Friday, May 31, 2013


I've heard of rogue a lot of things, mainly elephants and traders, but rogue wheat? If a seed can be rogue, it must be from Monsanto, the reclusive corporate individual who brought agent orange to the dinner table, funds all the useful PACs and sends its execs to head the U.S. Dept of Agriculture under the pliable presidents, pretty much passing its own laws for the benefit of mankind. You might call it a rogue company.


"Asia curbs US imports of wheat after genetically modified sample found.

The discovery of rogue genetically modified wheat in a farmer's field in Oregon shook global confidence in the safety of America's food supply on Friday.

Billions in food exports were potentially at stake following the disclosure by the US Department of Agriculture of the existence of the GM wheat plants.

The GM variant, developed by the agricultural giant Monsanto, has never been approved for human consumption."            more...                   PLM rogue Monsanto page

Sunday, May 26, 2013




setting free the dragonfly

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Not long ago I saw a Japanese tv program in which the audience reacted to the astonishment of a Saudi Arabian visitor to Japan who was profoundly amazed at everyday Japanese conveniences and practices. 

I too was shocked to see the foreigner's awe at beholding the small parking buildings, the yellow traffic flag method, the floor-polishing schoolkids, the wet-umbrella covers etc., but I've been here a long time and such impressive things have become invisible to me. After living here all this time, though, I'm still a newbie, as this morning proved.

While heading for the farm store after breakfast, and having driven about halfway down our winding one-lane mountain road, which has the local junior high school at the bottom (where you take a left or right to get into the village and thence onto the main lakeside road), I noticed ahead the bizarre phenomenon of a large mass of -- whiteness, moving up the road toward me. For a few dozen meters further I still couldn't tell what it was down there, I had never seen such a thing on the road before... As it and I drew nearer, I could finally make out that it was all of the school's baseball players in their white uniforms, many dozens of guys from about 11 to 15 years of age, running up the mountain in a training exercise; must be a new coach... 

Needless to say, their numbers filled up a great length of the roadway, and in a section where the paddies are high-fenced on both sides against wild animals; how could we pass each other? Surely the teams couldn't be expected to turn around and run all the way down, then back up again? Looked like I might have to back up the twisted road, which would be difficult and take a while; whichever way this went, those guys puffing and sweating at the edge of stamina wouldn't be too happy at my intrusive presence. 

Despite my time here, my western mind was kicking in at this unknown occurrence, seeing what it might expect out of old-home habit, projecting, anticipating the vibes... I could not foresee, in this new circumstance, what spontaneously came to pass: as the red vehicle and the white mass were about to merge, the big puffing, sweaty teen crowd magically disappeared, as each member pressed tightly against the fence all along both sides of the road, opening a comfortably wide gauntlet through which I could easily pass.

As I did so, and in awe moved slowly through them, they all said, over and over (in polite Japanese): "Sorry! Thank you! Sorry! Sorry! Thank you! Sorry! Thank you! Sorry! Thank you! Sorry! Sorry!" Even for me, that was so far from what I had been alienly expecting; I rolled down the window, put my hand out and waved and yelled thanks and apologies to them in return, and it felt good. 

It was in fact - as they had shown me - the natural thing to do.


Monday, May 13, 2013


I knew this day would come. I just thought I might get another summer out of it. The burgeoning beauty of my select lettuce varieties must simply have been too much for the drooling deer, who've had to live on conventionally blah weeds and good grief tree bark, and finally had it up to the antlers gazing through my not-antimonkey net fence at my neat rows of appetizing salad lettuces, top-of-the-line cucumbers, spare-no-expense zucchinis and deliciously crunchy beanpods, the apex of feral menu items. 

Seems the animals  living on the edge of civilization these many decades, deeper and deeper in the thralls of indulgence, have been getting fussier with each generation, becoming ever more accustomed to the finer points of civilized life, such as rap music and fast food. We must have had a similar experience back when we were Neanderthals and the Cro-Magnons moved in next door. 

If this keeps up, pretty soon the animals will have urbs and burbs of their own, commuting to offices in their own beastly bureaucracies, the Deer Department, the Monkey Agency, the Inoshishi IRS...  For starters, though, last night one or two or three or more deer, maybe seven thousand, found a weak spot in my garden fence, widened it and partied on my lettuce, tangoed on my chard, buzzcut my chives, noshed my nasturtiums, beheaded my cukes, zapped my zukes... 

I know there's no point in putting up wanted posters on trees around the forest or even in the post office, with a deer mug shot and my phone number, so I just fixed the fence pro tem - not that it matters, there's always a weak spot in a fence, fences are all just a bunch of holes anyway. I just never had an actual fence before I moved here and took up the folly that is gardening on the edge-- this working hard to feed the wild and thankless animals.

For them, the feast was just laid out there on the carefully prepared banquet table; looked like they partied pretty much through the night; they have really quiet raves, not even a crunch... It must have gone on with subtle munching excitement until well near dawn, but I wasn't even awakened by wild belches. Not until I went out in the morning to get some lettuce did I realize I had to pick up the tab...

Right now I'm pondering new fence plans. I know how the Ming dynasty felt; it didn't work for them, but those were different times. That may sound something like Alfred’s definition of insanity, but I'm not a dynasty. My ambitions are much humbler. Like lettuce.     

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


I don't feel all that Jurassic, but archaeologists are already digging up relics from after I was born, a time shrouded in the mists of history along with my early playmates the Neanderthals and other formerly youthful individuals, including for example Julius, Marc and Cleo, with whom I am now aggregate, though I didn't know any of them very well until fifth grade or so. I entered this world in - let me adjust my stone calendar to Julian - 1940CE, not long after the ice age that followed the late Pleistocene, which comprised my school years. 

My eyes still work, so I was just reading the news on one of these newfangled computers, it uses what they call "real time," to differentiate it from the other kind. It was saying how some archaeologist - a field that started before I was born, believe it or not - had found items from a tragic fire of long ago, greenhorn readers apparently having to turn their mindclocks nearly all the way back to WWII to realize the chronospan involved: archaeological artifacts from - which archaic period is that? The 1940s? - Wait, was there time then? 

Yes, grasshopper, there was; we had hourglasses to prove it. And I was there, already walking and talking in the early language of those days, the archaic one spoken by Whitman, Melville, Twain, Fitzgerald, Mencken et al., famous paleoauthors of whom (or is it all-the-way 'who' now?) you may have heard. By that time I was going to school, a fairly recent phenomenon, where they had stringent language and grammar requirements and taught handwriting - perhaps you've heard of cursive? 

We practiced the Palmer Method (crucial for careers and professional respect in a world now archaeological) with a "nibbed" pen dipped into "ink" in an "inkwell" that was inset into our wooden "desktops" (the original kind). The inkwell had a little sliding cover and was fashioned entirely from slate, of all things. Plastic was just becoming a word. Nibbed pen calligraphy was so much more elegant than ballpoint is; the concept of elegance, like history itself, has lost quite a bit of steam (an old idiom) and relativity since Archimedes and I first played marbles together, back in the good old days.