(Photo sent to me via email from Jamie James)
I've been in a funk -- a HUGE FUNK -- exhausted after the fiasco of the storm and all the traveling around I had to do, cleaning of refrigerators, and taking care of Mom, etc. Anyway, I sunk to a new low and wasn't doing anything -- I mean nothing (except drag myself to most of my church activities and services to try to get an attitude adjustment.) Could it be the daily workouts at the gym I've started? Maybe the medications I take for my back pain? My frequent bouts of asthma? My recent diagnosis for the need of female plumbing surgery? What? Oh, gee whiz, Sally -- you don't have cancer - count your blessings. Oh, well . . . I figure "this, too shall pass" or "I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me." Ok - TMI on that topic.
So, I move on. I decide to merely change my mind. I'm not tired, I do have energy, and I'm chomping at the bits to do many things - including write blog posts and make art! So, here I am at long last.
So, what's with the picture that opened this post, you ask? Oh, that's my cousin, Jamie James. I meant to tell you a while back that he had another book published -- a fascinating book.
In his new book, Jamie's compelling story -- the life and death of Herpetologist Joe Slowinski -- so engulfed me that even though I knew in my head what the outcome would be, my heart still spoke and I found myself pulling for Joe to make it out alive during that time that his team was trying desperately to keep him alive.
Jamie is at his best in discussing scientific "stuff" for us dummies. Each chapter began with some information about the snake (and a nice sketch of the snake) that Joe would encounter in that section so that we, the readers, would approach that part of the story where the snake enters Joe's life with the appropriate reverence for the snake and its inherent dangers.
I loved the first part of the book where Jamie told some amusing stories of Joe as a boy. This fleshed out a little of the psychology of Joe and who he would become. One particularly telling tale was when Joe was in a special elementary school which had a sort of zoo in the classrooms for the students to enjoy and study. When summer came, the teacher asked for student volunteers to house the animals over the summer in their own homes. Joe volunteered to take care of the boa constructor! You can just imagine the antics that Jamie tells about in this situation.
Jamie's book is getting rave reviews and selling quite well already:
From Snake-Bitten, Twice Shy: Jamie James's 'The Snake Charmer'
By ERIC ORMSBY | July 2, 2008 - The account of Slowinski's death, and of the desperate rescue effort mounted to save him, forms the core of Mr. James's book, and is both gripping and horrifying to read. Mr. James tells this odd story with great flair. His book is an affectionate — though not uncritical — biography of Slowinski that also offers a vivid glimpse into the practice of all science today.
People Magazine (July 7, 2008) said, "A remarkable tribute and a you-are-there look at the world of herpetologists, Charmer is a hypnotic read."
For more information about the book and Jamie along with some pictures, check out the website for the book, The Book Charmer web site.
My cousin, Jamie James is quite the multifaceted fellow and his writing topics show it. He has trekked with a photographer friend, a park ranger, a guide, and three porters to the area of the volcano Krakatoa. The trip required cruising aboard a diesel fishing boat, hiking through the wilderness of a rain forest, canoing up a river, and boating on to the waters over what was the mouth of the volcano before it erupted in 1880. The resulting article, Krakatoa, was written for the National Geographic Adventure.
On the other end of the spectrum, Jamie has written articles as an opera critic. He was employed as a music correspondent for the London times. He has written books from the scholarly Music of the Spheres, to the curious Eccentrics, to the humorous tale of Andrew and Joey. As a freelance writer, Jamie pens hundreds of travel and culture articles for major American magazines. On top of everything else, Jamie lives in Bali, Indonesia where he owns and manages two restaurants with his partner. Check out the Archive at the Snake Charmer site or BrothersJudd.com for links to reviews of Jamie's books, articles, interviews, and reviews. If you are like me, each one of these sites will give you another facet in the maze of aspects that is the gentile, intellectual, diamond-of-a-guy -- my cousin, Jamie James.
Looking a little worried, Jamie handles a snake at his book signing in Bali.
Meanwhile, I'll see ya sooner than later -- hopefully. Maybe I'll even get out to the studio for a romp in my stash of arty stuff. Give me some words of encouragement - I could use them. Thanks to you all for tuning in after all this time.