12.14.2021 – to look around me

to look around me
as though I had never been
in this place before

I based this haiku and several others like it from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

I tried to reverse the process of habituation, to dissociate my surroundings from the uses I had previously found for them. I forced myself to obey a strange sort of mental command: I was to look around me as though I had never been in this place before. And slowly, my travels began to bear fruit.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

12.13.2021 – everything being

everything being
of potential interest,
layers of value

I based this haiku and several others like it from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

I tried to reverse the process of habituation, to dissociate my surroundings from the uses I had previously found for them. I forced myself to obey a strange sort of mental command: I was to look around me as though I had never been in this place before. And slowly, my travels began to bear fruit.

Once I began to consider everything as being of potential interest, objects released latent layers of value.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

12.4.2021 – if lives dominated

if lives dominated
by a search for happiness
travel reveals much

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest—in all its ardour and paradoxes—than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside of the constraints of work and of the struggle for survival. Yet rarely are they considered to present philosophical problems—that is, issues requiring thought beyond the practical. We are inundated with advice on whereto travel to, but we hear little of why and how we should go, even though the art of travel seems naturally to sustain a number of questions neither so simple nor so trivial, and whose study might in modest ways contribute to an understanding of what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudaimonia, or ‘human flourishing’.

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.30.2021 – sensitivity

sensitivity
on entering a new space
actively aware

Even before coffee, when I wake up, I go to the window and open the blinds to look at the sky.

A new day, a new sky.

Maybe not coffee awake, but awake enough to be actively aware of the new space.

Depending on my mood I may mumble the rhyme, Red sky at night, sailor’s delight – Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.

I was asked recently where did that saying come from and I was happy to report that, for me, the most important recorded early use is from Jesus.

In the Bible, Matthew 16:2-3, Jesus says, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red, and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (NIV)

There is an essay and discussion on this saying and its Biblical roots at the United States Library of Congress.

In the Question and Answer section of the LOC website, in an essay with the attribution, “Author: Science Reference Section, Library of Congress”, the author states:

The colors we see in the sky are due to the rays of sunlight being split into colors of the spectrum as they pass through the atmosphere and ricochet off the water vapor and particles in the atmosphere. The amounts of water vapor and dust particles in the atmosphere are good indicators of weather conditions. They also determine which colors we will see in the sky.

During sunrise and sunset the sun is low in the sky, and it transmits light through the thickest part of the atmosphere. A red sky suggests an atmosphere loaded with dust and moisture particles. We see the red, because red wavelengths (the longest in the color spectrum) are breaking through the atmosphere. The shorter wavelengths, such as blue, are scattered and broken up.

Even before I have coffee, I check the sky.

Here in coastal South Carolina, the sky seems to be most often a lighter shade of sky blue than I am used to seeing.

When I was in college, my what-was-then-called-a-minor, was the field of History of Art.

Really I took History of Art classes because the college I went to was blessed with a bunch of professors in the field who loved to sit back and tell wonderful stories about art and artists.

I was happy to sit back and listen.

I can replay those lectures in my mind.

They weren’t so much lectures, they were single person plays.

I can feel the passion as this one Professor told the story of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, on the run from the law, desperately painting paintings to sell for the money to live on until he dies from the anguish of being a fugitive just as his pardon is at hand.

This same Professor told a story about the The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, a fresco ceiling painted by Annibale Carracci, that is in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome.

He told how the Palazzo Farnese had become the French Embassy in Rome and was only open to art scholars on Sunday Mornings so if you wanted to see The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, you had to show up on Sunday Morning.

The Professor related that if you got there early enough, you could watch the Piazza Farnese outside the Palazzo slowly fill up with a WHO’s WHO in the art world of who was in Rome that weekend.

The lecture was continued about the fresco, when the Professor paused, he looked out at us and smiled and said, “Good ice cream in the Piazza Farnese.”

But I digress.

When I started this I was thinking about another Professor in the History of Art department.

This Professor loved light and talking about light.

This was the feller who told us we had to visit an Art Gallery three times – In the morning for white light, in the afternoon for warm light and at night for electric light.

He was also the feller who advised us that to see paintings in the proper perspective of the painter, we had to sit on the floor.

I rarely have opportunity to visit any Art Gallery three times but I do sit on the floor (or at least drop to a knee).

He felt that the bright blues of Tuscan Renaissance Art was caused by the bright blues of the Italian sky.

He felt that the bright blues of the Italian sky was due to Italy being so narrow and having the sea on either side.

I grew up in the State of Michigan with Lake Michigan and Lake Huron on either side of me.

Sorry to say that along with being the Great Lake State, my meteorological friends also tell me that Michigan is one of the most overcast locations in the 48 states.

Maybe second only to the Seattle area.

If the lakes had any impact on the colors we saw in the sky, we most likely were not able to see the sky to know it.

Even before I have coffee, I check the sky.

Much like that the coffee will be ready because of the timer on the coffee maker, I expect to see the sky.

There have been some mornings of gray clouds but for the most part, when before I have coffee. I check the sky, I WILL see the sky.

A few miles from the coast, influenced by the sea, its a blue sky that is new to my sensitivity.

Hard to explain in the words that I have, but after a lifetime of overcast, you just feel better seeing it.

Feeling better, then I have coffee.

*I based this haiku and several others like it from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

On entering a new space, our sensitivity is directed towards a number of elements, which we gradually reduce in line with the function we find for the space. Of the four thousand things there might be to see and reflect on in a street, we end up being actively aware of only a few: the number of humans in our path, perhaps, the amount of traffic and the likelihood of rain. A bus that we might at first have viewed aesthetically or mechanically—or even used as a springboard to thoughts about communities within cities—becomes simply a box to move us as rapidly as possible across an area that might as well not exist, so unconnected is it to our primary goal, outside of which all is darkness, all is invisible.

*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.29.2021 – setting off to find

setting off to find
pleasures that will cost neither
money nor effort

Road Trip along Port Royal Sound to Edisto Beach

Life in the low country of South Carolina is slow.

We live in a town of less than 30,000 people.

Last week we visited another town of 2,000.

It is a tourist area with lots of things to do that cost money.

There are also lots of things to do that don’t cost money.

There are lots of things to do that take a lot of effort.

There are lots of things to do that don’t take a lot of effort.

Make some sandwiches and fill a water thermos.

Pack some folding chairs.

Drive off to the beach.

Sit on the Atlantic coast of the United States of America and watch the ocean for free.

Free but priceless.

A fee to see anything else seems a sham.

I know the beach isn’t for everyone and everyone has their special place.

I remember that feller, Andy Rooney and his bits on the show Sixty Minutes.

Mr. Rooney once made a TV Special about view America from the Air.

It was a cluster of helicopter shots of famous American sights, Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, etc., with Mr. Rooney’s narration about the spot explaining why folks wanted to go there and see the spot.

Right in the middle of the film, there was a helicopter shot of a water front cottage.

Mr. Rooney said that this was a view of HIS favorite spot.

But, NO, he was not going to identify it as then other folks might go there.

Mr. Rooney was willing to share the view of his favorite spot but he didn’t want to share the spot.

The funny thing for me was that I knew where his favorite spot was because it was where one of my cousins lived off in the Hudson River Valley and it was a local secret that everyone knew Mr. Rooney lived there in the summer.

For me, I have said it before, I am lucky.

For me, a trip to the coast costs me neither money nor effort.

It is my favorite spot.

I don’t care who knows it.

I don’t care who knows where it is.

To find it, face north and turn right real sudden like.

It is for everyone.

It is free.

I wonder what the rich people are doing?

This haiku and several others like it, are adapted from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and Mr. de Botton’s comments on the book, Journey around My Bedroom written in 1790 by Xavier de Maistre.

de Maistre, de Botton writes in de book, “living in a modest room at the top of an apartment building in Turin, de Maistre pioneered a mode of travel that was to make his name: room travel”.

Millions of people who, until now, have never dared to travel, others who have not been able to travel and still more who have not even thought of travelling will be able to follow my example,’ explained Xavier as he prepared for his journey ‘The most indolent beings will no longer have any reason to hesitate before setting off to find pleasures that will cost them neither money nor effort.’ He particularly recommended room travel to the poor and to those afraid of storms, robbers and high cliffs.

Unfortunately de Maistre’s own pioneering journey rather like his flying machine, did not get very far.

The story begins well: de Maistre locks his door and changes into his pink-and-blue pyjamas. With no need of luggage, he travels to the sofa, the largest piece of furniture in the room. His journey having shaken him from his usual lethargy, he looks at it through fresh eyes and rediscovers some of its qualities. He admires the elegance of its feet and remembers the pleasant hours he has spent cradled in its cushions, dreaming of love and advancement in his career. From his sofa, de Maistre spies his bed. Once again, from a traveller’s vantage point, he learns to appreciate this complex piece of furniture. He feels grateful for the nights he has spent in it and takes pride in the fact that his sheets almost match his pyjamas. ‘I advise any man who can do so to get himself pink and white bedlinen,’ he writes, for these are colours to induce calm and pleasant reveries in the fragile sleeper.

*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.28.2021 – such a factual

such a factual
description seemed little
help pinning down why

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

I began word-painting.

Descriptive passages came most readily: the offices were tall; the top of one tower was like a pyramid; it had ruby-red lights on its side; the sky was not black but an orangey-yellow.

But because such a factual description seemed of little help to me in pinning down why I found the scene so impressive, I attempted to analyse its beauty in more psychological terms.

The power of the scene appeared to be located in the effect of the night and of the fog on the towers.

Night drew attention to facets of the offices that were submerged in the day.

Lit by the sun, the offices could seem normal, repelling questions as effectively as their windows repelled glances.

But night upset this claim to normality, it allowed one to see inside and wonder at how strange, frightening and admirable they were.

The offices embodied order and cooperation among thousands, and at the same time regimentation and tedium.

A bureaucratic vision of seriousness was undermined, or at least questioned, by the night.

One wondered in the darkness what the flipcharts and office terminals were for: not that they were redundant, just that they might be stranger and more dubitable than daylight had allowed us to think.

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.24.2021 – began word-painting

began word-painting
the descriptive passages
came most readily

Word painting.

Back in 2019 I was spending, on average, two hours a day in my car, commuting to and from downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

I began this week day trek in 2009.

In my car, I was surrounded.

Surrounded by words.

There were the words on the radio.

Sports talk radio.

NPR.

Whatever station might be in range.

Then there words to the songs I might be listening to on the radio.

Or the songs on my phone that I played in my car.

The words in the books on tape I listened to by the carload.

Then there the words along the way.

The words on billboards.

The words on cars and trucks.

The words spray painted on walls.

And finally the words that I could make up from the letters on cars license plates.

I would play a game I called FREEWAY SLOT MACHINE.

I liked the middle lanes.

In Atlanta, I usually had my pick of 5.

I liked the one to the inside of the far left.

With the HOV/Peach Pass lane, that means the 3rd lane from the left.

I felt that in case of an accident, I could go left or right.

To play FREEWAY SLOT MACHINE, I would watch the lane in front of me and the lanes to my immediate left and right.

I watched for the make of a car or license plates by state.

Anytime I got three across, three FORDS or three HONDAs or three cars from Florida, I won.

Drove my wife nuts if I tried to play when I rode with her.

She couldn’t understand how I could concentrate on something like that when I should be driving.

The Atlanta commute WAS and IS awful but it is not demanding.

I found that, for the most part, the commute was made up of people who had resigned themselves to getting to work best they could.

It was closer to being in line at the DMV than the opening of Walmart on Black Friday.

It was … deadly dull.

I had grown up driving on freeways in Detroit and Chicago.

In those places, people still thought that how you drove and how fast you drove, could make a difference on when you got places.

In Atlanta, you got in line and waited your turn.

Too be sure, there were still the occasion driver, either a newbie or an Ausländer, and if they saw 30 feet of empty freeway, the got in and accelerated to close up the gap and looked for the next gap to take.

There folks would be all over the road and boy oh boy, did they stand out.

And because they stood out, you remembered their car.

You would see their car up by Pleasent Hill Road where the traffic started to pile up.

And you would see them when you saw it, still next to you, as you exited at Armour Drive in downtown ATL.

You could see it because in the back and forth of traffic, in all the different lanes, it never made much difference as everyone slowly made their way into the city.

Surrounded by words and bored to death I became to assemble words into nonsense sentences.

Occasionally one of these sentences would stick in my mind and I would yell it out loud over and over and over again.

Something like ‘Two Men and Trucks under Saddebrook Road called Injury Lawyers asked how is my driving call 1-800’.

I would sing these sentences out loud until they became even more meaningless.

It was mental activity along the line of zoochosis, like a wild animal stuck in a cage at some roadside attraction.

At this same time, out of my office in ATL, I was working with a TV station in Knoxville, Tennessee.

A reporter at that station was famous for writing election day Haiku and at election planning meetings she would be called on to recite her haiku which became the station meme (tho no one called it that) for that election.

Over the years, this reporter and I began exchanging haiku about elections and then random events.

Then came the day when one of my goofy word sentences fell into the traditional 5 – 7 – 5 syllable pattern of a haiku.

Then it happened again the next day.

I wrote those down at the time, though now I cannot remember what ones they were or if I saved them.

This became part of my day.

Through out that day, when ever someone came in my office or if I ran into someone in the hall, instead of a greeting I would recite my haiku.

Everyone loved it.

Or at least that’s what it seemed to me.

I did not ask of course, but I knew.

I knew when one day, I greeted my friend, Dave Myer, with

Sometimes, each day is …

making shoes for dead people

who no longer walk

Dave smiled and kept walking, then turned around and says, ‘okay, that was pretty good.’

And that’s how all this started.

Most often these haiku caught the mood of my commute or the mood of my brain at that moment as influenced by all the words that surrounded me.

I never put much thought into them.

I never put much thought into what there were.

Until I started writing them down.

Until I started writing them down and putting them online.

After writing them down, I often felt the creative process behind the words could use a little explanation.

Sometime these explanations were like turning on a faucet in my brain and words, sometimes very random words, and thoughts, sometimes very random thoughts, just poured out.

And this lasted until March, 2020.

Then that process came to a halt.

Covid hit.

I worked from home.

No more commute.

Then I was downsized.

No more Atlanta.

I landed on my feet on the Atlantic Coast.

Instead of being surrounded by words I am surrounded by the visuals of living near the ocean in the south.

Palm trees.

Spanish moss.

Blue herons, egrets and ibises.

The beach.

The ocean.

Stunning visual overload instead of words surrounded me.

Instead of assembling words into 17 syllable strings, I turned to translating what I saw into words in 17 syllable strings.

If you know the history of digital TV, the folks who created digital TV took a cable with an existing analog TV signal on it and plugged it into a computer.

The computer screen displayed all sorts of seemingly random characters.

The programmers, just like in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Gold Bug, set to decoding what the saw.

As in the Gold Bug, the hero thinks the letter E shows up the most often so the most reoccurring character in the coded message must be an E, the programmers identified the most reoccurring character in what they saw and told the computer that when this character showed, the monitor should display a white pixel and then so on and so on (yep, your TV today is still IF THEN DO LOOP) until finally all the characters were identified and we watch Digital TV.

Sometimes the stream is delayed and you see odd little squares on your TV where there was no code to decode.

The point is that these incredible scenes are coming into my brain through my eyes, and I try to turn that view, to decode what I see, into words.

Recently I read this passage in the book The Art of Travel.

I began word painting.

That phrase stuck with me.

I like it.

I began word painting.

I began word painting because such a factual description seemed of little help to me in pinning down why I found the scene so impressive.

Add that I try to do this in 17 syllables.

Are my word paintings accuate?

I don’t know.

Maybe it is not for me to say.

They might be nonsense.

I am not planning on writing anything profound.

I am really not planning on writing anything.

I am not planning on anyone reading what I write.

Just a goofy creative outlet.

Maybe some form of personal therapy.

On the other hand.

They might be stranger and more dubitable than daylight had allowed us to think.

The haiku for today is adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

I began word-painting.

Descriptive passages came most readily: the offices were tall; the top of one tower was like a pyramid; it had ruby-red lights on its side; the sky was not black but an orangey-yellow.

But because such a factual description seemed of little help to me in pinning down why I found the scene so impressive, I attempted to analyse its beauty in more psychological terms.

The power of the scene appeared to be located in the effect of the night and of the fog on the towers.

Night drew attention to facets of the offices that were submerged in the day.

Lit by the sun, the offices could seem normal, repelling questions as effectively as their windows repelled glances.

But night upset this claim to normality, it allowed one to see inside and wonder at how strange, frightening and admirable they were.

The offices embodied order and cooperation among thousands, and at the same time regimentation and tedium.

A bureaucratic vision of seriousness was undermined, or at least questioned, by the night.

One wondered in the darkness what the flipcharts and office terminals were for: not that they were redundant, just that they might be stranger and more dubitable than daylight had allowed us to think.

The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

As I said about most of his work, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.22.2021 – memory depends

memory depends
have we intentionally
apprehended it

My cousin Joy has been on my mind since I stole a photograph of hers to use in yesterday’s haiku,

In the discussion about that haiku I commented on the camera versus memory when seeing things today.

I quoted from the author, Alain de Botton that using a camera blurs the distinction between looking and noticing, between seeing and possessing.

Mr. de Botton makes the point that the camera gives us the option of true knowledge, but it may also unwittingly make the effort of acquiring that knowledge seem superfluous

That is a great discussion for the here and now.

Having a camera with you in the here and now.

But what about the then?

The back then.

Here is a snapshot of sometime in 1962.

It is me and my cousin, Joy, sitting together on our Grandfathers lap.

My sister’s Lisa and Janet stand an either side.

I have NO memory of this photograph being taken.

I have NO Memory of seeing this photograph in the many many nights watching family slides.

Recently a nephew of mine digitized the family slides allowing us to travel back in time.

Otherwise I would have NO memory of this at all.

But I remember, with the help of the photograph, everything in the photograph.

My cousin and I we are the same age.

Our Mom’s were sisters.

I was my Mom’s 8th kid.

Joy was her Mom’s, my Aunt Mernie, 1st.

They were visiting from New Jersey.

This must have been a Sunday Dinner at my Grandma Hendrickson’s house.

Someone, my Dad most likely, arranged us altogether and said SMILE.

My character, even at age 2, seems to be pretty much set.

I can look at this picture and tell you what it smells like.

My Grandma’s house at that kinda moth-ball/natural gas smell due to the gas stove with no pilot light so you turned on the gas and lit the burner with a match.

As it was Sunday dinner it also smelled of my Grandma’s famous Pork and Beef roasts together in the same pan.

We were a meat and potatoes family to be sure.

But to be more accurate we were a mashed potatoes and GRAVY family.

Our parents would fill our plates and then cover everything on our plates with this pork-beef gravy that was what gravy was all about.

My Grandfather, that solid dutch guy (notice all the BLUE EYES??) in the picture, could eat mashed potatoes and gravy like it was an Olympic event.

Want to know the real kicker to this photograph?

Today, my cousin Joy and I are about the same age our Grandpa was when this photograph was taken.

I love this photograph and the memories it brings to mind ALONG with the memories it creates.

I have no memory of this day.

Looking I the photograph I remember everything.

Using the photograph, reseeing the scene, I can repossess the memory and the knowledge of the day.

It’s an effort.

Through the snapshot, I intentionally re-apprehend to my memory.

It is anything BUT superfluous.

*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

True possession of a scene is a matter of making a conscious effort to notice elements and understand their construction.

We can see beauty well enough just by opening our eyes, but how long this beauty will survive in memory depends on how intentionally we have apprehended it.

The camera blurs the distinction between looking and noticing, between seeing and possessing; it may give us the option of true knowledge, but it may also unwittingly make the effort of acquiring that knowledge seem superfluous.

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.21.2021 – We can see beauty

We can see beauty
well enough just by opening
our eyes, but how long

I stole this photo from my cousin Joy who lives up the Hudson River Valley.

I have to remind myself that there may be other places, maybe not nicer than where I live, but close.

I based this haiku and several others like from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage: True possession of a scene is a matter of making a conscious effort to notice elements and understand their construction.

We can see beauty well enough just by opening our eyes, but how long this beauty will survive in memory depends on how intentionally we have apprehended it.

Mr. de Botton goes on and says:

The camera blurs the distinction between looking and noticing, between seeing and possessing; it may give us the option of true knowledge, but it may also unwittingly make the effort of acquiring that knowledge seem superfluous.

When I go places and I think ‘I’ll take my camera’ I realize I am making a conscious decision to concentrate on using my camera instead of just looking.

Why look now when, if I take a picture, I can look later.

And a picture paints a 1000 words.

*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.17.2021 – found in rare places

found in rare places
beauty being fugitive
how to possess it

I feel lucky.

Know what I mean?

I feel lucky.

I have lived in three places in my life.

For the first 50 years of my life I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On the North End of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I used to say I lived 1 mile from the house where I was born.

Well I wasn’t born there but where I lived, after coming home from Butterworth Hospital.

Come to think of it, Butterworth Hospital probably wasn’t much more than a mile away either.

Growing up in Grand Rapids and going to an elementary school where 90% of the kids came from Grand Rapids, I remember one of my teachers going around the room and asking each kid which hospital they were born at.

There were three possbilitlies.

Butterworth was the most mentioned and the coolest as it made you think that was where the pancake syrup came from.

Then Blodgett.

But Blodgett was such an odd sounding name that we all decided that had you been born at BLODDDDD-ghet you yourself were kind of odd.

And then there were the few Catholic kids who were born at St. Mary’s.

There were so few Catholic kids at my school as most Catholic kids in the neighborhood went to Blessed Sacrament.

BUT they didn’t go to Blessed Sacrament until 2nd grade.

So these kids were part of our class for two years and then mysteriously disappeared from school.

They disappeared from school but not from the neighborhood.

We would still see these kids in the park and such.

And the word would spread, ‘They go to Blessed Sacrament.’

As my only other exposure to Catholic churches and schools at that time was St. Mary’s Hospital, I figured ‘going to Blessed Sacrament’ meant they got sick.

It was weird too because in the morning after school started we could look out the windows at the Blessed Sacrament bus as it stopped at the corner and we would see these kids line up and get on the bus and go off to therapy I guessed.

That bus stop was at a corner right next to our school, Crestview Elementary.

The Blessed Sacrament bus in the morning came by that corner, as I mentioned, after school had started.

The Blessed Sacrament bus in the afternoon came by about 10 minutes after our school got it.

Over the years it had become part of social schedule of Crestview Elementary to gather at the corner and when the Blessed Sacrament Bus stopped at the corner, exchange greetings with those kids on the bus.

Language used in these greetings was most unusal.

It would have been okay had you been deaf as both groups of students also used sign language to express themselves.

That it was the B.S. bus was just a gift of the Gods.

In the short story, I Went to Sullivant, James Thurber writes, “Now and again virtually the whole school turned out to fight the Catholic boys of the Holy Cross Academy in Fifth Street near Town, for no reason at all–in winter with snowballs and ice balls, in other seasons with fists, brickbats, and clubs.

I knew just what that was like.

This exchange lasted as long as the bus was at the corner and then satisfied that honor had been upheld, everyone went home.

When I got to sixth grade and was a member of the school safety squad, that was my corner.

Most of the time, being so close to the school, the kids who had to cross came and went quickly and I could take off.

But every once in awhile I stuck around … just to observe don’t you know.

That year, the Crestview Greeters must have got louder or more persistent or something because neighbors complained to school.

I never figured out how it came about but the Principal, Mr. Domagolski, arranged with Blessed Sacrament to have his wife ride along on the B.S. Bus.

Mrs. Domagolski road the bus and reported two things to Mr. Domagolski.

The first thing she said was she had NEVER heard such language.

Mrs. D needed to hang out on our playground a little more often.

The 2nd thing she said was, “AND THAT SAFETY JUST STOOD THERE AND DIDN’T DO A THING.”

I know this because both Mr. Vanderwheel, the teacher/coordinator of the school safety squad and I got called in the Principals office together.

When you think about it, this was again irony on the greek tragic play level.

It was in Mr. Vanderwheel’s class that I was awarded around 364 demerits.

And now both of us were in the Principal’s office.

Mr. D repeated the line, “the safety didn’t do anything” and glared at me.

I can’t remember what I said or if I melted into the floor.

This was big time crime.

And I was in for it.

I think I did ask what could I have done?

And what was I supposed to do?

I was about 5 feet tall and weighed about 47 pounds.

Any 4th grader could have beat me up and most of the mean 4th graders already had.

Really?

I was supposed to stop this crowd and make them shut up?

And besides that, how was this NEW to anybody?

It had been going on for as long as I could remember.

Mr. D stared at me then looked at Mr. Vanderwheel and back at me and said slowly, one word at a time, “YOU ARE OFF THE SAFETY SQUAD.”

In my mind I remember that he walked over and unhooked my orange cross belt and let fall to floor but that may not have happened but it felt like it.

You remember the TV show, BRANDED, where the show’s opening depicts Chuck Conners getting drummed out of the Army and and his sword taken away and broken over someone’s knee?

That’s what it felt like.

And we left.

Mr. Vanderwheel kinda sorta said he was sorry but there was nothing he could do.

But he did do something.

He let me stay on the squad a substitute.

Which was kind of funny as a safety had a corner every other week.

As a sub, I was getting calls almost everyday.

I never ever got that corner by school again.

I am pretty sure that once or twice Mr. D say me on a corner with my belt.

It seems to me like I waved.

But it was never mentioned again.

ANYWAY, as I was saying, I lived a mile from the house where I was born and a mile from the cemetery where I would be buried.

That was Fair Plains Cemetery, a City Of Grand Rapids Public Cemetery where my Father and Grand Father was buried.

My Dad said so many people from the North End in general and our Church, Berean Baptist, in particular, were buried at Fairplains that Resurrection Day was going to be like a Sunday School picnic.

From where we lived at the time, a small triangle connected my house, my mom’s house and the cemetery and that was my world.

Once when I was working at WZZM13 in Grand Rapids, there was a general conversation in the newsroom about travel and traveling.

General Conversation in the newsroom was one of the best things about working at WZZM13.

Here was this great big room, crammed (pre-covid) with desks, TV’s on everywhere, radios and cop scanners blaring and everyone would be engaged in a general free for all conversation on anything but the news.

Never knew what we would be talking about and what might be said, but everyone contributed.

I remember once to make a point, I raised my voice in song and sang the ‘WHERE OH WHERE ARE YOU TONIGHT’ song from HEE HAW.

I got to the second WHERE and the entire newsroom or at least all those who knew the song, joined in.

The best part was the look on the face of the people who didn’t know what was coming and when we all hit the “THHHHHHPTTTT You Were Gone” people screamed.

So into this conservation on travel, I interjected my “I live a mile from where I was born and I mile from where I am going to be buried” and Jenn, the noon show anchor, tears up and says, “That is so depresssssssssssssssssssssssssssssing.”

Little did I know or ever imagine that my job would take me to Atlanta, Georgia and then to the South Carolina coast.

I now live almost 1000 miles from where I thought I might be buried.

The plan today is ashes in the ocean but that’s another story.

I am living in a place I had never heard of before.

I am living on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean that I had only even seen twice in my life.

And I am lucky.

I have met a few local people down here.

And by local I mean people who grew up here.

It isn’t easy.

30 years the population of Bluffton, SC, was 738.

Today it is over 30,000.

Less than 1 out of 30 folks down here are locals, long time locals.

And you know what?

They don’t go to the beach.

Nothing new to see there for the long time locals.

For me?

Everything is new.

I love it.

This is a rare place.

The beauty in places like this are fugitive.

I wonder how I can possess it?

I wonder can I possess it?

And I quit wondering and just enjoy.

I am lucky.

Lucky to see this new, to see this new at my age.

And just enjoy it.

Lucky.

Moonrise over Folly Field Beach – Novemebr 2021

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold on to it, to possess it and give it weight in one’s life. There is an urge to say, ‘I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.’

But beauty is fugitive, being frequently found in places to which we may never return or else resulting from rare conjunctions of season, light and weather.

How then to possess it, how to hold on to the floating train, the halvalike bricks or the English valley?

The camera provides one option. Taking photographs can assuage the itch for possession sparked by the beauty of a place; our anxiety over losing a precious scene can decline with every click of the shutter.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here