The past week, I have been working on the sequel to “The Wolf’s Moon” and “The River.”
Working on the new book, I almost forgot that it is Christmas time!
Maybe it’s because it has been so warm. There hasn’t been any snow and the cold spells have been brief.
Regardless, there is so much in my private life to be thankful for.
The last three years have been tough but through it all, my wife stood by my side. My family and friends were all there for me in prayer and presence helping me through to this season.
Christmas is a time (for me at least) to say that it is a time to forgive, and remember the reason we have Christmas.
Not everyone believes in Christ and that’s okay. They don’t have to but I hope they celebrate the time of family.
I ask that all look into the eyes of a child and think about them.
Not every child will have presents under a tree – if they even have a tree. That is why I so endorse the Toys for Tots by the USMC – Reserve. There are so many other organizations that collect toys, clothes and food.
Please become a part of that.
Even if you are living in another country, find where you can help people not as lucky.
Then you too can stand and say “Semper Fidelis” – Always Faithful.
You may not believe in God, but why chance it…just in case…
Ordinairement, je garde mes distances de la politique. Je pense que la politique est comme la religion ou les saveurs de crème glacée.
Après vendredi dernier, je ne vais pas pour être tranquille.
L'été dernier, ma fille et petite-fille ont passé plusieurs semaines en Grande-Bretagne. Pendant qu'ils étaient là, ils ont passé la journée à Paris, la ville des lumières.
Les gens que je l'ai eu le plaisir de rencontrer de la France sont des gens merveilleux. Ils ne sont pas différents de nous, ils parlent seulement une langue différente.
Je suis resté jusqu'à vendredi soir (vendredi 13) et regardé Fox Nouvelles et Shepard Smith rapport que la terreur se déroulait à Paris.
Je regardais les rues ont été inondées de gens qui courent pour leur vie, couverts de sang; le sang de ces malheureux qui se trouvaient blessé ou pire - morts.
Peut-être que certains ne peuvent pas imaginer regarder dans les yeux d'un homme ou d'une femme morte. Ou encore la peur sur les visages comme ils vous demander de ne pas les laisser mourir et il n'y a pas un putain de chose que vous pouvez faire.
Je pense que des monstres qui ont causé la mort tous. Monster est pas un mot assez fort. La langue anglaise ne possède pas un mot pour désigner un tel mal.
Ces animaux qui ont causé tout le carnage apprécié la mort qu'ils pleuvent sur les hommes et les femmes non armés qui étaient pour un vendredi soir avec leurs amis et familles.
Un moment vous, oui vous, êtes assis à une table sur le trottoir, en dégustant une tasse de café avec des amis ou que l'un ami spécial que vous aimez delà de l'amour, et la prochaine il n'y a rien, sauf le chaos; un chaos inconnu qui ne peut pas être mis en mots.
Je me suis senti chanceux et reconnaissant à Dieu que ma fille et petite-fille ont passé des jours merveilleux à travers l'étang, rencontrer des gens qu'ils vont E-mail pour les années à venir.
Au moins, je l'espère et je prie Dieu au-dessus qu'ils seront en mesure de le faire.
La France a déclaré la guerre. Tant mieux pour eux.
Avons-nous besoin d'un autre 9-11 de se tenir à côté de notre allié le plus long? Je ne prie pas.
I love ma fille et petite-fille ...
Ordinarily, I keep my distance from politics. I feel that politics is like religion or flavors of ice cream.
After last Friday, I am not going to be quiet.
Last summer, my daughter and granddaughter spent several weeks in Great Britain. While they were there they spent the day in Paris, the City of Lights.
The people I have had the pleasure of meeting from France are wonderful people. They are no different from us they just speak a different language.
I stayed up Friday night (Friday the 13th) and watched Fox News and Shepard Smith report as the terror was taking place in Paris.
I watched as the streets were flooded with people running for their lives, covered in blood; the blood of those unfortunate people who lay wounded or worse - dead.
Maybe some cannot imagine looking into the eyes of a dead man or woman. Or yet the fear on the faces as they ask you not to let them die and there is not a damn thing you can do.
I think of the monsters that caused all the death. Monster is not a strong enough word. The English language does not have a word to denote such evil.
Those animals that caused all of the carnage enjoyed the death that they rained over unarmed men and women that were out for a Friday evening with their friends and families.
One moment you, yes you, are sitting at a curbside table, enjoying a cup of coffee with friends or that one special friend that you love beyond love, and the next there is nothing except chaos; an unknown chaos that cannot be put into words.
I felt lucky and grateful to God that my daughter and granddaughter spent wonderful days across the pond, meeting people they will e-mail for years to come.
At least I hope and pray to God above that they will be able to do that.
France has declared war. Good for them.
Do we need another 9-11 to stand next to our longest ally? I pray not.
I love my daughter and granddaughter...
I cannot image a woman standing at the foot of a cross watching the agony that her Son is going through, and yet she was left no choice but to do just that. It took great courage to stand there with Him until he passed. Knowing he was the Son of God did little for the anguish she suffered for the Man on the cross. On Good Friday we forget that Mary, his Mother, suffered with him as well. For Good Friday and Holy Saturday, let’s remember Mother Mary.
A couple of decades later she has a room full of books. Many of them I gave to her when I moved from St. Louis to Crawford County, Missouri.
She still is in the modern age and uses her computer for reading, but she’d rather have a book.
Although my son has almost every type of electronic device known for communication, he still has books for his three sons to read. The cherry wood bookcase has books so packed in that if he buys anymore, I’ll have to make another bookcase.
As for myself, I have no problem with the electronic devices. People who do use them buy my book (I hope). I just have a problem reading from them.
A book has a certain feel. A new book has a smell that differs from a used book to one that is very old.
Where I like turning pages, others like moving a finger. I can take a book to my cabin to read in the evening and not worry about batteries.
Last evening at the local grocery story, I saw a friend, Carol. Her mother is up in years and has been ill lately. Carol was with her mother while the doctors conducted testing.
While Carol waited with her mother between tests, she took out her Kindle and started reading. Carol was asked, by her mother, what she was doing.
She explained it was something she could use to read a book. Carol took the Kindle to her mother, demonstrating how it worked.
Smiling a most becoming smile, she asked Carol, “What will they think of next?”
Car exhaust is one thing but a barbeque fire is totally another.
Cooking a pork steak over a slow fire of briquettes can be close to a religious experience.
Picture this: It’s a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It’s a cool, sunny day…maybe a few wispy clouds floating gently past. The coals in the pit are white but the grill is cool. Ever so slowly the meat cooks as the smoke exits through the chimney.
You sit in a lounge chair, sipping a beer while listening to your favorite baseball team.
Your neighbor asks, “What’s the score?”
You toss him a cold, frosty Bud and say, “Six to three in the bottom of the seventh, us.”
Getting out of your chair, you slide the lid back and check everything. The coals look good and it is time to turn the meat and open another beer, when you realize they just pulled the starter for a new “Lefty Reliever.”
Taking a can of Coke from the cooler, you pour the contents into the sauce and place it on the grill to heat up.
Twenty minutes later, the pork steaks are ready to simmer in the sauce while all the neighbors wished that they were friendlier to you. They know they could just light their grill but the food never is as good.
By the time the game is over (and the Cardinals win) you and your partner sit at the patio having a dinner that cannot be bought at any Bar-B-Que joint.
Hey, EPA, are you hungry yet??
If not I can keep going.
St. Louis is heaped in heritage and backyard BBQ’s are one of them, along with baseball and beer.
You guys at the EPA need to get into your backyard, and get a life. Have a couple of cold frosty ones, talk to your neighbors over the fence and eat a pork steak, or a burger and hot dogs.
Above all, RELAX. That is what eating BBQ is all about.
When I was a kid, maybe fourteen, I walked from my home to Maplewood, MO. It wasn’t far, just a couple of miles, but the walk was worth it.
Tucked away between the bar on the corner (that had the best Polish sausage with Miracle Whip sandwiches ever – of which I could do a blog just on them – maybe later), and the music store was a small book store.
It was indeed small but the shelves went from the floor to the ceiling, with every genre of hard cover or paperback book.
There were new books, traded books and books that looked as though Shakespeare or Poe may have browsed the pages.
At first, I went there to get comic books. They were, after all, only a dime. The little grey-haired lady kept a close watch on me. The thought of ever stealing a book never entered my mind. Those books were the way the lady had money to feed herself. I would pick the comic book I wanted, give her my dime, then leave the store.
In the coming months she grew to know me and her surveillance of me slowly disappeared as I graduated from Superman to Doc Savage.
Then, the Mike Hammer books were the ones I wanted to read.
The grey-haired lady, at first, would not sell them to me. She told me to wait a few years.
I really liked the lady so I said okay and settled on a Doc Savage I hadn’t read.
Winter came, and with working before and after school and going to school, the thoughts of going to a book store was furthest from my mind.
When the winter snows were over and school work dwindled down to a snail’s pace, I had a pocket full of money. The bookstore with all those treasures of written words, awaited me.
My arrival to a corner of the world I felt reserved for me, I found the store closed. Looking through the front window, where the new hard cover releases were displayed, I saw no books. My gaze was met by empty shelves.
I went next door to the bar and asked Gus the bartender, where the little lady that owned the next store moved.
He looked at me with kind eyes and said, “Heaven. She passed away a month ago.”
In the ensuing years, I found other places to buy my books. Places like Borders and Barnes & Noble were there.
Borders is now gone and is being followed by Barnes & Noble.
The feel of a book is slowly but surely being replaced by electronic media.
I hope the little grey-haired lady, whose name I never got to know, has a huge bookstore in Heaven, not having to worry about kids stealing comic books.
That morning was cold. It was so cold it woke me from a sound, dreamless sleep. The fire in the stove had burned down to ash and was close to being out. I needed to put more wood on the fire.
It was four A.M. and time to get up anyway. Dawn was less than two hours away and it was the opening of firearms deer season. Not that it mattered much. The day before, freezing rain had covered the landscape.
Between the cold and the layer of ice, the deer were not going to forage.
I filled the stove with wood and lit the cook stove to make coffee. By the time I washed the sleep from my eyes, brushed my teeth and made a very quick trip to the outhouse, I settled in a chair with a steaming cup of coffee.
Hoping to get a weather report, I switched on the radio. Because of the high hills, all the radio received was static for the most part.
On my trip outside, the sky was full of stars. At least the morning might be clear.
The coffee cup needed to be refilled. Heat from the stove flooded the room causing my eyes to want to close.
For that moment, I wanted to totally disregard the very reason for the trip.
Shaking my eyes open, it was time to don my hunter orange, get my rifle and go sit at my favorite spot by the fire pit (some thirty yards from the cabin).
Leaving the warmth of the cabin, to walk up the side of the hill, I wondered just how many other people were feeling as stupid at that time of the morning.
For a person to leave a warm and comfortable abode, to sit in the cold hoping to just see a deer did not take high intellect.
By the time I reached my perch, the sun was slowly rising over the tops of the oak trees that surrounded the hollow below.
The warming rays of golden light soon flooded over the land causing the ice covered boughs to mist.
At first, it was a wonderfully beautiful sight; one that, as in a child’s fairy tale, the Maiden of the Mist with long flowing red hair and the bluest of eyes walked looking for her long-dead warrior lover.
As the sun moved a little higher in the sky, it made the limbs of the trees sparkle, then came the sounds of a gently rain falling as the ice melted from the highest branches.
If this was not enough to fill the soul, from across the valley off one of the tallest trees flew a magnificent white hawk (Northern Harrier). It slowly circled, looking for a morning meal. After another pass, then did I see the black tips of it’s wings.
I watched an aerial display presented that no man’s flying machine could match.
It landed on a tree branch less than fifty feet away, and looked directly into my eyes, almost studying me.
The bird gave no indication of fear, yet in a low voice I said, “You’re safe.”
Again it took to the air but rather for my benefit. It stayed airborne for a short time before coming to rest on the same branch.
We both heard the crunch of something walking on frozen leaves. It was a huge ten-point buck. He stopped walking and sniffed the air, and saw me. His body was tense but he made no move. He stood ready for flight, knowing he could never outrun a bullet. The loss of muscle on his left rear leg told me he had his one chance.
The bird turned his head in my direction. His piercing brown eyes questioned my intent.
I smiled and softly said, “He lives today.”
With a shriek that woke the valley and hills he took to the sky flying above the mist out of sight.
The deer rambled across the valley floor into the woods.
I walked back to the cabin for another cup of coffee.
Since that day I have never seen the bird again. The deer I still see from time to time. He never runs away but rather stops, looks and then walks into the woods.