Here, There and Everywhere

Dolphin Wave

My latest attempt at stone carving. This is from a piece I bought at the Rock Stop in Navarro on the highway between Cloverdale and Mendocino last summer. It is probably from the Navarro River or near by. I’m not sure what kind of stone it is, but know it was pretty hard to work on. It has some beautiful grain, color (browns) and white lines. What started out as my attempt to make a thin wave or crescent moon, became something that looks like a dolphin.

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“Must Read” Indeed!

amazon-cover-with-mca-gold-seal-rsElizabeth’s Landing
By Katy Pye
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

Let’s get straight to the point. This is one hell of a good story for adults of all ages (young and old). It deserves all the awards it has received and then some. Superior to many traditionally published works, Elizabeth’s Landing combines complex characters, believable families and community and global environmental issues, with a seamless and engaging flare.

Uprooted mid-school year to the Texas coast town of Port Winston, Elizabeth escapes from her cantankerous grandfather, missing her absent reporter mother, and her seemingly submissive father, to explore the county’s last wild haven, called Wayward Landing Beach. It is there that she discovers nesting sea turtles and is faced with some local teens bent on harming her and the turtles. While trying to save the turtles, she meets Maria and Tom from the Science Center and is drawn to their work and mission.

It is obvious from the get go that Ms. Pye has extensively researched her subjects: turtles, shrimping, habitat, The Gulf Coast, The Horizon Oil Spill, and local politics; and integrated them into the story without any trace of regurgitating news or sounding like a lecturer at a science museum. Elizabeth, her family, friends, and those she meets at the Marine Science Center, are imbued with realistic doses of sadness, anger, frustration, determination, secrets, fear and hope.

What’s not to like about Elizabeth? She’s shy, concerned about how she is perceived by others, lonely, and out of step with other kids at school. She doesn’t think her father understands her or stands up to her grandfather, who is always putting them down. She’d rather die, than tell anyone how she feels and when she does, she’s afraid she’s revealed too much. If she doesn’t sound like other people her age, or yourself when you were a teen, then you must be perfect. Reader’s will identify with and root for, Elizabeth, as if she is your friend, daughter or sister.

If it’s not been stated clearly or often enough, Elizabeth’s Landing is a fantastic novel. “Must Read” is often used to advertise stories and get people’s attention, but in this case Ms. Pye has written a story that is truly a must read.

Gabriel Constans is a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books, a novelist, screenwriter, journalist and non-fiction writer. His latest work of fiction is The Last Conception.

Peace Through Pleasure

The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace Through Pleasure
An Alternative Great Ape Paradigm for Human Sexuality

By Susan M. Block, Ph.D.
Gardner & Daugthers, Publishers, 2014
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

TheBonoboWay3If pleasure is heaven then The Bonobo Way is heaven sent. The experience and insight of Dr. Susan Block and her understanding of human sexuality and the pleasure seeking and sharing Bonobo apes (who live south of the Congo River in East Africa and have 99% of the same DNA as humans), may surprise you and turn any preconceived expectations and judgments about bonobo’s and human’s upside down and inside out.

Ms. Block begins by telling the tale of her first encounter with the Bonobo at a zoo, its effects on her marriage and the rest of her life. She discovered what she calls The Bonobo Sutra, and says, “The list of bonobo sex activities is more impressive than the original Kama Sutra.” She also learned about the revolutionary way Bonobos use sex for conflict resolution and that there are no known instances of them ever murdering, raping or attacking fellow Bonobos or other species. This may be true, in large part, because of the matriarchal structure of Bonobo communities and families. “I call them the most feminist apes on Earth,” says Dr. Block.

Sex and food are shared by all, but it is the female Bonobo who decides when, how and if she chooses to indulge in either. Food and sex also seem to go “hand in hand”. Opposite from most ape cultures, Bonobo boys stay with their mothers until late in life and it is the girls who migrate to another group at childbearing age. New females are accepted into their new group and clan, with food, sex and emotional bonding. The author says, “If you’re a bonobo female, your gal pals have your back.”

After Dr. Block has explained some of the research and her experiences, with the Bonobo, she then shows how their way of life and behavior has, is and could be, incorporated into human well-being and sexual relations. She says, “In essence, The Bonobo Way offers an alternative great ape paradigm for human behavior, especially (but not exclusively) sexual behavior.” And, “Our emotional wiring is closer to the peaceful, sexual bonobo than to the brutal, militaristic chimpanzee.” The basic Bonobo steps for human’s to incorporate into our lives are that 1) Pleasure heals pain. 2) Doing good feels good. 3) You can’t fight a war very well if you’re having an orgasm.

As a sex therapist and facilitator of Bonoboville (a speakeasy, pleasure den for invited consenting adults, which is on the radio and sometimes filmed), Dr. Block has developed a 12-Step Program, which she encourages humans to follow. Some of the steps include – Go Bonobos in Bed, Outercourse Is In, Mix Food and Sex, Create Your Own Bonoboville, and Swing Through Life.

The Bonobo Way takes care to develop this way of life ethically and looks closely at the questions it raises, and says it is not a one size fits all program. Dr. Block doesn’t minimize others concerns or questions about living The Bonobo Way, but deftly addresses them with research, examples, and most importantly, her history with her marriage, studies, counseling practice and Bonoboville. One may deny or differ with her ideas, concepts or philosophy, but not with her personal perception and story, as it is her experience alone (or in this case with many others), which is being shared.

If you get a copy of The Bonobo Way, there is a strong possibility that you will find yourself drawn too and/or resonating with living a Bonobo way of life, as well as wanting to help protect them from extinction. The last step of the The Bonobo 12-Step Program is, “Save the Bonobos, Save the World”.

My Father Died Today

Short Story by Gabriel Constans
From Angie’s Diary

July 1, 2012 – Tokyo, Japan

My father died today. It wasn’t pretty. Mom was driving me home from school. I’m twelve, and a half, in five days.

“Stop shaking the car,” Mom said.

“I’m not,” I replied, a little pissed off.

We looked out the front window, and everything was moving, rolling and rocking… the highway, cars, buildings, telephone poles, everything! It looked like we were all little play toys being swirled around in a bathtub and about to go down the drain.

There was screaming, crunching, steel on steel, cracking concrete, electric sparks and explosions. Mom pulled over to the side of the road and somehow avoided hitting anything or being hit. The silence that followed was the creepiest thing I’ve ever not heard. Then the sirens started.

Within minutes, there were fire trucks, rescue trucks, ambulances, police cars and helicopters wailing nonstop and seemingly driving, and flying, at breakneck speeds in all directions.

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Mom grabbed her purse. “Get your backpack,” she said. “It’s only a few miles from here. We should be able to get home.” We left the car at the side of the road and hurried home. It was the first time I wasn’t embarrassed to be holding my Mom’s hand since I was a little kid. I was scared as hell. Mom looked pretty freaked out too. She kept mumbling, “Your father. I hope he’s home.”

We stopped in front of a fallen bridge and looked towards the Eastern part of the city. There were fires everywhere. Skyscrapers, or what were left of them, dotted the skyline. Then we heard the screaming jet engines and Army trucks nearby and overhead. They all went straight towards the destruction.

“Isn’t that where Dad’s office is,” I asked Mom, nodding towards a leveled part of town about five miles away by train and an hour by car, on a good day.

Mom nodded. Tears streamed down her cheeks. I’d never seen my mother cry. Dad said she did when Sobo died, but that was before I was born. It was weird. I was scared. It felt like I was going to throw up, and I could hardly breathe. Mom saw me bend over, wiped her face and took my hand.

“Come on. Let’s go see if your father made it home for an early supper.”

That’s when I really started getting freaked. Dad was never home for supper, let alone early. He was what some kids called Karōshi, or someone that work themselves to death. Now, Mom and I were worried that he’d died, not from work, but at work.

After making our way through some empty lots, behind apartment buildings, and over the canal next to our house, we made it home. It was still standing. I rushed ahead, as soon as we saw it, and mother was close behind.

“Dad! Dad!” I ran from room to room, almost slipping several times on water and dishes, which had fallen and broken on the floor.

“Yutaka! Yutaka!” Mom called, as she made her way upstairs to their bedroom.

We met back in the kitchen and shook our heads.

“I’m sure he’s OK,” Mom said, trying to reassure herself, as much as me. “He’s a tough guy. Always has been.”

“Of course he is, Mom.” I put my arm around her shoulder and stared out the window at the billows of smoke making their way across the city.

Dad never came home. Mom got a call on her cell phone earlier tonight. When she hung up, she fell to the floor sobbing.

Read this stories surprise ending and much more, at Angie’s Diary.

Not Very Zen

From Everyone Needs Therapy
by Therapy Doc
21 October 2014

Warning: Do not read if you have issues with insect deaths at the hands of bullying humans. Also, apologies in advance if this post offends any religion, be it mine or yours, I’m really sorry. It is all intended in good fun.

The story goes* that I graduated high school a semester early, but the University of Illinois didn’t accept early admissions. My parents made higher education sound more appealing than a K-Mart job, so taking six introductory liberal arts classes at Roosevelt University managed to kill the time.

I took public transportation downtown.

One day a young man with frizzy sideburns and bluejeans sat down next to me on the train. Within seconds he started to mumble, or maybe chant. He did this for awhile, then seemingly satisfied, stopped. As he fished inside his backpack for a book, I asked what that was about. He told me that he learned a mantra from a Zen master, and chanting the mantra made him calm and happy.

“Would you like to have my mantra, too?” he asked.

“Sure!”

It isn’t every day that someone gives you a mantra, so I wrote it down. We didn’t have Google to translate in those days, so the experience had an element of danger and excitement. Now, whenever I pass the mantra on as a cognitive behavioral self-relaxation tool, I sense this excitement with others, too, but add a warning: Before taking on this mantra, check out the meaning. Humming most things is relaxing, too.

But here you go. It is freeware.

nam-myoho-renge-kyo

I repeated those words until they burned their way into my memory, but found the process, and the mantra, boring. So that was the end of that. Suggesting mindfulness training, on well-scrutinized occasions, is as close as it gets to Buddhism in my life.

Zen+MasterExcept that once in awhile I get a random book in the mail from someone like Gabriel Constans who loves it. Gabriel requested a blog review in the most charming fashion, a promise that my karma will improve, certainly, if I open the book, and who doesn’t need good karma?

The title, Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: the Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire, indicates that Mr. Constans is associating with too many people of the tribe. That, or I don’t know much about Buddhist names. But he is a psychologist and sincere, so there you go.

Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba is an abbess and an ageless satirist, so it is likely the book is entirely satire, but because I didn’t finish it, I can’t say quite yet. But many a true word is said in jest, and not understanding much about Buddhism, the pages, to me, are a mystery wrapped in an enigma, which is a part of the book’s charm. The other part is that any book with short chapters, some as short as only a paragraph or a single page, at most two or three, is very appealing to those of us who are asleep before the head hits the pillow.

To broaden our perspective on Buddhism, here is a snippet about Master Tova (Mistress Toshiba) and her reaction to fishermen using worms for bait.

Let the Worms Go

There was no difference between one life and another to Mistress Toshiba. She respected all with equanimity, love, and tender care. . . . her compassion for worms . . . legendary.

The nuns were were walking with their Mistress, on their way to market to sell their organic vegetables, when they passed some fishermen who were taking worms out of a bucket, putting them on their hooks, and casting them into the river.

To make a short story shorter, the Mistress knocks over the bucket, setting the worms free, and proceeds to convince the angry fishermen that they are on the wrong track, killing worms. She offers up her organic vegetables as a substitute for fish. We’re not sure how this will effect her spiritual ecosystem, but are lead to believe that the cosmos is much better if worms can just be worms.

The story makes me feel guilty. Because here I am, powerless when insects cross my path. I smash them.

Note the astronomical difference between my reaction to a turtle a few weeks ago, and yesterday’s response, now old news, to the Asian Lady Beetle.

Riding my bike along the river, I happened to look down to where the sidewalk meets the grass. There lurked a huge turtle determining whether or not to cross. Huge turtles are not something we see in Chicago, not unless we visit the zoo. We see raccoons and skunks, deer, coyotes and the cursed geese, but not turtles. It made me happy, seeing something new, but I didn’t stop to take a picture, couldn’t risk being late for work.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, after I attempted genocide on Asian Lady Beetles, FD, vacuum hose in hand, gently chastising me: “For someone who professes to like nature, you had no trouble attempting to eliminate an entire species. The beetles would have died on their own in a day or two.”

And what if they had not?

Read complete post and much more at Everyone Needs Therapy.

One-Night

I’m Your Man A novella by Joanne Rawson.

A one-night stand that is about to send her world into utter turmoil.

Im Your Man 1400x2100When Ruth wakes up in a hotel room one morning suffering from a major hangover, she tries to piece the events of the previous night together. Feeling let down by yet another no-show by Justin at a work function, she headed to the bar and ordered a drink. The last thing she remembers is sitting next to an average-looking guy with a nice accent and large hands, and wondering just what those hands could do given half the chance. When the bathroom door opens and Mr. Average walks out, she realizes that at the ripe old age of thirty-three, Ruth Jones has experienced her first one-night stand.

About the Author:

Joanne Rawson was born and raised in Derbyshire England. In 2005, Joanne and her husband gave up their hectic lifestyle, after ten years of managing branded restaurants around London’s M25, and now spends her time in England, Goa, and Malaysia, writing romantic novels and short stories.

Available at following. Click the bookseller of your choice.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

All Romance

Book Strand

Apple

Spicy Novella Zoe North

zoenorthbook new 2Here is a short love story from the same publisher (Melange Books) who published my novel, The Last Conception. It’s called Zoe North and is written by Joanne Rawson. It is a categorized as contemporary, women’s, and mainstream romance. The heat level is rated “Steamy”.

This is a witty, spicy, story of love, friendship and never expecting the inevitable. A night dancing at a salsa club leads to more than Zoe bargained for – an ultimatum that could change her life forever and a honeymoon she will never forget!

Excerpt:

The church organist hit the first chord to the bridle march, whereupon the congregation instantly reared from their pews and turned around trying to catch their first glimpse of the leading person for todays’ show. That would be me by the way, Zoe North, and giving the finest performance of my life.

Walking down the aisle, aware that all eyes were on me, I knew I should be savouring this moment; the smiling faces of approval of my couture gown; tears of joy from my mother, who thought that this day would never arrive; laughing at my friends, acting like teenagers as they pulled silly faces and gave me the thumbs up sign, as if it were my first date. Yet all I could focus on was the man at the altar the man that, in a few minutes from now, would be promising to spend the rest of his life with me.

I turned to pass my bouquet to my matron of honour. Is this really happening? Am I really getting married today, or is it all just a dream? God knows I have dreamt of this moment for what seems like a zillion years.

The vicar smiled at me and then addressed the congregation. “God is love, and those who live in love live in God.”

This is it; this is usually the moment I wake up. Feeling a hand clasp mine, I turned just to be sure, he was real. Sure enough, standing next to me, smiling nervously was the man who had asked me to marry him.
Oblivious to the organist striking up the hymn, Love Divine, all I could think about was how it all started two years ago.

About the Author:

Joanne Rawson was born and raised in Derbyshire England. In 2005, Joanne and her husband gave up their hectic lifestyle, after ten years of managing branded restaurants around London’s M25, and now spends her time in England, Goa, and Malaysia, writing romantic novels and short stories.

Available at:

Satin Romance (Melange Books)
http://www.satinromance.com/authors/joannerawson/zoenorth.html

Amazon US
http://www.amazon.com/Zoe-North-Joanne-Rawson-ebook/dp/B00NG8YNFQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411035243&sr=8-1&keywords=Joanne+Rawson

Amazon UK
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zoe-North-Joanne-Rawson-ebook/dp/B00NG8YNFQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411034457&sr=8-1&keywords=Joanne+Rawson

All Romance eBooks
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-zoenorth-1631543-177.html

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