Monday, October 31, 2016

It’s for the Kids
This past Saturday, I went to the annual masquerade party that is hosted by a young couple who have several wonderfully mischievous boys. Many of their relatives have younger children as well. It’s a party to replace the usual Halloween trick or treat scenario. The food is provided as a potluck affair with  games and prizes for everyone who might attend. Many of the adults dress up in costumes as well as the children. It’s remarkable at the creativity that is displayed. One woman came dressed in sliver sparkle with a silver topper for a hat. She was the Lord’ Stanley’s Cup and her husband had a Pittsburgh Penguin hockey player. Because of my beard, I chose to dress as an Amish gentleman with a straw hat and black suspenders.
One couple came as the Walking Dead. We even had a newborn that was dressed as Batbaby with a miniature cape. Some of the kids wore princess costumes and some boys were dressed as military in camouflage fatigues. There was even a clown. Star Wars characters, a few people wore scary masks, and some folk just wore Halloween inspired T shirts.

A wide range of desserts and all sorts of other foodstuffs covered two large tables. The variety was a vast smorgasbord. There was something for everyone’s palate. I made a double batch of the broccoli/ cauliflower/ onion/ cheese/ and chopped bacon salad and took it in a clean, bright orange child’s sand bucket. I thought of using a kid’s sand shovel to serve the salad, but the handle was so very short and the bucket was deep. Instead, I took a long handled serving spoon. Yesterday in the evening as I was putting food into my refrigerator, what did I spy but that darn shovel? How I missed seeing it earlier in the day I’ll never know, but I’m about ready to sign the papers for my stay at the funny farm.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Peppered with Assaults
With election time drawing nearer and nearer, the television and radio seem to be a constant bombardment of political advertisements. It is a barrage on nearly non-stop attacks and mud-slinging. The messages mirror the entire realm of the media. It was once said, “Good news doesn’t sell newspapers” and the political attempts to capture the attention of potential voters prove that. It makes me glad that I have a remote control for the television set. Then I am just as likely to switch to another political ad or to some of the idiotic commercials that seem aged at the feeble minded or children’s level of understanding.
Slowly, the boob tube wears away at intelligence and seems intent on reducing us all into “sheeple.” They want people that will follow and not lead.  They are desirous to create a culture that cannot make up their own minds. People who will rush out to vote or to buy the product touted in the commercial.
People, we need to teach our youth responsibility as well as their God given rights. Unless becoming serfs or slaves of the government is what we desire, we must be on the alert for those who wish to trade away our freedoms for a few trinkets that further enslave us; things that make us dependent on the government and the whims of the leader at that time. Like Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of beans, will we trade the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution away for free phones, free food, and free housing.

These things aren’t free. The government must take the money to pay for these things from those who work and pay taxes to distribute it to those who don’t work. It is the reason that Socialism has never worked. Capitalism may not be perfect, but it was the foundation on which our great nation was built. Remove that and we too shall collapse.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Repairs Done
With the recent wind and rain storms, I had some damage to my house. It was nothing as severe as those who had a tree fall onto their homes or had flooding, but it did pry loose two sheets of the vinyl siding. I would have tried to repair it myself, except that the loosened pieces were near the peak of my house on the “high” side, which is nearly three stories to the damaged area. I do have some ladders, but none of them were long enough to reach that high. Home owner’s insurance would have laughed at me, had I called them to report it.
Yesterday, I had a young man and his dad bring their ladder and to do the repair. Because they had the ladder long enough to reach the project, they were finished in about twenty minutes, loaded the ladder back onto the truck, and they were gone. The repair was done. The wayward siding had been nailed back into place and the cracks caused in the siding were caulked to prevent any further damage by rain water leaking in.
I had a few small pieces of siding left over from the time my wife Cindy and I had the siding put on. It was to replace the pale sickly green color on the house originally, with a sandy-gray siding. I got the left over pieces out in case they would be needed to patch any damaged areas of the vinyl. I was surprised at the difference in the color. The weathered siding was a paler. Its hue was whitened when compared to the pieces that had been stored away from the weather.

It made me think. We humans are much like that. We get weathered from day to day storms and sunshine. We age and become more brittle than when we were born. Storms and yes, even the sunshine wear at our bodies and sometimes at our minds. But there is hope. One day we can toss this old, patched body away and receive a new one in heaven.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Never Land
What I can’t understand are those people who say, “I will never vote for----.” This bothers me on many levels. The first is that is not just a right to vote, but it is a responsibility for all citizens to cast ballots for the persons that they feel will give them the government that is necessary for law and order and for the life they want to live.
The second types are those who say I will never vote for either candidate, yet in comments or other means of posts and always slant their remarks, post, memes, etc. slighting one candidate or another. Thus they tacitly support one candidate over the other, lending an intentional confirmation of one candidate, while ignoring the evils of the other person.
The third types are those who waiver between the candidates, not really supporting nor opposing either candidate, even going so far as to support unknowns who have more of a chance at becoming president than by winning the lottery or by being struck by lightning. (I had an aunt who was struck by lightning three times, lucky her.)

Some candidates have done criminal deeds that disqualify a run for office, some have said things that are very tasteless and mean, and some have just come out from under the woodwork to run for office. Put the media hype aside, pray about it and listen to your heart. What I am saying is please get out and vote. Don’t belly ache after it is over. Your vote may have sweng the pendulum the other way. Thanks.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Out of Power
Last night, when I got home from my writer’s meeting, everything was dark after the storm. Rain, wind, and lightning all around, some even had trees and limbs broken, but here only the electrical power was off and I came home to a dark house. I lit candles and an oil lamp. The lighting of the oil lamp reminded me of a winter storm in my youth that knocked the power out for days.
My mom and dad had an oil heater and we couldn’t heat our house, but we could allow the water from the gravity fed spring water to trickle and prevent the pipes from freezing, but not the people. SO, they packed us up and moved in with my grandmother Rebecca Miner who still had and used a coal furnace in the basement and a wood stove to cook on in the kitchen. What she didn’t have was water. It was brought up to the house with an electric pump.
My dad, my uncle Ted, and I carried water in buckets from the springhouse to drink, wash, and to flush the commode. By this time, the outhouse was used in an emergency only. We had a great time. It was the longest amount of time that I’d ever spent at my grandmother’s. Oil lamps provided the light at the dining room table to play Parcheesi, dominoes, and sometimes to just talk. The warmth of the kitchen wood stove seemed to radiate into that room, creating a cozy nest. Somehow, the food tasted better, cooked on the cast iron monster and grandma’s recipes always had a better flavor.

It was almost with a sad heart when we returned home after the power was restored. Soon after that, Dad installed a wood burning fireplace and we never were “forced” to stay at Grandma Miner’s huge farmhouse.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Rant Day
It gets to be so frustrating when Yahoo or any other company sticks pop-up ads on their sites. It interferes with reading a message, sending a message, or even getting into the e-mails. It is so very frustrating to have the constant barrage of advertisers throwing their wares into my face. I have decided to avoid any and all of the products and services these offensive and intrusive they have to offer.
The most irritating thought was one ad I saw was from Yahoo saying they would eliminate this barrage of advertisements for a fee. They not only wanted to accept money from the advertisers, but then wanted me to pay them to stop the storm of solicitations. Remarkable, now, this is what I call a greedy, capitalistic company. Thank-you Yahoo, I’m not against Capitalism, when there is something of value being produced, that actually benefits the consumer.
Let’s move on to television ads. They have become longer and more asinine. Stupidity now reigns king. There are a few that still are able to impress, but most appeal to a weak-minded first grade student. The actors that they use most times nauseate me. Choosing hare brained individuals to be their spokespersons, like the Sonic idiots in the car, the talking dog commercials, or the Farmers Insurance scenarios. Can’t they just share the quality of their products without the “entertainment?”
Another television intrusion is the repeated bombardment of the campaign ads, McGinty vs Toomey and Hillary’s constantly frustrating “improvements” on her stance for women and minorities or Trump’s plans for his vision of America. Although, I must say, Trump’s ads are fewer, while Hillary’s, because there are so many more of them, are a constant grating on the nerves.

The infomercials: how many people actually sit and watch them for the half hour advertisement of health insurance, skillets, rotisseries, exercise DVDs, vacuums, and so many others. I would have to be completely out of my mind either before or after I watched them. Arrgghhh!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Worn and Weary
When I rolled out of bed this morning, I felt my age with aching in my hands and legs. It was the result of two days standing on my feet, leaning over hot griddles, and frying sausage. I have volunteered at the Ohiopyle Fire Department, for almost forty years, working my way up from hand washing dished, through frying buckwheat and pancakes, to frying potatoes, and finally to frying sausage. The griddles are not the kind that people have at home, but rather large sheets of iron measuring thirty inches by twenty-two inches. Each griddle holds up to forty-eight sausage patties. There are two lines of griddles, six to a side. One side starts the frying process until there are spaces on the finishing griddles to accept and complete the cooking process.
Finished sausages are places in large roasters as soon as the meat patties are cooked through. There they are kept at an even temperature until they are whisked away to be served in the two serving areas. The two serving areas have people who bake the buckwheat cakes and the pancakes and the home fry potatoes for that group of diners.

The people come through in such steady streams, that those why fry the cakes can barely keep up, their eight griddles are always hot and in constant use. As soon as the cakes are fried, women plate them with the sausage and send them out by others who carry the food to the eagerly waiting customers. Syrup, applesauce, and bread and butter pickles are already on the tables. Soon, a steaming bowl of the home fries join the fare. Attentive wait persons keep plates full of cakes until the person is filled with food. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Weight of Waiting
If you can recall your anticipation as a child, waiting for Christmas morning to arrive, you can understand my title, The Weight of Waiting. Feeling the burden that you as a child carried as days seemed to drag when you could finally see what was wrapped and tucked beneath the Christmas tree. That is feeling that I am going through right now.
Over the last several days, I have read and reread the proof for my next book as I tried to eliminate any and all errors. The mistakes can be missed or misplaced punctuation, skipped words, or even improper spacing. I eliminated the ones that I found. Sometimes I change words to further clarify what I am trying to share with my readers. It isn’t an easy task to have you see what I actually see in my mind, then write it down to fully convey that vision to you. I spent most of the past two days adjusting the proof and rewriting it to get the bulk of the work done before submitting it again.
With design help for the cover, I changed the front cover presentation to have a black border and a black colored spine with white lettering. It isn’t exactly what I wanted, but neither was the cover for my last book, the Christmas series of Tommy Two Shoes Mysteries. My editor had the first two books done in subdued hues with the mismatched shoes as the identifying brand, the familiar recognizable trademark for the series. My editor decided to do the Christmas cover in bright colors. That in itself didn’t bother me, but she changed the mismatched brown shoes to a pair of brightly colored, mismatched bedroom slippers. She completely disappointed me, making the change without consulting me.
Because of that, I decided to try my hand at self publication. It means more work for me and possibly more mistakes in grammar etc. but the stories are still very entertaining and hopefully pleasurable for you to read. I’m also trying to keep costs down so my readers can afford it. That wasn’t happening with my other books. The price that I pay seemed to climb each time I ordered through her, that cut into the little profit that I made on each book.

So, this is my first attempt to publish on my own without the middle man, or should I say middle woman? I resubmitted my finished book to Create Space this morning. Now, I have to wait as they review it and let me know if it is fit for publication and when it will be ready for me to sell.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Retired and Busier Than Ever
When I looked forward to retirement, I thought that it would be a time of relaxation and for the past ten years or more I collected books that I thought I would enjoy. I would take my tile and be able to read them. It hasn’t worked out that way. With an empty house, except for the cat, I always have something that needs to be done, cooking, washing clothes, vacuuming, or dusting. Then there are the three writers groups and meetings twice a month for both. I have this blog spot and have been working on a compendium of stories for my newest book, Partners for Life. It is another in the Tommy Two Shoes Mystery series. I am working to read and make any changes in the proof, before it goes to the printers.
I am also busy writing new stories as they pop into my head. Sometimes they come in bits and sometimes in larger sections. As I see things that inspire me, I write Haiku. I am self taught and probably don’t adhere to the strictest of the Haiku rules, but I really like to share what I see in that form.
I had one person comment on a story I wrote about a gambler turned into a reluctant sleuth, that I should write travel brochures. It is because I want the persons reading my words to see what my mind’s eye sees, so I am very descriptive.
I have meals once a month with the retired nurses of Frick and the occasional luncheons with the retirees of Frick. I manage to squeeze in some volunteer work as well as doctors appointments and shopping. This weekend, I will spend some time in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania at the Sausage, Pancake, and Buckwheat Cake festival to support their volunteer fire department, October 14, 15, and 16.

I think I’ll get a job and retire from retirement.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Just One of Those Mornings
Yesterday was a very busy day and I am feeling it this morning. I was deprived of my usual nap time and was busy almost all day. When I first got awake, sometimes a struggle in itself, I perused my Facebook page to check on friends and family who have been near or in the path of Hurricane Matthew. My thoughts and prayers are still concentrated on you all. After spit-polishing my old body, I found the least wrinkled shirt hanging in my closet, then a pair of pants to match, Still looking for minimal wrinkles: breakfast, teeth brushing, shaving, and finally running a brush through my hair before heading off to church.
The Seedline Ministry families were still there with the 5,210 books of Romans and John which we’d assembled on Saturday morning. These booklets of the Gospel will probably end up in Mexico City. We were told that seven people; will on average read each and one of those seven will get saved.
After the church service, Sunday school then I hurried to get ready for the picnic at Rector for the Laurel Valley Writers Group. There was a myriad of potluck foods. Even sampling a small spoonful of each, I came away wishing that it was winter so I could find a place to hibernate. After the meal, many read excerpts from their writings or new books. It was time to drive home, dropping off a friend.
I barely had time to unload my car and store the leftovers of my turkey rice casserole and my caramel apple crumble before it was off to Sunday evening services. Finally home again, I planned on going to bed, but was lured into watching the debate. I was up until the end and the most exciting thing was when an innocent fly descended from heaven to land on Hillary’s forehead.

Today, I am sore and have had a plethora of phantom smells assaulting me. The phantom smells are the aftermath of my fall in 2015 and the two bleeds in my head. It seems as though the strong, hot plastic smell is in the lead so far.

Friday, October 7, 2016

I Want Proof
Yesterday, I received in the mail the proof book from Create Space. I am trying to self-publish my newest collection of stories that have sprung from my brain about the retired Pittsburgh police homicide detective, Tommy Two Shoes. The proof is the initial publication that a writer purchases so the he or she can review it for any mistakes in the writings like missed words, repeated words, spacing, and extra or missed punctuation. Believe me, I have just started and have found quite a few changes that need made already and have just started to check the second story. Some of the changes just clarify the sentence, some are replacement words that better tell what you are trying to say, and others are added thoughts. I am also able to see the front and back covers and will decide whether or not I want to make any changes there.

A lot of work has already gone into the books that I’ve written and by doing the self edit, I am hoping to keep the costs low for those who want to buy my books, but I can see the amount of work my former editor has done to produce a print worthy copy to publish.I definitely salute her.

I wouldn’t be as far along as I am without the help of two writing friends, Patricia Slye and Jan McLaughlin. Pat has several “life event” books sharing the wisdom that she’s earned over her lifetime of facing pain and happiness. Jan writes books of “how to” poetry, sharing the rules of creating prose, rhyme, and beauty. The rules were gathered after many hours of research. Even Jan’s cat has a book out. I wish my cat was that smart.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I am trying to write a scary story for the October display at the  public library in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. I do mysteries but not horror. This is what I wrote, but I'm not sure if I'll use it. What do you think?
Older and Wiser
Widowed and aged, she feared tonight’s visit from the Druid priests. They would soon be at her door demanding food, drink, and tribute. It was their usual fees for their intervention with the Celtic gods. If their requests were not met, they would find a way to exact payment in some way or some form. They were not easily deterred nor were their memories of imagined slights easily forgotten.
For hours, they would gather in a nearby oak grove with thick masses of mistletoe clinging to the oak’s ancient branches. At the center clearing of the grove, they would build a large fire and chant as they danced, preparing for the darkness of night. Beating on human skin drums and playing eerie tunes on ivory hued flutes made of men’s leg bones, they directed their worship to Anextiomarus, the protector god, to Ankou, the god of death, and to the goddess of fertility and abundance, Rosmerta.
It was rumored that the instruments they used in their worship ceremonies came from victims of the priests wrath and the candles that they used were made from the tallow and fat of those who failed to pay tribute for that protection. The priests always arrived on All Hallows Eve carrying the candles. Their hooded faces would be dark and lost in the shadows of the candles’ reflectors.
This year, the old woman’s pantry was especially sparse. She would have barely enough food to survive the winter. How could she keep the little provisions that she had?
She sat to think as her small barley cake baked in the hot coals of her fire. The cake almost burned as she was lost, seeking an answer to her problem. The room darkened as the night drew nearer, Was there a way to save her food?
“Berries,” she exclaimed. “I have a few dried red strawberries yet.” Quickly, she ground them and added water. She must hurry. Surely they would be at her door soon. She barely finished with her plan when there was a loud pounding on her door. She lifted the latch and offered them the small barley cake from her hearth.
The priest closest to her moved nearer to see the proffered item. The flickering light from the candle fell on the old woman’s face and hands. He backed away. “Pox!” he shrilled. “The old woman has the pox.”
When they’d gone, she closed the door, and laughed. Wiping the berries from her face and hands, she smeared the berries on her cake. “This will be a sweet treat for me tonight.”

Monday, October 3, 2016

Awake, Now to Write
I was wakened this morning by the electric hiccough of my digital alarm clock. You know, the soft sound the alarm makes right before it blares “good morning” even when the alarm isn’t set. I lifted my head, glared across my pillows and saw “6:45” staring back at me in its angry red numerals. Maybe it’s upset that I didn’t turn the alarm on or it may be upset that I may decide to ignore it and go back to sleep for a few more minutes. I’ll never know, because I don’t really care.
I don’t think I’ll be going out today unless my outlook on life changes. I’m not in a particularly grouchy mood, but I had a restless night, mouth breathing and waking several times for the old man emptying of my bladder and a desert dry mouth. I try not to leave the house when have a grumpy, ungrateful attitude. I’ve decided that no one likes dealing with a grumpy old man. So you may approach me if you see me out on the street or shopping at Wal-Mart, because I’m at least in a tolerable mood.
Today is my daughter Anna and her husband James first wedding anniversary. Yes, I did remember after looking on the calendar to see everything else that occurs in late September and early October. So, they have their card before the event actually occurs.  I missed my other daughter Amanda’s wedding anniversary, but did get a card in her hand afterward. At the same time I gave her the card for her husband Eric’s birthday and for their daughter Hannah’s birthday before the actual event.

I looked at my calendar and am cowering at my schedule for the next few weeks. Doctor’s appointments, meetings, and volunteer work at the Ohiopyle Fire Department’s Sausage, Buckwheat, and Pancake Festival. It is an event that I love to hate. I am worn out after frying sausage for two days, hanging over a hot griddle for nearly ten hours each day. I have served in some capacity at this event for nearly forty years. My father-in-law cajoled me into it as I stared to date his daughter, Cindy. Sge’s now a memory, but the work continues.