Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Spy

The sun was low. I didn’t notice this right away, but knew there was something different. It was the leaves. It was the shadows. They were too big, too dark, too horizontal. My eyes drifted, trying to follow the rocking boughs, trying to wake up.

Bright sun was rare enough. Bright sunshine at sunrise was, well, I had been in Ireland for five weeks and not once seen anything but clouds in the morning.

There was no sound, no rustle, no whisper. Perhaps my ears were still asleep, or the double-glazed windows were closed.

“It’s too early,” the tree reassured me, every leaf smiling, every leaf glowing and dancing. “Go back to sleep.”

How could I argue. Sunrise meant 5am. And I was on vacation.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer - Northern Latitudes

As the earth’s north pole tilts towards the sun on its annual seasonal swing, I love being north. June 21st is fast approaching. “The days are getting longer,” as my mother would chime every morning of the new year, though by June 1st, her voice already carried the wistful regret of June 22nd.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where long days meant going to bed before the sun and waking long before parents. I would go out into the wild sassafras forests, trees with root-beer smelling feet and large, three-fingered hands, lowering their vines to invite me to give my best Tarzan cry. Deep in the forest hid the old log cabin, rotting, where I would scratch for arrowheads while keeping an eye out for Indians. Called home by the Ivanhoe cry of my father at the doorway, I would quickly eat to go out again. And if it was Friday or Saturday night, I would wait for dusk to chase and bottle lightning bugs.

Internet Adventure - The Quest of Two New Words

April 8th, 2014 was a good day. I learned two new words: frenhoferian and furbelow. The circumstances of my enlightenment were as fascinating as the words' origins and meanings. Here, for no reason in particular except to share my love of questing and windmills, is how an e-mail that advertised a free book for Kindle was made to enrich my life.

The e-mail had arrived, like every day, advertising free books for my Kindle. I had a few minutes, so I double-clicked to open:
Posted: 08 Apr 2014 04:22 AM PDT
Complete Collection Of H.P.Lovecraft – 150 eBooks With 100+ Audio Book Links(Complete Collection Of Lovecraft’s Fiction, Juvenilia, Poems, Essays And Collaborations)
Orintage Publishing is proud to bring the complete works of … [visit site to read more]
I had seen Lovecraft's name often, though, strangely, it was mixed in my memory with L. Ron Hubbard. I remembered that Lovecraft had been one of the authors recently advertised by Library of America, a collection I respect, so I went to Wikipedia to learn more about Lovecraft. [Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!]

The Wikipedia article included the sentence: "He subsisted in progressively straitened circumstances in his last years." I had never seen the word, "straitened," and had no idea what it meant, so I sent the mighty Google forth in search of the phrase, "progressively straitened circumstances."

The results? Only 43, and most of them were sites referring back to the same sentence about Lovecraft that I had seen at Wikipedia. So resubmitted the search excluding the sites that referred to Lovecraft. I was given the five results shown below, three of which referred to a sentence in a book on WWII and two of which referred to a book called Ginger Man. There were also links to a review of a book called Julius Vogel: Business Politician and a web site calling itself "Granite State Games":
Certain Victory: Images of World War II in the Japanese Media

David C. Earhart - 2009 - ‎History
The progressively straitened circumstances both prescribed behavior appropriate to wartime and proscribed “unpatriotic” behavior, as every day came to ...

The Ginger Man - Shvoong › Books › Novels & Novellas‎
Aug 29, 2007 - Undeterred by his progressively straitened circumstances, he seduces his tenant, the naive and timid Miss Frost (a frustrated, ...

[PDF] 188 REVIEWS Julius Vogel: Business Politician. By Raewyn ...‎
of disappointed hopes and progressively straitened circumstances, remember his. •youthful scrapbook entry? 'The great merit of philosophy when we cannot ...

The Ginger Man Summary -‎
The Ginger Man presents the slapstick, bawdy, picaresque adventures of Sebastian Dangerfield. Born in St. Louis, Sebastian is supposedly studying law at ...

I had been required to abandon my late model automobile, and inasmuch as my options were limited in my progressively straitened circumstances, I had spent ...

Certain Victory Images of World War II in the Japanese ...‎
Apr 11, 2011 - The progressively straitened circumstances both prescribed behavior appropriate to wartime and proscribed “unpatriotic” behavior, as every ...

Disappointed at not finding a definition for the phrase, but intrigued by the rarity of its use, I searched for "straitened circumstances" and found a definition (one of 164 results) :
Adj.    1.    in straitened circumstances - not having enough money to pay for necessities; hard up, impecunious, penniless, penurious, pinched; poor - having little money or few possessions; "deplored the gap between rich and poor countries"; "the proverbial poor artist living in a garret"

"It is but bare justice to Mr Swiveller to say, that, although the expenses of her education kept him in straitened circumstances for half a dozen years, he never slackened in his zeal, and always held himself sufficiently repaid by the accounts he heard (with great gravity) of her advancement, on his monthly visits to the governess, who looked upon him as a literary gentleman of eccentric habits, and of a most prodigious talent in quotation."
The Old Curiosity Shop by Dickens, Charles

(Also appearing in 35 other classic literature books in The Free Library at
My curiosity piqued about who would use such an old-fashioned phrase on the internet, I went back and linked to the tumblr site calling itself Granite State Games ( Unfortunately, the link no longer existed. But I did find there was a cached version and found that the site was created by David Carlton Boyd.

Boyd's writing style so intrigued me that I searched for "David Carlton Boyd," and then "David Boyd," at which point I came across the site, a site self-attributed to David (Carlton) Boyd. And this site led me to the site

Lost to the journey and not the destination, I read the bonjourcezanne site and noticed that it mentioned in its afterword, "We concluded our inspection of this frenhoferian oeuvre...," using yet another word I did not know, namely "frenhoferian."

Oh, fair reader, how a few minutes to spare on the internet had turned into an afternoon of wandering! I searched for the word "frenhoferian" and found references to Balzac's The Unknown Masterpiece but no definition of the word. My good Google was kind enough to ask if I had meant "frenhofer" so I clicked to search for the modified word.

In the results, I found a site with "Chapter One Who was Frenhofer? - UC Press E-Books ...," in which I learned Master Frenhofer is the old master painter protagonist in the book by Balzac called The Unknown Masterpiece. Going on to read "Chapter Two, Cezanne in the shadow of Frenhofer," I saw another word I did not know: furbelows, so I looked up furbelows and got this definition:
1 :  a pleated or gathered piece of material; especially :  a flounce on women's clothing
2:  something that suggests a furbelow especially in being showy or superfluous
— furbelow transitive verb
Rhymes with FURBELOW
acid snow, afterglow, aikido, alpenglow, apropos, art deco, art nouveau, audio, Baguio, Bamako, barrio, bay window, Bergamo, bibelot, Bilbao, black widow, blow-by-blow, body blow, bone marrow, bordereau, Borneo, bow window, buffalo, Buffalo, bungalow, Bushido, buteo, calico, cameo, cachalot, cembalo, centimo, CEO, chassepot, cheerio, Clemenceau, cogito, comedo, comme il faut, counterflow, Cupid's bow, curaçao, Curaçao, curassow, curio, daimyo, danio, Delano, Diderot, do-si-do, domino, dynamo, embryo, entrepôt, Erato, escargot, Eskimo, extrados, fabliau, folio, French window, fricandeau, gigolo, golden glow, go-no-go, grass widow, guacharo, hammer throw, hammertoe, haricot, heel-and-toe, hetero, high and low, HMO, Holy Joe, horror show, Idaho, in a row, indigo, in escrow, in the know, Jericho, kakapo, latigo, little toe, long-ago, Longfellow, Maceió, Maginot, Manchukuo, medico, Mexico, mistletoe, modulo, Monaco, Navajo, NCO, nuncio, oleo, olio, on tiptoe, Oreo, overflow, overgrow, overthrow, ovolo, Pamlico, Papago, paseo, picaro, piccolo, Pierrot, polio, pomelo, pompano, portico, PPO, Prospero, proximo, quid pro quo, radio, raree-show, ratio, Richard Roe, Rochambeau, rococo, rodeo, Romeo, rose window, round window, saddlebow, Sapporo, sapsago, Scapa Flow, Scipio, Scorpio, semipro, show window, sloppy joe, so-and-so, SRO, standing O, status quo, stereo, stop-and-go, studio, subito, tallyho, tangelo, Taranto, tic-tac-toe, TKO, to-and-fro, Tokyo, tombolo, touch-and-go, tournedos, tremolo, tuckahoe, tupelo, UFO, ultimo, undergo, undertow, Veneto, vertigo, vibrio, video, virago, vireo, Zhangjiakou, zydeco
And there my journey came to its end, though not because the journey itself had ended, but because my time had come to its end.


I closed my eyes and took a step...

It had been a couple months since taking the transformation seminar in the city, only a handful of short weeks, and the memory of that celebration of rebirth was already fading.

"Why are you running?"

She was a friend, acquaintance really, someone close enough to be comfortable asking the question, yet distant enough to keep her judgement to herself.

Why was I running, indeed, literally running from one client meeting to the next, from building to building, block to block, out on the streets of the town I called home? What could I say? What would I say?

"It just feels good to run."

The words tumbled out, like children rolling down a grassy hill on the first warm day of spring, laughing as the world turned upside down. The smile on my face stretched at my cheeks until a laugh bubbled out.

Anita, that was her name. Anita laughed, too, sharing the joy of that moment. Our eyes met. How had I never noticed how beautiful she was? I looked away, my heart pounding with the "I want to make love to you right now" feeling that swept over me so often these days. When I looked back up, she was looking past me.

"Got to go," I said, looking at my watch.

I had only three minutes to get to a meeting back at the office, down by the old railroad tracks, abandoned tracks, where I challenged myself every day with how far I could follow without falling. Today, I would walk the line blindfolded.

I closed my eyes and took a step...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I stand on the edge...

I stand on the edge of change, only to find it is not an edge.

The edge is in my mind, my perception and fear of the different. The edge is that which is out of pattern, out of the usual. It is only an edge because I make it so, to protect myself from the effort and pain of change, afraid that all I have done up to now becomes pointless, terrified that everything I hope to do lacks meaning, lacks purpose.

I stand on the edge of change, only to find it is not an edge, but a Möbius strip, a path that reveals no steps, no breaks, is smooth and continuous, but ends up turning my world upside down. JS annotation code