A wonderful gift


Yesterday I received this lovely creation from Brittany, a.k.a. fairytaleepidemic. I started reading Brittany’s blog around nine years ago. At first I was drawn in by her poetry and then by her prose pieces about the long hikes she would go on, along with the accompanying photos. It wasn’t long before I was commenting on her blog, and she started reading ClassicalGasbag. We went from commenting to emails to actual letters. An internet friendship blossomed, and despite some setbacks, has grown stronger over the years. I hope that our friendship continues to thrive. I know that I’ll work to keep it going. Perhaps we can even meet in person someday. After nine years, that would be fun.

We have occasionally sent gifts to each other. This gift, however, outshone anything previous. I knew that Brittany worked on art projects, and I had seen pictures of some of them. but there had been nothing on this scale. When I opened the package yesterday, Cindy’s reaction and my reaction was the same, “It’s beautiful!” The photo above, while nice, doesn’t do credit to the piece. The three dimensional aspect (quilling) is hard to make out. The piece is now hanging in our office/library where I will see it every day.

Thank you Brittany. You have created a beautiful piece.

Books that inspired

Over this past weekend a good friend of mine posted on Facebook about her tattoos and the books she read in her youth. She knows that I am not on Facebook, so she was kind enough to send me a copy of her post because we had traded texts about the books she had read. At the end of her post, she asked her readers which books inspired them in their youth, and what their tattoos meant.

I started thinking about those questions because I hadn’t thought much about books that had inspired me before my final year in high school. The question about tattoos was easy to answer since I have none. As Lou Gottlieb of the Limeliters used to say “Clean mind. Clean Body. Take your pick.” I picked a clean body. But books? I needed to think about that.

Having thought, I decided that there were multiple books that I should mention. The first were comic books that my older sister, She Who Must Not Be Named, read to me before I was old enough to read. That was the beginning of my lifelong love of comics. While I no longer collect comics, I still read graphic novels and buy two or three each year. The melding of the written word and sequential art (Will Eisner’s term) can still draw me in and keep my mind occupied.

Then there was The Giant Golden Book of Elves and Fairies. It was a gift from my grandmother and my Aunt Louisa. That was the first book I remember owning, and I still have it, though it is in poor condition. The artwork by Garth Williams never stops amazing me. That book introduced me to the fantasy world that later led me to Middle Earth, Nehwon and other fantastical lands.

John R. Tunis wrote novels of the sports world for juveniles. I found them in our local library, starting with The Kid from Tompkinsville, the first novel in his series of eight about the Brooklyn Dodgers. I didn’t realize it at the time, but later figured out that these juvenile books dealt with issues such as racism and the importance of teamwork. Plus, I became a Dodger fan even though they played in New York and Los Angeles while I lived in the middle of the country.

Another series of books that I found in the local library were biographies of historic Americans. I don’t remember who authored and who published these books, but I have enjoyed reading biographies ever since. I remember these books as having blue covers. When I Googled what I remembered to see if any were still in print, I couldn’t find any that had blue covers. There were red covers, tan covers, black covers, and aqua covers. Maybe the books I read had aqua covers, but I remember blue.

All these books inspired me to keep on reading. I believe that even the worst book you might read can teach you something. And I want to keep learning.

Now I ask you; what books inspired you in your youth? And what do your tattoos mean?

N-N-1 Hello 2022!

Once again my friend has hosted N-N-1. nd once again it was a fun read. I hope that you enjoy i.

This Labyrinth I Roam

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you are having a wonderful start to 2022! Norm, the genius that he is, suggested an end of year N-N-1 that captures human resilience and the spirit of Christmas. What better way to start the new year than to share some of these pictures with you, featuring my very favourite bloggers (and friends!)

In case you missed it, here’s the callout post.

A Magical Door

From Mary Kirts

My sister and I go on road-trips from time to time.  Sometimes we plan our destination but other times we just head in a direction whether North, South, West or East.  We went to a small town about two hours away.  As we were walking, we came across a candy store with one door for adults and this door for ‘kids’.  How delightful to be a child wanting to go through this magical door just…

View original post 694 more words

A new N-N-1 call-out

My good friend at Cupitonians has posted the call-out for a new N-N-1 to end out the year. I am passing it on in hopes that you will be inspired to participate. You need not have a blog of your own, just a willingness to join in this International fun. If you wish, you can remain anonymous, or you can proudly attach you name to your pictures and words. If you haven’t seen an N-N-1 before, you can write in prose or poem. Finally, if you wish, you can send your entry to me, and I’ll forward it to my friend in England. I hope that you decide to join us.

N-N-1: Farewell, 2021!


It’s been a while since we hosted an N-N-1 photo sharing post, and so thought I’d get in touch with you before the year is out. 

The other day, I was walking in the countryside near my new home and found the most adorable post office cosy. Someone had crocheted a nice Christmas scene to keep the post box warm during this cold winter. With the year we’ve all had, this random display of humanness brought a smile to my face. 

As I continued my walk, I came across a memorial for an old fish and chip shop that no longer exists. We get so wrapped up in the news and in all the stress that comes with living the last two years that we tend to forget that we are also magic. And so, the idea for the theme of this N-N-1 was born (thank you, Norm!)

If you want to participate in the last N-N-1 of 2021, here is your mission. 

1. Send me a photo that you’ve taken of a building or street art or cityscape that makes you feel that Christmas cheer or that reminds you of how wonderful we can be as a human race. 

2. Add a write-up for 50-100 words about your picture. 

3. Send both to me by the 31st of December so I can publish the compilation as the first post of 2022. 

4. Invite your friends and family to participate. The more, the merrier! 

I am looking forward to all of your lovely photos! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions x

A question about fortune cookies

Friday evening Cindy and I met one of her cousins at a Chinese restaurant for dinner. We all ate from the buffet, and I admit to eating more than I should. When the wait person brought our fortune cookies, I could not force myself to eat mine, so I took it with me to enjoy later. After all, they are a tasty treat.

Well, Saturday morning rolled around and when I sat down in the car, there was my fortune cookie, still in it’s cellophane wrapping. I was about to open the wrapper, eat the cookie, and read what my future held. “But wait.” I thought, “If you don’t open, eat, and read immediately after your meal…if you wait until the next day…is the fortune nullified”? It was an important question. The future of your life could depend on it.

Imagine if Albert Einstein had put off reading a fortune cookie that said E=MCHammer and then he believed it? We might all be floating in a parallel universe wearing parachute pants! Or what if Genghis Kahn read his cookie fortune too late and believed He who never leaves home is the wisest of men. Or perhaps the fortune is not nullified. Someone might have read Donald Trump’s fortune to him, but he failed to believe Run for President and become the butt of a million jokes. Think of how world history might have changed!

I thought of these things and decided to consult a panel of experts. The responses ranged from a definitive “Nope,” to “It depends on how superstitious you are,” to “Huh?” So, there you are, a hung jury.

I decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, and bite into the cookie so as to retrieve the fortune. With trepidation, I peeled the cellophane away from the crisp treat, delicately broke the cookie in half, popped one half in my mouth, and began munching as I pulled the fortune slip from the remaining half cookie. I read:


Evidently, if you wait too long you don’t get a real fortune. What a ripoff!

Early morning thoughts

Mason & Anna

Here is a picture of a very happy day a few weeks ago. My grandson, Mason, and his delightful bride, Anna. Despite the small number of socially distanced people, it made me feel like we may be moving beyond the worst of the pandemic.


What do you do when you wake up at 2:30 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep? Well, this morning I started thinking about another mixtape I might do for Anju’s blog, This Labyrinth I Roam, and title the mixtape Songs of ’65. After I mentally jotted down a few songs that I could use and what I would say about them, I started thinking about the ones that I’ve already done. It isn’t surprising that in many cases those songs have brought back memories, some of which I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Also not surprising is the fact that often those memories involved women I dated long before I met Cindy. Hey! I was past 40 when we got married. I had plenty of time to date. There were, in fact, some women who were quite memorable. Without naming names, and in no particular order, I thought of the woman who almost broke my heart, the judge’s daughter, the woman with great legs, the college student, the other college student, the married woman (no, I’m not proud), the older woman, and the woman who did break my heart. Oh, and there was my landlady, though we never dated.

I was thinking of those women and trying to tag them with a particular song so that I could do a mixtape about them. I could only pin a song on three of them. They must not have been as memorable as I thought. But I could think of a story or two for each of them. And those are memorable stories. Cindy has heard most of the stories, so I might write about them one day. Now that I think of it, I did write about one of them a few years ago. That was the woman who almost broke my heart. I wrote about her the first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. As I told a friend, the one who read it, that story was about 85% true. I should probably go back and do some heavy editing. I might be able to turn it into a short story.

Another thing that the mixtapes I’ve done for Anju did for me was bring back some emotions. One emotion in particular that swept over me was elation. My mind conjured up the feeling of elation I felt walking hand-in-hand with a girl with whom I was infatuated. I can think of nothing like that feeling. It is not the same as love, and certainly not the same as lust. It is more a feeling of happiness mixed with personal connection and even a bit of pride. I think it is a feeling felt only by the lucky young. And then I remembered the nervousness that comes with trying to decide if a first kiss is appropriate on a first date. It is different with each first date, just as every first kiss is different with every woman.

Back to sleeplessness: When 4:30 rolled around and I was sill awake, I got out of bed and started writing this post. It is about 9:45 now, I am finishing this post, and I still haven’t been able to get back to sleep. Maybe this afternoon.

Norm Houseman: Bargain Bin Bonanza

Here we go again…

This Labyrinth I Roam

Some of my happiest times were spent in record stores going through the bargain bins that were filled with records that were on sale. Some were by artists that most people had never heard of like Geoff Muldaur, and also The Tailgators. Some were by famous artists like The Serendipity Singers, who were no longer making hits. And a few were on sale because the store was going out of business; it’s where I found my first Ahmad Jamal and Dr. John albums. All were worth a look if not a listen. Oh, and I should mention that not all of my purchases were vinyl; some were on cd.

My first Geoff Muldaur album was found in a bargain bin. It was a wonderful find. I picked up the album because I knew Muldaur from Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band. Reading the back of the album cover I found out that…

View original post 294 more words

Norm Houseman: Post-Army, Pre-Auburn Music

Once more I dip into my barrel of nostalgia and share some musical memories. Thanks again, my friend.

This Labyrinth I Roam

As I mentioned in the write up for a previous mixtape I was Released from Active Duty (REFRAD) from the army in August of 1971. From the time I returned home from Germany until the time I moved to Auburn for my first job with the State of Indiana, I listened to the radio, watched television variety shows, and listened to what my friends were following. I was especially intrigued with the music I heard coming out of Chicago. There was Steve Goodman, John Prine, Bonnie Koloc, Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, and others who are hard to find on Spotify. Top Forty radio was also a source for good pop and rock music. And, of course there was a great variety of FM stations and formats to listen to. Did I mention searching bins in record stores? I should probably do a mixtape made up of songs that I found flipping…

View original post 109 more words

Reflections on Books

I haven’t written a post about a 2021 Reading Challenge or a non-Challenge yet this year. The reason is that I haven’t been reading much this year. I have yet to finish ten books and it is already May. This doesn’t bode well. It isn’t that I don’t want to read, it is just because I can’t seem to focus my attention, there are too many distractions. I have actually been worrying about this. And then this morning I saw this cartoon on Instagram.

I follow Harry Bliss on Instagram because his sense of humor matches mine. I forwarded the cartoon to a few people whom I knew would appreciate it. My friend, Anju, sent a response asking me which twenty-five I would choose. That’s a tough question. How could anyone limit themselves that way? I suppose it is an exercise in focusing your mind and deciding on what is truly important.

Of course, my first thought was to list the books I had already decided to read, or finish reading this year. But if I could only choose twenty-five, would those be on my list? I might keep Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, William Styron’s My Generation: Collected Nonfiction, and perhaps Lawrence Durrell’s Clea because I want to complete rereading his Alexandrian quartet. That would leave only twenty-two books to read. Should I fill those slots with feel good fiction, some of the “Great Books,” political polemics, or spiritual writings? It is a quandary.

I’ll tell you right now that I shan’t be reading anything spiritual if it has been written by any of today’s mega-church pastor’s or television preachers. They seem so shallow to me. And, I doubt if they have anything new to say.

The chances are that I wouldn’t add any graphic novels to my list even if I like reading them. There are too many longer forms that I would hate to miss out on. I have a copy of John Updike’s first three Rabbit Angstrom novels collected in one volume; would that count as one book or three? If I reread that book I would feel compelled to read the fourth novel. I have to think about that.

I’m going to put together a list of 25 books to read before I die, but since I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, I’ll go ahead and read other things as well. After all, I have a bookcase full of books that I plan to read. Some of the books I mentioned might end up on my list of twenty-five.

I only know for sure one book that will be on my list of twenty-five, so here goes: 1. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. I shall post more titles in the future as I add them to my list.

Do you have a list of books that you feel you should read before you die? If so, I would love to see it. You might give me ideas for my list. Send me comment, or if you’re shy, send me an email. I can be reached at houseman@comcast.net.

Thanks for reading. Please stay safe.

Norm Houseman: Songs of Auburn

This Labyrinth I Roam

My first full-time, permanent job after getting my MS in Education was for the State in Auburn, Indiana. Nobody was hiring English teachers. I had been through college and in the army, but my musical tastes were still pretty much stuck in the 1960’s. After moving to Auburn, I developed a new group of friends and they introduced me to a variety of new, to me, artists. My friend, John, loaned me albums by The Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, Randy Newman, and Jerry Jeff Walker. I worked with Sandy and Bill. One evening after work we went for pizza and beer with another fellow employee, Jane. Bill started playing music on the jukebox. I knew most of the songs but then Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and the Eagle’s Tequila Sunrise  played. I had not heard them before. I listened as Sandy and Bill sang along to Queen and Jane decided…

View original post 283 more words