Monthly Archives: July 2021

Army Times

I’m building an army.

It was not my intention, but I confess I am intrigued by the non-military exercise.

Janie and I have a small, decorative pond. It’s about 20 years old now and a well-established eco-system. It’s lagoon-like; deep and darkish, surrounded by holly and bougainvillea and petunias and begonias. It has a sedate fountain that doubles as a bird bath that has hosted robins, cardinals, squirrels, hawks, finches, various black birds, and one befuddled heron. The lagoon has been home for 20-40 fish who perform their languid song and dance routine to the endless fascination of Sprite the Cat.

…and frogs…

We always have an adult frog or two serenading us with their croaks and groans and barks. We usually have several tadpoles that grow into small, giddy little froglets during each summer who squeak and scramble at our approach. Rainstorms come and go and so do the frogs. Residents drift away, transients from elsewhere appear. The population numbers vary. Redistricting is a challenge.

But this year…

A few weeks ago, I came home to find the pond slimed as thoroughly as a Ghostbuster. Thick, translucent slime covered the surface of the water and the moisture pooled on many of the lily pads. The lily pads were peppered with thousands of black dots. Over the next few days, the black dots became black dashes. The dashes began to wriggle and dart, and upon close examination, tiny tails could be seen emerging. The slime dwindled, the dashes disappeared.

This week, I was sitting by the pond, enjoying a serene respite from this season’s rains. I noticed the drops sporadically breaking the water’s surface. We’ve had so much rain this summer it took a moment for me to register the drops were not drops at all. The breaks in the surface were coming from below. Those dark dashes have now become miniscule (1/4 inch), chubby tadpoles. There are hundreds of them.

Thus, the current frog population of our dark lagoon is two croaking adults, six squeaking juveniles, and over a hundred pinging hatchlings.

An army.

I’m not sure what to do next.

  1. Should I notify Sam Elliott he may be needed?
  2. Should I contact the local restaurants to give them a chance to adjust their fall menus?

Janie wants to name them all.

The Phantom of Soho

No it’s not Ibsen, or Shakespeare, or Tarentino…or even Gaston Leroux.

It’s Edgar Wallace.

No it’s not The Phantom of the Opera, it’s The Phantom of Soho.

No it’s not set on the Parisian opera stage and its fantastic (and damp) underworld. It’s set in the smoky, underworld night club; Sansibar (doesn’t even get an exotic “Z”), where the dancers are scantily-clad when clad at all…and can be had by all for reasonable remuneration.

The music is not grand opera, it’s wheezy, sleazy jazz.

Footlights? Fergit it. It’s neon or nuthin’ in this flick.

Edgar Wallace, for a significant part of the 20th century, had more books in print than any other author in the English language. His books were popular staples in every outpost library of the British Colonial Empire. He wrote crime novels, jungle novels, and a little epic; KING KONG.

But on this movie night, we’re prowling in our trench coat through the swirling fog of Soho. We’re shrugging away the blandishments of the entrepreneur-esses on the street corners and in the shadowy doorways. We’re carefully avoiding the blackmailing ship’s captain who resembles Popeye’s good buddy, Bluto. We’re dodging knives and politely passing on the proffered poison capsules. We have a rendezvous with a surprise twist that we saw coming in the first fifteen minutes of the film.

It can’t get much better than this.

This I Don’t Believe

I recall a public radio series; “This I Believe.”

I liked the series. It was a variety of individuals relating the motivating impulses in their lives and why they were important to the individual. The audio essays were usually moving, and usually nudged this listener towards a better business plan for the next day.

Unfortunately, in these days, I find myself bombarded with messages I don’t believe. I suppose these messages have been there my whole life, but I’m finding myself less amenable to their content.

For example;

  • I don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin, the Tooth Fairy, the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola, or snipe.
  • I don’t believe Caspar Guttman ever obtained the real Maltese Falcon and I don’t believe any cowboy was ever injured by a bullet-depleted pistol hurled backwards from a galloping horse.
  • I don’t believe the Fountain of Youth ever existed, nor do I believe Miracle Spring Water is effective for anything other than streaming a current of cash to some preacher’s pocket.
  • I don’t believe in “The Give Back Benefit.”

There are a large number of other dubious concepts in my purview, but those are not so clearly clear to this purview-er that I would want to raise the issue and lower the curtain on acquaintances I would otherwise admire.

Because this I do believe.

I believe it is a challenge and an opportunity to arise every day……but we’re never sure which.

It’s both.

I believe we know so little about the struggles and joys of the people we encounter each day, it’s unfair to assume we know more.

We don’t.

Look for the opportunities.

Face the challenges.

Help with the struggles.

Embrace the joys.

Give with no expectation of a “Give Back Benefit.”

The giving is the benefit.

This I believe.