Sunday, September 23, 2018

as an equinox falls

O! to celebrate the equinox, days of equilibrium and even-tempered nights.

Bands of small dark birds weave sharp patterns through the sky
moving swiftly, warp of clouds
—north to south—

It is an overcast sky.
I am stacking wood.
Honks of geese.

first fire / woodstove clicks

Low on the serviceberry, an autumn leaf, bright red rimmed in orange and yellow hidden amid the green. High up on the serviceberry, small white flowers, a second blooming—unusual.

Josie challenges a young buck with antlers big as thumbs. At Josie’s first charge the young buck whirlpools then claims his ground—Josie’s yard!—and lowers his head; Josie?—this turn of events—what can it mean? A strange skirmish ensues between these creatures, one small one large, one hooved one pawed, one wild one tame; each participates in their own way and I, on the porch, begin to feel discomfort, a slight fear for Josie, rising, as Josie in this disparity may be disadvantaged. But it ends with whitetails flying far away through autumn fields and one little dog flying onto the porch to me.

(Earlier that same day) A red squirrel peaked in the window, challenged Josie, who ran out to play, to protect, to chase, to fight, to hunt, to return: victorious.

And yet, still, we await the first frost—anything! anything!—to wipe out this lingering summer plague of mosquitoes.

I finish Moby Dick. The seas of autumn roll in.

Josie in a different milieu.

bayberry candles
Meanwhile … I’ve added two chapters to Wax ., the wax book blog at In so doing, I learned more about historian Alice Morse Earle. In the 1890s she researched and wrote about the minutiae of everyday life in America as it was for the newly arrived white folks of the English colonies. Earle has been the source for much of my history of bayberry wax. I struggled mightily with the title for that chapter, and I suppose it is still too long. I did delete “or you can call me candleberry” and “or you can call me Lucky Malone” but I didn’t delete “but you can’t call me ‘bayberry’.”

Sunday, September 16, 2018

clarification with a bit of unctuousness

If you know anything about this woman, please write:

1. After my last post, a reader expressed concern that my weekly (or quasi weekly) posts might be coming to end.

2. This led to a brief email exchange, and, following a suggestion she made, I took the time to learn more about labels, which appear at the bottom of most of these posts and are gathered in those lists over there on the sidebar. Their purpose, according to what I read, is to help the reader navigate. Which is pretty much how I have tried to use them. Even though, it seems, I have done it wrong. The advice is: less is more. And I couldn’t agree more. But sometimes, more is more. And in this case, well, soon there should be even more labels on that sidebar rather than fewer, and specifically more specific labels, fewer general labels, and, supposedly, this is going to be much too difficult for any random reader to navigate, but, after all, what any of this matters, who can say; I mean, do we truly need fewer stars in the sky?

3. Also, I learned that I could add an infinite number of pages to a blog (a blog in Blogger, specifically, which is the medium wherein we meet). Now, if you can stand any more of this “tech talk,” “pages” are one thing, “posts” are another, and I knew posts could go on ad nauseam, and often do, but I did not know that about pages. Here, the pages are those things in the menu above, all except “The Journal,” which is the posts, which is where you’re at, in case you were wondering. Now, and this is key: A person has much more control over how to arrange a list of pages than how to arrange a list of posts or labels.

4. After mulling this over, I realized that the best way to a) write my wax “book” and/or b) somehow separate the random life writing I’ve been doing here for six years from the more clear-headed, structured writing I aim to do about wax was to c) start a new “blog” devoted to writing the wax “book” because my d) writing process, at this point, is completely wrapped up in the blog writing process and this blog is too far gone to make it anything other than what it is and some days, I admit, I like what it is.

5. So now, let it be known: there is a separate site where I am writing the wax book. I call it Wax ., and you can find it at

wax blog

6. The funny thing is, I set up the bare bones of this wax book blog back in March and then, apparently, forgot all about it.

7. Now. Big Question: Will I continue to write here? Small Answer: I don’t know, but I think so. After all, here I am. But it might surprise some of you just how long it takes me to put together a blog post. (It certainly surprises Josie.) And some of that time (and energy) must now go to Wax .. Because I am committed.

In case anyone has forgotten Josie.
Always on the ready to move on.

Now, also let it be known, there is a new business in town. An auto repair shop. So we have two auto repair shops, one post office. And then the murders began.

Meanwhile, Hummie has departed. Late last week he spent a lot of time hovering in front of one window or another. I made sure the nectar in his feeder was fresh. Sunday I saw him there sipping, but while sitting out on the porch Monday evening, I realized it was awfully quiet. I thought: Hummie’s gone. And indeed, despite it being hot and sunny all week, I have not seen Hummie once. Bon voyage, mon ami. May you migrate safely.

Also meanwhile, I remain a-sail with Herman Melville and Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. From Chapter 85: The Fountain:
But why pester one with all this reasoning on the subject? Speak out! You have seen him spout; then declare what the spout is; can you not tell water from air? My dear sir, in this world it is not so easy to settle these plain things. I have ever found your plain things the knottiest of all. And as for this whale spout, you might almost stand in it, and yet be undecided as to what it is precisely.
In Chapter 94: A Squeeze of the Hand, one finds a good deal of unctuousness. And sperm. As in sperm oil, or spermaceti (I think). Which has “... the smell of spring violets … ”. It occurs to me that I have never read anything quite like Chapter 94 of Moby Dick. And recently a pair of spermaceti tapers from the early 1970s or maybe even before sold on eBay for something like $52. Somehow this led me to buy the candle pictured above. It cost much less, has nothing to do with spermaceti, but according to the listing it is “vintage” and “hand-carved.” A sticker indicates it is by Novalum, from Vienna, Austria.
In visions of the night, I saw long rows of angels in paradise, each with his hands in a jar of spermaceti.
- Melville