Archive for the ‘Home Work’ Category

Silly Wabbit


Every morning I feed the birds that have learned to accumulate on my back porch around sunrise. The scrum usually includes hordes of mourning doves, a covey of very fat quail, a few sparrows, and what a biologist I once knew called “small brown birds.”

I began feeding the birds in order to entertain Sassy, but I suspect I have more fun watching the assembled wildlife than she does.

The small rabbit in the photo has lately appeared in the yard about twenty minutes before I put out the birdseed. When I open the back door the birds flee. But not this little gal. In the last couple of weeks, in fact, every morning she has crept up on the porch and sat within three feet of me, looking up as if to say “well, get on with it.”

Let’s hope she is not so blase when the coyotes are about.



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Knee Deep


A cool little machine like this one–only much used–spent most of yesterday afternoon chewing up my yard.

Several days ago I realized that I had never had the septic tank on my property pumped out. I did some research on the net and discovered that most sites recommended this be done every five to seven years. This term can be stretched a couple of years if the owner conserves water and/or never puts grease down the garbage disposal, and/or if only one or two folks live in the house. If the tank is not cleaned out, eventually it will back up into the shower, or a toilet, or a sink, or all these at once.

Yikes! Even though I meet all of the criteria listed, I have lived in this house for seventeen years.

So yesterday morning I called around and found a company who does this work and who claims to be environmentally conscious. A couple of hours later two robust young men appeared in my street, one driving a huge pumper truck and the other a pickup and trailer on which a small back hoe rested. They were cheerful enough, given the job they do. I asked what they do with the stuff they pump out of a septic tank, and they assured me that it goes into an environmentally approved treatment plant, emphasizing the point that this costs the company largish fees. We dickered a little over price and the available options beyond pumping, all of which I declined, and they got to work.

They began by using a digital gizmo perched on a stick to hunt for the tank. The gizmo looked like a divining rod to me, and I suddenly remembered the scene in Jurassic Park where the geologists use a digital camera to find buried dinosaur bones. I thought about asking if the owners of their company ever went to movies, but thought better of it. They were robust, after all.

220px-ferocactus_cylindraceus_12Finally they gave up on the gizmo and measured fifteen steps from the pipe cap. Then they fired up the back hoe and dug several largish holes, each about a foot wide, four long, and three deep, looking for the tank. In the meantime I stood guard over a nearby ferocactus, hoping I had the guts to oppose the back hoe’s progress if the cactus were threatened. All the while I wondered why all this hunting was necessary to find a tank that must be sizable, given that it holds a thousand gallons of shit.

And then Eureka! With a loud scrape the back hoe announced that it had found something–not a another large rock, as I had feared, but the tank. The lid proved to be buried about two feet under the surface. The pumping didn’t take long, but during it I was disabused of any notion I might have harbored that my shit doesn’t stink. Soon enough the hose was put away and all the holes covered up. The robust young men were kind enough not to charge me for the time they spent digging and filling in large holes in my yard.

As we enjoyed cookies and tea (rhetoricians call such things non-artful proofs) one of them told me that I had narrowly escaped from disaster–the tank was very close to full. A thousand gallons of shit. Wow! Didn’t know I had it in me. Har har.

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I Voted Today!


I know–early voting is not a big deal for the reader(s) of this yere blog. Nonetheless I have to report that it felt really good to finally put my oar into this mess of an election year. I voted a straight Dem ticket, which is an exercise of hope over loyalty here in Arizona.

I was also able to vote “yes” straight down the ballot, which felt good too. Firemen/women and schools in my district need money, as usual, because our tax base, while high, is ordinarily stolen away by the Thugs who run the state government to be used on projects whose source and valence are known only to them.

I don’t get to vote against Joe Arpaio because I dont’ live in Maricopa county. It looks like the folks over there have finally found someone who can beat him, though. And his misdeeds are SO visible this year that we might finally see him out the door. I’d like to see him in jail, forced to wear the pink underwear he makes inmates wear in his hot-to-roasting outdoor jail.

A girl can hope, right?

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Horse Apples


One of my riding neighbors did me the unfavor of leaving a pile of horseshit in the street just in front of my mailbox. Which means I cannot drive my car in front of the mailbox because to do so would beshit the tires which would, in turn, beshit my garage.

I know, I know:  I can walk out to the mailbox. Or, I could get  shovel and scoop up the mess. Which I will do momentarily.

In the meantime, I’ve written an entire post about horseshit. Take that, Trump!

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Reading While Retired


This is a library copy of Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told:  Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism after I got through reading it this morning.  This is fairly typical of the post-it abuse that academics inflict on books that become important to their research.  It will take me another couple of days to enter the citations and reflections indicated by these little pink slips into a notebook.  I learned long ago, when I had to write for professional survival, that making written notes of my reading helped me to remember an author’s argument.  More important, the process of writing out my reactions to the work of others helped me to invent my own claims and arguments.

Of course I no longer have an obligation to write, or even to read, now that I’m retired.  But old habits die hard.  And I’m discovering that a hidden benefit of a life of scholarship, as onerous and distracting as it sometimes seemed while I was otherwise employed with teaching and administration, has now made itself apparent:  reading keeps the mind alive and curious.

Books like Baptist’s also put the world in perspective.  His lyrical descriptions of the creativity and solidarity forged among enslaved people give me hope for the human race.  The work also lends important perspective on current manifestations of racism, some of which would sound quite familiar to the people who toiled in Mississippi cotton fields from light to no light every day of their lives.

Needles to say, I think everybody who reads this blog should read this book even if you aren’t interested in American history.  You won’t regret the time you gave it, even if you are not lucky enough to be retired–yet.

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Happy Pi Day!

pi-day-pie-landscapeIf you missed 9:56 this morning, you can still salute 3.14.15 this evening at the same time.

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