By Morris Dean
A month ago, Contributing Editor motomynd, our Green 101 editor, suggested that we establish "a regular update on what one might call feature character stories." The idea instantly appealed, and I started planting. Today we see the first sprouts.
Susan C. Price at the easle
We interviewed Susan Price on her art on October 10, and we are delighted that she has agreed to let this column feature one of her drawings or paintings each month.
Allen Crowder in the ring
We interviewed Allen on October 31. His next mixed martial arts fight is scheduled for January 19, in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
"King of Jacksonville" is the name of the event and the title we'll be vying for. I have been working on my cardio and boxing. It should be a great fight for the spectators. My opponent is William Baptiste. [If you take the link for the event, you can see each fighter's stats.]The Rogers in Costa Rica
We interviewed Ed Rogers on December 5 about his and Janie's emigration to Costa Rica. He promised to keep us up to date on life there.
By the way, Ed is only three days older than I am; he turned 70 two days ago. I wish him a belated "Happy Birthday."
Well Morris, I wish there were a lot of exciting things to bring to this update, but Costa Rica is much slower than the States. We are picking up a little Spanish, but it seems we are teaching the Ticos more English than they are teaching us Spanish. The language of love and caring is spoken from the heart and is very easily understood. On Christmas day we had eight adults and a house full of kids. My wife cooked an American dinner,complete with cornbread dressing and fried chicken. (A turkey costs a hundred bucks here, which explains the chicken.) Only one of our guests spoke any English at all, and it was one of the best Christmases I have ever had. We have found our way around the town and the locals have excepted us as part of the community—the Spanish will come in time.
I have found time to write one more chapter in my book—up to 25 now.
Happy 70th tomorrow.
Pura Vida from Ed & Janie in CR
Pineapple Girl blog
We interviewed Jennifer and Matt Neumann on their boating life on October 3.
We brought the boat back to Willow Berm in the Delta on Tuesday, January 1. We pulled into our slip just as it got dark and were greeted by our friendly neighbor, who helped us tie up. We had spent the month of December at our old marina in San Mateo, which is conveniently near our home and facilitated our refinishing the floors in forward and main cabins. That was a long and tedious project but the results are great, though we would like to add another coat or two to the two we have already put down.Jim Rix south of Lake Tahoe
We also completed a project to seal some cracks in the floor corners in the shower, though it still needs some cosmetic work. Matt received some new A/V equipment and we have some fun ahead of us running the wiring for the new speakers. We will also soon receive some parts from Ideal Windlass that will give us a remote control and power down—once we install them, that is! We hope to have some time to get out and use the boat in between wrapping up all these projects.
Though we probably won't make it to the boat for a few weeks due to a lot of other commitments the next few weeks. We are enjoying the boat though, as always.
Jim has been referred to many times on the blog in connection with the publication of his true crime book, Jingle Jangle: The Perfect Crime Turned Inside Out, and we interviewed him on reforming our criminal justice system on September 9. Since then, he has contributed an article on what he terms the cause of heart disease (on November 20) and inspired another on a related subject, by William Silveira, on December 25. Look for another provocative article from Jim here on his 70th birthday. (He's one week younger than me.)
Chuck Smythe at the keyboard or in the wilds
Chuck has published two articles on the blog, including a fascinating description on October 2 of preparing to give a recital of some Johann Sebastian Bach on November 10.
The recital was in the depths of the first big, cold snowstorm of the season. Many people didn’t show, including a performer who was going to do a favorite Mompou. Alas! Just a couple of dozen of us in a cold, drafty chapel. Still, some good music was made. Harry Buss, one of the professionals among us, did some extraordinary Debussy and Ravel. I played the Prelude and Fugue in B-flat minor from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, Book I. The Prelude was as tragic, and as harmonically stunning, as I’d hoped. I played the Fugue as a quiet, thoughtful calm after the storm. Or tried: a piece so formally convoluted is a hard sell to interpret. At least it was accurate and—I think—musically convincing. Next up is (shudder) Beethoven’s Appassionata. Good luck with that, as they say....
|Ralph with his ancestor|
Ralph Earle (1660-1757)
Ralph was interviewed on November 28 on the subject of poetry in Sufism. His roots go deep.
I continue to ply my weekday trade as an Information Architect, designing documentation for IBM's big commercial software programs, and maintain my poise and equilibrium with daily meditation at sunrise. Recently I put my skills as a poet-turned-engineer to good use in stringing up holiday lights for a New Year's Eve Sufi dance.
At different times of the day I read the Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (early in the morning to spark my meditation), poems of Rumi (to keep my spirits up), Michael Chabon's new novel Telegraph Avenue (at bedtime), and whenever there's a break in the action, The Hungry Ear, Kevin Young's anthology of food and drink poetry.
In preparation for publication is a manuscript of my poems, loosely structured on the rhythms of chaos and stillness over the course of life. Last summer my friend Judith and I discovered the Old Quaker Burying Ground in Leicester, Massachusetts, where five generations of my ancestors are buried.
|UNCG Music Building|
André hasn't joined the staff but he has contributed a column, on September 29's harvest moon. An even bigger contribution to me personally was his inspiring me to write sestinas, and my first attempt (published on November 5) included him as a character. His most recent sestina will be published here later this month. André is enrolled in a doctoral program in keyboard performance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
I know I've been AWOL for a while. I plead for your understanding. If I may sum it up in two words: finals week. My load after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend has been tremendous, and not just because of my own classes. I received a promotion this year for my teaching job.motomynd's latest crazy stunt
I am now Coordinator of Class Piano, which means I am in charge of supervising, supporting, and training (if needed) the other graduate students who are teaching this course. Some weeks, this additional duty is light, but in exchange, others are very heavy. At the end of the semester, the coordinator is in charge of running all of the Piano Proficiency exams, which is in addition to the exams of my own students. Most days, my inbox has had no fewer than 30 emails from students and other teachers that needed to be addressed immediately. All of this is occuring while I was preparing for my own exams and piano jury performances for the faculty....
Late in December I heard from motomynd that he was "off to Virginia until Friday evening so will be offline until then. Two photo gigs and have to do an assessment of an estate I'm probably going to buy to resell." Of course he was going by car, right? The weather!
But two days later:
Morris, safely back to North Carolina. Words of wisdom: There is a reason they don't recommend motorcycles for winter riding, especially when ice is involved. If I try that stunt again I may have to add a set of trainer wheels or some other sort of outrigger for stability.Jonathan Price at the movies
Jon first appeared on the blog in an interview on the upcoming presidential election, on October 23. His prediction of the outcome was accurate. Since then, we were fortunate that he agreed to join the staff as a contributing editor and be the primary contributor to the regular column Sunday Review. His most recent movie review (of the 2012 film Hitchcock) appeared yesterday.
Tom Lowe in Berkeley
Contributing Editor Tom Lowe came on board with the two other original contributing editors and has since been interviewed (on September 26 about the upcoming presidential election) and written several articles (including ones for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year's). He has also given me much sage advice, including the recommendation of James Knudsen....
James Knudsen on the stage and at the range
James's first appearance, too, was in an interview, on December 12, on a topic that materialized soon thereafter: joining the staff as a contributing editor to host the regular monthly column "Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal." His first article (on December 22) was on gun owners' owning of the gun issue.
Geoffrey Dean traveling in Europe
We interviewed Geoff on January 2 on the Ardenza Foundation. He has written a dispatch from Rome to be published here on January 12. Here's an excerpt:
Having decided to spend the first week of 2013 in Italy, we left for Rome on an almost-empty late-afternoon flight from Sofia on Dec. 31st. A bus from Fiumicino Airport and the A subway from the Termini train station got us painlessly to Via Ottaviano, where we had chosen a hostel within walking distance of the Vatican, Castel Sant’Angelo, and the piazzas on the other side of the Tevere (Tiber) River. Our New Year’s Eve walking tour first took us by St. Peter’s Square, where a modest line was starting to form for the overnight prayer gathering, down Via della Conciliazione and onto the Vittorio bridge for our first view of the round Sant’Angelo castle as we crossed to the other side of the river. [This character update was added on January 11.]Jack Cover making happy
On November 7, we interviewed Jack on living with kidney cancer. Excerpt from Jack's regular status report to his friends:
My oncologist is happy. My cardiologist is happy. I live to make my doctors happy.Ken Marks at large
The CT scan came back about as good as could be expected. A few tumors were reduced and the others stayed the same. It is wonderful to have your oncologist jumping up and down with glee.
My heart is misbehaving. Thank goodness, only worrying about my renal cancer was getting boring.
I was recently having atrial fibrillation, but I am on afib medicines that seem to be bringing it under control. Being in afib meant that the top of my heart was misfiring and bringing my heart beat from a normal of low 50s to high 150s. The crazy thing was that I did not have the decency to feel bad, as apparently most afib patients do. I did find myself breathless on going up to the second floor, but I find myself breathless when around my beautiful wife all the time. [This character update was added on January 11.]
Last week Ken resigned his position as a contributing editor to Moristotle & Co. We are grateful for the positive contributions he made to the blog during his time with us. Ken's photographic treasures continue on display at flickr.com. We wish him well.
|A visitor to Steve's balcony|
Steve was with me from the first day I blogged. In fact, we started what has become "Moristotle & Co." together. The oldest post in the archive, dated May 28, 2006 and titled "Photo of the Day," was posted by Steve. When I recently offered Steve a monthly column, in which perhaps to publish his short stories and excerpts from his novels, he declined—only for now, I hope:
When we first published the novels on Amazon, I was full of piss and vinegar to get the word out and expand my presence on the web. Blogs, Facebook, etc. I have lost the desire to continue with that. I seldom do much promoting other than to offer free copies occasionally. There are only a handful of blogs that I read, one of which is yours. My balcony blog is the only one I update with any consistency. I have few visitors to it, but have no interest in gaining more. I haven't become a hermit, but I'm at the point where I'm comfortable._______________
Copyright © 2013 by Morris Dean