The Land of Story.

July 25, 2016 § 2 Comments

once upon a timeThe mapping of the brain is becoming more and more precise.

In the latest revision the label “story” was added.

Yes, the brain has allocated territory to the human habit of storytelling and story-listening.

Why? Brain real estate is valuable.

How do stories justify themselves when it comes to the bottom line, survival?

Stories organize the random chaos that is life into something coherent, manageable, hopeful; something worth the effort.

How? Story snips the endlessly unspooling thread of life into something shorter: it begins here, it ends here. And in between a problem is raised—and solved!

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July 18, 2016 § 4 Comments

IMG_0850It’s not that I am ready to die.

Or even to be old.

But I accept that there is a certain fairness to both these outcomes.

I have had a wealth of days, and far more than my share of kindness and lucky breaks.

As a kid I had the luxury of believing all families were loving and durable and did their darndest to protect, teach, and give a child an advantageous start. « Read the rest of this entry »

Morning pages.

June 24, 2016 § 6 Comments

IMG_0194Writers struggle with…well…writing.

Committing beliefs, dreams, and ideas to paper, making the word flesh, takes courage.

What will people think when they see, in black and white, what goes on inside your head?

That’ll keep you from writing. But to be a writer you have to put words on paper.

Begin by writing for nobody. Grab your pad and paper and write something, anything. Toss words like confetti!

Still can’t?

That is because your inner writer, that blind-wanderer, has a traveling companion, the critic within who whispers, “Everything you write sucks.”

When you write can make a difference. Try writing first thing in the morning. The inner critic armors-up as the day goes on, but as you leave sleep you are less guarded, less self-censoring.

Your inner-critic sleeps later than your imagination.

Wake up and write something every morning. Something that doesn’t matter.

IMG_2207_edited-1Make it a habit and pages will fill. You will also come to know yourself better as themes recur. I was unaware of how much I think about tomatoes, my messy house, aging…

I do this wandering form of writing every morning. It is nothing like the work I do later in the day when I continue the long march toward a finished novel.

My morning pages are a no-fault opportunity to try things out, to be foolish or serious, to stand up on the bicycle seat. « Read the rest of this entry »

Nice place.

June 13, 2016 § 4 Comments

Any place we claim as home has, and has not.

The place I claim has squirrels, armadillos, and raccoons, but no giraffes, onagers, or kangaroos.

Magnolia Cemetery, Apalachicola, FL.Except for bears, which the legislature is considering opening a second season on, our fauna is small and barely stands out in the landscape.

Trees are a different story.

Our live oaks are burly with spreading limbs. Fingertip to fingertip it takes several of us to hug the tree in my father’s back yard. The oaks are the landscape–every place does something bigger and better than the average. We do trees.

You won’t hear us brag about our climate, which is ninety percent heat, ninety percent humidity. It may not add up but its true. Both settle in for months, refusing to budge. Just when our brains reach a slow simmer, abuzz with heat-induced confusion, a cool breeze blows through, and it is winter.

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The self.

May 31, 2016 § 8 Comments


Maybe the self extends past the thin envelope of skin. Maybe it includes the man-made box the body inhabits: the shelf of carefully arranged stones-of-travel, the photos and cut flowers, the wall paint that matches the sky.

Maybe, like magnetism, the self extends out into the yard, to wander among the ferns and grass and the flowering plants passed along by neighbors as slips in Dixie cups of damp earth. « Read the rest of this entry »

Italy is.

May 15, 2016 § 1 Comment


Italy is

this moment’s sky,

framed by

Palladio’s eternal column.

The immovable past

partnered with the





Italy is a beautiful arrangement of


seasonal fruit,

tortes, gelati, masks, hats,

behind a polished

pane of glass.

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Not grouchy. Just old.

April 24, 2016 § 7 Comments

catfishI glanced around the meeting room table.

Every one of the women gathered to discuss library business wore a catfish frown.


Catfish can’t help it. It’s simple anatomy, but as a young person I assumed the human face was mobile, and that facial expressions revealed the emotions within.

If so, I was in trouble. New at running a public library, I read the frowns of those women-of-a-certain-age as disapproval.

I hadn’t reckoned with the way age creates unintended facial expressions including the, “Hey kid, get off my lawn” glare, the “Life is one long disappointment” slump, and the face-at-rest frown.

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