Hope and the Human Spirit: Postcard from Home

Knoxville’s downtown Market Square once held an imposing masonry building that served as a center for thriving commerce, including a beloved farmer’s market that purveyed meat, poultry, dairy, produce, and flowers trucked in from the city’s rural outskirts. A 14-year-old boy set it ablaze lighting a cigarette in the late 1950s, goes the story, gutting … Continue reading Hope and the Human Spirit: Postcard from Home

Tail of the Dog, in Which Warden Prepares to Play the Wrong Piano Concerto

In 1999 the Portuguese virtuosa Maria Joao Pires famously sat at the piano with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, conductor Riccardo Chailly  at the podium, awaiting the first bar of the piano concerto she expected to play for this lunchtime concert. Imagine her surprise when the orchestra began playing a different piece of music—the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor—instead … Continue reading Tail of the Dog, in Which Warden Prepares to Play the Wrong Piano Concerto

Sunday Photo Essay: New Skete Monastery, Spiritual Connections

There has been a German Shepherd-shaped hole in my heart since I lost my beloved Clarence-the-Canine to Degenerative Myelopathy in January of 2014; the intervening years have marked the longest dogless period in my adult life. Yesterday Handsome Chef Boyrfriend and I attended the annual pilgrimage at the New Skete monastery in nearby Cambridge, NY. The monks … Continue reading Sunday Photo Essay: New Skete Monastery, Spiritual Connections

Mike Birbiglia, Life’s Interruptions, et al.: A True Story

In a recent interview comedian-writer-actor-director Mike Birbiglia spoke of becoming a new dad on the heels of a work project, how he timed things in a way he thought he could stay in control, and then—like all brand new babies do—his infant daughter completely upended his best-laid plans while she successfully upstaged him. He’s a … Continue reading Mike Birbiglia, Life’s Interruptions, et al.: A True Story

A Reflection for Advent: There is only now. Right now.

I am terrible at watching hockey games and have difficulty focusing on important things like, say, hockey. Instead I see the diamond quilting in a bright red jacket in the bleachers  in front of me. And the little sign bearing a message which seems important, but I bet is often ignored. And other non-hockey details (yes, it … Continue reading A Reflection for Advent: There is only now. Right now.

Heavy Burdens

That's my son in the photo at age five, in his school uniform, a kindergartener, a blank canvas, full of curiosity, and loads of energy, trusting of the people around him. Something awful happened to him a few years later when he was a fourth-grader. The fallout from that incident was bigger than his dad … Continue reading Heavy Burdens