Archives for category: Books

9780804136631
ISBN 978-0-8041-3663-1

Thanks to Blogging for Books, I just finished, A Spy Among Friends – Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.

Certainly a good read, one which incredulity spikes about every other page. Kim Philby was known as one of the greatest spies in the 20th Century. Ben Macintyre has written a suspenseful novel, and he has based tremendous psychological insight into personal papers and never-before-seen intelligence files.

I normally am not a reader of spies or World War II. Anyone who wants an intricate view of the range of events and plans and depth of intrigue occurring during World War II will not be disappointed.

It is a prodigious book, clear to follow, except for this reader who at times was boggled by the duplicity of so many spies, and who trusted whom. Basically, Kim Philby was a product of good schooling, elite circles, exclusive clubs. Sprinkle long night of drink and carousing and the cavorting wiles of spies, albeit, against or for, whatever country, and the book becomes a page turner.

Kim Philby was unknown to anyone close to him and duplicitous to all. Many were fooled by his being a double spy for England and the USSSR.

This reader lived in Russia, really Ukraine and Belarus for a 3 year period with some trips back to the states. We were there really with the concept of peace and promotion of a different concept of the oneness of humanity. We were ordinary citizens meeting the rank and file in the society, a society encased in shame. The people were grief stricken that they had been so deluded. Communist changed into business suits, the mafia kept on keeping on, and yet the society opened up.

The intricacies of the spy trade command a horrific attention. So much intrigue; so much mathematical callousness as far as ordinary people were concerned. Philby caused 100s to die, but he remained very British, very club oriented, very alcoholic. None of his wives really knew him. They thought they did. His children adored him. How would they know? He does come across in this view as a father who cared, but what a price he pays.

I ended my horrified reading wondering was it total power, just being ahead of the game, any game, and why not two competing powerful nations. How could he be so deluded by Communism, and Stalin? The egos and delusions of spy networks and the crumbling times we all live in.

At any rate, it was a compelling read, but shocking. My questions remain. Was Philby a sociopath? What compelled him? Such blind allegiance. What really motivated him?

As an aside, I’ve been watching Manhattan on PBS and the same power hungry intrigues are revealed as the story of the atom bomb unfolds. Obsession, ego and power – oh dear.

Once again, thanks Blogging for Books! great way to spread the word about good reads!

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A Life Apart – L. Y. Marlow 9780307719393

A Life Apart

L. Y. Mar

This is a historical novel dealing with race, World War II, specifically Pearl Harbor, relationships of the black and white kind, and a love story. The title A Life Apart implies to the reader more than one meaning. The author is indeed a , and as she takes us deeper and deeper into the novel, complexities of other families, life of African-Americans, how they differ, and a coming to love. It’s gentle, and it’s a story about love, about skin color privilege and hatred, and human beings caught on the corners or jagged edges of history’s transitions. I’m from Boston, and went to secretarial school in Roxbury. I was born a little before World War II, and grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I was oblivious to racial prejudice until I came to California in 1992, discovered the Baha’i Faith and the concept of the oneness of humankind.This book is important. There are no strident notes or harsh retaliations to the way whites treated our fellow African-Americans (grievously, beyond measure), and the author writes about these times, which are exceedingly important. If we are to know and love each other, and realize skin color is an illusion, we have to know of our insides, our hurts, our triumphs, frailties and joys. A Life Apart is a compelling story, and it works on many levels. I definitely recommend it. I read this book because I signed up for Blogging for Books, a worthy adventure in itself. Otherwise I might have missed A Life Apart. My life is enriched because of reading this. I think readers will hear more from L. Y. Marlow. She is also author of Color Me Butterfly, which I intend to track down as soon as I finish this review. Kudos to this writer! Thanks again Blogging for Books!

China DollsChina Dolls by Lisa See
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a fan of Lisa See, and I read a lot about China, particularly in narrative form. She is a story teller and keeps the reader close to the page, hesitant to put her books down. I revered her Mom also, Carolyn See – what a family of writers.

I loved the detail, the history of the time, the breaking away from tradition and the courage of the three women. Highly recommend this book!

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”My Mother’s Voice” border=”0″ src=”https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1359982576m/17324149.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice”>My Mother’s Voice</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/614105.Kay_Mouradian”>Kay Mouradian</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/886920404″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
<br>I met Kay Mouradian at a very crowded Author’s Day in Pasadena.  Their first such event.  We all had assigned spots at tables and then were free to wander to meet fellow writers.<br><br>My Mother’s Voice is a profound book and a must read.  Of course, it was a gripper, but perhaps that word shows a paucity of feeling;so many people go through such terrors, abuse, genocide, and in the western World, some of us can become numb to these conditions or simply are unable to read about any kind of suffering.<br><br>Nobility and anonymity are huge themes in my life, and I read about these people, always giving me a higher and higher standard to attain.  Then, become mine.  We have a history laden with heroes and heroines amidst the chaos of a world destined to come of age.<br><br>This is one such book.  My Mother’s Voice.  I haven’t checked amazon, Alibris for it, but its ISBN 978-1-4525-6169-1, Balboa Press, a Division of Hay house. This has received Honorable mention as a documentary and considered Best Documentary at a film festival in Toronto.<br><br>
<br/><br/>
<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13547180-brain-on-fire” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” border=”0″ src=”http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353173297m/13547180.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13547180-brain-on-fire”>Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5778057.Susannah_Cahalan”>Susannah Cahalan</a><br/> My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/450391922″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />

<br/><br/> <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

I just spent one hour trying to get a Wordle on to my blog, my next adventure.
AM GOING WORD FISHING THROUGH DECEMBER 12, and have to wean myself off Facebook, my Blog, others blogs. I’m teaching 4 classes at moment; subject to change. I started a novel during Nano Wrimo month, and an opportunity to work on it further calls me. I’ll miss everyone, but it has to be done.

<Wordfishing at the Casbar, Old Town words, rainer maria rilke, pug dogs, Boston, whitey bulgher, lost loves, cubicle despair, the many lives of Baby Cakes Nelson, life reviews, Ross Dress For Less, destiny smeshtiny, let go, unemployed, Bubba, Bumpa, pug dogs, forces of light and darkness, 4 pound baby, oneness, being a Virgo, twin, pain, health, relationships, aaargh relationships, hot tears, successful candidates, prey, cabby hats, FISHINGFORWORDS

gotta get to this
an odyseey harrowing and yet incredible

a journey of illness, misdiagnosis, conundrums and courage

Maria McCutchen, a stay-at-home mother with two young children and a tight schedule, couldn’t find the dairy section of her local supermarket one day.  After the usual questions women ask themselves, about stress, being over tired, or I’m imagining this, she asked her husband one night, “Squeeze my head,” and he does.

Her head ached, and her head also felt like a water balloon pumped full of water, a sense of building pressure.  He wrapped his hands around her head, and he squeezed.  Her thoughts became more clear, and she felt better.  He stopped and a feeling of flood water filled her skull, and her brain fog returned.

She consulted a mild, quiet and pleasant doctor.  He will be the first of many.  She answered the questions, and then follows a routine she will learn by heart:  “Stick your tongue out, smile, hold your hands out in front of you like you’re carrying a pizza and close your eyes.”  Ah, and she also walked across the floor of his miniscule office. Long story short, after an MRI, and a call the very next day, “We see something,” the doctor’s voice matter-of-fact, offering no more or no less says, “I need you to come in.”

She had a cisterna magna, a posterior fossa arachnoid cyst. But the doctor was not concerned, words such as “benign” and “unremarkable” floated over her head.  Moments later, a handshake, and a “You’re fine,” because you see most people are born with type of cyst and they don’t cause problems.  She returned home wondering, what if I’m the exception?  No time for that.  Her husband lost his job.  Their insurance will run out.

Fast forward to  a harrowing pain-filled drive to live in New Mexico, episodic endurance of brain tests done incorrectly, dismissal of her symptoms, suspicion by doctors and blatant repudiation of her illness.  Lace that in with family concern, trying to raise 2 kids, keep a family together, and obliterating pain, agony, nausea, you name it, but then, she finally finds a doctor in Arizona.  He will recommend brain surgery.  the tests before, during and after are trauma filled and painful, and there will be trouble in River City after her brain surgery.  But still she reassured herself that she’s in the hands of a good neurosurgeon specialist in neurology in Arizona.  She must, however, return to New Mexico.  More happened.

I sat down after 7 o’clock last night to read this book.  I got up at 12.30 noting, “I’m up too late again,” but I had finished the book.  I didn’t move.  I sat on my black leather couch in our small pool house turning page after page.

The unsaid around her struggles reveals a very courageous, loving, gutsy woman in extreme pain, with great times of hopeless and yet a warrior spirit.  That makes a noble being in my book.

Her account is well written.  I think this book should go viral.  Yeah, I just broadened my blog base, and here I am using trendy terms, go viral, but the bloggers and FBers out there will know.

It’s All in Your Head – Maria McCutchen.  Copyright (c), Tate Publishing, LLC.

http://www.creativewritenow.com

280 pages – $15.99 (paperback)
$9.99 (digital download)

Five weeks ago I had a steady Sorry Gnat blog following of about 7 people.  People know me a bit around the City of Pasadena.  A few months ago my Irish Mug was on the cover of Pasadena Weekly, because I teach writing at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, a workshop for volunteers, homeless women, and women in transition.

I also teach a couple of other  writing workshops in the Pasadena- mainly at the La Pintoresca Branch, and conduct a small one, for donation only, in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, the most fantastic and aesthetically snappy fair trade store, located on Lake and California.

I felt stagnated by my inadequacies with my blog.  I had a major friend who has helped me a lot.  The fabulous Mizz V – shrunk my SorryGnat banner, twiddled and twaddled comments and headings appropriately, but she got a job, and I ordered 10-12 books from the library on Blogging.

I need to stretch I thought.  This is how I get creative thoughts.  They nudge me or pop up when my nose is halfway down my first cup of coffee in the morning.  Along came #@MNINB, and I was a hashtag apprentice, a Linkedin Babe, a Twitter type of gal.  I’m already on FB with people from around the world.  It helps to travel and live in other countries.

A few weeks ago someone sent The Versatile Blogger award, and I have still to figure out how to affix it to a margin type area so it hangs out in the neighborhoods of facts and figures about this writer who’s up there in age, but has the writing voice of a 35-year old.

This week, of which Monday seems a 100 years ago, 2 of the #MNINB recommended me for a Liebster because for the month of  April MNINB challenge a goodly amount of writers scattered from Massachusetts to Malta (not really) connected, with a spirit of oepn welcome and we cheer each other on.

So thank you to  Susan Craig, http://bysusancraig.wordpress.com/ .  She’s a scientist with a background in neurobiology, and studied effect of Alzheimer’s disease proteins on brain cells for over 10 years.  She currently teaches college biology.  Her favorite thing to do is write books about strong, smart women and men who love and appreciate them.  Her blog reveals true stories, science material, fiction, inspiration, and you name it.  Lucky us.  Lucky me, I subscribe to her blog.

And also, another blogger nominated me during the same week of 100 years:

Thank you Kristi Carver, http://kristicarver.blogspot.com/2012/05/  Kristi is a writer, small business owner, and Registered Nurse.  My twin was a Registered Nurse, and believe you me, I felt safe with her in my life. Thanks Kristi.  When you visit her blog, you fall into a heavenly photo of a lake in Colorado, and all tension slips away.  Colorado beauty, plus aspiring author, who is a blueberry fanatic, wine enthusiast, and constant reader, and a memoir addict.  Be still my heart.

Now, I pay it forward and nominate up to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers, and let these nominees know they’ve come under the Liebster shadow by leaving a comment on on of their posts.  I added the Liebster image, so I’m okay ont hat.

My nominees are:

http://kofeart.wordpress.com/category/doodles/ – what can I say? When the world gets too lurchy, self-absorb, insane, I click on Kofeart’s site and her art enchants me.  I hope you like it too!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com/ I don’t know if he has 1,000 followers, but he was one of my original 7 devotees, and he’s special in my blogger’s heart; funny, current, aware, and enchanting.

 The blog & the book – are by Paul Waters from Northern Ireland, writes, makes radio & telly shows, blogs and footer about with social media. Get in touch if you’d like me to do it for you, either here or at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com .  It’s not a kangaroo, it’s a horse’s head, which might be from The Godfather. The pith helmet however, definitely used to sit on the head of Spike Milligan.

http://krpooler.com/feed/ (Memoir Writers Blog)I need all the information on Memoirs.  I don’t know if she’s widely blogged, so I added her, because I learn from people like this blogger.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake.html – okay, okay, the blog is about depression – but to a writer, artist, or whatever creative type, depression is a fantastic topic, and I am sure she heals herself by her work.  Her images are enchanting.  I adore her post.  What can I say, check it out!

http://swpulley.wordpress.com/ – Artist, writer, traveler, whimsy, E.B.-White-wit goes outer space, early member of CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters.com, incredible friend, encourager, and lives next town over.  His Uneasy Rider posts are terrific.  He’s the reason why I write better than I used to after my first book, and why I published (he helped-bless his saintly soul) You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and is just all in all an enchanting wit and fried of both myself and Bill and so many others.

So that’s it. Now they check out The Liebster Award, and sally forth.  Gratitude to all who labor! Smile.

 

New York Times Best Seller

A Mostly True Memoir - a must read

So, you are ambling along in the library, and you check into your books on hold. Did I mention, I’m a memoir addict?

Okay, okay, the author? Jenny Lawson, and she’s called “The Bloggess,” Yep, I  ordered a book based on the cover, and of course that it’s a memoir. A white rat who looks in need of dental work, wears a stunning black velvet cape, with a red  silk lining.  His rat feet look like a DSW size 10? He has a white ruffled tutu type collar, the kind used in Medieval days, which if you want to know seem just like yesterday.

Okay, okay, the author? She’s called “The   Bloggess,” and did I meet her in my Name is Not Bob Blog April   challenge, MNINB?  I’m Not Bob April Challenge (MNINB) caused a loose knot in the sky, a gnarled rotting elbow on a tree, to fall on my neck and pressure  stress liquids into my brain.

I don’t know where I discovered Jenny Lawson, but  Reader, I read this book while slammed with the process of April Challenged which Not Bob gave to us bloggers, and I laughed, and chuckled, and snuffled   and snorted at midnight, in the quiet ambiance of our 2-room pool house of   the high ceilings and spillage of computer material, books, whatever.

Okay, sorry for the hot dogging, but The Bloggess,  aka Jenny Lawson, wrote “A Mostly True Memoir,” and that works for   me. She had me on the rat cover. I love the abandoned warrens of her mind,   picture Kafka-toned jokes as her thoughts trot ahead of us readers, twisting,   turning, always into belly laughing and chortles. She is snarky in deed, and   she got me on “folded vagina,” and claimed my heart and soul when I   discovered she had a Pug, Barnaby Jones.

The book is filled with huge metal chickens,   small creatures of the stuffed kind (her father was a crazy Taxidermist).

Reader, what is one to do with chapter titles   like, “Stabbed by Chicken,” “Hairless Rats Free for Kids   Only,” and an enchanting view of detachment from a bizarro childhood,  and interstitial laughter and views of a marriage with an wonderfully funny  man.

I read the first few pages and thought, maybe   I’m too old for this contemporary writing, but when I finished this book,   Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson’s writing claimed me.

My brother–in-law called me “The   Bro-ess,” and now I, the Broess, am on the devotee path of one Bloggess.   Kudos to all who write

Okay Reader, I’m going to jump right in.  http://hereismars.wordpress.com/  Mars recommended me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  \

I thanked her and waited in silence for an email to come over the horizon saying, “You’ve won our Versatile Blogger Award.”  It doesn’t work that way.

My them for the April Challenge, MNINB, “It doesn’t work that way.”

So today, I am going to try to do several things at once.  I am a superb multitasker, but whiz around so, I fall off the planet on a daily basis.  My call to action comes at the end.  First the award.

pathway to knowledge, wonder and humility

Thank you Mars, dear tender-aged Mars whose blithe spirit shines through and captures the poetic tendrils of my heart.   http://hereismars.wordpress.com/ (repeated it).  Select 15 bloggers I’ve recently discovered or have been following regularly.  I nominate the blogs below for the versatile blogger award. (Advice:  Google it, and following the instructions.)

http://swpulley.wordpress.com, long time friend, writer, lived in Bolivia and Chile 30 years, early member and continuing member of CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseFor Writers, and just one who you can roll around a floor laughing.

http://bahaithought.blogspot.com/

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/02/04/rainn-wilson-soulpancake/, I adore Soul Pancake, and use it in my writing classes at times.  I also gave the book Soul Pancake to my granddaughter.

http://www.bendsintheroad.com/  I have connected with blogger and will do online interview!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com      Northern Ireland, author and enchanting commentator; have been following him since he found me – how I don’t know.  I think I had 7 followers then.

http://elenagorokhova.com/  Author of Mountain of Crumbs, on Goodreads, Russian heritage. I lived in Ukraine and Belarus, spent some time in Moscow and Siberia, follow her blog on Goodreads.

http://creativityontheloose.com/   new; intriguing; she was in a class of mine

http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/   a  new, refreshing blog about farm life, and well written.  Sagas, small s really about lambs being born, lamb bloat, the birds; all have names, and the blogger’s pieces undo the knot in the back of my neck from my social media strain.

http://kofegeek.wordpress.com/   Kofegeek is a silly geometer, a lover of coffee and fresh carrot

http://catewrites.wordpress.com/feed/   An exquisite young writer, working on her first novel – we meet once a week and share our writing through prompts!

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-cat-boys-are-tree-huggers.html

friend, who is a scientist, a Baha’i and who writes enchanting, whimsical pieces.

http://livingbackstreet.blogspot.com, a very talented artists.  She had a stroke and since then she’s been producing the paintings you will see on her website.

http://holessence.wordpress.com/ one of the first bloggers to reach out at beginning of our MNINB April challenge, generous in spirit and knowledge

http://bridgetasher.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

terrifically informative re writing

http://debbieohi.com/home/atom.xml  I love her art

Okay this is for the lovely Mars – 7 things about myself

1.  I am 73, but have the writing voice of a 35 year old;p spunky, funny, deep, spiritual, whatever.

2.  I am a twin; fraternal, she died a few years ago.

3.  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith – since 1966 – was Catholic from Boston

4.  I am a pug dog devotee

5.  I have lived in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Minsk, Belarus, spent time at Lake Baikal in Siberia, looked across borders to Mongolia, stared at the biggest fattest head of Lenin in Ulan Ude, Siberia, and crawled across railroad tracks and clung to barely the inside of a train in Eastern Ukraine, and last I road on a bus with our interpreter who thought beings from Mars would soon pop up, and where the bus driver stopped the bus, and said about the quacking goose in our midst, “Off with his head,” but of course, the goose lived, and we did too.

6.  I am a memoir addict, and started reading 4 books a day when I was 7; since then, my addiction has grown.

7.  I teach several writing workshops, one of which to homeless women, and they rock.

aargh

I definitely am a communications maven, the drawback being, I wasn’t savvy about social media management tools.  Last night, or night before, I read a whole page describing social media, but it would not enter my brain.  I think the Blog is my favorite (Psst, don’t tell the others). I’ve also added many blogs to follow, conquered LinkedIn, decided against shrinking my URL now, and am considering the blogs mentioned in MNINB, April 21.  I think I’m up to date, theory only.  I have to assimilate.

This morning I awakened thinking about Tweeting, Twittering, you catch my drift.

Before I started my blog, I communicated with a couple of hundred people around the world.  It helps to move a lot.  Al, my recent graduated from marketing at Yale, with his MBA, said, “You have to have a blog.”  I did.  I was grateful to my 2-3 followers; bless their stalwart qualities.

I blogged, FB’d, emailed everyone about everything.  I’ve written 2 books and can promote them well.  I teach writing, so there you go, more computer time.  I like FB.  I didn’t think Twitter could be used for ordinary computers.  I thought it was for cell phones, the kind of cellies my young friends carry, i.e., sleek black, red, buttons, icons, push here, push there.  I felt Twitter was the scoop-up-words type of thing, words from the top of my head.  I like to go deeper.  Too brief, too shallow, too Valley Girl almost.

LinkedIn repelled me.  I grew up in a family that regarded their status proudly. Boston was glutted with those families who know their social divides.  I didn’t retain these traditions.

So I thought, Linked-in-schminked-in.

Now, I’m a Twitterer, a FBer, definitely a blogger, an email, and a Yenta of sorts locally for people who look for work, relationships, just anything.  A new friend, in from India, said I’m like a local Google, except with a small g.

I write because I must.  I write to weave humor, pain, suffering, and I write about anything, from sow bugs and sorry gnats to concepts of racial justice, oneness,  and I glut Goodreads with my I’ve read or to read type of thing.  I subscribe to Powell’s on line, Book browse, locally, and on.

I am like an untrained Dalmatian.  I bound into life.  But, a concern I have, throwing aside professional need, is Twitter.

I wonder what sociologists will make of our current culture.  We have invisible lace webs over our heads that cartoon out – “didja eat,” “how bout them Dodgers,” and every other light through, phrase or sentence that settles tentatively on our brains.

What does this say indicate about attention span in the future?

I’m light, I’m funny, and I love whimsy and playing with words.  We do a lot of that on CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters, and I guffaw on the floor over our hilarious exchanges.  But, I wonder, if we just go to a restaurant, casual, Marie Calender’s, Denny’s, Cocos, and see kids to adults to seniors.  A lot of heads are bent over their cell phones tweeting.

What about social skills?

We live in a society that is tremendously immediate.  Instant news.  “You heard it first at Blah Blah News.”  I can multitask without a blink of an eyelash.  But, can I sit down and study things, reflect at great length.  At this point in our world, is the speed of light winning, and reflection of the light losing?

I want quality.  I’m naturally speedy and can type rapidly.  But I want depth too.  It seems in the world today we inhale.  We inhale words, sounds, pressures, work, you name it.

A Hopi prophecy said, “When the world speeds up, slow down.”

That said.  I throw myself into my day and am enormously busy, but my relationships are fun and solid, and we form friendships in our writing circles, in my Baha’i life.

Sure, I’d like to be recognized; what writer wouldn’t.  But life is more than that.  I tell my students, we are reaching a time on the planet where arts should be everywhere, an Arts Rising type of thing.  The world is so busy, so full, why can’t we soar locally, forget the star system, a Kingdom of Names type of thing.  It’s all about bringing life and love and creativity to one another.  We don’t always need a stage.

I’d love and welcome other comments.  These are mine at the end of a busy Sunday.

Brandi’s prompts today or yesterday from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CHPercolator/ and my response today:

Tell us why you became a part of this fabulous league of writers!
2. “According to the hard-hitting journalism of cosmos…”
3. Of all the skeletons in my closet, you are my favorite.

List your personal comfort foods, bonus points  if you tell us why each one is comforting.

————————————————————————————————————

One day, when the earth was young, and bubbling, in a cute kind of primordial way, I was sitting, driving, thinking, wondering, if I were anorexic and a fiction writer, could I, just possibly, write about all the skeletons in my closet and how I admired their paucity of flesh.
Exactly dear reader. They had no flesh.

Then I mulled over which type of comfort food I was in the mood to eat.  I couldn’t decide on either bowlS of Hagen Das vanilla ice cream with buckets of Hersey syrup or my old standby; that balled-up-in-a-fist peanut butter and jam sandwich on wheat if you please, but a friend, a writer from CHPercolator sent me an
email encouraging me. He encourages well, and to all I note.

Soooo, long story short, I had just finished several advanced writing classes with Jack Grapes,http://jackgrapes.com/grapes_approach.php –  superb writing workshop leader, and I had blasted out of the gate of Write Like You Talk, into Write Like You Sing, Absence of Field, Teeth and Mouth writing (feel your mouth and teeth going over syllables and words you produce), Write Like You Sing, (think Martin Luther King, or Dickens, “It was the best of times, the worst of times…”) literary, heavy on the multisyllabic, so reader, you catch my drift. Are you with me? (Straight talk) and I thought  why not try CHPercolatorCoffeehouseforwriters, and the rest is history. Two years later, enter into my crooked pathways of a brain, a book, You Carry the Heavy Stuff – (Lulu, Amazon, my house), a combination of writing styles, homage to Oakley Hall, Jack Grapes, and stuff from their workshops, plus my responses
to CHPerc prompts.

The lesson: A little prompt goes a long way.

So how do you feel about prompts?  Writing Workshops?  Do they help?

P.S. Open House to my blog, no visitor turned away, sign up, and we’ll dance together among the words.

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

stunning, epid, riventing

"The Orphan Master's Son is a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption and casual cruelty..."

The Orphan Master’s Son is a major book; a major read. It is epic; almost an oratorio, notes of which float over incredible deprivation, struggle, and an exceedingly oppressive society. . I could not put it down. Someone once asked, “Why do you read such books as this? My answer for that day as “If we believe mankind is one, i.e., we are one people, one planet, and we know of peoples’ horrendous suffering,” then we cannot be silent.  I must speak about it even if only in a book review.

This novel pulls from the reader gasps of horror, Adam Johnson’s novel relentlessly pursues a systolic drive to the center of the North Korean world  whose outer shell is constructed of a rigid totalitarianism, and whose  inner core reveals an absolute and moribund corruption.  Its core is rotten. Yet, slivers of nobility, slivers of courage from different individuals emerge.

One critic said, “This is not the real North Korea.”   Perhaps not.  However, books are appearing on the landscape, one of which is the Aquariums of Pyongyang  verify an appalling state of society, and a nightmarish existence in North Korea’s prison camps,  and also in the general society.  We live on a planet where forces of light and darkness lick each others shadows. If we cannot speak for the silent ones, what can we do?

I feel an awe regarding Adam Johnson’s novel .  I believe this novel goes far beyond Pulitzer awards. It is through fiction such as this that truth shines.

Adam Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University.  His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House, Granta, and Playboy, as well as The Best american Short Stories.  His other works include Emporium, a short story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us.

The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I guess I always give 5 stars to memoirs. I am a memoir addict, but I also write the personal essay and some fiction and teach creative writing. Authenticity and voice are aspects of good memoir writing.

I do not belong to that group of people who think memoir is a solipsistic form. The Rules of Inheritance, Claire Bidwell Smith, is a worthy read. Everyone’s story is the same but different, as is loss and sadness. It is honest, poignant, poetic, and well crafted. She’s not a victim, but portrays true loss and then gradual emergence into finding her truer self. I recommend!

View all my reviews

1. Please tell us about you the person and the author:

Glad that’s worded that way, because above all we are all persons first. In 1990 I started publishing personal and reflective essays in various journals. A writer friend from Israel had recommended me and many other yet to be published writers to write for a particular publication in Australia/New Zealand. This journal was globally distributed. When my friend suggested I submit some of my stuff, I thought, “Is that stuff under the bed collecting dust balls?” But in 1992 I was married to my wonderful husband Bill and we were living in Ukraine, in the City of Dnepropetrovsk, and this magazine published an essay about our lives in Ukraine.

I’m from Boston, born in Boston, and I remember blackout curtains from World War II on our windows and peeing in the dark. I remember the 50s and being a Catholic girl and going to a public high school. I had no writing inclination, but read voraciously from six years on. A huge influence was my mom who became a major alcoholic, but was a lover of books and also taught Latvian women to speak and read English when they came to our little brown rented house on Wren Street, and they spoke of the Iron Curtain, and their husbands lost behind this curtain. I remember thinking in images of a giant iron shower curtain spread across a vast land.

I grew up in a stratified society, where people drew lines about religious affiliations, class position, race, difference. I was a child in the 40s, a young girl in the 50s and was Catholic. In my twenties, I drove to California after the Cuban crisis, drove out by myself. My mother had died; my father remarried; my twin was somewhere; the family was dysfunctional and scattered. My older brother and sister weren’t around. I was a legal secretary and outwardly gutsy but inwardly a wimp.

I discovered the Baha’i Faith at 27, and felt as if I stepped out of a black and white photograph into the land of color. I stopped drinking, even though I hadn’t yet connected the dots of alcoholism sitting in my family’s history box for generations. I immediately became aware of the oneness of humanity, and my old stereotypical views fell off me like corrugated cardboard. Still, until I die, I must be aware of prejudice and how it is inhaled by a baby when born. My life is incredibly full –I teach writing to homeless women and others. I give a lot of free workshops. I guess you could say my husband and I are activists as we totally believe in service to the community at large. I used to be fearful but didn’t show it, and I faced life and have crawled over railroad tracks in Donetsk and been in Ukraine during the Russian coup and written a book about it. I’ve been to Siberia, and I have a son Nicholas who is married and a granddaughter. One last thing: I jump out of airplanes to say hello to Pug Dogs even if they are only dark little dots on the ground. That’s sounds very year-booky.

Mostly I totally believe in the splendor of the human condition, and am horrified by the meanness of our age, but have tremendous hopes for the future. I believe one becomes mystical by embracing the grit of one’s time and that we should be anxiously concerned about the needs of our age. I am the last of my siblings, my twin having died a few years ago. I’ve survived heart surgeries, blah, blah, blah, and walk an hour a day; sound like a gadabout and light up like a pinball machine when celebrating, reading, writing, a good book, justice, being a solace to someone else, being a source of light and laughter.

2. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

In 1980, when I got a chance to go back to college, I wanted to learn writing.

3. Did you take any classes or go to school to learn to write, or did it just come naturally

No. Writing letters came naturally, but I had no idea whether studying writing would ruin my fledgling writing or not. I went to UC Irvine and enrolled as a junior at 42 as a single mom, fresh from what felt like 100 years of work as a legal secretary. I majored in English as I read voraciously and thought that the most practical. I had no dreams of becoming an attorney. I took a summer class and wrote a story about a blue dye eviscerating the earth from a jeans factory and a dog named Lance I think. I didn’t have the knowhow or the courage to have dialogue. There was lance, the blue dye, the inhabitants of earth leaving the planet, and the owner of lance, a woman who died.
My first writing teacher said, “Take every writing course this school has to offer.”

I took expository writing in the second quarter and the TA said “Take every writing course this school has to offer,” because I wrote a piece about who I was after reading an excerpt of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. Reader her talk about depression, writing and planting flowers caused me to think, I can do this. I remember feeling electrified, not hugely, but nevertheless animated.

I then took Beginning Fiction with Oakley Hall, and I was nervous. He has written a book on the novel; was co-head of the UCI Writing Program, and is well respected. He went to Iowa I think. I was nervous until I looked under the large square table where we all assembled, and I saw faded purple Rit died socks, and then looked up into his broad face, and kind eyes, and his hair looked like yarn. He taught how to show, how to be the camera eye, how to use strong verbs, and I flourished.

I then went on to take an advanced writing class with the other co-head who didn’t like older women, but thought I was a very good writer. He tried to discourage me, and I think he did so, because he didn’t make it in the way he expected. It was rough, but I hung in.

Then I took journalism with a very good Journalist who had been nationally known, and he said, “You are a good writer, but what the hell are you trying to say.” I also took courses after graduating as part of teacher training in teaching secondary writing, and Writing the Natural Way. I use those methods when I teach workshops.

I also took from the Pied Piper of Workshop Leaders, Jack Grapes in Los Angeles who is a method writing teacher, and I took his beginning workshop. Then I waited 10 years, took his advanced courses, and around 2003 I was bursting through sound barriers. . I have written 2 books: Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You carry the Heavy Stuff, the most recent.

I took a UCLA class too and we were not allowed to praise or criticize anyone’s writings, no comments, but the instructor told me I was very good. So yes, I took classes and really learned method, and craft of showing, use strong verbs, and still read voraciously.

4. Please tell us about your book and how did you come up with the idea for it.

As I mentioned I had a previous book, and the 2nd edition has pictures. Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, about our 3 year period before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a personal view, a behind the scenes sideways type of thing – personal, funny, sad, hard, and spiritual.

I joined CHPercolator Coffeehouse for writers because my friend Steve kept encouraging me. We all give prompts to write about at periodic intervals and thus, writers from around the globe write or not write every day.

After 2 years, I looked at my previous writing and the CHPerc bundle, and thought “It’s time to do another book.” It’s called You Carry the Heavy Stuff and has a street sign that says, “It’s all grist for the Mill, been there, done that, what’s next,” with a pug’s back to the reader and a tall thin red-haired lady with an old leather type valise, inky papers sticking out of it, and she’s wearing red high top sneakers. That’s my persona. I have used “It’s all grist for the mill” so much; people will soon begin to scream.

I had a mother in law who was the size of a small tree trunk and didn’t take noth’in from no one and we lived with her after we came back from Russia because we didn’t think it was wise for her to live alone. When I first met her, Bill and I were packing up our bags to drive away, and she and I were loading stuff at an open trunk, when this low growly voice (hers) said to me, “You carry the heavy stuff for him.” So I wrote a piece about her.

Anna was her name, and Italian momma was her game. I both laughed inwardly and groaned. I wasn’t insulted. Had I been 20, I’d have run away. This book is a series of poetry and prose about who I was, am; life in an office cubicle; life in middle school and a world view taking shape, life after 9/11; essays on prejudice, which makes my African-American friends cry, and essays on spirituality and eating falafel at the Mercatz (shopping area top of Haifa hills) in Israel. I also talk lightly and deeply about social conditions, Baghdad, being a twin, having a twin die, and packing for the future. All of my pieces reflect varied writing styles.

A fellow writer wrote “You Carry the Heavy Stuff reveals an author who engages life with grit, honesty and good humor. Bradley-DeTally rests thoughtfully at a quiet stream to make serene observations, and then she’s up and away again to fight her good fight with a Tally HO! A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.”

I was going to call the book Writing on the Fly, and I had everything in it: fiction, surrealism, poetry, short stories, and then I trimmed it down and a friend said, “Writing on the Fly is overused.” So I had a brief contest where I promised a few select friends a Starbucks coffee card if they voted on a selection of about 5 titles. You Carry the Heavy Stuff carried the day.

I don’t outline. Let me repeat that I don’t outline. I free write and then I tweak, tweak, tweak. I am pretty spontaneous and word crazy some friends might add.

5. Which of your characters were your favorite and why?

My favorite characters are pugs and the people in Children of the Stolen Ones, a poem I hope which gives honor to my brothers and sisters of African heritage.

6. What traits and characteristics did you give some of your characters to make them memorable? Courage, nobility and the human condition is a sideways view.

7. Does your book have any important themes or lessons you wanted to convey?

Well, it’s memoir-ish so the traits would be pissy, funny, ballsy, outspoken, socially concerned, deeply spiritual, thrown in with the theme of global citizenship and the inhumanity of man and the humanity of man (generic man of course).

My themes speak of the wonders and need for oneness; the need to throw prejudice off the planet, the nobility of the anonymous and the suffering among us, the struggle and beauty of the dying cancer patients, the humanity of others, and the downright wonders of slinging around language like hash.

8. What was the road to publication like? Was it turbulent or fairly easy?

I am too old to look for an agent, and have a small following – think larger than a beer truck but smaller than the Coliseum in LA so my friend Steve said “Publish through Lulu.” He has done so with several witty books. Reader it was hell, pure unadulterated hell. Very Kafkaesque and tortuous until I finally gave in and bought a Lulu package, and then it was a miracle. Price wise it’s the best so far, but I’m not an enchanted devotee. One gets lost in Lulu like getting lost in the Hotel California, “It’s a lovely place….but you can’t get out …. Lost in the Hotel California.The biggest thing about a book is not thinking about writing one, not thinking about publishing, but marketing after it’s done. My advice is take it step my step and “follow the force” so to speak.

9. Please tell a reader what they should know about your book before the purchase them.

It’s creative non-fiction, spunky, funny, shows a variety of writing styles, almost a book of prompts plus points of view as an extra added package! It’s 14.96 (the extra penny is the hell part.) Also there’s a download – e book type of thing. (You Carry The Heavy Stuff) http://stores.lulu.com/sorrygnat and http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Heavy-Stuff
Esther-Bradley-DeTally. I recommend the Lulu site because you can read some of the pages. I also have some I can mail.

10. Words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

Read, read, read, read, write, journal, write, never give up; take courses, watch, listen learn, imitate, and trust the process.

estherbill@gmail.com http://sorrygnat. Word press. com blog

11. What current projects are you working on?

I am writing a book about someone with deleted memory; in interview process and at the beginning right now. I also teach the writing process, currently with homeless women, and their volunteers, and under the literacy umbrella of local libraries, plus give individual sessions and have writing groups.

11. What do you want your legacy to be- to have left the world showing worlds of unity, love and laughter, and to be a point of light in the dark dark nights of the soul, and to laugh and yuk about recipes, ham sandwiches and to promote the oneness of mankind, but to write, and know the power of words, the love of them, their ordinariness and majesty and not to worry about publishing, but think of the journey itself.

I wish for a world where everyone is a trust of the whole.

Esther’s ten favorites.

Favorite time of day?

First cup of coffee brought to me in bed by wonderful husband of 25 years.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream and dark, thick and creamy hot fudge sauce.

Teacher – Miss Halloran, in book; changed my world view from neighborhood to vast history and dimensions and the dangers of war within a 5 minute read of giant poster on her wall.

Social networking site; Facebook

Favorite city: Pasadena

Music – Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

Color: the rainbow

Pastime: drinking coffee, and talking about real stuff with friends

Book: Oh my the over 600 on Goodreads, but if you don’t have time, Gleanings by Baha’u’llah, and An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum, and, and

‘Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall my loved ones.’-Baha’u’llah

You Carry the Heavy Stuff

Nov 07, 2010 10:31am

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10964693-the-marriage-plot” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”The Marriage Plot” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1328736940m/10964693.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10964693-the-marriage-plot”>The Marriage Plot</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1467.Jeffrey_Eugenides”>Jeffrey Eugenides</a><br/> My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/286125314″>3 of 5 stars

What did I not think!  Tatting on the head of a pin.  Truth is somewhere.  Shades of Frank Lentriccia’s Lit Crit class in the 1980s, rolling around with words like mimesis, blah. another professor, equally dishing out words which bounced off my dense forehead, used to utter the word “Hegel,” and each time he did so, his heels would rise from the floor and he’d be on tiptoe – up on the Heg, down on the el. Alternate universes, this one of words beginning and ending, and what the hey-ego and the turn of good phrases, but characters empty.  In one sense, it reflects ennui and delusions of the sad.  It fits in to the 1980’s when I studied this stuff and thought this is like a Papal Hierarchy, and the Cardinals, wearing red silk and satin of course, are strutting as literary critics.  i believe in the concept of literary theory, and the best book on that subject was the Purpose of Physical Being, John Hatcher, but I started this book last night.  Back to the 80s; but credit is due to the author.  However, how could so many applaud a book for such a narrow audience?  Overdone emptiness, and i am being casual with my descriptions, perhaps not specific enough.  I would give it a 3 because the author is exceedingly intelligent, highly literate, but I could not finish it.

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

First, gratitude for the hard work on behalf of Altadena Library and the Friends of the Library for making these workshops possible.   Okay boys and girls, or girls and boys, we didn’t get to a couple of other exercises, so as I promised, here they are:

1. Name your writing after this place or situation:  In the Dean’s Office, Talking to My Boss, At Lunch with My Mother-in-Law, On the Bus Going to Work, In the Dentist’s Chair, Cleaning My Room, The Job Interview, or whatever comes to mind.  It’s your mind reader – go for it!

Write a dialogue in which an annoyingly powerful person speaks the way he or she normally does.  For internal dialogue, after several lines of this person’s dialogue, say to yourself in the form of a tired cliche or some slang you use, what you really think – consider these:  Your mother eats kitty litter, or praise the Lord and pass the Butter or Walk with me Jesus, or sticks and stones may break my bones, or are you with me; how bout them Dodgers, you can’t please everyone, or Lucy and Ethel in the Chocolate Line, or Gal, don’t call me Gal, or Boy, don’t call me Boy, or job schmob, I’m out of here!

2. Think of something you believe in/wish for. Write 5 or more passages, start with same line, I believe in running free and fast, or I have a wish to swim in the ocean, or If I could talk with my mother for just one moment more.

After you have written the passages, end by repeating the one repeated lines 3 times in a row. (From Creative Writing DeMystified, Bender, p. 31)

Here’s one we did in the 90s at Jamestown Community College’s the Courage to Write Workshop:

3. Suddenly there is a knock at your door.  A trusted friend enters to warn you that the Dream Police will arrive in 20 minutes.  Everything, everything in your life that you have not written down will evaporate upon their arrival.  You have a short time –twenty minutes—to preserve what is most precious in your life, what has formed you, what sustains you.  Whatever you forget, whatever you have no time to record, will disappear.  Everything you want must be acknowledged in its particularity.  Everything, to be saved, must be named.  Not trees, but oak.  Not animal, but wolf.  Not people, but Alicia.  As in reality, what has no name, no specificity vanishes.

We are what matters to us.  Our identity materializes through images, memories, events and through things.  In the above exercise we select what is essential us, what has formed u, what we cannot live without, this as often includes grief, losses and failures as it does joy and triumph.

Some time after, look at this list; put it aside, and then later, examine it.  Imagine you are an anthropologist who has unearthed this list of “possessions” that once belonged to some “unknown” person. Write a portrait fleshing out that person, speculating on his or her character and life.

 

FINALLY, some books which you can get from a library:  mine – Without a Net: A Sojourn in Russia, and You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-DeTally.  If local, i have some.  If not, Lulu for You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Amazon too.

Creative Writing DeMYSTiFieDm Sheila Bender (I used this).  Soul Pancake Chew On Life’s Big Quesitons, Wilson, Gundry, Lucina, Mogharab(Rainn Wilson from the Office, one of the authors, and the GRAPhics are fabulous)

I loved Spunk & Bite also.  Read everything, fiction, non-fiction.

Journals – Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers,

Online writing group:  CHPercolatorCoffeeHouse for Writers (Yahoo)

I have only touched the surface.  Stay tuned and happy writing.  Esther

 

Siobhan Fallon writes well, eloquently and her prose and content are straight arrows to the heart. I don’t know how many books have been written from her point of view, but these stories, with exceedingly diverse points of view, points of view that bring you inside the characters’ soul, are just in time for the rest of the world to view.

Fort Hood.  Women Left Behind.  Heart in throat kind of stuff.  Factual insights into life at Fort Hood.  She brings the sound of loneliness and waiting to the page in a visual way.  Agony, waiting, lives upended, lives united.  These are the stories this reader feels everyone should read.  What a tribute to all who serve and all who wait.

The Barbarian Nurseries: A NovelThe Barbarian Nurseries: A Novel by Héctor Tobar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delicious, fantastic, delicate, strong prose, and author nails a view of life from combinations of views. A Mexican immigrant maid and a clueless, but well meaning family, said family totally unaware of the lives around them, or for that matter, each other.

His writing is fantastic. A profound book which needs to be inhaled by all. I inhaled it, yes I did. I am now going to look for Hector Tobar’s other books – Translation Nation and the Tattooed Soldier. Mr. Tobar is a writer for the Los Angeles Times, is a Pulitzer prize willing journalist and a novelist. Writers would “kill” for his phrases – Barbarian Nurseries is a must read!

View all my reviews

July 21, 2011

CHPerc prompts

“Today should be my wedding day,” said Annie Mae Clare McDougall Habersham as they moved her out of her trailer park, because newspapers in the back entry way were stacked to the ceiling, and I, her 70ish, low on the ish cousin, shirttail cousin at that, was the only lone female within my clan brave enough to enter the sagging trailer on a hot July day, humidity up to sweat and think “Hell,” and to prepare to breathe through the mouth, avoiding unwarranted odors from the decaying tin can of a trailer, collapsing before my very eyes.

I squeeze sideways, even though people call me skinny, I still have to squeeze sideways to make it through the newspaper filled back entryway, which is book marked on the opposite side by those familiar yellow National Geographic’s that people saved thinking, these will be a treasure later.

That’s what it’s all about, saving, hoarding, hoping something for nothing, later, in the dusty future where a ship will come in, a lottery ticket will pay off, Google will reward the younger in our generation for some unknown embryo of an idea, to be planted in everyone’s need section of their brain. We have all become like raw open throated baby birds I think as my nose begins to reject a sour odor, and I move towards what once was an elegantly curved mahogany and soft light green velvet couch, said couch, looking like a Keinholtz replica, with stuffing coming out of its chest instead of Keinholtz’s original piece which portrayed squirrels nesting on a rotted-out breast, to a horrified crowd at the LA Museum on Mid-Wilshire in the mid 60s.

“Today should be my wedding day,” thrums against my brain, quiet cloud like thoughts, pure fluffy white, floating over chaos of broken lamps, hidden treasures of pearl handle knives and a peer or pier mirror tall, tilted against a wall in the corner, ornate gold frame, from floor to ceiling, this mirror abandoned before it was sold to make a lot of money for Annie’s future abundance.

Annie, Annie, Annie. If I were she, I would have changed my last name. What a curse to be named “Habersham,” so Dickensian in its doom, its curse of the unmarried, a curse which makes no sense in these days at the turn of a new century, the 2000s. We don’t worry about being married, not married. We worry about food, prices, greed, and think of the Wall Street Boys bowling with our brains and hearts, and totally removed from what’s really happening here on Hensworth Street in Lake Forest Park.

We are a long way from the real world, and my purpose here is to make sense and get Annie out of her mess. She doesn’t think mess. Annie’s brain is back in the day in 1938 when her to-be husband was cavorting on the sands of Cape Cod, as he ran along side the ocean. He had just turned his head to shout to Annie, a good looking 20 year old with long chestnut hair, long legs, an arched nose, and the moment was truly golden. Golden except for the fact he didn’t see the giant horseshoe crab in front of him and he fell and its long tail pierced his heart.

He was a bleeder, and he didn’t make it through the night. Annie was devastated and simply not right for the rest of her life.

So here I am now, the only practical one in the family whose tree goes back to Habersham and Dickens, and I am here to muck out, and get her into a rest home, and sooth the community association who is afraid that rats are cavorting all over the trailer park.

I see her, slumped over in an old tattered maroon (they don’t use that color any more) Morris chair which is spotted and its wooden slatted frame is scarred from dog scratches. Her dog Pip sits whimpering at her side. Small, runty dog, small slivered woman, and the day we move this shattered bone and mind of an old lady, unnoticed except for the horror of her hoarding, I think, that’s it. She’s the next subject of my next book.

And then, I pull out my cell phone, dial, “We Clean Up Anything,” pick up Pip, who gives a feeble pug cough, tell Annie, “We’ll have you under 800 thread count sheets by tonight,” and call my husband who will drive her to the hospital, and think, “It’s all grist for the mill.”

Did I mention the LA Times had just printed a photo of an old cane chair on top of a junk pile, with its bottom part threaded out, reminiscent of the Pope’s Chair, verifying he was a guy, as mentioned in that lovely book Pope Joan?

Truth is so delightful when turned into fiction. Writer’s block is over.

MudboundMudbound by Hillary Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just reread it as I suggested our book group do so too. Also one librarian wants me to be part of a discussion (an honor); this is a fantastic book; the themes, the authenticity, her writing is fabulous and I was so deeply immersed in this book; wonderful; i wish Hillary Jordan tremendous sucess!

The Legend of The Villa Della Luna

graphics, recipes and prose astound

Look, it’s a Tuesday, just after New Years, an on the run food; sticks to the roof of your mouth and spinal column; no folding, mutilating, stamping, stapling; just throw out 2 slices on whatever, even your knee if you must, grab a knife – slop, spread, seal together, and fist it towards your mouth.

That was before writing workshop, after a walk cut short because stuff calls, and then writing workshop. There’s a book I want to chat about, The Legend of The Villa della Luna which is a book referred to as “The sequel to the Secrets of Pistoulet.

I met this book when i worked for a friend Loretta in Jamestown, western New York, in 1996 or so when she created Literary Tea, an African-American writers (mostly women I think bookstore) and a restaurant. Suffice it to say, her chocolate cake won awards, and the crowed of Lit Tea people all gained 10 pounds, and her place became a hub of great activity.

This book appeared, and I casully opened expecting little, and I gaasped; its a combination of incredible graphics (think Griffin and Sabine) and dear messages and recipes. I sold that book a million times, but never bought one for myself. Last year I was thinking about it, emailed Loretta who is in New Mexico now, for the title. I found The Legend on Amazon, book marked it, forgot about it, until this Christmas when I was so thoughtfully gifted with an Amazon card.

I have the book; it’s amazing, and the part i like is a reference to a tear bottle; won’t say anything else, but I took it to workshop, and we used it for prompts; wonderful. ISBN 1-55670-628-6.

I’m home, dropped off a ton of books at library; picked up reading in Chinese or something like that and a few other things; am gazing to my left at my Port-a-Pug, Christmas gift from a friend, and think, i hear the familiar ding of the microwave; time for dinner and crashing. Nothing earth shattering, but just a hello and my day; great writing from the group today!

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness” border=”0″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SRUk8vHbL._SX106_.jpg” /></a><a href=”Forces” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time”>Forces”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time”>Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness</a> by <a href=”Hooper” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975096.Hooper_C_Dunbar”>Hooper”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975096.Hooper_C_Dunbar”>Hooper C. Dunbar</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”5″ _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/133887663″>5″>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/133887663″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
This book is exceedingly profound.  It speaks in highly readable and gracious prose, of the condition of the world today, and the dramatic changes taking place.  He addresses the visible deterioration in so many fundamental processes and instittions (financial, political and climage change and energy, and social fabric of society.  He gives his readers an enlivening clear upsurge in knowledge, reflects concern for human rights and speaks of gtechnologies that bring people together.  From the back of the book, “These energies are spiritual in nature and result from Mr. Dunbar’s membership and deep commitment to the Baha’i Faith and its founder, Baha’u’llah (a title meaning the Glory of God). Mr. Dunbar shows how processes creating a new divine civilization have arisen, are arising, and he also speaks of the negative forces which have arisen to resist this divine purpose.  He examines the character of the spiritual forces as set out in the writings of the Guardian of the Faith, and the first part of the book considers the terms, ‘force,’ ‘energy’ and ‘power.’  The second part of the book comprises a selection of quotations drawn from the writings of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Cause and many are published within this volume for the first time and arrnage chronologically so readers may consider the ideas in their original context.
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<br/>5 stars doesn’t do it, but that as high as the rating would go.
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<a href=”View” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View”>http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1267801442m/5704912.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light”>Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2549270.Anne_Morrison_Welsh”>Anne Morrison Welsh</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/124189757″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
A friend returned from her summer at Chautauqua.  She grew up there as a child, and has spent most summers, if not all, of her life at Chautauqua. She said over dinner, “You must read this,” and it was Held in the Ligh, Norman Morrison’s sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing.  The book is profound.  Norman Morrison’s were startling, but left this reader wondering, “did he stop a nuclear war,” and the results of his actions reverberate through time.  His wife writes with courage and empathy, and deals with compassionate but clearly observed love. The meaning of this man’s death had an astrounding impact on the Vietnamese, and of course his beloved family.  One cannot judge the act, as it is impossible.  What the pages reveal is the dilemma of a soul on a war torn planet, and his torment of the rapaciousness of war and its attendant evils.  A must read.  I have reference for his wife, his family, and him.
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<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Mentor” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1273513481m/7840064.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor”>Mentor</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/297212.Tom_Grimes”>Tom Grimes</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/121643444″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Oh  Oh, Oh!  I liked this book so much! No, make it loved the book.  I got a Borders’ gift card and hotfooted down the street.  This book called out to me, and the writing is superb.  Tom Grimes takes the reader down the path of working in construction, to waiter, to this, to that; and his writing career unfolds.  He meets Frank Conroy, and this book is valuable for writing, but also the writing process and the struggle and the joy, and I felt as if I were folded within the words and became one with the page.  I couldn’t put it down.  Insightful, dear, honest, revealing, educational, terrific.
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Girl in TranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews »

CaucasiaCaucasia by Danzy Senna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Danzy Senna is an incredible writer; her prose is very tight and descriptive involved with motion, either external or internal. The subject matter is profound, and I heard her read a week or so ago at the California Pacific Modern Art Museum – they have a reader’s series. She was a Stanford undergradute and a UCIrvine MFA student; their program is excellent, and her craft is top notch and her subject race, so profoundly handled, all dimensions were fabulous. I also read her other book Where Did You Sleep Last night; very good; as I said, her writing is incredible. This is a must read from my point of view. Boy, do I wish her well!

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Why I like wonderfully written books, such as Tatjana Soli’s The Lotus Eaters (St. Martin’s Press)

From The Lotus Eaters, a novel, by Tatjana Soli

“They drove the empty, hacked roads, dust flying like a long sail of sheer red silk behind them, hanging suspended in the coppery sky. (p. 51)

This is what happened when one left one’s home—pieces of oneself scattered all over the world, no one place every completely satisfied, always a nostalgia for the place left behind. Pieces of her in Vietnam, some in this place of bone. She brought the letter to her nose. The smell of Vietnam: a mix of jungle and wetness and spices and rot. A smell she hadn’t realized she missed. P. 277”

The Lotus EatersThe Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Compelling, brilliant, literary acumen dazzling! wonderful I am going to follow this author!

View all my reviews >>

The Man From Saigon The Man From Saigon by Marti Leimbach

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Incredibly well written, gripping, mesmerizing, literary, fantastic; i guess that means I liked the book. Superb writing, difficult subject, and wonderful point of view – woman journalist is protagonist. At any rate a friend in book club recommended it, and we are glad she did. We fell in love with the book!

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A Thread of Sky A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Lovely, lovely writing; References Alzheimer’s as “brain plaques and fibrillary tangles,” “strands caught in knots.” Her style is wonderfully literary, yet compelling about sisters, mother, and grandmother’s return to China for a trip; and relationships and lives so differently lived. Philosophical observations keenly observed, choices of women, foward pull and backward pull, one’s place within the generations and the society. Wonderful read.

View all my reviews >>
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Wow, what a weekend. Saturday went to a Cluster Reflection Meeting in Altadena, held in the loveliest of homes; very user friendly to large crowds. Great people, great conversation, basically we Baha’is encourage each other to contribute to humanity’s well being; and that plays out into children’s classes, devotionals, etc. We don’t do this to “make Baha’is,” but just to contribute to the ongoing advancement of the society and the individual, which includes us totally.

Devotionals are usually with lots of writings from other Faith Traditions, music, and then conversation about concepts. we had so many diverse points of view last night at a friends and the food then was luscious. different people who didn’t know each other found they had a lot in common. It was sort of a 6 degrees of separation type of thing.

Today we heard Judge Dorothy Nelson come and give a report; she was our delegate to the Baha’i National Convention. again, such an atmosphere of love and knowledge in the room. Wonderful. Also had great book club meeting; we discussed The Man From Saigon and I can’t remember author’s name. The writing was superb! We all brought something to eat, had brunch, tremendous conversation and divergent views about the book. Everyone liked it; but our points of view naturally differ because of our different lifestyles.

I don’t have a lot to say, but think despite all the heaviness in the world, and the utter crippling acts of some, there are many hearts and souls who work for the well-being of humanity, from all ranks, religions, traditions, and this weekend, there was evidence of this. We truly are one! Have a good week everyone!

  • The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
    >
    > A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him … a
    > touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy
    > is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is
    > death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering
    > necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating
    > of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his
    > very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out
    > creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really
    > alive unless he is creating. ~ Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel
    > laureate (1892-1973)

 

When I was a young girl, I discovered Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, and then I went on to read all of her books.  Since an early age, I read everything an author says.  Last week or so her name came up, and I forget the context, but I discovered Anchee Min’s latest book is about Pearl – a fiction book.  Some critics say not as good as Anchee Min’s previous books which are cliffhangers, but anything she writes I read, and I was so glad to.  It sounded so accurate.

At any rate, I think Pearl Buck probably changed or added immensely to my life as I think we are hungry for other lives, insights, and in essence, we feel as if we are that person – oneness through literature.

A few years ago, a friend said in an email, “This is you,” and then the above quote was imbedded in my email.  I felt an immense relief.  I am in the last chapters with much creativity and contributions ahead, but I remember my younger days of emotional pain, of therapy, tests, struggles, now knowing who I really was.

I think we all go through that forming journey; the who am I, and in our later years, we are answered, and think, “aah that’s it.”  At any rate, I used to cringe that I was so sensitive.  I wished I simply could not feel as much.  People talked about getting in touch with their feelings, and I was trying to stifle them; they were too much.

Still time and writing, and a spiritual path, mine being the Baha’i Faith, where I firmly believe we walk the mystical path with practical feet, a path which has carved me out in order that love for others may fill me, a path of constant change.  I no longer experience that twisting pain of feeling as if inwardly I felt my heart was a bruised peach pit; I have gained insights, clarity, a voice, more laughter, and it’s all a dance in one way.  Still I cannot tell you how solaced and how solaced I still am by this quote of Pearl Buck’s.  It gives relief to the DNA which is standing still thinking will epigenetics reveals its stamp.  Luckily it has, but I know so little.

It’s exciting to have experienced a lot, learned a lot, and still always on the edge of knowing and learning; I sense epigenetics is one of my next themes.

Marti Leimbach is new to my young life.  The Man From Saigon was recommended in my book club, and I couldn’t put this wonderful novel down.  Kismet Ms. Leimbach went to UCI writing program and Harvard, and I guess in that order.  She live sin England and teaches at Oxford University’s creative writing program.  She, as a contemporary novelist, writes of the Vietnam War era.  She is beyond skilled at place, scents, sounds, terrors and sorrows of the time.  Darkness made visible, humanity and duplicities of war.

Yooo Hoooo Monday, where are you?  Drat, ack, eek.  I lost you.  “I forgot” can be applied to homework, like because my dog ate my homework, I can’t turn it in, or I just discovered I can’t speak Esperanto easily, or I’m not Celtic, Mayan, Troll-like, I can’t turn it in.  Doing this blog is not like homework.  I respond to Pili Pili Saka, the moment his blog comes up.  I’m like an orangy labrador, and I get a whiff of something coming to my territory.  My head lifts from the floor, my cold nose moves up and down microscopically, and then, there it is, Pili Pili Saka. 

Forgot, day swept by with fantastic emails about my book, my participation in a Wilmette Study Course, and an email from dear friend who wrote blurb on back of You Carry the Heavy Stuff.  Mikey likes it; even pili pili compared my writing to a French writer.  Reader, i slid under my desk, yes, by the dust, and the brick, red if you want to know, placed carefully over my email connection link, so as not to disturb and keep me connected.  Such is the old wiring in this incredible little pool house.  Be still my heart.

Yesterday, they filmed Mad Men down the street; I swear I posted that; have to check it out.  At any rate, Bill went to neuro guy who was incredibly thorough and wonderful – it seems severe allergy attack, plus benign positional veritgo, plus anxiety about being so dizzy sick, caused his adrenal responses to shoot up and thus the shakes.  Wow, and now we will go towards solutions!  We are relieved.

Okay I finished a book, The Man From Saigon, a novel, Marti Leimbach, a gripper, writing incredible.  It turns out this writer went to MFA program in Irvine, and that’s where when I began writing, I took classes from Oakley Hall and the other guy, Donald, can’t remember his name, and Roberta….. and it tricked into my curly brain and heart, and i began writing.  Showing, telling, using strong verbs, always 3 at the time.  I never do things lightly.  I’ve pulled back to 1 verb usage, find myself more moderate these days

I am going to reserve Dying Young and Daniel Isn’t Talking by the same author, although part of me shudders to think of adding more books to my list.  While you’re at it, throw in Jesse Ventura’s new book; forget title, yes Jesse Ventura.  He was a Navy Seal and he taught at Harvard, and he has stuff to say.  Who knows, but check it out. 

Okay so to add a more shallow cap to my day, while I finished Man from Saigon, sitting next to Bill on the couch, having done my daily huff puff walk for an hour, we watched TV.  Every now and then at 8 I’d click in Dancing with the Stars to see Kate clump across the floor, and the part of me that used to be a single mother thought, “Good, she’s earning money for the kids.”

You catch my drift reader; blessings and a glorious day and best wishes from Monday who regretfully is speaking Tuesday.

Next post may be about Baha’i Holy Days and stuff like that; hope you stay tuned!

Time is going by on roller skates.  I just clicked on central library, my account, and gasped when it said 7 books await-as I have still 5 unread, 3 to go back, some Baha’i books of great interest I’m studying and am off at 11.30 to meeting with friend.  Time is liked butter sizzling on a slick hot skillet; there you see the cube, there you don’t; but the color yellow is a lovely color albeit in solid form or bubbles.

CHPerc is in one of its modes, crazy, laughter, witty, witty repartee, just a gang of sillies that causes each one of us, whether in England, Pakistan, Wyoming where there’s still snow, or Pasadena and Temple City and Reno, to just (oh don’t forget New Jersey) yuk at the bon mots tossed around in humor amongst us.  Makes life worth living,

Tomorrow give free writing workshop at La Pintoresca library, that wonderful little white building that sits kitty corner on Raymond and Washington, and cries out, “Hi I’m a library, but more that than, c’mon in and skate through the corners of your mind, cuz this is a happening place.”

And so it goes, horror, like black paint spilled on the world’s canvass, still exists; dust of volcanic ash dots our hearts and minds and airplanes, and clogs further the arteries of greed in meanspirited leaders, but still, laughter, like a tiny Jack Russell Terrier, still jumps to the sky and we find meaning, I find meaning, in the small things: like vivid colors of red, and gold, and the glossy black fur and intent brown eyes of a black pug sitting in the sun, half dozing, but intently keeping his eyes open (food) and glad i can see the beauty and joy in it all.  You catch my drift?

A gripper, an unknown side of Capone, lovely insights into Valentino, and the Hollywood world of that era. Particularly endearing friendship with friend Mabel. Unknown point in book: tapeworms used for weight loss (and we thought we were obsessive in this era). Kathryn Jordan takes an account of Gladys by her son, John Walton, and transmutes his story into an account of which the reader cannot put down.

I found this book at my local Pasadena library and have been reading it every spare minute. It was a gripper, profound, compelling, and a major voice for all those slaves in all countries who suffered so incredibly. It seems to me I briefly read that getting through it with the dialogue required staying power I think the author was profound and wise with the constant use of the dialogue. It kept the reader, me, in Lilith’s mind and emphasized the never ending horrific process of suffering and slavery. This book should be read far and wide. It was an honor to read. I wish the author so well. What a gift he has given to humanity.

HOUSE WAS TENTED; JUST our pool house not big one. Bill and I have been really tired from settling a friend’s estate, and we took a two day respite at a local motel, shades of the 30s; rested, read; ate healthy; walked a little; i swam in the pool; and I discovered some new books.

I LOVE YOUS ARE FOR WHITE PEOPLE, a Memoir by Lac Su a must; THE PLAN (big Ideas for Change in America) Rahm Emanual and Bruce Reed, looks well written, easily digestible and informative. Read first few pages; Bill interested too. Two more memoirs beckoned Oliver Poole’s Red Zone, Five Bloody Years in Baghdad, and A Comrade Lost and Found (A Beijing Story) by Jan Wong

House moved back into; pipe broken, exterminator people sent their own plumber; nice guy starting his own business; hope it goes well; gas people cam by; nice to have services; i remember in Ukraine if something went wrong, you had to just wait until Monday for someone to fix, like the plumbing went out because the workers were drunk; oh my; a friend sent his poetry; it’s astounding; has a book; lovely; am going to have a cup of decaf, crash, hopefully walk later. Good to be home!

Recommending some books:

Drawn to the Rhythm, Sara Hall, a gripping, and exceedingly well-written memoir of a woman at 40 or so married, affluent, with children and a verbally abusive husband, who discovers sculling (single kayak type of boat); i am not skilled in naming appropriately some sports stuff; but this was a fabulous book which I found in my favorite used book store in Chico, California. Chico is about 2 hours beyond Sacramento. Also I read Life’s That Way, by Jim Beaver, of his marriage to Cecily Adams (daughter of Don Adams-Get Smart fame) and her incurring lung cancer; about their daughter Maddie, and also well written, insightful and just reflective of so many of the anonymous amongst us facing their Herculean tasks and soldiering on. One more; was another woman and boating; this was A Pearl in the Storm, Tori Murden McClure; rowing across the Atlantic. Yes, you heard that correctly. rowing across the Atlantic, and incredible gripper; what a fierce and wonderful soul.

We are back in Pasadena; think house in Chico selling-it belongs to Ralph who passed, the Ralph of “I’m dying as fast as I can,” at 91 fame; and we are settling his stuff as all kids pitch in and are gigantic help; it’s wonderful to see the Baha’i community, and for me, I am having a lot of healing work done. One is NAET which deals with allergies, and is terrific, my friend Vicki is a Practitioner.

I feel on a newly waxed bathroom floor a week or so ago, and now back in Pasadena, I go to the Altadena Healing Arts center-see Marilyn -last name escapes me at moment, and she is incredible, incredible. She does DNFT – nonforce. com stuff; and more than that. The Altadena Center – healing center is not new in my mind. Friends have raved about it for years.

When you first go in, the flowers in their small garden, seem to burst towards you in profusion of color, health and the whole place has an incredible sense of quiet beauty, knowledge, love, amazing.

So we will probably drive up to Chico Sunday; bill hurt his hand, and we were in emergency care Sunday at Kaiser-great people; we think while cleaning out our garage, dust from 1945 fell on an open cut on his hand; and he has had an extremely painful skin infection. I Googled it, and came up with the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, but his hands were not twisted, and his other hand wasn’t injured; so in my brilliant medical diagnosis by Google, I missed the mark. I’ve done this twice with my own stuff and half to laugh at myself.

He’s getting better; taking a nap; and that’s the story morning glories!

From The Seven Mysteries of Life, chapter, “The Ultimate Mystery: Divinity, pp. 624-625, Author Guy Murchie. This is a book I’ve had for 30 years, and I dip into it. It is out of print, but I believe, and have run into many a biologist or scientist, that it is an exceedingly valuable book. Bill and I are settling someones house in Chico; he passed on, and I was given another copy. I gave it to my son, Nicholas, for his 40th. We had a great combo of his birthday, mother’s day, and seeing Jessica, his daughter, our grandchild and Nick and Laura, O frabjous Day! contents include The Body, the Animal Kingdom, Realm of the Vegetable, World of Little, the Body, The complement called Sex, Secret Language of the Gene, the Mind, eleven senses of radiation and feeling, twenty-one senses of chemistry, mind and spirit, Emergence of Mind, the Body-Mind Relation, Memory, Intelligence and States of Mind, then Part Three-The Seven Mysteries of Life: First Mystery-The abstract Nature of the Universe; Second Mystery, The Interrelatedness of All Creatures, Third Mystery: The omnipresence of Life, Life’s Analogies on Land, Sea and Sky, Doornail and Crystal Essence, Living Geometry and Order; Fourth Mystery: the Polarity Principle, Fifth Mystery: Transcendence; The change Named Death, Evolution of Earth, Sixth Mystery: the Germination of Worlds, and the Seventh and Ultimate Mystery: Divinity,

Postlude the Meaning and the Melody

Summary-the Seven Mysteries of life.

It’s about a 700 page book including index, and I think is in softback too; try Amazon or Alibris if interested or Google title or author’s name. Forgive typing, not properly punctuated, etc., in haste, Esther

“There are many people on Earth still of a mind to follow blindly the ancient superstition that all misfortune in life is meted out by God in His anger over the sins of man. But that is an error, says Baha’u’llah, for ‘tests in life are not punishment but rather serve to reveal the soul to itself. . .Neither need we dread the disasters that come to each individual life . . . according to station. For the earth in essence is a workshop, a crucible for the molding and refining of character.” It is definitely not a global art gallery, nor a playground nor a torture chamber, though it may show temporary elements of all of these. Instead it is a Soul School, the perfection of which paradoxically is hidden within its imperfection.”

“I’ve heard it said that man’s body needs the pig, as does his soul the eagle. If so, the Soul School is where he will find out how to reconcile the two. for this is a serious establishment in a venerable cosmos where we learn by trying and doing. Despite local appearances, ours i not a world composed entirely of neat three-acre lots, each sheltering a contented, well-fed, well-adjusted family that has never experienced mud, cancer, bugs, accidents, poverty, wars or rumors of wars. No, this is the place where a step is taken every day from thinking, “Someone ought to do it but why should I?” to “Someone ought to do it so why not I?” This is the planet where the bowel that issues entropy shares blood and nourishment with its neighbor, the womb, that issues negentropy. It is Saint Augustine’s epic meeting ground between ‘Brother ass, the body, and his rider, the soul.’ It is where many a good man persists in denying his soul by telling himself it would be inhuman to deny his body — all because he has not yet discovered it is actually only his outdated animal body that is holding back the vast potential of his evolving human soul.”

“As spirit thus distributes itself through the world, obviously it will not treat all souls alike. For, in the service of justice, the Soul School must deal with us as individuals, making full allowance for the fact that the trials and lessons of one soul are rarely exactly appropriate for another. Thus arises the familiar and often puzzling disparities in life’s fortunes, like the exploding bombshell in a battlefield that inflicts cruel suffering upon one soldier, bestows heavenly relief in a hospital on another and grants a third his mystic release from life altogether. In a similar way Earth’s approaching catastrophe of adjustment to germination may, for some souls, turn out instead to be a metastrophe of hope, a sort of musical beyond-beat or spiritual purge that will clear the way for general and joyous recognition of spiritual values, an aspect of the Soul School that I cannot hope to explain in any reasonable way because, quite simply, it is a matter of faith.

Faith of course is mystical and often a key in the struggles of mind and spirit–as when Jesus said to the father of the epileptic, “If thou canst beli8eve: all things are possible to him that believeth.” To which, paradoxically, the tearful man replied, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9: 23-24)

For faith means more than holding something to be true. It requires action. It says: “I decide to do it. I stake my existence on it.” Columbus did not just think he was right. He laid his life on the line. So did Lindbergh and Neil Armstrong.

Faith is likewise a spiritual form of vision. The Arabs said as much in their ancient proverb: “the eye is blind to what the mind does not see.” Which really means: “Believing is seeing.”

We are in Chico, and I am using Ralph’s library card. Although he just died at 91, his card lives on and his reading of books has increased greatly. I just finished Postcards from the Edge; anderson cooper, and found it good and tender; and then Eve Ensler’s Insecure At Last – Losing It in our Security Obsessed World – which i regard as a MUST for every concerned soul on the planet. what’s happening outside our doors and inside this nation is big and carving us out. Clearly we are met to serve and care for one another. I cannot recommend this book enough. Love esther

I’ve been remiss in writing these days. Have read many first time books, most of which I think are great. The last one I read is Trail of Crumbs, Kim Sunee, and there’s an accent over the first e; do they still refer to that as accent agu? Have to ask my French speaking friends. The author interspersed or ended each chapter with heavenly recipes, but I am not a big cook and since we are in a small pool house with no oven, glanced over them. I love memoir; each so differnt, courageous to write!.

Finished my second book Writing on the Fly – it has one good blurb and i am getting two others, or in the process of finding same.
I weave things in regarding the Baha’i Faith and I like my writing in this book, more contemporary, edgy, i’m pleased.

I just watched Tess of the D’urbeville’s and cried at the end. Thought I had no tears left in me, but it was wonderful. i read Thomas Hardy in my early days and liked him a lot.

okay i’ll get back to doing this. But remember i told my book club last night they should read Spiritual Shackles, another first, but they were concerned about the length.

I read everything, more memoir, then nonfiction, and i love good fiction too; but trying to read more stuff of which I study. Not enough time. I give a free writing workshop next week for 4 hours and hi hope people get something out of it. We all need to express who we are, our voice; these are such portentous times.


From a Gnat to an Eagle is a phrase in the Baha’i Writings implying one’s potential and range of growth spiritually, and I’ve always adored that phrase. I guess that’s obvious by my blog name.

Reader, I just finished this book, and it’s new. Bill and I knew Nat and his wonderful wife Carol. Bill has worked more in the field of race relations than I and used all of Nat’s books. To put it simply, Bill loves Nat. We once stayed at their house in Amherst for the night, as we were traveling, and they let us have the pug with us in the back bedroom. I was shy with Nat, but Sunday I saw his book and knew Bill should have it for his birthday.

As things go around here, I picked it up first and couldn’t put it down. Every time I went near the book I was filled with this incredible divine sweetness – there’s no other way to portray it. I have been enamoured and spiritually connected to figures in books before, and they have changed my life, but never have I had this sense of being immersed in such divine sweetness. It is a wonderful book, and I just fell in love with Nat, his hopes, his aspirations, his accomplishments and his total humanness. Hope you can check it out somewhere; love to all, esther

Art as supplication, new book “Otto Donald Rogers” released
Toronto, Ontario, 13 November 2007 (Rob O’Flanagan, CBNS) — Every work of art Otto Rogers has set out to make began with a sense of great anticipation. “Within the act of creation lies the anticipation of assistance,” said Rogers, 72, who is the subject of a major new art book from Radius Books, a new publisher based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Otto Donald Rogers art books against the backdrop of his latest paintings at David Mirvish Books
Otto Donald Rogers was released this month. “It’s a wonderful thing to feel as if you are being assisted from some power outside of yourself – to feel moved,” said the artist, speaking of the potential spiritual incentive that lies hidden in the act of painting.

“I could never anticipate what the work would be like and I still can’t. I always look forward to what the outcome of that assistance might be.”

Rogers’ artistic momentum began at the age of 17, shortly after leaving his hometown in Saskatchewan to begin his artistic education, first at the Saskatoon Teachers’ College and then at the University of Wisconsin.

The vast openness of the Saskatchewan landscape maintains a symbolic presence in his paintings and constructions, which owe much to the visual tutelage of the great painters of the 20th century – George Braque, Kurt Schwitters, Antonio Tapies and others.

In America in the mid-1950s, Rogers first encountered the works of the modernist masters of the day, people like Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, who would influence his own approach to painting.

It was around the same time that he first encountered the Baha’i Faith, introduced to him by his future wife, Barbara. He embraced the religion. His religious and artistic practices have carried on a symbiotic relationship for nearly half a century.

“The intoxication of the natural world experienced as a child now combined with the impressions of contemporary art to produce a transforming effect,” he writes in the compelling essay that accompanies Otto Donald Rogers, a 177-page book which features coloured reproductions of works completed over the past decade.

Copies of the book – the first printing is limited to 1,200 copies – will be distributed to about 300 libraries throughout North America. Visual artist, art critic and essayist Sky Glabush, wrote the introduction to the book.

“He is modern in the idealistic and avant-garde sense that Picasso is modern or in the promissory brightness of Kandinsky, or the utopian idealism of Mondrian,” writes Glabush.

“Rogers has often described his efforts in the studio as a form of worship. It is not as if his work is emulating prayer, or illustrating a spiritual state; rather, the act of painting itself, when striving towards perfection, becomes a form of devotion.”
Otto Donald Rogers at the November 7th Mirvish Books Launch of his new book “For Rogers, art is a supplication, the highest expression of which is unity.”

Widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading painters, Rogers’ legacy as a modernist figure in this country and abroad will be enhanced by the new book, said photographer, writer and educator Darius Himes, co-founder of Radius Books, which is dedicated to publishing books with broad artistic and cultural value.

Himes and Rogers met about 15 years ago while the two were serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. “I was a young photographer, someone who had just come out of art school, and he was very encouraging and influential in terms of getting me to think more about art and the effect of images,” said Himes.

About three years ago, the two reconnected and began talking about the creation of a “small catalogue.” The project grew to become a major book, and discussion is underway to produce additional books on Rogers’ work.

“Otto’s essay is actually quite monumental, in that it addresses some of things he has tried to address in his life over the last 45 years,” said Himes. “I love his work. There is a certain stillness in it, a meditative quality that is more about quietude. But there is also a great deal of dynamism in it, as well.

“The central issue for me in his approach is this idea of taking diverse elements and creating some sort of unity with them.” Himes summarized the artist’s staggering output, saying Rogers has mounted the equivalent of a solo exhibition each year for the past 45 years.

“And he has continued to evolve,” said Himes. “His work has become very dynamic.”

Having taught art for 30 years – encouraging countless aspiring young artists to pursue creative work – Rogers said he is himself a student of art.

“I just came back from New York, where I spent two weeks looking at art,” he said, “I came back with 35 books. I now have 1,200 books in my art library, and still I’m buying more.” Rogers lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

To learn more about the book visit Radius Books and look under Books, Fall 2007.

Okay, so meanwhile Ralph, stalwart husband of Sue, married 58 years, published a booK – PICTURE IN THIS BLOG – which is a fine, fine comment and quite scholarly too, of the BOOK OF REVELATION, which one Christian minister commented on:

“The Book of revelation is one of the most remarkable and upsetting books in the collection of writings revered for nearly two millennia in the Christian West as the Holy Scripture … Schreiber neither turns away from Revelation because of its highly violent themes and images, nor is he content with the idea that this document describes what will happen all at once at some future time, indeed at the “end of the World.” Rev. Dr. Jeffery Utter

and from Judge James F. Nelson

“Ralph Schreiber took on a prodigious task in his commentary on the Book of Revelation. future scholars will often look back upon this effort with great appreciation. This book bodes to bring humanity closer together as it helps them understand more fully the events of history. It gives a unique view of humanity’s approach to unity by presenting history as stages of development in which the concept of progressive revelation becomes clear.”

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or somethingof meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.
-Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1892-1973)

Busy days; good walk with friend at Rose Bowl today; Baha’i Holy Day, Birth of Baha’u’llah observed Saturday night
commemoration:http://www.nybahai.org/bahaullah/birthofbahaullah.html

Bill getting better – liver count was in 400s, supposed to be 50, last blood test said 79, and we are greatly encouraged. Am putting a few things on the blog. the New York site re Baha’u’llah is wonderful! I am also quickly reading a book called Pug Hill, and will display the cover; snort, snuff. Have a few Thanksgiving Cards I am sending to people, of guess what, Pug, so will put one or two of them on also. Just very grateful for rich circle of friends, spiritual supporters, community, family. We fuse together at times over difficulties and joy, part of the package. Love to all, esther

Taking a course through Wilmette Institute. I was hesitant, but it’s great as they encourage comments re imagry in the Writings. Reading Tablets of the Divine Plan, and various letters from the Universal House of Justice. Bill has hepatitis, we think caused by a bad sandwich, obtained unbelievably from a hospital cafeteria where he went to grab a bite as Sue and Ralph and I sat upstairs in an emergency room to get Sue admitted and also people had square plastic buckets to urp in and it was unbelievable; but we are relieved, it is not a blood disease.

Just finished Wake-Up Call Kirstren Breitweiser, one of the 9/11 widows. she had been Republican and the book details the journey and struggle a small group of 911 widows incurred. The writing is intelligent, honest, and very good. It was quite insightful.

John called from Haifa; he said a prayer for Bill at Bahji; had coffee with Amelia and then violetta joined us; i went home to check on bill. I walked two miles today; hooray; violetta came by; now have to stop nd study and hopefully get a netflix dvd to view in an hour or so. Soccer game of Jessica’s tomorrow; Nick came by with Border’s card gift and a card for Bill on his birthday; wow, so sweet!
He will pick me up at 8.15 so I can go see Jessica play soccer! hooray

What Terrorists Want, by Louise Richardson, is a book about understanding the enemy, containing the threat, which is the blurb put over the title of this red and back with white letters book cover. The author grew up in Ireland, had a background that produced many a terrorist, and has spent her professional life trying to understand them. Now, Richardson is a professor of government at Harvard, has taught courses on international relations and American foreign policy. Finally her students talked her into teaching about terrorism, to a limited size class of 15. 130 students signed up. “As always happens when teaching smart students, you learn as much as they do.” Needless to say, her classes and teaching expanded to this new level.

“After September 11 an entirely new breed of terrorism expert emerged. The priority of these experts was countererroism policy and American power. they were very knowledgeable about….” (p xix) She suggests knowing one’s enemies and that “We must prove them wrong.”

Okay from here on I am going to distill just a few points as I sit in nightclothes, hair thatched, half touched coffee beside me (one cup).

What is terrorism? “Terroism simply means deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes. If an act does not involve violence of the threat of violence, Richardson writes it is not terrorism. A third point she writes is the point of terrorism is not to defeat the enemy but to send a message, and that finally the act and its victim(s) usually have symbolic significance.

The point that interested me is her 5th point which is controversial and is, “terrorism is the act of substate groups, not states, and lastly (I hope) the victim of the violence and the audience the terrorists are trying to reach are not the same.” (p. 8)

I then flip to page 263 to What is to be done-chapter; after all, we are interested in solutions, and you the reader, can delve in any manner through the book.

6 rules for counteracting terrorism

1. Have a defensible and achievable goal
2. Live by your principles (sound familiar)
3. Know your enemy
4. Separate the Terrorists from Their Comunities
5. Engage others in countering terrorists with you
6. Have patience and keep your perspective

She then speaks to “where are we know”? and “what is to come”?-

I am not usually so academic first thing in morning.

Another good book, by Thomas Friedman, Lordy, i hope i am getting this right The World is Flat, tremendous and prodigious but readable, in clumps for me; I haven’t read the whole thing.

Yours, girl reporter on a grey and cloudy morning where the birds tweep, I recoup from a bit of a stay in the hospital and where I have high hopes for humankind,

esther

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyberspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

right now, i have had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night, and I don’t think i should try to be a giant eagle physically, so I must think about this blog and i will be inputting poetry, prose, wonderful quotes, book recommendation; thoughts from one person’s perspective of life on the planet; i haven’t filled in my all about you, well, i did, but couldn’t save it properly. Have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when! Am reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer; just saw Jessica, our granddaughter at an early socer practice; she’s almost 7-going into first grade and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.