Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Dear Michael ~

Mayor Bloomberg and Gov Cuomo, dour ones, have been fine enough about the NY region during Hurricane Sandy, but right now I'm excited about the big balls on the big fellow Gov Chris Christie. Self-involved and every inch a dynamo and just maybe the guy, a Republican! in Lowell Weicker clothing and guts, who could pull Obama up and through the election. Bipartisan at work without any strings of the usual media / politico mumbo-jumbo. Maybe two leaders who really have some idea about leading.


Hurricane Irene was the test last year for all of us, and Gov Shumlin of Vermont learned quicker than either Cuomo or Bloomberg who watch the largest city in America float there at the shore line inches from disaster, year after year, and have done very little with dire warnings for over a decade. Hell, you and I can remember as we read our Barry Commoner, Peter Berg, and Sierra Club journals in 1970 the warnings that were already forecast for the environment. Many listened and put their life shoulder into a lifestyle honoring ecology, most didn't, and few leaders lasted who tried to act on it, from Jimmy Carter on down. So mother nature sent Hurricane "Sandy". And I think next time she'll send Hurricane "Shitstorm", or Hurricane "Slander". It'll get rougher and rougher. It's already a very tragic scene in parts of NY city and on the southern Jersey shores.


Did you know Sweetheart's family founded a part of New Jersey, actually around Jersey City? It was called Paulus Hook and it's still there, around 1640. It stares across the Hudson right at the old Twin Towers location. Not that I've been there. It turns out our best pal Janine (Pommy Vega) was born in Jersey City and Sweetheart never realized it was on the very same ground her forefathers founded. They'd have fun talking about that if Janine was still with us all.


I hope your family is doing okay in NY watery. We kept the media on the past two days and just followed the storm waiting for our power to knock down any minute, but it never did. Some small miracle for a change. Lost one tree, a maple, which I cut up yesterday as easy street next to the hundreds I've cut in the past year post-Irene.


We got enough rain to make the river wilder which we forever like best. Though not a flood threat.


And here it is Halloween. When Carson was little it was such a soft and trickster day for all of us taking him up to the village for a few door knocks and sweets. It'd be easier to get Carson at age 27 to come with us tonight to rap on village doors than to find that old village of welcomers and delight. Small lamps lit by a strong door. Mainly gone. The best has slipped away. It was all once part of that infrastructure called "old ways". You couldn't buy it, own it, build it, or scream to get it. You had to believe. In ghosts.  

photo "carson at ready" © bob arnold

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


More Than 8 Million U.S. Homes Without Power
About 8.5 million households from Maine to Michigan to North Carolina, representing about 7 percent of the country’s population, lacked power Tuesday afternoon, officials said

Here are the state-by-state figures from The Associated Press:
*New Jersey: 2.5 million.
*New York: 2.3 million.
*Pennsylvania: 1.2 million.
*Connecticut: 615,000.
*Maryland: 290,000.
*Massachusetts: 290,000.
*West Virginia: 271,000.
*Ohio: 250,000.
*New Hampshire: 210,000.
*Virginia: 180,000.
*Rhode Island: 110,000.
*Maine: 86,000.
*Michigan: 79,000.
*Delaware: 45,000.
*Washington, D.C.: 25,000.
*Vermont: 10,000.
*North Carolina: 6,600.

We were lucky this time on the river — just a flicker of power wanting to go out, but miraculously it hasn't. Unlike last year with Hurricane Irene where we lost the river for awhile, most of the road, and days on end of no power or phone. 

A rock maple tree came down with the storm and we have that bucked up for next year's firewood.

Right now we're thinking most of our brothers, sisters, and critters who are lost or hurting in so many of these states. United States.  


28 October 2012,

Our Words Are Our Weapons
    Against the Destruction of the World by Greed
       by Rebecca Solnit


In ancient China, the arrival of a new dynasty was accompanied by “the rectification of names,” a ceremony in which the sloppiness and erosion of meaning that had taken place under the previous dynasty were cleared up and language and its subjects correlated again. It was like a debt jubilee, only for meaning rather than money.

This was part of what made Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign so electrifying: he seemed like a man who spoke our language and called many if not all things by their true names. Whatever caused that season of clarity, once elected, Obama promptly sank into the stale, muffled, parallel-universe language wielded by most politicians, and has remained there ever since. Meanwhile, the far right has gotten as far as it has by mislabeling just about everything in our world -- a phenomenon which went supernova in this year of “legitimate rape,” “the apology tour,” and “job creators.”  Meanwhile, their fantasy version of economics keeps getting more fantastic. (Maybe there should be a rectification of numbers, too.)

Let’s rectify some names ourselves. We often speak as though the source of so many of our problems is complex and even mysterious. I'm not sure it is. You can blame it all on greed: the refusal to do anything about climate change, the attempts by the .01% to destroy our democracy, the constant robbing of the poor, the resultant starving children, the war against most of what is beautiful on this Earth.

Calling lies "lies" and theft "theft" and violence "violence," loudly, clearly, and consistently, until truth becomes more than a bump in the road, is a powerful aspect of political activism. Much of the work around human rights begins with accurately and aggressively reframing the status quo as an outrage, whether it’s misogyny or racism or poisoning the environment. What protects an outrage are disguises, circumlocutions, and euphemisms -- “enhanced interrogation techniques” for torture, “collateral damage” for killing civilians, “the war on terror” for the war against you and me and our Bill of Rights.

Change the language and you’ve begun to change the reality or at least to open the status quo to question. Here is Confucius on the rectification of names:

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

So let’s start calling manifestations of greed by their true name. By greed, I mean the attempt of those who have plenty to get more, not the attempts of the rest of us to survive or lead a decent life. Look at the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame: the four main heirs are among the dozen richest people on the planet, each holding about $24 billion. Their wealth is equivalent to that of the bottom 40% of Americans. The corporation Sam Walton founded now employs 2.2 million workers, two-thirds of them in the U.S., and the great majority are poorly paid, intimidated, often underemployed people who routinely depend on government benefits to survive. You could call that Walton Family welfare -- a taxpayers' subsidy to their system. Strikes launched against Wal-Mart this summer and fall protested working conditions of astonishing barbarity -- warehouses that reach 120 degrees, a woman eight months pregnant forced to work at a brutal pace, commonplace exposure to pollutants, and the intimidation of those who attempted to organize or unionize.

You would think that $24,000,000,000 apiece would be enough, but the Walton family sits atop a machine intent upon brutalizing tens of millions of people -- the suppliers of Wal-Mart notorious for their abysmal working conditions, as well as the employees of the stores -- only to add to piles of wealth already obscenely vast. Of course, what we call corporations are, in fact, perpetual motion machines, set up to endlessly extract wealth (and leave slagheaps of poverty behind) no matter what.

They are generally organized in such a way that the brutality that leads to wealth extraction is committed by subcontractors at a distance or described in euphemisms, so that the stockholders, board members, and senior executives never really have to know what’s being done in their names. And yet it is their job to know -- just as it is each of our jobs to know what systems feed us and exploit or defend us, and the job of writers, historians, and journalists to rectify the names for all these things.  

Groton to Moloch

The most terrifying passage in whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s gripping book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers is not about his time in Vietnam, or his life as a fugitive after he released the Pentagon Papers. It’s about a 1969 dinnertime conversation with a co-worker in a swanky house in Pacific Palisades, California.  It took place right after Ellsberg and five of his colleagues had written a letter to the New York Times arguing for immediate withdrawal from the unwinnable, brutal war in Vietnam, and Ellsberg’s host said, “If I were willing to give up all this... if I were willing to renege on... my commitment to send my son to Groton... I would have signed the letter.”

In other words, his unnamed co-worker had weighed trying to prevent the violent deaths of hundreds of thousands of people against the upper-middle-class perk of having his kid in a fancy prep school, and chosen the latter. The man who opted for Groton was, at least, someone who worked for what he had and who could imagine having painfully less. This is not true of the ultra-rich shaping the future of our planet.

They could send tens of thousands to Groton, buy more Renoirs and ranches, and still not exploit the poor or destroy the environment, but they’re as insatiable as they are ruthless. They are often celebrated in their aesthetic side effects: imposing mansions, cultural patronage, jewels, yachts.  But in many, maybe most, cases they got rich through something a lot uglier, and that ugliness is still ongoing. Rectifying the names would mean revealing the ugliness of the sources of their fortunes and the grotesque scale on which they contrive to amass them, rather than the gaudiness of the trinkets they buy with them. It would mean seeing and naming the destruction that is the corollary of most of this wealth creation.

A Storm Surge of Selfishness

Where this matters most is climate change. Why have we done almost nothing over the past 25 years about what was then a terrifying threat and is now a present catastrophe? Because it was bad for quarterly returns and fossil-fuel portfolios. When posterity indicts our era, this will be the feeble answer for why we did so little -- that the rich and powerful with ties to the carbon-emitting industries have done everything in their power to prevent action on, or even recognition of, the problem. In this country in particular, they spent a fortune sowing doubt about the science of climate change and punishing politicians who brought the subject up. In this way have we gone through four “debates” and nearly a full election cycle with climate change unmentioned and unmentionable.

These three decades of refusing to respond have wasted crucial time. It’s as though you were prevented from putting out a fire until it was raging: now the tundra is thawing and Greenland’s ice shield is melting and nearly every natural system is disrupted, from the acidifying oceans to the erratic seasons to droughts, floods, heat waves, and wildfires, and the failure of crops. We can still respond, but the climate is changed; the damage we all spoke of, only a few years ago, as being in the future is here, now.

You can look at the chief executive officers of the oil corporations -- Chevron’s John Watson, for example, who received almost $25 million ($1.57 million in salary and the rest in “compensation”) in 2011 -- or their major shareholders. They can want for nothing. They’re so rich they could quit the game at any moment. When it comes to climate change, some of the wealthiest people in the world have weighed the fate of the Earth and every living thing on it for untold generations to come, the seasons and the harvests, this whole exquisite planet we evolved on, and they have come down on the side of more profit for themselves, the least needy people the world has ever seen.

Take those billionaire energy tycoons Charles and David Koch, who are all over American politics these days. They are spending tens of millions of dollars to defeat Obama, partly because he offends their conservative sensibilities, but also because he is less likely to be a completely devoted servant of their profit margins. He might, if we shout loud enough, rectify a few names.  Under pressure, he might even listen to the public or environmental groups, while Romney poses no such problem (and under a Romney administration they will probably make more back in tax cuts than they are gambling on his election).

Two years ago, the Koch brothers spent $1 million on California’s Proposition 23, an initiative written and put on the ballot by out-of-state oil companies to overturn our 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act. It lost by a landslide, but the Koch brothers have also invested a small fortune in spreading climate-change denial and sponsoring the Tea Party (which they can count on to oppose climate change regulation as big government or interference with free enterprise). This year they’re backing a California initiative to silence unions. They want nothing to stand in the way of corporate power and the exploitation of fossil fuels. Think of it as another kind of war, and consider the early casualties.  

As the Irish Times put it in an editorial this summer:

Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, hundreds of millions are struggling to adapt to their changing climate. In the last three years, we have seen 10 million people displaced by floods in Pakistan, 13 million face hunger in east Africa, and over 10 million in the Sahel region of Africa face starvation. Even those figures only scrape the surface. According to the Global Humanitarian Forum, headed up by former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, climate change is responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and affects 300 million people annually. By 2030, the annual death toll related to climate change is expected to rise to 500,000 and the economic cost to rocket to $600 billion.

This coming year may see a dramatic increase in hunger due to rising food prices from crop failures, including this summer’s in the U.S. Midwest after a scorching drought in which the Mississippi River nearly ran dry and crops withered.

We need to talk about climate change as a war against nature, against the poor (especially the poor of Africa), and against the rest of us. There are casualties, there are deaths, and there is destruction, and it’s all mounting. Rectify the name, call it war. While we’re at it, take back the term “pro-life” to talk about those who are trying to save the lives of all the creatures suffering from the collapse of the complex systems on which plant and animal as well as human lives depend. The other side: “pro-death.”

The complex array of effects from climate change and their global distribution, as well as their scale and the science behind them makes it harder to talk about than almost anything else on Earth, but we should talk about it all the more because of that. And yes, the rest of us should do more, but what is the great obstacle those who have already tried to do so much invariably come up against? The oil corporations, the coal companies, the energy industry, its staggering financial clout, its swarms of lobbyists, and the politicians in its clutches. Those who benefit most from the status quo, I learned in studying disasters, are always the least willing to change.

The Doublespeak on Taxes

I’m a Californian so I faced the current version of American greed early. Proposition 13, the initiative that froze property taxes and made it nearly impossible to raise taxes in our state, went into effect in 1978, two years before California’s former governor Ronald Reagan won the presidency, in part by catering to greed. Prop 13, as it came to be known, went into effect when California was still an affluent state with the best educational system in the world, including some of the top universities around, nearly free to in-staters all the way through graduate school. Tax cuts have trashed the state and that education system, and they are now doing the same to our country. The public sphere is to society what the biosphere is to life on earth: the space we live in together, and the attacks on them have parallels.

What are taxes? They are that portion of your income that you contribute to the common good. Most of us are unhappy with how they’re allocated -- though few outside the left talk about the fact that more than half of federal discretionary expenditures go to our gargantuan military, more money than is spent on the next 14 militaries combined. Ever since Reagan, the right has complained unceasingly about fantasy expenditures -- from that president’s “welfare queens” to Mitt Romney’s attack on Big Bird and PBS (which consumes .001% of federal expenditures).

As part of its religion of greed, the right invented a series of myths about where those taxes went, how paying them was the ultimate form of oppression, and what boons tax cuts were to bring us.  They then delivered the biggest tax cuts of all to those who already had a superfluity of money and weren’t going to pump the extra they got back into the economy. What they really were saying was that they wanted to hang onto every nickel, no matter how the public sphere was devastated, and that they really served the ultra-rich, over and over again, not the suckers who voted them into office.

Despite decades of cutting to the bone, they continue to promote tax cuts as if they had yet to happen. Their constant refrain is that we are too poor to feed the poor or educate the young or heal the sick, but the poverty isn’t monetary: it’s moral and emotional. Let’s rectify some more language: even at this moment, the United States remains the richest nation the world has ever seen, and California -- with the richest agricultural regions on the planet and a colossal high-tech boom still ongoing in Silicon Valley -- is loaded, too. Whatever its problems, the U.S. is still swimming in abundance, even if that abundance is divided up ever more unequally.

Really, there’s more than enough to feed every child well, to treat every sick person, to educate everyone well without saddling them with hideous debt, to support the arts, to protect the environment -- to produce, in short, a glorious society. The obstacle is greed. We could still make the sorts of changes climate change requires of us and become a very different nation without overwhelming pain. We would then lead somewhat different lives -- richer, not poorer, for most of us (in meaning, community, power, and hope). Because this culture of greed impoverishes all of us, it is, to call it by its true name, destruction.

Occupy the Names

One of the great accomplishments of Occupy Wall Street was this rectification of names. Those who came together under that rubric named the greed, inequality, and injustice in our system; they made the brutality of debt and the subjugation of the debtors visible; they called out Wall Street’s crimes; they labeled the wealthiest among us the “1%,” those who have made a profession out of pumping great sums of our wealth upwards (quite a different kind of tax).  It was a label that made instant sense across much of the political spectrum. It was a good beginning. But there’s so much more to do.

Naming is only part of the work, but it’s a crucial first step. A doctor initially diagnoses, then treats; an activist or citizen must begin by describing what is wrong before acting. To do that well is to call things by their true names. Merely calling out these names is a beam of light powerful enough to send the destroyers it shines upon scurrying for cover like roaches. After that, you still need to name your vision, your plan, your hope, your dream of something better.

Names matter; language matters; truth matters. In this era when the mainstream media serve obfuscation and evasion more than anything else (except distraction), alternative media, social media, demonstrations in the streets, and conversations between friends are the refuges of truth, the places where we can begin to rectify the names. So start talking.

Rebecca Solnit is the author of thirteen books, a TomDispatch regular, and from kindergarten to graduate school a product of the California public education system in its heyday. She would like the Republican Party to be called the Pro-Rape Party until further notice.

© Copyright 2012 Rebecca Solnit
Tom Dispatch: Rebecca Solnit

and dessert:

Monday, October 29, 2012





It isn’t right

to have the sea

come to us from

the sky but on

Monday that’s what

it did and every

one and every thing

that was once born

paid for it whether

there or not which

is the real message and

shape of this earth

[ BA ]
29 october 12

photo © bob arnold


I was in another New England town the other day, not my town, not that I live in any town per se and more along a river, and in this town which is an unusual and attractive town since it is built on a plateau where the main section of the road-in runs along a level plane. Beautiful homes. Easy walking. And right in the center of this town, on this plane, is a playing field, wide and sunny and all theirs, devoted to a school and children. The parking lot to get the kids here rings this large field and this is where the mothers and fathers come every day to leave-off and pick-up. It's quite an impressive civic and family duty to behold. Yes, the town is wealthy, but the center of town has an extremely active country store sort of facility run by what could be termed rednecks, and it's packed with all sorts of soup-to-nuts accessories, even a take out salad I saw one worker carry out along with cigarettes and two lag bolts for a job across the street. I bought a watch cap for $5.29. Black. Something I've always worn for the last 50 years. It cost twice that where I live.

So back to the kids, this sunny wide field, where it takes up all the center of the town. I've never seen a school or playground devoted with such expanse to children in any town before. Nearby I stood in a store with a woman clerk I just met and said to her with a nod of my head, "Look at those kids playing — dressed like it's still summer in shorts and t-shirts, and all the color!" She nodded and said "Yes, but there are also many of these same kids who have been badly affected by the hurricane (Irene) that blew through a year ago." I looked over again and watched these troubled children playing with such freedom. 

They are like thousands of children haunted by the big storm of a year ago. Unlike their parents who are stewed in their troubles, children can still run. Wear scruffy clothes. Play with one another. No real bias as to color, race, gender; let's just play. There's the sun, run in it. They do. It's 55 degrees and they are dressed for July. It's late October. Another hurricane (Sandy) is on its way.

One of the only ways possible to balance the scales of children so troubled by a haunting memory, or nightmare, is to equal it in status. Give a good to the bad, if that is at all possible.  Some say a trip to Disney World. I say how about making a better country? Why visit a fake world when you can build and shape a real world? Have we lost all context to why we exist? Or are we still moping around asking that very question: "Why do we exist?"

Same with adults, who most haven't had nearly the volume to absorb what they went through with 9-11, and before that the cheating ceremony of a Presidential election in 2000. Which may have happened again in 2004 (within Ohio), and in both cases we were given a village idiot as a President. One more figure head for the Neo-cons to channel in and run the show, ruin many countries, causing death, hardships and forcing broken economies to keep the masses broken, twisted and controlled.

Get a smart cookie like Barack Obama in there and he just starts to expose the corruption and where people can maybe take control of their actions and lives and make a better world for themselves. Get out from under the daily threat and foreboding, find a field to run in.

A hurricane is coming for the eastern seaboard. We're about to be together. And when we're forced together I only see people always working for people no matter race, color, gender, style, appearance or religion. Sometimes it takes a hurricane.

We have the outdoors as ready as we'll ever be, and indoors. The big trees have some idea something is coming, it's in the branches. Get your hair washed now, it may be some time without power. Both chain saws are fueled and sharp.

photo © bob  arnold

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I know, I'm with you, we're all sick to death of politics. They say, at this juncture in the Presidential campaign, it would take 80 days of straight viewing (the ever present "24-7") to consume all the ads for this campaign via television and radio from just the state of Ohio. Or maybe it was by television alone? Who. Cares. Although I do feel for those in Ohio. Vermont was the first state, I believe, to announce itself in the 2008 Presidential election as a winner that night for Barack Obama. You can do it, too, Ohio.

To cut to the chase: the far Right wishes to take over the country and have a CEO run the show as figurehead as they do damage behind the scenes, our backs, when we're asleep. Someone has to rest. Stay strong. Make sense. Don't give me the Left's Progressive party either and their insistence on alternative candidates. There is no alternative at this point between heaven and hell. Pick one.

These new Republicans will do serious damage to women's rights, children's care, education, the arts, our health, the Supreme Court, and of course the environment. They plan to boost the economy never realizing for a moment the only economy there is is the environment. It's the bank. Without a nourished and stable environment there is no economy. Money is worthless as the world gets overrun, burns and floods. Hunger hasn't been felt until you can't grow crops and plant life, feel yourself exist within an environment that is spacious and redeeming.

It's mind-bending to travel the back country of far northern New England. Talk about space. Out where it's now littered with junked machinery and scabbed together homes, always a dish satellite, a muddy yard, a stiff wind blown off some lake, bog, swamp, mountain top, and no hope whatsoever any CEO or far Rightwing fatcat working 100% for lobbyists, who are working for more executives, give two-shits about these folks scraping together $15,000 a year on whatever they can cob together with these broken machines, battered trucks, assembly line duties, and an ungodly perseverance to make-ends-meet. But they do. And they still don't get it when they pound a ROMNEY campaign sign down into their planet. May as well pound another nail into the coffin. Which is now our coffin.

Anyone but that black guy is the kindest thing you'll overhear when you wish to overhear. Somehow birds still sing, but there are some really angry sonsofbitches stalking around, driving the curved roads, making a slurred point it's the "black guy's" fault. These used to be the salt of the earth, the gritty practical heroes, the tools kept balanced and sharp handed down generation after generation. They'd never listen after one minute watching a fool talk out of three sides of his mouth as a majority of the Right now practices. But they speak White, O Civilwarnation.

In a whole wide world that is barely White (25%).

It's not Obama, or Romney — it's the People, and how they vote, or don't vote, that will set our course.

But, and plan on it, somewhere, some historian is already starting research on a large book about Barack Obama. It will be titled "The Debate" (#1).


Batten down the hatches. Yes batten.

It seems almost impossible to believe, but a week ago we were traveling deep into the interior of Vermont — small town slipped into small town, lakes, old bridges, new roads, country stores, not at all cheap gas in these parts — mostso around the White River region of the state, towns like Bethel and others, that were royally slammed by Hurricane Irene, and one can spot just the roadways that have been completely rebuilt, and others that are still being worked on, for well over a year. And now a hurricane called "Sandy" is heading our way. It was the title of a Hollies song I used to love. 

We've been "battening" for a few weeks now, in the usual winter preparation, and maybe sensing something was coming. The wooly caterpillars have been, each one, very brown at the center.

Two weeks ago I had a chance to work with an excavator and backhoe that was operating nearby and down into our land along the river to winch out logs I cut out from many hardwood trees that came down river last year with Irene full length. Rootball and all. This was on the second of two very small wooded islands on our property right on the river. You might remember last year at exactly this time I was cutting up trees on the first island and lugging all the wood home on my shoulder, up a steep stone staircase I had built to the roadside, loading the wood into our truck, and moving it home up on the knoll. Three months labor, like they did it once in Egypt and China. I wouldn't recommend it after the age of 50, or 60.

This time I got a very helping hand from friends with just the machine age at their disposal and expertise, so as I bucked up twenty foot logs, they got it all moved in a matter of hours. First onto the road edge for an overnight yarding, then up to our house the next day where I may get onto the logs in another year. We currently have twenty-four cord of wood in the dooryard and stuffed into the big woodshed, so there is no hurry for wood. Right now for Sandy's approach, I've been moving indoors easy wood to keep dry for about a week, and wouldn't think to touch the better firewood right off the kitchen and into the woodshed. That's for a state of emergency. One battened sealed.

We just did groceries for two weeks, which means I finally took off the big screen on the kitchen window for the season and will tuck that away tomorrow into the cellar. This opens the window to pass all the grocery satchels from me to Sweetheart as I empty out a vehicle and get the food stuff stored. Through the winter we'll pull the groceries to the same window with sled and unload in the same method. It's all greased.

We've also scouted and hunted up for weeks on end of new book acquisitions for the bookshop and will get those available over the snow months. The books came in tonight through the same window.

Leaves raked and composted, but now the oak leaves have to fall, and I believe Sandy will have the capacity to strip those off the trees like natives used to rake blueberries off their bushes in the old days. Let's hope it's just the leaves the hurricane strips and leaves the trees be. We don't need to lose more trees. Still along the Green River, never mind the White River further north, one can survey hundreds and hundreds of potential cords of firewood piled away into the banks of these rivers, twisted into some misbegotten shape, curved with the force of flood waters into some other form and identity called best "haunted", that few know exactly what to do with it all.

I heard two elderly women in the cellar of a library yesterday morning talk this way: "I can see you are stocking up (on books) for the next five or so days." The other woman smiles and nods "Oh yes. But I just hate to lose our power, then there will be no television at night and nothing to do." There is a quiet nodding of the heads. "I have my oil lamps ready on the kitchen table", one finally says, closing down the short but sweet conversation.

We have our many oil lamps, too. And one heavy-duty Makita work flashlight I go nowhere without when the power is down.

Laundry is all washed.

I rebuilt the summer driveway by hand and may watch it all wash away in one day of driving rain. The winter driveway is what it is: shorter, practical and away from the house.

Mail will all be addressed before the storm. 

50 gallons of rain water waits outdoors in their buckets. It could be 500 gallons of rain water before the storm has passed if we had enough buckets. 

The moon is lighting the night earth nicely.

Last night I watched the Giants back to back shutout the Tigers and the increasing and sinking sadness on the Tiger fans faces.

There are holes in my jeans to mend when all else shuts down and we get that awful long quiet. 

I want to think Barack Obama may look pretty handy and of help for the nation during this weather pounding. I could even go further and believe the gods have sent this storm right to us, a week before the Presidential election, to showcase the merits and ample good sense of Mr. Obama. Let's watch what happens.

I have news about our neighborhood and recent troubles but will hold off on that until this weather maker does its stuff. It's the difference between what could be serious trouble, and what has been irritating and despair.

More. And soon. Keep your head down, or up, at least around. 

photo : "Sandy" developing

(Ursula correction)

Once In Vermont films © bob arnold

Saturday, October 27, 2012



Back Road Chalkies
photo © bob arnold

Friday, October 26, 2012


Russell Means
(b. 1939)
Russell Means, a leader within the American Indian Movement who spearheaded a 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee in South Dakota

Raymond Souster
(b. 1921)
Canadian poet
A resident of Toronto all of his life, he has been called that city's "most loved poet"

George McGovern
(b. 1922)


Mitt Romney's Bailout Bonanza
    The Candidate and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the 2008 GM bailout

  by  Greg Palast

17 October 2012

(This investigation was supported by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute and by the Puffin Foundation. Elements of it appear in Palast’s new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps (Seven Stories). Research assistance by Zach D. Roberts, Ari Paul, Nader Atassi and Eric Wuestewald.)

Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout has haunted him on the campaign trail, especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio. There, in September, the Obama campaign launched television ads blasting Romney’s November 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.

It all starts with Delphi Automotive, a former General Motors subsidiary whose auto parts remain essential to GM’s production lines. No bailout of GM—or Chrysler, for that matter—could have been successful without saving Delphi. So, in addition to making massive loans to automakers in 2009, the federal government sent, directly or indirectly, more than $12.9 billion to Delphi—and to the hedge funds that had gained control over it.

One of the hedge funds profiting from that bailout—
$1.28 billion so far—is Elliott Management, directed by
Paul Singer. According to The Wall Street Journal, Singer has given more to support GOP candidates—$2.3 million—than anyone else on Wall Street this election season. His personal giving is matched by that of his colleagues at Elliott; collectively, they have donated $3.4 million to help elect Republicans this season, while giving only $1,650 to Democrats. And Singer is influential with the GOP presidential candidate; he’s not only an informal adviser but, according to the Journal, his support was critical in helping push Representative Paul Ryan onto the ticket.

Singer, whom Fortune magazine calls a “passionate defender of the 1%,” has carved out a specialty investing in distressed firms and distressed nations, which he does by buying up their debt for pennies on the dollar and then demanding payment in full. This so-called “vulture investor” received $58 million on Peruvian debt that he snapped up for $11.4 million, and $90 million on Congolese debt that he bought for a mere $20 million. In the process, he’s built one of the largest private equity firms in the nation, and over decades he’s racked up an unusually high average return on investments of 14 percent.

Other GOP presidential hopefuls chased Singer’s endorsement, but Mitt chased Singer with his own checkbook, investing at least $1 million with Elliott through Ann Romney’s blind trust (it could be far more, but the Romneys have declined to disclose exactly how much). Along the way, Singer gained a reputation, according to Fortune, “for strong-arming his way to profit.” That is certainly what happened at Delphi.

* * *

Delphi, once the Delco unit of General Motors, was spun off into a separate company in 1999. Alone, Delphi foundered, declaring bankruptcy in 2005, after which vulture hedge funds, led by Silver Point Capital, began to buy up the company’s old debt. Later, as the nation’s financial crisis accelerated, Singer’s Elliott bought Delphi debt, as did John Paulson & Co. John Paulson, like Singer, is a $1 million donor to Romney. Also investing was Third Point, run by Daniel Loeb, who was once an Obama supporter but who this summer hosted a $25,000-a-plate fundraiser for Romney and personally donated about $500,000 to the GOP.

As Delphi was in bankruptcy, making few payments, the bonds were junk, considered toxic by the banks holding them. The hedge funds were able to pick up the securities for a song; most of Elliott’s purchases cost just 20 cents on the dollar of their face value.

By the end of June 2009, with the bailout negotiations in full swing, the hedge funds, under Singer’s lead, used their bonds to buy up a controlling interest in Delphi’s stock. According to SEC filings, they paid, on average, an equivalent of only 67 cents per share.

Just two years later, in November 2011, the Singer syndicate took Delphi public at $22 a share, turning an eye-popping profit of more than 3,000 percent. Singer’s fund investors scored a gain of $904 million, all courtesy of the US taxpayer. But that’s not all. In the year since Delphi began trading publicly, its stock has soared 45 percent. Loeb’s gains so far for Third Point: $390 million. The gains for Silver Point, headed by two Goldman Sachs alums: $894 million. John Paulson’s fund, which has already sold half its holdings, has a $2.6 billion gain. And Singer’s funds and partners, combining what they’ve sold and what they hold, have $1.29 billion in profits, about forty-four times their original investment.

Yet without taking billions in taxpayer bailout funds—and slashing worker pensions—the hedge funds’ investment in Delphi would not have been worth a single dollar, according to calculations by GM and the US Treasury.

Altogether, in direct and indirect payouts, the government padded these investors’ profits handsomely. The Treasury allowed GM to give Delphi at least $2.8 billion of funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to keep Delphi in business. GM also forgave $2.5 billion in debt owed to it by Delphi, and $2 billion due from Singer and company upon Delphi’s exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The money GM forgave was effectively owed to the Treasury, which had by then become the majority owner of GM as a result of the bailout. Then there was the big one: the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation took over paying all of Delphi’s retiree pensions. The cost to the taxpayer: $5.6 billion. The bottom line: the hedge funds’ paydays were made possible by a generous donation of $12.9 billion from US taxpayers.

* * *

One of President Obama’s first acts in office, in February 2009, was to form the Auto Task Force with the goal of saving GM, Chrysler, their suppliers and, most important, auto industry jobs. Crucial to the plan was saving Delphi, which then employed more than 25,000 union workers.

Obama hired Steven Rattner, himself a millionaire hedge fund manager, to head the task force that would negotiate with the troubled firms and their creditors to avoid the collapse of the entire industry. In Rattner’s memoir of the affair, Overhaul, he describes a closed-door meeting held in March 2009 to resolve Delphi’s fate. He writes that Delphi, now in the possession of its hedge fund creditors, told the Treasury and GM to hand over $350 million immediately, “because if you don’t, we’ll shut you down.” His explanation was corroborated by Delphi’s chief financial officer, John Sheehan, who said in a sworn deposition in July 2009 that the hedge fund debt holders backed up their threat with “an analysis of the cost to GM if Delphi were unwilling or unable to provide supply to GM,” forcing a “shutdown.” It would take “years and tens of billions” for GM to replace Delphi’s parts. At that bleak moment, GM had neither. The automaker had left the inventory of its steering column and other key components in Delphi’s hands. If Delphi laid siege to GM’s parts supply, the bailout would fail and GM would have to be liquidated or sold off—as would another Delphi dependent, Chrysler.

Rattner could not believe that Delphi’s management—now effectively under the hedge funders’ control—would “want to be perceived as holding GM hostage at such a precarious economic moment.” One Wall Street Journal analyst suggested that Singer was treating Delphi “like a third world country.” Rattner likened the subsidies demanded by Delphi’s debt holders to “extortion demands by the Barbary pirates.”

Romney has slammed the bailout as a payoff to the auto workers union. But that certainly wasn’t true for the bailout of Delphi. Once the hedge funders, including Singer—a deep-pocketed right-wing donor and activist who serves as chair of the conservative, anti-union Manhattan Institute—took control of the firm, they rid Delphi of every single one of its 25,200 unionized workers.

Of the twenty-nine Delphi plants operating in the United States when the hedge funders began buying up control, only four remain, with not a single union production worker. Romney’s “job creators” did create jobs—in China, where Delphi now produces the parts used by GM and other major automakers here and abroad. Delphi is now incorporated overseas, leaving the company with 5,000 employees in the United States (versus almost 100,000 abroad).

Third Point’s Daniel Loeb, whose net worth of $1.3 billion owes much to his share in the Delphi windfall, told his fund’s backers this past July that Delphi remains an excellent investment because it has “virtually no North American unionized labor” and, thanks to US taxpayers, “significantly smaller pension liabilities than almost all of its peers.”

* * *

Another outcome may have been possible. In June 2009, the Treasury and GM announced a bailout deal they’d crafted over months with the cooperation of the United Auto Workers. GM would take back control of Delphi via a joint venture with Platinum Equity, a buyout firm led by billionaire Tom Gores, a self-described “Michigan man” who grew up in the shadow of Delphi’s Flint plant.

The final Platinum plan, according to Delphi’s official statement posted on Marketwire in June 2009, lists plants in fourteen locations slated for closing, which would have left several of Delphi’s plants still in business, still unionized—and still in the United States. Crucially, the deal would have returned key Delphi operations, including the production of steering columns, directly to GM.

The hedge funders stunned Delphi by refusing to accept the Platinum plan. Harshly criticizing it as a “sweetheart deal,” they demanded 45 cents on the dollar for the debt bonds they had bought on the cheap—more than double what the Treasury-brokered Platinum deal would pay.

Then the Singer-led debt holders swooped in. After the Platinum deal was announced, Elliott Management quietly tripled its holdings of Delphi bonds, purchased at just one-fifth of their face value. By joining forces with Silver Point, Paulson and Loeb, Singer now controlled Delphi’s fate.

Gores, Delphi and UAW officials declined to respond to queries about the deal on the record, but the sworn deposition [1] by Delphi CFO Sheehan (confidential then, but later posted on lets us in on the tense negotiations culminating in a twenty-hour showdown between Delphi, GM, the UAW, the Auto Task Force and the US pension agency, on the one hand, and Singer’s hedge fund group, on the other. Delphi said it would dump the Platinum deal if the hedge funds would agree to terms that would take care of all stakeholders, including the following stipulation: “Agree on plan structure to maximize job preservation.”

The hedge funders said no, since they had a billion-dollar ace up their sleeve. According to Sheehan, Singer and company’s controlling interest allowed them to force the bankruptcy judge to hold an auction for all of Delphi’s stock. The debt holders outbid the Michigan Man’s team, offering $3.5 billion. But it wasn’t $3.5 billion in cash: under the rules of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, debtors-in-possession may bid the face value of their bonds rather than their current market value, which at the time was significantly lower. Under the Platinum deal, Delphi would have had much more in real money for operations: $250 million in cash from Gores, another $250 million in credit, and $3.1 billion in “exit financing” from GM, all of it backed up by TARP. Still, under Chapter 11 rules, the Platinum bid was technically lower. And that’s how Singer’s funds—which included the Romneys’ investment—came to buy Delphi for the equivalent of only 67 cents a share.

Rattner and GM, embarrassingly outmaneuvered, tried to put a good face on it. As Rattner wrote in his memoir, “In truth we didn’t care who got Delphi as long as GM could extricate itself from the continual drain on its finances and assure itself of a reliable supply of parts.”

* * *

Even before the hedge funds won their bid for Delphi’s stock, they were already squeezing the parts supplier and its workforce. In February 2009, Delphi, claiming a cash shortage, unilaterally terminated health insurance for its nonunion pensioners. But according to Rattner, the Treasury’s Task Force uncovered foggy accounting hiding the fact that the debt holders had deliberately withheld millions of dollars in cash sitting in Delphi accounts. Even after this discovery, the creditors still refused to release the funds.

The savings to the hedge fund billionaires of dropping retiree insurance was peanuts—$70 million a year—compared with the profits they later extracted from Delphi. But the harm to Delphi retirees was severe. Bruce Naylor of Kokomo, Indiana, had been forced into retirement at the age of 54 in 2006, when Delphi began to move its plants overseas. Naylor’s promised pension was slashed 40 percent, and his health insurance and life insurance were canceled. Though he had thirty-six years of experience under his belt as an engineer with GM and Delphi, he couldn’t find another job as an engineer—and he doesn’t know a single former co-worker who has found new employment in his or her field, either. Naylor ended up getting work at a local grocery store. That job gone, he now sells cars online for commission, bringing in one-fifth of what he earned before he was laid off from Delphi.

Even with his wife Judy’s income as a nurse, it hasn’t been enough: the Naylors just declared bankruptcy, and their home is in foreclosure.

After the hedge fund takeover of Delphi, the squeeze on workers intensified through attacks on their pensions. During its years of economic trouble, Delphi had been chronically shorting payments to its pension funds—and by July 2009, they were underfunded by $7 billion. That month, Singer’s hedge fund group won the bid for control of Delphi’s stock and made clear they would neither make up the shortfall nor pay any more US worker pensions. Checkmated by the hedge funders, the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation agreed to take over Delphi’s pension payments. The PBGC would eat the shortfall.

With Delphi’s new owners relieved of its healthcare and pension obligations, its debts to GM and its union contracts—
and now loaded with subsidies from GM funded by TARP—the company’s market value rose from zero to approximately
$10.5 billion today.

* * *

But there was still a bit of unfinished business: President Obama needed to be blamed for the pension disaster. In a television ad airing in swing states since September, one retired Delphi manager says, “The Obama administration decided to terminate my pension, and I took a 40 percent reduction in my pension.”

Another retiree, Mary Miller, says, “I really struggle to pay for the basics…. I would ask President Obama why I had no rights, and he had all the rights to take my pension away—and never ever look back and say, ‘Not only did I take it from Mary Miller, I took it from 20,000 other people.’”

These people are real. But it’s clear that these former workers, now struggling to scrape by, were hardly in the position to put together $7 million in ad buys to publicize their plight. The ads were paid for by Let Freedom Ring, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy organization partially funded by Jack Templeton Jr., a billionaire evangelical whose foundation has sponsored lectures at the Manhattan Institute (the anti-union think tank whose board of directors includes not only Singer but Loeb). The ads also conveniently leave out the fact that the law sets specific ceilings on what the PBGC is allowed to pay retirees—regardless of what they were originally owed.

In June 2011, Charles and David Koch hosted a group of multimillionaires at a retreat in Vail, Colorado. In secret recordings obtained by investigator Brad Friedman, the host, Charles Koch, thanks Singer and Templeton, among others, for each donating more than $1 million to the Koch brothers’ 2012 anti-Obama election war chest.

Of course, it wasn’t Obama who refused to pay the Delphi pensions; it was Paul Singer and the other hedge funds controlling Delphi. The salaried workers’ pensions were, after all, an obligation of Delphi’s owners, not the government. Delphi’s stockholders—the Romneys included—had one easy way to rectify the harm to these pensioners, much as GM did for its workers: just pay up.

Making good on the full pensions for salaried workers would cost Delphi a one-time charge of less than $1 billion. This year, Delphi was flush with $1.4 billion in cash—
meaning its owners could have made the pensioners whole
and still cleared a profit. Instead, in May, Delphi chose to use most of those funds to take over auto parts plants in Asia at
a cost of $972 million—purchased from Bain Capital.

* * *

That leaves one final question: Exactly how much did the Romneys make off the auto bailout? Queries to the campaign and the Romneys’ trustee have gone unanswered. And Romney has yet to disclose the crucial year of his tax returns, 2009. But whatever the tally, it was one sweet deal. The Romneys were invested with Elliott Management by the end of 2010, before Delphi was publicly traded. So, in effect, they got Delphi stock at Singer’s initial dirt-cheap price. When Delphi’s owners took the company public in November 2011, the Romneys were in—and they hit the jackpot.

In their 2011 and 2012 Federal Financial Disclosure filing [2], Ann Romney’s trust lists “more than $1 million” invested with Elliott. This is the description for all of her big investments—the minimal disclosure required by law. (Had Romney kept the holding in his own name, he would have had to reveal if his investment with Singer had made more than $50 million.)

It is reasonable to assume that Singer treated the Romneys the same as his other investors, with a third of their portfolio invested in Delphi by the time of the 2011 initial public offering. This means that with an investment of at least $1 million, their smallest possible gain when Delphi went public would have been $10.2 million, plus another $10.2 million for each million handed to Singer—all gains made possible by the auto bailout.

But that’s just the beginning. Since the November 2011 IPO, Delphi’s stock has roared upward, boosting the Romneys’ Delphi windfall from $10.2 million to $15.3 million for each million they invested with Singer.

But what if the Romneys invested a bit more with Singer: let’s say a mere 3 percent of their reported net worth, or
$7.5 million? (After all, ABC News reported—and Romney didn’t deny—that he invested “a huge chunk of his vast wealth” with Singer.) Then their take from the auto bailout so far would reach a stunning $115 million.

The Romneys’ exact gain, however, remains nearly
invisible—and untaxed—because Singer cashed out only a fragment of the windfall in 2011. And the Singer-led hedge funds have been able to keep almost all of Delphi’s profits untaxed
by moving Delphi’s incorporation from Troy, Michigan, to the Isle of Jersey, a tax haven off the coast of France.

The Romneys might insist that the funds were given to Singer, Mitt’s key donor, only through Ann’s blind trust. But as Mitt Romney said some years ago of Ted Kennedy, “The blind trust is an age-old ruse, if you will. Which is to say, you can always tell a blind trust what it can and cannot do.” Romney, who reminds us often that he was CEO of a hedge fund, can certainly read Elliott Management’s SEC statements, and he knows Ann’s trust is invested heavily in a fund whose No. 1 stake is with Delphi.

Nevertheless, even if the Romneys were blind to their initial investment in Elliott, they would have known by the beginning of 2010 that they had a massive position in Delphi and would make a fortune from the bailout and TARP funds. Delphi is not a minor investment for Singer; it is his main holding. To invest in Elliott is essentially a “Delphi play”: that is, investing with Singer means buying a piece of the auto bailout.

Mitt Romney may indeed have wanted to let Detroit die. But if the auto industry was going to be bailed out after all, the Romneys apparently couldn’t resist getting in on a piece of
the action.

The Free

18 October 2012

Does the Romney Family Now Own Your E-vote?
    by Gerry Bello, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Will you cast your vote this fall on a faulty electronic machine that's partly owned by the Romney Family? Will that machine decide whether Romney will then inherit the White House?

Through a closely held equity fund called Solamere, Mitt Romney and his wife, son and brother are major investors in an investment firm called H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. in turn holds a majority share and three out of five board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in swing state Ohio November 6. Hart machines will also be used elsewhere in the United States.

In other words, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and his brother, wife and son, have a straight-line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall's election. These machines cannot be monitored by the public. But they will help decide who "owns" the White House.

They are especially crucial in Ohio, without which no Republican candidate has ever won the White House. In 2004, in the dead of election night, an electronic swing of more than 300,000 votes switched Ohio from the John Kerry column to George W. Bush, giving him a second term. A virtual statistical impossibility, the 6-plus% shift occurred between 12:20 and 2am election night as votes were being tallied by a GOP-controlled information technology firm on servers in a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In defiance of a federal injunction, 56 of Ohio's 88 counties destroyed all election records, making a recount impossible. Ohio's governor and secretary of state in 2004 were both Republicans, as are the governors and secretaries of state in nine key swing states this year.

As we have previously reported, H.I.G. Capital has on its board of directors at least three close associates of the Romney family. H.I.G. Capital directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers. So is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve. H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney's campaign. Fully a third of H.I.G.'s leadership previously worked at Romney's old Bain firm.

But new research now shows that the association doesn't stop with mere friendship and business associations. Mitt Romney, his wife Ann Romney, and their son Tagg Romney are also invested in H.I.G. Capital, as is Mitt's brother G. Scott Romney.

The investment comes in part through the privately held family equity firm called Solamere, which bears the name of the posh Utah ski community where the Romney family retreats to slide down the slopes.

Unlike other private equity firms, Solamere does not invest in companies directly. Instead, Solamere invests in other private equity funds, like H.I.G. Capital. Solamere calls them “partners.” These partners, like H.I.G., then invest in various enterprises, like Hart Intercivic, the nation's third-largest voting machine manufacturer.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


sand dollar
Once In Vermont films © bob arnold

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


 If the Owl Calls Again
by John Haines

at dusk
from the island in the river,
and it's not too cold,

I'll wait for the moon
to rise,
then take wing and glide
to meet him.

We will not speak,
but hooded against the frost
soar above
the alder flats, searching
with tawny eyes.

And then we'll sit
in the shadowy spruce and
pick the bones
of careless mice,

while the long moon drifts
toward Asia
and the river mutters
in its icy bed.

And when morning climbs
the limbs
we'll part without a sound,
fullfilled, floating
homeward as
the cold world awakens.


from ~
Winter News
(Wesleyan, 1962)

The poet's studio Richardson, Alaska

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


An Ox Looks at Man
by Carlos Drummond de Andrade

They are more delicate even than shrubs and they run and
run from one side to the other, always forgetting
something. Surely they lack I don't know what basic
ingredient, though they present themselves as noble or
serious, at times. Oh, terribly serious, even tragic.
Poor things, one would say that they hear neither the
song of air nor the secrets of hay; likewise they seem
not to see what is visible and common to each of us, in
space. And they are sad, and in the wake of sadness
they come to cruelty. All their expression lives in
their eyes — and loses itself to a simple lowering of
lids, to a shadow. And since there is little of the
mountain about them — nothing in the hair or in the
terribly fragile limbs but coldness and secrecy — it is
impossible for them to settle themselves into forms that
are calm, lasting, and necessary. They have, perhaps, a
kind of melancholy grace (one minute) and with this they
allow themselves to forget the problems and translucent
inner emptiness that make them so poor and so lacking
when it comes to uttering silly and painful sounds:
desire, love, jealousy (what do we know?) — sounds that
scatter and fall in the field like troubled stones and
burn the herbs and the water, and after this it is hard
to keep chewing away at our truth.


from ~
We Animals
poems of our world
edited by Nanya Aisenberg
(Sierra Club Books)

Monday, October 22, 2012



I saw porcupine as soon as I pulled the truck into the meadow. There is nothing that moves on the earth like a porcupine. Imagine carrying a body of hollow pointed quills around everywhere all through your life. Porcupine stopped his ground when he saw the red truck. I got out and slowly walked to porcupine and porcupine reared up the quills and turned its back and slowly moved into the woods edge brush, then stopped and waited. Porcupine didn't leave, and neither did I. We were five feet from one another. His chiseled full brown face and patient eyes studied all parts of what was around him. I knelt near him awhile and waited awhile with him, there was something that made us both cautious. The truck was off and way over there. The sky was blue, the foliage still green approaching fall. Two days later I would hike my morning path and nearing the meadow wonder what had happened to porcupine, and there he was in the sunshine and large leaf ginger plants munching at his breakfast. I sat down in the sun myself and watched awhile. It was the best way to be.

[ BA ]

This was two weeks ago when I was cutting trees in the woodlot. Then one morning, hiking the woodlot path, I came across what is shown in the photograph below on the pathway, some yards away from where I last saw porcupine in the ginger plants. Just the tuft of his quilled tail and spine. Something had gotten to the old boy. Turned him over and penetrated the soft and unquilled belly. Maybe fisher cat, maybe coydog, maybe wild dog? Something. I brought what was left of my old friend home and pulled the quills, then set the bone life left up onto a tree branch, where it stays.

Porcupine climb trees and being wobbly shaped also fall out of trees. Often an open wound can be seen on their backs where they have fallen and been punctured by their own quills. I remember now porcupine had such a wound. I saw it when he jockeyed away from me on those short legs.

photos © bob arnold