Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2020

Archive for the category “Nuns”

As I Was Saying…

“Why use ten words when a hundred will do quite nicely, eh?”

Those words were spoken to me by my wife this morning. I had been trying to explain something to her. I was simply trying to make myself understood when she made the comment above. I must admit that her synopsis of my explanation, which took only twelve words, was perfectly accurate. Twelve words that clearly stated what I was halfway through page two with.

All I want is to make sure that both you and I understand fully whatever it is that I’m trying to say. I want there to be no ambiguity or confusion so I will present a complete explanation of all… OK, I’ll acknowledge that I do tend to ramble on.

I’m doing it right now aren’t I?

What can I say? I’m a fan of words. Language to me is a great and wonderful toy. On some occasions it is like a Rubik’s Cube puzzle that needs twisting and turning to find the solution. Other times the words, any words, are like a cryptic and mysterious code that makes no sense at all until you find the key, the right words to make it sing.

This is the reality whether you are writing Fiction or Nonfiction. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between them anyway. At least it is with me.

I started writing when i was just a kid. I’d started reading even earlier. At the age of six I had my own library card. Once I learned how to read the books in the “Children’s Room” I knew that I could write better ones. I found a collaborator (Marty who lived down the block) and we began cranking out Cowboy and Indian stories that we thought would take the world by storm.

We were wrong.

Like any writers, of any age, we were always looking for approval (Positive Reviews). Marty went to the public elementary school nearby. I went to St. Mary’s Catholic elementary school. What better places to find critics? Marty took our stories to his teacher. I took them to Sister Mary Butch.

Marty’s teacher thought that our stories were the best thing since School Lunch Macaroni and Cheese. She praised our efforts and encouraged us mightily.

Sister Mary Butch said that we were wasting our time and that we were both going to Hell.

Marty got support and encouragement. He grew up to be a Doctor. I was belittled and damned to eternal perdition. I’m still looking for a sympathetic critic who isn’t my wife. Thanks, Sister.

As a result of these early literary traumas I’m still writing. Behind me I have left a trail of Fiction, Nonfiction, Textbooks, Speeches, Five years worth of Blogging, Jokes for Comedians, and the odd Theatrical opus or two. All of it just because that nun didn’t recognize juvenile genius. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

And so I keep writing.

I have a number of the proverbial Works In Progress stacked up awaiting editing, a second draft, or a future as kindling. I am determined to finish these stories, but I’ll tell you one thing – I’m not taking any of them over to Sister Mary Butch.

A Little Face In The Crowd

I find that the older I get I spend more time, while sipping my coffee, thinking about my younger days. It doesn’t take much to get me wandering back to the days of my life when I lived in a narrow valley in Western Pennsylvania.

These days my time is filled with thoughts of hi-tech computers and low-tech viruses. Neither of these are the sort of things that make for lingering memories. The things that did, do, and will continue to generate memories involve the people I’ve known and the places I’ve been. Today and tomorrow interest me less than the thousands of my yesterdays.

When I woke up this morning and turned on the TV in the bedroom one of the first images I saw was of a classroom. It reminded me of one in the elementary school where I was introduced to the world outside of my family. St. Mary’s Catholic Grade School was already old when i was enrolled in 1952. The school was started in the 1870s.

I was born in 1946 smack in the middle of the first wave of the Post-War Baby Boom. The hundreds of thousands of soldiers returning home from the horror of World War Two were thankful to be alive and they celebrated by starting families. My father was too old to be taken into the military, but he  got caught up in the spirit of the day and there I was six years later sitting in a classroom alongside 59 other First Grade Boomers. I sat there with the others, all of us staring at Sister Avila standing by her desk in her black and white nun’s habit.

You read that right. There were 60 kids in my first grade classroom and there was another classroom just as full across the hall. We were packed into our rows of little wooden desks like sardines in a can.

And we learned.

We learned how to sit quietly with our hands neatly folded on the desktop. We learned to stand up every morning and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. We learned how to read. We learned how to write in cursive. We also learned how to get along with 59 other kids.

We learned how to be the good kids everyone expected us to be.

That expanding bubble of Baby Boom kids continued all through my school years and it is still there even now. Now, however, all of us who sat in that crowded first grade classroom are hitting 75 years of age. We are the Senior Citizens who are filling up the hospitals, nursing homes, and cemeteries.

Today the desks at St. Mary’s are occupied with a new generation born in this century. The classes are smaller now. There isn’t a rush to build new schools like there was in the 1950s. The old schools that had been filled to the walls with the sons and daughters of the returning veterans are being torn down and replaced with Health Clubs and Organic Food Stores.

My generation – The Baby Boomers are now fading from the scene. The nation’s population is still growing but at a slower pace. There might never be another classroom with 60 little kids squirming in their seats and practicing their penmanship. Today’s teachers are horrified when they are faced with more than twenty curious faces staring at them.

In 1952 our stern-faced nuns in black and white struggled through the turmoil and managed to have most of those 60 youngsters turn out just fine. If there was one most important thing we learned in those crowded classrooms it was how to work together and not be afraid to ask questions. Those skills have served us well over the years.

Thank you, Sister.

 

 

 

 

Searching For The Saint

ON THE MORNING OF THE THIRD DAY – in Adrian, Michigan a small open window of opportunity presented itself. From about 9:30 until Noon I was free to pursue my main personal goal for this trip. I was determined to get myself a decent cup of coffee…and maybe do a little writing on a story I’ve been wrestling with for a month. From 9:30 until Noon, two and a half hours, 150 minutes. Not much time, but better than a kick in the chronograph.

How was I going to achieve this lofty goal?

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Being Taken For A Ride

FOUR DAYS TRAPPED IN A FLASHBACK. Four days back in elementary school with the Little Sisters of the Right Cross. Four days in the same building with a couple hundred nuns. My knuckles are still aching.

We recently attended the Midwest Meeting of Congregational Ministers – my wife, the lovely and divinely inspired, Dawn, and me (Her Arm Candy), all together at a Conference Center run by Dominican Nuns. Lots of Dominican Nuns.

Oh, the memories. Oh, the nightmares. Oh, the scar tissue.

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Elementary, My Dear Barista

WHAT POSSESSES PEOPLE TO START A CONVERSATION about one topic over another? I mention this because this morning while I was trying to inhale my coffee one of the Usual Suspects started waxing nostalgic about her years in elementary school. After an unspecified number of decades why did this come to mind? I remember my years in elementary school, but I feel no need to bring it up for discussion.

I do admit that there are worse topics for discussion at that early hour. Honestly I also do not feel like listening to someone give me the details of their latest hospitalization for that nagging parasitic problem…At least not if I am eating at the time.

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Fiction Saturday – “Fortune’s Kiss – a Fable” Part One

Fiction Saturday – “Fortune’s Kiss”

Fortune House 3

Part One

Some time ago, in a small town situated in a remote part of the country, there lived a woman. She wasn’t rich, but she was “comfortable.”  She was a rather successful merchant. She ran a brothel.

Her’s was the largest home in the town. It sat, surrounded by rose bushes, on a small bluff overlooking the central square. The only paved street in the town led up the hill to her home. She’d had it paved at her own expense.

The woman was the most admired person in the town, and also the most hated. She was admired by those people who understood and appreciated hard work and a good heart.

She was hated by those citizens who saw themselves as the Elite, the High Society, and the Guardians of the Public Good. She was hated by those people who wished that they were as prosperous, as successful, and as smart as she was.

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The Early Worm

THE TIME BETWEEN 6 AM AND 8:30 AM IS MY MOST PRODUCTIVE time of day. Before 6 AM I am asleep and after 8:30 the rest of the day intrudes and calls the shots. Those 2 ½ hours are when I get 90% of my writing accomplished. The other 10% comes when I type it up and try to have it all make some sort of sense.

Quite a chore, that last part.

I try to get my writing time every morning. It’s important to me. I can knock out this daily blog in that time and maybe get some work in on my longer fiction pieces – the things that nag at me to finish them off.

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Clean Living

 

EATING LAUNDRY DETERGENT? YEAH, THAT’S A GOOD IDEA. Maybe wash it down with a little motor oil. This is proof that some people should not be allowed near power tools or to breed.

When I first saw the stories in the news that some young, hip, and “with it” people are swallowing Tide Detergent Pods – on purpose, I thought, “Nah, this must be some gag article on CNN or someplace.”

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A Rose By Any Other Nickname

I DROVE PAST MY NEIGHBORHOOD TACO BELL yesterday. I was glad to see that they are continuing to value their staff by naming another “Employee of the Month.” This month’s winner of the coveted “Golden Taco” is named “Ant.” That’s it. Just “Ant.” I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that “Ant” is a nickname.

“Ant,” Not “An Ant.” Thank Heavens; I’d hate to think that one of the ways to work there and be named “Employee of the Month” would be to have six legs. Although during a busy time at the restaurant that could be an asset.

Our Congratulations go out to Ant.

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Fear Not!

I GET A LOT OF EMAIL EVERYDAY. Very little of it is worth the electrons it’s written with. A good portion of it all comes from people trying to sell me something; Sunglasses, Art of questionable quality, Books (lots of books), and classes and seminars. I guess that means that they feel I am in desperate need of education – a point hard to dispute.

I also receive a bunch of things about writing; classes, communities, and handy dandy tools to transform me into the next big whatever.  I already have the tools – a pen, paper, and coffee that have catapulted me to the bottom rung of the ladder of commercial success.

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You Need To Lose Some Weight

imagesI’ve been hearing that ever since my carefree days as a fetus. I was about 7 lb. 6 oz. at birth (I checked my birth certificate) and that’s not too bad in most circles, but a lot of babies born with health issues tend to come in as featherweights. This makes me think that if everything had been OK healthwise I might have tipped the scales at 180 lbs at birth.

I know that my father was 12 lbs. – and he was born at home – to a mother who was barely 5 feet tall and under 100lbs.

Needless to say, he was an only child and my grandfather started smoking.

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