Biographies have always been my first choice in reading. Sometimes I choose a person from the past; other times it is about someone who lives in our timeline. In many ways, biographies are similar to novels in that they tell a story. The major difference with non-fiction is that we know how events unfold and, for those that occur in the past, how they end. Novels, unless you look at the last page, which sometimes I do, are uncertain. There is an element of suspense.

Biographies have recognized dates, events, and historical figures. I would argue, however, that there is more mystery and tension in reality than in fiction. You may know the timing and outcome, but surprises come in the details. Even more gripping, the narratives challenge us to look at circumstances differently by creating a conversation that allows us to see comparisons and applications within our personal experience. Perhaps what makes biographical accounts most compelling is that we are in a dialogue with history.

Today, January 17, 1893, a group of businessmen known as the Sugar Kings, convinced the United States to overthrow the last Queen of Hawaii. Queen Liliuokalani, who wrote over 160 poetic melodies and chants, was the last monarch of Hawaii. In her place, the Republic of Hawaii was brought into being with Sanford Dole as president.

I have yet to finish Julia Flynn Siler’s, “Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America’s First Imperial Adventure”. I have come to the place where Queen Liliuokalani takes a leading role in the history of Hawaii.

The people to whom your fathers told of the living God, and taught to call ‘Father,’ and whom the sons now seek to despoil and destroy, are crying aloud to Him in their time of trouble; and He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.

Queen LiliuokalaniThe Waves

Biography, Julia Flynn Siler, Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen

Lost Kingdom: January 17, 1893


Happy Birthday MLK

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” 
 Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Birthdays, Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr.

Christina Rossetti, Poetry, Seasons, Winter

Year End With Christina

Last year I celebrated Christmas with Christina.  Of all the poets, Christina Rossetti understands the inscrutability of the winter season. I thought it was fitting to end the year 2013, with her poetry.  There is much speculation and curiosity surrounding the “secret.”   My preference is to let Christina keep her secret hidden and let the beauty and nuance of the language speak for itself.

One of my 2013 goals was to find a way to record via SoundCloud.  I left it to that last breath of the year, but I finally had the courage to upload an audio file.      


Winter: My Secret

By Christina Rossetti

I tell my secret? No indeed, not I;
Perhaps some day, who knows?
But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,
And you’re too curious: fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.

Or, after all, perhaps there’s none:
Suppose there is no secret after all,
But only just my fun.
Today’s a nipping day, a biting day;
In which one wants a shawl,
A veil, a cloak, and other wraps:
I cannot ope to everyone who taps,
And let the draughts come whistling thro’ my hall;
Come bounding and surrounding me,
Come buffeting, astounding me,
Nipping and clipping thro’ my wraps and all.
I wear my mask for warmth: who ever shows
His nose to Russian snows
To be pecked at by every wind that blows?
You would not peck? I thank you for good will,
Believe, but leave the truth untested still.

Spring’s an expansive time: yet I don’t trust
March with its peck of dust,
Nor April with its rainbow-crowned brief showers,
Nor even May, whose flowers
One frost may wither thro’ the sunless hours.

Perhaps some languid summer day,
When drowsy birds sing less and less,
And golden fruit is ripening to excess,
If there’s not too much sun nor too much cloud,
And the warm wind is neither still nor loud,
Perhaps my secret I may say,
Or you may guess.


Doris Lessing

Thank you, Doris Lessing

White Flowers

“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” 
 Doris Lessing (October 22, 1919 – November 17, 2013)

Today, Doris Lessing, the novelist who waged a battle against racism and gender politics, has passed at the age of 94.  Her life’s work is a testament to courage, resourcefulness and determination.  We are richer for having her in our timeline.

“What’s terrible is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don’t need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you’re capable of better.” 
 Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Remembrance Day, Tributes

Lest We Forget



They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them 

Response: We will remember them.


When you go home tell them of us and say -

For your tomorrow we gave our today