My Work

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Friday, December 26, 2014

A New Year? I'm Ready, Bring It On


Here we are with a brand new year in which to muck about, and I’m going to do what I can to make it one of the really good ones. A friend, Aristotle? Pavlov? Krispy Kreme? once told me, “A problem is nothing more than an opportunity to succeed.” Damn it, I’m trying.

When I finish a short story, count the words and then worry; are these the right words? What if they’re all the wrong words? How many are the right ones? And, then one editor says, nope, wrong words. And another. And then, a brilliant editor comes forward and says, yup, good words. We’ll print them for you. In the same order in which they were written.

My wife is the most wonderful creature on the ranch. She lets me get away with things even my mama wouldn’t, smiles knowingly when I’m grumpy, allows a rant or two during the evening news, and tells her family that, down deep, I’m a nice guy.

My horses and chickens and rabbits and goats don’t really care about words. That is except one: dinnertime. I sing the Kellogg’s song to the chickens every morning as I distribute the things they turn into eggs. The horses are not patient as I plod to the corral feeder with a handful of good stuff. Rabbits don’t talk, they just pull a witchy thing and twitch their noses, which tends to bring a little more food their way.

For our new year? Big bad winter to start things off and douse the drought, and pleasant growing season with which to fill the larder. A long warm summer designed for horseback adventures and fly rod excursions hopefully will be in order. And, many long weekends in the mountains with tents and cast iron cook ware.

I look forward to long quiet mornings designed for a thousand words or more, many of them being of the “right” kind. Hopefully, morning mail will be dropped on the desk of kindly editors who had a fine breakfast and good sleep the night before. The ones that like the word “yes”. The foibles of the human being are many and with each foible are thousands of stories, as many as stars in the heavens. A blanket of foibles from which to choose.

Couple all the above with good health, bucket loads of humor, and the ability to see the good in many, and we’ll be off to a fine start in 2015. All the ingredients are there except one. Peace on earth. That one is tough. And, since I have a podium from which to speak, over the coming months I will offer, along with sessions of madness, ways to improve this old world of ours.

Until next time, will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

As always, read good books and stay regular.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winter? Party on!


With “official” winter still a week and half away, and with a major winter storm blasting its way through the Sierra Nevada and western Nevada, I thought a little jump start on the season might be in line.

There are atmospheric conjunctions about to take place in this northern hemisphere of old earth, there are conjunctions created by the human race, and there is always that possibility that Mother Nature herself will step in with something to offer. First is the natural change from fall to winter, known as the winter solstice, on or about December 21st. It’s the day with the shortest amount of sunlight and it ushers in the three month period known as winter, but interestingly brings about just a bit more sunlight each day during that period.

The ancient people learned that these changes in our weather were of extreme importance. Knowing when to plant, when to harvest, when to prepare for the long hard winter months allowed for the humans to flourish. As is human nature, even unto today, a change can be an opportunity to party on.

In the tropics, that section of the earth least affected by its tilt, the changes are from drier months to wetter months. I spent four years living on Guam, and the difference we found between the dry season and the wet season was, simply, during the dry season it only rained once or twice a day. There was an almost unnoticed change in the daily temperature.

For those south of the tropical zones, December 21 is the start of summer, the autumnal equinox is spring, time for planting, and March 21 means time to harvest. But Christmas is Christmas and Hanukkah is Hanukkah. And New Year is always an opportunity to party, make a resolution or two, and sing “Auld Lang Syne”. Bless you Robert Burns, for without ye, we’d have nothing to do at midnight except drink a cup of kindness and fire off a shotgun or bottle rocket.

Unless of course we are in Japan and be celebrating Oshogatsu. These are “forget the year” parties. In Spain we’d eat twelve grapes, and in the Netherlands we’d burn our Christmas trees in the middle of the street. Oh, the fun of it all.

Getting back to December 21st, if we could please, many in the pagan worlds of yore, looked forward to the long nights, bundled up by a roaring fire, the smell of evergreens flooding the house, and great pots of meats and veggies roasting, braising, baking, and frying. Here in my little valley some twenty miles north of Reno in the great state of Nevada, the chickens are in bed by quarter to five each evening, the horses simply don’t give a tinker’s dam when the sun goes down, and Patty and I bring out the best from our collection of cast iron pots and pans. Many of our dinners come completely from our pens, corrals, and gardens, which makes it pretty easy to say ‘thanks’.

The atmosphere has been getting cooler each day since September 21st, and it will take a long time before it starts warming its way to March 21st. Even though the days will have more sunshine, the air and ground will not get warm for some time. With bitter cold nights lasting as much as fourteen and a half hours for weeks on end, old man sol has his work cut out getting things warmed up. Maybe an apr├Ęs ski party(ies) would(will) help.

We must have a celebration to welcome winter, on or about December 21st. Then we must celebrate Christmas. We must celebrate Hanukkah. And, hang on Nellie, we must celebrate the coming of the new year. From New Year it’s thirty-three days ‘till Ground Hog Day, so let’s party while we can.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Weather Outside is --- Winter


Ah, winter, that period of long sleep between the falling of the leaves and the blushing of new leaves. Never mind what the scientists and geeks and those with a lack of romance and poetry in their soul say, winter begins with the first red nose, running freely in icy winds, or the first limb breaking while still holding a leaf or two and burdened with pounds of ice.


Winter, in the northern hemisphere of this dear old planet, officially begins with the Winter Solstice, on or about December 21st. There are feasts and parties and festivals celebrating the occasion, some pagan, some relating to various religions, some just because you got a new pair of skis.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, in Poems, in 1847:

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow.

December is supposed to be the great snowmaker, and for us that live in the shadow of the towering Sierra Nevada, that means skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and just having fun while bundled like a child waiting for the bus. Which brings us to this famous saying, written by Lydia Maria Child in Flowers for Children, and titled “Thanksgiving Day:”
Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh,
Through the white and drifted snow.

Will you have chestnuts roasting on an open fire when those first major snow storms arrive, or just a pint or two of your own special grog? I enjoy the pleasure of eggnog, particularly when it’s home made with mounds of whipped egg white meringue topping the brandy and hot water, gently stirred in and dusted with nutmeg or other spices of pleasure.

Good old fashioned rum and coffee covered in thick whipped cream ain’t bad either, chum, but I think William Shakespeare may have had the right answer, back in 1594 when he wrote in Love’s Labour’s Lost:

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl.

Thus the cycle continues, winter slowly allows more and more sunlight to linger, just a bit each day, mind you, until, yes, a bud appears, then a leaf, and we put aside the skis and boards and skates, and rummage about, knowing full well we put those cut offs in the third drawer down.

Ah, winter, good friend. Read good books and stay regular. Ta…

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson


Some thoughts on Ferguson from a beat up old retired reporter. Interesting, isn’t it, that so many people that weren’t there, that were not privy to a word of evidence, are willing to argue with the grand jury’s finding? When the transcript of the proceeding is released, I wonder if many will actually read it.

Watching the situation from afar, after all northern Nevada is not very close to Missouri, I often cringed at some of the reporting. Talking heads assuming the reporter on the scene actually had inside information? From whom? More than one editor took great chunks out of my head when I first got started in this business because I didn’t or couldn’t corroborate something I had written.

We all saw CNN reporters interview people and say as fact the person was a witness to the shooting only to find out that he wasn’t anywhere near the scene. We heard conjecture reported as fact. And, now, we are amazed at the reaction following release of the grand jury’s report.

If I still had a working newsroom I think this would be a good time to have a sit-down with all the reporters and use Ferguson as a learning tool. How not to report on flammable issues. Mr. Gruber may have been right about swaying the American public because of a case of ignorance.

Have a great day.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mr. President, you are not king


The current broo-ha-ha between the GOP and the democrats is pathetic. The question that needs to be answered is whether or not the president of the United States has the right to circumvent the constitution of the United States. Only after that question is answered can any work be done on this country’s immigration policy, and those conclusions must be reached in the halls of congress then signed into law by the president.

George Washington laid it out pretty strongly when he said he was not a king, did not want to be a king, and would not allow himself to be treated like a king. Mr. Obama has no sense of history, does not respect the constitution, and gives every indication that he is a king. This is the proper time for congress as a whole, not just the republicans, not just the democrats, but the congress, to step up and take back that which it owns, one third, that is, branch of the government.

Questions of who is a legal immigrant and who is illegal must be answered by laws of the land not by executive order. The concept of executive order is something very hard to find in the constitution, but even in the past when executive orders have been used, most often they have been pre-approved by the congress. Most recently Presidents Bush and Obama have grasped the concept with incredible strength, bringing about this idea of government by decree.

Oh, my. Government by decree? Isn’t that what led to all that uproar back in 1776?

Have a great day, read good books and stay regular.