A Spider to Our Rescue?


Did you know that spiders have a heart? And is the Joro on a mission?


Female Joro Spider

This species immigrated to the United States around 2013, and its “immense” size threw into a panic many people in Georgia where it first appeared. More importantly, perhaps, it has inspired spiritual and philosophical as well as scientific interest in the meaning of its sudden arrival. As I began to research this species, the Trichonephila clavata, details kept coming up that gave me pause: “Time for us all to think,” seemed the message.

First of all, though, I will clarify that the Joro spider did not come here on purpose. It is indigenous to Asia–Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. The first was sighted in the little town of Hoschton, northeast of Atlanta and south of Interstate Highway 85. There are many warehouses along the road, and it is assumed that the Joro spider escaped from some kind of shipping container.


Image by Henry Comstock

The ”immense” size of the female with leg spans of 3-4 inches and her brilliant red, yellow, and blue abdomen markings immediately caught attention and raised concern. Fortunately, they are not poisonous and have a tiny bite.

With regard to that opening question about the heart, they do have one that beats at a very rapid rate, enabling the Joro to survive a brief freeze that would kill other species of spiders. They’ve already moved into Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina and are expected to move up the East Coast and on into Canada.

This is not because they are seeking more shipping containers. Their unusual way of traveling long distances is called “ballooning.” They construct a very unusual web–multidimensional, in fact. It has a central orb and two layers both front and back. A breeze can pick up the web, forming a balloon that transports the spider to new territory.

It is most likely that the Joro came here from Japan, and its name derived from this mythical being called Jorogumo. It can shapeshift from giant spider to a human woman to half woman/half spider. In her beautiful human role, she can trap and eat young men.

Male and Female Joros

In the photo at left, you can see why the tiny little brown male Joro may have inspired stories about a dangerous female.

Its very unusual web also attracts attention because it can be a nuisance. One entomologist found webs ten feet deep stretching across his porch. However, unlike any other spider, Joros are known to eat stink bugs that can wipe out entire crops of things like peppers, tomatoes, and corn.

They may ultimately be seen as making a valuable contribution to insect diversity in the United States, and the loss of species diversity worldwide is becoming a matter of acute interest. The attention the Joro spider’s web has attracted obviously evokes the term the Web of Life and the way all species are connected. Perhaps the Joro spider has a purpose after all.


It could be said that the Joro spider’s arrival in the United States as a new insect instantly endowed it with special status. After all, we are a nation that has played a major role in the unprecedented rate of extinction among all species. This is due to our destruction of habitat, over-hunting, over-fishing, polluting, and our role in global warming.

Of course extinction is a natural phenomenon. In her 2018 “Update on the World’s Diminishing Resources,” physicist Gioietta Kuo wrote that there has been a “background” extinction rate of about one to five species per year. Now it has leapt to tens of species every day. In fact, she said that 30 to 50 percent of an estimated 1.75 million species could be heading toward extinction by 2050.

Kuo quoted biologist and Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich in holding rich western countries primarily responsible for “siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate.” On many fronts, the year 2050 is being identified as the point at which the Earth can no longer sustain a human population that will could reach about 10 billion by then.


Even though we are being progressively revealed as responsible for an emerging planetary crisis, humans consider our own species infinitely more important than any other. In fact, we have long embraced through religion the idea that we were given dominion over all the earth, but that is beginning to seem unwise, if true. What are some of the contrary perspectives?

A spiritual perspective appears in an article by Sufi teacher and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee titled “Loneliness and the Sacred Web of Life.” He begins as follows: “The unspoken poverty in our culture is a poverty of spirit, a real hunger for what the West has forgotten: that not just individual life but all of creation is sacred.”

He sees loneliness emerging not only as the result of the ways in which technology distances us from each other and the natural world but also as a result of the way the reign of “consumerism” fails to serve the soul’s search for meaning. “We are not on Earth to be alone,” he says, “but to be a part of a living community, a web of life in which all is sacred.”


That point of view has the potential to transcend religion, politics, and patriotism in the process of creating a planetary sense of community that could result in an evolutionary leap.

Technically speaking, we could be looking at human extinction, but leaders in other fields besides science are trying to awaken us by using a higher road than inspiring fear, and this goes back to the meaning of the Web of Life.  We are being encouraged to see how all life on Earth is interconnected and mutually dependent, and this does not align with the idea of human dominance. It also doesn’t encourage us to be guided and thus limited by the patterns of history. In other words, it may be time to begin thinking way, way out of humanity’s historic box.

What could that mean? The magnitude of the challenge seems overwhelmingly huge. However, as I researched the theme of the Web of Life, I encountered one perspective that defined the challenge before us very simply.

David Suzuki

The source of this idea is David Suzuki, a Canadian geneticist and environmental activist who has hosted a program called “The Nature of Things,” since he founded it in 1960. It has been one of the most successful television programs in Canadian history.

He believes that the Web of Life must become the foundation of the way we live as we pursue three very simple goals.   We must work from:

  • Dominance to partnership
  • Fragmentation to connection
  • Insecurity to interdependence.

This summary appeared in a 2016 blog on Earth’s Web of Life by marine biologist Bill Graham. Although the goals sound very simple, the detail is enormously complex. Nevertheless, it’s a beginning that could change the world–for the better, it will seem to many of us.


Who would have imagined that a Joro spider could have brought so much new attention to a time of crisis? It has added a new dimension to decades of futile warnings from scientists about pending extinctions throughout the Web of Life.

In the moment, we are all preoccupied by conflict in Ukraine that could lead to yet another cycle of war that we seem likely endlessly to repeat, accelerating the speed of extinctions. However, the ability to pause and experience wonder and respect for the Joro spider, like so much else in the natural world we take for granted, could be especially wonderful. After all, it might reveal the potential for an awakening that could transform all life on Planet Earth. No small thing for a female arachnid.

The Accursed Cursive


I am devastated. I just discovered that I/we are going extinct. I mean those of us who write by hand.


This realization came fast upon the heels of inspiration for this post–to encourage readers to begin keeping a journal to track developments in this very historic moment. I even imagined readers willing their journals to descendants who are already manifesting qualities that could serve to advance human evolution rather than curtail it. I do have a tendency to get carried away.

And then suddenly I realized that the ability to write in cursive, the fundamental skill necessary for keeping a journal, is disappearing.

I haven’t given up on promoting such a practice, but I would like to begin here by sharing some of its history.


I think almost everyone reading this probably took writing classes in elementary school and were handy with it, pardon the pun, before 2010. That was the year when national learning standards were established via Common Core. It no longer required elementary school students to learn cursive, the style so much faster than printing each letter by hand.

Of course as typewriters and word processors began to change the educational scene, the importance of learning cursive ebbed. In fact, according to The History Channel, the Saturday Evening Post had by 1955 dubbed the United States a “nation of scrawlers.”

However, I exaggerated a bit with my opening statement in saying that those of us who write by hand are going extinct. After all, 21 states have now acted independently to require training in cursive. As of the moment, this includes Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. California is allowing districts to make their own decisions in this regard.

I find this reassuring. I recall a moment several years ago when a friend told me about getting a call from a grandchild who had just graduated from high school with honors. My friend had sent her a handwritten note commending her on her achievement. The granddaughter had called to ask her what she had said. She couldn’t read cursive.

For those shocked by the evidence of a certain ignorance rising among the educated, I will detour to the book that inspired me to begin keeping a journal decades ago.


Creative inspiration would be a wonderful refuge in this troubled time, and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which I acquired in 1992, is a great resource for awakening it.

For two decades Cameron had worked in Hollywood as a film and television writer, director, and producer of independent features and documentaries. Later she developed classes to unblock creativity in a workshop on screenwriting and fiction, and that experience ultimately led to the writing of this book.

Cameron learned that a foundational requirement for any creative awakening was the writing of “the morning pages”–three pages first thing every morning. Although Cameron did not mention this, the writing would be cursive, of course, and mostly stream-of-conscious, just whatever comes to mind. “Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included,” Cameron wrote. She promised that it would ultimately lead to making contact with an inner power and “a strong and clear sense of self.”

The course was 12 weeks long, enriched by helpful tasks to choose among. For example, one was to make two lists.  One was the names of five people you admire. The other was the names of five people you secretly admire. Very thought provoking. I found the whole three-month experience wonderful. It was assumed that one might continue with the daily morning pages; and I have, with occasional intermissions, to great personal benefit.

When I suddenly realized that cursive is disappearing in our culture, I was afraid that this would compromise the potential in keeping a journal. And I also began to wonder about the ripple effect.


I am not well informed about the way early education has evolved in America because I’m not in close touch with little children. I had no idea that they are now becoming keyboard proficient in the earliest grades. And even though 21 states are continuing to require the teaching of cursive in elementary school, long-range there may be a significant communication problem if eventually more than half the people in a generation here can’t read it.

John Hancock
Declaration of Independence

I think of trivial problems, like greeting card sales declining if people can’t write on them. And what about sales of pencils and ink pens? Will they go into steep decline also? Will there continue to be such a thing as signatures?

It gives me the creeps to think the day may be coming when a young person will look at the signature at the left and ask, “What does it say? And what does that mess all around it say?”

Constitution Preamble

The same for the Constitution, whose script, as beautiful as it is, will be as legible as Egyptian hieroglyphics.

A special thing about handwriting is that it is individualistic. I remember fretting at the instruction to slant a certain degree and defied it as soon as I could.

And I take note of other people’s handwriting. There really is a lot of scrawling going on, an indifference to the aesthetics of beautiful penmanship, and you can read a little personality in it.

Of course electronic print erases all those considerations. But perhaps I’m not the only one who is irritated at times by intrusive “corrections.” They may be about spacing or punctuation or grammar, and I feel like saying, “Buzz off. I know how to do this.” But perhaps the tech takeover will become so aggressive that grammar and punctuation will no longer need to be studied. Will the less taxed brain begin to shrink? Are we seeing that already?

Just kidding. While exploring this topic, I discovered several references to research revealing that when one is working with cursive, the brain is stimulated in multiple places that aren’t affected by keyboard activity.

Apparently, cursive began to manifest among the Romans in about 500 A.D., and they used quill and reed pens with ink. It’s amazing that some of the greatest literature in all of human history ensued. Perhaps there is a certain benefit to consciousness when the mechanics of writing by hand take more time.

The process began to speed up when the first commercial typewriter appeared in 1873. In our new computerized world, writing is so much easier. Is the content better?


I learned all of these details just due to the idea of how valuable keeping a journal during this historic time could be. There is a lot of pressure now on many fronts to “go along to get along.” However, we might do a great service by retiring with our journals to consider certain trends and ask, “Is this good? Or do we need to rethink?” Of course, our conclusions will travel in conversation–and no telling how far. Independent thinking could ultimately be priceless.

And those of us who learned cursive from the beginning can simply continue to nurture it in our unique style of longhand. It will no doubt be noticed, and here and there among the younger folks, the idea of sustaining it may catch on. And as my previous post suggested, the subtle ripple effect of a good idea may eventually change the world.

Needed: A New Kind of Contagion


“When we change how we think about the world, we suddenly change how we act and how those around us act, and that’s how the world  changes.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer



This is the third time I have written about Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass, which, after being published in 2013 has soared to fourth place on The New York Times list of nonfiction paperbacks. To review her background, Robin is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology for the State University of New York.

Published by the nonprofit Milkweed Editions, the success of Braiding Sweetgrass is described by CEO Daniel Slager as “singular,” “staggering,” and “profoundly gratifying.” Sales in the United States are approaching 500,000, and the book will now appear in nine languages across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. This is not due to aggressive promotion, says Joanna Demkiewicz, marketing director of Milkweed. Instead, it is the result of a “grassroots build, led by independent booksellers and individual readers who have felt so deeply changed by Robin’s work that they press it into the hands of their friends, family and community.”

So, what is the appeal?


Robin is also amazed by the recent rise in sales. “What is being revealed to me from readers,” she says, “is a really deep longing for connection with nature.” She did not anticipate that desire as she wrote all the essays collected here but worked with the “grammar of animacy,” she says. This means viewing nature “not as a resource but like an elder ‘relative.'” A natural being is not referred to as “it” but as kin, as are plants, mountains, and lakes. However, this collection of essays “braids” scientific knowledge and ecological knowledge in with indigenous relationships with the living natural world.

As she wrote these essays over decades of observation and contemplation, of course she had no idea that the pandemic was coming. It did create a special opportunity for her book, however. For one thing, people have been reading more during the lock down, perhaps due in part to “digital fatigue.” And although readers’ extraordinary response was not anticipated, Kimmerer believes that it has sprung from the need “for some light in a dark time.” Perhaps it also seeded the potential for more empathy with and compassion for the natural world, as illustrated by her quote below:

“The vulnerability we’re experiencing in the pandemic is the vulnerability that songbirds feel every day of their lives.”


In spite of these important details, after learning about the book’s rise to bestseller status in 2020, I was inspired to review the most dramatic media stories from 2014 on to see if I could find a clue in news stories about why it would be rising in popularity even before the pandemic struck creating the dark time Kimmerer mentioned.

The main events that stood out from 2014 to 2020 were a series of deadly armed attacks by individuals. I’m sure readers will remember these. The deaths at the named locations are in parenthesis: a Charleston church (8), Las Vegas hotel (58), Parkland high school (17), El Paso store (20), Dayton bar (9), Virginia Beach municipal center (12), and a Santa Clarita school (1). Of course, in 2020, the pandemic took center stage. There was only one attack at a Milwaukee Brewery where 8 were killed that received major attention. I assumed that people were now behaving better.

Not so. I proceeded to discover some stunning statistics in the Gun Violence Archive from 2014 through 2020. Here a category of “DEATHS-Willful, Malicious, Accidental” are in the thousands each year, beginning with 12,418 in 2014. In 2019, the number rose to 15,448. And as with the surge in sales of Braiding Sweetgrass, deaths leapt to 19,411 in 2020. (Figures for 2021 are not yet available.)

For all those years–from 2014 and including 2020–the total of deaths from guns is 106,501. That compares with the 125 that got major media attention. Bad news sells for the media, but even the special attention accorded a mass killing avoids the fact that there are killings going on in our country every single day.

I wondered how this compares with violence in other countries, and I found a site that could provide that information. It is called The Trace. I checked on their merit  with https://mediabiasfactcheck.com and was encouraged. It reported that The Trace sought information from scientific sources like the CDC. ” In general,” it said, their reporters “are factual and lean left in bias.”

So here are some details I discovered that originated in the archives of 2018:

  • America’s gun homicide rate was more than double the average for all countries, and was at the top of the list for countries with high Socio-demographic Index (SDI) scores, a summary measure of a country’s health outcomes.
  • When it came to gun suicides, the U.S. was by far the global leader. Despite accounting for only 4 percent of the global population, America was responsible for more than a third of the world’s firearm suicides.
  • Starting in 2020, the United States entered a dizzying upswing in gun-buying, spurred in part by social unrest from the pandemic. Nine of the top 10 highest months for gun sales in United States history came in 2020 and 2021.


I realize that this final perspective is a “dizzying” departure from the one with which I began. The information on the stunning success of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book has not been publicized by the media as an important news item. This development, largely sub rosa, is, I think we would all agree, wonderful news. It is an indication that an awakening is afoot that could change the way we think about the world in which we live. And Kimmerer believes, as I wrote in the introduction, that when we change the way we think, “we suddenly change how we act and how those around us act, and that’s how the world changes. It’s by changing hearts and changing minds. And it’s contagious.”

With regard to the information on the United States’ international standing in gun violence, the height of  our international ascendance in deaths is also largely sub rosa. Although the media benefit from the attention garnered by a spotlight on certain horrifying events, they are not publicizing the pandemic of violence in our own country and its likely endurance due to recent unprecedented gun sales. The problem is horrific, but as Kimmerer said, when we change the way we think “we suddenly change how we act and that’s how the world changes.” The lifting of hearts and minds would be a new form of contagion.

Perhaps it’s time for us to follow the Potawatomi scientist’s lead.


A Cowboy to the Rescue



If it’s time to rethink our way of being on Planet Earth, how do we begin? How about with a documentary on a cowboy horse trainer?



I rarely watch movies on Netflix, but several weeks ago at the end of a tiring day, I discovered the cowboy movie above. It is a rather brief documentary, and at the time, I saw no connection with my previous posts on the theme of humanity at a crossroad. But I was fascinated by the movie–the beautiful vistas of a ranch in Wyoming, the background music, the wonderful horses, and the light-filled face of horse-trainer Robin Wiltshire.

A love of horses appears in the Heath lineage, and it really flourished in my brother the veterinarian. However, I have had little personal experience with horses, and I have always assumed that horse trainers could be severe. Robin Wiltshire has clearly transcended that need while also revealing a stunning human potential that may give us all pause.


The movie focuses on Robin Wiltshire in action, of course, and he speaks only briefly throughout; however, the first thing you notice is an unusual accent. He was born in Australia to parents living out in the country with many horses. However, around the age of 10, he was sent to live with his grandparents because he was a problem. He could not speak well or read at all, and he was being ostracized because he was different.

His grandfather was a horseman and a war hero, a member of the Light Horse Brigade in Australia that fought overseas in World War I. Robin says that he never saw love in the eyes of his grandfather, who once told him, “You will amount to nothing.”

However, his grandparent’s home was an ideal place to learn more about horses and riding, and one day he saw a Western movie that transformed his life. He loved the horses, the cowboys’ mannerisms, their hats and boots and scarves, and on and on. He knew early on that he would go to the United States and try to get a job in the movies.

His grandmother supported him in that respect. “Believe in what you are,” she said. “And if you want to do that through horses, then do it. Just be very gentle with them. And that will give back a lot more love to you.”


A View of Turtle Ranch

The camera work on this film is riveting. With his wife, Kate, also a trainer, and his son, Patrick, Wiltshire lives on the 3,000-acre Turtle Ranch in Wyoming. There are moments when the horses are running wild on stunning terrain. Later, there are training moments when Wiltshire mixes exquisite patience with warm praise in creating amazing performances. At the time of the movie, there were 70 or more horses on the property, most donated because their owners couldn’t handle them.

Wiltshire refers to himself as a “learner,” and he found within himself the ability to “read” the horses–perhaps because he couldn’t read in the traditional way–and cooperation and relationship emerged. I referred to a light in his face earlier, and it must reflect the love he feels constantly around his horses.

Clearly, he has fulfilled his own unique potential in extraordinary ways, and the ease with which he rides, the dignity of his walk in boots with an unusual red shaft, and the perpetual protective shadow under the rim of his pale Stetson suggest a cultivated presence that reflects pride in all he has achieved.


Unfortunately, success did not come immediately. Wiltshire arrived in the United States just as “Star Wars” launched and challenged the longstanding popularity of Westerns. However, his first achievement was the training and riding of a horse in a Marlboro commercial. Then he connected with Budweiser and for decades trained the Clydesdale horses in their commercials. He was probably behind the scene of the Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl on Saturday. Wiltshire also fulfilled his dream of working in the movies including “Django Unchained.”

In the process of doing my research, I checked into Wiltshire’s net worth. I don’t know how reliable the sources are, but one site said $8 million and another $10 million. I chuckle at the thought of his grandfather learning this after telling him “You will amount to nothing.” There is also no reliable source for his birth date, but he must be somewhere in his 60s.


Wiltshire Training

I am about to watch this documentary for the fourth time in an effort to make sure I have dialog and detail down correctly, but I think I will probably watch it yet again. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a comforting, kind of therapeutic, experience. The beautiful landscapes and the way the horses and Wiltshire relate to each other are fascinating. I think the latter reveals a human potential for an awakening of consciousness that rarely manifests. It is a nice resting point for humanity at a crossroad.

In closing, I realize that I’ve shared a lot, but there is much more for other viewers to enjoy in a unique and personal way. And by the way, I found a site, EQ Living (Equestrian Living), providing a stream of years of the Budweiser Super Bowl Clydesdale commercials with which Wiltshire was involved. The site won’t give a link to those who are not subscribers. However, you can put https://eqliving.com/cant-get-enough-of-the-budweiser-clydesdales/ in your browser to watch them. I bet you’ll get a real kick out of the experience.


Will Fermata Blink?



Fermata, the pause symbol in sheet music, resembles a waiting eye. Is it time for humanity to take a pause in our epic performance? To look, listen, and collaborate on a new masterpiece?



Paleontologists are pretty sure that humans evolved from a primate beginning millions of years ago. Our ensuing achievements have been monumental, and surely we have further potential. But what, exactly, is that potential? And how long do we have to access it before crashing into the wall beginning to manifest?

That question is all about time as we now know it. In the beginning, however, the sun’s track and the seasons were planetary life’s primary reference points. Perhaps the day came when an egg of our female primate ancestor–presumably a chimpanzee type–knew “It’s time.” Shortly thereafter, the sperm cell of a nearby male also awakened. It locomoted in, and our story began.

The search goes on for the fossils of the first in our species. In the most current research I could find, the most likely possibility has been named Sahelanthropus. It may have first risen on two feet about seven million years ago in what is now the republic of Chad in Africa. As paleontologists continue to study fossils in pursuit of the remains of our earliest ancestors, they look for bodies that not only stood upright but also lacked the dagger-like canines of the apes.

These were the hominids, and the ones that looked most like us, the Homo sapiens, appeared in Africa, maybe about 130,000 years ago. They left Africa about 50,000 to 70,000 years ago and moved into Europe and elsewhere. Then, in about AD 1500, some of their descendants set off for America. How is that for an historical leap? But I want to get on with my main points.

As I said earlier, the achievements of the descendants of the African Homo sapiens are stunning. The current problem, though, is the way we have overpopulated Planet Earth. It is estimated that there may be as many as 10 billion of us by AD 2050, likely more than Earth can sustain. That’s the wall beginning to manifest that I referred to in the beginning, the warning that it is time for humans to stop and think.


We assume that our primate ancestors lived in the trees when our story began seven-or-so million years ago, and it’s fun to imagine the moment when the transition to upright and standing began. Perhaps a female with a deformity–feet that were solid rather than flexible–accidentally fell to the ground. Then pulling herself up via a nearby trunk, she suddenly realized that she could see great distances rather than just a few yards in the protective but stifling greenery above. As she surveyed the open landscape, she hoped to return.

Now she glimpsed some mushrooms in the grass beyond. The red crowns of the fungi seemed to beckon, and when she carefully tasted them, her brown eyes widened with pleasure. Another reason to return. Later when she began to climb the big trunk toward home, she was carrying two mushrooms in her mouth. She knew a male who would also enjoy them. Maybe they would return to eat more.

Earliest Homo Sapiens


It is stunning to survey how incredibly our lineage has evolved since Homo sapiens appeared, again about 130,000 years ago. There is a general perspective that our advances in technology began in the Neolithic Age of about 10000 BC to 4500 BC. Scientists believe that they began with domestic activities. As Britannica puts it, this would be “the application of techniques for grinding corn, baking clay, spinning and weaving textiles and also, it seems likely, for dyeing, fermenting, and distilling.”

Now, let’s leap to the introduction of internet technology. A friend wrote that, in the early 1960s, he had experience with a precursor of the internet in graduate school. Now I’m back to the present and the succeeding meteoric rise of the related technology that is engulfing the world. Two of my major concerns now are (1) how its application may be affecting human intelligence, and (2) how its invasion into virtually every facet of our economy could prove detrimental.

The first point above is inspired by the memory of a moment in downtown Santa Fe on a beautiful day years ago. As I walked, a couple approached with a two-seated carriage for twin toddlers. There was a lot of activity all around, but the children were oblivious. They were staring at little devices in their hands that looked like miniature smartphones. “Uh oh,” I thought. This kind of technology can be used as a form of entertainment that is a babysitter in the beginning. However, it can create an addiction of the kind that distances young people from the world around them and seems enormously to diminish human interaction.


Then, regarding the second point, I will return to the view of “all the empty spaces”–many of them shops–that I shared in my previous post. We understand, I think, that our patriotic duty is to consume as much as possible to keep the economy going and create jobs. However, with so many products available online, many shops, like the bookstores I once happily rambled, have had to close. I could go on and on, but you have no doubt seen this yourself. Technology is also destroying jobs, as in the automated checkout counters that replace clerks.

The primary area where sales are going through the roof is, of course, in the area of technology. I feel sorry for young couples starting families because the provision of iPhones, iPads, computers, computer games, software, and nonstop upgrades must be costing a fortune. Soon, I bet the tech industry will begin to lobby for “Tech Security” sort of like Social Security, to be financed by taxes to provide everyone with the latest products so they won’t be left out.

I’m sure subscribers also anticipate certain costly changes, and I’ll stop now with one last thing that concerns me, and that is about the future of the human brain. I think of that expression “Use it or lose it” in that regard. I wonder if every advance that spares us the need to use our brains–like the intrusive editing of copy and text messages–is also emptying spaces within our skulls. Are we regressing, thanks to technology?


Enough. I could go on and on and on, and I’m sure all of us can.  But I want to close by going back into the woods. Again, it was millions of years before something like a tree-dwelling primate woke up to the taste of a mushroom that inspired an evolutionary leap. Homo sapiens have since advanced at such warp speed that we are in the process of wiping out countless other species on Planet Earth while putting our own at great risk.

I’m not scared. Even as I write this, I know that we are very, very intelligent and gifted with the physical attributes necessary to turn this situation around if we choose to. And that will require some form of inspiration. What could ignite new potential? I don’t know. But perhaps something is knocking at the soul’s door, and we will have to turn many things off to be able to hear it.






All the Empty Spaces


The Hidden Eagle Eye

Sometimes I wish I weren’t quite so observant.







As I ramble around Santa Fe, what I see in the downtown area where I live is evidence of the flood tide of change that must be emptying spaces all over the country.

Santa Fe has long been a wonderful tourist attraction with its rustic architecture; museums; art galleries; and the mingling influences of Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American culture. In addition, residents and visitors have enjoyed wonderful shopping, dining, theater and the opera, outdoor historic celebrations, and on and on. In the moment, however, there is evidence of the emptying mentioned above.

Many of the galleries on Canyon Road have closed, as have many shops downtown and in the areas beyond. The restaurants still open are cutting back on hours, and “For Lease” signs are popping up daily, including among empty offices in the medical center area. Of course this is largely the result of the pandemic. However, there may be a more important cause that could also represent an epic opportunity. To address that, I will begin with a question:


I, personally, at age 76, am on the leading edge of the baby boomers, that unprecedented explosion of births occurring after the end of World War II that created an extremely powerful generation. It began in 1946 and ended in 1964 resulting in a total of 76 million boomer births. By 2012, 12 million had died. However, according to the Census Bureau, immigrants of boomer age have caused this generation to inflate again to 76.4 million.

In 2011 about 12 million boomers reached the age of 65. Although this could seem like a huge crowd heading toward the exit, they–and all the enduring boomers–may yet have a very important role to play. This is because they are gifted with a “long view” of domestic history that could prove to be a blessing for us all. That view is of the meteoric rise in technology that has transformed our world.


To review that meteoric rise, I am providing the dates of some important developments that fueled the launch. They begin in 1974 when the last of the boomers to be born were only 10 years old. It would be years, however, before these young people tuned into the huge developments afoot in the world of technology. According to the National Center for Education statistics, 2016 was the first year that data on internet access via computer was collected on 3-18-year-olds. In that year, 87% had access. By 2019, that figure had risen to 95%. So here are the key points by year:

1974  The term “internet” was introduced.

1989  The World Wide Web and HTML were invented.

1991  Public consumer internet services emerged.

1995  Microsoft launched Internet Explorer.

1998  Google was founded.

2004  Mark Zuckerberg put the first iteration of Facebook online.

Now, let’s turn to the matter of capitalism in general.


Zuckerberg’s name begins with the letter “z”, which is of course at the end of the alphabet. However, it is here associated with a new beginning. He was only 21 when he launched Facebook in 2004. Here are some important markers that ensued:

2008   Zuckerberg joined the Forbes list of the wealthiest Americans. He was 23 years old. In that year, and according to Forbes writer Rachel Sandler, 9% of America’s wealthiest people had made a fortune in the tech industry. Over four years, Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth had risen to $1.5 billion.

2021   Again according to Sandler, by this year, 20% of the nation’s wealthiest people have made their fortune in the tech industry. She writes that “Their collective net worth has ballooned from $272 billion in 2008 to a recent $1.75 trillion.”


But will it endure?

“Well, duh,” some might say. “I sure plan to ride the golden pony to the end.”  After all, it seems that the pursuit of wealth has always been a popular American ambition. In fact, in that regard, years ago I humorously titled a post “The United States of Amoneyca.”

Stanford University

In fact, young people have begun to select college degrees in part on the basis of earning potential. Not me. I always just assumed I would become a teacher, and I pursued a degree in English at Stanford University for that reason. My first job teaching freshman English at an El Paso high school paid $300 a month. Wow.

Things have changed. I thought the liberal arts were Stanford’s great strength, but guess what field the most popular degrees are in now: engineering first and computer and information sciences second. Of the 1,892 degrees awarded in 2019, 690 were in those two fields. Only 50 were in English language and literature. You can look at the range here. I think I would be really out of my element on campus today.

Now let’s look at the starting salaries associated with degrees nationwide. The source is a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The statistics appear in an article in Fortune magazine by Chris Morris. As you can see, the highest is in petroleum engineering at about $88,000 followed by computer programming heading down to a low of about $73,000 in related fields. Overall, according to NACE, the average starting salary in 2020 was $55,260. A salary for beginning English teacher is not included.


If boomer readers are looking at this information relative to young people in their lives who are trying to plan for a prosperous future, it is obvious which fields are most financially promising–or have recently been so. But as I said in the beginning of this post, we seem to be trying to navigate toward high ground on a flood tide of change. Because of their long view of history, boomers may imagine the possibility of a crash on shore. It has, after all, happened before.

And there may also be a rather hidden population of people who are watching like eagles what is going on in real time and before their eyes rather than on screens, in news media, and in books. Do they hope for the Golden Age to endure?

Clearly, I have a lot more to say about this, but I think it’s time to pause. I don’t want to wear readers out in the moment, and I need some time to think on my own. Perhaps we all  do.

Hasta luego.















An Idea That May Save us



We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. Knowing this, we can begin to transform our relationship to the Earth.

Thich Nhat Hanh


Aware of the turn my writing is taken, a friend sent me some thoughts by the Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh shortly before he died on Sunday, January 22. My new writing goal is to share perspectives that will promote unity among Earthlings rather than multiply and deepen all the ways in which we have fractured as a species. My friend’s referral was very timely in that regard.

My previous post concluded with the idea that it is time (1) to rethink our way of being here and (2) to begin cultivating an earth consciousness that could result in an evolutionary leap. The gifted material by Thich Nhat Hanh makes a number of relevant points.

For example, he says that “We see ourselves as the center of the universe and are concerned primarily with our own personal survival.” However, he points out that “Everything outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth. We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet.”

Realizing this, he says, will cause us to fall in love with her. And further, this is the relationship each of us must have with the Earth if the Earth is to survive, and if we are to survive as well.”

That is the kind of idea that comes to one during meditation in something like a cave sanctuary. Here in America, we are instead fused with screens and preoccupied with personal concerns that seem so much more important in the moment. But is it time to try to begin thinking way, way, beyond current issues and classic spiritual counsel to explore a fanciful vision that might prove a little helpful?


Imagine a thoughtful presence sitting on a stone throne at the top of a huge mountain. Mother Earth is contemplating a severe descent below softened by an unprecedented depth of snow. She had created a blizzard as yet another warning that has not registered. Tired of being ignored, she is considering launching an epic, thundering avalanche to add to all her preceding alerts. A faint smile ripples, inspired by the irony of a radiant white messenger of death.

Suddenly her face smooths as she detects the vibration of a presence a little bit higher and to her right. It is the Heavenly Father, and he has come to intervene. She turns to inquire:

ME:    So prayers have been pouring in?

HF:    Yes. Avalanche scientists have warned that the catastrophe you’re contemplating will be the worst in recorded history. There is no way to temper the damage by setting off smaller events on down the mountain.

ME:   It may not be me who sets it off, you know. Just guys having some fun.

HF:    I know how you feel, though. Just getting fed up, aren’t you?

ME:   You know how beautiful Earth was in the beginning. Look at it now. Getting worse every day. No way to slow the decline. Are the spirits below asking you for help?

HF:    Yep, but not about how to take care of the wonders you bestowed on them. The prayers are endless, all beginning with “Please.” “Please help me get a promotion. Don’t let my kitty die. Stop my husband from screwing around. Help my team win. Don’t let my stock in the fossil fuel industry go worthless.

(The presence sighs.) No one ever says thank you. They all want money, power, to win at something or other. To be safe from all the problems they’ve created.

ME:    I know how it is. They just take and take and take and never give back. What would suffer if they disappeared?

HF:    All the domesticated creatures. They don’t know how to take care of themselves. Wouldn’t that make you sad?

ME:   Yes, very. I really love them. All the wildlife, too.

HF:    Were you very sad about the dinosaurs?

ME:    Well, they were a beginner species, kind of homely, you know. And what could I do?  There was no way to stop that asteroid. And things did clean up after a few million years. Things will again. Do you think there could be an awakening before Earth is totally trashed?

HF:     So you’re considering backing off?

ME:    Have they been asking you to to calm me down? Are they going to create trouble between you and me now?

HF:    Well, what I really want to happen is for your daughters down there to turn their role of nurturing and comforting more toward nature. You know. Begin to create an Earth consciousness. Begin to baby Earth. Make the men earn their babies, so to speak. Sort of like, “You no fixie things? No more babies.”

ME:   What about the money problem?

HF:    Well, that’s an idea the men made up. And you know wildlife don’t eat money. You can’t bury it in the soil to make things grow. And it doesn’t grow on trees, as they say. It’s used primarily to create waste, to foment war, to create power that is then abused. Humanity needs to discover a new mission.

ME:   Sounds boring, I’m afraid. Men need violence.

HF:    Well, your little virus buddies are being very successful in keeping them cooped up. Time to think, you know.

ME:    Yep.

HF:     And the ones who don’t cooperate can come be with me sooner rather than later.

ME:    Thank you. That’s very kind of you.

HF:     So you are going to back off?

ME:    I’ll think about that–especially in places where people are waking up to how much I have given them and are beginning to try to restore it.

HF:    How about taking a break? Sort of like a mother below deciding to have a cup of tea then take a nap?

ME:   Well, my earlier interventions–you know, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, droughts, and so forth–may have been more like a disciplinary whack of a ruler on the head than a real confrontation. And maybe the danger of the situation is registering. I’m watching for signs.

HF:    Like what?

ME:   Like if you tell me you’re getting many prayers asking for guidance on how to restore the planet, that would be a bit reassuring. I may continue to send warnings, just not launch a worldwide cataclysm. If you can tell that Earthlings are getting ready to talk turkey, as they say, and meaning the men too, and if you tell me where this is happening, I’ll back off there. That will make you look good, and the word will spread. I’ll send you some fresh air as a thank you.

HF:  Great. It’s  a deal.


Tinted Gaia

So there we are.  A vision of Mother Earth very different from that of Thich Nhat Hanh. Our imagination is going to be extremely important in healing the Earth, and a vision of a loving Mother Earth would be very helpful. The voice in the script above seems to be that of a mother who has aged bitterly due to the damage we have done to our beautiful home.

I rambled around online to find an image of Mother Earth to include here. I didn’t see anything that approached inspiring the love Thich Nhat Hanh imagined but decided to include the one at left. You may want to explore the wide range of art work here.

Maybe we’re too out of touch with the body of Mother Earth to express love for it through art. More on that later.




The Hour Glass Waits



Is this the moment when just a few grains of sand remain?






In my last post, I pointed out several ways in which the human presence on Earth is causing problems. In short, there may eventually be too many of us to be sustainable in an environment we have also damaged. The moment may have come to take the long view in order to course correct. And although the very large human brain and the achievements therefrom have played a major role in bringing us to this perilous moment, that same resource can enable us to address it. First, however, there must be an awakening.

So the symbol above represents this moment in time. Those last remaining grains in the upper half of the glass signify the items of news rolling in daily that confirm the seriousness of the moment. When the last grain falls, we could reach for the glass and turn it over to begin a new era. It would signify a universal leap in human consciousness. As we go forward, it might be helpful to remember this symbol, not as an hour glass but an “era” glass.

And as urgency ramps up with the drop of each grain of alarming news, an idea may also be of comfort. What if each one of us who is fully conscious of this dangerous moment in history chose, in a soul state, to be here? Perhaps we have business with it, we have something to learn from it, we have a gift or knowledge that will be helpful in dealing with it, or we simply chose to be present for some reason yet to be determined.

That idea may be especially timely for elders because we have the long view mentioned above of the developments that brought us to this critical juncture. This idea can also ensure higher regard for younger generations because we can imagine enormous courage in their presence–more than we needed coming into life–and aptitudes yet to be discovered that will enable them to meet the challenges of the century. With that idea in mind, we may create new ways to support them when many others are cultivating fear in community to increase their own stature and power.


Joseph Campbell

What we need in the moment is to develop a potential for a quality of heroism that will lift us all. That brings to mind all the books by the great mythologist Joseph Campbell that I read in the 80s. The foremost was The Power of Myth, which derived from a six-hour PBS series of interviews with Bill Moyers.

The interviews touched on countless stories Campbell had studied about the archetypal hero appearing in teachings all over the world. The most vivid and enduring image is of a brave male who embarks on a perilous journey into the deep dark woods to discover his destiny. He is transfigured by his experience and returns to teach the lessons he has learned from a life renewed.


In spite of the wonder of all the mythologies in Campbell’s books and the tremendous fame and public gratitude they inspired, Campbell’s perspective had begun to change by the time he was 83. In an exchange with Bill Moyers, he said that “when you come to the end of one time and the beginning of a new one, it’s a period of tremendous pain and turmoil. . . the notion of Armageddon coming.” This was in about 1986, but the reference seems to align with the current moment.

Campbell also detected the ebbing influence of the spiritual sources of the earliest myths. He spoke of the need for something new, a myth unconfined by geography or communities, a myth without boundaries. “The only mythology that is valid today,” he said, “is the mythology of the planet–and we don’t have such a mythology.”

As Campbell approached his death in 1987, he seemed to be exploring the idea that the mythology of the planet would relate to nature, and the feminine would gain new standing in that regard. “Since her magic is that of giving birth and nourishment as the earth does,” he said, “her magic supports the magic of the earth.”

Greek Goddess Artemis

There seems to be a reference to a goddess of old in that statement; and these spirits, as in the Greek goddess Artemis, were often closely connected with the natural world. One of our problems is our distancing from it. However, greater earth consciousness may be emerging from our awareness of how we have depleted natural resources and are suffering from extreme weather events emanating from climate change.

At the same time that there is growing concern about population growth, the feminine’s role in this regard is changing. Stature and independence are increasing, and that is affecting breeding patterns. Women have been encouraged to bear children not only to create families but also to provide followers for power-seeking entities, laborers for construction and agriculture, and troops for the military, etc.

In summary, women are enjoying greater independence and authority than ever before. Many will continue to want to create families, but others will be driven to cultivate intelligence resident in a brain no smaller than that of the male but that hasn’t been comparably accessed and developed. With the feminine’s innate aptitude “for giving birth and nourishment as the earth does” a rise in standing supported by increased opportunity could be key to our species’ survival.


When one thinks about how tragically the beauty and abundance of this pristine continent have been compromised since the arrival of our ancestors just 400 years ago, two conclusions begin to surface. It is very clearly time (1) to rethink our way of being here and (2) to begin cultivating an earth consciousness that could result in an evolutionary leap.

And my last point is that new, incontrovertible evidence of planetary danger may be pending. When it drops into our awareness like the last grains of sand into the bottom of the hour glass above, for the first time in human history, the feminine hand may partner in turning it over to begin a new era. If so, this will not manifest as a rebuke to the masculine. It will simply confirm the way new life and new eras naturally emerge cyclically on Planet Earth, and now the time has come for . . . .


And what a coincidence! Just as I prepare to post, a friend has sent a link to a post by the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. It shares quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Victoria Loorz, co-founder of the Wild Church Network, on the importance of restoring relationships with humans and nature. I think readers will greatly appreciate their views.

The Moment Has Come


Galapagos Hawk
Sean Crane



Nothing is wrong. I’ve just been watching and waiting.




As subscribers may have noted, I haven’t posted on my blog since last July. At a time when our country and the entire world seem fractured by division, I wanted to find a new trajectory in my writing that might serve the ideal of unity.

Waiting for inspiration is a very uncomfortable state of being, however. We have to be productive to justify our existence, right? However, day after day passed, and writer’s block only deepened. I kept thinking I should explain to readers, but I put that off too.

In the past, I had discovered that a new interest would sometimes invoke a helpful synchronicity. My attention was just rambling, however. My psychic self seemed to be waiting for some kind of intervention.

As it turned out, the desired coincidence had been pending for months. It began with the publication of a book in April. In August, I received a review of it titled “Avocados, ants, aardvarks and us” by Maggie Doherty. I added it to the “to-read” pile on my desk where it nested until December.

And the name of the book? Four Fifths a Grizzly by Douglas Chadwick. It has inspired an awakening in me, and I hope this experience will be common among other readers as well. The subtitle is promising:  “A New Perspective on Nature that Just Might Save Us All.”


Chadwick seems to have assembled the chapters of his book from almost 40 years of writing about the natural world, including 14 books. After acquiring a B.S in Zoology and an M.S. in Wildlife Biology, he spent seven years studying mountain goats and grizzly bears in northwestern Montana. Adventures with other species all over the world have followed.

Chadwick writes with a voice that is congenial and often humorous, untainted by criticism or ideology. He seems simply to be telling readers the truth of things, which he has learned not only through research and exploration but also conservation projects.


The cover of the book suggests that the content may up-end what we thought we knew about nature, which is unfortunately very little in most of us. For example, Chadwick discovered that, as a human, he has four-fifths of the same genes as a grizzly bear. That means you and I do too. We are “greater than human,” as he puts it.

We were already imagining ourselves at the apex of the pyramid of all life on Earth, but this statement lifts us even higher. Due to the further content of Chadwick’s book, it will be reassuring to keep the idea of “greater” in mind.

Bausch & Lomb
Antique Microscope

Fortunately, beginning at age ten, Chadwick was able to begin studying life at the bottom of the pyramid. His father, a geologist, gave him an antique Bausch & Lomb microscope, and he began to examine things like mold, pollen, and “squirmers” from pond water. It wasn’t long before he had absorbed “a core fact about life on Earth: most of it is invisible.”

As his studies of the invisible continued to advance, he homed in on the fact that millions of microscopic beings had enabled the first fertilized cells of our ancestors to divide, endure, and multiply. After 350,000 years, they are still essential to our survival, and they are everywhere–in the air; inside our bodies and on our skin; in everything we see, touch, and eat; in everything in Earth as well as on it. We are connected with them all, and that’s where the idea “greater than human” comes from.

This phrase may further elevate the sense of importance of our species, but it is also cautionary. There is a hovering, cinematic idea that if things get too messy here, we could always move to another planet. “Damned unlikely,” one can imagine Chadwick saying. “We may be greater than just human, but we are of the earth. We belong here.”


With that realization and with our standing as the species supreme comes a sense of responsibility. It’s time to get moving–past time probably. That alert comes from stunning statistics appearing in one chapter after another of Chadwick’s “grizzly book.”

  • Humans are now multiplying at the rate of a million every four or five days.
  • Currently at about 8 billion, our population worldwide could rise to 10 billion by 2050.
  • Over the last 300 years, we have stripped off 40 percent of Earth’s woodland cover.
  • We are on track to extinguish as many as 50 percent of Earth’s species by the end of the century.

The statistics above are alarming. However, I emerged profoundly comforted overall by the content of the grizzly book. Subscribers will remember that I had long ago tuned into the natural world over many years walking in forest preserves with my beloved dog. But I was just a charmed observer; I wasn’t a student. I now realize that Chadwick’s book may help inspire the earth consciousness that will save us.


To summarize, Four Fifths a Grizzly awakens the reader to the way the human species has spread all over the Earth kind of like the bacteria that often infect us. However, Chadwick does not blame us for the universal danger emerging from our presence.

“People are merely continuing to strive for more space and resources,” he writes. “It’s what species do.” On the other hand, he says “it would be good for a species that named itself sapiens–Latin for “wise”–to start choosing smarter paths forward.”

Time to think, right? And I hope future posts will help with that.






A Blue Ribbon Moment in History



A “soap opera” of a life creates a winner.

“Expect the unexpected. That’s life, and sometimes you may need a life preserver, a life jacket, a net or a raft. You can’t hold your breath forever. Breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy this wild ride.”

Charla Hester



That sounds like great advice, particularly at this time in history when the ride is often rocky. Charla’s photograph clearly reveals a lady in the wisdom zone of life, but why have I chosen to write about her? What’s that blue ribbon about?

It’s about a poem actually, a poem that immediately sent me into a moment of pause. Before I share it, however, I will add some information about Charla’s history that may affect its impact on you as well.


Charla and I were high school classmates back in El Paso. I did not know her well, and our paths parted at graduation. After our 50th reunion, leadership within our ranks caused a cohort to coagulate online over the issues raised by the 2016 election and then the pandemic. With regard to Charla, she has recently begun to share creative writing that has served as a new binding agent.

This material emerged from a stressful time in her life when she sought help from a therapist. He taught her that we don’t have control over our lives, just over our actions and reactions. He wanted her to begin keeping a journal, but she began writing creatively instead, and that resulted in the poem that inspired this post. It won a blue ribbon this June, one of three in addition to a Best in Division award at the Burnet County Fair north of Marble Falls, Texas, where Charla now lives.

The theme of the fair was “Blue Jeans and Country Dreams!” As you will see, the color blue became important in Charla’s life for a number of reasons.


Charla was born in 1945, the year World War II would come to an end–not, however, before Charla’s much older brother had perished in it. Her mother’s pregnancy, well into her 40s, was envisioned as creating a replacement for the lost son. The birth of a baby girl was a bitter and enduring disappointment. Charla’s mother had planned to name the replacement son Charles and insisted that the baby be called “Charlie.” She also always dressed her little girl in blue and told her this was her favorite color–which was never to be true–and over time, the name Charlie evolved into Charla.

She had two older sisters, one 21 and the other 18 when she was born, but she was isolated by the age difference and was essentially raised as an only child. Her early years were spent in an Arizona country home where her mother was “real good at wringing chicken necks and letting them flap around on the ground until good and dead.”

An essay amplified her mother’s troubling image:  “Her skin was yellow and hung from her bones. Her hair was gray and smelled of nicotine. She chain smoked, choked, cackled and cursed. She had false teeth, wore blood red fingernail polish and ‘Evening in Paris’ perfume. She drank every day,” Charla went on, “hated herself and everybody else . . . . So I learned to become invisible. I hid in the shadows, and under the table, never directly asked for anything and stuttered when I dared to speak.”


Fortunately, Charla’s father, a railroad man and engineer for Southern Pacific, was kind and attentive as opposed to her scary mother. And as a child in Arizona, she was introduced to the appealing, tough but polite cowboy type, as in her babysitter Sugar Bill. It would endure in Charla’s psyche for a lifetime and inspire her award-winning poem.

Now to summarize the years after her family moved to El Paso. After graduation from high school, Charla went to college at UTEP (the University of Texas at El Paso) to prepare for a 25-year career as an elementary school teacher. She soon married and bore two sons. (Learning this made me smile because I saw it as double-compensating for emerging from her mother’s womb as a female.)

Charla had multiple marriages and was employed as a bank teller and bartender (briefly) as well as a teacher. Her last marriage came to an end in 1989, and after she retired in 1998, she began to work on turning a lifelong interest in buying “junque,” as she put it, into becoming a dealer with sales in multiple venues. In 2000, she moved to Marble Falls.

Her last divorce set Charla free to cultivate her spirited 5’1″ true self and her longtime attraction to the classic cowboy type. Her ensuing writing conveys the bold, humorous, and fun-loving personality that the cowboys enjoyed in return.


During Charla’s early years in Wilcox, Arizona, the cowboys would come off the range every year for a rodeo. She wrote that “They sat up on the wooden fences surrounding the cattle yard chewing tobacco, talking with grunts and nodding their heads and shoulders while whittling with their pocket knives. I always felt safe and protected by them boys.” After her last divorce, she was free to pursue this interest, as illustrated in the composition “Wanted: One Cowboy Type.” It begins with a conversation among friends:

“I want a cowboy,” I told them.

“Why? What are you going to do with a cowboy?” they asked.

“Isn’t that going to be between me and the cowboy?” I answered.

A discussion ensues about the difference between wanting and needing a cowboy and also the difference between being alone and being lonely, which don’t always go together. During the conversation, Charla concludes that “needing” a cowboy doesn’t sound good. So she decides to post an ad:

Wanted: One Cowboy Type

Big, strong, solid, and caring,

Willing to spend time with a strong-minded,

Self-sufficient, independent woman,

To call her “Darlin'” and take her dancin’.

Before leaving El Paso to move to Marble Falls, Charla had actually begun reading ads searching for “dates” in the newspaper and decided that what all the men wanted was “a mother, maid, nurse, and cook.” So she did finally post a search for a man who must be an orphan, widowed, childless, with no responsibilities to anyone, willing to spend time and money on an “independent, self-sufficient, strong-minded woman.”

She got some replies, and when they responded laughing, she knew the men had gotten the message.

Charla did ultimately fulfill her desire for time with the classic cowboy, a number of them, in fact. Her life had long been on hold, she felt, and now she began to live the kind of experiences central to the romance novels she had loved. She had read them, she wrote, anticipating turning her own life into a paperback novel, “and I did,” she added.


Sewing Blue Ribbon


In June, Charla turned some of those life experiences into the awards at the Burnet County Fair. Three of the honors were for her writing. One blue ribbon was for a table runner with embroidery on a blue denim background, the blue theme up again.

The “runner” term reminds me of Charla’s life path–that of a “survivor” as she puts it–but also of the universal feminine currently on the move toward unprecedented freedom.

Charla’s flowered runner, which would lie lengthwise on a table, invokes the image of a tall man at rest, the last of Charla’s cowboys, for whom she still grieves. When he died, he was found lying in his boots among the cattle on his huge ranch.

Charla’s relationships with these cowboys in the second half of her life seem to have been tempered by latitude that comes with maturity. And one hears in her poem an emerging quality of parity between male and female that may prove promising for our long-term future. Just a thought. I hope some readers will share their own impressions of Charla’s award-winning poem below.


Say those words.

Say them aloud.

Listen to what they mean.

They are powerful words.

Much more powerful than “I love you.”

I like you.

Who you are; what you stand for.

I like the essence of the personal you.

I like you here and now.

Right now—the way you are with me.

I like you.

I like me with you.

You provide a comfort level

For me to be me.

I like you.

I miss you.

I think I’m missing me!