Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jawbone of an Ass

The mandible of the ass, and ours as well, for that matter, is developed from the primitive mandibular processes in utero, forming on either side of the primitive face. The left and right primitive mandibular processes are united at a symphysis in front, at the point of the chin, which later fuses. Either the left or right half of the mandible, when detached from its counterpart, becomes a serious weapon. No doubt there were vultures who had denuded the face of a young ass with an as yet unfused symphysis, that provided a half jawbone for Samson to kill a number of fleeing Philistines in "heaps". He had broken the bonds the Philistines had tied him with, and he exacted revenge upon his captors and protection of the Isrealites with a weapon that was, and is, shaped like a sickle. It may have been used as a sharpened tool to cut grain stalks as well in this pre-bronze era! The slaughter was seen in the oral tradition of the Israelites as sanctioned by God; later, recorded as Judges 15: 15-16. In the movie of Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade, the protagonist, Karl Childers, a retarded strongman, protects a desperately abused woman and child who have befriended him, from a pathological abuser they cannot escape, by killing him with a sharpened lawnmower blade, a curvilinear instrument to cut grass. Karl had spent many years previously in an asylum for the criminally insane from childhood for an earlier killing of his mother and her lover when he, in ignorance, employed "biblical justice" in this act. He used a sling blade at that time which is like a sickle for cutting grass stalks. He was released as cured from the asylum, but during his years there, came to relearn his bible. Like Samson, he was bound by the bonds of his simplistic understanding, but cast those bonds and his freedom aside, to protect helpless people he had come to love, from their abuser. This slaughter could well be seen by contemporaries, and me, as sanctioned, if not by by God, at least by Judges. See the movie before you judge! Nothing is simple.

Monday, January 23, 2012


The collections of designated symbols we call words can be read or heard. The 2nd cranial nerve will mediate the written word to the occipital cortex. The spoken word will be mediated by the 8th nerve to the temporal lobe. These different entry points and imprinting areas will inevitably lead to differences despite the excellence of the subsequent processing and integrative activity of the brain. I have insufficient knowledge to support that point of view, but Common Sense and Ockham's Razor are always of some value. The symbols you see, do not necessarily reflect the symbols you hear. Moreover the acuity between seeing and hearing may be variable and lead to dramatic differences. Since these symbols have become the stuff of communication, then oral and written language is the stuff of life. Many have developed listening skills that commit much of what they hear to memory. Others have highly refined visual skills and are visual learners; reading and writing to lead to retention. Both points presuppose equal acuity with eye and ear. When my colleagues and I speak from the written word on Friday next, we will transport the visual symbols to the listeners ear. It will go from our imprinted thoughts from the occipital cortex to the spoken word to the listener's ear to their temporal lobe cortex. The symbols will be filtered and compounded for the listener by their neurons of intellect and good taste, rage and ecstasy! (I'm getting overheated, but what the hell!) Whether oral tradition could ever translate to written tradition: whether Phoenician symbols and tongue could ever translate to Greek symbols and tongue: whether the passion in the masterly writing is the same as in the passion of the spoken word:whether the right brain of the listener engages the left brain of the speaker, and what's the result: all is a mystery to me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rubber hits the Road

My three poet colleagues and I are to give an evening of reading from our literary efforts. It will comprise selected poems and my short, short, prose! I have read another person's content many times publicly, but have never read my own material to an audience! It's easy to read another's material since there is no responsibility for content other than the choice to inflict it on others! Despite the fact that you like your own work; you have convinced yourself that you are writing for yourself; that you feel your craft is adequate and the content authentic; there is still a need for approval. We're human! You can write for money, or love, or to scorn, but if you really write largely for you, it is therapy. You can write from your mind, or your heart, or your soul, but if you write from your soul, it is therapy! If one writes, one can get it all out, purge, and spill the words in front of the public on a page. That gives a comfortable distance to protect yourself. It's another matter to read it to the public! That's when the rubber hits the road! Suddenly the distance between reader and writer is gone. Suddenly, immediacy, facial expression and body language shorten the distance. If you provide angst and violence, sex and love, death and redemption, justice and injustice, the heart and the mind will focus . If you write from the soul, and speak with the mind and the heart, maybe, just maybe, the other soul will resonate. Anyone who says, "I don't give a damn whether they like it or not, I'm writing only for me!" is a bloody liar or a fool.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Augmented KD

The pianist and I were at a dinner party last evening and amidst other topics, food was both eaten and also a topic of conversation. Favorite foods and recipes, particularly pasta and its creative nature provided a lively and entertaining discussion. The pianist was engaged in the talk, but since my culinary skills are small, though I am a gourmand, I contributed little of consequence. That is until I mentioned that my default meal was augmented KD. If the pianist was away and I was on my own, KD was the choice with added sharp cheese and butter and cream. Gales of laughter! Oh well! I always ate it from the plate, and the augmentation rendered it less orange and more comfort. Later, as I went to sleep last night, I thought of my friend and his addiction to KD. Years ago my young colleague, who was a busy GP, split from his wife and to save money, slept in his office and subsisted on a diet that was almost solely KD. His practice was immense, so time was of the essence for him, and his settlement, an expense that was looming, an additional worry. Six or eight months later he told me he was concerned that he may have leukemia, as he had noticed generalized bruising recently then, his gums had started to bleed and weight loss was noticeable. When he finally checked in from the investigation, he was diagnosed with scurvy! KD is augmented by all sorts of good vitamins and minerals as well, but not Vitamin C because it is heat labile when baked. My advice is, stay married, drink orange juice with your KD if you are addicted, use it sparingly as a default meal, and don't save time and effort by eating it out of the pot!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


When you are reading something, or singing something, and out of the blue a sentence or a lyric smacks you in the face; something powerful that you know was a truth you needed to hear comes from beyond if you are mystically oriented. This is never something that you sought, but has sought you. Two things happened today! Jean read, "Eli said,' Go lie down; and if he calls you you shall say, "Speak Lord for thy servant hears." ' " Then later, in the singing of the hymn, Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness; the lyric by JSB Monsell, reads, "Fear not to enter his courts in the slenderness of the poor wealth thou canst reckon as thine;..." Whether a wealth of goodness, or money, or intellect or pedigree; it cuts no spiritual ice today. The church may have, at one time in the past, revered wealth and power and prestige; intellect, pedigree and celebrity. That is no longer the case because the church is becoming threadbare. My church has and should cast aside those symbols of power since the church's credibility amongst the unchurched is two or three generations away from it's Communion. The prognostications that the Western church will die out over the next fifty years will never happen! There may be a continuing erosion, but we will settle at some time to an irreducible minimum. There will always be poor people, rich people, distressed people,smart people, caring people, whose door opens, who begin to listen, and who speak to Whom they hear!

Friday, January 13, 2012


The pianist and I were week-ending in Lotus Island when we were phoned by the police that we had a break-in at our house in Lotus City. The policeman said there was evidence of ransacking in the bedroom wing. The security alarm had rung, the monitor called in, and the police were prompt to attend but apparently, whoever it was, had sacked and ran. We had recently established the security system since we wanted to help our daughter feel more comfortable as she was an older teen and had a life apart from just her parents cottage. It was in the days before cell phones and we couldn't get hold of her to check the house, so I just thanked the policeman. We came home. The policeman had said that the dresser drawers were all open in a bedroom and the materials were strewn all over the floor, the clothes cupboard had clothing and hangers on the floor, and on the bed, and in the hall. The police response was prompt so the break and enter people probably had little time to search and find, and it was curious that they chose the area that they did. When we finally arrived and inspected the bedroom wing, where the police had not disturbed the crime scene in any way, it appeared quite normal. Our daughters room was as usual in it's distribution of clothing, books and materials in an open and readily available state rather than closeted in drawers. The bed was tousled but ready to enter without any effort required to turn anything down. A picture was tilted and the waste basket was full of paper and peels of orange and banana. Our daughter came home shortly after and told us she had run out the front door in a hurry and forgot to turn the alarm off and reset it. She said, "I went out so quickly I didn't hear it go off. I'm sorry!" We phoned the policeman and thanked him for his visit. I asked him if he had any teenagers! He said, "No. I'm not married." I told him, "You're in for a treat some day if you are lucky. In the meantime you can close the case. Love trumps tidy!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


While one can admire the dedication of the French hybridizers in the development and selection of superior cultivars of lilac, there is a homely side to the old timers of yesteryear and more so their progenitors. (Syringia vulgaris) may be seen in their varietal splendor in The Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton Ontario as the pianist and I observed when we visited some years ago. They say, "The largest lilac collection in the world." Spouting off! Not a very Canadian thing to say, for a self effacing nation. Despite Lotus Island being Rhododendron country, lilacs have a place everywhere, as they are ubiquitous in nature. Every barn and abandoned house on the more sheltered prairies and the interiors had an old timer, surviving after a fashion without demanding a great deal of care. Maybe not as varied and fancy as the new cultivars, but a survivor to be admired and a touch of class, colour and fragrance in an environment of sometime drabness. I have two lilacs that are grafted specimens and horror of horrors,I have allowed a limited growth of the suckers alongside the cultivars! Though I treasure the cultivar, the progenitor is the creation of Mother Nature rather than the French hybridizer, and it reminds us where both we and the cultivar came from and what we have become, for better or for worse. It's like grandpa up in a spare bedroom in the mansion, getting by on his gruel! The progenitor has small florets on spare heads, but it is history and if contained by removing most of the suckers as I did today, it provides some interest to those of us who are probably quirky and know down deep that "beauty" is still," in the eye of the beholder"! If you don't remove most of the suckers they will overcome your cultivar because the progenitor is as vigorous as is Mother Nature. There is no harm in recognizing and prizing our origins,thick or thin and tough as nails!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Magpie Man

I cut up some old hoses, no longer intact, to thread old wire through the cut segments, to secure a heavy Wisteria to the eaves. It works beautifully as the Wisteria is heavy when in bloom and leaf, and the hose segments do not traumatize the branches in the wind and also shed the damp rapidly. I confess an aptitude for saving any junk that could be remotely useful and some that probably will never be so! I have always found it easier to discard the pianist's junk rather than my own, but I have learned the hard way to stay my hand in that arena. An unalterable penchant for neatness and order will result in a loss of valuable materials to the dumpster that the more frugal will readily apprehend. I do not retain the shiny but clearly useless stuff to impress a lady pianist, since unlike a lady magpie, she needs more than shiny to consider giving me rapt attention. The magpie's junk is close at hand in the nest area, easily accessible and even rotated, when boredom with his toy, or inattention of his mate, mandates a change! Like the magpie I maintain my junk near my nest and instantly accessible, so that "out of sight, out of mind" does not obtain. Storage and dead storage is dynamite to utility unless the unlikely case that a distinct inventory is at hand. The dog that always buries a bone or excess bread heels will not remember the whereabouts of all his treasures, nose or not. There is nothing worse than going through the dead storage area a few years hence and seeing how much potential you could have made of the "objects de vivre" you stored!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


The hype of skin moisturizers and their pitches about skin care have prompted me to attack the whole idea since it is in fact ridiculous! The television ads drive me crazy since they undermine the natural and promote plasticity in human beings! I am not a dermatologist, but I do have common sense and know this: that Mother Nature is never wrong, and that Ockham's Razor is alive and well! The fetish of bathing or showering once or twice a day, cleansing one's epidermis of Mother Nature's lipids, wax esters, glycerides, squalene, and sialomucin, all it's natural sebum oils, and then, when one has denuded their epidermis of this protective coating, adding some cream that smells like a flower and is manufactured from the petroleum industry; it is an act of violation! The natural epidermal coating is much more complex than I have elaborated, but one came with it in abundance when we traversed the birth canal with our lipid covering of vernix caseosa! It protected us in utero. We are still protected if we allow it. It's not that one shouldn't bathe at all, it's just that it is badly overdone. I guess it's reasonable to smell like a flower some of the time but put it on the front of the forearm where there aren't many sweat glands and it won't get diluted. The dermatological scientists can't agree on the utility of all these waxy coatings we have been provided with, but human beings should still smell like people and retain their natural waxes minus the dirt. The coating is there for a reason. Not knowing why doesn't count! Mother Nature is always right, and the correct answer according to Ockham is usually the simplest answer!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Coinage Redux

I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. It's been my habit for years to either pay with a credit card at any stand-in-line cashier, or pay with a bill. The credit card, because it's an interest free loan for a few days, or a paper bill because I hate standing in line while someone, almost always a woman, counts and recounts, out loud, a volume of coinage from her reticule! They are good at it but I would be embarrassed to hold the people up behind me if I doled out my pennies and nickels in that fashion. It just doesn't seem manly and I still want to be one of them! I suppose I am hung up on this matter to my detriment but I cannot help it. I am probably projecting that I would irritate those waiting in line behind me; since I feel that way myself, they must. Can I imagine those men waiting in line thinking, "That fellow is a frugal and exemplary character that is careful with his coinage and to be commended for the careful stewardship he seems to display"? No! They are thinking, "What kind of a guy has a wallet with a big change purse, or alternatively capacious pockets in his trousers that are so misshapen with heavy coinage that everything is wrenched out of shape and his trousers sag". As a result of my hang-up I have, in the past, sequestered all my loose coinage over the years in Ziploc bags in my sock drawer, the basement work shelf, the photograph cupboard and sundry other places. That was an organizational start, as prior to the Ziplocs it was loose change in every nook and cranny in every room in the house. The pianist finally said " Deal with it or else!" so I spent two afternoons tubing my coins; pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in accurate tally to take to the bank. There were fifteen pounds of coins representing many years of loose and neurotic habit. Those coins have lost much value over the years with currency devaluation and I have no-one to blame except myself for my ill advised attempts to seem manly! I am going to recycle my pennies from now on, but I just need a bolt of courage.