Amusing Partners

Waterhouse-Trevor

“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”

Salvor Hardin ~ Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Between the Lines ~ The Faerie Queen

Ed heard the door open.

“Thank goodness, you’re here,” he said. “Please, sit; I need your help–immediately.”

Clio and Calliope sat down at the table, looking mildly amused and somewhat puzzled.

“Well?” they said.

“It’s like this,” said Ed. “You remember when Muse and I wrote that nice little pastoral piece about trees and shepherds and babbling brooks? Well, now she’s got it into her pea brain that I should write an epic.”

“What?”

“That’s right! An epic—She thinks I should trade in my pipes and flutes for a trumpet.”

“For Heavens’ sake, why?”

“Oh, she’s hell-bent on…how did she put it? ‘Rivers of wrath, oodles of blood, outrageous acts of foolishness disguised as courage, and unbelievable stupidity passing for love’, and all set in a completely unreal world of fantasy.”

Clio shrugged.

“So she wants you to write an epic. Calliope can help you punch it out in a wink.”

“It’s more than that,” Ed groaned. “Muse wants it to be a morality play. What do I know about morals? The last time I had morals, I got into no end of trouble. Besides, I think Wilson borrowed them a while back and hasn’t returned them.”

“Well, if it’s morality you need, Clio got loads she can lend you, “ said Calliope. “She has all those histories and such of Faerie knights and whatnot.”

“Do you really, Calliope?”

“Sure thing. If it weren’t for morality, there would be precious little history to record.”

Ed looked relieved, but then he frowned.

“Look here,” he said. “If I go messing around with morals, who knows what the consequences will be. I don’t want to be accused of abusing my muses for my own amusement. After all, look at what happened to King Arthur and all he suffered. You both have to promise to forgive me if we all end up dead.”

“Er…if we’re dead, does it really matter?”

“Then, how about a pre-forgiveness?”

Clio and Calliope looked at each other and nodded.

“That will work.”

“Great! Then helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tong.”

To Be Continued.

Daily Prompt:Partner

Foggy Notion

Fog

Rhino Between the Lines

Amalia looked around in wonder.

What is this place? she thought. Look at all this fog! Why, I can’t see more than fifty feet in any direction.

“Hey!”

A voice called out behind Amalia, making her jump. She turned around and saw a woman walking out of the fog, a tentative smile on her face.

“I didn’t expect to see anyone here besides me,” said the woman. “When it gets foggy like this, I can’t even see myself. Well, here you are, and who are you, my dear?”

“Er, my name is Amalia.”

“Pleased to meet you. I’m Mrs. Notion. Welcome to my world.”

“Your world!” said Amalia. “And what world is that?”

Mrs. Notion laughed and rapped the side of her head with her knuckles.

“Why, the one inside here! This is my world and you’re in it.”

“Oh, I beg your pardon,” said Amalia. “I did not mean to intrude.”

“It’s quite alright,” said Mrs. Notion. “I was in the mood for company. It’s not often that I get any visitors—especially on a foggy day like today. Will you join me?”

“Certainly,” said Amalia. “Where are we going?”

“I haven’t the foggiest,” said Mrs. Notion. She and Amalia walked down the road and disappeared into the fog.

Daily Prompt:Foggy

Unique Blogger Award

Mucha-Amalia

I have been nominated for the Unique Blogger Award by noneuclideansofa, whose blog is exemplary for its uniqueness. That NES should include me in his list of unique bloggers is an honor. I am very appreciative of this recognition and will do my best to abide by its social compact. (Note: I am currently reading Foundation’s Edge in which one of the characters uses abbreviations as a sign of friendliness and respect. It is in this spirit that I am using the initials NES for noneuclideansofa.)

The rules of the Unique Blogger Award are:

  • Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  • Answer the questions.
  • In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate eight to ten people for the same award.
  • Ask them three questions.

Here are my answer the three questions I was asked.

  1. What is something you’d show from a rooftop on a Sunday night during a rainstorm? Also, explain why at your leisure.

If I were on a rooftop on a Sunday night during a rainstorm, I would show passersby why it is not a good idea to be on a rooftop on a Sunday night during a rainstorm because of what happened the last time I went “perching.” It was a Saturday night, it was not raining, and the hotel upon which I sat with my sister and my cousin was only three stories tall. Nevertheless, it was dangerous. On the way up, we interrupted some guys on the stairwell preparing to…well, never mind. They barked at us and told us to move along. I was worried that they might push us off the roof.

  1. What is something you could enjoy complaining a lot about?

I could very much enjoy complaining about the excellence of our government. Imagine if that was the case—think of what wonderful rants equity, economy, effectiveness, and efficiency could inspire! The E-ticket!

  1. What is something you think about that keeps you awake?

Thinking about projects keeps me awake. I don’t know why it is that 2:00 in the morning is the time to think about writing, reading, sewing, cooking, shopping, and keeping the bats out of the patio. You would think I had nothing better to do.

I hope the answers to these questions are sufficient. I enjoyed thinking about them (but not at night.)

Here are my nominees for the Unique Blogger Award:

https://northofandover.wordpress.com/

https://coreydtruax.com/

http://www.charleydaveler.com/index.htm

https://agathachocolats.com/

https://flash-365.com/

https://jamesrneal.com/

https://cafebookbean.org/

https://ireadencyclopedias.wordpress.com/

 

Here are my three questions for these unique bloggers

  1. What is the most recent book you have read?
  2. What literary character do you think would enjoy reading that book?
  3. Why do you think that character would enjoy reading it?

Thank you for your participation. I hope you enjoy it. Looking forward to reading your answers.

Curious Hart

 

 

 

Inferior Superior

Parrish-Society

Finding Your No

What do you do when you work for a supervisor or manager that is ineffectual and/or incompetent, someone who hasn’t the education, the experience, or the expertise for the position? For example, how do you deal with someone who gives you little or no direction or the wrong directions, and then blames you for his error? Perhaps you are a teacher who has been assigned to teach a class but is not given any curriculum; then you are reprimanded for what you are teaching. Suppose your boss places you in charge of scheduling, changes the schedule without telling you, and then holds you responsible for the ensuing chaos. (Note: These are all real scenarios.) What do you do?

Here are my recommendations based on personal experience.

  1. Set your own goals, standards, and expectations based on principles of truth, integrity, perseverance, and competence. Make your standards exceed the company or group standards. This builds your capital and strengthens your voice.
  2. Create your own timeline and agenda with built-in flex time for emergencies—especially those created by your supervisor. Keep a daily journal of your time and activities. This documents the work that you do.
  3. Document everything. Takes notes during meetings, allowing it to be known that you are taking notes.
  4. Keep the focus of any meeting or discussion on the present situation or task. Do not allow yourself to be sidetracked by peripheral issues or vague tangents until the issue at hand is addressed to your satisfaction.
  5. Front-load as much as possible by setting up group norms and common agreements. Do not assume that everyone is thinking alike. Make an agreement of expectations, definitions, and goals.
  6. In all situations, clarify the appropriate protocol or procedure. If there is not one in place, suggest one for consideration and approval.
  7. Develop a “rhino hide” that is impervious to emotional manipulation and intimidation. Do not let fear take you hostage. Again, document everything.
  8. Maintain clarity. Restate what you hear, repeat what you say as a data statement, and remain silent rather than justify yourself. Allow the facts of the situation to speak for you.

Several years ago, a young man was promoted to assistant manager of a department of a large firm. One of his supervisors was overextended and the other was too inexperienced to provide any guidance or input. The previous manager had left the department disorganized and the workers discouraged. The young man decided to set new standards for himself that exceeded company expectations. He front-loaded the situation by meeting with the workers and coming to an agreement of what worked best for them. Then he took on the role of a servant, making sure that his workers had everything they needed to do their job. Within a year, the department was back on track for productivity; after a few years, it was the most efficient department in the company. The manager achieved maximum results by applying the strategies listed above.

Complicated rules to adjust behavior are a weak substitute for simple principles.

Mary Wollstonecraft ~ A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Daily Prompt:Substandard

Literary Mothers

Rococo

My mother felt that something was wrong, and displayed a lot of sympathy, which tortured me because I couldn’t repay her with my confidence. One evening when I was already in bed she brought me a piece of chocolate. She asked what was wrong with me, and stroked my hair. I could merely blurt out: “No! No! I don’t want anything.” She put the chocolate on the night table and left.

Emil Sinclair in Demian by Hermann Hesse

The problem with Sinclair’s mother is the same with many literary mothers—they are shallow. They are one-dimensional saints, sinners, or shadows.

Why is that with literary mothers? Either they are perfectly wise like Marmee in Little Women or they are perfectly silly like Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.

Demian’s mother, Frau Eva, is an exalted guru who guides Sinclair on his journey to adulthood; she’s exceedingly deepeeboo, but that is all she is. I had great hopes for Anne Shirley to be a complex, interesting mother; but all motherhood did for her was relegate her to the background, like a beautiful dish of fine china displayed for special occasions.

Perhaps I am mistaken. After all, I haven’t read every book about mothers. However, of the ones I have, mothers do not come off very well. I wonder if mother-characters are a nuisance to create. I’m going to have to explore this issue further. If my premise is that literary mothers are shallow, then I can do them justice by giving the matter a thorough analysis.
Daily Prompt:Shallow

Offended ~ Unfriended

WaterBuffalo

Life at Cabela’s

A huge, living daily increasing grievance that does one no palpable harm is the happiest possession that a man can have.

Anthony Trollope ~ The Eustace Diamonds

“I say, Satterthwaite,” said Sir Bartholomew, “you’re looking rather peaky today. Is everything alright?”

Mr. Satterthwaite shook his great head.

“It’s nothing, really,” he said. “I’ve just got a bit of a puzzle on.”

“Well? What is it? You may as well tell me now because I’ll beat it out of you eventually. You know how I am.”

“Indeed I do,” said Mr. Satterthwaite sardonically. “Very well. It’s Sir Charles. He has up and dumped me, and I have no idea why.”

Sir Bartholomew snorted.

“Dumped you!” he exclaimed. “Whatever do you mean?”

“I mean that ever since Egg’s cocktail party last week, he has been snubbing me. At first, I thought he hadn’t been getting my messages. But Barty, I have phoned, written, emailed, and texted him without so much as a hidey-ho.”

Sir Bartholomew frowned.

“That doesn’t sound like Sir Charles,” he said. “Why, he’s always been a decent sort of fellow who would never let the sun go down on his wrath. Are you certain you did or said nothing to offend him?”

“That’s just it! I don’t know! That is what I’ve been puzzling about. You would think that if one fellow had offended another, the offendee would let the offender in on what the offense was. It’s rather hard on a fellow to be ignorant of his offenses. What if one’s ignorance is what is offensive? That’s makes it rather difficult to put right.”

“Well, now,” began Sir Bartholomew, but Mr. Satterthwaite interrupted.

“You know how there’s that spot in the Bible about leaving your gift at the altar and making things right if you’ve offended someone. That’s fine and good if you know what the blasted offense is, but what if you haven’t an earthly clue? A fine fix that is to be hanging about an altar with a gift you can’t give.”

“Satterthwaite, get hold of yourself! It’s no good troubling your head about it. You’ve been unfriended, and that’s that.”

“But what should I do? It annoys me no end not to know what the matter is. It bothers my conscience that I may have done something wrong that I cannot make right.”

“Look here, Satty,” said Sir Bartholomew. “No, not there—here! Take a gander at Sir Charles. Note the look on his face. What do you see?”

“Hmm…he looks a bit sour to me,” said Mr. Satterthwaite.

“Exactly! He has a new grievance to nurse, and you, old fellow, have given it to him.”

“NO! Really? Do you think?”

Mr. Satterthwaite studied Sir Charles more closely. Then he gave a delighted laugh.

“Why, I do believe you are right, Barty; he looks positively puckered.”

“Of course he does. I told you he’s not the sort to let the sun go down on his wrath. Whatever you have done to offend him will keep him stewing for days on end. For all we know, Sir Charles’ supply of grievances may have dried up. You, in the office of a true friend, have replenished the well.”

Mr. Satterthwaite’s eyes shone.

“I never thought of it that way. It’s like that spot in the Bible about the loaves and fishes and whether it’s better to light your candle and search for the lost sheep.”
“Huh?” said Sir Bartholomew.

 

 

 

 

 

Traumatic Fragrance

Cassat-BlueChair

How Reading Look Homeward, Angel Got Me into Diapers

Actually, it’s more like thinking about diapers and their distinctive fragrance. A few days ago, I started reading Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe. The novel gets off to a grim start and seventy-three pages later, is still chugging along the same route.

(Note to Self: Wolfe was only twenty-nine years old when the novel was published, so his excessive grimness can be excused. Everyone is grim at that age. Twenty-nine was the grimmest year I had experienced by that date. So overlook grimness in all writers under the age of thirty. They have earned it.)

Thus far, I cannot figure out the characters; there is no logical pattern that I recognize. It’s like the author has forced opposing personalities, who usually avoid one another at cocktail parties, to inhabit the same person. What I find even more disconcerting is that the infant Eugene appears to have a higher level of consciousness than the adults. He is aware of how new and strange his world is, and it terrifies him.

Eugene is traumatized by everyday occurrences because he does not understand them—and he knows he does not understand them. Smiling adults peering over his bassinet, tender arms picking him up, sounds of cooing from his siblings, all make Eugene’s waking world a nightmare. It’s just too weird.

However, to be fair, I thought about whether babies in general could be traumatized by innocent Life. Then I remembered the time I changed my sister’s diapers when she was a baby; I wondered whether she was traumatized by the ordeal. I was three years old at the time and was dead set on Helping Mother, however much she dreaded it.

I think my mom was outside hanging the wash when I discovered that Debbie had a soiled diaper. I felt called to the task of changing it. I vividly remember two things: One, the diaper was huge; it was like negotiating with a wool blanket. Two, feces was everywhere; like the movie The Blob, it kept growing and devouring everything in the room.

I tried to kill it with a liberal sprinkling—make that dousing—of baby powder. Powder, powder, everywhere! It didn’t work. The Baby Blob was undeterred. To this day, the fragrance of baby powder carries with it a slight hint of baby poop. I guess I was traumatized.

Daily Prompt:Fragrance

LOTR ~ Between the Lines

Yei

Therefore at last the Council was again summoned and the lore of the Rings was much debated; but Mithrandir spoke to the Council, saying:

‘It is not needed that the Ring should be found, for while it abides on earth and is not unmade, still the power that holds it will live, and Sauron will grow and have hope. The might of the Elves and the Elf-friends is less now than of old. Soon he will be too strong for you, even without the Great Ring; for he rules the Nine, and of the Seven he has recovered three. We must strike.’

To this Curunir now assented, desiring that Sauron should be thrust from Dol Guldor. Therefore, for the last time, he aided the Council, and they put forth their strength; and they assailed Dol Guldor, and drove Sauron from his hold.

J. R. R. Tolkein ~ The Silmarillion

Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond were relaxing one evening at Rivendell. Elrond poured himself another glass of wine.

“Sauron is vanquished for the time being,” he said, “but I look for him to return. His defeat is but a feint; he will lie dormant while he builds his strength.”

Gandalf had been wandering in and out of a light sleep. At Elrond’s words, he sat up and sputtered.

“What!” he said. “Did you say Sauron was a doormat?”

Galadriel laughed while Elrond rolled his eyes.

“Dormant! Dormant!” he said. “Why on Middle-earth would Sauron turn into a doormat?”

Gandalf shrugged.

“I don’t know. If he is really lying dormant, then he might well just do it as a doormat. Who would suspect? Even now he could be lying there at the entrance to Barad-Dûr with “WELCOME” written on him in bold letters.”

Galadriel shook her head.

“I disagree,” she said. “Sauron is not the kind of guy who allows people to walk all over him. He’s not the rug-rat type.”

“I thought rug-rat was slang for child,” interrupted Gandalf.

“It is,” said Elrond. “That is what Galadriel is saying—one just cannot picture Sauron as a little kid.”

“Wait! I thought we were talking about doormats, not rug-rats.”

“We are,” said Elrond. “Galadriel just made a little joke.”

“As I was saying,” said Gandalf. “I think that Sauron would go to any length to regain his power, even to the point of being a dormant doormat.”

“So what do you suggest we do?” asked Elrond. “We can’t very well go around inspecting all the doormats in Middle-earth.”

“We don’t have to,” said Gandalf. “I’ll tell you what we will do. We will hold a contest for the cleanest rug in the land. We’ll hold competitions in every village and hamlet; the winners will advance to the semi-finals and eventually the finals. The grand prize will be a free week’s vacation in Rivendell. If Sauron is hiding as a doormat, we will beat it out of him. What do you say?”

Galadriel and Elrond looked at each other and then at Gandalf.

“We love it!”

Daily Prompt:Dormant

Gateway Books

Christensen-Reading

I was Leviathan with a hook in my jaw, pulled inexorably onward by an unseen angler.

The Book of Rhino

When I read a book by an unfamiliar author that immediately engages my interest, I call it a “gateway book.” By my definition, a gateway book is one that hooks me on a particular writer. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd got me hooked on Agatha Christie; Foundation did the same for me with Isaac Asimov. Once I read that first book, that gateway book, then I chase down other books by the same author.

A gateway book is not necessarily the first book an author has written. For example, in the case of Mary Stewart, her gateway book for me was The Crystal Cave, published in 1970, sixteen years after Madam, Will You Talk?, her first novel. Had the latter been my introduction to Mary Stewart, I would not have pursued the relationship.

I am just about to finish The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. I have a feeling that I have just found a new gateway book.

Some of my other gateway books are:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M. Montgomery

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Man with Two Left Feet by P. G. Wodehouse

The Curate’s Awakening by George MacDonald

There is a glaring problem with this list. If you know about these authors, you will see that all of them, except for Philip Pullman, are dead. I’m in the sad situation of being hooked on writers who will not be writing any more books. That’s the danger of reading books by dead authors; if one of their works happens to be a gateway book, your supply of satisfying reads is finite.

I should have known better than to read Maugham—him being dead and all, but that’s the thing about gateway novels. One never knows until the reading deed is done that one has stumbled onto a gateway book. A person may innocently open its pages and find herself unable to put the thing down.

Perhaps there should be warning labels on books by dead authors.

WARNING: This book is known to instantly engross the reader in the story and characters. There is only a limited supply of books by this particular author so read it at your own risk.

In the meantime, Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe looks interesting.

Daily Prompt:Gate

Tigers

Troll

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake ~ The Tyger

“Among the forces which sweep and play through the universe, untutored man is but a wisp in the wind. Our civilization is still in a middle stage, scarcely beast, in that it is no longer wholly guided by instinct; scarcely human, in that it is not yet wholly guided by reason. On the tiger no responsibility rests.”

Theodore Dreiser ~ Sister Carrie