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Good Mountain Press Monthly Digest #099
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Patrick McGoohan (1928 — 2009) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ Starred as Number Six ~~~~~
~~~~~ on long-running 1960s TV Series ~~~~~
~~~~~ "The Prisoner" ~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #099 Published September 1, 2009 ~~~
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Quote for the Football-filled Month of September:

The whole world is the graveyard of famous men.
Thucydides, writing on Pericles' Funeral Oration

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~~ Click on Heading to go to that Section (Allow Page First To Fully Load). ~~
THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #099, September 2009
Archived Digests

             Table of Contents

1. September's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for September
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Flounder Seafood Étouffée
6. Poem from Cosmic and Human Metamorphoses: "Great Spirit"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for September:

8. Commentary on the World
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
10. Gratitude

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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #099
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ARCHIVED DIGESTWORLD ISSUES ON THE WEB
 
~ ARCHIVED DIGESTWORLD ISSUES ~
2000: INAUGURAL YEAR: Jun  
#1 Jul  #2, Aug  #3, Sept  #4, Oct  #5, Nov  #6, Dec  #7
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1. September Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.

The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.

This month Violet and Joey learn about Plain Talk, inspired by actual conversation with our grandson, Garret Tucker.

#1 "Plain Talk" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/083109jv.gif

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2. HONORED READERS FOR September:
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Each month we take time to thank two of our good readers of Good Mountain Press Digest, books and reviews. Here's our two worthy Honored Readers for this month. One of their names will be in the TO: address line of your email Digest notification. Our Honored Readers for September are:

Norbert Delph in New Orleans

Kathy Little in Slidell

Congratulations, Norb and Cathy !


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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:


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Out Our Way:

BUSY MONTH

How busy was it? I only finished writing one book review, that of The Noticer and my plans to finish World History and The Doctor and the Detective while on the cruise evaporated somewhere over the Baltic Sea between St. Petersburg and Helsinki. I have begun writing the former and have almost finished reading the latter, so look for them to headline next month's reviews. The good news is I have lots of photos from our trip to share with you and lots of news, so let's get started.

FROM THE ROADHOUSE TO THE DRIVEHOUSE

You'll be soon hearing about two houses named Timberlane, the Roadhouse is the one we're currently living in on Timberlane Road and the Drivehouse is the one we'll be soon moving into and it is about a block or so away on Timberlane Drive. To ease the communication flow between me and Del and you for that matter, it seems expeditious to give each one a name of its own name to avoid any confusion when we're arranging for work to be done, etc.

We are scheduled to close on the Drivehouse by the end of September and we will be doing some work on that house before we begin moving our furniture into it. The months of October and November will be very busy, but luckily my entire Editorial Staff of the Digest will not be on vacation for over two weeks as they were in August, so look for continued Digests while we relocate our workstations, etc. Luckily we won't have to disconnect the workstations on this end before the broadband connection is established at the other house. The main issue will be the amount of time I will have to work on the Digests during the transition, and I'm praying for a miracle.

Why are we moving? I am perfectly happy with the Roadhouse, but Del has complained for several years about the lack of space here. I saw the positive side of the small space: we used every square foot of space here. There wasn't a room we didn't walk through every day for some reason or another. On the other hand, I could appreciate Del's need for more space — she is the organizer around the house and if she is running out of space, we're in trouble. And she is. When we have some of our 8 offspring visit us with their kids, we currently have only one guest bedroom, so we must blow up some inflatable mattresses in the living room for the kids to sleep. Most of our kids have at least one boy and a girl, which means we really need 3 guest bedrooms: one for parents, one for the girl(s), and one for the boy(s). We need a house which is more than as big as our current home and it would be nice if the yard was over twice as big. That didn't seem possible. We needed a miracle.

A couple of months ago we met a miracle worker, although we didn't know it at the time, Glennda Bach, a real estate agent with Latter & Blum. Del knew her from her garden clubs and I knew her from her signs in front lawns, which over the past twenty years I've seen pop up with signs saying, "TOO LATE" or "SOLD". There was a house for sale on a corner I passed going to PJ's Coffeeshop for my mid-morning coffee break each day. I mentioned it to Del and she admitted she was intrigued by the house as well. We called Glennda and she showed us the house. We liked it, but there were two deal-breakers: the Master Bedroom was upstairs and it had a postage-stamp size yard. We looked at the other homes she had listed and they were either outside of our budget or didn't meet our two priority requirements. So we forgot a new house in Timberlane Estates, and we didn't want to move elsewhere. Then about the first of September, Glennda called about another house which matched our requirements and which had just been reduced to within our price range. We looked at and placed an offer. It was accepted, we got a home inspection, got approved for a loan, got an appraisal, and the wheels are turning on our owning the Drivehouse as of October 1 and putting the Roadhouse up for sale shortly afterward. We will sell it or lease it.

Friends asked us how we could leave our beautiful backyard, and I thought about that for a while. Finally I created the Diamond Cutter metaphor to describe how we can leave our "gem of a yard" as our daughter Maureen called it. Yes, it is a gem, like a diamond we've been cutting facets into and polishing for years to get it finished. And, yes, now we leave it behind for someone else to enjoy, but fun for me and Del is in the planning, cutting, and polishing and a new and larger rough-cut diamond awaits our pleasure.

Before we left on our Baltic Sea cruise on the eleventh, we had to have a home inspection done and review the results. Then we needed a video plumbing inspection done. The video plumber was Joe Brocato and he is good friends with my first wife's brother, Anthony Guthans. Glennda came over later to deliver the DVD's of the "Down the Drain" movie. We watched it and here's my movie blurb on it:

"Down the Drain" (2009) a grainy, black & white movie which gives a graphic new meaning to the phrase, "Your drains are clean" when spoken by a plumber. No music, no plot, no actors, but worth keeping around as it beats watching Network TV on nights when no NetFlix DVD arrives. Your Call

We needed to line up homeowner's insurance and flood insurance, we needed to qualify for a mortgage and to fix our mortgage rate, and we needed to have the house appraised. Somehow we managed all these things and packed for our cruise in 10 very short and busy days.

A WALK IN THE PARK

While all the excitement over the Drivehouse was going through our minds, our daughter from Bellaire, Texas, Yvette Clark, showed up with her two pre-teens and a French exchange student living with her for a couple of months. They stayed across the river with our local daughter, Maureen, but we got to spend a day with them at City Park.

This was the first time Yvette, who studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and speaks French, had been here on the first Saturday when the local chapter of CODOFIL (Council On the Development Of French speaking In Louisiana) has its monthly breakfast. I invited Yvette and Charlotte (the French exchange student) to come over to the breakfast as it would be fun and educational for both of them to meet local French-speaking people and get to talk to them over breakfast. Well, when the three of us arrived at the Les amis de CODOFIL, rive ouest meeting, the room was buzzing and already full of folks. A new table had to be brought in to hold the new arrivals including us. We talked, we said the Pledge of Allegiance in French and English, we sang both National Anthems, and ended singing along with favorite Cajun songs in French. Afterward Yvette said both she and Charlotte thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We said goodbye as they drove home to pick up the kids and meet us at New Orleans' City Park Amusement area.

I had called our grand-daughter Tiffany to ask if our great-grandson, Ben, could join us and she arranged to get him to Yvette. With Yvette's two, Evelyn and Aidan, and Ben, that made three kids at the park, right? No, you forgot Charlotte. She was 19, but had never been to an amusement park and ridden on a roller coaster, a Ferris Wheel, or bumping cars, among other things. She was just another one of the kids for today. Yvette lost her baby sitter for the day as Charlotte became another kid to keep track of, and it was a pleasure for us because of the sheer joy she experienced on the rides.

We got all four kids an unlimited ride arm-band and we only required that they ride on the carousel with us for the first ride and on train which circumnavigates City Park on the last ride. When we turned them loose, they scattered to the winds. We had four kids and three adults, which meant one of us had double duty at times. Ben loved the bumping cars and each time the ride was over, he would race out the Exit and zip around to the head of the line for the next ride.

Many of the rides had enough people to fill up the seats without anyone having to stand in line and wait for a whole ride to elapse. Charlotte loved the Grand Roule. Neither Yvette or I could figure out what she was referring to, until Yvette recalled that Roulette means "little wheel" and therefore grand roule must mean "big wheel" — what we call in America, the Ferris Wheel after George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. who invented it. One quickly learned not to stand in the path between the Exit and the Entrance of a ride — a passel of kids swarmed at break-neck speed along this path. It was a sheer pleasure to watch their exuberance and uninhibited joy as they made the run to the next ride as much fun as the ride itself. They never slowed down.

Yvette met a school buddy from St. Francis and I met the daughter of my cousin Deanna Hill. Jami was spending the day at the park with her husband, together with their son-in-law and daughter who had a small son hiding his face from the camera and was pregnant with a daughter-to-be. It was a fun day which no one wanted to end, but the adults certainly enjoyed the train ride around park with all four kids present and accounted for.

EGGPLANTS AND EATING OUT OF THE FREEZER

Last year was my first year growing eggplants and I got only one globe eggplant from each bush. This year I was determined to improve on that statistic or stop growing eggplants. My eggplant bush strived and were full of flowers, topping nine feet or three meters high, and yet, not a single eggplant fruit had set from any flower. Looked like another lugubrious year of promise without production! Finally I went out to the veggie patch, pulled a four foot high eggplant out of the ground and while it was kicking and screaming and gasping its last breath, I waved its wilting body in front of its big brothers and said forcefully, "Here's what going to happen to you if you don't make some fruit and fast!!" and with a flourish I tossed the dying eggplant bush into the mulch pile. I don't know what an eggplant bush sounds like when it whimpers, but there must have been some whimpering going on at that time. I hoped that would soon change into resolve to produce some fruit. I was sure that my message was clear, yes, crystal! but just in case, I had a backup plan which I immediately placed into action.

My backup plan was to pollinate the eggplant flowers with my fingertips. I wasn't sure it would work, but doing nothing but grousing last year did not work. So I immediately began lightly rubbing my index finger and thumb over the projections from the down-hanging purple flowers. I did every flower which was open and hadn't fallen or dried up yet. The next day I repeated my actions on the flowers that were open and so on for each succeeding day. And on the third or fourth day, a succeeding day for sure, to my utter amazement, I found about a dozen fruit had set on the eggplant bushes! Within another week, I had over two dozen fruit setting and burgeoning in size. I began to prop up the limbs of the bushes to help carry the weight of the heavy fruit. I was overjoyed by the presence of the eggplants, but chagrined by the realization that I might not get to eat any of the fruit. Why? There was another plan afoot.

That other plan involved our going on a cruise for over two weeks in the middle of August which is also the beginning of hurricane season. If we got a wind event while we were away, and it knocked out our power for several days, all the food in our freezer would have to be thrown away, and the spoiled food in the refrigerator compartment would have to discarded as well. My plan was to eat out of the freezer for the two weeks before we left on vacation. If I held to that plan, I could not cook any of the eggplant before leaving. Two problems: eating everything in the freezer was going to provide enough meals without cooking any eggplant. If I cooked eggplant on the last day or so, any leftovers would have to thrown away. I solved that problem by giving away large eggplants to Gus & Annie and Rosie Harris, since Annie and Rosie both love to cook eggplant. The rest I left on the bushes and prayed for them to remain erect and healthy for when we returned home. As they did. The first meal I cooked when we returned home on the 27th of August was some Red Bean-Eggplant Etouffée, which I have just eaten the last bit of and licked the plate.

How did the eating out of the freezer work? Well, the pack of frozen Alaskan flounder filets went into the recipe of the month for this Digest: Flounder Seafood Étouffée which you might wish to try for yourself if you decide to do the eat out of the freezer trick some year.

We ate well those last two weeks, and magically the freezer was empty of everything but some ground coffee beans which won't spoil if the freezer goes out. We moved only a few still frozen tubes of crawfish-eggplant-dressing I pack for future omelets to the freezer in the garage and some opened jars of condiments and preserves to the fridge compartment in the garage. Stay tuned for the rest of the story which happened when we returned from vacation.

LAST BABIN COUSIN DIED

My mother was one of 11 Babin children, 2 sons and 8 daughters survived childhood, and only her brother Lester "Peewee" Babin had a son, so out of some 40 plus grandkids, the Babin name would only be carried by Lester's son. Unfortunately a debillating disease hit four of Lester and Alicia's five children. The son, Lester, Jr., died at an early age and had no children. The daughter who escaped the disease, Cheryl, was the only one to have children. Two of the daughters also died at an early age from the disease. Janice was the last survivor of the five children and lived to the age of 65, spending most of her time in a wheelchair and cared for by her mother, Alicia. Cheryl preceded Janice in death by a couple of years from a non related disease. In her last years, Janice had to be evacuated for Katrina and Rita, not an easy thing for someone in a wheel chair whose only caregiver was a mother in her 90s. But there was an angel who helped Alicia, my cousin Myra Bascle who grew up in an adjacent lot to the Babin children and knew Janice from childhood.

It was a normal childhood for them. They played with us like all our cousins when we came to visit our Grandma and Grandpa Babin who lived in the lot between Janice and Myra's house. I was among the oldest of the Babin grandkids with Janice and Myra about four year younger than me. When I left to go off to college all of Alicia's kids were healthy, but soon the first signs of the disease began to show up and the deadly diagnosis was revealed. Alicia managed to get a large van to carry her disabled children to the doctor and hospital, selling her land to make ends meet at one time. The two other girls died in their twenties or thirties, but Janice carried on. She was an avid LSU fan I found out at the funeral, both baseball and football. She must have thoroughly enjoyed the past year when LSU won the College World Series and be National Champions of College Baseball.

The funeral was held in St. Ann's Church in the small town of Bourg, south of Houma, alongside Bayou Terrebonne. The name of the Parish is Terrebonne which means "Good Earth" and it was good earth for my Grandpa Babin whose 89 acres was found to have natural gas fields under it and my mother received royalties from the drillers for many years till the field played itself out. It was a obligatory drive down the bayou for me as the opportunities to visit with my Babin cousins get less frequent as the years pass. Aunt Alicia, now 95 years old, was up front greeting everyone.

She recognized my cousin Gaton, which is natural because he lives nearby, but didn't seem to remember me when I told her I was Annette's boy. The priest was an Asian priest who was hard to understand when he spoke, but his compassion and respect for Alicia was eloquent. He came down from the pulpit and stood in front of Alicia as he talked about her deceased daughter, but it was mostly Alicia he talked about and Myra. These two women helped Janice in these last years of her life. Not only through the evacuations for storms, but when Janice fell out of her wheelchair and broke her leg! That is not something I had ever heard of before, but Alicia with Myra's help got Janice to the hospital and Janice was able to recover and get back home to watch her beloved Tigers play in the College World Series. The priest talked to Alicia and to us in the pews about the sacrifices that Alicia made, taking care of her five children after Lester died some 45 years ago, children who became disabled and required round-the-clock care until they died, and Alicia was always there. Even now she was there and the lithe little priest was staring her in the face, inches away, nose to nose, saying "Alicia, it is time for yo u to take care of yourself."

I walked out of the church to head for home, while the burial took place in the cemetery behind St. Ann's where so many of my Babin and Matherne ancestors are buried. Across the highway was a large dead armadillo alongside the road and a couple of dozen buzzards were arrayed under a shady tree nearby apparently waiting their turn while two of their number snacked on the armadillo baking in the direct sun. There was some kind of message there with the propinquity of the funeral of a dear relative and buzzards eating. Perhaps it is that we will each one day be an afternoon snack for buzzards, I don't know, and I feel a bit disrespectful in even mentioning the buzzards and the funeral, but it did happen.

SAGGING BOOKSHELVES AND RUBBERWOOD

Don't know if any of you have bought bookshelves with pressed wood shelves as I have. If so, you will have noticed that over the years the center of the shelves sag from the weight. For the Drivehouse I want some bookshelves with real wood under the books that will be as strong as possible. I found what I was looking for and paradoxically the shelves are made of rubberwood! Now that name raised a red flag for me right away. I already have rubbery wood under my books! But a name is just a name, so I came home and did some research. I discovered that rubberwood is actually called Parawood in Thailand, and it is made from old, no-longer-producing rubber trees.

It is the sap of the rubber tree that is elastic and rubbery, not the trunks. When the trunks are dried and seasoned, they form a wood which is stronger than oak. So my next set of bookshelves will be made of rubberwood.

CALCITE EARRINGS AND THE ROLLING STONES' MIDWEST TOUR

Got a call from our daughter-in-law in Bloomington, Indiana, saying that our son was hospitalized in some small town in Virginia with kidney stones. He was heavily sedated. Apparently he had his ten-year-old son Walden was with him on a business trip, and the country hospital found a room for grandson to spend the night. Apparently our son passed the stones from his kidney into his bladder and he said when I talked to him finally that it made going to pee equivalent to playing Russian Roulette. There's that word for "little wheels/balls" again, in a new context. Our daughter Carla got a text from him saying, "I made some calcite for you for an earring." Indicated to me that his sense of humor was back, he was off the heavy meds, and able to use his cell. All good news. Then came the email to me with the following Subject line: Rolling Stones Midwest tour wraps up — it seems that he had left the hospital the next morning and was feeling so good, he drove all the way home to Indiana.

DELTA DOWN

We left for the airport in New Orleans at 1 pm for our 4 pm flight to Atlanta. If all goes well, we'd be on the British Airways flight to Heathrow at 8:30 pm, arriving in Stockholm a few hours later.

We got on the Delta plane and a thunderstorm came over us for an hour or so and suddenly folks with working laptops and internet connections were reporting the Delta site said we'd not leave till 9 pm, way too late for us to catch 8:30 flight in Atlanta to London and then Stockholm. Nothing from the pilot. Only later did we find out the door lock was broken and they wouldn't let it be worked on during the rain, and after the rain, they finally decided it couldn't be fixed. We were stranded and in danger of missing our entire cruise!

We called our Horchow Travel Agent Carolyn and she helped us, staying at the office an extra hour or more till our fate was decided and we had a new flight to Stockholm. We decided to go home and sleep in our own beds instead of heading to Atlanta. The next flight was a direct flight to Stockholm on Delta and didn't leave until 8 pm the next night, August 12, 2009. We had already missed our first day in Stockholm and if our luck held, we'd be at the boat a couple of hours before the cruise ship departed for Russia. Had to haul our own bags back to car and we took the wrong elevator and had to double back with six bags in tow.

We were exhausted by the time we got in the Maxima. Decided to go to Houston's to eat in Metairie as our fridge at home was empty. We had a nice meal for 44 dollars plus tip, and then we drove home. Back where we started, having wasted 9 hours at the airport, spent $13 parking, $5 porter, and $51 eating. And we never left home. And we missed a day in Stockholm. Rats!

And this was not the last time Delta broke down on the tarmac while a thunderstorm passed overhead! Same thing happened on the trip home. We were due to get home about 9:00 pm and didn't make it till almost midnight. Why? A slight problem with the lighting system came up while we were on hold for an Atlanta thunderstorm to pass over. When we finally took off hours later, there was pouring rain going horizontally rearward passed my window and lightning was flashing in the sky, some large bolts hitting the ground in the distance. Luckily there was little turbulence in the air and we soon left the scattered thunderstorm behind us.

Delta Down is not soft — it is definitely hard! Even when things go right, something can crop up. Like our next day flight to Atlanta. We decided to head to the airport in New Orleans in the morning and catch the first plane to Atlanta. Get off before the afternoon thunderstorms could delay us. We did: we caught the 8:52 plane, a small commuter jobbie with four seats abreast which took us there comfortably, — BUT after it landed we sat on the tarmac in the hot sun for 45 minutes before a gate became available. Delta Down is definitely not soft.

In Atlanta, I was able to use the first class lounge which had PC work carrels in small soundproof rooms. I used that time to work on my World History review. When we got to our departure gate, I met a young couple with two small girls who were clearly Swedish and heading for home. The lovely Swedish family comprised Björn Starrin, his wife, and two girls about 8 and 5, the younger one called Greta. I took two photos of them at the airport, and later on the plane I asked for his name that I might identify him and some day he can find the photo on the Internet on my Digest. I told the couple that all I knew of their country I learned from looking at scratchy Black & White movies by Ingmar Bergman, so that meant I was going to see Sweden in living color for the first time when we arrived. They smiled. And sure enough, as we walked down the concourse in Stockholm's ALN airport, there was a large poster with a smiling face of Ingmar Bergman saying, "Welcome to my city!" and there was Sweden in living color.

Our non-stop flight to Sweden on Delta in coach was sweetened up for us by the 59 empty seats on the plane which allowed Del to have three adjacent seats in the middle section to stretch out fully and sleep in. On the same row I had the two seats by the window to myself. I could sleep comfortably and when I wished to write on my Laptop, I would move a few seats ahead to the bulkhead where there was no seat leaning back restricting me. I was aware that someone had moved during the flight into the two seats behind me to stretch out and sleep. Never met her, but heard her talking about having to get a taxi from airport to a ship. Later Del talked to her and found out she was Sheri Levy, a Bridge Instructor on the Crystal Symphony, arriving a day late like us. Since we were passengers Crystal was sending a car to pick us up so we invited her to join us if there were enough room on the vehicle. There almost wasn't. Our six bags and her three filled every empty space in the small SUV, stacked up to the ceiling and in the one empty seat. Through Sheri we met Ian Raizon, also from South Africa and he helped us arrange our transportation from Dover to London at the end of the cruise, saving us a bunch of money.

STOCKHOLM ARCHIPELAGO

We got through customs wondered how we'd board the ship without an ID card., but they let us on the ship's main entrance without a card and we walked to the Concierge who took our photo and gave us our photo ID. Later while Del was showering I went out to the gift area for our only chance at Stockholm shopping before we set sail at 4 pm. In the small shop at the dock, I met Jennifer, a beautiful gal behind the counter who looked to be from India, but was a mixture of Sweden and some African country parents. I selected my souvenirs and I used up all my Swedish Kroner plus a US 50. She suggested a better rate via credit card, but I want to use up as much Swedish currency as possible and then get some coins. Had to give her a dollar for some coins at the end as she rounded the gift purchases to the $50 bill after another discount by her. A locally cast glass horse, Stockholm City Hall sculpture, a book about city and a colorful cylindar which makes moose sound when you turn it over for grandkids to play with. The moose spoke to us several times as we were packing to leave the ship at the end of the cruise. There was another gal seated at a table nearby, a blonde who was half Swedish and Russian, who wanted to know how to spell "Rhino" for a paper she was writing in English.

Our assigned dinner seating in the Crystal Symphony Dining Room was the early 6:15 pm one at Table 10, almost the same table as for our Italian Cruise in 2008 on the Crystal Serenity. Carolyn and George MacLaughlin, our tablemates from that cruise are on this cruise, but are on the later seating. Our table mates were Whitney Denman and Pam McKee (watercolor-artist instructors on board) and Marjorie and Scott Taylor from Montreal. Pam has identical twin boys, mirror twins, too, as Del found out. Marjorie is a Scot (born in Scotland) who later became a Canadian and Scott is not a Scot but a Canadian whose name is Angus Scott Taylor. Go figure. Marjorie and Scott seemed to pop up all over the ship where we were, sometimes it was Marjorie on the elevator, sometimes it was Scott, like the last full day at sea when he was just completing his massage with Rosa the Russian masseuse and heading into the steam room when I was undressing for my massage with Rosa.

These spontaneous meetings happened similarly with Whitney, Pam, George and Carolyn, and many other friends we made on the cruise. Bob and Lisa Campbell I met while looking out our veranda on the way out of Stockholm, they were also leaning on the railing of the stateroom next to us. Later we discovered they were assigned to a neighboring table at dinner. It is so easy to make friends on a Crystal Cruise, you simply ask a stranger, "Where are you from?" and a conversation breaks out.

We cruised out of Stockholm through the archipelago of islands leading to the sea. Took a lot of photos of the islets and the beautiful homes isolated on the hillsides we passed. Sea gulls loved to fly alongside our veranda and soar up over, allowing me ample chances for photos of them in flight.

BRONZE HORSEMAN, PUSHKIN, AND CATHERINE'S PALACE

Busy day our first day in St. Petersburg. We were up at six am to eat a quick breakfast and leave on tour. Constantin was our guide with his wireless microphone and our earpieces. I could take the ear piece off if it got noisy or too loud and just walk up to listen to him. We walked, rode the bus. looked over the city by bus, then walked, past the Field of Mars with its eternal flame taken from one of the factories and used to light the other eternal flames around Russia. Then we walked into the Church of the Resurrection where the Czar was killed (Church of Spilt Blood is its other name). Took photos of Winter Palace or Hermitage, take your choice. Had to walk to the other side of the Palace Square to get all of the building into my camera, and the result can be seen in the Banner at the top of this Digest. Took over 200 photos this day and used up my first battery.

The photos tell the story of what we did. They're coded in the order I took them for future reference. Some places I shot as we drove past and then later as we walked past them. We went into the Onegin Shop for a potty break. Bought our souvenirs mostly at kiosks. My Pashimir scarf was the first buy and a necessary one to keep me warm. Then Del bought a lacquered box. At the Church I bought a glass with the Bronze Horseman on it. At Onegin I bought a fridge magnet of the Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great which Pushkin wrote a great poem about. Met Father Justin in Onegin Shop and had a long talk with him.

The second day was our big event, A Formal Evening at Catherine's Palace. When I read the Excursion Brochure, I penned WOW! in the margin and after it was all over, I seconded that WOW! That morning I was in the ship's Bistro and saw Sheri Levy with two guys, Ian Raizon and Louie Prades. Went over to talk and found out all three of them were from South Africa.

First time I ever sat at a table where I was the only person not from South Africa. All very British. They asked me to sit down and I did. Del joined us later, and two more couples came over. Curiously all three South Africans ended up in another country. Ian emigrated to Melbourne and Louie had lived in London for 40 years, working, only recently returned to his native soil in South Africa. Sheri is living in Florida now. Ian proved very helpful in getting us and all of our six bags from Dover to the Paddington Hilton in London, and later to the Heathrow Airport as we arranged for Ahmen the driver to take us to Heathrow as well. These were the only transfers that Crystal did not take care of for us, but Ian came to the rescue. We met Ian and his wife Sandy briefly in Heathrow when we were flying home and they were going to New York. Louie was to be our tablemate for the banquet in Catherine's Place later than night.

The drive out of St. Pete was marvelous. We saw the countryside, the apartment buildings like crackerboxes built during the 60s. On the horizon what looked like a Nuclear Power Plant was actually the heating utility plant which supplies steam heat to all the residences in St. Pete. We arrived first and walked through the Classic Carriages of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some restored, some not. There was a cattle herd of tourists behind us, but they didn't seem to follow us all the way into the palace.

Details of Evening, filled in from photos.

First we made friends with Sean Linkson and Mia Kammann on the bus in order to get our photo made for the TP to publish. I had forgotten about doing that during the previous day tour with the onion top churches in St. Petersburg so it was necessary tonight. I enlisted Sean's help, and had him practice taking photos with my camera so he would be ready. I chose Catherine's Palace as the backdrop and I think it came out great. You can clearly see LSU in the headlines of the Times-Picayune and the ornate palace facade in the background. Her palace is a miniature of the large Winter Palace, but it still spans a thousand feet wide. Inside it mimics Versailles and the Schoenbrun Palace of Vienna quite well. More ornate with colored rooms, one with walls lined with amber. Given the price of amber for jewelry, that one room must be priceless. They took all the amber off the walls to prevent the Nazis from taking it and then replaced after WWII. For New Orleans natives,the palace resembles a shotgun house, so-called because the structure is linear with the doors lined up on the right edge of each room, so that one could fire a shotgun from one end of the house the other without hitting a wall. A very expensive shotgun house!


After the carriage tour, the group shrank down and we had a leisurely stroll through the palace. The doorways seemed lined up and stretched to the horizon as we walked from elegant, ornate room to even more elegant and ornate room. There was a flautist who played in several rooms. Nice touch. Then a pianist played on an antique harpsichord in the green room. Got a movie clip of that.

Then we reached the Great Hall where we were served tall stems of champagne and then Catherine II came out and greeted us in Russian with a translator giving us the English version. She and her husband sat down and the chamber orchestra played a couple of pieces and two dancers came out to dance period dances for us, European style, the style Peter the Great imported into Russian.

We walked out into the courtyard as dusk was drawing nigh and a Russian military band was playing marches for us. Then an elegant ballerina and her partner in a blue evening coat danced together in the open air of the large courtyard, with a semi-circular colonnade surrounding it.

Soon the dance was over and Catherine and husband, now in elegant European attire, rode out on the blacktopped courtyard in a carriage pulled by a black horse and white horse with white taped-up ears.

The horses were stately and strong as they pulled the carriage around in a couple of circles to the awe of all of us watching. The ballerina and her partner came and danced several dance in front of us. After the ballet, the band lined up on either side of the walkway, as we walked through the colonnade encircling the large courtyard on the way to our restaurant and dinner. The band played marches as if in salute to visiting dignitaries, and who knows but that we were.

The restaurant was close by, right around the corner of the palace and part of it. As we entered, there were Russian folk singers and dancers to greet us, in authentic Russian peasant dress. Inside we sat at our table. Louie joined us, as well as George and Carolyn, and a new friend Michael Finger whose son, Simon is a doctor in New Orleans. The Russian lead singer was operatic and his voice bellowed in perfect harmony to a rousing chorus of Figaro! He got a standing ovation for his singing. Del was given a clapping Russian rhythm instrument and kept time with the rousing songs, then bought the gadget as a souvenir. We also bought the CD which they had for sale.

The banquet was great, complete with a shot of Russian vodka for each of us. Louie drank two shots and his face and nose were red. Was glad he decided to stop at that. I drank a tiny sip during a toast, but no chug-a-lug for me. An elegant, unforgettable evening from beginning to end. We made our way back to the ship knowing that we had just time-traveled back to Catherine's Palace for an evening and our hearts were full. This was the evening event that I scribbled WOW! to on the side of the brochure before we left home, and it was exactly that: a WOW! experience, one never to be forgotten.

HELSINKI, PAAVO, AND CHANTERELLES

Our day in Helsinki, Finland came next. Got photos of us coming into the harbor and we took the complimentary shuttle into downtown. I had emailed Paavo Pylkkänen that we'd meet him and his wife Elina at noon at the Czar Alexander statue. I had reviewed Paavo's book, Mind, Matter, and the Implicate Order two years earlier, and wanted to meet him in person. He teaches Philosophy of Mind as well as Philosophy of Physics at the University of Helsinki.

It was raining when we arrived, and we walked up the steps to the Lutheran Church, some steps as steep as Chichenitza pyramid it seemed. Cold, forbidding church, hardly any color but white with marble statues. Del and I then walked down the side entrance and the steps were shorter as the street slopped down. Because it was raining, we stopped in a coffee shop which was unique: had a Quonset Hut appearance inside. Used the rest room and got some coffee and sat for awhile till it was time to meet with the Pylkännens.

Paavo walked right up to me. He looked more human than his book photo, a gentle Finnish man, tall, blonde, soft-spoken, like a character out of a Bergman film. Soon Elina joined us and we found a restaurant for lunch. I had seen some chanterelle mushrooms in open bins in the square earlier and wondered how they were used, and as I sat there, Elina suggested the mushroom soup, and sure enough the chanterelles were there in my soup, unchopped, with the same elongated Y-shapes I had seen earlier in the large bins, but no longer orange.

Elina had to return to work in the Ministry of Finance of Finland right across the square from Paavo. Paavo told us about his work at the University. Paavo showed us through the university and gave me a book about the Finnish philosopher, Eino Kaila, who wrote cogently about monism. I read a bit about his "blue fire" and will revisit that. Seems to be about the reality of the spiritual world, a topic in which I am most interested since Steiner convinced me of its reality.

Del and I noted that statues of nude women seem to fill the public areas of Helsinki, as if they had just emerged from the Finnish Sauna. There was a nude woman throwing a javelin, two nudes standing side by side, and a nude in a fountain with four seals spraying water at her feet. In our walk along the open market in the light rain, Del saw an artist whose work she liked and bought a painting of the Helsinki harbor from him. Each day when we got back to the Symphony with our treasures, I photographed them. Paavo talked a lot about the "Kalevala" — the Genesis story of Finland which was actually put together properly & well known already in the 19th century, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalevala. It was written down from oral history, and constitutes a relatively new epic about the beginning of the world.

Back on the Symphony, we went to hear Michelle Bell (Mick Bell of the Fifth Dimension) who has reclaimed his original name given by his mom, under urging by his wife, and sounded somewhat unsure of why he had done it. I met him later on the ship and told him how important his name was, its connection with Mi-cha-el the Archangel, who is always portrayed in art and sculpture as having his foot on a writhing dragon or serpent and ready to stab it, showing us that evil is alive in the world, but that He will show us the way and help us to slay evil when it rears its ugly head. Michelle got tears in his eyes, thanked me, and gave me a big hug. It was very heart-warming to help complete his reunion with his childhood name. Names are a big thing. We are given them when we are very young, grow up taking them for granted, and only as adults are we ready to come to grips with the karmic roots in the names we carry around with us for a lifetime.

ALL AT SEA

My favorite days aboard ship are when we spend the entire day at sea. It's a time for relaxing, for visiting with friends when spontaneous meetings occur, for recovering from the previous day's excursion ashore and resting up for the next day. After Helsinki we cruised to Germany, the coast village and port of Warnemünde from which the excursions to Berlin will take place. When I had visited the North Sea town of Wadden, many miles to the west, around 1998, Warnemünde was still in East Germany.

This sea day there was a big buffet in the Crystal Room and I got a photo of Michelle Bell with Charles Rushing and his lady friend, Sharon. Then took photos of the buffet, especially the penguin made from an egg. I wandered later to the Lido deck and Pam and Whitney enticed me into joining their watercolor class in progress. I had to leave and finish up quickly, but managed to create a St. Petersburg Impression according to Pam's instruction which came out as a Ringing Cedars image which I like. Hope you do also. Saw a Theatre at Sea Broadway-inspired show with Betsy Palmer and Richard White and others in it in the afternoon.

WALKING THE WALL, "ICH BIN EIN JELLY DONUT", AND THE $2 MILLION CAR

This was an early morning for me. Del didn't want to go to Berlin because of the six hours on the bus each way, but it was a don't miss spot for me. Bus left shortly after we arrived in port and Sheri was on our bus. She didn't have an agenda of what to visit, so we wandered the streets of Berlin together. We followed the bricks which marked the spot of the Berlin Wall through the city like the Boston Freedom Walk. In a way it is a freedom walk. We took photos of each other in front of the sections of the wall still standing. By the Reichstag, the river, and in a car showroom. Her son was crazy about Bugatti cars and when we saw a new model Bugatti, we talked the gal in the showroom into letting me take a photo of Sheri standing next to the Bugatti. It costs about 2 Millions dollars. You must put about a half million down payment to get them to start making one for you, a process which takes a year. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds and has a top speed of 407 kph, fastest of any production car. I didn't like the way it looked myself.

On the bus trip to Berlin we stopped for a rest stop and these German Hell's Angel types drove up, some thirty of them on black cycles with black leather and the name Feldjaegers on their bikes. Seemed nice enough guys.

Our tour guide was a young Romanian named "Vlad" who said his name was not short for the Russian "Vladimir" but was a full Romanian name, such as Vlad the Impaler. The castle purported to be that of the bloody Vlad would be ignored if advertised by its fortress name and no one would come to see it, but as "Vlad the Impaler's Castle" it draws tourists like Madonna draws Russians to her concerts. Vlad told us about the buildings we passed and he was very pleasant at all times, never talking too much or too long. I made certain to give him a nice tip and tell how much I enjoyed his guide work.

Got back to another boufet and open seating in the Dining Room, but I think Majorie and Scott joined us to talk about the days' events. I made a point to see Patricia Neal's "As I Am" performance with Del who missed Neal's show on the previous cruise. Neal added a few new things this time and I enjoyed hearing her life story again. I went to a show, "Shakespeare's Females", by the gal who played in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" namely Susannah York. She was incredible.

Loretta Swit's show I only stayed till she started showing clips from MASH and left, not being a fan of the sitcom. The Broadway stars were great and we made every show they did, except the night we were in Catherine's palace. Great singing, dancing, reminiscing. Leslie Uggams was performing. I met her and her husband Graham on the Berlin bus. Susan Powell and Richard White are married and they acted and sang together, also on Berlin Bus. I asked Leslie if my memory of her being on the "Sing Along with Mitch Miller" show and she said she was. It was her second show after name that tune.

Found out from Vlad that when John F. Kennedy announced proudly to the world during his speech at the Berlin Wall, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" few people outside of Germany realized that he was saying "I am a jelly donut!" There is a popular jelly donut made in Berlin that has come to be known as a "Berliner" — a donut of the form found in Berlin! Everyone outside of Berlin calls it, "ein Berliner", but inside Berlin, they simply call it "a jelly donut".

BANEFUL, BANEFUL COPENHAGEN, NORTH SEA TO DOVER

Docked in Copenhagen, Denmark today. We had a morning tour and the first stop was to see the Mermaid in the Harbor. Went into a Lutheran Church and took a great photo of Christ Jesus and St. Peter. Had the world's worst tour guide. She even admitted that Denmark collaborated with the Nazis just to save their butts and said it as if she was proud of the fact.

Has a great new opera house donated by a capitalist, a breed which is reviled but essential to the small nucleus of what was once a great country. Being proud of "free schools" when tax rate is 48% on poor people and 68% on rich people (over $60K a year) is ironic. Lucky it was a morning only tour because the guide repeated the story of Denmark's Nazi capitulation three times and I couldn't have stomached a fourth, fifth and sixth if we had an all-day tour with her.

Del and I both disliked Copenhagen intensely. Copenhagen is the not the wonderful town that Danny Kaye sang about so merrily. It is the capital of a dreary socialistic country who kowtowed to the Nazis in WWII and seem proud of it, to listen to the sad excuse for a tour guide we had. Denmark is the remains of a large country which once included large portions of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

Back on the ship, where capitalism reigned once more, I took some photos of the Crystal Room (built by capitalists to make a profit by providing a wonderful service) and a delicious cold soup I was served for lunch. Also photos of a three masted sailing ship going by while I was on the top deck. It was formal night again and Del took a photo of me reading from Conan Doyle's biography on the veranda in my tux. Before the dinner we met our table mates and others outside and took photos of each other.

The next day was our last full day at sea on our Baltic Sea Cruise. Another busy day at sea. I think we should have more days at sea for passengers to just enjoy each other's company. For me the day started down in the Crystal Room viewing and photographing the artistic watercolors done by Pam and Whitney's students.

The rest of the day was relaxing. I watched a Theatre at Sea show, had a latte in The Bistro, took photos of the waves of the North Sea spraying into the air, won a jackpot in the Casino, while Del was exercising her prerogative and her muscles and getting spa treatments. In the Palm Court, she and I went to afternoon tea, a marvelous event with Darjeeling tea, light sandwiches, a view of the sea from the bow of the ship, a trio of flute, violin, and piano playing music, scones with strawberries and cream, etc. On this day, the flute player who had promised me to learn "Orchids in the Moonlight" was practicing the song for a later performance at Table 10 for dinner. He gave me a knowing smile as I acknowledged his finding and mastering the song.

Early the next morning, Del and I were up, our packs had been packed the previous night and were safely tagged as Purple 5 which meant we were making our own arrangements for transfer in Dover, thanks to Ian Raizon. We took some photos of the White Cliffs of Dover from the Lido Deck as the sun rose over the coastline of France, which, because of the high cliffs of the Normandy coast (the other edge of the channel carved out by the North Sea to separate Lesser and Greater Brittany), we could see from 20 miles or so away. After a delicious last breakfast at the Lido Café and a goodbye and tip to our favorite Filipinos there. Somehow the Crystal knows to put the happiest and most cheerful and approachable servers on the Lido Deck in the café where early morning wakers need help the most. Rick, Derrick, Miguel were our favorites. A similar thing to what we experienced on the Serenity last year.

First order of business was to locate our bags in the bowels of the Dover warehouse. Thanks to the British passport check of all the passengers while at sea the previous day, we were simply waved ashore by the British authorities.

The gal assigned to help us locate our bags had her hands full. We finally found 5 of the six bags, but Del's small carry-on had apparently disappeared. Nowhere could it be found by five or six of us scouring the baggage area. Finally our gal looked behind a medium sized bag against the wall and there it was! Hooray! She led us out to the van which was waiting for us and accepted a grateful tip from us. Ahmen (whose full name is Mohammed, but Ian calls him Ahmen) was our van driver. He is arabic with a large graying Santa Claus beard. His gentle eyes and demeanor endeared him to us immediately. Ian and Sandy had two friends with them Barry and his wife Estelle and the six of us with all our bags Ahmen was able somehow to shoehorn us all into the 8 passenger van with Ian sitting up front with Ahmen on the trip.

BIG BEN, POLKA DOT TREES, GIVING THE EYE THE EYE

I began taking photos as Ahmen drove us through London, past the London Eye (Grand Roule or Ferris Wheel) which has replaced Big Ben as the iconic symbol of London. Felt no need to ride a tall Ferris Wheel, so we passed on it when we walked past its base, simply giving the Eye the eye. We had a lot to see and didn't want to use up our bus pass sitting in another paid seat for an hour. Spied changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace as we rode past and later when we walked past, it was the wrong time so we missed it close up. I called it "The Changing of the Diapers" as the Changing of the Guard bore as much interest to me as watching a woman change dirty diapers on a baby. So what? After they've changed the Guard, everything looks exactly the same as before. Same uniform, same positions, same fixed stare, same fixed grimace. At least the baby has a smile of on its face after its diaper gets changed!

At the Marble Arch, which we must have passed once in the van, six times in the Big Bus, and 4 times on foot, there is an incredible statue of a horse's head stood on end, nose to the ground. When I first spied it, it seems to be a huge hollow object of unknown design. Later passes of it on the Big Bus, I began to discern features like a donkey's face in the broad expanse of one side. Soon thereafter, the image of the horse's head reached a gestalt in me and what I thought was the donkey's head was the eye of the horse sculpture. A curious transition which I am yet pondering. Like the Man in the Moon, once the gestalt forms you cannot see the Moon without the Man in the Moon face ever again. But why the eye would have looked like a donkey is beyond me so far, and remains an unanswered question, up until now.

One of the wonderful things about London was that most of the museums if not all were open to the public without any admission fees. The Tower of London cost 17 pounds ($32) to see the Crown Jewels and other stuff which must help the Royalty pay for keeping intact a huge palace which has not been lived in by the Royalty for hundreds of years. Del wanted to see the jewels and I didn't, so she took the bus across town to see them while I visited Little Venice with John Townsend from Edgway town about 6 miles away. More about that later.

Unlike our visits to other European capitals this year and last when it rained in Venice (with a Vengeance), in Rome, in Helsinki, and in St. Petersburg (some of the time), London was beautiful and clear. One day a shower caught Del as she arrived back at our Paddington Hilton Hotel, but she was let out under the cover of the Paddington Station awning and did not get wet. No cloud cover, only scattered white clouds most of the first day for us. It was also warm, about 78, so we wore our long sleeve shirts around our waist when we walked. And walk we did.

The most impressive square is Trafalgar Square which honors Lord Horatio Nelson, an Admiral without a right arm or right eye, having lost both in battle. When signaled to withdraw by his superior, Admiral Hyde Parker, he put his telescope to his blind right eye and said, "I see no signal to retreat" and went on to a great victory. He rightly deserves the Order of St. Theresa for disregarding orders and going on to victory, and certainly earned the prominent place in Trafalgar Square. He even conquered the heart of Lady Hamilton without a right arm or eye and made her his wife.

We got off near the London Eye and walked past the base of London Eye, got some fish and chips together with a lesson on British rudeness. Walked along the Polka Dot Tree trunks to the next bridge, the Waterloo Bridge and had to walk the length of that bridge to catch the Big Bus once again to head back to our Hotel.

We arrived back about 8 pm and we were thoroughly exhausted. We ate at the restaurant across the street which had tiny two-man tables. Del had the salmon dinner and I had the salmon salad and it was ths same size salmon, only mine had wilted green stuff under the fish. Good, though. Over-priced? Natch. Kept reminding myself that I lived in a country 50 weeks of the year where prices were reasonable and low. Forget about those "old days folks" talking about when the "dollar was worth something" and they could do Europe on the cheap — these are the good ole days when it's cheaper to live in the USA.

ELGIN MARBLES, TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE

Next day we had a full day in London and a half day ticket left on the Big Bus. We decided to do the British Museum today. We had to take the Red Line to Trafalgar Square, then switch to the Green Line to Russell Square where the Museum is located. This time we got to walk around Trafalgar and take photos while waiting for the Green Line to arrive. At the Museum we walked directly to the Parthenon Exhibit room to see the Elgin Marbles. These were salvaged from the frieze of the Greek monument to save them from being ground up by peasants to build homes. It was during a time of Turkish occupation, and only diplomats like Lord Elgin and his wife, by schmoozing the Turkish leaders, could have gotten permission to remove and preserve vital history which was being pulverized daily. The amazing story of the transporting of the marbles can be found in Karen Essex's fine historical novel, Stealing Athena which I reviewed last year.

After the British Museum, we took the Green Line back to around Buckingham Palace and walked along Hyde Park to the Marble Arch to the Odeon Movie theatre where The Time Traveler's Wife was playing in it first run. We saw banners on the Double-decker buses announcing it and our Concierge had found out where and when it was playing. I had reviewed in 2006 the novel by Audrey Niffenegger upon which the movie was based. We were expecting a "Don't Miss Hit" and it was certainly that. By the time we had walked home from the Marble Arch area, we were exhausted. Ate at Garfinkel's Restaurant and hit the sack early.

LITTLE VENICE, CROWN JEWELS

Up early for our second full day in London. Del wants to go see the crown jewels and I wanted to not be walking about and seeing the same places in London for a 7th time. No interest in the Tower of London or the Jewels for me. So Del took the bus by herself and I got on the Internet for the first time. I was able to sign up for 15 lbs or $28 from 9 am until till we left the next day about noon. My London friend who I met over the Internet, John, was online and I talked to him over Skype. He sounded terrible, like he had very low energy. Could not come out today he said, and he apologized for not calling me back before I left on the cruise. I said I understood and said goodbye. About 15 minutes later he called me back in the room and said he decided to come meet me here for lunch. Whatever he did, talked to his wife perhaps, caused him to feel much better and he sounded great. I was so glad he came. I would have else completely missed the wonderful adventure of the day, one which gave me a taste of the true England which lay waiting for me just a hundred yards behind where we had been staying, Little Venice of London.

I went down to the Lobby and waited, inside the outside, at the time he set. But his train was late, and he showed up late. I asked if he'd pick a place to have lunch and he chose the Subway Sub Shop, an American place I rarely frequent, but where the shop was! In a place in Paddington known as Little Venice, as I was to find out. But first we had to walk between the outside of Paddington Station, whose roof was under construction, and the backside of an old hospital, on cobbled brick walkway just barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass. I couldn't imagine where we were going as there were no signs of life except for a few people walking toward the station's rear entrance. Suddenly a blue boat on a canal appeared to our right as we walked under an overpass carrying cars. To the left shops appeared in the bottom of office buildings, in one of which was the Subway Shop where we ate. Then we continued to discover the area known as Little Venice. Tour boats tie up and down the canal carrying passengers. John said you could take this canal to northern England, going through locks and dams, etc.

A triangular bay opened which seemed designed to allow these long narrow boats to make a turnaround, sort of a watery Circus, Little Venice Circus, I would call it after the various roadway intersections in London designed for the same purpose for land traffic.

John and I talked about various things. He reminded me a lot of a good friend from Waterford 3 Nuclear Power Plant, Eric Swearingen. Alike in body shape and facial structure, and both with a gentle and questioning spirit. He explained to me how his daughter was at school during an unusual hot spell in London and she fell faint. Apparently something had happened to cause her vestibular system to malfunction, perhaps the fluid dried up in one of the spiral canals, or some other systemic problem occurred in her body. After that day, until today when she is about 27 years old, she has had severe vertigo, unable to stand comfortably, and has undergone hundreds of various procedures to no avail. One EFT session gave her relief for about 3 minutes, but then the vertigo came back. This one time relief seems to indicate that permanent relief might be attained via a doyle trace. I had hope to meet her in person and lead her in a speed trace, but unfortunately she was not able to come on this day.

John mentioned that after the day of her incident, he had to avoid rotaries when driving her in a car or go very slow. This seems to indicate a problem in the spiral canal which governs side to side motion. John is hoping that doyletics speed trace might help his daughter, and we agreed to set up a meeting with her over Skype at a later date.

John and I had a café latte in the lobby of the Hilton and talked until it was time for him to go. A few minutes later Del returned from her Tower of London trip. I took her on a walk. She was very curious and I had to ask her to experience the walk as I had to, without explanation. When she saw the canal and boats, and the Little Venice area, she was delighted. On the Westbourne Terrace Bridge, an Arabic man came up and asked if I could write down the name of the bridge. He could speak English, but not write it. I said, "Sure." I found out his name was Mohammed and his grandson was also named Mohammed. I can now say that in my lifetime I met Mohammed's grandson.

We decided to walk back on the walkway above the canal because there were some benches to sit on and view the canal activity or lack thereof. It was the lack of the hectic activity of the London street in front of the Hotel which made this area so attractive to me. A peaceful respite in a busy city. There was a guy doing some Tai-Chi like exercises under the pergola across the canal. On the way back we walked through the Office Plaza and saw an interwoven statuary group. The Starbucks shop was nearby and I bought a grande latte there once or twice before we left, not PJ's quality, but better than anywhere else in Europe that I'd been.

AHMEN, HEATHROW, HOME

Nothing felt more like home than listening to WWOZ.org, a New Orleans Jazz Station, on the speakers of my HP LT in room 371 of Paddington Hilton. Up at 7:30 to begin packing and weighing luggage to keep each of the four large bags under the 40 lb. limit. Another great breakfast down in the lobby. Best free breakfast of the many I've had around the world. Hand-sliced, delicious brown bread toasted, hot oatmeal done just right, orange juice, coffee, marmalade, eggs, rice sausages, potatoes, etc. Ready to tackle the bowels and mazes of Heathrow Airport. Before leaving I took a gander walk over to the Little Venice section for a Grande Latte and came back to give Del some "foam home."

At 11 am, Del and I schlepped our six bags downstairs and turned them over to the bellmen while I had the Concierge call Ahmen (Mohammed) to make sure he was on the way. The very nice lady who answered called him, found out where he was, and said she'd direct him to our Hotel Paddington immediately and he'd be there in 7 minutes which he was. We loaded up and said goodbye to London.

At Heathrow it was a maze of people. The first class lounge, the North Lounge, was incredibly hard to find, up and down floors, escalators, and around corners, always being directed to the next place. The lounge was huge. Lots of good food to select from, but machine-made coffee. Del said she saw Sandy Raizon and I went over to say Hi. She said the guy that delivered her and Ian was non-talkative and not so nice as Ahmen. Ian came over, was in a rush as usual. I thanked him and he said they were flying to New York.

When it came time to get to our gate it was a Coaching Gate: put us on a bus. Some black gal broke through the queue maze and we followed her through to the first bus. The Brits were so unpleasant and unhelpful. I watched 12 people in uniforms handling only one queue! Were these Road Crews from the USA in London on vacation? Finally another queue opened up, but it required one person to check the passport and another to check the boarding pass. Go figure. Must be Union rules.

On the plane we had nice business class seats, kinda facing cubicles in which we could lay flat to sleep. The food was lousy — nothing so good as Air France or Delta in business class or even coach for that matter. The female Brit stewardess was a bitch, but John the steward was very good. I finally refused to look at the female. I worked on my Journal for hours and hours and uploaded and checked most of my photos of the trip, glad that there was a 120v power outlet to keep my HP Laptop full charged.

FRIDGE FAILS JUST IN TIME, BOBBY'S FINGERS FALL OFF, FEELINGS

Okay, just kidding about my fingers falling off, but they are loudly complaining as I sit here on the afternoon of August 31 trying to complete the log of our trip after three days of processing the photos, all 1400 hundred of them from the trip. While I processed each photo, I filled out any gaps in my Journal and used those notes to put together this synopsis for you, dear Reader.

How can an appliance fail and create two really good things in the process? Ah, there's a story to be told. This was the first time I ever cleaned out the refrigerator before going on a two-week vacation. Plus, I only cleaned out the fridge in the kitchen, the one I call Methuselah because it must be about 200 years old in refrigerator years, at least the latest models which hardly last 10 years at most. Best I figure, ole Meth was born about 1976 and has been in continuous use since then. I have had a fan motor replaced, a defrost switch, and the light switch to the refrigerator door, the one which turns the light out when the door is closed. That last job, I did myself, using an old microswitch I salvaged from a bad ice maker. My kludge worked perfectly these last 15 years except that if someone hit the bottom of the door, the vent cover upon which I mounted the switch would become dislodged enough to cause the light to stay on while the fridge was closed.

When this happened, I would note the water temperature of our ice water was warmer and reset the vent in place. I took to keeping a thermometer in the fridge to help me note any changes. This switch kludge has worked well, but we'll be moving soon and I don't want new tenants/owners to be calling me telling me the fridge is broken and I'll have to go over and replace it and even worse have to explain to them to not replace it or they might get shocked by the bare connection. I worried about this before leaving on the trip. Figured maybe to call our AAA Wayne super-repairman to come over and put in a new switch so I could remove my kludge. Chances of my doing that were minimal, but I thought about doing it.

Here's the rest of the story: when we got home, the temperature in the fridge compartment was 58 and in the freezer the same. The two lights in the freezer were stuck on, so I removed the bulbs and waited overnight to see if that worked to cool things off. It didn't. Further tests showed freezer and fridge were nice and cool, with near normal temps at the bottom of the compartments, but 58 deg. at the tops. WTF? Wayne came and solved the conundrum for me: the fridge switch only controls the light; the freezer switch also turns off the fan while the door is open. That switch had failed so that the door seemed always open, so the fan never came on! I told Wayne to replace both switches, the freezer one and the kludge one for the fridge.

It worked. Ole Methuselah is working great again and ready for a run at the all-time refrigerator longevity record. We may even move it to the Utility Room or Garage of the Drivehouse. Wayne explained to me how to move the refrigerator: keep it vertical, put hand cart under fridge side, keep it vertical at all times, and set down gently every time.

Two good things:

1) Failure occurred in an empty refrigerator. Nothing spoiled or had to be thrown away.

2) Kludgy switch replaced with new original switch.

Consciously I had no idea that the fridge was going to fail while we were gone. I thought I want to eat out of the fridge and freezer because of possibility of a wind event which might cause an extended power failure. I go into this much detail to illustrate how our Guardian Angel works. Apparently mine had let me have the idea to eat out of the fridge, but couldn't give me the reason it needed to be done. All I got was a feeling that it needed to be done, so I did it. Well, feelings are how Guardian Angels communicate with us, but only if we believe in them. I gave mine a name, Johnny, after it helped me through Hurricane Gustav last year. If you're sure that you don't have a Guardian Angel, you're right — you don't have one because you've ignored it for so long that it is ignoring you. If you consider the possibility you might have one, begin to notice when things go right more than when they go wrong, and you'll begin to see a pattern of some spiritual guidance going on behind the scenes that can only be communicated to you by feelings. Remember this: Feelings — they're more than just elevator music.

TILL NEXT MONTH

That's it from out our way for another Digest. It will be a little late this month, hopefully by the end of September First. Till next month, God Willing, and a few miracles happen, we will return with a new Digest for you to enjoy. Enjoy the shortening of the days and the onset of falling leaves. Make September a great month for yourself, wherever in the world you live ! ! !

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  • New Stuff about Website:



  • Five Books on Art

    1. Seymour B. Sarason's The Challenge of Art to Psychology

    The author suggests in his Preface that the best title of this book would be:

    How Our Society Ignores, Blunts, Extinguishes, and Devalues a Universal Feature of Human Capability, with Untoward Effects for People and Society

    A little unwieldy, he admits, but in his The Argument in Summary chapter, he quotes the American poet, John Ciardi, as he was addressing a group of powerful businessmen:

    [page 7] 'An ulcer, gentlemen, is an unkissed imagination taking its revenge for having been jilted. It is an unwritten poem, an undanced dance, an unpainted watercolor. It is a declaration from the mankind of the man that a clear spring of joy has not been tapped and that it must break through muddily, on its own.'

    No better description of the difference between art and science can be found than what William James said in his Talks to Teachers on Psychology:

    [page 65] I say that you make a great, a very great mistake, if you think that psychology, being the science of the mind's laws, as something from which you can deduce definite programs and schemes and methods of instruction for immediate schoolroom use. Psychology is a science, and teaching an art, and sciences never generate arts directly out of themselves. An intermediary inventive mind must make the application, by using its originality.

    Later the author asks a very interesting question when he tells us what he found in classrooms:

    [page 71] What happens to the rate of question asking when a child begins school? I have spent countless hours in classrooms. None of my observations stemmed from an interest in question asking. It took me a while to become aware of the obvious: the classroom was not a place where children asked questions. They answered, they did not ask questions.

    In the study by Edwin Susskind in 1969, one of the few ever done on question asking, he found that, in a typical 45 minute class period, the teacher asked from 40 to 150 questions while the children asked only two. What happens to our children in school when the education system focuses on teachers asking all the questions?

    One can easily imagine the demotivating and demoralizing effect it has on students for the teacher, who knows all the answers, to be doing all the asking of questions. As Sarason points out, "It's as if the questions of children are either nonexistent or interfering or a distraction to be ignored." Asking questions draws answers from those children who already know the answer and is best saved for testing time. When a child asks a question, they open the possibility within for learning to take place, both in the questioner and in the remainder of the classroom.

    John Dewey's lectures at Harvard (1932) in Art as Experience next comes under Sarason's viewing glass. "Dewey was a destroyer of traditional dichotomies," he says by way of introducing the importance of Dewey to our understanding of art and its place in our lives. To see Dewey as a destroyer of the fixed two-part labels of art and non-art, of artist and non-artist, places Dewey in the category of artist according to my definition of "art is the process of destruction of sameness." Notice how Dewey distinguishes fine art from the varieties of human experiences by discussing a continuum like that which distinguishes a mountain from the surrounding terrain:

    [page 84] Mountain peaks do not float unsupported; they do not even just rest upon the earth. They are the earth in one of its manifest operations.
    He explains the origins of art in common everyday experiences that everyone can relate to:
    [page 85] The sources of art in human experience will be learned by him who sees how the tense grace of the ball-player infects the onlooking crowd; who notes the delight of the housewife in tending her plants, and the intent interest of her goodman in tending the patch of green in front of the house; the zest of the spectator in poking the wood burning on the hearth and in watching the darting flames and crumbling coals.

    These experiences are examples of what Dewey calls the life factor that allows us to destroy the expectations of sameness in process of creating original art. All art must be original — or else it is merely the production of epigones, those born-after, second-hand imitators, those purveyors of kitsch, which is the typical output of craft classes and weekend artists that lines the display stands of shopping mall exhibits. Sarason notes the clarity of the phrase life factor thus:

    [page 92] In other contexts and by other writers, the phrase "the life factor" may strike one as vague, mushy, and up-in-the-clouds. But Dewey is extraordinarily clear that the life factor is the normal human attribute that allows us to depart from a previous given order and to forge a new one. It is the attribute that, despite the process of socialization and its goal to maximize continuity of and conformity to the established order, ensures individuality.
    Thus put, art, as the breaking of the established order, is synonymous with the process of freedom or spiritual activity as described so well by Rudolf Steiner in his Philosophy of Freedom, a book that he preferred the title, Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, for his American readers' ears.
    The life factor is an excellent synonym for spiritual activity as it is used by Steiner. One of the challenges that art gives to psychology is that the universal laws so cherished by psychology are broken with regularity by the artist, since law-breaking is an inevitable concomitant of a free activity. The greatest artists of this century were those that broke the laws governing what was an appropriate mode of painting, as Picasso did with his cubism paintings.

    It would seem that children with their limited knowledge of the rules about writing would be natural poets, and so Kenneth Koch, a poet and professor of creative writing, decided to teach poetry at P. S. 61 in New York City, and wrote of his experiences in Wishes, Lies, and Dreams in 1970. But he discovered instead that, "Some children's poetry was marvelous but most seemed uncomfortably imitative of adult poetry or else childishly cute." He got amazing results from one fourth-grade class with his "I wish" exercise. He told the teacher to ask her students to begin every line with "I wish, not to use rhyme, and to make the wishes real or crazy."

    Sarason, as a clinical psychologist, writes of encountering a new complaint in his clients, a feeling of lowered expectations and a bleak future. He says about them:

    [page 180] That was not what they complained about when they began psychotherapy, but that is precisely what emerged over time. The sense that they could no longer expect much from life, that they were impotent to change their situation, let alone change a complicated, vast, uncomprehending, incomprehensible, overpowering world. . . . We are enmeshed in a world system that has discernibly decreased our freedom of action.
    Rightly seen, the embedding of the individual in a culture of mechanized kitsch, mass-produced sameness, and vacuous self-expression has resulted in a loss of vital meaning, as though the life factor of our lives depends on embedding ourselves in the process of art-producing activities as much as art depends on the life factor for its existence.

    2. Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel

    In 1985 Kundera decided that he would no longer give interviews to journalists who subsequently butchered up his words into unrecognizable shards. He began to insist on co-editing any interview and holding the copyright. This book is the result of an extensive interview made shortly after his decision. His views of the novel as a work of art are incisive, at times jolting, and always refreshing. He claims that great novels are noted by the things they aim for, but never quite reach — the striving of a writer to discover something within in the process of writing the novel. Novels must have two levels: theme and story — like a two-layered cake, the theme and story must fill the entire novel — or else the story without the theme becomes flat.

    Like great musical compositions, novels must have polyphonic confrontation in which each voice is as prominent as the others. Kundera studied music composition till age 25 and brings his comprehensive musical knowledge to bear in providing insights into the understanding of the art of the novel.

    What make a story Kafkan (Kafka-like)? It is the presence of a "boundless labyrinth" in the face of the state bureaucracy that the key character must confront. Like the story of the engineer falsely accused of making a statement that he wished to emigrate — he is finally forced to emigrate when all his attempts to correct the falsehood meet dead ends in the endless corridors of the state.

    Poetry and philosophy, Kundera says, cannot incorporate the novel in their works, but the novel can incorporate poetry and philosophy. The novel, he tells us, is about man's being. What it means to be in the world.

    A true artist, whether painter or novelist, seeks the "truth behind," a hitherto undiscovered truth, but one always there "behind" reality. The artist who engages in the service of an already known truth has renounced the mission of art and is engaged in the mundane activity of proselytizing - whether the truth be the virtues of Communism or Christianity. "A poet who serves any truth other than the truth to be discovered is a false prophet.

    Sample of Kundera's poetic flights of prose:

    Beauty in art: the sudden kindled light of the never-before-. This light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man, and thus the novelists' discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish us.

    This man, when he dines alone, is in the presence of genius.

    3. Edgar Wind's Art and Anarchy

    Three quick quotes from book:

    ...effective censorship is a contradiction in terms. Like pruning, it gives new vigor to what it cuts back; but if it attacks the root, it destroys the plant it is supposed to save.

    If modern art is sometimes shrill, it is not the fault of the artist alone. We all tend to raise our voices when we speak to persons who are getting deaf.

    As Croce rather brusquely put it, there is no 'double bottom' to the suitcase of art.

    What you see is what you get, both with art and Wind. A art historian by profession and a master writer by avocation, Wind overflows with a wealth of insights into the evolution of art over the past five centuries. He points out that in Raphael's time, a theory was extant that Plato used the language of poetic enthusiasm and Aristotle that of rational analysis.

    Thus he explains how the painter's "School of Athens" came to be dominated by Apollo (god of poetry) and Minerva (goddess of reason). By following this thought in analysis, one is led to discoveries about the painting that a purely sensory examination would have missed. "Our eye sees as our mind reads," Wind remarks.

    On patronage he comments on how, "we prefer to wait until an artist has finished his work" but in the Renaissance, patrons were wont to exercise their critical judgments while the fate of the work was still in doubt. He explains the creative part that Pope Clement VII played in the development of Michelangelo's works in Rome. He contrasts this with the laissez-faire attitude taken by the architects of the UNESCO building in Paris. He says the art that resulted seems to "loiter about the place without function, distracted and disunited."

    A challenging book, filled with French and German quotations, well worth reading in their originals, which is not optional since no translations into English are provided.

    4. Jerome Bruner's Actual Minds, Possible Worlds

    Many important ideas fill this book. Here are the salient ones and the thoughts they inspired:

    Wolfgang Iser speaking on narrative says, "... the reader receives it by composing it." This mirrors Peter Schenck's thesis in "Tell Me A Story" in which he avers that it is by telling a story that we remember things at all. Thus composition occurs in both the sending and receiving ends of a story.

    Italo Calvino has Kubla Khan ask Marco Polo to tell him about Venice. Polo replies, "Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice." Polo recognized that his home city was implicit in every other city he described.

    From George Miller's famous 7±2 paper, Bruner deduces, "...it means that perception is to some unspecifiable degree an instrument of the world as we have structured it by our expectancies." My equation to describe this process generically is : Pn= f(In, g(Ip)), where Pn is perception now, In is Inputs(raw sensory data) now, Ip is Inputs past, and f() and g() are functions. Thus one may read my equation as follows: our perception in the now is a function (f) of our inputs in the now and another function (g) of all of our inputs in the past (up until now). This equation explains why my favorite phrase "up until now" works so well when placed at the end of a statement expressing a limitation. The phrase refers only to the g(Ip) portion of the equation and reminds us that we can rethink the In in the present moment and open up possibilities that never existed before thereby.

    Nelson Goodman says, "What must be added is that [all] these versions are true." in referring the multiplicity of explanations for the sun and earth's relative motion. This reflects my rule that "All Meanings Are True(AMAT)."

    Bruner says, "...actions (anticipated, in progress, and recalled) infuse our representations of the world." Since In refers to "in progress" actions and g(Ip) refers both to anticipated actions and to recalled actions, my equation echoes Bruner's insight here.

    Carol Feldman says, "Modals expressing a stance of uncertainty or doubt in teacher talk to teachers far outnumbered their occurrence in teacher talk to students." Thus do teachers teach a certainty to their students that they don't believe exists when they talk to their peers.

    Bruner says of Vygotsky, "...conceptual learning was a collaborative enterprise involving an adult who enters into dialogue with the child in a fashion that provides the child with hints and props that allow him to begin a new climb, guiding the child in next steps before the child is capable of appreciating their significance on his own. It is the 'loan of consciousness' that gets the child through the zone of proximal development." But Bruner also warns that Vygotsky's zone of proximal development is not always a blessing, "May it not be the source of human vulnerability to persuasion, vulnerability because the learner begins without a proper basis for criticizing what is being 'fed' to him by ones whose consciousness initially exceeds his own?"

    Bruner again, "Literature subjunctivizes, makes strange, renders the obvious less so, the unknowable less so as well, matters of value more open to reason and intuition." In the last sentence of the book Bruner says, "And we should never underrate the boredom induced by empty ideas pretentiously paraded." No better description of 'kitsch' has ever been made, as it includes all manner of literature and art.


    5. R. G. Collingwood's The Principles of Art

    In this monumental treatise on the principles of art, Collingwood leads us through his various understandings of art. Art as craft, art as magic, art as amusement, art as representation, art as expression, art as imagination and finally to his primary thesis: art as language. Speaking artfully he describes the modern situation of art as topically as if he were writing in 1988 instead of 1938.

    "Historical parallels are blind guides," he says, comparing modern civilization to that of the latter Roman Empire. He comments that "what we are concerned with is the threatened death of a civilization," and continues:

    Civilizations die and are born not with waving of flags and the noise of machine guns in the streets, but in the dark, in a stillness, when no one is aware of it. It never gets into the papers. Long afterwards a few people, looking back, begin to see that it has happened.

    Thus he introduces us to his point that in most of our garden, art has died, having been replaced by amusement, and in Books II and III he presents his plan for the necessary re-cultivation of that garden. Book II contains his "Theory of Imagination." In it he describes the evolution of language out of imagination and consciousness so that we come to "acquire new emotions and new means of expressing."

    "Art does not tolerate cliches," he proclaims. No other quote better describes the essence of art to Collingwood. He views art as mathematics: that its true function is to create possible worlds, "some of which, later on, thought will find real, or action will make real."





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    Movies we watched this past month:

    Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases.
    P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.
    Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
    “First Do No Harm” (1997) from the Hippocratic Oath includes giving information on a non-medical cure for epilepsy, like the Ketogenic Diet of John Hopkins. Doctors who captiously withhold this information choose to follow the Hypocritic Oath . A DON’T MISS HIT !
    “The Soloist” (2008) A tour de force for Robert Downey and Jamie Fox! An incredibly good movie. Proves “you don’t have to be crazy to be a soloist, and it doesn’t help.” Nathaniel Ayers lost his way in NYC and found himself in LA. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! !
    “Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (2008) Our London-bond heroes plummet into a future Narnia which has nearly been obliterated by the Telomarines and they help the exiled Prince Caspian return peace to the land where once more the animals talk and the trees dance like in Anastasia’s Ringing Cedars paradise today. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !

    “When Was the Last Time You Saw Your Father” (2007) when he was in full control of his life, when he was calling you meathead, and only telling others how proud he was of you. Colin Firth has to deal with his dying father and living memories during this fine movie.
    “Leatherheads” (2007) was what football players were called in pre-NFL days when pro ball was a joke, rules were for dummies, and guys left jobs in coal mines to play football. A droll look at passes of all kinds between Clooney and Zellweger. (Worth a second look on Blu-RayHD.)
    “Crossing Over” (2008) with Harrison Ford as an immigrant agent with a heart enforcing heartless laws. Ray Liotta also, but immorally. Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, and Aussies coming and going across the heartless border. Some stay, some go, some live, some die. All in a day’s work. A DON’T MISS HIT !
    “The Locket” (2002) Vanessa Redgrave stars as aged woman in nursing home befriended by young man who is struggling to throw off the chains of his estranged father’s hold on him without forgiving him first. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “The Time Traveler’s Wife” (2009) stays at home and waits for her husband come home from somewhen. Hopefully alive. When Henry pops into somewhen, he arrives stark naked, and must somehow find a way to stay warm and out of jail, two conflicting goals which he becomes an expert at achieving. What kind of life is this for a man or for his wife, for that matter? Movie answers the questions, and it make take a couple of viewings to catch all the nuances of Niffenegger’s wonderful novel brought so finely to the screen. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “Gran Torino” (2008) From Rawhide to Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood has been keeping “dem doggies moving” thru every kind of weather and entertaining us at his every age. Here as crotchy old retiree, he still has enough Marine in him to take one more beachhead with grace and elan.

    Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.

    “The Betrayed” (2008) spends 99 minutes in a damp warehouse cell with a woman who is required to figure out what her wayward husband is doing by listening to bugging tapes or lose her son. A gripping movie which loses its grip along the way. Suggest you lose your grip on this movie also.

    Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:

    “Walker Payne” (2006) Coal mine closes and Walker, who needs money to get his two girls back takes to fighting his dog, Brute, who life is brutish and short.

    “Night Train” (2008) is a “hop and chop” without the hopping. The Maguffin, like the Wandering Jew, lives forever and holds in its thrall people who peer into its contents until their death. Night Train pulls you through the story from beginning to end and end and end, and etc.
    “The Good Night” (2007) That’s any night with a dream of Penelope Cruz. Our hero has many — till he meets her in person — but what will it take for him to go home to his wife?


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    4. CAJUN STORY:
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    A very attractive, shapely young lady, chaperoned by a hunched-over, homely old lady, entered Doctor Boudreaux's office.

    "We have come for an examination," said the young girl.

    "Mais ouis," Doctor Boudreaux tells her. "Go behind dat curtain and took all of you clothes off." "Oh no, it's not for me," said the girl, "It's for my old maid aunt here."

    "Oh, Ah see," Doc Boudreaux replied. He walked over to the elderly woman, and said, "Madame, stick out you tongue!"

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    5. RECIPE of the MONTH for September, 2009 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
    (click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
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    Flounder Seafood Étouffée

    Background on
    Flounder Seafood Étouffée

    This is a new dish which I created one night based on "Flounder Dawonda" at DiMartino's Deli. I used the base for the Leeks-Étouffée from digest066.htm and modified it for crawfish, shrimp, and flounder. Also included some chopped fresh mushrooms. As my Cajun compatriots say, "Talk About Good!"

    Ingredients

    3 Leeks, chopped
    2 medium yellow onions, chopped
    4 TBSP butter
    4 TBSP flour
    8-12 oz Fresh Mushrooms, chopped
    1 lb peeled raw shrimp
    6 to 8 small filets of flounder, cut in half
    16 oz Louisiana crawfish, peeled, with fat added, preferrably unfrozen.
    1 can of chicken brothth or stock, 14.5 oz
    4 oz evaporated milk (or heavy cream)
    1 tsp of Shrimp Powder
    1 TBSP chopped parsley and/or fresh basil
    1 tsp of chopped garlic
    Salt & Pepper (Season-All, Tony’s, Malabar pepper)


    Preparation
    Chop onions & leeks and mince basil and parsley. Chop mushrooms in chunks.
    Place stock in a large measuring cup and heat in microwave for about 3 minutes to get it hot.

    Cooking Instructions

    Melt butter in a large frying pan and add the chopped leeks, garlic, basil and parsley. Sauté for 5 minutes, allowing a few small pieces of leek to char (adds color to final dish). Add chopped onions and continue sauté.
    Add chopped mushrooms, peeled shrimp and crawfish and continue to stir for about five minutes on medium heat.
    Add flour, stirring all the while for another five to ten minutes. If mixtures balls, add a bit of stock, and keep stirring.
    Add the hot stock and stir until the mixture boils. Reduce heat to a Simmer and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
    Add the cream and return to Low Heat, stir and then fold in the flounder filets, cut in half. After mixture returns to slight bubbling, turn to simmer for about 15 minutes.
    See photo here of it in the pot simmering and ready to serve.

    Serving Suggestion
    Can be served immediately. Best served over wild rice/long grain rice mixture as show above. This is a hearty main dish which both you and your guests will enjoy. Bon Apetit!

    Other options
    This can be refrigerated and re-heated in microwave for up to a week and it will be as delicious as when it came off the stove.



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    6. POETRY by BOBBY from Cosmic and Human Metamorphoses:
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                Great Spirit


    The Earth is a Great Spirit
           That always Faces the Sun
           And Bows to the Sun
           To the Great Spirit of the Sun,
                  Once a Year.

    The Earth Spirit Faces
           The Sun in full Consciousness
           While the Back of its Mind
           Is off in Space being Infused
           By the Spirit of the Night,
           The Great Astral Spirits of the Night.



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    7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for September:
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    And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.

    1.) ARJ2: The Noticer — Sometimes All a Person Needs is a Little Perspective by Andy Andrews

    This book came to my notice by a small poster for the book on the counter top at Dizzy Bean's Coffeeshop in Gulf Shores, Alabama, a place I frequent when we are in Orange Beach for our summer week. I asked the server if she had read it, and she said it was great. When I got home, I ordered a copy and was surprised to find a 2009 publication date on it. Somehow the word on this book had reached all the way down to the gulf coast beach area, I thought, but then I began to read the book and discovered it was set in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, even naming some of the places I had seen in the area. Amazingly, the author describes the road I took from our beach cabin to Dizzy Bean's: "Traffic was light on the road. It was used mostly by locals as a shortcut to reach Highway 59. Tourists rarely ventured this way." (Page 45)

    But was the book good? Luckily my Google Library showed me that there is a Limited Preview, and I read the first chapter on-line. This book made me feel the way I did when I first read Richard Bach's "Illusions — The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah" so I quickly ordered a copy of the book, read it and then as with Bach's classic, I ordered copies to give away, this time to our grown children. If you haven't heard about this book from a friend yet, consider this your notice. You will want to become a Noticer yourself before you finish reading this book.

    The hero of Illusions lived as a barnstormer and the hero of this book, Andy, lived as a beachcomber; one lived out of his biplane which he flew from one place to another, giving rides to earn money, and the other lived in a hole in the sand under the Gulf States Park's pier from which he scavenged food and odd jobs. Richard meets Don Shimoda, another barnstormer, and Andy meets Jones, another scavenger. The two authors, Bach and Andrews, seem to be telling a true story, one filled with truths about life and living, and yet otherwise impossible things seem to happen around Shimoda and Jones, both authors learning deep lessons about life in the process from their enigmatic teachers.

    This book is a fast read, only two days for me, so it will not make sense for me to give away any of the details of the story in this review, except a comment or two and a sample of one of the stories. This is a book to be consumed by those in happy marriages, those coming out into marriage or out of a bad marriage, and those who have foresworn ever marrying for the first time or ever again. It can be your good driving lessons for marriage, something to assist you out of the ruts which may otherwise keep you stuck on the road to non-marriage. Are these deep and pervasive truths? Not really. As the subtitle rightly says, and the book explains, "Sometimes all you need is a little perspective." Are you ready to take lessons from the Master Noticer, Jones? Get yourself a copy and begin reading.

    Andrews dedicates this book to Polly, ". . . my wife, my best friend, my love . . . my noticer." Is your spouse your noticer? Are you a noticer? If your spouse is not your best friend, what is missing, that one thing, which might turn you two in to best friends? Maybe that key ingredient has missed your notice, up until now? A little perspective is all that's needed to set you into balance. Perhaps you won't believe me, but then you haven't read the book, have you?

    I am a noticer. As a photographer, I notice things, and take pictures of unique things with the slim pocket camera I always carry with me. Sometimes I take photos from my car while moving, opening a side window or the sun roof to shoot the ephemeral scene which will disappear before I can stop, such as two lovers sitting on a unique Live Oak branch as I passed on a kiddie train, but I stop whenever I can to photograph the four babies nutria in the middle of the street, or the red-eared slider scurrying across a lawn, or the red-shouldered hawk eating its squirrel lunch, or a large blooming cactus on top of a mound blocking a closed off street. That cactus is now blooming along the street in front of my house, but it would be withering away in a dump if I hadn't noticed it years ago, and salvaged it when the street was re-opened. Most people drove by and never noticed that cactus. You can see the beautiful cactus blooming in the photo at the top of this Digest.

    Jones is a noticer, the eponymous noticer, and introduces himself that to Andy who is aggravated by Jones's intrusion into his depressed condition in the sandy hole under the pier which he calls home. Jones explains.

    [page 6] "I am a noticer," he said. "It is my gift. While others may be able to sing well or run fast, I notice things that other people overlook. And, you know, most of them are in plain sight." The old man leaned back on his hands and cocked his head. "I notice things about situations and people that produce perspective. That's what most people lack — perspective — a broader view. So I give them that broader view . . . and it allows them to regroup, take a breath, and begin their lives again."

    Did Andy have a perspective of his own? Jones asked him that question. Andy had a curious perspective. "I grew up hearing that old adage about God putting a person after His own heart where He wants him to be. And He puts me under a pier?" (Page 7) Ah, there's the rub! People always claim to have perspective, but their perspective has built-in limitations, even putting chains on God, as Andy did when he met Jones.

    Did Jones argue with Andy, no, he simply left him with three biographies to read, and the next day invites Andy to a feast of Vienna sausages and sardines. Hah! What a feast! It's one I knew well from going fishing with my dad as a child. If the fish were biting and we got hungry, there was the ubiquitous cans of potted meat and Vienna sausages. With the sausages, no bread was needed and you could eat without stopping fishing. Never missed a fish when you were eating Vienna sausages. But a feast? No way. Andy wasn't thrilled, but Jones insisted on having Andy tell him what he was eating. "Vienna sausages and sardines," was all that Andy could come up with. Some lessons arose during their long meeting and then the two men sat on the sand dune over looking the beach and the waves.

    [page 15, 16] For several minutes, we both sat silently, watching the gulls soar overhead, listening to the surf break on the beach. Then Jones began to gather the empty cans and place them in the plastic bag. Standing, he extended his hand and helped me to my feet. "Incidentally," he said with a smile, "you ate sardines and Vienna sausages in the sand. I dined on surf and turf with an ocean view." He slapped me on the back. "It's all about perspective."

    Here's how you can tell where you are: if you slough off this story as some cute little phrase, that's a good sign that you need a bigger perspective in life. Chances are you also have a bumper sticker on your car which says something like: "I'd rather be fishing." or skiing or hiking or duck hunting or doing anything else but what you are doing. But, if you understand how to enjoy where you are to the fullest, every day can be a feast, no matter where you live, work, or eat.

    Again Jones gave Andy three more books to read, all biographies of great leaders, people who had perspective in their lives and how they achieved it. One perspective Jones shared with Andy is why smart people have more problem with fear than dumb people: they are more creative and imaginative. Ah, that one pinned me. I wish I'd had this book in my lap in 1964-65 when I was beset by fears of my own creative imagination. I was even afraid of having low blood pressure. After months of worrying about my doctor's comment, "You have low blood pressure" one day, I finally got up the courage to ask him what that meant. His reply was worthy of Jones, "It means you may be cursed with long life." But that didn't give me perspective because a few weeks later as I was describing my bowel movements to him in detail, he said, "You know, there's no silver standard for that in Paris." My worries and fears were pervasive and they didn't seem to end, only get bigger. I was misusing my creative imagination, as Jones explains to Walker Miles.

    [page 52] "Well, that's why smart people get tripped up with worry and fear. Worry . . . fear . . . is just a misuse of the creative imagination that has been placed in each of us. because we are smart and creative, we imagine all the things that could happen, that might happen, that will happen if this or that happens. See what I mean?"

    For me, I began a program of conditioning thoughts to replace the negative fears with positive expectations and possibilities. Norman Vincent Peale, Don Curtis, and Robert H. Schuller were the Jones in my time of need, when I needed a new perspective and a way out of the fears I had built around me like the carapace of a turtle, out of which I had barely dared to peek, up until then.

    Everyone's heard the old epigram, "For want of a nail, the horse was lost, etc" where the missing nail is traced to the loss of the battle. Well, that actually happened to Napoleon in his great defeat by Wellington. Napoleon was ready to defeat Wellington and his troops quickly broke through Wellington's lines. But the troops had forgotten the nails they were supposed to drive into the touch hole of the cannons when they passed them to render them useless thereafter. After his troops overran Wellington's lines, the British troops re-took their cannons and turned them on the French troops, slaughtering them. Napoleon yelled from the hilltop for his troops to destroy the cannons, to no avail, all for the lack of a nail. This was Jones's perspective for Henry about the big picture: it depends on the tiny brush strokes.

    Henry is a tough case, so Jones asks him a curious question:

    [page 111] "Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many seagulls are left?"

    "Well . . . four."

    "No," Jones responded. "There are still five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things."

    Henry finally walks away from his long interaction with Jones muttering to himself, "Thank you for a man named Jones." Jones came up on folks unexpectedly, folks who were in need and Jones managed to find that need and fill it. If you have no needs in your life today, perhaps it's because your perspective on your life is limited, up until now. What would Jones have to ask you or tell you if he came up to you blocking your car in your driveway as you were backing up to go meet your husband at a restaurant to ask him for a divorce, as he did to Jan? Or if you were the very old widow, Willow Gray, who was planning to commit suicide because she felt her life was over? Or a man of twenty-three like Andy, who was living in a hole in sand under a pier and hadn't a clue as to what happened or how to get out of his predicament?

    There are many stories in this imminently readable book which you will enjoy, but first you must open the book. Then you must open yourself. Look up. Get a new perspective. The best of your life looms ahead of you if you will begin noticing.



    Read the Review at:
    http://www.doyletics.com/arj/thenotic.htm

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    I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.


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    8. COMMENTARY:
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to coverse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.

    1. Padre Filius Passes By a Dry Cleaners Shop this Month:

    Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.

    This month the good Padre reads sign for a Dry Cleaners Shop.


    2.Comments to/from Readers:
    • EMAIL to Karen Essex re Elgin Marbles:
      Dear Karen,

      Attached is photo of me in Parthenon Gallery of the British Museum on Aug 24, 2009. Thanks for chronicling in Stealing Athena the story of these pieces of Greek history which might else have disappeared forever.

      Bobby

      Karen wrote back that "It makes me so happy when somebody reads my book and then goes to see the marbles."

    • EMAIL from grand-daughter, Tiffany:
      She sent photos of our two great-grandsons, Ben and Aven, on their first day of school.

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