I see on my dashboard that Weekends in Paradelle  has moved past the 1,000 posts mark this past weekend. I try to write a few things every weekend here, and I’ve been doing this particular blog (Is that what it is? I’m not sure. I think of many of these as essays.) since the summer of 2008.

giphyIt started out as being observations about what I was thinking about, or about writing, occasionally it is about things I am doing (or would like to do), a few excursions into health, and even what I am listening to.  The last year or so, many of my observations (perhaps too many for some of you) have been less Earthbound and more about looking up to the heavens to celestial observations, like my monthly posts about the Full Moons. I still like to write about what I am reading, and about things I am looking at virtually or otherwise.

If I miss a weekend post or just write a quick one, it may be because I was busy with one of the other sites I have (perhaps foolishly) continued to write on.

keyboardingEndangered New Jersey is my blog that focuses on the parts of New Jersey that are threatened or endangered. This includes fish and wildlife species, but also natural spaces, historic preservation and the environment of our densely populated and wildly diverse state. This blog grew out of my thirty years of volunteer work for the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Serendipity35 was where I started blogging in 2006 and it still gets the highest number of readers every month. It has my thoughts about learning and technology and the places where they intersect..

giphy2As part of my own life in poetry, I blog about poetry at Poets Online which is a companion blog to the PoetsOnline.org site that I have been doing since 1998. It has many writing prompts and many more poems that have been submitted to those prompts that hopefully inspire further writing.

In 2014, I did a daily poem project called Writing the Day that has the 365 poems from that year that were all written in the ronka poetry form. Since then, I continue writing ronkas there, but without the metronome clicking a daily beat.

And I also make an occasional post based on my personal fascination with the etymology of words and the origins of names on a site I call Why Name It That? which looks at the origins of the names of people, products, teams, words, phrases. The most popular category is the names of rock bands.

jerry-lewis-typingMore than a thousand posts here, and I have no idea how many if you total up all these sites.

Too many online posts.

It really does eat away at my writing of more “serious” things, like an actual manuscript to be published in the old-fashioned paper manner – but this online habit is a tough one to kick.  And I guess it also eats away at free time, time with my wife, travel, gardening, walking…


“When someone seeks, then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal.”  – Siddhartha

I read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse when I was a sophomore in high school. A good age to be a seeker. It is a small and simple story and has become a classic. You could read it in a day or a weekend, but I would suggest that you read it slower. Pause between chapters.Read in a quiet place. Perhaps you should read this book late at night or early in the morning or at the point that is not quite night or morning.

“I do not consider myself less ignorant than most people. I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books. I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. My story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor harmonious, as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams — like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves.”

Siddhartha is set in India and in it we meet the Buddha. It is a novel about a young man, Siddhartha, who leaves his family to have a contemplative life. But that journey doesn’t work. He becomes restless again. He leaves that life and follows a life of the flesh. He gets a woman pregnant and has a son. His life bores him. He becomes sick of the lust and greed that surrounds him and yet has a hold on him.

At a river, he hears a unique sound that signals to him the true beginning of his life. This begins with suffering and rejection, but ultimately finds peace and wisdom.

Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, O worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.”

My next Hesse book was Steppenwolf which seemed like the logical next book, although it is not at all a sequel. Hesse (1877-1962) was a Westerner attracted to the mysticism of Eastern thought. In Steppenwolf, the protagonist, Harry Haller, is a sad, lonely, reclusive intellectual. He feels sometimes that he is a wild primeval wolf. Like Siddhartha, he has trouble dealing with the good life he lives but also despises.

Rather than a river and a sound, Harry’s life changes when he meets a woman who is his opposite. Hermine is carefree and elusive. This second novel did not capture me as Siddhartha had done. Maybe this Westerner seemed too much like me.

“… there is no innocence and no singleness. Every created thing, even the simplest, is already guilty, already multiple. It has been thrown into the muddy stream of being and may never more swim back again to its source. The way to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life. Nor will suicide really solve your problem […] You will, instead, embark on the longer and wearier and harder road of life. You will have to multiply many times your two-fold being and complicate your complexities still further. Instead of narrowing your world and simplifying your soul, you will have to absorb more and more of the world and at last take all of it up in your painfully expanded soul, if you are ever to find peace.”

Even though Hesse told me that “This is the road that Buddha and every great man has gone, whether consciously or not, insofar as fortune has favored his quest,” I much preferred to walk the road with Siddhartha.

For many years, I have been scribbling quotations in blank books. Nowadays, I often pass them on via the Internet. I have a number of them from Hesse and most are from Siddhartha. Here are a few for any seekers reading this post. Read and apply with caution.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go.

Often it is the most deserving people who cannot help loving those who destroy them.

I live in my dreams — that’s what you sense. Other people live in dreams, but not in their own.
That’s the difference. (from Demian)

You are willing to die, you coward, but not to live.”

It is not for me to judge another man’s life.
I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.

Each man had only one genuine vocation – to find the way to himself….His task was to discover his own destiny –
not an arbitrary one – and to live it out wholly and resolutely within himself.
Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one’s own inwardness.

I have always been a great dreamer. In dreams I have always been more active than in my real life,
and these shadows sapped me of my health and energy.

Because the world is so full of death and horror, I try again and again to console my heart
and pick the flowers that grow in the midst of hell. (from Narcissus and Goldmund)

If I know what love is, it’s because of you.

He lost his Self a thousand times and for days on end he dwelt in non-being. But although the paths took him away from Self, in the end they always led back to it. Although Siddhartha fled from the Self a thousand times, dwelt in nothing, dwelt in animal and stone, the return was inevitable; the hour was inevitable when he would again find himself in sunshine or in moonlight, in shadow or in rain, and was again Self and Siddhartha, again felt the torment of the onerous life cycle.

The river is everywhere.


1880s image by Kimbei Kusakabe gave a rare look inside a Japanese teahouse.

I wrote earlier this week that today’s Full Moon will not have a “second moon” beside it, but it will be a “Supermoon” just to further confuse people and the media. The full moon of August 29, 2015 will be the first of this year’s three full Supermoons.

moon japanA “Supermoon” is a newish term used to describe a full moon near perigee, or near its closest point to Earth for the month. In Paradelle, the Moon will be full in the early afternoon (2:35 pm) and that full moment occurs at the same instant all over the world, but we mess that up with time zones. And, logically, people will always think of the Moon, full or not, as a nighttime event.

The sun will be shining this afternoon and the moon will be hiding on the other side of the world, beneath my feet.

In North America, we often call the August full moon the Sturgeon Moon (especially near the Great Lakes), Corn Moon or Grain Moon. Another name for this month’s Full Moon is the Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it may appear more reddish through any sultry haze.

I chose to name this post after the play and movie title The Teahouse of the August Moon only because it seems rather Romantic. I saw that movie a long time ago on TV as a kid and its seemed that way to me.

teahouseposterThe Teahouse Of The August Moon is a 1956 American comedy film that was meant to satirize the U.S. occupation and then “Americanization” of the island of Okinawa following the end of World War II. It starred Marlon Brando in what we would probably view today as the “politically incorrect” role of a Japanese local named Sakini who acts as interpreter for the Americans. The Americans include Captain Fisby (Glenn Ford) who has been assigned to Americanize the village of Tobiki on Okinawa by his commanding officer, Colonel Wainwright Purdy III (Paul Ford).

They would like the villagers to build a school in the shape of a pentagon, but the locals want to build a teahouse instead. The Americans try to start a  souvenir industry there to revive the local economy, but that fails. Success comes from discovering that the islanders make a sweet potato brandy which becomes a popular product with the American soldiers.

I did some research about the film (which had earlier been a play) and found praise and ridicule. Some critics saw it as a way to improve racial tolerance in the United States towards the Japanese in the decade after a terrible war. Though it is a comedy, it has a pretty open discussion of interracial marriage. But critics also saw the film as stereotyping Asian American women as passive geisha girl, china dolls from the world of Suzie Wong. Casting Brando as Japanese was termed as yellowface casting.

I also found that in the Chinese calendar, there is a Mid-Autumn Festival that falls on the full moon of the eighth month,, so I thought that might be something to mark in this post. But in the Chinese calendar, that would occur somewhere between mid-September to early October in our Gregorian calendar.

Should you expect the Supermoon to look bigger? Probably not, unless you are a very close observer of all Full Moons.

If you’re at the ocean, being  relatively close to Earth, this month’s full moon will pull harder than usual on Earth’s oceans and you can expect higher-than-usual tides to follow this full moon by a day or two.

By the way, the closest and largest full supermoon of the year will be on September 28.

It has been hot and dry for the past month, but I am still feeling a damp November in my soul. Like any despondent Ishmael with nothing particular to interest me on shore, I am sitting here looking at a pond, paging through this book again, and wishing I could be in a watery part of the world.

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.

Last night, looking up at the night sky, I saw indefiniteness, voids, and the immensities of the universe. The white depths of the Milky Way made me think of the albino whale. “Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?”

ahabOn the way here this morning, I passed a Starbucks store which only made me think about Starbuck watching the old man at the edge of the ship heavily leaned over the side. “He seemed to hear in his own true heart the measureless sobbing that stole out of the centre of the serenity around. Careful not to touch him, or be noticed by him, he yet drew near to him, and stood there.”

Staring over the railing of the bridge at this pond, I see “that all other earthly hues — every stately or lovely emblazoning — the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtle deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without…”

There is a storm brewing to the south that may move this way over the Labor Day weekend. I don’t want to be knocking people’s hats off. I fear the pistol and ball and falling on my sword. Maybe rain will wash away some of the dust, and the leaves and grass will green again and slip into a better September of the soul.

double moon hoaxThe idea that it will look like there is a double Full Moon this week on the August 27 because Mars is passing so close to Earth that it appears the same size as the Moon in the night sky, is complete lunacy.

This is a story – usually accompanied by a photo like the one here that I really hesitated to spread around again – that has had a very healthy life on social media and even earlier via email since the turn of the century.

It really gained power in 2003 when Mars did pass within 35 million miles of Earth on Aug. 27 of that year. Yes, that was its closest approach to our planet in nearly 60,000 years. But even though Mars appeared six times bigger and 85 times brighter in the night sky than it normally does, it was nowhere near the size of the Moon. It still looked like the reddish star.

If you have time to waste and search “double moon,” you’ll get lots of results. Facebook, the main vector of misinformation these days, has over a million shares on the hoax.  There may be a nice Full Moon to see in your night sky this week, but nothing more captivating about it than the monthly wonder of seeing it up there.

I have been seeing lots of groups walking my university campus the past few weeks., and a good amount of students with parents looking at maps and asking where the mechanical engineering building is located, and posts on Facebook from parents who are sad (far fewer willing to post any gladness) at their first child heading off to college.

Beloit College always gets some online buzz at this time of year when it posts its “mindset list” of historical and cultural references that incoming frosh will or will not have grown up knowing.

The Class of 2019’s 50 factoids about them include:

  • They have never licked a postage stamp.
  • They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.
  • The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position impressed their parents more than them.
  • The Lion King has always been on Broadway.
  • TV has always been in high-definition.
  • Their first steps were recorded on camcorders.
  • Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione are their lifelong buddies.
  • There has always been Google.
  • Email is “formal” communication. Texts and tweets are the casual way to connect.
  • They grew up with South Park.
  • Color photos have always adorned the front page of The New York Times. 
  • Cell phones are ubiquitous, even  in class, and teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are on Facebook.
  • Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.

On the Beloit website, they say the list can be used as ” icebreakers for counselors and professors” but I can’t imagine a good conversation growing from these little glimpses of generational differences. Any suggestions?

virgoI see that today we enter Virgo, sixth sign of the zodiac. Virgo is represented by the Virgin. Not to be taken literally for those under that sign, though they are supposed to be modest. Also exacting, servers of humanity, a bit repressed, maybe picky and critical, also industrious, methodical and efficient with a strong sense of duty. My sister is a Virgo and she is none of those things.

I have written a few times about the zodiac both as it relates to the stars and to astrology. I think everyone has a passing knowledge of astrology or at least horoscopes. I was born on October 20 and so I am a Libra (or a Libran?). Until I read that I might be a Virgo because an astronomer claims that a shift in the Earth’s alignment has changed zodiac dates and added a 13th Zodiac sign.


An astrological chart for those babies born January 1, 2000 at 12:01:00 A.M. in New York City,

I had a girlfriend in college who was really into astrology. She dismissed my doubts by saying that the horoscopes we see in newspapers and magazine are garbage because they are for an entire sign. She did a natal chart for me. It was a very pretty map of the universe with me at the center. A nice ego stroke to be there.

She calculated for the exact time and location of the my birth. This was no broad Libra chart. This was just for me. (And I suppose for anyone else born that day, at that time, at 40.7242° N, 74.1726° W on the planet.)

I don’t have the chart. I wish I did. It was quite a work of art. It showed the positions of the sun, moon, planets, and a few other celestial objects. There was a comet in there, as I recall.

There were signs that were rising, setting, culminating up and culminating down. I have an ascendant/rising sign and a descendant one. There were angles and degrees so that she could map the positions of my twelve houses. I had hoped one might be “The House of the Rising Sun,” the first song I learned on the guitar.

She told me things about myself that were quite accurate. Of course, she knew me fairly well at that point, so I was still skeptical.  I have forgotten all of it.

She got my attention. She would later pretty solidly convince me that I had an experience where a previous life had broken through to this one. Very strange.

I still will come upon my horoscope and read it.  It said recently that the Moon in flowing aspect to Jupiter will keep me in an amiable humor. That’s nice.  Today, with Mercury tucked out of sight in one of my emotional houses, my feelings might be clouding my judgment. Explain that to my wife, who failed today to succumb to my amiable humor.

And tomorrow’s prediction? From one website:  “It should be a bright, breezy and bouncy day. You`re looking for things that get you away from the ordinary, that aren’t going to tie you into boring ruts and routines. Just don’t let emotional whims send you off spending too much on the spur of the moment. Certainly you want more beautiful things around you. Maybe you are trying to compensate just a touch for a lack you feel elsewhere.”


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