Time for Reflection (and Clearing My Head) at Tallulah Gorge

Last Friday I went back to Tallulah Gorge. The last time I hiked to the bottom and then back up. I was so sore and tired that it took me two days to recover. Today I did not want a super strenuous hike, and so I did not go to the bottom. Instead I needed to take a break from my usual routine to think about some writing ideas and to clear my head.

 

A short distance from the Interpretive Center (visitor’s center) I took the right fork to the trail along the North Rim Trail. I walked down the steep series of staircases to the suspension bridge stretching over the Tallulah River. Whenever I cross this bridge I think about the Bridge of Death and the Gorge of Eternal Peril in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

 

On the other side of the bridge I came to a fork. The left fork led to the bottom of Hurricane Falls, which is where I went last time. The right fork led to the South Rim Trail. Both are difficult hikes, which was not my purpose this time. I instead sat on a bench near the fork to relax and think.

I leaned back against the railing and closed my eyes. I felt the cool air and mild breeze and listened to the water falling over the waterfall under the bridge. I have written previously on how I was unable to find a job in my chosen field (Christian ministry and research). While sitting on this bench I thought about how not working in my field has been difficult. Maybe someday I can do work in ministry or research, but for now I to make plans elsewhere. Making this decision has been difficult, but I need to consider my current financial needs.

I also thought about writing. I thought briefly about a story idea I had almost a year ago. So far I only have the opening paragraphs and some basic concepts. I want to write some fiction, but something in me, which feels like a blockage or a dry well, prevents me from developing my ideas. While on this hike I carried two small notebooks in my back pocket: my general writing notebook (in which I wrote notes for this post) and my fiction notebook. The fiction notebook is nearly filled with notes and writing fragments, and so why is there a blockage? On the one hand, I can analyze and write about ideas (my education is in theology), but I struggle with writing fiction. On the other hand, fiction is one of the most effective vehicles with which to explore ideas. Consider, for example, such movies as Saving Private Ryan (the horrors and ethics of war) and Minority Report (the relationship between foreknowledge and free will). I could use fiction to present ideas and still use my education if I could clear this block in my head.

I then walked back across the suspension bridge. As I reached the other side the sound of Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factorysinging, “Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination” ran through my head. That was strange. Interesting timing, however.

During the difficult climb up the stairs I was glad that I did not go to the bottom of the gorge. At the top I sat on a bench near the ledge overlooking the L’Eau d’Or Falls and Hawthorne pool. I felt my heart pumping hard from the climb and then felt it slow down.

I walked back to the fork near the Interpretive Center and continued down the left fork toward the Wallenda tower. Along the way I passed this tree in the middle of the trail.

This tree intrigued me the last time I hiked here. What an odd place for a tree – in the middle of a trail. This time I stopped, looked at it for a while, and considered a “what if” scenario. I thought of the scene in Stranger Things when Joyce Byers crawls through a tree and enters the Upside Down. What if I could do that with this tree? A tree in the middle of a trail seemed to be the appropriate place for such a portal (but preferably somewhere less dangerous than the Upside Down).

At the North Wallenda tower, I spoke briefly with a couple who had a Rat Terrier dog. The wife said he was a Katrina rescue, a dog from Louisiana who was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. No doubt that was a frightening experience for him, but he now has a family who loves him.

I then walked the trail to Inspiration Point. On the way I sat on a large boulder to think for a while. On the other side of the trail was a partially uprooted tree.

Building on my what-if scenario regarding the tree in the trail, I imagined crawling under this tree to an underground realm like in the movies Legend and Pan’s Labyrinth. (I do not believe that such worlds exist, but they make fun stories. I have always liked stories with fantasy themes.)

I walked back to my car and drove to Hartwell so that I could get my groceries. I stopped for dinner on the way and began writing the rough draft for this post. When I arrived at home, my cat was waiting for me at the top of the steps as usual. I did not get much business done today, and I did not do much packing for my upcoming move, but I think it was nonetheless a fruitful day.

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Pondering the Waterfall

I am not artistic. I also am not a connoisseur of art, but I do appreciate some paintings and drawings.. I am not the type who frequents art museums, but I will occasionally visit if there is a special exhibit that grabs my attention. For example, one time while I was living near Raleigh, the museum in Raleigh had a special exhibit of Renaissance art, including some pencil drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci. Renaissance art has long caught my interest because of the theological and philosophical themes. Raphael’s “School of Athens” is one of my favorites.

I also enjoy the drawings of M. C. Escher. The way he portrays structures that could not exist in three dimensional space is intriguing. I have a few of his drawings in my den where I have my writing desk. I do not know why, but I had the idea of staring at my Escher’s “Waterfall” picture until an idea hit me. I suppose one could call it a focused brainstorming session.

“Waterfall” shows a building with a waterfall. The water at the bottom flows through an aqueduct back to the top and then down the waterfall again but without actually flowing uphill. Yes, this does not make sense in three dimensional space, but that is the fun of Escher’s drawings.

I soon wondered how the people in the drawing deal with evaporation. The geometry allows the water to continually travel the aqueduct and waterfall, but some would evaporate. Eventually the cycle would cease. Maybe they live in an enclosed biosphere which recycles the water. The background landscape could be the interior surface of the enclosure. If so, then it is a small enclosure.

I also noticed a man near the bottom watching the waterfall, perhaps pondering something. Maybe he is considering the same things as I am. Well, not exactly the same because the geometry of his world, while it is unusual to me, is probably normal to him. Nonetheless, maybe he is pondering how the water is recycled and how to maintain the cycle.

I also wonder how they retrieve water which splashes from the bottom of the waterfall. Maybe the man is pondering a solution to that. The woman also needs water to wash her laundry. Are they husband and wife? I do not see other people. Maybe the building is their house. Where are the other people? Are these two alone? Why are they inside the enclosure?

I do not know what Escher intended to communicate when he drew Waterfall. The musing above are merely my personal speculations. I firmly believe in authorial intent when interpreting writing and art, and so I will defer to Escher in determining the proper meaning of the drawing. Nonetheless, it can be fun to let one’s imagination go wild just for fun.

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When Ideas Just Will Not Come

What do you do when ideas just do not flow? I have always struggled with writing fiction. Whenever I was assigned to write a story in high school I would be stressed. What would I write?! Now I have ideas for stories, but I find myself struggling to give them life. I have time to think about them at work, and sometimes I do. I try to imagine how to fill the gaps, to give substance to the ideas. Some of the ideas could make some cool stories in the speculative fiction genre, but I struggle to bring them further that just ideas in a notebook.

Maybe fiction just is not my kind of writing. That is fine. Not everyone has that niche. Still, I want to do something with the ideas in my head. I want to bring them out for other people to see, but it feels like the imagination gears in my head are too rusty to move. Meanwhile, the ideas are waving at me, asking to come out.

I am asking for advice from more experienced writers. What do you do when you are completely stuck? What do you do when an idea refuses to be anything more than an idea? Feel free to share this post with writers who may have advice. I am open to learn whatever I can.

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A Brief Pause Is Needed

For several weeks I will need to slow down my writing. I need to find a new place to live and then pack, move, and unpack. I am sure everyone reading this knows how much time that takes. I will post when I can, and during the weeks when I cannot post I will still try to work on posts currently in progress.

 

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A Cell Phone in the Oasis

I have commented briefly in other posts on how people are addicted to their cell phones today. For example, sometimes when I am standing in line at a restaurant I will notice the people. I often see people who are sitting together, but they are looking at their phones rather than looking at each other. One time I saw a family eating at a Wendy’s. While I waited for my food, I noticed that the mother was looking at her phone the entire time, not her family. For this reason I will avoid using mine when I am in line. Recently when I was picking up some dinner on the way home from work I left my phone in my car and instead brought in my notebook so that I could brainstorm some ideas while waiting.

Reading Ready Player One has brought back a question I considered a few years ago. Suppose programmers and engineers did develop a fully immersive virtual reality which provided data for all five senses, or at least for the eyes, ears and touch. Maybe something similar to the Oasis, or the Matrix (but not so malevolent). Suppose it seemed as genuine as the real world or close enough to hold a person’s attention for hours. Would some people still feel compelled to have a virtual cell phone to communicate with other people linked to the system? Would some people want a VR version of texting, Facebook, or Snapchat? Would they speak to each other “face to face” (in a VR sense), or would they still want to speak through a handheld device. When people in the real world are accustomed to communicating through a handheld device, how well would they do if all communication in the VR system had to be face to face (in a VR sense)? In Ready Player One people communicate in both ways. They have virtual email and texting, but they also meet in person, avatar to avatar. If such technology were invented and released to the pubic tomorrow, how would people today operate and communicate in the virtual world?

Science fiction has long been a great vehicle for social commentary, maybe because the genre is speculative from the outset and therefore fits naturally with ‘what if” questions. This would be an interesting premise for a story. Such a story could provide some useful speculation about where our society might be headed.

I see many other potential pros and cons to such a virtual reality system. I hope to address them in a future post.

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Looking Back – Aftermath of a Hurricane

In the fall of 1996 I was living in Wake Forest, NC while in school, and I was working as a stocker and janitor at a gas station in Raleigh. When Hurricane Fran hit the NC coast, it came far inland and the eye passed Raleigh.

I was at work when Fran hit Raleigh and had to drive home through the storm. It was not as bad as it would have been on the coast, but it was not a fun drive. The entire campus and most or all of the town lost power that night. Some houses in the area were damaged. Fortunately, no buildings on campus were significantly damaged, and I do not think anyone I knew was injured.

Trees throughout the area fell. Some trees on campus were broken in half by the storm. I saw one that appeared to be twisted in half. Some trees were not broken but instead fell because the ground was so saturated with rain that the roots could not hold on to anything. That was likely the case with the tree below. Notice how much of the tree came out of the ground.

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After that storm I had no power for about four days. I had to finish my school work before I went to work each day because I had no light when I returned home. Some locals in the area were becoming so frustrated with the slow progress of restoring power that they were becoming aggressive toward the work crews. The men were doing the best they could, but they had lines down everywhere. It was a huge mess.

I did not have all of the food I wanted for a few days, but I found enough non-perishable food to sustain me. I did okay. Some other items were hard to find. For example, flashlight batteries were sold out everywhere. The Winn Dixie in Wake Forest received a truck load of bread, but it sold out in about thirty minutes. For a few days I had to empty the outside ice cooler at work and bring the ice inside in case someone tried to steal the ice during off hours. It was a good thing that I did because one morning when the owner opened the station he found that someone had cut the lock off of the outside cooler.

One night some other students and I drove around looking for a place to eat. Almost everything was closed because of the power outage. Eventually we found that a Golden Corral was open (probably the one on Capital Blvd), but when we were about to go inside someone came out and told us that they ran out of food. Yes, the restaurant with seemingly unending buffets ran out of food. I have never seen that before or since, but they were probably the only restaurant in the immediate area that was open. They were guaranteed a large crowd.

After power was restored, crews worked for weeks to clean up the fallen trees. Of course, this storm was nowhere nearly as devastating as Katrina would be in New Orleans several years later, but it was the worst I have experienced. It also showed me how much I depended on electricity. Going without electricity for a few hours is an inconvenience. Going without it for four days is significantly different. Going without power for weeks or more . . ., well fortunately I have never needed to experience that.

 

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Reading about Writing

Before February was over I had finished six books from my 10 books Goodreads reading challenge. Well, actually 5 and a half books because I started one book late last year. For the past few years I read very little, and now my momentum has increased considerably. The challenge was exactly what I needed to recommit myself.

When I first wrote my Goodreads “to read” list I was flexible. I knew I would discover other books throughout the year, and so the list was not set in stone. Since then I have shifted my reading primarily to books about writing. These include books about the craft of writing and the proper mindset. I do not know what my future holds regarding career, but I do want to write regularly, be published, and possibly make some of my income from writing. In pursuit of that goal, I am learning what I can. Most recently I read James Scott Bell’s The Mental Game of Writing: How to Overcome Obstacles, Stay Creative and Product, and I think it contains valuable advice.

I also want to read some fiction. This serves my goal to develop my writing because I want to learn to write short fiction. I have never been good at writing fiction, but some ideas periodically nag me. I thought I should listen to that, and so I made the goal to get one short story published. Part of learning to write is reading what other people have written (both the well written and the poorly written) to see examples of what to do and what not to do. To this end I am now reading Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.

I have self-doubt about this endeavor, especially regarding fiction, but I decided that I need to make real effort to achieve it. I will not say, “Oh, that will never work” and neglect to try.

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Looking Back – My Time in Kenya

(Note: The photos in this post look degraded because they were scanned from old prints taken before I had a digital camera.)

In the summer of 1997, after my first year in seminary, I went on a short-term mission trip to Kenya. I had lived my entire life up to that point in the southeastern United States (although I had visited other states, Canada, and the Bahamas). Visiting a third world country was a time of stretching myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. When my plane at the Raleigh-Durham airport began moving, I thought, “What am I doing?!”

This trip provided a great perspective on how well we have it here in the United States. I stayed each night in Kisumu. Almost every day my group rode a van to Sondu, a rural village about an hour from Kisumu. Almost every building was made of mud and sticks with rusty tin roofs. Over the week I probably walked down every road and passed every building in this village, but I did not see any paved roads, plumbing, or electricity.

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Our task was to speak with people, explain the gospel, and invite them to meetings with the new church we were helping to start. I found most of the people to be hospitable and willing to talk. I had a translator, but most of the people knew English well enough to speak directly, with the exception of the very old and very young. It was normal for people there to know three languages: their tribal language (Luo in this village), Swahili (inter-tribal language), and English.

The church met in the dental clinic near the village entrance.

 

My professor told another student (Bryan) and me that each of us would preach one Sunday, I told him I knew nothing about writing sermons or preaching. He said not to worry because many of he preachers there did not prepare at all. They would simply preach on the fly. After some thought I decided to teach Romans 6:23. I explained each point and added some cross references to other relevant verses. Everyone was interested in what I said.

Each day in the village we would eat locally prepared foot in one of the huts. There was one vegetable that they served each time which I did not like, but I always ate some of it to be polite. The rest of the food (soup and ugali) was fine. One day when we were eating a chicken and vegetable soup, another chicken walked under my legs. I thought, “Well, there is tomorrow’s lunch.”

One day we went to the village school, which consisted off two classrooms. One of my professors and his wife spoke with grades 5-8. Bryan and I spoke to grades 1-4 (all in one room). Afterward we all went outside to take pictures.

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After we took the pictures, Bryan stretched out his hand. The children rushed both of us. I had three or four children at a time shaking each hand, all yelling with excitement.

After our work in Sondu was complete we rode the van to Brakenhurst near Nairobi and stayed there for one or two nights. During that period we visited the game preserve. I saw these lions by the road. I was probably only ten feet from these lions. Notice the good advice on the sign.

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It is an eye-opening experience to visit other countries with vastly different cultures. It provides a wider perspective on the world. It is also a time to stretch yourself by leaving what you take for granted each day. Despite the differences, however, I was welcomed by the people there. The following years at school I also formed friendships with fellow students from Kenya. I hope to visit more countries and expand my exposure even more.

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Book Review: Dear Mr. Henshaw

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary tells the story of Leigh Botts who lives with his mother while his father works as a trucker. He struggles with his parent’s divorce and conflicts at school while he also tries to develop as a writer. This book won the John Newbery Medal for The Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children.

The story is first told through a series of letters that Leigh sends to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw. Later he primarily writes diary entries. My mother gave me this book when I was in fourth grade. When I first tried to read it I did not understand its format. It looked like a collection of letters rather than a story. My mother told me that the story is told through the letters. I tried it again, and after I became accustomed to the format I grew to love the story.

Plot Summary

(The story is fragmented because it is told through letters and diary entries, and so this summary will be a bit fragmented. I have done what I can to smooth it out without compromising the story.)

Leigh writes his first letter to author Boyd Henshaw when he is in second grade. At this point his parents, Bill and Bonnie, are already divorced. He writes to Henshaw a few more times in third, fourth, and fifth grade. When he is in sixth grade he writes more consistently. He also sends Henshaw a list of questions for a class report. Henshaw does not respond in time and then sends silly answers and his own list of questions. Leigh is angered by the silly answers, and at first refuses to answer the questions, but his mother insists. Through the answers we learn more about Leigh.

Leigh is an average boy: average height and not athletic, not especially gifted but not dumb either. His parents’ marriage suffered because Bill’s payments to buy his rig made it impossible for the family to move out of their mobile home. Bonnie also did not like not knowing where he was when he drove cross-country. After the divorce, Leigh and Bonnie moved into a small house in Pacific Grove, CA. Bonnie now works part-time for a catering company. Her employer Katy usually sends something special home for Leigh’s school lunch. Bonnie is also studying to be a Licensed Vocational Nurse.

When Leigh’s parents divorced, Bill took their dog Bandit because Bonnie could not work and care for a dog, and Bandit helps Bill stay awake on long drives. Bandit likes riding. In fact, Bill found him at a truck stop.

Leigh thinks school is okay. He is in a new school, and so he does not have many friends. He wishes some of them would invite him to their house. He does not have a favorite teacher, but he likes the custodian Mr. Fridley. Leigh is also frustrated because someone at school keeps stealing the special item in his lunch that Katy sends home for him.

Sometimes Bonnie needs to leave for work early. Leigh does not like to stay at home alone in the morning, and so he leaves for school. He is not supposed to be on school grounds too early, and so he hides in the bushes. He misses his father and wishes he would show up someday and drive him to school.

Leigh did not want to answer Henshaw’s questions but when he finishes them he realizes he enjoys writing, and Henshaw did tell him that the way to become an author is to write. He considers writing a story called The Great Lunchbag Mystery.

Henshaw suggests he keep a diary. When Leigh tries it his mind is blank, and so Henshaw suggests he pretend he is writing a letter. The next several entries in this book are pretend letters with  few real letters to Henshaw.

One day he writes a fake name on his lunch bag to fool the thief, The trick works for a while, but then the thief learns the bag belongs to Leigh. Fridley suggests a burglar alarm (probably making a joke). One day Leigh wraps his bag in tape, but then he struggles to open it at lunch

Leigh is frustrated by his parents divorce, and he and misses his father. He keeps waiting for a Christmas present, and then another trucker delivers a package from Bill. Leigh is also frustrated when his father forgets to send the support check. He asks Bonnie why she does not remarry. She says the right kind of man is hard to find. Leigh worries about how hard she works, and he wonders if his father is not very interested in him.

Leigh’s teacher tells him his school and some other schools will print stories by young writers and that the winner will have lunch with a famous author, She suggests that Leigh write a story. He hopes that the famous author will be Henshaw.

Henshaw previously told Leigh to write like Leigh, not someone else, but Leigh struggles to think of a story that does not sound like another writer. In the meantime he is frustrated because his father forgets to call, despite his promise to call. His mother used to ride with his father before he was born, and so he wonders if the divorce is his fault.

As more days pass without a call from Bill, Leigh grows angry. He is also angry at Bonnie for divorcing Bill. Eventually Leigh cannot wait anymore and calls his father’s home in Bakersfield. Bill is home and answers. He says he lost Bandit while he stopped to put chains on his tires due to snow. He looked until he was forced to leave to avoid being stranded by the highway closure. Leigh then hears another child in the background ask about getting pizza, apparently the son of a new girlfriend. Leigh cannot take it and hangs up.

The next day Leigh feels terrible that his father took another boy out to get pizza. When his mother comes home he tells her about Bandit ans asks why she married Bill and why she stopped loving him. She explains they married too young. She did not have a good life at home, and there was not much to do in her town. When Bill arrived in his big truck she was entranced, and so they went to Las Vegas to be married. She rode with Bill until Leigh was born but grew tired of it, and then Bill was away most of the time. When Leigh learns that his mother grew tired of life on the road he concludes that maybe he is not to blame for the divorce. Bonnie also thinks that maybe she grew up, but Bill did not.

The next day Leigh is angry because his lunch bag was robbed again. He complains to Mr. Fridley that he has no friends at the school. Fridley asks who would want to be a friend to someone who always scowls. A few days later he begins plans to equip a lunch box with an alarm. He also begins a story for the writing contest. Bill sends a letter apologizing for losing Bandit and encloses $20.

Leigh writes to Henshaw asking for help on his story. Henshaw says a character should solve a problem or change. Leigh sees that does not work with his story, and so he considers writing something other than a story. He then returns to writing in his diary.

Leigh borrows books from the school library to study electricity and then uses the $20 to buy parts for a lunch box alarm. The next day at school no one steals from his lunch box. When he opens the box during lunch he sets off the alarm. This attracts attention from teachers, staff, and other students. Another boy, Barry, says he wants an alarm on his bedroom door, and the next day he invites Leigh to his house to help him build one. No one steals from Leigh’s lunch again, and so he stops setting the alarm.

Instead of a story or poem, Leigh decides to write about a time he rode in his father’s truck. He includes details about gear shifting on steep grades, hawks on the telephone lines, and the leaves on the trees.

A few days later he invites Barry to his house for dinner. Barry enjoys a break from his sisters and step-sisters, and Leigh appreciates having a friend.

The next day Leigh asks Bonnie whether Bill will remarry. She doubts he can afford it because of the payments he makes on his truck. Leigh then asks her why she and Bill do not remarry. She says Bill will never grow up.

The next day at school, Leigh looks through the writer’s yearbook. He only won Honorable Mention. He is disappointed, but he is happy to see his name in print. Some of the children who did not win anything at all are angry and say they will never write again, which Leigh thinks is dumb. He also learns that the author is Angela Badger who writes books about girls. Leigh sill wants to meet her because she is a real author.

Later that week Leigh learns that the winning poem had been plagiarized, and so he is given the chance to have lunch with Mrs. Badger instead. At the lunch Leigh sits across from her. While Leigh tries to think of something to say, some girls tell Mrs. Badger they want to write books “exactly like hers.” She then praises Leigh’s work, “A Day on Dad’s Rig” because “it was written by a boy who wrote honestly about something he knew and had strong feelings about” and because it let her feel what it was like to ride in the truck. She compliments him for writing like him and not trying to imitate another author and says that is “one mark of a good writer.” She also tells Leigh about the time she met Henshaw. On the way home Leigh thinks about how Badger called him an author and told him to “keep it up.” When he is at home that night writing in his diary about the events of the day, Leigh wishes his father were home so that he could tell him about it

That weekend Leigh is out with his friend Barry when he sees a truck without a trailer parked outside his house. He runs home and finds his father and Bandit. Bill says he asked about Bandit every day on his CB. He and another driver who found Bandit were at the same weigh station one day, and so Bill retrieved him. When Bonnie arrives at home she invites Bill inside and offers him a cup of coffee. Leigh shows him his lunch box alarm.

While sitting with their coffee Bill tells Bonnie he misses her. He asks her if there is any chance for them. She says “no” because of the lonely days, waiting for calls, and broken promises. When he leaves he tells Leigh he will try to visit more often, but Leigh does not count on it. He offers to let Leigh keep Bandit, but Leigh tells Bill to keep him. After Bill leaves, Leigh feels happy to have seen him, but he feels sad as well.

Comments

Dear Mr. Henshaw is an interesting story for many reasons. Leigh struggles with many difficulties common to children, such as needing a friend and adjusting to a new school. The story also explores in depth the difficulty of growing up with divorced parents and missing his father. My parents never divorced, and so I cannot personally identify with Leigh. This story, however, does a great job of showing how hard it is for him.

Leigh learns some important lessons on writing. Henshaw tells him that to learn to be a writer, he needs to “read, look, listen, think, and write.” He also needs to write like him, not someone else. I wonder if Cleary was trying to help young aspiring writers when she wrote this story.

I read this story probably several times as a child, and I enjoyed reading it again as an adult. If you want to encourage your child to read, then I highly recommend this book.

 

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Arwen Continues to Amuse Me

My cat Arwen continues to provide amusement. A month or so ago I was sitting at my desk when I noticed her rolling on the floor in the corner. That was strange, and so I asked, “Buddy, what are you doing?!” I then remembered that her catnip ball was in that corner. I thought the ball would be a good toy because she enjoys a catnip-scented mouse. It did not go as I had hoped. She mostly ignored the ball when I first gave it to her, and so I thought I had wasted my money on it. A few weeks later she suddenly became interested. She does not play with it often, but she occasionally enjoys it.

The best toy for her is a scented toy mouse. I have a small ziplock bag of catnip. I put a cheap toy mouse in it for at least a few hours, maybe days, and then I give it to her. She goes crazy. See the results for yourself.

 

A few months ago I found a treat she enjoys. She did not care about the brand of treats I gave to Oscar, and so for quite some time I did not give her treats. A few months ago I decided to try Temptations. Wow. She loves them. I do not even know which flavor is her favorite because she loves every one she has tried, but I like to give her the catnip flavor.

I like to spoil her, and so I enjoy watching her reaction to these treats. Whenever she first comes inside, she often jumps onto the kitchen table where I keep them. If she is already inside, she also might jump up when she sees me walk into the kitchen. I know what she wants. If I then pick up the bag, she sometimes rubs it in anticipation.

As much as I enjoy spoiling her, however, I need to keep some discipline. She can act like a child who only wants to eat desert, but she needs to eat food too. If she has had enough treats for that day, then I will tell her to eat her food or go outside and catch something.

These treats are also useful if I want to know where she is. When I leave for work I put her outside. She loves to roam and would hate to be trapped inside alone all day. If I want to make sure she did not slip back inside while I was preparing to leave, then I shake her treats. If she hears it, she will come running. I cannot disappoint her after doing that, but I do not mind giving her some in those situations. I like seeing her happy.

 

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