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”

Educated Opinions

Experts. We rely on them. We make life choices based on the advice of experts. Before having a vehicle/appliance/roof/computer repaired, we consult the expert, someone who by reputation has achieved a level of knowledge and expertise worthy of respect. In fact, we so highly value their abilities, we pay them.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

We crave the wisdom of medical experts. A highly-respected figure who’s both a physician and immunologist, for instance, would logically command attention and even admiration. Or a government official (less an expert but we listen nonetheless) may yield information worthy of consideration.

Unfortunately, mistakes happen. A physician could remove your leg instead of your appendix. Your computer guru could delete 30,000 emails instead of a virus on the hard drive. (It could actually happen!) In the real world, human beings – yes, even experts – can be miserably inept. Continue reading “Educated Opinions”

Jail Break!

Here we are … 8, 10, 12 weeks in with this crazy (and seriously overheated, if I may offer my personal opinion) pandemic. Have you enjoyed this bizarre social experiment as much as I have? (Granted, one of my last posts noted my comfortability with self-isolating.)

It’s been relatively easy for me to follow the guidelines. We live in a state where stay-at-home recommendations (for the most part) were modest, mostly respectful to sensible adults listening and heeding medical and government guidelines. Truth be told, my Beloved has trudged off to work every single day. It’s what he does.

Then, a week ago, we saw the headline “New York Times lists COVID-19 daily growth rate in NWA as highest in the nation.” Imagine the reactions! This isn’t something we aspire for top-list status. For myself, I’m hoping herd immunity kicks in soon.

Still, we’re adjusting here. And the good news I’ve been reading about – seemingly everywhere –  is that rioting, looting and pillaging cures the spread of COVID-19! It certainly takes the spotlight off  all the dreary predictions and public shaming (when someone isn’t wearing a mask … or sin-of-sins, failing to maintain proper distancing).

Long after a range of normalcy is restored across the world, the awful effects of COVID-19 will remain. So many individuals have lost their livelihoods and scores of businesses have been crippled beyond return. I’m no doctor, but even I can see this virus will go down in history beyond the number of people who died from the disease itself. I can’t help but think of its long-lasting psychological impact on children.

Further, the ease with which government encroached on personal liberties was stunning. (If that doesn’t bother you, maybe take some time to read the US Constitution.) Measles, influenza and smallpox were serious concerns for the founding fathers, but somehow they managed to secure our nation and enumerate certain rights of citizens … despite the numerous health challenges they encountered.

Don’t misunderstand, I know the virus was (and remains) a notable threat, especially for elderly folks with other health complications. As various states continue to transition through phases of re-opening, I’m optimistic we’ll see states and the country as a whole flourish and regain some economic and spiritual wholeness. But please, let’s not forget the essential freedoms previous generations fought and died to uphold; let’s hold them close, close enough we won’t let go.

In the meantime, a sonnet reflecting my thoughts on the lock-down.

Been There, Done That

Stir-crazy yet? Some people have more tolerance than others, I know. Still, more and more people are expressing similar frustration:  how long must this go on?

As I read back through old posts, I was reminded we’ve been here before. Back in October 2014, it was Ebola, another virus of considerable risk. At that time, my concerns centered on my elderly mother as well as my mother-in-law who passed away in 2017. Right now it’s my mom (now in her 94th year) who remains foremost in my thoughts. Continue reading “Been There, Done That”

Imagine

In mid-March, a group of celebrities posted an online video singing their rendition of John Lennon’s classic song Imagine. The stated purpose was to “raise morale” as the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe. (Their effort was not well-received.)

In the midst of this situation, imagination isn’t our primary aim. Reality reminds us daily we’re smack-dab in a real-life global pandemic. Things changed overnight. People died and countless others have been hastily quarantined. We don’t have to imagine grocery shelves picked clean nor the bewilderingly low supply of items like toilet paper and paper towels.

With amazing prescience, Netflix released (on January 22, 2020) a 6-episode docu-series titled, Pandemic:  How to Prevent an Outbreak. Though I haven’t watched it yet (too soon), I’ll probably do so eventually. One reviewer called it “visually stunning” and “a great piece of storytelling.” The series features caregivers who work the front lines when crisis occurs.

Since the dawn of time, mankind has faced disasters, some caused by disease, famine or flood. However, if there’s anyone with personal experience in dire circumstances, the biblical record of God’s prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, lays it out perfectly in I Kings 17. Continue reading “Imagine”

The End of the World Has Arrived

If you’ve been stuck on a cruise ship in the mid-Atlantic (or alternatively, locked in video-game-quiescence), you may be blissfully unaware, so I’ll break it to you as gently as I’m able:

APRIL  IS  CANCELLED

Thanks to suspended schedules and cancelled seasons, sports fans may find their only social-distancing alternative is Tiddlywinks. Concert-goers don’t get a pass. Business owners won’t be conducting business as usual. Conferences? Nope. Spelling Bee? Nope. Any pretense of normalcy? Are you crazy?

No matter who you are and what your areas of interest, it’s safe to say the time has come to crawl back into the groundhog hole now and make yourself as comfortable as possible. We’re in this for the long haul.

It’s not a question of seeing one’s shadow. Despite the arrival of Spring-like weather assuring us of Winter’s end, it’s contrived. It’s a cruel fiction. The lush and exhilarating month of April is officially, unceremoniously cancelled. Continue reading “The End of the World Has Arrived”

Jumping the Cactus

No matter how often I’ve seen it, this 2017 Progressive Insurance commercial always makes me laugh. I’m reminded what the commercial says about human nature. More to the point, it demonstrates the human propensity to ignore the old adage:  speak less, listen hard. When someone mentions taking the kids to soccer practice and you’re willing and ready to jump the cactus, there’s a definite failure to communicate.

This week’s news didn’t highlight the failure to communicate, but it did cause people to re-think their understanding about what it means “to hear.” Yes, I’m referring to the Laurel/Yanny debate initiated by a Reddit user posing a simple question:  what do you hear? Continue reading “Jumping the Cactus”

Survivors All

Our culture reveres survivors … and rightly so! The stories of concentration camp and holocaust survivors so stir our emotions, we often see these stories turned into movies. The Diary of Anne Frank was produced multiple times. I’m surprised The Hiding Place (from 1975) hasn’t been remade. In 2014, Unbroken was produced and directed by actress Angelina Jolie who deemed the survivor story of Louis Zamperini compelling.

Cancer survivors have their unique stories. Sexual assault survivors reveal horrific tales of abuse and torture. Given the admiration we accord survivors today, marketers exploit our curiosity by producing numerous movies, games and television series with a survival theme. (I must confess my fascination with Alone, now in its third season on the History Channel.) Continue reading “Survivors All”

Supreme Poetaster

Here’s a word that doesn’t get much use these days: Poetaster. One of the memorable ways to define this word – as well as to remember its pronunciation – is to take the word Poet, marry to it the last two syllables of disaster, and you have Poetaster.poetaster-n-s

A Poetaster is simply “an inferior poet, a writer of indifferent verse.” There’s some latitude in the word I think. A Poetaster might be someone who fancies himself (or herself) a fine poet because of a perceived ability to witness flowery and inane rhetoric flowing from his or her pen. By definition, what flows from a poetaster‘s pen is insipid, even foolish. Hence, my personal mnemonic, explained in the first paragraph. Continue reading “Supreme Poetaster”

Image Is Everything

As a genealogy enthusiast, I find the stories of other people (even unrelated) almost as fascinating as the stories I’ve learned about my own ancestors. When the television series Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA?) began in 2010, I thought it was a show I’d enjoy. As a subscriber of Ancestry.com, I figured I might even pick up a few helpful hints to assist me in my own research.ancestry leaves

As the first couple seasons progressed, I found the emphasis on celebrities less interesting but I kept watching … though by the third season (after which NBC cancelled the show), I had tuned out. Yes, I was disappointed. I think my interest might have continued with stories of everyday people hoping to solve the mysteries of their ancestry. As it was, there seemed to be a focus on trips to faraway and exotic places where the research was already completed and all the celebrity had to do was show up and look amazed. Continue reading “Image Is Everything”