Category Archives: vocabulary

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.


Relief station

Relief station

This is the restroom area at the bus station — the bus station for departures to Tlaxiaco and points between here and there. Vans, really. Each destination has its own terminal and we had to hunt for this.

I cannot find the meaning of ‘mijitorio.’

The view is from the seating area, so they’re easy to find, no? As the sign says, three pesos per visit.

Readers, digesting

William at OLL -- 3 oct 2013

William at OLL — 3 oct 2013

The Sacks book is not the only book I’ve read in a month, though it is a treasure, especially here and now.  My reading pace has been good, but I am jealous of William’s. He can read really fast and can stay up all night to finish a book.  He loads up at the library, and has probably read at least 12 books, fiction and non, about Mexico, the Civil War, Dien Bien Phu and more.  (Without irony, he thought Mexico Profundo was “deep.”) He says he’s read three paperback novels – by Stephen King, by Tammy Hoag, and one called Wicked Delights of the Bridal Bed.  That last one slipped past me.  “Actually a good story,” he said.

Those of you know William will want to be seated when I tell you he accepted an invitation to give a little talk at the library introducing some of the volumes from the ‘new books’ shelf.  He was told he need only read the cover blurbs and maybe get a few tidbits off the web, but he read the books; he looked stuff up to accessorize.

I stayed in the next room, but as the participants left the session after more than an hour, I heard how good and lively it was.  This may be a new side to him.  Who’s not surprised?


One I picked up is a British detective story – I’d never heard of it but maybe it’s well-known – Sudden Vengeance by Edmund Crispin.  I don’t know that I’d recommend it, but I can’t remember a fiction book with so many words I had never seen before.  See if you know these:

cheroot – n. a cigar having open, untapered ends.

affray – n. a public fight; a noisy quarrel; brawl.

eupeptic – adj. having good digestion

resipiscence – n. acknowledgment that one has been mistaken

adumbrate – v. to outline; give a faint indication of; forshadow; to overshadow; obscure

rheumy – adj. damp and unhealthy

sequacious – adj. archaic. imitating, or serving another person, especially unreasoningly

I especially love these.

Re infecta – n. the business being unfinished.

Vade mecum – n. something a person carries about for frequent or regular use, literally, “go with me.”