Cruz de Ferro

Appearing out of the mist, like a wraith, an iron cross sits atop a monolith. Thrusting upwards through a mountain of stones, it points to the heavens, saying “come, lay your troubles at my feet.” And every stone or bauble or trinket, placed there by a weary traveler, holds a lifetime of burdens, willingly surrendered, offering a new beginning. Like the petals of a rose, one by one, my troubles wither and fall to the ground, there to be rendered unto dust by time and wind and rain.

New Day

The smells and sounds of morning overpower the other senses, telling stories of the coming day. The soft notes of a bell, around the neck of a grazing animal, proclaim to the rest of the herd “here I am, don’t stray too far.” Dogs wander the empty streets, hoping to find a morsel, a crumb, guided by nose and instinct, while stray cats proudly strut, as though to say, “this is my town, you’ll play by my rules.”

A Walk Through Time

Every town has a church, and every church has a bell.

In the small towns and villages, as night falls, the people come alive. Couples stroll along the narrow streets, sometimes hand in hand; The occasional man or woman hurries along, as though fearing to be late for who knows what; children of all ages scurry about, shouting and laughing, sometimes crying. The church bells call out cadence to all that happens and all that does not.

On Age: A Personal Struggle With Time

Lately, I’ve been experiencing the accelerated creep of old age. I’ve spent enough time getting older to realize that as we age, we slow down a bit, we ache a little more, we’re even less coordinated than usual. But all that seemed to come on gradually, enough so that it was almost undetectable on a day to day basis.

I can’t think of a specific time when the slow march of age put the pedal to the metal. Maybe it was a couple of years ago, when I began to notice how easily I bruise, or how little advance notice my bladder gives me (not much, even less if I’m anywhere near running water.) My RF (ricochet factor) has doubled or tripled. I can’t seem to walk anywhere that I don’t bounce off the objects around me, making my bruisability even worse.

One of my friends has a cardboard cutout of herself at T-Mobile Stadium, home of our beloved Mariners. That way, she explains, she can attend every home game, if only in a symbolic way. That’s very cool, I thought. But given the choice, would I want my effigy seated closer to the beer window or the restroom? A few years ago, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Beer window would win every time. When did my priorities so suddenly change?

I’ve often heard the human life cycle compared to the changing of the seasons. So often that I would shudder when it was used. Calm down, it’s only a literary tool, I would tell myself. But the trueness of it hit home this morning when Les and I were looking out the kitchen window at the lush back yard that she works so hard to nurture. A couple of months ago, everything was in full bloom, kind of like me back when I was in my forties. As we watched the leaves and blossoms floating to the ground, I expected to look down and see my hair floating down around my feet. Of course it didn’t. I don’t have enough hair to even worry about that. And so far, my teeth seem to still be fairly well anchored. 

It a tree falls in the forest and I’m the only one there, would I hear it? Only if I said “huh?” and it fell again. I might even see it if I were wearing my distance glasses. I offset the fact that I need distance glasses to see far away by also needing close up glasses to read. There’s a focal point about six inches beyond arms-length where I can see well enough to read without glasses, but by then the print is usually too small.

I can’t even claim to be aging gracefully. Nothing graceful about getting out of a chair and hobbling around like a monkey until the stiffness is walked out. Or making a sudden lateral move to avoid a crack in the sidewalk without passing gas. Thankfully, at this point, it hasn’t progressed past the gas stage. For the most part.

Bowels, bladders and booboos are bad enough, but when you add slips, trips and drips to the equation, it’s quite obvious that over the hill is here and now. On the way down I’m going to pack in as much fun as possible. I’m also going to pack in plenty of Prep H, Ensure, Huggies and Bandaids.

And though it’s well known by those who know me that I love to go shopping, even that is becoming more of a chore. I find myself ordering more and more stuff online. I have a velour jumpsuit on the way from Amazon at this very moment. If I like it, I’ll order another one, or maybe two. Always good to have a variety, so I can match whatever pair of fuzzy slippers I happen to be wearing. Well, it’s eight pm and I’m getting sleepy. Alexa, turn off the light!

Hello God

Hello God
Thank you for the day
It looks to be so perfect
Blessed in every way

I feel you all around me
Mountains soaring high
I see your green cathedral
Reaching for the sky

I hear your song
Both soft and true
As whispers on the breeze
A gentle breath of life so sweet
It brings me to my knees

Hello God
Thank you once again
I may be back to talk to you
Every now and then


Christmas stories, and songs, and poems are tough. Either they’ve already been done, or they’re overly sentimental, or too long, or just sappy. I hope this one doesn’t check any of those boxes.

Best of seasons dearest ones
May joy and happiness
Hold you in their warm embrace
To feel their soft caress
May fortune follow in your steps
Let love show you the way
Be at peace with everyone
On this Christmas Day


The leaving of the land of my birth was an abrupt, overnight event. One day I was there, the next I was not. I spread my wings, in search of what every young man seeks. The return, many years later, was a slow, sporadic process, in fits and starts, as though a testing of the waters, a cautious breath on the embers of old friendships, forgotten connections, that for decades, lay hidden, buried in the ash of time, still there but dormant, waiting to be rekindled. With cupped hands, shielding and gently blowing, they sprang to life, brighter, hotter, more intense than they ever were. One came from nowhere, stood before me, as though to say “I burn for you.” And that heat warmed me, and caused me to burn as well, in a fiery dance that threatened to consume any who dared to touch. But all the embers were there, and the pull was undeniable, impossible to resist, and if you listened closely, with heart instead of ears, you could hear them say “Come, join us, be one of us, be us.” And like Icarus before the sun, or a moth orbiting a flame, I circled, in an ever-decreasing spiral, toward a center so fiercely hot that wings of wax had no choice but to melt. And I thought “Let me reach the center, before my wings are gone.”

My birth land was too low to be high country, too high to be low country. An in-between that held the best of both, the worst of both, that sat squarely between the metaphorical antithesis of Muir and Conroy. A contradiction that was intensely cold in winter, breathtakingly hot in summer, mountains so high, deserts so near, that a well thrown stone could connect the two. But it was my home, and that of people I love, and like a carrier pigeon, barring storm or hawk, it was there I was destined to return.

I don’t recall when it was that I joined the ranks of adulthood, nor am I fully convinced that I have yet done so. Hopefully, there’s time enough to achieve a goal so worthy, should I decide to grow up. But when I’m perched atop Grownup Mountain, will I be tempted to roll back down the slope and try to steal back some of the days of my youth? If I look down, will I see the boulders that are the milestones of a noteworthy life, or the chasms of failure that cut across my personal trail? Will the ascent have been worth it? I believe so, as much for the journey as the destination.

I would like to think that my years away added seasoning, spiced with compassion, understanding, and tolerance. I don’t think of them as lost years, but more as a training camp for the upcoming season, preparing me through trial and joy and heartache, for better days. I feel, with all my heart, that the days ahead will be better.

In the early years of my exodus, I found myself to be lost, in a manner of speaking. Looking back at that time, endless days of nothing, blending together into a vague, blurry mess, I’m amazed that I managed to emerge, for the most part, whole and only slightly damaged. The body that was supposed to be my temple, became a drafty tent, incapable of repelling the elements, self-abused to the point of non-existence. It would be easy to say that I was a victim, but if that were true, then it was of myself. And maybe, in an attempt to find our limits, to push them just short of the breaking point, we all experienced some of the same things, though many did not survive the process.

I was compelled to mention, if briefly, those days that are behind me. For though they shaped me more than any potter shapes vessels of clay, still, they are gone, and while subject to inspection, will not suffer correction. Today, my focus is forward, to the days ahead, days that when, in some future too far before me to know, and are gazed back upon, hopefully do not beg for correction by the simple fact that they do not need correcting. If I can live my life in such a manner, then past failures become nothing more than the building blocks of a better life.

That this place, these old friends, accept me, welcome and embrace me, sparks in me indescribable joy. I know that I have found the true wealth of this valley; it lies in the people, and after all the gold is gone, no more diamonds to be pulled from the ground, the true wealth will remain, inexplicably drawn to this geographical spot, tied by beauty, bound by love, willing prisoners in a utopian prison.

As I stand here today, struck speechless by the beauty of the confluence of two rivers, I see this place for what it was, and what it is, and I can’t help but wonder what it will come of it, and whether I will be a part of it, without need to shape or influence in any way, but only to observe it, and love it.

Now, this body is old and faded, peeling like worn out paint on a clapboard house. But if you wipe away the dust, and look through the windows of my eyes, into my heart, you will see everything that is me. And if you look closely, might glimpse the ending of what was me, and the beginning of what I am to become. While you may see my story, and from that, gather a clue as to a possible outcome, you will not see the final line, for in a story with no conclusion, it will never be written, and will always remain unfinished.