It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing

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Cooking For Everyone

Posted by mcm0704 on August 14, 2020 |

As always I appreciate my friend Slim Randles for sharing his columns with us, especially when it’s a day for a blog post and I have nothing. I mean no words. No issues to rant about, which may make some of you very happy.  🙂

Anyway, I’m going to let Slim entertain you while I try to find a few words for my new story. While there’s some momentum on that front, I want to keep it going.

Mrs. Forrest is serving fried chicken with gravy. Eons ago, this was one of my favorite suppers, and I once had a neighbor who made the best. I was always delighted when she invited us to share the bounty at her table. So, today I’m sharing Mrs. Forrest’s bounty with you. Grab a fork and enjoy…

Mrs. Forrest has always been a compulsive feeder. Before she retired, she was cooking for the Mule Barn truck stop’s customers, and she’s singularly responsible for about three flabby tons of avoirdupois on this nation’s truck drivers, and may have been marginally responsible, third-hand, for a cardiac event or two.

But now she’s retired, and a widow, and her kids all have kids and are scattered like a covey of quail. Local bachelors of a certain age know if they should just happen to be chatting with Mrs. Forrest on her front lawn along about supper time, there’s a dang-near dead certainty they’ll get a meal out of it.

And, through the magic of telepathic communication and the synchronistic wave lengths of humanity, the message about Mrs. Forrest’s unstoppable feeding compulsion had somehow reached the psyches of the homeless.

At any rate, two of the aforementioned drifters had knocked on Mrs. Forrest’s door and asked if there were any chores she needed done in exchange for some food. Well, you should’ve seen her eyes light up at that question. She said she had a bunch of firewood that needed to be split into kindling and if they didn’t mind doing that, she’d fix them a chicken dinner with cream gravy. Mrs. Forrest puts cream gravy on everything.

So she busied herself in the kitchen, and then went out to see how these fellows were doing. And there, leaning on an ax handle, was one of them, and the other was doing gymnastics in and around the woodpile. It was amazing. He’d come out of a round-off flip flop and then gracefully go into a full layout Sukuhara with a right-hand twist. She watched in awe for a few minutes before whispering to this gymnast’s partner.

“I had no idea your friend was an acrobat,” she whispered.

He looked at her and whispered back, “Neither did I ‘til I cracked him on the shin with this ax.”

Brought to you by Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years, by Slim Randles. www.unmpress.com

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page 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 ten years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than thirty 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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Blog Book Tour: The Gulag P-Pa Diaries #LSLL

Posted by mcm0704 on August 12, 2020 |

THE GULAG P-PA DIARIES

A Bittersweet Memoir of Grandparenting

by

PRESTON LEWIS

Genre: Memoir / Christian / Humor / Grandparenting / Family

Publisher: CKN Christian Publishing

Date of Publication: April 22, 2020

Number of Pages: 268

Scroll down for the giveaway!

As new empty-nesters, Harriet and Preston next looked forward to becoming grandparents. Their journey to assuming the names of Mema and P-Pa, however, took a tragic and unexpected turn.

CLICK TO PURCHASE

Amazon    Barnes and Noble    IndieBound

As a mother, grandmother, and humor writer I really enjoyed reading this account of the fun and frolicking the author and his wife, Harriet, have with their grandchildren. There were so many clever things done in the book, starting with comparing the week-long visits with four grandchildren coming to their house as a detention camp. That theme of pretending to treat the kids as inmates coming to a Gulag was the foundation of so many of the very entertaining anecdotes.

The lengths that P-Pa and Mema went to to make the visits as much fun as possible was a tribute to first-rate grand-parenting, and I’m sure the inmates will treasure those weeks of internment with fond memories. From the special toys, meals, treats, and movie-making, no effort was spared to make unforgettable moments.

While I enjoyed reading about those visits, I could also relate to the way the author admitted to feeling some relief when the kids left. I know that feeling. And I know there is also a bit of a let down after a particularly fun time with the grands. The author wrote about enjoying the peace and quiet for the first time in six days, but he followed that with, “Bottom line. We survived, though the Camp Mema Compound is a smoldering wreck that may take decades to rebuild without government aid. Even so, you might say we are suffering from post part ’em depression after one of the most fun weeks of our lives.”

Early on in the book the author points out that the big difference between being a grandparent and a parent is that grandparents can form more of a friendship with grand-kids which entails all of the playing and the fun and very little of the responsibilities. But parents need to maintain that stricter presence of parent and authority, because that is part of their responsibility. That doesn’t mean that parents can’t play and have fun with children. But good parenting has boundaries that grandparents can trample all over.

It was great fun to see how the Grands, as the author refers to the grandchildren,  grow up and mature with each visit to Camp Mema and P-Pa, and that fun was in stark contrast to the chapters that recounted the family’s grief over the death of the first grandchild, Benjamin.

The chapters that weren’t diary entries shared memories of Preston and Harriet’s early years of marriage and family life. There was humor there, too, until coming full circle to more details about the loss of Benjamin, and how he was never forgotten. Within those words, I could feel the slight shadow of sadness that there was one grandchild who never grew up to enjoy coming to Camp Mema and P-Pa.

This is a book to be enjoyed on many levels, and I highly recommend it to parents and grandparents of all ages.

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series, The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.

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8/4/20 Review Bibliotica
8/5/20 Author Interview Forgotten Winds
8/6/20 Notable Quotables Texas Book Lover
8/7/20 Review Book Fidelity
8/8/20 Top Tips & Fails That’s What She’s Reading
8/9/20 Playlist All the Ups and Downs
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8/12/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
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Of Books and Racism

Posted by mcm0704 on August 10, 2020 |

Last week I was busy plotting a new book. When I finished Desperate Season, the third book in the Seasons Mystery Series, I thought about making that the last book, so I tied up a few of the subplots. Well, sort of. It was more like making suggestions as to how some things would go for the characters once that story was finished.

As it turns out. Sarah and Angel weren’t done with me. My writer friends will totally get that, especially those who, like me, tend to write character-driven stories. Once we give a character the wheel, sometimes they don’t want to give it back until they’re ready.

So, I started thinking about the two things that are most on my mind of late – the pandemic and the protests happening in so many cities in the U.S. – and how I could use them in a story.

The Seasons Series has focused a lot of sub-plot time on racism, and when I did some research for the first book twenty years ago, I thought I understood the Black experience enough to write about it from the viewpoints of a white woman and a black woman forced to work together. But what I’ve learned recently through articles and speeches and interviews with black authors has made me realize just how little I really know.

So I’m learning. And some of that learning is finding it’s way into a new book, tentatively titled Brutal Season.

I’m about 3,000 words into the story. I have the major players set up, as well as the crime and tentatively who did it. That’s about all the pre-planning I put into a book, so I’m enjoying the process of following the lead of the characters.

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing my education, and want to share something I found quite enlightening.

A recent guest on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Isabel Wilkerson  had some interesting things to say about Caste and Racism, and the difference between the two.

Isabel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has written extensively about racial issues in America, and her latest book is Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent.

During the interview she talks with Terry about the laws and practices that created a bipolar caste system in the United States and how the Nazis borrowed from it. The interview is well worth listening to.

Caste, Isabel says, “is the term that is more precise [than race]; it is more comprehensive, and it gets at the underlying infrastructure

Some other important points she makes:

Race and racism is about feelings.

Caste is about structure. Something we’ve inherited. Not personal, but the infrastructure that is the foundation of what we inherited, …”that often we cannot see, but that is there under-girding much of the inequality and injustices and disparities that we live with in this country.”

Responding to a question from Terry about what she, Isabel, would say to people who claim they have no responsibility for the current caste system or racism because they are new to the country, or they never had slaves, or any other reason, Isabel had a great response.

She talked about how if you buy an old house, you aren’t responsible for the wood and the beams and the bricks that initially went into building the structure, but now that you own that house, you’re responsible for it.

No matter how we got here, we are all now in this structure. Whatever is wrong with it is our responsibility.

That was a real eye-opener for me. We white folks can’t just sit back and pat ourselves on the back because we have a few black friends or we personally haven’t discriminated against a person of color.

Those are some of the things I’m thinking a lot about, and they are issues that Sarah is going to face in this new story. How far will she be willing to go to support Angel when Angel joins the Black Lives Matter protests in Dallas.

That’s all for me for today, folks. Stay safe. Stay healthy. And stay happy.

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Feed Your Mule

Posted by mcm0704 on August 5, 2020 |

Oh my, I can relate to this offering from Slim Randles, who is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. Anyone who’s been around large farm animals can. Read on and enjoy.

But first, I want to share this photo of another flower that bloomed on my Hollyhock bush. I’m really loving this special surprise that popped up along the side of my driveway, totally unexpected, and is covered in buds.

Now grab a cup of coffee and read Slim’s story.

Dud and I had just about finished solving the problems on page one and were about to start solving sports dilemmas when Bert mumbled something. Now Bert, usually loquacious, was in one of his rare, but deadly, silent coffee mornings. Normally he’d fill the Mule Barn truck stop with his pronouncements on life, love, literature and the price of cauliflower, but not today.

I took a sip and turned to Bert. “You say something, Bert?”

“Seeds and froth,” he mumbled.

“Seeds and froth?”

“It’s not like it was my fault, you know. What did I do? Hey, sometimes seeds and froth just happen to people, and there’s no need to jump all over me about it.”

Dud and I nodded as if we understood. We assumed more would be coming. It was.

“I mean, is it a crime to own a mule? No. So I own a mule. So seeds and froth come along and the mule owner gets it? Where’s the justice in that? Ol’ Jack was hungry. Is that a crime now? And is it my fault? I don’t think so.”

“How is ol’ Jack, anyway?” We all knew and loved the stove-up old retired mule that Bert took so much pride in.

“He’s in the doghouse big time with Maizie,” Bert said. “Why shouldn’t she shoulder some responsibility for the seeds and froth? I mean, you could actually give her some of the blame for this mess, you know. She’s the one left the car window down.”

“Do I have to hurt you, Bert?”

“Huh? Oh, well, see, here’s what happened. Maizie did the shopping and drove in the yard, and you know how ol’ Jack likes to be loose and wander around the yard, right? So she took some groceries in the house, but not all of them, and Jack found the passenger window open and when she came back….”

He put his head in his hands.

“How was I supposed to know mules liked watermelon? You guys ever feed watermelon to a mule? Me neither. Who knew? By the time Maizie got back for her next load, ol’ Jack had eaten about two thirds of that watermelon on the seat. Man, there were seeds and froth all over the seat, the floor, the door, and the mule. And I swear … I swear to you … he started grinning when he saw her coming back out of the house.”

“And I guess you had to clean it up.”

He nodded. “Dang mule has the table manners of a two-year-old. When you mix seeds and froth with mule slobber? Well … don’t do it.”

Brought to you by our radio show, “Home Country with Slim Randles.” Let us know if you like it.

In addition to the 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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Monday Morning Musing

Posted by mcm0704 on August 3, 2020 |

I had a really pleasant few days last week. One of my sons came on Monday and stayed until Saturday morning to help me with chores around the house. Since he doesn’t live as close as some of his sibs – he’s in Austin with his family, and I’m near Dallas – he wanted to help since I’ve been so sick for about a month.

It was nice to have the company, as well as the help, and he did get a lot of cleaning projects taken care of that I’d not been able to do for a while.

Still, it wasn’t all work that week. One morning we went to the lake for some much-needed outdoor relaxation. It was the first time I took my dog to the state park, and he loved it, as I knew he would.

The swimming beach at the park by Lake Texoma was closed because of pandemic, so the closest we could get to water was this channel where the public boat docks are located. Dusty wasn’t sure about getting in at first, but then he did walk along the edge of the water, mostly to get a drink.

This is as close to a scenic shot as I could get by the boat ramps.

I can’t resist taking a picture of something unusual. Or maybe this is very usual. LOL

When my fun ended, I came head to head with the latest in the news. Not much of it good.

The economic relief for workers who lost jobs has ended, and I’m angry that the GOP has held the new package up because of their demands for an end to the extra unemployment benefits, as well as protection for corporations who may get sued by workers who are forced to come back to work and get infected with COVID-19.

And, too, there’s the added $30 billion for a new FBI building and more F-35 fighters.

Boy how we need those planes and that building to help those most affected by the pandemic.

It’s very disappointing that the two parties continue to politicize the pandemic, causing more difficulties for the average American.

While all that has been going on at The Hill most of last week, 45 has been Tweeting about how the November general election should be postponed. Even going so far as to repeat that in interviews, suggesting he might make the delay happen. Thank goodness he can’t do that. It’s not within the power of the Executive Branch of government, but it’s scary that he repeatedly hints at it. Some pundits are concerned that 45 is trying to position himself in a way as to not leave the White House.

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C. gave this statement on CNN’s State of The Union on Sunday,

“I don’t think he plans to leave the White House. He doesn’t plan to have fair election. I believe that he plans to install himself in some kind of emergency way to continue hold on to office and that is why the American people had better wake up.”

Just a quick note to leaders of the Democratic party. While I am more favorable to your platform and candidates, I really, really, dislike getting e-mails with subject lines like:

  • Do. Not. Delete – Guess what button I push on that one?
  • Please don’t ignore – Since that’s a polite request, I might not.
  • SIGN NOW! – NOPE!
  • Is Maryann ignoring Elizabeth Warren? – No. Just prefer to skip another plea for money.

Those constant requests to donate are intrusive and frustrating. I donate when and how often I can. Don’t bug me!! Or try to guilt me!! And when this current election cycle is over, please address the need to shorten the time-frame of election campaigns to about 6 months from start to finish. What a relief it would be for everyone involved, from politicians to supporters.  We could all go about our work without that constant need for raising money and campaigning, or deciding who to support and how.

What a concept!!

In closing, I want to share this well-put sentiment from P.A. Geddie, writer, editor, and publisher of County Line Magazine. That’s a terrific magazine distributed free around East and Northeast Texas, that celebrates the people, the places, and the arts of the various areas. If you live in Texas and aren’t familiar with the magazine, check it out. You might really like it.

And maybe folks who don’t live in Texas might like a glimpse of what life is like here in my corner of the world.

Here’s what P.A. wrote in the introduction to the County Line Weekly:

We’re all feeling a little out of our element these days, or as one friend puts it, “in a warped other dimension.” It’s important to hold your friends and family close and realize they’re way more important than missing a few parties.

Embrace the “Pandemic Pause” we find ourselves in and dig deep for worthwhile activities and most importantly, build meaningful memories with those you love and a few kind strangers that share the gift of their time along the way.

“Pandemic Pause” has such a positive connotation as compared to lock-down or quarantine or isolation. I will try to remember that term and focus on the positives more as these days and weeks drag on. I hope you can do the same. Stay safe. Stay well. Be as happy as you can.

As always, I welcome comments on the content of the blog. I just request that they are respectful and civil. 

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#FridayReads – DESPERATE SEASON Excerpt

Posted by mcm0704 on July 31, 2020 |

Well, I finished my self-edit of Desperate Season, the third book in the Seasons Mystery Series, and it is off with another editor for that ever-so-crucial final proofing. That is a step some new authors who are self-publishing skip, as well as getting a pro to format the interior of the book, and a graphic artist to design a cover.

As soon as I get the manuscript back from the editor, I’ll send it on to get properly formatted for digital and print, but I’ve already received the final covers from the artist.

Ta-Da!

While my “pretend” cover wasn’t too bad, it certainly didn’t have the professional touch it needed. The artist is Lauria, and I found her at Fivrr. I think she did an excellent job. What do you think?

Now, here is the excerpt, picking up from where I left off last time I posted some of the story. 

Angel met her at the elevator when she got off at the entrance to the CAPERS department. Sarah liked the name – Crimes Against Persons. Made her feel like the guardian police officers were supposed to be. Too often, the job involved horrible crimes and innocent victims that they hadn’t been able to save, but every now and then, they did get there in time to save the woman from an abusive husband and that felt good.

“McGregor wants to see us,” Angel said by way of greeting.

Sarah followed her partner, wondering if the abrupt comment meant anything other than the fact that Angel was in a hurry. Sarah wondered a lot; afraid that she had inadvertently said or done something to put them back to square one in their partnership. “Something wrong?” she asked.

Angel slowed her steps and let Sarah come along side. “Sorry. the lieutenant just sounded like he wanted us there pronto. I think this latest dead girl was one too many.”

“Any dead girl is one too many.”

“Amen to that,” Angel said as she opened the door to McGregor’s office.

Every time she came in, Sarah marveled at the total disarray of the room. Boxes of files concealed most of the carpeting on the floor, and the stacks of files on his desk looked like they could create a paper avalanche at any moment. How he kept track of cases was beyond her, but he obviously had a system that worked for him and satisfied Chief Dorsett.

“Did you talk to Walt?” McGregor said, giving Sarah a nod to indicate the question was for her.

“Good morning, Lieu.” Sarah pulled one of the battered metal chairs from the wall and placed it in front of his desk and sat down. “Yes. I did.”

McGregor didn’t respond to the sarcasm in her voice. He just waited for Angel to empty another chair of its contents, then he waved a hand at Sarah to continue.

“Walt’s doing the autopsy this afternoon. Said he’d send the full report over later, but he did confirm that the girl was shot at pretty close range in the back of the head.”

That got his full attention. “She was targeted?”

“Possibly.”

“Christ.” Mc Gregor wiped a hand through his thinning hair. “Who’d do that to a kid?”

“Well, as Walt reminded me yesterday, that’s what we need to find out.”

McGregor glared. He was doing a lot more of that now that he was no longer drinking. Still, Sarah was glad he’d stopped. Not only had the move saved his job, but now his office no longer smelled like the back-alley vent from a bar. Like smokers who were unaware of the lingering aroma of stale tobacco, people who drank too much never seemed to know how the sour odor of liquor would seep from their pores.

A few months ago, when she found out that he was going to AA, she’d asked if there was a twelve-step program for cussing. Maybe she should clean up her mouth. He’d looked at her and dead-panned, “Maybe you should.”

As silly as some kind of program for curbing the urge to cuss sounded, Sarah knew it wouldn’t hurt to at least try to limit the colorful language. How many times could she say “fuck off” to the brass and get away with it?

“Sorry, Lieu,” Sarah said. “Just trying to inject a little humor here.”

“Well, humor me, and tell me what else you’ve got.”

“Actually, we got nothing, Lieu. Nothing at the crime scene and nothing conclusive from the family.” Sarah finished by quickly filling him in on their interviews with the family.

“We are going to take a look at the father,” Angel said. “Sarah seems to think he might be somehow involved. I’m a skeptic, but at least eliminating him will give us something to do.”

“Can’t imagine a father killing their own kid that way.” McGregor shook his head. “I know fathers kill their kids all the time. But it would take a cold-hearted bastard to do it up close and personal. Is the father a bastard?”

Sarah thought about the guy’s behavior. If they asked the wife, she might say her husband wasn’t the kindest man. But was he rotten? Not like some people she’d helped put behind bars. “I’d have to say no. But he was evasive and basically shut us down in the interview.”

“Wasn’t just grief reacting?”

“Could’ve been,” Sarah acknowledged. “But we’ve got to cross him off the list one way or another.”

“Okay. Try again. But go at him easy.”

That’s it for me for today, folks. I hope your weekend is a good one, despite the frustrations and limitations that the pandemic has brought to our lives. Be safe! Be well!

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

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Down at The Swimming Hole

Posted by mcm0704 on July 29, 2020 |

Ah! I love this essay from Slim Randles, who is today’s Wednesday’s Guest. It reminds me of the swimming hole an uncle in West Virginia took us kids to one summer when we were visiting. I don’t remember a tire swing, but I do remember the deep, crystal clear water and the dead tree at the bottom. We would take turns diving down, pretending we were finding lost treasure. Oh, the joys of childhood. Thanks for the reminder,Slim. 

It’s too hot for coffee, so iced tea is on the virtual menu. Help yourself and enjoy…

Iced mint tea

 

There is in the splashing of the creek a great spray of diamonds. As each youngster sails like an astronaut out on the tire swing, then releases the hold on the earth to flail, suspended in time and space for that brief second or two, there is a timelessness, a postponement of all things evil and destructive, an affirmation of joy.

The swimming hole in Lewis Creek has been there since Indian times, of course, and the tire swing was probably preceded by simply a rope with knots in it. It is one of the summer lodestones of our existence. Each summer we have to make our pilgrimage in the hot sun to the hole below the little waterfall, to the place were Lewis Creek widens and deepens for the benefit of hot, dry people before becoming just a creek again. And in this widening of the creek, this sacred place in our summer lives, we also play witness to the passage of years.

Across the creek from the tree with the tire swing, the gravelly bottom extends gently with almost no current for ten feet or so. This is the baby beach, where squealing tots are allowed to cool off without benefit (or hindrance) of any more covering than the smiles of their parents.

As the children grow, they venture farther out into the current of the creek and test their strength against the forces of nature. By the time a youngster is eight or ten, the seduction of the tire swing becomes overwhelming and the flailing of the arms and legs against the blue of the sky begin.

Later still, when gangliness becomes fluidity and sleekness, and we want to make catlike moves to attract the opposite sex, the tire is used as a swinging platform for exquisite dives into the deep part of the creek where the big trout lie in cold holes.

And as we age, and we watch our children come to love the hole in Lewis Creek, and as we sip lemonade in the shade as our grandchildren work their ways up the swimming hole chain of life, we can look at the splashing of the creek and see, with each sleek dive, with each laughing belly-flop, the diamonds of the creek sent skyward, and the laughter stays with us and keeps us strong and makes us feel rich, and fortunate.

It is unnecessary to say the hole in Lewis Creek is an important part of our lives, because it, along with so many other treasures of the years, really is our lives.

Brought to you by  “Ol’ Jimmy Dollar,” a children’s book by Slim Randles. LPDPress.com

 *** 2016 SPUR Book Awards, Western Writers of America ***
Finalist Western Storyteller, Illustrated Children’s Book: “Ol’ Jimmy Dollar” by Slim Randles and illustrated by Jerry Montoya

Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 370 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, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It has some of the best of his offerings through the years.

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4

Book Blog Tour – Landing in my Present by Mary Clark

Posted by mcm0704 on July 26, 2020 |
LANDING IN MY PRESENT
by

Mary Clark

Biography / Aviation / Historical / WWII

Publisher: Hellgate Press
Date of Publication: June 15, 2020
Number of Pages: 218

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 
Mary Walker Clark barely knew her father. When he died, he left not only the obvious void every teen would experience, but took with him scores of Indiana Jones-style tales about flying the Hump, a treacherous series of US missions that transported supplies over the Himalayas to China during World War II. 
It would take a chance interview with a pilot who had flown with her father in the war to launch a series of extraordinary journeysinto a shrouded past and halfway around the globe to India and Chinafor Clark to finally come to know the father whose absence had haunted her for decades. 
Landing in My Present chronicles the adventures of a daughter who chose to pry open a painful past while enlarging her view of an adventurous father long thought lost.

Like the author, I really enjoyed getting to know more about her father through the correspondence she found in the old trunk from the students he taught in the flight school; as well as the treasure trove of old pictures she went through much later with her brother. It was interesting to get some of the details of the different types of planes that were being introduced in that time, and I enjoyed the anecdotes the former students shared about their time with her father. It was like this man was coming alive for me too.

The letters she cobbled together from interviews, imagining they were letters her father would have sent home during his time flying the Hump, were packed with war history that many people don’t know. History books have much more details of battles in the major war fronts, and this fan of history was happy to learn more, as will any other history buff.

The author does a very good job in showing how looking at the past history of our family members can often bring us to a greater understanding of ourselves. And that is certainly what the title of this book, Landing in my Present, means. By sharing the journey that her father took so many years ago was like giving him an imaginary plane to land in her backyard where he would then step out of the plane today. Much like he did in real life at one of the family gatherings.

What the author learned, and experienced, once she got to India and walked the ground where her father had walked was the most touching, and I wish we’d have gotten to that journey sooner in the story. It would have made all the other remembrances that much more interesting and poignant.

Still, I don’t hesitate to recommend this book to all readers, not just history buffs.

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Mary Walker Clark is a retired attorney turned travel writer who loves taking readers with her to worldwide destinations. She has been traveling independently and internationally for over fifty years. Her essays may be found in the Paris News, at her blog, “Mary Clark, Traveler,” and her podcasts at KETR 88.9, an NPR affiliate. Clark is an award-winning member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and a contributor to Still Me, … After All These Years, 24 Writers Reflect on Aging. 
 
In 2016, Clark traveled to India and China to follow her father’s WWII footsteps when he was a Hump pilot flying over the Himalayas. Her journey to connect with him fifty years after his death is told in her book, Landing in My Present
Clark is a fifth generation Texan living in Paris, Texas. 

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Politics – At What Cost

Posted by mcm0704 on July 24, 2020 |

This image has nothing to do with my post today, I just thought it would be nice to start off seeing something pretty. This flower just bloomed on a plant at the side of my driveway that I suspected was not a weed when I was clearing along the fence. I’m glad I left it and was gifted with this lovely flower. I’m pretty sure it’s a Hollyhock, even though it is a single flower, not on a stalk like so many varieties of the flower.

One of the reasons I’m glad I don’t get Cable TV is that I’m not bombarded with the distressing news for hours at a time, and I imagine the levels of stress are much higher in folks that do watch network news for great swaths of time.

Still I’m not uninformed. I listen to NPR news for a short time every morning. Their UpFirst podcast has a quick update on a few top stories of the day.

I also listen to The Daily Podcast from The New York Times. Thursday’s show centered on the protests in Portland Oregon covering the progression from when they started almost two months ago after the murder of George Floyd on May 25 until today.

According to Mike Baker, a Times reporter based in the Northwest, the the size and violent nature of the protest was diminishing until the arrival of federal troops. Prior to that deployment of federal troops there had been a limit on the strength and amount of tear gas that could be used by local authorities. That came about from an injunction from a federal court that sided with an organization Don’t Shoot Portland that filed a class action lawsuit on June 5 against the city of Portland, alleging that police have been using tear gas indiscriminately against demonstrators during recent protests. They sought a temporary restraining order, which led to the judge granting it.

Once federal authorities stepped in, the use of tear gas increased, as did the push-back from protesters. Late on Wednesday, even Ted Wheeler, the Mayor of Portland was tear-gassed.

This timeline of the protests from early May until now reported in KGW8 TV in Portland shows how what started as peaceful marches and vigils escalated, primarily as backlash at the violent confrontation by law-enforcement.

An article on the Portland protests in The New York Times by Sergio Olmos, Mike Baker, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs offered more details of the current situation, including an assertion that 45 was using the situation for political gain.

Governor Brown said in an interview that she asked the acting homeland security secretary, Chad F. Wolf, to remove federal officials from the streets and that he refused. She said the Trump administration appeared to instead be using the situation for photo-ops to rally his supporters.

“They are provoking confrontation for political purposes,” Ms. Brown said.

Lest you wonder if that is true, consider the political ad that was released by 45’s campaign just yesterday that showed images of rioting and ended with the message that “This is what Joe Biden’s America looks like.”

Or consider this horrible ad that stirs incredible fear and is absolutely false. Joe Biden does not want to de-fund the police. If you’d like to know what Joe Biden plans to do regarding criminal justice when elected, check out his goals and vision on his official campaign website.

Specifically related to police departments, this is Biden’s plan:

Expand and use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices. Using authority in legislation spearheaded by Biden as senator, the Obama-Biden Justice Department used pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees to address circumstances of “systemic police misconduct” and to “restore trust between police and communities” in cities such as Ferguson. Yet, the Trump Administration’s Justice Department has limited the use of this tool.

Not one word about de-funding the police.

Meanwhile, while cases of the corona virus surge across our country, 45 is using that issue for political gain, too. Is it no surprise that as the election date draws near, he is now the “face” of the fight against this pandemic?

No longer do we see Dr. Fauci, who has been a stalwart soldier in the fight to stem the pandemic and find a vaccine. No longer do we see Dr. Birx. We only see 45 as he contradicts everything he’s said up to this point and positions himself as the savior of the people.

If this was just the typical political posturing and mud-slinging, I’d let it go, but this is putting people’s lives at risk. Both the response to protests and the response to the pandemic.

I’m beyond angry. I’m beyond frustrated. I’m so incredibly sad for our country and for all those people who believe 45, who believe in him, and who willingly drink his Kool-Aid.

I  think I need something to lift my spirits, so here’s a joke from the Laugh Factory.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine, they laid down for the night, and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”

Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars.”

“What does that tell you?”

Watson pondered for a minute. “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies, and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?”

Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke. “It tells me that someone has stolen our tent.”

That’s all from me for today, folks. I hope you have a safe and happy weekend. As always comments are welcome as long as they are civil and respectful of others.

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Learning Never Stops

Posted by mcm0704 on July 22, 2020 |

Slim Randles is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with a bit of humor to get us over the mid-week hump. He always manages to enlighten and entertain. 

This meme has nothing to do with the topic of Slim’s essay, but I found it quite amusing when a friend shared it with me. I figured we all could use some chocolate and wine as we try to get through these challenging times. Enjoy…

When the new college opened in the next town – a somewhat larger town than ours – our folks began wondering if making the 30-minute drive to class would be worth it.

Dud was the first to figure out that it was.

“Boys,” he said, sitting at the Mule Barn philosophy counter and flipping his cup upright with one poetic motion, “I’m signed up over at J.H.T.. I’m going to get me an education.”

“That’s great, Dud,” said his mentor and straight man, Doc. “What are you taking?”

“Just one class to start out, Doc,” Dud said. “Thought I’d kinda e-e-e-ease into it, you know. I’m taking functional literacy. We’re going to study words and their meanings.”

“I thought you did that in high school. Maybe even in grammar school?”

“Right, Doc. But this is college, you know. We’re going to take functional literacy to a higher plane!”

When Jerry Hat-Trick Junior College recently opened its doors, it attracted a great deal of attention. Not only was it the first privately-endowed junior college in the country, but it was named for its benefactor, the famous retired hockey player. It had always been Jerry’s dream, he told the world, to bring about a greater appreciation for the associate in arts degree. To do this, he paid educators to meet in think tanks all over the county and come up with classes that were “outside the box.”

Jerry did well in hockey, naturally, but endowing a two-year institution of semi-higher learning became possible only after he married the heiress to a pork-belly fortune. You might call that “functional matrimony.”

So J.H.T. J.C. was born, having innovative classes like “Pruning for the New Millenium,” “Creative Sword Swallowing,” and “First-Strike Self Defense.”

It got some of the rest of us considering a return to the halls of Virginia creeper for a tune-up. After all, as charter members of the Mule Barn truck stop’s world dilemma think tank, it’s our duty to stay on the cutting edge.


Brought to you by A Fly Fisherman’s Bucket List, now 40% off. Check it out at lpdpress.com.

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page 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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