The photograph – The book


            For this posting, I was initially going to write about waking up in the early hours of the morning, and what I do until the rest of the world is awake. But decided there was something more important playing in my mind.

            In the next couple of months, Suzanne and I will move to a smaller community twenty miles south of Tucson. At our age, this move is a big deal, and we look towards it with trepidation and excitement. I’m determined to make it a new fun adventure. To prepare for the move, we’ve begun parting with things that have little sentimental value and will not fit into our new home and have started the packing process. During this activity, I came upon a photo of my mother that was likely taken before I was born.

            My mom died when she was thirty-one and I was ten. I do not use the phrase she “passed away,” because it does not fully suggest the significance and impact of the death of a loved one, especially for a young boy.

            I showed the photograph to Suzanne and said, “she was really pretty. No wonder my dad fell in love with her.” Those were the words I spoke, but my voice cracked, and it was difficult not to cry as I said them. My mother has been dead sixty-five years, and today it was difficult to speak about her without crying. Some pain is never gone.

            In the photograph, her eyes and curly hair are dark, she is smiling, and her fingers look slim, long, and elegant. She has a small gap between her front teeth; and rather than looking like a flaw, it looks charming to me. She is smiling. The photograph is only one of three things I have of my mother. None of those three is any memory of her. I suspect that the absence of her memory came about as a psychic protection against the loss of a parent when I was young.

            She was pretty, and I’ve been told she loved me, and she loved my dad. Maybe at this point in my life, that is enough to know.

            I came upon a book recently, and it somehow connects to what I’ve written above. The book is the phone booth at the edge of the world by Laura Imai Messina. A serendipitous find that turned out to be a very lucky day for me. The novel recounts a factual incident that occurred in Japan in 2011. An earthquake and resulting tsunami killed several thousand people. A phone booth (the wind phone) located in a remote area was erected and a disconnected phone was placed on a stand to allow visitors to speak with their loved ones who had died. This place exists today in Japan, and yearly thousands visit to speak with loved ones now gone.

            The story is beautifully and skillfully written. The losses, the pain, the redemption and finding comfort are artfully written by Messina. When reading this book, you find not only hope, but you will also walk beside, and then intimately begin to know well-developed and likeable characters.

            For me I also felt a longing. A longing that does not have to come true in order for me to feel joy. I see myself standing in that phone booth, making a call.

“Hi mom. Tell me about you. Tell me about me.”

A line from the phone booth at the edge of the world.

“Life decays, countless cracks form over time. But it was those very cracks, the fragility, that determined a person’s story; that made them want to keep going, to find out what happens next.”

Go well, David

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Filled with Awe


It is rare when another human leaves me in awe, not so with the rest of nature.

Two years ago, outside of our bedroom window, we watched a small miracle take place. A female mourning dove we named Patience laid two small eggs in a window flower box. During the next few weeks, we watched as she patiently sat waiting for her young ones to hatch. Sure enough, two tiny little beings came into this world (Polly and Peter), grew day by day and soon flew away into their new lives. Three weeks ago, this event repeated itself. This time, the mother was Patsy. She sat day and night on her two eggs. She must have moved some, but we never witnessed it. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, Pickles and Pepper popped out of their shells, and momma Patsy sat stoic as a mountain, watching over her two little balls of feathers. This morning I went outside to greet them, and they had all moved out of the neighborhood. And yes, my heart sank when I realized that they too had now moved on in their bird lives.

I went for my walk at the Maeveen Behan Desert Sanctuary later this morning. A small cottontail rabbit was on duty at the gate as a morning greeter. He nodded at me and happily hopped away. Later, I saw his buddy romping around the park, making sure everyone was having a good time. Shortly thereafter, two Gambel’s quail crossed my path. Their self-important squawk suggesting both being in a hurry to get to a morning birthday party. I have long known they are silly birds, but decided this morning that their sole purpose in life must be to make people laugh.

It is not yet May, but every plant in the desert seems to have come alive. The Saguaros have already laid claim to the high ground of beauty. Their waxy white blossoms are popping out everywhere. Not to be outdone, the Palo Verde has left a soft carpet of yellow on the ground, while Arizona poppies, and Desert Mallow have been competing for weeks to see who could be the most glorious. I had to stop on my walk, rub the leaves of a Creosote bush and breathe in so I could remember what the desert rain smells like. Stop and notice. Stop and notice, I kept saying to myself. And I did.

The most amazing thing that happens when I pay attention to the desert is the calm I feel. Some time between step one and step five hundred, my worry, stress, and garbage thinking fall away, and I feel serene. I feel peace; I feel AWE. The adult Saguaros stand fifty feet high, and some are estimated to be two hundred years old. If that does not impress and leave a sense of awe, then nothing can. If you are quiet, you can hear the whispering of those people and cacti who have lived on this land for millennia. Listen, their words are words of wisdom.

I have wonderful human friends. They are bright, kind, talented and loving people. Still, I return to my opening line; it is rare that I am in awe of another person. And I am fine with that. I know I will be ok as long as I can walk back into the desert, say hi to the rabbits, laugh at the quail, smell the creosote, or glimpse an occasional coyote as it makes its early morning rounds. And yes, I am already waiting for next Spring to see the newest mother dove show me what wonder there is to behold.

In my life, nature heals like no other magic potion.

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”

Gary Snyder

“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Taking A Walk


“Let’s watch the news” I say–War in Ukraine, political division, MAGA, abortion, voting rights, floods, gun violence, and inflation. Well, that was fun and uplifting. I’m going to go write. That idea lasts all of ten minutes. All I can think about is War-division-abortion-voting rights-floods-gun violence.

It’s now 6 A.M. and the sun is just coming up over the Santa Catalina Mountains and I’m going for a walk to get away from the TV, and to get my head cleared and some hoped-for new writing thoughts. Maybe I’ll get lucky and see something fun. Hell, it’s Spring in Tucson and the weather is beautiful, what could be better than that?

It takes a while to flush away all the negative thoughts. Thornydale is loud with morning traffic and louder Harley Davidsons. I leave behind some brain mush as I walk along the sidewalk. By the time I’m two blocks down Magee, the noise has been left behind and my mind is no longer filled with monkey chatter. I take out my small pad of paper and write a few notes for a piece I’m writing. Along the walkway, Arizona poppies, orange mallow, and pink penstemon vie for my attention. I have no favorite, each beautiful in its own way.

I walk on and another idea comes to mind for my writing. Mimicking the sound of dialogue I want to write, and as a first attempt, it doesn’t sound too bad to me. There will be several revisions once it’s on the computer screen, but it’s a good start. I’m smiling, and the walk on Old Father is pleasant. I pass a lady with a rust-colored retriever, and I remember my retriever, Aspen. She was beautiful, well-mannered and a loyal friend. Now we have Denni, a cute little rescue terrier that stole my heart the day she came home with us.

Another block and I’m passing a glorious Sweet Acacia tree. At least I think that’s what it is. Suzanne and I always say the small golden ball like blossoms remind us of a grandmother’s chenille bedspread. Whatever it looks like, it is beautiful. The small pincushion cactuses are just blossoming and prove that small can be beautiful. Then I come upon a blooming ocotillo, and it is amazing.

I walk a little further and make my turn to where I saw the coyote walking down the middle of the street a few weeks past. Then its birds competing for my attention. Grackles are squawking like old men arguing over who makes a better pickup, Chevrolet, or Dodge. Not to be outdone, the cactus wrens are jabbering about who has the nicest condo in the forty-foot-tall Saguaro on the corner. Both make their case, but I’m neutral about them. I enjoy hearing them equally. Another thought comes to me, and I write it down. Now I’m eager to be home to work on my newest writing project. I’m feeling hopeful about it. As I walk away, the birds are still loudly disagreeing

I open my front door and Suzanne asks, “how was your walk?” Denni jumps out of her bed on the sofa and sniffs my leg to make sure I’ve not been flirting with other dogs. “My walk was great,” I say. And it was.

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir.

“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” Wallace Stevens

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Henry David Thoreau

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Taking a Stand

Yesterday the Republican led Tennessee State Legislature expelled two Democrat members. They took a vote on the expulsion of three members but expelled only two. All three had taken part in supporting a protest by thousands of Tennessee students asking for stronger gun control regulation in the state. The legislature said the three had violated “decorum” in the House chambers. This protest was sparked by the gun murder of three nine-year-old children and three school employees on March 3, 2023, in Nashville.

The three Democrats are Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson. Jones and Pearson are African American, and Pearson is Caucasian. The Republican led body did not distinguish the behavior of Pearson from that of the two men, yet she was not expelled, and they were.

This morning I was having a conversation with a friend about this event and our feelings about gun regulation. He said he read the expulsion was because the three had voted against a law that would add armed security in schools. When asked where he’s seen that, he said “Breitbart.” I admit I did laugh when he mentioned his source. I responded that every newscast I’d watched was reporting the same thing. They were expelled because of breaking the rule of decorum when speaking out about gun control without permission to speak.

I asked my friend what he thought about the expulsion of the two African American men, and failing to expel the Caucasian female, who had committed the same act as the two men. His response was, “I’m tired of hearing about racism in everything.” When pressed on the point, or his reaction to the issue, his answer was “I don’t know all the facts.” I don’t either, but I’ve not heard one Tennessee legislator explain why he or she voted to oust the two black men, but not the white female.

When the subject was shifted to guns, the usual words were spoken by both of us. Its mental illness, and the 2nd Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, and I saying why can’t we do more to prevent gun violence?

The full Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It was ratified on Dec. 17, 1791. It is part of the Bill of Rights, the name of the first ten amendments added to the United States Constitution. 

I said to my friend that there are about 350,000,000 privately owned guns in the U S. It is often offered that “they want to take away all guns.” Who, I asked, has the power, or has ever said they can or will take away three hundred fifty million guns? His response, Pete Buttigieg said, “We are coming for your guns.” I guess there is an actual threat, one man, and millions of gun owners. I don’t think I’d bet on Pete winning this one.

Our forefathers included this passage into the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. I take the position that those three children, and those three school employees, had the Right to live, and the Right to pursue happiness in their lives.

Both sides of the argument have valid points, but I do not think that gives anyone a free pass to throw up our arms, say we send out our thoughts and prayers to the victims and families of gun violence, and then forget about it until the next mass shooting occurs tomorrow.

In the Tennessee state capital, those thousands of students were pleading for protection in their schools, and the action taken was to expel two men that were supporting their cause.

So what position do we take? Do we turn our backs on the matter, say it’s the problem of someone else? Do we agree power makes right, and that the answer is only to gain and do everything possible to maintain political control? Or to not take any position on such a vital matter because we don’t have all the facts, and that it is a complicated issue. I ask one last question. Is there no possibility for us to come to some agreement that we as a country have the responsibility to do everything possible to stop gun carnage while protecting the right of people to own guns? Are our thoughts and prayers the only thing available, or acceptable to us to stop nine-year-old children from being murdered?

Woke-Awake-Alive-Paying Attention – Call it What You Will.

On page 187 of the Ken Burns book OUR AMERICA: A Photograph History, is a photo taken in 1942. Like every photograph in the book, this one is also stunning. A man of Japanese descent is sitting outdoors in a wooden chair. Neatly dressed, his hands rest on his lap. There is sadness and resignation etched into his face. Just behind, and to his left, another man holds an infant girl. To his right, two young boys stand on a platform, both with downcast eyes. On the ground sit several boxes tied with string. The picture was taken by the famous photographer Dorothea Lange at the Japanese internment camp in Centerville, California.

Included in the photo’s description is a copy of a letter written by 23-year-old Kimi Tambara who was at the time interned at the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho. His words–“I can now understand how an eagle feels when his wings are clipped and caged. Beyond the bars of his prison lies a wide expanse of the boundless skies, flocked with soft clouds, the wide, wide, fields of brush and woods-limitless space for the pursuit of LIFE itself.”

Seeing Lange’s photograph and reading the caption explaining it, I looked deeper into the history of internment during World War II. I learned that there was an internment camp fifteen miles from the Idaho town where I lived for more than a decade. The camp Tambara wrote about became a National Historical Site in 2001, some years after I left the area. It commemorates the over 13,000 men, women, and children who were imprisoned there during the war. Nothing that I recall was ever mentioned about the place during the decade I lived less than a fifteen-minute drive away.

I looked further and came upon another story. It was the story of a man who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism in World War II. He was born in Seattle, Washington in 1922, and died in combat on the 4th. of July 1944. His name was William Kenzo Nakamura. PFC Nakamura volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1943. Both of his parents had been placed in the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho in 1942. They were both immigrants from Japan and had lived in this country for over twenty-five years. How does a man give up his life to protect a country that would imprison his mother and father for the crime of being born in another country?

So what do I, or you, make of this? There was understandably at the time vast anger towards and paranoia about people of Japanese heritage. Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and this country had entered the war. President Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 9066, allowing for the internment of Japanese Americans. How do we view this seventy-five years later?

Now here we are in 2023, and one cannot turn on national news without hearing the elected talking heads complaining about what history is taught, what should not be taught, what cannot be taught, and what should be taught. Apparently, it is their appointed right and responsibility to tell us, their constituents, what our children and grandchildren will be and will not be told in our schools. And to further that cause, what books can and cannot be used to teach our history, and what books can and cannot be held in school libraries. The message seems clear. We know better than you, and we will tell you what books are allowed, and which ones are not.

I had to look up what woke as it’s used today actually means. Having read it, I am still not sure. What is clear is it and other such words have been weaponized by both the Conservatives and the Liberals. Because I need simple in my life, I accept the idea that truth is truth, science is science, and history is history. There is room for discussion of what those words mean, but there has to be room and tolerance on both sides for that to happen. Very little in the world is black and white. Our country has been built on tolerance for the beliefs of others, yet there is a seismic shift occurring regarding any disagreement about what is and is not allowed today. We become something other than a democracy when one ideology, whether it be Left or Right, has the power to impose their will unfettered, and that all citizens MUST follow their dictates.

Some noteworthy quotes about banning books:

“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go to your library and read every book…” Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“Every banned book enlightens the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous – they contain ideas.” Pete Hautman.

William Kenzo Nakamura

Learning From the Young


I wonder how many younger people we older ones associate with on even an occasional basis. I’m not talking about the young lady taking my order from behind the Subway counter, or the two high schoolers we complain about talking too loudly at the next table over from us. I know for me, regularly, that’s about it. Maybe it’s because we believe they will think we are not cool enough for them. Does anyone under sixty use the word cool like that anymore? That’s part of the problem. We think we are smarter because we are old, and they think we are (fill in the blank) because they are young. We may both be wrong.

My granddaughter is sixteen, far smarter on her worst day than I have ever been on my best day. Last year, she and I got into a discussion about the merits or relevance today of the book To Kill a Mockingbird. We each had something of a different point of view about Harper Lee’s book. To put it in the vernacular of my age group, she cleaned my clock. I claim some disadvantage because of her being one of the best high school debaters in the state of Idaho. The truth is, she’s just a lot brighter than me.

This past week, three of my friends and I met with a young lady to discuss some issues of using social media. That subject, at least for me, felt like Einstein attempting to teach Alfred E. Neuman the Theory of Relativity. Despite that, I learned some of the technical aspects she was talking about, but more so, I had a great time doing it. She is smart as a whip, (ok, I couldn’t resist) articulate, charming, and willing to share her knowledge and talents with others. The two hours spent with her went by far faster than I wanted.

That same evening, another wonderful event happened. Suzanne and I, along with my friend Brad, went to a poetry reading in downtown Tucson. This was my second time at this event, and I was eager to see if the second meeting would be as good as the first. The gathering is small, maybe twenty people at most, and except for myself and my two companions, all other attendees had a median age of about twenty-five or less. The talent, bravery and poetry writing skills of those attendees were amazing. They are poets in every sense of the word. Their powerful, honest, in-your-face, and poetic words left me slack jawed. The cool thing was they listened to my words, Brad’s words, and from the clapping, finger snapping, and cheering seemed to appreciate what we said. When we left, I didn’t feel younger, but I felt optimistic. As we baby boomers bow out of this existence, I feel a glimmer of hope that the young of this country, like my granddaughter, the young social media expert, and those ‘youngsters,’ I heard reading poetry, just may do a better job of running this world than we have.

I’m going to take advantage of what the younger generations offer. There is plenty I need to learn, and they just maybe who I need to teach me.

Go well, David

“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.” Victor Hugo

“The arrogance of age must submit to be taught by youth.” Edmund Burke

Poetry reading in Tucson.

Choose Your Word and Live it


As I was taking my walk this morning, a common thought arose again. “What really makes me happy?” Ok, so I’m not Socrates, but these kinds of questions pop up occasionally. I plead the 5th., that far more often thoughts about do I want chicken noodle soup or clam chowder for lunch enter my Atari 8-Bit sized brain. The question first originated with me when I was working as a counselor. Clients would come to me and say they were unhappy and wanted me to help them gain more happiness. Eventually, we would get to where I would ask them what happiness meant to them, and once we could come to some common understanding of that term, which varied for every person, we could talk about how to achieve it. Trying to keep it simple, we eventually talked about how the person could get more of what they wanted and less of what they didn’t want. The doing always proved to be the hardest part.

Happiness – Joy – Contentment – Peace – Bliss – Jubilation – Ecstasy

All good words. Joy seems the one that is most lasting and fitting for me. I find joy most often in nature. Yesterday morning as I was walking, I had just turned a corner in a neighborhood and looked up to see a grown coyote trotting down the street towards me. (This is Arizona, coyotes are everywhere) He saw me and stopped, I saw him and stopped. He wanted to keep going but was neither aggressive nor impatient. His look was guarded curiosity. I moved away to the side of the street, and he trotted past me, and I bid him a safe journey. Why do I tell this story? Seeing that coyote brought me joy that lasted all day and remains even now as I write this. Although there are those who see coyotes as a nuisance, I see them as beautiful and clever creatures who live hard lives. I often experience those same feelings when I’m walking in the desert and see a Harris hawk, a cactus wren, or even a rattlesnake. Nature brings to me what I’m most seeking from life.

There is nothing new or radical about what I’ve just said. What I find uncommon is a person who consistently works to add more of what they most enjoy, what brings them joy, while attempting to reduce what brings stress, worry, unhappiness or anger. In part, I think it is because we haven’t truly identified what we want, perhaps more accurately, what we need. We have been fed lies all our lives that having more, better, bigger, newer, faster, prettier, and fancier will bring us a never-ending romp on a tropical beach, sipping a gallon sized margarita, while strutting our perfect never growing old bodies in the newest fill-in-the-fashion-brand-of-the-day must have swimsuit. I missed out on the day all that was being passed out, because I’ve gotten old, my body resembles a porpoise more than “The Rock,” and when I romp, it’s usually to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

So what are we going to do, gang? It takes effort and focus to follow through on getting what we need from life. I’d suggest we stop and consider our Bliss, our Joy, our Happiness and spend more time and energy trying to fully enjoy those moments and far less time hoping to win the bazillion dollar lottery so that we can have it all and live out our lives with every toy we are told we need to have.

I’m going to try; I hope you do too. Go Well.

“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” Albert Einstein

“Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.” Plato

Coyote near Riverside Geyser by National Park Service is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

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Jealousy – such an ugly thing


          Happy New Year – Let’s make it joyful, safe, productive, and positive. Now that I’ve taken care of that, here’s my first real complaint about the new year. Why the hell do some writers have to be so good?

          My imaginary, open and terse letter to Sherman Alexie.

          Dear Mr. Alexie, sham that you are. It’s time to quit pretending you’re a good writer. Time for you to fess up and take it like a man. You’re not a good writer, far from it, my friend. You are a brilliant writer. Now go to…

The last book I read in 2022 was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

As I said to my better half, (Suzanne) “This may not be the best book I’ve read, but if not, it’s damn close.” Those were words not lightly spoken. They were as serious as me saying Häagen-Dazs Butter Pecan ice cream is man’s greatest invention.

          The book is a semi-autobiographical novel about Mr. Alexie. Born with hydrocephalus, raised early on a Spokane Indian reservation, both parent’s alcoholics, lonely, and bullied, he attended an all-white school 22 miles from the reservation. Don’t be dissuaded by the Teen or YA category of this book. Alexie captures the most basic, difficult, sad, and joyous moments of the teen years of all children and sets them smack down in the middle of an Indian reservation. An easy to read and sometimes laugh out loud book. The author captures all we need to know about how hard a child’s life can be, and what courage a child can show. As a reader, I had to set aside my initial feelings that the issues seemed all too common, too cliché. This book is not simplistic in any manner. It is because this writer has the skills needed to take the most troublesome matters and make them understandable, moving, and challenging without hitting the reader over the head with them. Had I answered him aloud, it would have been, “Yes, I see it all.”

          Every reader decides at some point that a book or story is vital to them, or something to be set aside and forgotten. For some, I suspect Part-Time Indian would fit in the second category. So be it. For me, it is an amazing piece of writing from an author who knows what words he puts to paper is his truth. If you read it, it may not move you, but it’s well worth the time and effort to see how it fits.

          I am now reading a manuscript that a friend of mine has been writing for the past few years. I will refrain from sharing the title and the author’s name for now. Still, I can’t hold back from saying that it is going to be a magnificent book when published. I look forward to being able to write more about it in the near future.

          This brings me full circle back to the beginning of this post. I feel blessed that I ended last year on such a high reading note as I did with Alexie’s book. Now I have a new 2023 gift in reading my friend’s manuscript. But it’s still unfair, and I repeat, “Why the hell do some writers have to be so good?”

I share a picture of Alexie’s book cover. As the new day has started, I feel positive about the new year. I sincerely wish nothing but the best for all. OK, not Putin, he can be locked in a dark room and be forced to listen 24 hours a day to Pat Boone sing versions of ACDC songs, cranked to eleven.

Go Well. David.

On the wall above my computer. My goal always –

          “If I haven’t made you smile, or cry, or think, or laugh, then I haven’t done my job as a writer.”

Please consider my new book. Cardboard Heroes

Writing – Why?

          This one is harder to write!

          I belong to the Oro Valley Writer’s Forum, a group of dedicated writers and friends. Experience, abilities, and individual writing goals differ. Yesterday at our monthly coffee meeting, I had a conversation with one of the most highly regarded authors in our group. She mentioned she’d seen a blog post I had written roughly two years ago, and that she liked it. A nice compliment for sure. Then she added I had said in the blog, something to the effect that I “pledged to post a new blog every two weeks.” Although I didn’t remember the post in any detail, I had no reason to doubt that I had written those words. What I also knew was I had not kept that pledge. To this date in 2022, I have posted ten blog entries this year. Even for someone like me who has poor math skills, I know that is less than one blog per month, and far less than bi-weekly.

          Responding to my friend, I said something to the effect that I had read blogs were now less in fashion, that followers were hard to get, and that “there is a minimal return on the investment for a blog.” This last sentence meaning, it takes time to write a good blog post and there are few book sales (OK, maybe no sales) as a result of the postings. So there it is, the real rub. At some point, marketing proves to be as hard, if not harder, than writing. Authors want a minimum of two things – We want people to read our work (and enjoy it), and we want people to buy our books. There are many more reasons we write, but I believe those are two are what every author desires. Both longings, at some point, seem to become more difficult to achieve than writing the book.

          I have tried and will continue to attempt to accomplish these goals in the future. My longing for readers and sales has not waned. I also intend to make the practice of writing a more fulfilling activity. Not just looking towards the outcome, but also making a greater investment in the joy of the process. When writing becomes difficult, I write less. Maybe that is the opposite of what is needed. The friend mentioned earlier is disciplined to a fault, and as a result, she is also successful. OK, being talented and well trained in her craft is also a big plus.

          There are two quotes I enjoy regarding this subject. One comes from the movie A League of Their Own. The character played by Geena Davis tells Tom Hanks, the team’s coach, she was quitting. He asked why? She told him – “It’s just gotten too hard.” Hanks looks at her and says, “of course it’s hard, it wouldn’t be great if it wasn’t hard.”

The second is—“When the words come hard, the weak stop writing. When the writing becomes easy, the strong writer works harder.”

My favorite current read—Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction Edited by Judith Kitchen My next planned self-published book to read, Forever Greta by Harald Lutz Bruckner

Cardboard Heroes

Who would you pick to share a beer?


          Before I get myself in trouble, it could be a beer, a cup of tea, a glass of wine or a diet coke. Now that that’s out of the way, who would you pick to spend an hour or a day with? Living or dead, who would excite, scare, intimidate, or thrill you to meet? What questions would you ask them?

          I’m going to give my partial list and reasons. Who would you choose, and why? I’d very much enjoy reading your answers.

Since I write, I’m going to start with authors.

First choice–John Steinbeck. He knew people; he knew common experiences and he could and did write of the pain, joy, and struggle of the lives we all live. My question “How did you write so honestly, so vividly?” The Grapes of Wrath and The Long Valley.

Second choice – Cormac McCarthy–A curmudgeon I suspect, who doesn’t suffer fools, but still I’d try. “How does one learn to write with such brutality and with such beauty?” The Road and All the Pretty Horses.

Third choice–Mary Oliver–“Your poetry was so accessible, even a dolt like me can understand and feel it.” I bet she would have just smiled. Dog Songs and A Thousand Mornings.

Honorable mentions: Billy Collins, Alice Munro, John O’Donohue, and Barbara Kingsolver.

Notable Others

First choice – The 14th. Dalai Lama. I saw him in Minneapolis and could feel his compassion when he walked into the huge auditorium. My question – “How have you forgiven and feel such compassion for those who stole your country?”       

Second Choice–Abraham Lincoln.–“Help me understand how you became you. Who you were, and what you did, defies understanding.”

Third choice–Bobby Kennedy–Simply because I admired him then, and I admire him now.

Notable Others–Robin Williams, John Prine, Mother Teresa, and my grandmother, Annie Close.

Musicians (because music has been such a part of my life)

First choice–John Prine (again) I just want to tell him I miss his music and his illegal smile.

Second choice–Jim Croce, Jimmy Buffett, and Marvin Gaye, over a beer. So many questions, serious answers, and laughs.

Third choice–Elvis, hell, he was Elvis, reason enough.

So who would you meet, know, talk with, and share a beer or cup of tea with? There are wonderful people out there, some we wish we could know, others we will know only by their writing, their music, or the events they helped shape. It’s up to us to open ourselves to every opportunity that presents itself, and that means knowing others. There are fascinating and funny people in this world. Go meet them.

Go well, David