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Friday, November 17, 2017
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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:


      Lurking In The Dark

      Evil In A Demon Haunted World

      by | 6, Add your Comment | May 11, 2013
      Evil In A Demon Haunted World

      I still remember attending a logic class when the university reopened a week following the assassination of President Kennedy. The angry graduate student instructor that I had been assigned to was part of a team that tried to clarify to a bunch of undergrads what the wild eyed and mostly incomprehensible professor had lectured about earlier in the week. As we gathered for the first time, still more than a bit dazed by what had happened in Dallas and without any idea how the act would ultimately change all our lives, he glared out at us and asked, “Now do you believe that evil exists in the world?”

      Streams of Moted Light

      You Can Go Home Again

      by | 0, Add your Comment | May 7, 2013
      You Can Go Home Again

      I glanced up on the top of my dresser recently and caught the eyes of my dear Aunt Dolly, gone now so many years. I keep her there in close view for a number of reasons, but most importantly for the lesson she taught me about the notion of unconditional love.

      One picture of her, slightly blurred, presents a young child, perhaps only three or four, seated in a small chair and wearing a large round watch around her neck.

      Daily Rituals

      The Writing Life

      by | 4, Add your Comment | May 5, 2013
      The Writing Life

      So how do you explain how you’ve written ten good essays in ten days or why you haven’t written a damn thing for over two weeks? Are you so glib that all you have to do is to sit at your keyboard and be amazed how a two-thousand word report on car batteries just flowed through your fingers and is a literate work of prose that hardly needs any revision? Or why you’ve dried up and can’t complete a sentence despite just returning from an exciting trip abroad and hanging out with all kinds of interesting people.

      Friends

      Tender Mercies: A Dog’s Life

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Apr 30, 2013
      Tender Mercies: A Dog's Life

      There’s a special kind of sadness to watch an old dog who has been with you many years begin to fade before your very eyes. Our senior Goldie, Hank (the Hunk), is showing his age which has brought memories of other special dogs who lived long and happy lives with me, but alas passed on far too soon for my liking.

      It slips up on all of us, man and his pups alike. Most people today hope to live well into their seventies and eighties.

      Private Showings

      To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Apr 23, 2013
      OSS Deer Team with Viet Minh, including Ho Chi Minh, (third from left) in 1945

      When the dogs rustle and I awake in the wee hours of the night, I find it soothing to get up and come out into the quiet of the house. It is in these moments when I am so alone with my thoughts that I can wander through some puzzles and wonder what tricks my mind has played on me in my sleep.

      In my wild ride of dreams just a few hours earlier, I was back at Mr B.’s side, preparing him for his day, listening and laughing at his stories, marveling that I had such a job. We were en route to a discussion with a group of young officers who were assembled to hear from one of the legendary ones.

      What We Craved

      Fathers And Sons

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 18, 2013
      Fathers And Sons

      “All of us are beggars here,” wrote the 19th century psychologist William James as he ruminated on the enigma of existence, on the human as well as on the larger cosmological level.  John Holt uses the quote in his book Why Does the World Exist?  that I am now reading.  As Kathryn Schulz wrote about Holt’s book in a New York Magazine  review last summer,

      “Mind, matter, abstract ideas: Where does all this stuff come from?”

      Bon Appétit

      Appetite For Life

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Apr 16, 2013
      Appetite For Life

      A dessert class at a time when people are obsessed with losing weight and staying fit and trim? You mean such a class will be waddling in soon like Daisy Duck and her little ones just prior to swim suit season and at a time when I’m already under pressure to lose a few pounds and give some slack back to a tight waistband?

      Despite all the warnings, though, I am duty bound to follow the directions of the family kitchen goddess. With powdered sugar sprinkled about, I will belly up to our family baker’s well-floured table and once again be Jody’s factotum and in-house taster! As an old sailor friend used to tell me, “It’s a hard life, the sea.”

      The Last Hurrah

      Batteries Not Included

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Apr 14, 2013
      Batteries Not Included

      In a life led mostly in the long cold hours before dawn, Jim was a person whose word I once trusted. That confidence changed later. Now he’s gone, still in the chill of an early spring that won’t let go its grip on winter.

      All I really know about Death is that I don’t want to pass in the darkness of winter. I want to go out in the full sunshine. I want to believe I will sense the warmth of the good earth, still hear a bird sing, maybe even feel the final sniff of one of my good hounds.

      The Kabbalah

      Moments of Mystery

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Apr 10, 2013
      Moments of Mystery

      There’s a neat little barbeque over the mountain from me that has the following sign above the urinal:

      “Best Bar-B-Q you can get in a building that hasn’t already been condemned”

      You can’t just stand there staring at the wall with bits of sauce unwashed off your hands without looking up at the ceiling and then laughing.

      Epic Dreams

      Pauper Ergo Sum

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Apr 6, 2013
      Pauper Ergo Sum

      Since it’s the time of year we celebrate the birthday of Thomas Hobbes, the old gloomster born in 1588, I thought the moment ready to investigate whether we are indeed living in a world with “no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

      Although it didn’t take long to establish that fact to be “true,” I started to wonder how bereft I am, especially now that I’ve finally learned to embrace my CPAP mask and can look forward to wild adventures each night as I fall asleep in an oxygen-enhanced little bubble all my own.

      Mansions of the Lord

      Crosses My Mind

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Apr 3, 2013
      Crosses My Mind

      “There will be blood, his eyes tell us, but thatʼs not a promise: itʼs a lament.” So ended a recent New Yorker film review by Anthony Lane of Jack Reacher, one more violent thriller.

      But the name Jack Reacher stopped me in mid sentence. An old Army buddy from the Vietnam War by the same name immediately came to mind. He even had a slight resemblance to Tom Cruise who plays his namesake in the movie. Unlike Cruise, Jack never had a shortage of grins, though. And except for the blood that came later, thatʼs where any resemblance to Cruise ends.

      Good Lines

      The Writing Life

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Mar 31, 2013
      The Writing Life

      When I ask myself, “Why spend so much time at your keyboard scribbling out profiles of people or thoughts on religion, politics, love, death, and loss, I have a few ideas of my mine and even better ones from others to share with you.

      First, I can deal with “grown-up” assignments, such as how does Boris Pasternak develop the theme of “storm” in Doctor Zhivago when the White Russian General says, “I will kill everyone for the sake of humanity”; what did Henry David Thoreau mean by “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”?…

      Strong-Minded Women

      The Quartet

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 29, 2013
      The Quartet

      My friend Dallas and his wife Liz have been entertaining a select bunch of us these past few weeks with tales of their trip through the Southwest. Today they were in Moab, Utah, where he saw this bit of advice on the back of a serape: “There are two ways to get rich…you can make more or you can require less.”

      The advice seemed to be the glue that would bind together some recent thoughts that have been knocking at my door.

      Alive

      Carpe Diem

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Mar 24, 2013
      Carpe Diem

      Louis Adamic, a writer who was born in 1899 in what is now Slovenia, once quipped: “My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn.”

      And so as my wife Jody and I walked our three pups recently in the cold with a “Spring” breeze–more like one in January rather than late March–in our faces, we thought about our idyllic life today and how much in contrast it stands with the ones we were living just 20 years ago. M’lady was slipping into holes made more by the crumbling rather than the erosion of a marriage that was fast giving way. I was dealing with another kind of loss and was on my own confusing journey in an especially dark woods.

      Irrational v. Rational

      A Darwinian Dialogue

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Mar 21, 2013
      A Darwinian Dialogue

      Discussions with an instructor over a class I recently took on Darwin have led me to again wonder about “religious” matters and the role they continue to play out in our lives. Amongst other places, my wanderings took me back to the writings of Robert Pirsig, the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and his equally good book Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals.

      What forced the issue was a final sentence in the descriptive summary of the class: “The course will touch on ‘evolutionary Christianity,’ one approach to making peace between science and faith.”

      Men Cannot Be Deaf

      Women of Will

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Mar 16, 2013
      Women of Will

      In our so-called “modern” age, one has to wonder why there’s so much continuing hullabaloo over the role of women in our society. I thought most of these questions had been settled a long while ago. Silly me.

      At a time when we shouldn’t have to be recycling these same old male-female issues, up jumps the devil. Had I been away for a couple of decades and just now returned to find out how things had turned out, I would have gone straight to some dinosaur museum to study the bones of our earlier era’s ossified thinking. Not the case. Sadly, we seem to be seeing the re-emergence of some pretty reactionary forces who once again want to “put women in their place.”

      Great Privation

      Last of the Summer Wine

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Mar 14, 2013
      Shenandoah Valley, Sept. 1864 (Alfred R. Waud, Morgan collection, Library of Congress)

      In this day and age when waistlines keep expanding, super-sized meals more common, and obesity waddling around everywhere, I’ve been reading of another time when food was scarce, malnutrition evident, and even starvation threatening.

      Just over the Great North Mountain from me lies the north central portion of the Shenandoah Valley, a rich and fertile agricultural area that was once known as “the breadbasket of the South” …

      Ogees

      Negative Space and Thomas Day

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 11, 2013
      Negative Space and Thomas Day

      After watching an episode of Roy Underhill’s PBS program The Woodwright’s Apprentice, I went out to my own workshop where my large One-Way 1640 lathe was sitting patiently awaiting my return. My table saw, band saw, drill press, planer, jointer, router and an assortment of hand tools were all there, too, just sitting and waiting. I spent the afternoon in the shop turning some small walnut bowls and thinking about Roy’s program on Thomas Day, a “free black” craftsman from the first half of the 19th century.

      Travels With Lia

      The Education of a Grandfather

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 7, 2013
      The Education of a Grandfather

      When I sit down at my word processor nearly every morning, I think of how I can capture the joy my wife Jody and I feel over our 6-year old granddaughter Lia. So far I haven’t done very well, since it’s hard not to be partial. I suspect I would also have problems not being a bit gushy.

      So I got inspired yesterday and spent the entire time trying to get my mind around what it is that makes a family and what roles we all play in creating the bonds that hold us together. Up till now, Jody has been the “super grandma” while I’ve been pretty much just a watcher…

      Comfort In Ambiguity

      Embracing Change

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Mar 5, 2013
      Embracing Change

      I had a supervisor once who told me “to leave nothing to ambiguity” when I had to explain to others a rather ill-conceived policy he was intent on implementing.

      The policy was stupid and counterproductive and I think the people knew my heart wasn’t in it so we all kind of shrugged. Fortunately, he didn’t last long and the others eventually all moved on without rancor. In the long run, I guess I’m the benefactor since I was left with the ambiguity phrase.

      Pious Baloney

      Sequestration and the Great Mitt Redux

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Mar 2, 2013
      Sequestration and the Great Mitt Redux

      The joke going around now asks how much would you donate to save the entire U.S. Congress if it were held hostage by terrorists demanding $100 million and threatening to douse them all with gas and set them on fire. As a man going from car to car collecting donations in a long traffic jam tells one driver who wonders what everyone on average is giving: “Roughly a gallon.”

      Even with the price of gas going up, I’d give two. With the “sequestration” …

      Whither Goest Thou?

      The Papacy: Quo Vadis

      by | 10, Add your Comment | Mar 1, 2013
      The Papacy: Quo Vadis

      In a recent panel of the cartoon Non Sequitur, the young feminist Danae is told why she can’t be the next pope. In response to “Why not?,” daddy says: “Well… the most obvious reasons are, you’re not indoctrinated in the Catholic Church, you’re still a kid, and you’re a girl.” Later that night when one of her stuffed animals says, “Uh… really? He said you’re overqualified to be the pope?,” Danae replies, “Yep, that’s the way I heard it.”

      Sequestration

      God Bless The Child

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Feb 25, 2013
      God Bless The Child

      Sister Monica Joan said that she had not just heard “of” the “Workhouse Howl,” but that she had actually heard it. It was the sound of agony beyond all words.

      The good sister is one of the cast in the BBC series Call the Midwife which chronicles a working class neighborhood in London’s gritty East End during the 1950s when government social services were scant at best. At this time, private or religious groups such as Nonnatus House, a nursing convent, were left to pick up the burden and cope with the medical problems of those living in this particularly deprived area.

      Ghosts:

      Remembering a Teacher

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Feb 21, 2013
      Eudora Welty bibliography

      I read recently that the author Richard Ford grew up as a neighbor to Eudora Welty in Jackson, Mississippi, and later became her friend when he was an adult and aspiring writer.

      What tickled me most was what she said on a hot spring day when he escorted her on her 86th birthday to a surprise party at a shopping mall bookstore. As they walked rather slowly along the storefronts, they came to where a man was inflating colorful balloons. When each balloon was filled, the cylinder would let out a loud whoosh of air. When Ms Welty looked about to find the sound, Ford said, “Balloons.” He then took her hand and added, “Someone’s apparently having a do.” “Oh,” she replied. And as those luminous, pale blue eyes ignited and her magical face suppressed once again an amused smile, she whispered, “I just thought it was someone who saw me, sighing.”

      Threat to Justice Everywhere

      Human Rights: Shadows In The Dark

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 18, 2013
      Syrian refugees hide their face as they arrive near the border between Syria and Turkey at Reyhanli in Antakya

      “I come no more to make you laugh…” Henry VIII, Act I, Prologue

      Every day we read of people throughout the world in great danger, people who are running, walking, crawling, fleeing some oppressor. As they huddle together, the eyes that dart about in search of danger are the same ones that are drained of tears. They are people with the life nearly beaten out of them, people no longer able to laugh or share whatever is left of their existence. They are the ones who clasp onto their children, who are haunted by the ghosts of their parents lying behind in the dust. On the edge of a world they know is fast coming to an end, they sense this end will come suddenly and brutally for some; for others, it will be slower, more torturous.

      Bodacious Babes

      Strong Women For Hard Times

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 15, 2013
      Strong Women For Hard Times

      I’ve always been attracted to bodacious women, bold, audacious and strong-minded ladies who also like men and want to link up but are not interested in second class citizenship.

      As we enter the Obama Administration’s second term, I am reminded of the old adage that behind every successful man is a strong woman. From what I’ve observed and read, I’m convinced that our current president is blessed to have Michelle as the strong yet independent wife and confidant that he needs in these challenging times.

      There For Us

      Power Me Up, A Paean To The “Ordinary” Working Man

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 12, 2013
      Power Me Up, A Paean To The "Ordinary" Working Man

      I read recently that the poet Marianne Moore advised her young protege Elizabeth Bishop nearly eighty years ago that poetry didn’t have to be about big ideas like love or death, but just about the observation of ordinary things.

      When we lost power earlier this week for about twenty-six hours, I was reminded of some of the “ordinary” things in my own daily life, especially electricity. I was also reminded how grateful I am for the “ordinary” hard working people who come out in all kinds of weather to make the repairs that restore that critical power.

      Farewell, My Lovely

      How Do You Make Love Last

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Feb 6, 2013
      How Do You Make Love Last

      Looking back it was hard for him to imagine what a sucker he had been. He had not yet learned the basic lesson in knowing how to make “Luv” last?

      Over the weekend, my cousin had called to tell me how silly he felt, especially at his age, at not being able to get the thoughts of his former girlfriend out of his head. I had met her some years back and agreed that she was a lovely woman on the surface and could be charming and witty if she tried. He was overboard early on, though, and described her as the smartest, the most “with it” woman imaginable.

      Keep Learning

      The Honorable Schoolboy

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Feb 3, 2013
      The Honorable Schoolboy

      What if the cure for cancer is trapped in the mind of someone who cannot afford an education?

      I recently saw this bumper sticker on my way to a morning lecture at James Madison University’s Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI), a program that offers a wide range of classes for adults. These classes take the form of lectures rather than traditional schoolroom settings with papers and tests at the end of the session. Best of all, there are no questionable standards of learning to fuss about. Our only homework is posed in the form of an invitation to read from any number of recommended books that form the basis for each of the classes.

      Perspective

      Westward Ho

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 29, 2013
      Westward Ho

      I read once that if you live on the edge of an enormous body of water or at the base of a mountain, it’s hard to think of yourself as really very important.

      Over my life, I’ve lived on islands with water from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico washing up on my beaches. Now I make my way in the ancient forests of the Allegheny mountains. In reflecting back, I believe all these locales have been humbling experiences.

      Will You Be Mine?

      You Don’t Sing Me Love Songs Like Before

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 25, 2013
      You Don't Sing Me Love Songs Like Before

      No one I know would ever think about stirring their bubbling love potion with an icicle.

      With Valentine’s Day still a few hops down the bunny trail, there’s still time, guys, to start thinking of some smoldering lines to woo our lady loves. In these cold days and short nights of late January when the temperatures don’t get far into the twenties, there’s a disconnect between the fireball demons of love, the sizzle of romance, the burning ache of separation, the molten longing for togetherness and the bleak cold of winter.

      Those Moments

      The Way We Were

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 23, 2013
      it is better to have loved and lost than to live the psycho for the rest of your life

      In reading about what was troubling Thornton Wilder as he struggled to write the third act of Our Town, I stumbled onto a phrase he used to capture his inspiration. When walking with a friend in the rain, he had had a eureka moment and found a solution to his predicament in the rain itself and his friend’s discomfort in getting soaked. As he later explained, he had “struck a match” off his friend’s complaining about the wet. All of a sudden he had that spark of illumination that cleared his vision and allowed him to incorporate the rain scene into the act and to finish the play.

      Martin Luther King, Jr.

      Letter From A Birmingham Jail

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Jan 20, 2013
      Letter From A Birmingham Jail

      “Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

      Reading on Writers

      Help Me Make It Through the Night

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Jan 18, 2013
      Help Me Make It Through the Night

      And then there’s always that nasty stuff about death making everything so serious.

      As I get older, I seem to want to read more biographies, especially of writers since I am fascinated with what makes or made so many of them tick. I crave insider information about their routine, how they got their ideas, how they linked totally different events to come up with their fresh and clever responses to all the crap that bugged them or made them laugh.

      Politics of War

      Hagel and The Mansions of the Lord

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jan 13, 2013
      Hagel and The Mansions of the Lord

      There’s nothing anonymous about Death if you’re on the receiving end.

      So said Robert Scheer recently on the NPR program Right, Left and Center in a discussion about the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.

      As we all know by now, Hagel was an enlisted NCO and recipient of two Purple Hearts during his tour in Vietnam, a war that I also was in. Hagel knows a lot about death and how young lives are constantly being lost in wars of questionable value where weaponry is never anonymous.

      When Bad Things Happen To Good People

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Jan 7, 2013
      When Bad Things Happen To Good People

      Since we’re only a few days into the new year, I thought it was a good time to think of renewal, resolution, and perhaps even rebirth, if we insist on sticking to the figurative and not literal meaning. In so doing, though, I was blindsided by a bigger issue – the return of the eternal question of why bad things happen to good people.

      The Great Mystery

      Marriage on Your Mind

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jan 5, 2013
      Marriage on Your Mind

      Way back in the late 80s my late wife Lilian got a good chuckle over a quip she heard when she was studying psychology with the goal of becoming a marriage counselor. It went like this…

      “Marriage is like the cat: those who are in, want out; those who are out, want in.”

      Over all these years I’ve never forgotten that clever little simile as I’ve watched the passing parade of friends, young and old, single or widowed, married for a long time, or newly weds. I’ve also watched myself, especially during the years when I was a widower, tempted a few times to go down a path I know I would have regretted.

      Vanished

      Wounded Knee

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Dec 30, 2012
      Wounded Knee

      Manifest Destiny, How the West Was Won… or Ethnic Cleansing, 19th century style. Take your pick and look into the dark souls of our forebears.

      It wasn’t just that the slaughter was called a battle and that nearly 300 people, mostly women, children, and the elderly died that horrific day in late December 1890. This inhumane and vicious act did more than kill a large number of people. Its terrible swift sword killed something even greater. It marked the end of a culture. It swept away an entire way of life. A proud history was now gone, forever vanished from the Earth

      Boxing Day

      The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Dec 29, 2012
      The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

      On this first day following Christmas, or as my wife who lived in England for two years would call it, Boxing Day, I have awoken to discover it’s the birthday of David Sedaris, the wonderful humorist who once quipped,

      “At the end of a miserable day, instead of grieving my virtual nothing, I can always look at my loaded wastepaper basket and tell myself that if I failed, at least I took a few trees down with me.”

      Perspective

      The Keepers of the Keys

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Dec 27, 2012
      The Keepers of the Keys

      The old Oak outside my window was moaning in the cold this morning as the wind rubbed it up against another Oak. There they stood, fellow travelers for the many years of their journeys growing alongside one another. Noble trees, vigilant and quietly speaking as a new day was just short of dawning.

      As I sat down to listen to them and to read my morning mail in the cold crepuscular hour, I felt the peace and calm of the moments just as the sky starts to lighten.

      Southern People

      Cradle My Soul

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Dec 21, 2012
      Cradle My Soul

      He lay there with one hand slightly raised in mid air off his chest, his fingers curled almost into a claw.

      Richard was gone. Laid out in questionable repose, he was the victim of a bad heart and an inept funeral director. Doctors and morticians had failed him, both in his hour of need and now his presentation.

      He was the only man I’ve ever known who was the victim of a black bear mauling…

      Divine Wind

      Grind It Off

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Dec 18, 2012
      Grind It Off

      “Quit spending all your money on beer and use it to take some pretty girl out to dinner.” And that’s when the young man, who had been through some of the most harrowing naval battles of WWII in the Pacific, decided this pretty girl at the cash register was going to be his bride.

      They’re both in their mid 80s now and as JC greeted us on a recent visit, beaming with his beautiful bride beside him, “I’m happy to tell you that Helen’s been sleeping with me for 62 years, 4 months, 2 days, and last night.”

      Nothing to Ambiguity

      Singing You To Sleep

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Dec 16, 2012
      Singing You To Sleep

      The only thing she took that cold morning were my fingernail clippers.

      She was a woman who told me when we first met that she left nothing to ambiguity.

      I never really knew her exact age, except that she was a little older than I and had been born in Czechoslovakia during the war. She was tall and angular and wore her blond hair flowing.

      Worth Celebrating

      Lost and Found

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Dec 12, 2012
      Lost and Found

      It was the slight gap between her front teeth that gave her away and took my breath.

      I had a feeling when I left home that something special would happen today. So when I saw her coming down the escalator that I was going up, I saw the ghost of Emily, the little girl now grown up and older that I had first fallen in love with and who had loved me back, at least for a few days, when we were on the playground of our elementary school back when the world was much younger and so was I.

      The day had started with a great discovery. I had every reason to smile, since it was the day Emily Dickinson had been born, some 182 years ago.

      God Theory

      Layers of Meaning

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Oct 28, 2012
      Layers of Meaning

      Who presents a more correct answer, Sartre or St Augustine, to the question of whether or not we need a formal religious concept of God to lead a meaningful, moral and complete life?

      Nothing like such a simple question to stir the imagination, to try to decipher a portrait of the human condition as seen through the eyes of such dissimilar intellectuals, one a formative leader of the Christian church in the 3d century, and the other a mid-20th century French survivor of the Nazi occupation. Both shared times of great change and both wrestled with their place in an unstable, insecure and violent world…

      Sharing the Moments

      Dance to the Music of Time

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Oct 1, 2012
      our first grandson

      With my wife Jody gone to Australia until mid October for the birth of our first grandson, Iʼm already reminding myself that I wasnʼt created to live alone. Sure, sure, the first two days or so are different and kind of fun, having a little breathing room in the everyday routine that we both enjoy. Waking up early, walking the dogs, checking the weather, making sure weʼre prepped for the day and what it expects. No big thing, really, since weʼre both retired and are self starters.

      Questions Without Answers

      You Can Come Home Again

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Sep 4, 2012
      You Can Come Home Again

      “Where are Elmer, Herman, Bert, Tom and Charley,
      The weak of will, the strong of arm, the clown, the boozer, the fighter?
      All, all are sleeping on the hill.” …Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

      I recently attended the 50th anniversary of my high school reunion in Columbus, Ohio. The Central Pirates were still alive and well, or at least some of them. There were about 60 of us along with spouses. As the joke goes…

      The Dogs

      The Fox

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Aug 9, 2012
      Hankie the Beagle

      Hankie was hit at least three to four times and went down heavy. Heʼs old and tottery and was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Milo was bitten multiple times, too, but heʼs young and strong and gave more than he took. Abbie joined in the fray and the chase, but was unhurt.

      The Grey FoxThe grey fox was a beautiful animal but something was terribly wrong.

      Lorelei of the Woods Beckon

      Foraging in the Forest

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jul 29, 2012
      Foraging for mushrooms in the leaves

      My darling muse Jody asked me this morning during our daily forage through the woods whether I preferred a wife with mushroom or bedroom eyes? My simple answer is why did I have to choose… after all, the wood nymph has two eyes. How about each!

      There may be drought in the great Midwest and food prices may well rise, but here in eastern West Virginia just on the other side of the Great North Mountain which forms the western ridge of the Shenandoah Valley, we have been blessed with glorious rainfall this summer.

      And with rain coming down, the mushrooms are popping up!

      Remembering

      Farewell To A Fine Fellow

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jul 10, 2012
      Dan and Dot Kasten

      If ever there was such a man, Dan Kasten was the real thing. He decorated our lives with his good fellowship and infectious signature laughter.

      True to form, Dan didn’t like the spotlight on him. At his funeral service in Harrisonburg, Va, in late May, his devoted wife Dot honored his wishes that the service be a tribute to the spiritual life he led and the music he loved rather than to him as an individual. It was not to be about him but what he was about.

      Left with Questions

      What Would Nora Think?

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jun 29, 2012
      What Would Nora Think?

      My bridge collapsed when I heard the searing news that Nora Ephron was dead. She was my generation’s Dorothy Parker, an earlier wit who once quipped that “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.” Ms Ephron wore glasses, but everyone was in love with her. With her passing, we have not only lost a great screenwriter, filmmaker, accomplished playwright and essayist on par with Parker. We have also lost a conscience, a woman who even saw the humor in someone like Clarence Thomas. She was no “Wallflower at the Orgy.”

      The Teeth of Time

      The Meaning of Modernity

      by | 6, Add your Comment | May 31, 2012
      The Meaning of Modernity

      An apocryphal curse against book stealers reads:

      “For him that stealeth a Book from this Library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with Palsy and all his Members blasted. Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy and let there be no surcease to his Agony till he sink to Dissolution. Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails…

      John C. Campbell Folk School

      Stealing Fire

      by | 4, Add your Comment | May 17, 2012
      David Evans Stealing Fire

      My friend told me before I left home that “Just because it isn’t glowin’ doesn’t mean it’s not hot.”

      So the next day I set out from the mountains of northeastern West Virginia along the Shenandoah Valley to the John C. Campbell Folk School (Folkschool.org) in the hills of far western North Carolina to take a week-long class on the basics of blacksmithing.

      Southern Sounds

      Can You Teach Old Dogs …

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Feb 20, 2012
      Can You Teach Old Dogs ...

      How hard can it be to learn to play a musical instrument as an adult?

      Let me tell you, it’s the most difficult adventure I’ve ever set out on in my relatively long and happy life.

      When I was en route to take my weekly piano lesson a little over a week ago, I heard a preview of an upcoming show on NPR’s Science Friday about Gary Marcus who has written a book on what I have been living for the last three and a half years, beginning with alto sax in the fall of 2008 and piano in the summer of 2010. Thanks to the miracle of the program’s “archives,” I could listen to the 30-plus minute account over and over again on Saturday morning. I then downloaded Marcus’ book Guitar Zero, The New Musician and the Science of Learning.

      Southern Roots

      As I Lay Dying, a Tale of Family Ties

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Jan 25, 2012
      As I Lay Dying, a Tale of Family Ties

      Although I now live in retirement in the mountains of eastern West Virginia on the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley, I have always felt the tug of the hill country of Appalachian Ohio along the Ohio River where so much of my DNA is buried. My folk grew up in that land along the Ohio River east of Cincinnati, the descendants of people who had come into Shawnee country in the early 19th century. I feel strongly about family ties and links to the past and am always fearful that we are not doing enough to ensure that our children also know those who came before us.

      In Markets We Trust

      The Dismal Science

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 19, 2012
      Romney GOP dogging in South Carolina

      Like many undergraduate students forced to take Economics 101, I was fond of quoting Thomas Carlyle, the 19th century Scottish writer, essayist and historian, to describe the discipline of economics as “the dismal science.” The term reportedly was inspired by T.R. Malthus’ gloomy prediction that population would always grow faster than food, dooming mankind to unending poverty and hardship.

      Even though my classroom economics is now nearly 50 years old, some of the hair-hurting dismal nature of it is coming back as I struggle to even listen to some of the “highlights” of the Republican debates.

      Suggested Reading

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Dec 19, 2011

      Craftspersonship

      Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On…

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Nov 24, 2011
      John Campbell Folk School

      “Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful;
      but if it is both necessary and useful,
      don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.” — Shaker dictum

      I had the great fortune this past weekend to attend a class on Shaker boxes given by Chris Brooks at the John C. Campbell Folk School in far western North Carolina. In the short time at Campbell, a special place of “big magic” as my friend Robin describes it, a small band of us who are interested in such things nudged around Chris beginning on Friday night to learn a bit about the Shakers and their way of life.

      Recession Gift Ideas

      Christmas 2011 — Birth of a New Tradition

      by | 20, Add your Comment | Nov 6, 2011
      Ebeenzer Scrooge

      In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens confronts a terror- stricken Scrooge with a vision of a dark future of gloom, alienation, and a lonely death that no one grieves:

      ”Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed, ”I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart.”

      And as we all know, Dickens allows Scrooge to recognize his evil ways and to exchange his miserly and miserable life for one of love and care for his family and fellow men.

      Them vs. Us

      You Say You Want Class Warfare?

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Oct 22, 2011
      You Say You Want Class Warfare?

      A friend of mine who reads everything he can get his hands on sent me the following review of Barbara Tuchman’s 1978 A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century:

      In it, the author of The Guns of August writes about a peasant revolt in France in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with the children still watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her husband and then killed her. “

      That is class warfare.

      Arguing over the optimum marginal tax rate for the top one percent is not.

      Southern Funnies

      A Moment of Humor in a Somewhat Humorless World

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Sep 25, 2011
      A Moment of Humor in a Somewhat Humorless World

      In a week when we got clobbered again by a wild Wall Street ride — worse than my blood pressure without meds–and stories of debris the size of a school bus falling out of the sky, I think we’re all due for some humor! And I didn’t even mention the shenanigans of our lawmakers… yikes!

      So tonight after dinner, my wife delighted me by pulling out an old Red Green video. Some people doubt my sense of good taste laughing along to this old geezer from Canada who is head of  the PBS Possum Lodge series. Every week he’s joined by a flock of fellow madcap loonies who use a lot of duct tape, invent imaginative contraptions that seldom work as planned, and try to come up with questionable schemes to make money.

      Southern Conviction

      Moments of Doubt

      by | 10, Add your Comment | Sep 23, 2011
      Moments of Doubt

      But what then is capital punishment but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared? For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life. -Albert Camus, writer, philosopher, Nobel laureate (1913-1960)

      Recently I heard about a bunch of WWII German POWs who had been incarcerated in a camp in the Arizona desert in 1943. A lot of them had been U-Boat sailors and wanted to get back to the war and continue sinking Allied ships. They feigned a great interest in volleyball and convinced their American guards to give them shovels so they could improve their playing surface. What they were really doing, though, was digging an elaborate escape tunnel.

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