Momentary Permanence


Momentary Permanence

I paddle and I paddle,
each stroke offering reward.

A bass, thrashing
in a futile struggle to escape
the grasp of an eagle
that swiftly rises from a river
in a slow January crawl.

The graceful nature
of a sycamore’s white lines
against a blue March sky,
just as beautiful the full green
bloom of its leaves
in the coming months.

A dragonfly, the imperceptible
breeze of its lustrous wings
welcome in August heat
as it flits from a tree branch
to the bow of my kayak
to reeds that line the shore,
never still for long, until
it reaches the gray arm
of a tree rising from the river,
pausing to let me pass.

I drive and I drive,
each trip offering reward.

Children who greet me
with open arms, engage
in long talks of events
new and not-so-new,
as if they are one.

Conversations starting up
where they left off,
leaving off where they
are bound to start
once again.  And again.

A granddaughter
who will read to me
the memorized tale
in her favorite book.
One who will walk with me,
a fast crawl more her speed
when last we were together.
Both milestones
in the passing years.

Places that never grow old,
never have when I was close
and never will,
even in my absence.
The sight of maple trees
when oak and hickory
have become my norm.
The blue of rivers,
waterfalls and lakes,
now that I’m surrounded
by muddy waters.

All of this welcome to me.
Permanent bonds, even
with their temporary nature,
like golden sycamore leaves
as they drift beside me, caught
in the swirl of my paddle,
as if to remind me
they will always be with me,
even if waiting inside graceful lines
against a blue November sky.

This poem is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: EVERYTHING IN THE FOREST IS THE FOREST.

Falling for Winter

Falling for Winter
(clicking any photo will open a larger image in a new tab)

The inch of snow we had last night never accumulated on our “warm” pavement and was mostly gone by this morning, with an overnight low of 30ºF. The weather forecast for the next week is for daytime highs bouncing between mid-30s and high-40s and nighttime lows back and forth between high teens and mid-30s. If nothing else, the weather fluctuations here can be entertaining. Here are a couple of views from my house.

From my back deck…

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From my front porch…

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And the same view three days ago…

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Ken G

Fall Color, Finally

Fall Color, Finally
(clicking any photo will open a larger image in a new tab)

In late October or early November, I make a point of going to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, sixty miles south of my home in mid-Missouri. I’m seldom disappointed by the fall colors the landscape has to offer. I made the trip on Monday, with temperatures in the sixties and partially cloudy (wispy) skies.

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The patches of red that are visible are dogwood.

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There may be few maples in our area, but they draw my camera like a magnet.

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This view is one that I never fail to photograph. It’s the outflow from a natural spring found at the base of one of the bluffs. The water (56,000,000 gallons, daily) can have an amazing blue hue on a cloudless day.

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I spent several hours walking 4.5 miles of trails within the park, with an elevation change of a couple hundred feet, from the Castle down to the water, and then up again along the bluffs.

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This tree, now bare, sits on the ledge visible in the photo above it.

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The area has numerous karst formations, including this natural bridge.

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Designed to be a home, later a hotel, The Castle at Ha Ha Tonka is bare stone walls, the result of a devastating fire in 1942.

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A great photo of The Castle in its prime can be seen here.
Meanwhile, within five miles of my home, this bluff always offers a spectacular autumn view.

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And in my back yard, this hickory.

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Sadly, the colors don’t stay forever. This is the same tree, three days later, after rain and a couple of cool nights. I’m sure the other trees are soon to follow. Oh well, there’s always next year.

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Ha Ha Tonka fall photos from the last two years can be found here and here.

Ken G

Gray Walk, in Living Color ~ haibun

Gray Walk, in Living Color

Two days ago, we had 80 degrees and 80% humidity. And overcast. Yes, muggy – wanting to rain. But I thought I might get some photos of milkweed at that “breakout” stage, with fuzzy seeds clinging to pods, so I headed to a local conservation area to walk the trails. I had been there a few weeks earlier, taking photos of monarch caterpillars, but I knew those would be gone for the year. As it happens, the milkweed needs another week, so I continued my walk, expecting few photos with the poor lighting provided by a cloudy sky.

Until I was surrounded by color. As the path enters a large meadow, there is a broad expanse of flowers, and flying from plant to plant were hundreds of monarch butterflies. I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to take photos of these beauties as they moved among the flowers, more concerned about fueling up for the great flight ahead of them than they were about maintaining any clear line of sight with my camera lens.

As it started to sprinkle, I continued my walk into the woods, looping back after a mile of shelter from the rain to come back to those flowers. The sky was no clearer, but the rain had stopped, so I took a few more photos before heading out of the park. With fifty yards to go before reaching the parking lot, random raindrops started falling and I made it into the car just as a steady rain began to fall. This morning I woke to 46 degrees.

preparing for flight
butterflies feed on asters
milkweed drying up

(clicking any photo will open a larger image in a new tab)

Gray Walk in Living Color_1Gray Walk in Living Color_2Gray Walk in Living Color_3Gray Walk in Living Color_4Gray Walk in Living Color_5Gray Walk in Living Color_6


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Ken G

Mid-MO Old Car Show

Mid-MO Old Car Show

I can’t go to a car show without taking pictures. They could be the same cars from a previous show, but I’ll try for a better photo. Maybe there’s better light, or I have a new idea for “lines.” I look for lines, curves, configurations. We attend an annual car show that’s held in conjunction with an outdoor Oktoberfest, and I have to take photos.
A lot of photos.
My wife has the patience of a saint.

(clicking any photo will open a larger image in a new tab)

1937 Nash Ambassador Truck

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1966 Ford Mustang

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1964 Volkswagen Beetle

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1928 Ford Phaeton

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1922 Ford Model T Truck

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1931 Ford Coupe

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1939 Ford Coupe

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1928 Studebaker 4-Door

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Chevrolet Bel Air

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1936 Buick 41 Series

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1960 Ford Thunderbird

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1956 Plymouth

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1958 Chevrolet Pickup

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1936 Ford Coupe

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1948 Ford F1 Pickup

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1955 Ford Crown Victoria

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1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

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1957 Ford Thunderbird

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Ken G.

Runge Walk Companions


Runge Walk - Moss Rock Trace

Moss Rock Trace / Runge Nature Center

Images: Runge Nature Center, Missouri, August 28 & 29, 2017.  In the Viewer, each image has the option for a larger size.  (Moss Rock Trace can be viewed by clicking.)






Watercolor Autumn

Yesterday was a nearly perfect day for a hike at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, in Missouri. I say “nearly perfect” because the temperature was 82 degrees. But then, there was a nice breeze, and I stayed in the shade most of the time. It’s usually been a good place to get some nice photos of fall colors, but not this year. Pale yellow and brown were the only colors showing through the green. At least the water offered some interesting views.







She shone in glitter, by Kim at Peace, Love and Patchouli, talks about smiling and being self-conscious in front of the camera. These days, with the proliferation of selfies, it seems there are fewer and fewer self-conscious people out there. I’m not big on selfies, although you might guess otherwise if you were to see all the videos I posted online in my heyday vlogging period.

I’m not afraid to smile for the camera, except for maybe at this particular moment (more on that later), but it wasn’t always like that.

At nine-years-old, I tripped and fell while in a department store. Both front teeth broke, forming a gap in the shape of an inverted “V.” My dentist said I couldn’t have crowns (or caps, as he called them), until I was seventeen, since the process might involve the nerves in the teeth. Fortunately, he decided to try it when I turned fourteen. There are very few photos of me with an open smile during that five year period – mostly tight-lipped grins.


My dentist installed each cap by grinding the outer edges of the broken tooth to form a stub to act as a base. This was around 1967, and, due to cost, plastic was used for the caps. Those plastic caps held up pretty well. (photo on the left is pre-caps)

Fast-forward to the early 1980s. I rode to the corner deli on my bicycle, with my son on the back in a child seat, for ice cream sandwiches. We sat outside enjoying our ice cream – his was a sandwich, and mine was a Nutty Buddy. That’s a sugar cone with crushed peanuts and chocolate on top. Mine was frozen solid, and when I bit into the top I raised the base of the cone to help break off a bite.

Wrong move. My tooth broke, instead. The stub of the tooth, inside the cap, broke right off, and that pressure also made a crack in the plastic. Somewhere, there’s a photo of the two of us side-by-side, with big toothless grins!

I had both caps replaced with porcelain crowns. Each is a steel cap with a porcelain layer on the outer surface. The crowns were filled with adhesive – one placed over the unbroken stub, and the other onto a steel post drilled into the tooth. Unfortunately, a few years later, a “junior” dentist in the practice cracked one of the crowns while reattaching it after it had loosened. The replacement crown did not cost me anything, but the slight difference in color/shade is noticeable to me. I got over that soon enough, and, as I said, I’m not afraid to smile for the camera.


Fast forward, again, to 2016. Yesterday. A caraway seed from the top of a beef on weck came between the top edge of my bottom tooth and the back of my crown (the “newer” one) – it was that or a piece of kosher salt. The added leverage broke the crown off at the base, breaking the remaining stub. I’m now in a different state, and I’m seeing my dentist tomorrow, to see if a new post can be drilled/inserted into my tooth/jaw. It may be a while before I smile for the camera again.


I’ve had a couple of squamous cell carcinoma removed from my shoulder/chest, so I see a dermatologist every year for a skin check. My dermatologist back in Buffalo said that small patches of dry skin on my temples and brows was similar to eczema, and the best I could do was to put a cream/salve on it to relieve the itching. When I moved to Missouri I started seeing a dermatologist here (at a cancer center). She immediately told me that I had sun damage that had the potential to become cancerous. It could come and go, not necessarily related to my current sun exposure. She gave me medication to spread over all of my face, saying that it would expose damage I wasn’t even aware of. And, it did. It took about a week before the damage gradually appeared, and more than a month total before I looked normal, again. (As normal as I’m able to appear.) This is how my face looked for a couple of weeks, before the dead skin sloughed off. Most of the damage was on the left side of my face, as that got the most exposure over my years as a truck driver. It’s been eighteen months, and I haven’t had any re-occurrence of dry skin. I didn’t go out in public very often during those two weeks.

I’ll close out with some nicer photos. I’m told my daughter has my smile. I think it’s as much the light in her eyes, as anything.

Ken G.



These guys always make me smile.
The one on the far right was pretty upset when he first saw that gap between my teeth, 34 years ago.