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Showing posts from November, 2020

Indian Sandals, My Breaststroke, and the Gift of Thanks

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By Sean Oliver      Personally, I’m not sure how people develop a passion for swimming. I enjoy it because it’s a good workout, but I feel like a fish out of water when I’m in the water. Come to think of it, struggling to get my face out of the water to breathe properly is probably what makes my lengths good exercise. I’m not too bad at my breaststroke, but it’s my front crawl that needs improving. Somersaulting at the wall and kicking off the other way without getting a water-filled sinus eight out of ten times is also a persistent obstacle. Swimming does allow for some good time to think; what I like best is how my thoughts form around the regularity of my stroke.       Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. Man, the pool’s already getting crowded. I might have to start coming earlier.       Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. How does the lifeguard keep track of all these people? She actually looks kinda bored.       Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. Do we even reall

The Battle of the Blackberries

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By Elizabeth Smith There was a man in Thessaly, And he was wondrous wise, He jumped into a thorn bush, And scratched out both his eyes And when he saw his eyes were out, He danced with might and main, Then jumped into another bush And scratched them in again.      “Ouch!” I gasped.      I ripped off my gardening glove. A red thorn had pierced the leather, and a sizable sliver was firmly embedded in my right thumb. I sighed and winced as I slowly pulled it out: the prick was just one of many wounds I had suffered thus far in the yard. Sucking my bleeding thumb, I gazed at the hideous brambles around me. They covered two corners of the yard, making up about one-fourth of the lot or roughly the square footage of our master bedroom. The canes in the southeast corner sprawled in all directions, and some had even climbed a decorative plum tree. There was no way I could handle that area while my husband was at work. Instead, I was tackling the northeast corner, where the thorny plants were no

Going Out for a Walk

 By Max Beerbohm Editor's note: We share this essay to celebrate the marriage of humor and artistry in Beerbohm's writing. Although the essay was published in 1920, "Going Out for a Walk" is something anyone—living in any decade—who is in need of a good laugh can appreciate.       It is a fact that not once in all my life have I gone out for a walk. I have been taken out for walks; but that is another matter. Even while I trotted prattling by my nurse’s side I regretted the good old days when I had, and wasn’t, a perambulator. When I grew up it seemed to me that the one advantage of living in London was that nobody ever wanted me to come out for a walk. London’s very drawbacks—its endless noise and hustle, its smoky air, the squalor ambushed everywhere in it—assured this one immunity. Whenever I was with friends in the country, I knew that at any moment, unless rain were actually falling, some man might suddenly say ‘Come out for a walk!’ in that sharp imperative tone

The Moth Shall Eat Them Up

 By an anonymous contributor      After running past several dark hallways, Jared slowed down to catch his breath and to listen for the sound of the hellwarden’s chains dragging against the floor. When he had walked several paces, he stopped and held his breath. Hearing only silence, Jared let out a sigh of relief. In this particular hallway, only the left side had cells. Between each cell were tiny candlesticks that emitted an eerie white light. Jared walked on the right side, placing his hand against the wet stone wall as he regained his breath. The cells appeared to be empty, and for a time Jared was relieved to be alone in the darkness.      After passing several empty cells, Jared began to hear in the distance an occasional flutter. The sound would only last for a few seconds. From a distance, the sound appeared to come from a sheet hanging from the wall. But as Jared quietly stepped closer into the dim candlelight, the source of the noise came into focus. On the wall to his right