There is a grandeur in this view of life...while this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a begining endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved
Charles Darwin


A Retired Air Force MSgt Flight Engineer, who knew no strangers, and always had a joke to offer passed peacefully at the ripe age of 91 on Valetine’s Day. The etiology was cardiovascular compromise, which was ironic, considering his big empathetic heart for everybody he met.

Dad lived long and traveled far. Early Valentine’s Day morning, I received a text from my brother, James, “Dad has passed”. The sterile simplicity of the digital disclosure buffered the emotional shock. I read it twice; than, for a third time: Was this cyber communiqué clumsy grammar? My filtering ratiocination dissected the attestation, again. The unencumbered declarative finaly registered, its meaning cognitively moored: corporeal Pop had sailed from this time space continuum.

Family members needed to be notified: children and cousins. The expediency and efficiency of texting and messaging wrings-out the emotive gut wrenching, uncomfortable conversations of condolences with intermitten deafening silence. The texting technology bestowed an empathetic salve of time to process the familial loss.

Two visits to North Carolina were required to actuate Pop’s funeral particulars and, as acting fiduciary of the P’s estate, a litany of obligatory phone calls were essential to close accounts and notify agencies of Dad’s corporeal departure. The reality was, baby bro, aka, the Colonel, already had boxes checked and Dad tucked away in a coffin sipping a beer; James was Mom’s emotional crutch and first responder orchestrator; sis, became mom’s uber driver and confidant;…and, I rolled in from the Founding Father’s Charlottesville, Virgina, the figure head executor to a mission complete, save notifying the cuzs.

By time I arrived, mom was composed and directing the display details of the funeral. The grand matriarch was explicit about my charge: I was assigned to book the closer, cuz, communicator extronaire, Brent Fewox.

Brent, the family’s eulogist [yes, that is a thing] has been bestowed with the mesmerizing, entreating sympathy-glossia; a sliky loquaciousness that reflexively evokes the ahhhh, and spontaneous tear duct seepage. His home spun homilies are massage-like; divesting you from all personal defenses laying you exposed to the nuances of the historical narrative: Dad’s life was peppered with many chapters, convoluted sub-plots—-to plagerizie a beer commercial, “He was a most interesting man”, Brent would explicate the tender familial yarns.

penury imbued his unique perspicacity of critical thinking. The absence of resources does make for a clever man.

The family was on pins and needles because of a coincidental freakish snow/ice cold front that rendered all modes of transportation precarious and ambivalently held Brent hostage, the gifted raconteur from his podium. Fortunately, the inconsiderate inclemency mercurical agents of snow and ice were expediently wicked by the parched milieu; which, rendered roads reliable, and precluded me from attempting to pitch hit for the golden tongue–a win-win situation for everybody!

Dad was a resolute resident of the John Wayne, Gregory Peck generation, where the emphasis was on the demonstrable ‘walk’ of “walk the talk” expression. A man of humble, penury means and limited education had a dream to see the world, and capitalized on the opportunities the military; specifically, USAF, to aerially taxi him to every continent save the Antarctic—musing, the falling short of every continent, one skeptically would ponder, just how much cognitive enrichment would be availed by an endless ice sheet…but whom am I to judge the source of enlightenment. Dad, “Enjoyed” the life and experiences of a service “military” man for 27 plus years; twelve in the Navy, then transition to the continent hopping Air Force. He survived three wars: WWll, Korean, and Vietnam. He attained the respected and highly sought after rank of MSgt with a MOS of flight engineer. One Colonel marveled, “how he intuitively, magical it seemed, could fix an airplane engine with a screwdriver.” Dad had a knack to do more with less: he was imbued in the depression culture; wherein, penury prejudiced his unique perspicacity of critical thinking. The absence of resources does make for a clever man.

Brent did not disappoint; he had the pew attendee’s snikering and sobbing—emotive choas—leaning in and out with each mesmerizing anecdote. The nostalgia trailed off to be juxtapose by a selected song by the grand matriarch, mom, which cued the somber multitude to egress. The song was My Way by Frank Sinatra…

I’ve lived a life that’s full/ I travelled each and every highway/ And more, much more than this, I did it my way… “

The red eyed, emotionally wrung, throng of family and friends spilled out of the funeral home chapel to dovetail into the funeral procession, which meandered to Pop’s final resting site—cognition blurred into a gossamer haze of forced commiserative smiles and clammy hand shakes of condolence—then—the ear piercing military guns salute; where, the trajectory of whirling lead to the stratosphere punctuated finality.

Dad’s Eulogy

His counsel; life lessons of guidance, to me, his son, was not one, of a hand on your shoulder, lean-in soothing admonishing erudition, but, one of forthright action. He was a resolute resident of the John Wayne, Gregory Peck generation, where the emphasis is/was on the demonstrable ‘walk’ of “walk the talk” expression. A man of humble, penury means and limited education had a dream to see the world, and capitalized on the opportunities the military; specifically, USAF, to aerially taxi to every continent save the Antarctic—musing, the falling short of every continent, one skeptically has to ponder, just how much cognitive enrichment would be availed by an endless ice sheet…but whom am I to judge the source of enlightenment.

“Enjoyed” the life and experiences of a service “military” man for 30 plus years, twelve in the Navy, then transition to the continent hopping Air Force. He survived three wars: WWll, Korean, and Vietnam. He attained the respected and highly sought after rank of MSgt, MOS of flight engineer. One Col. commented, he marveled, “ how he (dad) intuitively, magical it seemed, could fix an airplane engine with a screwdriver.” 

When Dad retired, he sensed an academic void and promptly registered in the local community college, where he attained an Associate Degree in Business Management. Inherently, he personified the proverb, “a rolling stone gathers no moss” with this pent-up energy, he melded the alloyed elements of military leadership experiences and now, the shinny new academic organizational business theories, which afforded him the opportunity to ply it to community service. He became a member of the Adjustment and Joint Planning Board of the Town of Spring Lake and served until he was 86 years old. 

It was said, “dad knew no strangers”; greeted everybody with a face consuming smile, that as it raced from ear to ear, it triggered a curtain blinds-like eyelids closing countenance, reflective of squinting, hiding his sky blue eyes. My immediate family has commented that, I too, am plagued with the same syndrome of knowing no strangers. Not a bad learned behavior.  

We, my sibs and I, all had dad exclusive moments. He luxuriated in a story of me, which I have no recollection of when I was a weee toddler of the mature years of three, who apparently had the chimera mad skills of a contorted, nimble spider and backhoe digging armadillo: squeezing and burrowing through a backyard fence. I liberated myself of the confining chain fence multiple times before he found the escape route. He was astounded at my ingenuity and perseverance. 

Then, during my rebellious adolescence years, super charged and crazed with hormones, spurred to distraction by a fire red head “preacher’s daughter had the temerity one evening, due to a schedule conflict, to abdicate my sib sitting duties to my sister, while mom and dad were out for the evening. The fantasy date went south, reasoning crept back into the prefrontal cortex, and I realized…opps. Returning home was a two-day rationalizing introspection, which when was all said and done in my head, didn’t go well: it segued into a biblical retribution. Dad thought a belt lashing was proportional punishment to my irresponsibility and the mental duress I selfishly inflicted on both of them of not knowing my whereabouts for two days; mom was really upset. His prelude to the belt flinging was, “this is going hurt me more than you.” I demurred to that premised and contended that I felt it, the pain, more than he did…just sayin’

A look of confidence that said volumes: Dad accompanied me to purchase my first car. It was a 1972 VW Beetle, stick shift. I paid $2,200. After all the paper work was completed, a receipt of sale handed to me; I paid cash. Dad and I walked to the shinny, lemon yellow bug. He opened the door for me; he noticed it was a stick shift and queried, “When did you learned to drive a stick?” “Some friends taught me”, I replied. “Alright, you got this.” He didn’t challenge or looked back. 

Dad’s careening emotions of parenting was demonstrable in his intrigue in my toddler creative ingenuity, disappointedly aggravated in my adolescence rebellion and flushing with pride in my young man independence.Mom said, “That Dad winked and said, “Love you” the night before he passed……. Here’s winking at you Dad…

Bibliomaniacs Running Amuck


The last National Book Festival, which has a laudable 18 year history, was remarkable; the largest since its inception with 200,000 bibliophiles bustling, bumbling, and bumping into each other like bumper-cars in the corridors of Walter E. Washington Convention in proximity of the iconic Capitol. Nerdy, bespeckled bookworms writers were drawing rock n’ roll luminaries crowds, which were stuffing auditoriums to capacity and demanded, unfortunately, turning away serpentine lines of enthusiastic, literary groupies. 

Exalted dignitaries spiced the soup of literary conjurers: adjudicator, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor plugging her new children’s book, Turning Pages: My Life Story–and–former Secretary State Madeleine Albright promoting her book that premonishes the insidious garrison state, “Fascism: A Warning”.  A record number of authors–a quantity which was not devulged–an esoteric statistic tantalizingly coveted for a mystery waiting to be written, I’m sure, ushered in their books of an array of genres. The book festival was a metropolis for every facet of the printed word: writers that distinguished themselves recieved alcolades, to include remunerative compensations; and, there was the hawking of their precious word wares of phrases and clauses amounting to an eye bulging, jaw dropping record of 17,000 books purchased.

Two Christians’ Dialogue and Reflections With a Heathen

A couple of faith enlightened friends commented on my last posting; in which, I solicited a descriptive verification of the sacrosanct voice of the divine crafter of the universe. They basically inadvertently confirmed my cursory purview, that to pin down a definitive consecrated intonation, “the vocalization” of the Supreme Being, toga donning, hirsute hoary locks and beard flowing is, as elusive as the proof provided by the faith promulgaters that the grand choreographer of billions of galaxies,  even exist—but, whom am I to judge.  

Science and Religions have had a long historical antagonistic rapport; where religions are entombed in their intransigent dogma, precluding any modernity updated critiques to thier antiquated, dinosaurian dusted ecclesiastical conicals –vs– the neck-breaking progress of Science of critical thinking, where facts are accumulated, Dagwood sandwich-like with layerings of condiments and produces; which, are stratified stackings of symbolic eurekas elucidating evidence of the natural world rebuking the “God did it” “ole”slippers” fitting comfortable answer.

My first rarefied friend tried to sympathetically reinsure me with the consoling warm emotive swath, that in spite of my misguided science, he inferred, “preconceptions”, you know, that empirical method that wrings out evedinece from the natural world’s moist nooks and crannies of obdurate facts, that “God loves me.” Naturally, the appropriate response of comity is, thank you, but, then, there is those obstinate facts that tarnish such gracious benevolent gestures of alms. I’m mystified by the idea that intelligent, 21st century sentient beings who would without scrutiny, blinded by faith, subscribe to ancient texts; roughly five thousands years old, Old Testament dicpicting a grumpy ole’ ominescient, omnipotent diety, who is, it appears, in a perpetual bad mood and demonstrates his displeasures and disappointments of his miraculous creation of man and woman with merciless retributions: eviction from the Garden of Eden; floodocide, the extrimination of all living creatures, save Noah, fam, and a selected rep of animals; genocides of cultures, Caannites comes to mind; stories of murdering of children for making fun of a bald man, specifically, Elisha in 2 Kings 2:23-25, complicit condoning of the abhorrent practice of slavery which was enthusiastically encourage in Exodus 21:2-6, Leviticus 25:39-55, and Deuteronomy 15:12-18….Then, there is the two thousand year old, New Testament, in which the allegorical scripture suggest that the son of God, Jesus, the Man-God traipsed, donning a toga and sandals, on this watery planet from Bethlehem to Nazareth, Jerusalem to the Sea of Galilee, where, he incidentally, did his miraculous walking on water two step, continuing with wet feet he saunters from Capernaum to Jericho…and his final tour, wrapping it up, meanders through Dolorosa to Calvary where he was crucified, supposably to absolve man/woman of their sins, yet, we still sin? Now, an omninescent God would be privy to this fine detail, still, God the Father, who is, at the same time Jesus?, complicit in his son’s/himself crucification…yet, we still sin? If you, the omninescent, all knowing, knew this was a futile endeavor, why put your son/yourself through this grueling, cruel death? Hmmm, life is precious? This surly confounds me? Then, there is this inexplicably chauvinistic troglodyte mindset that is seeded in the old Testament and seagues into the New Testament of women debasement and oppression, which is befuddling, because any cursory perusal unequivocally evinces that the double XX chromosome is the wiser of the genders. You gotta love Genesis, the nascency of all; to include, misogamy, where in Genesis 3:16 foments patriarchy, male chauvinism, gender inequality, and a blind-eye tolerance of violence against women by men: “will make childbearing unbearably difficult for the woman, and shall make her desires contrary to her husband’s who shall rule over her”…woman was made from spare anatomical male parts, suggesting an after thought on God’s part; not one for planning, I presume, yet he can whip-up an universe? This egregious depravation of patriarchy and submission is promulgated by reams of scripture: 1 Timothy 2:12, Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18, etc, etc…where was Jesus, granted, he apparently had a kinder disposition than his former grumpy Old Testament self, but no out cry of indignation on women rights, or slavery, and then there is science…a vacuum, a void….I could continue with countless accounts of antiquated ancient culture norms condone by the Abrahamic God, but that is what they are: archaic, not applicable to the 21st century, which brings me to the incongruency of an all loving God: I beseech you to take a 360 worldwide gander: War, Pestilence, Bigotry, Racism…then, there is that ominous threat of perpetual condemnation to the fiery four star hotel of perdition. Love? I suggest your yahweh has a strange sense of humor, but thank you for thinking of me.

My other pious friend shared with me a family member, consumed in the horrific futile battle with cancer, who’s experienced perception of the Omnipotent’s voice was like, “peaceful and so amazing”. I hope, I never have to sit by the bedside with a family member who’s life is being winked-out by mutants of prolific cell division metastasizing like weeds in a vacant lot. This thought, sends apprehensive shudders down my spine; grimacing with hopeless trepidation of no ameliorative strategy to offer my love one. I bow my head in sorrow and respect and offer my humblest of sincere condolences: Sorry……………. But, I beg your patience, when I ask, how do you reason through the deduced conclusion that the Omnipotent is also, the author of the pestilence cancer. Other friends, who have reverent, veneration inclinations of something is bigger than us, is out there watching, maybe intervening have intimated that this “entity”, obviously my word, imposes tribulations that we can handle, to  teach, or direct a life path. I would suggest terminal cancer is to weighty of a challenge and its didactic application spills over to an interperptative cruelty. My tendentious impression…Now, if the family member in their dwindling precious time on the planet, said, ” I heard God, by goodness, they heard God, if they heard ducks, ducks it is—whatever they want, but again, with your permission, I would like to suggest another interpretation of your family’ member’s rendition of God’s voice; knowing your adroit skills as a nurse, would it be possible that the family member was feeling the assuaging narcotic: just a clinician’s thought.   

To insure there is no misundersanding, let me be pellucid; life is a minefield of tribulations and whatever gets you to the end of the day with a smile on your face, a metaphoric song in your heart, and a skip in your gait, “grab it” and if its God, well, not my choice, but whom am I to judge: Mathew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” …….and, as my above ecumenical friends would intimate in departure: “have a blessed day”…………….thank you for reading….


Evangelicals Private Audience with The Omnipotent

When my, bless their little hearts, Evangelical friends have alluded to a personal conversation with God/s (the plurality is to entertain the Trinity concept that defies basic math and throws sand into the gears of logic to the assertion of monotheism–but– that in itself,  is another topic for a blog posting), back to the conversation with the omnipotent, the creator of the every expanding Universe; which, call me skeptical, or maybe cynical, but I will go with skeptical with the earnest effort of attempting, difficult as it may be, to maintain  an open mind to the rationalizing enlightened evangelical with their chimerical perception.

The nascency of this essay was borne from the dust of FB comments; where, my faith enthralled friends daily thank and supplicate “The Almighty” for a host of personal agendas. I’m just musing, but I would think, the architect of the mind boggling vast universe might be a touch preoccupied, which Cosmologist, the erudite star gazers, discerned through probing scientific inquiry there are two hundred billion galaxies, each with a hundred billion stars and planets. We are residents of the Milky Way galaxy, where the itty-bitty planet earth spins and swirls.

So, I have two questions for the enlightened, faith imbued, morally elevated ones; the incessantly prostelyzing evangelicals:

  1. What does God’s voice sound like?
  2. How many ears does the earth obsessed numen have?

Now, as dubious as this might sound, I, the atheist, consulted my King James Bible for a scriptural verse/s that would definitively elucidate a providential intonation. Actually, I Googled and crosschecked with a reaffirmation reading of the authenticate Word in the sacrosanct Bible: accuracy verification. However, we will run the guantlet of preconcieved interpretations starting with Cecil B. DeMille cinema crafting of Charlton Heston’s heavily modified voice in his Ten Commandments (1956), the phrase “the voice of God” has become a synonym for “deep male voice”;God speaks in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). When the prophet Samuel heard God’s voice (1 Samuel 3), it was so ordinary-sounding that Samuel thought it was his teacher Eli. It took God four—four!—calls to Samuel to get the young prophet’s attention;“‘Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’” (Jeremiah 23:29); but the voice of God itself, suggests Jewish tradition, is heard in many different tones. When Moses heard God speak to him for the first time at the burning bush, the ancient rabbis stated that God’s voice sounded to Moses like that of his father Amram; the Talmud describes God as speaking to the wise through a heavenly voice termed a bat-kol: literally, a “daughter of a voice.” The implication is clear: God can make His—nay, Her—voice sound like a woman’s; …….and, so,If God’s voice changes to suit the ear of the listener, then the divine word—like the sound of the divine voice itself—may also be open to new, multiple tones and interpretations. I would like to suggest one more consideration: God might sound like yourself……yea, I would strongly urge to go with that! My suspicions are, that the talk you had or having with God is more in a format of a Shakespearian soliloquy. The biblical spin to try and account for, the multifarious acoustics of the Almighty’s articulation is suggestive of a duplicitous ruse; but if, one could corrobate with multiple sources, possibly, all the fortuitous evangelicagals that had secured a private bat channel to God’s undivided attention and unequivocally described God’s voice as a booming baritone…well, then, proof positive…but, what we have is an eclectic array of garrulous utterances. Peer substantiation would lend weighted credance to claim. Just suggesting, those voices in your head, might not be the omnipotent. Which sorta segues to my next question of, does the Creator really have time to sit down and chat being mindful of the ratio of size significance, or in our case, insignificance?

Facetiously, I suggested that for the Almighty to entertain billions of conversations, she/he/it would be sporting poly-auricles, which is silly from many perspectives; one, right off the “side”of my head is [was there an appreciative chortle for the trite pun] the divine entity is non-corporal: bodiless, wanting of any anatomical feature(s), to include the hormones; the physiological elixir of emotions secreted by gonads and the pituitary glands…hmmm, compassionate, and all loving, without the the excreting organ wouldn’t it be null (?), and the gender question, well, my goodness! But, the humbling ratio of size of the planet earth to the universe— and— to continue with the logical “connect the dots” discography, our puny existence is infinitesimally irrelevant: roughly, the earth is to the observable universe as an atomic nucleus is to the earth; really itsy-bitsy! To reiterate, why, if there where a guardian God, whatever pronoun that fits your fancy, probably wouldn’t entertain a/your private audience because it would be comparable to you having a conversation with an electron of an electron cloud buzzing around the nucleus of a carbon molecule in the matrix tissue of any one of the five vital organs of your body temple.

I realize, my above satirical commentary, will not sway, convince the die-hard 1st century man-god believers, who are enthralled in the cosmology of the Bible and think scientist are a cabal of elite know it all frauds; science is just wrong, there is just one universe created six thousand years ago with no evolution or climate change, which is just unadulterated hooey.

Facts are stubborn things and randomness is the norm. Amen!




The Dragon Hunter: The Sequel

While vacationing at Corolla, one of the northern barrier islands running parallel and inadvertently a buffer to the head butting waves of the Atlantic Ocean of the North Carolina eastern shores, I seredepitously happen onto a Wildlife Program being sponsored by the Outer Banks Center For Wildlife Education to introduce munchkins, you know, lil’ people; more specifically, Jackson, my grandson to the engrossing bulbous eyed, shimmering wing, aeronaut gymnast, the pond denizen dragonfly, aka “The Dragon”. In a prior post   I wrote about an extended conversation that Jackson and I had; where he intimated, his enthrallment with the mythical reptile with wings and confided that his source for everything dragon was the furry stuffed lion, steadfast companion, Tigie, the allege erudite drangonologist. Another dubious source, that validates the chimerical sauropodian is the ancient text, the Bible, whose passages skirts facts with allegorical life lessons, but with regards to the scaly, fire breather conflates and confounds the moniker to Satan, leviathan (a sea monster/ whale); and then, in Rev 12:1-17, describes a hedious mutant as a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems—not really shore, what the life lesson is in this, best interpreted as a rendition of a delusional fantasy, but  who am I to  judge? My intent was to naturalize the fabled dragon to an authenticate dragon, and the four-winged, pond predator insect—common vernacular, a dragonfly, appeared to fit the bill.

The vicissitude dragon discussion from superstition to substative carbon crafted critters with Jack was as effortless as a dragonfly’s arerial, on a dime, 90 degree banking turn off a gentle breeze that rustles cattails and propels surface pond ripples. The dictum by Louis Pasteur, “Fortune favors the prepared mind”, seemed applicable to Jack, who appeared to be in search of a reality handle for the drangon nomenclature.

When we arrived at the Outer Banks Center For Wildlife Education, we were meet by a looming carnivorous Ursidian; Jackson was immediately raptured by the big, stuffed teddy bear—a far cry cut above the Walmart greeter. The Center’s foyer was staged with an array of skeletons of wetland denizens; an impressive complete bone rack was displayed in a case of a porpoise, which was the impetus of a machine gun of run on queries from Jackson. Propitiously, Sarah, the dragonfly guide appeared, whose presence was a Kevlar vest against the strafing interrogation. Mind you, Jackson’s questions were cogently formated, but I had no clue, and Sarah saved me from the embarrassing reply of, “I don’t know”.

Sarah initiated the class with basic anatomy, which is an entomological taxonomist’s roadmap to the vernacular and latinized nomenclature of the pond patrolling predators. All animals and plants have a first and last name,  its latinized as Genus and species, which came into play in 1753 with Species plantarum for flora and Sytema naturae for animals in 1758 by the polymath Swede, Carl Linnaeus. The biography, Linnaeus Nature and Nation, Lisbet Koerner, 1999, succintinly stipulated the framing of systematics, “Linnaeus invented a binomial nomenclature, designating, each species of flora and fauna by a two-word code consisting of the name of its genus anda species epithet. As suggested by his name for this indexical practice, nomina trivialia, he himself only understood the importance of it toward the end of his life. Nonetheless, his species labels continue to this day to answer to the practical needs of the wider scientific community.”——— And, to sway the tenacious skeptic, still, the banter between Alice and the gnat, Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll, aka, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1871, on the eminence of names was emphasized: “What’s the use of their having names,”the gnat said,”if they won’t answer to them?” “No use to them,” said Alice; “but it’s useful to the people that name them, I suppose, If not, why do things have names at all?”—-eventually, as Alice and the gnat corroborated about the different insects and their sobriquets, there was reference to the ‘subject’ winged hexapod, the dragonfly, “And there’s the Dragon-fly.” “Look on the branch above your head,” said the Gnat, “and there you’ll find a Snap-dragon-fly. Its body is made of plum-pudding, its wings of holly-leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy.” “And what does it live on?” Alice asked, as before. “Frumenty and mince-pie,” the Gnat replied; “and it makes its nest in a Christmas-box.” I much prefer Lewis Carroll’s rendition of the “dragon”-fly to John’s of Patmos, the putative author, of Revelation; one is scrumptious the other is scary.

More tedium about systematics; an eye glass-over evoker, but for people who do relish the fastidiousness of orderly compartmentalization our revered dragon belongs to the Class: Insecta; Order: Odanata ; Suborder Anisoptera; not to be conflated  with the other suborder, Zygoptera the damseflies—are you nodding off yet, back to Jack…

After the preamble orientation of what we were going to be swinging a net at, Jack was handed the preeminent tool of all serious entomologist: the net, which was attached to a long pole to facilitate reach. Jack beamed a Cheshire Cat smile. There was a learning curve to the adroit swing of the net, which  Jack was a quick study, but only after transitioning through the experimental phase of an erratic swirling, swooshing net that emulated a windmill, and the mercilessly beating of bushes into piles of crumpled leaves, where once a dragonfly perched. Once mastered, his swing was surgically precise netting many dragonflies, notably the pondhawk; smile of success was blinding: The student became the master. Sarah’s job was done, she had seeded an interest in the natural world via the dragon.




Yet, Another New England Seaside Mystery

My son Benjamin, aka Benji, my assigned sobriquet, which I’mmm— pretty sure, he just ignores, and chalks it up as, it’s the ole-man, and he ain’t right, was doing a reading from a piece he wrote, Don’t Worry, Your “Secret” is Safe with Me, in commenonration of his MFA degree completion from Southern Connecticut State University on campus—roughly eight hours away. This meant, “road trip adventure”—disembarking from the home front to a distant doss has/”had” the same lethal consequences as a Petri dish, whose inoculates, The Boss Lady and I, have the fecundity of Ebola with the potentiating virulence to give rise to risable mishaps; especially, when careening the interstate dodging eighteen-wheelers. There was one occasion, NASCAR aspirant, Boss-Lady, needled through traffic to pass a convoy of trucks pitched to a degree of freeing two wheels, as if to simulate a rude hand gesticulation poignantly directed at the inconsiderate truck drivers. The insidious dark side of the Boss-Lady, jack in the box-like impetuousness has its mischievous ramifications! The marathon drive was emotionally eclectic, which was spurred by looming trailers of 18 wheelers’ casting sun-eclipsing shadows; interstate sluggishness exhibiting symptoms of cardiovascular disease with embolic car congestion; and then, the notorious “New England mystery“, the enigmatic  highway clot; a near impedance of car flow, engendering driver and co-pilot anginia angst without apparent cause: Thirty miles from our desired hotel, MapQuest informed us that it would take 1 hr and 30 minutes—why??— therein, lies the confoundment. The perps, agents of ferment, had multiple ideologies: 1) It was Friday and the working Connecticutians were going home after their work  stint in New York City; 2) multiple graduations that weekend to include, the renown ivy-league Yale; and 3) a plausible wreck, which no hints of crumpled fenders were spied—befuddled countenance, mumbling expletives were pervasive portraits among the white knuckled, red faced drivers when a sole malefactor could not be fingered.

When we finally arrived in Milford, just short of the definitive destination of New Haven’s campus of Southern Connecticut State University, we were testy and tired, and in dire need of food and alcohol anodynes to ameliorate the manifold grumblings of hunger and irritability. We found our therapeutic solace at SBC Restaurant & Beer Bar, a brewery with Dagwood Bumstead’s size burgers that encroached on the entire realestate of the plate leaving little room for the accompanying fries; not a criticism, just an assessment. After scarfing down the bodacious burgers and beers, we felt compelled to do a cursory casing of the quaint coastal town; hoping, to remedy the cloud of confinding car travel ickiness—comparable to poping a mint to absolve halitosis. Resolution appeared just out of reach, we chalked it up to an under current of fatigue, in spite of the propelling edgy energy—early to bed, might be the panacea.

We both woke up early “naturally” the next morning; without the jarring ring of alarms. Presumably, excited about the cuminating climax of the day: attending Benji’s reading, and meeting the cast of  supporting characters that fostered our son’s academic pursuit of writing. Before daring I-95 again by navigating the nexus West Haven to New Haven, the Boss Lady planned a little excursion to Silver Sand State Park located on Long Island Sound, 297 acres of beach, dunes, restored salt marsh and the satellite bird sanctuary of Charles island within proximal visual and audible entreating  sirens of salt zephyrs. The Boss Lady is fully in tuned to the instinctinonal allure the estuary has for marine biologists, like pheromones and photons it engenders the inner moth—attempting to quench an insatiable consummation I, scent bound, humbly attempt to walk in the shadows of two avant-garde icons, marine biologists, Ed Ricketts and Rachel Carson. Ed Ricketts, renaissance biologist that popularizied ecological terms of estuary and niche, and philosophically, promulgated that organisms should be empirically studied as an intergal agent inextricably embedded in their habitat; and, Rachel Carson, perspicaciously-Sherlockian linked the pesticide DDT, which has a propensity to persist in the environment to endangering the bald eagle to near extinction. I reverentially attempt to emulate their verve as they gallvanted through the wetland  with the imagined audible sucking inertia of foot prying from mud; a squishy, methane odoriferous, ebony colored foot print, which forged an inevitable path through Spartina alterniflora, a smooth saltmarsh cordgrass; and, defensively swatted the annoying ubiquitous bitting midges, aka no see ums, optically stealth with over 4,000 species. The sorties of raptorial flies are a bargain entrance fee to the enamor rhapsody of the ocean’s nursery: The Estuary.

The morning romp was a ramble on established asphalt walkways and wooden bridges; our attire and footware dictated the cultivated venues: no detritus slurpy stepping. The clime of the day was not invitingly cordial; a canopy of nimbus clouds unfurled a gray haze sheet with dual vexation of chilling wind and soggy intermitten showers. Everything glisten with a sheen of wetness, the colors of the floral and mudflats were dominated by drab greens, hues of browns—and— with exclamatory exceptions of blinding brillance of lemon yellow, new growth green, and typing paper white. The incandescent yellow was the Boss Lady’s rendition of the Morton Salt Girl; tendentiously her portrayal had it all over the original 1914 debut—new and improved; splotches of tightly cropped, nascent green were, burgeoning smooth cord grass; and, the typing paper white was, the solitary great egret stalking for brekfast of piscine morsels. Slowly swirling in a 360 absorbing, as the mudflats with fluctuating tides, I became saturated, soggy with estuarine ambiance; I nodded to the Morton Salt Girl, signaling, it’s time to leave.

With wary consternation, we set our MapQuest to SCSU, then forged ahead on the mystical I-95 via West Haven. There was a sigh of relief after, we did not encounter any inexplicable sluggish traffic impedance; we arrived unencumbered from vehicular congestion and vexation. Mouse like, we navigated the labyrinth of corridors to the English Dept’s “Common Room”, where the presentations would be emancipated by authors to the public to consume and ponder. We were the first to arrive, which easily could have been suggestive/interpreted as a saddlebag of apprehension; mounting anticipation of Benji’s reading and a trepidation of being tardy and missing the ceremony. As we sat and waited, we were spectators to the viewing of the pageantry of primary characters: academic dons and their understudies, the readers, and supporting cast of family and friends waiting readily to forment adulation. During this interlude, an emotional stirring anticipatory prelude to the litarary shindig, we meet Tim Parish, Benji’s Thesis Director, a towering of a man, sporting bifocales and a finely cropped hoary goatee, who had a perpetual smile and melodious voice that beseeched entrustment: You immediately felt welcomed in his presence. His meritorious comments about Ben’s work ethics evoked beams of pride; we thought, he gets and knows the Ben we respect and love.

The inception of the belletristic gala commenced with the perfunctory preambles of the profs and their apprentices: Tim’s intro to Ben was laudably masterful, which magnified his attributes and his writings hook, that was irrefutably spot on:“Ben’s book is a work of brilliant structure, unconventional and daring narrative, and deep search for what truth may lie in the labyrinthine ways we tell stories to ourselves and others.”and then, the unconventional was emphasized by Tim when he made reference to his content enriching satrical sketches...“It would be folly to try and summarize Ben’s narrative, so I will simply say that it is primarily a desperate and wildly creative search for meaning by its narrator, as well as journey into the unknowable through multiple genres, including Ben’s provocative sketches. It’s also, at times, really funny.”

So— Ben is at the podium, and had decided to read from a short piece, Don’t Worry, Your Secrete is Safe with Me!, not the beefy tome, that Tim made reference to, “This is Ben’s thesis. I haven’t weighed it, but I can safely say that its physical heft far outweighs any thesis I’ve ever had before.” Does the environment, the shrouding culture impinge on ones creative thoughts, perceptions—a quick reference to the nature v nurture controversy; where, nature infers genetics and nurture the encroaching variables of the environment—my suspicion is, the nurture of the New England literary cult of cringing mysteries is so pervasive it incarcerates the imagination.  What I’m suggesting is, New England writers are predispose to a selective literary theme manipulation; the climax is a resolution of the Churchillian quote, “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”—some one, did something, to somebody at an undisclosed time? Affirmation of my visceral conjecture was confirmed by Mystery Readers international with its Volume 17, No 1 Spring 2001, Mystery Readers Journal, New England Mysteries: its a real thing! Seldom do I have a cogent point, ever, but Ben’s story toting a secrete confers a tantalizing mystery by emotively exhuming a misconstrued convention of  an assumed familial relationship; when the mother of two sons,  computer stumbles on a “possibly serendipitous” gay porn site, which was recently visited, and then attempts, apprehensively to investigate. The matriarch’s detective maneuvering method is the steeping of Ben’s crafted realization that love does not seague into an expected trust, when Ben concludes, “So: the question then was this: Have you ever done anything that one might reasonably construe as bigoted toward, say, a particular group, person? Course, ’cause you know the answer but didn’t care to hear it said aloud, you never asked your brother why he felt as though he couldn’t trust you with the TRUTH.” 

We were extremely proud of Ben that day; the literary cornucopia of essays and poems from his class were very impressive: the delightful inspiring “word” still reigns supreme as a catalyzing agent fomenting diversity and pluralism.  We wrapped up with hugs and beer imbibing—very satisfying!  The Boss Lady and I were in search for an unique, memorable meal to emphatically capitalize the incredible day; our search found an authentic Peruvian resturatant, which for the life of me, I can’t recall what I ordered, but it was disparately Peurivan, and I thought, musing while masticating, whatever it was—since the ancient Peruivans— the Incas, most important God was Inti, the “sun” god a homonym to son, this was indeed, the perfect commemorative feast. I shared this with the Boss Lady, she wryly smiled and sipped her wine, a then gave a head shake with the  familar countenance of, you silly man.  

The next day, we drove home without all the theatrics of annoying traffic—we smiled a lot reflecting… Thank you Ben, for a wonderful time.     


Walking by H.D. Thoreau

The trite phrase of “You can’t judge a book by its cover”— originally, the closing word was binding not cover and it was attributed to a 1944 edition of the African journal American speech—which, this svelte, modestly jacketed edition of Walking, it too, oratory in genesis, was a compilation of a mutating speech, whose maiden name was The Wild. This exposition was publicly intimated ten times, so goes the scuttlebutt; then, committed to publication in 1862 after his, Henry, passing in the prime of life, age 44 from a bacterium, not a Civil War bullet; the pernicious Mycobacterium tuberculosis, one of the leading infectious agents causing mortality in the 19th and 20th century. The mutable body of the speech inchoately metamorphosing into the sacrosanct tabernacle of the book, which wonders around dissecting and analyzing the transitional nexus from the seeding origin of raw nature of accentuating relationships of  photosynthesis, symbiosis, commensalism, and predator prey dependency to the cumbersome intricacies of the expectations of society, which in it’s effort to rein-in, control, and harness the bustling, blundering energy takes on the perception of a skirmish. In spite of my prolix preamble, the book is about walking and philosophizing ad nauseam–eventually– ending up in the bucolic neighborhood of the woods, where the denizens slither, hop, and take wing.

Henry elevated the practice of a walk as a gift from God; you have to be mentally prepared, grace imbued and be astutely sensitize to acknowledge all the subtle complexities of the circumambience as one foot is laid, one after another: …Henry intimates,“It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers.” … People walk for different reasons, and so, they define their peripatetic efforts in accordance to their acquired, tailored benefits–and, the pace–is distinctly denoted as brisk or sauntering; the former, a geometrical elucidated line-like; the shortest distance from the destignations A to B, head down and serious; the latter, affords the traveler opportunities to be tangentially distracted by nature’s sirens.—…Henry demurs about the intention to walk, “But the walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours —as the Swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day.”…”Moreover, you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking. When a traveler asked Wordsworth’s servant to show him her master’s study, she answered, Here is  his library, but his study is out of doors.”… 

I, personally, reeking of retirement bliss, adressed the walking experience  with reference to gradients: ascending, descending and planar. There is a population of walkers, one in particular, The Boss Lady, who enjoys the clamber upward and over rocks, where conifers are the dominant botonical umbrella–and– rambles among the rubble of stones with the same grace as the gravity defying mountain goat; agile, nimble, fleeting heel-toe (in the ungulates case, hoofs) springing from inertia–sure footed elan. Me, on the other “foot”, I subscribe to descending/planar trekking, using gravity as an assistant friend in search for a body of water, where I plant signature foot prints along the shore line inadvertently startling wading birds, camouflage frogs and sun bathing turtles; a landscape cauldron that has the life sustaining liquid, emotinally awashing with dousing placidity—did I mention, I was retired? Since the inception of my twilight years, aka retirement by vetran conscripts, my quotidian schedule has a perfunctory lakes sauntering as priority, Henry, too, was a subscriber to routine, ” My vicinity affords many good walks; and though for many years I have walked almost every day, and sometines for several days together, I have not yet exhausted them.”  which was the impetus that engendered my interest in Henry’s book, Walking. Unlike Henry though, my path does not have a magnetic compass  west, “My needle is slow to settle,—varies a few degrees and does not always point due Southwest, it is true, and it has good authority for this variation, but it always settles between west and south-southwest. The future lies that way to me, and the earth seems more unexhausted and richer on that side.” ……………………”So we saunter toward the Holy Land—me, not so much—till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he had done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great  awakening light, as warm and serene and goden as on a bankside in autumn.” … I’m just bumbling along in my saunter; where, the water-line interfaces with mud visiting the denizens of this very special ecological niche. Enjoy your walk

My Grandson’s Sanctuary: Imagination

My grandson, Jackson, aka Jack, who, like all typical seven year olds has a fertile imagination; a virtual airport that entreats fantasies, which are not shackled to the reality of the basic laws of science—essentially, a free passport to air castles.

The mere mention of castles, stone fortified mansions, residence of reigning regality, armored Knights and shadow casting, soaring scale-clade, fire breathing mythical dragons, immediately catapults you back to the medieval era of 5th and 6th century, where legendary King Arthur and Merlin the Sorcerer extraordinaire, the keeper of roiling, bubbling cauldrons of ameliorative medicinals laid folklore footprints.

Ensconced in this antediluvian realm is where the zygote of my grandson’s fantasies gestated to term with the caveat, Jack has an accomplice, Tiggie’, a Yorkshire Terrier size, stuffed, tan lion—yes I know, there is a species discrepancy in the big cats, but reality lines are blurred and for all intentional purposes banned, soooo, continuing, Tiggie’ is Jack’s whisperer for all things mythical; unbeknownst to myself, also a  renown savant in dragonology.

Jack and his anthropomorphic lion confidant catalyzed a reverie of a 1960s cartoon series of Sherman and Mr Peabody, where Mr. Peabody was a bow tie don beagle who adopted a 7 year old human son, Sherman. This up right ambulating, be-speckled canine, a cerebral polymath invented a time machine called WABAC, which is an acronym for way-back. The dog boy relationship assumes a professorial don to student bond; wherein, the promulgation of historical academics is achieved by witnessing past events in real time. Please excuse the tangential musing, but the coincident of 7 years old boys’ animal whisperers of cartoon and stuffed animal, were literary ambrosia—couldn’t, wouldn’t pass it up with a walk around, or step-over; to tantalizing to omit.

A canceled school day due to inclement weather; icy roads born of rain and below freezing temperatures, triggered an epidemic parental agitated panic pacing  because the taxi dependent children of the colloquial banana colored buses were thwarted. This engendered the emotional dam cracking and spewing of high pressure consternation: “I have to go to work”, the pensive parent snap, and “where are the munchkins going to hang”—well, that’s my cue, the retired grandpa and the serendipitous invitation into my grandson’s gossamer veiled fantasies, where good and bad dragons reside and reign.

The early morning ringing of a phone engenders an autonomous GI titration of  gastric acidic juices and fleeting, disjointed thoughts of most parents–even grandparents, of what might have gone wrong with the kids. You answer the phone with trepidation; it’s Melissa with a soft inquiry and plea, “am I free and would I be amendable to hanging with Jack”, aka, the cleverly imaginative one, who is counseled and spurred to cognitive flights of fantasy by the celebrated, sagacious Tiggie.

Jack arrived accompanied with all the accouterments of a street panhandler; different bags of sorts swaying and dangling from his core frame as if to take on the mission of extra body limbs. One specific bag was the imaginative gateway, whose contents were the fairy dust of fantasy, the ingredient key to the realm of dragons, lots and lots of dragons. Opening the  attache revealed a brigade of army men figurines and a large, in comparison to the figurines, black dragon; pigmentation is taxonomically significant in dragonology. Naturally, time tested confidant and Wisperer, Tiggie was contiguously close in an affectionate head lock.

Once, all the epiphytic accouterments were unplucked, free for gravity to have its way, the eclectic heap was scurried to its appropriate destination; lunch in the refrigerator, shoes in the footwear rack, jacket in the closet, and the magical attache was schlepped to the den, the projected  battlefield strategy site for a showdown between Army men and Black Dragon. As the enchanted parcel was being whisked to its assigned real estate, a muffled hum came from within, something like an incoherent noise in the opposite room you just can’t identify, but promptly dismissed as an “overactive imagination”—and so it begins.

During the logistical kerfuffle, Melissa hugged Jack and hastily made a retreat to the door, then off to the daily grind gig, cognitively unencumbered, somewhat serene; Jack was safe, even though she left him with me, “The GOBY”, acronym for grumpy ole’ bastard—the extra Y is an alpha character for emphasis on the preceding word.  Children have this amazing intuitive power to penetrate gruff exteriors to assess behavioral intent; Jack knew, I was a crotchety blowhard, an ole’ dog with no teeth. When I grumble, he reciprocates a smile. Jack made a cursory camera-like panning of the familiar rooms and promptly started staging the battlefield of man vs mythical dragon.

Comfortably slouched in a leather chair besieged by books, newspapers and magazines, I was strategically proximal to the kitchen’s horse-shoe contingent window panes, which permitted a vista of the back yard; where, center staged, is an eye magnet landscaping feature of a bubbling, hypnotic waterfalls, whose liquid contents are gravity rambling, ricocheting off random rocks that are luxuriantly dressed in a verdant wardrobe of sphagnum moss, spewing droplets and decibels, my attention rollicks from reading to reflection. A screech spear pierced my placidity, precipitating a reflex of body contortion toward the obnoxious stimulus and immediately secured a safety check of Jack’s well being, “what was that, are you OK?” My query open up the fairyland barn door emancipating a conversation of chimeran critters. Jack assured me he was fine, the hideous shrill, he explicated, “was the black dragon’s howls from Army gun fire.” “Whaaat?” as if, Jack was polylingual and the words articulated were incoherent ramblings of an ancient dead language; he continued—like a general, presenting the logistics of an on going battle and the future tactical maneuvers that were about to come to fruition. Then, the conversation went   obliquely; the magic carpet pulled up and we both hopped on, wherein he and Tiggie, the dragonologist consultant, proceeded to elaborate on the natural history of dragons; multiple mutating types; that ice on sidewalks are residual carcases of demised dragons; pond turtles are chums of dragons—the minutia of dragonology continued with the carpet ride careening and swooping down many rabbit holes. All and all, it was a breath taken adventure with my grandson’s imagination and supporting cast, Tiggie. It does an ole’ man good, to let go…







If you are obsessed with books, a bibliophile, and have a compulsive curiosity of all their permutations; writing, writers, editing, publishing and an array of their sacroscant niches: libraries and bookstores. You will be enthralled with Jen Campbell’s The Bookshop Book.   As suggested by the title, the crosshair emphasis is on the nesting site of books, the bookshop, and its many mutable suprastrutures, where some infrastures are portable: burros, boats, and buses…The salient search embodied a frogness from continent to continent, six to be exact, from sea-level to mountain tops, no bookshop door knob was not turned, well, maybe a few were missed, but hundreds were visited, from the smallest to the grandest, El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tangential stories like corridors created by linear juxtapose bookshelves delvulge intimate stories about owners of the shops and the brick-mortar histories; fortifying the word  

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