Thursday, October 19, 2017

Remembering Smiley

My string career began in 6th grade (I played trombone for a short while in 5th) and was nurtured through High School by Mrs. Llewellyn. Over the summer breaks, Mrs. L. made me tapes to keep me inspired and practicing. One of those tapes contained a recording of Elgar's Cello Concertos performed by Jacqueline De Pre and I nearly wore that tape out (Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings" was also on that tape and that piece touched my soul).

That concerto captivated me so I listened to Smiley as much as I could, as many recordings as I could find or have made. She was my muse back then and from time to time, I still like to listen or watch her "play" at play.

Jacqueline would be 72 this year, but she died at age 42. Her career was very short due to Multiple Sclerosis and she ended her professional career at 27. Nevertheless, she inspired me. So on this anniversary of her passing, I hope you'll take some time to be inspired by Smiley.

At least start at the 10:14 mark and let it roll to 12:50 and see if her spirit catches on.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Intellectual Power Of The Soul (re-post)

There is a saying, “favor is the currency of God.” If favor were the result of fate or destiny then due to the impersonality of fate or destiny, favor becomes meaningless. If favor were the outcome of a game or even good deeds, then favor would be a wage. Favor is the “currency” of God, a blessing.

The life of Sir John Davies (1569 - 1626), the English Renaissance lawyer and parliamentarian under Queen Elizabeth (and late contemporary of Sir Philip Sidney) is a wonderful illustration of one who received this blessing of favor.

Davies wrote and published in 1599 a book called Nosce Te Ipsum, or “Know Thyself.” When Davies was presented to King James (yes, the same King James of the 1611 Bible) Davies was already a favorite of Queen Elizabeth. When King James inquired if the man before him was the author of the Nosce Te Ipsum, the King "embraced him and conceived a considerable liking for him." Davies was later appointed to be Solicitor General for Ireland when he was knighted in 1603, became Speaker to the Irish House of Commons (1613 -1615) and then Attorney General to Ireland. [1] King James really liked this collection of poems, and God blessed Davies with a way to bring glory to Himself through his position!

What was in Davies writing to receive such adulation from the British nobility? Below is a sample from Davies’ king-embracing work. This particular poem describes the intellectual power of the soul:

"But now I haue a will, yet want a wit
To expresse the working of the wit and will
Which though their root be to the body knit
Use not the body when they vse their skill
powers the nature of the Soule declare
For to man's soule these onely proper bee
For on the Earth no other wights there are
That haue these heauenly powers but only we."

(excerpt from a previous post, 5/2010>

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Americans: Natural-born Hunters?

"We have inherited many attitudes from our recent ancestors who wrestled this continent as Jacob wrestled the angel, and the pioneers won. From them we take a belief that every American is a natural-born hunter. And every fall a great number of men set out to prove that without talent, training, knowledge, or practice they are dead shots with rifle or shotgun. The results are horrid . . . .

If I were hungry, I would happily hunt anything that runs or crawls or flies, even relatives, and tear them down with my teeth. But it isn't hunger that drives millions of armed American males into forests and hills every autumn . . . . Somehow the hunting process has to do with masculinity, but I don't quite know how. I know there are any number of good and efficient hunters who know what they are doing; but many more are overweight gentlemen, primed with whiskey and armed with high-powered rifles. They shoot at anything that moves or looks like it might, and their success in killing one another may well prevent a population explosion . . . .

A farmer in upstate New York painted the word cow in big black letters on both sides of his white bossy but the hunters shot it anyway." (Steinbeck, "Travels With Charley", pp. 56-57)

photo credit: factoid news

Monday, October 16, 2017

"Don Quixote" by Gorgon Lightfoot

Through the woodland, through the valley
Comes a horseman wild and free
Tilting at the windmills passing
Who can the brave young horseman be

He is wild but he is mellow
He is strong but he is weak
He is cruel but he is gentle
He is wise but he is meek 

Reaching for his saddlebag
He takes a battered book into his hand
Standing like a prophet bold
He shouts across the ocean to the shore
Till he can shout no more 

I have come o'er moor and mountain
Like the hawk upon the wing
I was once a shining knight
Who was the guardian of a king

I have searched the whole world over
Looking for a place to sleep
I have seen the strong survive
And I have seen the lean grown weak 

See the children of the earth
Who wake to find the table bare
See the gentry in the country
Riding off to take the air

Reaching for his saddlebag
He takes a rusty sword into his hand
Then striking up a knightly pose
He shouts across the ocean to the shore
Till he can shout no more

See the jailor with his key
Who locks away all trace of sin
See the judge upon the bench
Who tries the case as best he can

See the wise and wicked ones
Who feed upon life's sacred fire
See the soldier with his gun
Who must be dead to be admired

See the man who tips the needle
See the man who buys and sells
See the man who puts the collar
On the ones who dare not tell

See the drunkard in the tavern
Stemming gold to make ends meet
See the youth in ghetto black
Condemned to life upon the street

Reaching for his saddlebag
He takes a tarnished cross into his hand
Then standing like a preacher now
He shouts across the ocean to the shore

Then in a blaze of tangled hooves
He gallops off across the dusty plain
In vain to search again
Where no one will hear

Through the woodland, through the valley
Comes a horseman wild and free
Tilting at the windmills passing
Who can the brave young horseman be

He is wild but he is mellow
He is strong but he is weak
He is cruel but he is gentle
He is wise but he is meek

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hickory Nut Falls

The final battle scene in "Last Of The Mohicans" was filmed at the top of these falls near Chimney Rock, NC.

Enjoyed a nice hike to see the 400+ foot wonder up close, with a nice view back across the valley.

"Invictus" by William Ernest Henley

source: wikipedia
Out of the night that covers me, 
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"The Bridge Builder" by Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hickory Nut Falls

"The Words" by Gene Fowler (1965)

I carry boulders across the day
From the field to the ridge,
and my back grows tired …
I take a drop of sweat
Onto my thumb
Watch the wind furrow its surface,
Dream of a morning
When my furrows will shape this field,
When these rocks will form my house.
Alone, with heavy arms,
I listen through the night to older farms.

(an allegory on working through "writer's block")

Thursday, October 12, 2017

No Surrender

"During the previous winter I had become ill with one of those carefully named difficulties which are the whisper of approaching age. When I came out of it I received the usual lecture about slowing up, losing weight, limiting cholesterol intake. It happens to many men, and I think doctors have memorized the litany. It happened to so many of my friends. The lecture ends, 'slow down. You're not as young as you once were.' And I had seen so many begin to pack their lives in cotton wool, smother their impulses, hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood into a kind of spiritual and physical semi-individualism. In this they are encouraged by wives and relatives, and it's such a sweet trap . . .

. . . I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock of missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for small gain in yardage."

(Steinbeck, "Travels With Charley," pp. 19-20)

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"The Wisdom Of A Third Grade Drop Out"

Yesterday my wife shared this video with me. She watched it in one of her Communications courses with a view toward understanding the power of words. We've watched it many times already. It's worth the time. There are golden nuggets in what this man has to say.

Words are powerful and why shouldn't they be? God created all things with a word (God said . . . and there was). Have you ever noticed that when God created, He named what He created--except for the animals. After God formed man with His hands, He said (in so many words), "You name them. Be creative with words." That's why words are powerful.

That's why they get stuck in your head, in your heart. Used properly or poorly, words are powerful. Silence is powerful, too, which is why a wise man takes time to choose his words before speaking. Or at least he should. One should value silence as much as the words he chooses.

The point I'd like to make, to include this in my blog series is this: be moved to do something different with your life.

"If you think you can or think you can't, you're right." (Henry Ford)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Prayer" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"How easy it is
for me to live with you, Lord.
How easy it is to believe in you
when my mind reels from not understanding,
or when my mind weakens–
when the most intelligent people cannot think
beyond the evening and do not know
what must be done tomorrow.
You convey to me the
lucid assurance that you exist,
that you will see to it that not all paths
toward good will be closed.
At the peak of earthly renown
I look back with amazement at
that road which by no stretch of the imagination
I could have devised–
A remarkable road through despair
which has led me here
where I too have been able
to send mankind
reflections of your rays–
As for what I
won’t have time or ability for–
This means that you have
reserved it for others."

Monday, October 09, 2017

Fuel For Life-long Learning

The following is a non-comprehensive list of recommended books ranging from biography to philosophy; fiction and non-fiction; entertainment to "know-how" (arrange those in any order you wish). There is no one source for this list as most of the books are found in lists provided by various entities such as Penguin Books, The Great Books Of The Western World, or on a few sites I follow such as Good Reads, The Modern Library. Few that appear here are found on The Art of Manliness site.

I do not endorse the content or message of every book named; however, this (let me repeat) "non-comprehensive list" acknowledges significant contributions of these works to our present our thought and culture.

The list is divided into two parts: "Books Read" (what I've finished in this suggested list--not sure I could list every book I've read) and "Books On My List" (books that remain unread from a suggested list).

  1. The Bible (all 66 books)
  2. The Qu'ran
  3. Alighieri, "The Divine Comedy"
  4. Ambrose, "Undaunted Courage" 
  5. Aristotle, "Metaphysics"
  6. "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin"
  7. Bradbury, "Fahrenheit 451"
  8. Carnegie, "How To Win Friends and Influence People"
  9. Conrad, "Heart of Darkness"
  10. DaFoe, "Robinson Crusoe"
  11. Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities"
  12. de Cervantes Saavedra, "Don Quixote"
  13. Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby"
  14. Frankl, "Man's Search For Meaning"
  15. Golding, "Lord of the Flies"
  16. Heller, "Catch 22"
  17. Hemingway, "The Old Man and the Sea"
  18. Herodotus, "The Histories"
  19. Homer, "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey"
  20. Hugo, "Les Miserables"
  21. Huxley, "Brave New World"
  22. Kafka, "The Metamorphosis"
  23. Knowles, "A Separate Peace"
  24. Krakauer, "Into The Wild"
  25. Krakauer, "Into Thin Air"
  26. London, "Call of the Wild"
  27. McCarthy, "Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West"
  28. McCarthy, "The Road"
  29. Melville, "Moby Dick"
  30. Milton, "Paradise Lost"
  31. Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil"
  32. Nietzsche, "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"
  33. Orwell, "1984"
  34. Orwell, "Animal Farm"
  35. Plato, "The Republic"
  36. Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front"
  37. Rostand, "Cyrano de Bergerac"
  38. Salinger, "The Catcher In The Rye"
  39. Shakespeare, "Hamlet"
  40. Shelley, "Frankenstein"
  41. Stevenson, "Treasure Island"
  42. Steinbeck, "Cannery Row"
  43. Steinbeck, "East of Eden"
  44. Steinbeck, "The Grapes of Wrath"
  45. Steinbeck, "The Pearl"
  46. Thoreau, "Walden"
  47. Tolkien, "The Hobbit" 
  48. Twain, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
  49. Tzu, "The Art of Warfare"
  50. Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse-Five"
  51. Wells, "The Island of Dr. Moreau"
  52. Wilde, "The Picture of Dorian Gray"
  53. Wright, "Black Boy"
  54. Wright, "Native Son"
  55. Wright, "Uncle Tom's Children"
  56. Wyss, "Swiss Family Robinson"
BOOKS ON MY LIST (I own most of these, just haven't read them yet):
  1. Aristotle, "The Politics"
  2. Bulgakov, "The Master and Margarita "
  3. Camus, "The Stranger"
  4. De Pizan, "The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry"
  5. Delillo, "White Noise"
  6. Dostoevsky, "Brothers Karamazov"
  7. Dostoevsky, "Crime And Punishment"
  8. Dostoevsky, "The Idiot"
  9. Dumas, "The Count of Monte Cristo"
  10. Eco, "Foucault's Pendulum"
  11. Ellison, "Invisible Man " 
  12. Emerson, "Self-Reliance & Other Essays" 
  13. Greitens, "Resilience"
  14. Haggard, "King Solomon's Mines"
  15. Hamilton, Jay, Madison, "The Federalist Papers"
  16. Hemingway, "A Farewell to Arms"
  17. Hemingway, "For Whom The Bell Tolls"
  18. Hesse, "Steppenwolf"
  19. Hobbes, "Leviathan"
  20. Johnson, "Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond"
  21. Jones, "The Thin Red Line"
  22. Joyce, "Ulysses"
  23. Kerouac, "The Dharma Bums"
  24. Kerouac, "On The Road"
  25. Kierkegaard, "Fear and Trembling"
  26. L’Amour, "Education of a Wandering Man" 
  27. Machiavelli, "The Prince"
  28. MacIntyre, "After Virtue"
  29. Maclean, "A River Runs Through It"
  30. Mailer, "The Naked And The Dead"
  31. Manchester, "The Last Lion Trilogy"
  32. Marquez, "One Hundred Years of Solitude" 
  33. McMurtry, "Lonesome Dove"
  34. "The Autobiography of Malcolm X"
  35. Morris, "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" 
  36. Morris, "Theodore Rex"
  37. Paulson, "Hatchet"
  38. Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"
  39. Plutarch, "Lives"
  40. Pressfield, "Gates of Fire"
  41. Rand, "Atlas Shrugged"
  42. Robbins, "Another Roadside Attraction"
  43. Roosevelt, "The Rough Riders"
  44. Sinclair, "Oil!"
  45. Smith, "The Wealth of Nations"
  46. Theroux, "The Great Railway Bazaar"
  47. Toole, "A Confederacy of Dunces"
  48. Vonnegut, "Bluebeard"

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Be A Lifelong Learner

"Life is divided into three parts: past, present, and future. Of these, the present is brief, the future doubtful, the past certain. For this last is the category over which fortune no longer has control, and which cannot be brought back under anyone's power. Preoccupied people lose this part; for they have no leisure to look back at the past, and even if they had it, there's no pleasure in recalling some- thing regrettable. And so they're unwilling to turn their minds back to times badly spent, and they dare not revisit the past because their vices become obvious in retrospect . . .

 . . . We are led by the work of others into the presence of the most beautiful treasures, which have been pulled from darkness and brought to light. From no age are we debarred, we have access to all; and if we want to transcend the narrow limitations of human weakness by our expansiveness of mind, there is a great span of time for us to range over. We can debate with Socrates, entertain doubt with Carneades, be at peace with Epicurus, overcome human nature with the Stoics, and go beyond it with the Cynics. . . .

 . . . who'll want to have Zeno, Pythagoras, Democritus, and the other high priests of philosophical study, and Aristotle and Theophrastus, as their closest companions every day. None of these will ever be unavailable to you, none of these will fail to send his visitor off in a happier condition and more at ease with himself. None will let anyone leave empty handed; they can be approached by all mortals by night and by day. None of these philosophers will force you to die, but all will teach you how.

On the Shortness of LifeNone of them will diminish your years, but each will share his own years with you. With none of them will conversation be dangerous, friendship life threatening, or cultivation of them ex- pensive. From them you'll take whatever you wish; it will be no fault of theirs if you fail to take in the very fullest amount you have room for. What happiness, what a fine old age lies in store for the per- son who's put himself under the patronage of these people! He'll have friends whose advice he can seek on the greatest or least important matters, whom he can consult daily about himself, from whom he can hear the truth without insult and receive praise without fawning, and who will provide a model after which to fashion himself."

(Lucius Seneca c. 4 BC – AD 65)

Saturday, October 07, 2017

"A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What the heart of the young man said to the psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Stop Wasting Time

On the Shortness of Life"Your sort live as if you're going to live forever, your own human frailty never enters your head, you don't keep an eye on how much time has passed already. You waste time as if it comes from a source full to overflowing, when all the while that very day which is given over to someone or something may be your last. You're like ordinary mortals in fearing everything, you're like immortals in coveting everything." (Lucius Seneca c. 4 BC – AD 65)

Thursday, October 05, 2017

How Wide Your Horizons?

Travels with Charley: In Search of America"Charley is a tall dog. As he sat in the seat beside me, he head was almost as high as mine. He put his nose close to my ear and said, 'Ftt.' He is the only dog I ever knew who could pronounce the consonant F. This is because his front teeth are crooked, a tragedy which keeps him out of dog shows; because his upper front teeth slightly engage his lower lip Charley can pronounce F. The word 'Ftt" usually means he would like to salute a bush or a tree. I opened the cab door and let him out, and he went about his ceremony. He doesn't have to think about it to do it well. It my experience that in some areas Charley is more intelligent than I am, but in others he is abysmally ignorant. He can't read, can't drive a car, and has no grasp of mathematics. But in his own field of endeavor, which he was now practicing, the slow, imperial smelling over and anointing of an area, he has no peer. Of course his horizons are limited, but how wide are mine?"

(Steinbeck, "Travels With Charley," p. 24)

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

"As a man thinks . . . "

Proverbs 23:7
  • כִּי כְּמֹו־שָׁעַר בְּנַפְשֹׁו כֶּן־הוּא
  • "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (KJV)
  • "For as he thinks within himself, so he is" (NASB)
  • "for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost" (NIV)
  • "for he is like one who is inwardly reckoning" (RSV)
  • "For as one that hath reckoned within himself, so is he" (Tanakh, 1917)
"A man is what he thinks about all day long." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes." (Ghandi)

“A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.” (James Allen)

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

"The Quitter" by Robert W. Service

Yesterday we considered Robert W. Service's poem, "The Men Who Don't Fit In." Today's meditation focuses on another of Service's poem that harmonizes well with "the rolling stone" of a man who has his own place in the world, the man who is not like the rest.

What separates the Quitter from the Winner? It's not motivation. Motivation is external, it is easy. Quitting is easy. Finishing is hard. One person may feel moved by this or that but the very same sentiment may not even touch another person. Motivation comes and goes. No, what keeps a man moving forward is discipline. Discipline is like a blade and every choice a man makes either dulls the blade or keeps it sharp. Discipline and strength go hand-in-hand.

Think about how this truth surfaces in Service's poem, "The Quitter."

When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it's according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it's easy to blow . . .
It's the hell-served-for-breakfast that's hard.

"You're sick of the game!" Well, now, that's a shame.
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know — but don't squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It's the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it's so easy to quit:
It's the keeping-your-chin-up that's hard.

It's easy to cry that you're beaten — and die;
It's easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope's out of sight —
Why, that's the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try — it's dead easy to die,
It's the keeping-on-living that's hard.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Lift Them Up

"The Men Who Don't Fit In" by Robert W. Service

Robert W. Service (1874 - 1958) a.k.a "the Canadian Kipling" and "the Bard of the Yukon" held this perspective: "The only society I like is that which is rough and tough - and the tougher the better. That's where you get down to bedrock and meet human people."

Service's poem, "The Men Who Don't Fit In" tells the story of restless men who make their own kind of mark in the world. One detail not to miss: watch as Service moves from plural to singular, culling one man out of the herd (as it were) who makes the realization that he's not only grown old, but there's more life to live--but how will he do it? Makes me wonder if this poem influenced Stan Wilson to write, "can't lose my way, all directions are the same when i'm travelin' . . . I'm just a rolling stone."

Enjoy Robert W. Service's poem recited in the video (below), filmed with creative interpretation by Christopher Herwig while hiking across Iceland in 2010.

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Front Porch Sunday Afternoon

On: The Shortness Of Life

On the Shortness of Life"It's not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it's been given to us in generous measure for accomplishing the greatest things, if the whole of it is well invested. But when life is squandered through soft and careless living, and when it's spent on no worthwhile pursuit, death finally presses and we realize that the life which we didn't notice passing has passed away. So it is: the life we are given isn't short but we make it so; we're not ill provided but we are wasteful of life. Just as impressive and princely wealth is squandered in an instant when it passes into the hands of a poor manager, but wealth however modest grows through careful deployment if it is entrusted to a responsible guardian, just so our lifetime offers ample scope to the person who maps it out well. . . . Life, if you know how to use it, is long."

(Lucius Seneca c. 4 BC – AD 65)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Rainbow Shark

Earlier this month we were picking our daughter up from work when glancing out the window I spied this boney rainbow shark-cloud. Glad I got a pic before it faded away.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


The other day we took a short road trip (no more than two hours, tops) up some back-roads to Ridgeway, SC then on up to Winnsboro, SC. Not much to see in Winnsboro but the South Carolina Railroad Museum and a stop sign that holds your attention long enough to read the green sign that points left to "Columbia." A right turn will take you to a red light that, if you wait long enough to make a left turn, will take you to a little dive that serves greasy burgers and good southern fixins'.

Park in the dirt, step up onto the porch and in the door on your right and wait your turn to place your order in line past the tiny tables that, with ten people, completely fill the joint. Belly up to the counter that is no more than a shoulder-wide and tell the lady what you'll have. When she calls, grab your baskets and make your way out the door on the left and enjoy the sweltering summer heat that keeps the grease draining from your burger and nice cold tea. Or a Coke.

But if'n you stayed around Ridgeway, you'll discover along the city center no more than two city blocks long, a nice selection of antique shops that folks will make the drive from just about anywhere for. Yes, they have their regular customers. And if'n your tired, enjoy a sidewalk rocking chair. Or head on over to Laura's Tea Room at the end of the block for some refresh-mint (ladies, enjoy "High Tea" upstairs, but make a reservation).

I couldn't help but recall John Steinbeck's observation about New England antique shops from his book, "Travels With Charley: In Search of America."

Travels with Charley: In Search of America
"I can never get used to the thousands of antique shops along the roads, all bulging with authentic and attested trash from an earlier time. I believe the population of the thirteen colonies was less than four million souls, and every one of them must have been frantically turning out tables, chairs, china, glass, candle molds, and oddly shaped bits of iron, copper, and brass for future sale to twentieth-century tourists. There are enough antiques for sale along the roads of New England alone to furnish the houses of a population of fifty million." 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Went For A Drive

Saturday, we just got in the car and drove.
Didn't go far. Just down the road a piece.
Beautiful day to just get out.
Visited Ridgeway, SC (population: 303).
625 feet above Sea Level.

Leslie's waiting outside the Ridgeway Police Department.
She don't see I escaped and am across the skreet.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


24 Squats
24 Push-ups
24 Walking lunge steps
Run 400 meters

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Here We Go Again

ht: Analisa Crowder for making this.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


This show is going on 10 years now, but who cares.
Just finished Season 1 and started Season 2.
Binge-worthy. Streaming now on Netflix.
Makes you want to get out and see the world.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Hidden Figures"

Watch this movie.
Enjoy this movie.
Learn from this movie.
Be inspired by this movie.
Be "the first."

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hurricane Prep, Day 4

Different forecasters have different models but looks like we're still in "the cone."

My prediction is the storm will move more westward before turning North--if it turns at all. Regardless, until it move on by, our guard remains "up." Today, matters will be more "around-the-house" focused--in no particular order.
  1. Car's already gassed up, so that's done.
  2. Pick up prescriptions;
  3. Get the house clean, per usual;
  4. Clean gutters and make certain yard drains are clear;
  5. Make room in the garage to bring in outside furniture and garbage cans;
  6. Tie down or remove fence gate altogether (latch is broken and having that heavy things banging in high wind can be dangerous).
  7. Take down outside lights, windchimes and the Flag;
  8. Charge all the chargeables (batteries, cell phones, laptops);
  9. Fill all the fillables (maybe on Sunday, if it looks like weather's turning);
  10. Get reading material together (see sidebar).
I'm sure other things will demand attention as time goes by.

One thing that bothers me: yesterday's map and today's map show two different dates in two different places. The top left header of yesterday's read "15-Sept" and today's reads "14-Sept" yet both also show the correct date on the bottom right of the header.  There's no indication the upper left dates are projections TO that date but it is connected to the copyright. Not sure what that means. Just makes me wonder. 

Friday, September 08, 2017

Hurricane Prep, Day 3 "Two Cases, No Exceptions"

Decided to make a couple stops on the way to the house last evening, one stop being at a smaller local grocery store. Signs taped on the door said "Two cases of water per customer. No Exceptions."

I took that to be a good sign that water was available, so though I already have a water plan in place, thought I should take advantage of the opportunity. I grabbed the last basket and we made our way in.

Boy was the place busy.

Not far from the registers were pallets of gallon-size bottles with a sign "2 for $1.39." Noted. $1.39, huh? For a case?

as of 6:00 a.m. today, by Intellicast
Made our way to the back of the store and found one pallet with a couple cases of water left, six gallons per case. I lifted a case into our basket and left the other for someone else.

Finishing our shopping, we were behind another fellow who (among other things) had an identical case of water. The store manager standing nearby saw our cases and came over, "you can only have two" and he pointed to the gallon size water bottles behind him.

Together, the fellow in front and I pointed out that we only had one--case. We did not want to buy two bottles but wanted to buy one case though two were allowed. "No Exceptions."

Something was not right and as I started to think, the manager shook his head. "You can't have a case. You can only have two bottles."

"The signs on the door and the sign behind that register," I pointed out," says 'Two cases of water per customer. No Exceptions.'" It was coming to me . . .

With a heavy sigh, the manager shrugged and told the cashier "just let these cases go. No more after this. Bottles only," and he walked away.

Leaving the store, I couldn't help but notice the signs that read, "Two cases of water per customer. No Exceptions" remained taped to the doors.

Then it hit me: "Two cases of water per customer. No Exceptions"

Maybe I should go back for the other case owed to me as ONE case seemed to be an exception . . .

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hurricane Prep, Day 2

University officials announced this morning that school will be closed Monday, September 11 due to the size of Hurricane Irma and the potential damages. This may also give some students an opportunity to find safe retreat with family or friends in other locations over the long weekend. 

HT: Marti

A friend of ours (not a student) isn't worried.
When commenting on the hurricane she said, "100 miles from the coast; 1 mile to the closest bar."

I'm not worried either as my bar is in the garage. On the weight bench.

Got back-up water bottles frozen and bags of ice stashed away. Just need to fill the coolers when it's time. 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Hurricane Prep

Hurricane Irma has slammed into Puerto Rico and at this point, the storm could still turn any direction. Regardless, our state has been placed under state of emergency by the governor. So with that in mind, the mix of overcast skies and a little rain made folks go a bit nuts. Already. 

Gas prices have been riding high for a few days now, but the stores are getting hit fairly hard. The store parking lot was full of cars and I witnessed folks sauntering out carrying loaves of bread and jugs of milk like prizes won in a fight. 

Inside the store it was not terribly bad--attitudes were good--but the water was gone. And the bread. Plenty of milk though, and eggs were 59 cents. So we loaded up on bread items that were left--though I can't figure out why all the sliced bread was gone but not the Ciabatta rolls. I'm not ashamed to put a slice of Spam on Ciabatta if I have to. Thanks for leaving the good stuff!

Plenty of water-bearing fresh fruit left. Especially the watermelon. Ok, you can't make coffee with watermelon, but there's lots of vitamins in watermelon and it's tasty. Didn't need to buy any watermelon though--grew my own. It's cut up and in the freezer. 

Got plenty of beans and tortillas. Just in case. New Mexican survival food. 
Every New Mexican needs beans and tortillas to survive. It's a daily thing for us. 
And chips.
And salsa (note to self: "check salsa". A half jar is an empty jar.)

Got other canned goods, meats. 

Bet you're wondering about the water. Well, I have a solution. While folks were getting panicky trying to find cases of bottled water, I remembered what we did during the Great Flood of 2015 (triggered!). Going to fill up all my coolers just before the storm hits (in case it comes up this way) and store them like mini reservoirs. Also, got my CamelBak, collapsing bottles and plenty of Army and Navy water bottles and the like--filling those up and stick 'em in the freezer (not the CamelBak tho). Things like that. I don't believe we'll need to buy water. 

Just need to make certain cell phones and back-up batteries are charged. 
Better find the board games, too. 
Just in case.

My only complaint about shopping: that kid--you know who you are--who snuck that box of Ding Dongs into my basket--you should be ashamed of yourself. 

I had to buy them and take them home. 

"Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat"

Thor Heyerdahl born this day in 1916.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Silver Lining

Enjoy this amazing pre-sunset view.

Monday, September 04, 2017

"A Miracle . . ."

 . . . or something terrible happened," observed our son when we came around the corner and found this in the aisle.

Sunday, September 03, 2017


or as our Granddaughter says, "Shooshi"
And if you're interested, my fortune cookie read, "Speak softly and sweetly."


Friday, September 01, 2017

Trail Run

Took a trail run at lunch today. 2.67 miles in 40 minutes and some change.

I ran the trail "backwards" today because, well, this hill's been climbed enough. It was time to run down it today. A kind of a victory run, as it were. I needed a little victory run today. Tired of getting my butt kicked. Thought I would kick back today.

Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of work getting to the top and by the time I decided to record this part of the descent, I had already come down quite a ways. And there were two more very large hills yet to climb before I got back to the start. Impossible to get anywhere around here without climbing a hill or seven.

Today I just needed to get out in nature where nothing's in a hurry and everything's on time.

Out on the trails, the only sound heard is the wind in the trees, the birds and squirrels gossiping, the occasional "plop" of someone's fishing line as they hide in the bushes on the banks of a private lake and the huff of an old fat guy running through the woods.

Nature takes it's time out there. Took a gazillion years for every rock to find it's place, for every tree to grow and die and fall and grow again. A terribly busy place for so much to happen so slowly. And everything's right where it should be.

A place where leaves to sprout and grow and flourish and wither and die and fall and eventually find the light of day once as they push out the end of a branch all over again just as they've done a hundred or more tree rings ago.

A place where the Oak and Elm and Sassafras watch the rain peel away layers of earth like an onion, like the skin off some complicated and overly emotional ogre, like scales washing off a dragon who turns out to be an old man with a boyish heart . . . forever refusing to grow up and ancient. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Rooftop View

Looking down onto the Historic Charleston City Market (est. in the 1790's). Local businesses along Market Street showcase artifacts unearthed during renovations and reconstructions in recent years.

Didn't get to visit, but one historic church along Market Street was transformed into a restaurant called "5Church."  The main feature of the renovation was provided by an artist who wrote out the entirety of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" (5th Century B.C.) on the ceiling. Should have popped in just to see it--maybe some other time.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Turn, Turn, Turn

Allemande: a German country dance (late 16th century) in which dancers link arms, join or touch hands and make a full or partial turn. Also used to refer to the music for any of these dances, as in a suite.

Monday, August 28, 2017

"Crossing The Bar" by Alfred Lord Tennyson

copyright JWilson. Charleston Harbor

Sunset and evening star, 
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Office Workouts

"The 100 Office Workouts book is a collection of no-equipment illustrated easy-to-follow routines specifically designed for workplace conditions allowing you to exercise during work regardless of the time and space available and regardless of the office attire."

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Lightning Path

A talented man I know works with wood. While taking care of his dogs one night, I saw this board he had recently cut from a tree that had been struck by lightning. Isn't it fascinating how the bolt was captured in the wood?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Sea Fever" by John Masefield

copyright JWilson, Charleston Harbor

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Popular Posts