Merrrry. . . what? (hm-m-m)
Fie on me for (again!) not getting out Christmas greetings.
Definition: "Fie,” used to express distaste or disapproval; 14th century, now obsolete.
(Whatever happened to the word "fie?” I speak from a vagabond childhood. From kindergarten through 6th grade, I attended school in 4 states — 6 different schools — and my recollection is that "fie” was a standard schoolyard taunt. (eg: "Fie on Mertyl May! Fie on Mertyl Mae! She peed her pants!”) But I doubt I’ve heard it since, aside from Shakespeare of course.)
So, anyway. . . thanks to those of you who sent me holiday greetings. For those who didn’t, I really do understand. Time is short and I am old. I’m glad your holidays were happy and your version of 2012 highly satisfactory. As mine have been.
I finished off my holidays on the weekend of January 5–6, 2013. Grandson Ryan, and his fiancee Valerie, drove down from Detroit for a wild weekend of feasting and video viewing at Jill’nJack’s.
The main event (for me, anyway, tho it was Kristen’s choice) was the super epic, Happy Feet II, a feast for the heart and the over-all sensorium; I say that in all honesty. With the possible exception of
Jimmy Stewart’s "Harvey” (1950), "Happy Feet II” is my all-time favorite movie.
As for "Harvey,” I first watched it as a student, in the theater across the street from The Town Pump, a bar in Lansing, Michigan. As I came out (of the theater not the bar), I was still in the mood of the film, and it occurred to me that I could never again be angry! Ever! Me: John Jerry Jones. Honest to gosh! I was mistaken, of course, but that gives you an idea of how sweetly influential was "Harvey,” certainly as portrayed by James Stewart. It seeded the possibility. So I watch it again every few years. (Hi, Judy! Hi, Kristen! Thanks for watching with me in 2012. Ian, did we ever watch Harvey together? I know we watched "Happy Feet I” when it was going around.) That was maybe 60 years after I first watched Harvey! Time does fly!
On the Health Front
I am still alive and chugging along. The tremors are somewhat reduced by medication. I still get around without a cane, but until very recently I was on full-time supplemental oxygen. Then, at the beginning of February I went for 30 hours without food, fluids, and supplemental oxygen for intensive tests. . . and my blood oxygen never went below 97% saturation. So they left me off the oxygen machine except during workouts, and when I moved (again!) in early mid-February, with the doctors’ approval, I weaned myself entirely off the oxygen machine, and flew tubeless to Washington state’s Tri- Cities (to a science-fiction convention, RadCon). Still with an escort though, being clinically absent-minded.
And yes, I still work out — "sissy workouts” — and retain enuf strength and flexibility to go up and down stairs, and enuf balance to stand on one foot (either foot) for 15 seconds; also walk backwards in slow circles with my eyes closed. However, reduced hand/eye coordination makes my handwriting poor. I can sometimes write quite neatly — but slowly — if I can rest my right hand and forearm on the table.
Reduced hand-eye coordination
Gail’s big sister Shirley is 94, and beats me hands down; she has very good handwriting. She also still drives, and plays cards with her pals. But I’m pleased to do as well as I do.
More of a problem is hand-eye coordination. I have entirely lost the the ability to "touch-type” — 8 fingers and 2 thumbs tapping and clicking on automatic, filling up the pages. Now I am mainly a two- finger typist, or one finger if my tremor turns on.
A year ago, at the end of Jamuary 2012, I moved again, out of an ”assisted living” apartment to a pleasant and much more affordable apartment, on the shore of a pleasant pond replete with waterfowl — numerous families of mallard ducks, noisy but interesting Canada geese, and the occasional visiting great blue heron (normal adult wingspan 70 inches). (Incidentally, that’s heron, not herring; can you imagine a 70-inch herring? HOO-EEE!) The shore trees are baldcypress and white pine, an unlikely combination. The white pine
sappear to be the Appalachian variety; the cypress here are at the northern fringe of their distribution.
On March 3, 2013, I moved again. Left Arbors of Dublin, with its 4acre pond and its gaggle of Canadaa geese and flock of mallard ducks. The waterfowl are not the only immigrants there-abouts: many or most of the human residents at Arbors of Dublin are young Asians, notably from India, employed as computer professionals. With the cutest little kids! I seemed to be the only graybeard at Dublin Arbors.
Matter-of-fact, I had a bushy, nearly white beard from ear to ear almost till Christmas. But it had become a problem. I take lots of pills, some of which are tiny, and sometimes I’d find one of the littler pills in the darnedest places. Especially on my pillow! Huh?
Turned out that when I poked them in the direction of my mouth, one or more would sometimes get captured by the underbrush and end up on the carpet or in the bedding. And no doubt in the vacuum cleaner.
So I tidied up my act and my face, and shaved — which confused the help, who for awhile didn’t recognize me despite the oxygen tube! If Kristen or Jill, or Jack, take a picture of the new me soon enuf, I‘ll attach it to this newsletter.
I now live at Avondale (senior residence), which is sort of a halfway house for old folks, between ordinary apartment living and assisted living.
About books in the making: I’ve set aside the Tea River manuscript for the time being, because of priorites and because my typing has become too slow. But I now have a pretty good idea of how I’ll end it.
As for my past books, my good friends, companions of my old age — they are not trendy (tho that may well change). The trend just now is for extreme intensity, the more the better. Maximum intensity! Exploding cars hurtling through the air. Some very intense books are also very good, but not all very good books are intense.
Fortunately for me, there is still a market for less intense stories. . . even contemplative stories, stories that explore ideas, the psyche (Armfelt, oh my) — even love stories. And with the growth of computer publishing — both for "print books” (on paper) and eBooks
— small publishing houses are becoming more and more economically feasible, taking advantage of niche markets, digital storage, print-on-demand, and unknown or little-known authors. For these, the problems tend to be promotion and quality. Gifted amateurs can find publishers, but may go to press before they’ve adequately learned their trade. But if an author has a "following” — of people who keep an eye out, watching for their books in stores — reverted books can provide a toe-hold for new, usually small publishers. I now have three such novels in the pipeline with Sky Warriors Books. Here’s one way that works: "A traditional publisher” buys the rights to publish and sell a new novel — say The Walkaway Clause. In the natural order of things, after a time sales dwindle, bookstores stop re-ordering it, and it becomes unavailable — goes "out of print.” The author then may request that the publisher "revert” the rights back to said author, who then can sell "the rights” to another publisher.
Sky Warriors now has my 2005 novel The Second Coming, available as an eBook, and it will soon be available in paperback. The sequel, The Signature of God, is in process; also a straight science fiction novel, Soldiers!, which had excellent sales stats in its previous lifetime. I have several more in various stages of renovation.
My historical documentary, Armfelt, is now with my agent, but hasn’t found a home yet.
Science Fiction conventions have been important in my life since my first, MosCon in 1982, at Moscow, Idaho. "Cons,” as they are called, are like weekend family reunions, attended by hundreds, often thousands, of readers, authors, artists, dealers, gamers, musicians, costumers and party goers, hosted by volunteers, featuring panel
discussions, gaming, costuming, dueling, an art show, auctions, author readings, writing workshops, parties, scotch taste-offs, parties, bizarre beverages, parties, good-fellowship, and. . . did I mention parties? In my hey day I’ve attended as many as six cons in a year. In 2012, I attended two: RadCon in Washington state’s Tri- Cities on President’s Day weeked; and MisCon at Missoula Montana on Memorial Day weekend. They are dear to my heart, and I hope to continue attending as long as health and financing permit.
What other Travel? I haven’t gotten to Kansas since 2008, I believe it was. From 1955 to about 2000, Gail and I seldom failed to get there at least once a year, often twice. Except during our brief divorce, and even then I got there twice — 1978 and 1979, to see Gail. I just may make it this year again, too; I’m working on an angle. But. . . in the words of the immortal Shakespeare. . . "pray hold not thy breath, lest thou swooneth.” (He must have said that sometime, no?)
I keep threatening to re-energize my website. More photos from the past. More reviews. More invited reviews. More discussions. Maybe this spring or summer.
John / Casey / Jerry / Onkel Sven / Dalmas / Jones