Monday, May 28, 2007

Massage as Treatment

Such a lovely woman. I'm abashed, as I work; altogether too pretty a young woman for me to be laying my hands upon. I've not felt exactly this way before. I'm missing my stride. Distracted by a beauty that doesn't quite add up.

She wanted me to do the trigger-points in her rhomboids, but I wander over her body, lingering at the feet, knowing that this sort of soothing massage is not what she asked for, though I'm convinced it's what she needs. Her unhappiness doesn't live in her upper back or neck. It lives here, in her feet and her ankles. But I don't think she knows that.

Who knows whether I'm right. Possibly she just seems so young and vulnerable that I'm reluctant to hurt her.

I don't like telling a bodyworker where to work on me. It's not as if there's some treasure-hunt going on, as if they need to find the only bit of my body that needs work. It all needs work. I want people working on me to read my body for the first time, and come up with their own interpretation. "Follow your hands," I say. I can work my own rhomboids, if need be. I don't want my own take on my body. I already have that. I want theirs.

I grow daily less satisfied with the treatment model of massage. Soft tissue manipulation helps with some problems, sure. Occasionally it helps spectacularly. But really what will relieve the tension in your neck and shoulders is not a monthly, a weekly, or even a daily massage. What will relieve it is changing the way you work, the way you move, the way you rest. What massage can do is bring your attention to your body, in a loving context. Fixing it is up to you.

People forget. They hold so much tension so long they can't even feel it as tension. They restrict their own motion for so long that they forget some of the ways in which their bodies can move. Our job is not to fix that. Our job to draw their attention to it, so they can fix it.

The other day, in class, I was practicing an intake interview with Andrea. Her traps, scalenes, and levator scap were stiff, especially on the left. "Show me," I said. "Here, this is your desk. Sit at it and show me how you work." She sat in the chair, and to my astonishment, torqued herself halfway around, craned her head to the left, looking up at an imaginary monitor, and stretched her hands down to the right to an imaginary keyboard. It made my neck ache just to look at it.

I had to laugh. She looked a little shamefaced. "I know, I should get them to fix it."

And this is someone who's spent the last six months studying muscles and body mechanics. But I do it myself. It's taken me weeks to realize that there's a very simple explanation for my shoulder trouble. It began when I started my new job, working at a keyboard with no elbow support. Have I fixed it? No. Is my shoulder getting better, with twice-weekly excellent massage? No. And it's not going to, unless I get a chair with arms.

I'm not quite sure where this leaves me as a bodyworker who's going to have to be peddling his services in a few months. People want to believe you can fix their bodies in a pleasant, soothing sixty minutes, and they'll pay you good money for that. But I don't think I can market myself that way. Massage is good for people, in a number of ways. I can rattle off the benefits of improved blood circulation and lymph drainage, the increased seratonin levels and lowered blood pressure, with the best of them. But an hour's exercise is probably better for you than an hour's massage, frankly, for all of those things. The sort of massage I want to practice -- the 90-minute, leave-your-conceptual-mind-behind kind -- is really, as a medical intervention, a pretty poor bargain.

I love massage. When I was a rich programmer, and could afford it, I got it regularly, sometimes as often as once a week. I never questioned whether it was worthwhile, anymore than I question whether eating or sleeping is worthwhile. What I find difficult to understand is how people live without it.

Well, that's fine for someone on the receiving end. You don't need to know any more than that. But for someone on the giving end, understanding it is more urgent. I have some thinking and reading and asking to do.
A Different Place

When I walk in the nearby fields I can see the ancient granite ridges, blue silhouettes in the west against the setting sun. That's Wales, people tell you as a visitor. A different place.

Mary has quietly reappeared, in the borderlands. Which makes me very happy.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Crossing the River

Across the street, behind the salmon-brown stone of the "Family Health Center," a tree's leaves are trembling, roiling. Its branches shift uncertainly. It draws my eye, over and over.

Sixty-two. A dangerous age, I recall, with some amusement. I am only forty-nine, but that, apparently, is a dangerous age too.

That secret, exulting ferocity has been visiting me again. The certainty that all bets are off, that they've always been off. Something feral uncoils in me.

The leaves draw my eye again. Yeats saw them, just this way. The Madness of King Goll, is it? The intolerable fluttering of the leaves. We see them, as any predator sees a shivering tethered thing. I have been watching a tiny six-week-old kitten play with a mouse-toy. Like that.

What does it all add up to, anyway? Christianity tells us we'll get a grade at the end of term, pass or fail. But there is no grade, and there is no term. There is only the fluttering of the leaves.

Some people drink, to retrieve this state. I used to, myself. But not now. It will not last, and nothing will make it last. Nothing will make it stay away, either.

Strange things begin to happen, when you wind your mind too tight for too long. It can spring suddenly back into forgotten pasts, or forward into unexpected emptinesses. I think of poor old Wordsworth. "Was it for this?" he kept wondering. The leaves trembled, and his eyes went there again. "Was it for this?"

But listen. Listen. And wait until you hear. There is only one thing you can do wrong, really, and that's to stop listening: to decide there's not going to be any answer, and try to make one up. Some things you can fake -- some things you even have to fake -- but this isn't one of them.

There. The tree has gone still. Already it is fading, changing. I am back in the ordinary world, an ordinary man. The lines above read like a coded message. I no longer know what I meant. Epileptics are tired when they come out of a seizure, though they don't know what they've been doing.

I keep trying to make the pieces all fit together. Like Wordsworth, again; poor old Wordsworth. It tails away into repetitions, feebler and feebler echoes. ("I, too, have written some books," murmured Swift, humbly, in the madhouse.)

A shirtless man walks by the window. His eyes are downward; his shoulders canted over. He carries his left arm high, as though it were a rifle and he was crossing a river; the fingers of that lifted hand wriggle and grasp at space.
Public Service Announcement

If you've been dismayed by trying to visit Hoarded Ordinaries and finding a sinister blank white screen, fear not. Try Hoarded Ordinaries. She's still with us.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Circulatory System


The heart is actually two pumps, twined together -- one that pumps the blue exhausted blood from the body into the lungs, and one that pumps the fresh red blood from the lungs back into the body. The two have, from a plumbing point of view, little to do with each other: it is simply convenient to run both with the same control apparatus, and to protect both within the same bony cage. The outflow of each will eventually be the inflow of the other, but in a healthy heart the two bloodstreams rush past each other without touching, like trains that are bound in opposite directions, running temporarily on parallel tracks. You can view the whole system as a lopsided figure-eight, with the heart being the crossroads; one loop is the pulmonary circulation, the other the systemic circulation. They meet, but do not mingle, at the heart, where two twined fists of muscle clench together, and relax.



In the dead of winter, I sat in my darkened cubicle, looking at photographs taken by night from London buses. I was transfixed. There were long lines of red light like jet trails, and gleaming reflected surfaces, wet sidewalks, blurs and splashes of light. It was a dark world, and one without faces. But the light. There was always light welling up, light moving and flaring, light flickering and swooping.

We like to tell stories. If I were to give our species a name, it certainly would not be the sapient apes. I might call us the storytelling apes -- or maybe the lying apes. We make up stories constantly, compulsively. So don't believe me when I say that was the beginning of the story. When I say that was the light that grew inside me with the Spring, that eventually grew so bright that I left the barren country of cubicles and touched flesh rather than keyboards. Don't believe me when I say that a small song began in me then. Beginnings, middles, and ends; we make them up with fatal readiness. Don't believe me when I say I fell in love then, and my whole life has grown differently because of it. Such things don't have beginnings. They don't have ends, either.


The sky unravels, a dirty fraying white blanket. It's preparing, they say, a sunny weekend. I hope not -- I don't particularly like the sun, not beating straight down on the world out of a blue sky. I have very fair skin that burns easily. And I don't like being hot and sweaty.

I'm sitting unshaven and unwashed in Tosi's, after a fitful night, feeling cranky and forlorn: the sort of mood in which you invite sympathy and then snap at someone for offering it.

Last night I was reading an old Agatha Christie. It has a marvellous beginning, playing, as she so often so deftly did, on the conventions of the detective story. At first blush it's the standard Arthur Conan Doyle opening: a young woman in mysterious distress comes to the great detective for help. But she's barely started on her story when she stops, staring at Poirot, and says she doesn't want to be rude, but she had thought -- it just won't work, she doesn't want to be rude, but -- he's too old. And she bolts from his office.


I rise slowly through layers of black water, and break the surface, at last, of the lake. I tread water. I can hear the slow drip from invisible stalactites, the faint hoarse breath of the flowing air. Ripples of cold float over my face, smelling of limestone and forgetfulness. The pulse of warmth leaving my torn shoulder. It's enough, breathing the night air -- it's always night here -- and dreaming of a sun, a sun too powerful to endure. Poor Grendel's had an accident.


1. Photograph: Frizzy Logic
2. Agatha Christie: Third Girl
3. John Gardner, Grendel

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I hopped nimbly out of the car, swinging my pack onto my back, and thanked my ride briefly. I'd gotten here from Eugene in three rides. Not too bad. Five hours, maybe. The second ride had dropped me smack in the middle of nowhere among the enormous hills of the Coast Range. Mountains, most of you would call them, but we always reserved that word for the snow-covered peaks of the Cascades. These were just hills, even if they were a couple thousand feet high.

I'd walked an hour or two along the freshly asphalted road, twenty minutes to descend one sweeping curve, twenty to climb the next; huge featureless swoops of second-growth doug fir. As I'd walked I'd calculated how long I would have to walk if I didn't get another ride. Twelve hours, I reckoned.

But then a salesman stopped for me, all agitation, hugging the steering wheel almost to his chest, fat neck crammed into a tight collar. All kinds of people would stop for you, if you looked clean and harmless, even people from the other side, people who thought Nixon was a great president, and Vietnam was a great war. Young hippies were interesting even to them. I made sure to open my face and smile cheerfully, and stand tall, with my arm fully extended -- crooking your elbow, and jerking your arm, I thought, was sinister. That was how people hitched a ride in the movies, but it wasn't how we did it. I never had to wait all that long.

The salesman let me off at the unmarked pull-off. I trotted down the hobbit trails, tunnels half sand, half salal, and then the roof opened, and I came to the ocean.

The ocean, we always called it, "the sea" being thought highfalutin and literary. It would be twenty years before I would discover that we had that backwards from the rest of the English-speaking world. I still say "the sea" with a little embarassment, knowing but not believing that for most people it's just the ordinary workaday word. To me it sounds like "the vasty deep."

I walked down the empty beach. In those days no one came there. Now there is a regular turnoff, and a highway sign on 101 announcing the Hobbit Trails. It's still a bit far from the bigger towns, though, so it's not crowded. Just not empty anymore. But back then only a handful of people knew about that beach, and used that name

A pearly mist was rolling in over the water. Somewhere my friends would be camping. Lori, who a year later would die of a brain tumor in Belize. Pam and Rhonda, identical twins, daughters of the Methodist minister who, ten years later, would officiate at my wedding. A boy whose name I've forgotten, with dark hair as long as my blond. They would be perched in a hollow low on the cliffs, like seagulls, feeding a little fire whipped by the wind. Naked teenagers at the edge of the world.

The rising of the land, the arches of the sky. I turned sideways and vanished.

I wish you had been with me, then. I would like to vanish with you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Or: some of what I have not been saying for the past couple months.

All that anxiety. Peel back the habits, and there it is, right where we left it. I realize now that it will never go away. When I was younger I might indulge in the fantasy that I'll do something -- find the right lover, exercise, eat right, meditate -- and escape that anxiety. Make it go away. But two thirds of my way through life's journey, it's time to accept that this is simply one of the conditions of this life. I'm dangling over a deep rushing current of anxiety. This is not temporary. It's not circumstantial. It's just life as I know it, life as it's going to be.

So. I'm not going to make it go away. I will never feel the solid ground of confidence under my feet. Which is all right (because it has to be all right.) I will just have to go on without it. Cope with it, as anyone might cope with any disability. Find workarounds, accept assistance; make peace with the fact that some things will be forever beyond my reach. That's all right. An anxious person can still have a life worth living.

I can limit the collateral damage. I can unlearn some of the self-contempt I harbor. I didn't choose to have this condition -- who would choose such a thing? So I needn't feel guilty about it, or think it should be some other way. People who don't have it, of course, think I could make it go away by an act of will, just as people with no weight problem think people with weight problems could make them go away by an act of will, and as intelligent people think stupid people could become smart by an act of will, and so on. We give ourselves moral credit for our abilities, and accept shame for our disabilities. Foolishness. We didn't choose either.

It was, in a way, the last hurrah of the delusion that I might be something else underneath it all. Such an intoxicating fantasy. Something or somebody might strip away the facade, and, in a glittering moment, I'd stand revealed as my true self -- now and forever a different man. Someone I'd admire rather than wince at, cover up for, apologize for.

Love is supposed to do that. It doesn't, of course. But it seems like it will. It starts to. But there are two problems. One is that I really am the person I am. And the other is that I find that person so distasteful.

A strange eruption of wounded pride. Was it for this? To suckle fools and chronicle small beer?

So long as I don't believe it, I suppose I can just wait it out, let it dwindle. Surprising how strong it can still stand, though, even though the scaffolding has all been undone. I don't believe in glory and distinction; I have no business even beginning to step that way, let alone to walk down that path -- liberally reckoning up my deserts and finding fault with their reception. That's the quick way to a bitter life, short but too long: I've seen too much of it to mistake it.

Sure, on imagined fields I can contrive extravagant victories, notable routs, brilliant coups. So can any man. But the work in hand is to set my house in order.

The hardest thing is holding other people to their work. Because I can't do it alone. And that means convincing people that it's in their best interest, getting their commitment to a certain amount of work, and supplying the impetus. None of them things I'm very good at. I've crippled my life, though, by only being willing to do things I'm good at. It's time to spend some time doing things I'm bad at.

All phenomena are empty, I'm told, and I believe it readily of bicycle tires and apricots, pleasure and pain, nations and species; perhaps I always did. But not of habit. Habit is not impermanent. It has an essential nature, a wicked one, and it will still be afflicting me when America is no longer mentioned in history books and cockroaches are extinct.

The trouble is that I am so tired, and only habitual routines promise rest: but it is precisely the habitual routines that render me incapable of rest. And so it runs, over and over, the wheel of exhaustion, my own personal twelve nidanas.

Used to be, I would sometimes believe that something could break the sequence. Requited love. Excercise. Meditation. Yoga. A new career. The Scarsdale diet (yes, my memory stretches back that far!) Something would violently break me free of the wheel, and from then on habitual virtue would establish itself, a self-supporting sequence of overflowing energy and profound rest, just as tenacious as the wheel of exhaustion.

It seems to me now, that -- a few months shy of my fiftieth birthday -- it's time for me to concede that it's not going to happen that way. Not that things never change; of course they do. But even though radical shifts do in fact happen, they are moments of extreme vulnerability; and just-this-once-ness applies not only to brave departures but also to one-time indulgences. The departures never become habitual, somehow, but the indulgences do.

I know. I've said all this before. This, in fact, is a habitual lament, for me. When I listed out for myself habitual wheels I've gotten free of in the past four years, the list was impressive. I have wrenched my myself free of many things that have afflicted me all my life.

But what doesn't change is the sense of being bound to a wheel, of being just one transformation away from having a real life.

I am violently sick of compromise, of just-for-now, of buying vices with virtues in a sort of carbon-emissions program of the heart. The whole thing is wrong.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

This Morning

I am asking myself: just what do I think I have, that I am so afraid of losing it?

Sarah is here in Portland. I'll be seeing her at morning puja in less than an hour, if I don't cut and run. I could have gone up to the retreat land and seen her there yesterday. I didn't.

My mother-in-law -- long passed away, now -- once took a painting class, and her teacher told her that water will be the same color as the sky. She used to repeat this bit of painting-class lore to us from time to time, dubiously but obstinately. "They say," she would begin -- "they" being a whole pantheon of authorities whom one had to accept -- "that the water will be the same color as the sky."

Whether we were looking at the gray, brown-veined Columbia under a deep blue sky, or at a green mountain stream under a white overcast, she would cite this oracle. Just one of the many authorities she accepted, and would have defended strenuously, but didn't entirely believe. I've often wondered if that really was exactly what he did say, or exactly what he meant.

Anyway. He would be gloriously vindicated today. The luminous gray of the wet pavement in front of Tosi's is exactly the color of the cloudy sky. Iron and polished steel, edged with tarnish. The weather that means home, to me.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday Morning, Portland Town

The only thing I like about Sundays is the quiet air; the soft rain; the forgetfulness. I walk out in the early morning and I might be the only person alive in the world. Perhaps a plague has killed everyone but me.

I always wanted to journey through a deserted Portland, wandering through people's houses, seeing exactly how they lived before the end. The archeology of Pompeii fascinates me. Ordinary life transected: it's one of the ways to see how strange and poignant the ordinary is, to reveal how heavy a burden we labor under, hour by hour, of desire, habit and anxiety. One convulsion of a mountain can make plain what daily life does its best to conceal from us -- that the future we dread and long for will never actually arrive: that we live most of our lives in a fantasy world. Even if the future comes -- which it might not -- it won't be that one.

I'm not a Sunday man. I am annoyed by shops and cafes opening an hour late, or not at all; by buses running infrequently. What is a person to do with those long hours before seven o'clock? The prime time for writing, for the anonymous sociability of a working breakfast, squandered because people have an unaccountable taste for wasting a perfectly clear, wide-open, brand-new day by sleeping through it.

But there is the soft wet mossy sidewalks, the subdued song of birds made uneasy by the stilled traffic, the endless modulations of silver, gray, and white in the quiet sky. I walk down Hawthorne Boulevard, pausing to look in the windows of the closed-up restaurants, examine their menus, and wonder why I've never gone to the ones I've never gone to. The heavy power and telephone wires swoop up and down the boulevard: it's like walking under the rigging of a ship. Do most people not see this endlessly proliferating spider-web of wires, all over the city? That's my impression. Taut steel supporting cables run from the telephone poles down to the sidewalks: if you lay your hand on them, you can feel them trembling, as if with the weight of all that flowing power and information. As I walk down the street, the wires rise and fall against the sky; the rocking of a ship under sail. They are very ugly, and very beautiful.

Sunday. The buses run on a scarce schedule, so I didn't go to Tosi's. And my bike tire is losing air, so I didn't bike to Tom's. I shouldered my pack, my shoulders protesting at the weight of my old thinkpad, and walked down the boulevard to the Common Grounds coffee house. Not my usual place, though inhabited much more by my own kind: the professional-managerial class, in their jeans or shorts, subdued plaid shirts, and faded cloth jackets, looking rumpled, unkempt and dowdy. (Very few people ever dress for work, in this city, as other cities understand it -- my first impression of Portland, after a long absence, was of a whole city puttering about in its pajamas. "Don't any of these people work, or go out?" I wondered. But you go into their offices and shops, their restaurants and bars, and you realized that they do work and go out; they just don't dress differently to do that than they do to work in their gardens or cook Sunday breakfast.)

"Mocha?" calls a young barrista's voice, sharply; but even at a semi-shout, in the rising inflection so characteristic of their generation. The worried, perplexed generation: every statement comes out a question. The man in the tousled hair and blue plaid shirt shambles back up to the counter to fetch his drink, which is topped with whipped cream. When did grown men in America stop being embarassed about drinking something topped with whipped cream, I wonder? Thirty years ago no man would be caught dead doing such a thing.

Is it just that relentless marketing has succeeded in removing the stigma from self-indulgence? Or is it maybe a sense that the adult world no longer has its own reserved pleasures, so that we have no intention, anymore, of relinquishing the juvenile ones? It is distressing to me that very few of the young people I know look forward to their working lives with anything but dread. It will be the end, they seem to think, of all pleasure, of all leisure, of all fun. Many of them will actually find satisfying, meaningful work. They will be much happier than in the no-man's-land of adolescence. But they don't seem to think so.

How much, how much love rises at times like these. A blond toddler of praeternatural cuteness cruises around the tables, indulged by all the newspaper-readers and laptop-typers. He's happy. His mother follows him. She works hard to keep him happy and quiet, and his father pitches in too, though less skillfully. They look prosperous, successful, competent, and anxious. They aren't here long before his mother, worried about his occasional bleats of joy, takes him out to play on the sidewalk. His father conscientiously buses the table and wipes it down. I wish they looked happier.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dorr's River

It cannot possibly exist. How could it? But I have felt that river, waking on frozen nights out on the ground at three in the morning.

-- Chris Clarke: The River of Gold

A delicate pattern of legs and wings
Ripples up between the light and the wall;
An outlined angel beats its wings, rises,
And dissolves again.
And now, at the join of the wall and the ceiling
The cranefly clicks against the woodwork
And stumbles against its inversion.

Today I held your face between my palms.

The enormous cool darkness
And the sound of running water
And the pull of the tide, running
Miles beneath the sand.
Dorr's River runs down to the sea.

You dip your hands in the sun
And a shadow falls on the world.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Thank You

A little overwhelmed by the thought of trying to respond to all the comments; I want to answer each of them at length, which is impossible if I'm to pass my massage & pathology classes.

So, in order not invidiously to particularize, here, I will just say: even if mole goes the way of all talpidae, I won't just disappear -- the temptation of having an audience for my writing will never be one I'll be able to resist for long, for one thing, and for another, you all have my email address. And I am very attached to you all. (There are a few of you who generally respond to me by email, not by comment: one of you indicated that you thought this would put you into a different and less important category for me. It doesn't.)

I've thought long and hard about what Lori of Chatoyance said:

If one views these venues as a public form of private practice -- as a place where one does one's arpeggios and riffs, and shares in the community of others doing such -- then perhaps the practice is a bit stale and it will take pushing through.

Mole has been a practice journal, a place for occasional essays, and a stage for amateur poetry and drawing. The practice journal might have to go private -- there are patterns in it that aren't altogether healthy, which are exacerbated by its being public. The rest is bound to surface in one form or another. I have repeatedly said that I don't take my poetry or drawing seriously. There are good reasons for this, but it may be time to drop my (too much protested) amateur status and take one or both seriously. The immediate result of this would be, of course, a conspicuous drop in quality. If I go that way, here or elsewhere, I hope you'll bear with me. Sometimes, like a wasp caught in a sash window, you have to go backwards to go forwards.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

On the Occasion of my Fourth Blogday

Four years ago today I began a blog called "Vajrayana Practice." I was starting a new meditation practice, and I wanted to keep a journal of it, and I was no longer used to writing on paper -- I'd been working in a paperless office for several years. And it was new software to play with.

I at least pretended to myself that I thought no one would want to read it. I distinctly remember my mouse pointer hesitating between the buttons that would make it public or private. I had a pious hope that reading about my practice difficulties might help other meditators, and a not very pious hope, imperfectly submerged, that lots of people would read it, and all of them would find me fascinating and admirable. I clicked public.

When I was a boy we used to go swim at a place we called "the pipeline." A big iron pipe (for natural gas?) crossed over the gorge of a little river. We could clamber out onto the pipe and jump off into the water, some thirty or forty feet below. There was always that last moment, the culmination of recklessness, the moment when it was too late to change my mind, when my feet left the pipe. Clicking "public" reminded me of that. And clicking "publish" still does.

Then, almost at once, my feet would smack the surface, and there would be the shock of cold water. No matter how vertical I held myself, I never plunged straight down. On hitting the water there was a veering, a jackknifing, and I'd find myself rushing at an unexpected tangent in the green sunlit water, disoriented, having to wait a moment to slow down and figure out what had become of "up."

The motto of my blog, back then, was taken from Blake:

Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?
Or wilt thou go ask the Mole:
Can wisdom be put in a silver rod,
Or Love in a golden bowl?

One day I posted something that made a friend feel unhappily exposed. I wanted to get rid of the post without drawing attention to the fact, so I pretended its disappearance was part of a general reconstruction, and made some changes I'd been contemplating for a long time. Calling the blog "vajrayana practice," as if I were some sort of authority, had made me uneasy from the start. And anyway, it had stopped being primarily a practice journal. I made a few cosmetic changes, monkeyed with fonts and what-not, and announced my new incarnation as "mole."

I don't know if I fooled anybody, but the name of "mole" seemed to resonate with people, and someone -- Bonta? -- referred to Kenneth Grahame's Mole. It was a persona I was much more comfortable with. I wasn't an earnest, disciplined seeker after enlightenment. I was hapless, easily delighted and bewildered, gratefully overwhelmed by friendship, torn between wanderlust and homesickness, dazzled by a world that was a little more brilliant than nature had equipped me to absorb.

Thank you. Thanks especially to Badger and Water Rat, and to Toad (no link, he seems to have taken one joyride too many; some of you will know who I mean). But I could multiply heartfelt thanks for pages, and still be leaving out someone who said exactly the right thing at the right time, to comfort me or challenge me, pull me up short or send me off looking. You all have been wonderful.

The lifespan of a mole, I learn, is "up to three years." This blog has begun to feel a bit elderly to me. This is not a farewell post, but I do sense that I ought to begin putting my blog affairs in order. All things must pass.

Thank you so much.