Sub/urban poetry

Time to fold up this tent and move into my/our deepest meditation zone

for I/we see we have exited our middle-life years

of high-anxiety, rush-rush-rush, fear we’ll die without accomplishing anything.

No more worries about being forgotten

which drove us to write our own origin stories, books and blogs.

We enter our later-life years, not yet our late-life or end-of-life years,

where we begin to harvest the fruits of our labours and investments in retirement,

disconnected from the younger generations,

leaving them to their own social anxieties.

Our path is individualistic in thought

even when it follows well-trodden social change in recent decades that led before us,

tromping on,

bulldozing over,

crushing flat uneven territory little touched by previous thousands of our species’ evolving generations.

We return to the sanitized suburbs of our youth,

securely cocooned,

locked in place like a jigsaw puzzle piece.

We hope you forget about us,

looking to others for inspiration and

distraction from daily drudgery.

We will remember your kindness

in the many “like” presses you made on our blog entries through the years,

your occasional comments much appreciated.

Our journey was prescribed for us at birth.

We have oft resisted but rarely strayed far from our clearly-defined destination.

We are domesticated, if not sophisticated animals,

comfortable in our gilded cages.

Thank you for your time and attention.

G’day, mates!


Inflationary expectations

We bought our starter home in 1987 for $91,900, choosing to stay in it as long as possible, making minimum wear-and-tear repairs for 30+ years.

Zillow now says our home is worth about $155,000.


$91,900 in 1987 →$201,428.46 in 2018

Thank goodness, we wisely managed a stock, mutual fund and bond portfolio as our primary source of retirement funds, not our house, whose price hasn’t kept up with inflation!

What’s the treehouse worth?!

Sunday morning meditation

Today, we give pause to ourselves as states of energy in motion and focus on the preconceived notion of set as self.

For many years I pondered who I am, who I was and who I was going to be/become.

Seemed difficult at times in those moments of self-reflection, self-condemnation, self-doubt.

Self-destruction ruled many a thought for years.

But we, our many iterations of self in the moment, outlived ourselves, iteration upon iteration accumulating junk in our cells, our skin losing its elasticity, our organs aging appropriately given the input and stimuli we/I subjected them to.

Which brings the currently running iteration of my self to this moment, an impossible to capture snapshot in time, the air passing into and out of our lungs, the gaseous exchange in our blood feeding all the many parts as we drink tea, turning our stomach on and slightly altering our brain processes as we attempt to meditate unencumbered by outside influences.

We (or I) continue on our (my) journey unto death, a path we once thought was taken alone but years of accumulated observations we call wisdom have taught us that nothing is alone in the universe, all of us connected to the atoms bouncing around, the wavelengths intersecting, the gamma rays and cosmic waves passing through and around us without end.

So it is I sit here now, in familiar surroundings that change imperceptibly, the same piles of abandoned art projects reflecting visible wavelengths to our optic nerves, wondering not who I am but what I will do next.

I am the set of states of energy that I am, no worries about purposes or causes or origins or endings.

I rejoice in my temporary status as a labeled being recognisable by others like me and other living beings which react to me, from the cats in the house to the mosquitoes in the backyard.

What will I do next?

Today, the choices are limited by my imagination.  I will continue to build the backyard writer’s cottage (at my wife’s urging), spending some portion of the day brushing wood preservative onto pieces of pallet wood which I will use as the lower walls of the writer’s cottage, later fitting them together like jigsaw pieces into the foundation flooring up on a rock shelf in the woods.

The experience building and completing this cottage I will apply to the next building I construct in the backyard of our new home, a pallet wood garden shed, assuming all goes well and we get the house and property we’ve laid our eyes on.

Tomorrow, I meet a home inspector who I hope is as impartial as can be hoped (favouring neither the seller nor the buyer) to give my wife and me a true assessment of the house we think we’ll move into next.

Tomorrow, I will not be the person I am today or the person I will be in a few seconds.

I do not exist except as a concept but a concept that most people can readily react to as all of us are taught to react to each other as if our selves from moment to moment are continuously the same if not contiguous.

I mentally look at the rooms of our house and see the decrease in their usefulness as we accepted furniture and personal belongings of our dead relatives:

  • two back bedrooms filled with family furniture pieces that have narrow pathways to walk around the rooms,
  • the back bathroom in which we use the shower daily and feed the younger cat kitten food,
  • the sunroom mostly filled with my wife’s handmade card crafting supplies and tools,
  • the dining room filled with display cabinets and handmade card crafting material,
  • the living room with its baby grand piano and antique pump organ, media entertainment center, handmade card crafting material, wall artwork stacked on the floor, sofa and chair, and stacks of hardwood flooring we’ve never installed in the house,
  • the master bedroom with clothes chests, shoes all over the place, walk-in closet filled with clothes and shoes,
  • master bathroom (truly just a w.c.) with nonfunctioning shower,
  • kitchen with every counter covered with stuff,
  • breakfast room that serves as my wife’s second closet,
  • pantry filled with foodstuff,
  • laundry room half-filled with stacks of hardwood flooring we’ve never installed in the house, with a chest freezer, clothes washer and dryer,
  • garage that holds one car and one motorcycle, otherwise filled with tools and inherited furniture/tools not good/strong enough for daily use, a workbench covered with my incomplete projects, and, finally,
  • two outside storage bins, one next to the garage for a whole-house petrol-powered generator, the other under the front deck filled with seasonal decorations and floor tiles we’ve never installed in the house.

The point being that if we continued down the thought path of decluttering our current house, we’d have the room we needed, the only exception being my wife’s wish for a single-level home with parking spaces for her friends to come over and work on their handmade card projects together, many of them older and unable to easily walk up a flight of stairs to get to our front door, let alone park on the street and walk up the driveway to get to the sidewalk and flight of stairs at our house.


No matter what, I keep writing, starting many projects, finishing a few.  It is the story of my life, a good story, solid, quiet, a few thrills along the way, hardly earthshaking, not globally historic, fun, relaxing and approaching the last years of my life, satisfied.

Rock. Gardening. Rock. On.

What once was a rocky knob in the landscape, too hilly for farming, a higher point on the landscape traversed by deer and other animals, (some of them hunted by thousands of years of our human presence), full of fossilised seabed, converted to suburban estate tract, with a small backyard patch of mowable grass, became an herb garden….

…then a flower garden…

…and slowly but surely returns to its forest roots…

The frogs remain the same…from 2004…

…to today!

Can we tell you with these images how happy we’ve been, living the childhood dream of a full-length adult life centred on a cottage in the woods near a town full on intelligentsia?

Would you understand we’ve too often let others temporarily convince us that two people quietly living their lives for each other and no one else can’t possibly be true happiness?

On this, St. Patrick’s Day, whilst we wear a Munster rugby shirt, drink Earl Gray tea and burn a bit of peat turf, our wife at a friend’s house handcrafting note cards, we recall this day 12 years ago when we and our spouse stood on O’Connell’s Bridge in Dublin with work colleagues, snow falling, and watched the Americanised version of the Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade. We drank quite a bit in those days.

We don’t consume fermented beverages in the quantities we used to, giving our set of states of energy the opportunity to live and die without the poisonous effect of alcohol pickling.

In our mid-50s, we’ve survived our midlife crisis years that extended from age 39 (when we jumped out of an airplane) to age 55 (when we bought a motorcycle).

Now we settle down, childless, free of the pursuit of a reproductive mate that included seven years of dancing, drinking and sleepless nights.

We return to our core set of beliefs that include this cottage and the near celibate life of a woodland hermit monk.

We give up pleasing others, reduce the need for chameleon personality traits, disregard our adolescent contrarian ways and meditate on relaxing, no expectations, no deadlines, nothing but the pure joy of meaninglessness.

We’ve written the text we needed to form our own personal creation myths — poems, short stories, novels, skits, plays and sketches, including photographic essays (“a picture’s worth a thousand words”) — removing the need for creation myths and organised religions of others.

We wonder, other than this ongoing set of dispersed blogs, if we’ll write a fictional narrative tale that’ll take on the traditional book-length novel form.

Should we? Do we need or want to?

What if being here is all we want?

Food for thought…just in time for lunch!

Hardware, hard life

Today’s historic photo stop:

J. C. Brown General Merchandise

Jesse Charles Brown was a native of Falls Mill, Tenn., near Huntland. In the late 1890s, he came to Huntsville after the deaths of his parents.

He was brought here because someone saw him perched on a fence post – the universal symbol at the time that someone was in need.

For a year or so, he worked for P.F. Dunnavant, the legendary owner of Dunnavant’s Department Store.

In 1898, he opened his general merchandise store in west Huntsville, where business was thriving with the development of the textile mills.

Located near a row of microbreweries…

With an interesting brick building across the street…

This corner has potential for something, but what? The neighbourhood has many Hispanic businesses. Perhaps a Latin music dance hall with a bar that serves Cuban food?

When a writer relearns how to code

Was there ever a time when we programmed well, if not efficiently?

Sure, there were the early BASIC days on the TRS-80, later on the ZX81.

We had our stint writing PASCAL, then C, but never C++ or C#.

A bit of Visual C, to be sure, in our days as software test engineering lab manager at Conexant (formerly Rockwell Semiconductor) running a team that verified our company’s products (including Linux servers disguised as Windows-compatible ADSL gateway modems) met Microsoft WHQL standards, and later, at Avocent, ensuring cross-platform compatibility for Microsoft, Apple, Linux and other operating systems.


Let’s be honest with ourselves. We’ve faded in our programming capabilities.

Use it or lose it, as they say.

So it is that we find ourselves basically back at the drawing board, back to bits and bytes, working our way up to Arduino script and Python Shell on Raspberry Pi Linux.

Today’s lesson: the difference between/dev/ttyUSB0 (or 1, or n) and others/dev/ttyACM0 (or 1, or n) .

In a nutshell, according to this website, “another control model, aptly named abstract control model or ACM, lets the modem hardware perform the analog functions, and require that it supports the ITU V.250 (also known as Hayes in its former life) command set, either in the data stream or as a separate control stream through the communication class interface. …the devices offering UART-over-USB functionalities are named /dev/ttyUSB0, /dev/ttyUSB1, and so on, even though they are in fact using distinct device drivers.”

Does that mean anything to you?  It might.  It does to us, springing to memory the old days of dialup modems long before ADSL and cable modems, before Gigabit Ethernet, CDMA/GSM, FTTx (fiber to the curb, home, etc.), WiFi, driverless cars and drone taxis.

Why are we relearning all this?

First of all, why not?

Second of all, in our transition to a computing world of AI that no longer uses bits and bytes, when quantum computing leads to the Next Great Thing, it’s good to see where we were so that we better understand where we’ll be.

After all, we said goodbye to Guin but haven’t completely forgotten who we are 400 earthyears from now.

In the not so distant future, we know we don’t look or act like the human interface devices you see and think as yourselves as today.

In other words, the Elegoo Uno R3 and Adafruit Circuit Playground Express devices allow us to be nostalgic in our late middle-aged years.

We understand by doing so where we deliberately drop pebbles in the pond of this set of devices we call a few billion instances of a species labeled Homo sapiens.

We live in this moment but see where we set in motion activities millions of years from now.

Don’t you?