Sunday, July 26, 2009

Eclipse by Richard North Patterson

Hi Everyone,

Have you ever read a book that caused you sleepless nights after reading it? Every once in a while I’ll pick up one that has me tossing and turning with thoughts of it piercing my mind.

Just recently, I read Eclipse by Richard North Patterson, one of my favorite authors. His story has been in my head ever sense. Patterson drew me in gently, and then without warning he possessed my mind, pierced my conscience while shattering my heart. This is a story of man’s inhumanity to humanity. This story is about our dependence on oil and the monster it has created because of greed.

It’s about a gentle man who wants peace and environmental rights for his people, and he is willing to stand up for them at the cost of his life and others around him. Eclipse is a sad story, but there is hope in it along with a most certain fatalism.

Even though Eclipse is a work of fiction the origin for this story is Nigeria fifteen years ago when an environmental and human rights activist was hung by a corrupt dictator. The corruption, including oil bunkering, still goes on today in the Niger Delta and the environmental despoliation has continued. Patterson simplified the law for the lay persons like you and me, and it was easy for me to read and understand what went on during that period.

How much blame we must shoulder in the Western hemisphere is up to each individual. Myself, I believe our reliance on oil and all other oil dependent countries have created these fiends. My judgment is we should not buy oil from a country where the people don’t reap the benefits, but a corrupt government does. The ethnic group who lives in the Niger Delta is being murdered on a daily basis. It’s genocide pure and simple, and the land is without any law controlled by the lawless.

There is a love story in this story and Patterson weaves it in magnificently. He is a master storyteller who has managed to weave both fact and fiction throughout Eclipse. I recommend this book to both men and women to read. Just remember you may never get the descriptions out of your mind.

We as a people need to know that the basic human rights that we all take for granted have to be fought for, and if we ever stop fighting for them we’ll lose them. Nigeria is still fighting, but with a corrupt government it is an uphill battle.

After reading Eclipse I felt horrible shame for all we have at the expense of others. Do we really have that right? It’s a good question for all of us to ask of ourselves, but only after reading this story.

This is a thinking person’s book, and it is very worth reading.

Have a great week.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Do You Ever Wish You Could Hibernate?

Hi Everyone,

Sometimes I wish I were a bear and could hibernate three months out of the year. Only, I wouldn’t want to sleep, I would just write and enjoy the scenery.

When I decided to blog, I made a commitment to do it every week, so even though I don’t want to this Sunday I have to honor this obligation. To be honest, I’m just plain tired, and I need a vacation badly.

It seems like everyone wants a piece of your time. This happens to everyone not just to writers. In August, I’m heading for the Rockies, and I’m looking forward to getting away, but will I really be doing that?

I’m visiting family because I promised a great-nephew and great-niece that I would attend their birthday parties this year since I missed them in 2008. It will be great to see my sister and brother-in-law, my nieces and their husbands and all the greats. I love them all and would love to spend longer than a week with them.

Yesterday, my hubby asked me to bring him a glass of iced-tea while I was in the middle of promotional work for my publisher. Should I begrudge him the interruption even though it was the third time he had wanted me to get him something. Well no, the poor man was sweaty from working on my car in the sun on the driveway. He was doing something for me, and I was glad to do it for him, but the interruption still irritated me.

My question this week is where would you go to hibernate if you could?

I would go to the mountains or the ocean and stay holed up for a month to write without interruption. Walking in the mountains or along the ocean would be relaxing and would revive my muse when needed. If I could have both that would be where I would want to be. Spain comes to mind here. Once upon a point of time, hubby and I wanted to buy a place on a cliff that overlooked the ocean. Or maybe it was Portugal. Jamaica and Florida were other places we thought of. It’s been a long time since we had dreams like that.

A couple of months in a condo all alone in New Mexico or Arizona would be nice. Nope, it wouldn’t work. I would worry too much about what was happening at home. I would be calling hubby every day to make sure he was okay and asking about everyone else.

I have to admit I am a very social person, so I cannot see myself staying in any of these places without family or friends I can visit when I want to. Lol But just think of all the writing I could accomplish in a couple of months.

Until next Sunday, have a wonderful week.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Do You Ever Think of the Homeless?

These are the people we see shuffling along the streets with backpacks, standing in doorways out of the rain, wind or snow. We see them under bridges, or standing with a sign on the bridge asking to work for food, or for donations. Who are these people?

Do you shun these people when they come near you to ask for help or to tell you their stories because they are dirty and ill-kept? In the winter time, they have layers of clothing and hover near any place that offers heat.

Do you think they are bums too lazy to work? Or do you think they are alcoholics or druggies trying to get money for their habit. Or do you think they make a living by being a panhandler? Well, in some cases you are right, but they all need help.

I’m passionate on this subject of the homeless. I feel so sad when I see these people on the streets with their backpacks. Many of them are old, or look old. Some are young, and I’ve often wondered why they can’t work.

Who are these homeless people out there? Except for the grace of God it could be you or me. Let me tell you what I know and what I’ve observed.

There are veterans who end up on the street. I read about an air force vet, a pipe fitter for twenty years until he lost his job a few months ago, and then his apartment. An army vet, a construction worker who got hurt and landed on the street while waiting 18 months for Social Security disability to be approved. There are numerous veterans who aren’t getting the help they need every day, and they are ending up on the streets.

The two vets I mentioned above plus others were in Arizona in a homeless shelter. One night someone’s shoes were stolen off their feet while sleeping. After that the vets decided to work together to do something about it, and the theft stopped. That shows you they weren’t worthless, but just men down on their luck.

I know another example of a homeless man, and I was very close to his sister. My friend has a brother who is mentally ill. His family tries to help him, but when he gets off his meds, he wonders off and they will not hear from him for a year or so. Every now and then, he’ll remember them and get in touch. They clean him up and find him a place to live, but he goes off his meds, he takes off. They worry about him out there heaven only knows where, but they can’t make him take his meds.

Even here in Kansas City, we have a multitude of homeless and poor. I help at our church, The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in the downtown area once a month helping to feed the homeless. There are also the poor who come to eat, too, that means they have a place to live, but not always enough money to buy food.

Once again, I ask you who are these people. Read on, and I’ll tell you. A few years, I visited with a lady named Cathy at one of our luncheons, and she told me she had once had a good job with a big company here in our city. I don’t remember the exact circumstances now, but she quit taking the medication she needed, and eventually lost her job and everything she had. She ended up living on the street. I was appalled by what happened to her, and I told several people in the church about her. Eventually, this lady was helped off the street.

This past winter, I started seeing a man whom I just knew that if he was homeless he shouldn’t be. He was dressed as if he was going on a job interview. The man sat alone, and although I tried to strike up a conversation with him going through the line for his food, he kept his head and wouldn’t look at me or answer. I realized it was shame preventing him from looking at anyone, and I wondered what caused his circumstances as I wonder about all of them. This summer, he’s not a loner. There are people he sits with and talks to now.

There have been times when I’ve seen whole families come in to eat at our church. Some are transient, some live out of vehicles, and some may have a home but not enough to eat. Many seniors even if they aren’t homeless, barely have enough to eat, and most of them have to decide if they want to eat or take the medicine they need to live. Some of them end up on the street because they can’t afford the taxes on their homes.

There’s another church close to mine who feeds the homeless Monday through Friday, and there are places like City Union Mission and numerous others where the homeless can get food and even a place to live temporarily. It’s not enough. All of these places are filled and overflowing, and they depend on donations from people like you and me, or businesses.

The Harvesters donate food from their pantry to our church, but this past winter they had none to share with us because there were so many people who needed help. Some of the other businesses around the city chipped in with pizza, chicken nuggets, salad fixings, soup, etc. Because of the economy and loss of jobs, there are more people than ever that need help from organizations like the Salvation Army and food pantries.

I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a fund raiser, but can you imagine how much help $1.00 from everyone who has it could make. People and the organizations who help them need our help.

Thanks for reading my blog. I could say more, but I’ll leave it for another day.

Until next week,


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth of July

Hi everyone,

I hope everyone had a happy July 4th. When I was a little girl I loved Independence Day for so many reasons. We had a picnic, sparklers (so pretty), firecrackers (that was and is a boy thing), brightly colored bottle rockets, and homemade ice cream.

How many of you remember homemade ice cream? A show of hands everyone. Ah, these store bought brands can never compare to what we used to have. I remember begging and getting to help make the ice cream. For that reason alone, I loved summer, but there were many other reasons for doing so, and the fourth of July was one of them.

When I was a kid, we usually celebrated July 4th at Uncle Ray’s where we always had fireworks after dark. They lived out in the country, so the display was quite magnificent. I can remember times when we went to Great-Uncle Bud’s house for the 4th. On those times, he would take us for a ride on his tractor out in the fields. Those were simple pleasures, but they were still wonderful.

After we had our fireworks at home, we often went to Lawrence for the display offered for everyone to see on the Kansas University campus. Some kids were scared of the noise and lights, but others like me were awed.

What did you do this year for the 4th? My hubby and I started with breakfast at the American Legion, and then I went to our church to help make food and feed the homeless. After that, I stayed inside away from the humidity, the fireworks and heat. Lol

Okay, time for a brief history lesson since it’s a sad fact that many don’t know why we celebrate the 4th. July 4, 1776 is the date that we celebrate the birth of our independence from Great Britain.

Our forefathers risked their lives to sign the Declaration of Independence. Great Britain was sovereign over our colonies and those men could have been tried for treason. This decree stands for all the things we believe in, freedoms of religion, without persecution and with the ability to think and do for oneself.

At this time, I stand and give a grand salute to our men and women of the military who are still fighting for all our freedoms. Thank you. Thank you. God Bless them and their families.

Until next Sunday, have a great week.