The Dog Day

It’s a hot one, a scorcher.  I was out there trying to get some shots of hummingbirds and I think they were watching me from the shade of the trees saying to each other, “Is he crazy?  We’re not going out in that sun for a little sugar water!”

But this is real summer.  You can see all the moisture the ground has soaked up over the last month or so rippling into the air as currents of chromatic diffractions of the solar photons pummeling the ground.  I put on my floppy hat and brave the noonday sun in quest of photographic knowledge.  And there’s scant little of that.  Even the usually reliable bees and butterflies and even the dragonflies have taken refuge out of the sun, the cowards.

Camera Girl and Princess Sack-of-Potatoes took to the pool after lunch and of course as soon as I went in for lunch, supposedly, the hummingbirds were everywhere, on the flowers, at the feeders, even hovering between the girls at the side of the pool.  I shouted out, “Fake News!”  But her haughty sneer let me know I wasn’t fooling Camera Girl.  I knew she spoke the truth.

I will go back out after four.  At that point the sun’s blast will be merely Saharan and therefore survivable.  I will say that this tracking autofocus function still requires a fair amount of skill, of technique that I am sadly lacking.  But persevere I will.  I must know the answers.  Are my old lenses useful or ballast?  I will find out.

After conferring with my grandsons I recognized their seasonal anxiety.  They sense the end of summer vacation.  They reminded me not to waste the days that we have left.  Labor Day is right up the road and after that there’s nothing on the horizon until Halloween.  So I must get out there and see what I can see.

I think tomorrow I’ll head for the local lake.  I want to see if any water birds are around.  That would be a nice tame autofocus-tracking target.  I’m tired of trying to capture Larold running at full tilt.  The camera doesn’t stand a chance.  Last year there was a bald eagle at that lake.  I don’t suppose I’ll luck out and it’ll be there but you never know.  In an unrelated photographic idea there is an old colonial graveyard nearby and I thought I’d go over there and do some closeup photography of the old stones.  Nothing that will show the whole stones but more the texture of the erosion on the carving.

Haven’t seen much wildlife this summer.  There was a bear on the property recently but he didn’t do any damage surprisingly enough.  Last year he flattened one of our bird feeder polls.  And speaking of birds Camera girl has been reading about some mysterious bird ailment that is killing the birds.  So of course the first thing they tell her is “Stop feeding the birds!”  Blah, blah, blah.  I told her do as she pleases.  If feeding the birds is going to cause the apocalypse then let her rip.  I figure it’s bird COVID.  So why shouldn’t they get a taste of it too?

Well, the silly season is ending in three weeks or so.  Then we’ll have the atrocities in Washington to bemoan, only I’m all out of outrage for the inevitable.  I figure codified election fraud is in our immediate future so bring it on.  But it will wake up a mess of normies.  Maybe that will do some good.  So enjoy the rest of the summer and I’ll be here when you get back.

And here is the dog himself Larold the Wonder Dog.

Normalcy Restored

That lying sack of crap, Anthony Fauci M.D., stole a year from us.  And more than a year.  He smashed millions of small businesses that took lifetimes to build up.  He drained away the life savings of a generation of hard-working people.  He interrupted and marred the education of tens of millions of children.  He imprisoned a nation of 330 million and delayed marriages, births and every hope and dream of a nation.  And the most horrible thing is that it was for no benefit whatsoever.  The same people who would have died from COVID did die and are dying despite all of the useless torture that was inflicted on the healthy population of our country.  He is a tin-pot Pol Pot.  May he roast in Hell.

But yesterday was a renewal.  Almost all the descendants of my parents were gathered together in one place and time and enjoyed a party that included all the familiar and life-affirming rituals of a summer get together.  And even the weather blessed us with perfection.  Eighty-two degrees, bright sun with just a few wispy clouds, bone dry air and a refreshing breeze.  Just warm enough for some people to go in the pool and just cool enough to let the young at heart toss around a baseball or play a few lawn games with their kids and grandkids and even let one person watch her great-grand-children play.

Camera Girl in her culinary wisdom decided that instead of a barbecue she would cook the traditional Southern Italian peasant feast.  Ziti baked with cheese, eggplant parmigiana, meatballs, sausage and to start with, our version of an antipasto.  Huge portions were devoured with zeal and fueled loud and animated shouting about amusing and nonsensical things.  And in my earshot, there was not a moment of political discussion or anger.  Spirits were higher than high.  The highlight of the day for me was a four-way catch with two of my grandsons and a nephew.  I haven’t really had a good long baseball catch since forever.  Even the afternoon sun that was directly in my eyes I found enjoyable.  I actually felt young again.  Maybe today my shoulder is a little sore but it felt fine while we were out in that golden sun.

When my younger daughter showed up with her little 2 ½ year old girl the baby was terrified by all of the old fat strange-looking men shouting to be heard over each other in the meal hall I set up with folding tables and chairs.  After all, she has spent her entire conscious life in lockdown and hardly saw anyone but her parents and grandparents.  A cacophony of sound and strange faces truly frightened her.  But her mother was smart.  She took the baby outside on the deck and then into the swimming pool that she loves and there she was able to meet and play with the other children and slowly by degrees bring her back to the crowded areas where even the loudest old men were, at this point, too gorged with food to make much noise or even move.  So even that residue of the Fauci curse was lifted.  From two to ninety-two everyone was partaking in an old-fashioned family get together.

And I will be honest when I say that the relief to finally all get together made this the most enjoyable, least stressful gathering I can ever remember.  By the time the pie and ice cream and coffee were finished and sun was long below the horizon everyone was satisfied and ready to gather their children and say their goodbyes and head back on the road to home.  But promises were made to get together at the other homes for other occasions and other holidays.  Labor Day and Thanksgiving and Christmas lie ahead.  And we have broken the ice and hopefully we won’t allow that creepy little man to steal anymore of our lives away again.  It’s over and normal life has returned.

24JUL2021 – OCF Update – Summer Event

Ah, the great day has arrived.  The cleaning (by me!) and the cooking is all done.  An armada of tables and chairs have been arrayed with plates and silverware.  Glaciers of ice have been procured and cold beverages are resting on them.  The grass is manicured (sort of) and the hounds have been sent away for the day.  All that is needed are the guests and their appetites.  Frivolity and bom homme will abound and never will be heard a discouraging word.  But that means this will be a very slow day on the site until much later.  So my faithful readers I leave you to your own devices.  Enjoy what is touted to be an ideal summer day.

 

 

 

High Summer Triumphalism Collides with Amateur PVC Plumbing

I woke up this morning with a song in my heart.  Midsummer Day, blue skies, ethereal luminous landscapes, birds singing, flowers blooming, all that crap.  And as I dawdled over my coffee and bagel Camera Girl did what all wives do best.  She toppled the towers of my fairy tale castle.  Report from the kitchen was that the repair I did to the drain line of the sink had failed catastrophically.

I was outraged!  Just a week ago I had disassembled this piece of pvc pipe and its associated o-rings, gaskets and nuts, cleaned it up, inspected the parts.  And finding them good, I reassembled it and using a very satisfyingly heavy monkey wrench I socked the brass nut down on the iron sink drain with authority.  This failure irked me.  So, I gathered my righteous wrath and got my tools out of the garage and descended on that drain line like Thor.

But the brass nut was now a brass ring and a threaded cylinder.  The damn thing had split apart.  It was almost as if someone had overtightened it.  Knowing this to be impossible I explained to Camera Girl that defective Chinese brass was the culprit.  I sighed a manful sigh and after shutting the water valves to the sink and collecting the spool piece and its attendant fittings and specialty items I headed off for replacement parts.  I was going to go to my local hardware store but since this pvc stuff only came on the scene thirty years ago I thought maybe I should try the plumbing supply place that I had seen nearby.

And it was lucky I did.  The friendly and competent employee behind the counter eyeballed the wreckage of a fitting and instantly handed me a new one.  But when I tried to install it on the pipe, we discovered a very strange situation.  The guy who owned the house before me was a very do-it-yourself kind of guy and what he had done was capture the nut between the flange end of the pipe and a tight 90° elbow that he glued up behind it afterward.  Because the old nut split apart, I could get it around the elbow.  But the new nut wouldn’t get by the elbow.  I grumbled some very uncomplimentary remarks about my predecessor but the hardware professional was unphased.  He noted that the pvc nut that tightened the other end of the pipe in place would fit over the elbow with only light violence and I could use my new metal nut on the other joint.  I thought about this for a second.  Metal to pvc?  Sure, why not?  The worst it would do was loosen and I’d put some Teflon tape on it.

I thanked him and asked him how much for the nut.  He said free.  I said, “I can’t just get it for nothing.”  He said, “Think of it as a sales pitch and come back again next time.”  I assured him I would and it wasn’t a lie.  That guy knows how to run a business.

I got home and sure enough the pvc/iron connection fit like a glove.  I made a point of not socking it down with my wrench and determined to check it periodically to see how much it loosened.  The other metal to pvc joint was equally clean fitting and wouldn’t give me any trouble.  I cleaned up the sink area and returned it to Camera Girl’s jurisdiction with noticeable gratitude on her part.  Hail the Conquering Hero.

In celebration, we took a walk around the gardens and admired the Black-Eyed Susans and roses that were blooming.  And just at that time the guy came returning my lawn tractor from repair.  I wasn’t expecting it back for at least two more weeks so this was definitely manna from heaven.  Even with my 20” push mower working again having the sit-down mower would save me four hours of sweat on a hot July morning.  So, things were really going my way now.

Knowing that good things always come in threes I checked the news to see if maybe President Trump had been recognized as the actual winner of the 2020 election while I was busy.  No soap.

Well, it could’ve been much worse.  Trying to get a plumber in my neck of the woods is difficult.  Leaving Camera Girl without a reliable and convenient kitchen sink would be suicidal.  So, this was indeed a best-case result.

So Midsummer Day was interrupted but not ruined.  Now where was that summer idyll I was dreaming of at breakfast?

O mio babino caro!

High Summer

 

SONY DSC

Sunday, June 20th was the Summer Solstice this year.  That was the longest day of the year.  And Thursday, June 24th is Midsummer Day which is the traditional center of the growing season.  And that is called the beginning of High Summer.  That is the finest time of the year and unless you are afflicted in either mind or body, you’ll probably be feeling your oats about this time of year.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac says that it is the Feast of St. John the Baptist and that “the dew on Midsummer Day makes young girls beautiful and old people look younger.”  Well, it’s worth a shot.

And anyone familiar with Will Shakespeare’s, “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,” knows that faeries and goblins celebrate and cavort in the forests and wild places that night.  Well, we’ll see about that.  But I expect that the fireflies will make their appearance and that will suffice as far as magic for me.  I’m hoping to keep my little two-year old granddaughter up past her bedtime one night soon to see the fireflies for the first time in her young life.  She’s had so many books about them read to her.  It’s time she saw what all the hype is about.  I think she’ll be impressed.

I’ve got a couple of parties coming up, one for family, one for friends, and just thinking about them makes me feel like a kid waiting for his birthday or Christmas.  And it reinforces what I’ve been thinking about all the crazy things going on in this world we live in.  What really counts is the people you care about.  Being with them and sharing the small rituals and celebrating the things that are happening in their lives is infinitely more important than what that meathead in the White House mumbles at us on tv.  Sure, he can make our lives worse and he can help other evil men attack us but that’s no different than a lot of the other dangers that lurk in this world.

So, the world keeps circling the sun and wobbling on its axis.  We keep being born and growing up and bringing new people into this world.  All this other nonsense about white privilege and transphobia and gay marriage is all mental illness that we have to hold at arms’ length so that we don’t miss the fleeting joys that this life holds.  Be honest with your kids and grandkids.  Don’t be afraid to tell them what you believe and why.  Otherwise, they’ll assume you believe in what the teacher at school tells them is true.  Tell them what the important things in life are; family, marriage, children, work and fun.  Whether we ever reclaim our liberty in this “land of the free” is uncertain.  But stopping your life waiting for it is foolish.  Sure, pay attention to the politics and how it affects you but ruining your life fretting about defeats in Washington is madness.  You can make a much bigger impact on the world by acting on your local reality.

So, this Fourth of July I am declaring my independence from Washington.  They are a foreign power and I renounce all loyalty to them and deny their legitimacy.  I know what the Constitution says.  Those are my rights.  Anyone who denies that I have those rights isn’t an American and has no business governing a free people.  I will work to make my life meaningful and help the people that I care about.  If I find people who agree with me then we can find common cause and maybe my horizons broaden.  That’s how politics is supposed to work.

But if it comes right down to it even our side doesn’t have a claim on us unless they prove that they’re more than just talk.  Republicans have been lying to me my whole life and other than a couple of exceptions they haven’t saved a damn thing worth saving.  If they want my support then they need to support me.

So that’s my thesis.  I’m going to put summer to its highest and best purpose.  I’m going to enjoy the intensity of summer at its peak and celebrate my life with the people that matter to me.  I hope you enjoy your summer too.

Silly Season – 2021

Definition of “Silly Season”

1: a period (such as late summer) when the mass media often focus on trivial or frivolous matters for lack of major news stories

2: a period marked by frivolous, outlandish, or illogical activity or behavior

 

It’s not late summer yet but when the mercury climbs above 90°F even the Burn-Loot-Murder crowd gets easily overheated and things slow down.  Sure, the professional gang-bangers are making their living and shooting each other off porches and through windshields but that kind of news isn’t very interesting anymore.

With school out for summer the Antifa kids might want to burn down the local police precinct but it’s Pride Month and they have to get the police to protect their freak parade so they’ll take off their black bloc paraphernalia long enough to go down to the local precinct and fill out the paperwork to allow them to float some giant-sized sex toy down main street while dressed as a wombat or whatever other fetish symbol they’ve adopted this week.

What’s a blogger to do?  How will I manufacture sufficient outrage to keep the public interested if all I have is Joe Burden surfacing every few days with another listless mumble about vaccinations or the Fourth of July or white supremacists threatening to tip over the continent or sabotage the summer’s ice cream supply.

I guess I have no choice but to actually think about what I want to write about.  “A thoughtful essay?” you may question.  “Does he do those?”  Well, not normally.  But during the silly season I have three choices.  Either go 100% to non-news topics (entertainment and general knowledge), fly completely off the handle and just rave like a lunatic or spend a little time digging into political and social subjects a little more thoughtfully and try to provide something insightful.

But the truth is insightful is hard.  And it’s hard to pump that kind of stuff out.  In fact, you can’t.  When you try to pump it out it pretty much equals the ravings of a lunatic.  So, during lulls in meaningful political news, I expect to be doing more cultural/entertainment stuff and fewer political items.  But my hope is that the political articles I do publish will be worth reading.

And don’t get too worried that my output will go down much.  There are bound to be a few outrages coming up shortly.  After all, these people are certifiably insane.  Even if they weren’t chock full of anti-psychotics there hasn’t been a moment in decades that they weren’t so removed from reality that they wouldn’t know the difference between a Fourth of July fireworks concert and the burning of the Reichstag.

With respect to meaningful political meditation, of late I’ve been thinking about how I would recognize “the real deal.”  To be more precise, how can I recognize who is truly working towards the re-establishment of the Old Republic and who is just running a grift?  After the exposure of the Bushes and the rest of the RINOs you’d think that we could point to their talking points and know who is the real deal.  After all the people who still whine about “illegal immigration is love” like Jeb Bush are obviously the controlled opposition.  But I think the grifters have gotten cagey.  Even Liz Cheney was smart enough to vote along with President Trump when it looked like he was going to be running things.  It was only after the election was handed to Biden that she showed her true colors.  So, it’s not a foregone conclusion that we know what’s lurking in the minds of men.  And that’s a separate question about how much brains and guts a fellow has.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about today.  When I work it up into something interesting, I’ll put it out there.  In the meantime, I’ll be watching that H.P. Lovecraft/Nick Cage collaboration.  The things I do for my readers!

More Wolf’s Bane?

Wolfs Bane Coming Into Bloom

This has been a goofy mixed up year for weather.  The spring and early summer were extremely cool and delayed many plants by almost a month from their normal cycle of growth.  For the most part this wasn’t too bad but one plant that blooms late in the summer is wolf’s bane.  And as of today, the very last gasp of summer, the leaves on the plants are turning yellow and the flowers aren’t even buds yet, they’re bumps.  What we have here is a foot race between flowers and frost.  Last night it got down to 36°F.  That is dangerously flirting with freezing.  There are two more nights of near freezing temperatures coming up before a warm up is predicted.  I don’t like my chances here.  I need a miracle.

Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “What’s the big deal if some stupid plant doesn’t flower?”  Well, that’s a fair question.  I’ll try to explain.

The Calendar tracks the path of Earth as it performs its seemingly eternal dance with the Sun.  And here at the Autumnal Equinox we mark the point where the northern latitudes lose their grip on the sun and slip into darkness.  For millennia the inhabitants of the North have recognized this moment and celebrated it with various harvest festivals and religious myths like the Death of Tammuz or the Rape of Persephone.  These solemn occasions were meant to memorialize the end of summer and the beginning of the harvest.

Nowadays most of us aren’t involved in farming and the advent of electric lights has lessened the impact of shorter days on our lives.  But for some of us the end of summer is still an extremely meaningful time.  As I have so often stated here on the site I am an avowed therophile (lover of summer) and the autumnal equinox is like a death knell for me.  Like some primitive soul I atavistically search for a formula or spell to help me fight off the fear of darkness and believe that summer will reemerge on the other side of the sun all those months in the future.  And for me the first step is to take the last gasp of summer, the blooming of the wolf’s bane flowers and tie that to the next great festival on my calendar, Halloween.

For Halloween begins  for me with watching the classic Universal horror movies.  And I always start with Dracula.  Here we see Dracula square off against Dr. Van Helsing for possession of the soul of Mina Seward.  And in this battle one of the prime weapons is a garland of wolf’s bane.  Vampires hate it and all good vampire fighters carry it with them.  And later on in the Universal series we will come to the Wolfman.  Here we are told:

Even a man who’s pure at heart

And says his prayers by night

May become a wolf when the wolf’s bane blooms

And the autumn moon is bright

And that is the link between summer and wolf’s bane and autumn and Halloween.  And Halloween gets you to Thanksgiving.  And Thanksgiving gets you to Christmas.  And Christmas has to get you to Easter and the beginning of spring.  But it all starts with wolf’s bane.  So wish me luck.  If nature lets me down I’ll have to take drastic action and invoke the only other Summer/Halloween talisman I know of.  I’ll have to have an early showing of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”  Bradbury’s story provides a direct link between summer and Halloween by way of the carnival theme.  Carnivals are summer and end of summer events.  But in the story we have a Halloween arrival of a dark carnival that is looking to ensnare souls.  The battle between good and evil is to my mind the battle between summer and autumn.  Between life and death.  Okay, that’s the end of my raving.

End of Summer 2020 – A Rambling Maudlin Dithering Dissertation

It’s customary to declare summer in the United States over after Labor Day.  Other people look at the Autumnal Equinox as the end of summer as well they may since it really is the beginning of astronomical fall and the point at which the nights become longer than the days.  Some more practical folks just call it over when the kids go back to school.  Of course, during the COVID panic there is no school so that’s sort of irrelevant.

Here at the compound we have a more poignant measure.  Summer is over when the hummingbirds leave.  They left yesterday.  Camera Girl is sad.  She told me I should memorialize this event with a post about the end of summer.  As the ever-solicitous husband, her wish was my command so, here I am prattling on.

It is funny though how exactly these birds seem to define the end of summer in this exact locale.  Already, even on a day that reaches eighty degrees, the air is different.  Drier and lighter.  And the late afternoon is cooler and breezier.  And now by seven p.m. the sun is gone and only twilight remains.  The leaves are coming down at a decent clip.  These leaves are yellow and must be coming from some of the species that lose them early, the cherry and the birch.  But it’s the start.  Next the maples will start turning.  The oaks will hold out the longest, well into October.  But it’s the start.  And because the leaves were starting to fall Camera Girl, who is, like most women, a practical creature had the pool company close the pool down and put on the cover this week.  Maybe that’s what tipped off the hummingbirds.

And Camera Girl informs me that the birds that haven’t left yet go to bed earlier now.  By dinner time they’re gone.  So, all in all, the whole natural world around me has conceded the end of summer 2020.  But not me.  I rail against it.  Oh, soon enough I’ll shift my attention to fall foliage photography and then onto reviews of horror movies for Halloween.  But not yet.  I still haven’t seen a preying mantis this year.  I haven’t gotten a picture of a heron on the pond or a painted turtle in the pond.  I still want to try the 600mm lens with a hawk in flight.  So, though I promised Camera Girl to declare and mourn the end of summer I will use this last full week of official summer to hunt my last summer targets.

All Outrage and No Fun Makes photog A Dull Boy

In the immortal notes and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin:

“Summertime, an’ the livin’ is easy

Fish are jumpin’ an’ the cotton is high.

Oh, yo’ daddy’s rich and yo’ ma is good-lookin’

So hush, little baby, don’ you cry.”

While statues of Lincoln freeing the slaves are being pulled from their pedestals maybe cotton fields aren’t the acceptable subject of song, especially with all that yo’ and mammy going on in the lyrics.  But here at Orion’s Cold Fire we appropriate culture with a rakish grin and a tip of the cap.

Anyway, we are bearing down on July and anyone who has been hanging around here for more than a year knows that July is my sacred time.  I live to have a week or two off during the hottest, sunniest, least wintery time of the year.  It must be my Mediterranean heritage.  Relaxing in a country environment during this time of the year with no work responsibilities is as close to heaven as I am ever likely to get either before or after death (being an irredeemable sinner).

Because of the COVID hoax I will be deprived of the annual pleasure of seeing all of my relatives this summer which is tragic.  But I refuse to let this insanity cancel this most joyful time of the year and I intend to fulfill all my usual rituals and revel in all the things I enjoy.  I intend to grill up a barbecue and eat watermelon and corn on the cob, enjoy potato salad and lemonade.  I’ll watch old movies and listen to music that evokes memories of the best of times.  I will photograph birds and bugs and flowers and I will sleep in a hammock under a tree and listen to the music of the wood thrush and the song sparrow (or at least a blue jay and a mourning dove).  And for a few days I will ignore BLM and antifa and Nancy Pelosi and even my soulless boss.

But what I will not ignore is OCF and the good folks who come here to see what crazy things I’m talking about next.  I will have things to say and reviews of things I like.  I will share photos and anything else I think might be interesting.  Things may slow down a little but there won’t be a gap.  What hopefully will be missing is outrage.  At this time of the rolling year I think it is more than desirable to forsake the doom and gloom that is so all encompassing in our daily lives and look for the good and happy and fun.  I will seek out the traditional sources of wholesome happiness and sling them at you folks with both hands.  I will accentuate the positive.  I will be jolly if it kills me.

And so, this is my intention.  It is possible that some new atrocity will preclude all this.  If the Jacobeans come marauding down the highway and torch the Compound then most probably my plan for revelry will evaporate.  Bad weather could throw a damper on my plans or illness could ruin it.  But I wish everyone out there a very happy high summer, especially you folks in the northern latitudes.  This is the time we look forward to during all those short snowy days and long frigid nights of winter.

Here Comes the Sun

22JUN2019 – OCF Update

“Summer, it turns me upside down
Summer, summer, summer
It’s like a merry go round”

Ric Ocasek

 

Well, it’s finally here.  Summer in New England.  And despite the cool weather, endless rain and soggy ground I will be rejoicing in the summer solstice and swatting mosquitoes.  I have guests this weekend and also some chores to accomplish but I’ll opine on anything that strikes my fancy and hopefully get out and take some photos of the gorgeousness that is summer.

 

After you’ve read enough sexbot articles on Drudge maybe switch to something interesting