The Bloganuary 2023 questions

lilacs, laundry, Chinese

bloganuary 2023I wanted to do Bloganuary 2023, but I can’t wait for the morning to create. So I did all of them at the end of January, and I’m posting them all here.

What is something you want to achieve this year?

I want to offload some tasks that devolved to me rather than things I sought to do.
How are you brave?

At some level, I’ve managed to fool a lot of people into thinking I’m an extrovert. I’m not, but I must be faking it well.

What is the earliest memory you have?

I don’t know if it is an actual memory, or recalling the photo, probably the latter. My family used to go to the Catskill Game Farm in Catskill, NY. When I was about three, I was in some large plastic or metal pumpkin.

What is a treasure that’s been lost?

I had stuff at my grandmother’s house in Binghamton, NY. Some were stolen from there back in 1973 or so – my coin collection, all of my baseball cards, and some of my LPs, alphabetically A and early B, then S-Z, including a lot of Supremes, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass . Worse, then or subsequently, all of the childhood photos that I had in a red photobook disappeared.

What brings you joy in life?

Music. But you knew that.

Why do you write?

To figure things out. Sometimes, I THINK I know what I know. Then I write something, and it often morphs.

Write a short story or poem about rain.

The western US was devoid of rain, then it came too quickly to maintain. It was because of the dry terrain that caused so many such pain.

Week 2

How far back in your family tree can you go?

This is the one prompt I DID answer: here.

What is the most memorable gift you have received?

It might have been my 16th birthday when I got this container with strips of paper from my friends with significant comments.

Has a book changed your life?

Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer, which I described here.

How do you define success?

I keep asking the questions.

What chore do you find the most challenging to do?

Doing the laundry. It’s not the actual washing, which I rather like. It’s going to the basement. The steps, especially walking down, are nerve-wracking because they’re so tall. There’s no railing. I mentioned to my wife at least a decade ago that I’d love a washer-dryer on the first floor.

If you had a billion US dollars, how would you spend it?

Besides paying off the mortgages of my sisters and brothers-in-law, there are a lot of causes I’d like to contribute to. Better salaries for library staff, create affordable housing, stuff like that.

What is your preferred mode of travel?

The train. The train. And the train.

Week 3


What fear have you conquered?

I was once in a rental that had rodents. So I had to set mousetraps, then empty mousetraps. Yucky. Hadn’t overcome it, just did it anyway.

Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?

The lilac bush next to the house I grew up in. Marijuana, which always reminds me of college.  Probably many more.

Describe the happiest day of your life.

I’m not sure it is THE happiest day. Still: I was in college, and my wife, the Okie, split. There was no way I could finish all of my courses. But we weren’t allowed to drop courses after the midterm point, which had passed.

That is unless I had a professional attest that I was having a physical or emotional problem. I talked to the campus pastor, Paul Walley, who I did know. He wrote me a note, and it was accepted. I was able to drop two of my courses on December 4, 1974 – a date I will always remember – keeping three that I could finish.

What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

Cook: lasagna. Eat: rotisserie chicken.

What color describes your personality and why?

Well, geez, it should be

What irritates you about the home you live in?

Besides the steps to the basement? The deteriorating back porch.  Incidentally, we saw a contractor recommended by a friend in August 2022. He said he’d send us a quote by September 10. We called him twice after that but got no response.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

I’m going to cheat and say, Stephen Sondheim. I have both of his books of lyrics and it’s the lovely descriptions of his writing process. Maybe Russell Baker or Dr. Seuss.

Week 4

What was your dream job as a child?

For a time, it was practically ordained that I’d become a minister. Later, a lawyer.

What’s a lie you tell yourself?

Probably that I’m not vain.

How do you show love?

Hugs are good.

What is a song or poem that speaks to you and why?

A song? One song? There are hundreds, some of which I  will mention in March 2023. The first that comes to mind is Telling Me Lies by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris. GREAT three-part harmony and melancholy as all get out.

What language do you wish you could speak?

Chinese. Because, unlike the Romance languages, I don’t understand it AT ALL.

What are the pros and cons of procrastination?

Obviously, the pro is when the problem goes away as a result of waiting, and the con is when it doesn’t.

It’s been carrot cake for decades. Yet it wasn’t something I remember eating as a child.
Week 5

I learned that a second great-great-grandfather, besides James Archer,  fought in the Civil War. Samuel Patterson, my father’s mother’s mother’s father, fought in the 5th Massachusetts (Colored) in 1864.

What would you title the chapters of your autobiography? 

I would have no idea until I wrote it. However, I’d probably model them on the 55 short chapters in Life Itself by Roger Ebert.

Where is the best place to watch the sunset near you?

Driving down Route 20 in Rensselaer County, NY, heading towards Albany, gives the best view of the Albany city skyline, including the sunset. Also, a great view of the Fourth of July fireworks.

How far back in your family tree can you go?

three to seven generations

ancestrydna3I had thought of participating in the Bloganuary thing, but don’t have time. There’s a prompt every day. The one for today is: How far back in your family tree can you go? This intrigued me.

Of course, that depends on the line. I can go back three generations from my maternal grandmother, Gertrude Yates, but only one generation from my maternal grandfather, Clarence Williams.

I remember my father’s mother’s father, Samuel Walker, who held me as a baby and died when I was seven, but I can’t go back any further. His wife, Mary Eugenia Patterson – often mistakenly listed as Eugene, died long before I was born.  I can track THREE of her earlier generations, mostly the work of others.

But the mysterious Raymond Cone, my biological paternal grandfather whose name I’ve only known since 2019, has some tantalizing lineage. I can go back four generations from him. Maybe. The narrative is a bit murky.


Bloganuary Prompts from WordPress

que sera, sera

bloganuaryWordPress declared January as Bloganuary. I didn’t even find out until 2/3s of the way through the month. The idea is that one takes the prompt, writes about it, and attaches the Bloganuary tag.

Well, that’s not how I can blog these days, wake up to see what random suggestion I might take to. I suppose when I was first doing this in 2005, I would have leaped at the opportunity. Still, I liked some of the choices, so what the heck.

Write about a dream you remember

I’ve been writing about dreams periodically. One I had in January involved bowling. The ball landed in a manner that, when it reached the pins, it bounced, taking out the back pins first then the ones in front.

I’m sure it related to watching JEOPARDY and seeing this clue. “In 2021 Anthony Neuer, ‘The Ginger Assassin’, converted the first of these splits in a live TV bowling match since 1991.” Well, I have no idea who Anthony Neuer is. But I know bowling. It HAD to be a 7-10 split, and of course, Amy Schneider answered it correctly. I always wonder if others had rung in earlier whether they might have answered it correctly.

Write about what makes you feel strong

I generally know when to ask for help. I found myself in a very frustrating situation, not of my making. It absolutely took up far too much energy in my head, so I had to identify someone with whom to talk about it. I did converse with my wife, who knew about the situation, but then also found a need to vent to someone else. And it helped. A lot.

What is your favorite part about yourself?

I suppose my intellectual curiosity. Without that, I couldn’t write this blog at all. If I went into writing something on a daily basis knowing that I ABSOLUTELY know how I’ll feel in the end, it would not be that interesting to me.

What They Said

 What is your favorite quote and why?

After a ridiculously LONG thought process, I’m uncertain that I have one. Surely, I’ve been known for quoting lines from songs.
Cockburn: The trouble with normal is it always gets worse

King Crimson: Talk, it’s only talk
Babble, burble, banter, bicker bicker bicker
Brouhaha, balderdash, ballyhoo

Paul Simon: Slip sliding way. Slip sliding away. You know the nearer your destination the more you’re slip-sliding away… God only knows. God makes His plan.

MANY others. And most of them are not particularly uplifting, unfortunately. Inspirational quotes I have largely soured on, from ML King to Spider-Man, from vast overuse.

Movie quotes I used to do all the time in the 1980s. “What we have is a dead shark” or “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges” or “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” The only one that I know I’m using regularly now is “I’m walking here!” from Midnight Cowboy.

I considered Bible verses, but nothing grabbed me.

This can’t be this difficult…

Maybe Doris Day? OK, I’ll pick Maya Angelou. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

A variation on the theme: “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

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