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Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Southern Weather Radar


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    David Evans

    David Evans
    I'm retired from another life and live in the mountains of eastern West Virginia with my muse Jody along with one little and two big dogs and a diminishing pride of two cats and other critters who come along the path from time to time. I retired one morning years ago when I woke up and said, "This is the day." It was simply time to do something new with my life. I had done whatever I did long enough, and now it was time to do something else. Being independent and no longer in the reins of someone else's driver, I believe I have found something to cherish that I never had before. Retirement may be dull and boring, but that's true only if you are dull and boring. But if you’re like I was, and am, I saw a lot of things as I went along the trail that I would have liked to linger over a lot longer if I had had the time to spare. Above all, I wanted to think about what they meant and have the chance to go back over them and figure them out. I'm not abashed to say that today I lead a life of real luxury. I also recognize that I'm a lucky boy. In the words of Katherine Anne Porter: "My life has been incredible, I don't believe a word of it." I am the author of the recently published collection of essays entitled Meeting Memory In The Dark. Earlier I self-published Words To Woo Her By And Other Distractions Along The Way; Tunes of Glory: The Slow Ticking of the Heart; Cradle My Soul: Glimpses Into Other Lives; and Unscheduled Stops: Essays on Love, Loss and Other Roadside Attractions. All are available on either Amazon or Create Space, a subsidiary of Amazon. Proceeds go to the Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary in Capon Bridge, West Virginia.
    Number of posts: 203
    Email address: email

    By David Evans:


      finding self

      Why We Build

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Nov 5, 2017
      Why We Build

      I built my first coffin as an eight-year-old in 1952, a time when dogs still trotted freely in the street in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. They had full reign of the neighborhood. Sawdust and Timber, my two young beagles, slept in my bed with me. We had to jockey for space. At that age, I didn’t mind rolling over on a wet and slimy shard of chewed bone. One summer afternoon Sawdust ran under a speeding Buick Roadmaster. Trailing a few steps behind, Timber only heard the thump.

      smiling back at you

      The One Who Got Away

      by | 6, Add your Comment | May 14, 2017
      Young David Evans in front of his home with his beagle

      I built my first coffin as an eight-year-old, a time when dogs still trotted freely in the street. Sawdust and Timber, my two young beagles, had full reign of our neighborhood. One day Sawdust ran under a speeding Buick Roadmaster. Timber trailed a few steps behind and only heard the thump. My first encounter with death came the next morning when the vet called to tell my father that Sawdust had died.

      keep moving

      There Is a Season

      by | 8, Add your Comment | Mar 10, 2017
      There Is a Season

      There Is a Season
      To everything, turn, turn, turn.
      There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
      And a time to every purpose under heaven.
      A time to be born, a time to die.

      We never thought Sophie would be our last cat standing.  Our almost eighteen-year-old aging feline, still a debutante in her own mind, has now bid us farewell…

      wouldn’t be and never was

      Gotta Get Out of This Place

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 6, 2017
      The Awakening Land

      We gotta get out of this place
      If it’s the last thing we ever do
      We gotta get out of this place
      Girl, there’s a better life for me and you
      Somewhere baby, somehow I know it

      My Aunt Dolly seldom went to the movies, but my sisters and I sat down with her in 1978 to watch the TV mini-series “The Awakening Land,” a fictionalized account of a family who moved into the Ohio wilderness toward the end of the eighteenth century …

      and a good eraser

      My Kingdom for a Pencil

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Dec 1, 2016
      My Kingdom for a Pencil

      “No one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards a lead pencil.” – Virginia Woolf

      Liam, our four-year old Australian grandson, recently sent us his first handwritten thank-you note. He used a bright orange crayon on a green card. The letters weren’t all the same size, some were backward, and his name took up most of the page. My wife Jody and I laughed, and we immediately put the note on the refrigerator door.

      teaches us all

      An Appreciation of James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son

      by | 4, Add your Comment | May 25, 2016
      Image: James Baldwin in 1958. (Photo: Mottke Weissman)

      When I was a boy growing up in the 1950s our neighborhood swimming pool was segregated.  When the first black girl was elected queen of my high school a few years after I graduated in 1962 there was a near riot.  I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, not Columbus, Georgia.

      With the Civil Rights Movement beginning to sizzle in America in the early 1960, I learned about James Baldwin for the first time.  Novelist, playwright, poet, and essayist, Baldwin helped focus my eyes on the racial and social issues that bedeviled and continue to bedevil this country…

      part three of lilian's wish

      Trying To Make Sense of It All

      by | 2, Add your Comment | May 1, 2016
      Trying To Make Sense of It All

      Emmett never let go of his dislike of dogs. He showed it with muffled and incomprehensible grumbles about Bobbie. He never forgave her for growling at him when they first met. He said he would rather have a snake in the house than a dog. And no damn dog had better ever climb up on his sofa if they managed to get inside his house. Bobbie was a big ungainly soul who had been Lilian’s companion. She was used to having full reign of my house. Emmett never had a clue that she was much cleaner than he was…

      part two of lilian's wish

      Trying To Make Sense of It All

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Apr 27, 2016
      Trying To Make Sense of It All

      Emmett had made his grand entrance into my house in January. By the time spring had arrived, he’d started showing up at my doorstep whenever he felt like it and would blow his horn from the driveway rather than come up to the door. At first, I thought something might be wrong, but he would tell me later that he was just an old man who didn’t walk well so he thought I should come to him. He didn’t vary his greeting much and usually said, “Hey, young fella, where you been? It’s hot out here…

      part one of lilian's wish

      Trying To Make Sense of It All

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Apr 24, 2016
      Lilian

      Retaining her sense of humor to the end, she asked to be buried in Montreal for several reasons. First, she had developed a keener sense of family, and her uncle and most of her aunts and cousins live in that beautiful city. Secondly, she said she wanted her husband and daughter to pay a proper pilgrimage to see her rather than just pop in occasionally at a more convenient local cemetery. Thirdly, she recognized that Montreal was a European city and after all she was at heart a European. And finally, to all who knew and loved her and would have enjoyed her reasoning, it added to her mystery.

      live a creative life

      The Gift

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Apr 17, 2016
      rose thorns

      Driving home, I couldn’t help but keep thinking how that poor lady dealt with reaching into her grief box and tossing out a rose thorn every time she had a pretty good day and didn’t think all the time about the loss of her 20-year-old daughter who had taken her own life. Michael, a woodworking instructor, had told our class earlier the story of a special box he had made and given to this lady. The woman was a dear friend deep into grieving over her schizophrenic daughter who let herself be taken from this world for reasons no one really knew…

      peddling fantasy

      Land Where My Fathers Died

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Dec 28, 2015
      Marines of Company G, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines inch their way toward the summit of Hill 881N during the Hill fights (USMC Photo A189161) via Wikimedia.org (public domain).

      … on the continuum I received the million dollar wound … both eardrums blown out…I have thought about visiting but that time has passed … had I gone, I would have make a couple of trips up the road past the Rock Pile … LZ Stud … toward Khe Sanh…if there were a single spot … it would be a place north of Khe Sanh … we came around the bend of a crystal clear running stream we were wading up … there was a little water fall cascading into a pool lined with fine gravel … we stopped for awhile … posting guards and lolling in the clear cool water cleaning ourselves and uniforms … I passed my toothbrush and toothpaste around to the other eight guys … it’s my best cherished memory.

      stories

      Thoughts Of Christmas Past

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Dec 25, 2015
      Thoughts Of Christmas Past

      My wife was tickled the other day when a friend sent us a large basket full of crackers, peanut brittle, chocolates and a round container of “Sonomajacks, Gourmet Garlic and Herb” cheese wedges. Her curiosity turned to pure delight when she turned the container over and discovered it was from a cheese factory in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, where her grandmother Frieda used to work on a kind of Lucille Ball-assembly line trying to keep up with the small bits of cheese coming at her on a conveyor belt.

      ’tis the season

      Another View

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Dec 22, 2015
      Another View

      The Irish poet Medbh McGuckian writes about subduing “the disquieting existence of others” in her poem Drawing Ballerinas. Seeing through eyes she describes as “unnerving sparks of matter,” she brings to life another view of the feeling of anxiety, of worry, a knowledge that something is about to pass in this world of disorder and disillusionment. The anxiety may be more than just a feeling. It may be real loss, not just of home and land, but of innocence.

      southern stories

      Grit Lit

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Dec 8, 2015
      Grit Lit

      After reading three assigned stories for my upcoming January Master of Fine Arts seminar on “grit lit,” I was glad I had read Dorothy Allison’s “River of Names” during the afternoon sitting up rather than in bed just before going to sleep.

      This powerful and frightening view of dysfunctional family life is set somewhere in the South in perhaps the fifties or sixties. In just a few pages, Allison drags you through a snarling gaggle of relatives that include all kinds of perverts, rapists, druggies, suicides, and young mothers with too many babies…

      invisible dragons

      Pilgrims On A Tempest-Tossed Sea

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Nov 29, 2015
      Refugee Boat Sinks in Mediterranean

      A friend recently told me that her great grandmother to the ninth generation was aboard the Mayflower. The young lady in question arrived in what was to become this country when she was only four. Living to be eighty-three and becoming a matriarch directly linked to at least fifty grandchildren, she was obviously a most incredible woman. But what also struck me about her story was that her future father-in-law was the leader of a Purists/Separatists/Dissenters group in Holland. In one of his sermons, he said: “But now we are all, in all places, strangers and pilgrims, travelers and sojourners.”

      merely players

      The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, And Nothing But The Tooth

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Nov 24, 2015
      The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, And Nothing But The Tooth

      Rosie just wandered about through the racks of clothing as though she were in her own closet trying to decide which dress to wear. As she made her way from clothes hanger to clothes hanger, she commenced to wave her hand about as though conducting. She then began to contradict Will, our real conductor, who had reminded us to play with more of a crescendo in this measure and to punctuate the marcato notes with more dynamic emphasis in another measure. Rosie said with authority and in a gravelly tone, “No, no, it all sounds good!” And then she started to sing …”Now we don our gay apparel…”

      the wind in their face

      Terms Of Agreement

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Nov 7, 2015
      Holding an injured dove

      “Dear Irv,

      “I’m sorry I have to say goodbye this way, not in person. My symptoms got a lot worse a week or so ago and I decided to do a process of voluntarily stopping eating and drinking in order to die faster and with less suffering.”

      This opening to an essay from Dr. Irvin D. Yalom’s book Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychology stopped me immediately. The letter came from “Ellie,” one of Yalom’s patients. He said he knew she was dying from her cancer, but was still shocked to get the e-mail. Who wouldn’t be?

      back to school

      The Gift Of The Genie

      by | 9, Add your Comment | Oct 25, 2015
      The Road to Nowhere

      Her life was “good enough” was the answer the young woman told the genie as she declined his offer of three wishes for freeing him from his bottle. As I sat in the audience listening to Neil Gaiman read his short story, I was still on a high after being accepted into West Virginia Wesleyan College’s MFA program in creative writing.

      This past couple of weeks I’ve been mulling over the idea of going back to school for an intensive two-year program focused on writing non-fiction. Flipping back and forth in Joe Biden-style…

      dreams

      The Left Hand Of Darkness

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Oct 18, 2015
      nsettling Dream

      “Give yourself a round of applause.” My wife Jody and I laughed as we read this equivalent to a Chinese fortune cookie phrase printed on the inside of a small Dove chocolate wrapper. In this after-dinner treat, we both saw the pompous face of a local blowhard passing out verbal unsavories that he had convinced himself were bite-sized bon mots. Pity the poor dinner partner or driving companion strapped in beside him and unable to escape.

      emotional connections

      The Confucian Way

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Oct 14, 2015
      Jody and her rock

      My wife Jody likes rocks. All kinds of rocks, small rocks to big rocks. Gravel to boulders. She loves to search for special rocks in creek beds where the flowing water has worn them smooth and brought out colors and nooks and crannies worn away by time and motion.

      For years now, she’s coveted one such boulder that once just poked its head out of our road the way the iceberg did that proved fatal to the Titantic…

      a tender mercy

      Let Me Help You Tie Your Shoes

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Sep 21, 2015
      The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

      My heart like wax is melted. –Psalm 22:14

      When I first met Allie and Ida, my wife Jody’s uncle and aunt, back in the late 1990s, Allie looked across the table at me and asked in his quiet and gentle way, “Are you a farmer, too?” I appreciated quickly that it would have been an honor to have been anything that Allie was. Ida was a treat, too, and became an e-mail buddy even before Jody and I were married.

      collateral damage of war

      Hard Times Come Again No More

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Sep 14, 2015
      A young Syrian migrant girl is held by her mother next to railroad tracks where migrants wait to cross into Macedonia

      “Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears,
      While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
      There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;
      Oh! Hard times come again no more.
      Chorus:
      “’Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
      Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
      Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
      Oh! Hard times come again no more.”

      ouch

      A Bout With The Gout

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Sep 10, 2015
      Shakespeare a little altered - 'He lived not wisely, but too well'

      Don’t even touch anything close to me. Help me get out of my chair but don’t let my toe pass by anything except the air it moves in. It hurts worse than anything you’ve ever told me about childbirth.

      “It might hurt, but it’s nothing like childbirth,” my wife Jody corrected me after I howled in pain when my big toe barely brushed lightly against the sheets. I didn’t know what was happening to me, or rather, what was happening to my right foot’s big toe that was red and swollen and soon to resemble too much sausage squeezed into an undersized casing.

      1933 – 2015

      A Post Oliver World

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Sep 7, 2015
      Oliver Sacks

      We all know by now that the neurologist and author Oliver Sacks died recently (30 August 2015) at the age of 82.

      In the New York Times obituary (31 August), his long-time personal assistant Kate Edgar, who described herself as his “collaborator, friend, researcher and editor” as well, wrote just before his death: “He is still writing with great clarity. We are pretty sure he will go with fountain pen in hand.”

      friends

      Hail To Thee, Blithe Spirit

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Aug 31, 2015
      Home-made David Evans Muffin

      I was reading an amusing description the other day of John Betjeman, a man who became poet laureate of England in 1972. He must have been a fun guy to have been around judging from how a journalist once described him as a man who looked “like a highly intelligent muffin–a small, plump, rumpled man with luminous soft eyes, a chubby face topped with wisps of white hair and imparting a distinct air of absentmindedness.” Although I am not chubby or overly rumpled, I would be delighted for anyone to portray me in such an endearing way.

      with heavy hearts

      The Three Steps Of Decency

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Aug 19, 2015
      Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On - Immortal Longings by Elizabeth E. Schuch

      “Well, then, ask me your questions.  I won’t be around forever.”

      That’s what Floyd told me a few years ago when I said that just when we get old enough to ask the right questions of our parents and grandparents, they’re all gone.  Floyd was true to his word and did not last forever.  He is now gone, six months short of his one-hundredth birthday.  I was assured he died without pain and without lingering more than just a few days.

      e. l. doctorow

      The Hierogram

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jul 30, 2015
      E. L. Doctorow

      “There was nothing more to be said on the subject of the future and their different destinies, for those words, uttered with complete calm and conviction, had done what every inspired melody does:  condense a welter of emotions into an unconflicted clarity that one can instantly recall and call upon. Like a hierogram.”—Kris Saknussemm, Enigmatic Pilot

      As I anticipate this year’s upcoming Virginia Writers Symposium in Charlottesville, I was stopped the other day when I read of the passing of E. L. Doctorow, to me a sacred symbol of a writer who had mastered his craft and had so much to teach all the rest of us who marveled at his creativity and innovative ways…

      we could do worse

      Gone To The Dogs

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jul 23, 2015
      Gone To The Dogs

      We’ve been down to two cats now, Sophie and Dolly, for over two years. The last two lads, Tucker and Sneezer, took their leave a couple of summers ago, one otherwise healthy gentleman on the operating table to have his teeth cleaned and the other a poor devil who had suffered far too long from a debilitating disease. Now we have two aging dowagers who think they’re still debutantes. They barely tolerate one another, however, and share a porch space during the day as though they’re on opposite sides negotiating a treaty with Iran. Feline peace is not easy to maintain.

      its love of life

      Joyce’s Dublin

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Jul 14, 2015
      Statue of James Joyce near O'Connell St. in Dublin

      As I continue to read through James Joyce’s collection of short stories called “Dubliners,” I look at various old black and white photos of the city as it was published well over a century ago.  I’ve also been guided by Mark O’Connell who wrote an article for “Slate” magazine in May 2014 entitled, “Have I Ever Left It?” to mark the one-hundredth anniversary of its publication.

      I’ve never been to Dublin, but look forward one day soon to walking about, taking in the city that Joyce described. 

      face the music

      Beat the Drums Loudly

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jul 9, 2015
      Image: Solstice Drums by Jessica Lucia via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/theloushe/

      Joyce has the most luminous blue eyes imaginable. Betty smiles and is quiet. Annie cannot break eye contact. And Don excuses himself to go to the bathroom and never returns. They are all part of my friend Ed’s drum-therapy group that meets weekly for an hour in the lobby of their retirement and assisted living center. Ed, who is a professor emeritus of Graduate Psychology, learned to lead the drum circle from his younger sister…

      secret to great sax

      If Music Be The Food Of Love …

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Jul 6, 2015
      Selmer Mark VI via the Wikimedia Commons

      I lost my self-confidence in singing and playing a musical instrument early in life. I can still hear Mrs Greeley in fifth grade telling my pal Byron and me that we would not be singing in the Christmas pageant that year, since neither of us could carry a tune worth a damn. A few years later I dropped out of High School Band because I continued to carry the Greeley curse and didn’t think I was worth a damn. It was a bleak beginning for anyone who fancied music.

      Many years later, though, my friend John coaxed me to join the New Horizons Band at James Madison University. I am forever indebted to Will, our band director, for welcoming me aboard in his enthusiastic and warm manner…

      male pattern blindness

      Quirks And Quiddities

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Jul 3, 2015
      Quirks And Quiddities

      “In this intimate body of work, she uses mixed media, collage and painting to explore the demands of motherhood, preservation of memory, and repetitious patterns of thought and behavior.”

      Huh?

      I recently received this invitation and quickly decided it was probably something I don’t want to even be seen near, let alone attend.

      grief and fear

      Wellspring of Tears

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jun 24, 2015
      Charleston Massacre by Lee Stranahan via flickr and used a Creative Commons license.

      The Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote many years ago in The Second Coming that,

      Turning and turning in the widening gyre
      The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
      The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.

      mystery of joy

      Eating Stones

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 18, 2015
      The Celestial Rose by Gustave Doré (engraving, c.1868)

      As the ruffian used force to carry her out of the convent because her family needed her for an arranged marriage that would increase their fortune, this thirteenth-century nun and member of (St.) Clare’s Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano saved herself and preserved her vows by suddenly and miraculously growing heavier and heavier. In the end, her assailant had to put her down and abandon the abduction. As he said, it was as though she had been eating stones.

      in need of soothing words

      “The Soul has Bandaged moments”

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jun 6, 2015
      Walt Whitman Herman Melville Emily Dickinson

      The forsythia has grown so tall and thick with age that it almost obscures the roofline of the gazebo tucked behind it. The key word, of course, is “almost,” since you can still see the wooden shingles from the driveway. Despite the obscuring foliage, you know the gazebo is still in there. And that’s the way it is with my friend who’s still “in there,” although she’s deep into her own self with an illness that is relentless in taking her further and further into a silent and separate world.

      his blunt directness

      Why We Still Read Whitman

      by | 0, Add your Comment | May 28, 2015
      Why We Still Read Whitman

      After watching the evening news coverage of warfare in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, I turn to other wars to try to understand what is perhaps beyond one’s ability to make sense of conflict. The why and wherefore of all these years of perpetual war for perpetual peace, whatever that means, seems to be getting more vague to me as time goes by. An on-line class I’m currently enrolled in is examining the poetry that came out of our own Civil War. Although not a keen enthusiast of Walt Whitman, I have come to appreciate what he was trying to do when he chose to be “embedded” with Union forces marching into battle early on in the fighting.

      the here and now

      The Past Is Never Past

      by | 4, Add your Comment | May 19, 2015
      The Past Is Never Past

      “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner had a big-time influence on me as an adolescent as did my father who never met a funeral he didn’t like, especially if it took him back to the hill country of Appalachian Ohio where he had been raised. Even now I remember as a boy following a group of men carrying the casket of a man my father had known when he was a boy. The memory is still clear of them slipping and sliding along the dry creek bed en route to a spot in the woods…

      the case for god

      Turning The Pages

      by | 9, Add your Comment | May 4, 2015
      Turning The Pages

      Religious “faith” is not an idea I subscribe to. I was asked recently if I would describe myself as an atheist. My response was no, but not in the sense that we usually think of the word. Like the former nun and author Karen Armstrong, I am also conscious of the mystery that is life and that there are many questions beyond my comprehension. I am grateful for being alive and for being able to add my own little contribution toward making this a better world for all of us. But I don’t feel any need to wrap myself up in any organized religion or wind my way on any particular day of the week to a church to “worship.”

      pursuit of ambiguity

      Henry And A Slight Case Of ED

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 21, 2015
      Henry And A Slight Case Of ED

      No, no, not that kind of ED, which always seems to feature one of those slightly discomforting situations where you see the happy afterglow of couples strolling hand in hand and smiling lovingly, presumably after the little blue pill has worked its magic. The kind of ED I’m talking about is entirely different. This ED is the nineteenth-century Belle of Amherst, the reclusive poet in white named Emily, and her ties with a fellow writer named Henry.

      window washing

      Through A Glass Darkly

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Apr 9, 2015
      Tom Lehrer - Poisoning Pigeons In The Park

      The great satirist, song writer and pianist Tom Lehrer had me wondering about and laughing at his songs even as an adolescent just beginning to appreciate the sardonic view of life. Who could hear and ever forget his black humor in “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park”?

      Although separated by time, he and I both served in the Army as “enlisted scum” and both achieved the rank of “Specialist Four,” which he described as “a corporal without portfolio.” He held onto his identity as a sartorial dandy even draped in his wrinkled and ill-fitting uniform, describing his olive drab duds, “If it was good enough for Robin Hood, it’s good enough for me.”

      tooting my alto

      Making The Honor Roll

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Mar 30, 2015
      Jazz players by Pedro Ribeiro Simões

      When I first heard the music of Bob Marley years ago, the Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter, guitarist and philosopher, I found myself moving to the music. Somewhat to my surprise, I seemed to be responding automatically to his enlightened suggestion to “lively up yo’self.”

      Music has always been a challenge to me. I guess part of the difficulty has been my insistence on wanting to know how it works rather than just sitting back and letting it work on me. Too much left- and not enough right-brain dominance.

      most beautiful words

      Fun With The Dictionary

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Mar 16, 2015
      Fun With The Dictionary

      As a young boy doing my homework while staying over with a favorite aunt, I was puzzled by a word and asked her where her dictionary was. She looked at me with befuddlement and finally said she didn’t have one. I thought that odd, but continued to ponder away at the word “sundry” which I also thought odd, and just assumed in my youthful innocence that it was simply a misspelling for “Sunday.”

      I’ve always had lots of dictionaries lying about, even foreign ones since my late wife was a professional translator.

      friends

      Lunch With Floyd

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Mar 10, 2015
      Lunch With Floyd

      He was not at all like, as Jane Kenyon would say, “a wine glass, weary of holding wine.” During our recent time together, he was at one point on his hands and knees retrieving his confounded new hearing aid that still let him down. As he sat ajar at the table so that his one good ear was pointed my way, he told me that Mildred had said, “Don’t tell anyone.” His dear wife was forgetting too many things and was frightened of what was to come, although she didn’t want to talk about it.

      listen to the words

      Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 5, 2015
      Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me

      “I was wearing an orange bathrobe. She was leaning over me in a white men’s T-shirt and tiny white panties, shaking me by the shoulder. Her slender body seemed fragile, secure, childlike, with no sign of last night’s Italian excesses. Outside was not yet dawn.”

      As I wind down Haruki Murakami’s novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World, I am deliberately slowing down my pace to savor the language and to listen to its tempo. The music is playing in the words.

      value of liberal arts

      Stay A Little

      by | 10, Add your Comment | Feb 19, 2015
      Stay A Little

      When I read Frank Bruni’s column recently in The New York Times about the value of a liberal arts education, I was pleased at how he had honored a professor at Chapel Hill whose Shakespeare classes had been the most transformative educational experiences of his life. She had read the column and had written him, the first contact they had had since the mid-1980s, to talk more about the state of higher education in this country today.

      As I squirmed over their exchange on how so many politicians want to value education according to what kind of high paying job it can bring, I can still hear the concerns over half a century ago of my father…

      the winter metaphor

      So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 9, 2015
      So Long, It's Been Good To Know Yuh

      Brushing up on my Wordsworth recently during a particularly paralyzing cold spell, I found The Solitary Reaper and settled into trying to understand the brutality that we know make up the day’s news, the savagery that burns through the TV screen, the “old, unhappy, far-off things and battles long ago.” It’s hard to read about or listen to the news when there’s so much everyday gloom brought about by war, epidemics, violent deracination from family village to refugee camp, and train wrecks that take the lives of innocent commuters en route home.

      dreams

      Walter Mitty In The Woods

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jan 29, 2015
      Walter Mitty In The Woods

      I read recently that “serendipity” is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering the farmer’s daughter.

      It would truly be a lucky boy who would find such a treasure in a haystack when he was just looking for his car keys. That’s the way I felt this morning after awakening from a delightful dream in which I had finally been awarded my PhD in ancient languages. The rub was that I have never sought such a distinction…

      tracks in the snow

      Threnody

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jan 26, 2015
      our house in winter

      “Please hold my hand now. I am dying.” As this soul pulled me close to her, she looked up but just smiled. I had just finished reading “Walking Home From Oak Head” by Mary Oliver to her and she seemed to be pleased to hear some of the refrains again,

      There is something
      about the snow-laden sky
      in winter
      in the late afternoon
      that brings to the heart elation
      and the lovely meaninglessness
      of time.

      literally

      In A Word

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Jan 20, 2015
      Fish jump 02-24-12 © mrazp via iStockPhoto.com and licensed by LikeTheDew.com;

      In her autobiography A Backward Glance (1934), Edith Wharton wrote: “In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”

      I like that concept which I stumbled upon this morning in a delightful newsletter called Dr. Mardy’s Quotes of the Week — Jan 18-24, 2015.  Wharton was a great stylist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century whose books on the conflicts between societal mores and the pursuit of happiness are still read with great enjoyment after all these years…

      inexhaustible well

      What Did Godot Do?

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Jan 1, 2015
      What Did Godot Do?

      I read recently that the American novelist, poet, and composer Paul Bowles once said, ”We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

      our friend floyd

      The Analects of Floyd

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Dec 27, 2014
      from Chilture.com (promotional image) http://www.chilture.com/chinese-calligraphy-art-confucius-quotes-c-22_36.html

      We took Christmas dinner to Floyd in southern Pennsylvania yesterday. Although he said he was continuing to feel “tired” most of the time and had a bit of trouble breathing (probably a lingering effect of the pneumonia he suffered before Thanksgiving), he seemed more alert and active than what he was at Thanksgiving. We’re never sure if he enjoys the meals that Jody prepares, but he always finishes everything and is pleased that she packages up the leftovers for him.

      children of the enlightenment

      A Winter’s Tale

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Dec 16, 2014
      Jesus crucifiction as enhanced interrogation

      When he gasped to take a breath and to stop swearing in his fractured English, he told her he had a “fucking shit life” and that she was a filthy whore who would die a horrid death. Spitting out more vitriol with each breath, he finished his rant by saying, “You will lose this war.” Perhaps time will, if it hasn’t already, prove him right. Certitude rang out from this Algerian jihadist who had been captured by Afghanistan’s tribal Northern Alliance shortly after the American onslaught following 9/11 . At this point, however, the “interview” was concluded when she said, “That may be, but your own war is over.”

      hear the crowing

      Sacrificing The Rooster

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Dec 7, 2014
      Rooster crowing at sunrise

      The word “frustraneous” grabbed me by the back of the neck a while ago and hasn’t let go since.  In case you don’t know (which I didn’t), it means “useless” or “unprofitable.”  Derived from the Latin “frustra” (in vain). I bring it up since I think it’s a description of something just the opposite of what I learned anew in an on-line class I recently completed on the importance of continuing to read and reread the classics, especially the Greeks from Homer to the tragedians Sophocles and Euripides to Plato.

      on the myriad paths

      It’s Here

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Nov 25, 2014
      It's Here

      It’s the broken slat on the chair that will keep our recent visit to Floyd focused in my mind. The soon-to-be ninety-nine year old husband of my late cousin Mildred lost his balance a few weeks back and misjudged the placement of the chair when he thought he was about to sit on it at the dining room table. He lives alone in his “cottage” at a retirement complex in southern Pennsylvania, so there was no one there to help him get up. Of course, he couldn’t get his cell phone to work so he lay there for a while before he could muster the strength to get back on his feet. While he lay on the floor, he “talked” to but not necessarily with Mildred.

      who am i?

      A World of Randomness and Ambiguity

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Nov 23, 2014
      A World of Randomness and Ambiguity

      As part of my winter endeavors, I have ventured off with Dante on a journey through The Divine Comedy. So far, so good, but as my wife often asks, “Why?” I am not a religious person, at least in the conventional way, so why indeed am I stumbling along in a fourteenth-century conceit of a man’s mid-life crisis? As it turns out, I am following a Georgetown University on-line class which is serving as my guide, my own Virgil.

      another dark wood

      Promises To Keep

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Oct 28, 2014
      Promises To Keep

      In a class on Dante I’m currently enrolled in, Professor Frank Ambrosio of Georgetown University quoted the nineteenth century philosopher Friedric Nietzsche that human beings, as far as we know, are the only animals that make promises. I only add that humans are also the sole ones who break them.

      According to Ambrosio, Nietzsche puts the significance of human promising and its place with regard to freedom this way: “In man, nature set itself the task to breed an animal worthy of making promises.”

      good company

      Frankly But Faintly Malicious

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Oct 23, 2014
      Frankly But Faintly Malicious

      Mary Alice told her joke by asking, “What is black and yellow and goes zub, zub, zub?” Of course, the answer is a bee going in reverse. Thus we rode this joke off into another round of high-energy talking, joking, and drinking some less than satin wine. If I were to compare her to some famous author, perhaps the Nobel-prize winning Doris Lessing would come to mind. She’s funny, yet serious at the same time.

      dreams

      A Hard Day’s Night

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Oct 12, 2014
      Dreams Don't Turn to Dust by Alex Timlinson aka: hootalex from Devianart.com.

      The tiny old man wheezed and warned me to leave him alone since he was just looking for a wall to lean against. He was an examination of human frailty, revealed in blurred and jagged fragments. He told me to beware of joy. Thus ended another of my dreams that left me a bit shaken and in need of understanding. In some of my dreams, such as this one, everything is frequently miniaturized and even immaterial …

      the muse be with you

      The Schoolboy Presses On

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Oct 1, 2014
      The Art of Poetry with Robert Pinsky - edX

      Like the proverbial schoolboy with his nose pressed up against the glass of the candy display, I can’t seem to get enough of the various on-line and free classes offered over the edX educational program conceived of by a couple of Harvard professors just a few years ago. This fall I’ve perhaps bitten off more than a full plate by registering for six different classes. They range from the Greek epics to Chinese history to current events in the Middle East…

      follow your bliss

      Trying To Do The Impossible

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Sep 25, 2014
      Trying To Do The Impossible

      “All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.”-– William Faulkner

      It’s been quite a spate of birthdays for famous writers this latter part of September, the beginning of autumn when we slowly let go of whatever is left of our ties with summer. The daily Writer’s Almanac column always provides for interesting bits and pieces of the lives of writers, but this week seems to have been special.

      the mighty chestnut

      Look Homeward, Angel

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Sep 15, 2014
      Look Homeward, Angel

      The mass killers came as stowaways aboard ships about the time the Kitty Hawk first took to flight along a North Carolina beach. Although these assassins were merciless, they probably did not even know themselves the great destruction they were to bring.

      Thus began the near complete killing of all the American Chestnuts in this country. The pathogens that had probably slipped into the country on infected nursery stock consumed relatively little time in destroying the forests of American Chestnuts ranging from Maine to the southern Appalachians. It took fewer than forty years.

      happy birthday to me

      Never Look Back

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Aug 31, 2014
      Never Look Back

      “Old Age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” –Fred Astaire

      It’s finally happened to me… I’m now the Biblical threescore and ten years old. I went to bed after a great meal, wonderful evening with my ever-loving wife Jody, some funny conversation, a little mystery on the telly and woke up… well, I didn’t feel any different.

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