Pointless and Plotless

I accidentally checked out a Christian novel at the library the last time I went. Normally I don’t care what I read because almost every book has passages and even pages that I skip, such as graphic sex in romance, over-the-top violence in thrillers, and gory scenes in horror stories, so it’s no problem to skip the proselytizing in books written for a religious-oriented readership.

But this book . . . ai-yai-yai. Not a page went by without a sermon, and most of those “sermons” were given by the loving husband, which if they were given to me, would have turned me against him and religion both. He wasn’t a preacher by trade, which would have made his preaching understandable. I think he was a fireman, but that bit of information was swallowed up in the excess of religious rhetoric, so I’m not even sure if that’s the truth. He wasn’t a dynamic character, that’s for sure!

I did like one point he made, though, that when Jesus calmed the waters, he not only saved his disciples, but also all the little boats that were in the turbulent sea at the same time. It’s always interesting to think about those who we might have influenced that we never knew about. (Although I looked, my name was not listed at the back of the book with all the folks who unwittingly influenced another person.)

Still, one point does not make a story, and the story in this particular book was a cheat, mostly because there was no plot. (And despite the preaching, there was no real point to the story, either.) No matter what happened, God saved the heroine. For example, she found out later in life that killers had been set upon her when she was young. When she finally met one of her nemeses and found out about the contract on her, she asked why he didn’t kill her as he’d been paid to do. He told her it was because of the ten armed bodyguards that always surrounded her. (Not bodyguards with ten arms like the goddess Durga, but ten bodyguards with guns.) Apparently, they weren’t bodyguards but angels. Still angels with guns? But that’s an issue for another time.

That wasn’t the only case of her being rescued by angels. Oddly, there was nothing in the book that made her so special that she was surrounded at all times by an army of angels, and why other characters were so unspecial they were left to their fate. But ignoring that whole issue and going strictly by a literary rather than religious perspective, where’s the suspense? What could have been chilling encounters ended up being . . . nothing. Because nothing happened. Basically, she did what she wanted, and everything turned out for her. The only conflict was of her own making, if the mild unease the character experienced from time to time could be called conflict.

Oh, well, I can’t say this is the worst book I ever read. Some well-respected works that won major awards I found even more ridiculous, but that’s the risk one takes when one grabs a handful of books without spending time vetting them.


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.

Peace and Plenty For All

In the book I just finished reading, the trillionaire hero was using his resources to find vaccines for the common cold as well as coronaviruses that exist now and will exist in the future. He’s also trying to revamp the medical establishment so everyone has equal access to care. And, to top it off, he’s on his way to discovering cheap, renewable energy. All in the hopes of ushering in a golden age of peace and plenty for all.

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of people want him dead, not just those you’d expect like those invested in energy businesses and medical businesses, but politicians and even humanitarians who want only to save the human race. As one such fictional humanitarian said: “People need hardship. They need something to struggle against. Someone to hate and feel superior to. Without these things, they lose their identity and sense of purpose. And they can’t handle it. Without a real enemy, they start turning on each other.”

That made me stop and think. Is it true? Do we need hardship? Struggles? Someone to hate and feel superior to? Are we really so petty that such things define us?

Hardships do change us, and perhaps even make us grow (and grow up), but would we wallow in purposelessness if we don’t experience adversity? I think about my life now, with no great hardships and hopefully, none on the horizon. It sure seems to be a good thing and is exactly the way I like it. I realize grief changed me, but before Jeff died and I became somehow different, I was just fine. If he hadn’t died and I hadn’t endured all those years of grief, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, but I’m not sure it would matter, because I only became this person so I could survive the trauma of his death, my loss, the pain, and my altered circumstances. Either way, I’d still be me with the same core values and a belief in kindness at almost all costs.

Without any trauma in my life, the only real challenge is to find something to write about every day to post on this blog. Other than that, I don’t feel as if my life lacks purpose. To be honest, I don’t think if we all were living in a trauma-less time, anyone would feel as if their life lacked purpose. As humans, we are fully capable of creating our own purpose and meaning. Besides, if we need something to struggle against, we don’t need other people; there is always our baser self which provides plenty of challenge and scope for improvement.

I do think if humans as a species always had an easy time of it, we’d probably still be living in a pre-stone-age society because it was the challenges of daily life that forced people to come up with ever more sophisticated tools. How that particular theory brings us to the age of computers, I don’t know, because there is nothing in our lives — except for our sheer numbers — that require such a mind-boggling tool. Nor does the age of computers in itself bring meaning to our lives. In fact, we bring meaning to computers, as we find novel ways of using the tools. The truth is, tools don’t bring meaning, and tools don’t bring happiness. Societies that manage to live as they always have for thousands of years are as happy or happier than we are. They don’t know — or care — about the “advantages” that a civilized life full of hardships, tools, and people to hate can bring.

I could be wrong in my assessment, but I truly do not see how a golden age could bring about a lack of purpose, with people turning on each other for no reason other than a need to have someone to look down on.


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.

Ghosts Who Write

I got a book from the library written by what I thought was one author but it turned out to be written another author I’ve never heard of. So often, in these days when bestselling authors become brand names, after they are dead, their name lives on in the hands — and mind — of a different writer.

Which leads me to believe that old bestselling authors don’t die, they become ghost writers. (Though “writing ghosts” or “ghosts who write” might be more accurate.)

I got fed up with Sue Grafton and her characters long before she hit the middle of the alphabet, but I must admit I admire her for her stance on letting her series die with her. So Z really was for zero. (That was supposed to be the final book, Z is for Zero, but she never had a chance to start writing it.) Besides, once a new Sue Grafton writer finished with Z, so would the author be finished because there is no letter after Z. Unless, of course, her publishers started inventing new letters so that the series could continue indefinitely. (<~> is for <~>####, perhaps?) Luckily for us, Grafton put an end to that.

But other authors and publishers aren’t so kind. One author (who is still alive, by the way) has written and cowritten an estimated 278 books. (I think only 71 by himself, though such numbers are hard to find.) After he’s gone and each of those co-authors continue the brand, a thousand books — two thousand books — isn’t beyond possibility. According to one estimate, there are 26 new releases from this fellow. Some people only read books with his name on the cover, which is okay because I never do. His less than stellar writing does not appeal to me. What surprises me is that people don’t care about this particular book farm (where he raised books like cattle). They buy his books anyway.

But that’s not what this particular blog was supposed to be about. The whole purpose was to post my silly thought about dead authors being ghost writers.

My writings might continue to be read after I’m gone — after all, blogs are forever, and some of my books are on the Amazon treadmill (as long as people order them, they will be published) — but no one will continue writing in my name except by accident. (Mine is not a common name.)

I’m glad that I won’t be a writing ghost, though I would be just as glad (I think I would, anyway) if my books sold well enough for my name become a household brand.


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.

Walla Walla Walla

Decades ago, I heard an interview with the actor who supposedly came up with “Walla, walla.” Whether he did or not, I don’t really know because the term was used in radio days and I don’t remember if he said anything about radio in the interview. I do remember he specifically mentioned being an extra in a courtroom scene on a television show, where after a Perry-Mason-like pronouncement by the lawyer, the folks in the courtroom were supposed to murmur in approbation and surprise. He said that he said, “Walla, walla, walla, walla,” syllables that are supposed to mimic human speech without actually meaining anything. One reason for the non-word is that actors were paid by the word, and since the syllables weren’t actually words, or at least not assigned words, they didn’t have to be paid as an actor with a speaking part. (As a matter of curiosity, in England, they use the word “rhubarb” for the same purpose.)

What made me remember this interview is that yesterday I watched the news with the friend I get paid to sit with (a great gig if I do say so myself), and all the newscasters talked about for a solid hour (and since it was “breaking news” they didn’t even break for commercials) was a fire. It wasn’t a particularly bad fire — at the time it was only about thirteen acres in a flat rural area, and only one dwelling had burned (the dwelling where the fire started, actually). I realize that it is a terrible and terrifying thing for the people involved, especially those who were under mandatory eviction status as well as those on the ground fighting the fire, but otherwise, it’s not a particularly noteworthy event. And yet, the news people talked and talked and talked, saying the same thing over and over again in various ways, and when the newscasters interviewed the “authorities” (the fire chief and others whose occupations I didn’t catch), those people said the same thing. Then the newscasters took over the microphone again and repeated what the interviewees had said.

At least I think they did. Around about that time, all I heard was, “Walla, walla, walla, walla.”

Because of the walla-walla-ing, I was able to tune out the newscast despite the high volume, and finished reading one of the woman’s Reader’s Digest condensed books published many years ago. (Normally I wouldn’t read such fare, but I can’t get immersed in a “real” book while I am working because I need to keep an eye and ear out for her, even if she is napping in a nearby chair, so the digest versions work well.)

Luckily, I have a day or three off from work to give myself a rest from the walla wallas.

Despite the cavalier tone of this article, I truly do hope the people affected by the fire are lucky too and that they and their property come through the crisis unscathed.


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

Pat As Protagonist

Ever since I mentioned that I am getting the itch to write again, I’ve been becoming more involved in the process. Not involved in the actual writing, you understand, but involved in the thinking of writing.

A blog reader I respect gave me a good reason for not doing a sequel to Bob: The Right Hand of God — he said what comes next is best left to the imagination of the reader. I appreciate that. I’m not sure I want to go back to that world, anyway. Being involved in a world in flux was interesting at the time, but if I were do an Adam and Eve sequel, it would be years later, the world would no longer be in flux, and Bob would have gone on to another job. Which would mean it would be like any story of young people roaming around a fictitious world doing . . . something. Still, I do see Eve standing at the gate of the compound (Eden), while the polka-dot snake urges her to leave. As fun as that beginning would be, I have no idea whatsoever about what comes after that. So I will leave her standing there, trying to get the courage either to listen to the snake or to stay where she is.

I doubt I’d ever again be able to write the sort of books I started with — those first four suspense novels were the reflection and culmination of all the research Jeff and I had done, first on our own, then during our years together. I don’t think I want to delve into conspiracy theories any more. No, that’s not true. I know I don’t want to delve into conspiracy theories any more. All the shenanigans of the past couple of years — politics, pandemics, propaganda — has made any possible fictional story seem pale by comparison.

I thought of writing a book about a woman who is looking in a mirror, and her reflection does something different from what she is doing, but I’m not sure I want to delve into that story, either. Sounds like madness — both the story and the writing of it — though it might make a nice short story. And I do need a couple of more short stories to fill out an anthology of my shorter works, but not quite yet.

I have no interest in writing anything more about grief, either fiction or non-fiction, mostly because I have nothing more to say. Any protagonist, however, would have to be an older widow, probably years after the death of her soul mate, because I can no longer imagine any other character. I certainly can’t imagine a young protagonist — I don’t remember what that was like. Nor can I imagine a happily (or unhappily) married protagonist. Secondary characters can be anyone, but to get into the head of a major character vastly unlike me takes a leap I can no longer make. That’s okay, actually. I’m fine with writing about an older woman on her own, trying to live life the best she can on her own terms. It might not be the sort of book that would be published by a real publishing house, but I have no intention of trying to get someone to publish any future books. I’m to the point where I have no interest in setting myself up for rejection. If I ever publish another book, I’ll do it myself.

I haven’t been able to figure out what the underlying theme of a potential novel would be. A mystery, of course, but beyond that, I didn’t really know until today. Three separate incidents — a conversation, an email, and a blog comment — all seemed to point the way.

The conversation was about my book Daughter Am I, and how much the reader enjoyed the way the young woman gathered up old folks as she went about her task of finding out who her grandparents were. It reminded me how much I enjoy that particular storyline. First there’s one character on a quest, then two, then three, then . . .

The email was part of a discussion with a friend about getting older and how this particular birthday (the same one I had a few months ago) is scary because it’s about stepping into the unknown future of aging. This is a decade of rapid aging, and it is scary if you think about how close we are getting to a time of infirmity, but we still just march along, doing the best we can. She also mentioned a show she’s watching about all sorts of misfits who try to change their lives by participating in a dance production, which sounds like fun.

And the comment was left on an old post: Resuming my Lonely March into the Future, about well, about resuming my lonely march into the future.

Oh, and there was a fourth thing — the perfect name for a fictional town popped into my head while I was writing this blog.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write another Pat book because too many local people are asking me to write one in the hope that they will be in it, but I’m not interested in putting real people in my books any more, at least not where they can recognize themselves, because that really is a good way to lose friends, and since I am here for the duration of my life, I can’t afford to alienate anyone.

Combining all this, it seems as if my next book should be another Pat-as-protagonist book, about setting up house, gathering confederates (perhaps people who are all lost in some way), and marching relentlessly into the future despite wonky knees, all the while solving some sort of mystery. Perhaps a murder that had unknowingly been done in Pat’s house years before.

Of course, by the time I actually clear my head of all the clutter and sit down to write, I might end up with something completely different, but this “Pat moving to a new town, gathering misfits, and solving a crime” scenario seems to be where my mind is heading at the moment.


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

An Itch to Write

I can feel an itch to write coming on — not just to do my daily blogging stint, or to write about grief, but to immerse myself in a story.

I’m not there yet. Too many things are calling for my attention to allow me to let “real life” take a back seat to a fictional life. “Real life” is in quotation marks because no one knows to what extent this life is real. It might be just a figment of our collective imaginations, a fiction that we create together. At least that’s what both the quantum physicists and the tarot seem to preach.

In my tarot readings this month, I’ve been getting the moon card rather frequently. The moon stands for imagination as a force. It also warns against the pitfalls of believing too much in what we perceive as reality, because what we observe can only reflect what is real the way that the moon reflects the light of the sun. This card might be echoing my interest in writing, or it might be that the card is creating that interest in me. It’s hard to tell with the tarot. Either way, it does seem to indicate a time of illusion.

Not that any of this has to do with writing specifically. It’s just that when I am focused on the outward life I see, I cannot focus on the inner life I might perceive.

As time goes on, my focus will change. As the hardscape of my yard becomes more fixed and my gardens become more viable, I will have a lot more free time (mental free time, that is), especially in the winter. My job will be coming to an end at some point. I originally agreed to a year and then contracted for another six months, but as I get even older, I’m not sure if anyone will trust me with their elders. My senzaburu (1000 origami cranes) will be done by the end of the year. And the hidden object game I have been fascinated by for the past year is becoming less fascinating now that I’ve opened all the locations. There is a new location every month, which revs up my interest, but even that might not be enough to overcome my creeping boredom with the game.

As my current areas of focus gradually become blurred, that’s when one of the stories rattling around in my brain will take root.

I’ll be interested in seeing which idea plants itself. (If you have a preference for any of these story ideas let me know.)

1) A sequel to Bob, The Right Hand of God, perhaps? If you end up with two characters named Adam and Eve, it seems almost an obligation to write their story. 2) A sequel to Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare? After all, the main character (me!) is alive and well in Colorado, and seems to be calling out for a new episode in her fictional (and oh so murderous) life. 3) A ghost story? The only ghost I ever created is a ghost cat in Light Bringer, so it might be interesting to bring a different sort of ghost to life. It’s possible 2 and 3 could be the same story. 4) A novel of psychological terror where the poor protagonist isn’t sure if she is going crazy or if she is seeing ghosts? It’s possible 2, 3, and 4 could be the same story. 5) A story based on a tarot reading, with each twist and turn dictated by the cards? It’s possible 2, 3, 4, and 5 could all be the same story, a combination of any two or three or each could be a separate tale. 6) A completely different story, one that hasn’t made itself known to me yet.

All that is in the future. My current foci — my house, my yard, my job, the hidden object game, the tarot, the senazburu, my daily blog offering — are still with me.

But someday . . .


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

Cheap Writing

I’m reading a book by an author I can generally tolerate despite his obviously manipulative style, but this particular book irritated me from the first page.

One of the characters is a teenager. And like almost all teenagers in adult books, this one is rebellious, insolent, arrogant, and downright nasty. And those are her good qualities. Well, her only qualities.

Since this author is so manipulative, it’s possible he chose the character as one who would be, with only a few strokes of his keyboard, instantly recognizable to his readership, but if so, why? Why do so many teenagers in books have to be like this? The character has ruined more stories for me than even the serial killers who so lovingly demonstrate every single cut and cherish every single drop of blood. It’s as if no one will believe that a teenager can be other than appalling, especially since the parent’s inability to deal with the inexcusable behavior often serves as a subplot. If the teenager is as nice as many I have met (and as placid as I once was), then bang, there goes that subplot, and the author would have to think of another one.

It’s also a cheap subplot (sometimes even the entire plot) because the more terrible you make the teenager, the more obvious the character arc when the kid grows up. Whatever happened to subltety?

I suppose, since this author tends to play with such archetypes rather than breathing life into a creature of his own, it makes sense he’d build a story on such a flimsy pretext. Unfortunately, as bad as things are at the beginning of the book, things promise to get a whole lot worse by the end. Assuming, of course, I stay to the end. I might consign the kid to the fires of unreadable books long before it gets to that point.

What I would really like to see is the opposite (and occasionally, an author does present such a change) where the parent is rebellious (without being abusive) and the teenager has to deal with the moodiness. Or even better — no teenagers at all.

I used to read young adult books way into my adulthood because I enjoyed the theme of a misfit standing up to the world and its conventions, finding a fit, and becoming their own person, but I seldom come across such a storyline any more. (That also used to be plot of the Regency romances I read in my youth — the main character was always a societal misfit who ended up finding a fit. But that storyline has been suffocated under the current fad for stories that skirt the edges of porn.)

Obviously, I can’t do anything about books with horrid teenagers except not read them, and if I had time to go to the library, or if I had other book to read, I wouldn’t give this one another minute of my time.

What I can do, though, is eschew such cheapness and triteness in my own writing.

And yes, I will write another novel one day.



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

Living In Fear

Almost all new books mention, in some way, “The Bob.” Of course, the authors don’t know enough to call it “The Bob,” so they call the virus by other names that don’t really mean much. It was bad enough living through the upheaval; it’s a whole lot worse having to relive it in books. Sometimes, the reference is simply a placeholder, to give people an idea of when the story takes place, which is never a good idea because it dates the book, and readers in the next few years who prefer only current books won’t be interested. Other times The Bob is a major plot point. Either way, it doesn’t interest me. It seems perhaps sacrilegious to say this, considering the trauma so many people suffered during the past year and a half, but whether The Bob is mentioned merely to set the time or is an intricate part of the plot, it seems . . . trite. And even worse than trite — a cheap shot to get people personally involved in the story instead of using good writing to get engage readers.

I could be wrong, of course. Others might like to see their “Bob” experiences from a different point of view, to gain a bit of perspective.

The author of the book I am currently reading talks about how worn down people are from more than a year of worrying about their families and themselves; how weary they are of having to wear masks and keep their distance from others; how exhausted they are from isolation and loneliness and grief; and especially, how tired they are of living in fear.

I do understand that many people got deathly sick, that loved ones died, that some people suffered tremendously from isolation, but those things alone, I would think, would preclude people from reading about the horrors they lived through.

Notice I say, “the horrors they lived through.” Despite what I wrote in the first paragraph, that it was “bad enough living through the upheaval,” the truth is, for me, it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it made no difference to my life. Well, except for the mask, but since I was seldom around people and seldom went into a store, I rarely had to wear it.

I never worried about myself, never was afraid, never was lonely (except for a few times that had nothing to do with The Bob). Most of the people I cared about were already dead, and those still alive were taking care of themselves. I didn’t have any travel plans to call off, and as for local events, I’d mostly stopped going to those before they got cancelled. (I’d gained too much weight for one thing; the food was generally something I shouldn’t eat, for another.)

So I stayed home and read. I did see a few people, but always the same ones — the woman I worked for as well as an occasional friend or two. And that is exactly the life I would have lived even if The Bob had never made itself known.

I’m not denigrating anyone’s experience. I know it was a rough time for a lot of people, but it does seem strange to me that in this, as in so much else, what might be good for one person is terrible for another. Still, we each have our own nemeses.

I don’t know if it’s true, but I read that women with O positive blood got The Bob less frequently and not as bad as people with other blood types (it has to do with the protein coating on the cells). Unfortunately, it is definitely true that women with O positive blood are especially tasty to mosquitoes that carry various deadly viruses.

It just goes to show, if one thing doesn’t get us, something else will, though with the mosquitoes as with The Bob, I do the best I can. I won’t live in fear.


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.

Plots and Plots

I’m reading a book with four subplots — or rather four co-plots since none of the plotlines seem to have more importance than any other. That’s not a problem. I can keep four different plots in my head. The problem is that all four subplots are exactly the same, only with different names, though too many of the names are similar, making it even harder to distinguish the various plots. Each subplot has a bad-guy group and a good-guy group chasing each other with frequent pauses for a fight. The good guys want something the bad guys don’t want them to have — some sort of knowledge about a plague originating in ancient Egypt. At least, that’s what I think they want. Just as I sort of figure out what one group is actually after, the author switches to a different group. I have a hunch he thinks this keeps up the suspense, but all it does is put me to sleep.

Generally, when I get a book that bores the heck out of me, I skip to the end to find out what happened, and then forget it. With this book, I’m afraid that if I skipped to the end, I won’t know what happened. There’s also the possibility that if I don’t skip to the end and continue to plod through four plotlines that echo each other, I still won’t know what happened.

Is it any wonder I am weeding instead of reading?

Today I dug up more weeds, way more than I planned to. The ground had just enough dampness left from the last rain to be crumbly, so it was much easier to dig into than when the ground was sodden (and incredibly easier than when it was dry), so I continued working until that plot of ground was finished.

Hey! Plots and plots! Although I didn’t plan to wrap this blog around the theme of plots — story plots and garden plots — it tickles me that it happened.

I hope I finish the book soon so I can find something fun to read to allow me to sit still long enough to rest up from my outside labors. I did set aside the multiple-plot book for a while and read a single-plot book; unfortunately, that one was just as boring.

Even if the next book doesn’t keep my interest, it won’t matter. We’re returning to 100-degree temperatures (or close enough) for a while, and even a boring book won’t send me outside when it’s that hot.

Besides, I really do need to rest up. Starting next week, the plants and bulbs I ordered will be arriving, and I’ll have to be doing a lot more digging. I’m hoping digging to put plants in the soil will be easier than digging to pull things out, but I have a hunch digging is digging, whether it’s digging into the plot of a boring book or digging into a plot of weed-infested land.


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.

Putting the Brakes to Monday

It seems as if it’s been only a couple of days since I wrote about the pattern of my Mondays, yet here it is, Monday again. And the pattern remains the same: I got up, did my knee exercises, made my bed, folded my quota of origami cranes, dealt two cards for a simple tarot reading, checked a few things on the computer, then drove to the mechanic’s shop.

The difference between this Monday and the previous three or four is that instead of chatting with the mechanic for a few minutes while we rescheduled the appointment for the following Monday is that he wasn’t there to chat with. The shop was closed, which didn’t surprise me. The poor fellow is dealing with some post-Bob issues, and even all these months later, isn’t back to his normal healthy self. In fact, the last time I talked to him, he hadn’t been doing well at all.

I’ll check back with him in a few days to see how he is doing and to reschedule an appointment to get my brakes fixed. They seem to work okay, but the brake warning light comes on when I depress the brake pedal. The problem could be one of the brake cylinders. Three were replaced, but the VW parts place sent the wrong part in the right box, so that fourth cylinder has to be replaced as well as — perhaps — the master cylinder. Because my brakes seem to work for the light driving I currently do — a few miles out and back on the four-lane highway outside of town — I can wait a while longer. But eventually, the brake work will have to be done.

As on previous Mondays, after I left the mechanic’s shop, I stopped by the library and got a stack of books. It’s really nice not having to lug a satchel full of books on foot, so I indulge myself on Monday and get plenty to read.

I hope these books are better than the last batch I got. Those were all recently published books, and the good guys weren’t readily distinguishable from the bad guys. I’m all for a bit of ambiguity in books, but a couple of the authors went so far as to make the story so ambiguous that I had no idea if the good guy was the bad guy or the bad guy was the good guy or if both were reprehensible. A couple of the books used the cliché of multiple personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder). In one book, the good guy was also the bad guy. In the other book, we never find out.

I don’t need truly heroic characters, though I do like them, nor do I need characters I can identify with, though it does make a book more personal, but I do need characters that I don’t mind spending a few hours with.

I’m hoping at least a couple of characters in this current batch of books will be worth getting to know, but if not, well, the library is just a few blocks away. I don’t have to wait until Monday to replenish my stock, I can go any time.

Besides, one of these days, I will be putting the brakes to my Monday pattern because the car will be fixed.

At least, that’s the plan.


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