“There’s Quicksand in that Pond!”

Anzio veterans helmets and flags by a bronze statue on the square. Skinned knee brownies a Decoration Day confederacy crawls up Medina Street Methodist parade. Thunderbird bicycles convertible beer cans now three months in right field sunburns.  35 millimeter popcorn cemeteries 35 cent paperback salutes. Fainting at attention for elderberry pie howitzer prayers on a Briggs and Stratton dream. IMG_1993

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Down To the Gauley To Pray

Daddy hates snakes. Hates them.


I see a few of the church elders poke along the river bank as they overturn rocks and logs. This reminds me of how Daddy despises the serpent, all serpents. I was with him once coming home from Tea Creek when we spied a thick black racer crossing the service road that had been bulldozed for the logging crew. Black snakes aren’t even poisonous; didn’t matter to Daddy. He backed the truck up, shifted into first, and slowly turned up the lane, following the fat reptile to its doom. I felt the bump as the right front tire wheeled over the luckless beast. I shivered, as if I had stepped on the snake myself, barefoot. Daddy got out to inspect his kill, and with the elation of a cheerleader after a touchdown he grabbed his hat, slapped his leg with it as he yelled, “I got you, ya son of a bitch!” And to be sure, he backed his Ford over the limp snake again as we resumed our trip home, to Horse Ridge.

As I watch these men, Delbert Baber and Walter Dobson and two others whom I don’t know, scour the bank of the Gauley opposite me and Preacher Burnell, I am surprised as to how little they know about snakes. It’s only mid-April, the day after the ramp feed at Richwood High School. It could still snow next week here in these mountains. And now, the sun has hardly risen above the ridge. It’s just not warm enough to move any snake to sun themselves on the river bank, especially rattlers, and I know that’s what they’re huntin’. Faye says they take them out of boxes sometimes during services at the church, pass them around for folks to hold as they shout praises. Some folks talk real excited, real fast, like in a foreign language. And to think, people say it’s creepy to hear our priest talk in Latin at church when I go with Mom to mass at Sacred Heart.

Faye is the reason I’m standing here in this frigid river. A year younger than me, she has dark eyes, long hair as black as mascara, and firm legs as stout as a coal miner. We’ve been sweet on one another and I’ve been walking her home, up on Orchard Heights, after school. From her house, off Greenbrier Road, you can see all of Richwood. Well, her parents ain’t keen on me yet, ‘cause I’m a Catholic. She thinks if I go with her to prayer meeting they’ll soften. I’m happy to be with her, but it means getting home late, walking up Horse Ridge after dark. The Bragg family attends the Church of the Holiness Pentecost with Signs Following, down in Little Laurel. I see some rough folk worship there, and they don’t sit much, but I like the piano and guitars and singin’. It’s an old wood frame, one-room building with crutches hanging on the wall, crutches discarded when the crippled regained their ability to walk after the laying of hands. I never did see any snakes at the meetings, but Faye told me about it and I know that’s what these boys are shakin’ rocks and logs for now, to grab some timber rattlers and copperheads for their bag.


Mom don’t know I’m here today, about to be dipped into the river and baptized, washed of my sins in praise of the lord. I got up while it was still dark and walked into town, for Faye to pick me up at the Pure gas station on Oakford Avenue. She drove us out of town through LaFrank, Fenwick, Holcomb and Curtain, and here just a couple hundred yards downstream from where the Cherry River drops into the Gauley. Preacher Burnell Truman likes this swimming hole for his baptisms. Some of the church folk started to arrive, including Holly Caldwell, who’s out of the penitentiary in Moundsville, out on parole after 21 years for murdering his brother. Everyone up on Cranberry Ridge knows Holly. He was drafted during the war, so he hid out. Folks on the ridge said he’d go about his business wearing a dress, tryin’ to fool the Army that he was a woman. The only reason they caught him was he took out his .38 during a disagreement with his brother Ed and shot him dead. So Holly and I begin life with renewed spirits in just a few minutes. Can’t be soon enough. It is cold, and I’m stripped to my swim trunks and sneakers up to my waist in this river.


The light is such that you only see as the sun rises on mountains in the green of spring. There’s a slight mist hanging over the river. I hear warblers whistling from a nearby rhododendron thicket, woodpeckers barking over each other on a decaying sycamore. I see kingfishers floating over the stream, and a big blue heron scooped a fish from a pool along side a boulder as big as a garage on the river bank. And perched on that boulder was Faye Bragg, about to witness me get dunked below the flowing waters. She smiled and waved, a gesture that made me forget how cold I was.

The holy ritual proceeds first with Holly, the prodigal sinner eager to repent. Preacher Burnell pulls on his waders, the pair he wears when he casts for brook trout up on Cranberry. The gray, waist-high boots match the color of his suit jacket. His neck-tied collar looks a couple sizes too big for his neck. I see his wire-rimmed eyeglasses start to fog as he enters the Gauley and pulls his hat snugly over his high forehead. The King James New Testament in his right hand, with a nasally drawl, he reads:

“And now, brother Holly, knowing that you give your heart to the Lord Jesus, and that you are resting entirely on His finished sacrifice for your salvation…” I see him raise his left hand and plant it on Holly Caldwell’s nose, pinching his nostrils…”I baptize you in the name of The Father and The Son and The Holy Ghost.” And as the consonant “ghost” escaped the preacher’s nose he pushed Holly’s head backward under the surface of the stream.

By now a couple dozen cars and trucks have parked and 40 or so church people have arrived to witness. A collective “Amen” arises accompanied with many cries of “Praise Jesus.” And I am next. Brother Holly has returned to dry land with his daughter swaddling him in a blanket. A crow cackles nearby. Preacher guides me by the shoulder as the surface of the Gauley ripples by. He repeats the same litany, “And now brother James, knowing that you have given your heart to the Lord Jesus…” I turn my head slightly to get a glimpse of Faye, still perched on the boulder overlooking the holy pool of baptism. But wait, what’s HE doing there? Next to her? Holding her hand? I know who he is, but I don’t know him. He’s Argil Hanna, a couple years older than us, and he just quit school to join the marines. And he gives her a kiss, and Faye kisses back, and then repeats this kiss again, longer. Wait, she’s MY girl. She’s not even paying attention to my imminent submersion into salvation…”and that you are resting entirely on His finished sacrifice…” the minister continues.

I bolted out of the water.

I heard Preacher prattle on, completing his sentence before it occurred that there was no one present to save. By this time I had climbed out of the river bed and was racing up Route 41, running on the very pavement beyond Curtain, towards Holcomb. I’m running away from a horror never expected, a girl, my girl, but no longer my girl at all. I’m shirtless. I’m wearing soaked swim trunks and worn Chuck Taylors. I want home.

To save time I leave the highway at Holcomb to take the shortcut up Morris Creek, we call it Holcomb Hollow, uphill all the way to our place on Horse Ridge. The gravel road narrows to a dirt tractor trail, to a footpath along the creek, through the laurel and scratchy blackberry bushes. I reach the top of the ridge, climb out of a patch of poplar and oak and over the barbed wire fence into our back pasture at home. It’s not yet noon. I’ve been up for eight hours, I’m wet, scratched and blistered. Daddy sees me crossing the yard. He’s waving a hoe up over his head, like a greeting signal. He hollers “I got me another one,” and shows off a freshly beheaded timber rattlesnake that he’d decapitated with a garden hoe. hoe

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Rebecca Bishop, hot chocolate, and “CAFFEINE COMMUNION”

This interview with Rebecca, April 18, 2018, started in Cafe Brioso, then moved across Gay Street to Cafe Phenix, where proprietor Gary delighted us with authentic, dairy-based, rich hot chocolate.

Rebecca Bishop Apr 18 BriosoPhenix

A longtime avid supporter of matters-downtown-Columbus, she was on her way to a Downtown Residents Association of Columbus (DRAC) meeting, where she serves as a board member. I hope they’re familiar with the Cafe Phenix menu!

Rebecca is an educator; “It’s my nature to help and develop people. I have an innate skill to teach or train almost any occupation.” As a current means toward this end she’s working fulltime while she pursues studies in a Masters academic program. Her experience includes teaching at the secondary level, pre-school and Headstart. She’s also an experienced hospitality event planner.

She adds that her favorite time of the week is Sunday morning, her time, with coffee, the NY Times and CBS Sunday Morning.

CORE VALUES: Here Rebecca quotes an Old Testament verse that has long-guided her, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” -Micah 6:8. Justice, humility, and peace-making. She also displays a poster at home of Max Ehrmann’s poem “Desiderata.” as a source of inspiration.

Rebecca’s Current mission to EFFECT CHANGE: As she earns her Masters she is preparing to “open her own experiential learning center to teach self-sustaining growing practices, such as rooftop gardening, animal husbandry,” and the like.

EARLIEST MEMORY: At about age 4, visiting Geauga Lake in northeast Ohio in a station wagon with her mother, brother and cousin and realizing she and her cousin were wearing identical outfits.

Her FEELING of HUMAN CONNECTEDNESS: This feeling, for Rebecca, refers to the strength of her bond with her daughter, now living in Chicago. “I feel complete when we’re together, my most connected. When she suffers, I suffer; when she’s wounded, I’m angry and protective” She adds, “I’m a big fan of marriage, it may be one of the best things I can do.”

Her presence on the spectrum of SCARCITY/ABUNDANCE? “I’m right in the middle at this time; I’ve been at both ends but now I have the promise of abundance.”  Rebecca includes her bond with her daughter as evidence of this abundance.

Rebecca’s proverbial “BOX” that we’re often encouraged to THINK OUTSIDE OF: Two boxes: 1) She broke out of a model she was raised within, that as a woman, she needs to be married. 2) Her self-imposed fear of failure, causing self-doubt. She escaped this box with a series of moments to re-affirm her confidence, i.e., as she matures she experiences organic transformation.

Source of IDEAS, her MUSE: “Being in nature, listening to music…and Hallmark greeting cards.”

On UNCERTAINTY: Rebecca “worries about it less…used to feel the onset of uncertainty as panic, but learned to not limit options by not attempting to find an immediate solution for her uncertainty. Imaginative options do arise in this period of rest, “by taking a non-reactive pause I’m preventing paralysis. The universe offers  options because I’ve trained myself to allow options.”

Henceforth 5-YEARS ahead, 2023: “I expect to fulfill my goal of achieving my education business and buying a farm.” Rebecca is optimistic of the future, since technology has provided tools to communicate and mobilize so quickly to leverage cultural change and she suspects this younger generation will do just that.

ANCESTORS: Rebecca can name her great-grandparents and would like to do further research.

And finally, Rebecca…WHATCHA READIN’? As a student, a lot of education professional journals. For pleasure, re-reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. And she’s downloaded Mel Robbins’ THE 5 SECOND RULE. So here’s the one-liner definition of the 5 second rule:
“If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.”

Thank You, Rebecca, for your time and interview.
Let’s schedule a meeting, SOON, to get acquainted and conduct your interview for “CAFFEINE COMMUNION: Encounters with Paradigm Pioneers.”
Reach me with email at jim1coe@gmail.com
or text/phone (614) 440-1445.
Please add your comments in the box below; any review or critique is welcome.


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“Bring an umbrella,” Ruth Sternberg tells “CAFFEINE COMMUNION”

If you are, or have been active working within the profession of not-for-profit organizations, you might know Ruth. We first met at an Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) luncheon, circa 2008. More recently, we got together downtown at Roosevelt Coffee March 31, 2018.

Ruth Sternberg 31 March

Her background is journalism, reporting for daily and weeklies in Columbus, Canton and Cleveland. In 2004 she co-founded the “New Standard,” a Columbus bi-weekly covering news and concerns for the local Jewish community. She served as executive editor.

She soon found her way into the non-profit sector, writing grants, and fundraising. She now is an independent contractor operating Polish-Publish.com, helping organizations and individuals with grants, newsletters and resumes. Passionate about the local arts community, she serves on the board of the Friends of the Cultural Arts Center, and Red Herring Theatre. And Ruth and her husband volunteer at Lifecare Alliance, delivering Meals-on-Wheels.

Planning a wedding? Ruth is a certified ceremonial celebrant, Ring and Rose.

And our interview proceeds…

CORE VALUES: “Integrity and respect are values that I hold highly, to respect others’ dignity. Every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Another value she tries to practice is “living now, in this moment.”

Current mission to EFFECT CHANGE: Trying to help fellow humans that she encounters on a daily basis.

EARLIEST MEMORY: At about age 2, in Pittsburgh, talking to her infant brother. And at 3, walking outside with a neighbor boy and getting picked up by her mother.

FEELING of HUMAN CONNECTEDNESS: Ruth feels “warmth” when she’s in a close connection with others.

Ruth’s presence on the spectrum of SCARCITY/ABUNDANCE? She states she’s clearly on “an abundance of love with her friends, her husband, and both their families.” She adds, “gratitude comes from my realization that in this country one can live and re-start their lives many times over.”

Her proverbial “BOX” that we’re often encouraged to THINK OUTSIDE OF: “My box is that voice in my head of how to behave, that I’m trying to over-ride. Our brain is molded in certain ways, not bad or good ways, just molded in certain ways. It’s a parental voice; I want that voice to go away. I don’t want to have an age, I just want to be Ruth. THE BOX IS FEAR!”

Her source of IDEAS, her MUSE: “I read, I talk to people of different backgrounds.” Ruth is stimulated by her environment.

On UNCERTAINTY: “It’s the only certainty. Understand the risks…BRING AN UMBRELLA!” Ruth refers to her maternal grandmother, Mildred, her practice of adaptability and resilience. “It’s so liberating when you realize you’re going to die.”

Henceforth 5-YEARS ahead, 2023: Ruth doesn’t anticipate much difference, but she has confidence in the younger generation.

ANCESTORS: Ruth can name her great-grandmother, and was fortunate enough to have her grandmother’s company until she was 45.

And finally, Ruth…WHATCHA READIN’? Ruth urged me to discover Arlene Schulman, notably her film, On Some Strange Mornings, about a man living with Alzheimer’s who cares for his mother with dementia. She also recommends DIGNITY, by Donna Hicks, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, by Anthony Doerr, A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW, by Amor Towles, and THE #1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY, by Alexander McCall Smith.

Thank You, Ruth, for your time and interview.
Let’s schedule a meeting, SOON, to get acquainted and conduct your interview for “CAFFEINE COMMUNION: Encounters with Paradigm Pioneers.”
Reach me with email at jim1coe@gmail.com
or text/phone (614) 440-1445.
Please add your comments in the box below; any review or critique is welcome.




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Chet Ridenour sharing “Block Talk” with “CAFFEINE COMMUNION”

#40 in this series of CAFFEINE COMMUNION interviews.

Chet suggested we meet at Bottoms Up Coffee Co-op in Franklinton, which was an agreeable opportunity to see Virginia & Josh, the owner/operators of this socially-conscious caffeine corner and co-work center with spaces for rent. We did this March 30, 2018.

Chet Ridenour Mar 30

Neither of us can remember specifically when we met, circa 2012, when he served as the Administrator of the Short North Civic Association. It could have been at the annual Goodale Park Summer Music series, or at a WCBE 90.5FM event, or perhaps Earth Day. In any event, it was before Chet joined Car2Go as Marketing Director in 2013. He is currently the general manager of our local fleet of vehicle-sharing smart cars ( 206 automobiles with a share-range of 25 square miles within the core of Columbus, serving over 29,000 members). FULL DISCLOSURE: I am an enthusiastic member.

Two features I remember from our first conversation, years ago:                                           1) Australian Rules Football, and                                                                                                     2) He invested eight months to backpack and return home from the Patagonia region of Argentina, where he had attended a wedding.

When you see Chet, ask him to tell you about them.

CORE VALUES:  Chet prioritizes his sense of family as foremost. He’s the oldest of three, and they gather at a Mexican restaurant every Saturday for dinner. He wears a dogtag around his neck with his parents’ and siblings’ names stamped on, and he credits them for inspiring and encouraging his values. “They’re my rock.” And, “my sense of equality is a huge value.” His work with Equality Ohio and the LGTBQ movement is “my generation’s civil rights issue.”

Current mission to EFFECT CHANGE: As a goal Chet set when he outlined his “Project Trece” in 2011-2012, his Goal #7 was “To engage, participate in and better my local community (Short North).” This starts with his particular block, west of Neil. Although he doesn’t technically reside within the Harrison West Society, he’s a member, representing “Harrison East.” Inspired by the last Big Table community conversations, as launched by the Columbus Foundation, he pledged to “connect to support his immediate community,” so he teams with neighbors with a block talk, “Wilber Wednesdays.” He’s now engaged in the current class of Leadership Columbus. A   project with his team of seven is coordinating with Columbus Foundation as a beta for a more expansive “BlockTalk.” Career-wise, Chet is effecting change, as his lead at Car2Go has tasked him to help weave the company into the “Cultural Fabric of Columbus.”

EARLIEST MEMORY: Playing with his sister and tunneling in deep snow as a child in Rapid City, SD.

Chet’s FEELING of HUMAN CONNECTEDNESS: “Complete comfort, confidence and trust with someone close, allowing to be real, honest, accepted.”

His presence on the spectrum of SCARCITY/ABUNDANCE? “I couldn’t be more grateful for the abundance in my life, my family, my friends…I’m the richest man in the world, if you measure wealth by the quality of friends.” Chet regards his church as his weekly dinners with his family.

Chet’s proverbial “BOX” that we’re often encouraged to THINK OUTSIDE OF: His box is “allowing life to happen,” and when he steps outside this constraint he’s empowered to “make life happen, to make his own decisions.”

Chet’s source of IDEAS, his MUSE: “Hero movies…Brave Heart, Top Gun, Dead Poets Society.” As he recalled the effect of that last film mentioned, Chet recited a passage of Walt Whitman’s elegy to the slain Lincoln…

“O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.”

He continues to tell me his MUSE is his desire to make a positive impact.

On UNCERTAINTY: “Control the controllables, cherish the time you have, tomorrow is not promised.”

Henceforth 5-YEARS ahead, 2023: Chet believes that advances in technology will connect people digitally but disconnect us personally. He hopes for a shift, a movement to focus more on face-to-face interactions. He pleased to anticipate the advances in transportation, notably with the Smart City application Columbus is developing.

ANCESTORS: Chet can name his great-grandparents; Harvey and Gertrude Ridenour migrated to US from Europe.

Finally, Chet…WHATCHA READIN’? BLUE ZONES, published by National Geographic Books. He also praises local authors Jason Barger, THERMOSTAT CULTURES, and Mark Henson, ORDINARY SUPERPOWERS.

Thank You, Chet, for your time and interview.
Let’s schedule a meeting, SOON, to get acquainted and conduct your interview for “CAFFEINE COMMUNION: Encounters with Paradigm Pioneers.”
Reach me with email at jim1coe@gmail.com
or text/phone (614) 440-1445.
Please add your comments in the box below; any review or critique is welcome.





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“I think they’re VC,” Tycer giggled. Laughing all the way to the rice paddies, and back.

Humor saved my life.


fatigued in Nam 1968

This is me at age 20, after several months in the Mekong Delta of the country that was then known as the Republic of Viet Nam. I appear exhausted, sleep-deprived, demoralized. Appearances deceive, although it’s true…I wasn’t sleeping a lot in those days. We were usually on nocturnal patrols and slept in shifts, on-and-off guard duty at the intersection of earthen dikes that kept water within the rice paddies.

Our mission: To disrupt any nighttime activity among the local natives, many of whom were Viet Cong, or, the invaders from the north in the form of the North Vietnamese Army regulars.

We were the invaders from America. And our mission was accomplished, on the micro- level of having disrupted any semblance of quiet nights in the tropics. There were no dark hours that didn’t have a soundtrack of Huey gunships flying near and away, .50-caliber machine gun fire from the horizon, 105mm artillery rounds exploding out of howitzers on the perimeters, and the distant rolling thunder of the Arc Light, our B-52s disrupting the Ho Chi Minh Trail just over the border in Cambodia. If the monsoon season had not yet arrived to blacken the night with constant rainfall, we could see the glow of the 500- and 1000-pound bombs as they were programmed to detonate a couple hundred feet above the target, to maximize the concussion and dispersal of steel fragments among the foot soldiers on the ground. Closer, we watch the animated dotted line of orange .30-caliber tracer rounds connect the airborne Cobra gunships to their target hidden among the mangrove palm along the river banks and canals. If we’re fortunate enough to get to pull duty within the base camp, there’s the crackling static of the radio telephones relaying status updates to battalion HQ, and the booming              WH-O-O-SH of the mortar tubes pitching 81mm containers of destruction a quarter-mile into the night.

Sleep-deprived, Roger that. But exhausted, demoralized? Nah…                                             we were appreciating too much humor in the absurdity.

Many of us had already read Joseph Heller’s CATCH 22 and Kurt Vonnegut’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, comparing the authors’ personal experiences in the European Theater of WW2 with our day-to-day fears and hijinks. We claimed the absurdity of killing in order to win the “hearts and minds” as a daily mantra.

Daytime for us in the Mekong Delta included strolls through village markets and the street vendors of the Long An provincial capital, Tan An. We found amusement with the barefoot boys outside their dirt-floor huts. And often copped sealed baggies of finely chopped local weed from silk-pajama’d cowboys on Lambretta scooters. I’d hitchhike up Highway 4 for a night in a Saigon hotel built during the colonial French occupation. One morning I awoke to see a lizard scaling down the plaster wall by the open window.

We witnessed the out-of-the-ordinary as a common occurrence. Once we found a severed hand. Often some barefoot boys called out to get our attention, “YOU-YOU,” to show us how they tethered a foot-long centipede to a length of twine, as if to walk their pet bug on a leash, almost as long as this…Giant Vietnamese Centipede

But the humor, for me, began before I arrived in-country, while I was in the air, October 31, 1968, en route to Cam Ranh Bay with over 200 other GIs. It was a somber bunch, very little conversation was heard, just sporadic jokes, subdued in volume. We all hoped that in 12 months we’d be in flight again, returning to “the world,” as our homeland was called. But below the grim surface of our expressions, we knew some  would be shipped home in caskets, a statistical certainty.

Except me. The flight was longer than any I’d ever flown, 18-hours or so, so I packed a book. The comic, Lenny Bruce, had not been cold in the ground for long, and his reputation as a martyr for free speech was still fervent. I brought along THE ESSENTIAL LENNY BRUCE, a compendium of his various nightclub shticks, and one in particular send me into convulsive guffaws and repetitive cackling. Lenny wrote a stand-up bit titled “Goldwater Talks to Negroes,” a verbal confrontation between a militant black activist and Senator Barry Goldwater, with Lenny mouthing the lines of both characters. It was hilarious, even when I re-read the script two, three, four more times, and every trooper on that Boeing 737 flying us westward to the East focused on my uncontrolled laughter.

lenny bruce

But I’m convinced that my ability to laugh and see humor in the mundane served as my guardian angel for the next seven months, until I was sent skyward by a the eruption of a buried grenade as I walked point on a daytime patrol in a clearing a little too close to resting NVA regulars and/or a hidden arms cache. I left some of my flesh in the dirt and got choppered out to a field hospital for treatment, but it was what we called a “Million Dollar Wound,” injured, incapacitated, but not maimed. My ticket back to “the world.”

Within two weeks of my plane ride with Lenny Bruce, once I was settled into my combat unit, one of my seasoned platoon-mates who had been in-country since the historic Tet Offensive that sucker-punched the US Armed Forces assured me one morning, as we returned to base from an overnight ambush patrol, that I’d be ok. “You’ll make it,” Dan Tycer confidently comforted me. He was right. Tycer had a sense of humor, too. On January 1, 1969, as the sun was just minutes shy of a New Year’s dawn, I lain on a paddy dike behind my M-60 as a column of 8-9 Vietnamese peasants approached our position. They seemed to us to be on the way back to their nearby hamlet. They were dressed as the local farming populace dressed, silk pajamas, long-sleeve tunics, straw hats. And they were armed with older rifles. One carried an RPG on his shoulder, a rocket-propelled-grenade effective as an anti-armored vehicle weapon. As they walked, they probably observed there were about 10-12 of us, most of whom were still sleeping as I was pulling guard duty. I’ll always wonder how they calculated their chances, as each and every one of them had to literally step over my machine gun, since I was at the junction of a Y-intersection of 3 dikes converging.

The patrol passed. My squad slowly stirred, but only one, Tycer, was aware of the potential peril that we just witnessed. I knew I didn’t want to pull the trigger, but I wondered if the Vietnamese would share my caution, once they walked far enough away to safely fire upon us. I was never sure of whose allegiance they held, Saigon’s or Hanoi’s. And Dan Tycer giggled, “I think they’re VC,” as he rolled over for final minutes to snooze.



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This is my water meditation

From anywhere I sit, at any time, wherever I am, I’m on the water.

Cranberry Sept 2017

It flows from a sponge of springs near a mountain summit in Pocahontas County WV, guided by gravity and topography down an unnamed stream, a branch of the Middle Fork of Williams River in the Cranberry Wilderness. This movement continues cutting the surface into the Gauley, the Great Kanawha, the Ohio and the Mississippi until it reaches the Gulf.

That is, some of it.

Along this path some of the water shifts to the shape of a gas, lighter than air, rising in the aether to join like-structured elements in clouds to condense and fall back to the planet, not merely to complete the circle but to extend this spiral of life for infinity.

This is my water meditation.

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