About Me

Monday, August 31, 2015

life lessons that are priceless – la soixantaine

«Now that I'm 60, every morning I look in the mirror and say, "I don't know who you are, stranger, but I'm gonna shave you anyway."»

Milton Friedman

Or, never let yourself go, cool old men are not slobs.

Friday, August 21, 2015

life on the river – salty dog

The continuing adventures of Twix, the Jack Russell, in dog paradise – master and commander of the Flor do Canal, sprit-rigged shallop: "Look sharp there at the helm, mate! Steady as she goes."

Rio Mira, Vila Nova de Milfontes – Aug '15

Sunday, August 16, 2015

country life – le repos d'un autre guerrier

Carocho, the old horse, quietly munching sweet field grasses – dreaming of young fillies and old capers in horse heaven. Perhaps wondering if those weird bipedal creatures also have dreams; and, if so, what can the old man in front of him be dreaming of?

Vila Nova de Milfontes – Aug '15

Saturday, August 15, 2015

country life – le repos du guerrier

Twix, the Jack Russell, Son of Pimm's, Son of Tintin, dreaming of his exploits in dog paradise – chasing beetles, tracking partridges, snapping at bees ...

Vila Nova de Milfontes – Aug '15

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

motoring life

Landie Melo not quite believing its luck – back in the Southwest, and being driven and pampered by a flight of gorgeous girls every day for a week. I wonder if it will deign even starting for me when I get there next Friday.
Vila Nova de Milfontes – July '15

Saturday, July 18, 2015

life lessons that are priceless – damn straight!

"You must believe in God, my dear, whatever the clergymen say."

Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol College, Oxford

Monday, July 13, 2015

life in the solar system – a mnemonic

Mercury’s right up in my face
Venus is a hellish place
Earth has caught the human race
Mars is just a basket case
Jupiter’s girth is a disgace
Saturn twirls with dancer’s grace
Uranus is rather base
Neptune plods at wretched pace
Pluto is now lost in space

in Sunspots, Simon Barraclough

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

musical life – the soundtrack of tranquility

Love, I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass, and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are

All my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light, the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway
In your eyes
to a thousand churches 
In your eyes
The resolution
In your eyes
of all the fruitless searches 
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes

Love, I don't like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light,
The heat I see in your eyes
In your eyes, in your eyes
In your eyes, in your eyes
In your eyes, in your eyes

In Your Eyes, Peter Gabriel

The resolution of all the fruitless searches.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

life on the hill – patience

Aloe polyphylla. I like some aloes, like those we had in the old house by the sea and flowered exhuberantly at Christmas, and remind me of wonderful childhood days in a beloved house. I have some on the Hill, and they are coming along, and, I hope, will one day cover the hillock by the gas shed and hide the shed from view. But this is a different species, visually much more akin to a cactus, and I don't like cactii. Someone gave it me, and I did what I do with unwanted gifts of its kind: I plant them somewhere inconspicuous, and leave them to their own devices. If they survive they may be deemed worthy of figuring in the overall scheme – and I may even grow to like them. Otherwise, it's curtains for them.

This one's been on the ground for almost ten years, and I'd all but forgotten about it when suddenly it flowered this June (I didn't even know it was supposed to flower, much less when). And I find myself growing fond of it – in the way one admires hardy creatures, which don't complain and just get on with their lives.

They say that patience is its own reward. Up to a point, Lord Copper. Sometimes flowers (or a lonely cherry on a tree – or building a house at 50 after dreaming about it for one's whole life) are the reward for patience. The Fool is a patient man – who values discretion, hardiness, and constancy.

Welcome, little aloe, long may you prosper.
Colina, June '15

Friday, June 26, 2015

life on the hill – the cherry on top

Two pear trees (one prolific, the other giving fruit only every other year); two peach trees; another two of a different kind (nectarines); one cherry tree (of two planted originally), which for years seemed unlikely to survive but has just borne fruit for the first time – one cherry, just the one, to top the Fool's cake. Life is good. 
Colina – June '15.

the cherry

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

life on an older hill

Ambient temperature 28º C. Granite. Water. Mmmmm … – Pedrafurada, Easter 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

life lessons that are priceless – keeping one's head below the parapet

“Never be a pioneer […] It’s the Early Christian that gets the fattest lion.”

Reginald’s Choir Treat, Saki (H. H. Munro)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

the soundtrack of prudence – if you can't do the time, don't do the crime

Heart of mine be still
You can play with fire but you'll get the bill
Don't let her know
Don't let her know that you love her
Don't be a fool, don't be blind
Heart of mine.

Heart of mine go back home
You got no reason to wander, no reason to roam
Don't let her see
Don't let her see that you need her
Don't put yourself over the line
Heart of mine.

Heart of mine go back where you have been
It'll only be trouble for you if you let her in
Don't let her hear
Don't let her hear you want her
Don't let her hear know she's so fine
Heart of mine.

Heart of mine you know that she'll never be true
She'll only give to others the love that she's gotten from you
Don't let her know
Don't let her know where you're going
Don't untie the ties that bind
Heart of mine.

Heart of mine so malicious and so full of guile
Give you an inch and you'll take a mile
Don't let yourself fall
Don't let yourself stumble
If you can't do the time, don't do the crime
Heart of mine. 

Heart of Mine, (Bob Dylan) cover by Blake Mills & Danielle Haim

Monday, January 5, 2015

life lessons that are priceless – marital advice

"Sailors [make] excellent husbands, often away and handy about the house when ashore."

The Surgeon's Mate, Patrick O'Brian

Just so.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

life on the edge

A myocardial infarction, say the learned folk – a heart attack, say you and me.

It starts with a twinge, such as the Fool had become used to every now and then, a fleeting stab as from the point of a knife, which immediately disappeared. Only this time the knife stayed in. I rode the scooter home from the swimming session, and climbed the stairs. And the knife was twisted. I told the Begum and the Princess that we might have to go to the hospital, but my composure was such, apparently, that they didn’t immediately take it in: “If you want”, they said. I wanted.

Down the stairs again, and a few steps to the car – and they stuck in another knife. And twisted it. Then the cold sweat broke out, and the Princess burned the red lights like a pro, and we were at the hospital in five minutes. Whereupon she went and snatched a wheelchair from the hands of a startled assistant, the Begum somehow manhandled the Fool into it, and in we went, making a beeline for the ER entrance. A recepcionist tried to stop us: “You need to register admittance first!”, she cried. “Yeah, yeah!”, said the Begum, “Sure we do”, said the Princess, and we barged through the doors.

People ask me if I felt fear, or was scared, or saw my life flashing before my eyes, but the Fool is one of those simple souls with a touching faith in Western Medicine – like a little boy’s absolute belief in the magic of a Band-Aid. So, just crossing the threshold into the ER put me in the mood of “relax, you are in the hands of professionals”. Plus, one knows how men’s brains are not geared to multi-tasking even at the best of times. And what I felt was pain. My mind was pain. No room for anything else.

They connected their tubes and their wires, and confirmed their diagnosis, and started pumping in the drugs and initiated the prepping for a catheterism. First, 2cc of morphine went in. Then another 2cc, and another 2cc … I think they went up to 8 or 10 cc (afterwards, the Begum said, my eyes were bright and merry like Christmas lights; I felt nothing. Honest). And then they did their thing – aspirating clots, inflating ballons, and inserting another two stents to add to the two already in my possession since 2007 (at this rate, my arteries will soon become continuous tubes of titanium mesh). And that’s how it was.

Now I’m waiting for new life instructions. Guess I’ll have to cut down on extreme physical exertion – perhaps I’ll stick to pruning roses, and call it exercise (in the way some people call chess a sport). And potter around the base of the Hill, and call it a brisk walk. And sit back on the boat while friends pull all the ropes, and call it sailing. Ah, well.

And I wonder if I shouldn’t pin a yellow warning roundel to my clothes – inscribed “Damaged Goods” (or perhaps “Bionic Man”, on days of a sunnier disposition).

Happy Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2014

the soundtrack of lost love

I hope that I'll find what I'm reachin' for
The way that it is in my mind
I hope that I won't be wrong anymore
And maybe I've learned this time

Someday I'll get over you
I'll live to see it all through
But I'll always miss dreaming my dreams with you

But I won't let it change me, not if I can
I'd rather believe in love
And give it away as much as I can
To those that I'm fondest of

Someday I'll get over you
I'll live to see it all through
But I'll always miss dreaming my dreams with you

Someday I'll get over you
I'll miss dreaming with you
Someday I'll get over you
I'll miss dreaming with you
Some day

Dreaming My Dreams With You, Cowboy Junkies

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

motoring life – pride

Street Fightin' Man – Landie Melo comes to town.

Thus far the Fool had only driven the Landie intermittently – mostly for short trips, mostly on dirt tracks –, and it's only in the past two or three weeks that I've been putting it to more normal usage: driving it on errands, interacting with other traffic, even taking it into town.

And the thing is: it's an inducer of Pride.

Years ago I had a Range Rover as a company car, so the feelings of superiority engendered by moving around on a higher level (or "y" coordinate) than the common motorist are nothing new to me – hell, even the current, modest, VW Tiguan provides a rewarding experience in that regard.

But the Landie is quite a few steps higher. So much so, that even regular SUVs have become objects of derision to me. No matter how hard I try no to look down my nose at them, beneath all the benevolence or sympathy I may affect there always lies the innate contempt for underlings of one who dwells on a higher plane. Of one able, as it were, to stare a truck driver in the eye and not blink (I'm even considering buying one of those license plates beloved of truckies, to prop on the dashboard against the windshield, announcing their name to the world: "MELO”).

Pride, quoi.

I wouldn't really care if I didn't know it's one of Seven things that can land you in Hell ...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

wild life (8) – whitethroat

What's that?

Oh, hello there!

'Bye now!

Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) on a juniper near Magoito

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

the soundtrack of the hopeful life – aural sex

She may be the face I can't forget
A trace of pleasure or regret
May be my treasure or the price
I have to pay
She may be the song that summer sings
May be the chill that autumn brings
May be a hundred different things
Within the measure of a day
She may be the beauty or the beast
May be the famine or the feast
May turn each day into a heaven
Or a hell
She may be the mirror of my dream
A smile reflected in a stream
She may not be what she may seem
Inside her shell
She who always seems so happy in a crowd
Whose eyes can be so private and so proud
No-one's allowed to see them
When they cry
She maybe the love that cannot hope to last
May come to me from shadows of the past
That I'll remember 'til
The day I die
She may be the reason I survive
The why and wherefore I'm alive
The one I'll care for through the
Rough and rainy years
Me I'll take her laughter and her tears
And make them all my souvenirs
For where she goes I've got to be
The meaning of my life is she

She, Charles Aznavour

life lessons that are priceless – oral sex

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tir’d with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven’s Zone glistering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th’eyes of busy fools may be stopped there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime,
Tells me from you, that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th’hill’s shadow steals.
Off with that wiry Coronet and shew
The hairy Diadem which on you doth grow:
Now off with those shoes, and then safely tread
In this love’s hallow’d temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven’s Angels used to be
Received by men; Thou Angel bringst with thee
A heaven like Mahomet’s Paradise; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know,
By this these Angels from an evil sprite,
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
Licence my roving hands, and let them go,
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man mann’d,
My Mine of precious stones, My Empirie,
How blest am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth’d must be,
To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta’s balls, cast in men’s views,
That when a fool’s eye lighteth on a Gem,
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.
Like pictures, or like books’ gay coverings made
For lay-men, are all women thus array’d;
Themselves are mystic books, which only we
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)
Must see reveal’d. Then since that I may know;
As liberally, as to a Midwife, shew
Thy self: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,
There is no penance due to innocence.
To teach thee, I am naked first; why then
What needst thou have more covering than a man.

To His Mistress Going to Bed, John Donne


life in the country – counting my chickens

Free range – Herdade do Barquete, Assumar (no, not my chickens, alas)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

life in the country – toys for boys

Herdade do Barquete – Assumar, Oct. '14
Do you wish your kids spent less time messing around with the Playstation? Take them to a farm.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

life lessons that are priceless– guilt as an incentive to creative work

"First things first: some serious procrastination. I tidy my bench, and in the process more distractions appear: something to repair, or a half-finished project that demands attention. When the sum of the guilt of not getting started is equal to or larger than my ability to stall, I start the proper work."

Two Turtle Doves, A Memoir of Making Things – Alex Monroe

Me, I hang the laundry out to dry, move pencils around, switch the order of books on shelves, check my emails, and then check them again … Any excuse to put off the moment when I finally have to, HAVE TO, trace the first fucking line on a sheet of paper. Agony.