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Eight more days ’til Christmas and the only one that thinks that’s too long is Kiernan. I guess when you’re six, the time before the Yule does drag a bit.

The Magic Panacea

We had John’s birthday dinner last night, and a little family talk before and after. Robin had a conference with Kiernan’s teacher, who said what all teachers of ‘different’ children say: “she needs to be medicated”. I think Kiernan is very bright (don’t all grandma’s think so?) and gets bored in a regular classroom with 24 kids. All roads point to very small class private school, but there’s a process to get there, I’m told. The child has to suffer first and then – and only then – can deliverance come in the form of individualized education. Just because children are chronologically the same doesn’t mean they are – the same.

Kiernan does well in math, but stinks at reading. That’s the exact opposite of her mother and aunt’s tendencies. They were right brained; she’s left brained, just like her dad. He hates reading too, so he helps her with her math. I find Kiernan receives information much better aurally than visually. She says the letters jump around in front of her eyes, but if she hears a story, she can practically repeat it verbatim. What does that say about her situation? I think she needs the equivalent of books for blind children, to help her see the words as a whole, rather than sounding it out. She seems to have no capacity for sounding out. That technique makes no sense to her at all. So I’ll be looking at the library for science-based books that talk to her. I believe the answer to correct this deficiency is repetition, repetition, repetition!

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated in solving this conundrum. Hyperactive, my patoot. She’s bored! The problem is not the child, it’s the system that expects uniformity based on age. Silly system.

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It’s Monday, the week before Christmas. We decorated the tree yesterday, and managed to get it done without drama. I’m working on patience with these kinds of activities, recognizing that Christmas is for young children. It is not a list of chores to be got through. Therapy and Clemmie are working on me to be a better mother and grandmother. About time, eh?

Today is brother John’s birthday – he is 67 today, which means next month I will be seventy. Doesn’t seventy sound oh so much older than 69? I know, not really..it’s just a number. Based on good genes and sticking with the gym, I intend to be around for a while..so much left to learn. So Happy Birthday, brother! I’ll bake you a lemon cake to celebrate your 67 years on this earth.

It feels odd not having a writing assignment every day, other than this blog. I am still like a mule in harness..gotta pull the load and go somewhere. But book 5 of the series is done and ready for publication on Christmas day, as previously mentioned. Then I’ll simultaneously work on the new Trumpet project and finish up the Algorithmic Brain. Just waiting for a book from the library that I put on hold to start things off with the trumpet project. Any suggestions of superb trumpeters would be appreciated.

Also working on getting my sinus issue resolved..went to Jupiter Medical Center Urgent Care to get an antibiotic to clear up the infection I’ve probably had for a couple of years! Now I just have to let my system recover from years of Flonase and Xyrtec. Gonna try my friend Bobbi’s suggestion of Simply Saline as a daily therapeutic. Getting tired of waking up every morning with a headache.

That’s all for the moment…enjoy your week.

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Three hundred twenty five more days until the 2020 election, and things just keep getting more dismal. After watching the 60 minutes of the PBS Newshour last night, I turned to Erik and said, “Every one of those stories was depressing. Is there no hope?”

Not on that front, anyway. So what to do in time fraught with misery and dismay? Focus on what’s important to you. Today, Robin, Colter, Kiernan and I went to Home Depot to find the perfect Christmas tree. We’re pretty happy with the one we selected, even tho’ we had to go to two different stores to find it. Now Erik and Colter are putting up the Christmas lights on the from eave of the house. We bought two light up reindeer, and ordered a sleigh/reindeer combination. It should be here some time next week.

Decorating for Christmas; planning the Christmas menu to share with family and friends – what could be better? Nothing. Give it a try.

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So have you noticed that the closer we get to impeachment votes, the crazier everyone gets? Is this the end of the world, people? I don’t think so. We know how all this will end, so why the drama? It reminds me of that video where all the North Koreans are wading into the water, chasing after Kim Jong Un, or the young’un as I call him..they are trying to show how much they adore this crazy dude in order not to be sent to a re-education camp. It’s the same way with Republicans..a question of fealty to Tsar Donald. It’d be sickening, if it weren’t so ludicrous. I feel the bad karma building for all of them – when it arrives…damn!

But that’s not what I came to talk about – I want to talk about exercise. I started doing Silver Sneakers when we lived in Vero, and learned to sort of like it .. nah, that’s a lie..I learned to recognize it’s good for me, but I will never like it. What I don’t like – beyond just about everything else – is falling down and becoming incapacitated. So Silver Sneakers is my method for trying to stay upright.

Robin & Colter at the Spartan Race

Then there’s my daughter Robin and her husband Colter and granddaughter Kiernan. They all participate in radical sports events – like the Savage Race and the Spartan Race. Here Robin and Colter are participating in the Spartan last weekend. Do you see the look on their faces? Yes, they look happy! I don’t think I will ever achieve that level of happiness with Silver Sneakers. But if it keeps me vertical – that’s good enough.

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Wow – haven’t written since the 1st. Been busy finishing up book 5 and I was ill with a sinus infection and upset stomach the last few days. I know – no excuses! Well, I’m back.

The impeachment is well underway with all the sturm und drang that accompanies such political theatre. Everyone is playing to their constituencies, who are either filled with indignation (the R’s) or indignation (ha ha – D’s). Geez, will it ever end? It seems like we’re spawning investigations to investigate the investigations that investigated the investigations. Stop – enough already!

A bunch has happened in the past twelve days, but y’all already know about it, so let’s talk about something different. Book 5 will be out on Christmas Day, and there’s some method to my madness. Christmas is about the birth in Bethlehem of a Jewish baby boy from Nazareth named Jesus. His 33 year life spawned a religion that claims 2.4 billion followers, at the moment, the largest group of faithfuls, followed close behind by members of Islam at 1.9 million. Islam is growing faster than Christianity, so it may catch up some time in the future. I used quotes from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita for Book 5, as the two Bible testaments and the Koran were used in Books 1-4. I thought the Hindu book appropriate as the title involved Karma. The last quote is from a book about the Hopi prophecy of the demise of America.

So what have I been working up to? Once you’ve read book 5, you’ll have a sense of it. And, beginning in the spring, I will write a sequel that will involve many of the characters left over from the first series. It will pick up where Book 5 leaves off, so no need to be discouraged, as Mathew indicates. Life will go on.

Clemmie with his trumpet

In the meantime, my assignment from Clemmie is to find everything there is to know about trumpeting; the history, mathematics of the acoustics, and techniques; then match all that up with samples of outstanding trumpet solos – all in video format. Sound like a challenge? I think so too. We’ll see how it ends up. Always good to learn something new, eh?

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Thanksgiving was lovely; the food was great; the company was marvelous. What can I say? A good time was had by all.

But is it now time to get back to the real world? Must I? Aw gee, living in holiday mode is nice..just requires running the dishwasher more than normal.

Okay, back to the real world. Let’s talk about guns. I could post all the statistics about how much greater gun violence is in the US… okay, I will post them, if you insist.

Nope – changed my mind. If you look at statistics, they are all over the map, and most are misleading. But looking at CDC data, it’s clear that most deaths from guns in this country aren’t from mass shootings, they’re from suicide. OK, now we have that out of the way.

The AR-15 originally made by the Armalite Corporation

My family has always been involved with guns and shooting. It was my grandfather’s pet project to teach people how to safely use guns. The NRA of today would appall him. But here’s the thing – and what I want to really talk about – there are some guns that just don’t belong in the hands of regular citizens. They belong in the hands of soldiers fighting in wars. The AR-15 comes to mind, because it seems to be the weapon of choice for mass murderers. Should civilians have access to what knowledgeable people call “a perfect killing machine”? I think not.

James Fallows wrote a most interesting piece in The Atlantic about a decade ago about the AR-15. That’s where the perfect killing machine quote came from. It was the weapon used by special forces in the early days of the war in Viet Nam, and the soldiers loved it. Sadly, army bureaucracy did not. Mostly through custom rather than graft, they totally bolloxed up this weapon and it became that most-hated rifle, the M-16, which tended to jam in the heat of battle. Per the article, many soldiers died with a jammed M-16 in their hand. But AR-15’s are still around and here’s my point: I can buy one online for less than $700, ready to fire lethal bullets at a host of individuals, should I so desire. They can ship anywhere – except California. Hooray for California for at least attempting to put some sanity into this madness. So the army changed a perfect killing machine into one that malfunctioned and led to the death of many American GIs in Viet Nam. Isn’t it ironic? Mass murderers get the good stuff; guys sanctioned to kill get the garbage.

So what’s the answer? Stop online sales of perfect killing machines. Teach children gun safety. Develop and utilize better ways to keep people from killing themselves with guns. Then maybe the stats will look better, and the opponents of gun control can stop putting useless comparisons out to confuse people into inaction. That’s about it.

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Happy Thanksgiving. May all your dishes come out tasty and at the right time. May the table be set by someone else, while you’re trying to get the smoke out of the kitchen from stuff dripping down in the oven. May you have a glass of wine and not care one way or the other .. you did your best. Love your children and grandchildren so much they never doubt you.

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. That makes today the day to eviscerate the turkey, in preparation for the Julia Child method of cooking. Last year, I had to get Colter to do the deed, because I managed to cut my finger using the mandolin slicer to make pickles. Sadly, the bird was still frozen, which made the surgery rather difficult. We captured it all on video, including the cheerful (more or less) banter about the task. This year, no pieces of finger went into the slicer, so I’m on my own to perform the delicate task of cutting and deboning.

Colter lit the baby green (red) egg charcoal ceramic cooker to make sure it was going to work for cooking the lamb. It got up to 450 degrees in rather short order, so we have to adjust the amount of charcoal to keep it at 350. I like to season the lamb with garlic and rosemary; then instead of mint jelly (who ever came up with that incredibly stupid idea), I like to use horseradish sauce or chutney – or both! You still get the flavor of the lamb, but with a little kick from the horseradish or a savory taste from the chutney.

Kiernan’s Sand Art

Today will be devoted to making a cheesecake, an apple galette and tonight, two pumpkin pies, one for Erik and one for everybody else. We got into a cleaning frenzy yesterday, with everyone helping except Kiernan, who hates to clean her room. She’d rather be making her art – or playing Minecraft and making puppies and horses for her houses. I can’t say I blame her – wouldn’t you rather be playing than cleaning? Yup – thought so.

We expect 16 for dinner, so it’ll be a houseful for sure. But I say, the more the merrier – love to catch up with kin I haven’t seen in a while – or talk with new guests I’ve not met before. It’ll be exhausting, but great!

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Two more days ’til Thanksgiving, and I actually succeeded in making creme fraiche. That is always an iffy proposition; sometimes it works very well; often it does not turn into anything but the sour milk it started out life as. But I love creme fraiche on apple pie, so that will be a plus for the meal.

Amidst cleaning house and preparing pickles and pickled onions (oughta be good as a side for the leg of lamb), I’ve been thinking about where to go from here in my writing. I guess I mentioned this before, but in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have to commit to something. I tried going back to my original three part opus called Matryoshka – just to put it in book form to get it published. But you can’t go backward in writing, I find. The dialogue is stilted and just downright annoying. So I’m considering picking up The Algorithmic Brain – a story about a very lifelike android that gets his inventor in trouble by his actions. I got stuck when I had to write a sex scene for that one, and I was having some trouble doing that; I was concerned about my granddaughter reading it and going, GRAAMMMAA! (Trying to imitate her voice). But she’s 16 now, so she probably knows more about the topic now that I do. I might just give that one a go.

So, dear readers, want to weigh in on this? The outline for The Algorithmic Brain is here on the blog, and the finished product (all three parts) is here for Matryoshka. Give me some feedback on which way to go!

Later..gotta go mop the kitchen floor.

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May I recommend a book? The Condition of Man, by Lewis Mumford. Published in 1944, with a new preface in 1972, he has become a source of knowledge and inspiration to me.

Mumford referred to himself as a social diagnostician. That conjures up images of doctors and machinery. But he is the diametric opposite of that. He takes us back ten steps to see history, politics and culture from a deeper and broader perspective.

But don’t take my advice if you work full time and come home to have domestic chores. It’ll just be annoying that you can’t find the time to savor the book’s complex wisdom. Don’t read it if you want easy answers to life’s hard questions. This is no I’m OK, You’re OK. Finally, don’t read this if you’re a cock-eyed optimist. You’d likely be offended by his perspective on this modern life.

So check it out – then, when you’ve absorbed all the wisdom Mumford has to offer in these books, check out The Myth of the Machine, Volumes I and II. That’s his recommendation – not mine. I haven’t even begun to absorb all the wisdom from TCOM. All I know is, when I write about the dissolution of America, coming up in Book 5 of the Suffer the Children series, the origins of the knowledge were greatly influenced by Mumford in this book. So…take the plunge and find it, probably used on Amazon in paperback for a couple bucks. It’ll be an eye-opener.