Et Tu Camera Girl?

The woman to whom I am married, the mother of my children and the one who serves me splendiferous food every day is not a conservative.  By this I don’t imply that she is a progressive.  Far from it.  She’s a traditionalist who saw her career as raising children, grandchildren and various creatures like dogs, birds, hamsters, lizards, turtles, frogs and hermit crabs.  But she knows nothing of politics and doesn’t want to.  She also refuses to vote.  Ever.

She claims to be an Italian American peasant woman and nothing else.  And after years of trying to explain to her why the country is going to hell in a handbasket and failing to interest her in any of it, I gave up.  Other than uttering expletives about Biden and company in her presence I’ve let things be.

So, I was caught off guard today when she asked me, “What is woke?”

I was sort of dumbfounded, for a minute I was speechless.  But then I took the opportunity to capitalize on South Park’s handy-dandy formulation.  I said, “You know how recently Disney decided to remake “Snow White” with a Snow White that isn’t White?  That’s what woke is.”  I then explained what diversity, equity and inclusion means and summed it up as basically anti-white hate.  I told her the theory is that because of past injustices we can’t treat people all the same but must discriminate against white people.  And just because I love listening to it I, I played her the video of Cartman endlessly saying, “Put a chick in it and make her gay and lame.”

And afterward she said she understood.  I started to expand on how things like Drag Queen Story Hour and pediatric transgender affirming surgery were also the fruits of “woke” but at that point she had heard enough and moved on to other activities that were more pressing to her like getting the dogs out for some exercise.

So, I reflected on this strange situation.  Had the revolt against wokeness reached such a dominant place in American life that even an apolitical soul like Camera Girl had been exposed to it in her daily on-line routine which mostly revolved around basset hound and cooking videos?  I had to assume it was the case.  And now the outrage over the obvious idiocy of the policies being applied was no longer stoppable.  Powerful companies like Disney were being mocked openly and regular people were aware of the worthlessness of these policies.  Even the staunch defenders of the woke ideology have a hard time defending some of the transparently awful results.

Maybe we have finally reached the tipping point.  I thought the straw that broke the camel’s back would be the pediatric transgender clinics.  I assumed anything that dystopian and monstrous would wake up the masses and have them grab the torches and pitchforks and storm the barricades.  But if South Park and the race swapping of Jake from State Farm have to be the trigger then I say why not?  Is it any stranger than the Boston Tea Party?  Give me liberty or give me death or maybe put a chick in it and make her gay and lame.

Wise Penelope

Περίφρων Πηνελόπεια – Wise Penelope

Can you read wisdom in that gaze?  I’m not sure.  But Penelope she is.  Or Penny for short.  And her mistress, Camera Girl. possesses the virtues of Odysseus’s celebrated wife in abundance; patience, cleverness and faithfulness.  So Penny it shall be.

Is that the face that launched a thousand ships?  Well no.  But maybe a thousand smiles.

Political Theater, Hounds and Late Summer

So, I watched Tucker’s interview.  I didn’t watch the debate.  This morning I’ve seen a few clips.  My first reaction is that Fox News is essentially MSNBC with slightly less crazy, slightly less homely teleprompter readers.  My second reaction is that Chris Christie and Nikki Haley must be competing to be Joe Biden’s running mate.  Past that I don’t think it matters.

We’re in a lot of trouble.

I guess I already knew that but watching these things drives the point home.  It’s quite disturbing.  I guess the cavalry won’t be coming over the hill with bugles blaring and sabers flashing.  We’re on our own.

Alright, snap out of it!  Nobody wants to read stuff like that.

On the upside we had three sunny warm days in a row.  That brought out some butterflies and other large insects.  Very good for some microphotographic opportunities.  Even with the grandkids here I’ve been able to steal away to get some time with the camera and macro lens.  Next week the kids start school and Camera Girl will be sad.  But she has much to look forward to.  She has relented in her determination to get me to buy her a giant rabbit, specifically a Flemish Giant.  Other than as a source of food, rabbits don’t really seem to serve any purpose, to my mind.  But Camera Girl has been campaigning for one for several months.  After many attempts to dissuade her, I eventually capitulated to this demand.

But once it sunk in that Princess Sack of Potatoes was really starting kindergarten and she wouldn’t have anything to mother, Camera Girl knew a rabbit wouldn’t suffice.  So, she switched gears and demanded a puppy.  And I gave up without a fight.  Because a puppy in the house is infinitely better than a rabbit in the yard when it’s 10 οF outside and the rabbit needs liquid water.  Or a hundred other things that need to be done for the rabbit outside when I’d rather be inside.

So, yeah, sure.  A puppy will be joining the menagerie sometime later this year.  Not that it’s a wholly good thing.  Camera Girl is absolutely the worst dog trainer in the history of man’s association with these canine freeloaders.  Whereas with her children and grandchildren she is a loving but stern disciplinarian, with her dogs she’s useless.  They walk all over her and lack even the rudiments of obedience.  It’s pathetic and annoying.

I’ve toyed with the idea of taking over the dog training job for this new recruit.  After all, as paterfamilias it is my right and responsibility to hand down rough justice to my vassals.  And at this point, vassal-wise, this dog may be the end of the line for me.  So, the logic of it is there.  At the same time, Camera Girl will be working behind the scenes undercutting my authority and spoiling the dog behind my back every chance she gets.  Obviously, the choice is fraught with peril.  I must choose carefully.  Perhaps I will consult Marcus Aurelius or possibly Aristotle.  Homer Simpson or Al Bundy?  We’ll see.

So, this last full week before school is moving along, powered by LEGO blocks, old Disney movies, Camera girl’s short order cooking and my manly grit, determination and panache.  We will persevere and by next Thursday quiet and order will descend on the Compound and a new era of productivity will reign on the site.  Excelsior!

Camera Girl and the Welfare State

Like all women, Camera Girl believes in socialism.  Her bird feeders and scrap piles are an attractant to all the lazy and discontented riff raff that skulk at the borders of the Compound.  Of late it has gotten completely out of hand.  At six o’clock in the morning a murder of crows begins screaming at the top of their lungs for their scraps of chicken and bread crumbs.  At seven a voracious gaggle of turkeys descends on us to pick away at every seed that has fallen from the feeders.

This aggravates the crows to even more lunatic levels of cacophony.  Over the course of the last few weeks the hatchling turkeys have become noticeably larger and stupider.  They no longer startle when the crows approach them.  Even the chipmunks and squirrels have become mere background noise in this ocean of free-loading loafers.

Of course, reality does set in from time to time.  Perched above this scrum of bottom feeders, are the original occupants of Camera Girl’s colony; the cardinals, sparrows, finches mourning doves, grackles and blue jays.  They remain above the fray plucking seeds from the feeders and like aristocrats raining down mockery and droppings on the rabble below.  But from their elevated position they are a perfect target for the local hawk.  Probably once a week I’ll notice a patch of dull feathers on the ground where a mourning dove has been hit by one of these high-flying marauders.  When I’ve witnessed one of these attacks, I’m always intrigued to see the hawk plucking feathers from his victim.  I guess he knows his business but it seems a fussy habit for something so violent as this assault from the sky.

But even this murderous object lesson does little to discourage the dysfunctional mob that mills around outside Camera Girl’s kitchen window.  Of late a rabbit has begun joining this motley crew.  What’s next?  Will the local foxes, bobcats and coyotes join their erstwhile prey around the communal slop pile?  Will finally the black bear family show up and take up residence in this incipient Hooverville?

She loves these useless camp followers.  She even names them.  The largest and loudest of the crows is Moe.  The male turkey is, of course, Tom.  The rabbit, or rabbits, (they all look alike to me) is Bun-Bun.  I’m sure there are other cutesy names but these are the ones I hear the most.

I look on with murderous intent but I stay my hand.  My hope is that nature will take its toll eventually.  Based on logic and their general physical appearance, I’d say that heart attacks will be the primary weapon of the grim reaper.  But right behind that will be Darwinian selection.  I can’t imagine these gobblers outracing a fox or coyote in the confines of the forest primeval.  In fact, I saw a sample of what is to come.  On Sunday afternoon, Camera Girl and I were walking around the yard when we startled an adult turkey from its feeding.  It attempted to fly into the woods, but crashed into a pine tree branch and barely avoided tumbling fifty feet or so to the ground below because of a fortunately located branch beneath this embarrassing collision.  These creatures are morbidly obese and a reckoning will occur.

Well maybe, in a sense, even this imbalance is a natural pattern.  The high energy density of the fossil fuel era has even altered the equation for animals that live at the boundary between the human and the so-called natural environment.  Watching a game camera last year, I noted that when Camera Girl used to leave her scraps at dusk it attracted opossums and racoons and eventually the racoons became so obese that they noticeably waddled around on the video.  This led me to demand that she only feed the animals in the morning so that the crows would be the recipients and so spare the racoons from atherosclerosis.  But all I’ve done is transfer the disease from the mammals to the birds.

Recently I’ve had the realization that I am the final link in this ecological free lunch.  Camera Girl has been fattening me for the fall all along too.  Her delicious cooking has kept me lazy and contented throughout the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump years.  Only the horror of the Biden regime has been able to snap me out of my stupor.  I resemble those crows and turkeys milling around squawking and accomplishing nothing useful.  The bread and circuses of the American empire have kept us all in thrall to the free lunch that’s been spread for us.  But the price of the free lunch just got a lot higher.  Maybe that’s a good thing.

13APR2023 – OCF Update – Out and About

I had to leave the outskirts of Dunwich today early and only got back in the early afternoon.  Things were going well when I got a call from Camera Girl stating that her old Toyota Corolla refused to bring her home and she needed a lift home and AAA to send a tow truck (or as the locals call it a “wrecker”).

Well, what can you do?  When it rains it pours and so instead of getting down to writing I had to get Camera Girl home and supervise the overhauling of her stalled chariot.  So here it is after 4pm and I haven’t got a sentence of creative writing to call my own.  Just this sad story about a sad story.

But there was a bit of human interest even in this prosaic event.  When the tow truck showed up the driver was a little laconic for Camera Girl’s liking.  Apparently, she belongs to the “customer’s always right” school of automotive services.  And during our ride home she railed against the young fellow and demanded that he shouldn’t get a tip.

I reminded her that today it was 83 degrees out there and a tow truck guy by the end of the day is pretty tired and on a hot day probably a little irritable.  And not everyone is super chatty and chirpy at their work.  And sure enough, after the fellow performed all his work and delivered the car expertly and without incident, I handed him the tip and he thanked me profusely and shook my hand vigorously.  And he said getting a tip was a big deal for him.  What do these women know of the real world that men live in?  Nothing!

So even though the day is consumed and I have no output of any kind, save for this slender reed of a story.  I am unperturbed.  My morning’s expedition was a rousing success.  The outcome of this mission was the best possible one and now Camera Girl and I will celebrate with forbidden foods.  Pasta and sausage and meatballs and garlic bread will be consumed and afterward there will be Italian cheesecake and ice cream.  So, there will be great rejoicing at the Compound and the peasants will rejoice.  Huzzah!

Later on, I will catch up on my photos and quotes and songs for the day and read some of the news of the day.  Apparently artificial intelligence is on everybody’s mind right now.  Honestly, I’m hoping that at some point natural intelligence will resurface on this planet.  We’re being led to Armageddon by morons.  It’s morons leading morons as far as the eye can see.  Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsome and on and on and on.

At what point will any of these people be held accountable for the horrendous train wreck they’ve made of this country?  Does this go on until we’re starving and freezing in the streets?

The only solace I can take is that for a huge number of people all of this is common knowledge.  None of them hold Joe Biden in high esteem.  If the next time he falls down the steps of Air Force One he manages to kill himself no one will shed a single tear.  In fact, there will be hilarity and mockery for months.  Of course, the joke will be on us because then Cackling Harris would be the Commander in Chief and that would definitely end in a nuclear holocaust.

Well, I’m digressing away from the point.  Tonight, is a night of celebration.  No more talk of Biden or auto repair bills or anything depressing.  So, I’ll try to catch up on things tonight and tomorrow but this is just how things sometimes go.

Dead Pile and the Angry Polar Bear

Today was a busy day.  Princess Sack of Potatoes wanted to play Dead Pile, and later on, The Angry Polar Bear.  The latter is a very taxing business where I chase her around the house growling and trying to carry her away to the “Ice Flow of Death.”  All that growling takes its toll on my larynx and the dogs go nuts trying to defend her from this seemingly homicidal activity of mine.  But one does what must be done.

As you can tell by the descriptions, death has become a part of her imagination.  Of course, all those who end up in the dead pile are the bad animals, never the good ones.  And the Ice Flow of Death has only ever been fatal for the polar bear and even then, he always seems to be brought back for an encore.  It’s funny how little kids imagine things for which they have very little experience.  Other than a hermit crab, her little world has been untouched by death.  At least as far as she is aware.  She’ll be spared knowledge of actual deaths that have occurred while she was too young to even understand the concept.

Of late Camera Girl has introduced the concept of dog heaven to cover the eventuality of what to tell her when our older dog does die.  And she is very curious about it, “Will Kaylee have anyone to play with?  Will she get her favorite treats?”  All these were manageable reactions.  But then she asked about herself going to heaven.  That was a bridge too far.  We assured her that she wouldn’t be going anywhere for a long, long, long time and she should stop thinking such things.

And that passed.  Now we’re back to the cheerful mayhem of dead pile where bad velociraptor and evil giraffe get their comeuppance but never is heard a discouraging word.  She has introduced some innovations that may be a form of humane treatment or possibly just safety precautions.  Now before any of the bad animals are hurled onto the dead pile, they are first “put to sleep.”  This sounds suspiciously like pet euthanasia.  I hesitate to ask where she got this idea.  Maybe one of her friends had a dog or cat that had to be “put to sleep.”  But we’ll let it slide for now.  Dead pile has been wildly popular but I think the first waning has begun.

And just in time.  It’s rather repetitive.  And it’s time for the princess to begin to read.  We’ll start with the ats (at, bat, cat, fat, skip gat, hat, mat, gnat, pat, sat, forget tat and finish with vat).  And then we’ll do a few more families and it’ll be on to Dr. Seuss.  We’ve got to hurry because before you know it it’ll be September and she’ll be off to kindergarten.  And then she’ll be too old for The Angry Polar Bear and too sophisticated for her old pastimes.

Well, that’s the way it should be.  Her world is opening up.  School and friends and all the joys and sorrows of childhood.  And I have to wonder if she’ll remember all our games and play.  She is a very intelligent child.  Maybe her memories will last.  I hope so.  I feel that my existence is bound up in the memories of those who are close to me.  My children and grandchildren will be the extension of my impact on this world, just as I passed on the existence of my parents and grandparents to them.

It’s a great privilege to get to interact with your descendants.  You can see their traits and sometimes recognize yours and your spouse’s.  You can tell them stories and things about themselves and about their parents and you can share things that you enjoyed when you were young.  Yes, it’s a rare treat.  It’s the payoff for all the hard work you did raising your own kids.

Well, it was a good day.  Busy but good.

photog Opines on Valentine’s Day

Every happily married man has to have an opinion on Valentine’s Day.  And being in that category (most of the time!) my opinion is well known to Camera Girl.  Being a very wise woman, she pretends that Valentine’s Day is of no concern to her.  But that is a façade.  The point is for me to show her that I have a way of making Valentine’s Day a useful ritual within our domain.  In this way she doesn’t have to seem to be dependent on this odd gift receiving dynamic while I can demonstrate my romantic aptitude and at the same time rightly honor her importance in the whole male/female dynamic.

Wow.  That was weird.

Anyway, I’ve long ago given her all the jewelry she needs or even wants.  I usually check to see if she wants any perfume but she’s pretty well stocked there too.  So, this year I said I’d take her out to eat.  And at first, I thought we had a plan.  But at the last minute she changed it.  We were supposed to have the grandkids over for a luncheon of delicatessen food.  But someone got sick so we postponed it.  But apparently Camera Girl was in the mood for pastrami, which, as everyone knows, is the most sensual of the salted cured meats.

So, her idea for Valentine’s Day was pastrami sandwiches at home.  She is a thrifty woman.  And I should be more grateful for that than I am.  So today she served up pastrami on Italian bread with melted Swiss cheese and tons of brown mustard.  There was egg potato salad and dill pickles on the side and a giant mug of very good, hot coffee.  Afterward there was a big slice of apple pie with three big scoops of premium vanilla ice cream.  Now that is what I call a Valentine’s Day celebration.

It reminded me of that scene in the Maltese Falcon where Sam Spade serves corned beef on French bread and coffee with brandy to Brigid O’Shaughnessy as they warily circle each other in their dance of murder and passion.  And after all Camera Girl is a femme fatale.  Her allure has side-tracked me from my intended career as a classical philologist by, as far as I can reckon somewhere on the order of forty five years, give or take.  And there has been many a night that I suspected she was contemplating smothering me in my sleep.  I have no incontrovertible evidence for this.  But for someone who knows her moods all the signs were there.  But I digress.

So, the key to a successful Valentine’s Day gift or celebration is buy-in from the woman.  There has to be an effort by the man to imbue the ritual with some special significance for the pair.  And to do that requires good will on both sides and for an established relationship the desire to break the monotony of a settled routine with something different and in some way exciting.

And exciting doesn’t have to be the Hope Diamond or a trip to Bora Bora.  The excitement is breaking the routine.  It’s talking about different things.  It’s putting a little more of your personality into your presentation than you normally do.  And, of course, it doesn’t hurt if you drag her off to bed to consummate the proceedings properly.  But, just like Sam Spade, remember that she may be hiding a revolver under her side of the bed so sleep with one eye open.  Especially if she has two or three aliases.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day

Christmas Day 2022

Christmas Eve with the grandsons at their home was great.  They were in epic high spirits and we talked of various things.  With the eldest it was nuclear fusion and robotics.  With the youngest it was, of course, dinosaurs but also his latest pet, a bearded dragon with an inexhaustible appetite for “super worms.”  With the others there was talk of soccer and what they would be doing on the Christmas holiday next week.  Much food was eaten and the younger kids were occupied with happy mayhem.  Something with plastic swords and shields.


But this morning, Camera Girl is at peak output with potatoes being mashed, lasagna, roast beast and ham cooking and side dishes being prepared.  I can tell her patience is exhausted so I have to tread carefully around the outskirts of her kitchen or a carving knife might end up under my ribs.  She does have Sicilian blood on her mother’s side.  But I can tell all is going well.  She’s in the zone.  All of the desserts are already prepared and the meat courses are right on schedule.  It will be a feast to remember.  And the leftovers will be glorious.  That ham will end up in at least a lentil soup and probably some breakfasts.

But after eating way too much food and way too much dessert I’ll spend the time with the grandkids.  Now that Princess Sack of Potatoes is a full four years old, she’ll be right in the thick of it with her older cousins.  I might even try to put on a showing of one of the “Christmas Carol” movies but Camera Girl frowns on television watching on the holidays.  She prefers more sociable pursuits like cards.  We’ll see.

The weather has cooperated.  Although bitterly cold, the roads are in mostly good shape.  Only a few curves of the hills have some large ice hazards but last night I noted that these had been treated with salt so my guests should be safe coming and going today.

Monday we can get back to the political nightmare our country has descended into but today will be “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”  So, all of you have a great day and night and in Tiny Tim’s immortal words, “God bless us every one.”


I ruined my own surprise by hanging around the kitchen.  Camera Girl had secretly bought me a boneless loin of lamb.  She hates lamb and vociferously refused making it when I mentioned it last week.  But after performing my duty of cutting an X on the raw chestnuts, I glanced over at the stove and there it was.  My discovery angered her but what could I do?  She should have hidden it.  I did thank her heartily but she is pretty mad for me spoiling the surprise.  Well, I’ll make it up to her later.  Christmas just got a whole lot merrier.  But, boy will I be groggy tonight.

Wampanoag Lasagna

It is reputed that at the Pilgrims’ first Christmas dinner the main course was lasagna.  Apparently, some of the Wampanoag Indians learned how to make this dish from Christopher Columbus or one of his friends back in the late 1400’s when they were on a Caribbean vacation and upon returning home it became traditional in the New England area.  Admittedly some scholars reject this time line.  These dissidents claim it came into vogue in the 1900’s with a later wave of Italian influence.

Regardless of which camp you find yourself in it’s obvious that lasagna is a very interesting choice for a Christmas menu.  Now Camera Girl had asked my opinion about the Christmas menu.  I had recommended a roast beast after the Italian wedding soup and she added a ham and then as an afterthought I asked about lasagna as a course.  Surprisingly there was resistance to this reasonable recommendation.  Something about not everyone liking lasagna.  I can’t remember if I pounded my fist on the table and shouted some strangled syllables that might have been, “Heresy!”  Later I calmed down and just swallowed my disappointment.

But Camera Girl is a mysterious creature and without my knowledge or permission she bought the ingredients for lasagna and today she is doing the assembly for later cooking.  There are fragments of sausage and meatball, sauce and various cheeses that go into the layers between the pasta layers.  Of course, I forgave her for her treacherous silence and subterfuge.  Just as Adam forgave Eve for that whole apple thing, I was the better person and put the whole treacherous story behind me and gave my blessing to this lasagna conspiracy.

But this does create an awkward situation for my meal.  I really like roast beef and I like ham.  But lasagna is enormously delicious and infrequently available.  How do I do justice to this dinner without ending up in the hospital emergency room?  Ah, heavy is the head that wears the crown.  Well, I’ll figure it out.  And of course, left over lasagna is a very pleasant situation and I’m sure Camera Girl will distribute it to the households that have children to feed.  Maybe the real concern is that some of it remains for me on December 26th and 27th.

Here is a photo of the intermediate stage of the lasagna assembly process.

And one of the end product.

And here’s one of the Italian cheesecake she’s also got going.

Well, I have to say, Christmas 2022 is shaping up to be pretty remarkable.  It seems that the crazier the world becomes the more special become the personal moments that we share with our friends and family.  In fact, that’s probably why they’re that way.  It’s a defense mechanism to keep our sanity and concentrate on the things within our control and keep the awfulness at arm’s length.  Well even if that’s so it doesn’t detract from the greatness of these special things we do.  Tomorrow we’ll be away at Christmas Eve most of the day so I’ll say Merry Christmas to everyone here.  May you enjoy your time and make the most of it.

Merry Christmas

In Hera’s Kitchen

Today is the highest of solemnities in Camera Girl’s kitchen calendar.  I, even I, am banned from encroaching on the rituals being performed.  And I’m no fool.  Interfering with the magic going on risks the spoiling of those spells and the blighting of the baked goods being produced; a horror not to be imagined.

Today Camera Girl and her daughters and now her granddaughter will gather like a coven of witches and take their magic ingredients and hover around the stove and drink coffee (or hot chocolate in the case of Princess Sack of Potatoes) and knead dough and add vanilla extract and hand shape the grandma cookies and the chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies and whichever new variants they decide on.

And wondrous aromas will waft through the house and when they’re through there will be a pile of cookies to get us through to New Year’s Day.  Splendiferous confections that turn a coffee break into a feast.  And make watching an old movie into a special event.

But even ignoring the practical results of this activity, this is a primary ritual of our domestic calendar.  The hand written recipes are coming on fifty years.  The paper is beginning to crumble and the writing is fading from exposure to ingredients and wear and tear.  I’ve warned Camera Girl that they need to be copied and digitized, printed out and distributed to her daughters to preserve them from loss.  But if it’s going to be done, I’ll have to take on the project.

I look at some of the recipes and the notes on them and see the names of friends and relatives from long ago.  Only one or two living women are represented.  Most are from our parents’ and grandparents’ generation.  A few go even farther back.

And that’s a comforting legacy.  In these times when fools are trying to deconstruct the meaning of man and woman and sever the traditions that have given meaning to our lives, there still exist people and rituals that ground our lives and make them human and pleasant.  Baking cookies may seem to some people to be a trivial and possibly harmful activity in a world of obese people.  But it’s exactly opposite.  Christmas cookies are a special and specific part of the year.  Once they’re done, we don’t make more.  We move onto the winter months when we subsist on meager fare, far removed from the bounty of summer and fall.  Christmas is a celebration and an ending of the year and needs to be treated as such.

So, I will withdraw from the kitchen and keep myself busy with other things while the women commune with their flour and butter.  From time to time, I’ll find an excuse to walk by the kitchen and see how things are going.  And maybe my granddaughter will come visit with me for a game of Candy Land.  But for the most part I’ll leave them to their industry and their talk.  And before I go to bed there will be the hoard of golden and white and brown cookies in various cookie jars and containers.  And of course, there will be a big mug of coffee and one or two (or even three) cookies waiting for me to enjoy during a holiday movie.  God bless you Camera Girl and long may you bake.