Rich Paschall:

Here’s the most recent short story about Harold, an organized man, and Part 2 of A Library Lesson from teepee12.com  Next week a summary of the Harold stories appears here and a look ahead to the two remaining stories to come on SERENDIPITY blog.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A Library Lesson, Part 2, Richard Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Imagine Harold, Master of Time Manipulation, Lord of the Library and Sultan of the Schedule, being knocked off course by a tiny Harry Potter wannabe, but there he was.  The assistant librarian left him standing in the middle of the Children’s Library with a pint-sized wizard in training, hoping to hear the exploits of a “real” boy wizard, Harry Potter.  Harold did not know how to handle the situation.

When Harold retired from his job as a mechanical engineer at a large Midwestern manufacturing facility, he foresaw days of peaceful plans with little interference from other humans.  People would be worked into the schedule as time allowed.  But his retirement proved difficult to control and plans were more like wishes than regular schedules.  Harold, however, was not easily dissuaded from keeping his schedule in tact.

“Can you read that story?”…

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Rich Paschall:

Another Harold short story from the fiction series. Part 2 of A Library Lesson is on SERENDIPTY today. Read it at teepee12.com here.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A Reading from the Book of Harry Potter by Harold, an organized man

All morning it sat on the table calling to him in a fantastical sort of way and Harold did his best to ignore it. It wasn’t really “calling” of course, but Harold could not get “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” out of his mind. It was the library copy that kept stealing his attention and he was tempted to head out to the library a bit early to resume the tale. He knew leaving early was unacceptable to his schedule, so the story of the boy wizard would just have to wait until early afternoon.

He picked up the copy on Tuesday and after reading a little of the book, brought it home so he would have it for the next library day. Now that Thursday had come around, he could not help himself but feel a little anxious to…

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Rich Paschall:

Thanks to Marilyn Armstrong for hosting yet another story of Harold, a man desperately trying to stay organized. Next week the story moves on to Thursday.  If you can not wait, read the next story on teepee12.com here.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

Not just a Soup and Sandwich lunch for Harold, a rather well-organized man

It had already been an uncharacteristically hectic week for Harold, so he looked forward to a relaxing Wednesday. After he finished his morning breakfast, he took the newspaper to a nice spot by the window and sat down to read. He was only distracted momentarily by the library’s copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone sitting on the table. It seemed to beckon to him to continue the journey of the boy wizard. There was a time set aside for that sort of reading and he imagined he would resume the fanciful tale at the library where it began.

Soup and Sandwich

Wild West Restaurant and Sports Bar

The time idled by in a leisurely sort of way that was befitting of a man in retirement. With the completion of each article, Harold looked out the window approvingly. The sun was shining, the air…

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Rich Paschall:

Thanks to Marilyn Armstrong for editing and illustrating the story of Harold’s Tuesday Afternoon.  Next week Harold’s week continues here with A Wild West Wednesday, but if you can not wait, read it on teepee12.com now.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

The Wizarding World of Harold, a neat and mostly organized man

Harold needed to get back on track. He would not let A Tuesday Mystery throw him behind his perfectly planned schedule. He finished dressing by selecting socks from the mystifying sock drawer, then hurried to the kitchen where coffee had been waiting an hour for his arrival. He poured a cup, set it on the table and opened the porch door to collect the newspaper.

“Where is it?” Harold wondered. Was this another schedule attack? He looked around. The paper was leaning against the house behind a shrub. “I will have to talk to that paper boy about his accuracy,” he thought as he trotted back to the kitchen.

During Harold’s working years, his schedule had been periodically disrupted. Machines broke down, employees took leave, got sick. Materials ran short. And then there were meetings, inevitably unproductive, more obstacles in Harold’s path. If these events had taught Harold anything, it was time lost could be regained if you stayed your course and focused on your…

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Rich Paschall:

Here is the fourth episode in the continuing story of Harold, an organized man. Thanks to Marilyn Armstrong for editing and illustrating this piece.  Next week will bring the next episode, but if you can not wait for the continuation of Tuesday, read it on teepee12.com here.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

The continuing story of  The Case With The Missing Egg

Tuesday started out like every day for the perpetually prepared Harold. The morning shrill of the alarm clock announced the beginning of another well planned day for the Premier of Planning, the Overlord of Organization and the Lord of the Library. After his normal morning duties, Harold looked forward to his next reading selection from the local library.  It was the standard Tuesday plan.


He arose promptly and went straight to the window, as was his normal practice. He grabbed his glasses off the nearby dresser, opened the blinds and surveyed the weather.

“What a beautiful day,” Harold announced to himself and went on to brush his teeth, stare in the mirror a few moments and jump in the shower. Harold included shaving on the days he was to go out of the house. He always felt better if he…

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Rich Paschall:

This is the third short story about Harold, a well organized man. Thanks to Marilyn Armstrong for editing and illustrating the story. Next week we will have the fourth story, but if you can not wait, read it on teepee12.com here.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

Not just another day in the Life of Harold by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Upon awakening Harold went immediately to the window to check the weather.  He was instantly aware that it was grayer than normal for that time of day. He needed to decide on his schedule for the morning.

There was no putting off decisions until later.  His orderly life demanded plans be set and executed precisely. Since rain was falling, Harold knew that he’d follow breakfast and some newspaper reading with a trip to town for some shopping. His lists were made; he was ready to go.

When it was almost 9 am, Harold grabbed his lists, a light jacket and umbrella and headed for the back door to the garage. Just as he was about to grab the door knob he was startled by the telephone ringing. He could not imagine who in the world might be…

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Rich Paschall:

The second of the Harold stories from SERENDIPITY blog. Thanks to Marilyn Armstrong for editing and illustrating this.  If you can not wait until next Sunday for the third story, read in now right here.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

The story of Harold (Soup and Sandwich) continues with a new week.

Sunday started like any other Sunday.  Harold arose punctually with the sound of the alarm clock.  There was never any pressing the snooze button for Harold.  Time was too valuable to be wasted pressing a snooze button.  The world never snoozes, so why should Harold?  He quickly went through his morning routine, then went on to the kitchen for coffee.

Han Dynasty 206 BC - 220 AD

Han Dynasty 206 BC – 220 AD

As expected, Harold found the coffee already brewing.  He set it up the night before so that there would be no fumbling through the coffee-making process in the morning.  When Harold was ready, so was the coffee.  You would not expect anything less from the time managing genius that he was.  He had a light breakfast, did some light reading and followed that by cleaning the dishes and neatly putting them away.

Now Harold, master…

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Bel Kaufman

Bel Kaufman became famous when her 1965 novel Up the Down Staircase hit the bestseller lists.  It pointed out the challenges of being a teacher in the school system in New York City.  The novel later became a movie starring Sandy Dennis as the teacher.

At age 100 as an instructor at Hunter College she claimed she was too busy to get old.  She died this past week at 103.  Following is a tribute to her famous work that I placed here during National Poetry Month.  I think it is time for a replay:

Up the Down Staircase

Down staircase

Down staircase (Photo credit: quinet)

One way says up.
One way says down.
Go where you want to go
When no one’s around.

File these reports,
Attendance and tests.
Please, teachers, always think
Of doing your best.

Take on a class.
Challenge the world.
Share in the dreams
Of each boy and girl.

Up the Down Staircase, not down.
Down the Up Staircase, not up.
Let it be a challenge to you.
Never think that you should give up.

Up the Down Staircase, not down.
Down the Up Staircase, not up.
Shake up the school and enjoy every sound
And Up the Down Staircase, not down!

(Copyright Richard Paschall, music by Michael F. Teolis)

Based on ideas from the play Up the Down Staircase, dramatized by Christopher Sergel, book by Bel Kaufman.  The bestseller was also made into a 1967 movie.

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Why the old man feeds pigeons

It was a grey and gloomy Paris morning where occasional rain drops did not seem to chase the patrons off the sidewalks and into the many cafés that were sprinkled liberally around the area.  This particularly grimy part of town was liberally spray painted with “street art.”  Teams of youths and an occasional solo artist spent many evenings decorating the buildings, fences and a few trucks with their personal designs.  When we arrived at the nearby train station the afternoon before, we noticed the last few miles before the station contained a nonstop view of this French city artistry.  Back home we would call this graffiti, nothing more.



We approached a corner cafe with no thought of sitting outside.  My travel companions did not want to “take our breakfast in the streets.”  I would have preferred to be outside where I could watch Paris stroll by, but was left with the view from whatever window we could sit near.  My friends never actually took breakfast.  It did not fit their normal routine and they were not about to change for Paris or Strasbourg or any town in between.  One ordered Coke while the other attempted to order “jus d’orange” in his best sounding fake French accent.

“Café américain and croissant,” I ordered without any attempt to sound French.  I figured the waiter knew we were Americans before we sat down.  They always seem to know.  He smiled and wandered off to fix our drinks.  My tired friends stared off aimlessly as if sugared drinks would be required to bring them back to life.  I studied the room as we waited for our order.  Two men were standing at the counter enjoying espresso and talking loudly, as if that was the thing to do at 8 hours 30 minutes on the morning clock.  Paris life does not begin too early, unless you are a baker.

As our drinks were being set down in front of us, I spied a grey little man in a tattered grey coat walking slowly past the window to my left.  He was elderly, I presumed by his grey hair and grey stubble.  His open coat revealed a grey or dirty white shirt and several keys which hung on long strings from around his neck.  He carried a baguette in one hand while using the other hand to pull a cart with a small case attached to it.  I imagined the dirty, beat-up looking case carried his most valued possessions, whatever they may be.  Before too long, he disappeared from view.  My friends had not noticed him at all.

Our bill had come to fifteen euros.  Even at a good exchange rate, this would seem a high price to pay back home.  As it was a Paris cafe, I figured we were paying for the view of dirty streets and the indifferent service of our handsome waiter.  I really did not mind, however.  I was just glad to be anywhere we could take the pace of life as we pleased.  In that regard, we could blend in well for a week.

We left the cafe and were on our way to begin the tour of famous Paris landmarks, monuments and churches.  There is an ample supply of all three in the French capital.  A few days in the city of lights would not be enough to see them all, but one always hopes to return to Paris.  It will not matter how many times you go, there is always the belief deep down that you will return.

We moved up to the corner and waited to cross the boulevard lined with trash from the day before.  Although the city cleaned the streets often, it did not seem to matter as the locals tossed their trash anywhere along their path.  Perhaps they expected trash to be collected by city workers every day.  It is not for lack of trash receptacles that they throw garbage to the ground, as containers are everywhere.  I guess those must be for the tourists.



Down the center of the street was a parkway with a paved center and grassy areas along the sides.  We took the pathway which was lined with park benches.  As we moved toward the sign that said “Passage Public Metro” at the far end of the parkway, I noticed the little grey man just a short distance ahead of us.  He was standing in front of one of the benches and had the baguette firmly in hand.  As he tore a piece of the bread and put it in his mouth, pigeons flocked to him as if he was their leader and they were his faithful followers.  As a reward for coming to his side, he tore off a chunk of the baguette, then ripped it into small pieces and tossed them all around him.  At this site even more pigeons came to visit and soon the old man stood in a sea of birds, alternately eating some of the baguette and tossing some.  His subjects cooed their approval in a tone that I always found annoying.

As we wandered past the grey patch of ground where the old man stood, many of the birds took flight in order to clear the way before us.  We could not be slowed down on our trip to the stairway that would lead us into the ground and to one of the many subway trains of Paris.  I thought it was a shame all the birds were leaving the old-timer so I turned around to take a look after we had walked on by.  Since the old man had more baguette in hand, the black and white and grey pigeons all returned to continue the feast.  This would be the most attention the man would receive that day.  As a matter of fact, it was the most attention the man received most days.  As long as he returned each morning baguette in hand, his somewhat loyal avian subjects would appear to greet him.  This would bring him his daily moment of joy.

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I’m Not From Here

Life in Gaza

“Did I ever tell you that I am not from here?” my young Palestinian friend asked me one day.

“Yes,” I reminded him.  “You told me that.”

It seems my friend spent the first twelve years of his life in Abu Dhabi.  Now he has spent the next twelve in Gaza.

“Why would you move to such a place?” I naturally asked.

Photo credit: startrek.ehabich.info common license

Photo credit: startrek.ehabich.info common license

He laughed as he gave his response.  “It was not my idea.  My father wanted to return here.”

His father is a Palestinian from Gaza.  He wanted to return to his homeland.  It is a common emotion.  Many people wish to return to their homeland after they move away.  There remains a certain yearning to be in the land of your ancestry.  This is part of the emotional conflict that resides in many people of the divided lands of Palestine.  In fact, it is one of the reasons for war.

Apparently they did not return to Gaza expecting a better life.  I do not know what they had in the United Arab Emirates, but it certainly had to be better than being in a land that is sometimes torn by violence or even all out war as it is now.  For one wishing to go home, perhaps the threat of future war does not dissuade you from returning.

Indeed Jews and Palestinians have risked their lives to stake out a home in what is mostly a hostile climate and, of course, frequently a hostile environment.  Finding peace among neighbors who question why you are on a particular parcel of land can be a tough life.

A narrow strip of land

A narrow strip of land

My friend knows of the harsh realities that Gaza presents to its citizens, mostly refugees, but he also knows first hand a life somewhere that is not as cruel as life can be along the Sinai desert on a small strip of land.  Like many others, he also sees what life is like in other parts of the world.  The internet provides the opportunity to travel to other lands, meet other people and learn new things.  For some, the knowledge that rides on the waves of cyberspace also calls out to students and citizens who seek freedom.  It is the siren call that some long to answer.

My friend knew that his family would be unhappy when he left Gaza one day.  He told me he desired to return to school, to be a student of languages, to have a job that would go along with his language skills.  Although he was not certain where in the world he could end up, but Gaza did not seem to hold a future.  It is devoid of culture that can be found in other cities.

“Who would build anything here when it might get blown up some day?”  This is a logical question.  Why invest in anything of value when you do not know what the future would hold for such an investment?  It could be lost in the flash of a rocket blast.

When I wrote of my friend in the story that first appeared here on Sunday, I mentioned that I had not heard anything since Friday morning when he wished me a good day as I headed off to work.  I don’t know where he was headed in the overcrowded and dangerous strip of land.

During Friday he “liked” my facebook status, “pray for peace.”  I have tried to contact him without success so far.  I can imagine that power must be knocked out to large areas of Gaza City and the internet may be unavailable.  I await go news and still pray for peace.

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