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Early this morning, as I lay in the port-swiller bed half way between sleep and wakefulness, my mind, which tends to flit even further hither and yon in such state than normal, found itself wondering what it would be like to have to jump through a closed window.  (There was reason for this, I suppose: We spent last evening with some friends, the male half of whom has become positively Get-Ready Man-like in his predictions of the imminent collapse of Civilization As We Know It, and who was urging vigorously the need for “a plan” when it all comes crashing down.  Even if he’s right, which I doubt, I find such defeatism to be tarsome.  On the other hand, it got me noodling, as I say, on the need to jump through a window, although I was thinking more in terms of quick evacuation in case of a sudden alarum of fire in the night than the destruction of the Commonwealth.)

Aaaaaaanyway, this afternoon I noticed that the top half of the window over the kitchen sink has slid down a couple inches, perhaps as a result of our recent earthquake here.  Not wanting this opening to become a conduit for the wasps and junebugs, I tried to slide it back up and latch it.  The thing refusing to budge, I hoisted myself up on my knees on the countertop, spread my hands flat and aimed a shrewd upward blow at the top wooden crosspiece.

Well, perhaps because it was an unusual angle, or perhaps because I was talking over my shoulder to the eldest gel at the same time, my right hand did not strike the wood frame smartly as planned, but went right through the glass.  And I am ashamed to say that in my astonishment I uttered a very un-Robbo like interjection.

Well, I got back down and had a look at the damage.  Four or five moderately deep cuts in the heal of my palm.  However, I calmly ran my hand under the cold water for a while and then clapped some wet paper towel over it.  The bloodflow stopped fairly soon, I am now band-aided and I am quite sure that no stitches will be required.

If nothing else, I think this little episode has probably put the eldest gel off med school permanently.  But it got me wondering:  Is Robbo perhaps a budding prophet?  Or is he just a doofus?

(And of course, even as his hand was smashing the glass, Robbo was aware that a tiny part of his mind was already shaping a blog post about it.)

Now here’s a green cause behind which ol’ Robbo is quite willing to get:

It used to be unthinkable to start a dinner party without a satisfying ‘pop’ of the cork.

But the popularity of ‘New World’ wines from Australia or America and the convenience of opening a picnic bottle without a corkscrew led to a rise in the popularity of screw caps.

Now cork suppliers and environmentalists are fighting back claiming the move is threatening the two million hectares of forest across Portugal, Spain, North Africa and Italy which are sustained through industry management.

The area includes the Montada forest which is considered one of the ‘biodiversity hot spots’ of the world where some of the world’s most endangered animals live including the Iberian lynx.

In just 0.1 hectare of forest there can be more than 100 certified species.

Rui Simoes, a representative of Rainforest Alliance, said “It is not just about cork it is about a rich community of plants and animals that all rely on one another.”

Environmentalists fear that if farmers cannot make money from cork they will replant with non-native eucalyptus trees.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has estimated that up to three quarters of the Mediterranean’s cork forests could be lost within 10 years if the trend for plastic stoppers and screw tops continues.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have also urged consumers to support the cork forests in order to sustain the huge bird population.

Horibile dictu, I must confess that for some time now we’ve actually been drinking box wine on ordinary evenings at the port-swiller residence.  And while this has saved us a respectable wodge of dosh, it is evendent that we owe it to Mother Gaia to step back up to something with a cork in it.

And since the enviro-weenies are here pushing a cause Robbo supports, he will only gently point out that the benefits of cork forests “sustained through industry management” are virtually identical to the benefits of slash-pine forests also “sustained through industry management,” which is why Robbo has always thought paper recycling to be a horse’s assed foolish  less than beneficial proposition based primarily on self-righteous sentimentality and not really on any sound cost-benefit analysis. 

Mrs. Robbo spent this past week finishing up a graduate course at Johns-Hopkins.  This necessitated leaving the gels with a sitter during the day, a young woman whose main job is as an assistant at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, and who also happens to be a member of ol’ Robbo’s parish.

The young woman, who is especially fond of the eight year old gel, gave her as a present one of those plastic children’s rosaries.  The gel was as pleased as punch and solemnly vowed to me that she would never, ever take it off, or at least wouldn’t until she got another one when she grew up.

Only trouble is that she keeps calling it a “rosemary”.

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.  It is the democracy of the dead.  Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

(The matter of tradition came up in conversation and I couldn’t quite get the quote correct.  I post it here simply by way of refreshing my memory.)

By now you’ve probably heard that the Dee Cee area got struck by a 3.6 magnitude earthquake this morning?

The thing woke me up at around 5:00 a.m.  The windows were all rattling and there was a kind of ambient rumbling all around.  In fact, my first reaction was to think it was an earthquake.  But then I got thinking that it couldn’t be, and that it must have been a low-flying military jet on afterburners, or some other such explanation.   Having thus pigeon-holed the phenomenon, I rolled over and went back to sleep, congratulating myself on not having awoken Mrs. R with foolish babblings. 

I’m told that there was a small aftershock a bit later, but I evidently slept right through it.

So that was an earthquake, that was.  My very first one.  Fortunately, it was small enough to be a mere curiosity, rayther than any kind of ordeal.

I must say that Matt Labash continues to move up in the ranks of my favorite writers on the the follies of the age, filling the place previously occupied by Peej O’Rourke who, alas, has come down since his glory days.  Here is the opening of Matt’s  latest essay:

This is a story about living the good life. Or not the good life, exactly, in the Italian, dolce vita understanding of the term. It’s more about living the better life, a comparative way of living. It’s about living better than I was before, living better than I once thought possible, living better, if you’ll forgive my candor, than do you.

Here, I use “you” to loosely mean “conservative” or even “disengaged liberal.” For living better than you is all about honesty. Honesty with you. Honesty with myself. So I’ll just level with the two of us: I used to be a conservative. I mean, I wasn’t some nutcake conservative. I didn’t follow along with Glenn Beck at home, flowcharting the lineage of Lenin to Van Jones on my kids’ Fisher-Price chalkboard. I didn’t attend Rand Paul rallies in a tricorn and a frilly blouse like some kind of colonial crossdresser. I was just a vanilla, middle-of-the-road conservative. As long as I remained undertaxed, overdefended, and unaborted, I was pretty content. Live and let live, I thought. I might have even made a good Libertarian, except I hate science fiction, think Ayn Rand was a crank with an unfortunate haircut, and would fail the house drug test (when my results came back negative).

Heh.  Read the rest.

A conversation:

8 Year Old Gel: Give me two good reasons why I can’t go to the pool party tonight!

Self: Certainly.  First, because I’m your father.  Second, because I said so.

Can I be honest? I get a kick out of this whole paterfamilias thing sometimes.

Note that not only is friend elephant launching the monitor into the stratosphere, he she appears to be thoroughly enjoying himself herself doing it.  The lizard? Probably not so much.

Years ago I remember watching some nature special on PBS featuring a herd of elephants coming into a watering hole.  One of them begins to step on a turtle loitering about the place, apparently realizes what he’s doing, and moves his foot away, whereupon James Earl Jones intones, “How about that?”

Evidently that elephant knew it was on film.

UPDATE: Here’s a little more of the story.  The elephant’s name is Madhuri, and apparently she’s quite the pro at the lizard toss.

Following up on my post yesterday about Mother Carey’s chickens, how about some poetry about Mother Carey herself?

Mother Carey (As Told Me By The Bo’sun)

Mother Carey? She’s the mother o’ the witches
‘N’ all
sort o’ rips;
She’s a fine gell to look at, but the hitch is,
She’s a sight too fond of ships;
She lives upon an iceberg to the norred,
‘N’ her man he’s Davy Jones,
‘N’ she combs the weeds upon her forred
With pore drowned sailors’ bones.

She’s the mother o’ the wrecks, ‘n’ the mother
Of all big winds as blows;
She’s up to some deviltry or other
When it storms, or sleets, or snows;
The noise of the wind’s her screamin’,
‘I’m arter a plump, young, fine,
Brass-buttoned, beefy-ribbed young seam’n
So as me ‘n’ my mate kin dine.’

She’s a hungry old rip ‘n’ a cruel
For sailor-men like we,
She’s give a many mariners the gruel
‘N’ a long sleep under sea;
She’s the blood o’ many a crew upon her
‘N’ the bones of many a wreck,
‘N’ she’s barnacles a-growin’ on her
‘N’ shark’s teeth round her neck.

I ain’t never had no schoolin’
Nor read no books like you,
But I knows ‘t ain’t healthy to be foolin’
With that there gristly two;
You’re young, you thinks, ‘n’ you’re lairy,
But if you’re to make old bones,
Steer clear, I says, o’ Mother Carey,
‘N’ that there Davy Jones.

John Masefield


Sorry, but although I find many aspects of France and the French admirable, I simply cannot count her political evolutions among them.

UPDATE: Gerald Warner puts it better.  A sample:

There are two countries called France. One is the sluttish Republic—“Marianne”—the other is the timeless, civilised doyen of Christendom, the nation of Clovis and St Louis, of the Valois and Bourbon kings, the Catholic and monarchic civilisation that fell with Charles X in 1830 but still defiantly survives in many enclaves. That pulse will beat quietly today while the heirs of the sans-culottes strut their stuff, proclaiming French nationalism under the figurehead of a Hungarian president and his Italian wife.

Read the rest, as they like to say.

A glass of wine with Christine.


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July 2010