GNL number 127

a report of doings at meeting #127, Sunday, March 11, 2018,
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


The road is always better than the inn.

The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one.
A path is …..a habit that comes with knowledge of a place…..a form
of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the
perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to
place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets, it
goes around.
—–Wendell Berry, the Art of the Commonplace: the Agrarian Essays

Water is the most perfect traveler because when it travels, it becomes
the path itself!
—–Mehmet Mural Ildan, Turkish writer


Ann opened today’s conversation on Roads/Paths/Trails with a look at
those, and more. Her vision took us to LA, where roads indeed make the
city, and back to NY state where some roads, like route 20 (she’s
lived near for decades), started out as Indian trails. She spoke of
Roman roads and aqueducts, and read part of a World Economic Forum
report on the value of roads, gave us her 6-wordies, a wordstring of
road synonyms, Frost’s famous nottaken Road, and a fine start down the
meeting road. See AFTERWORDS for her notes and quotes.

Nancy cited another recent favorite gift, Robert MacFarlane’s book,
The Wild Places (of the British Isles), and the chapter in which he
describes exploring those old sunken paths called Holloways of
southern England. None less than 300 years old and some from the Iron
Age, these ditch-like paths can be 20 feet deep, and magically
overgrown inside with old vines, brambles,tree roots, other living
things. N read some descriptive passages and later gave a link to an
excerpt with stunning photos. See AW for another link.

Marge was recalling more of her travels, especially her and Don’s
two-week trip in the late 1990’s to Nepal, they did a lot of walking;
she said they were led and served by gurkhas (retired army officers)
who did a great job walking them close to rhinos and elephants, some
of whom were being ridden by humans! Again, they learned so much
visiting a very different faraway place, and enjoying the kindness of

Louise spoke of her recent personal ‘journey’, as first related to her
daughter’s allergies and symptoms that sent L researching on the
effects of electricity/electrolytes in health and illness; also how
our society is more and more apt to abuse our bodies, and medical
system more apt to just treat the symptom. Second, in her work as a
member of Sustainable Schoharie, she had developed a public education
leaflet detailing the effects of our use of glyphosate (Round-up). We
found the prototype very impressive, and wanted to support it.

Gail, like Marge, recalled a wonderful trip with much walking—one
she took years ago with her mom to the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings
built almost 1000 years ago by Puebloan (or Anasazi) people in
Colorado. She said the beautiful settlement of cliff dwellings was
very evocative of the lives lived there, where everything was done by
hand, and so much a part of the landscape (and where one had to be
careful walking).

Cynthia’s first thought was a memory of several years ago when she and
Ron had their camp, and kept getting GPS-misled trucks up the by-road,
sometimes landing in a ditch and needing a pull-out. She’s mistrusted
GPS ever since. She also cited Anne Hills songs like Follow the Road.
And announced a project she’s started called 30×30—30 photos along
Rte 30south, from which she may do some artistic versions of her own.

We decided to direct our offering today to Sustainable Schoharie (the
Center for Sustainable Rural Communities), of which Louise is a


He used to often say there was only one Road; that it was like a great
river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its
—–JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Travelers, there is no path: paths are made by walking.
—–Antonio Machado, Spanish poet

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till
sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
—–John Muir


Sunday, April 15, 2018 (1030), at Gail Sondergaard’s in
Worcester. The topic, appropriately enough, is CHANGES


from Nancy

a link to the Dorset Rambler, Oct. 27, 2015: The Holloways of Dorset

from Ann:

  • I remember riding in the car as a child, looking out and down at the
    sandy, round stoned back roads to our neighbors or to the beach.
    There was special “feel” to the bumpiness and quality of the sound
    like no other type of road, especially not the back roads in clay
    soils with sharp and flinty geologies. Of course car tires have
    changed over the years as has the body integrity of cars, so the sound
    would then be just a childhood memory, unrelatable to more recent
    trips along back roads.
  • Roads make life possible… or deadly. When “wild”life (is there such
    a beast any more?) intersects with Route 20, I-88, Hone Road, there
    will always be carnage. But sets of trails, roads, pathways are
    necessary for our existence.
  • Roads, bypasses, byways, drives, circles, cul-de-sacs, lanes, streets,
    avenues, routes, boulevards, highways, parkways, thruways, dead ends,
    no outlets, interstates, turnouts, must turns ( T intersections),
    viaducts, etc.

>From the World Economic Forum report :”How far do roads contribute to
development?” December 2015 –

  • Roads are the arteries through which the economy pulses. By linking
    producers to markets, workers to jobs, students to school, and the
    sick to hospitals, roads are vital to any development agenda. Since
    2002, the World Bank has constructed or rehabilitated more than
    260,000 km of roads. It lends more for roads than for education,
    health, and social services combined. However, while roads bring
    economic and social benefits, they can also come with social costs
    such as pollution or deforestation. The Amazon rainforest is
    crisscrossed by almost 100,000 km of roads—enough to circle the Earth
    two and a half times. And the transport sector accounts for about 23
    percent of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and a
    significant share of local particle pollution. Such tradeoffs need to
    be weighed when planning any intervention.
  • Policy makers favor highly visible physical investments, in particular
    building roads. Sometimes roads are built or upgraded even when demand
    hardly justifies it. Less intuitively, investing in roads is also
    sometimes the wrong intervention when demand is high. Increasing the
    supply of roads in high density areas will not reduce congestion when
    it attracts additional users in the same or even higher proportion.


Before roads there was peace and quiet ????

Calm and still – then a path, then a trail, then a highway, then a
freeway… still but not calm.

A single step becomes a ballet, a single note becomes a symphony, a
single road becomes … gridlock.

>From Frost’s Road Not Taken, the last lines are,

“ Two roads diverged
in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the

Yet how can the writer know there was a difference?

Six Wordies

  • Mired deep in the road taken.
  • Anna’s odyssey, a road now confused.
  • Ancient steps worn in ancient stone.
  • Pathways of communication are varied, many.
  • Trails became roads in Mohawk Valley.
  • Notice old farm roads in subdivisions.
  • Getting from here to there…gps.
  • Roads over, under, around, and through.
  • Trail and error become spur paths.


“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


GNL number 126

a report of doings at meeting #126, Sunday, February 11, 2018,
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


We don’t need to have just one favorite. We keep adding favorites.
Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us
at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have
other favorites that give us whatever we most need at that particular
time. But we never lose the old favorites. They’re always with us.
We just sort of accumulate them. —– novelist Lloyd Alexander


Nancy opened this conversation on FAVORITES, admitting, no surprise,
her favorite thing is music.She brought some examples, new and old:
first a cd of traditional music of Brittany recently brought back by
her daughter, which we played at lunch. Then, reminded of old
favorites from old days up on the hill when the kids were growing up
listening to traditional Irish songs, she sang one called Eileen
Aroon. And she had too to read a couple of favorite poet Mary Oliver’s
poems. See AFTERWORD for her notes.

Marge, who said her favorite thing is travel, brought us a show’n’tell
of her and Don’s fabulous trip to New Zealand in 2011(only weeks after
his bypass surgery). They went on their own, staying in B&Bs and
meeting local people who were very friendly and helpful. She said one
of their most memorable encounters was with the little penguins who
would walk up to you. And she showed us photos, cards, memorabilia
from this beautiful country in a scrapbook she’d made (as she’d made
from each of their trips all over the world).

Gail brought us a list of her favorites in categories, introducing it
as short and simple and not really a poem—but we thought it
beautiful and coming very close. It follows here:
My Favorites
The Flower—the one that is blooming now.
The Bird—what is flying by.
The Weather—It’s what’s coming from the sky
The Place—where ever I am at.
The Movie—whatever the mood calls for.
The Person—who I’m enjoying at the moment.
The Activity—the one I am participating in now.
My Favorite is the Love of Living Life.

Ann introduced her comments as brief and simple too, as she had one
very strong sense of favorite that dated from years ago—what
Favorite Time feels like when you’re finally out of school and
liberated from the rule, agenda, requirements, choices of institutions
like school, and free finally to decide things like what books to read
for yourself! Feels like joy and relief, and that’s the memory and
feeling her comment called up for the rest of us too!

Sue first gave us her word research on Favorite, and quotes, including
from a favorite teacher, the Teaching on Love, by Thich Nhat Hanh. But
most, she told us about one of her favorite things of recent times,
her Torah studies, which she’s been doing with a friend once a week,
and on her own more often during the week. These explorations,
especially into the writings of Avivah Zornberg, have become more and
more important to her, a path to learning how to live one’s life well.
For her notes and quotes, see AW.

We decided it was time to send our offering to one of our favorite
programs, the House of Flowers in Afghanistan.


I don’t care if I can’t sing. This is my favorite song. Therefore I will sing.

I love songs. Songs are my favorite things.—-Fresh Air’s Terry Gross


:Sunday, March 11, 2018 (1030), at Nancy’s house inCobleskill. The subject is


from Nancy:

Eileen Aroon
(after the Gaelic of Carol O’Day, 17th c poet)

I know a valley fair, Eileen Aroon,
I know a cottage there, Eileen Aroon,
Far in the valley shade, I know a tender maid,
Flower of the hazel glade, Eileen Aroon.

Who in the song so sweet, Eileen Aroon,
Who in the dance so fleet, Eileen Aroon,
Dear are her charms to me, dearer her laughter free,
Dearest her constancy, Eileen Aroon.

Were she no longer true, Eileen Aroon,
What would her lover do, Eileen Aroon,
Fly with a broken chain, far o’er the sounding main,
Never to love again, Eileen Aroon.

Youth will in time decay, Eileen Aroon,
Beauty must fade away, Eileen Aroon,
Castles are sacked in war, chieftains are scattered far,
Truth is a fixed star, Eileen Aroon.

And from Mary Oliver’s collection Devotions:

White Heron Rises over Blackwater

I wonder
what it is
that I will accomplish

if anything
can be called
that marvelous word.
It won’t be

my kind of work,
which is only putting
words on a page,
the pencil

haltingly calling up
the light of the world,
yet nothing appearing on paper
half as bright

as the mockingbird’s
verbal hilarity
in the still unleafed shrub
in the churchyard—

or the white heron
over the swamp
and the darkness,

his yellow eyes
and broad wings wearing
the light of the world
in the light of the world—

ah yes, I see him.
He is exactly
the poem
I wanted to write.

At Blackwater Pond

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?

And one more show-n-tell:

a fat little book I’ve had for maybe 20 years by somebody who found favorites or at least smile-makers all over the place—

 14,000 Things to be Happy About, by Barbara Ann Kipfer,
and which I submit is an example of a book any of us can write, and should!

From Sue:

Favorites—notes & quotes-1-11-18
Favor (n) c. 1300, “attractiveness, beauty, charm” (archaic), from Old
French favor “a favor; approval, praise; applause; partiality” (13c.,
Modern French faveur), from Latin favorem -“good will, inclination,
partiality, support,” coined by Cicero -“to show kindness to,” from
PIE *ghow-e- “to honor, revere, worship” (Old Norse ga “to heed”).
Meaning “good will, kind regard” – mid-14c. in English; sense of “act
of kindness, a kindness done” -14c. Meaning “bias, partiality” -late
14c. Meaning “thing given as a mark of favor” -late 15c. Phrase in
favor of recorded from 1560s.

Quotes: “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” ~Louis Pasteur
“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad”
~Songwriters: Oscar Hammerstein / Richard Rodgers

Teachings on love by Thich Nhat Hanh
May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.
[May I be safe and free from injury.]
May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety.

May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love.
May I be able to recognise and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.
May I learn how to identify and see [w/ eye of compassion] the sources
of anger, craving and delusion in myself.

May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day.
May I be able to live fresh, solid and free.
May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent.

My Thoughts:
the shadow side of “playing favorites”—Trump’s favoritism
dangers of playing favorites with your children from the Hebrew Bible
Cain-Abel, Ishmael-Isaac, Jacob-Esau, Joseph and his brothers

Krista Tippett—On Being interviews ( I meant to say On Being
Interviews are my favorite podcasts)
& 1 I haven’t heard:

We donated $80 to the House of Flowers.

For info and photos of the H of F children:

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