If you know me you know I hate certain lists, not grocery or honey-do lists, but the kind that are in overabundance at the end of the year.
I like knowing what a friend thinks are the best movies, books, actors, TV shows, or cookie recipes. What I hate is media frenzy over a writer's opinion of what are the best things of all things that can be categorized.
With that said...
I recommend "Frozen," the best animated movie I have seen in recent memory. (1 movie is not a list)
My favorite nine books read in 2013 (not a Top Ten List) are, in no particular order:
Italian Shoes, Henning Mankell
Call the Midwife, Jennifer Worth
Kurt Vonnegut:Letters , Dan Wakefield
The Mill River Recluse, Darcie Chan
Recovered, (The Shapeshifters' Library) Amber Polo
Natalie's Revenge, Susan Fleet
One Small Victory, Maryann Miller
The Girl From Tenarife, Bernard Shaffer
The Night I Danced With Rommel, Elizabeth Merrion***Some random thoughts about some things I liked or didn't like this year:
-The AZ Cardinals and the PHX Suns are exceeding anyone's expectations this season. Good for them. I watch a lot of the NFL games, but prefer the college games.I watch no NBA games. None. Not since Larry retired. In the Bird Era I watched every Celtic game available.
-I'm excited that baseball begins in about two months. I read all of the 'transactions' and am trying to figure out if my D'Backs have improved or not.
Love the game. Not what money money money has done to it.
-The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood was good. Take it easy, you media types; it was not intended to replace the original. On its own, I liked it, and I am not going to compare Ms. Underwood to Ms. Andrews.
-Susan Rice, former UN Ambassador and present advisor to the President, is my Person of the Year, if I had to name one. Her integrity and accomplishments should rise far above the better publicized mistreatments by others including a recent 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl.
-Best politician? There was one. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
-I like Duck Dynasty. I don't think of anything political, religious, or whatever, I only judge the entertainment.
-Did the baseball umps and football refs screw up a lot this year? Yes. But I don't know which I hate more, a blatant mistake or a video review.
-I've always liked the library, any library. Even in 2013, with 100's of books on my Kindle machine, I go to the library often. There are people there.
-I served with eleven of my peers on a jury this year. Criminal case. I couldn't decide guilt, so voted 'no' and we were hung, 6 vs 6. Retrial hung him.
-I turned 70 this year. I'll never do that again. A surprise visit by far-away family was the best thing in many years.
-I wasted a lot of time this year when I should have been writing.
-I doubt I will make a list of New Year's Resolutions. Those are worse than Best Of Lists.Merry Christmas to One and All!
I Get it. Not Really. I Don’t Get It.
I wrote the following after reading my local small-town newspaper and the Wall Street Journal on December 5th, twenty days before Christmas.
I read both regularly and understand they are two different types of periodicals as to the typical information published and the target audiences. I get it.
Today both contained a good number of Christmas ads, as I would expect. I’m okay with that. I get it.
The WSJ had one article concerning the Christmas Holiday. It was about the most popular color of the hot items in stores, the family of hues from pink to orchid.
The local paper had many articles about Christmas ranging from food, photos of decorations at homes and businesses, and several with information about local charities and support groups.
Again, I agree these two publications are at opposite ends of the news spectrum, I am simply pointing out some interesting differences.
Which one would you expect to have a large article about homemade cookies?
Wrong, the WSJ. A company sells hand decorated cookies. The popular box of 23 cookies (not 2 dozen) of which one cookie is over 4 inches, and most are less than 2 inches in size sells for $95.00. If you don’t buy them at Sak’s shipping is $17.25 more.
The WSJ also had ads for things like a pair of sandals for $950 having the top strap made to look like a fish skeleton. The first three pages had 8 large ads for watches, nice men’s watches. I looked up the price of two of them. An Oris was $3,500 and a Bucherer was $44,000. I stopped looking up the price of watches, and my $14 three year old watch showed I had an appointment soon.
Of course the WSJ was not full of flyers from Walmart and Office Max. I remember one insert the other day though, offering a good deal on a latest jet plane model. I get it. I’d want a Bucherer if I had a jet.
In the WSJ there was a full-page ad from a big oil company saying they care about the community. I’m guessing the woman and child in the ad were models, not members of the community.
In contrast the little paper had articles, complete with names and addresses, of local charities and events. A local business collects used cell phones which are given to a company that refurbishes them for resale. In turn that company donates (for each phone) two and a half hours of free phone service to soldiers.
A caregiver group had already installed 700 medical alert devices to elderly persons who live alone. They had 50 more and were seeking a few volunteers to install and maintain the devices.
Another group put out a call for donations of items like sleeping bags and warm socks, or cash, for homeless individuals they shelter temporarily and help in finding jobs and housing.
A Parkinson’s disease support group was having their regular meeting and inviting others to come, suggesting all wear something like a Christmas sweater or a Santa hat.
Notices told of caroling, a concert, and when Santa would arrive in town to meet little children.
Nothing like that in the big paper. It did have an article on Super Bowl TV ads. Some will cost 4 million dollars for a 30 second spot. I don’t get that.
I think those on my list will get the usual jar of jam or trinket. And a couple of local charities will get a little something, not a nice Swiss watch or a $4.88 cookie, but a little help in providing food or warmth.
A local needy person will most likely not see those award-winning Super Bowl ads. He’s not in the target audience of big newspapers and corporations. I get it.
But, I don’t get it.
Happy and Merry Christmas Holiday to y’all.
Another holiday for Americans. Monday, October 14 is Columbus Day.
Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937 to commemorate his landing in, or 'discovering' the 'New World'.
It was celebrated in New York long before 1937.
In recent years there has been controversy and efforts to remove CD as a holiday. Indeed, the state of California is trying to rename it 'Native American Day'.
In Berkley, they call it 'Indigenous Peoples Day'. To some Native American Tribes October 12 is 'Native American Recognition Day'.
It has been celebrated across the country with parades and other festivities, I think, more to celebrate the Italian-American Heritage, even though he sailed under a Spanish flag. It was a brave and major accomplishment, as many thought he would fall off the edge of a flat earth. Parades will be held this week-end from New York to San Francisco.
Still, the Native Americans have a point. You must have seen images or tee-shirts with a picture of Geronimo holding a rifle and the caption, "Homeland Security. Fighting terrorism since 1492." See their point?Why should they celebrate over 500 years of domination, exploitation, and worse?
Personally, the holiday has always been about my Italian Heritage.
Since moving west and and having Native American acquaintances and friends, I have become more aware of their culture and of their hardships since Christopher arrived.
I have visited or attended many festivities like powwows, rodeos, museums.
I have been a welcomed visitor.
They are proud of their heritage, as I am, as we all are. If our country is great because it is a 'melting pot' of peoples and their cultures from everywhere in the world, we will surely include those who were here first.
On Columbus Day, I will be thankful for my new friends, and perhaps share some lasagna.
Do Bruce and Genny in Willowtree have any kids?
Maybe, I'm not telling.
In real life many children unfortunately have to deal with murder, maybe a murderer or a victim in the family. There are kids who are killed and kids who kill.
No one, I hope, enjoys reading or hearing those stories. There are enough of them on television and in newspapers.
I'm sure there are enough of them in fiction. I wouldn't like reading those stories either.
In mysteries the murder is only the impetus for the story. The story is the investigation and resolution.
I would rather not have youngsters involved in that business.
I have purposely not included children in my Bruce DelReno Mysteries.
I will not ever write about a youthful villain or victim.
And I may not even introduce any child character, however cute and innocent I want him/her to be.
Being a senior sleuth, it is easy for Bruce to not mention any children when telling his tales. All of his friends are geriatric, or close to it. All of their children are grown and off on their own adventures.
Bruce chooses the dead bodies he finds very carefully. They never have young kids.
Bruce DelReno, I guess, is my alter ego. Roughly.
He's an ex-postman who loves golf and eating. He's very smart and handsome.
He would never think of having a pet snake or going cliff diving.
But, though he never mentions it, he does love children.
Me, too. My Mom had eight; I got used to them.
My wife and I have two grown men, who are our kids. They are the greatest joy and pride in our lives. Our five beautiful grandchildren are each a unique wonder.
I hope no one, young or old, has to come close to being affected by murder in their lives.
With Bruce DelReno kids are safe. His stories, childproof.
Ben Samuel, A Favorite Character in Willowtree
Many readers have said that Ben Samuel, the eccentric Apache friend of Bruce DelReno, is their favorite character in Willowtree.
Where did the inspiration for the character come from?
It came from a real person and friend of mine.
His name is not Ben Samuel, but he has two first names. (blog- names )
He is not an Apache, but a Yavapai from the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe whose Reservation was established in Prescott, Arizona in 1935.
My friend is a genuinely friendly, humourous, generous, and likeable individual who is more of an avid golfer than Bruce or me. Better at it, too.
I have learned a lot about Native Americans from him and others while living in Arizona and from playing golf with many of them. The Indians, they call themselves Indians, to me at least, are enthusiastic golfers. There are many Indian Tournaments; I have been privileged to be able to play in some sponsored by Tribes.Every Indian I have met seems to be proud of his heritage and also proud to be an American.
I met my friend about fifteen years ago when we were made members of the same team in a celebrity pro-am tournament in Prescott. Later that year a new golf course opened in my town and we met again. He also lived nearby and we soon began our Sunday foursome skins game. We have played together with two others nearly every Sunday since then. We sometimes will play different courses in the state, and often as a team in area tournaments, winning our share.
So, Ben is inspired by my friend, but Ben is not this friend. They are their own persons, though they both are good golfers and quite funny.
The only stolen attribute (besides low handicap) given to Ben was his habit of loudly stirring multiple packets of sugar into his coffee. Of course, my friend was not aware of the annoyance until the book, and for some reason does not do it anymore.
When I took the photo that was eventually used on the cover, I had not realized that my friend had moved into the frame. I was shooting the desert willow tree from the cart path looking toward the fairway. I decided to leave him in the photo when cropping it.
He thinks it's Ben.
The cover photo for Willowtree: Fifth hole at Pine Shadows Golf Course, Cottonwood, AZ.Ben's coffee stirring incident is in Chapter Six.Get Willowtree FREE from Smashwords for any reader or app until 9/28/2013.Use this CODE at checkout: LX24B
-A Great Little Library
I'm late getting this in writing but I am still high over the Author Talks at Camp Verde Community Library this summer. Seven local authors gave presentations as part of the Adult Reading Program.
I commend the library for offering these programs to both children and adults. These were not book signings. Books were not for sale. I did not have the 'salesman' feeling like at a signing, though I suppose there is always an element of selling when talking about one's book. It was simply a pleasure to speak to interested readers about books, mine and others, and my writing process. I donated a copy of Willowtree to the library and another as a door prize.
I like that this library has the word 'community' in its official title, and I saw many people engaged in various activities during my short time there.
The whole town should be proud of the CVCL and its terrific staff.
Kathy of the CVCL staff shows off two new library acquisitions.
(Photo by Zack Garcia, Larson Newspapers)
-What's the difference between http:// and https:// ?
...if you know, don't forget it...if you don't, you should...
It's about security.
HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.
The added 'S' stands for 'Secure.'
When you visit a website look at the address in the web browser, it will likely begin with : http://. This means the communication between the websit and your browser is using the regular "unsecured" language.
So, it is possible for someone to "eavesdrop" on your conversation.
If the web address begins with https:// the site is using a secure code and no one can eavesdrop.
Before entering any vital information like a credit card number be sure to look at the address, and be sure it begins with https://.
-I don't like it when people say 'Like my page' even if they say 'please.'
So, I have never asked anyone to Like my page, but I wish somebody would.
-I don't play games on Facebook.
So if you invite me to play any, I will ignore the request or block that app.
-I don't usually post what I am doing unless it is unusual or noteworthy.
For ex: I will not post "Going to play golf." I will post "I got another hole-in-one."
-I hate those ads that come up suggesting a page I might Like.
I never like them. I never 'Like' them.
-I love seeing the photos of family and friends, especially those living far away, even cousins and their kids.
-I follow many authors, book related pages, and I belong to book, reader, and author groups. I occasionally offer opinions or post something on them and 'Like' a lot of posts. But, I skip over any post about books in certain genres. I don't read much fantasy or romance or sci-fi or paranormal, just some.
I am not interested in vampires, something happening in the year 2065, or 50 shades of anything.
-I try to keep my personal page separate from my author page but Zuckerberg won't let me. It's about an error I made in setting them up - an irreversible error that FB magic cannot undo unless I change my name, move to Antarctica, or do both and start over from scratch.
-I have signed a few petitions and joined a few causes, but I don't like being asked to sign or join 50 more because I am now on a list.
-I have friends who are Black, Asian, Gay, Fat, Old, Canadian, Funny Looking, and Republican. I like and 'Like' them all. (Exception: the Republicans I like get no 'Like'.
-I heard that 'everybody' is on FB, but it's not true.
I have some dear friends and family members that I still e-mail or must contact by phone or US Mail. I usually don't bother to e-mail or snail-mail messages to them if all I have to say is "At McD's with Keely" or " I Like WalMart."
-Sometimes you may post something and expect I will 'Like' it.
Sometimes I like it, but don't 'Like' it.
-Remember the old FaceBook, before they changed to the Timeline thing?
The time speeds by leaving me wishing I had more motivation, ambition, drive, or what is it called? Geritol?
I have done a lot of activities, but wasted a lot of non-activity in between.
Today I sprayed the darn weeds in the back, and planted some nice portulaca in the front. I posted some stuff on FB, and some on Twitter, if retweeting and favoriting counts. I checked my e-mail and played solitaire. I watched a little of the Canadian Open, That’s quite a lot I’ve done and it is not dark outside yet.
I also made pesto. It’s a bountiful basil season. Oh, yeah, I made the bread dough. Pop it in the oven tomorrow morning.
I almost forgot that I brushed the dog. Got a nice pile of hair off her back, so she’ll look presentable when she goes for grooming tomorrow.
After that I vacuumed the dining and living rooms. Had to. That reminded me I wanted to wash the kitchen floor, so I did.
I also printed handout sheets and recipe cards for my speech tomorrow. I learned how to change the ink cartridge in my new printer.
What? My speech is tomorrow?
I guess there will be no ballgame tonight.
I will be talking about my writing and book at the Camp Verde Community Library Adult Summer Reading Program. I am honored to have been asked to participate.
To coincide with my few moments of fame the Kindle version of Willowtree is lowered to $1.99 through August. It is also a part of the Smashwords Summer Sale. 50% off, using the code on the Smashwords page. And, I see Amazon has lowered the paperback price to $9.something, from $10.99.
May and June.
I am reflecting on family events that occur frequently in May and June.
Many members of our family have been born during May or June.
Some have died during these weeks. I lost a dear brother and sister near the beginning of a May. I lost one of my best friends, my Grandfather Bove in May, 1965. Recently a dear aunt and an uncle have passed on May days. Our beautiful and beloved mother left us in May, two years ago at the age of ninety-three. We are nearing Fathers Day, when a remarkable brother-in-law died unexpectedly a year ago.
Why am I thinking about this now? Our large family is scattered across the country- VT, MA, ME, FL, NJ, LA, AZ, MD, CO, and China.
We get together for, you know, funerals.
Here’s the good part:
My birthday (70) was last week and my oldest son (NJ) planned a visit which made me ecstatic.
I would get a chance to beat him at golf for the first time ever, since I’ve been retired and play a lot; he has to work a lot so plays only on occasion. (I didn’t).
He arrived in AZ, we had a nice dinner at home. Then the doorbell rang.
A big surprise walked in, my youngest brother (MA).
Wow, I had my son and brother to celebrate with, but before he could sit down the doorbell rang again.
In walks another brother (FL). My wife and I could not believe it. His first time in AZ.
Two minutes later I answered the bell to welcome my baby sister (VT), a world traveler but her first time in AZ. She is the gem of this family. The rest of the family knows what I mean.
Doorbell. Another jewel of a sister (VT), joined the party. I looked outside to see who else might be there, but figured I was indeed so happy to have them all here though one brother (VT) was missing.
We are all still hugging when we were interrupted by the doorbell. It was the last of my living siblings and we six were all together.
I looked at them. Boy, they are old now.
But still handsome and pretty. But I am still older.
We laughed and hugged and cried and toured AZ and ate and ate.
We got up early and stayed up late.
We ate some more and man, there was coffee and coffee.
My birthday lasted five days. Then it was Karen’s birthday, the first of her, how many? First one in AZ. We had cake. We had fun. Lots.
So for the better part of a week my life was a wreck.
In a good way.
Thank you brothers and sisters for the best surprise anyone could have.
Thanks to the rest of your families, spouses, and children, for sending them off to visit me and my dear wife.
The surprise worked. I knew not even a hint of it, though it was months in the making.
The plan to get together for a happy time is not a bad idea. It is wonderful.
Peace and love.
Brothers and sisters.
John McCain (R-AZ) is my senator and a senator with whom I seldom agree. He is sponsoring a bill that would create 'a la carte' cable and satellite TV pricing, something I have wished for since my basic DirecTV bill began ballooning. Thank you, Mr. McCain. He compares the cable and satellite package bundling to "forcing customers to pay for the entire menu at a restaurant in order to get what they want to eat." My point exactly.
I have a higher priced package than the most basic package only because I want the local channels. (see what i mean?) That gives me more than a hundred (hundreds?) of channels I have excluded in my favorites list. I don't watch the kid's, christian, shopping, music, Spanish, or many other channels. In fact, the reason I got a satellite dish in the first place was because my cable provider, at that time, did not have Comedy Central, the place I get my kid's, christian, shopping, music, and Spanish information.
I think they can switch on/off any individual channel for each customer. They switched on the local FoxSports channel for me when I called and said I wasn't getting it.
I once bought a set of 12 Magic Markers because I needed only a brown one. I recently bought a 6-piece accessory kit for my Kindle. All I needed was the charger, but the kit was cheaper than just a charger from Amazon. So, I am willing to pay for something I don't want to get something I really want, if it's a one-time event. The TV package is monthly with ever increasing cost. I don't like that. I'd rather be able to pick the channels I want even if a channel I pick has some shows I would never watch.
So, I hope McCain gets a bundle of support for this bill. I hope it becomes the law so I won't have to pay for Jewelry Television, though I'm sure many people couldn't live without it.
But it won't pass. AZ will be a Blue State before that happens. Why not? Same reason a lot of good bills don't pass - lobbies.
Opponents say customers would not save money. Smaller channels would not survive. Prices of popular channels would be high. Etc.
Again, thank you Sen. McCain for working in my interest. I guess the DC lobbies are more powerful than you and me.
The article at USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/05/20/mccain-revives-a-la-carte-cable-bill/2325953/