Archive for April, 2011


Just when you start to think that people aren’t so bad after all, along comes the guy who sends you right back to square one.

Most of us have a fairly good opinion of ourselves. It’s generally unwarranted, but what can you do? It’s the way we’re made.

But some people take their love of self to the level of art. Beyond imagining, really. You’ve seen them yourself. Big ideas, but not a shred of talent.


He’s filled with all those glittering schemes,

Narcissus falling in love with his image in a pool (Caravaggio, 1573-1610)

Each glorious plan that never palls;

Embraces fright’ning wild extremes,

and dreams

His name will ring down History’s halls.


He walks the world in ten-league boots;

He’s seen to strive for dangerous fame,

But really seeks the safe pursuits

whose roots

Are found in cowardice and shame.


Some might say that “cowardice” is a bit strong. They’re wrong. “Cowardice” is mild, in my estimation.


But cowardice in heart and mind

Is born of our genetic clay,

And maybe “shame’s” a bit unkind;

you’ll find

It’s not his fault he’s made that way.


His fault is practising deceits:

He’ll take the swift-descending track

To darkening lanes and base retreats,

and streets

That end in empty culs-de-sac.


Right. “Practising deceits”; that means lying, doesn’t it? And that’s what he does. So whose fault is it, then? Mine? Yours? And yet — and this is the most irritating part — these are the people who succeed, nine times out of ten, proving the old adage: “BS baffles brains.”


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How to thread a needle.

Up to now the received wisdom was that you moistened (okay, licked) the thread and thrust it through the eye of the needle. Right?

Wrong. You should lick the needle, then slide the thread through the eye. Works perfectly every time.

I cant even FIND the needle, let alone lick it.

But how about the needle in your sewing machine? Eh? How do you work that? Imagine being seen as you are bending over your sewing machine, your head pressed against the fabric you were working on, apparently sucking your machine’s needle. Try to explain that, especially to people who already think you’re a bit of a nut.

The illustration is of the first sewing machine, invented by Elias Howe in 1845. Can you see this in your sewing room?


Illustration from  Frank Puterbaugh Bachman (1918) Great Inventors and their Inventions, American Book Co., New York.

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Very Early Spring

We were going shopping this afternoon, at one degree below zero with an aggressive wind, and the lady, my better three-quarters, was hatless for chrissake, hatless! simply because the hat she was wearing was a dark blue with a turquoise trim and it didn’t go with her ensemble which was something or other that didn’t go with blue and turquoise, which also don’t go that well together at the best of times.

Bet on it, the Inuit know about “early spring”

Further to walking in the early spring, you would think that after more than half a century of Canadian winter — because that’s what it is; “Spring” is just a euphemism — you would know how to dress. Hats, certainly. Gloves: Forget dress gloves, you wear mitten gauntlets. Shoes: Stout, to protect you against the cold pavements. Scarves to protect you against the wind. That’s it; dress like that and you’ll laugh at winter … er, early spring.

Yet, every year, my hands drop off in the cold, and my hat isn’t sufficient, my shoes are the wrong shoes, and I don’t know what a scarf is … and every early spring I’m reminded.

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