Category Archives: Ezines

WINGSPREAD Ezine for February, 2021

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

February, 2021                                             James Hurd    

Please forward, and share this E-zine with anyone. Thank you.


  • New story: The Middle Passage
  • Words to Ponder
  • How to purchase Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying
  • Puzzler of the month
  • Writer’s Corner, with a new contest
  • Wingspread E-zine subscription information


 New story: The Middle Passage

I survived three years at Orange Intermediate School, but I resent that they forced me to do puberty at the same time.

The first day, l I walked past Jimmy Creech in the hall—a bellowy eighth grader, bereft of grace, who stood six foot five. Creech wasn’t the sharpest needle in the pincushion–it probably took him two hours to watch 60 minutes. But here he came, walking like the Fonz, with a gaggle of admirers following.

I must have said something like, “Hey there,” or “What’s up?”

Creech paused, and turned: “What’d you say?


“Come ’ere kid.”

I came.

“Turn around, kid.”

I turned. . . .

To read more, click here:

(*Please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

Things to ponder:

If the world had a population of one hundred, the following would be true:

11 are in Europe
5 are in North America
9 are in South America
15 are in Africa
60 are in Asia

49 live in the countryside
51 live in cities

12 speak Chinese
5 speak Spanish
5 speak English
3 speak Arabic
3 speak Hindi
3 speak Bengali
3 speak Portuguese
2 speak Russian
2 speak Japanese
62 speak their own language.

77 have their own houses.
23 have no place to live.

21 are over-nourished
63 can eat full meals.
15 are under-nourished
1   ate her last meal, but did not make it to the next meal.

For 48, the money spent on living for one day is less than US$2.

87 have clean drinking water
13 either lack clean drinking water or have access to a water source that is

75 have mobile phones
25 do not.

30 have internet access
70 do not have conditions to go online.

7 received university education
93 did not attend college.

83 can read
17 are illiterate.

33 are Christians
22 are Muslims
14 are Hindus
7 are Buddhists
12 are other religions
12 have no religious beliefs.

26 will live less than 14 years
66 will die between 15 – 64 years of age
8 will live to over 65 years old.

If you have your own home,
eat full meals and drink clean water,
have a mobile phone,
can surf the internet, and have gone to college,
you are in the miniscule, privileged lot (in the less than 7% category).

Puzzler of the month:

February puzzler: number translation

Here are two series of numbers and their equivalents:
Two, nine, seven, nine, 12—That series of numbers equals the number seven.
Three, five, zero—That group of numbers equals the number two.

So, how would you write the number 10? That’s the question.

Answer to the January puzzler

Recall the three boxes that sit on a table, inside one of which is a picture of the fair Rowena. It is the job of the White Knight to figure out – without opening them – which one has the treasured picture.

The gold box says, “Rowena’s picture is in this box.” The silver box says, “The picture is not in this box.” The lead box says, “The picture is not in the gold box.” Only one of the statements is true. Which box holds the picture?

So, two of the statements are false only if the silver box has her picture in it. Therefore, it’s in the silver box. If it’s in the silver box:

The gold statement is false
The silver statement is false
The lead statement is true

Yeah, White Knight!

 Best black-and-white movie you’ve ever seen:

That one’s easy for me—Casablanca. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who owns a nightclub in Casablanca, discovers his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is in town with her husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). Laszlo is a famed resistor, and with Germans on his tail, Ilsa knows Rick can help them get out of the country, but if he does, he will lose her forever.

What’s your favorite black-and-white and why? (I’ll publish these in the next WINGSPREAD.)

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  

How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.) 

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying:

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

Writers’ Corner

Tip of the month: Your whole novel, and each chapter, should have a “plot arc.” The action should rise, climax, then quickly reach its denouement.

Word of the Month:  QAnon

A popular conspiracy theory, started by a social media item posted by the mysterious “Q,” which asserts that an international pedophile ring is conspiring to bring down the 45th President of the United States. Many people still believe it.

Watch for my upcoming novel: East Into Unbelief (provisional title)

Sean loses his father, his best girlfriend, his life dream, and finally, his faith. How can he be a good atheist, especially when he’s stuck at Torrey Bible Institute? He can’t see it yet, but grace is coming. . . .

Subscribe free to this Ezine   Click here  to subscribe to this WINGSPREAD ezine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread Ezine, send an email to and put in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

The Middle Passage

I survived three years at Orange Intermediate School, but I resented that they forced me to do puberty at the same time.

The first day, l I walked past Jack Cratch in the hall—a bellowy eighth grader, bereft of grace, who stood six foot five. Cratch wasn’t the sharpest needle in the pincushion–it probably would tak him two hours to watch 60 minutes. But here he came, walking like the Fonz, with a gaggle of admirers following.

I must have said something like, “Hey there,” or “What’s up?”

Cratch paused, and turned —“What’d you say?


“Come ’ere kid.”

I came.

“Turn around, kid.”

I turned.

He ripped a piece of paper out of my notebook and wrote on it, then scotch-taped the paper to my back. “You take that off and I’ll beat your face in.” Then he walked away. The paper read “I AM THE SCUM OF THE EARTH.”

I wore the sign the whole morning of my first day at intermediate school. Finally, a teacher saw it, ripped it off, and asked, “Who did this to you?”

“I dunno,” I lied. From that day on I realized that I was not the most important person on campus.

After lunch, the boys would sort of mill around the playground or huddle in tight little knots. Cliff was squat, muscular, a football type of guy. John played first base in our pickup games. Dan had a crewcut and a waxed ducktail. These were the noble ones—they drank from the Source. That year I invited them to my birthday party—miniature golfing at Shady Acres in Long Beach. They never invited me back. I learned then that friendship isn’t something you can buy.

I got a crash course in fashion when I noticed these same boys wearing button-down shirts (two lapel buttons, and a collar button which you left unbuttoned) and perma-pressed slacks with a little cloth belt buckle on the back. Or they wore Levi’s. If a kid came to school with a new pair of Levi’s, they would wrestle him to the ground and tear off the little red Levi’s tag on the back. I didn’t wear Levi’s. My parents provided well for us, but we weren’t rich, so my mom found a second-hand tee-shirt somewhere that said “Orange Grammar School” on the front (an obsolete name for Orange Intermediate). I only wore it once.

I learned more vocabulary on the playground than I did in the classroom. We would say “Oh, fat,” “spas out” [a mockery of spastics, whose gestures we would perfectly imitate], or we would call someone “brain” [mocking his stupidity]. My linguistic education was bilingual—I learned dirty words from the Mexicans, even though I didn’t know what they meant.

Playground talk often shifted to the second gender, and soon my hormones began warring against my Fundamentalist Christian morals. All the girls at Orange Intermediate wore dresses, or a blouse and skirt. The boys would look up their legs when they climbed the steel stair steps to the second floor, longing to pick the low-hanging fruit. Sometimes when a girl leaned down at the drinking fountain, a boy would come up behind and snap her bra strap.

But I loved Shirley—blonde, beautiful and burgeoning—the daughter of the owner of Orange Furniture Store. In second grade she was my first girlfriend, but I hardly dared speak to her now in intermediate school. At high school graduation several years later, I played clarinet in the marching band from where I watched her sitting on the stage playing the piano, flouting school clothing regulations with her low-cut, strapless dress.

At intermediate school I learned about the criminal justice system. The principal was the ultimate threat, the face of justice that was supposed to motivate good behavior. Once during lunch hour, some of us were playing handball against the side of the stuccoed building instead of participating in the required softball games. The principal told the Phy Ed coach, Mr. Elmwood, to deal with it. He was a proud man, bronzed, muscular, and serious as a heart attack. Talked as if someone had put sand in his toothpaste. He took three of us to the woodshop where he found the wooden paddle with the holes drilled in it. He told me, “Grab your ankles.” I upended, wondering how hard he would hit. He hit. The single, hard whack brought tears to my eyes but I refused to sob.

At Orange Intermediate, I just felt weird. Later I learned that “feeling weird” is common for pubescent males, but at the time I was convinced it was because I was a Fundamentalist. The kids at school came in only three categories: Unchurched, Catholic, and Mainline Modernist (read liberal, “worldly”). I didn’t fit any of these categories. As far as I knew, I was a group of one, a spiritual orphan.

My Fundamentalist pastor told me I had to separate myself from the contagion of the world. At intermediate school I saw the world all around me—worldly dress, worldly language, worldly activities. I felt compelled to “witness” about my faith, speaking Jesus-words to my unchurched classmates. I refused to participate in square dancing. At graduation, they were all doing the Bunny Hop in the auditorium while Howard and I sat in the lobby playing chess. Howard, the supreme nerd, once asked our math teacher if she knew how a right triangle is like a frozen dog? (Answer: “perp-in-di-cooler.”) I didn’t like Howard. I didn’t like myself. We were both nerd-heads.

I would stand mute while my friends discussed the movies they’d seen. Our church was anti-movie, so I never entered Orange Theater. And when my history teacher talked about early hominids and evolution, I had to tell him, “I don’t believe that. The Bible doesn’t mention it.”

He told me, “I don’t believe it either, but we have to teach it.”

I did not like my body. Looking in the mirror I would think, My eyebrows are too low! In the locker room, I discovered a new athletic appliance—the jockstrap. I didn’t even know boys needed one, but I self-consciously climbed into it. Other boys were less self-conscious—Mike would pull his on, stretch one of the straps over his shoulder, then look around and ask innocently, “How do you get into this thing, anyway?”

My most precious memory of the locker room is Billy, a guy who would steal pennies off a dead man’s eyes. One day he turned from the adjacent urinal, directed his appliance, and peed on me. A little yellow river trickled down my leg and onto the floor.

Some days, Orange Intermediate seemed the last refuge of the damned, but looking back, I see that most of my pubescent learning took place there outside the classroom—learning how to deal with adversity, how to relate to “worldly” people, how to be “in the world but not of it,” how to respect women, how to share faith, and how to have compassion for all people, even Billy the Bully.

I began to realize that I was a prig, a “holier than thou” person. The kids at Orange Intermediate did their best to squeeze the prigness out of me. But I felt more than different—I felt insecure, with an unfulfilled passion to conform. I failed to fit in. (Much later, I discovered that most middle schoolers feel that way.)

But perhaps most important, Orange Intermediate taught me that I was not the fourth member of the Trinity.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for December, 2016

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
December, 2016                                                                                     James Hurd      



  • New blog article: The Game My Mother Taught Me
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book and Film reviews
  • E-zine subscription information
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Quotable quotes


New blog article: “The Game My Mother Taught Me”

 “Mom, I’m bored. What can I do?”

The clock nibbles away at the afternoon. It’s Sunday and I’m a fidgety ten-year-old sitting on our living room couch. We Fundamentalists embrace a strict set of biblical doctrines, and a list of forbidden “worldly” practices—practices especially prohibited on Sundays. I can’t go to the movies or read the newspaper. Can’t ride my bike out of the neighborhood….   Read more here:

Writers’ Corner

Writer of the Month: Henri M. Nouwen (1992-1996). Dutch priest. Powerful devotional writing that shows great transparency and vulnerability. Read by millions of Catholics and Protestants alike. Books: The Return of the Prodigal Son, The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, Genesee Diary).

Words of the Month

Scening: Think motion pictures. A “scene” is a place where an un-interrupted series of actions takes place. Temporarily label each scene in your manuscript and make sure you’re signaling to the reader where she is in the story. This also helps you keep chronology and transitions straight.

Tagging: Temporarily use colored print to reveal the anatomy of your manuscript.

Normal print for narrative, story. Should be over half your piece. It’s what engages the reader.

Green for reflections about the narrative, and descriptions of people, places, etc. Limit this.

Orange for dialogue. Use lots of this.

Grey for “backstory”—explanations of the story; previous happenings—eliminate this, limit this, or feed it to your reader in small bits and pieces.

Answers to quiz for November

  • Before I realized it, I had driven much further into the desert. (Use “farther” for distance)
  • He noticed a large stain in the rug that was right in the center of the room. (Stain or rug was in the center?)
  • The dog aggravated the little puppy. (Irritated. “Aggravate” means to make worse)
  • He had shone how not to fly the airplane. (Shown. “Shone” is past tense of “shine”)

 New Quiz for December. Correct these sentences:

  • You should vote, irregardless of your political preferences.
  • Today they have less workers than formerly.
  • Caribou smells good like a coffee shop should.

Writer’s tip of the Month: Use descriptions (of places, people, things, weather) but limit them to a few essential details, and tell your reader only what they need to know.

Book and Film Reviews

Foreign Correspondent. 1940. An early Alfred Hitchcock film. American triumphalism. (three stars)

This Changed Everything. 2016. A video documentary on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation (2017). Excellent, three-program set, narrated by David Suchet.
(five stars)

George Herbert (1593-1633), The Complete English Poems. Penguin Press: 2004. Great, insightful clergyman with a magic pen. (four stars)

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here  to subscribe to Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)
See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying:

 Quotable quotes

   Both optimists and pessimists contribute to aviation.  The optimist invents the airplane; the pessimist, the parachute.

   Aviation training: Death is just nature’s way of telling you to watch your airspeed.

♠    Venison for dinner again?   Oh deer!

♠    England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

♠    They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a typo.

♠    I changed my iPod’s name to Titanic.  It’s syncing now.

♠    I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.

*    *    *

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Retirement Surprise


Absence of occupation is not rest.
A mind quite vacant is a mind distress’d.
—William Cowper


Time’s clock hurls us all on a one-way life ticket, and when you reach retirement, you can’t rewind. You find yourself still busy, but different busy.

Your employer no longer tells you what to do. But your partner—loving and kind—brims with fresh ideas to fill your days, and believes that now that you’ve retired, you should be working on becoming a Better Person. This apparently includes such things as exercising, controlling your weight, maturing spiritually, spending more time with the grandkids, and significantly, taking a greater role in kitchen and housework.

From our first date, Barbara and I never talked about division of labors, so on our honeymoon I began to prepare breakfast. She had a few kind suggestions, and then took charge of food preparation for the next forty years. She didn’t exactly forbid me to cook, but she arrived in my house with a sturdy image of her calling, a calling that included all the cooking, housework, and most of the child rearing. At first, I limited my domestic tasks to repairing our car, mowing the lawn, and handling our money. (She would say I earned it and she spent it.) Gradually, my responsibilities expanded to taking out the trash and, if I got up last, making the bed—the only incentive I can think of to get up early.

Now that we’re retired I occasionally offer to grocery shop, but apparently I lack the requisite skills—judgment, frugality and—okay—common sense. The supermarket presents itself to me as a foreign country—inscrutably organized, with nothing arranged logically, nothing in plain view. I’m too proud to ask for help because I know what people will think—He’s clueless! Even the rare times I go with Barbara, I serve mainly to challenge and distract.

When I offer, “Give me your list; I’ll buy the stuff,” she replies, “That’s all right. You’d take twice as long and pay too much for stuff we don’t need.” It’s true—I’m never sure what brand or size to buy, whether I want lite, diet, or regular, whether I should get high-fiber, organic, or low-fat. I don’t understand coupons. I eschew green-colored food displays; my tastes run more to the ice cream, meat, and cheese counters and to things like refried beans, potato chips, pastries, and chocolate. I’m heartened to hear that with all its antioxidants, chocolate’s becoming the new broccoli. I’ve always thought that if your body craves something, that means it’s good for you. It’s not that I despise the food groups; I just choose to honor different ones than Barbara.

Retirement changes your work habits. Shortly after I retired, I tried the old line, “I have to go to the office.” But when Barbara would ask, “What for?” I couldn’t think of anything. So, when we moved into our townhome, I plunged into unboxing and assembling new furniture, installing cupboards and curtain rods, hanging pictures, spackling and painting walls, installing TV, stereo, carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms, and repairing downspouts.

Today, Barbara passes her days keenly alert for any strange noise—a sticky door, a flickering lightbulb, a bare spot on the wall. I don’t repair any of these anomalies too quickly, because they’re like moving ducks in a shooting gallery—you no more knock one off than another one appears.

One day Barbara notices that our dishwasher heats and whirs but doesn’t swish any water over the dishes. She says, “The dishes come out as dirty as when you put them in.

I tell her, “I think that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Anyway, they’re sterilized.”

(Eye roll)

So of course we purchase a new Whirlpool with an Energy Star rating. Like a dried-out drunk, I immediately start criticizing friends who don’t have Energy Star-rated appliances. Don’t they care about being green? But when I discover that friends who are real greenies wash dishes by hand, I graciously forgive all my dirty-energy friends.

I think Barbara invites guests over only as an excuse to clean the whole house. I’ve never personally seen any dust in the house, yet Barbara insists that we should clean on the grounds that there might be some there. She’s introduced me to the vacuum cleaner, a challenging machine with lots of switches and levers. It waits patiently in the closet and whispers, “Please take me out; I feel neglected.

When I first pulled the vacuum out and grasped the cold metal handle, it seemed simple enough, and surrendered to my control. I determined to do the sunroom first, because it’s small, and doesn’t seem very dirty. I pushed and pushed with little result. “Barbara, it doesn’t seem to be cleaning very well.

“You have to push the brush control down.”

“I knew that.”

“No, you didn’t.”

Now an expert, I thrill to the loud, businesslike whirr of the motor, the smell of dust in the air, the light-colored swipes on the carpet. The whole house takes less than an hour, yet I wonder darkly, Is this merely the thin edge of a dangerous wedge?

It’s true—without even realizing it, I find myself immersed in other new tasks—for instance, scrubbing the kitchen floor using a milky liquid that Barbara tells me you merely wipe on and wipe off. This is cleanliness gone to church—the floor doesn’t even seem dirty. I learn that you should sweep first. Otherwise you’re down on your hands and knees with a cleaning rag, chasing around little crud thingies.

I’m not complaining—I love retirement. I want to end my passage well. I wish to work well, seeking those new tasks God has for me. It’s just that I didn’t realize God was so interested in cleaning and vacuuming.

E-zine for January 1, 2015

Here is my latest Wingspread E-magazine. If you wish to continue receiving it, please subscribe to it at:

The Ezine is about three things: faith, flying, and your writing. I’ll include new stories, articles on writing, and helpful web links for you.

WINGSPREAD for January 1, 2015

AN E-zine dedicated to faith, flying, and your writing in a complex world

Happy New Year! We enter it with hope and trust, knowing we are accompanied.

Subscribe to this Wingspread  E-magazine (free), sent direct to your email inbox, twice a month. Click here to subscribe. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying.   A memoir about childhood faith and mission bush-piloting in South America. Buy it at: (or Barnes and Noble, or See pics related to Wingspread:

New article: Here’s an article about Barbara’s Mennonite childhood on the farm.

A footbridge high above Pequea Creek provided a shortcut to Uncle John’s farm. We also used that bridge to go visit our grandparents who lived with Uncle John. Narrow boards hung on two cables, with two more cables for handgrips, but no sides.   (Read more…)

Writer’s Corner: Wondering how to clean up your writing? Read my short piece, “How to revise an article” at:

Some Favorite quotes:

♠   ‘Twas much that man was made like God before, but that God should be made like man, much more. Milton

♠   In theory, there’s a difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there’s not.

♠  Of all my wife’s relatives, I like myself the best.

♠  Wife to husband: “But I thought that after you retired, you’d work more on becoming a better person…”  (Oh oh…)

♠  People need to know that you care before they care what you know. James F. Hind

Helpful writers’ links:

All about self-publishing:

Great link for self-publishing, writing contests, writing tips for authors. This is where I published the Wingspread book.
If you wish to unsubscribe from Wingspread, send a note to and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

Wingspread—Ezine for December 15, 2014

A new Ezine dedicated to faith, flying, and your writing in a complex world.
People can subscribe to Wingspread (free) at: You will receive a free article for subscribing. I hope to publish Wingspread about twice a month, direct to your email inbox. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, etc.

Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying.   A book about spreading wings on flights of the Spirit. Check it out, or buy it at: (or Barnes and Noble, or

See new pics related to Wingspread book:

Follow James Hurd on Facebook, or @hurdjp on Twitter

Favorite quotes:

Busyness is the earwax against the voice of God.

Bitterness is a poison that you take, hoping that the other person will die.

Pride has two evil stepsisters— low self-esteem and jealousy—and two cousins, anger and bitterness.

In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is.

I’m a Christ-follower, but I suck at it. (Fuller Seminary student)

Wondering how to clean up your writing? Read my “How to revise an article” at:  It contains gleanings from the experts.

 “The Middle Passage” A story about middle school and coming of age—read it at:

Tips on protecting your passwords! Watch this video:

If you wish to unsubscribe from Wingspread, send a note to and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” Thanks.

Wingspread Ezine for Dec. 1, 2014


Wingspread: A new Ezine dedicated to faith, flying, and coming of age in a complex world.

People can subscribe to Wingspread (free) at: You will receive a free article for subscribing. I hope to publish Wingspread about twice a month, direct to your email inbox.

Buy the book: Wingspread: Of faith and flying at or Barnes and Noble, or Please share this URL with interested friends.

Read more about Wingspread: of faith and flying:

See pics related to Wingspread: of faith and flying:

The Middle Passage: A story about coming of age—Read it at :

Tips on protecting your passwords! Watch this video:

Follow James Hurd on Facebook:

Follow James Hurd on Twitter:  hurdjp

If you wish to unsubscribe from Wingspread, send a note to and say in the subject line: unsubscribe. Thanks.