Routine Protects Me

You’re seeing a forest mural that one of my daughters created several years ago for my other daughter’s first child, my first grandchild. The artist gave birth to her first child, my third grandchild, in November.

Misha. “Little bear” in Russian.

We are all healthy, the entire clan. From Misha to Cindy, we are doing well physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I’ve learned from sixty-one years of experience that routine protects me.

Set free from the routine of teaching, for the two weeks of Christmas break, and I am apt to come apart. But I’m doing fine. I’m sticking to a plan that involves a long list of important things to work on.

I have five writing projects running at present.

Novel four, a new short story, a collection of illustrated poetry, a nonfiction work on nutrition.

Maintenance projects during Christmas break are typical for teachers. I am no exception.

Deep house cleaning and clutter removal, car work, lawn work.

Physical exercise is important.

Martial arts practice and walking with my wife.

During the walks I’ve been able to get in a bit of birding.

New winter arrivals: ring-billed gulls, scaup.

The old Chinese goose couple that I’ve been observing for years are still going strong at the reservoir.

I observed a turkey vulture on the ground and saw for the first time the strong resemblance to a wild turkey.

Reading and watching good movies is always on the list.

I recommend the novel Mrs. March by Virginia Feito. Read my review at Goodreads.

There’s a good chance that Lemon Slice Moon, my most recent novel, will appear on the shelves of West Hollywood Public Library. Amy San Antonio, a literary professional that I have known for many years, posted an insightful review of the book at Goodreads.

One of my Christmas gifts was a high quality microphone. I’ve been using it to record songs that I’ve written and performed during the last five years. I’ve been able to prepare three, so far, during the break. I’m considering sending them to a radio station that accepts contributions from local artists.

I’ve been busy.

Routine has kept me busy.

God and routine have held the darkness at bay.

Never underestimate the power of God and the power of a good routine.

Three Layers

On the surface, all is well. That’s what I say. That’s what you say. We smile, laugh a little, complain a little, say we’re doing okay.

One layer down, we’re a mess.

People close to us may be allowed access to this second layer. Sometimes not. There’s more complaining there. The emotions, both high and low, are authentic and intense. If we show too much of this, folks stay away. (“Hey! I already got enough to deal with of my own…”)

Third layer: All is well. This is the one that keeps us truly sane. It’s not a faked up representation of reality like the surface. This is the one that tells us that even though layer two is messy, might even be supportably tragic, we’re still okay. If we’re sane enough to access layer three, then we’re probably standing on two real feet with lively, wiggly, non-gangrenous toes. It’s likely that we are actually sound in our minds and physicality. We may be upset and occasionally unpleasant to be around, but we’re alive, we’re paying the rent (the cardboard-box home is not looming), we have shelter and sustenance.

Layer one ensures that we’ll survive in a world that fears and punishes weakness and openness. (Sometimes you just gotta “put on a happy face.” It’s expected.)

Layer two allows venting, keeps the pressure cooker from exploding. You don’t want an explosion. You might take a permanent trip to layer four – insanity in the underworld. Bad, dark mojo. Don’t beat yourself up over layer two. (For a writer, layer two can be very inspirational.)

Layer three is about gratitude. I’m grateful for good people. (I know so many of them. I tear up just thinking about it.) I’m grateful for God. He’s managing this messy, harsh world despite our intentional and unintentional efforts to make it worse and destroy it. Thank you for the patience.

THE PHOTO?

I officiated the wedding of my daughter Allyson to my new son-in-law Lincoln. It was a pleasant and happy experience. I am grateful for the hard work of the wedding planners (my wife Cindy and my other daughter Leslie). The newlyweds Allyson and Lincoln are good-hearted people. Bless them.

THE (SCHOOL) YEAR IN REVIEW?

Level one: Good year.

Level two: “Shriek!”

Level three: Excellent year.

Despite the requirement to teach high school students in-person and online at the same time, all day long, five days a week, classes went well. My supervisors were competent encouragers. I experienced a lot of philosophical reflection and that added to the depth of my writing and my interactions with other people. I can complain (level two) but… I can’t (level three). I’m still standing, healthy, grateful for it.

NOVEL THREE?

Done! Published. Go to my Amazon site (Kevin Polman), look for Lemon Slice Moon. Enjoy, but be patient. IMO, it is the best of my novels but it does have a complex “literary” structure to it.

WHAT’S LOOMING?

Another year of teaching (my 24th!) will arrive soon.

Level one: I’m ready.

Level two: I’m doomed.

Level three: Thank you for this.

As far as writing goes, I’m ready to get started on my next short story collection and novel four. I’ve been collecting ideas and preparing notes and outlines for months. Levels one, two, and three: I’m ready to go.

Crystal Clear

‘Tis the season for complaining, but…

In an era of nasty viruses and nasty politicians, my life is very sparkery. (I’ll explain this new term later.)

I am loved beyond what I deserve.

My FWAFA students (co-creators and photographers of wonderful crystal projects) and co-educators love me beyond what I deserve.

My wife and daughters and grandkids (and Jack) love me beyond what I deserve.

NOVEL THREE

Progress has been fantastic. I’ve added twenty thousand words in the last two months. It’s not just the word count, though. I’ve included a critical element that I finally discovered was missing: Love. (John was right.)

BOOK REVIEW

This link will take you to my review of Camille Pagan’s WOMAN LAST SEEN IN HER THIRTIES.

WORK

My job as an educator does not get shortchanged because I write. I’ve been all-in during a year when all-in amounts to exhaustion and yet, the unique challenges have been exhilarating and eye-opening. I hear people complain, but I hear the same people express hopefulness. Perhaps we are no longer trying to get through “this” but instead are investing ourselves in “this” as our new adventure.

FAMILY

My daughter Allyson has found Mr. Right. Lincoln is a nice guy, and bonus… He’s a good writer. After reading him and meeting him, I can see what she sees: They are a match made in heaven. Yesterday, during a family Christmas gathering, Lincoln and Allyson announced their intention to be married in the spring. Wow! Pure happiness.

My wife has just been hired for full time employment at a wonderful place to work. We are both over the moon delighted about this. Wow! Pure happiness.

(Jack says, “Hello.”)

SPARKERY

My granddaughter Olivia has a term she uses for objects of art that are “very beautiful” and have sparkle to them: “sparkery.” Lately I have come to realize that my life is very beautiful and full of people and happenings that sparkle.

God loves me beyond what I deserve.

My life is very sparkery.

I hope yours is too.

Sunny

Life is good.

MY BOOKS

Kevin and Jack and the Mysterious Appearing Object was published last week. IMO, it’s the best of three in the Kevin-and-Jack children’s picture book series. Here’s how it starts:

Early Saturday morning.

We find Kevin, Jack, and the mouse-without-a-name engaged in breakfast chitchat.

Breakfast was interrupted by a curious “phlumping” sound from the backyard…

(See “About Kevin” for a link to my Amazon Page and all of my books.)

Next? I’m already several thousand words into my third novel, an amalgam of delightfully damaged, yet lovable characters. Summer, 2021… perhaps?

EDUCATING THE MASSES

The masses have started the year well, and I love them for it. (You go, masses!) My school, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts, took great pains to prepare me for VFO (virtual full on), and they did a splendid job. I’m loving Google Classroom; I’m already an organize-freak, and this venue has taken me to a whole new echelon of organize-freakdom. The first week back teaching biology, chemistry, and AP chemistry using GC and ZOOM was bliss. I want to hug and kiss someone for how well things turned out (despite my fears that all would be horrors), but that wouldn’t be appropriate. So no kisses, just thumbs up.

BOOK REVIEW

I posted a Goodreads review of my all-time favorite children’s picture book: Gus Was a Friendly Ghost. (I still have my copy from when I was six years old.)

If you’d like to read the review…

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3508813236?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

BOOKS I’VE RECENTLY READ (BUT NOT REVIEWED)

I recommend two of Anne Tyler’s newest, Vinegar Girl and Redhead by the Side of the Road. These are well-written books about sad oddballs that you can identify with; the stories edify and lift the heart.

I am currently reading a special edition of Twilight Zone short stories published in 2009 as a tribute to the late Rod Serling. It’s good — nothing quite like a creepy, philosophical ghost story to give you a pleasant literary buzz.

SOMETHING TO WATCH?

I’ve seen Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood three times. In particular, I appreciate Tarantino’s unique treatment of the Manson murders, having been a psychologically traumatized child of that era. DiCaprio and Pitt are fantastic.

I’m planning to re-watch two exceptional Emma Stone/Woody Allen movies soon: Magic in the Moonlight and Irrational Man.

La La Land (again with Emma?!) is up for a third viewing. (I had the most fun participating in a group dance set to “Another Day of Sun” in last year’s faculty talent show. Man, that was fun!)

Need to laugh and release? Pull up a Jim Gaffigan clip on the net.

AND SO…

Despite the VFH (virus from hell) and MSU (massive social unrest), my world is pretty SUNNY.

I’m not taking it for granted.

Beauty!

SAY IT.

At times I am afraid to speak, to write, to propose, to offer, to ask, to reveal.

Why fear?

I am afraid of hatred.

At my best, I ignore it.

I press on.

At my worst, I sleep.

THE BIRDS

The significant decrease in human intrusion of late seems to have given a new boldness to wildlife. A female Cooper’s hawk has made a nest in a tree across the street from my house. This is rare in residential neighborhoods. Two weeks ago, I witnessed this hawk win a battle of wills against a black vulture – in the street, Old West style – for a dead squirrel. I have never seen THAT before in any setting, but certainly not in cozy suburbia. I’ve watched Canada geese wandering an abandoned high school football field. Scissor-tailed flycatchers have come closer to me than ever before; one hovered within six feet of me, so near I was easily able to see the blood-red spots at its wing joints. (Normally you can’t observe this without binoculars.) When I go on my daily walks these days, I am treated to sunny fields of blue-eyed grass and Shasta daisies and evening primrose, the startling red heads of house finches, and the pleasant music of brown-headed cowbirds.

PROGRESS

On reprieve from my usual commute to school, I’ve gained two hours each day. With this extra bit of time, I’ve made good progress on my current writing push – the third Kevin-and-Jack book. I’m easily on track for a midsummer release.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15068343.Kevin_Polman?from_search=true&from_srp=true

BOOK REVIEW: ANI’S RAW FOOD ESSENTIALS

“PAGE EIGHTY-ONE”

…has a beautifully simple and healthy recipe for “heirloom tomato salsa” — and there are hundreds more like it. ANI’S RAW FOOD ESSENTIALS is an excellent reference for both hardcore raw-food proponents and well-meaning vegans (like me) who appreciate a great variety of easy, adaptable recipes. I especially love the section on raw vegan cheeses, in particular “basic cheeze” on page 103.

This book has useful resources and recipes to last a lifetime. ANI’S RAW FOOD ESSENTIALS is well-written and is worth the cost to have a permanent copy in your home.

“A key to living well is consistency and daily practice, not extremes. Extremes cause stress mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Consistency, on the other hand, practiced repeatedly over time, becomes a great habit.”

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3278610039?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

ARTSATHON LIVE!

My school (Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts) is having an online fundraising talent show, done telethon-style with Facebook Live!, on May 5. Students, parents, and staff are invited to perform. I’m considering various unusual offerings including a duet acting piece in which I play Don Quixote and Jack plays Sancho Panza or a Kevin-and-Jack singing duet of “That’s Amore.” Whether Jack and I bless the universe with our talent (or not), it will be a good show.

https://www.facebook.com/AcademyFineArts/

SAY IT.

There’s a force that can take hold in this world

To destroy what is beautiful.

Be CAREFUL.

You might not have been BORN with such force,

But you might INHERIT it.

DQ? DQ.

Prancing about. A medieval Barney Fife. Very fitting.

“The poor man imagined himself already wearing the crown, won by the valor of his arm… and so it was that with these exceedingly agreeable thoughts, and carried away by the extraordinary pleasure he took in them, he hastened to put into effect what he so fervently desired.”*

And yet, I will have great fun playing Don Quixote in FWAFA’s upcoming ballet.

But I’m not wearing tights.

*Translation by Edith Grossman

https://www.fwafa.org/

PROGRESS

I’m still (slowly) proceeding with Kevin and Jack #3 and Novel #3. I predict summer 2020 for KJ3 and winter 2021 for N3.

BOOK REVIEW

HALF-TRUTHS
Jill Ciment’s Act of God is a good story that has philosophical depth and is written skillfully and poetically. (What more could a reader desire?) Her characters are people you come to care about; you want them to survive and succeed. They are trying to do what all of us long for (whether we realize it or not): to gain redemption, to find happiness, to be rescued, to be enlightened, to escape unjust judgment. A key theme that runs throughout the novel is that of holding on to half-truths — a universal human flaw — and preserving them to retain dignity and perhaps, safety. We tell these half-truths to others; we tell them to ourselves. In doing so, we achieve an inferior sustenance; we get by.

“To submit to another’s will and permit an alien soul to inhabit her body and control her expressions — all fifty-six facial muscles, and the coloration of her skin, and the tempo of her breathing, and her hair and teeth and cartilage and bones — was the deepest intimacy Vida knew. Acting gave her the only moments of respite she had from herself.”

 

FWAFA VENDOR FAIR: FOLLOW-UP

My book selling/signing at Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts in November was the best I’ve had in the years I’ve been doing this. I sold over fifty books (many of those were the new Seven Layer Cake) and met loads of interesting readers. A wonderful experience. I’m still hearing from people that came by my table.

https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Polman/e/B01D3HWGQ2?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1579962362&sr=8-1

DVD RECOMMEND

To fans of literary horror, check out The Boat, starring Joe Azzopardi, written and directed by Winston Azzopardi. Subtle, suspenseful, a philosophical talk-piece.

TONS OF FUN

On January 17th, I performed in my second faculty talent show (titled “Another Day of Fun”) at FWAFA. This one was even more fun than the first in 2019. (FWAFA audiences are the best!) I sang an Irish song with a men’s group, solo-sang one of my own new compositions (with guitar), and… danced! My technique was subpar, but the experience delightful nonetheless, so much so that I’ve started learning hip-hop dancing (BTW: great exercise and a lot of… fun). Next time you see me, ask me to show you some of my new moves.

Be Better

I had my first choir experience at seven years.

My mom arranged for me to be in a children’s Christmas event at church. We had one practice session for one song to be performed one night only, during a special service.

I lost my music before I got home from practice.

Days passed.

Eventually Mom said, “Let’s practice your song.”

“I’m not sure what it is.”

“Where’s your music?”

“Lost it.”

We sat in the living room looking through Christmas classics in Mom’s hymnal to find one that sparked my memory.

“That’s it.”

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing?”

“Yes.”

She pulled out the piano bench and we practiced it over and over.

On the night of the big event, I stood with the choir of thirty children, at top, in back.

The song was not “Hark!” The word “angels” wasn’t even in the song. I mouthed nonsense while others sang words to a modern Christmas carol not found in hymnals.

I could see my mom in the pews, gussied up in her Sunday best, light from above illuminating a face with eyes narrowed.

Scowling.

Fifty-two years later, I still know “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” very well.

 

Something at Kirkus

Something (my second novel) is currently in review by Kirkus. Verdict in late November.

 

Book 6 to Publisher to Proof to Press!

My sixth book (and second collection of short stories), Seven Layer Cake, is out. It’s a beautiful baby, my best writing and illustrations to date.

I want to rock it to sleep AND feed it cake.

You’re so weird.

https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Polman/e/B01D3HWGQ2?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1573519119&sr=8-1

 

Vendor Fair at FWAFA

Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts (the school where I teach) is sponsoring a vendor fair the evening of November 14th. The proceeds will support their department of dance. I have rented a space to sell and sign books. (I’ll have all six books on hand, including the new arrival.) I haven’t done this sort of thing in a long time. Patrons who attend the fair should also attend the accompanying exhibitions that showcase FWAFA’s AMAZING dance talent. Everything starts at 5:30.

https://www.fwafa.org/

 

Book Review

Mike McIntyre’s nonfictional The Kindness of Strangers is well known to readers who enjoy philosophical road-trip books. The author’s descriptions of all manner of everyday people who helped him (with rides, food, shelter, and insight) as he made his way across the U.S. on foot are engaging… and occasionally heartbreaking in their gritty reality. This is a commendable book not just for the good writing but for the life lessons it teaches as well.

“Tim gives me a tour of tonight’s quarters, as Julia, Charlotte, and Kristina scamper about the vacant duplex. Stuffed plastic garbage bags sit like beanbag chairs on the bare floor. Wind whistles through the busted doorjamb. Paint peels from grimy walls. The curtains are torn and stained. Upstairs in the bathroom, the toilet has overflowed repeatedly, leaving the floor as soggy as quicksand, the tub ready to sink into the living room.

‘It’s not the Ritz,’ Tim says with a chuckle.

But I tell him how I slept last night in the rain, and how right now this dry refuge looks as good as any five-star hotel.”

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3045593730

 

Good Movies

I have two strong recommendations for cinephiles who have an affinity for subtle, literary-minded films. Both are based on well-received novels and are available in video: We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Little Stranger.

 

Hark!

“I need you to be a better person.”

Silence.

“To be decent.”

Silence.

“To care.”

Silence.

“To be respectful.”

Silence.

“To spurn destructiveness and embrace constructiveness.”

Silence.

“Be better.”

Silence?

Memory

MEMORY: PART 1

Memories. They bless. They curse. Sixty years pass, good and bad are still vivid, still powerful.

Amidst the blur, look closely. Answers are there.

Memories: a fuel for long-lived adoration and long-lived vengeance.

I remember you as you were. A half century later, are you still that person? How much is left?

SHORT STORY: “HER TYPEWRITER”

An excerpt:

“Tak. Tak, tak, tak, tak. Tak, tak.”

What is that?

I peeked over the fence.

Grass. Trees. A rusting swing set.

“Tak.”

I looked at Chester.

“I’ve heard that before. I know it.”

A sound from long ago.

Chester looked at me with sad eyes. (He’s not sad. Chester has a wonderful life.) He looked away, sneezed, spring air tickling his sensitive nose.

“Tak, tak. Thunk. Ding!”

Ah.

*****

My great grandma, Gigi, lived until I was five years old. I was a precocious child in many ways, and I have several intact and detailed memories of her. At times, she could be as mean as a snake.

But never to me.

Her dear little Chet.

She was babysitting me once while my parents and sister were at a movie, and she’d asked me to do something – some little chore or maybe to take my nap, something, I can’t remember – and I responded with “I don’t have to do what you say. You’re not my mother.”

Anybody else she would have smacked.

“Alright.”

I waited, watching her.

She narrowed her eyes.

“But you should do it anyway.”

So I did.

During her last year, she started giving away stuff, much of which nobody wanted.

Dying old people junk.

My older sister, Bess, got Gigi’s massive collection of geodes. Pretty, sparkly… but Bess wasn’t a nerd, actually ended up a professional dancer, definitely not the rock hound type. The geodes returned to Mother Earth via some landfill.

My mom got Gigi’s 44 magnum. (Gigi had a thing for guns and Dirty Harry and Clint. I think she might have had an affair with him during her road-wandering years in the Carmel area of California.) The pistol ended up in a pawnshop after Mom shot at a coworker my dad was sleeping with. She aimed high, not intending to kill, just terrify. Nobody went to jail, but we were a no-firearms family after that. My father embraced faithfulness for the rest of their married life.

I got Gigi’s sky-blue manual typewriter, an inexpensive DELUXE 100 she’d picked up at Kmart.

Loved it.

The link:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=kevin+polman&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

NEXT UP

With the release of “Her Typewriter,” the second seven are done and published. Development of an illustrated paperback collection begins soon.

Hint: Cake is involved.

BOOK REVIEW: THE TRANSITION

IT’S THE ADJUSTMENTS THAT’LL GET YOU.

There’s always someone or some organization telling you, “We’ve got a solution for you, THE solution that’s going to solve YOUR life’s dilemmas.”

Required: adjustment here, adjustment there.

THE TRANSITION: Luke Kennard’s first novel.

A novel of solutions and adjustments.

Think David Ely’s SECONDS with younger protagonists.

Creepy.

An embedded love story.

Funny. (Shaking torso, at times.)

Enlightening.

Philosophically frightening.

Thoroughly entertaining, from beginning to end.

“‘This is how we start,’ said Janna. ‘Tomorrow is Monday and you go back to work as normal. We share every duty – we have a rota – it’s on your tablets, so you’ll be reminded when it’s your turn to cook or clean up. You don’t have to pay anything – that’s part of it. Not just rent, but bills, food, travel to work – we’ll have a Transition car drop you off and pick you up. It’s all covered.'”

The link:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2908975414?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

MY TRANSITION

Summer’s almost done.

Soon: my transition from one madhouse to another.

No regrets. Summer was peaceful, mostly. Time to think and write and rest and spend more time with loved ones.

Back to school.

Lessons: treasured and dreaded.

No regrets.

MEMORY: PART 2

You fear that memories will consume you, that there will come a time when all you’ll be able to do is remember, and there will be nothing new, no future, no hope. Just memories.

And they don’t always light the corners of our minds.

Can they be controlled? Is God the manager of our memories? Are they a way of teaching us?

And giving us the means to teach others?

Randy, Kevin, Kevin, Bobby.

Memories.

Trouble

Trouble every day.

Some kind of trouble. Something troubling.

Troublesome people.

Overall, life looks good. Right?

If you make a good vs. bad list, looks good. Overall. But…

That thread of trouble just won’t go away.

Trouble wears on you, eats at you.

Sometimes you just want to shut your eyes and rest.

That rest, the reprieve from trouble, can be so good, you don’t want to wake up.

Why DO we wake up? What is it that gets us up even when the desire to rest, to escape, is so strong? What is the source of willpower and courage (?) to end the rest, get back on the trail, put one foot in front of the other, and get moving?

Negative? It’s not. It’s the reality of trouble.

You can try to ignore that troublesome thread, but at some point you’re going to have to give it a tug. Ignoring it will drive you nuts.

(Like Pirsig’s dripping faucet in Zen.)

Deal with it.

Look at it directly.

Wake up!

 

NEW SHORT STORY: “REST”

An excerpt:

“Tim. Tim! Wake up. Tim?”

Paula’s husband had closed his eyes for what he’d thought would be a short just-home-from-work power nap on the couch before they headed out to do Friday night shopping at Target.

“Tim!”

He heard her, as if from a distance, but he was so far away he couldn’t respond.

And he couldn’t (wouldn’t?) open his eyes.

Tim was gone.

“Tim?!”

I am Tim. Named by my crazy hippie-mother after, yeah you guessed it, Tiny Tim. No, I don’t resemble him at all. I’m not a hippie or a neo-hippie sympathizer. I prefer people that I interact with to be well washed and sober.

I help people. My profession. Since I do it sixty hours a week, that’s mostly who I am. My license states that I’m a recovery counselor, but I no longer believe in recovery. Recovery flew out the window years ago. She never flew back. Coping took her place. Coping lacks the idealism of recovery, but she’s a more reliable lover. A “rainy day lover” as Gordon Lightfoot might say.

People in my groups – broken, sad, bitter, angry, pathetic people – start by asking me to help them recover. I say, “Recover what? Idealism? The purity of your youth?” They pause to think, their eyes light up, then reply, “Yes!” Their eyes go dark again when I say, “Forget recovery. It’s not going to happen. You’ll never get your innocence back.” Before they have time to slink away or stomp out, I add, “But I can help you learn how to cope. I am a master at coping.” Nine out of ten stop and listen to the rest. “Coping is the closest you’ll get to happiness. Recovery is unreachable, but coping is a one-hundred percent guarantee.”

I shouldn’t say one-hundred percent. Even after my best efforts, I have the occasional fail. A person who just can’t learn to cope.

Paula stopped shaking Tim. She sat on the chair next to the couch and looked at him with worry. She’d yelled, poked, and jostled so much that he’d have a headache when he woke up.

If he wakes up.

Tim’s face looked peaceful, calmer than she’d seen him in months, the worry-furrows gone from his brow. You could see traces of the beautiful child he’d been, a little boy with wild hair whose mother had repeatedly told admiring strangers, “No, he’s a boy.”

Peaceful, but the dark semicircles under his eyes are still there.

The living room was quiet.

Quieter than usual.

Unpleasant.

Eerie.

Paula heard the refrigerator in the kitchen say, “Tick!”

A mockingbird’s muted call came through faintly from outside.

The sound of my breathing.

Tim whispered.

“What? What did you say?”

He whispered again, but she still couldn’t make it out.

The rest of “Rest”?

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=kevin+polman&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

 

BOOK REVIEW: WALKING

“LEAVE THE CAR AT HOME”

Erling Kagge’s Walking is a philosophical exploration of slowing down on purpose in a world that goads us to neurotic overstimulation and insensitivity to our surroundings.

Get out of your box.

Smell those roses.

Talk to people (you’d normally drive past).

Lift your face to the sun.

Enjoy the small things.

Kagge makes a case for putting on those walking shoes and leaving the car at home, at least some of the time.

Many people walk for exercise. They walk the dog. Not uncommon. Good for the cardiovascular. But how often do you walk to the neighborhood store or library a mile away? We drive to save time, to get things done, deftly avoiding and ignoring the worlds in between home and such destinations.

Walking is a worthy read, full of good stories, valuable insight, and tidbits from other walking philosophers like Thoreau and Kierkegaard.

“And this is precisely the secret held by all those who go by foot: life is prolonged when you walk. Walking expands time rather than collapses it.”

Link to goodreads review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2861682711?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

NUMBER 7

Seven’s on its way, already in my head, should arrive with its weird little self in a month. Once short story #7 (#14, since the summer of 2015) is out, short story paperback collection #2 will get underway. After that… novel #3 and Kevin-and-Jack #3.

ONE ANGRY MAN

Jury duty.

(Okay… more like “One Frustrated Man.”)

The teacher’s summer reward.

Hours of questions and waiting during selection.

We stared at the innocent (until proven guilty).

He stared at us.

Minimum sentence: 25 years.

“Does that bother you?” they asked.

Please have them select someone else.

 

THE ROYAL

Yes, that’s my typewriter.

A classic.

A beauty.

(Courtesy of my generous family in honor of Father’s Day. Thank you!)

 

Blue Slushies

When you’re young, the smallest pleasures can take you away from your troubles.

Can we go back to that? Just for a moment?

 

At the Public

Something made it to the shelves of Fort Worth Public Library – Summerglen Branch. Admittedly, it’s just one copy. One of those small pleasures. Still… I’m pleased as Punch.

 

New Short

The Man from V.E.G.A.N. is available as a Kindle short-read. Here’s an excerpt…

It all started with the ribs.

Succulent, fallin’-off-the-bone ribs.

The LSD of carnivores.

I’d ODed on them at my fave steak house. And followed the ribs with a full serving of their best creamy desert.

Milk chocolate gelato with sugar-frosted raspberries.

Mmm.

I was able to drive home without being pulled over by the cops despite my food-induced stupor.

Just able to.

(Thank you!)

Stumbling through the yard, my mind mostly on a long, restorative nap, I noticed a woman standing on the lawn across the street. A severe looker. Looking at me. Severely.

You don’t live around here.

She stared. No blinking.

Scary. Well-built. Looks like she could hop over here and trounce me in less than a minute.

I couldn’t focus and forgot about her quickly, dropped my keys, then recovered them from the thorny shrubs, piercing my scalp a few times. Once inside, slightly bloodied, I found my way to the bedroom, stripped to my Loomies, buried myself in cool sheets, and released my meat-and-dairy bludgeoned mind.

Heaven.

More? Link to my Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Polman/e/B01D3HWGQ2?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1557052638&sr=8-2

 

Book Review

A nonfiction selection this time. New treasure for vegans: Claudia Lucero’s One-Hour Dairy-Free Cheese.

 MY PIZZA YEARNS NO MORE

One-Hour Dairy-Free Cheese (OHDFC) is a fun-to-read, instructional (and even motivational) offering from cheese expert Claudia Lucero. This lady knows her cheese, both vegan and non-vegan. (Check out her website — “Urban Cheesecraft” — that offers all sorts of cheese-related kits and recipes.) OHDFC is loaded with appealing photography and well-written, descriptive text. Preparation details are easy-to-follow and accompanied by high-quality photos.

More? The Goodreads link…

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2799497961?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

 

All Grown Up

We’ve grown up too much when we get to the point that our blue slushies no longer provide a momentary escape.

Go on. Have your blue slushy. Let things go for a while.