Land of Unreason

Persian Illuminated Leaves

The Carolina wren’s song is larger than its diminutive source.

“A joyful morning to you too! How can I be a slugabed with you outside my window?”

They’re a delight to watch. They like to nest near my house. I’ve learned to recognize that little piles of leaves placed in nooks are one of their camouflaged nests.

It is a cool spring morning. Damp. Again. There were tornados in the area last evening. One landed in Gaithersburg. I hope our store is ok.

It is Thursday. June 6.

Spring has swept by swiftly. From equinox to solstice—which is just two weeks away. Soon cool mornings and temperate days will give way to heat, humidity and sweaty nights under the ceiling fan.

I wish spring would stay for another month or two. There are many spring things I haven’t gotten to yet.

Plus, I don’t want the season to end because then it will be gone. Gone forever.

I had sad dreams last night. They were full of resignation.

I think all the dreams which have been fulfilled are all that will be fulfilled.

The rest is denouement, the unexciting, actionless part where there is explanation of what precedes and perhaps the tying of loose ends. Or not. Perhaps there is nothing to explain.

Or where it is revealed there’s not much interesting left for the main character, so the story might as well end here.

In The Great Gatsby, it goes like this:

“‘They’re a rotten crowd,’ I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together…'”

The denouement in The Great Gatsby happens when Nick decides to go back to Minnesota, to get away from the rich people engaged in all those things Nick thinks are part of the moral worthlessness in Gatsby’s life. All the people in Gatsby’s circle were unfaithful.

In The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger winds it down with:

“… That’s all I’m going to tell about. I could probably tell you what I did after I went home, and how I got sick and all, and what school I’m supposed to go to next fall, after I get out of here, but I don’t feel like it. I really don’t. That stuff doesn’t interest me too much right now… I mean how do you know what you’re going to do till you do it? The answer is, you don’t. I think I am, but how do I know? I swear it’s a stupid question…”

The denouement in this story occurs in the last part of the novel. Here, the character Holden is living in a psychiatric facility, from which he is recounting the story. He tells readers that, after the merry-go-round ride of Phoebe, he would go home to attend school and face his parents.

Or you can just ride off into the sunset…

I’m almost finished with the Last Round and Round story. The story began in what I thought might be a haunted hotel in Parma, Italy a few weeks ago.

I experienced… something… a haunting or… something and managed to write it down.

The Last Round and Round may not be the “last” however.

I have 4 or 5 other Round and Round stories begun. I just haven’t been inspired to finish them.

I suppose those can be put out if they get finished even though the “last” one has been written.


Until then, I will just plug away at the same stuff, the same life—hoping that maybe something thrilling will happen.

Ernest is taking me to get the Ford. Its computer went haywire, and warnings flashed on the dashboard. Five or six. One after the other.

“You need a new ‘%$#@&^%$& Module.’ $732.”

The vehicle has just over 20,000 miles on it. I bought it in 2019. Distance driving stopped soon after that with the arrival of COVID. The driving, like golf and some other activities, never came back.

Where did I used to go? Soccer—all over the mid Atlantic. Colleges. Golf outings to regional courses. Dinners down toward DC or over in Virginia. Book and other trade shows in Manhattan. Distant house calls. (Now we can’t keep up with the estates being brought to us. I’d like to go on a house call, but there’s no time.)

Back then, there were people in my life that wanted to go out and do things.

Now, outside of activities close to Frederick, I mostly go to airports. Then I put the miles on… somewhere else.

When we get to the dealership, Ernest will return to Frederick and go to the Frederick store to cull for Books by the Foot. I have to go to two banks. I was going to get my haircut, but Mandi is “off Thursday.” Then I’ll go to the Frederick store and assess the situation. (It had a wonderful May. BOOM! All three stores were up over May 2023. To maintain growth, I feel the need to do more culling. More resizing of overperforming or underperforming categories. Hope for inspiration on innovations at the stores—things to make better, faster, friendlier.)


Change or stagnate…

Sometime today, I’ll need to pick up a prescription. While I’m there, I’ll try to see the optometrist.

I spent an hour yesterday trying to renew my driver’s license online. I was solicited by the state via email. It was pretty user friendly, but there was the exercise of creating a user name and password and… When I eventually got to checkout—finally—after numerous password and organ donor forms and “verifications” via texted codes, a screen came up, “You can’t renew your license without an eye exam.”


All the effort in making the MVA site user friendly online, and there was nothing about eye exam until the very end.

I left at 3:30 to get the medicine from Walmart. First, I stopped by the optometrist’s office near the entrance. The door was locked, and the lights inside were off. I checked the hours of operation sign. “Thursday Closed.”

It was that kind of day.

But now I was free of any kind of responsibility.

I left the sprawling Walmart shopping center that was once the location of our old warehouse. (It was demolished after we moved out in 2014.) I drove past another newish sprawling shopping center and headed south on US 15 to Frederick’s first shopping center—circa 1957. I was meeting my friend Cap at Glory Days for a beer. I got there first and took a stool at the bar. They had Natty Boh on tap. This retro beer went defunct in the 90s and then was resurrected about a dozen years ago. It is a Baltimore icon. “National Bohemian—From the Land of Pleasant Living” was how the old ads ran when I was a little kid during the family’s brief sojourn in Baltimore during the 1960s.

Baltimore—the land of pleasant living… LOL—actually, the ads referred to the lands around the Chesapeake Bay.

Cap arrived, and we chatted about books and the Orioles and old times.

When I got home, I forced myself to be productive. The rains and other excuses since my return from Italy made me feel guilty. Plus, I wanted to do some physical work to shake off the cobwebs of disappointment from a day and a week that had gotten lost somehow.

I got a plastic tub and dug some manure from the pile that was delivered a couple of years ago. It is getting low and has turned into compost. Each shovel-full has wriggly earthworms flailing to escape their sudden exposure.

I looked over at the beds below the dog pen nearby and was happily surprised to see about three-dozen potato plants thriving. How soon before I can turn some of them up?

I took the tub over to the forest of bleeding hearts which now bury the stone wall they escaped over when their seeds jumped from the garden bed above it and self-propagated in the gravel patio in front of the lengthy wall.

I hoisted the heavy mattock and slammed it into the gravel. I’ve learned how to angle my strikes so they turn up the brittle fleshy roots without breaking them. Soon I had a dozen or so.

I took the truck down to the “Mulch Lane” about a hundred yards below the house. That’s been a success story. Long the only route to get a vehicle to the northern side of the house, it was mostly dirt and weeds. Some worn sheets had come into the warehouse from somewhere—likely with books from the downsizing of some elderly person’s domicile. (We get some strange things that get mixed in from companies that specialize in that and sell us the books—one box looks just like another.) I used them to cover the last bare patches where invasive Stilt Grass was beginning to sprout.

New Wall

The truck still had about a half a load of mulch, and I used the big manure shovel to scoop out chipped wood to finish covering the cotton sheets, which will act as a weed block. The fabric will eventually decompose and become part of the earth. I planted the bleeding hearts up against the wall I put in last fall. I walked to nearby terraced beds and dug up some yearling hellebores that would encroach on the trilliums I’m trying to establish if they were allowed to remain. I planted those against the wall as well.

Not satisfied with my production and having a little daylight left (sunset is about 8:30 now), I decided it was time to finish topping the new terrace wall that was put in last winter. The idea was to give the wall a more “finished” appearance. There are still three pallets of stone enclosed in wire “baskets.” The trouble was finding and extricating stones of a certain thickness with flat tops and bottoms.

Stone Pallets

It was heavy work. Some of the stones were 50 pounds or more. I had to take care not to cut my hands on the sharp stone or my arms on the wire. When I was able to get one out, I lugged the stone across the drive and into the ferns about 50 yards away. I wouldn’t let myself stop until the wall was completely topped off.

Topped Off Wall

It’s not perfect, but it looks a lot better than it did. I can tweak the stones when the plants die off next fall.

I’d done enough. I was satisfied with my labors.

The truck got parked on the steep part of the driveway in front of the house. There’s about a quarter of a load of mulch left.

I went in and showered off the sweat and dirt.

I treated myself to some Bombay gin and ice and olives to sip while watching an old Star Trek movie—the one where the Enterprise gets hijacked by a zealot who wants to take it across the galaxy to find “god.”

There are mornings I don’t want to hear the first birdsong. It can signal that further rest is finished.

Friday morning, the sun rose at 5:42. Dawn’s first light was about 5.

I was dreaming about a hotel when the first soft bird alarm went off. It was the fanciest hotel in my hometown of Buffalo. (Likely the old Statler Hilton, though I have no recollection of the visits there with my dad, probably for some medical or Democratic functions long, long ago.) In my dream, the hotel was modern and retro at the same time. The last time I’d looked at the clock, it was 3 a.m. In my dream, it was 3 in the hotel as well. The small bar in a room off the lobby was busy. My dream mind wondered at the social life in Buffalo if a bar was packed at that early [or late] hour.)

So, I awoke and started pecking away at this. This lost week also kept me from getting started on the blog.

I did get some books done this week.

Madeline had several months’ worth of books she’d set aside for my review or that I had requested to see after she’d researched them. I’d kept putting it off because they are often hard, impossible things—even after she’s looked up everything she can find on them.

I got through a bunch of them.

Madeline Books

There was a first of The Wind in the Willows, a signed Nobel Prize winner and some other treasures. But of course there were “problems” like this pre-Revolutionary book on the colonies and taxation.

American Colony Taxes Book

Madeline didn’t see any copies of this edition on WorldCat and only 3 copies of a different edition. I’ll see if Annika has better luck.

Last weekend was “The Usual.” Cart after cart of books and stuff.

I did so many. But as always, there were carts left that I hadn’t the time or energy to get to.


In the melange were two illuminated leaves.

Persian Illuminated Leaves

Persian, I would guess. That sort of thing is really out of my bailiwick. But I thought they deserved to be framed, so I took them to Ken’s—where I’ve been going for decades.

Framing… May was the best month ever for ephemera in the stores. I’m told a mother and daughter came to the Frederick store and spent hundreds on old color plates of flowers and birds—which I assume they’ll be matting and framing for resale. The bagging and hanging of prints and ephemera has been another success story in our “rescue” of unwanted paper things.

The sun is up, and the forest is full of birdsong. There’s an eastern towhee somewhere just outside, according to the Merlin bird identifier app.

My librarian is coming today. She’s been working on the garage. I could actually get a car in it now!

Chuck's Garage

She feels she can shelve the 7-foot stack of Folio Society letterpress Shakespeare volumes on the deep shelves that run along the back of the lower level of the house.

Maybe she can get these enormous vintage Shakespeares a proper place as well.

Enormous Shakespeares

I’ll oil up the bindings to “dress” them up.

The engravings in them are stunning.

Enormous Shakespeare Engraving

I’m nearing the end of an old fantasy novel. Land of Unreason.

Land of Unreason

It is a 1942 publication, and I don’t think I’m giving anything away by telling you it is a fairy story.

I’m not sure how they’re going to pull off an ending, so I can’t recommend it.


Though living in a world of unreason is no longer fantasy.

6 Comments on Article

  1. Norv commented on

    I guess stars (OUCH!) aligned for your presumably unintended 35th anniversary screening! The fifth Trek movie came out when I lived in Frederick. I was so pleased with the fourth movie, I mistakenly bought tickets for back-to-back showings of “Final Frontier” at FSK Mall. It was pretty bad. Shatner was a lousy director. … Later… (Link goes to Star Trek’s web page noting anniversary of the movie.)

    1. Charles Roberts replied on

      Thanks Norv.
      I find those movies and the old Stars Wars etc – comfort watching.
      I like your other idea – just the time factor.
      Keep on me!

  2. Sheryl Grant commented on

    Thank you for the rich depth of your musings and reminders of days spent with soil, growing things, rocks, birdsong, books, and road trips. Ahh

    1. Charles Roberts replied on

      I feel sorry those that don’t understand those joys.
      Different wiring I suppose.
      Thank you so much for the reminder!

  3. Patricia Lawrence commented on

    I love your bird stories.
    I have a little house wren who lives in my backyard. When I eat my dinner out on my deck, he flits around singing at me. He and a sparrow are having a turf war over a birdhouse. They take turns sitting atop it and screaming at each other, both very loudly. So far, it’s a stalemate. Neither has nested in it.
    The other day I played the Merlin app of the wren song to confirm his ID. When the bird heard the song, he got all agitated and repeatedly dive bombed at me! So now he and I have called a truce. I eat in peace, and he can sing as much as he wants.
    Wrens are little but feisty. I think of them as the chihuahua of backyard birds.

    1. Charles Roberts replied on

      That’s lovely!
      I never thought of playing the songs to attract birds.
      Maybe now I can see some of the elusive ones that only the phone tells me are around.
      Thank you for a big smile on a grumpy day.

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