It’s been a long day

spaghetti-pasta-cheese-dinner

If one day you become sick of words, as happens to us all, and you grow tired of hearing them, of saying them; if whichever you choose seems worn out, dull, disabled; if you feel nauseated when you hear ‘horrible’ or ‘divine’ for some everyday occurrence – you’ll not be cured, obviously, by alphabet soup.

You must do the following: cook a plate of al dente spaghetti dressed with the simplest seasoning – garlic, oil and chili. Over the pasta toss in this mixture, grate a layer of Parmesan cheese. To the right of the deep plate full of the spaghetti thus prepared, place an open book. To the left, place an open book. In front of it a full glass of red wine. Any other company is not recommended. Turn the pages of each book at random, but they must both be poetry. Only good poets cure us of an overindulgence in words. Only simple essential food cures us of gluttony.”

Héctor Abad Faciolince, from Recipes for Sad Women


Notes:

It’s been a long day

dance-car-traffic

I-95 N.

Leaving work early.

Traffic has slowed to crawl at the notorious rush hour bottleneck at Exit 8 in Stamford, 10 minutes from home. There’s a towering billboard overhead shouting: Think Train. (Or something like it. Let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story.)

My Speed: < 5 mph and slowing. Red tail lights flashing and aglow in all directions on six lanes.

There was unusual calm in this moment on the asphalt.

And then ––

There’s the unmistakeable crush of metal on metal…

I snap my head up to see an oncoming car bearing down on me in the rear view mirror.

Everything moves in hyper slow motion now…

I brace for impact. [Read more…]

Miracle. All of it.

turtle-nesting

They come, lumbering, from the many ponds. They dare the dangers of path, dogs, the highway, the accumulating heat that their bodies cannot regulate, or the equally stunning, always possible cold. Take one, then. She has reached the edge of the road, now she slogs up the impossible hill. When she slides back she rests for a while, then trundles forward again. Emerging wet from the glittering caves of the pond, she travels in a coat of glass and dust. Where the sand clings thickly the mosquitoes, that hover about her like a gray veil, are frustrated. Not about her eyes, though, for as she blinks the sand falls; so at her tough, old face-skin those winged needles hang until their bodies fill, like tiny vials, with her bright blood. Each of the turtles is a female, and gravid, and is looking for a place to dig her nest. […]

I saw the tracks immediately— they swirled back and forth across the shuffled sand of the path. They seemed the design of indecision, but I am not sure. In three places a little digging had taken place. A false nest? A foot giving a swipe or two of practice motion? A false visual clue for the predator to come? I leashed my two dogs and looked searchingly until I saw her, at one side of the path, motionless and sand-spattered. Already she was in the nest— or, more likely, leaving it. For she will dig through the sand until she all but vanishes— sometimes until there is nothing visible but the top of her head. Then, when the nesting is done, she thrusts the front part of her body upward so that she is positioned almost vertically, like a big pie pan on edge. Beneath her, as she heaves upward, the sand falls into the cavity of the nest, upon the heaped, round eggs. She sees me, and does not move. The eyes, though they throw small light, are deeply alive and watchful. If she had to die in this hour and for this enterprise, she would, without hesitation. She would slide from life into death, still with that pin of light in each uncordial eye, intense and as loyal to the pumping of breath as anything in this world.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Sister Turtle” in Upstream: Selected Essays (2016)

 


Notes:

  • Photo: Brent Fleming, Nesting Sea Turtle
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Sunday Morning

cloud-sea-black-and-white

Form is certainty. All nature knows this, and we have no greater adviser. Clouds have forms, porous and shape-shifting, bumptious, fleecy. They are what clouds need to be, to be clouds. See a flock of them come, on the sled of the wind, all kneeling above the blue sea. And in the blue water, see the dolphin built to leap, the sea mouse skittering; see the ropy kelp with its air-filled bladders tugging it upward; see the albatross floating day after day on its three-jointed wings. Each form sets a tone, enables a destiny, strikes a note in the universe unlike any other.

How can we ever stop looking?

How can we ever turn away?

~ Mary Oliver, from “Staying Alive” in Upstream: Selected Essays (2016)

 


Photo: Stefan Krauss @ Stars Fell on Livaniana (in Crete near village of Livaniana).

 

 

So?

nigel-cox-in-timberland

So you aren’t Tolstoy or St. Francis
or even a well-known singer
of popular songs and will never read Greek
or speak French fluently,
will never see something no one else
has seen before through a lens
or with the naked eye.

You’ve been given just the one life
in this world that matters
and upon which every other life
somehow depends as long as you live,
and also given the costly gifts of hunger,
choice, and pain with which to raise
a modest shrine to meaning.

~ Leonard Nathan, “So?”

 


Notes:

 

 

Running. With Beats.

landscape-sunset-sunrise

It’s all incomprehensible, really, including my pitiful attempt to explain it, akin to Brickell’s grasping of a single drop of rain in a thunderstorm.

The tide rushes in under the bridge. The moon, while aging on its 4.5 billionth birthday, remains stout in its efforts and its consistency. It leans in causing the oceans to swell – high tide here, low tide below me on the other side. The other side that is, China. Digging to China with a plastic shovel, scooping wet dirt on a beach in August, so many years ago in youth, yet the cool gritty sand remains on the fingertips.

A brilliant October sunrise. Mechanical in its efficiency, spectacular in its beauty. None exactly the same, this one never to be seen again.

The wind gusts. Leaves scatter from a large red maple, burning, on fire. Seasons pass orderly one after the other, slower than page turns, but they turn, ever so gently one to the next. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning

rain-drop-light-flower-garden

I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday.

It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain.

You can feel the silent and invisible life.

― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead: A Novel

 


Notes: Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: Celeste Mookherjee

If you live to be very old, you may see twelve hundred full moons

One world trade center

If you live to be very old, you may see twelve hundred full moons. Some come in winter and you trudge out into the deep snow to stand beneath their glow. Others come to you in the city and you take an elevator up to the roof of the highest building and set out a couple of folding chairs to watch it glide across the sky. Or the moon finds you along a foreign shore and you paddle out in some dingy and scoop its reflection from the waters and drink it down. The moons of your old age are the most potent but seem few and far between. They make their way into your marrow and teach it how to hum. When your final moon arrives, it’s as if youth has come back to you. Though instead of flaunting its yellow hat, now it’s dressed in black.

~ David Shumate, “An Inventory of Moons” from Kimonos in the Closet


Notes:

Cancer, you’re not invited

tom-brokaw-cancer

For most of my adult life I have answered the question “Occupation?” with one word: journalist. I still do, but now I am tempted to add a phrase.

Cancer patient…

Even in remission, cancer alters a patient’s perception of what’s normal. Morning, noon and night, asleep and awake, malignant cells are determined to alter or end your life…

Age alone puts me in my twilight years; and cancer only heightens that objective reality. Yet I am not consumed by the prospect of death. When it intermittently enters my consciousness it has an abstract quality. I can’t quite get a grip on how this life might end…

Whenever I engage in this kind of reflection I fault myself for not shifting into a lower gear. What happened to the sailing lessons, the calligraphy course, that short story I had hoped to publish? […]

Cancer fund-raising events? Yes, if the distance and demands are not onerous. But is it possible that NBC News coverage of the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, two very long plane rides away, would not be at all affected by my absence? I think it is.

Maybe it would be better if I just gathered our five grandchildren and we watched the occasion on television as I answered their questions. Then we would all go for Chinese food and plan our next get together.

Cancer, you’re not invited.

Don’t miss full essay by Tom Brokaw @ Tom Brokaw: Learning to Live With Cancer

 

So fresh, so fleeting

dew-light-green

Dew evaporates
And all our world is dew…so dear,
So fresh, so fleeting.

~ Issa, 1763 – 1828, on the death of his child

 


Notes:

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