“Our canoes go with the river, but no longer easily or lazily. Every step of the way must be carefully chosen; now close to the steep bank where the bushes hang over; now in mid-stream among the huge pointed rocks; now by the lowest point of a broad sunken ledge where the water sweeps smoothly over to drop into the next pool. The boy and I, using the bow paddles, are in the front of the adventure, guessing at the best channel, pushing aside suddenly to avoid treacherous stones hidden with dark moss, dashing swiftly down the long dancing rapids, with the shouting of the waves in our ears and the sprinkle of the foam in our faces.

“From side to side of the wild avenue through the forest we turn and dart, zigzagging among the rocks. Thick woods shut us in on either hand, pines and hemlocks and firs and spruces, beeches and maples and yellow-birches, alders with their brown seed cones, and mountain-ashes with their scarlet berries. All four of us know the way; there can be no doubt about that, for down the river is the only road out. But none of us knows the path; for this is a new stream, you remember, and between us and our journey’s end there lie a thousand possible difficulties, accidents, and escapes.”

— From “A Holiday on a Vacation,” in Days Off and Other Digressions (1907) by Henry Van Dyke; illustration by Frank Schoonover.

Alaskan Mail Carrier


Because I love the post office and N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), I am naturally a fool for “Alaskan Mail Carrier,” an illustration in which a postman has fought for his life (and the mail) with a pack of wolves on a frozen lake. The image was said to be based on an actual event, but Wyeth may also have drawn on his own experience; in November of 1904, he carried the U.S. mail across 100 windy miles between Fort Defiance, Arizona, and Two Gray Hills, New Mexico.

I don’t know where this painting first appeared, but I do know it was made into a Parker Brothers “Pastime” jigsaw puzzle circa 1935 (with the image flipped).


San Cayetano


San Cayetano/San Gaetano/Saint Cajetan (1480-1547) sought out the sick and poor, and served them, and sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church itself, rather than withdraw from it in the manner of the Protestants.

He founded a hospital for incurables at Venice, where he was devoted to spiritual healing as well as the physical kind. He sought to combine the spirit of monasticism with the exercises of an active ministry. He said, “We try to serve God by worship; in our hospital, we may say that we actually find him.

In Naples, he founded a fund that lent money on the security of pawned objects to help the poor and protect them against usurers; today, he is the patron saint of the unemployed.

At the end of his life, worn down by the troubles he confronted everywhere, Cajetan fell ill. When those caring for  him urged him to rest on a softer bed than the boards he slept on, he said, “My savior died on a cross. Let me die on wood at least.”

He was formally declared a saint in 1671.

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San Cayetano incense from HEM Incense of Mumbai and Banglalore. Available from Nepali Shop.

Thank You, Cuba

Yesterday, Dick Cheney noted that if the Guantanamo detainees are moved to American soil, U.S. taxpayers will have to support them. Until that moment, I had no idea that Cuba has been footing the bill for the past seven years.


While jarring my memory with my senior year high school yearbook, the Kenitorial of 1964, I came across this parting endearment: “Good Lord, am I glad you’re not going to be in my classes next year.”

My thanks to Ronald L. Kern, who made me laugh in 1964 and again in 2009. Good material, Ron, wherever you are.

The Angel Zadkiel


Zadkiel, “righteousness of God,” is the angel of freedom, benevolence and mercy. He is the patron angel of those who forgive. Zadkiel was said to be the Angel who prevented Abraham from sacrificing his son, Isaac, and is often pictured, paradoxically, holding a dagger.

In studying the lore of angels, I have found that there are at least a dozen contenders to be one of the Seven Archangels; one’s set probably depends upon one’s perspective, be it Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or New Age.

Absent from the HEM series are Barachiel (“blessing of God”), the patron saint of the sacrament of matrimony and the angel of lightning; Jegudiel (“glorifier of God”) who holds a golden wreath and a triple-thonged whip; Remiel (“the mercy of God”), the inspirer and awakener of exalted thoughts, the Angel of Hope; Selaphiel (“intercessor of God”), the Angel of Prayer; Zerachiel (“God’s command”), presiding angel of the sun, who leads souls to judgment and serves as the angel of children whose parents have sinned, and who are therefore at risk for falling into sin themselves when they are old enough to drive; and Raguel, who watches over the behavior of his fellow angels every day.

And angels do, apparently, step out of line. I have read that fallen angels include those who take wives, mate with human women and teach forbidden knowledge. Really, you’d think an angel would behave like, well, an angel.

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From the Seven Archangels (Siete Arcangeles) series by HEM Incense of Mumbai and Banglalore. Comes with a prayer in Spanish. Available from Nepali Shop.

The Angel Jophiel


Jophiel, whose name means “beauty of God,” is another candidate for guardian of the Tree of Knowledge and expeller of Adam and Eve. Day to day, he is the enemy of all who pursue vain knowledge and is often pictured with a flaming sword that he wields to prevent humanity’s return to the Garden of Eden. This Jophiel, however, appears to be carrying a lantern, a symbol often attributed to Archangel Gabariel.

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From the Seven Archangels (Siete Arcangeles) series by HEM Incense of Mumbai and Banglalore. Comes with a prayer in Spanish. Available from Nepali Shop.

The Angel Uriel


Uriel’s name means “Light of God” and he is often pictured with a scroll and book. In the apocryphal book of Esdras, he serves as a teacher of God’s ways. In heaven, Uriel is said to be the head of all angels of salvation, light, and peace. He is the light bearer for the Gospel and gives blessings to those who accept it.

On the other hand, his name also means “Fire of God” and he has been pictured with a sword and flame, as above; he stands at the Gate of Eden with a fiery sword, is a pitiless angel of repentance, wrestled with Jacob, checked the doors of Egypt for lamb’s blood during the Passover, and holds the keys to the Pit during the End Times.

In apocryphal gospels, he rescues Jesus’s cousin, John the Baptist, from Herod’s slaughter, and carries John and his mother Elizabeth to join the Holy Family after their flight to Egypt.

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From the Seven Archangels (Siete Arcangeles) series by HEM Incense of Mumbai and Banglalore; comes with a prayer in Spanish. Available from Nepali Shop.

The Angel Raphael


Raphael’s name means “God’s healing” and he heals sickness of the spirit and the body. In the apocryphal Book of Tobit, he cures Tobit’s blindness, restores his family’s wealth, and makes it possible for Tobit’s son to marry his beloved; after all this, Raphael reveals himself as an angel sent by God to accomplish these things for the faithful. To restore Tobit’s sight, he tells his son, Tobias, to catch a fish; for that reason, Raphael is often pictured, as above, holding a fish.

Raphael is also cited as the head of all angels. In Islam, he will signal the Day of Judgment by blowing a horn and sending out a Blast of Truth.

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From the Seven Archangels (Siete Arcangeles) series by HEM Incense of Mumbai and Banglalore; comes with a prayer in Spanish. Available from Nepali Shop.