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Cold Iron consists of random bits of irreverence, surliness, and contumely; sometimes it's even funny. Reading it is entirely optional.

...the iron monger and rusticater himself


Cool Iron
(archive)

On the air in Chicago

"Never hit someone over the head with a hot iron. Wait until it cools so you don't burn them."

...the source of my ideas



Iron Filings – 48

So here’s what we get as one of our first social directives from the Trump administration. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security have now issued guidelines (see Ready.gov) over what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. It’s déjà vu all over again for those of us who remember being told to get under our school desks, only now the directive is “Don’t Run. Get inside.” Really? Is that an actual safety tip or just a way for the government to control how it wants its populace cooked?

* * *

I recently received, as has happened before, one of those “Summons for Jury Duty.” Unlike previous times, however, I was actually required to report to the courthouse (along with about sixty others) for jury selection. Not only that, but I – like most people, hoping I’d be passed over and could simply go home – was actually selected to be one of twelve jurors for a civil case. It was an interesting experience. Other than those immediately involved; i.e., judge, jurors, lawyers, plaintiff, defendant, defendant’s mother, the courtroom was empty. Late on the second day the case was given to the jury with the iron monger himself being elected foreman (actually, the court calls it foreperson but I’m not quite generic enough to refer to myself that way). For as much as this was a low-key case that was never going to wander up to the Supreme Court, I was amazed at how seriously we all took our deliberations. Low-key or not, we knew our decision was going to have a major impact on several lives and that was the context within which we chewed over all manner of evidence and data.

* * *

Things Nobody Has To Worry About - Split pea soup is a tasty soup, but I’ve always wondered just how it is that they split those peas.

* * *

What most people don’t realize is that much of the divisiveness in this country right now comes from two ideological poles: Karl Marx and Ayn Rand. Marx, with his emphasis on the betterment of the worker, energizes the left, while Rand, with her emphasis on the superior individual, energizes the right. While perversions – both historical and current – of both of these doctrines have taken place, the main conflict lies in somehow viewing the betterment of society as being inconsistent with the betterment of the individual. Thus, liberals scream that the right is trampling on the needs of the many, while the right screams that liberals want to squelch individual growth and initiative. This is a toughie. Marx, of course (like him or not), was much the more rigorous thinker, while Rand is usually regarded as a third-rate philosopher (and grindingly boring fiction writer – her mode of expressing her views) at best. So it goes.

* * *

I hope the above didn’t hurt too much.

* * *

I recently learned that my grandson is going to be detasseling corn this summer – his first “real” job. Detasseling is something of a rite of passage for a lot of Midwestern kids. It involves going out into the fields and pulling the tassels from certain rows of corn, thus ensuring the proper pollination of hybrid brands of corn (that’s all you need to know for now). It’s hot, dirty, dusty work. Early in our teens my best friend and I began our stint on a walking crew where you walked down the rows of corn and reached up to pull the tassels. The experience was so ghastly we walked out to a highway at around noon and hitchhiked home. The next year, however, I lasted the full six weeks or so because I was on a machine crew. This was a rack of little platforms you stood on. They were mounted on a tractor that moved down the rows and allowed you to reach down to pull tassels instead of reaching up – much easier. Plus, you weren’t walking all day long. Truly, it was a good experience. The first year taught me a lot about quitting and shame. The second year taught me a lot about how hard work can actually bring you money. We made $1.25 an hour. I wish him well.

* * *

Sometimes I wonder, when I make a comment about the President, if he’ll still be president by the time Cold Iron is posted. Kind of an amazing time to be alive.

* * *

Summer of the tree – So we took down the big silver maple in the back yard because it was old and rotting and beginning to pose a threat both to our house and a neighbor’s house. Then we planted two trees to bring some character back to the yard. Done. Done? Not quite. Next we had a night of nasty thunderstorms and high winds – strong enough to damage a maple in our front yard badly enough that it had to come down. What we didn’t notice, but the arborist did, was that the maple in our parkway next to the street had taken enough wind thrust that it was starting to “bend” out of its roots on the ground. So that one had to come down. Two more trees have been planted to restore our woodsy atmosphere – in about ten years. By the way, if you haven’t run into this before, homeowner’s insurance covers your house, not your trees. What the hell – it’s only money.

* * *

G. K. Wuori © 2017
Photoillustration by the author





Selected Works

Novel
I think this book would appeal to anyone who likes a dark crime story set in a rural, somewhat remote part of Maine in a time when the radicalism of the nineteen-seventies was sweeping the country.
Ellen DeLay, an upstanding citizen of Quillifarkeag, Maine, suddenly and unpredictably leaves her happy, twenty-five year marriage for a lonely cabin deep in the Maine woods, where she makes a living dressing hunters' kill - bears, moose, deer. It seems an idyllic life, punctuated only now and then by rifle fire as she shoots into the air to scare off cheeky teens who come to taunt "the crazy woman."
Novella
A small-town lawyer in the middle of a gruesome murder case finds salvation in the world of a homeless woman and her daughter.
A young woman's morning walk through her small town finds her immersed in a small tragedy, an indifferent government, and the "science gone mad" of her best friend's husband. Quirky, goofy, nutty - yes, but a gentle look as well at some of the values that keep us from falling off the planet
Essay
A hint of generally true autobiography, this piece is part of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill's "How I Became A Writer" series.
Stories
Quillifarkeag is a state of mind, one marked by innocence and regret, by guile and sympathy. The people there will let you into their lives - but not very far. Go too far inside and things start to echo, people get close. Honesty becomes negotiable. Bare all and someone might still say, "Were you naked or nude?" It's an important distinction. In a small place like Quilli the naked truth is hurtful. The nude truth is not so bad.

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