An Invitation to Storytime!

Following my discussion related to digital vs. material books in a previous post, several readers responded with comments saying they also prefer the joy of holding, touching, fingering actual books of the paper-and-ink variety. In this post, I thought I’d mention a different (hardly new) dynamic:  reading aloud.

Image by Victoria from Pixabay

It’s an ancient practice, reading aloud. (Is it permissible to describe it as an art?) One person pulls out a scroll/manuscript/letter/book and others gather around, captivated by the material being read. Or let’s go even further back when tales were memorized and recited. (This train of thought brings to mind a post from 2011 in which I wrote about one of my possible forebears, the 13th century German poet der Stricker.) Continue reading “An Invitation to Storytime!”

Golden Books

In my last post, I mentioned there are certain digital books I’ve read over the last year which I will eventually purchase in actual hard copy format. One might naturally ask the question, Why? Since I’ve read these particular volumes digitally, what’s the point in acquiring them as hard copies? The easy answer is because I’ve found hidden treasure during my initial readings … and I anticipate more richness with each subsequent reading.

Image by Petra from Pixabay

Like most people, I may read a novel once and quickly dismiss the story line. Even with non-fiction, the content is (all too often) forgettable. But some books, I think of them as golden. Certain books, and occasionally even a few specific authors, have found a unique place, burrowing into my heart, and thus have earned an esteemed position on my bookshelf next to other Greats. (Note well, I said Greats, not necessarily Bestsellers, many of which would never qualify as great – except on the publisher’s ledger.) Continue reading “Golden Books”

Reading, Between the Lines

Reading is a particular kind of nourishment for me. Whether it’s research (information and study), relaxation (fiction and literary works) or relational (communing with my God), I read hungrily, interactively, establishing an intellectual (and often heartfelt) connection with the specific work and its author.

Image by Fio from Pixabay

However, I’m a reluctant latecomer when it comes to enjoying books presented in digital format. In fact, one of the most difficult transitions for me has been the gradual acceptance and subsequent adoption of digital books over actual paper-and-ink volumes. Since buying my first Apple iPad (maybe ten years ago?) and an Amazon Kindle (a short while after), I used the hand-held devices almost daily for email, browsing the internet, etc. … but rarely ever as a reading device! Both devices seemed cold and detached, objects which might be considered helpful but still completely devoid of personal connection. Continue reading “Reading, Between the Lines”

Is Enough “Ever” Enough?

Except for the red hair and flashlight, the image below reminds me of a long-ago youngster. I vividly recall lying in bed hidden beneath sheet and blankets, eyes focused on a book which I was determined to read even though the lights in the room were switched off and I’d been duly tucked into bed. Undaunted by the dark room, I depended on an outdoor street lamp which cast its muted light through my second story bedroom window. Many a night I fell to sleep, captivated by tales of heroic deeds and imagined adventures.

Image by Amberrose Nelson from Pixabay

My motto at that time might have been So many books, so little time! Books were my favored pathway and the universe seemed unlimited. After mentioning book recommendations in my previous post, I was reminded of several volumes I (1) have recently started, (2) am currently reading through or (3) have just completed. Contemplating the image above, I understand vicariously the delight and joy reflected in this child’s face.

Continue reading “Is Enough “Ever” Enough?”

To Be Something – More

Book recommendations are one of my major weaknesses. Especially when someone I admire suggests a particular book, I have little-to-no resistance. Given the number of books on my bookshelves (many still unread), it seems I’m dealing with an obsession a costly one!

If I were blessed with unlimited resources, I envision “my” library looking something like the image above from Prague … maybe I’d add a comfy chair or two since the straight-backed chairs on the right don’t look terribly cozy! Give me a cushy chair and footstool (plus a cup of coffee or cinnamon tea) and except for refills, I might not venture out for days (or weeks). Continue reading “To Be Something – More”

Warren Who?

“Warren Piece.” I distinctly recall my mother uttering those two words as she ushered me out the door with my brothers on our summer afternoon trek to the library. Our visits to the public library were a regular occurrence in those days, and on occasion, we walked the mile+ distance sans adult supervision.

We had specific, unalterable instructions:  stay together, follow the usual route, be home before dinner, and never, ever, ever talk to strangers! We had a tight camaraderie, the three of us. Brother Eric (two years older than me) and brother Kevin (younger than me by eighteen months) might run ahead or dawdle behind from time to time, but being voracious readers, our expectation of new adventures hidden in books on the library’s seemingly endless bookshelves kept the three of us on course to our destination. Continue reading “Warren Who?”

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Black History Month for 2021 ends today. I had been thinking about a comedian, Flip Wilson, who was the first African-American to host a successful ’70s-era variety show on television. Though he died in 1998, one of Wilson’s standard routines was built around the statement:  the devil made me do it! The 5-minute 1970 video (below) from the Ed Sullivan Show provides a taste of Wilson’s humor.

Since I am ignorant of most pop culture, I was unaware there’s also a rapper album titled The Devil Made Me Do It, plus other references (none I’m familiar with). My only point of reference is Flip Wilson’s skit from the 70s. But a recent Facebook post reminded me of Wilson’s skit. (If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the same post.)

Conversation between 2 devils

To the left is a screen capture (not the full FB post) but enough for it to be recognizable. The post emphasizes the similarities between our current age of fear (centered around Covid etc.) and the author’s suggestions on how to foment fear from “nearly 79 years ago.”

The original post credits C. S. Lewis (from his book The Screwtape Letters) as author. While this conversation between two devils does reflect a similar theme, there’s one problem. The words aren’t from The Screwtape Letters. Continue reading “The Devil Made Me Do It!”

Heavenly Valentines

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Since my mother’s passing a week ago, I’ve reflected on aspects of her life … and mine. As a writer (and a family historian), it’s always been important to me to keep written records and when possible, to match them with images (photos mostly).

This need to retain a written record appears to be a trait I inherited from my forebears – parents, grandparents etc. going back many generations. (Consider Der Stricker for further details.) So, when I get a bit nostalgic, I tend to look at the collection of resources that have come into my possession through the years.

In a previous post, I mentioned my dad spent his working life as an over-the-road trucker. He ended up with hours of dead time on his hands, waiting for a delivery to be loaded or unloaded. Being the contemplative person he was, he wrote poetry. Thanks to his impeccable handwriting, these poems are in pristine condition, many of them penned on motel stationery (wherever he happened to be staying).

The large majority of poems are personal in nature, small rhymed jewels to express his love (most often addressed to his wife, my mom). My dad had been deceased more than a decade in 2004 when I decided it was time to set his handwritten poems into book form. I had copies printed for family members and that’s where the project stayed … until now.

As an added subsection of the Blood Type / Stricker page, I’ve included a flipbook of dad’s poetry. Toward the end (page 50), there’s a poem titled My Heavenly Valentine. It’s written (obviously) to my mother. The final lines present a fitting coda to two lives well-lived … and now reunited in Eternity.

A Peculiar Crossroads

Almost a decade ago, I launched this blog. The nameplate has changed slightly but my general high regard for Flannery O’Connor (from whom the blog name was admittedly plucked) hasn’t diminished. I don’t recall our first meeting (in the pages of a book), but my philosophy as a young writer was partly formed thanks to her insights.

Her book Mystery and Manners set in motion my lifelong interest. I borrowed the book from the library. We were casual acquaintances then. By the due-date, I realized I couldn’t relinquish the book! In those pre-Amazon days, I scrambled to find a hard copy to purchase but found none.

As a last resort, I located a photocopier and proceeded to copy over 200 pages, dime by dime. (The above photo shows that well-worn copy.) I omitted the first chapter (21 pages) which relates O’Connor’s tale “The King of the Birds.” It was an amusing story but not worth the extra buck. Continue reading “A Peculiar Crossroads”

The Road to Ruthe’s

My ninety-one year old mother lives about six hours away. Given her disabilities (she’s nearly blind and doesn’t hear well), she no longer drives – which means in order to spend time with her, I must first travel to her home. On those occasions when my Beloved makes the journey with me, the distance is the same but traveling together makes the trip both sweeter and (seemingly) shorter. Time alone on the road is generally more tedious.

During my last couple trips though, I’ve been accompanied by three young fellows (unbeknownst to my Beloved). These guys couldn’t be more chatty and when we travel together, I’m certain to be entertained as well as challenged to consider the world from a different point of view.

Continue reading “The Road to Ruthe’s”