Been reading the above. (Just finished his biography by his brother Cecil – wild. ) In chapter 8 G. K. describes some of the characters he worked with on Fleet Street. Below is a bit about the scion of a noble Scottish family:
A man of that impossible sort, of finer spiritual culture and, therefore, of less fame or success, was Johnston Stephen, who was, I am proud to say, my friend…. He once made to me the very sensible remark, “The only little difficulty that I have about joining the Catholic Church is that I do not think I believe in God. All the rest of the Catholic system is so obviously right and so obviously superior to anything else, that I cannot imagine anyone having any doubt about it.” And I remember that he was grimly gratified when I told him, at a later stage of my own beliefs, that real Catholics are intelligent enough to have this difficulty; and that St. Thomas Aquinas practically begins his whole argument by saying, “Is there a God? Apparently not.” But, I added, it was my experience that entering into the system even socially brought an ever-increasing certitude upon the original question. For the rest, while a fierily patriotic Scotsman, he had too much of such sympathy to be popular with many Scots. I remember when he was asked whether the Church was not corrupt and crying out for the Reformation, he answered with disconcerting warmth, “Who can doubt it? How horrible must have been the corruption which could have tolerated for so long three Catholic priests like John Knox and John Calvin and Martin Luther.”
This morning, getting ready to go to work, I had made some toast and a cup of coffee, then realized I was running a little late. I put the toast on a plate, then headed for the car, figuring I’d eat it on the 15 minute drive.
At the car, fiddling with my keys, I dropped a piece of toast. A piece of homemade whole wheat sourdough topped with slices of perfectly ripe avocado. A nice, dense, chewy slice of homemade whole wheat sourdough, nicely toasted, with a spot of butter, and just the best, creamy avocado on top.
Yes, I dropped my avocado toast. Tragic.
I suppose it could have been a slightly greater minor tragedy if I’d had a bit of brie or, better, sharp coastal cheddar, under the avocado. Even so, it hardly gets any more Californian and minorly tragic than this.
A. I’m not much of a comics guy, but this idea sped unbidden into my head: Graviton – a superhero no one has ever seen, but whose existence is required by theory. His nemesis would be Dark Matter. They battle over who gets to hold the universe together, and taunt each other with jabs about how the other one only exists because some math shows he must exist, even if nobody has ever seen any direct evidence either does exist.
I suppose it would be kinda hard to draw. Probably should leave this sort of thing to the pros.
B. Today is my first official day on the new job as Headmaster, but since the school’s lease doesn’t start until 7/15 and we have to move out of our AirBnB today and tomorrow, I’ll be working from home in between moving stuff to…
C. …the house we rented in Sacramento. For the next year, we will be living an 8 minute walk from a much-beloved parish, and a 14 min drive from my work, because…
D. …our house in the Bay Area has not yet sold, AND the housing market here in the Sierra Foothills is both insane and showing signs of a steep correction. The kinds of properties we are looking at have typically increased in price by 50% or more over the last 2 years, from prices we could afford to prices that are frankly stupid. IF we can sell our house soon at something near asking price, AND the market her calms the heck down over the next year, we should be OK.
E. Yes, we own a cat. So sue me. I like dogs just fine, but I like cats more, and they’re less trouble in general. BUT – when you’ve been house hopping for going on 2.5 months, a cat is not trouble free. We have been very blessed with people who have been willing to cat sit him for us. He seems to be doing well:
F. We will miss Auburn. Very beautiful country. Here are a couple shots from a tiny (40 acre) privately-funded nature reserve with walking trails:
Now, this isn’t Yosemite or the Grand Tetons or anything, but for a suburban brat, being able to take walks in the woods instead of along some paved street or path is very nice. God willing, in a year or so, we will back as permanent residents in Auburn.
OK, back to work. The world continues to burn; pray that God’s loving correction is as gentle as possible.
(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:
(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.
For the past month, almost, I’ve been ill. Timing is very bad. First, I want to dump this house before the bubble bursts, then get something with land so I can grow food. I like growing things, and I like independence, and I like not starving. So: now the rush. Find a rental house in the area we want to live, sell this house, and then see what happens over the next year.
Stress levels are high, yet, except for the last couple days, my energy level has been low. Vicious cycle.
Yet, I’m not too worried. Here we go with the mysticism: When it comes right down to it, I’m not a believer, really, or a man of faith. I don’t ‘believe’ in God any more than I ‘believe’ in my wife and children, because I’ve had direct experience of Him. Not claiming any virtue here, far from it. Three or four things have happened to me in my life that might be called miracles or visions or, perhaps best, mystical experiences. I could sooner believe my wife is an illusion and that I live in the Matrix than doubt the existence and love of God.
Note the irony: I’d like to think myself as about as clear-headed a skeptic as you’re likely to come across. I’m the guy who reflexively doubts the study, the findings, the ‘evidence’ because I know, partly through bitter personal experience, how easy it is to fool people. To fool myself. Therefore, the first thing that comes to mind whenever I here anything surprising, let alone miraculous, is the million ways it could be wrong.
And to very clear, I don’t expect (and I don’t think God expects) anyone besides me to be convinced by my experiences. That’s just not the way it works. Further, I most emphatically reject any notion that having had these experiences makes me good or holy or any better than anyone else – far from it. Others can sin much more innocently, so to speak, than I. I have no excuse anymore, and haven’t for a decade or more now. May God have mercy on my soul!
Long preface. Here’s the thing: once in a while, I really pray. Not mumbling the words or going through the motions, which, if I’m honest, makes up 99.9%+ of my so-called prayer life. Once in a great while, the reality of my nothingness hits me, the overwhelming obligations I’m under as husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, and friend. And my sinfulness – not checking items off on the ‘not-to-do-list’ (although there’s plenty of checkmarks on that list!) but feeling some small fraction of the weight of my lack of love and gratitude to God.
And I pray. Sometimes only for a few seconds before the world crowds in on me again and I lose focus. But in those moments, the clear, repeated message I get is: God has got this. He is working his will out right now. He will make everything come out gloriously well. Please note that there’s not the slightest hint that we – I, my loved ones, everyone – won’t have to suffer and be brave, maybe even die. Rather, that, apart from doing our best to surrender to God’s will, there’s nothing else to be done here, and forces much, much greater than us pitiful humans are fighting it out.
And we win, in the sense that the water boy on the victorious side in the battle can be said to have won. The important part is for us – for me – to remember we’re just water boys. What victory will look like is simply unimaginable for us.
I’ve come to suspect that what we’re seeing now IS God’s mercy. That, without His mercy – and the legions of angles who even now are surrounding and protecting us – things would be much, much worse.
In the mean time, some quotes and thoughts. Starting off with some Lewis, as this passage about a religious experience of Jane Studduck suggests to me that Lewis himself had had a similar experience. I don’t expect any two are exactly alike, but the experience itself is probably as well-captured as is possible:
Jane had gone into the garden to think…. Then, at one particular corner of the gooseberry patch, the change came.
What awaited her there was serious to the degree of sorrow and beyond. There was no form nor sound. The mould under the bushes, the moss on the path, and the little brick border were not visibly changed. But they were changed. A boundary had been crossed. She had come into a world, or into a Person, or into the presence of a Person. Something expectant, patient, inexorable, met her with no veil or protection between…
Words take too long. To be aware of all this and to know that it had already gone made one single experience. It was revealed only in its departure. The largest thing that had ever happened to her had, apparently, found room for itself in a moment of time too short to be called time at all. Her hand closed on nothing but a memory, and as it closed, without an instant’s pause, the voices of those who have not joy rose howling and chattering from every corner of her being.
But her defenses had been captured, and these counterattacks were unsuccessful.
A trial lawyer never calls a witness to the stand unless he is sure what that witness will say. Similarly, no large funders fund a study unless they are sure what that study will say.
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
Paul says that we honor and dignify the less presentable parts of the body by clothing them. Those who insist on the dignity and deference they assume due them by virtue of their PhD or JD or M.Ed and so on are identifying thereby with certain parts of the body. Thus, it is understandable that we peons often call them by the vernacular terms for those body parts.
The king told him that for some years, ever since his queen’s death, he had been losing heart over the wickedness of his people. He had tried hard to make them good, but they got worse and worse. Evil teachers, unknown to him, had crept into the schools; there was a general decay of truth and right principle at least in the city; and as that set the example to the nation, it must spread.
George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie – published in 1883!
Give G.K. the second-to-last word:
Now, when society is in a rather futile fuss about the subjection of women, will no one say how much every man owes to the tyranny and privilege of women, to the fact that they alone rule education until education becomes futile: for a boy is only sent to be taught at school when it is too late to teach him anything. The real thing has been done already, and thank God it is nearly always done by women.
We were sitting around discussing the possibility of buying some land and building houses for us and the kids on it. I used the term ‘compound’ which didn’t go over well with younger daughter. “That is what it would be called,” I replied, “I won’t be writing a manifesto or anything “ She suggested ‘homestead’ which I objected to because it’s wrong – we’re not going to be homesteading.
Youngest son suggested we call our fantasy future digs a “fun size gated community.”
Continuing one of the items in the last post. Thanks for all the comments about your family sayings, keep ’em coming. Here’s a few more from Casa de Moore:
“Nice haunches he’s gettin’. Beautiful.” From Babe, used whenever something is turning out nicely.
“Anyone else want to negotiate?” From Fifth Element, used whenever the discussion has reached a conclusion, especially if that conclusion was reached via some physical action.
“Right again guys! Group hug.” Galaxy Quest.
“But who cares?” Ruby Rod, Fifth Element. Needs to be said in the insane Ruby Rod voice.
“That’s a good rule. But this is bigger than rules!” Babe.
“Phasers on stun!” Sometimes I will harken back to Bloom County and say “Phasers on deep fat fry!”
“The trees are really quite lovely” Princess Bride. Trying to find the good in a bad situation.
“I shall be very put out.” Princess Bride. Whenever expectations are not likely to be met.
From the distant past: every time I’d change a diaper, I’d say, in my most serious voice, “I can change you. But you have to want to change.” The wide eyed look on the baby’s face always cracked me up.
This is pretty endless. I’m sure I could come up with dozens more if my daughters were still around – they were into musicals (and my eldest has a freakishly-good memory for dialogue) so we’d have a constant stream of bits from Oklahoma and Singing in the Rain and Hairspray.
One of my weirder habits I passed on to them: just breaking out in song at the drop of a hat, most commonly in an over-the-top showtune belting style. Showtunes and jazz standards, for the most part. I bet my kids were looking for a place to hide when their weirdo dad started in singing in the kitchen….
What insanity are we attempting to escape, however breifly?
Yesterday, had an old friend over, with her husband and year old son. They wore masks, and would not come inside. Nothing so unusual about that. But – this friend eats organic, avoids doctors, dreads antibiotics, and was going to move out of our house (she used to live with us) if we tented for termites. Yet, when the same people – sometimes, the very same human beings! – who assure her that eating organic isn’t protecting you from anything, that doctors are to be trusted and obeyed, that antibiotics are perfectly safe, and that the pesticides used in termite tenting are safe when used correctly – when those same people tell her the ‘vaccine’ is completely safe, that everybody else is first and foremost a disease vector, and that, in any event, she and her husband and her baby, three young and vigorously healthy people, are at serious risk from a virus that hasn’t killed anyone they know who was even moderately healthy – boom! suddenly, having reservations as to the reliability of the directions given by those government people is eeeeevil.
Let me get this straight: I have to take an experimental ‘vaccine’ because it doesn’t work – right? It doesn’t protect against getting the infection, doesn’t protect against spreading the infection, has by definition unknown mid- and long- term effects and effectiveness – but I have to take it. If it worked, then people who are worried could take it and stop worrying – you know, like anyone does WITH EVERY OTHER VACCINE YOU TAKE. But no – this ‘vaccine’ must be taken by everyone because it doesn’t in fact work, on the theory that maybe then the Coof Gods will be placated and make this horrible plague, the victims of which develop nothing worse than cold symptoms 99%+ of the time, go away?
Here in Northern California, our scientifilicious betters have determined that the particularly strain of COVID we have here is so intelligent that it knows whether people are inside or outside, such that we are only ‘safe’ inside masked up but could, conceivably, not mask up outside. I guess back when they were making everybody stay inside, outside was too dangerous, but now the genius virus knows only to be dangerous to unmasked people inside…?
Speaking of genius viruses, it seems to be widely believed that the steps of masking up, staying a magical 6′ apart, and staying locked up for months on end have ended the flu as a disease. For now. So, of two airborne respiratory viruses with virions exactly the same size and which employ exactly the same vectors for spreading (and which have exactly the same symptoms 99%+ of the time) the steps taken to reduce COVID eliminated one, such that no flu deaths have been recorded since March of 2020, but had no evident effect on the other – that seems reasonable to people. Sure, it’s magic all the way down.
So, Christmas and Easter are cancelled again. Because nothing in the situation is going change between now and then to make things ‘better’ – flu season will start before any drop in ‘cases’ can be confirmed to the satisfaction of the all-seeing CDC and its toadies, the nursing homes have been restocked with dying old people whose deaths will be attributed to COVID – death ‘involving’ the Kung Flu, as the CDC puts it – so since the ‘vaccine’ doesn’t work, we’ll see ‘cases’ increase starting now, and not taper off until maybe February, once the elderly sickly have been wrenched untimely from this mortal coil. Then, as Easter approaches, the CDC, upon examining the entrails of freshly gutted rights and liberties, will determine we’re not safe *enough* to gather for Easter. Bet on it.
So let’s think about something else! OK?
Family Sayings. Everybody has these, right? Ours are typically movie-related. I’ll doubtless think of a bunch more once I’ve hit publish. Off the top of my head:
“Is there air? You don’t know!” Sniff. “Seems OK.” Often, we skip the setup, and just sniff and say “seems OK.” Galaxy Quest, of course. Used in any taste testing or when stepping into the new situation.
“What you mean ‘we,’ Pale Face?” I remembered this as a Bill Cosby joke, but evidently not. It dates back earlier. One source said a late 50’s Mad Magazine, of which my elder brothers had many, so maybe I saw it there. The idea: The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by hostile Indians. The Lone Ranger says something like “looks like we’re in deep trouble!” and Tonto replies: “What you mean ‘we,’ Pale Face?” So say someone utters something like “we need to tidy up” the others are likely to reply as did Tonto.
“I hate being right.” Galaxy Quest, again. When things get ugly fast, as predicted.
“Cute as a bug’s ear.” A favorite saying of my Oklahoma farm boy dad.
“Any help would be – helpful.” Monte Python & the Holy Grail.
“Good pig country.” Ditto. Used when trying to make the best of a bad situation.
And I’m sure there are a dozen more that have escaped my fading memory…
Peak Harvest Day: Picked some okra, some beans, and a few large cling peaches – nothing special. BUT picked probably 40 ripe figs off our little fig tree out front, and dozens of our small freestone peaches. And there are plenty more where those came from.
Plenty more where those came from. No pomegranates this year, no idea why it took the year off. But there are a couple dozen nice big pears, and some minneolas for fall/winter. Something – I strongly suspect it’s a possum I’ve seen around – seems intent on eating our butternut squash plants. Leaves, fruits, growth tip of the vines – there today, gone tomorrow. I’ve got plants in 4 different locations – it’s found 3 of them. I managed to put a milk crate over one squash, which seems to have escaped so far. Last year, we had 20+ squashes, and still have 3 left. This year?
Tomatoes have been tasty but few. Okra has been enough, beans were a waste of space. We’ve got all the basil, oregano, and rosemary anyone could need. Look to have a good potato and sweet potato harvest. This is all on a 7,000 square foot suburban lot, where the backyard is all but unusable due to two ancient walnut trees. Just a front yard orchard with two raised beds, some planters and some boxes and pots. So – pretty good, I guess.
Pizza Party: Yesterday, celebrated a belated birthday party for younger daughter by having a backyard pizza party!
Pizza was good. My little brother and his family are in town Friday, so that’s another pizza party; then the 28th is another, then…