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An Earth Elder Speaks
Neil Curtis Krause

a Child of the AGAPE page


phone 928-649-6025


Luke 8:16 "Who ever heard of someone lighting a lamp and covering it up to keep it from shining? No, lamps are mounted in the open where they can be seen." . . So am I a lamp lighter? Hmmm, let me see: In my AGAPE piece KEEP IT BRIEF I passed on the report that the King's Wise Men held that "maybe" was a one word summary of all they knew plus the knowledge of their 10,000 books; in WELL SAID GEORGE I agreed with George Will's advice to contemplate - even to savor - the unfathomable strangeness of everything including ourselves; in A SECOND ROCK I noted Uncertainty as something which certainly surrounds us; in EMBRACING UNCERTAINTY I confessed that it's easy for me to feel at ease with my Ultimate Ignorance. So I ask myself, what lamp have I lit that I should mount it in the open? . . . Hmmm, in his book, A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, Stephen Hawkins relates the following tale: A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have just told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever young man, very clever," said the old lady, "But its turtles all the way down!" . . . Past and present, I read a few books etc., watch TV, listen to a few orations, dialogue with others, ponder the strangeness of it all including myself, and so far it seems like its Uncertainty all the way down. So that's the lamp that I am mounting on the internet and letting it shine. . . I often wonder what my Dad would have thought of all of this. I think I know what he would have said. ****** Note: Since my AGAPE blog became filled to the brim with 66 pieces, has been kind enough to allow me to open another blog AN EARTH ELDER SPEAKS. Now I have decided to inform friends and relatives by BCC email whenever I tend my lamp by publishing a new piece. If you receive such a notice and prefer not to then click the Reply key, type "remove" next to the subject and Send. If you would like to be included in these notices just drop me a note via email.


A friend recently told me that according to Science all the cells of my 75 year old body are less than seven years old - some sort of replacement plan. Personally I can only vouch for this assertion by observing my toe nails, finger nails, plus the hair that rings the top of my head and covers my face. However if Sciene says it's so, it must be so. Talk about faith. . . Dr. Science may have been a bit misquoted by my friend. The mighty "web" does state that throughout our life the cells of our body continuously divide, making new cells to replace lost or damaged ones, some at a faster rate than others. Assuming that this assertion is a scientific fact, I have a follow-up question: If all the cells of my body are being continuously replaced by new ones, what about my body is 75 years old? . . Of course Dr. Science endeavors to answer this question also. I respect Dr. Science and his/her answers, however I enjoy the poet's musings more. Listen to this: So in a running stream one wave we see after another roll incessantly - - The water still does into water go, still the same brook, but different waters flow. (LaBoete via Montaigne). Ah the poets, they too know it.


"Enough, enough my friend, for there will never be an end, enough, enough my friend!" Worte von DIE FLEDERMAUS as best I can recall. Well, I have lit my little lamp by sharing my personal collection of wisdom words which have dealt with all the existential questions as I understand them. What existential questions, you ask? Methinks there are four, and I have created the following acronym from them to aid my senior memory: MADFreedom - universal Meaninglessness, each person's unique Aloneness, Death, and undeniable Freedom. ***** What now, you ask? Well my blogs, my thesis, my words, my collection of the words of others all remain posted for your perusal as long as agrees. There is one very important caveat: I reserve the prerogative to change my opinions, to change my mind, to interpret and/or amend my constitution so to speak. This is called freedom of choice. When my Spirit, or yours, so moves me, I'll add a few more Worte, maybe. But for now, I rest my case.


What's only fair? Well, if others read my blogs then it's only fair that I should read theirs, nicht wahr? Max Ehrmann's DESIDERATA said it well: Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, they too have their story. ****** Where am I going with this, you ask? Hey, I have evidence that some guy actually read my blog and then he gave me the opportunity to read his story, which I did - and I found it very enlightening. Hmmm, another lamp lighter, and one of my kin at that. Check it out: Dear Uncle Neil. I finally had a chance to read your blog. You've a lot of good existential discussion which even I sometimes dwell on . . . . . If you get a chance you can look at some of my blogs and websites. . Your nephew, David. ***** In my last piece, I REST MY CASE, I stated that I might write again if my Spirit, or yours, so moved me - and by golly one of them did.


HEAVENLY VISIONS - I confess to this apparently hard-wired faith: No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should, therefore be at peace with God whatever you consider Him/Her/IT to be. . . This is a feel-good assertion, right? . . . It is indeed, and I have few more feel-good assertions: Heaven is all about us, waiting only for us to recognize it. . Evil is a concept relative to various temporary forms of ITS (All That Is) evolution, and does not exist in an absolute sense. . Despair, not yet, not ever. . . So it would seem that I am indeed determined to feel good, and as Matty Stepanek would say, "Why not?". . . EARTHLY VISIONS - So is it fair to say that my strategy is to hide from the very real problems of humanity and its supporting life forms? . . Fair, but inaccurate. I read books and newspapers, watch TV, listen to others share their personal experiences, etc. etc. . And? . . And it seems that there is a focus on evil and how to eliminate it. Evil meaning the three D's of death, disease, domintion, and all their offspring such as war, greed, hunger, crime, etc. etc. . So? . . So I never hear/read others expressing their vision of what life on this planet would be like if we all actually succeed in eliminating such evils. . Like what kind of vision? . . A positive vision, plus details of practical stuff, like would there be a car or two and a garage for everyone world wide? TV's for everyone? Would everyone live to a healthy old age? How old? Would everyone enjoy private property rights, pensions, social security, a good job, a chance to be rich, etc. etc. I mean what would we all do if we weren't battling the three D's and their offspring? . . My short answer is, I don't know - I just ask questions. My mentor asked questions like this more poetically: "If I am a queen and you are a queen, who fetches the water?" inquire the Hindus, the Turks asking: "If you are a gentleman and I am a gentleman, who will milk the cow?" and the the Irish: "If you are a lady and I am a lady, who'll put the sow out of the house?", , , SELLING THE VISION - Assuming that a positive vision of life here on planet Earth is possible, it will then need to be sold to others. It seems that the key to selling an idea is to appeal to the other's self interest, ideally to the other's enlightened self interest. Here one can expect encounters with basic human nature. My mentor again expresses this point poetically: "So you want to divide all the money there is and give every man his share?" "That's it. Put it all in one big pile and split it even for everybody." "And the land, the gold, silver, oil, copper, you want that divided up?" "Sure - an even whack for all of us." "Do you mean that to go for horses and cows?" "Sure - why not?" "And how about pigs?" "Oh to hell with you - you know I got a couple of pigs." . . . Methinks that assembling a positive vision of life here on earth and then selling it to others might be just as overwhellming a task as eliminating evil. Maybe the joy is not in succeeding, but in trying.


The enduring question: Why am I here? Yalom's response - ". . . the rational questions one can pose always outlast the answers." Da Free John's response - "For one who abides in infinity, happy and free, at ease with his Ultimate Ignorance, the question and answer are equally unnecessary." **** A lady friend from my past once opined that humans are problem solving cells. Methinks it fits. We either seek problems to solve or we often unnecessarily create problems and thus create a purpose, i.e. solve the problem. **** Many problems of our physical world have been solved by a relatively few for the benefit of everyone, maybe. Solutions to the political problems of living together in harmony cannot be solved by a few, the entire mob must be involved, and consequently such problems resist solution. Thus our sub-personalities involved in the physical sciences have progressed, whereas our sub-personalites involved in living in harmony stagger. These sub-personalities are as old as humanity; Sandburg in THE PEOPLE, YES: The surgeon held his profession the oldest in the world through the operation whereby Eve was made from the rib of Adam. The engineer held the world was once chaos and its reorganization a matchless engineering feat. The politician put in, "Who made the chaos?" And the laugh comes in there, a half laugh, and come to think about it, less than half a laugh. **** In the same poem our scientific sub-personalities as they strongly existed in Steinmetz and Edison are compared to our unnamed "other" sub-personalities involved in gathering shekels: Why did the two high wizards of applied electrodynamics say all they wanted was board and clothes and time to think things over? Why did they go along so careless about dollars, so forgetful about millions, letting others organize and gather shekels and progress from boom to crash? Why is the Schenectady hunchback dwarf one of the saints in shirtsleeves? And why did the deaf mechanic from Orange, New Jersey, forget to eat unless his wife called him, and why did he die saying: What is electricity? We don't know. What is heat? We don't know. We are beginners. "Look at the moon - it winks at the ignorance of the world." **** To become at ease with my Ultimate Ignorance, hmmm: Is this indeed the answer to why I am here? Maybe.


What's as plain as day? I'm a son of a sun. Aren't we all? We are indeed. We are all transformations of our Sun's energy; this is so obvious that there is no need to ask Dr. Science for verification. So it's another certainty, another Rock? Yes it is. It's my 3rd Rock. Of course I had noticied this son-ship earlier in my life but somehow neglected it when I started collecting Certainty Rocks to anchor my blogs. Methinks that now is a good time for a ROCK REVIEW: 1st Rock - I exist as a thinking being; this I cannot doubt because to do so would be thinking which would lead to the conclusion that I am a thinking being. 2nd Rock - Uncertainty is all around us (except for my three Rocks:-)); it's IF then THEN my friend, and that's a premise; so beware of an excess of certitude. 3rd Rock - Along with all living things and perhaps the Earth itself, I am a son of the Sun. **** OK, three Certainty Rocks, so what? Well I have the luxury of preparing to leave this body and methinks it would feel good, closure it's called, to make notes of what I think I know for certain even though I'm not certain I know who I am. It will be part of my legacy. It's a bit of work to do this, however it is the kind of work that energizes me. I memorized the following poem when I was a pupil in Miss Albertson's sixth grade class some time ago. It's entitled WORK: Work, thank God for the might of it, the ardor, the joy, the delight of it - work that springs from the heart's desire setting the brain and soul on fire. What is so good as the heat of it, what is so glad as the beat of it; what is so kind as its stern command, challenging brain, and heart, and hand. ** I don't know the author's name. **** Will I find more Certainty Rocks? Maybe.


A couple of proselytizers appeared at my door the other day and fired this opening salvo: Did I think things were getting better or getting worse? I gave them Matty Stepanek's response; I said I think they are getting better. Incredulous, they asked: Why did I think that? Again I thought of Matty and replied, "Why not?" [You may recall the late 13 year old Matty being asked by Larry King why he believed in angels, and Matty replying, "Why not?"] I was toying with these two proselytizers because I knew what they were selling and I knew that I wasn't buying what they were selling. But do I really believe that "things" are getting better? Well, as the saying goes, it depends on what is meant by "things". If we mean "things" that keep this planet habitable for present and future generations then my assessment is that "things" generally are not getting better, they are getting worse. I could make a case for this pessimistic belief, as it is made ad nauseam in the media day by day and in our jammed smog ridden cities. How does this belief manifest in my daily life? Hmmm, good question. Methinks it tempers my joy of life with the sadness of knowing that we humans are treating it with such carelessness. My feelings were expressed in a few words I penned during a 1982 cross country bus trip as I looked out the bus window at the San Bernadino bus station and watched the morning traffic shuffle: "I am part of this, this is my being: the shabbiness and the elegance, the knowing and not knowing, the persistent mystery, the ebbing awful beauty, the eternal dying, the dull busy-ness, eternal faith." Ah yes, eternal faith. Ala Matty, "Why not?" Why not adopt Max Ehrmann's faith: "No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him/Her/It to be." In the meantime why can't we stand down with all of our super armaments and either or confrontations, why can't we all get along? With the Dalai Lama, my religion is kindness. Maybe I should proselytize.

East - WEST

Archived in paper. Contact Nck..


Today (12-4-05) I listened to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace for about an hour as C-Span rebroadcast his 12-1-05 talk at the National Defense University. His subject was the newly published U.S. Strategy In Iraq aka Strategy For Victory. Hmmm, among my papers I found the following bit of doggerel (author unknown) titled Peace Between Wars which I now re-title ODE TO GENERAL PETER PACE AND THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE, and share with you here: ** Between the long wars there has always been peace and likewise between the short wars. The longer the wars the less the peace while the wars went on, and the shorter the wars the sooner the peace came. Whenever the peace came to an end the resulting war always ran either short or long. Whenever a war ended the resulting peace ran till the next war. Thus each peace had its punctuation by a war short or long and each war at its end ushered in an era of peace short or long. Therefore we know absolutely, incontestably, the peace we now see will run till the next war begins whereupon peace will be ushered in at the end of the next war. Beyond this we know little absolutely, incontestably. ****** Amen Brother.


"Please, be patient with me, the Lord is not through, with me yet." Oh oh - you might be thinking, here he goes again. Eeeyup - I heard the above quoted line sung as part of the choir's processional hymn at a Gospel Church in San Diego a few dozen years ago. They were sooo good - I love gospel music sung by Gospel Choirs. I was there by invitation of Fran, the piano player. She had more or less grown up with Gospel because her Daddy was a Gospel preacher. Fran's week-day job was being a security monitor at Kearny High School where I hung out for twenty-five years. We often were the only two using the faculty cafeteria during the first lunch period so we got to know each other a bit. I never saw her eyes because she always wore tight fitting dark glasses. And as I told her, she would never have gotten into Admiral Rickover's nuclear Navy because she always poured lots of salt on her food before she even tasted it; the scuttlebutt was that the Admiral rejected applicants who displayed such illogical behavior. But I digress, as I am wont to do. ***** I'm still into self-analysis of this life experience, and in the interest of some sort of community building I'm sharing it with y'all. My premise is that a couple of community building blocks are to know ourselves and know each other. Ana says that I keep going over the same old stuff. I say that I be digging for gold; or perhaps more accurately I am sifting through the tailings of my life, looking for gold. I appreciate Ana's experience as a psychiatric nurse which helps keep her sane while I'm sifting. So here goes: First a ROCK REVIEW - (1) Who am "I"? Always, a thinking being. (2) What do "I" know? That Uncertainty is all about "me". (3) From whence did "I" come? Clearly "my" body is a son of the sun. ** More review - Where do "I" exist? Always here, wherever here is. When do "I" exist? Always now, whenever now is. What changes? Always, circumstances, i.e. the procession of events without and within "my" body, including "my" thoughts. Where am "I" when "I" am not thinking, like befoe "I' can remember, like when "I" sleep, like in the future? "I" don't know. ** So is there any gold in this digging? Maybe; maybe just fools gold. In this leisure time of my life I've taken to noticing what is changing and what isn't. My life is so serene that it seems almost necessary to turn on the TV in order to be aware of changes. I've noticed that my observation platform is always the here and now. It is a platform afloat in a sea of change. *** I wonder what it would be like not to think of past here/nows nor to anticipate future here/nows. I wonder what it would be like to be an animal, or maybe a tree.


Although I've never been into making New Year resolutions, this year I've decided to do just that. The goal that comes to mind is to more closely examine my Second Rock, that is the UNCERTAINTY which is all around us (see my AGAPE Page). Discussing this decision with Ana led to giving my Second Rock a second name, namely INFINITE POTENTIAL. What's in a name? Well methinks that noting the Uncertainty which surrounds us places me in the role of an observer, whereas noting how my decisions affect the ever evolving Infinite Potential associated with Uncertainty emphasizes the challenge and responsibility of being a decision maker, a co-creator. **** Wow! A co-creator? Me? Can this be? It seems that it not only can be, but has been, is, and will continue to be as long as I exist. And since I prefer happiness here in heaven on Earth rather than any unnecessary self-inflicted pain and suffering it behooves me as a co-creator to make appropiate decisons as best I can. This goes for U2 dear fellow Earthling(s). **** Is all of this true? Maybe. **** Happy New Year, und Ein Glueckliches Neues Jahr auch, Saint Nck. January 1st 2006.


The Snowball of documents keeps getting larger and larger. We must pick and choose which ones we share with others, and I do. Here's one that crossed my path while I was attending college way back when; in fact I sang it solo at our Math Club banquet. Over the years I sang it for others, un-requested, from memory. I don't know who the author is, and I have never seen it nor heard it anywhere else. My thought is that if I don't write it down and share it with y'all then it might be forever lost in the womb of time, "schade", what a shame. *** If you forgot your calculus then you might check with a current Math student for interpetation of the lyrics, or you might also give them the lyrics as a giftie. Anyway, here they are, sung to the tune of Old Man River, OLD MAN DELTA:: Freshman all work on their Mathematics; Freshman all work while instructors yawn; Racking their brains for the right solution; Staying up nights 'til the break of dawn. ** Look it up! Write it down! Never get time to go downtown; Change that sign; Raise that power; It's 3 A.M. by the Library Tower. ** Let me go way from those sines and cosines; Let me go way from those infinite sums; Show me that stuff know as long division; Let me do Math on my fingers and thumbs. ** Old Man Delta, dat Old Man Delta, he's not a nothin', he's just a sumthin', that keeps on shrinkin', he keeps on shrinkin' away. He don't plant tatters, he don't reap cotton, and what he's good for, I've quite forgotten; but Old Man Delta, he just keep shrinkin' away. ** You and I, we sweat and strain, eyeballs all bloodshot and racked with pain; Oh my back, and Oh my head, I'll be doing this 'til I'm dead. ** I gets weary, this life's disgustin'; I'm tired of studin', but skeered of bustin'; but Old Man Delta, he just keeps shrinkin', he keeps on shrinkin' away. ***** Is all of this true? Maybe; but you know that even Mathematics is based on assumptions.


There is a music for lonely hearts nearly always. If the music dies down their is silence, almost the same as the movement of music. To know silence perfectly is to know music. **** Carl Sandburg.


REM time was about 6 a.m. last Tuesday, May 30, 2006. Do I know that I experienced rapid eye movement? I do not. I read in some science book that dream time is REM time so I assume it is true. But I digress. ****** I awoke when a lady in my dream asked me "What are you walking with?" It struck me as a good question. I liked it. I still like it. Here is my answer. What's yours? ********* I do not walk alone. My ever present questions are "Who am I?" and "What the heck am I doing here?" For me, the answers remain a mystery. Also walking with me is this faith: Whether or not it is clear to me, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore I am at peace with the ultimate mystery whatever I conceive Him/Her/It to be. ******** My partner calls me a Human Being. She refers to herself as a Human Doing. We are each other's "ither." Ram Dass wrote, "The only reason to form a conscious intimate relationship with a partner is in order to do the work of coming to know our souls together. This is the only reason for an intimate relationship when we are conscious. This is what intimate relationship is about, in fact this is what everything we do is about." ******** Everything I do is about coming to know my soul? Hmmm. I would rephrase this as: Everything I do is about me, a soul, coming to know myself. It's self-inquery with the help of "ithers," y'all.



The year was 1952. I was completing a major in physical education at Mankato State Teachers College. Jim Witham, the basketball coach, also taught a class in the philosophy of physical education. I was a student in his class. Our assignment was to write our philosphy of physical education and include such topics as coed classes and intramural sports. I began the assignment by stating that to write about my philosophy of physical education I must first write about my philosophy of life; and that's what I did.

I wrote that my philosophy was that the purpose of life was "to know God and enjoy Him forever." I wrote that one way to know God was to study His creation, which therefore justified all sciences. I also wrote that I believed the words of the bible that "God is Love." I concluded that another way to know God was to experience love by coming to know and hence love God's creatures, our fellowmen. Physical education offered many opportunites to know each other through cooperating in team activity and competing fairly.

Today is July 5, 2006, my 76th birthday anniversary. I am still contemplating the purpose of life and in particular the purpose of my life. See PURPOSE REVISTED in a previous entry on this blog.

It is apparent to me that all living things strive to survive. Although this striving is apparent, its purpose is not. For now I have concluded that there is no innate purpose of life. Purpose seems to a matter of individual choice, free will, and individual creation.

My next question is: what shall I choose to create as my purpose for the remaining time of my life? Is my 1952 philosophy still operative? Maybe it is.

I remain a fan of science but I've never been a player. That leaves me with the option of experiencing love and hence God by knowing others. To know and be known by "ithers" and thus experience love and hence God is still a good choice for me.

How to do this? There are ways - no one said it is easy. Thank God for OLLI by Golly.

Should I tuck this piece in my book of memoirs where perhaps some family member will discover it some day, or should I post it on my blog where "ithers" might peruse it. I know Ana's advice without asking: think "and" not "or."

Hemingway's advice also comes to mind: "Just call them the way you see them and the hell with it." Happy Birthday to me. Hoch soll ich leben.


This piece has been paper archived. For copy check with Nck

WHY WAIT? (part one)

from the PEOPLE, YES by Carl Sandburg: Neither wife nor child had Mr. Eastman and the manner of his death was perfect.

Around a fireplace in his home one night he entertained eight old friends, saying to one woman at the door at eleven o'clock, "I'm leaving you," she rejoining, "No, I'm leaving you."

But Mr. Eastman, the Kodak king of exactly how many millions he wasn't sure, knew better as to whether he was leaving her or she him.

After a good night of sleep and breakfast he met two lawyers and a secretary, rearranging codicils in his will.

And when they lingered about going, he said, "You must be going: I have some writing to do."

And they had the feeling, "Well, this is one of Mr. Eastman's jokes, he always has his odd pleasantries."

And again Mr. Eastman knew better than they there was a little writing to be done and nobody else could do it for him.

They went - and Mr. Eastman stepped into the bathroom, took his reliable fountain pen and scribbled on a sheet of paper: "My work is finished, why wait?"

"He had counted the years one by one up to seventy-seven, had come through a paralytic stroke, had seen one lifelong friend reduced by a series of strokes to childish play at papercutting four years in a bed and the integrity of the mind gone.

He had a guess deep in his heart that if he lived he might change his will; he could name cases. As the will stood it was a keen dispersal for science, music, research, and with a changing mind he might change his will.

Cool he was about what he was doing for he had thought about it along the slopes of the Genesee Valley of New York and along the coast of Africa and amid the babbling apes of the jungle.

He inspects in the bathroom an automatic revolver, a weapon tested and trusted, loaded, oiled, operating.

He takes a towel and wets it, placing it over the heart, the idea being that in case he shoots himself there will be no soot nor splatter and a clean piece of workmanship.

His preparations are considered and thorough and he knows the credit for the deed can never possibly go to anyone but himself.

Then he steps out, the hammer falls, he crosses over, takes the last barrier.

He knows thereafter no console organist will call of a morning to play Bach or Handel while he eats breakfast.

His last testament stands secure against the childishness of a second childhood.

WHY WAIT? (part two)

Before he killed himself at age 77 Mr. Eastman scribbled, "My work is finished, why wait?" As they say in Q & A sessions, "That's a very good question."

This tale got me thinking. Why does anyone wait? Why do I wait? Unlike Mr. Eastman, neither finished nor unfinished work crosses my personal radar screen. So why do I wait?

In a word my answer is: CURIOSITY. Curiosity is a curious thing. Often it collapses into an event certain after just a little wait. And then it is revived.

The script for "the games" - football, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis, soccer, et al is boringly repetitive. Who will win this time? Wait and see.

Other dramas take a bit longer to unfold. Which party will win the 2006 elections? Who will be elected to pick up after George in 2008? What will be the next events in the evolving world wars, environmental crises, space exploration, technological development, and religious strife?

I'm also curious about metaphysical questions which I believe will outlast any wait because I think the universe is a mystery on both sides of the "star gate."

Then I'm curious about a few more life experilences: What is it like to grow really old? What will dying feel like?

Curiosity is a curious thing. It killed that Eastman cat, but it keeps this Kraus cat alive - for now.


The year was 1977. I was hanging out with people from a group called TORI - Trust Openness Responsibility Interdependence. A drop-in guest at a house party was a professional poker player. He was a quiet man - very interesting to me. He shared that his guiding principle in poker was to "Remember who I am."

I didn't ask him to explain who he thought he was and how that helped him play poker; I should have.

The phrase is still with me - "Remember who you are." Who am I and why is it so important that I remember? My answer today: I am a spark of a beautiful mysterious universe, and so is everyone and everything. The profound implications are that I should always act in harmony with this remembrance. Easy to say - tough to do - worth the effort.

The mystical reality is that both you and I are multifaceted enigmas. We are tiny parts of an inexplicable universe.

"It's turtles all the way down Babe."


It occurs to me that if I'm going to continue to write, which seems likely, then I need an M.O. - modus operandi. Hemingway's advice to "Call them the way you see them, and to hell with it," isn't specific enough for me.

So far I've written about 86 blog pieces and 29 chapters of my memoirs. Perhaps there is an M.O. in there somewhere. I think there is; now, I want to examine it, and perhaps improve it.

I have expertise in but one thing - my perceptions. Methinks that it is well that I always keep this in mind. I am not a sage - I am a witness. A witness to what? I am a witness to the perceptions and experiences of a multifaceted enigma (me) that is a very tiny part of an inexplicable universe.

Story Time: But is the story pertinent? Oh, I'll tie it in somehow. The year was 19 _ _. Damn, I don't remember the year. I do remember that I was driving across the grasslands of Nebraska on my way to Minnesota and I was alone. How can I narrow down the time? What car was I driving? Was I married at the time? Sorry, I don't remember.

Anyway, on to the story: I was cutting across Nebraska on lightly traveled state highways, not interstates. I noticed beef cows grazing in fields belly-high in grass. Wow! What would it be like to be belly-high in food with no thought of the morrow? Then I noticed one cow lying beneath a billboard peacefully chewing its cud. The billboard was an advertisement for hamburgers.

Well, I concluded that the cow was definitely living in the now. It was not worried about whether its food and water supply would last, nor about the problems of aging, nor about the fate of its offspring, nor about the manner and time of its death, nor about life after-death. I smiled at the wisdom of the cow.

So, that is my reflection on the perceptions and experience of this multifaceted enigma (me). I tried to think my way into the cow's head, but alas, it too is an enigma. Maybe I should sub-title this piece "My MOO." Naw, that's too cute.


Good question. I post my pieces on the web and I email them to about 50 friends and relatives. Who cares?

Story time: My Dad was a carpenter with his own crew. He worked at his trade 10 hours a day, six days a week. He wore long sleeved shirts and bib overalls. Once he came home early and needed to go to town. He decided to change into a clean shirt and overalls. My mother was incredulous at his vanity. She asked him, "Who cares?" He emphatically declared, "I care."

So this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Who cares? I care.

Is this vanity? Maybe; I like to think love has something to do with it. I would also like to read your perceptions of this life experience. To know and allow "ithers" to know "oursels" is a good thing methinks.

my mother lode

To know and to allow "ithers" to know "oursels" is a good thing methinks.

The name of my gold mine is "WHO CARES?" I posted it on 8/27/06 and struck it rich. I can't take them with me so I've decided to share my riches with y'all in the order they were received. Enjoy bitte. NCK

(1) Dear Neil, Who cares? ** ed * 8/9/06

[Neil's note: This short question was "ed's" response to my previous piece about My M.O. Of course I thought about ed's question and consequently published WHO CARES? This then led to the gold mine and my mother lode of respones. Serendipity I believe it's called.]


(2) Neil, Your posting rang a bell w/me from long-ago days. My dad (as did most farmers of his era) also wore bib overalls and long-sleeved (sleeve??) shirts. When he had to go to Central City (a four-mile trip) for repairs, supplies, whatever, he detested changing to clean clothes. My mother, on the other hand, always made a big flap about cleaning up for the run to town. Usually he didn't, or if he did to pacify her, he was pissed about it.

As for me, I was totally happy to wear dirty clothes to town whenever I could get away w/it in my growing-up years. As I remember it after all these years, those dirty jeans and shirts sure felt comfortable.

As you can see, my dad and I would have agreed w/your mom and said, "Who cares?"

Ed ***** 8/27/06 * [Neil's note: This Ed is a native of The Land of Big Red which is adjacent to the Land of OZ.]


(3) Neil, I'm glad you have the cahones to claim your eldership. More power to you, and to all of us.

Bob Broemel * 8/27/06


(4) Thanks for the URL to you blog site, Neil. I'm gradually working my way through it (though working is probably not the right word). I, too, like and enjoy Carl Sandburg, though I haven't explored his writing nearly to the extent that you have. One of my favorite poets - and I'm not really an aficionado of poetry - is Rudyard Kilpling. ("Though I've belted you and flayed you, by the living God that made you, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.") I recently came across the following - it was not credited, but I knew immediately that it was Kipling and it so proved to be - that I thought would make a perfect epitath for the Bush adminstration:

// Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle Aryan brown; For the Christian riles and the Aryan smiles and it weareth the Christian down. And the end of the fight is a tombstone white, with the name of the late deceased; And the epitath drear, "A fool lies here, who tried to hustle the East." //

As you've probably already figured out, I'm much more the historian than poet or philosopher. Though we travel down [or up] the same road, we'll both see [or fail to see] different things. If we care, that's all that matters, I think. I have no belief in heaven or hell, so I think we'll both end up in the same place though we may not travel the same distance along that endless road. Which probably makes no sense at all. - Byrce * 8/28/06


(5) [Neil's note: This next response starts with picture of a horny toad - or maybe it's a tuatara - and a quote from Mark Twain]

PICTURE. "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. " . . . Mark Twain

To NCK, . . . From: Diana

Hey Teach: Yes, change that shirt. J.Campbell said a good sign of civilization heading south was the loss of all rituals of dress. Like wearing T-shirts everywhere! How are you? DQR * 8/28/06


(6) Right on! or is it Write on! Both!

Sophia * 8/28/06


(7) Hi, Neil. I CARE! And it's not because I'm your memoir-writing teacher. I just love your writing!

"I care" is the best answer. We must like and love ourselves, in order to be at peace with ourselves. Thus, your father's decision makes sense.

Your caring is not vanity. It's healthy self love. Besides, you write beautifully. It's good to create something beautiful.

I'll see you soon. I'm still cleaning out the house and it's starting to look empty.

Love to you and Ana Carol,***** Anne * 8/28/06


(8) Is not caring for and about ourselves the first step toward caring about others? If I do not like who I am, how can I possibly like who you are? Jesus said "Love your neighbor as thy self" and does that not imply, it begins with self?

Is it not possible that your dad was showing respect for others by donning a clean shirt and overalls? And how strong his self-esteem, that he countered the negative message as opposed to absorbing it.

I do enjoy your musings. **** Judy * 8/29/06


(9) Vanity - - - - ?? "to thine own self be true," I - - - - therefore I am; do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Know yourself, first yourself then others; "pluck the mote from your eye then - - - -"

Advice my mother gave to me: keep family secrets/business in the closet; people will not like you if you brag; pride is one of the deadly sins. Freud built part of his psychoanalytic rheory on the Oedipal (something from Greek mythology) complex - - - moral: do not admire yourself in a mirror, or was it a lake?

Sometimes I am asked, "why did you do that?" . . . . . . . my irrefutable answer is " because I wanted to." One of life's lessons is that if you do not take care of yourself you cannot expect others to do it for you.

Perhaps this is why our socio-culture admires the Self Made Man so much. Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps is only understood by those who wear cowboy boots. Many must think that a bootstrap is a shoe lace - - - OOPS !! - I ramble.

Ron s * 8/30/06 * [Neil's note: This rambling cowboy is also from the Land of Big Red, which is still adjacent to the Land of OZ.]


(10) Neil. We are just packing up our summer in Rhode Island and heading to AZ via New York State, Wisconsin, etc. If the Verde Valley Friends continue to meet twice monthly we'll get to share our thoughts there. *** Sally and Sam * 9/6/06


(11) I think sense of pride is more fitting, good taste and style makes life more civil and interesting. Of course this could just be as simple as he was trying to look good for the town ladies, a much more fundamental incentive to get cleaned up . . :) ** OT: I kind of liked MOO as an alternate title. ** JK * 9/6/06


(12) Neil. First time I've visited a blog page. What a treat to read the responses to your Mother Lode. My opinion: I think your father wore clean overalls to town out of his good and caring sense of himself, and I agree with him. *** Diana (Bayfield, CO) * 9/21/06


(13) [Neil's note: I will post all responses to WHO CARES? unless the author tells me not to. Ciao.]


I just discovered THE SANDBOX. Methinks it is best that I don't try to describe it to you. Just log on to and scroll through a few log entries. You will then truly have entered the 21st century. **** NCK 10/17/06

Joe Capalbo

As many of you know, Joe was an extremely articulate and creative man. Sprinkled among his many talents was his refreshing and often times prophetic poetry. Here is one on the last poems he wrote . . .

I wanna hang around. After I'm gone I just gotta see whatever's going on. Do I really have to leave because I die? Will my friends all shed a tear as they gather 'round my bier? Will someone even say "Gee, what a guy?"

These things I gotta know, I gotta know before I go. I gotta know before the curtain's final fall. I gotta know who will be grieving, and gotta know before I'm leaving. If not, I just ain't gonna go at all. ***** Note: This poem was composed on May 6, 2006. Joe died September 25, 2006 at the age of 87.

Perusing the pictorial display at a memorial service for Joe I spotted another of his poems entitled Wonders of the World. The third verse goes like this: From the highest to the lowest of this old world I have been, but by far the greatest wonder is the soul we have within. ***** It was dated May 6, 2006.


"Perhaps we can Pass on Philosophy and Poetry and say what we really mean in Plain Prose," she said. Soon Silence Softly Spoke. "Why?" he wondered.


"All women want romance," my lover told me. Hmmm. "And what do men want?" I asked. "Someone to listen to them," she replied.


I am not certain but this I believe: I'm unique, just like everyone else. This means that I am different than everyone else. Ergo, I am alone - alone in thought, word and deed.

I am not certain, but this I also believe: Like everyone and everything, I 'm a chip of the one eternal block of everyone and everything. Does this mean that this block is also alone? Hmmm.

Here's a bit of dialogue for all you "Gee I'm a Tree" students: "Can I get next to you?" asked the Little Girl Point. "No," replied the Little Boy Point, "It's impossible. There will always be an infinite number of points between us." Think about it - Nck the Chip.

P.S. - Thanks to all you "ither chips" who contributed to this piece. I do not live in a vacuum. I am influenced by my immediate and larger communities.


I have alway known that I would take this road but yesterday I did not know that it would be today. ******* **** Cornville, AZ aka "Hawg Heaven"



Please help me name the following brooks: (1) A specific living entity? (2) A specific species? (3) All of life itself, regardless of form? (4) A specific non-living entity? (5) Non-living stuff itself, regardless of form?

Now tell me when each of the above brooks dries up: (1) three days to 177 years? (2) ? to 110 million years? (3) three billion years and counting? (4) four to five billion years with no end in sight? (5) ??

My evening prayer: "I want to go to sleep now."


This bumper sticker caught my eye today: LIFE IS THE SCHOOL - LOVE IS THE LESSON. Wow! A sermon on the bump.

Although I am not sure who I am, I definitely am enrolled in the school of life. Am I learning the lesson? Are YOU learning the lesson? For you Dems: Do you really love George while disagreeing with his behavior/policies? For you GOPers: Did you really love Bill while disagreeing with his behavior/policies? For everyone: Do you really love your enemies while disagreeing with their behavior/policies?

Somewhere in the Bible is the statement that "God is Love." Methinks that this implies that the two words have the same meaning. So why two words? Think of the clarifying benefits of dropping the word God from our vocabulary and just using Love as both a noun and verb.

This sermon is a work in progress. I don't claim ownership. Feel free to pick up the bumper sticker and run with it.

And the BEAT goes on


"Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly fly the years. One season following another, laden with (foolishness) and (beers)."

Woerterbuch: Foolishness - lacking wisdom and soundness. ** Wisdom - what is true, right, or lasting. ** Soundness - free from logical flaws. ** Beers - Schmidts and Hamms.

Fiddler on the (Loose), Earth Elder Nck


GOAL: Happiness and Pleasure for me and all "ithers."

M.O. : Cultivate C's. ***** DETAILS: Be Creative and Conscious while embracing Change and be wary of Certitude.

ALSO BE - Clean, Content, Calm, Curious, Clear, Competent, Careful, Cagey, Capable, Candid, Cognizant, Concise, Cogent, Considerate, Classy, Compassionate, Courageous, Comforting, Calculating, Captivating, Chivalrous, Choosey, Christ-like, Charming, Chummy, Chaste, Chipper, Contrite, Child-like, Cheerful, Cerebral, Centered, Casual, Care-free, Caring, Coherent, Comical, Commendable, Commissariat, Conversant, Convincible, Conventional, Consummate, Constructive, Consistent, Conservative, Consensual, Complementary, Complete, Composed, Consoling, Comprehensive, Compromising, Conclusive, Concrete, Confidental, Congenial, Congruous, Coordinated, Coping, Cordial, Corporeal, Correct, Cryptic, Current, Cosmic, Creditable, Cultured, Courteous, Courtly, Couth, Crafty, Cozy, AND Contribute, Cogitate, Commingle, Commune, Compile, Converse, Couple, Cross-examine, Correlate.

Feel free to add a CC or three.


I once memorized a quote attributed to Goethe; only recently a more poetic and insightful interpretation occurred to me. Here's the quote: "Nur eins hatte er wirklich gelernt, das die Herren Professoren kannten ihn die letzten Wahrheiten des Lebens, nach er so brennend suchte, nicht erzaehlen." **** My translation: The only thing he had really learned from the professors was that they could not teach him the final truths of life after which he so fervently searched.

It occurs to me now that "die Herren Professoren" represent reason. It is reason that cannot teach us the final truths of life. However, methinks that there is a very important role for reason in our fervent search for "die letzten Wahrheiten des Lebens," and it is this: the final truths of life, if, when and however we learn them, must not contradict reason. If they do, methinks such "truths" are bogus.

". . . in the open air every season of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or any book; dismiss whatever insults your soul." - Walt Whitman


Listen, listen, listen to my heart's song - in this case I'm referring to table talk with Ana. During coffee ths morning I was once again savoring Walt Whitman's advice to "dismiss whatever insults your soul," Rebaking the phrase to suit Ana's taste buds we came up with 'focus on whatever exalts your soul.' *** I like it. A diet plan should include what to eat as well as what not to eat. **** This is the first day of my 78th trip around the sun. Big Wheels go round in big circles - nicht wahr?:-).


I am here on planet Earth surrounded by my thoughts. Some of these thoughts are triggered by what I see everywhere. And what do I see? Myriads of colors, shapes, movements - order in the chaos. The seemingly endless variety of color is said to be simply reflections of different vibrations of white light. Really? At my wise old age it all seems inexplicable to me despite such respected scientific explanations.

Creation myths? Big Bang theories? Whatever? SOMETHING STRANGE IS GOING ON HERE! Some of the shapes I see are little marks on paper or computer screens. These little marks also trigger thoughts in me - again bringing order to chaos. I don't remember but I suppose it all seemed strange to me for the first few years after my birth, then it all became familiar, now it all seems strange again. If I am wounded in the battle of glaucoma will my thoughts still be tied to memories of sights? of little marks? What would be my visions if I had been born blind? And I also ask myself, or anyone who cares to answer, what exactly is a thought anyway? And who or what is the "I" that is thinking?

This has been an on-the-scene report by a strange thinking-man's reporter living in a strangely familiar strange land. These reports are limited by my editor to 272 words; therefore more reports of (re)action arena thoughts triggered by sound, smell, taste, and touch are left to your imagination - or not. However, no matter how you see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, or feel it, please know that SOMETHING VERY STRANGE IS DEFINITELY GOING ON HERE. **** 7/10/07

Imagining Non-sense

In response to my last piece WHERE THE (RE)ACTION IS, Anne Doe opined, "I believe it's better to hear than to see, given the choice between deafness and blindness." *** I forthwith clicked the Reply button and counter-pined, "How very curious that you should choose hearing over seeing. Of course I respect your choice; however my choice would be the opposite. Very interesting indeed , , , Nck." **** :Hmmm, thought I, an opion different than mine - 'it's a very interesting phenomenon' - which, I recall, is an oft used phrase in the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy; but I digress, which I am wont to do.

Imagine being blind - imagine being deaf - imagine being blind & deaf! *** Being gainfully unemployed, I decided to supply my imagination with a bit of personal empirical data. One full day blind - one full day deaf - one full day blind & deaf. Thus, I will prepare myself for a more informed choice. Damn, ain't retirement wonderful? ** 7/15/07 Nck


WELL, I DID IT!: 10p.m. Monday till 10p.m. Tuesday, I was blinder than a bat. My physical environment shrunk to what I could touch. ***** I experienced: major mobility problems - What am I eating? - No email today - TV w/o a picture - I was alone for five hours - It was a looong day. - I noticed in conversation I listened better, and perhaps spoke better. **** In a civilization w/o sight methinks there would be war no more; on the other hand, and there's always the other hand - sight is awesome. ** For sure, my druthers are to leave this world with my seeing eyes open. **** 7/18/07 Nck

Today I'm a bit deaf and I choose to be dumb. And that's another experiment. ******* * *I was BLINDER than a bat - a bat has sonar, nicht wahr? I bumped into things.


Well, I did it again: 10p.m. Friday till 7p.m. Saturday - I was blinder than a bat and as deaf as ear plugs would make me; I was also dumb by choice. It was a looong day. Without a doubt I prefer the expansiveness and colors of sight. I will share a few of my odd thoughts from my dark day. Excerpts from one of Sandburg's poems came to mind: "When God scooped up a handful of dust, and spit on it, and molded it into a shape of man, and blew a breath into it, and told it to walk, - that was a great day." In other words He/She/It created 'ithers' by some sort of evolution from pollution; discovering the details of this process remains a work in progress. Sandburg again: "And did God do this because He was lonely?" Maybe. After spending a day w/o 'ithers' that makes sense to me. **** So what do I do in the dark? I play with words. I chuckled when the phrase "evolution from pollution" came up. Methinks it satisfies both sides of the evolution debate. Like Flip Wilson's preacher man would say, "It's in the book!"

More: Methinks sight is a distraction from contemplation, unless you happen to be contemplating something you're seeing. And what else is there to contemplate? There is nothing other than things you remember seeing, hearing, and sensing. W/o a memory of sensory data I guess I would draw a blank. *** My hypothesis is that we are body/souls. The body is the machine and the soul is the driver - the decider:). When the body wears out it is analogous to when a car wears out; the driver gets a new car, i.e. he/she is reinCARnated:). He/she forgets all about the old car but retains its KARma. ** I could go on. Please don't you say?

I will close with Blake's wonderful ode to the senses which I got straight from THE HORSE'S MOUTH via Joyce Cary. I titled it Empirical Data: "Five windows light the caverned man; through one he breathes the air. Through one hears music of the spheres; through one can look, and see small portions of the eternal world." *** 7/22/07 ***

P.S. - In a notebook log I illustrate these pieces with pictures from Google. For this piece I selected a picture of Helen Keller meeting President Eisenhower. She has a nice hairdo, fancy hat and coat, and a beautiful smile. Her hand covers his face as she delicately senses "Ike." Amazing.


An adage: First one must live, then one may philosophize. ** Hmmm, I have lived awhile - methinks my time to philosophize is now.

I remember being asked to write my philosophy of physical education while I was pursuing a B.A. degree at Mankato State Teachers College in 1952. Wow, I had only lived 22 years at that time and most of that was as a kid. Nevertheless I took up the pen and wrote. Unfortunately the original copy got a way from me so I must rely on my memory. Here it is: To write my philosophy of physical education I must first write my philosophy of life. In the words of another writer, I believe 'the purpose of life is to know God and enjoy Him forever.' One way to know God is to study His creation; this then is a justification for all the sciences. I also believe the phrase in the Bible that states, 'God is Love.' Thus another way to know God is to experience love. Physical education offers many opportunities to know and hence to love others as we actively compete in games. Particular programs, such and coed classes and intramural sports, may contribute to this purpose depending on how they are conducted. *** The professor did not comment on my paper; however he did mark it an "A." Good enough for a kid.

So after 55 more years of life, what can I add to my philosophy? Not much. So why write? Well, I'm living with another writer and I need something to do, something I enjoy doing. And who are my intended readers? Myself, and anyone who wants to know and hence love an 'ither.' Writing somehow helps me remember who I am, i.e. a child of this strange universe who has a lot of questions relative to knowing God and enjoying Him forever.

A friend recently shared that he was experiencing joy in his retirement years. Joy is good; however my experience is more that of awe and sadness. I am in awe of the complexity, beauty, and mystery that surrounds me. I am saddened by all the fear and cruelty that persists and finds new ways of expression. I recall that a battle cry for one of the recent Iraqi wars was that we would attack with 'shock and awe.' If we really must attack, at least let it be with profound sadness for ourselves and our perceived enemies. Perhaps with a greater sense of awe and sadness and less bravado we could take time to know and hence love our perceived enemies and not attack at all. Methinks the God of Love would be pleased, as would we and our perceived enemies.

For the record: This has all been said before by many writers. I'm just doing it again because that's what writers do, and that's who I am now. **** 7/27/07 Nck


Sophia Tarila died this afternoon. From crisis to operations to home recovery to another crisis to back at work to yet another crisis last night to death today was a matter of a few weeks hence death was not sudden. So why did I experience welling emotion when death came?

It seems that the price for experiencing the mystery of life is to experience the mystery of death - and not just our own. Surely we must know that when we welcome life we also welcome death - they come as a package. So why the welling emotion?

Is now the time to sing a welcome song? *** 8/7/07 Nck

BUT WAIT, THE BEAT GOES ON: Sophia's body continues to live. No water, no food, no extra oxygen, no activity in the cortex brain, yet the body is programmed to keep going. Where is her soul? Is it tethered to the body and observing the drama? Is she now free to move about the country? Is she smiling at my ignorance? *** I have lots of questions. *** 7 a,m. * 8/8/07 Nck

LIFE "MOVED ON" from Sophia's body at 7:25 p.m. yesterday. *** "God, the game is all your way, the secrets and the signals and the system; so for the break of the game and the first play and the last - our prayer of thanks." *** 8/9/07 Nck

MOVED ON, AYE; BUT WHERE? ** "The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city, on silent haunches, and then moves on." ***** So that's it? It just "moves on?" ** Hmmm, - it's still a mystery to me. **** 8/10/07 Nck


"And the Raven {the Mystery} never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting on the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; and his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, and the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; and my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted - nevermore!"

Why am I writing? Well, perhaps it's because I feel the need to do something with my thoughts - something to help mitigate my aloneness. That seems reasonable to me. Trying to capture my thoughts in writing and then publishing them allows me to feel connected to "ithers" whether or not anyone actually reads them. -

During my senior year in high school we read Edgar Allan Poe's long poem THE RAVEN. Today, after a discussion with Ana about "joy," I was moved to read it again. It was easily available on the web - ain't the internet wonderful? *** I found that the poem now is rich in meaning for me. I enjoy poetry because it is so elastic that it allows each reader to stretch the words over new meanings. I also enjoy mathematics which requires one to define key words. For my current reading of the poem I equate "Lenore" <-> "joy," and also "the Raven" <-> "mysteriy." ** Read it and agree - or not. * 8/14/07 Nck


Once again I didn't take my 1.1 mile walk early this morning; I should have. Here in Hawg Heaven the best time to walk is early in the morning when the temperature is still about 70. It doesn't take long; it's good for my body; I just didn't feel like doing it. Instead, I lay down and thought about it.

It occurred to me that dying is also a good thing for my tired old body. Dying also doesn't take long, but again I just don't like the process.

Why is dying a good thing for my tired old body? Well, I've been here&there, done this&that, seen much of what there is to see, so what is the purpose of the rest of my life? Of course this leads me to the larger question of whatever was the purpose of the first 77 years of my life. And so it goes - the mystery of why - the human comedy - it just is.

After experiencing my bit of the grand catastrophe I have but one request: "Zorba, teach me to dance." It will take effort? Hmmm, maybe I better lie down and think about it. *** 8/18/07 Nck **

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