Archive for August 2014

Thank You   4 comments

My mother taught me to thank people who do nice things, but in this case I often don’t know who you are.  Therefore I’m taking this opportunity to thank the following people who have written reviews on for “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses.” It feels good to be noticed, appreciated, and liked. So thanks to the following (by first name only): Mallory, ihales, Leelah, Beverly, Margaret, Joyce, Lindsay, Joan, and Sarah. I hope you folks will get to see this substitute for a hand-written note. (Remember the old days?)

And, while I’m at it, thanks to those who wrote reviews for her earlier version, “Mrs. Job.” Janice, Andrew, harpo, Sarah, Audrey, Dianna, Pat, Sheila, J, Laurie, D.K., Sheila, Pamela, Justine, and Renate.

It’s people like you who make life good.

Happy Labor Day!




I goofed and ordered the less-than-perfect kindle format for “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses.” Right now I’m trying to get it fixed so I can provide a more perfect version for you.

I was willing to resubmit the whole thing because of an error on page 115, so I’m certainly not going to let my mistake lead to an inferior product now if I can help it.

So please bear with me.

In the meantime, of course, the paperback is available and as close to satisfactory as I can get it.



Another blogger just posted this. It’s a moving story, illustrative of the gift of kindness. We humans are capable of great love and generosity.

It puts me in mind of the many needs here at home and throughout the world where people suffer poverty, illness, fear, and hopelessness. We are so good at overlooking massive needs. They seem just too big to handle. What can I do? But when it comes down to the individual, our hearts won’t let us avoid helping.

For the many other bloggers, and people everywhere, who, like me, are sick at heart over the suffering in our world, it seems that one key is letting ourselves see these things as happening to individual people. How would I feel if I knew personally the folks in those shoes — or bare feet? I’ve just been reading “The Tipping Point.” When will we as a society reach the tipping point where enough of us are concerned that we’ll feel our power to help our world — the people in it — the environment we live in?

How soon will it happen that we will overcome inertia, perceived helplessness, and denial to do the wonderful things of which we are potentially capable.

IT WORKS, AND I’M WORKING   9 comments

The “No news after noon” policy really works. I still know what’s going on in the world, but I’m not driving myself crazy with nursing it all day. And then, at bedtime, my good-sense-0f-humor niece sends me a summary that goes something like this. “News of the day — same stuff — all bad.” and I end up giggling instead of gagging.

Working? Well, here’s the story. figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses is available in both paperback and Kindle form, but they don’t appear on the same page. Yesterday’s project was to get the e-book going. Today was the discovery that you can’t yet “look inside” the paperback, but you can in the Kindle store. Tomorrow’s project will be to find out why both alternatives aren’t listed in the same place.

In the meantime. here’s the link to the paperback version.

And here’s the route to the kindle version.


Posted August 26, 2014 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized


I just checked and found that Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses is already up on, ready for reviews and orders if anyone is so inclined. They tell me it will take a few weeks before the “look inside” feature will be there.

I guess this calls for a celebration. Ready now! Please join me in a big HOORAY!


LOOK FOR IT ON THURSDAY, THE 28th   4 comments

They tell me “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” is electronically on its way to Look for it on Thursday, August 28th they said.

I hope we will all discover it then. I’ll believe it when I see it.



NO NEWS AFTER NOON   13 comments

My latest health move. I’m cutting myself off the news once noon arrives. It’s just too sleep-disturbing any closer to bedtime. So much horror!

Of course I’m sickened by the awful things happening in other countries – human greed and cruelty. The awful beheading of a dedicated American journalist. The killing and isolating of communities of Christians – and other religions and groups unacceptable to ISIS.

But what keeps me awake is what’s going on right here in the United States. A majority of our citizens wanting to send refugee children back to misery and death. (Not the first time we’ve been so cruel. Check out the refugee ship SS Saint Louis in May-June 1939. And the innocents still imprisoned at Guantanamo. Just for starters.) But this is today. Militarized police becoming judge and jury.

I was naïve as a child and youth – even into adulthood. I really thought the function of the police was to serve the public. I believed “arrest” meant “arrest,” i.e. to stop or prevent crime. Truth be told, I know police for whom that is the mission. But I fear they are out-noised by the killers among us. I honestly thought that when a police officer shot it was intentionally a non-lethal injury intended to prevent further crime/assault. I didn’t understand that the first duty of a cop is to kill and beat folks after they had surrendered – even after they were handcuffed – or locked in a cell.

I didn’t understand that the first duty was to treat protestors as the enemy – to confront them with guns drawn.

I didn’t understand the right of civilians to kill someone because they were scared – that just ringing the doorbell to ask for help is so scary that killing is legitimate. I thought the idea was to retreat to a safe place and call 911. Or worse yet, I didn’t know it’s OK to be scared that maybe the person turning away from a confrontation might be getting a gun out of a car, making it legitimate to shoot him.

I didn’t appreciate the depth of racism that makes someone scary– and therefore the potential object of beating/killing — because he’s black, and blacks are scary. (I try to imagine from my white advantage what it would have been like to love and raise a black son.)

I didn’t understand the apparent right to beat and/or kill a man for being homeless and acting crazy – which no doubt he was.

I didn’t “get” that it’s OK to beat an autistic young man because he has a bulge in his pocket – his colostomy bag.

In fact, I just don’t get the right to beat anyone who is already subdued.

I wonder if those same cops go home at night and complain about people who want to establish sharia law.

I could go on, but I’ve got to read my disturbing e-mail before noon so I can focus on peace and quiet and classical music and my projects for the rest of the day.

Maybe that will help my sleep.

Posted August 21, 2014 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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PAGE 115 – AND MORE – IS FIXED.   8 comments

I’ve been through “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” again with a fine toothed comb. Now I’ve got to rein myself in. I suspect that no dedicated writer is ever perfectly satisfied with the final product, but editing has to stop somewhere.

I’ve been pleased by responses from people who feel as I do that we dishonor our readers if we provide them with careless grammar, spelling and style.

When the book is finally available (in a week-and-a-half or so) you may enjoy the challenge of looking for errors. Please don’t attack the g/G in god/God though. Those variations are deliberate.

One thing I was surprised to find myself doing twelve times was removing the unnecessary use of the word “that.” Since I recently read a critique of the overuse of “that,” I’ve found myself disturbed by it in other folk’s writing as well as my own.

For example, from “Figs …”

“… so that they would never again be as self-righteous as they had been … “


“ … so they would never again be as self-righteous as they had been… “


Maybe your ears don’t get affected, but mine are much more comfortable with the second version.


One more example, also from “Figs … “

“We wanted to promise each other that we would always be together in the same way…”


“We wanted to promise each other we would always be together in the same way…”


Well, anyway. That’s what I’ve been up to.

Thanks for hanging in there.

OH MY GOODNESS! I JUST RE-READ MY FIRST SENTENCE. How about “that.” Or is it OK there?



ERROR ON PAGE 115     6 comments

On August 7th I received the proof copy of “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses.” I thought I would find it perfect and it would be on in a few days ready for comment and purchase.

But this is a story about the inevitability of errors, and the compulsion to overcome them. It’s an example of the need for careful editing.

Just to be sure, I proofed the proof. This must be about the 15th time. And shucks, it wasn’t perfect.

Back before it was published as “Mrs. Job,” I edited it several times before sending it off to iUniverse, where they both edited and copyedited it, involving me in the process. Then came the time when TMPublications intended to publish it under a different title, so it was again edited and copyedited. Again I was involved with checking their edits.

The next step in the story, as I guess you all know by now, TMPulications ran into financial problems so they couldn’t publish it. For the following year and a half when “Mrs. Job” (or whoever she was to become) wondered what her future would be, she was edited by me several times. And finally, when she was newly labeled “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” I edited her several more times.

So, I thought she had attained perfection. But no. Right away I noticed that the unnecessary word “that,” carefully removed in several places, was still showing up where I didn’t want it. Oh well, that’s a stylistic matter, I thought, so we’ll let it stand.

But then I hit page 115 where what should have been the word “moved” was missing a “d.” That just provides one example why I don’t rely on spellcheck to pick up on errors.

And on page 169 I discovered the same verb appearing twice in the same paragraph. My ears didn’t like that.

So, I’ll proof it one more time. I know the ideal would be to have someone else do it for me, but I don’t know who I could ask at the last minute, and I can’t wait much longer to get “Figs …” out there for review.

So, I’ll read through it again and try this time to perfect it. Fortunately it is a good read if I do say so myself. Yes, I do say so.



I PROMISED ALASKA   19 comments

I hesitate to post these pictures, given the amazing photos presented by other bloggers. But this is what I have, and I promised it.

My son produces the beautiful photographs. Mine are just a record of where I’ve been. Fortunately for you I don’t take a lot of people pictures.

Anyway, let’s start in Ketchikan, the first stop on our Holland America Line cruise. I guess I should have known, but I didn’t realize what a powerful cultural influence is played by Native Americans in Alaska. (or should they be called, as in Canada, the first peoples? I like the latter.) Anyway, just off the boat, there was this totem, too tall for me to get entirely into the photo. Totem


So I took this detail photo.

Totem detail

And then a couple of casual scenes






Ketchikan 1









I made sure to get a shot of Dolly’s place. No longer officially an active occupation, but apparently she was a standout in the prostitution business back in the heady gold rush days – and a community leader as well.

Dolly's Place - Version 2



Along the way I discovered this Salmon by the artist Terry Pyles.  Dedicated July 4, 2013, it was named  “Yeltatzie Salmon” in honor of Halda Native Carver Jones Yeltatzie (1900-1976) whose wood carving (1963) it replaced.

Ketchikan Salmon








Later, because it was allowed, I took a shot inside the museum.


Ketchikan Museum



I won’t include photos of the jewelry I bought. Apparently that’s the thing to do in Juneau, but I did get a shot of the neighborhood around the jewelry stores.


Followed in the early evening by a seaplane flight over the glaciers.

Seaplane over Glaciers

I confess I was surprised to see so much green. A friend of mine says she has comparative photos of the glaciers with a five year difference that show how much less ice there is now.

from plane


ICY STRAIT POINT was the next photo op on the cruise. We paid to go on an excursion offering a chance to see bears on the first land-based half and a promise to see whales on the second half of the trip. On the first lap we saw no living bears — or animals of any kind. They just didn’t feel like showing up. So, this stump carving was the only bear we saw.

Only bear we saw


Then we headed for the whale watching piece of the tour, only to be told at the last minute that it was cancelled due to technical difficulties. Yes, we did get that portion of the fee back. No, I didn’t see any bears or whales while I was in Alaska.


One of my photos in Anchorage is of the flea market where I acquired sundry small items made from things like fossilized whale bone, fish vertebrae, moose hair. And some leather bags for next to nothing price-wise. What I like best about the flea market photo is the sky.

Flea Market


And then theres the area outside the museum.

Anchorage Museum

Inside the museum I managed to get a couple of shots — not the only things that attracted, but quick studies.

museum piece 1








6-29 museum piece









Next stop Homer and the amazingly beautiful Norman Lowell Gallery. I deprived myself of some lovely wandering by waiting until I could get this photo of a main gallery without any people in it. Not easy to do, because tourists love to get photos of each other in front of what they’ve seen. Anyway, here’s what I finally accomplished with much patience. That’s a painting of the northern lights in the center.

Norman Lowell Gallery

As a mark of the long way the artist has come since arriving in Alaska, we had access to the homestead cabin where he and his wife began their adventure.

Homestead Cabin








and two shots of the interior.

Homestead Cabin 2









I have to admit I learned something I should probably have known — how very recent was the homesteading activity in Alaska, as reflected by the materials in the cabin.

Interior of cabin











Approaching the ship on the way back from the Homer expedition I spotted a community of ladies and midwives waiting for delivery.




In Kodiak I learned something else I should probably have known  — the strong Russian influence as reflected in this Russian Orthodox Church, reported to be the oldest in the U.S., and the apparent faith of most of the Tlinkit.

Oldest Orthodox in U.S. 1794

Interior orthodox church








     And the interior


We spent July 2 slowly circling the Hubbard Glacier — a most beautiful day with an astounding view. Check the header of this blog to get a sense of it.


The display of Tlinkit dancing in Sitka was bright and colorful. First a photo of the stage, and then the photo op outside with the dancers  – of all ages. Many moms dancing with their babes in arms, but men, boys, girls, and us for a while (though without the colorful costumes.)

Dance Theater

Sitka dancers 03

We also got a clear view of Mt. Edgecomb. It hasn’t erupted in recent history, but there was the incident they tell about where practical jokers set a stack of tires ablaze at its top, producing a brief scare for the town.


Our last stop in Sitka was a totem park. I managed to get a couple of  pictures, but it’s hard without also getting a tourist in front of the subject. But again,with patience, I got a shot of one of them.

totem 2


And then Victoria, with a walk through the Agkhazi gardens and tea in the tea house.

Agkhazi Garden 7-5

Tea House, 7-5 Abkhazi Garden

Now the tour of Alaska is over. We disembarked in Seattle with some time to spare before the flight home, so we explored a bit of the town. First the space needle — an adventure in height (which doesn’t bother me if I don’t have to rely and my own feet to keep me grounded). The view was spectacular as expected.

And I got a shot of the work of art just outside the entrance.

Outside space needle

Because I got in the habit of photographing markets when we did the Asia/Pacific tour, I took a shot of the Seattle Farmer’s Market. Too bad we weren’t staying there long enough to enjoy some of the wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables, and the amazing flowers. The crowds, though! Oh, the crowds!

7-6 Farmer's Market

AND THIS IS THE END. Thanks for coming

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