MAY 27, 2014 

It’s been too long since my last Muse and many things have happened since.

When I retired some years ago I wanted to move to a Caribbean Island where one could swim at least 360 days a year.  My wife, Christina, pretended to acquiesce to my desire, so after house hunting for two years and finding some beautiful houses (I thought), nothing suited her. She finally confessed:  “There is no way I am going to move to a third world country,” she said.

I suggested a compromise: “How about Naples, Florida?”  I knew the gulf water was colder in the winter than I would have preferred, but it was about as far south as one could go and remain in the U.S. (Key West, notwithstanding, lacks the beaches).  What’s more!  Florida has no state income taxes.

Her response: “I wouldn’t move to Florida for ten million dollars!” (Her tri-state New York friends had always maligned those people who retired and “just moved off to Florida to die.”)  So I thought I was just going to have to stay in Connecticut until I died.

But the weather cooperated (or did not cooperate depending upon one’s point of view). It got worse, or so it seemed, and every morning I would wake up, look out the window and remark:  “Ah!  Another beautiful, bright, sunshiny day in paradise.”  It must have worked, for finally, after two years, Christina remarked one morning right out of the blue:  “Why don’t we move to Naples?”  She had never been to Naples, so I gave her a couple of days to reconsider.  Then we were on an airplane, found a house in five days, bought it, came home, watched our dog Riva die, sold our house and moved out in the middle of one of the winter’s first snow storms.

I must admit that moving 25 years of “stuff” was no picnic. But now I look out the skylight almost every morning to a bright blue sky and smell the air, happy that I missed this winter’s “snowrage” up north.  Children and grandchildren have already been down to visit (Daughter four times).  I’ve started writing again

And last month, after thinking I had paid my last dime in taxes in Connecticut, I received notice that instead of a refund, I owed. An addendum had been added to the tax calculation schedule I had always used. The addendum was entitled “3 % Tax Rate Phase-Out Add-Back”.  My kudos go out to the politician or bureaucrat who invented that one.


Thanks for stopping by – and look forward to next Monday’s Muse on today’s children and parenting.




MONDAY MUSINGS – Time to be thankful

Monday, November 25, 2013


Riva Sharp

March 15, 2006 – November 7, 2013

She went to sleep peacefully after a valiant, but losing, eighteen month battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.  We miss her.  The mornings when she could bound up the stairs in two  leaps and  jump 12 feet through the air into our bed to lick our faces, they will never be forgotten.  But life goes on.  Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful.  The rest of the family is thriving.  Two granddaughters are already home from Chicago and Miami for the week. The oldest one will be arriving from Boston in a couple of days (even though I hear nasty weather iis coming). And just like so many, we will be enjoying this unusual American tradition of family getting together to eat turkey at what seems to be a strange time of year. Riva would be happy for us.



Friday – September 13, 2013 

Monday Musings have been somewhat dormant these past few weeks.  There are a handful of reasons, not necessarily excusable, which I will try to share with you.

— I’ve been out of country traveling.

— I was hacked.

— I’m bummed.  I had hoped to have my follow up to No Commitments published by Thanksgiving, but it has become a bit of a struggle and I don’t think I’m going to make it.  And I am more than bummed because the love of my life, my German shepherd, Riva, at only age six has come down with  “Lou Gehrig’s” disease, an incurable, fatal,  neurological condition that will soon have her only able to move by crawling much like that of a marine in boot camp training to go under barbed wire.  There is nothing good about this, except her mind will work and she will have no pain to the end.  But she is confused about why she keeps falling down.

                                                             RIVA riva-doorstep


Over the past months many topics have been discussed on Monday Musings, from self-publishing to North Korea and Afghanistan, friendship, excerpt from No Commitments. To reacquaint you with the forum guidelines, I am repeating here the very first muse.  Monday Musings will resume on September 16th, in which I want to solicit your opinion about a conflicting dilemma that some of us may face from time to time.   

Thanks for stopping by…VS


Monday,  July 16, 2012

Monday Musings – Saturday Was Bastille Day in France

My wife and I celebrate our anniversary on Bastille Day because that’s when we met and we missed our first 5 “real” anniversaries because I was always away flying for the navy. But each of those years we managed, somehow, to be together on Bastille Day, so that became our traditional day of celebration.

This is my first real blog and I must admit the stimulus to get off my ass butt rear end and do it was last week’s publication of my debut novel in trade paperback, No Commitments. I expect it will be a few more days before the “Look Inside” edition, along with a Kindle, is up on Amazon, and even longer to reach stores, but I’m excited.

I’ve been told that writing a book is the easy part (not necessarily true), but that getting people to know it exists and to read it requires shameless self promotion.   My intent is for this to be a permanent, ongoing  blog  eliciting interesting stories, comments and serious discussion about whatever from whomever. And  I promise those who participate that I will do my best (note caveat) not to shamelessly promote my book.

“Serious” does not mean that comments and discussions cannot be witty or humorous.  On the contrary I welcome that.  But it’s my blog and I reserve the right to publish only what I please, allowing no more than one F-word per submitted comment, no back-stabbing slander or lewd pictures.  Also ruled out are what I may consider distasteful comments about subjects my father told me when I was a young boy to never talk about in public – race, religion and politics (what else is there to talk about??).  So please keep them “tasteful”, whatever that means.

Today I’d like to share with you some of the self publishing experience.  A decade or so ago a New York Times editor wrote: “Misjudging one’s ability to knock out a book can only be a serious and time consuming mistake. Save the typing, save the time, save the trees, save the high tax on your vanity.  Don’t write the book; my advice is don’t even think about it. Keep it inside you where it belongs.”

Well, I couldn’t, so I put it on paper.  But after wasting a few weeks querying a handful of agents I said to myself, “Self, this is dumb.”  Why spend time obtaining an agent who will want an exclusive and then may spend months unsuccessfully trying to sell publishers while your book sits.  And assuming a publisher is found (unless you are a Clancy or a Grisham), your book will probably go into a queue with a publication date set for 12 – 18 months in the future.  I think that model for newbie authors is broken given today’s technology, and while we will always have publishing houses, I expect them to go the way of travel agencies after the advent of Orbitz and Expedia.  I would not want to send a daughter to Vassar to study English with expectations of  her entering the once glamorous world of publishing.

As I mentioned, writing is the easy part, but proofreading can be a bitch if you are self-publishing.  I can spell and know a bit about grammar, so I had some confidence in doing my own proofreading.  But after spending a week going over my double spaced manuscript word for word three times before sending it to Amazon, when I received my physical proof  I found 76 errors (3 Amazon’s,  73 mine)!  Most were tiny (the omission of a two letter preposition or a misplaced apostrophe), and having written much dialogue, I failed to catch about 30 dropped quotation marks.  So it’s not as easy as I thought.  Now I’m finished, and I’m sure there must still be an error or two  somewhere.

I hope you join my blog and that we make it interesting.  I aim to   publish it every other Monday, but I may miss a day or two.  I would love your input on topics.  The range could be anywhere from women’s shopping habits to the workings of the honor system at Annapolis, or simply  why people have such different life styles and spend their money in such multifarious ways.

Thank you for stopping by…VS





Monday Musings – Why English is Hard to Learn

Monday – July 1, 2013

While English is not the most widely spoken language in the world (Mandarin  is), it has become a most common language, especially as used in global communications and, particularly, business.

I am assuming that someday an immigration law will be passed in this country (do I hope for too much?) I also anticipate that it will include some form of a learning English requirement as a path to citizenship ( is this expecting too much?)  And while learning English as a second language (“ESL”) is already becoming a dominant course in many public schools, with passage of a law I would expect ESL to become a high growth commercial business:  materials for learning, materials for teaching, night classes, grammar and vocabulary primers, etc.  Immigrants should want to learn.  But the rest of us should show some tolerance while they do because it is not as easy as one might think. The example below demonstrates some reasons why English is hard to learn.

1. The bandage was wound around the wound.

2. The farm was used to produce produce.

3. The dump was so full it had to refuse more refuse.

4. We must polish the Polish furniture.

5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

7. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

8. A bass was painted on the side of the bass drum.

9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10. I did not object to the object.

11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12. There was a row among the oarsmen over which way to row.

13. The buck does funny things when does are present.

14. They were too close to the door to close it.

15. A sewer and a seamstress tripped over a sewer pipe.

16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17.  The wind was too strong to wind down the sail.

18. After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19. After seeing the tear in my blouse I shed a tear.

20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?


For those of you who can get all this in a one minute read, the problem of learning English is probably only minute.  Get it?  It is also why Spellcheck is no substitute for diligent proofreading.


Thanks for stopping by – VS.