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The Mystery of It All – A Precursor

“The Primum Mobile that fashioned us

Has made the very owls in circles move;

And I, that count myself most prosperous,

Seeing that love and friendship are enough, …”

— W.B Yeats, in the poem “My Descendants”


“So…” said Level.

We waited. It was one of those “so’s” that means a question or pontification, or even a pontificating question, is coming.

“So, is this Porch blog going to be just about the exciting world of porch porches, or is it going to be like mysterious and metaphysical, with “the porch” (yes, Level is the type that makes big finger quote signs) being some kind of symbol or analogy for the mystery of it all?”

I pondered this a minute. On the porch you’re allowed to think before you answer. I liked that phrase, “the mystery of it all”, but didn’t want to tell Level. His “curmudgeon” persona can be annoying, especially when it‘s pointed at me.  Besides, we’d covered this before.

“Yes,” I finally answered.

Level grunted. “Well, you should have a plan.”

Wolfflow laughed, which always makes my day. “You should have menus!” She does speak in exclamation points. Honest.  “Meals to eat on the porch!” She wiggled big quote signs with her fingers, giggled mischievously, and winked at Level.  “Most people are more interested in eating on the porch than sitting around pondering the mystery of it all.”

“Yeah. That’s a good idea,” said Becky. “You could ask your readers to send their porch pictures and share their own porch or patio stories. Patios are the same thing.  I think a lot of women would like that.”


Yes, patio’s count.  We’ve had many a wonderful hour on this one with friends in Wisconsin.

I made my thoughtful smirking face, which says a lot.  It annoyed me that they were probably right. Who would do a blog on just porches?  “Well, I wasn’t necessarily trying to please everyone…and it’s really just a practice blog…”

Even Marlowe chimed in.  “Not just women.  Sailors too.  My sailboat is my other porch.  Eating is also important to sailors.” Et tu Marlowe?

Becky asked, “What sex are sailors?”

“Not much barbequing on your sailboat,” said Level.

Marlowe scowled.  “It’s got a galley.”

“Ha,” scoffed Level.  “No one but Non-Vietnamese Dave can stand up in it.”

“Besides,” I added, nobly ignoring the nit-picking, “I don’t really have many readers, and I’m not exactly sure how you get them.  I don’t really know what I’m doing.  But, definitely, I’ll add menus to the plan – when I get one.  It’s just a practice blog.”

I wondered if I really would add menus, or get a plan.  “I guess patios can be the same as porches.  But somehow the word doesn’t quite mean the same thing to me.”


See, I was wrong. Patios are fun.

No one said anything for a while.  Then Sensible Dave finally spoke. “I can’t quite stand up in Marlowe’s galley.”  This brought a big laugh from Wolfflow, which I’m sure, is why he said it.  We all try to make Wolfflow laugh, not that it’s hard.

driveway patio_3b-50w

The mystery of it all, is just as mysterious on a driveway. A driveway makes a great patio/porch. You can eat in the garage, when it rains.

SD continued, “But I think I know what Dave means about patios.  People hide out in the back yard and have parties on them.  Nothing wrong with that, of course.  But it doesn’t fit with the idea of the front porch as a social place watching the neighbors go by and interacting with them. It doesn’t really matter, though.  You can’t exclude them.  Not everyone has a porch…or a sailboat. ”

“Oh boy,” laughed Level. “I can see we’re headed for the nit-picky merry-go-round.”

S-Dave chuckled. “I like merry-go-rounds.”



For the good are always the merry,

Save by an evil chance,

And the merry love the fiddle,

And the merry love to dance:”

–W.B. Yeats in the poem “The Fiddler of Dooney”


“Seventy years man and boy,

And never have I danced for joy.”

–W.B. Yeats in the poem “Imitated from the Japanese”


“No Sane man will dance.”

 — Cicero (106-43 B.C.)



Great solutions to great mysteries will be revealed while cooking a marshmallow.

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”

– Tom Clancy


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Introducing Some of the Regulars

The other day my Porch was crowded with some regulars. They can all tell a good story.

Marlowe was there.  He’s retired from making his living on the sea, but when he’s not on my porch, he’s sailing around Long Island Sound in that cruising yawl he inherited from Joe.  In the fall he’ll sail himself down to Florida and stay on his boat down there.

Makita, my wife’s dog, was reclining beside my chair.  Her job is to keep us from pontificating. Her sense of pontification is better than her sense of smell. Once someone accidentally switched the TV to a channel on which Bill O’Reilly was speaking. Before we could change the channel, Makita had knocked over the television and was trying to shake it to death. The TV broke along with one of her teeth. Oh well, as Sensible Dave says, “there’s nothing on.”  She’s also a spectacular Frisbee catcher, when in the mood.

Makita, The Guardian or "She who tenaciously guards against pontificators who take themselves too seriously"

Makita, The Guardian, or “She who tenaciously guards against pontificators who take themselves too seriously”

I was telling them about my new blog on porches.

Level said, “A blog on porch sitting? That sounds exciting.”  By which, of course, he meant it sounded boring.  He is always careful to not be overly supportive.  I believe he feels it is unmanly.

Yes that’s really his name – Level.  Well it’s actually a nickname. None of us know his real name.  His explanation is that he wanted a name that was spelled the same way in both directions. It’s probably not a coincidence that he has a son named Bob and a daughter named Anna.  He calls his wife Wolfflow, or, after a couple of glasses of wine, Flowwolf.  Don’t ask me which is her real name, or if either is.   Wolfflow’s laughter is loud and contagious.  When she’s around we all laugh more.

We all like Level, but he can go on…and on.  His forearms often have little tooth scratches from Makita. He’s a pontificator, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously – which makes all the difference.

Level had to sort of shout his unsupportive comment because he was sitting off the porch on a lawn chair in the grass, smoking a cigar. Cigar smoke makes Marlowe seasick.  Me too, but since Marlowe was quicker to point this out, I was content to say nothing and let him be the poor sport. Level just smokes one cigar a day, which is fortunate since he spends a lot of time on, or in the vicinity of, my porch.

Becky said, “Hmm. What are you going to say about porches?” Becky is a ghost whisperer, though she doesn’t believe in ghosts. “What kind of God would create a world where unhappy spirits have to roam around all alone?” she often asks. My porch visitors are not generally the type that believe in, or even think about, ghosts. Still Becky seems to pick up something that makes a good story – ghosts of the past, we believe.

The woman who lives here has a miniature dachshund. It isn't very friendly and she warns me it may attack Makita.  It is about the size of Makita's head.  We've never seen anyone sit on this porch. But Becky will tell us a story of this porch's ghosts.

The woman who lives here has a miniature dachshund. The woman is friendly but her little dachshund isn’t.  She warns me it may attack Makita. It is about the size of Makita’s head. (Mark Twain said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” But that’s just stupid.) We’ve never seen anyone sit on this porch. But Becky will tell us a story of this porch’s ghosts.

In addition to being a ghost whisperer, Becky manages the local health food co-op.  She’s in her fifties, with graying hair, and has one of those faces that people just like to look at.  It gets more that way with age.

Sensible Dave said, “Is it about porches, or the people who visit them?”

“Doesn’t have to be just one or the other,” stated Becky.  Unlike, Level, she always makes me feel encouraged.  They are antipodes in this area.

I really like it when Sensible Dave is there.  I don’t have favorites, of course, but if I did, it would be him. We also call him Non-Vietnamese Dave, or NV for short. He’s four feet and eleven inches tall, but he tells people he’s 5 feet. Then, with a straight face, he says, “that’s pretty tall for a Vietnamese guy.” Since he is not Vietnamese, this gets mixed reactions.

SD (Sensible Dave) is small, thin, relaxing to be around, and when not on the porch, we generally see him in the company of a pretty woman or three. His pick-up line is, “I was abducted by aliens. I’m the only one. The other stories are all bogus.” I believe this is true. So does everyone else who knows him. He comes across as so darn sane, that people believe him. That’s one of his gifts. He could have made a lot of money fooling people, but of course, he never lies (except for a little white one about his height, or when it doesn’t really matter and he can make it a better story with more truth than the actual facts alone may reveal).  Nor would he ever take advantage of another person.

Two floors of never-used porch.  But good ghost stories here too.

Two floors of never-used porch. But good ghost stories here too.

According to SD, the aliens chose him because, according to their analysis, he is the most sensible person on earth. They are befuddled by humans and needed someone sensible to talk to.  A blog about his experiences and conversations with the aliens is coming soon. It should be good.  (Side note: No he’s not an alter-ego.  His name just happens to really be Dave).

Another of Sensible Dave’s gifts is that he’s a good listener. He makes you think you’re the most interesting person he ever met. This is because everyone is truly interesting to him. Or so I believe.

“Well,” I said, starting to answer SD’s question, “it started as just a way to experiment with, and learn, WordPress.  I’ve got plans for bigger things.”  No one laughed.  Becky nodded supportively.  Level didn’t. “We walk around these streets everyday and almost never see anyone on all these great porches around here. At first, we assumed, it was because of the cold weather.  But after the weather got better, then beautiful almost everyday, still the porches remained empty.”

“It’s been one of the best summers I can remember,” commented Marlowe.  “Beautiful sailing.”

“Someone wrote a book about that,” said Level.  “Years ago I heard him on public radio, I think.  Why people don’t use front porches or put them on houses anymore. So someone’s already done your subject.”

“Yeah,” I said, not letting Level go on.  “That was our thinking. Why don’t people use porches?”

“Television?” suggested Becky.

“Well, anyway,” I continued, ignoring Becky’s oversimplified insight to my rhetorical question,  “now it’s taken on this sort of symbolic metaphorical direction.”

“Fun,” said Sensible Dave.  “We’ll be in it.”  It wasn’t a question. “And other people, my aliens, and Becky’s ghosts,  and lot’s of other stuff.”

“Then it should be pretty interesting,” said Marlowe.

The ghosts of my Porch.  A rare empty moment.

Ghosts of The Porch and Makita’s frisbee. A rare empty moment.

“Yes, the world is an illusion.  But Truth is always being shown there.”  (Quoted from “The Dermis Probe”, by Indries Shaw)

Death twitches my ear. “Live,” he says, “I am coming.” ~Virgil

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Welcome to The Porch, page 1, the Introduction. It starts with some seemingly incongruous lines from a short novel by Joseph Conrad:

“The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest.  The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down the river, the only thing for it was to come to and wait for the turn of the tide.

The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway….”

London, England, is the Thames river.  New London, Connecticut, is also on the Thames river, though pronounced the American way.  This view of the New London Thames flowing into Long Island Sound was taken a block from my porch.

London, England, is on the Thames river. New London, Connecticut, is also on a Thames river, though pronounced the American way. This view of the New London Thames flowing into Long Island Sound was taken a block from my porch.

Isn’t that purty?  If that doesn’t put you in the mood to sit back on a porch, shut-up, and listen to a good story, nothing will. And in “Heart of Darkness”, that’s just what the men reclining on the Nellie did. But more from Marlow and Heart of Darkness in another chapter.

What’s this got to do with porches?  Hey, the deck of a yawl is just another reality for a porch!  (According to Wikepedia a yawl is a two masted sailing craft with an additional mizzenmast located well aft of the main mast.  See, most of us have learned something already!)

So this is the beginning of what could be called, or might even become, “The Porch Dialogues”.   As you are a neighbor,  you are welcome to sit on the Porch with the other neighbors, and listen in.

Start with the I am on The Porch page.  Then follow the dialogues as they come — hopefully often.

A little more from “Heart of Darkness” follows:

“Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea (non-Conrad insert follows: “or the bond of the neighborhood or life or humanity or…”). Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other’s yarns — and even convictions…

The view from Grandpa's porch.

The view from Grandpa’s porch.

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