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With my wife Fay on Loch Lomand

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My wife came home early from work last Friday. 'Can we go for fish and chips and do the beach thing?' Sure!

We have a great chippy. We headed to West Kilbride and sat on the picnic tables enjoy our meal and watching the gentle sun cast its presence over the sea. 

In a short time, we found ourselves on a migratory path. At least a thousand geese passed overhead on their path from Canada to Scotland. I took a moment to bow to this great metaphysical act of creation.



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With my wife Fay on Loch Lomand

In the middle of life, death comes to take your measurements.

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 8 Sep 2022, 11:17

In the middle of life, death comes to take your measurements.

The visit is forgotten, and life goes on.

But the suit is being sewn on the sly.

Thomas Transtromer, The Deleted World



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With my wife Fay on Loch Lomand

"I felt once more how simple a frugal thing is happiness"

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Saturday, 20 Aug 2022, 16:01

Last night was beautiful. We took a drive to Loch Lomond, bought fish and chips, and sat watching the lazy sun dipping over the mountains and felt nature embracing us; lifting our spirits.



"I felt once more how simple a frugal thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wrenched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else." - Nikos Kazantzakis


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One holds the knife as one holds the bow of a cello...

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One of the most gifted science writers is Richard Selzer. In an into to one of his essays he writes:

"One holds the knife as one holds the bow of a cello or a tulip-by the stem." I have never been able to reason why this line draws me in, but it does.

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‘No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.’

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Friday, 29 Jul 2022, 10:32

It's full on with the dissertation. 15,000 words: 5 creative nonfiction essays and the blank page stared at me , intimidating me. I ask, why am I doing this? Well, no pain, no gain.

See the source image


‘No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader. 

No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.’ 


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“Earth's crammed with heaven... But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 28 Jul 2022, 07:58

Why are we drawn to a sunset, a whale's aria, traveling stars in an evening sky, a sea urchin spinning like a whirling dervish? Why does beauty seem so incomprehensible? Unless... 



“Earth's crammed with heaven...

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Aurora Leigh:


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People reluctantly on their way into the shadows.

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 21 Jul 2022, 11:58

I was In Kitzbuhel in Austria the summer prior to COVID. One thing that impressed me was the way the locals would dress up in their Sunday best to visit the local cemetery. I found their deep respect for the dead creditable.

Reading Henning Mankell's essays, Quicksand, he discuses the custom of incorporating dead children in family commissioned portraits. A closer look at the portrait below reveals the dead children of the family neither here nor there, but in the shadows as if glimpsing from the nether world. I wonder what you think of this custom?


Gustaf Fredrik Hjortberg with his wife, Anna and family.

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Culture, and the shape of language.

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Sunday, 17 Jul 2022, 20:19



There is a kind of peacefulness even in the names of English course fish. Roach, rudd, dace, bleak, barbel, bream, gudeon, poke, carp, chub, tench. They’re solid kind of names. The people who named them hadn’t heard of machine guns, they didn’t live in terror of the sack or spend their time eating aspirin, going to the pictures and wondering how to keep out of concentration camps.

                                                                                           ---- George Orwell: Coming Up For Air


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Why do we look at our thoughts ; we never like them at times?

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 14 Jul 2022, 19:27



“There must be a German word for this feeling, when the elaborate contortions of your own thinking rose to the surface and became suddenly and unpleasantly visible. Like walking past a mirror in a crowded mall and thinking: Who is that dude with the terrible posture, and why is he cringing like he expects someone to punch him, I'd like to punch him—oh wait, that's me.”
― Kristen Roupenian, You Know You Want This

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"The visitor thought: you live well."

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I watched a video online of a religious group that are constantly soliciting funds whilst one of the leaders was videoed spending $800 on choice whiskey. I was reminded of the line from Tomas Transtromer's poem, "The Scattered Congregation" where one stanza reads,

We got ready and showed our home

The visitor thought: you live well.

The slum must be inside you.

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‘Does your childhood seem far off? Do the days when you sat on your mother’s knee seem days of Long ago?’

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There is this scene in A Tale of Two Cities where the subject of nostalgia is discussed:

     ‘Does your childhood seem far off? Do the days when you sat on your mother’s knee seem days of Long ago?’ 

     ‘Twenty years back, yes; at this time of my life, no. For as I draw closer and closer to the end, I travel in a circle, nearer and nearer to the beginning. It seems to be of the kind smoothing of the way.’ Mr Lorry replies.

     Much as I respect Dickens’ insight into human nature, I’m not sure I’m with Dickens on this ‘smoothing of the way.’  Truth be told, nostalgia is spurned by all generations. We have ABBA revivals. In China they have 80’s cafes where Generation Y can moonwalk the decade away to Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean. It’s even been reported that Generation Z are affected by early-onset nostalgia


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‘My life was rough and windy and tangled. Growing up in the wind leaves you strong, sloped and adept at seeking shelter.'

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Amy Liptrot wrote in her memoir, The Outrun, the following: 

          ‘My life was rough and windy and tangled. Growing up in the wind leaves you strong, sloped and adept at seeking shelter' (Liptrot, 2018). 


Image: Pavol Svanter

Her strong sense of place, the lyrical fluidity and adaptation of place provides an apt description of her character is noted. Where we are raised has considerable influence who we become.


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“Sadly, we live in a world where if you do good things, there are no financial rewards. If you poison the earth, there is a fortune to be made.”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Monday, 4 Jul 2022, 10:13

My wife and I were walking the Arran Coastal Walk yesterday (Lamlash-Brodick). Suddenly, we were welcomed by a pod of smiling, grinning, happy, waving dolphins. 



The region was a "No-Take Zone."  A zone the does not permit fishing or swimming or water sports I assume. It was refreshing to see that some local authorities are taking decisive action to avoid putting commercialism before conservation.

Unfortunately, we never got our mobiles out to catch the pod.


“Sadly, we live in a world where if you do good things, there are no financial rewards. If you poison the earth, there is a fortune to be made.”
                                                 ― June Stoyer  
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“The Swedish he knew was mostly from Bergman films."

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“The Swedish he knew was mostly from Bergman films. He had learned it as a college student, matching the subtitles to the sounds. In Swedish, he could only converse on the darkest of subjects.”
― Ann Patchett, Bel Canto




My daughter's Swedish pen-pall invited herself over for a holiday in the eighties. The following year. her family reciprocated the hospitality and my son and I spent the year learning Swedish from Linguaphile cassettes and watching a Bergman film (The Best Intentions: Den goda viljan) and a Swedish copy of Dances With Wolves (Danser Med Vargar). Like Ann Pratchett's experience, I had pulled out Swedish phrases that were dark, or downright strange and to the amusement of the encountered Swedes.

I miss Sweden now.


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“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”

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Ah! Robert Louis Stevenson, a man after my own heart. I go everywhere with my notebook and my current reading material. Chance favours the prepared mind. A random thought emerges. The thought is pursued and drafted into the notebook. Less I forget.


“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”

― Robert Louis Stevenson, Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson

And current reading, if you're enquiring. The Penguin Book of Prose Poems

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The caterpillar feet were gone, the wings unfolded...'

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' The caterpillar  feet were gone, 

the wings unfolded.

One should never loose hope'

                                                          - Tomas Transtromer , Memories Look At Me.




Change can bring with it, new horizons. Trauma can make one re-access life and like an Atlantic storm, it can wash you up on a new beach; a new beginning.

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'One holds the knife as one holds the bow of a cello or a tulip — by the stem.'

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Saturday, 18 Jun 2022, 11:01

I've two quotes on my office wall: one the reminds me of what it means to be human, and the other, the first paragraph from Richard Selzer’s essay, The Knife. It’s the best piece of writing I have read. I always read the essay's first sentence before starting a new project. It reads, ‘One holds the knife as one holds the bow of a cello or a tulip — by the stem.’ I’m not sure why this is such an invitation to read on, but it is — always.


 If I can get the first sentence right, the writing flows.

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The sharpness of the pen.

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 16 Jun 2022, 19:18

I was reading Richard Selzer's essay, The Knife whilst waiting on an X-ray yesterday. He had just performed an operation. Here is how he concludes the essay in a masterful manner. 



At last, a little thread is passed into the wound and tied. The monstrous booming fury is stilled by a tiny thread. The tempest is silenced. The operation id over. On the table, the knife lies spent on its side. The bloody meal smear-dried upon its flanks. The knife rests.




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“We meet so many people in life, but we connect to the heart of very few!”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 16 Jun 2022, 17:58

“We meet so many people in life, but we connect to the heart of very few!”

― Avijeet Das



Walking in Scotland’s fine places, one realises you don’t have to travel the world; the world comes to you. But many fine opportunities are missed by not having the courage to commune with our fellow man.

Corvid had restricted this for the past few years, but four nights of camping in Aviemore recently confirmed that things are going back to normal-if there ever will be normal.

Some of the joys were those I met on my trip. The Native American Indian and his wife. The couple from Canada. The Scottish couple we met at An Lochan Uaine (The Green Loch) in Aviemore.

In all cases we conversed for some time. People I will never forget, But, in the hustle and bustle of life, it is difficult to keep in touch; to give one’s heart to all we would like to

I agree with Mary Wollstonecraft, who made many trips two centuries previously, a soulmate, like me, who found separation of newfound friends as a most melancholy, death-like experience.

 


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‘Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.’

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Tuesday, 14 Jun 2022, 09:07


Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.’― Frank Turek 

Hello World. Did I miss the meeting?  The London bus, I mean. The one that read ‘There is probably no God. So stop worrying. Enjoy your life.’ Oh dear! The telling word is ‘probably’. It doesn’t inspire conviction, does it? The adverb sticks out like a scaled down version of Pascal’s Wager. Like ‘There’s probably no God, but if there is, he might just let me off the hook for my lack of complete denial and reverence.

And then there’s the ‘enjoy yourself’ part. It is so refreshing to see that the atheists are the only ones on the planet that are enjoying themselves. I guess the drug addicts, alcoholics and escapists must be believers. How strange, I never noticed. Someone must inform our secular neighbours who are swiping down the antidepressants at record levels that it isn’t allowed. They shouldn’t be enjoying themselves that much.


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How To Hide From Humans

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Tuesday, 17 May 2022, 17:38

I was singing a song this morning as my wife was getting ready for work. She is from the Philippines. She asked, 'where did you get that song?' 

'It's an old Glasgow street song,' I replied. 

Perhaps you sung it as a child? I would  be interested to know if some of our students from abroad sung it. When I did a bit of research on it, it seems it originated from Tonga in the 13th century. I guess Glasgow being a maritime city, it travelled with sailors from the area. We will never find out who the mystery wordsmith was who taught us how to hide from humans, and brought joy to countless millions of kids. Here is the melody at the end, if you wish to karaoke with it.


Nobody loves me, everybody hates me

I think I’ll go eat worms.

Big fat juicy ones

Emsie weensy squeensy ones

See how they wiggle and squirm

 

Down goes the first one, down goes the second one

Oh, how they wiggle and squirm!

Up comes the first one, up comes the second one

Oh, how they wiggle and squirm!

 

I bite off the heads, and suck out the juice

And throw the skins away

Nobody knows how fat I grow

On worms three times a day.


https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Nobody+loves+me%2c+everybody+hates+me++I+think+I%e2%80%99ll+go+eat+worms.++Big+fat+juicy+ones++Emsie+weensy+squeensy+ones++See+how+they+wiggle+and+squirm&docid=608011328972718364&mid=A85359A2D62B7D68963DA85359A2D62B7D68963D&view=detail&FORM=VIRE 



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klexos: reviving old memories

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Monday, 16 May 2022, 09:19

We don't always have a word to describe deep and specific emotions in the English language. Therefore, we invent them. In his his book, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, John Koenig discusses the word klexos, a neologism coined by himself to describe the idea of resurrecting old memories and re-evaluating them in the light of the shape-shifting effects of time and personal revelations. Perhaps in the same way an artist returns to a painting, gets his pallet out and adds touches as he looks at the painting in a new light or with gained skill.




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Scrooge: I think we get the picture

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No one could fault Dickens for his characterisations. So good, we feel we have met them:


“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.” Dickens on Scrooge.

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Polysyndeton: A New One on Me

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Sunday, 24 Apr 2022, 20:50

I know what polysyndeton is when I see it, but never knew the name for it. Reedsy defines it this way:

'Instead of using a single conjunction in a lengthy statements, polysyndeton uses several in succession for a dramatic effect. This one is definitely for authors looking to add a bit of artistic flair to their writing, or who are hoping to portray a particular sort of voice.'

I'm none the wiser. Best to see two example. First, a simple one

'For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' Romans 8

Now, a more complex one:

'Luster came away from the flower tree and we went along the fence and they stopped and we stopped and I looked through the fence while Luster was hunting in the grass.' — The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Simples!






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"If you walk north past two telephone poles you’ll find me in the dustbin."

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 21 Apr 2022, 21:01

Want to be a good writer? Write a hook like this:

“I’m in Suzhou, Zhou Lingtong said, angling his head so he could wipe away his tears and see the road sign clearly. I’m in Changrui Lane, Suzhou. If you walk north past two telephone poles you’ll find me in the dustbin." "Two Lives", in Pathlight: New Chinese Writing (Summer 2013)”― A Yi


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