Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Iraq War: 10 Years Later -- The Real Story

Early in the morning, Kazem was awakened by horrified screams. He ran to the next room where is wife Shatha cowered in the corner. “Look” she demanded. Kazem turned his eyes in the direction of his wife’s extended finger. “There” she pointed again, “Do something”.

Kazem’s eyes then locked on the opposite corner of the small room where Shatha prepared food for the family. In the corner, frantically darting this way and that, was an equally horrified and very small rodent. “Do something” Shatha repeated, with a heightened tenor of urgency in her voice. Kazem grabbed a broom from near the table, and lunged toward the miniature beast – which abruptly turned to the far wall, and scurried through a barely discernable crack in its base.

“Kazem – Do something” Shatha demanded.

Kazem hurried down the street, past one of the towering statues of Saddam, into the neighborhood market place. Making his way through close aisles of merchandise, he went right to the stall of Mogtada, his friend, who sold whatever he could find at a cheap price. Kazem recapped for Mogtada his encounter with the small rodent, and stressed that any level of domestic tranquility in his household depended on his doing something with it. “It is only a mouse” advised Mogtada, “They are everywhere here in Baghdad.”

“What can I do about this mouse?”

“You need a mouse trap.

“OK, sell me such a mouse trap!”

“I wish that I could sell you a mouse trap” Mogtada responded, “But with these United Nations sanctions, Iraq cannot import food and medicines, let alone mouse traps” he elaborated.

Kazem’s mind began to race. He was a very enterprising person, always sensitive to opportunity. “Why don’t we make these mouse traps, and sell them all over Baghdad” he blurted out excitedly. I will be able to do something at home, and we can make a better Baghdad, perhaps even a better Iraq.”

Kazem and Mogtada, anxious to get started on their new venture, rushed to the home of Abu, an influential person in the local Ba’ath Party in Baghdad. They stressed to Abu the importance of ridding communities all over Iraq of these rodent threats. They urged Abu to help them secure the resources needed to design and produce some sort of device for mouse eradication.

Abu was also an astute man with a quick mind for opportunity. He suggested that, for a small percentage of future profits from the venture, he would secure funds from government resources. “Even with UN sanctions, there is plenty for Saddam’s friends” he winked.

The next day, Abu visited the Ministry of Security. His friend, Hamza, was assistant to Assistant Minister of Baghdad Security. Abu outlined for Hamza the strategy for producing devices for mouse eradication. Hamza, quite astute himself, allowed that, for a small percentage of future profits, he would get support from Saddam’s inner circle. “Being well connected in the Ba’ath Party, I will simply send an email message to a very influential person,” Hamza declared.

Hamza sat right down at his computer, one of the very few allowed in Baghdad. He addressed his note to Uday. In the email, he emphasized the critical importance of a program to produce weapons of mouse eradication in order to circumvent the UN sanctions.

In his office in London, Michael sat, bleary eyed from hours of staring at reams of email traffic. Abruptly, his eyes focused tight on the words “In order to circumvent UN sanctions, Iraq’s program to produce weapons of mouse destruction will have the highest priority.” Michael bolted from his chair, and ran into the office of John, Assistant Director of Intelligence at MI6.

John called Clive.

Clive called Reginald.

Dubb'ya in clay by Forrest
And Reginald called Tony.

Tony picked up the red phone, and called Condi. “We are getting a bit of chatter about Iraq’s program to produce weapons of mouse destruction to circumvent the UN sanctions, he said.

“Weapons of mouse destruction?” Condi repeated

Condi Called Donald, “British intelligence has some scuttlebutt about Iraq using weapons of mouse
destruction against the UN.”

Donald dropped the phone, and strode into Dubb’ya’s office, “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mouse destruction, and he plans to use them against the United Nations building in New York City.”

Dubb’ya just stared back “WMD?”

A few weeks later, Kazem looked up in shock and awe, as bombs rained down on his little home in Baghdad. Kazem, Shatha, their four children, and several very small rodents were killed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Organic Forrestry at Chatham Marketplace

Biologist turned artist Forrest C. Greenslade, PhD ( will exhibit a selection of paintings depicting local  scenes in the CafĂ© at the Chatham Marketplace ( during the month of April. There will be a meet the artist wine and cheese reception on Saturday April  13 from 1 to 3.

Bynum Bridge, a relief painting in modeling paste and tarnished metals
"I was that kid you could always find turning over rocks in streams, looking for what wonders nature would disclose to me," says Greenslade. His curiosity about the natural world, led him to a life as scientist and organizational executive. Now in retirement, Dr. Greenslade is again doing what he did when he was ten years old -- turning over rocks and sculpting and painting the wonders that nature discloses.

"I lived a serious life, but now in my dotage, I am just letting the kid out again, " Greenslade smiles."It's more fun than an old guy deserves."

Greenslade’s latest book, Visitations: A Nature-Lover’s Journal ( will on view at the reception.

April 13th is also the opening day for the Marketplace Farmers Market.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Shetland Reverie

Shetland Reverie by Forrest C. Greenslade, PhD 
About a month ago, Carol-Ann and I adopted a Sheltie named Stanley from Triangle Sheltie Rescue. He has stolen our hearts and those of neighbors and many, many folks in Fearrington Village. Stanley is a very good model, and has inspired me to do several paintings of him.

In "Shetland Reverie", I imagine Stanley recalling the ancestral home in the Shetland Islands of this wonderful breed. This is a 16x20 painting using watercolor and colored pencil.