Freedom Of Speech, Until…

You never know who is reading you. Something I wrote about the Catskills a couple of years back attracted a response from a Turkish woman. She wrote to me that she knew the area well: she had attended (of all places) the State University of New York at Binghamton!

We had a laugh. She had also left the US recently and was living once again in Istanbul, but remained interested in south-central New York state, where Binghamton is located, in particular. Occasionally, she’d ask me about the snow and frigid temperatures – she didn’t miss either in Istanbul! she always said – and inquired harmlessly about other aspects of life thereabouts. She also knew I-84 pretty well, and we’d joked about that “endless” and “dull” highway.

Free Stock Photo: Flag of Turkey.
Free Stock Photo: Flag of Turkey.

We ended up following each other on Twitter. She tweeted mostly in Turkish, which left me mostly at a loss. But she did offer an occasional observation in English and/or a link to something in English; usually it was innocuous and apolitical. Often what she shared was humorous.

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To “The Honorable Ezekiel Gilbert”

Yesterday’s post was depressing. The present day isn’t exactly doing it for me lately. I thought let’s have a retreat to the past for this one….

Main entrance. George Washington's Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
Main entrance. George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
But naturally there were troubles back then, too. Moreover when it came to communicating with our representatives back in the U.S. as to what we abroad were witnessing, there wasn’t even email! And we definitely couldn’t “@” them on Twitter!

We would have sat down and composed an ink-splotted letter by candlelight that we hoped might get to its destination in two or three months if we were lucky….

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Chapel In The Woods

A few miles from our house, stands this. I drove over there on Tuesday and had a walk around it. At the time, I was the only one there:

Sign for St. Joseph's Chapel, on Route 23, Ashland, Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Sign for St. Joseph’s Chapel, on Route 23, Ashland, Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

I’d been to it several times before. We even went to a Mass there several years ago. One is held there one day every year.

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“Remove your hands from my wife….”

If I have some “overarching theme” to my novels, I admit it’s that I wish everyone, all of us, always could somehow manage to be on “the same side.” I know that’s wishful thinking. But it’s a hope nevertheless.

What’s writing for if not for occasionally wishful thinking?

A view down to the Batavia Kill, Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]
A view down to the Batavia Kill, Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Yesterday, after having been out and about, and alone here at the house in the Catskills, I decided to tackle a bit more writing. Other than dipping into the net now and then, and Twitter, I’ve read little news in recent days. (There’s no television currently working in the house.) This morning, I had another post all ready, when it hit me as to what I’d been working on yesterday and how it could be “seen” in 2016.

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“Absolutely, Tom Cruise would be perfect!”

Tom Cruise playing the “Jack Reacher” character infuriated many devoted readers of the book series. I know about this mostly based on what I’ve read about the controversy. Also my wife loves those novels, and she explained why he wouldn’t have been her “first choice” for “Reacher” when she’d read initially that it was to be Mr. Cruise in the role.

The biggest (no pun intended) complaint regularly seen is that the relatively diminutive real-life Mr. Cruise in no way resembles “Reacher.” The character is apparently nearly 7 ft tall and consists of pure muscle. Some on “social media” were quick to point that out:

Screen capture of Facebook.
Screen capture of Facebook.

Yet in fairness to any filmmaker, casting a “superman” is always a challenge. When a fictional character is outlandish, trying to locate a human actor who largely resembles him/her on the pages, let alone one who can also ACT well enough, is naturally not easy. Making that task even tougher is when it’s also supposed to be the STAR of the potential film, for it’s then suddenly necessary also to try to find one from among a very small pool of actor possibilities who will hopefully also FILL cinemas.

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Our Catskills Oasis (Except For That Porcupine)

Hello again! I know in the last few days I’ve popped my head up only a couple of times over on Instagram and Twitter. Sorry no new posts on here (until now). Since I’m in the Catskills just a short time before I have to drive back down to my dad’s in Pennsylvania, I’ve been running around doing “stuff.”

And “stuff” needs doing. Yes, our house here is fine. Well, it’s mostly fine:

What porcupines can do. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]
When a porcupine is interested in your sliding door. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

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Great For The Writer, Not So Much For The Human Being

I’m going to the U.S. next week for a ten day visit. Yes, I’ll make sure the house in the Catskills is still standing. Fortunately, we know it is: a helpful friend nearby keeps an eye on it for us.

View of Windham Mountain, upstate New York, March 2016. [Photo by me.]
View of Windham Mountain, upstate New York, March 2016. [Photo by me.]

In any other year, I wouldn’t be going right now without my wife. The true reason I have to is because I want to spend some time with my father in Pennsylvania, who has a birthday while I’m there. It’s his first since my mother’s death in October.

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“Spectacular” Teide

“This is great, nephew,” my uncle remarked as he looked out a window at Windham Mountain a few miles away. “I’ve never been up here [to Windham]. The views. Wow. It’s spectacular. Just spectacular.”

My (now late) uncle had owned a small place in the Catskills in the 1960s and early 1970s. However, he hadn’t been back to the upstate New York region for a couple of decades. After finding his way finally (after getting lost) to our house near Windham in 2011 on what turned out to be his only visit to it, hearing that his second wife (not my Italian-German aunt I’d known all my life as “my aunt,” which is decidedly another story) observed playfully, “That’s been the word of the day: Spectacular. Everything’s ‘spectacular.’ He’s been saying that the entire last part of the drive up here.”

Over the weekend here in the Canary Islands, we stumbled on a coach tour on the net. It would pick us up at a nearby hotel and take us up to Teide National Park for the evening – to see the volcanic, highest mountain, in Spain. It included dinner and drinks (the latter particularly always welcome!) and finished with some stargazing.

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“So, what’s your book about?”

Every novelist has to expect to be asked for the dreaded “blurb.” So you always need a few sentences ready. I think this explanation of Conventions: The Garden At Paris, which I’m busily writing, sums it up reasonably well:

Screen capture of a summary of "Conventions." Click to expand.
Screen capture of a summary of “Conventions.” Click to expand.

I thought of that yesterday. Not bad for a first attempt, I suppose. We have to start somewhere, right?

A view of part of the Catskills "Windham Path," a few weeks ago. [Photo my me, 2016.]
A view of part of the Catskills “Windham Path,” a few weeks ago. [Photo my me, 2016.]

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