I’ll have to admit that one of my biggest regrets of my latest bout with cancer is that I was unable to go to Denver to spend time with Logan Riley and my new granddaughter Zoe Ann:

I’d originally planned on spending a week or two taking caring of Riley while mom and daughter recuperated, but I’ll just have to hope that delaying my introduction to Zoe will mean in the long run that I will have more time to spend spoiling her.

Even in a dark time
a beautiful girl child
was born unto Them.

Trying to Make Today Count

One of the good things about being a cancer survivor is that you’re more apt to appreciate each and every day than those who imagine they’re going to live forever. Hopefully that doesn’t mean living in fear, or self-indulgence, but, rather, living with the realization that each and every day is precious.

For me, at least, it has meant doing what needs to be done now and narrowing down the many things I’ve always wanted to do to the things I really can do. As a natural dabbler, someone more interested in learning how to do things than in actually doing them, I’ve long collected books and tools with the thought that I’d like to read them someday or I’d like to learn how to do that someday.

Though I’ve thrown out several books on electronics and other areas I would have loved to read and digest, I’ve actually managed to carve several projects that I’ve put off for years, finally applying some of the many art classes I’ve taken since high school, and finding the process truly rewarding.

When I started my webpage three years ago I had books that had been sitting waiting to be read for over 30 years. And while I’ll admit that there are still a few of them left, I have now read nearly all the books I own. Now when I find a book I’m interested in, I put it on my Amazon wish list and buy it right before I want to read it. Strangely enough, I’ve found it much more rewarding to actually read the books I have than to put them off until later.

Perhaps most fulfilling of all, I’ve actually finished, though I use that term loosely, some of the poetry I’ve had laying around in various journals and notebooks for years. After years of teaching writing to others, writing every day has made it easier for me to write every day and, hopefully, even made my writing more enjoyable to those who read it.

Carving away
what is not —
reveals what truly is.

This Card’s for You

I’m not sure what started me making my own Christmas cards. Perhaps it was an attempt to personalize the cards or perhaps merely an attempt to stretch my teacher’s salary, but I do know I started making my own Christmas cards in 1974 with this card:

Having taken photography and calligraphy classes, it wasn’t too hard to make these cards. I was pretty proud of them, but years later I learned most people didn’t realize that I’d made the cards rather than buying them.

I continued to make photo greeting cards for several years but without a wife to insist we needed to send cards to people I didn’t really know, I didn’t send out cards for quite a while. Recently, though, after seeing a number of homemade cards in a craft store, I decided I wanted to try to start making my own cards again.

I’ve been doing so for several years now, as demonstrated by this card:

Though the photo can’t capture the three-dimensionality and texture that I love most about these cards, it does reflect the kinds of cards I’ve been making recently. In a sense, even these cards are mass-produced because I used three store-bought stamps on just the front of this card. Still, there’s enough originality involved that I consider them mine.’

Luckily, I don’t send out nearly as many cards as I used to because each card is an original, and it usually takes several hours to make one I can live with. I often use them to enclose money orders when I just can’t seem to come up with the right present for someone.

Sorry for the money.
I meant to give
a part of myself.

These Cunning Fetters

I’ve often felt in the past that that I would be a better person if I could free myself from my desires. After all, most great religions I’ve studied seem to imply that one of the first steps in attaining enlightenment is to free oneself from desire, particularly sexual desire.

As I’ve aged, in fact, I’ve comforted myself with the idea that as my sex appeal declined my desires also declined. Ideally, it seemed to me that the two would meet at the very point where pure enlightenment compensated for the fact that no woman in her right mind would even consider sleeping with me.

Recently, though, my doctor has begun to prescribe medicines that have completely killed what little sexual desire I had left, drugs meant to block male testosterone, as well as female hormones meant to further suppress a recently discovered cancer.

Unfortunately, enlightenment has not followed as swiftly as I had hoped. In fact, all I’ve been feeling lately is a strange sense of loss and self-alienation. Perhaps these are merely the first signs of enlightenment. If so, enlightenment may not be all I’ve wished it to be.

Such cunning fetters
freed from these desires
I long for their return.