It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing

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Book Review – The Shaker Murders by Eleanor Kuhns

Posted by mcm0704 on February 17, 2019 |

The Shaker Murders
Eleanor Kuhns
ISBN-10: 0727888374
ISBN-13: 978-0727888372
Severn House
Hardcover: 240 pages
February 1, 2019, $28.99
Genre: Mystery
Series: Will Rees Mysteries (Book 6)

BOOK BLURB: A peaceful Shaker community is rocked by a series of bizarre accidents, but is there more to them than first appears?

Fresh from facing allegations of witchcraft and murder, travelling weaver Will Rees, his heavily pregnant wife Lydia and six adopted children take refuge in Zion, a Shaker community in rural Maine. Shortly after their arrival, screams in the night reveal a drowned body … but is it murder or an unfortunate accident? The Shaker Elders argue it was just an accident, but Rees believes otherwise.

As Will investigates further, more deaths follow and a young girl vanishes from the community. Haunted by nightmares for his family’s safety, Rees must rush to uncover the truth before the dreams can become reality and more lives are lost. Yet can the Shaker Elders be trusted, or is an outsider involved?

REVIEW: The story opens just as Rees and the family arrive at the Shaker community and right away the reader gets a sense that the transition from living outside in the World to being in the strict confines of the Shaker life will not be easy. Rees is accustomed to having his family around him, and the separation of men and women and children is hard for him, as are the other restrictions such as no unnecessary talking. We meet the first murder victim, Jabez, then quickly afterward meet Jonathan and Solomon, the two elders who impose rigid controls on Rees even after they give permission for him to investigate.

As someone who has not read the previous Will Rees mysteries, I wanted a little more information in the beginning as to how they came to the Shaker Community, and why, as well as where their former home had been. It’s explained that they are fleeing persecution in the city where they’d had been living, but there was no reason given for choosing to come to the Shakers. I also had a hard time figuring out the time period, and I think just a few more details would have helped me get oriented to the time and place. It took a couple of chapters for me to get fully invested in the story, and I would definitely recommend that readers start this series with the first book.

That said, the mystery was well-crafted, and the author did a great job leading us, and Rees, down a number of paths before he was able to focus on the real culprit. The characters were also deftly drawn and interesting, as were some of the sub-plots that complicated things for the family beyond the murders and disappearances.

This is a series well worth the read.

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BUY LINK

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eleanor Kuhns is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition for A Simple Murder. The author of five previous Will Rees mysteries, she is the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York.

Visit her on her WEBSITE 

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Other books by Kuhns:
A Simple Murder – 2012
Death of a Dyer – 2013
Cradle to Grave – 2014
Death in Salem – 2015
The Devil’s Cold Dish – 2016

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Please come back on Wednesday when Eleanor will be my guest with an interesting post about the Shakers. If you’re like me, your knowledge of them ends with just knowing the name of of sect.

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Friday Reads – The Curiosities by Susan Gloss

Posted by mcm0704 on February 15, 2019 |

The Curiosities
Susan Gloss
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 5, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062270362
ISBN-13: 978-0062270368

This very engaging story has several major characters, but the plot really revolves around Nell. She is reeling after losing a baby in the third trimester, as well as the guilt she feels over what she has hidden from her husband, Josh, about money spent on fertility treatments. Desperate to find a job and start paying off the credit card debt, Nell sees an ad for a job as a director for a new nonprofit called the Mansion Hill Artists’ Colony.

The colony is the brainchild of the late, unconventional society dame Betsy Barrett, who left behind her vast fortune and a killer collection of modern art to establish an artist-in-residency program to be run out of her lakeside mansion where she had spent most of her life. Three artists have already been approved for the first session, and Nell has little time to prepare for their arrival after being given the job and the keys to the mansion the same day she interviews with the attorney handling the trust.

Each of the artists has personal issues to work through while at the Colony. Odin a metal sculptor from Minnesota is trying to get past his grief over the death of his soul-mate who was so much more than just a girlfriend. The grief stands in his way like a giant, blocking Odin’s attempts to get past it.

Paige, a gifted visual artist who has no confidence in her work, or herself, struggles to find a way to believe in what she is capable of creating. She is also trying to figure out why she scuttles every personal relationship she has ever had.

Annie, the oldest of the trio and a successful artist who has let work languish for a few years, is determined to do her art her way. Her medium is photography, and she is working on a project that she has been advised to abandon to work on something “safer.” She has been taking pictures of people who are dying as part of her photography retrospective about death, and she makes this observation to support her interest, “Isn’t that what art is all about? Trying to create just a snippet of something real and true and permanent?”

Another quote that I found meaningful was one from Betsy Barrett, who said, “Art is like life. It’s fragile, but that doesn’t mean you should never take a risk.”

In addition to wonderful lines that made me stop and smile and ponder, there were so many other life lessons in this book about love, relationships, and what it takes to pursue a creative endeavor and stick with it.

As the story progressed, I really enjoyed seeing the way the characters’ lives touched and how that touching gave them each something they needed. It was real, and intense at times, but so satisfying to a reader.

This is a terrific title to add to your list of books to read. Check it out at Amazon, or the Harper Collins Website for more buying options.

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That’s all for me for today, folks. Check back on Sunday when I will have another book review. Be safe. Be happy.

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Celebrating Love

Posted by mcm0704 on February 13, 2019 |

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

 

It’s a day early, I know, but I wanted to send the wish out anyway. Will you be doing anything special to mark the day? I may let the day pass without much attention, as celebrating without the person you loved for many years is so hard. I know I am not alone in that boat, so I will be thinking of all my friends who have lost their partners and find this day difficult.

Love can be shown in so many different ways, and Slim Randles is here today with a sweet story about how a little act of kindness goes a long way. I know these cowboys don’t often like to see “sweet” attached to them or a story, but there is no other word for it. Enjoy…

Steve was walking down the sidewalk the other day to get from the barber shop to where he’d parked his pickup. It was a nice kind of day. Chilly, of course, but not bolt-freezing cold.

His mind was on what he had to do that day. In addition to the usual ranch chores, he had to catch up the horses and give their hooves a mid-winter trim. There are only a couple of horses shod at the moment, in case one is needed, and the others will get iron on them before the spring gather.

“Mister?”

Steve stopped and turned to see a girl about seven or eight years old coming up behind him.

“Hi there,” said Steve, smiling.

“Mister, I think you dropped this.”

She held out her hand, and there was an old pocket knife. It was old and beaten up and Steve automatically slapped his left-side vest pocket.

Gone.

“Thank you so much,” Steve said, taking back the old, worthless pocket knife that had been handed down from his grandfather. He put it back in the vest and buttoned the pocket shut.

“Can I give you anything? A dollar, maybe?”

“No thanks,” she said smiling. “See you later.”

Steve thought, she did this and didn’t even know my name. Well, I don’t know hers, either. But that was really nice of her.

Sometimes love can be just a little thing like handing a knife back to someone who dropped it.
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Brought to you by Home Country (the book) available from www.riograndebooks.com

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Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” and is the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press.  If you enjoy his columns here, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It has some of the best of his offerings through the years he has been writing columns.

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Cats And Egos And Power Struggles

Posted by mcm0704 on February 11, 2019 |

Every late winter/early spring I used to pull the first new grass for my horse as the fresh green blades were so good for helping him to shed his winter coat. Now I pull the grass for my cats. Outdoor cats can nibble on grass whenever the urge strikes them, but since mine are indoor cats, I need to bring the treat to them.

Sammy and Lily are grass fiends. They get so excited when I come inside with a handful, you’d think I was bringing the fanciest of cat foods. They dance and coo, telling me to hurry up and put the grass down.

There are several reasons cats eat grass, and I found this fact on the Animal Planet website. “The juices in grass contain folic acid, a vitamin essential to a cat’s well-being. Folic acid, also present in the mother cat’s milk, aids the production of oxygen in the cat’s bloodstream.”

If you’d like to know more about cats and what plants are okay for them to eat, check out this post from Pretty Litter. I did not know that the houseplant commonly called a spider plant was okay for cats, but now I know why the two I have brought inside for the winter now have most of the ends of the blades gone. 🙂

So, we’re facing the threat of another government shutdown because negotiations over the border wall are falling apart. What is happening here with our government holding the people hostage over this situation is not all that dissimilar to what the Venezuelan president is doing. While thousands of his countrymen are starving, he is refusing to let humanitarian aid cross the border into the country, literally holding the food for his people hostage so he can maintain power.

Why does everything that happens in the world have to come down to who’s got the power and who can keep it at all costs? Millions of people suffer from starvation, torture and are massacred just so those at the top can stay at the top. And most of those people at the top, including our government leaders, have no idea of what it is like to be the common person on a neighborhood street. Even if they were once one of those common people, they have long forgotten, and are willing to put all the everyday folks on the line of this dangerous game of roulette.

My mind simply cannot grasp how people can do this in good conscience, but then, maybe that’s the problem. They have no conscience. At least no one even close to that of the common person on a neighborhood street.

The latest news from PBS Newshour indicates that budget talks are underway again, but there is noting to cheer about yet.

Okay, end of rant. I’m still trying to recover completely from the medical procedure I had last Friday, so this will be a short blog today. Coming up on Wednesday will be another post from humorist Slim Randles. Then on Friday and Sunday, I’ll have two book reviews. Until then, I’ll leave you with this joke from The Laugh Factory:

A magician worked on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The audience would be different each week, so the magician did the same tricks each week. However, there was a problem, the captain’s parrot saw the shows each week and began to understand how the magician did every trick.

Once the parrot understood, he started shouting out the secrets in the middle of the show, “Look, it’s not the same hat.” “Look, he is hiding the flowers under the table.” “Hey, why are all the cards the Ace of Spades?”

The magician was furious but couldn’t do anything, it was, after all, the captain’s parrot. One day, the ship had an accident and sank. The magician found himself with the parrot, adrift on a piece of wood, in the middle of the ocean. They stared at each other with hatred, but did not utter a word. This went on for a day, then another, and another.

Finally, after a week, the parrot said, “Okay, I give up. Where the heck is the boat?”

That’s all for today. Be safe. Be happy.

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Service Dogs Never Stop Serving

Posted by mcm0704 on February 8, 2019 |

I’m going to be in Dallas today getting nerve ablations that will hopefully ease some of the pain on my face and head and get me off some of my meds. In addition to Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, I suffer from a condition known as CRS (can’t remember shit.) Many people on high doses of nerve-blockers have cognitive issues, as do people on some other medications. Not a fun place to be. 

My doctor explained how this one medication, Gabapentin, interferes with our ability to hang on to words and a train of thought, and he acknowledged how difficult that is for someone who works with words all the time.

I love him for that. He is a good, compassionate doctor.

Anyway, since I will be out of pocket for several days, I thought I’d resurrect a post from 2011 about service dogs and get it scheduled before I close down my office. Enjoy…

When I was just out of high school, I worked for a veterinarian and had many occasions to see service dogs. The very first time I saw a golden retriever was when his owner brought him in for shots, and I was so impressed with the noble dignity of these dogs trained to assist humans in so many ways.

I lived and worked in Michigan just north of Detroit, and found out that Leader Dogs for the Blind are trained in Rochester, not too far from where I worked. I made it a point to go there whenever I could to watch the training and pick up some tips for training my dogs. I still use some of their methods, which are based on positive rewards and repetition. There are no choke collars or harsh treatment used. It was incredible to watch those dogs change from rambunctious young pups to mature, dependable leader dogs.

What I never thought about at the time was what happens to those service dogs when the owner dies. And I only thought about it recently because a friend shared a touching story with me about the devotion of one of those dogs. She had just attended the memorial service for one of her friends who had a dog that was trained to be a companion for someone with emotional issues. The dog had lived with this family for five years and had formed a close bond with the man who suffered from PTSD. At the gathering after the memorial service, the family kept noticing how the dog was pacing and softly whining. The dog would walk to the front door, then back to a chair where his master used to sit, then back to the door.

After watching this for a little while, one of the daughters had the idea to put the dog in his “uniform.” So they got the saddlebag and harness and put them on him. According to my friend, the minute the dog was in the uniform, he jumped to attention like a Marine coming on duty. Then the dog walked over and put his head on the widow’s feet. He stayed near her for the rest of the afternoon.

My friend said that watching the dog was one of the most poignant experiences she had had in a long time, and it brought tears to my eyes as she related the story.

I asked my friend what was going to happen to the dog now, and she said that her friend will be able to keep the dog. She has been taking him out for daily walks with his “uniform” on, hoping that soon he will realize that his job now is to be with her and share the memory of the man they both miss.

I hope you enjoyed the story of that special dog. If you have a story about a leader dog you’d like to share, please do. Have a great weekend. Be safe. Be happy. 

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A Conversation With Windy

Posted by mcm0704 on February 5, 2019 |

Slim Randles is here today with his friend, Windy, who likes to fracture the English language like nobody else. I admire the guys at the Mule Barn Truck Stop who can follow the conversation with Windy and reply with hardly a moment’s hesitation. More power to them. 

Let’s join the guys with a cup of coffee and have a listen.

“Well,” said Steve, polishing off the last of his coffee, “what should we discuss this fine morning?”

“I’m awful glad you asked, ol’ pard,” came the cheerful voice of Windy Wilson, emerging through the swinging doors that came from the kitchen of the Mule Barn truck stop. “Yessir. Awful glad.”

Steve and the other members of the world dilemma think tank looked in amazement as this old camp cook and cowboy came over with the coffee pot and topped off their coffee mugs. Windy had found a dish towel and wrapped it around his waist, too.

“Windy?” said Doc. “Mighty fine-looking dish towel you’re wearing.”

“Thanks, Doc. I cornsider it the aplex of dining room fashion for a volunteer coffee guy. Took me a while to talk Loretta into lettin’ me wear it, howsomever. I guess she ain’t up on dining room fashions.”

“Let me guess,” said Doc. “This must be your helping day, right?”

“Right as grain, Doc,” Windy said, cheerfully. “I thought about it and decisioned I’d devote my helpin’ day to the good ol’ Mule Barn.”

We all knew Windy dedicated one day each week to helping others. This sometimes meant helping them when they really didn’t need it, but hey, the older folks in our town get some trash picked up in the yard and some kindling split. You know.

“So fer a conservational subject this sparklin’ a.m.,” Windy said, “I believe I’d meanderate through the mystericals of ancient history, beginnin’ with them Egypt guys. Whadda ya think?”

“Might just do that, Windy,” said Steve. “But if you don’t mind me asking, why are you helping out with the coffee in here rather than cleaning up somebody’s yard.”

Windy looked around to see if the other 43 people in the café could hear, then leaned down toward Steve. “Lot warmer in here than it is in somebody’s yard, and thassa fact.”

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Brought to you by Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years. Available at unmpress.com

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Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at www.slimrandles.com, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country, that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

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Who To Trust

Posted by mcm0704 on February 4, 2019 |

It is hard to believe, but after the deep freeze of last week, temperatures are rising to a balmy 47 degrees in Detroit and Chicago. Much of the Dakotas and Minnesota are still hovering near or just below zero, but according to my friend in South Dakota, that is a warm spell.

Here in my corner of Northeast Texas it is going to be 77 today. I’m not sure if I should cheer or say, “Yikes!” And some of my friends in deep East Texas have posted that the daffodils are popping up in the pastures. I do miss seeing those flowers covering acres of meadow land as I drove along country roads.

Two things of note in the news today. First is the on again off again admission by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam about whether it is him in that controversial yearbook picture. When the photo of a man in blackface standing next to a man in a KKK robe first surfaced, Northam apologized for it, saying that he was sorry for “the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.”

Then on Saturday, Northam stepped back from that statement and said that after studying the picture more closely, that wasn’t him. He went on to say that he had worn blackface in the past but it was part of a costume to compete in a Michael Jackson contest. Never mind that wearing blackface would not have made Northam look anything like Michael Jackson.

Ignorance Shines Through Virginia Governor’s Blackface Apology by James Carr

What I find most disturbing about this, beyond the lying and double-speak, is the fact that Northam really expects people to believe that he could forget posing in blackface in the first place. That happened in 1984 for goodness sakes, at a time when awareness of sensitivities and sensibilities was on the rise. It wasn’t back in the 50s when people were able to get away with such open displays of racism. And he was an intelligent, well-educated man, not some redneck deep in the hills of Appalachia.

Give us a break, Governor Northam.

In other news are the peace talks with the Taliban and government leaders in Afghanistan. The talks will take place in Moscow, starting tomorrow, bringing together Afgan leaders and former president Hamid Karzai. The U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been holding separate negotiations with the Taliban since September.

Since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Washington has spent more than $1 trillion on the war in Afghanistan. And for what? So now the Taliban have taken over the entire country and continue to inflict pain and suffering on the people through terrorist attacks.

Just to keep some facts clear, the Taliban and al Qaeda are not the same. Al Qaeda is a global terrorist movement with the United States (including the American homeland) as a prominent, if not the primary, target. The Taliban is a Pashtun political movement with a focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan’s largely Pashtun border-region.

Al Qaeda, under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, was responsible for the attack on 9/11, and two weeks after the military response of Operation Enduring Freedom started in October,  President Bush rejected an offer by the Taliban to turn bin Laden over if the U.S. would cease bombing in Afghanistan.

At that point, the Taliban was defeated in Afghanistan, and the U.S. could have negotiated from a position of power. Because that offer was rejected, the war continued and the Taliban eventually gained power in the country.

Here is a LINK for more details about the timeline of the war since the U.S. involvement. Quite an interesting read, especially for those of us who only recall fragments of news stories revolving around that war, as well as the beginning of the war in Iraq that diverted attention away from Afghanistan.

On a brighter note. Here is a cute joke that a friend sent me:

One day, the Lord called to Adam in the Garden of Eden and said, “It is time for you and Eve to begin the process of populating the earth so I want you to kiss her.”

Adam answered, “Yes Lord, but what is a kiss?”

So the Lord gave a brief description to Adam who took Eve by the hand and took her to a nearby bush. A few minutes later, Adam emerged and said, “Thank you Lord, that was enjoyable!”

And the Lord replied, “Yes Adam, I thought you might enjoy that and now I’d like you to caress Eve.”

And Adam said, “What is a caress?”

So the Lord again gave Adam a brief description and Adam went behind the bush with Eve. Quite a few minutes later, Adam returned, smiling, and said, “Lord, that was even better than the kiss.”

The Lord said, “You’ve done well, Adam. And now I want you to make love to Eve.”

Adam asked, “What is ‘make love’ Lord?”‘

So the Lord again gave Adam directions and Adam went again to Eve behind the bush, but this time he reappeared in two seconds.

Adam said, “Lord, what is a headache?”

Bada Bing! That’s all for me for today, folks. I do hope your week starts off on a good note. Be safe. Be happy.

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Friday’s Odds And Ends

Posted by mcm0704 on February 1, 2019 |

These pretty yellow flowers have survived the past few weeks of intermittent freezing temperatures here in East Texas, and I enjoy the bright splash of color against the gray of the tree. I also admire their resilience.

After hearing how cold it is in some northern states, I will never complain about the cold here in Texas again. Imagine – real temperatures of 20 to 30 below zero, with winds driving the temps to record lows. Even though the postal service motto is:  Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, I am glad that delivery service is suspended in many areas that are experiencing this extreme cold.

While some skeptics of global warming may see this deep freeze as a sign that there is no global warming, consider the facts about the Polar Vortex that is responsible for the cold wave. This is from The Weather ChannelThe phenomenon is produced by a sudden blast of warm air in the Arctic caused earlier this month when the normally super chilly air temperatures 20 miles above the North Pole rapidly rose by about 70C, thanks to air flowing in from the south. It is called “sudden stratospheric warming”.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Every now and then I read a terrific blog, Brain Pickings by Maria Popova. It is filled with interesting commentary about all kinds of subjects, and this week she focused on aging, citing specifically the works of Grace Paley that speak about growing older in the loveliest of ways.

Maria’s blog post has numerous links to works by Paley, as well as some wonderful quotes that speak about aging in thoughtful and humorous ways, such as Paley’s reaction when some neighborhood boys refer to her as “the old lady.”

From the collection of poems and stories by Paley and Robert Nichols titled Here and Somewhere Else comes this wonderful story:

My father had decided to teach me how to grow old. I said O.K. My children didn’t think it was such a great idea. If I knew how, they thought, I might do so too easily. No, no, I said, it’s for later, years from now. And besides, if I get it right it might be helpful to you kids in time to come.

They said, Really?

My father wanted to begin as soon as possible.

Please sit down, he said. Be patient. The main thing is this — when you get up in the morning you must take your heart in your two hands. You must do this every morning.

That’s a metaphor, right?

Metaphor? No, no, you can do this. In the morning, do a few little exercises for the joints, not too much. Then put your hands like a cup over and under the heart. Under the breast. He said tactfully. It’s probably easier for a man. Then talk softly, don’t yell. Under your ribs, push a little. When you wake up, you must do this massage. I mean pat, stroke a little, don’t be ashamed. Very likely no one will be watching. Then you must talk to your heart.

Talk? What?

Say anything, but be respectful. Say — maybe say, Heart, little heart, beat softly but never forget your job, the blood. You can whisper also, Remember, remember.

How fascinating is the thought of talking to a part of your body. I have never done it, but I knew a girl who talked to the tumor in her brain. She called it Herman and told Herman to go away. The tumor never did completely, but it lay dormant for five years after the doctors had given her only weeks or months to live.

Maybe there is something to this idea of talking to members of our body. What do you think?

WRITING WISDOM

The following is a quote from the novel The Curiosities by Susan Gloss. I received an advance review copy in exchange for a review, and in my reading today I came across this interesting thought:

People didn’t ask novelists to paint pictures of what their books were about, so Paige wondered why so many people – professors, art bloggers, and friends – expected her to be able to translate her artwork into language.
While Paige is a fictional character in a story, perhaps this is true for many visual artists.
That’s all for me folks. I don’t have much planned for the weekend, except continuing with large doses of vitamin C to ward off a cold that is trying to take over my body. What about you? Do you have exciting plans? Whatever they are, be safe, be happy. See you on Monday.

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Word of the Day

Posted by mcm0704 on January 30, 2019 |

The government is up and running. tRump has accepted Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to give the State of the Union Address on February 5. I finally worked through a major plot tangle in my current WIP.

All is well with the world. 

WIP, for all you non-writers out there, means work in progress, and I have been trying to finish the third book in the Seasons Mystery Series. The book was put on hold a number of years ago when my life started being battered with grief and health issues, and I decided that I would finish it this year come hell or, you know, flooding.

Any time you start work on a project that has lain dormant for so long, the first thing to do is to read through what has already been written. I did that at the first part of this month, and that’s when I found the tangle. I knew who had been killed. I had a number of suspects. But I had no clear line to which suspect was the actual killer. Just a jumble of notes and possibilities that looked something like that snarl of yarn. 

If I didn’t untangle the mess, I wouldn’t have an ending to the book, so you will understand my glee at the recent “aha” moment that made it all clear.

So, I invite you to join me in a glass of bubbly to celebrate. By the sound of the nonsense, er, fun, the guys at the Mule Barn Truck Stop are having, I suspect there is more than coffee in their coffee. But who am I to judge? I’m having champagne at nine in the morning. Enjoy this offering from humorist, Slim Randles.

“I can’t stand winter,” said Herb Collins, who had dropped in at the Mule Barn’s philosophy counter for a quick cup. “There’s nothing to do.”

“Get out and enjoy it,” suggested Doc. “Go skiing. Go ice fishing. Build a snowman. Do something. Then you’ll feel better.”

“I don’t think your advice will take,” said Dud. “Herb seems to be intransigent on this one.”

We all looked at Dud.

“You see, he said he couldn’t stand winter,” Dud continued, “which shows he has a proclivity for intransigence on that particular subject.”

We looked at him some more.

“If he were to take up a winter hobby,” he continued, “he could stop being intransigent and enjoy things more.”

Even Herb was staring at him now.

“I usually,” said Herb, “enjoy a proclivity in that direction, but winter is pretty boring, so maybe I really should be intransigent on this point.”

“Well Herb,” said Dud, “even though you might have a proclivity this season for being intransigent on your attitude about winter, you could kinda ease up and consider a hobby. That way you’d be showing a proclivity for transigence.”

“Transigence?” said Doc. “I thought those were people who lived under bridges. You might want to look that one up, Dud.”

Dud blushed as we laughed.

“Say Dud?” said Steve, the cowboy. “Wasn’t proclivity last month’s word?”

“Yes,” said Dud, “and I believe I’ve used it a couple of dozen times already.”

“And now this month’s word is intransigence, right?”

Dud nodded.

“Well then,” said Doc, “it looks like you are going to have a proclivity for saying intransigence this month. That’s a veritable plethora of proclivity my friend.”

Dud pulled out a pencil and grabbed a napkin.

“How do you spell it, Doc?”

“Spell what?”

“Plethora.”

We just groaned. Sometimes education can be ugly.

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Brought to you by The Fly Fisherman’s Bucket List, available at LPDPress.com

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Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at www.slimrandles.com, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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2

Loving The Snow

Posted by mcm0704 on January 28, 2019 |

It’s been pretty cold around the country, even here in Texas, so let’s share a hot cup of cocoa to warm us up. Not the same one, of course. Since this is a virtual cup, it can replicate. Enjoy…

The other day, a friend sent me a wonderful story about appreciating snow days – those unplanned days when school is closed because of a heavy snowfall. Reading the story, prompted memories of my own. I thought about those gifts of snow days when my kids were young, and how excited we were to wake up to that magical transformation of the landscape, eager to get outside to play.

I grew up in Michigan, where we had plenty of snow every winter, and I never tired of snowball fights, building snow-people and sledding or skating. I didn’t even mind shoveling our sidewalk, which was one of my winter jobs, and I always earned a few bucks from neighbors, clearing their walks and driveways. And I will admit I missed the snow when we moved south.

Here in Texas snow is a rarity – only falling sometimes and in some places – so when we get more than a dusting of the white stuff, things close down: Schools and even some businesses. It’s like an unplanned holiday, and we used to enjoy it to the hilt, donning layers of clothes to stay reasonably dry and warm for a few hours of fun, then tumbling back into the house for soup and hot chocolate.

I still have the old round pizza pan my kids used as a sled. They would take turns going down the “hill” of our driveway, while one kid watched the street checking for cars. Of course, there weren’t many cars to watch for as not many folks ventured out to drive on the ice and snow, which was probably a good thing since most native Texans didn’t know how to handle the slick roads.

Sharing the snow days in Texas with my kids, always brought back the joy of being a kid myself, playing out in the snow until my fingers were blue and I couldn’t feel my feet anymore.

What about you? Do you have fond memories of playing in the snow. Would you still go out to play?

The following joke was sent to me by the same friend who shared the snow-day story. Being Catholic, I couldn’t resist posting it here. (And I do hope my friend continues to send things that prompt a blog post.)

Catholic shampoo

Two nuns were shopping at a 7-11 store As they passed by the beer cooler, one nun said to the other, “Wouldn’t a nice cool beer or two taste wonderful on a hot summer evening?”

The second nun answered, “Indeed it would, sister, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable buying beer. I’m certain it would cause a scene at the checkout stand.”

“I can handle that without a problem,” the other nun replied, and she picked up a six-pack and headed for the checkout.

The cashier had a surprised look on his face when the two nuns approached with a six-pack of beer. “We use beer for washing our hair,” the nun said. “Back at our nunnery, we call it a catholic shampoo.”

Without blinking an eye, the cashier reached under the counter, pulled out a package of pretzel sticks, and placed them in the bag with the beer.

He then looked at the nun, smiled, and said, “The curlers are on the house.”

That’s all for me, folks. I hope your week is a good one. Be safe. Be happy.

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