Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year - Intell story on New Year Resolutions - Onion soup

The author relaxes in her kitchen after a day of heavy reading. She discovers that when you lie for hours in bed and read, it makes you sleepy.

Scott has a derrible cold. He loved my tasteless onion soup. All he could taste was the cinnamon stick I seasoned it with.

Why no flavor? Possibly the yellow onions had little flavor. Next time I'll use a purple onion

Finished my first Robert Crais crime thriller. His main character is Joe Pike. Joe works with Elvis Cole.

  Written in 2010, it was extremely violent. Dunno if I'd read another one.

For our book club, I tried to see if I could get hooked on

And I did.

While I lay in bed reading....

there were so many things I wanted to goggle including the author of Orphan Train, but I forced myself to lie there and read.

Dan sent me this story from Narratively called Brazil's Secret History of Southern Hospitality. Great writing.

Where'd you find it? I asked him.

On Reddit.

I started a new short story this morning. I told the idea to Ed Quinn, when he called me from Boston. As soon as he called, I knew we would talk awhile, so I quickly got on the bike.

It's so quiet you can't hear it.

When I lived at Village Green Apartments, I lived next door to a very unhappy woman I'm calling "Jeanine." She was friends with Winnie, who lived downstairs. I blogged about Winnie here. She's a super human being, who must have cancer surgery every few months to remove the fast-growing cells.

One of the best interviews I've ever seen on Charlie Rose was with - and stop interrupting Charlie! - was a Russian oligarch imprisoned by Putin for 10 years. This Jewish-born oil billionaire is now free and living with his family in Germany.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was born in Moscow in 1963. He's 51. Read him on Wiki.

10 Resolutions for a Better Life in 2015 (Great title, Alan Kerr!)

By Ruth Z. Deming
Here’s an idea for the new year: Make some resolutions and stick to them.

1. Do not be judgmental. You have no idea what the person you are judging has experienced. Years ago, a friend of mine sat next to a man on the subway. His children were running wild. Turns out, they had just visited their mother in the hospital, where, sadly, she had lost her battle with cancer.

2. Be charitable. Of all the countries in the world, America is the most generous. So, if you have an affinity for a particular cause — social justice or nature, for example — give generously. Also, be generous with your time.

3. Take a risk and do something new. How about inviting people over for dinner? When they arrive, make sure the TV is turned off, as well as the smart phones. Pair up your company at the dinner table the way you would your salmon with asparagus. To make it easier, ask each guest to bring a side dish.

4. Practice tolerance and understanding. America may be a melting pot, but prejudice seems stronger than ever. We look down on Republicans, Democrats, Catholics, Jews and Muslims. We’re prejudiced against the wealthy and against the poor. And whose head doesn’t turn when we see an obese individual? Yet I wonder if anyone has a beef with the moon and the stars and the sun?

5. Realize that those of us with a mental illness are the same as you. Yet for some unknown reason, we have a quirk in our brains that causes us much grief.

When I was 38, I bore the usual prejudice against people with mental illness. What I knew of “them” was what my two young children and I watched on television: their occasional crimes, sleeping on park benches, the problem of homelessness.

In an ironic twist, I myself became mentally ill, diagnosed with bipolar disorder or intense mood swings. It became incumbent upon me to respect myself again. It did take a while. I practiced empathy and compassion and now think of those with mental illness as my true compatriots.

6. Eat dinner with your entire family. The dining room table, whether you live in a mansion or a trailer, is where children learn the values and habits of their parents and grandparents. These will last a lifetime.
Have you watched the TV series “Blue Bloods”? Tom Selleck and his family of cops and lawyers always eat together.

7. Get to know your neighbors. The bigger the house, the less likely it is you know who they are. Garbage night or walking the dog are perfect opportunities to interact. The other night I said to a man six doors down, “I love your Christmas decoration of Santa on a motorcycle.”

8. Visit relatives or friends residing in assisted-living facilities. And bring your children. Whether they live at Rydal Park or Ann’s Choice, our elders appreciate the thoughtfulness of a visit. And children brighten their lives. Children need to learn what happens to older people. We segregate them, since it’s often too difficult to care for them at home.

Also, don’t urge your elderly parent to move into a facility if they don’t wish to. My mom is 92 and we all care for her in the home she loves so much.

9. Perform random acts of kindness. I went on a walk with Lauren Steele, who works for Pennypack Trust in Huntingdon Valley. We were downtown and she pulled out a plastic bag from her pocketbook. Into the bag she deposited litter that was a blot on the landscape. What an inspiration!

10. Mail out holiday cards. If you’re like me, you have dozens upon dozens of free cards sent out by various organizations. Write thoughtful notes to people, thanking them for helping you throughout the year. We all need reinforcement that the kind things we do for others really matter. And sign your card with the most powerful word on the planet: love.

Look what I received in the mail yesterday. A calendar from Boys' Town.

Unsolicited. And absolutely beautiful.

Will bring it to my Writers' Group on Saturday and see if anyone wants it.

Am gonna write Alan Kerr a note thanking him for using my story and giving it a great title.

I have two phone lines at my house. In the basement is the New Directions line. A woman left me a message about my 10 Resolutions above.

I wrote her a rebuttal which I was gonna send to the Intel, but everyone - Marcy, Ada, Scott - told me not to dignify her with an answer.

          An anonymous woman left a message on my answering machine about my guest column on New Year’s Resolutions (Jan. 1). She was irate about my 10th and last one: mail out holiday cards, since we get dozens of them for free in the mail. By my using them, she said I was “stealing” since I hadn’t paid for them. 

At least 20 unsolicited packets of cards and calendars arrive in my mailbox. While many go in the trash, I am happy to recycle them. These nonprofits send out thousands of mailings, knowing that the law of averages will bring them the donations they need.

She also took me to task for saying I received “holiday cards,” insisting they were Christmas cards. Has the woman been to my house? Has she peered over my shoulder? Many of the beautiful cards did indeed say “Happy Holidays.” These go out to my Jewish family and friends. The anonymous woman would do well to learn “The Four Agreements:” Be impeccable with your word, don’t take things personally, always do your best and don’t make assumptions. 


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