The axiom in the title says that cattle will produce better and more ribbons, more and better meat, more and richer milk, with good breeding, than provided by the nature of the pasture. George Eliot steals this saying from the farm friends in her novel Silas Marner. The axiom, inferred as an allegory by one of her characters, who therefore of course speaks for Eliot, tells that human selection is stronger than money and may be a reflection, more of the thought of the 1800's than now, but I am not so sure. She turns definition of both "breeding" and money upside down at an appropriate time when the received wisdom at that time needed to be revisited. It is a morality story of the highest order and her novels as well as her life speak to a more contemporaneous thought and attitude. Her character for which the novel is named, a simple linen weaver and a miser, would learn that axiom portrayed a lesson dredged up from hardship as it usually is. That kind of breeding is not inherited but acquired. What a lesson in love, strength and weakness to tell of the struggle for, and failure to, seek morality. What a lesson to look at those that choose the pasture alone and that drop by the wayside without knowing they are there!
James Joyce says of Mr. Duffy that, " He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances." Hmm! Don't we all? Or maybe not! Maybe insight allows the integrated, whose simulacrum had moved sideways to fuse with the body, no longer permits viewing the body from the distance but rather allows movement in time to a stronger tune. We used to say of a senior surgeon who was , I guess, blessed with an absence of self- examination, "Frequently wrong but never in doubt." Blessed assurance! When I read the bleak stories of the Dubliners it is clear why Joyce fled to Paris but he couldn't escape the simulacrum that tied him to Ireland any more than my ancestors that fled to the Ottawa Valley. Looking for a stronger tune may be okay, but to deny continuing glancing at your body from a distance may carry a bit of pain but it comes with a reality if you also are given outsight. Mr. Duffy couldn't handle the pain.
There is a potential treasure trove for the enterprising in recycled hair, human hair from the barber shop, pet hair from the groomers, even chemical hair from the beauty shops, dandruff and fleas notwithstanding, all collected from daily floor sweepings, gone tonight and hair again tomorrow! Think of it; the volume to be collected from all these emporia; and free for the taking by someone with a broom and a bag. The rain forest on the Pacific coast in which we live is shared by the ubiquitous slug that forages on our vegetables and flowers.There has never been a satisfactory method of control short of making rounds early in the morning, dividing them in half and waiting for the fellow cannibals to come so as to snip them as well. An axiom in medicine is there is an inverse relationship with the number of treatments offered and to their effectiveness; copper wire, beer, liquid and solid ferrous poisons and endless barriers, pathway impediments, to no avail. Give it some thought, a tiny berm of hair surrounding the tender line of tiny vulnerable shoots which no slug would traverse, slug slime coated in floor swept hair, impeding every movement and dragging the creature to its demise. Think of it. A pickup load of hair from the multiple "Emporia of Victoria" each day to distribute to the gardens. And it is natural; it is organic,: it is compostable; all features attractive to those alive to the ecology . Who can say keratin sucks?
In our church this year we have had close to a dozen funerals already. More so than all of last year. Though I didn't go to all of them I attended those who I knew or thought I knew quite well and joined the celebration of their life and the committal into the hands of the Saints. As always with me, though they were my friends of long-standing, and core members of the church we shared, I always knew less about them than I thought I knew and it was always a revelation when family and intimates from the past described the base of the mountain that formed the structure of my friend. It is like flying above the clouds and looking at the mountain tops, knowing your friend from that vantage point but missing the arduous but dedicated rising to the top that went on for the many years where you were not there and knew not what. The better glimpse of my friend I was always privileged to see is never to vision the crags and shear of the great mountain they climbed, but to hear it once, to know the mountain top, and to be content in the rest for them in the arms of the Saints. It is enough.
When Cain killed Abel and God asked him where Abel was, he replied, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Genesis 4 :9. In the movie "Legends of the Fall", Brad Pitt, the colorful and endearing brother who spent his life mostly "raising Cain" was embraced by his brother Aiden Quinn, the diligent and unendeared one, as his keeper. On the other hand, Leviticus, 19:17 is specific about who is our brother. Luke 10:25, the parable of "The good Samaritan" tells us who is our brother. Luke 15: 11, the parable of the Prodigal Son gives no quarter to the diligent and dutiful son. We are perforce, our brother's keeper. Moreover we are our neighbor's brother. It's a tough old world. It's hard for us Narcissists to universally love our neighbor as ourselves. How about somewhat less? Even those who piss us off. Even Hermes and Apollo, sons of Zeus had the potential to be at odds. Hermes was the bad boy; not really bad, more like a scamp, but they were both beautiful and Apollo was his keeper. We can say Apollo was good, but he was never goody-two-shoes toward his brother, to my knowledge. It becomes easier when you are old and none of us can sit by the pool and see our reflection as beautiful. We have to reflect on another kind of beauty that says , "I am my brother's keeper! "
I have a thing about flies. And vermin! And what was euphemistically called "the biffy". They are all part of that resistant little gyrus I own that won't self-destruct and tenaciously reminds me of hot prairie days when stinky was in and buzzing was all around and dirty little vermin were part of the moving lower firmament. Maybe it seems to some that one is over-delicate and somewhat neurotic, but I have not embraced these God given creatures even though they have not been encountered for years. I vividly remember the fly paper hanging from the kitchen of my grandad's farm, flies stuck in crowded yellow goop, dead, struggling, wings beating in the last extremity of death. And in the restaurants, flypaper hanging over the raisin pies, competing with the pies for flies. And the biffy, hot and stinky, without fly paper but with lots of flies, the idyllic country life of yesteryear called the " good old days." And the mice, dirty and grey, racing hither and yon, feeding on all the kitchen remnants, leaving little stools behind as they ate. They gave me the shivers. Life in the thirties and forties I think were good for testing the ability to stay healthy and tough despite this attack of the dirt brigade, but a little sanitation is a wonderful thing and today, nobody need care where flypaper goes, mouse stool
lurks and thinking time is never in the biffy other than in a jiffy.
For Jim's past posts, check out his old blog here: