The Bellman, who was almost morbidly sensitive about appearances, used to have the bowsprit unshipped once or twice a week to be revarnished, and it more than once happened, when the time came for replacing it, that no one on board could remember which end of the ship it belonged to. They knew it was not of the slightest use to appeal to the Bellman about it--he would only refer to his Naval Code, and read out in pathetic tones Admiralty Instructions which none of them had ever been able to understand--so it generally ended in its being fastened on, anyhow, across the rudder. The helmsman used to stand by with tears in his eyes: he knew it was all wrong, but alas! Rule 42 of the Code, "No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm," had been completed by the Bellman himself with the words "and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one." So remonstrance was impossible, and no steering could be done till the next varnishing day. During these bewildering intervals the ship usually sailed backwards... (from Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, 1876)
All jokes aside--I hope he sees the joke--The Man at the Helm, aka SAM, aka The Doughy-Butt Bureaucrat, is doing the best he can to keep bearings, body, and soul--family--together, but circumstances being what they are, the grups have left home, and the yups have stayed behind to take care of things, garden-wise and otherwise. Home is only three hours away--two hours west and four hours east if you consider the time change--so I'll be back regularly to monitor the progress of this Monarda "Jacob Cline." I got several divisions for free--well, in exchange for some volunteer weeding--and I'm pleased so far with their progress in the front flower bed. They're supposed to be resistant to mildew, a common problem with bee balm, but they don't smell quite as fragrant as the varieties I've encountered before. Maybe that's why the bees haven't shown up for a sip. What the flowers lack in aroma, the foliage more than makes up for. Earl Grey would be thrilled to squeeze a few leaves for that famous bergamot essence.
The caterpillars were hard at work squeezing leaves--plundering and pinching my parsley--when I left so I added a few more plants for their Papilio pleasure. I hope they're pleased.
I can't seem to get enough daylilies to fill my flower beds at home. They seem to grow just as well in northwest Florida as they did for me in Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky. Our home in Florida, near Pensacola, is far enough away from the coastline (thanks for asking, Clementine Moonflower!) that salt tolerance is not an issue. Daylily blooms are about as fleeting as a little boy's jokes, and I know that the Man at the Helm will see the humor in them. The last time we had a visit from Micah to our home near Pensacola, he entertained us with his newly acquired sense of humor. We celebrated his third birthday in May, and I believe he may be on his way to celebrated comedian status before very long.
Bit o' Humor #1: We are all relaxing in the living room after supper, talking about this and that, and one impatient little boy wants to be heard. He covers his ears and with a serious expression exclaims: "Ears, people, ears!" What? Ears? His mom explains that his preschool teacher has a kinder, gentler way of saying "Shut up!" Good for her!
Bit o' Humor #2: Son is trying to help Micah into his car seat in the family van so they can go home, but Micah has other priorities. He wants to stuff something into his back pack and secure it for the bumpy ride home (they live on an unpaved road). Son: "Micah, come on now; get in your car seat." Micah: Mumbles something inaudible, and then with a dramatic flair, "Wait a minute, babe!" Babe? From the mouth of, well, a babe? Yes. He not only parrots what mom and dad say but also their expressive endearments for each other.
Bit o' Humor #3: After Son has installed Micah in said car seat, he finds a nickel on the floor and presents it to Micah as a prize for complying with parental guidance. Micah's response, complete with arms spread as wide as little ones can possibly be? "I want BIG money, daddy! BIG!"
I have to admit that the local (Pensacola, FL/Mobile, AL) forecasts are much more colorful and engaging than the ones in Tallahassee. All that we get there is the weather. And that "big money"? Well, let's just say that the lawyers have found a way to keep it coming their way for a very long time to come. You might say it's a "Barrister's Dream" come true, if the "pig"--Big Oil, BP, capitalism?--is allowed to live for a little while longer.
Fit the Sixth.
The Barrister's Dream
They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.
But the Barrister, weary of proving in vain
That the Beaver's lace-making was wrong,
Fell asleep, and in dreams saw the creature quite plain
That his fancy had dwelt on so long.
He dreamed that he stood in a shadowy Court,
Where the Snark, with a glass in its eye,
Dressed in gown, bands, and wig, was defending a pig
On the charge of deserting its sty.
The Witnesses proved, without error or flaw,
That the sty was deserted when found:
And the Judge kept explaining the state of the law
In a soft under-current of sound.
The indictment had never been clearly expressed,
And it seemed that the Snark had begun,
And had spoken three hours, before any one guessed
What the pig was supposed to have done.
The Jury had each formed a different view
(Long before the indictment was read),
And they all spoke at once, so that none of them knew
One word that the others had said.
"You must know--" said the Judge: but the Snark exclaimed
That statute is obsolete quite!
Let me tell you, my friends, the whole question depends
On an ancient manorial right.
"In the matter of Treason the pig would appear
To have aided, but scarcely abetted:
While the charge of Insolvency fails, it is clear,
If you grant the plea 'never indebted.'
"The fact of Desertion I will not dispute:
But its guilt, as I trust, is removed
(So far as relates to the costs of this suit)
By the Alibi which has been proved.
"My poor client's fate now depends on your votes."
Here the speaker sat down in his place,
And directed the Judge to refer to his notes
And briefly to sum up the case.
But the Judge said he never had summed up before;
So the Snark undertook it instead,
And summed it so well that it came to far more
Than the Witnesses ever had said!
When the verdict was called for, the Jury declined,
As the word was so puzzling to spell;
But they ventured to hope that the Snark wouldn't mind
Undertaking that duty as well.
So the Snark found the verdict, although, as it owned,
It was spent with the toils of the day:
When it said the word "GUILTY!" the Jury all groaned,
And some of them fainted away.
Then the Snark pronounced sentence, the Judge being quite
Too nervous to utter a word:
When it rose to its feet, there was silence like night,
And the fall of a pin might be heard.
"Transportation for life" was the sentence it gave,
"And then to be fined forty pound."
The Jury all cheered, though the Judge said he feared
That the phrase was not legally sound.
But their wild exultation was suddenly checked
When the jailer informed them, with tears,
Such a sentence would have not the slightest effect,
As the pig had been dead for some years.
The Judge left the Court, looking deeply disgusted:
But the Snark, though a little aghast,
As the lawyer to whom the defence was intrusted,
Went bellowing on to the last.
Thus the Barrister dreamed, while the bellowing seemed
To grow every moment more clear:
Till he woke to the knell of a furious bell,
Which the Bellman rang close at his ear.