Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wilkommen in Dezember

The first day in December, the first Sunday in December, and the first Sunday in Advent.  Happy Sunday, Happy Advent.  Happy December.  I never used to think of much other than Christmas in December.  Thinking about gifts to buy and whether or not a ten foot tree was more work than fun.  Thinking about Christmas past and family gatherings.  All of the stuff that most people are concerned with, except for the lights.  I was never big on decorations that blink or dance or resemble abominable snowmen even though they're intended to be Santas or Saints.

A few years ago, I had a bad December.  An era ended for me and I felt pretty bad about it.  I recovered sometime the next March.  I began sitting again and not thinking again and reading the things that always put me in the happy place.  I learned something I'd learned before and that I'll probably have to learn again someday:  alone is not lonesome.  Lonesome is a self-imposed restriction on contentment, as are anger, greed, and all of the other ways in which we make ourselves miserable.

This December holds promise.  Sitting needs work.  No-Mind needs work.  Creativity needs work.  And when I've got something to do, I'm content.  So up, up, and away minions of the Stone Street, it's Christmas time in the city.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Who Cares Where the Time Goes?

I've been away from the keyboard for a bit.  In the interim, I've done a little travelling and a little writing, a little cooking and a lot of walking.

A few weekends ago, I met an old comrade, from my days in automotive, in Fuerth.  We drove to Prague from there and then traversed the entire city by foot/  It was on the order of a forced, but leisurely, march because of our time constraints, but it gave me a good idea of how much time I'll need to really explore this wonderful city.

I returned to Herford from the Nurenburg train station, a place I haven't seen for about 40 years.  The Oberpfalz landscape was surprisingly familiar and comfortably so, after such a long absence.  I'll be back to explore it again.

The Weihnachtsmarkt started up on Monday and has been met by the traditional cold rain for it's first few days.  I did a round of the layout on Sunday, when all of the booths were still shuttered and no one else seemed interested.  I like having things to myself.....

Peace and Good Will from Steinstrasse, where the men know everything, and the women let them believe it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Life of Pi

I was sitting outside of the cafe this afternoon, reading 'The Life of Pi' (highly recommended by my daughter, and now, by myself) and I thought about a few religious friends of mine and how they might react to it.  I decided I would approach them with the idea, telling them it's a book to read without forming opinions or making judgments, just read, enjoy the flow of the language, smile every once in awhile.  When you're done, okay say something to yourself about it.

That's the way I approach all literature, prose or poetry, wait for the gestalt to form and then feel it.  As I was formulating this thought, I had visions of the one pointing to heaven and shouting blasphemy or another pointing to hell and shouting something easier to spell and I chuckled.  Good fiction should bring you into the world of the characters, lifting you out of your physical location and setting you down in theirs.  It should be lived, loved, and most of all, enjoyed for what it is: language, the only magic left in the world.

My Sense of Humor is Broken

I woke up earlier this week in an odd mood.  Maybe I'd dreamed something that bothered me, or maybe it wasn't a dream that was bothering me, but some other subconscious inclusion that had festered long enough in the gray matter and had forced itself to the surface.  I couldn't remember dreaming and whatever the thought was, given the date of October 16th, it was between new and nine years old.  I had a sense of impending doom, existential angst, fear of failure, fear of success. And nine years is a lot of thoughts.

I ate two wiener wurstchen and finished my coffee.

I went for a walk.

It didn't go away.

I took a nap, calling upon my ability to force vivid dreams on my way in to the inner world.  The dreams were fast and furious.  I woke an hour later and couldn't remember any of them.  I just knew they were good ones.

Off to the Cafe.  Coffee.  Reading.  People watching.  I opened a new page in the notebook.  I scribbled furiously.  I came up with a poem.  It wasn't very good.  I went for another walk.

It's three days later.  I'm okay, but my sense of humor is broken.  I laugh at my toilet every time I flush it.  Maybe it's symbolic.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Just Another Sunday Morning without the Benefits of a Healthy Breakfast

Kirmes (for those of you who don't know, it's a fair, a fest, kiddie rides, beer, bratwurst, and other delicacies) is on since Thursday night, which is when the rain started.  Today is the closing day and the weatherman promises skies that will alternate between clear and cloudy.  No chance of rain.  We'll see about that.

I'm not the greatest fan of Kirmes.  I don't drink beer that has alcohol (more than 0%, which means trace), rarely eat the brats (although I'm fond or Riesen Krakauer, or giant Polish bologna) and I don't ride the kiddie rides.  There've been enough photos of our fair city made from the top of the ferris wheel.  What I am fond of, is watching people enjoying themselves, which means I'll make a round or two to smell the smells and hear the sounds and watch the kids trying to weasel another euro out of mom and dad.  Kirmes occupies the Alter Market, Linenbauerplatz, Rathausplatz, and a little bit of the Neuermarkt.  It doesn't extend to my neighborhood, the Gaensemarkt.  In order to compensate, the Gaensemarkt will be the home of the Herbstmarkt today, a collection of stalls selling produce, meat, potables, and other stuff to get you through the coming winter.  There will be some fotos to make and some stories to fashion.  Which is why no healthy breakfast.  I'll be eating out today, and I can assure you, whatever it is, it will contain a week's worth of fat.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I Like October

October is, to me, the fairest month.  It is a new year, a new love, a new life, each and every October.  I don't remember when it started, this October infatuation, maybe it's always been like this.  Something about the weather and the way the Sun goes down makes me happy.  I've started love affairs in October, written some of my best poetry, begun my most interesting wood carvings, and taken some of my best walks.

October smells of wool and flannel and burning leaves.  In my youth, it was spent in hunting grouse and rabbit, and flipping the best of my flies at the biggest trout.  And of course, a month into the school year, there was always love, if not of women, at least of new knowledge.  October makes me smile more than any month in winter, spring, or summer. It may just be the light, or the air.  It may just be the way a woman looks in a wool sweater, or the way a trout rises, or a grouse flies.  It may just be October.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Shortsightedness of Technically Assisted Immortality

And now, for something completely off the wall.....

I am a wire-head. I've got tablets, phablets, and other silicon driven devices coming out my yin-yang.  Not what you'd expect from a guy who professes zen as the way to be, but an aspect of my development that I use both to see what the world is thinking and to suggest what it might like to think.  This is a suggestion day.

I do a lot of research in the area of artificial intelligence.  The latest developments suggest that the singularity is near and not so near.  You see, the singularity is something like god.  It's levels of complexity higher than the human understanding of it.  If you lived at the level of a point, you couldn't really understand a line, and a line can't understand a polyhedron and......  You probably get the picture.  A great many of the things I read deal with the extension of human life by technological supplements, the notions of artificial life, immortality, and even technological spirituality.  To me, these things are all possible, and, if you look closely (or distantly) enough, they've probably all been done already.  The big questions for me are all tied into the semantics of existence.  To be is no big deal.  A series of variables cluster, combine, evolve, and poof!!!! Let there be life.

Complicated stuff, and fun, but also reason for existential angst, agnosticism, and in extreme cases, madness. I opt for madness.  God and existence are poorly defined.  Madness is solid.  Concrete.  A madman is anyone who doesn't believe what you believe.

I don't believe anything.  There are things I know, through direct experience.  Things I feel, through direct and indirect contact with the universe.  Things I do, based on the whimsical combination of unconstrained variables in my environment as they interact with the constrained variables of my current moment.  This NOW says:  suggest.

I suggest you find a quiet place to sit and sit there, quietly.  You'll find it useful.  Don't worry about rogue planets, the North Koreans, the price of sugar, or genital warts.  Just sit.  You'll find it useful.  Being is good, being aware of being is better.  But don't be too aware or you'll start rambling like I do.......

peace and love
The Madman of Stone Street in the City of Herford in Eastwestfalia on a Friday morning in late September, a day which will probably come again......

Friday, September 20, 2013

Marktkauf: the Garden of Earthly Delights

Supermarket marketing is an interesting phenomena.  Years ago, a supermarket was a grocery store that had a butcher shop and maybe a bakery attached.  You could get fresh fish, fruit, and vegetables and all of the canned goods, cake mixes and whatever else.....

Today, I am forced to hike a kilometer through clothing, electrical appliances, books, office supplies, shoes, and in some cases, a liquor store before I get to the food.  It used to annoy me, but I've changed my mind.  It's something to do when the grocery list is fast in my head and I've got no plans.  Wander around the store, look at what they've got to offer, and sometimes, in a rare fit of extravagance, but some of it.  Not the liquor, of course, I am, after all a teetotaler.  But tee shirts for 10€ or socks for 3, those are deals, and I love deals.

Christmas is a comin' and the geese are getting fat, so I've got to fill my shelves in case of guests (a phenomenon not experienced since 27 December, 2009 (with the exception of the chimney sweep who sees my gas furnace is 'in ordnung' every January)).

It's not that I don't like company, it's just that I get enough of it in the cafes and beer gardens and bistros I haunt, not to mention the supermarket.  Here on Steinstrasse, solitude is the order of the day.  Solitude, and cooking, and eating.  Occasionally, I write something silly or carve a figure from basswood (lindenholz) or play an ancient folk song (something out of the '60s) on one of the guitars.  In between, I meditate (on my navel, and yours) and walk around.

Thank you for your attention.  I am very happy you dropped by.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Antie!

Today is my sister Mary Ann's Birthday.  Her body's no longer here to celebrate, but there's plenty of her left.  She was a sweet and loving woman, especially when it came to her nieces and nephews. She never married, and never had children of her own, so the kids were all special to her.  As was I.  She used to tell me I was her hero, because I'd finished University and gone on to management in big companies.  I wish she could have lasted long enough to enjoy retirement, but two years after packing it in, she died.  That may have been the reason that I, between jobs at sixty, decided to take advantage of life and start to live it.  

I wish she was around to take walks along the river bank, through the fields and woods, or just to sit under the umbrellas and drink a coffee with me, as she did today, in my mind.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stone Street Zendo Mumbles

I was thinking this morning about how I could strengthen my practice and crawl closer towards enlightenment, and so I looked out on the internet to find the proper robes and cushions, custom made, pretty expensive, and ritualistic, Soto Style, Rinzai Style, layman, monk, polyester.  STOP

Gautama sat around in his everyday clothes, loose and comfortable.  No special apron.  No special stuff.

I'm pretty sure Jesus did the same, and Ghandi, and all of the other holy guys who came before them.  It is the religious complex that dictates such and such material in this or that color, with this chant or that and the reading of this text or that one.  The real practitioners get comfortable and sit.  What they experience internally is the reality of their practice, not the special incense or bells, the experience.  Of course, you can make yourself more susceptible to altered states of consciousness with smells and sounds, but the real challenge is being all alone inside of yourself in silence.

So, I'm gonna just sit, quietly.  And when I'm finished, I'm gonna go for a walk, like a snail, and find my next meal or my next smile.

Peace and Love from Steinstrasse/Stone Street, home of the Schneckenbuddha.....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mormons, Martyrs, and Morons

It's been an interesting few days on Steinstrasse.  I met a bunch of Mormon missionaries in the chocolate store last week and had a brief conversation with them in American.  Really nice kids from all over the US.  I didn't think about them again until I was riding the train back from Bielefeld today (where I managed to avoid buying anything except for a ham sandwich) and heard American voices in the car.  They got off at Herford, and were, indeed, the female half of the contingent I had met last week.  We chatted at the station for quite awhile and I must admit, it was nice being able to use metaphor, simile, and subtle humor, which I really miss when speaking German (although, before I'm 96, I should have a grasp.  They reminded me of some old friends and some good times.  Such experiences are always welcome.

In between meetings, I was a little unnerved a few evenings ago as I was getting ready to shut down for the night.  There was an uncanny howl coming from the bench between the house and the moat and my curiosity got the best of me.  A woman, younger than I by many years, was lying on the bench in the fetal position and hugging a small dog while periodically screeching, moaning, wailing 'Niemand liebt Mich' (nobody loves me).  I stood there for at least ten minutes alternating between thoughts of going to help, calling the police, yelling go away, but was saved from action when she let go of the dog, got up, and rapidly staggered away.  I hope my compassion (as indecisive as it was) helped.

The use of alcohol as a self-medication in times of depression is strongly advised against.  My experiences would make a good pamphlet on the subject!

Other than that, folks are putting together photo exhibits, new books, lectures, etc. and the city is busy everyday because of the great weather we've been having.  As I mentioned before, clouds are the sidewalk  cafe's enemy.  Something about an overcast day keeps the tables empty, with the exception of a crazy American and a few other caffeine and people-watching addicts.

I, as is obvious from this post, am still dwelling in a creative black-hole where ideas are allowed, but execution is not.  This too shall pass.....

Friday, August 2, 2013


Living on the 4th floor (5th if you're An American)with a balcony and living room windows facing southeast is normally a treat, until you encounter 35° c and higher. The Sun starts warming the place at 10 in the morning and goes on until it disappears below thu horizon between 8 and 9 in the evening. I close the place down at 10AM and look for shade, ice cream or apple juice. If the indoor temperature stays below 30, it's livable, but a warm, dark cave is for the winter bear. The Summer bear needs to move, albeit slowly.

It's a far cry from my previous existence of air conditioned cars, offices, and houses, but sandals, cotton and linen clothes, and a straw hat are environmentally friendlier and they leave me with enough spare change to buy LOTS of ice cream!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Endlich Unbefristet!

I first came to Herford  in 2003 to do rapid plant assessments on factories in France, Italy, Germany and Hungary. The key facilities were what we were looking for and the deal has made. In 2004, I was back to integrate the value-based lean six-sigma system into the operations. I've been here (with a few side-trips) ever since. Last week, my residence permit was renewed with NO limitations. l can stay here until the sentient part of me decouples from the fleshy part.

I have no plans to leave.  The wind changes direction. People come and go. Mind remains calm. Sitting on a point of eternity, infinity is the path. Endlich unbefristet!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

After the party....

Hansa Days have come and gone, and I'm still culling fotos!! The first one is a view of Steinstrasse during the grand finale parade shot from the front porch of 1A, 4. OG.

The next two are an overview and detail of one of the Street Art stops, the side wall of the Stadtbiliothek (City Library) which is a collage of photos made by a young Englishman, Ben Stewart.  Aside from the ubiquitous Stadtfuhrer Mathias Polster (lower right) there is a friend of mine in the lower left!

....and here he is, the world famous Schneckenbuddha!!  Denizen of Steinstrasse and my rucksack when we take leave of our abode for parts known, unknown, and who cares.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Fest's in Full Swing!!

I made three rounds of the city today, stopping at the booths of the Hansa Cities that grabbed my eye, got to babble a little in Polish and Russian and enjoyed the sights and sounds of music and food and people of all sorts, and just a minute ago, a new first-two mounted policemen clopping along the flagstones of the Deichtorwall behind my building!!  The scared the heck out of the little band of young people occupying the bench along the moat who were quietly downing a few beers before gravitating to the disco!!

Some of my favorite sights today:

This last group was great!  The were singing 'No Satisfaction' when I took this shot...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hoeker, Hansa, and hey! it's raining...

The 40 th Hoeker Fest in Herford kicked off yesterday. It's been joined today by the International Hansa Days. You may remember the Hanseatic League from your history classes. Herford is a member. Numerous German cities are represented here this week, as well as the Member cities from Latvia, Iceland, Lithuania, Holland, Belgium, Poland,  Russia, Norway, Scotland, and Sweden.  The streets are filling up with revelers and reenacters, vendors, buyers, and people who just like to look.  The weather is beautiful, preparations for concerts, parades, and pageants are underway and or course, the heavens open and drown them all.  Very biblical, with the exception that no one dies.  All in all, it's starting to look cool and I'm looking forward to learning some new people and getting some clues to the next stop on the magical mystery tour....

Here's a list of cities represented here this week, along with the links to their websites (courtesy of our friendly city) to help you plan your next Hansiatic vacation!

Stadt (Organisation) Land Webseite
Brügge Belgien
Ahlen Deutschland  
Alfeld Deutschland 
Anklam Deutschland 
Attendorn Deutschland 
Bad Iburg Deutschland 
Beckum Deutschland
Bockenem Deutschland 
Borgentreich Deutschland
Brakel Deutschland 
Brandenburg an der Havel Deutschland 
Breckerfeld Deutschland
Brilon Deutschland 
Buxtehude Deutschland 
Demmin Deutschland 
Dorsten Deutschland 
Dortmund Deutschland 
Einbeck Deutschland 
Emmerich Deutschland 
Frankfurt (Oder) Deutschland 
Gardelegen Deutschland 
Greifswald Deutschland 
Gronau (Leine) Deutschland 
Halle (Saale) Deutschland 
Haltern am See Deutschland 
Hamburg Deutschland 
Hameln Deutschland 
Hamm Deutschland 
Hansestadt Stralsund Deutschland 
Hansestadt Wipperfürth Deutschland 
Haselünne Deutschland 
Hattingen Deutschland 
Helmstedt Deutschland 
Herford Deutschland 
Höxter Deutschland
Kalkar/Grieth Deutschland 
Kamen Deutschland   
Korbach Deutschland 
Kyritz Deutschland
Lemgo Deutschland
Lippstadt Deutschland
Lübeck Deutschland 
Lüneburg Deutschland 
Lünen Deutschland 
Magdeburg Deutschland 
Medebach Deutschland
Meppen Deutschland
Merseburg Deutschland
Minden Deutschland
Mühlhausen Deutschland
Münster Deutschland
Naumburg (Saale) Deutschland
Neuss Deutschland
Nieheim Deutschland
Olpe Deutschland
Osnabrück Deutschland
Osterburg Deutschland
Paderborn Deutschland
Quedlinburg Deutschland
Rheda-Wiedenbrück Deutschland 
Rheine Deutschland
Rostock Deutschland
Rüthen Deutschland
Salzwedel Deutschland
Schwerte Deutschland
Soest Deutschland
Stade Deutschland
Stendal Deutschland
Tangermünde Deutschland
Telgte Deutschland
Uelzen Deutschland
Unna Deutschland
Warburg Deutschland
Warendorf Deutschland
Werne Deutschland
Wesel Deutschland
Wismar Deutschland
King's Lynn England
Kingston upon Hull England
Hansestadt Tallinn Estland
Narva Estland
Pärnu Estland
Tartu  Estland
Viljandi Estland
Turku Finnland
La Rochelle Frankreich
Hafnarfjörður Island
Cesis Lettland
Kuldiga Lettland
Limbazi Lettland
Riga Lettland
Straupe Lettland
Valmiera Lettland
Kaunas Litauen
Deventer Niederlande
Doesburg Niederlande
Elburg Niederlande
Groningen Niederlande
Harderwijk Niederlande
Hasselt Niederlande
Hattem Niederlande
Kampen Niederlande
Ommen Niederlande
Zutphen Niederlande
Zwolle Niederlande
Bergen Norwegen
Gdansk/Danzig Polen
Goleniow Polen
Kolobrzeg/Kolberg Polen
Krakow/Krakau Polen
Lebork Polen
Slubice Polen
Slupsk Polen
Torun Polen
Belozersk Russland
Kaliningrad Russland
Kingisepp Russland
Pskow Russland
Smolensk Russland
Tikhvin Russland
Totma Russland
Twer Russland
Velikij Ustjug Russland
Welikij Nowgorod Russland
Wologda Russland
Aberdeen Schottland
Kalmar Schweden
Visby Schweden

Saturday, June 8, 2013

and death shall have no dominion

A beautiful piece by Dylan Thomas,  a favorite line, and a good excuse to ruminate.

" Though lovers be lost, love shall not" strikes a chord.

I've been asked a few questions of late, questioning aspects of being most often alone, which I am. One was on homesickness, the other on loneliness.  I don't feel either.  I do sometimes miss the presence of others I've enjoyed and I do sometimes miss a trout stream I used to fish, or an alpine meadow I used to camp in, but missing something I once experienced is something I do joyfully.  Missing means having fond memories and I enjoy many of those.  For many, though, it implies a sadness at not being able to connect with that experience.  That is not my way.  It's taken a long time to work it through, but I've broken my attachments to my experiences.  That doesn't mean I've forgotten or suppressed them. It means that I live in the here and now and when you do this mindfully, when you work everyday at being aware of your body and your mind and your connections to the world you know and the world you haven't experienced yet, you realize that present, past, and future are the same thing and "though lovers be lost, love shall not; and death shall have no dominion." For a Buddhist, death has no dominion and love is never lost and sitting quietly on a Saturday night is a lot more important than anything else I can think of.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Drinking Drinking a Cup of Green Tea

Paul Reps, an American artist, poet, and knower of Zen once wrote "Drinking a bowl of green tea, I stopped the war.

 I am sitting quietly tonight, drinking green tea and smiling at the thought of stopping all wars and saving all sentient beings. I'm smiling, because I've been sitting quietly for most of the day. I've written a few poems and sketched a bit and thought about the way following my breath quiets my mind.  Mind is vast, as vast as space, and when it's empty, l experience fullness. Drinking a cup of green tea.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gray Enough for You?

It's been a cool, gray week on Steinstrasse. I've played around with some ideas for a sculpture series, dropped a few words into the slowly evolving novel, and I've written some poems which sound like Haiku. The major part of the week has centered around "Rushton and His Times in American Canoeing", one of my favorites. I love canoes, the Adirondacks, and the magnates, hermits, and madmen who fished, padded, and waded through that beautiful wilderness.

The book is a wonderful collection of tales and facts, and the repository of the recreated lofting plans for some of Rushton's best designs. I built a model of one  them many years ago to see how it would look as a fiberglassed wood strip construction. My experience working with Kai and his fairytale houses has rekindled my  need to build things and I think it's time I started.

I'm writing about it, because I don't want the idea to pass, like so many others have. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Sands of Time

The Sands of Time blew back and forth for a few hours last week. l took the train over to Köln on Thursday to meet my old friend Tim Speicher. He and his wife Jo Ann have been cruising the rivers of Europe. Their ship is a little too big for the Werre, so we settled on the Rhein. Aside from the mandatory Westfälisch half hour of rain, it was a fine day.

The first sand storm hit when Tim said it had been 52 year since we first met. We were 14 and freshmen at St. Rose High School. We were also new kids on the block. Tim went to grade school in Archbald and I in Jermyn. In those days, a few miles meant a lot more than they do today, culturally, politically, and economically. Carbondale, when St. Rose was located, was a much bigger town than either of ours, and somewhat intimidating, at least, for the the first few weeks.

 We survived, and 52 years later, we ate Bratwurst and Rotkohl in Köln.

On the train back to Herford, I relived a lot my life, good and bad, happy and sad. My dreams were full of ghosts that night, and I smiled on waking in a future I had never imagined, where the Sands of Time look more like dust on the furniture.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day, mayday

First of all, Happy May Day to all of you who celebrate it, and Happy Birthday to those born on it.  As for the rest of you, a very merry unbirthday.

Some of you know that May Day is the equivalent to the American Labor Day.  It's the day of the worker and we workers are not working today (at least in the factories, the restaurants and cafes are open). My plan for the day was to get up early (which I did) and go for a walk (which I didn't).  It's a beautiful day, so far, with a blue sky and bright sunlight making the budding trees even more magical, and I really should be out there walking about, or at least, sitting in a sidewalk cafe drinking coffee, so I'll make this short: mayday, mayday, mayday, SOS,SOS,SOS: help me, I'm enjoying life.  Shouldn't I be in some sort of existential funk?  It is, after all Spring and I live alone.  The ducks are paired up, the hares, the titmouses, and pigeons, and everything else that moves.  Pollen is looking for a place to land, the world is mating.

Enough.  I've done my part.  There are two separate continua of this stream of consciousness.  A male in Pennsylvania and a female in New York.  Anything more would be dangerous.  I'm going to rest on my laurels, and play the part of a zen monk until this body quits and I'm transferred to the waiting room.  And now, it's time to drink coffee, or maybe eat ice cream.  I wish you all a peaceful May Day, with no need to demonstrate or revolt against the regime.  May you and your children all find comfort in their Buddha Nature.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hansel, Gretel, Kai, and Meike

I spent three days this week learning the intricacies of the world of the Lieblingsplatz, Rhubart, and other fairytale house designs of my friend Kai Schaede. Aside from the issues that a 66 year old body has with carrying, lifting, bending, and straightening up again after more than a few years of retirement, it was a a fun-filled experience. Learning, hammering, sawing, and smelling pine, fir, and cedar put me in a place I love! If only I had a piece of land to put one on...
If you're interested you can find more at

Saturday, April 6, 2013


One of the biggest festivals of the Herford year is Oster Kirmis, or the Easter Carnival. For the past two years, they've closed one of the main thoroughfares and setup the Ferris Wheel, carousels, concession stands, funhouses, and all manner of mayhem and maddness designed to part families with Euros, and keep the kids busy during Spring Break. Today is the last day of the festivities, it's neither raining nor snowing, and  every once in awhile, the Sun peeks out.

The streets are full!

I've walked through it a few times during the week, but it's easier to go around it. If I had A couple of kids to drag me around, it would be a thing of wonder. Alone, it's a jostling crowd- on MY turf. Better to be the little kid and see the magic, which I'm about to become after my next cup of coffee.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good- Holy- Black Friday

Custom and location dictate the name of the Friday before Easter. Here, in Germany, it is called Karfreitag. The word derives from Old High German 'kara',which means grief or mourning. It is the day of the crucifixion of a holy man. l would have preferred the story of Jesus to have ended with him sitting under a tree, teaching. If you read what he said, without  the commentary, without the choirs of angels, devils and demons, you have a moral philosophy, a moral philosophy not much different from that of Gautama, the Enlightened Teacher. l would prefer to see Jesus portrayed among the children, the poor, and the sick, healing and teaching and loving. That's the way he spent his days on earth. Unfortunately, his country was occupied by Roman Legions, supported by jealous priests who preached a doctrine of fear. Jesus offered liberation from fear and guilt. Not many Hebrews, or Romans, were willing to take a chance on him. I'd like to know more about those who did. Not much of the original teaching seems to have survived. The longest texts are the Sermon on the Mount or the Sermon on thu Plain.
l sat down one Good Friday forty years ago and read all four accounts of the Passion. That was my last day of Bible study, I turned my focus to St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Merton, and eventually Daisetz Suzuki who accidently led me to Shunryu Suzuki. The last two gave me the image l needed to accept the idea of life without props.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Passport's in the Mail

l just put my American passport in an envelope, sealed it up, and mailed it to Frankfurt along with the requisite funds, forms, and foto. Before I did it, I had official copies made and stamped. I am identifiable. I am also feeling very vulnerable! When you're an expat, the Passport is the only thing between you and potential disaster. Parting with it, even when you're in possession of a legitimate copy is a lot like one of those dreams where you're moving your mouth , but nothing comes out. lt's time to sit under the Bhodi-tree!!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Now Playing at a Worm Hole Near You The ability to take stuff with you, wherever you go, ten notebooks, sketchbooks, novels, texts used to be a rucksack. (brought to you by Google Keep and Samsung Note) Shared from Google Keep

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring has...

The fist day of Spring 2013 and there you have it-the view from the balcony.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Silence Broken

I've been off my schedule for a few weeks.  Random experiments.  No plans, no plots.  Just drifting in the cloud of mind.  I spent some time this morning in the electronic notebooks that contain the ideas and elements of 'The Yellow House'.  One page caught my eye and I read it twice and realized it was the kernel of the thought process I need to follow in order to make this happen.  Essentially, the theme, which had been bouncing around in occult and fringe science spaces, has solidified.  I'm working on three elements now, which are the keys to the yellow house of the mind: Language, Technology, and Transcendence.  We all think we understand the first two, but the second will not come to singularity until the first is understood and the understanding of the first is not the understanding of sentences but the understanding of the underlying structure that allows us to generate those sentences in any language we are exposed to.  Not machine translation, which is a statistical process, but universal grammar, and Chomsky's 'Minimalist Program'.  Once we're there, machines can be intelligent, and once machines become intelligent, we can use them to recognize the kernel, the core or human intelligence and reach the third singularity, that of transcendence.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ode to St. Valentine

I never much liked Valentine's Day.  The nuns at Sacred Heart of Mary insisted on us dispensing cards to every one of our classmates.  I think that fired the psychotic in some of the odder examples of humanity in our class.  People always acted funny on that day, particularly in the eighth year, when the hormones were just beginning to stir. For some reason, though, it was one of my Dad's favorites and he never forgot to grace my sister and me with a small, heart-shaped box of chocolates.  It was nice, and I like nice memories.

I always made it a point to avoid the practice myself.  It's nothing to do with the saint himself.  Or both of them, depending on which history of the church you read.  I suppose it's got value, in that it does remind people of the concept of love, something that gets lost in the myriad of forensic scientists and murderers, soccer players, politicians, and the rest that are paraded through their minds by the media.

I am, myself, a great fan of love, but not of romance.  I would die for love, which is to say, I would risk my life to save another sentient being.  Compassion.  Everyone should try a taste of it.  Love is a good thing.  Don't you forget it. It may actually be love that makes the world go round.  The science of mind is beginning to understand itself, the zeitgeist is turning mystical. I'm going to sit quietly for the next twenty minutes or so, and do my part to hold the universe in balance.  Peace and love to all of you!!  Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Month of Sundays

January began with a cold.  I was on my back or buttocks more than my feet for the first few weeks.  Somewhere between a sneeze and a cough, I managed to pinch my sciatic nerve once again.  It was a particularly harsh episode and it was at least a week before I could sleep more than two hours at a time.  Eventual, I took on the form of a sadly deformed pretzel, left side to the mattress, right hoisted in the air at an absurd angle to the other and then, a twitch and a tuck and sleep was upon me.  I've taken my walks, short ones, one to two kilometers, not particularly enjoyable in the wet snow or almost frozen rain, but respites from buttock or back and an intake of something other than pipe smoke and dust.  One good thing's come out of it, though, I've redefined Sunday.  We'll leave the semantics lesson for another time, but I thought I'd let you know that Sunday is a day when you don't write, or carve, or even think.  Sunday is the mindfulness of mindlessness.  I've had a month of them and am looking forward to the rest.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

resurrection tuesday

I've had a cold for about a week now.  It's kept me from enjoy long walks in the snow and may be the reason I haven't reached enlightenment.  I was ready, you know, to become a truly amazing creature, full of wisdom and compassion, but then I got this cold.  I'll have to take a rain check on enlightenment, I'm comfortable enough to talk a walk.  There's jazz playing this evening in Lamaeng.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Finally: Winter (my kind of Winter)

When you live in Ostwestfalen, you get used to Winter being a gray, damp thing.  Overcast days are the norm, the Sun is a rare, but welcome visitor.  For the last three days, we've had snow on the ground and temperatures hovering around zero on the Celsius scale ( 20s and 30s for the Fahrenheit Folk).  For me, it is finally Winter.  It probably won't last long, not like the November through March snowcover I remember from my childhood, marching down the mountain through a foot of the stuff to serve the 7 o'clock mass or marching back up it after school, walking on the iced over Rushbrook Creek (pretty good redundancy factor in that name) and falling through up to my waist, or weekends on Boot Pond with cousins testing the temerity of the ice with large rocks, which eventually dropped said cousins into the water.  Skiing from the top of the mine road across US 6 and down the hill to Rushbrook Street, sometimes narrowly missing traffic, sometimes so close to it you ended the run with your buttocks as a brake and went out of control into a hedge or a ditch.  But that was Winter, my way.

There were deer hunts when the entire forest was so quiet you could hear the animals breathing and the snow falling, so quiet the meditation took over and the hunt disappeared.  Long walks through mountain meadows and stands of pine opening into sparse hardwood and finally back down low on the mountain to the empty expanse of rock and dirt and giant shovels of the strippings.  John O'Hara once said that Winter in Scranton is suicide weather.  Maybe, if you're a city kid, but for us mountain boys, Winter, 15 miles Northeast of Scranton is transcendtal weather.  The same thing applies here, the lanscape and the cityscape transcend the gray with a coating of white and air which turns your breath into steam.  It's a good thing. It's my kind of Winter.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Walking in the Rain

I just came back from a walk around town.  Understandably empty, given the holiday and the weather, it was a pleasure to be able to have it all to myself!  I walked for about an hour, and given the weather-worthiness of my gear, remained dry, with the exception of the tip of my nose (something which only the largest of umbrellas could protect, given it's expansive nature).  There were a few pockets of teen-aged rebellion hunched under the protective cover of doorways, and one or two other intrepid cobble-stone wanderers, but none of the usual pigeons or beggars.  There's always a possibility that you've gone through a portal when the landscape is so devoid of humanity, but I think it was as I said, a case of weather and the aftermath of New Year's Eve celebrating.

Back on Steinstrasse, warm and dry within my cocoon, coffee brewing and a big chunk of tiramisu waiting for the wolf, I am reminded that the original child remains. 

Welcome 2013

New Year's Day is a time when many people make resolutions to stop this or that, to be this or that, to do this or that, and in a few weeks time, they've forgotten all about it.  That's okay.  It's raining, anyway, not the best weather for changing the world, but, I've got to do it anyway, so, this being the 66th time I've been around the opening of a New Year, I say hello to this one and I wish it a very healthy existence, as I wish all things with live in this world and in the ones I'm not privileged to visit on a daily basis. I resolve to continue.  That is my New Year's Resolution.  I will continue until I've got it right and no longer need to do so.  Then, maybe I'll continue just so I can drop a hint now and then to other beings who've had the same sort of convoluted journey that I've had.

I'm not a theologian, nor a nuclear physicist, but I know enough about both spheres to realize they are one and the same, in the same way that anything which seeks to explain nature is the same thing.  I've really enjoyed the emergence of quantum physics into the mainstream of thinking and being these past twenty or thirty years.  The deeper our knowledge of the natural world gets, the deeper our understanding of the supernatural world gets.  Super becomes sub and sub super in many respects.  In a sense, it all comes down to perception.  We can now see things we couldn't see before, neurons, galaxies, universes, quanta.  The more we see, the more we are led into the recursive world of vortexes, imaginary and otherwise, which gives us the ability to create, understand, teach, and learn some more.  I like it.

The world didn't end with the Mayan Calendar.  Or maybe it did.  Who cares?  I'm still imagining and perceiving and, yes, since it's Winter, eating.  That's a Happy New Year.  I hope yours goes as well!