My Work

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

And so, we start over...

We made it through Christmas, at least in our family. Hope yours was fine. Now, we have to give some thought to the future and what it might or might not hold for us. A time for reflection, but more to the point, a time for introspection, and possibly a time for hope.  

A look back at 2015 and there are shards of pleasure mixed with the detritus of misery, which is pretty much life anyway. Glancing into the future, through a glass darkly? Or not.  

What a bleak time we might have at the polls come November if our only choice is a liar vs an egomaniac/narcissist. More than three hundred million people and this is the best we have? I will not, under any circumstances vote for Hillary, and I will not, under any circumstances vote for The Donald. These two simply cannot be the best people in the world to lead this nation.

From the likes of Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, Reagan, Ike, and JFK, we have degenerated to this pit of grime is sickening. It is at times like this that I’m thankful of just how old I am, for if I were still among those with peach fuzz, I would be terrified. Being with those with few hairs, and those that are still there are white, I am well aware that I won’t have to live for a long length of time with the chaos this might bring.

Change the subject!!!

My personal 2015 was just plain damn good. I have five books published, one currently under review, and three as works in progress. Along with all that, I’m still writing short stories, which I really enjoy, and have one collection of short stories under review. Yeah, 2015 was a fine year, a vintage to remember, with anticipation riding high for 2016.

As for my publishing career, it is to my benefit to build my image, my brand, and that will be up to those that read or will read my work. If you like it, tell a friend. Between a long career in broadcast newsrooms followed by lots of time editing and publishing my own newspapers and magazines, it would be impossible for me to simply stop writing.

If I didn’t have my several hours every single day banging the crap out of a keyboard, I think I would go nuts. To a young writer the admonishment is write, write, write. To an old vowel monger, that isn’t necessary, we don’t know how to not write.

There are worries about 2016, of course. Among them are our young university students who seem to be willing to delete the first amendment to our constitution. Now, let’s look at that problem from several angles. University student? No civics background? No understanding of why there is a first amendment?

Well, from another angle, without the first amendment they wouldn’t have the right to complain about it. We complained with strong voices back in the 60s, some of us about the war, some of us about those complaining about the complainers, again, because of the first amendment.

When one studies our constitution, our way of life, one sees the girder holding up that way of life is the first amendment. Without it, there would not be a USA today. We should cheer when someone complains, voices opposition, even those whose education is severely lacking, despite they’re being a university student. Then take the time to educate them.

The second, fourth, and sixth are being hacked at and challenged by those who have sworn to uphold their very existence. I think if we wanted a monarchy we would not have had that big old revolution, or if we wanted a dictator we would not have put term limits on the presidency.

And those that want a monarchy or dictatorship are those most vehemently against the first, second, and fourth amendment.

It’s hard enough to make the right decisions regarding our personal lives, holding or finding new employment, paying or not paying our bills, loving or not loving those we live closest with, and this year, we have to put someone in charge of running the country.

Will that person have an understanding of economics, of foreign policy, of political relationships? Before you mark your X on the ballot, ask the hard questions and understand what could happen if the answer is wrong. There are elements in the world that have a great desire to destroy out country and our people, and some of those elements are homegrown. Some are foreign but funded from many sources. Can you identify those elements? Don’t vote until you can.

One more little thought. While the election of the president is very important, the most important item you’ll find on a ballot is the person at the local level who determines taxes. City Council and County Commission seats are responsible for more of your tax dollars than the federal government, and if you don’t believe that, you better start doing some homework for civics class.

Let’s get back to the good stuff. We have may feet of snow to measure in the high Sierra Nevada for the first time in a while, and that should mean some good fishing this coming spring. It should mean lots of water for corn, beans, tomatoes, and cabbage. Give us this and we’ll hope for another two or three years of heavy winter to bring this drought to an end.

Until next time, read a good book, maybe even one or two written by yours truly, and stay regular.

Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?
Or buy a fine book?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Holly Jolly Blues

Someone was not too pleased with my last blog about mud puddles, humor, enjoying what life has to offer. This person implied that with all the hate flowing through the air, people willing to kill those they don’t know, and politicians doing what-ever-it-is-that-politicians-do, I should not have been so flip about life. Well, I thought, since I can’t do much about Iraq or Syria, much less about Hillary or The Donald, I might just as well enjoy a good mud puddle.

Again, the question was asked, what kind of person are you? Don’t you care? Well, put simply, I’m not the kind of person that sits and broods about the problems of the world. I plan, in broad generalization, for the future, and find that dealing with each day as it flows through my aura, a far better way.

Do I care? Most certainly, I do. Can I do anything about Iraq or The Donald? Most certainly, not. While my life will be impacted in ways, over which I have no control, I would rather worry about whether or not that puddle is deep enough to go over the top of my boot.

My wife, that darling little girl known as Patty, gets a little tired of hearing me say, “worry about those things you can do something about, and not those things, about which you have no control.” She’s smiling and wagging her pretty head right now, reading this. But it’s a great truth.

Planning with a broad brush allows for changes if a change is offered, for adjustments for those things we can control, and for disallowing those things that won’t work. Recognizing when an opportunity is presented is a big part of my plans working. Here’s a little poem I wrote that will show how one suffering greatly from the blues takes advantage of an offered change.

Those Holly jolly blues

Here he comes,
         Dancin’ and shakin’ and laughin’ and givin’
         Awash in the holly jolly mood, covered in
                  Wools and fur, reds and whites.

‘An here I am,
         Cryin’ and poutin’ and cussin’ and sad,
         Feelin’ sorry for me, not carin’ bout nothin’.
                  Ripped denim, dirty socks, not white

In you walk,
         Dancin’ and shakin’ that bootie, givin’ me life,
         Prancin’ about in heels and net, covered in
                  Silks and gauze, reds, and sheer.

No blues tonight,
         Not with a princess in hand, Santa Claus smile,
         Santa Claus laugh, a holly jolly mood, us covered
                  In reds and whites and satin sheets

Oh, my, but a little change in attitude goes a long way. Life can be full of surprises, some as ugly as Iraq and Syria, and others as much fun as jumping in the middle of a mud puddle and finding out, damn me, it’s over my boot top. If you have to worry, then for heaven’s sake, make it something that’s really worth your time and effort.

Until next time, have the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of new years. And, always, read good books and stay regular.

Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Act Your Age?

There are many relatively funny jokes and puns dealing with maturity, aging, and the process known as getting older, but the subject seems to be rarely discussed by those suffering the consequences. An example, “No matter how old the man, show him a mud puddle and he becomes a ten-year-old.” Notice, will you, it is not said in first person. I’m double sevens, live on a small hobby farm with ample opportunity to stomp through mud puddles following every storm, and my wife will attest, “Johnny’s like a ten-year-old in the rain or the snow.”

What exactly is meant by becoming an adult, becoming mature? Damned if I know. When Patty and I walk down the street, she will make a move to put us in step with each other, and I’ll skip us out of it immediately. If we’re walking hand in hand, which we do a lot, I’ll walk on the wrong side of the power pole, then say, Bread and Butter.

I take great delight in breaking out the Christmas stuff and getting it hung, dancing around the house like Santa’s chief elf. Is that childish? So what! I’m registered to vote and I do vote, I maintain a driver license, and most of the time, pay most of my bills. So, if I want to stand in the corral and sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to our horses, I will. And pretend I’m Barney Oldfield on the tractor.

It’s a little after five in the morning, right now, and the dog and I just came in from feeding the horses in a wonderful rainstorm coupled with some high wind. It was fun watching the dog romp through the wet grass, trying to find just the right place to add more wetness. One of the horses waits until I’m almost up to the feed bin with his flakes of alfalfa, then comes running hard, putting on the brakes just before crashing through the fence. Even in a rainstorm. Life should be fun.

That old dog is nine human years and the horse is eighteen human years, and the guy enjoying their act and energy is supposed to act like an adult, for heaven’s sake. Well, have to put this aside now and get busy on another letter to Santa before I check out how much rain we’re getting.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular.

Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Monday, November 30, 2015

My Dear Mr. Claus;

Dear Santa;

Hi. Yeah, it’s me again, and just like always, I gotta tell you, I have really tried to be a good boy. Things don’t always work out the way we want them, eh? Not sure what I want to ask you to bring this year, other than that new tractor, or course. I won’t bother you with all that nonsense about peace on earth. That isn’t up to you, that’s up to us. To hell with that can of worms.

Not much you can do about the drought, but whoever’s in charge there, they seem to be working on that little problem.  A new shotgun would help the corn crop, though. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there, Santa, I can grow corn, but those damn cottontail bunnies like it before it’s corn. Shotgun would save the corn and put the bunnies in the frying pan. That’ll work.

Global Warming? Don’t know which side of the fence you tend toward, but it isn’t your concern anyway. It’s up to us, again. Seems like whatever is up to us becomes politicized to the point that no one can remember the question.

If you could distribute a bunch of dolls to all the little girls that don’t have one, that would be nice. And some big old growly trucks and heavy equipment toys to the little boys around the world. I’d like that, very much.

I could use a new saddle, but a good used one will suffice, if you’re of a mind. On the other hand, that beat up hunk of leather and tree I ride with is mighty comfortable. Never mind the saddle, maybe some canned veggies for a homeless shelter would be better.

That’s about it for this year, old friend. Tap ‘er light, remember your vectors, go VFR on your flight, and have a Merry Christmas. Your friend always,

Until next time, read good books and stay regular.

Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

First the ribs, then the pie. That's Thanksgiving!

I was going to write a wonderful dissertation on Thanksgiving and all its treasures, legends, and folklore. Bah. Patty and I will enjoy BBQd spareribs on the Weber with a rub that I have made for years, and some BBQ sauce that will rip your knickers. While the ribs are cooking, we’ll be eating a dozen or so oysters on the half shell. That’s tradition.

The rub is equal parts black pepper, white pepper, and cayenne pepper. It will have considerable granulated garlic and smoked hot paprika mixed in. Colorful and tasty when generously rubbed into the pork. Don’t mess with those baby back ribs. Get the full slab of meat and bone, the ones that lap over the edges of the Weber grill.

I like to use hickory or apple wood chunks, well soaked, for the smoke. Put the charcoal to the sides, not directly under where the meat will be. When the charcoal has a covering of white ash, put the chunks in and let them catch on fire really good. Then, with the top vent closed, put the lid on to put out the flames. Only takes a few seconds. Open the lid, open the vent, put the ribs in and get that cover back on before the flames return. If that doesn’t drive your neighbors nuts, nothing will.

When the smoke dies off, open the lid and mop on the BBQ sauce. Whooooeeee, pardner, this is Thanksgiving. My sauce is pretty simple. Pint of home-canned stewed tomatoes, half a yellow onion, cut up bell pepper, any color, three Jalapeños, seeds in, quarter cup of molasses, three cloves garlic, chopped, Tblspn hot smoked paprika, and a  pint of Kentucky bourbon. Put one quarter cup of bourbon in sauce, drink the rest as the day progresses.

Put all the ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for about forty five minutes. Let it cool, and put in blender to puree. Better make two batches.

It will take about three hours for the ribs to cook, maybe four if it’s a real honker of a slab, and you will want to mop that sauce on several times. The meat should simply fall off the bones. Some people want veggies or taters or things with supper. Why?

After we have collected a platter full of bare bones, I’ll smile at Patty, she’ll smile back, and we’ll probably fall fast asleep in our rockers. When we awaken, there will be large wedges of sweet potato pie served, possibly with great dollops of home whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving to you from us.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular.

Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Vets Day?

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, World War I came to an end. The War to End All Wars, and when the veterans came home, our government screwed them over to the point of rebellion. At the behest of the president of the United States, McArthur attacked our own veterans. After all these years, things haven’t changed much.

When the boys came marching home from WWII, it was different, but that euphoria only lasted until Korea. World War II vets were bathed in glory, Korean vets were ignored. And then came Viet Nam. Enough said.

You can go into any down trodden area of any town, village, or city and find a Viet Nam vet. He’ll be the one in rags, “got a buck, mister?” on his lips.

War hasn’t changed, and there are many vets will look you in the eye and tell you that the lucky ones were the ones that didn’t come home. November 11th is set aside to remember those who have served, those who have sacrificed, and the general population does that, earnestly, and with love. It’s the government that doesn’t.

The VA is still a quagmire and it’s the vets that suffer. Not all vets got shot at, not all vets have come home with massive emotional problems, but all vets are being dishonored by the VA.

Books have been written, politicians have stood, solemnly, with hands over hearts, parades have been marched, and our upstanding congress and president have allowed those that served, giving those the chance to be congressmen or president, to shun their duty.

Get off your lazy butts and correct this problem. Maybe it’s time for a couple hundred thousand shelter halves be erected in Washington.

Bless you, vet, and welcome home, soldier.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular.

Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?