What's It All About, eh?

Cape Breton evokes deep memories and strong emotions for me as well as a deep appreciation for the beauty of my adopted island. My hopes are that you too might find the photos evocative - maybe a view you've not enjoyed before, or an 'Oh I've been there', or if from away that you may be encouraged to visit this fair isle so that you might come to love and breathe Cape Breton as I do. One word about place names that I use - some are completely local usage while others are from maps of Cape Breton that I've purchased over the years. I frequently post travel and other photos that are of interest to me - and hopefully you.

On the right hand side bar find my take on Single Malt whiskey - from how to best enjoy this noble drink to reviews (in a most non-professional manner) of ones that I have tried and liked - or not. Also musings, mine and others, on life in general.

Photographs are roughly 98%+ my own and copy-righted. For the occasional photo that is borrowed, credit is given where possible - recently I have started posting unusual net photographs that seem unique. Feel free to borrow any of my photos for non-commercial use, otherwise contact me. Starting late in 2013 I have tried to be consistent in identifying my photographs using ©smck on all out of camera photos I personally captured - (I often do minor computer changes such as 'crop' or 'shadow' etc but usually nothing major), and using
©norvellhimself on all photos that I have played around with in case it might not be obvious. Lately I have dropped the ©smck and have watermarked them with the blog name.

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a darker blade of black - from West of Eden, written by c o mccauley

a darker blade of black

they served Molotov cocktails
                off a balcony
                                of the lane xang hotel

hunter thomson
                wearing only Bermuda shorts
                                sipped gin in the lobby

a pretty young Laotian girl
                brought buckets of ice
                                and fondled his lap

massive doses of acid
                ignored mortar rounds
                                but caught the slow blur

of a high ceiling fan
                circling monsoon air
                                from the Mekong river

pathet lao voices chattered
                as AK-47s opened up
                                and I drank wild-turkey naked

on the kingsized bed
                in a hollow dark room
                                complete with refrigerator and bar

a lethal pill furnished
                by CIA to all pilots
                                close on the teak night stand

exploding mortars
                sucked the air with brilliant strobes

the gardener was killed
                along with a few palm trees

sulfur  shrapnel   and a severed arm
                closed the Olympic swimming pool
                                for a week

Saigon was still infected
                with khaki and deceit

as more nuggets and puddleknockers
                arrived at Vientiane

waiting with swagger
                for a clandestine flight
                                into the shadow war

their gray flight bags a dead-give-away

airborne assassins
                under cover of Washington
                                we flew dark missions of deception

and my morning sweats
                on that cold tile floor of the lane xang
                                would last a long time

as I mutilate nights into a dead morning

I believe this is written by an old acquaintance  of mine from the little town of  North East as I am fairly certain that he served in Vietnam as a pilot.

Eidolon - II

In the Dark - A blog about the Universe, and all that surrounds it - with reference to my photograph 'Eidolon'



Off early this morning, as I have to travel to the frozen North to give a seminar in a foreign land. Time, therefore, to pad this blog thing out with another poem. I haven’t posted much by Walt Whitman so now seems like a good time to correct the omission. This is called Eidolons, and it’s taken from Whitman’s famous and, at the time of its publication, controversial, collection of poems Leaves of Grass.
The word itself is from the Greek ειδωλον, meaning an image, spectre or phantom and, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (which Whitman would of course not have been using), it can have the additional meanings in English of a “mental image” or an “insubstantial appearance”, a “false image or fallacy”. It  also has the meaning of “an image of an idealised person or thing”, and is thus the origin of the word Idol.
Eidolons is written in Whitman’s characteristic free verse style, with a broad sweep and strong cadences which really should be read out loud rather than silently on the page.
I’ve heard it said that this poem is anti-scientific. I suppose it is, in some respects, but only if you think that science is capable of telling us everything there is to know about the Universe. I don’t think of science like that, so I don’t see this poem as anti-scientific. It celebrates world beyond that which we perceive directly and that which our minds comprehend. Our representations of true reality are eidolons because they are incomplete and imperfect and not, I think, because they are mere fallacies. Whitman is not saying science is wrong, just that it only gives us part of the picture.
Anyway, that’s why I think. Read for yourself and see what you think. But whether or not it is anti-science it is definitely about science. The references to professors, stars, spectroscopes and the like are all clear. He even seems to be having a pre-emptive dig at the multiverse theory!
I met a seer,
Passing the hues and objects of the world,
The fields of art and learning, pleasure, sense,
To glean eidolons.
Put in thy chants said he,
No more the puzzling hour nor day, nor segments, parts, put in,
Put first before the rest as light for all and entrance-song of all,
That of eidolons.
Ever the dim beginning,
Ever the growth, the rounding of the circle,
Ever the summit and the merge at last, (to surely start again,)
Eidolons! eidolons!
Ever the mutable,
Ever materials, changing, crumbling, re-cohering,
Ever the ateliers, the factories divine,
Issuing eidolons.
Lo, I or you,
Or woman, man, or state, known or unknown,
We seeming solid wealth, strength, beauty build,
But really build eidolons.
The ostent evanescent,
The substance of an artist’s mood or savan’s studies long,
Or warrior’s, martyr’s, hero’s toils,
To fashion his eidolon.
Of every human life,
(The units gather’d, posted, not a thought, emotion, deed, left out,)
The whole or large or small summ’d, added up,
In its eidolon.
The old, old urge,
Based on the ancient pinnacles, lo, newer, higher pinnacles,
From science and the modern still impell’d,
The old, old urge, eidolons.
The present now and here,
America’s busy, teeming, intricate whirl,
Of aggregate and segregate for only thence releasing,
To-day’s eidolons.
These with the past,
Of vanish’d lands, of all the reigns of kings across the sea,
Old conquerors, old campaigns, old sailors’ voyages,
Joining eidolons.
Densities, growth, facades,
Strata of mountains, soils, rocks, giant trees,
Far-born, far-dying, living long, to leave,
Eidolons everlasting.
Exalte, rapt, ecstatic,
The visible but their womb of birth,
Of orbic tendencies to shape and shape and shape,
The mighty earth-eidolon.
All space, all time,
(The stars, the terrible perturbations of the suns,
Swelling, collapsing, ending, serving their longer, shorter use,)
Fill’d with eidolons only.
The noiseless myriads,
The infinite oceans where the rivers empty,
The separate countless free identities, like eyesight,
The true realities, eidolons.
Not this the world,
Nor these the universes, they the universes,
Purport and end, ever the permanent life of life,
Eidolons, eidolons.
Beyond thy lectures learn’d professor,
Beyond thy telescope or spectroscope observer keen, beyond all mathematics,
Beyond the doctor’s surgery, anatomy, beyond the chemist with his chemistry,
The entities of entities, eidolons.
Unfix’d yet fix’d,
Ever shall be, ever have been and are,
Sweeping the present to the infinite future,
Eidolons, eidolons, eidolons.
The prophet and the bard,
Shall yet maintain themselves, in higher stages yet,
Shall mediate to the Modern, to Democracy, interpret yet to them,
God and eidolons.
And thee my soul,
Joys, ceaseless exercises, exaltations,
Thy yearning amply fed at last, prepared to meet,
Thy mates, eidolons.
Thy body permanent,
The body lurking there within thy body,
The only purport of the form thou art, the real I myself,
An image, an eidolon.
Thy very songs not in thy songs,
No special strains to sing, none for itself,
But from the whole resulting, rising at last and floating,
A round full-orb’d eidolon.

Or Not?

I had originally meant to title 'What's a porch for?' as 'Relaxavue' and then follow it up with this fairly large spider entitled 'Or Not' as the spider was on the front supporting wall of the porch (just below the green bucket in 'Whats a porch for?') - so I left the title the same but had to do a quick explain, eh?

What's A Porch For, Anyhow?

One Of My Boundary Paths - me on the left, State Forest on the right

Poison Ivy

Lighting Charcoal - in an old three pound coffee tin - no lighter fuel needed


"The ostent evanescent,
The substance of an artist's mood or savan's studies long,
Or warrior's, martyr's, hero's toils,
To fashion his eidolon."
excerpt from Walt Whitman 

Sandwiches - I sometimes like strange sandwiches

I love bread, dark and heavy, and for the past five or six years an unsliced store bread called Artisan Multigraine that is the closest that I have came to the bread I made my self starting with a cold oven.  I go through at least a loaf per day, toasted and spread with butter, Vegemite, occasionally a homemade jelly, sandwiches normal, and sandwiches unusual to most. I will list the three sandwiches that most people seem to never try:
1.  peanut butter and mustard
2.  inexpensive blue cheese and fir preserve
3.  simple butter and Vegemite with Cooper white cheese

if you ever eat strange or unlikely sandwiches please comment on this post so that I can spread the word. 


Correction to comment on 'Chicken Mushroom - III'

Being an American I do not think in metric but can usually mentally calculate a rough equivalent between English units and Metric units - thus when I estimated the diameter of this lovely mushroom as about one-half yard, and knowing that a 'yard' and a 'meter' were roughly equivalent (i.e. 39.37 inches is about a meter in length, and that 36 inches is about a yard in length) I blithely filled in a half of 39.37 inches (20") rather than a half of 100 centimeters (50 cm).  As I was driving home my sub-conscious passed me a message saying that 20 cm was a little off, eh?  

So with apologies, let me say that the mushroom had a diameter of about 50 cm give or take.

Chicken Mushroom - IV

last photo in this series - a little crop shot to show the detail of this mini-environment

Chicken Mushroom - III

This Chicken Mushroom is rated a 'Choice' edible - I have never tried this one, but it is tempting.  It is about 18 - 20 inches (about 50cm) in diameter - horizontally and would make a meal for a dozen or more.

Chicken Mushroom - II

Chicken Mushroom - Laetiporus sulphureus (also called Sulfur Shelf and Polyporus sulphoreus)

My wife, Carol, spied this lovely specimen while doing her morning walk - this incredible mushroom is in the upper middle of the photograph

The Solstice Bird

The Outermost House - II

Let me quote from the forward by Henry Beston in January 1949 in the copy of the book that I have:

"Now that there is a perspective of time, however, something else is emerging from the pages which equally arrests my attention.  It is the meditative perception of the relation of 'Nature' (and I include the whole cosmic picture in this term) to the human spirit.  Once again, I set down the core of what I continue to believe.  Nature is a part of our humanity, and without some awareness and experience of that divine mystery man ceases to be man. When the Pleiades and the wind in the grass are no longer a part of the human spirit, a part of very flesh and bone, man becomes , as it were, a kind of cosmic outlaw, having neither the completeness and integrity of the animal nor the birthright of a true humanity."

The Outermost House, by Henry Beston - © 1928

I have read this book (unlike most of the numerous books that I have consumed in my lifetime) several times at intervals each time of some number of years and tonight when perusing books piled in my den-room I picked it up and as it fell randomly open I began to read without volition as easily as one can fall into conversation with an old friend on meeting them unexpectedly around the town or in the street, and the words and sentences lulled soothingly into my awareness of the world around me in those days before I formed in the chaos of this universe so that I was walking the beach at night hearing the ocean, the sigh of the wind, the smashing of the waves, the coolness of the damp and night, the awareness of my own life and it's absence before and after I am here and it is like returning to home in the way that we know we cannot but yet we long to do.  Read this book - again if you have read it before, or for the first time if you have been blind until now, let it sooth you, let it open your awareness to the earth, and to the sea, and to the night, and to the wind, and to the vastness of what should be the natural world around you and know that this is the bible of our senses that we have sought since we were young.


18 June 2013, pencil sketched today

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there may be more countries but google's stats only list the first ten - one of these times I am going to track it day by day