SHARING MY WORLD – MID JANUARY 2018

Share Your World – January 15, 2018


Whoa! Mid January? 2018? Today is Martin Luther King Day, too … I remember when they decided to make it a holiday and eventually, it really did become a holiday. That was back when this country was actually committed to Civil Rights. Was it a million years ago?

Complete this sentence: I’m looking forward to….

No snow, please. Just … stop snowing. Warm up a little, world.

Also, really looking forward to the day we clear out the White House and install a real President and a functional administration. That will be a day for cheering.

What is your favorite comfort snack food?

That depends. Crystallized ginger is always one. Cookies. Chips and salsa. Toast with jam. And an occasional piece of chocolate.

I don’t snack much and I don’t keep much snack food in the house.

What was one of your first moneymaking jobs (other than babysitting or newspaper delivery)?

I worked at Bloomingdale’s putting price tickets on clothing. In the basement. I also counted incoming goods and marked the bills of lading. I was 14, which was the youngest you could be and still work in New York.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Trying to get through “Fire and Fury” and remarkably, I’m actually beginning to feel sorry for a lot of the people who have done the best they knew how to try and make it a functional place to work and a more “normal” administration. Everyone failed.

Bannon may be gone, but he left his hatred behind.

Everyone failed because the man they elected as President is not up to the task. Forget for the moment whether he’s nuts or demented or stupid or whatever else you call him. He is a man who never reads a book.  No education. No deep knowledge of any relevant subject. Can’t — won’t — read reports from the other people who supposedly work for him. He has zero knowledge of the critical material with the White House is supposed to deal. And, to top it off, he has no idea how to manage people. He works entirely on instinct and his instinct is based on the last person he talked to.

In short, you can’t “turn him” into a “real” president. He doesn’t have the qualifications and nothing will make it happen.

I was surprised by the book. There’s a lot more empathy and sympathy in it than I expected and I found myself feeling bad for people and how painful this experience has been for them. We elected a man as president who should never have been allowed into the office and we are paying a terrible price for such a shallow, stupid decision.

ANYBODY CAN GROW UP TO BE PRESIDENT, BUT YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY BE GROWN-UP TO BE PRESIDENT – TOM CURLEY

I wrote a blog a while ago called Punchlines and Prophecies. In it, I said that we now know that the old adage “anybody can grow up to be President” turns out to be true. But I also pointed out that just because anybody can grow up to be president, not everybody SHOULD be president.

In the comments, a commentator, ‘Lwbut’, made a point that really caught my attention. He said  “The problem is you’re supposed to be a grown up to be President, which clearly the Child-in-Chief has not managed yet.”

That got me to thinking.

Wow, he’s right. If there’s one thing that everybody has realized in the last year, it’s that the moron occupying the Oval Office is a petulant child. A 70-year-old toddler.

In the book “Fire and Fury”, the author makes the point again and again, that EVERYBODY in the White House thinks the President is a child. And they all treat him as one. He’s basically a spoiled petulant 8-year-old. And a ‘soft 8′ at that.

The terms “Toddler-in-Chief”, “Man-Baby”, “Cry-Baby” and “Whiny Little Bitch” show up almost every day in news articles and on TV. Especially late-night TV.

The constitution says that to be President you have to be a natural-born citizen of the U.S. and at least 35 years old. But they didn’t say if that was your actual age, or your mental age!

So — is Trump a child? Think about it. Look at all the pictures I’ve found of Trump as a spoiled brat. It only took me five minutes!! Can you say that about any other president?

If you google ‘ Obama as a baby’, you get Obama’s baby pictures!

If you Google ‘George W. Bush as a baby’,  you get, Bush’s baby pictures!

If you Google ‘Trump as a baby’ you get this.

So. If you are a 70-year-old, but have the mind and temperament of an 8-year old, do you meet the requirements of the Constitution?  I say no! Let’s take it to the Supreme Court!

I realize this is another example of the Child-in-Chief completely ignoring another one of those pesky “political norms.”

In this case it’s “A President cannot act like a child!” So, this is just another thing we’re going to have to make into an actual law. In the future, there will be a sign on the door to the Oval Office that says:


“You must be this mature to hold this office.”


BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS

EVOKING IDEAS, EVOKING DREAMS – BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS


Seriously, I don’t understand how it happened. I don’t have a job. I am definitely, absolutely 100% retired. Yet — I’m always busy!

It’s probably all the reading. In recent months, there have been publications of great books by some of my favorite authors, many of whom hadn’t released a new one in quite a while.

You know I absolutely had to read them. Immediately!

There were two new books and a short story by Jodi Taylor, “The Something Girl,” and “The Rest is History.” book 8 of her St. Mary’s time travel series. Both were great. I’m crazy about the time travel books. Sometimes I need a “time travel fix” and listen to them again.

Then, “Mary Russell’s War: And Other Stories of Suspense” was released — a whole bunch of short stories about Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes. “The Furthest Station: A PC Peter Grant Novella” by Ben Aaronovitch was released and while it wasn’t as long as the other books, it was a day of reading.

Somewhere in there I also read the last three Michael Connelly books, two about Harry Bosch and another new one for another L.A. cop. The new Bosch stories are narrated by Titus Welliver, who plays Harry Bosch on the Amazon series, so it’s not just any old book. You can watch the series — or the movie — in your head and the right guy is the star.

I stumbled across “Strange Practice” by Vivian Shaw which is the kind of book you sincerely hope is the start of a new series. It was way too good to be a onefer! It’s about Dr. Greta Helsing who specializes in a  medical practice for treating the undead. Great book and I hope it is followed by many more!

And then, Craig Johnson came out with a new Walt Longmire book — best one in quite a while — and there was Dan Brown’s “Origins” and Peter Clines’ “The Fold” and  Neal Shusterman’s “Scythe” … and finally, to finish me off, the long-awaited “Robicheaux” by James Lee Burke. It has been a few years since his last Dave Robicheaux story and this was a honey. Simultaneously, up came this new book about Trump, “Fire and Fury” and …

You know? I just realized why I’m so busy.

As you may have realized, I’m a listener rather than a text reader. I started listening to audiobooks when I was commuting long distances. I got so into the habit of listening … and very much out of the habit of focusing on text … that I pretty much always listen and very rarely read. I do read a few things because they aren’t available as audiobooks and I want to read them … or I’m committed to reading them. To be fair, though, I love listening. It’s like watching a long movie in your head. It’s better than movies, really.

It’s definitely the books. And that isn’t all of my list, either. There are at least a dozen more still waiting for me to get to them.

I’m in the middle of “Fire and Fury” right now. Curiosity won on this book … but really, I just can’t resist a good book!

WINSOME IS AS WINSOME DOES

Winsome. When I was editor of the Doubleday Romance Library … oh so long ago! … this was a great word especially when describing the attributes of a young woman in one of the Gothic romances.

Winsome, implying lovely, gracious, charming, and possibly attractive in a non-gaudy, un-flashy way.

So I was trying to think of what in my world might be winsome these days. Bonnie? Maybe? Dogs are always a bit winsome, at least by personality if not by visage. All those adorable things they do are kind of winsome-ish. Okay, not when Duke drags a tree branch in through the dog door and proceeds to imitate a wood-chipper … but when he plays peek-a-boo with his paws, that’s ridiculously adorable.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – At home with dogs

Less adorable when he take those same paws and whacks them hard on my keyboard. I had to pry up a key this morning and one of these days, he’s going to take the ship down with him. Forgive the digression.

I read the beginning of “Fire and Fury: Inside the White House” by Michael Fuller last night. I couldn’t help myself. After Tom Curley’s review of it today on Serendipity, my curiosity went into overdrive. One of the brilliant things about electronic books — audio and other — is that you get them instantly.

Want the book?Before you take your finger off the “buy” button, it’s in your library. It may absorb my time today. Just a warning. I’m in the middle of James Lee Burke’s (last?) book about Dave Robicheaux titled “Robicheaux,” and I want to read this one … and this is the month I’m getting a bunch of audiobooks for review, so it will be my “not-so-available” month.

My winsome dogs will smile at you, though.

FYI for anyone who is following the snow, the cold, and the bank: the bank gave us all the money back. The issue isn’t settled, but they gave us the money anyway. Nice! Thank you BOA. You done good.

The plow was here this morning, so we have a driveway. Paying the guy is going to be an interesting tale because as I have previously observed, free is not the way to go in the snow in New England. Unless YOU own the plow, you have to pay someone. Let us hope for less snow.

Unless there’s such as thing as “self-shoveling” snow? Is there an app for that?

SHARING THE WORLD – A NEW VOICE ASKS THE QUESTIONS

Share Your World 12/11/17

Poor Cee has been hit by Internet issues that have persisted for quite a while. I’m sure it is driving her bonkers. It would certainly make me crazy. Be well, Cee and I hope you are able to sort it out very soon. These questions were created by Riddle from the Middle – real life with a side of snark. Thank you for stepping up!

Is your second toe longer than your big toe?

Yup. On both feet. They aren’t a lot longer, but they are long enough to make getting shoes which fit kind of tricky. I would probably have size 8 feet, but with those pointy toes, size 9. I used to be able to pick up stuff with my toes. Pencils, for example.

Also, my middle fingers are longer than my index fingers — on both hands.

I don’t think this means anything much, mentally. I’m sure it means something genetically, but I got my DNA done and it told me what I already knew. Jewish. Very, very Jewish. So very Jewish, there isn’t even a sidebar of non-Jewishness. I had hoped for a shot of something … exciting? Weird? But … well …

On the other hand, no one can be “all Jewish to the beginning of time” unless you want to assume that Jews have existed since the beginning of time. While I am impressed with the longevity of My People, I think the beginning of time is an eon too long. When you go back far enough, no current or modern religions existed. Humanity started as pre-Judaic, pre-Christian, pre-Islamic, pre-Hindu, pre-modern. Once upon a time, I’m pretty sure we all worshipped the sun, moon, earth and sky. I often think we were better off.

What happens when the dogs dream?

I know what happens, but I don’t know what they dream. They seem to be running. Sometimes, they yip in their sleep. Are they seeing uncatchable squirrels? Or unreachable balls? Or an untasted treat? I’ve asked the dogs, but they never give me an honest answer. Dogs. They lie. Like dogs.

What’s on your closet floor right now?

Bags. Mostly, computer bags. I have had a lot of computers and each of the bags was to fit a particular computer. But I don’t have those computers … but I still have the bags and they are very nice and … well … you never know when you’ll need a computer bag, right? It’s like camera bags. You can’t REALLY have too many of them. Well, maybe you can.

Name five books on your bookshelf.

I have almost everything written by James Lee Burke. Everything written by Kim Harrison. Everything by Gretchen Archer. And then, I have a lot of other books. This is after doing everything we could to cut down on the volume of books in the house.

Most of the small paperbacks are gone, but many of the remaining books are first editions of authors I love. Many of them are signed by the authors. I think some of them have become valuable, but since I’m not selling them, it doesn’t matter.

Name something that inspired you this week.

We should change this to something I really enjoyed this week. I don’t get “inspired” very often.

Actually, that’s not true. Let me backtrack.

I am inspired every day when I write and often, I am inspired by something I see and leap to my feet, grab a camera and go take pictures. I get tons of inspiration for the things that I do and that is why I do it. That little shot of inspiration is what art and writing are all about … for me. Those pointy little ideas that leap into my head from seemingly nowhere, which then connect to some other disconnected thought that has been lurking deep in my brain. And it all comes together in something I wrote.

Evening sky over Uxbridge

This is not a weekly inspired moment. It’s a daily jolt of … something. Maybe it’s a writer’s thing. How else could we do it? It is absolutely why I write, why I take pictures. That little jolt of “seeing” is the bottom line of writing for me. It is how connect all the strange thoughts roaming around my head with the larger world.

Most of this week, we spent with Tom and Ellin. I suspect we were all inspired and also, we had a really good time. Thanks, guys.

A TUESDAY FANTASY WITH HAROLD – RICH PASCHALL

The Wizarding World of Harold, a neat and mostly organized man


Harold needed to get back on track. He would not let A Tuesday Mystery throw him behind his perfectly planned schedule. He finished dressing by selecting socks from the mystifying sock drawer, then hurried to the kitchen where coffee had been waiting an hour for his arrival. He poured a cup, set it on the table and opened the porch door to collect the newspaper.

“Where is it?” Harold wondered. Was this another schedule attack? He looked around. The paper was leaning against the house behind a shrub. “I will have to talk to that paper boy about his accuracy,” he thought as he hurried back to the kitchen.

During Harold’s working years, his schedule had been periodically disrupted. Machines broke down, employees took leave or got sick. Materials ran short. And then there were the inevitably unproductive meetings,  more obstacles in Harold’s path. If these events had taught Harold anything, it was time lost could be regained if you stayed your course and focused on your goals.

Harold left home more or less on time, a small personal triumph. A blast of the hot, humid Florida morning greeted him. The heat was not part of Harold’s plan. When he had moved south for pleasant year-round weather, tropical heat wasn’t what he had in mind.

With the car’s air conditioner on high, Harold headed straight for the library. He parked and entered the foyer of the modest building. He paused to think about his next book. It is not as if he did not think about it in advance.  He had a list in his pocket of the books in the library which might interest him. He had read most of what the small library had to offer about engineering or design, so it was probably time to move to another genre.

Maybe history was next. There were great books about World War II to read. Duty by Bob Greene, The Greatest Generation Speaks by Tom Brokaw were on top of Harold’s list as well as a few others acquired by the library. But which one shall it be?

As he approached the history racks, he noticed a handsome young man, perhaps in his 20’s, reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. He could tell by his face he was absorbed by the story and quite emotionally involved in the final book on the young wizard.

harry-potter

“I wonder what’s the big deal with those books,” Harold thought to himself. He guessed he was one of the few people who had neither seen any movies nor read any books about the boy wizard.

Harold was aware of the phenomenon, of course, but spending time on the books and movies didn’t fit into his idea of a well-ordered life. He could not imagine devoting hours to stories about a magical boy who could fly on a broom.

“Excuse me sir,” Harold said impulsively. “Where are the Harry Potter books?” The man just pointed. In a most un-Harold fashion, he went to the shelf and started scanning the titles.

When he spotted Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harold froze.  Should he take the book and start reading … just to see what the fuss was about? Harold wasn’t sure he could let himself read a book not on his list — a children’s fantasy at that. Caught on the cusp of a dilemma, Harold stood there, mentally paralyzed.

After an internal debate, Harold pulled the book from the shelf and went to the table where the handsome young man had earlier been seated. He had disappeared, as if under an Invisibility cloak. Harold sat in a different seat, lest the man come back and wanted his chair. He opened the well-thumbed book and began reading — “Chapter one, The Boy Who Lived.”

A few minutes later, a boy of perhaps eight who held no book, took the empty seat opposite Harold.  As Harold read, the youngster just stared at the picture of Harry Potter on the cover. It made Harold uncomfortable. He was awkward with children, never knowing what to say. So he asked a question instead.

“Can I help you son?” The boy shook his head. “Perhaps you’d like to find a book to read … for yourself?” Harold would have continued, but the boy gave him a sad look and sat there quietly.

Harold returned to the book, but even while he read, he could feel the little library lad’s eyes on him. It made him so uneasy, he soon got up to leave. It was earlier than he had planned.

He had found the Potter story so engrossing he decided against all logic to take it home. He checked it out at the desk, then went to the small parking lot along side the library.

“This certainly has been a strange Tuesday,” Harold declared to no one in particular. The mysterious lost egg had equally mysteriously reappeared. Now he had impulsively taken a book home from the library which was not on his reading list.

When he got to the parking lot entrance, something made Harold look back toward the library. The boy who had been staring at Harold was now standing on the sidewalk watching Harold leave.

“I hope that little guy has a good home to go to,” Harold thought as he moved out of sight of the boy. When he got to his sweltering car, Harold thought he should check on the boy. Something wasn’t right though he couldn’t figure out what.

When he got to the sidewalk and looked back toward the library, the boy was gone, as if someone had thrown an Invisibility Cloak over him too.

Related: The “Harold stories” in order: “Soup and Sandwich,” “The Case With The Missing Egg,” “Come Monday, It Will Be Alright,” “A Tuesday Mystery

THE WORLD AS A WAITING ROOM: BE STILL! DEPARTURE FROM COLLECTIVE MADNESS

The World as a Waiting Room


ERB-logo-Color-SmallToday The Englewood Review of Books published its book review of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness.



Thanks to Chris Smith, The Englewood Review‘s editor, for including Be Still!, and to Madeline Cramer, the reviewer, for close attention to its themes and substance.

Be StillMs. Cramer’s review is the first to lift up the deep affinity between the book’s cover, Vincent Van Gogh’s “Prisoners Exercising”, and the book’s elaboration of the less obvious forms of imprisonment, and our searches, alone and together, for sanity and stillness.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, September 7, 2017.

“Strange as it may seem, I often feel the way John Lennon did. I dream of a different kind of world…” the Presbyterian minister and social commentator Gordon Stewart says in “Creating Hell in the Name of Heaven”—one of a collection of brief essays in his book Be Still: Departure from Collective Madness. And, considering the timeless popularity of John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” don’t we all long for something more than what we see in front of us? Don’t we all envision a better world? If not, what would motivate us? Who would want to raise children in a world doomed to fail? Who would go to church believing that God’s kingdom would never come? 

Click The World as a Waiting Room to read the review.