Fractures and Cracks

The weather prognosticators say the high temperature today will reach ninety degrees. That means the air will warm twenty-two fahrenheits beyond its current level, a cool sixty-eight (which does not feel awfully cool, thanks to the beastly humidity). An acquaintance, a woman I’ve never met, writes of temperature in that way; she describes the measurement of heat and cold not in degrees, but in fahrenheits. I like that. Perhaps it’s because that quirky linguistic style is similar in some ways to my own. For example, I expand the query “how long?” into “how many more long-times?” There’s no reason for it, other than silliness; that’s reason enough, though. Silliness helps protect us from the full force of the body blows the Universe throws at us. Silliness is among the reasons children are so resilient; if children experienced the world through the jaded lens of an adult, they would become brittle and breakable far sooner than they do.

Last evening, before she cut my hair, a friend said I (indeed, all adults) have a child inside. She suggested, in a manner of speaking, we should allow that child outside to play. Adulthood is stressful enough without binding and gagging that child, forcibly chaining him in a soundproof room. To emphasize her point, my friend shared with me a book to share with my wife. My friend thinks, rightfully so, my wife will enjoy the book; after reading only the title, I knew I would, as well. The book:  You’re Only Old Once: A Book for Obsolete Children, by Dr. Seuss.

The difference between juvenile silliness and adult silliness is simply a matter of soph—istication. Adult silliness carries with it a message that may or may not be nuanced, while juvenile silliness often is just raw, unfettered nonsensical absurdity. I prefer adult silliness, perhaps because I am an adult. Or, maybe, I have a secret affinity for puzzles; I search for the hidden message in adult silliness. It could be, too, that silliness plays an alternative role; maybe it staves off fear and the tears that often accompany fear.

As I reflect on my own history of silliness, I discern a pattern. While silliness accompanies me everywhere I go, it ramps up when I encounter difficult circumstances. Oddly, silliness is magnified at the same time that anger reveals itself; they do not often show themselves at the same time, but in close temporal proximity. Were I a competent psychologist, I might better understand whether that’s simply coincidental or not. I wonder whether there’s a causal relationship between them or, if not causal, at least correlated. I remember a phrase from my college days, “correlation does not necessarily suggest causation,” or something like that. Why that popped into my head just now defies explanation. Or maybe it doesn’t.


Fish. Specifically, salmon. That’s what I would like to have for breakfast today—a little piece of salmon, flash-cooked on a hot skillet so that it has an extremely thin crust of seared meat and barely-cooked, rare meat underneath. To accompany the salmon, I’d like a small bowl of miso soup, a spoonful of white rice, a radish, and a couple of slices of cucumber. I’d like a little low-sodium soy sauce to go with that, please, and some hot tea. But I won’t have that for breakfast, mostly because I have no salmon, at least none that’s thawed. And I’m out of radishes. I have all the ingredients for miso soup, but without the salmon and the rest of the ingredients, it just would not be the same. Plus, to be completely open about this situation, I’m feeling especially lazy; I haven’t the discipline to make such a breakfast. Not for just me. I think I should plan these things, rather than wake up and decide, “I want salmon and miso soup and…” I’m not even sure I want to go to the trouble of having a bowl of cereal. Coffee will do for now. I did make enough green salad yesterday to serve as today’s lunch, as well, so I do not need to worry about that. It’s a good thing.


This afternoon, finally, I will have a telephone consultation with my wife’s cardiologist (who also is my cardiologist). I’ve wanted to talk to him for a very long time about my wife’s symptoms; it took her two trips to the hospital and two referrals to rehabilitation facilities to make me take the bull by the horns and insist on it. I should have acted months ago.


I have neglected our “yard” for months. Weeds are growing along the street and in the gravel-filled beds by the house and along both sides of the driveway. The 2x4s between sections of the driveway have sprouted the equivalent of a weed “lawn” that needs to be pulled up.  Volunteer plants (also read as “weed”) have sprouted throughout the large fields of pine-bark mulch in front of the house. Dead leaves clog the run-off channel on the side of the garage on the front side of the house.  I have neither the energy nor the necessary equipment to handle the necessary clean-up. The guy I last paid to do clean-up was supposed to follow up with me once a month to see if I wanted more work done; he never followed up and I never called him, so we’re both at fault for my house’s appearance of neglect. Regardless, I simply MUST find someone to come do some yard clean-up. That’s going to be my main objective tomorrow. At the moment, I have nothing else on my agenda for tomorrow. If not for my damn arthritis and my damn knees and my damn shortness of breath and my damn general state of neglected physical conditioning and my damn lack of appropriate yard-work equipment, I’d do the work myself. If I weren’t so damn lazy. Tomorrow. That’s the goal: find someone to pay to do a bang-up job of tidying up the “yard.” What other word should I use here? It’s not really a yard, is it? It’s more a “plot” or a “lot” or a “piece of forest land bordering the street.” We really need a more descriptive term; something simple and succinct. I may suggest we all use the term “flottage” to describe the land surrounding our forest-area homes. I may.


There’s a spot on top of my right hand that itches like crazy and occasionally burns. It’s dry and slightly red (reddish, I suppose). I’ve put hydrocortisone ointment on it for two or three days to no avail. I suppose I could try to make an appointment with a dermatologist, but I suspect the “first available appointment” will be sometime in the Spring of 2022, so what’s the point? I could go to my primary care doctor, except he resigned from CHI last February and hasn’t been replaced. I could attempt to get an appointment with his nurse; if I can see her, I suspect she would refer me to the dermatologist, which would accelerate the scheduling of my appointment; maybe December this year. That’s probably my best option. I wonder whether I could just excise a three-quarter inch by one-and-a-half-inch piece of flesh say a quarter of an inch deep below the surface of the skin; would that eliminate the itching and burning? It would for the excised piece of flesh, but I fear it might cause more problems than it solves. The nurse is a better option.


One’s emotions are not as easy to control as one’s intellect. Intellect can be sculpted and shaped with a fair degree of precision. Emotions, on the other hand, seem to sprout in haphazard fashion from the tiniest cracks in the surface of one’s composure. I feel a thousand hairline cracks in my composure. I visualize them as being similar to an ancient oil painting. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is well-known for its craquelure. Time inflicts all manner of damage to oil paintings, from the surface all the way down to the substrate. Exposure to air, which dries the paints liquid solvents, begins the process. I envision the human mind (a combination of the brain and the way we use it) being exposed to similar forces that cause cracks in the emotional armor. This probably does not describe my sensation of emotional fragility the way I intended. But it will have to do for now, because I’m not going to write any more for the moment.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Fractures and Cracks

  1. It’s only fair that I should be in your head, in that Garrison Keillor has been in my brain and I’ve been in his this morning. Mind-sharing can be annoying and dangerous, but it can prompt yard cleaning. So, there’s that.

  2. warrens1or2 says:

    You obviously have been in my head again and also in my yard. I do not like reading about myself, so stop it!

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