A Moment of Peace

As I write this, the first major snow of the season is falling in southeast Michigan. Christmas songs are playing on my tablet. There is a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove. Calder is on his cat tree and playing with the toy that hangs on a string from the top. I’m thinking I will build a fire in the fireplace and start decorating the house for Christmas. It’s a day I’m feeling blessed.

This post will be published in a couple of weeks on Christmas Eve. Between now and then, I will be faced with the stresses that tend to, unfortunately, accompany the holiday season. To get me through those trials, I’ll use memories of this day to help settle my mind and find some peace.

Today reminds me of how Calder looks when he’s sleeping under the Christmas tree.  It’s an image that says all seems right with the world. And in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood on our shared planet Earth, I wish for you to experience moments of peace, like I have today, during the holiday season and throughout the coming year.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Peace and joy to you and yours!

Back to the Keyboard

A lot has happened since I started my hiatus back in June. Our new Dodge caravan has trotted over 14,000 miles since then, taking us from Massachusetts to Arizona. “Us” being my wife, Maureen (Mo), and me on the eastern journey, and my Son, Ben, and his girlfriend, Stephanie, on the western jaunt. Both trips were a lot of fun! With Mo, it was our first vacation without the kids in 25 years. We spent ten sun-filled days in July on Rhode Island beaches with family and friends. We rented a furnished home while there, complete with a large back yard and twin picnic tables.


One night, we hosted a lobster fest and cooked 25 lobsters for 21 guests, complete with corn on the cob, potato salad, beverages, pie and ice cream.  And we fed everyone at one sitting. The secret, besides paper plates and plastic flatware, is to cook the lobsters a few hours in advance and then serve them chilled over ice with bowls of clarified butter to dunk the bits in. That was the night I came up with a short story idea that became my September blog, Dining Here Tonight.


The western leg of the summer trips was just as much fun, although I did make a few business stops in Chicago and Pueblo to justify writing off some of the travel expenses. Ben, now almost 21, has been after me since eighth grade to take him to the Grand Canyon. Stephanie set out on our trip as Ben’s girlfriend and came home his fiancé. That was certainly the highlight of our trip and we welcome her into our family with open arms and hearts. This trip also gave me a chance to spend some extended time with Laura, my daughter, whom I haven’t seen in a few years. Laura has lived in Southern California for almost 30 years. She drove out to Kingman, Arizona where we were staying at my friends John and Mary Ann’s winter home for the week. From there, it was a short drive to the Grand Canyon’s Western rim and its cantilevered glass bottom “skywalk” that extends over the ledge; breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe it. Expensive does, though. If you want to walk out there you’ll first need to pay $75, and no selfies. All cameras must be left with someone else or put into a locker. You’ll need to pay again to have your picture “professionally” taken out there. Barf bags are free, though. Ben went, Steph and I saved the coin.

The four of us also spent a fun evening in Lost Wages (that’s Las Vegas to those of you who have never been) just people watching; not gambling. It’s much more fun. All you need to do is stand there – anywhere – and a circus-full of pimps, pretenders, hustlers and faith healers will eventually parade past you, all shamelessly hawking their wares. You can get anything you want in Sin City, even instant redemption! Laura has been to Vegas many times on business trips, as have I, but her trips have been much more recent. She knew right where to go for the best steaks, cheapest drinks and most dazzling displays, as well as where to watch the weirdest people in the world.

In other news…

Time to get back to writing. I’ve been working on some stuff for a new novel, just in my head, I haven’t thought anything through enough to want to put it down on paper yet. I’m the type of a writer who needs to know where I’m going before setting out on the journey. Once I know that, I can figure out all the scenic, psycho and suspenseful bits. If only there were an app for this… Siri, plot me the fastest, most exciting route from Chapter One to The End.

Still no luck with finding an agent to represent BROKEN STRING. I’ve sent out 31 query letters so far, of which about half the agents responded with sugary variations of no. Finding an agent is tops on the list of things to “keyboard” in the new year, but I’m only giving it a few more months before I start considering the self-publish route. I’ve been looking at Kickstarter again, comparing notes with the last time I thought about it a year ago. The prospects seem even dimmer now, based on the even larger percentage of books (other than children’s books) that go unfunded now. Need to research it more.


I turned 68 in October and promptly retired. Thank you very much. I sold both of my internet businesses to longtime friend and business associate, Steve Hyer, and IGD Solutions of Clarkston.  Steve and I have worked dozens of deals over the past 15 years and I am fully confident that my customers are in good hands. That was important to me in this sale as most of them have been with me for over ten years and now feel like family. Many customers receive my blog: Thanks, and my best to all of you!

This frees up my time to write and to do the antiquarian book business, maybe lose a few pounds. Mo and I want to move into a ranch-style home, some place with enough property where the dogs can run free, maybe with a small barn and a couple of turnout paddocks. That means fixing this place up to sell next summer. To that end, we finished the deck on the back and brightened up the kitchen with a new stone backsplash and fresh paint. The problem lies in all the other rooms. Bookcases take up so much space in every other room, the rooms don’t “show well.” To help get some of those bookcases gone, I turned the garage into a 20 by 20-foot library and that’s helped. But now Pugster, my Mini Clubman, will be hibernating outside this winter. Sorry, Pug. Someone’s gotta lose.

More to blog about in the New Year, but for now, Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!

Read on!

-Phil Rosette



Available in paperback on Abe, and on Amazon in paperback & ebook.

Freya available in hardcover and limited edition from the author. Quantities from Countinghouse Press.


What Does Dignity Have to Do with It?

When I think of Civil Rights, my mind immediately goes to voting rights, the 15th Amendment* and the Voting Rights Bill of 1965.** I remember how people marched, protested and died to push President Johnson, Congress and their congressmen and senators to pass this bill. In other words, I think of the past. This has all been discussed and litigated and it’s over.


In the last few years I’ve been unpleasantly surprised to find out that I’ve been wrong. Voting rights are not in the past, they are now. It’s a fight that’s still going on.


Today I attended a lecture titled “Bringing Dignity Back to Voting in the Robert’s Court”. The speaker was Ellen D. Katz. She is a Law Professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her expertise is writing about and teaching election law, civil rights and their remedies, as well as equal protection.


While she was being introduced I focused on the word dignity. It’s not a word we often use. What is it really? I like this definition: Dignity is “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect”.***


Dr. Katz’s point was that dignity is intrinsic to the right to vote. It’s a central component because being disenfranchised is humiliating and degrading. It is the opposite of being worthy of honor or respect.


Professor Katz gave a number of examples from history:


  1. There was Carter Glass who introduced the Poll Tax in Virginia in 1902. He said its purpose was to discriminate so as to eliminate every Negro voter that it could. He felt Black Suffrage needed to be blocked because it bestowed dignity on African-American men.


  1. Then there were the opponents of Women’s Suffrage. Many of them said that enfranchising women would decrease the dignity of men and therefore should be opposed.


  1. In 1965, President Johnson, speaking in support of the Voting Rights Act, said to Congress, “I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy…”.


John Roberts became Chief Justice in September, 2005. From then to now there have been massive cutbacks in the reach of the Voting Rights Act. For example, in Crawford v. Merion County, Justice John Paul Stevens upheld Indiana’s Voter I.D. Law while at the same time acknowledging that 43% of Indiana citizens at that time did not have proper Voter I.D.s and thus would lose their right to vote. He also noted that there had never been a case of voter fraud in Indiana–ever. The Voter I.D. law was a remedy for a problem that did not exist. But more importantly, by disenfranchising almost half of Indiana voters he took away their dignity as citizens.


In 2014 there were a series of lower court decisions that spoke of Voter I.D. laws as being problematic. At the time the Supreme Court stayed these decisions. This meant it ruled to halt further legal process in these trials or other legal proceeding.****


Two years passed and things changed dramatically. In 2016, lower court after lower court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. One of the best known cases is that of 94 year old Rosanell Eaton of North Carolina.*****She had been voting since 1942 when she’d had to ride a mule to town. Once there, she had to pass a Literacy Test before she was allowed to vote. But the new 2013 North Carolina Voter I.D. law disenfranchised her because her birth certificate said Rosanell Eaton and her Driver’s License said Rosanell Johnson Eaton. This whole experience took away her dignity.


In order to keep her right to vote, this 94 year old woman, who had voted in every election since 1942, had to make 11 trips to various government agencies. To do this, she had to travel over 200 miles. At 94, it was very difficult and expensive for her as well as humilating. After all, she had voted in every election since 1942.


At the time, over 300,000 other citizens of North Carolina did not have the correct Voter I.D. and the majority of them were African-American. How many of them wouldn’t be able to do this? This law was taking away their dignity as citizens.


The Fourth Circuit Court in Richmond found the North Carolina law unconstitutional and said that North Carolina had acted with “intentional racial discrimination” and “surgical precision” to deny voters the ability to vote “without hindrance”.


So what’s dignity got to do with it? Because you’re a citizen you have a right to vote. When, because of your color or sex, you’re denied this right, you don’t feel worthy of honor and respect. You feel humiliated and degraded. You realize you’re being told you’re not as good as those other people who are citizens just like you, but they’re entitled to vote.


That’s what dignity has to do with it!


*The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African American men the right to vote by declaring that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”



**Voting Rights Act – Black History – HISTORY.com The Voting Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson (1908-73) on August 6, 1965, aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment (1870) to the Constitution of the United States.



*** https://www.google.com/#q=+of+dignity


****Stay of Proceedings – Wikipedia



***** https://www.thenation.com/article/the-92-year-old-civil-rights-pioneer-who-is-now-challenging-north-carolinas-voter-id-law/

Coffee Shop Chronicles: It’s all phone and games

Espresso Royale

Ann Arbor, MI

November 2016

There’s a PokéStop right outside the Espresso Royale–next door at Noodles & Company, actually–but I can spin as I sip my coffee.

It’s Autumn Spice coffee today.  That’s new; I’ve never seen it here before.  Different, a hint of cinnamon and sweetness that’s smooth and full.

I stare out the window, down the street where I used to work.  Financially, it was a great job.  Mentally, physically and even spiritually, I’m glad I left.  If I judged my overall experience as I do customer service, well, I wouldn’t leave a tip.  At all.  There’s a PokéStop outside my old building, and I bet if I still worked there, I couldn’t spin it from my desk, adding to my misery.

That was a lifetime ago, and I’m here in a coffee shop, finally sitting down.  The barista didn’t want to bus this table.  It’s the first rude, experience I’ve had here.  I asked him if he would clean the table, he said, “If you want to move the dishes to another table, I’ll get them.”

I didn’t want to touch the dishes.  They weren’t mine.  That was the point.

There were three saucers on the table, one coffee cup and a glass of water.  Ew.  Would I move dishes in a restaurant?  Am I expecting too much here?  It’s not like they were super bustling busy.  He took the dishes but didn’t wipe the table.  I have my own glass of water and I have napkins, so I’ll do this.  Besides, servers never dry the tables, leaving them wet and sticky.

My phone is open beside me on the dry, smooth, nonsticky table.  This way I can see when the PokéStop sets, and I can spin for more Pokémon items.  Everyone here has a phone out, necks cricked down as fingers type.  Several students have headphones.  One girl wears earbuds, and another girl has the full-on heavy metal jacket-type earphone helmet.  I bet they’re noise canceling ones.

Why don’t people talk anymore?

I’m as much to blame since I watch for PokéStops and critters these days.  I rarely look up at the sky.  I’m surprised I’m looking around now.  Well, the PokéStop is purple, waiting to reset.

This is not a setting for talk, especially with everyone’s insulation of isolation.  These are solitary college students who never knew of a time when coffee shops didn’t exist.  They don’t know the intricacies of speech or the delight of hearing a friend’s voice on a phone call.  A phone call.  Yes.  At the beginning, phones were made for dialing, not texting.

I like texting.  I got into that at my last evil ex-job–not the one down the street here–when every incoming call was monitored and logged.  My husband used to call me just to hear my voice; then he sent me “thinking of you” texts during the midday instead.

I miss Dad at times like this.  He’d be here talking across the table, talking so much that he’d annoy me and I couldn’t focus on my work right now.  But he’s not here, and he won’t be.  He died almost 12 years ago–11 years and 10 months ago, I calculate.  I don’t feel like counting the days; this is close enough.  Right now, I’d rather be annoyed than lonely.

The baristas aren’t chatty.  It’s-all-get down to business, an atmosphere feeding off of the students.  This place is not like any of the three Starbucks I frequent near my house.  They’re friendlier there; heck, they’re friendly.

Must be a class break because the streets are busy and the sidewalks congested.  There’s a line almost out the door.  People sit around me, gather in twos and threes and there’s conversation.  It’s the lunch meeting crowd.  The people across from me talk about meetings of some sort, and two guys set up laptops behind and chatter about something mathematical or scientific, something I know nothing about.

I like the more noise part, but it’s all business.  It seems no one is talking just for fun, about life and sharing what happened today. You know the casual meeting for the joy of company.  No one’s even talking about games or PokéStops.

I miss all this daily hustle and bustle, walking to shops and restaurants and being among people.  But I don’t miss work.  If any ex-coworkers came in, I wouldn’t talk to them, and that’s just fine with me.

Writer in Residence

I’m planted in a comfy chair. Sitting at my writer’s desk, I try not to slouch as I strategically reconstruct the finest details of Janet’s life. I attack her biography as if I had won a coveted position as a writer in residence, focused only on finishing her story.

Sunshine comes streaming in through the window and coaxes me to look away from my work. I gaze outside to admire the winter scenery: blue skies muted by white clouds; pine trees lined upon rolling foothills; grass, dried and yellowed, but interesting none the less. There’s snow at higher elevations, and just a short twenty-five feet from my vantage point, I spot several mule deer as they tiptoe their way to the stream. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching them.

A new housing development shares space with these mule deer. Black bear and mountain lions are at home in Colorado’s foothills too.

Despite all this natural beauty, the setting before me doesn’t quite represent the perfect place to write that I had once romanticized. The window glass doesn’t muffle sounds of waves as they crash upon the shore. In fact, there are no waves; there is no sandy beach. My longed-for sanctuary by the sea has been exchanged for this home, a mile-high fortress in the mountains. With land spreading out so far and wide, I conclude that Colorado may afford the perfect compromise between metropolis and wilderness. Even Green Acres’ Lisa Douglas could be happy here.

But this Rocky Mountain imagery is also just another daydream. I haven’t yet moved from my home state of Michigan. That very real adventure will be underway, however, by the time you read this.

Throughout twenty-eight years of marriage, I’ve promised my husband that I would go wherever he needed to go. “We’re a team. Together, we’ll do whatever we have to do.” Now, for the first time, Greg’s accepted a job that requires us to leave family and friends, our church, and well-established routines. He and I are relocating to the Wall Street of the Rockies. We need to find a place to live; discover new, favorite restaurants; make friends; try to fit into a different cultural environment; and learn the traffic patterns that allow for shortcuts in and out of an unfamiliar city.

Do you know what people say when I tell them that we’re moving to Denver?

“Oh! It’s so beautiful.”

Colorado’s official slogan is “It’s our nature.” I can’t wait to see the state show off its colors in the springtime.

Even people who have never been there promote that claim as if they have first-hand knowledge of the truth.

“Have you ever been there?” I’ve started asking.

“Well, no. But that’s what I’ve heard . . .”

Ah huh. Blue skies and sunshine, over three-hundred days a year. That’s what I’ve heard. For a born and bred Michigander who thinks “g-r-a-y” spells a nasty four-letter word, I immediately feel energized by Colorado’s reputation. The problem is that the statistic I’ve come to love and embrace isn’t true!

When I was in college, a journalism professor ingrained in me the need to cross-check facts. The rule of thumb was that if I could find the same information in three or more reputable places, I didn’t necessarily have to cite the source. For example, I could state that cigarette smoking leads to lung cancer without the need to reference a specific finding of the American Cancer Society. Many independent and credible reports support that statement, now considered common knowledge.

So, when this writer from the lower peninsula of Michigan is being displaced to one epically gorgeous and Colorful Colorado, she wants facts, not fancy, to guide her expectations.

Enter Colorado State Climatologist, Nolan Doesken—also known as Senior Research Associate; Director of Fort Collins Weather Station; and past American Association of State Climatologists President. He has the credentials this girl is relying upon. Doesken explains that Denver’s 300 days of sunshine are a bit overstated. “Only about 115 days per year fit the classic definition of ‘clear,’”[1] he says.

That’s better than the 75 days the greater-Detroit area squeaks out. One point for Denver. And yes, I’m keeping score. You can’t expect me to leave the only home I’ve ever known and not compare it to what will be my new one. Michigan may be gray from time to time, but it’s breathtakingly beautiful too.

You know, we Michiganders are surrounded by the Great Lakes. They’re as vast as Coloradans’ mountains are high. When I long to kayak Lake Superior’s Pictured Rocks, I’ll try to conquer Mount Evans instead. When Sleeping Bear Dunes is calling, I’ll make a point to visit Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes and try not to favor the National Lakeshore over the National Park. And when family and friends cross two time zones to visit me, I’ll prepare for their overnight stay by gently placing a Sanders chocolate on each of their pillows . . . alongside a little bit of legalized Kandy Kush.

Before you judge me, dear readers, let me say that of course, I’m only joking. I wouldn’t be so cruel as to leave pot on your pillow and not include an entire box of chocolates also.

Heaven help me! I’m moving to Denver.



[1] http://climate.colostate.edu/questions.php, accessed Dec. 1, 2016.