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“I love that a handful, a mouthful gets you by, a satchelful can land you a job…and that a solitary word can initiate a stampede…

I love that the Argentine gaucho has over two hundred words for the coloration of horses and the Eskimo a flurry of words for snow….

I love the particular lexicons of particular occupations. The substrate of those activities. The nomenclatures within nomenclatures.

I am of the unaccredited school that believes animals did not exist until Adam assigned them names…

My relationship to the word is anything but scientific, it is a matter of faith on my part, that the word endows material substance, by setting the thing named apart from all else. Horse, then, unhorses what is not horse.”

– excerpted from In a Word, A World, by C.D. Wright, January 2011 issue of Evening Will Come

Watering the Horses    © Bernard Safran


“As I write this now, it occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show how they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minutes, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.”

— Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

The Little Parisian © Willy Ronis
Paris 1952
From Willy Ronis

[h/t to liquidnight for the lead to the photo…makes my mind wander so…]

Unlike the rest of the day – which is always open for discussion – morning is ritual. This radio playing at this hour. This robe and these slippers. This chair at this table. This cereal, with these berries, in this bowl.

Habit was broken a bit in the last week – with my clients closing shop between the holidays, I also took the week for myself. But this morning it was back to routine.

For some odd reason, the steam gathering from the hot shower in the chilled bathroom suddenly reminded me of the steam from the coffee urns that rose above the young man inside the coffee cart near my old office on Sixth Avenue.

His English was poor but he didn’t need much. A few words like coffee, tea, milk, sugar, or the short phrase “this one?” while pointing to a buttered roll or bagel was enough. On this particular morning, the bitter winter air was sharp and pierced thru gloves and overcoat. But he only wore, in that rolling acrylic cabinet, the same  blue sweater and jeans, moving from coffee urns to shelves with the same friendly service.

On a holiday whim, and wondering how he kept warm, I bought him a scarf from one of the local street vendors and handed it up to him the next morning when I ordered my coffee. He nodded to me, placed the package on the shelf below, handed down the brown bag with the twisted top and continued serving his customers from the small window. Small thanks, I thought. But the morning following, even though he was there in that same blue sweater and jeans, he now had that scarf tied easily around his neck. When my turn at the window came he paused, pointed to the scarf, smiled, nodded his head again, and handed me my morning cup of coffee, no charge.

It’s been twenty years since I’ve been on that corner. I wondered if he still had that scarf, or even tells this story as I’m telling it here. But I guess that’s enough – on a routine day in a routine morning…

© Mashyguy, via Flickr

We came out brave on Monday morning with snow shovels and salt. The rest of the neighborhood had already eaten their way thru the drifts with gas powered motors while we just nibbled at the edges. But now, four days later, time and temperature have done more of the job and the bare red brick that we searched for just a short time ago is exactly where we left it.

On the last day of this old year, the path to our door is clear for friends and family to find us, to drink and eat our way to good riddance and optimism.

And the new sits like a wrapped gift waiting to be opened just on the other side of the hour…

Falling Snow, Boy in Window
© Paul Himmel
Silver gelatin print, circa 1949
From Paul Himmel: Photographs

[photo via liquid night…]

It was really an afterthought.

I’ve had a habit for several years, getting up for a few minutes at about 3 AM, and not doing much differently yesterday morning. The rooms were a bit cold as they usually are but I was thankful that I did manage to find that air leak through the dining room window. After sipping some water in the kitchen, and checking to see that the doors remained locked and no dogs wandering after me, I went back to bed. But then remembered the eclipse – and recalled reading that the best time to view it was right about now.

So I swung my legs back out from under the covers, stood up, put on a pair of sweatpants and an old pair of paint-stained topsiders, then made my way over to the front door. While I was snapping myself into my winter coat, I heard the familiar rattle of Old Pepper shaking off sleep, the rhythmic clinking of her tags, and then panting towards me. Never one to turn down an expedition – even at 3 AM – she gladly stood by my feet  as I clicked the leash onto her collar.

The outdoor air was cold and Old Pepper was more interested in the strip of grass by the edge of our house than what I had come outside to see. But as she did what she does, I looked up and had to search a bit since the moon was farther down on the western sky than I thought. When I found it, the moon had a more spherical shape, the edges curved under and the surface craters deeper than I remembered. Most of the moon was covered with a soft orange glow, as if being illuminated by sunsets from all over the Earth as one scientist had described it, while at the edge, a harder white light reflected an area that the earth’s shadow hadn’t yet reached.

Old Pepper made several stops along the route and each time I stared upward and studied the moon. I knew it was something important, something that should be seen, although the enormity of how it was happening overwhelmed me. Enough to see something that people hadn’t seen in some years and wouldn’t see in years hence. I felt a boy’s anxiety, that if I thought too hard about it, the moon might fall out of the sky.

But it was too cold to linger curbside much longer and the bitter air was already penetrating the thin fleece pants I was wearing. So Old Pepper and I returned back to the house where i quietly undressed and carefully got back under the covers so not to wake my wife or a sleeping Baby Belle. Old Pepper slowly curled up on her pillow in the corner, satisfied at least for a few hours before her next walk, and me satisfied that I had several more hours before I needed to wake for work.

While an orange moon hung in the sky…

Photo © Gregory Cantrell

Time lapse here from Kareem Brown…


“Let us write of pens.  Not Montblanc or Waterford or even Cross.  But day-to-day instruments of reliability.  The yeoman of the industry.  The Bics and Pilots and Sharpies.  Papermates, Pentels and uni-balls.  I’ve known and relied upon many of these brands over the years.

And a solid pen makes writing a pleasure, whatever the topic or form – a brief outline on the back of an envelope, the agenda on yellow legal paper or a chart sketched on a paper napkin.  Conversely, a bad pen can test one’s resolve, stalling out in mid-thought, clumping ink on an otherwise great idea or smearing a well done list.”

Pens I’ve Known, via Cultural Offering

© biffybeans

I’ve mused about my own… – J.

I’d been up early enough that the sun was still hidden below the small storied capes in the neighborhood. By the time I’d warmed up to taking Old Pepper out for her morning walk, the sky had already turned to an early gray. Wouldn’t get much brighter than that since a small storm was moving in across the harbor.

Looking up, I saw the Canada geese ambling south in a cursive “V”, it’s arms gently semi-circling in a lazy formation. I’d read that the reason they fly in that shape is so the birds up front break the impact of the headwind while those further back can rest in the draft. When the lead bird tires, he slips back in the pack while the rested birds move up to the front. I watched as several changed places in this instinctive circulation.

The wind began to pick up a bit, Old Pepper was taking her time, and the chill was getting into my bones since I didn’t have much more than a slept in t-shirt underneath my coat. The colder wind was picking up although the old oaks, now skeletal in late November, stubbornly held their ground with barely a shake. Meanwhile the thick evergreens, standing arms out and palms up, juggled the breeze, tipping the gusts from bough to bough as they caught and passed the short drafts of air.

Old Pepper, having checked the borders, now turned back to the house. With a little bit of coaxing, she thankfully skipped sniffing for squirrels in the front yard and hopped up onto the front porch. In a few hours, family would arrive to begin the clatter of conversation and plates, enjoy the warmth of food being shared, listen to stories being told, some new, some old, some deliberately forgotten so they could be rewoven again.

The door opens to the holidays with a new year following behind…

© Bill Israel

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