Thanksgiving Day

My very first memory of Thanksgiving Day is sitting on the steps of a marble staircase, the fifth floor of a five floor walk up apartment building at 194 Rodney Street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York.  I was 5 or 6 years old and by my side was my mother.  She was gently poking away with a sterilized sowing needle at a splinter that had lodged itself under the nail of one of my fingers.  Odd to say considering the painful first memory I have for this American holiday, in subsequent years Thanksgiving Day became one of my most cherished holidays.

When I had a family of my own, Thanksgiving Day filled the house with great smells and rooms were filled with family and friends; you could hear lively conversation and laughter from young and old.  Sharing the joys and dining pleasures with the ones we loved, it doesn’t come any better, but for me, it did, and still does.

Some years ago, I found myself alone and lonely as Thanksgiving Day approached.  I passed a Salvation Army bell ringer the year before and struck up a conversation.

“Where are you going to celebrate the holiday season”, I asked.

“With my family,” Was his answer.

“You’re a lucky guy to have your family with you”, I said.

“What about you”, he asked.

“Oh, I don’t have any plans”, I said.

“No family?”  He asked.

“I have a family, but they are kind of scattered these days,” I said.

“Sad”, he said.

“No,” I said, now with my guard up, I quickly dropped a contribution into his kettle, wished him a happy holiday and rushed off.

For many years I always had several rolls of quarters in my coat pocket around holiday times so that I would never have to pass a person in need or a Salvation Army bell ringer without leaving something with them.  As my financial situation improved I replaced the heavy rolls of coins with paper money.

Throughout that holiday season and into the following year I thought back to that earlier conversation with the bell ringer.  I don’t usually feel sorry for myself but I did at that time.  Outwardly, I had plenty to be thankful for… my children were in good health… I was in good health… we all had a dry roof over our heads and plenty to eat.  I had a few really good friends and I was employed, running a small company in Bloomfield, CT alongside 50 of the best humans with whom I had ever worked.  I had a very good life.

So here I was a month or so from Thanksgiving and no place to go.  I thought about volunteering somewhere – maybe it was time to give back for all that I had.  I contacted the Salvation Army post in Manchester, CT.  I can’t explain why I chose the Salvation Army or why I zeroed in on the Manchester location.  Looking back, it might have been divine interference.  I volunteered to serve Thanksgiving Dinner to the homeless at the Salvation Army and then contacted a shelter nearby and volunteered to serve Christmas Dinner there.  (I am not identifying the center by choice and the reason will soon become apparent.)

Thanksgiving Day dinner, along with a lot of other such events at the Manchester Salvation Army post, I quickly learned, is planned and executed by an absolutely marvelous woman, her husband, and two children.  Delivered as a genuine labor of love, this caring family had it down to a science with the ultimate objective of making their “guests” feel at home and wanted and cared about.  This was not just fulfilling a charity obligation for them or their helper volunteers; this was a genuine act of giving from the heart.  I also learned that many women purchased and roasted turkeys and dropped them off at the Manchester Salvation Army post days before the holiday so that some volunteers could carve them the day before the holiday and then return on the morning of Thanksgiving Day to help prepare and serve hundreds of meals and “to go” dinners.

I felt honored to be among this very, very, very special group and never felt better about what I was doing or about myself than I did that Thanksgiving.

Christmas was an entirely different experience.

The woman in charge of the Christmas Dinner preparation and execution showed up in full makeup, dripping in jewels and wearing a suit that must have come from the most exclusive clothing shop in the area and costing close to the monthly income of all of those being served – combined.

Whereas the focus of those at the Salvation Army, about a month earlier, was to treat those who they served as their “guests”; to feel welcomed and sincerely cared about, the equally in need humans being served their Christmas meal at the center were treated like “takers”, interlopers, intruders.  “Don’t take more than you can eat”, the society matron kept saying… “You can’t take any food home… we can’t be responsible for food poisoning because you don’t have refrigeration,” she often added.

I was actually ashamed of having been a part of this experience even though the month earlier I left the Salvation Army feeling better about human kind and myself than I had at any time before.

Currently I am truly blessed with much to be thankful for; I have the love of a great woman, my children, their spouses and my two grandchildren are healthy and happy, we all have a dry roof over our heads and plenty to eat, and I have a new career as a published novel writer.

This year, just like last year, Lora and I will be among those who happily join the group at the Manchester, CT, Salvation Army to carve on the day before Thanksgiving and serve on Thanksgiving Day.  Later that day we will be having Thanksgiving Dinner with family and friends; the best of all worlds.

However you celebrate, I strongly suggest that you consider those around you who may not have family – either close by or at all – and include as many of them as you can in your holiday plans.  I can promise that you will feel absolutely terrific because you did.

Much love and holiday cheer to you all!

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Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career of managing troubled businesses back to health.  While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.  Now in his upper seventies he is in his third career – a published author.

He has found great pleasure writing mystery novels and has just released a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, a college English teacher and an accomplished author, poet and performance artist.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” had its official launch at this year’s “Big E” New England Fair, in Springfield, MA.

He is currently writing the fourth book in his Will James Mystery series, the working title is “The Return to Sender Files” and a book on business with his daughter, Jessica Weitz.

 

 

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My very first Podcast….

I did my very first Podcast today with Delilah Jones, of ImaginePublicity.  Delilah is a wonderful host; she made it feel as comfortable as a late morning kitchen table conversation with a neighbor over a warm cup of tea.

Delilah asked me about the “back stories” of my books and some of the characters within the Will James Mystery series.  Hopefully, this broadcast will allow new readers to discover my writing and enable existing readers learn a bit more about me and the books they already purchas.

I understand that Podcasting, or as some refer to it, internet radio, has a worldwide reach.  Greetings and holiday cheer to all who listen to some portions or the entire broadcast.

For those interested in listening to the entire Podcast you can go to my website: martinhermanauthor.com later today or tomorrow.  I would love to hear your comments.  Please feel free to send them to my website or directly to me at my personal e-mail address: mherman194@prodigy.net.

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Early this afternoon I will be visiting with students at the Pathways Academy of Technology and Design.  Ms. Usher, a teacher at Pathways invited me to speak with some of her students and I am looking forward to it.  In advance of the visit a couple of the students sent me samples of their writings and it is another reminder of the talented students who are our writers of the future.

There is a lot of talent out there and all they need is a little encouragement to continue.

___________________________________________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career of managing troubled businesses back to health.  While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.  Now in his mid seventies he is in his third career – a published author.

He has found great pleasure writing mystery novels and has just released a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, an accomplished author and poet and performance artist.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” had its official launch at this year’s “Big E” New England Fair, in Springfield, MA.

He is currently writing the fourth book in his Will James Mystery series, “The Return to Sender Files” and a book on business with his daughter, Jessica Weitz.

The “Big E”

Today I come back to the “Big E” in Springfield, Massachusetts and I am really eager to my return.

I will be in the Connecticut Building at a section set aside for local authors during portions of five of the seventeen days of the fair.  It will be the official launch of the new book of short stories I wrote with my daughter, Aimee – “A Very Special Dress and other stories”.  Aimee is a truly gifted writer and a warm and giving young person.  Her contribution to this book shows a wide range of her abilities.  My pride in working with her on this project goes well beyond that of a father.  To read her work is to be entertained and rejuvenated at the very same time.

Here are the dates and times I will be appearing at this year’s “Big E” –

Monday,               9/18/17     1:30 PM to 8 PM

Wednesday,         9/20/17     10:00 AM to 1:20 and again 5 PM to 8 PM   (Connecticut Day at the “Big E”)

Thursday,             9/21/17     10:00 AM to 1:20 PM

Monday,               9/25/17     10 AM to 8 PM

Wednesday,         9/27/17     1:30 PM to 8 PM

If you can, please come by, I would love to visit with you.

Usually I get to sign books with another writer – sometimes two.  Depending upon the day and time you are there you will get to visit with authors of children’s books or cookbooks or poetry or self help books or non-fiction or fiction or, what I choose to write, faction, which is a blend of fact and fiction in a novel form.

The “Big E” is more than just  a regional fair – it has now been a New England family event for more than a hundred years.  When I was growing up we had so many of these kinds of events throughout the year but it seems as if we now have fewer and fewer places to meet with friends and neighbors and even a few of those you try to avoid during the rest of the year.  However, in such a party atmosphere it is hard to hold grudges or anger. while you are juggling a cream puff or a flimsy paper plate filled with fried dough or Chinese food or some combination of many different foods and a huge drink.

There is something about the carnival atmosphere which makes ordinary things like lemonade or ice cream or pizza taste so much better.

Having been there so many days last year gave me a chance to see a lot of local entertainers perform.  We have such a rich heritage here in New England.

I hope to see you there!

___________________________________________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career of managing troubled businesses back to health.  While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.  Now in his mid seventies he is in his third career – a published author.

He has found great pleasure writing mystery novels and has just released a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, an accomplished author and poet and performance artist.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” will have its official launch at this year’s “Big E” in Springfield, MA.

He is currently writing the fourth book in his Will James Mystery series, “The Return to Sender Files”.

Some exciting personal news

I am proud to report that the book my daughter Aimee and I have been working on is now out and if first day and week’s sales are any indication, we seem to have a hit on our hands.

Our book is titled: “A Very Special Dress and other stories.”  It is a collection of never before published short stories and thought provoking tales – both real and imagined – some are whimsical and will make you smile, others will make you cry but we think that all will hit home in one way or another.  Writing the book with Aimee was a wonderful experience.  She is an excellent essayist, playwright, and poet  in her own right having written several books of her own.  She has also had many of her thought provoking and entertaining pieces in various anthologies in recent years.  Currently, in addition to teaching college level English, she is a regular performer of her works as well as host for other talented writers at various venues in and around New York.

I chose several names from my “Be a character in my next book” drawing and interviewed them for this book.  With their approval, some of their stories have been included in this collection.

As you read about budding romances, long term marriages, the search for gender identity, and sexual orientation you will meet some people who had to endure bad relationships before they could recognize and fully appreciate their very own soul mate – sound familiar?

I have posted the lead story, “A Very Special Dress” on my website, martinhermanauthor.com.  It is a true story and pays tribute to strangers who set their own problems aside in order to lend a hand to others.  I am pleased to share it with you and hope that you enjoy reading it.

You can order your own copy of the book from my website: martinhermanauthor.com.  When it arrives, find a comfortable place to relax, settle in with a beverage of your choice and read how some have overcome the barriers of language and class and the thoughtless scorn and prejudices of strangers in order to find romance and happiness in their lives.

Here is a teaser for some of the chapters:

First Date” examines the countless scenarios as one seeks love.

Finding Love at a Perfume Counter” captures the he said/she said as we follow the beginnings of a romance.

In “Home”, “Howie and Sandy” and “No Need for Subtitles”, you will read about loves that were meant to be: as well as the awakening of one person’s own gender identity in “Dragonflies”.

In “Shelly and Greg: An Almost Love Story” we realize that it isn’t always better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Frangelico” follows a dog’s own concerns when the human it had all to herself finds love with another human.

This past week I began a series of Connecticut and Massachusetts appearances to preview the new book before its official launch in the Connecticut State Building at the The “Big E”, the Eastern States Exposition, New England’s Great State fair.

Here are the dates I will be appearing at the “Big E” –

Monday,               9/18/17     2 PM to 8 PM

Wednesday,         9/20/17     10:00 AM to 1:20 and again 5 PM to 8 PM   (Connecticut Day at the “Big E”)

Thursday,             9/21/17     10:00 AM to 1:30 PM

Monday,               9/25/17     10 AM to 8 PM

Wednesday,         9/27/17     1:30 PM to 8 PM

If you can, please come by, I would love to visit with you.

___________________________________________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career of managing troubled businesses back to health.  While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.  In his mid seventies he began his third career – a published author.

Currently he is finding great pleasure writing a series of mystery novels, “The Jefferson Files” – a historic murder mystery… “The Hidden Treasure Files”, a thriller where no one gets murdered – but you will wish a few of the characters did… and “The Sweet Revenge Files”, an old fashioned ‘who done it’ which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last sentence of the very last page.

He just released a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, an accomplished author and poet and performance artist.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” is already proving to be a best seller.

He is currently writing the fourth book in his Will James Mystery series, “The Return to Sender Files”.

Who are we as a people??? Really!

Who are we, really – as a people???

Natural disasters tend to bring out the very best in most people, especially Americans.  During times such as the devastating days during and now after Hurricane Harvey we got to see who we really are as a people.

When you hear about the many first defenders who rushed to the aid of others – many just complete strangers the day before the storm – you realize that we are a very compassionate, caring, giving people.

I have not heard of one instance where either the ones who needed help or the ones who extended  help asked if the other person was a legal or illegal alien… or gay or straight… or Christian or Muslim or Jewish… or Republican or Democrat.  From what I have heard through the national news reports as well as friends who were caught up in this disaster, the only question heard was, “How can I help”.

Time after time – regardless of the need here or abroad – we donate more money, more clothing and necessities, more of what we have, more quickly, to more aid relief agencies than anyone else on earth.  That is an easy statement to fact check.  (I did fact check it and it is 100% true!)

Sure, there were a few rotten apples that saw this disaster as a chance to price gouge for a meal or a hotel room or for gallons of gas or bottles of water.  Those who did are few and far between the numerous good souls and thanks to the State’s Attorney General – those who took advantage will be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law..

The country learned many lessons when faced with Katrina, as a result it looks like FEMA earned many kudos this time around.

My love and best wishes go out to anyone who lost a loved one or everything they owned to this storm and its aftermath.

Donations will be needed now and for the foreseeable future.  Give but be careful who you give to – ask questions –

  • What percentage of your donation, on average, will go to the charity.
  • What does their CEO earn? (salary and bonus)
  • How much do they earmark for advertising or fundraising or “educating” the public about the work that they do?

My charity of choice is the Salvation Army.  Their CEO earns about the least of any major charity and a strong percentage of every dollar raised goes to feed the needy and help those in need.

The Red Cross is often mentioned.  It does have feet on the ground and has done good work in the past but it has also had mixed reviews – especially during some recent natural disasters.  It pays its CEO about a half million dollars a year and has high administrative and fundraising costs.

The Red Cross is still fielding complaints about its mis-steps during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In Haiti in 2010, the Red Cross raised almost half a billion dollars to help in relief efforts.  According to an expose by NPR and ProPublica about a third of the money the Red Cross raised went toward administrative costs.

According to the same study, during Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac in 2012, donated monies to Red Cross were also squandered.

Many of the national charities use 30 or more cents out of every dollar for “overhead”.  That means that if you donate $10 to the charity only $7 or less will actually go to the cause

Finally, if you have any questions about the charity seeking your donation go directly to the Texas attorney general’s hotline at 800-621-0508 or contact the Attorney General’s office by email, consumeremergency@nag.texas.gov.

I have had many opportunities to get to know Texans – they are tough and resilient.  I wish they did not have to prove it all over again but I do believe they will survive.

___________________________________________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  After decades of managing businesses in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.  In his mid seventies he began his third career – a published author.

Currently he is finding great pleasure writing a series of mystery novels, “The Jefferson Files” – a historic murder mystery… “The Hidden Treasure Files”, a thriller where no one gets murdered – but you will wish a few of the characters did… and “The Sweet Revenge Files”, an old fashioned ‘who done it’ which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last sentence of the very last page.

He just released a book of short stories written with his younger daughter, Aimee, an accomplished author and poet and performance artist.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories is already proving to be a best seller.

He is currently writing the fourth book in his Will James Mystery series.

Visit his website: martinhermanauthor

One more thing that can be harmful to your health

One more example of what can be harmful to your health.

A couple of weeks ago I celebrated a birthday. 

I did what I and every member of my immediate family do every time a birthday cake with a series of cute little candles – all ablaze – is set in front of us… I made a wish and then blew out the candles.

Well, to be honest, the process, in my family, takes far longer than I just made it sound. 

It is not unusual for “the birthday person” to sit, eyes tightly closed, for what seems like an eternity, in order to make their birthday wish.  And why not?  After all a birthday wish is kind of important and deserves the time and preparation to make sure that we consider all possible ways to express the specifics.  We only get this opportunity once a year.

For those who have never witnessed this ritual among my family members, it could be quite painful.  My daughter Jessica has been known to take so long to make her wish that it is possible to leave, take in dinner and a show, and get back well before the moment when she actually blows out the candles and opens her eyes.  (I may be exaggerating, but not by very much.)

Anyway, I made my wish and blew out the candles.  (Fortunately, there were only a few candles on the baked delicacy.  Had they actually put a candle for each year of my life I might have been overcome by the smoke and then we might never have gotten to cut the cake.)

I did not realize it then but that little custom of ours may be responsible for spreading thousands of germs far and wide.  According to an article in a recent issue of Forbes magazine, the Canadian Center of Science and Education recently published the results of a study in which they calculated that blowing out candles on a cake results in 14 times more bacteria left on the frosting than mere exposure to the air.  14 times!  (Using a knife to cut the cake that just came out of a kitchen draw is probably only 2 or 3 times more germs but that is just a guess, this question was not part of their study.

I can’t imagine doing such a test much less heralding the results in, of all places, Forbes magazine.  But come on, this too is now harmful to your health?  Where does it stop?

Let’s face it, germs are all around us but is it asking too much to be able to blow out a few candles, once a year, without having to read about the death and destruction such a simple act can create????

What is next, no speaking within breathing distance without a surgical face mask?   

Gee, I hope that I haven’t given them any ideas for another test.

I think they have gone too far this time. 

What do you think?

___________________________________________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  After decades of managing businesses in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.  In his mid seventies he began his third career – a published author.

Currently he is finding great pleasure writing a series of mystery novels, “The Jefferson Files” – a historic murder mystery… “The Hidden Treasure Files”, a thriller where no one gets murdered – but you will wish a few of the characters did… and “The Sweet Revenge Files”, an old fashioned ‘who done it’ which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last sentence of the very last page. 

He is writing a book of short stories with his younger daughter, Aimee, due out the middle of next month and in his spare time he is writing the fourth book in his Will James Mystery series.

Visit his website: martinhermanauthor

This is a very special day.

Today I am at the home of my daughter in Brooklyn, New York.  Aimee is a college professor… the humanitarian… the poet…my muse… and soon to be my co-writer of a book of short stories.

Aimee is all of the things one wishes their child will be – among so much more – caring, kind, gentle, compassionate, charitable.  (Thank you to Mr. or Ms. Thesaurus for your assistance in helping me to find the words which only begin to describe this very special young person.)

My heart bursts with pride and admiration each time I learn – usually not directly from her – of one of her many good deeds towards others.

I have sat in amazement, at various coffee houses, bars, theaters, cozy settings; some with more comfortable seats than others; to hear Aimee breath life into her poetry and free form writings or host other performers.  Each time and without actually asking for the audience’s attention, she somehow captured the interest of everyone in the audience merely by speaking the thoughts and meticulously crafted sentences from one of her notebooks or chat books or published works.  Her poise and gentle voice and natural stage presence seems to always capture the attention of others in the audience as it has always captured mine.

I am here so that we can go through the first 30 pieces we have created to make the final decision of which ones stay, which must go, what fonts and paper and binding directions are to go to the cover designer and editor and printer of our book of short stories and poems.

This is one more item that I will be able to check off from my life’s to do list… my “bucket list”.  I have wanted to do this with Aimee for quite some time and am honored that she has found time from a truly busy life to do this with me. 

I am so very aware that the time left for me to complete this list is less today than it was yesterday.  Unlike most people, who believe that they will live forever, so a day is easily replaced by the next without any concern for making it the best.  I have lived most of the days of my life as if it could be my last.  Don’t ask me why, I really don’t know why, but I do know that I have.  I realize now, far too late, that such an attitude only adds pressures which rob you of much of the joy the days might have offered. 

I ask you, dear reader, how do you live each day?  Do you plan it or does it plan you? 

Does your day include the more important check points???? 

-will you tell someone you love and/or appreciate them?

-will you smile at least as many times as you frown?

-will you stop to wonder at nature’s gifts?

-will you tell someone you love and/or appreciate them?

-will you take steps towards fulfilling one of your own long term goals?

(Did I say, will you tell someone you love and/or appreciate them?) 

…and most important of all, will what you do today matter 100 years from now?

____________________________________________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  After decades of managing businesses in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.  In his mid seventies he began his third career – a published author.

Currently he is finding great pleasure writing a series of mystery novels, “The Jefferson Files” – a historic murder mystery… “The Hidden Treasure Files”, a thriller where no one gets murdered – but you will wish a few of the characters did… and “The Sweet Revenge Files”, an old fashioned ‘who dun it’ which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last sentence of the very last page. 

He is writing a book of short stories with his younger daughter, Aimee, and in his spare time he is writing the fourth book in his Will James Mystery series.