Saturday, December 24, 2016

For the night is...

...dark and full of terrors. So they say on Game of Thrones.

I'll not patronize and say these terrors are just our own fear of the dark, a fear that seems to spring from our very DNA.

For there are real terrors, and there is real darkness, and to fear such is an adaptive trait.

And yet the same DNA seems to drive us to hope, to seek the light, to remind one another of its return. This capacity to hope, to believe that which cannot in that moment be seen, has fueled the festivals, the celebrations that mark this Mid-Winter time here in the Northern Hemisphere for as long as we can remember.

Our species has left its mark on the stone, the land, the oral and written record of our peoples, talking of the darkness, the terrors, and the light driving out the darkness. Twenty-six and more centuries ago a voice was raised saying:

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light..."

Yet the odd thing, the salient thing for me, is the speaker/writer is not talking of the past. He spoke of the future. I have written before that we are a hopeful species. That seems to be as much part of our makeup as our fear of the dark.

So, look up. Look past the terrors. Look past the dark. On they who dwell in shadow...a light will shine.

Our truths tell us this.

*Image from:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Time: a creeping, leaping thing

*She walks in beauty...or it may be that she runs so, or jogs.

Walking out in the world some time ago I smiled at the sun, warm on my face. As I paused she ran by, lean, lithe, her blonde ponytail swaying with her strides. Perfume, perspiration, and the slap-slap of jogging shoes against the unforgiving pavement.

She rounded a corner and was gone.

Not very long later I rounded the same corner and moved further through the city. A little distance away from me she stood. An older her, a young man by her side, between them a golden retriever. The light changed and the three crossed the street, the retriever straining against the leash wrapped around her outstretched arm. I heard her young man laugh as he walked by her side, his hand in her free one.

They were quickly lost to my view.

Later in my walk, after turns both right and left, I saw in the distance the blonde young woman, a mother now, pulling a golden-haired boy in a little red wagon, a litheness still present in her gait, a curve to her belly hinting future joys.

The golden retriever was now leashed to her young man. They kept pace behind her, the years lying heavy on the dog.

I stood and watched. Her ponytail was gone, her hair a more sensible style. Her young man...his hair already fading...still smiled easily in response to something she said.

I lowered myself to a nearby park bench, not eager to hurry them through further stages. There would be time enough for college-age children, for grandchildren, for a time alone after her young man was gone.

I closed my eyes, letting the early summer sun warm my face, smiling at life.

* My thanks to Lord Byron for the phrase.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Freewrite is here

Freewrite is here.

I never doubted it. Honest. Yes, it's a year later than they said—well, maybe just eight months. Some might have doubted. Not I.

Another project I contributed to, a tablet with the world's greatest operating system and interface, didn't make it. But I never doubted that till one day they said they couldn't do it.

Still, the Freewrite is here. A typewriter for the 21st century. Web enabled, internet connected.

Will this make me a writer? No. I am one. Will it make me a better writer? A harder question to answer. It may, because with it I may write more.

That was the idea behind the product in the first place, and why I thought to support it.

For I am kid, distracted by shiny new toys. And the Internet is full of shiny new toys, and email, and music, and interactions with friends, and...

It doesn't hurt that this Smart Typewriter qualifies as a shiny new toy. I know me: my strengths...and I'm conscious of many of my weaknesses.

So this blog entry, the resurrection of my blog if you will, is a start with this new toy. This new toy designed to help me do what I love to do. 

Tell stories.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Out of darkness unto light

The days, at least here in the northern hemisphere, grow longer. The nights, at this late stage of the year, have begun to be shorter, the light returning earlier and earlier.

In the depths of this dark night I lift my eyes to the sky and face the steady sheen of a full moon. The darkness—lessened, leavened, lightened.

Unbidden, though unsurprising, the words—old even before being written down—sound in my head, out in the world:

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."

Whether those words were actually said in that form, they state a truth that resonates deep within us. That can resonate across our lives, across our world.

With each of us reflecting that "great light" or shining with that light that lives within us, our world can be leavened, lightened.

And the darkness in whatever form lessened.

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

Friday, May 08, 2015

From the sea they came

"You'll be going, so," she'd said to him that day long ago.

Half-grown, as he was then, he still towered over the old woman, his mother. Not so old, he supposed now, not so old in the terms he now understood. But he was young then. Everyone was old.

He could still see her, there in his mind's eye. Graying hair tied back from her face, severe. Some strands had fought free and flew in the wind streaming off the ocean. She'd looked him in the eye, her gaze unwavering.

"Everyone gone now, and I alone."

It wasn't a complaint. He knew that now, had known it even then. She'd buried her husband, his father. Buried the wife of a neighbor also. The neighbor himself had gone away. His house burned down.

"Mind yourself on the road as you go." His mother's last advice to him. "There are those who'd take advantage of a young man making his way in the world."

He'd not said anything, just turned his face to the morning sun and the road that rose before him. He stopped, later, on the crest of the hill east of the huddle of houses that passed for the nearby village. He could just make out her small figure, standing on the beach, face to the ocean waves.

Chanting. He couldn't hear. But he didn't need to.

He'd made his way in the world. There had been those who had tried to take advantage, as she'd warned him. But she'd gifted him with more than milk when she'd nursed him. And so they'd failed.

He was grown now, and successful. And so he'd now returned. The huddle of houses had grown and then diminished. Few in number had any light showing and those lights turned out abruptly as he passed.

His own home was without light. No surprise. He had been away for a long time. But he had returned. It was time for a new generation.

He made his way down to the beach. The waters were gray and restless in the fitful moonlight. He faced the ocean, the salt stinging his skin.

Faintly, carried on the wind, he heard it. Chanting. He was silent, for a moment, for a time, remembering. Then he opened his mouth, adding his voice to the chorus.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ken Cavers Curvy Pen - Black and White

Ever since I saw this fountain pen review—Ken Cavers Bamboo Pen—I've wanted a pen made by this artist with a lathe.

The pens are custom made to the specification of the purchaser, and done in Ken Cavers' spare time. So, a waiting list. A long waiting list. So long, he'd decided to not take further orders till the backlog was cleared.

I resigned myself to the wait, until I couldn't anymore. So one day I emailed to ask if he might have resumed taking orders.

He asked what I wanted.

And so the emails went back and forth. I'd thought of the bamboo style, but Ken'd made many of those and I didn't want to ask for yet another. And the curvy design he has is elegant in its simplicity.

We discussed the material and he sent me photographs of the Black and White acrylics he had in stock. We settled on plain black for the barrel and this wonderful black and white swirl for the cap. The man, being the artist he is, suggested the black band for the finial and added an inlay at the base of the pen, using the acrylic from the cap.

The result is superb in its form and simplicity. The curve fits the hand beautifully.

Ken custom ground the broad steel nib to cursive italic which takes and lays ink without any fuss.

Given I'm learning calligraphy I find the line variation with this nib excellent for my stumbling steps in this new, for me, art form.

You'll find better photographs of this pen on Ken's site.

Below is a sample of the nib's performance. I cannot say how happy I am with this pen. It holds a special place in my collection.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Pausing to listen, for the opportunity to hear

Yesterday, the Saturday before Easter Sunday, we took the time to listen to Bach's St. Matthew Passion. The recording dates from 1962, digitally remastered in 1989.

Time needed to be taken. The entire recording clocks in at just short of four hours! The conductor, Otto Klemperer, was known for slow tempi. He doesn't disappoint. This is not so much the performance of a piece of music as the taking of a spiritual journey.

The Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus, in addition to the Boys of Hampstead Parish Church Choir, accompany him and the listeners on the journey.

Solo parts are performed by an astonishing array of talent: Peter Pears, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Nicolai Gedda, and Walter Berry.

The pacing allowed a near-operatic performance to unfold. But then, is not the subject matter near-operatic in itself?

There are performances of this work that take less time, that may well be in closer to what Bach may have had in mind.

But this is a performance that seeks to move, to engender reflection, to—perhaps—be an expression of a depth of spirituality that can only communicated this way.

I don't know the answer to that final "perhaps." But this was a work that rewarded the pause from the daily round, the time taken to sit with it, and through it.