Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Bucket List

When I was much younger and knew little of the aging process. I never thought much about growing old. I often dreamed of things that I wanted to do, but I didn't write them down. Still, I kept a growing list in my mind. Now, with fewer years until my expiration date, I frequently consider my mortality. So, I just checked the "bucket list in my mind's eye.

While I have accomplished many things, I've checked off some of the bigger ones. I graduated from college and became a National Park Ranger. I learned to ski, sail and fly, and was certified as a SCUBA diver. I am a published author and a successful freelance consultant. I've been to forty five of the United States, travelled to Europe, the Caribbean and Central America and visited all of the historic landmarks in the Nation's Capitol. I've gone to rock concerts, symphonies, operas, the ballet and professional football and baseball games. I learned the Yang Style of Tai Chi Chuan. And, while not all would agree, I became a fairly good gourmet cook. Ive been married and had beautiful and accomplished children and grandchildren. Still, the list has grown shorter, and that may not bode well for me so I've begun to add things.

My extraordinary Father, my friend and mentor, lived for ninety eight active and productive years, largely in good health. I'm still alive and well, and I want to beat him so I've lengthened my list.

  • Complete and publish the book on Calamity Jane that my Dad began several years ago.
  • Learn Spanish and Italian.
  • Return to Italy and Belize.
  • Visit the states that I have not been to.
  • Go to Tanzania.
  • Cruise the rivers Seine and Rhine.
  • Visit Scotland.
  • Study the genealogy of my family and complete a family tree.
  • Renew the painting, woodcarving and wire sculpture that I enjoyed many years ago
  • Start working with stained glass.
  • Enroll in on-line courses.
  • Continue and strengthen a renewed and enriching relationship with a wonderful woman from my past (a work in progress).
  • Renew practicing Origami.
  • Post to each of my blogs every week.
It's just a start, but maybe these things will help me get to the century mark. Keep your bucket filled, and as Mr. Spock enjoined, "Live long and prosper."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Cave and the Mockingbird

Thinking about (and generally weary of) all the election-year rhetoric from politicians, pundits and journalists, I wonder if Plato's cave and the mockingbird aren't appropriate metaphors.

In Plato's allegory, prisoners are chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave in front of them. Above and behind them burns a bright fire. Between the fire and the prisoners, puppeteers manipulate marionettes, or actors perform, casting shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see the real objects or people moving about behind them. They see only shadows and hear only echoed voices.

The mockingbird (aptly named Mimus polyglottos, or mimic in many tongues) has its own distinctive song but, often, it is imbedded in as many as 200 medleys of other sounds. By assimilating the sounds of birds, insects and other animals, as well as music and machinery, the mockingbird successfully masks its own song from all but the ears of avid birders and ornithologists.

Are we seeing only shadows or silhouettes of candidates and other politicians, not the real people? Are they speaking in many tongues, but seldom their own voices?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Eleventh Muse

I like to eat, but I love to cook. Cooking is as much a form of creative expression as shaping words into a poem or lyrical essay; painting a landscape or portrait with colorful pigments; sculpting an image from stone or wood; inventing a machine; or, discovering a new drug.

The kitchen is a cook's studio or laboratory. The media are fresh vegetables and fruits, meat, herbs, spices,  and oils, bread, cheese, fine wine and beer. The implements are pots and pans, knives, chopping blocks, mandolins, blenders and stoves. Boiling, simmering, roasting, frying, basting, baking, steaming, grilling, and browning are the techniques. A delicious, carefully and lovingly crafted meal is the art piece. The plate is the canvas. A finely set table is the gallery where the work is displayed. And, while distinctive tastes and aromas are elements of a a meal, we also eat with our eyes.

The ancient Greeks believed that there were ten Muses, the goddesses of inspiration of literature science and the arts. Perhaps there is an eleventh Muse, the Muse of Cooking, and when she speaks, I go to the kitchen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Changing Directions

The following excerpt is from an article titled Reading & the Art of 'Rerouting' by contributing editor Robert Gray in the most recent newsletter from the Shelf Awareness website:

"We've mentioned the incomparable pleasures of rereading here before, but lately I've been intrigued by another book habit you'll probably recognize and understand. Let's call it the art of "rerouting," which happens when you are fully engaged with a great book and then discover—after, during or, in one recent case for me, before—reading it that you have been sent in unanticipated new directions."

This has happened to me many times. It is another reason why reading is such a captivating and enriching experience. I have been "rerouted" time and again from fiction to fact, music, poetry, art and film. And yes, I have often been prompted to travel the Internet.

Isn't this what happens in our lives? As if in a "Skinner Box," we scurry about in a maze of opportunities, seeking rewards. At each turn, we choose which way to go. Sometimes we enter empty cul-de-sacs. Occasionally we come to intersections we have crossed before. At other times, we follow paths which lead us to pleasant, unexpected and rewarding discoveries.

Writer Paul Theroux has reminded us that it is the journey, not the destination that counts.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Best Things

I am beginning to understand that the best things (I'm sure that I will discover more) about blogging are that I can write at my leisure, when the muse is speaking, and that there are no publisher's deadlines.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Drug

Blogging is a drug and I may be addicted to it. There are no 12-step programs or rehab facilities that I can enroll in, but I probably wouldn't anyway. The keyboard is the best treatment and, since I'm retired, I have plenty of time to use it. Nevertheless, if I'm away from my computer or smart phone very long, I begin to suffer withdrawal symptoms. My other blogs (Naturefaker's Notes, The Fernfeeler Files and Reefs of Lilliput) give me some relief. They allow me to share thoughts about nature and national parks acquired during a 30 year career. Still, freed from the work culture, my mind now dwells on other things too . Like a mortar and pestle releasing essential oils and new flavors from herbs, new thoughts are added and blended, producing different perceptions of things. Maybe it's a good drug.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Mortar and Pestle is a mixture of occasional postings about nothing in particular and everything in general.