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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

"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 - 51

September 1, 2017

Iron Filings 51
I would like to invite all those interested to join a new International Society that I am starting at this very moment. There are no membership dues, no meetings, no funny outfits. We will be doing community service of a particular sort, which is (this is our membership pledge): Whenever someone says Thank you to me I will not thank them in return, nor will I say No problem. I will say, Youre welcome.
* * *
Note From A Citizen Concerned About A Whole Lot (me) There are those of us who lived through the Cold War, who saw missile silos built in the Dakotas and Nike missile installations built near Chicago and many other cities, whose freshman year in college found us gathered around televisions in the Student Center wondering and fearful over whether or not the Cuban crisis would unleash ICBMs throughout the world, and who are now wondering whats going to happen with the crackpot in North Korea, Kim Jong Un the young lion who now has ICBMs capable of hitting the United States, and who, currently, says hes planning on attacking the U.S. protectorate in the South Pacific, Guam.
I learned a lot about Guam in the sixties. We moved into my Uncle Jacks house in DeKalb when he accepted a job as principal of George Washington High School in Agaa, Guam. He took his brand new Chevrolet Impala with him and then lamented that the salty sea air was not kind to his new car. When he returned to the States after five years and sought another job in education, he found that his experience in Guam was somehow credentially speaking not recognized by California education officials. Thus, he had to begin as a substitute teacher.
Uncle Jack was an interesting character. When I began writing I was intrigued to learn that his wife, Kitty, was a cousin of one of my favorite writers, Ray Bradbury. I often hoped that that family connection would allow me to meet him one day but that never happened.
Uncle Jack was a musician by trade and training, and also a concert pianist. For many years, before Guam, he worked at the Illinois State Training School for Boys near St. Charles. Most significantly (for me) he started a drum and bugle corps at the school. A high point of every year here in DeKalb was the Northern Illinois University Homecoming parade, one of the truly classy features of which was the ISTSB Drum and Bugle Corps performing and maneuvering with my uncle marching alongside. With a little shuffling of my own Id get to the front of the crowd when I saw them coming and hed give me a big smile. I used to wonder if he was just happy to see me or if he was happy that I (a drummer, too) wasnt a part of his corps.
So we connect with strange places in strange ways at strange times. Uncle Jack died a long time ago lung cancer, his Pall Malls ever-present in a steel cigarette case. Were he alive today he would, of course, be worried about Guam. Hed made a lot of friends there that he kept in touch with over the years so the idea of the King of the Hermit Kingdom using that island for geopolitical leverage would have been horrifying.
* * *
Landscape Woes Update Our four new trees are healthy and beautiful, and the new front lawn has come up lush and vigorous, some crabgrass rearing its ugly spread but thats a manageable pluck. I will not, however, talk about our water bill.
* * *
Gayle and I we graduated in the same high school class have a class reunion coming up this month. Its amazing how, as the class ages (and, alas, keeps growing smaller), these reunions become much more gentle affairs. For the most part, were all just happy to see whomever shows up, congratulatory toward those who remain relatively fit and healthy, and more than willing to listen to the litany of ailments of those who feel the need to so recite. Achievements, wealth, position, status those just dont mean all that much anymore. Maybe they never did.
* * *
Like most people, I have been puzzled by the tragic collisions of two U.S. warships with freighters in the last two months. I mean, these are billion dollar boats presumably equipped with enough technology to spot a fly in a hurricane, yet in the middle of the night they cant spot the running lights of a giant tanker bearing down on them let alone noticing suspicious, and large, radar blips coming way too close, or little widgets on a G.P.S.? Maybe its time to bring back the crows nest and keep a sailor high on a mast looking out for things.
* * *
Why do we have to spend so much time wondering what our president is going to do next?
* * *
G.K.Wuori 2017
Photoillustration by the author

Selected Works

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."
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
A hint of generally true autobiography, this piece is part of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill's "How I Became A Writer" series.
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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