The Garden of Forking Paths

greenmaze branching narrative

Just this past week, I was teaching the story “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges  to my university class on Modernity in Literature.  It’s a wonderful story  – a spy story wrapped around a meditation on time.   One of the main characters says this about time:

“…In contrast to Newton and

Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform, absolute time. He

believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent,

convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one

another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries,

embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these

times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both

of us. In the present one, which a favorable fate has granted me, you have

arrived at my house; in another, while crossing the garden, you found me

dead; in still another, I utter these same words, but I am a mistake, a ghost.”


garden of forking paths 1

To me, this applies to the decision points of my life.  At age 67, I can look back and see them.  At age 18, I decided to go to College A, in a town far from home. Had I decided to go to College B, in my home town, my whole life would be different. I would have probably married the fellow I was dating at home, had children, had lived in my home town all my life, and so on.

If I follow Borges’ philosophy, on another parallel level , I AM doing just that.

I could go on and on , through the many decision points of my life, and imagine my life as it is lived on those other levels.  It becomes dizzying!


Borges has another one of his main characters leave us with this bequest:





<a href="">The Road Less Traveled</a>

Yearning for Spring

feb 19 garden

Taken in my garden yesterday.  Temperature: 29 degrees.  The Weather Channel predicts a high of 60 today.   I hope!

This has been , and continues to be, the second longest February of my life, due to the strife at my university. However, I remember the longest February, which was in 2009, when I was very very sick from the radiation I was getting for cancer treatment. It nearly killed me, but it did kill the cancer.  So that puts this February in perspective.


<a href=””>Seasons</a&gt;

World’s Best Widget


hyperbaric chamber

Today’s Daily Prompt:  You’ve been granted magical engineering skills, but you can only use them to build one gadget or machine. What do you build?

I have long bantered about this machine in casual conversation. I feel guilty and selfish and materialistic when I write about it here, given the need for a product that would cure cancer or eliminate world hunger, but here it is anyway:

I wish I could invent a chamber like a hyperbaric chamber or a human-sized microwave oven that would reduce obese people to their appropriate and healthful weight, just by the twirl of a dial and the push of a button.


This certainly isn’t the world’s best machine, because so many in this world are starving. But here in the US, many would love to have it.  Here in the US, many of the poorest people are obese because they eat only fattening food, which is cheaper.


I actually wrote a blog to a prompt similar to this in November…


<a href=””>World’s Best Widget</a>


What Time Allows

time and the railroad track     Trivette Carreira

I used to say, with the Rolling Stones song, “Time  …is on my side.”

I don’t say that anymore.

What I do still love, however, is Dylan Thomas’ poem  “Fern Hill”

It’s a poem about childhood and innocence and Time.

fern hill quote

Here’s the whole poem:

Fern Hill

Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953


Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs

About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,

The night above the dingle starry,

Time let me hail and climb

Golden in the heydays of his eyes,

And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns

And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves

Trail with daisies and barley

Down the rivers of the windfall light.


And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns

About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,

In the sun that is young once only,

Time let me play and be

Golden in the mercy of his means,

And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves

Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,

And the sabbath rang slowly

In the pebbles of the holy streams.


All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay

Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air

And playing, lovely and watery

And fire green as grass.

And nightly under the simple stars

As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,

All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars

Flying with the ricks, and the horses

Flashing into the dark.


And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white

With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all

Shining, it was Adam and maiden,

The sky gathered again

And the sun grew round that very day.

So it must have been after the birth of the simple light

In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm

Out of the whinnying green stable

On to the fields of praise.


And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house

Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,

In the sun born over and over,

I ran my heedless ways,

My wishes raced through the house high hay

And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows

In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs

Before the children green and golden

Follow him out of grace,


Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me

Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,

In the moon that is always rising,

Nor that riding to sleep

I should hear him fly with the high fields

And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,

Time held me green and dying

Though I sang in my chains like the sea.


<a href=””>Time</a&gt;



My Name

statue of St. Anne

When my parents married, he was 30 and she was 29.

They were having trouble having a baby; she had several miscarriages.

Sometime in there, they went on holiday to Quebec, Canada.


While there, they visited the shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupre.

Saint Anne de Beaupre

My mother, a newly converted Catholic, made a promise to Saint Anne: if she had a baby and it was a girl, she would name her Anne.

I was born when he was 33 and she was 32.



<a href=””>Say Your Name</a>





Second Time Around


Today’s Prompt: Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?


I have several books in that category, but the one that came to mind first this morning was   The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I read this one back on 2005 when it was published. Since then, I bought the audiobook and have listened to it at least seven times. The story draws me in for many reasons.

I agree with the Wikipedia description:

“The plot blends the history and folklore of Vlad Țepeș and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula. Kostova’s father told her stories about Dracula when she was a child, and later in life she was inspired to turn the experience into a novel…The Historian has been described as a combination of genres, including Gothic novel, adventure novel, detective fiction, travelogue, postmodern historical novel, epistolary epic, and historical thriller. Kostova was intent on writing a serious work of literature and saw herself as an inheritor of the Victorian style. Although based in part on Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, The Historian is not a horror novel, but rather an eerie tale. It is concerned with history’s role in society and representation in books, as well as the nature of good and evil. As Kostova explains, “Dracula is a metaphor for the evil that is so hard to undo in history.”[3] The evils brought about by religious conflict are a particular theme, and the novel explores the relationship between the Christian West and the Islamic East.”

I love the way she wrote the novel, modeling it on the style of Stoker’s Dracula: in letters and diaries. But additionally, Kostova made it an intriguing travelogue.

Through her descriptions, in my imagination I have visited Istanbul,




Oxford University,


The Smithsonian Institute in DC,

Smithsonian Library




ruins-of-poenari-castle-(real-castle-dracula)-Wallachia-RomaniaBran Castle

A monastery in the Pyrenees which she calls St. Mathieu des Pyrenees Oriental,

Monastery Pyrenees

Cafes in the French countryside

French cafe

And in Istanbul,


(with mouth-watering descriptions of the food),

And many other places.

I’ve also learned much of the history and atmosphere of the above-named cities, especially so much I hadn’t known previously about the Ottoman Empire.

So even though the evil Count, who is the Historian of the title, threads through and unites the narrative, there is so much more to this novel.


<a href="">Second Time Around</a>