Category Archives: missed opportunities

catching up

7 January 2015 — Catching up on daily poems.

The sun is shining,
I found the studio keys.
I’ll probably live.

Yesterday I stuck the keys in a book and couldn’t go to the studio. I almost cried. Now I feel better.

6 January 2015

I shop for yogurt
Avoiding pectin, corn starch.
It’s not so easy.

Yogurt is supposed to me just milk and the little germs that transform it.

5 January 2015

Tim’s resolutions:
no numbers, no cigarettes.
He’ll save a bundle.

He thinks quitting smoking and small-stakes gambling will keep a hundred dollars a week warm in his pocket.

Well, the wait is over; healing and salvation offered here


The town of Berkeley Springs is considered by some to be a sacred place, where good spirits converge.  There’s that magical hot water just bubbling out of the earth, right? Thus, it’s the annual gathering spot of all kinds of alternative healers at the Festival of Light.

For a five-dollar entry fee, you can find massage therapists for whatever hurts, palm readers, crystal handlers, future-tellers and past-life revealers.  You may commune, spiritually, with a lost loved one, human or another species.  You may purchase a stone or stick that was blessed under a full moon.  (I’m sorry I did not buy the special socks showing acupressure points but attractive enough for daily wear.)


All of that harmless activity drew out this proud cross-bearing citizen, with his deep background of holy texts and protected by the First Amendment, who just needed all who enter here to know that this was contrary to the Christian Bible, and akin to devilry and witchcraft. (I heard that the local gendarmerie made a sweep of the building but found nothing technically illegal.)

I did not see his socks, but I think the burlap robe could be cited for a fashion crime.

What would Andy Goldsworthy do?

I get asked how I like “retirement.”*  It’s hard to explain beyond “I love it.” Several times a day I find myself doing an activity that I could not do while having a regular 9-to-5 type job.

I can take advantage of activities that happen to take place during normal working hours — like the national Sierra Club board meeting, usually in San Francisco, but this time in DC, where I sat in for a few agenda items. (I am a life member and want to make sure the club is doing as I wish. Sort of.) Some are things that fall roughly outside those hours, but if following on a work day would seem more like a nuisance, or a tacky, unsatisfying way to end the day.  I have gone to serve food or perform other menial tasks at meal center for homeless women. I don’t know how that will work out, but as of now, I head to the church basement with a spring in my step.

I’ll tell about some of these and other worthy activities another time.

But some make no sense and have little ultimate purpose but are a creative expression.  Sunday, I made a fairy circle, or a needle ring, or pine circle.  I struggle with that name, but this is what I did.

I pass the little triangle park bounded by Quincy Street, 5th Street and Rock Creek Church Road just about every time I leave the yard.  It is no one’s private property, so no one keeps it up, but the pine needles and enormous pine cones from the huge tree there have been especially untidy looking lately.  Prevailing winds toss the fallen material southward, toward the sidewalk and the street.



Detritus in disarray in Rock Creek Church triangle park. 23 February 2014

As you know from an earlier post, I love the work of Andy Goldsworthy and others who artfully rearrange Planet Earth’s componentry, even on temporary basis.  So I set out, with a rake over my shoulder and a snack and a little flask of a refreshing adult beverage in a sack, to rearrange the materials on my little public plot.

I started to rake with a little circle in mind, a halo, an aura a ring-around-the-rosy — find me the word.  A circle is a fairly primitive design idea that I cannot claim as my own.

I thought about marking the four compass points with mounds of downed pine seeds, but after bending over what must have been a hundred times to pick them up and then tote them several feet north, south, east or west, the four loci became 12; because of a counting error, the 12 became 13.

ImageAct in progress; edge of ring, one pine cone mound.

ImageLong shadows after a raking needles and rearranging pine cones, about 3 pm.

The bending, stretching and pulling were exhausting, maybe in the way that a yoga class is just sooooo tiring, but carrying the rake was way cooler than toting that incriminating silly little rubber mat. (Right?)

Later that evening I passed the park after dark.  My creative product was still in situ.


*Retirement, that is, not working at a regular job but with a pension so tiny that I need to find some income soon.


thanks for calling

thanks for calling

I thought the phone call was to review a wrong and give comfort, to share another moment in a long friendship with ups and downs, but mostly love and commitment.

But it was just to pass a few minutes until the car repair was ready.

photo: Andy Goldsworthy wall at Storm King Art Center, 2012.

Here but for a liver — you can help

After a long struggle and multiple peaks and valleys of hope and despair, my sister’s husband, John, has died.  At the time, he was waiting for a donor liver, and had every reason to think one would come into his world soon. (Shortly before the last days, the family had the urgent call to come to the hospital and prep for surgery, but the organ available was then judged unsuitable.)

A post-mortem request from the family is that you — you — declare that you are an organ donor.  I know that as in all matters public and private, people will fall into teams supporting and decrying the practice. Some note that organs and tissues are recycled in an unfair manner, with the less-deserving somehow showing up high on the list. (Think Dick Cheney’s heart.) That may be true, but as more organs come available in more geographic regions, the wait list shrinks a little and the bottom moves upward.


It’s an easy pledge to make on your part — see my Washington, DC, driver’s license here, which I didn’t have to print up myself or anything — and when the time comes, you won’t even know it has occurred so it will cause you no trouble.

Pledge to allow the possibility, and tell your mates you have done so.

sex discrimination: check the calendar

On the same day in CE 2013 that the retro-thinking Saudi Arabia was seeing the alarming action of women driving their own cars, this ad appears in a daily Oaxaca paper.  Top of the list of qualifications for a job is “sexo:” masculino.


This enterprise is a fabric store.  I have been in this shop several times, and can tell you that the bulk of the customers are women, who I might guess constitute the bulk of home and commercial seamers. (Though men can and do sew too. I’ve seen it.)

O lucky mishap!

ImageFull moon over Oaxaca, as seen from a front row seat at the Victoria Hotel bar.*

I don’t know whether your little e-device alerts you to the phases of the moon, but each year when I buy my spiral-bound paper-page version of a calendar, I immediately note the dates of the full moons.  I think the full moon is such a wonderful event to share with friends, as you can easily find full moons by simply looking up and no special snack foods or costumes are required.

So, when this year’s October “hunter’s moon” or “harvest moon” was coming around, I thought a party would be in order. I gave William notice of Thursday night’s event.  I told a couple others too and up we trooped to the spectacular vantage point of the bar of the Victoria Hotel on Fortin Hill at about 5,300 feet above sea level (1,600 m), a couple hundred feet above where I usually sit.  The vigorous climb justifies the beer and peanuts with garlic and chilis at the top.

But I screwed up somewhere; luna llena was actually two nights off, Saturday. I confessed my error, though Thursday night was clear and we wondered at a a gorgeous imperceptibly not-quite-full moon.

Then Saturday night brought clouds and another heavy rain.  No moon was visible.  Looking up would have given only a faceful of water.  My mistake was a beneficence.

At this full moon, I calculated how many have occurred in my lifetime, when I did notice and when I did not.  So many.  Next month, there will be another, I’ll have the date right; I’ll look up again in wonder.


*This photo is an aberration.  Years ago I pledged never to take a picture of a full moon, a sunset or a butterfly, since I found myself dozing off looking at such in other people’s vacation slides.


brilliant invention with carbon footprint of zero

brilliant invention with carbon footprint of zero

Dear Every Restaurant in the World:

Please start using these little purse/umbrella/hat stands that waiters in Oaxaca bring over to the table to keep all your crap off the floor and pretty much in your face so you won’t forget it when you go.



cure for what ails me


In Mexico, I believe I shall work on curing ADD by sitting in one place for a long time.

Missed him the first time, caught up later

Neil Armstrong has just died (completely unrelated to Lance Armstrong, but, wait — did someone engineer Neil’s demise to mess up Googlers?). I was one of just a small band of Americans old enough to do so who did not watch him land and walk on the moon. I was at Sky Ranch Lutheran Bible Camp. No TV.