The Sounds of the Passage of Time

As I often mention, gentle reader, I live my life with a bit of a double-effect narrator in my head. Even when I am in the moment, I recognize that right now will someday be a memory, so I tend to reflect on right now as though it has already passed even as it is passing. Perhaps that’s why I read so much Buddhism and Stoicism: they justify the way I already experience the world.

As such, certain sounds have always heightened this experience. One is the passage of wind through full trees.

I remember very acutely sitting on the back steps of the house down the gravel road. The back steps were really just three concrete steps from the door at the back of the garage. We didn’t have a deck. We didn’t even have a stoop. Just three concrete steps.

The steps looked out on the back yard. We had an acre or two, but only about one of it was level and clear; the remainder, across the creek, climbed up our slice of a hill and was heavily wooded. It was summer, about sunset, but it was already darkening on the eastern side of the hill. I was back from college for a couple of weeks, as most of my break time was spent in Wisconsin, working and going to festivals. I closed my eyes as the summer breeze tousling the treetops and recognized that my college years, my youth, were passing like that wind.

I’ve closed my eyes from time to time when sitting out on my back decks in Casinoport and here at Nogglestead when the wind has moved through full trees, and I could almost reach through the years and feel exactly as I did then, whether the then was sitting on those concrete steps at age twenty or underneath the crab apple trees at age thirty or the glider at age forty-five. To know I would likely again sit with my eyes closed and listen to the wind in the trees sometime in the future and remember now. I feel eternity a bit, I think, when I do.

About the same time as I was sitting on those back steps, Sting’s “Fields of Gold” hit the radio.

It was 1993, and I was about to finish up college. I was mooning over a girl who didn’t care for me, as was often the case in those years, so the thought of a love was a hopeful speculation at that point. But the song has the double-effect narrator who recognizes that the profound, eternal loves of youth pass like the wind through barley.

When I hear that song, as I did yesterday, I feel the very same melancholic nostalgia that I do every time–the same as when I first heard the song, before I had anything to really feel nostalgia for.

And when I hear it in the future, even if it’s just reviewing this post in the days or years to come, I will feel the same, and the connection to my youth and my now (which will be my youth when I’m older).

Even if my life isn’t facing a big transition as it was then (from college to post-college), these sounds remind me of the passage of time, and that I will transit to different things in my life and will only remember now, maybe, then.


Two stories on the front page of today show a bit of false equivalency.

AOC rips McConnell over pic of young men in ‘Team Mitch’ shirts ‘groping & choking’ cutout of her:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday night after a photo surfaced on social media, showing a group of young men “groping and choking” a cardboard cutout of the freshman congresswoman — while wearing shirts that read “Team Mitch.”

“Hey @senatemajldr – these young men look like they work for you,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

“Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll,” she asked, “or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?”

Protesters shout death threats outside Mitch McConnell’s home:

Gun control supporters stood outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home in Kentucky on Sunday night — protesting and hurling death threats at him — while broadcasting on Facebook Live.

“Murder Turtle!” the demonstrators can be heard shouting on video, in reference to McConnell’s infamous nickname.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” a person says at one point, while the others continue to yell.

“The bitch home — we keep seeing the lights go on and off,” another says. “This hoe really thought he was going to get ready to be at home after he hurt his little punk ass shoulder. Bitch, don’t nobody give a f–k! F–k your thoughts and prayers, Mitch. F–k you, f–k your wife, f–k everything you stand for.”

One is shenanigans, and one is an attempt to threaten and intimidate.

Some people would like for us to think they’re the same, but they are not.

Also, the distinguished gentlewoman is probably to young to remember this:

Jon Favreau, the 27-year-old speechwriter to Barack Obama, was photographed with his hand on the, er, lower shoulder of a cardboard cutout of Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton.

Or maybe she is hoping that her audience is. And she might be right.

The Almost Fallen Apple Trees of Nogglestead

As you might know, gentle reader, when I first moved to Nogglestead, I began planting an orchard of pear, apple, peach, and cherry trees.

It has not been particularly rewarding. To make a short story long, deer ringed the apple trees the first year–they stripped bark all the way around the trees, which killed them. I replaced them and resuscitated one, only to discover the signs of life it showed came from the crab apple root stock and not the grafted eating apple part of the tree. Then, we’ve had cold winters, late freezes, droughts, and Japanese beetles so that I did not get any yield even almost a decade later.

Until this year, when we have had a moderate summer and a wet spring which apparently kept the beetles at bay. The harvest of the peach trees in the front was small peaches and just enough for me to snack on them when I went out to the mailbox and back. Growing fruit here is a little like Edge of Tomorrow; every year, we get a little closer, but something gets the harvest.

Like a derecho wind this spring that blew through the Nogglestead side yard, where it knocked over a couple of apple trees and sent a large tree crashing against one of our side light posts, destroying it.

The apple trees were pushed over, but they were still alive. Until the deer came along and could suddenly reach all the leaves.

But I see that, in addition to the remaining a couple of small apples (hopefully, not crab apples, it has sprouted some new leaves.

I’m not sure what I am to do with the tree and its smaller fallen brother closer to the woods. Perhaps in the spring, I will hook it up to my truck or my tractor (lawn mower, but I don’t feel as rural if I admit that) to try to stand it up or continue to let it grow crooked.

Probably the latter, as I am lazy.

What I Learned About Myself, And The Reasoning Behind It That I Just Made Up

As my beautiful wife and possibly anyone who has been following my Good Album Hunting posts could have guessed, two tiers of record shelving, with roughly eleven linear feet of record storage, cannot contain all the records at Nogglestead.

So I quickly assembled a third tier, and as I was priming it yesterday, I noticed something.

When painting something, I always go from left to right or counterclockwise around the item.

I credit this to being old enough to remember a typewriter, and I’m just doing what the typewriter does with paint.

I dunno, maybe it’s more because that’s my dominant hand. But I like the typewriter analogy better.

Also, please note that I am not sure if roughly sixteen feet of shelving will be enough.

Thank you, that is all.

Book Report: Unto These Hills by Paul W. Johns (1980)

Book coverThis book is a short collection of historical musings written by the curator of the Christian County Historical Museum in 1980. As such, it focuses on Christian County, especially Nixa and Ozark, although the abandoned town of Riverdale punches above its weight in these pages as the town had a couple of mills and spawned Ma Barker and her boys.

At any rate, some of it might be more folklore than real history. For example, the book says that Knoxville, Tennessee, was once called Nokesville and that the family it was named after ended up here (I live just south of Nokes Lane on property once owned by a Nokes). It talks about some of the pioneering families, but neither of the names in my family appear in the book–for good or for ill.

A pleasant read and a couple of interesting stories to relate to other people who can then wonder where I learned these things.

About the damage on the cover: When I got the book, it had a 1982 Mizzou Tigers schedule grafted onto it, and I found the cover tearing a bit as I tried to remove it. So I tried to steam it off with the intention of maybe framing the schedule and giving it to my mother-in-law for Christmas. But, as you can see, it was a bust.

As Though She Were A Normal Person (III)

As I have mentioned a time or two, I scan the local society pages because, as Springfield is a smaller city, I can often see people I know or know of on the pages of 417 or in the photo galleries of the News-Leader.

And, to be honest, I started wondering when we would appear in those very galleries.

I mean, we have attended charitable functions from time to time, although we haven’t been back to a mega-ticket capital G-gala since the Springfield Symphony Guild Debacle of 2015. Even when I see the society photographer, he refuses to make eye contact. Still, I expected at some point I would be able to put down the beer and smile with my arm candy.

My beautiful wife has begun attending local business functions as she is a local business owner with a viable, proven software product on the market, and she is the first to the galleries with an image in the Biz 417 gallery for the Springfield Chamber of Commerce Luncheon 2019:

Compare that photo to this one from a recent book signing:

Of course, when you get to a certain age, sixteen years ago qualifies as recent.

But it proves that she is an ageless beauty.

If Anyone Needs Me, I’ll Be Safe In My Recliner

Best friends are both hospitalised after challenging each other to do 1,000 SQUATS in one go during a video call:

Two best friends in China have both been hospitalised after competing with each other to do 1,000 squats in one go.

Tang, 19, said she and her friend carried out the challenge earlier this month during a video call which lasted for about three hours.

* * * *

Tang went to a local hospital accompanied by her boyfriend. She claimed that her legs ached so much she could not even be carried by her boyfriend.

At last, she had to move slowly on her own to the hospital and was found to have a serious syndrome caused by muscle injury, known as rhabdomyolysis.

Rhabdomyolysis is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when muscles are injured and they release their contents, including a muscle enzyme, into the bloodstream.

That sounds dangerous. I’d better sit down.

Although trying to do 1000 squats sounds like something I would try. Fortunately, though, I tend to forget to do squats at all unless I’m at the gym or the dojo.

Babylon Bee Apparently Didn’t See Juwana Mann

Babylon Bee: Promising New Prospect Lebronna James Expected To Dominate WNBA.

Clearly, the youngsters over there missed the 2002 film Juwanna Mann.

Which I saw in the theater because I’m a big Miguel A. Núñez, Jr., fan.

Well, I remembered him from the television show Tour of Duty anyway.

Oh, the movies I took my beautiful wife to in the theater back in the day.

She drew the line at A Night at the Roxbury, though.

Another Last Time Comes Suddenly

I changed the linens in the boys’ bedroom this week, and it was the last time I would make up my oldest child’s bed with sheets with cartoon characters on them.

They’ve had Spider-Man, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mario, or Star Wars sheets on their beds ever since they had big boy beds. Oh, and how delighted they were when I would spend twenty bucks at the Walmart to pick up a new set and they would come home to vivid new colors and heroes. They were easy to delight when they were young.

They started out in separate bedrooms with their cribs and then their big boy beds–a set of bunk beds separated by a wall. A couple years ago, we moved them into a room together and activated the bunk bed feature of the bunk beds. We made the corner bedroom into a guest bedroom and painted it a pleasant orange, but we never got around to decorating it with wall hangings. It idled, as we haven’t had many guests to Nogglestead in recent years. Mostly, the boys used it as a playroom as their extensive Lego holdings resided in that closet.

This summer, though, as my wife thought she would spend a lot of time in the room after recent surgery, she ordered some art from a catalog, and I put them up. She didn’t end up spending much time in that room after all, but we’ve decided to again separate the boys into separate bedrooms, and the oldest will get the former guest bedroom and its full-sized bed.

So he’ll go to bed with adult sheets now and forever more (unless he’s a modern young man who might end up with cartoon sheets in adulthood). I guess it’s fitting; at 13, he has moved into adult-sized clothes that his mother often puts into my drawers.

But it puts one in a melancholy mood to start the morning. My children are growing up, and most of our lives will be spent apart.

A melancholy solved by actual exposure to those siblings who begin squabbling the minute they awaken (hence the separate bedrooms soon). Suddenly, I’m Can I send them to military school starting today?

In Unrelated News….

‘Shark Week’ starts off with another Cape Cod beach closing:

As viewers around the country begin to sink their teeth into Discovery’s annual “Shark Week,” the aquatic predators continue to lurk around the Cape, causing numerous beach closures over the weekend.

Another shark sighting shut down a Cape Cod beach Sunday, this time at Marconi when a lifeguard saw a shark fin about 40 yards from the shore. The beach was then shut down for an hour starting at 11:45 a.m., per the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity app.

Cape Cod rentals are having an unexpectedly slow summer:

Happen to have this week off and no plans? You might still find a vacancy on Cape Cod.

A Truro cottage set atop a coastal bluff with stairs to a private beach was still available on Friday — at a $1,100 discount. It was the first time in three decades that a summer week at the cottage went unclaimed, the owner said, and it’s not the only week still available.

A mystery for the ages!

Actually, the second article does mention the shark sightings.

Me, I’m worried because shark attacks were all in the news during the summer of 2001. Then some people did something that knocked the sharks out of the headlines.

Book Report: The Big Kill The Executioner #132 (1989)

Book coverThis book is nominally the last Executioner book from the 1980s: its cover date is 12/89. Almost a year into George H.W. Bush’s presidency. Midway through my senior year of college–I was pretty busy with DECA, the writer’s club, and National Honor Society at school, which was compounded by the fact that I didn’t have a car and lived midway down a holler. That’s what I was doing when the cover of this particular paperback was crisp and uncracked.

Reminiscing about where I was when the book came out is better than reflecting on the book itself.

The plot: The murder of a prostitute leads the son of a mafioso, the head of a respectable company but an unwitting participant in illegal activities, to start looking into his business a little more closely. You see, the son loved the young lady once. His investigations lead the mob to put out hits on him and the co-workers who might know too much. But the son retreats, with Bolan’s help, to a lodge in the Rockies where he should be safe–but it looks like the mob was already there waiting for him.

So it looks for the meat of the book like it’s going to be a tower defense plot, as Bolan, the son, the family of the son, and a trusted cop hold off the mafia hit teams, but it’s not that.

It’s a good plot treatment poorly handled. We’ve got some good elements at the high level that lead to a couple of set pieces that make little sense and some howlers. Like when Bolan comes out of an airport in the mountains and looks over the parking lot, and only at the end of his survey is his attention drawn to the car that has no snow on it as, I don’t know, maybe that’s important.

It took me a couple of times to get started on this as I tried to use it as a break from chapters of Bait and Switch, but I’d set it down for a day or so and when I picked it up again, I couldn’t remember what was going on. The jarring jump-cuts between the set pieces (which don’t hang together too well based on continuing the ultimate plot arc) left me wondering where I was.

So not one of the better books in the line, and not a strong note to end the 1980s. And it ends with a bit of a cliff hanger, although I’m not sure that the thread will be picked up in the next book. The hit woman from Dead Line has not yet reappeared. Perhaps it’s just something to throw into the Bolan plot warehouse for later.

But look at that coat he’s wearing on the cover. If you remember the 80s, you’ll remember someone who wore that coat.

Book Report: Potbelly Mammoth Volume 1 by Nate Hudson (2018)

Book coverI got this book at Rublecon last weekend. Rublecon is a small comic/toy convention held in Relics’ event center. I missed it last year because when I pulled into the parking lot, I could not find a parking space, and my family was reluctant participants anyway.

This year, though, I wandered through the aisles. You didn’t get a Good Book Hunting post because this volume is the only book I bought aside from comic books.

This is based on a Web comic that has been going on for a couple of years; this book collects the first 100 of them and some other extra materials. The story behind the comic is that two roommates, Nate and Swadley, live beside a mostly abandoned laboratory. An intern left behind at the lab creates a tiny mammoth and a tiny T-Rex that the roommates adopt as pets. Nate gets laid off from his job and starts dating the woman who fired him.

The cartoons themselves have a flavor of what you’d get in a newspaper column. Each has a single gag, and the stories build themselves into larger story arcs, but those arcs are not the point.

So I liked it. Better than Frik. Better than RPG World. I don’t know if that’s fair, as the other two have story arcs and whatnot, but it’s pretty good, and I’m hopeful that he’ll get another book out soon, but it looks like the actual Web comic has been at #141 since February.

Eh, no hurry. I have plenty to read in the interim.

Brian Fact-Checks Country Music

The other day, I found myself behind an International Harvester on Highway FF, and I thought of the Craig Morgan song.

This vehicle managed a speed of 15 mph along the state highway, but the song says:

Hoggin’ up the road on my p-p-p-p-plower
Chug a lug a luggin’ 5 miles an hour
On my International Harvester

However, this particular unit was a harvester, not a plower, so my experience does not counter the song.

I do, however, wonder what the combine was doing down by us. Most of the “crops” grown around here are hay. I can’t think where we have a field of wheat or corn big enough to warrant a combine.

Although perhaps that means I should get back into the habit of driving around exploring. I did that a bunch when my children were really young; we’d hop into the car to go for a ride and just drive around. Now that they’re older, we’re busy and don’t go driving around almost aimlessly. Which is a little sad.

(Previously, I mentioned this song in 2008.)

Nogglestead Proves There’s Always Something Worse In Nature

The bane of gardening at Nogglestead in years past has been Bermuda grass.

Image from Wikipedia / Bidgee

It grows by seed and by runners that can go under decorative bricks and through weedblock and, by the time you see it emerge, your bed is crisscrossed with the runners, and you pretty much have to turn the soil all over and dig it all out.

My beautiful wife has taken over the back flower bed and has diligently worked to keep the weeds out even though the Bermuda grass is happy to run completely under our deck, emerging from time to time up through the boards of the deck, on its way to her flower bed.

But this year we have discovered another foe: Dodder.

Image from Wikipedia / Tortel

This little vine is a vampire plant.

It cannot produce chlorophyll on its own, so it’s wrapping itself around the petunias and sucking their chlorophyll. The petunias don’t actually become dodder, but the little fangs it puts into the petunias can grow into whole new plants if you tear it off the flowers. To handle an infestation, you’re supposed to pull it all up and prune below the place where the chlorophyll-suckers are, but with flowers, that means pulling the whole plant.

Geez, I’m almost afraid of what we will discover next, and I lose sleep thinking that these things will develop a taste for human flesh (after all, I couldn’t finish The Ruins, not because it shared that conceit, though, but because the book sucked).

And flamethrowers are out of stock on Amazon.

Also, I hate Pearl Jam, but I cannot help singing a variant of this:

Not That You Asked

Brian J., did you live at the head or the mouth of the holler?

To be honest, when I lived down the gravel road in the holler made by Heads Creek (the house actually had some creekfront exposure, but in the back), I lived midway down the holler. Maybe somewhere in the nasal passages of the holler, or somewhere in the digestive tract.

But this description of the neighborhood is accurate:

Some hollers are more populated than others and it isn’t uncommon for as many as 300 people to live up a single holler, if “the bottoms” are land and wide enough for enough mobile homes, three story “fancy houses” and simple cinderblock homes — a fascinating patchwork I’ve seen only in the Appalachian Mountains where the haves and have nots coexist as equal neighbors.

Although I don’t know if the head and mouth really apply, as Heads Creek moved through various hills and hollows. I tend to think of the “mouth” of the hollow as where Heads Creek Road meets Highway MM, as this was our access route to the rest of the world, and Heads Creek Road followed the creek south from there. My holler was not the one with the fancy homes in it.

And I wasn’t born there; I moved in in high school and lived there for two and a half years, visited twice a year for four years, and then lived there again for a year or so. So I wasn’t related to anyone then (although my frisky younger brother might mean I have relations there now), and I didn’t get many “firsts” there aside from my first time having a party line or the first time living where one could dust the trees.

(Link via the Ace of Spades HQ ONT.)