The “E” Ticket

The Daily Press Prompt is Witty

On Fridays, I usually write about authors and books and since witty books written by witty authors are my favorites, I had no problem responding to the prompt.

When Disneyland was young, you could purchase tickets for rides individually or you could by a coupon book. The tickets were ranked according to fun level and popularity of the ride, with “A” being the cheapest (usually the rides for small children) and “E” being the most expensive for the thrill rides or most entertaining rides (like The Matterhorn); the in-between rides were “B”, “C”, and “D.”

The coupon book was the better value so we always purchased it, and then hoarded the highly-prized “E” tickets. Witty books written by witty authors are the “E” tickets of literature. They are engaging, entertaining, enlightening, encouraging, edifying, and empowering. They are the only books to which I give a five-star review. So here is my list of E-ticket fiction books.

Fantasy The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, and Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis

Science Fiction Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov

Mystery Robot Series by Isaac Asimov and the novels of Agatha Christie

Culture and Society The Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope, the novels of Jane Austen, and the novels of P. G. Wodehouse

Children and Young Adult The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, Anne of Green Gables Series by Lucy M. Montgomery, and The Time Series by Madeleine L’Engle.

There are not many books on the list, which is expected in a normal distribution. The “E” books are rare, comprising a very small percent of the book population. The other reason reason for the paucity of “E” books is that all but one of the authors is deceased. That makes it rather difficult to read their new books–they aren’t writing any.

The fact that I love the “E” books does not deter me from reading other books; they are like the “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D” tickets in the Disneyland coupon books. I read quite a bit, always in search of the elusive “E” ticket.

Finally, I have to include everything I write for The Book of Rhino as an “E” book. It would have to be because I put everything I love into it, which makes it valuable only to me and those particular readers who share my particular taste in literature. I suspect that we are also on the far end of a normal distribution, comprising only a small percent of the reading public. That’s alright. Someone has occupy that standard deviation.


Purposeful Coincidence

Note to self: The Daily Press Word-of-the-Day is Coincidence . It reminded me of the following excerpt from The Book of Rhino ~ The Religion and that there are no coincidences in Fairy Land.


It is no use trying to account for things in Fairy Land; and one who travels there soon learns to forget the very idea of doing so, and takes everything as it comes; like a child, who, being in a chronic condition of wonder, is surprised at nothing.

– George MacDonald, Phantastes

Rhino dreamed he was in a great forest, solemn as a mountain, crowned with a cluster of stars, which threw down their spears in brilliant shafts of light. As he moved slowly among the trees, he became aware of the sound of water. First a whisper, then a shout, and finally a roar heralded a mighty wave that crashed through the branches and pounded at his feet. An answering tumult behind the boy caused him to abruptly turn and witness a river bursting its bonds from inside a rock. Sounds echoed around him of deepening pools formed by the streams at his feet. It was twilight; his heart sang the song of the waters in their greetings to one another. They called out to him, inviting him to partake of their joy.

When the waters abated, Rhino continued his journey through the forest. A hushed solemnity pervaded the atmosphere; it was fitting. The trees had removed their sandals from their feet for this was holy ground. The silence was so deep Rhino felt rather than heard the presence of another man entering the far end of the forest. In his arms he carried a babe. His measured tread and downcast face suggested a funeral procession. When the man reached Rhino, he stopped. A torc of gold circled his neck. He held out the child to Rhino, who gazed on the tiny face with compassion. He touched the child’s face, tracing the curve of dark circles under its eyes. The child stirred and opened its eyes in gratitude. Then the man pressed the child to his breast, his face of full hope and gladness, and strode from the forest, his footsteps now proclaiming victory.

High above the chimney of the trees, one star blazed brighter than its fellows. It slowly descended from its great height until it hovered directly in front of Rhino. The star glowed at five distinct points, each point touching a six-sided halo of gold. The trees began to flicker and wave about wildly. Rhino awakened and discovered that the fire in the hearth was nearly spent. In its remaining light, he made his way to the window and looked for the dawn. He did not fully understand the dream, but Master Altman had once said that visions and dreams speak for the soul, and the true heart finds a way to listen.

Rhino was disturbed. He felt he was called to search for something, but he had no idea what it was. Perhaps Albion held a secret that he was meant to find. Whatever the mystery, Rhino was not at all keen on discovering what it was. That was the thing about mysteries—they were just too mysterious! As far back as he could remember, Rhino had always led a very pragmatic life; however, it seemed that ever since his encounter with Amalia, another part of him was tapping at the door. His heart wanted something from him, and he had an uncomfortable suspicion it would not be altogether practical.

“Very well,” Rhino whispered in the darkness. “I will go exploring with you…BUT! We are going to do it my way.”

The Planet Paris


The Book of Rhino ~ Between the Lines

Amalia awoke one morning to the sounds of whispers and muffled giggles. She sat up in bed and leaned over the other side. On the floor were Anna and cousin Bethna, busy at play.

“Mole! You’re awake!” Anna shouted. “I am taking Bethna to the planet Paris. It’s her first time.”

“Paris!” said Amalia. “Do you still go there?”

“Of course,” said Anna, “they expect us, you know, although I haven’t been there since you went away. Bethna is old enough now to go with me. See? We have everything packed and ready to go.”

Amalia surveyed the scene on the floor. Three pairs of shoes were lined up heel to toe and were tied together with string, forming a long train. The shoes were filled with an assortment of odd and ends. There were tiny dolls made of cornhusks and strands of wool; there were small animals, some carved from wood and some constructed of acorns and pinecones. One of the shoes was filled with bits of cloth, sticks, and strings, and another shoe was stuffed with nuts and dried apples. The remaining shoes carried a small crock of honey, pieces of bread, and a flask of water.

“Are you taking the usual route?” asked Amalia.

“Yes,” said Anna. “Since this is Bethna’s first time, she needs to learn the way. I promise we will be back in time for supper.”

Bethna hopped on the bed and put her arms around Amalia.

“Would you like to come with us?” she asked. “You can have my share of the food.”

Amalia kissed her cousin.

“I would love to; Paris is the most beautiful of the planets and well worth a visit. My goodness, I think it’s been over a year since we last made the trip.”

“If it’s so beautiful, why don’t you go there all the time?” asked Bethna. “Why don’t you just live there?”

“Oh, no,” said Amalia. “That would spoil it, make it commonplace. That’s the way it is with all great treasures. Too much, too soon, or too often and they lose what makes them special. It’s like the Harvest Festival; knowing that it comes around just once a year makes it that much more wonderful. We have all the pleasure of preparation and anticipation beforehand and all the memories when it’s over.”

“Amalia’s right,’ said Anna. “Hasn’t it been exciting planning and packing for our trip to Paris? And when we return, we can talk about all the fun times we had and interesting things we saw.”

Bethna clapped her hands.

“Oh, I can hardly wait! Is it almost time?”

Amalia and Anna inspected their caravan and nodded.

“Off to Paris!” they said. “And may good fortune guide our way.”

Daily Prompt:Planet

Make Like a Tree


It is astonishing that a collection of statements that are individually true can be used, in combination, to yield an effect that the truth should not.

Isaac Asimov ~ Robots and Empire

The Daily Prompt word-of-the-day is Leaf
This reminds me of that classic trope “Make like a tree and leaf” that is popular at one time or another among the grade school set. Once my friends and I discovered the charm of make like a tree and leaf, we branched out into similar phrases.

“Make like a banana and split.”

“Make like the wind and blow.”

“Make like butter and fly.”

These are examples of how a collection of words, strung together in a sentence, should not make sense, but somehow do. It’s like the writings of P. G. Wodehouse.

“Tuppy’s fatheaded words were still rankling in my bosom as I went to my room. They continued rankling as I shed the form-fitting, and had not ceased to rankle when I made my way down to corridor to the sale de bain. It is not too much to say that I was piqued to the tonsils.”

I understand—it’s what I mean when I say something fries my toast.

(Note to self: I wonder if Wodehouse would know what that means, if he were alive and remotely interested in reading my blog.)

I use the phrase fries my toast once in a while with great satisfaction. Other phrases come to mind, ones that I have strung together from words that somehow fit to make a meaning.

“I’ll be your best bet.”

“I smell your feet.”

It’s not really speaking in metaphors; it’s sort of a pre-metaphor way of thinking. Wodehouse was especially adept at it.

“Augustus Fink-Nottle was Nature’s final word in cloth-headed guffins.”

“I am never at my best when the situation calls for a certain soupiness.”

I love reading Wodehouse because he knows how to gather words around each other, make them get along, and inspire them to express new and delicious ideas.

I smell his feet.

Mighty Wilfred

Note: I thought I would not be posting for a while but then I read the word of the day:Mighty It reminded me of the following passage from The Book of Rhino ~ The Revelation; I just had to share it. It certainly cheered me up.


“Follow this tunnel to a gate; inside the gate is a private garden. Here is the key. You will find Skandar waiting inside.” Then with a bow, Lord Lokinvar left Amalia alone outside the tunnel. With a rapidly beating heart, Amalia raced down the tunnel. Her trembling hands could scarcely insert the key in the lock. The gate swung open silently as Amalia pushed her way inside. She walked timidly into the garden and saw Skandar sitting on a bench with three other boys. She heard the sound of laughter. One of the boys glanced in her direction and saw her standing there.

“Hey, Skandar, I think your friend is here.” Skandar whipped his head around. Then with a whoop, he sprang from his seat, sprinted over to Amalia, and crushed her in a whirling embrace.

“Mole, I am so glad to see you. I am so glad that you came. Oh, Mole, I have missed you so.”

It was several seconds before he released her so that she could look at him properly.

“Great Light! Look at you! This is as bad as the nettles. Am I ever going to see what you really look like?” Skandar laughed and they embraced once again.

“Hoy, lads, come here and meet Amalia—Mole. She is the one I was telling you about. If anyone can find Rhino, she can.”

Amalia had no time to question this strange salutation because the next instant, she was surrounded by the other boys as introductions were handed around. Her hand was grabbed and pumped repeatedly.

“Hello, I’m Trevor; my father is Lord Vortimer of Essex.”

“I’m Elbert of Kent, the son of Lord Ethelred.”

“I’m Wilfred—but they call me ‘the Mighty’.”

“We do not.”

“Well, you should.”

“Why? What are you so mighty at—eating?”

“Lads, will you settle down a bit? You are going to scare her away.”

“Come on, Amalia, over here.” Skandar led Amalia to the bench. She and Skandar sat down and Wilfred, Elbert, and Trevor settled themselves on the grass in front of them. They looked up at Amalia expectantly.

“Amalia, I told the lads all about you and about the magic we discovered. They know about the cave and its magic ‘cause I took them there. So whatever you want to say about it, it’s alright. I even told them about my nickname, ‘Skunk.’ They like it so much they want one of their own.” He looked pointedly at Wilfred. “But no one is calling you ‘the Mighty.’”

Amalia was taken aback.

“Err…what is it you want me to do,” she asked.

“We would like you to find Rhino and bring him back,” said Elbert. “We think he is lost.”

Taking a Break


This is my last post for a while. I have lymphoma and have to start chemotherapy. Under its influence, I doubt I will feel much like writing.

I really like the blogging community and will miss my daily interactions. I hope to be back to normal by the first of the new year.

Many blessings to all you fellow bloggers; may you enjoy success in all your endeavors.

I hope during my absence that Rhino will not be forgotten.

S. M. Hart

Penchant for the Unknown

Kleitsch-Older Ned

(Rhino Between the Lines)

“Older Ned,” said Rhino, “what was my father like when he was my age? Am I like him?”

“Your father, eh,” said Older Ned. “Well, now, I’ll tell you what I recollect of him, and you can decide how alike you are. When I first met your father, I could see right away that he was practical. To him, everything had to have a purpose or he wasn’t interested. The one thing he was passionate about was history. Your father was drawn to older people and used to pump stories outta them ‘til they were near dry. He could out-listen the most determined talker. You see, he wanted more than knowledge; he wanted understanding, and he thought if he knew the origin of things, he would understand them. He could not accept the unknown.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked Rhino.

“Nothin’, lad, nothin’ at all,” replied Older Ned. “It’s fittin’ for the room one happens to be in.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well, it’s a person’s dance with knowledge. I call it a room. Look, when you’re first born, you don’t know anything, and you don’t know that you don’t know anything. It’s like you’re in a room, but you don’t know the room is there. Then as you grow older, you learn a few things, one of them being that you are in a room. But all you know is what you know—you don’t yet know that there are things you don’t know. Then one day, you are aware that there is life outside the room.”

“I remember that!” said Rhino excitedly. “I remember thinking that there were things I did not know—like how to tie a knot or do arithmetic. It was about that time, I began formal education.” Rhino laughed. “I remember I wanted to study history; I guess I’m like my father that way. So what is next? Going outside the room?”

“In a sense, yes. Only there’s a trick to it. What some people think is going outside the room is really just redecorating it or making it larger.”

“So how do you go outside the room?”

“Ah, there’s the rub. It depends on the measure of faith you have in yourself. Can you believe that there are things you do not know and accept that you do not know what they are?”

“But…” Rhino looked puzzled. “How can a person do that?”

“It’s a process that is unique to the individual. That’s why it’s so hard to nab. Your father’s penchant for knowledge was his greatest asset, but it also was his greatest barrier. Your greatest asset is your greatest barrier to moving beyond the room.”

Rhino was silent for a few moments.

“Older Ned, I think you have stepped outside the room. What does it look like for you?”

Older Ned smiled and shook his head.

“I ain’t there yet. I don’t rightly know—and that’s good. All I have is an idea that keeps pokin’ at me while I’m sittin’ with it. At first I thought it was accepting that there is no longer a room, but now I’m thinkin’ that the room never existed in the first place. But what do I know?”

Daily Prompt: Penchant

Real Neat Blog Award!

Mah Butt Itches nominated me for this award. I think that is so thoughtful of her to do. So I hope that others read her blog–she always features an image of Jeff Goldblum. Plus, I think you will enjoy her answers to the questions.

Mah Butt Itches


I’m so flattered, honored, and stoked that my dear Courtney at Tales of A Hypochondriac nominated me for the Real Neat Blog Award!  This is my first nomination, and it means a lot to me.  Not to get too tangential, but I am finding it amazing how the Universe, whatever you want to call it, sends you nudges when you need them.  I stopped writing for almost a month (the newfound hippie in me could possibly attribute it to Mercury being in retrograde…) and I genuinely felt like giving up writing altogether.  As I wasn’t writing or even looking at my blog, I realized how much I missed the people I’ve connected with on here.  When I started writing, it was more of venting, ranting, raving, though I had aspirations I would be the next Glennon Doyle Melton or some such.  It’s funny, I don’t care so much either way…

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Sympathy ~ Empathy ~ Apathy

Millais-Children's Tea

The Daily Press word-of-the-day is Sympathy. In one definition of sympathy, the word empathy is given as a synonym. This is not entirely correct. For clarity’s sake, here are annotated definitions of sympathy, empathy, and apathy from Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language 1989.

Sympathy: harmony of or agreement of feelings, as between persons or on behalf of one person with respect to another; the fact or power of sharing the feelings of others.

Empathy: the intellectual identification with or a vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of others.

Apathy: lack of interest in or concern for things others find moving or exciting; indifference.

Example: I sympathize with someone who has lost a parent through death because I know what that is like. I empathize with someone who has lost a child through death because I can imagine what that is like.

The fact that we can sympathize and/or empathize with another person’s thoughts or feelings underscores the importance of finding your “no.” Without appropriate boundaries, feelings of sympathy or empathy can lead to emotional enmeshment. Left unchecked, “enmeshment can contribute to dysfunctional relationships, especially among family members, and can lead to a lack of autonomy and independence.”

In my opinion, fear of enmeshment is one of the reasons for apathy in a person—he or she sees sympathy and empathy as slippery slopes. People without an effective “no” cannot establish and maintain boundaries in their relationships. In their eyes, it is better to remain unengaged than to engage and get swallowed up in another person’s issues.

However, I think that one of the signs of emotional maturity is the ability to take emotional risks. An emotionally mature person is able to sympathize and empathize with the thoughts and feelings of others in a beneficial way. Finding your no is a key step to growth.

Daily Prompt:Sympathy



The crescendo of the music ended abruptly with a loud crash of sound.

“Argh! I’ll never get this right!” he said.

For a five year old, Mr. Turtle can be daunting.

“It’s alright,” I said. “You’ve almost got it. Just take your time.”

My son put his head down on the piano and thought a minute. Then he once more began playing.

Mi, re, do, re, mi, fa, sol, fa, mi, re, mi, re, do. Mi, re, do, re, mi, fa, sol, fa, mi, re, do…

“ARGH! I give up!”
He started crying. I put my arm around him.

“Why don’t you take a break for a while? Mr. Turtle can wait. He knows he will get to where he’s going, if not today, some other day.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, think of the words of the song. Mr. Turtle, see him go, walking there, kind of slow. Going down so carefully, going to the sea. Mr. Turtle is taking his time, but he will get to the sea. You keep on practicing and you’ll eventually play this song. Someday, you’ll look back on Mr. Turtle and think of how easy it is. Every song is a Mr. Turtle song; if you want to master it, you just keep going.”

My son thought a minute and placed his fingers on the keys.

Mi, re, do, re, mi, fa, sol, fa, mi, re, mi, re, do. Mi, re, do, re, mi, fa, sol, fa, mi, re, mi, do.

Perfect. Mr. Turtle made it to the sea.

She remembered Mr. Turtle a few years later sitting in the audience at the Young Musicians Concert. Through the years, Mr. Turtle had encouraged her son through increasingly difficult piano pieces. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach were all mastered under the influence of Mr. Turtle. A crescendo of applause startled her out of her reverie. Her son was making his way to the stage to accept his prize: first place.

Go, Mr. Turtle, she thought.

Daily Prompt:Crescendo

(Note: This prompt reminded me of when my son was learning to play the piano. Mr. Turtle was real.)