The Habits Of Sundays

A lazy Sunday morning here near Bristol. It caused me to recall what “todays” were while growing up on the other side. Memories of years long past.

Everyone’s home life is distinctive. Back on Long Island, Sundays were special in our house. My mother maintained her routine long after I’d moved out and away, and even in her last years after she and my dad had relocated to Pennsylvania.

It was “the day of rest” centered around lunch/dinner. As a teen, I’d probably have mowed the lawn on Saturday. My grandmother – my Mom’s mother – would sometimes have slept over Saturday night.

But one habit my mother eventually came to avoid and never demanded of us….

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Trump-ed Up Hysteria

In recent days, we have all encountered it on television and the internet. We are lectured by bombastic voices that all people holding the Islamic faith overseas should not be allowed to set foot in the U.S. (temporarily, of course, we are also dutifully informed by some) because it’s a religion that includes terrorists. At a single stroke, a billion people have all been decreed terrorists by faith association.

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

Yes, a tiny number of Muslims born in the U.S., and recent immigrants, have turned to a terrorism they claim they undertake in the name of Islam. Some of those have even moved abroad to join terror groups. I’m unaware of anyone in the U.S. government asserting that troubling issue should be ignored.

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A Eulogy: The Toughest Writing You’ll Ever Do

I delivered my mother’s eulogy at her funeral Mass back on Saturday. It was the toughest few pages I’d ever had to write. Even harder was sharing it verbally in the church with the other mourners.

After all, there are the basic facts to cover: her birth, bits on her upbringing, her marriage, her family, where she’d lived and worked, etc. More important, though, are the human aspects. Somehow I got through the 10 minutes or so without breaking down, but, as I spoke, I remember feeling numb….

My parents on their wedding day, 1963.
My parents on their wedding day, 1963.

I thought I’d share some of it with you here:

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U.S. Kids Need To Be Taught About India

Beating someone up is bad enough. Beating someone up while hurling bigoted abuse at them is even uglier socially. Beating someone up for bigoted reasons and sounding like an absolute moron while doing so is simply peak stupid.

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

His assailant is hardly the only dimwit. Days after September 11, 2001, a Sikh was murdered in Arizona in “reaction” to the attacks. In 2012, in Wisconsin, another idiot shot up a Sikh temple, killing six, after having reportedly mistaken it for a Muslim mosque. Sikhs in the U.S. have caught all sorts of other stupid nonsense, and likely most of it never gets reported.

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Family Pains

We attended the funeral yesterday for my sister-in-law’s younger sister, Donna. A woman vicar celebrated it. One brother read her eulogy and did so superbly. At the conclusion of the thoughtful, loving service, at the crematorium, we filed out past Donna’s casket to the sounds of – I kid you not – “Dancing Queen,” by Abba: it was her favorite song.

All wasn’t harmony and unity, though. One brother did not attend. There has been some major rift between him and the rest of his family. He wasn’t even included in the prayers which named all of the immediate family members, including several who are deceased.

We found out from our nephew afterwards that about 18 months ago he had moved. He didn’t even leave his new address with anyone. The rest of the family have no idea where he and his family now live – and if they even know about Donna’s death.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a family dining sign.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a family dining sign.

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Surviving The “Wobbles”

You never know what out there will provide eventual story material. Subconsciously, I’m always on the look out. In a real sense, I’m always working.

I try, but I can’t usually just switch my mind “off.” I find I pay attention to most “everything.” But I know I also have to do so without everyone around me suspecting I’m paying attention to, uh, “everything,” of course. ;-)

River Avon, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. [Photo by me, 14 June 2015.]
River Avon, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. [Photo by me, 14 June 2015.]

Case in point: Mass last Sunday included Psalm 92. Perhaps unsurprisingly if you know the first two novels, this line grabbed my attention:

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The Cult Of The Naked Tourist

You may have heard about this band of thoughtful world travelers:

Screen capture yesterday of the BBC web site.
Screen capture yesterday of the BBC web site.

At least for once there wasn’t an American involved. Nor are they facing long prison terms. That BBC article goes on to explain:

They were jailed for three days, but their sentences were back-dated to reflect time already served.

Evidently snapping naked pics at tourist vistas has become “the thing” lately. Because there always has to be something. The respected British travel writer, the Independent’s Simon Calder, has also pointed out:

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A Stranger’s Funeral

Last weekend, at Mass the priest had announced a funeral service would take place on Wednesday at lunchtime. He also explained that the deceased would have only a small contingent of family and friends present. What really caught my attention was when he observed if any of us in the faceless congregation could make it, it would be appreciated.

When he said that, I made a mental note: if I could, I would be there. I awoke yesterday morning and remembered it. Working at home as I do, there was really no excuse not to go.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a cross.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a cross.

As you may know, Roman Catholicism and I have had a bit of a “complicated” relationship over the years, and my books reflect that. I packed the novel-writing away for all of an hour or so. As I closed the front door, I reflected on the fact that I could not recall ever before having been to the funeral Mass for a total stranger.

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Sneak Peek: The Beginning (Warning: Contains Spoiler)

As we know, Amazon makes the first 10 percent of a Kindle book, as well as the first pages of a print version (although not nearly so many pages as for the Kindle), available for free reading online. I suspect that is gradually altering writing; I know it’s impacting mine. For given that potential readers get to sample only the beginning of your hard work that could stretch on for several hundred additional complex pages, it seems increasingly important that novels commence with “a bang.”

That said, and as you also may know, I don’t do “gunfire”; but I always seek to grab. Passports opens with an optimistic, pleasant, meeting in a college class, but one also loaded with various signs lots more is gonna happen here from every direction and then some. Frontiers starts with something of a “shocker” that is deliberately meant to lead a Passports reader briefly to think: “Wait. What?”

Now, given the reality its first pages will again be visible online anyway eventually, I thought I’d share the planned beginning to Distances.

Passports (Part 1), Frontiers (Part 2), Distances (upcoming Part 3).
Passports (Part 1), Frontiers (Part 2), Distances (upcoming Part 3).

A word of warning: There is a substantive “spoiler” in this “sneak peek.”

So, to borrow from a television sports reporter who says before revealing a final score for a game that will be broadcast only later on “tape delay,” if you are interested in reading the first two books and have not, and don’t like “spoilers,” CLICK HERE (and I’ll redirect you safely to yesterday’s post). ;-)

Whether or not you choose to read on, have a good weekend, wherever you are. :-)

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He Says, She Says

During our phone chat a few weeks ago (because we weren’t able to get together as hoped), my uncle told me that (based on what he’d read so far) he considered what I write nicely readable. That’s a good thing, though, he asserted. If it’s what I want, I should run with it.

But I thought how that could also be considered a “backhanded” compliment: that it is good enough to sell and attract readers, yeh, but it isn’t “deep.”

Recently I’d also noted a reader who’d written to me that she thought the books belonged in history classes. That is quite a compliment for fiction; but I wasn’t writing history, of course. (As flattering as that may be to hear, I don’t want to scare away potential readers here thinking they’re dry history. They’re not!) Yet “history” would seem pretty “deep” stuff, no?

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