New Book
Sunday, January 11, 2015

I’ve written a fantasy novella titled Meld and placed it on Amazon. If you subscribe to kindle unlimited, the novella is free.

I’m experimenting with different genres and thought the novella might be an interesting way of testing the waters without spending a year of my life writing and re-writing a full-length novel. The characters I used in the novella have been around for years, old friends from a two volume tome penned as I was learning the craft of writing. The story is new and directed at the young adult market, but fun for kids of any age, 8-80. If you like action and adventure with the occasional elf thrown into the mix, give it a try.

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Happy, Happy
Saturday, December 20, 2014
I’d like to wish everyone a happy holiday and a prosperous new year. I’ve been away from the blog for several weeks. Between writing projects and holiday festivities, the days have slipped comfortably by. My best wishes go out to everyone. Live long and well, love lots and don’t worry if you forget where you parked the car. That happens to all of us.

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Help!
Sunday, November 09, 2014

I haven’t done a lot of marketing for White Ginger and Black Karma. I was told by my publisher that after my having written the books, it was their job to market and sell them. In light of their success, I’d like to ask everyone who likes the books to go out and tell the world.

If you’re a member of Goodreads and you like the books, or even if you don’t like them, please go out and rate them, maybe even write a review-the same for Amazon. If you rate the books and write reviews, others will know whether or not to buy a copy. Let me and the world know what you think of White Ginger and Black Karma.

I appreciate your support.

Thanks.

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Hello Finland
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I’ve been tracking my web site activity since its inception. I look at time spent on the site and what part of the world my visitors hale from. As a result, I’d like to give a special shout out to my fans in Finland and the Netherlands. I’m not sure why White Ginger is popular in that part of the world, but thanks for buying my book and visiting my site. I love you guys.

To the individual who found my site using the search phrase, ‘everywhere I go a bald man is watching,’ I’d just like to say that I didn’t intend to follow you. It was purely coincidental. Sorry.

And to the individual who found my site using a search phrase about sitting inappropriately in grandpa’s lap, I’d suggest you seek counseling. Those kinds of thoughts can lead directly to prison. Unless you want to end up being Curly’s bitch in cell block B, I’d suggest you get help.

To everyone else who visits this blog-thanks. I appreciate you all.

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Summer's Lament
Sunday, October 12, 2014

The wind is blowing. Fall is here, and I’m wondering where summer went. Summer always comes too late and leaves to soon, an unrequited love that always leaves me wanting more: more sticky sweat, more sweltering heat, more summer.

The thought of rain and bitter wind makes me want to run away from home-to Hawaii, where cold weather is counted in minutes and not months. I yearn to bask on a white sand beach beneath a tropical sun with a cold beer nestled in my hand. I want to read a little of Walter Mosely’s Fearless Jones, or maybe some classic Raymond Chandler, while sweat runs into my eyes and the sun bakes my shoulders. And while I read, I’ll sip on icy beer, and the world will slip away to be replaced by the grimy streets of L.A., where crooked cops and bent dames will make me forget all about that cold, merciless bitch, winter, lurking just around the corner.

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Black What?
Saturday, October 04, 2014

Black Karma
is off to a good start with some smashing reviews!

A year ago, I’d have been beside myself trying to figure out where I was going to spend all of that money. I now know better. Good reviews don’t always translate into good sales.

The successful publishing and marketing of a book takes a bit of talent and a whole lot of luck. The public first has to find your book before they can fall in love with it. There are about six million titles on Amazon. (I know this because when a new book is put on the site, it gets last place.) The chance of a reader somehow stumbling across your masterpiece of wit and charm is miniscule.

Although the reviews are great, they’re typically not read by the general public. Those reading Publisher’s Weekly tend to be book store owners trying to decide how to stock their shelves. Kirkus Reviews is reputed to be a source for Hollywood producers looking for potential scripts. The Library Journal and Booklist give librarians a glimpse of what to order in advance of publication.

Of all the reviews, the starred review from Library Journal will probably have the biggest impact for Black Karma. The number of libraries ordering it will directly affect its market penetration. The White Ginger series may not be a hot topic today, but a year from now when libraries across the country have Black Karma on their shelves, a whole lot people are going to know Bai Jiang and, hopefully, like her.

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I am the Grasshopper
Saturday, September 20, 2014

When I was younger, I worried a lot. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. As it turns out, I worried needlessly. I never managed to grow up.

As a young man, I carried my toothbrush in the pocket of my Levi jacket, never knowing where I’d be the next morning. I could put everything I owned on the back of my motorcycle.  Life was simpler. Decisions were based on need. When money got tight, I cut back on toilet paper to buy beer. I didn’t have much, but I had a lot of friends and a lot of fun.

Adults have to be responsible. If you have children, the responsibilities sometimes take precedence over dreams and ambitions. Let’s face it. A responsible adult goes to the same job every day to provide a stable income for their family. They show an inner strength and fortitude I apparently lack. I didn’t just change jobs on a regular basis; I changed professions.

I’ve worked as a tax auditor, sous chef, postman, street-cleaner, stockbroker, hairdresser, programmer, project manager, corporate executive, and writer. I’ve also had a number of what might be considered pre-occupations, but they don’t bear mentioning, as some of them were embarrassing and others so transitory as to be negligible.

What I’ve finally come to realize is that I am the Grasshopper, still fiddling around and having fun, and wondering what I want to be when I grow up.


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Jamaica Time
Saturday, August 09, 2014

I’ve fallen into the habit of going to Temple. No, not that one!  Four or five days a week I find myself at Temple Coffee, a local roaster who gained fame a few years ago by roasting what was judged to be the best coffee in the country. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m addicted; others might.

I luvva my coffee.

Some years back, I spent time in Jamaica. When I arrived, I noticed Jamaicans sitting by the side of the road watching the cars go by. The sight amused me. A week later, with nothing to do--which pretty much sums up life in Jamaica--I found myself sitting next to the road with friends watching cars go by.

So, what does Jamaica have to do with coffee?

The feeling is the same. I sit outside Temple with my cup of coffee to watch the cars and people go by with a sense of contentment. I’m not in any hurry to get anywhere. I’ve learned one place is much like another because wherever you go, there you are.

If doing nothing is an addiction then Betty Ford here I come!

Sometimes, in a flurry of mental activity, I might think about writing, but mostly I just sit and live in the moment. I’m a sloth in the morning, so my natural biorhythm lends itself to doing nothing, which I’ve learned to carry off stylishly. With my feet on the railing and my hands folded around my cup as if I’m praying, I watch life pass me by, grateful for the luxury of doing nothing.

Let the rest of the world scurry around. I’ve found my calling.

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King of the Litter Box
Saturday, July 26, 2014

Oh…the glamorous life of an author! Having to attend endless cocktail parties and speaking engagements. Being followed around by adoring fans.  And, don’t forget the money--huge gobs of the green stuff. In my dreams.

If only reality would comply. In my fantasy world, I’m the king of the world; in reality, I’m the king of the litter box.

We have two aging cats, both of them large, around twenty pounds. The thing about big cats is they eat a lot. I’ve discovered the more you feed them, the more they poop. I wanted to try not feeding them; my wife, the cat lady, took exception. Of course, she doesn’t clean the litter box.

As our cats age, they’ve become more eccentric (kind of like us). Our black-and-white, Jordan, is having trouble keeping track of her own ass. During the last year, she’s made a habit of peeing over the side of the litter box, not an easy feat considering there’s a lid on it.

After Jordan misses the sandbox, she's a lady, so she feels compelled to bury her mistake. This requires her to throw all of the sand in the sandbox…out of the sandbox. It’s my job to clean it up because no mess it too nasty, no poop too stinky for the poop master.

We go through a lot of kitty litter. I’m convinced they call it kitty litter to distract consumers from realizing they’re buying ridiculously expensive buckets of dirt, which cats obligingly toss out as if they were on the manufacturer’s payroll. I’m having trouble determining who the sucker in this scenario is, though the scales are tipping precariously in my favor.

Anyway, if you’re an aspiring writer, let me give you some advice. Get yourself a metal scooper. The plastic ones aren’t worth shit.

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Cheers
Saturday, July 12, 2014

I’ve received my first official request to sign books. Of course, friends have asked me to sign their copies, but since I’m a new author, bookstores haven’t been clamoring for my attention. The Avid Reader in Davis has asked me to perform a reading and sign books November 14, ten days after the release of the sequel to White Ginger, Black Karma.

Attending book readings probably isn’t high on anybody's list of evening entertainments. Personally, I've found listening is a lot less tedious with a glass in hand. Not to brag, but after two or three drinks, I turn into one hell of a listener. Don’t let the glassy eyes and slack jaw fool you. I’m hanging on every word.

If anyone reading this is planning on attending my reading in November, you might consider getting liquored up first. After listening to me read, you’ll understand why. I’m just sayin' …

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Bee Food
Friday, July 04, 2014

I managed to hurt myself yesterday while repairing my pool pump.

As with all manly endeavors, the repair involved copious amounts of duct tape. I was leaning over to wrap the pipes from the pump to the filter. This chore required I straddle a pipe and bend from the waist at an odd angle to reach the base of another pipe. Everything went swimmingly-- until I tried to stand up.

The muscles in my lower back cramped. Since I work out, I’m accustomed to cramping muscles. This was different. This pain literally took my breath away. Unable to straighten up, I tried to bend back down. That didn’t work either. I was stuck.

I stood there in intense pain while trying to catch my breath. Since I wasn't able to stand up or sit down, I did the next best thing: I fell over. Like a tipped cow, I dropped onto the grass with a soft thud and lay there. I blinked while trying to catch my breath and thought to myself that as days went, I wasn’t having an especially good one.

As I lay prone on the freshly mowed lawn, two unrelated thoughts entered my mind. First, I wondered if the pain I was experiencing was anything like what women feel when birthing a baby. If so, I reflected how lucky I was not to be a woman. The next thing I wondered was how long it would take the meat bees to realize I was food. I could see and hear them buzzing nearby, the dirty little scavengers.

After about ten minutes of playing possum, I managed to get on all fours and crawl into the house. My wife was at the gym, which was just as well. I didn’t want to have to explain my predicament to her knees. I already felt sufficiently humbled.

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New Buzz
Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It’s been about three weeks since I shaved my head. My bald pate is now looking more like a military buzz-cut, which has dramatically changed my appearance and the effect it has on people. When my scalp glistened a marble white, people took notice. Their reactions have been interesting.

My wife, predictably, was appalled. She said she thought I looked like a skinhead then changed her mind and said I looked like a pinhead (She’s always been fickle). After three days, she started talking to me again. Actually she talked more about me than to me (She’s a generous woman and believes in sharing her opinions).

More interestingly was my brother's reaction: he was angry. He’s been losing his hair for several years and couldn't fathom why anyone would shave off a perfectly good head of hair.  I can kind of see his point, but I don’t see how my having hair in any way cancels out the fact that he’s losing his. It’s not like my hair would crawl over onto his head and offer empathy. That would just be creepy.

Strangers reacted in a variety of interesting ways. Women with small children crossed the street to avoid me. I was definitely getting negative energy from many people. Baldness is apparently associated with bad behavior, probably as a result of the skinhead movement, though I seem to recall a number of evil entities from the movies with shaved heads.

Other than children, who haven’t learned to judge people by how they look, only baldies readily accepted my shiny scalp. There’s a brotherhood of chrome-domes out there who aren’t nearly as judgmental as the general public. Either that or they’re just lonely, since people cross the street to avoid them.

The next time you see a bald guy. Run up and give him a hug! Bald guys need love, too.

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Who loves ya, baby!
Thursday, June 05, 2014

It’s summer. Sacramento has a long history of hot dry summers. 100 degree weather is typical. Some of us look forward to the blistering sunshine; others won't leave their air-conditioned houses.

Summer always has an odd effect on me. I get restless…and impulsive. Today, I was standing in front of the mirror wondering what I’d look like if I shaved my head.

No one was there to stop me.

The oddest aspect of having a shaved head isn’t the way it looks, though it is a drastic change, but how it feels. Putting my hand on my head and not having any hair to run my fingers through is really strange. I’m sure I’ll get used to it by the time my hair grows out. In the meantime, I spend a lot of time rubbing my naked head.

My wife says she won’t be seen with me until my hair grows out. I’m pretty sure she’s bluffing, but she’s more upset than I thought she’d be. In fact, she tries not to even look at me; she says I look like a pinhead. I reminded her I was a pinhead when she married me-just a pinhead with hair. She doesn’t appear to be amused. Go figure!

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Anti-Fan Mail
Wednesday, May 07, 2014

I got a disparaging email the other day from an anti-fan.


White Ginger: I\'m @ p. 80 & it\'s formula nonstop violence. CF. XXXXX  XXXXXX's By it\'s Cover, which in addition avoids gratuitous sex  & a phony chase.

The reader lodges complaints that he finds parts of White Ginger's plot to be personally distasteful, certainly the reader's right. Although I might dispute the existence of such a thing as gratuitous sex, I’ll admit there’s plenty of sex in White Ginger.  As for violence; the book does not change its tenor from page 80 and contains even more bloodshed in ensuing chapters.

As a male of the species, my first instinct is to throw gasoline on this fire and watch what happens (i.e.: tell the reader he’s full of shit and call it a day). As a reader of many books, however, I can understand this individual’s frustration. Not every book speaks to every reader. I can’t count the number of highly recommended books I couldn’t bring myself to finish because they simply didn’t appeal to me. We all have our preferences, our likes and dislikes.

So my advice to this disgruntled reader?--STOP!

Don’t feel compelled to subject yourself unnecessarily to a book that very obviously doesn’t appeal to you. Find a book that delights and thrills you.  White Ginger makes a wonderful gift.

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Spring Has Sprung
Friday, April 18, 2014

It’s spring.

I’m having a difficult time keeping my fancy from wandering. Like a cat chasing butterflies, sunshine tempts me away from the keyboard where I’m supposed to be writing a book. Spring fever is making the work drag on like a Joe Biden speech.

Even without weather-related maladies, writing a book is an endurance test. The first draft is the most difficult. You have to reach deep into your large colon and pull the story out piece by piece. A lot of pain is involved. If I’m lucky, I can finish a first draft in two to three months.

Once the first draft is complete, the revisions take place. The first set usually takes about a month. I look at each chapter to fill in missing plot lines and dialog while thinning out the ‘poo.’ This process takes about four hours for each chapter with around 50 chapters in a book. This work is less difficult than the actual writing but still demanding in a different way.

For the second set of revisions, I break the book down into four parts and take on ten or twelve chapters at a time. I read through the section as a whole as if I were the reader, critiquing continuity, pacing and the flow of the story. At this point I may need to delete entire chapters and write replacements. I force myself to be objective and distance myself during this process.  If a chapter is a ‘dud,’ it has to go. 

On the third, fourth and usually fifth set of revisions, I deal with the book as a whole. At this point I give the book to my circle of readers for feedback and start incorporating their perceptions of what is right or wrong into the book. I may need to alter the actions or the dialog of a character if they’re not realistic or consistent. This stage is critical in order to provide the reader with characters they love, and love to hate.

The process of writing, if you haven’t guessed by now, is a painful, frustrating, and sometimes tedious job. For me, it’s only when the box of author’s copies shows up on my doorstep that all the pain and effort seems worthwhile.

If you’re wondering why I’m telling you this, it’s because I’m avoiding writing my next chapter. My butt hurts from pulling out the first six chapters and I’ve got more than forty chapters left to write. Oh….there goes a butterfly!

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Shit Storm
Saturday, January 25, 2014

I was in project mode today. That’s what I call my mindset when I have a number of unpleasant tasks to perform and can’t procrastinate about doing them any longer. I develop tunnel vision, put my head down, and bull my way through. My mood turns ugly.

My wife came home while I was on a twelve-foot ladder replacing a bulb in the living room ceiling. I asked her to turn on the light, so she flipped on the hall light. I turned around to look at her and entertained some unkind thoughts. She’s a beautiful woman; I had to wonder if she’d always been stupid, and I simply hadn’t noticed.

Truthfully, my wife is brilliant. But, being in a surly mood, I had the temerity to voice my concern over her mental acuity. After thirty years of marriage, you’d think I’d know better. The comment started what I like to refer to as ‘a shit storm.’  I spent the rest of my day apologizing.

On project days, I should just duct tape my mouth shut. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a project day that didn’t end in regret. When I get surly, I like to share. As children, we’re taught to share; as an adult, I’ve found it’s sometimes best not to.

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Sicko
Saturday, January 18, 2014

I’ve been sick the last week with a head cold. The illness took me by surprise. I hadn’t been sick for about seven years and had forgotten how damned miserable I am when my skin bag refuses to function properly. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the little pleasures in life--like breathing. For the past week I’ve been sucking air intermittently, mostly through my mouth, a nasally wheeze that reminds me of the sounds an elephant seal makes.

My wife says I’m an impatient patient. She’s been spending a lot of time away from home to avoid murdering me. I’m pretty sure she could claim justifiable homicide. I’m one of those self-aware husbands who knows when he’s being an ass, but just can’t stop it. I’m thinking of nominating her for beatification. Do I need to be Catholic to do that?

Anyway, I’m back now, except for the tendency to doze off while sitting at the keyboard. My mind is no longer wrapped in a layer of cottony gauze, and my sights are set on writing the next literary masterpiece. I’m thinking of something along the lines of Moby Dick, only without the whale. And maybe a few hundred pages shorter. And possibly with a spaceship wedged into the story somewhere. The details are still a little fuzzy.

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Suicide by Cat
Thursday, January 09, 2014

It must have been really cold last night.

A lizard, a very small lizard, managed to inch its way under our door while we were asleep.

You might be wondering how I deduced the lizard’s ingress into our abode. It’s because my cats now spend hours staring at that door sill as if it were a toy dispenser, waiting for it to vend another wiggly plaything to amuse them. Our cats, who’ve shown little interest in the great outdoors, now whine to be let out…out, where wild game awaits them. They’ve developed a taste for lizard and want more.

If you’ve read the heading on this post, you know where this story is going. We found the mangled corpse in our master bath…and the hallway…and the kitchen. He must have put up one hell of a fight.

My wife was not impressed, nor amused. She takes a very womanly attitude toward such occurrences. I gave the little warrior a Kohler funeral, which is much like a Viking funeral, only the tide flushes in a counter-clockwise direction. He was a brave litttle lizard, and deserved a proper send-off.

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Lesson Learned
Sunday, December 29, 2013
When I was fourteen, my karate instructor asked me what I feared the most. I told him that I was afraid of getting hit in the face. Body blows didn’t bother me, but I’m partial to my face. He promptly punched me in the mug and I dropped like a felled cow. When I became lucid again, he said, “Your worst fear has come true. Now you have nothing to be afraid of.”

Of course, my karate instructor was full of shit. I still have a healthy aversion to being hit in the face. The swollen jaw and a bloody lip he gave me only seemed to reinforce my fear. But I did learn one thing. It’s always best to keep your mouth shut and your eyes open. Don’t make unnecessary noises that can cause you grief.

I forgot this lesson recently. While walking through Costco, I asked my wife what she wanted for Xmas. She shrugged and said, "I don't need anything."

I have to admit, I liked that answer. We were walking past the jewelry display and I jokingly said, “How about a pair of two-carat diamond earrings?”

My mouth has always gotten me into trouble.

As soon as I’d uttered those words, I wanted to take them back. But words are slippery. Once they’ve escaped, they’re damned hard to retrieve.

My wife turned on me and I could see the wheels spinning inside her head, calculations and projections only a woman might understand. She smiled sweetly and said, “Sure.”

I was toast, burned and crispy.


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Mad Ramblings
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I haven’t been paying much attention to the blog lately. The demands of writing and liberating scotch from the bottle have kept me pretty busy. That’s not an excuse. It’s more of a rationalization, which is a device writers use to deflect responsibility…kind of like an excuse.

White Ginger debuted October 8.

By October 9, I’d officially entered the phase of publishing referred to as ‘the lull-before-the-lull’. This is the time, post-debut, when nothing happens…just before nothing happens. I didn’t get a note from Ang Lee asking to direct the film version of my book, my publisher didn’t send me a check with lots of zeros, and women of any age didn’t want to sleep with me, not even my wife, who, admittedly, knows better.

So what entitlements come with being a ‘debuted author’, or, ‘debbie’? Well…the major benefit is that you’re now free to attend writer’s conventions. You can self-promote your work in an atmosphere similar to that of a shark frenzy, where there’s nothing to feed on but each other. These conventions are held almost daily somewhere and attract large crowds of debbies, who try to out-market each other, much to the delight of convention centers and hoteliers around the world.

Occasionally, you’re asked to ‘sign’ your book. I truly feel bad when someone asks me to sign a book. My writing is like chicken scratch, which is the primary reason I learned to type in the first place. After I’ve signed, they often look at the inscription with a puzzled expression, which reminds me of a scene in “A Day At The Races” where Chico sells one book after another to Groucho with the promise that each volume will interpret the previous one.

When a book’s owner looks at my chicken scratch in confusion, I wheel out the marketing. “You wanna know what it says? No problemo. Thissa book will explain everything. Only $9.95. But today, for you, I make a good deal. For you, only $12.95.  Thatsa 30% better, because you looka like a nice person.”



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Son-Of-A-Bitch
Sunday, September 08, 2013
I’ve taken down some of the blogs I’ve written.

When I read them, I found them self-serving and boring, so I trashed them. Instead, I’d like to write about my grandfather, a man who didn’t fit - not into a suit, a job, or society. He lived rough, which in those times meant he lived outside the law.

Thomas Morris, my grandfather, turned out to be something of a disappointment to his parents. At the age of ten, the authorities in Utah pronounced him "an incorrigible." At the time, reform schools didn’t exist, so he was sent to the Paiute Indian Reservation, a place so remote and desolate those in authority figured he could do no harm. And if he did, the Paiutes would just kill him and that would be the end of it.


To everyone’s surprise, Thomas thrived on the reservation. The Indians taught him how to ride and rope. They taught him how to survive in a land so barren and harsh rattlesnakes had difficulty sustaining life. Hardship turned the troubled youth into a steely-eyed, raw-boned man, who more resembled an Indian than he did his Welsh forebears. He rode the free range as a mustanger and liked to explain in graphic detail how he would ride a horse until it dropped then dig a hole and build a fire under it. If the horse didn’t get up, Grandpa ate it.

For some reason, my grandfather felt it was important for me to know how to survive in a harsh world. I have to admit, the lessons he taught still remain vivid in my memory.

His favorite horse, one he’d trained to come when he whistled, hated my grandfather and kept running away. He loved that stallion, a paint with white and dark markings. The third time he tracked the horse down, the stallion managed to avoid capture for three weeks. My grandfather crossed southern Utah into New Mexico to find that horse. When he finally caught up with the unfaithful steed, he put a bullet in its brain.

If you haven’t guessed by now, my grandfather was a self-proclaimed son-of-a-bitch. He didn’t particularly like anybody, but he liked me. By the time I was born, he’d already lived nearly sixty years and had mellowed, but not much. Men still feared him. Animals generally hated him. He didn’t care. He kept to himself, lived by his own rules and didn’t give a shit what anybody thought. Even as a small child, I liked him for that.

In mid-life, Thomas married a spinster and together they adopted my mother shortly after she was born. He and my grandmother, Rose, eked out a living on their small truck farm. They owned a cow, chickens and a couple of dozen sheep. They sold milk and eggs, sheared the sheep each spring and sold the wool. A quarter acre garden and fruit trees kept my grandmother bottling and canning through the summer and early fall. My grandfather buried apples under the dirt floor of the tool shed, layering the fruit with hay, so that when the ground froze they would have fresh apples through the winter. He showed me how to cut potatoes and cover them with lime for spring planting. The man couldn’t read or write; but if you set him out in the middle of nowhere naked, he’d survive.

His self-sufficiency served as a lesson for me. He didn’t need much to be happy. Freedom to do as he pleased meant more to him than money, or what money could buy. He liked to spend his afternoons playing poker with his grandson. When I’d catch him cheating, he’d storm off angrily.

If I’d been anyone else, he’d have thrown a fist. Of course, by that time no one else in town would play cards with him and he couldn’t very well hit a six-year-old, though he didn’t forego cheating one. I’d like to think the cheating was one of his life lessons, but from his reputation in town, he’d taught the same life-lesson to everyone he’d ever played cards with; that is, until they’d banned him from the card rooms and saloons for life, not so much for the cheating but for the fighting. His reputation as a drinker, a brawler and a dangerous man followed him into his later years.

Grandpa’s story, I’m sad to say, doesn’t end well. Symptoms of dementia became apparent in his late-sixties. Having always been a violent man, he and his illness proved more than anyone could handle. During his bouts of dementia, he’d relive barroom brawls and lash out with a fist or a boot. By the time he’d reached seventy, he’d kicked the shit out of more rest home orderlies and nurses than any man on the planet. Eventually, they strapped him in a chair and bound him hand and foot like a condemned man. He died that way, sitting in his own filth, a sad end to a proud man. By then, my grandmother had passed. My mother hated him. I might have been the only person in the world to feel sorry the old son-of-a-bitch was gone.  Most who knew him, I suspect, let out a long sigh of relief.

So what’s the point of this story? Thomas Morris wasn’t charming, educated or even likeable, but he was interesting. He lived a hard life and died an ugly death, and that six-year-old boy loved him, even if he was a son-of-a-bitch.

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Fuzzy Butts
Thursday, May 23, 2013
I woke up to find a mama duck and her ten ducklings in my swimming pool. They swam laps while I watched, curious as to how they’d managed to gain access to a fully-fenced lap pool.

As a rule, I prefer to remain duck-less. Not that I harbor resentment towards ducks. Quite the contrary. I find Peking Duck delicious. That’s not to say I’d eat a baby duck. I draw the line at eating babies By the same token, I feel they should refrain from shitting in my pool. A lap-swimmer will understand my revulsion. The rest of you will have to take my word that swallowing duck shit is a less than pleasant experience.

So, the trick is to get the ducks out of my pool without causing any undue stress to either me or the ducks. I try closing the pool cover but discover the only time a baby duck can exit the pool is when the pool cover is open and the ramp for the cover exposed. Baby ducks can’t fly and it turns out they’re lousy hurdlers.

  I store the cover away and usher the brood towards the slanted ramp. Mama duck walks up the ramp to stand on the brick deck of the pool. Ten baby ducks, one after the other, walk up the ramp and off the end to tumble into the storage well for the pool cover. Baby ducks, it turns out, are morons.

I rack my brain for a way to get the baby ducks out of the pool-cover well. Every time I reach down to snag one, they run under the pool cover in terror. I’m afraid to roll the cover out of the well for fear of crushing baby ducks. I have enough trouble sleeping at night
.
I finally find a tarp and make a long ramp out of soft material they can hop on. Eight of the baby ducks hop up the improvised ramp and rejoin their mother. Two of them huddle under the tarp and pretend they’re invisible, which requires I fish them out by hand. Then, quickly, before they can jump back into the pool, I roll out the pool cover, which actually just requires me to push a button and watch.

A sense of satisfaction settles over me for a job well done. Until, that is, Mama and her brood decide that if they can’t swim in the pool, they’ll just sit on the deck and wait. They’re not showing any indication of returning from whence they came.

I’ve wanted to use the word ‘whence’ for quite some time – sorry about that.

I try to get inside mama duck’s head, which is about the size of a walnut, to determine what might motivate her. For writers, motivation is very important. Like ducks, we’re pretty simple. Wave some green at us and we get overly-excited and pinch off a few pages. But as usual, I digress.

I figure what mama duck needs is a spirit guide to lead her to the land of grubs and greens. I go to the back fence and pry a board loose to show mama the glistening pool and lush foliage available right next door. Either pondering or defecating, Mama cocks her head to the side a moment before letting out a couple of quacks and heading straight for wetter real estate. After the last fuzzy butt has cleared the fence I drop the board back in place and prop a rock against it for good measure.

Life is splendid once again. It isn’t every day I get to help out a brood of ducks and, at the same time, stick it to the asshole who wouldn’t share the expense of a new fence.

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Wife wants a new mattress
Friday, April 12, 2013
My wife wants a new mattress. I’m not sure what the old one did to offend her, but I’m smart enough to leave the topic alone. My wife has her own set of beliefs. Historically, when I’ve questioned her motives, shit goes south in a hurry.
So…while shopping for mattresses, I’ve discovered that while I’ve been comfortably sleeping on my old mattress, which has finally achieved an indentation perfectly conforming to my body, the powers-that-be have devised a number of new technologies to make sleeping easier and my pocketbook lighter.
Mattresses now come in three basic categories: air, foam and spring. You can also find any combination of these to suit your tastes. And, while I was investing in gold, I apparently missed out on the foam market. The cost of a new mattress is approximately what I paid for my first new car. I’d feel better about the exorbitant price if the mattress came with a horn, a cup holder, and maybe a chrome bumper.
My research leaves me to wonder what happened to the waterbed? Some of my fondest memories revolve around riding the tsunami on rippling waves of warm and sweaty plastic. Much of my misspent youth was spent on a water bed. As ubiquitous as bean-bag chairs and strobe lights, everyone had one.
But I digress.
It seems that the only way to find the perfect mattress is to go flop down on one--give it a test drive, so to speak. The wife and I are trying to schedule a time to go flopping together. She seems hesitant. I suspect she knows I’ll embarrass her with inappropriate flopping. She knows me well.
To be continued…


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Theme Song
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
     In the spirit of innovative marketing, I’ve purloined written a theme song  for White
     Ginger.

     To the theme for “Shaft’

     Who's the Asian private dick?
     A paladin for all the chicks!
     (White Ginger!)
     You're damn right.

     Who’s the girl to front the man?
     A hero who don’t give a damn!
     (White Ginger!)
     Straight up, brother!

      Who's the girl that won't cop out?
      When there's danger all about,
      (White Ginger!)
      Right on

      You see this babe, Bai Jiang, is a bad mother--
      (Shut your mouth)
      But I'm talkin' about White Ginger
      (Then we can dig it)

      She's a complicated woman
      And no one understands her but her man
      (White Ginger!)


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Holy Shit
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I was driving home from the club after working out. A mid-afternoon rain had soaked the streets and a continuous drizzle darkened the day. As I came around the corner in my Volvo 123GT, the back wheels of the car lost traction in an oil slick.
When I'd configured the suspension on the little car, I set the weight on the front end so the back end would drift, which works fine when driving under dry conditions.  When it rains, the car has the stability of an elephant on ice-skates. Before I realized it, the car was spinning 180 degrees in what I’d consider a controlled drift; God, naturally, being the one in control. A mere bystander, I watched as my view out the windshield rotated from where I was going to where I’d been.
I suppose the look on my face must have been pretty similar to the expression on the guy in the car tailgating me. His eyebrows were locked above his hairline as his mouth made an ‘O,’ which I took for approbation of my driving skills. I could tell he was impressed.
When occurrences of this nature happen to me--with more regularity than I like to admit--I’m always surprised. Also, whenever this sort of entropy does occur, the only thought running through my head is, ‘Holy Shit!’ It seems that when my very existence is threatened, it would be more fitting to experience some kind of profound philosophical revelation--an eloquent and articulate response to life’s uncertainties. But, no. ‘Holy Shit!’ is all I’ve got.
The good news is that there wasn’t any oncoming traffic. I got lucky and let the car slide into the other lane and pretended the U-turn was intentional. The car seemed to sense my intent and stalled on me out of spite. I don’t think I fooled anyone.
So, the moral of this story is-when life seems to spin out of control. Do what I do. Hold on tight and scream, ‘Holy Shit!’ Then pretend you planned it that way. Who knows? It might work better for you.

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Free Kitten
Saturday, March 09, 2013
Twelve years ago, my wife brought home a kitten she found on the bike trail. We live along the American River and people often dump unwanted animals.
The cat was pure-white with vibrant, blue eyes, a male, and shamelessly ingratiating. She held him up and said, "Can we keep him? He's free."
We already had two cats, which seemed sufficient, but the kitten and my wife had bonded. I was out-voted. We kept the kitten.
That was about twenty thousand dollars ago. The kitten had Inflamed Bowel Syndrome-go figure. My wife didn't care. It was love.
I looked at the web sites for other authors and they have contests for free notebooks and phones. I've been thinking about giving away a slightly-used, slightly-surly, free kitten.


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