Monday, December 31, 2018

In Your Dreams: A bedtime serenade – The Bach Arioso

For Jennifer on her birthday, from Geoff & Dad

By Geoffrey Dean

[Originally published on Jennifer Neumann’s birthday two years ago: December 31, 2016, without a subtitle.]

A few months ago, roughly coinciding with our daughter Vera’s arrival, I put together a playlist of classical pieces that I considered suitably sleep-inducing. After mining my own memory for appropriate selections, I enriched our nighttime listening repertoire with a few “readymade” albums, such as “More Bedtime Serenades.” This compilation came up as I searched for one of my favorite pieces by J. S. Bach, the “Arioso,” which is perhaps best-known and most widely performed today as a cello solo with piano accompaniment. This is the version heard on More Bedtime Serenades, in an interpretation by Janos Starker that to me brings home the sense of Arioso as “almost an aria” – a piece striving towards full-fledged aria status, and almost getting there. Starker’s is a lyrical interpretation that still retains a hint of the spoken quality that was also an important element of Baroque music and the “rhetoric” behind it.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [26]

Scouting Day

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Margot was asleep on the couch when Charlie got back. He poured a large drink and walked out onto the back porch. It was a cool evening and the clear sky offered billions of stars.
    He lay back in the sun chair, held the cold glass to the lump at his right temple and stared upward. The fact that he was still alive and Rufino was dead hadn’t escaped him. He knew that but for the grace of God, the shark chum they would be chopping up tonight would contain himself as well as Rufino.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Eleven Years Ago Today: My “New Ten Commandments” (second edition)

The New Ten Commandments
by Mitchell Lazear
By Moristotle

[Originally published on December 29, 2007, without an image.
    Original Note: After drafting the first version of this, on Wednesday (December 26, 2007), and publishing a slightly revised version the next day, I have continued to think about and revise it. I put a few changes into Thursday’s post later the same day and yesterday (complete with footnotes, which became harder and harder to read). I decided to go with “editions” instead and not use footnotes. And I have restored Thursday’s post to the way it was when I first published it.
    Though chastened initially “to recognize [the list’s] inadequacy,” I’m feeling better and better about it now, especially since I’ve received some strong endorsements from friends privately.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [25]

Bad Moon Rising

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Juan got the phone call about six-thirty. An old woman who lived next to the warehouse and was on Juan’s payroll had been watching for the boat with the drugs, and it had arrived. He phoned Charlie. “The boat is here. The boat with the drugs just pulled into port.”

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

From drawing to portrait: The art of poet Eric Meub

1882 caricature
of Robert Browning
from Punch Magazine
“They respect, in their different ways, the line”

By Moristotle

On my morning walk yesterday, as I contemplated the gift of Eric Meub’s Poetry & Portraits column, I was struck by another gift: the realization that Susan C. Price’s drawings (which she insists they are, and not portraits) become portraits through their transformation, in Eric’s verse, into representations of recognizable persons. Thus, the column name, “Poetry & Portraits,” and the statement, “Drawing by Susan C. Price,” are both accurate. Another gift here was the feeling of relief I had that Eric and I weren’t really misrepresenting Susan in continuing to use the column name. And I hope Susan will accept this.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Poetry & Portraits: Screwge

Drawing by Susan C. Price

By Eric Meub

Poor Santa Claus and Frosty, dead and gone,
Lie crumpled on the early morning lawn,
More proof that neither oxygen nor pumps
Can salvage Christmas: Mother’s in the dumps.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Adventures from Bulgaria: Summer in the Mountains – Days 12 & 13

Click to enlarge
On under clear, blue skies

By Valeria Idakieva

[Sequel to “Days 10 & 11,” published on July 30.]

The morning after another wonderful day in the Rhodope Mountains woke me up with a clear, blue sky and gentle, soft sunshine streaming through the window. I had the usual morning cup of coffee and hit the road, filling my head with pleasant memories and my lungs with fresh air. The mountain was revealing a softer beauty now – some houses of a nearby village perching on a hill, stacks of hay, rounded slopes, trees.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Roger’s Reality – The Jasper Chronicles: Straw Hat

By Roger Owens

Jasper, Florida, is a little hole in the road near the confluence of Highways 41 and 129 in North Florida, in the shady area somewhere between Live Oak Florida and Statenville, Georgia. It is the county seat of Hamilton County, and today it owns the dubious distinction as the home of Hamilton County Correctional Institution, the site of recent gang riots. Hamilton Correctional has boosted the population of Jasper, as of the last census, to the astonishing number of four thousand, five hundred, and forty-six souls; I don’t know whether the inmate population is counted as real people or not. The growth is astonishing because, back in the 1960s, the population of this backwater was around six hundred. I know for a fact, however, that the black population in what might have been considered the “greater Jasper area” in today’s parlance was not counted back then; Jasper was a “sundown town.” Anyone driving in to town on County Road 6, from east or west, would see signs that stated, in plain block letters, “NIGGER. DON’T LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON YOU HERE.” The black population of the town of Jasper, Florida, was, precisely, zero.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Loneliest Liberal: Dog speaking

By James Knudsen

Oooof. I’m going to have a talk with that cat. Whatever he’s eating is...don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious, but I gotta be able to go places without having to worry about letting loose with a little bark from the other end. And I don’t live alone. Every time I fark, The Philosopher, oooh, the look he gives me. Does he really think what comes outta him is rainbows and puppies? Actually, that’s not a good analogy. I was a puppy, and I know how disgusting we can be. Cutest things on the planet, am I right? But, totally disgusting. When I was a puppy I’d sometimes chew on books. Gross.

One Year Ago Today: Unique new evidence for divine intervention

Remember: “God” backwards spells “Dog”

By Moristotle

[The first official “poop patrol” report for the Collington Farms development in Mebane, North Carolina, was published on December 22, 2017. During the year ending today, Siegfried and I have collected approximately 1,144 piles of poop. The number is approximate because errors are inevitable, and it is occasionally unclear whether one pile resulted from only one poop, or whether two piles were produced by a single poop.]

By the half-way point of our walk this morning (about 3/4 of a mile into it), Siegfried and I had found (and I had collected) seven piles of poop (presumably dog poop). Hot damn! We had just tied the record set only a few days ago. It had more often been four or five piles, sometimes six.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Forty-Five [plus Six] Years Ago Today: Happy Birthday!

By Moristotle

[Originally published on December 21, 2012, as part of that year’s regularly scheduled Fish for Friday column.]

Limerick of the Week
Forty-five [plus six] years ago today, my son
Was born; I’d passed [along] some genes, Nature’d won,
    Life [it] would proceed,
    Nature [would] succeed....
Happy birthday to [you], my son, have fun!
Copyright © 2012, 2018 by Moristotle

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The ages of man

They form a palindrome

Today’s palindromic wisdom was recently discovered in the lost manuscripts of the author of “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”....

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [24]

From Good to Bad

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Charlie and Margot returned to the Customs warehouse at ten minutes to the hour. Margot joked, “It shouldn’t take two hours to decide if he wants to talk to us or not.”
    When they walked into the warehouse, Jennifer was waiting for them. “Mr. Morales would like to hear more about your business idea. If you’ll follow me.” She turned and started across the wide expanse of concrete toward a set of stairs on the other side.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Thunder Down Under: Jet airplanes for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Western Australia

A Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24
By Vic Midyett

In my February article on the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, I reported that beginning in the second half of this year three new jet airplanes would be delivered to the RFDS in Western Australia, and one of them has been delivered to our local office, located at a small airport 20 minutes from where we live – Jandakot Airport.

Monday, December 17, 2018

One Hundred, Fifteen Years Ago Today: December 17, 1903

By Moristotle

[A visit to the Wright Brothers memorial at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in October 1986 unexpectedly provoked me to write a poem, and the arrival of December 17 again renews the thrill of the remembered occasion. Originally published on December 17, 2006, during this blog’s first year, without the image.]

Oh, calm brothers, a thousand glides
off Kill Devil Hill and you know
your Flyer’s cambered wings can catch enough

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [23]

Blue Monday

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Juan waited for the guard to unlock the gate. He could see Tai’s black Town Car parked in front of the office, so he knew he was there.
    The guard wanted to see his pass. Instead, Juan flashed his badge. Few people ever read the bottom part where it said “Retired.” The guard opened the gate without another word.
    The secretary was another story. “You cannot see Mr. Tai without an appointment.”

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [22]


By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

After Charlie explained to Howard and Tommy about the bomb, Margot made snacks and they moved to the back porch. The two visitors seemed to take the bomb scare as a matter of fact and showed little concern that they might be in danger. For some reason, Charlie found that worrisome; after all, it’s not every day that a bomb is planted in a friend’s car.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [21]

A Day of Surprises

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Charlie was on his second glass of water after three aspirins. He had remembered too late why he hated drinking wine. It was the mother of all hangovers. He had awoken in an empty bed, and when he came out of the bedroom, Margot handed him water and aspirins, and he headed to the couch. That was as far as he had gotten, and now he lay there waiting to die.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Poetry & Portraits: Penny

Drawing by Susan C. Price

By Eric Meub

[Originally published on March 11, 2017]

Behind us naps the Byzantine and Belle
Époque of the Excelsior Hotel;
before us, Adriatic shallows flood
a Canaletto flat of sand and mud.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [20]

Friday Is Fish Night

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Charlie was trying to talk Margot into staying home. “We eat fish every Friday. Let’s cook something here for a change and go for fish tomorrow night.”
    “No, Charlie. I’m going out for dinner; you can stay home if you want. And what I mean by home is your home on the mountain.”

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The elders giggle

By Victor L. Midyett

I watched the American PBS news one afternoon a few weeks ago. They discussed several observations of people being fearful and not willing to connect or talk with their neighbors anymore, or urban dwellers v. rural dwellers. Closer to home, communities v. communities, organizations v. organizations, friends v. friends, family v. family, the employed v. the unemployed. Perhaps even churches v. churches.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [19]

Rufino Makes a Move

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Rufino had been awake for hours. The fear of being caught by the Taiwanese was becoming a handicap. It was filling his mind – his every wakening thought was about dying. Every sound and every person who looked too long in his direction became a danger to him. If he were Edgar he could go to the States, or if Paulo he could return to Nicaragua, but his home was Costa Rica, and he had no other place to go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Paris Journal: Kew Gardens remembered through notes & photographs

Victoria Gate to Kew Gardens
June 20, 2017

By Moristotle

[I was, of course, remiss not to include this account here shortly after our return from Paris after June 2017. I publish it today because today a couple of my friends are visiting Kew Gardens!
    And, in case you’re wondering what a visit to Kew Gardens has to do with this Paris journal, please be reminded that Carolyn and I took a four-day side trip to the British Isles last year to visit our Welsh friend Penelope Griffiths, who writes our column “Penny for Her Thoughts.”

For our visit to Kew Gardens today, we were out of our hotel for about seven hours, catching the 65 bus [near the Hotel Xanadu in Ealing] toward Kingston at around 9:30 a.m.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Thunder Down Under:
Spirit of determination

By Vic Midyett

I had breakfast with a friend a few weeks ago, after which we went for a walk along the Swan River, which runs through Perth and spills out at Fremantle into the Indian Ocean.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [18]

Walking Dead

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Rufino opened his eyes and fear gripped him. That last thing he remembered was being hit by a bullet and falling backward. He had been wearing a lifejacket in case they found that rat Charlie, and it must have saved his life. But how did he get to be in a hospital?
    The nurse saw that he was awake and came to his bedside. “How are you feeling? You are very lucky.”

Friday, November 30, 2018

Joy in the art of acrylic pouring

By Linda K. Stout

While I know a few women of retirement age like me who become quite stellar artists late in life, most of us just become joyful. Joyful I am with my acrylic pouring. Joyful are the thousands of gray-haired ladies everywhere, who take art lessons and happily build their skills and display their work at local shows for amateurs. Over time, I began to see joy in these pieces of art. I have come to realize that everyone who creates is an artist. While there is an approximate agreement of what quality is, that need not block the joy that resides in each piece.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [17]

The Gang’s All Here

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Margot pulled into the parking lot at the San Jose Customs docks. Trucks were parked in front of all the loading doors so she parked next to the stairs going into the warehouse. She had only a small box so it didn’t matter. A man at the table inside asked what she needed. Margot asked for Jennifer Araya.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Meet John Shelton Reed

Holy smoke

By Moristotle

Who do you know who has given a keynote address at a barbecue camp?
    Right, you don’t know anyone who has done that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [16]

War and Bedfellows

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Margot was having her coffee on the patio and enjoying a beautiful sunny morning after a rain-filled night. After Charlie rented the house on the mountain he spent very little time at her place. They were becoming more like colleagues than lovers. It made Margot sad, for she had grown fond of the old Charlie. It was as if that Charlie had died in the ocean that horrible night and a new Charlie had taken his place. What hurt more than anything else was that she was responsible for the new Charlie.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Roger’s Reality: The boys remembered in jasmine

By Roger Owens

I love the smell of jasmine. It’s blooming late this season. We have several types here at our Florida home. We have Star jasmine trees, Confederate jasmine, and not a few of the ubiquitous “night blooming” species that grace our yard, effortlessly shouldering the feathery weight of their melodious Latin appellation: cestrum nocturnum. Their myriad perfumes permeate our home, where we spend many hours each day and evening outside, under an overhang, enjoying the natural beauty of our life here. Sights, sounds, and, they say, particularly smells, can bring back memories very strongly.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [15]

Tools of War

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Charlie’s first move was to get out of the hotel. He rented a house in the mountains west of Puntarenas, about six miles north of Margot’s house. It was a short drive into town, but the house was isolated and private, with very fast internet. He rented two dogs and installed cameras to cover the road coming up the mountain. If his friends were being followed, he would know about it. It was reasonable to assume that the government kept track of Margot and her friends, maybe not all the time, but at least once in a while.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Loneliest Liberal:
Sampling the holiday seasoning

By James Knudsen

There is no avoiding it, we are officially in “The Holiday Season.” Let’s take at look at what people are doing around the country.

In Wichita, Kansas, recently defeated gubernatorial candidate Chris Kobach, upon hearing that the lime jello salad mold had been made with “olive oil mayonnaise,” was heard grousing, “I knew I detected a definite ‘ethnic’ note.”

Friday, November 23, 2018

Four Years Ago Today: In appreciation of Tom Lowe

By Susan Werner

[Originally published on November 23, 2014. Tom Lowe, the author of yesterday’s column, had died a month earlier, on October 24. The author submitted this tribute under these words:

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Six Years Ago Today: Let’s talk turkey

By Tom Lowe

[Originally published on November 22, 2012. Corrected a typo.]

Turkey Day was how I thought of Thanksgiving when I was young. The odor of the bird roasting, helping prepare the homemade dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and yams. Our family was spread out over most of the West, so the scene is just my parents and myself. It was the next day that I really waited for – turkey sandwiches, really pretty simple: bread, mayonnaise, and meat.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Six Years Ago Today: Interview of Whitman Reardon, MD

On medical doctoring

By Moristotle

[Originally published on November 21, 2012. Better photo of Dr. Reardon today.]

When we last saw (or were seen by) our primary care physician, we asked her if we could interview her. We wanted to provide our readers a medical doctor's first-person account, so we were ecstatic when she agreed!
    Whitman Reardon, MD, is an internist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she practices office-based medicine.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Six Years Ago Today: What is the cause of Heart Disease?

By Jim Rix

[Originally published on November 20, 2012.]

First let’s be clear on just what “Heart Disease” is, because some people confuse it with its consequences (heart attack, stroke, etc.) and/or its risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.).

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [14]

Planning for War

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

“Okay,” Howard said, “what do you want to know?”
    Charlie set his coffee cup back on the table. “I understand how government officials can get caught up in the big money of shark finning, but we’re talking about drugs and murder. That isn’t something you can hide or justify.”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [13]


By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Charlie was close to dying by the time they reached the hospital. The six-hour trip by boat and then car hadn’t helped his condition. The doctor told them if they could keep him alive for the next 24 hours he would make it, but there was a very good chance he wouldn’t. They gave him IVs and kept him covered with warming blankets all night long. Margot stayed by his side the entire time.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [12]

Deep Blue Sea

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Charlie had grabbed the four lifejackets stored at the back of the boat and jumped. The water was warm when he entered it, but it became colder and colder the longer he was there. The boat had been moving south with Cocos to its left, and that was the way he headed.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Poetry & Portraits: Odysseus

Drawing by Susan C. Price

By Eric Meub

[Originally published on February 11, 2017]

His every sentence pitted mortal thought
against that ruthless, terminating dot,
as if annihilation might precede
a new Aeneid no one needs to read.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [11]


By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?” An earlier version of this chapter appeared on September 30, 2017, when the book’s working title was “Unspoken War.”]

Margot dropped Charlie off at the little hotel two doors down from the bar. He had called Edgar and told him he needed one more trip before he could sell back his share of the boat for twenty-thousand. But he would be willing to meet them at the lawyer’s office, sign, and place the money and papers in escrow. The papers would state that it was his last trip and upon his return the boat would be theirs and the money his. Edgar tried to talk him out of doing another trip, but in the end, he gave up and rejoiced in the knowledge it would be the last time he would have to deal with Charlie.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [10]


By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

They tied up at the same pier they had left from three weeks before. Charlie found walking on dry land again strange to him at first. A person got used to the rolling of the boat. With each step back on land, he would be waiting for the roll.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [9]

Fishing Day One

By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Charlie was dressed and ready to go when the knock came. He opened the door and turned out the light. Edgar motioned his head toward the lobby. “Let’s go!”
    The three left their keys on the desk as they walked past. Rufino looked like death warmed over. It would be his last drunk for a while and he had made it a good one. But Charlie was smart enough to keep his mouth shut.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [8]


By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

Margot placed the cell phone back in the drawer and came back to her couch and glass of wine. She knew she was using Charlie, but it was more than that. Despite the few years age difference, she was very attracted to him. She was also fond of him and knew that what Charlie was doing was important. It was the last chance to turn around the wholesale killing of every shark in the ocean.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Thunder Down Under:
Survival – separate yet together

By Vic Midyett

“In all my put together born days” is an old Southern (U.S.) saying that I suspect is not used much, if any, anymore. It means, “in my whole life.”

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Fiction: Finsoup (a novel) [7]


By edRogers

[Reviewed here on the novel’s publication day, October 6, 2018: “Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble store near you?”]

The boat was docked at a pier down from Mr. Tai’s warehouse. They were adding a radio and tracking device. Charlie wasn’t sure, but he was thinking Mr. Tai didn’t trust his new partners, or maybe he didn’t trust anybody.
    In fact, the law required the tracking device on all boats sailing in Costa Rican waters. But Charlie was right about Mr. Tai, he didn’t trust anybody.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Loneliest Liberal:
Tears and more tears

By James Knudsen

Ask about me of those who knew me as a child and I imagine you will get a variety of responses. Ask me and I will tell you that I was a crier, a cry baby, an easily bruised tomato, a flower that wilted under extremely mild heat. I cried over just about anything. Some of the tears came from the usual childhood traumas – bee stings, crashing a bicycle, crashing a skateboard – and these may be viewed as reasonable, normal, perhaps even healthy responses.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Every day’s a gift when you’re over...

By Dr. Ely Lazar & Dr. Adele Thomas

[Republished here by permission of the authors from their “Lifestyle Tips for Over 50s,” affiliated with their website “Passionate Retirees,” September 3, 2018.]

Back in 1973, Alexander Leaf, a medical doctor, travelled to various areas of the world to study people who were living beyond 100. His article “Every Day Is A Gift When You Are Over 100” was featured at the time in National Geographic Magazine. Dr Leaf attempted to discover what was the secret to longevity in these communities.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Last Walk

In remembrance of a dog named Gretchen

By Karen Abbey

My oldest son, Mark, lives in a mobile home park in Cayucos, California. The home next to his had been lived in for years by an older couple and their dog Gretchen. The wife died last year, so the 90-year-old man, Ray, and his dog – Gretchen, a 12-year-old Border Collie – live alone.