Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Night Light


Not twice this day.
Inch time foot gem.
This day will not come again.
Each minute is worth a priceless gem.

-- Koan

Stepping outside after the fall of near dark. Rose and gold leaves shrugged off the beech and the Japanese maple glimmer on the damp pebbled walk in the soft light from the porch. I turn west along the sidewalk towards the corner and glide into the brief shadows of the cedars. Beyond their edges as I glance up. There, behind the nimbus of mist haloed around the streetlight, the new moon rises tilted like some open supplicating palm against the darkening last faint line of day far away.

Above the arc of the new moon I see, faintly, the orb of the Earth’s shadow dark against dark. I’m out on a very small errand for a quart of milk at the corner store. Only a few seconds, a few steps, in the night when going either to or from. And yet here I am, he we all are, for one more day of the Earth turning before the sun, for one more cycle of the moon turning around the Earth, in and out of the shadow obscuring and then revealing and the again obscuring its face, one of twelve that adds up to one more cycle of the Earth around its single star.

You say you don’t believe in grace, in miracles? Walk with me to the store in the glow from the night lights. Open your eyes. Open all your eyes. Look outside -- look beyond -- yourself. Behold.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 30, 2011 5:06 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Complete Thanksgiving in Under Three Minutes

HT: Miss Cellania


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 24, 2011 8:36 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Punks of 2011: Could Those Terribly Put-Upon Occupy Peppered Ones Tell Me Again About Their "Suffering"

Dear Occupy Punks, This is what real street battles look like....


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 23, 2011 1:55 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
I Always Have a Nice GREAT! Day

It's gray. It's drizzling. It's all socked in inside Seattle. It's as clammy as the slick insides of a gutted salmon. The sun has issued a signed affidavit that it will never, ever, shine again. It's so cold and damp that it's depressing the kindergartners at the school across the street. They're having milk and mood elevators. Instead of napping, they're going on the nod. Even the slugs are complaining about the rain and the finest forest flowers are all blooming inside the moss. It's not a nice day. Nope. But that's still what the woman at the cash register at the store on the corner has to ask me as I let her wand my coffee and doughnut to the beat of the beep.

"How is your day going? Is it a nice day?" she asks. She always asks that. She has to ask that. They all have to ask that. It's a retail option that somehow got made into a federal regulation. I got used to not hearing it and grunting my "It's okay" back long ago.

How was my day then? Was it a nice day then? I guessed that it was. Even if it wasn't I usually said that it was. Saved on the brain cycles. Who wanted to know? Not the person who was asking, that was for sure.

"How is your day? / Have a nice day." Post-modern mantras to the mediocrity of life. "Have a ho-hum day" was what they meant if they meant anything at all. And I did. Most days. Most of those old days.

But that was before I was dead. After being dead I've noticed a sea change into something rich and strange when it comes to the days that now unfold. I never have a "nice" day anymore. Instead I always have a "GREAT" day.

Now I might have some moments of anxiety, some instants of insecurity, some passing seconds of sadness.... all those and more. I'm no Pollyanna. But try as I might I can't get them to add up to a "bad" day. There's just too much in a day, it seems to me, for everything to be ruined by a bit of bad here and a soupcon of sad there. If it ever starts to trend too much that way, I just remember some of my really great days before I was dead and, poof, the gloom and doom of now just evaporates.

Displacement or denial? Maybe. Maybe not. It's up to you. Have a nice GREAT! day.

"I can remember what the people did,
Way back when I was a little kid.
They didn't ask you to be always high,
They just said, "thank you" and "goodbye."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 21, 2011 9:21 AM | Comments (22)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Waiting for Not-O

You can get as uptight and concerned about Newt, Mitt, Herman, Rick, Ron, Michelle, and all the others that you want. I’m taking a nap. You can follow the up-trend, the down-trend, the around-the-bend-trend, or the down and out and flushed away trend. I’m kicking back on the beach. You can follow the come back, the back down, the buck up and the suck up to your heart’s content. I’m rolling into the hammock for the duration. You can get uptight, out of sight, bent out of -- or bent into -- shape. I’m taking the seventh inning stretch for months. You can be pissed off, pissed on, or just pissed. I’m staying high and dry.

The long or the short of it all is that between now and the elections almost one year from now the frantic antics and the doings and undoings of whomever the Republicans nominate for president can be spun until you come all undone.... and it won’t make one thin dime’s worth of difference to me. You know right now if you’ve got a smidgen of a scintilla of the sense God gave a goober that you will vote for that candidate and against Barack Obama come hell or high water. And if you know that, knowing who is really just a detail. Vlad the Impaler? Sounds like he's got just the accessory those Occupiers need.

Me? I know I am voting for NotO. It came over me today like a thunderclap. And now that I know it I also know that I can relax about this whole circus that’s currently being spun around the “nominating” “process.” Why? Because now that I know I’m voting for the candidate no matter who -- or even what -- it is, I don’t care who -- or what -- it is. As long as it can be categorized as “Not Obama,” I’m for it. That’s a very relaxing thought. All I need to do now is just kick back and wait for election day. All this other stuff is simply postmortem effects and the noise made by beating cold dead horses on dull old anvils. Wake me when it’s time to vote. Until then just refill my pina colada from time to time. Thanks.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 20, 2011 6:15 PM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mila Kunis @ The Marine Corps Ball

The Proposal -- Accepted Back in June:

The Promise Kept:
Sgt. Scott Moore and his guest, actress Mila Kunis stand during the National Anthem at the 236th Marine Corps birthday ball for 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division in Greenville, N.C., on Friday Nov. 18, 2011. -- Daily scoreboard ォ Don Surber

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 20, 2011 4:22 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Rose Among Thorns

"Look not too long in the face of the fire, O man! Never dream with thy hand on the helm! Turn not thy back to the compass; accept the first hint of the hitching tiller; believe not the artificial fire, when its redness makes all things look ghastly. To-morrow, in the natural sun, the skies will be bright; those who glared like devils in the forking flames, the morn will show in far other, at least gentler, relief; the glorious, golden, glad sun, the only true lamp- all others but liars!

"Nevertheless the sun hides not Virginia's Dismal Swamp, nor Rome's accursed Campagna, nor wide Sahara, nor all the millions of miles of deserts and of griefs beneath the moon. The sun hides not the ocean, which is the dark side of this earth, and which is two thirds of this earth. So, therefore, that mortal man who hath more of joy than sorrow in him, that mortal man cannot be true- not true, or undeveloped. With books the same. The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe. "All is vanity." ALL. This wilful world hath not got hold of unchristian Solomon's wisdom yet. But he who dodges hospitals and jails, and walks fast crossing graveyards, and would rather talk of operas than hell; calls Cowper, Young, Pascal, Rousseau, poor devils all of sick men; and throughout a care-free lifetime swears by Rabelais as passing wise, and therefore jolly;- not that man is fitted to sit down on tomb-stones, and break the green damp mould with unfathomably wondrous Solomon.

"But even Solomon, he says, "the man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain" (i.e. even while living) "in the congregation of the dead." Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee; as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar." -- Moby Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville - Chapter 96 - The Try-Works

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 14, 2011 6:00 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On Sunday Morning One Month After Death


This morning at Atilla's The Weekend Word: Rejoice she has chosen Psalm 118. Why she has done so is a mystery to me, but then of late many things once clear and obvious have become mysteries to me. Many things but not Psalm 118. Psalm 118 is clear and obvious to me when I read:

The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.

For me on this Sunday morning this is as true and as up close and as personal as a bit of scripture gets.

You see it was one month ago today that I lay down on my bed, died there, had my body pulled out of the bed and onto the floor of the kitchen five minutes later, my sternum and ribs pounded without mercy by a series of strong men, a tube rammed down my throat and into my trachea, and then my chest shocked and shocked again until I was, through His Grace, returned to life.

You can call this a miracle, as I do, since "luck" had nothing to do with it and the hand and will of God everything. And like some half-price, knock-off Lazarus in old jeans and a faded t-shirt I have returned to tell thee:

The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
And I will also say, in the words of Psalm 118,
Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:
This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.
I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

That last phrase, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it,” was carved into a stone wall near the entrance of my daughter’s school when she was very young. I saw it several times a week across a year or so and always thought it a “nice sentiment.” These days I think of it as an imperative and I endeavor to stand every morning on my porch and spend a few moments in prayer watching the dawn rise up over the roofs and in the windows of the neighborhood.

Psalm 118 is evidently not the only Psalm to play a role in my life in this last month in which the door of my life swung on its hinges. According to the woman who was staying with me when I died and who noticed I had stopped breathing and who called 911 and the people who returned me to life (Yes, that would be the woman who saved my life), she also heard in the background as my body was being beaten, pummeled, shocked and stirred back into breath, heartbeat and the light, the 23rd Psalm being recited somewhere in the room at the time. Recited by whom? By no one, by everyone, by something, by some Presence.... she’s not sure but she is sure she heard it.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

As it has and as it does... every moment of every day when I am mindful enough to see it; a mindfulness I am trying to learn.

For what reason and for what purpose was I returned? Perhaps it is just to know the day and to praise it as, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” I do not know if it is that or more than that, but I pray that, in time, I shall find out.

Today, all I can tell you for certain is that this morning, one month after death, is as fine and as bright a morning as any I’ve seen and hope to see. Get up. Go outside. Take a look. Take a good look.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 13, 2011 7:58 AM | Comments (31)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Next Slide" -- General Welsh's Speech to USAFA

Fifty minutes and worth every second. HT: Curmudgeonly

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 12, 2011 11:39 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On Idiot Repug Pundits Running Amuck


Sorry but I’m not sold by this morning’s autofornication festival among the pundit Republicans. They’ll have to try much harder to convince me they are anything other than blood simple and bone stupid. From a glance around the sphere I take it that because Rick Perry didn’t have bad Fed agency number 3 dripping off the tip of his tongue that he’s out of the game. Is that the deal? Is that the requirement? Is that the one item that undoes the incontrovertible success of years of successful governance? Really? If that's what you think join the ever lengthening Republican line to tongue kiss Barack Obama.

I don’t think the end of the Perry candidacy has been reached for one single solitary rooten-tooten moment. Indeed I think that those who are whipping out their “He’s Toast” fork are only competing for the Drool Cup awards of 2011. To my mind, not being able to come up with the necessary smooth palaver 99.9999% of the time is a positive recommendation to the office of President. Indeed I don’t know why the current field of Repubs subject themselves to these “anything but debates” debates time after time. I don’t notice the current resident doing so and, if anyone is unfit to be president, it’s the current resident.

Or have we some how all forgotten how clueless Obama actually is when it comes to things like basic arithmetic, the history of the United States of America, the history of Europe, the state of Israel, capitalism, and a dozen other items he knows zip, zero, nada about? Is that it? Do we think that the his three years of being in the job has actually made him less stupid? Is that how stupid we've become?

In the past week death loving Republicans and those who would kill Republicans have worked together hand in glove to damage at least two of those running in this mug’s game leading up to Iowa. They’ve done a great job repeating and magnifying slander when it comes to Herman Cain, and now a similar host seem to want to make people believe that Rick Perry is also somehow “unfit.”

Really? All I can see are a bunch of bozos who don’t belong on the conservative bus spending a lot of time free-riding everyone towards certain defeat. Excuse me if I don’t buy into the blather this AM. It’s beyond stupid. It’s vintage DUMBTH. It’s typical Republican. You know, the losers.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2011 6:12 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Konservative Kwandary: A Comment


SCOTT M COMMENTING IN "Liberals barely glance at the black conservative hanging in the courthouse square. Nothing new to see here," writes:

"Conservatives are confused and charge liberals of hypocrisy because conservatives are looking at the world from their internal perspective. Once you understand and ACT as if you recognize liberals act in furtherance of their power, and use all situations toward that goal, it's much easier to understand the liberal world. NOW, NAACP, PETA, etc, they will each demand destruction of their constituents if that is what advances liberal hegemony.

"When conservatives charge liberals with being hypocrites it's exactly like the rural goobers from Dirtpatch, Indiana charging the Three Card Monty players with dishonesty. YEH, that's the point of the game. Why didn't you know that before you started playing with them? Are you going to lecture the TCM players on good sportsmanship? Don't you think the TCM players are laughing at you while you tell them to give up the money from the game so they can win the admiration of those with middle-class values?

"If recognizing liberals as rank hypocrites was the way to victory, why are they still occupying civil society and all levers of power? Maybe "discovering" liberal are hypocrites and trying to convince conservative-minded people that acting in a conservative manner is consistent isn't a winning strategy? Maybe occupying liberal seats of power with disruptive behavior and hounding them at every waking moment works better? It sure worked to take over the culture.

"We outnumber liberals 2-1. But liberals get off their rears and do things. We tell each other our behavior and ideas are more pleasant and successful, and then ignore the fight until election day. We pretend if we win the election, we've won the argument and it's safe to go home. We are almost as weak and useless as our RINO officeholders. When you hide from liberals you surrender to liberals. Every moment of peace and comfort you allow liberals is a refuge liberals use to continue to ruin the country. Conservatives seem more interested in being right than achieving a victory. The people we are fighting with and the people we hope to win over are not logic and fact driven. If they were they would already be on our side. The moderates and independents, not to mention the Democrats, are the people that saw the 20th century and still aren't sure if big government statism is the answer to all of our problems. They don't lack for facts. They've avoided the facts. That's why they aren't conservative.

"You can't pick a candidate that will preempt liberal smears, so pick a candidate that will fight and win. Romney isn't electable. Romney is the man that lost to the man that lost to Obama. Conservatives are so afraid of a fight they hope to find a candidate that hits all the check marks so nobody will attack him. The desire for a candidate the libs can't attack should be proof your worldview is dysfunctional.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 9, 2011 11:26 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Patience Please

I am not a patient man. In counting from one to ten I tend to skip five, six, and seven. I've always had a great deal of difficulty comprehending the persistent gap between desire and gratification. When it comes to pleasure, “now” is always on a bit too much of a lag while pain “later” is never quite far enough removed. The only time that patience seems to be my strong point is when it comes to elective pain. In that case, procrastination is my destination.

I know that “Patience is a virtue,” but only because I was assured it was thousands of times by my mother while growing up. She would inevitably follow her remonstration with the phrase, “And virtue is its own reward.” It took me decades to catch the sardonic tone to her voice on that one, but not nearly as long to determine that while virtue may be “its own reward,” I never made a dime off the deal. I guess when it came to long-term investments in virtue I was always too impatient. My mother saw early on that the solid career opportunities implied by the term “Swiss Watch Repairman” were probably not for me.

Not having the gene or the genius for patience, the virtue of it eluded me for many decades. It is only in the last few weeks that the virtue of patience is beginning to dawn on me. That virtue is, “If you are patient with yourself, you may live. If you insist on running the 4 minute mile this afternoon, you will be checked out of here in a wicker basket.” In short, “patience” is no longer an option but a requirement. My previous reaction to illness has been to get over it and then get back to work. No such option here. There’s no “getting over it,” there is only “re”-“covery” -- a kind of slow tempo cover of the Beatles’ “Get Back.”

Want to walk around the block at a decent clip? Tough. Walk to the end of the block and back slowly first. Repeat it about 20 times over 20 days. Then go for the round the block.

Want to sleep through the night? Tough. Sleep for 60 minutes, get up, stretch. Lay back down carefully, carefully... now sleep for another 60 minutes. Rinse, repeat.

Want to take a bath? Really? Are you strong enough and healed enough in your upper arms and upper chest muscles that you can actually pull yourself out of the tub? No? Better keep up those showers then. Patience. Patience. Patience.

Don’t feel immortal? Don’t feel like you’ve got oceans of time left to you? Tough. Waste it on getting slowly, slowly, better. Otherwise you will have less time in the long run. Patience please. Patience.

A glance at the literature counseling patience reveals a host of stern admonishments such as :

Patience! why, it is the soul of peace; of all the virtues it is nearest kin to heaven; it makes men look like gods. The best of men that ever wore earth about Him was a Sufferer,— a soft, meek, patient, humble, tranquil spirit; the first true gentleman that ever breathed. -- Thomas Decker
I don’t know about you but that sort of thing sets my teeth on fire. I just have no patience for that sentiment.

And yet.... and yet.... I must. What I want is no longer in the driver’s seat, but what I need. And what I need is patience... patience enough to learn how to be at last... patient.

"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Pace, John Milton. Here I stand. I can do no other. Maybe I am not learning “patience”so much as I am, finally, learning “Not my will, but Thine.” Either way it's a long hard lesson. You need to be patient to learn it.

Time to take a walk to the end of the block and back.

Slowly. Patiently.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 6, 2011 11:20 AM | Comments (21)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Cain Perplex: Here’s What I Misunderstand So Far

There might have been sex or there might have been autofondling, or fondling in an auto. It was a he or a she or an it that the unsourced source might have seen being fondled or spoken to or otherwise sexually bareassed or harassed or something fondling. The source or the non-source or the source of the source said he, she -- or even it -- was getting into a cab or a rickshaw or a refrigerator box that was hanging around Herman Cain sometime in the mid to late 1990s. Some say it was a Herman Cain branded cab. Some say Cain was driving it, or in the trunk, or making weird statements about the person that may or may not have been getting into the cab after Cain slipped them the sekrit sex sign which would be a chin wag with the hand.

Others say it was an unsourced cab aka a TAXI. Pa-Yammas Media was reporting something about something about someone who might have seen or said something sometime somehow that included Herman Cain in the deep background playing a harmonica. The Pa-Yammas story required corrections and retractions but it only got corrections which were, in the final analysis, inncorrect.

Bottom line: Herman Cain was a Republican and a black man which made him fit for immediate deblacking. Something or someone got into some cab somewhere at some time in the late 1990s and went back to Herman Cains’ home, apartment, condo, mansion, pizza parlor, Airstream trailer, neighborhood, city, state, region, or planet. He, she or it stayed there for a minute, an hour, overnight, or perhaps longer or shorter, and was seen at work the next day looking like he, she or it was at work. Of all this our reporters are absolutely sure except when we are not and need to issue a correction. And another correction. And another. Stay tuned. This just in...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 4, 2011 9:26 AM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Hearts are amazing personalities:" Of Nurses, Hearts, and Healing


As I have mentioned in passing, the middle and end part of last month was marked, at least for me, by my heart stopping dead and then being restarted by a series of brilliant and wonderful people. For the time it was stopped I was, as they say, dead.

What that means I have, so far, little to say and a lot to learn. And the learning -- since this process is not a “cure, but a “recovery” -- is something that takes a lot of time, comes slowly, almost as slowly as I now walk to the corner store. What once took me a minute now takes three to five. That’s neither good nor bad, but just the way it is when you are returned to life.

In the few moments that I’m at my peak I am learning, still slowly, what happened and what I can expect. In this I am aided by a host of friends and relatives so numerous that I am amazed to find myself at the center of such a cloud of caring. I asked what I ever did to deserve friends and family like this and I learn that deserve has nothing to do with it; this is just how many people are made.

One of these people is a cousin in the Southwest who has spent decades as a trauma and cardiac nurse. Yesterday she mailed me some of her thoughts about lives and hearts and nursing learned across the decades. There’s no improving on them. Presented here for your perusal:

”I was touched when you talked about nurses, how they go to work and save lives... well sort of.  I can tell you from now decades of being a nurse/paramedic/healthcare person, that we are really just technicians.  We learn the steps to take, the drugs to give, the rhythms that are the story of a heart getting better.

”What sets a lot of us apart is that we really CARE about the person in the bed, on the exam table, walking down the hall with the IV's swinging.  And with the caring, there is some intangible part of that nurse that connects with the essence of the patient. It's a will to live that is found within the patient, and really good nurses know how to appeal to that will to coax it out.  But the healing is something that comes from within. I was continually amazed to see who was able to live through the ICU or ER experience, and who wasn't.    We nurses can guide the energy, show it how to move again, take away some of the pain, but the healing is the Work the patient must do.

”Hearts are amazing personalities.  I've seen many during heart surgeries -moving around in a chest under bright lights while surrounded by blue drapes as if they were actors on a stage.  They resembled little animals that wanted to scurry around on their own.  They are very selfish too, giving themselves oxygenated blood before the rest of the body can have any.  And they are at the center of our being. "Into the Silence" is a wonderful piece - your descriptions resonate with what I know about that space between being and not being.  And for healing, one needs to start at that place.

”In the true healing, there is a necessary letting go, something that is not always easy to do.  The obvious losses will be Lady T and all her smoke, some lifestyle changes, but there will be less obvious letting go - of the way you used to define yourself, a letting go of impatience with healing as Mr. Heart will let you know if you go too fast. The healing takes time. It's a different sort of work than you've ever had to do.  It's getting to the core of you and finding the  acceptance of a body that is different from what you've had these last decades, acceptance of a different routine for everyday life.”

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2011 1:02 PM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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