Burning Bridges

Journal of a Departed Friend, Part 3

Aristotle's **Metaphysics** (image by Peter Damian)

Aristotle's **Metaphysics** (image by Peter Damian)

Sister Alma Rose recently received part of a journal from the year 1985 that was bequeathed to her by an old friend. Here is an excerpt:


There is nothing permanent except change. —Heraclitus


Heraclitus, 535-475 BCE, by Johannes Moreelse

Heraclitus, 535-475 BCE, by Johannes Moreelse


O ye ancients, you had no idea! You, Heraclitus, what did you know in the sixth century BCE of lasers or nuclear power or even of sewing machines and polyester?

What of moving across the North American continent four times in ten years?

What of endemic divorce or heroin addiction or John Holmes, radioactive fallout, toxic waste, latchkey children, the microchip?

Integrated circuit of Atmel Diopsis 740 System on chip showing memory blocks, logic and input/output pads around the periphery

Integrated circuit of Atmel Diopsis 740 System on chip showing memory blocks, logic and input/output pads around the periphery

The Duke Prosper Oak, Belgium (photo by Jon-Paul Grandmont)

The Duke Prosper Oak, Belgium (photo by Jon-Paul Grandmont)

They have cut down the oak tree outside the bay window of the house where I grew up.  I suppose that it was causing problems with the plumbing or leaks into the basement. But it is surely gone, as are the mother and father who raised me there, the neighbors who chased me away from their rosebushes or held me on their laps and told stories, the misanthropic widow whose porch was always dark on Hallowe’en.

Little boys' walnut cache

Little boys' walnut cache

There is now, behind our house, a walnut tree, and every year the walnuts are not cracked and eaten, but gathered and stockpiled by little boys who pretend to be squirrels or chipmunks, or else the boys are pirates and the nuts become rubies and gold nuggets.

So many losses and so many gains, and who can slow the whirl to add them up, properly weighted, and say, “I have more,” or “I have less.”
“Time is a sort of river of passing events,” Marcus Aurelius has said, “and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing  brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”
The Maria Valeria Bridge, connecting Hungary to Slovakia (photographer, Alan Ford)

The Maria Valeria Bridge, connecting Hungary to Slovakia (photographer, Alan Ford)

Well, maybe so, but I do a lot of swimming upstream and down trying to change things and being bashed with flotsam and jetsam in the process. I like the thought of the river, though, despite the bashing; it makes better poems about life than do caves and sailing ships.

Have you ever considered, Heraclitus, that maybe nothing changes except what is permanent?

* * *
River, when I stand aside and watch, billow up and pull me in.

The Ancients, Part 1 — Daddy Pete

Publish Risk-Free…

…in Zero Gravity’s “Little Books” series

Wanted: Zero Gravity “Little Books” to produce for sale on the Zero Gravity website at www.LifeIsPoetry.net. Please see sample on the Zero Gravity website at Carry Me to This Enchanted Shore: A Morning Prayer.

We are seeking

  • original prayers
  • spiritual wisdom, and
  • meditation-related poetry or prose

…from all faith traditions. If accepted, your submission will be designed as part of the Zero Gravity “Little Books” series and offered for sale in Zero Gravity’s Holiday Store and Bookstore and listed in our eBay store.

You book will remain in Zero Gravity’s Bookstore and eBay store listings until you request that it be withdrawn.

Books are 5-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches, printed in full color on recycled card stock with laminated covers and comb binding.


You may submit manuscripts at any time. The deadline for inclusion in Zero Gravity’s online Holiday Store and eBay Holiday Store, however, is November 15, 2008.


You will retain copyright on text; the publisher, Zero Gravity, will hold copyright on design. Copyright on images will remain with either the artist/photographer or Zero Gravity.

You pay only setup/design cost: $1.50 per page (10 pages minimum, 25 pages maximum – $15.00 to $37.50). A $15.00 deposit is required at the time the manuscript is accepted. Please allow about 7 business days for completed design.

You may purchase as many finished books as you want at 40 cents per page plus USPS media-mail shipping rate. There is no “handling charge.” (You have the option of selecting Priority Mail or Express Mail for faster delivery. E-mail Mary@LifeIsPoetry.net if you wish to use a USPS service other than media mail.)

Selected books will be offered on the Zero Gravity website and eBay store with no listing fee. Books sold via the Zero Gravity website and eBay store will be priced as follows:
(a) 40 cents per page, plus
(b) $2.00 Zero Gravity commission, plus
(c) whatever additional markup you choose, if any, plus
(d) USPS media-mail shipping rate (unless you specify Priority Mail or Express Mail)

Sample transaction 1

  1. You submit text, which Zero Gravity designs as a 10-page book – you pay $15.00.
  2. You may purchase as many books as you wish at $4.00 each plus shipping — to keep, to sell, or to give away.
  3. Zero Gravity offers your book for sale at (a) $4.00 + (b) $2.00 Zero Gravity commission + (c) whatever markup you specify ($1.00, for example) + (d) $2.23 media-mail shipping. Total cost to buyer: $9.23. You immediately earn $1.00 per book sold, less nominal PayPal fee.

Sample transaction 2

  1. You submit text, which Zero Gravity designs as a 15-page book – you pay $22.50.
  2. You may purchase as many books as you wish at $6.00 each plus shipping.
  3. Zero Gravity offers your book for sale at (a) $6.00 + (b) $2.00 Zero Gravity commission + (c) whatever markup you specify ($2.00, for example) + (d) $2.23 media-mail shipping. Total cost to buyer: $12.23. You immediately earn $2.00 per book sold, less nominal PayPal fee.

Please note…

  • For samples of our design work, please browse books offered via Zero Gravity on our website. The “Little Book” Carry Me to This Enchanted Shore: A Morning Prayer represents Zero Gravity’s “Little Book” design style. If your book contains a great deal of text, the images will likely be smaller, but a full-color image will appear on each page.
  • Sample USPS media-mail rates: up to 1 pound $2.23; up to 2 pounds $2.58; up to 3 pounds $2.93…. See USPS website for all postal rates. Media-mail rates are computed by weight. If your books weigh a half-pound or less, the cost of shipping two books will be the same as the cost of shipping one book. Rarely, the USPS first-class rate will be lower than the media-mail rate; Zero Gravity will ship at the lowest available rate unless you specify otherwise.
  • If you are ordering books as gifts, Zero Gravity will send your purchase directly to the recipient with free gift wrap if you so request via e-mail to Mary@LifeIsPoetry.net.
  • All financial transactions will take place via credit card or E-check through PayPal, so you will need to open a free PayPal account if you do not already have one.
  • Zero Gravity will accept only manuscripts that are well written and that conform to the criteria established above: original prayers, spiritual wisdom, and meditation-related poetry or prose from all faith traditions. Zero Gravity will make minor editing changes subject to your approval. If your manuscript has merit but needs extensive editing, Zero Gravity will quote a separate fee for editing, with no obligation on your part. As noted above, you will pay a $15 deposit only when your completed manuscript is accepted for publication.
  • Please submit all manuscripts in English as Microsoft Word attachments to e-mail addressed to Mary@LifeIsPoetry.net. Please put “manuscript” in the subject line of your e-mail.
  • There are no reader’s fees or entry fees. By submitting your manuscript, however, you are agreeing to pay a $15 deposit if your manuscript is accepted and to pay the balance upon completion.
  • You may, if you wish, indicate a maximum number of pages for your finished book.
  • If you have questions, please e-mail Mary@LifeIsPoetry.net with “manuscript questions” in the subject line.
  • We welcome children’s work. Please indicate age if under 18.

We look forward to seeing your work and designing a beautiful setting for it!


A Prayer for Every Morning
Buy and Send Random Cards of Kindness
Learn to Meditate
50 Guided Meditations
Request Prayer and Pray for Others

Writing Is Risky Business

The View from Sister Alma Rose s PorchThe View from Sister Alma Rose s PorchThe View from Sister Alma Rose s Porch

The View from Sister Alma Rose’s Front Porch

Dear Sister Alma Rose — About a year ago I decided to put all my eggs in one basket, in a manner of speaking. I have been a writer all my life, but I have written mostly other people’s stuff, except for some poetry that won awards. I got a lot of encouragement from clients, friends, and strangers, so I took a leap of faith. I have had some small paybacks but some larger setbacks. Now what? Signed, Starving Artist

Dear Starving Artist — Sister Rose requires more information before she can advise you. Are you living in a cardboard box? Have you sold your virtue, your vital organs, your plasma? What have you written? If you have completed books, does anyone know about them? Most important, is the Universe with you or against you? How do you know?

Read about Sister Alma Rose at LifeIsPoetry.net , “The Ancients.”


AARP Says ‘Drink More Coffee’

Great book! Available on Amazon.com or contact www.ironwoodpress.com.

AARP Says Drink More Coffee

(AARP, January-February 2007 issue, p. 40)

The steaming cup that wakes you up can also keep you healthy. Research shows that coffee protects against a variety of ailments from cavities to colon cancer. And some studies suggest that the more you drink, the better. The beverage lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes and can protect your liver from damage, too. Caffeine gets the credit for some of coffee s magic powers, including protection against Parkinson s disease and gallstones. But coffee s main benefit comes from its wealth of antioxidants. In fact, the coffee bean, which is technically a berry, has one of the highest antioxidant contents of all berries, says Tomas de Paulis, Ph.D., formerly of the Vanderbilt University Institute for Coffee Studies. That s why, drop for drop, coffee has more of these nutrients than even red wine. If you have osteoporosis, be sure to follow your doctor s advice for calcium supplementation, because in some studies, coffee drinking has raised the risk of bone fractures.

Wednesday January 3, 2007 – 03:49pm (PST) Edit | Delete | Comments: 1


Do You Have a Code? Sister Alma Rose Q & A


Q. Dear Sister Alma Rose–I am self-employed and work at home. Because I am a night owl, my workday begins at about 10 p.m., and I usually turn in between 8 and 10 a.m. The problem is, I don’t know what to wear. I mean, should I work in pajamas and then change into daytime clothes for… well, you know, for daytime? Or should I just wear sweats all the time, day and night? Here’s another thing: I don’t know when to eat breakfast. I mean, it’s not like anyone else would know, but it just feels funny having baked salmon and creamed spinach while the Today show is on. –Signed, Pale and Wan in Oregon

A. Dear PWO–Sister Alma Rose thinks you should get out more. It doesn’t matter what your dress code is, as long as you have one. Otherwise you’ll find yourself wearing the same set of sweats day after day, night after night… losing track of the hours, the weeks, the months… letting the mail and the newspapers pile up… neglecting your friends and family… slithering around in caves and lagoons looking for your ”Pretty”….

If you had any kind of social life, you wouldn’t need to ask Sister Alma Rose what to wear, or when to have baked salmon versus Malt-O-Meal. She suspects that once you have restored some balance to your life, these little matters will resolve themselves and you can apply your energy to things that matter, such as world hunger.


Sister Alma Rose does not recommend wearing Levi’s to bed, especially if you sleep on your stomach. You’ll end up with a permanent Levi’s-button indentation in your stomach. Nor should you don professional office attire, such as a natty little black suit and pumps with three-inch heels, when you’re working at home at 4 a.m. Your clients are unlikely to pop by and besides, Sister Alma Rose believes that pantyhose should never, ever be worn, including at gunpoint.

Friday November 24, 2006 – 11:42am (PST) Edit | Delete | Comments: 0


Sister Alma Rose Q & A: Gotta Dance!


Q. Dear Sister Alma Rose I take tap-dancing lessons once a week. I have now missed three lessons in a row. Even when I plan my entire week around this one lesson, I just don’t get there. Not only do I feel that this is rude and disrespectful to my instructor, and that I am missing out on something I really enjoy, I also know that my instructor feels that I am a very promising dancer. She has told me that my dancing puts her in mind of Savion Glover had he been born “stiff, uncoordinated, and a different species, e.g., tortoise or bison.” I hope you can help! Sincerely, Uncoordinated in Utah

A. Dear UIU Did she really say “e.g.”?

Q. Of course not! Nobody has said “e.g.” since Tiberius! “E.g.” is Latin!

A. Sister Alma Rose is sorry to hear that you are having difficulty meeting your goals. She assumes that you have ruled out the more obvious explanations for your lethargy, e.g.

  • Anemia due to blood loss as a result of having been run through with a bayonet
  • Coma as a result of, in spite of the WARNING on the bottles, mixing chlorine bleach, ammonia, and other cleaning products “just to see what happens”

If you have eliminated these possibilities and you get plenty of sleep; eat seven servings of terrible-tasting vegetables per day such as brussels sprouts; ingest no lactose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, or anything else ending in “-ose” (e.g., mangose); go for a brisk 45-minute walk twice a day; are “regular” in your “hygiene”; meditate often and practice yoga, imaging, receptiveness, gratitude, and breathing; and are experiencing absolutely no stress Sister Alma Rose would say you are just lazy.


Please do not think Sister Alma Rose is unsympathetic. She understands that one’s self-esteem is inversely proportional to the gap between one’s intentions and one’s success at fulfilling them, although in her case this “gap” is purely hypothetical. This is especially true if these “intentions” involve commitments to others.

Sister Alma Rose’s advice, for the moment, is that you reexamine your general health, double-checking for, e.g., bayonets and coma under the supervision of a board-certified physician. Meanwhile, avoid making commitments. If you are invited to a party or asked to take on a task, reply by saying, “Perhaps,” or, “We’ll just have to see.” You could smile in a dreamy, mysterious way, as if it is not you but the Demigods of the Sky and the River that will determine where you will be at any given point in time. (Practice doing this in a mirror until you can do it with assurance or you might alarm your children, who will teach you a new definition of the word commitment.)

Friday November 10, 2006 – 12:23pm (PST) Edit | Delete | Comments: 0



Birthday Berry Protocol

Sister Alma Rose Q & A

Q. Dear Sister Alma Rose–I know you have answered this question many times before. I apologize for bothering you with it again, especially since it is the type of thing that is never likely to happen to me or anyone I know… but just in case, and purely hypothetically:

If someone who is lovely, delightful, and charming–your daughter, for example–comes to visit you on your birthday along with, oh, say, her husband and four children, your brother, and a close friend… and she brings you a large, luscious birthday cake laden with cream cheese and raspberries… and she serves you a massive piece of this cake and leaves three huge pieces in your refrigerator… and everyone sings “Happy Birthday,” and you blow out imaginary candles because the relevant number of real candles would require six cakes of comparable size plus the entire surface of a grand piano… and after a lovely birthday celebration everyone leaves and you promptly eat the three “extra” pieces of cake, which, inasmuch as you have never experienced anything as tasty and delectable as this cake, merely serve as an appetizer…

If, in the unlikely event something like this should happen to you, wouldn’t you disown your daughter and cut her out of your will and spread malicious gossip about her and go to her house at midnight and run the garden hose into the basement window and turn it on full blast (for starters), and put up a sign by the window announcing “Spider Jubilee Tonight”– in retribution for her not having left you the entire cake and possibly a second backup cake, inasmuch as it was, after all, your birthday, even if she had given you as a birthday present two tickets to “An Evening with David Sedaris,” which you went to, even though you were very put out with your (hypothetical) daughter, because “An Evening with David Sedaris” is at least ten thousand times more enjoyable than “An Evening of Flying to Paris on Your Own Personal Jet with Richard Gere and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and a Ten-Thousand-Dollar Gift Certificate Redeemable at Any Parisian Retail Establishment”?

A. Yes