Reading Her Story


Life reminds me of a book I’ve read. This could mean either I have read a lot of books or I don’t get out much. I’m not too fussed about it either way.

I do enjoy reading my own story as long as I remember it’s a mystery, not a biography.

(Artwork by James Christensen)



On Knowing That You Know (Or Not)


In the sun born over and over
I ran my heedless ways…
Nothing I cared in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Dylan Thomas ~ Fern Hill

 When does one know and know that one knows? When does one know that he or she does not know? The transition into knowledge is as mysterious to me as it is beautiful. One day a child runs her heedless ways, and the next she knows her ways were heedless. Like a universe observed, the heedless ways vanish once they are acknowledged. But they can be remembered.

All children deserve their heedless ways.
I recently realized why I did not finish Thomas Wolfe’s novel Look Homeward, Angel. I did not like the fact that he did not allow his character, Eugene Gant, to be heedless. From the moment of his birth, Eugene was born with a headful of heed. He knew. Who wants to give a child that kind of knowledge? What is he going to do with it? It was depressing. (The novel is considered to be autobiographical; if so, I pity Wolfe.)

All children deserve the lamb white days.
One of the reasons I love The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is that he allows his character Lyra her share of lamb white days. She prowls around Oxford with her friends, playing games, making war, and telling tales. One of the themes of Pullman’s His Dark Materials is the transition into knowledge, but he honors the innocence that precedes it.

“All children deserve a strong name.” Bill Martin
The reason I chose the name Amalia for one of my characters is because it fits the name of Mole; Mole is Amalia’s childhood name. Mole is the evidence that Amalia was allowed to run her heedless ways before she makes the transition into knowledge. However, I wonder if I gave her enough heedless ways, enough lamb white days.

All children deserve the high hills.
The great thing about creating characters is you can give them wonderful things. I can write about Amalia between the lines. I can give her any number of high hills in which to prowl with her friends. I can allow her to run her heedless ways. It will be easy because I remember.

For me the high hills did not forever flee the childless land; they merely took a break. Now they are running around, playing games, making war, and telling tales. I just have to ask them to come in and sit with me a while. I can take their tall tales and spin them into stories about Amalia and Skandar and Rhino. It will be great because, once in while, even we adults deserve our heedless ways.

When One Should Not Compromise the No


Michael Fishing

“I do not pretend to possess equal frankness with your ladyship. You may ask questions, which I shall not choose to answer.”
Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice

The Daily Prompt is Compromise  which reminds me of Shaun White at the Olympics.

Derailing a Press Conference
In the 2018 Winter Games, Shaun White won his third gold medal in snowboarding. He deserved it. His winning run was amazing; it was poetry on the half-pipe. He gave a news conference afterward on what it was like to win a third gold medal. It was going along well until a reporter asked him about allegations of past sexual misconduct. Awkward. White was prepped and primed for questions about the Olympics, his medal run, snowboarding, his competitors, and suddenly he was faced with an off-topic question. He cobbled together an answer that some people judged as unsatisfactory. But who could blame him? His mind was racing down one track when it was blindsided by a reporter on another. In my opinion, Shaun White’s problem was that he attempted to answer the question in the first place. He needed to realize that not all questions deserve an answer, especially the ones that are off topic.

Diverting a Class Lecture
Students are adept at asking off-topic questions. They do it to divert the lesson from a boring subject to one that is more interesting. I used this tactic myself to great effect. Once, at the beginning of a class on business law, I asked the teacher about his stint in the navy. What followed was an entertaining fifty-minute monologue about life on a navy ship. It was hilarious. A wise teacher would have recognized what I was attempting and would not have been distracted. (On the other hand, perhaps the teacher was just as bored by business law as we were and was glad for an excuse to change the subject.) The point is: Not all questions need to be answered.

Delivering a Sale
Phone solicitors use questions as a selling tool. They want to know all sorts of things about you, trying to get you to compromise your privacy. What was your energy bill last month? How much do you pay for homeowners’ insurance? What is your social security number? Do you wear boxers or briefs? (Okay, I made up the last one.) Whatever the questions, phone solicitors know if they can get you to answer, then they have a chance at selling you something. However, one is not under any obligation to answer their questions.

Dissembling an Opinion
Donald Trump seems to have learned this lesson since he became president. He provides all sorts of non-answers to the many questions reporters lob at him. Of course, that then becomes the story.

  • Donald Trump refuses to answer questions on immigration.
  • The President ignored repeated questions about Rob Porter’s wives.
  • BREAKING NEWS! When asked if he planned to release his 2017 tax return, Donald Trump looked out the window.

At each press conference, I can sense the reporters’ frustration as their questions go unanswered. I feel sorry for them; after all, they are human, they have a job to do, but they are going about it the wrong way. Pestering Trump with off-topic questions only strengthens his resolve not to answer them. There is a way to get people like him to answer questions, but it involves emotional manipulation, something I consider unethical.

Declining an Answer
I stumbled on the power of emotional manipulation accidentally when I was a teacher, sort of like Andrew Fleming and penicillin. Actually, it was more like discovering how to split an atom. It was a powerful, yet dreadful tool. It was like Ice-Nine in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle. Once I used it the first time, I just could not use it again. That is why if anyone wants to know how to get people to answer off-topic questions, I will not answer. Not every question deserves an answer. I do not compromise my no.

The Liebster Award


A. J. Reeves, who writes milesofpages, has nominated me for the Liebster Award.

What is the Liebster Award?

“The Liebster Award 2017 is an award that exists only on the Internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.” The Global Aussie

The Official Rules of the Liebster Award 2018

  • Link to the Liebster website.
  • Answer the questions given to you.
  • Nominate up to ten bloggers that you follow who (a) meet the criteria of Liebster and (b) have no more than 200 followers.
  • Create more questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Comment on this blog post with a link DIRECTLY to your Liebster award.

What is milesofpages?
A.J. Reeves maintains an interesting and informative website of book reviews, literary analysis, writing advice, original fiction, and M. A. L. C. O. L. M, an ongoing romantic comedy about Olivia Moore, her friend Addison Lockwood, and M. A. L. C. O. L. M, and human-like machine Addison has created.

I especially appreciate Reeves’ book reviews. She gives an overview of the setting, characters, and plot outline, and then explains what she likes and does not like about the book. She is very thorough.

I also appreciate that A. J. Reeves nominated me for a Liebster award; it is an honor and an act of kindness on her part.

Questions From milesofpages Which I Answered Truthfully

  1. What book had the most impact on you? The Bible
  2. What movie would be greatly improved if it was made into a musical? Children of the Corn – call it “Children of the Con” and make it about people who are conned into giving their life savings to children.
  3. If giving the choice with literary man or woman would you like to have a relationship with? and what relationship? (friend/co-consiprator/love interest/enemy/etc.) I would like to be one of C. S. Lewis’ close friends.
  4. What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever worn? The back end of a horse costume–I should add, it was a dancing horse.
  5.  What part of a kid’s movie completely scarred you? I cannot recall being scarred by a kid’s movie.
  6. If you were arrested with no explanation, what would your friends and family assume you had done? They might assume I had written a political letter to the editor.
  7. What is your weirdest hobby? Looking for number patterns in my car’s odometer and rejoicing when I find one.
  8. What secret conspiracy would you like to start? I would not start a secret conspiracy; conspiracies are too complicated for me to think about.
  9. What mythical creature would improve the world most if it existed? A unicorn would be most helpful; here in California, it could lead us to water. There is an implied unicorn in the world of Albion, which I think is an improvement.
  10.  What’s the most imaginative insult you can come up with? My math study group had a great one: “You are undefined.”

My List of Liebster Nominees
Oh, dear. This is the one rule I cannot follow. Of the blogs I follow, only four of them meet the criteria for number of followers. Of those four, only one meets the criteria for the Liebster award, and that blog has already been nominated. This is disturbing to me because I always strive to follow the rules. If this disqualifies me from the Liebster award, I understand.

However, in my own defense, I admit to reading under the influence of H. L. Mencken, a writer whom no one would accuse of being a Liebster. A glance at the books on my bookshelves reveals there are no Liebsters among their authors.

Nonetheless, I do want to respect the intent of the Liebster award and honor the blogger who nominated me. To do so, I decided to make all of my questions about the books on one’s bookshelves. I love to peruse the titles on people’s bookshelves; they speak volumes about a person’s tastes, values, and interests.

My Questions About The Books Are On Your Bookshelves

  1. Are the majority of the books on your bookshelves fiction or nonfiction, or are they approximately an equal amount of both?
  2. Are the majority of the books on your bookshelves written by men or by women, or are both genders equally represented?
  3. Which of the following is the predominant time period for the settings of your fiction books: the ancient past, dark ages – medieval times, 16th – 18th centuries, 19th century, 20th – 21st centuries, or the future?
  4. Which of the following is the predominant topic of your nonfiction books: History, Language Arts, Mathematics, Philosophy, Religion, Science, or Social Science?
  5. Which book on your bookshelves would you make mandatory reading for high school students?
  6. Which of your books would you require members of Congress to read in order to qualify for office?
  7. Which fiction book on your bookshelves have you read the most?
  8. Which nonfiction book on your bookshelves have you read the most?
  9. Which fiction book is your latest acquisition?
  10. Which nonfiction book is your latest acquisition?


Even though I do not have a list of nominees, I hope that people who read this blog will take the time to answer my questions. Thank you for sharing.

Curious Hart



George MacDonald ~ Mary Cassatt


“Here I lay in a delicious reverie for some time, during which all lovely forms, and colours, and sounds seemed to use my brain as a common hall, where they could come and go, unbidden and unexcused.

“I had never imagined that such capacity for simple happiness lay in me, as was now awakened by this assembly of forms and spiritual sensation, which yet were far too vague to admit of being translated into any shape common to my own and another mind.”

George MacDonald ~ Phantastes (1858)

Painting by Mary Cassatt



Thoughts on the Illumination of Shadows


“If there were no shadows, we could not fully perceive the beauty of light.”
The Book of Rhino ~ The Revelation

Thinking Like a Hunter
Aldo Leopold wrote that when he was young he thought that “fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise.” He never passed up an opportunity to kill a wolf. It was not until many years later that he realized that a mountain might have a different opinion about deer and wolves. Leopold eventually saw the havoc wreaked on a mountain by too many deer and not enough wolves to keep them in check.

Thinking Like a Deer
The deer on Leopold’s mountain overgrazed the trees and shrubs, robbing the mountain of its shade. Without sufficient shade, grasses withered under the heat of the sun and deprived the deer of a food source. The number of deer eventually outpaced the food supply, and the deer began to starve. The deer needed the wolves for the welfare of the herd, but they did not know it. They saw the wolves as shadows.

Thinking Like a Wolf
Leopold wrote: “Just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades.”
Sand County Almanac
The wolves protected the mountain, and in return, the mountain gave the wolves its caves and rocks for dens. The wolves did not know they were shadows.

Thinking Like a Mountain
One day a child learns of evil. Her world is undone, and she cries out to the universe. She cannot comprehend why anything that is not good is allowed to exist. It seems so unfair, so unjust to her. She longs to return to the innocence of light; she does not want to acknowledge the shadows.

But what she does not yet realize is that her mind, her heart, and her soul have come to an agreement that it is time for her to grow. Her eyes are ready for a greater vision, one that can only be seen with the help of shadows. But shadows are not always safe; sometimes they have teeth and claws that rend and tear. The child could spend the rest of her life killing wolves, thinking they are shadows. On the other hand, she could think like a mountain.

Appreciation and Gratitude


Thank you, all you lovely people who are following my blog. I really appreciate it. I am honored and feel motivated to make sure whatever I write is worth reading. It’s like my number one rule for teaching: Do Not Bore the Students.

In the light of that, I am going to reduce the number of times I regularly post from three times a week to once a week. I do not want to publish mediocre content just to get something “out there.” Quality is preferred over quantity, (unless one is H. L. Mencken who could apparently produce both.) Reducing the number of posts also avoids inundating you with articles to read. I might feel inspired to publish more than once but only if the content is worthy.

I needed to pick a day on which to post so I decided on Wednesday because it starts with the letter “W” and so do the words Writing and Why. I think that those are two of the loveliest words in the universe. It is as great a privilege to ask why as it is to write about it. I also picked Wednesday in honor of Wednesday’s Child. According to the rhyme, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” When I was a child and first read the rhyme, my heart was moved with compassion for Wednesday’s child. I wanted to comfort her (I thought it was a girl.) I still feel the same about Wednesday’s children. I want to comfort and care for them and be their advocate.

Enough said. I hope that whoever is reading this has a very lovely day. Many blessings to you all.

Curious Hart