The Oak Island Water Feature runs again! For about three hours and then it leaks and gurgles, but for those three hours it’s just sweet. Over the weekend I got all the leaves and gunk out of the tank, a task that made Scout excited. Because of the pump. He finds it an object of almost mystical reverence; he has no idea what it is. It’s like his 2001 Monolith. I bring it out and he’s excited; he follows me up to the tank, and watches it as it hums in the water. When I take the hose all the way across the yard to drain the water down the west-side hill, he follows with bright eyes: yes okay now this, right, we did this before, and now let’s run back to the Thing and watch it and then run back to where the water is coming out of the dead snake

This is so exciting

It’s like we’re doing something together, but he doesn’t know what. He doesn’t care that he doesn’t know. It’s just an interesting exciting thing and we’re doing it.

Dog side-eye is the best side eye:


Getting out the gunk was less hideous than previous years, since the neighbor’s tree no longer hangs over the tank. But I discovered some cracks in the stone, which probably mean the tank’s integrity has been compromised some more. Turns out that porous sedimentary stone might not have been the best choice for the interior of a water fountain.

And then there’s the side pond issue. The side pond is pointless and I’ve no idea why I agreed to it. It provided additional ploshing, I think. The water sloshes into a plastic pond and drains through a pipe whose diameter was calculated to clog if three (3) leaves pass through, so it overflows and has to be routed out. It goes without saying that the main underground tank leaks like the White House. It’s been a trial since it was built, which is why I declined to pay them the second installment, and the contractor slunk away, abashed.

I did have one success - well, mostly successful, with more work to be done, which I won’t, because I did something, and hey, that’s something! Until Wife points out that I didn’t finish it, but c’mon, don’t I get credit for doing something? But it’s not done. Only if you compare it to being fully completed. If you look at it as completed now, it’s pretty good. Right?

Hon? Right?

The stone in the backyard that walls off the bushes and the patio area had gotten mossy. I should note that this area is purely theatrically, and has no practical, daily use. Yes, we use the walkway to the back fence, and there’s stone along that; needed cleaning. But there's a patio area towards the back that was one of those things I loved right away about this house. The steps go up to a pathway that goes around the big tree, to the OIWF, and then back down again.

So if you want you can go up the steps around the tree to the fountain and then back down again, and then sit in the glider and go back and forth for a while.

No one ever does.

Few ever have. On selected Fourths of July, back when the commingled tribes of the Giant Swede and the Crazy Use came over for fireworks and meat, the kids might sit on the glider for a few minutes. But we don’t do that anymore and so no one sits there.

Maybe the FFES will.

Who’s that?

Later with that.

That’s the summer plot.

But! There was a time in the summer when Daughter would walk up that path to get to her plastic play house that stood on the site where the OIWF is now, and that completed the mission of the whole layout. Child walking along the path in our backyard forest, in a sundress, with a bowlcut, stooping to squat and look at inchworms. Like Smoove.

So I evacuated the tank and put the stinky leaves in a bin, marveling at Nature’s ability to conjure rot from beauty - to reduce all beauty to rot, in the end - and then sprayed the stone with cleaner and scrubbed it off. Meanwhile Wife, in full Weekend Dervish Mode, has sanded the outdoor furniture, and is staining it.

Not something I would have done. Ever. Maybe at some point when the wood had gone grey I would have bought a can of spray-stain and hosed it down. But this was on her List. It needed to be done. Every weekend I look at the stout handle of the spade, and think a light blow to the top of the head, a shot glass of brandy to bring her around, then I put her in a chair and place a book in her hand and say “it’s a lovely afternoon. Sit in the shade and read, and let the world go to hell.” But there is The List and its imperatives are terrible masters.

She stained because the rain was coming tomorrow. But then the rain came against all predictions, without warning - I have three weather apps, and not one saw this coming. One rogue cloud, burdened, floated out of the pack and sprinkled down on Jasperwood. GAH! MOVE THE STAINED FURNITURE! NOW!

We picked up the sticky chairs and long benches and put them under the gazebo . . . but the rain was gone before we were done. Huh. Check the app: no precip anywhere for 24 hours. Stand down.

Brats. Corn. All is well. Wife takes Scout to dog park by the river; I take Daughter to a coffee shop where her friend works. Sleepover afterwards. Go home.

The OIWF is running. The stone is fountaining grey water. The air has a chill, but the evening sun is warm and the sky has the familiar array of a summer night in our home.

Ten minutes later, mutters and grumbles; fifteen minutes later, barks from above, cracks and alarums. I hear the rain start, and think: Wife and Scout are in this. I think: the rain might blow into the gazebo and spoil the stain. THE STAIN THAT DIDN’T HAVE TO BE DONE BUT WHO AM I TO SAY THAT SINCE I’M NOT THE SORT OF GUY WHO WOULD EVER THINK THIS NEEDS STAIN

The rain comes and the wind rises and now the precept’s going slantwise into the gazebo, and I think: save the recently stained wood, somehow! Ah: I will use the gazebo curtains. I unleash the velcro sashes - and the wind redoubles its strength. All the curtains are now unhindered and flapping in all directions, and I can’t gather them up.

Then the hail starts. I’d say that was the best part of the weekend, being so absurd, but the best part was picking Daughter up from a coffeehouse on Friday night, and she wanted to listen to ELO, and punched “Calling America” on the phone and piped it through the car speakers, and we rolled down the windows and played it loud. Can’t speak for her, but I’ve never been happier. Summer’s here. It’s green and it’s warm and Lord, it’s just grand.



I really don’t want to watch anything except Twin Peaks. Okay, Judge Judy. The other night she had a plaintiff who wanted her dog back, and dogs are the worst Judge Judy cases. This person hadn’t had the dog for two years. Barely had the dog at all. Someone else had been taking care of it, feeding it, walking it, paying for the vet bills. BUT I AM HER MOTHER said the disturbed person who had poured everything missing in her life into an animal she had for a fortnight two years ago.

You’re not its mother, said the Judge, with that look of hers that combines pity and contempt.

Pity and contempt is the garmonbozia of Judge Judy’s world. And if you don’t know what that means, that’s okay; it’s a Twin Peaks concept, and many things in TP are not meant to be understood. (Although most are not as inscrutable as they seem.) I’ve been watching “Legion” off and on over the last two months, and it’s brilliant stuff. It’s a long twisty greased chute with no hand-holds, but underneath it all you know there’s reality, and what we’re seeing is the corruption of reality because of Mutant Brains or something. Twin Peaks has been presenting alternate, coexistent realties that have no interest in explaining themselves. and that makes for some stunning sequences of horror and beauty.

I don’t mean “horror” in the bloody-stuff-fountaining-from-a neck-stump sense, but the horror of complete dislocation combined with imperatives and threats and incomprehension. You are somewhere else - the basics you can understand, but everything is off, the colors, the scale, the arrangements, it’s off. Someone is agitated and you’re the cause. Something is banging on the door. You have to do something. You climb up a narrow passage. You cannot move but you can. Lynch’s ability to put the language and emotional qualities of dreams on the screen is unparalleled, and the third episode’s opening - 20 minutes with hardly any dialogue - was (insert superlative here). That pink sea. That machine on the wall. The choppy motion that said: everything has happened already, but we’re at a point where it’s happening for the first time, and it’s all jamming up.

The fourth show was where the people who wanted to dislike the show got permission to throw up their hands. I thought it was as funny. It was different from the previous ep, but they've all been different from each other while still being a coherent whole.

Talk to me in a month when I've despaired of it coming together, but even then I won't despair. I don't expect it to come together.



More of Robert Pilgrim's "Believe it or Not"-type feature. Except it's all about food.



I suspect the bribery law had less to do with apples than the cartoon suggests. I also wonder when people stopped saying "agin'" for "against," and the word turned into a signifier of a certain time and type.

I mean, I still use it. But only for effect.



Oh, I remember Grandma's house so well. The smells! The way the paintings smelled like beer, and her freckles smelled like buttermilk.

Then she'd get the ducks drunk and kill 'em. And the kitchen would smell of whiskey and blood.




Hey, what a coincidence! I was just thinking about buying tractor.

But of course there are no tractors to be had. Allis-Chalmers is all in for victory.

Now let's take a break from war to consider genetic duplicates, produced in labs to help double the size of our fighting forces. We tried it first on the Usacks:


"We double-dare you to tell us apart!" Because they're both using Pepsodent. Before you could tell them apart because Lucy used Pepsodent and Lorayne didn't, so Lorraine was the dingy one.

You think I'm kidding?

They'd stop strangers on the street and tell them about it!

I think that if they're hanging around together and dressing identically, it's up to them to tell us which one is which.

Putting it quotes makes it sound like you crap ironically, which I'm sure some people would like to do:

Harshness was apparently a common characteristic of old laxatives; they blasted out the tubes with such force you laid on the bathroom floor for an bour before your strength returned, thinking: if only I'd drunk lemon juice.

Odd man-children swear by them:

The company was founded in 1871, and was the first firm to make prescription glasses. This piece has a story on an exhibit devoted to the company's history . . . but it doesn't really have much history. But I did find this:

GoggleWorks Center for the Arts is a community art and cultural resource center located in ReadingPennsylvania. The mission of the GoggleWorks is “to nurture the arts, foster creativity, promote education and enrich the community.”

Located in the former Willson Goggle Factory building

Ah. Now we learn that the company was sold, renamed, and the plant closed in 2002. The company is still based in Pennsylvania, and they still make safety goggles.

GOD those arrows HURT

Luden's: it's what we used when I was a kid. I remember three things: the menthol flavor, the ridged texture, and their ineffectivenes.

I suddenly remembered something: we used to start this feature with Elsie and Elmer. I miss them.

Tony Barlow did a lot of ad illustration, including a long-running series for Statler Hotels. He doesn't have a bio anywhere. I don't know who'd do it. I don't know where they'd start.

Wonder what her hooves sounded like when knocked together.

When you're out of Luden's:

"Use them freely - they can't harm you." Uh - I hadn't wondered if they would.

Now I do.

That's it: 1942 wasn't a big year for ads.

They had other things on their minds.



That'll do for today! Don't miss my MONDAY newspaper column! Just click on the Star. You know: The big green Startribune Star.

And hellllooooo! Look who's back.


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