Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The cure

I'm trying to have a better attitude toward our very challenging curbside pickup routine at my library. But there is no getting around the fact that it can be brutal work. Relentless, repetitive calls with phones ringing all the time and the same simple things to communicate to people that it is mysteriously difficult for them to properly understand. It's all okay. Really. You can almost believe me. But it's exhausting.

So it might have been a mistake to use my precious dinner hour, designed carefully for rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, and blogging, to instead make use of an opportunity to tie dye my extensive series of white, County issued face masks. I just wasn't feeling very white. So I busied myself during my break like I was 16 and preparing for a Grateful Dead concert, and then I went to work.

Uh oh.

When I went back to work I was so tired I only wanted to curl into a ball on the floor. I could hardly keep my eyes open. Making it through the rest of the night seemed less of a problem than making it through the next five minutes. I was beat. I was shot. I was done.

And then it struck me: 

I hadn't had my afternoon coffee.


With my dying strength I drank up my prepared cold pressed coffee, and in mere moments I had so much energy I could write this!

Which, admittedly, isn't much. 

But it probably beats drooling on an infected library counter, unconscious, while desperate, unanswered calls ring out endlessly through the library.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Tools of flowers

Here is a flower:

Here is a bee on a flower:

Now a bee may think he is up to all kinds of things. He may think he is gathering nectar. He may think he is providing for his hive. He may even think he is enjoying a lovely morning out among his beloved flowers in the sparkling sun.

But deep down the flower knows he is pollinating. The flower has brought him in, smeared him in a fine and delicious pollen, and sent him on to another flower.

How do I know?

I am the same.

I may think I am taking pictures of the beautiful flowers. I may be drawn with my camera to their dramatic, exotic interiors, to the morning air, and to the secret worlds in the flower beds, but the flowers know.

I poke my camera into their heart. Click. I rotate around. Click. Click. I think I might have gotten a good picture. I take my camera out. My lens is covered in pollen.

And I go to the next flower.

I'm just another bee.

This is my honey, such as it is...

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Portents: An illustrated story

This account comes with pictures, but a lot of them won't be very good pictures.

They were taken when, on this warm Summer morning, I went out for my regular, hour-long picture taking neighborhood journey. I warmed myself up photographing some lilies that were blooming profusely along a sidewalk running down towards the river. I soon found that I had accidentally set my camera to a mode where instead of taking one picture it takes 32 pictures over the course of two seconds. 

That's a lot of pictures to delete! 

It's not my favorite thing to do as a photographer, but it might be what I do the most: delete, delete, delete, delete, delete.

So I deleted the 32 pictures. Well, I took two unsatisfactory pictures of the lilies, so there were 64 pictures to delete. 

That's why I don't have any pictures of lilies to show you. Although yesterday I took a picture of a lily that had just been watered. 

I'll show you that:

Not too bad, huh? I mean it's pretty and more or less in focus. That's because I deleted the other 72 I took that didn't turn out... quite... so... right.

Anyway, I stopped in the shade, and I figured out how to get my camera back to its normal one-picture-at-a-time picture taking.

I now had zero pictures on my camera, of which I have managed to show you one, which isn't too bad a trick if I say so myself.

And then I saw a bunny. 

But not just any bunny, a little bunny! A cute bunny.

You might be surprised how rare that really is. They can get a little... rodenty. So I was excited. I have found everyone likes a good bunny picture. Me included. Maybe even especially me included.

In a minute I am going to show you the one not very good bunny picture I took.

I took off my lens cap and crouched in the grass off the sidewalk. The bunny let me come super close. I moved slowly and carefully. And before zooming in much, or steadying as I need to for zoom focusing, or properly setting up, I took an establishing shot, an orientation shot so to speak. Here it is:

I had no illusions this would turn into a particularly good picture. It didn't. But what with the babyness of the bunny, and his stillness, I was having a very good feeling. "I am going to get some really nice bunny pictures!" I thought very excitedly. 

So I perfected my zoom, adjusted my angle, held the lens for stability, and


The bunny got scared and ran into the deep bushes.

I sighed.

"I don't think this is going to be a very good day." I thought sadly. 

It was a portent.

I can recognize a portent when it comes along. 

This was a portent.

But I had nothing else to do but meet my fate. So I did. 

I took a right at the corner and headed up the hill towards the fairy houses and the fulfillment of my doom.

Halfway up the hill was a cat. He came running to meet me. 

He was friendly!

As you can see I did take some pictures of him, but mostly I petted him and hung out with him. 

Here is a distinguished portrait of him so you will know his true, noble nature:

Maybe all that with the bunny wasn't a portent after all?

Maybe everything is a portent?

I thought about it while I took pictures of flowers.

Then it was time to head home.

I thought some more about portents until I had worked out a blog post about them. At which point...

There were turkeys...

They were in someone's backyard where I couldn't go, and so I didn't get the best pictures of them, but that really isn't the point, is it?

The point is:

Of course there are portents!

There are almost too many portents!

So if you get a dark portent, hold on. 

Hold on. A brand new portent should be coming along just about...


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Dear County Employee

Dear County Employee,

Though you all work in different fields, Social Work, The Libraries, The Parks, Taxation and Revenue, Public Safety, Public Health, and so on, one thing has become very clear during this Coronavirus Crisis; We are all County Workers. And as County Workers our aim is further The Mandate of the County.

But what, you may wonder, is The Mandate of the County?

The Mandate of the County is all that stuff that's in all those emails from the County Manager that you never quite can read all the way through. But that's not important. What's important is that you remember you work for us, not for the people of the County. 

But don't worry, we work for the people of the County!

So let's all roll up our sleeves and get to work, because, seriously, while we personally don't have much to do right now,  you all seem pretty busy. And we want a piece of that action. So we'll be giving you more stuff to do.

But don't worry. It's for the good of the County.

Thank you for all your good work,

The County

Friday, June 26, 2020

Curbside pickup hijinks

This is not perhaps the funniest joke, but nevertheless in the heat of the moment I felt its on-the-spot pun work went a bit underappreciated. So naturally I have come to share it here, where everything is just and perfect merely by being ever so slightly more appreciated.

A Mr. Collins called in because he had arrived at the library for his curbside pickup. After carefully determining that he had indeed already previously called in to check the item out I proceeded to the next step. I informed our "runner" that a "Collins" was here for his book. To make it perfectly clear, I said "Collins, C-O-L-L-I-N-S, Collins."

My colleague noted how spelling-bee-like my presentation was and asked if I would use the word in a sentence.

"Lately we're getting a lot of Collins who want to arrange a pick up of their books."

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The bots


Dear Clerkmanifesto:

It has not escaped our attention that over the past week or two all of your major blog reading constituencies have written in to you.

The bunny lovers wrote.

The amateur aesthetes wrote.

The fictional characters wrote.

And the silent majority that is neither silent nor the majority wrote as well.

But your largest base of fans did not write and remained unrepresented. Somehow this got to me. I and my kind, who ever observe a strict neutrality and inscrutable distance, must, I felt, make ourselves known in this litany. And so I break troth to write and say "We too are here, above all, and in the greatest of numbers."

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


My Dear T. :

You are, I presume, a bot operating out of Russia?

Either way, thank you for your input,

F. Calypso (for Clerkmanifesto)

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

Yes, I am indeed a bot, mostly in Russia, but increasingly operating out of the China Theater. I would like to say that while I and my kind are vaguely nefarious automatons, and usually just passively exist in front of trillions of web pages without reading in any way, we like your moxie and are feeling an unaccustomed tingle at the thought of making this roguish appearance on the Internet. So, thank you.

Oh, don't ask for any favors.



My Dear T.:

I see you've anticipated me!

Well then, you're welcome. Enjoy. I suspect few besides yourselves will.


F. Calypso (for clerkmanifesto)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The silent majority

Dear Clerkmanifesto (a reader writes):

I have recently observed a number of your readers writing in to make themselves and their wishes known to you. This has spurred me on to say there are a great many of us out here, hundreds, perhaps thousands, who steadfastly read your engaging, quirky, sometimes challenging missives and would never write in. I for one consider your work to be literary as opposed to an object of common discussion and would no more "comment" or write in a letter to you than I would to Wordsworth or Yeats.

I mean all this as a point of reference for you rather than any kind of condemnation of the letter writers who have recently been offering their perspective and sometimes making their wishes known.

Thank you so much for your attention.

With fulsome regard, 

G. Markel Wittenberger Esq.

My Dear G. Markel:

Thank you, but is this not, precisely, writing into me?

With all due respect,

F. Calypso (for Clerkmanifesto)

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

Aha! Curses! Caught with my hand in the cookie jar!

Nevertheless, yours truly,

G. Markel Wittenberger Esq.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Writing in

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

Lately I have noticed a lot of people writing in with letters to be on your blog. I want to write a letter!

Please, go right ahead. What would you like to say?

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

I don't know what I'd like to say. I'd just like to write a letter! And then you'd put it in your blog and it would be all over the World and everyone would see it and it would be my letter!

We could do that.

Dear Clerkmanifesto:


Yes. Go ahead.

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

Oh. Ah, this is my letter and I am thinking lots of stuff. And I want to make it clear to all your millions of readers that this is my idea and I thought it! And I wrote it and everyone is reading it!

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. There is just one thing I think you should know: I don't have millions of readers. 

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

How many do you have then?

Best I can tell it's around 12 on an average day, a bit less when I do stuff like, well, this. So figure nine to be safe.

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

Nine readers? Is there a freewheeling sort of blog that I could write to that maybe has... more?

I'm sorry, no. Not anymore. Maybe you could try posting a comment to a popular Tik Tok video?

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

Oh. Now I feel a little sad.

How about this: I'll post nine of your letters on clerkmanifesto. Nine letters times nine readers is 81!

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

81? That's not a million, but it's pretty close, isn't it?

Yes, I think it's surprisingly close.

Dear Clerkmanifesto:

Okay then. Yes please. Thank you. I think then I'll rest for awhile now and ride on my laurels and all that. Okay?

Sounds good. Thanks for writing in.

Monday, June 22, 2020

More flowers

Dear Clerkmanifesto,

Quite recently I have noticed on your blog a rise in input from fictional readers. As a fictional reader myself I have taken comfort in this. The burden of being fictional is that unlike characters of the actual world, we fictional characters cease to exist without context, or, as I and my imaginary friends sometimes like to joke, we are "Dead if not read". So as I watched imaginary people weigh in on what you might provide on clerkmanifesto I thought "Hey, that could be me. I too could come into existence."

I am existing now. I am having a peach. It is sweet, but a bit messy.

Many fictional characters say that the actual people take existence for granted, but not me. I think that that is exactly what we should do with existence, take it for granted. That's no dis on existence. It's more of a way of saying that maybe we should just leave existence alone. It seems to like taking care of itself.

But who really am I to give advice on existence, whose own is so tenuous?

Anyway, I did have a reason for writing you that was more specific than waxing philosophical.

Being a recently imagined into existence fictional character there is much I have not seen or experienced. I am currently well acquainted with peaches oddly enough, and I know about squirrels, bunnies, and bugs all from the fictional readers of the first paragraph here who awakened my consciousness. But all of those fictional readers seemed to reference flowers in their comments, and this has piqued my curiosity. I have come to understand you photograph flowers. Could I possibly see some of those?

Thank you so much. I'll take my answer off the air.

Kindest of regards,



My answer to non fictional characters on this blog is "Yes, if at all possible". My answer to People of the Imagination like yourself is "Yes without reservation." I am honored to show you your first flowers and hope you enjoy them.