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June 12/24 Racoon attack

The beasts knocked over a can of pant and went dancing all over my NEW RUG and the newly finished floor on which that Rick Miller did such a beautiful job!!

But it was because Girl Dog wasn’t here. Even if she could barely walk or see she would still start after them — her nose told her where they were.

So Girl Dog has gone over the rainbow bridge as they say, she was nearly blind, almost wholly deaf and could barely walk. Also had lost control of bodily functions. I miss her very much. Every time I hear thunder I think, ‘she’ll be scared, have to get her inside’ or some particularly nice bit of leftovers, ‘she’ll love this’…

She was a great companion. Very quiet, not demonstrative, but simply and quietly at my heels every day. She was a rescue so I don’t know how old she was. My friend Evelyn O’Hara asked me to take her and I did and we have had many adventures over the years. . So I buried her with a penny to pay the ferryman. I had thought I was completely out of change, having given it all to the kid’s collection at church but just on a chance I looked into the change container and there in the middle of the bottom all by itself was a bright new penny. So she was meant to have it.

July 9/24 Beryl has passed us by.

All we got out of it was half an inch of rain, just now. And much cooler temperatures. Friend Evelyn O’Hara was with her dad in Texas City and texted us (us other three who ride together, named The Saddle Sisters by June)high winds and no electricity but it was only for about 24 hours — I think. I’ll hear ore shortly on the text thread.

I don’t have any social media and they are all on Facebook so they sometimes forget I haven’t heard the latest but they always catch me up later.

Letter from Elvia, Coatepec, Jalapa State, Mexico

That’s Elvia in the middle, at a birthday party for the friend on the left, in Coatepec; (Veracruz State, Mexico)

Hi Linda…we hope the (cortisone injections for hip) is enough and you are able to be without pain. No doubt that old age is really aggressive, we have to bear with white hair, griefs, pains, deafness, foolishness, stubbornness and wrinkles, jajaja. But we are a little more wise at least.

Well I am still enjoying my colorful trip (to Uzbekistan). I learned a lot and I am still reading, thousands of details from such cities. …I knew Khiva was a commercial place where you could buy horses, camels, slaves then caravans during the XIV and XV centuries…it was very exciting to walk the old paths…Samarcanda was the place I liked the most…

We (Elvia and niece Mariana) walked everywhere and could “talk” to people thanks to the translator application at the telephone, sometimes in English and Oh!! Surprise!! we met students that wanted to practice their Spanish because they are taking Spanish classes at the university. Everyone was very nice, very kind…There are a lot of tourists, French, Russians, Germans and Italians…I didn’t met any American and no one Mexican, only Mariana and Elvia jaja. You see Spanish people with their cell phone in hand every corner…

Around here we had a long drought too for almost two months. We had fires close to Cosautlan at the forest between Veracruz andPuebla states. The inhabitants asked for help and the government sent helicopters, firefighters, etc. Coatepec, Xalapa and Xico population organize a food and water collection to help people who live over there. Besides serums for workers. Fortunately we had a big rain last Saturday…we are happy again with water coming from heaven. It’s a long letter sorry about it, but many things to say…

Elvia is from the large and quite marvelous Contreras family and taught for thirty years in the Mexican government school system in Coatepec, attends a tertulia concerning Latin Ameican Literature and is a great traveler. Take note; she asked me if I knew anyone who needed a nanny/tutor for a year as she wants to improve her English. My friends know how to get hold of me. Her English is far better, at this point, than my Spanish. Am ordering a facing page translation edition of the collected poems of Antonio Machado, my much-beloved favorite, so am forging on.

July 7/24

Random thoughts

I don’t know why — or when — the massive migrant populations in the western countries don’t simply dump the ‘left’ and form their own political parties and take over themselves. Why mediate your political presence through an almost completely European urban upper-class ‘left’? There are enough legal and illegal migrants to form political organizations themselves. They could simply vote themselves into power and award themselves whatever perks they like. They could form a majority in the parliamentary systems and rule the country. This would depend on nationalities, I suppose, but there must be illegal immigrants who are expert organizers and are probably organizing toward this end already. I mean, it only makes sense. I know I am not the first person to think of this.

I think this is going to happen sooner or later.

We were expecting rain from Hurricane Beryl but nothing.

I got a marvelous and funny letter from Elvia, I asked her if she mineded if I quoted her so will put that together for tomorrow.

One of Jeff’s calendar pictures, most amazing. A seascape with rope.

A Treehouse Party July 1

(It was June 15th) — A birthday party for June and Evelyn. We had a table reserved for us at the Laurel Tree but when we got there Laurel gave us the treehouse!! Somebody had cancelled and so she said it was a gift for Evelyn and June for their birthday. It is truly beautiful and usually booked months ahead of time. Thank you Laurel!

Me, Evelyn, June, Jan and I don’t have a picture of Rebecca but one of these days I will..

This is Jan, and it was good to see horsewomen and the cantata singers together. Jan is a soprano.

Evelyn and June. A great gathering!

June 14/2024

Working on my far-in-some-undefined-time-in-the-future book, wherein the population has declined by about 85%, and villages are full of coping folk and a race of hominids with edgy mohawk hairdos and psychic ambitions lurk about generating mayhem. Those suspected of suffering from the wasting disease are triaged out to the woods to expire in their own good time. But otherwise life is good! There is whiskey, bread, singing unenhanced and no radio contact with anybody. The world is full of bogles; LLorona crying for her lost children, Beulah Queen of the Night, Gentleman Jack, and the dancing holograms.

So have been reading other far-future after-the-collapse works, to see what others’ imaginations have generated and so re-read Riddley Walker. First published in 1980.

It’s still as engaging as when I read it twenty years ago in the sense that it initially captures one’s attention, this strange world and its future-English dialect, if you ignore some glaring implausibilities. And it is one of the few works of the imagination which takes place in a rural world. And it is written from the point of view of one of the rural characters. It seems like every contemporary novel, no matter the genre, places its characters in an urban, affluent setting — managerial, with cool clothes and socially competitive companions. There’s an industrial-level production of these novels.

But alas, we stop believing in this far-future world because the main character loses his energy, which is what carried one past the totally improbable stuff in the first place. He goes into an unfueled drift. And, oddly, so does everybody else. By the end you’re saying , ‘No, nope, uh-uh.’

The characters seem to be urban proles rather than rural, more on the order of Clockwork Orange. Not Iron-Age villagers. These are people from a city street culture. They just don’t behave in tribal or village ways. Riddley is 12 years old, sees his father killed in an accident and upon his return to the tribal center/home/fortress thingie he has sex with an old woman, the mystic lady, mistress of witcheries, and then they lay around and get high. On something like hash. Never thinks much about his just-killed dead father. You have to remember he was 12 years old. She sounds like she was about 60. Okay.

The people all have two-syllable names that sound ‘village-y’ or ‘working-class’ and it gets repetitive. CHAL-ker MARCH-man and SKY-way MOAT-ers and STRAIT-er EM-py and LEAST-er DIG-man and on and on. There are no strong, intelligent men, almost no women at all, and nobody ever succeeds at anything — all is dismal, all is failure. This is a literary style or sort of fashion that has grown old and stale but it seems writers can’t find their way out of it, or what the fashion alternative might be.

It seems in this far-distant future, all people want is the wonderful consumer objects that the old people had. Mainly electronics. ‘Pictures on the wind’.

Then, the author makes the common and mistaken assumption that the simpler the society, the simpler the language. So this ‘English’ is very broken and unvaried, bald, dull. But all languages that are pre-literate, pre-bookish, pre-alphabet are incredibly complex. The Australian aborigines, who led one of the world’s simplest life-styles, have/had one of the world’s most complex languages. In the two thousand years without reading matter (or radio/tv) English would have changed into something very elaborate. I know this out of my attempts to learn Ojibway, which has not been literate long enough to change the original linguistic structure.

The literate languages Spanish and French were far and away easier for me to learn. Also, English would have changed, in two thousand years, to something unrecognizable anyway. Think of what English was like two thousand years in the past. There wasn’t any English. Maybe Common Germanic.

But that is all nit-picking I suppose, and I remain with the attitudes, relationships, motivations etc. of the supposedly tribal characters in the story and not only with this work but many sci-fi/fantasy far-future novels. The people all appear culturally very urban. There is the matter of the extended family —- they don’t seem to have any. No aunts uncles or cousins. In a group as small as Riddley’s, one would have been related to everybody, including Lorna the mystic tell-woman. That’s why there is this thing called exogamy.

So many villages in this novel seem to be named after private parts. There’s Horny Boy and Bernt Arse and Monkey’s Hoar Town and Bollock Stoans and Nelly’s Bum river.

But the really off-putting thing is, as in most modern literary novels, the protagonist begins to malfunction about two-thirds of the way through. They lose all forward motion. They adhere to whoever passes by as a means of psychological locomotion.

The best character is the ephemeral Stag in the Hart of the Wud. But he only gets a few lines. His curling horns are like the Deer Stones of the Cimmerians, joyful and exultant.

June 6/24 D Day

Everybody has been having adventures except me, but have to start off this post with a WW2 photo because it’s D Day.

A landing craft listing enormously to starboard and as you can see all the men have been told to stand at the port rail. I bet there were a lot of seasick guys on that boat.

Elvia and Mariana have got home from Uzbekistan, I was astonished that Samarcand has become a comfortable tourist destination! Elvia send a great many pictures of the architecture. Here are a few.

Here is, first of all, the amazing subway in Tashkent.

Bread in the market in Tashkent

This beautiful work of art is the mausoleum of one of Timerlane’s soldiers, in the necropolis of Shaji Zenda in Samarcand

Elvia and her niece Mariana enjoying the good life in Samarcand. Usually one thinks of remote caravanserai and blowing sand and bandits and runaway camels and depleted water-bags and running out of ammunition and struggling toward the next oasis but no! We live in 2024 now and romantic adventures are a great deal safer.

This tilework is astounding. There is another picture with goldwork and I’ll try to find it next post. they are home now in time for the election in Mexico, Elvia worked at a voting post in her old school where she taught for so many years, helping voters.

And now here’s Seamus, son of Woody and Jeff of Lighthouse Island, who is crewing on the Zulu, a 42-footer, on the Juan de Fuca race, (Juan de Fuca strait around the bottom of Vancouver Island) Woody is doing appearances for her children’s books and I’m waiting to hear how the Zulu did. He’s in the red crew suit.

rough seas!

I am staying inactive as much as possible until I see a specialist in sciatic nerve stuff, and anyway we’re in yet another grim, dry, overheated drought, yet again I am putting old dog in the guest room all day with the air conditioning, old horse down in front corral with the mister — all this a repeat of last year. Never mind, I am progressing on the post-apocalypse book, doing well with it, it’s fun, I like my two characters. Doesn’t matter the genre if you have characters that are up to no good, or some good, and are happy about it, until they become unhappy, then do things to happy themselves in the ruins of a proto-civilizational rearrangement.

This is one of Jakob Rozalski’s paintings, I don’t know anything about him but he does the most bizarre stuff.

I’ve re-read a bio of George Orwell and then re-read Riddley Walker which I disliked much more than I did the first time I read it. More on that later.,

The Zulu won their race! More photos from the ship and crew. That’s Seamus in the red, up in the bow changing sails and with the victorious crew. He looks more and more like his mother, my friend Caroline Woodward-George, as he gets older.

Bukhara May 24/24

Elvia and Mariana (Elvia’s niece) have journeyed to Uzbekistan and are sending the most amazing pictures. Mariana and my granddaughter Faith are close to the same age and have been friends since they were very young, so I know they’ve been on the phone together sharing this journey.

Some years ago I read The Road To Oxiana by Robert Byron (distant relative of Lord B.) written in the Thirties, it is a most absorbing book. All black-and-white pictures of course and now Elvia is sending photos and I can see the remarkable colors of the mosaic and tile work on the mosques.

Those columns are just amazing.

May 21/2024

It’s now been almost a month since the dedication of the new, improved town square, where Debora Westmoreland, Diane Causey-Brice, Tommy Brice and many other were recognized, congratulated and cheered. I have been remiss in taking pictures and getting names but hope to catch up. It’s been increasingly difficult for me to sit at the computer, for which debility I am going in for an MRI on my hip a week from tomorrow. I just have so much time at the computer that I can endure but am hoping this will change. At any rate, it was a cheerful and lovely celebration, and hearing about the man-hours of volunter labor it took to haul in soil, repair the gazebo, construct the serenity garden, plant trees, etc. was amazing.

This was all done by volunteer labor and mostly locally raised money.

Think of the work — it needed people to haul soil, people who knew how to lay stone, replace the cupola roof, so many skills and tools.

The best part was the photos of old Utopia in the community center. Photos from 1948. How different it was then. How people hoped it would stay, if not the same, would retain its origins and cohesion.

Our music group played and Tom was loaned the old Stainer fiddle from the museum, which used to belong to the man who was the barber as well as the music teacher at the school. Tom was so happy to be playing it, he says it’s an first-rate fiddle and very old.

I hope to have more pictures and names for this post in a few days.

For the life of me I couldn’t get my own reflection out of the glass, we even took it off the wall and went wandering around trying to get out of the light but at any rate there is Utopia 1948.

And butterflies are back. This is the remarkable design on the back of a Monarch’s wings. I think it was a Monarch. At any rate, there were two different designs on the wings, back and front.

My friend Elvia from Coatepec has gone for a trip to Uzbekistan with Mariana, and has recently sent me some poems by Leon Felipe, which I am trying to translate along with working on the futuristic fantasy, sitting here with an ice pack on my hip.

Okay this is not a monarch. But here’s one like it with the reverse wing pattern.

April 24/23

“The human heart is a cave of winds…”

Jona the Mariner of Belvedere Street

And here is a quote from John Cheever;

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos (no less) and we can accomplish this only by the most vigilant exercise of choice, but in a world that changes more swiftly than we can perceive there is always the danger that our powers of selection will be mistaken and that the vision we serve will come to nothing. We admire decency and we despise death but even the mountains seem to shift in the space of a night…”

From ‘The death of Justina’.

The current internet culture is marked by loss of feeling. Mind I say ‘culture’ and not individuals.

I was recently at a wedding, the neighbor’s lovely daughter Calsey Kay and her groom Bodie Furry. Yes I know a strange last name but I assume it comes from ‘furrier’. Beautiful wedding, happy bride and groom. It was at an event venue near Fredericksburg and I was following Evelyn and Pat O’Hara my neighbors and their GPS put is in the middle of a pasture, from which we had to turn around and start again! A cold front blew in and it dropped ten degrees in an hour. Bridesmaids were all freezing in skimpy dresses, the groomsmen were luckier in tuxes but they got hitched!

April 9/24

Here are horses with proper eclipse-watching eye protection.

And here is a shot from a game camera near Kerrville — a mountain lion near Kerrville!! Can’t verify where exactly it is and have no name of the rancher who got the shot, but it does indeed look like the Kerrville area, around Telegraph maybe.