season, I have decided we should eat out of our freezer as much as possible so that if the power goes off for a few days and we evacuate, we will not lose any valuable food.Plus it's a great time clean out any frozen food that has gone past its eatable stage or otherwise been forgotten about. Also to clean the empty shelves in preparation for the next year. Yesterday I baked two crawfish-leeks-tarts for us. Del and I ate half of one for dinner, and the side dish came right out of the garden, the sautéed okra, bell pepper, basil, creole tomato mixture I mentioned earlier, only this time without the egg scrambled into it because the tart had eggs in it already. Have enough ingredients to do another leeks tart later on, and given that our friend Rosie likes it so much, she'll be sure to get some as well. Not only is the freezer getting empty, but our grocery bill is going down.
In the garden, I have been watching my eggplant bushes growing for a couple of months, reaching up this week to 9 feet tall, but as of last week, not a single eggplant had set in a flower. Flowers all over the place, but every one drooping and dropping overnight, not fattening up and becoming an eggplant. This process of lots of flowers and no fruit matched what I encountered last year, getting a total of only one globe eggplant from each bush. Not acceptable, so I took drastic action and I hope the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants isn't listening to what I did. I stood in front of the large eggplant bushes, looking up to them, and said, "Okay, you guys! Either you start producing fruit, or I'm going to pull you out of the ground!"Then just to show them that I meant business, I pulled their smaller brother, which was shading other plants, out of the ground and held him in front of the big guys, kicking and screaming, and let them watch in horror as I threw him into the mulch bed to die ignominiously without the possibility of ever having offspring. I thought that would be enough encouragement for the big bushs to get busy with their fructification, but as insurance I implemented a backup plan that had been fermenting in mind. I took my index finger and thumb and massaged the tips of the pistils of the eggplant flowers, all of them that I could reach. Within three days, there were over a dozen eggplant fruits hanging in place of the flowers, and now a week later, the globe eggplants are about 3 to 4 inches across and over two dozen eggplants are scattered among the two large bushes. Even the smaller ones are mimicking their larger brethren with fruit showing. It will be a bonus eggplant year for us! Some eggplant fritters, some more Cresh, some Crawfish-eggplant-dressing, some fried eggplants, some Eggplant Supreme, some Red Beans Eggplant etouffée, and who knows what other recipes I will have to innovate to utilize this wonderful product of Nature which has decided, under proper incentives, to bless our table.
LAST MINUTE STUFFOne night at Woldenberg Village, where Del's mom lives, there was a performance by the New Orleans Mardi Gras Chorus, the Barbershop Chorus with which I sang on stage at the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans. I hadn't seen nor heard them sing for many years, almost 25 years since I dropped out because there was too much focus on performing and not enough time devoted to singing. That seems to have changed, so I may check it out in person in a month or so. Saw old friend Wilton Dufrene whose family shared a double with us when I was a baby on Avenue E in Westwego and later with my Uncle Slim and Aunt Hilda took over the double when we moved to Avenue F. We took Collin and Kyle with us and they played video games quietly while the performance was on and then visited with Del's mom (their Gran) after. She was delighted to have the little boys around as were all of the residents in attendance.IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
TILL NEXT MONTH
That's it from out our way for another Digest. Till next month, by the Grace of God! Enjoy the end of summer, those August vacations, and the waning of Summer (or Winter in the Southern Hemisphere). Make it a great month for yourself , however and wherever in the world you enjoy life ! ! !
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New Stuff about Website: Five Spiritual Books by Women
1. Alice Howell's Jungian Synchronicity in Astrological Signs and Ages .
This is not the best book of Alice O. Howell's to begin your reading of her with because her earlier book, Jungian Symbolism in Astrology goes into detail explaining that the "dear friend" introduction to each chapter appears because the author has written the books as letters to a Jungian analyst friend of hers.
The author takes us on a tour of the signs and houses in the first half of the book, encouraging us to memorize them as an aid to the rest of the book. In a typical Jungian approach she gives equal attention to the two sides of the signs and the houses — explaining the connection of the dualities.
This proves helpful in the second half of the book when we analyze the dualities of Taurus-Scorpio, Aries-Libra, and Pisces-Virgo as they existed over each age's 2000 year period. In the Aries-Libra duality we find the fiery leader Moses (Aries) bringing down the Ten Commandments (Libra) to his people. In the Pisces-Virgo duality we find the "fisher-of-men" (Pisces) born to the immaculate virgin Mary (Virgo).
On the predictive side we can expect for the coming age, which we`ve already put our toes into, that the Aquarius-Leo duality will cause much tension between the democratic ideals (Aquarius) and the ruler mentality (Leo). Similarly in the Houses of the horoscope, we find the ego or persona in House One opposite the projections we place on others in House Seven.
Ms. Howell knows that to be a Jungian is to understand astrology from the inside out, from the psychical to the physical. She sees astrology as a science that can give us an "X-ray of the psyche" — not so that we can have hard evidence of what will happen in a person's life, but so as to be able to understand what the tendencies will be in a person's reaction to what happens. Since, to have insight to a person's reactions to what confronts them is such a large part of analysis, the science of astrology allows an analyst to "cut to the chase" and provide the avenues for healing that would otherwise have been dead ends.
2. Alice Howell's Jungian Symbolism in Astrology
Ms. Howell is a delightful author — a joy to read and she fills every page with new insights and quotations. Her understanding of astrology and Jungian archetypes is outstanding, which she demonstrates over and again in each chapter of the book.
Her descriptions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn sent me scurrying to locate my horoscope. Jupiter (Zeus) is the prolific seed-planter, the planet of expansion at all levels of process. Saturn (Chronos) is the planet of limitations and deflations. These two planets are in conjunction in my natal chart. After reading Howell I understand that this conjunction amounts to a simultaneous appearance of inflation and deflation, of boundless expansion and limited boundaries. Looking over chart interpretations I've had done over the years, the astrologers wrote that I could expect periods of expansion followed by periods of shrinkage. That has happened, certainly, several times in my weight and my day-times jobs.For the first time I have the tools to understand for myself the meaning of this conjunction: it is at the root of, it resonates with my love of paradox, which is a simultaneity of opposites in the logical arena. Thus the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction leads me to be continually confronted in my life with expanding and shrinking areas of consciousness, career, and all aspects of my being. Out of the confrontation of opposites comes the transcendental third component of the syzygy, which is the path of individuation. Thus my natal chart shows the very forces that have propelled me into individuation and keep me ever confronting balanced polarities with the challenge to transcend them.
To read Alice O. Howell is to wish ardently to be able to look at a natal chart and to have visions to share that illuminate the life of the charted person, like she commonly does.
A seer, a sage, and a prophet inside a beautiful woman, Alice is all these things and her books are like living monuments to her.
3. Alice Howell's The Web in the Sea
After reading The Dove in the Stone and several other earlier Alice Howell books (Jungian Symbolism, Jung and Synchronicity), her books have become a must read for me. This latest book, subtitled "Jung, Sophia, and the Geometry of the Soul", was no disappointment. In it she brings alive the sacred geometry that she and her husband encounter on the island of Iona. She writes the book in the second person to her husband, as one might write a letter reminiscing on a joint trip you had taken with someone. Through this skillfully applied artifice she brings the reader into intimate proximity with a loving couple discovering new insights and sharing their experiences of Jung, Sophia, and sacred geometrical patterns.
Her personification of Sophia as a female spirit with a mischievous bent is delightful. She connects Sophia to the fairy godmother of fairy tales and her personal fairy godmother, Mercy Muchmore, who says at one point, "When in a muddle, go to the middle. That's the only way."Thus Alice leads us to see ourselves in the "Looking Glass" of circumstance, the daily encounters with the spaces and objects surrounding us, as another Alice did in the fictional world of Lewis Carroll.
Throughout this book Alice leads us into various corners of our collective psyche as she seeks to re-tie (re-ligare, the root of the word "religion") the loose ends of our symbolic and everyday life. She uses Sufi stories, geometry, Jungian teachings, and the impromptu insights of Sophia as they walk the sacred Hebridian isle of Iona to accomplish this formidable task.
To discover the sacred in the mundane, the deep in the shallow, the square in the round, read this book. Alice will help you to discover "books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and meaning in everything," as Shakespeare said it. Like Jung's books, Howell's are "double-bottomed" with additional depths of meaning that are hinted at on first reading. So save yourself additional trips to the library by purchasing this book for your permanent collection.
4. Alice Howell's The Dove in the Stone
Each time you begin reading a book by Alice O. Howell you enter a magical world of symbols and archetypes. In this book you meet Jung puffing on a pipe in her dream (ffft!), winking as he tells her of a (ffft!) "tree that grows in both of our worlds." "What is it?" Alice asks, seizing the opportunity. "You'll know it when you see it, Alice." Where is the magic in this book? You'll know it when you see it.
You'll find it in the dove that flies out of the stone, in the doctor who appears to her in the Queens Chamber, in the fresh white filter you put in your coffee pot in the morning, in your friend who knew Kahlil Gibran in New York, in the three sides you can't see of a cube, and in the ant crawling across the oriental rug to whom the world is blue one minute and dark red the next.
The sacred in the commonplace we discover as we follow Alice and Walter to the Hebrides' island of Iona. Iona in Hebrew means dove and Columba in Latin means dove. St. Columba was the great saint of Iona. We pick up a stone from Iona and carry it with her into the Queens Chamber of the pyramid of Giza. We shake hands of the doctor who grasps her hand as she leaves the chamber, "Alice! It is so good to find you here!" Like her we wonder later why the doctor is not all hot and sweaty like us and we discover the doctor has been dead for over a hundred years.
Now comes Mercy Muchmore, her childhood imaginary friend to tell us of the anamnesis of Hagia Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, who will be released in our heart like the dove in the stone when we are ready.
To close out the book, in her sweatsuit and two-layered rainbow colored hat, she shares with us exercises for welcoming Sophia into our life as our playmate and teacher, ready to rescue us from the boredom of the commonplace and usher us into the excitement of the commonplace in the sunshine of the Age of Aquarius.
5. Gertrud Mueller Nelson's To Dance With God
The title of the book come from Gertrud's 4 year old daughter's mouth when she was asked why she was making a banner — "I'm going to have a parade so that God will come down and dance with me." From that seed the structure for this book grew inside her.
In the early chapters she presents the essentials of ritual: in particular, the answer to "why bother?" Her answer comes from the Pantheon (all-gods) in Rome. The dome was constructed by filling the vault with dirt (with occasional coins scattered throughout), building a dome over the dirt, and then excavating the dirt (the coins were incentives to the excavators- may be the origin of the word "in-cent-ive"). At the peak of the dome a group of statues of Roman gods were placed. Over time the statues fell through the dome leaving a gaping hole -the hole through which the gods came to earth.
In medieval times on Pentecost the Christians would drop burning straw through the Holy Ghost Hole and release a white dove signifying the entry of God into the realm of mankind.
In modern churches the fire and the dove are painted on the walls or are represented on banners hung for that occasion.
The "hole in space" through which God comes down to dance with humankind is represented in our homes by the fireplace through which a sanctified man (Santa) enters each year to bless our homes. The "hole in time" is the sacred time-out or holy day (holiday) during which we retreat from the day to day cares to a renewing of our spirits: we provide a hole in time for God to enter our lives to dance with us.
In the remainder of the book, Nelson takes us through the year from Advent to Thanksgiving and provides suggestions for family rituals that provide holes in time and space for us to "dance with God."
The book is illustrated throughout with Gertrud Mueller Nelson's artwork. The art will seem very familiar to Catholics as it has been used extensively to adorn the pages of liturgical missals for the past 20 years.
Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases.
P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):“Volver” (2006) Penelope Cruz’s dead mother is haunting her aunt until the aunt dies and then shows up in sister Sole’s car trunk, a curious place for a ghost to travel in. A fun look at family secrets and superstitions with great food and great cleavage all around. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Mongol” (2007) First movie of a trilogy about Genghis Khan. Never knew him to be a family man from other historical movies about his life we’ve seen, notably “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. Great BLU-RAY panoramic views of the plains, authentic characters and languages, all grippingly portrayed — watch this one on HD screen. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Benjamin Franklin” (2002) The reality of Ben Franklin overtops the legend of George Washington as the Father of our country. Only his signature is on the Declaration, the Treaty of Paris (which ended the Revolutionary War), and the US Constitution. He was the mover and shaker par excellence for over fifty years and was never paid for his service to the country he founded. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Coco Chanel” (2008) Shirley MacLaine, as the aging Coco making a comeback, bookends the early life of young Gabrielle Chanel growing into a world famous designer. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Barry Lyndon” (1975) Ryan O’Neal plays the Irish opportunist who marries into the Lyndon name and fortune but is unable to keep either. Kubrick classic where every frame is a paint-worthy masterpiece.
“Something The Lord Has Made” (2004) Vivien Thomas helped bring color to the faces of his blue babies and doctors at John Hopkins Hospital which underwent open-heart surgery on its personnel policies. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Wrestler” (2008) After watching Mickey Rourke as a young, cocky punk and a suave Lothario, it was a welcome relief to see him playing a down-out wrestler living on the edge of life, with no one to love him. He pays for the companionship of a stripper who he gets sweet on, who gives him good advice, but his balls-to-wall habits come back again and again and he heads for a big fall.
“God Grew Tired of Us” (20008) Documentary of the Lost Boys of the Sudan detailing their five-year trek through desert to safety in Kenya. Follows several boys into New York, Pittsburgh, and other cities as they accommodate themselves to civilization for the first time. Many have never used electricity before.
“The Contract” (2006) Morgan Freeman’s bad man best encounters John Cusacks’ good man best. Which will turn out to be the better man after this haggard trip through wilderness and flying bullets? A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Inkheart” (2008) A creative movie in which the plot and characters evolve out of Silvertongue’s reading aloud from a book. The second movie in a month, “Australia” was the first, to use a theme and this time an actual character, Toto, in its plot. Enjoyable, well-scripted, acted, and spectacular cinematography makes it A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
“For the Love of the Game” (1999) Kevin Costner as pitcher in perhaps his last game, whose love of the game trumped his love for Jane, who was flying off to London. Could he win her back with a perfect pitch? For nine innings it was too close to call. A rare combination of baseball game and a chick flick that clears the bases on both levels. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“Knowing” (2008) going in that the world was going to be shown as frying all its inhabitants (from the posters), it still made an interesting movie trying to figure out how aliens could learn our longitude and latitude and predict the future. Back fit to Ezekial’s Wheel of Fire was hardly original, but Cage’s performance is always riveting, even when everyone else is over-acting. Sleep easy, folks, the Sun ain’t gonna implode or explode for 5 billion years and aliens only exist in the imagination of materialists who haven’t got a prayer.
“Before & After” (1996) Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson try to protect a teenage son from being prosecuted for the murder of his girl-friend, but can they shield the world from the truth? A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Awake” (2007) is what Clay is during anesthesia for a heart replacement operation during which the doctors make it clear they are planning to kill him. Otherwise paralyzed, Clay seems helpless to stop the murder, but can his new wife or his loving mother help save him? Hold onto your heart, Clay loses his, and you’ll want to stay to the end.
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.“The Happening” (2008) DVD should be hung in a tree, hurled out of a charging truck as it hits a tree, fired upon with a pistol, a shotgun, or thrown down from the top of a skyscraper — just like so many humans were treated during this lugubrious movie, a personal nightmare of a movie maker whose middle name is “night”. Plants which, by Nature are designed to adjust their genetic structures by transposing of genes to make humans healthier, are changed by the nightmare movie maker into the very reverse and the plants kill humans. If this DVD survives the treatment given to humans in this movie, please STOMP IT! A DVD STOMPER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Revolver” (2006) is revolting! In a intriguing way, but the choppy cuts into past and future events makes it more difficult to follow than the content of the movie is worth. Another movie where Ray Liotta got slimed, covered with blood, cried, demanded respect and never got it. Ray’s become the Rodney Dangerfield of leading men. What does he expect after he let Hannibal breakfast on his brains?
“The Strangers” (2008) is a horror-ible movie full of violence for the sake of violence, chills for the sake of chills, and should endure stomping for the sake of stomping. A DVD STOMPER ! ! !
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“Eagle Eye” (2008) Coming soon to a democracy near you: Mercenary armies. Mind-boggling crashes, chases, and special effects combined with jaded computer-gone-wild plot makes it a your call. This time computer develops morality which requires killing the top ten bureaucrats of USA, save one. Good idea, poorly executed. Freedom can only be built, not achieved by killing, but computers will never figure that one out, as they are, and will always be, basically soulless machines, no matter how smart or capable we humans make them. An object lesson in futility. John Cusacks stars.
“My Brother is an Only Child” (2007) epic of an Italian family united and divided by extremes of fascism and communism in the 1960s. Bloody feuds without a Mafia around. Title similar to Paar’s gagwriter Jack Douglas’ bestseller, “My Brother Was an Only Child”.
“Slipstream” (2007) about the fragmented mind of a screen writer who gets the characters, the movie, the actors, and real-time all mixed. Movie so bad that Christian Slater died in the middle of it to escape. A barely Your Call based on Anthony Hopkins and other great actors in it.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==I converted this Cajun Joke from a true story told by Carlton Conrad about his experiences as a Foxborough policeman assigned as guard for the Foxboro Company where I worked back in the 1970s. I had made friends with his father, Emerson Conrad, from whom I bought a panel truck, and through him I met his son, Carlton, from whom I bought a Honda 750cc motorcycle — best motorbike I ever had. In sub-freezing weather in New England winter, it always started on the first crank. Wish I’d kept it to this day.
4. CAJUN STORY:
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Boudreaux was working as a security guard for the Petroleum Helicopters Company in Lafayette and occasionally had to pick up VIPs at the local airport and drive them to the corporate headquarters. He had done this chore so many times, he hardly even looked to see who he was picking up when the secretary gave him the slip of paper. She told him that he had to pick up two visitors, one from Germany named Basil and one from France named Amy. So he went to the airport and didn’t see a man and woman standing together, so he went to the ticket counter and asked the clerk to page the two guys on the slip of paper. She looked at the two names, blushed a bit, looked back at Boudreaux, and asked, “Are you sure?”
“Mais, oui, Sha! Just page dem, dey probably around here somewhere.”
Reluctantly, she picked up the slip and the microphone and said, “Would Basil Balls and Amy Fuchs come to the ticket counter, please?” Now, she carefully pronounced the strange name as fyooks, in the American fashion, not knowing the way the French pronounce it.
One of the two men standing nearby turned to the woman and asked, in a thick French accent, using the standard pronunciation of his last name, “Did you just page Basil Balls and Amy Fux? Here we are.”
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for August, 2009 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Pompano en Papillote
Background on Pompano en Papillote:
Pompano en Papillote is a dish created by Jules Alciatore at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans for a banquet honoring the Brazilian balloonist Alberto Santos-Dumont. This was my first opportunity to have some fresh pompano and wanted to fix this for Bobby and Del. I had eaten once before at Berdoo's Restaurant on Hancock in Gretna for lunch and it was very good. Difficult to find on the menus of any of the hoity-toity restaurants which have sprouted up around the area today. This is my own take on creme sauce which fills the parchment paper (papillote) with the pompano and shrimp. The story of how we acquired the pompano freshly caught in the surface at Orange Beach is detailed in our Personal Notes for this month. — Chef Bobby Jeaux
Filets of Pompano
1 lb of small shrimp, peeled
4 oz of fresh mushrooms
8 oz evaporated milk
3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP flour
Sprig of fresh basil and one green onion
1/4 TSP of chopped garlic
1 TSP of shrimp powder
A sprinkle of Tarragon and Marjoram over the filets
Parchment Paper for Baking
Place each filet of Pompano on its separate sheet of parchment paper designed for baking. Dust each filet with Tarragon, Marjoram, a Tony Chachere's Seasoning on both sides. Chop up the basil and green onion fine and save in a small bowl. Chop up mushrooms and save in bowl.
Prepare the Sauce
Make a white sauce by using microwave to melt butter in 4 cup measuring Pyrex cup for 30 seconds, Have beater ready and mix in the flour while stirring. Place mixture back in microwave and heat for 1 minute. Remove, restir thoroughly, repeat until sauce is thick as cake batter. Stir in the mushrooms, basil and green onions.
Bake the Papilotes
Wrap each papilote so that the parchment paper covers the filet entirely. Place on a baking sheet, keeping each papilote separate from the other. In this recipe I used six small filets so we had six papilotes. Del and I ate three papilotes the first night and the other three the next night. PREHEAT OVEN to 425 degrees, then BAKE for 40 MINUTES.
Serve immediately after removing from oven. Carefully open each papilote in the dish and eat directly from it. The papilote when opened will cover the entire dish, so place any side items in a separate dish.
I like to season the shrimp by soaking them in water with a capful of Zatarain's Shrimp Boil.
Use this recipe with flounder, redfish, sac-au-lait or whatever fresh fish you have available, but if you come into some Pompano, this is a MUST recipe for that fine-flavored fish, I guarantee!
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This poem is from Flowers of Shanidar, written by Bobby Matherne on July 10, 1990. Inspired by the thought that written words on a page are like footprints of ideas left on the sands of time and therefore are immortal tracks.
6. POETRY by BOBBY from Flowers of Shanidar:
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Tracks on the beach
are temporary tracks
Washed away by
the evening tide.
Tracks on bathroom tile
are ephemeral tracks
when they are dried.
Tracts on a paper pad
are immortal tracks
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for August:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.
1.) ARJ2: The Journal of Thoreau — Volume 13 , December 1859 to July 1860 by Henry David Thoreau
I will miss these daily walks
With the Norseman Thorer
Through the ancient hills and rills
Of Concord town.
One more year. That is my only thought as I begin this review of Year 13 of Thoreau’s Journals. Again this year, 2009, I continued my recently adopted practice of reading these Journals on the very day they were written exactly 149 years ago. The idea to do this came to me after some ten years of reading Thoreau's Journals, but it made great sense to me. I could compare my local environs of New Orleans to that of his New England on the same day, every day of the year which he wrote in his journal. And so I decided and have done again this year, except for the last two weeks of July when I wished to complete my review before the end of the month, as next month will be very busy for me. I began making marginal notes of temperature and weather conditions whenever Thoreau did and this makes a fair comparison of the weather discrepancies between the north temperate zone and the sub-tropical zone of the USA.
During a snowy walk, Thoreau imagines lichens as the handbills of Nature, as Mother Nature walked about with glue or stapler to attach them to every vacant spot to advertise us of her glorious bounty. I have often taken photos of such colorful extravagancies of Her Grace and have somewhere a shot of bright yellow lichens, but choose for this spot in the review a recent photo I took in the Gulf Shores Park in Orange Beach, Alabama of a red lichen with a touch of yellow moss on its edges.
[page 8] Dec. 6. P. M. — To Walden and Baker Bridge, in the shallow snow and mizzling rain.
It is somewhat of a lichen day. The bright-yellow sulphur lichens on the walls of the Walden road look novel, as if I had not seen them for a long time. Do they not require cold as much as moisture to enliven them? What surprising forms and colors! Designed on every natural surface of rock or tree. Even stones of smaller size which make the walls are so finished, and piled up for what use? How naturally they adorn our works of art! See where the farmer has set up his post-and-rail fences along the road. The sulphur lichen has, as it were, at once leaped to occupy the northern side of each post, as in towns handbills are pasted on all bare surfaces, and the rails are more or less gilded with them as if it had rained gilt. The handbill which nature affixes to the north side of posts and trees and other surfaces. And there are the various shades of green and gray beside.
This was the same day when he took out his "boots of winter" to replace his "shoes of summer." For me, such a day would involve replacing my sandals of summer with my shoes of winter.
[page 18] Dec. 9. Suddenly cold last night. The river and Fair Haven Pond froze over generally (I see no opening as I walk) last night, though they were only frozen along the edges yesterday. This is unusually sudden.
How prominent the late or fall flowers are, now withered above the snow, — the goldenrods and asters, Roman wormwood, etc., etc.! These late ones have a sort of life extended into winter, hung with icy jewelry.
I observe at mid-afternoon, the air being very quiet and serene, that peculiarly softened western sky, which perhaps is seen commonly after the first snow has covered the earth. There are many whitish filmy clouds a third of the way to the zenith, generally long and narrow, parallel with the horizon, with indistinct edges, alternating with the blue. And there is just enough invisible vapor, perhaps from the snow, to soften the blue, giving it a slight greenish tinge. Thus, methinks, it often happens that as the weather is harder the sky seems softer. It is not a cold, hard, glittering sky, but a warm, soft, filmy one.
In an amazing synchronicity — one I would have no doubt completely missed, had my reading of the Journal not been synchronized with day and month it was written in — it snowed here in New Orleans, at my home on December 11, 2008! The snow event was unbeknownst to me at the time I was reading this next Journal entry because it only began snowing an hour after I had finished reading the entry. In addition, the presence of the snow falling made itself known to me by the sound it made falling on the bamboo leaves a few steps outside of the window to the left of my workstation. I turned to see what was making the sound and it was snow. The snow began to fall about 8:30 am and fell until noon, a most unusual snowfall so early in the season, especially in New Orleans. The gentle susurrus that Thoreau described matched closely the sound I heard as the snow fell on the bamboo leaves.
[page 19, 20] Dec. 11. At 2 P. M. begins to snow, and snows till night. Still, normal storm, large flakes, warm enough, lodging.
See one sheldrake in Walden. As I stand on the' railroad at Walden, at R. W. E.'s crossing, the sound of the snowflakes falling on the dry oak leaves (which hold on) is exactly like a rustling produced by a steady but slight breeze. But there is no wind. It is a gentle and uninterrupted susurrus.
This light snow, which has been falling for an hour, resting on the horizontal spray of the hemlocks, produces the effect of so many crosses, or checker or lattice work.
As a poet myself, I must admit that I love writing poems. Not that I write them every day — no, I write them when some occasion arises ( such as the one I wrote here for Del on our 31st anniversary) or when the inspiration arises as it did often during my reading of the epic poem, Eugene Onegin, written solely in sonnets by Alexander Pushkin. A new poem is an impossibility before it starts, a conundrum while it's being written, and a joy when it is done. It is the ultimate challenge for a puzzle solver: create a completely novel puzzle and then solve it yourself. Thoreau realized this as evinced by this next passage about how every man should love his work.
[page 20] Dec. 12. P. M. There is a certain Irish woodchopper who, when I come across him at his work in the woods in the winter, never fails to ask me what time it is, as if he were in haste to take his dinner-pail and go home. This is not as it should be. Every man, and the woodchopper among the rest, should love his work as much as the poet does his. All good political arrangements proceed on this supposition. If labor mainly, or to any considerable degree, serves the purpose of a police, to keep men out of mischief, it indicates a rottenness at the foundation of our community.
In this next passage Thoreau talks of what the snow does for animals in the forest. When I lived in New England in the small town of Foxborough, I rode my trail bike into the state forest which was only a few minutes from my house. I found it amazing to trail over new fallen snow and see the long paths of animals which must have crawled over these same paths in other seasons of the year without leaving a trace. But the even blanket of snow began a sensitive surface which recorded their paths in the winter. When Thoreau suggests we need a super-sensitive surface which allows us to record the presence of fairy folk and spirits, I think we have exactly such a super-sensible surface in the human being. This surface is not something we must invent — it is something we already are. We must learn to understand our own capabilities as a full human being and this ability will arrive with that knowledge.
[page 21] Dec. 12. P. M. The snow having come, we see where is the path of the partridge, — his comings and goings from copse to copse, — and now first, as it were, we have the fox for our nightly neighbor, and countless tiny deer mice. So, perchance, if a still finer substance should fall from heaven (iodine ?), something delicate enough to receive the trace of their footsteps, we should see where unsuspected spirits and faery visitors had hourly crossed our steps, had held conventions and transacted their affairs in our midst. No doubt such subtle spirits transact their affairs in our midst, and we may perhaps invent some sufficiently delicate surface to catch the impression of them.
Thoreau amuses me when he notices that the mountains resemble clouds because I live in a flat area which has no mountains within hundreds of miles, but lots of clouds. For myself, I notice that our clouds, especially in the summer time, resemble mountains. These are the clouds I named Good Mountain Press after — a phrase which is intended to titillate my readers. I grew up in the flat lands and wanted earnestly to live in an area with mountains. I lived for a time in Tennessee between the Cumberland and Smoky Mountains. Later in California I lived between the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains and I spent time in the high Sierras. Also lived within an hour’s drive of the mountains which Thoreau talks of near his beloved Concord. What I came to understand was that the feeling of awe that I feel when looking upon a beautiful mountain in the distance could be transferred to and experienced by me when looking upon a similar shaped cloud on the horizon. Since then my trips to look upon mountains in awe involve but a few steps from my workstation out of doors.
[page 21] Dec. 12. P. M. As I talked with the woodchopper who had just cleared the top of Emerson's I got a new view of the mountains over his pile of wood in the foreground. They were very grand in their snowy mantle, which had a slight tinge of purple. But when afterward I looked at them from a higher hill, where there was no woodpile in the foreground, they affected me less. It is now that these mountains, in color as well as form, most resemble the clouds.
Thoreau asks on page 23 about clouds, "Who watches them today?" I do. I love to take photos of clouds which have attractive or beautiful shapes. I think it was in a Thoreau journal where I first encountered the phrase "mackerel cloud" and I set out to find out what such a sky looked like, and then to take photos of one. On August 17, 2008, this beautiful mackerel sky appeared over Timberlane, our home, and I recorded it. Compare the way it looks to what Thoreau describes in the next passage.
[page 22] Dec. 13. P. M. There is now, at 2.30 P. M., the melon-rind arrangement of the clouds. Really parallel columns of fine mackerel sky, reaching quite across the heavens from west to east, with clear intervals of blue sky, and a fine-grained vapor like spun glass extending in the same direction beneath the former. In half an hour all this mackerel sky is gone.
It seems time for me, dear Reader, to show you one of the plants which Thoreau remarks upon during his walks. This time it is a switch grass whose Latin name is Panicum virgatum.
[page 24] Dec. 13. P. M. I walk thus along the riverside, perhaps between the button-bushes and the meadow, where the bleached and withered grass — the Panicum virgatum and blue-joint and wool-grass — rustle amid the osiers which have saved them from the scythe.
I have a firewood man, Charlie Graf, who would no doubt profess to having a philosophy of wood if I were to press him on the subject. My philosophy about firewood has evolved over the years to this: "The cheapest wood burns the best." This came after trying various of Charlie's more expensive woods.
[page 29] Dec. 15. Philosophy is a Greek word by good rights, and it stands almost for a Greek thing. Yet some rumor of it has reached the commonest mind. M. Miles, who came to collect his wood bill to-day, said, when I objected to the small size of his wood, that it was necessary to that he had found that wood that was more than four inches in diameter would not dry, and moreover a good deal depended on the manner in which it was corded up in the woods. He piled his high and tightly. If this were not well done the stakes would spread and the wood lie loosely, and so the rain and snow find their way into it. And he added, "I have handled a good deal of wood, and I think that I understand the philosophy of it."
One of the treats of Thoreau's journals is that literally out of the blue, after talking about the yarrow being too full of seed and Stow being a good town for mink, he bursts lyrically into a discussion of the various ages of man from his landing into a physical body newly arrived out of spiritual realms as a child to his settling into hardened bones as the president of a bank. These passages are scarcely marked except sometimes by the title at the top of the page, such as in this case: "The Divinity of Youth", so one must read the Journal to find them.
[page 35] When a man is young and his constitution and body have not acquired firmness, i. e., before he has arrived at middle age, he is not an assured inhabitant of the earth, and his compensation is that he is not quite earthy, there is something peculiarly tender and divine about him. His sentiments and his weakness, nay, his very sickness and the greater uncertainty of his fate, seem to ally him to a noble race of beings, to whom he in part belongs, or with whom he is in communication. The young man is a demigod; the grown man, alas! is commonly a mere mortal. He is but half here, he knows not the men of this world, the powers that be. They know him not. Prompted by the reminiscence of that other sphere from which he so lately arrived, his actions are unintelligible to his seniors. He bathes in light. He is interesting as a stranger from another sphere. He really thinks and talks about a larger sphere of existence than this world. It takes him forty years to accommodate himself to the carapax of this world. This is the age of poetry. Afterward he may be the president of a bank, and go the way of all flesh. But a man of settled views, whose thoughts are few and hardened like his bones, is truly mortal, and his only resource is to say his prayers.
On page 69, Thoreau tells us that "Potentilla Norvegica seems to have some sound seed in its closed heads." Here is a photo of the flower with its five petals fully opened.
Suddenly Thoreau unfolds for us more thought about the life of man. My own father is almost 92 and he speaks rarely, causing me to wonder what thoughts he thinks. I suspect he spends his time reveling in his many wonderful hunting and fishing trips with his brothers, Ray and Purpy, his son, David, and his many friends from work over the years. My thought is at variance with Thoreau's — I suspect that when the body and the brain is infirm or senile, the mind takes over and soars because it is no longer encumbered by the body, like a butterfly which has left its earthen chrysalis behind to plow the fields of heaven with its wings.
[page 69, 70] A man may be old and infirm. What, then, are the thoughts he thinks? what the life he lives? They and it are, like himself, infirm. But a man may be young, athletic, active, beautiful. Then, too, his thoughts may be like his person. They will wander in a living beautiful world. If you are well, then how brave you are! How you hope! You are conversant with joy! A man thinks as well through his legs and arms as his brain. We exaggerate the importance and exclusiveness of the headquarters. Do you suppose they were a race of consumptives and dyspeptics who invented Grecian mythology and poetry? The poet's words are, "You would almost say the body thought!" I quite say it. I trust we have a good body then.
But Thoreau has his point and inspired the poet in me to thrust a few lines into the ground to see how they might sprout and bear fruit. These lines were written on page 70, January 3, 2009.
The body talks
what the body thinks.
The man talks
what his body thinks.
what his body thinks
what his body wills.
When he turns
off the road.
The last line was inspired by this Jan. 3 passage on page 71, "The most we saw, on the pond and after, was a peculiar track amid the men and dog tracks, which we took to be a fox-track, for he trailed his feet, leaving a mark, in a peculiar manner, and showed his wildness by his turning off the road." How many off-road vehicles, bright-shiny SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) have you seen, dear Reader? And how many of these have you seen which actually showed signs of having been driven off-road? Seems like the wildness which drove the owners to buy the expensive four-wheeled vehicles was not matched by a wildness in which they actually turned off the road, doesn't it?
Here's another passage which reminds me of my long trail rides through the forest in Foxborough, Massachusetts, speeding between trees on narrow paths, up and down rocky inclines, bouncing along over the tops of closely spaced rocks nearing the granite quarry, and at times getting lost, but always finding the path ended in some new vista at a road which offered me a quick way home if I wished, and mostly I didn't. In trail riding the path is the destination.
[page 76, 77] Jan. 5. P. M. - Via Turnpike to Smith's and back by Great Road.
How much the snow reveals! I see where the downy woodpecker has worked lately by the chips of bark and rotten wood scattered over the snow, though I rarely see him in the winter. Once to-day, however, I hear his sharp voice, even like a woodchuck's. Also I have occasionally seen where (probably) a flock of goldfinches in the morning had settled on a hemlock's top, by the snow strewn with scales, literally blackened or darkened with them for a rod. And now, about the hill in front of Smith's, I see where the quails have run along the roadside, and can count the number of the bevy better than if I saw them. Are they not peculiar in this, as compared with partridges, — that they run in company, while at this season I see but [one] or two partridges together?
Recently I wrote in a review that all perception is projection — a bit of exaggeration to make the following point: perception begins with projection. — What you already know about the world drives your manner of perception, sets the controls on your perception, moves you to look in a certain direction, leads you to focus on certain objects. Thoreau covers this subject by saying "a man receives only what he is ready to perceive", "every man thus tracks himself through life."
[page 77, 78] Jan. 5. P. M. A man receives only what he is ready to receive, whether physically or intellectually or morally, as animals conceive at certain seasons their kind only. We hear and apprehend only what we already half know. If there is something which does not concern me, which is out of my line, which by experience or by genius my attention is not drawn to, however novel and remarkable it may be, if it is spoken, we hear it not, if it is written, we read it not, or if we read it, it does not detain us. Every man thus tracks himself through life, in all his hearing and reading and observation and traveling. His observations make a chain. The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest which he has observed, he does not observe. By and by we may be ready to receive what we cannot receive now. I find, for example, in Aristotle some thing about the spawning, etc., of the pout and perch, because I know something about it already and have my attention aroused; but I do not discover till very late that he has made other equally important observations on the spawning of other fishes, because I am not interested in those fishes.
What would the average person say when seeing a crow pecking at cow or horse dung in the road? Likely something indelicate, perhaps, "Look, crows eat s---." Not Thoreau — he sees the seeds in the dung which provide nourishment.
[page 78, 79] Jan. 7. I find myself drawn toward this softened snow, even that which is stained with dung in the road, as to a friend. I see where some crow has pecked at the now thawing dung here. How provident is Nature, who permits a few kernels of grain to pass undigested through the entrails of the ox, for the food of the crow and dove, etc. !
In this next passage Thoreau helps us to appreciate all the creatures who make use of the apple tree and how much a latecomer the White Man was in his enjoyment of the succulent apple, whether raw, in cider or in the All-American Apple Pie.
[page 112, 113] Jan. 26. Not only the Indian, but many wild birds and quadrupeds and insects, welcomed the apple tree to these shores. As it grew apace, the bluebird, robin, cherry-bird, kingbird, and many more came with a rush and built their nests in it, and so became orchard-birds.
The woodpecker found such a savory morsel under its bark that he perforated it in a ring quite round the tree, a thing he had never done before. It did not take the partridge long to find out how sweet its buds were, and every winter day she flew and still flies from the wood to pluck them, much to the farmer's sorrow. The rabbit too was not slow to learn the taste of its twigs and bark. The owl crept into the first one that became hollow, and fairly hooted with delight, finding it just the place for him. He settled down into it, and has remained there ever since. The lackey caterpillar saddled her eggs on the very first twig that was formed, and it has since divided her affections with the wild cherry; and the canker-worm also in a measure abandoned the elm to feed on it. And when the fruit was ripe, the squirrel half carried, half rolled, it to his hole, and even the musquash crept up the bank and greedily devoured it; and when it was frozen and thawed, the crow and jay did not disdain to peck it. And the beautiful wood duck, having made up her mind to stay a while longer with us, has concluded that there is no better place for her too.
On page 116 Thoreau mentions in passing that he was born in a house alongside Two-Boulder Hill, a fact that I had not encountered before. Thoreau rebelled against rules; he knew when he would be a fool to follow an unfair rule, such as paying his Poll Tax. The passage below contains a ditty he penned in his Journal some 150 years ago. Since prepositions such as "up" and "with" are particles, I am reminded of Winston Churchill, who famously said about ending a sentence with a particle, "That is an absurdity up with which I will not put!" — linking two particles together in the middle of a sentence which would normally appear at the end of the sentence as "put up with" and sounding thereby blatantly horrible, thus proving his point. Winston would have agreed earnestly with Henry's more polite statement of the same point.
[page 125] February 3, 1860. When I read some of the rules for speaking and writing the English language correctly, — as that a sentence must never end with a particle, — and perceive how implicitly even the learned obey it, I think —Any fool can make a rule
And every fool will mind it.
The process of information has become so technology-based today, that many people assume if you say you are informed about something, that you got the information from someone else, a TV, a computer, or a cell phone. But Thoreau knew how to inform himself and he describes the process in this next passage. His description is very similar to the in-forming process used by Father Brown in solving his mysteries(1). Thoreau placed his body into positions to recreate the track left and found himself walking like his friend George — his in-formation came from forming himself in George's body as he walked.
[page 127, 128] Feb. 5 P. M. And to-day, seeing a peculiar very long track of a man in the snow, who has been along up the river this morning, I guessed that it was George Melvin, because it was accompanied by a hound's track. There was a thin snow on the ice, and I observed that he not only furrowed the snow for a foot before he completed his step, but that the (toe) of his track was always indefinite, as if his boot had been worn out and prolonged at the toe. I noticed that I and my companion made a clear and distinct track at the toe, but when I experimented, and tried to make a track like this by not lifting my feet but gliding and partly scuffing along, I found myself walking just like Melvin, and that perfectly convinced me that it was he.
As a scientist myself, it has taken me many years to be able to understand the point Thoreau makes so succinctly below. Scientific names are the filtered eyeglasses scientists put on which make them effectually blind to phenomena not already described in their books and reference manuals.
[page 141] Feb. 12. Whatever aid is to be derived from the use of a scientific term, we can never begin to see anything as it is so long as we remember the scientific term which always our ignorance has imposed on it. Natural objects and phenomena are in this sense forever wild and unnamed by us.
Have you ever walked upon an icy pond? No doubt many of you have, but join Thoreau for a walk on his icy pond and your future walks may be enhanced by thought of the sky as your footstool.
[page 141] Feb. 12. You have seen those purple fortunate isles in the sunset heavens, and that green and amber sky between them. Would you believe that you could ever walk amid those isles? You can on many a winter evening. I have done so a hundred times. The ice is a solid crystalline sky under our feet. . . . Not only the earth but the heavens are made our footstool. That is what the phenomenon of ice means. The earth is annually inverted and we walk upon the sky. The ice reflects the blue of the sky. The waters become solid and make a sky below. The clouds grow heavy and fall to earth, and we walk on them. We live and walk on solidified fluids.
We have such a habit of looking away that we see not what is around us. How few are aware that in winter, when the earth is covered with snow and ice, the phenomenon of the sunset sky is double! The one is on the earth around us, the other in the horizon. These snow-clad hills answer to the rosy isles in the west. The winter is coming when I shall walk the sky. The ice is a solid sky on which we walk. It is the inverted year. There is an annual light in the darkness of the winter night. The shadows are blue, as the sky is forever blue. In winter we are purified and translated. The earth does not absorb our thoughts. It becomes a Valhalla.
Who has not contended with the stupidity of people? Especially today when it is impolite to refer to anyone as stupid. It seems today that the more stupid a person is, the more the adjective to describe obscures that obvious fact. This practice seems to be a modern form of stupidity unknown in Thoreau's time when one could call someone stupid if they were. Now even a president of a country is berated for using the word stupid appropriately. It would be okay with me to discard stupid, if an apt replacement were available.
[page 145] Feb. 13. Always you have to contend with the stupidity of men. It is like a stiff soil, a hard-pan. If you go deeper than usual, you are sure to meet with a pan made harder even by the superficial cultivation. The stupid you have always with you. Men are more obedient at first to words than ideas. They mind names more than things. Read to them a lecture on "Education," naming that subject, and they will think that they have heard something important, but call it "Transcendentalism," and they will think it moonshine. Or halve your lecture, and put a psalm at the beginning and a prayer at the end of it and read it from a pulpit, and they will pronounce it good without thinking.
Writing is like farming, the more you plant the more seed you have to plant for next year. Like plants generate seeds, so does thinking breed more thinking. Retire from writing? One would have to first retire from thinking.
[page 145] Feb. 13. The Scripture rule, "Unto him that hath shall be given," is true of composition. The more you have thought and written on a given theme, the more you can still write. Thought breeds thought. It grows under your hands.
It seems that, about in the middle of its length, the Concord River damaged the meadow grass that it ran through. When a Mr. Heard was called to testify about the problem, he said of the Concord River, "it is dammed at both ends and cursed in the middle." (Page 149)
The musquash or muskrats of Thoreau's time were known for undermining the bank of river meadows, leading to them being shot to stop their destruction more than to acquire their furs. The South American cousins of the muskrat, the nutria, now transplanted some 60 years to Louisiana, are causing a similar damage to drainage canal banks, and there is currently a bounty on them amounting to $5 a tail(2). (Page 181)
Below we learn the common chickweed's Latin name is Stellaria media.
[page 208] March 22. Vegetation fairly begins, — conferva and mosses, grass and carex, etc. — and gradually many early herbaceous plants start, and noticed radical leaves; Stellaria media and shepherd's purse bloom; . . .
"Where is the tree from which fruit falls in mind's basket?" was a statement by Jane Roberts which stuck in my mind back in 1980 or so. It was my first hint as to the source of original thoughts in the realm of the spiritual world. In this next passage, Thoreau makes a very similar claim, that ripe fruit or thoughts come from the spiritual realm (universal mind).
[page 238] April 1. The fruit a thinker bears is sentences, — statements or opinions. He seeks to affirm something as true. I am surprised that my affirmations or utterances come to me ready-made, — not fore-thought, — so that I occasionally awake in the night simply to let fall ripe a statement which I had never consciously considered before, and as surprising and novel and agreeable to me as anything can be. As if we only thought by sympathy with the universal mind, which thought while we were asleep. There is such a necessity to make a definite statement that our minds at length do it without our consciousness, just as we carry our food to our mouths. This occurred to me last night, but I was so surprised by the fact which I have just endeavored to report that I have entirely forgotten what the particular observation was.
Moore tells Thoreau of his men, digging sand in a hollow, who uncovered a bunch of torpid snakes, which they proceeded to measure by laying them end to end on the ground and they totaled several hundred feet. (Page 254) If this were done in the Halls of Congress, no doubt the torpid snakes would fill the space between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Monument.
[page 255] April 22. The early luzula is almost in bloom; makes a show, with its budded head and its purplish and downy, silky leaves, on the warm margin of Clamshell Bank.
After Hurricane Gustav rushed through our area in 2008, I found a baby gray squirrel which had fallen out of its nest and was able to take a photo before moving it from the street to the base of the Louisiana cypress tree it had obviously fallen out of — to where its mother might take care of it.
[page 258] April 25. Mr. Stewart tells me that he has found a gray squirrel's nest up the Assabet, in a maple tree. I resolve that I too will find it. I do not know within less than a quarter of a mile where to look, nor whether it is in a hollow tree, or in a nest of leaves. I examine the shore first and find where he landed. I then examine the maples in that neighborhood to see what one has been climbed. I soon find one the bark of which has been lately rubbed by the boots of a climber, and, looking up, see a nest. It was a large nest made of maple twigs, with a center of leaves, lined with finer, about twenty feet from the ground, against the leading stem of a large red maple. I noticed no particular entrance. When I put in my hand from above and felt the young, they uttered a dull croak-like squeak, and one clung fast to my hand when I took it out through the leaves and twigs with which it was covered. It was yet blind, and could not have been many days old, yet it instinctively clung to my hand with its little claws, as if it knew that there was danger of its falling from a height to the ground which it never saw. The idea of clinging was strongly planted in it. There was quite a depth of loose sticks, maple twigs, piled on the top of the nest. No wonder that they become skillful climbers who are born high above the ground and begin their lives in a tree, having first of all to descend to reach the earth. They are cradled in a tree-top, in but a loose basket, in helpless infancy, and there slumber when their mother is away. No wonder that they are never made dizzy by high climbing, that were born in the top of a tree, and learn to cling fast to the tree before their eyes are open.
In an old movie, I noticed an Irish mother rock her baby boy in a wooden cradle with a bottom like a boat. She would take him to the water's edge and allow him to float on the water where the rippling waves would rock him. No doubt this boy would yearn to be a sailor so that each day and night he would be rocked in the arms of the sea.
[page 277] May 5. Bluets have spotted the fields for two or three days mingled with the reddish luzula, as in Conant's field north of Holden Wood toward the brook. They fill the air with a sweet and innocent fragrance at a few rods' distance.
Thoreau loves to report on the unique forest sounds, such as the first rustling of leaves in the Spring.
[page 299] May 17. Standing in the meadow near the early aspen at the island, I hear the first fluttering of leaves, — a peculiar sound, at first unaccountable to me. The breeze causes the now fully expanded aspen leaves there to rustle with a pattering sound, striking on one another. It is much like a gentle surge breaking on a shore, or the rippling of waves. This is the first softer music which the wind draws from the forest, the woods generally being comparatively bare and just bursting into leaf. It was delicious to behold that dark mass and hear that soft rippling sound.
Below is another example of how people lived more in connection with Nature. The sawmill depends on water power to saw the logs, so the sawyers do not work an 8 to 5 workday, but will work through the night if that is when the river water is high enough to give them good sawing.
[page 325, 326] June 2. Hear the sound of Barrett's sawmill, at first like a drum, then like a train of cars. The water has been raised a little by the rain after a long drought, and so he is obliged to saw by night, in order to finish his job before the sun steals it away from him again.
When I was in elementary school, boys would bring small red-eared slider turtles they had caught in the canals around Westwego. They would sell these to kids who wanted them. I considered doing this to earn money but it required a long pole with a net on it and I couldn't buy such a tool. Once or twice, some boy brought a small squirrel that he had raised as a pet. And one day, a small bat was carried in by some boy. Carrying any of these things to a school yard today would be treated as if it were a loaded pistol, so enured people have become to the idea that every wild animal carries some horrible disease and is not to be touched. Some of my grandchildren feel this way about fruits and vegetables: if they don't come from the supermarket they won't eat them. The more packaging surrounding them, the safer they think it is apparently. They would not pick blackberries from my large blackberry vine and even when offered one by their Grandfather refused to even put it their mouths as if it were some forbidden fruit. In this next passage, Thoreau comes upon a sleeping New York bat and holds it gently in his hands. How different things were back then.
[page 342, 343] June 10. There is much handsome interrupted fern in the Painted-Cup Meadow, and near the top of one of the clumps we noticed something like a large cocoon, the color of the rusty cinnamon fern wool. It was a red bat, the New York bat, so called. It hung suspended, head directly downward, with its little sharp claws or hooks caught through one of the divisions at the base of one of the pinnæ, above the fructification. It was a delicate rusty brown in color, very like the wool of the cinnamon fern, with the whiter bare spaces seen through it early in the season. I thought at first glance it was a broad brown cocoon, then that it was the plump body of a monstrous emperor moth. It was rusty or reddish brown, white or hoary within or beneath the tips, with a white apparently triangular spot beneath, about the insertion of the wings. Its wings were very compactly folded up, the principal bones (darker-reddish) lying flat along the under side of its body, and a hook on each meeting its opposite under the chin of the creature. It did not look like fur, but more like the plush of the ripe cat-tail head, though more loose, — all trembling in the wind and with the pulsations of the animal. I broke off the top of the fern and let the bat lie on its back in my hand. I held it and turned it about for ten or fifteen minutes, but it did not awake. Once or twice it opened its eyes a little, and even it raised its head, opened its mouth, but soon drowsily dropped its head and fell asleep again. Its ears were rounded and nearly bare. It was more attentive to sounds than to motions. Finally, by shaking it, and especially by hissing or whistling, I thoroughly awakened it, and it fluttered off twenty or thirty rods to the woods. I cannot but think that its instinct taught it to cling to the interrupted fern, since it might readily be mistaken for a mass of its fruit.
As I close this review, I look back on the months between December and July during which I have joined Thoreau as an unseen companion as he walked, sailed, skated, and rode through his beloved Concord. With him I have switched from winter boots to summer shoes. I have held a brownish-red sleeping bat in my hands. I have watched bream build their nests in a stream. I have listened sanguinely as a hunter described the various hawks he killed for sport. I have walked on the ice at sunset among snowy islands at my feet. And I was all the time, like Thoreau, making notes on my journeys which I have just enjoyed sharing with you. God willing, join me in about 18 months or so when I will complete my travels with Thoreau as I finish the final volume, Volume 14, of Thoreau's Journals.
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2.) ARJ2: Lamothe-Cadillac, His Early Life in France — Written in Linked Prose Poems in French and English by Beverly Matherne
The author has captured in thumbnail form the Catholic holidays and holy days which we in South Louisiana celebrate in a mostly unchanged way from the childhood of Lamothe-Cadillac in the time of King Louis XIV. The French culture goes much deeper than is apparent to the casual visitor or tourist to New Orleans who might only notice the street names like Burgundy, Chartres, Toulouse, Conti, and such, who might enjoy some French bread in the form of a Po-Boy sandwich, who might take a stroll or even a tour through the French Quarter whose buildings have changed little since the mid-1800s, some going back to pre-Revolutionary war days when New Orleans was part of the Spanish empire. But, Spanish, French, British or American, the culture of the local Catholics began and ended with French traditions, many of which endure unchanged today. Blessing of the candles and throats on February second, carrying palm branches to be blessed on Palm Sunday then hanging up the new palm in its honored place and burning the previous year's palm. Decorating the graveyard and tombstones with flowers and fresh coats of paint on All Soul's Day to be beautiful for All Saints' Day. To read this book is to read a plan for the perennial culture and celebrations of New Orleans from 350 years ago: the Mass of the Dead, The Yule Log, Midnight Mass, Christmas Day, Blessing of the Candles, Carnival, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter. The Yule Log is the only tradition not wide-spread in New Orleans, no doubt because of its sub-tropical climate.
If any reader of this book thinks that the city of Detroit with its General Motors Corporation founded the name Cadillac, let me clear up any confusion. It was the other way around: Lamothe-Cadillac founded the city of Detroit. The author, in keeping with the subtitle, "His Young Life in France", only follows Cadillac up to his entry into Port Royal, the capital of Acadia and the later point of entry for so many of his countrymen with their families who still today proudly carry the name of their ancestors' first home in America: Acadians, or Cajuns for short.
At age thirty-five, I did not know that I was a Cajun. I was just a kid who grew up across the river from New Orleans, whose grandparents spoke a little French to each other but not to me. Matherne did not seem to be a French name at all, so I assumed I was somehow not Cajun, but I did not know how, and so I never thought of my heritage nor did I have any feeling for it — till one fateful day when I stood on the green grass of Grand Pre and looked around at the fertile lands my French ancestors had impounded from the Bay of Fundy, a short distance north of the fortress of Port Royal. We had earlier that morning visited the fortress founded in 1605 and I read on the ship manifest familiar Babin names of Charles and Marie and others. Clearly my Babin grandparents were descended from French people who created a permanent settlement on the shores of America fifteen years before the Mayflower landed a couple of hundred miles to the south in Plymouth. No one had told me that before. So it was with the memory of that ship manifest in my mind, that I looked around at the lush green lands of Grand Pre, punctuated only by the little chapel, the church of St. Charles where the Acadian men were imprisoned prior to being extirpated from their homeland, and a feeling flowed up from depths of my soul, tears filled my eyes, and I knew in no uncertain terms that I was a Cajun. . . .Here I was standing on a foreign soil that was yet so familiar that I was choked-up, awe-struck, and speechless. Little did I realize that I was still subject to arrest by the Canadian authorities as an Acadian descendant because of a law excluding us from this area. — A law passed after the forced exportation of the Acadian families from Acadia — a law to further the British government's intent to turn this Acadian land, sacred to my ancestors for over a hundred and fifty years, into convenient farms for Scottish farmers in an expanse to be re-named New Scotland or Nova Scotia. Not unexpectedly, the settlers had no idea how to maintain the polders (dike-land), and soon the sea began reclaiming its territory — the Scots had to call back some Acadians to show them how to keep the sea at bay.
The year was 1658 when Antoine Lamothe-Cadillac first makes his appearance in the world. (Note that the French and English verses are on facing pages.)
[page 12] Une brise apporte un arôme de prunes écrasées sous le passage des sabots des chevaux et des charrettes dans les ruelles de Saint-Nicolas. Là, bébé Antoine crie à perdre haleine dans les bras de sa mère, Jeanne. Quatre mois à peine et déjà volontaire.
La jeune femme lui donne Ie sein et chante comme un pinson. Le petit se calme. paille tressée, posé sur un socle en chêne au pied du lit conjugal à baldaquin. La chemise blanche du petit accentue son teint basané et ses pommettes rouges.
Dehors, dans les vignobles, les premières grappes de raisin apparaissent.
[page 13] A breeze carries the aroma of plums crushed under horses' hooves and carts in the narrow streets of Saint-Nicolas. There, Baby Antoine cries in his mother's arms, barely catching his breath. Only four months and already willful.
Jeanne nurses him and sings like a songbird. The little one grows quiet. She lowers him into his crib, poised on its oak pedestal at the foot of the conjugal bed, white chemise accentuating his olive complexion and red cheeks.
Outside, in the vineyards, small grapes are forming on the vine.
Soon, Antoine grows into a young man and is eager to explore the Spice Islands, perchance, as we discover in Prose Poem 30.
[page 82] 30. La Moisson des blés
Antoine a terminé ses études avancées a Montauban.
Chez lui, il fauche les blés à l'aide de sa vieille faux, appelée dathé. La sueur colle sa chemise sur son corps souple et musclé. Les jeunes femmes sourient à son passage, ébaudies à la vue de ses cheveux bruns bouclés, de ses yeux verts, de sa mâchoire carrée.
Le soir, à la fenêtre aux coassements des crapauds, Anotoine soupire. Le désire l'emmène d'Armagnac de la cave de son pere. Là, il apprend à délacer les corsets, à relever les jupons, a découvrir des rivages parfumés...
[page 83] 30. Wheat Harvest
Antoine has completed his advanced studies in Montauban.
Home again, he harvests wheat with the aide of his old scythe, his sweat-soaked chemise clinging to his taut body. Young women smile when they see him, mesmerized by his dark, luxuriant hair, his green eyes, his powerful jaw.
Evenings, at his window, Antoine sighs as frogs sound their rhythms. Desire takes him before bottles of Armagnac in his father's cellar. There, he learns how to unlace corsets, explore petticoats, discover fragrant shores.
I could not resist including one of the several stories or fables which parents told children in Lamothe-Cadillac's youth. This one is from "The Yule Log" and was told to Antoine to put him at ease about running into demons or spirits when returning home late from Midnight Mass.
[page 38 and 40]
Un jour, douze enfants allérent au catéchisme. Au bout d'un pré, ils recontrérent une jolie petite jument si gentille que l'un des enfants décida de monter sur son échine.
Au méme instant, unautre monta aussi. . . Puis encore un autre . . . et un autre encore. L'échine de la jument s'étira à volonté, afin que tous les enfants puissenty prendre place.
— Savez-vous où elle les emmenait? questionna le père d'Antoine . . .
— Eh bien, poursuivit-il, la jument allait à la Garonne . . . Pou y noyer tous les petits!
Mais un les enfants se signa, et, au signe de crois, l'animal disparut comme par echantement et tous les enfants furent sauvés!
[page 39 and 41]
One day, twelve children were to going to catechism. At the edge of the meadow, they met a pretty little pony. She seemed so gentle that one of the children decided to climb onto her back.
Then another mounted. . . and then another one . . . and yet another. The pony lengthened her back to make room, until all the children were seated.
— Do you know where she was taking them? Antoine's father asks . . . >
— Well, he continues, the pony was going to the Garonne River . . . to drown them all!
But one of the children crossed himself, and, with the sign of the cross, the animal disappeared like magic. All the children were saved.
When one does the sign of the cross, one reminds oneself of God the Father who created us all, Jesus Christ the son who gave His life that we might have eternal life, and the Holy Spirit whom He left behind to be our ever-present help in need. A lot of wisdom in their father and a story which will help Antoine as he grows up and confronts the demons and spirits in the forests of Acadia and the rest of the New World.
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3.) ARJ2: Cruciverbalism — Crossword Fanatics Guide to Life in the Grid by Stanley Newman with Mark Lasswell
This is the book I wished that I had read about 14 years ago when I became a writer full-time and worked on filling out crosswords each morning as a tool to get my brain honed for writing and publication activities. Why? Because lacking this book, I had to discover the principles which went into creating crossword puzzles on my own, without which filling in crossword puzzles are the mental equivalent of re-decorating a room in the pitch dark. Stanley Newman gives clues and principles which take off the blinders and shed light upon filling out crossword puzzles. Note how I have used the verb "fill" several times already in this paragraph — fill is what puzzle creators and fanatics call the blank spaces in crossword puzzles. You can do an infinite number of them and never learn that word from any puzzle. Okay, let me admit that the clue "What you have to put here" might appear in a Saturday Stumper for a four-letter fill, which would be admirably self-referent and please the Stanley Newmans of the world, among others.
But I prefer shedding my own light into dark spaces (or white fill), so I never strove to read about crossword puzzles, just do them, until this past Father's Day, when this book arrived in snail mail from my daughter Yvette. Thanks, Yvette! Now I can use "fill" in a way I've never used it before. Another idiosyncracy of my crossword puzzle solving is that I refuse as a matter of practice to look up words I don't know and that I can't get from the clues or the crossing words. No dictionary, especially not a crossword puzzle dictionary, no Google, no encyclopedia, or other reference but whatever exists in my head. This protocol can seem like sheer torture to some and may hint at a masochistic streak in me to some of my Good Readers, but I assure you that it is a calculated strategy that works for me. I have several places in our home where I keep partially completed crossword puzzles which naturally accrue as the result of my strategy of not looking up words I don't know.Each time I revisit that spot I may, time permitting, fetch up the unfinished crossword puzzle and work on it again, even though I may have been completely stumped and unable to create any new fill last time I worked on it. There are those pesky blank spaces staring up at me, mocking me, taunting me, "Still can't figure me out, can you?" My mental reply, "Oh, yeah? Watch me." And over the course of days and sometimes weeks, the obscure and oblique references begin to take shape in my head and in the fill and the taunting ceases as the last letter is filled in. Then a new crossword puzzle takes its place.
What is it that is happening inside of me during those week-long attacks on the blank spaces? Connections are being made, new dendritic spines are going out and meeting other dendritic spines and those new synaptic connections greet me when next I pick up the crossword puzzle and receive the taunts from the empty fill and I reply by adding the exact right letter to match the crossing word and both sets of Across and Down clues! AH! Silence! And silence is golden when it comes from the completed crossword puzzle. I know that the silence came from my internal reference source, not from tracking down the clue in some external source. I am in training to do crossword puzzles without any external source available.
Now this handicaps me severely when some crossword puzzle creator plunks down names of sitcom stars, especially if the names cross each other. The last situation comedy I watched assiduously was The Bob Newhart show with Suzanne Pleshette in the 1970s. So any reference to a name from Seinfeld or Becker or MASH will require me to do double-duty and get the fill from crossing words and guesstimates. A challenge I readily accept over the alternative which is watching puerile sitcoms whose content is often more offensive to me that the commercials which interrupt their continuity. So if some crossword puzzle creator dares to cross two such obscure sitcom or other names, I take the action which Voltaire did with a letter he didn't like. He wrote back, "Dear Sir, I am seated in the smallest room in the house. Your letter is before me. Soon it will be behind me." I know that no amount of holding that crossword puzzle around will allow me to finish it — it has in effect finished itself unfinished. Sounded its own death knell. You will be delighted to find that the crossing of two obscure names or words is something that Stanley Newman abhors and he will not publish such submissions in his job as Crossword Editor for Newsday.
Speaking of Newsday, my wife was in New York City for a week, and I asked her to get me a copy of Newsday so that I might compare its crossword with the one in my daily newspaper The Times-Picayune. In particular, I wish to see the author's name, the editor's name, and the theme of the puzzle, none of which the TP deigns to publish, but all of which Newman considers it necessary to include with each puzzle. So, until our daily rag, appropriately carrying the same initials as Toilet Paper, includes these three items, I will be left to discover the daily puzzle's theme on my own by filling in at least two of the long fills and deducing the theme on my own. More work for an intrepid crossword puzzle solver often brings more enjoyment, so the missing-theme for me is a mixed blessing.
Stanley Newman was pro-active about getting rid of obscure references and his target of opportunity was Eugene Maleska the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle. Looking for "a fresh way of cluing LOA", Maleska had come up with "Seat of Wayne County Utah" — an easy fill for the 364 residents of the county, but beyond the pale for rest of the quarter-billion residents of this land! I was stumped for several times after I learned the fill for "French battle site" was STLO. — How could a place have such a name? I wondered and held as an unanswered question as I continued to use my new-found fill however it was clued. Eventually it came to me: STLO was short for Saint Lo, and Lo, and Behold! there was such a city at which a famous WWII battle took place shortly after D-Day. My unanswered-question-sharpened senses picked it up when I next watched "The Longest Day". But STLO was a gimme compared to LOA. Stanley was duly pissed and set out to hang Maleska's head on the wall of his Trophy Room!
[page 10] I thought the situation was intolerable. In religion, they say, there's no zealot like the convert. The same must be true in crossword puzzlers. I was a convert. A lot of the constructors and competitors I met at the tournaments had become infatuated with crossword puzzles as teenagers or even earlier, but I was a newcomer to the scene. I was flabbergasted that a pastime with so much fun and intellectual stimulation to offer could be reduced, in its most public showcase, to such an uninspired form of rote work. Many in the puzzle world seemed resigned to waiting Maleska out in the hope that this benighted era would pass. I didn't see any point in waiting. Then came the Wayne County/LOA atrocity. I decided then to start my crusade against the Times. I certainly wasn't going to change Maleska's hidebound way of thinking, and there wasn't much chance of convincing his newspaper bosses to reassign him to, oh, the obituary department. But at the very least I wanted to get the word out to the average puzzle solver: There was a new generation of puzzle constructors on the scene who shared a lot of the same ideas about fresh approaches to crosswords, but whose sensibility you'd never find reflected in what amounted to the country's crossword puzzle of record.
What's a guy to do? Newman started a Newsletter devoted to crosswords and criticized Maleska whenever a chance arose, which was apparently often. But Maleska bulldozed on till his death in 1993 while the new wave was growing up around him, led by Newman and others. Stanley Newman became the crossword editor at Newsday and the New York Times had the good sense to hire Will Shortz, another leader in crossword new wave at Games magazine until then.
Since my local newspaper had gone through a crossword change, dropping the Tribune Syndicate for the Newsday crossword, I can say Amen! to this next statement. About the only time, the editor comes out of the worm-eaten cypress woodwork of the Times-Picayune to make a personal appearance outside of the Editorial Page is when the comics or crosswords are altered.
Later in his career Stanley Newman would get a chance to avenge his treatment by the magisteria Mr. Eugene Maleska. Ah, revenge can be sweet. Even if the offending party, who called Stanley a "pipsqueak" is dead.
[page 46] One of the ironies of my working as Random House's crossword editor-in-chief and publisher: I was now in charge of New York Times crossword collections edited by one Eugene T. Maleska. He had passed away the same year that I started at the company, so Maleska didn't have to endure the indignity of taking calls from the pipsqueak. But his Times puzzle books were still in print, and when new editions came out, I was in effect editing Maleska's work in the form in which they would be seen for years to come. The phrase "spinning in his grave" was invented for situations like that.
It was a breath of fresh air to hear a writer praising the pun as Stanley does in his book. Puns are fun, they show a lively wit, and only overused ones deserve to be groaned at, but few people understand this distinction and bemoan any appearance of a pun, groaning as if it were obligatory, as if it were required by Robert's Rules of Order, or Emily Post's Rules of Etiquette. Such people live in a drab world, no doubt, as, to my way of thinking, eschewing a delightful pun its applause is the handiwork of mean-spirited pundits. Anyone who catches themselves saying "Aw" to a pun in a crossword puzzle should know that they're paying homage to the originator of the puzzle form, Arthur Wynne. Thanks to Arthur, thanks to all crossword creators who love puns. And my thanks to Stanley for having as little respect for so-called "conventional wisdom" as I do.
What better news could Stanley give crossworders than to reveal that the practice of their fun and challenging craft could lengthen the number of years they would have available of clear thinking and doing crosswords? Was Stanley delighted to find this out?
[page 93] Actually, I was beyond delighted; I was ecstatic, because the studies were conducted with a very particular purpose in mind: To see if exercising the mind diminishes the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease or senile dementia. The answer was an emphatic yes.
Have just finished reading and reviewing Ellen Langer's fine book, Counterclockwise, which shows how thinking and striving as one did in one's youth helps keep a person healthy, I was certainly amenable to the idea that working crosswords, or playing other games or puzzles, could keep one's mind in fine shape.
Chapter Five, "Pulling Back the Curtain: The Hidden Rules of the Grid" was one of my favorite parts of the book. I wanted to rename it, in Shakespearian fashion, "Quick — Behind the Arras!" — the arras being a heavy curtain often hiding an alcove behind which folks could hide to eavesdrop or spring out unexpectedly to surprise someone. Like the surprise when one discovers the theme of the puzzle which might be a series of phrases like HIT THE BALL, RUN THE BASES, and CATCH A FLY. Solving the first one makes one think of baseball phrases and the second and third phrases quickly fall into place in the fill.
In the next passage Stanley shows how the use of repetition is encouraged — it might be called "Stanley finds ANTS in the pen."
[page 98, 99] That's not to say that I ban any use of the same word more than once in a puzzle theme. But it's gotta show some spark. I recently received a puzzle submission that uses the word ANT over and over again in its theme and is going to be a terrific crossword. What, you might ask, is so interesting about using a humble three-letter word? In this case, the three letters are buried in each answer-and not only that, each answer is a city: MORGANTOWN, SAN ANTONIO, etc. It reminds me of a recent puzzle that has become a favorite of mine. It was entitled "Split Pea," but the theme had nothing to do with soup. The beginning and endings of the theme answers were. . . well, you figure it out: PICNIC AREA, PETER FONDA, PERESTROIKA. I particularly liked this because the PEA was split in different ways, sometimes the P at the start, and the EA at the end, or a PE and then the A.
The "Split Pea" puzzle was made by Fred Piscop, the friend from my word-game group who went on to become the editor of the Washington Post's Sunday puzzle. The other one, with the hidden ANTs, was made by a constructor who's not going anywhere, as far as I know: He's an inmate of the Florida state penitentiary system. I can't put a number on it, but a healthy portion of crossword puzzles published in America are created by constructors who are "guests of the state," as the saying goes. It's not surprising, when you think about it. These guys have plenty of time on their hands, obviously, plus convicts are perhaps the only people around to whom the fifty bucks or so that they'd receive for their hours of labor actually looks like a handsome reward. When you're making eight cents an hour working in the prison machine shop, or whatever it is prisoners are paid, a double-digit check is a godsend.
The idea that the crossword puzzle you'll be working on tomorrow morning may have been written by a convict may give you PAWS, but should not deter you unless you've already had your FILL of crosswords. If so, peace be with you. Silence. The rest of us are working on our latest SPLIT PEA SOUP.NOTE: my intrepid copy-editor and wife, Del, wrote this comment at the end of her review of my review: "I loved this review. — It's witty, humorous & funny. I wish I had read it 14 years ago!"
Read the Full Review at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to coverse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre reads about Parishioners Occupying Churches to Keep Them from Being Shutdown.
2.Comments from Readers:
EMAIL from Chris Bryant re 40th Anniversary of Moon Landing:
Would all of you who remember where you were 40 years ago during the moon landing, please take a moment and E-mail me. I know it's trivial but I'm interested. I was working for my dad and his partner's at their chemical plant that summer and they sent a bunch of us to pick cherries and watch the landing at his partner's house in Broomfield Colorado. Carla was at her house in San Marino California and they went out and looked at the moon to see what they could see.
When I was a kid growing up I always wanted my birthday to be a special day on the calendar, but unfortunately it was blank, every year, for 28 years, and on the 29th year I sat down at a neighbor's house to watch Man set foot on the Moon for the first time in history, on my birthday, July 20.
My neighbor worked on the tanks at Michoud which put Apollo 11 on the Moon. His wife had prepared a green cheese ball in the shape of the Moon with a small American flag planted on the top. When we began eating the green cheese, we didn't know but that the Moon was made of green cheese as the old saying went, but by the time we finished the cheese ball, we knew for certain it wasn't.
EMAIL from our Peregrine Walker, Kevin Dann:
I'm perched like a peregrine at the top of the Palisades in Fort Lee, about to swoop down on the big island at the end of my journey. There will be a thanksgiving prayer service today at 4:30 PM (sharp; they close the chapel at 5 PM; come at 4 PM for silent prayer if you like) at the Sister Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel at 2 State St. (the very end of Manhattan, around the corner from the Whitehall St./South Ferry subway station), and then a celebratory gathering in Battery Park afterwards. We'll gather near the Castle Clinton National Monument in the park; look for a map hanging from a tree, and a very grateful pilgrim.
I hope you can come join us!
EMAIL from Sue Ann in California:
Bobby,Please keep me on your digest subscription list. It was so kind of you to add me to the list after we met that great weekend at the Crystal Cathedral. I must confess feeling guilty getting to know more about you and the family on this rather one sided process. I find myself looking forward to the first of a month to see what has been happening down your way. The photos you place throughout the digest are down right awesome. I, for one, truly enjoy the results of the many hours you must put forth to "publish" each month.
I celebrate a birthday this week and have vowed to reconnect with those who have made an impact on my life. You and Del being one of them. You were so kind to me and I truly enjoyed the short time we spent together. I will be in touch later, before the leaves turn.
Give my love to Del and have a summer of plenty.
EMAIL from Betty Lewis:
I am writing to you in hopes of being able to use your enchanting yellow rose that is in the circle for my massage business logo. It totally fits for what I am thinking and is beautiful. I know it is subject to copyright, but I really hope you would consider letting it be uncopywritted if that’s possible, or let me borrow the image. I found the image at: www.doyletics.com/digest086.htm.
I am not sure what else to say, but I would definitely give you credits on the back of my business cards for the beautiful picture.
Have a Jesus filled day,
God Bless you for asking permission to use the yellow rose photo. I would be delighted to have that photo use as part of your massage logo.
EMAIL from Kathryn, daughter-in-law:
Oh, you and Del are so sweet. Thank you. Rob and I officially celebrate our one year anniversary yesterday. We were very busy getting the house ready to show today. . . . so I think we will have a quiet dinner tonight somewhere and reflect on the past year. I love the image you sent of the Angel's Face and will have to look at my other sunset image to see if I caught her. Also, the portrait you sent of me was awesome. I'm not sure what I was smiling about - but it's a great image.
Also, I heard Buster is in the hospital. I'm sending love and prayers.
I think Kathryn was smiling because Del had said her eyes were the exact color as her blouse and that led me to take her photo immediately. That Photo graces the very bottom of this Digest. Our dad, Buster Matherne, was in the hospital with blot clots, but he is now home and doing much better. (See Personal Notes for more details)
EMAILfrom Patty Lee: She writes that our good friend Armand St. Martin is jamming in Long Beach, August 1, 2009. Check him out if you're in Southern California:
ARMAND ST. MARTIN AND HIS BAYOU BOHEMIANS
LONGBEACH CRAWFISH FESTIVAL
Long Beach, California
August 1, 2009 - Saturday
Click for more information:
LONG BEACH CRAWFISH FESTIVAL
That was the prominent headline on a mail flyer I received this month from a clinic. It advertises a "Shingles Vaccine" you can get at your local drugstore, for a price. What it doesn't say, because it doesn't know, is that if you had chicken pox after the age of 5, you are likely not at risk for shingles. The reason for this is documented at this webpage on the doyletics website here.
Shingles is a rash often causing severe pain. If you get shingles, we believe it is because you had chicken pox before the age of five, and that makes shingles susceptible to a speed trace to remove them. So it's your choice: get a vaccine (which may stop you from getting the shingles you never would have gotten anyway) or wait till you receive the first symptoms of shingles and trace them away. Note: this is not medical advice. This is information from the science of doyletics based on a hypothesis which is yet to be proven scientifically. If you fear getting shingles, the vaccine is for you — it will stem your fear even if you never would have gotten shingles. If you can confirm you had chicken pox over the age of five (and not before), you are probably unlikely to get shingles. The choice is yours.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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Thanks to all of you Good Readers for providing the Sunshine which has made this site a growing endeavor. — Especially those of you who have graciously allowed us to reprint your emails and show photos of you and by you on this website — you're looking good!
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