It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing


Words of Wisdom for Graduates

Posted by mcm0704 on June 17, 2019 |

As a special treat today, I have Slim Randles with a fun post about graduation and graduation speakers. Enjoy…

When we filtered in for coffee at the Mule Barn truck stop, we were surprised to see Jim Albertson already there, already drinking coffee and looking as though he lost his last friend.

It’s so unlike him, because Jim’s job as principal of our local high school and middle school has been fun for him. He’s always taken an offbeat, creative approach to his job, and it is sometimes hilarious. So naturally, when someone’s obviously in pain, we did the kindest thing and sat down, surrounding him with coffee and questions.

“Yo Jim,” said Doc. “You look a little down this morning.”

Yes, that was a question and we all knew it.

“Tonight,” Jim said, “is high school graduation.”

We nodded.

“Off to see the world,” Steve added.

“The admiral can’t make it. Sick. In the hospital,” Jim moaned. “You know the admiral.”

We did. He grew up here before he went to sea. He lives in the capital city now.

“He was supposed to give the commencement speech tonight,” Jim said. “I have no one to replace him.”

He looked around. “Any of you want to fill in for him?”

No one. Vigorously no one.

“Not even you, Doc?”

“Not a chance. I just fix them, I don’t speak at them.”

And as the front door of the Mule Barn opened, allowing in one aging but active cowboy, camp cook and teller of tales, Steve grinned. “Here’s your answer right here, Jim.”

We all looked around as Windy Wilson smiled and came over to join us.

“Windy,” Doc said, “ol’ Jim here is looking for a speaker at graduation tonight. You’ve talked to young folks a lot, I know.”

Sure have. It’s a grown-up’s boundin’ delegation to pass along tips on living to those among us who are less contubationally experienced.”

Jim looked over at Windy. “You think you could have a speech ready by six o’clock tonight, Windy?”

Windy grinned. “Heck, Jim. I’m ready right now!”

We hadn’t figured on attending graduation, but now none of us would miss it.
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Now here’s Windy’s speech:

Greetings to you, graduates from this year high school, and your families out there who don’t have no caps and gowns like this year one I got and the kids got.

It is a memorizin’ day when people reach this millstone in their lives, and thass why we’re here to celebrate their futures and culminate stuff down from their prehistory.
I personable want to thank Mr. Albertson for lettin’ me use this year hat and gown and for givin’ me the chance to talk with you about all the good work you kids done to get here. I think we should also thank Mrs. Vinegar from the First Baptist Church for sharin’ her skills at hand signals in translatin’ this address for those who can’t hear it.

What’s that?

Oh, sorry. It’s Mrs. Van De Gar a-doin’ the signin’ today.

Lookin’ down on all yore happy faces puts me in mind of the time I, too, was wearin’ a very similitude of one a-them my ownself. Back up on the Rio it were. Nossir. That ain’t it. Was more up on the ridge jest above Thompson Ridge. You know … the one what ain’t got a name? Thass it.

And there I were, on this year ridge and I was thinkin’ about all yore happy faces these years in the future, and it made ol’ Windy here smile no end. Yessir. We grown-ups given you our best trainin’ and good food and let you play ball, if you was of a mind to, and it’s all leadin’ up to this year moment when we coagulate you all together and say, go get ‘em!

Mrs. Vineyard, you okay? Somebody get her a hanky, okay?

You know ever-dang one of us here today … and prolly a bunch more that didn’t come … wishes you well. That oughta give you a little spurrin’ to go out there and do right. Gotta remember that life is jest about all you got ‘til you go and die on us, so be good to it.

Have fun bein’ a grown-up, kids. You deserve it. And remember, when life gets bumpy, take a deep seat and a short rein and spur it over the shoulders on the first jump.

And you can tell ‘em I said so.
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Brought to you by who have put two of Slim’s books at 40% off, just for his readers and listeners. 

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If you enjoyed this bit of frivolity, you will like Slim’s book, Home Country, a collection of some of the best of his weekly columns.

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Book Review: A Dead Man’s Honor by Frankie Y. Bailey

Posted by mcm0704 on June 16, 2019 |

A Dead Man’s Honor
Frankie Y. Bailey
ISBN-10: 1628158735
ISBN-13: 978-1628158731
Publisher:Speaking Volumes, LLC
Paperback: 228 pages
June 5, 2018
Genre: Romantic suspense
Series: A Lizzie Stuart Mystery, Book 2


When They Met, Murder Was Only the Beginning

Crime historian Lizzie Stuart goes to Gallagher, Virginia for a year as a visiting professor at Piedmont State University. She is there to do research for a book about a 1921 lynching that her grandmother, Hester Rose, witnessed when she was a twelve-year-old child. Lizzie’s research is complicated by her own unresolved feelings about her secretive grandmother and by the disturbing presence of John Quinn, the police officer she met while on vacation in England. When an arrogant but brilliant faculty member of Piedmont State University is murdered, Lizzie begins to have more than a few sleepless nights. A Dead Man’s Honor is a haunting story that will keep you awake nights, too.


The reader is drawn into the story from the very beginning when meeting the grandmother, Hester Rose, who is being remembered by Lizzie,the protagonist in the story. That opening sets up two very engaging characters in a way that made me eager to read on.

There are two mysteries in the book, the one from 1921 and the current one, and both are well-plotted out and kept me guessing. The story is at its best when the focus is on those mysteries, especially the one in the distant past. Lizzie’s research into what really happened back then brings her in contact with some fascinating characters, such as Alice, a woman who knew Grandma Hester, and those characters add depth to the story. The historical content was equally fascinating.

What I found a little disconcerting while reading were the times the story slowed a bit to go down a path of some sort that seemed irrelevant to the actual story. One of those tangents occurs when Lizzie is thinking about one of the faculty members at the college, recalling a story she’d heard about a gathering that he had to celebrate his new book. His television was broken and, according to the story, some of the guests left quickly to go to a sport’s bar to watch a football game.

Still, that wasn’t enough to ruin the read for me and I enjoyed finding out all that happened in 1921, as well as who killed Richard.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frankie Y. Bailey is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY). Her areas of research are crime history, and crime and mass media/popular culture. Her numerous nonfiction books include the Edgar-nominated Out of the Woodpile: Black Characters in Crime and Detective Fiction. She is the co-editor, with Donna C. Hale, of Popular Culture, Crime, and Justice.

Frankie’s most recent non-fiction books are African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study , which was nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Agatha awards and won a Macavity award. She is the recipient of the George N. Dove Award. With Alice P. Green, she is the author of Wicked Albany: Lawlessness & Liquor in the Prohibition Era  and Wicked Danville: Liquor and Lawlessness in a Southside Virginia City, both released by The History Press.

Frankie’s Lizzie Stuart mystery series includes Death’s Favorite Child, A Dead Man’s Honor, Old Murders, You Should Have Died on Monday, and Forty Acres and a Soggy Grave. A short story, “Since You Went Away” appears in the mystery anthology, Shades of Black, edited by Eleanor Taylor Bland. The Red Queen Dies is a near-future police procedural series set in Albany, New York, featuring police detective Hannah McCabe.

Frankie is a member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and Mystery Writers of America. She served as the 2009-2010 Executive Vice President of MWA and as the 2011-2012 President of Sisters in Crime. You can visit her on her Website

Please come back on Wednesday when Frankie will be my guest with a post about how Lizzie is not Miss Marple, even though they are both amateur sleuths. And strong women. I like strong women. 🙂

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Political Absurdity

Posted by mcm0704 on June 14, 2019 |

This crate is supposed to offer Dusty a safe place to get away from the cats. He’s outnumbered four to one, but sometimes it isn’t always the safest place. Luckily, Harry is the one cat who really seems to like Dusty, and he often tries to buddy up to the dog.

You don’t see me here in your kennel. Just snore on my friend.

Perhaps you’re already aware of this bit of news, but I was not. I’ve been absorbed with work and caring for a sick kitty since Monday, so my exposure to news has been limited. Today, however, I saw this report on NEWSMAX  relating a recent comment by President tRump:

President Donald Trump took a public stance against the use of CIA informants to spy on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, saying it would not happen on his watch and possibly taking away a valuable tool of the U.S. intelligence community.

Trump’s remarks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House represented a fresh attempt by the president to cozy up to the North Korean leader, a policy that has drawn criticism for seeming to overlook Kim’s autocratic rule.

Trump spoke a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Kim’s slain half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was a source for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Kim Jong Nam was killed at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2017.


That, coupled with another comment I heard on the NPR news podcast Up First on Thursday in which tRump said he sees nothing wrong in taking damaging information that a foreign government might have on a political opponent, gives me even more reason to hope for a drastic change in 2020.

As those of you who read my blog regularly know, I’m an old-school patriot who believes in civility, integrity, morality and ethical behavior. None of which our current leadership seems to ascribe to.

Are those traits in conflict with the traits needed to rise to high political leadership positions?

Which candidate do you think comes closest to my ideal, if any?

If we elect somebody with the integrity and dedication to the people that Jefferson Smith had in the wonderful story “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” would they have a snowball’s chance of getting anything done in the current political environment?

One thing that has to change in Washington for sure, besides leadership, is the influence of lobbyists, especially those from PACs that represent big corporate interests. The main ones are the pharmaceutical industry, the telecom industry, the energy industry, and the insurance industry. They donate huge sums of money to some campaigns to gain access to the powers that be so they can push legislation that favors their interests.

That isn’t the way it’s suppose to work.

Okay, end of rant. Now for some fun from our friends at the Laugh Factory.

My friend thinks he is smart. He told me an onion is the only food that makes you cry, so I threw a coconut at his face.

A teacher asked her students to use the word “beans” in a sentence. “My father grows beans,” said one girl. “My mother cooks beans,” said a boy. A third student spoke up, “We are all human beans.”

An Italian mother says, “If you don’t eat all the food on this plate, I’ll kill you.” A Jewish mother says, “If you don’t eat all the food on this plate, I’ll kill myself.”

A panda walks into a bar, sits down, and orders a sandwich. He eats, pulls out a gun, and shoots the waiter dead. As the panda stands up to go, the bartender shouts, “Hey! Where are you going? You just shot my waiter and you didn’t pay for the food!”

The panda yells back, “Hey man, I’m a panda. Look it up!”

The bartender opens his dictionary to panda and reads, “A tree climbing mammal of Asian origin, characterized by distinct black and white coloring. Eats, shoots, and leaves.”

That’s all for me for today folks. I’ll be at the McKinney Book Festival tomorrow so if you are nearby, stop in. There will be a lot of authors there with books for kids, and adults, of all ages. Whatever your weekend plans are – Be Safe, Be Happy.

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Need Help With That Car?

Posted by mcm0704 on June 12, 2019 |

What is it they say about the best laid plans? Mine for this week didn’t include a trip to the veterinarian with one of my cats, Lily, that ate up most of Tuesday mid-day. Got home from the 11 o’clock appointment at 2:30.

Oh, about those plans? On Monday, I finished up a writing spree on the third book in the Seasons Mystery Series that racked up 1000 words, and was psyched to get even more done the next day. Tuesdays are usually one of my best writing days, but I barely squeezed in about 300 words yesterday. Hoping for better today.

Oh, wait. Don’t make plans. 🙂

This is Lily as a baby in 2013. If you look closely you can see my reflection in the window behind her.

By the way, Lily is okay. Nothing life-threatening going on, but she has a really upset tummy. She’s on some meds to control the affects of that. I had to chuckle when I read the official version of her issue: Forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth accompanied by retching. 

Does that sound better than cat puke? 🙂

Okay, enough of that. Slim Randles in here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest, and I’m happy to let him take the stage. Read on and enjoy…

It was like buzzards circling the body.

The Jones kid, Randy, was out in the Mule Barn parking lot with the hood up on his car. He was staring down into it as a first-time parachutist would look out the airplane door. You never quite knew for sure what lay ahead.

“Looks like Randy’s got problems,” said Steve.

“Let’s have a look,” said Dud.

So coffee was left to get cold and the entire Supreme Court of All Things Mechanical – Steve, Dud, Doc, Herb and Dewey – trooped out to see what was going on.

They formed a powerful semi-circle of wisdom around the youth and his engine with folded arms and facial expressions that said, “It’s okay, Kid. We’re here.”

Dewey spoke first. “Having trouble, Randy?”

“Won’t start.”

Doc, who has the most initials after his name, said, “Give it a try.”

Randy ground the engine, but it wouldn’t kick over.

“Stop! Stop!” Doc yelled. “Don’t want to flood it.”

All Doc knows about flooding is that the animals went on board, two by two.

“Randy, I think it’s the solenoid,” said Steve, looking wise.

“Doesn’t have one, Steve,” Randy said.

“Sure it does. All cars have solenoids.”

“Not the new ones. Haven’t made solenoids in years.”

Steve’s expression said, “Young punks, what do they know?” But his voice said, “Well, what do you know about that?”

“Need a jump?” Dewey asked.

“Got plenty of spark,” Randy said.

Randy looked at the older men and then bent to the engine and smiled. His voice came floating up over the radiator. “Might be the junction fibrillator. Or it could be a malfunction of the Johnson switch. If I rerun the wire from the organ housing to the pump by-pass, that might get it done.”

When Randy looked up, all the men had gone back in for coffee. He smiled and called Triple A on his cell phone.
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Brought to you by Home Country (the book).

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Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at, 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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Monday Morning Musing

Posted by mcm0704 on June 10, 2019 |

Before I left my daughter’s home in Missouri last week, she gave me a cutting from a plant in her yard. I don’t remember what the plant is called, but it loves sun and I put it in a place on my front porch that gets a lot of light. The smaller, darker green leaves you can see in the pot are Virginia Creeper that was growing along with the other plants in my daughter’s yard. She told me that was a bonus. 🙂

Some years ago I got a cutting from the plant on a previous visit to Missouri. It thrived and multiplied after I planted it around the old plow that used to be in the front yard in my Winnsboro home. Butterflies love it, and if you look closely, you can see a butterfly on one of the blossoms.

It was a terrific night at the Tony Awards on Sunday.  The musical “Hadestown” won eight awards including a win for the director Rachel Chavkin. That was a first for a woman directing a musical, as was the win by Ali Stroker, who was the first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony. She has been paralyzed since she was 2 and won for featured actresses in a musical for her work in a current run of “Oklahoma!”

 There’s more Tony news in this report at Newsmax.

Want to live longer? Consider adopting some of the lifestyles of the people who live on the small island of Sardonia. As reported in NBC News by Nicole Spector, the people there live longer due to a number of factors that includes: respect for elders and family tradition, functional exercise, a big daily lunch, and a relaxed work life.

After seeing the picture of a beach on Sardonia, I think moving there would probably increase a person’s lifespan. What a beautiful place to be.

They also have a wine called Cannonau, a rich red wine that is said to be rich in anti-oxidants. Luckily, you don’t have to go to Sardonia to get the wine, but a trip there would be nice.

Do we or don’t we take a selfie? That’s the question that most political candidates are asking, with some embracing the idea, and others shying away. In this article by Alex Seitz-Wald on NBC News Online, you can find out which candidates are making time to incorporate selfies into their campaigns.  Elizabeth Warren leads as the candidate who has taken the most selfies, but most of the candidates recognize the political power of reaching out to individuals in an impromptu photo shoot.

Some fun things about cats

This first is from Daily Kos headlined Why Cats Aren’t Republicans

Living with a cat for the first time, you quickly pick up on its behavioral quirks, many of which are common among other cats. What you soon find out is that cats aren’t Republican. Here are 12 reasons why not:

1. Cats are curious about what you do in your bedroom, but they don’t try to legislate away your freedom to do it.

2. Cats may take away your cushion, but they’ll give it back to you with a gentle push.

3. Cats give you attention and sympathy when you’re sick.

4. Females are treated with importance in the cat world.

5. Cats make use of solar power, often all day long.

The rest of the list is on the Daily Kos site if you are interested. While they are a tad snarky, they’re also kinda funny.

Are you living with a bi-polar cat? When I saw that subject line in a recent e-mail from Pretty Litter, I couldn’t resist clicking over to the blog post. The short answer to the question is this:

According to the Mayo Clinic, bipolar disorder in humans is a serious mental health condition characterized by dramatic swings between states of depression and states of elation or mania.

While it makes sense to try and define our fur baby’s crazy behaviors in terms that we use for our own human mental health, a bipolar cat isn’t common or easily diagnosed — especially given how fickle most felines tend to be in general.

But there’s more in the blog post of interest. At least to me and other people owned by cats. Those of you who are not, can skip the article and move on to whatever Monday plans you have.

If any of you who follow my blog have read my new book, Evelyn Evolving, and are so inclined, I’d love for you to leave a short review on Amazon. Those reviews not only mean a lot to an author, they make the algorithms on Amazon really happy. I understand happy algorithms are a good thing. 🙂

That’s all for me for today folks. Be happy, be safe.

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How I Spent My Vacation

Posted by mcm0704 on June 6, 2019 |

Last Thursday, May 31, I left for a short trip to Missouri to see my oldest daughter Cindy and her family. I couldn’t post about the trip in advance as it was a surprise for her birthday weekend. I went to see her in “Steel Magnolias” at the historic Farris Theatre where her family has been active for years. They are supporters of the theatre, much like I was for so long at the Winnsboro Center For the Arts, and Cindy’s kids were in many productions for a number of years before she took the stage again about four years ago.

Cindy’s daughter and husband helped arrange the surprise, and even her good friend, who knew about it in advance, kept the secret for several weeks. Being there was great fun, and the expression on Cindy’s face when she saw me at the end of the show was priceless. She played Claree and did an outstanding job.

Maybe I have a bit of favoritism. 🙂

My youngest daughter, Dany, drove with me, and we had a good time traveling together, but then, we’ve been compatible traveling companions on several trips over the years.

Cindy, as Claree, is next to me, Dany on her right.

On our way to Richmond, MO, we stopped in Carthage at the Grand Avenue Bed & Breakfast. Little did we know that it is a favorite of dear friends Adler & Hearne. Lynn Adler is from Carthage, and the singing duo often go to there for house concerts and to see her parents. We got to meet the parents, and it was so nice to have a visit with folks we’d heard about so often from Lynn.

The rooms at the B&B are all named for famous, classic, authors, and we stayed in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Room. It even had a few of her books handy for reading.

Just one of the many pretty flowers around the historic house was this one. I have no idea what it is. I forgot to ask the owner of the B&B.

After three days in Richmond, we started home and stopped at the Graham -Carroll House Bed and Breakfast in Muskogee, OK. This is another historic house that has been lovingly restored by the owners and it reopened in 2014. One of the specialties is the three-course gourmet breakfast, which was delightful. I’ve never had a three-course breakfast, let alone one that is gourmet, and I felt every bit as pampered as the King and Queen of the Oklahoma Renaissance Fair that stay at the Carroll House during the run of the show.

The first course is a fruit medley nestled in a strawberry sauce that the owner, Donna, makes with strawberries from their berry patch in the garden.

That was followed by the Kings Eggs, which is appropriately named for the King of the Faire.

The final offering was a scrumptious German apple pancake (Apfelpfannkuchen). It’s easy to make. Really! But you won’t find Donna’s recipe online.

Coffee and tea was served in these peacock cups. The decorative theme of the B&B is peacocks, all very elegant and tastefully done, and the overall atmosphere is peaceful and relaxing.

Even though our stay was just overnight, I did manage a little time to sit in the little reading nook with my Kindle.

Directly across from the reading nook is the conservatory. I’ve never seen one for real, only in the game Clue, and I wondered if Professor Plum might be hiding somewhere with the revolver waiting for a suspect. 🙂

That’s all for me for today, folks. And probably all for the weekend. I left a lot of work undone before I left and refused to take it with me. This was a vacation after all, so I need to catch up – after I get rested from all the travel. Funny how that gets harder and harder as one ages. 🙂

This will be a quiet weekend for me. Nothing on my plate except some writing and editing. What about you? Do you have plans? Whatever you do, Be Safe, Be Happy.

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Book Review – Waters Plantation by Myra Hargrave McIlvain

Posted by mcm0704 on June 2, 2019 |

Waters Plantation
Myra Hargrave McIlvian
File Size: 2122 KB
Print Length: 324 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: White Bird Publications, LLC; 1 edition
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

BOOK BLURB: It is 1875 in Texas, and Albert Waters takes pride in his image––prosperous merchant and plantation owner who freed his wife’s slaves before the Civil War and gave them land after her death. Then his son Toby, ready to depart for Harvard Medical College, demands answers. Was his mother a slave?

Al and the Waters plantation co-operative of former slaves create a community that prospers as they educate their children and work their land. They organize against political forces regaining control through rape, murder, and the rise of the KKK.
In the midst of all the turmoil, Al believes he has been given a new life when Amelia, his long-ago lover from Indianola, comes back into his life. But in the rapidly changing world swirling around him, Al will have to confront the image he has held of himself if he wants to keep Toby and Amelia, the two people he loves most.

REVIEW: This was an interesting look at life in Texas just after the Civil War and Reconstruction. Everything was well-researched and historically accurate, all that couched in a story about relationships that were impacted by the war and it’s aftermath. The tension between Albert Water and his son, Toby, propels the story initially when Toby decides to acknowledge his black heritage and no longer pass for white. His mother was a slave woman with whom Albert had a liaison.

This tension ebbs and flows throughout the rest of the story as both men try to form that unbreakable bond between father and son. At times, I thought they were belaboring the point too much and too often, and the push-pull between them didn’t always come across as real. But when it did, it was poignant and heartfelt.

I especially liked the working co-operative that is formed on the land between the former slaves and the Waters family. Albert shines as a character when he interacts with the people of color, especially the children, two of whom he takes great care of when they are orphaned. His stand against the KKK was also a stellar moment for Albert as a man.

There were several plots and sub-plots in the book, and the other major plot was between Albert and the woman he had loved and lost many years ago. When he finally finds her and they are reunited, Amelia becomes a strong figure in the story-line, supporting Albert in his efforts to protect the people on his land that he feels responsible for. She also challenges him to find a place of peace with his son.

The book is filled with memorable characters that will stay with a reader long after the story is finished, and I highly recommend it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 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, as well as 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.

McIlvain’s 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 a sequel that opens in 1875 post Reconstruction Washington County.

You can find out more about Myra and her books on her WEBSITE visit her on FACEBOOK follow her on TWITTER and  GOODREADS and read her TEXAS HISTORY BLOG

She has a video on You Tube from a presentation at Malvern Books in Austin where she shares a bit about the book and reads an excerpt. It was nice to meet her there, even though it was only a virtual meeting.

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About Cats and Other Things

Posted by mcm0704 on May 31, 2019 |

That’s another picture of the stray cat that I see now and then on my morning walks. I thought that stance was particularly mighty.

Last Monday night there were as many as 53 twisters that forecasters said may have touched down across eight states stretching eastward from Idaho and Colorado. Parts of Ohio near Dayton were hit the hardest with one person killed and a number were injured as the storms hit in the dark of night.

And still some people still deny that climate change is affecting our weather patterns.

Over the Memorial Day Holiday, Pete Buttigieg criticized our president for his avoidance of serving in the military during the Vietnam War era, saying that Trump used his privileged status to get four deferments while he was in college, followed by the medical deferment. Buttigieg had a lot more to say about Trump’s role as Commander in Chief, and it all can be read in the U.S. News & World Report

I didn’t know that Trump was considering pardoning service members who’ve been accused of war crimes until I read this quote from Buttigieg. “The idea that being sent to war turns you into a murderer is exactly the kind of thing that those of us who have served have been trying to beat back for more than a generation,” he said. “….For a president, especially a president who never served, to say he’s going to come in and overrule that system of military justice undermines the very foundations, legal and moral, of this country.”

Buttigieg also criticized the Trump administration’s decision to deploy more than 1,500 military personnel in the Middle East to deter Iran. Buttigieg told ABC, “Escalation is the last thing we need in the Middle East right now.”

A recent Litter-Robot blog piece was all about fostering cats and kittens. There was some interesting information there for anyone who is considering offering this valuable service. Fostering cats, and dogs, helps local shelters by freeing up space for other animals that might otherwise be euthanized or turned away by no-kill shelters.

Here’s some of the advice from the blog:

  • Is your household appropriate for fostering? Do you have a space for foster animals that is safe and easy to clean? Is everyone you live with accepting of foster animals? Are you able to quarantine them from other animals if need be?
  • Does your schedule allow for fostering? For instance, if you foster kittens, you may need to be available as often as every 2-3 hours. Will you be able to arrange care for foster animals when you are unavailable?
  • Do you have the right tools and resources? Do you have a veterinarian, should a medical issue arise? If you work with a local shelter or rescue group, will they be available to provide support when you have questions? Will you have the funds to cover food and medical expenses, should the shelter not be able to reimburse you?

More cat-related information was recently shared on the Pretty Litter blog, this one about what cats can and should not eat. I think cat owners pretty much know that their feline friends are carnivores and rarely, if ever, eat vegetables or fruit. What I found enlightening from the blog post was the list of foods that cats should not eat:

  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Kelp
  • Anything containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener
  • Chocolate
  • Sugary treats (Our feline friends don’t do well with carbs and sugar)
  • Other foods that are typically cited as bad for your fur baby are alcohol and caffeinated drinks. No beer or coffee. Sorry, Fluffy.

Most of those hold true for dogs, too.

Another Litter-Robot blog shared five reasons that cats make good pets for kids. After:

  • They teach kids to be courteous
  • They teach kids to be patient
  • they teach kids to be responsible
  • they make great companions

came this surprising fact:

  • Cats may boost children’s immune systems
    Not only are cats fastidiously hygienic, but they’re also doing their part to help you raise healthier kids. Recent studies have shown that having a cat or dog in the house during a baby’s first year of life can help improve the infant’s immune system, decrease the number of respiratory infections and colds, and guard against development of allergies and asthma later in life. We’ll take that!

I’m not sure I totally agree with that. We had a cat when our first two kids were babies and the kids developed significant allergies and asthma as toddlers. Still, I agree that cats are good companions for kids, and adults.

By the way. I am not an affiliate of either Pretty Litter of Litter Robot. I just enjoy reading their blogs. 🙂

That’s it for me for today folks. Do come back on Sunday if you can. I have a review of Waters Plantation by Myra Hargrave McIlvain. Until then, be safe. Be happy.

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Mid-Week Humor

Posted by mcm0704 on May 29, 2019 |

This picture has nothing to do with the content of the blog today. I just thought it was so amusing to see Sammy in the shower yesterday. He appears to be asking if I’m coming in or not. 🙂 The cats are intrigued by this whole shower thing, sometimes actually coming in while the water is running. They are usually not too happy when it hits them, though.

Before letting Slim Randles take the stage for his Wednesday’s Guest post, I wanted to share some exciting news for the Winnsboro Center For the Arts and the Drama Camps. A grant was written to the National Endowment for the Arts for funding for a 6-week musical theatre camp next summer. I just received word that the grant was approved. Here is a bit of the press release that the NEA sent out:

“These awards, reaching every corner of the United States, are a testament to the artistic richness and diversity in our country,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Organizations such as Winnsboro Center for the Arts are giving people in their community the opportunity to learn, create, and be inspired.”

This is the first time the NEA has awarded a grant to a Winnsboro organization, according to WCA President Mary White.

“We have been working for several years to lay the groundwork for such an opportunity, and it is so gratifying to see it come to fruition,” White said. “Receiving this NEA grant will allow us to strengthen our outreach program within the community. It is a vote of confidence in our organization that we can enrich the lives of participants and have an impact on our community through this project.”

The funded project is based on the musical theatre camp founded by Maryann Miller at Winnsboro Center for the Arts almost 10 years ago.

Am I proud or am I proud! Also so happy that the little camp we started has grown and will provide so many more young people the opportunity to enrich their lives through creativity.

Now here’s Slim. Enjoy…

You have to hand it to Windy. When Alphonse “Windy” Wilson chooses to speak, it is a bombastic sampling of creativity. Windy has yet to find a word he can’t make better through his own unique methods.

Well, what got him fired up the other day was a meeting of the ladies of the garden club down at the nursery. Windy’s been helping Dewey with his manure business on the one day a week he spends helping others. Today wasn’t a helper day, but he couldn’t pass up the audience.

They hadn’t gotten through old business when Windy stood, smiled, and spoke.
“Dear ladies,” he said, “what an opera-tune moment this is, finding you all coagulated here in an effort to beatify the yards of our fair town. And what, you may ask, brings me to this conflagration? It’s the latest thing in gardening. Our chairman of the board refers to it as ‘cow pasture tea’ and it nutritionalizes plants right down to bedrock. As Dewey says, the only way to improve on cow manure is to liquidize it. Well, he hasn’t said it yet, but he will.

“Now what exactly is cow pasture tea you’re undoubtedly asking yourselves at this moment. It’s a varietal combination of composted cow manure, water, and some acid we put in there to matriculate it properly into the life-giving succulence we require. Then we put it in a drum and pull the drum behind a tractor-like conveyance that looks an awful lot like an old riding lawn mower. We spray this on your lawn, and in ninja-seconds, this liquor of life perambulates deep into the rootiness of the grass and makes it want to grow.”

He smiled at the group and noticed a lot of them were giggling in appreciation of his talk. He puffed up and continued.

“And what does the Dewey Decker Manure Combine charge for this incompartible service? A mere $10 for an average-sized lawn. Think about that, ladies. Ten dollars. Twenty fifty-cent pieces. Why you’d spend more than that on a wedding dress or a trip to the Bermudas!”

A number of the ladies clapped at that, thinking that might satisfy him, and it did. He smiled and sat.

He could get used to this corporate life. Maybe it wasn’t too late to climb the ladder to success.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brought to you by The Complete Cowboy Bucket List.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at, 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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Memorial Day

Posted by mcm0704 on May 27, 2019 |

The other day, someone asked me what I was doing for the Memorial Day weekend, and I was surprised, as I always am since the holiday was moved from May 30. Back when I was a kid, we always knew when Memorial Day was coming around, and we always knew that it would be met with a parade, then picnics at a park. Or perhaps a cook-out at home. Regardless of how the day was celebrated, it was always on May 30.

After the date was changed in 1968, as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, I always had trouble remembering to remember on the last Monday in May, no matter the date. When I worked at the hospital, the three-day weekend was not a factor for me, as we worked every day of the week, no matter what. And as a writer the only way I have the three-day weekend is if I give myself days off. Usually, I’m knee-deep in a project and days off are not happening.

So, as usual this year’s holiday snuck up on me, but I didn’t want to let it pass without mention here. It’s important that we remember those who have fought and died for the cause of freedom, and I want to thank all of the men and women in my family who have served in the military. While not all died in combat, there are many on my father’s side of the family who served in every war and conflict since before the American Revolution.


And I think about my father who wanted to serve after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but he was unable to because he was color blind. I don’t know how deeply he felt the disappointment, or if he even did, but in Evelyn Evolving, I gave him this reaction:

At the shop on Monday, all the guys were talking about those dirty rotten Japs and how they wanted to go kill all the fuckers. While Russell wanted to join up, he wasn’t so sure about the killing. He remembered how he always had to look away when his mother killed the chicken for Sunday dinner. When he was a young teen, his sister, Anna, laughed and teased him about it, saying he shouldn’t make their poor mama do that nasty job. Truth was, Russell hated the idea of killing of any kind. He accompanied friends on hunting trips because that’s what boys and men were supposed to do, but he only enjoyed the company and the whiskey they put in the coffee at the end of the day. He left the killing to the others.

Despite his misgivings about actual combat, when the shift ended at five, Russell went with one of the guys, Gary, to the army recruiting office. Lots of men were eager to sign up, and they joined the group, first filling out forms, then moving into another area for an initial physical screening. That entailed an eye test, and Russell was surprised when he was turned down because he was colorblind. He hadn’t even thought about that for years, having grown accustomed to his black and white and gray world, and he really didn’t see what difference it made. But the doctor was adamant as he stamped Russell’s paperwork “ineligible.” The army wanted men with perfect vision.

Russell drove slowly, trying to get rid of his anger and frustration before he got home. Evelyn hated his flares of anger, so he tried to keep them out of the house as much as he could. It wasn’t her fault that there had been so many disappointments that made him feel inadequate. First it was the music. The dream of being a performer blown away by responsibility. Not that he didn’t love his daughter. He did. He just wished she’d waited a few more years before arriving.

By the time he got home, he’d calmed down some, but he still walked into the apartment and threw his coat in the general direction of the hall tree. It fell to the floor in a heap. He saw Evelyn on the sofa feeding Juanita a bottle. Evelyn had seen him toss the coat. It was so unlike him that she asked, “What’s wrong?”
He shrugged.

Evelyn put the baby on her shoulder to burp and said, “I can tell something’s the matter.”

Russell walked back and picked up his coat. “I was rejected.”

“Rejected? From what?”

“From doing my duty?”


“I went to the recruiting station with a buddy from work. Went through all the paperwork. Then found out I can’t serve because I’m colorblind.”

Evelyn lowered Juanita to her arms and put the bottle back into the eager mouth. “I don’t understand.”

Russell turned to face her after putting his coat on the rack. “I don’t see colors.”


He nodded.

“I never heard of that.”

“It’s not common.”

“Oh. Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

Russell went to the kitchen and lit the fire up under the coffee pot. “It never came up. And I hardly think about it anymore.” He turned and faced her. “Until today.”

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt and let’s end with a joke from comedian Elayne Boosler. “We have women in the military but they don’t put us in the front lines. They don’t know if we can fight, if we can kill. I think we can. All the general has to do is walk over to the women and say, ‘You see the enemy over there? They say you look fat in those uniforms.”

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