Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Listen to the Voice

Listen to the voice that speaks within your heart,
a whisper set against the roaring tide;
softly calls the voice that’s set apart.

The world calls loud and clear and smart.
But what the world shouts is but a din;
listen to the voice that speaks within your heart.

Or someone says, Come, I know your heart!
And lures you with all things bright and false;
softly calls the voice that’s set apart.

Then down the crooked road you make a start
But hesitate and falter by the way;
listen to the voice that speaks within your heart.

Then turning back, you find you’ve lost the chart,
and way darkens unto way—and all seems lost;
softly calls the voice that’s set apart.

So you, my friend, find yourself alone.
Or not alone at all, for one calls, “Come!”:
Listen to the voice that speaks within your heart
Softly calls the voice that’s set apart.

Good friend, David Holper has done a little bit of everything: taxi driver, fisherman, dishwasher, bus driver, soldier, house painter, bike mechanic, bike courier, and teacher. He has published a number of stories and poems, including one collection of poetry, 64 Questions. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, and he has recently won several poetry competitions. He teaches English at College of the Redwoods and lives in Eureka, California.

Monday, January 1, 2018


Happy 2018! It's still Christmas in Spain, until Epiphany, Three Kings Day, January 6th. Little children visiting the Magi in the malls, like those visits with Santa in the States, decorations stay up and many, like me, are thankful they don't return to work until Monday, January 8th.
#epiphany #reyesmagos #spanishlife#Magi #Astorga #luces #agradecida#estrellas #navidad #feliznavidad#felizañonuevo

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Saving Fish from Drowning

So, the premise is that 12 travelers to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, go missing and a perusal of all the details that accompany that fact. At first, I thought this book was a disappointment after Tan fare like The Joy Luck Club and the Kitchen God's Wife. Nonetheless, Tan, true to literary style, enchants with cultural, political and other engaging details and even outdoes herself with the most outstanding character development I have ever read of each of the characters. In all honesty, I was a bit bored until about midway through the novel when I became hooked with the mini-drama of each person's life and realized I was reading a television reality show, aka Survivor, but creatively told from the viewpoint of the deceased original Chinese tour guide, Bibi Chen's ghost.

Did I mention that this book is also chock full of great quotes, life reflections and philosophical quips? Here are some of my favorites:

“The only thing certain in times of great uncertainty is that people will behave with great strength or weakness, and with very little else in between.”

“From what I have observed, when the anaesthesia of love wears off, there is always the pain of consequences. You don't have to be stupid to marry the wrong man.” 

"What bloody good was human adaptability if people weren't willing to change? Wasn't that why no penal system really worked to prevent crime, why people went to psychiatrists for years eithout any intentions of overcoming their obsessions and depressions? Humans had this extraordinary fondness for their own peccadilloes. That's why you could't change a Republican into a Democrat and vice versa, why there were so many divorces, lawsuit, and wars. Because people refused to adapt and accommodate to others even for their own good!" p243

“There is a famous Chinese sentiment about finding the outer edges of beauty. My father once recited it to me: 'Go to the edge of the lake and watch the mist rise... At dawn, the mist rose like the lake's breath, and the vaporous mountains behind faded in layers of lighter and lighter gray, mauve, and blue until the farthest reaches merged with the milky sky...Here the lessons of Buddha seemed true, she thought. Life was merely an illusion you must release. As she grew older, she was aware of her changing position on mortality. In her youth, the topic of death was philosophical; in her thirties it was unbearable and in her forties unavoidable. In her fifties, she had dealt with it in more rational terms, arranging her last testament, itemizing assets and heirlooms, spelling out the organ donation, detailing the exact words for her living will. Now, in her sixties, she was back to being philosophical. Death was not a loss of life, but the culmination of a series of releases. It was devolving into less and less. You had to release yourself from vanity, desire, ambition, suffering, and frustration - all the accoutrements of the I, the ego. And if you die, you would disappear, leave no trace, evaporate into nothingness...” pp228-9

Amy Tan, Saving Fish from Drowning

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Letters from Father Christmas

Posing as Father Christmas, Tolkien wrote letters for over twenty years to his children, John, Michael, Christopher and Priscilla. Almost every letter is a juvenile literature classic with plots and subplots, characters, instructions and advice.

It's impossible not to fall in love with NPB, North Polar Bear, and his downfalls and antics, and the humorous interplay between him and Father Christmas, both writing their own versions of incidents, mostly at the North Pole. There are delightful moments like NPB getting stuck in the snow, developing the whooping cough and barking like bears on Boxing Day, and how FC talks about with the right organisation you can get about 1000 stockings a minute done. He also gives insight to his character and fatherly sense of level-headed justice. "I don't forget people, even when they're past stocking age, not until they forget me."

There are snowboys, the children of snowmen, of course, and all kinds of magic, which Tolkien says, is strongest at Christmas.
Finally, the illustrations, which are also Tolkien's handiwork, are a treasure in and of themselves.

A highly recommendable read, but one to take slowly, maybe starting right after Thanksgiving and reading a bit every day to savour it all.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Gloria In Profundis

There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is split on the sand.

Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?

For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.

Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.
-G,K. Chesterton

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Brotherhood of San Isidoro

Mass and banquet of the extremely ancient, the "Very Illustrious, Royal and Imperial Brotherhood of the Miraculous Banner of Saint Isidoro of León", founded as an order of chivalry in 1147AD when the Leon's Emperor, Alfonso VII, became inspired by Saint Isidoro to fight and reconquer Spanish lands from the Moors. Now, of course, it has more to do with the power of the pen than the sword. Enrique was invited to join five years ago as a result of his writings and work on behalf of the province of León.