It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing


Monday Morning Musings

Posted by mcm0704 on January 20, 2020 |


“I have a dream…”

We all have a dream, and on this day set aside to honor a man who did much to bring Civil Rights to the forefront of our nation, I want to share my dream for America:

That it will be a nation of peace of unity. A place where the lamb will lay down with the lion. Where weapons will be molded into plowshares. Where love-speak will replace hate-speak. Where future generations will live without fear – in a land that is rich and green and thriving.

On a personal note I want to share the good news that I’m about to finish the third book in the seasons mystery series, Desperate Season. One of the goals that I set for myself for this year was to get this book finished, and it’s a good feeling to know that I am really close. I have the ending scenes roughed in, and I just have to write the transitions and smooth everything out.

Then the hard part of editing starts.

If you have been following my blog for a while you know that I have postherpetic trigeminal neuralgia which has severely impacted my ability to write. The pain in my head keeps me off the computer more than I would like.

Now, in addition to that, I have severe arthritis in my hands, primarily affecting my thumbs. The orthopedic doctor said that is due to, first of all a genetic tendency in my family to have osteoarthritis – thanks a lot Mom and Dad – but also the years I have spent hammering on a keyboard. The total of those years is well over fifty as I progressed from my old manual typewriter, to an electric, to my first computer, and since then through many variations of keyboards connected to those computers.

I learned some time ago, from a writer friend who was slowly going blind, that despite issues and challenges a story teller can never stop writing. While my output of words has slowed considerably in the last four years, it has not stopped. I’ve found creative ways to get around some of the limitations, and I’m figuring a way around this arthritis.

Primarily, dictation.

I never thought I could compose by speaking into a microphone, but then the thought of creating using a keyboard instead of a pen or pencil was alien to me those many moons ago when I made that switch. As my writer friend said, we do what we have to do to get the story out.

I’ve recently started using Dragon Naturally Speaking for actual composing and creating. I’d acquired the program a number of years ago so I could read documents into my computer while working on the various history books with Bill Jones, the Winnsboro historian. But I’d not tried to use it to actually create.

Prior to this most recent attempt to be creative while skipping the use of a keyboard, I had been using my phone. That started primarily when a new thought about a story would pop into my head at the most inconvenient time – like just as I was about to fall asleep at night. I could grab my phone and dictate an email to myself and send it on.

After a while, I liked that process more and more and used it more frequently for dictating during the day when I had to stop looking at a computer screen or stop typing.

Whoever that little elf is behind the microphone putting my words on the screen, she types a whole lot faster than I ever could, even before my hands got old.

The phone is still faster at times than the dragon. I’m not sure why. Neither is my son who is a computer scientist. He was here this weekend and tried to find out why the dragon did not work well with Microsoft Word, especially in that existing manuscript for Desperate Season.  It remained a mystery even to him, too. So we both decided that since I was so close to finishing that book, we’d just ignore that issue and I could move on. The dragon does work well with most of my social media, as well as new documents in Word, so whatever little gremlin is hiding in that old manuscript, it can just stay there.

Have you found creative ways to work around limitations brought on by age and health issues? This question  isn’t just for writers. Our friend Arthritis affect many other things we do. Please share. And however you are spending Martin Luther King Day, be safe. Be happy.

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Great Teachers

Posted by mcm0704 on January 17, 2020 |

Slim Randles is here as my guest today. I know it’s not Wednesday, but the week got a little skewed with the special blog post on Tuesday, and I thought it would be good to end the week with some fun from Slim. Goodness knows we need a bit of laughter in these difficult times.

A dessert staple here in Texas is pecan pie, and I’ve acquired a taste for it in recent years. I discovered that pies made with a little less sugar are quite good. I found this recipe for Texas pecan pie at Taste of Home, and will use pecans I picked from my neighbor’s pecan tree.

Here’s a preview of what the pie might look like, if only I made those perfect crusts like my Aunt Opal did. She made it look so easy. Sigh… Anyway, I’m sure the pie will be fine. Maybe a little crumbly, but still edible. 

Teachers in rural schools are special. Unlike the great city amalgamated and homogenized institutes of lower learning, the rural schools tend not to have teachers who are putting in time until their heart stops. And it’s a mixed blessing, because rural schools sometimes have to hire someone whose only qualification is a pulse. But, on the opposite side of that coin, there are those rural teachers who go down in legend for their creativity.

Like John Lewis.

After his first semester teaching at the high school, John discovered that some of the boys in class … usually the misbehavers, would raise their hands and ask to go to the restroom in the middle of a class session. He suspected, when they returned smelling like tobacco, that bodily functions weren’t the prime incentive for the trip.

So he got a stick and made a big cardboard sign and stuck it in the closet behind his desk. Then, the very next time someone indicated a peristaltic urgency, he stood and smiled and addressed the class.

“Everybody up!” he said, smiling.

The class stood, looking dumbfounded at each other.

John continued, “Since going to the restroom in the middle of class is a God-given American right, I believe it’s only fair that we all share a small part of it. So Pete, since you have asked to go, you get to lead the parade to the restroom. Okay now, Cheryl, here’s the Potty Patrol sign. You get to carry it. Let’s go!”

And with John singing his new Potty Patrol song, they all marched over to the restroom and waited outside, chanting, until Pete had finished (in an amazingly short time) and then they all marched back to class with Pete once again leading the way.

Strangely enough, the restroom trips dropped dramatically in all of John’s classes.

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

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.

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

That’s all for me for today folks. I’m not sure what the weekend holds for me. I’m still trying to get out from under a nasty stomach bug that hit me early this week. It’s amazing how, when we are of a certain age, our bodies don’t bounce back as quickly as they did in those youthful days. Ah, those youthful days. 🙂 

Whatever you have planned, I hope the weekend is full of fun and family and friendships. Be safe. Be happy.

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Book Review – Spent Identity by Marlene M Bell

Posted by mcm0704 on January 14, 2020 |


Annalisse Series, Book 2
Marlene M. Bell

Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Light Romance
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: December 11, 2019
Number of Pages: 378

Scroll down for the giveaway!



A body, a disappearance, just another hot summer in upstate New York.

It’s July when antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury reaches her family’s small-town farm to consult with the trusted aunt who raised her. She learns that her beloved homestead—the one she expects to inherit—is for sale. While Annalisse reels at the betrayal and her shattered dreams, the Walker Farm ranch manager discovers a corpse in the barn. Officials close the suspected murder scene, and Annalisse seeks refuge with her aunt at Alec Zavos’s rural estate in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Then Aunt Kate vanishes.

Annalisse solicits the help of Greek tycoon, Alec Zavos, even though their rocky romance has dissolved into routine separation. What began as hope on Crete nine months ago has eaten away at Annalisse’s hope for a future with him.

In Spent Identity, Annalisse and Alec come together for the second time and find themselves in the center of not one mystery, but several. Where is Kate, and why sell her farm now? Is the dead man a coincidence or a clue to the aunt’s disappearance? John Doe’s identity may hold needed answers to solve the puzzle before Kate’s unstable health issues make her rescue impossible. The clock ticks, and a vengeful murderer is in charge…


I was captivated by Aunt Kate in the opening of this book when Annie came to visit her at the farm. That scene of mutual love and respect spoke strongly of the depth of their relationship and the connection that Annie has for her aunt. They are two strong women who stand with and for each other.

Throughout the rest of the story Annie, or Annalisse, fluctuated between being the strong confident woman who was introduced in the opening chapter and a little too much like the damsel in distress in old Gothic stories. Still, I was cheering for her as she worked with Alec and Bill to find Kate after she had disappeared, as well as solve the mystery of the dead man who had been found in the barn at Walker Farm.

I found the relationship between Alec and Annalisse well portrayed in places. But in other places I was a little puzzled at some of their actions and reactions. For instance early on when Alec proposes marriage, she doesn’t answer him, which I thought was a little strange since it had been established that she loved him deeply. The explanation of why she didn’t answer came later, and I found it a little weak.

Despite those little blips, this is an engaging story as I read on to find out how they’re going to find Kate and who is responsible for her disappearance. There are interesting characters that are part of it all including Helga the house housekeeper who comes across very much like the Scandinavian woman she is. Even her accent is true. Then there’s Alec’s detective friend Bill who is one of the main players in solving the mystery.

For readers who like a story filled with descriptions of lavish places and lavish lifestyles this is one that they should consider adding to their list. Going to Alec’s home was a glimpse into the life of the rich and famous, and I was quite envious of his stables and barns. My little horse would have loved to live in such luxury.

The story is also a complicated mystery, and for the most part it is not known whether clues  that have been left by whoever took Aunt Kate is meant for Annalisse or for Kate. That intrigue, along with the race to find Kate, kept me reading.





Marlene M. Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News. Ewephoric, her mail order venture, began in 1985 out of a desire for realistic sheep stationery. A color catalog of non-fiction books and sheep-related gifts may be requested on her website or

Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in beautiful East Texas with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large and lovable Maremma guard dog named Tia, and Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats who believe they rule the household — and do.

║ Website║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║

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Autographed copy of Spent Identity & companion notebook, Mary Poppins-style bag (18×13” tapestry carpet bag with leather trim, handmade in Israel), $100 Amazon gift card, and 18” freshwater pearl necklace.
JANUARY 7-17, 2019

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The Rapture? A War? None of the Above?

Posted by mcm0704 on January 10, 2020 |

Whew! we’ve dodged a bullet. At least for now. The news over the weekend, and through much of this week, has been full of reports about the killing of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He was  commander of its Quds Force, a division primarily responsible for military and clandestine operations in other countries, and Trump ordered a drone strike that killed the general on January 3, 2020.

Iran retaliated by sending rockets to two U.S. Military bases in Iraq, and luckily, there were no fatalities. Over the weekend threats went back and forth on Twitter between Trump and the Iranian government. But at this point it appears that everybody’s ready to take a step back and perhaps not put us in a full-fledged war.

Somebody on Twitter suggested that Trump’s action was intended to bring on the rapture that many evangelical Christians believe in. I was shocked. I don’t know a lot about the rapture, not having paid much attention to that in the Bible as I never thought it possible in my lifetime. And I don’t believe in taking the Bible literally.

According to Wikipedia, “The rapture is an eschatological concept within Christianity, particularly within branches of American evangelicalism, consisting of an end-time event when all Christian believers who are alive, along with resurrected believers, will rise ‘in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.'”

This is closely tied to the apocalypse – the end of the world. This end is supposed to be preceded by natural disasters, which we are seeing now, as well as a a number of biblical prophesies about unrest in the Middle East and the return of all Jews to Israel.

Some people see the end coming sooner than later.

An article in the New York Times, interviewed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shortly after Trump moved the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and announced that he supported that city as the capital of Israel. That article included this:

“Studies show that white evangelicals are much more likely than other Americans to believe that Israel fulfills a biblical prophecy. Known as Christian Zionists, they believe God promised the land to the Jews, and that the gathering of Jews in Israel is foretold in the prophecy of the rapture — the ascent of Christians into the kingdom of God.”

While Pompeo didn’t talk about this prophesy specifically, he didn’t hesitate to say that the Bible informs everything he does. And there were numerous references to the rapture in the article.

I find it a bit unnerving to know that so many in the current administration believe in literal messages from the Bible and bring that belief to governmental decisions. What happened to separation of church and state?

I guess that only applies until it’s your church.

LET’S HAVE A LITTLE FRIDAY FUN! These jokes come from The Laugh Factory

I went down the street to a 24-hour grocery store. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, “Hey! The sign says you’re open 24 hours.” He Said, “Yes, but not in a row!”

Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House. One is from Chicago, another is from Tennessee, and the third is from Minnesota. All three go with a White House official to examine the fence.

The Minnesota contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. “Well,” he says, “I figure the job will run about $900. $400 for materials, $400 for my crew, and $100 profit for me.”

The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, “I can do this job for $700. $300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 profit for me.”

The Chicago contractor doesn’t measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, “$2,700.”

The official, incredulous, says, “You didn’t even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?”

The Chicago contractor whispers back, “$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence.” “Done!” replies the government official. And that, my friends, is how the new stimulus plan will work.

A man went to his lawyer and told him, “My neighbor owes me $500 and he won’t pay up. What should I do?” “Do you have any proof he owes you the money?” asked the lawyer. “Nope,” replied the man. “OK, then write him a letter asking him for the $5,000 he owed you,” said the lawyer. “But it’s only $500,” replied the man. “Precisely. That’s what he will reply and then you’ll have your proof!”

That’s it for me folks. I have a rather quiet weekend ahead. Which is good because I am so close to finishing the third book in the Seasons Mystery Series. I really hope to get a lot of writing done over the weekend and maybe wrap it up. What do you have planned? Whatever it is I hope it entails some good times with some good people. Be safe. Be happy.

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#Humor from Slim Randles

Posted by mcm0704 on January 8, 2020 |

Slim Randles is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. I guess there is lots of snow and cold winds where the Mule Barn Truck Stop is located. It’s sunny and a little warm here in my corner of NE Texas, so I don’t know whether to have a cup of coffee with the guys or iced tea. Decisions, decisions. Whatever I decide, it will go well with a cookie or two. Help yourself. I’m sharing.

Now here’s Slim. Enjoy…

It happened when two unfamiliar truck drivers came in the Mule Barn and took seats at the Round Table. Not that we wouldn’t have invited them to sit down, if they’d asked. Hey, we’re friendly guys.

Usually we’re at the counter … you know … the Philosophy Counter. But this morning, due to nasty weather, the numbers of the world dilemma think tank experienced some overflow. But there were still two seats left at the Round Table until those truckers came in and flipped over their coffee mugs.

We all exchanged names and then got down to business. Monkey business, of course. No one was shocked when Doc kicked it off.

“Chipper’s gone to ground,” he said.

“Hibernation, Doc?”

“Yep. Curled right up there in his little bed and corked off. I slipped a little pillow under his head and covered him with a baby blanket. He didn’t even move or snore or anything.” (public domain image)

We stole glances at the two newcomers to see if they were going to ask. They decided to ride it out a little longer and just wonder about Chipper, Doc’s imaginary squirrel.

“Has he recovered from the kidnapping yet?” asked Dud.

“Technically,” Doc said, “it was a blatant squirrel napping, complete with ransom. I was so glad to get him back unharmed, I’m afraid I almost overdosed the little guy with nuts.”

“Hibernation’s a good thing for Chipper,” continued our local doctor. “Sure saves money on Squirrel Chow.”

Those two new truckers will have something to chew over for the next hundred miles or so. We don’t charge for this, you know.

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

Slim Randles writes a 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 here with us, as well as the 4 million readers of the newspapers where his columns appear.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~

Before I go I just want to mention that today is the last day of the promotion for Evelyn Evolving. My publisher made it free for a few days at all Amazon outlets, so this is your chance to get it if you haven’t already.


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Book Review – Ain’t Nobody Nobody by Heather Harper Ellett

Posted by mcm0704 on January 6, 2020 |

Ain’t Nobody Nobody


Heather Harper Ellett

Genre: Murder Mystery / Southern Noir / Dark Humor
Publisher: Polis Books
Date of Publication: September 24, 2019
Number of Pages: 336

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Named a Best Debut of Fall/Winter 2019 by Library JournalAin’t Nobody Nobody is the story of a disgraced East Texas sheriff, his dead best friend’s surly teenage daughter, and a naive ranch hand who find unlikely redemption in a murdered hog hunter on a fence.

Part Breaking Bad and part Faulkner, this tragi-comic mystery is perfect for readers who enjoy dark humor (think Fargo) and like their crime fiction with a literary flare.

A Best Mystery of 2019 by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Book Depository   Books-A-Million   Google Books   Indie Bound    Kobo

Peopled with a wonderful cast of characters who are endearing while also being incredibly flawed, this story reinforces the truth that nobody is all good or all bad. One of the things that comes across very profoundly is the fact that some people do what they believe they have to do out of a sense of duty and justice, like Randy Mayhill one of the main characters in the story. After the death of his friend, Van, Randy makes a vow to protect Van’s mama, Onie, and his daughter, Birdie, no matter what he has to do to ensure that protection.

Randy is a disgraced former lawman, who lost the sheriff’s job for trying to protect his friend, Van. Randy lives in a small shack on the edge of Birdie’s land, where he is happy being a hermit and sharing space with a collection of dogs.

That is until the dead man.

The mystery in this book revolves primarily around who was the dead man who was found across the fence on Birdie’s land? Why was he there in that area of East Texas? Was he really there just to hunt the feral hogs? And who hired him? But as the story progresses, it becomes clear there is another mystery to be solved. It would be a spoiler to say just what that mystery is, but it’s a good one and it pulls some of what seems like random story elements together quite nicely.

The author did an incredible job with unfolding the various levels of this story and revealing new aspects that could turn the plot one way or another. It was also a delight to read the descriptions of characters and places, depicting the way some people live deep in the woods in run down trailers with scrappy dogs hanging around.

I’ve seen those places in East Texas.

This book is so engaging that a reader might consider setting aside a whole weekend to read it from beginning to end. And hang on to your hat for the big surprise at the end. It was so well camouflaged that I didn’t see it coming. Although in retrospect, I could recognize the signs that were very gently pointing that way, but they were so well done that they didn’t really give it away until it was time.

When you finally get to the point in the story where the title finally makes sense it is a poignant moment for Birdy and it resonates again for Bradley and then Randy. It speaks to the spirit of the men and women and underscores the moral of the whole story. The mystery of who killed the dead man that is found on the fence on Birdies property is only the vehicle the drives the theme of this most enjoyable story.


January 2-12, 2020

Three signed hardcover copies of the book to be given away.

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Born and raised in East Texas, Heather Harper Ellett is a graduate of SMU and a therapist in private practice. She lives in Dallas with her husband and son.



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Benefits of Reading

Posted by mcm0704 on January 4, 2020 |

I always knew that reading is good for the soul, and the creative spirit, and just plain fun, but I didn’t know these other benefits before reading Kristy Woodson Harvey’s Newsletter the other day. She’s the author of a number of wonderful books, and she graciously gave permission for me to share what she found out about how reading is so good for us.

  • Reading reduces stress by up to 68% in just six minutes. That’s even more quickly than a hot cup of tea or listening to music (University of Sussex).
  • Readers are more empathetic. (American Psychological Association)
  • Reading may decrease dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease risk. Readers that read into their old age were found to have up to 30% less memory decline than non-readers. (Journal of Neurology)
  • Want to raise a reader? Be a reader! Children whose parents read to them—and see their parents reading—are much more likely to choose to read for pleasure than those who don’t. (Scholastic)

Okay. I lied. I did know that last one. We are a family of avid readers, always have been. I loved reading to my kids, which is probably why I still enjoy children’s picture books so much. My husband and I were always reading for our own enjoyment, too, and the kids, as they grew older, were very aware of our love affair with books.

Now, all my children read, as do their children.

I’m happy.

And even though that nasty Ramsay Hunt Syndrome took a big bite out of my ability to read in the past 4 years – yes it is 4 years now, starting year 5 – I have managed to read books or listen to them in audio.

In addition to Kristy’s books, here are a few more that I’ve enjoyed very much in the past ten years.

Lippman never disappoints me.









A wonderful story of a father/son relationship told with heart and humor.

This was one of the first books I’ve read by McKinty, but it won’t be the last. A really good mystery.

That’s it for me for today folks. I was late getting a blog post done today, Friday, as I was actually working on the third book in the Seasons Mystery Series. It felt good to be back in the groove after a few weeks off.

Please do share some of your favorite reads in the comments. By the way, these are not all of mine for the past ten years by any means. Maybe I’ll share more next Friday, so let me know if you’d like to see more book recommendations.

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Welcome 2020

Posted by mcm0704 on January 1, 2020 |

Humorist Slim Randles is with us for another year of fun with the gang at the Mule Barn Truck Stop. Today, the guys are talking about what to look forward to in 2020, including the dreaded taxes. 

Read on and enjoy…

“The highlight of the week before New Year’s,” said Steve, semi solemnly, “is to be able to tell your pals ‘See you next year’.

“Really?” said Dud. “That’s it? How about now that we’re hip deep … almost … in the new year? What do you do now that is encouraging?”

“Well,” Steve said, sipping his coffee and sending a jealous eye to Doc’s sweet roll, “one of my New Year’s resolutions is to figure out what to look forward to the first week of January. I mean … now we have to start worrying about taxes and scoopin’ up all those receipts so the IRS can tell us we can’t use them. Right? And it’s January, so it’s cold, and it gets dark early. And I dare any of you to try to forget it’s winter by watching a football game played in the Midwest in two feet of snow.”

Doc took a bite of sweet roll, being careful to get that pulverized white frosting gently misting down to his necktie. He took a couple of chews and swallowed. It was its usual great sweet roll and deserved a smile.

“Steve,” said Doc, “you need a hobby. When the outside world isn’t interesting enough to keep you optimistic, go find something you enjoy doing, and do it.”

“Like what, Doc? I can’t play guitar or collect stamps. I just can’t.”

“Then you make up your own hobby, Steve, like bull kicking.”


“Sure. Walk out in the pasture and kick one of those old bulls in the butt.”

“But he’ll chase me.”

“Of course,” said Doc, “but you can use the exercise.”

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

Slim Randles writes a 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 here with us, as well as the 4 million readers of the newspapers where his columns appear.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~

I’m spending time with family to bring in the New Year. What are you doing? Will you have the traditional food that is supposed to bring good luck? Here in Texas black-eyed peas are supposed to do the trick. What is the tradition where you live?

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Do You Resolve?

Posted by mcm0704 on December 30, 2019 |

On Friday, Slim Randles shared some of the New Year’s resolutions from the gang down at the Mule Barn Truck Stop. They were typical of the wry sense of humor most of the men have and quite fun to read.

That post prompted me to think of what my resolution might be, and since I couldn’t come up with one – not that I’m perfect and don’t need one, but I’ve been too busy to find time to sort through my shortcomings – I decided to share this excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant & A Paycheck.

Join me in a delicious cup of homemade egg nog, courtesy of

Good with rum or brandy or without spirits.


As the last days of the year wound down, our thoughts turned to New Year’s Eve parties and the inevitable aftermath on New Year’s Day. I preferred going to someone else’s party as it was a lot easier to bring a snack to share then clean my whole house and prepare a bunch of food.. Plus, I needed time to think about my New Year’s resolution for the year.

Normally, when it came to New Year’s resolutions, I tried not to demand too much of myself, preferring to do something simple like giving up escargot. But one year, in the interest of strengthening my character, I decided it was time to exercise a little self-discipline. I swear it had nothing to do with the strange dream I had the week prior.

In the dream, a cloudy apparition hovered over the foot of my bed and called my name, “Maryann Millerrrrr.”

“Wha … Who me?”

“Yes, you.”

“Who are you? What do you want?”

”I’m the ghost of columns past.”

“Right. And I’m Erma Bombeck.”

“Tis not a moment for levity. You have much to account for this night.”

“Like what?”

“How about your indiscriminate use of poetic license?”

“It’s not indiscriminate. I work very hard at it.”

“Aha! So you admit to lying in your column.”

“Well… not exactly lying. I prefer to call it ‘stretching the truth. ‘”

“And how do you think your family and friends feel about this?”

“They understand.”

“Oh, yeah? What about your friend, Mary? Do you know she was kicked out of the Gingerbread Hall of Fame after you credited her with your fiasco?”

“I didn’t know that was going to happen. But you must admit it was a funny story. Honesty would have been very dull.”

“So. Let me see if I’ve got this straight. You’d do anything for a laugh?”

“Well…almost anything.”

“And you’re going to persist?”

“Of course. I’ve got job security to think about.”

“In that case consider yourself warned. Persisting might not be in your best interests.”

With that, the hazy form disappeared, leaving me with much to ponder. Perhaps it was time to ease up a bit.

So, I made a solemn vow never to poke fun at my friend, Mary, again …

Well, maybe I’d start the week after next. First, I wanted to tell all my readers about the strange punch she used to make.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt, and do let me know if you have formed a resolution or two for the coming New Year. What are your plans for New Year’s Eve? Will you be partying? Whatever the plans are, be happy. Be safe. See you next year.

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And I Resolve To…

Posted by mcm0704 on December 27, 2019 |

It’s not Wednesday, but Slim Randles is here as my guest anyway. He and the guys at the Mule Barn truck stop are pointing us in the direction of  New Year’s, and those dreaded New Year Resolutions. Oh how eager we are on January first. 🙂

Grab a glass of bubbly and enjoy…

It was Herb who kicked things off at the world dilemma think tank at the philosophy counter in the Mule Barn truck stop. Herb is like Nature itself. He abhors a vacuum, too.

“Well,” Herb said, “it’s about that time again.”

Three heads swiveled to look at him.

“New Year’s resolutions … you know.”

Three nods.

“So Herb, what are your new resolves for the next year?”

“Glad you asked, Dud. I thought I might lose 15 pounds, take sailing lessons and come up with a good recipe for beef kidneys. How about you, Dud?”

Dud took a sip of coffee. “Going to finish the rewrite of my book, I guess.”

“The Duchess and the Truck Driver?” asked Doc.

“Well, Doc, its actual title is ‘Murder in the Soggy Bottoms.’”

Dud’s struggle with the plot of this novel is well known to most of us in town. (And most of us who keep up with the updates on the blog posts.)

Steve said, “For me, I think I’ll lose some weight, too, and paint the inside walls of the turret up at the cabin.”

“What color, Steve?”

“Burnt orange. You know, something like sunset in winter when the leaves are gone and the trees stand like lacy filigree against the sky.”

“Boys, I think we have a poet amongst us,” said Doc.

“Aw Doc, come on,” Steve said. “What about your resolutions for the coming year?”

Doc thought a minute.

“Fair enough. I have some. In the coming year, I resolve to grow grapes and make some wine for my friends. Then I believe I’ll put in a big effort to catch Ol’ Lunker on a fly down in Lewis Creek. If I have the time, I’ll try to keep my patients healthy, and I’ll top it off with making a concerted effort to locate Chipper.”

“Your imaginary squirrel?”


“But Doc,” Herb said, “you already do those things now. Did you realize that?”

“Sure,” Doc grinned. “Really makes it easy to keep a resolution that way.”
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Brought to you by Slim’s new book The Fly Fisherman’s Bucket List that features 120 “reel” great places to fish in America before you kick it.

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Slim Randles writes a 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 here with us, as well as the 4 million readers of the newspapers where his columns appear.

That’s all for me for the weekend, folks. I’ll be doing more holiday celebrating with family. I hope you have a weekend filled with good times and good cheer. Be safe. Be happy.

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