March comes in like a Lion and leaves like a Lamb

“Like many proverbs for the month of March, it can be traced back to Thomas Fuller’s 1732 compendium, “Gnomologia; Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British.””

Tom Sater, CNN, 3/2/21



This is definitely one of my least favorite months.

I don’t worry so much about “Beware the Ides of March” – – it’s the whole month that’s unreliable and treacherous.

It lulls us with brief interludes of spring weather  – –  so you let your guard down and start putting away the heavy coats, hats, gloves, scarves & mufflers, woolen socks, boots, crampons & cleats  – –  before stabbing you with ice storms and never-ending sniffles.

I just took a look at that Ides of March scene in Shakespeare’s play.  Cassius is telling Brutus that “we can both endure the winter’s cold” as well as Caesar – – but I noticed, none of those guys lived in Milwaukee.

Try walking around here in a toga during the winter and you’ll start losing body parts pretty quickly.

The freezing-and-thawing breaks up the roads and often leaves an icy glaze on the sidewalks, so walking around is really less a matter of marching and more of a dangerous schlep.  Semi-congealed puddles the size of farm ponds appear, slopping over your boots and pants, brining us like marinating chicken carcasses.

I recently ran across the term “footslog,” another good term for getting through this month.  I looked it up, it’s new to me but found it’s been in use since 1897, I guess it just took a long slog to get here.

March can be bad news, as when the “warming trend” sometimes turned out to be nuclear meltdowns and radioactive leakage — Fukushima and Three Mile Island ( March 11, 2011 and March 28, 1979 respectively) — or the Iraq War, which began in March 2003.   John Philip Sousa, the March King, died in March.

One of my grandmothers lived in the Genesee Valley, south of Rochester, NY and would talk about the ice storm of March 1991, which brought down thousands of trees and left her without electricity for two weeks.  There were chainsaws, chippers and stump-grinders roaring for weeks.  Parking lots all over town had huge piles of wood chips and sawdust, which began fermenting and steaming like little volcanoes and sometimes would begin smoldering through spontaneous combustion.

She was sad about the loss of trees, but otherwise had a pretty good time.  She refused to leave her house, cooked meals in the fireplace and ate by candlelight.  When a utility crew finally showed up on her street, to clear fallen limbs and reconnect the electric lines, she went out to bring them coffee and was delighted to find that they were from her hometown in northeast Pennsylvania.



March Comes In Like a Lion?

Yeah, it was a typo.

Not like a lion, 

it was meant as a warning,

March comes in, lying.

A nasty flimflam man,

Selling ice to the Eskimos.

Shows up every year here in River City

with a Spring in his step

Talking of green pastures and lambs

Just spinning yarns and waving arms

Full of wind and promises


March is a thug named for the god of war

And just like his dad,

A blustering blowhard

Always running with a chill goon squad

Ready to ice somebody,

All hail!  and sleet.

The Sun tries to smile, get a look in

But March just bares his gray teeth

And pulls the clouds shut again.




Frostbite, milwaukee, snow, Socks, steam radiators, Sweaters, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Uncategorized, Winter, wisconsin

Not so much Marching as Trudging

Blogging, Writing

👑 Certifiable

I’ve occasionally heard older folks describe someone, unkindly, as “certifiable.”

And it was easy to figure out they meant it as shorthand for an outdated phrase and concept, “fit to be certified as insane.” 

But “certifiable” can mean, of course, genuine and authentic.

In the same vein – – bona fide, legitimate, hallmarked, trademarked, legitimate, etc.

And tons more, some are kind of fun to trot out – – indubitable, incontrovertible, sure-enough, pukka.

The Real McCoyGospelAll Wool and a Yard Wide. AKC pedigreed & registered.

As I read article after article about ChatGPT, it occurred to me we might want a sort of stamp or trademark for “certifiable human-made writing product.”

Like those © copyright symbols or registered trademarks®

or those crown stamps they put on crockery and pint glasses in the UK, kind of like the emoji  👑.

I think most of the bloggers I follow, won’t have any trouble establishing their bona fides, they’re all too human, er, I mean to say, so engagingly genuine and idiosyncratic.

But I worry that people might think my wandering, digressive stuff is generated by a digital randomizer with a bad motherboard.

Well it may be crap but it’s dyed-in-the-wool handcrafted crap.



Look for the CHUMWP label wherever you consume words!

Writ by my hand this day fourteenth February







Finger Lakes, Nature, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York

Pine bough





These bicycles are a nice bit of color in a time of brown and gray.

Along a road winding up into the hills and  the Finger Lakes Forest.

A largely agricultural area north of Watkins Glen, now being “built up” with houses, summer cottages and of course, more wineries.

And gift shops.  I’d thought macramé plant hangers were finally extinct, but turns out, they were just tangled up somewhere and have now reemerged in the world of stained glass candleholders and bracelets made from bent spoons.

Putting this photo on WP, I was thinking how, when I post these snapshots of the Finger Lakes region, or wherever I’ve been, there’s an impulse to try to show the place in a flattering light.

Sometimes the photos have been cropped to remove what seem like distractions or what strikes me as just plain ol’ ugliness.

It somehow feels almost like disloyalty to do otherwise.

But perhaps that’s my sentimental streak creeping in again and something to avoid – -not just to steer clear of kitsch and superficiality – – but also in favor of clarity and honesty.

Well…likely it’s also good to not to overthink this or take it too seriously!

Somehow this crop seemed to stick in my craw, so here’s a photo that wasn’t cropped.

A no doubt tackier scene, kind of fun and definitely a bit weirder.

Although, I think if I ran out of gas, I’d probably knock on someone else’s door, there’s just something about headless mannequins.




Finger Lakes, FLX, NY, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. Schuyler County. Color Wheels.





After a lot of unusually warm weather in December and January (at least, warm by northeast standards), the falls were behaving like it was spring.

The turbulent water undermines the stone walls along the creek, the remnants of old mills.  More blocks have fallen into the water every time I visit.

The Universal Friends, a religious sect similar in some ways to the Quakers, built the first grist mill here in 1790.

The Friends also added a second mill, this one for linseed oil, and eventually there were dozens of places – – grinding grain, making paper, paint, etc.

When all those industries eventually ground to a halt, for a time, the falls generated electricity for the village.

The mills have all disappeared over the years, with the exception of the Birkett Mill, grinding buckwheat since 1797.  Starting near that mill, in Penn Yan, there’s a seven mile  walking/biking path on the old railbed along the creek.

The trail association has put up some excellent new signboards, where I learned a new bit of local history.


piece of an old millstone along the stream


I was curious about those oldtime Quaker-ish folks and why they were making linseed oil, instead of say, oatmeal.

I knew it can be used in paint and wood preservative but didn’t realize just how many uses it has.

As “flaxseed oil,” it’s a dietary supplement for people, cows, pigs and chickens.  And used in soap and face cream, medicine, salad dressing, etc.  It’s rubbed into cast iron pans to season them and into people’s faces to prevent wrinkles.  And as a base for liniment, I guess to rub on a sore head when someone criticizes the cook and gets whacked with a cast iron skillet.


ice-covered stalks on one of the colder days


It can also be flammable – – which brings us back to the local history.

I mentioned one time, in a post about Lafayette’s 1825 visit to the U.S., that the celebrations in my hometown resulted in at least one death, when a cannon exploded and killed the local militia captain.

When the Marquis visited the little mill town near the falls, their militia unit turned out to fire salutes with their black powder muskets…and managed to set the linseed and grist mills on fire.


still green in a sheltered, south-facing spot

I’m now wondering just how many fires and fatalities were involved in Lafayette’s Farewell Tour and the attendant pyrotechnics and 24-gun salutes.  (Not 21-gun salutes, the “National Salute” in this country used to be one bang per state, until 1841 when they had 26 states, more on the way and decided it was getting out of hand.)

He was on the road for thirteen months so there were plenty of opportunities for mishaps.  Although certainly the toll was far less than some of our time’s crowd disasters at soccer matches, rock’n’roll concerts, dance clubs, etc.

I did read that after visiting Andrew Jackson in Tennessee, Lafayette’s steamboat sank on the way to Louisville, with no drownings but some loss of money and property.



Mostly it was thirteen months of parades, ceremonies, dances, and stuff being named for him, like the park in my hometown.

He received an honorary U. S. citizenship, too, although the paperwork wasn’t completed until just a bit after his visit.

(“Bureaucracy” was adapted from a French term, and first used in English in 1815.  And so Lafayette’s citizenship didn’t come through until…last year?!  July 22, 2022).



He did return to France with at least one souvenir – – snow globes hadn’t been invented yet, so he took a trunk full of dirt instead.

(It was soil from Bunker Hill and in 1834 was spread on his grave as he’d requested.)

Wikipedia has assembled a long list of places named for him – – streets, squares, towns, counties, etc.  I don’t think there’s a city in upstate NY that doesn’t have something to memorialize him.  But none I think with his full name:

Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette.  


La vache! How I’d like to see that on a road sign.








1800's, canal trails, Early American History, Finger Lakes, FLX, History, Lafayette, NY, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. Seneca Mills Falls, Keuka Outlet, January.

conspiracy theories, craft projects for lifers

All that glitters is not gold…sometimes it’s aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate

I wish my life could be / As strange as a conspiracy   Felt “Primitive Painters”



It’s a new year and time to try something new, so I thought I’d delve into a conspiracy theory.

I usually avoid conspiracy babble and internet rumormongering like the plague.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to all mongering.

Who doesn’t love getting fresh seafood from a fishmonger, for example.  And I love a schmear, but only on a bagel.

But this conspiracy, I heard mentioned on NPR, what could be more respectable, on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, and it seems like a scintillating topic.

This particular mad machination or rumor has apparently been floating around, glistening, shiny-but-senseless, since around since 2018 but I just learned of it.

Here it is.  Apparently, people keep asking, “Is there a shortage of glitter,” and “Who is buying up all the glitter.”

I investigated this exhaustively, for as long as it took to duck into a craft store and ascertain that there is not a shortage.

Let’s get this part out of the way.  What is glitter exactly?

Some of it is still made from good old mica – – the shiny flecks & flakes you see in granite, schist, etc.

The manufactured kind is aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate.  I’m guessing all of you already knew that, because unlike the psychotic persistence of glitter on your tongue or in your eye, “aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate” just trips off your tongue, doesn’t it.   And it’s listed on your tubes of eye shadow, nail polish, shimmer powder, highlighter, pearl powder, etc.

The December 21, 2018 NY Times carried an article by Caitie Weaver “What is Glitter?  A strange journey to the glitter factory.”

Glitter turns out to be a surprisingly fascinating topic – – there’s holographic vs iridescent, mylar “metalized” with aluminum, polymers with different refractive indexes, etc.

The aluminum is evaporated in a vacuum chamber — I’ve never noticed aluminum evaporating, didn’t know it did that!

Sweat, the Great Salt Lake, my bank account – – yes, aluminum – – no.

For someone like me, with only the most tenuous grasp of science, it all sounds pretty high tech, science-y and mysterious.

I wonder how the Reynolds Wrap people foil such a loss of aluminum?

Scientists, of course, want to ban this glitter stuff – the smallest versions are 50 x70 microns, so it’s another hideous micro-plastic to pollute the planet, with literally a thousand year lifespan.

But anyways, back to the conspiracy theory.  During the interviews for the NY Times, a company rep refused to reveal which buyer or industry was the largest consumer.

So we’re free to speculate!  Who is buying up all the glitter??

I’ve limited myself to four theories but please feel free to contribute.

1.   A powerful organization called the Glitterati has recruited Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey for a huge glam rock festival, and will pump enough glitter into Madison Square Garden to make it the world’s biggest snow globe.

David Bowie isn’t really dead and will show up in his Ziggy Stardust character and bring his own brand of disco dust.

2.  Snow Globes.  The current dearth of snow in some parts of the country has created a yearning for snow globes, like the one in Citizen Kane.

(These globes were invented in the 19th c. by an Austrian maker of surgical instruments and were originally called Schneekugel, which is just extremely pleasant-sounding, I find myself saying it out loud, sometimes when I’m riding an elevator, and then people look at me funny.)

3.  Elon Musk is loading it onto hundreds of SpaceX rockets and will spread it in the upper atmosphere, forming a reflective layer to slow global warming.

4.  Glitter is produced by unicorns when they eat too many candy canes and suffer from fairyland flatulence. And just like my kitchen, the Clean Up Elves are on strike.

Anyway, the whole thing is a false alarm.  If there really was a shortage, a really thorough vacuuming of any home with kids and every preschool would produce tons of the stuff, cemented to sticky old graham cracker crumbs so it can be used for both decoration and dessert toppings.

Enough.  Have you heard this rumor?  Any theories?




I’m having fun swopping photos of wagons with Liz at “Exploring Colour,” here’s two photos I took years ago.

An old wagon in Logan, Utah, and a surrey made in Waterloo, NY.

Here’s the link to Liz’s post 

I know I’ve got shots of a Conestoga, the big freight haulers of their day in the northeast U.S. and Canada, I’ll add ’em when I find ’em.


old wagon in Logan, Utah



Surrey (yes it probably had a fringe on top) made by the Waterloo Wagon Co. in my hometown

A pretty classy rig, right?!

I kinda like a bright golden haze on the meadow…But there will be no singing of songs from Oklahoma! allowed in this blog!!

(And enough with the exclamation points already!!)


Wagons Ho





Over the holidays, I visited Corning, NY – – famous for its glass museum, the largest collection of historical and art glass in the world.


Landscape – George Inness – 1870 – Rockwell Museum


But the town also has another excellent art museum, the Rockwell.

It’s not on the scale of the glass museum (where the gift shop alone is literally seven times bigger than my house)  but it’s well worth visiting.


“Clouds in the Canyon” – Thomas Moran – 1915 – Rockwell Museum


A lot of the art relates to the American West.


“Yakima Indian with Shadow” – Fritz Scholder – 1976 – Rockwell Museum



I thought this would be entitled “Put Your Best Side Forward,” but in fact it’s “The Winter Campaign” – Frederic Remington – 1909 – Rockwell Museum


Frederic Remington, one of the most famous artists of the American West, was a New Yorker.   He grew up in the “North Country” near the St. Lawrence river, so he knew a thing or two about cold weather, and that came to mind looking at these cavalrymen huddled around a fire in the snow.

His scenes and sculptures of the West were created in his studio in New Rochelle, about ten miles from Irvington, where Albert Bierstadt had his studio.

They have a big (I guess the only way he did things) landscape by Bierstadt, nearly 6′ x 10′, in place of pride on the top floor.

I suppose these formal landscapes in the “Hudson River School” style have been out-of-fashion for a long time, but personally I love them.



“Mount Whitney” – Albert Bierstadt – 1877 – Rockwell Museum



museum from the back


The collection is housed in a former city hall, a big brick-and-stone pile, done in a stalwart Richardson Romanesque style, almost medieval-looking.

It was built in 1893 so a contemporary of some of the paintings it contains.


“Green River” – Thomas Moran – 1877 – Rockwell Museum


There’s a rooftop terrace, which is where I took this cellphone picture of the slate roof.


I was thinking about the saying “clean slate,” to start off the new year.

I know the expression refers to chalk & blackboards, students’ handheld slates (and 19th c. bar tabs!) but these roof shingles are made of the same stuff after all.



Some of the other expressions that are almost-synonyms, like “square one,” seem like they’re usually used in a more negative sense, like “here we go again, having to start all over.”  “Breaking new ground,” speaking as someone who’s dug up sod and a few stumps, is just plain backbreaking.

“When one door closes, another opens” can be very true.  I grew up in a drafty old house built in the 1860’s, and that kinda stuff happened, until we got storm doors and better weatherstripping installed.


Wax tablet & stylus – Wikipedia – photo by Peter van der Sluijs

I remember some teachers were fond of using tabula rasa, but they always seemed to say “blank slate” when they were looking straight at me.  With the emphasis on blank, as I looked back at them blankly.  So I never much liked that.  And it seems a bit fancy and pretentious.

When I looked it up, the dictionary has rāsa as “scraped, erased,” and of course the Romans were using wax tablets, not slate.  (I guess in a pinch, they could toss incriminating evidence onto the nearest brazier or flaming martyr.)

And speaking of Roman gladiatorial-related stuff, Webster’s tells us “start from scratch” meant “show up for a confrontation,” like “step up to the plate” and they also see an origin in sports – – a line in the sand – –  for a race, cricket, boxing, etc.  So that all sounds horribly athletic and combative, so let’s skip it.

“Reboot,” which the Help Desk people probably say in their sleep, is kinda nice – – at least you have the mental image of applying the sole of your boot to the soulless stubborn computer.

But I like best “clean slate,” “fresh start” and “new leaf,” they’re positive sounding, aren’t they.

And “Start afresh” just has a nice sound to it.



So that’s all, no profound thoughts, just Cheers, here’s to a fresh new year.


N. C. Wyeth – Rockwell Museum


I thought this was in keeping with the theme of this post – a bison at Yellowstone – a symbol of the Wild West, and as they say in the wildlife biz, while it’s a bison, not a gnu, it’s just as good as gnu.


19th century, 20th century, Art, NY, Upstate New York

Clean slate for the new year




Don’t walk around with blinders on.

Enjoy a good draft once in a while.




Take the time for a closer look.

It could be a place, an idea, a book, a piece of art or music, or a person.



“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

That’s from the King James version of Proverbs, often restated or paraphrased as

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Or even shorter, “Sometimes you gotta wise up and put a cork in it.”


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Cobble something together with what you got.



Recognize the value of family groups.

“Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anyone.”

(Mark Twain)


Take the stairs.

(Establish a national holiday to celebrate Nathan Ames, Leamon Souder, Jesse Wilford Reno and Charles Seeburger.)

(The guys who invented escalators, so that we can tell people we took the stairs without involving ourselves in all that nasty exercise.)


Reuse.  Recycle.



Don’t forget to put your bike away when you get home.

Warn others that bicycle-eating trees are a real thing.




Try to look at things from a different angle.

(Museum snack bar from overhead.)



Look for something interesting in the old and worn.



Be aware that the thing you’re focused on may not be the most meaningful.



Celebrate the moments of happiness.



All my best wishes to my friends here on WP.  I hope 2023 is a good year for all of us. 


A handful of resolutions


New York State has decided to allow a “Holiday Deer Hunt” (seriously).

Seems like a great way to promote the great outdoors, alfresco Nativity and peace & goodwill to all.

If you’re not a hunter,

looking forward to some family time and a walk in the winter wonderland,

a snowmobile jaunt, a cross-country ski trek

we have some new slogans:

Not just Icy, Pretty Dicey!

See Some Wildlife?  Duck!

Nothing says holiday cheer like shooting a deer.


And here’s an old Chuck Berry tune for the new festivity.



Billboard’s S’Hot 100, Number Six with a Bullet



Out of all the reindeers you know you are the mastermind

But run, run Rudolph, hunters ain’t too far behind

Run, run Rudolph, Santa’s gotta make it to town

Santa, wear an orange vest and you’d better keep your head well down.

Run, run Rudolph ’cause they’re loaded up and shootin’ all around


Said Santa to a boy child, “What have you been longin’ for?”

“All I want for Christmas is a semi-auto BAR.”

And then away went Rudolph whizzin’ like a shootin’ star


Run, run Rudolph, you’re called fair game in this town

Santa, make him hurry, we don’t want your sled shot down


Run, run Rudolph, I just heard a .30-06 round

Run, run Rudolph, the Grinch has got a compound


Santa, make him hurry, tell him we all got guns and beer,

Run, run Rudolph, I’m strappin’ on my bandolier.


Said Santa to a girl child, “What would please you most to get?”

“A little baby doll with crossbow or Barbie with a bayonet”


And then away went Rudolph, zippin’ up his Kevlar vest

‘Cause we leave the house without a rifle, we just feel undressed.


Run, run Rudolph, gotta make it to town

Santa, make him hurry, tell him he better stay in the mall

Run, run Rudolph we don’t want your antlers on the wall.


apologies to Chuck Berry

NY is not only allowing deer hunting until New Year’s, they’re also allowing hunting for a half-hour after sundown – – Rudolph, with your nose so bright, you’re sure to be in someone’s sights by night.

The old Xmas postcard is from the Library of Congress

Finger Lakes, FLX, NY, Upstate New York

New York extends deer hunting season through the holidays. Run, Rudolph, Run