Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Release from a Maximalist View

Every day I receive, via email, a daily meditation based on Henri Nouwen's writings. Today's piece opened with this line: " Spinoza speaks about our "horror vacui" our horrendous fear of vacancy". In modern Latin it's a horror of a vacumn.

In art it's defined as an "aversion to empty spaces in artistic designs." Some artists define it as creating an environment that may leave a viewer entranced or as one artist said almost in a psychotropic state. I call it fussy.

One proponent of horror vacui in art traced its origins to Aristotle—nature abhors a vacuum. Early practitioners included the Greeks, Islamic artists, and several indigenous tribes in Central America and South America.

Mario Praz, an art historian—especially drawn to decorative arts, was the first to use the term horror vacui to describe busy, cluttered interior spaces. The definition then expanded to include two dimensional space.

Zacharia Well's writes, in his review of Thomas Heise's book of poetry Horror Vacui, that "Literally translated, Horror vacui is the fear of empty spaces. In a more technical sense, it refers to a maximalist aesthetic in visual art in which details proliferate to fill every square inch of blank canvas."

In our society, where noise surrounds us, finding or allowing for empty places may be difficult. Keeping busy, multi-tasking, getting ahead, taking on more and more activities complements the rush of our society.

Gone fishing belongs to a different era—or to a less hectic environment. And if all the interior spaces fill up with noise, to do lists, committees, must get to, and keep moving—no space exists for anything unexpected or to hear a small quiet voice.

When the dance card fills up, when the calendar—loaded with times and dates and alerts fills up—when there's no space, no empty spaces,—there's no room for the unanticipated.

Sometimes I doodle until every space disappears into another line, another filled spot, a dark shape—and if I kept going I could fill up page after page. Yet, at the end it might just be clutter.

So—if I want to hear the bird, hear the Spirit, hear the sound of wind, hear the Spirit, I need to extricate myself from too full dance cards. This release from a maximalist view opens me up to find an interior where empty space invites surprises.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Plans Released for a Trip to Mars

To even think of going to Mars is beyond my comfort zone. Today I read a piece in the paper about Dennis Tito, the first paying space tourist, a multi millionaire, and former NASA engineer, who has plans to send a spaceship to Mars by 2018. At the moment he doesn't have a spaceship or the financing —but I expect that is a small detail for a man who bought a flight from the Russian space agency.

His plans call for a married couple to man the 501 day trip past the red planet. The thinking behind selecting a married couple——to allay the loneliness of such a protracted excursion.

Inspiration Mars, his non-profit company, notes that in 2018 Earth and Mars would align in a manner that will require less fuel than when—I guess, they aren't aligned. Miss out on that configuration and you'll have to wait until 2031.

The cost: approximately $500,000,000 dollars. Mr. Tito according to today's Boston Globe, "may invest as much as $100,000,000."

Why am I not excited about this project? Is it that I don't think a sneak look at Mars is profound?

No, it's far simpler. If you have $100,000,000, how about looking at some of the projects you could invest in here—on earth.

According to 3.4 million people die each year from a water related disease.

According to Bread for the World: Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related diseases.

And then there's research dedicated for finding cures for "orphan diseases" —those rare afflictions that affect a small number of people and rarely get sufficient funds for research.

The list goes on and on—

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


of crabs cooked in a red pot
of newspapers on picnic tables
of bragging rights

of boys making a fort, then
sailing down a stream in a bucket
until it sunk in knee deep water

of wrapping a bottle with raffia
shellacking it until the shine
mirrored the sun

of not knowing that time
eases into a scrapbook ,
a recollection recalled
with a fictive voice

told with fragments added,
a piecemeal story
with verses left out,
endings altered
or dimly recalled

maybe the pots were aluminum
and we ate at bridge tables
maybe the fort fell down
and the water reached their ankles
maybe the raffia twisted
and the shellac turned gummy

the fictive voice releases
a different story,
honed on a whetstone ,
burnished and polished,
recast for today

Monday, February 25, 2013

Boot Iconic Out

Catching up on the iconic word.

Weeks ago I noted the proliferation of the use of iconic.

Found within the last two weeks—and I wasn't really looking.

"...iconic Vietnam war photo"

"...the show's opening gambit, the 1996 screen print "Standard Station," features an iconic Ruscha image..."

"...the development stunned a nation that had elevated Pistorius to iconic status."

"...four shootings on the iconic Bourbon Street..."

"...the topic was leading men and their iconic films..."

"I can't help but notice that the places mentioned in that iconic anthem by the Modern Lovers..."

Perhaps we can substitute penultimate—let's see.

"penultimate Vietnam war photo..."

"...features a penultimate Ruscha image.."

The last three lines would require some additional words.

I beg the journalists to let go, to release the word and return to their thesaurus.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Release of a Fradulent & Dangerous Text

Several days ago I found a miniature 1849 Book of Common Prayer stowed away in a cabinet in the church parlor. The binding barely held the pages together.

Not that I anticipated discovering that the church had a rare edition—nor even one worth a great deal. Even if it was worth something it was water stained and the binding was frayed.

Still—I checked it out. Yes, the edition isn't worth much.

I then entered the publisher's name into Google and found a number of links.

Eyre & Spottiswoode " was the London based printing firm known as the King's Printer, and subsequently, after April 1929, a publisher of the same name..." The firm merged with Methuen Publishing in the 1970s.

And what is the King's or Queen's Printer? "It is the bureau of the government charged with producing all official documents issued..." by the reigning monarch, council and ministers of the crown.

It seems that in 1920 Eyre & Spottiswoode published a small book called The Jewish Peril, later known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In fact they were the first English firm to publish this virulently anti-semitic book. The entire premise of the book was fraudulent filled with " paranoid ruminations of a Jewish lust for world domination..." The book had originally been published in Russia in 1904.

It seems that the printing was a private commission. I was unable to find out who commissioned the printing of the ninety-five page pamphlet.

"Although convincingly 1921, the Protocols have been called the most widely circulated book on the globe, next to the Bible and appeared in countless editions and translations."

Forty-seven years after the original publication of the Protocols, Eyre & Spottiswoode published a book called The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy and the Protocols of Zion by Norman Cohen.

Isn't it disconcerting to realize that at the same time that the Protocols were published the same printers published Bibles and the Book of Common Prayer.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

RElease the Day—

It's late and I've spent too many hours in front of my computer—to no avail. Nothing accomplished, nothing earth shattering discovered. How do so many hours get eaten up by a machine?

Then there are all those time eating machines waiting to nibble away at the hours in a day—all those time saving devices in the kitchen, cell phones, even the vacuum cleaner.

Then there's the stack of books on my shelf. How many books can one read at one time and yet I can't seem to go into a library without taking out another book—the penultimate book on keeping an artist's journal or the newest mystery or another not to be missed literary masterpiece.

But do I want to return to the days of churning butter, sweeping up a dirt floor, using rocks to clean clothes?

No, I'll sink into my comfortable chair, release the day, and eat some mint frozen yogurt. I wish it was decadent to indulge in frozen yogurt. Perhaps if I scatter some walnut pieces on top...

Friday, February 22, 2013

U.S. Food Inflation Out of Control

Consumer Price Index Summary
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Transmission of material in this release is embargoed
until 8:30 a.m. Thursday February 21, 2013

She said, food's
leaving me broke
Each week a lighter bag.

I wonder what they eat,
the ones with bulging bags.
The ones who buy fresh.

I don't want a handout,
just a bunch of that lettuce,
a mushroom, some broccoli,
lean green beans, and a tomato.

I want a full bag
and some left over change.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Release those Books

After volunteering to organize the church library...

I spent my first hour going through books and media on one short shelf.

With books—years don't change the characteristics of what we mean by a book. Pages, bindings, typefaces may alter from one era to another. If the paper is of poor quality it may yellow and smell a bit musty. If the binding is wretched the individual pages may loosen and fall out. I have several pocket books held together with a rubber band.

With media, life moves at a quickened pace and yesterday's way of storing and showing media fades into oblivion. Newness waits for its turn and then it, too, gives way to the next—better choice. We found old VCR tapes—but who still owns the proper equipment necessary to show the tapes? Zip files of lectures —a dinosaur.

The Cd's and DVDs remain, but for how long? An entire shelf of media fits on one high volume flash drive.

Old Bibles—stored away— beg to see the light. I found one small—two inch by four inch— 1876 bible in poor condition. The tiny print, probably six or seven point, reminded me of the print found in the one volume Oxford Unabridged Dictionary. Required necessity, a magnifying glass.

I like handling a book that's old. It gives me a sense of continuity. Some people trace their ancestors back generations and create family trees. My family tree only traces back to my grandparents. They all left Poland and Russia. Whoever didn't emigrate died. The towns they came from decimated by the Second World War.

Holding an old book or reading an original document allows me to experience a connection to the past. Years ago, when it was still possible for anyone to see the original depositions from the Salem Witch Trials, I sat at a mahogany desk and waited for a librarian to find my requested volume.

In time a woman brought out a large tome and opened it to the Rebecca Nurse accusation. I recall the sepia colored ink and the difficulty of reading the writing. I only read a few words on each line, but enough to fear for Rebecca Nurse. Even knowing the history and Rebecca's fate I still experienced the trial with trepidation.

Who held those old Bibles? Who prayed the psalms? How many hands turned the pages? They need to be on a shelf with a chance for people to read the words, turn the pages—connect to the past.

Old books that no longer seemed usable were to be jettisoned—but every time I came across an old book I wanted to sit down and read.

There are obvious books that deserve to move on, but others that present problems. If it smells, the edges turn green, or it suffers from a separation with its binding, then it may be ready for the throw away pile.

Maybe I need to take a pragmatic approach. There are only so many shelves so there can only be so many books. Some stay and some go. Going doesn't need to mean a junk heap—perhaps I can collect them in a box and offer them as free books.

Or I can offer the pages for an art project .Bridal dress designer Jennifer Pritchard Couchman was asked by a writer of contemporary fairy tales to create a garment out of book pages.

It took 2500 pages, paper mache, staples, glue, lots of folding, and an incredible imagination to craft the dress. The author, Claire Massey, wore the dress when she read a fairy tale she wrote for the Litfest Festival in Lancaster, England.

With that as an inspiration I need to let go, release my penchant for not throwing out any book and move on with the library project.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


...Alice paused, picked up a vase with both hands,
and threw it on the floor. What delight, what release in its shattering.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie Ayana Mathis

How many people reach the point of frustration and want to simply drop something and listen to it shatter—dislocate from its original state?

Maybe the people who have lost their jobs and can't find employment.

Maybe the children of illegal immigrants who were born here and find themselves in a state of suspended animation.

Maybe it's any one of us who look at all that needs to be done and can't figure out why there's so much arguing in our government.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Simple Talk

Release all ambiguity
and celebrate straight talk
just say it as it is
don't draw diagrams
or create metaphors
to explain what you mean
just say it as it is

Monday, February 18, 2013

About Definitions

To define a word may mean to defer to the dictionary or Roget's Thesaurus. To understand a word one needs to inhabit the word. Then and only then will the word appear in conversation—and depending upon the word only a few conversations.

And to write with the word elevates the connection between the writer and the word. Some words may never appear in my writing. I know the word, have a ready definition—yet, I am unsure of the placement within my sentence—or because the word, while acceptable as a crossword puzzle answer rarely fits seamlessly into my writing.

Someone who headed a church ministry asked, "What does discipleship mean? "

I need to unpack the word. My first response falls back on Bonhoeffer's book, The Cost of Discipleship.

He wrote that " is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God." But that doesn't fully define discipleship.

But then he writes: " We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God...We must not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God."

The Greek translation of discipleship means to be " a learner". If I am a disciple of a music teacher I plan to learn from that person and follow their teachings in order to become a better musician.

And to really learn I need to listen, to hear what is being taught—to let those teachings enter my very being, become part of me, and hopefully my outward life will reflect the teachings.

Bonhoeffer writes, "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ."

Discipleship can't be a one time dip—it's a growing process.

It means responding in love—"Not hero worship, but intimacy..."

To define discipleship means I need to release my own definition and be open to a deeper, more internal understanding of discipleship.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Seeing or not seeing.

"The light of the body is the eye..." Luke 11:34
" out in case (you) fail to see the light..." N.T. Wright

Isaac, almost blind and unable to discern which of his two sons deserved to receive the blessing, blesses his younger son.

"Watch that your eye doesn't become darkened."

I'm guilty of too often not seeing or only seeing the veneer, of being in a hurry and accepting a stereotype rather than looking beyond or beneath the outer garment. How easy it is to see things with a one-dimensional view.

It takes time to move beyond the cursory glance to a place where you see the other—really see them.

In Muriel Barbery's book The Elegance of the Hedgehog people choose not to see.

Renee Michel, a concierge— a working-class woman, performs her tasks and is invisible as a person to the tenants in the building— who suffer from a serious bout of class-consciousness. Renee hides her intelligence—taking on the mantle of what the people expect from a concierge. She dresses and talks in a manner that fits their expectations.

Two people do see beneath the facade—one a young girl who is a lonely intellectual who sees the world as meaningless. The other person is a Japanese gentleman, Mr. Ozo, who helps unmask Renee.

Seeing involves introspection and contemplation.

To really see another requires time and a willingness to listen and ask questions. But there's also the willingness of the other to be seen.

It's hard to engage beneath the veneer.

Renee's past experiences made her leery of letting the tenants see her as an intellectual autodidact —especially because she knew that they pigeonholed her through the prism of their own biases.

To see —one needs to release, to let go, of preconceived ideas.
To be seen—one needs to release, to let go, of the tough outer garments we wear for protection.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

To Release

Forgiveness means it finally
becomes unimportant that you hit back.
—Anne Lamott

to release
to absolve
to let off the hook
to grant a reprieve
to reconcile differences
to forgive what's been done
to allow for atonement
to make amends for words said
or words left unsaid
to repair rifts
to mend the worn places
to loosen the knots
and smooth
the gnarled
prickly spots
to untangle years
to grant a pardon

I'll wait

Friday, February 15, 2013

Release Rigid Expectations

"Without the quest, there can be no epiphany."
Constantine E. Scaros

What is a quest—A pursuit, a hunt, a search or something more? To me a quest is enveloped in mystery and a deep desire for something. A hunt can be as simple as a scavenger hunt, but a quest reminds me of something out of the age of chivalry or the time of fairy tales or the time of myths.

Quests—involve a depth of involvement. They engage every aspect of a person and the outcome isn't trivial. To win a scavenger hunt or to find the best yoga teacher or to use a GPS to locate a place all represent success, but they don't have the same depth as a quest.

Looking for the Holy Grail was probably the penultimate quest—yet don't we all engage in some sort of quest? Looking for meaning, seeking God—finding our place in the world.

Just because one doesn't immediately find whatever it is at the end of a quest doesn't mean that it's time to put down the walking stick, kick off the boots, and accept that the task is impossible.

Maybe it's time to release rigid expectations. It's liberating, freeing to realize that our real quest differs from the one we originally and doggedly sought.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Releasing — Changing

To release is also to renunciate, to disown, to repudiate as valid.

A sport's figure in Boston admits that he needs to change his attitude—give up on one way of dealing with a situation and find another way.

To renunciate—to abandon something and to turn, and turn again, until another way is found is hard.

Once I thought that I'd write a novel—not pulp fiction, but literary fiction. Time passed the novel remained in my head. More time elapsed— I wrote short pieces, poems, essays, but not a novel. I bought books on how to complete a novel in fifty-two weeks. By week four I realized that the process didn't belong to me.

Then one day I simply released the notion, sent it out into space. If I couldn't write the novel I'd want to read then the time was right to dispense with fooling myself.

The freedom of letting go felt both expansive and constrictive. Had the universe shrunk?

To renunciate something is akin to walking on a tighrope—stepping away from a safe place and venturing across a wide abyss until you reach the other side. The safe place might not look safe, but it's familiar. For me it was the talk of completing a novel, a chapter or two done.

Then I found myself engaged in the type of writing I enjoyed and reading the type of books I'd like to write, but didn't need or want to know how to write.

The trick is learning how to look upon a release as permission to change. It's not giving up. It's looking in the mirror and really seeing.

I went to high school with twins who wanted to be mime artists. They watched old Chaplin and Keaton films. They studied mimes. One twin expressed each emotion as an abstraction, a fluid ballet. The other twin's mime, although studied, lacked grace. All through high school they spoke of creating pieces for two, of mime and dance as integral pieces in their repertoire.

Then Noel, the older by two minutes, realized that his skills lacked the fluidity and expression, the evocative quality his brother Noah possessed. Noel stopped rehearsing his part and released his brother so that, Noah, could move on.

Noel continued to love mime and often performed for people, but he relinquished his desire to pursue mime as a profession.

"I love," he said,"to see Noah so in tune with his audience. They understand every silent word, every nuance. Do you see how people laugh or cry. Marcel Marceau said A magician makes the visible invisible. A mime makes the invisible visible. "

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

God offers " forgiveness and release"
Pastor Hannah Brown

Release from the times you forgot the needy
Release from the times you forgot the homeless
Release from the times you kept walking

Release from those times
I failed to hear God's voice

Release from not accepting God's forgiveness
and continuing to mull over the past,
the words said, the actions taken

Release from the times you forgot the Good News
Release from the times you tuned out
and forgot the gift of forgiveness

And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten...
Joel 2:25

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Art of Construction

Who can brush aside
the joists that hold
together the past
with its creaks,
its echoes,
its secrets

Who can release
a new story, framed
with hewn planks,
finished with beveled edges

Who sees splinters
and picks up sandpaper

Monday, February 11, 2013

Releasing a Metaphor

I'm an eclectic reader mixing heavy tomes with mysteries, or poetry, or death defying exploits of intrepid souls determined to push the boundary of exploration, or religious writings—be it the Bible or theologians delving into the meaning of scripture or writing about figures within scripture or inspirational writing.

I often curl up with a book about writing, or a book of letters written by literary luminaries, or a book about sports.

I can't read a review without thinking —do I want to read this book? Reviews of books on arcane subjects often captivate my imagination. Those writers often exhibit a passion for a subject and they capture that affection in their books.

Upon reading a review I often request the book from our library consortium. On rare occasions no library owns the book.

I've been known to stand in the aisle of a bookstore and peruse a book for several chapters prior to a purchase That's getting more difficult with the demise of so many independent bookstores.

Karen Fossum's recent book The Caller reminded me of why it's difficult to categorize books. This is a mystery, but when I finished reading it I wondered on what shelf I'd shelve this book. Obviously it's a mystery. After all the two detectives, Konrad Sejer and Jacob Skarre, want to catch the perpetrator of callous pranks.

A child in a pram is covered with blood, but not her blood—she's fine. Another person is presumed dead and two men from a funeral parlor show up at the family home.

The young man responsible for the pranks—or that's what he calls them— comes from a home devoid of any emotional ties. His mother, an alcoholic, spends most of her time in a stupor. The perpetrator of these hoaxes does have one stable emotional connection—an aging grandfather who needs home health care. In that relationship the reader sees a young man who has the capacity to love.

Fossum creates a protagonist who lacks a moral ballast because he can't perceive of the consequences of each act. This inability to understand cause and effect eventually result in a horrific incident. And only then does he see cause and effect.

The ending is open to interpretation. Someone once asked Eudora Welty how one of her short stories ended because it, too, had several possibilities. She responded, "I don't know."

How easy it is to say or do something that sets off a chain reaction way beyond what we imagined. How simple it is to forget about cause and effect.

Fossum's story releases a metaphor for thinking of the consequences of actions.Some people find the story too brutal.

I'm in agreement with Flannery O'Connor who often created bizarre characters and outrageous incidents because she thought people were so accustomed to seeing so many things as natural that only by exaggerating the grotesque could she hold a mirror up for them to see reality.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Launch ...

To release is also to launch, to send off.

Write a book and then wonder how to launch it —how to round up readers.

Have an idea and find backers to launch your idea.

Take a chance and launch a new magazine.

In 1999 the United States Mint launched a ten year program honoring the fifty states. Each state quarter had its ten weeks coming out party and then was never reproduced again. Five a year. Imagine the collectors of mint quarters. According to a report issued by the Mint Director 130 million Americans collect the State Quarters.

How can billions of quarters accrue in value? Seize the error.

In 2004 —the Wisconsin State Quarter error— an extra cornstalk leaf on the 2004-D coin ( minted in Denver). If a collector lusts after a coin with an extra leaf it will cost several hundred dollars.

If you find a malformed coin, an off-center coin, it will cost upwards of $100.

People launch some strange inventions— an Amphibious bicycle, called The Cyclomer, was introduced in Paris in 1932.

In 2012 someone created a bedtime reading quilt made up of several layers and on each layer a different story.

Write a book and then wonder how to launch it—
Release a synopsis on a bath towel.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

A Classic Storm

For hours and hours television stations reported every little weather update. Was this to be a top ten storm for the region or perhaps a top five storm?

At a number of places around the state T.V. reporters braved the elements to deliver a first-hand report. Attired in snow gear, multiple layers of clothing,wool hats, and heavy mittens they all looked cold and wet. The ferocity of the wind, the surge of the tide, and the snow totals—the more dramatic the consequences the more news coverage.

At its peak 400,000 people were without electricity. The shelters in Boston provided beds for 1600 homeless people.

A ban on driving allowed snowplow operators to try and keep up with the storm. They did a remarkable job with the major roads.

I live in a small town with lots of small winding narrow streets—many impassable after a storm this large—a blizzard.

By 10:30 this morning the snow stopped in our area. By twelve the sun appeared and the snow looked so pristine and amicable.

It takes a long time to "unpack" a vehicle encased in snow—especially when the temperature hovers in the twenties and the wind hasn't totally dissipated.

I looked out my window after we had finally parked our cars in a "passable" spot and watched the next door youngster truly enjoying the snow.

A mantra for wondering when all the streets will be cleared—

By letting go ( releasing) it all gets done.
Lao Tzu

Friday, February 08, 2013

Release all Preconceptions

Overheard while having a cup of coffee at a local spot—
"I can't wait."
"When will we go sledding?"

And from another child, "It's my first blizzard."

Unfortunately for all those waiting to see the inches pile up—the big event happens late late afternoon and through the night and most of tomorrow.

How many firsts we have over a lifetime and often we're not as alert as the youngster in naming something as a first—something new and fresh. Of course not all firsts are pleasant nor do we desire to repeat all first experiences. I never want to repeat the first, and only time, I was stung by a jellyfish.

I recall the first time I wrote a sentence—no punctuation, all lower case letters, and with a red crayon. Stringing the words out so they made sense felt powerful and grown-up. It's a can't be repeated experience.

I know someone who often says, "Did that, did that." As if something that's repeated lacks credence and must be dull.

Looking at something in a new way is a first experience. Those who write self-help books are delighted to tell people how to create new experiences, how new experiences enhance their life, how without new experiences you'll just shrivel up and mummify.

But firsts aren't about going out there and attempting to lasso new experiences and adding them to a life time list—like a birders list—and checking off each item with a black marker.

* Parachuted yesterday.
* Wednesday wore my clothes backwards.
* Sunday attended my thirty-third different religious establishment.
• Wore six inch spikes and didn't fall

Many firsts are magical. I remember the first time I went sledding, the first time my daughter sat on my lap and we went sledding down a small hill, the first time I made a snowman, the first time I fell off a plastic saucer and continued spinning down the icy hill.

The world is filled with firsts—it's a matter of recognizing them, of releasing preconceptions about firsts.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
— Soren Kierkegard

Thursday, February 07, 2013

A Time to Release...

Last year our snow levels barely reached double digits while the previous winter we almost doubled our usual accumulation. I must admit that I once loved the possibility of a generous snow storm. Those thoughts disappeared after two seasons of ice dams, leaks, and enough damage to require tearing down, drying off, and the rebuilding of a closet.

We now have heat coils on the roof—untested because of the meager snow the past two seasons. We turn them on when any snow begins and then strain to hear the water ascend down the drain pipe. We wait until dark, go outside, and check to make certain the unit is operating.

Starting last night our local meteorologists began to speak of an impending storm. Today they began to talk of blizzard conditions, strong winds, high tides, loss of electricity. Last night they said that this will be one of the ten largest storms to hit New England since records were kept in the late 1800s. This afternoon they said that this will be one of the five largest storms to hit New England.

Just a short while ago I turned on the television and noted the additional inches added to our possible totals.

"This is a classic New England Northeaster."

We've taken out our snow brooms, high boots, and waterproof mittens. The shovels are ready. Am I ready to dig my car out? I've charged up everything that lives by a charge—bought milk and bread and a large bag of low-fat, low-salt, organic corn tortilla chips, hummus, and a package of chocolate covered peanuts. Also bought two more cans of tuna fish We've cooked up a meal for tomorrow and lasagna for Saturday, waited on line for gas and wondered whether I missed the boat by not either making or buying muffins. There's always tomorrow.

This monster storm, as its been dubbed, steals in slowly and then muscles up by late tomorrow afternoon and through the night into Saturday.

One youngster I taught wrote about the time his father allowed him to ride along on an all night plowing job. He wrote about the donuts and coffee and the white-out and how he and his father jumped out of the truck to throw down sand for traction. Scott described a wondrous night filled with swirling snow, a warm cabin, and the way the morning light "just happened" when you weren't looking.

So I'm trying to let go, release, abandon my anxieties about leaks and buried cars. By Saturday evening we'll all know if this was a historic storm or if the convergence of the cold front and wet front didn't happen as expected.

Either way all I can do once the snow begins is get out my mystery book and settle in for the duration. There comes a time when all you can do is dismiss worries, release them into the universe and sit back and drink tea with honey, munch some tortillas and veggies and hope the heating coils on the roof respond well to a Northeaster.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Released from the Ordinary

This afternoon a friend said, "You've spoken of Richard Halliburton, haven't you?"
"Yes, why?"
"His name is mentioned in a mystery I'm reading."

 I received a copy of Halliburton's book—The Book of Marvels—as a birthday present when I was ten. Halliburton was presumed dead a number of years before I received the book. My father, fascinated by Halliburton's  adventures, often read a chapter after, or before I read the chapter. We poured over maps following Halliburton's travels. That's where I learned the art of armchair traveling.

 Halliburton commissioned the building of a Chinese junk, named the Sea Dragon, for what turned out to be his last adventure. He intended to sail it from Hong Kong to San Francisco. On March 4th , 1939 he set sail. Radio communication continued until March 23, 1939 and then ceased—possibly due to the weather conditions. One could wonder about his lack of understanding of the risks involved —not only the perils of the ocean, but by Japan's gathering strength.

"...I wanted freedom, freedom to indulge in whatever caprice struck my fancy, freedom to search in the farthermost corners of the earth..."                                                                                  

He wrote of life , " Just about a month from now I'm set adrift, with a diploma for a sail and lots of nerve for oars."

His was an unfettered life, free, released from the ordinary.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


Release from birth and rebirth, release from a cycle that repeats itself, release from self, release into something new.

I attended a lecture about Korean art and the lecturer spoke of the Buddhist meaning of a release from the  endless cycle of birth and rebirth .
Self- help groups talk about breaking the cycle of whatever has you in its clutches.  

Perhaps it's a preoccupation with self that has someone in knots. I recall once perseverating about something I said and worrying about the repercussions-- over and over. You trip over your own feet.

To release into something new and different, alien, often freezes people into inaction. 

Suppose the food in this new restaurant isn't good?

Suppose I don't like that type of music?

Why should I try something different? This works for me.

And suppose God leads you in an unexpected direction. What then? 

Monday, February 04, 2013

News: Released this Afternoon

A five year old boy, abducted from a school bus and held hostage in an underground bunker, is now free. The abductor, a sixty-five year old man with seemingly no connection to the child or family, is dead.

One newspaper described the kidnapper as a survivalist. I'm not certain what that means—save for the stereotype of either someone who has stockpiled enough food and gear to outlast the devastation of catastrophic occurrences or a gun toting anti-government individual who lives on the fringes of society. Both stereotypes.

There's even a group referred to as "armchair survivalists". I expect that it's similar to armchair travelers.

When does being prepared for unexpected happenings morph into a survivalist mentality?

I checked into several sites that suggest what equipment is needed for the survivalist. The amount of equipment and cost can be prohibitive for many people. One suggestion : Guns. One site encouraged big guns. Survivalists were told that they needed a semi-automatic rifle —maybe an AK rifle.

I find all this rather frightening."Preppers" stock-up for an apocalyptic event.

Survivalist blogs have proliferated over the past few years and some "preppers" are now concerned about their image as eccentrics with guns or as disgruntled individuals who view the government through smudged lenses.

I don't know enough about the movement and I'm leery of stereotypes,but I'm also uncomfortable when I look at blogs that suggest military style weapons as essential gear.

Because the kidnapper is dead we'll never know why a five year old child was abducted or what the story was behind the act.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Watching the Superbowl

It's quite remarkable. How do those quarterbacks release a football way down the field? And not only do they let it fly, but it usually falls into the hands of a receiver. It's not the usual but several quarterbacks have thrown passes over 80 yards.

Then there's a question of how far, outside of a game, has a football been thrown? But then again why would anyone measure that distance.

How far does a discus fly? First ,you need to have a proper grip--" when releasing the discus have your palm down. Squeeze the discus out..." I'm lost. Can you believe that someone "squeezed the discus out" for over 245 feet?

I wonder how far I've ever thrown anything?

Saturday, February 02, 2013


Then The Lord put forth his hand,
and touched my mouth. And The Lord
said unto me, Behold, I have put
my words in thy mouth.

Jeremiah 1:9 KJV

God puts his words, delivers his words, releases his words into Jeremiah's mouth. The words Jeremiah speaks, whispers, shouts, come from God.

Where do I get my words? How is what I say interpreted? Am I being influenced by those I listen to , by books I read, by people I'm around?

Words, thoughts, ideas—all released and floating around ready for the taking or rejecting —some innocuous, others chilling, still others uplifting.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Thesaurus for Release

To go scot-free—
no restraints
at liberty

Bang the drums
announce your deliverance
let loose and celebrate
your liberation
loosen up and wiggle
unfettered by conventions
you have a reprieve
a respite

off the hook
exhale and rap, life's no trap
rejoice in freedom
shimmy, shake those hips
you've been set free
catch a beat
let it rip

You're released