Once upon a time, when I was younger, better-looking, and smarter, I spent three semesters (give or take) learning to make questionably attractive or utilitarian “objets d’art” from clay and to throw pottery. “Learning” is a misnomer, as is “art.”  “Dabbling” more realistically describes what I did. I can think of no appropriate term (that can be used in polite company) to describe what I made. Regardless of the fact that I was not by any stretch of the imagination a serious “artist,” I enjoyed playing in the mud and I still miss it. I’ve considered outfitting a spot in my crawl space as a “studio,” but I think the time and expense of doing that would be impossible for me to justify. I could go back to taking courses at the college, but I do not want to spent time around people who are far more serious about their art than I. My intent would not be to enter into competitions or to sell my creations; it would be only a means of occupying my time in a way that I find enjoyable. But I do not necessarily need to do that by playing in the mud. I need a different, more readily doable hobby.

Hobby. I dislike that word. It seems dismissive, as if one’s involvement in it is wasteful and unproductive. While that may well be true, I would prefer not to advertise the fact that I am being an intentionally and willfully unproductive slug. So, instead of having a hobby, I need an avocation. I write, which also is an avocation, but I want something else; something that will exercise a different part of my brain and my body. Something creative, but that does not require inordinate amounts of time to learn. I may have mentioned this before: making objects out of glass. Stained glass may be the term for it, but I may not need stained glass; “art glass” may be a better descriptor. However, I will admit to being enamored of abstract stained glass (and non-abstract, if not overtly religious in nature) in church windows. Still, I will need space. Well, I have space, but it is (and has always been) filled with stuff I do not need nor, probably, will ever use. But if I can get the room emptied, cleaned up, and fixed up just a bit, it might be an ideal studio for my new avocation. Just to be clear, though, this will not happen in a matter of weeks; maybe not even a matter of months. It could take years. It may never happen. But I’m thinking about it. That must count for something.

Under pressure, people admit to murder, setting fire to the village church or robbing a bank, but never to being bores.

~ Elsa Maxwell ~


I spent too much time indoors yesterday. I had ample opportunity to go out and about, but I didn’t. Instead, I spent most of the day inside, as if I were insulating myself from the world. I did get out long enough to give the car a cursory wash and to  buy gas (the tank was almost empty). And I went with my IC for a ride to the recycling center and to drop off some donations (including an artificial Christmas tree). But the majority of the day I stayed inside, away from the fresh air and sunshine. I made contact with the outside world, via telephone; I spoke to an insurance adjuster who explained what his company would do to repaired my car after his company’s policyholder scraped up the side of my vehicle. After a few other feeble attempts to deal with the world outside my window, I gave up and stuck to what was comfortable here in the house. Some days are better suited to hermit-like behaviors. Yesterday was one of them. Today may be radically different. Or radically the same. Time, alone, will tell.


When I hear about mass murders or watch television programs rife with gratuitous violence, I recoil in emotional protest to behaviors that seem so utterly inhuman. How, I ask myself, could human beings overcome their natural aversions to harming one another to such an extent that people could do such hideous things? But how could they not? While I think we are innately averse to plunging knives into the chests of people we view as threatening or launching rocket-propelled grenades into caravans of cars carrying politicians, I think I can understand how our minds might allow us to overcome the aversion. There comes a tipping point beyond which inhuman behaviors become natural responses to a monstrous world that inflicts random pain. I do not for a moment justify these behaviors; but I can fathom how they might occur as part of the “natural order.” People simply snap; they respond to a dangerously bizarre world with hideous behaviors that, in their minds, serve as self-protection or to mete out justice where traditional justice has failed. It is madness, of course, yet it is understandable—but not forgivable—madness.


Measure yourself by your best moments, not by your worst. We are too prone to judge ourselves by our moments of despondency and depression.

~ Robert A. Johnson ~

About John Swinburn

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