Monday, May 30, 2016

Loose Lips Sink Ships Act I: Cast Off


My vacation usually takes place the week before & the week of Memorial Day, that transitional time between the end of spring & the beginning of summer. Two glorious weeks of hiking, camping, swimming, climbing, & any other activity that I can enjoy outdoors in the wonders & beauty of nature. It's a great opportunity to experience the many different environments & rare, wild, & historical places protected & nurtured in national & state parks. Some of the most beautiful & majestic masterpieces I've ever seen & experienced are the stunning, wondrous works of nature.

The transitional period is the perfect time to start vacation, because the parks & places I want to see aren't busy yet because the children & most students & their families are still dealing with schools. And by the time Memorial Day weekend rolls in, I've all ready staked out the perfect spot to enjoy the outdoors when the massive holiday crowd rushes in to claim a space of their own.

It's quite a sight to see the usually quiet & empty, tranquil spaces of the first week turn into noisy, chaotic, lively packed spaces during the second week when the holiday weekend comes. I don't mind it. I'd've all ready done the fun, solitary, spectacular activities & explorations by then. I'd've all ready reveled in the serenity of solitude & the joys of solo adventures as I go farther & make new discoveries & learn new things about these stunning, sensational spaces.

The crowds makes for a lively change, & excitement fills the air. It's kind of nice to see families & groups of people come out to enjoy nature & the national treasures protected by & entrusted to the care of the state & national authorities. These wonderful places & sacred spaces are meant to be experienced & cherished for their incomparable beauty & magnificence. And when you take part in the grand experience, you learn to love these places & you realize their significance & do your part to share these marvels & protect them.

I cherish these vacation times, & I consider these treks as sacred pilgrimages to worship at the holy alters of nature & renew my soul in the temples of time & space. There is so much beauty, & there are so many amazing endeavors to experience in these new, riveting places. Yet I keep returning to some of the same spaces, because I discover something new or its haunting secrets call to me like an evocative siren luring me into treacherous, dangerous, mysterious waters.

At times, I dream of these ethereal places & long to linger & lose myself once more in their empyrean presence; to immerse myself in the cosmic awareness; to live outside the ephemeral evanescence of the ever changing life. But I could not undertake my journey into joy this year, for life does what it always does: changing & challenging me to adapt, regardless of my plans & intentions.

I: Cast off

Recently, one of my coworkers relocated to the other side of the country to be closer to family. Her replacement, who's been on the job for three months, two of those months under orientation & training, just quit unexpectedly. She didn't show up for work & when the boss called her to find out if she was okay, she just said that she quit, because she just found out that she was pregnant & she didn't want to work anymore.

To say that we were pissed off is an understatement. We went out of our way to be nice & helpful to this new coworker, even though she came off as snobbish & cold. We figured she was just nervous to start a new job, but this stunt where she didn't even have the common courtesy to come in to work & give two weeks notice was just rude & unprofessional. We wasted all that time & resources training her, & now we have to start all over again. And to make matters worse, we were now short staffed at work.

I suppose I could've just gone on vacation anyway, & be all like 'Screw you mofos!' at work. But I like my coworkers (most of them anyway), & I didn't want to leave them a mess--a mess I would deal with once I got back from my vacation. It would be an avalanche of backlogs & paperwork & problems for me to sort through when I got back, & I didn't want that nor leave the team hanging.

The team works best when we work together, & we had goals to meet & plans to change & put into action to meet those goals. My coworkers & especially my boss were relieved & grateful that I was postponing my approved vacation to deal with the crisis. I've always been an excellent team player when the need arose. But that didn't mean I didn't complain a bit.

And that's exactly what I was doing, venting to my friends at a BBQ Sunday afternoon. Memorial Day weekend has morphed from a day to remember all those who gave their lives to protect this nation & its people to a three day weekend dedicated to mattress sales & BBQ. It's been several years since I've spent Memorial Day weekend at a BBQ. Usually, I'm enjoying a trek, sometimes with crowds, in the wilds of nature this time of year. But since I couldn't go hiking & camping in the faraway places, I might as well enjoy the BBQ. And this being BBQ country, it was BBQs all weekend.

This Sunday BBQ was the third one we've been to this weekend. The first was after work Friday at a friend's place. Then Saturday, we were at the beach. Now here we were at another friend's place, in a canal with the Intercoastal waterway on one end & the open gulf on the other end.

This friend, I'll call Sailor Jack, & it's not just because he loves sailing. There's a childhood picture of him in a sailor uniform complete with a salute that reminds me of Sailor Jack, the kid on the Cracker Jack box. And while the Cracker Jack version has one dog, there are three in his child pic.

His whole family are sailors. His father is actually a retired navy surgeon who spends his time with his second wife sailing to different ports, even racing in some regattas. His second wife is a retired navy lawyer. They've been married for a few years. They recently acquired another boat & plan to race that as well. I'll call the father Captain & his wife, Serenity, because while the woman may have been a lawyer, she was a total hippy who loved parties, dancing, & hosting large gatherings where the alcohol & laughter flowed freely. And any gathering where the alcohol is let loose usually leads to gossip & loss of inhibitions.

And that's exactly what I was doing, letting loose with my anger about the situation at work & the mess we were dealing with. My friends Sailor Jack, Bud, & I were talking about the ridiculousness of the entire situation with a few other people. A few I knew from other gatherings. Others were neighbors & people I was meeting & greeting for the first time. Bud's wife joined our group accompanied by a New Guy that I had never met before.

By this time, I was feeling a good buzz & the alcohol caused me to lower my inhibitions & say things I usually don't say in polite company. At this point, I just went with what I felt, common sense & caution be damned. This state of inebriation is one my friends enjoy. I'm a nice, mellow drunk who tends to say ridiculous & silly things, sometimes filthy things, to the amusement of my friends, who often egg me on or keep my glass full of alcohol to keep the laughs going.

I complained about my quitting coworker, "It just ticks me off that we wasted two months training her, then another month helping her, & the whole time, she was totally standoffish & snobby! Every excruciatingly boring conversation with her consisted of her bragging about how she earned a Masters degree from an Ivy League school. That doesn't say a lot for the prestige & credibility of Ivy League schools if they don't teach their graduates ethics & common courtesy like coming in to work & giving notice, instead of just not showing up, making us worry something bad had happened to her."

"So what happened to her?", asked someone in the group.

I answered, "She said she was quitting because she just found out that she was pregnant & she didn't want to work anymore."

"What?!", "Is it a high risk pregnancy?", "Is she for real?", the crowd asked.

I confessed, "I honestly don't know why being pregnant would cause her to quit work or if she's even pregnant at all. All I know is, she wasted our time & resources & left a huge mess which caused me to cancel my vacation."

That caused the crowd to murmur their agreement & write off the Quitter as unprofessional. But Bud's wife, Mrs. Bud, offered a different view, "Well, pregnancy is a life changing event, & maybe we should be more understanding of her situation."

A few people agreed. But I was not ready to let Quitter off the hook. I said, "I don't have an issue with her being pregnant. My issue is that she didn't even have the common decency to let us know that she was quitting & give us two weeks notice to find a replacement. She didn't even bother to call us. We called her to find out what was going on, worrying that she was hurt or worse. She was so cavalier about the whole thing, like she didn't give a damn & that really pissed me off."

Mrs. Bud replied, "Oh, I definitely agree that it was messed up how she just quit like that. That's totally unprofessional. All I'm saying is that pregnancy changes things & makes people act differently."

"True," I acknowledged, "Pregnancy does change things." I'd like to point out at this time that Mrs. Bud, in addition to being a long time friend from college, was also eight months pregnant! Of course she would defend her spawning sisterhood! But as she was also my friend, I could not resist teasing her, as we often do to one another.

So I said, "As miraculous & life changing it is to be pregnant, why should I have to change my plans because someone else got pregnant?"

Mrs. Bud replied, "No one is asking you to change your life. But you do need to be more accommodating when these things happen, because it's a miracle of life. And if you show the proper concern & take consideration of the situation, then when a life changing event happens to you, others can make the same concerned considerations for you."

It sounded perfectly reasonable. But I wasn't looking for reasonable. I was looking for a good laugh. So I said, "Why does it have to a life changing event in my life to get that kind of consideration? What if I don't have any life changing events? Does that mean my life & time are worth less? Why do I have to change my work schedule & workload just because someone else got knocked up? It's like we're being punished for having the foresight & good fortune to stay child free yet we're expected to do more work for the same pay while the expectant ones get less responsibility. That's not fair. What happened to equality in the workplace? I say equal pay for equal work. You do more work, you should get more pay!"

Mrs. Bud replied, "It's not an equality issue, it's a quality of life issue. Pregnant people should be protected at work so long as they make valuable contributions. "

I said, "I don't begrudge them protection. I just don't like doing extra work because someone else decided to get knocked up."

"Maybe it's not a choice for some. Maybe it's unplanned. Maybe they can't do family planning for religious or affordability reasons," replied Mrs. Bud.

"First off, planned or unplanned or immaculate conception,  religious figureheads need to keep their noses out of people's private business, especially when people's private business literally has to do with what they do with their privates! Second, if you can't afford family planning, then you should be making every effort to avoid behaviors that lead to breeding a family that you can't support!", I argued.

"Are you saying poor people shouldn't have children?", Mrs. Bud challenged.

"No," I countered,"I'm saying there are alternatives & affordable & free ways to prevent pregnancies."

"It sounds like you disapprove of pregnancies in the workplace," argued Mrs. Bud.

"Only when they interfere with work! It's a workspace, not a maternity home!", I said, "I feel like I should be given the same courtesy & understanding for my life choices & how I choose to live. A single or childless person should get the same respect & considerations as a pregnant person."

"But the circumstances are different!", stated Mrs. Bud, "As a pregnant person, society must recognize that I am bringing new life into this world, contributing to the propagation of the species & ensuring the survival of the next generation." Then she got a wicked gleam in her eyes.

I recognized that gleam. She was about to talk smack at me. And I was right! She said, "Whereas pregnancies contribute to & ensure the continuation of human life, what you do in private as a single person with other people is considered immoral & illegal in several states! You can't possibly compare the beauty & nobility of childbearing to your sordid, lurid life!

That got a few chuckles out of the crowd.

"How dare you!", I replied indignantly. "I'll have you know that what I do in private with company is consensual, fun, & good for tourism! I bring pleasure & spread joy!"

"The way you go about spreading joy is likely to spread disease & bring a need for penicillin," she said.

"I'll have you know that I have a clean bill of health from the health dept certifying that I am drug & disease free & fit to interact with society!", I declared. "And my excellent health & exquisite pleasure skills aside, we still haven't addressed why I should have to change my plans & work duties because you decided to revamp your vagina via a one baby demolition crew! Why am I having to do extra work because you were too drunk & too horny or too lazy to take a pill or use contraceptives?"

"Ok, regardless of whether it was planned, unplanned, or poorly thought out, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you are pregnant, & that changes things," she answered. "And anyway, how do you suggest we stop pregnancies if there's no access to contraceptives or you get caught up in the moment because you're drunk & horny?"

"Easy!", I declared, "Either keep those legs closed, use an alternate route, or learn how to swallow!"

At this point the crowd burst out laughing. Even Mrs. Bud was giggling & cursing me at the same time, "Bastard! You're making me laugh so hard I have to go pee!"

Before she waddled off, escorted by Sailor Jack towards the house, Bud said, "Well, I guess that's the end of that & good riddance to Quitter. I guess you don't have to worry about dealing with her anymore."

"You'd think so right?", I replied, "But before we closed Friday, I got a call from a rival company, asking about Quitter. She had listed me as a work reference, without asking me or giving me a heads up!"

"What!?!", the group exclaimed. Sailor Jack asked, "So what did you do?"

I said, "I told them the truth. I didn't know her well enough to give a reference. When the caller said she was here for three months, I told him she was in training for two months, worked less than a month on her own, then she didn't show up for work Monday. We were worried & when the boss called her at home to find out what was going on, she then told us she was pregnant & she didn't want to work anymore."

The others chuckled. Mrs. Bud said, "Well, I guess that ship has sailed."

"And sunk in the ocean!", I added.

"Yeah, after you torpedoed her with that reference!", chuckled Sailor Jack. And we all laughed at that.

"Hey, I was only telling the truth!", I said.

Bud summed it best, "She screwed y'all at work then she got screwed herself."

"Twice!", I acknowledged, "First by getting knocked up, then by acting like a horrible, unprofessional ingrate! If your actions stink, then don't be surprised when people treat you like crap!"

And so ended the debate in laughter as Sailor Jack escorted Mrs. Bud to the nearest powder room. But my lively exchange with Mrs. Bud was chaste & humdrum compared to the storm that was brewing next door when we heard the drunk neighbors start yelling & arguing with each other. Naturally, we were curious at the commotion & drawn to the domestic natural disaster that began with the vivid curse, "Go see your f*cking whore, you uncut cheesy d*ck a$$ fingerer!"

I didn't know much about these new neighbors. This was the first time that most of us had seen or heard them. But in under two minutes, we learned that the man, if his wife is to be trusted, had a whore, was uncircumcised, produced foreskin fluids, & was no stranger to digital manipulation of the rear posterior opening. And before the evening was over, we'd learn a hell of a lot more than we wanted to know about these noisy, foul mouthed, drunks next door.

This wasn't the vacation that I had in mind for this holiday, but it was just as interesting & exciting in the most surprising ways. And when this evening came to a close, I can honestly say that I would make new discoveries & find myself in the most unexpected & totally new situations. Adventure comes in many forms. I didn't know it then, but my adventure had just begun

Monday, May 23, 2016


Another round of severe thunderstorms rolled through the area--dumping heavy rains that flooded roads & neighborhoods, blowing down trees that blocked the streets & knocking down power lines to cause blackouts across parts of the city. Not surprisingly, some schools & businesses had to stay closed because of the lack of power & for the safety of the students, & some workers were unable to get to work.

My power was out, but I still made it to work on the other side of town. Using a flashlight, I was able to get ready in the dark. The heavy, sudden thunderstorms had hit my area hard after midnight. The storms drenched us for hours as the winds knocked out the electricity. It was dark, cloudy, & windy as I left home, but it was clear, dry skies as soon as I was on the highway, halfway to work. The storms didn't reach my workplace until I parked the car, & it suddenly poured down heavily. I was glad that I had brought my umbrella & that the winds hadn't picked up yet.

I'm not the most technophilic person at work. While most of my coworkers eagerly buy the latest & most expensive in tech gadgets & applications, I'm fine with using old, proven methods & techniques. There is a noticeable digital divide at work. All the younger ones seem to have embraced the newer technology, preferring emails & texting as ways to communicate. A few of the older workers staunchly hold on to the old ways, preferring hardcopies to digital ones when it comes to handling reports--literally requiring the actual paper in paperwork to do the work.

I fall in the middle. I use emails & texts but I also like the feel of paper in my hands, because it makes it easier to scan information & make any corrections or edits much more efficiently & effectively. I also like to follow up emails & texts with phone calls when communicating at work.  This way, the messages I sent are received one way or another.

As I entered the work space, four of my young coworkers expressed surprise at seeing me. The five of us were the only ones present. I noticed that they were wet from the rain, probably as they tried to run from the parking lot to inside the building.

One asked, "Isn't the power out in your part of town?"

"It sure is," I replied.

Their faces seemed puzzled, so the second asked, "How did you know to get up? Did you get dressed in the dark?"

"I have flashlights & used them to get ready. And I have an alarm clock," I said.

"You mean your phone, right?", asked the second one.

"No," I answered,"I used my alarm clock."

They seemed more confused than ever, so third one asked, "But if the power is out, wouldn't your alarm go out, too?"

I replied, "I have an old travel alarm clock that runs on a battery, & I keep it on the bedside table. That way, even if the power is out, I can still tell time & it'll go off like it's suppose to."

Finally, that seemed to clear up the confusion. The fourth one spoke up, "You're smart to bring an umbrella. You're all nice & dry while the rest of us are soaked.  What weather app did you use?"

I said, "I didn't use any weather apps."

That got another round of perplexed expressions on my coworkers faces. So the fourth one asked, "If you didn't use a weather app, & the power is out so you can't check the weather channel on tv, how the heck did you know the storms were coming here, & it would rain hard this morning?"

"Oh, I just do what I always do to see what the weather is like," I said. They looked at me intently, leaning in, focused on finding out what secret, amazing technology or skill I used to learn that it was going to rain.

So I revealed to my attentive, eager coworkers my proven, effective weather forecasting technique, "Before I left home, I looked out the window," I paused to make sure that I still had their attention. I continued, "It looked like it was going to rain. So I brought my umbrella."

Silence. I wasn't sure if it was the chill of wet clothes or the absurdity of new information that was responsible for the confusion & dumbfounded expressions on my coworkers faces. Their brows were furrowed, mouths were opened & frozen in stillness, & the looks of astonishment & incredulity were clearly etched on their faces.

I didn't need an app to tell me it was going to rain. And I certainly didn't need an app to tell me to put on a pot of coffee for my cold, wet, discombobulated coworkers. You don't always need the latest gadgets & tech to tell you what's going on. Sometimes, all you really need are eyes that can see what's going on & the presence of mind to plan accordingly.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Experimental Gardner

If you've been a long time reader & friend of mine, then you probably know that I am the Grim Reaper of plants. All the plants I've tried to care for inevitably die. I have no plant growing skills at all. Which might be surprising, given that I grew up on a farm.

And while I did my part in sowing seeds & planting; crop maintenance & care; harvesting & selling the crops, my talents laid elsewhere. I was much better at tending to the livestock. Feeding, watering, cleaning, caring for, & eventually, slaughtering the animals were my most proficient skills on the farm. I became better at these skills than anyone else as I grew older & my responsibilities expanded.

I also had one more talent. I was a plant killer. While everyone else had a green thumb, able to grow many types of plants, I brought death to all plants. Mom used to say that we all had different gifts, & we each had a role to play. My plant killing skills were put to good use, to effectively & efficiently wipe out the weeds & invasive species from our fields & farm. This was my role, to annihilate & obliterate plants that were marked for destruction. And I was/am exceedingly excellent at it.

But that doesn't mean I don't try to help the occasional plant now & then. Though, the truth is, most plants that I try to help eventually die. I killed five cacti, three aloe plants, & a houseplant in one month. The cacti & aloes, I later learned, drowned from daily watering. No one told me how to care for desert plants. The houseplant, I followed the care instructions meticulously, but it died after a week. Most plants do well if I just leave them be, ignore & neglect them, & they thrive! But sometimes, circumstances force me to act.

Long time readers may remember Blossom, the onion that I found blooming in the veggie bin in the fridge! Yes, the onion was actually growing in the fridge! I had to take it out. I nursed it for two weeks in a pot on the windowsill, where it grew even more. But I made the fateful decision to plant Blossom out in the front yard to get more sunshine. After three days of thriving in the yard, I went out that fourth morning to find that some vicious critter had dug up & eaten most of poor Blossom! Poor Blossom never recovered & died, & I vowed vengeance upon the critter who murdered Blossom!

I never did find out which critter killed poor Blossom, but later on that week, I came home after a late moonlight stroll & found a possum in the same spot where Blossom died. At first, the creature just pretended to be dead. But as I moved a bit closer, it actually scrambled away, only to have an owl swoop down from the darkness, surprising me as it grabbed that possum & disappeared into the black night from whence it came.

Circle of life. Eat or be eaten. Life & death, the eternal cycle. I didn't know if this critter was responsible for killing Blossom, but I did feel pity for it, even if I knew that this was nature. And like it or not, I killed living things, too, & I ate them to survive. I knew that & accepted that I am an omnivore, & I do consume life to maintain my own. And when I pass on, other creatures will consume me to ensure their lives.

But Blossom's death bothered me, because I really did think that maybe I could grow plants, that I could bring life to plants instead of just razing & slaying them. The Blossom experience put me off from trying to grow anymore plants. And for years, I've been satisfied with that. I gave no more thoughts to trying to grow plants. No more thoughts until last month that is.

I was cleaning out the bottom kitchen cabinets when what should I find but two sweet potatoes germinating in the dark! These were two leftover sweet potatoes from a sack I bought just after Christmas! I thought that I had used all the sweet potatoes, & I had thrown away the empty sack months ago, back in January. But these two sweet potatoes managed to roll to the back of the cabinet & started growing.

Once again, circumstances made me act. One of the sweet potatoes was kind of shriveling, smaller than the other. It needed to be planted to survive. But I didn't have any potting soil, much less experience growing sweet potatoes. Regular potatoes, yes when I was back on the farm. But I've never grown sweet potatoes before. And I wasn't sure the soil & weather conditions were right for growing sweet potatoes in my region.

But as it just so happened, it was very windy & stormy that week. I found two empty five gallon buckets. One had been blown into the back yard. The other I found on the side of the road during a night stroll. But the most surprising find was a bag of mulch that I found on the sidewalk corner during a morning dawn jog.

It seemed to have fallen off the back of a truck during the previous night. And it was heavy from the soaking it got from the rain that night. But it felt wasteful to leave the bag of mulch crumpled on the sidewalk corner, so I stopped running, bent down, & hauled that heavy bag of mulch back home in the dark dawn. The next day, I found those two sweet potato spuds barely hanging on to life.

It was as if the universe was sending me a sign. It suddenly occurred to me that maybe I could plant the sweet potatoes in the buckets & use mulch instead of soil. There were a few internet sites that reported success growing regular potatoes in mulch. But none had ever grown sweet potatoes in a mulch container. But I was curious & figured, what the hell? Why not experiment? Conventional gardening methods have always failed me.

So I cleaned those containers, poked a nail hole in the bottom, filled the containers with wet mulch, then planted a sweet potato in each container. I made sure to water the containers every other day, being mindful not to water too much, as is my nature. I wasn't sure if it was going to work, but I had to give it a shot.

One month later, I can report that the smaller sweet potato died. But the other sweet potato actually grew!

There were some more shoots growing out of the spuds, but I didn't separate them. I should've though, because it would seem the biggest shoot drew all the nutrients from the spud, killing off the smaller shoots. Next time, if I'm successful, I'll separate the shoots to give them a better chance at surviving.

I have to say that I'm pretty happy that the experiment is progressing well so far. Sure, the other spud died, but it would've died anyway without my intervention. The fact that the other one is still alive & growing makes me happy & hopeful that it will survive & thrive.

I'd also like to add that the container with the dead sweet potato did not go to waste. In fact, last week, I was about to throw out an empty pinto beans sack, when I realized that there were some dried beans left in the sack. There were five to be exact. I wasn't sure what to do, as some sites on the internet said to soak them overnight before planting. But I decided to experiment. Two beans I soaked overnight & planted. Nothing happened. Three of the dried ones I planted then watered. I spent a week watering every other day. The result? One actually germinated & grew ridiculously fast & tall within a week!

See that long, dried, shriveled brown debris in the middle of the container? That is the sweet potato that died. Follow a diagonal line from the bottom of the dead sweet potato down to the bottom left. See that oval dark maroon brown pebble? That's actually a bean that failed to grow.

I was impressed that the living bean grew out of its cover so fast. See the covering still attached to the top? That cover fell off into the mulch & new leaves just blossom the next day. Pretty impressive!

Honestly, I didn't expect anything to grow, much less live this long under my care. But what a surprise! I shall be keeping tabs on the sweet potato & bean & report on their progress. I'm going to call the sweet potato Chip, & the bean will be named LL. I must remind myself not to over water them, & embrace that if I leave them be, they'll be fine. Here's to hoping it all turns out well! Wish me luck on growing Sweet Potato Chip & LL Bean! I love being an experimental gardener!

Related Links
Blooming Onion
The Experimental Gardner: Challenges

Friday, May 6, 2016

Story site

In the spirit of sharing good books, I'd like to share a great site that I found earlier this year. It's called It is an online story site that features science fiction, fantasy, & horror stories. I love scifi/fantasy stories, so this site was a fantastic find. In addition to providing some great stories, the site also features works from published, noted writers in the field, & it does an amazing job of showcasing & introducing new writers who create such magnificent works. It also provides some astounding artwork from extremely talented artists.

I've spent a lot of time reading the many interesting & imaginative stories on, & I've discovered many new wonderful writers & artists whose works I now seek after learning about them on  Granted, not every story will appeal to everyone. But that's all right, because we're all so diverse, & offers a rich variety of different stories that is bound to entertain & thrill the reader. Some stories are short; others are novellas.  And I'll share with you three stories that stood out & made me a follower & believer in this site.

The first story that I'm sharing captivated me & got me hooked on is called The Language of Knives by Haralambi Markov. It is a stunning & splendid work of art. I was astounded by this intense portrayal of relationships, duty, love, loyalty, & strength. I did not know what to expect when I started reading it, but I was so mesmerized by the haunting writing & exquisite story that I  found myself totally engaged, as if witnessing the experience before my very eyes. This story moved me with its beautiful sorrow, heartbreaking pain, & magnificent portrayal of love, loss, life, & death. I was immersed in a world so alien & strange yet felt so familiar & relatable. It's definitely one of the best stories that I have read in a long time, & it motivated me to find out more about the author & seek out more amazing stories.

The second story that I really enjoyed is called The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo. This story brilliantly combines the wisdom of Aesop's fables with the gruesome action of the original, bloody Grimm fairy tales. The result is a thrilling, entertaining & gory story that recounts the adventures of a Fox & the dangers & death that come for him.

The final story that I would like to share is called The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles by Kij Johnson. I love travel stories, & the journey of this cat makes for a wonderful & marvelous story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this tale & found myself lost in this incredible story the author had written, bringing to life a fascinating world & such fantastic characters. It is a grand tale of the majestic journey of a magnificent cat--searching, seeking, & seeing the world & all its spectacles, surprises, & truths.

These three are but a few examples of the rich & amazing collection found at Treasures are found in the most unexpected places, & is an astounding find that I would like to share with you. If you love scifi & fantasy & horror & action adventure stories, then is a good place to check out some stories & discover new, amazing writers & artists. If you're looking for some entertaining reading & find yourself with some free time, go ahead & give the site a chance. You never know what you're going to find. And what you do find, you might just like.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reading list for May

My reading list review for May is short. I've only read two books, but they are important for different reasons. One book I read was for pure enjoyment. The other book was to see if time had changed my perspective.

The first book that I read is Living with Art by Rita Gilbert. It is the 5th edition of a college textbook that offers a basic, general, broad introduction to the nature & characteristics & examples of art from many cultures the world over. It is basically an overview of the history & development of art & architecture in the world.

I love reading this book, because it discusses & portrays all types of art & architecture, two of my favorite things in the world. The text was easy to understand & the information was rich & informative & entertaining. So many wonderful illustrations, photos, & captures were so brilliantly included in this book, making for some wonderful & beautiful viewings. I found myself lost while gazing at the stunning pictures & contemplating the interesting information that accompanied the pictures. I've reread sections of this book, because the subjects were so captivating, & I loved the stunning photos of some really amazing art & astonishing architecture.

This book is a treasure found at a local second hand bookstore. A lot of the books in the store were from college students who no longer needed the books for classes nor wanted them in their possession. The prices are low enough that I can justify buying a book that would take up space at my place, & I wouldn't worry about taking it outdoors with me. It was a used, old book, but the condition & contents were outstanding. I'm glad I took a chance & bought it. See if you can find it at your local library or luck out at a used bookstore. It's a fantastic find. I started reading it in January & wanted to include it in my March reading list, but I spent so much time just rereading some really fascinating chapters & yes, the pictures were just stunning that I spent a lot of time admiring their beauty, daydreaming about seeing such glorious creations in real life.

I especially got a kick out of reading the sections on art & architecture that I've been very fortunate enough to have seen in real life during some travels. It amazes me that I had seen that art & been to those exotic, wonderful places, & I feel the need to see those wonders once more. And thanks to this book, I've discovered & learned more about the marvelous art & spectacular architecture that I would like to see & experience up close & in person--like the Taj Mahal, Hagia Sophia, Machu Picchu, & so many others. Though I've finally finished reading this book, I feel as if though I'm not done with it yet, & it sits on the nightstand, within easy reach, so that I may enjoy going through its pages & daydreaming about the magnificent art & majestic architecture from all over the world.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you love art & architecture. If you don't know how you feel about art & architecture, then this book is a great, enjoyable introduction to the beauty & engineering marvels of art & architecture.

The second book I read is a children's book. Hey, don't judge me! I've little people--that's children--that I like to buy books for & introduce to some splendid stories & wonderful works of art & creativity. Until I started buying books for children just recently, I never realized how awful & terribly poor the reading choices are for children. Seriously, there is a lot of crap out there being marketed as being appropriate for children. And they're really just gawd awful & a horrible waste of time.

I don't mind the fairy tales & folk stories & hilarious children's stories. Those works have cultural & sociological values. They inspire imagination & teach important life lessons about love, hope, truth, integrity, grit, & wisdom.

Then there are those horrific & stupid books that have been deemed "classics" that are just the worst material ever designated for children. These are some really deplorable, depressing stories that should never, ever be read to children! And among those stories is that vile & abhorrent tale called The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

I read this book as a preteen a long time ago, & I was appalled at the atrocious tale. If you don't want to find out the plot of this story, let me warn you now that this is a spoiler warning, so don't read anymore. Just scroll down to the section marked END OF SPOILER ALERT to continue reading.

SPOILER WARNING HERE. Skip down to avoid reading about the plot.

Basically, this story is about a tree who provides for a little boy as he grows up. I was revolted & shocked as I read this horrid tale. It left me feeling repulsed & I hated this story.

In this disturbing story, a tree gives up so many things & pieces of itself, all to satisfy the selfish, greedy needs & wants of a little boy, who grows up to be an ungrateful, horrendous human being. Whatever he wants, he just asks of the tree, & the tree willingly gives it to him. And as the beastly boy grows up, he makes even more wretched, despicable demands upon the tree, & the poor tree keeps giving in to these demands! It got to the point where the tree finally gives all of itself, that it dies so that this heinous ingrate can have what he wants! And even in death, that repugnant man finds a way to violate & desecrate that poor tree's corpse!

My gawd how this story shocked me & filled me such hate for a story & a contemptible, foul character. This wasn't a story about sharing & love. This was a story of an abusive, even violent, unhealthy relationship between a character being victimized & abused by a monster taking advantage of this poor, cursed character. I kept thinking, 'You leave that poor tree alone you little bastard!'

And I thought, 'Come on tree! Don't let him take advantage of you! You deserve so much better! You don't need to put up with that piece crap! You are a mighty tree! Now be like a tree & leave!'


I couldn't believe that people actually recommend this book as one that should be read to children. No, it shouldn't be read to children! It shouldn't be read by anyone at all! I read this book as a child, & it was just a rotten, disgusting experience! It was awful!

Over the years, I've come across others who actually praised this book, leaving me shocked & feeling disturbed that some people see selfless service & sacrifice in what I see as a loathsome story of abuse, violence, greed, & senseless destruction & murder!

I saw this book at the library, where I was getting some ideas on which books I ought to share with the little ones in my life. I thought, 'Well, maybe I ought to give this book a second chance. Maybe I could understand it & appreciate it better now.'

So I gave this book another chance, & you know what? It is still a gawd awful, vile, reprehensible book! I still hate this story, & I still detest & loathe that foul, greedy, ungrateful bastard in this book!

I do NOT recommend this wretched book at all. Skip it! Do NOT give this book to children! Do NOT read this book children. The is a dreadful, distressing, depressing, disgusting, disheartening book that should NEVER EVER be shared with children.

I suspect that given the subject matter & plot, this book was never meant for children. If anything, it was meant for adults, a fable for grown ups on the nature of relationships & love. Love is not selfish nor cruel nor does it tear others down. This book is meant for adults to ponder on the meaning of greed & the consequences of losing sight of oneself & the danger of failing to recognize & understand true love.

And there you have it. My reading list for May. It's only two books, but I'm really glad that I read them, because I learned new things & I felt emotions that made me feel alive. Please feel free to join in the Infomaniac Book Challenge & share with us what you read. Reading is important, because it's an exchange of knowledge & a way to communicate ideas, thoughts, & feelings. So join us & share with us what you learned & what you thought & felt about the books you are reading. When we share knowledge, we share power, & we increase our strengths. So share with us & keep giving the gift of reading.

Related Links
Reading list for March