“The afternoon is serene, simple, and pure at the cottage. Beneath the shadows of the trees, I lie in the hammock. The breeze that calms me and the whispering leaves create within me a tranquil lull… I hear the ducklings quacking; they, too, enjoy resting in the comfortable grass. The fragrant odors of the flowers sweeten my contemplative thoughts. It is time for sunset. I walk to the bank of the river. Now the motor boats don’t disturb the water. The waves sprinkle my face with tasty kisses. In the sparkling water, I see the reflection of an iridescent sky, and I reflect on this ethereal sight.”
In 1973, I recorded these impressions of our family cottage in a college literature class essay. This treasured property in Johnsburg, a northeastern Illinois village along the Fox River near Wisconsin, was (More…)
What is the appeal of horror? I remember reading the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe with a friend from junior high years ago. We would sit with a flashlight in the back of a dark closet in my home in Illinois, taking turns reading and scaring ourselves half to death. At night, still terrified, I would bolt under my covers, hiding my head under the blankets while still imagining the horrors from “The Fall of the House of Usher.” You would think that experiences like that would have turned me away from that genre forever. But not so. As others have discovered, it is cathartic to read these books. After all, they deal with the many unanswered questions that humans have grappled with through the ages.
From Greek and Roman myths and the writings of the Bible, to the medieval stories of werewolves and vampires and the Gothic novels of Hugh Walpole (The Castle of Ostranto that Jane Austen skewers in Northanger Abbey), to Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, and to all the books that follow, storytellers have pondered such questions as, (More…)
We were on a northeasterly heading at 7,500 feet above and along the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Had I not looked down through a very small hole in the clouds by pure happenstance, there would be no log cabin in our life. I saw, at that moment a long, paved runway in those high mountains. It seemed odd and in curiosity that paid off later, I circled the location on the aeronautical chart and placed it back in the map holder.
This happened while en route to Mount Airy, North Carolina to look at a large track of land owned by the Reynolds Tobacco family. We landed and were met at the airport and toured the property. I found it strange that (More…)
The names on the 9/11 Memorial are etched into marble and our hearts. I touched the names and there was something. An echo or reverberation. Like the experience at the wall at the Vietnam Memorial. Tears. You see people grieving next to you and long to reach out to comfort them. Sometimes you do.
On 9/11, I was with Verizon in the Information Technology department on an early morning conference call. Someone suddenly shouted into the phone (More…)
We decided to walk back to the hotel rather than take a vaporetto. For one thing, it was a lovely spring evening, and besides, no place in Venice is really all that far from any other place in Venice. Once the mobs of day-visitors return to their hotels and caravans on the mainland in the late afternoon, Venice becomes a different place – quiet, elegant, sophisticated, ancient, and haunted. Straight-line routes are nonexistent here, so we wove a circuitous path along the narrow passageways that serve as streets and over some of the multitude of footbridges that arch across the narrow canals.
We walked beneath iron-railed balconies overflowing with flowers, the air hinting of roses, lilies, and geraniums. We admired the (More…)
It was the old standard – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and the kicker, boy finds girl, – but, was it really the same old same old?
The boy in question is Benji, the girl is Jeannie. Benji met Jeannie at a conference for mining engineers. He was new to the field and had ventured to these meetings to pursue job opportunities. Jeannie was something of an anomaly in the profession: she had been the only female in her graduating class. In her first few years of establishing herself, it was no surprise that she was met with sexist skepticism. As the years went on, however, more women entered the field and their presence was gradually accepted.
Jeannie was now at the peak of her career – she was a well-published author, the recipient of professional honours, and an executive in her firm. (More…)
What does it mean to be an American? To me it means everything. What it means goes beyond my place of birth. For me it goes back to when millions of Irish people, Italians, and Eastern Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean in search of a better life.
My mother’s parents were refugees who came to this country from Russia. They fled religious persecution as the pogroms claimed the lives of their families. They made a good life for themselves in the safety of Coney Island, owning a dry goods store. They never talked about the old country: only about how lucky they were in America, the land of freedom.
My father’s father left his family in Romania as a young adult, because they were poor. Once in America, he pursued his dream, became a chef and made a future for himself. My father’s mom was born in Palestine. She was the oldest of ten children and was sent to America to find opportunity and a better life. She often talked of her pride in living in America and loved to sing the song, “America the Beautiful.” My grandparents felt lucky, blessed, and safe to raise their children in the freedom of this beautiful country. (More…)