So you can read my books

Sunday, December 31, 2023



The shades of years past watch us.We, of the modern age, stumble and bumble our way,
sure of our sophistication and education.

But what if there are principles of which we are unaware that take no notice of our ignorance of them ...

only chastise us when we break them.

After all, gravity takes no breaks ...

it only gives them

Take "First Foot,"

a custom concerning the first visitor of the New Year to a home.

His function is to bring prosperity and good fortune for the ensuing 12 months to those he visits.

He comes just as soon as possible after midnight, bringing gifts which symbolize plentiful food, health, and wealth. Sometimes he carries an evergreen branch as a symbol of continuing life.

Strict rules govern the choice of First Foot:

Male always for he symbolizes the New Year.

No redheads need apply.

The luckiest representative is a dark-haired stranger, symbolizing a new year full of undiscovered mysteries.

An old form of First Foot has the visitor entering silently, 
greeted by none.

He goes straight to the hearth, laying the evergreen branch on the fire and a sprig of mistletoe on the mantle above.

Then, he turns and greets those living in the home, and festivities ensue.

I wonder what thought first visited the homes of our minds last year?

Did it symbolize the atmosphere, the temper of our thoughts for the remaining 12 months?

What thought do you think should first visit your mind this New Year? What First Foot will be your physical first visitor?

Can you remember who first entered your home last January? Did he or she reflect the luck and temper of the following 12 months?

Just thought it would be fun to think on these questions, Roland

Saturday, December 30, 2023



What will be the last thing you do this New Year's Eve?

Or if it has passed, what was it?

What will be, or was, the last meal for you in 2018?




I wonder if that goes for empty heads as well -- which would explain the politics of this last year!


That is to let out the Old Year and let in the New Year will all its promise.

All the Democrats across America are not only flinging open all their doors tonight, but their windows, too!


One for each month -- that is just in case you do not like cabbage and black-eyed peas!


A full wallet seems to give promise for a full bank account during the New Year!


Lest you have a year full of sadness.


Friday, December 29, 2023



“Your life, like snow, while ongoing masks your passage, when finished, marks your path.”
– Darael

Labored breathing.  I’d heard the term often but only now realized the reason for it.  Every breath hurt as if I were giving painful, hard-won birth to it.

The dead are never far from us. 

They're in our hearts and on our minds and in the end all that separates us from them is a single breath, one final grasp for air

From just outside my hospital room door, I heard the nurse snap, “Mr. Evans, I can only tell you that your tenant is in guarded condition.”

“I just want to know how soon I’ll be able to rent out his apartment.”

“Mr. Evans, he may well recover.

“Ha. If that’s him breathing, he ain’t got long for this world.”

“Then, you have your answer, don’t you?  Please leave.”

There was a long silence followed by heavy steps heading away from my door.

A face of flint stuck in from a crack in the door.  “Did he bother you?”

I shook my head and wheezed, “He only bothers himself, nurse.”

Her face softened.  “How can you be so forgiving?”

I managed a weak smile.  “He has to live with himself 24 hours a day.  How can I not feel sorry for him?”

She sighed, shook her head bemused, and quietly shut the door.

By the dim mirror light, I tried to make out the plaque on the opposite wall.  It was an ornate rendering of Margaret Fishback Powers’ poem, Footprints.  

 I snatched back the snort before it cut me in two.

Others had lived worse lives I knew, but when the blows came for me, I never felt carried.  Never.   

My footprints had always been solitary, lonely ones.  Women went for the Bad Boy never the ugly, poor Nice Guy.

I could have become mean, bitter, but what kind of company would I have been for myself then?   

Better by far to give encouragement and a smile to those who entered then left my world.

I spasmed a series of wet coughs that cut me in half, bending me in a fetal position.  The world blurred, became black.  I blinked my eyes to clear them. 

It truly wasn’t worth the effort. I saw shadows moving in the corners of my room.  Though I should have been alone, I wasn’t.  

Words, feeling like mine but were not, slithered into my mind: ‘You will die alone, unloved, unmourned.  Yours was a worthless life.’ 

Maybe the words weren't mine, but were they speaking the truth? Were they?

“Enough!” softly rumbled a Voice above me from the back of my bed.  “Did you not hear the nurse?  He is in guarded condition.”

Wails of pain and outrage pierced through my mind.  Then, the Voice of distant thunders spoke but one word.


The inside of my mind suddenly was all mine once more.

I turned to see who had spoken.  Fingers of soft steel took my shoulder and stopped me.

“No.  Not just yet.”

“Who are you?  What were those voices?”

“The unlearned call them demons.”

“Ah, I’m not important enough for demons to fool with.”

There was a hint of laughter underneath the rumbling words.  “Then, perhaps they were bored.”

The laughter disappeared.  “If you are in the light, darkness will always try to extinguish you.”

The Voice sighed, 

“You, born of Eve, look back on your lives and those of others and only see a meandering trail that wanders into the light and into the darkness to things you only imagine are there.”

There was a strange blur in front of me, and I hushed in a painful breath.  The plaque was gone from the wall.   

Somehow, I knew that the mysterious speaker was holding it in his hands.

“Her heart was in the right place but her perception off-course … like all those whose blood is that of Eve’s.”

“Who are you?” I wheezed.

“Those with cloudy perceptions call me Archangel.”

“And are wrong?”

“And right.  Life for you of tainted blood can be confusing.”

“An Archangel?  I’m just small potatoes.  I’m not worthy of someone like you.”

The undercurrent of laughter was back.  “Really?  Remember what I said of flawed perceptions?”

A flurry of mists billowed in front of me and out of it floated a slowly spinning globe of the earth.  A breath smelling of cedar and honey blew over my shoulder.  The masking clouds wisped away.

Tiny spots of golden light dotted every continent, appeared in isolated places on the seas.

“What are those?” I asked.

“Footprints.  Your footprints.”

“No.  I never left this city, much less this country.”

“Oh, but you have.”


“There are Nexus Points in every soul’s life where a shared laugh, a compassionate word, a needed affirmation of another’s worth, or desperately needed money left anonymously in a mailbox can start a ripple of random acts of kindness whose wake goes on and on.”

Steel fingers softly squeezed my shoulder.  “Those acts became a way of life for you.   

So much so that they became a part of you … and a part of all those you touched and a part of all those they in turn touched.”

My breath just wouldn’t come anymore as the Voice whispered in my ear. 

“Just now, the nurse you think of as Nurse Ratchet, because of your forgiveness, is withholding a bitter retort to a small child whose heart would have been shattered by those harsh words.”

An elephant seemed to be sitting on my chest and an ice-pick stabbing deep into my heart.  It hurt so badly I couldn’t speak.  I choked.  I heard a wet rattling gurgle in my throat.

The Voice murmured, “One last soul touched by you.”

Steel fingers settled on my chest.  The pain disappeared.  All became honey-light.

The ghost of laughter was back.  “Boot Camp is over, good and faithful servant.  Now, the adventure begins.”

One life well lived is long enough.

Goodbye 2023

Tuesday, December 26, 2023



Although many of us do not admit to it, we do believe or follow some superstition at one time or another.

Knock on wood?  

I do, usually have to resort to knocking on my head, the universality of plastics you know.

Have you known people to stop a dog from howling to prevent death or 

to get married on a rainy day to insure a long and happy marriage?

 New Year’s Eve also has its fair share of strange myths and weird superstitions 

that are followed by many around the world. 

Here are a few:

1. No sweeping on New Year’s day.  

They say that it is an ominous act and can sweep away the good luck of the entire family.

Well, why not? Anything that keeps you from the nasty chore of cleaning is welcome, right?

 2. Wearing new clothes on New Year's Eve.

 They believe that it ensures a constant supply of new clothes for the whole year to jazz up the wardrobe.

 3. No empty pockets
There are people who insist that one should take care to avoid wearing a dress with empty pockets on New Year’s Eve 

since it may be a sign of very low or no income in the year to come.

4. Say no to chicken
If you cook any chicken dish on New Year’s day, you will have monetary troubles for the rest of the year.
So now you know who is responsible for all your financial troubles this year… 

Colonel Sanders!

5. Don’t do laundry
They say that if you do your laundry, you will certainly wash off your luck or will face a year of hard work. 

Even more ominous, doing laundry on this day is also associated with facing a family member’s death.
What can I say? These myths sound like work-relieving fun to me!

6. Don’t cry, honey!
The wise men (and women) say that one should not be miserable on this day and neither should one cry because that depression will follow you in the year to come.

So, wipe away those tears and be happy! After all, it is a new beginning.

7. Be Scrooge on New Year's Eve!

You should not give your cash, ornaments, precious items or other valuable things to anyone

 on the first day of the year because it may be a sign that wealth will be flowing out in the entire year. 

So, hang on to your cash until January 2nd!

8. Make noise and hang a lemon at New Year's Eve.

Have you ever wondered why there are fireworks on New Year’s Eve? 

It is to scare away the evil spirits and evil thoughts. 

Even hanging a lemon in the doorway helps in warding off bad spirits.

* The First Foot of New Year has a whole post coming soon here. 

Do you know of any New Year's Eve superstitions?

Monday, December 25, 2023



One of the great things about love ...

is that it grows in ever larger ripples when shared.

One shares with another, 

then that heart touched by love shares, too.

One becomes two. Two becomes four. And four becomes eight.

Not every heart which receives, gives, of course.

Who of us has not received compassion and felt the better for it?

We are let into a busy traffic line, and we wave thanks.

But do we give it? 

Do we let another in somewhere else down the line?

Or do we just go on our way, too much in a hurry to return the favor to a stranger?

Have we received compassion, wisdom, kindness repeatedly from a friend, 

but then have been hurt by that same friend?

Can we find it in ourselves, that after having taken so much, to give one thing ...

the benefit of the doubt,
to trust in the past acts of friendship to give ...


That is the secret of Boxing Day

still celebrated in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom ...

(though not as widespread as it once was --
like many customs of kindness and compassion)

to give from the surplus that we have received on Christmas Day.

One of the clues to Boxing Day's origins can be found in the Christmas Carol, "Good King Wenceslas."

Wenceslas, who was Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was surveying his land on St. Stephen's Day — Dec. 26 —

when he saw a poor man gathering wood in the middle of a snowstorm. 

Moved, the King gathered up surplus food and wine

and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant's door.

Christmas love and magic is better when shared. 

Just like laughter is somehow more than doubled when the joke or 

the funny movie is shared with a friend.

What is more beautiful than a unicorn in the snow?

Two unicorns racing through the flurry of snowflakes together.

Sunday, December 24, 2023



“And when we give each other 
Christmas gifts 
in His name, 

let us remember that He has given us 
the sun and the moon and the stars, 

and the earth with its forests and mountains 
and oceans--
and all that lives and moves 
upon them. 

He has given us all green things 
and everything 
that blossoms and bears fruit 
and all that we quarrel about 
and all that we have misused--

and to save us from our foolishness, 
from all our sins, 

He came down to earth 
and gave us Himself.”
― Sigrid Undset 




My arms were filled with packages for my friends.

On top of them was a small gold box for Alice,

 containing a silver garter with one word stitched in scarlet thread, "Rubicon."

The little joke would make Alice groan and Victor snicker.

But underneath it was a finely crafted broach of one single black rose,

reminding them both of the time they were reunited by an enemy ...

that something good can come from a hurtful act ...

as Easter taught us so long ago.


Each package contained both a gag gift and a meaningful one. It was tradition with me. 

Samuel, Renfield, Magda, Ada, Margaret, Hickok, and Toya were all taken care of.

I stood on the corner of Royal and St. Peter, waiting for the sun to set on Christmas Eve ...

and for Cafe Royal to be transformed into the CrossRoads of Worlds,


There was a hollow moaning of music soft and eerie all about me. Ghost demons swirled from the billowing mists layering the street.

Black wings rustled angrily as a tall being with three slowly revolving faces suddenly stood by my side. 

The eagle face cawed at the spirits.

"Not tonight. Begone!"

They went. Very, very fast.

"T-Thanks," I managed.

The lion's face wrinkled with an emotion I couldn't read. 

"We did not do it for you. Enter. You are expected."


I shivered, promising myself I would add a lump of coal to Samuel's package next year. 

I entered as the lamb's face winked at me. My shivers picked up goosebumps for company.

I walked through the saloon doors that once belonged to the bar owned by Hickok in Deadwood. 

I set my face to be prepared for anything. Like always when I did that, I got the one thing I didn't expect.

The place was empty.

Its shimmering, slowly spinning chandeliers illuminated gothic furnishings straight out of a Victorian Gentleman's club. 

Scarlet wall hangings fluttered from a breeze I could not feel. Portraits of lovely ladies turned their heads in the paintings to wink at me.

"Come. Sit. Drink some of this horrid stuff."

I turned to the bar and to the sound of the deep voice. 

I frowned. 

A short, muscular man in a plaid shirt, faded jeans, and hiking boots. His hawk nose said he was Jewish. His sparkling eyes hinted that he was friendly.

He patted the stool next to him. "Put those packages on the table next to you and sit yourself down before you fall down."

I sat down on the stool. Man, I towered over him. He had to be five foot six inches at the most.

"Five, eight," he smiled. "Jewish males when I was born were usually five, five."

His smile gleamed white in his bronzed face. "I was a giant among men then ... in some circles."

He touched the scars on the back of his hands softly. "Not so much in others."

"Joshua," I whispered.

"Right the first time," he laughed. 

"Only Greeks should call me that other name."

"But you don't have a beard."

His face sombered. "After the soldiers half-pulled it out, I shaved off the rest of it."

He sipped from his glass, filled with thick white liquid and grimaced, 

"Why do you people drink such a terrible tasting beverage in honor of my birthday?"

"White Russian?" I winked back at him, hoping to bring the light back to his eyes.

"Ha. Ha. Egg Nog. My last earthly beverage had more kick than this."

"You turned that down as I remember."

"Yes, I should have taken a sip to take the edge off this egg nog. Yuck!"

"You come here often?"

"Every Christmas Eve for one drink of egg nog with Samuel. Of course, I don't show up in this body. He must make up his own mind about me."

"Where is he?" I asked.

"Getting into fatal trouble with Victor and the others as we speak."

I started to get up when He waved me down. "Sit. I sent reinforcements."

His smile flashed like dawn through the trees. "My present to you."


"Da nada," he chuckled as if at some private joke.

One eyebrow raised slowly. "No questions on your future? No requests to become the next J K Rowling?"

I shook my head. "I don't have the pretty legs for it."

He snorted, "Always a joke when you are scared, isn't it?"

"That or a White Russian."

"You dress better than the Dude, and you don't drink," he smiled softly.

"With the trouble I get into sober, can you imagine me drunk?"

He sipped his egg nog. "Yes, I can. And even with me being me that is scary."

I nodded to the empty tables. "Where are the other customers?"

"I made them uncomfortable. Can you imagine that?"

"Perhaps it was their pasts," I said.

His face grew sad. "Or their futures."

I had to remove that sadness somehow. "Joshua, what did the zero say to the eight?"

Joshua, being Joshua, spoke the answer with me. "What a lovely belt you have on."

He massaged his temples with his long, strong fingers, and I saw the small scars on his forehead from the last present humans had given him.

He shook his head. "That has got to be the worst joke told for the best reason I have ever heard."

He winked, and it struck me as a rather sad one. "Catch you later."

And He was gone.

"Looking forward to it," I whispered.

I sipped my own egg nog and grimaced. Jeez, He was right. This stuff did taste terrible.

Saturday, December 23, 2023


There are moments that happen that change how you look on life and on what is and is not possible.  
You are never the same afterwards.  

 The Nativity was one of those times.

 There is even a word for this situation: “Liminality.” 

“Liminality” is the word for the threshold moment: 

from the Latin root limin, meaning the centerline of the doorway.

Liminality is the moment of crossing over. 

It describes the transitional phase of personal change, 

where one is neither in an old state of being nor a new, 

and not quite aware of the implications of the event. 

All the stages of life include liminality

Life is nothing but moments of crossing over. 

Liminality is why we celebrate Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve but not other holidays’ eves.

We celebrate Christmas Eve 

because Jesus is traditionally thought to have been born at midnight.  

And we celebrate New Year’s Eve because midnight is when the year changes. 

Christmas Eve is a threshold moment.

We can choose to stay on the other side of the moment, 

refusing to enter and accept what gifts await us.

After all, for most of the world there is still no room in the Inn for He who breathed the world into existence.

Christmas Eve is the time to reflect on what awaits us beyond whatever threshold we choose to cross ...

to reflect on what thresholds we thought would always be there but now are gone, 

along with the mortal hearts that waited for us beyond them.

Whatever you believe, 

it can be a healing thing to take Christmas Eve to reflect on all the gifts given to you this past year

and on what needs exist in your surroundings that you can be an agent of healing by meeting. 

Christmas Eve revives the wonder of childhood 

where snowflakes sing on their way down to the ground, 

where faeries ice skate on bird baths, 

and magic waits for us to open the door of our hearts to let it in.


Pie Jesu
Qui tollis peccata mundi
Dona eis requiem


Merciful Jesus
Who takes away the sins of the world
Grant them rest