Author Archives: John Swinburn

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes

Stumbling Blocks

If, as we all wish we could believe, people are inherently “good,” why do all societies (at least all with which I am familiar) establish law enforcement authorities of one kind or another? Clearly, either deviance is a naturally-occurring phenomenon … Continue reading

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Love and Longing in the Time of Pandemica

I attempted to shovel the snow from my driveway yesterday. That effort is pointless and fruitless if the only shovel one has available is a standard round-point shovel, which is what I attempted to use. Shoveling snow with any degree … Continue reading

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Habitual

It’s becoming a habit I need to overcome. I sit on the reclining loveseat, watching the only television series in which I’m particularly interested at the moment. After a while, I decide I need to take a break, so I … Continue reading

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The Saddest Song

David Legan’s comment on my post earlier today entitled “Unmet Friend” brought back a memory of an experience I had in late 2009 and the blog post I wrote (on another of my blogs, long since dormant) about it. The … Continue reading

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Unmet Friend

Janet, as requested. I met my friend in a Facebook group created to connect people who grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. The purpose of the group, as I recall, was to reminisce about the city’s twentieth century history. How … Continue reading

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Taste Buds, Integrity, and Relative Wealth

Roughly seven years ago, Target Stores‘ house brand, Archer Farms, apparently stopped selling a vindaloo meal kit (everything but the meat). It was about that time my wife and I came upon one of their vindaloo meal kits in a … Continue reading

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Vulnerability

Alexa claimed the temperature at 5:04 a.m. this morning was 0°F. My computer, disagreed, saying it was -2°F. And the indoor/outdoor thermometer claimed the temperature on the screen porch is 5°F. Regardless of the thermometric discord, it’s bloody cold. Before … Continue reading

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Circular Thinking in a Square Bowl

My expectation when I awoke yesterday was that I would write a post about morality. I did, in a way, but it was not the post I anticipated writing. I got derailed by my own thinking. Today, I will write … Continue reading

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Transformation is Never Complete

A chance online encounter with the history of The Serenity Prayer led me to read a bit about Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr, the author of the prayer. Niebuhr wrote the prayer in 1951, long after he began his career as … Continue reading

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Las Madrigueras de Conejos

Until yesterday, I had never heard of Marcel and Betty Lamothe, nor did I know a thing about E. Rendle Bowness. But after writing a snippet in which Marcel and Betty were mentioned, I stumbled upon some material that introduced … Continue reading

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Starfish.

Overcast skies, icy roads, and an empty Friday morning join forces. They cause me to imagine what life might be like in a frigid, desolate outpost one hundred kilometers west of Bodmin, Saskatchewan, a place where RE/MAX has no listings. … Continue reading

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Mourning Shadows Redux

I am not in the mood to write this morning. Instead, I have been in the mood to read what I have written. I originally posted the following on September 15, 2012, nearly a year into what was supposed to … Continue reading

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Recipe for Insomnia

The time is just after 2:00 a.m. as I begin to write this, three and a half hours after going to bed. I don’t know how long I thrashed about in bed, trying to go back to sleep, before I … Continue reading

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Pendulum Swings

Most days, my blog posts get a few views. Twenty, maybe. Thirty on a good day. Occasionally, someone leaves a comment about what I’ve written or sends me an email about it. One regular visitor leaves a calling card, a … Continue reading

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On or Off the Water

We sit together in front of a warm fireplace. The mesmerizing flames cast romantic shadows on the wall behind us. We’re seated on a soft comfortable loveseat. My arm wraps around your shoulder. Each of us holds a glass of … Continue reading

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Life Goes On

Several years after my oldest sister died, I wrote a poem that recalled the experience of pouring her ashes into the Gulf of Mexico as she wished. One stanza of the poem is as follows: The gentleness of the water … Continue reading

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Between Fact and Fiction

One week soon, I will become a hermit. I will avoid all engagement with others. I will spend a solid week in isolation, to the extent I can. I may have to go grocery shopping or do other errands, but … Continue reading

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Our Thoughts

How close are we to one another, really? How much of the stock of our private thoughts do we maintain for ourselves alone, locked away never to be revealed even to those closest to us? Do we harbor thoughts that, … Continue reading

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Trickle of Consciousness

Yesterday afternoon, I had a not-long-enough conversation with someone who has become a good friend. We discussed, among many other things, a bit about my family. I am the youngest of six, one of whom died several years ago. Four … Continue reading

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The Magic of Smiles

Genuine smiles—the kind that spring from momentary happiness—lift my spirits in ways nothing else can. Those smiles can be on the faces of people I know or on the faces of strangers. They can be the smiles of people on … Continue reading

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On Second Thought

Distance shrinks when one has the means of reaching speeds no one can reach without artificial assistance. Distance expands when one’s ability to move is restricted by the absence of natural physical capabilities. Between those measures of distance, a range … Continue reading

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Periphery

Sea shanties have appealed to me since, I suppose, the first time I heard one. My admiration of sea shanties probably arose from the fact that they tell stories to lively and pleasing tunes. That would have been five or … Continue reading

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Complete with Pictures

Ken Nordine. He’s the guy whose “Word Jazz” recordings I linked in my post yesterday. The more I listen to him, to more I like him. I also watched a few YouTube videos he did. I decided one of them, … Continue reading

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Pandemonia

The last fiction post on this blog is dated two days before my wife tripped and fell, leading to almost six months in hospitals and rehab centers and culminating in her death. As I look back at the few (six?) … Continue reading

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Prospecting

It is early in the morning, yet I’ve already begun to break things. Last night, after my next-door neighbors went home following our wine and hors d’oeuvres gathering, I hand-washed some dishes. Of specific interest to this brief and fading … Continue reading

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Banter

Thanks to the generosity and kindness of an acquaintance and follower of this blog, I spent time yesterday afternoon sitting at a bar, drinking and engaging in extemporaneous conversation. During my discussions with my hospitable host, we had occasion to … Continue reading

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Searching

February 3 is the 32nd anniversary of Hot Springs’ Wednesday Night Poetry, the poetry event (sometimes including music) held every single Wednesday evening since its inception in February 1989. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to become virtual for as … Continue reading

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Shaped by Circumstance

This morning, it seems I awoke to a different climate or, at least, a different season. Last night’s thunder and lightning signaled the change. This morning’s reality illustrated it in dense fog and warming air. According to my live-in girlfriend, … Continue reading

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Mornin’

A day, beginning as an immature bud, can—with a little tender loving care—unfold into a beautiful flower. I know this because I’ve experienced it. The challenge, of course, is to continue tending the blossom, keeping the bloom fresh and bright … Continue reading

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3500 Observations and Conversations

After eight years, five months, and two weeks, here is my 3500th post on this blog. If I keep up the pace, I’ll produce post number 7000 as I near my seventy-sixth birthday. I am confident I will not achieve … Continue reading

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Thrasher

It’s just after 4:20, twenty minutes after I finally surrendered to the forces of insomnia. I have been awake, more or less, for hours. Thrashing about in bed, I would first throw off the blanket because I was too hot, … Continue reading

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Tapestry

Yesterday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris was a watershed moment. I think. I hope. It is well beyond time we had a woman in a senior executive position in our government. Many, many other countries … Continue reading

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Sleeping on the Job

Last night, I joined three friends for an evening reminiscent of “the way things used to be.” We sat in a pub, eating tacos, drinking margaritas (one drank a beer, as she has a dangerous allergy to agave), telling and … Continue reading

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My Take

How does a divided nation attempt to heal? How can a torn social fabric be stitched together again in a way that might ensure the cloth survives intact for at least a while longer? Purging Trump and his narcissism from … Continue reading

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Routines

Yesterday, I left so much unwritten. I had so much more to say. But today I struggle to write anything. It’s not that I have writer’s block, it’s simply that I cannot summon the intellectual energy to search my mind … Continue reading

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Painted in Pastels

God, what an emotional morning. An emotional morning that followed an emotional night. Last night, I invited my former sculpture and pottery instructor to come to my house for a visit. She and her partner accepted my invitation, arriving at … Continue reading

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Another Post

No surprise. Awake at three again. Thrashing around in bed, trying to empty the tangled fishing line, treble hooks, plastic bags, soda cans, and soggy empty cigarette packs from my brain. I just wanted to get comfortable so I could … Continue reading

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Early Wine

Synchronicity. I encountered an example of synchronicity yesterday. I spent some time with a financial advisor, asking questions about steps I should take to simplify my rather complex, but not particularly large, investment portfolio. Of course, the primary question for … Continue reading

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Somewhere in the Middle

I’ll probably write this post in two pieces: one, Wednesday night before bed, when I am contemplating sleep but knowing it will require effort to achieve; and, two, Thursday morning after I awake, either early or late but not likely … Continue reading

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Confrontation with Another Day

The clock has not yet reached 5:50 a.m., yet I am clean-shaven and freshly showered. I went to bed last night just after eleven, having watched an episode or two of Bosch, a detective story I know little about but … Continue reading

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Everything Is Broken Now

Everything is broken now. Thus begin the lyrics to a song, Or the thoughts within a poem. The words spilled from my lips in a panicked sprint, as if attempting to avoid pain or danger or an enraged predator, angry … Continue reading

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Cracking

The sun will not rise for almost two and one-half hours. Peering into the darkness, I cannot forecast what the day will look like. I could look into the weather forecast, but that would take the mystery out of what … Continue reading

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Incense

My wife was not a fan of the aroma of incense. I am and have been for years. I used to sit outdoors, alone, on the little patio of our house in Dallas, enjoying the scent of burning cones of … Continue reading

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Softening the Anxiety

My primary care doctor gave me a prescription for medications to help with depression/anxiety a couple of months ago. I was not sure I needed it, but I had been feeling anxious and a little depressed, so I had the … Continue reading

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A Thousand Thoughts

Yesterday’s assault on the Capitol will long be remembered as the primary lasting legacy of Trump. The rest of his nightmarish presidency can be undone over time. But his invitation to QAnon, Confederacy-loving anarchists, and other delusional groups to “protest” … Continue reading

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The Morning of January 6 2021

My drive to Little Rock to retrieve my wife’s ashes and a stack of death certificates from the crematorium yesterday was uneventful. The interaction I had with the crematorium’s representative was all business; she was polite, but I experienced no … Continue reading

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Why Disable Power Breaks?

The luxury of sleeping through the night is history. But I will try to avoid complaining. Lately, I have been able to nap, at least briefly, during the day; that makes up for sleepless nights. Today, though, I think I … Continue reading

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Even-Tempered

For the first time in a very long time, I participated yesterday in a “live” Sunday event with the Unitarian Universalist Village Church. “Live” via Zoom. The production took considerable effort by several people to coordinate and orchestrate the program; … Continue reading

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Just Beyond the Edge of Confusion

Yesterday was, for all intents and purposes, a washout. I woke up a bit late, after an unpleasant night. My morning coffee with my sister-in-law did not include any Words with Friends; apparently I was not sufficiently awake and alert—I … Continue reading

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Thumbnails

Leg cramps, deep in the middle of the night, used to plague my wife on occasion. When it happened, I began to massage her legs in an attempt to quell the pain. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it exacerbated the pain … Continue reading

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