Hard Times Come Again No More

No, it is not your eyes. The photo above is a clear photo of a blurry moment.

The photo above was taken two nights ago while I was taking photos of the sun striking some clouds over a Walmart parking lot and the car door that I was holding myself steady against decided to remind me that it was not all the way open. It is an inadvertent action shot.

When I looked at the photo, at first to delete it, I recognized the scene like I was seeing an old friend that I had not hung out with in a few years: my old, uncorrected vision. From age seven till two years ago, the photo above pretty neatly captures what the world looked like when I took my glasses off, which I did quite frequently, as my eyes were often tired.

For me to tell you that the world was blurry was for you to tell me that rain is wet.
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My Duck Companion

If you are reading this page on a Windows browser, there should be a logo on left side of the tab at top, a little green-brown-yellow blob. I first placed it there as an inside joke with myself, but the story is worth sharing. The full-size photo is at the top. (Most of this first appeared in a post from December 2013, “A Duck About Town.”)

It is a photo of a duck. The photo was taken in 2013, and it was added at the last second on the very first post written later that year. If you have looked at this web site once or a thousand times (thanks, mom!), the duck has been there, on whatever device you use, each time. It is this site’s mascot, a companion to each piece I write.
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A Trip to the City

Public transportation is a wonderful thing. The Tri-State area surrounding New York City, where I live, is more than adequately served by public transit. All 20,000,000-plus of us who reside here live at maximum a short drive away from a train station or a bus stop that offers regular service to and from the Big City and parts in between; thousands (perhaps millions) of us live within walking distance of a bus or a train station.

The last vehicles that leave NYC leave well after midnight, and the earliest vehicles heading to NYC from the farthest reaches outside the city leave only a couple hours after that time, so public transportation runs almost 20 of the 24 hours a day.

If you live or travel in New York City, you know the official Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway map. NYC has 490 stops or stations spread among its five boroughs, and the picturesque map shows the lines snaking through the city:
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Mountains out of Steps

My least favorite cases are staircases. My least favorite ways are stairways. My least favorite air is a stair.

The photo above (not at all) accurately depicts (for reasons of comic exaggeration) what every staircase resembles in my mind’s eye. Including the one in my home. It is life with mobility impairment. Once upon a pair of teenage legs ago, I took stairs two at a time.

In 2012 my first neurologist, Dr. M, diagnosed me with late-onset Friedreich’s ataxia, or at least he reported that he felt I have a form of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), a disease that has dozens of forms and is genetic in origin.
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A Healthy Sense of …

A friend used to say, “If everyone could throw their problems onto a table in the middle of the room and then listen to each other’s stories, everyone would go crazy trying to make sure they got their own problem back.”

Another friend is fond of saying about his problems (he is 84): “If that’s the worst thing I have to worry about today, I’m having a good day.”

These both came to mind this morning when I awoke with a backache. I do not know what I do in my sleep that is somehow more active than whatever I do while awake; I wish that fellow who occupies my body at night would leave me a crossed-off to-do list just to let me know.
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My Shadow Knows Nothing

At once sarcastic and tender, W.H. Auden’s “The More Loving One” asks us to imagine a night sky empty of stars:

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

 
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

 
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

 
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
— “The More Loving One,” W.H. Auden, 1957

I might very well like a starless sky and call it sublime or subtle in its black-on-black nuance, the poet declares, and not mourn the sight of a supernova, which is after all the explosive death of a star, and I may not notice the absence of one should it simply blink out, but in all matters, “If equal affection cannot be,/Let the more loving one be me.”

In all matters attracting my human attention, be it the night sky or my beloved’s face, let the more loving one be me.
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Take the Stairs

My least favorite cases are staircases. My least favorite ways are stairways. My least favorite air is a stair.

The photo above (not at all) accurately depicts (for reasons of comic exaggeration) what every staircase resembles in my mind’s eye. Including the one in my home. It is life with mobility impairment. Once upon a pair of teenage legs ago, I took stairs two at a time.

In 2012 my first neurologist, Dr. M, diagnosed me with late-onset Friedreich’s ataxia, or at least he reported that he felt I have a form of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), a disease that has dozens of forms and is genetic in origin.
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Oh! The Places You Won’t Go

Mistakes suck. Errors do, too.

Adverbs will never go hungry for a lack of work in many writers’ drafts, including mine, but that part of speech demands erasure whenever one encounters it. Adverbs are the empty calories of the English language: They are tasty, and they appear to be helpful when we want to bend a verb to do our verbal bidding and guide our eager reader(s) to share our thought-patterns, when context and the verb itself are capable of handling the task just fine on their own. They are potato chips and cotton candy blended into a linguistic smoothie.

All of the personal errors in my history can be described with an adverb, colorfully. Merely an adverb minus a verb or other details, so no personal stuff, no self-incriminating or embarrassing information might be revealed: complacently, awkwardly, abruptly, vigorously, languorously, braggingly, disgustingly, violently, wrongly. Timidly. Brazenly. Very. Many “verys” in there.
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