Writer’s Workshop: At Seventeen…

At what age would you like to restart your life? What would you do differently?

I guess this is a follow-on to the question from last week about what I wish I could do.

Since my stroke and the subsequent events that have led to me being retired on disability, I’ve given lots of thought to these questions. Probably too much thought, actually. Brooding over past mistakes is a highly-addictive and unproductive use of my time. Fortunately, I’ve learned to limit it to the hours when I’m in bed and have been awakened by a full bladder, which usually gives me a few minutes before I fall asleep and wander the hallways and highways of my dreams. There are so many things I’d do differently, and they all happened at different stages of my life.

Image by b0red from Pixabay

I’d like to restart my life on March 25, 1973, the day I turned 17. This was the end of my junior year and start of my senior year of high school. My mother and I had a difference of opinion about where I should go to university, and I didn’t fight hard enough for my choice. As a result, I ended up going to a school I didn’t want to attend. My first two years at university were a disaster, and I didn’t care. I don’t like myself when I’m passive-aggressive like that, but that was the person I was then.

There was a lot of good that came of that, though: I ended up transferring to one of the schools I did want to attend, where I met the love of my life, I graduated a semester early, we were married and have lived happily ever after. Had I gone there to start with, Mary and I probably would have ended up being two ships that pass in the night. Divine Intervention works in mysterious ways…

(That was short. That’s a record for me.)


I and a group of very nice people, let by the lovely and talented Mama Kat, do this Writer’s Workshop thing every Thursday. Kat posts a list of a few prompts to her blog every Tuesday or Wednesday, from which we select one and write on it, then share our essays with the other folks doing it (and, by extension, the other readers of our blogs). It’s tons of fun and Kat told me she doesn’t mind if I invite other people to join in. If you’re interested, click the icon below and read all about it.

Writer’s Workshop: I Wish I Could…

Image by Genty from Pixabay

…travel through time.

Seriously. Some people want to go to Paris, some to the moon, I want to go to the 19th Century. Or maybe the 119th Century.

I’m not what you’d call a science fiction buff, but one TV show I liked was Doctor Who. The 20th Century version, not so much the 21st Century one. Before that, though, there was Peabody’s Improbable History.

There’s a theory that, rather than being infinite, the universe we live in is one of an infinite number of parallel universes. But you knew that, because I’ve told you about it, several times in fact. With apologies to Yogi Berra, it’s like déja vu all over again.

Writer’s Workshop: A Book From My Childhood (Encore Presentation)

One of the prompts for today is “March 2nd is National Read Across America Day. Tell us about your favorite childhood book.” I had written this back on August 2014, and since it’s been a while, decided to share it again. Everything I said then still applies.

Source: Amazon.com
Source: Amazon.com

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I got it from my godmother when I was seven or eight. She had brought a copy home with her when she returned from a trip to Europe, and we used to read it together. She thought I might like a copy of my own. I lost track of the book after I left home, but Mom kept it for me and gave it back to me not long before she died.

These were children’s stories written by Herr Wilhelm Busch in the late 1800’s. They were written in German, and the book I have (an earlier edition of the one currently available) has the text written in German and translated into pretty amazing English poetry by “H. Arthur Klein and others.”

These are not pleasant stories. Max and Moritz are two delinquent little boys that wreak havoc wherever they go. They kill a woman’s chickens, then abscond with the meat, put gunpowder in the church organist’s pipe, goad the town’s tailor into crossing a bridge which they have sawed through, and end up being ground up by the local miller and fed to the ducks. Ker and Plunk, or “Plisch und Plum” if you prefer, are two dogs that are saved from drowning by Peter and Paul. The dogs (and boys) are about as bad as Max and Moritz, but without the malicious intent, and finally all are taught a lesson with a hazel-root stick, after which they become model citizens.

There are shorter stories as well. A boy goes skating on a very cold day, falls through the ice, and freezes. His father finds him and brings him home, and when they try to thaw him, he melts away. Two boys tease an old man who lives in a barrel, and eventually get flattened by said barrel. A boy tries smoking his father’s pipe, and the room starts dancing around him until his mother finds him and puts him to bed with strong coffee. A boy teases an old man with a blowgun, and the old man shoves the gun down the kid’s throat.

Gee, really pleasant stuff, huh? As awful as it sounds, it’s a wonderful book. Busch wrote the whole thing in verse and illustrated it himself, and both drawings and verse are clever. The translators took care to produce a text that’s faithful both to Busch’s words and to the poetry and stories. The Afterword of the book has details about the stories and explains some of the translations. And, my copy is over fifty years old, and while the cover is torn off, the pages are still intact.

If you know German, or are trying to learn it, you’ll like this book. If you write verse, you’ll like this book. If you have kids, they’ll like this book. If you just like stories like this, you’ll like the book. I can still remember the details and the pictures forty years later, even though I hadn’t had a chance to sit down and read it again until recently.

I rate this book five stars (or, if you prefer, Fünf Sterne).

Writer’s Workshop: The Sickest I Ever Got

A number of years ago, I spent a week in Houston. This was during the summer, and as is usually the case Houston was about 98° (32° C) with about 80% humidity. That was outside, of course. Inside practically everywhere I went, they had the air conditioning going full blast, so it was about 68° (20° C) with 10% humidity. I spent a week going inside and outside, but I didn’t have any ill effects. I went home, where I was scheduled first for a week of vacation followed by a week training at the Bank of Hawai’i.

Within 24 hours of arriving home, I was miserable: coughing, runny nose, sinus pain, sore throat, all the signs of an upper respiratory infection. We hadn’t been planning to go anywhere on vacation, so there were no plans that we had to cancel, but we didn’t do a whole lot that week. I got a prescription from the doctor, which helped some, and by Saturday, when I was to leave for Honolulu, I felt pretty good. Not great, but I thought I’d be okay to go.

I had a direct flight from Atlanta to Honolulu. It was about a seven-hour flight, and since the time difference between Atlanta and Honolulu was seven hours, it meant I’d arrive at the same time I left. After 6½ uneventful hours in the air, we started making our initial approach. And that was about the time that my head felt it was going to explode. My ears hurt, I could hardly breathe, I’m sitting with my mouth open trying to get relief. A flight attendant gave me some gum, which helped a little, but it got so bad I thought I would pass out. When we did finally land, everything went back to normal, thank heaven.

I got to my hotel and called Mary to let her know I was in and my general state of health. That’s when she told me that, the week before while I was in Houston, she had babysat for the kids across the street, both of whom were now down with, you guessed it, upper respiratory infections. I guess after a week of ever-changing temperatures and humidity, my immune system had basically given up…

Writer’ Workshop: Project A to Z

So, what have I been up to this week?

Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay

What am I ever doing during the month of March? Preparing for the A to Z Challenge, of course! I’ve gotten a late start on it this year, despite having been ready for this year’s challenge since the middle of last year’s. I just got started with writing my entries for my own blog, plus the entries I need to write for the Challenge blog. I’ll be doing A LOT of writing the next few days. Not like I don’t do a lot of writing, anyway, but it’s really picking up now.

My biggest writing problem is brevity. More like lack of it. I get going on some subjects and I start fretting that I’m not explaining myself clearly, or that some readers might not have the base knowledge they need to understand what I’m about to launch into, so I need to back up and lay the groundwork. Pretty soon I’m Sheldon Cooper trying to explain Physics to Penny.

(I know this is the last season of The Big Bang Theory, but we haven’t been watching it, because life is too short.)

When I haven’t been doing that, I’ve been getting looped in to Mary’s decluttering projects, which includes going through old photos. One good thing about that is that I found all the pictures I took when I was in Seattle over a weekend.

See? This is the only one I can actually identify…

As luck would have it, I took all the pictures on the one nice day I had there, which just happened to be on a Saturday. I remember seriously debating whether I should actually buy myself a digital camera to take all these pictures, but decided that was too expensive, after which I spent just about as much on single-use cameras and developing, and I still had no idea what I had photographed. Had I gone with the digital camera, I would have been able to download the pictures and have a ghost of a chance of remembering what I had photographed. (And before you ask, this was in 2003, when phones with cameras in them were in their infancy, and I didn’t have one.)

Anyway, back to work.