Say it like it is!

Although President Donald Trump’s use of cryptic language is normally understood by even the lowest common denominator, certain words suffer misconstruction due to auditory distortion. Take his use of “bigly” for example. Apparently what he’s actually saying is “big league “. In either case the assumption is that he’s using the word or phrase as an adverb, something to modify a verb, as in “We won bigly” or “I intend to do something bigly”. If what he is really saying is “big league ” it still amounts to doing something on a grand scale and therefore the sense or meaning in either case is relatively clear even if both renditions are paradoxically more poetic than prosaic.

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Ship Wreck

Many, many years ago I met a gentleman in the financial district of downtown Toronto who informed me he practiced maritime law. I believe he worked as in-house counsel for an insurance company. I don’t recall the particular circumstances of the acquaintance (though it may have been in a bar at the King Edward Hotel) but I do recall being impressed by his uncommon undertaking. The practice of maritime law was to me a rarefied and puzzling avocation. In keeping with my general interest in matters nautical – and residing as I am for the moment adjacent the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico – the relevance of maritime law has – pardon the pun – lately resurfaced. My particular inquisitiveness revolves around shipwreck, a sphere popular in nearby Key West which has an unfortunate history of such occurrences due to its proximity to coral reefs only meters below the sparkling surface. While I don’t intend to engage in an examination of the applicable maritime law regarding shipwreck (and the entitlement to its trove), I felt a modest familiarity with the topic might prove informative (if not merely an enlargement of the customary language). What by the way precipitated the original enquiry was a comment from a woman in the grocery parking lot that she had noticed some flotsam and jetsam in the evening tide. Her observation arose in connection with the recurrence of what is called “Red Tide“.

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The full picture

Photography is a popular hobby. My niece is a professional photographer. I don’t pretend to involve myself in that degree of expertise; mine is strictly an avocation. Since the dawn of the iPhone I suspect the amusement has taken on far greater amusement. Though the device does not overcome the need for practice to capture a scene it certainly enables the discovery. Learning to handle the “Edit“, “Crop” and “Make Key Photo” features requires a moderation of instruction and learning. Nor I hasten to add is the romantic vernacular of black-and-white lost in the process. I derive added pleasure by contributing the photos to my blogs – which admittedly are themselves advanced by the contribution!

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So what do you like to do?

At age 85 years or thereabouts (the exact age doesn’t matter as whatever it was he was beyond the pink) my well-to-do Uncle Herb (a former wholesale grocer and fishmonger In Fredericton, New Brunswick and latterly a fine art dealer cavorting with the likes of Dominion Gallery on Sherbrooke Street West across from the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montréal) launched what I expect was a tolerably nasty divorce from his wife Audrey. Uncle Herb and Aunt Audrey (one of my father’s two sisters among seven siblings) had been married I’m guessing above 50 years. They had two children, my cousins George (named I suspect after my paternal grandfather) and Richard, both “wacky” or unique in their own ways. In undertaking the divorce at his late age Uncle Herb must have been driven by unparalleled ambition! Surely there were those who questioned his overall sanity – not to mention the utility – of doing so. Yet whatever it was that propelled him, it was unmistakably a last stand.

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Email to DK

Hello, David!

It is a measure of the welcomeness and singularity of your newsy email that I wish to respond immediately – “…and I have taken a long sheet of paper to show my gratitude“. Casual correspondence represents what in this era might qualify as a lost art – though I have no way of knowing who or how many preserve this form of literary intimacy. What I do know is that two of my favoured authors – Tennessee Williams and Jane Austen – considered it wasn’t beneath them. I refer for example to a book you may have read; namely, “Tennessee Williams’ Letters to Donald Windham, 1940 – 1965”. The book was recommended to me a hundred years ago by a fine fellow I met in Cape Cod. The letters – which as you might expect of Williams are perfect gems – capture places on both Cape Cod and Key West which while perhaps not immediately recognizable certainly succeed to enliven reminiscences!

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Hi ho!

Foner’s coverage of the Selective Service Act passed in May 1917, is brief. He simply states that due to the passage of the Act the number of men in the army went from 120,000 to 5 million. He also informs readers that the Act resulted in about 24 million men enlisting. However, the bigger picture in all this is what Foner speaks in great detail about. Foner wrote that the war seemed to bring about the being of a ‘new nationalist state’ in the country. Federal government agencies seemed to be controlling everything from- food margins and transportation to fuel. Food was rationalized because many sought to believe that food will help win the war. If they kept their soldiers full, they would surely have enough strength to win the war. Everyone in the country was focused on doing what they could to help the U.S. win the war. Nevertheless, the biggest difference between the Selective Service Act of 1917 and other previously written acts was that a substitute could no longer be hired to fight in a man’s place, the man himself would now have to enlist.

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American songbook

Certainly from the first time I melted to a frozen martini while reading a Jane Austen novel (or at least the same six paragraphs over and over), sitting in my large green leather chair, watching the logs ablaze in the Vermont casting reflected over the polished reclaimed pinewood floors – since then at least – the American songbook has been a stock complement to what was then my evening euphoria. The only thing that improved the transport was my little French bulldog Monroe curled upon the nearby couch, no doubt blissful after a tireless day at the law office greeting clients and deliverymen. In the early days I may have punctuated the intoxicating drama by trimming the mahogany side table with smoked oysters, squares of sharp cheddar cheese and whole wheat wafers. There may have been as well a cigarette and crystal ashtray!

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The Sardegna element

Unwittingly this morning I initiated what later evolved into a manic culinary project. I have an undying interest in seaside dwelling. Aroused perhaps by the clear blue sky above Sarasota Bay I amused myself during breakfast today by revisiting Villa Luna, the mountain-top home in Porto Rafael, Sardegna where we stayed a number of years ago. Though access to the property is precipitous the reward is a spectacular view of the Mediterranean. The remoteness of the venue invites reflection and planning.

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How’re you doing?

The truth about wintering in Florida is that, as grand as it is – and I mean that, seriously – one is inevitably drawn back to home territory for what I suppose can safely be called emotional and spiritual rejuvenation. I won’t say the yearning for the homestead is instantaneous; but certainly within a six-month period the capitulation is not uncommon – l’m saying not altogether frequently but by any standard at least regularly. One forgets what may have provoked the urgency to leave home in the first place.

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Somewhere in between

There’s a difference betwixt saving it for the funeral and living the rest of your life like a firecracker. There has to be somewhere in between. Unfortunately the philosophic business of the “via media” or the popular dietary prescription of plant-based foods are not the complete answer either. Indeed the more compelling yet disturbing truth is that unlike fathomless youthful ambition there really isn’t any workable answer. In the result the only practical solution between these competing options is to undertake the immediate determination to capture what arises from the past, what distinguishes the present and what motivates the future. That seems the surest way to cover all the angles while avoiding the mistake of any one. While my happiest conviction is the present there are details from the past that survive to entertain me. I’m obviously less certain about the future but my innate rationality would no doubt have propelled me to say so at any age.

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