A welcome to readers

As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:

Saturday, June 15, 2013


If only I could speak the Truth with the accuracy and pathos of an Irish poet.

As I pursued my vocations of teaching and writing, friends and relatives occasionally suggested that what I was doing for a living could not be considered really "working," as if the label "work"  could only be applied to activities involving intense physical efforts that literally produce callouses and sweat-soaked shirts. Even today, in the minds of some folks, the appellation "work" is associated only with physical labor.

My father sold life insurance and went to the "office" to do his job every day. However,  I grew up knowing that he worked, even if there were no half-moon sweat stains on the armpits of his shirts. As an adult I also have worked in a similar way,  expending  my efforts dealing with abstractions. I confess that it is sometimes difficult for me to see what I do as 'worthy' because my job is not concrete and has few results that are measurable at the end of the day.

Consequently, I was glad to read in the blog of Silas House (http://silashouseblog.blogspot.com), a fellow Kentuckian, teacher, and writer, Seamus Heaney's poem that gave me an insight into (and modicum of solace about) how to view my chosen work even as I observe others laboring in more traditional ways. I almost envy Heaney's father who digs a row from 'here to there,' creating piles of potatoes and sod.

Seamus Heaney  (1939-)


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

- from Death of a Naturalist (1966)

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