Thursday, January 28, 2010

Does somebody just not get it?

Breaking news : J. D. Salinger has died at age 91.

His somewhat controversial life is not terribly interesting to me. It hasn't spoiled Catcher in the Rye, which remains one of my all-time favorite books. Whatever his character flaws, a jerk can write a very good, touching book.

This is my copy, acquired in hardcover for durability, and with each of the three days over which the story takes place marked on the bottom page edges. (It's something I do when the days, or other calendar increments, over which a story takes place interest me. On my copy of Gone with the Wind, I can flip right to a particular year - 1866? 1871? Quick and easy.)

I was no English major. I've analyzed a little poetry and very few novels and have more of a plays-by-ear than a reads-music approach to interpreting a book, but the author of this article made me grind my teeth when he parroted the requisite "Americans are so shallow" explanation for Catcher in the Rye's popularity:
Decades after publication, the book remains a defining expression of that most American of dreams: to never grow up.
Am I just literature-illiterate, or is this absolute bull?

Holden Caulfield does not idealize childhood one bit, much less want to stay in its powerless state. He hates bull, not adults or adulthood per se.

He certainly thinks children haven't learned phoniness yet, but I see no indication that he thinks staying a child is the solution to anything.

The title of the book -- hello? -- is about his wanting to protect children.

A. That means they need protecting. Not from growing up, but from the things that can happen to them as children. They don't know enough to avoid running off of cliffs.

B. He wants to be their protector. That's not the role of a child.

It isn't just naïveté about dangers like cliffs that makes childhood a hazardous time. There are also things that come and get you whether you're careful or not. Are we, like, forgetting that Holden was a kid himself, when his beloved brother Allie died? And he slept in the garage and smashed all the windows? Holden is under no illusions whatsoever that childhood is this innocent time untouched by life's horrors.

Holden doesn't want to take the growing-up out of life's process. He wants to take the phoniness out of being a grownup.

I know this article's author isn't the only one. I've heard it before, the interpretation of Catcher in the Rye as some kind of hymn to the Peter Pan syndrome. I couldn't tell you where; I never paid much attention, but somehow, today, it seemed too stupid and galled me. I'll cheerfully ream any idiocy in American culture, but loving this book is, to me, one example of readers having good taste, even if there are far too many examples of their having bad taste.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm meant for better things.

The rest of you are welcome to stay out there in the wild. Enjoy the next Arctic Blast. Frankly, I can do better.

I've found a lovely warm garage. They didn't even notice me moving in.

They even run a space heater in the little foyer that opens into it, but the bourgeois cat who lives here needs it more than I do. I just hunker down out here in the garage itself, among all these boxes and pieces of furniture, and nobody knows I'm here. Seriously, they have NO idea how long I've been in residence. I tolerate the cat, who's a grouch but who is the reason for the endless supply of fresh water and Vibrant Maturity [tm], so I don't quibble.

That Vibrant Maturity is good stuff, man.

The people who run this place are dolts. There's nothing subtle about them. As usual, they've turned out the lights, and clunked back upstairs, making it abundantly clear that they're out of here for the night, and they even put out an extra bowl of food. So now I can just sashay out and help myse--

Oh $#!t.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I almost never catch good action shots, so this is a rarity. Zooming, as usual, fuzzes out the image somewhat, but it was still cool to catch these guys in flight.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It pays to be well-behaved

There's a new TV show that I am not allowed to watch. OK, not really, but whenever a promo for it comes on, Larry says firmly, "You can't watch that," and I whine appropriately: "You never let me have any fun."

Howe and Howe Tech is about these two guys who build heavy duty vehicles, and Larry is afraid that I might learn too much from it. A working tank, in my hands, would be ... trouble.

But not really for the reason he thinks. Sure, it would be tempting to ... to not have to yield to certain other drivers out there. You know what I mean. The ones in the towering SUV's, careening around you while on the cell phone, who endanger your life. The idiots who cut you off, or take your parking space or who, on a little narrow road, come so close to center to turn left that they block the road so no one can turn in. A tank would be real handy at times, and the temptation would be hard to resist.

This footage ...

has run a bazillion times on Discovery, but the first time I saw it, I was far too enamored of it, and he's never forgotten that.

But I am actually lucid at times and know that avoiding points on my driver license is a good thing. I got my reward yesterday, when the Dreaded Day arrived -- a trip to the DMV to renew my license, an event that not only means I'm older, but means we've lived back here in SC for nearly ten years(!).

I have a clean driving record. I walked in, passed the eye test, and walked out with my license and its requisite mug shot in my hand, within minutes. And it's good for ten years! The Badly Behaved drivers were put through much less pleasant protocols.

So, really, I wouldn't use the tank to crush other vehicles.

No, I would use it to plow a line straight through the landscape from here to Charlotte, NC.

Charlotte is my hometown, and is no longer the pleasant small-ish city I grew up in, so I don't really want to spend a lot of time there. But I do have relatives, relatives I actually like a lot, and friends, and Borders Books, which is nowhere closer, so I'd like to get there maybe just a little more.

But the utter absurdity is that, even though Myrtle Beach is a MAJOR destination for the residents of this now-big city, there's no direct route. The drive is a misery of three-digit bleak highways.

To get there from here -- and these are the major routes anyone takes, I am not even including the local twists and turns that apply to the specific addresses at the start and finish -- you take:

to 76
to 52
to 52/401
to 34 (for only about 1 minute)
to 151
which becomes 601
to 74 which goes through several towns,
becoming Independence Boulevard
(traffic, strip mall nightmare) at some point
to ... here's a choice of major arteries (495, 51, 16, others)

The 501, 151/601, and 74 legs are ENDLESS.

The only good part is the halfway point. It's a big, wonderful farmstand/store called McLeod Farms, which has a cafe, picnic tables, and a nice little store full of great produce and delectable baked goods. It makes the drive bearable. Just.

But we drove it 3 times this past year, and I tell ya, if I had a tank, I'd flatten a nice straight route from here to some point on 74 that easily connects to a decent road.

And whatever criminal charges I incurred, they probably wouldn't involve disobeying rules of the road, because there ain't no roads. Not yet anyway. Once I got out of jail, I'd still have my license! OK, maybe not. But I'm not sure it wouldn't be worth it anyway.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The accidental gardener

The LAST thing I ever thought I'd blog about in January was a crop I planted in June.

A couple of our summer crops turned out well, but neither my carrots (all leaf and practically no root) nor my broccoli gave us any eatin'. The broccoli nearly died and even when I put it into its box planter, it never thrived. By the end of the heat season, the leaves had dried up and crumbled away leaving skeletal stems just kind of sitting there in the dirt.

But they were technically alive, and I had nothing better to do with the planter for the winter than leave them in it. Didn't weed, didn't water. Pretty much paid no attention to the plants at all.

In the cooling of autumn, they began to leaf out and perk up again. Hoo-boy. Still, I thought the hard freeze would be their death knell.

I knew broccoli was a cruciferous veggie, making it a cousin to the ornamental cabbages that like cold temperatures and that people put in their gardens for the icy months. But I had no idea just how close the broccoli and cabbage cold tolerance kinship really was!

Here they are - photo taken today. Hale and hearty, after two solid weeks of nights in the 'teens and 'twenties fahrenheit. No flowers, but the leaves seem perfectly happy. Just wow!

(Hmmm... OK, this picture is enormous! I'm still learning the new computer's photo program.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A computer that works is a wonderful thing!

The smallest, and most eclectic, sampling of a YouTubePalooza!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Freeze of 2010

The top 2 pictures are pretty self-explanatory. That middle photo is very like one I posted about a year ago. The last one shows thin sheets of ice suspended in the grass at the high tide mark, where the ebbing tide left them.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Unable to be interesting

Here's what's going on:

I'm in computer transition, and will be using a mac pretty soon. Possibly, hopefully, yall won't hear me whine and snarl about it as much as i have whined and snarled about WinDuhs. Hey, I'll have computer sound again!! Till then, I'm trying to wrap up and back up some of the stuff on this WinDuhs Vizta thing, which will stay active for some projects.

I'm also trying to get back into some gentle exercise for my aging joints. The weather is showing me just how much limbering up I need to do.

I've tried not to complain about our Arctic Blast, which is their term for it, not my Southern Wimp term for it, honest, but despite the fact that most of my readers are coping with much much colder temperatures, I'm giving in now, and saying that I am REAL ready for this bloody cold phase to end.

As you can see above, the suffering here is not great. The fire is so delightful. But houses here are not winterized well for this kind of extended cold. My joints are not winterized well either.

So I've moved a stack of books and a new crochet project (I keep making mufflers. No big, complicated, or long term projects. Just mufflers.) to the couch by the fireplace, where I add hot tea or cocoa, and wait for this blasted Blast to be over.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


And the last evening of our chimes. Till next year.