The Web?

The Austrian coffee maker is still humming along well over two years later. Wow!

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Have you tried to buy a coffee maker lately? It has certain similarities to an experience at a casino in Vegas.

When Kris and I had our coffee maker’s carafe die we changed brands allowing the Web to determine out best value in a new device. That value flooded our counter in about two weeks.

Given the new maker’s rapid demise, we simply replaced the carafe on our old one. But woefully the pitcher died a slow death, cracking slowly with its final wash.

This time we chose a glowing new model by the same company as our old, now-uncarafed, device. It wreaked of stainless steel and elegant industrial design, the Tesla of coffee makers.

I noticed on this new trip around the web I found questions like, Why does our coffee maker and coffee smell like an ash tray?

Woe, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, our new coffee…

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The Bumps

So I use these pudgy fingers on my cellphone to tap in my passwords. Sometimes my eyes are a bit groggy or my pace is more than it should be and I get the rejection notice.

Rejection gets more stressful if I get to strike two because at strike three the system thinks I am a cat burglar and leaves me waiting a half hour before I can return to tap again. I finally learned, after repeated mishaps, to hit the show password button, when available, and patiently slow down. I am a little thick.

Slowing down has also helped me negotiate the world of new streaming choices on our smart TV. Now that’s a journey with multiple options.

I suppose the bumpy road that is the most irksome is when I actually need to call a vendor to speak to a non-robot. First the buck is passed a few times. Then, I finally get to the tech person who puts me on hold and am soon disconnected. It has happened to you. Right?

On the other hand these are exceedingly small bumps in the road, at 77, relative to the enormous gift of the breath of life. When the bumps slow me down they are after all lessons in patience that I do need. So much for the bumps.

The Joys of a Good Read

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” ~Joyce Carol Oates (

Wow. What a privilege it is to step inside another’s thoughts. Especially, since, usually, their work is copiously edited to fully engage us.

I hope you have found the Pandemic an opportunity to read more frequently. I think that by inhabiting the mind of another our lives become richer. We discover how much we share in this life. We can fill our thoughts with other historical periods, places, and perspectives.

We feel a little more of what it means to be human. May God bless those literary choices for you.

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“Writing is show business for shy people.” Lee Child, the pen name of the British writer James D. Grant. Maybe he is so shy, he does not want us to know his name.

I think verbal story telling gets me past most of my shyness. It makes conversation more palatable for me. The process goes down easier.

I remember as a child being on a televised kids’ show. The emcee asked me a question, and I was silent and numb.

I never really thought about my shyness much until I read this. But I think Mr. Grant has a point. It also seems a matter of degrees, as I am only somewhat shy.

Perhaps I am short-winded because of my shyness. Although, even writing I prefer short blogs and novelettes.

So, where are you on that scale?


On the surface…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“After a certain number of years, our faces become our biographies.”Cynthia Ozick, an American novelist. Lincoln said in a similar vein, “Every man over forty is responsible for his face.”

Interesting subjective remarks. Large cheeked people tend not to facially wrinkle. People with symmetrical faces tend to have better looks than others, age aside.

It took Abe a while to find a general who could get it done, Ulysses Grant. He was an average looking little guy whose non-military career was problematic. I wonder if Grant’s face after 40 revealed his troubling times. Did Abe disregard his appearance contrary to his remark?

Amazing how complex life is and how narrow it appears to read books by their covers.On the other hand some writers go to great and expensive lengths to obtain the right cover.

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“A writer’s duty is to register what it is like for him or her to be in the world.” Zadie Smith, a British novelist.

“It’s embarrassingly plain how inadequate language is.” Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

To me, Anthony Doerr is a gifted writer and yet, he speaks about the inadequacy of language. His book, which I have noted, was hard for me to put down and beautifully written.

I got his impression of the travails of living in occupied France during WWII. I was living in that world through Mr. Doerr.

I can see through my memoirs one appreciating my perspective in the world. Sure hope they engaged you that way if you have read them. The memoirs are in my three non-fiction books and these blogs.

I am attempting what can be quite difficult. That is to communicate CLEARLY. May God bless you and me with an ever-increasing ability to do that.


Another look at silence…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“Words can sting like anything, but silence breaks the heart.” Phyllis McGinley, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning American author.

The power of silence? It enhances brilliant speeches and theatrical dialogue. It can give great peace to a couple together.

Words can be very painful, not soon forgotten. But silence between a couple? In a committed relationship is there anything more painful than silence expressing deep anger? I don’t think so. How do you see it?

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Paul Newman, the Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, A Memoir, a Review

When I was in high school, I saw The Hustler, an excellent film about a pool hustler, about three times. I bought my pool cue and became an avid pool player. It was a magnificent film that introduced me to Paul Newman. 

Later on, I spent my sophomore year in college living in the fraternity house where Joanne Woodward’s aunt, Aunt Nancy, was the housemother. One evening she brought her sister, Joanne Woodward’s mother, to dinner and we all had time to meet her. 

For obvious reasons, I followed Paul Newman’s career carefully and enjoyed other films of his, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting.

Before reading this book, I had already read Paul’s dear friend, A. E. Hotchner’s biography of Paul. The two books were very different. 

Hochner’s went slightly deep, but David Rosenthal’s, the editor, went much deeper. All the interviews and oral histories were completed by Newman’s late friend Stewart Stern, an excellent writer. They were recorded in Paul Newman’s early sixties, in the late eighties/early nineties. The interviews were found in a storage vault before the editing. The book was just published a few days ago.

It was enlightening to see how difficult this wealthy, sought-after, award-winning, good-looking actor had such severe difficulties during his life. As many of us know, he lost his drug-troubled son, Scott, early in Scott’s life, something Paul could never get past. He had a constant struggle to spend enough time with his many kids, given all the demands of the movies. He had problems with alcohol from the time he was in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. His mother was highly critical and extremely difficult. Paul was not much of a student and even had occasional trouble memorizing his lines. He keeps reminding us in the interviews/memoirs that the actual Paul Newman is not the dashing man we saw in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but a troubled human being.

He developed a burning desire to help handicapped and diseased youth in his camps, which he dubbed The Hole in the Wall Gang. He told the following story as he needed to borrow against his future earnings to support the venture: “And even that jeopardy disappeared when one day a young kid from Saudi Arabia comes to Connecticut and you play Ping-Pong with him. The kid tells you he happens to have a usually fatal blood disease and that he’s currently living in Washington, D.C. And that he also happens to have connections with the Saudi royal family whose crown prince just happens to be their ambassador to the US and lives in Washington, too. And as a Muslim and a Saudi, the kid happens to have the right to petition the king himself through the crown prince. Then all of a sudden you’re flying back to Connecticut from DC with a check for five million dollars for the camp and a letter that says the money is a gift from the king and the people of Saudi Arabia. 

He says later about the incident: “A mechanism that opens a door into myself and lets me see what actually might be lurking there. Then you simply change? The answer may just be: “It was time.” Suddenly, here I am, an atheist, a nonmetaphysicalist, who finds himself stuck right in the middle of God.”

It must be clear that the book is a fascinating read that I had trouble putting down.

The Unknown, a Third Look

I can’t explain my dreams. But I know they happen.

I can’t explain love. But I know it happens.

Even the most critical scientific discoveries lay bare areas that have never been addressed or known, new areas ripe for discovery.

It’s an unending process for us. It’s all a divine mystery.


“It’s difficult to ever go back to the same places or people. You turn away, even for a moment, and when you turn back around, everything’s changed.” Gabrielle Zevin, an American author and screenwriter.

My spouse, Kristine, was driving through her late grandparent’s hometown about twenty years ago. She was helping our daughter and son-in-law with their move to Pennsylvania. 

Her grandparents had lived on a property with farmland in a beautiful, well-kept Victorian home. The home was an idyllic aspect of her childhood. Grandma had served them corn right off the farm and pies from their fruit trees. It was unforgettable.

The entire area appeared to be a drug-using haven when the three of them looked at the home. It had deteriorated and was a ghost of its prior elegance.

As Thomas Wolfe suggested in the title of his last book, You Can’t Go Home Again.