“the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra, la!”

I walk uptown today in the sun and the birds and I are out in the sun. It is warm and just amazing. There are flowers everywhere. Arriving home I change to bike gear and then it’s cloudy again. I change out and here is the sun. I will do the A to Z after all, because I am posting daily anyhow and the alphabet trickles round my thoughts. A, a day, a day late, arduous or ardor?

The birds and I are
slain by the sun: welcome
ardor spring flowers

My topic is Virtues and Views….there are Seven Virtues just as there are Seven Sins. Last year I wrote about a different feeling each day. Are the virtues feelings? And there is more than one list of virtues….



Unconditional 2

I think the hardest thing in the world is to love unconditionally. And we can’t love unconditionally unless we love ourselves in that too. Including our faults, our mistakes, our dark corners, our anger and grief, pettiness, unkindness, stupidity, jealousy, greed lust… if we only love our “good” side then we will attack others when they show the same weakness and faults that we know, deep inside, that we are capable of or have acted on. If we cannot love someone who is a sinner, we cannot love anyone, because we are all guilty. Love people anyhow and wholly and yourself too.

I went through a period after my mother died, where I felt I’d entirely failed. My marriage was disintegrating, and I was looking at myself very carefully. How had I gotten here? What mistakes had I made? I felt unlovable and stupid.

I found a letter from my mother written to herself when my father asked me to clean out her clothes. It was two or three years after she died. Here is the letter, with a few things left out for the privacy of the living:


Sept 18, Friday

I don’t want to go home. I want to stay here in Seattle. With the mountains that lift my heart. And clear air and only good memories. What is there to go home to? Struggling with X and his alcohol. I don’t want to try to do something about it. I don’t think it will work if I do. I think will only go on as it is and trying to get help will only lead to fight. I don’t think I have the strength, the courage or the wisdom to help myself or him.

What else am I going to? A house that needs a great deal of work that I only moderately like. A climate I loath. A landscape I find boring. I’m tired of living in a crowded suburb. And that house needs so much work.

People. What people do I go home to? Nearly all have problems. Y, wounded bird, so foolishly enamored of Z or thinks he is. And I have little sympathy or patience with it. And his propensity to failure which I’m tired of also.

A who I dearly love but her household is such chaos with those ill-behaved children and one crisis after another.

B who I like very much but really have so little in common with. I fear all that spiritual stuff may eventually bore me. Maybe not.

C. Another wounded bird, really. And not dependable.

D, barely around, anymore.

Mother, older and frailer. Who needs my care and patience.

E. There is one person to go home to. Thank God she’s there. Not wounded anymore. But so busy and it isn’t fair or wise to dump my troubles on her.

Who else? Why don’t I know any successful (in the best sense) sane people. People who are intellectuals, interested in ideas. F is. But not a fully successful human being and not when G is with him. Ugh. Besides he lives far away and he and X don’t like each other.

I don’t really want to have that show at H’s Church. I don’t like H very well. Oh dear.

I maybe have a job which if I get will be very hard work and if I don’t will be a great disappointment.

Winter’s coming and things cost more and we don’t have quite enough to live on. So that means digging into my inheritance.

I am sick of D.C. I am sick of being a struggling, unsuccessful artist. I am sick of worrying about X, about his moods, his acting the fool when half drunk and acting cruel and crazy when fully drunk. I’m sick of being afraid, of his depression, of his refusal to talk to me about anything of importance.

Of doing dishing. Of all the mess in our house. The mess on my desk, the mud room, the kitchen, the study, the basement. The dirty paint. The back yard. Oh God! How can I change things? Well there are a lot of bad things.

Oh, & I’m sick of being anxious, 10 lbs overweight, biting my nails, having bad teeth/gums. Life get tedjous, don’t it?

Any good stuff?


For me, this letter was the key to finding myself lovable. My mother wrote to herself because she felt that she could not share these feelings with anyone. Terrible feelings. And I thought about it for a long time: I thought: my mother was charming, loved and an entertainer. But a child knows the parents’ hidden feelings. So I knew about my mother’s darkness and the letter confirmed it. And I thought, my mother didn’t need to hide that because I knew about it and I loved her anyhow. I love her more knowing that she was human too.

And if she is lovable whole, so am I. So are you. We all are. And we all make mistakes and are guilty of anger (sometimes appropriate but sometimes not!) jealousy, greed, lust, sloth and pride. Love people anyway and wholly and yourself too.


I have a view of Puget Sound if I stand in the road in front of my house. I took this with a zoom lens on solstice morning at sunrise.

S is for sloth

S is for sloth, the sixth of our seventh sins.

I took the photograph of my daughter a few weeks ago. She can’t be accused of sloth, though, because that was the day after a 12 mile mountain bike race. She came in first in the women’s 18-26 division. She also came in last, because she was the only one…. at present:
1. habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness.
2. any of several slow-moving, arboreal, tropical American edentates of the family Bradypodidae, having a long, coarse, grayish-brown coat often of a greenish cast caused by algae, and long, hooklike claws used in gripping tree branches while hanging or moving along in a habitual upside-down position.
3. a pack or group of bears.

Webster 1913:
1. Slowness; tardiness.
These cardinals trifle with me; I abhor This dilatory sloth and tricks of Rome. Shak.
2. Disinclination to action or labor; sluggishness; laziness; idleness.
[They] change their course to pleasure, ease, and sloth. Milton.
Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears. Franklin.
3. Zool. Any one of several species of arboreal edentates constituting the family Bradypodidae, and the suborder Tardigrada. They have long exserted limbs and long prehensile claws. Both jaws are furnished with teeth (see Illust. of Edentata), and the ears and tail are rudimentary. They inhabit South and Central America and Mexico.

Just think of meeting a sloth of bears, eating blueberries, in the summer… I would not feel slothful then. And looking at the examples from Webster 1913, are we more slothful and sloppy with language than Franklin and Milton?


Sloth is a sin… but my daughter earned her rest…. and we all need to relax and rest sometimes and change our course to pleasure, ease and sloth…..

L is for lust

L is for Lust, another of the 7 sins.

I’d better talk about the photograph first! I took the picture of my son, playing outdoors before my friends’ wedding! He volunteered to play as the guests arrived and played from memory, dressed in his grandfather’s tuxedo. L is for love as well as lust….

I have said that we are all human and all have the potential for all feelings. But lust… now that is complicated to write about.

1. intense sexual desire or appetite.
2. uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness.
3. a passionate or overmastering desire or craving (usually followed by for): a lust for power.
4. ardent enthusiasm; zest; relish: an enviable lust for life.
5. Obsolete. pleasure or delight.
desire; inclination; wish.

Now those aren’t all bad. And don’t we as a culture celebrate sexual desire in the “right” context? We don’t agree on the “right” context as a culture or a world yet.

verb (used without object)
6. to have intense sexual desire.
7. to have a yearning or desire; have a strong or excessive craving (often followed by for or after).

I am reading four books concurrently. Perhaps I have a lust for books. Is that a sin or a feeling or an exaggeration?

I found a mystery called The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl. This is set right after the civil war and is a murder relating to the translation of Dante’s Inferno. The characters include Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes, MD. Part of the plot includes the Harvard Corporation putting pressure on to stop publication of the translation because many of the Harvard faculty and alumni don’t approve. “Modern” Italian is scorned compared to Latin and Greek and  there is argument about whether it is too Catholic. Discrimination all over the place.

And what does this have to do with lust? I came across my copy of a translation of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, translated by John Ciardi, and started reading that. The circles of Hell as he describes them don’t exactly match the 7 sins: he has nine. The Second Circle has the souls of the “carnal, those who betrayed reason to their appetities and who abandoned themselves to the tempest of their passions.” The dead people are insubstantial and are blown about by the winds, forever denied the light of reason and of God.  There are couples there. This circle has less suffering and Dante feels compassion for the lovers.

But further down is Circle Eight with the panderers and seducers. These are punished much more cruelly and suffer more deeply. And Dante feels that it is more deserved…. Circle Eight has many others: flatterers, hypocrites, thieves, evil counsellors, sowers of discord. Each level descends and indicates a worse sin.


The third book is Come as you are by Emily Nagoski, PhD. A friend gave this to me for my birthday and it’s a wonderful book about the myths, mysteries and current science about sexuality, male and female. She writes that we have ideas that are NOT borne out in scientific testing and that many people who feel sexually “broken” are not broken at all. We all have the same parts, just arranged differently, and then our family and culture and experience add to that, and it becomes confusing!

Currently, she writes, 30% of women in testing have responsive desire. That is, they don’t have “spontaneous desire”. Our culture is still getting over men owning other people and owning women, so the cultural “ideal” is that we all have spontaneous desire. But it turns out that we don’t all have it, and there is nothing wrong with those who don’t, including the men! She writes about everyone having both an accelerator and brakes related to sex and that some people have a strong brake and others have a strong accelerator. Above all she stresses that the best thing is for each person to experience pleasure and their own definition of pleasure! That can be complicated for a couple, especially when they expect the other person to be a certain way…. the most loving thing is to find out what a person is really like, not pressure them to fit a cultural idea.

And lastly I am reading a romance, by Nora Roberts. It is very interesting to read it concurrently with the other three. Especially when the couple is “overcome” by “desire”. Certainly the romances I have read nearly all have the same idea about the heroine: when she meets her soulmate, her body knows it and she will be overcome with desire. What’s more, her body is always right even though the two of them argue and resist their true love! This is the myth in romances and it doesn’t match Dr. Nagoski’s book at all! She writes about nonconcordance: that is, that the brain and the body are not always in agreement. Men have a genital response which agrees with their brain response of “sexually appealing” about 50% of the time. Women’s genital response agrees with their brain response of “sexually appealing” only 10% of the time. And if you want to have a happy spouse or partner, it is the brain that you want to appeal to, not the body. If you think about it, there’s not much more of a bigger turn off then someone saying “Your body isn’t responding the way I expect it to and therefore you feel x.” That’s silly, isn’t it? If we want to know what someone is feeling, aren’t we all more complicated then pure body language? Dr. Nagoski also distinguishes between “sexually relevant” and “sexually appealing”, which are not at all the same. An ad for a car with a nearly nude female model draped on the hood may be sexually relevant and not at all appealing to me… I think, yeah, using lust to sell cars and objectifying women again. Unappealing, in fact. I think we have to get past the terrible damaging myth that if a woman is interested in sex with someone, that indicates true love — or that a woman will only be interested in sex if it is true eternal love!

John Ciardi:

More on Dante:

Mathew Pearl’s website:

Nora Roberts:

Dr. Nagoski’s blog: