A Certain Vermont Death

Earlier this month, while vacationing back home in northern Vermont, I came face to face with death.

Not on a pale horse, death was raising a ruckus on a green riding mower, and his name was Walter.

Walter Deth. Early 70s. Balding, with a bum leg. A born storyteller possessed of a finely developed sense of self-appreciation, he entertained our screened-porched trio until his mower died.

As ex-farmer Walter limped across the road to his mobile home in Deth land I couldn’t resist playing sick word games with possible names for his children, of which he has many:

Slow, Painful, Awful, Ugly. And Welcome, Sudden, Lingering. Aso Unexpected, Glorious, Heroic, Early.

And, of course, Good.

What rubbish, eh?

Sorry, Walter, sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Fever Dreams at -26 C

At 2:35 this morning I awakened suddenly during the latest episode of my flu-induced nightsweats. Inside, here in Cobden, Ontario, it felt hot and moist. Outside, it was cold and dry.

A pair of photographs I had seen last evening popped into mind.

The first depicted President Donald Trump leaving his limousin, striding towards Barack and Michelle Obama at the entry to the White House. Trailing some distance behind was Mrs. Trump, elegantly dressed in a light blue designer outfit, and carrying a small blue gift package wrapped in matching blue. Melania walked alone, unescorted.

The second photograph showed the Obamas and Melania. The had walked down the steps to greet her. Michelle stood at Melanie’s left side, Barack at her right. Each had placed a hand at her back, solicitously welcoming her to her new home. President Trump stood by himself, at the entry.

I thought: What classy people Michelle and Barack are. We shall miss them.

The next thought came unbidden: Does Melania often cry herself to sleep?


So, last night we got the freezing rain and ice and snow the weather-people types had forecast.

All the trees and power lines have a lovely white coating, thus I pulled up the garage door to have an early ayem look-seek. Yup, lots of snow — about mid-way to my knees.

I tried a few shovels full, just to check it out: wet and heavy at the bottom, then ice, then heavy snow, topped off with heavy powder. Couldn’t lift a full shovel-full — it’s what we call heart attack snow, eh?

Our concrete driveway is about 100 feet long, over 15 feet wide, and quickly slopes downhill. If it is really icy, the car will slide right down to the road.

I make that about 1500 square feet multiplied by 1.5 feet in depth: almost 2300 square feet of killer snow to chop, lift, and toss. The previous owner was a guy named Cliff. His wife found him dead at the roadside, next to his snow shovel.

When I was out doing the first of many 10-minute shovel stints to come today, I heard a rapid knocking on the window, and a muffled admonishment to “stop!” and “don’t a do Cliff” and get my 81-year-old fanny back inside the house, and wait for Dave my snow blow guy to show up tonight with rig.

That’s my snow story for today, folks. Stay tuned…

Carded in Vermont

While down in northern Vermont last week to attend my cousin’s funeral, I dropped into the so-called cut rate RiteAid Pharmacy in Derby to buy a tube of toothpaste.

It cost more than here in Ontario and was twice the price in a local country store. Thanks, but no thanks.

However, their wine shelf had a couple of bottles of Fish Eye Merlot at $5.99 from southeastern Oz. We’d had it before and could each legally bring back one bottle, so we bought them.

But not before the plump young lady at the cash register took one look at me and asked for some ID, preferably a valid driver’s license.

“He’s 79 years old,” says Jane. “Do you really need that?”

By now she’s laughing.

I dutifully hand over the card to the young lady. I watch her as she scrutinizes the photo on the license, then compares it with the real grey-haired Johnny standing across the counter.

I watch her lips as she silently spells out my name: J…o…h…n.

Then I watch her frown and purse her lips as she apparently struggles with the math, trying to decipher just how old I am, if I’m 21 yet.

It looks like: “Take 5 from 5 and get zero, take 3 from 1…no, wait, take 3 from 11…

She finally gives up, hands me back my license, takes my money, and we’re out of there, laughing like hell.

We’ll finish the first Fish Eye red at dinner tonight.

“united states: a novel” is a ‘must’ read

First things first: Buy Nick Monsarrat’s new book “united states: a novel”, then be sure to read this book.

By Nick Monsarrat
Downloaded from Amazon.ca
CDN$ 5.32 digital edition
Kindle app on my iPad

In the 238 years since the United States declared independence from Great Britain, it has been sidetracked again and again by dark and odious adventures: Enslavement of black people, ongoing abuse of Native Americans, civil and foreign wars, ‘interventions’ and ‘police actions,’ maltreatment of gay people and workers trying to unionize for economic freedom, widespread racism, mounting police violence.

And yet, there has always been this struggle by citizens of good heart and good intention to keep the American Dream alive, to create a society of free people and abundant opportunity.

Vermonter Nick Monsarrat has taken a serious look at what might happen should the country continue flirting with mounting corporate power and heavy handed control of the people through privatized security forces — think Blackwater aka “Xe Services” aka “Academi.”

He paints a dark picture, but a well-written one which repeats that serious old message: The price of Liberty, dear reader, is eternal vigilance.

You really need to travel this dark road in 2038 with Jack Flyte, and Ben and Cecil Quayle, to see what you and your children and their children may have to face. And ask yourself, where will I stand?

I think there is a fine, if disturbing, movie in Nick Monsarrat’s “united states: a novel.”

Why they call it snail-mail

On July 23, my new shakuhachi was shipped from Pompano Beach, Florida to Cobden, Ontario. The US Postal Service confirmed this.

On July 30 I was informed by the US Postal Service that the flute had arrived in Miami.

In seven days the package had travelled 33.7 miles.


All ‘aliens’ doomed to hell

That’s what Creationist Ken Ham of Oz maintains. Nobody, not even Jesus, can save them.

In America, all in-country furriners are officially deemed Resident or non-resident Aliens. That includes Canadians with Green Cards.

Alas, it seems as if Canadians, too, are hell-bound if they move Down There.

Better just to visit, eh?