Blowin’ in the Wind

The two ash trees in our backyard were absolutely gorgeous this Fall, after shading us all summer like the botanic troupers they are. With our mild weather, the leaves remained in place for weeks. But the honeymoon is over. Those leaves are now on the ground. They cannot stay.

If I leave them there, the breezes will not move them onto my neighbor’s property (I have always liked the sound of that) because our yard is enclosed by a five-foot tall fence. What they will do is congregate along the fence on the eastern side in unsightly and mouldering piles. So that was out.

There have been years when raking and bagging them was the thing to do. Until my back started aching just thinking about rakes as a species, and I began to look for other solutions.

Next I tried mulching them with the lawn mower, which was fine as long as you didn’t mind stopping and emptying that collection bag every twelve feet. Also, it seemed that everything I am allergic to was contained in that bag, so that each emptying was accompanied by a tsunami of sneezes.

Finally I came ’round to using a leaf blower. I purchased an electric version and it works very well. In fact, blasting those leaves into piles is almost (not quite … I have not completely lost my mind) fun. Just slapping that battery on, pulling the trigger, and wading into them has been my go-to method for three years now.

My next step will be to find some slightly dim but strapping young lad walking on the path that goes by the house and try to pull off the Tom Sawyer Gambit. That’s the one where I regale him with the joys of using a leaf blower and offer to let him take a turn if he is careful. Then I could sit back and supervise, which is where my strengths really lie.

Tom Sawyer, by Rush


From The New Yorker


At last we have it. The electric car that will expose the gasbags, the drugstore cowboys, the sitters on the fence once and for all. There is no longer any excuse to not drive an electric car. How can I make such a bald statement? Because on Wednesday, dear readers, Rolls-Royce unveiled the Spectre. The first all-electric vehicle from that company.

It is said that the starting price is only $413,ooo, but by the time you add the tea tables, modify the walnut dash to suit you, and finish decorating the servant’s quarters in the boot, it will undoubtedly be a bit more than that. But if you were avoiding going electric, and have been using as an excuse that the previously available models just didn’t do it for you, you are now outed. Exposed. You have nowhere to hide.

Pony up the 500 grand or be revealed for the poser that you are.


Over a lifetime I have made numerous contributions to the Make Stephen King Even Wealthier campaign by purchasing and reading his books. I’ve lost track of just how many. Mostly they are not what you might call great literature, but also mostly they are entertaining, can be read on any longish airplane flight, and each one contains handfuls of astute observations on the human condition. What I have also found charming is King himself, and his lack of pretentiousness.

I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.

Stephen king

This past month I went back to the extensive list of novels he has written and read The Green Mile for the first time. I had seen the movie back in the 90s somewhere, but never picked up the book. For myself, I think it is the best thing he’s done. A mixture of horror and magical thinking that also evokes a time and place that is completely foreign to me. Think: death row in a small southern prison during the Great Depression.

I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.

Stephen King

As long as Mr. King keeps writing books I’ll probably keep reading them. I’m not proud, either. I even forgive him the gross-outs, although they are not my favorite parts.

But if you want your mind boggled, here’s a stat for you. As of today there have been 51 movies made from short stories or novels he has written. Fifty-one, including Carrie, The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, and one of my flat-out favorite films of them all – Stand By Me.

Fifty-one … gawd.


From The New Yorker


Daughter Kari sent along a link to a longer video recorded of Richard and Linda Thompson, which must have been done shortly before their marriage fell apart. The video quality is not of the best, but the performances come through beautifully. Of course this pair should have stayed together if for no other reason than I wanted them to, but they didn’t and that’s all there is to that.

Music is such an interesting thing. I play no instrument, know nothing of music theory, could not tell a glissando from a turkey leg even if I was threatened with defenestration. But I am one of what I suspect is a large cohort of people whose life is punctuated by times that music helped get me through.

Music can make me cry for no apparent reason, stir up hormones that might be better left unstirred, and if for some cosmically inexplicable reason I were ever sent into battle I would do it if I could have a bagpipe player to walk behind me to fire up what specks of courage I might muster.

As when the tune Highland Laddie was played by Private Bill Millin on Sword Beach on June 6, 1944, during the invasion of Normandy. There is a statue of him there now, kilt and all, to commemorate his deed.


Legend has it that the German snipers didn’t shoot at Millin even as his comrades fell all around him. They thought he was crazy.

Highland Laddie, by The Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders


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