The Wealth of Characters

4

, March 27, 2021- As long as I have been an educator, the antics of Beatrice (Beezus) and Ramona Quimby have been a staple of my after lunch read-alouds, to children from 6 to 10 years of age. “Lonesome Dove” was both a favoured read and good television viewing, in the mid- to -late 1980s.

Beverly Cleary and Larry Mc Murtry, two beloved American writers, died a day apart, each leaving a legacy of work that will sound like clarions, for generations yet unborn. Mrs. Cleary’s work was drawn from her own childhood experiences, in the Portland of the 1920s and 30s, a time of rambunctious personal freedom, followed by harrowing economic ills-all playing out in an undercurrent of Victorian attitudes towards children, which would fuel young Beverly’s rebellious anger. An only child, she determined that her characters would have at least one sibling and a number of both friendly and adversarial contemporaries. Henry Huggins, his dog Ribsy, his friends Robert, Murph and Beatrice (Beezus), all characters from the 1950s, are sensible, but get into their share of mischief. Beatrice’s younger sister, Ramona, tops them all in the mischief department, constantly getting into tiffs with “That Grace”, her schoolyard rival.

There was, likewise, all manner of mischief to be had in the world of Lonesome Dove, which was the Texas-Mexico border of the 1870s to 90s. There were cattle drives, going from Texas to Montana, thus giving us a picture, through Larry Mc Murtry’s eyes, of the Great Plains in both tradition and transition. Mc Murtry, in reviewing the public response to his opus, referred to the Old West as “the phantom leg of the American psyche”. The Eighties were a time when many people were still mourning the passing of John Wayne, and with him, the Old West of mythology. Indeed, the original game plan of Larry McMurtry was to cast John Wayne in the role that eventually went to Robert Duvall. John Ford, with whom “The Duke” is closely associated in the Western movie genre, opposed the project, which languished for twelve years, making it to the small screen in 1989.

The characters remain memorable: Duvall’s Gus McRae; Tommy Lee Jones’ Woodrow Call; Danny Glover’s Joshua Deets; Diane Lane’s Lorena Wood; Robert Urich’s Jake Spoon and, in the sequel, Frederic Forrest’s Blue Duck. There is a coming of age element, with Rick Schroeder as Newt Dobbs. The series did not, as is America’s wont, portray the Old West as it really was, brutal to the core-and in an equal opportunity way, to people of all ethnicities. It is said that Larry McMurtry got deeper into that aspect, in his screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain”, which I have never seen.

Thus, as we bid farewell to two authors who were memorable characters, in and of themselves, let us bear in mind just how close their concocted people are to some of us, or to all of us. That, the mirror, is the true value of fiction, across genres.

My Top Reads of 2019

4

December 29, 2019- 

I covered a decade, yesterday, but today I will take a brief look at the books which mattered most to me, this year.  I have covered key books of years past, as I finished them.

10.  Abby Wize:  AWAY (Revision)– This Baha’i-themed book was revised to include more detail and to flesh out a previously one-dimensional character.  It is the account of a young girl who has a vision of a spiritually-advanced society of the future, after suffering a head injury.

9. Spiritwalker– This tale, similar to Abby Wize, involves communication between a Hawaiian man and one of his descendants, in the far future.  It is more dystopian than Abby Wize, so expect a description of a more seemingly primitive future environment.

8. Winter of the World– The second volume of Ken Follett’s series of novels on the Twentieth Century, this tale covers several families’ experiences in Britain, the United States, Germany and Russia, in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

7.  Swimming for Sunlight– This novel follows a newly-divorced young woman, as she overcomes her guilt stemming from her father’s tragic death and her fear of life, that results from that guilt.

6. Testaments- (Reading in progress)- This novel is a sequel to Margaret Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale”, offering details into the lives of individual women during the period of the fictional Republic of Gilead.

5.  Twelve Rules for Life (Reading in progress)- This non-fiction book, by Jordan Peterson, discusses twelve ethical principles and their application to both modern life and traditional Western thought.

4. The Alchemist– Paolo Coelho’s classic tale of a young man, traveling from Spain to Egypt, across the Sahara Desert and back, and of the spiritual transformation this brings about, in his life and that of those around him.

3. Gulistan (Reading in progress)-  This is a collection of poetry and stories, fdrawn from both the life and from the observations of a doctor who has keen insights into both Indian and American cultures and mores.

2.  Reflections of A Wonderful Life– These are the memoirs of my brother, presented in the form of answers to questions posed by his three children.  They mirror my own memories, in many ways.   Both this book and Gulistan have influenced my own memoirs, in terms of the format in which they will be presented.  No promises, but I look to getting them written, by this coming Fall.

1. The Brothers Karamazov– Feodor Dostoevsky’s seminal novel on the human condition, this novel is not so much concerned with Good vs. Evil, as it is with internal versus external loci of control.  The atheist paints a nihilistic portrait of the bleak Tsarist environment, whilst his own fervently religious brother, alternately optimistic and despairing, sees only the Will of God behind all happenings, both positive and negative.  The eldest brother  is presented as a rake, who fiercely clashes with his simpleton father, over a woman.  The resulting conflict has deadly results, giving rise to the novel’s debates among the brothers on matters of free will and morality.

These are the reads which influenced me the strongest, over the past twelve months.

 

Sunshine Blogger Award

16

November 25, 2018, Prescott-

sunshine-blogger-award

The rules of this Awesome Sunshine Blogger Award are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging sites.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo on your site or on your post.

The questions:

 

  1. Are you the  jolly type or serious type personality,  and why ?

I am easy-going, most of the time, with a sense of humour about most situations. I am serious, when the situation calls for careful, sober behaviour.

2. When you are irritated, how crazed you can become ?

I am rarely driven to intense anger. Rape, child abuse and unlawful imprisonment are what make me angry, when I encounter them.  I would not allow myself to beat someone senseless, but would certainly pursue justice for a victim of such crimes.

3. What is your opinion on live in relationship ?

I believe in marriage.  Sex outside of marriage is wrong, except in cases of extreme chaos and massive casualties in a population, when people need to live together, for the sake of security.

4.   Your thoughts,when you realised that next minute you are going to die …

I have lived a wonderful life. My beloved is waiting, on the other side of the veil.

5. Can you tell me,what is the necessity for so many religions to come into the existence ?

There is a misconception, among most people, that each of the Divine Messengers is separate from all Others.  Each person thinks “his” or “her’ Messenger is the sole Voice of God.  Then, there are those who follow a variation of a revealed Faith- (Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Sunni, Shiite, Sufi, Theravada, Hinayana, etc.)  There is, in fact, one Spiritual Truth, which is revealed to the extent the people of the time can understand.

6.  What is the one fulfillment ,you demand from God ?

I demand nothing from God.  He is the Creator and I am one of His creatures.

 

7.  Do you Love & marry the person or Marry and then Love the person ?

I sense that, by “love”, you are referring to romance and sex.  I believe that sex should only happen after marriage.  I love several women, as friends.  I could be romantic with a single woman, but not involve myself sexually unless I married her.

8.  At what limit of your income,you feel satisfied ?

I am content with an income of U.S. $ 30-40K.  I would accept, and invest, more, of course.

 

9.  Which part of your childhood you cherish most ?

I enjoyed my middle childhood, ages 8-11, the most.

10.  What is/was most embarrassing moment in your life ?

Being set up by a small group of adults and teens, whilst taking over a supervisory role with two of the teens.  They were given money by unknown adults, to finance a get-away from residential school, on my watch.

11.   What is your favorite quote ?

“The Earth is but one country and mankind, its citizens.”-Baha’u’llah

Thank you, Philosophy through Photography

My nominees are:

stellabailey.wordpress.com

Somewhat Damaged

Sunshiny SA Site

Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

SHEILA RENEE PARKER

Book ‘Em, Jan O

psychologistmimi.wordpress.com

priscawriter.wordpress.com

Stories I’ve Never Told…

Victoria Ray

www.madekesiworld.com

 

Here are my questions.

  1.  What gets you up in the morning?
  2.  Where do you work, or go to school?  Is it far from your home?
  3.  What makes you continue, even in the face of trial?
  4.  What brings you the most joy?
  5.  What is your honest opinion of social media?
  6.  Do you have a role model?  If so, what about that person draws you in?
  7.  What have you learned from a setback?
  8.  What do you think your community needs most?  Your country?
  9.  Would you like to travel? To where?
  10.  Which is more urgent, fixing potholes in your city’s roads, or travel to Mars?
  11.  Which human quality do you find most appealing?  Why?

 

The Fast: Day 10- Justice

12

March 11, 2018, Prescott-

I haven’t done a whole lot, this weekend, and probably won’t do a whole lot during the first part of Spring Break.  It is a good idea to indulge the principle of rest.

This evening, though, I went to see “A Wrinkle In Time”, starring Oprah!  Ms. Winfrey was not the main point of the film, however, by a long shot.  Her credo of empowerment was prominent, though, and that’s always a good thing.

The plot line was true to the novel, as I remember it from the ’60’s.  The  film will not likely be up for any Oscars, but it worked, as a vehicle for showing a path to justice.  There was some violence, towards both the downtrodden, and at least one of the oppressors.  Overall, though, without revealing much more, the violence was minimal and there was no bloodshed.  It was, essentially, a 1960’s children’s story, reworked for the 2010’s.

Justice was served, in the end.  Justice, in the divinely distributed sense, is, according to Baha’u’llah, “The best beloved of all things in (God’s) sight”.

 

Insightful

3

November 25, 2016, Chula Vista-  Son is steadily healing and uses a “space boot” on his left foot, so he’s more mobile than a month ago.  Still, this is not the time for him to go back to full-on hiking mode, and this weekend will find me taking short, but beneficial walks, as I did this afternoon, on a loop of Rice Canyon Trail and the parallel Rancho del Rey Parkway.  It was fitting that I began at Discovery Park and ended at Explorer Park, both named by children of Chula Vista, and geared towards families.

Another aspect of the day was that I finished re-reading “The Celestine Prophecy”, a novel which speculates on the evolution of the human spirit.  It postulates nine insights, which are summarized at:

http://www.gurus.org/dougdeb/Courses/bestsellers/Celestine/Insights.htm.

There is an interesting mix of profundity (the insights and the challenges they present) and hokum (“The Mayans went to a specific spot near Iquitos, in the Peruvian Amazon, and built pyramids”; Peruvian agents broke into an American scientist’s home and stole his copies of the first two insights).  Nonetheless, each of the insights is compatible with my own Faith.  What is also true, though, is that the state of human consciousness described by the ninth insight is probably a good thousand years in the making. We could easily achieve the goals described by the first eight, in the meantime.

I am particularly interested in the notion that children deserve more respect than many are willing to give them.  Adults are seen by Redfield as exemplars and mentors, not as controllers. Also, speaking about anyone in the third person, when they are present, is correctly viewed by the author, James Redfield, as an onerous practice.  So, too, is the notion that an authority figure is needed to interpret Scripture to the laity.  This cornerstone of the concept of clerical primacy is challenged by Redfield, in the nine insights, and is the basis for the conflict in the story.  The near-infantilization of the human race is viewed as outmoded and evil.

I have gone through many of the personal growth dilemmas presented by Redfield, including a host of what he calls control dramas (Intimidator, self-pitier, interrogator and aloof).  Entire decades have seen me in self-pity mode, and a fair amount of my life has found me aloof.  There is also his concept of “addiction to another person”, which he views as a misguided attempt to unite a person’s male and female sides, by attachment to a person of the opposite gender.  The eighth insight prescribes a person finding those two sides, and making peace with both, within oneself, and being a platonic friend to members of the opposite gender, first, rather than “rushing into romance”.

So, much of what is found in these pages is what many of us are already doing in our lives.  It would have a fine thing, though, if I had realized, and practiced, these concepts, a long time ago.

Charades and Illusions

6

September 18, 2016, Prescott- Fall is coming.  Phoenix anticipates the last of its triple-digit days, for the year, will be this coming Wednesday.  That may, or may not, prove to be true.  We in Prescott have already had night temperatures below 40.

Fall was the season of my birth.  It is, thus, the main time of year that I take stock of who I am, as a human being, and what remains to be addressed, as I move further along, in the earthly classroom of living.

My parents were very much the voice of reason, and prepared each of us well, for the challenges they knew were going to throw themselves our way.  I was the one who had just a smidgen of faith in Deus ex maxina, supernatural rescuers and unicorns that one could ride to glory.  None of these ever got me anywhere. The rolled up sleeves, and willingness to watch, learn and work at least have enabled me to survive, to have had a loving marriage and to have raised a solid young man.

I did two things today, to give myself a push forward, in the reality department.  First, I moderated a faith meeting, helping to set short-term goals for our community.  Second, I called my satellite television provider, of 20 years, cancelled the service and boxed up the receiver and its accouterments. This last is an acknowledgement that a new television, right now, would be an extravagance, at a time when there are other priorities- such as exercise, service activities and my son’s preparation for a change of duty station.

Last night, I finished reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude”,  Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s tale of a family which wallowed in self-imposed isolation, incestuous relationships and delusions of grandeur.  It is  one of the most intense novels of the 20th Century, presenting a northeast Colombian town (fictional, of course), from the time of the country’s independence to the early twentieth century, in all its political acrimony and struggles to reconcile spiritual mythology and paranormal occurrences with the encroachment of international economics and trade.  No member of La Familia Buendia was ever really happy.

I thought of the illusions into which I bought, in my own life, and how much sweeter the ups and downs of reality have been for me, all through my married life and (for the most part) in the years since, than any of the flights of fancy that characterized my earlier years, or the brief periods, in 2011 and 2013, when I dealt with relapses into personal chaos.

So, on I will go, honouring my family, being present for those around me and building new friendships, both in real time and online.  Happy Autumn, one and all.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Nearly a year ago, north of Watson Lake, Prescott

 

 

 

“Until All Death Is Gone”

8

August 17, 2016, Prescott- The rain today, has been almost incessant, both at my workplace and around my neighbourhood.  Some dry spots exist,though, among the microclimates of Prescott:  The southwest forest, the grasslands around Glassford Hill and, at the far east end of our county, in Cordes Lakes.  I pulled bus duty, after school, and had a fine time juggling a handheld stop sign, a large umbrella and my waterproof bag, containing the clipboard on which I was to record bus arrival times.  All went smoothly, with parents, children and bus drivers following my instructions.

This evening, after our Wednesday evening devotional, I finished reading “The Shack”, a spiritually-themed novel by William P. Young, who tells the story of a man with a troubled past, whose youngest child is missing and presumed dead.  The man returns to the place where a serial killer is believed to have brought his little girl, and has an intense encounter with God, as a Christian might imagine Him.

There is a moment, towards the end of the man’s Divine experience, when God reveals a song, which He says was written by the child.   The song’s refrain is as follows:

Come kiss me wind and take my breath

Till you and I are one

And we will dance among the tombs

Until all death is gone.”

This morning, I experienced a dream in which I was in a retail work situation.  I was improperly dressed for the job, and somehow had driven my car into the store.  When I got into the car, to go back home and change, the Customer Service lady, standing with a clipboard, gasped “You can’t get away with THAT!”

I woke, and my mind went back to every time in my life that I had made a serious error in judgment.  Slowly getting dressed for the day, I took care to remind myself that things were slowly and carefully coming together in my life.  There have been many fine experiences, greatly overshadowing any setbacks.  The day went just fine, even with a few challenges, faced and overcome.

I mention these, as the main character in “The Shack”, one Mackenzie Allan “Mack” Phillips, was, like me, a person who spent much of his life focusing on his mistakes and on how deficient he was, compared with how he saw others.  Thus, the course on which his life proceeded was meant to lead to his encounter with God- Who is presented as a Trinity: the stern, and occasionally derisive, Father; the loving Son, Jesus the Christ and the inspirational, ever-present Holy Spirit.  Each added to Mack’s growth and presented a model of forgiveness and wholeness.

I think of my own relationship with God.  He has shown me, through experiences both glorious and jarring, that I am a worthwhile child of His, no less capable of doing good in the world, than anyone else.  Mack learned that his human icons were fallible; so have I.  None of us is any less lovable, to our fellow humans or to the Celestial, for that fallibility.

So, it is my wish, hope and desire that each of us can see the Day, when we work to establish unity in the world, with a view towards the time when “all death is gone”.

 

 

Dribs and Drabs, On A Final March Morning

12

March 31, 2016, Prescott- I woke this morning, to an insistence from the Universe, that I not move too quickly, at first.  So, the shower was leisurely, a “hit the ground running” job request was declined (Throwing myself together, for a forty-five minute drive, at the last minute, would not have ended well, this morning.)

Some readers think I’m too self-centered.  I guess it can look that way, from a distance.  Truth is, not an hour goes by, that thoughts and prayers aren’t with someone less fortunate.  My thoughts right now are with a young lady whom I regard as a niece, dealing with her second severe loss, in less than a year, and with three young people, in different parts of this continent, whose financial woes are presented as intractable.  While I wish I had the resources to get several people straight, my inner Dave Ramsey gets channeled and I can best send them the spiritual energy to make do with what is, and build from there, as I have made myself do- thanks to two men named Dave.

The March lion is a bit tamer today.  It’s a bit cool, but that will change, drastically, as April arrives.  We’re anticipating temps in the mid-80’s here, next week.  Water conservation, at least in my apartment, continues unabated.

My Reading List for April is,at present:  Continuing, and finishing, “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself:  How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One”, by Dr. Joe Dispenza ( This is a “get out of your comfort zone” book, lent me by a dear friend); “Atlantis:  Insights From A Lost Civilization”, by Shirley Andrews (This one relies on actual science to extrapolate how things were, in that fabled place.); “Marco Polo:  The Journey That Changed The World”, by John Man (also relying on historical records to tell the story of the man who helped get Europe out of its medieval doldrums); “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”, by Benjamin Wallace (This is the last of the books given me, by my paternal uncle, and weaves a classic tale of fraud, perpetrated on a naive and greedy man of means); “All The Light We Cannot See”, by Anthony Doerr (This is a tale of two young people, in the Brittany of World War II, who are brought together, in the most harrowing of circumstances.)  These, and study of a Baha’i text, will take up my reading April.

The rest of today will be getting errands done, and catching up with friends in town.  The lamb is rearing its head, so I must get going.

2016 Winter Reads

7

January 7, 2016, Prescott- I haven’t posted a reading list in quite a while, so here goes.

Reads in progress:  Terra in Cognita, William Barnes;  Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin; Keep Moving, Dick Van Dyke; The Dinosaur Heresies, Robert T. Bakker; The Witches:  Salem, 1692, Stacy Schiff.  The last two are tomes, so they will take longer than the others.

January-February:  The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary R. Renard; Marco Polo, John Man; John Adams, David McCullough.

March- Sphere, Michael Crichton; All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr; Prairie Erth, William Least Heat-Moon.

These are all fascinating books, of various lengths and levels of intensity.  I will also be adding books to my Kindle, the efforts of Carsten Aretz and Ally Larkin, as well as anything that Jeff Markowitz and John E. Glaze come up with, in the near future.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 285: Kombucha and Quixote

4

September 8, 2015, Prescott- I have a couple of pieces of starter for kombucha.  It is a sort of fermented tea that, combined with organic, unrefined sugar, and mixed with the starter, will be a very strong digestive aid. Penny and I made it, around 2006-7, and used it for both of our abdominal well-being.  I will do this again.

This, and milk-based kefir, were the topics of a Slow-Food Prescott gathering, this evening.  Of course, there were a wealth of GMO-Free and organic dishes, as part of the festivities.  Given the pressure that our U.S. House of Representatives, and various conservative judges, around the globe, are putting on us to force the public to buy Genetically-Modified products, I think we need to have more events like this, to safeguard our health.  Someone asked, not long ago, if I would go to jail for my beliefs.  This is one area where I would do so.  No one tells me what to eat.

I heard on the radio that this year marks the 400th Anniversary of the publication of “Don Quixote de la Mancha”.  Miguel de Cervantes wrote of the consequences of a belatedly examined life, and of how a man’s not living his dream, until late in life, leads to so many bouts of foolishness.  Don Quixote’s idealization of the chivalrous life is not so different from the modern day fascination with Super Heroes. I was surprised, as an adolescent, when none of the Classics Illustrated comic books, which I relished, included a version of “Don Quixote”.  I didn’t read the novel until my third year in university, and I read it in Spanish.

I wonder at times, whether all we do to counteract the power structure in this world is actually a tad quixotic.  My heart, though, tells me “No, keep going.  Our children deserve a better, less materialistic system.”  So, onward I will tilt my lance.

Reynaldo Perez D.C.

Chiropractic in Florida

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