The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life     
. . . still studying and learning how to live
 
 
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
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Autumn is definitely presenting itself outside my kitchen window.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 12:03 pm       Read Comments (2) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Personal Reflections ... Photo ...

As the years go by and I face my old age, the autumn seasons become an almost emotional experience for me. I can no longer look past the shortening days, the growing dark of night, the cooler air, the gusty winds, and the falling leaves from the trees. I now take note of every flower that might still be in bloom, no matter how limp or scrawny, since it might be the last flower for the season. As such, I got my camera out the other day to record this brave morning glory flower rising above the yellowing, dying vines below it.

I heard on the radio that Bruce Springsteen just celebrated his 68th birthday. Even though he’s still famous, and right now he is appearing 5 nights a week on Broadway (i.e., his sold-out play “Springsteen on Broadway“), he had some bittersweet, autumn-like reflections about his own about mortality. “It’s the one thing I miss about growing older,” he said. “I miss the beauty of that blank page and the endless possibilities.”

Yea, Bruce, I know what you mean. But hey — it’s not like the beauty is all gone forever. I’m gonna go Buddha on Bruce and offer this autumn flower to him (and to everyone who feels this way — which must be a whole lot of people, since Bruce still seems to be considered the spokesperson for his generation, at least the working class portion of it). The blank page may be closing, but . . . the flowers will still bloom, in their own good time.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 1:38 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, August 6, 2017
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Just another Friday night at just another Italian restaurant in North Jersey. “A bottle of red, a bottle of white . . . ”

(Actually this is a very nice place, so let me give it a plug — Bazzarelli’s Restaurant in Moonachie, NJ)

◊   posted by Jim G @ 11:02 am       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Monday, July 31, 2017
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I haven’t gone hiking much lately — that’s become another casualty of old age for me. But I did get around to a short stroll not long ago up in one of the local “mini-forest” preserves nearby (Eagle Rock Park in Essex County, NJ). It certainly was nice to be surrounded by woods and sunshine once again.

Unfortunately, natural spots in urban areas are too often littered with human debris. So, the first shot shows a typical Eastern woodland scene on a typical summer morning. And despite the “typicality” of the scene, I think it’s quite easy to see the sacredness of nature in it, the preciousness of the living layer that envelops our planet. The next shot shows a soda can that someone felt they could discard at a spot like this, as though it was just another human garbage dumpster. How can people be so blind? This is hallowed ground!!

Sure, the world has much bigger problems today than litter in a park. E.g., nuclear missiles in North Korea, Donald Trump, access to health care, wage stagnation, climate change . . . where do you begin? Well, I think you begin with every individual’s mind and soul. And throwing garbage in a forest is a sign of a much deeper flaw in human character, a flaw that ultimately manifests itself as an increasingly troubled world. So start small and don’t trash the forest!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:37 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Monday, June 26, 2017
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A group of nuns from the Missionaries of Charity (the order founded by Mother Teresa) are on a stroll through Newark, NJ on a sunny morning. The Missionaries have a small residence on Jay Street in Newark where they run a soup kitchen and provide other services to the poor.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:08 am       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, May 13, 2017
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Walkin’ on broken glass — front steps to an abandoned building, University Avenue, Newark NJ.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 2:47 pm       Read Comments (2) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Photo ... Religion ... Spirituality ...

Although I haven’t been a practicing Catholic for many years now, and even though I disagree with the core belief of the Roman Church that

Jesus is the Son of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who became one of us to free us from sin and to bring us the fullness of God’s revelation . . . Jesus Christ is the Messiah, God’s anointed One, the Savior of the world . . .

there is still one Catholic ritual that I like to participate in. And that takes place once a year on Holy Thursday, the evening of the Thursday before Easter. To commemorate the Last Supper and the vigil of Jesus as he awaited the fatal kiss from Judas and the Temple Guards of the Sanhedrin, some of the local Catholic parishes keep their churches open late so that the faithful can sit in silence. My brother, a practicing Catholic, visits four or five local churches between 9 and 11 PM every Holy Thursday, and so I tag along.

Hey, I still believe in God (pretty much the same kind of God that Jesus believed in), but at this point in my life, sitting in silence each week with a Zen sangha works better for me. And even if I don’t worship Jesus as the Messiah and Savior, I still find him to be a hugely compelling figure who should be taken very seriously. Most of the time, I take Jesus seriously by reading and learning as much as I can about his life and times. Over the past 15 years I’ve digested a lot of books, articles and programs from the “historical Jesus” movement in academia; my “Lenten project” for this year was an audio course by The Teaching Company entitled “Jesus and His Jewish Influences” by Prof. Jodi Magness, an archaeologist with extensive field experience in Israel.

But once a year it’s nice to actually participate in a Jesus-focused ritual with others, and there’s nothing that the good Catholics that I sit in silence with on Holy Thursday do or say that I would disagree with. We would certainly disagree regarding the ultimate implications of what happened on that Passover evening of two millennia ago in Jerusalem, but we all accept  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 12:15 am       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Monday, March 20, 2017
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We’ve had a fairly warm winter here in the northeast, and the relatively mild weather continued thru most of February. The last two weeks of February were exceptionally warm, getting over 60 degrees for 11 of 21 days thru March 9. With a lack of snow cover, the warmth seeped down thru the soil to where flower bulbs rest, and the spring flowers became convinced that it was wake-up time. The crocuses, daffodils, snowdrops and scilla got going and were beginning to sing their joyful songs of color and rebirth.

However, on March 10 the temps crashed and stayed mostly in the 20s and 30s thru the 17th. Early spring flowers can take a cold night or two, but not a 2-week return to February. So here’s what it looks like to be too far ahead of your time. This last revenge of winter will soon be gone, but unfortunately it robbed us of some of the wonderful early flowers that make surviving the horrible winters all seem worthwhile.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:21 am       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
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Looks like this hospitable vittlery is all stocked up and ready for Happy Hour!! This is actually at Taos in East Rutherford, NJ. And yea, I’m giving the place a little plug — I never had an unpleasant moment there, Happy Hour or not.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:47 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Monday, January 16, 2017
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I haven’t gotten out to the woodlands for a hike in many months (old age is catching up with me). But today dawned sunny with temps bound for the upper 30s and maybe even low 40s, so I decided to finally give it a shot. I decided not to be too ambitious, given that it is wintertime and I’m not young anymore. So I picked the highland park closest to my home, which is Ramapo Mountain Park, just off I-287. Ramapo is not exactly deep in the woodlands, and by afternoon is generally loaded with people walking their dogs (versus serious hikers). But it’s still nice, and I managed to stay on my feet for two hours before getting back to the car for lunch and the drive homeward.

Here are four shots from my little “return to the woodlands” trip today. Despite the lack of color and activity, there’s something charming about the woods in winter (at least on a milder day like today).

 »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:09 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
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