In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Second Time Around

Second Time Around: Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

July 1979 found me on tiny verandah in Washington DC. I had worn out my poor feet visiting every museum and gallery in the National Mall and I just wanted to sit down and read. My uncle had a copy of James Clavell’s Shogun. It appealed, far more that the books on international commerce and economics. It started well, a ship wrecked on the coast of a strange land. I got as far chapter three, and then the Greyhound beckoned and I was off west to further explore my own strange land.

April 1984, the north of England, and I am in a converted barn for a week. I have with a freshly printed version of a book I had begun to read some years earlier. This time I survived the ship wreck and entered into the strange land. And I was hooked. I knew little more of Japan than did the shipwrecked Elizabethan friend. But together we were to learn, and like him I came to love it. The characters, the culture, the attitudes, all supported by a compelling story. Since then I have read the book many times. Dog-eared and battered it has travelled around with me. We are now old friends.

The 21st Century, and there remains something special about the book. I know the story well; it holds no surprise, treacherous characters and plot-twists are soon remembered. And yet, still, I read it. Again and again. I love the way it is written, the way the characters are developed and most of all for the way it describes the the country and its culture; and with a passion and admiration in many ways, that I would not have expected from an author who was imprisoned by the Japanese and left with little reason to love them.

The descriptions of the behaviours and attitudes of the samurai lords and the peasant retainers are finely done. In one scene the ‘hero’ has a close encounter with his own death. Clavell describes how the hero feels when the he realises he is still alive, how all the senses are sharper, and life suddenly has a wholly new excitement. I think Clavell knew this first hand, he captures the essence of the moment perfectly, as I too was to learn.

And there is more. The intricate strategies wrought by the warlords; the frustrations of learning, and teaching a foreign language and culture where mistakes could be painful; and the beautiful love story that weaves its way through the book. Reading the book is an exercise in escapism, education, entertainment, and meditation. The concept of harmony, and by implication tranquility permeates the book; no matter how I feel when I start, I always end the book feeling calmer. Soon I may have to retire the old 1984 copy, for I known I shall be reading it again, and again, and again.

Image is of the battle of Sekigahara which is forms the basis for events in the book. Image credit: Public Domain. By User LordAmeth on en.wikipediaCollection of The Town of Sekigahara Archive of History and Cultural Anthropology [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

…in a yellow El Camino, listening to Howling Wolf.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: This Is Your Song
Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.

I took a line from a song by Lucinda Williams and turned it into an entire blog. I liked the first two series of True Blood, and I bought the soundtrack. One of the songs was Lake Charles. I liked it, and especially the line “We used to drive, through Lafayette and Baton Rouge, in a yellow El Camino, listening to Howling Wolf”.

Source: Autohistorian on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Chevrolet made El Camino’s from the late fifties until the eighties; I saw one or two when I lived in the mid-west for a while.  They were not that common, being something of hybrid between a pickup and a sedan. I just remember liking the name. And I like the colour yellow, so the line in the song resonated.

I was looking to start a new blog, one that was a world away from my business ones. I wanted to experiment with writing for fun, for the simple joy of it. I wanted a name therefore that was different. My friend blogs under the name of a (to me obscure) renaissance explorer.  That sounded cool, and I searched and found one: but that blog took on life of its own and is exploring other territory.

I was back to square one, and the line from Lake Charles came back to me. Excitedly I rushed to the computer. Was the WordPress name taken, could I get the Twitter handle, was the username available. Yes, yes, and no! But El Camino is Spanish, so was the full name available in Spanish, it was. A new WordPress was identity created and the journey had begun. For me a big part of the fun of blogging is the theme. I am convinced that the design and the content influence each other and so I spent ages looking for a theme. This yellow based theme from Anders Noren suited perfectly. Its default header image reminded me of my time in Minnesota and was the requisite colour. I guess the tag line then flowed naturally “Travelling back to blogging university, in a yellow El Camino, listening to Howlin’ Wolf”.

Rather later I found that whilst el camino translates as ‘the path’, yellow, i.e. amarillo, el camino translates to Yellow Brick Road! I knew then that I was going to enjoy my journey in, or is that on, my Yellow El Camino.

Image: Autohistorian on Flickr
(CC BY 2.0)

The Old Blue Truck

I think this is lovely 🙂
And it is about about an old pickup too.

Notes Tied On The Sagebrush

It’s bad enough she painted these eyes on my head lamps. Now what is she trying to do, a root canal? I never thought retirement would be like this. Plunked down behind an old garage with assorted shrubbery growing up through my frame. I know I shouldn’t feel too sorry for myself. At least I still have some color, four tires, fenders and a running board. If only I could tell her about all the work I did in my younger years. I was a hard working truck and hauled many a heavy load for my last owner, the farmer, Mr. Thomas. I brought his wife and baby son home from the hospital. I took his son to the bus when he enlisted in the Army. He never came back from that war. I even carried Mr. Thomas to his final resting place over at the town cemetery. I guess this is better…

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My advice to bloggers everywhere

I feel this is true; and kind. And so, I think re-blogging is necessary; and improves on the silence. Thanks Rudy for sharing this 🙂

Rudy's Ruminations

My favorite bit about that is attributed (on Google) to guru Sai Baba:

“Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?”

If we could all just remember this …

Before you publish a post, reread your post, and ask yourself these questions. Before you send that comment, reread your comment, and ask yourself these questions.

If the answer is ever anything but an unequivocal “Yes”, then choose silence.

Key Takeaway

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