Category Archives: Insight

Small Stone for 17 May, 2022

Why? It’s the question they always ask. Why do you write, paint, compose music, knit, garden, do woodworking, sew? Why let some thing occupy a significant portion of your life, or take it over entirely? But that’s the wrong question. The right question is, “Why not?” If you can’t come up with a good answer for that question, then a good answer to “Why?” is “Because I want to.” The best answer, though, is “Because I can’t not.” That is the egg from which masterpieces hatch.

Small Stone for 8 August, 2021

it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, . . . long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars.

― Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd

“Long and quietly” what a gem of a phrase.

Yesterday was a hustle-bustle kind of a day spent among the good ole boys who didn’t so much leave the farm of 40 years ago as carry it with them in their back pockets, the under-educated over-media’ed under 30’s who talk with their thumbs, the children of people from other languages and cultures who learned their English from TV. This city is knee deep in the multicultural flotsam and jetsam of a small town that grew up into a big city when nobody was looking. I wear my waders and walk carefully.

Sometimes, I need to take a moment and remind myself that the language I hear mispronounced and misgrammared on a daily basis is only two steps away from the language of Shakespeare, the King James Bible, and the Declaration of Independence. Every time I hear the “r” left out of “throw,” a question “axed”, grammar that has been run through the sausage grinder of heedlessness and ignorance, or an innocent idiom Malaprop-ed into absurdity, I try to remind myself of Churchill’s majestic cathedrals of language, the neat-as-a-pin prose of Austen, the apt and agile Shakespearean turn of phrase, the language of the Gettysburg address that is as lean, laconic and full of pith as the man who penned it.

Pardon. I was having a Henry Higgins moment there for a minute. I’ll be better directly. But, you know what? Right this now, my idea of Heaven would be an afternoon spent with the likes of Stephen Fry, in a setting of easy chairs, beverages of choice and plates of small delectables, engaging long and quietly in conversation comme il faut without having to worry about using “big words” or “fancy words,” when I spoke. Perhaps we would be seated in a garden gazebo . . .

Small Stone for 6 August, 2021

I’m in the middle of a transformation, putting my mother into care, selling her house, her car, dismantling her life. I’m at the end of a long, very busy day of paperwork, making arrangements, finding things out, finally getting a chance to stop, sit down, be still. Then, this thought wandered into my mind: Does the butterfly remember being a caterpillar? Or does its awareness only begin the moment it bursts forth from the cocoon? This was followed by: Does the caterpillar know that it will awaken from its sleep and that when it does, it will be an utterly different creature? Another of the myriad of Life’s unanswered questions.

We gave ourselves the wrong species name, you know. We are not Homo sapiens. “Wise Man.” (One has only to look around at the state of the world around us to know the pretentiousness and inaccuracy of that epithet!) We should have named ourselves Homo quarentem. “Questioning Man.” (And, as far as that goes, if we were truly ‘sapiens’ we would have picked a genus name that doesn’t ignore half the members of the species. Very old and very tired argument. Our species has suffered from anthropomorphism for millennia. Beginning to look like a forlorn hope that the genus of “Man” will grow up and become the genus “People.”)


Small Stone for 13 June, 2020

I was watching a video made by a young woman who does watercolors of wild flowers and butterflies, and sells them on Etsy.

The title of her video was “Everything Will Be OK.” As I watched her wander fields of wildflowers gathering inspiration and subjects, I thought of how the works of our hands blow out into the world like the seeds of dandelions. Who knows where they will land or what will grow from them?

Small Stone for 15 March, 2017

People have got the idea of crowns all backwards.   It’s not an award.  You don’t get to wear one because you’re worthy of it.  First you get it, then you work like hell for the rest of your life to become worthy of wearing it.  The last two monarchs of England have understood this very well.