I open my novel Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South with these 89 words…
“Once upon a time, the only sounds that came from the sky were sounds of nature. The buzz of bees, the call of a soaring hawk, and the roar of thunder that strikes fear into the hearts of restless children before advancing east to other lands that live in the lassitude of unbelief. Those sounds of life still bless us with their grace, but there are not so many bees and fewer hawks, and the thunder is more distant. I cherish the sounds and the memories they recall.”
A rudimentary form of Ignatian Spirituality has become an important part of my life. I practiced it daily as I wrote Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ. I share the ‘Gethsemane’ sequence with you on this solemn day when billions of people around the world commemorate the final meal of Jesus, called the Christ.
Every morning, I look forward to Garrison Keillor’s daily offering in his Writer’s Almanac. His five-minute musing leaves me intellectually satisfied and always a bit brighter about something. I find this morning’s offering particularly useful to me and others with an inclination to write. Continue reading Advice
My granddaughters asked if I had pictures of their great-grandfather ‘during the war.’ As I searched for pictures, I found a document he wrote in 1995, an autobiography of sorts, two decades before he passed away on June 3, 2015. I am proud to include it as a chapter in Tree Rings.
Tree Rings, Chapter Ten, Obituary, Howard Glenn Kraay
“Read with a pen, pencil, or highlighter in hand, marking in the book or taking notes on paper. The idea that books should not be written in is an unfortunate holdover from grade school, a canard rooted in a misunderstanding of what makes a book valuable. The true worth of books is in their words and ideas, not their pristine pages.”
I’ve not read Mary Oliver’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize winning collection of poems American Primitive. Ms. Oliver is often compared to Emily Dickinson and her work frequently focuses on the natural world. In 2016, I read her collection of essays Upstream in which she reflects on her willingness to lose herself within the beauty and mysteries of nature and the world of literature. Even though I am an admittedly slow reader, I believe I ‘rushed’ through that first reading for it left no impression on me. Continue reading Observe with Passion
My father built a grandfather clock from a kit in 1974. It quit working correctly many years ago, about the same time he did. Although he passed quietly in his sleep on June 3, 2015, the clock continues to function, but the chimes have long since gone silent and it no longer ‘ticks’ as the pendulum continues its methodical swing, but quietly. No clocksman had been able to fix it in years past, and today there are no clocksmen to try. They disappear like tradesmen. Plumbers and electricians will be the millionaires of the future. Clocksmen won’t because there are not enough clocks to fix. Time has been digitally disrupted.
Still, the grandfather clock stands silent sentinel in the entryway and watches me as I sit on the wooden bench to don my winter boots on these cold mornings to walk my dogs. A part of my father remains in the clock. He smiles a bittersweet smile knowing that my thumbs, particularly the one on my right hand ache with arthritis as I struggle to tie the bootlaces.
A regulator clock hangs on the wall in the living room. While I cannot verify its age, it does look like a regulator you might see in the telegraph office, the railroad station or the sheriff’s office in an old Western film. It ‘ticks’ with confidence and it chimes as long as it’s wound. There is comfort in its regularity.
My father built me in 1949. I quit working correctly with my first hip replacement early in the millennium. I opted for a second artificial hip in 2014 as much to ease the pain as to complement the first. Now I have two artificial hips. The second one works better than the first. Together – like the grandfather clock and the regulator – they work well.
I still get to bed early and I’m early to rise, I am healthy, not wealthy but wise enough to know how little I do know. I continue to function, to bike, hike, read, write, walk, pray, swim and kayak, but I don’t sing as much as I used to. I can’t hit the high notes. No one misses it but me.