Charlene Atkins, circa third grade, was a worshipper of anything equine, and, meeting me in the hallway, she’d rear and haughtily paw the air, whinny and snort, then gallop off—taking my heart with her.
Charlene and I attended a small, protective private school on the South Side of Chicago, and our class stayed together from kindergarten to graduation from high school (in 1957). Although my crush on her never faded, I did explore other options over the years. In seventh grade, for instance, my best friend Keith Hudson and I worked up the nerve to ask the Korman twins, Harriet and Louise, to a movie at the Picadilly Theater. I don’t remember who made the call—perhaps we asked them out in unison. Because it wasn’t clear what pairings-off we had in mind, the twins ended up seated to Keith’s right, I to his left. I bought two bags of popcorn, and they shared one, he and I the other, and the only hand I touched that afternoon was his.
Finally I reached high school—The Big Time. Renewing my pursuit of Charlene, I managed to (More…)
At a meeting today, I was asked about chapbooks and also about self-publishing. I have reconciled with my mistress, Valentina, and we are again on the same page (no pun intended), speaking the same language,
Valentina is my PC. I have personalized my PC, and provided it (her) with a gender. I like the mercurial energy of women better than the static energy of men. Valentina is my muse and inspiration, but also my critic.
Let me tell you about Valentina: she is smarter than I am, but I will be the first to admit that that is not too difficult of a place to be. She does not correct my mistakes, but only points them out for me to correct. Not only is she in a perpetual state of learning, but she also is constantly is teaching me something. She keeps me entertained and (More…)
A Review of The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston
When I was growing up, there was nothing more magical than the season before Christmas. I loved everything about it, and I believed in Santa Claus far longer than any of my friends. After my two sons were born, I happily read Christmas books to them, sharing the joy and sense of magic I’ve always felt during this time of year. (However, I should add that, as for anyone, joy is mixed with sadness as loved ones die or life’s circumstances change. Magic, mystery, and the feeling that there is something greater than myself and that almost anything can happen, especially on Christmas Eve, is a belief that I hold.)
During this holiday season, I re-read stories and books that I’ve collected over the years, each having something to do with Christmas or the spirit thereof. One of these books is Lucy M. Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe, one of six books that she wrote after the age of 60. All of them were inspired by (More…)
Over 50 years have passed since I flew combat missions over North Vietnam. I wrote a book of short stories about flying that includes a few of these missions. It was my oldest sister who slowly drew out the stories and then encouraged me to include them in a book that is now in our local public library system.
The book’s title is Letters from the Cockpit. I encourage friends not to buy the book, but instead to request it from the library so the demand keeps the book in the system. I enjoyed writing the book and found that if the stories you write are true, you will enjoy reading them again. A repeat of what was exciting once is still an enjoyment, and there is a simple good in that. (More…)
In the summer of 1992, my red 1988 Toyota Tercel started costing hundreds of dollars a month to maintain. Fortunately, I could walk or ride my bike 1.5 miles each way from Oak Ramble Village, my apartment complex, to my job as a Human Resources Coordinator at the University of South Florida (USF). I also was a new part-time graduate student in Counselor Education at USF and could walk to those evening classes.
However, my continued membership and choir participation at St. Mark United Church UCC in Valrico was in question. St. Mark was over 20 miles away from Oak Ramble Village, so it was a 40-mile roundtrip drive. I had two options: 1) leave St. Mark and attend another church or 2) buy a new car and continue worshipping at St. Mark.
I had been a member of St. Mark for five years and was good friends with Rev. Garry and Carolyn Scheuer, the minister and his wife, who also served my hometown church, the First Congregational Church of Des Plaines, Illinois. I had made some friends in the choir and felt comfortable. It would be a tough decision to make. (More…)
I first visited Manhattan in 1953, when I was 13, the guest of Vandy, my godmother. An avid reader of movie magazines, I asked if we could dine at the Stork Club, then one of the most celebrated nightspots in the world where glittering movie stars and celebrities always were being seen. And so, rather than instructing me in the Nicene Creed, Vandy took me to the Stork Club for lunch.
Everything was as I had pictured it, down to the Stork statuette on the table, and—would you believe—sitting at the next table was raven-haired starlet Piper Laurie with a slick-looking power player of some sort. This was the kind of crowd I’d always dreamed of running with, and I resolved then to move to Manhattan one day. Fourteen years later I made it—staying for another 45 years.
When I first arrived, the only people I knew were an uncle and aunt, and sometimes I’d go over in the mornings and watch TV game shows with her, a ritual that included drinking three or four martinis. (More...)
The Christmas season was fast approaching. The year was 1944, the war in Europe and the Pacific had swung in favor of the Allies, and the holiday mood was upbeat and festive in Dallas, Texas.
In those days, I was the foreman, laborer, and chief chicken plucker and poop scooper for the Harvey family Poultry Enterprises. My family was going to move into a more fashionable part of Dallas, and our wartime chicken-raising project would not be tolerated in the new neighborhood. I had butchered and dressed out all the fryers for our customers. Dad sold off the turkeys, laying hens, and George, the rooster, to a neighbor.
My grandmother, Nanna, who had lost her sight and lived with us, sat in the shade of our willow tree and plucked the feathers from the chickens I had butchered. Nanna had been raised in the 1880s on the Kansas plains and never shirked the drudgery of any menial job. She was an expert on all of the household skills like gardening, bread-making, and canning – skills needed to survive on the American Western frontier. She was an authentic pioneer woman. (More…)
It’s not something you normally think about – remembering to go in and clear the data Google stores on you. Now Google has options to make your data disappear automatically after a set time. With these new options, once you set it – you can forget it!
I’ve also included how to take the Google privacy checkup. Just scroll to the end if you want to skip the auto-delete options.
Is setting up auto-deleting right for you?
If you are concerned about privacy and Google storing your digital footprint across applications like searches, voice requests, maps and YouTube, consider taking these steps.
If you like the personalized recommendations that Google assistant analytics makes for you, like products and ad choices, your interests probably have changed over time. What you were interested in last month, or last year, may no longer be relevant. Why should your Google searches, say for (More…)
There is so much more to Italy than Rome, Florence and Venice. Don’t get me wrong; I love those cities. In fact, Florence is my VERY favorite city – and I’ve traveled to over 100 countries and can’t even begin to count the number of cities.
My most recent trip took me to another Italy – one of fewer world-renowned artistic treasures and more eye-popping landscapes – to new foods and even another language.
The map shows the area traveled.
The first city, Fano, is more central than northern Italy, but it was my first stop. While I went to visit family, there is much to be said for this city on the Adriatic coast. It boasts beautiful white sand beaches, and the historic center is a walled city, with much of the wall and a city gate still standing. The ancient Roman via Flaminia ended here. Sections of it are still visible. Fano is also home to the oldest Carnevale (Mardi Gras) parade in Italy. And it’s a perfect walking city. (More…)
‘If you permit me,’ said the Stranger, ‘I’d like to tell you a story. After all, it’s been a long journey and, by the look of those skies, we’re not going to be leaving this carriage for some time. So, why not pass the hours with some story-telling? The perfect thing for a late October evening.’
‘Are you quite comfortable there? Don’t worry about Herbert. He won’t hurt you, It’s just this weather that makes him nervous. Now, where was I? What about some brandy to keep the chill out? You don’t mind a hip flask, do you?
‘Well, this is a story that actually happened. Those are the best kind, don’t you think? Better still, it happened to me when I was a young man. About your age.’
The Stranger Diaries is Elly Griffiths’ delightful homage to Gothic novels. It’s a book within a book, containing a gratifying mix of mystery, suspense, gloomy settings, horror, deaths, supernatural events, a damsel in distress, (More...)