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A Scythe of Her Own

Tanya Ito dropped her go bag next to the woman. She was lying on the ground on her side, a broken branch protruding from her right abdomen. Tanya’s flashlight flicked over the area. There was blood, though not much, on her shirt, none on the ground. Most of the bleeding was going to be internal, Tanya thought. Tanya had noticed the crash only by sheer luck. She was on her way back from harvesting some…

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An Epistemological Checklist for the Universal Traveler

1. Always err on the side of compassion. 2. The only meaning to life is what we give it, and even that is an illusion. 3. Conflict is inevitable but winning is impossible. 4. Everything, from rocks to stars, speaks. Unless you listen, you will never know what is important. 5. Absence is as important as presence. The most beautiful symphony is only noise without the silence between the notes. 6. The universe is cyclical.…

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A Bag of Rocks

“Jesus Christ, now what?” Terry Gray said to nobody, as the police cruiser crested the hill and nearly ran into an old man standing on the right tire track. Gray slammed on the brakes and put the car in park. Not like the old guy couldn’t have heard him, the damn ball joints had rattled their entire way up the dirt road. The old man just stood there, staring at Gray and the cruiser like…

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5 Questions you want to ask about my first novel (and their answers)

I recently finished my first novel, a part-time return to the career as a journalist and writer I left nearly 30 years ago. The past eight months have been some of the most incredible that I have experienced. Here’s what you want to know about it. What kind of novel is it? It’s a combination of mystery/suspense and fantasy, the two genres I’ve read and enjoyed most over the years. Written in the first person,…

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How do you laugh in another language?

Over the years, I’ve borne willingly the laughter of many people over my interest in Esperanto. Usually it is some variation of “Who speaks *that*?” spoken a little condescendingly, referring to either the type of person who speaks it or the number of people who speak it. I don’t know how many people speak Esperanto. Nobody does. A good guess? Two million. Will it ever be a dominant language on this planet? Doubtful. But that’s…

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Don’t Win; Change the Game

Yesterday I taught aikido class, and I found myself using language not frequently heard in a martial arts studio. As I was teaching the techniques, I was saying things like “welcome your attacker with open arms,” and “your attacker is your friend, here. Keep him close.” Aikido translates to “The Way of Harmony,” or “The Way of Peace,” but that, in turn, does not translate into “turn the other cheek,” as we in Western cultures…

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The Teachings of Hawk and Butterfly

All in all, it was a difficult week, from the remarkably painful Kavanaugh hearings to my participation in many discussions on the issues, and being surprised all over again by the thoughtlessness, hate, greed and bigotry of my fellow Americans. It was worse for some I know, who relived their own sexual abuse through the story of Dr. Blasey Ford, and were stunned, as we all were, by the complete callousness of those to whom…

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Second Chances

Fall is sneaking in the back door again. The window opened yesterday in the heat of the day is now letting in a decidedly cool breeze, falling over the sill and pooling on the floor, just enough to make my bare toes be the first to wake up, as I watch the coffee percolate. I stand, patiently waiting for the pop of the percolator to stop, watching the water go from clear, to tea-colored, to…

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Still Life With Dojo

I taught class today. In the stillness of the morning before students arrived, I took a picture of Sensei’s brag wall. She started this dojo 25 years ago; I became her student somewhere around 1998–99. Though I took a long break in between then and now, it was not to train at another dojo. And when I first came back to begin training, after an absence of many years, I was overwhelmed by the feeling…

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When to paddle a canoe backwards, and other useful knowledge

I knew as I plopped the Sara J., our 14-foot kevlar canoe, on the sand of Town Beach that I might be getting in a little deep. The wind was not harsh, but fickle, as it gets on Bantam Lake, first blowing this way, then that, then dropping to nothing as opposing gradients of air momentarily intersect. Though the winds weren’t overbearing, the Sara J. is not the most perfect of lake canoes, particularly with…

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