Category Odds & Ends

My War With Wisteria

Make no mistake: It’s war out there. Arduous, protracted war, in which prisoners are endured only if necessary, but their execution is preferred. In this witless zero sum game, sun and soil and water are the prizes, and brutal, single-minded purpose is the cost of pursuing them.

My name is Wisteria, and my goal is to cover every square inch of Earth.

Mind if I sidle in here underneath you for a spell?


Thankfully, wisteria won’t likely achieve its goal, but it will not be for lack of trying. To its no-doubt chagrin, it hasn’t (yet?) figured out how to survive and thrive in oceans or on tall chilly peaks, about which it remains ignorant. But here in the southeast, it knows all too much about surviving and thriving, having long since mastered the art of absorbing essential nutrients in great abundance after its major varieties were introduced as ornamental flowering vines from Asia in the early 1800s.


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How to Spend the Day When Your Laptop’s Gone Down the Highway in Your Pal’s Car

Sit down on convenient bench outside coffee shop where he dropped you.

Give 10 seconds to wailing and gnashing of teeth and cursing such absence of mind.

On 11th second, turn face up to sun.

Initiate multiple voluntary deep breaths.

Turn attention to coffee and cantaloupe slice you DID remember to remove from car.

Reach for phone to catch at least home page of New York Times.

Experience familiar exasperation of reading news shoved into hellishly cramped space that used to be your morning newspaper.

Think better of reading; cast face back to sun.

Espy actual, hard copy local weekly newspaper lying about on next bench.

Note cover story on aging.  (Synchronicity!) Decide to read it.

Note disappointment with story’s shallowness.

Vow to write something deep about aging one day.

Quickly acknowledge this will not be that day.

Climb on bike, which, unlike laptop, you had removed mindfully from rack at rear of ca...

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“Bill Russell: Legend”…The Title Says It All (Unfortunately)

I suspect all artists are as bedeviled by what to leave out of a work as by what to include. The canvas, score or page is only so large, and though one could theoretically keep writing a piece of music or prose without end (until death parts you from it), no sane person would try to keep listening or reading.

But truly, to begin a creative work is often to be overflowing with potential material and overwhelmed by how to shape and contain it.

You have to be careful it doesn’t sprawl all over whatever medium you’re using with either too much material or, in a slight twist on that theme, too much material of one kind at the expense of perhaps more relevant or interesting or even essential material of another kind.

It is the latter occurrence that can leave audience members with more questions at the end of a creative work than they had at the beginning...

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Tyre Nichols and the Tangled Thicket of Genes, Race, and Responsibility

Scientists have told us we share somewhere between 44-60% of our genes with fruit flies, 92% with mice and 98+% with chimpanzees. As for the 8 billion humans currently trodding the earth wearing skins identified as various shades of white, black, brown and more, speaking a dizzying array of languages with customs, clothes, mores and cultures vastly different from one another, the genetics tell a very different story than all those surface differences might suggest.

According to the National Human Genome Institute, “All human beings are 99.9% identical in their genetic makeup.” 

But oh, the woes and travails that 0.1% has visited upon us for the past couple of hundred thousand years!

These musings have come to mind repeatedly when reading the voluminous commentary on yet another heartless and brutal killing of a black man at the hands of police last week.

He’d rescued the mutt from the streets of Mexico, d...

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A Brief Excerpt on Beauty From Rollo May

“Beauty is the experience that gives us a sense of joy and a sense of peace simultaneously. Other happenings give us joy and afterwards a peace, but in beauty these are the same experience. Beauty is serene and at the same time exhilarating; it increases one’s sense of being alive. Beauty gives us not only a sense of wonder; it imparts to us at the same moment a timelessness, a repose—which is why we speak of beauty as being eternal…

“Early the morning in summers in New Hampshire I walk out to my studio on the far edge of the meadow as the morning mist hangs in the air. The sun rises and its yellow rays rest on the mist. There is no human sound, only the song of thrushes in the bushes...

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