: High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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Peep of Day


This is my latest acquisition. Let me read to you a favorite passage.

“How easy would it be to hurt your poor little body.

If it were to fall into the fire, it would be burned up. If hot water were to fall upon it, it would be scalded. If it were to fall into deep water, and not be taken out very soon, it would be drowned. If a great knife were run through your body, the blood would come out. If a great box were to fall on your head, your head would be crushed….

You see that you have a very weak little body. Can you keep your own body from being sick, and from getting hurt?

You should try not to hurt yourself, but God only can keep your body from all harm, from fire and water, from wounds and bruises, and all kinds of sickness. Kneel down and say to God, “Pray keep my poor little body from getting hurt.” God will hear you and go on taking care of you.”

This is from Peep of Day, A series of the Earliest Religious Instruction the infant mind is capable of receiving., by F.L. Mortimer. Ah yes, but the Victorians had a delightful creepy way with children.

I have not yet been able to find a good copy of The Countries of Europe Described, however Little Gray Books has this hilarious mp3 of a live reading (mp3)

From Maine

Two Moose in Presque Isle

Two moose on main street in Presque Isle last week. From a friend in Maine, via my grandmother.

Ode to My L.L. Bean Bookbag


I got mine in 6th grade. I’m from Maine where having an L.L. Bean book bag is about as exotic as wearing jeans. Once in high school I decided I wanted to be different and bought a Jansport that ended up being too small and I ripped the zipper off on the first day. My L.L. Bean book bag is now 15 years old and my only regret is that I’ll never have another excuse to get a new one. As far as I can tell it’s damn near indestructible. If the human race obliterate themselves in a nuclear holocaust I believe L.L. Bean book bags will be what the cockroaches choose to live in when they take over. This regret is made all the more certain that whatever abuse I devise for the bag nevertheless falls under the L.L. Bean Guarantee, which essentially translates into “If you can break it, we’ll give you a new one.”

L.L. Bean: Original Book Pack

Odes to Things

Pablo Neruda, the nobel-prize winning Chilean poet, wrote several collections of poems in celebration of things. My favorite is Ode to a Pair of Socks, see below. I’ve created a new category for my own odes to things, for some things, even though they are material and will pass away like so much dust, deserve to be celebrated for their ingenuity, their usefulness and for the skill and care with which they were designed and made.

Ode to a pair of socks

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
that she knit with her
shepherd’s hands.
Two socks as soft
as rabbit fur.
I thrust my feet
inside them
as if they were
little boxes
from threads
of sunset
and sheepskin.

My feet were
two woolen
in those outrageous socks,
two gangly,
navy-blue sharks
on a golden thread,
two giant blackbirds,
two cannons:
were my feet
They were
so beautiful
I found my feet
for the very first time,
like two crusty old
firemen, firemen
of that embroidered
those incandescent

I fought
the sharp temptation
to put them away
the way schoolboys
fireflies in a bottle,
the way scholars
holy writ.
I fought
the mad urge
to lock them
in a golden
and feed them birdseed
and morsels of pink melon
every day.
Like jungle
who deliver a young deer
of the rarest species
to the roasting spit
then wolf it down
in shame,
I stretched
my feet forward
and pulled on
and over them
my shoes.

So this is
the moral of my ode:
beauty is beauty
twice over
and good things are doubly
when you’re talking about a pair of wool
in the dead of winter.


The ‘Scandinavian Way to Open a bottle of beer,’ though the question of how to open the last beer by this method now perplexes me. via BoingBoing

The Funnest Interview I’ve ever seen

Poor guy.

Long-Scorned in Maine, French Has Renaissance

NY Times Long-Scorned in Maine, French Has Renaissance

Frederick Levesque was just a child in Old Town, Me., when teachers told him to become Fred Bishop, changing his name to its English translation to conceal that he was French-American.

Cleo Ouellette’s school in Frenchville made her write “I will not speak French” over and over if she uttered so much as a “oui” or “non” — and rewarded students with extra recess if they ratted out French-speaking classmates.

And Howard Paradis, a teacher in Madawaska forced to reprimand French-speaking students, made the painful decision not to teach French to his own children. “I wasn’t going to put my kids through that,” Mr. Paradis said. “If you wanted to get ahead you had to speak English.”

That was Maine in the 1950′s and 1960′s, and the stigma of being French-American reverberated for decades afterward. But now, le Français fait une rentrée — French is making a comeback.

The Peifer Chronicles

I’ve posted on Steve before, but I got an e-mail yesterday I couldn’t help but share.

Like returning to America, there is that definitive moment when you know you are back in Kenya. That was a lot of competition this time. A guy stopped me in Nairobi and asked me:

Guy: Do you want to buy this box of chicken heads?
Me: What do you do with a box of chicken heads?
Guy: I do not know but they are very good.

Steve’s book Your Pal Steve, is available on Amazon. He also blogs regularly.

Townes Van Zandt, Be Here to Love Me

Filmmaker Margaret Brown made a documentary on legendary Texas singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt. I didn’t get up to Austin in time to see this at SXSW, and I just realized the DVD release snuck by me, but it’s out. Worth catching if you can. The way law school is going it may be another month or two before I have the luxury of watching a movie.

Townes the Movie Website, WFMU on the release of the movie, Get the DVD from Amazon, Leonard Lopate interviews Margaret Brown (.mp3)