MY BOOKS AVAILABLE HERE

Princess Olga: Uncovering My Headstrong Mother’s Venezuelan Connection is available in hardback, paperback and as an e-book. Princess Olga may be ordered on B & N, Amazon and other retail outlets. Publisher: Imagination Fury Arts. Also available here: https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Olga-Uncovering-Headstrong-Venezuelan-ebook/dp/B071W7FP3H/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Princess+Olga%3A+Uncovering+My+Headstrong+Mother’s+Venezuelan+Connection&qid=1593367871&s=digital-text&sr=1-2

I have published two books only on Amazon Kindle. They are Attila’s autobiography Attila as Told to His Scribes, available at: https://www.amazon.com/Attila-as-Told-his-Scribes-ebook/dp/B00855M90G/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=attila+as+told+to+his+scribes&qid=1593360680&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

and I, Zerco, available at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=I%2CZerco&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss

In addition, I have two books published on Smashwords: Body Destiny, available for a limited time at $0.99 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3328

and From Renata With Love, https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3326 available for a limited time at $0.99 

Douglas C. Smyth Author, Gardener

The great white oak, about 300 years old, that brought us to this piece of land.

On May 3rd, 2020, the great white oak collapsed! No wind, no rain, a beautiful sunny day, but Our Oak got too heavy on top, and too weak at his base. Result:

Quite miraculously, the Oak fell between two rows of trees and only broke off one secondary limb of a cherry tree at about the center of this picture.

He’s already made a fine outdoor meeting place, even before all the upper branches (to the left of center) are cleared away for firewood. There are huge branches for benches, and its hollow base for a shelter, bar, whatever. The boughs are more than two feet thick. We’ll leave the base and the biggest boughs as an almost encircling enclosure for our meeting place. A good place to meet friends during this pandemic.

A friend sent a New Yorker cartoon they’d seen the same day: a largish oak fallen next to its standing mates, saying: “Oh, my God! It feels good to lie down!”

After 300+ years, Our Oak must have felt the same.

But he’ll still be enjoyed and celebrated, for at least another 20 years, long after I’ve gone.

I do hope I do not live anywhere near as long as my mother, Olga, about whom you’ll read more here. She lived to be 101 and 10 months, before her body, much like the Oak, just gave out. But she inspired a novel, by me.

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Published by douglascsmyth

Writer, gardener, former political science and economics professor, free-lance writer, 81-years old, married to Elizabeth Cunningham, father of Darshann, Julian and Marina. I live on the western slope of the Shawangunk ridge, NY, in a house powered largely by solar and heated and cooled by it. Associated with High Valley, Clinton Corners, until 2014.View more posts

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Douglas C Smyth, Author and GardenerBlog at WordPress.com.

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Honeybee Society

How do bees keep order? 

Are there bee enforcers?

No bee rampages through the hive and kills its sisterhood. They do give the drones the heave ho, when supplies are scarce or winter is coming, but they wouldn’t have lived long in the winter, anyway, only eaten precious honey. And worker bees can lay drone eggs, if they’re needed, so they’re easily replaced. But almost every naturally occurring transition for a new queen involves multiple murders: a newly hatched queen will seek out all the other developing queen cells, and kill each one of them—to prevent interregnal warfare. Other than that, there is no violence, except from outside predators.

So, rules of behavior and expectation may be more effective in controlling what’s permissible in their hive. 

Bee society is like an extreme version of Mao’s PRC (People’s Republic). They, the individual worker bees, drones and the queen herself are all part of this huge personality, in which everyone does what they’re supposed to do, so the hive will thrive. There is no dissent; there is no discussion; there is only what they are supposed to do, in every minute of the day. Almost free, are the foragers—it’s a stage in their life cycle—when you see them purposely buzzing to a flower, and then to another and another…. As lovely as that looks, it’s hard work. The freest of the bees are the seniors who have lived long enough to graduate from foragers to scouts; they know the lay of the land, and can find the blossoms, or a place to swarm. They warn of danger: pesticides, mowers, people and bears.

Bees reproduce to spread themselves, by swarming. Sometimes the old queen leads the swarm, while the scouts lead them all to promising new places. Other times, it’s led by the new queen. She, and all the swarm, follow the scouts, who know where they’re going.

A swarm is sort of like a revolution, starting with the permissible insurrection of worker bees making queen cells. The reasons for making them: a felt need to move, an aging queen, a shortage of food within their range (about two miles). Some hives seem to be more prone to swarming, even multiple times in a season, others not so much. Swarming frequency may have genetic roots in the queen.

I saw one swarm gather on a bough high up a tree in my yard. When I climbed up to collect it (with a paper bag), I inadvertently jiggled the bough and the swarm took off, straight into the sky and disappeared high above me.

When a new queen hatches, or is about to, a portion of the hive (mostly foragers and scouts, not nursemaids) leaves the familiar, setting off into the unknown, following either the old queen, or the new one. Then, when settled in the new place, the scouts, no longer leaders, and the foragers now have to become nursemaids again, while the queen (old or new) busily lays her eggs in the brand new hive–if she’s been impregnated. Sometimes, a virgin queen is killed by a passing bird, during her mating flight. Then the swarm hive has a real problem. Only intervention by a human beekeeper introducing a queen by hand, will save the swarm hive from a gradual death.

The older nursemaids in the hive left behind, become the foragers and scouts.

The next generation has to be produced as quickly as the queen can pop out eggs. Then the nursemaids nurse them, until they hatch. The hatchlings replace them as nursemaids, first by cleaning up their own cell. The former nursemaids get to be foragers, again, if they live that long.

Bees seal hives with propolis that appears to have some antibiotic properties—and human uses—especially protection from diseases in the local environment. The propolis is like their collective suit of armor.

A hive, average size, 40-50,000 bees, is a collective person, and personality.

What bees do not have is ethnic diversity. There is no possibility of racism, only sexism and defense against predators, like yellow jackets, mice, or murder wasps. The drones (males) do only sexual service, not even defense. All they do is wait around for a virgin queen. She is usually impregnated many times (perhaps hundreds of times) in her virgin flight. The more impregnations, the longer she can lay, or the stronger her offspring. That’s the only use the drones have, but they’re bigger than worker bees, so they may eat more.

No wonder they’re ushered out into the cold with the coming winter!

“Republicans Will Never Win”

Trump’s Executive order aimed at social media may have been issued in a fit of pique, in part: to him, if he believes it, it is true, so any questioning (fact-checking, horrors!) has to be stopped.

The actual order, if enforced, could increase social media’s liability to what others post.

And it is an attempt to stop twitter/FB, etc. from fact-checking, since “the Republicans will never win another election” (to quote DJT), if they can’t cheat, lie, deny and mislead or misinform.

Trump probably knew that the media companies would jump all over him, as well as those “freedom of speech types,” but his “base” will love it (that’s the point, really). Furthermore, he probably knew that the lawsuits would probably stop him from actually carrying out his order, especially for the next six months.

But I bet El Jefe Trump and his gang-members will try to use it to intimidate the opposition—if they can.

The important thing is for both the social media and the opposition (Democrats, independents, the conscientious ) to refuse, on principle, to mince words, or proof, or facts.

And the science seems to say that, on the issue at hand—mail voting vs face-to-face voting—voter fraud has been extremely rare. And the one recent, confirmed mail fraud case was performed by a Republican contractor, “harvesting” and even completing, absentee ballots. Face to face fraud is mostly the voter suppression kind of fraud: intimidating the nervous (minority) voter to go home, instead of voting. One can infer that Trump, and his party, are all for that kind of fraud. Keep black and brown people from voting and he and the Republicans could win.

Trump will do anything he can to prevent certain types of people from voting, cheating, misleading, lying: otherwise, as he stated: “Republicans will never win another election,”

Douglas C. Smyth, Author

I’m half Venezuelan and a quarter Hawthorne. Writing is in my blood.

I wrote for magazines and free-lance assignments, from encyclopedias to radio programs from 2001-07. I have authored many unpublished novels and, so far, four (self) published novels, as well as assorted published short stories and articles.

Before my Ph.D program (Political Science, Economics and Anthropology), I tried to write short stories while I was assistant editor of Glass Packer/Processor, a business magazine. I then taught at what became the University of Central Florida. After publishing almost the requisite number of academic articles, I quit full-time academe and taught for years in a college prison program in NY. That’s when I turned to writing novels as well as freelance work. I wrote at least ten novels. Agents and/or publishers seriously considered several of them, and finally I self-published two of them as e-books on Smashwords: Body Destiny and From Renata With Love, a prison novel.

Scrapping the formula: write what you know, I wrote two historical novels. They are: Attila as Told to His Scribes and I, Zerco. These I published on Kindle, after a British agent marketed both of them unsuccessfully for years; he finally retired.

Niggling at the back of my consciousness were stories from my family: both the Venezuelan and Hawthorne branches. 

My mother was born on a Venezuelan island off its coast. She was named on ship-board after a Russian princess, raised in Trinidad to age 11, and then she, her brothers and her mother fled Trinidad for New York–but always denied they fled. My maternal grandfather later became the Governor of the Venezuelan state of Falcon; he and his many brothers were mostly high up on the security side of dictator Vicente Gomez’s long-lasting regime.

My paternal grandmother was the granddaughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the favored daughter of his son, Julian Hawthorne, a bestselling novelist and convicted fraudulent speculator. Her son, my father, Julian Smyth, was impatient with the whole Hawthorne phenomenon and was a would-be scientist and teacher. My paternal grandfather, Clifford Smyth, was a former consul in Colombia, journalist, writer, novelist and the founder of what became the New York Times Book Review. He and his wife, were Swedenborgians, following a mysticism my father rebelled against. However, Clifford also published a fantasy novel about an American traveler wooing a South American Indian princess. His son, Julian, married a Venezuelan who styled herself a princess, having been named after one.

My parents later set up and ran a small school, where I grew up–as the teachers’ son.

After graduating from college, I joined the Army to avoid the draft (serving just before Vietnam). I was stationed in Turkey and Germany in the Army Security Agency.

After the military, I worked for a business magazine (Glass Packer/Processor), virtually reporting, writing and laying out each issue as Assistant and then Associate Editor. The Editor assigned the themes for each issue, sold ads for it, and arranged ad-related articles for me to write.

At graduate school, I focused on third world politics and development, with a concentration in South Asia. I spent a year (1969-70) in Central India for my dissertation research. Then, I taught at the University of Central Florida, until I decided not to apply for tenure. I returned to the Mid-Hudson region of New York, where I’d grown up.

In 1979, I married Elizabeth, now a published novelist and poet and together we raised a son, a daughter and (part-time) my daughter from a previous marriage. They are all grown now, and I’m well past retirement age.

But still I write. In 2017, I “published” on Amazon and with a private publisher, a novel-memoir of my mother’s childhood in Trinidad, and the mystery surrounding her family’s hurried departure for New York: Princess Olga Uncovering My Headstrong Mother’s Venezuelan Connection.

I am currently working on two novels. One is a fictional retrospective: “What? At High Valley?” The other is post-apocalyptic: “Will We Survive?”

Douglas C Smyth

Douglas C Smyth, Author, Gardener,

The great white oak, about 300 years old, that brought us to this piece of land.

On May 3rd, 2020, the great white oak collapsed! No wind, no rain, a beautiful sunny day, but Our Oak got too heavy on top, and too weak at his base. Result:

Quite miraculously, the Oak fell between two rows of trees and only broke off one secondary limb of a cherry tree at about the center of this picture.

He’s already made a fine outdoor meeting place, even before all the upper branches (to the left of center) are cleared away for firewood. There are huge branches for benches, and its hollow base for a shelter, bar, whatever. The boughs are more than two feet thick. We’ll leave the base and the biggest boughs as an almost encircling enclosure for our meeting place. A good place to meet friends during this pandemic.

A friend sent a New Yorker cartoon they’d seen the same day: a largish oak fallen next to its standing mates, saying: “God, it feels good to lie down!”

After 300+ years, Our Oak must have felt the same.

But he’ll still be enjoyed and celebrated, for at least another 20 years, long after I’ve gone.

I do hope I do not live anywhere near as long as my mother, Olga, about whom you’ll read more here. She lived to be 101 and 10 months, before her body, much like the Oak, just gave out. But she inspired a novel, by me.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.