Evolution by Langdon Smith

National Geographic

National Geographic

 Evolution (excerpts)

By Langdon Smith (1858-1908)

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
In the Paleozoic time,
And side by side on the ebbing tide
We sprawled through the ooze and slime,
Or skittered with many a caudal flip
Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
My heart was rife with the joy of life,
For I loved you even then…

…Mindless we lived and mindless we loved
And mindless at last we died;
And deep in the rift of the Caradoc drift
We slumbered side by side.
The world turned on in the lathe of time,
The hot lands heaved amain,
Till we caught our breath from the womb of death
And crept into life again…

…Thus life by life and love by love
We passed through the cycles strange,
And breath by breath and death by death
We followed the chain of change.
Till there came a time in the law of life
When over the nursing sod
The shadows broke and the soul awoke
In a strange, dim dream of God…

…Then as we linger at luncheon here
O’er many a dainty dish,
Let us drink anew to the time when you
Were a tadpole and I was a fish.

These excerpts are from the intoxicating poem “Evolution” by Langdon Smith, in which we are along for the ride with two beings inhabiting simple-celled organisms. They are connected to each other endlessly through the ebb and flow of life. This poem invokes the same feeling for me which I have on the few occasions I have wandered into a cemetery, for the sole reason of visiting the cemetery. Standing there, you feel the quiet of so much life that came before you, you understand you will be quiet, and life will continue. It’s very peaceful and comforting, a much better way to see things than with fear and worry.  Enjoy the full version of the poem.


8 Books I Would Not Save

Since I’ve been ruminating over which 8 books I’d save (the favorites come to mind quickly), I’ve remembered some I would throw over the deck first, if it were either the books or someone’s life. This is just my personal preference, they’re all quality stories, well-written,  (except for #4) with huge followings. Each book listed here is so popular, I really had to wonder at the time why I didn’t “get it.” Older and wiser, I think we all are entitled to preference.

Book 1. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Not a page-turner for me, I was unable to make it to the all-important halfway mark! A GUY I liked in college loved this book and I couldn’t connect with it. Could have helped the small talk.

Book 2. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I just couldn’t slug through to the end (but I LOVE Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). I felt so confused at the time. How could I defy Oprah this way? I’m over that.

Book 3. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Gratuitous violence amid otherwise decent plot development. I was not compelled to finish the series, which is annoying.

Book 4. Twilight by someone, I’m not going to take the time to look it up. I read enough to say I can’t believe the world needed this when it has the magnificent Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.

Book 5. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. I understood it, I just didn’t like it. It strikes me now that people aren’t still talking about it. Wouldn’t that be the mark of a really excellent book, to be popular years later, after its initial hoopla?

Book 6. Eragon by Christopher Paolini. I turned all 528 pages, just so I could talk dragon with kids who might need that. No one has ever needed that. I love that a kid wrote it, however.

Book 7. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. It just fell flat for me, like they were wax people, which was probably the mood he was attempting to strike. I even tried the movie (gasp!) and couldn’t get through that. I feel numb. I could watch Leonardo DiCaprio, himself watching tv, and think he was brilliant portraying that role.

Book 8. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. This one pains me the most. Stephen King loves it, and I understand why. The writing is so beautiful and it pulls you in, but so much so that you forget what he was talking about in the first place. I couldn’t get through it, and I’ve heard it has a disappointing ending.

You know, I really love books. Thank goodness for variety. What would this world be if we all liked the same things? Is there any one book everyone would agree is excellent? It’s doubtful. I respect that all of these books were a labor of love and their publication is a feat for the author, to be applauded. Not everyone likes my writing, but some do. I understand that, but I sure feel like a hypocrite putting down any accomplished writer’s work!

I wish I were in a book club. Does anyone know of a good one on WordPress, or elsewhere online?

8 More Books I’d Save

I’ve thought of a loophole to allow me to save 8 more books, if that’s all I could save (in a hypothetical situation which would require that). I’m going to count my first list as my son’s choices. (This is invoking carry-on guidelines, in which each person, regardless of their size, gets one, and since we are two people and I have to carry everything, I get two) Here is my 2nd list:

8 (More) Books I’d Save (My More Grown-Up List)

1. Time and Again by Jack Finney. I have a thing for time travel and old buildings, set off, I believe, by Jack Finney. He also wrote Invasion of the Body Snatchers but this is nothing like that.

2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. I am mesmerized by the descriptions of old New York buildings and lifestyle. Reading it you feel transported.

3. Paradise by Toni Morrison. I love what critics of this book did not, the way Morrison goes in and out of time and scenes, past and present.

4. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In and out of time and space, ethereal, every word is necessary and beautiful. Absolutely the best book I’ve ever read. Therapy for verbal thinkers.

5. Insomnia by Stephen King. A good read!

6. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. His writing is creepy-fantastic, and he lives near me, so…

7.Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou. I was enthralled when I read her autobiographical series.

8. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. This book will open your eyes, incredible writing.

What book would you save?

The 8 Books I Would Save (Maya Angelou Please Forgive Me)

This really is an intriguing idea…if you could save only 8 books, which 8 would you choose? I’m picking up the idea from this blog, please check it out. When you’re done, maybe you’ll chime in with your choices. With all due respect to the millions of books that would not make it, here are my eight:

The 8 Books I’d Save

Book 1: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It’s the only fiction book I’ve ever read 3 times.

Book 2: Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. It’s the most fun book, ever.

Book 3: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I haven’t read it, and I think that’s overdue.

Book 4: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Kids need it.

Book 5: Odyssey by Homer.

Book 6: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Girls need it. It would somehow carry the spirit of American writer Edith Wharton who would, in turn, carry the spirits of English writers Jane Austen and Emily Bronte through as well.

Book 7: The Pursuit of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. Maybe not, he could write it again.

Book 8: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. History and adventure. It would carry the spirit of American Authors Poe, Faulkner and Frost.

My apologies to Shakespeare and Stephen King. You were both “bumped” by Odyssey. My deepest, most extravagant apologies to one of my favorite authors, Toni Morrison. I had to think of the kids. The world needs all of you. Please share your choices, even if it’s only one or two. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


I’m not very hungry

I’m not very hungry, but everyone knows
if you want to be thin
you really must get your breakfast in

I’m not very hungry, I had a McMuffin
but it’s important to have a healthy snack
like a sweet apple…prevents heart attacks

I’m not very hungry, we had an office party
I didn’t want to be rude so I had cake before my entree,
skipped my veggies and ate in a hurry

I’m not very hungry, ‘cuz on the way homeIMG_1017
My belly was grumbling (for pizza with the works)
picked up a slice, now my stomach’s berserk

I’m not very hungry, was too full for salad
That’s a good sign, this really is working!
(until I sat up snacking and watching videos of people twerking)

I’m not very hungry, woke up with a full belly
Hmmm…I don’t think it’s true after all about breakfast
Without it I would have eaten less, and been MORE hungry!

Passport to Living

Daily Prompt: A classic question, revisited: what are the five items you must have on a deserted island?

Foolish me, to think anything I possess would be of value to me on a desert island. Tarzan had no need for his father’s suit or photos of his parents holding him in a loving embrace. Would I want to bring photos, or would the images of loved ones be more vivid without a flat, static, image of them? My mind would conjure the scents and feel of them, but the paper would wither and fade. Perhaps I would be called to use it in the fire, desperate I would be at the mirage one evening of a passing ship. I would burn whatever was handy, and realize once the darkness closed in again that I was more utterly alone.

Would I bring a favorite book, to escape my own mind’s delusions? Would I read and remember the comfort of my childhood bedroom and laugh at the irony of man’s imagination, being sucked up into the belly of a whale. Surely, surrounded by marine life, I would come to see them as friends, perhaps nourishment in the web of all that is connected in the energy of life. Would I have a need for such imaginings? Without these fantastical trappings of civilization, wouldn’t I come into a more complete fullness of being, noticing the life all around me, rather than trampling and ignoring it? Surrounded by the cosmos of the ocean, air and beings and feeling the energy of the moon pulling on the tides, uninterrupted by the sights of cars and buildings, the threat of unnatural violence would fade. I would become a part of the Earth. I would be a field of unlimited energy.

Would I wish I had brought some medicine, some fishing line, a few vials of fresh water so I would not lose my mind, as happened to Pi when he was lost at sea? Did these items help him survive any more than he would have on his own? If I brought a gun would I hunt for food and sustain myself, or turn on that being I call myself, and end my misery?

The castaway learns to survive and eventually perishes, just like the rest of us will do who are surrounded by objects of need and longing. They bring us past or forward, but not in the here and now.  So, nah, I wouldn’t bring anything. It’s already there.

Daily Prompt: Five Items

Over the River – Thanksgiving Parody

In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, I think we ought to have ourselves a good laugh. Enjoy this heartwarming, cautionary tale of a classic family meal.

Over the Top and Through the Food

Over the top and and through the food
to Grandma’s table we go
We know it’s too much
we glut and stuff
our diets completely blown

Over the top and through the food
Oh, how family annoys us so!
They sting our pride
We stuff some pie,
I wonder who’s gonna blow?

Over the top and through the food
Can you make it just one day?
Another jab from Aunt Madeline,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the top and through the food,
Twitters are all the same!
Comfort in knowing
We’re all line-towing,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the top and through the food,
What a time to announce you’re gay.
Dad is working
on his scotch~
Dinner will have to wait!

Over the top and through the food~
Now for the dishes I sigh!
Hurrah for work!
To get away from that jerk.
Hurrah you survived this time!

The Original:

Over the River and Through the Woods

Over the river and through the wood
To Grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground
Like a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow~
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood~
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Beloved Author, 101, Dies in Avalanche

Daily Prompt: Six of One, Half Dozen of Another

“Beloved Author, 101, Dies in Avalanche”

It’s more of a news title than the actual story. Here’s an excerpt from the article, which will of course be printed in the New York Times:

“The beloved children’s author amused many generations with her frolicking prose and insightful wit. Her works are still enjoyed to this day by all ages who grew up reading her bestsellers, “One Small World” and “How To Survive School, The Woods and Your Parents.” She guided readers to see the humor in everyday situations and inspired a movement among young people to be active outdoors and treasure nature. Befitting her active lifestyle, the author died on tour in Austria while attempting to outrun an avalanche on a monoski. The video can be seen of the amazing event at the Guinness World Records site. It is believed she had a medical event which led to the avalanche catching up with her, as she was a fast alpiner. At 101, she broke several world records for mountaineering. Her son is the retired founder of Global Solar, the well-known expedition company providing global adventures in hybrid land/amphibian cycling vehicles. At the site, he commented, “My mom had a wonderful, full life. She left this world exactly the way she would have wanted to.”

Honestly, it could happen.

This Tree Is Me


This Tree Is Me

A maturing tree develops alongside a popular path, roots exposed, bracing many feet from falling on the often slippery earth. Though she would be more at ease off the path, leaves soaring to beat out others to the sky, here her roots will grow strong, and she will endure as shelter and guide for years to come.


Follow Your Dreams Or They’ll Beat You Down With A Stick

Success as a blogger is simple for me. It is to find and follow bloggers who inspire me emotionally and intellectually, so I was a success as soon as I began to find a little community. I’m inspired by the creativity I’ve witnessed, and that is saying a lot.  I am particularly thrilled that kids (teens old enough to blog!) have liked my stuff, it is reassuring to know I can still evolve my skills and have much to offer still after leaving teaching. This is my life’s work, and I can build on it rather than leave it behind. Thank-you blogging for offering me a medium to reach others.

Each like, I’ve noticed, is typically someone I share a common thread with (unless it’s a transparent internet marketer). Whether it’s another single mom, or another blogger with a similar upbringing or experiences, I keep delighting in that we are able to find one another. I also enjoy when people who I would typically never have the chance to connect with like my writing and when I’m exposed to new ideas. I had thought this is what teaching would offer, and it did, for a while. Education is a little beaten down now, and I need more than it had to offer, especially as a single parent. Monetary rewards just aren’t enough to make diminishing returns feels like a return .

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