23, 691 days recorded

On August 1, 1828, Tobias Walker of the Alewive neighborhood  just west of Kennebunk, Maine,  started a journal of his daily work.  He wrote every day until he died.

John Waterhouse was here building cellarway for outer cellar door.  
Jeremiah Lord was here finishing milk cellar and hanging doors.
Set out three fir trees at the end of the house. 
Mr. Waterhouse here, raised the building 
for to make dressing in, with the help of the hogs.
Moved the stove from the kitchen to the portch. (sic)
Bricked up the fireplace in the kitchen and sat up a Port stove.
Preparing the ground and getting in readiness .
Took down the old barn.
Digging for a cellar, ledgy and very hard digging, 
almost discouraging.
Finished painting the barn.  
Building a post and picket fence in front of the house.

His son Edwin kept the farm and the diary every day until he died.  And his grandson Daniel, too, until June 27, 1893 when he wrote:

Went to the village with butter.
Got 10 bushels of corn of Edm. Warren at 5-8 cts/bushel.
Got a rake and a scyth and ——— for haying.

He closed the book, set down the pen.   Daniel farmed thirty-three years more and never wrote again.


Days too much alike–
milk and stone and hay.
When all’s said and done,
they said all there was to say.

If they’re not farmers, why should they care?
and if they are,  they’ll know.
Meantime, there’s stock to feed,
meantime, there’s corn to grow.

Tobias Walker’s diary excerpts taken from Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn, by Thomas C. Hubka.




They lay their blue eggs in nests
which have a smooth mud inner surface
making them easy to recognize.
Song thrushes are early nesters
and in a mild season the young
may have hatched and be flying
by the end of March.

They are well known for feeding on large snails
and will use a hard object, usually a stone, as an anvil
to smash them on and break their shells.
Song thrushes will also feed
on worms and other invertebrates.
Berries, particularly from ivy and holly,
are increasingly important in colder months.

Both male and female song thrushes
have a warm brown colour in the upperparts
with a pale belly neatly spotted with black.
They have a creamy-yellow wash on the breast.
They may be confused with the larger
and more common mistle thrush.  The mistle thrush
has a head that sometimes looks too small for its body.

The song thrush has a melodious song
ringing out from a large bush or halfway up a tree.
The song consists of a variety of short phrases
which are repeated.
A loud rather boring song
from a bird at the very top of a tree
is likely to be a mistle thrush.

Some of the decline can be accounted for
by a series of cold winters
which have killed the young birds
but this does not explain all of the loss.
The use of slug and snail killing chemicals
has greatly increased on farmland,
in gardens and in parks, and this appears to be important.

Other changes in farming practices,
such as removal of hedges, have led to the loss
of nesting sites.  Ploughing in autumn rather than spring
has reduced the number of invertebrates
available as food for breeding birds.  Also worrying
is the increase in urban predators
such as magpies, crows, grey squirrels and cats.

Stop using chemicals in your garden.
Avoid at all costs using slug pellets.
Do not trim hedges between March and August.
Avoid overtidying the garden in autumn.
Keep a supply of windfall apples to put out
once the weather gets cold.
Keep a supply of fresh water available in the winter.

In order to help them in our three counties
of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire
we need to find out much more about them.
If you see a song thrush
please tell us on the attached form.
Give us as much information
about the sighting as you can.

~Found in a pamphlet by the  Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust, Oxford, England



found in Insects Through the Seasons, by Gilbert Waldbauer

A male cecropia minutes
after escaping from his cocoon
A pair of cecropias mating
Honey bees inadvertently
pollinating mint blossoms as they forage for nectar
Vedalia beetles attacking cottony cushion scales
A newly molted dog day
cicada sitting above its nymphal skin
A male queen butterfly showering
a female’s antennae with an aphrodisiac dust
Male rhinoceros
beetles fighting over a female
Dragonflies copulating
A parasitic ichneumonid drilling
through wood to reach the sawfly
larva in which she will lay an egg
A female scarab beetle rolling a ball of dung
A worker bumble bee gathering pollen from a black-eyed Susan
A hover fly closely mimicking a yellowjacket wasp
An attacking blue
jay is startled by an io moth
A minor worker of the leaf-
cutter ant defending larger, leaf-
carrying worker from attack
A mantispid striking at a house fly
A hungry praying mantis striking at a small butterfly
A sphinx moth probing for nectar in the flower of a trumpet creeper
A nymphal dragonfly using its prehensile
lower lip to snatch a small fish
A cluster of southward-migrating monarchs resting on a branch
Weaver ants pulling two leaves together
A pileated woodpecker exposing
a large beetle grub under the bark of a tree
A white-footed
mouse chewing a hole in a polyphemus cocoon


She built
stone walls, wattle fences,
a house as large as she needed,
as small as no orphan could find.
Her bed was sewn from leaves of palm
and stuffed with the wings of owls.

She dreamed
of broken doors,
pools of yellow glass,
treetops bright with fire
and horses with sapphire wings.

She loved
many and none too well:
an elderly master of hounds,
the bishop’s paramour,
the oldest prince,
the fisherman’s second son.
One smelled of onions,
another of Chinese herbs.
She wrote their names
on acorns and lettuce leaves
and fed them to the squirrels.

She wore
an attic’s trunk of clothes:
a linen cassock gone to rust,
motley, silk, a cape of feathers,
the neat homespun of a tidy wife.
Her shoes were red
and filled with leaves.

She lived
on walnuts, oranges,
potatoes and wild greens;
she drank beer from a hundred cellars
and wine from the skull
of a heretic hung in chains.

Her table
was set with porcelain from the East,
brass vases of lilac and nettle,
tallow candles in silver candlesticks,
Venetian glasses, gourd spoons,
fish knives carved from sailors’ bones.

She named
her children after bones:
Vomer whose father had followed the plow,
Sacrum who left her and ran away to sea.
Humerus did laugh well and long,
but Scapula became a whore.
Ulna wed a farrier;  Ischium kept goats;
Patella, her darling, wove linen cloth.
Talus and his goodwife grew apples and pears
and Fibula, who could heal with herbs,
was burned for being a witch.

Her gods
required sacrifice
of cabbages and blood,
the bodies of mice and toads.

She played
a goat-horn pipe
and a seven-stringed harp.
She sang dirges to the trees
and carols to the moon.

She buried
dead robins
under willows
and kept red worms
in an iron pot.

She never
learned to dance.

When she was old,
her death
grew easy.
The crows and foxes
carried her all away.


What if the world is ending now?
What if the bees
are never coming back?

Garlic mustard is invading
everywhere. I can’t begin
to pull it all.

What if the maple trees
and earthworms
move away?

What if the sky
becomes a plastic dome?
I think the wars will never end.

I live in the country.
I have to drive everywhere.
What if all the wells run dry?

I’m making compost
out of everything.
I’m trying to write this poem.


What is the Christian hope?
Pigeons huddled on the steeple’s warm side, pigeons flying under the bridge, their wings spread like bones.

What do we mean by the coming of Christ in glory?
Habits.  Coffee in the same mug.  Stick in the same hand.

What do we mean by heaven and hell?
The crumbs in the bottom of the ciborium.

Why do we pray for the dead?
So that they may walk across the ash, leaving footprints.

What do we mean by the last judgement?
A plastic bag that brings back memories of lardy cake rich with currents bought from a homely old woman in a bakery in the town where Alfred the Great was born.

What do we mean by the resurrection of the body?
Short images, meetings and farewells.

What is the communion of saints?
A tiny girl with indeterminate features, a fairy person in a filmy dress, pink.

What do we mean by everlasting life?
That all day long, the snow will fall and form itself into elegant drifts, that ice will spread from the edges of the river and downstream to the estuary, forcing all the herons to take to the air.

What, then, is our assurance as Christians?
That every fairytale is real—that all the hapless heroines, gallant, obsessive princes, useless kings and brilliant witches are arising and taking over every small-time government everywhere on Earth.


Thus ends the Dadaist Catechism.


What other sacramental rites evolved in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
Chasing hawks, chasing crows, hugging someone who is trying to clean shoes, looking at someone’s sister’s photographs of Greece, almost anything from California, or for that matter, from west of the Rocky Mountains.

How do they differ from the two sacraments of the Gospel?
They are not rain, unemployed kids, tourists, a bustling woman, lots of people with nothing to do.

What is Confirmation?
A old guy with a Tootsie Pop at a community movie.

What is required of those to be confirmed?
To play the saxophone on a street corner.

What is Ordination?
A wickedness deeper than Dante’s hell.

What is Holy Matrimony?
An 83-year old Grandma trapped in a mangled car, sucking moisture from her socks.

What is Reconciliation of a Penitent?
A baby gate, so the baby won’t fall out the window.

What is Unction of the Sick?
The cold air off the continent lifting warm ocean air into a Nor’easter, tracking up the coast.

Is God’s activity limited to these rites?
No: they are dry mowed grass clippings in the letters spelling MOTHER on a granite gravestone.

How are the sacraments related to our Christian hope?
By explaining once and for all whether or not the “self’ is an individual reality, a social construction, or a twitch in the dream of an adolescent god.