In Print Again-At Last

Hello All

As most of you know two years ago I won First Prize in an international internet short story contest. Allow me to express my pride (bordering on hubris!) in this accomplishment. The short story was one of forty included in a collection published by the outfit that sponsored the contest. Back in my school days I had a story published in a literary publication which went on to sell over twenty copies, only to academics and not the general public. It is pretty nice to see your name in print in a book that the world can buy and maybe the audience will be larger this time.

My story (The Egg Gathering Incident) is available here but to read the others you need to get the book.

The paperback and e book are available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kobo, and many other on line book sellers.  If you search Fresh Ink Group-Short Story Showcase on line you can find links to all the sources of this super paperback (Oops, there’s that hubris again!)

Well, that’s all I wanted to say other than thank goodness winter is almost over and we can all get back to fishing, gardening, and generally enjoying the outdoors. Cabin Fever-BE GONE!

The 2015 SUPER “Blooper” Bowl

Shock! Shock! Shock!  That was my reaction to the finale of the 2015 Super Bowl. Not having any real preference as to the winner I was focused on the abilities of the two best teams in the NFL. Or so I thought! Perhaps the best teams but I’m not so sure about the coaches.

I’ve seen all forty nine Super Bowls, many with odd plays, some that were simply boring in their lop sided scores, but this one was the most “interesting” I’ve ever seen.  It started with the “inflategate” controversy and ended with the most bizarre last minute of any previous bowl. In between came an exhibition by arguably the best quarterback in the game, perhaps ever. Seattle vs New England became Brady vs Wilson as soon as the game started, with Brady coming out ahead in spite of some “interesting” plays of his own.

Bobbles,bad calls, missed routes, lost tempers, the entire gamut of things not planned but inevitable  in a game such as this will go down in history.

I will still watch this game every year but will be unable to avoid comparing each game with this 2015 Blooper Bowl and reminiscing about the game that was, all in all,super bowl 2015 the Best Ever!!

 

The Trouble with Spell Chick

I’m a bit of a news junkie and love sitting in front of my TV and listening to the always attractive male or female newscaster and reading the scrolling banner across the screen bottom. In the last few years either I’ve become more discerning or the spelling of the world has deteriorated.. Perhaps a bit of  both but I’ve always felt I was a good speller.

Often words are spelled phonetically resulting in some awful mangling of our already rather boring language.   Other mistakes I often sea (sic) are see-sea-C-that kind of thing. These I attribute to Word Processing Software having spoiled us into not reading closely and depending on Spell Check to be diligent. We must remember that Spell Check only provides verification that you are using a correctly spelled word, not whether you are using the correct word.

Discern might be an example of a word that many people wouldn’t use enough to spell correctly-DIsern-Discern. I was watching a newscast just moments ago that spelled killed wrong. Now folks killed is a common word, not difficult, nothing odd. On the screen it was spelled kiled……..  This sort of misspelling is simply a matter of not reading what you write or God forbid not actually knowing how to spell killed….. To me that’s frightening.

Between calculators taking away the ability to do simple math and word processing taking away the ability to spell, I think there’s a crisis coming. Let’s remember the three ‘R’s”. Reading, WRiting, and ARithmetic.

Take time to write your Congressman and ask that we reinstate and emphasize basic writing and math skills in our schools before it’s too late. Write in cursive if you dare!

But that’s another story.

 

Lemonade From Lemons

I’m back at the keyboard again. Life got in the way recently but now I’m making time to post some thoughts that are important to me and hopefully at least interesting to you.

Last summer a Thundercloud red plum tree, resident in our small front yard, reached the end of its days and began to lose in the never ending cycle we call life. Leaves fell, limbs began to droop. It just seemed to lose interest in continuing in this existence.. I was at a loss as to what to do since this very tree held bird feeders, bird houses and crafts that I wanted to display. It was also the central point of a flower garden that my wife used to display her beautiful flowers.

I thought about building a pergola. I considered just placing a series of posts to hold the feeders, houses, and crafts, but could not come to a solution that suited me.

Then my wonderful wife, as if it were just so obvious, mentioned in passing that we should simply make lemonade out of the lemon in our front yard. She said “Why not just trim the tree and hang everything on it?”

An Ornament Tree was born. With Christmas approaching it seemed appropriate to make large wooden outdoor ornaments and display them. The result is what you see. I think its just beautiful and will start a trend.

Of course when the Christmas season is over the tree will be beyond supporting anything and will be cut down, put in the gutter for the city to pick up, and eventually it will return to the earth from which it came. But for a moment, in year A.D. 2014 it was the Lemonade from the Lemon we all know is possible.

Next year there will likely be a pergola with the same ornaments on it. The tree, even as it passed on, served a grand purpose.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Ornamentt treeHappy Holidays as well!

 

 

 

A Second Career Update-Fun things this time!

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here. just too busy with life and things to get to it. This is a short update on me, to those that care. Those not interested should find another web page. No politics, no meanderings about the world, Just an observation about my life and I suspect many others out there.

I’ve been busy painting, writing, and doing woodworking these past few months. The pictures are examples of my painting and woodworking (the frames). I have also started a part time job at a cabinet shop. It’s hard work but watching those rough pieces of lumber turn into fine furniture quality cabinets is a pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t getting paid, but it is a pleasure to work with my hands and be involved in manufacturing things rather than the stress of service and construction. There is still manufacturing in the USA. That slipped out-I promised no politics!!

I am also writing a weekly fishing column for the Stanly News and Press, our local newspaper. It’s fun to write and the necessary research keeps me on the lake a fair amount. What can I say!

The observation I mentioned is this. At least for me the best thing about retirement, other than spending more time with my lovely bride, is doing things I really enjoy. Getting paid to do woodworking and write about fishing makes for a happy life.

The third in my Tucker crime novel series is finally edited and when I have a cover finished it will be published. I’ll let you  know when it’s available for download. 100_1707

Half Way

In college a hundred years ago (so it seems) I took a course called Point Set Theory. All I really remember was the concept that if you approached a goal by taking a step halfway there, you would take an infinite number of steps and never arrive, never quite getting there, only halfway. That was the basic premise of the course and a way of proving there were an infinite number of points between zero and one on the “X” axis.  It seemed a totally useless concept at the time.

But, I found that in life I proceed the same way. At nine I was halfway to adulthood. At 35, I was half way through my life. At 45 I was halfway to retirement. At 50, I was halfway through my middle age. At 65 I am halfway through old age. It makes me wonder what I will think if I reach 75, perhaps I’ll find myself halfway through my dotage or halfway to the “other side”.

I believe that we progress in half steps, always believing that where we are is not the last place we’ll be, but rather halfway to somewhere.

Our minds, unable or unwilling to accept the end is approaching, like to think we have more to come. That time is unending. Perhaps this is because it’s so difficult to look at time as finite, even in our own existence. But alas, on this earth our time is finite and in reality whatever came before us or will follow us here has meaning only to our families and closest of friends and even then for only a brief period of time in the overall scheme of things. When that time here is over, we will take the next half step to what is to come.

Some believe in the promise of a Paradise. Some profess to believe there is an end to our existence. Some believe life is just another horizon, that there is something unknown in the distance hidden from view by that horizon. Belief that when we cross that horizon we will be only halfway on our journey!

What a wonderful journey it is!! 

Thoughts as winter ends and spring begins. Halfway to Summer and what a glorious Summer it will be.

Duck Dynasty-A Cost for Freedom in the USA!

Unless you live under a rock I’m sure you’re familiar with Duck Dynasty. While I don’t watch the show I occasionally see bits and pieces as I channel surf past, looking for something more to my taste. Recently I, as well as  millions of other people around the world, have been inundated with articles, TV interviews, videos, etc.. In short, more about Duck Dynasty than I ever cared to know, leading me to write this.

The family patriarch, Phil Robertson, during an interview for a leading magazine, spoke his mind about topics which almost always lead to controversy when uttered out loud in this country. Topics such as homosexuality and civil rights, when verbalized, will inevitably increase media coverage and comments by folks like me.

Being the cynic that I am, my first thoughts were that Mr. Robertson had used this controversy to stimulate media activity and thus increase the Duck Dynasty market in this holiday season. It follows that A&E, the network, could have done the same thing for the same reason. Remember the old adage, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Taken at face value and not as a publicity stunt, Robertson’s comments define a man who has strong opinions and is not embarrassed to publicize them. In this country he has the right to express himself and we, as fellow Americans, have the right to agree, verbalize counter comments, ignore him, or express ourselves in similar fashion. While my beliefs are not important to this article I will say that I find nothing of value in anything he said. I question how he could have been raised in the South and think that African Americans were better off under Jim Crow laws. As to his comments regarding gays, he’s a product of his religious beliefs. But these are topics for another time.

Back to the idea that this is all a publicity stunt, dreamed up by the network and/or the Robertson clan. Consider this, Phil Robertson was a teacher early in his career and has a Masters in education, hardly the ignorant poor white trash millionaire portrayed on the series. It seems unlikely that the comments were made without careful consideration of the resulting media frenzy.

To my point-We live in a country that allows us the freedom to have diverse opinions. A country that gives us forums for this expression, such as this blog. A country where we can all choose our own path, our own lives, a free country. These freedoms come with a cost. All opinions, whether or not we agree, are free to be expressed here.

Robertson is free to express himself. A&E is free to fire him. Viewers are free to support him or stop watching the show if they choose. The media is free to make this a circus or to let it die quietly.

As a veteran, I treasure this country and the rights afforded citizens here. I believe that we have the right to our own opinion. I only wish that mass media would let things like this just die and not make it headline news for weeks on end.

Having said all this, it’s obvious that the publicity stunt worked. I, having never seen the show, wrote this article, didn’t I?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!!

 

Where were you? President Kennedy Assassinated!

Everyone remembers where they were on that fateful day. I was a sophomore in high school, appropriately in a world history class, that afternoon when the announcement came over the loud speaker. The exact words escape me but went something like this.

“Our President, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated today in Dallas ,Texas. Everyone is to assemble in the auditorium immediately.”

The mood was somber as the six hundred or so students in our small high school walked through the halls and into the aisles, sitting class by class, assembled to hear more about this horrible scene in the days before computers or cell phones. We waited quietly for further news, the room filled with the low buzz of individual conversations.

Our school Principal stepped onto the stage after a time and the room fell silent instantly. He lead the us in a prayer and then briefly went over the meager facts available at the time. I remember him saying..

“We’ll all remember where we were when this took place. Try not to forget how you feel this minute.”

The next evening watching the news with my parents, the world was shocked by the sight of a murder occurring on live television. I was unable the grasp the enormity of the deed as it unfolded, no instant replays, live on the small black and white TV in our den. The alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed as he was being moved, live coverage capturing everything, by a nightclub owner with no real connection to any of this.

This entire situation began to feel surreal, almost as if written by a mystery writer, not real life. Today, fifty years later, the world still doesn’t know what really happened those two days, but we must all agree that on the face of it, it was a very odd time.

Many people think that Kennedy would have kept us out of Viet Nam, a war that cost over fifty thousand American dead and negatively affected millions more young men whose lives were disrupted by the dark cloud of the draft hanging over their heads.

Others believe that Kennedy’s death affected the Civil Rights movement, in its infancy at the time. Johnson, Kennedy’s replacement, was vocal in his support of Civil Rights, Kennedy not so much.

There is nothing gained by contemplating ‘What might have been?’ but it’s intriguing to think that if the accepted version of the assassination that day in Dealy Plaza is accurate, then one man, not a particularly bright one at than, can change the world in an instant.

Frightening, isn’t it?

 

 

An Adventure for the Summer

camperMy wife and I just returned from an exciting camping trip which lasted 18 days and covered 7 states. The intended goal was Denver and a visit with a daughter and grandson, but we decided to camp our way out there rather than fly and make the trip a part of the fun as well. Eight campgrounds, 4300 miles and roughly 380 gallons of gas later the adventure is over and the memories begin.

One highlight in the  adventure was three days in Branson, Missouri which turns out to be a Myrtle Beach for senior citizens. We loved all of it including the thrift stores on every corner, the Hollywood relics (King Kong climbing the Empire State Building), and most of all a romantic evening dinner cruise on a paddlewheel boat which included a wonderful show.

After three more days on the road, we arrived in the Denver area and were delighted to have the company of our grandson for several days as we spent time in a KOA campground. The campground had all the normal amenities including a pool, game room, hot tub, and several quiet retreat areas to enjoy. Our daughter joined us as well and made the stay wonderful.

Reluctantly we turned back toward home and started the long trek across Kansas. to yet another campground. A second daughter, who happened to be heading west on a California adventure of her own, met with us at a KOA in Salina, Kansas. This meeting happened on my birthday and made the day a memorable event. The next day while she headed on to Denver to visit her sister, we continued back toward North Carolina.

I won’t bore you with any further details of the trip but be assured that a photo album with written comments will be forced on everyone we know!!

Oh yes, my second novel THE DINGBATTER CASE is now available on Barnes and Noble. Please post comments as you finish the book but make sure the comments are about the book and not the author. The first in the series, THE NATIONAL PARK CASE underwent a major re write and is now (I believe) a much better book. Comments on this one would be welcome as well. It’s still on Barnes and Noble and now on Amazon as well.

The finale to the Tucker Trilogy is in process and will be published in time.

 

Summer Rains, Never Ending

boy in rain

 

This will be remembered as the summer of never ending rain!  Stuck inside, yet again, as the rain falls continuously outside, brings memories of living in Florida with it’s constant summer rain. At least there the rain was expected and not as big a deal. Here, we simply aren’t ready for it.

Good things about all this rain: Yard is greener. Don’t have to wash cars. Don’t have to water the garden (mixed blessing, as ours has drowned). Cooler, so lower power bills. Time for reading and writing, if so inclined. Good sleeping weather.

Bad things about all this rain: Can’t go fishing. Can’t go for a bike ride. Clothes wet all the time. Yard grows several inches a day (or so it seems). Everything is moldy and green (not with envy). Sleepy all the time.

Well, you get the picture.

I’m just about done with my ARK. A fine vessel, waiting in my back yard with almost enough water to float it. Perhaps today’s rains will cause it to rise up and we can ride it to dryer climes. Or more likely, the rain will stop today and I’ll have the most unusual looking storage building on the block.

I predict in August we’ll have weeks of dry, hot weather and will look back fondly on these wetter times. However, we’ll be looking from outside, under the sunshine, and that will be much better.

One last thing, my first book THE NATIONAL PARK CASE, has been substantially revised. The new version, with minor character and plot changes and significant editing improvements, is available free, both on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. Please read the new version and make comments.

The second book in the Tucker Trilogy, The Dingbatter Case, is in edit as we speak and will be on line shortly. I’ll let you know.

Until next time. Live, Laugh, Love and be happy!