The Privilege of Being a Caregiver

Occasionally, I have time to read at work when the woman I take care of is napping, but I can’t read anything involving since I need to keep one eye (or ear) open in case she wakes and needs help. So I’ve been reading the forty-year-old Reader’s Digest Condensed books I found on her shelves. I read most of the books in unabridged book form when they were originally published, though I can’t recall many of the stories — that was about 15,000 books ago! I remember the covers, though, as well as the titles and authors, so that’s something, I suppose. Still, whether I’ve read the books before or not, reading them now gives me something to do.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother with the condensed books — it doesn’t take me very long to read a full-length novel, and though I can’t tell when reading the condensed version what has been edited out, I can’t really get into the story. The things that are left out must be the sort of thing that pulls me in and keeps me reading a book at a single sitting, because the condensed versions certainly don’t do that. Sometimes I go for weeks without a chance to read at work, so one of the stories I’m reading can sit there for ages without my being compelled to find out how it ends.

Normally, I wouldn’t have anything to say about condensed books because they simply are not a part of my life, but now they are. Sort of. In the same way that the news and commercials have crept into my life because sometimes I watch Judge Judy or the news with the client, which means lots and lots of commercials.

The good thing about the condensed books is I don’t end up with earworms or brainworms or sticky music or stuck song syndrome from them as I do from the commercials. You know what earworms and all those other terms are: they are all names for the bits of ditties that get stuck in your head that you can’t get out. The term earworm was created over 100 years ago, so apparently, this is an ongoing problem — one I got rid of after I stopped taking dance classes and before I started elder sitting. Oddly, the earworms that most infest my brain are from commercials for various drugs. No wonder people can remember what drugs to ask their doctor about — a whole lot of time and money is spent creating those earworms.

Sometimes I mute the commercial, but that is such an unfair trick to play on the elderly — they have no idea what happened when the sound suddenly stops. So I deal with the earworm, and the condensed books. They are such a small price to pay for the privilege of being a caregiver.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Questioning the Science

A couple of days ago, I saw a comment by a bestselling author who was rather scathing about people who question “the science.” It kind of took me aback because it seemed so . . . ignorant. Science is all about questioning. If it weren’t for questions, there would be no science. It’s the search for answers to those questions that create what we call “science.” Although some questions seem to have been answered, such as why an apple falls (though “gravity” itself still inspires questions) and if the sun is the center of the universe, there are others that haven’t been answered and perhaps never will be, such as what the universe is made of, how life began, what makes us human, what is consciousness, and a whole slew of other questions that make people try to reach beyond what they know.

According to Nasa Space Place, “Science consists of observing the world by watching, listening, observing, and recording. Science is curiosity in thoughtful action about the world and how it behaves.” It also says, “Science is not just a tidy package of knowledge. Science is not just a step-by-step approach to discovery. Science is more like a mystery inviting anyone who is interested to become a detective and join in the fun.”

Nowadays, though, “science” has reached the level of dogma, something that is incontrovertibly true, and anyone who dares question that dogma is branded a heretic. Of course, the word “heretic” isn’t used because it smacks of religion, and science isn’t religion, it’s . . . science. Or so they want you to believe. You’re not allowed to do your own thinking because . . . science. You’re not allowed to question the doctrine they’re foisting on you because . . . science.

But nothing is incontrovertibly true, not even truth (whatever that might be).

Supposedly, there are whole rooms full mysteries in the dark corners of the Smithsonian that don’t fit current theories about evolution, prehistory, whatever. Science only gives us the best possible explanation for observable phenomenon, and science can be manipulated to fit the scientist’s bias and, more probably, to fit the bias of the government or corporation funding the science.

Getting on a soapbox wasn’t my point in writing this piece, however. What prompted this essay is that yesterday, the day after I read that author’s comment, I saw her latest offering among the new books at the library. By habit, I reached out for it, because she was an author I sometimes read, but I couldn’t touch it. She’s nothing special and rather predictable, but that’s not why I could not force myself to pick up the book. It was the memory of her scathing remark about the stupidity of people who question the science.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Pandemics, Fictional and Otherwise

I just finished reading a novel about a pandemic written about twenty years before the onset of The Bob. It reminded me of the original prognostication about the death toll when the virus first showed up, and how over 80% of the world’s population was supposed to succumb. With so many people getting sick and with the death tolls still rising, I’m sure it feels that terrible to a lot of people (especially those who are sick themselves or have to deal with the death of a loved one), but that original estimate is upside down. 80% of the world’s population did not get infected. In fact, WHO says 90% did not get infected.

About 98% percent of the people who get infected recover, which means that a huge percentage of the world’s population didn’t die. (Less than two percent.)

Again, for those who got ill or know someone who did, these statistics seem a slap in the face because for them the percent was 100%, but the point I’m trying to make is that we are a far cry from an 80% fatality rate.

It’s almost impossible to imagine such a scenario (and it is understandable why leaders and health leaders freaked out about it), but I don’t have to imagine it because I just lived through such a pandemic in the book I mentioned. In fact, most books I have read with a pandemic theme were of that variety, where huge swaths of populations disappeared, and life would never be the same.

It will be interesting to see if there is any sociological residual to The Bob. There is what is called “the great resignation,” which seems to have come about because the momentum all the corporate drones and service workers and everyone else who did what they were supposed to do was broken, giving people time to think about what they really wanted. Or more probably, what they didn’t want. But for the most part, life seems to go on as before.

In novels about vast pandemics, life is unalterably changed. Oh, don’t get me wrong — I’m fine with the status quo (mine anyway) right now. I certainly wouldn’t want to put anyone through the horror of a broken civilization and bodies piled everywhere. (Or thrown in a pit, as I had my characters do in A Spark of Heavenly Fire.)

Still, it was interesting reading the book during this particular time. One thing I found interesting was the “blood passports.” There was no vaccine for this fictional plague, but people had to carry a small book that recorded their blood test results. Sound familiar? It was spooky in the book, and spooky in real life, where people need to show vaccine cards and test results before they can do group activities.

Luckily for me, I’m fine without concerts and major shopping expeditions and traveling. Quite frankly, you couldn’t pay me to get on an airplane right now, or ever again, actually.

So that’s my residual to The Bob — doing what comes naturally without any guilt.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Creative Air

A few weeks ago, I checked the online catalogue for this library, and found a book on my reading list, so I placed a hold on the novel. Although the book was supposed to be on the shelf, the librarians never set it aside for me, so I checked the shelves myself and didn’t find it. I asked about the book. They looked it up and discovered that although they were supposed to have two copies, they had none. Apparently, right before I moved here, the books disappeared.

They ordered the book from another library for me, and since that copy never showed up, it got me thinking. Suppose someone is out there removing all copies of this book? It certainly would make an interesting story, and who knows, someday I might even try to develop the plot. An obvious conundrum to figure out would be if the book is disappearing everywhere or just in this vicinity. Another one would be what the book thieves are looking for or trying to accomplish.

There must be creative air circulating around me, because not only did I come up with an idea for a book, but I also got a yen for cooking. Normally, if I get a rotisserie chicken, I throw away the bones and skin because chemicals and heavy metals like lead can settle in the bones, but the chicken I got today was enormous, and it seemed wasteful tossing out what in olden days would have been turned into a nutritious broth, so I went ahead and made a soup stock from all that waste. Another reason I don’t bother with making broth isn’t so much the question of health but that I’m not particularly fond of soup. But you never know — the creative air might descend another day and give me an idea for using the broth.

I also chopped up peanuts to mix in with a creamy peanut butter. I can’t find a natural crunchy peanut butter without sugar, so I made my own. Sort of.

And I fixed a meal that took an inordinate number of pots and pans, dishes and cans. It might have been creative, that meal, but it wasn’t all that tasty despite the benefits of chili powder and cumin and garlic and onion.

It’s funny, though, that this creativity air would descend right before I go back to a regular schedule at work. For the past couple of months, I’ve been more or less on call, just working sporadically because of quarantines and such, and now I will be working more days than I don’t. It’s as if my brain is scurrying around, thinking of all it could have done the past couple of months with so much free time, and suddenly, it wants to do two months of creative thinking in one day.

Or maybe my brain thinks this is the perfect time for a jolt of creativity because it knows I can’t feel guilty about not following through if I am otherwise engaged.

Not that I would feel guilty. I am mostly just going with the flow. Tomorrow the flow will be whatever it will be, but today the flow was through a creative air.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Hitting the Floor. Or Not.

Although the afternoon temperatures today got up into the forties, they were still in the thirties (Fahrenheit) when I set out for the library this morning. I had to pick my way over some slick spots, but for the most part, it was an easy walk, even with a heavy load of books in my pack. It was actually a lovely morning — blue skies and still air — and I was bundled appropriately in winter gear, so when I got home, I dropped off my books and went for a longer walk.

I noticed that I walk slower than I did a couple of years ago, but I moved well and with little effort, so I felt pretty good about myself.

For a while, anyway.

I was reading one of the books I picked up today, a mystery about a woman who researched personal histories for people. The book started out fine, with a lot of the history of New Mexico (before it was named New Mexico), but then the character got in too deep. At one point, her room was broken into, and her new friend (who just happened to have been in Special Forces) told her to stay behind him. Worried about people with guns, he said, “If I tell you to drop, you immediately hit the floor.”

I laughed out loud. So much for feeling good about myself! The character was young and could do what she was told, but if I were in her shoes? Well, first of all, I wouldn’t be in her shoes. I’m not that interested in other people’s histories so I wouldn’t be ferreting out their secrets. Second of all, I can’t imagine ever knowing someone that young and capable who was interested enough in me to make sure I was safe and on the ground when bullets began to fly. And third of all . . . um, hit the floor? If I were ever in such dire straits, I’d be done for. By the time I managed to get down on the floor below the level of gunshots, I’d be riddled with holes. Even assuming adrenaline would be rushing through my system, making me feel as if I could do anything, well, the truth is, I couldn’t. There’s too much I simply can’t do, and quickly getting down on the floor is one of them. It’s the same if I ever were in a situation where I’d have to run for my life. Hobble for my life? Possibly. Walk faster than normal? Probably. Run? Definitely not.

I don’t know why I laughed at the bit about “hit the floor,” because it really isn’t funny that I wouldn’t be able to drop quickly in an emergency. Still, I don’t generally end up in situations where a gun is pointed at me, and I do try to be careful and to be cognizant of people around me. Nevertheless, it’s a sobering thought (as well as a laughable one, obviously) about how age has caught up to me. I realize there are people my age who can drop to the ground and/or outrun larcenous folk, but I am not one of them, and though my knees are doing well and acting the way knees are supposed to act, they are, like the rest of me, not young.

I won’t have to worry about such things tomorrow, that’s for sure. With the winter advisory and wind chill warnings, I doubt I will be leaving the house. I’ll still do my knee therapy, of course, and spend a couple of minutes on the elliptical, but that’s about it.

Mostly, I’ll spend the day reading about younger folk getting into — and out of — trouble, and hope I don’t hurt myself laughing.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Feeling the Cold and the Creeps

It warmed up a mite. A couple of mornings ago, it was minus eight degrees Fahrenheit, and this morning when I walked to work, it was twelve degrees. A veritable heat wave! Despite the high temperature being just above freezing this afternoon, the heat from the sun was so intense, the snow is almost melted. There will be another day or two with single digit lows, then it will get back into the temperatures I’d become accustomed to — lows in the twenties, highs in the fifties.

That also means I’ll be back to watering my grass occasionally. And the streets will be clear and dry so I can go to the library. They are holding a couple of interlibrary loan books for me, and I need to go pick them up, though I’m not sure I really care to read them. I ordered these books months ago — maybe even a year ago — but because of all the closures and slowdowns due to The Bob, I didn’t get the books until now. In fact, I’d completely forgotten about them.

Meantime, what was once an author (Louise Penny) I enjoyed reading became one who gives me the creeps. This author, like one I have abhorred for a very long time whose initials are JP, is teeming up with a politician to write a book. I have no idea why an author who is respected in her own right needs the name of such a controversial politician (initials HRC) to further her career or why she would want to further the needs of the politician. It makes me feel manipulated, as if hands on my back are steering me in a direction I don’t want to go. I realize I shouldn’t let her decision to team up with another person make me rethink the books she wrote before the teaming, but it does. I will never be able to unsee those two names together on a book without shuddering. (It’s not the same with James Patterson and the other Clinton because I lost respect for Patterson and his writing franchise decades ago.)

Life seems to be taunting me, getting the books to me now when I don’t care rather than long ago when I especially wanted to read them. But I will try to remember that these books were written pre-HRC when I still thought Penny was worth reading, and slog my way through them. If nothing else, maybe I’ll finally find out how her detective ended up in the tiny village of Three Pines. The first books I read had him living in the big city. The last books had him living in the village. Without the intermediary books, it’s an additional mystery, so I will watch for the move, enjoy the books as best as I can, and console myself with the thought that these will be the last books of hers I will ever read.

And anyway, with winter here, it seems only fitting to be reading mysteries that take place in the far north (farther north than here, anyway). One thing that fascinates me about books that take place in Canada is the peek at a country and culture that is so similar to USA, and at the same time, vastly different. Although we’re becoming a country divided by myriad languages, this is more by default than by design. Canada seems to have always been a country defined by its two languages and two cultures. Or maybe three when you include the First Nations. Unless I’m wrong about that? I have to admit, the only things I really know about Canada are from the authors I’ve read, not just Louise Penny, but Robertson Davies, Lucy Montgomery, and Margaret Atwood. And, of course, from people I’ve met online.

But I’m getting far from where I started this essay, which is the cold. Brrr! I hope you’re keeping warm this winter, wherever you are.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Left-Behind Secrets

A common storyline for mysteries and thrillers is the secrets one finds after the death of one’s husband. Sometimes the husband is not really dead, but faked his demise for nefarious reasons. Sometimes the husband had a secret life, such as a second wife and family. Sometimes the husband was murdered, which eventually uncovers a whole slew of secrets, including whatever he did — sometimes innocently, sometimes with malice — to make someone want him dead.

All these left-behind secrets, of course, add to the grief of the widow because not only does she grieve for her husband, cad that he might have been, but she also grieves for the illusory life she’d taken to be real.

I’ve used this storyline myself for my novel Unfinished, though the secret didn’t really have that much of an impact on my character except for the awful realization that her husband had never trusted her enough to tell her about his past.

This is a popular storyline for a reason. Often, in real life, when clearing out a loved one’s effects, secrets do come to light. Sometimes it’s a stash of love letters, relics of an affair the husband had that the widow never knew about. Sometimes it’s a financial mess that was left behind, though in rare circumstances, it’s a trove of much-needed cash that the widow never knew about.

People are always shocked to find out these secrets because they were sure they knew everything there was to know about their spouse. In a way it makes sense that there are secrets — both the husband and wife generally lead separate lives for most of the day, he with his job, she with hers. Even more than that, though, our brains tend to fill in the gaps. For example, we all have blind spots — literally blind spots in our vision — but our brains fill in the missing information so most of us don’t realize we have a blind spot. It’s the same thing with knowledge. We can only know what we know, so our brains create some sort of boundary that excludes what we don’t know when forming a concept, so we assume that what we know is all there is to know, especially when it comes to a person we’ve lived with for many years and think we know well.

Chances are, we do know that loved one as well as anyone can know another person, but I don’t know how accurate that knowing is. For example, I lived with Jeff for more than three decades, most of which we spent in each other’s company. We worked together, lived together, watched movies together, and talked for hours on end. And yet, there’s no way I would ever assume that what I knew of him is all there was to know. Despite our almost mystical connection, he was his own person. I tend to think that in all the talking we did over the years, I learned most of his life, but there’s no way I could ever know if there were things I didn’t know.

At this point in my life, of course, it doesn’t matter. He was who was, and a big part of dealing with grief is understanding that despite all the love and experiences two people share in a lifetime, in the end, they are two separate people. He had to go his way (to death and beyond, assuming there is a beyond), and I had to go my way. If I were to find out now he had some sort of secret life (secret from me, that is), it wouldn’t seem the betrayal it would have been when he was alive or in the first years of my grief because grief did its work, and I let him go. I still miss him and I still talk to his picture, but that is in no way talking to him. I don’t expect him — the “him” that was once my life mate — to listen to my mutterings, nor do I expect a response. It’s just a way of ending my day, enumerating the highs and lows of the long hours spent mostly alone.

As you’ve probably guessed, the book I am currently reading is about a husband who was murdered and whatever he did to get someone angry enough to beat him to death. (I think it was something innocent, perhaps giving evidence of a crime, but I don’t know yet because I am only halfway through the story.)

One thing I do find interesting is that unlike most books of this ilk, the widow is still grieving a year later. Intensely grieving. Most books have the widow cry a few tears then shrug off their grief and go about their life as if nothing had happened, as if the death was merely a springboard for a change. But this author knows that grief is not simply an emotional upset but is a neurological condition that overloads the brain, changes the chemistry, and affects the neurological system in ways still not understood.

I was impressed with the author’s insight on grief if nothing else.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Sort of Christmas Story

Washington Irving wrote: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” As I read these words several years ago, I could see her, a drab woman, defeated by life, dragging herself through her days in the normal world, but in an abnormal world of strife and danger, she would come alive and inspire others. And so Kate Cummings, the hero of my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire was born. But born into what world?

ASHF

I didn’t want to write a book about war, which is a common setting for such a character-driven story, so I created the red death, an unstoppable, bio-engineered disease that ravages Colorado. Martial law is declared, rationing is put into effect, and the entire state is quarantined. During this time when so many are dying, Kate comes alive and gradually pulls others into her sphere of kindness and generosity. First enters Dee Allenby, another woman defeated by normal life, then enter the homeless — the group hardest hit by the militated restrictions. Finally, enters Greg Pullman, a movie-star-handsome reporter who is determined to find out who created the red death and why they did it.

Kate and her friends build a new world, a new normal, to help one another survive, but other characters, such as Jeremy King, a world-class actor who gets caught in the quarantine, and Pippi O’Brien, a local weather girl, think of only of their own survival, and they are determined to leave the state even if it kills them.

The world of the red death brings out the worst in some characters while bringing out the best in others. Most of all, the prism of death and survival reflects what each values most. Kate values love. Dee values purpose. Greg values truth. Jeremy values freedom. Pippi, who values nothing, learns to value herself.

Though this book has been classified by some readers as a thriller — there are plenty of thrills, and though the book was written more than a decade before the current pandemic, there are enough parallels to give anyone the chills — A Spark of Heavenly Fire is fundamentally a Christmas story. The story starts at the beginning of December, builds to a climax on Christmas, and ends with renewal in the Spring. There are no Santas, no elves, no shopping malls or presents, nothing that resembles a Christmas card holiday, but the story — especially Kate’s story — embodies the essence of Christmas: generosity of spirit.

You can read the first chapter of A Spark of Heavenly Fire here: https://ptbertram.wordpress.com/free-samples/a-spark-of-heavenly-fire/

You can download the ebook on Smashwords in any format here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire. As my gift to you, the download is free for the entire month of December.

Collecting Local Stories

I’ve been collecting local stories in case I need colorful fillers in my new haven’t-yet-written-a-single-word novel, though to be honest, I have my doubts about some of the stories.

For example, right before I got here, a fellow was killed in a cottage across the alley. (Around here, a cottage is a house built onto the back of a garage.) Supposedly, they were drug users who got in an argument. Or maybe they were drug dealers. Or maybe they were narcs scoping out the drug situation in this neighborhood. In support of the third possibility, one neighbor told me that the dead guy was seen around the courthouse in a nearby city. In opposition, if they were DEA agents, they weren’t very good ones because another neighbor (who has since moved away. Yay!) was the local purveyor of illegal substances, and they never caught him. Though I suppose it’s possible they were looking for his supplier. The general belief, however, is that they were drug users who had a falling out.

Another interesting story is that a while back, many years before I got here, someone a few blocks away decided to put in a frog pond. He created the pond, then ordered a thousand frogs. Those frogs turned out to be toads who prefer a damp shady environment rather than a wet one, so they disappeared during the night. The toads I see are supposedly descendants of the mail order toads. It’s a cute story, but such a tale is not necessary to account for all the toads around here. After all, there are rivers and irrigation ditches, which could also be a source for the toads. When I lived on the western slope of Colorado, in a rural plains area similar to this (though surrounded by hills and mountains rather than the flatlands we have here), there were also toads. There seem to be seasons for toads because I remember one year when the baby toads were as plentiful and as fidgety as the grasshoppers.

There are other stories, such as the family who had fourteen kids, the fellow who won’t let anyone in his house because he doesn’t want anyone to see that he is a hoarder, the lady who lets all her dogs get killed, the dispatcher at the sheriff’s department who was married to the local drug dealer, the ex-soldier who was so “ex” there is no record of his being in the service. (His story is spooky, reminiscent of my novel More Deaths Than One). As everywhere, there are gossips and godly people (sometimes one and the same), courteous folk and curmudgeons, those who have lived here for generations and those who are elbowing their way into the power structure (such as it is).

I don’t know what I will do with all the stories I am collecting. I don’t even know if I can use any of them because I wouldn’t want people to think I was writing about them, even if I were. And even if I weren’t. (People often see themselves in a character even though I didn’t put them there.)

Some people would like to be in my book. In fact, the wife of the ex-soldier would like me to tell her husband’s story, but I don’t want to do another mind control novel. Though come to think of it, much of the latter part of that story is similar to stories of people who have been alien-abducted, which could be a way of introducing the story, and then only later letting it be known that our own government was the abductor. Still, it’s too tragic a story for me to want to tackle. I’d prefer a more lighthearted story I wouldn’t mind living since an author does live his or her story for however long it takes to write it.

But none of this matters at the moment since I’m just in the collecting phase of my new haven’t-yet-written-a-single-word novel. Once I’ve collected a critical mass of information, then perhaps the story will explode out of me, and I’ll finally rack up another novel.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Books and Blogs

I seem to be doing my blogging later and later as time goes on. Unfortunately, inspiration is hard to come by when one spends most of one’s time alone. And then there is the matter of laziness, perhaps, or simply a tendency toward procrastination. Either way, here I am with my lights on since it’s dark outside, trying to think of something interesting to say. One of these days, I will give in to the temptation to let a day or two slide, but for now, I’ve committed to daily blogging for the rest of the year.

Just about the only thing I’ve been thinking about (other than that it will be another six months before I can get back into gardening) is the awful book I just finished reading. I could have put it aside at any time, of course, but then the uneasiness fostered by the story would have lingered much longer than it would by finishing it. Normally I don’t read contemporary women’s lit, but I needed a break from my usual diet of murder and suspense, which is a mistake I won’t be making again soon.

There seem to be two types of books that are targeted specifically for women — happily-ever-after stories (romances that tell the beginning of a relationship), and unhappily-ever-after stories, (novels that tell what happens to the loving couple after many years of being together).

This particular book was of the second variety. The main theme was about communication; none of the characters every told their partner what they were thinking. They expected the other person to know what was going on in their minds without their having to say a single word, and each character interpreted their partner’s actions in light of their own insecurities rather than the partner’s.

Even worse, the novel told three very loosely connected stories. The only connecting element was a house that none of them end up with; otherwise, the three stories had nothing to do with one another. Worst of all, there was nothing in any of the stories to offset the growing sense of dread and dreariness as the couples all drifted further apart. Just misunderstanding built on misunderstanding built on misunderstanding.

Simple discussions at the beginning of the book would have swept away all those misunderstandings. But then, there would have been no book for me to suffer through. Nor would I have had anything to write about today.

One of the stories was about a couple who were divorced from their original partners, and who ended up getting married. Since each had children from the prior marriage, and each child brought their own insecurities to the new home, dread was piled on dread. Some of that dread, I am sure, has to do with my own situation. I am at the age where, if I ever ended up in another relationship, it would be complicated by his children and grandchildren and perhaps even a great-grandbaby or two. (Unless, of course, he’s the type to eschew all family, in which case he wouldn’t be worth having.) The mere thought of having to sort out and find a way to combine the baggage of two lifetimes wearies me.

Luckily, I have no interest in another relationship. I have a house (and this blog), and that’s about as much responsibility as I want in my life.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.