Still on the Shelf – Flight of the Reindeer: The True Story of Santa Claus and His Christmas Mission

Here’s another in my Still on the Shelf series, where I tell you, book by blessed book, why I periodically run a dust rag across them, pull them off the shelf, and open them up to read.

A lifetime of reading has left me with a sizable number of books. Throughout the years I have donated them for tax deductions and traded them for credit by the carload. But for all the trimming and weeding my collection has undergone these past decades, the ones remaining on the shelves are there for a reason: they’ve withstood the tests of time. Although I’m more inclined to pick up my Kindle these days, there are still plenty of books on my shelves, and Flight of the Reindeer is one of them.

Flight of the Reindeer:516fhNErOmL._SX418_BO1,204,203,200_
The True Story of Santa Claus and His Christmas Mission
By Robert Sullivan, Drawings by Glenn Wolff
Publisher: Macmillan
Copyright: 1996, Hardcover
92 pages

Let’s kick off this holiday season with one of my favorite holiday books! It’s packed with insider information on how Santa Claus and his reindeer accomplish their fantastic voyage every December 24th. The illustrations and photographs are first class, and the quaint details add to the festive mood of the work. Technical facts, drawings, and maps abound and explain everything from ancient Australian cave paintings showing reindeer in flight, to how reindeer hooves and antlers create lift, to the activities that make up the year of the reindeer.

And yes, Santa’s reindeer really do fly — it isn’t extended leaping, as was believed at one time.

Among the evidence proving reindeer flight Continue reading


Birthday Music For Alan

Karenna and Alan in San Francisco, 2009

Karenna and Alan in San Francisco, 2008

Today my late husband Alan would have been 71 years old. Somehow, Life saw fit to deal us a difficult card — a diagnosis of dementia — nine months after we had been married in 2005. Alan returned to the skies in 2011, but his spirit is still alive and kicking, wanting to dance. So tonight I honor him with a mini concert of some of his favorite songs by some of his favorite artists.

First up is Sting with Fields of Gold.  Alan and I danced to this song at a New Year’s Eve party just a couple of weeks after we were married.

John Lennon, Imagine. An iconic song of our generation that touched Alan’s heart and soul and became his personal mantra.

Deva Premal, Shima Shima. Shima is the Hopi word for love. It’s all you need.

Amici, Whisper of Angels. The weekend after we’d met, we drove to the Black Hills of South Dakota. This was one of the CDs Alan popped  into the magazine. I’ve been hooked ever since.

King’s College Choir, O Holy Night. Alan attended Cambridge University, King’s College, in the UK, earning a Master’s Degree in Mathematics. While he wasn’t a religious man, he enjoyed going to the chapel to lose himself in the music, the voice of the choir, and the architecture.

Paul McCartney, Calico Skies. “It was written that I would love you from the moment I opened my eyes…”

Rose on Snowy BenchHappy Birthday, my love. Catch you on the other side.

Lost For Words: 1,145 of Them

Often attributed to Hemingway, this short, short flash fiction story is unsubstantiated, as stories with similar titles predate him.

Often attributed to Hemingway, this short, short flash fiction story is unsubstantiated, as stories with similar titles predate him.

A week ago Sunday I put the finishing touches on a piece of flash fiction, surprised and overwhelmingly pleased with how it had turned out. I confess in the here and now that I’ve never been able to write a decent piece of fiction. Admittedly, I haven’t tried to write once since — oh, let’s see now — since high school. But knowing that things have a way of changing, especially in 45 years, I decided it was time to try again.

Thank goodness for flash fiction, which wasn’t a thing during my high school days in the late 1960s when I first became serious about writing. Simply, flash fiction is a short, short story typically no more than 2,000 words. Some editors will call for for 1,000 or 500 words or less, some for less than 150 words, some even fewer. I’ve also seen flash fiction contests topping word count at 6, and if you’re interested in checking it out further, there’s a series of books of Six-Word Memoirs as well as a slew of books of flash fiction of just about every genre.

Flash fiction, like a short story, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The idea Continue reading