Archive for Books

Travels in the Low Country…

This is the “Low Country.” Before our recent trip through the “Old South,” I knew almost nothing about this 187 miles of South Carolina coastline with its barrier or Sea Islands. Traditionally, the phrase refers to the former slave holding areas where rice and indigo, both labor intensive crops that thrived in the hot, wet, sub-tropical climate, were the foundation of its economy. I’ve always had an affinity for the “big sky” vistas of the western high desert, but this astonishingly beautiful landscape with its long chartreuse-colored sea grasses, blue sky, live oak, Spanish moss, and tidewater is equally striking. read more

My Bookish Friends…

Our living room is lined with bookcases. Reading the spines will take you on a journey into our psyches. There are fairy tales, history books, classics, references, art books, biographies, adventure travel, modern fiction, Eastern and Western philosophy – books we had as children, college texts, anthologies, and many we haven’t read…yet. They comfort us, old and new friends, reminding us of our history, our aspirations, and what we love. 

I’m especially inspired by the books my friends have written. The stack in the picture shows some of them but doesn’t begin to include all their titles. Some of the writers are older and some relatively young. Two or three are “retired” but writing full time, and the rest all have day jobs that may or may not involve writing. There’s a neurologist/geneticist, an executive recruiter, three lawyers, two university professors, two journalists, a retired energy consultant, a retired Boeing speechwriter, a former Pan Am Captain and two graduates of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. read more

More Tears in Heaven…

This is an update of an article I wrote during the first year of the Trump presidency,. It’s even worse than I imagined.

In Franz Kafka’s short story Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa, the traveling salesman, wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. The rest of the story deals with his attempt to manage the transformation and explain it to his family.

In The Trial, another Kafka character, Joseph K, finds himself on trial for no discernable reason. “Someone must have traduced Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.” Traduce is an arcane, seldom used verb, that means “to tell lies about someone so as to damage their reputation.” It should be in current usage. It’s so Trumpian. read more

Trump’s Stages of Grievance…

Most of us are familiar with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief– denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Kubler-Ross’ list is a handy reminder that grief and the time it takes to run its course don’t always follow a straight line.

Stages of Grief

Grief comes from the Anglo-French word gref meaning injustice or calamity and the Latin word gravis meaning heavy. The dictionary defines it as a “deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.” Grieve, is related but comes from the Latin gravare, to burden but also gravis or heavy, and its dictionary definition is “to feel or show grief.” read more

Scatology vs. Eschatology in Today’s Politics…

Detail from Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights

I’ve been thinking a lot about death and Ricky Gervais lately, because I’m losing friends at such an alarming rate. Their obituaries often say, “Died of natural causes,” but Stuart Nuland in his book How We Die says the death certificate should probably read “Died of old age,” although he acknowledges that we’re not quite there officially. At my age, it’s natural to be thinking of death, but I’m trying to be cool about it. As Ricky Gervais says, “Death is like being stupid; it’s only painful for others.” read more