getting acquainted with gabriel

(Filing away Zion entry #3)

August 23, 1999: I really loved Mr. Ogg’s rosewood casket! and now I want one of them blue balls! 🙂

August 27, 1999: I just thought I’d tell you I finished reading all the stories in your website. I enjoyed all of them thoroughly as I really love your flare for colorful language, the way you start out at your elbow, weave in and around each of the fingers and come out at the thumb, making everything in the end perfectly logical. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, good medicine for anybody. Your characters, both real and fiction, sound just like the ones I grew up with and around. The way you walked on water getting away from the water moccasin was me! . . as I ran from the coachwhip [snake] that I swear was chasing me while I went walking in the woods, as I was wont to do often when a little girl. Nobody will ever convince me that snake didn’t have a personal vendetta against me.

As for your brother’s lost (last) words, I was thinking how my husband always says that one of the most under-rated pleasures in life is a good session in the toilet. Now I know that people often defecate on their demise, but I was just thinking how sad if your brother slipped out of this life without being able to enjoy one last good s**t (!); no matter how much he may have left behind for the orderlies to clean up when the rolled him out, it just won’t do if he didn’t realize it, and emit one, final sigh.

I passed along your website address to my two daughters, the eldest who has just been appointed a professor in the psychology department at U of Utah in Salt Lake City, and the younger who is in her second year PhD study in Renaissance English at the U of Texas in Austin. The eldest wrote back last night to say she had accessed the site and read some of the Chronicals and “Bob” and bookmarked it for further for leisure reading on her lunch hours. The youngest has so little time, alas, for reading or anything outside of academics that she may get around to looking at it over Christmas. She’s too busy to even look for a boyfriend and unofficially gave that job to me  . . . 😉

September 1, 1999: Hi, sorry about taking so long to acknowledge your letter, but I was away for a bit and I’m still trying to catch up. So glad you liked the stuff on the web site, and it’s always pleasing to hear my work evokes memories. Lets me know I’m on the right wavelength.

I am located in the heart of the Kentucky Bluegrass, where the tobacco is brown, the bourbon is made, and the racehorses are bred. (Yours is not the only capital of sin. [reference to my living in Las Vegas, NV then]) The sun shines bright here, and the ladies weep no mo. Normally this is very green country, but at the moment we are in the midst of a severe drought. I can’t seem to get used to so much brown. Looks like God is gittin’ us good, dang his hide.

I managed to get in a little time this morning on The Gabriel Chronicle. Maybe in a few days I can post a few chapers up to the site. -Jim

September 16, 1999:  Hi Alice, I understand the disadvantages of being the baby of the family. I was the “least” of seven, and that was way down in the pecking order.

‘Preciate your recommending me to your daughters. Sounds as if the youngest is in the throes of what we used to refer to as our “minor inconvenience.” <Begin sidebar> One of my cohorts owned a cattle farm. Someone brought a cow to be serviced by his prize bull, but the bull exhibited no interest. “Wonder what’s wrong with that bull?” the cow’s owner said. My cohort’s wife, who was standing nearby, said “It’s my opinion he’s working on his dissertation.”

What kind of schedule do I keep? None, these days. When I was seriously trying to get something out, I used to do 2 hours a day–writing or staring. Now it is just when the notion strikes me. I have enough correspondence to keep me fluent. <Begin digression>  I have a theory that writing is like a foreign language in that it first must be learned and then regularly practiced in order to maintain fluency. I have encountered countless able speakers in my time who can be rendered mute by being handed a pencil and paper. For this reason, I used to insist my students keep journals and write something there every day. <End digression.>

The plays? Two of them deal with Zions Cause characters and situations and were produced by a professional rep company. One of these was also produced by a professional rep company. One of these was also produced as a television play and won the Ohio State Award in 1987. Prior to these there was a folk musical based on the John Henry legend, which toured in Canada and England. (I got to go along.) And prior to that, a one-act, written as an undergrad, which won a national play writing contest and was later produced as a radio drama.

I have posted the next chapter of the Gabriel Chronicle, Chapter 9, to the website. I’ve noticed the GeoCities site is sometimes unavailable on the first try. This has only been happening since GeoCities sold out to Yahoo. I would complain except that the site is free. If you have a problem, try the site at It should always be available. Later, -Jim

2010 update for wintersong: sorry to say, it isn’t available any longer. So much for forever. Which is what will eventually happen to My Wintersong and other blogs in the sweet bye and bye. So we might as well enjoy our bloggy rides while we can. Always isn’t always after all.

7 thoughts on “getting acquainted with gabriel

  1. Unless you choose to remove it, your blog is, and for the indefinite future will be, available through the Internet Way-back machine. You could try checking for your friend’s posts there…

    • Hello after a long time! I see your “temporary” assignment in Germany has been stretched quite a spell. You must be fairly fluent in German by now! Thanks for telling me about this archive. I have no idea how a few of mine got there (I suppose the crawler found me somehow), but I see little harm in letting them stay. It was interesting to see how the old versions are exactly as they used to look in my original template. Unfortunately, Jim’s Zion isn’t listed apparently. I know it was there a year or so back as I used to visit and check it once in awhile to see if he was still writing. He’s somewhere in his 80s now and the latest word I had indicated he was not doing well, near-blind and I suspect no longer able to write. Sure is a shame. It sure was good to hear from you.

  2. Have you sent a snail mail card off his way? Even his quick notes have the fluency of a pro. Yes, I too would miss that sort of correspondence.

    Hope you all aren’t too cold or snowed in there. The latest storm is due to hit us today, so should reach you perhaps the day after tomorrow.

    • Paul, certainly I can sympathize with your problem. Both my daughters have to write and submit to journals with the expectation of publication and to some extent their careers require it. There are strict protocols to follow and it does inhibit creativeness in a way. But in their case, and yours I imagine, it’s the creative thought that goes into the research that counts. I was in the last university class of a professor of English in Ohio. He most looked forward, he said, to reading what he wanted instead of what he oughta as he’d been doing the past 30 or 40 years. It would be hard to switching between the two writing styles. Maybe you should begin a blog of your own for creative release. I’d read it! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Dear Wintersong,

    You once asked me if I thought sharing correspondence on blogs was a good idea. Oh, yes! I am fascinated by that medium and value letters’ contribution to literature. I do believe that saving email messages – those that are noteworthy, I should add – is replicating what John and Abigail Adams as well as John A. and Thomas Jefferson did WAY back in the day. Your discourse with Jim is not only touching, it is educational. I truly enjoy reading your responses and reflections as well as his “sidebars!”

    One more thing you asked about: “done” is a past participle. Participles are used to indicate a “completed action.” So, it is correct to say, “HAVE you done your homework?” But it is not correct to say, “ARE you done?” The speaker is using “done” as an adjective in the latter case, which suggests that the speaker is asking whether or not “you” have been adequately cooked.

    I wanted to explain this clearly, so I did do my homework and researched the usage, and now I am “done in.” RBS

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