Taking out the trash and such

2 Moon 29 Autumn 61 Space Age

20 October 2017


I take the trash out this morning. The sweet autumn air is damp in my nose. It rained, very briefly, an hour or two ago, before I got up. Now the street is almost dry again, but I can still feel the breath of water, and the corners of the overhanding eaves of our house are still dripping, faintly, one drop, two drops, three.

I suppose it wasn’t really “rain” – certainly not a hard rain. No. It barely qualified as a “shower” – if that. It was only what one would call “drizzle” – which makes me think of London and all my recent daydreams about living there for a year, or at least for six months (the longest the UK would let me stay without actually getting a visa).

Or maybe it is better just to fly around in my computer, the ultimate 21st century armchair traveler, looking at all the streets and photos and videos, but staying safe and warm at home.

Whatever the case, London is quickly banished from my mind as I push our heavy trash bin out toward the street. It trundles before me, lumbering on its two little wheels, its big body tilted back onto a point of balance, making it almost easy for me to go clunking and bumping along the flat cement walkway leading from the side door – by our kitchen – turning diagonally through the small front garden, out toward the sudden steep slope descending three feet down to street level. As I push this modestly rumbling blue bin (full of rattling glass and metal and whispering paper), I am oddly reminded of Marie Antoinette travelling through the streets of Paris, headed towards her appointment with the guillotine. Tumbril. In her tumbril. It had big wheels, I think. My trash bin has little wheels. Vive la différence.

Perhaps I think of Paris because I am slowly reading Victor Hugo’s long novel, Les Misérables. Yes, perhaps that has something to do with it, even though it takes place one and two generations after the killing of Marie and her husband Louis. Yes, but “they all look alike” – to burglarize a bigoted clause.

As I write these words, my little phone buzzes with a news alert from A.J.E.  There have been more bombings in Afghanistan.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.


There was a man came from the sea with salted
love in his blood and salty words upon his tongue.

Master of the tiller and wheel, at home a captain
in the kitchen, and over the ocean commander
of hearts and minds.

He taught us all what it means to live under wind
and rain, storm and sun. He would cruise the waters
of the boundless main, then sit and charm us with
a few kind words of wit.

We are greater for having known him; but oh how
it hurts to bid him farewell.

So, it is, with life: we come and then we go.
A precious blossom blooms upon the mighty tree.

Inevitably, inexorably, after many a brilliant sunrise
and scarlet evening, summer turns toward autumn,
breaking our hearts, stripping our leaves and flowers.

All we have left is to be grateful for such a man, to have
loved him as brother, husband, cousin, uncle, friend.


October 2017


4 October 2017

We are now entering the sixty-first year of the Space Age.

The anniversary of Sputnik has come. It was sixty years ago that the first orbital satellite was launched by our species – or at least the first that is/was publicly known.

Prior to that date, rockets had been launched, but they had only gone up and come down again. This was the first time that a rocket was used to successfully put an artificial object in orbit. Not only did this object get put into orbit around the Earth, but it also carried a small radio transmitter, and very famously sent out a signal beep beep beep beep beep beep over and over again, as it flew around and around the planet where we live.

Sixty years later, an entire space station is orbiting the Earth, and is inhabited by human beings, who come and go by riding up in capsules located on rockets. Some of them live up there for months at a time.

We are now entering the sixty-first year of the Space Age.