Ruminations

March 13, 20222

For some time, an idea had been stuck in my head. I wondered if it was too late for me to go back to school for a second Master’s degree, but this time, for a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing-Fiction. I love to write, and I think I have a lot of room to grow. I knew the only way for that to happen, is to go back to school. So I applied to Queens University of Charlotte, and the Program Director called me last Tuesday to tell me they were impressed with my writing, and they were delighted to offer me acceptance into the program. And this year, I will embark on a journey of self-discovery. I cannot wait to begin.

December 29, 2021

Bookman’s Alley was located in Evanston, Illinois. It was in a scene in the novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Back in 2016, I came up with an idea for a novel. I began to do research, reading a stack of books on the focus of my idea. A year an half later, on a fall day in October 2018, I sat down to write my novel. It had been several years since I had put my writing on the backburner, at least that’s what I had told myself. The truth is, I came to conclusion I would never be published. I was full of self-doubt. So, as I sat down to write the novel, I realized that I needed to work on my dormant craft. I also realized that no one would even consider a novel written by an unpublished writer, so I decided I needed to focus all my time on writing short stories and submissions and getting published.

After thirteen publications and a nomination for the Best American Mystery and Suspense Stories Series (my novel is a suspense/thriller), I am again turning my focus and time to write the novel.

October 30, 2021

I am a Book Collector. When I say that, it sounds more like a confession, like I’m declaring I’m an addict. As a book collector, I am accused of being a hoarder. I guess I am of sorts. But I am a very particular type of hoarder. I collect the books of authors I admire and enjoy. Most of the books on the three shelves above are First Editions, First Printings. Many are signed by the authors. I’ve been very fortunate in my book finds over the years. My oldest book is one by H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds, a First American Edition from 1898. I love Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicle novels, and I recently found a First Edition, First Printing of her first novel, Interview with a Vampire. It is in perfect condition. I knew as soon as I took it off the shelf it wasn’t a Book Club Edition. Like a CIA Agent who knows by the weight of a gun whether it is loaded or not, a knew by the heaviness of the book, it was a First Edition. I was shocked to see it was a First Printing, unclipped.

I am always asked if I’ve read all the books on my shelves, to which I respond, What good is a library, if I’ve read all the books? I have probably read 75% of the books on the shelves above, but as a true collector, I would never dare read any of them. I would buy a reading copy, whether it was a worn hardcover or a nice sized paperback.

October 17, 2021

Last weekend, we went on a road trip to Door County, the peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan, forming Green Bay. I refer to Door County as the New England of the Midwest. The little towns that dot the shoreline have their own personalities. My favorite is Ephraim. Our last dinner was there, at a cute restaurant, Trixies (Pictured above). The food and service was excellent. I had the Grilled Trout. In the town of Fish Creek is the best little used bookstore, The Peninsula Bookman. I bought three books.

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons. After a turbulent summer, the cool air calms the mind with freshness. The need for warmth is comforting and brings me closer to family. Writing this reminds me of a poem I wrote about my daughter when she was a little girl:

My Daughter

When I look into my daughter’s eyes, I see warmth and kindness
Her spirit is as restless and comforting as a summer breeze

Her eyes shine with wonder; her soul yearns for song
She sees the world in this way, and beckons for more everyday

On short, fall days, she dances with the fallen leaves
Her happiness lifts them and gives way to a promised rebirth

Her smile brings joy to all who meet her
I cannot be more proud, for her heart is pure and her mind is eager

My daughter loves with all her heart, and I love her with all of mine
She is my joy, my life; she is my daughter, Kathleen

June 4, 2021

Last year, as we were all working from home, I would sit on my patio sometimes to do work. I bought a bird feeder and a humming bird feeder. What unfolded was beautiful. I took pictures with a camera I bought earlier that year, a Canon 80D. I soon discovered the wonderful world of Birding. My wife and I visited the Jekle Creek Bird Sanctuary and I cannot wait to visit the Montrose Bird Sanctuary by Lake Michigan, downtown Chicago.

Now, I carry my camera in bag mounted on my bike rack whenever I go biking. On a recent trip on the Des Plaines River Bike Trail, I spotted an Eastern Bluebird for the first time. Its brilliant blue plumage was amazing to see.

April 9, 2021

COVID Vaccination Center

It has been a very busy start to 2021. The past several weeks, I have taken family members to county COVID Vaccination Centers, and I was truly amazed how nice the EMTs, the National Guard and Nurses and volunteers were. They were so efficient. We were in and out in a matter of minutes. The mandatory fifteen minute wait after the shot seemed longer than the process. Today was my turn to get vaccinated. I received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. I am registered for the second dose on April 30. By mid-May, I should have immunity. However, I did test positive for COVID early January, and I am not sure how long I have natural immunity. I had chills, body aches and toward the end, terrible headaches. The headaches continued several weeks after I recovered from COVID. The headaches would start everyday between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, and only on the left side. My doctor said I was experiencing Cluster Headaches triggered by COVID. She gave me a prescription that took care of the headaches right away. Thank God. They were debilitating. I couldn’t write. I am very proud that as a country, we were able to develop not just one, but three vaccines within a year.

November 7, 2020

It has been a tumultuous year. I started a new job back in May, and I worked so much, my summer seemed to have rushed by without being able to enjoy it. Mid-October this year, my son and I backpacked again the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. The last time was in August 2015. My son, Rick, and I love being close to nature. There is nothing like sitting around a camp fire with total darkness behind our backs.

We both needed this badly. My son who is only 27, owns a sushi restaurant. He worked so hard over the past 3.5 years to make that restaurant a success. Running a restaurant in the best of times is hard enough. I know, I used to own a deli downtown Chicago. Connecting with nature soothes the soul, and in a world full of steel, glass and plastic, it is even more important to provide our soul what it always yearns for.

April 19, 2020

The Land of the Morning CalmThe Land of the Morning Calm

More years ago than I care to mention, I spent 14 months in Seoul, S. Korea. I didn’t expect to find a modern city, but I did. It had not been that long since the ending of the Korean War, but in that short time, South Korea had grown so much. I think more than anyone thought possible. And with rapid growth comes some growing pains. It has been quite a few years since I left South Korea, but it always with me. The friendships, the experiences, the sights and sounds still echo through time in my brain. I am in awe of the people of Korea.

The Korean people call the United States, Mee-Kuk (미국), which means Beautiful Nation. Their’s is the only written language developed by scholars, and unlike its largest neighbor, China, the Korean alphabet is phonetic, just as the English alphabet. The Korean alphabet has 24 letters:
미 (M ee) 국 (K u k). The Korean King at the time, wanted an alphabet and a means for communication for the masses.

December 10, 2019

Some of my most fondest memories are from the time my parents rented the old family house on Hunter Dairy in Charlotte, North Carolina. We lived there when I was 3 and 4 years old. I would hold my sister’s hand, and we would explore the farm, watching the chickens and searching for the pigs. We had pecan and peach trees in our yard, and I suppose this experience influenced my desire to have similar trees in my yard.

I loved sitting on the porch with my parents, and I will never forget hearing the sound of a calling whip-poor-will for the first time. We were poor, but life on that farm was magical.

September 9, 2019

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dino_car.jpg

Dino Car. John Irving captured the essence of passion in a line from his novel, The Hotel New Hampshire, where the grandfather said to his grandson while lifting weights (and I paraphrase), ‘You have to get obsessed and stay obsessed.’ When I look at the Dino Car above, I see a person who has a passion for something. And that is good thing. In a world dominated by smart phones and social media, passion seems to be a rare thing. I imagine the person who drives Dino Car as a budding paleontologist, on a journey to discover the next amazing dinosaur find that will change everything, and I will have the good fortune to read about one day. Until then, stay obsessed. 

August 2, 2019

I occasionally get to work from home, thanks to modern technology. I love being outdoors. I have an explorer’s spirit. When I was a kid, after moving to a new neighborhood (which happened often), I was compelled to explore with my bike. I still love to explore with my bike. I am thankful I was able to play in woods, in creeks and build tree houses at what I think are the perfect ages for such things, 10 and 11. I am also thankful my children had similar experiences. These are things I think about as I have my morning cup of coffee on our patio. The vegetable garden in the background and our fruit trees (peach, plum and cherry) keep me grounded to an earth that is a wonderful gift.

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