The Last Apricot

In the back garden is a large old apricot tree.  In my first winter in this house, the tree had no leaves and looked at though it died years ago, never to revive.  Spring arrives and this tree first surprises me with a thick cover of new leafs.  Then a few weeks later, I am again surprised and also delighted that this now green tree has become littered with yellow looking fruit.  Not being an expert on plants, I wondered for a few more weeks what sort of fruit this tree was now abundantly producing.  As some of these fruits turned orange in colour, I picked one and discovered what experts had been telling me; this is an apricot tree.

last-apricotThe only other apricots I had even eating came in a packet and were flat and dried specimens, entirely different to this tree’s produce.  The worry for me was that the many birds flying around the yard had began to sing happier knowing what was soon to be eaten.

This first fruit though, was very tart, with the slightest hint of a possible future rapture.  So I picked a few and let them sit on a shelf in the kitchen for a few days in the hope that they would ripen up.  Some went bad in the mean time and some I eat.  Regardless, after a couple of weeks more, I need not have bothered, as the tree now was full of ripe and sweet eating apricots.  Too many in fact for me, so I gave bags of them away to my neighbors and anyone else I came across.  Half the apricots fell on the ground and this seemed to mostly keep the birds happy.  The issue now before me was not to eat too many delicious mouth watering apricots in a day, as I suspected these apricots would not keep blooming.

Sure enough, two weeks later and there were no more apricots on the tree and I was a little sad.  But the tree seemed to say to me, don’t be sad, I will be back in a year and you will know me better next time.

© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.

Instant Magic

Instant magic, how rare that is these days, or any day for that matter.

While I waited to actually met her in person, my concerns were merely limited to her having worked in the same public service job for 24 years.  What would that do to anyone’s thinking.  She arrived at the coffee shop perfectly at her appointed time. Even two minutes early, and I was impressed.

We sat facing each other.  She wore a black skirt down to her knees which tended to slide up as she talked, and when I was not looking, she would quickly pull it back down.  She had black stockings and high black leather boots, with a moderate heal.  She wore middle size round img_0888-websilver coloured disc ear rings.  She had shortish hair, but when she smiled, which was often, the whole place lit up.

Our eyes meet and stayed there.  Very unusual.  Though unspoken, our hearts recognised each other at once.  We talked about serious things while our hearts were happy.  We both knew there were two conversations happening at once, the formal spoken one we could not think of how to stop, and the other silly silent conversation that was laughing loudly inside. Continue reading

© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.

The Burton Question

In some parts round here where I live, questions that are out of the box are known as a “Burton Question”.

I was reminded of this fact when I recently ventured up the street to the local pie shop in my lunch half hour.  This particular pie shop had been recommended to me some time ago by img_4301-weba reliable source.  Best pies in town.  OK, but the side street this small shop was in was out of the way; standing alone up a slight hill and in a side street.  They must therefore make wonderful pies to still be in business.  That was my thinking as I hurried up the hill and as a consequence I suspect, feeling more and more like eating a pie or two.

There was no obvious sign on the shop, but it was easy for me to find as it was the only shop thereabouts.  Confirming my guess work, there were several pies in the shops window.  The doorway was a screen and also easily opened.  When I walked into the shop there was no one around and all I could see were lovely pies on display all over the place.  A lovely shop.  There were plenty to choose from.  Across behind the counter was a pastry work bench with neat rows of pies in the progress of being made.  Thinking again, I figured there must be someone back soon with so many part pies waiting to be finished.  I waited. Continue reading

© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.

Todays Random Word

Opening the dictionary randomly, the word “Gnome” pops out and like many English words, gnome-08the thing has several meanings.  The most recent official meaning comes from France, about 300 years ago.  This French meaning is probably known to young people these days.  This French meaning is those funny little people who live inside the planet to guard the Earth’s treasure.  Not me though.  I thought gnomes were those colourful little statues of Irish folklore embedded in some people’s front gardens here a-bouts.  Alas, these happy little statues are not apparently proper enough to be included in the Oxford English Dictionary.  I suspect even fewer would know, a gnome can signify certain types of American birds.  Surprisingly, this meaning was included in the dictionary.  What types of birds, I am not sure; Indigenous America birds perhaps.

The older meaning comes from Greece dating back 400 years or so, meaning a maxim, a proverb, a saying, a thought or a general truism.  The dictionary also lists a gnome as meaning an aphorism, which requires me to also look that word up, finding yet another word to mean, a maxim or a concise pithy statement of a principle.  From a logical computer science point of view, having more than one meaning for a word is bad enough, but having two different words mean the same, that is completely reckless.  Perhaps though, this older Greek definition of the word “Gnome”, exemplifies a gnome of an idea that the more recent usage of a word, replaces or at least obfuscates the original meanings.  The old simply fade away in time and are redefined as needed by the young who inevitably inherit the earth with the passing of the old.

Examples of gnomes ( Greek meaning ) could be say, “Tis better to have loved and lost, than to have only lost” or another example would be “if it ant broken, don’t fix it”.   An older example from legal history is “those that seek equity ( or fairness ) must also do equity”, whatever that means.  Perhaps this means this other gnome that says that “those coming to seek equity from the law courts must come with clean hands ”.  And pity anyone who is not perfect ( nor well off to afford a lawyer ) in the courts.  Forget all about those Buddhist Mindfulness gnomes of perfection.  This common law gnome of “clean hands” could be an example of cultural clashes of respective gnomes, though I suspect clashes could occur even within one cultural set of gnomes.

Now all these gnomes ( Greek meaning ) must have had someone invent them in the past, of course.  So anyone who writes a gnome ( though typically no one knows who they were ) are nevertheless called, despite their reluctant absences, a “Gnomist”.  Really, I kid you not !  So lets all get busy and become a gnomist before the next census.

© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.

The Spelling Test

For my 6 long depressing high school years that I thought would never end, the so called “best years of my then miserable life”, each week commenced with a spelling test of 20 words, assigned by the authorities the previous Friday.   This tended to ruin my Sundays evenings as I would be desperately trying to remember how to spell each of them, with varying degrees of failure.  Anyone mis-spelling a word in the test had to stay behind and write out the word one hundred times.  For me, I rarely spelt them all correctly and often many were mis-spelt, resulting in tedious and painful writing after the test, while the others left to play outside, laughing back at me with my head down trying not to notice their humiliating gestures.

I usually had no idea what these words meant, having never seen them before.  So my method was to remember the letters in each word.  For twenty words with an average of 10 letters for each word, this amounted to having to learn 200 letters.  This was not the problem though, as I had a good memory even though this had not at all dawned on me back then.  The hideous problem for me was that I also had to remember the orders of each of these 200 letters.  What I also did not know back then was that I was somewhat dyslectic.  So I became resigned to having to write out great long lists of each word after the class test.  Looking back, seems to me I would have been better off not even bothering Sunday afternoon with my attempts to remember 200 letters, though perhaps this was good for memory building, even if completely useless for me in remembering how to spell 20 random words.

Thinking about all that now, why I hated english with such a silent passion, perhaps I could learn to spell a few words now, having long survived high school.  After all, there are not really that many words in the English language, not compared to say, the number of variables in a computerized general ledger internet banking program.  To start my new method, never being too old to learn, I decided to find a random word and first learn its meaning.

Opening the oxford dictionary in the middle, the word I first see is “Countenance”.  I read up its meaning and learn that this word, like many English words, has many different meanings, some more different than others.   I learnt for example that the word could mean someone is pretending.  The word could also mean someone is giving support.  Obviously, this particular word is going to take some more research to master.  50,000 more words to go and I have made a start.  I feel I am already making some more progress, at the least, more than my agonising weekly attempts at high school.  I don’t remember any of those words from those lists of 20 words and I already know dame well I will always remember the word “Countenance” for the rest of my life.  Such countenance I now possess.

© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.


Thursday before the eyes open the rain is talking.  Makes a smile to know that even a Thursday can be comforting with the type of rain that is apparently insisting on going all day, a help perhaps, if only one would believe. So you, who helps with the rain, there are a few questions for you.  But oh such a noise in the traffic, nothing much is heard and back to the start we must go.  Slower this time round and round we all seemingly go as that is the way we have always gone round here, making not a single difference, but thinking and saying so as if that makes it all worthwhile and right.  Thankfully, the rain helps.

As the eyes flip open comes the realization of happiness yet again and the continued puzzlement of not knowing why.  Why so happy, even on a Thursday, the most hated day of any week.  Here it is, the rain that will be needed to be talked about if venturing out.  Despite the grass glowing and the leaves on the trees shinning.  This is not a brown dreary day for talking about the weather.  Better to embrace our own loving warm arms, snug at home and avoid those compulsory repetitive conversations on such a day.  But not on Wednesday, easily the best day of the week.  That is the best day to strike out into town, no matter what the weather and its needed conversation.  Yet few are there too.  Why is that, that few venture out, even on a good day, such as a Wednesday ?  That would be the second question.


© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.

Quamtum Encounter

pic-braid-loopQuantum Braid Loop

Lately I have been hearing from many that they are into “Quantum Physics”.  Seems like this has become rather popular, to be interested in such metaphysical stuff.  Hype maybe, but what does it mean.  Having long forgotten pretty much all the Physics I ever learnt at school or Uni,  “Oh” is all I could think of to reply.  This got me to thinking. Continue reading

© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.

Everything or nothing much.

Someone long ago said to me, often repeated as a way of reprimand or criticism, “you get out of life what you put into it”.  These days this saying seems to me to have been downgraded even further to mean things like “we make a difference”.  Really ?  When perhaps all we are hoping is to  merely make it through the day and be left alone.  A few however, like the Lady Chatterley character, actually step outside their normal abode sometimes, into the garden.

But why so few.  Could it be that courage or even desperation, must be needed by these few to leap into the yet unknown.  Surely this is not mere genetics or fate.  Commonly I hear of the feeling of safely in the known, no matter how sad the familiar is.  A passable justification for being “the way we always are”.  Perhaps the idea has never occurred that any future we choose, can be different from our past, one step at a time.  Sad, if the idea of being truly blissfully happy can only be a dream; a movie.  As Martin Luther King Jr famously declared, “I have a dream” and that surely is a good start.  Especially if we truly seek out ways to materialise in a real way that dream with our deeds and not merely in our often useless wishing words.  Could starting with our desire for our dream to materialise against the real and often resisting world we find ourselves engaged in everyday; being no longer content to pretend that the whole world is a happy place.  What an effort that is, to pretend, to experience the world as nothing.

So who I ask, has the courage to step out and show up saying, “I will do anything” and follow through.  Or even words like, “I am truly open and will do anything that works for the better of the world or whatever”, including I hasten to add, for each of us.  Such rare people have actually existed in human history, especially in these dire days, obviously could do with a few more.  Alas, there are no advertisements around for such people and even if they did, the pay would likely be poverty and ridicule.

In the mean time, I suppose I better walk into town and buy myself a pie for lunch, if they have any left.  Bread alone may not be enough, as has been said every Sunday, but some money is needed to make it though the day, surely.  And in those few moments alone walking ahead ( there and back ) if it is looking like it soon may rain: an umbrella could be useful too, to take along just in case.  Useful to me at least, yes, but does that make a difference ?  Who knows and who really gives a damn.  This is what mystifies me on most days.  Nevertheless, I usually wake up happy in the morning and that is the other mystery of mine.  Not a complaint, simply a mystery, with no way of going back it would seem… to nothing much … just getting by.

© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.

The One Hundred Hour Rule

Or in other words: “How to marry a man”, which has long been portrayed in many popular American “self help” style books.  However, this rule or procedure, has in recent times been largely forgotten and  become obscured by modern ideas of correctness in speaking.   As a result, many relationships have been lost.  So in the interests of saving a few lives, I will be somewhat more concise and hopefully clear the air of these recent fallacies, especially the one common idea now that men and women are, generally speaking, identical in their approach to committed relationships.

Firstly, the 5 steps of the 100 hour rule are these:

  1. 1. For the first 100 hours of meeting with a prospective mate, the women in this situation must accurately and secretly log the number of hours they spend with the male.  Telephone calls and the like do not count, only actual time spent together will count, including the very first coffee and meet up and any outing, like to restaurants and the theatre.  Whether any physical intimacy occurs is irrelevant for this log.  So every outing with this male is written up in a notebook, with the start and end times and the a total time spent together ( awake ).
  2. 2. In this first 100 hours, the women agrees with everything the man says.  If the man wants to go to the movies, she agrees with his choices.  If the man wants to go to the beach, she thinks that would be great, even if she hates the sand and sun.
  3. 3. Regularly checking the notebook log of the hours spent together, as soon as the total time together has reached 100 hours, the women needs to start not always agreeing with whatever the man says.  Little at first, starting with small things and building as more time is added to her notebook log.
  4. 4. The male now will start to wonder what has happened and most likely think he needs to do something in order to get back the wonderful women he first knew.  He will try harder and harder as time goes by, especially if he is unaware of this “100 hour rule”.
  5. 5. In the end, the male will ask the women for marriage, in a final desperate act to have the women of his dreams back.

Of course, the fundamental problem with this “rule” is that the relationship typically fails after a while, regardless of the marriage vows.  Even if the marriage lasts, no one is happy there and lives are lost to despair and sadness.

Obviously, on first meeting a relationship prospect for a “coffee and meetup”, everyone is trying to make a good impression.  After all, one can only ever make one first impression and from the male’s perspective, if he likes what he sees on that first meeting, that image will stay etched in his brain for the rest of his life.  The danger for both men and women who are truly seeking a lasting and supportive relationship, the danger is waiting 100 hours to turn up and show the other what they really are.  If the woman waits the 100 hours, the man can become trapped, whether intended of otherwise.

Conversely, for a man, it is important that he shows early on, his worst aspects, otherwise the woman is going to think he has given up on her.

Hopefully, the more people of both genders become aware of the common pitfalls in dating, the happier we all will be.

© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.


As I awoke, I remembered waiting with many others for a bus going to my morning class at the University.  We had been waiting before in town, and a bus had taken us, where we now found ourself isolated, half way to our destination.  Our bus had gone out of service for some reason.  With no other buses around, we waited.  I really did not like the idea of being late for my class and made several fruitless bus time-table enquiries from my fellow travellers who seemed not concerned and even bemused by my questions.  I guess I really must like being on time, otherwise I figure why would I bother spending time making plans in the first place.

A small line of people had developed in front of a smart looking women who was handing out glossy silver coloured brochures for what I thought might be bus passes.  I joined the cue and she handed me one.  Turned out she had nothing to do with busses to University. She was telling each of us, including me, that the Sky plane service was the best in the world.  I could not resist suggesting to her that perhaps her fantastic travel service company might be interested in adding a bus, as their plane service was somewhat useless for us, without a bus.  She smiled and thanked me for the suggestion moving politely onto her next brochure recipient.

After waiting half an hour and no sign of any busses, nor any cars either for that matter, I wondered if I could hail a taxi.  Walked up to the end of the street to see what was there.  If no taxi’s where there, plan B was to find the name of the street intersection so I could tell the taxi service.  The corner seemed to be where our bus had come from, but looking round, all I could see was a large park and no roads.  Only a narrow meandering dirt walking track.  Far in the distance though, below, I could see a main freeway and many busses and cars.  Not knowing the phone number for the local taxi service, I left my heavy bag in the park and went back to where everyone was waiting so I could ask someone.  But as I turned back round the corner, I saw a bus had arrived and was quickly filling up with people.  I yelled out for the bus to wait while I ran back for my bag, but apparently no one heard me.  When I returned, I saw the back of the bus disappearing in the distance.  Everyone had gone.  However, I was not upset in the least.

For a dream about missing the bus,  perhaps this was the dream’s most surprising aspect, it wasn’t like a bad thing, perhaps just a useful reflection of the week ahead.

© 2016, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.