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Not One of Us, issue 53

This issue of Not One of Us has stories and poetry by people whose work I love, and I'm looking forward to savoring each piece. As it happens, my eyes first fell on a lovely poem by sovay for rose_lemberg called "Day, Sun, Night." It starts like this:

I worte this poem on a feather
and sent it by post of the sun

So lovely!

And this description:

Her hair a chime of coins and ancient gold

What's great about the poem (and it's short--I've just quoted you almost a third of it) is how, while remaining entirely sovay's poem, it speaks to rose_lemberg's poetic sensibilities (birds, sun).

Not One of Us is a print zine with a new home base: The subscription information is here.

Oh, and cherry blossoms

... just a pretty picture

cherry blossoms


duccio shared how he puts remembrances in the little single-serving vodka bottles that you can find dotting the landscape (at least around here), and he even sent me one, with a crow label. Meanwhile, oiktirmos shared about a school project he recalls, messages in bottles, but set afloat in the air, via balloon, to find out about air currents. A friend in town here remembers doing similar with her students.

I've been collecting the little bottles, with the idea of hosting my book group for a message-in-a-bottle party. We could decorate the bottles with glitter and shiny things (so that if people see them, they won't dismiss them as just rubbish), and then each person could put a message in. I could have balloons ready--they could take the balloons with them, or they could launch from my house.

I thought I should test this, though. So first I decorated some bottles:

Then I thought I'd launch one. But to my chagrin, one balloon is not enough to lift a bottle:

Nor are two:

But ahhhh, magic three:

I went to a park next to an organic farm to launch that bottle:

Where are the balloons in this third photo? Click through to the full size--not enabled for the other photos--and look in the bottom third of the picture, near the center

There was not much wind, and the bottle and balloons rose straight up. My teacher friend said that one of her class's bottles made it to Spain, but I somehow imagine this one falling straight back down to earth, maybe to be retrieved by one of the farmers, or by a kid playing in the park.

high beams

You flick your lights at me?
You think these are my brights?
No, no, no:
If I were on high beams
You would see nothing
But the retina-destroying brilliance
Of twin suns in supernova
A radiance so profound
That the shadows it casts
Tremble in perpetual aftershock.


Strange flowers

Today, walking on the train tracks, I found pieces of a discarded bouquet, flowers that bloomed from copper cable.


There were many creatures in my dreams last night: a companion tiger who walked beside me along a snowy, busy highway, a crocodile that tried to eat Little Springtime (but she repelled him), kittens dashing about under dry leaves, and crustaceans and things like diatoms, but large enough to hold, filling a harbor.


Today a dramatic and tragic message-in-a-bottle story came my way. Janis Blower, writing in the Shields Gazette, tells the story of a bottle that washed up in 1861 in South Shields, downstream from Newcastle upon Tyne in Great Britain. The whole story is here, but below are some excerpts:

The letter, which was dated February of the previous year, began: “Dear Friends, when you find this, the crew of the ill-fated ship Horatio, Captain Jackson, of Norwich, is no more.” It went on to say how the vessel had left Archangel, in north-west Russia, on January 8, 1860.

All was well at first, but then the ship found herself scudding before a gale for 10 days non-stop.

After a failed rescue attempt, the crew was reduced to eight, plus the master and mate, second mate, and two boys:

“We are not able to keep her up,” Capt Jackson wrote, describing 8ft of water in the hold and the vessel’s hatches all stove in. “We are worn out.”

He went on: “I write these few lines and commit them to the foaming deep in hopes that they will reach some kind-hearted friend who will be so good as to find out the friends of these poor suffering mortals.

“Death is welcome.”

He concluded the letter by listing the names of all those aboard.

Blower hasn't been able to find a ship called Horatio that was lost at that time. “Did she go down, was she saved? We'll probably never know,” she writes.

ETA: oiktirmos has a link to the complete text of the message in the first comment, below.

ETA 2: But quite likely this is just a dramatic hoax; see this comment, below.

Blower says that this image, which accompanies the story, is from the area where the bottle was found, but probably dates to the interwar years in the twentieth century.

a warm and sunny day

The peepers were peeping in the lake behind the baseball field and in the low-lying area next to the Dunkin Donuts, where a duck was sleeping in spite of the singing.

By the rec department, the skate park was getting some use:

Skateboarding April 18 2015

Skateboarding April 18 2015

skateboarding April 18 2015

At the dump, a sign said, "New stickers are pass due!" They meant past due; they meant, you need a new sticker, for 2015, if you're going to be dumping trash here, but they'd written "pass due," because in American English, that's what it sounds like, and if you think about it, the sticker is a pass, a pass for using the facilities, though the pass isn't due, it's past due, which takes us back to the initial problem.

Aural coloring books

I was driving to the high school yesterday, and anytime I passed a wet, low-lying area, the cheerful sound of spring peepers rose from it. Not only water, but also frog song, collects there. It was as if the scene were a giant coloring book, and someone had colored in the sounds, filling in the low spots with peepers. So then I got to thinking about how else the scene was colored, aurally. The roads are colored with the sounds of engines. If the picture is colored in the early morning, the roads are dark with that sound--people heading to work. At midday, there's only the hint of car sound--much paler. In the woods, the upper trees are colored with the calls of flickers, chickadees, and cardinals. The meadow is colored in with the sounds red-winged blackbirds and kildeer.

Have a picture of a wet, low-lying area.

It all began in 1990

You know how you can think that things have existed basically forever (like, say, the song "Happy Birthday to You") and then discover that no, they have a knowable and more-or-less datable origin (like the mid-nineteenth century for the combination of words and tune for "Happy Birthday to You" source)?

Well, the other day wakanomori and I were having a conversation about I-don't-even-remember-what, and guess who came up as a figure of comparison? Hitler! And we both laughed and joked about Godwin's Law. ("As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.")

And then we got to wondering when this became a thing. Was it like Murphy's Law ("Anything that can go wrong, will")--a name just randomly attaching to an adage? Not likely, I thought, because the statement is so particular. (Incidentally, Wikipedia has a history of how and when Murphy's Law got to be called Murphy's Law, here.)

And indeed, it turns out to have a quite particular origin. There really is a Godwin--Mr. Mike Godwin, an American attorney.

Mike Godwin (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

He articulated his law in 1990. There is a Wikipedia entry about it (here). And yes, I do know Wikipedia isn't always reliable, but it cites this Wired article by Godwin himself, describing how he went about seeding the meme.

Fascinating! (Imagine Spock eyebrow lift. Actually, would Spock speak in exclamation points? Gentle ones, maybe?)

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