It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing

2

Mid-Week Humor to Brighten our Lives

Posted by mcm0704 on April 1, 2020 |

Slim Randles is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with an entertaining story about rain and storms. When was the last time you said “thank you” for the rain?

Before I turn the blog over to Slim, however, I do want to take a moment to remember my father who died on April 1, 2010. I’ll never forget the phone call from my sister and the first thing she said, “Maryann, this is no April Fool’s joke.” What a bittersweet memory. 

R.I.P. Popso.

Since these are trying times for body and soul, perhaps a bit of chocolate is in order. I’m willing to share. Enjoy…

Photo by Michele Blackwell on Unsplash

It began as a whispered threat, this latest storm of ours. There was something in the air, a cleansing tonic, a murmur of sharpness.

The trees on the hills looked different, then, seeming to stand out in sharper focus, in cleaner profile. It was the magical paintbrush of a gentle sun brushing the front of them, against an ominous, creeping black background. And the blackness grew higher yet, until the western sky was a massive wall of black and swirling gray.

People stood outside and looked, and tried to find a weather report on the radio, and called in the children from play, and made sure the windows were rolled up in the cars, and let the dogs come in. In the fields, the cattle and horses trotted around, snorting softly as the dark sky swallowed our world.

And then it came, gently at first as a reminder to get in the house, then the wind brought buckets of rain, drenching the deep grass and slashing at our homes. Cars in town slowed to a crawl under the onslaught. People parked and then dashed to the nearest building, wondering as they did, just what was so important that they had to be out this afternoon.

We flinched with every flash of lightning, every smashing thunder. In the cafés, patrons looked out at the parking lots now turned into waterfalls and nodded as though in wisdom.

“Think it’ll rain?”

“If it don’t it’ll miss a good chance.”

We listened for something else, too, hoping it wouldn’t come. As the storm shut us down to tiny worlds inside, we kept one ear cocked for the tornado siren. Nothing.

Good.

The storm lasted for two rinses down at the Curl Up ‘N Dye beauty parlor, through a light trim at Kelley’s Barber Shop, and half a chicken-fried steak at the Mule Barn truck stop. Then it was over except for the gutters running like trout streams, the new sun contrasting with the blackness of the rest of the sky, and the dripping of our world.

We won’t have to water the lawn today.

Life is good.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brought to you by Ol’ Jimmy Dollar, Slim’s children’s book about a happy hound-dog man and his “kids.” See it at riograndebooks.com.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In addition to hosting a radio show, Slim Randles writes the nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also 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 on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us, as well as the 4 million readers of the newspapers where his columns appear.

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Corona Virus Information

Posted by mcm0704 on March 30, 2020 |

Good Monday Morning. I hope everyone is staying well and safe. This picture has nothing to do with the content of today’s post, I just thought it might bring a smile. 

In the spirit of wild cats everywhere, and many domestic ones, my Harry kitty brought me his latest kill and put it on the kitchen table. I guess he thought I needed some extra protein for breakfast.

This is actually a dog toy that Harry has claimed for himself.

The other day a friend sent me this information from John Hopkins University. It was compiled by an Assistant Professor in infectious diseases at  the university. I thought this was well worth sharing here.  Things are getting a lot more scary as the number of cases of the nasty COVID-19 increases daily. We need to do what we can to stay safe.

* The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code. (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells.

* Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own. The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.

* The virus is very fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat. That is why any soap or detergent is the best remedy, because the foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam).

By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.

* HEAT melts fat; this is why it is so good to use water above 25 degrees Celsius for washing hands, clothes and everything. In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful.

* Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% DISSOLVES ANY FAT, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.

* Any mix with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaks it down from the inside.

* NO BACTERICIDE OR ANTIBIOTIC HELPS. The virus is not a living organism like bacteria; antibodies cannot kill what is not alive.

* NEVER shake used or unused clothing, sheets or cloth. While the virus is glued to a porous surface, it is very inert and disintegrates only:

  • between 3 hours (fabric and porous)
  • 4 hours (copper and wood)
  • 24 hours (cardboard),- 42 hours (metal)
  • 72 hours (plastic).

But if you shake fabric, or use a feather duster, the virus molecules float in the air for up to 3 hours and can lodge in your nose.

* The virus molecules remain very stable in external cold, or artificial as air conditioners in houses and cars.

They also need moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness. Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.

* UV LIGHT on any object that may contain the virus breaks down the virus protein. For example, to disinfect and reuse a mask is okay. Be careful, it also breaks down collagen (which is protein) in the skin.

* The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.

* Vinegar is NOT useful because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.

* NO SPIRITS, NOR VODKA, HELP. The strongest vodka is 40% alcohol, and you need 65%. LISTERINE, however works. It is 65% alcohol.

* The more confined the space, the more concentration of the virus there can be. The more open or naturally ventilated, the less.

* You have to wash your hands before and after touching your nose, eyes, and mouth. Also wash after touching food, locks, knobs, switches, remote control, cell phone, watches, computers, desks, TV, etc. And when using the bathroom.

* You have to MOISTERIZE DRY HANDS because of so much washing because the virus molecules can hide in the micro cracks. The thicker the moisturizer, the better.

* Also keep your NAILS SHORT so that the virus does not hide there.

John Hopkins also has information on the development of a vaccine.

If you want a more in-depth understanding of the COVID 19 virus, check out this free online course offered by John Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins will offer a free online course about the coronavirus pandemic and how it can be combated through epidemiology. Offered publicly on the e-learning platform Coursera, the five-hour course is now open for enrollment and runs March 31 through April 14.

This free, beginner-level course is designed for those who want a better understanding of how epidemiologists identify and measure infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19. The course aims to explore the science behind pressing questions such as how many people have been infected, how infections are identified and measured, how infectious is the virus, and what can be done to combat it.

The course is led by three epidemiologists from the Bloomberg School of Public Health

That’s all from me for today, folks. Wherever you are, I hope you can stay well and healthy. And let’s not allow this pandemic to crush our spirits. I know it may be hard sometimes. It certainly has been for so many of us, but we are strong.

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Science, Recycling, and Friday Funnies

Posted by mcm0704 on March 27, 2020 |

In the spirit of social distancing, I’m sending out a virtual hug to everyone, via this cute image a friend of mine sent. I love it.

Before sharing links with the latest stats on the spread of nasty corona virus, I want to share this from The Daily Podcast. On this morning’s episode Carl Zimmer, science reporter and author of the “Matter” column for The New York Times, answered questions from children across the country, as well as a few from Michael Babarro, host of The Daily Podcast.

I found the answers fascinating and informative, learning a lot I didn’t know about how viruses start and spread, how our bodies react, and the fact that all living things can be attacked by a virus, including a mushroom.

Another interesting bit of information was about how our immune systems work. Fevers, aches, and coughs are part of the fight against the virus. I knew that fevers are a sign our bodies have antibodies girding their loins and getting into the fray, but I didn’t know it is the same for aches associated with the flu.

So let’s hear it for those little antibodies!!

Now, here’s a link to the latest stats on the pandemic.

Corona Virus Update – The United States now has the most cases of all the countries of the world with 92,206. (Updated 3/27/2020) New York has 44,635 of those cases with almost 6,000 new cases in one day.

Now I’d like to share a link to a terrific article about how individuals can help create a sustainable future. Here’s a short quote from the article, which I encourage you to read in it’s entirety.

If you ask people why they think we need to become more environmentally friendly as a society, you’ll hear a variety of answers. Some want to stop the mass extinction of hundreds of endangered species. Others want to clean the oceans of the millions of tons of plastic.

But in a recent survey by sustainable earth, the number one reason given for changing our ways was to make sure that future generations had just that – a future.

Now, you may ask what difference can we make as individuals? And there are indeed just 20 firms responsible for a third of all carbon emissions today. But the choices we make as individuals in our day to day life do play a part in forging a sustainable future.

Since I’m a huge advocate for recycling, cleaning up the environment, and ensuring a place to live for generations to come, it’s a pleasure for me to share this article. I know many of my readers here are also very conscious of environmental issues and look for ideas for being part of the solution.

This article lists eco-friendly products we can all use, and that list is extensive, going far beyond using your own shopping bags. Check it out.

It’s been a while since I’ve done Friday Funnies, and we can all use some smiles and laughter right now. Enjoy these offerings from The Laugh Factory.

Son: “Dad, when will I be old enough so I don’t have to ask mom for her permission to go out?”

Dad: “Son, even I haven’t grown old enough to go out without her permission!”

A husband and wife have four boys. The odd part of it is that the older three have red hair, light skin, and are tall, while the youngest son has black hair, dark eyes, and is short. The father eventually takes ill and is lying on his deathbed when he turns to his wife and says, “Honey, before I die, be completely honest with me. Is our youngest son my child?”

The wife replies, “I swear on everything that’s holy that he is your son.”

With that, the husband passes away. The wife then mutters, “Thank God he didn’t ask about the other three.”

A mom and a son come home from the grocery store. The boy immediately empties out a box of animal crackers and the mom asks him why. The boy says, “You should not eat it if the seal is broken, so I’m looking for the seal.”

Three brothers wanted to give their blind mom a birthday gift. The first got her a big beautiful house. The second got her a brand new luxury vehicle with a driver. The third got her a talking parrot to keep her company. When they all got together, they wanted to know which gift she liked best. She said they were all great but she thanked her third son because she liked the chicken dinner best.

Poor parrot, but that last one did make me laugh. Let me know which joke you like, and do stay safe and healthy and happy.

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An Interview With a Fictional Character

Posted by mcm0704 on March 25, 2020 |

A Long Way Home
Myra Hargrave McIlvain

Myra interviews Meredith Haggerty, the protagonist in this wonderful story I reviewed here last Sunday.

BLURB: After crippling her husband in an auto crash, Meredith Haggerty endures years of his abuse while harboring a plan to escape when she can make it look as if she died. She grasps her chance at freedom on 9/11 when she survives the fall of the North Tower. Heading to a new life in Mexico, her seat-mate on the bus is Father Jacque Richelieu who convinces her to teach English at his community center on the Texas Rio Grande. She finds a home, but she and the priest discover that they have not found themselves.

BUY LINK

Since it’s starting to warm up here, and certainly in south Texas where Meredith is, let’s have some sweet tea. Help yourself, and enjoy.

Iced mint tea


Myra: Why did you believe that the only way you could escape your abusive husband was to find a time when it would look like you had died? Why didn’t you just divorce the guy?

Meredith: I struggled with that. It sounds like the coward’s way out, and it may have been. I knew if I divorced him, he would be living on disability, which is hardly enough to survive. And I knew that he would constantly harass me on the phone.

Myra: So, you came up with the idea of a big life insurance policy on yourself?

Meredith: No, my husband insisted I take out the insurance. That’s when I began thinking that he’d be perfectly happy to lose me if he had plenty of money.

Myra: You were the main breadwinner?

Meredith: Yes, from the beginning of our marriage, I had a great job.

Myra: You couldn’t have known that the horrors of 9/11 and all that loss of life would give you the chance to get away?

Meredith: Goodness, no. I was working there when the first bombing happened back in ’93. I really felt safe, but somehow, I believed that something would happen and give me a chance.

Myra: So, you just continued stuffing hundred-dollar bills in your satchel and waiting for your chance?

Meredith: I guess it sounds insane, but that feeling of always being prepared, of believing that someday I’d get to escape is what kept me sane.

Myra: You didn’t have any family, but you certainly had good friends. How could you just erase all those people? Let them grieve over your death?

Meredith: I am a loner by nature, which means I didn’t have a lot of close friends. Jerry, my physician and his wife were my dearest friends––more like family. They knew about my life. Jerry thought I was crazy not to divorce Harvey.

Myra: Then why didn’t you at least let them know you were alive?

Meredith: It felt like an added wrong for me to involve them in my escape. After all, I was committing insurance fraud. If they knew about, they would be complicit. I believed I had to make a clean break.

Myra: Speaking of the break, you had it so well-planned that you knew the bus schedules out of town.

Meredith: From the beginning, I’d planned to go to Mexico. I’m fluent in several languages, but Mexico was the closest and still far enough away that I thought I would be well-hidden.

Myra: Did you major in languages in college?

Meredith: I’m a linguist, but I lived all over the world as I grew up. My mom and I moved with my dad who was with the military.

Myra: I want to talk about the priest/physician, Jacque Richelieu, whom you met on the bus as you headed to Mexico.

Meredith: I love talking about Rich.

Myra: What made you trust him? Why would you ever agree to stop at a community center on the Texas side of the Rio Grande and teach English?

Meredith: I didn’t intend to have anything to do with him. If you remember, I tried to find another seat, away from him.

Myra: Yes, but you agreed to give it a try. Sight unseen, you climbed off the bus and went with him to that center that catered to migrant workers and illegals who cross the border. Were you always so quick to follow a man? Was it because he was a priest?

Meredith: That bothered me too. My dad was very controlling. And I guess it’s pretty clear that my husband Harvey was also controlling. I got away from my dad when he died; I ran away from Harvey. Having courage was one of the things I had to work on.

Myra: I agree, but honestly, I think you handled it all pretty well.

Meredith: Thanks, I needed that!

Myra Hargrave McIlvain is a teller of Texas tales. Whether she is sharing the stories in her books, her lectures, or her blog, she aims to make the Texas story alive. She has freelanced as a writer of Texas historical markers, written articles for newspapers all over the country, and for magazines such as Texas Highways.

McIlvain has written six nonfiction books about famous and infamous Texas sites and characters. Her most recent, Texas Tales, Stories that Shaped a Landscape and a People, is a collection of 113 of her favorite Texas history blog posts. Her historical fiction includes Stein House and The Doctor’s Wife, both of which chronicle the development of the thriving German seaport of Indianola on the Texas coast. The characters in those award-winning books have recently returned in Waters Plantation an award-winning sequel that opens in 1875 post Reconstruction Washington County. A Long Way Home is McIlvain’s eleventh book. Visit her BLOG meet her on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and GOODREADS

 Find all her books on her AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

That’s all from me for today, folks. Do stay safe and healthy in these scary times.

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Book Review – A Long Way Home by Myra Hargrave McIlvain

Posted by mcm0704 on March 22, 2020 |

A Long Way Home
Myra Hargrave McIlvain
File Size: 5351 KB
Print Length: 208 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: White Bird Publications, LLC (February 18, 2020)
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B083QNW1ST

BLURB: After crippling her husband in an auto crash, Meredith Haggerty endures years of his abuse while harboring a plan to escape when she can make it look as if she died. She grasps her chance at freedom on 9/11 when she survives the fall of the North Tower. Heading to a new life in Mexico, her seat-mate on the bus is Father Jacque Richelieu who convinces her to teach English at his community center on the Texas Rio Grande. She finds a home, but she and the priest discover that they have not found themselves.

This was an interesting look at the aftermath of 9/11 from the point of view of someone who escaped one of the towers. Meredith, the central character, was very well drawn in this story, and her emotional reaction to having survived when so many of her coworkers did not is strong and real in the book. The internal tension she felt between relief at being able to escape from her abusive husband and guilt over how she did it was also very believable. I liked her as a character right away.

While Meredith is planning to go on to Mexico when she flees New York City, that plan is changed when she decides to stop in the Rio Grande Valley and work in the community center headed up by Father Rich. I especially liked the cast of characters who were part of that community center – the workers and the children and it was a interesting look at that kind of life in that part of Texas.

The story also touches on the dangers immigrants face trying to come to the United States from Mexico, and also reveals on a personal level what will compel a mother to send her son across the river.

For the most part everything works well in this book; the plotting, the characters, and the pacing. The only thing that caught me up a little bit was how quickly Father Rich and Meredith entered into the physical part of a relationship once he decided to leave the priesthood. For me, it would have been more believable had they stepped into that intimacy a little more tentatively, but then this is a romance novel on some levels and people who read purely for the romance element expect the physical part of the relationship to be prominent in the story.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. There was enough humor to make me smile now and then, as well as wonderful descriptions including this when Meredith is thinking about her father’s swift death from cancer, “Then he was gone, his body whisked away like dust on fine furniture.”

In the past I’ve read McIlvan’s Waters Plantation and reviewed it here, and I must say that I enjoyed this more contemporary story just as much.

BUY LINK

 

 


Myra Hargrave McIlvain is a teller of Texas tales. Whether she is sharing the stories in her books, her lectures, or her blog, she aims to make the Texas story alive. She has freelanced as a writer of Texas historical markers, written articles for newspapers all over the country, and for magazines such as Texas Highways.

McIlvain has written six nonfiction books about famous and infamous Texas sites and characters. Her most recent, Texas Tales, Stories that Shaped a Landscape and a People, is a collection of 113 of her favorite Texas history blog posts. Her historical fiction includes Stein House and The Doctor’s Wife, both of which chronicle the development of the thriving German seaport of Indianola on the Texas coast. The characters in those award-winning books have recently returned in Waters Plantation an award-winning sequel that opens in 1875 post Reconstruction Washington County. A Long Way Home is McIlvain’s eleventh book. Visit her BLOG meet her on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and GOODREADS

 Find all her books on her AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Do come back on Wednesday when Myra will be my guest with a fun interview with Meredeth. In the meantime, be happy. Be safe. Be healthy. 

 

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2

#Humor From Slim Randles

Posted by mcm0704 on March 18, 2020 |

Saw this sign light up every night from my 12th. floor window across the street. The words lit up first, then the red outline of the bull, and finally the white markings.

I just returned from North Carolina where I attended my granddaughter’s wedding. (By the picture above, you can probably guess what city we were in.) The festivities were all wonderful, but unfortunately, the plane ride stirred up my trigeminal neuralgia big time, and I wasn’t able to participate to the level that I would have liked. That meant no dancing at the reception. 🙁

The plane ride home was just as painful and has left residual discomfort that will  limit my activity for a some time. So, while I’m sitting in the dark and quiet, I’ll let Slim Randles entertain you for the next few days.

Before turning the blog over to Slim, I do want to say that I hope that everyone is managing to avoid that nasty corona virus. This is certainly a scary time for us, and the only thing we can do is follow the guidelines for staying safe. I’m going to be hunkered down here at home for the next few weeks, and I have lots of hand sanitizer for when I do have to go out.

Now here’s Slim with a post that ran here first in July 2011. 

When Harley Jacobsen came into Doc’s office the other day for his physical – you know, the one his wife, Gladys, insists on from time to time – it was a treat for Doc.

Harley is one of Doc’s favorite people. Harley is a farmer. Not a young farmer, but a solid farmer. A 24/7 farmer. It is said in coffee-drinking circles – and we have several here – that ol’ Harley can make hair grow on a bald head and wheat grow on rocks.

When he’d been thumped and bumped and listened to and pumped up and partially drained, Harley asked Doc for the verdict.

“Not bad at all for someone your age, Harley,” Doc said, grinning. “But you look tired. My advice is to take some time off and go fishing or take Gladys to the beach. Something fun. Relaxing.”

“Can’t right now, Doc,” Harley said. “Plowing summer fallow.”

“Well, how about later on?”

“There’s harvest you know, and the trees will have to be pruned before winter, and then the winter wheat will go in. Have to overhaul the wheel tractor this winter and add on to the equipment shed, and then it’ll be time to plant.”

“Harley, I want to see you get some rest,” Doc said. “You need two weeks with nothing to do. Get someone to help with the farm and go do something fun.”

“For two weeks?” Harley asked.

“Two full weeks, Harley.”

“Doc, I just can’t do the job in two weeks. Took 60 years of farming to get this tired.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brought to you by Ol’ Jimmy Dollar, Slim’s children’s book about a happy hound-dog man and his “kids.” See it at riograndebooks.com.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In addition to hosting a radio show, Slim Randles writes the nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also 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 on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us, as well as the 4 million readers of the newspapers where his columns appear.

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0

#Fridayreads – Excerpt from Desperate Season

Posted by mcm0704 on March 13, 2020 |

I’m continuing with scenes from the third book in the Seasons Mystery Series, Desperate Season. I’m still working on the final read-through and edit before submitting it for publication.

I hope you enjoy reading these excerpts, and I’d love any feedback you are willing to give. If you’d like to get the first two books in the series, Open Season and Stalking Season, they are available for many reading devices from Draft2Digital.

Sarah pulled into the small parking area next to the soccer fields. The minute McGregor had told her about the kid who had been shot, she knew she was not going to like this. Not that she liked any murder victim, but kids were the worst. Accident, disease, or murder. Didn’t make a difference. Kids just shouldn’t die. Period. They should live the full extent of years that took them to gray hair and wrinkles and lots of grand-kids.

A few hundred feet from the parking area, Angel stood next to Walt, the medical examiner, who was hunched over a bundle on the ground. Sarah didn’t want to go look at what was in that bundle, so she glanced over to where two uniformed officers were talking to a small cluster of people. She moved toward them, and noted one of the officers was Doug Grantham. Good guy who could have made detective years ago, but he liked being a beat cop. And Sarah liked it any time their paths crossed. He was a more seasoned version of Rusty, and she always appreciated working with someone that good at the job.

“What do we have Doug?”

“Girl was shot.” He made a vague gesture in the direction of Angel and Walt. “This guy here,” he nodded to a young black man wearing shorts, a red tee-shirt and running shoes, “found her while he was jogging this morning.”

Sarah looked at the witness. “Your name, sir?”

“Jeremy. Jeremy Wilson.”

“Did you see anybody? Hear any gunshots?”

“No, ma’am. There was nobody else around when I found her. And I almost didn’t. This isn’t my usual route to run, but I decided to cut through the park this morning.”

Sarah glanced at the small crowd of gawkers that had gathered, and Doug seemed to anticipate her question. He was good at that. “They came when we pulled up with sirens and lights.”

Sarah nodded, then turned back to the young man. “Did you touch the body, Jeremy?”

He swallowed hard, then offered a slight grimace. “I didn’t want to. And I knew I shouldn’t. But, well, I’m pre-med. Thought maybe I should make sure she was… you know… dead.”

As much trouble as he was having, Sarah wondered if Jeremy might reconsider his college major after this morning. But then, finding a little girl dead in a park is much different from treating some old man’s gastritis.

“Any ETA on the crime scene team?” Sarah asked Doug.

“Any minute.”

“Okay.” She turned to Jeremy. “You need to stay here until the techs can get your prints.”

Suddenly there was an edge of hostility in his stance and his expression changed from friendly to wary. “What for?”

At first Sarah wondered why the abrupt change. What did he have to hide? Then she stilled the impulse to ask him, remembering what Angel had told her about how young black men are taught from the cradle on up to be wary of the police. She wished it didn’t have to be that way, but there it was. It wasn’t going away any time soon, as Sarah could well attest to after her experiences with racism on both sides of the coin. She spoke in a well-modulated tone, “If we get any prints from the area, we need to eliminate yours.”

Jeremy gave a slight nod, and Sarah watched his shoulders slowly relax. “This officer will get you squared away with one of our techs and get your contact information. Then you can go.”

That was met with another nod, and Sarah started to move away. “Later, Doug.”
He acknowledged with a wave just as the CSU van arrived.

Sarah walked over to Angel and Walt, who had moved a few feet away from the body. A girl’s bicycle lay on its side where it must have fallen when the girl was shot. She still had a backpack strapped to her back and a helmet on her head. The helmet was a deep red, matching the blood that had seeped into the girl’s white tee-shirt. The ground, where the girl’s head rested was dark and damp.

More blood.

“What a day,” Sarah said as she stepped up to Angel.

“McGregor told me about the break in at your place. You okay?”

“Yeah. Shit happens. The only thing they took was my TV.”

Sarah could joke about it, but part of her still seethed when she thought about some stranger in her apartment. Some stranger with felony on his mind.

That’s all for me folks. I do hope you have a great weekend ahead of you. I’ll be doing some major celebrating with family. Whatever you have planned, be safe. Be happy.

 

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A Favorite Fishing Hole

Posted by mcm0704 on March 11, 2020 |

Once again I welcome Slim Randles as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. The guys from the Mule-Barn Truck Stop are out at their favorite fishing hole. It’s getting to be that time of the year again for casting a line out at the lake to see what you can catch.

Many of the columns Slim shares here, and in hundreds of newspapers across the county, have been compiled into his book:  Home Country; Drama Dreams and Laughter from America’s Heartland,.  This is a wonderful book that is a joy to keep on the coffee table to read and read again. The following column was originally posted in May 2009. Enjoy….

It was Doc who first noticed Dud’s strange behavior.

I was too busy trying to put an elk-hair caddis fly on a size 16 just beyond that big smooth rock on Lewis Creek. I know there’s a big rainbow trout in that hole there, you see, and there is nothing more important, on a May morning like this one, than enticing that big rascal into delivering himself to my waiting hands.

But Doc noticed that Dud had laid his fly rod down in the bushes and was doing strange things with his hands. Finally, Doc got my attention, pointed to Dud, and we both stopped fishing and walked over to see what our long-time pal was up to.

Dud would look around in the air, then make a one-handed grab at the air. After several grabs, he’d take two fingers of his other hand, put them in his clenched fist, and wiggle around. Then he’d smile and open his fist and look in the air again. Doc and I looked silently at each other, wondering how long it would take from our day of fishing to get Dud delivered to the nervous ward in the city.

“Dud,” said Doc, “how’s the fishing?”

“Huh? Oh hi. Not fishing right now, Doc. Experimenting.”

“Experimenting?” I said. Of course, I said this automatically, forgetting for a moment how time consuming it could be to start Dud explaining things of a scientific nature.

“Natural selection,” Dud said, proudly. “Survival of the fittest. Yes, I decided to spend my morning in Darwinian pursuits, making the world a safer place for mankind.”

Doc looked at me. “He’s talking like that again,” he said.

“Well, Doc,” said Dud, “you, of all people, should be able to appreciate what I’m doing. After all, you’re a man of science and a healer. I’m going to rid the world of dangerous diseases. Observe.”

Then Dud made another grab at the air, and this time we could see he was snatching a mosquito out of the air. Again he used his other hand to do something to the mosquito, and then he released it.

“I’m pulling out their drillers,” Dud said. “I figgered if I pull out enough drillers, then sooner or later two drillerless mosquitoes will get married and have pups and then we’ll have a family of drillerless mosquitoes here on Lewis Creek. Without drillers, they won’t be able to pass along yellow fever or malaria to fishermen.”

Doc looked at him in a strange way. “Dud, there’s never been anyone get malaria from these Lewis Creek mosquitoes.”

“See?” Dud said, brightly. “It’s already working.”

In addition to hosting a radio show, Slim Randles writes the nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also 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 on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us, as well as the 4 million readers of the newspapers where his columns appear.

I hope you enjoyed this offering from Slim. Please do let me know in a comment.

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8

Who Can be President?

Posted by mcm0704 on March 9, 2020 |

Today is a rant day. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t plan to. I just listened to one too many political podcasts and said, “Enough.”

So, I decided to write an open letter to the Federal Government, State Governments, the DNC and the GOP.

But before we get into the dismal stuff, I thought you might enjoy this picture of an Iris that bloomed along the fence in my front yard. This is a plant that somehow managed to survive while all the construction went on to build my house.

Hearty little flower!

Okay, now the letter.

Dear Sirs, Madams, or whoever might give a damn,

We need a complete overhaul of the election process.

It’s become increasingly clear, at least to this voter, that what we are doing now, and have been for too many years, has gotten totally out of hand.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of the months of campaigning that have seemed like years. Oh, wait, it has been years. Two exactly for the DNC & tRump started campaigning the day he took office.

I’m tired of being asked to take surveys to voice my opinion as to what candidate I might like to see in the Oval Office, and that survey is just a way to ask me to donate. I donate to campaigns. I support candidates. But I’d like to be able to give feedback without the response being tied to a donate button.

Which brings me to something else I’m tired of. The obscene amounts of money being spent, just on this year’s primaries alone. Certainly there’s a better way for the selection process to be handled.

There was a time, and I can remember this time well. I was just a child when I heard someone say that anybody could be president. It was believed that anybody, no matter their background or circumstances, could run for that highest office in our country. It made this poor white girl who’d been born on the Fourth of July and had a streak of patriotism a mile wide, believe.

Sadly, that is no longer true. Maybe it never really was. It’s only the people with money – the people with power – the people with the right connections who can succeed in the political arena. And unfortunately most of those people tend to be white men.

Perhaps it is long past the time to shorten the whole voting process. We don’t need primary races that start two years before the actual election. We don’t need people in government positions who have jobs to do, spend half or more of their time on re-election efforts.

Is there anybody out there who is studying political science who has an idea of how to fix what is wrong with the way we put a candidate in the White House, and others in Congress?

I sure hope so.

Okay, that’s the end of my rant for the day. And if you have ideas or suggestions, do leave a comment. Maybe somebody will take our ideas to heart and actually do something.

On another note, I do hope your week starts off well. Be safe. Be happy.

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0

Book Blitz – Bayou City Burning by D.B. Borton

Posted by mcm0704 on March 7, 2020 |

BAYOU CITY BURNING

Harry & Dizzy Lark, Book 1

by

D.B. BORTON

Mystery / Detective / Humor / Historical

Publisher: Boomerang Books

Date of Publication: May 30, 2019

Number of Pages: 390

Houston, 1961: comedy meets mystery and history. It’s hard to be hard-boiled when your biggest fan and worst critic is your twelve-year-old daughter, especially when she’s cracking your case for you and defending you from the bad guys, along with sidekicks human and feline.

Houston is still a cowboy backwater, but Texas politicians dream big. P.I. Harry Lark is out to save the city for President Kennedy’s moon mission. Dizzy Lark is out to save Harry.

Jani Brooks of Romance Reviews Today calls Bayou City Burning “a terrific mystery loaded with humor, lots of excitement, and fascinating, well written characters” and rates it “a Perfect 10 book.”

CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

 

Visit D.B. Borton’s website to read the Prologue, Chapter One, and Chapter Two of Bayou City Burning! 

Click to start reading now!

 

I reviewed this book on February 9th this year when the author sent me a copy of the book and requested a review. At the time, I didn’t know she was signing up for this blitz, but I’m happy to give the book another boost. (You can read my full review HERE)

This is the first of a new series by this author, and I love the idea of a father/daughter team of investigators – especially when the daughter is so young.

By the way, I think Dizzy upstaged Harry most of the time, but that’s generally true with a very smart, precocious 12-year old. I did enjoy the team of sleuths that Dizzy pulled together for the Lost and Found business. All of the girls were distinct as characters and fun to meet in the pages of Bayou City Burning.

The connection between what Dizzy and her friends were doing – trying to find information about the man who was supposedly killed in a horrible train wreck – and how that tied into what Harry was doing took a little time to develop. But the time was well spent, as the characters came alive and the story took on more depth.

One of the things I especially liked about the story was the fact that Dizzy and her father had equal roles in solving the overall mystery and bringing the cases to a close.

If you’re a fan of a good mystery with great characters and a lot of humor, this is the book for you.

 B. Borton is the author of two mystery series—the Cat Caliban series (Berkley, Hilliard and Harris) and the Gilda Liberty series (Fawcett)—as well as the recent novels Second Coming, Smoke, and Bayou City Burning(all from Boomerang Books). She is Professor Emeritus of English at Ohio Wesleyan University.

A native Texan, Borton became an ardent admirer of Nancy Drew at a young age. At the age of fourteen, she acquired her own blue roadster, trained on the freeways of Houston and the broad stretches of oil-endowed Texas highway, and began her travels. She also began a lifetime of political activism, working only for political candidates who lost. She left Texas at about the time everyone else arrived.

In graduate school, Borton converted a lifetime of passionate reading and late-night movie-watching into a doctorate in English. She discovered that people would pay her to discuss literature and writing, although not much. But because she found young people interesting and entertaining and challenging, she became a college teacher, and survived many generations of college students. Later, during a career crisis, she discovered that people would pay her to tell stories, although even less than they would pay her to discuss stories written by someone else.

Borton has lived in the Southwest and Midwest, and on the West Coast, where she has planted roses and collected three degrees in English without relinquishing her affection for the ways in which actual speakers constantly reinvent the language to meet their needs. In her spare time, she gardens, practices aikido, studies languages other than English, and, of course, watches movies and reads.

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