September 1st 2019

cofI was still blue today. Not sure what it is. Probably a combination of exhaustion, a return to routine, and the weight of responsibilities I no longer want.

But I’m guessing I’m not alone in feeling that way. What saved me was finally sitting down with my novel,  adding another page, starting a new chapter.

That lifted my mood.

That and September, my favorite month. I also have poems I want to finish.

    autumn clouds—shadows of their own

244: September 1st 2019 | bottlecap


August 31st 2019

I was going to write, in effect, my last post on my journey to Europe. I waited until evening, as I usually do, only for jet lag to suddenly catch up with me. Even typing this first paragraph, I’ve briefly fallen asleep twice. I’ll wait until tomorrow.

    no hurry—a porcupine under the bristling

243: August 31st 2019 | bottlecap


August 30th 2019

DSC01948Hello fellow travelers. I’m sitting at the Berlin Airport as I write this. I’ll probably be boarding the plane soon. And so will be writing this post in various parts of the globe. I took photos while riding in the back of the taxi. My sorrow at my daughter’s absence returned while leaving Berlin. It’s a strange thing to have cared for a someone for so long, to have held them newly born in your arms, to have read them stories night after night, to have scared the monsters away, to have played with them and laughed with them, only to see them go off  one day—and have no voice to look after.


And that gets me thinking about home again. I’m sorry to go and sorry to come home.


And now I’ve arrived at the Dublin airport. I’d like to try again to formulate my thoughts on what home means to me, but with so little time , I struggle. Robert Frost said that home is where they have to let you in.

DSC01938Maybe it’s also possible that home is where they have to let you go.

And home is where you have to be willing to let go.

    in a little courtyard—the cricket's worldly

242: August 30th 2019 | bottlecap


August 29th 2019

DSC01912Hello fellow travelers. Today was my last day in Berlin; and it’s been too hot. At first all I wanted to do was to hide at Bikini Berlin. That’s a building across from the Gedächtniskirche that was renovated and made into a shopping center. It’s air-conditioned. But to call it a shopping center doesn’t do it justice. I remember the building originally and it was nothing special. One of the businesses on the first floor was a second rate bookstore mostly appealing to tourists and Germans in a hurry. What I like about it is that it demonstrates how a third rate building can be transformed into a first rate piece of architecture. On principle, and being a builder myself, I would rather renovate than forever be building new buildings. The world is getting small, fast; and thinking about it, I suppose I’m that way in my poetry too. Old forms—the sonnet, blank verse, lyrics, haiku—are maybe like old buildings. Let the skilled poet, like the skilled architect, rebuild and renovate these old forms. Make them into something old and new at the same time—and beautiful.


But then it might also be said that life itself is a thing of constant renovation. No sooner do we think the balance of our lives is plumb and level, than some circumstance puts into us the need for new plans and a rebuilding.


I traveled as far North as the S-Bahn’s S1 line (the above ground train) would take me—Oranienburg. I had never been up there and the ride reminded me of Boston’s Green Line trip to riverside (though the S-Bahn goes much further and quicker). The ride takes about 40 minutes including all the stops, and one goes through increasingly wooded neighborhoods and, at the very end, a beautiful red pine, I think, forest—tall red pines under which mushrooms grow.


And at Oranienburg I discovered the Schloss Oranienburg.


And that’s my photo.

Though it’s hard to see, the tarp on the front of the palace says “Nie Wieder”, which means ‘Never Again’. The tarp shows a picture of the palace from the 30’s bedecked with Nazi regalia and a giant poster of Hitler. Here it is. After the Nazis repurposed the palace as a training ground for the SS, the Russians and then later the East Germans used it for similar purposes—a sad tale for this beautiful building. Though even in its first days it was a showpiece for the aristocracy. Now, finally, if a building can at last be happy and be said to be at home with itself, the Schloss is become a museum of art and keeps a café in its shadow. Behind it is a landscaped garden, a vast expanse of yard and paths, open to the public.


Tomorrow’s post is apt to be short and possibly late. I fly home and lose six hours from my day.

    August's clouds—thin as women's

241: August 29th 2019 | bottlecap


August 28th 2019

DSC01872Hello fellow travelers. I decided today that all conversation is like speaking a foreign language; there’s nothing that can’t be lost in translation. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s experienced that.

That experience got me to thinking that words are like colors. We all think we see the same colors, but do we really? And we all think we use words the same way, but words are really like little fairy tales. If I ask what a word means, first will come the dictionary definition; if I ask again, a little of the word’s story will appear; and if I ask a third time, who knows but the word is apt to unfold like a fairy tale. If I ask you about jam, you may tell me a story about your childhood, butter, the bread, the flavor and the stickiness of it on your hands. And what made me think of that? The photo below.


The window is hard to read, but it says: mediapioneer. 100% Journalismus. Keine Märchen. That made me laugh. I don’t know what the business is, but the “subtitle” may be translated as: 100% Journalism. No Fables. I laughed because fables and fairy tales were the journalism of their day. Many stories, like Bluebeard, and many nursery rhymes, were likely inspired my real events. The great fables and fairy tales speak truth to child and adult alike, across cultures and across time.

DSC01906I tried to take some pictures of German houses in the neighborhoods of Wannsee and Dahlemdorf, but I can never make these pictures interesting. You will seldom find a stick framed house or a house with wood clapboards. All houses are built with stuccoed concrete blocks and once they’re built they look just as immovable. There’s something about the wood-clapboarded New England house that makes it feel as though its more apt to one day tell you all its stories—the tired porch, crooked windows, the sway-back roof and squeaking stairs.



Robert Frost once said that to be a poet in New England was as good as to carry a mill stone round ones neck. To call oneself a dreamer isn’t too different. And yet some of our most memorable words begin: “I have a dream…” And one of our greatest songs tells us:

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.

I don’t know what inspires me to write all that? Maybe describing my dreaming in yesterday’s post. Or it might be that the word dream has in it some of the most beautiful fairy tales in the language—both lived and yet to come.


    nights—first the mother's then the child's 

240: August 28th 2019 | bottlecap


August 27th 2019

DSC01847Hello fellow travelers. I got to thinking today about home and what it means. Every so often I have dreams of places that giver me the feeling of absolute joy and happiness—the feeling that I’m finally home.

In one such dream I was walking with a friend in a mid-afternoon courtyard that was broad and paved with cobblestone. On two sides was a building that was open to the courtyard with rows of arches and beyond the building I could see an ocean and terrace where there were restaurants and cafés. There were children running and playing. There were teenagers walking hand in hand.


There were kites and others walking with balloons. About midway through the courtyard, I remember a flock of origami birds swirling around us, then back into the air. I recalled feeling that I had been in this place before.


When I was a child, I once had a dream that I would find my home when I crossed a wide stone bridge over a broad river. On the other side of the bridge, the landscape changed from pasture and rolling hills to the steep mountains topped with snow. For many years I looked for that bridge, but never found it.


I would like to say that I have discovered what home really means, but I haven’t. Maybe it’s not something to be discovered out there. Maybe home is in the garden, in the book being read or written, the airplane, a favorite stretch of road, or where we find our friends and lovers—a place being created, changing and lived in every moment.


    late August's heat—the cicada's cry

239: August 27th 2019 | bottlecap



August 26th 2019

I’m not sure my photographs are all that interesting today. I tried to find new neighborhoods to walk in, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t quite get lost.

DSC01788Something that I liked to do last year was to take pictures of whatever was underfoot. While others were taking pictures of monuments, landmarks and works of art, I was taking pictures of the sidewalk. When I was touring of one of Frederick the Great’s outlying retreats in the neighborhood of Potsdam, and others were asking about the fine china and the works of art, I wanted to know if the wide pine floorboards were original. Builder that I’ve been, I wanted to know if I was standing on the same wood floor as Frederick the Great.


Apart from restaurants and cafés, unlike the US, businesses are mostly closed on Sunday. I went out shortly after the church bells were rung marking the end of Sunday services. Berlins sandy playgrounds, those close by churches, were filled with children dressed for contemplation. Girls took to swings with ribbons, pigtails, braids and sundresses rippling after and before them—or they chased each other around.


I had a scoop of oat milk vanilla and oat milk chocolate ice cream in the afternoon.


I’ll be flying home to Vermont on Thursday and am looking forward to fresh apple cider, the scent of newly stacked firewood and cool Autumn nights.


    for the honeybee too—morning

238: August 26th 2019 | bottlecap



December 31st 2017

With a pinch of sorrow I write my last haiku tonight—the last for 2017. I will write another year’s worth of haiku, but not next year. I went out again and captured some of what’s going on in Vermont.
This was a blind photo, as I had to stand on my tiptoes and hold the camera as far over my head as I could—a couple scrogglings with their caps of snow.
apple branch

Despite the cold, which tonight may almost reach -30 below, winter is never so beautiful.

The sun doesn’t have it itself to melt the snow that caps the branches, apples still dangling from the tree (all with their little winter’s caps), or the limbs of the evergreens.
····whichever way—the Milky Way and horizon
The wind-raked icicles on my house. Though they’re charming, they’re a bad sign. They mean that you’re losing too much heat through a poorly insulated roof. That’s something I’ll fix this summer or next. If the windows look like they’re leaning, that’s because they are. The house was built in the 1810’s and the wall was farmer-built, braced to last as long as the farmer, not for 200 years. The wall twisted and all the window openings with it. When I put in the new windows, I reasoned it was the character of the house. That’s how the house wants them. And that’s how you will always know an old house from a modern reproduction. To really reproduce the old colonial houses, a builder needs throw out his levels. Then, when all the clapboard’s are out of tune, the roof a little out of sorts, and the windows not quite right, you’ll know the reproduction was done good.
playgroundAnd to the left is a little bit of a playground I rescued. These climbers were headed for the metal scrap. Couldn’t bear that. I had them brought to my back yard with a front loader and my girls played and played on them—and still do just a little. A house with children is the right place for them to retire.
And with that, my haiku year ends. To all a Happy New Year.
365 December 31st 2017 | bottlecap