It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing

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Quilting, Coloring, and COVID-19

Posted by mcm0704 on June 15, 2020 |

Good Monday morning. I hope everyone had a good weekend. I did. I worked a bit on my WIP, then did some coloring and quilting. This is a panel for the quilt I’m making for my granddaughter.

The center piece is from one of her t-shirts, and the two side pieces I made from material with patterns related to Harry Potter that I bought. The center piece is bigger than any of the other t-shirts, so this will be the focal point of the quilt. I wish the side pieces were big enough that you could read the newspaper. LOL

I wasn’t planning to do a Monday blog this week. I’d rather be working some more on the quilt, or be coloring in some new books I just got, but then I saw how the number of cases of COVID 19 keeps growing, especially in the U.S. While checking out some news stories related to that, I came across this article in The Atlantic by Yascha Mounk

Mounk states that he was hoping to write a story with a different focus, a more positive focus, but things have changed so dramatically in the two weeks he’s been working on the piece, the news is not so positive.

Like Mounk, I was hoping for good news at this point, too. Remember back in March and April when we thought we’d all be safe by June?

Well here we are folks, and we are not safe, despite what the White House and some pundits would like us to believe.

It is not safe to gather in large crowds. I pity the folks who plan to attend upcoming political rallies, as well as the GOP national convention, which is so totally not necessary and such a public health risk.

It is not safe to be out dining and dancing, no matter how many “Girls just like to have fun.”

And sadly, it is not safe to be with family, or travel to see family, or embrace when we do see each other.

Mounk is of the opinion that because the pandemic is not a top news priority, pushed aside by the murder of George Floyd and the aftermath of that tragedy, people are no longer as worried about their health as they were three weeks ago. Not that the murder didn’t warrant being front page news. It certainly did. Just as the aftermath of the murder deserves all the coverage it gets. It’s just unfortunate that those issues couldn’t share space on the front pages with the latest about the virus.

Some of the facts worth noting:

A second wave is coming.

The virus is not going away in the heat of the summer.

A vaccine is still months away.

The virus lives the longest in the air. It can linger for hours, especially in enclosed areas.

Older citizens and high-risk individuals need to continue to practice safeguards, that especially means avoiding crowds.

What will happen as more states open is very uncertain. But even if government officials on the local, state, and federal levels don’t require certain safety measures, we can use our own common sense. I urge you to do that.

For more facts about the corona virus visit the Coronavirus Resource Center.

Some quotes from Mounk’s article:

If the virus wins, it is because the World Health Organization downplayed the threat for far too long.

If the virus wins, it is because Donald Trump was more interested in hushing up bad news that might hurt the economy than in saving American lives.

If the virus wins, it is because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, created to deal with just this kind of emergency, has proved to be too bureaucratic and incompetent to do its job.

If the virus wins, it is because the White House did not even attempt to put a test-and-trace regime into place at the federal level.

If the virus does win, then, it is because American elites, experts, and institutions have fallen short—and continue to fall short—of the grave responsibility with which they are entrusted in ways too innumerable to list.

That’s all from me for today folks. I hope you have a safe and productive and happy week. 

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#FridayReads and More

Posted by mcm0704 on June 12, 2020 |

First, Happy Friday everyone. It’s good to be at the end of this week, which has not been one of the better weeks I’ve had recently, and I’m looking forward to a restful weekend. Then, “Come Monday, it’ll be all right.”  If I listen to that song enough times, it might come true. Plus, I really like  it. Thank you, Jimmy Buffett.

If you’re looking for some bargain books to add to your Kindle, check out this online Book Fair. There are lots of books to chose from in several genres; romance, mystery, thriller, and paranormal. I’m participating with Open Season, the first book in the Seasons Mystery Series, and I do hope you will consider adding that title to your Kindle.

On my Kindle, I’ve been reading The Mudlark Orphan by Rosie Darling and enjoying the story very much.

Eight year old Maise Clegg was plucked from the workhouse by the Rynotts to work on the banks of the Thames seeking treasures as a Mudlark.

Abandoned as a baby Maise never gave up hope that one day her mother would return to claim her as her own, but as she stood in the dirty river water that dream soon washed away. She soon learnt that life was like the river; dark, fast moving and dangerous.

Life would teach her lessons she had never wanted to learn, but would fate mend what had been broken, before she succumbed to the Thames as so many had before her?

This is going to be a short review as I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m about three-quarters into the story that is harsh at times and relentless in depicting the hardships that orphans experienced at the hands of others. While the story is fiction, the reality of what children like Maise dealt with could be a documentary.

From our positions of comfort, even the most meager of comforts, it’s hard to imagine what that life was like. What atrocities so many children faced throughout history, and my heart ached for Maise as one hope for a better life after another was washed away.

I’m at a point in the story where her life might take a turn for the good, and I so desperately hope it does. Making a reader care that much is the mark of a good storyteller, so I give Rosie Darling five stars for drawing me so deeply into Maise’s story.

Now, here’s my friend, Slim Randles with a short essay to remind us of the small pleasures in life that bring large doses of joy.

It’s the heat that defines us this month. It greets us at daybreak with its promise, but in an hour or so, it bears down on our shoulders and makes us dream of shade and something cold to drink.

The best thing about our hot season, however, are evenings when most of the earth cools, and that breeze slides in off the mesa and caresses our cheeks. Then it’s time to sit, and laugh, and tell stories and just be with someone we love. Then is the culmination of a day we can be proud of.

Inside each of us, we silently and privately applaud ourselves, because the hot day tried us, but we did it. All day. We made it through the heat today. Made it with our hands today. Made it through to another precious June evening when we can sit on the patio with something cold and someone sweet.

So it gets hot in the daytime. Okay. But just don’t forget to give us these evenings, these blessed evenings when we can recall what cooler weather felt like.

Without these evenings, it would just be another hot summer day.

Because Slim always has a sponsor line, here’s the one for this week’s column:
Brought to you to honor all the doctors and nurses and hospital workers. Real heroes in our lives.

How has your week been? Have there been joys you want to share? What about plans for the weekend? I’m going to work on a quilt and try to get some coloring in. I’ve found coloring quite restful and peaceful. What do you do for peace in these crazy times?

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Graduating This Year?

Posted by mcm0704 on June 8, 2020 |

Saturday was the official graduation day for my youngest granddaughter in Austin Texas. She’s the last of the grandkids to graduate from high school, and her graduation is so different on so many levels from her cousins.

First of all, there was no traditional ceremony in an auditorium where all the kids gathered to sweat out the hours together. Which was kind of odd because the kids all got their caps and gowns a couple of months ago. I guess in case they wanted to save them for posterity.

I wonder how many people keep their caps and gowns and for how long?

When I graduated high school, we didn’t purchase caps and gowns. We rented them. Which made sense considering that so few people actually kept theirs. I did hang on to my gold honors tassel for quite a long time, but I don’t remember what happened to that after all these intervening years. I would never have purposely thrown it away. I worked too damn hard to get it.

But, back to my granddaughter, Kat, who also graduated with honors in the top 5% of her class.

She said she was just fine with not having a ceremony. Sitting for hours in a cap and gown was not an activity high on her list of fun things to do, but that did mean that she, and her classmates, missed that important element of “finishing.”

Important milestones in life need to be marked somehow, not just melt into the ordinariness, or not ordinariness of life as we know it this June of 2020.

There was no party, no gathering of friends and family, although her mom and dad decorated the house and made it all festive. They also set up a zoom party where grandma’s and aunts and uncles and cousins could all come in and wish her well. It was fun to see everybody, and to at least be able to share that kind of celebration with her, but it definitely was not a party.

I don’t know if she was disappointed, probably on some level she was since her older sister had a very nice gathering of friends and family when she graduated high school a couple of years ago, but Kat is not the jealous type. She’s never begrudged her older sister for anything, and I’m sure that when the sun set on Saturday Kat was just fine.

Although, if she hadn’t decided what she wanted for dinner that evening she may have had to have leftovers for her graduation meal. How memorable is that?

Actually. Kind of memorable if you think about it, and in an atmosphere of total fun, I bet she’d like that.

The type of celebration that my granddaughter and her peers are having is not the only thing that’s so dramatically different for high school seniors this year. So are the plans, or the lack of plans, that they have been able to make for the future.

College is on hold. Any summer jobs are on hold. It seems like our whole lives are on hold because of this COVID 19.

But again, the impact the virus is having is not something that’s of all-consuming concern for Kat. She seems to be adapting incredibly well to whatever comes her way and perhaps one day she will be telling her kids and grandkids about the very bizarre high school graduation she had.

In the meantime, this proud grandma wishes her well for whatever comes next in her life. I know she will accept it with as much grace as she has everything in her life, and good things lie ahead. She is smart. She is strong. She is… Kat.

Have you had a not-your-ordinary graduation in your family this year? Want to give a shout out to a kid or grandkid you’re proud of? Go ahead and leave a comment and we will celebrate all.

And in case you haven’t seen the nationwide online celebration to celebrate all graduates, here’s a link to the YouTube video.

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Systemic Racism Has Got to Stop

Posted by mcm0704 on June 5, 2020 |

Okay folks. This isn’t an easy blog post to write. I’m going to be honest about my failings as a white woman in America when it comes to issues of bigotry and racism.

I was inspired to write in part by this awesome painting by my daughter, Anjanette. She created this a couple of days after the murder of George Floyd, and it has such a powerful statement.

When I saw the photo of the painting on Facebook, I cried. Just like I cried the day I saw the video of George Floyd being murdered by cops in Minneapolis. I cried, as I have almost every day since, when I see pictures and videos of the chaos and violence in so many cities across the country.

But let me go back to the beginning of my journey toward those tears.

In July 1967, I lived in Detroit and clearly recall every day and every hour of the race riots there. I remember my husband slept downstairs for three days with the shotgun at his side after we heard that people were coming to the Tank Arsenal and the General Motors complex next to it. Both were frightfully close to the apartment complex where we lived.

I will be honest and admit I really didn’t understand why people were rioting. Even though I’d been active in Civil Rights efforts a few years prior, life issues had pulled me away from finding out any more about the disparity between the way I lived my life and the way black people lived their lives.

Sure, we had a shared history of poverty, and I experienced some discrimination because of where I’d lived when I was growing up. It was a poor neighborhood, but all white. And, as a good friend pointed out many years after 1967 while holding her brown arm next to mine, “Nobody will ever know about the discrimination of your past. Mine is indelibly marked in the color of my skin.”

Still, it took the passage of many more years and lots of reading about the black experience and racism and bigotry to gain even a smidgen of an understanding of the depth of the problems in our society. A society that has been dominated and controlled by white Americans who have stepped on the backs of black Americans to keep them down.

I even had the audacity to write a book about bigotry Coping with a Bigoted Parent, which is thankfully out of print. I say “thankfully” because I didn’t know shit about the topic back then. And I really thought we’d solved the major issues of racism with changes that came out of the Civil Rights Movement. But we didn’t do enough. Not nearly enough.

More recently, I’ve listened to podcasts like Throughline and Code Switch that often tackle topics of racism, offering the listener a different perspective – that of a person of color. And I’ve watched videos on YouTube, like ones from LeRon L. Barton, and really see some of what has brought us to this point of cities burning.

It’s the pent-up anger, exhaustion, and fear experienced by black, brown, and indigenous people facing structural racism and systemic disparities between the way white and black people are treated.

A common term to describe those differences is White Privilege.

In September 2017, Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Editor in Chief of Good Black News responded to a friend who was asking for clarification of what White Privilege means. Jason, a white man, was confused about the concept, never having it pointed out to him in specifics. So, Lori did that pointing in a terrific article that was originally published in Good Black News and was reprinted later in Yes Magazine. Here are just a few of her answers to Jason:

White Privilege is being able to move into a “nice” neighborhood and be accepted not harassed, made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of vandalism and hostility.

If you’ve never had a defining moment in your childhood or your life where you realize your skin color alone makes other people hate you, you have White Privilege.

If you’ve never been on the receiving end of the assumption that when you’ve achieved something it’s only because it was taken away from a white person who “deserved it,” you have White Privilege.

If no one has ever questioned your intellectual capabilities or attendance at an elite institution based solely on your skin color, you have White Privilege.

What this past week of listening, of reading, of really paying attention to the messages of black people has taught me is that White Privilege is having the luxury of going to bed and forgetting about the problems of being black.

Instead of forgetting, I’m going to remember what has happened in recent days and find one way that one old lady can make a difference. Enough is Enough and Black Lives Matter need to be more than just a hashtag.

Have your thoughts about racism changed in light of the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and riots?

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Book Blog Tour – The Outlaw’s Daughter #Lonestarlit

Posted by mcm0704 on June 3, 2020 |

THE OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER

HAYWIRE BRIDES, BOOK 3

by

MARGARET BROWNLEY

Western / Historical Fiction / Clean, Wholesome Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 384

Scroll down for Giveaway!

 

 

He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter . . . 

Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero . . . and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation.

Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims . . . even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.

Of all the characters, I think I liked Jesse the most. His determination in wanting to be a Texas ranger, and what he was willing to do to convince Matt of that, was like a persistent fly buzzing around a picnic table. But he was a very endearing persistent fly. I also really liked Matt maybe even a little more than I was drawn to Ellie May, which is probably okay because in a romance the reader is supposed to like the hero a lot. That’s what helps keep the reader engaged, hoping that the heroine will figure out how wonderful the hero is, too. Don’t get me wrong, Ellie May is a great character, and I loved how she was introduced as such a strong woman, facing down the Texas Ranger with her shotgun when she found him in her barn.

The flavor of the west and how hard it was to have a successful farm was very vivid in the story, and my heart ached for Ellie May as she tried to keep her little farm going after her husband died. And I even learned a new old saying, “Too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash.” Apparently using whitewash was just an advertisement of how poor a person was and folks were reluctant to make that so obvious. I didn’t know that.

The relationship between Matt and Jesse that brought out Matt’s paternal instincts was touching, yet not sappy, which fit the two characters so well. It also fit men of that time, men who were even more reluctant to talk about emotional things than men today. That made Matt and Jesse very real and believable and I really enjoyed the parts they played in this story.

Some of the plotting was a little thin, and I had to suspend disbelief in a couple of places to accept some of the things that characters did, but it was worth it. I really did want to find out whether Ellie May’s dead husband, Neal, had been the stagecoach robber. Being a robber was in stark contrast to the man who charged into a burning building to save the children, but yet, there were all those clues, and the bag of money. And I certainly wanted to see Roberts, who had purported to be a friend of her late husband but was really part of the stagecoach hold up, get his comeuppance. Unless that involved him telling everyone that Neal had been his partner in the robbery.

I invite you to read this terrific historical novel and meet all these people and find out whether Neal was a good guy or not.

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

AMAZON   *  BARNES & NOBLE  

New York Times bestselling author Margaret Brownley has penned more than forty-six novels and novellas.

A two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist, Margaret has also written for a TV soap and is a recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer Award. Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

  WEBSITE    FACEBOOK    TWITTER  

  AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE    BOOKBUB   

  GOODREADS AUTHOR PAGE   


GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

 TWO WINNERS each receive signed copies of the first two books in the Haywire Brides series, Cowboy Charm School and The Cowboy Meets His Match Contest runs  May 26-June 5, 2020 (US ONLY)

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
Or, visit the blogs directly:

 

5/26/20 Promo All the Ups and Downs
5/26/20 Review Missus Gonzo
5/27/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews
5/27/20 Review Book Bustle
5/28/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
5/28/20 Review That’s What She’s Reading
5/29/20 Review Books and Broomsticks
5/29/20 Review The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
5/30/20 Review Book Fidelity
5/31/20 Review Bibliotica
6/1/20 Review The Page Unbound
6/1/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
6/2/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
6/3/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
6/4/20 Review Forgotten Winds
6/4/20 Review Momma on the Rocks

 

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Book Excerpt – #Fridayreads

Posted by mcm0704 on May 29, 2020 |

Here’s another excerpt from the third book in the Seasons Mystery Series, Desperate Season.  It follows closely from what I posted in March.

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

Angel consulted the address that McGregor had given them for the dead girl, Felicity Santos, and told Sarah to stop in front of a white clapboard house. The patrol officers had apparently already been there to break the news to the family, and it hadn’t taken long for grieving relatives and friends to gather. There were several cars in the driveway, and one on what pretended to be a lawn. People clustered in groups of two and three, leaning on older cars, holding each other, some crying in great heaving sobs. The first time Angel had seen the way Hispanic people react to death she had been surprised to see how closely it resembled her own cultural experience. They mourned with great drama and in great numbers. No family suffered loss in solitude or very quietly.

“Too many people. Maybe we should wait until the parents are alone,” Sarah said as she eased the car to the curb.

“That won’t happen for a long time.” Angel opened the passenger door. “Let’s just do it.”

Angel nodded to the people on the grass and the couple on the porch as she led the way to the front door. None of them spoke. They all had red, swollen eyes, ravaged by weeping, and she sent them silent messages of understanding. She rang the doorbell and a few moments later, a young woman opened the door. She was slim with long ebony hair down to her waist and large brown eyes that were carrying their own load of sadness. “Yes?”

“Mrs. Santos?” Sarah asked.

The woman shook her head. “She is my sister. I am Juanita Rios.”

“We need to talk to her,” Angel said. “And Mr. Santos.”

“He is not here. He went with the officers to… you know… say for sure it is Felicity.”

“I see. We are so sorry for your loss.” Angel showed the young woman her badge and introduced herself and Sarah. “May we come in?”

“Certainly.” Juanita stepped aside so the detectives could enter.

There were more people inside, and despite the open windows that created a cross-current of the cool spring breeze, the front room was stuffy. Too many bodies in such a small space, adding heat and the sweet-sour smell of nervous perspiration. A woman that Angel took to be Mrs. Santos sat on a sagging orange sofa with a man on one side and a woman on the other.

While the younger sister was all lines and angles and wore tailored black slacks and a pale blue silk blouse, the elder was as round and plump as a beach ball encased in a dress emblazoned with large bright flowers of red and orange and purple. Her dark hair was pulled back in a bun. Juanita hurried over and spoke to the trio, then the man and woman got up, motioning to the others in the room to follow them out.
Juanita beckoned the detectives to come closer, and introduced them to her sister, Camille. Then she, too, started to leave.

“No,” Camille said. “Stay.”

Juanita looked at Angel as if to ask permission, and Angel nodded. Then she turned to the distraught woman on the sofa. “We are so sorry for your loss, Mrs. Santos.”

“When can I bury my baby?”

Angel faltered for a response, glancing at Sarah.

“It could be several days,” Sarah said. “We need to make sure we get every scrap of evidence from the—”

“What evidence?” Juanita asked, as if sensing it was a question her sister wouldn’t ask, but would want to know.

“Anything that will help us find whoever did this.” Sarah said, using that no nonsense tone that Angel was quite familiar with. Juanita gave a slight head bob, as if bowing to authority, and Angel nodded to Sarah to continue.

Sarah took a step closer to the women, maintaining eye contact with Camille. “Do you know how your daughter died?”

“Yes. The other police. He tell me. But I no understand. Quién mataría a mi bebé?”

“My sister asked who would kill her baby. We’re all having a hard time with that,” Juanita said, her English much better than her sister’s. “My niece was an honor student. Active in the church youth group. We are at a loss to know how this could happen.”

“Did you know Felicity was going to the park?” Sarah asked.

“Si. She go practice soccer,” Camille said. “She practice every day. With her friend, Maria.”

“My niece is on a club soccer team,” Juanita said. “She works…worked… hard. She wanted to make the Olympic Development team.”

“Did you notice any changes in her behavior of late?” Angel asked. “Any signs that maybe she had gotten involved with drugs?”

“No!” Both women spoke at once, then Juanita patted her sister’s hand. “Felicity was dedicated to sports,” Juanita said. “She would not do drugs.”

“Often the family doesn’t know,” Angel said. “Especially in the beginning. And that park is noted as a hang-out for dealers.”

Juanita acknowledged the veracity in that with a slight head bow but then straightened her spine. “Still, I wouldn’t believe it of my niece. She went to play soccer. Nothing else.”

“People are not killed for no reason,” Sarah said. “There has to be something.”

“Could it have been a drive-by?” Juanita asked.

“No.”

“How do you know?”

Angel sucked in a breath. How could she tell a grieving mother that her child was basically executed? That was one of the reasons they were pursuing the drug angle. Despite the protests from family, it was possible that Felicity had gotten into some trouble with a dealer.

“There was nothing at the crime scene that indicated a drive-by,” Sarah said.

Angel shot her partner a glance that said, “thank you,” then turned to the mother. “Did Felicity have any new friends? Anyone who might have pressured her into trying drugs?”

“I not know of such amigos.” Camille paused to dab at a tear that had escaped and crawled slowly down a smooth amber cheek. “My girl busy always. No time for bad things. Maria no do bad things.”

“Mrs. Santos…Camille.” Angel reached out to touch the woman lightly on the knee. “We are doing everything we can to find out what happened, but we have very little to go on. So, we have to consider that maybe she was involved in something she shouldn’t have been.”

“I no understand.” Mrs. Santos looked from the detectives to her sister, then back to Angel, her eyes wide with alarm.

“Very young teens are doing drugs now. That’s a fact. There’s a new drug that is inexpensive and easily available.”

Juanita leaned forward. “Are you talking about Cheese?”

“You know about it?” Angel asked.

“I wish I didn’t, but I teach at the local middle school. Kids there are taking it. We had two students OD on the drug in the past six months.”

Next time I post an excerpt, I’ll pick up from here. I hope you enjoy your weekend as best as you can. Stay safe. Stay well. Be happy.

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0

Another American Tragedy

Posted by mcm0704 on May 27, 2020 |

Before I turn the blog over to Slim Randles for his Wednesday’s Guest post, I just have to take a moment to stop and remember George Floyd, the man who was so callously killed by a Minnesota police officer on Monday. Floyd was being arrested as a suspect in a forgery case, and after he was on the ground and handcuffed, one officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for close to 8 minutes, while another officer stood by and watched.

A video of the incident went viral on Twitter, and when I saw it yesterday, I just wanted to cry. The police officers’ total disregard for Floyd’s life as he repeatedly told them he couldn’t breathe, and bystanders urged the officers to ease up, is disgusting. 

Why is kneeling on a suspect’s neck considered proper detainment?[/inlinetweet]

 Four police officers have subsequently been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. 

 

Now here’s Slim and his rather wacky friend, Windy, who hasn’t been able to say one sentence without twisting a few words until they scream. I have a need for chocolate today, and I’m willing to share. Grab a piece and enjoy…

It’s always a treat when Windy Wilson stops by the Mule Barn for a cup and a visit with us. He got all settled in while we waited for him to talk about what was most pressing on his mind.

It didn’t take long.

“Now you fellas know it shore ain’t perlite to interrupt a guy when he’s educatin’ the kids, right? A real gentleman wouldn’t do it. But that didn’t slow down this weird young guy who was visitin’ one of our hometown girls.

“I think she met him in college where he was majorin’ in bein’ wrong, and brought him home to meet the folks. The way it was, I had a few kids I found coming out of the malt shop, and I kinda herded them over to this year sidewalk bench so I could ‘splain how school used to was back in the day, you know?

“So, in the midst of my dislertation, this weirdo guy walks up and says to me that I shouldn’t be tellin’ them kids about workin’ hard because that’s jest how the gov’ment gets ahold of ‘em and makes ‘em into slaves. Hey, I’m not klddin’!

“Then he starts in to lecturin’ them, and me, about how we have too much stuff and need to share it with other folks. Now that ain’t bad, I guess. I don’t mind sharin’ Seems right. But then he says we don’t have the right to own anythin’ at all.

“I had me a look to see how these year kids was ascorbing this nonsense, and I saw that Garcia kid wasn’t happy. He jest got a brand-new bike last week or month or somethin’ and he thought he ought to keep it.

“So, bein’ the on-the-spot grown up, I ups and asks weirdo what he would suggest we all do about it, and he looks straight at me and tells me to go dial an electric materialism!

“Took me kinder flat-footed there for a second, but I rallied. I puffed up a bit and straightened HIM out. I said, ‘I ain’t gonna do it!’”

Windy paused.

“Besides, guys, I shore didn’t know which number to dial.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brought to you by “Strange Tales of Alaska,” by Slim Randles.

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

In addition to hosting a radio show, Slim Randles writes the nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us, as well as the 4 million readers of the newspapers where his columns appear.

That’s all for today, folks. Whether it’s humor or philosophy, Slim always has a good uplifting message. Be safe. Be well. Be Happy.

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Monday Morning Musing

Posted by mcm0704 on May 25, 2020 |

First, I want to take a moment to remember and honor those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States.

There will be few gatherings or picnics or barbecues today, and my anger toward the Corona Virus that has impacted our lives in so many ways is growing. People should be able to come together as family and friends to share memories of those they have lost to wars. That is such an important part of grieving; crying together, laughing together, and telling stories together.

My heart is sad for them.

Now for some news items that have caught my attention over the past few days.

The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is home to a military prison that is often referred to as Gitmo. Indefinite detention without trial and torture have been the hallmarks of this prison since it was established in 2002 by President George W. Bush’s administration.

I hadn’t thought much about Gitmo in recent years, but a report on NPR’s Up First on Friday brought it to mind again. More about that later, but first some facts.

It costs $380 million a year to run the U.S. military court and prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, despite the fact that there are only 40 detainees there now. That number is down from the approximately 780 that have been arrested and taken there over the years. According to Guantanamo By The Numbers, an article on the ACLU website, 86% of those detained have been turned over to coalition forces as a result of a bounty system that has paid out millions of dollars.

The prison was established by President George W. Bush’s administration in 2002 during the War on Terror.

Throughout his terms of office, President Obama tried to get the prison closed and prisoners released to their own country, or brought to the U.S. to stand trial. Although his efforts to get the prison closed failed, due to strong bipartisan opposition from Congress, the number of detainees was reduced to 41.

In January 2018, President Trump signed an executive order to keep the detention camp open indefinitely, and the following May a prisoner was transferred out of the prison, reducing the number to 40. The ones remaining are people rounded up after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

After so many years and so many scandals, I wonder why we are still in the same place, just with fewer detainees. And still costing the taxpayers millions of dollars that could go elsewhere, especially now with the pandemic creating such havoc.

The NPR news segment was about the fact that the 9/11 trial which was to start next January has been postponed indefinitely.

Why has it taken so long to bring detainees to trial? I know the wheels of justice grind slowly, but this slowly? Are they rolling backwards?

And why is the military so adamant that Gitmo not be closed?

Military spending is the highest yearly budget item, and the President’s budget request of $705.4 billion for fiscal year 2021 is $1 billion higher than last year. If Gitmo was closed, that would eliminate the need for a third of that extra billion.

On another note, I had an interesting exchange with a friend on Facebook about how tired we are of all things political. It seems the recent primary has lasted for years and we are still months away from the election. My friend pointed out that the campaigning did start earlier this time around, and Trump started campaigning right after he was elected in 2016.

That made me wonder who controls the election cycles? Who determines when candidates can make their campaigns official?

There’s lots of information on elections and voting available on the internet, but I didn’t find anything specific as to when a candidate can announce, prior to the first primary, that he or she is running for office and start the campaign ball rolling.

Party leadership has the authority to determine According to Article I, Section 4, of the United States Constitution, the authority to regulate the time, place, and manner of federal elections is up to each State, unless Congress legislates otherwise.

Just for fun, here are a few of the winning entries in the Washington Post’s annual neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

The Post’s Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

A few of the winners are:

Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

I encourage you to click on this blogpost at Bytes to read all the winning entries. Quite a clever and fun list.

That’s all for me for today folks. Whatever you’re doing this Memorial Day, be safe. Be well. Be happy.

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Book Review Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan

Posted by mcm0704 on May 22, 2020 |

Across the Winding River
Aimie K. Runyan
File Size: 5262 KB
Print Length: 301 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1542004756
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 1, 2020
ASIN: B07WS9RPJM

BOOK BLURB: A woman unlocks the mystery of her father’s wartime past in a moving novel about secrets, sacrifice, and the power of love by the bestselling author of Daughters of the Night Sky.

Beth Cohen wants to make the most of the months she has left with her elderly father, Max. His only request of his daughter is to go through the long-forgotten box of memorabilia from his days as a medic on the western front. Then, among his wartime souvenirs, Beth finds a photograph of her father with an adoring and beautiful stranger—a photograph worth a thousand questions.

It was 1944 when Max was drawn into the underground resistance by the fearless German wife of a Nazi officer. Together, she and Max were willing to risk everything for what they believed was right. Ahead of them lay a dangerous romance, a dream of escape, and a destiny over which neither had control.

But Max isn’t alone in his haunting remembrances of war. In a nearby private care home is a fragile German-born woman with her own past to share. Only when the two women meet does Beth realize how much more to her father there is to know, all the ways in which his heart still breaks, and the closure he needs to heal it.

Often I get lost when a story moves from character to character ,and from one time period to the next, but the transitions in this story were so smooth, I was able to follow the paths with ease, until reaching a most satisfying final destination.

But in many ways, I hated to come to The End and leave these people I’d become friends with.

I loved Max, as the old man wanting to do a life-assessment with his daughter, Beth, and as the young dentist thrust into the horrors of war, willing to trust his heart and the young German girl he meets at the outskirts of the American military camp. Ultimately, this is their story as their lives become the bridge across the winding river of circumstances and events that separate them.

I loved Johanna, the aeronautical engineer working for the Reich, who struggled with loyalty to her German heritage and a budding loyalty to something better than what Hitler was presenting. “If only we’d anticipated how bad things would become. If only we’d taken Hitler to be the dangerous madman he was and not dismissed him as a fool.”

When considering how life would have been different had she taken Hitler seriously, Johanna thinks, “But that was the music of regret, was it not? The woodwinds played a melody of coulds. The strings played the plaintive song of woulds. The brass, a hollow symphony of shoulds.”

I loved Metta, the sister. The brave young woman that Max loved, who risked her life for a cause she believed in. While she wasn’t Don Quixote, I couldn’t help but think of these lines from the song, “The Impossible Dream” that so often stirred my teenage heart.

“To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march
March into hell
For that heavenly cause”

That is how dedicated and committed Metta was to working with the Resistance.

I loved Beth, who loved her father so completely she could forgive him for keeping such a momentous a secret for so long. And who was willing to do what she had to to help him find his Metta.

This is a story rich in beautiful language, dramatic and heart-wrenching moments, and a cast of memorable characters. I highly recommend adding Across the Winding River  to your summer reading list. It releases on August 1, 2020 and is available for pre-order. As a member of the Tall Poppy Bloggers, I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

BUY LINK


Aimie K. Runyan writes to celebrate history’s unsung heroines. She is the author of two previous historical novels: Promised to the Crown and Duty to the Crown. She is active as an educator and a speaker in the writing community and beyond. She lives in Colorado with her wonderful husband and two (usually) adorable children. To learn more about Aimie and her work, please visit her WEBSITE 

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Memorable May Evenings

Posted by mcm0704 on May 20, 2020 |

Please help me welcome Slim Randles as my Wednesday’s Guest. He’s here today with another thoughtful piece about Spring and how some of the folks that frequent the Mule Barn Truck Stop are enjoying pleasant evenings in May.

It’s been pleasant here in my corner of the world, too. Evenings and early mornings have been good times to be out walking my dog and waving to neighbors. 

It was one of those evenings that makes you glad there’s a month called May. Bob Milford idled his truck in front of the Mule Barn truck stop, then changed his mind and drove the few blocks into town and parked in front of Sarah’s Read Me Now book store and got out.

The air was sweet like wine, warm and flowing over his body. The calves out on the Diamond W were healthy and frolicking all over the place and there had only been three difficult births where he’d had to pull the calves, and those were from first-calf heifers, so it was to be expected.

Earlier, he’d decided what he needed was to see how the rest of the world was handling a nice dose of spring, so he drove in from the ranch for the evening.

Sarah was just locking the bookstore up and paused to visit with Bob for a few minutes before heading home for supper. Bob leaned against the wall and kept his eye on the square across the street. Two kids were playing with the cannon, shooting invisible invaders and making the world safe for suppertime in a small American town.

Dud Campbell and his wife, Anita, were walking across the square, not talking, but just being with each other. Their hands were touching, but there was more there. They were touching each other in a silent way, sharing love and promises without words. Across the way, Doc and Mrs. Doc stood together, looking in the window of the now-closed hardware store. They looked tired tonight, Bob thought. Neither was that young any more.

Seeing these two couples made Bob a little sorry he wasn’t married, but he’d tried that once and it hadn’t worked out too well. She lived in the city now and was married to another fellow and had three kids.

Oh, he knew it had all happened for the best. He knew it. So he patted the cow dog in the back of his pickup and headed back down the road to the Mule Barn. He would order the special tonight. Maybe some pie, too.

Just the right thing for a warm evening in May.
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Brought to you by A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing up Right 

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In addition to hosting a radio show, Slim Randles writes the nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us, as well as the 4 million readers of the newspapers where his columns appear.

That’s all for today, folks. I do hope you enjoy this mid-week boost. Whether it’s humor or philosophy, Slim always has a good uplifting message. Be safe. Be well.

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