Memorial Day 2013. A Still Small Voice…through the ages

mem 2013

For Memorial Day- A still, small voice

 

         As the media drown us in allegations of malfeasance at Benghazi, IRS overzealousness in scrutinizing the tax deductibility of politically motivated contributions, sequestration, tornado devastated cities and the other traumas faced by so many, I thought today of Elijah the ancient sage who had hid from the king in a cave. The king, threatened by Elijah, would have him killed. Elijah questioned where God had gone, given all the torment the sage faced. Even in his cave refuge, a storm raged, holding him like a captive.

         After many days had passed, the storm died down and an ominous silence took its place. In this silence, the sage sensed the presence of God. In this moment of reflection, touched by God, the sage knew what he must do, so that he could continue in his work. Empowered, he went back to the city where he found strong allies.

Now this imagery of a sage communing with his god thousands of years ago may, admittedly be a tough act for us modern secular types to wrap our minds around. How does one experience this ‘ominous silence.’

         Yet this Memorial Day, another image comes to mind that also illustrates the set of mind I’m talking about. I wonder if this ‘ominous silence’ occurred again after Abraham Lincoln spoke at  Gettysburg.
The War Between the States still raged on when Lincoln had gone to help dedicate the cemetery for the war dead. In November, 1963, letting the south secede, dividing one nation into two, could have become a possibility. In the ultimate ‘political soundbite,’ in a speech a little over two minutes in length,  President Lincoln urged those in the North to press on for Union.

And so, the war continued on for many more months until Robert E Lee at Appomattox urged his troops to return home and accept the peace that was offered them.

         Even today, here and there, this ominous silence is present, touching people, helping pave the way for a commitment to the larger values, whether it is service to a belief or a nation; or both. Something to think about for Memorial Day.

Listen to the Gettysburg address and other documents that made democracy on ‘Those Self Evident Truths,’ a CD produced and presented by Ted Magnuson
400 years of democracy in the making in 72 minutes.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Congratulations. Will you be posting reviews of any of the ARCs you received?

Erma Reads...

This morning, once again, I received an email listing me as a winner of not one, but six First Reads books! Now, I’m not bragging here (although winning one would have been awesome – I don’t win much of anything, and books are a prize in themselves), just pointing out what reviews you have to look forward to…

As soon as I receive them, I will be adding them to my reviews. Just to note, the titles are as follows:

Don’t Go

Godwink: On the Wings of Butterflies

Mythologies: The Complete Edition

Love’s Second Chance

A Shade of Vampire

Killer Koala Bears from another Dimension

If you get a chance to read these books, feel free to review them here, too! To view more about each of these books, click on the title.

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The Bouchard Legacy, it’s 1979, the end of an era and a family remembers.

The Bouchard Legacy, it’s 1979, the end of an era and a family remembers.

The Cover of The Bouchard Legacy

My novel is set in 1979 when Vietnam Vet Paul Elser discovers all his hard work building up business up for the Sunny Day Beverage Company may be for nothing. Colonel Elijah Bouchard has made it clear; he wants to sell.
Paul. He’s earned the right for a chance at the business. Won’t his step-brother, brother he called him; Randy, profligate Randy, put in a good word for him?
Randy, recently divorced, financially strapped, and feeling the pressure from the white side of the family–to sell, sell, sell.
And who are those other family members?
There’s Colonel Elijah Bouchard-‘Grandpere,’a true relic of the lily-white Old South. He owns The Sunny Day Beverage Company. Hardly one to endorse his daughter Margaret’s marriage to a black man. That’s right. Daddy Bruce, Paul’s dad is black and so is Paul.
Randy is white.
It’s the Prince and the Pauper, It’s Dallas. It’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
Then there’s Henry, Randy’s father, the womanizing divorce lawyer with a gambling problem…He’s the grease behind the sale.
Of course, Margaret, Randy’s mother, an entrepreneurial woman before her time, would stand against the sale but would Grandpere listen? Ha! The crusty old relic has raised her rent and ‘franchise fees’ too many times to swallow that one.

Oh sure, while in high school, Paul and Randy were great friends. They became brothers in a blended family when their parents married.  Paul, the strong silent son of a Tuskegee Airman and Randy—a newly minted doctor, accustomed to comfort and the pleasures that money can buy.
The Bouchard Legacy. A story of loyalty and greed, a story of prejudice and character; it’s the story of Randy and Paul coming of age in the tumultuous 1960’s and then, their arrival as men in the close of the 1970’s. Set in Mid-America, St Louis, MO, ‘The gateway to the West.’

The author speaks.
People ask me ‘is this story in anyway autobiographical?’

Yes, but only through a glass darkly. Growing up in that era, researching the events of the day proved very rewarding. I participated in a few of them myself. Did I inhale? Read the story and find out! Another way the story is ‘based on real life,’ is that in my college and early career days, I’d often been asked if I’d like to ‘take over from Dad.’ My father owned several businesses. Well, at the time, the answer was ‘no.’ Dad worked way too hard for my particular liking. Of course that was before I discovered everybody who’s anybody works hard. Now, at last through The Bouchard Legacy, I get to see a family succession plan that works. The next generation takes charge.
A third way the story is factual is that as an insurance agent, I had many clients who passed a business on to an heir, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Please do read The Bouchard Legacy and let me know what you think. Thank you. Ted Magnuson

 The Bouchard Legacy is available in paperback (207 pages) and on Kindle. I hope you enjoy it. For purchase go to http://www.tedmagnuson.com
Thank you!

It’s All About ‘Enough.’ Saying that Last Farewell

elderly people

As this is the season for often lengthy holiday trips and family visits, I’m posting this story:

At an airport I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her plane’s departure and standing near the door, she said to her daughter, “I love you, I wish you enough.” She said, “Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom.” They kissed good-bye and she left. She walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?” “Yes, I have,” I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Mom had done for me. Recognizing that her days were limited, I took the time to tell her face to face how much she meant to me. So I knew what this woman was experiencing. “Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?” I asked. “I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, her next trip back will be for my funeral, ” she said. “When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?” She began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” She paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, she smiled even more. “When we said ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with enough good things to sustain them,” she continued, and then turning toward me she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory. “I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye..”

A post from Amanda Morris, K-Love Radio Portland, Oregon.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Auld Lang Syne.

If you enjoyed this story, Ted Magnuson has written The Bouchard Legacy, about a fourth generation family business that changed with the times 1968-1979.

Link to the Bouchard Legacy

Disaster Story; Is it some kind of Joke or What?

GT-H2O-DZ 13

Congratulations on surviving Dec 21 2012, the much ballyhooed ‘End of Time’ according to Mayan Mystics. Did you think it was some kind of  joke; think again. These stories have been around since the beginning of time.  You know about the Great Flood? Noah and his ark? Everybody died but Noah and his people. Listen, these stories have a grain of truth. They tell me “If life were a raft trip, you may be drifting in the slack water now, but there are rapids on the river, you better get ready—or suffer the consequences.

True personal disaster story; about mid December, I was frantic–looking for Noah. That’s right; it’s about my house. A strange hissing sound like water running. Do you hear it? I sure did. Were the Mayans right? Could that sound be the floodgates opening? I checked all the toilets and faucets in my house. Nary a drip anywhere. Then I checked my outdoor water spickets. There, right next to my arbor vitae—something new–a bubbling spring.

How’s that? What did it mean?

Oh no. My problem wasn’t plumbing inside the house, it was plumbing outside the house. My water line, buried two feet down had burst. If all the water soaking into the ground around my house hadn’t flooded my basement yet, it will. Plus; it’s metered water. That won’t be cheap.

Not only that. I live on the side of a hill. If my house slides down to the highway, I’ll have to get it licensed as a motor vehicle and take it in to DEQ for  motor vehicle inspections every two years. Nuts to that!

Now I don’t have the tool to turn the water off at the meter, do you? I’m pleased to report that before you can say ‘Hurry on down to the hardware store,’ my City Water responded to my emergency call. Workers were out to the house. They turned my water off.

Were my problems over? No. I need a plumber; like now! Instinctively, I reach for my yellow pages. Have you forgotten about the yellow pages? The Aardvark Alpha Plumbing AAAAAA… knows the yellow pages well. They had five identical full page ads sprawled all over the plumbing section. How could I call anyone else? Their dispatcher even said it– “Don’t you call anyone else. Our man will be there in the hour. He’ll have you back in water by lunch time for sure. After three more phone calls, Aardvark Alpha AAAAAA… finally did show up. He could get my water back for only $5,000. Does that sound steep? It sounded steep to me, too. But the Aardvark man said it was a good deal, adding “A disreputable plumber would have charged me $12,000. Good old johnny-on-the-spot Aardvark AAAAAA… even threw in a Mayan calendar. Turns out the only way he could get my water back by lunch, was through a garden hose. “See you next week,” he said and left.

That’s when the other plumbers started showing up, the ones I called before Aardvark Accidental.  The second contractor quoted me half of Aardvark Alpha’s price, but no Mayan calendar, not even one mention of Noah, either. The third contractor Metro Plumbing, came by. He was not only pleasant, but quoted a third the price of Aardvark AAAAAAA… Wait a minute. Talk is cheap. I’m living in the 21st century. Why don’t I Google these contractors? For good measure I yahooed ‘em and yelped em, too. I even looked at the complaints filed with the State Construction Contractors Board. Did I get an eyeful. There are some bad operators out there swindling a gullible public.

Wouldn’t you know it, Aardvark Alpha AAAAAA… was at the top, or should I say bottom of the sleaze ball opportunist leak-chasing bad operators, list. The lowest of the low. They almost got kicked out of the state. In this case the early bird didn’t get the worm. The early bird was the worm! I called up Aardvark Alpha A-hole lot of A’s immediately to cancel my contract.

Then my friendly realtor neighbor came by. He saw my yard all tore up. I told him of my experience with the three plumbing companies.

He asked who’d I go with?

“Metro Plumbers,” I said.

He said “Good choice. I would have recommended them myself. Why, I had lunch with Mike Metro just last week. And the next time something like this happens, call me. I can recommend plumbers, painters, windows, HVAC guys. I know who does good work…and who’s going to work you over.”

Disasters, floods, fires, financial house of cards implosions; the end of the world. Oh yeah, these things are going to happen. Life is like a raft trip and there are rapids on this river. Be prepared,  know your equipment, at home, at work, in the community and in the world; how to take care, and who to call with the river starts rising. The sleazy operators don’t stand a chance if we can all work together. Let’s run Aardvark Alpha Awfuls –out of business.

If you enjoyed this story, Ted Magnuson has written The Bouchard Legacy, about a fourth generation family business that changed with the times 1968-1979.

Link to the Bouchard Legacy

Authors Road- Contemporary Storytellers speak of their vocation

Interview2WbSmI recently attended a presentation of interviews titled ‘The Authors Road. But you don’t have to wait for the Road Show to come to you. Vist the website. George and Salli of ‘The Author’s Road.’
have interviewed dozens of living American writers and even done treatments on authors who live on in name only (John Steinbeck, Mark Twain). If contemporary fiction the likes of Haki Madhubuti, Jo Harvey Allen, Frederick Turner, Michael Blake, Jim Harrison, Philip Caputo, Jim Fergus, Diana Gabaldon and many more; if these names speak to you, then don’t delay, please visit ‘The Author’s Road.’ Pictured: the Interview with Tom Robbins. A link is provided.
The Authors Road
Thank you George and Salli for what you do!

Copperheads and Haunting Dread; A Land More kind than Home

CAsh

This is one of the best ‘off the wall’ books I’ve read recently. While the material itself may not on first glance entice one, I soon became drawn into the story. It’s all about what goes on inside a storefront whose show window is covered over with newspaper. There is a so called Christian ‘snake-handlers’ church going on inside that building in a small town in Western North Carolina. People are dying, a kid saw something (what?) that he shouldn’t The preacher is a manipulative (potential spoiler) charalatan. The narrators are:

1) a kid

2) a church lady

3) the sherriff.

This is an account of a time when things went terribly wrong for a number of people and yet…how they came to terms with their circumstances and…life goes on. Once I became  hooked on this story, there were times, when I just wanted to jump right into the book and ‘set folks straight’ on their faulty thinking patterns. And in the end, one can only wonder what will become of the kid-Jess Hall. He certainly had seen a whole lot of strange goings on for an eight year old.
A great character study of individuals and group dynamics.