Friday, September 28, 2007

Hurting feelings

Remember when you were a kid and you grabbed a stick and played swordfight with some friend or a sibling?

Greatest fun in the world, until and unless one of you actually scored a point of pain, jabbing a tender place -- hopefully never an eye. Then the tears and the recriminations erupted.

I love words. I wouldn't be a blogger if I didn't.

But wordplay is swordplay, of a different type.

Every now and then, something that I write is going to jab a tender spot in one of my readers. It's happened four times now, with four different people. Usually, it will be absolutely unintentional. Unless You are a misogynist, a terrorist, a slow driver in the fast lane, an abuser or molester of children, a bigot or a fan of Charles Manson, I probably don't hate you and didn't mean to hurt your feelings.

I hope that we can always understand that. I don't link people whose blogs I don't greatly respect. And I write in sincerity. I believe what I profess to believe.

A smart bit of psychology

"So what do you do?" he said, bouncing the little ball up and down, playing the part of an obnoxious kid in the classroom.

I stood in a corner, looking over the room-full of new teachers, wondering what their answer might be, wondering what my answer would be if I were a teacher.

"Call security!" someone suggested.

What would you do, indeed, as a classroom teacher confronted with a ball-bouncing, directive-ignoring, will-testing little kid?

How do you overpower such a child pyschologically, how do you break his will and impose yours?

That was what we all seemed to wonder.

The facilitator wandered up to the front of the room, where a panel of experienced teachers was in place.

"What would you do?" he asked one of them.

"Hey, let me show you how to juggle," the teacher said, extending a hand casually for the ball and tossing it back and forth for a few minutes.

I imagined a class rapt with attention and surprise.

"Bring your ball in tomorrow before class and I'll show you some juggling tricks," the teacher continued.

Then he handed it back to the "child." And he bade him sit down so that the regular lesson might continue.

Heads nodded.

I came away profoundly moved. This veteran knew better, much better than I or these others had, how to reach the heart of a child. How to win by strategy, by friendliness, not by a battle of wills. How to proceed without fear or anger.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Happy Sukkoth

Happy Sukkoth (Jewish Harvest Festival) to any Isis readers who celebrate it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


One of my little pleasures in life (besides growing a garden where I can grow vegetables without a bunch of pesticides and a long ride in some truck to get to my table) is to find edibles in the wild.

Some call it foraging.

Euell Gibbons wrote the classic book on the subject back in 1962, "Stalking the Wild Asparagus." Now that is one guy I would love to have for a neighbor.

From his book I have learned the right way to enjoy dandelions - when they are young and tender -- and about other nourishing goodies such as candied acorns, daylily pods and (non-poison) sumac berries. From other sources, I learned about the edible bulbs of spring beauty and how to chew the stem of a sweetgum leaf for, well, the sweetgum. But I am still a novice.

And until today, I had completely ignored the last half of his book, on wild mushrooms.

My parents are into wild mushrooms but they live thousands of miles away and so their knowledge is hard to share.

Ela suggested that I had photographed oyster mushrooms the other day. And after three other experts looked at the photos and agreed, including my parents, I took the chance. Like Trisia noted below, deadly mushrooms tend to grow out of the soil, not out of logs. And they don't tend to grow in huge clumps either.

So I dabbed the alleged oyster mushrooms with a wet paper towel -- you're never supposed to rinse or soak mushrooms in water, it makes them tough -- then sauteed them with a little butter. I took one careful, little bite.

Absolutely, utterly delicious! Not like the store-brand mushrooms at all. A little gamey and with just a hint of bitterness that only added to the flavor.

I couldn't help myself. I ate almost the whole pan full.,

Five hours have passed. I am not yet dead.

I have entered a wonderful new world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Unexpected discovery

Of all the pictures that I took last weekend, I did not expect the mushrooms to take center stage. But Braveheart Ela recognized what they were and started me on a journey of discovery.

Those are oyster mushrooms, She said. Edible.

So I went online. A mushroom guy online that She recommended, agreed. I emailed the photos to my parents, too, across the country. They are mushrooms hunters and they agreed, too.

Still not 100 percent at ease, I found a mushroom expert who lives in my city -- found his phone number, at least. I hope to hear from him tomorrow. Even if I don't, I'm ready to give these mushrooms a try. I know what deathcaps, destroying angels and toadstools look like -- and I know that none of them spring from logs, as oysters do.

Sweetie is going to observe my reaction. If I die, She won't sample.

So if this is the last post I ever put up, everybody was wrong and I will my books to a Girl's school in Afghanistan. I have no money and nothing else of value.

Conclusion of my walk through an East Coast forest

Fallen trees provide a feast for fungi.

You never know what will wash up along this creek -- I've seen lawn chairs, road signs, even a plastic sword.

This, however, made my heart stop for a half-second or so ...

... until I realized it was just a doll.

This area is also awash in poison ivy, which didn't bother this little butterfly. I had to get down on my belly, dangerously close to the plants, to get this photo of him sitting on one of them.

After a few hundred feet more, we reach the western boundary of the woodland, where someone's boring lawn has taken the place of the diverse natural landscape that once flourished here.

Now we turn back to head into the deeper and wilder woods that is my favorite part of this journey. We hop over a small, muddy creeklet and up the hill again through a meadow created by the gas company, as they have a pipeline underneath it.

In this meadow, more poison ivy grows -- avoiding it is like picking your way through a minefield. But the abundant sunshine here encourages less hostile plants to grow, too, like this little flower.

This is the most challenging part of the hike, through a deep woods where it is very easy to lose track of where you are. I've tried laying limbs in patterns, to help create a path, but I still get off course every time and wander for a few minutes until I finally find this mysterious clearing where some kind of factory once stood. Slag heaps are piled up, grass pokes through old asphalt and young pines are at work to heal the scars, too. A box turtle lives in this wet lowland but I didn't see him today. Probably some cottonmouths are to be found here, too and I proceed with caution.

I tried quite hard to photograph a giant grasshopper that was hanging out in a pine tree, but the shot never came out quite right. I did capture this unidentified yellow flower, though.

I've been out here two hours and I need to go home. So I will wander semi-lost for a few minutes until I find the gas line cut again, cross through the poison ivy and reenter my back yard.

Overgrown tomatoes, a fig tree, asparagus and grapes are what you see there.

Come with me into an East Coast forest

Forgive my amateur photographic skills and watch out for the poison ivy.

We start at the edge of my yard, where strawberry bush grows with scraggly stems but an arresting fall seed-pod display. Mountain folk in these parts call it "hearts a-bustin' with love."

As we slip into the trees -- holly, red oak, hickory, tulip poplar and sweetgum, this is one of the first little plants we'll see: Chimaphila umbellata (Umbellate Wintergreen, Pipsissewa, or Prince's pine). "Pipsissewa" is a Cree name meaning "It-breaks-into-small-pieces," according to Wikipedia.

Then we have to climb carefully down a steep slope covered with fallen trees. Hurricanes and summer storms have taken their toll in this area, which is a natural wind tunnel. At the bottom is a big beech tree that occassionally gets its roots wet when the creek swells. It would be prettier if it hadn't been a target for vandals. Beech tree roots remind me somewhat of the banyan trees I saw in the tropics.

Now we are at the edge of the creek and the ground is alternately muddy and sandy and covered in poison ivy, invasive Japanese stiltgrass and multiflora rose. In the spring, a beautiful little wildflower, Spring Beauty, speckles the ground with its blooms.

Jewelweed hangs its orange flowers along the swampy creek edge. Dayflower blooms this time of year, too.

I'll finish this walk at lunch time. Gotta pay the bills.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Moralia, On the Education of Children

For Plutarch, a person's success begins with proper parenting, and proper parenting requires proper parents.

"A goodly treasure is honorable birth."

A man is thus advised to beget offspring of neither courtesans or concubines.

So are these lines terribly old-fashioned and irrelevant -- or still pertinent in this the 21st century?

I think of two people in our modern public eye, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. One was fed with a silver spoon; the other came from the "common class."

Both are today an embarrassment to society. Honorable birth didn't help Paris very much.

My father came from "common stock" -- backwoods folks who lived in ramshackle houses, drank beer and poached deer. Yet he raised me lovingly and no one can reproach me with his name.

Spam greeting cards?

I occassionally receive e-cards from various friends, but they always show up in my email with that friend's name included.

This week, two e-cards showed up without such attribution and I am loathe to open them. I've never heard of a spam-card or a computer virus being transmitted this way. Has it happened to any of you?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Saturday evening at home

I have been on Layddee's celebrity blog today, reading about all their DUIs and custody battles.

Through my head runs that sad line from Neil Young, "it's better to burn out than to fade away."

With all due respect to Neil, I shall fade away and be glad about it -- not anytime soon, mind you!

This morning I wandered through the woods for two hours by myself, observing flora and fauna, and feeling quite sprightly as I hopped over logs and scaled slopes. I took pictures that I will post on Monday.

Tonight lentils and sausage are bubbling on the stove, bread is rising to be baked and I am happy at home. The stars can have their clubs and their parties.

PLEASE NOTE: This is in no way meant to malign LadyDdee's blog! She's great -- writes well, and I recommend a visit.

Another blog idea

Very soon I shall launch another blog, completely different than Isis and FLOW.

I have a collection of very obscure old books -- essays, poetry, etc., that date back to the early 1800s. Gradually, at my own pace, I'm going to transcribe them from their fragile pages, into this new blog. Perhaps they will interest other people, perhaps not.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What remains ...

Sweetie and I went tonight to visit a friend in the nursing home. Passed a resident in a wheelchair who was clutching a doll to Her chest.

Even at this end stage of life, with Her body weak and sick and Her mental faculties almost gone, something of the Woman still remained in Her, some of the ancient instinct, some of the memory perhaps of when She was a young Mother in the prime of life, with a doting husband close at hand and a lifetime still in front of Her and a living baby tenderly held in Her arms.

Ahmednijad is coming to New York

So the president of Iran, the guy who has called for the destruction of a sovereign nation, Israel; who is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons; who thinks the Holocaust is a myth; so that guy is going to speak at Columbia University in New York this month?

My first reaction was disgust. And a strong desire to go there and throw something foul and slimy at him. And then follow up by throwing something foul and slimy at the idiots who invited him.

But then I thought again. Let the lunatic speak. Let him foam at the mouth. Then let him go home and try to explain why he can go safely to America and speak his mind but an American can't go to Iran and do the same thing -- hell,why an Iranian can't even do that in Iran.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Digging into Plutarch

I visited a certain great blog about books earlier this month, a very profound blog, but I might as well have tried to have a conversation with my encyclopedia. No response to any of my comments. And I'm not interested in a conversation with myself. So I may not go back.

I liked how the author was able to be so succinct in Her reviews of the books that She has read -- and She reads an amazing amount! My reviews are not so tidy or professional.

But She is She and I am me.

Tonight I finally cracked open the pages of Plutarch's "Moralia," (Vol. 1) and read the introduction. He was from Chaeronea in Greece. Chaeronea, according to Wikipedia, was where Philip, father of Alexander the Great, broke the back of Greek resistance to Macedonian hegemony, changing the world forever. If the battle had been different, perhaps there would have been no Alexander and no Hellenistic empire, and perhaps the history of Rome might have been different, too.

But I digress. See, I just can't be succinct.

Wikipedia continues: "The site of the Theban defeat was found in 1818 with the discovery of the so-called Lion of Chaeronea, a nearly 20-foot tall funerary monument erected in honor of the Sacred Band. The fragmentary monument was reassembled and installed atop a pedestal at the site of its discovery." [That note is included for Kat and Scarlet, big cat fans]

Chaeronea (Greek: Χαιρώνεια) is still inhabited today, as a municipality in the Boeotia Prefecture of Greece. Population 2,218 (2001). It is located in the Kifisós River valley and NW of Thebes.

Back to Plutarch: He lived in the 1st Century AD, AD 45 to 120, between Claudius and Hadrian.

The introduction to my copy, tells me that "possessed as he was of a kindly nature, he could not bear to think of all evil-doers as destined to an everlasting torment ... and almost a part of his religion was his kindly affection for animals, which was quite unusual in his day."

Further: "Plutarch has been, and still is, one of the most widely read and most influential of authors in all literature."

If that is so, why did I have to special-order this book?

Click this link for photographic evidence of someone who apparently did not enjoy their literary date with Plutarch:

Adena, on love

Can platonic love exist only between people who are "completely and utterly unattractive to each other?"

That's lovely Adena's question today, and I don't really have a good answer but I thought maybe someone here would like to post a note on Her blog.

I guess one would first have to define unattractive. To me, it would be someone with awful hygiene and an awful personality as well. Absent those deficiencies, I honestly could probably be attracted to just about anyone Female, sane and breathing, under age 90.

So I'm not a good one to ask about platonic love. (o:

Oakland's stupid idea

I am in a ranting mood today, it seems.

Oakland, California has just approved a measure that will ban smoking in public parks, ATM lines, bus stops and a half dozen other public places.

Now I can understand banning the weed in airplanes, restaurants and other ENCLOSED public places. Being a non-smoker, albeit a person who is, ahem, sympathetic to smoker's interests, I can understand the rationale behind that.

But when we are in the great outdoors, your smoke is not going to have any effect on my health unless you are standing within an inch of my face and we stay that way for about 40 years. It just isn't. Most smokers -- indeed, EVERY smoker that I've ever met -- will bend over backwards to be polite, especially if they get any inkling that you don't want to be around their smoke, making the likelihood of a shared outdoor exhale almost non-existent.

So we are not talking public health here. We are talking about lawmakers who simply don't want to SEE people smoking anymore in public.

Rant of the day

You know, sometimes people can be so rude.

I try to be a nice person. I try never to blame people when they mess up, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Why the &^^% can't anyone ever extend me the same courtesy?

A work-related email today accuses me of not having put a certain important link on the office website.

Written as: "it is NOT listed below."

Rude. Ugly. Insistent that I have messed up without allowing for any other possibilities.

The link was there. This person was just too thick-headed to find it.

Sometimes, ECD gets tired of that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A gift

"Please take some," She said, as She does every time that I visit Her.

She is old. She recently had a terrible infection that caused Her to act quite strangely and caused us to wonder if She had developed dementia or Alzheimers.

But yesterday, She was Her normal self, offering me flowers from Her garden.

Her first gift was two apple tree seedlings, years ago. Last year, one of them bore fruit for the first time.

Earlier this year, She offered me sprigs of flowering almond --- something She grew up with in the Shenandoah Valley, She said.

"Please take some," She said, pointing a finger towards some tall and lovely plants crowding into the space by Her front door.

She called it Valencia.

I found the perfect spot for it by the low wall next to my carport.

But none of my books mention a flower by this name, and an Internet search found nothing, either.

Perhaps it is a hybrid name or I heard Her wrong.

Nonetheless, it is beautiful.

Thank You, my friend. Stay with us, please, a few more years.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A new link

I haven't linked anyone in a while, because I wanted to spend more time getting to know the people who are already on my link list. I'm still sadly behind on that.

But a few days ago, I found an enigmatic, mysterious art blog that I really want to share with my blog readers. Trust me, Her creations are quite arresting.

So, welcome Ela!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thought for the day, on ancient Egypt

"It is a typically Egyptian practice to give several different symbolic formulations to one and the same event [such as a ritual bath]." -- Piankoff

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lyn's latest

Lyn (It's a Woman's World) blogged this weekend about a beautiful encounter with a tiny heroine and what She would like to do in Her honor. Great post, great idea -- She certainly has my support!

Storm? Maybe a slight shower.

Well, I had some unexpected business this weekend and didn't quite get the chance to unleash the blog storm that I had hoped.


But I shouldn't complain. A busy life is a good life.

But before I wrap up the weekend, here's at least one of the clips that I had hoped to meditate upon this weekend:

Headline: "Pope urges Austrians to return to Catholicism."

Is he hoping for the hopeless? Is Christianity -- not just Catholic Christianity but all Christianity, a spent wave? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? What will take its place? Will that be good or bad?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Book List continued

LE-02-1295. The Book of the Dead.
Translated by Raymond Faulkner. Acq. Jan. 21, 2006.

This book gives us a window into the religion of ancient Egypt - but how much of one? Can we actually claim to understand what they were thinking, can we in the 21st century actually think to step into their minds and understand how they saw their world, just because our experts can now read the words that they wrote?

I have not read it yet, so I have no review to offer.

Bought it at Barnes and Noble, my favorite chain bookstore.

We all have a home

My home is a sturdy stack of bricks meant to last for decades.

But today, as I sweatily shoved my miserable mower through the mocking stalks of crabgrass, I discovered someone else's home -- a far more frail structure.

The last of the carrots at the edge of the garden -- their roots woody and inedible, their lacy tops still green -- have attracted a family of swallowtail caterpillars. Bright yellow and black, as they creep over the foliage they seem unaware of the coming winter, which will kill their food supply and destroy their adopted home. But their bodies know. Millennia of evolution have prepared them -- they will pupate in the leaf litter while winter does its worst, then unfold into butterflies in the spring.

Yes, I took a picture. I'll post it Monday.

City thoughts

Today I drove through a great American city -- Washington, D.C. I rolled down roller-coaster overpasses and through a great shining sea of traffic.

The prognosticators say that a majority of human beings will live in cities by the end of this century -- and that we need to do a better job of making them livable.

The temperament of a nation is told by its cities. In your mind, picture the difference between Athens and Moscow, Boston and Beijing, Montreal and Manila.

Some cities have been loved -- or loathed -- for centuries -- and everyone has a picture in their head of them. I think of London and Rome, Berlin, Paris and New York. Others are not so famous -- yet whisper the word and the expatriate and the exile sigh ... Dublin, Budapest.

There are cities almost as old as humanity itself, it seems -- Mexico City, built upon the ancient Aztec original; Memphis (in Egypt, not Tennessee!);Jerusalem, the holy city of Monotheism -- and brash new cities where swamp, desert or jungle has only been supplanted in living memory.

Cities fascinate me.

Friday, September 14, 2007


I learned last night that the official term for a secretive language, used by criminals and such, is "cant."

It's a language not meant to be understood by outsiders. Unfortunately, outsiders eventually end up figuring it out and some of its terms even end up as popular slang. Thus, "big shot" and "to put on the spot."

Cant goes way back and is of course not restricted to English.

The most mysterious part of the article, to me, was this line: "Many escaped convicts went to California in the 1850s and a large part of their cant is still used there."

By whom? The criminal class? Hollywood? Surfers?

Does the expression, "Gnarly, dude, you totally caught that wave!" have secret underworld connotations?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Can't wait!

Weekend's almost here! I spent some quiet time tonight clipping newspaper articles about this and that, things that interest me, from the latest science to recipes, columns and, of course, Women's issues. My I-should-clip-that pile has been growing all month and it will make Sweetie happy if I finally take care of it.

A storm of blogging is on the way, inspired by these clips, a perfect storm, and it should barrel up out of this blog this weekend.

ECD's morning

6 a.m.: Awakened by Sweetie from a pleasant dream. Resist being annoyed since She is nice to wake up to. Tell Her how beautiful She is. Receive the usual Womanly statement of disbelief.

Wait my turn for the bathroom.

Check the blogosphere for new comments and blog buddies I have neglected.

Vote for Number 4 on that Today Show Throws a Wedding thing, at Sweetie's behest from the bathroom.

Remember almost too late that a load of dark clothes is sitting in the washer from last night and needs to be dried unless I want to go to work in my underwear.

Curse the clock.

Shower. Shave. Bleed. Contemplate growing a neck beard like some doughty old pioneer patriarch.

Curse the clock again.

Indulge in a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon and honey, even though I don't have time for it.

Curse the clock again.

Make the bed. Hang up the clothes from the dryer. Increase level of mental loathing for the person who invented clocks.

Scrounge the kitchen for lunchable items. Resort to a frozen burrito and a plum.

Curse the clock again.

Measure out medicine for the cockatiel.

Remember that what's left of the garden will probably be dead when I get home if I don't run the hose on it for a minute. Invent new swear words for the person who invented clocks.

Kiss Sweetie goodbye. Accept good-naturedly Her demand that I drive the speed limit.

Run out the door barefoot trying to remember my sad excuse for a lunch, my wallet, pocket junk and to turn off the water.

Wedge my knees into my tiny car. Change the station from the mush-rock that Sweetie loves to my favorite hard rock channel. Be annoyed by the screechy DJ that lives in the radio in the morning. Contemplate how much later I'd be if I went back inside for my Metallica CD.

Drive away. Pound the horn at some fool whipping out of a gas station into my lane without any attempt to look where he is going. Realize that it is a She. Feel bad. Then remember that sometimes, Tough Love is necessary and that perhaps I saved Her from doing the same thing again some future day and getting smashed up.

Slow down by the field where the cop always hides. Merge onto the Interstate.

Point my hood ornament towards work for another day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The staff of life

Do you take for granted your steaming bowl of rice with the fragrance of spices rising from the succulent white grains? Or your sweet cornbread with jalapeno bits blended into the batter? Or your whole-wheat English muffin, toasted, slathered with butter and orange marmalade?

I perhaps take for granted being able to enjoy all those things. It wasn't so very long ago that most people knew only one or two grains for dinner -- rice in Asia; corn (maize), wild rice or quinoa in America; millet, wheat, sorghum or barley in Africa, the Middle East and Europe; and rye and oats in Northern Europe.

And of course, some peoples consumed starch substitutes not technically in the grain family -- potatoes, taro, breadfruit, arrowroot, manioca, etc.

Collingham (Curry, A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors) describes the misery of a group of Indians (India Indians) traveling with a certain European across that vast sub-continent in the early 19th century. Seems their stomachs were used to the grains of their respective home-regions and suffered on other people's staples.

"They were unable to adapt to a different grain and when compelled or induced to try another, their digestions became disordered," the Englishman, Francis Buchanan, reported.

Pic of the day

September seems to be mantis season.

Of all the insects in the world, these harmless giants (unless you are another bug) seem to be the most intelligent or the most sentient, at least to me.

This one was sitting by my porch light the other night. Probably saying, "Who the &&^% is that dude with the camera?"

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My blog recommendation for the day

Especially as we contemplate life and death, war and peace today, I recommend a visit to Rebecca's blog, where Her latest post begins:

"Where Have All the Flowers Gone is a folk song written by Pete Seeger around 1961. The inspiration for the song came from a Ukrainian folk song referenced in a novel by Mikhail Sholokhov, And Quiet Flows the Don.

"Seeger wrote three verses, and adapted it to a tune. Some time later, Joe Hickerson wrote two more verses. I remember hearing several versions of the song when I was a little kid: one by the incomparable Joan Baez, and one by Peter Paul and Mary. What I remember most, however, was my mother's virulent hatred of the song."

If Computers Could Feel Pain, a theme revisited - a lunchtime post

In an office, in the not too distant future, a woman is alone with her computer, typing away when she suddenly throws up her hands in frustration.

Her fingers move towards a red button on the keyboard.

She presses down savagely.

The computer’s voice module sounds.

(Sardonic, mocking voice): You think a little zap like that can hurt me?

The finger hits the button again about 15 times.

(Desperate cyber-voice): Okay, okay, I’m sorry. It’s your damn fault, carbon-based creep. You inputted the wrong HTML code. You’ll have to –

(Button is pushed again several times in rapid succession)

(Frantic cyber-voice): Please, I’m sorry! I’ll fix the HTML. Sorry to have bothered you. By the way, your spelling is –

(Button is pushed again)

(Voice yelps) – your spelling is just fine, oh brilliant one. Hey, what’s that on the window sill? (Spelling errors are quickly fixed when the woman looks away.)

Woman smiles and presses a green button on computer. Computer shivers.

(Voice says) I must ... inform you, ma’am, that I am a married monitor.

New Book is here

I am a happy little boy. B&N has just notified me that my special-ordered Volume 1 of Plutarch's Moralia has arrived. At some point this week, I just need to drive the 15 miles to pick it up.

I have reached a difficult point in my reading project. Aristotle, whom I read a few years ago, was the first to make me realize I might have to someday modify my plan to read every book ever written, in chronological order. For Aristotle wrote a lot. And I spent a lot of time wading through his works -- though I am glad that I did. How could any thinking human being not want some acquaintance with the man who so profoundly and for so long influenced the mind of the Western World?

And Plutarch wrote a lot, too, I have discovered -- his Moralia is in about 15 volumes. My tiny house has not room for them all, nor my bank account the means to acquire them -- and our pathetic excuse for a public library doesn't have any of his writings at all.

What to do, what to do?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Melanie's interview

On Her awesome blog (one of them), Miss Melanie offers Her readers the chance to be interviewed, just for fun. So I volunteered and She sent me the following questions:

If I understand the rules correctly, I must now agree to interview a few readers of my blog who are interested.

It was fun!

1. What kind of work do you do for a living? Were you educated for this profession?
I do public relations. Like most people who do public relations, I started out in journalism and then sold my soul because I got tired of no money, no respect and no life.

2. Do you like to go swimming? Pool or the Ocean?

I was a scrawny little kid who shivered and suffered in the cold pools of my youth. Then I finally went to a YMCA pool that was heated -- oh heaven, and I have loved swimming ever since. Definitely love the ocean more than some chorinated concrete box -- but give me a clear, cold mountain stream to jump into if you really want to make me happy -- I'm not a scrawny little kid anymore, I can take the lung-squeezing, brain-chilling temps pretty well, especially after a long, hot hike.

3. How did you meet your wife? Your most romantic moment with her.
Sweetie and I met over dinner at college. I had this naive and pompous plan to date every single girl at my university at least once. She was about number four and I called off the plan after that -- I'd found the best and I didn't need to keep looking.

On my way cross-country to marry Her, I noticed a sign for Carthage, Mo., where there is a Precious Moments theme park. Precious Moments -- they are little porcelain statues that some Ladies, including Sweetie, love. I stored that info in the back of my mind and then took Her there on our tenth anniversary. She spent a week happily buying up the place while I smacked mosquitoes and, being the driver, labored diligently to keep from getting lost.

4. What are your origins? and how (or in what ways) does this beginning affect your world now?

I originated as a cloud of hydrogen atoms (Adena says helium!) in the heart of a star several billion years ago. More recently, my human form was born to a loving couple with the dad part of the equation being in the U.S. military, which meant that I grew up all over the planet. Which has helped me get along with all kinds of people but also means that my relationships can be somewhat shallow-rooted and I have to work extra hard to keep important people from slipping out of my life.

5. How long does it take you to get ready to go out on the town? What is your favorite outfit?

I'm a guy. It takes me about thirty seconds. My favorite outfit is whatever is clean and not missing a button.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Continuing the study of the universe

I hold in my fingers a tiny scrap of aluminum, a bit of debris from the bird cage in the living room.

I blogged a few weeks ago about the Big Bang and how stars formed. In those stars, all the elements that make up our world were formed, by the fusion of hydrogen or helium atoms.

Now I have learned that our own sun incorporates some of those elements that formed during the existence of two other stars which were born and died.

Our own earth has a core of iron, which during the early, molten stage of the planet, drew in elements with an affinity for iron. Elements with an affinity for oxygen, like this aluminum, rose to the surface.

So this shiny scrap of aluminum tells a story from the violent childhood of our Earth. Seems a shame to throw it away.

Aluminum is a fascinating element anyway -- how scientists finally learned to free it from bauxite -- but I'll go into that some other time.

Sunday Afternoon

This afternoon, I grabbed the only other man in the house who wasn't glued to the Chicago-San Diego football game and we took little niece-in-law for a nature walk in the woods behind my home. (The Women on this Southern side of the family are very traditional -- not interested in such a jaunt at all.)

It's important that She make such memories -- that She learn the feeling of a tree's bark against Her palm and cool river water flowing over Her toes. Of course, nature also includes the itch of mosquitoes and the occasional thorn raking at one's arm.

She saw a tiny toad near the edge of the creek and a large black swallowtail butterfly. She climbed upon boulders and tried to make jewelweed snap at the swamp's edge. She gathered hickory nuts and pretty rocks and kicked over a mushroom before I could stop Her.

I think She had a good time.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Honoring the life of a luminous Lady -- L'Engle

Isis and F.L.O.W. join -- albeit tardily -- the literary world in mourning the passing of a Titan-ess of literature, Madeleine L'Engle, who died on Thursday, Sept. 6.

Wrote the New York Times:

"Madeleine L’Engle, who in writing more than 60 books, including childhood fables, religious meditations and science fiction, weaved emotional tapestries transcending genre and generation, died Thursday in Connecticut. She was 88."

Full story:

ECD notes: Ms. L'Engle should be remembered as the rare kind of writer who could get a child to sympathize with mitochondria.

I, like so many other children, read Her books and have never forgotten them.

Leaving your comfort zone

Today I rented a rug doctor machine to clean up the sooty spots on the carpet from the vacuum cleaner disaster of a week or so ago.

I've never rented a rug doctor before. It was a bit of a challenge, the whole process of renting it, figuring out how it worked, etc. Got me thinking about other challenging "first times" in my life, such as the first time I ever drove a car through an automatic car wash.

I picked an evil place for said challenge -- a facility that required the driver to angle his left front tire up a ramp that was about three inches wide. If you missed, you'd run over pipes or something and make a mess.

So there I was, in that dark, steamy hell, trying desperately to put my tire in the right place, using ugly words that would have earned me a mouthful of soap if my Mother had been present ...

...It was a disaster and I never went back there again.

Random searching turns up a new pearl

I can't officially link Her yet, because I just found Her blog, but this morning I did the random-search thing and stumbled across a jewel -- a fairly new blog but one with a lot of promise.

Imagine a calculus teacher who loves gardening and spiders. That's Rudbeckia ( Chase in particular, being a teacher,too, might like to visit over there.

The world is full of brilliant Women!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Introducing Layddee D!

The newest link on Isis is a great Lady, a fun Lady, who updates Her blog almost daily with celebrity news and commentary. Check Her out -- Her hard work deserves an atta-Girl!

Progress of "For the Love of Woman"

The first contributors to the Sister-blog of "Isis," "For the Love of Woman," have already made Their beautiful mark and it is starting to take shape. This weekend, I have a lot of helpful links that I'd like to add, such as the great blog that Indigo Blue suggested, and maybe some graphics.

On my own, "For the Love of Woman" wouldn't amount to much. But with a solid roster of contributors, we can make it great, really great -- a truly valuable resource for the body, mind and spirit of Women everywhere. I learned a long, long time ago that if You want something done efficiently, correctly and beautifully, You had better put Women in charge of it.

Anyone else who would like to take part, just let me know. It's a matter of exchanging emails. Don't post Your email on this blog -- rather, I'll send mine to Your blog upon request. Spammers probably have mine already but I don't want them to get Yours.

Going backwards? (quick lunchtime post)

"You see those trees?" said my guide on a tour of a certain facility today. "Take a good look at them. Next week, they'll all be gone."

He seemed proud. My group seemed happy too, for the trees are coming down to make way for a big, important building. I kept my feelings to myself.

Ironically, those trees were planted there, about 20 years ago, in a push of environmentalism. Now, with unexpected growth, they're in the way. They'll be swept away along with the deer, box turtles, snakes, frogs, birds, insects and other plants that lived there, who are never consulted in these matters. Environmental laws -- pfft. If you have money and influence, you can build what you want, where you want.

Backwards we go. From what shall we print all our new money when the trees for paper are gone?

I read The Lifted Lorax, by Seuss, when I was a wee kid. It affected me. Do we read that book to children anymore?

Happy 300th post to me!

Today's blog-peek: Susan

Ms. Susan (Heart in San Francisco) recently theorized that "Saturday Night is Wasted on the Married."

If, upon reading that post, your sides don't hurt or you haven't come dangerously close to wetting your pants or you haven't even chuckled or chortled, let alone snickered, guffawed, belly-laughed, giggled or tee-heed, you might wish to see a pyschologist about your humor-impairment problem.

The picture here is Susan's icon. We're not specifically informed whether She is the one with the gnarly hands or the one with the pretty shoes. I'm betting on the latter.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

From Carmen -- The Glory and Pleasure of Being a Woman

Beautiful Carmen posted the following in Her blog today -- a book that every Woman -- and probably every man -- should read. With Her permission, I am borrowing every beautiful word that She typed in reference to this book -- but please go to Her blog to comment!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Glory and Pleasure of being a Woman
"The Glory and Pleasure of Being a Woman! Secrets and Mysteries," will give you a profound understanding of what it means to be a woman. Full of passion, mysticism, and practical information, it will tap the source of your power at the depths of your soul.

Through her own extraordinary life experience and her knowledge of native cultures around the world, Denise Linn reveals how you can activate ancient wisdom to become the magnificent embodiment of strength and grace in other words, how you can become a Glorious Woman!

Each chapter offers a rich tapestry of information, ritual, story, and meditations: a combination of timeless lore and majesty of the feminine experience. With a strong voice and powerful images relevant to women of all ages and backgrounds, Denise Linn has compiled a remarkable handbook for any Goddess-in-the-Making."

To me, this is a very powerful inspirational book. I highly recommend you to read it. I have read several of her books and I consider this one the best of all of her writing works. It has been my text book for several months. I read it and re-read it. It has enlightened me greatly.

You can listen to her broadcast on hayhouseradio every Tuesday. She is one of my favorite authors in my spiritual journey. I wish to attend one day one of her seminars and become a professional soul coach in the future. That's the path my heart wish to follow to empower others and myself ;-)

About Denise Linn
Denise has been called America's best-kept spiritual secret. For the last three and a half decades she has traveled to the far corners of the world speaking to standing room-only audiences of thousands. Her 14 books have been translated into 26 languages, she has been featured on Oprah, Lifetime, Discovery Channel, BBC TV, NBC and CBS. She is a world-acclaimed expert in feng shui and space clearing and has also distilled the information and wisdom that she has gained from indigenous cultures around the planet, as well as from her own Native American roots into this program that many are calling nothing short of miraculous.
ECD notes: A Goddess-in-the-Making is indeed what each of You are. Never sell Yourselves short! Never tolerate abuse in any way, shape or form.

Quick lunchtime post -- Somebody being delightful

Somebody who is not Mischievous Melanie got caught trying to break a window pane with Her nose.

New concept for this blog

I had an idea this morning, an exciting idea – perhaps fueled in part by my happy mood since Sweetie’s sinus infection appears to be very minor this time. Thank heaven for Advil and the 24-hour Walgreen’s that sold it to me late last night. I’d crawl into hell on my hands and knees or at least make a middle of the night drive for my Goddess’ sake.

This blog exists to celebrate, adore, empower, uplift and rejoice in the magnificence of, Women. Not just magazine models – all Women, for every Woman in the world is beautiful in Her own way, a being of incredible power and potential and worth.

That is why I exist, too, to share this important message, and it is my joy and my passion.

Lovely red-headed Dawn (whose blog I have not visited in a day or two – sorry Dawn, I promise to visit tonight!) has offered me technical guidance in setting up a website that will be dedicated to the above goal, in a way that a blog cannot.

But this blog will continue along with that site. And I had an idea this morning to share the steering wheel.

What if Isis could become a true community where trusted Ladies who visit here often, could have posting privileges alongside me, posting whatever came into Their brilliant minds, plugging Their own delightful blogs shamelessly, adding appropriate links, adding resources that They, as Women, believe are important for other Women?

Can you imagine the cybervoices of possibly hundreds of Women, sharing each other's concerns, offering advice on everything that matters to Women, right here on this little blog?

I am so excited about this idea that I could burst. What do you all think?

A peek at Lance

Does technology permanently make life easier?

That's a good question -- the latest in a series of brief posts posited by one of my first blog buddies, Lance. Check out his site and add your input!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

To be a better man -- the endless struggle

Sweetie called me as I left work tonight; She wanted me to pick up some Advil cold and sinus medicine on the way home, as She thinks that She is developing a sinus infection.

Here comes a perennial test for me. Sometimes I do okay, sometimes I flub it badly. To be sympathetic and nurturing when She needs it -- not just attentive to Her physical needs but also sympathetic to the mood shift that being sick typically brings.

I'm not good at that. Only recently have I realized that it comes from my own childhood, but I cannot use that as an excuse not to be better. When She worries about something that seems silly to me, I have to be the kind of man who doesn't make light of Her concerns. When She is suffering and not at Her emotional best, I need to be there for Her and not react in a negative way.

More exploration of beauty

I sat in a long meeting today and during the course of it, noticed that one of the speakers had a scar running beneath Her throat, near her collarbone.

But She glowed with life. She was a survivor, of whatever it was that left that scar. And She was beautiful, in so many ways.

Real Women have scars. Real Women have laugh lines. Some wear glasses or use wheelchairs, others nurse aching joints. Some battle addictions or ghosts from Their past.

They have curves -- delightful flesh on Their bones and sometimes an extra bulge here or there that They just can't seem to make go away. Sometimes, too, They are gaunt and thin -- not from trying to be a catwalk wonder but from a battle against cancer that took on the wrong Woman and is losing.

They get angry sometimes. Sometimes They have raging moods. They get insecure or scared. They do the wrong things every so often.

But real Women are beautiful Women. Beautiful when They are angry, beautiful when They rejoice. Beautiful when They open Their eyes in the morning, before the first dab of make-up has been applied; and beautiful when They close Their eyes to sleep again at night. Beautiful when splattered with grease from fixing Their pickup truck or with dirt from the garden or the baby's breakfast.

Boys may love Girls but men love Women, real Women.

Memo to the World, Number Two, on smoking

Memo to the World, Number Two:

The next time that you are out and about and you happen to meet someone who is enjoying a cigarette, try something that goes against the prevailing wisdom. Don’t hold your breath and hurry by. Don’t make funny noises or wave your hand as if invisible mosquitoes are swarming around you.

Smile. Stop a moment. Exchange pleasant greetings. Linger for a moment, if the vibes are right. Be nice. Having been conditioned to think that smokers are subhuman, you will probably be surprised to find that you are slipping easily into conversation with someone who is quite intelligent and friendly. The endorphins generated from making a new friend will add much more to your life than a little smoke supposedly ever takes away.

Smokers, male and Female, have been my best friends, all my life, and I haven’t necessarily planned it that way. From lovely Darlene, mentioned here before, to a certain sweet man who taught me so much about photography and another male friend who has now moved to another state but was as gentle and kind a person as one could ever meet – to the many sweet Ladies on this blog who also enjoy the company of Lady Nicotinia …

… and I must tell you about the man who played Santa Claus.

He was first my Boy Scout “master” –- that’s what they call the long-suffering adults who are in charge of a Boy Scout troop. I don’t know if he was paid for his labors – if he was, it couldn’t have been enough.

He played Santa Claus one year at some Boy Scout get-together and I noticed him slip outside to smoke a cigarette. Some uptight person also noticed and made a rude comment that I’m sure he heard and I’m sure hurt deeply. Something about the inappropriateness of Santa smoking. Guess they never read the Night Before Christmas.

He passed away not much later – a few years, if I remember right, of a sudden heart attack. Maybe smoking contributed, or his slight weight problem, or years of stress as a military man, or perhaps his age – he was white-haired, although I never knew how old he was. I was very young myself but I went to his funeral and I said good things about him, because even then I recognized what makes a man great.

I will hold smoking against no man or Woman. If it is a good cigar or a pipe, I will savor the scent of it even if you are a fellow man. If You are a Lady, well, You can smoke anything slightly less pungent than a burning vacuum cleaner belt and I will fall over myself not to offend or disturb You.

If the day comes that you decide to quit, I will be right there to cheer you on as well.

Dedicated to the memory of D.F., a great man.
Second photo printed by permission of: IDRC CRDI, Photographer: N. Kumar

A new link

"Chocnut Yek" (Girlstuff) has joined this blog group, and I am honored to make the announcement. She is sassy, smart and confident, writing about odds and ends here and there.

Yek lives in the Phillippines, like Lizza.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I hope ...

I like to talk about all kinds of things on this blog -- but periodically and always I will return to the most important thing that can ever be said -- my life is blessed because of the presence of Women in it and I kneel in adoration before You every day of my life, in utter awe of the wonder that is You.

I hope that every Woman who wanders into this blog today will promise to look into Her mirror tomorrow and see Beauty looking back at Her -- that She will awaken from Her sleep in the morning excited to share Herself with the world -- Her incredible mind, Her urgently needed talents and the inspiring wonder of Her living presence.

Quick lunch break post --check this out

Monday, September 3, 2007

Life and death

Nephew-in-law brought me a big fish back from his Labor Day excursion -- what they call a croaker in these parts. He does not care to eat fish, just catch them. I do not care to catch them, just eat them.

So in the warm September darkness, I sat on my front porch with a sharp knife and began the familiar old ritual -- as old as the first man who robbed a river of its silvery child.

I will spare you the gruesome details. Suffice it to say, that several steps are required to convert a whole fish into the neat little fillets that just about everyone loves to sink their teeth into.

And every time that I go through them, I feel a little bad, feel a little pity for this creature that has had a very, very bad day. The justifications run through my mind: This creature is a flesh-eater, as I am, and it would have no sting of conscience in swallowing a smaller fish. Man has been a carnivore for millions of years - it's nature's way.

But still.

Hey, I have no use for hypocrites who shed tears over a hunter's bounty but load up their grocery carts with plastic-wrapped squares of meat that someone else killed.

I do respect people who have made the full commitment to live a life free of shedding blood -- and free of aiding and abetting others in the deed.

I am conflicted. Someday I hope to have the will to give up the meat habit. It is possible to live that way, and better, I think, to live that way.

In the meantime, I will be careful not to waste this fish. I will eat it with thankfulness. And I will bury the offal in the garden as man has done for millennia, thus returning what I cannot use to the earth to be recycled and nourish the land.

About writing a column

Marvelous Molly asked about a comment I made, regarding a weekly column that I write.

It's not a super big deal. Years ago, I was a newspaper reporter for a daily paper that publishes in a city near where I live. I suggested to my then-editor that I might write a column for the paper every week and She tentatively agreed.

And so every week now, for ten years, I have done so, even though I am no longer a reporter. There are weeks when I stare at the blank screen in near panic, thinking I have absolutely nothing to write about, and other weeks when the words flow faster than I can write them.

I have the leeway to write about almost anything I want. I do generally avoid politics.

I would suggest to any of my blog readers who love to write, to consider approaching their local paper, with column samples in hand, and making the pitch to be a local columnist. What makes it really worth it to me, is when something timely occurs, good or bad, and I am right there and able to comment on it for the whole city to read.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Photographic frustration

I was sitting at my desk, half-dressed, finishing up the weekly column I write for a local paper, when I saw something outside the window that brought me to my feet in excitement.

Not twenty feet away, perched on the raspberry canes post, was a hawk, a big, grey hawk or falcon. Naturally, my camera was in the car. In the ten seconds that it took me to dash out the door half dressed and barefoot, retrieve the camera from the car and get back to the study room where I could take its picture, the majestic bird had already gone.

For ten years, I have been sitting in this chair, looking out at this view and I have never seen such a sight. And today it happened and I wasn't ready for it.

The Corporate Animal

Last night, I looked at an old diary of my Grandmother's. Stuck inside was the price tag, indicating that She bought it at Woolworth's, for 99 cents.

Woolworth's is gone, now. Out of business. Extinct. Vanished forever from the corporate ecosystem.

That's got me thinking. One of the book that my boss is requiring us to read takes a look at the birth, life and death of corporations. And it's made me realize that the organizations which sell us everything from toothpaste to beer to shampoo, are, indeed, in many ways like a living organism.

What is as familiar in your downtown today as the oak tree upon which you carved your high school love, may tomorrow be but a memory. Or it could endure another century.

The company that makes Altoids, Callard and Bowser, has existed since 1700-something. Happens to have one of the weirdest corporate websites on the web, too (

Lea & Perrins has made Worcestershire Sauce since 1835.

Sometimes when I buy something, I look for the company headquarters on the label and look up the location in my atlas. Sometimes I visit the website. You can learn more than you might think about history, about culture, that way.

I have an old brown bottle on my bookshelf, embossed with "Forni's Alpenkrauter Blubeleber." Someday, I'll tell you the fascinating story behind that product.

Savory Squash

Remembering how much I enjoyed rice seasoned with garam masala -- not just tasty but fragrant -- I sprinkled some ground cloves into the squash and potatoes for dinner last night.

Heaven on a plate!

I shall try more combinations like this in the future.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fine Frenzy, redux

I am so dumb. Dumb as a sack of sand. Dumb as moldy bread, as a Klansman, as people who beat their children in Walmart.

I told y'all a while back about the Fine Frenzy CD that wouldn't play.

Went back to B&N today and got another copy. Still wouldn't play. What are the chances of getting two defective CDs in a row?

Sweetie took a look at it as I was putting groceries away.

"You know why this wouldn't play?" She said. "It's a DVD."

Women are smarter than men. I rest my case. And now I am enjoying this lovely DVD.

Pixie Dust to share!

I have linked Pixie Dust, another wonderful and creative Woman, whose blog reveals a deep sensitivity to the rhythm of life and nature, whether in pondering the elements of the earth or observing Her daughter growing up.

Curry in the Big Apple

I sampled a few more pages of Lizzie Collingham's book this morning, "Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors."

It is ironic that She begins Her account of Indian cuisine not in Mumbai, or even Tiruchchirappalli (say that ten times fast!), but in New York City. There are probably street signs in India older than New York City. But of course this brash young American metropolis is a gathering place for people from all around the world.

"The area in Manhattan where 1st Avenue intersects with East 6th Street is so overcrowded with Indian restaurants that it is known as Curry Row," Collingham writes.

Yet another reason why I want to visit New York City before I die.

Rebecca lives there. Maybe if She checks in here sometime soon, She can report firsthand about any experiences She might have had on Curry Row.

It was bound to happen

In Search of Isis got its first spam post today, purporting to be from some clod of dirt named Adam.

Adam, you wasted your time. I deleted your post the moment I saw it. I'm not interested in your get-rich-quick crap. I never will be. Be gone and don't come back.