Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: Books (page 1 of 4)

Supposed 2

I was supposed to do many things in my life that I never did: to sign with a major record label like 36 years ago but I got a major flat tire along the way, to listen to the music my 3 daughters grew up with to understand where they were coming from
(obviously trying to sniff out signs of devil worship, anarchy and drug abuse),
to write books like  ‘Dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease’, ‘Moving your parents’, ‘Cooking with the Sneaker’, ‘Starting a blog’, ‘Starting a coal fire’ and on and on.

I was supposed to do so many things.
I did not do any of them.
Life comes stomping in and tells you what you need to do.
Or else.
Your life plans are always somewhat temporary, truth be told.
End of story.
You can heed the call or as Fleetwood Mac says, ‘you can go your own way’.
Stevie Ray Vaughn was supposed to live until he was 101, just like Robin Williams, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, Len Bias, Bill Evans, Hendrix, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and the list goes on and on ad nauseum.
I’m writing tonight, so in a small way I’ll consider that a victory.
I’m supposed to write every day.
Do I write every day?
No, I don’t.
Maybe it has something to do with the way my stars are aligned or the fact that I have tomatoes to plant or a client that I have to visit, or a meal that must be made for a special occasion, a song to be learned, a call to be made, an email to be sent, a scratch to be itched, a broken heart to be healed.
I’m never going to figure this thing out so for now I’m just going to take it slow.
One day (stone) at a time.
In writing terms, the ever eloquent Stephen King said it best:

“When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: One stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.”

Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it.
Tomorrow is another day.
Another chance to just do good.
Maybe I’m supposed to be blessed enough to open my eyes in the morning and see sunshine glowing from inside the dewdrops of moisture on the shamrock green of my lawn.
Maybe I’m supposed to try and make people believe my lawn is actually shamrock green.
Yeah, that’s a definite ‘maybe’ . . .

For the Love of Books

A long time blogging friend posted this video on my Facebook Timeline tonight.
This video is over 15 minutes long but it makes a serious statement regarding the media we use on a daily basis.
I love my Kindle and my Iphone but there is something very personal about a book.
I dedicate this post to my 3 amazing daughters who have a love of books and reading that makes me proud.
I like to think Pamela and I had something to do with that love of the page.
Please, please, please take the time and watch this video.
I know. 15 minutes is a long time.
Think of how much time you spend with a book.
Think of the feel and smell of a book.
Visit my friend Ang @ Don’t Put Boogers in your neighbors Cereal
She is a grade school teacher with some amazing (and hysterical) insight into the life of her students and their growing little minds.
This video moved me in many ways as a lover of books.
I hope they never go away.
Books rule.


Hope for Helpers

Back in September I got an email from Sandra Byrd regarding a short book written by her husband,
Chaplain Michael Byrd called, “Hope for Helpers”, a book for caregivers of Alzheimer victims.
Sandra had obviously read my blog and knew that I had already been through the maze of Dementia/Alzheimers.
She asked if I would be willing to read Michael’s book and do a short review on my blog as to my thoughts
about it.
I must apologize in advance to Michael and Sandra because it’s taken me so long to post a review as
they were gracious enough to send me a Kindle copy gratis.

The book is broken down into five sections:

  1. Caring for Loved Ones without Falling to Pieces
  2. Appreciating the Rough
  3. Finding the “I” in Careg-I-ving
  4. Am I Lying
  5. Placing Your Loved Ones in a Care Facility

The first thing I noticed when I started HFH was the obvious compassion, knowledge and understanding Michael had of the disease.
I remember thinking how much this book would have helped me when I first shook hands with Alzheimers so many years ago.
My mother was diagnosed in 1997, my father shortly after around 1999.
I was lost in a New England cornfield maze with no cell phone and no clue as to how I could possibly get out.
Much of HFH addresses issues such as these that the caregiver goes through on a seemingly daily basis.
Although I knew many of the answers that the book’s questions proposed, I had to wonder how many
people in the world didn’t.
This book contained answers to many deep questions.
HFH strongly suggests that the caregiver look towards brighter shores, in terms of the self.
Paraphrasing the author, “Take care of yourself if you are to be of any use to your loved one.”
Many people told me that years ago but I didn’t know exactly what they meant.
But now I do.
HFH emphasizes that very point.
If you have a friend, relative, mother, father, sister, brother diagnosed with this most insidious of diseases,
download this book and lay your problems down in a way that will not only benefit your loved one but
give something back to you.
Many people reviewing it  have said, “I wish this book was around 15 years ago.”
Stop wishing.
It’s here now.
This book will ease your burden and show you what’s ultimately important in caring for a loved one.
In the end, it’s all about love.
For the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee this Kindle book is yours for the asking.
And it’s worth much more than a cup of coffee.
Trust me . . .


[Want a copy? Click on the picture above]

Protected: Reunion

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Kindle Me

Kindle, ereader,

It’s very difficult to stay away from my little place of comfort but I wanted to
update the blog a bit.
I’m tired of looking at the ‘Closed for Winter’ picture in my previous post.
Since I last posted many things have happened
I got a 3G Kindle for my birthday (thanks to all that conspired on the Amazon gift cards!)
and I haven’t stopped reading.
I looooove it.
(‘love’ just didn’t have enough ‘O’s in it)
Can you read too much?
I don’t think so.
I have been writing but still not enough for me.
Gotta work on that.
And I am.
I am also now a member of a writing group in Boston.
We write, critique, laugh, talk about writing and drink funky smoothies in Davis Square, Cambridge.
It’s taken me a long, long time to join a writer’s group and this one is looking very promising.
I will hopefully get some honest opinions on my writing which is ultimately the reason I joined a group.
I posted tonight because I had close to 20 spam comments that went into moderation when they should
have been clobbered by Akismet.
Turns out my plugins needed some serious updating.
It’s all good now but I wanted to check in anyway.
God, I miss this place.
Thanks for still visiting me and I promise to at least post an update or two from time to time.
Until the next time,
Be safe, be well, be happy . . .


The Memory Palace

Now and then someone comes into your life and changes it.
They improve and inspire it, smoothing out the rough edges and pushing you towards
your own personal creative and artistic dreams.
For me, the writer, I have been blessed to have met Mira Bartok, a gifted artist, musician and writer.
How we met is a long story and not fodder for this particular post.
Mira has a memoir coming out this January [1.11.11] called, The Memory Palace‘,
a story about growing up with a gifted, incredibly talented but schizophrenic mother.
I was honored that Mira sent me an ARC [advanced reader copy] of the book
which I devoured in less than a week.
Mira’s words and images took me on a journey I won’t soon forget.
For me, the memoir confirmed the idea and thought that, ‘Love conquers all.’
I refuse to give anything away except to say that this book literally took my breath away.
It’s about love and forgiveness, music and art, memory and the present tense, home and the homeless.
This book changed the way I feel about the many panhandlers I walk by every day in Boston,
a city filled with sad stories and sadder characters.
Watch the promo trailer and please, please, please leave a comment.
If you could pass the Youtube link on to several friends, I would be forever grateful.
When someone does something wonderful for my writing and creative life, I need to return the favor.
This book is incredible, as is Mira . . .
[and her husband, my dear friend and multi-talented colleague Doug Plavin]
just watch . . .

Malarky Monday 25.5

It is once again Malarky Monday and time to get your freak on.
By now I think you’ve got the general idea.
Take a gander at my findings for the week and stroll on over to my other
freaky-deakies to see what they’ve found for the week.
Mondays will never be the same!!!

Please visit:




This week I am going low-tech.
No mind blowing science stuff here.
Read on, you’ll see . . .

Three women in a sauna
Three women, two younger and one senior citizen, were sitting naked in a sauna.
Suddenly there was a beeping sound.
The young woman pressed her forearm and the beep stopped.
The others looked at her questioningly.
“That was my pager,” she said, “I have a microchip under the skin of my arm.”

A few minutes later, a phone rang.
The second young woman lifted her palm to her ear.
When she finished, she explained, “That was my mobile phone. I have a microchip in my hand.”

The older woman felt very low-tech.
Not to be out done, she decided she had to do something as impressive.
She stepped out of the sauna and went to the bathroom.
She returned with a piece of toilet paper hanging from her rear end.
The two young women raised their eyebrows and stared at her.
The older woman finally said, “Well, will you look at that. I’m getting a fax!”
{*rimshot/cymbal crash}

Everyone has heard of Guitar Hero, right?
Hi-tech game stuff, software, hardware . . .  yeech.
Here’s something that’s down several notches for those not quite
hip enough to handle the guitar thing . . .

(cue up ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon’ please . . . )

Last but certainly not least is a little video that addresses an issue
from days of long, long ag0.
Before IT Support there may have been something called the Medieval HelpDesk.
This was just too funny and fit perfectly with my luddite-themed post.

Happy Malarky Monday!

Get it right next time

A dear friend of mine died last Sunday.
I just found out about it today.
Ironic that I was looking for something in my closet just the other day and
looked up on my bookshelf to see my old copy of
“Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”,
the cult novel by Robert Persig.
Its pink and black cover reeking ‘classic lit’.
Rod had given it to me many years ago during one of my visits to see him.
I thought, “I should really call him one of these days.”
Looks like I waited a bit too long.
His last words were supposedly, “With a little more time, I would’ve gotten it right!”
You were wrong, HRB.
You got it right this time, from where I’m standing.
Although there are no calling hours I thought some music would be appropriate.
He loved music.
This is your swan song, my dear friend.
I will miss you.


Out on the street I was talkin’ to a man
He said “there’s so much of this life of mine that I don’t understand”
You shouldn’t worry yes that ain’t no crime
Cause if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time (next time).

You need direction, yeah you need a name
When you’re standing in the crossroads every highway looks the same
After a while you can recognize the signs
So if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time (next time).

Life is a liar yeah life is a cheat
It’ll lead you on and pull the ground from underneath your feet
No use complainin’, don’t you worry, don’t you whine
Cause if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time (next time).

You gotta grow, you gotta learn by your mistakes
You gotta die a little everyday just to try to stay awake
When you believe there’s no mountain you can climb
And if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time (next time).

“Get it right next time” by Gerry Rafferty


Reading ‘Carver‘ right now.
You will spend 20 minutes of your life and thank me.
This is one of Carver’s most amazing short stories.
Please take the time and read it.
The man was amazing.
Simply amazing . . .



Writer reading.
It is winter and a time of introspection and reflection.
I am in the midst of a badly needed reading spree.

On the list?

*Just finished: Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story
by Wally Lamb (Christmas gift from my girls. It was hysterical)

*Next: Raymond Carver: ‘A Writer’s Life’
by Carol Sklenicka (this years birthday gift from Pamela. I love Carver. Always have.)

*Next: (finishing)  The Hour I First Believed
by Wally Lamb (should have finished this long ago)

*Next: A Confederacy of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole
(a used book from Hyannis, Cape Cod, July 2009, remember, Moe?)

*Next: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz
(always wanted to read this)

Is this a wish list?
I have every book on the list (except for the Diaz which I plan on getting sometime tomorrow)

There’s more after that but I’m thinking that’s a pretty good start. Yes?
Might be a bit quieter than usual around here but hey, it’s winter.
Time to chill out.
And definitely time to read . . .


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