Thursday, April 28, 2016


            As children, we all grew up learning by testing the boundaries that were set by our parents and grandparents. It was a way for us to know what was right and what was not acceptable; a way of learning how to think for ourselves. It was a way to determine and set the moral compasses in our lives. Those boundaries were placed so that we might understand what was expected of us and what the norms of society were. These limits taught us to respect others and to be responsible to authority, of property, and for the laws of the land. Punishment for crossing those landmarks showed us that there were consequences for those trespasses.
            Each generation has become more lax, lessening the pressure to comply with societal limits and have widened the acceptable boundaries. Look at the clothing worn today. Many of the youth wear garb that barely covers what underwear covered just a few years ago. They go to school showing more flesh than a butcher shop display window. I’m not saying that some change wasn’t necessary. No one wants to be covered from head to toe in Lindsey-Woolsey or wool, but there should be a point that is not acceptable. I won’t blame it on the kids. They see what the celebrities are wearing and do their best to emulate them. The media pushes the boundaries of decency to wean people away from practiced standards toward a culture where anything is tolerated and accepted.
            Respect for others was once taught in our homes, churches, and communities, but violence is now rampant. Abortions and the elimination of the threat of capital punishment have lessened the value we place on life. Mass shootings and the “knock out game” shows a lack of empathy for helpless victims. Removing corporal punishment from schools have allowed some schools to become battle zones where the student often goes unpunished for bad behavior.
            There have been recent judicial rulings that go against the United States Constitution and our established American rights. These rights were previously guaranteed in the Amendments. The assault on our rights continues, as they try to ban the ownership of weapons and ammunition. Marriage has been redefined, its standing has been raised to a right, and if I should say something against it, I can be prosecuted for a hate crime, infringing on my previously guaranteed rights of freedom of speech and religion. I know that many cannot or will not see how this one ruling impacts others, but it does and it will continue to cross boundaries.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Friends and Acquaintances

            Over the years, I have met many people. Some of which have become very dear to me while others have simply drifted away. Some I have close contact with and others I have not met at all. This may seem strange, but the internet has closed the distance and allowed those friendships to form much faster than the snail mail of pen pal letters.
            Because of my blog and Facebook, I’ve met many people and maintained friendships that would have withered and died if left to the letters sent by mail. The books that I’ve written forces me to go out in public and to tell people that I am an author, pass out my business cards, and have written those books. It is oddly different and yet the same as when I worked as a nursing supervisor. I was constantly working with the public, but on a smaller scale, limited to what occurred inside of the hospital and I was a representative of the hospital and not me.
            With the need to sell my books, I keep making acquaintances, but these are superficial, my close friends are few and far between. There are many people that I’ve met in school, in the Navy, and in my jobs that I wish now I could have stayed in touch. They were interesting people that had much to share in knowledge and wisdom. Many had told stories to me and I wish I had listened more closely to remember them and to share them with the world. My readers have been deprived because of my stupidity and those tales will go untold into oblivion.
            That is much of the reasons that I write stories of my family, tales of my work experiences, and fictional stories that my mind recalls or creates. I am so thankful of all of those who read and take the time to share their thoughts with me.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Collective Nouns

            There was a joke about collective nouns stating that it could be a trash can or a magnet. I am including my spam inbox and brain as a similar example. My editor said that she was surprised at the wide variety of words that I used in my story. Names and dates will still elude me, but Google has helped immensely. Although I can’t always think of a word as quickly as I once did and say do hickey, whatcha-ma-call-it, or thing-a-ma-jig, I usually can come up with the word that I wanted eventually. For a writer and author, this can be disconcerting when I am deep in a plot and can’t think of the exact word that is necessary for the plot to continue. There are times that I will put in a word into the story that is close to the meaning, until I can find the word that I want.
            Beside me are four books that help me in my quest for the proper words or the phrases that I am trying to find: the Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, the Webster’s New World Roget’s Thesaurus, the Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, and my Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible. If all else fails, I do fall back on Google.
            Poetry and Haiku are easier for me. I feel more comfortable presenting a thought, plot, or story in a short amount of time and a short amount of words. I have more difficulty stretching stories into a book length novel. So in my three books that I’ve written, I do a series of standalone tales that are loosely related to each other to give the readers a full book to enjoy. My editor says that they are cozy mysteries, easy to read and easy to pick up and start again.
            I’m struggling with my next book in the series. The main character, Tommy Two Shoes’ wife, Cora is coming into her own and hopefully will be an equal partner in the Private investigation company the her husband has started. To make sense of some of the plot, I will need to weave in some of the facts and characters of the other books. Too much will bore those who have read the first three and too little will leave the people confused as to who, what, and when, So far, I have three stories written, but I am working on that lead in plot to connect the past with what is happening in this story line.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

While consolidating my tablets of writing manuscripts, I uncovered thei poem and I thought that I would share it.
Coloring Her
Eyes the color of summer skies
At evening when the sun sets
Not quite purple and not quite blue
With color somewhere in between
With hair the color of autumn
Tawny richness of red and gold
Touched by the sun, haloed like brass
It cascades from her head in waves
Her skin is like the snows of winter
Pale alabaster smooth and white
Not ice cold, but warm and supple
Skin unmarred by scar or freckle
Cheeks pink as spring cherry blossoms
Softens the winter complexion
Gives life to the ice princess skin
Vigor and health from that hue.

Monday, April 18, 2016

It’s soapbox time. I usually don’t tread this close to politics in my blogs. This is something that I feel needs said.

Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmatic

            When I was a child and learning in school, the old saying was about the three R’s: “Reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, taught to the rule of a hickory stick.” Much of what we learned and how we earned it has fallen by the wayside and considered old fashioned. Corporal punishment was “a not too gentle reminder” that behavior mattered and that we were responsible for our own action. There were consequences for things that we said and did.
            Rights were something that we learned about, but they came with a responsibility. We learned respect for our elders, for women, our classmates, our teachers, our parents, authority, our flag, and our country. There wasn’t this flagrant flaunting of a “gimme generation” that is rampant today, allowing politicians to promise “everything” and not have to work to achieve it. Our generation and our forefathers and mothers knew that if you wanted something, you had to buckle down and work for it. The United States Constitution only promises to allow the pursuit of happiness, not hand it to you, served on a silver platter by the government. Most families did everything to avoid going on public assistance. There was a stigma attached to the “something for nothing” and most men scrounged for work, wherever, whenever, for whatever rather than accepting the freebies.
            But government has slowly changed that. It has become the “baby daddy” in the single parent families where the father absconded from his responsibility as the parent, avoiding any repercussions of his actions.
            If a person works at a company and decides to have another child, parents have to decide whether or not they can afford the new baby. Not so, on welfare the government welcomes the infant and gives the mom more money to keep reproducing. If that is not enough, should a woman decide to have a tubal ligation, (which our tax dollars pay the medical bills) the government is the only insurance that will pay to reverse the operation so the “mother” can bear more children.
            Reform, respect, and a return to a time when a person is responsible for his or her own actions would be a welcome relief to the older generations. A time for cohesiveness and recognition that we are a country united, not separated and not pointing a finger at society for all of our woes and imagined wrongs.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Col. Sanders Visits PNC Park

            Yesterday, I went to PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with some friends to watch the Pirates play baseball. I had so much fun the last time I visited in September wearing my Col. Harlan Sanders attire. I decided to give it another go. I had to hunt through my closets and storage bins to reassemble it. The shirt, lab jacket, and ribbon tie were together hanging in the closet. My white canvas belt, a left over from my stint in the Navy, and my white pants were in another closet. All I needed was the cheap white fedora that I found at a Party Store.
            The hat remained elusive as I ironed my shirt and my pants. I don’t mind ironing, but these pants are a real torture to press the wrinkles out. I am not sure of the material, but even folded and flat on a closet shelf, they looked like a white prune. Even with them sprayer with water and Magic Spray Sizing, getting the wrinkles out was a real chore. It was easier to iron a wrinkle into the cloth than to iron some out. Finally, everything was assembled, except the hat. I finally gave up and went to church for the Wednesday night services.
            I thought when I came home to search one more time. I looked through areas I had searched earlier. Old man, old eyes, I might have missed something. I was a man on a mission and didn’t forget what I came into a room looking for. Trudging up the stairs, I walked into the room where I’d been ironing hours earlier. Casting my eyes around the room, I saw the prize, my hat. It was nestled in a plastic bin. I placed papers on top of it to clear my ironing board. From the new angle, I could see it through the side of the bin.
            I was told that I was on television at the Park, but I’m not sure. I haven’t see it, but I was asked to pose with several people at PNC, but the most photo ops came at the Eat & Park restaurant in New Stanton. The manager came out and asked to take one of me. There were two women who sat near and we began to chat. They thought that it was funny, and I sat in a pose at their table, before leaving.
            At the end of the day, I was very tires, but I had a wonderful day with my friends.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I'm thinking about entering this short story for a contest. I would like some feedback as to what you think.

 Her Beauty

 She stepped onto the streetcar. Her long tresses cascaded over her shoulders in shimmering chestnut waves. The brightness of her smile immediately filled the coach with sunshine. The smile seemed to be directed at me. With amazing grace, she dropped her money into the change box and sauntered down the aisle. She stopped.
“Is this seat taken?” she asked.
I gl...anced around. The bus was nearly empty and yet she chose the seat beside me.
“N-n-n-o-o,” I managed to stammer.
She slid into the seat. Her delicate scent filled my nostrils. The hem of her skirt moved. I could see the seam of her stocking hugged the curve of her calf.
“I’m on my way home,” she shared, coyly glancing at me.
I felt a lump in my throat and couldn’t speak. She was so beautiful.
“My husband isn’t home at present,” she murmured and placed her slender hand on my thigh.
My breath caught in my throat. My brain began to spin as her heady perfume captivated me and the full meaning of her suggestion sank in.
She slid her hand up and down my thigh, stirring a warm feeling in my loins.
The bell sounded as the streetcar came to a stop. Taking my hand, she led me down the aisle and off the coach. I held a discarded newspaper in front of me to avoid embarrassment.
She closed and locked the apartment door behind her. Pulling me close, she whispered in my ear, “What can I get you for supper, dear?”
“Whatever you want, but tomorrow it’s my turn to pick you up on the trolley.”

Friday, April 8, 2016

Since there is so much racial tension and prejudices floating around at present, I thought I'd share this story. I hope that it's accepted that even the KKK can be seen with humor.
I was stationed in the Great Lakes naval facility for basic training. We went everywhere with our sister company. Isn’t it strange that they would call two groups of men sisters? We marched everywhere together: to the chow hall, classes, firing range, etc. We were on the first floor of the barracks, separated by a small courtyard sharing a common entrance, for and the bathrooms were connected, aft.
Our company commander was tough, but fair, while the company commander of our sister company was a real bear. He rode them hard without any leeway. Breaks for cigarettes were almost non-existent. He had pushed them to the end of their collective rope. We were hearing rumors that our sister company was going to assault and kill their company commander. Being their sister company, we felt if they did something like that, we’d be stuck in the Great Lakes until the investigation was over.
We couldn’t allow that to happen. The powers that be wouldn’t accept that we had nothing in it or that we knew nothing about it. It would take months. We had to do something before it was too late.
The majority of our sister company was black. An idea slowly formed. We had to break the tension and make them laugh or at least make them smile.
Late one evening, just before lights out, we snatched the sheets form our beds, pulled the cases off our pillows, and started towards the entrance to our sister companies bunk area. We wrapped ourselves in the sheets and put the pillow cases on our heads. We left our faces uncovered, so they would recognize us and not be more upset. Two by two, arm in arm; we marched down the main aisle between the lines of their bunks.
At first they looked shocked, surprised, and then confused. They saw the smiles on our faces and started to recognize us for who we were and not the KKK. They started to laugh. It was great to hear their laughter following us as we exited their sleeping area at the far end and through the adjoining bathrooms. As the last of us were leaving, we heard them clapping.
The next day, our sister company was much more relaxed. Both companies made it through basic training without further incident

Monday, April 4, 2016

Attending a Hanging

            Most of Saturday afternoon, I was in the Ligonier Valley Library, Ligonier Pennsylvania helping to sort and frame some of the late photojournalist, Charles (Chuck) Martin’s photographs for his widow, Sally Martin. After the task of framing, the collection was hung and put on display for the public to view. There is an open house reception Tuesday 5 April 2016 at 6:30 p.m.
            The collection displays a large array of subjects, many photos of the rich and famous, as well as shots from the Hill district of Pittsburgh immediately after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. He was the only photojournalist to capture this potentially dangerous boiling pot for posterity.

            Chuck and Sally co-wrote an interesting book on his family’s struggle to clear the wilderness, build a home, and settle in southwestern Pennsylvania, between Greensburg and Mount Pleasant. The book goes into detail describing the difficulties the family had with the Native Americans and the government. They were thrown out and burned, only to return and rebuild.

            Sally Martin is no shrinking violet either. She has bicycled around the world, literally, as well as swimming, running, and skiing in triathlons. Her effort has won many honors and quite a few medals. She is into her eighties and still competes and won medals in the senior citizen Olympics throughout America and abroad.
            This pair was a very active and astute couple, pushing the boundaries of life, even while raising their children and creating a home for them all. Their snug cabin hideaway is located in the Laurel Highlands, not too far away from my home. I have been fortunate enough to become acquainted with them both. Chuck passed away before I got to know him well, but I have been blessed to know Sally as a dear friend.