A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sing a song of sixpence, I didn't send you a card...

Every December, I attempt to summarize the glories of another year in the Fresco/Cable household by way of gross exaggeration, blatant omission, and reliance on a literary genre entirely unsuited to the subject matter at hand.  Having previously exhausted the painful possibilities associated with “Choose Your Own Adventure”, “Epic Poem” and “Third Grade Homework Packet”, I have moved on to “Nursery Rhymes”. 

No tuffets, treacle, or runcible spoons were harmed in the creation of this blog post.  All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental or an obtuse allegorical reference to events that everyone forgot about three hundred years ago.   Results may vary.  Contents may have settled during shipping.


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
Uh… Why are there all these eye-bolts on the beams?

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
That’s the way the money goes,
This only makes sense if you know that Jay calls his kids, “the weasels”.
But he’s no match for their teasing prowess.

Three blind mice,
See how they run.
Okay, so the mice weren’t blind,
And no carving knives were brought into play,
But there were some personified sins in glow-in-the-dark animalistic bodysuits.
Also, Molly is the cutest mouse because I’m biased.

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
But her twin piggy is a vegetarian.
As I have been for 25 years, as of 2015.
Wow, I’m old. 
But at least the kids can cook.

Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
Not spectacularly, really. 
Trusten would have managed more silver bells and cockle shells,
Without that broken leg.
But we did learn to use the rototiller.

Wee Willie Winkie.
That’s it.
I just wanted an excuse to say “Wee Willie Winkie”.
No, I do not have a photo to accompany this thought.

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat…
… or a packraft.  Whatever…
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows….
Suuuure it does.  We all know about those crazy Alaskan ballot initiatives…
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
Come on people.  Runcible is not even a legit Scrabble word. 
And I knew should have steered clear of the spelling bee

Little Bo peep has lost her sheep
And doesn't know where to find them.
Leave them alone and they'll come home,
Because they’re nine now, and free-rangers. 
Good job, little sheep.

"Pussycat pussycat, where have you been?"
"I've been up to London to visit the Queen."
“Pussycat pussycat, what did you there?”
Mostly biking.
Actually, we skipped the queen altogether,
In favor of these much more delightful people.

Pease pudding hot, Pease pudding cold,
Pease pudding in the pot - nine days old.
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some don’t get a choice.  Mmm, pease!

The Grand old Duke of York he had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.
Pretty much, yeah. 
Except that instead of ten thousand men it was a variable number of little girls.

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs’ tails
That's what little boys are made of."
What are little girls made of?
Pretty much the same as above.

Baa baa black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes sir, Lizzy used to make me play this on repeat when she was two.
Maybe that’s what broke the CD player.

Ring around a rosie…
Wait.  That one’s about the bubonic plague.
We did not have the bubonic plague this year.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Well, okay, not really.  But we’re grateful for a healthy year.
And we really like apples.
And we probably weren’t supposed to feed all our cores to random horses
But who could resist?
Also, we really like our doctor -- but mostly to bike with.

As I was going to St. Ives I met a man with seven wives.
Wait.  What?  Let’s skip this one.

Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are?
One new violinist in the house
And one new violist
Yes, that sounds lovely, my darlings. 
Twinkle, twinkle…
Is there any wine?

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?

Three little kittens they lost their mittens, and they began to cry,
"Oh mother dear, we sadly fear our mittens we have lost!"
Do I even need to explain this?
No, I thought not.
I won’t explain the ice octopus, either.

Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John,
Went to bed with his trousers on;
One shoe off, and one shoe on,
Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my…
And possibly myself, on particularly addled days.

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner
Eating his Christmas pie,
He put in his thumb and pulled out
A non-allegorical commentary on our table manners.
I’ll let you decide which politician this is really about.

Red sky at night,
Sailor's delight;
Red sky at morning,
Sailor's warning.
Red sky pretty much all the time,
It’s Solstice in Fairbanks.

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man's hat;
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you.
But if you don’t know what a ha’penny is,
Or you haven’t got a God,
That’s fine;
I’m sure you’ve found a way to share. 
And to love.
Because you’re awesome.
However and whatever you choose to celebrate,
Joy and peace to all.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Scrabble is not really a word game; it's a mathematical game played by weirdly obsessive people who do abusive things to the English language.  Also, as a biologist and a research professor studying climate change, I suffer from seasonal poetry allergies.

Don't say I didn't warn you.


The stars blaze bright,
Unblurred by urban haze
That dimmed them, stole them --
A moment, a millennium ago --
From my childish gaze.
Viewed from this far-flung vantage
Deep in snow and silence
Orion stands undaunted,
The obsidian sky so timeless
That the dimmer details
Shine as lucid, as proud
As blue-white Rigel’s
Spectroscopic binary and Alpha Cygni variable primary.
Wide-eyed with wonder,
My own child looks, and points,
And asks about those fainter stars
Dangling from the constellation’s belt.
“Um, no,” I tell her. 
“That’s supposed to be his sword.”


My hands sink deep in loam,
Green-scented shoots exulting:
Live, live, live –
Waking from their fractal snowflake blanket
Rain-distilled and cleansed by sunlight.
Natural as wind,
As breath,
As birth,
As laughter.
Also natural as polio and damaging UV rays
And that spiny Amazonian fish, Vandellia cirrhosa.
Yeah.  That one.


I’ll wax iambic for five feet per line
And eulogize the symmetry of sound;
The assonance euphonious, labyrinthine;
The semblance of philosophy profound.

If onomatopoeia rings its chime
The tintinnabulation will be blithe,
The susurrus mellifluous, sublime,
The plink and chink and tinkle nimbly lithe.

And if a dactyl sets me widdershins,
Elision, anaptyxis let me cheat.
So anapest, clandestine, underpins
Nefarious trochee, erstwhile incomplete.

The sonnet’s lures snare logophilic nerds
Who wallow mathematically in words.


No matter how remote you are,
I’ll leave a light on --
A suffusing, fierce, embracing glow
That banishes the shadows;
A clear bright gleam that burns and waits,
Waits and burns,
An hour, a month, a year...
Even if unheeded, unneeded, unanswered,
Still it will shine, true and steady,
For you, for you, for you. 
It will not sap all energy or incinerate all hope.
It will not consume itself in its own endless heat.
It will not, in the fruitless space of decades, flicker and burn out.
These new-fangled LED bulbs sure are fantastic.


In raindrops coursing on the windowpane
I feel the rhythm of a long-forgotten chorus.
In ebbing evanescent clouds
I read a legend and a mystery.
The chaos of the circle’s ratio
Begs and whispers of the rational.
And in this complex dataset
I see pattern, shape, logic, reason,
Meaning, and truth – a bright epiphany --
Even though it totally isn’t there.