Tell us about the time when you performed a secret random act of kindness — where the recipient of your kindness never found out about your good deed. How did the deed go down?

Throughout my adult life, since I was old enough to be responsible for my own actions, I have given when I could to people who needed it. And I have received — if not in equal measure, certainly when in real need — from others, though rarely from the people to whom I have given. Karma doesn’t work like that.

I assume this is not talking about holding a door or helping someone put groceries in their trunk. Letting someone who is obviously in a hurry go before you on the cashier’s line. Changing seats on the bus or airplane so someone else can be nearer their husband or child … or the toilet. I don’t consider such things kindnesses, but rather common courtesies everyone should extend to everyone else. Always, without thought or regard for payback or even thanks. I couldn’t even remember 99% of them. They are to me — and I assume to most people — automatic. Programmed into our social DNA. Or should be. Just call them “manners.”

I don’t keep score. I’ve taken people in when they had nowhere to go, sometimes for years. I have been taken in when I had nowhere to go. I’ve fed the hungry and been fed when I was hungry. I’ve delivered groceries to people in dire need, given clothing, computers, musical instruments, books, bags, furniture and the occasional automobile because I had more than I needed and they didn’t have enough. Was it done in secret? No. I usually respond to needs spontaneously when someone makes it known. I hear they need a coat, would love to own that book, need a car. Don’t know how they’re going to feed the family this week. I give what I have to fill a need.

Does it make the gift less worthy? I don’t think so. Do I require a lifetime of gratitude in exchange? You’re kidding, right?

It reminds me of the story told about William Randolph Hearst, who remarked upon seeing an old adversary on the street, “I don’t know why he hates me, I never did him a favor.” And there are many similar quotes.

“Hope has a good memory, gratitude a bad one.” — Baltasar Gracian.

“Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.” — Edward Gibbon

Dr. Malherbe of Natal University said to Field Marshal Smuts as he left a political meeting, “Why were those two hecklers at the back so bitterly hostile?” Smuts replied, “I understand the feelings of one of them very well indeed. He and I were brought up together in the same small town in the Western Cape. I got him his first appointment—and his second. In fact, he owes all his worldly success to me. But I don’t know why the other was so hostile. I never did him a favor in my life.”

“You did him a favor. He’ll never forgive you for that.” — The Boxer 1997

Those are the tip of the iceberg. If you do a good deed, do not expect it to come back to you as gratitude or in kind. Such expectations will doom you to disappointment.

Acts of kindness and generosity do not make friendships. More often than not, they stir up resentment. People hate owing debts of gratitude. The most popular people are always those who don’t do anything for anybody. Those are the folks who are admired and adored, followed and emulated. Don’t ask me why. Human nature is a peculiar thing. The longer I live, the less sense it makes.

If you figure it out, be sure to let me know. It’s one of the deepest secrets of life. Very deep. Very secret.


Last night I said to Garry “Aha! He is hoist on his own petard!” Which meant that he had just become a victim of what he (in this case a movie character) had planned for someone else. Then, I paused, thinking.

“What,” I asked Garry, “Is a petard?”

“I have no idea,” said my husband.  Which is when I realized I’ve been using this expression my whole life … and don’t know what it means. Not really. Petard sounds French, but what is it? I grabbed my laptop and typed  “hoist on his … ” into Google. Before I got to petard … up it came. Don’t you just love when that happens?


Voila! Courtesy of Wikipedia, here is the rest of the story.

petard was a bomb used to blow up gates and walls when breaching fortifications. Castles. Walled cities. That sort of thing. The word was originally (duh) French and dates to the sixteenth century. Typically, a petard was metal (bronze or iron), shaped like a cone or box. Filled with two or three kilos (5 or 6 pounds) of gunpowder and using a slow match for a fuse, the petard was a primitive, powerful and unstable explosive device.

After being filled with gunpowder, it would be attached to a wooden base and fastened to a wall, on or under a gate. The fuse was lit. If all went as planned, the explosion would blow a hole big enough to let assault troops through.

Thus the phrasehoist on his/her own petard” came to mean “harmed by ones own plan to harm someone else.”  It suggests you could be lifted — hoisted — by ones own bomb.



Paperback: 456 pages
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group

By Tamara Veitch, Rene DeFazio

I’m pretty easy-going about religion. All prayers are good prayers and your intentions are more important than the words you use or whatever dogma and ritual you follow. The problem with this book is that it’s blatantly preachy, clearly intending to convert readers to a New Age version of religion I find distasteful.

I’m not a big fan of Atlantean New Age religious writings of any kind. I particularly don’t like it when it pretends to be fiction, but is a thinly veiled attempt to sign me up. I get snarky  and resentful. Mind you, it’s decently written most of the time. It’s got a moderately interesting storyline. The characters have potential. It’s rough around the edges — especially the first few chapters — but after it gets rolling, it’s readable albeit uninspired.

You could read this and pretend it’s not a religious tract, but I’m not sure how. You’d have to ignore the entire tone and intent of the authors — or be incredibly obtuse. Personally, the book annoyed the crap out of me. I do not like attempts to convert me and I don’t care who is doing it. I find it offensive and want it to stop. The only thing that kept me reading the book was my intention to review it.

The Story:

The Golden Age ended. The world passed into the dark and brutal Iron Age. Marcus has been reincarnated uncountable times during the preceding 13,000 years. He is an Emissary. It has been his duty throughout all his lives to help humanity move forward towards the light and usher in a “lighter” age, to bring enlightenment to those ready to receive it. His soul-mate Theron and his Adversary, Helghul are present in each life in some form. He seeks Theron endlessly and repetitively — and battles (equally endlessly and repetitively) Helghul as the ages roll on.

The story moves back and forth between former and current incarnations. The most interesting of these episodes are ancient Greece and the Mongol Hordes. The present is a bit lame, but tolerable. Ancient Atitala (Atlantis to we misinformed souls) is awkward and the writing improves a lot once the authors move past those early chapters.

A lot depends on how you feel about science fiction as religion. It’s not my cup of tea. Maybe it’s yours. If it is, consider this as the New Age version of L. Ron Hubbard’s writings. More books are in the works. Why does that not surprise me?



‘Twas the Night of the Solstice

by Kim Harrison

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and up in the Hollows,
Solstice bonfires were burning, to toast the marshmallows.

The pixies were snug in their stump, even Jenks,
Who claimed he was tired, and needed some winks.

 So I in my parka, and Ivy in her boots,
Were toasting the season, with thirty-year hooch.

When out in the street, there came such a crash,
I thought that it had to be ‘coons in our trash.

Away to the gate, I trudged through the snow,
While Ivy just said, “If it’s Kist, say hello.”

I lifted the latch, and peered to the street,
My face went quite cold.  We were in it thigh deep.

‘Twas a demon, who stood in the headlamps quite bright,
With his coat of green velvet, and his uncommon height.

His eyes, how they glittered, his teeth how they gnashed,
His voice, how he bellowed, his tongue, how it lashed

The street wasn’t holy, so on Big Al came,
As he bellowed, and shouted, and called me by name.

“Morgan, you witch.  You’re a pain in my side.
“Get out of your church.  There’s no place to hide!”

Like hell’s fury unleashed, he strode to my door,
Where he hammered and cursed, like a cheap jilted whore.

But Ivy and I, we circled round back,
To stand in the street and prepare for attack.

“You loser,” I shouted.  “I’m waiting for you.”
And the demon, he spun, taking on a red hue.

Ivy stood ready, and I whispered, “Okay . . .
“If he wants to get rough, I’m ready to play.”

With nary a word, us two girls got to work,
Putting foot into gut, of the soul-sucking jerk.

I circled him quick, with a few words of Latin,
While Ivy distracted him with lots of good wackin’

“Get back!” I yelled out when my trap was complete,
And Ivy somersaulted right over the creep.

My circle sprang up, entrapping him surely,
Al fussed and he fumed, like a demonic fury.

The neighbors all cheered, and came out of their houses,
Where they’d watched the whole thing, like little house mouses.

So Ivy and I, we both bowed real low,
Then banished Big Al, in an overdone show.

But I heard Al exclaim, ‘ere he poofed from our sight
“You won this time witch, but I’ll get you one night!”

– – – – –

Kim Harrison, December 14th, 2005