In a Cabin in the Woods (not working on my manifesto – I ain’t even got one!)

Checking in, from beautiful Arnold, CA. (pop 3,288; elevation 3,999′) where the entire family is meeting up. But am working on a few things, as follows.

I’ve been working on the pulp-style space adventure from 28 years ago that I found 50 pages of when packing up to move. ‘Working on’ here means taking pictures with my iPhone, offloading them to my laptop, then using Googledocs’ OCR function to open them up as text. It kind of works! I will need another hour or two to clean up the formatting and obvious mistakes, and still need to find the penultimate chapter that somehow got separated from the other draft chapters and read it in. Still faster than retyping it, for me, anyway.

While the writing is obvious amateur first draft level, I love the ideas. I’ve got Dante in there – one of the bad guys is named Smarrita, as in:

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood
Where the straight way was lost

And the deal gone bad is with a race I call Selvans – our hero finds himself in a dark spot in the ‘woods’. And so on, I was being cute.

Funny: Brian Niemeier’s Soul Cycle (reviewed beginning here) is all about Dante in Space, and here I was, 28 years ago, writing a very different Dante in Space book. I would be happy to be half as good as Niemeier. Along the same lines, found a short story from back then where the premise is that explorers crash land on an Eden-like planet, only to slowly starve to death, as their bodies can’t break down the available nutrition – a variation on a theme from Michael Flynn’s Eifelheim. I’ve been obsessed with this thought for decades: that the chemistry of LAWKI is so weird and unique, with seemingly arbitrary ‘choices’ among chemicals and stereoisomers, with crazy things life-threatening prions, it would be amazing if encounters with alien life, no matter how superficially benign, didn’t kill us. I would think that the first step toward terraforming would be to nuke the planet from space, just to be sure. This is a theme in several short stories and two novels I’ve started drafting over the last 30 years or so.

Also, is anyone else bothered by the ‘enhanced’ pictures we get from the Hubble, and will no doubt soon get from the Webb? I look, and see nothing; I look, and see nothing even using fantastical modern tech. BUT – I don’t look, let that tech feed its input into spectrographs, computer algorithms, and other fancy stuff, and they produce:

Beautiful, but what is its relationship to reality? I don’t know.

This is also a ‘picture’ of the Pillars:

Also beautiful.

In what sense are either of those pictures real? Certainly, no naked eye look at the Pillars is going to look anything like either of these, even ‘naked’ eye through a powerful telescope. The question becomes: what information do we want to convey? In the old pulp draft, I have passages like these:

The small circular viewports on either side of the module cabin dimmed automatically for a moment, to protect the delicate eyes of the occupants from the brilliant flash of the cruiser disintegrating into plasma and dust. On the front viewer, a computer processed image revealed the details of the explosion, all extraneous light and radiation filtered away. On that screen, the ship neatly vanished into a gradually thinning aura. Neither man was watching,


The star cruiser appeared quickly, a sudden point of light, then a highly distorted image of a ship, trailed by a thousand house of mirrors reflections strung back into space-time. Then, just as suddenly, and with no apparent logic, a perfect little star cruiser was visible alone against the field of stars. Despite his predicament, Warner couldn’t help wondering how much of what he just saw was the result of the viewsys’s inadequate attempts to create a sensible image out of unknown inputs, and how much was “really” taking place. The question was nonsense, he reminded himself.

It’s a little bit like MiniTrue: somebody had to decide what is the important information, and arrange to have the ‘unimportant’ information filtered out.

Next, my beloved and I married 35 years ago on May 30; our older daughter married 2 years ago on May 30; our middle son married May 29th last year. Younger daughter married Jan 8 this year – but we let her and her husband come anyway. Joint anniversary celebration. Because 3 of our kids married over an 18 month period, it is now a running joke to remind our 18 year old son that he doesn’t need to get married anytime soon, it’s OK.

We, our 18 year old son, and our older daughter, her husband, and their 7 month old daughter are already here; the others are due in Friday morning and staying through Sunday. A rip-roaring anniversary hoedown! Elder son-in-law found a nice big cabin for us all.

It’s nice to have a family where everyone gets along. Anyway, we had lunch and a walk yesterday at White Pine Lake, a reservoir in Arnold. I walked to the dam and back:

The dam spillway
The creek flowing away from the dam.

And here’s the view from the back porch, where I sit typing this.

Temperature is sensory-deprivation-tank perfect: I was falling asleep earlier, sitting on the back porch, in shorts. Ideal.

Next next, our house is scheduled to hit the market tomorrow, if all things go well., with open houses this weekend. St. Joseph, please pray for us, that the Father may prosper the work of our hands to His glory! Meaning, of course, that we get a good offer soon, and find a good place to buy.

Starting next Tuesday, we will be staying in another very dear furnished rental in Auburn, and spending our time house hunting like mad. Not gonna look at the markets, no siree, not me, not one bit… AAAGH!

Interesting times.

Musings on Losing Money

                I happened to see your consolidated 
                statement yesterday, Charles.  
                Could I not suggest to you that it 
                is unwise for you to continue this 
                philanthropic enterprise -
                this Enquirer - that is costing 
                you one million dollars a year?

                You're right.  We did lose a million 
                dollars last year.

  Thatcher thinks maybe the point has registered.

                We expect to lost a million next
                year, too.  You know, Mr. Thatcher -
                       (starts tapping 
                at the rate of a million a year -
                we'll have to close this place in 
                sixty years.

Citizen Kane, discussing the financial losses in his media empire.

In 537, under the Emperor Justinian I, the Hagia Sophia was completed after 5 years of work. Notre Dame du Paris was completed in 1260, after 97 years under construction. Two gigantic churches, each pushing the envelope of the construction techniques of their times. One took 5 years to build, the other almost a century. While I’m sure other factors were at play, the most obvious reason for this difference in construction time is that Hagia Sophia was built with the resources of an Empire under the direction of one man, while Notre Dame was not. Further, if Justinian had wanted another Hagia Sophia or 10, he had merely to say so, and within a few years, he would have had them. The 6th century Byzantine empire had the resources to do it. Unfortunately, we get to see what happens when Notre Dame gets destroyed, but had it been destroyed in 1261, at best it would have taken a couple of decades to rebuild, based on the construction timelines typical of Gothic cathedrals. And funding would have been a real issue.

There are costs, and then there are costs. For a subsistence farmer, having wasted effort over a day or two is likely to have real costs, measured in terms of reduced food supply for him and his family. For middle class 21st century Americans, having to replace a $40K car carelessly destroyed is generally an annoyance – chagrin, insurance, shopping, such a pain! To a billionaire, its a shame if one of his pet companies loses millions. To Justinian, a billion-dollar construction project is just one among several, and all in a day’s work.

John D. Rockefeller is said to have become the modern world’s first billionaire in 1916. Excluding heads of state, Forbes says that there are about 2,700 billionaires in the world. Forbes’ list is generated from public sources and reasonable guesses. Maybe there are 3,000 billionaire-level fortunes, once you add in the heads of state/royal family types? Your guess is as good as mine.

Now add in the wiley old coots with ‘only’ 500 million or so – are they materially less rich and influential than some punk tech billionaire? Now you’re up to – WAG, of course – 10,000 super-rich people? 100,000? Who knows? Why not use $100M as the floor? It’s all guesswork at this point.

These thoughts were generated by viewing Jon Del Arroz’s latest little video. Netflix has been hemorrhaging cash for a while now, and just recently announced that it laid off a bunch of people. While I agree with Del Arroz that these are good things, I doubt it means even as much as the million dollars a year loss did to William Randolph Hearst Charles Foster Kane. What Kane fails to mention: if he’s making as little as 2% a year on the remainder of his money, he can keep on losing a million a year forever. (Really, if he’s making anything at all, say 1%, his loses will be sustainable for centuries.)

One other consideration: while the man on the back of a horse has only a small fraction of the strength of the horse, as long as he keeps reins in hand, he’s effectively as strong as the horse and himself combined. There are some limitations that need skill to work around, but a skilled horseman and his horse act as one – and that one is the horseman. In the same way, a billionaire who has large interests in companies may control them without having their assets show up on his Forbes wealth calculations. A skillful billionaire can even manipulate things such that others agree to lose money – as long as the cost of the losses doesn’t exceed the financial and personal costs of crossing the billionaire.

In this context, keep in mind that the hands at the reins of almost all giant corporations are not playing with their own money. The CEO or Chairman is likely a millionaire or even a billionaire, but his fortune is likely worth a tiny fraction of the corporate money he manages, and only partially tied to the fortunes of the company. Let’s say a billionaire with 10% ownership of the company wants something to happen – say, he’s in favor of the diversity programming over at Netflix. Now you, as a member of the board or CEO, have got to ask yourself: how long will I have a job if I defy the billionaire? It’s not my money, after all. Sure, theoretically, I’m beholden to the shareholders – but that billionaire is the largest shareholder! Far better to do what he wants (and quietly divest myself of my shares in the company, as much as possible).

Then, if worst comes to worst and the company folds or is bought by somebody who wants to make money, the billionaire and I will share a nice Just So story about how evil white supremacists in their evilness ruined our efforts to enlighten the masses and Move Forward on the Right Side of History ™.

And he’ll give me another job.

And that’s just one layer of the onion. Wealthy people either play by the rules of the Athenians in Melos, or they stop being wealthy people. There’s a lot of jockeying going on, pecking orders and loyalties to establish, and backs to stab. I don’t imagine the tech billionaire’s fortunes will long outlive them – these callow youths from hippy boomer households are not winning long-term against modern Medicis and Rothchilds.

Henry Ford is estimated to have been worth about $35B in his heyday. Less than a century later, and the entire Ford family is said to worth about a $1B. Give it another couple generations, and a Ford is as likely to be washing your car as selling you one. Very few fortunes in America last more than a generation or two; very few children of billionaires have whatever gifts it took to make that first billion. Money to them is like water to a fish – it is just the medium they live in, hardly ever noticed. Most children of the rich start right off burning through the family fortune and leave dregs to the grandkids.

There are exceptions, of course. The Medici fortune reached its peak within the first century of the Medici bank in the 13th century, but persisted for about 500 years before finally vanishing. (Another wildcard that some real historian should enlighten us all on: when the fortunes of others depend on or at least benefit from your fortune, you may be propped up indefinitely. The Medici married into many prominent and noble families – how much did this contribute to their riding out some incompetent and occasionally literally insane heirs? Were the family to fail, however, political turmoil would result. How often over those 5 centuries did other players decide they would rather that didn’t happen? But in the end, it did, but only through lack of male heirs.)

But in the meantime, they ape Kane. They all can throw around a billion here, a billion there, without feeling any pain; they can have the companies they control burn billions on idiot programs and policies and propaganda, and hardly notice except to blame others.

So rejoice when the mighty are brough low. But right now, these superficial loses are not hurting the real money. They can afford to keep up the idiocy indefinitely, if the want.

The End of the Middle Ages

Prepping for the last lecture class before we start reviews and head into finals. Looking at the stuff I prepared last year, I can barely remember doing it. Probably something to do with the physical and emotional exhaustion from moving, and the continued attention demanded by the endless steps needed to get our house finally on the market. (target date: 5/26.)

Here’s a brief snippet.

Edward Peters, Britannica online

This, from Britannica, a source I use cautiously if at all. Here, the writer, describes the triumphal revisionism of the Renaissance writers, who so badly wanted to tout themselves as the best and the brightest that they ignored reality when needed. I’ve long wondered how scholars writing sometimes literally in the shadows of the great medieval churches, could not see how preposterous their claims of *obvious* superiority were. Example:

A nice church. I’d take it, Buuuut….
Clearly better than this? I think not. And I’m not even going with the High Gothic stuff here, which is the greatest architecture the world has ever seen.

Reports of the death of the Middle Ages have been somewhat exaggerated. What’s really been overblown are the achievements of the Renaissance:

The next (and, as it proved, final), steps taken in this direction (physics of motion – ed)  were the accomplishments of the last and greatest of the medieval scientists, Nicole Oresme (1325 – 1382). …devoted much of his effort to science and mathematics. He invented graphs, one of the few mathematical discoveries since antiquity which are familiar to every reader of the newspapers. He was the first to perform calculations involving probability. He had a good grasp of the relativity of motion, and argued correctly that there was no way to distinguish by observation between the theory then held that the heavens revolve around the earth once a day, and the theory that the heavens are at rest and the earth spins once a day. 

Then everything came to a stop. Given the scientific and mathematical works of Descartes and Galileo, but no chronological information, one might suppose the authors were students of Oresme. Galileo’s work on moving bodies is the next step after Oresme’s physics; Cartesian geometry follows immediately on Oresme’s work on graphs. But we know that the actual chronological gap was 250 years, during which nothing whatever happened in these fields. Nor did any thing of importance occur in any other branches of science in the two centuries between Oresme and Copernicus. 

James Franklin, Honorary Professor, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of New South Wales

Then, yea, there’s that.

There’s a bunch more, but now I’ve gotta go do class. Yes, I inflict this stuff on 15 year olds. Toughens them up.

A Scene…

Here’s a bit from that pile of writings I was looking over yesterday. This is a scene from the second half of the novel from 30 years ago of which I’ve found an outline and about 50 pages. There are scenes I remember writing that are not in this folder; and some scenes I don’t remember at all. So maybe there’s another stash; perhaps, all told, there might even be 100 pages somewhere in the papers.

One scene in particular that I don’t remember writing follows. Background: Dr. Smarrita, evil genius, is the original bad guy, a unscrupulous fellow who was a teacher of both Warner, the space jockey, and Sue Fallon, his most brilliant student from whom he stole most of his best ideas. Fallon is 4’6″ tall and somewhat crippled. Warner and she once had a fling when they were both Smarrita’s students; even though Fallon was nothing to look at, she’s the quickest wit, strongest character, and most brilliant mind Warner had ever met. Warner, in contrast, is the classic jock/leading man type.

Now all three are captives on a ship run by two symbiotic and vaguely insect-like species. The Firsts seem to be in charge; the Ranks seem to do their bidding. Chief characteristic: the only sense of aesthetics or morals these aliens have is based on bioengineering: an individual is just an expression of a certain bio-mechanical concept, and judged by how well they fulfill the design. Thus, they judge the very few individual humans they’ve seen as both models and ideals. Fallon and a dead crewmate were their first examples; Smarrita and Warner were the next two. When it becomes apparent to them that Fallon and to a lesser extent Smarrita, are in fact far from the fit, athletic ideal they see in Warner, the aliens decide to fix them – standard operating procedure for them. They have just lead Smarrita away – they will work on him first, then, if successful, come for Fallon, whom they have found valuable, and whom they had ‘repaired’ a little when she first was captured. There is no saying ‘no’ to this, it might kill them or be utter agony even if it works.

Fallon and Warner are left alone.

CH 8, II

Warner looked at Fallon, who was peering after the three creatures as they lead Smarrita away.

“I don’t know if I should hope they succeed or fail.” Fallon turned back inside. “I should pray they succeed, for the good Doctor’s sake, but, if they do, I’m next.”

Warner walked up next to her. “Look, I know you don’t take any guff about your body. I’ve known you for some time now, and you’ve never asked for any slack or played for any sympathy. But, now, out of the blue, you have a chance to be made whole. If this works on Doc, I don’t get it – why would you object?”

Sue continued to look away, out the opening. “I don’t hate you, and I don’t wish you any harm. But, Bud, I don’t have to tell you anything.”

“I’m not asking for some great confession.”

“Oh? You want to know why I would object to having those disgusting creatures so much as lay a hand on me, no matter how much I may get out of it? Or do you think I don’t want to be ‘whole’, as you put it?”

“I haven’t known what to think about you for some time now.”

“OK, Bud, I’m gonna tell you something, a little for your own good, a little just because we are unlikely to get out of this alive, and little to just to have said it. Yea, I have wanted to be whole since the first time I understood that I wasn’t. I wanted to be the pretty little girl. Run and play, blow kisses and blush, the whole mundane deal.”

“But, no. The envelope of current medical practice has been pushed – what you see is what you get. On the upside, God, in His infinite perversity, gave me a very fine mind. I, in turn, used this mind to get to the highest levels of intellectual achievement, where, I naively
hoped, being a little crippled and a little ugly wouldn’t matter so much.”

“But, whom should I meet at the University? The good Doctor, for one. His genius is only surpassed by his ability to recognize genius in others. I felt I had found a mentor, friend and father, all in one. He pushed me, led me to discover how far I could really go. True, he
then promptly and without a lick of remorse stole my ideas. Imagine my pride in seeing him get that Nobel for my work! And all my school work records purged – how very thoughtful of him!

“But my real discovery at the University was – ready now? – you, Bud. You actually seemed to like me. What a couple! You, the dashing athlete, with me, the brainy cripple!”

Warner looked at the floor. “You think I didn’t care for you? You have some theory for why I spent my time with you?”

She continued to look out the door. “No, no, Bud, I found out how well you care for me-very well, by your standards. What we had was, rather, a breakdown in communication standards. Protocol incompatibility, you know.”

Warner looked over, “Can’t you stop being so goddamn smart for a minute?”

Fallon straightened her crooked frame just a little more, turned her face just a little more away from his. “Maybe not, Bud. Let me be smart for just a little while more – it is my strong suit. You recall the Incompleteness Theory from math?”

“My strong suit, you may recall.” Warner was getting hurt and angry, though he was hardly aware of it.

“It has interesting implications for communication – if there are propositions that cannot be proven or disproven from within any given mathematical system, then, perhaps, in any given system of communication – say, for example, two lovers – it may just be that there are thoughts or feelings that cannot be communicated.”

“That’s hardly profound, Sue. Why don’t you just say we didn’t see eye to eye, or some other cliché?”

“Now you’re loosing the thread.” Fallon voice was gaining an edge of urgency. “It’s not that we lacked a basis for communication, or that we had a basis, but reached an impasse. It’s that the proposition that we were setting out to prove was unprovable from the given
assumptions “

“I didn’t think I was trying to prove anything.” Warner was struggling to keep the hurt down, aware only of the growing anger that covered it up. “The only assumption that may have been a leap was that you are a woman like all others.”

“No need to get vindictive, Bud.” Fallon paused to regroup. “The proposition is hard to put into words – I’ve tried on occasion for the past 4 years. At the heart, we assumed that each of us was our own self to give, that we could give our selves to each other in measured, controllable increments. We set out to prove that we could pull back from the giving whenever we wanted, and take our whole selves back with us – no harm, no hard feelings. Well, maybe we can’t. Maybe nobody can.”

“You’ve lost me. I’m just a math guy turned swash-buckler – you’re the genius philosopher.”

“You underrate yourself, Bud. You held your own in Smaritta’s class – graduate level Universal CommSys Theory is not exactly P.E.” Her back was still to Warner. “You did use the ‘help me with my homework’ line quite successfully.”

“You still can’t believe that I cared for you?”

“On the contrary, I think you still care for me. I still care for you. It’s just that, within the system you’re in, the price of that – let’s go all the way and call it ‘love’- is too high.”

Sue turned to face him. Her voice cracked around the edges. “You know, when they rebuilt my face, the tear ducts sort of got lost in the shuffle – I don’t cry too well.”

Warner began to reach for her. She stopped him. “No, don’t touch me, and for God’s sake don’t say you’re sorry.”

“I still don’t get it, Sue. Why do you do this? All I ever did was treat you like a human being.”

“Did you treat me like a woman? You don’t make love to some generic ‘human being. Yes, you did- I felt like a woman in you arms. But then. you could not go further, and I did not know how.”

“So, what is this – you’re telling me now that you did not want me to make love to you?” Warner was exasperated.

“OK, William, here’s the real deal.” She touched his face with her hand. “There have been two occasions in my little life where my body has been given over to someone else’s mercy. The first time, no one asked me, and I couldn’t have said anything but yes had they.
I ended up in a trash can, a new born baby battered to the edge of death. My body is the work of God, modern medicine and a crowbar, according to theology, my doctors and the police reports. So much for a mother’s tender mercies, “

Warner began to open his mouth. Fallon spoke rapidly: “SHUT UP, William – don’t say anything!” She spoke softly now, “Then, there was you. This time, I was asked and I did say yes.”

She looked him in the eye. “I can’t say what it meant to me. Can you? That you would want me – ME! – and touch me so tenderly.”

She turned away. “But Paradise comes complete with a snake.”

First pass rough draft from 30 years ago.

More Archeology, Writing Division

(Update: I tried WordPress’s ‘verse’ format option, then mucked with the excerpts below until it looked right, only to discover it looks right only some fraction of the time, and runs off the page and is otherwise unreadable the rest of the time. Sigh.)

The neurons are finally coming back on line, as much as they ever were, after the physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting clean-out of the old house. Almost ready to start worrying about the next phase: finding a new place, and all that that entails.

In the meantime: found some more stuff I’d packed away and all but forgotten. Part of which is:


These files contain writings going back to about 1990. Among other things:

  • Pages of limericks. There was a time in my wasted youth when I practically though in limerick format – ta Da te ta Da te ta da and so on, such that spitting out a limerick was almost like breathing. They are mostly terrible. (Aside: people who don’t or can’t seem to follow limerick rules just – I don’t know what to say. Write something else if this is too hard. Sheesh.)
  • About 50 pages and an outline for a novel, a retro-space adventure. Swashbuckling space pilot, evil scientist, deal gone bad, frantic escape, insect-like aliens. The only deviation from standard is that the love interest is a crippled dwarf, a woman who is a genius and wit, but not a looker, with whom our dashing space pilot had a fling. Now, only she can save his life! It’s – not terrible. The main problem: my outline is far too spare for me to figure where in the heck I was going with this, 30 years later. On the plus side, the parts I did write I kinda liked…
  • Some Trek fan fic from the mid-90s. At the time, I worked for a company that had a proprietary sort of chat software running on its internal systems. Basically, you had a group on a message, and each new message was appended onto the last, such that you ended up with a massive run-on discussion. Social Media, circa 1993. So the geeks talked about Trek, and I used to mock it (in a sympathetic, friendly way – I like Trek!) by throwing out ridiculous plot outlines that were not quite unbelievable. In honor of Rodenberry, I’d find ways to get people naked as much as possible. It was a hoot, so much so that when I left that job, I killed a tree to print selections out.
  • A pile of short stories. Some are OK. When I start my new author-centric, politically silent blog to promote the fiction I want to sell, I may throw some of them up there.
  • Tons of song lyrics. Mostly, attempts to be hilarious, but some more weepy/emo ones as well. Hey, I was young at the time! And stupid!
  • Some poems. Yikes!
  • Some more music.

But I should share a little. Why should I suffer alone? Here are snippets of lyrics and poetry from way back, starting with something really old:

Stone Age

(Circa Reagan. To the beat of marching soldiers. Call and response)

I don't like no Gorbachev! (I don't like no Gorbachev! - and so on)
Give me Ruskies like Molotov! 
This Cold War thaw thing do us in  
I'd rather wear those leopard skins

(In a Jack Nicholson type voice over some distant apocalyptic explosions and Fred Flintstone sound affects – yabadabado, etc.)

Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age
Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age.
Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age. 
Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age.

And so on. Dated, yes, but maybe funny if you’re old enough to remember…

Shootout at the Whirly Wash

Face down in some laundry stenchy
Bullets flew past the change machine
The bastards just put a bullet in Frenchy
bleeding like crimson red cotton sateen!

Shootout at the Whirly Wash
God, somebody just winged Michael
Cover me, Shorty, I'm going in
Like a red sock in a hot cycle

She dropped her basket, looked over me
Her trigger finger was twitching
So what if I got some Shout on her  T?
I don't need to listen to her bitching

Shootout at the Whirly Wash
Doc's covering the detergent dispenser
Lay down some fire! I'll head for a dryer!
Ol' Bessie's lead will convince her!

Fabric was flying and tempers ran hot
We had 'em pinned down by the phone
When the manager lady fired a round of buckshot
I guess we'll just fold 'em at home

Shootout at the Whirly Wash
Long may its infamy reign!
A tip if you ever get into that spot:
Use COLD water on a blood stain. 


That Bug Might Be Your Mom

I used to be a Western boy with microscope and gun
But since I've gotten older, it's just not as much fun
Instead I want to take a tour of the Nothing that's my mind
For peace and love and happiness - what cool stuff I might find!

Careful! Careful! Easy now! All my desires die
Which is good, because I don't want to come back as a fly
Which brings us to a tricky point, a poser through and through:
what if that cockroach I just crushed was someone that I knew? 

I can sit with my legs crossed until both legs fall asleep
I can become Nothingness, and nothing want or keep
I can bank good karma by the pound with effortless aplomb
But I just can't stop worrying: that bug might be your mom. 

Yep. That was me what wrote that stuff, some thirty+ years ago. And I’m not sorry! Careful, or I’ll publish some more.

Is This Thing On?

My brain, I mean. On Thursday evening last, at around 9:15 p.m., our youngest son and I pulled away from our home of 27 years for the last time. Three solid weeks of packing up and moving out, as in 8-10 hours a day, me, my wife, and our son, with occasional and much appreciated help from friends. We will need to swing by to pick up the inevitable forgotten items (the router! Oops!) but as we locked up the storage unit after emptying the house, it was no longer our home. This is the only home our 5 kids likely remember from growing up, as the oldest was 5 when we moved there.

Today, Son-in-law the Younger borrowed his dad’s truck so that we could fetch the half-wine-barrel with the California chestnut tree in it. Took that opportunity to take pictures, documenting the end of the Eternal Brick Project of Dooooom! I’m posting a lot of pictures so that this blog may document the entire insane project. I think it took 7 years to complete.

The Garden Gate. The final piece from the original idea of enclosing the front yard orchard.
Another view, as one approaches the front door. The ramp in the foreground may be the single biggest part of the project, completed almost 5 years ago.
Thin bricks installed on the old slab concrete front step, in order to make the look better.
quarter circle planter with the fig tree (and a dying spider plant)
Same features seen from the driveway
From the gate, looking into the garden. The gate is repurposed window bars I picked up at Urban Ore in Oakland about 5 years ago. More woodchips need to be spread.
The (empty) basil box and (not empty) oregano box, flanking the little garden hose area. The flowering plant in the middle is a California native, and is covered in beautiful flowers, to which this picture does not do justice.
The unplanted vegetable beds, with the northern planter/wrought iron style fence. The idea was to get something viny to grow on the fences, thus making this a sort of secret garden, at least from a little kid’s perspective., But the honeysuckle grows slowly, and the one in this bed died.
The latest planter/fence combo on the south side comes into view as you walk into the garden. Peaches, heavy with fruit, are on the top right.
Better shot of the flowering native plant, and the ancient Japanese maple.
The back gate on the south side. My son and I just patched up the fence and replaced the hardware.
The view of the south side planter and redwood lattice fence from the inside. Peaches and apricots on the right.
Same, from the outside.
The corner by the power pole. Apricots on top.
Another view.
From the street, looking north. Irises, which were in beautiful bloom about a month ago, and the surviving honeysuckle.
The water meter niche in the middle of the roadside planters. This year, a nasturtium volunteered. Pomegranate in the middle, flanked by blueberries.
Looking north along the wall from the water meter niche. Any tower with sufficient room is topped by a Mexican tile. Rosemary flowing through.
The other quarter-circle planter, with the Mineola tree our late son started from a seed. This marks the north end of the street side work.
Looking south along the street side.
The ‘bench’ that connects the two quarter circle planters. Irises in the bed behind.
Standing by the bench looking toward the front door.
And we complete the circle: the front door from the driveway.

For some reason, I also built a brick pizza oven in the middle of doing all this stuff:

Pizza oven, front, with its oak door

Thus ends an era. As soon as we find our new hobby farm/homestead, I’ll start planning the Insane Brick Project of Doooom II: Backyard Boogaloo. I need a bigger pizza oven.