Monday, June 20, 2016


Today is the first day of summer. We are immersed in myriad greens. The tulips and daffodils have come and gone. The trees with fragrant pastel blossoms have slipped into lush, darker foliage, providing welcome shade. 

But if you look closely amid the shades of shade you may discover a smattering of white beauty above the roses and remaining iris. It’s the late blooming tree—the catalpa. 

If you were to examine just one of its blossoms, you would be entranced by its delicate ruffles and gold powdered center. But you probably won’t because the catalpa is too tall and its clusters of blossoms too numerous and out of reach. 

I think I’m going to make it my official tree. Like me, it is a late-bloomer. It encourages me – as I approach my dotage – to remember that beauty can be produced in any season. Even summer. 

To be honest, the catalpa isn’t purely beneficial. It grows long, slender seed pods that can clutter yards and alleys. That just makes the analogy more accurate – beauty can exist even if faults and bad habits lurk in the shadows. 

Truly, Mim’s official tree.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


There were about 30 of us gathered in the century-old church, seated in wooden pews, looking toward the altar.

There were 49 candles in rainbow colors arranged on the shimmering cloth.

At the beginning of the little service, each of the 49 candles was lighted. 

Later, we walked single-file up the center aisle. Each of us blew out a candle after a name was read. Some of the names were hard to pronounce. 

The age of the victim was read with his or her name. Some of the ages were incomprehensibly young. 

Some of us had to come up a couple of times. We began to understand that 49 is an incomprehensible number.

Each time a name was read, the steeple bell was rung.

Do not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for all of us.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

It Takes A Village

Because I live alone, some may assume that I am self-sufficient. Hardly. 

When earlier this week, I connected with a podiatrist, it occurred to me that I have legions working on my behalf. I decided to count them. 

Here’s a list – in no particular order. Some of these help on a regular basis, some only occasionally. 
 A general practitioner *** A dentist *** An optometrist *** An oculist *** An allergist *** A naturopath *** A dermatologist *** An audiologist *** A chiropractor *** A masseuse *** A QiGong instructor *** A Pilates instructor *** A mower of lawns *** A washer of windows *** A shampoo-er of rugs *** A garden helper *** A veterinarian *** A house cleaner *** A house painter *** A handyman *** A pharmacist *** A minister *** A trimmer of trees *** A car mechanic *** A garbage collector *** A recycling collector *** A yard-waste collector *** A mailperson *** A meter-reader *** A roofer *** A plumber *** A hairstylist *** A manicurist *** An editor *** Several grocers (and, indirectly, farmers and packagers and truckers, etc.) That’s a total of 35+ -- plus a podiatrist – that’s 36+. 

 [In addition, theoretically, various elected officials are acting on my behalf] A national senator *** A state senator *** A national representative *** A state representative *** A president *** A governor *** A mayor *** A city council person *** And an assortment of law enforcement personnel 

 No one is really on their own. We are all part of an interdependent web, supporting (for the most part) each other. Probably something we should remember.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Seeing Through Silence

Everyone, it seems, is perpetually listening to something. Everyone, it seems, is permanently connected to a device transmitting music or information or some form of entertainment.

Everyone may be missing a lot.

Recently I participated in a mindfulness retreat in the tradition of the Buddhist priest Thich Nhat Hanh.

I’ve been to other such retreats. I know the drill. No talking.
No talking to your roommate/s.
No talking at meals.
No talking while walking.
And of course no talking during sitting meditation or Dharma talks. [The latter are the Buddhist equivalent of sermons.]

Try it for a day. It’s an interesting practice. At first, you may suspect you are going a bit crazy. All kinds of thoughts race around, tumbling over one another in your head – a veritable cacophony.

Stay with it. Focus on breathing – in/out, deep/slow.

The jumble of thoughts may sneak back. Keep breathing. Eventually, there will be a profound silence. And in that silence, a sense of the holy may envelope you.
Breathe it in.

Actually, you don’t have to do this for an entire day. You could find (as I did) large boulder in a mountain meadow where you can sit long enough to actually see your surroundings – see the beauty, the wonder.

Not a bad idea.