May 10, 2015

'Fresh Air' Remembers Mystery Novelist Ruth Rendell

Within 48 hours, I watched The Karman Line and listened to NPR's re-broadcasted interview by Terry Gross of the late writer Ruth Rendell.

For me, they dovetail.

The film expertly illustrates how jarring it is to grasp and finally accept what we cannot deny.

While the complete Fresh Air interview of Rendell is worth a listen, it was the excerpt below that struck me, especially coming right after the film (emphasis mine):

"GROSS: An interesting bargain she tries to make there to prove their love. What kinds of opportunities did this challenge or bargain create for you as the novelist?

RENDELL: Well, it was the crux - it is the crux of the novel. I mean, it is what the novel is about. It's what - I suppose it created for me something else very much - an opportunity for something else that very much interests me. That is that about 90 percent of our lives is illusion, so - especially, I think, in a love affair. Philip, my protagonist here, lives in illusion. And this fosters more opportunities for illusion. He becomes pretty disillusioned later on, but this gives opportunities for so much confusion and hope and despair and wonder and simply mistakes. All of those things, they're all ingredients in my fiction - confusion, bewilderment, things going wrong."

I certainly spend wide swaths of time day dreaming. Off the cuff, I haven't delved much into sources of disillusionment. What I mean is, when we become disillusioned, how much is expended on that which actually exists? How much pain, anger, or joy do we feel that others can also see and feel as we do?

Still chewing on this...

April 16, 2015

The Tree, revised




This is why I love Julia:

I looked over at the passenger seat. At the pile of my coat, purse, some papers, gloves. It took only a moment to slip my right hand inside the purse and feel around for that pen.

BOOM! A loud noise and big jolt from under the hood made my eyes shoot back up to the road. Except there was no road. Instead, there was a big parkway tree coming up fast.

Turns out I had drifted over to the right, driving up and over the curb, onto the parkway. Jerking the wheel hard left, I over-compensated.

By God’s grace, no one was in the oncoming lane. Steadying the wheel and myself, it took a few for me to get my bearings and realize what I had done.

The kids, strapped in their car seats were, thankfully, too young to rat me out.

I continued the drive to Julia’s house and, on arrival at her front door, breathlessly told her what awful thing I had done.

Without missing a beat, she replied, “Don’t you just HATE when that happens?”

April 5, 2015

The Sermon



Young families, neatly turned out, sat mixed in amongst the old folks. Preaching the story wherein Jesus restored sight to a blind man, Pastor Stanford asked, “Do you know what healing is?” While a few babies fussed, most adults tried to follow his thread.

Toward the back of the sanctuary, commotion could be heard from the parking lot. Billy Tadel, a nine year old who had to pay attention on account of his mom always quizzing him, sat up and tried to see out the stained glass windows. Ushers hurried past. “When we think we are in control, we’re actually separated from God.”

Billy slid out of the pew and got up on his tippy toes. Through the sepia-colored glass of St. Peter’s robe, he spied Mrs. Keller belly-flopped on the hood of a car! Her skirt, bunched up at the hip, revealed mommy underpants. Gripping the now bent backward windshield wipers, she tugged them around like gear sticks, shouting, “Susan? SuuUUU-SAAAN?!!”

Behind the wheel, Mr. Keller drove very slowly. He looked like he just tasted a bug. Billy imagined that, if he was driving really fast, this’d be as good as a movie. But Mrs. Keller wasn’t a cop and Mr. Keller wasn’t a bank robber. She was a Sunday school teacher and he was a little league coach. He eased the car to a stop but she stayed put, angry-faced and yelling.

The pastor, oblivious to the real reason this sermon would become memorable, intoned, “Jesus gives us what we need, not what we want.” A powerful arm yank from his mother returned Billy to their pew. Up front, Susan Stanford sat with her children, staring stock-straight ahead. She looked like she just tasted a bug, too.

March 15, 2015

The Toaster, Spoken

With apologies to voice artists and audio engineers everywhere, I recorded one of my shorts: The Toaster.

February 22, 2015

Anne Lamott and Kelly Corrigan on Forgiveness, Compassion, and Embracing Our Messy Selves

A welcome visit with author Anne Lamott:



Her observations about compassion made me think of a story I posted in 2013: Lunch Break. I still see that elderly man in my mind's eye. I'm still a jerk by times, too.

January 1, 2015

Real Life Nail Colors 2015

My son gave me a Sephora gift card for Christmas, which was much appreciated. I redeemed part of it on a bottle of Formula X nail polish. While pricey, I gotta say it applies like a dream and complements my skin tone. Because I shopped by holding bottle after bottle against my hand, I didn't read the shade's name until this morning: Impeccable. I'm many things each day, but Impeccable is not one of them.

Turns out my polish is one of Sephora's New Neutrals. 31 blends with names like Perfection, Potent, Brilliant, Extraordinary. Their pitch: "Our groundbreaking formula delivers the ultimate super-talent nail color, while our breathtaking array of shades and effects provides endless inspiration. Now you can finally have it all."

This got me thinking about creating a line of nail colors for real life:

December 20, 2014

2014 Christmas Letter

Happy Holidays from the French Family!

I so enjoy writing our annual Christmas letter. This past year saw ups and downs (and a few sideways thingies, too).

Lew continues to work those tough crossword puzzles and improvement is apparent. He attributes said improvement to his embrace of Crossfit. Looking to avoid the winter couch potato blues, he went over to our local franchise to see what all the hype and WOD was about. Honestly, it has been great, physically and mentally. Now, if I could just get him to stop flipping monster truck tires in the family room...

credit: Rankin/Bass Productions; Vic's beard
Vic and Claire left Nashville for a lovely apartment in Chicago. Claire continues her studies at The Art Institute and recently finished an oil on canvas series titled, "Still Life with Chicago Cubs World Series Memorabilia." A rather limited exhibit, she admits. As desired, Vic's music business is expanding, giving him time to reach out and help others. Just last month, he donated his oft-complimented beard to the Beard-Challenged Benevolence Society. After all, not everyone can grow one and you'd be amazed at the demand!

Jack continues his studies, earning good marks last semester. Touch and go, though, what with him being an atheist taking World Religions. In the end, he was saved. Er, I mean he passed and dinner table conversations are that much more thought-provoking. A truly positive force in our house with his indefatigable Bulls basketball loyalty, we have all learned to never turn the channel or leave the United Center before the final buzzer. Thank you, Jack!