"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Brevity Is A Great Charm Of Eloquence - Cicero

I’m a bit behind on my blogging at the moment. Time to catch up.

It looks like I have got a new job but it doesn’t start properly for a couple of weeks, although I have already had to start doing some work towards it. How will it work out and what exactly am I doing? That still remains to be seen but I’ll keep you posted when I know more myself but it looks promising so far.

One of the Blackbirds in the garden is in a very bad way. His right wing is drooping down somewhat, there are feathers missing from his back and his right eye looks very bad. He seems to be using his left eye more when feeding. His behaviour is now very different to how Blackbirds normally behave in the garden; he hides in the undergrowth and behind the potted plants for very long periods of time and when he does venture out he is very wary, and Blackbirds are pretty wary at the best of times. He ran for cover yesterday on hearing another Blackbird give an alarm call and didn’t come out again for ages. He is still feeding and drinking and is able to fly a bit too, so he may survive. However, I didn’t see him at all today. Because of his injuries and his hiding behaviour I have named him Rogue Male, after the Geoffrey Household thriller. I really hope he makes it.

We’ve been getting regular visits at night from at least one of the many urban foxes that live round here. I’ve seen Mr Fox briefly a couple of times over two nights but his presence is mostly obvious from the large thank you messages he keeps leaving in the garden. It’s like having all the disadvantages of having a dog but none of the advantages. He’s also eating the apple pieces I leave out for the Blackbirds. Half an apple would usually last the birds a couple of days or more but now they’re gone over night, as is anything else left out that is vaguely edible. I wouldn’t mind so much if I saw more of the fox but he’s very selective about when he comes to the garden – mostly when I’m not around to see him.

Still no news about the MRI scan. I’m not that worried as I am now convinced that my foot problem is just that, a problem with my foot but I’ll feel a lot better about it when I do get the results.

I’m loving this good weather and have been out for a couple of walks to at least get some benefit but mostly I’ve been indoors painting. I’ve done so much lately and tried a few new things too. My biggest fans Ben & Caroline have been such a boost. I’m still not convinced there are going to be many people who will want to have a Cactus County original on their wall at home but at least I do feel that I might have something going on here. My better half of course has always been hugely supportive and frankly without her I would never have picked up a paint brush.

While I’ve been painting I’ve been continuing to work my way through the CD collection. I now have a much better idea of the kind of music I like and don’t like. Out are math rock, electronica, dance, and what I would have to call rock, things like Jet and The Mooney Suzuki. I kind of liked that stuff to a degree before but now I just haven’t got the time for it. Much more to my liking are Americana, dark alternative indie, the better Brit Pop bands, stoner rock and doom metal. I’ve got rid of so many things I thought I would hang on to and held on to a few things I thought I was going to get rid of. I’m finding I’m giving a much more sympathetic listen to American sounding bands than to British ones. I’ve always been drawn to things American and now that I no longer have to give everything a fair hearing but instead select just what feels good in my own ears, I’m hearing things in a slightly different way. I still haven’t got back that essential DJ quality of wanting to share music you love with another person. If that feeling ever returns I know I’ll be desperate to get back on the radio. Not anywhere near that yet though.

I finished “Deke!” the autobiography of Deke Slayton at the end of last week. He was one of the Original Seven Mercury Astronauts, who finally got into space as the docking module pilot of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. I really enjoyed this book which was co-written by Michael Cassutt. Without being really insulting he calls things and people how he sees them and the man’s honesty is to be applauded. As one of the original Seven, Deke was there from the start of the US manned space programme right through to the start of the shuttle programme. This means he was intimately involved with Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, ASTP and the Space Shuttle. He flew more than 60 combat missions over Europe and Japan in WWII, was a test pilot, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Minnesota and was instrumental in picking the crews for Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and the shuttle test flights. No mean feat for one man. I would definitely recommend this book without hesitation. You’ll learn a lot about those early US manned space programme days and if you already know a fair bit, then this book will put some of what you already know in a new perspective. Deke is the man!

Thought I’d take a break from space for a little while and am currently reading “Cicero: Selected Letters” which I got for a pound in the British Heart Foundation bookshop last week. I’m still looking for the “Letters of Pliny the Younger” but this will do till I find a second hand copy of that. Ancient Rome and space, my choice of reading material is eclectic, if nothing else.

Suggested reading: “Deke!” by Donald K Slayton & Michael Cassutt.


  1. Math rock??? sounds right up my street!


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