Into the Woods

The following is a sequel to a story posted by The Ceaseless Reader. It’s titled Sick Day. I recommend you check out other posts from his blog.

The dim light of a gray dawn failed to elevate my mood as I locked my door then turned toward my car, and a sudden cloudburst doused what little cheer I had begun trying to muster.

As I exited the highway and turned onto the treacherous county road winding through the rocky hills on my final approach to work, I found myself once again bemused by how I’d arrived there.  The drive had become so routine that my mind disengages, and muscle memory takes over.

But when a sudden, stentorian ripping sound drew my eyes skyward as I approached the tunnel bored through Crummer’s Knob, and I saw an enormous, hairy arm begin to emerge from the slit in the torn clouds, I was instantly present.  Heart pounding and coated in a sheen of chill sweat, I entered the tunnel, pulled to the side, killed the ignition, and reached for my phone.  “B-Boss,”  I stammered, “I don’t think I’m gonna make it in today.”

My Sequel:

In my rearview mirror, I watched the arm crash to the ground. Silence. Then I heard a faint whimpering sound.

Oh, no, I thought, that giant arm has landed on someone. I have to check it out.

“Er, Boss, I might not make it in at all.” Like forever.

I eased out of the car and crept to the edge of the tunnel. The whimpering grew louder; it was coming from the direction of the arm. I looked around and MY CRIMINY! That arm was just an arm! I mean, that was all there was to it! No body attached to it! OH, MY OTHER CRIMINY! It was the arm that was crying!

Now I’m telling you, if you have never heard an arm cry, the sound is downright heartbreaking. I tiptoed closer until I was near the hand.

“Er, Mr. Arm,” I began; then I noticed the fingernails.

“Er, Ms. Arm,” I said, “are you alright?”

The hand started horribly at the sound of my voice and began to shake.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay,” I said. “I’m here to help.”

Oh boy, I thought, how do you help a disembodied arm? And a very large one at that!



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.


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




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






“Mathematics gives a voice to the vision inspired by real world phenomena. The best writing does the same.”
The Book of Rhino

(Painting by Jose Alvarez)


Is It Possible to Sell a Secret?



They Have a Secret
There are a great many books written about secrets; their titles are generic. The Secret to Success, The Secret to Popularity, The Secret to Selling, etc. With so many secrets being sold, are there any left to sell? The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Secret Life of Bees, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. The irony in selling a secret to the public is that, once it is revealed, it is no longer a secret. But people keep buying it; like Schrödinger’s cat, it is simultaneously both alive and dead. But a universe observed is a universe altered by the observation.

I Have a Secret
I, too, have secrets: a secret for success, a secret to popularity–why, I even have a secret for selling mathematics to teenagers, but my secrets are not for sale. Why? It’s because I do not know what they are; my secrets are very secretive, even from me. Oh, I have some reasonable conjectures based on empirical evidence and analysis but nothing definitive. I don’t know enough about my secrets to say, “Aha! I have a secret to sell.”

Archimedes Had a Secret
Getting back to the idea of selling secrets: The secrets I have investigated thus far are not really secrets, at least, not in the sense of being revelations. They are more like common sense ideas that have been wafting around for years that anyone could identify by observing real world phenomena. I suppose whenever a new technology is invented, it is followed by a flurry of secrets on how to best appropriate it. I imagine after Archimedes invented the catapult, some enterprising Achiever produced a pamphlet titled The Secret to Getting the Most out of Your Catapult: The Perfect Arc to Hit Your Mark.

Some Secrets are More Serious Than Others
The Underground Man did not sell his secret, at least not intentionally. He gave it to Liza for the price of her body. His tragedy was not knowing his secret until Liza exposed it; Liza’s tragedy was finding herself possessing a secret that was not intend for sale. How could it be? Who would buy the secret of being a sick man, a spiteful man, an unattractive man. Those secrets are never for sale, yet it was freely given to Liza. The Underground Man hid his questions in her face but never looked for answers. His secret was that his consciousness was his disease. Poor man…he thought it was his liver.

(Hmm…I had a mass on my spleen. Is that where my secrets are hiding?)

The Secret to Levity is No Secret
I don’t think it is possible to sell a secret. But what do I know? It’s a secret. But I can always find a way to laugh, even when I don’t feel like it. The secret? It’s from H. L. Mencken.

Most of the sorrows of man, I incline to think, are caused by just such repining. Alone among the animals, he is dowered with the capacity to invent imaginary worlds, and he is always making himself unhappy trying to move into them. Thus he underrates the world in which he actually lives, and so misses most of the fun of it. That world, I am convinced, could be materially improved, but even as it stands it is good enough to keep any reasonable man entertained for a lifetime.





The Daffodils’ Riff

Daffodils copyI wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
William Wordsworth 1807


Ever since Wordsworth immortalized the dance of the daffodils in verse, the little flowers have taken their dances seriously. They consider it their responsibility ensure “the bliss of solitude” that fills a poet’s heart with pleasure. So every year, the daffodils hold a contest among themselves for creating the best riff on the original dance of 1807.

As the years have gone by, the riffs have changed to reflect the times; nonetheless, the original movements of the dance viewed by Wordsworth must be included. For the most part, the contestants have adhered to the rules with few exceptions. (There was the scandal of the “petal malfunction” in 2004, but it’s best to leave that in the past.)

In 1940, there was a dispute over the waltz, inspired by the Disney movie Fantasia. Some of the judges felt any waltz steps would make it seem like the daffodils were trying to mimic the flowers in the film. Daffodils, as every knows, never idolize or imitate anyone. In the end, the waltz was abandoned for five years, after which time it was considered free from any comparison to Fantasia.

There are four judges each year. They retain their posts until they die, wilt, are plucked up, mown over, trampled upon, or are eaten by gophers. If a judge gets too crabby (which rarely occurs), it is quietly poisoned, and another judge takes its place. Overall, they are a cheery group.

This is the time of year when the contestants are practicing their riffs for the upcoming spring of 2018. Rumor has it that the movie Hidden Figures has inspired a number of new and unusual moves. It should be an interesting exposition.

Daily Prompt:Riff


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




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.)