Rhododendrons



I bought a new small pocket sized digital camera today, a Panasonic Lumix DMC LS80, and these are two shots I took in our front yard. Not fantastic, but for a camera I can carry in the palm of my hand, I think it did pretty good.

A Hundred Years Too Early, or a Hundred Years Too Late?

I sometimes feel like I was born either a hundred years too late or a hundred years too early. For I’m caught in an uncomfortable juxaposition between loving the modern age and most of it technological advances, and a time when such things weren’t even within the realm of supposition or comprehension.

My writing style sometimes has the stilted pattern that was so common in books and magazines of the 1890s through the 1910s, because I read and loved much of the literature from that time when I was young. I loved Jack London, Mark Twain, even the Horatio Alger stories, and such like. They formed me and much of the me who is inside looking out at a world not quite my own. Or so I’ve always felt.

It was in those stories that I found comfort and surcease from much of the angst of growing up in the ’50s and ’60s. While I went on to read more current fare, like Kurt Vonnegut, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and others, it was these earlier writers who shaped much of my vision of the world and my place in it.

Then the other side of who I am came into being by living through and witnessing the advance from radio to television. Books were very personal and private. You could read by yourself, even when surrounded by others. But radio, when I was young, presented a shared experience, since everyone in the household could sit around that glowing dial in the evening and be entertained by “The Shadow”, Jack Benny, “The Lone Ranger”, and so much more. Yet, while we could all share those experiences together and in real time, we each could, and did, envision the scenes being played out over the airwaves however we chose. We had to use our individual imaginations to see the scene, the characters, etc., and to wonder at all we heard.

Then television came along. Then we could all share in the common experience, much like we could do with radio, but now our imaginings were less invidualized. Our eyes shared the same visions, for they were played out on the screen, not in our heads. I loved the technology of it, but have long since lamented the loss of that imagining, just as the radio took some of the imagination away from the printed page.

I still love the technology that brings the world into our homes, and that allows us to know, and to share, and to wonder about things incomprehensible without the technology. At the same time I still love the printed page and the images that we must supply for ourselves based on the words we read.

I can only wonder at the advances in the next hundred years, much in the same way I look back in wonder at the advances from the last hundred years. I wish, sometimes, that I had been able to access today’s technology in the ’50s and ’60s. Instead of having to be taken a long distance to a library to look up material for a school report, I could have accessed the Internet and found everything I needed without leaving home. How much more knowledge could I have gained, and how could it have changed my life then, and since? When I was away at college, I could have emailed my parents and kept in close and constant contact, instead of the occasional letter, or even more rare phone call.

But the future holds things that make these days seem dated, old, musty, and arcane in comparison, and I wish for that future which I will never know. At the same time I lament a time in the past that my children and grandchildren will never know.

I guess such is the march of time, and such is our place within the arc of the time that we inhabit. We cannot know a past we didn’t live through, nor can we know a future that isn’t ours. We can only wonder at what has come before and hope for what is yet to come. To take the rememberances and words of others and make of them what we can, gives us our only contact with what came before us. To take the dreams and speculations of a future we will never know gives us the hope for a time we will not be a part of, other than through the lives of those we leave behind.

To have lived during the times which I have is to have touched the past in a way that makes sense to me. To have lived with an eye to what is yet to be has likewise touched me in ways that make today more understandable and comfortable. To realize these two ends of my life and the time I have spent on this earth has made it, and will make it, exactly all for which I could ever have hoped.

AN ORDINARY MAN

A poem based on a true event, and a man I actually knew over forty years ago.

The place smelled stale,

like too many cats,

hand-rolled cigarettes,

and impending death.

It was an ordinary place,

and the man who lived there

was an ordinary man,

or so it seemed.

But no one understood

that nothing is as painful

or as enduring

as being ordinary,

and knowing it.

He had given up on hope,

or maybe hope

had given up on him,

and he did not understand

that false hope is better

than no hope at all.

Yet through this pain

he smiled and joked,

and gave conversation

to all who would listen,

to all who could endure

the smell and the feel

of the place he called home.

His life could be defined

by the simple statement,

“It goes on, simply on.”

He felt nothing more.

And so one gloomy day,

among the staleness,

in that place of ordinary pain,

where he lived without hope,

his impending death

met up with his comprehension,

and they found him

hanging from a rope,

a smile upon his face.

I love words, their history, formation, useage, etc. These are some I’ve recently stumbled upon that may be of interest to others who also have an interest in words.

Misomaniac (Mis-oh-MAY-nee-ak) – A person who hates everything.
Slattern (SLAT-turn) – A slovenly woman or girl; also, a prostitute.
Paneity (pun-NEE-i-tee) – The state of being bread.
Dysania (dis-AY-nee-uh) – The state of having a rough time waking up and dragging yourself out of bed in the morning.
Dactylion (dak-TIL-ee-ahn) – The tip of the middle finger.
Litch (LIH-ch) – A mass of tangled, matted hair.
Buccula (BUHK-yuu-luh) – A double chin.
Onychophagy (AHN-i-KAHF-uh-jee) – The habit of bitting one’s fingernails.
Horripilate (hahr-RIP-uh-layt) – To get goose bumps.
Lalochezia (LAL-uh-KEE-zee-uh) – The use of foul or abusive language to relieve stress.
Mung (mu -ung) – Chicken feed.
Omophagist (oh-MAHF-uh-jist) – A person who eats raw flesh.
Latrinalia (LA-tri-NAY-lee-uh) – Bathroom graffiti.
Tubicination (t (y)oo-BIS-i-NAY-shin) – The act of blowing on a brass wind instrument.
Noeclexis (NOH-i-KLEK-sis) – The practice of selecting a partner based on intellegence and character without regard for physical attractiveness.
Zoanthropy (zoh-An-thruh-pee) – The delusion that one is an animal.
Trichotillomania (TRIK-oh-TIL-uh-MAY-nee-uh) – A compulsion to pull out one’s hair.
Witzelsucht (VITS-ul-suukt) – A feeble attempt at humor.
Polylogize (puh-LIL-uh-jyz) – To talk excessivley.
Tartarology (TAHR-tur-AHL-uh-jee) – Instruction or doctrine concerning Hell.
Alopecist (uh-LAHP-i-sist) – A person who claims to prevent or cure baldness.
Ascian (ASH-ee-in) – A person without a shadow.
Agelast (AJ-uh-last) – A person who never laughs.

A woman was in the maternity ward just after giving birth, 
the doctor said to her 
”your child is a wee bit different”

”What do you mean, what’s wrong”

”Well it’s a hermaphrodite”
“What in the name of god is that” she gasped
.
”Well basically it’s got the organs of both male and female.”

The woman looked puzzled and said, 
”What,…….. you mean it’s got a dick …..and a brain?”

Night Walk

I hold the night
like a book in my hand,
open to a favorite passage,
as I recite from memory.
The air smells of dirt,
and rain, and rotting leaves,
like an old, sour ashtray
filled with sodden butts.
Above, somewhere in the dark,
a night bird flutters as he passes,
faltering, halting, he flies,
gliding by in anonymity.
Beadwork of stars is strung
across the black, velvet sky,
traversed by a caravan
of wispy clouds moving East.
The river sings a lullaby,
a tune I know so well,
weaving magic in the air
as my heart beats to its rhythm.