GNL number 119


a report of doings at meeting #119
Sunday, June 11, 2017


If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.
—–Carl Perkins

There will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones; it all depends on how you use them.
—–Friedrich Nietsche


Marge opened this meeting about ROCKS, identifying herself as a longtime rock-collector. And she showed us a bunch of polished beauties that she had put through her tumbling process some time ago. Then she described that process, which takes several days of turns of several hours each! She said she’d had a much larger collection that had been given to son or grandson, and that she hopes to claim it back (or at least visit?).

Nancy is another lifelong rock-lover, who also brought some show and tell. First, small ones, many water-rounded, stripey, speckled, pretty or odd, from local waters or Atlantic shores. Then, bigger ones, fossils of trilobites, ammonites et al, 100s of millions of years old (from Nowadaga Creek, Herkimer County). And last, in a class by itself, an artifact from the Stone Age, a stone with chipped edge used as a scraper, at least 10,000years ago (or up to +million), she found in the Cobleskill Creek! See AFTERWORDS for N and Q.

Ann gave us her word research and some fine 6-wordies, then showed us a fine cobble and cited the good work done by mason John Buck on their chimney; she also referred to a good handbook on masonry (with terms like joggle, etal). And then cited a book on upstate NY geology, noting the fossil-rich outcroppings outside Sharon Springs. And then, the New Yorker magazine’s 5/30 essay on “The End of Sand”, prompting a hearty discussion. Last, she showed her vial of little stones from Newfoundland, and two large crystalline formations. See AW for her N and Q.

Gail also cited an expert she knew—Joe Titus, excellent speaker on geology—from the old local fly-ash resistance days, then River Center days in this county, for which he’s been a fine resource. Having lived in Florida for years and traveled a lot as well, Gail was not only familiar with sandy coasts new and old, but rocks, sometimes in unexpected places, like the natural stone phenomenon known as a “tor” up in arctic Alaska. And happily, today she brought her sister!

We were delighted to have Gail’s sister Winnie with us again, and hope to be seeing her more often, as she now has a second home near Gail, where she’ll live half the year. Remembering her as a lover of nature and birding, we heard today Winnie knew a lot about today’s subject too. Especially the relevance of water in geological activity, not only as scientific observer, but as a longtime resident of the Galveston Bay area of Texas. (And which of you sisters found the mammoth tooth?)

Sue again gave us word origin info, and many good quotes, and recalled her long history as gardener, especially of rock gardens, and of recently learning to re-locate captured rocks outdoors. She also recalled the “stoned” theme of her 30’s, not a good time to make big decisions, but it all worked out. And recalled more recently being wowed by the sense of long geology at work she got seeing New Mexico. (And very recently of course struck in an unhappy way by Jay’s tangle with kidney stones.) See AW for N and Q.

We agreed to direct our offering today to the National Park Conservation Association.


I do not know how the 3rd World war will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the 4th –—–ROCKS !
—–Albert Einstein

We have forgotten what rocks and plants still know—we have forgotten how to be—to be still—to be ourselves—to be where life is here and now.
—–Eckhart Tolle


Sunday, July 16, 2017 (1030), at Marge’s, on Prospect St., Cobleskill. And the topic is CELEBRATIONS.


from Ann

Re: Rock

As a noun: (Middle English: from Old French rocque, from medieval Latin rocca, of unknown ultimate origin)
1. the solid mineral material forming part of the surface of the earth and other similar planets, exposed on the surface or underlying the soil or oceans.
2. any natural material, hard or soft (e.g., clay), having a distinctive mineral composition.
3. a stone of any size, especially one small enough to be picked up and used as a projectile.

As a verb: (late Old English roccian, probably from a Germanic base meaning ‘remove, move’; related to Dutch rukken ‘jerk, tug’ and German rücken ‘move.’ The noun dates from the early 19th century)
1. move gently to and fro or from side to side.
2. cause great shock or distress to (someone or something), especially so as to weaken or destabilize them or it.

1. the hard substance, formed of mineral matter, of which rocks consist.
2. a rock or particular piece or kind of rock, as a boulder or piece of agate

Six Wordies:
Stone soups were the first rocks
Stones are just gussied up rocks
Rocks support us all, politics be-damned
My mother’s rock garden, childhood memories
“Let’s rock around the clock tonight”
Cobblestones all along the Mohawk River
Rocking chair, drying tears and comfort.

“Do not feel sad for your tears as rocks never regret the waterfalls”
― Munia Khan

Interesting article in The New Yorker (May 29, 2017) about the “End of Sand”, how we humans are consuming the second most plentiful resource on earth, water being the  most abundant.

As a 9/10/11 year old kid playing amongst the rocks at Compo Beach in Westport, CT.  Watching the waves wash the seaweed back and forth in irregularly shaped pools, little fiddler crabs scurrying along the sand as we chased them out of hiding, some stranded jellyfish undulating in a soon-to-be drained backwater (we would always try to save them, sometimes successfully), the huge (to a 9 year old), angular, rusty/black boulders thrown in every direction so serve as a breakwater for the beach, and the more rounded, time worn colorful granite base rocks that had been there forever, catching a quick grip on a rock edge as we slipped awkwardly on a patch of seaweed and splashing into the cold seawater anyway.  Those times among the rocks on the beach were formative for me in developing curiosity, agility, and love of natural things.

John Buck, a very talented and spiritual stone mason, repaired our cobblestone chimney and waxed rhapsodic about the size range of cobblestones – fit in your palm, spread your fingers, full hand stretch and marginally able to hold.  He collected cobblestones along the Mohawk River.

From Stonework manual (a 41 page booklet) –
Some definitions:
Ashlar –  Stone masonry using dressed block of given dimensions having faces perpendicular to each other and laid in courses
Joggle  –  A key between the stones by providing a groove in one stone to take a corresponding concealed projection in the edges on the other stone
Corbel –  Stone bonded well into the wall with part of it projecting out of the face of wall to form a bearing surface
Quoin  – The external angle of wall or building
Spandrel –  Space between the haunches below the decking level.  ?????

Size of stones – Normally stones used should be small enough to be lifted and placed by hand. Unless otherwise indicated, the length of stones for stone masonry shall not exceed three times the height and the breadth or base~ shall not be greater than three fourth~ thickness of wall, or not less than 15cm. The height of stone may be up to 30 cm.

From Nancy:

Geologists have a saying: Rocks remember.–—Neil Armstrong

The blues had a baby and they called it Rock and Roll.—–Muddy Waters

Rockbottom became the foundation on which I rebuilt my life.—–J. K. Rowling

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.—–Tennesee Williams

Advice from a Rock:
Try your hardest,
Stay grounded,
Start each day with a clean slate,
Keep still,
Be well-rounded,
Live in balance,
Never take life for granite!

From Sue:

Rocks/stones/hard places-notes & quotes from Sue June 11, 2017
rock (v.1)     “to sway,” late Old English roccian “move a child gently to and fro,” related to Old Norse rykkja “to pull, tear, move,” Swedish rycka “to pull, pluck,” Middle Dutch rucken, Old High German rucchan, German rücken “to move jerkily.”

rock (n.1)     “stone, mass of mineral matter,” c. 1300, from Old English rocc (as in stanrocc “stone rock or obelisk”) and directly from Old North French roque, which is cognate with Medieval Latin rocca (8c.), from Vulgar Latin *rocca, of uncertain origin, according to Klein sometimes said to be from Celtic (compare Breton roch).

stone (n.)  Old English stan, used of common rocks, precious gems, concretions in the body, memorial stones, from Proto-Germanic *stainaz  PIE *stoi-no-, suffixed form of root *stai- “stone,” also “to thicken, stiffen” (source also of Sanskrit styayate “curdles, becomes hard;” Avestan stay- “heap;”


“We may be floating on Tao, but there is nothing wrong with steering. If Tao is like a river, it is certainly good to know where the rocks are.” ~ Ming-Dao Deng, Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony
“Rocks and minerals: the oldest storytellers.” ~ A.D. Posey

“Rocks are more co-operative than people.”  ~ Barry Webster, The Lava in My Bones

“A rolling stone gathers no moss.” Latin

“Don’t waste too many stones on one bird.” Chinese

“When you see a rock coming, it hurts less.” Greek

“ Gifts break rocks.” Spanish

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.” Chinese

“ River stones remain, while water flows away.” Romanian

“ People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” English

“He who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones first” Chinese

“The good mill grinds stones.” Greek

“He who hunts for an elephant should not stop to throw stones at birds.” African

“It is drops of water that make a hole in the rock.” Greek

“A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“For a tree to become tall it must grow tough roots among the rocks.”  ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” ~John 8:7

“Leave no stone unturned.” ~Euripedes

Temporary Poem Of My Time, by Yehuda Amichai

Hebrew writing and Arabic writing go from east to west,
 Latin writing, from west to east.  Languages are like cats:
  You must not stroke their hair the wrong way.
  The clouds come from the sea, the hot wind from the desert,
  The trees bend in the wind,
  And stones fly from all four winds,
  Into all four winds. They throw stones,
  Throw this land, one at the other,
  But the land always falls back to the land.
  They throw the land, want to get rid of it.
  Its stones, its soil, but you can’t get rid of it.
They throw stones, throw stones at me  
In 1936, 1938, 1948, 1988,
  Semites throw at Semites and anti-Semites at anti-Semites,
  Evil men throw and just men throw,  
Sinners throw and tempters throw,
  Geologists throw and theologists throw,  
Archaelogists throw and archhooligans throw,
  Kidneys throw stones and gall bladders throw,
  Head stones and forehead stones and the heart of a stone,
  Stones shaped like a screaming mouth
  And stones fitting your eyes
Like a pair of glasses,
  The past throws stones at the future,
  And all of them fall on the present.  
Weeping stones and laughing gravel stones,
  Even God in the Bible threw stones,  
Even the Urim and Tumim were thrown  
And got stuck in the beastplate of justice,
  And Herod threw stones and what came out was a Temple.  

Oh, the poem of stone sadness  
Oh, the poem thrown on the stones
  Oh, the poem of thrown stones.
  Is there in this land  
A stone that was never thrown
  And never built and never overturned  
And never uncovered and never discovered  
And never screamed from a wall and never discarded by the builders  
And never closed on top of a grave and never lay under lovers
  And never turned into a cornerstone?

  Please do not throw any more stones,
  You are moving the land,
  The holy, whole, open land,  
You are moving it to the sea
  And the sea doesn’t want it
  The sea says, not in me.  

Please throw little stones,
  Throw snail fossils, throw gravel,  
Justice or injustice from the quarries of Migdal Tsedek,  
Throw soft stones, throw sweet clods,
  Throw limestone, throw clay,
  Throw sand of the seashore,
  Throw dust of the desert, throw rust,  
Throw soil, throw wind,
  Throw air, throw nothing
  Until your hands are weary
  And the war is weary  
And even peace will be weary and will be.
     Translated from the Hebrew by Barbara and Benjamin Harshav:


NL number 118

a report of doings at meeting #118, Sunday, May 21, 2017

including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?

~~~major league baseball pitcher Satchel Paige (still pitching in his 60’s)

I’ve never

stopped wanting to cross

the equator, or touch an elk’s horns,

or sing Tosca, or

screw James Dean in a field of wheat.

To hell with wisdom. They’re all wrong:

I’ll never be through with my life.

~~~Rita Dove, On the Bus With Rosa Parks


Sue opened this conversation on Age(ing)/Change/Sage(ing), and with her anticipated word origins/meanings report. She also had lots of good quotes, and told of an experience with her two brothers that reminded her she can’t do it all without great tension and overload., a message needed in this age of Trump, when need for resistance is so pervasive. See AFTERWORDS for her notes and quotes.

Our hostess Gail spoke not only as child of two strong examples of very alive and active elders, but as sister to a younger sib who’s been suffering. Gail reported she did extend the offer of help and invitation to come up here to her sister,.who seemed empowered by that loving gesture itself to apply herself strongly to what she needs to do. All of which seemed to Gail like part of the learning and growing that aging is all about.

Ann‘s comments included many fine quotes, eg.,from one of her favorite old guys, Heraclitus, another old Skippy saint, Mark Twain, and good old Anonymous (“The older I get, the better I was”). Happily, she brought lots of 6-wordies too, which prompted lots of laughs as well. And her insight: We are all looking for a degree, measure, level of preservation of things/ideas that make us feel comfortable, engaged, important. See AW for her N and Q.

Marge first read from Mayo Clinic reports about the common physical features of aging, and good advice therefore. And she spoke of her own experience with physical issues, including cancer a few years ago and the common and chronic urinary urgency that so many of us could relate to, as well as the kegel exercises in response to it, and the not as common physical therapy for this. And she reported on her and Don’s recent trip to Europe too!

Vijaya spoke of her own health issues in recent years, eg. diabetes and high blood pressure, for which she takes meds, and the help for arthritic pain she sought while in India recently. And about that trip, and how her sisters want her to stay; but she said in the many years she’s been here she’s become more Americanized, and also still gets good energy from her store. So she has learned to try to be true to what her heart tells her.

Nancy had had some chronic health issues for years while still able to do most physical things. Now, she said, the wonderful fine-motoring tho arthritic hands are less reliable, making minor accidents, leading to her forcing, then even more slips, then meltdowns at them and then, at her own jerky meltdowns. But she tries to recall: can still see, hear, walk, run a bit, dance a lot, write and talk enough to commune with people. Then she told two anecdotes from a recent family trip, with two aging-related readings. For these and quotes, see AW.

We agreed to give our offering today to the Office For the Aging, for its nutrition program.

(Sue later spoke with their representative and sent our $75 there.)


The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.

~~~Frank Lloyd Wright

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.

~~~Robert Frost

The sooner growing older is stripped of reflexive dread, the better equipped

we are to benefit from the countless ways in which it can enrich us.

~~~Ashton Applewhite, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism


Sunday, June 11, 2017 (1030), at Ann Adams’ house on Pavilion Ave., in Sharon Springs. (With Nancy’s place as Plan B.) The topic is ROCKS (as usual, the topic is very elastic, and we are a creative group, to say the least).


first, from the editor,

some exciting, noteworthy dates:

We designated two good dates this summer for our long-desired field trip to the Syracuse Cultural Workers Store in Syracuse:

  • Tuesday, August 15 or
  • Tuesday, September 17.

Please be thinking about this.

And a thank you note:

to Vijaya, for the photos she took at this meeting at Gail’s beautiful place out in Worcester.

These are sent to you all in a separate email.

And the editor promises to make and send:

soon—–a list of old and newer topic ideas for you to chew on

and hopefully by next meeting—–

an index of the past almost 10 years of meeting topics and dates

from Nancy:

a quote from an old classic—

By the time you’re 80 years old, you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.

~~~George Burns (1896-1996)

and an original 6-wordy on our subject from my dear sister Kathy:

Oh shit—Oh shit—Oh shit.

And the anecdotes noted in Theme—

From recent revelations on this topic from the previous weekend trip with three of her kids to the wonderful surprise birthday party for her youngest daughter in MA.The long drive itself, a wonderful talk opportunity, leading to son Jimmy’s enthusiastic expression of admiration for Japanese artist Hokusai, who for almost 90 years hardly stopped seeing and creating beauty. Which reminded me of the poem art historian Roger Keyes wrote about him, an excerpt included below:

Hokusai Says

Hokusai says look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing

He says everything is alive —
shells, buildings, people, fish,
mountains, trees, wood is alive.
Water is alive.

Everything has its own life.

Everything lives inside us.

He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw,
or write books. It doesn’t matter
if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your veranda
or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care
It matters that you feel.

It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.

Love, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.
–—Roger Keye

Then, a few days later, came daughter Mary’s post-trip check-in call, and telling her about this COS meeting with the aging topic not my favorite at the moment; and her response was immediate: “Mom! Don’t you remember what Skippy’s all about and how it got started?!”

Well—YES. So I had to grant her that, and went back to the first page of our COS history, where there’s a copy of my response to Cynthia’s request for a draft idea of this group, part of which follows below.

The background

  1. In case you don’t remember the origin of the name, Skippy is not the pastor of the Church, or even the patron saint. But maybe she is a mascot-angel.
  2. She was me, a child of 4, called Skippy by my father, and the name reminds me of the qualities of childhood i don’t want to lose, and ones i long to learn.
  3. Any Skippy i know
    • –notices everything and takes real joy in all those small things she discovers
    • –asks questions all the time
    • –smiles a lot
    • –laughs a lot
    • –honestly proclaims her problems
    • –sings and dances whenever she likes
    • –wants to be outdoors as much as possible, and live in a tree house
    • –knows instinctively we’re all in this together–big and little, people and animals, bugs and green things, rocks and dirt, and it’s messy but good
    • –not only accepts the mission, but like Paul, age 7, says
      • I love you, Big World
      • Sometimes i wish i could
      • Call you up and tell you,
      • I love you, World
    • –and of course, she skips.


From Ann:


Six wordies”

  • Ageing is watching time made visible.
  • Knobby knuckles, weaker grip, ageing hands.
  • The times they are a changin”.
  • Youngest, younger, young, old, older, oldest.
  • Past times wile away our lives.
  • So, given the alternative, life works.
  • Playground rules, some learn, some don’t.
  • Always approaching the next minute, inexorably.
  • Crow’s feet ha! Grand Canyons ya!
  • You really don’t look your age.
  • The first time happens only once.
  • My favorite time of year? Today!

We are all looking for a degree, measure, or level of preservation of things/ideas that make us feel comfortable, engaged, important.


The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”  ~~~Heraclitus

We are most nearly ourselves when we achieve the seriousness of the child at play.”  ~~~Heraclitus

Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen. ~~~Mark Twain

One today is worth two tomorrows. ~~~Benjamin Franklin

We are happier in many ways when we are old than when we were young. The young sow wild oats. The old grow sage.  ~~~Winston Churchill

Peace is born out of equanimity and balance.

Balance is flexibility, and ability to adjust graciously to change.  ~~~Jack Kornfield


If you expect your life to be up and down, your mind will be much more peaceful  ~~~Lama Yeshe 

Serenity Prayer:  “May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The older I get the better I was.     Anonymous

People waste years of their lives not being willing to waste hours of their lives.  ~~~Michael Lewis, nonfiction author and financial journalist

We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.  ~~~Unknown Source

Changes are not only possible and predictable, but to deny them is to be an accomplice to one’s own unnecessary vegetation. ~~~Gail Sheehy,  American author, journalist, and lecturer

As I grow older and older/And totter towards the tomb/I find I care less and less/Who goes to bed with whom.  ~~~Dorothy L. Sayers, mystery novelist

From Sue:

Time and Change as we Age (Sage) from Sue
Definitions: age (n.)   late 13c., “long but indefinite period in human history,” from Old French aage, eage “age; life, lifetime, lifespan; maturity,” …extended form of Latin  “period of life, age, lifetime, years,” from aevum “lifetime, eternity, age,” from PIE root *aiw- “vital force, life; long life, eternity” (see eon).

sage (n.2)  “man of profound wisdom,” mid-14c., from sage (adj.). Originally applied to the Seven Sages — Thales, Solon, Periander, Cleobulus, Chilon, Bias, and Pittacus.sage (adj.)  “wise,” c. 1300 (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French sage “wise, knowledgeable, learned; shrewd, skillful” (11c.), from Gallo-Roman *sabius, from Vulgar Latin *sapius, from Latin sapere “have a taste, have good taste, be wise,” from PIE root *sap- “to taste” (see sap (n.1))
“At fifteen, I set my mind upon learning;
At thirty, I took my stand;
At forty, I no longer had doubts;
At fifty, I knew the will of the heavens;
At sixty my ear was attuned;
At seventy, I follow all the desires of my heart without breaking any rule.”
Chungliang quoting Confucious

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
― Yoko Ono

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” ~ Robert Frost
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”~ George Bernard Shaw
“Wisdom is the reward for surviving our own stupidity.” ~ Brian Rathbone
“You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.” ~Woody Allen
“I have reached an age when, if someone tells me to wear socks, I don’t have to.” ~Albert Einstein
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” ~Leon C. Megginson
“Human beings can get used to virtually anything, given plenty of time and no choice in the matter whatsoever.” ~ Tom Holt, Open Sesame

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season:

And a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

“From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the forms of things. By the time I was fifty I had published an infinity of designs, but all I have produced before the age of seventy is not worth taking into account.  At seventy-three, I have learned a little about the real structure of nature, of animals, plants, trees, birds, fishes and insects.  In consequence, when I am eighty, I shall have made still more progress.  At ninety I shall penetrate the mystery of things, at a hundred I shall certainly have reached a marvellous stage, and when I am a hundred and ten, everything I do, be it but a dot or a line, will be alive.  I beg those who live as long as I to see if I do not keep my word.  Written at the age of seventy-five by me, once Hokusai, today Gwako Rojin, the old man mad about drawing.”  ~Hokusai, from Preface to The Hundred Views of Fuji
for images of his paintings:    and


« Older entries Newer entries »