Bag Man–the things I carry

We heard animals last night, yipping and howling in the woods across the road from the orchard. It was not a sound we are acquainted with. “Coyotes?” Tizi said.  “They sound like dogs,” I said. Coyotes, David confirmed the next morning.  They’re out there. The next day, driving over to the Sportsman’s Cafe for breakfast,…More

Hold It Right There–how we feel and why

Aristotle, 14; Charles Darwin, 5.  It sounds like the final score in the big-names-in history wrestling contest. Aristotle destroys Darwin. It’s actually the number of human emotions these thinkers could think of. Both list fear and anger. Aristotle distinguishes between shame and shamelessness; Darwin doesn’t bother with either of those. Darwin includes love; Aristotle, friendship.…More

Ride It–desert miles and wild horses

“That’s two,” Tizi says. “You’re counting?” Whatever she murmurs in response I can’t hear. Because even with my hearing aid cranked to HIGH, I can’t hear murmur in the car. And besides, this I don’t really want to hear. It’s a little tense at the moment. We could be counting wild horses. When we drive…More

Facsimiles–the West, a breakfast, some shade

I couldn’t be this lucky, I think to myself. What are the odds of finding a rattlesnake skin that’s been sluffed off, left behind in one piece, and in pretty good condition? But there it is, of all places on the driveway of the Fairfield Inn, in Laramie, Wyoming. I figure, Well yeah, I’m out…More

iThink–towns, cows, silence

“Don’t forget the cows,” Tizi says. How could I? If I think Iowa, I’ll think corn; in Nebraska, it will be cows. Since we crossed the state line they’ve appeared on hillsides, in fields, standing, sitting, lying. A few lucky ones, wading. It’s hot. There’s a hurricane in in the Pacific—Hilary, weather people are calling…More

Barns End–a roof, a wedding, Georgia O’Keefe

I’ve got barns on my mind. I’m driving across Illinois on 88 West. This is corn country. On this bright sunny afternoon, there’s a lot of amber waving going on. The fields run from the edge of the road to the horizon. Amidst clusters of trees far into the countryside, barns. Farms with enough shade…More

Milk, Please–by the glass, the litre, and the gallon

No one, as far as I can tell, drinks milk in Italy.  Whenever I find myself standing in line at the supermarket, holding a liter of milk–latte parzialmente scremato, which I take to be fresh 2 percent–I’m the only one. I’ve never seen anyone buy milk. There’s a tiny little milk section over there in…More

Ferlinghetti in Grottamare

Yesterday was a terrific day. Once again Tizi and I were brought to a beautiful place by her cousin Arnoldo and his amazing wife Marisa. It was a visit to Grottamare and, close by, to Massignano, where, with their garden club, a group of generous and friendly souls, we toured a citrus grove, a horticultural…More

It Ain’t Me–living with the dead

Three men stand in front of a billboard in Santarcangelo di Rimini. On the board are “manifesti,” broadsheets announcing the recent leave-taking of people or the anniversaries of their deaths, often with an indication of a mass that will be said for them. For each person there’s a color photo, how they wanted to be…More

Mastery of Mystery–ashes, old friends, and the faith

We arrive in San Marino on Ash Wednesday afternoon. To get here we’ve traveled all night and through most of this day. We unload bags, turn on the water, and raise the heat in the apartment. Tizi makes a bed. We pull sheets off a couple chairs so we have a seat in the morning.…More