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Abiding Blog
(2013-2014 Archives)
Lucki Melander Wilder

Still digging the blogs. Keep up the good works.  -- Jim (a reader since the first-ever announcement)

These are personal ruminations on divers and sundry topics of interest to me and, I hope, also to you. Some are long, some are short. Some are silly, some are serious. Some are trivial, some are profound. Nor is it always easy to tell which is which, even for me. And all the opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

Feel free to email me to subscribe and receive notice of new entries, with feedback, or if there are any topics you would like me to ruminate about. Not all feedback necessarily appears in this page, and may be edited for links, typos, multi-source redundancy, and relevancy. That doesn't mean, though, that we consider negative feedback irrelevant or refuse to post it, as negative feedback can often help us learn to do more and better.


Grover - Oh, I Am So Embarrassed

One of my son Rey's favorite books when he was a kid was Sesame Street's The Monster at the End of This Book [read it here] or [BUY IT NOW] by author Jon Stone and illustrator Mike Smollin.

***SPOILER ALERT*** The story's narrator, Grover - having read the title of the book and panicked - does everything in his power, from begging the reader to building a brick wall, to prevent you from turning the pages. Because he is afraid of the monster at the end of this book. Only to discover on the last page of the story that HE IS the monster at the end of this book. Then, when you turn to the usual blank page behind the end of the story, it’s not blank. There’s a cameo of Grover with his hands on his face, saying, “Oh, I am so embarrassed.” *END SPOILER ALERT*

Crimson Eleven Delight PetrichorAnd I know exactly how he feels.

I've known some Lorens in my time. Admittedly when someone said the name early on, my first thought was always actress Sophia Loren. But times change and horizons expand. Loren wasn't just a surname, it became a given name, too. There's that girl I went to school with. There's the Christian pastor - actually, she and her husband are both pastors - whom I served with in the chaplaincy of Occupy Chicago. And then, or actually now, there's Loren Sherman. Owner of Sherman's Planet. Creator and copyright owner of Circular Gallifreyan. Also owner of one of my hand-embroidered Circular Gallifreyan patches, having ordered the ever-popular Crimson Eleven Delight Petrichor.

In this modern day of virtual communications, of course, it's possible to "know" someone, even be friendly with them, without ever meeting them. Without ever seeing them. Without ever talking on the phone with them. That's what Loren Sherman and I did. Met, communicated, consulted, worked together essentially via email. So imagine my chagrin when, after having made public reference to her on my website and in email announcements, I learned that she isn't a she ... he's a he.

Yep, I ASSUMEd, and you know that old joke, don't you?

Needless to say, I fixed my website references. But, hey, those emails were long gone to hundreds and hundreds of inboxes. And somebody somewhere was probably gonna leave a copy lying around on their hard drive or in the cloud until it came back to bite me. What to do? What to do?

Well, what I did was immediately contact Loren and apologize. Sincerely. Abjectly. Profusely. His response?

Haha, I’m not mad at all. It's a common mistake!

Common or not, I'm not gonna pretend it didn't happen. It did. I goofed. And oh, I am so embarrassed.

Khoda hafez,

P.S.  Speaking of Circular Gallifreyan patches and other things Loren-Shermany, check out my January sale for Valentine's, Ayyam-i-Ha, and Naw-Ruz. The featured "I love you..." patch was also directly inspired by Loren. Yeah, him!

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Entries During

2014-12-31 Grovery

2014-11-05 Look-Alikes
The Wilders

2014-09-19 Ted
guest blogger: Rolf Schmidt
Cat Power

2014-09-16 Up!
The Wilders
2014-09-11 Someday?

2014-08-01 Yeeouch!
The Wilders

2014-06-20 Seasoning
The Wilders

2013-12-23 Easy
Whovian Stories

2013-11-30 Upstairs
"True" Stories
Whovian Stories

2013-10-31 Question
Whovian Stories

2013-09-25 Friction
Whovian Stories

2013-08-13 Choo
Whovian Stories

2013-07-13 Cake
Whovian Stories

2013-06-10 Submission

2013-03-01 Cat/Fish
Cat Power

2013-02-28 Boom!


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L O O K - A L I K E S

"Which of these IS like the other?"

It's been almost a year since I've told a celebrity-type story, but I woke up this morning thinking about this one. It's based on the fact that both Number One Son Rey and Number Two Son Mead spent many years of their lives looking like someone famous. And I have some real live anecdotes to prove that it's not just proud-mama talk.

Lemme start with Rey. I got this story directly from him. And it's not the kind of thing he'd exaggerate about. Rey loves going to Florida on vacation. One year, he and his then-girlfriend went down to the coast for a bout of fun in the sun. He'd booked their hotel ahead of time, of course. When they arrived and he gave his name and confirmation number, he began to get some strange reactions from several staff at the front desk. What the people said wasn't strange, but the way they said it was.

Twins of Stars"Oh, yes, we have your reservation right here, Mister (pause) Wilder."

"Will that be cash or charge, MIS-ter (eyebrow lift) WIL-der?"

"Do you wish to upgrade to our deluxe penthouse suite, MIS-ter (ahem) WHILE-derrr?"

Say what? PENThouse? Uh, do I look THAT rich?

He told me it took him a while after all that to determine what had been going on. No one wanted to talk out of school, if you catch my drift. But it seems the staff mistook him for Will Smith. Thought said celebrity was stepping out with some sweet young thing other than MRS. Smith. And - 'cuz, ya know, "Jones" would be just TOO obvious - assumed he was using another common-as-mud surname as cover.

Still, while it wasn't necessarily a case of "all black people look alike", shouldn't the staff have noticed that Rey was several shades lighter than Will Smith? Especially at the start of his vacation in the sun? But hey, maybe they thought it was all a matter of make-up and lighting.

Nowadays, Rey doesn't look as much like Will Smith. Especially since his alopecia areata has become universalis and robbed him of eyebrows and eyelashes. But the twin-ly bone structure is still there. Which means their facial features are still the same. As are their expressions. I can still see it even if few others can any more. And I'll tell you, it's fun watching a Will Smith movie and seeing "my son" up there on the big screen. (Just saw him being oh-so deep-voiced creepy in Winter's Tale. So it wasn't a, ya know, totally wasted two hours. Despite the fact that the movie not only did the book scant justice, it even excluded possibly the most interesting book character, Jackson Mead.)

Now, my second story isn't all hearsay. Because I witnessed part of it in person. Mead and I were coming home on the L very late one night - wee hours of the morning, actually - from the House of Worship in Wilmette. He lived in Evanston then, so he got off half-way through the ride, while I continued on to the end of the line at the Chicago border. As Mead exited the L car, five young people - Northwestern University students, maybe - were waiting to enter it. They all sat down right across from me. So I heard their whole conversation the rest of the way into Chicago.

The two white guys and the two white gals spent at least five minutes of the ten-minute ride discussing back and forth whether they had just seen Weird Al Yankovic exit the train. It wasn't him, was it? Yes, it WAS him. Are you SURE it was him? Well, it sure LOOKED like him. Etc. (I kept my mouth shut, of course. I was not going to make with them the mistake Mead once made.)

Finally, the one black sister said, "Oh, come on, guys, what would Weird Al Yankovic be doing on the L in Evanston in the middle of the night?" Nobody could think of what Weird Al Yankovic would be doing on the L in Evanston in the middle of the night. Not anything that seemed likely to them, anyway. Although some flights of fancy did fill up the rest of the ride. At the end, everybody sighed, sorry to have to relinquish their celebrity almost-encounter.

That's the part I saw. But it wasn't quite over. Not long afterwards, there was an SF convention on the West Coast that Mead had wanted to go to but didn't think he could make. Which is what he told our friends that were going. So when one of them saw Mead crossing the convention hotel lobby in California, he excitedly scurried over.

"Mead!" he exclaimed, "You're here! Cool. I thought you couldn't make it."

It took a "Who? What?" response and several seconds of conversation before our friend realized he had just accosted Al Yankovic. Weird. Naturally, he apologized. And was forgiven. I don't know if anyone would make the same mistake these days. Possibly. Al does still have that resemblance. Especially when he wears his glasses and crops his unruly mop.

Ya gotta wonder, though. There's a certain amount of fun and ego-boo to be had in being mistaken for a celebrity. What must the famous Weird Al have felt like, though, not only not being recognized as himself but even being mistaken for somebody else he'd never heard of. Ah well, c'est la vie.

Khoda hafez,

P.S.  I wonder if Will Smith ever got accosted by someone excitedly exclaiming, "Rey!"

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Lucki:   …keep an eye out for the next entry in this blog, which will be temporarily taken over by fellow writer and longtime reader Rolf Schmidt to regale us with a "Ted Talk" of sorts.
Kim:     I look forward to reading the "TED talk of sorts" from your upcoming guest blogger, one of my favorite writers.

It's been a while since I received the following email from Rolf.

On Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 10:52 AM, ROLF SCHMIDT wrote:
   Lucki - When I clicked your link to earthstarworks, the transporter beam did not rematerialize me exactly at the specified coordinates. This was due to a cross-teleporting cat inducing feedback in the phase coils. Much as I enjoyed reading about fish and cats (I have a teleporting cat myself, called "Ted"), I could not figure out for the life of me what this had to do with the cold war.
   After dreaming up several entirely plausible scenarios in which teleporting cats either cause or prevent nuclear holocaust, I almost decided to leave the whole thing as yet another one of life's unsolved mysteries. Then I came to the end of the Cat/Fish piece and saw the word "Boom!" Unlike most booms, that made everything fall into place.

Well, how could I resist? Since the plural of anecdote is data, and I can use all the evidence within reach, I wrote back to Rolf and asked if he'd do a guest blog this year about his teleporting cat. He graciously acquiesced, and we negotiated for an article in June. I had planned to publish it in August, but put it off at the last minute because I really wanted the chance to rant about what a PAIN my PT is. (But hey, worth it. See the article right below this one.) Here though, finally, is our guest "Ted Talk" from long-time reader and fellow writer Rolf Schmidt, a Dutch national currently living in Scotland (which is still part of the UK). Consider this Data Point 3.

Feline Teleportation – The Evidence

Ted, asleepAs I leave the room, Ted is hard at work earning his keep as a cat: that is, sleeping. He’s stretched to his full length on his sofa, basking in the warm glow of the open fireplace, head resting on his favourite cushion, all four feet up in the air.

I close the door behind me and walk into the kitchen. And there at the other end of the room, beside his empty dish in the corner by the fridge, Ted sits waiting for me. He looks up at me with that expression in his eyes that millennia of feline evolution have selected as being the most effective for making humans dispense food. I look back into the living room through the glass panel in the door. No, there are not two Teds; the sofa is now empty. There is only one Ted and he has just teleported himself over a distance of about eight metres, from the sofa in the living room, through the closed door, to his dish in the far corner of the kitchen.

Sceptics would say that the cat must have slipped past me without me noticing as I walked into the kitchen. But hey, I would have noticed a large cat underfoot.

Ted, awakeTed also leaves and re-enters the house by teleportation. For example when he suddenly feels like a bit of hunting, he just meows “energize!” and six kilos of cat become a weightless energy stream travelling at the speed of light. Forty nanoseconds later, a rematerialized streak of ginger fur with teeth and claws pounces out of thin air onto a juicy mouse that thought it was safe behind the garden shed. The exact range of Ted’s teleportation is unknown, but it is thought to enable excursions to nearby planets that support rodent life.

I am also convinced that Ted can telekinetically transport cat food from its storage jar on the shelf in the utility room, either into his dish on the floor or directly into his stomach. Non-believers in the special powers of cats might explain the food discrepancies as forgetfulness on my part. Others might suspect Ted of using hypnosis to erase my memories of feeding him, thereby scoring daily double doses of caloric know, to fuel all that teleporting.

But of course, it doesn't matter. We all know in our hearts that cats are the true masters of this planet, and that they have domesticated the human species merely to serve their every desire.


Book - Night TrainOK, Rolf, that's definitely one talented Ted there. Thanx for sharing him with us. Cool pix of him, too. Especially the one where he's teleported himself through some kind of cosmic wheel onto a perch with what appears to be a pair of infinity signs on it. Must be his launchpad for interplanetary travel, right? His couch looks mighty comfy, too; does he ever let you use it?

Khoda hafez,

P.S.  I encourage you to check out Rolf's book, available on Kindle, about a young engineer who begins a journey through the past--or present--or future--aboard a Night Train where birth, becoming, and destiny converge. (And remember, when you use our Buy It Now feature, you help support this website and Earthstar Works.)


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U P !

"Sad for your topic - but you made the best of it in your blog. Very interesting!" -- Kim

About that PT: Yeah, it's been well worth it. (And many thanx to all my readers who asked about it or offered well-wishes.) Like most people, I normally stand upright at a 90-degree angle; and when I walk, I normally lean forward about 10 degrees. With my injured achilles tendon, though, I wasn't even standing upright; I was locking my knees and leaning backwards a bit. Now, however, I've gone from that original -3 degrees of range of motion to +5, meaning that in less than two months I've already gained back 8 -- well over half -- of the 13 degrees of RoM I'd lost.

Not too shabby. As 'Abdu'l-Baha was wont to say, "Kam, kam, ruz bih ruz." (A little bit, a little bit, day by day. Or, more colloquially: Little by little, day by day.) There's less pain overall, though it still comes and goes. Plenty more work to do, of course; still, I was quite heartened by what I've achieved so far. Especially as it's hard for me to see improvement on a day-to-day basis.

Stacy's even letting me start on the first of what will eventually, I expect, be a whole slew of strengthening exercises. Those will be extremely important in the long run. Because the frayed part of the tendon will never actually unfray even after all the inflammation and tightness is gone. It'll get stronger, but it'll never be as strong and supple as it once was. So the surrounding tissue will have to pitch in and take up more of the burden.

On the Ball of One FootTo give you an idea of what I mean about tendon strength (and lack thereof), try this:

1. Stand up straight, with your hand on a wall or countertop beside you for balance.
2. Rise up on the balls of both feet for a couple of seconds.
3. Lower your heels back onto the floor.
4. Now bend your knee to lift and keep one foot up off the floor.
5. Finally, rise and stay up on the ball of the other foot alone.

Got it? Good for you. 'Cuz I can't do that. Not with my left foot. I can lift myself and stay up on the ball of my right foot just fine. But when I try to do the same thing with only my left foot -- and I mean I do try; I can feel my whole body trying to lift, and swear I can practically hear my brain yelling "Up, dammit!" -- the foot just sits there. Totally flat on the floor. No strength in the tendon. No lift. Yet.

I will be working on it, though. I will by gum get there. I asked Stacy if I'm still in her top 5 clients for motivation. And she said, "In the dictionary, where they need an example for the word 'motivation', I'm telling them to put your picture there." Ain't she sweet?

Khoda hafez,

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S O M E D A Y ?

"Not a prayer for 2,983 souls. A prayer for 3,002 souls."  (from Recount)

When the National 9/11 Museum opened in New York this past May 21st, I sent a letter to its director, Alice Greenwald (and also to President Obama). In it, I reprised what I'd written in this blog back on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Then I added a paragraph about something I hope can happen somday.

It is probably too soon, but perhaps someday - perhaps after all of the survivors have passed, or all those who lost loved ones, or all those who knew someone who died, or who knew someone who knew someone, or everyone who can remember that day, or everyone who was alive that day has passed - perhaps then, in one small niche at the end of the displays, the names and pictures of the nineteen hijackers will be included with the reminder that they, too, were victims of hatefulness who need our forgiveness and love. And then we will know, and show, that our healing has finally been accomplished.

Museum pictures of the 9/11 terroristsSee, that's the thing. The terrorists' pictures are in the museum; you can't tell the story without them. But the accompanying film has been criticized for seeming to lump all of Islam in with such fanatics. And to the best of my knowledge, there's nothing in that display that makes the point about their also being victims of one who stirred them up into so much hate and then sent them off to horribly die, too. And if we can't find it in us to forgive them, then we are all still their hostages.

There's nothing I can add to my heartfelt hope. Still, as I was watching a rerun of 2011's "9/11: In Our Own Words" this evening, I realized I wanted to share the thought with you.

Khoda hafez,

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Y E E O U C H !

"Which of these is not like the others?"

For the fourth time in the past decade, I'm undergoing some form of physical rehabilitative therapy. And boy, is this one different.

The first time was PT on my right shoulder and upper back after oncologic surgery removed parts of four muscles. I didn't officially start that therapy until the surgeon was satisfied that all post-surgical healing was completed. Normally, such PT involves two phases: first, range of motion; second, strength and endurance. Because of my impatience with my inability to reach for things with my right hand, though, I started doing careful stretches under propitious conditions at home. So by time I went for my PT evaluation, and much to the therapist's surprise, I already had complete range of motion and we just had to work on phase two.

Because torn muscle tissue can heal and form scar tissue, but can't grow back where it's been removed, the strengthening of my upper back led to imbalanced tension on my thoracolumbar fascia. Which created lower back problems. So after upper-back PT was finished and my upper right side was as strong as the upper left again, my primary care physician sent me back to PT for my lower back. Here too, range of motion was not the issue; strength and endurance was. Over time, I learned to keep my upper- and lower-back strength in sync through regular exercises, and I stopped listing to starboard.

My third bout of rehabilitative therapy was cardio rehab after my angioplasty. Again, there were no range of motion issues; after I was completely healed, building up cardio strength and endurance via a solid aerobics regimen was the order of the day.

This time, though, is different. Very different. As I told you last year:

Number Two Son Mead and my 8-year-old grandShoghi (whom I hadn't seen since he was a baby) came in from Vancouver Island for 9 days of Doctor Who and other amazing cultural highlights. They arrived on the 16th [of November]. Sunday we went to the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, then out for Chicago-style pizza. Monday was spent at the Field Museum (we're talking 4- to 7-hour visits, here), Tuesday at the Planetarium, Wednesday at the Art Institute, Thursday at the Museum of Science and Industry, and the final Sunday at the Shedd Aquarium. Friday I stayed home to ease achilles-area pain while they went to the Children's Museum on Navy Pier, though we all went to a wonderful Nineteen-Day Feast in Wilmette in the evening...Saturday we threw our little anniversary party. It started at noon and ended past midnight.

Well, that achilles-area pain was my own fault. I didn't want to slow Mead and Shoghi down. Or make them truncate any of our trips. So I used a daily prescription pain pill to ease the long hours of walking. I realized I was probably doing some damage in the process. But it was worth it to be with them for those nine days. The pain skyrocketed at Thursday lunch, though. When I accidentally stepped on a table foot and abruptly overstretched the tendon. Thought I was gonna fall over. Had to just sit and rest for a while.

Of course, once Mead and Shoghi had gone home, I immediately stopped the meds, and the pain started to ease up in the weeks following their visit. A little research showed me that tendon injuries take much longer to heal than bone or muscle injuries. (As I understand it from my PT guru, Stacy Malone on the Evanston Hospital campus, it's mainly because tendons have no blood supply of their own and have to depend on healing oxygen and nutrients and such crossing over from surrounding tissues.) After four months, though, I was still in trouble. Walking had gradually become painful even over short distances like a single kilometer. Climbing stairs was hard. Going down stairs was agonizing. Aerobics and most lower-body weight training had become impossible. And so, during my annual checkup, I asked to be referred back to PT.

Stacy is the same therapist I'd had the first two times. We work well together; and she told me that, of all the hundreds of patients she's had over the decades, I rank among the top five for motivation. Not the top 5%. The top 5! Anyway, Stacy explained that sometimes the body tries to be efficient about using its resources. So, when healing has progressed to some sort of functional level, the body goes "OK, that's good enough." And stops healing. In such cases, the area has to be restimulated into doing more healing. And a primary stimulant for healing, wouldn't you just know it, is pain. That's why a conscientious doctor carefully considers how much pain medication to give someone. Too little and the body is too exhausted by pain to heal. Too much and the absence of pain makes the body unaware of the need to heal.

Yeeouch!Stacy realized that my achilles tendon - the largest and strongest tendon in the human body - had frayed and tightened up, becoming more and more irritated over time. She said we'd have to reestablish range of motion with - for starters anyway - ultrasound therapy, massage, on-site exercises, and a twice-daily at-home stretching regimen. And it's been a whole new experience. Because while building strength and endurance through exercise can involve pain, it's that "good" kind of burn. Restoring one's range of motion, though, hurts...and not in a fun way at all. This is really one of those cases where it's gonna, and gotta, get way worse before it'll get any better.

I'll tell you, I have a whole new sympathy for people who need to go through this kind of PT. It really is a pain! After all, unlike phase-two therapy that's done after healing is completed, this is stuff done to re-kickstart healing in an area that's been and still is constantly irritated. Even just running the ultrasound thingy over my ankle was painful at first. The massage is anything but relaxing. And the stretches continue to be painful. Because each time I get to an angle more acute than the initial 90-degree level, I have to push even farther. And I'm only dealing with one lousy tendon. Imagine if whole big swaths of my corpus were involved. Um, no, on second thought, let's don't.

Ah well, it's worth it to have the hope that I'll get back to fun things. Like step aerobics and those five-mile walks to the House of Worship. To say nothing of bypassing all those snail-slow escalators in the L station and hospital and such. Wish me luck. Healing prayers appreciated. And keep an eye out for the next entry in this blog, which will be temporarily taken over by fellow writer and longtime reader Rolf Schmidt to regale us with a "Ted Talk" of sorts.

Khoda hafez,

Mon, Aug 11,, 2014 at 12:47 AM, Kim wrote:
Hi Lucki,
   Sad for your topic - but you made the best of it in your blog.  Very interesting!
   And I look forward to reading the "TED talk of sorts" from your upcoming guest blogger, one of my favorite writers.
  Lucki responds to Kim:
  Yep, patience pays off in spades … or at least in Abiding Blogs.

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"It's 6:20."   -- Anonymous

A long-time friend of mine, Lori Hewett, having migrated to Chicago from California, used to complain that the Windy City had no seasons. Naturally, I asked:

"What do you mean, no seasons?"
"You know, summer, fall, winter, spring. I miss spring."
"Are you kidding? Of course we have seasons. We have spring. Remember, we had two weeks of spring in December. Six days of it in January. A couple in February and April. A bunch in June. And I bet we'll have some in July, too."
"No, you idiot, I mean whole seasons. One at a time. Three months. In a row."
"Well, this is Chicago. If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."

RainstormBut sometimes it takes more than a minute. Like now, when thunderstorm season is once more revving up. So are you ready for an electrifying story? (And don't you just love my lightning wit?)

On my way to a 6:30 PM twelve-step meeting, I was caught out in a really violent thunderstorm. Since I was coming from someplace else, not home, I was unexpectedly over half an hour early and the meeting place was not yet open. However, having a few seconds warning of the impending deluge, I was able to duck into a doorway under an awning across the street. Just in time. The wind kicked into high gear. Rain started falling in sheets (blankets and bedspreads, even). Lightning zigzagged every which way. And the thunderclaps kept triggering car alarms.

I’d forgotten my watch (which is unusual for me) and don't have a smartphone. So as time passed and the storm raged on, I wondered if perhaps it was already 6:30 and the meeting secretary would not arrive at all. Meaning I'd need to brave the storm and head home. Needless to say, no one else was trying to walk around in the drenching downpour, either. Finally though, a young man, Hispanic by the look of him, came out of the doorway I was standing by. I asked him if he knew the time, but he did not. He walked to the end of the awning, then ran a few doors farther south and entered a store.

Several minutes later, as the rain was slowing down to a dull roar, the same young man exited the store. Came back north to me. Told me it was 6:20. Then headed south again. How thoughtful of him! I thanked him for telling me the time. I neglected to especially thank him for going out of his way in the rain to do so. (Lemme tell you, it wasn't two minutes before I started kicking myself about that omission.)

There was a lesson there, you see. I try not to let that kind of opportunity slip by too often. Because I know how much it warms my heart when someone else thanks me for a so-called random act of kindness. But sometimes I do let the chance slip by me. So I need to keep reminding myself: Remember to thank people who do special things for you, even—especially—when they didn't think it was anything special. Savor your chances to say so. Saying so is always in season, and it just might spice up their day.

Khoda hafez,

Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 9:57 PM, Kim wrote:
   I enjoyed your blog today - mentioning the Chicago weather, and the kindness that you acknowledged, but not fully acknowledged.
Big hugs,
  Lucki responds to Kim:
  Thank you, Kim. Yeah, nothing like an attack of l'esprit d'escalier - be it a matter of wonderous wit or common courtesy - to make one feel more than a day late and a dollar short. But it does motivate me to do better next time ... assuming/hoping there is a next time.

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Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God, you will love them...Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls. He created them, trains and provides for them, endows them with capacity and life, sight and hearing; therefore, they are the signs of His grandeur.     -- 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

Yes, you've seen all five of the Doctor Who stories I promised. But, even though the 50th anniversary is a month in the past, I'm ending this series with one more story. Because, as Mead and I reiterated to ourselves during his visit, it contained a lesson we both had to learn. And so, my sixth - and, for here and now, final - personal story.

Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, & Peter DavisonAt one Doctor Who convention out near O'Hare Airport, Mead and I attended a panel session that included five guys: Nicholas Courtney (UNIT founder Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart), Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor), John Nathan-Turner (ninth and so far longest-serving producer), Jon Pertwee (Third Doctor), and Patrick Troughton (Second Doctor).

During the Q&A period, someone in the audience asked, "All you men on the panel, do you ever have any, um, you know, 'trouble' with American fem fen?"

The way they were seated, Pat was logically the first to answer. He sighed a little wistfully and said, "No-o-o."

At which point Jon, speaking out of turn, laughingly exuded, "Yes, thank God!"

The audience laughed with Jon; and Peter, evidently knowing he couldn't top that, wisely decided to just keep his mouth shut. (Peter was like that. Jon was always throwing out one-liners, on the theory that some of them would be hilarious enough to make up for all the half-hits and duds. Peter, OTOH, would wait and wait until he had a can't-miss line. So once in a great while, he'd fire one off. And he never missed. Never. EVER. His one-liners were invariably so spot-on that you couldn't even remember them later because they were so apropos of the moment. You just remembered laughing your head off.)

Nicholas Courtney as Lethbridge-StewartThen Nicholas Courtney decided to pick up the ball. After all, the questioner had asked input from "all you men". But something unfortunate happened.

"No," he said, "American girls are easy."

And the audience booed. Well, mostly the fem fen sat in stunned silence while scads of guys booed. Nicholas looked flabbergasted. After the response Jon got, I imagine audience censure was the last thing he expected. I don't remember if Mead was one of the guys who booed. Probably not. Doesn't seem like his style, even back then. I didn't boo; I was one of the stunned-silent: What in heaven's name was he THINKING? And out LOUD!

I don't know if John Nathan-Turner had been planning to say anything, too. He never got/took the chance. The moderator quickly passed the baton to a new questioner.

It was only recently that Mead and I, reminiscing about the old days, looked at what had happened with more mature eyes. More Baha'i eyes, perhaps. More fault-covering eyes. In any case, it occurred to both of us - and we confirmed it with each other - that maybe Nicholas had meant exactly what we and the rest of the audience thought he meant. That American gals were of "easy virtue". But maybe, just maybe, we and the rest of the audience did him an injustice, this actor whom one of the show's writers called "the sweetest of gentlemen". Maybe he was using a Britishism to say that American femfen, especially the younger generations, were easy on one's mind or spirit. Welcoming. Likeable. Friendly. And most of all, willing to be open and demonstrative - more so than their more formal British counterparts - with their in-public appreciation of his character and his acting.

Maybe that's all he meant. And if so, it's no wonder he looked like we'd just hit him in the sternum with a Dalek plunger. If he were still alive, I think I'd be tempted to write him a letter of apology for my knee-jerk reaction to his words so long ago. Not because I really know whether he was being a jerk or not. Because I automatically assumed he was being a jerk. Because I was quick to take offense. Because I didn't stop to think that I might be misunderstanding him. And because it took me so long to look back with a fault-covering, a forgiving, a loving, a grandeur-seeing eye.

I apologize, Mr. Courtney.

Now, to bring things up to date, until Christmas anyway: What Matt Smith line, repeated to me months later, triggered one of most profound spiritual realizations of my life? The answer - yep, you guessed it - is in Twigs of a Family Tree.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. BTW, the new acquisitions editor at the US Publishing Trust declined the expansion Terry had requested five years earlier. That's OK; time passes, needs change, and it's not like the manuscript has disappeared. There are other possibilities for publication, and Mead and I will be vigorously pursuing them in 2014. Wish us luck; prayers always appreciated.

And as I've mentioned before, let us know if you think Twigs is something you'd like to read. We're still open to sharing the book with a few more advance reviewers, and we'll certainly keep an announcement list for when it's published. To say nothing of the fact that if you have any networkable connections with, or even just referrals to, publishers you think might be interested, please do get in touch with us.

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"Good night, now."

Number Two Son Mead and my 8-year-old grandShoghi (whom I hadn't seen since he was a baby) came in from Vancouver Island for 9 days of Doctor Who and other amazing cultural highlights. They arrived on the 16th. Sunday we went to the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, then out for Chicago-style pizza. Monday was spent at the Field Museum (we're talking 4- to 7-hour visits, here), Tuesday at the Planetarium, Wednesday at the Art Institute, Thursday at the Museum of Science and Industry, and the final Sunday at the Shedd Aquarium. Friday I stayed home to ease achilles-area pain while they went to the Children's Museum on Navy Pier, though we all went to a wonderful Nineteen-Day Feast in Wilmette in the evening. I expect Mead will be talking about some of the doings in his blog, so check it out every once in a while.

Evenings were spent watching as much of the week-long Doctor Who "takeover" programming as possible. Sometimes, Mead and I, into the wee hours of the morning. And Saturday! Oh, frabjous Saturday! Saturday we threw our little anniversary party. It started at noon and ended past midnight. And people (including Number One Son Rey and my grandMya) came. Six for the simulcast. Eight for the evening encore. Three for the late night encore (though by then, Shoghi was abed and could no longer help Grams and Papa with the hosting).

The anniversary episode was amazing. The Doctors were magnificent. All four of them. And talk about Baha'i-resonant themes all over the place: There's always an alternative to war. Even when you can't find an alternative to war, there's always an alternative to total destruction. Even when you can't find an alternative to total destruction, there's always room for hope. Even when you think there's no hope, there is. Even when you think you're totally on your own, you are never alone. Even when you alone have no answers, you can use consultation. Honestly sharing your ideas with and listening to people. Without getting bogged down in "us/them-ism" and idea "ownership" and who is smarter or more experienced. Seeking an answer. And the answer will come. And when you think it's finished, for good or ill, it isn't. It's a process. Reflect on it and you'll start to see where to go, what to do, next. Because there always is a next.

And all that's just scratching the surface of this stunning, rich, deep, and nuanced episode. How that show has grown!

Enough of that for now. Here's this month's installment - the fifth - of personal Doctoral stories.

Mead is the type of guy who doesn't get bogged down in dogged restrictions, whether self-imposed or otherwise. So his way of really enjoying an SF convention is to wander around and see what materializes. That includes haunting the stairwells when other people are letting elevators set their limits.

At one Whovian convention, Mead was at late-night loose ends because Jon was doing a cabaret act that under-21s weren't allowed into, and no other activities were scheduled. Not yet tired enough to want to sleep, Mead started meandering through the hotel, no particular destination in mind. He thereby semi-accidentally bypassed a security closeout on the elevators by taking, unbeknownst to him, an accessible stairwell up to the floor where the stars were staying. This was wa-a-ay before 9/11 paranoia erupted all over the States, of course. So he found the stairwell door unlocked and unguarded. And wandered onto the celebrity floor unimpeded. Not that there was much to see or hear.

Peter DavisonNot, that is, until he passed one of the rooms, only to have Peter Davison -- togged out for the night in his sleepwear -- rattle the doorknob and then open his hotel room door from the inside. Because he was trying to figure out how the locking mechanism worked ... and was too jet lagged and exhausted to see straight.

Naturally, Mead stopped and politely offered to help. Davison gratefully accepted the assistance, Mead figured out how to lock the door from the inside, they exchanged "good nights", and Peter gratefully closed up and toddled off to his well-earned beddy bye.

OK, maybe it's not the most exciting of stories ever. But it did happen. And really, how many people can say they've not only seen, but served as an assistant to, the Fifth Doctor clad in his powder blue night togs?

In case you're wondering what I was doing (and, sad but true, talking myself out of doing) downstairs while this little Davison drama was going on upstairs, well, you'll just have to wait and read about it when Twigs of a Family Tree comes out.

Khoda hafez,

Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 12:17 PM, Lily wrote:
Hi, Lucki
  Seems you were quite happily busy. I am happy for you. Sorry that I am not at all into Dr. Who's stories, and don't get excited about it.

  Lucki responds to Lily:
  Ah, too bad. Baha'is from all over (and I do mean ALL over ...  not just Chgo, not just the US) are exuding about how excellent the production was & all the Baha'i values that it addressed. Personally, I thought the end-of-war message being simulcast to so many people in 94 countries (95 if you count that it went into the "undiscovered country" of outer space, too) was certainly cool, but the emphasis on the importance of consultation was the most stunning. But that's just me. (Well, no, that's not just me, 'cuz Mead concurred, & so did my spiritual mother - & your special friend - Rezvanieh.)

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#I have a question.#

Here is the fourth installment of personal stories in honor of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who on Saturday, November 23, 2013. Enjoy! (And in case you're wondering, hash marks are sometimes used instead of quotation marks to indicate that a conversation is telepathic rather than oral.)

I know it's very late in the month; but if you thought I'd actually run out of stories to continue this series, you're wrong. I haven't.

Whenever Mead and I attended conventions together, whether litcons (for readers of SF, which were what we usually attended) or media cons (Doctor Who cons were really the only media cons we went to), we always had something strange and wonderful happen.

One such convention featured a huge Q&A panel of Doctors, other series actors, and even creators. By time Mead and I got to the venue, which held thousands, the seats were already filled up and people were starting to sit on the floor. We went to the front of the hall and sat on the floor in front of center stage, in the foremost of a series of rows that were forming in front of the first row of seats. Before long, several more floor-sitter rows had formed in front of us.

Before the session started, though, convention staff came down the aisles and started saying that fire safety regulations demanded at least six feet of free floor space in front of the stage. They started instructing floor-sitters to move, and all three rows of people in front of us were cleared out. Suddenly, we were in the front row again. The staff, however, was satisfied with the space that had opened up, and ours was the frontmost row that didn't get instructed to move. Well, that was nice.

The fun wasn't over, though. When all the panelists came in, Jon Pertwee ended up sitting stage left, "two o'clock high" from where I was seated. I thought it would've been even more fun if my old friend had ended up center stage, right in front of me. Still, I was quite happy to have an unobstructed view even if he wasn't that close.

After each panel member was individually recognized, the floor was opened for questions. Hundreds of hands immediately went up. Each panelist in turn got to pick a questioner, and the session proceeded apace.

Now, you have to picture how many hands shot up every time the baton passed. And how excitedly attendees started waving their arms in the air and even jumping up and down and screaming to get noticed. The sad part was that there was a question I wanted to ask Jon. Not 'cuz I didn't know the answer. Because I thought it'd give him a special chance to shine. But waving my arms in the air, jumping up and down, and screaming to get noticed just aren't my dish of tea. Especially in competition with dozens or hundreds of others doing likewise. I mean, what are the chances in a melee like that?

I mentioned in an aside to Mead that I had a good question but had no intention of trying to ask it with the chances so slim against ever being picked no matter how big a fool I made of myself. He sympathized, then suggested that maybe I could do something like, I dunno, psychically alert Jon.

Jon Pertwee on convention panelWell, that sounded promising. So I looked at Jon, thinking very loudly about wanting to ask a question. Suddenly, he turned his head and looked straight at me. I tilted my chin up just a tad: #I have a question.#  He almost imperceptibly nodded once: #OK, I'll pick you next.#  (See, maybe it's not only my cats who have psychic powers.) When the baton passed to him again, the arm waving and jumping up and down and screaming erupted as usual. I calmly raised my right hand to just above my head, and Jon immediately called on me. So I asked my question.

And the audience cheered. Not at Jon, you understand. He hadn't answered yet. They applauded my question!

Which was: "Will you please show us why you're known as the Man of a Thousand Voices?"

Jon grinned and, sure 'nuf, did a good four-minute riff on all the dialects and tones of voice he was able to effect. Including how the Doctor got away - in episode 4 of Jon's six-part anti-pollution story "The Green Death" - with disguising himself first as a Welsh milkman and then as a cleaning lady. (Halloween, anyone?) Needless to say, great fun was had by all. Including Jon. He loved showing off that talent. And I don't blame him.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Mental telepathy and all. Remember, Mead is my witness.

I used my knowledge of Jon's favorite things on several occasions. You'll have to wait to read Twigs of a Family Tree, though, to find out which of his interests I used to invite him to visit the House of Worship in Wilmette.

Khoda hafez,

Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 3:05 PM, Karen wrote:
   LOL! It seems like anytime I see a vid of Rob Paulsen at a con, someone's asking him to do Yakko Warner's "all the countries in the world" song, though he's voiced a lot of other characters. I would have put him, Maurice LaMarche, and definitely Dan Castellanata up front as the heirs to Mel Blanc's "man with a thousand voices." Did not know this about Jon Pertwee.
   And are you anywhere where the DW 50th anniversary special is going to be simulcast in theaters? I thought we'd have a chance what with so much filming in the Salt Lake area, the film-awareness generated by things like the Sundance Film Festival, and a passel of Who fans, but alas. We'll probably have to torrent. And it's not even actually Thanksgiving week here, so just our little family of 3. I've loved John Hurt since I saw him as Caligula in the long-ago "I, Claudius," done on Masterpiece Theatre (I really wished they'd have let Derek Jacobi go on as the Master for just a few minutes more after he got the Chameleon Arch open in "Utopia"), and I'm curious what they're finally going to do with the Time War.
  Lucki responds to Karen:
   Yeah, well, I suppose one's age/era and what country one is a famous actor in has something to do with getting a title like that.
   I'm going to watching it at home with family and any other fen who want to come. I'm equally curious about John Hurt's role and the Time War.
   And I concur about being willing to watch Derek Jacobi for (way more than) just a few minutes more. But his portrayal really taught me something important about the Master, though I didn't realize it until after "The End of Time."
Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 6:55 PM, Dru wrote:
   Wasn't the 10th doctor special with Stolen Earth awesome? One of my faves. Cross-pollination of characters!
  Lucki responds to Dru:
  That it was. Just rewatched it. Oldies but goodies. (Well, no, I suppose it's too recent for that; oldies would be the classic era, wouldn't it?) Don't you think, though, that having all those companions in the TARDIS for more than a minute would – piloting assistance notwithstanding - drive the Doctor battier than he already is? Talk about madman in a box!

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"...they seemed to get more than the usual mileage over how different their regenerations had turned out."

Here is the third installment of personal stories in honor of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who on Saturday, November 23, 2013. Enjoy!

At another Whovian convention that Mead and I attended together, three of the Doctors were on a panel together: Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, and Peter Davison. They came onstage through a prop TARDIS. Right from the start, Pat and Jon played up their rivalry. Both of them insisted on being first man out of the TARDIS, with poor Peter caught in the middle of their tussle. When they finally all shlumped out onto the stage, Peter made a show of sitting between Pat and Jon to keep them apart.

Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton as the Third and Second DoctorThe prickly feelings weren’t all for show, either. One of the major dissimilarities was the way each approached their acting. To the best of my knowledge, Jon never read full scripts. He scanned for, marked, and memorized his cues and his lines, and that was it; he didn't delve into the rest of the script. Which is one of the reasons that Pat - the other Doctor I knew (though, sadly, not nearly as well) and admired - and Jon were like oil and water when they worked together. ‘Cuz Pat knew the whole story and would sometimes change his lines when it felt right. At which point, Jon would be lost, 'cuz Pat didn't deliver the exact cue Jon had memorized. (I gotta admit that Pat's acting style was closer to my own. I was also interested in the whole script and known to ad lib on occasion. And thanked Thalia / Melpomene when my scene partners could, too.) So they'd end up sorta hollering at each other:

   "Why don't you deliver your line the way it's written, you scruffy little man?"
   "It's close enough. Why can't you recognize it from context, you old scarecrow?"

Or words to that effect. They definitely were a pair.

As one of our readers said recently, “They must have used that personal friction in the show to good advantage. In the multi-Doctor shows like The 3/5/etc Doctors they were both in, they seemed to get more than the usual mileage over how different their regenerations had turned out.”

Patrick TroughtonShe’s right. They used it onstage when they did conventions. Like when they were sitting on that panel with Peter Davison between them. At one point - I forget what question or comment triggered it - Jon said to Pat, who was wearing a short, scragglyish beard, "Why don't you shave, you scuzzy little man?" And Pat retorted to Jon, who at the time was, as they say, at liberty, "Because I'm working." At which point Jon stood straight up out of his chair, glared at Pat – in the process looming over Peter, who sorta played up a cringe - bowed, said, "Touche, Patrick!" and sat down. [Cue the applause.]

I honestly don't know if that exchange was a spur-of-the-moment improv, an ad lib from a previous occasion that garnered repetition-worthy applause, or something the two cooked up together on the sly. It was just fun, seeing Pat - the less appreciated and less adept at, or maybe just less prone to, joking about others - one-up Jon in front of adoring fans. And Jon respond with Pat-like class.

Now, just to keep your Who-loving mind occupied until next time, guess which of the four Doctor actors I’ve encountered in person did something unexpected to greet me. And what that something was. Of course, you’ll have to wait until Twigs of a Family Tree comes out to check your answer.

Khoda hafez,

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Romana:   I told you you've got the time wrong.
The Doctor:  Yes, but you're always saying that.
Romana:  You're always getting the time wrong.

Here is the second personal story in honor of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who on Saturday, November 23, 2013. By the way, and of special import to Mead's old-time friends in Chicagoland, he and Shoghi will be visiting Chicago the week before Thanksgiving so that we can watch the anniversary episode together.

At one Whovian convention that Mead and I attended, Third Doctor Jon Pertiwee brought with him an episode of his new series, Worzel Gummidge, the adventures of a tragicomic scarecrow with interchangeable heads who could come to life and often befriended children. Well, despite being way too old for that particular target audience, Mead and I decided to attend the showing if for no other reason than to see what our old friend was up to gig-wise. However, Jon had been accidentally provided with a PAL, instead of NTSC, copy and there was no compatible player to run that European format on. So instead, the video-room crew decided to treat the relatively small crowd of folks who'd showed up for Worzel Gummidge to what there was of "Shada", the Doctor Who episode that was never completed due to a writers strike. (Some of that footage was used to include the Fourth Doctor in "The Five Doctors" 20th-anniversary episode, since Tom Baker declined to take part in that ep.) Since they didn't make a general convention-wide announcement about the change, only the die-hard fans already in the room knew what was up. Needless to say, we greeted the substitution with applause.

You can see on Youtube what "Shada" would’ve sorta looked like, as it was later edited together with narration and low-tech animation to cover some of the unfilmed — and possibly unwritten — scenes. (It's a multi-parter, starting with Tom Baker's explanation.) But we saw the raw footage. In the order the scenes were shot (which has nothing to do with their order in the finalized episode). With little in the way of music, sound effects, or special effects. For us, it was an interesting experience in filling in the blanks and understanding how effects work. For example: When buttons were pushed in the spaceship, we just heard a dull click. No buzzes, no beeps, no burbles. When the Doctor heard voices at the bridge, we didn’t. There was just long seconds of "dead air". In some of the dialogues with K9, Leeson’s voice hadn’t yet been added. More long seconds of silence. When the dimensional doorway to the Professor’s TARDIS appeared, we realized how that effect was more physical and less post-production than we would’ve assumed. And when the mind-draining sphere did things like chase the Doctor down the hill, there was no sphere.

One thing we definitely did hear and see, though, was the ten-man choir singing “Chattanooga Choo Choo” as the Doctor flew by on his bicycle. Rumor had it for a while that the choir noticed where the filming would be taking place, and simply stepped into the shot and started singing, with the director deciding to leave it in. That wasn’t the way it happened, though. And very probably could’ve led to some litigious action if it had. In actuality, the Cambridge University choir was put in the episode after the leader of the group talked to Pennant Roberts, the "Shada" director, at a bar the night before the scene was shot. Still, the guys must have been devastated when they found out the episode wouldn’t ever air. (Maybe even almost as devasted as I was about not inviting Patrick Troughton to the House of Worship, but that's another story you'll find in Twigs of a Family Tree when it comes out.) OTOH, because “Shada” never aired, their story became a unique and more interesting, memorable, and lasting part of the Doctor Who legacy.

Khoda hafez,

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"He reminds me of my younger self."

On Saturday, November 23, 2013 the BBC (including BBC America) will broadcast the 50th-anniversary episode of Doctor Who. While I did not see the premiere on November 23, 1963 because the show didn't come to the US until 1968, I've been a fan ever since PBS started broadcasting it here. In honor of the upcoming anniversary, each month from now 'til then I’ll be sharing a personal story about Doctors from the classic era. Number Two Son, Mead Simon, also figures prominently in these stories. We were both such fans that we used to watch it together via phone, he in Highland Park and I in Chicago, when WTTW broadcast it late Sunday nights. And while both of us attended many literary science fiction conventions over the years, often together, we disdained media SF cons ... except we made a few exceptions for The Doctor.

Granada Theatre in ChicagoMany years ago, when Chicago’s Granada Theatre was still in existence, Jon Pertwee - the actor who portrayed the Third Doctor - was the headline attraction at a Whovian convention held there. That was back before such conventions got so big you couldn’t find yourself in them. (Just to give you an idea of how they unexpectedly exploded: When the BBC decided to do a week-long Doctor Who Festival in England one year back then, they estimated - or maybe just hoped - they’d have about 20,000 attendees over the course of the event. They were totally gobsmacked - and woefully unprepared - when 20,000 people showed up on the first day.) Anyway, this convention happened to fall right around Jon’s July 7 birthday; and Mead, a teen at the time, wanted to honor that in some fun way.

Well, I’m always game for that kind of thing. So while he made a pan of his fudgy chocolate Diabetic’s Doom cake, I sat down and worked out the bones of an improv skit. It basically involved Mead presenting the cake to Jon, leading Jon into expressing interest in tasting it, then going through a whole rigmarole of emptying out his cluttered pockets looking for a spoon for Jon to use. (Fans of classic Doctor Who will fondly remember that recurring theme.) I ran a loose rehearsal or two (really more like table reads) with Mead, confident that Jon - who wasn’t forewarned because Mead wanted to surprise him - would have no trouble keeping up.

Jon Pertwee as the Third DoctorSure enough, when Mead breezed past Security (who obviously assumed he belonged there) and walked onstage in his long black velvet cape with cake pan in hand, Jon picked up on the doings in a snap. After a little birthday byplay, Jon expressed cautious interest in the cake itself. Mead handed Jon the cake pan, then started going through his own pockets, pulling out item after item that we’d stashed in them. I don’t remember what all they were, but I think they included a pen, a baby's colorful key ring, a green glass dangle, an elegant hanky, a purple rabbit’s foot, and two or three other props.

As he brought out each object, Mead "distractedly" handed it to Jon while starting to look for the next one. Jon adlibbed some lines about the items. Again, I don’t remember them all, but I remember him saying that Mead had just given him the keys to the family car, as well as doing an “unlucky for it” take on the rabbit’s foot. In any case, since he had only one hand free, the other being full of cake pan, Jon soon started stuffing Mead’s jetsam into his own pockets.

Finally, Mead pulled out a plastic spoon sealed in cellophane, gave it to Jon, and took back the cake pan. Jon unwrapped the spoon with a broad flourish, dug into the cake, then pretended to become suspicious and held out the spoonful for Mead to eat. After Mead had tasted the cake, Jon ate some with a great show of enjoyment. (Mead told me afterwards that he’d been tempted, when Jon fed him the cake, to fall straight down as if poisoned, but didn’t do so because he was holding the cake. I thought that was definitely a wise decision.)

As Jon savored his cake, some questions started to arise from the audience. Someone asked if it was really Jon’s birthday, and he said yes. Someone else asked if he'd known about the skit ahead of time, and Jon said no. A third person asked if there was going to be cake for everybody, and Mead said no. And another guy asked if Mead was a fellow actor and friend of Jon’s.

At which point, Mead made his only mistake. He said no. And thereby stepped on whatever line Jon had been about to deliver. I could’ve screamed. (And, Mead told me later, he could've immediately kicked himself, too.) I so wanted to know what Jon would’ve said. Later, I expressed my curiosity; but Jon wouldn’t tell. In all the years we knew each other, he never said. Perhaps it was - at least initially, whether or not he later simply didn't remember - his version of tough love. Teaching Mead to never again step on someone’s line like that. Especially someone with vastly more improv experience. Especially *gasp* the star.

But there was another upshot. Since Jon had never met Mead before the birthday skit (nor did he know I was the one who’d coached him), Mead was just this random fan Jon had fun with. And Jon remembered it fondly. Which served Mead well when, near the end of the convention, they ran a Doctor Who Lookalike Contest. The contestants were divided into groups based on which era of Doctor or Companion they were costumed as, with one winner apiece. I urged Mead to enter the contest as the Third Doctor. He felt that his simple black slacks, white shirt, and curly black mop didn’t portray Jon’s Doctor even with the velvet cape. But I asked him to trust me and do it anyway, so he did. Not that it was any big prize-y deal; winners merely got a free convention T-shirt. I just thought Jon, seeing Mead, would enjoy the memory of the fun they’d had onstage.

And I was right. Every other group had a single winner. When Jon judged the Third Doctor contestants, though, which he'd saved for last, he claimed that he couldn’t quite make up his mind and was awarding two T-shirts. One went to the guy who really did have the most outstanding Third Doctor costume. The other went to Mead. Because, Jon said, Mead reminded him of his younger self. I wasn't sure whether “his younger self ” referred to a young Jon or to his mental vision of a young Doctor. It didn’t matter. Mead was thrilled. So was I. For both their sakes.

No wonder Jon enjoyed seeing Mead every time they met. Actually asked once to take a photo with him. One time even went quite out of his way to find him. But that’s another story. One that you’ll have to wait for until my latest book - Twigs of a Family Tree - hits the shelves. I’ll let you know when that happens.

Khoda hafez,

Sat, Jul 13, 2013 at 6:51 PM, Juliet wrote:
   I love your cake story, Lucki. I love the image of you and Mead watching Doctor Who on the phone together, and the two of you conspiring to celebrate John Pertwee's birthday with kind and clever humor.
   Your writing has a lot of humanity. You write about an actor whom many idolize, but your tone is kind and connected without the barest hint of trying to make yourself sound important. Reading this story extends that kind and connected feeling to my "here and now."
   Thanks for [sharing] it.
  Lucki responds to Juliet:
   I'm glad you enjoyed it, Juliet. Yes, I guess Mead and I did indeed "conspire together", though "consult together" might just as well fill the bill. Jon's humor (especially when he was being Jon Pertwee the actor, not simply John Pertwee the person inside the actor) was sometimes sharper and bawdier than mine, not a lot of that super-subtle dry British wit we all think we know about, but he didn't let that throttle his enjoyment of gentler humor when it came to him.
   As for trying to make myself sound important, well, that'd be a bit hard to do in a story where I was just a supporting - even background - character, wouldn't you say? Don't go giving me more credit for humility than I deserve.
   You know, both Sylvester McCoy in the old series and Matt Smith in the new series sorta idolized Patrick Troughton for his portrayal of the Second Doctor, and used it to launch their portrayals. I wonder if we'll ever get a new Doctor definitively honoring Jon's portrayal.

NOTE: We did. Starting 23 August 2014. Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor. Jon's son Sean highlighted Capaldi's superfandom via the Scottish Doctor Who fan club in his teens, during the Third Doctor's era.

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   O my God! O my God! Thou seest me in my lowliness and weakness, occupied with the greatest undertaking, determined to raise Thy word among the masses and to spread Thy teachings among Thy peoples. How can I succeed unless Thou assist me with the breath of the Holy Spirit, help me to triumph by the hosts of Thy glorious kingdom, and shower upon me Thy confirmations, which alone can change a gnat into an eagle, a drop of water into rivers and seas, and an atom into lights and suns? O my Lord! Assist me with Thy triumphant and effective might, so that my tongue may utter Thy praises and attributes among all people and my soul overflow with the wine of Thy love and knowledge.
   Thou art the Omnipotent and the Doer of whatsoever Thou willest. 
    -- 'Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i Prayers

That's the prayer I appended when I resubmitted Twigs of a Family Tree to the US Baha'i Publishing Trust last month. Twigs is the story of a line of Baha'is who learned about the Faith from a spiritual parent and then taught it to a spiritual child. It covers eight "generations" directly traceable all the way back to the days of Baha'u'llah Himsel. fIt is told by four members of the line in our own words, each relating the highlights of how we came to the Faith, what we have experienced and learned in it, and where one of our teaching efforts led. Needless to say, we've tried to do it in a way that will be equally interesting and meaningful to Baha'is, spiritual seekers, and general readers who like real-people stories.

When I first submitted the manuscript to the Pub Trust back in 2008, then acquisitions editor Terry Cassiday expressed their interest but asked if I could double the length, as it was too short for economical printing. So I went back to the drawing board with my spiritual mother Rezvanieh Collestan and spiritual son Mead Simon. We greatly expanded our stories and also recruited one of Mead's spiritual children into the mix of storytellers. Of course, it took time, and sometimes life dramatically intervened. But even those delays provided interesting grist for our mill; and five years to the day after our first submission, we were ready to go again ... with a manuscript now triple the length of the original.

The sad part is that Terry died before having the chance to see the result of her request. And with the passage of time and the hiring of a new acquisitions editor, we're not sure what the reception to Twigs will be this time around. But we're keeping our fingers crossed. And if the Pub Trust is no longer interested, there are other possibilities.

We greatly appreciated your patience as this website sat mostly untended while we pushed to make our May deadline for submission. Please keep us in your good wishes and prayers, because Rezvanieh is approaching her nineties, and I sincerely hope she will get to see Twigs published. Thank you.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. Let us know if you think this is something you'd like to read. We'll probably be looking for a few advance reviewers, and we'll certainly keep an announcement list for when it goes on sale (and possibly even for advance orders, signed copies, etc.).

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 11:35 AM, Lily wrote:
  Thanks, Lucki joon…But unfortunately as I am leaving very soon for my summer trip to Europe and  may not have time to enjoy all those sites in time. If I will, I'll let you know.
Much love,
  Lucki responds to Lily:
  No problem. The new material will still be here whenever you get back ... or, for that matter, wherever you go. And if any link connections change in the meantime and you can't figure out how to find the material, drop me a line and I'll let you know what the new path is. Have a safe and enjoyable trip.

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C A T / F I S H

"I tried to find a polite way of describing the symptoms of spontaneous teleportation without using the dreaded 'teleportation' word. I failed."   -- Kate Griffin, The Midnight Mayor

Trio of CatsBack in December, I detailed how one feline member of my household demonstrated under duress the ability to levitate. Today, I'd like to present evidence of another catly psychic skill.

Data point 2: Teleportation
Solid-black, short-haired Seraphin Fowler came to me as a barely-weened kitten, though I'd actually known him from the day he was born in a neighbor's home. (That's the adult him as senior cat on the far right there, curled up in a ball with his ears on my pillow. With alert young Mulberry Coquette behind him. And middleton Thundercloud Storm -- my #1 Son's cat -- in the process of debunking, uh, leaving.)

So he was still quite small, was Seraphin, when I took him to visit a friend who was into "pet" fish. Carl had two large fishtanks tiered at one end of his long, narrow livingroom, which also contained a couch with end tables along the side wall and a comfy chair at the far end. The upper tank contained a bunch of small, brightly colored fish (including two red swordtails that my son named Spaghetti and Ravioli). The lower tank housed two gold severums the size of your palm, as well as several pearl gouramis. Needless to say, when I put Seraphin down in the middle of Carl's floor, it didn't take long for the fish to catch his attention. His total attention. After all, it was supper on the hoof, so to speak. So Seraphin snuck behind the couch (we could still see him) and starting stalking his prey. Slo-o-owly. Step by step. Until he reached the end of his cover and had to make a diagonal dash across a couple of yards of empty space to reach the tank.

Well, pet fish aren't exactly known for their giant intellect. But they do learn that movement right in front of the tank might mean it's feeding time. Catching sight of a Seraphin-sized blob in motion, the languidly swimming severums suddenly turned and shot to the front of the tank. Which apparently made little Seraphin feel about like you'd feel if a great white shark or two were rushing you. So, in a moment of panic even worse, I imagine, than Hadji's in the bathtub, he teleported to a hiding place under the chair at the other end of the room.

Carl and I were watching this whole thing, you understand. And we will both swear to the fact that he went from one end of the room to the other without crossing the intervening distance. One second he was up here by the tank, the next he was back there in his hidey hole. Even a full-sized cat couldn't have run that distance that fast, never mind a pint-size kitten. No, he definitely teleported. But at least he had the excuse of being only a kittten to offset his very public goof. Which is more than the adult Hadji could say about levitating in public.

Khoda hafez,

Book - Waldo and Magic, Inc.P.S. Seraphin was named after the feline familiar in the first real science fiction/fantasy book I ever read. It contained two short novels by Robert H. Heinlein: Waldo and Magic, Inc. I'd previously read a Tom Swift or three, but found them woefully wanting. This book, however, was the pure quill. The experience hooked me on SF/F forever. I still have that old book, though it's since been joined by, like, 3,999 other such books and 'zines (which comprise at least 80% of my total library) on my 220 feet (so far) of built-in bookshelves.


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B O O M !

BOOM in Russian

That's what the meteor said as it blazed through the sky over Chelyabinsk on February 15, 2013. A lot of dash cams and cell phones captured the visually and aurally striking (you should pardon the pun) phenomenon. Some observers (especially drivers in cars) seemed either unimpressed or totally oblivious. Pedestrians and people inside, not so much. Especially when whole buildings' worth of windows disintegrated in a split second, doors were blown down, even walls fell.

This was a kind of once-in-a-century event. And as I watched the news coverage, I found myself breathing a giant sigh of relief. Not because it happened over someone else's head and not my own. But because I was mightily thankful that it happened this year and not half a century ago. Or, more specifically, in October of '62.

See, I lived through every minute of the Cold War. And October 15-28, 1962 was probably the closest it ever came to turning into a really, really hot -- as in thermonuclear -- war. They called it the Cuban Missile Crisis. Well, we in America called it that. The Russians called it "Karibskiy krizis" (the Caribbean Crisis). Latin Americans called it "la crisis de octubre" (the October Crisis) or "la crisis de los misiles" (the Crisis of the Missiles). And it was a scary time for all concerned.

There they were, the Cuban regime still smarting over "la Batalla de Girón" (the Bay of Pigs invasion). There they were, the US (who, sad to say, triggered the whole mess with those nuclear missiles in Turkey) fleet blockading Soviet ships, with orders to fire for effect if a warning shot didn't suffice. There they were, the Soviet missile crew shooting down an American U-2 recon plane over Cuba, killing pilot Rudolf Anderson Jr. There they were, the Kremlin and the White House on tenterhooks. There they were, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Premier Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev with their fingers on their respective buttons. And there we were, essentially the whole world, watching the start of World War III in the making and desperately hoping someone would blink.

Fortunately, someone did. Both did. In a face-saving way for both. Thanks to efforts to defuse the situation by UN Secretary-General Thant (aka Pantanaw U Thant: Thant was his only name. U is a Burmese honorific meaning "mister". Pantanaw is where he was born). It made me wish longingly for the day described by Baha'u'llah (Whom I hadn't even heard of yet) when He said: The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world’s Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the people of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him.

Chelyabinsk meteorChelyabinsk Meteor ice craterBut what if this year's meteor had exploded over Russia during the Missile Crisis?

As the chunk of space rock bright-burned and sonic-boomed overhead, some people thought it was an exploding plane. Most, though, figured out pretty quickly that it was a natural phenomenon. Yet even today, there are one or two Russian conspiracy-theory nuts who claim it was no meteor but some kind of secret American weapons test. Now imagine what the result of such paranoia could've been in '62. If they thought we were attacking, If we thought they were testing something.

Actually, I don't want to imagine it now, thank you very much. I imagined it then and prefer that memory to remain buried where it belongs. I'm just glad the Chelyabinsk burn-and-crash happened now and not then. So if that meteor was -- to use insurance jargon -- an "Act of God", I'd say She has pretty good timing.

Khoda hafez,

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 10:30 AM, Kathi wrote:
Dear Lucki
   Loved the reminder of "how close we came" in the missile crisis.
   I could not open the Naw Ruz card.
   I'm reading the others.
Happy Naw Ruz
Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 11:33 AM, Kathi wrote:
  I was really touched by your retelling of the Missile Crisis.  I have my own to add, involving dreams and comets and possibly why I was blessed in college to be led to the few Baha'is on campus.  It's interesting that I have many stories of how I became a Baha'i.  It's a web of intrigue.  Maybe I'll tell it after Naw Ruz!


Lucki responds to Kathi:
   Do you have a blog of your own to tell it in? If not, would you like to do a guest blog on my site?
    Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 1:41 AM, Kathi wrote:
  I do have a blog of my own--"Grandma Books Blind Faith Journal".  Sometimes I tell a story about why I'm Baha'i, or Baha'i history, or current events or whatever else I'm thinking about.  My observations, a little like your blog, which I admire very much!

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