Fits and Snatches – January 22, 2021

In the spirit of “rambling.”

Still clearing-out the electronic “to-do,” “here’s an idea,” “come back to this in a couple of days weeks months, years,” “lacking a plot, viewpoint, or protagonist,” and “is this humor or a rant or both” folders.  I’ve determined I must dispatch all that stuff before diving into the oak file cabinet. If not, I’ll not be able to focus with thoughts of you really should finish that constantly pulling me aside. Toss, toss, toss, keep, toss, keep…

Puttered and putzed-out

Used to do what I called at the time “Calipers, Blades, and Mallets.”1  They were four-, five- and six-word bits of philosophy, occasionally running to what Mrs. B. sixty years ago would judge a complete sentence. Published daily as necessary to maintain a presence in the “slam book”2 environment of the time. A few examples:

The best teacher becomes student.
SPWilcen 6-13-2020 27:03/45:00

Climb the mountain blocking your travels; the view from its peaks is life-changing.
SPWilcen 6-13-2020 00:00/45:00

Mistakes are life practice.
SPWilcen 6-14-2020 23:55/45:00

Hard work is a wish with fingers.
SPWilcen 6-15-2020 17:10/45:00

Might be easier to be a man of your word if you’re a man of few words.
 -halves in one form or another attributable to Shakespeare, among thousands of others.

SPWilcen 6-16-2020 37:30/45:00 

Breakpoint: Learning rides the cusp between pain and pleasure
SPWilcen 7/1/2020

Therapy: Laugh until you can no longer stand.  Cry until you can.
SPWilcen 7-1-2020

How to Friend: Especially, be a friend when you find it nearly impossible.
SPWilcen 7-2-2020

Contracts: Promise carefully, deliver with abandon.
SPWilcen 7-2-2020

Personally fond of “Therapy” and “Friend.”  Some never made the cut:

Get me to like your lies, they become my truth.
Should your truths disappoint me, they are lies.

If your freedom impinges upon mine, it is for the good of man.
When my freedom suppresses yours, it is tyranny.

“Calipers, Blades, and Mallets,” which had merit,3 was put aside when it reached the point I spent more time researching to see that I wasn’t inadvertently plagiarizing.  Tough call anyway.  Say something succinctly, which implies using the barest minimum of words, odds are it was said before.  I mean the math(s) of permutation and combination suggest there are only so many original (and meaningful) ways to put sparse sets of words together; probability suggests whatever you come up with, someone has been there before you. 

What would we accomplish if we spent less time trying to preclude pouncing plagiarist police?

Incomplete snippets aren’t all pithy sayings.

Favorite Insults that never blossomed

 I mean when she rolled off the line, the kan-ban cards were so not-kanned and un-banned, there were shortages of some components, excess of others, fouling expedient assembly.  She entered the showroom with no front bumpers which some benevolent line-worker thought to remedy with too large a rear bumper.  She became in later years what menfolk around here call a two-seater.

But you know, she had a wonderful personality. Killed her first husband. Docs suggested a bad ticker, but I ‘spect he was happy to tuck it in.  Her second husband disappeared just before Thanksgiving one year. Been gone eight years now.  Understand she’s looking to get herself another man.  Been one hell of a gender shift in the county population last few months. Men leaving for what appears no apparent reason.

“Where ya been?”


“About what?”

“Making decisions I’ve put off too long.”

“Make any?”

“Point of the exercise.”


“Well, what?”

“Care to share them?”

“No point in it.”

“Aw, c’mon.”

“You a Democrat?”

“Unh. Sometimes. Depends on the issue. Why?”

“Acting like a liberal coastie card-carrying single-lever Democrat.”

“Am not.”

“Sure are.  Got nothing to do with you, doesn’t impact you, but you want to force your way into it, check the party line, legislate it, tax it, skim any profits from it off for your cronies, ruin it for all concerned except those who have the mark of the beast on their forehead.”

“That’s bullshit.”

“Yeah, maybe a bit heavy-handed.  But you are acting like a woman.”

“Whoa, bud! What the hell you mean by that?”

“Bothers you something happened you don’t know about.  Or something gonna happen you don’t know about.  There’s a secret out there and you’re not in on it.  Chaps your ass.”

“I can keep a secret.”

“Can’t. Don’t”

“Can.  Do.”

“Asking to be party to the unknown violates secret sanctity right there.”

“Only person knows is you. That’s not much of a secret.”

“Best kind. Top secret.”

“You can tell me.”

“Nope. I let you in, you can’t wait to show someone how much ‘in the know’ you are and tell your absolute best friend.  Of course, your friend who can keep a secret.  They have one, or maybe two best friends, and the same need to show how much they know that no one else knows.  Suddenly it’s you and half a dozen other people with what isn’t so secret anymore and we’re off to the races.  Time some stranger confides this ‘secret’ in me, I can’t recognize it.”

“That’s your attitude, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.”

“Well, there’s at least two mistakes right there.”

“What?  That we can’t be friends because of your unwillingness to share?’

“No. You assume it’s my attitude.  It’s more a matter of demonstrated fact.”

“That’s your opinion.”

“In this case, my opinion is the only thing that matters.”

“Maybe.  You think the ‘other’ mistake is that we can still be friends?”

“No.  Had in mind another mistake was you assumed we were friends to begin with.”

Will Rogers might have said

Why is it called ‘common sense,’ when it seems it is one of the rarest handicaps?

This is real time: Wobblers wobble but they never fall down

Just watched two wobblers walk (sort of) past my office window.  On their evening constitutional, I suppose.  First time I’ve ever seen them. If you recall the tradename given wobbler toys from years ago (they’re still around) you know what I’m referring to and I don’t have to describe then, these two fine physical specimens.  That’s exactly what they looked like.  Bottom-heavy stability of sorts.  Those toys are cute in a perverted way, like the over-hyped, sometimes over-priced “baby dolls” manufactured in that town that fell from Ohio to Georgia. People who look like that – wobblers or dolls birthed in a cruciferous vegetable garden – are not cute.

Mr. Wobbler was carrying a golf iron.  Maybe it was for balance, but more likely to threaten any dog they might encounter on the walk.  Suspect if Mr. Wobbler were to lift the club to strike at some ferocious chihuahua in mid-attack, he would fall over.  In which case we hope he’d have one of those “Help me I fallen and can’t get up” amulets to summon Triple-A.  Were I to see such a comedy unfold, I’d certainly hurry to Mr. Wobbler’s aid, but am fairly sure I’d have to recruit three or four of the other old farts in the hood to help me.  Not a job for one man.  Triple-A probably the best bet.

Mrs. Wobbler wasn’t carrying anything.  She was focused on walking.  Looked to be necessary.  It apparently it took all she had.  I’m thinking Mr. and Mrs. Wobbler should practice walking around the house some before coming back out on the streets.  You know, build up some strength and balance.  I understand and applaud their effort, but until they are fit enough to manage on their own without alarming the whole neighborhood into a state of standby at the phones to call Emergency Services, they need to stay off the streets.

Second thought, the jingle about toy wobblers was they’d wobble but never fall down.  The likeness is in physical appearance only.  Surely if Mr. and Mrs. Wobbler fell down, Mack, across the street, and I would be severely tested. Probably have to call Mr. Zou to help us right Mr. Wobbler.  Donald next door would want to help but hell, he’s eighty and more stainless steel and Teflon than Robocop; if he turns his head too quickly he usually snaps something loose.  It happens, we’ll ask him to supervise. That could work.

Let’s hope Mr. and Mrs. Wobbler make it home safely and have sufficient breath left to put Alex to work turning on lights, starting the oven for tonight’s TV dinner, and tuning-in “I Love Lucy” reruns.

Can we talk?

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is too much. 

Given: this is not working out the way I intended.  Social is okay.  Social is not what I’m after.  Professional growth (or concrete assessment that I should look harder) is.  I am in control here.  The paradigm will shift.

Given: intending to do (mostly) quality “stuff” here, I find it takes a lot of time.  I owe that (quality) to my readers; I have the utmost respect for both of them.  I’d like (spwilcenwrites) to be considered a place you go when you’re a little jaded by politics, small engine repair, care and feeding of iguanas, and the latest avant-garde prose style renderings.  Or maybe when, knowing my perverse politics and misanthropy, you are in the mood to argue or be insulted. I do strive for quality.  Okay, I do have my hearing aids in, and I can hear you giggling.  Keep it up and you will hurt my feelings.

My bucket list still includes eight major pieces.  One is complete.  Others fully plotted.  Some have given birth to characters now willing to take over and complete the efforts they call home.  One is in a form I’ve never tackled before and it scares the snot out of me; I therefore cannot resist the temptations it represents.  These, despite the fact three are humorous works represent serious works to me.  Daily, or MWF fluff is serious work, that is obvious, but not my raison d’etre.

I’ve laid aside commitment to meet with professional help on my completed novel.  Too early.  Audience too thin, too fickle.  I need time to finish what else I’ve started.  For posterity.

Again, I hear giggling and murmurs that I, indeed, do need professional help.  It’s been tried.  Doesn’t work.

Look for me Wednesdays.  I might not even look to see what the professionals are doing except Wednesdays.  I apologize.  I will look in to see that you are all okay.

I do not apologize that there will be no more “creative” pieces posted to spwilcenwrites.  No new or “from the archives” works.  I’ll be busy elsewhere.  You gain here in that you’ll not stumble over my suggestions you chase a link to see a creative piece I think might interest you. You know, like if you were a balladeer looking for a piece of flash à la modern spy noir for a trifling diversion. Not gonna happen.

— Notes –

1 Caliper, Blades and Mallets.  Craftsman’s tools.  The words of “wisdom” intended as ‘life tools.’

2 Slam book.  Years (and years and years) ago in school, kids took spiral notebooks, wrote a person’s name, one atop each page, and passed the book around.  Others would scribble in the manner of poking at, flirting with, ridiculing, and praising the person named on each page. “Social pages” of the day.  You can see why they were loved and hated simultaneously.

3 My opinion was rarely shared.

Updates – January 20, 2021

Not sure when it happened.  It has been a busy, confused couple of days.  A visitor watched me “relax” in front of a different screen, noodling1 for a word to decompose into a silly bit of wordplay.Please recall, I gave up the effort. Harkening back to “Engineering Econ”3 for such as ROI, cost of money, fixed overhead, and other absurdities.

Noodling, I was being observed.  A visiting engineer posed this to me in the spirit of lunacy. “If a podiatrist is a foot doctor, podiatry is foot medicine, what is ‘podiagraphic’?”

Credit NS1a of Macon Georgia.  He suggests, “a footprint.”

Not to worry.  Home now, he remains healthy.  No COVID.  No latent lunacy, imminently more contagious.


(Those of you here by mistake should Fast Forward right now.)

Surrogate episodes VI and IX have been added in “Writing” under “Conversations.”  I’ll not insult you with links.  Lesson learned.

That leaves in the ancient series from the archives only episodes X, XI, and XII.  Then, been thinking, probably should write Episode XIII, clearly now, ten years later, less ‘conversational,’ more reflective or (shudder) analytic.  You know, to close it all out.  Something subliminal in the title.  Every failure should be documented.

Just cracked-open that archive.  Read Episode X.  Oddly, applicable to the doings here in the US(of)A right now.  I’d hurry edits of X, XI, and XII but I’d be flogging a dead ox.   Also see my notes say I never sent episodes XI and XII.  By ‘sent’ I mean emailed them to the gent who was reason for them in the first place.  I understand why.  Maybe the ten-year retrospection will be Episode XI.

If “Surrogate” ever completes it will be only as a matter of closure.

Claxbury Corners

June Maverson walked into the Esso station to pay for her gas. She took to conversating with Leron Tackertt about this and that.  This mostly about the bugs.  That, mostly about the snazzy new Dairy Dip going in across from the Five-and-Dime in downtown Claxbury. This and That-ed polite-like, while they waited for Bumper Johnson to finish filling up her Buick, check the oil, and smear her windshield with his oil-infused red mechanic’s rag.  Leron and Miss Maverson agreed it was a good thing, the Dairy Dip, for the town’s economy.  Seeing as how the town was struggling now that the new Inter State High Way closed-off the Ottawa Street route into town so as to be what’d they call it? Limited Excess.

“Seven dollars and twenty cents,” Bumper said to Leron as he came through the station door, wide-open to let the slow mid-summer Michigan breeze swirl gasoline, oil, and brake fluid fumes from the service bay around the office.  “Oil’s just fine and all your belts look to be in good shape, Miz Maverson.”

Leron rang up the sale, gave Miss June back eighty cents, “You have a nice day, Miz M.”

“Why thank you, Mr. Tackertt.  Mr. Johnson, thank you for checking things over under the hood.  Both you boys have a nice afternoon.”

There was a perfect duet “Yes’m” as Miss Maverson, soon to retire as Literature teacher at Webber Senior High, left to her Midnight Silver Buick land yacht.

“Shame they’re makin her retire,” offered Bumper, “best teacher at the school, and hell, I didn’t even like readin.”

“One of my favorite teachers too.”

“She taught you too?”

“Miz Maverson taught everybody exceptin maybe Henry Ford.”

“Still a shame.  Know she’s getting on, but she’s still spry and all the kids still talk nice about her.”

Now where the hell was I going with that?  That’s the deal about life in five-minute segments.  If that doesn’t ping your radar, that’s a blatant shill for yet another creative section, “Life in Five Minute Segments.”  Once again, so as not to insult your intelligence, impinge upon your personal freedoms, or be overtly suggestive, I’ll not incorporate links.  Save myself a few keystrokes in the deal.

Mid-January.  Noon. Sixty degrees. Think I’ll do something useful.  Productive. With lasting benefits.  Go outside.  Plow and fit for corn.  Temperature holds and forecast for the same tomorrow, maybe plant some “Sweet Goliath.”

Do I mange my time correctly or what?

— Notes –

1 Noodling – In the south of the US(of)A there is a sport pastime means of putting food on the table bit of sheer lunacy described as follows:  Find a murky river or large pond.  Water moccasins (modestly large, insanely aggressive, devil incarnate poisonous snakes) habituating that water is requisite, which rules out most of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  Michigan, however, does have a handsome bit of “murky” (a.k.a. righteously polluted) waterways but taxes in that state are prohibitive to sane people taking-up residency there. Back to noodling.  Participants strip to the waist. Which means the sport is predominantly male.  (If I learn otherwise, I may take up the sport but only as a spectator.) Wade into the water and survey the banks until you find a tunnel into the bank.  These are always catfish lairs. (Okay, sometimes muskrat, alligator, moccasin, and snapping turtle homes.  Not an issue except in the case of muskrats which are unfriendly rodents with sharp teeth.) Here’s the good part.  You being the ‘participant,’ stick your arm into the tunnel. Best if it’s a deep tunnel so you must insert your arm up to the shoulder.  Extra points if to do so you find your head underwater.  Wiggle your fingers to look like worms or mold-activated stinkbait.  If a righteous catfish is home, this does not make the fish consider fingers dinner; it just pisses her (usually a her) off and she’ll go after the stinkbait with her only weapon – her mouth.  She’ll glom onto those fingers, then the hand, then that arm, likely swallowing it up to the elbow.  We’re talking a big catfish.  You, the sportsman then display brawn, bravery, and brains, attempting to wrestle the catfish out of her tunnel and onto the shore to display girth and ugly (not exclusively the catfish’s) to onlookers.  Success is celebrated with “Yee-haws!” and Bud Lights. This is “Noodling” or correctly, “Noodlin.”

1a But what I meant was tossing about ideas and possibilities.  When I “think,” it’s usually out-loud, complete with lip-licking and self-criticism.  This is ‘noodling’ of an entirely different sort.  Thinking, reflecting, and intelligence still questionable, and not as advanced as that necessary to deep south (and I understand as far west as Texas) catfish noodling.  (Checked with NS.  He reports the Ocmulgee is in most spots except during spring flood not deep enough to support championship-level noodling.  Right kind of murk, healthy moccasins, but shallow water.)

1b Just now considering, immediately above: ‘sane people.’  Anyone “noodling” is of questionable sanity, so Michigan may be back on the table. Gets cold there, though.  Hmm.  Winter Noodling.  I sense a new Olympic venue.  What kind of poisonous snakes do they have in Norway?  Sweden?

1c Sanity vs. Intelligence: You really want me to go there?

2 Wordplay: if you have no idea, I sense you are one of the more intelligent WP skimmers who’ve only mistakenly happened across this post.  No one is looking, you’ve not yet been seen, so hurry back through browse history, first, remembering how this happened so you don’t do it again, then to find another site to quickly visit, impressing anyone looking over your shoulder at frou-frou Coffees-R-Us.  Don’t forget to delete history.

3 Engineering Econ.  Usually by Senior year, especially if you’ve worn out the course catalog as a “mature” student and have already taken more degree-relevant graduate courses than legitimate master’s candidates, they make you take “arts” and “applied sciences” from other career paths. The likes of “Fluoroscopy as Art,” “Metallurgy Through History,” and “Iambic Pentameter in Speech Therapy.”  Such was “Engineering Economics.”  Professor was visiting from another institution of higher learning. Punishment, I suspect.  Her avowed goal was to flunk every last one of us having the audacity to take her class.  Used more calculus in that class than any of my other classes in four years, including Calculus itself.  Never did find out what got up her knickers, but she damned near did it.  Except several of us studied like Democrats at the poll registries.  Three of us aced her damned RMS-laced final.  To boot she was ugly. Not a little bit ugly, I mean a lot ugly.

Chuckling to Myself – January 18, 2021

“Don Quixote’s Entrance into the Sea” circa 1955, PSW

[Reviewing, it is obvious some could see this offensive for language or not being PC. Consider it NSFW for those reasons.]

I have to stop doing that – chuckling to myself.  I am a pompous twit.  Not all the time. Often enough to consider I should grab my brain by the seat of my trousers1 and make a few adjustments in my willingness to judge people and what people do.2 That realization amuses me.  But it’s too late to go back to the roots of the problem, my problem, to make repairs.  No one would really benefit, and likely, I’d waste a lot of time.  Time, I suspect, in relative short supply.

Of course you want a concrete example

So as not to offend or require the NSFW banner for this post, let me momentarily dismiss the really juicy examples and take one which while indefensible makes me chuckle.  Hence the blog title.  Clever dude, eh?

Lots of folks fancy themselves artists.  Illustrators, cartoonists, sculptors, painters, photographers, three-dimensional compositors, actors, mixed media geniuses, filmmakers, caricaturists, conceptualists, yadda, yadda, pardon me while I throw up.  Well, yes, writers, too.  No judgements.  Could, but not today. 

The amusement offered as a sample comes from watching, listening to, and reading “critics” of visual artists.  Specifically, art critics.  “Art” being paintings by, well, painters.  Realists, surrealists, cubists, abstractionists, modernists, muralists, taggers, deco, nouveau, pre, post, and naked impressionism, realism, surrealism.  Do you begin to get my drift?

Art critics I suspect by-and-large are not artists themselves.  Most people can’t draw a straight line or a circle unaided by a ruler or compass.  Could be wrong.  Don’t care. Irrelevant.  Art critics are masters of slinging mountains of dung and by virtue of their authority (real, but generally self-assumed) feeling they’ve said something significant.

Art goddammit, is art.  You either like a piece or you don’t.  What you think a piece is, what value or beauty lies in it, is all that matters.  It’s unimportant what the artist intended.  All the same, give a listen…

Love the use of texture here to signal transformation, transformation from the exuberant frolic of youth to the sedate calm of age.  [The artist’s paint was old; ever frugal, he wanted to use it up; it refused to be thinned to the texture he wanted.  He used what he had.  And his fingers and a putty knife.]

This constant interplay between sharp lines and blurred edges speaks to me of the struggle between what man wants to do and what he knows he must do.  [Interrupted in mid-work Monday, Senor Miquel abandoned his original crisp intent because his patron wanted the painting Tuesday for a cocktail party; it became a rush job.]

These raw, bold colors are symbolic of the rise and fall of emotion. [This is from her early years, when she’d not yet mastered the colors of her better efforts.]

Nearly imperceptible bleeding of one color unmolested through and metamorphosing into its opposite, sometimes complimentary, sometimes discordant color, is the struggle between good and bad, love and hate, and in the very end, life and death.  [Grandson came in and piddled with the canvas while Adolphina was inattentively on the terrace smoking with her latest lover.]

She is a master in deployment of vast acres of emptiness to conquer confused civilizations of color and shape, suggesting the return to original purity of soul. [What the hell was she thinking? Is this abstract spaghetti?]

Just look at the conflict raging between the vibrant female reds and the dusky male blues!  [This was Georgio’s primitive phase; he’d sworn off all colors but blue, red, and green as evils of colonialism.]

Art is interpretive.  Period. Up to you.  Art critics belong at the tail end of the unemployment line.

“E-e-e-w!  What bugs crawled into his oatmeal?” you ask.

This is all true.  I’m guilty of it.  So I chuckle.  What boobs we all are.

Other “art” forms a little tougher to poke at.  Maybe.

Also applies to written “art”

I am reminded of an anecdote.3  I wish I could cite a source. I cannot.  Let it be known this is not original…

Seems a college professor in lecture was analyzing a short story by an author who at that time rode a wave of popularity, widely considered part of literati’s elite. The professor was all atwitter as that author sat in the balcony of the lecture hall, half asleep, having agreed to deliver a post-lecture surprise reading.  Asleep? Who understands the postures of great minds at work? Or at rest?

Lecture interaction went into an aside about the meaning, the symbolism, of a particular phrase, “the inky black skies…”

Students and professor alike tossed about speculation on deep, dark symbolism.  Fear and darkness in the protagonist’s heart.  Impending personal failure.  Foretaste of tragedy.  Depths of despair before redeeming light.  The intractable forces of nature and the very soul of man.

Our professor, willing to reveal his surprise early to put debate to rest and segue into introducing the author, declared, “Well, let us ask the author exactly what the ‘inky black sky’ meant.”  Clearly addressing the question to the balcony, directing all eyes from the lower floor to that balcony, and rudely arousing the author, our professor asked, “What is the symbolism of the ‘inky black sky’ good sir?”

The author stood.  Leaning over the balcony rail, facing the lower lecture hall floor but addressing the professor, he loudly spoke sounding somewhat perturbed, “No symbolism.  Means the god damned sky was black!  Was threatening rain, you ass!”

A few words to ponder.  Authors have been known to write what they mean.  Read it, enjoy it.  If it bothers you, you don’t understand something, it may be the author meant not to have you come to a certain conclusion, the author’s conclusion, but perhaps to think, to draw the telling4 to a conclusion that best suits you.  Talking about fiction here.  Or maybe it was in fact, threatening rain.

When it comes to factual recounting, or op-ed pieces, that’s a different story, obscene pun intended.  Realize sometimes “factual reports,” and opinion underpinned by “irrefutable empirical evidence,” are at best fiction.  Non-fiction predicated on fact or fantasy, and intentionally disingenuous should teach you, encourage you to think.  If you’re bold, to ask questions.

For some of us, thinking, preliminary to asking a question, is a new experience.

I find myself chuckling again.

Writer’s skills

Most writers profess, “All writers are idiots.  Except of course, you and me.  Well, sometimes I do wonder about you!”

When a writer leaves something open to interpretation, that calls for thought on the part of the reader.  There is no right or wrong.  Too often, hidden, disguised, or underlying meanings exist only in the reader’s mind.  If obscurity was intended my friend, that is the badge of a fine author and rare, cultured skill.  If ambiguity was unintentional friend, that is the hallmark of an exceptional writer and innate, unlearnable ability.

Parting shots

Today I welcome a couple of fellow bloggers new to the list of those intrepid enough to put up with my foolishness.  I’m quite taken with their blogs.  In spwilcenspeak, they’re “good reads!” That is, what I’ve managed to make time to read so far.   Except for the fact I’ve not yet a necessary understanding of who they are, what bull snot they’ll brook, or how private they think their blogs are, I’d introduce you to them.  In time perhaps.

Visiting wag plays Wordplay

Sh-h-h!  A jolly giant of a man, an engineer, visited.  Aside from the fact he follows this blog, he’s sane.  He is well-educated in more than engineering and has a crisp and incisive sense of humor.  He watched me worry over possible “Wordplay” subjects.  I gave it up for the evening.

He asked, “If a podiatrist is a foot doctor, podiatry is foot medicine, what is ‘podiagraphic’?”

— Notes —

1 There’s a nasty and undeniable tell in that.  Don’t ask me to explain if you don’t get it.  I won’t in this particular case, even if you ask real nice.  Those unfortunate souls out there who’ve followed me any length of time (which is itself a really obscure and illogical allusion) know I am deep bordering on insane.  One or two have picked-up on it, asked questions, and I’ve answered.  A few have picked-up on it and understood, in which case, I feel for them. A few picked up on it and were scared to death, or embarrassed, or too shy to ask for explanation.  Gotta offer this for everyone, intrepid and fearful alike to ponder: The oceans are deep and scary.  We nonetheless venture out, skimming the ocean’s surfaces to harvest delectables for supper.  We might even fully immerse ourselves in those waters believing it therapeutic or pleasant, so long as we can still see to the surface or believe, need be, we can get there in a hurry.  But there’s a lot of ocean we’ve never seen and likely never will.  Is that an unfortunate waste or legitimate caution?

2 Or don’t do.  My convictions based on the egonarcistic lunacy of people.  My chagrin, and to my credit, my amusement, an audible chuckle from realizing, I am a people.

3 Original version had the “professor” a lady which as I am perceived a male chauvinist lends an air of “isn’t that often the case” to the tale.  That is frankly unfair.  I’ve known more male boobs of this water than females.  Probably because (due to my chauvinism or whatever) I’ve known more men than women in my life well enough to feel I could understand their motivation or thinking.  Let’s just stick with “college professor.”  That will placate my conservative peers without completely alienating my liberal associates. 

4 As a pretend writer, I play with words.  You’ll see me make nouns of verbs, verbs of nouns (get my drift?) create words for a purpose, which, unless you’re paying attention, are largely nonsense.  If there are words handy to my purpose, I’ll use them, if not, I’ll create what I need using real words or bits and pieces of words.  “Telling” in this case meaning a story.

Training Rabbits – January 15, 2021

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Have to hurry up.  Get this drafted so I can set it aside.  A trip to the feed store is necessary.  If they don’t have what I need, I guess I’ll stop by the grocery to pick up as many heads of lettuce as the produce manager will allow.  Everyone jittery about the need to COVID-hoard, don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea.

After two years, the kangaroos I purchased arrived. Took this long for paperwork, quarantines, and such to unwind so Fed Ex could deliver.  You didn’t know they could do that did you?1

I have a plan.  A maniacal laugh goes here, but I’m at a loss to spell it.  Training these two darlings to recognize rabbits2 as their enemies, competition for the lettuce and other munchies I’ve been feeding them, has been in progress for the last three weeks.  It’s my hope we’re ready to go by spring.

Don’t think me evil.  My new pets aren’t expected to exterminate the local rabbit population.  I’ll leave that to them.  I’d be content if Joe and Matilda just scare resident rabbits into moving back to the open fields, well-away from the subdivision and my yard.  How those rabbits vote in the next presidential election is up to them.

Been training with pictures and an old specimen from a taxidermist buddy.  Pretty certain now, my mob of western greys will think rabbits are wallabies, poachers on their turf, and kick their little cotton tails down the road.  Or, like I said, across the street.

So as far as the neighbors are concerned, Joe and Matilda are just oversized rabbits.  Already scared the hell out of the Red Tail Hawk that lives in the woods across the street. 

We don’t get stray dogs often. That’s not an issue. However, one joyfully unexpected benefit has been that local doggies, dragging their owners on leashes and considering my side yard their toilet are intimidated by my new pets.  One Doberman, poised to make a deposit last Thursday took off, if you’ll pardon the phrase, like a scalded dog, mid-poop, when it saw Joey coming to investigate.  Dobie’s owner’s feet didn’t touch ground until Dobie got home.  Everybody learning lessons here.

Wordplay follow-up

You may remember… “What single word might in a bit of wordplay be interpreted as an undressed formic quartet?”

I promised I’d deliver the answer.  Today, I decided not to.  Seems no one is interested.  Probably no one noticed. Or it was too easy, and everyone got it right away. Either case, I risk boring folks again, so I’m not gonna provide the answer.  That makes me a liar – you pick, a Repullican or Dimocrat – entirely up to you but since I’m ready to…

“Hey.  You the fella wrote that ‘Today’s Special’ blog?”

“I am.  You looking to complain of sexism, ageism, or insensitivity?”

“Nah.  I want the answer.”

“Which one of life’s mysteries you want the answer for?”

“That ‘what’s the word’ thing.”

“Nobody cares.”

“You mean nobody nailed it?”

“None of the British wordsmiths were interested.”


“You know, England.”

“What, you think me some kind of ignoramus?”

“Oh, heavens no!”

“None of them interested?”


“They read your stuff?”

“When they’re bored. Or as penance, I’m not sure which.”

“You gonna tell them anyway?”

“Might. Not sure.”

“Well can you tell me? Now?”

“You can’t wait until the next post?”


“You have a guess?”

“Nah. What’s the word?”

“It’s in the post.”

“Saw that.  Couldn’t find that either.”

“It’s there.”

“Just tell me.”

“How about you figure it out?”

“Just want the answer.”

“You can do this.”

“This be quick?”

“Sure.  Mind if I write this down?”


“This conversation.”


“Explain it to both of my followers.”

“Be okay, I guess.”

“Let’s do it one word at a time.”


“What’s a word for ‘undressed’?”


“No. Undressed.”


“No. Undressed.”


“Right. Formic?”


“Yes. Formic.”

“Some kinda acid?”

“Yes, but no. Formic.”

“Hmm.  Ants?”

“Right. Quartet?”


“No. Quartet.”

“Four Tops.”

“No. One word. Quartet.”


“Right.  Bare Ants Four. What’s that?”

“No clue.”

“Try, ants. Four. Bare.”


“Four Bare Ants?”

“Four bare ants?”



“No. Say Four, bare, ants. Quickly.”




“Yup. That’s it.”

“That’s stupid.”

“Didn’t say it made sense.  It’s a game.”

Back to work

My visitor left.  Disappointed, I think.  That dispensed with, I went back to work.  Strategizing.  Good thing.  I’ve determined it’s in the best interests of all concerned that I stick to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday post schedule.  I mean, I’m all out of doggie pics.  Looked through my photo archives and see where I don’t have any pictures of kitties doing tricks or looking kitty-cute.  Don’t hammer me because I posted the “rabbit” carny pose.  That’s legit.

I mean I might have to start writing stuff of substance.  Probably should get back to the commercial stuff anyway.  Looked into the beaten-to-death “Working” folder and thought it’s time to…


“You, again!  What do you want now?”

“I looked for that “vision” piece.”

“Did you like it?”

“Couldn’t find it?”

“Off the home page.  In ‘Writing.’  Under ‘Flash Fiction.’”

“You needa put a link to it in your post.”


“Why not?  Make it easy.”

“Figure if you’re interested, you’ll find it.”


“Not quantum physics. Navigate.”

“Too much trouble.”

“Easy as youboob and facepages.”

“That’s work.  Make it easy.”

“Not gonna.”

Good thing he left.  He’d have stayed, and I continued transcribing our exchange, I’d have to dig up the “NSFW” logo.

If he looks for that piece and he finds it, he won’t like it.  It’s flash, but long flash, almost one thousand words.  Doesn’t look so bad spelled-out. Write it as ‘1000 words,’ or worse, ‘1,000 words,’ now that looks to be too much.

Maybe I ought to condense it.  You know, down to two hundred-fifty words.  Then to one hundred. Nope.  Not a story you want to leave readers to imagine.  Has a specific point, a surprise ending.  Sorta.

— Notes —

1 Don’t be silly.  Of course, they don’t deliver kangaroos. Do they?

2 If you’ve followed my posts any length of time (only been here now eight months) especially if you’ve (unlike my afternoon visitor) mindlessly wandered my creative pieces, you know I’ve a running territorial conflict with the local varmint population. Because the hood is home to several PETA-types and because the Boss monitors my outdoor activities, I’ve resorted to various methods to discourage emigration of former woods and grassland denizens into my tiny prairie.  Varmints presently hold a numerical advantage.  Misguided types don’t allow nature’s forces to play out according to the original plan.  They demand metro agencies remove, for example, foxes from our landscape.  In the name of orderliness, they require the city eliminate natural “wild” perimeter refuges where hawks, falcons, owls, and snakes would take up residence.  Natural predators for squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, possums, raccoons, and froufrou doggies are unwelcome.  I merely seek balance.

Today’s Special – January 13, 2021

Quite chilly here this morning.  Snow icing rooftops in the hood, every house a gingerbread house.  Not to worry over too much sugar; it’s the thinnest veneer.  Overcast skies continue to spritz occasional flakes. Not winter by “up north” standards, but still chilly enough to show you your breath as you go about odd outside chores, make you appreciate a heavy jacket and watchman’s cap.

What seems to me hesitant flakes intermittently falling may be my eyebones playing tricks on me.  My eyebones and my puny brain’s interpretation of collected data they relay to it are still not exactly one hundred percent considering recent, um, adjustments.

Which leads me to explain…

Today’s special

Mostly advancing age recently treated me to eye surgery.  Two surgeries.  On sale, pretty much buy one, get one.  Cataracts.  For a fact, not on a par with vision difficulty others experience.  Nonetheless, two months of prelim-to-post-op hoops and hurdles and discussion of possibilities, highly unlikely of course, made me consider less-than pleasant outcomes.

Readers know my mind doesn’t work like most everyone else’s.  Naturally, several scenarios mentally played-out.  Again, naturally, not content with what was, “what if” and “just suppose” materialized.  A short story, fiction and flash of the under-one-thousand words category wrote itself.  It subsequently required more revision and self-censoring than I particularly care for.

Then began social editing.  That still may be the reason I chuck it all in.  Toss in the towel as it were.  Comes a point, you can’t say nothing about nothing.  If “we,” society, maintain our present course. Whatever you say, or write, someone, somewhere will take offense, suffer hurt feelings, or consider you a radical, a monster, an unfeeling boob.  Unless you smart-up, swap your membership card for one issued by the religion presently (we are led to believe) popular, righteous, and infallible.  Refuse, you may be identified as a Repullican or worse,1 censured, outcast, and brought up on some trumped-up charge.

Sigh.  Life, Sally, ain’t all grins and giggles.  Somewhere, someone will feel cosmic indignation that your poem declared the sun a coward, hiding behind the clouds of momma’s apron. Dasn’t do things like that.

Off track.

Other folks I know faced and still deal with vision problems.  I’m now able to understand a bit more.  A little bit more. The volunteer story, “Corrected Vision” is not a poke, a slight, or insensitivity.  It is simply a piece of speculative fiction born out of my own experience.  If you for one, feel it might cause you distress in any way, as it involves vision difficulties, don’t go looking for it.

Go looking for it?  Yup. I’m not even gonna post a link.  You’re interested, you must go find it. Then, if you’re offended in any way, it’s your fault.

It’s a little odd that a real horse’s patootie2 should be concerned with inadvertently offending someone or hurting their feelings.  But that’s the way it is.  It may be a flaw I should work to overcome. Long shot, but it may mean that there’s a decent individual somewhere inside this old curmudgeon.  Not likely, but possible. At times it’s a pain in this horse’s patootie.


What single word might in a bit of wordplay be interpreted as an undressed formic quartet?

Some clever wordsmiths out there might glom onto an answer quickly.  Poemiticians especially, and others with minds slightly askew who routinely contort words.  Maybe not.  No answer here in this post, so as not to spoil it for my other two readers.3

On the odd chance no one blurts out an answer in comments, I’ll deliver my answer in my next post.  Tomorrow or the next day.  Or the next.

Excuse me.  I must go wax my snow shovel.

— Notes —

1 Not sure there is a worse than Repullican.  Fashionably at present worse than being a liar, a thief, influence-peddler, senile old bat, a womanizing sleepy old gaff, crazy misguided youth, condescending witch, or lawless brick shopper.  No, now, wait, see what you done?  You’ve caused me to make some Repullican’s feelings hurt. Um, sense that may be the only social group you can impugn with immunity.  Perhaps I’ll be called in and awarded a medal for advancing the cause of national serfdom.

2 Horse’s patootie. Impolitely, a horse’s ass.

3 Okay. I hear someone complain they have COVID-clearance to travel to Topeka to visit Aunt Agatha.  That’s two weeks out and two weeks back.  They don’t have a reader app on their cell.  Auntie Agg doesn’t do the computer thing. They don’t want to be burdened with reading all my posts between the time they leave and when they return. They ask a bit of forbearance on my part, that I relax the rules for this blog adjunct, providing the answer for those who cannot quickly figure it out.  Remaining somewhat recalcitrant, I’ll go this far: I’ll embed the answer somewhere in this post.  Now it’s an egg hunt.

Spoon Conundrum – January 11, 2021

Shortly, we will delve into high science.  If you are not scientifically oriented or do not understand that all scientific proofs are based upon all preceding proofs1, skip this post as it rates an NSFW2 alert.

The carny barker picture above illustrates today’s subject.  Sadly, no bananas were available facilitating “banana for size.”  Editorial staff thought to use an elephant but our elephant, Reynaldo, is on maternity leave.   Go ahead, snicker.  You know what it costs to lease an elephant for a photo shoot?

Science versus Math

If you are still reading, you surely love high science.  Here at spwilcenwrites, we do too.  Not so much Math.3  Math is not science.  I mean you can see science, but you can’t see Math.  Sure, one apple plus two oranges equal three fruits but after that all Math becomes quite abstract.  Pi?  It’s not even spelled correctly. Cosine? What’s a “cosine”?  Do sines always work in pairs, hence they cooperatively sine?  Irrational numbers?  As far as I’m concerned, all Math after one thousand dollars is irrational. Political Math is science fiction.  Military Math is high comedy.

You want further proof of Math’s inconsistency?  Okay, consider this: Every time a mathematician building a theory’s equation finds it doesn’t make sense, he4 comes up with a “constant” or “variable,” named after himself usually.  This makes it all right.  Somehow.  How?  Why, look at the Swartzhaggen Constant!

Science?  You can see ScienceSomeone suggests a speeding bullet (or freight train) will do thus and so because of gravity and this force and that force, you can see that.  Stars and planets? You can see them. You see genetics at work.5

But can you see five?  You can see five apples.  Or so we understand.  We see apples.  We are left to take someone’s word that is the embodiment of five.  It’s not.  It’s apples.  You can eat pie.  What can you do with pi?  Anyone ever excitedly tell you they just saw a Planck’s Constant?  Anyone ever held a billion anything in his hands or in a dumptruck?6

Yes, you have the constant/variable thing at work in Science.  That’s an understandable corruption in Science because scientists are too busy to come up with an alternative to Math, so using what exists, they’ve fallen into the trap of taking shortcuts with Smith’s Constant, Vincent’s Variable, Connie’s Coefficient, and Penelope’s Persistence Equivalence.7

Preliminaries dispensed, now let’s get to it

Just wanted you to understand what follows is a serious matter.  Likely some high Science is necessary.  Lacking an alternative pseudo-science, we may refer to numbers but that’s only in the counting sense.  No arctangents or hyperbolas or any such thing, I promise.  

There is a drawer in the Chez Spwilcen kitchen.  We call it “the silverware drawer.”  It holds no silver, only stainless steel daily-use eating tools.  For neatness, there’s a bamboo (I suppose) tray-like thing to keep spoons, forks, and knives separate.  For deployment speed when there’s an eating emergency.  So as not to sit down to a bowl of borsch only to find you are armed with a fork.

There are compartments in the tray for other than spoons, forks, and knives, relegated to eating tools I cannot name.  We’re not concerned with those tools or the trays they reside in.  We’re not concerned with forks, or knives either.  We’re not actually concerned with those “compartments” except, I suspect, they may play a role in solving the mystery I now describe.

Spoon and fork tools come in two sizes.  I do not understand.  Rarely are the larger spoons used as eating tools.  No one uses the big spoons, not even big men who dine with us now and again.8  I have a blushing familiarity with “sized” forks.  For reasons unclear to me, I am often given both a large and small fork when I sit to eat. It’s generally not a two-handed affair, and if it were that does not explain the size disparity.

There is a reason for the fork size difference I am sure.  When I start my meal with the larger fork, others at the table frown at me for an inappropriate choice.  I have committed a faux pas?  Perhaps you are supposed to practice with the smaller fork before moving on to the larger one?

Forks are not named or at least I have not been informed of their names, perhaps why I error often in my fork selection.  On the other hand, spoons require names.  Rarely both placed on the table together, large and small spoons are inappropriately named “tablespoon” and “teaspoon.”9

Spoon Math

Purchase of the eating tool set remains vivid in my memory, though it was years ago.  In the toolbox when purchased were sixteen tablespoons and sixteen teaspoons.  Grasp that abstract concept.

Spoon Science

Over the years I have observed a strange phenomenon.  Spoon populations have changed.  There are now more tablespoons than teaspoons.  Tablefork and teafork populations have remained constant.  

Spoon census number are not available.  My hesitation is for fear numbers required may become abstract, minimally, “imaginary.”  Undeniably more than sixteen tablespoons hide in the silverware drawer.  There is no noticeable decrease in teaspoon numbers but again, metrics do not exist.  Which immediately discounts my first supposition on the tablespoon population rise:

Teaspoons have not “matured” to become tablespoons.  It was at first a reasonable assumption.  Given apparent stability in teaspoon numbers it is unlikely.

Tablespoon village residents are of the same ethnicity.  Emigration is not at play.

Procreation is doubtful.  Of course, that assumes teaspoons are immature tablespoons.  That suggests at least a momentary rise in the number of teaspoons.  None is reportable.

Teaspoons are known to vault separating walls from the teaspoon village into the tablespoon village. It is not a matter of teaspoons hiding below tablespoons giving the appearance of tablespoon excess.  Stray teaspoons are diligently returned to their proper place.

There have been no additional stainless purchases.  Witness stable knife and fork (big and small) populations.

Playful pranksters are not to blame.  My unwillingness to brook such foolishness is legend.  No family member would risk my wrath.  Fewer friends and neighbors would dare such.

Finally, almost as an aside, why are tea and table fork populations stable unlike spoon populations?  Are forks incapable of offspring, mutation, spontaneous generation, and immigration?

Maths would tell me only that spoon populations have changed.  I can see that, underlining somewhat another Math shortcoming.  I am left then, to appeal to the Sciences for explanation of this population change.

Consider this an appeal to WordPress scientists.  Not coming to an understanding of this phenomenon, thereby able to control the situation, it may soon be necessary to lease space in the “junk drawer” to accommodate surplus tablespoons.

— Notes –

1 It is necessary to remind skeptics in the audience of the original elemental proof: “Because I said so.”  Republicans have difficulty with this.  Democrats not so much. But it remains: all modern scientific proofs are built upon this ancient and irrefutable postulate.

2 NSFW: Non-Scientific Folks be Wary.

3 I’ve noticed people in some countries call Mathematics “Maths.”  Not “Math,” “Maths.”  Mathematic study is fairly-well a progression.  It starts with one, two, you know the drill.  That is followed by truly practical Math, good stuff: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  After that, Math crosses into absurd, pseudo-sciences like trigonometry, geometry, calculus, and certifiably insane Fibonacci-Turin-Einstein-ish stuff.  Math is a progression. In college I was thrilled completing fourth year calculus. That had to be the end of it, capstone as it were.   Nope.  Someone read my transcript, saw “computer science” and sent me back for Advanced Algebra, Matrix Mathematics, and two other “Math” studies I’ve managed to erase from memory.  By then fluent in foreign language Mathematics like Octal, Hexadecimal, and regional dialects like ASCII and EBCDIC, in retrospect, I can tell you all that Math was for nothing. Not once in almost fifty years as a computist was any “advanced” Mathematics necessary.  Working some heavy-duty scientific computing on Big Bertha machines, the most complex Math I ever needed was for self-correcting exponentially smoothed forecasting.  Now I am led to understand there are other Maths out there?

4 Don’t start in with that him/her, he/she Bull Schlock. (Love to use the real words but editing staff won’t allow that except for emergencies.  I asked.  This is not an emergency.)  If you are solidly convinced language needs to be gender neutral, that that effort demands more attention than curing cancer or the common cold or stabilizing the price of a dozen eggs, get back to me when you have a workable, easily remembered solution that everyone is on board with.  I suggest the solution will make writing and speaking, in English at least, altogether too difficult for the average person.  (Perdaughter?) English is already a huge stretch for eighty percent of (USofA) Americans.  Make English any more complicated, you stand to befuddle probably ninety percent of English-speaking populations worldwide.  Further proof? Italian and French, for example went the other way insisting virtually every ‘thing’ and even emotions have gender. Small wonder Italian and French (persons/perdaughters) are the only people understanding, respectively Italian and French.  Italian (m)table and (f)chair?  French (m)book and (f)table?  I won’t even suggest what too many little white pills in the morning would let a creative writer do with that.  Going the other way – to gender neutral language – will be at least for the next five hundred years, mass confusion. After that though, androgyny will be supreme, so it could work out well. Because I’m tired of typing, I’m going to just stick with the first gender that naturally comes to mind for the rest of this discussion.

5 My editor removed this note.  Said people in the state of Alabama would take offense.

6 Even politicians and other government employees, among the stupidest people on the planet, know there is no such thing as a billion or a trillion.  They ever send a billion dollars anywhere? Nope.  They promise constituents and each other a billion this or a trillion that with a single piece of paper.  If that.  It’s usually just words, which is just hot air, which politicians know a lot about.

7 Penelope’s Persistence Equivalence, which no one noticed until recently, in equations abbreviates to PPE.  Lawsuits are pending, to force “mask” profiteers to find a new acronym.  Too, all the neat Hebrew and Greek letters have already been scarfed-up, so a new career path opens-up: symbol design; if you know Sanskrit, your career is assured.

8 Pre-COVID but of course.

9 Neither tablespoons (the larger of the two) nor teaspoons (the smaller) are tablespoon or teaspoon measures.  Metrics show this.  At a loss to explain arbitrary nomenclature, let us accept it to not delay scientific pursuit. Forks are not called tableforks and teaforks. Another mystery but this pales compared to the larger one.

Confusions – January 10, 2021

Laying aside stressful concerns

Puttering away at mindless but relaxing chores outside in brisk wintery weather is good for me.

Mindless chores do take the tiniest bit of attention.  Big issue thoughts are constantly interrupted to pay attention to what I’m doing.  Big issues get lost.

The past election.  Stressful.  There’s not much hope for significant change for the better.  Not until overriding problems of idiocy and complacency of the general population are remedied.  Until that happens the best we can hope for is that things do not get worse. Set aside.

Corruption in government.  If there is no truth in accusations, embrace investigation and be done with it instead of hiding behind constant denial. Calling someone else a liar doesn’t guarantee you are not yourself a liar, either.  Remove the need for denial.  Show your accusers as the idiots you declare them to be.  Set aside.

American businesses’ willingness to give executives outlandish salaries, bonuses, and perks, then putting-up with immoral and unethical methods and results without imposing penalties.  What’s that all about?  How’d that happen?  The man sells horsemeat burgers: go down the street to another vendor.  Unless you like horsemeat. Set aside.

Racial and gender prejudice and entitlement lunacy.  Set aside.

Lawlessness.  Set aside.

You hit me, that’s okay.  I hit you, that’s assault.  Huh? Set aside.

Cancer.  Diabetes.  Athlete’s foot.  Set aside.

Set aside.  Not forgotten.  Just set aside to focus on raking leaves, trimming brush, straightening garage workspace.

Focus on new “important” things

Puttering away at mindless but relaxing chores outside in brisk wintery weather is bad for me.

My mind freewheels on insane wonderings.  Finding nothing amusing in an old guy way, it examines simple things until it discovers they are in fact not simple.

Why is it I can travel west from Kansas City, Mississippi and assuming superpowers allowing me to cross mountains, oceans, and countries hostile to outsiders, travel west forever?  Yet travelling north from Chicago, Arkansas, once reaching the North Pole (magnetic or otherwise) any direction I head is “south”?  Up for review.

If it is summer here and winter in the southern hemisphere, why aren’t their month names six months out from northern hemisphere months?  Snow in July?  Or is it the northern hemisphere is wrong?  Is there a wrong?  Up for review.

Why hasn’t congress (I refuse to give it a capital “c”) awarded millions of dollars to fund scientific research to settle the over-the-top/from-behind toilet-paper mounting dispute?  Democrats, now with an ironclad grip on legislative power will quickly run out of important issues to legislate.  Seems a moral obligation.  Better get with it. Don’t, congress will legislate taxes on air. They can’t address air quality, but they sure as shooting can tax tax you for using it, which regulates the amount of air you can economically use. See where California, that national trendsetter, has already done that. Way to go, lefties. Set aside.

What the hell is wrong with old people?  How can they bemoan the manner of dress of youth when they themselves consider dirty, ill-fitting sweatpants, dirty torn tees, and house slippers appropriate Wal-Mart attire?  Set aside.

Whyizit chicken wings and ribeye steak that used to be cheap food, now cost, pardon the near pun, an arm and a leg?  Can’t blame it all on the yuppies.  Oh, in large part maybe.  Like why tennis shoes cost over a hundred dollars because they aren’t tennis shoes anymore, but cross-trainers, running shoes, and deck shoes.  Set aside.

How come, Momma, you insist your child be encouraged to question what gender s/he wants to be, but declare Tom Sawyer unsuitable for little eyes and minds?  Set aside.


Set aside.  You see what I saw?  Went from inane to suddenly serious again.  Gonna go inside and get a cup of coffee.  Warm my nose.  Call Jim Bob down to the mental health center.  See can’t he run me up on the rack and see where my mental governor is broke.

Well, coffee sounds good.  Let’s start there.

Gonna Rain – January 8, 2021

Folks took it in stride the first month without rain in Baugus County.  The second month that’s all anyone talked about.  People stopped talking about it the third month.  Looked like a bona fide drought. 

We keep the dealership garage open late Fridays.  Tommy Jancock came into the garage about closing time.  Tommy strikes folks as simple.  He’s not.  Considering what he’s been through, he does well, provides for himself.  Runs errands for folks in town.  Does heavy garden work.  Works hourly for anyone needing help.  Tommy’s muscle for older folks, businessmen, and farmers.  Works cheap, works hard, works good.  

Clarice, my office manager and cashier had already gone home.  I ducked into the office when Tommy walked in.

“Here for Ms. Waters’ car,” Tommy announced.

“All ready to go Tommy.  Tell Ms. Waters, she’s good for another five thousand miles.”

“Yes sir.”

“Hot eh, Tommy?”

“Yes sir, but it’s gonna rain.”

“Weathermen don’t think so.”

“Got clouds.”

“Been cloudy every evening for two weeks.  We have any rain yet?”

“No sir.”

“Weathermen say wrong kind of clouds.”

“Gonna rain.”

“What makes you think so?”

“Can feel it.”

“Capitol City Weathermen say the air and humidity ain’t right.  They say as much chance of snow as rain.”

“Too hot for snow.”

“Know that Tommy.  Weathermen are making a point.”

“Gonna rain.”

We’d worn the subject out.  Tommy didn’t talk long about much.  The accident that took his folks cause for that mostly, more I think than the fact the same accident left him, well, slow.  I gave him the keys to Ms. Waters’ Buick. 

The mechanics hanging around waiting for dusk and cooler air before heading home spoke briefly with Tommy, then left themselves.  After closing the showroom, I piddled in the office until I heard Norman, my shop foreman, start the overhead doors rumbling closed.

“All locked up! Heading out!” yelled Norman as he passed the office.

After setting the alarm, pulling the side door closed, hearing the lock snap shut, I stepped into the evening air. 

And into the rain.

Odds & Ends – January 7, 2021


Looking for a piece born, kicked around, and rejected sometime between May and June of last year, I stumbled across a piece I published on another site.  Wandering around the archives, I often get lost that way.  There’s not a thumb big enough to hold my place while I explore things unrelated to the object of my search.  Things, up to that point I’d forgotten.

I see a shiny object, I have to pick it up and give it a good look.  You’ve done the same. Thinking just now, why didn’t this receive better press? Does it need rework? 

This one didn’t get good press because I clearly announced to my “peers” it was a less-than subtle reminder to spend more energy prior to “publishing” on the site.  Save “Streams of Consciousness,” that old site was not a blog.  Even then, not an excuse.  As bloggers, we tend to (we shouldn’t) pay less attention to flicking-off bits of dust, polishing murky spots, and insuring accurate perspective.  Some there on that site probably took it personally (some should have, it was intended that way) and then took offense.  It wasn’t the first time I’d chastised my peers – a task I always undertake with a healthy dose of self-deprecation.

Here’s the piece. Unedited.  What do you think?

Personal Precepts

Write like it’s important, like it matters.  It is, and it does.
Write like someone depends on you, they crave your words.  They do, they might.

Edit like there’s no tomorrow.  There’s not.
Edit like it doesn’t hurt.  Expect it to.

Revise like you erred.  You did.  Fix it.
Revise for the precise word.  It exists.  Find it.

Read aloud like a love song to yourself.  It should be.
Read with meaning.  If there is none, ask why?

Listen to what you wrote.  More with heart than ears.
Listen to the words’ music.  Melodies of color, texture, and emotion.

Wait, if it’s not ready, for it to mature.  It will.  So will you.
Wait on beginning and ending suns.  They herald new passions.

Watch your audience. Their eyes will say more than their mouths.
Watch for a reader’s hesitance.  Seen, you missed the mark.

Explain only if asked.  You might be, but don’t expect it.
Explain when asked, only what you said.  Not what it means.

Apologize only for punctuation.  But try; commas are seldom fatal.
Apologize otherwise for nothing.  It’s your soul and your truth.

Tolerate failure.  It foreshadows success.
Tolerate imperfection. It is an itch to scratch.

Trash the whole epic. Often that’s noble.
Trash self-doubt.  If you have no faith, no one does.

Let your characters talk to you.  They will write your story.
Let your story embrace your moral.  All three of you will be stronger.

I often ignore these reminders.  It shows.

© SPWilcen 2020 on Prose 7/2/2020

Attributable quotes?

The key there was the word ‘fatal.’  I went there recalling an old rip of something attributed to Robert Fulghum: “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.

Which goes back to Alexander Wm Kinglake and beyond.

Which likely goes back to biblical reference as suggested by this resource, and is well documented here.

What I sought was in another folder, “Scratchpad,” much like my recently purged WordPress “Pending” folder. Moldering in a section entitled “Non sequitur” under the heading, “On Second Thought.”

So I offer from my notes of May 2020 something I believe has stronger impact:

Sticks and stones may break some bones, but words is always fatal.

In parting

There were several other unmounted gems there with “sticks and stones.” For example:

Bubba Chester was fond of saying,

   “You can fool some folks all the time, but you can’t fool all the folks none of the time, accounta some them summiches is onto ya every time.”

I strongly suspect Bubba might have attributed that to Jacques Abadie in a smoother form circa 1684, but in so doing, his statement would lose some of its piquancy.  A staunch Democrat, Bubba certainly wouldn’t, as many do, credit Abe Lincoln.

I realize the thread runs thin in “all the folks none of the time.”  Maybe shoulda been “all the folks much of the time.” If you agree, don’t fault me.  Take it up with Bubba.

Rantless Ramble – January 6, 2021

Twelfth Night

We’ve been blessed or cursed1 by unseasonably mild weather this last week.  Christmas Eve, it snowed.  Not Michigan, Dakota, or Buffalo snow, but a decent snow worthy of Currier and Ives.  Since then, we’ve enjoyed a few overnight lows down as far as twenty,2 a few days with mid-thirty high temperatures, and many days in the high sixties and even broadsiding seventy.2  Not usual at all.

Not immune to a spot of brisk but nice weather, I played hooky from the keyboard today, for the second day running, knowing I had a Wednesday post due and an (intentionally) empty “Blog subjects” folder. Rationalizing, while I’m clearing and composting pineapple sage plants, etcetera, etcetera, a brilliant idea will come to me.  Unh, yeah.  But, unh, nope.

Too, with my doctor’s blessing, and steroid therapy at last completed I’ve been slowly building-up to my full workout routine. Save I’m not running quite the full torture, today was the first day I left nothing out.  Not a workout rube, I am nonetheless forced to admit I have muscles hurting in places I forgot I had muscles.

A full workout and an afternoon doing fall(ish) garden chores have me ready to take a hot shower and tuck it in for the evening. 

So there will be no blog for January 6, 2021.  I apologize.

Serious question on questions

Several survey sites solicit my input on occasion.  Admit it, you feel sorry for them, don’t you?  Some of the surveys are horribly written.  That aside, one question still amazes me.  This question, with minor variations, appears in well-composed and poorly composed surveys alike.  Has to do with the old taboo, race determination. Or ethnicity, or whatever is the currently acceptable description. Regardless of how you answer the general ethnic question, surveys invariably ask in the next question (on a new page) if you are of Latino descent.

Curious, I tried other than “Caucasian” for my lead-up reply and was still directed to the follow-up. Okay, fine, but the follow-on question further asks if you are Latino to declare your country of origin.  If I were Latino, and say for example, a second generation or more American citizen, I would be a bit offended.  Why is this important?

Ignorance wants me to presume someone in Big Brother’s wheelhouse is watching, collecting all the survey answers.  Looking, one suspects, to determine by country how many Latinos consider each the soil of their ethnic roots.  Is that to reimburse these countries for the citizens they lost?  Or is it to send these countries invoices for making room for their expatriates?  Either way, the line of questioning is offensive.  And I’m not Latino.

If my ethnic roots are Purplish, why do surveys not ask me what country my Purplish forefathers called home?  Pinks and Greens should be righteously disturbed too.  For a country looking to eradicate racism and ethnocentricism, seems our efforts only exacerbate the problem.

If you will excuse me, I’m off to find my analgesic balm.

1 Blessed that there’s time to finish-up outside chores left incomplete when winter rains started. Cursed in that without some good cold to reduce insect populations we’re going to have a buggy spring. Further, that spring may be late because, you know, there is an allotment of cold and snow coming – it happens every year; we either take it when it makes sense, or we let it surprise us come spring after we’ve transplanted seedlings or bedded cool tolerant seeds.  Snow looks good on a pine seedling.  Not so much on a tomato transplant.

2 Twenty Fahrenheit is almost minus seven Celsius.  Seventy F is twenty-one and loose change C.

3 This note refers to and explains or expands upon nothing.