Harry Bliss (AMS) lives about 20 miles south of me, which makes us neighbors, since he no doubt comes up here to the Big City (population 13,623) for anything more exotic than milk and bread.
We have, however, never met, which is much of the appeal of country living: Robert Frost wrote disapprovingly of good fences making good neighbors but he was a city transplant and nearly an hour and a half from here anyway.
I used to say that the ideal house was the second to the last on the road, and the last house was where the fellow who drives the town plow lives. I’ll admit however, that now that I’m no longer so spry, it’s nice to live in town near gas stations and grocery stores and doctors’ appointments.
But I still go to a place twice a day where I can walk the dog in the woods, and, like Bliss, I’m not out there to see candy bar wrappers, beer cans and plastic bags. It’s hardly the forest primeval, but it’s quiet and green and we often don’t run into anyone else, though the dog prefers when we see at least one of her pals out there.
There isn’t much litter, and what is there seems accidental: A tissue or something that fell from a pocket, rather than anything deliberately strewn.
Except that this past summer, some prideful knothead decided the trees and bushes and wildflowers were not nearly attractive enough and began placing painted rocks along the paths. I suppose it’s good that this gilder of lilies wasn’t enhancing the trees with spray paint, but, personally, if I needed to see that someone had been there, at least a discarded beer can wouldn’t touch off a debate over art vs. vandalism.
I’d prefer that the salamanders were left entirely unimproved by humankind.
Kudos to Kevin Siers for this cartoon, in part because of the pointed, crucial sentiment, but also because his parody of the song follows the original meter, a feat which far too few cartoonists seem able to match.
There once was a chap named McCann,
Whose poems would never quite scan.
When told it was so
He said, “Yes, I know,
But I always try to get as many words into the last line as I possibly can.
Back in the days of listservs, I had a spam filter set to delete any email containing the phrase “‘Twas the night before,” because nothing good ever, ever followed.
Facebook and Twitter don’t offer such easy anti-drivel remedies, so on the rare occasions someone cobbles together a good sentiment with a well-phrased parody, it makes me smile.
I’ll also salute Jeff Koterba today, for not joining the mob of cartoonists who are treating supply chain issues as if they were the end of the world.
There have been many memes on social media reminding people that local art is available, and I agree, but I’d add that holiday shopping is possible even if you’re not in the market for pottery and paintings, and that a lot of the empty shelves I see are because of a shortage not of product but of people to stock them.
Supply chain issues, rather, involve some very specific things: I had a minor fender-bender in July but the body shop couldn’t get the parts from Japan until October. That’s supply chain.
For most things, it’s more of an annoyance than a crisis, and, if you shop local(ly), you’ll be able to fill those stockings.
Though it’s been awhile since we had many local stores to shop at.
Candorville (AMS) brings up another sign of changing times, which is that few people carry cash anymore, and, while it doesn’t matter much to merchants, the lack of spare change has got to be hard on panhandlers.
There are backdoor ways to help: Our co-op has a “round up” program where you can round your grocery bill up to the next dollar, which goes to local charities. They raise something in six figures annually.
BTW, there’s a bogus meme I see from time to time that discourages donating at stores, saying that you’re simply giving the company a charity write-off. This is either stupid or a damn lie, but, either way, it’s not true.
Of course, if your chain supermarket is supporting a food bank at their corporate HQ, you might want to find a way to keep your donations local, but it can be done.
Doing nothing should not be an option.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Jonathan Lemon expresses some reservations about cultural references, and Dave Whamond offers a “hold my beer” response.
I agree with Lemon, and “The Birds” is a good example, since, while those of us alive when it came out remember it well, the special effects of that era certainly don’t hold up. I tried to show it on video to my boys in about 1986 and they were spectacularly unimpressed.
I’d say there aren’t many people under 50 who have even seen the movie, much less who found it frightening or even entertaining.
But Whamond’s cultural-literacy quiz not only spans a couple of decades but a variety of great and semi-obscure bands.
To end on the personal level with which we began, his reference to Bread brought back a bittersweet memory of a really terrific girl I was dating when I dropped out of college.
I really dug her, but I badly needed a complete reset, which couldn’t happen if I were looking into the rearview mirror.
So I left her with this Bread song:
She countered with Poco:
What a fabulous woman!
We reconnected 30 years later. She’d gone into nursing, then married an MD/DO and ended up going to Tibet and Africa to learn traditional medicines, and I was, by then, also in a great job that I really enjoyed.
I don’t know where we’d have ended up together, but we ended up in some pretty cool places apart, and, if you like where you’re at, you ought not to despise the road that got you there.
Still, it’s the near-misses that linger.